Friday, November 8, 2013

To Sweet Charli, on Your 1st Birthday

I was thinking today about what a sweet addition you are to our family. You're different from the boys, as you should be. You're more calm, more snuggly, more interested in's so fun to see the difference.
I've had lots of friends who had girls while I had boys. I always said, boys and girls are different from the get-go. You are true to's crazy.

We're developing a sweet little relationship, you and I. I think you're gonna have a great sense of humor. You laugh when we startle you, you're a great snuggler, you turn and look at my face when I'm holding you, and the thumb sucking, oh the thumb sucking is so cute. You've really started communicating more and I know you're understanding me by how you respond with that sweet little "more" sign and excited, expectant look. You're waving "hi" and "bye", you sing the "mo-oh-oh-oh-orse" part of What Does the Fox Say? (the song I will never be able to un-hear) really, whenever we talk about foxes, or sing the song, or hum the's kinda awesome. You're walking a little bit, but like all the others, you tend to stick to crawling since that's so much quicker. You're still a tiny thing but I'm holding onto the thought that you'll appreciate that down the road. Please appreciate it :).

Dressing you is more fun.
Thinking about going to get our nails done together is fun.
Realizing we'll always be the two girls in a sea of 4 men is fun.

I am so excited and proud to be your mom. You make me smile so much every day and I don't take that for granted. I'm thankful for you and especially for your health. You had too many hospital visits in your first year! Stop that. No more. Seriously, we are so thankful for the blessing of overall healthy children.

Charli, you've got 5 of us looking out for you, hugging you, trying to feed you, trying to tackle you, and most importantly, loving you. Happy first birthday!

Your mom

Sam Goes to Kindergarten

Sam's been in kindergarten, at a public school (gasp!) for close to three months now.

It has been so good for him and so hard on me.

I struggled a lot with whether or not to send him to public school. Lots of our friends homeschool and have great reason to and that made me seriously consider doing it. For the time being, I decided it isn't the right thing for our family, the whole of us. Schooling is such a personal decision and honestly, it's a really hard one that is often left up to the mom.

So, I'm the mom, and I went with this decision...with a good bit of wise input from your dad.

My top concerns were (1)all the time I would miss being around you and (2)the influence on you from people that I can't know (let alone control). We don't intend to shelter you from the world. We do want to protect you though, especially at a young age. The thinking behind that is that Jesus LOVED the world...that's how He reached them. He didn't completely avoid them. So, we pour into you, we love you, we instruct you, we discipline you, we teach you. Please know, we're doing what we think is best.

Back to school.

Sam, you seem to love it. You have the sweetest teacher. Mrs. Birdsong even worked at Camp Straight Street, where you got to go last summer. She's kind and enthusiastic and firm and just great. She's an answer to my prayer for a believing teacher for you. 

You're very bright and already reading, so I was afraid you might be bored. You aren't bored! You're learning and excelling and you love riding the bus where you don't have to buckle ;).

I'm so proud of you. You're growing up and I'm so proud of you.
You're so much like your dad, who I love and respect immensely. I love the connection that gives us and the wisdom you'll get from him because of how similar you are.

You're rocking at your job. Keep it up, bud!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

To Grey, On Your 4th Birthday

So, by far my longest stint without blogging.
If I were in my early-mid 20s, I'd say, "sorry, not sorry."
Since I'm my early-mid 20s, I don't feel the need to apologize, or pseudo-apologize ;).

Now, to the real post.

