Thursday, April 28, 2011

Busy Bee

Marc's parents have been here all week and I've been absent from computering. Sometimes having houseguests can be difficult, but this week has really been just a blessing. I was feeling really tired and overwhelmed. I'll be honest, I don't know how to parent a five year old. I totally buy into heart oriented discipline. I think it is SO important not just to change behavior but to mold hearts, the problem is I have no clue how to really do it. I often feel like I am talking too much and lose her at "hello". I was kind of losing perspective. Marc has been working a lot. He's been tired and his list of "to do"s was growing by the minute.

Nayla and Sherril have been a needed break for us. The kids have forgotten their spring fever and are excited about their grandparents. Nayla and Sherril LOVE my kids. They invest in them, spend time with them and it's allowed me to step back and forget about being overwhelmed and just remember how wonderful my kids are. Their imperfections aren't as glaring when I am able to breathe a little deeper, pray a little more, and PLAY a little more. My inlaws are work horses. They come and help and help and help. It is a blessing. I've been able to chip away at my to do list; Sherril has chipped away at Marc's. Yessirree, God has really given us a gift this week and I am so so thankful. My blog may not be getting done, but my house is getting spring cleaned and organized (absolute heaven for this OCDer).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Easter Weekend

As my kids grow, I want our home to be a home of celebration and tradition. We want our children to see Christ in our day to day lives and in these traditions that we set. We don't want Easter and Christmas to be about candy and presents, but to focus on Jesus. There are many ways to do this. I am not particularily creative, but to quote a friend I am "resourceful". That is just a nice way of saying I take other peoples ideas and tweak them to fit our family.

To set the tone, the kids awoke to a cross draped in black. The tablecloth was also black.

After breakfast, they each painted a cross. They were to paint it any way the wanted but it was supposed to show how thankful they were to Jesus.

Ava definitely understood this year and took great care in making her cross.

Then they wrote on their crosses. (I wrote on Phin's obviously. Ava wrote "Thank you, Jesus (complete with backwards J;) I love you, Ava." (melted my heart!)

After dinner and Grammy and Babb's arrival, we did the "Easter mountain" from Noel Piper's book on Christian Traditions. Marc told the story of Jesus crucifixion.

Then Ava placed Jesus in the tomb.

...and Phin placed the stone.

Jesus stayed in the tomb all weekend.

Then, I passed out large index cards. Each card has the persons photo on one side and a verse about Christ's sacrifice on the other. We read the verses aloud.

Finally, we placed our pictures at the foot of the cross to remind us that Jesus died for OUR sins, each one of us.

We went to bed with thankful hearts, but also contemplative hearts. Our Lord suffered on our behalf. It's so much to comprehend! The black remained on Saturday, as the Light of the World was 'out'. The kids watched a claymation movie on the life of Christ on Saturday evening. The crucifixion had great impact this year on Ava.


I wanted my kids to feel the celebration as soon as the entered the kitchen. The black cloth on the table was changed to white; there were flowers and balloons. Jesus was no longer in the grave. Music was playing in celebration.

The empty tomb...what cause for celebration. Our Lord has conquered the grave and LIVES.

Easter Morning the Cross was draped in white and surround by blooming flowers. It's a celebration! HE HAS RISEN!

Chloe's first Easter Basket...she LOVED her soft brown bunny.

My three monkeys with their Easter baskets, waiting to be filled.

Easter Egg Hunting

We had twenty two "Resurrection Eggs." I had made with my mom's group a couple of weeks ago. Each egg contains a prop to be opened in order as the Easter Story is read. (My favorite is the egg that contains a small section of a branch with thorns to be opened when talking about the crown of thorns. It had great impact when my children could actually touch the thorn with their fingers and therefore better imagine how painful it would be to have a crown of them jammed on their head!) The final egg was EMPTY because the TOMB WAS EMPTY on Easter morning. Jesus is ALIVE!

