Tuesday, November 29, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

picking out our tree 

the first one Daddy unwrapped!

decorating our gingerbread A-frame*

*some candy may have been consumed in the process

putting ornaments on the tree: we had two FABULOUS helpers this year! Yay!

all finished!

Christmas is SO MUCH FUN with these two little loves!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

every day should be thanksgiving

Tonight as I tucked in an exhausted Maddie, she asked me why Thanksgiving couldn't be every day. I told her, "Well, you can celebrate Thanksgiving every day simply by remembering to be grateful for all of our blessings!" She replied, "Oh, good, " and turned over to go to sleep.

And we have SO MUCH to be thankful for. Just a bit of what I'm thanking God for today:

Thankful for clean water.

Thankful for a roof over my head

Thankful for plenty to eat:

Thankful for a family that loves me.

Thankful for a community that feels like family.

Thankful that none of my children are sick, suffering, or enslaved.

Thankful for a little boy who wants to kiss, hug, high-five AND fist-bump before going to bed.

Thankful for my hardworking hubby who amazes me with his integrity, faith, and love.

Thankful for Jennie's apple pie with whipping cream.

Especially thankful for JESUS, who makes Thanksgiving-every-day possible.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maddie: 58 Months

Dear Maddie,

This month started out with a girl's dream come true: a princess party with your besties. What fun to see you dressing up, applying makeup, dancing, singing and enjoying being a girl. I know your Heavenly Father looks down with such joy at the innocent, beautiful, treasured daughter of his. And he is teaching me every day how to nurture those precious parts to help you be the girl he's made you to be.

I don't remember who, but a few weeks back a friend likened you and Sam to the children's book characters Ruby and Max. Now, I've done this many times myself. That show is such a perfect example of what it is like to live with a self-assured, well-meaning, bossy big sister and quiet, sneaky, do-his-own-thing little brother. We checked a book out from the library and on one of the pages Max is counting and it goes like this:

 When we read this page aloud, you and I just cracked up. That is almost verbatim Sam-speak, though yours sounds more like, "A, 3, 2." Talk about hitting the nail on the head. (Truth be told, Ruby can be downright annoying. You are the sweetest big sister ever.)

Speaking of storybooks, last week after getting disciplined, you went and drew this picture of me:

It reminds me a lot of one of our favorite stories, Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse. When Lily's teacher makes her mad, instead of drawing her usual kind, loving, accurate portraits she makes this mean, ugly, fat teacher man who takes away kids' toys. As a matter of fact, I think you titled it, "Big, mean, fat Mama." Art Therapists would have a hey-day with this one! I thought it was really funny but Daddy made you apologize. A few minutes later you drew me more accurately, with a smile on my face. But this one was just too good to pass up. Lucky for you, it is forever immortalized on the blog.

I love the adventures you two plan and carry out. One day, after getting new rain boots and umbrellas (thanks, Costco!), it was a blustery day and you decided it was perfect umbrella weather. There the two of you stood there, leaves raining down in the wind, umbrellas high. It was classic.

That same day we rode the quarter rides and played at the Blackhawk play area. It's really getting too small for you guys and you move on quickly, but it was still fun for some late-afternoon shots:

And, as often happens these days, your sweet mood turned sour and you treated me like the paparazzi, demanding I stop taking pictures and put. the. camera. AWAY.

I am learning how to parent in the midst of the big storms of your life. At times your emotions come on like a horrible, rushing wind, sweeping away all logic and leaving me with a weepy, tragically sad and despondent little girl. I've been praying for wisdom in how to parent you when these emotions boil up, as it seems like nothing I do or say ever helps. Just this week you completely lost it one night after we shared how Samuel got his name. You yelled at us through tear-stained cheeks, "Give me a new name! Give me a new name that is a GOD name! My name means nothing!!!" Thankfully, in that moment, God gave me the wisdom to realize exactly what was happening. I started to tell the story of Adam and Eve, of the lies the snake told them to distract them from the truth. I called out the lie right in the middle of your sobs, "Satan is trying to get you to believe that you are not special to God, that God hasn't given you a name and a purpose. He is telling you that you are nothing, but, Maddie, because Christ is IN you, you are God's everything. Jesus put all those lies to death on the cross. Satan is in chains now because Christ is greater than him. You don't have to believe this lie. You just ask Jesus to crush Satan like a bug and remind you of the truth: you are chosen, you are forgiven, you are precious, you are treasured, you are a daughter of the King. No one can take that away."

