Monday, February 19, 2018

to Silas on your twelfth birthday,

Sweet boy {okay, almost man},

You are such a joy in our lives and you have been since the very moment we met you.  I remember thinking that I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life.  You took my breath away.

And, you still do.  Mostly because you always have me laughing.  You have the greatest sense of humor.  Your use of sarcasm, your quick wit, and your intelligence make you quite the character to be around.  Many of my best conversations are with you and I am so happy to say that you are not only my son, but a great friend.  

I love our inside jokes, the fact that you can give me a look and I know exactly what you are thinking, and that your face lights up when you see me when I show up at school.  I love how you are growing and how you are wise beyond your years, but you are also still loving and not embarrassed to give me a hug.  I love when you announce to people, "That's my mom!" -- even though you are trying to embarrass me, I wear that as a badge of honor.  

You have a great heart.  I see it every day.  I see it when you play with your sister, when you help your brothers, when you run up to me and give me a hug and tell me you love me.  Though you are getting bigger by the second (literally) and will be taller than me soon, you will always be my baby.  The sweet boy that made me a momma.  I will always hear your toddler voice in my head and cherish the amazing times we have had together.  It's hard to even write this without my eyes filling with tears, because you are such a special young man.  I could fill the page and not say enough about you. I (we) are so very proud of the man you are becoming.

I pray for you, Silas.  I pray that you will seek after the Lord with all your heart.  I pray that you will believe and know that God has a huge purpose and plan for your life.  I pray that you choose to follow Him daily.  I have no doubts in my mind that you are destined for great things.  You are so perfectly Silas and it's an honor to be your mom.  I love you with all my heart.

I hope you have the happiest of birthdays. Twelve years seems like a blink.  But, the best blink ever.  I love you!

All my heart, 



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

tandem skydiving experience.

As my Eli would say, "yolo!"

{That's you only live once for anyone that struggles with acronyms}

Typically, if you are *literally* putting your own life in someone else's hands, you make that crazy decision, right?  Ha! Well, I had quite the surprise this past weekend.

Soooo, on Saturday, Dusty and I had planned to go hiking.  We dropped the kids off at his parents and off we went.  Supposedly, he had looked up this amazing hike by the beach {which happened to be about a forty five minute drive.}

Honestly, I am thinking - why are we driving forty five minutes to go on a hike???  Must be a great view.  But, I didn't say anything.  As we were driving, we got to talking about how we like to go on hikes and other adventurous things we have done.  Rappelling.  White water rafting.  Mountain climbing.  Spelunking.  Some pretty serious hikes.

Dusty asks, as we see some skydivers in the distance, "What about bungee jumping? Would you do that?"


"What about skydiving?"

"Probably not."

"Why not?"

"I don't know.  I have just never had the desire to do it.  Maybe if the opportunity came up I'd consider it."

Keep in mind, I am thinking nothing about this conversation.  We are going hiking. We were just chatting, or so I thought.

We pulled into a parking lot and Dusty handed me two pieces of paper that were folded in two.  I unfolded it and saw a photo of a skydiver, that said "GoJump Oceanside" with MY name on it.  Honestly, I don't know if I said anything.  My heart just started racing.  Like, beating out of my chest.  I bet my blood pressure sky rocketed too.  "Ummm, okay."  {breathe in, breathe out.  breathe in, breathe out."

"We have an appointment at 3:00."  

It was 2:45.  


You guys.  I had no time to mentally prepare for this.  This was insane.  I didn't know what to say or what to do.  But, little known fact {maybe} - I am super stubborn.  Don't tell me I can't do something, or won't do something... because I will prove you wrong.  I am pretty competitive with myself when it comes to things like this.  There was no way I wasn't going to do it.

Before I knew it, I had signed a waiver and was getting geared up.  Our tandem instructors called out our names and I was quickly overwhelmed.  When I am in situations like these, I tend to be super quiet. Dusty's instructor was totally out there - super eccentric, talking his head off, and just over the top.  I was watching all the instructors and thinking to do this, ya kinda have to have that kind of personality.  They all had GoPros strapped to them and were taking photos and video of the whole experience.  My instructor quickly read the situation and realized how nervous I was.  Thank goodness.  

