Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

For my children

One of my friends posted a thought-provoking question on her blog the other day: I wonder if you believe (whether you have children or not) that one should have a plan before entering a lifetime of parenthood.  A goal.  A hope and a dream.  As in, “I am having children because I believe it is my religious duty.”  Or, “We are having children because we believe we can raise a child that will change the world.”  And when you have a child, you are always thinking about that reason in the back of your mind.  I had kids in order that … dot dot dot.
Perhaps this is clearer: Why should someone- anyone- have children? 

As I thought about my answer to this, I realized that this is something my children need to know. They need to know how they came to be. They need to know that the Lord planned each of them from the beginning and put them into our family at just the right time. They need to know that human plans fail sometimes, but the Lord's plans never, ever do. So, this is a story for my kids to read someday, but perhaps you will enjoy reading it, too. You will find out things you didn't know about me or about our little family, and I hope you will come to see how great and wonderful is the Lord's plan for each of us.

I always assumed I would be a mom at some point, because that’s generally just what one does. Jeff and I sort of loosely planned to wait about five years after we were married to start “trying.” We made our plans, but our plans turned out not to be quite what the Lord had for us.
I was taking birth control pills when Jeff and I got married. It soon became clear that my body didn’t react well to The Pill. Everything went haywire. Five different hormonal birth control options later, with my body completely confused about what it was supposed to do, I decided to give it up completely. At that point, it became necessary to consider parenthood on a more serious level. And not at all according to our plan. It was time to just see what the Lord had in store for us.
It was almost a year before we conceived. A crazy year, in which I went from wondering if I was ready to be a parent to wondering if I ever would (could) be one. I was thrilled and terrified when I found out I was pregnant. But I was also in love. And then, I was involved in a crazy accident just two weeks before Ruth was born, which made me evaluate the pregnancy anew. It was then that I knew that I didn’t just WANT to be a mom; I NEEDED to be a mom. It was what I was meant to do. Holding Ruth in my arms for the first time, I felt more like “me” than I ever had.
Still, it took us quite a while to decide to have another baby. We wondered if we would be able to love another child like we loved the first. We wondered if our lives weren't already complete with just the one child. We had always thought we would have several children, but suddenly we weren't so sure about that. 
But, eventually, it just felt like something was missing. It felt like our family wasn't truly complete, and we were ready to add another little miracle. Turns out, Weston was just the piece that was missing. 
The decision to have #3 was much easier, and so we set to work on it pretty quickly. I was thrilled when I found out I was pregnant…and devastated when I miscarried. I grieved long and hard over that lost child, and was still grieving a couple of months later when I began to feel like something strange was going on with my body. Thinking that it wasn’t even possible for me to get pregnant so quickly after the miscarriage (according to the opinions of several medical professionals), we were shocked to learn that I was, in fact, pregnant. My reaction was one of anger. I couldn’t understand why our plan to have a baby had been rejected in favor of this new plan. I was still grieving and did not even want to consider being happy about the pregnancy or about the thought of being a mom again. I was almost saying in my heart that I wanted it my way or no way. 
After wrestling with God for a while, I did get happy about the new addition. And I came to appreciate the opportunity to have my faith tested and strengthened. I had always claimed that the Lord’s plans were better than my plans, but I had never had the two plans so contradict each other. The Lord’s plans really are better. I couldn’t imagine not having my Max! But that is also the kid that made me think I was definitely done having babies. He was (and is) a challenge in so many ways.
Then, a little over a year ago, we had a “surprise.” It wasn’t planned, but it happened, and we were thrilled! We were glad, once again, that our plans hadn’t worked out and that the Lord was going to give us one more. After 2 excited months, I lost that baby. And again, I grieved. But the time of mourning finally came to an end, and we realized that our little family still didn’t feel complete. So, now there is another bun in the oven, who we are looking forward to meeting in early May.

It has been quite a road, with lots of ups and a few downs. But why did we chose this journey? It’s because, for us, there was a deep desire to give of ourselves, to shape lives, to love almost beyond our capacity to comprehend, and to fulfill, what we felt like, was the Lord’s calling on our lives. There was so much we didn’t know–that we couldn’t even have imagined–when we started down this path. There is still so much we don’t know. But we wouldn’t trade one moment, not one experience (even the heartbreaking ones!), for this chance to be parents and to see just a glimpse of the Lord’s project from the Father’s perspective. It is truly an amazing and wonderful journey!
Ultimately, the only plan for having children that makes any sense at all is to determine to go along with the Lord's plan, whatever it may be. There are couples who want to have children and can't. There are others who don't want children and are extremely fertile. I honestly don't know why this is. We all make our plans, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). And His plans are always perfect.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A few of my favorite things

This little pad is a lifesaver. It's magnetic, so it's always handy for marking things as they are used up (or about to be). Also, it's arranged by grocery department, so it streamlines the shopping a bit. I'm a list person, and I love this one!
These are a must in my household, and I'm not really brand picky. I have literally used these things on whole walls in my house, and I never cease to be totally impressed.

