Nov 27, 2011

The Treehouse

One fine Fall day, every one of my children disappeared.  The house was quiet.  I decided that since I am their mother, and it's best to know where your children are, I should go looking. So, off I went.  Rocky came along.  I stepped outside, and didn't see anyone.   I heard a distant thumping sound. It seemed to be coming from the apple orchard. I looked down at Rocky.  "Where are the kids, buddy?"  He took off running.  I ran after him like Alice in Wonderland chasing the rabbit.  He took me to the edge of the woods.  

And there they all were...building a tree fort.

It was one of those mommy moments where my heart was filled to the brim with love.  I was busting at the seams with pride to see them working together to make something special.  Each one working away in their own little corner.  They were so excited to see me there, and took me on the tour.  "Mom!  Look our tree fort!"   "This is our kitchen."  "Matt's working on the second floor...doesn't it look super cool?"  "Mommy!  Look at my swing!"  I oohed and ahhed their fort, but truth be told, I was really oohing and ahhing over the fact that God gave me these five precious gifts!

Oh, how I love these faces!

Once the tree house was built, the boys decided to play a game of angry birds.

 The real version......

We drew little pig faces on green balloons, and set them up in the woods.

  The boys took their places in "the super cool second floor that Matt built..." 

And fired away.

A little imagination, a whole bunch of laughter....all for zero dollars.  -ya can't get that at Walmart.

Enjoy the little things, because you'll find that they weren't so "little" after all.

Nov 5, 2011

Weight loss - Life Found

I'm writing this from a very personal place in my heart. I don't want to forget this journey. More importantly, I pray that it will help someone who is weary and tired of running the same old race. This road to health was much more about God teaching me some very important lessons, than just "eating right and exercising" so I can be "skinny."  I hope that I can share my heart with you without sounding too "Jillian Michael-ish." --she bugs the tar outta me.

Here goes......

A few years ago, I got to witness my sister run her first half marathon.  Since then, she has gone on to run several full marathons.  I remember the morning of her half marathon.  I remember the nervousness I felt for her. I remember all the training she had done to prepare for this day. I remember her coming home for holidays, and getting up early so she wouldn't miss a training day. She was very determined to accomplish what she set out to do. Race day arrived. This was her day....all that she trained for condensed down to this one day.  She stepped up to the start line. We were all smiling and cheering for our sister/auntie/and daughter. We were so proud of her!  The crowd was full of cheering, clapping and whistling.  Everyone was anticipating the sound of that gun. Krissy looked over at us, and gave a final wave.  The gun fired, and she was off.

When you're standing on the sidelines, you can't help but notice the wide array of runners out there... different shapes, sizes, and ages. -yet coming together to accomplish their one goal... to finish.  I'm sure each one had their own story of what brought them to this race.  My husband and I love watching the Ironman that takes place in Hawaii each year.  It's so inspiring to hear some of their stories. Some of them have overcome tremendous odds! My thoughts were interrupted as the first racers blew by me. I stood there in awe. Tears filled my eyes and began streaming down my face. One after another, they went racing by me.... in wheelchairs!  Where did they get the strength to do this? I felt a sense of guilt as I looked down at my legs. They worked, but were not being used to their fullest potential.  I had no excuse. These wheelchair athletes were certainly not going to allow their "handicap" to hinder  them.

I looked on the internet for the definition of the word "handicap," and found this.

       handicap - A condition that markedly restricts a person's ability to function physically, mentally, or socially.

I honestly did not see these people as being "handicapped." I saw myself as the handicapped one. I was, "restricting my own ability to function physically, mentally or socially." A life of inactivity and poor food choices had crippled me.  The wheelchairs continued to pass by. They were determined, disciplined and strong. -Oh, how I wanted to be like that!   I walked around for the rest of the day with a plastered smile on, but my mind was in a fog....Where would I be five or ten years from now?

My sister crossed the finish line. I felt like I was just walking up to my "start" line.

I went home with a new determination.  I was so sure that I was really going to do it this time.  I had tried so many diets.  I didn't want to fail again.  I really wanted to change,  but somehow my cravings always won out, killing my determination.  I went right back to what I knew best... no discipline, and a peanut butter cup sundae with extra peanut butter sauce. Occasionally, I would think back on Krissy's race day with wishful thoughts.  I really did want to run a half marathon some day.  Why couldn't I get that will power?