Instead of being all crazy and energetic, he was super calming and reassuring.  I am oh so thankful for that.  I'm not sure I could've handled any other instructor I saw.

We boarded the small plane and were squished in there like sardines.  Once in the plane, the instructors finish tightening your harness and strapping you together.  The way up was so much longer than I thought.  The build up was intense.  I mean, I don't throw up... but I was queasy.  Everyone else seemed pretty enthusiastic and pumped and I'm all.... {breathe in, breathe out}. 

My instructor began preparing me for the jump. I was told to keep my hands around the straps and when we were ready to jump, to put my head back and kinda arch backwards. When he tapped my shoulder, I could let go and put my arms out {ya know, like on a roller coaster with your arms up!}.

"Can I just keep my hands here, or do I have to let go?"  I didn't know if I needed to to fall correctly? I had no idea what I was doing here.  "No... it's okay.  Do what makes you comfortable."  Let's just say my hands never came off the straps.  I was holding on for dear life.

We finally made it to 13,000 feet and the door opened.  There's a few people in front of me and before I can blink they are outta the plane.  Important to note... I am strapped to this guy and he starts moving forward, ready or not.  He mentioned when we got down on the ground that I was whimpering.  Ha!  I mean, I didn't realize it at the time, but I believe it.

I don't know what I expected here.  A countdown?  1... 2... 3... jump?  Did I think I was initiating the jumping?  I have no idea.  It is kinda a blur to me but all I remember is there was the door and suddenly we rolled outta the plane.  I was looking straight up at the sky {so we started out on our backs looking up} and... 

COLD air.  Fast.  SO FAST.  The wind was rushing in my ears, in my mouth.  It's hard to breathe.  I remember him saying scream if you can't breathe.  You have to breathe.  SILENCE.  I can't even scream.  My eyes are as big as saucers.  

I wouldn't say my life was flashing before my eyes.  I didn't feel like I was going to die.  It was just a feeling you cannot understand until you experience it.  Time slowed down.  It was fast, and yet it was slow.  He was trying to take pictures and I couldn't smile... or do anything.  I was silent and my eyes were HUGE.  At some point my instructor released the parachute.

Y'all, I literally laughed when we got back and watched the video.  The look on my face was the biggest sigh of relief you've ever seen.  The only time I've seen that face was watching the video of my epidural free, pitocin induced labors the second that baby came out.  Instant relief.  It was comical.

My instructor had walked over to hand me something and he kinda laughed watching it too.  It was then that he told me he pulled the parachute early because he was worried about me.  Yeah, I was the last one down!  Dusty made it down before me and he jumped after.  The part with the parachute {which I got to enjoy longer} was just beautiful.  I finally relaxed and was able to take in the view.  That was one thing my instructor told me on the plane, "Just try to relax and take it in.  Even if you are scared, it is a beautiful view."  Basically, you may never do this again.  Try to soak in the moment.

It was an experience of a lifetime.  Despite my reaction during the entire experience, I am oh so glad I did it.  

Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  Now that I know what to expect, I think I could do it much more enthusiastically.  And I might even crack a smile.  

So, if you ever have the experience to jump out of a plane... go for it!  You only live once.  

This is where we jumped.  Stunning. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

so. much. YES!

I read something today that so completely resonated with where I'm at.  You know those moments you are reading something, simultaneously thinking, "YES!", agreeing with every single word?  You are convinced you could have written it... or did write it?  Well, that was me today.  I couldn't have said it better myself, so here ya go....

"This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.  

I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your late 20's to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to  7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).

In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional. 

In this stage of life, you are dealing with teething. With ear infections. With stomach viruses. You are juggling nap schedules, and feeding schedules and soccer schedules. A million balls you are juggling, and you probably feel like you are dropping most of them.