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Following Mom's Advice

We are never to old to need our moms;) My mom is practical- very practical. If I call her complaining, she'll say, "I understand" but she doesn't really let you sit and mope. She offers advice and tells you "you can do it" and sends you on your merry way. Her advice is usually very good, which is why, of course, I so appreciate her;)

She had three kids under four at one time, too. She gets the insanity. She also knows how much it stinks to "lose it" with you kids, cuz she lost it a time or too (ssshhh, don't tell her I told you!:).
Anywho- yesterday she said, try turning it around and thinking of positively changing their behavior. Instead of continually correcting their negative behavior, remember to focus on positive and get them excited about good behavior. I totally needed to regain perspective. Sometimes when you are in the trenches you lose perspective.

So last night, I developed a new plan with my kids. We got back out our mason jar and little ball pom poms. If Ava makes it until lunch time without tattling, she puts a ball in. She has another opportunity to earn a ball between lunch and dinner and a third between dinner and bedtime. Already this morning she tattled, but the wonderful thing is that right away she caught herself and said, "OH MAN! i better try again after lunch."

Phin can earn a ball too if he obeys right away when I give him instructions. When they fill the jar, we'll go to the waterpark. This is the first time we've involved Phin in the jar filling exercise- it will be good to get the working together toward something, I think.

Just having a plan feels good, cuz I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. Thanks mom, yet again, for helping me screw my head back on straight and restore peace to my heart and home;)

She also did tell me to ask Ava how she'd feel if I tattled on her to Papa all the time. Similar to what my Aunt Judy said. Maybe I DO do I'll be careful to keep my daily "updates" to Marc for after bedtime!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Inadequate Parenting

It is snowy and gloomy here today. I a grumpy and the kids are grumpy. It's a recipe for disaster and our morning ended up being just that- a disaster! I let the kids watch a little too much TV because I was reading a book (I know, you envy my wonderful mothering skills, don't you?!). This makes them even grumpier. I had two mean, disobedient children and a grumpy mama. They weren't obeying and my patience wore thin. I ended up yelling at them and just totally losing my cool.

Thank God for nap time. I was able to confess my sins, inadequacies, and weaknesses and beg him for wisdom and strength. My two grumperoos were able to sleep. The truth is his mercies are new every morning AND every afternoon in our house;)

When the kids got up I sat them down and this was the conversation.

Me: Hey guys mom wants to talk to you for a minute.
Ava: I guess you didn't forget about that situation.
Me: What situation?
Ava: the one where you told us to clean up our stuff in the basement but we just made a bigger mess for you to clean up
Me: You are right. I didn't forget that, but I also didn't forget that I lost my temper and yelled at you guys.
Ava: I know and now you are going to apologize.
(let me interject here to say that when she said this I no longer wanted to apologize. I am still grumpy after all. I wanted to stick her butt back in her room, but alas...God helped me keep it together;)
Me: yes, I am sorry for yelling and ask your forgiveness, but I also want to talk about starting our day over right now. I am going to forgive you guys for your behavior, but starting right now- no sassy mouth from you, no ignoring mommy from Phin and I need obedience from both of you. It is my job to help you learn to obey and have hearts that honor God. I make mistakes and you do too, but God can help us all have better hearts. Mommy shouldn't have yelled, i should have stayed calm, but I SHOULD have corrected your behavior.
Ava: Okay Mom
Phin: Okay Mom- can we watch a show?

AYE...I think perhaps the only repentant heart is mine, but so far the afternoon has been a bit better. Parenting is hard. I feel terrible for yelling and am trying to think of good ways to discipline, especially this new sassy mouth and tattling thing Ava is doing. I sure hope my husband has some good wisdom to offer when he gets home. Right now I don't feel like I have it all together. I'm just praying God gives me wisdom- I feel completely inadequate! Anyone else ever have these kind of days?!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Morning Conversations

Phin quite happily proclaiming, "Poopy! Poopy! Poooooopy!....Poopy, Poopy, Poopy."

Me: "Phin, that's enough we don't just say "poopy"

Phin, with very sly grin, doesn't miss a beat- "Toot"

Welcome to life with a young boy. I should have further corrected potty talk perhaps, but he caught me off guard and I burst out laughing. He's still young; I will try to have him trained for his future wife, but it just may take me all 18 years;0)

Celebrating New Life

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. What a significant day! Jesus road through Jerusalem on a donkey. At that time, Kings road in Chariots during time of war and donkeys during time of peace- He is our Prince of Peace. Probably elsewhere in the city lambs to be used for Passover where being brough through a separate gate- He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. People proclaimed, "Hosanna!", which means, "Save us Now"- He is our Savior.