One day as I was out grocery shopping, grabbing all my favorite treats, and throwing in junk food after junk food, I noticed the contents of my carriage. -chips, doughnuts, cookies, ice cream, brownie mix, sugar cereals, hot dogs, white bread...We were going to eat all this in one week!!  I was repulsed.  "What am I doing to my family?"  I am responsible for their health.  I'm the one who shops and cooks the food. "My" choices were not just affecting me anymore.  If I wanted to do that to myself, that was one thing, but to make those unhealthy choices for my growing children...that was another thing!  I wasn't the only one affected with weight gain in my family. My husband was overweight as well, and it affected his work greatly. He would come home more exhausted than normal.  MY grocery shopping, MY example of unhealthy living, MY cooking was also destroying quality of life for MY family.

Life was about to change!

When I got home from the grocery store, I immediately went downstairs where our Nordic track was kept prisoner.  I removed all of the clothes that were drying, blew the dust off and reclaimed my machine. I got on it, and began moving my arms and legs.  Beads of sweat were pouring off of me.  I was out of breath.  I was sore.  I stared straight ahead.  Woooo-weeee....Yeah, man, I was in my "zone."  I did not allow myself to look down at the timer.  I wanted to go as long as I possibly could without time limiting me.  Agonizing second after agonizing second passed by.  My body was screaming at me to get off.  I persevered.  I wasn't going to give in.  In fact, I cranked it out hard for those last few seconds.  That's it!  That's as far as I could go, but WOW! I must have been on there for at least 20 minutes.   I looked down at the timer..."WHAT?  IS THIS THING BROKEN??...TWO MINUTES!!?"  I could only handle two minutes!  I burst into tears.  My husband came home just as I was dragging my exhausted body up the stairs.  I poured my heart out to him. "I coudn't even last two minutes!  I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, " I sobbed.  Joel, my darling husband, the love of my life, my best friend, always my encourager, just hugged me.  In his gentle voice, he told me how beautiful I was, and no matter what size I was, he would love me.  "I can't stand seeing you sad about your weight. I hate seeing you cry about it.  I promise that I'll help you."   As heavy as I was, he still made me feel beautiful, but he also knew my heart was breaking under my weight....literally!  I signed up for a gym membership.  I remember how embarrassed I felt the first time I entered Gold's Gym.  I felt like everyone was looking at me, like I didn't belong. (Quite frankly, I felt like Han Solo in that bar room scene on Star Wars.) After about a month, I made friends with Fran, the 80 year old woman who always had the third eliptical machine from the right.  -Get it right.  It's the third, not the second!  I learned quickly, that was Fran's machine!  If I missed one day, Fran would ask where I was.  My nosey little buddy kept me honest about my commitment to the gym.  I met another woman one day, who shared her "weight story with me."  She had gastric bypass surgery, but within a short period she gained it all back.  She was back to square one, trying to lose her weight the right way this time. I'll never forget her pointing to her head saying,  "The surgery couldn't fix this." (Karate Kid really did know what he was talking about when he said, "Nah, it's not here" -points to his scrawny, little bicep- "It's here"-points to his head.)

Eventually those sad little two minutes on my Nordic Track became 15 minutes on the treadmill, then 20 minutes, and before I knew it, I was outside jogging two miles, than three.  I continued to add a little more on each week.  I searched blogs that promoted a healthy lifestyle.  I started looking for new substitutes for healthier cooking.  I joined Weight Watchers for a few months.  Little by little,  the weight started to come off.

So far, I've lost 47 pounds.

And my husband has lost 50!! 

He kept his promise! He was there for me. He encouraged me. He ran with me.  He wouldn't let me cheat, even when I got mad at him and DEMANDED he bring me home chocolate.

Last year, my sister got to come home for Thanksgiving.  Joel, Krissy and I thought it would be fun to wake up on Thanksgiving morning and go running.  We live among the hills, so it was a pretty difficult 8 mile run.  Krissy turned to me and said, "You know you could run a half marathon, right now, don't you?" Huffing along side of her, I rolled my eyes and sarcastically said, "Yeah right." She looked at me, and with all authority that my phlegmatic sister could muster, she said, "Beck!! You. Can. Run. A. Half. Marathon!!!!!"  Although I was a few sizes smaller, the self doubt was still there.   "Ok, here's the deal,"  Krissy said, "All three of us are going to register for a race. I'll fly home, and we're going to run a half marathon in the Spring."  The deal was sealed with sweaty high-fives.

And now, the real training began.