And like that, as we prayed and talked, as we asked Jesus for help and told Satan to flee, the mood lifted. Even as I type, tears fill my eyes. God is changing my perspective with each passing day and I am seeing how the truth of WHO HE IS intersects EVERY CHOICE we make. In each moment we can choose to believe the lies of the deceiver or turn to the truth of the God who made us, who loves us, who died for us, and who lives and reigns forever.

What a blessing to be sharing the goodness of these lessons with you. I am so sorry that you have to suffer through the flaming arrows of the evil one. It is a burden of this broken world, but now I'm learning how to teach you to arm yourself, how to put on the armor of God, how to turn your thoughts to the truth and take lies captive. It is so freeing, sweetheart, and I pray that it becomes more and more regular in our home, in my parenting, and in your life.

I love you,


Sam: 32 Months (2 and 2/3!)

Dear Sambino,

On the seventh of this month, you turned 32 months, or two and two-thirds of a year! Amazing! Every day you just grow more and more into a fun, squirrelly, cuddly, silly, adventurous big boy. 

You love to be outside. Many of our adventures don't take us very far, as you and Maddie really love to stop and smell the roses, but it doesn't matter. Every adventure is fun with the two of you along. If she is the mastermind behind the operation, you are her mostly silent and always hilarious sidekick. You two are really quite a pair.

With big sis in pre-K five mornings a week, I've really been enjoying our three mornings together. We go on all sorts of fun dates to Costco, Trader Joe's, the Iron Horse trail, and the park. You are a really good sport about putting up with so many errands, though they usually involve some sort of delicious bribe. Delicious bribes are kind of your love language, now that I think about it. :)

With each month that passes you are saying more and more, forming more complete sentences and thoughts. You are able to communicate your wishes and fend for yourself most of the time, though your favorite sentence these days seems to be a simple, one-word "NO!" Yes, indeed, we've entered the twos. Just a few weeks ago you would happily do just about anything I asked: feed the dog, put your plate away in the sink, wash your hands for meals, grab shoes or a jacket from your closet. Now, you look at me, hold your ground, furrow your brow and yell, "NO!" Gone are the days of easy obedience. Bring it, brother. I've been at this game for two years with your sister and I'm quite the expert negotiator.

You love all things vehicular, especially motorcycles and "choo-choo trains." (You now call them by their full name. Hooray!) Nearly every day we talk about robots. You enjoy getting dirty (even picking up dog poop, gross). You have your own sense of style these days, making your choices extremely clear with aforementioned attitude. One day it was fireman boots (on the wrong feet), a nice twill jacket (without a shirt) and a cowboy hat. Another day it was a t-shirt with clip-on tie and boots. Frequently you don nothing more than your birthday suit and run around for hours, often leaving behind small puddles.

Speaking of puddles, this month you were standing outside the tub, ready to hop in, when you started to pee on the floor. You cut off the flow, hopped on the potty, and finished your business. I was so excited I did a happy potty dance and rewarded you with skittles. For the next two days you sat on the potty all the time, did nothing, then requested skittles. Once you realized that there was work involved, you eased right back into the old routine of just putting things back in your diaper and then sneaking your own candy when I wasn't looking.

Have I mentioned that you are sneaky? Gum and candy have the allure to provide some serious trouble. You are a sweet-toothed boy with the charisma to charm us into thinking about giving you extra treats and the brains to go and get yourself a treat even when we've said no. If only you weren't so darn cute!! You and that smile of yours.

This month you've loved helping Daddy around the house, with his coffee roasting projects, especially. I've rescued no fewer than five dangerous tools from your clutches, switching them out for the friendly, plastic black-and-decker toddler tool bench variety. You're just so much more interested in the real thing. Yep, you might save all your kisses for Mama, but you are Daddy's son, through and through.

We love you buddy. Thanks for keeping us laughing and keeping us on our toes.