A Whole Hand

birthday boy 14Dear Happy Buddy,

Your birthday this year made me a bit of a basket case.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how quickly you grew up – how you are now this big, giant 5-year-old.

After Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes in the morning, I took you and your little brother to the free water play day at the place you have been taking swim lessons.

I sat in a chair and watched you happily race around the small water tables and sprinklers, while I also anxiously checked the clock on my phone every 30 seconds.

Finally, 10:10 arrived.

The time you were born.

I called you to me.

You were much more interested in pushing a plastic toy wheelbarrow that had your brother in it, but I managed to lure you over with a pretzel.

When you got close enough, I pulled you in, cupped your big boy face in my hands and whispered,

“You’re officially a whole hand.  I am so thankful God made you.  You are precious to me.  Happy Birthday.”

And then you ran off smiling, looking at the 5 fingers on your hand in wonder, and my eyes filled up with tears that I’m sure all the moms at free play water day thought were a bad reaction to the 900 gallons of chlorine in the room.

You truly are so special, Happy Buddy.

You are my firstborn.  You made me a mommy.

And while I have loved every year of getting to fulfill that role in your life and watch you grow, this year has been especially fun.

Like I love that you are obsessed with front-loading washing machines and pretend to do laundry where ever we go.

birthday boy 5I love that you are so creative when choosing your apparel for the day.

I love that it takes you 1400 hours to eat a baby carrot.

I love that you always want to match pajamas with your brother.

birthday boy 12I love that you make up songs while we’re driving.

I love that you like to pull a chair up to the kitchen counter to help me cook.

I love that you always remember to buy the grocery store checker their favorite candy.

birthday boy 7I love that you like wearing your swim goggles in the bath tub.

I love that you have 1,000 reasons why you can’t go to bed yet.

I love that you wake up at 5 am every day (I could do without this one, though, just in case you feel like learning how to sleep in).

birthday boy 11I love that you are always asking me to LOOK or WATCH THIS at all the things you make or create or are doing.

I love that you think putting the water bill in the special mailbox at City Hall is a highlight in your day.

I love that you are an amazing listener.

I love that you are getting better about brushing your teeth.

birthday boy 4I love that you imitate whatever is going on around you – if Daddy is grilling, you pretend to grill.  If our kitchen has mold in it, you pretend your kitchen has mold in it.  If you’re watching the World Cup, you turn our living room into a soccer field.  You have an incredible imagination.

I love that you never forget to do Jesus Kisses every night before bed.

birthday boy 2I love that you have such a sweet tooth.

I love that you named my car Frank.

I love that you will play your drum set like a wild man – completely naked except for a super hero cape.

birthday boy 1I love that you enjoy learning new things – like how to use the leaf blower with Pop-Pop or how to bowl with Mommy.

I love that you leave your tinkle in the potty every morning because you are afraid the flushing sound will wake Mommy and Daddy up.

I love that when someone says or does something kind for you you tell them that “it opened your heart.”

I love that you think about God and ask me questions about Him.

birthday boy 6I love that you like to take out every toy you own and set them up all over every square inch of our house.

I love that you are completely captivated by clocks and timers.

I love that the other day I took your hand in mine and said, “When you are a teenager will you still let me hold your hand?” and you responded, “YES!” and then thought about it for a second and said slyly, “Well… maybe.”

I love that every morning the bathroom looks like you had a wrestling match with your toothpaste and the toothpaste won.

birthday boy 8I love that you occasionally steal my phone and record ridiculous, epically long videos of yourself making goofy faces, running around, and acting like you belong in a loony bin.

I love that when I pray over you at night I sense that one day you will be a great leader.

I love it when you smile at me.

I love it that you enjoy watching Tinker Bell movies.

I love that you applaud my attempts to sing “Let It Go” in the kitchen while trying to convince you and your brother that vegetables are delicious.

birthday boy 17I love that you tried to climb up the entertainment center the other day and almost broke your leg.

I love that you could care less about Disney parks but could spend hours riding the Monorail.

I love that you don’t cry anymore when I have to clip your fingernails or pour water over your head in the bath.