My schedule was very busy! I would homeschool from 9:00-3:00 and by 3:30, my sneakers were on, and I was running out the door. -leaving behind piles of papers, dishes and laundry.  At first, I had such a guilty feeling, leaving all that mess.   However, the guilty feeling subsided when I found that I was actually much more productive after a run, and seemed to get twice as much work done.  My exercise time became very precious to me.  It was an important part of my day that I looked forward to.  I would put my headphones on, listen to Christian music, or messages, pray, and plan.  I felt stronger physically and spiritually each time I returned home.

Many of my runs were with Joel.  He is much faster than me, but we made a great pair on his "slow days" and my "long and hard days."   I remember struggling one day as Joel was running along next to me.  There was so much self doubt floating around my brain!  I doubted the speed, the distance, the hills, my strength.  I doubted that he wanted to even run next to me, because quite frankly.....I couldn't stand myself at the moment.  I was a ball of anxiety and insecurity! He never stopped encouraging me,  "You can do it!"  My legs were like jello. "I can't today." I was so mad at myself, because just the day before I had gone twice as far.  I kept saying, "I can't."  He kept saying, "You can!"  I was gasping for air. "Babe!" I whined, "I just can't! I've got nothing in me right now!"  Finally, I stopped and started to walk with my tears streaming down my cheeks.  I felt like a failure. He hugged me. "Look how far you've come!!   Remember those 2 minutes of exercise when you first started?  Every day is not going to be your 'best day.' You've got to work through these hard times, because you're going to have them on race day...just keep running. But don't worry, I'll be there next to you."

I love this man! He was willing to sacrifice his own race time in order to help me achieve my best, but deep down, I knew that I was going to have to do this race myself.

"You don't need to run next to me.  I want you to run your own pace on race day." It stung as I said it out loud.

"No, I am going to run next to you. Beck, you need me. I see how you struggle, and I can help you."

"You do help me, and I will forever need you, but I feel like I'm at a point now where I need to become a stronger runner.  I can't always rely on you to get me through the hard times during my running.  I really want you to run your personal best on race day.  Krissy will run hers, and I'll run mine.  Then we can all celebrate at the finish line."

"Alright," he agreed.

We were about three miles from home. I had an idea, "Let's not wait until the race for you to take off ahead of me. It will play on my already weakened emotions.  So, do it right now. Go ahead and run your pace.  We're not far from home anyways."

He refused.

"Really.  I'm serious.  I think it will help me become a stronger runner. Go ahead."

"Alright, if you think it will help you, than next run, I will."

"No, I need you to do it right now....please!" I begged.

We ran for a bit in silence.

"Are you sure?" he asked.



And with that, he gave me the "football pat" on the bum, and was off.  I tried to keep up.  I couldn't.  I tried to keep him in sight.  Impossible. It didn't take long before he was completely out of sight.  It was just me, the pounding of my sneakers, and as always...God.  I am never alone.  Sometimes I rely more on my husband than on God.  If I have a problem, I'm more apt to share it with my husband and rely on him to fix it, than to pray and leave it with God to fix. In a small way, running would help me see my need to change this. What I didn't know at the time was that particular training run was going to be the beginning of a much bigger picture that only God knew.

Because we wanted to focus more on our pace, the majority of our training would be done separately.  Sometimes I would be running up the hill toward home, as he was coming down.  We high-fived and gave encouragement. We both downloaded a running app to our iphones.  It  had a GPS so we could see where each other was.  It was fun to track that little green dot on my phone, and when I knew he was faced with a hill, I would quietly pray for him.  He did the same for me. Many days, Joel would call to tell me that he was on his way home from work, and I would say, "Ok, I'm running toward you. Be looking for me out there." It was fun to "race" him.  I loved seeing his truck heading toward me.  He pulled off to the side of the road. I climbed in where he had a water bottle, power bar and kiss waiting.

A few months before our big race, Krissy called with some bad news.  She had a stress fracture in her foot.  The race was off for's orders.  I was sad for her and sad for me.  "Listen!" she said, "I AM flying home for you guys.  I will not miss this for anything!!"

