Til The Last Shot's Fired

A very dear friend and I have recently been talking about praying for peace in our homes.  As we've both endeavored to be more purposeful about those prayers we've been amazed at how the Lord has answered.

In honor of Veteran's Day, and in honor of my husband our family will also begin praying for peace in the world and for those who serve our country so faithfully.

I'm short on words as I ponder over this this morning, but I think this song, by Trace Adkins and the West Point Glee Club, captures my heart pretty well.  



There are many wonderful versions of this song, but in honor of the Marine Corps' 237th birthday yesterday I chose this one.  Happy birthday to all of the Marines out there.  Thank you for your sacrifice! 
(If you are reading this in a reader or email you will need to come over to the blog to see the video.)

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It Won't Be Like This For Long

I remember vividly the first time I held my little Bitsy in my arms.  Over the last several years we've had lots of firsts, and I generally try not to get to emotional over them, but today when she lost her first tooth and her daddy wasn't there to see it I have to admit I was a little emotional.  Let's call it pregnancy hormones. 

I'm not sure when or how it happened but my little girl, my baby, is growing up.  She was so excited she wanted to call all of her grandparents and she wanted me to take lots and lots of pictures! 

You can't stop time, but you can try to record it.  I want to remember that smiling face, holding her little tooth, telling grandma how she just tugged on it a little and it popped right out.  I want to remember this moment.

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Pink or Green...and Ponderings of the Heart

I have been woefully absent from my blog for over a month now.  A few of you have even been concerned enough to email and make sure the baby and I are okay, and I assure you we are.  (I even intend on finally sharing whether we're having a girl or a boy!) 

Unfortunately a week after my last post our family experienced the very sudden and heart-breaking loss of my step-dad.  We had been given a time frame by doctors, but our grandpa never did much like following orders, and I guess he and the Lord worked out their own time frame.  We are grateful he was spared a great deal of suffering, and grateful that we can be together again in the presence of our Lord.  We are happy for him, but we grieve for ourselves. 

In our time of shock and grief, the Lord blessed us yet again with the unexpected return home of our daddy for a few days.  Daddy was granted emergency leave and surprised his little ones by coming home for one very glorious week.  More healing of hearts occurred during that week than I can describe.

So that explains two weeks of my absence, and to explain the rest of my absence I share some of my heart.  As I spent that week with my husband and children knowing just how limited our time was, and pondering over the sudden loss of my step-dad, I wanted to savor every moment.  I didn't want to worry about whether the picture turned out just right for the blog, or see what other people were sharing, I wanted to be with my family.  I wanted to be in the moment.  I realized that I didn't want to look back and wish I had spent more time with my family and less time sharing with the rest of the world. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy blogging, but I enjoy my family more, and more than ever they need my time and attention.  My children are living through months without their father, my husband is living months without his family, soon we will blessed with a new little spirit in our home.  This is my priority.  This is my focus. 

So that is where I have been, and that is where I will be.  I'll still be dropping in here from time to time, but I don't think I'll be going back to blogging several times a week.  This is not the season in my life for it.  The Lord has touched my heart and helped me see that.  I am grateful that He has used the recent experiences in my life to show me where to focus.
 
Now in case you're wondering what all of this has to do with green balloons, and if you've been patient enough to read to this point I am happy to announce that we are being blessed with a new little boy!

When we first found out we were having a new little one Bitsy and Manly spent a good deal of time trying to decide on a name.  Manly suggested things like "Toot" and "Truck" if it was a boy, to which Bitsy adamantly expressed her displeasure, but when he offered up "Green" she was thrilled, and since he had had such success with a color for a boy, he enthusiastically recommended "Pink" for a girl for which he was again commended for his genius.

The little ones revealed to our friends and family that we were having a boy by releasing the balloons from a box where they had been hidden.  Bitsy and Manly were overjoyed when they opened the box and discovered they are having a brother.  Don't worry, his name isn't Green!  
 

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Muffin Tin Meal: Rainbows and Clouds

I was really inspired by Tamara's beautiful rainbow muffin tin, and decided that our weather study to go along with A Pair of Red Clogs would be a perfect time to have a little rainbow fun ourselves.