I love that when you have to go to the bathroom you force your brother to go as well.

birthday boy 10I love that you tell your speech therapist that she smells nice and that you compliment ladies if their toes are painted.

I love that you liked it when I wore that silly magnetic nose ring I bought at a souvenir shop on the beach.

I love that when I ask you for forgiveness you respond immediately with, “Always, Mommy.”

I love that you recently discovered the box I keep of all your old artwork and went around the house hanging up each piece on any available surface.

I love that you cannot leave the house without 15 things in tow.

I love that I caught you with your arms raised in worship while we were driving to church last week.

birthday boy 3Happy Buddy, I love that you are YOU.

This list is just a tiny version of a much longer one that is in my heart – a list that I ponder over and over throughout the days as I watch your hand fill up with years.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you as He adds more hands to your life.

And oh, how I pray that you will continue to use those hands to serve God and bless others every single day along the way.

I am so proud to be your mama.

Happy Birthday. :-)

Love,

Mommy

“So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in your name.” Psalm 63:4

Baking With Grandmommy

baking with grandmommy 1.jpgbaking with grandmommy1.jpgbaking with grandmommy 6.jpgbaking with grandmommy.jpgbaking with grandmommy 3.jpgbaking with grandmommy 5.jpgbaking with grandmommy 4.jpgbaking with grandmommy 7.jpgbaking with grandmommy 8.jpgWe spent a morning with Grandmommy (the hubby’s grandma) last week.

She didn’t freak out when the Happy Buddy flung sugar across the counter and all over the floor.

She didn’t mind that the snickerdoodles were shaped like baby carrots instead of melon balls.

She knew the importance for a little helper to push buttons like set the timer and turn off the oven.

She stayed patient even when it took about 5 minutes (and a few distracted trips to play with Legos) to fill up the measuring cups with Crisco or flour.

She let him have the first bite (and several dozen more).

She sent us home with 2 giant bags of goodies.  And a couple of pizzas.

She praised and encouraged and inspired my budding little chef.

She gave us memories to treasure forever.

She was a reminder to me that her and Grandaddy’s faith was what God used to inspire my father-in-law’s faith which was what helped inspire my husband’s faith which inspires my own and my boys’ faith every day.

I hope that one day I will get to bake with my sons’ children’s children (phew).

I won’t be as lovely or spirited as Grandmommy when I’m 86.

I will probably be bald, in a wheelchair, have no teeth, and look like a human raisin -

But we will make some pretty scrumptious snickerdoodles and we will talk about how great our God is.

:-)

Thank you, sweet Grandmommy, for your precious faithfulness.

This family knows Jesus because of it.

- Julie

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 (ESV)

We Get Another Year

we get another yearEarlier in the year the Happy Buddy’s teacher came to us and expressed some concern about our son’s fine motor and speech skills.

He was having trouble holding a pencil, writing, sitting in a position that didn’t look like a contortionist, and pronouncing 98% of the letters in the alphabet.

She recommended therapy.

I guess I sort of went into denial about that statement because it felt like all my therapy eggs were in the Happy Baby’s basket – if that makes any sense whatsoever.

So I brushed it off and sort of just thought it would get better with time.

Then May came and his teacher asked to meet with us again to discuss the Happy Buddy’s progress.

And I knew what was coming.

I knew we were going to be encouraged to keep our boy in preschool one more year.

At first we were a little bummed because I knew how excited the Happy Buddy was about going to kindergarten across the street at the ‘big kid school’.

But then the more we thought about it, the more we realized how great it was going to be to not have all that big kid school pressure (I hear there’s homework over there.  And spelling tests.  And toilets that were designed for actual people instead of elves.  And possibly no more Show-and-Tell.).

He’d get another year to play in pretend kitchens and sand tables.

He’d get another year to mature socially (which is a nicer way of saying that he needs to learn to keep his hands to himself and stop throwing mulch at the girls on the playground).

He’d get the chance to be the oldest in the class instead of the youngest.

He’s get another year of pasting and cutting and working with pencils.

He’d get another year to just have fun and be a little kid.

We parents are always in such a hurry to get our kid to the next milestone.