Finally! After months of training, and years of dreaming, our race day came.  I picked up my sister from the airport the day before.  We anxiously talked about the race. She gave me great advice for proper nutrition and tips for the half marathon.  She encouraged me to stop at all the water stations along the race.  It was suppose to be record high heat!  In fact, race day was suppose to be so hot that we received an e-mail from the Memorial Day Half Marathon giving us options to back out, and run next year instead.  Or they suggested that we pick a race with less mileage.  Joel said, "If you want out, now's the time.  You could do a 10K if you wanted to."  I was bummed. We had trained for the full half marathon. "I don't want to back out. Who cares if it's hot.  We've run through hot weather before." I decided that I was still running the half.  Joel did, too.  We laid our running clothes out, and set our alarms for 4:00 am.  I tossed and turned in bed all night.  Doubtful thoughts were keeping me awake.  "Did I train enough?  Would it be a good run day?  Was it going to be too hot?  Should I go for the 10K?    Those hills are huge! Will my legs cramp up?  Am I even going to get enough sleep to get through it?"  The next morning,  my running buddy and ever encouraging husband woke up....SICKER THAN I HAVE EVER SEEN HIM.  He could barely walk to the kitchen for breakfast.  He was sitting at the table trying to eat breakfast, and heaving for breath.  He looked at me with sad eyes and said,  "I just can't run today."  My heart broke for him.  He had trained so hard.  His heart broke for me. "I'm so sorry," he said. He wanted our first half marathon to be together. Now, it was just me.  I looked into his handsome face, "It's ok, honey!  It's ok!! God has prepared me for this."  The clocked chimed, and it was time to leave.  I don't even think I was this nervous about giving birth! When we arrived at the race, we were instructed to get our packet and go line up.  I honestly thought I might throw up or just give up.......or perhaps both!  My sister helped calm my nerves, and pin my number on.  My shaky hands couldn't do it.

An announcement was made that it was time to step up to the start line.  This was it!  All that I had trained for was about to be put to the test.  My mind was in complete panic mode. I walked over to my sweetheart, encourager and running buddy to say "Goodbye." I felt like I could burst into tears. His eyes looked sick, but he wasn't about to show me how he was feeling. He hugged me tight. "You're gonna do great!" he smiled. I sighed. Oh how I hated walking away.

The music began playing, "Sweet Home Alabama."  People were jogging in place, high fiving and cheering. My sister decided to run the first few miles with me to help keep me on pace.  "Don't start off too fast or you won't have anything at the end," she advised.  She saw the anxiety on my face. "Don't be nervous! This is fun!" The alarm sounded, and my half marathon had officially begun!  I blew a kiss and waved to my husband and sweet little fans, as we ran by.  "See you at the finish line," he smiled.   I knew he was praying for me.

It was a little congested at the beginning of the race as everyone was finding their pace.  Krissy ran along next to me.  Before I knew it, we were at mile 2. "Alright," She said, "I'm heading back now. You got this!  I'll see you at the end." And with that, she broke off from the pack, and headed back.  I put my earphones in.  All was well.  She was right.  I was having fun.  The first five miles were easy.  I was enjoying the scenery. My music was uplifting. I was happy.  "I'm doing it." I thought. "I am running a half marathon!"  I was thinking about all my training runs.  I had put many hours and many miles in for this moment...this moment! I am running my half marathon.  13.1 miles! Everything was going smoothly.  

 Shortly after mile 6, I started getting hot...very hot.  My legs starting to cramp.  I knew it was my body's way of telling me to get water, but the water stations just were not coming fast enough. At miles 7 and 8, I could feel every step. At mile 9, the battle of my mind had begun, "I can't do it.  I'm so tired.  I can't, I can't...." I was looking around every corner for family. Even though Joel said, "See you at the finish line," I was secretly hoping that they were going to surprise me, and show up somewhere out there on the course.  I knew he was sick and had two munchkins in tow, but who knows...maybe, juuuuust maybe, he would show up??  I needed someone to be there.  I saw the sign marking mile 10. At that point, I really began questioning whether or not I would be able to finish.  I had another 3.1 miles to go. My legs had slowed to a walk. "Please Lord, " I prayed, as my eyes were scanning for a familiar face,  "I need someone to help me.  I can't do this on my own."  My eyes welled up with tears.  I felt myself giving up. I was so out of breath.  I was so thirsty, so hot, so hungry and so tired.  I remembered that run with Joel when he told me that I was going to hit a hard spot in the half marathon, and to just keep going, keep praying, keep going.  This was no longer about my legs not making it the 13.1 miles.  It was about my mind!

 I thought back 47 pounds ago to the "old Becky."  The one who only dreamed about races, but thought she could never do one.  

