Monday, December 21, 2009

A Seven Year Old

My baby turned 7 on the 17th (tear. . .)
Olivia, you are the best big sister, daughter, student, and babysitter. You excel at most everything you try and make me so proud when you persist in a task. You are learning to express yourself beautifully, and if I may say, a little too quickly. Babies love you. Your peers adore you. Your siblings look to you to lead. Mom and dad are so proud of the beautiful young lady you are becoming.

Daddy and I want you to know that we will always be there to encourage you, guide you and cheer you on. We want you to come to us when you need anything and trust us as your best friends. We aren't perfect and will make mistakes, but we will always be here for you. We won't always be able to protect you from the hurts in life, (even though we wish we could) but we will hurt with you and love you through it.

Happy Birthday Babe - You are LOVED!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Baby Ever

HELLO World! My name is Eleanor Lynne, my family calls me Nora. Well, except my biggest brother Garrett, he likes to call me Eleanor, but mom and dad don't mind, they think it's kind of cute. I am in the running to win the Best Baby Ever contest, held by my mom. Let me tell you why you should vote for me. . .

1. I've been sleeping through the night since I was 8 weeks old. Once in a while, I like a little snack in the middle of the night, but overall I love my sleep.

2. As long as I don't have to burp, I will lay down awake in my bed and go to sleep on my own. I know, I know, most babies eat to go to sleep or have to be rocked, but not me, I can get myself to sleep just fine. And being the youngest of 5 kids, mommy really likes this about me.

3. I am really cute. My specialty is a little squeal. When I try to talk, laugh and while I'm smiling, you can often hear my scare myself with my squeal, which makes it all the more cute.

I could go on and on about how great I am - but the rules state that I can only tell you three great things about myself. So there you go, folks. Vote for me!!

Oh, him. . .that's my big brother Gideon, he's two now, and can't be considered for this prize. But he sure is cute, don't ya' think?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gideon Joshua

Gideon Joshua - def. - Every ones favorite blond haired, brown eyed boy. Stinker to the core, but too cute to care. Carrier of his blankie and sucker of the thumb. Talks in babble, screams in tantrums, gets what he wants. . .most of the time. Spoiled by siblings. Rider of a tricycle, loves to be outside, often found shirtless kind of kid. Door greeter, knee hugger, kiss stealer. Loves his baby sister. Wary of the ocean. Shy in new groups of people. Escape artist of the church nursery. Karate kickin', paper colorin', thinks he's bigger than he is, light of our life.

We love you Gid man - your smile will always melt my heart.

Gideon on his 2nd birthday enjoying his cupcake.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It made me cry

THIS made me cry.
The pen/pencil holder from the desk at our old house.

Why? You ask. Because it's part of my life that is packed away in HERE.

Because the reality of life being packed upstairs in my parents garage doesn't bother me until I go digging through boxes looking for my STUFF.

This is 90% of our STUFF. The STUFF that filled our home. That held the kids clothes, decorated the walls, kept the kids warm at night, and served dinner every night for 8 years.

Now IT collects dust and cob webs.

Look in the bottom right hand side of this picture, is a curved piece of wood, the end of our crib. The crib all of our children have slept in, EXCEPT Nora. I want her to sleep in it. I wonder if she will ever get to.

I know it seems like a silly thing to cry about, but I did.
And wonder, "What ARE you doing, God?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just some thoughts

A family member recently told me she was in awe at how patient we've been through this 'waiting' time we are in. Until she said that, I hadn't really thought about how much waiting we've been doing or the fact that we still have no clear direction as far as our next step. God has definitely been growing us and as painful as it can be, I have an overwhelming peace about the future and all the waiting.

Don't get me wrong, I have days of discontentment, frustration and overwhelming anger - but these days are few, for that I am thankful. I know that my peace comes only from my God and that He is answering the prayers of soooo many of you who have lifted us up daily.

When I have those negative feelings, I really have to remember ALL the promises that God gave to us and know that through our obedience, He will be glorified, but only if I remain focused on His will, not my own.

I remain so content with my life. I don't think words can adequately express my contentment with our living situation, our church, our marriage, Josh's job, homeschooling the kids, our friends, the kids' friends, and relying on God to provide our every need.

To God be the Glory.

All the kids cuddled up with daddy (Uncle Josh) at a family wedding shower this past weekend. I know I can speak for Josh and say that he NEVER thought he'd have 5 kids - but he's a natural. I love watching him father and train our children.

Again, Josh on kid duty at the shower. Gideon, Owen (my cousins little guy), and Nora (laying in front of Josh). How handsome is he? I love him!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lessons through Vanity

You know the feeling you get when God hears your prayers and answers them the way YOU thought HE should.

