Monday, April 27, 2015

My Little Tom Sawyer

Cameron had just come home with big news for Jake--he gets to go to his first day at cub scout camp this summer! Jake was over-the-moon excited, which made the next bit of news a bit easier to handle--we would be expecting him to work to pay for half of his fees to attend (a grand total of $10.) We have recently been installing a new fence and rearranging our front yard, so Cameron told Jake we would pay him $10 to move all the rocks in the front yard.

Jake eagerly ran outside, and we assumed he was getting right to work. We were wrong.

Minutes later he came inside, retrieved a can of coins that he keeps in his room, and headed back out. Our little entrepreneur had agreed with his friend across the street that he would pay him $1 to move rocks.

When I went out the next day I saw Jake standing by watching while his friend pushed on a crowbar to dislodge rocks.
Jake's friend hard at work
Not one but two neighbor boys working while Jake is MIA
I'm a big fan of reading classic literature to my kids. But I think the story of Tom Sawyer getting everyone else in town to paint the fence for him so he wouldn't have to is one we can skip. Jake's already got those lessons mastered.

Monday, April 20, 2015

In the Doghouse

Abby is a born mother. She has a naturally sweet, nurturing personality, and she is always looking for someone or something to care for.

Sometimes it's her little sister.
Emma really didn't love being pushed around in the girls' shopping cart, but such is the lot of the little sister. 
Sometimes it's our neighbor's two-year-old. Or our other neighbor's cats.

She's tried to convince us that she needs a pet. We haven't gone for the bait. So she has resigned herself to building dog cages, pens, and houses everywhere she goes. She cuts cardboard boxes, lines them with blankets, and fills them with stuffed animals.

This particular doghouse has (ironically enough) been sitting in our master bedroom for a couple weeks now.
I guess if I'm going to have a doghouse in my room, this is the best kind.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Today's Sweet Moments

On Easter we went to go visit Cameron's sweet grandparents. They are both in their nineties, and have been married for almost 71 years! We adore them. They have been slowing down the last few years, and sometimes it's hard to take our whirlwind of four busy little bodies to their house.

We showed up with a little basket of goodies and sat and chatted while the kids jumped on the neighbors' trampoline, made lots of noise on (I mean, played) Grandpa's organ, and painted in Grandma's art studio. Cameron and Grandpa talked, I caught up with Grandma, and it felt so good to just enjoy their company. 

As our visit was winding down Emma was puttering around their solarium taking apart a few geraniums and Abby and Grace were running wildly on their balcony. I looked at the balcony, at the patio below, and was swept up in memories. I remembered watching Fourth of July fireworks from that balcony together nearly ten years ago when Cameron and I were just dating. I remembered rolling Easter eggs on the patio with Cameron's siblings and parents when we were newlyweds.

"I didn't appreciate those experiences enough at the time," I realized. I couldn't have fast forwarded to where we are now, ten years later, with four small children and grandparents who are in their twilight years. We are so grateful to still have them. But their energy just doesn't hold up for huge holiday gatherings that last till almost midnight anymore. And so we sit quietly with them, occasionally patting a hand or knee, and when we leave we tell them twice how much we love them.

The day after Easter began our week of spring break. Without the usual grind of schoolwork to settle them, the kids were only too happy to run wildly around the house, chasing each other, screaming, shrieking, and enjoying childhood fun. Admittedly, sometimes such boisterous displays of childhood happiness are hard on my nerves.

Our flour is stored on the counter for now--at least until Emma stops seizing every moment to spread it all over the kitchen!
I thought back to Grandma and Grandpa and the moments ten years ago that I didn't appreciate enough at the time.

Where will our kids be in another ten years? What sweet moments will I look back on and admit that I didn't appreciate at the time? It's impossible to foretell.

But for today I can take a deep breath, embrace the happy noises of childhood, snuggle them closer, and be grateful for what I have today.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Eight years ago this morning I woke up in labor. I figured it wasn't the real thing. After all, my due date was two weeks away. And as good as it sounded to be done with the pregnancy, having a baby on Friday the 13th wasn't in my plans. (I think one of the first lessons of parenting is that things don't go how you planned. But since our first little guy was still in utero, I didn't know that yet.) Much to my surprise my labor that day was the real thing. But since it was my first labor, we didn't become parents for another day. And then we had our beautiful baby Jacob.
It was an eye-opening ride of sleepless nights and desperate days in the beginning. I never knew babies could be so loud, demanding, and relentless. But we learned a few things in the process. And now through eight years of parenting, I am so incredibly lucky to be this boy's mom.