Phillipeans 4:13

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" 

I was heaving for air. "Lord," I prayed,  "You breathed life into all of mankind with one breath into Adam. Just give me a little breath....Please, Lord, breath life in me right now!"  I was absolutely exhausted. I had been running for almost 2 hours.  At mile 11, I came around a corner and saw a huge hill. "Breathe....breathe."  It was all I could whisper.  I kept my head down and stared straight ahead.  That was how I tackled hills.  Don't look at the whole thing.  It's just one step after another.  I was definitely slowing down.  Runners that I had passed were now passing me. Insecurities starting plaguing my thoughts.  Pain was shooting from my heels to my thighs.  I needed water desperately!  I looked up to see when my next water station was coming, and SUDDENLY, my heart jumped!!!!  It was as if the entire sky opened up, and I heard the "Hallelujah chorus."  There was a familiar silhouette!  At the top of the hill, with her arms raised up to the sky was the answer to my prayer....MY SISTER!  She was running toward me with a huge grin on her face.  I was half running, half walking, half limping toward her.  Tears filled my eyes.   I was swallowing hard to fight back the sob that was about to explode from the depths of my heart.  When she got to me, she gave me a huge hug....

"How are you doing?"

"Not good." I breathlessly answered.

"Ok, well, I've just come from the finish line.  You have one more big hill, so save some energy for that one."

"I have none."  She handed me a squished, little peanut butter sandwich that she had run 2 miles with.

I inhaled it.

"You've got one more water station at mile 12, and then it's HOME FREE, Baby!"

It felt so good to have someone next to me, telling me what was up ahead.  I was sick of the surprise hills.  We continued running, side by side.  She was cracking jokes, trying to get my mind off the pain. I felt a smile s-l-o-w-l-y emerge for the first time like I was the Christmas Grinch.  We passed the sign that said mile 12.  "Come on, Beck," she cheered, "One mile! You can do this for just one more mile.  Let's try to go a little faster." That little sandwich fueled me. My legs were gaining strength. My wimpy mind getting stronger. And then, I saw it....mile 13!  I have never been so happy to see the number 13 in all my life!!  "This is it!" she said, her words filling up my once empty tank. "Thank you so much, Krissy! I couldn't have done it without you."  As we rounded the last bend, she turned toward me, and offered her last words of encouragement,

"You're about to become a half marathoner!  Look!  It's right up there.  See the finish line?"

"Yes," I whispered.  

"Joel's waiting for you.  You did it, Beck!  You did it!!"   She slipped off like an angel, and disappeared into the crowd on the sidelines to cheer for me as I crossed the finish line.   I saw the huge banner with those beautiful letters that spelled, "FINISH."   There was my husband under the banner, just as my sister said. He was smiling from ear to ear.  My babies on either side of him. "Here comes Mommy!" he proudly announced to the kids.  I ran under that banner and right into his arms.  "Good job, BABY!" his voiced cracked.  He held me tight, as I was gasping for air, "I'm so proud of very proud of you!"  I heard my name over the loud speaker,

"I wanna congratulate Rebecca Browning -Congratulations on finishing your half marathon."

 Me...a half marathoner.  It was no longer a dream. It was stamped with "finished."  I looked down at my smiling children who had their arms wrapped around me as well, "Good job, Mommy."  They had no idea that this was much more about enduring hard things, than their mamma wanting to run a long, boring race.  They had no idea that this was much more about keeping my body under subjection, than their mamma just hoping to lose weight so I could fit into smaller clothes.  This race was about getting my life back under control.  God used this half marathon to drive the truth home of His word.

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Verses like that penetrate my heart a little deeper now.  I feel like I understand the word, "endure" much better.

"Endurance can only take place when there is the presence of something difficult."  

Resistance creates strength. I refer back to those difficult training runs a lot more than the victorious ones.  My mind daily tells me to give up when life presents its challenges.  Homeschooling is hard.  Raising children is hard.  Keeping a home in order is hard, but sitting around "on the sidelines," wishing for the hard things to get done, doesn't get them done.  My son gave me this piece of advice the other day, "Mom, did you know that when Thomas Edison was questioned on all his failed attempts at the lightbulb, he said, 'I didn't fail 3,000 times.  I just found 3,000 ways not to make a lightbulb."  He never gave up.  Maybe at some point, he wanted to, but he never did.  Johann Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, faced much opposition in trying to open his printing shop.  Eventually, he went bankrupt, but along came a man who believed in him and financed his way. Johann Gutenberg gets the credit for the invention, but his wealthy friend made quite the assist!  When I had absolutely nothing left in that race, my sister showed up with some encouragement and nourishment. -That's how we ought to be when we see those struggling with hardships.  We all need it.  Krissy had been through several marathons.  She knew what I was feeling.  She could relate.  She was in a place where she could give me advice. If God has brought you through something difficult, use it to help others.

Proverbs 12: 25  

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

We are all in a race, whether you registered for one or not.   If you're on the sidelines saying, "Woe is me.  I could never do that," -Get in the race!  Start running.  If you are going through something difficult, -Keep running. Don't ever, ever give up!  And Pray!  Maybe you've already gone through a painful hardship, and you've crossed that finish line. - Don't forget to run back and offer your help to others.