You turned 4 a couple months ago and I'm just now getting around to writing your birthday blog post. Your dad is sick and asleep on the couch. I hate when he's down. BUT, it does afford me some time where I'm the only one awake and I can do important stuff that's been backing up in my head, like type up a couple posts.
The point of these birthday posts is that, hopefully, you kids will read them one day and it will deepen your understanding of how much I (we) love you. I think it'll also help all of us to remember what "the little years" were like and *accurately* remember if we really loved every second of them. There is SO much to love about this age and about you! You are a sensitive and kind kid. You share so easily and seem to have a generous heart. I adore that about you. I want to be more like that. You're encouraging me to be more like that. You care for others, especially when they're in pain. You're so smart - you've been adding and sounding out letters that start words. And you're just so darn thoughtful. By that, I mean that you're considerate AND you have deep thoughts. I know there is a lot going on in that head and on occasion, you ask questions, deep questions, and I just love that.
You're a handsome kid and you like to look nice. I've realized I need to specify that I think YOU are handsome, you, not the clothes you're wearing because you brought that to my attention a few days ago. I love that you care about how you look and whether or not your clothes match. You can pick out a really nice looking outfit with no help from me - that's such a great help!
You just recently decided to ride your bike without training wheels. Dad and I have known for a couple months that you could do it. You weren't ready. That's completely fine. I know it's hard to have an older sibling who is so close to you in age. Please always remember that you are just as capable as Sam and we are all on your team. We love getting to encourage you as you learn and try, and even if you fail (we all fail - don't be afraid of it!).
Grey, you add so much to our family. You were such a happy baby and you continue to keep us smiling.

We love you so SO much! Thanks for all the snuggling and hugs!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The School of Hard Knocks (Part 3)

And Part 3...which did take quite a while for me to post.

21. Breastfeeding is hard! And it doesn't always work right. Pumping or adding more feedings does not always equal fatter babies/more milk. Drink a bunch of water, eat right, do what you can, and if you need to make any other changes, trust your intuition and just do it. You'll both survive!

22. Don't be afraid to wake your babies up during the day to feed them. You won't want to every time. You'll appreciate a few minutes of quiet or a few minutes where you don't feel like you need to entertain them. Train their bio-rhythm and this will help them eat their calories during the day and sleep during the night. This is not cruel. This is helpful to you, your baby, and your whole family. A sleep deprived momma never helped anybody.

23. If you're of the scheduling persuasion, you can come back from having a day or two, or a week, where your schedule is all out of whack. Give it about three days and you can get back on track from just about any interruption.

24. Kids sharing a room is wonderful. They learn to sleep through so much. It's like they know they don't need to wake up for the sibling screaming in the night...

25. Delegate jobs to the kids as they are able to handle them. You may have to totally redo it after them and they may make more of a mess than they clean up, but it will (at least I'm trusting that it will ;)) pay off later.

26. Hug your kids first thing every morning. It's easy to get distracted with morning stuff and not even touch them. Kids need physical contact. They need hugs. If you've heard of The Five Love Languages, know there is one for kids too. Even if one your child's love language isn't quality time or physical touch, your child's love language is quality time and physical touch.

And last but not least, in fact, maybe the most important...

27. No one has it ALL together.

There are things that specifically stand out to you, like well-behaved children in public, or a clean house, a successful blog, or a put-together mom with perfect hair, make-up, and super cute clothes. Whatever areas you feel lacking in, you WILL find another mom who has it together in each of those particular areas. If you take each of those moms, and in your mind, group them into one perfect mom who has it all together, you are setting yourself up for insecurity and great feelings of failure. Remember, you grouped multiple moms into one idea. I promise, none of those moms, alone, has it all together. And honestly, each of those are probably looking at you as someone who has something nailed down that they don't!
Find a few things that you have a good handle on. Ask your husband or close friends if you can't come up with something on your own. Then, make a plan of attack to conquer something else!

As always feel free to add any lessons you've learned in The School of Hard Knocks!
(Part 1)
(Part 2)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bob wrote this to Charli about a year ago and I think it's just the sweetest. Since he blogged last, I decided to go ahead and post it. So, now he's on a roll. Maybe he should just take over...

                Its 5am Saturday morning on May 12, 2012. We just found out Thursday that you are going to be part of our crazy, noisy, family. I’ve been tossing and turning all night and just can’t seem to sleep. Each time I wake up, thoughts of you pop into my head. Your mother has been pregnant with boys (your older brothers….that sounds so weird to say) for basically the past five years, but all that has changed now. Your mother has a different glow about her now…she’s carrying you…my daughter. I’m still trying to get used to the concept of meeting you, taking care of you, laughing with you, telling boys to quit calling, and buying you too many clothes because you are a picky dresser. However, it’s a situation I’ve been longing to be in the midst of for a long time.