In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth. Guilt.

In this stage of life, you are bombarded daily with a whole host of decisions. Some of them life-changing, some of them not. None of them with clear cut answers. Do I vaccinate my kids? Do I not? Do I send them to public school? Homeschool? Charter school? Do I continue to breastfeed? Do I blow the budget so that I can buy all organic? Do I force my child to apologize, even though the apology will be insincere? You don’t know the answers to ANYTHING, but you feel constant pressure to figure out EVERYTHING.

This stage of life is less and less about watching your friends get married and have babies, and more and more about standing by and witnessing your friends struggle in their marriage, and even get divorced. It’s a stage where you’ve got to put in the time and the effort and the work and the energy to make sure your OWN marriage stays healthy. And that’s good, but it’s hard, too.   At this point, you or someone you know has experienced infertility. Miscarriages. Loss of a child.

It’s a stage where you are buying houses, selling houses, remodeling houses, packing up houses. And then you do it all again a few years later.

It’s a stage where your hormones are all of of whack. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right? 

It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life? I LOOK like a mom now, don’t I? I totally do.

It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.

It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).

It’s hard.

So….what do you need to do to survive it all?

You need to ask for help.

You need to accept help when it’s given.

You need to not neglect your marriage. You need to put your kids down for bed early. Sit outside on the back porch with your husband, drink a glass of wine, and have a conversation.

You need girlfriends.

You need your mom.

You need older friends, who have been there and done that. Who can reassure you that you AREN’T screwing it all up as badly as you think you are.

You need to not feel bad about using your kids nap time every now and again to just do whatever the heck you want.

You need to lower your expectations….then probably lower them again.

You need to simplify.  Simplify every single part of your life, as much as it can be simplified.

You need to learn how to say “no”.

You need to practice contentment

You need to be ok leaving your kids overnight, and going away somewhere. Anywhere.

You need to do something you enjoy, every day, even if it’s for no more than 15 minutes.

You need to pray. Girl, you need to pray.

You need a coffee you love, a wine you love, and a bubble bath that you love.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to remember that…..

….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.

But, man it’s hard."

-author unknown

yes. Yes. YES!

I love this.  I don't even think I could add to it.  If you made it all the way through, bless you.  And, hug a mom today.  Seriously. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

looking forward in 2018.

Two thousand eighteen.  I could spend ten minutes going on about how I cannot believe yet another year has come and gone and how I often want time to stand still.  But, I shall spare you.  That's what the new year is all about, right?  Looking forward.  Embracing the now, this very moment.  And, there is so much to look forward to.

"For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:19. 

This was regarding Israel's deliverance, but also so much more.  This new thing - this beautiful and unheard of thing - was all part of God's plan of redemption for us all.  I love that despite what our current circumstances are that there is always hope.  In Romans, Paul refers to God as "the God of hope."  Hebrews says, "now faith is the assurance of things hoped for."  Hope is defined as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen."  Isn't hope a glorious thing?  Looking forward with expectation!

I do think looking backwards has value, in order that we may learn and grow from the past, our mistakes, and opportunities we've been given.  My word for 2017 was fearless, and boy did God ever work in my heart and challenge me in more ways that I ever could have anticipated.  The question I asked myself last year was, "What would it mean to surrender my fears to God and truly let Him carry them?  Carry me?"  I couldn't have gotten through last year without Him.  The word fearless, ironically, scared me from the beginning.  But God took all those fears and brought me to the place where I knew the only thing holding me was Him.

All that being said, I am hopeful for 2018 - for the beauty and grace to come.  In reflecting on and praying about the new year, God brought me the word, follow.  I had been praying for God to reveal a theme, if you will, for the upcoming year.  Laying in bed the other night, the word follow popped into my head and my mind began to ponder.  What could this mean?  Follow.  Okay... 
When I woke up the next morning I sleepily grabbed a devotional book {Jesus Calling} that I found in my closet the day before. Flipping through it inadvertently, it opened to a random page and this is what I read:

"You are on the right path.  Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.  I am leading you along the way I designed for you.  Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking.  But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone.  Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, any more than you can comprehend My dealings with others.  I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, and moment by moment.  As I said to My disciple Peter, so I repeat to you: Follow Me."