My half marathon is finished, but as long as I'm here on earth, I'll keep running this race for the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31 - But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Nov 2, 2011

The Great Conqueror

The kids have this thing with arm wrestling lately.  It's important for them to align themselves according to muscle strength.  Lest you think, "Alexander, The Great" holds the title for greatest conqueror, you are wrong.  It is my husband. I know it.  The kids know it, and now you know it. When one beats Daddy, he (or she) becomes: "Ruler"..."King of the Home"..."Biggest Scariest Kid on the Block" and "One to be Respected by All."  History books will be rewritten in your honor.   

Because the title, "Great Conqueror" is at stake, we have weekly matches. Someone is always challenging Daddy, which then causes people to buy tickets and get in line.  (Really, it's a great way to make money.) 

First up is Emma.  We let her cheat.
It doesn't help, but it sure is fun to watch.

Next up is Mikey.  He grunted, pushed and pulled.  He used every muscle in his arm (and face) that he could muster.

Careful! don't pop a blood vessel there, buddy.

Now Matt is our longest running contestant.  He has been trying to beat his dad for years.  It drives him crazy when he looks up, and sees that Joel isn't even trying, yet.  With beads of sweat dripping off his temples, he said breathlessly, "Ok Dad.....seriously...try this time!"  

And with that, "BOOM!"  He's down.  He's out. He's got tweety birds flying in circles around in his head.  Game over.

One day,'ll beat day!  I will be standing next to you with poms-poms in my hands, provided I'm not in the nursing home. 

Nov 1, 2011

One more Mikey pic

Look at this squishy baby!  Look at those chubby toes.  Smell him.  I just know if this was a scratch and sniff picture, it would smell like baby powder. 

Oct 26, 2011

Mikey's 10! (and I can't handle it)

One decade ago today, this sweet, little baby was added to the family.

As I look at this picture, there are several things to note.
1. Mary genuinely believes that she just delivered this baby, and is now the proud, new mommy.

2. Matt is absolutely convinced that no box of legos could ever surpass this gift that had just been handed to him. (well, unless it was the entire Galactic Empire Star Wars set)

Mikey is ten years old today!  Just typing that last sentence makes me want to drop to the floor in a heap of tears and scream, "Give me my baby back!"  That went by way too fast!  These boyhood years will turn into teen years, then college years and then....(uuuut! I'm gonna do it....I'm gonna drop to the floor in a heap of tears again!)  Too much of my mothering has been spent wishing things away:

"I wish he could reach out and grab that rattle"
"I wish he could crawl."
"I wish he would walk."
"I wish he could tie his own shoes."
"I wish he could climb in the car seat and buckle himself."
"I wish he could put his snow clothes on."
"I wish he would match his clothes."
(Right now, I am wishing that I could crawl inside that black and white picture up there, and hold that baby!)

This is my "baby" now......

In a few years, I'll be wishing to play soccer with this little boy...big boy.  I refuse to wish away anything else!  I've wished for far too much already, and have gotten it.  

And besides, if you try to steal from the past, and make it today.......

                It's just weird....and not near as cute.

Tonight, we will celebrate by taking our big 10 year old to the restaurant of his choice.  "So, Mikey...What's it going to be?  Mexican?  Chinese?  Italian?  Olive Garden has the best food, ya know! And totally awesome breadsticks!" (fingers crossed.)

"Wendy's." he said matter of factly.

"Wendy's?  As in the place that sells french fries and frostys?"

"YEAH! That place is awesome! Grammy took me there once."

 So, Wendy's it is. (Thanks, Mom -Why couldn't you have taken him to Olive Garden?)

 Look what this big boy is doing now!  

Joel did have to assist with pushing the chair down on the lawnmower.  Apparently, it has a weight limit, and our soccer player has not met the "weight requirements" that alerts the lawnmower's computer brain that there is indeed a man operating it.  Because of this, the lawnmower kept shutting off.  (That's an extra large Frosty for you tonight, Mike! --make that two!)

 Mikey Aaaaaa-dores his cousin, Josh, with a capital A!  Josh is 18 and college bound.  (ut! tissues please....tissues!)  I call Josh "Six Flags on legs" because the kids LOVE him, and he's a blast to be around!   --See what I mean?