Sometimes his faith and goodness just blow me away. He is always the first to remember to pray when something is lost. He naturally wants to serve and help people. He naturally wants to do what is a couple weeks ago when we were going to his grandma's house for conference Sunday. He started out the morning in sweat pants and a tee shirt with a slogan on it, but then he traded the tee shirt with a polo shirt because he thought a shirt without a slogan might be more reverent on Sunday. (Wow. I was blown away by his thoughtfulness when he told me that.)

He is oh so excited to be in scouts. We went and bought his uniform a few weeks ago. He passed off all the requirements for his bobcat the week he got the book. He is motivated, driven, and a hard worker.
I love seeing him build with his Legos, his Engino kit, or whatever else he has on hand. I love seeing him play with his sisters or shoot hoops with his friends. I feel so proud when he opens doors for people or helps the neighbors with little things. He is a wonderful boy.
We are so glad he is ours.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

God's Beautiful Tapestry

Sometimes we go through life so quickly it seems there is hardly time to breathe. Cook. Clean. Read. Tickle. Instruct. Wash. Fold. Unload. Repeat.

Other times we pause just long enough for a little glimpse of how much God blesses us. We worship a God who will often remain anonymous. He waits for us to come to Him, recognize His hand, and give thanks.

Lately I have marveled at how He has created our family. It takes my breath away.

He sent us a big brother who is responsible, hard working, and endowed with a natural gift of faith. We are so lucky to have him as our oldest.
He sent us an oldest sister who is a born mother--compassionate and tender hearted. She naturally nurtures her little sisters. She is forgiving and mild. We need her mellow touch.
He gave us a third child who is endless sunshine and giggles. Grace is our little class clown in the making--she can get her siblings to laugh when nothing else works. She keeps life light and joyful. We need her to show us when and how to laugh.
He blessed us with a sweet fourth child with who has some extra needs that stretch us to learn more about selflessness, awareness, and compassion. We need the people and experiences we are exposed to as we learn about life with extra needs--she is our gift.
We needed all of these children. Our tapestry wouldn't be anywhere near as beautiful--and certainly not complete--without them. Thank goodness for a God who knows the end from the beginning and sends the right child at the right time to the right family.
They are beautiful to me.

Monday, April 6, 2015


With two older sisters, it is Emma's common lot in life to be constantly hauled from one imaginary social engagement to the next--tea parties, dress-up parties, etc. Abby and Grace love playing with their little sister, and she loves playing with them. Sometimes Emma is the playmate and little sister. Sometimes she is their doll. They both love to get Emma from her crib when she wakes up. Abby loves to carry Emma on her shoulder. Grace loves to help Emma up onto things. They are a delightful little trio of girlishness.
Recently I walked through the living room where I found my two little mothers had been caring for their baby sister.
The bamboo plant that usually graces the coffee table had been removed and replaced with the diaper changing pad (retrieved from the changing table). Complete with a container of wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer, they were changing Emma's diaper. All too used to their antics, Emma didn't complain.

All mothers should be so blessed.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What I Am Building Each Day

It was a Thursday at lunch time, and the end of our homeschooling week was looming tantalizingly close. I was pulling out some lunch options when Jake announced that he wanted to do something different for lunch that day. Suddenly I was trapped between my first instinct, which was to say, "What's wrong with eating last night's leftovers?" and a desire to be a nice, accommodating mom and listen to his ideas.

I cautiously asked what he had in mind. He wanted to make mini pizzas. I agreed as long as he made his own dough. I pulled out my most basic roll recipe for him and stayed nearby for basic consulting as he plunged right in.

I couldn't help thinking about just what it is that I am doing each day. Sometimes I may feel like I am just pushing through schoolwork or getting a few things clean or taking care of odds and ends that our family needs. But I'm not. Really I am building a few of tomorrow's adults--somebody's spouse, somebody's parent, somebody's grandparent. It is humbling.

Jake proofed his yeast and mixed the dough. I stayed out of the way while he rolled it out into four circles--one for him, one for Abby, one for Grace, and a fourth little cinnamon and sugar round. We sprinkled cheese and pepperoni and popped them into the oven.

In a couple decades he will be somebody's husband, somebody's father. Thank goodness today he is home learning how to cook and gaining skills to be prepared. Thank goodness for the gift of motherhood and the opportunity to gather my children around me and teach them life skills.

The kids enjoyed their little feast. Jake felt good about his culinary accomplishment. And I was pretty proud of my 7-year-old for making bread with yeast mostly by himself. (I never reached such feats till I was in my 20s.) I gazed around my kitchen and sighed at the scenery. Of course, if I am going to responsibly raise somebody's husband, I ought to teach him how to clean up after himself.

Sigh. Well, there's always tomorrow.