Makes everything delicious! Awesome as a dip, as a spread and as a sauce. Love it so much! The only problem is that there isn't a store nearby!

For perfectly heated and frothed warm drinks.
Mandi's soon-to-be famous chai mix + milk + Cocomotion = Heaven in a mug
(Ours was WAY cheaper than the one in the link). 

The New International Reader's Version of the Bible. Easy enough for Weston to read, but not watered down.

I have used several brands of home dry cleaning sheets, and this is definitely my pick. So much cheaper and faster than taking things to the cleaner's.

Absolutely anything I can imagine,  usually at the best possible price, delivered to my door in two days. Simply amazing!

A must for the fair-skinned crowd. I have never once gotten burned while using this (in accordance with he label), which I certainly can't say for all sunscreens, and it never burns little (or big) eyes. I also like Banana Boat Kids.

After homemade, this is simply the best there is!

Christian-based, heavily academic support group and part-time school for homeschoolers. We absolutely love our CC group!

Where else can you get a big-as-your-face burrito and creamy jalepeno sauce?! 

I will admit that I'm addicted. I need my Diet DP around 10:00 every morning. (And sometimes, I even have one in the afternoon as well)!

Makes the best enchiladas I have ever eaten! I think it's only sold in NM now, but I have found a place to buy it online.

Makes a great grab-n-go breakfast or a guilt-free snack. Even works for dessert if you're watching your figure. 

Goody Ouchless Flexible Barrettes. They hold a little or a lot of hair in place, without pinching or poking.

The best birthday present I ever got! This thing makes me smile. Every. Single. Time. The back massage is awesome, but I also really love the foot massage.

Because reptiles need all the help they can get! I apply it after my shower in the morning and can actually feel the moisture all day. Plus, the kids can use it, too.

Yummy and healthy, and more fun than square bread. My kids will even eat it--even though it isn't white bread.

Drying and styling in one easy step. And, with 3 2/3 kids, I need to save all the time I can getting ready. It also adds life and definition to a neglected, already dry, a la natural style. 

I have found more useful and practical info. in this magazine than any other I've ever read. I look forward to getting it every month.  

Great for bathrooms, yes. But also works wonders on kitchen counters and other areas in need of a good scrubbing.

I'm a flip-flop girl, and I love these Switch Flops because they are just pure genius. Bottom stays the same, top strap changes to fit your mood and style. Perfect for traveling! Also, very comfortable.

Happy hour. Huge flavored drinks. Styrofoam cups that keep drinks cold forever. Awesome ice. Need I say more?!

These are perfect for removing splinters, shards of glass and cactus prickles from skin, which we seem to do a lot of around here.  And they are also well-suited for working on ingrown toenails. 

This book gave me the courage (and curriculum!) to homeschool. It has a prominent place on the bookshelf and is referred to often. 
Jeans by day. Pajamas by night. Very comfy and a great companion for a road trip.
*No one paid me to tell you these things. I just thought you might be interested in some of my favorite things. I'd love to know what some of your favorite things are.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Big, big boys

My boys had their yearly well-visits with our new pediatrician today. After checking them out and declaring them to be very healthy, she did a double take at the growth charts--especially Weston's. At 4'1" and 65 pounds, he is literally off the charts for both height and weight, as compared to other kids his age. And she estimates that when he is full-grown, he will probably be between 6'3" and 6'5"--and her guess is that he'll be closer to the high end of that. Max is also quite a big boy. At 39 in. and 37.5 pounds, he ranks around the 75th-80th percentile for height and the 90th percentile for weight--which is absolutely amazing for a child who refuses to eat at least half the time and is in a state of constant motion! The doctor was impressed with all the skills both boys possess and thought they were both quite cute. (I think we will really enjoy having her for a doctor, since her opinions align so well with my own)! :) I'm so proud of my big boys and am preparing myself for the day when I literally have to look up to them!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Birthday Party

Train Cake

Lighting the candle

Make a wish


Swing, Batter!

Maybe try chopping

So soft!

Max's "peter"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And, so, I bought sausage...

For those of you who either don't shop at HEB or who don't have children, HEB offers "Buddy Bucks" to kids as they come through the check-out line. The kid then puts the "buck" into a little machine, presses the big red button and receives a sticker with a number on it that indicates a number of points. The kid is then supposed to place the sticker in a special little book and collect point-based prizes on future visits to the store. (We never can keep up with these books, so my kids are usually encouraged just to be happy that they got a sticker)! The machine also holds a few special stickers that proclaim the lucky recipient an "Instant Winner."

