Friday, April 19, 2013

The difference between #1 and #2...

While I do have a household of boys, and I wish I could say our house wasn't filled with armpit farts, abc's being burped and excited yells from the bathroom to check out ____, that would be a lie.

The good news is this post isn't about anything related to the bathroom...
but a few differences between our firstborn and our second born.

The boys excitedly ran into the house today with school pictures in their hand. 

Well actually Jonah was excited and Elijah was crying because he had ran the last stretch of their walk home from school with only one shoe on because his shoe had gotten stuck in a snow bank and thus filled with snow when he pulled his foot out of it. 

Rather than dump out the snow, he decided it would be smartest to run home with one shoe on and one shoe off since they were so close!

So after recovering from a very cold foot, Elijah was also excited to show me his pictures.

If you are confused right now I will explain that the schools in town have fall school pictures taken and then again in the spring. 

Not sure why this happens except to target suckers like myself and my kids. 

The spring photos come with your kid in front of a fake background on cool magnets, key chains, and other random things that Grandmas like to have in their house. 

Before you get too worried, know that I have never purchased the spring photos.  

It was a bit difficult to do this when Jonah was in Kindergarten because the sentimental Becky felt like she might be throwing away a piece of her child by not purchasing them.

Then the realistic Becky smacked her face a few times and welcomed her back to reality, reminding her that Richard would be far from impressed if I spent money on these and that mommarazzi Becky takes 999 pictures with her cell phone on a daily basis so their lives are documented pretty well. 

Since I have never intended on purchasing these the date of the picture taking misses my momdar (mom radar for important things). When they come home I peek at them and simply send them back to school with the kids.  I am not sure what happens to them at this point. 

Maybe they sell them to sentimental mommas of other kids who can't hear their rational self telling them no???

So back to my story, and the difference between our first child and our second!

 Jonah (first child)carefully pulled his unwrinkled, perfect pictures out of his backpack and carefully laid them on the table for me to marvel at his handsomeness.  He also proudly shared that the day of picture taking he was wearing a grubby black shirt and he figured I would be sad he wasn't wearing something nicer so he turned it backwards for the picture! He told me he had on "nice sweatpants" so he thought I would be okay with his pants. He also had tattoos all over his arms and turned them just right so only a few were visible.

The smile on his face and excitement in his voice reminded me of myself and how similar we are.

Jonah continued with a pretty good case as to why we should purchase them and how much he liked them.

Then Elijah (second child) reached into his backpack, grabbing his crumpled, wet and slightly damaged school pictures and threw them down proudly on the table.

I smiled once again because this sweet boy was wearing a worn out shirt that was too small with mismatching windpants that had seen too many days, were too short and had no more wear left in the knee. His arms were also covered with tattoos that he did not try to hide!

The best part was he had a huge smile on his face (which is abnormal for this boy when asked to smile on demand).

He had been smirking while Jonah explained how thoughtful he had been during his photo session so I was quite anxious to see Elijah's pictures. 

Once I had seen them, I glanced up to see him beaming. I asked him what he was smiling about and he explained that he knew I wouldn't buy the pictures so he didn't try to hide his "sweet tats" and was happy he didn't have to wear "dumb jeans and a nice shirt" like he has to for the fall.  He said, "isn't it sweet that I was wearing that? You would NEVER let me wear that on picture day!"

Jonah continued his plea to purchase the pictures a few more minutes while I listened and just smiled. 

Elijah gently placed a hand on Jonah's shoulder and told him he should just stop. He said, "mom isn't buying them, she never does and never will so let's just go play."

They both placed their pictures back in their bags and took off downstairs to play. 

Sentimental Becky didn't want to forget this sweet moment in which my oldest boys who are 20 months apart, yet so similar in size and looks that they are mistaken for twins, have such different personalities!

I LOVE these little conversations we have and moments together in which I get to see their personalities come out and learn just a little more about them.

Makes me excited for summer break and more time together so I can learn more about the difference between #1 and #2.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hands and Feet of Jesus

Over the past 8+ years as a mother I have learned many things. 

