Wednesday, August 13, 2014

the blessing of friends

Lord, help us all. My children have all developed a love of Battleship this summer. I used to love the game as a kid, but my mother hated it and I never could figure out why. Now I know. Tired mama + a painfully show game is not a good mix. Haha!


I worked on getting some tidying up done before houseguests arrived yesterday, and I was thankful that we had time to play some rounds before they arrived.


 

My college BFF Nikki, her sons, and another brother and sister she was babysitting came to visit us around lunch time. The kids have been so excited about their arrival for days now! They woke up very early in anticipation. And the minute-by-minute countdown ensued not long after that. I love their enthusiasm for hosting visitors!

It made me giggle how sort of nervous the girls were about hosting a new girlfriend in their house. M especially wondered if she would be able to show her a good time. They staked their claim on her early on, though...for days now, the girls had already decided that they'd play with her while the boys all played together with her brother. They were so excited about a new girlfriend to play with when they're used to all boys.

It was amazing but not surprising how they divided as soon as they arrived. The girls closed themselves in M's room and made jewelry while the boys were rowdy in Stu's room. It cracked Nikki up how not long afterward the boys were making a ruckus trying to "break down" the girls' door to get in. They all had play weapons and were trying to use Stu's punching bag as a sort of battering ram. Meanwhile the girls were quietly crafting on their floor minding their own business. Such a stark contrast! But I love seeing God's design for girls and boys naturally manifest.

It was interesting to me to watch Stu among a group of four boys. I almost think he might have taken the natural alpha male leadership role though the was the second to the youngest of them all. It could have been just the familiarity of being in his own home, I don't know. But it was interesting nonetheless. I'm grateful for their strong personalities!

After Nik had to leave, about an hour later we got a knock on our door and our former neighbor Mr. Stockton was there with Mrs. Compton. She was in town from south Texas, and she wanted him to bring her by to come visit while she was here. We were so glad to see her! She looked so good and healthy, too, which I was thrilled about. I miss those two so very much, but I was thankful that they came by. There's nothing better than a good old fashioned visit.

Our house felt so full of love yesterday after the blessing of so many friends coming through the door. God showed me that He will bless us with good friends in our life no matter where He moves us through J's job. He also reminded me of His gift of our long-time friends, too--old friends who stick by us and come out to be with us no matter how far we may be.

Friends and family are the best gifts ever!

 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

milkshake monday

I got up early Monday morning to put the egg casserole in the oven and get the airpot all filled with good coffee for J to take to his breakfast. I also cut up a big bowl of peaches for him to take, too. All that along with the cinnamon cake seemed like a decent little spread! I adore cooking for people. And it was so nice to be up early to get a jump on the day.


After dinner that night, J introduced the kids to his newest concoction, the orange creamsicle milk shake. He's made them a couple of times for just us after the kids have gone to bed, but last night it was their turn to be introduced to it.


They were so interested in the assembly process.



J has always been an out-of-this-world milkshake maker. His chocolate shake has always been my favorite. But I think he's topped himself with this one! We all love it. It was a wonderful treat to end a Monday. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

churching and cooking

Our sermon yesterday was a continuation of our study of Revelation and the corresponding prophecies in the book of Daniel. Our pastor spoke of how the prophetic knowledge we have from the Bible coupled with the grim world events should bring us to a place of humility and renewed longing for the Lord's return.


That was such a good message for me as I struggle to know what to do with all of the terrible things happening around us. For sure it's been a faith- and prayer life-strengthener, but it has also indeed made me long for His return all the more. And I think that's a good thing. I think life and the everyday details of what we have going on sometimes get in the way of the bigger picture of eternity, and we become complacent to God's point for it all. Everything points to Him.


"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming."
~Matthew 24:42


I too often forget that we are to wait, watch and prepare for His return like eager children who can't contain their excitement.


Rosie didn't want to go to Sunday School and J was teaching large group in Childrens' Ministry, so it was just she and I sitting together in worship service. She was my little wiggly, thumb-sucking snuggler. :)


After service we went to watch J teach his last segment, then it was off to the grocery store. Our trio really hates going to the store after church, but it's such a perfect time for us to go since we're rarely all together. We picked up a few essentials for the week and J needed some breakfast foods for a meeting Monday that I grabbed ingredients for.


We spent the afternoon cooking for J's breakfast the next day. M helped me make my Aunt Sandra's famous cinnamon breakfast cake. Rosie and Stu helped me put together a maple sausage and egg casserole to set up in the fridge overnight.


They love to shred cheese!



J played card games in the living room with whoever wasn't helping me at the time.


And then we cooked dinner. It was a busy day in my kitchen. My favorite kind of Sunday!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

baking and swimming

We had plans Saturday to go J's mom's to go swimming, so what did I do but start a couple of cooking projects at home when we were supposed to be getting ready to leave. Haha!


J was out for the morning and I anticipated he'd be gone longer than he actually was, so to my credit I thought I had the time to do all of it before we were to leave.