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  Psalm 119:105
Jesus replied, “...As for you, follow me.” John 21:22

Of course, right away, the words FOLLOW ME, lit up on the page like a fluorescent sign.  I love where it says listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.  Isn't that so true?  Don't our thoughts and doubts sometimes torture us?  Rather than walking in faith, it's so easy to get caught up in everything else.  Which path am I really on - HIS, or my own?  What voice am I listening to?  HIS, or my own?  It's so easy to doubt, to question, to not fully surrender.  I think we like feeling like we have some sort of control.  So my prayer for the year is to listen more to His voice and to learn follow.  I am excited to see what the year brings and where he takes not only me, but my family, as we continue to seek after and follow HIM. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

to Eva on your first birthday,

Sweet baby girl,

You are a dream.  When I became pregnant the fourth time around, we assumed we were going to have a fourth boy.  When I was told you were a girl, my heart leapt.  I believe I asked a hundred times, "Are you sure?  Are you really sure it's not a boy?"  I was over the moon, a little bit nervous, and had absolutely no idea what to expect.  I knew how to be a boy mom.  I mean, I kinda had it down at that point.  From the beginning I told your brothers, "It will probably be a boy."  They all desperately wanted a sister, so I didn't want them to be disappointed.  Once we finally believed you actually were a girl, we began preparing your room, picked out your name, and not so patiently waited.

I, of course, went crazy with all things pink.  Your closet was overflowing and you were destined to be the best dressed baby girl in all the land.  Let's not even start with how many bows I may or may not have bought.  It's okay... no one has to know.  But in all the preparation, what I could not have prepared myself for was you.  Your person.  I didn't know I needed you, but God did.  You filled a piece of my heart that I didn't know was missing.  Even now, I cannot quite articulate it... but, I just feel like I get you.  Like you're my little best friend.  

If there's one thing that's true, little girl - it's that you have us all wrapped around your tiny little fingers.  You bring so much joy to each of us and are the perfect completion to our family.  You have the sweetest little spirit about you.  You are often quiet and contemplative, yet also have your moments where you endlessly "talk", dance, and laugh at everything your brothers do.  You are the sweetest, easiest, calmest baby around.  Seriously.  A dream.  

You melted me the second I laid eyes on you - all five pounds of you.  I remember thinking you were so. very. tiny.  You just seemed so delicate.  I look at you now and cannot believe how quickly you've grown and how fast the year as gone.  It has been a blink.  And yet, I fall more and more in love with your personality by the moment.  You are coming into your own and learning new things each day.  Your gibber jabber is the cutest thing ever, you have a grin that lights up the room, and your laugh absolutely melts me.  My favorite thing is watching you and your brothers together.  

You love to eat.  I haven't given you a single thing yet that you haven't liked.  Well, except an antibiotic that made you gag, yet you still so sweetly choked down.  I'm convinced any other baby would've spit it out.  Your favorite time of the day is your bath and you often ask for it after dinner.  If I am in the shower, you try to climb on in, "bath? bath?".  You love crawling around and pulling up on anything and everything you can find.  I think you'll be an earlier walker than your brothers.  You say quite a few words, including: "mama, dada, bubba, papaw, mamaw, pappy, hi, hey, oh, uh oh, bath, bye bye, baby" and we are also convinced you have said "eva".  You are such a little snuggler and will often sit in my lap for hours.  You love to play, but always like to keep me in sight.  You adore playing with your big brothers and have such a sweet relationship with each one.  

You are such a gift, sweet Eva, and I am so thankful that God chose you to be our girl.  The past three hundred and sixty five days have been beyond my wildest dreams.  I love you more than I could ever say.  Your name means "life" and that is exactly what you have brought us - so much life, so much joy, so much love.  You are loved beyond measure.  I pray you will always know how much you are loved, not only by us, but by God.  I pray you come to know Him personally and intimately.  I am thankful for your sweet life and look forward to so many precious days to come.  I cannot wait to see all that God has in store for you.

