Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Memorial Stones in Words

Grateful for Grace hosts a Memorial Stone in Words carnival on the 30th of each month. From her blog: "In history, the Israelites often were told to make memorial stone pillars. These were piles of rock that were to remind the people (and tell others) that God had done something big in their lives. God knew (and still does) that people benefit from visuals. These memorial stones gave the people a chance to tell the story again, either to those who were there and need to be reminded, or to those who were not and needed to know what happened. It also was an opportunity to be refreshed in their faith."

When my husband and I got married, I was going to finish my college degree, go to grad school, and then my husband would go to school. We weren't planning on having children. We said maybe in 10 years. I don't honestly think we would have made that decision if God hadn't intervened.

I graduated from college and was accepted into a physical therapy school. I was very excited to have a wonderful career as a physical therapist and make something of myself. Three months into the two year program, I discovered that I was pregnant. We were very poor, living on student loans and my husband's low paying job. We didn't know what we would do. I was very scared about having a baby, and being pregnant while going to school in the medical field is a very bad idea. You study all kinds of abnormal development and all the things that can go wrong. I was convinced that our baby would have all kinds of problems. I tried very hard not to bond with the baby to protect myself if something went wrong.

Well, our first born, Han, was born and was perfectly normal. And I feel deeply in love with him. When I first held him, every ounce of ambition fled my body. I was totally unprepared for the emotions that I felt, and all I wanted to do was stay home and be his mommy. However, I had to finish school and I had to get a job in order to pay off the loans for school for a degree that I no longer wanted.

So hubby stayed home with the baby and I went back to school when he was 12 days old. I was exhausted and cried every day because I did not want to leave him and miss out on his life. I graduated when he was a year old and went to work. The day after his second birthday, we had our second boy, Obi. I got six weeks of maternity leave and then, heartbroken, I went back to work.

My hubby was going to school part time to get a degree so that he could eventually get a job and I could possibly stay home. But, we didn't know if it would ever work out. He wasn't happy staying home full time, and I wasn't happy working. But, there was nothing else we could do at the time. I cried out to God to save us, to help us. My life was bittersweet. I actually loved my job, but I felt bad missing the boys and I felt like I was missing out on their lives while I was gone. My hubby was going to school, but didn't really know what he wanted to do. He loved spending time home with the boys and we were grateful they weren't in daycare, but men are not made to stay home.

We had our first (and only) planned child, Luke, almost 3 1/2 years after Obi was born. This time I had 12 weeks of maternity leave. I so loved being home, but everyday was one day closer to going back to work, and it made me very sad. The night before I went back to work, I was crying out to God about my desire to be home. God gave me the verse from Joel 2:25a And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.

Now, that verse made no sense to me. How could God give me back the time I had lost with my boys? How was there any end to our situation? We even thought that my hubby would graduate and that both of us would end up working to support our family. But I hung on to that verse for dear life.

Another verse that became very precious to me is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I chanted this verse at times to reassure myself that our life made sense to God, and that he did indeed have a good plan for us.

Hubby changed his major, went full time, and the end was in sight. When Luke was 2 1/2 years old, our first girl, Leia, was born. I went on maternity leave with her the day my hubby started an internship during the day while going to school at night. We were praying this internship would turn into a job. On the day that I needed to give my notice if I was not going back to work, my hubby got and accepted a job offer. I couldn't believe it. I was going to stay home and hubby would be working! And I remembered the verse. But it still didn't make sense to me. But I finally had a baby that I got to stay home with. (Actually, I did work about 6 to 10 weekends a year until Yoda's birth.)

We had started homeschooling Han when he was in first grade. This was hubby's last year home, and he was the primary teacher. When I started staying home, I took over. Han was in second grade and Obi was in kindergarten, which mostly involved playing with toddler Luke so we could do Han's school work! God's calling us to homeschool allowed me to be home with the boys even though they were of school age. One of my fears had been that I would finally get to stay home, but the boys would be gone to school all day.

Three years after Leia, along came Padme, and four years later, we have baby Yoda. God has given me three babies that I got to stay home with, in addition to homeschooling the others so that I had plenty of time with them. God's way of restoring the years that I felt I lost by working. Isn't he good? And so faithful. There were many hard and dark days for me when I despaired of our situation, but God had a plan, and it was better than what I had even hoped for.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Leia's birthday in pictures

All birthdays at our house start with breakfast in bed. Actually, breakfast is brought to the birthday person in bed, but they always chose to come eat at the table with the family. The birthday person gets to pick what they want for breakfast and dinner. For some of the children, they think long and hard about what they want to eat, especially for breakfast. Leia always wants something sweet! Here she is receiving her breakfast of a pink donut with pink sprinkles and a princess cup of milk. She was thrilled.

