Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BENNETTISM

As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to go help Michael dye his hair gray (long story).

Bennett went with him to buy the box of color from the store. When he got back, he came up to me and said, "Mom, I want you to help dye daddy's hair now. Not like dying on the cross, like Jesus, but like changing colors. Are you ready?"

I sure am glad he cleared that up. I positively love getting a glimpse into the inner workings of the mind of my four-year-old.

And now I'm off to make my 29 year old husband look like an old man. If you're reeeally lucky, I'll post a picture of him at the end of this post when we're done.

*Creep-tastic*
(now I'm off to re-spray some of the parts that I missed the first time, at The Bearded Man's request)

Friday, March 25, 2011

THE WAITING GAME

Sometimes life is easy, you get into a groove, you're content and happy to be where you're at, but other times...other times things are just hard, and you're uncertain of where you belong, where you're headed, where you want to be...things feel awkward and off balance and you can't quite find your niche, your place. Anybody ever felt this before?


I hadn't for a long time. Our little family coasted along for quite a while (years, actually), content with where we were at, checking off goals we'd met here and there, having babies, growing our family, tweaking our home, etc. etc.

We've been playing house for almost eight years now and God has blessed us richly in more ways than I can keep track of. But it has to be said that life runs in cycles and seasons, and right now, I'm in a winter of sorts. As an individual, as a wife, as a mommy. There are a lot of things personally that have built up and have to be dealt with. There are forks and bends in the road where Michael and I have decisions to make that effect where we will be and what we'll be doing for years in the future.

There are questions I'm asking over and over again, every day, that just don't have answers yet. For anyone who knows me well, you know that patience is not my forte, and that waiting is difficult for me. I become anxious, I doubt, I chew my fingernails, I get snappy and short with people (namely my husband, poor guy). I'm not a good waiter. I just want answers, and I want them now. It sounds ugly and selfish, but it's the honest truth.

We've been at this stage, in this winter season of waiting, for months and months now (since last summer, really), and it's wearing on me - spiritually, emotionally, physically. Waiting is just hard. But I also feel like (and hope!) I'm turning a corner in this waiting game, able to see some of the good things God is doing for us while we wait. There is a side of the Lord I am getting a taste of that I've never experienced before. I'm receiving measures of His patience that I've never really known before, and His grace and sweetness. While I wait, God fills me up with good things I'd never anticipated or planned on, and that's a wonderful thing to experience, full of things I wouldn't have wanted to miss. I talk with Him far more often, and far more urgently now than I have in a while. As I wait, I have time to get things done that have sat on a to-do list somewhere for weeks or even months. I am learning a lot about myself; waiting for something seems to serve as a mirror of sorts where a person really has to look hard at their reflection, uncovering what makes them tick, what motivates them, what they get up in the morning for.

The long and short of it is, waiting is hard, it's not fun, and it can be a somewhat miserable, wintry existence, but it teaches a person so much and stretches us like nothing else can. So even though I can't say I'm enjoying the wait, I can't really begrudge it, either. All I can really do is what I've been trying to do for months, and that's just to sit quietly before the Lord, and wait.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SPRING BREAK PROJECTS

Dude.

Last week was our Spring Break (including Michael's, hallelujah!), and we got BUSY here around the house. Turns out I worked myself a little too hard, because I've been flat on my rear end for going on four days now, sick. I wore myself out, working straight through the boys' naps each day and at night after they went to bed (until Friday, when I was down for the count). Despite the sickness and inhalation of Robitussin CF and Sudafed around the clock, we were crazy-productive and I'm THRILLED by how much we got done. I'm posting some pictures and commentary on the myriad projects we tackled.

1) My dad and Michael tiled our laundry room floor (WaHOOOOO!! This has been a long time coming!). There was old, peeling linoleum there before. Take a look at those gorgeous before and afters! Brings a tear to my eye. :)

2) I picked up some tall, scary brass candlesticks from Goodwill a couple of weeks ago, paying $5 all together for them. I wish I had remembered to take a before picture, but just imagine, tacky, gaudy gold. I spray painted them white and hot-glued jute around the base of each one. I'm digging it, especially since I already had the paint and jute string on had, so my out of pocket was only the $5.