All my heart, 


Saturday, December 2, 2017

it's the *most* wonderful time of the year...

The Christmas season is magical.  The soft glow of the Christmas tree makes your house feel ever so cozy. The lights and decor everywhere you go, the cheery music playing in all the stores, and the sweet anticipation from the kids (particularly the littles, who still have such a since of awe & wonder) ... just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  But the true magic of the season is the miracle of our Savior's birth.  When my heart truly focuses on that, it brings me to tears.  Every time.

Last year the entire holiday season felt like a blur.  To be honest, it was all I could do to even get through it.  I don't speak much about how my pregnancies have gone while in the midst of it, but they have all been pretty fearful.  The risk to the baby (from cholestasis) is stillbirth, so while I lived with that haunting thought, speaking of it aloud was more than I could really deal with.  That's why my pregnancies were all monitored so closely and why they were one giant countdown for me.  Not that it isn't for everyone, but the only thing my mind could focus on was getting that baby out.  Since her birthday was so close to Christmas (hence the nickname, Christmas Eva), Christmas felt even that much more special.  Being pregnant at this time of year, I really connected even more to the Christmas story, thinking of Mary carrying that sweet little babe.  I couldn't listen to a single song without the deluge of tears just a flowing.  The hope and anticipation was the only thing that got me through.  That, and the faith that God had her in His hands and she was going to be okay.  

I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that that was a year ago.  It has been a blink.  How are we back here again, full circle?  Every time someone mentions how big she is getting or that her birthday is coming up, my mommy heart wants to cry.  How is my tiny 5 pound baby now a year old?  If I am really honest, I gotta admit that I was inwardly dreading Christmas this year.  I didn't want to decorate and was hardly excited about it.  But now that I'm embracing it and just living in it, I am so joyful and thankful for this past year.  Sweet Eva has been the biggest gift to our family and we have cherished every second of it.  We fall more in love with her every day.  How could we not?  She is honestly the sweetest little thing I ever could have imagined.  She is so calm, and sweet, and happy.  Her birthday post will be coming up in the next few weeks and I'm beginning to think about making her one year video.  I know I will cry going through all of it.  But, the happiest, most grateful tears.

So all that to say, Christmas feels even more special to me this year.  I am embracing all of it and cannot wait to experience it with my sweet (and complete) family.  I'm gonna link some of my favorite Christmas songs below.  Grab a box of tissue, and enjoy!

the best new gift this year is right there under my tree! 
my four GIFTS
angel baby

Sunday, October 8, 2017

life update, part two.

300,000 views a day.

280 million views just last year.  

Hold that thought.

You guys, the average American spends 10 hours and 39 minutes a day on some form of media.  Smart phones.  Television.  Radio.  Gaming consoles.  We are consumed with so much content, do we even know what we care about anymore?  This is mind numbing to me.  And I am preaching to the choir, my friends.  

Please bear with me for just a moment.  Because Dusty and I just experienced four life changing days and trust me, I don't say that lightly.  If you've ever read a single post I've written or just skimmed through, this would be the one I would plead with you to read.  Anyone that knows my story knows that my heart was stirred at a very young age for missions.  For the Great Commission.  Before Jesus ascended into heaven, what were his final words?
"You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Obviously we cannot all go to the ends of the earth, right?  But you know those statistics above?  Those were regarding The Jesus Film.  Huh?  What?  Yes.  Dusty and I just recently heard about what The Jesus Film Project was doing.  That old film that I saw when I was a kid.... the one that was made in 1979?  Yes, that one.  You mean it still exists?  Yes.  You guys, I just sat for four days listening to story after story, testimony after testimony of how The Jesus film is changing lives all over the world.  And for the most part, no one I know has any comprehension of the HUGE impact it is having on people groups all. over. the. world.  OR, the challenge ahead.