It is hard to imagine that just four days later he was betrayed and the next day brutally, brutally beaten and killed. It's almost insane to try to grasp, but the human heart is so decietful, so fickle...and so easily swayed by the influence of others.

It is hard to explain all of this significance to my kids. Rather hard to know how much of the discussion they grasp, but we tried to talk about the significance of the lambs that were used for passover and how Jesus is our Lamb, Our King,and the ONLY source of Salvation and Eternal Life.

After we talked about the new life Christ offers, we decorated Easter Eggs. Originally a pagan symbol or fertility, christians have reclaimed them to be signs of new life. We had great fun decorating our eggs.

We begin...and yes, Chloe wasn't too happy;)

The kids had a blast.

Mister Silly liked to give orders or drop eggs in dye, but didn't want to patiently dip, himself. (Chloe now happily standing by mommy)

Praise God for New Life, for Jesus Sacrificial Death and for the RESURRECTION! He is RISEN!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

He's ALIVE;)

Today, we started a new tradition, borrowed from my friend Nikki. We made resurrection rolls. I love little ways to bring the Easter story to life for my kids. I have little ones who LOVE to help cook, so this one was a big hit. We chose to do it today for a strictly practical reason- we have two extra little ones staying with us. Marc and I are both on Weight Watchers, so this way we had more little mouths to eat up the gooey goodies and we weren't tempted with left overs;)

First you start with a triangle of crescent roll dough.

A Marshmallow represents the body of Christ (post death on the cross).

You dip the Marshmallow in butter to represent the oil used at burial.

Then in cinnamon sugar to reprsent the spices.

Then you bury him in the tomb (the dough)

Making sure all edges are tightly sealed.

Bake them according the to directions on package.

When they're done, the tomb is EMPTY!



(Truly it was so fun. The kids were SO AMAZED and excited. We talked about how important the resurrection was because though it is Christ's love that kept him on the cross, it is his resurrection that gives us freedom from sin. It's cool to see Ava really understanding that this year!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting back ME

I started weight watchers last Monday. Working out and just trying to cut back on my own wasn't working. I need accountability. It's been interesting. I didn't realize, until I started recording every little thing I ate, that my eating habits had gotten so weird.

I rarely eat a good lunch or breakfast because I am rushing taking care of the kids, etc. Then when I am starving at night I eat too much right before bed. Just fixing that has uprighted my metabolism, I think. I feel so good.

If I blog about this, there is even more accountability. So wk. 1 update- weight loss=3 lbs. Which I AM THRILLED about. I have 5 lbs. to go until I am at pre-Chloe weight and 1o-15lb.s until I am in my goal range. If I lose 20- I'll be at my wedding weight, but since I am no longer 23, I don't care too much about that;)

The new weight watchers program is great. It isn't easy to do in some sense cuz you need their calculator to figure out points, but I have not felt hungty and unable to eat anything. I feel satisfied and healthy. I am eating more fruits and veggies and drinking more water because they have little boxes online I check every day and as silly as it sounds, I get so motivated to get the right number checked and see the little blue smiley face appear. Who knew a little blue happy face would make ME so happy. More than anything, once I got over craving coke and chocolate (which I can still have as a treat if I play my day right), I feel so good and like myself again. This is how I used to eat and my kiddos threw me for a loop; I started grazing and going for grab-n-go items. This is good. I feel comfortable in my own skin again just cuz I am taking care of myself. Go me!