M came to me and asked if we could make cookies. How was I going to say no to that?


(Doesn't everything taste better when it's prepared while wearing an NRA t-shirt?!)



I only had the ingredients onhand to make oatmeal cookies, so that's what we did. I really need to make them more often. They are one of my favorites! 

Then I made a quiche to set up in the refrigerator for church on Sunday. I used a new recipe because, again, it utilized ingredients I happened to already have. I'm in one of those moods where I want to be creative and resourceful and use what's in our possession without going to the store for more. New school years tend to make me want new starts!

We brought the whole bowl of cookies with us on our trip to Mama's house. I think I ate about 1/2 dozen!
 

Then an afternoon of swimming! Our favorite!
 

Papa brought us pizza home for dinner, and it was so, so good after we'd been out swimming. Plus lots of different cookies for dessert.

We got home late even though we had an early morning the next day, but it was so worth it. We're going to soak up as much summer fun as we can. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Family Friday

Another low-key day at home yesterday. If I'm not careful, I may never leave! Haha!


The kids spent a good bit of the morning in their tent city again. I watched some of their favorite morning TV shows with them in my jammies with my coffee. We also played lots of rounds of Guess Who, Go Fish and Slapjack.


When we play games, they all fight to play a round individually with just me. It's annoying and charming all at the same time. I laughed thinking that having children sure makes up for not being one of the popular kids in school. Everyone wants me to sit next to them and be with me here in my house! Haha!


The best part of the day was seeing the girls help Stu with the games. I adore those moments when they come to each other's aide in genuine interest and love.


We made a trip up to our school to drop off some paperwork. The girls had a fight before we left about the location of a purse M wanted. I'm so tired of their struggle to find things in their ridiculously messy room that I scrapped my afternoon plans in favor of going home to clean their room. We have some company coming to see us next week anyway, so it was good to get a jump on the project. We cleaned almost the entire room. (The entire floor, at least.) I set a timer for 30 minutes, not expecting to finish, but we did get done with six minutes to spare. In the days to come, we'll work a bit on fine-tune cleaning, but we made great strides today in a short amount of time and I am happy that the girls were so proud of themselves.

M hugged me and told me she loves it when I help them. I told her that I'm happy to help when they're actually working. It really does amaze me how only a few minutes of tidying can make a huge difference in the way a room looks.

After we clean their room, it is very affirming to me at how happy the girls are and eager to actually spend time playing there in their very own space. I think they enjoy a clean room; they just need to learn how to maintain the clean. After we were done, we played baby dolls on the newly cleared floor.

I was thankful that I'd taken the time to get ready in the morning, because our landlord made a pop-in appearance to drop off smoke alarm batteries and AC filters. It was nice to visit with her. I was glad I looked semi-put together because our house certainly wasn't!  Haha!

J called us on the way home from work with good news. It was a total answer to prayer for him. I could tell he was in a good mood, and that put me in a better mood. My stomach has been in knots all day again thinking about our Iraqi brothers and sisters in Christ and the nightmare they're enduring. I'm still in hyper-processing mode, and I pray for them often. It's been hard to focus on mothering well with that undercurrent ever-present in my heart and mind. I want to bury my nose reading everything I can about what's going on. Hearing J's good stories from the day was like God reinforcing His sovereignty. "He's got the whole world in His hands". Wonderful theology from a children's church song. He's got Iraq in His hands, and He's got our little East Texas world in His hands. I will trust Him.

J suggested we eat out, and no way was I going to turn that down. We ended the day with a nice little dinner together. When we came home, I found M working with Stu on number flash cards. She told me how impressed she was with his number recognition. And my heart exploded because I love them so much but they fight the most and these sweet moments between them are so precious. :0)

I'm looking forward to family time this weekend with my people.
 

Friday, August 8, 2014

hermit tendencies and living room tent cities

I had good intentions of getting out of the house yesterday, but it just didn't happen. We had another lovely low-key day of playing and getting some chores done at home, and it was wonderful. I've developed a weird hermit tendency over the last few weeks. I think it's because we were out of town most every weekend from mid-June to mid-July, and I just got a bit tired of packing up and going. I'm really not motivated to go anywhere!


The kids made a very intricate fortress system in the living room throughout the day. Our living room is almost impossible to walk through now, there are tables made into tents scattered about! There's one long utility table, a shorter one, a play tent set up, and our coffee table is done up, too. They put blankets all over each one. J was impressed with their building skills. They played in them, built and tweaked their structures all day. It was awesome!


As is often the case, too much time spent together at home can cause some friction after awhile. By the afternoon, things were getting grouchy. :0) I left to go to Bible study after dinner, and as usual the kids didn't want me to go. That makes me sad, of course, but it's also a bit comforting that I'm loved and wanted though things aren't always sunshine and roses. J took them for a walk after our breakfast-for-dinner meal (Rosie made a large portion of it!), which they were so happy about.