The little ones got to make their own yogurt parfaits with Greek yogurt clouds and a rainbow of raspberries, peaches, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, and red grapes.

It was a simple breakfast, but one we all enjoyed!


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It's A BOY!!

I'm so happy, no I think thrilled and over the moon might be better, to announce that my sweet sister in-law provided me with the most handsome little nephew yesterday!!! 

I got to hold him when he was less than two hours old, and it was such a precious moment after having to wait almost four months to hold my other little nephew last year.

Now in case you were excited thinking I was making an announcement about our own little bundle, you'll have to wait a few more weeks for us to reveal to the world whether a girl or boy is coming, but I promise, I will share.

Congratulations to my sweet sister and her wonderful husband.  You have blessed our family beyond words! 


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Girl's Night Out

This weekend my Bitsy and I had our first ever girl's night out, and had tons of fun that we wanted to share with you.  A few weeks ago I noticed she was in need of some one on one time with mommy, and after a few months of a sick mommy taking care of three little people she definitely deserved it. 

My in-laws were so sweet and offered to watch the other little ones and Bitsy and I went and checked in to one of my favorite hotels in downtown Salt Lake City.  From the moment she hit the revolving door my little angel was in ecstasy!

After we put our bags down in our room she was ready to go and explore!  Our first stop was an amazing toy store across the street where she stood for a long time watching the marble shoot just outside of the door.

Once we were inside she was all smiles at the wall of candy.  Her favorite part, besides the colors, was that when she stepped on the lights in front of it they would turn red and play music.  She got to pick out any two toys in the store to take home as gifts for Manly and Lettie, and was thrilled to find things for them.
After our little shopping trip we were both hungry, so we headed back to the hotel for an outdoor dinner, and some coloring for Bitsy.  She couldn't wait to finish eating so we could get to the pool.
After our swim and a bubble bath in the huge tub she put on a bathrobe and climbed into bed to eat her purple candy.  (I love that grin, she had it on her face the entire time!)  As much as she enjoyed her treat, she was very sweet and asked if she could save most of it to share with Manly and Lettie when we got home.
We ended our stay with a yummy breakfast from room service, and a few shivers.  (The AC worked REALLY well!)  
I am so glad I got to spend this time with my little angel!  It was a nice rest for both of us, and it gave me such a beautiful opportunity to see my little girl's heart...and her lovely smile!
When we got home Manly and Lettie were full of hugs for both of us, and little Manly wanted to hear all about our trip, because he's excited to take his turn in two weeks!


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Discovery In A Bottle

Shortly before our move I came across this great post at Pre-School Play on making Discovery Bottles, and I knew we had to make some for car trip entertainment.  While I wanted to make all of them I only managed to make a magnetic one with Manly when he woke up early one afternoon from naps.

When I saw the pipe cleaner I love it, but since I can't leave well enough alone we went through the house finding pipe cleaners, paper clips, and a few other metal objects to add in.  I also thought it would be fun to add in a few non-magnetic items so he could see the difference.  He had tons of fun dropping everything in!

And then for a good twenty minutes he had even more fun using our magnetic wand to pull as many things up the side of the bottle as possible. 
Normally I seal the lids on our exploration bottles so I don't have leaky messes, but I didn't on this bottle because I thought it would be fun to change out the items inside from time to time. 

Hours of fun from a plastic bottle and a magnetic wand!  


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What We Did This Summer

Since it's back to school time, and I haven't posted a single week in review all summer I thought a summer review might be in order.  

So here's how we spent our summer.  We watched a man fish on the pier near our house and inspected the fish he caught before we got there.
We played with dry ice that we arrive in some food Grandma sent us.  (Don't worry, they weren't allowed to touch it.)
We had some arts and crafts time.  This particular arts and crafts time was part of a Five In A Row week that I am hoping to post about soon.
 We participated in the library's summer reading program and got these, ummm, interesting hats.  :)
 We went on a field trip with friends!
Sometimes we just took a few minutes to sit and quietly reflect on things.
We made a discovery bottle...  Again, another post about that, soon I hope...
We made cute faces.  
We cooked together.  Bitsy and Manly LOVED making bread crumbs!
There was plenty of time outdoors in the pool and sprinklers.
And most importantly, we made each other laugh!
Despite sickness, moving, and family separation we had a pretty good summer.  It wasn't what I planned, but it was what our Heavenly Father had planned for us, and somehow His plans always seem better!