Advice is given freely by everyone to mothers, whether you desire it or not, from strangers and friends. 

I remember receiving a plethora of advice and information while pregnant with Jonah and honestly didn't let much of it sink in until I was drowning in my life with a newborn who was far from easy. 

He was colicky (which apparently doesn't exist anymore, but tell any mother who has had a child that fits this description and she might punch you in the face), never slept, and refused a bottle. 

My husband thinks I exaggerate on occasions and when I say the child cried ALL the time and NEVER slept...this is NOT an exaggeration!

The good news is we didn't know any different! 

And that he was adorable so we couldn't help but find him sweet despite his ahem demeanor ;0)

During the weeks of solitude that followed Jonah's birth, running on negative sleep with a crying baby who only wanted to nurse every minute of the day I could hear the advice of every person running through my sleep deprived foggy brain:

Sleep when the baby sleeps (great advice if your BABY actually SLEEPS!)

Have your family watch him/her while you rest (I would if they were closer)

You will be lucky if you get to shower every day (WHAT???? I had BIG plans to get tons done on maternity leave and every time it flew by before I could even crack open a baby book)

Let people help you (I have never been very good at this...control issues prevent me from doing this very well)

We were living in Iowa, far from family, and our small group of friends at the time were still in school and weren't having babies. 

Shortly before Jonah was born, we had been introduced to a local church by someone who became a great friend (thanks Natalie) and eventually became plugged into a small community of other wonderful friends who became our family while we were there. 

One of the ministries of the church was to bring meals to new moms (which is quite common but a new phenomena to us since we were new to the baby thing). 

After Jonah was born and a sweet lady from the church called to tell me that we would be getting a few meals over the next few weeks.

It was like a movie with time slowing down and I think I could hear angels singing over Jonah's cries.

I know I have shared this before, but I will once again confess that I am NOT a good cook, never have claimed to be and probably never will be. This has caused LOTS of anxiety in my life over the years and a few quality fights between my hubby and myself that we have filled away in the "did that really happen to us memory file" and laugh about on special occasions.

The thought of having to cook dinner makes me a bit sweaty and nauseous.


So, to have someone offer to bring us a meal when I could barely find time to pee during the day was the best news I had ever heard!

I remember feeling so extremely grateful and undeserving as these experienced mommas juggled multiple children like a pro and delivered home baked deliciousness to our little 400 sq foot apartment we called home.

The chuckled and smiled at me as I answered the door with my sweats on, unshowered for days with dark circles under my eyes that weren't from makeup that had been left on too long!

With my ONE child.

I remember wondering how anyone has time to do anything else with one child let alone more than one!

These ladies all looked amazing, showered, clean, smelled good and were bringing us supper!

We were very thankful for their servant hearts and selfless attitudes.

Fast forward 20 months later and we were blessed again with meals from our church body and sweet friends (who were just like family) when Elijah came screaming into the world.

Now, I will confess that I had never enjoyed making a meal for someone else at this point in my life.

One because I had zero confidence in my cooking skills, and two because I would rather do 20 loads of laundry than cook supper every night!

Fast forward a few more years when we were pregnant with Mr Isaac who rocked our world starting at 20 weeks with contractions that caused a bit of a scare and then labor starting at 29 weeks that was thankfully stopped, followed by 6 weeks of bed rest with two toddlers at home.

I know I have shared this before, but we were SO BLESSED by so many wonderful people during those weeks and then again when he was born.

The boys prayed every day for Isaac to stay in my tummy and thanked Jesus for mommy's friends who brought them yummy supper , movies to watch and McDonald's for lunch!

They know I am not a great cook and were excited to taste some good home cooked meals and what kid doesn't like McDonalds every day for lunch for a few weeks!

This was probably the first time our older two were able to recognize others loving us and making sacrifices for our family and loving us like Jesus.

It was a HUGE testimony to them, to myself and Richard.

Every time someone brought us a meal we all thanked Jesus for providing for us and I vowed I would change my heart and make meals for others joyfully.