So, this evening, while we were walking through HEB, frantically filling the shopping cart according to "The List," I overheard Weston say to his sister, as we passed a bin advertising a special on smoked sausage: "If I get an "Instant Winner" sticker, I'm going to ask them if I can just trade in the prize for some of that sausage!"

And, so, I bought sausage. Even though it wasn't on "The List." Because a growing boy shouldn't have to depend on the luck of the draw when all he wants is sausage!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Household Chores

One of the legacies that Jeff and I want to leave our kids is the ability to work hard and to take responsibility for themselves. So, in our household, everyone has jobs to do. Some jobs are for pay--so the kids learn that hard work pays off. And some jobs are to be done for no pay--so the kids learn that they have a contribution to make in this family and that there are some things that have to be done, whether you are rewarded for them or not.

You might think that this distribution of household chores would make my day a bit easier. But, you'd be wrong. There are things for each person to do that they are perfectly capable of--but they have to be taught, and they have to be supervised VERY closely. And, often, the task and teaching have to be repeated many, many times. A child can't see individual crumbs or pieces of trash on the floor that need to be cleaned up. Each piece must be pointed out to them. A child doesn't clean the house like a professional (or even a fairly sloppy non-professional), and often will just move the mess around from place to place, leaving as much work to be done AFTER the cleaning is done (if not more) than there was before.

As a bit of a perfectionist, it is tempting for me to say, "Oh, forget it! I'll just do it myself." After all, I can do the job faster and better and without asking a million questions about how or why it should be done. But, when that temptation comes, I have to remind myself that it doesn't benefit the kids a bit if I always step in and take over, and it doesn't really matter if the clothes are folded the "right" way or if the dishes aren't rinsed as thoroughly as I would do it. The important thing is what the kids are learning. And, they are learning!

Having the kids help out around the house doesn't really save me much time or energy at this point (though I know it will at some point in the future), but it is gratifying to know that they are learning some important skills that will serve them well, long after they have left my house. They are learning to be responsible and how to work hard--and how to enjoy it. And, as a bonus, I have the opportunity to practice patience multiple times a day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hey there, Boy-o!

You are "quee"-years-old today! Isn't that amazing?! We all survived the last year and are all better for it. :) It's true that "that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Dad and I didn't kill you during any of your rebellious streaks (nor did you do us in), and you didn't kill yourself with any of your daredevil activities, though we sometimes wondered how you survived running yourself into a wall and knocking yourself out cold, falling out of a chair and splitting your head open and attempting to cut off one of your fingers with a box cutter (to name a few). Your activity level, both in dangerous and non-dangerous activities, has often prompted us to call you "our twins, Max."

You have changed a lot in the last year. You have become even more independent and have learned many new things. You can sing the entire ABC song now, and you have learned to spell, not only your name, but also Ruth's and Weston's, as well. You like to sit and "read" books by yourself sometimes, and you like to "write" and draw. You love to count, and you have learned many of the CC history songs by listening to your brother and sister.

Speaking of your brother and sister, you have really been enjoying their company more and more in the last year. You especially love to play outside with Weston--jumping on the trampoline, looking for bugs, shooting "guns," finding interesting rocks and sticks and just adventuring. You have become quite adept at riding your tricycle, and it's neat to see you wheeling around all over the place.

You have become much more affectionate in the last year, often giving spontaneous hugs, kisses and "I love yous." You will also sit in a lap for a period of time, especially if someone will read you a book.

Your very best friend and almost-constant companion is Charlie Beetle, a stuffed monkey you got for your birthday last year. You and he are just about inseparable. You love to sleep with him, tell him secrets, reserve a special seat for him at the breakfast table and take him on many of your adventures. And woe to us all if we fail to take him with us when we travel.

You have fallen in love with trains this year, and you're especially fond of Thomas and his friends. You even got to see and ride on the real Thomas in October, which was one of the highlights of your year. Playing with your trains is one of the only activities that can hold your attention for longish periods of time. You have spent many happy hours at train tables at various children's museums this year, which is why we decided to get you one of your own for your third birthday. We hope it will be a source of joy and entertainment for you in the days, weeks, months and even years to come.

You are still our picky eater, eating only when it's your idea. This isn't to say that you don't like a lot of different foods. We often laugh at the things you are willing to eat, things that most two-year-olds would have shied away from. We had a vacation to Washington D.C. back in May, and you went crazy for a cashew shrimp dish we ordered in China Town. We have seen you eat stewed prunes, elk, venison, many kinds of soup, onions, tomatoes, coleslaw, and olives with gusto. But, again, only when it's your idea. One thing you are not picky about, though, is sweets. You will eat anything sweet, at any time.