Yeah, me either.

Because when it comes to the real issues of life, God's plans usually don't match up with ours. And thank goodness they don't, because in the end, God's plans are always better, safer, and a more pleasant surprise than we could have even imagined. I know I've shared this thought a million times, but I was reminded again this morning when I was talking to Nora.

My thought process was a little jumbled, so hopefully you'll be able to follow me as I go down this road.

At six weeks of age, Nora is starting to smile at people. There is such joy when your baby looks at you and you see recognition in her eyes. Even when they can't quite get their mouth to curl up on the ends, you see the smile in their eyes. It's just about the most glorious thing your eyes can see. As she smiled and sparkled at me, I looked at her dark blue eyes I was thankful. Not because she is here with us (although I am thankful for that). But BECAUSE she had blue eyes.

Here's the background. When Olivia was born, I was expecting, whole heartily, that our child would have dark hair and dark brown eyes. Much to my surprise, she was born with very little hair and piercing blue eyes. To this day, I'm still shocked that my husbands genes were stronger than mine, but I'm over it.

With every child after that, I wished (not prayed) that they would have dark brown eyes and dark hair. Hoping that one of our children would look like me. After Esther made her grand appearance, with her dark eyes and button nose, I was content (even if she was bald, just like her two older siblings). My contentment came, not from the fact that I got a dark eyed baby, but from the realization that no matter what they look like, they are God's gift to me. Perfectly and wonderfully formed the way HE sees fit. And no matter who they resemble or look like, my love will never waiver.

I am working my way back to the beginning, please stay with me!!

Gideon's features are so strikingly gorgeous. I know I'm bias, but really, have you even seen a more contrasting look as him? With his bright blond hair and eyes as big as the sun and as dark as the night? Again, not something I would have created myself, but oh so glad that God did.

Fast forward to my pregnancy with Nora.

With every child you have, you wonder, "What will this one look like? Will they resemble a sibling? parent?" And since my pregnancy with Esther, I hadn't hoped for anything. Only for a healthy baby. But this time it was different. Selfishly, I hoped that Nora WOULD have hair (ok, so I wasn't that over it!), lots of it. And DARK. And knowing that this would be our last child, I hoped that this baby would join Olivia (and Josh) in the blue eyed club. Not only would she join them in the club, but I wanted her to be the complete opposite of Gid.

I know this all sounds very vain. However, I think that most moms, and parents for that matter, can relate to dreaming up what your children will look like. So please don't judge me too harshly.

So, as I looked at my, opposite of her brother, blue eyed club member, God spoke to my heart and said, (not audibly, but you know what I mean) "See, I know your heart. Look at MY little girl, created by ME, for MY pleasure, that you get to enjoy, the way you pictured her. Because I see your heart. I know your wants. And once in a while, even in the small things in life, you can have what you want. Above and beyond what you need, I want to bless you. So be encouraged, today MY child, I see you, I hear your requests, even when you don't say them. The big, the small, the silly, the serious - I am God."

Whooaaaa! All that from looking into my daughters blue eyes. I NEVER saw that promise reminder coming through my hope of my blue eyed baby. But man, am I thankful that God works in ways I can never understand or imagine. And that I serve a God who daily gives grace and mercy, so that I can LIVE and learn.

And pass on the love.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

My pictures and posts about Nora have been lacking, so I'm going to feature her on this post. She was our lovely violet crayon for the night and stayed with us the whole night. She hung out in the carrier while we walked the neighborhood.

We're only a couple colors away from a whole box of crayons. Don't worry, we aren't going to try to get a whole box!! Our five are just perfect! The three older kids picked the color they wanted to be, and luckily I was able to find top and bottoms that coordinated. Gideon and Nora didn't really have a choice - it's the only color I could find both the tops and bottoms.
I'm really glad that all the kids cooperated with being crayons. Olivia was hesitant at first and I told her she could pick something else, but that everyone else was going as crayons, so she happily jumped on board. It's probably the last time, until they're all teenagers, that they will dress-up as a group. It was a great night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In a good groove

Life is in a good groove right now. Our days are filled with school, play, and conversation. I'm feeling really good about the schedule that has made itself in our school day. We start the day with Bible, which includes all the kids. Even Esther and Gideon get in on the singing and story. In Bible time, they are also required to memorize a passage of scripture. This 6 week period it's John 3: 14-19. Look it up - it's a long section of scripture and after only 10 days both kids could recite it without missing a beat! AMAZING! After Bible, Olivia and I have reading time, while I get Garrett started on his writing seat work. Olivia then starts her cursive writing (she does a very good job!) while I go over and help Garrett in Phonics and Math. It works out really nicely for equal time with each child. I thought that scheduling the two kids and juggling their different learning styles and levels would be hard, but it has fallen into place all on it's own and given me a lot of confidence as we continue our homeschooling endeavor.