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Make Your Own Muffin Tin Dinner

It's been a while since we've had any muffin tin meals, but recently had a make your own dinner-muffin tin style.  I think we'll have to do it again sometime!

For starters we had rice, beans, and tortillas on the table, and then the little ones had a muffin tin full of things they could add to their burritos.  There was sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and limes.  I'm happy to say they tried some of everything on at least one burrito.
For dessert we had make your own ice cream sundaes, with coconut, chocolate sauce, bananas, chopped walnuts, strawberries, and raspberries, and of course ice cream, that's not pictured in my terribly lopsided picture.  :) 

The little ones loved having two muffin tins in one meal, and mommy loved how simple they were!

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Food Faces

Our family loves to eat, and my children especially get into their food!  Since I'm in a little end of summer rut I thought I would give us all a reason to grin for a minute, and share some of my favorite little people food faces from this summer.

We often call Manly "Noodle" and it's not without justification!  When I turned and saw him shoveling his noodles in like this I nearly choked I was laughing so hard.  He was so funny to watch, and in fact another customer stopped on her way out of the restaurant to tell me how much she had enjoyed watching him eat and how cute it was.
The only thing Lettie enjoys more than eating her ice cream is to show how proud she is of her ice cream face!
This one is one of my absolute favorites!  Bitsy just wants to serve herself and get down to the business of eating, and Manly's busy being a connoisseur carefully selecting the best of the options.  It is such a contrast to their normal responses to things.

I hope our food faces brought a smile to your face.  Happy end of summer!

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Momma's Sentimental Moment

Today my two oldest babies, Bitsy and Manly, took their first swimming lessons.  Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones but as I sat there watching them hold hands to get into the pool together I couldn't help but feel a little overwhelmed by that moment. 

I wanted to capture the moment and hold on to it forever, not just because it was so sweet and precious, but because as I watched them they taught me so much.  Holding hands together they taught me that as long as we're a family we can do anything together.   
They were so curious about everything their teacher had to say.  I want our family to be just as curious about what our Father in Heaven has to say.  Have I taught them to always seek His wisdom through scripture, prayer, and promptings of the Spirit?
Bitsy couldn't wait to do everything she was asked.  In fact she was so excited she started flailing her little legs around while she was floating.  Am I that excited to follow my Heavenly Father?  Do I jump at the change to serve Him and follow where He leads?
Manly wasn't feeling much like being brave and floating, but when I told him if he did I would take his picture so daddy could see it he jumped into his teacher's arms.  My little man would do anything for his daddy!  Will I do ANYTHING to make my Father in Heaven happy?  Do I trust those He has sent to teach me enough to do as they've asked, even if it seems scary?
Before class finished they were each asked to hold their teacher's hands and jump into the pool.  They were both so willing.  They've helped me recommit to being willing to jump in with both feet, trusting that my Heavenly Father will keep me safe.  The smiles on their faces as they came out of the pool were incredible, and our reward in Heaven will be even greater.  

I thought I was taking my children to swim lessons today, but really the lessons were for me.  I'm grateful my children were willing to teach me by their precious examples.

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Brown Paper Packages

Last Friday was a red letter day for our family, and I've been thinking about how to write about it ever since.  This morning when I read my friend Tamara's "My Other Half Moments" post I knew just how to do it.  For safety and security reasons I don't write much about my husband on my blog, but today I want to pay tribute to my my best friend.  He works so hard to provide for our family and to make us all happy, and last week he, well, I'll just tell you the story...   

My children were happily playing in their wading pool, and nothing I had done all day had gotten them out; until the mailman came.  When I casually went outside and told the little ones that we had gotten a package from daddy I was nearly run over as everyone tried to be the first to get inside!  (Since they were all wet I wouldn't let them inside, but I did bring the box onto the deck for them to get into, or should I say rip into?!)