(P.S. I may take a bathing suit picture of myself for "before" and "after" just for fun...but I am not posting it until the after, cuz there is no need for self humiliation. Let's just focus on the positive motivation for now;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


We spent the weekend in Chicago, our old stomping grounds. Marc attended a prayer retreat at our old church (his area of ministry while he was there). I was able to spend Saturday with my dear friend Roxanne.
Marc sent me a text Friday that said, "Ugh! Feels so good to be here." I got him. He was back in a place where he had thrived in ministry and thus far here in Sheboygan, God hasn't shown Marc what he wants him to do aside from wait. Waiting is hard. Yet waiting is consistently something God calls us to. "Those that wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount on wings of eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) I just know the Lord is strengthening Marc, but sometimes in the waiting period we don't FEEL very strong. Saturday he was able to participate is the prayer ministry there once again and had a phenomenal time praying for people. God has gifted my husband with the ability to hear insights and impressions for people. Being used of God is always humbling and a blessing. I worried Marc may feel discontent returning home or thinking of returning home. Instead, I saw the maturity my husband has. He loved being able to pray for people and yet he knew without a doubt that God had moved us on. His place isn't at First Free anymore. He loved being there, but had distinct clarity that he is where God wants him in Sheboygan. I had a lovely day on Saturday with Roxanne. She is beyond precious. Being able to talk with her (my mom watched my younger kids) and hear of her heart for Africa is such a priviledge. Iron sharpens Iron, according to scripture. She sure sharpens me. I was so humbled however when I thought on that passage. I am not sure I am iron, myself, sometimes, but I can only hope God can use me in her life too, for he uses her profoundly in mine. Our daughters played. Ava has a special place in her heart for Anni and she just cried on the way back to my moms. Perhaps praying for her friend regularily has cemented a deep love for Anni in Ava's heart. Watching them play, walk holding hands, and just be kids was heartwarming. Today was a picture perfect day in Chicago. It was in the 80s and sunny. People were out everywhere. The diversity was a welcome change for us. We were able to worship at First Free. Every church has it's strengths and weaknesses. Worship is definitely a strength of the body at First Free. It isn't about a flashy worship leader in any sense, though certainly he is talented. It is about a congregation that pours its heart out to God as it sings. I loved singing my heart out at the top of my lungs and not standing out, because everyone else was doing the same. I stopped singing just to listen. I swear it was a foretaste of heaven. The bible says God is enthroned on our praises. Let me tell you, this congregation eagerly builds that throne. It is authentic and heartfelt. It is beautiful....not flashy, but beautiful, joyous, real. It was wonderful to be in a church we'd worshipped in for ten years. To know so many people, to love so many people and to give hugs and updates. Children have changed SO much, but so have adults. They all looked so beautiful. It is a church that we grew in, we learned in, we failed in and we succeeded in. We loved and were loved there and returning was really a blessing. I feared that I would ache when we left, but I didn't. I appreciated the opportunity to see people and to worship there, but I left with a heart similar to Marc's. It was clear to me that we don't belong there anymore. I felt loved there but I no longer felt at home, because God has made a new home for us. We are starting to love and be loved here and while we don't have the same history, we have our future here. Instead of leaving with longing, we left with appreciation. Appreciation both for what we had and for what we now have. We left with assurance that we are right where we are supposed to be. As the weekend draws to a close, I am just humbled. I don't deserve the gifts God gives and yet he bestows them so generously. He not only provides for our physical needs, but our emotional ones as well. He knew I needed to visit Chicago and enjoy it but also see for myself that indeed it no longer fits us. God grew us there and prepared us for here. I can't help but wonder how he'll use us here in Sheboygan. I don't know how long he has us here (we think for a long time;), but I can't wait to look back and see new ways he grew us and used us. Life is such an adventure...I'm sure glad the One who Holds the Future is the one steering;)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Heavy Heart

I had a bad dream last night. It doesn't happen to me often, so it's really stayed with me this morning. I can't even call it a nightmare necessarily; I had a dream that I had another miscarriage. What's weird is that a) I am not pregnant (yes I am sure) and b) I haven't had a miscarriage in three years and have had two healthy babies since then. I've been trying to ponder what triggered the dream cuz it's thrown me on an emotional roller coaster!

Tuesday night in bible study we were discussing Psalm 139. Our leader had a recent U/S picture of her baby granddaughter and we talked about God knitting us in our mothers wombs and how he knows all our days and has known them since we were first conceived. He knew our personalities, our passions, etc. I had a fleeting thought as she was speaking re. God knowing our two lost babies so well and me not even knowing their names, characteristics, etc.