And it seems that the Lord is constantly teaching me to stop obsessing over the milestones and embrace my children for who He created them to be.

And they were definitely created to be on something a little different than all those national averages.

WHICH IS PERFECTLY OK.

Besides, it’s one more year where my little boy gets to live under my roof where we do glow stick baths and family dance parties and Crash Piles and Jesus Kisses and brownie baking and GRACE and forgiveness and kindness and love before he graduates high school and ventures off into the world.

And to this mama, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

- Julie :-)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Great Paci Surrender

the great paci surrender10When I was pregnant with the Happy Buddy I SWORE up and down and left and right that my kid would NEVER take a pacifier.

I mean, hello?!  I read all the baby books and I knew all about nipple confusion.

I planned on nursing this baby until he was at least 10 and nothing was going to get in the way of that.

Not to mention I didn’t want my precious child getting messed up teeth and have to spend thousands of dollars on dental work.

And besides, my baby wasn’t going to need a paci anyway because he was not going to fuss or cry like those other babies.

<<<<<<Insert lots of loud laughing here.>>>>>>

the great paci surrender6The Happy Buddy was not even alive a few hours before the Happy Hubby was marching himself down to the nurse’s station to fetch us a pacifier.

As soon as that funny little thing was popped into our baby’s mouth, there was no turning back.

Our boy love love looooooooved his pacis.

He needed at least 4 pacis in his bed at all times (apparently each pacifier brought a little something different to the table).

He loved sucking them and chewing them and throwing them out of his crib as a form of entertainment.

the great paci surrender8He needed them to calm down.

He needed them to sleep.

He needed them when he was bored.

He needed them to poop.

He needed them all. the. time.

Well, we eventually got him to a place where he was only allowed to have his paci during nap time or while sleeping at night.

When that happened, suddenly the Happy Buddy wanted to take a lot of ‘rests’ throughout the day. ;-)

As year 2 of his life drew to an end, the Happy Hubby and I decided that on his 3rd birthday, we’d ditch the pacifiers for good.

the great paci surrender9But then… the Happy Baby was born.

And the drama that ensued in our Happy Home after his birth put pacifier retirement at the bottom of our list of things to do.  The Happy Baby ended up having his feeding tube surgery on the same day as the Happy Buddy’s 3rd birthday, so we just couldn’t justify ripping away his one physical comfort during such a painful and trying time.

All of a sudden another year went by and the Happy Hubby and I are looking at each other wondering if our kid is going to college with a MAM.

So over the last few months we have started to drop subtle hints that the Happy Buddy was a big boy and big boys did not need pacis.

We even mentioned a few times that his 4th birthday would be the perfect opportunity for him to put those little suckers to rest.

We even made the call that if his pacis fell behind his bed or got dropped on a dirty floor or in the toilet (yes, that happened), I would not replace or clean them.  So once he was down to his last paci, that was it!

As his 4th birthday approached and we were down to that last paci, I started to get cold feet.  I didn’t want to be remembered as the big ogre mommy who took away his precious paci.  Couldn’t it be more organic?  More natural?  Couldn’t a bird just swoop down and pluck it out of his mouth and fly away with it to some far off country?

The birthday came and went and I did not take away the pacifier.

A few days later, however, the Happy Buddy came to us and announced (completely on his own volition) that next Saturday (not this Saturday, the next one) he wanted to take his final pacifier to the hospital where ‘we got the Happy Baby’ and give it away to one of the newborns.

The Happy Hubby and I nodded our heads and approved of this, but we did not think for one second that our addicted son would actually stick with his plan.

He surprised us again by saying one week later, “Saturday is when I am giving up my paci.”

We encouraged him but still did not think that he was going to follow through.

Well that Saturday arrived and, to be honest, I didn’t even remember the significance of the day, but the Happy Buddy got out of bed and reported to us first thing, “After my nap we are going to the hospital.”

The Happy Hubby pulled me aside later when we were making plans for the day, “We aren’t really going to do that, are we?”

And I was like, “You bet we are!  I think we better jump out this open window before it closes forever!”