Do you know how many languages exist in the world today?
Close to 7,000.

Do you know how many people are alive in the world today?
7 billion.

Of those 7 billion, 5 billion are unbelievers.

Of those 5 billion, 1 billion are unreached.  Of those 5 billion, 2 billion are illiterate.  Even if they had the Bible in their language, they wouldn't be able to read it.  They will only be reached by audio or visual means.  

The Jesus Film has been translated into 1,542 languages.  So. many. more. to. go.

Awareness, you guys.  If you heard the stories, saw the impact, or could go and see the transformational work of this film, I would challenge you to not be moved.  For your heart to not be stirred.  This film is taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.  

The Bible makes it clear when Jesus will come again.

"And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come."  Matthew 24:14

In Heaven, there will be people from all nations and tongues.

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands."  Revelation 7:9

So, where am I going with all this?  Well, we've got some exciting opportunities ahead.  The past four days we have met with the leadership of The Jesus Film Project in Lake Tahoe (which is a ministry of Campus Crusade, or Cru). They have decided to partner with us to create a short film that will launch March 25, 2018, on Palm Sunday.  The goal of this film is to tell the story to the American church of how God is moving right now around the world.  We are creating a campaign titled, ‘Show Jesus’ and are beginning to attach some Christian influencers to help share the film.  God is everywhere in our story and in many ways we feel like this is what we was created to do. This project is much bigger than us, but God has placed people in our lives who may be able to help.  We need your encouragement and your participation.  Please be thinking about how you may be led to help in the next couple of months.  But most of all, pray.  

To be continued.  More to come!

Our babes in Lake Tahoe.

Monday, October 2, 2017

life update...

Well, life's not slowing down - that's for sure.  Time is a funny, funny thing.  Last year at this time, the days felt more like years and I distinctly remember waking up some mornings in tears, convinced that my pregnancy would never be over. Fast forward a year, and it seems like the past nine months have literally been a blink.  {blink.}

We have been in full gear since school began.  I am convinced it takes a minimum of six weeks to adjust to getting over summer, beginning the year with a new teacher, establishing {all over again} the routine of coming home and completing homework, and just dealing with the exhaustion.  Poor kids.  It's brain overload.  For JJ, Kinder has been amazing, and yet he's been an emotional disaster the instant his foot steps out that classroom door.  Fourth grade is one of the toughest transitional years {so I'm told} and I one hundred percent agree.  I saw it with Silas last year, and now Eli.  Overall they are doing so well and loving their classes, but again, it takes some time to get into that groove.  

I went back to work in the office.  I worked from home with Eva & JJ for 8 months and now am working part-time back at the school.  Grammy picks the boys up in the morning and I head in with Eva around 10:30 a.m.  Eva has a sitter that watches her over in the preschool while I work until 3:00.  It's honestly the best of both worlds.  I have my mornings with her and am still able to be at the school with the boys.  I take a break halfway through the day to visit with her and feed her and she is loving Miss Lily.  They're quickly becoming bff's.  

Eli started flag football.  JJ is taking piano.  Silas is in a coding/robotics class once a week.  Eva is almost crawling and eating anything and everything we give her.  They are all growing like weeds.  Silas has grown an inch just since last month.  We were looking at the calendar this morning talking through the month of October and by the looks of it, it's going to be November basically tomorrow!  Ha!  So. much. going. on.