I suppose this bothered me more than I realized. My dream replayed the emotions I experienced with both of my miscarriages. At first it was surreal. Almost hard to grasp. It was weird. I didn't shed a tear with the first one until I stood up from a toilet filled with blood and tissue and couldn't bring myself to flush. The physical pain couldn't compare to the emotional pain I felt in the moment. It is still so vivid. I remember I kept saying to Marc, "I don't know what to do. I don't have a choice, but how can a mom flush her baby down the toilet." The second time we miscarried I was instructed to bring the tissue into the lab. It was just traumatic. What do you put it in? The only disposable and clean container we had was a brand new spiderman tupperware. How crazy is that. You put your hopes and dreams in spider tuperware. That brought tears, let me tell you. Then I went to the lab and the doctors orders hadn't come through on the fax. I was trying to explain to the lab technician what the OB had told me and when she finally understood she exclaimed loudly enough for the others in the waiting room to hear, "WHAT?! you have fetal tissue in that bag?!" I remained calm, got through the waiting for her to call the doctor; I sat still as she drew my blood. I doubt she remembers her rudeness. I wish I could back and describe to her what I felt like so she would know to never treat someone so fragile like that again. Thankfully Marc's arms were strong enough to hold me when I returned.

God is good. I learned a lot through that time. I thought I was past it and I am past it. I am so thankful for the two subsequent children he's given us. I never imagined I'd experience feelings of grief again for children I'd never really known, but last night and still this morning I am feeling the loss. My dream was so vivid. In my dream, I didn't want to deal with the loss so I kept the tissue in a box in my room until Marc finally took care of it. Crazy and unrealistic at is was but I woke up at 3am in tears and unable to shake the sadness.

Life is full of loss. We lose love ones, we lose hopes and dreams. I am so thankful for a God who keeps each one of my tears in a bottle and is the keeper of my hopes, dreams, and heart.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review- When the Soul Mends

I just finished reading my first fiction book for review. I love reading fiction books. I recieved it yesterday at 3pm and am posting the review just about 24 hours later;) Yes! I have neglected a few chores today!

When the Soul Mends is a captivating story about an old order amish young women forced to make choices: the choice to forgive, the choice to return to the older order amish life she was raise in or remain in the modern world, the choice between the man who she once thought to be her soul mate and the man who helped rescue her.

The book is captivating. It takes you on an emotional journey and helps you ponder your own issues of grappling for forgiveness. Woodsmall does an excellent job of leading you on the adventure without giving away clues to how it will all resolve. I felt just as torn as Hannah (the main character) and found myself unable to put the book down without reaching the ending. The authors description of the simplicity of the old order life in contrast to the excitement of the modern world had me wishing I could live them both myself. She took me on an emotional and romantic journey that I thoroughly enjoyed each step of the way.

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The murmurings of a toddlers heart

I awoke to a scream very early this morning. It took me a minute to figure out which room the then wimpering was coming from. As I headed towards Phin's room I heard him say, "why you take my toy from me?!" Up arrival, the whimpering had subsided and he was mumbling, but he was sound asleep. He had been having a "nightmare". I returned to bed and left him to work it out;)

Oh that the only nightmare he ever experiences is trouble sharing toys.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Enlightened and Joyful

I was speaking with my friend Nicole last weekend and realized I had been having some insane thoughts;) As I was talking, I realized my emotions weren't necessarily logical and in fact not healthy.

We moved here to Sheboygan a year and two days ago;) What should have been a VERY stressful move, was effortless and easy. For the most part, we REALLY love it here. Our home is more peaceful. I didn't emotionally always "fit" with the city life style. I find the underlying stress we lived with gone. I hope I never take an attached garage or a large beautiful yard for granted. I find such joy in watching deer and turkeys roam in our back yard. Life here is slower paced. There is no traffic. For me, it often has felt like life is taking a deep breath and slow exhale. It's a blessing.

What has not always been easy is building community. My last two large moves were different. In college, you build friends quickly. Everyone is in the same boat, everyone is outgoing and intentional. Next, I moved to Chicago. I did that with my best friend. I had her from day one. Yes, we branched out and made other friends, but I never was "alone".