After the nap we put the paci in a small Ziploc bag (as I am sure that last pacifier was the host of 8.2 million different kinds of diseases and every letter of the alphabet Hepatitis) and drove to the hospital.the great paci surrender

the great paci surrender2 He took a few final sucks in the lobby.

the great paci surrender3Then we rode the elevator up to the postpartum wing.

the great paci surrender4We met the head nurse and he handed his last paci into her outstretched hand.

I made a big show of his courage and bravery and determination.

And the Happy Hubby had a Frosty from Wendy’s waiting for him in the car when we returned.

It all seemed too… easy.

The first night without the paci went surprisingly well.  He woke up at 5:30 in the morning and simply couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was okay with this, figuring it was a one time deal.

24 hours later and I am mass texting everyone in my address book for prayer because I am seriously wondering if I need to put the Happy Buddy in rehab.

It was an ugly couple of days.

For some reason the Happy Buddy turned to chewing on clean pairs of underwear as a sort of substitute for the loss of all that oral stimulation.

You’d think a rabid dog had gotten to his Thomas the Train big boys pants if you saw what he did to them!

At one point I even recited Psalm 23 over him focusing on “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” part and then changing the words to, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of no paci, I will fear no evil.  For you are with me…” :-)

But today is the 4th day post-paci and we’re seeing a bit of shining light.

the great paci surrender5We’re going to make it.

Now why am I sharing all this with you?

Well, I faced a good bit of anxiety about the fact that my child was 4 and still using a paci.  I also got some disapproving comments from other mommies who thought he was way too old to still be using one – which just piled on guilt.

In hindsight, though, I realize that it simply wasn’t as big of a deal as I (or others) made it out to be.

He eventually gave it up.

His teeth are fine (the fact that I constantly forget to brush them is more the issue at this point). :-)

He definitely did not have nipple confusion (I nursed him for 2 years!).

And he (and I, for that matter) learned a whole lot of great spiritual truths from the final paci surrender.

So, dear Mom who has a child with a addiction Lovey obsession – don’t worry.  I promise he won’t be climbing into bed with his new bride on their honeymoon and saying, “Hang on, babe.  I need my paci.”

I promise she won’t be sitting in the middle of an important meeting at the Fortune 500 company where she works with her thumb in her mouth.

I promise he won’t be telling his friends in the middle of the football game that he needs to go grab his blankie from the car.

Try not to fret about it.

Just do what you can to help your child see the bigger picture – that God is really all they need.

Happy Buddy, I just want you to know that I am so proud of you!

The choice you made to give up something that was so important to you… oh, how instructive that is to the body of Christ!

What beautiful sacrifice in doing the right thing – even when it cost you something.  That sounds like Jesus to me.

God helped you through the darkest hours, and you came out better and more seasoned (albeit with a few less pairs of undies) in the knowledge that you truly can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.  

But most of all you learned that He is enough.

Mommy loves you so much!

“But my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

:-)

Happy Birthday, Happy Buddy

IMG_1589

Dear Happy Buddy,

Last night we snuggled in bed and I told you the story of your birth… How Mommy and Daddy were sooo excited to meet you.  How when you came out of my tummy you cried and it was the best sound I had ever heard.  How they wrapped you up like a giant 9 lb 15 oz little burrito and handed you to me and how suddenly my life really began.

You loved hearing this story and started to ask for more stories.  You wanted to know about when you were 2 and I found myself making that ‘blink-blink-I’ve-got-nothin’ face.  Why I can remember every single outfit I wore to important life events but yet cannot recall a single memory from your 2-year-old life is beyond me.

So I was incredibly grateful when I found THIS POST all bursting with funny things from your 2nd year of life and I vowed I would do it again and again on your birthday so that I never, ever forget all that God has done in your precious, awesome heart.

IMG_2121I love that you have one volume and that is full blast.

I love that you will do absolutely anything if ice cream, M&M’s, or Mom-Mom is involved.

I love that you suddenly stopped needing a Pull-Up at night this last week and I officially only have to buy diapers for 1 person in this house {fist bumps, anyone?!?}.