                When we first found out we were pregnant with you, your brothers weren’t super excited. In fact Sam’s response was “I told you not to get anymore babies.” Since then he has come more accustomed to the idea of having another sibling. I figure we have a few more months to warm him up to the concept of a girl playing with “his” toys. Which by the way, you need to at least act interested in Thomas the Train and the Cars movies if you want to stand a chance in this house! Don’t worry, we can help you blend in and make friends with the three amigos.

                Most of the time when I think about you I try and envision what our relationship will be like and wonder what you will look like. Sam, Grey, and Bo have all sort of favored looking like me as a baby, so I hope for your sake you look like your mommy. I don’t think me with long hair is gonna make for a cute baby…we’ll see soon enough I guess. Speaking of your mom. You have an amazing role model waiting outside the womb for you. I think she’s scared to have a daughter because all she knows is raising boys, but I have no doubt she’ll do an incredible job caring for you. I only hope for your sake you will realize sooner than later that she is someone you want to be friends with. I think when I picture you in my head, I imagine you with her big brown eyes, some curly brown hair, and maybe some cute chunky baby wrists. The kind of wrists and ankles that look like rubber bands are pinching off your circulation.

                Everyone tells me that you are going to have me wrapped around your little finger. I don’t think I would disagree with that, and actually am looking forward to it. I love my little boys and the posse that we’ve become, but there is something special about a father and daughter’s relationship. I’m going to train those tres amigos to be your little bodyguards. They can be my eyes and ears on the ground when you are in school and boys are chasing after your heart. You’re lucky to have such sweet older brothers. They all have the heart of your mom and for the most part are extremely loving…you’ll see soon enough

                Lastly I want you to know that I’ve prayed for you for a long time. For all logical reasons it would be easier for us if we had another boy, but there is just something inside me that aches to have a daughter.  As we sat there in that ultra sound room, there was a split second where I thought we were having another boy and that we’d never get to meet you. I saw something on that screen that in an instant brought disappointment. However, only moments later and after much debate from several technicians, we got word that you are in fact going to be part of our family. Your mom got teary eyed and so did I. My tears only lasted for a split second though because Sam was with us and kept hitting me with his chair…it was a brief, but sweet moment. I’ve thanked God for you many times since then. I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you into this noisy household. In the months to come I will keep praying for you and cannot wait for 10/10/10 to get here. It can’t come soon enough!
Love, your Daddy

{So far, no curly brown hair, brown eyes, OR chunky baby wrists, ha! But we love that sweet little bald head, bright blue eyes and chunky thighs!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."   Prov 31:28-29

Greta always gets the shaft on Mother's Day and her birthday. They usually fall on the same weekend each year. This year should be no I bought Greta some fancy rain boots that she wanted. The right one was for her birthday and the left one was for Mother's Day. Seemed fair to me! Anways, last year I guest posted here and probably set the bar to high for my future endeavors, but I figured I would give it another shot.

I am continually amazed at how well this woman loves me and my family. Since my last post we have added our 4th child, the 1st girl, Charli. She is awesome! I've wanted a girl since we began building a family...and i love that little lady! Greta does an incredible job being a mom to this family. Greta has handled the transition from 3 to 4 kids effortlessly. Each day I "get" the opportunity to leave the house. I am typically gone from 630am to pm. In that timeframe she somehow manages to shuttle the kids to and from school, play with our kids, nurse an infant, do laundry for 6 people (4 of which soil themselves on a regular basis), and cook a fabulous meal each night. It truly is unbelievable. People on twitter and facebook are probably tired of hearing me rant about her greatness....sorry!