And, you've had lots of sweets this year, as rewards for going potty. You wear underwear most of the time now (except at night), and you only have accidents occasionally. We are very proud of you for your progress and are sure you will be completely potty-trained before too long.

You love to sing and often make up your own songs, which keeps us all entertained. You also love to pray and read the Bible. Your prayers have matured in the last year, which is a blessing. However, you are a bit competitive when it comes to praying. You definitely want to make sure your voice is heard.

You have a crazy and fun fashion sense, and it is always exciting to see what kinds of outfits you put together. They almost always include your cowboy boots and very often some interesting accessory, like a necktie or hat. Though you do love clothes, you are not the least bit hesitant about running around in your birthday suit. Shy and modest, you are not.

Max, you are such a sweet boy and so full of life! It is a pleasure to watch you learn and grow every day. You challenge us sometimes, but you are mostly a delight, and you constantly make us laugh. Daddy and I love you so much and are so thankful for the opportunity just to know you and to be a part of your world. Happy 3rd Birthday!


Friday, January 07, 2011

A poem by Ruth

Ruth wrote this poem for me earlier this week and left it on my bathroom counter for me to find. I love that kid!

Mothers are funny, 
Mothers make me laugh.
Sometimes they are stern, 
Other times, well, silly.
Mothers are different. 
Mothers are the same. 
But I like my mother
How she is.

by Ruth Watts

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Punching Game

[Just before lunch]

Weston (running in from outside and almost breathless): Max has a bloody nose.

Mom: Really?! What happened?

Weston: We were playing The Punching Game, and I punched him in the nose.

Mom: You punched your brother in the nose?! Please go wait for me on your bed.

[Mom exits the building to assess the situation. What she finds is one small boy, struggling to get off the trampoline and put his boots on, whose face, hands and jeans are smeared with bright red blood]

Mom: What happened Max?

Max: Weston punched me in the nose.

Mom: Were you playing The Punching Game?

Max: Yes.

Mom: If I were you, I wouldn't play that game anymore.

[Mom cleans up the little one and turns her attention to the big one]

Mom: Please tell me why you punched your brother in the nose.

Weston: We were playing The Punching Game. He punched me and then I decided to punch him back.

Mom: Didn't you think you might hurt him if you punched him in the nose?

Weston: Well, I didn't know I was going to punch him in the nose, because I wasn't looking.

Mom: So, you were just randomly punching with your eyes closed?

Weston: No, my eyes were open; I just had my head turned so I couldn't see where I was punching.

Mom: But are you supposed to be punching at all?

Weston: No.

[Mom administers justice and strictly forbids any future playing of "The Punching Game"]

Monday, January 03, 2011

Here a truck, there a truck

Much to the delight of my boys, we are in the truck business around here. Actually, we are in the house building business, but that requires lots of trucks. There have been bucket trucks, dump trucks, backhoes, trailers, bobcats and all manner of delivery trucks. For my boys, this is paradise. For me, it is also exciting, but for completely different reasons. For me, it means tangible progress on our new home! I get almost giddy when a delivery truck shows up, and I can put something else in our new least in my mind. In reality, most of the deliveries are being stored in my father-in-law's barn. (Thank you, Maxie)! We have received sinks, faucets, toilet seats, ventilation fans, an ice machine (which was damaged beyond usability and had to be returned), and just today, a whirlpool bathtub and a soda fountain (you know, just the basics). Out on our land, we have 150 tons of stone, a brand spankin' new septic system, a bright blue water pump and several truckloads of dirt.  And, we are expecting to receive electric poles and kitchen appliances just any day. Exciting stuff, for sure! The pictures don't really show any of the trucks, but they do show some of the progress--and they are mostly for my benefit, so I can keep track of what is happening out there and when. But, some of you may have been dying to see what a septic tank looks like, so there you go. I'm sure the house building pictures will get more interesting as we go along, but thanks for indulging me in my enthusiasm about this project.
exterior stone

septic tank

water pump

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I absolutely love a new year (though I cannot even believe it's already here)! There is just so much promise there, so much potential. It's like getting a clean slate, in some ways. Old mistakes cannot be undone, of course, but, as far as the mind's eye can see, there is nothing standing in the way of a year full of smart choices and amazing opportunities. It's like standing on the brink of something truly wonderful, and it's a great place to be! 2010 brought so much joy and change and even a little pain, from which I feel I have emerged a better person. And 2011 holds many new adventures for us in it's hand. We intend to embrace whatever this year has for us with enthusiasm and joy, and we pray that you will do the same. Let us all live this year to the fullest and enjoy every minute of the lives the Lord has given us! Happy New Year!