I love that you pretend to do ‘laundry’ by pulling out all the clean, perfectly folded clothes from your drawers and stuffing them into the refrigerator in your play kitchen.

I love that you can down a plate of chicken patties in 4 seconds but it takes 8 million years to finish one baby carrot.

IMG_2347I love that every morning you need breakfast served within the first 2 minutes of your eyes being open or Fruits of the Spirit start flying out the window.

I love that you freeeeeeeeeeeeeak out if I forget to put socks on you at night.

I love that the other day I found you in the living room, pants-less, dancing, and having the time of your life.

I love that you have to high-five everyone at least 7 times, or until the smack is satisfying enough.

I love that when we were at the park recently and a woman jogged by you said, “You go, girl!”

I love that your favorite thing about our trips to Costco is the cold room.

IMG_2612I love that the first thing you do when I pick you up from school is try to get your little brother to smile.

I love that you will remind me to, “Trust in the Lord” if I show signs of stress or anxiety.

I love that on our walk the other day you wanted to wear a bucket as a helmet while riding your scooter.

I love that I spend 95% of my day making sure that your little brother stays alive.

I love that you pull your little kid’s Ikea chair up to the kitchen counter and want to help me make things like brownies or meatloaf.

I love that you get really excited when we actually eat a meal at the dining room table.

IMG_3568I love that you like to follow me into the bathroom and sit on the floor while I repeatedly ask you to leave.

I love that you didn’t say anything negative about the haircut I tried to give you this year.

I love that you like to take the garbage men bottled water when they make their rounds.

I love that you have a crush on the girl next door and have been known to be a bit of a Peeping Tom.

I love that you love Clean Sheets Day.

IMG_3113I love that all you ever want to do – all day long – is play your drums.

I love that you race up to the employees at Chick-Fil-A and tell them excitedly, “Chicken, fries, ketchup and chocolate milk!!!”

I love that most of the food you eat is beige.

I love that you learned how to write your name this year.

I love that your favorite Bible story right now is the one where Gideon and his army blow trumpets and smash jars because it has to do with being loud.

IMG_5242I love that there are train tracks on our floor at all times.

I love that we went to Disney and spent all kinds of money getting us into the park and then the only thing you wanted to do was ride the free monorail.

I love that you say the same things to me every. single. night: “Can I pray and sing songs?  Are there angels?  I love you.  I love the Happy Baby and Daddy too.  Sweet dreams!”

I love that you always ask to read the book Love You Forever because you know it makes me get all weepy.

I love that being in a bounce house for a few hours is about the only thing that will inspire a nap from you these days.

I love that getting you to go #2 is practically a second job for me.  I will get you back one day for all the hours we have spent in the potty by sharing some super embarrassing stories about this very topic with your future wife.

IMG_5450I love that you are passionate about worship music and are always bopping around our house wearing Daddy’s slippers and my jewelry singing something you learned at church.

I love that really all you need is an elevator and some Goldfish to be happy for hours.

I love that you are nervous about swimming and you lose your cool when a balloon pops.

I love that I have taught you to either start playing with my hair or tickling my back if you ever want to stall your bedtime.

I love that you have the power to make your little brother laugh like nobody else.

summersational2013-003I love that you celebrate your imaginary friend, Geoffrey’s, birthday every day.  I think he is like 697 years old by now.

I love that your heart is moved at the sight of a homeless friend and you ask me if we can pray for them.

I love the giant red streaks of marker you drew on our carpet a few months ago.

I love the way you want me to reach back and hold your hand when we are at red traffic lights.

I love watching you sleep when I sneak in your room at night to pray over you.

I love that you give me big, fat kisses on the lips.

I love that your heart is moving more and more toward Jesus every day.

noahHappy Buddy, I could go on forever!

God has given you so much love and wonderment for everything around you – you remind me every day that the joy of heaven is even more than the joys here on earth.

So on this 3rd of July I want you to know that I am proud to be your mommy.

I believe that you have what it takes to be a great man and that God is going to use you in mighty ways for His glory and good purposes.

I can’t wait to see all that He has for you in this next year of your life.

Now, my precious 4 year old, in the spirit of what we tell you every night before bed…

Mommy loves you.