3) I finally, finally, FINALLY finished putting new contact paper in our kitchen cabinets. The old stuff was those white geese from the 80s or 90s. Rough. I love opening my cabinets and seeing the new, clean, shiny contact paper, and I love even more that I can FINALLY check this project off my to-do list!

4) Michael and Bennett planted a mini-garden out back with strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and something else I can't remember off the top of my head.

5) Michael and Bennett also power washed the driveway, walkway, and back porch (thanks, boys!).

6) Jasper mowed the grass - hee :)

7) We trimmed our GIGANTIC crape myrtles, and our big live oak, back at the end of February, and even though that doesn't count as a Spring Break project, it was a beast and I had to post some pictures to go with the work - we worked our fannies off to get it done and LOVE the end result (which I don't have pictures of, but you get the idea).

8) Another thing I did that I don't have a picture of is our master bathroom. We textured it (with our friends, the Becks) over a year ago, and I painted the walls, and then my dad and Michael tiled it, but there were touch-ups with the paint and re-installed baseboards that DESPERATELY needed to be taken care of, and I did that last week too, along with touching up the baseboards and door frames in our bedroom, the living room, entryway, and laundry room, and also the back door. Holy Moly, I'm a hoss.

9) I took an old Christmas decor tin can and mod-podged over it with scrapbook paper to use as a dryer sheet holder in our laundry room. I mod-podged ribbon trim at the top and bottom as well. It fits the cabinet space a lot better than the cardboard box the sheets come in, and it looks cuter, too! The project cost me nothing out of pocket since I already had everything on hand, and took about ten minutes to complete.

10) Last thing: I painted our computer desk white, and I LOOOOOVE it!! I really don't like oak wood, which is unfortunate since pretty much every built-in and cabinet and door in our house is that color, but I knew I could fairly quickly and easily do something about our computer desk. What I love most about the way this project turned out is that it really adds a boost to my attempt to lighten the color schemes in our house a bit, AND, it's a cheap little desk that we only paid $100 for several years ago, but I think painting it white makes it look a lot nicer. And all the painting I did this weekend came from using paint we already had on hand, so it only cost about $10 out of pocket for a couple of rollers and a paint brush.

I intended on sewing Easter ties (SOOO excited about this!!) last week for the boys to wear on Easter Sunday, but like I said, my body had other ideas, and I crashed and burned instead. There's one other sewing project that I'll tackle along with the neck ties, and I'll put up the links for the "how-to's" for both of those when I actually do them. And one other project I'll hit in a couple of weeks is a SUPER CUTE box made out of paint stirring sticks! It's ADORABLE, and when I finish it, I'll post the tutorial from the original blog I got the idea from, and a picture of the finished product.

And if you were wondering, because of my eye-twitch reaction to my last BFHP (Big Fat Hairy Project), yes indeedy, my eye sure did start twitching in the midst of all this craziness last week. I think it started twitching in earnest on Thursday, the day before I was pretty much bed-ridden, which should have been my first clue that I needed to take it down a notch. Ah, well, live and learn (and give a nice, fat shout-out to my man, who did half of the projects listed, sans eye-twitch, and then helped take care of me and the boys on his last few days off when I got sick - as I've said before, he's awesome).

In case you can't tell, I'm totally procrastinating on "The Waiting Game" post. Don't really want to write it. Don't really like talking about waiting in general. I'll get there eventually.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

MY COOKIE MONSTER

My Jasper John is two years old, and I'm fresh out of babies now *sigh.* It still amazes me how much he has blossomed and grown since his eye surgery last September. The strides he has made make me feel so proud of him - he's worked so hard to get where he is. Before posting pictures of the birthday and the birthday party (a small family party this year), here's a milestone/personality list for my little one:

1) This kid has a sweet tooth a mile long. Sugary cereal, ice cream, bubble gum (yes, we give him gum when brother gets it, wag your finger at me if you must - he chews it and never swallows it!), candy, COOKIES...it's the straight and narrow way to his heart. Want to bond with the little guy or pull him away from Mama? Just offer him a cookie, and he's your instant BFF. I used to encourage eating all the sugar, months ago when he wasn't gaining weight and sugary stuff was all he would eat. But now we're trying (TRYING) to scale back.