I knew when we got married in 2004 that God had given me the perfect partner, but i think it is only recently that i really have began to appreciate all her qualities. Trust me...having four kids 5 and insane. And by insane, i mean loud, stinky, crazy, etc. I am regularly stressed out by the noise my kids make as they run circles around me in public pooping themselves. Meanwhile Greta is cool as a cucumber. It truly does take two people to make this house a family...and I love my other half.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...Greta has a thankless job. She handles it with great grace and poise and her kids and I are extremely blessed to have her. I feel bad for all the people that dont know her well...because they are truly missing out. Thanks for loving us so well babe! Thanks for being the rock of this house and showing our children the love of Christ on a daily basis.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The School of Hard Knocks (Part 2)

11. If you're wavering about whether or not to take your kid to the doctor on a Friday, do it. In my humble opinion, your peace of mind over the weekend is worth the $35 copay.

12. Repeating yourself, concerning instructions, will only frustrate you. Yes, it's tiring to get up and go through the whole discipline scenario. Yes, it's inconvenient if your kids need a spanking right in the middle of dinner, or while you're at someone else's house, or while you're trying to do something fun for them. The quicker you take action, the less chance you have of becoming angry. Toddlers especially, understand action much more clearly than your lengthy explanation. Take the emotion out of it!

13. If you have a second child, while this child is still an infant and your older child/children need you, help them first. They will remember being neglected for the baby...the baby will not remember it.

14. With each additional child, you probably need to add 10 minutes to your "it'll take this long to get out of the house" estimate. Kids have a propensity for pooping and losing shoes riiiiight as you're trying to walk out the door.

15. On that note, if you are getting frustrated because one kid loses a shoe, then another kid poops, then another kid wants a drink, and all you want to do is get out of the stinkin' house to take them to the playground with enough time so you can unload them and let them play without them whining about not getting to stay long enough, stop and take a breath. To you, they are acting as one big frustrating unit. They're individuals. Typically, typically, they are not conspiring against you, although I promise, it will feel like they are, a lot of the time! Try not to be frustrated by the sheer amount of needs and/or demands. Try not to let them pile up into one big assault on you. Try to take care of one thing at a time. And take a deep breath.

16. Anything you can do to prepare for the next day, the night before, will benefit you greatly. Fill up cups the night before. Make lunches the night before. Lay out clothes the night before. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but I can stay up late with the best of them. Why not be proactive!?

17. And speaking of staying up late. Don't. At some point, for me, it was with 3 kids (and its coming around after the 4th starting to sleep through the night), you will realize you need to change your schedule and you can't operate any longer on what comes naturally. Trust me, I've pushed this for as long as possible. Held out much later than I should have. Naturally, I am a night person. Do I still stay up later than I should? Sure. Do I pay for it the next day? Yes! I can most easily change myself by going to sleep earlier. I cannot make the kids sleep later in the morning. (Many days, the only chance I get to work out or read my Bible, is if I get up earlier than the kids to do it.)

18. The first year we had a kid go to preschool, there was so much sickness in our house! They're exposed to all kinds of stuff and will expose other kids in the house to the same. It's OK, it's stuff they'll encounter sooner or later. Be ready for it though. If they don't go to any type of school before kindergarten, it'll come then. Go immune systems, go!

19. Be reminded that so much of childhood is a phase. The good and the bad. Your kid gets out of bed 12 times to go to the bathroom before they go to sleep? It'll end. That sweet little toddler cries and cries when you leave them in the nursery or with a babysitter? That'll end too. Those precious, mispronounced words? They'll be corrected. The crazy? The crazy ebbs and flows, but I think it's like contractions...just when you think you can't handle another second, there is some relief.

20. Accept help. I love to help people but it's really hard for me to accept help. As soon as I realize I'm allowing people to do something they already want to do, it becomes much easier. Also, with so many people to care for, I cannot do it all on my own...that has helped me learn to accept help too. Leave it up to other people. If they offer, take them up on it. If they really didn't want to help, they just won't offer again!

I've got one more point that'll be the start of Part 3. However, if too much time elapses before I can compile some other points, it'll stand alone as the finale :).