Daddy loves you.

And Jesus loves you more.

IMG_5889Happy Birthday, Happy Buddy. :-)

Love,

Mommy

“I see God working in your life.”

picnicSomewhere along the way of my growing up, I got it in my head that I had to be perfect in order to make people (and God) happy.

And I got pretty darn good at pretending!

I kept my room tidy, got straight A’s at school, combed my hair every day, acted respectfully toward adults…

Hearing, “You’re such a good girl,” was one of my greatest delights as a child.  I mean, who doesn’t love a nice pat on the back??

The problem was when “You’re such a good girl,” planted seeds of pride and self-reliance in my heart.

I started to think that I was a good girl.

Which led me to believe that I didn’t really need a Savior.

picnic1Fortunately, over the years (and especially after becoming a mommy, amen?!), my eyes have been opened to my short-comings and weaknesses and the Gospel has taken on a whole new meaning in my heart.

I literally cannot make it through a day without depending on His strength, grace, wisdom, power to survive!  Seriously the other day the Happy Buddy had left a yogurt cup on the table in the living room and the whole couch got a paint job courtesy of the Happy Baby.  On top of that, the two brothers were fussing at each other about every 8 seconds.  I was walking around our house shouting, “Lord, give me patience!” to try to keep from  losing one of the few marbles I have left.

picnic2Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!  That saved a wretch like me!

These are the words I long to hear spill out of my Happy Buddies’ mouths as they grow and learn about Jesus.

I long to see my boys clinging to God and living in His presence every minute of every day.

I don’t want them to think that their good choices or obedience come from their own strength.

We are sinners in need of a Savior.

I want them to know that God helps them grow.  God causes them to choose rightly.

So I recently decided to rephrase some of my words when I see one of my boys obeying.

Instead of saying, “You’re such a good boy!”

I try to say, “I see God working in your life.”

Because any fruit, any goodness reflected in our actions, is a result of Jesus’ work on our behalf.

I want to point my babies to Jesus so that they will come to depend on Him for everything.

picnic3Last week we attended a little last day of school sprinkler party at a friend’s house.

The kids were all playing with these fun squirt gun things.

One of the boys playfully aimed his at the Happy Buddy’s face and blasted him with water.

Ohhhh boy.  I didn’t realize that my boy was part Hulk!  He squinted up his eyes, glared so hard I thought his head might pop, and shouted at the boy, “STOP THAT, YOU MEANIE!”

I took the Happy Buddy aside and we spoke briefly about his reaction.  He’d been learning about 1 Corinthians 13 at school, so a “Love is kind” reminder seemed appropriate. :-)  He apologized to the boy.

A few minutes later everyone was running around having fun, but he got some water in the face again, and this time, I watched him closely to see how he would respond.

I saw the torment on his face – the struggle to keep his mouth from spurting angry words.

And I saw him choose to stay silent.

Later when we were in the house alone, drying off, I rested my hands on my boy’s shoulders and spoke to him.

“Precious boy, I want you to know how proud I am of you.”

He kind of looked at me in surprise.

“When the water was shot in your face a second time, I saw how you chose not to get angry.  I know that must have been a hard choice because your flesh wanted to yell and scream.  But I saw how God gave you the strength to do the right thing. I want you to know that I see God working in your life, my darling.  I am so excited to watch you grow in His ways!”

Well, you should have seen the look on the Happy Buddy’s face after that speech!

picnic4Oh I wish I did this more!

I feel like I spend more time fussing at him for obedience, but my goal is to be more intentional to look for the ways God is working on the Happy Buddy.

I pray that he will come to know the love of Christ that way.

That His love is less about rule following and tidy rooms and good grades and more about His amazing grace.

:-)

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

Chocolate Ice Cream and the Big Poop

Someone went poopy in the potty today for the first. time. ever!!

So we celebrated accordingly.

Do you think the Happy Buddy will be mad at me forever when he is old enough to realize that I posted about his poop on the internet for all the world to see?

I’m just a proud mama, is all.

Nothin’ wrong with that, right?

I’ll try to show a bit more discretion in his teen years.

:-)