Friday, December 25, 2009

And Now He is Five.

My BABY. My FIRST baby is five.

Be still, my heart!

I cannot believe it. He is incredible. He is FIVE.

I was looking through old pictures the other day and crying just thinking about how much he's grown. It has happened too fast, and I know it will only continue to fly by. I thought I'd share a few of those pictures.

Sam was born December 25, 2004, at 12:01pm.

8lbs. 4oz., 22 inches long

(Photo courtesy of Candace Miller)

(Photo courtesy of Candace Miller)

Sam was always big for his age, and so predictable.

He still is. :)

(Photo courtesy of Candace Miller)

I was a much different mother with him than I have been with the girls. I do have my regrets. But I also know that I can make the most of NOW. And I do.

(Photo courtesy of Candace Miller)

I found out I was pregnant with Maryn a couple of months before this above picture was taken. He was 10 months in this one. I see a lot of Lucy in his face. But he was a lot chubbier.

Here he is at 2. I love this picture so much it makes my heart ache.

And at 3. His silliness was beginning to be the rule rather than the exception to it.

This was at 4. He really grew a lot emotionally this year. It was pretty noticeable. He also became a big brother again shortly before his 4th birthday. He took it all in stride and has proven himself to be a GREAT big brother. He knows how to take care of and boss his sisters around. :)

And, today, at 5.

Goofy still. Always, I hope.

Sam is so smart. He started reading just a week ago. I sat down with him and in 45 minutes, he was sounding out words and reading! I was astonished.

He loves to play fight--kung fu, light sabers, guns (wince), and swords. Most of this he does with Dave. No one gets hurt (most of the time).

Sam loves candy. He's already had a cavity. But he did great at the dentist!

Sam adds and subtracts in his head (though he doesn't realize what he's doing). Blows my mind.

Sam is incredibly thoughtful. He wants to make sure that people who get hurt are taken care of...he says he wants to be a doctor like Dad and take care of sick people.

We think he would make a better architect. The kid has some serious design skillz.

Samuel David, we love you. We are so proud of who you are and who you will be. We pray that your heart will continue to be softened towards Jesus.

Happy Birthday, Sam.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Advent of the Light

I read Luke 1 this morning, and I was so moved. Reading as Elizabeth prophesied, then Mary, then Zechariah--all of them focused on the coming of the ONE. Their world was dark, too. I'm sure it seemed so hopeless, living under Roman occupation with extreme poverty and little freedom. Not too much has changed. Of course, I sense that though the Church in America is wealthy and free materially, we are not so spiritually.

We are bankrupt of love. We look out for our own welfare not concerned for the welfare of others (I am NOT even talking about the government--I am talking about the CHURCH). We have forgotten HIM and what HE came to do and what he entrusted US to do. Instead, we heap yokes of burden on others--piles of rules and regulations that can't possibly be kept. We expect people to PROVE their devotion to God by how much they DO. We are slaves to a law that we've been freed from--and it is all of our own choosing.

We boycott bars, people, movies, corporations, and we fail to see that we are arrogant and full of our own glory. We esteem ourselves as "not having done this or that" and "avoiding the appearance of evil"--whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones. We have missed it. We are in darkness (of our own choosing).

Zechariah, John's father, prophesied this:
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us--to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to ENABLE US TO SERVE HIM WITHOUT FEAR in his holiness and righteousness before him all our days...because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to SHINE on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Luke 1: 68-75, 78-79)

This is our message--a message of hope to a people living in darkness. But how can we communicate it if we too are living in darkness? Step into the light, the freedom, and embrace the Rising Sun so that you may be able to embrace others with His light and life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life After Three and the Lies of Productivity

I was talking to some women last night at a Christmas party, and as we were discussing transitioning from one child to two and then two to three, I realized that my housekeeping skills haven't been the same since I went from two to three. Sure, they weren't great when I just had two, but they really went downhill at three!!!

This transition was probably one of the most difficult ones to make, but after a year of having three, I am getting the hang of going out with them, eating with them, and having fun with them. However, I still find the housework a challenge!

Like today, for instance.

I have been doing laundry and dishes. I also straightened my bedroom and fixed a wobbly drawer in the kids' dresser.

I remember with two I could have also cleaned out the fridge and done a thorough house blessing! Perhaps it is partly related to having a little one who is INTO EVERYTHING! When she is awake, I really have to keep my eyes on her.

Dave is awesome. He doesn't complain. Even when I ask him to complain, he can only muster, "I wish you would rinse off your dishes before you put them in the sink." Seriously? That's it? You aren't furious that your underwear are dirty and there are dishes piled in the sinks and all along the countertops? You aren't frustrated that there are goldfish all over the dining room floor and crumbs and marker streaks on the table? He really is a gem.

I know sometimes I am too hard on myself in the housekeeping department, but how did Dave's grandma do so much on a farm? How did she get up at 4am? How did she milk all the cows, take care of four kids (one set of twins) and bring water up from a well? And garden? And clean? And cook? HOW?????

I don't know. I think my life is pretty easy compared to hers, and I don't have to keep a farm running to survive, either. My life is so different. I'm thankful, but I do wish I had some of that motivation. But, at the same time, I do think "productivity" is a god in this culture. We measure worthiness and capability by how much one accomplishes in a day (or an hour).