Garrett has picked up math like a champ - NO problems there. He struggles with phonics and really tests my patience and pace. (I like things to move quickly, that's just NOT going to happen with him). He struggles with focus, especially when he hears the TV on in the next room. We always knew this would be a struggle for him and I am glad I can give him the one on one time he really needs. We just recently enrolled him in karate, which he is wonderful at. It's a great daddy/son time (I think Josh gets just as excited about class as Garrett does!).

Olivia is not as enthusiastic about homeschooling as I would have thought. I'm giving her time because right now a lot of the lessons are a review from kindergarten, and she gets bored with them quickly. She is really interested in the geography/history lessons and with cursive writing. These things are new to her and are what gives me hope for the coming lessons that will challenge her. She thrives with challenge and I'm so proud of her sticking it out the first couple of weeks.

By the time school is over for both kids, it's 11am and they all go outside and play. Having the older two separated from the little ones, makes playtime peaceful when they are all together. They have been playing "circus", "school", " and "house", as one happy group. That makes this mommy very happy!!

Esther is growing like crazy. She now has a best friend, Kylie, who she loves to play babies with. She tends to be a broken record when she wants something, but her giving spirit totally outweighs that trait. At the Halloween parade on Saturday she was collecting the candy that was being thrown to the kids, and instead of hording it for herself, she ALWAYS gave to her best friend Kylie. And later on could be seen walking down the line of kids, placing a piece of candy in each of their bags before she took any for herself. What a giver - such a beautiful girl!

Gideon is almost two and has a soft heart for everyone. Just today, Olivia was upstairs crying about homeschooling. I wasn't being the most sympathetic mother and was telling her to "just get over it!" Gideon, walked over to her, put his arms out and nuzzled up into her for a big hug. He may not be able to say much, but his actions communicate volumes!

Nora is a great baby. She had thrush after a couple of weeks, which really caused her some pain and bad sleeping habits. After that cleared up we were good to go at night. She is currently 5 1/2 weeks old and going 4-5 hours between feedings at night and is going right back to sleep after she eats. During the day she enjoys, sleeping! Really, she eats and sleeps and doesn't do much other than that. She doesn't like her swing, but does enjoy a couple of minutes in the bouncy seat. She is loved by the whole family and is starting to smile at familiar faces.

Nora at the Halloween parade. They grow so fast!

Liv, Es, and Garrett at the parade. Gideon was sick this night and couldn't make it, so daddy stayed home with him.

Garrett homeschooling!

Liv, set up in the kitchen with her DVD classroom on the TV.

Liv at the end of her MORNING (I stress morning, b/c she acts like it's been all day!). She wasn't happy about finishing her seat work and really wasn't happy about me taking her picture. That would be a pencil flying at me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkins, hayrides and corn mazes, Oh my!

Have I mentioned that I love my playgroup. You heard me, not the kids' playgroup, MY playgroup. We have been gathering together at my sister's house every Thursday since the summer. This group has become like family to our kids and to myself as well. The women in this group have been a source of encouragement and support for me, like no other women I have had in my life. Each woman brings something unique and special to the group - not to mention lots of new moms! There hasn't been a week where we didn't have a new mom come for some fun!

On the days I've woken up and thought, "Oh, man - this day is going to be horrible. The kids are driving me nuts. I didn't sleep at all last night. I CANNOT get out of the house today", are the days I get myself there, NO MATTER WHAT! These women have made me a better friend, wife and mother. I thank God daily for the relationships I am building and for the new relationships that will come out of it.

Ok, now to the fun part!

To kick off fall at playgroup we are painting pumpkins and having a big fall festival tomorrow. So, we decided to take a field trip together today and pick our pumpkins at a local farm. I was pretty excited, b/c I missed doing a fall photo shoot with the kids and took this opportunity to get some shots of them. Here you go!

Esther with the pumpkin she didn't get. She was the only one of my kids who wanted a "tiny" pumpkin. Thank goodness, the other two wanted the biggest ones in the field!

Garrett was not letting this 'monster' pumpkin go! It weighed almost 20 lbs!!

This picture pretty much represents how happy Gid was to have his picture taken all day.

Mommy with her babies. Nora is in the carrier.