2) He's still a Mama's boy (and a Mimi's boy), hands down. I'm the one he comes looking for in the morning when he wakes up, when he's sleepy, when he's hungry, when he needs some loving, etc etc. Jasper is my little cuddle bug and I'm eating it up while I still can. He just likes being where I'm at, which is a high form of flattery if you ask me. It gets slightly irritating when I'm in the kitchen trying to cook dinner, or trying to clean, but I've found that I can give him a task or tool like the one I'm using, and he's good to go :)

3) Jasper loves his big brother Bennett to pieces. He copies a lot of what Bennett says and does, which makes for interesting interactions between the two of them at times (Like when they're hollering in each other's faces. Joy.). If Bennett is working on numbers and counting, Jasper wants to "count" too. If Bennett is painting or doing puzzles, so is Jasper. If Bennett growls and crosses his arms in a pouty way, so does Jasper (Lovely.). If Bennett is finished with breakfast, so is Jasper. Right now Bennett still doesn't know what to do with his little brother because he's not quite ready to play the games Bennett is most interested in, but I see marvelous, beautiful things in store when they can play together more and more. I love it that they have each other.

4) Educational stuff: he knows almost all of his letter sounds and will say them when you either say a letter name or point to a letter, but he won't say the name of the letter itself yet. When he wants to, he also has a pretty good vocabulary, but a lot of his words are still partially said (like leaving off the ending sound). We had him evaluated for speech (and everything else!) when we started therapy, and they said he's a few months ahead of the game, which is nice. He knows the color purple and the color blue, and sometimes the color yellow and green. He can do simple chunky puzzles and he LOVES reading books - he would be happy as a clam to read books all day long.

5) His little personality is so sweet and loving, and he has a very sensitive heart. If he gets a spanking, big fat crocodile tears roll down his cheeks and he cries and cries. It just breaks his heart (and his Mama's, although I have to pretend otherwise). Same thing if he gets a stern "talking-to." If someone else in the room is upset or crying (like Bennett, or another kid in his class at church), Jasper's little lip starts trembling and he'll join them if he doesn't get a little comfort and reassurance that it's okay.

6) Jasper loves to figure out how things work. Me and my mom think he has the mind of an engineer, like my Grandpa. He takes things apart and puts them back together, he sits and studies things, you can see him plan things out in his head. He wants to know how pieces work together, and he loves to build. It is fascinating to watch because he and his brother (who moves a mile a minute and would have a hard time sitting still if you paid him to) are SO different.

7) Both of my boys are excellent sleepers, but Jasper takes the cake. He actually tells me when he's ready to go night-night a lot of times, and when I put him down both day and night, he lays down and goes to sleep immediately without a peep. His afternoon nap is two hours long, and he sleeps twelve hours at night. Beautiful.

8) Favorite foods (besides sweets): chicken nuggets, pizza, corn, broccoli, rice, beans, raisins, applesauce, yogurt, eggs. Foods he will NOT eat: PBJ sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, sliced cheese, lunch meat.

9) Favorite things: cars, wheels, pushing strollers/pulling wagons, playing outside, going for walks, reading books, singing "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy" and "Roll the Gospel" (these are his absolute FAVORITE songs and he requests both of them multiple times a day), good music, The Wiggles, Elmo!! (whom he sleeps with at night now), helping Mommy (LOVES to help), building with blocks, trains, his Mimi.