When my head hits the pillow tonight, I want to think that I did exactly what I was supposed to do today. My list of accomplishments may be short, but I pray my children and husband felt loved by what small amount I was able to do.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Tis the Season to Be Making

Well, before you get your panties in a bunch and think for a second that I am a mom who does it all, let me first declare that my house is a disaster, I haven't fixed my hair in DAYS, and it's all I can do to feed my children. So, when you look at what I have accomplished, you won't feel like a slacker (as I often do when I assume that blogger moms have it ALL together)--because no one knows how to slack (especially when it comes to housework) quite like I do. For real, ask Dave.

During this time of year, it is hard for me to not make stuff. However, I realized that I prefer crocheting in the winter--not sewing. I think crochet is slow and relaxing and I can do it anywhere, whereas with sewing, I am stuck in front of my machine. Crochet is just more cozy. However, I have been sewing. I have had a few projects that were time-sensitive.

My dear friend, Vanessa, is leaving for Kenya the beginning of January. She, her husband, Kyle, and their three boys will be serving Jesus through medical mission work in a rural village. I wanted to give her something practical, so I told her I would make her some skirts to beef up her missionary wardrobe and to keep her cool. So, I have set out to finish them. I am halfway done--two down, two to go. I did not photograph them; I'd like them to be somewhat of a surprise. :)

My second sewing endeavor was to make a tree skirt. This year, we bought a live tree (something we've never done before). Our old tree skirt was WAY too small to fit around it, and it was pretty ugly. I searched high and low online for a free pattern, and I found this fabulous pattern on Citrus Holiday. I modified it some, but it is the same for the most part. I love it!!! I think mine reminds me a lot of Allsorts, Morgan Moore, and candy stores.

So, of course, we've also decorated for Christmas. It's pretty simple, and I think, very beautiful and colorful--just like our quirky family.

I've also been a bit culinary. Sam says I'm a good "maker" (his word for "cook", although sometimes he does call me a "cooker"). I've had fun making all kinds of treats over the past week. Yes, pictures will follow!

The first was peppermint syrup. I was browsing Craftzine, and I saw a link to this wonderful website (that I will be perusing for other ideas), Think Inside the Icebox. This syrup is great. I love Starbucks Peppermint Mochas. So, I thought I should make some syrup to have on hand. Of course, mine don't taste quite like Starbucks, but they sure are a nice substitute at home. The recipe for the syrup was simple, and I just picked up some chocolate syrup, half and half, and whipped cream to round out my dessert...errr...drink.

Last year, I made toffee, and the butter and sugar separated, leaving the chocolate with a fatty layer on top. It tasted fine, but it was not pleasant to look at. I thought I would do a little research to see where I went wrong, and I found another wonderful website, Cooking for Engineers. It was all explained with great directions and what to expect. My toffee turned out perfectly!!! It is SO good. You should definitely put this on your to-do list.

And, finally, I made the ever-popular party mix--Puppy Chow (the recipe I used called it "Muddy Buddies"). There are recipes for this all over. I used the one in my Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook. The kids helped shake the bags with the powdered sugar. It is delish.

I am sorry for the long time between posts. I have been a bit preoccupied, but thankfully, there are several things to show for it! Now, there are gifts that need wrapping, so I am off to attempt that!

Merry Making!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Thematic Anniversaries

Since Dave and I were married seven (and a half) years ago, we have always celebrated by following the traditional gifts for each year. It is good because it gives us a direction to go in, but there is still room for creativity and meaning.

Allow me to recap our gifts for the last seven anniversaries:

First: Paper

I got him a sketch pad with pencils and charcoal.
He got me an unabridged copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorite novels.

Second: Cotton

I got him a pack of three cotton undershirts and a CD (I had to sweeten the gift a little...).
He got me a printed t-shirt from one of our favorite websites.

Third: Leather

I got him a new Bible bound in genuine leather.
He got me a Fossil wallet that I LOVE and still use.

Fourth: Fruit and Flowers

I think I got him a bag of Starburst jellybeans and I think I might have done something else, but I don't recall (this anniversary was during the time when we had Maryn, ended up back in the hospital with her, he graduated from med school, and we moved to Tulsa all in a matter of two weeks. It was tough!).

He painted me a canvas (before we moved) and unveiled it when we got moved in. I think he also took me to Jamba Juice. :)

Fifth: Wood

I found a wood box at Hobby Lobby, painted it black, and then decoupaged a picture I took on the top that had some symbolism for our marriage. He keeps his change in it on the dresser.

He got me a new ceiling fan for the living room in Tulsa. Too bad it is there, and we are here. :(

Sixth: Candy and Iron

I'm pretty sure I bought him some candy, but I also got him a 25 lb. handheld weight. He really liked it!

He bought me a large skillet pan that looks like iron (though it isn't).

This brings us to our seventh anniversary, this past June 2nd. Boy, it was a tough one. It's times like these that make me super thankful for Etsy. We both ordered our gifts from Etsy, and we are so pleased with how they turned out. I don't have pictures I've taken, but here are the pictures that the artists took of their handiwork.

Seventh: Wool and Copper

I got him a black leather cuff with a copper plate. I had her engrave the word "Valor" on it. He really liked it. It's great for his rock-n-roll moods. I bought it from this shop on Etsy. This picture is hers as well.

And he ordered me these sweet mittens from a lady in Lithuania!!! The are wool mittens that are actually mimics of Bella's in "Twilight". How funny is that? I LOVE THEM. Here is her shop. This picture also belongs to her.

If you feel like you're stuck each year when trying to decide on the perfect gift for your spouse, I highly recommend following the traditional gifts list. One is available here, both the traditional and modern lists. The traditional gifts are less expensive early on (which is great because most of us were pretty poor when we started out!), but the modern is for more expensive gifts. We have loved this tradition.

I'm looking forward to our eighth--bronze/pottery!!!