Mikey had one request for his birthday (that he put in about mid-Julyish)  "Could Josh sleep over for my birthday?"  Knowing that this was Josh's senior year, and all the busyness he had going on with soccer games and his social life, I just answered with, "We'll see."  As Trish and I were chatting on the phone one day, I told her about my conversation with Mikey. "Oh he'd love to, Beck!  We'll make it happen."

So, this past weekend, Mikey's birthday dream came true....

Josh + a box of legos + the Wii game, "Just Dance" 
"Jackie Chan, The Kung-Fu Master"  +  junkfood  =  

The Best Birthday this 10 year old kid could ever dream of!

As quickly as the sun tucks behind that mountain each night, I feel like you are turning into a young man.  I am enjoying every minute being your mom.  You brought a new love into our family the day you were born.  I will never forget Matt and Mary plowing into that hospital room, all out of breath, and out of their mind with excitement to see you! Mary "mothered," while Matt "protected" you.  It was a beautiful thing to watch! (still is) There were many times that we would stand outside your bedroom door, and listen to Matt talk to you. He would bring you toys, as you stood hanging onto your crib for dear life.  Your giggles from the swing in the corner of our little dining room would make us all stop what we were doing, and immediately run to you and try our "stand up comedy."  We just loved hearing you laugh.  The most hysterical giggles came when Matt or Mary would pop up and scare you.  

At this moment, you and Matt are building a tree fort together...memories still being made.  Although scaring you is not so funny to you any more, the never-ending bond between you and your siblings is still  there.  Now, we get to see you play the role of  "big protective brother." I love the way you care about your sisters.  I love the way you defend them.  I love the way, you took care of Annie when she fell off her bike.  I love the way you look up to your brother and daddy.  I love the sweet tenderness of your heart to give anything you have away... even if it's your last piece of candy.  I will never forget the first time you shared a verse with all of us that you read. With your bottom lip quivering, you told us that you were sorry for losing your temper that morning.  These are the moments that I have sealed forever in my heart.  I treasure them.  We are blessed to call you, "our son."  Today, I am thanking God once again for allowing us to be your parents!

I look forward to watching you grow up...but please! don't do it so quickly! You've already learned to  crawl, walk, talk, get in and out of the car, as well as put your snowsuit on...You can even mow the lawn!  The next 10 years, you will be driving, getting a job, staying up late talking to daddy about life, going to college and perhaps finding the girl of your dreams?  The only thing that I wish for   pray for, is that you will grow up loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.

Words could never express how much we all love you!   You are the joy and laughter of our family! 
Happy Birthday, precious boy!
We love you!

Sep 24, 2011

An Advertisement for Homeschooling

Homeschooling is well on it's way. 

Annie is in first grade now.  She is pondering the deep questions of life. 

 For instance, the other night, she approached me with:
"Mom, where does poop come fwum?"  I looked at my husband who was grinning from ear to ear.  He couldn't wait to hear how I was going to explain this one. 

"Well, Annie...ummm, that's a great question... basically, it's leftover food that your body doesn't need."


"Because your body doesn't use everything you put into it."

 "Why does it stink?"

"Probably because it's been through your digestive system."


"Any other questions?"

"Yeah. Where does tinkle come fwum?"

(Does anyone have a book of gross topics that I could borrow?)


I was thrilled to find this big bulletin board in the clearance section at Michaels.  I grabbed it,and brought it home.  I asked my honey to paint the border black so it wouldn't look so "bulletin-boardish" -Is that an adjective?  It is today.

It's a great spot to showcase good grades, as well as post daily schedules, jobs, music information, verses and reading charts.

And speaking of reading....I was alarmed the other day when Annie frantically called me from the other room. 

"Mom!!  There's a bad 'pictchor' in my reading book!"  

"Oh no, honey.  What do you mean?  I don't think there are any bad pictures in your reading book."

 -The look on her face would cause any Army sergeant to shake in  his boots-

"It's a 'VER-WEEEE' bad 'pictchor'!!"  (emphasis on the "WEEEEE" as you read that)

"Do I have to read this?" 



"Let me see it." 

 I'll be honest.  I giggled like a 4th grader.  I don't know what's more comical:

1. The fact that he's trying to dry off with a hand towel


2.  That he's wearing blush 

 By the way, I did make her read the book.  -Enough of this sheltering business! 


When Rocky first came to live with us, he had a hard time accepting the fact that the kids were not always available to play with him the second he wanted.  

Homeschooling has brought a little order to Rocky's life.  He now waits patiently for Matt to finish his work.

And when Matt is done, Rocky goes with him.

Matt and Mary had a rather interesting experiment during their English class.  The lesson was on "How to Write a Good Paragraph."  A good paragraph needs to have a great topic sentence and concluding sentence.  Some people tend to squeeze way too much information in between those two sentences.