Our move here was a bit more difficult. Time is VERY limited. I have three small children (actually giving birth to number 3 here). Others already have their lives established. It's hard to know where you fit in. As I was talking to Nicole, I realized I have developed insecurities. I am outgoing. I have always had friends and one of my passions is being a good friend. But I have internally begun to question EVERYthing I do. If I do something nice for someone, I worry that they will think I came on too strong. If I call someone, I wonder if they hang up and are annoyed the new girl just took up their time. I was warned that with the culture here, one has to be outgoing and reach out. I am fine with that and I have been trying to put in much effort to do that. All the while, however, I worry people are annoyed. I wonder if people think I am a stalker. I wonder about whether or not to invite people over. If they say "We'd love to get together" but then never call, I wonder if they forgot or got busy or if they really didn't mean it;)

As I was talking to Nicole I realized what a waste of time this thinking becomes. As with every stage of life, I am called to love others. If I invite someone over and they say yes, I need to just welcome them into my home and hope they feel loved and supported here. I need to be friendly and allow time to show which relationships are meant to stick. Before moving here, my Aunt Lynda told me it takes about 18months to feel like a new place is home. It's been 12 and in many ways this already feels like home; I need to just be thankful. I need to take these self defeating thoughts captive and commit each day and each interaction to my Lord. He called us here and he has a place for us here. As I seek him, everything else falls into place.

It's a week after this "light bulb moment" and you know what- God has again been faithful. We had a WONDERFUL weekend. We got to connect with our care group and not one but TWO couples over a meal. WOW! God always blows my mind. I was able to enjoy myself (so much, in fact) and not act like an insecure blubbering idiot. I feel so very very thankful.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Moment Too Good Not to Share

As we were talking tonight at small group, I was reminded of a little moment that occured in our home on Wednesday afternoon. Another illustration of why I'll never be a supermom;)

I have a FABULOUS (and that is NO exaggeration) babysitter. She babysits for me every wednesday so that I can get errands done, go to mom's prayer time at school, work out, see a friend, etc. She does a great job not just taking care of my children but loving them. She is great.

Wednesday I had to pop in and grab something for my room. Hannah and Phin were playing in his room next door to mine. I hear her sending him to time out. He is crying. I, of course, did not interfere. I know her to be very fair and loving and I technically was 'not home'- she was in charge.

Imagine my parenting guilt, however, as I sneak down the stairs and I hear her saying, "Phin we do not lie. I know your mommy would not let you jump on the bed."

Okay here is the thing- I DO! I totally let him jump on his bed. It's winter. He's a two year old with energy. He wasn't lying. Crap- here he was in time out because I am a less than responsible parent.

What would you have done at that point? Just curious.

Perhaps aliens have invaded our home?!

Remember these sweet children? Remember when they loved each other; when she made him his very own piggy bank that said "Ava Phin Love" and he indeed LOVED the sorry looking little pig. The have somehow disappeared today. Is it a full moon by any chance?

These little munchkins woke up from nap (rest time in Ava's case) and apparently got out of the wrong side of their individual beds. It was as if there was a conspiracy to drive mommy insane. They were up for 30 minutes. In that time they each had multiple time outs. They were at each others throats, just bugging one another. I sat them down and talked to them about 15 minutes ago; I tried to remind them that they love one another and can have fun together when they work together. I also warned them that I have a headache and I wasn't going to put up with their screaming and being mean to one another. Apparently, they didn't take me seriously.

They are now both back in their rooms until their father gets home. I even ACTUALLY said, "you may now both go to your rooms until your father get's home." I became THAT mom. I am surprised they even knew who I was talking about. I can't remember ever before calling Marc "you father":).

Admittedly, I probably over did the discipline, but I have a headache and now it is quiet...well, except for the faint sound of a two year old and a four year old crying "I don't want to be in my room". On the up side, they are fortunate that Marc leaves work early on Friday and that he'll be home in about 15 minutes. Guess we just don't follow the time out= one minute for every year of the child's age thing...

Here's hopin' to a better evening complete with the disappearance of the imposter hoodlums and the return of my adorable children!