I had another wonderful evening in the company of great believing women. It was life-affirming and encouraging, as usual. Our study is wrapping up quickly, but I'm excited for our new study to start up again in early September. I'm pumped that there isn't a huge gap in between sessions!


I came home to a cleaned-up kitchen thanks to my rock-star husband, and I was so grateful. Cleaned-off counters, dishwasher running, iron skillet from dinner cleaned and re-seasoned. Gosh, I love him so much.


These are sweet summer days. I am so thankful for the slow pace!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

out and about and lots of overthinking

We began Wednesday running a few errands. I had to stop by our pediatrician's office to pay a bill, and I turned around to see the kids clowning around acting like fish on the other side of the aquarium.




 

 

Then it was off to Dairy Queen to use the kids' free sundae coupons.  That ended up being our lunch! Stu and Rosie tried each other's selection. I laughed when I saw them trying to feed each other. Haha!
 

I almost never get myself a treat when I buy them one because I can almost always count on them to leave a lot behind. It was no different that day. I had probably a whole sundae out of their three leftovers. I didn't complain! They always get cold very quickly when we eat ice cream out, so they quit eating early on and are eager to leave.

I had ideas of other places I might want to stop, but the kids asked me yet again if we could go to the mall. They've been asking for weeks now and I've been putting them off, so today I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and take them.

I've been putting it off because I know that despite making it clear before we go that I won't be buying anything, they're going to ask for a million things and be pouty about it when I decline. I know that they're going to be impatient with one another while waiting for one of them to finish looking in a store. I know that I'm likely to hear how I'm the worst parent in the world because I won't buy them anything.

I knew I could count on all or any combination of these punishments that day as well, but I took them anyway.

And pretty much all of the above went down. We did find a few things on clearance at Build A Bear for one dollar, so I let them pick out one thing each for their bears. Rosie and Stu paid for about half of theirs with their money, and M paid for her item herself. She also made a mental list of things she wants to save up to buy that totaled about $90. I was fighting back tears the whole time walking around watching clueless spoiled American moms shell out big bucks for things like beds, armoires and sequined costumes to buy their kids' bears while 1500 Christians in Iraq are likely facing martyrdom at the same moment a world away. I don't know how we can be tuned in to world news and go back to our superficial American normal right afterward. My stomach hasn't un-knotted about this since I read the stories yesterday. I can't stop thinking about our brethren, and I'm not sure what to do with all those feelings.

One thing I love about my kids is that to them it's just as fun to play on the machines at the mall even when we don't put the $1 in to make them actually work. We're in good company, though...almost no parents pay that ridiculous dollar per ride.
 

Though a few minutes later I was declared The Least Fun Mom Ever because I wouldn't pay $7 for each of them to get to do the bungee trampoline thing for a whopping three minutes. It was a lesson in math for them. Twenty-one dollars for nine minutes of play? No way. I told them they could either save up for it or ask for it for Christmas or their birthdays.

One of my favorite moments of the day? I turned to see M buying both Stu and Rosie a gum ball with her very own money. It was totally unprompted; she wanted to do it. I was so proud.

Being at the mall with my kids is a great reminder of how I need to be praying that God would teach them contentment. I need to be praying that He'd equip me to teach them contentment. I've come a very long way in contentment myself, and there is so much beautiful freedom in it that I really yearn for them to know, too.

Being at the mall with them really made me sad that I won't have the opportunity to give my mother a big fat apology for being such a bratty toot when I was little. I owe her for all the grief I gave her. Big time. I was the queen of asking for stuff and throwing massive fits when I didn't get it. I honestly don't know how she put up with me, but I am so grateful that the Lord saw fit to change me. Am I still a brat sometimes? Yes. But I think I've come a long way.
 

The girls had their first experience with me at a girly accessory store! We had so much fun! It reminded me that we need to be going on more one on one dates with them. Watching them browse and seeing what they gravitate toward gives so much insight into them.

Rosie requested her picture.

 

No trip to the mall is complete without a stop to the mannequins at Old Navy. And of course, they all requested pictures.
 

 

Stu said this was his girlfriend.
 

Who knew that Sears sells church hats?! We had a ball trying a few on. I've never considered myself a hat girl; I've never thought I look good in them, but I think they are beautiful!
 

Back at home, I felt so depleted from our mall trip that pancakes were all I could muster for dinner. I made the batter, but the kids pretty much took over the cooking process. I stood at the doorway of the kitchen and watched them in action. It was a scene to behold. I stayed with them to supervise, of course, but my awesome little team did it mostly all on their own. I don't give them enough credit for what they're capable of. The kicker was how they worked with Stu and taught him a little bit step by step. Goodness, I love them.
 

Rosie, manning the official Buttering Station, asked me to take this picture. 
 

M even got creative with the batter pouring and made a heart shape. That she promptly offered to her daddy.
 

There's a lot of truth in that picture. Those babies have brought so much love and joy to us every day!