Let's use an oreo cookie to help explain this a little further:

This is a perfectly balanced treat. It has a great chocolaty "topic" sentence, a lovely middle and an equally as great "concluding" bottom.

Could there ever be too much filling in the middle? 

Let's find out.....

a 30 stuffed oreo!

 The answer is yes, you can have too much in the middle. 

In conclusion:  I once heard that emotion and weird humor help people retain what they learn. You can ask Matt when he's 47 if he remembers this little experiment, because that's about how long it will take for his bellyache to subside.

Sep 17, 2011

Cucumbers...oh the cucumbers!

We planted a garden for the first time this summer.  We weren't sure how the garden would do with our soil.  Joel's grandfather rents his land to farmers. Grandpa pretty much has the best soil on the face of the planet.  So, Joel hauled some of that beautiful, mineral rich filth over here, and threw it down.  Mikey was there to help.

Because we're newbie farmers, we opted to plant less, and just see what we get.  

Our soil did not fail us!!! The tomatoes did great - as well as the the green and red peppers.  And then, there were the cucumbers....oh the cucumbers!!!!!

The cucumbers did well....


 CRAZY WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like, "I never want to see another cucumber as long as I live" well.

I've made pickles...lots and lots of pickles. I've put cucumbers in smoothies, soups, lasagna and sandwiches. I've put cucumbers on my puffy eyes, legs, arms and rear. -I mean, I don't know.....why not, right? 

I've tried just about every salad on the internet that has the word "cucumber" in it.  No one is allowed in this house, unless they walk out with a cucumber...make that 5 cucumbers! As a joke for Dad's birthday, I had each one of the kids take a cucumber and decorate it.  Then, they delivered his basket of bountiful blessings. 

I once loved cucumbers.  And now quite honestly, I never want to see another one again.  

Don't let that tear fool you.  They're evil!

Sep 13, 2011

The Enchanted Woods

Two days ago, Grampy took the little ones for a walk. They returned, wide-eyed and out of breath, as they burst through the door. "MOM! We found a waterfall!!" They told everyone around the dinner table about their "secret hideout." I guess that negates the "secret" part.

 The following day, they begged me to take them to their "not so secret any more" hideout. I looked around the room at the piles of laundry begging to be folded, the dishes pleading to be washed, the paper work waiting to be filed, the furniture choking on dust and my stinky armpits screaming for a shower.  I had much to do. I told them to wait.   The sun was moving across the sky, reminding me that there were only a few short hours left of daylight. I sighed in exhaustion.  I will always have "so much to do," but my children need to know that they are at the top of that list! I dropped the laundry in the hallway, told the dishes and paper work to wait and slathered on extra deodorant. I called the little girls (sidenote: they informed Joel and I that they do not like being called "little girls" any more.) 

 So, I called the "old ladies" and asked them to take me to their secret hide away. They were more than willing! On the way down the driveway, we grabbed a friend who knew the way.... :) 

We walked for about 5 minutes, and suddenly we were there!  I was shocked that I drove past this little area every day and never noticed it. This was no secret hideout. It was an enchanted forest! 

A place where little girls could dream and pretend to be whatever they wanted. 

The excitement was spilling from their eyes, ears and mouth. They couldn't wait to walk in the water!

As the girls took off hand in hand, I sat in awe of our Creator. I tried to take it all in. I want to remember this moment. I want the images burned in my mind. I try to engage all of my senses. The sun was streaming in between massive trees, creating pockets of happiness along the water. The girls were wading around the water holding hands. Shades of green and brown were encircling me.  I listened to the beauty of the birds singing mixed with mini water falls and giggles.  When I'm 80, I hope I'll remember this day.

Ann Voskamp writes about the danger of being rushed in her book, "One Thousand Gifts." It really opened my eyes to how I was living.  We live in a fast-paced world, demanded by clocks and to do lists.  We are in a constant hurry to get to the next thing.  Sadly, in our hurrying, we miss beautiful things. 

In hurrying, we don't stop and take time to smile at faces around us because we're too busy grumbling about how long a line is or why a car is going so slow in front of us. In hurrying, we fail to say "thank you" to our great God.

Look around you. What do you see? Laundry? Messes? To do lists? Mud all over your daughter's jean shorts?

 Look harder.  

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting." -Psalm 118:29

I guess I created a little extra laundry for myself that day.....but you know what?

There will always be "to do lists." There won't always be little ones begging to take you to their "secret" fort.