Since then we have brought meals to many in need and it was been fun to see our boys recognizing this.  It has also been fun to love others as we have been loved so many times!

Fast forward 20 more months and Miss Olivia took her sweet time and came screaming into the world as well! Once again we were blessed by so many with meals, help, and coffee for the momma!

Fast forward only 1 month and once again we found ourselves SO BLESSED by so many when we had one kid with 2 broken feet, one with pneumonia, one with RSV, and a momma who was just about ready to loose her mind!

Since then we have been able to bless many families as we were blessed and it has been wonderful.

I still don't claim to be a good cook, but do stick to the same few recipes that my family has deemed "edible" so I know that at least it will be one less meal for another momma to cook!

Over the past few months we have been bringing meals to one family or another at least weekly and I have been delivering them after school with everyone (including my sweet niece Ingrid who is now 4 months old that I am blessed to watch each day I am not working).

A couple of times we have delivered multiple meals in one day and spent a bit of time driving from one end of town to the other.  During one of these occasions the older boys were complaining a bit because they were anxious to get home and play legos and were sick of being in the car.

I asked if they remembered all the times other people brought us meals.

They said yes.

I asked them if they remembered how helpful that was and how hard it was for me to cook supper with a new baby, or someone who was sick and needed help.

They said yes.

We talked about how living as Christians means to be the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth.

We talked about how hard it is to do that sometimes, but that even though they didn't cook the supper with me they were being the hands and feet of Jesus by helping entertain the little three while I ran the supper into the homes of people who have just had a new baby, lost a baby, or who had sickness overwhelming their house.

They quickly became excited seeing it from this perspective and were all the sudden grateful for this opportunity to serve someone in need.  They talked about a few other ways they could be the hands and feet of Jesus.

During this conversation Isaac was pretty quiet but copied a few things the big boys said so I knew he was at least listening. 

Fast forward a week later when we had to make a quick stop at the grocery store after school with all 5 kiddos to pick up a few things I needed to add to a few meals we were going to be delivering shortly after. I had explained this to everyone in the car before we exited and began our adventure in the grocery store and also bribed them with a cookie if they behaved, that they could eat while we were delivering the meals.

To understand the story completely I will paint a picture for you.

When I take EVERYONE to the grocery store we select the cart with the car attached to the front and I strap Isaac and Olivia into it, Ingrid (in her carseat) takes up the cart itself and the big boys are bouncing around behind, beside or in front of me. 

To say that we attract a bit of attention is probably an understatement. 

So we made it through the store in one piece and were checking out.

Ingrid was crying, Olivia was leaning out of the car portion of the cart, upside down and making darth vader noises, while Jonah and Elijah are doing ninja moves in front of the cart. 

Isaac was "helping" me put the items on the conveyor belt at the grocery store and was telling the sweet gal checking us out about each item.

"This my yogurt I like. This carrots I don't like. This for my sister"

He placed a bag of grapes up on the belt.

The checkout gal asked if these were for him.

He leaned forward and told her, "This for someone who need help with their supper."

She gave me a quizzical look.

Before I could say anything Isaac continues with, "If you cut your hands and feet off my mom can bring you supper."

Not sure how to describe the look I got at this point, but her mouth was also open if that helps. 

He then continued all matter-of-factly with, "Or you just have to have a baby, or have your baby die, or get REALLY sick. Then she will make you supper and you will see Jesus loves you"

At this point she thankfully smiled and told him that was very nice. 

He agreed and told her, "Plus usually she forgets something for the supper and we have to go to the store and get a cookie if we listen!"

She smiled and so did I. 

I guess that turkey does listen more than I thought!

So we continue to bring meals to those who need them and I pray my boys (and Olivia) will continue to find joy in being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

If I had 100 dollars...

Wow I can't believe I haven't written for a few months. 

Life has been happening and I have been hanging on for dear life.

I have also been enjoying some of the little things...