10) He reminds me so much of my brother, which is such a sweet thing. My brother has special needs, for those of you who didn't know, and although Jasper does not, he takes after Joe in a lot of his sweet, innocent traits. It's really special seeing some of the similarities and feeling kind of like I'm loving on Joe at the same time I'm loving on my child. My parents really seem to take joy out of this as well - I think it's healing in the way it brings things around full circle, if that makes any sense. It's a beautiful thing God did in giving them a lot of the same personality traits, and likes and dislikes. Very sweet.

And now for the pictures. I'll post a couple from his actual birthday, which was on the 14th, and then a bunch more from his Cookie Monster party :)

The Birthday

The Party
My stars, I love this boy. Happy Birthday, sweet Jasper John!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

JASPER'S LETTERS

Jasper learned most of his letter sounds a couple of months ago and I had to post a video of him and his Mimi reading one of his favorite books together.

Until I had Jasper, I thought Bennett was a natural book lover, but I know now that a lot of his love for books comes from my constant reading with him when he was little bitty, and our scheduled time at night. Jasper is an authentic book lover, regardless of environment or upbringing. It's worked out so wonderfully to have Jasper second, because he naturally gravitates to books, bringing them to me to read all day long. I'm so thankful for this since I really didn't invest the time with him like I did with Bennett. Part of this is because I was working so hard with Bennett on other things (like behavior :) ), and part of it is because there were so many other more pressing things to work with Jasper on, like physical therapy every day, patching his eye, trying to get him to eat to keep him gaining weight, etc. etc.

I digress. So here's the video of our sweet fella. (We're kind of crazy about him around here :) ).

video

P.S. This little guy will be TWO years old on Monday!! I can hardly believe it! We're having a little family party for him next weekend with a Cookie Monster theme - he doesn't mess around when it comes to sweets and he really digs Sesame Street, so I thought it an appropriate choice :).

Monday, March 7, 2011

DETOUR

Another little detour:

Michael and I were blessed to go out to a 900 acre ranch one of the elders of our church and his wife own and run, out in Baird, TX. We went with two other couples, and all of us are being mentored by this elder and his wife, a ministry our church began at the beginning of this year. Such a wonderful idea! We spent the weekend talking a LOT, getting to know each other and talking about what God has done and is doing in our lives, we went four-wheeling for hours on Saturday (our first time - we were feeling like cool dudes by the end of the day), the guys went fishing and shooting, and also tried their hands at tagging and branding calfs (or is it calves??). We climbed rocks, deer blinds, and rickety ladders (one of which was perched in the middle of what they call "Snake Canyon," where a den of rattle snakes live - they were hiding out at the time). I could feel my brain synapses exploding and tingling with glee at all the new experiences. :) Pictures to follow.

Yes. Yes, that is my husband sitting on a pole in the middle of nowhere, and yes, he sure did climb up there all by himself.


Our group, getting ready to go have an adventure! (a cold, windy adventure :) )


The guys, ear tagging the calves.


Branding a calf.


Dude. My man is looking FI-IINE in this pitcha.


What? You want a caption? How about "Ridiculous"


Sweet Suzy and Morton, our mentors.


Our group: Willie, Stephanie, Craig, Carrie, Me, Michael


Up on the rocks.

On top of "Snake Canyon," a big, fat snake den - no lie.

Thanks so much to this wonderful couple for inviting us out for the weekend, and thanks to my mom and dad for watching the boys all weekend while we were gone!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

UPDATE ON THE MAMA

The video I took of Jasper isn't computer-ready yet, so until that happens, I'll keep going down the rest of my list of blog posts. Today is the update on yours truly.


**As I mentioned in my last post, it's been a rough ride for the past couple of months. About six months ago, I wrote a post about overcoming the sin of gluttony and overeating, and how this has always been a struggle for me, but that I'd found freedom. Well, guess where Satan hit me hardest? Yep. With food. Even as I write this, I cringe inside because I just don't like admitting such weakness, and over something that seems so silly. But everyone has their downfalls, their struggles, and this has been mine. I'm going back through the same course again, and God is opening my eyes to new things about His grace and mercy, and His quiet peace, that I've never understood so clearly. I am thankful for this. I also know that I'm traveling a long, hard road, and I am thankful to have God at my side, flexing His muscle and doing the grunt work that I'm not strong enough for. That's update number one.