I'm hoping to get back to blogging.  I was thinking about it the other day and realizing {though life has been well documented through photos}, I have been MIA on the blog for quite some time other than big events & birthdays.  We have a lot more going on and some potentially exciting things ahead.  Stay tuned! ;)

JJ's first chapel!  The Kinders performed for both chapels :) 
little artist. 
Eli in 4th grade. 
Silas in 5th grade. 
Eva really enjoyed chapel too! 
Eli Jackson is number 28.  He picked that because it's his birthday! 
The Queen. 
prettiest girl in all the land. 
This was at her first big girl party.  My little princess. 
My heart beat.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

to JJ on your fifth birthday,

My sweet JJ, 

You are f-i-v-e!  Five.  I cannot wrap my head around it.  You have literally been counting down for 365 days.  Birthdays are everything to you... that, and Christmas.  Oh buddy, you have brought such a spunk and life to our family.  We would be so incomplete without you!  You are walking entertainment, always saying the cutest and most surprising things.  You have a vocabulary like no other and use words that even I don't use.  You also speak with a little accent that I'm not sure where you got.  You exude joy.  You're playful, energetic, and FUN.  You could stay awake probably 20 hours a day and be totally fine.  You're a night owl and the life of the party.  You're the pickiest eater known to man.  Your first love is chocolate milk and you pretty much survive off of light vanilla yoplait yogurt.  Don't even think of trying to hand you another flavor, or heaven forbid, the one with the red packaging {the full fat version}.  Your favorite color is blue.  You love "pizza and bread and sauce and 'root beard'" from Little Caesars.  In fact, that's what we are eating at your birthday party tomorrow, per your request.  You say you are taking a big risk and are going to stay home forever.  You might go to college in San Diego and when you grow up you want to be a pizza maker {I'm assuming at Little Caesars} but think it might be a little difficult.  

You have had a big year.  You became a big brother and are the best big brother ever.  You adore your Queen Eva and have surpassed any expectation I could have ever had.  You graduated preschool.  
You set some pretty big goals for yourself including: 

*Doing good choices for God
*being loving and kind
*loving mom and everybody in the world
*being fast
*loving camping and nature

You make our hearts so happy.  You are my little snuggle bug, my love bug, my biggest fan.  We are "best friends forever, no matter what, forever and always, not never."  You have been the best little sidekick a mom could ask for.  I am so proud of not only who you are, but who you're becoming.  You are growing into the sweetest little man and still trying to figure so many things out.  I pray big things for you, my JJ.  I pray you come to know and love God with all your heart.  I pray you use your zest for life and all that energy to serve Him.  You have a h-u-g-e heart and I love every single ounce of you.  And of course, every. single. freckle.  You absolutely melt me!  You make our world such a better place.  I love, love, love you!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

to Eli on your ninth birthday..

My sweet Eli Jackson,

I mean, I gotta start by saying how are you nine?  It wouldn't be fitting if I didn't, because we all know me and I'm that mom that cries every year because you guys just won't stop growing up.  But seriously, you are a gem.  Literally, one in a million bazillion.  You've been our little sunshine since day one.  On May 28, 2008 at 12:28 a.m. you entered our world and filled it with absolute joy.  I vaguely remember getting a glance at you before you were wheeled off to the NICU.  I had had a full day of labor and waited til the very last second to get an epidural.  It didn't kick in until after you were born, so I wasn't able to see you for about seven hours {until I could walk}{and then I had to wait for the shift change}.  You came out grunting.  I was told you hadn't stopped the whole time you'd been there.  I walked over, having no idea what you looked like and fell in love.  At 8 pounds, you were easily the biggest baby in there.  I put my hand on your back and suddenly, you were quiet.  You've always been a cuddle bug so thinking back to this, it doesn't really surprise me.  You just needed to feel loved.

And that, my sweet boy... you are.  You are so, so loved.  To know you is to know love.  I say it all the time about you, but you are so pure of heart.  You have a heart of gold.  You are quiet, you are introvert, you are diligent in all your tasks.  Anyone that gets to know you knows just how endearing you are.  We called you love bug from the beginning and that couldn't have been more fitting.

Your favorite subject is math and you're a whiz at it!  You are so very smart and ace every subject with flying colors.  Your all time favorite food is corn, you've wanted to be a ninja for as long as I can remember, and you are fascinated with China.  You love to read, of course play video games {because who doesn't in our family, except me}, and have a newfound interest in miniature golf.  You just finished third grade and I. just. can't. believe. it.