1. Snuggles from the little people in our house (did you know that snuggling with both Isaac and Olivia is almost like a human blanket during this lovely -30 degree weather)

2. Thoughts on the world with some of the medium sized people in our house (we have had some quality heart to hearts which I hope to share on here in the near future

3. Spending quality time with my hubby while he is between seasons of coaching (we have been working out together after school, watching our favorite show on the computer with hummus, pita chips and dark chocolate when kids are in bed and soaking up time together before track begins)

I have so many wonderful things to blog about (Isaac is potty trained, my sweet niece's arrival, I have been running, God has been so good and encouraging me during some tough trials recently, and my kids just keep getting cuter and I keep falling more in love with my hubby).

Since I was hoping to keep this short and sweet here is the reason I am climbing out of my blogging hibernation...

For those of you who do NOT have a kindergartner in your house, today was the 100th day of school!

For those of you who are unaware of the magnitude of this day, I will tell you that this day is one of the most beloved days of kindergarten.

The anticipation leading up to it is quite insane, and while each class is different, it is basically a celebration of everything that is 100!

Elijah was asked to bring 100 of something to put into a giant bowl for snack time. 
(My stomach churned a bit when he described the different items that were included in this "mix" and how delicious it was!)

He chose marshmallows for his snack, so last night we counted out 100 marshmallows and placed them in a bag for him to bring to school. 

Since I am not a novice kindergarten mother, I was already aware of the excitement surrounding this day and asked Elijah about it when he got home today.

Being the man of many words that he is, he told me it was fun and showed me the badge on his necklace (pictured above) stating that he is now 100 days smarter!

I challenged this as he had missed one day of school for being ill so wondered if that only made him 99 days smarter...he looked concerned for a moment and then saw me smile and told me I was funny.

I have the boys place all their papers on the kitchen table after school and I rifle through them quickly while they are distracted by food or some toy they have been longing to play with "all day" so I can toss what isn't important without little eyes seeing.

I always enjoy reading their comments, stories, or answers to open ended questions such as "If I had 100 dollars I would..."

I know it is hard to read, but on the worksheet below he was asked that exact question and his answer was "gift it to the NICU mom's and dads"

You probably can't see the stains from my tears either but they are there. 

The picture in the center is of a baby in a crib on wheels.

This boy is very hard to read, very serious, and has been struggling with being extremely selfish recently (nothing that abnormal for a 6 year old), but definitely has a different take on the world that his older brother Jonah. 

At home we have been talking a lot about serving one another as Jesus would. 

He has not willingly jumped into that boat recently!

We have also had a few talks on money (saving, spending, and giving).

You know how you talk to your kids over and over and over about things hoping some minuscule piece of the advice or instruction you give them while eventually sink in and they will start living that way?

Oh, me neither :0)

It has been a struggle to help Elijah understand why he can't stomp around our house saying unkind things, doing whatever he wants, and not helping the rest of us.

Sometimes I get sweaty, nauseous and dizzy thinking about he and his siblings as teenagers!

I just might wish to have these emotional elementary school kids and challenging toddlers back in a few years...

The tears were flowing pretty heavily when I called him to the kitchen to explain it to me.

I am 99.9% sure he thought he was in trouble when he saw me crying, but I asked him if he could explain what he would do with his $100.

He quietly explained he would give it to the moms and dads in the NICU to help pay for their baby's medicine so they could get better faster and go home.

I told him I was so proud of him, but most importantly that giving his $100 to someone who needed it more would make Jesus happy. 

He asked why I was crying and I said it was because I was so happy and proud of him that he would choose to give it away.

I honestly am sure I would have kept the $100 for myself if I were him.

He gave me a hug and said, "it's so weird that girls cry when they are happy...a guy never knows what to think...are they happy or sad?"

Such a valid point buddy!

Just in case you are concerned that he is too good to be true, here is a closer look at how he "decorated" the $100 bill...

Which made me smile, since I expected this Van Gogh excerpt from him more than his servant heart. 

So tonight as I tucked him into bed and told him how proud I was I thanked God for reminding me to live less selfishly and consider what I could do with my $100...besides buying a nice cup of coffee at Starbucks, a massage, and a new pair of jeans ;0)

I also thanked him for a glimmer of light in the tunnel of darkness that is sometimes parenting.