**Number two is book stuff. Nothing has happened with the first book I wrote, although I've been sitting on a couple more proposals to a couple more agents that have yet to be sent, and I'm also considering sending my work straight to publishers, but I haven't decided yet, and I'm not in any hurry. I'm actually working on two others right now (for pure enjoyment/hobby). One of them is a sequel of sorts to the first book I wrote, and the other is a completely random YA novel that I started a couple of weeks ago in a burst of inspiration and plot/character ideas. The sequel is about 60 pages in length right now, and the YA project is about 30 pages so far. I go back and forth working on the two, depending on my mood. It's fun to think about my kids reading these books when they're older, that I've written while they're babies.

**I am trying to gear myself up for more projects around our house, like hand towel ties to be sewn on that keep towels from slipping off your oven or refrigerator handle, painting our computer desk, touching up our baseboards and crown moulding with white paint, and the horrifying, hair-raising prospect of painting our kitchen cabinets (EEK!). I've recently tackled the finishing of Jasper's first year scrapbook (FINALLY!) and am organizing ALL of our pictures into their proper albums, and creating new albums where appropriate. This includes photos of our honeymoon cruise, our trips to Prague, China, New York, and Washington D.C., pictures from college, and pictures of the boys over the past year. LOTS of work ahead on this, but I've gotten a lot done already. Michael and I also tackled trimming (hacking is more like it) back the huge live oak in our front yard, and a pair of gigantic crape myrtles. It was so shaggy and bad, we had to rent a chainsaw to get the job done. It took me hours of pruning a little here a little there, and then both of us working all weekend to finish up, but there's so much satisfaction in feeling like your yard is actually landscaped, instead of a party-site for whatever vermin feel like roosting in your wildly growing greenery :).

**I'm in a place in life where I'm also trimming and pruning back things in my life that are unnecessary or cause unwanted clutter/complications, and the more I cut away, the better I feel. Simplifying one's life is a beautiful thing.

**It has struck me lately that I am one blessed woman when it comes to my friends. I have so many wonderful people who love me and my family more than I could ever hope to deserve, and all I can say is how grateful I am, and how needed these precious, beautiful people are in my life. A friend and I were talking over coffee the other night about how funny it is that you can have different friends who serve totally different purposes in your life, and they are all needed and desired, and wonderful to have. That's the way I feel. God has orchestrated each of these friendships, and I hold them all close to my heart. Friendship is one of God's coolest inventions :)

**I am so thankful to be able to breathe again (both literally and figuratively). The boys and I have been sick for over a week (Michael avoided it and remained healthy as a horse, as always), and it's so nice to be out from under spiritual attack for now, and to be physically back to my old self again.

**Jasper John turns two on the 14th, and I just can't believe it. I still talk to him like he's a baby - something I've really got to stop doing - and I know that's still my mindset. I know I feel even more that way because of all his health issues and hard work to get to where he is today. This has been a year of tough milestones. Four and two are just so different from having a toddler and a baby. I'll write an update post just on him when the time gets closer. For now I'm just biting my nails nervously, in disbelief that he's been a part of our family for two whole years. How blessed we are.

**I am researching what to do with Bennett for school. He will be in pre-K next year, so there's no real urgency, but I'm a planner, and I like to have my ducks in a row. We're considering homeschooling...(Michael is a huge fan)...never thought I'd say that, but there you have it. If you've even remotely considered it yourself, I highly recommend a book I'm reading right now called The Well Trained Mind. A friend of mine who homeschools her kiddos loaned it to me, and I'm so glad she did. It has really opened my eyes to the goals we have for our family, and the feelings I have about it all. More on this when I know more about which way I'm leaning and what road we are actually going to start down.

And there's a full, well-rounded update on the mama for you.