Eli, I pray that God will make you bold.  I pray that you will find confidence and strength in the amazing abilities God has given you.  You can do anything through Him, who gives you strength.  I pray that you will not walk, but soar.  There's no doubt in my mind that you are special and I absolutely cannot wait to see how God uses you.  I pray you know how much you are loved by us and by Him.  Always and forever, no matter what.  I love you my sweet sunshine.

Love, Mom

You can watch your birthday video, here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

on mother's day...

I always knew I wanted to be a mom.  Yet, I never knew the ways in which it would change me, grow me, stretch me, and challenge me on the daily.  I did not understand a love like this.

I didn't know it was possible to love something so deeply.  I didn't know it was possible for one person to worry so very much.  You dream every dream for them, you fight every imaginable fear, you want to protect them from any and all pain and yet somehow prepare them for this great adventure of life.  

First, you gotta grow them.  And that is a heck of a job in and of itself.  It's beautiful and miraculous. Then comes the indescribable moment you get to meet them.  To this day, four of my most vivid and cherished memories.  And so the stages begin - the fleeting, exhausting, yet oh so glorious newborn days to as far as I've gotten so far - the preteen stage.  It's all the best.  I really could not pick a favorite, because I love seeing each of my children learn and grow and see who they are becoming.

Some days are easy and fun.  Other days, I wonder if I'm screwing it all up.  Some are filled with ice cream and the beach, while others are filled with completing homework, running errands, or putting on a bandaid or two.  The saying "the days are long but the years are short" is probably the truest statement I've ever heard.  Sometimes it feels as though I can literally hear the clock ticking as the time is passing ever so quickly.  Which is all the more reason why I can appreciate the well meaning things people tell you when you're about to embark on parenthood - enjoy it.  A quote I am learning to love is, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  That could not be more true.  As much as I sometimes think back to past days, I know I wouldn't be sitting where I am today were it possible to hold onto time.  I would've missed so much and I know there's so much more to come.

So today, I am thankful for my eleven year journey as a mom and await the many years to come.  

To Silas - You're the smartest eleven year old I know.  I love your sense of humor, your wit, and even how you know so much more than me.  I love joking around with you and that you're my shot gun rider.  I love our jokes, how we can just lock eyes and get each other, and how you always give me a hug, a kiss, and say "I love you."  I love how protective you are of your brothers and sister.  I love your fascination with learning.  If you believe in yourself, you will be unstoppable.  My prayer for you is that you will see your God given talents (your mind) and use it for His glory.  I pray you will learn to be confident, yet humble and use that genius in you to change the world.

To Eli Jackson - You have the biggest heart in the world.  I love your innocence, your capacity to love, and how you just take your time (okay, maybe not when I'm trying to get out the door, but ya know.. the idea to just enjoy the world around you!)  You are often few with your words, but you are brilliant.  I completely get you, because you and I are so.very.much.alike.  My prayer for you is that you will use that giant heart of yours to serve God.  I pray that gentle, compassionate spirit of yours will learn to be bold and confident to share it with the world.

To JJ - Oh, my little buddy.  You are so full of life, and fun, and emotion.  You are walking entertainment.  I love how you use the biggest words, in the biggest sentences, and always in the right context.  I love that I always know what you're thinking (because you always let us know), and I adore your playful spirit.  I love that you exceptionally rose to the occasion of being a big brother and how you adore your queen Eva.  I love your joy - you are infectious.  My prayer for you is that you direct that zest for life and endless amounts of energy into serving God and others.  I pray you use those amazing people skills for the good.

To Eva - Baby girl.  I have the pleasure to get to know you more and more each day.  Your little personality is only beginning to shine.  You have an ear to ear grin that lights up the room and the cutest little voice ever.  My favorite thing is when you start to "talk" and tell all your sweet stories.  I love how you so often look up at me and we lock eyes and I can just dream of who you will be.  My prayer for you is that you will love God with all your heart.  I pray you will know that you are loved beyond measure and that we will help you see your God given gifts as you grow.  I cannot wait to explore life with you.