The entire contents of the box was emptied in under thirty seconds, and within five minutes I was getting pleas from little ones to take their pictures to send to daddy.  I don't think they were happy at all about their gifts, do you?  :)  I love these precious smiles!
Bitsy received this BEAUTIFUL apron from Korea, and I kid you not has worn it every day but Sunday since.  When we were in Costco the other day the bagger asked why her apron was so colorful, and she looked at him and with a little disgust in her voice said, "Because my daddy sent it to me from Korea, and it's beautiful."  He didn't ask anymore questions.
Manly decided he didn't need to swim anymore, and that he should get ready for bed so he could wear his new silk jammies.  His favorite part about them?  "Daddy sent me jammies with gold dragons on them!!!  I have dragon jammies, mommy!"  I'm pretty sure they'll be able to stand up and walk on their own before he's going to let me wash them. 
Seriously Lettie's little smile cracks me up!  She sees the camera and she gets that silly grin.
And lest you think Lettie and I were left out, Lettie received that cute little pink silk change purse she has a death grip on, and I received a gorgeous purple bathrobe.  Lettie's been putting her treasures in the purse ever since, and when her hands are to full to carry it, she carries it between her teeth.  

When we start back into our normal school routine in a few weeks we'll be beginning by studying Asia, so daddy's gifts were not only beautiful but a great inspiration for our studies.  I am so grateful that even though he's so far away he still encourages us in our schooling!

Speaking of schooling, there was one final gift...  At the bottom of the box the little ones found a book and a DVD.  They were THRILLED to get a new book and immediately wanted me to read it to them.  I suggested that we watch the movie first, and they reluctantly agreed.  (They LOVE to read!)  
Pardon the diapers, it was laundry day and some things, like daddy videos, can't wait for a clean room!
They decided they had made the right choice when the movie came on and it was daddy reading them the book he had sent!  We were blessed to receive the book and video through the fabulous United Through Reading program.  This amazing program donates books and recording equipment to deployed service members so they can read books and send them home to their children, helping to keep families connected.  Bitsy and Manly love to curl up and have daddy read them a book, so we are all extremely grateful for United Through Reading for giving us the next best thing. 

I have been in a school and blogging slump for the last two months, but this package has gotten me motivated to get back on track.  I am so blessed to have a husband who works so hard to support me even when he is thousands of miles away, and who goes out of his way to make sure his children know he loves and supports them even if he can't be right here with them.  I wish I had the words to express how much I love, appreciate, and admire this man!  He truly is my other half.

We love you daddy, be safe, and hurry home!!!



P.S.  This is my second post this week on my poor neglected blog...  I think I'm finally feeling more positive and ready to start sharing again!  Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive while I've taken a little break.

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Finding My Joy

I'm thrilled to be pregnant, and I'm thrilled to be in Utah with family and to have so much help.  I'm even making new friends.  But I would be lying if I told you that the last several weeks haven't been hard, and last Saturday, well, last Saturday was the hardest.

Notice those two little letters under my name, the ones that say "ER"?  I spent the morning in the Emergency Room getting IV re-hydration, medication to temporarily stop my vomiting, and generally feeling sorry for myself.  By the time I got there I had been sick every 20 minutes for six hours.  I was discouraged and scared.  I prayed for relief.

After just a few hours the baby and I were fine and I was able to go home, but I still felt awful and spent several days not wanting to eat and asking "Why me?"  I asked not because this was an isolated incident, but because this is how I've spent nine months for the last three pregnancies.  I asked because I wanted my Heavenly Father to make things easier for me this time because I have three children and my husband's gone.  I asked because I want to understand His plan and find joy in it.
On Wednesday morning I found my joy.  For the first time I was able to hear my little baby's heartbeat.  I had an ultrasound four weeks earlier (pictured above) and I even had one in the ER, and each time I felt such relief and happiness.  But Wednesday morning when I heard that little heart beat 160 beats per minute I was overwhelmed with tears of joy, I was overwhelmed by my Heavenly Father's answer.  That little heart is one He is blessing my husband and I to train and lead back to Him.  That little heart is pure and coming to me directly from the Father of us all.

Why me?  Because our Father knows that the sorrow and affliction will help me to cherish that little heart for the rest of my life.  I've found joy in this moment, and now I can ask, "Why not me?"   


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