I was happy with Olivia's pick - I thought it was fairly conservative and not TOO large. However, when they put it on the scale, it weighed more than Garrett's! At .49 cents a pound - both of their pumpkins were quite an investment.

Playgroup Pumpkin gang.
From left to right (top) Garrett, holding Nora. Olivia, holding Riley. Esther, holding Brynn. Kylee, and Ava. Left to right (bottom) Jon, holding Ben. Gideon.

Crisp Pumpkin gang.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Festivals and Sibling love

Everything is going well here. Other than me not being able to blog. I seem to be in a blog block. Really, I've written three blogs and never published them because I'm just not happy with them. I was kinda feeling good about this blog, until my wonderful, proof-reading husband said, "You might want to re-read this, it's kinda choppy. I don't think you'll like it if you re-read it all together." So what if I have a newborn who doesn't want to sleep in her own bed. So what if that causes me to get little sleep. Which in turn makes my brain not work. Leading to the blog block. So here you go - pictures with choppy content. Enjoy! :)

Esther loves to hold Nora the most.

Gid still loves to kiss her.

Olivia is a great help when Nora doesn't want to sleep in her cradle and only wants to be held.

We've spent the last couple of Saturdays at local Fall Festivals. There are always tons of venders and food, but we only do the free stuff. It's great fun and the kids really don't mind as long as they get their faces painted and ride a pony.

Marlton Festival
This face painting booth was our church, Sovereign Grace.

Of course there were tons of free balloons - which I hate. Why? You ask. Number 1 - we tie them to the stroller so they don't lose them to the sky, so they get in my face while I try to maneuver through the massive amounts of people - annoying! Number 2 - because we save them from the sky and they make it home they float around the house and then lay around the house for the next week because the kids want to play with them.

Es petting a bunny.

Mt. Laurel Festival
Aunt Ange walking with Gideon on the pony.

The five older cousins - Nora is in the stroller behind Esther's head and Brynn is in the stroller that Garrett's hand is on. I know, so sad that they didn't make the cut.

Esther's butterfly.

Garrett's sand art.

Liv driving the fire truck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome Eleanor "Nora" Lynne

Our 5th miracle was born on Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 4:51 pm. After having to be induced because of high blood pressure Eleanor made her grand appearance. It was a nice quick delivery and stay at the hospital. So far she's a great baby and her siblings are loving her. Finally, a baby of ours has hair!!

Big sister Esther really loves her.

Goin' home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where have we been??

I know, I know, I am a slacker.

I am also a wife, a mother of 4 (almost 5), a nomad, a daughter and a friend. I am wonderfully made, and beautiful in His sight, even if I don't always look beautiful, inside or out. There have been good days, GREAT days, bad days, ugly days, and REALLY ugly days in our lives. I am learning how to be a better marriage partner. Loving unconditionally, selflessly, and in submission to who my husband is in God. I am letting the training of our children teach me more than I ever thought possible. I am learning how to be a better friend and making deep relationships with women who challenge, encourage, and love me.

We have decided to home school Olivia and Garrett this year. This decision came suddenly and was confirmed quickly. Homeschooling is something I NEVER considered for our family. After seeing how uncertain our future is in the next year, I felt it was the only way to go for the stability of our family.

We have found a home church that we LOVE! Sovereign Grace Church is where we call home now and are excited to get more involved this fall. They are currently meeting in a high school auditorium and are building their own campus as we speak. It was so obvious to us after only a couple of weeks that this was where God wanted us to attend.

We are back at my mom and dad's and are so thankful for their willingness to have us. It's not easy for anyone to live in close quarters, but we all do the best we can and are learning about respect for other's space, things, and time. We are currently praying that we will be able to find a home of our own (most likely a rental) that we can afford and raise our family in.

The kids and I spent much of the summer taking weekly trips to the shore with friends and family. We also spent the last week of August and first week of September in a rental home with my moms family. It was a wonderful week with family and the beach. The only thing that would have made it better was if Josh could have joined us. But duty called and there was work to be done. And still is, thank God. We are so thankful that he has a job that is not cutting hours, salary, or even employees because of the economy.

Now for some pictures from the summer.

Olivia and Garrett spent a couple of days in the garage with my dad building things with the scrap wood he has out there. Garrett started the building projects when he designed, assembled, and painted his airplane. Olivia got to build a bird house. It was a great time with
P-Pop and I know the kids will remember it for the rest of their lives.

The birdhouse coming together.

Garrett with his airplane.

P-Pop was really impressed with how well Garrett thought out and put together his creation.

Daddy with his boys! LOVE THEM!