After dinner the party began. Here is Leia with her party gear.

And her very eager sister, ready to see the presents.

And even the baby wore a party hat, for a bit.

Her first present was a Little Pet Shop house for all her Little Pets. She gets up every morning and feeds, waters, and grooms her little pets, and puts them all to bed at night. Now they have real beds to sleep in instead of the Kleenex ones they had before.

This Princess Castle book is from her Nana and Papa. She is very excited about it.

This is her pony in a purse. Her name is Daney.

And her new, pink and purple bike. When Han brought it in, Padme was so excited that she was screaming.
And her cake had to be pink with a horse. She loved it.

Leia with all her party goer siblings.

After cake and homemade ice cream, another family tradition, we went outside and hubby and Leia practiced on her new bike. Her old bike has training wheels, so she needs to learn to ride without them. She had one accident, with blood and tears, and got cleaned up and was back at it. She will have this mastered soon.

We went to Denver on Saturday to celebrate her birthday instead of having a birthday party with friends. Our kids had never been on rides before, so it was a big deal. Here are a few pictures of the kids. Everyone had a blast.

Luke and Leia on the Ferris Wheel.

Leia and Padme on the boats.

Padme in a semi truck.

And picture proof of Yoda sleeping in the stroller. The first time he has slept in there. Have I mentioned that he is a terrible sleeper? And doesn't sleep anywhere very well or very long? Well, he actually took a nap in the stroller. I was praising the Lord!

Leia's favorite ride was a roller coaster she went on with Daddy. She loved it, although it scared her a bit. The boys went on water rides about 20 times and were soaking wet. Obi was wearing shoes and socks, so his feet were wet for most of the day. When we left, he took off his socks and here are his very wrinkled feet!

And finally home, exhausted, but after a wonderful day.

Leia's 8th birthday was lots of fun and hopefully made many good memories for all of us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday, Leia!

Eight years ago today, God gave our family a beautiful baby girl. We already had three boys, and I was perfectly content with boys. But God knew that I needed a girl. I had always been a bit uncomfortable being a girl. I had been a tomboy as a child, liking sports better than any "girly" activities. My friends forced me to buy a purse when I was a junior in high school, and I was embarrassed to carry it! And those girly-girls in school were very annoying to me.

When I was pregnant with Leia, we had an ultrasound to find out if the baby was a boy or girl. My hubby had also never really wanted a girl, as he thought they were born pregnant teenagers! When we found out she was a girl, my hubby said, "Surely with three older brothers, she won't be a girly-girl, will she?" I told him that God was listening and had a sense of humor. Well, Leia is a girly-girl and a bit of a tomboy, all in one. And we couldn't love her more.

Before Leia was born, I had thought that she could just wear all the boy clothes that her brothers had worn. We were on a very tight budget, and I am very frugal. But then a family from our church who had three girls gave us all of their girl baby clothes. I was smitten with pink. Even the socks were cute. And she never wore blue for an entire year!

Leia has the sweetest spirit about her. She is very tender hearted and thoughtful of others. She loves Jesus and is always the first to suggest we pray about something. She loves purses, bling, anything pink, baby dolls, younger children, and horses. She is terrified of most bugs, screaming over moths in the house. She also loves playing basketball, Frisbee, playing in the mud, swinging, riding her bike and fishing.

She has shown me the joy and fun of being a girl. She is the double portion of grace that we didn't even know we needed. I thank God for her everyday. She brings joy and laughter to our house. I can't wait to see what God has in store for her life.

Here are some pictures from Hannah's 8 years.

In the hospital with my mom, her Nana.

Just home from the hospital being inspected by the brothers.

Two years old.
Three years old.
Four years old.

Five years old.
Six years old.
Seven years old.
Eight years old.

Happy Birthday Leia! We Love You!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Applebees Field Trip

We ended our school year with a field trip to Applebee's. We went with three other families from our homeschool group. The kids were going to get to tour the kitchen and get a free meal. Sounded like a good deal to me! The ladies at Applebee's were amazing. They were very outgoing, excited to have the kids there, and made this field trip one of our favorites.

The kids got a complete tour of the kitchen, the walk in refrigerators and freezers. Then the Applebee's folks had some games to play while we waited for our food. They had a sweeping competition for the younger children, where the winner of each heat got a coupon for free ice cream for a year. For the teens they had them roll silverware in napkins, also as a race.

Here are Obi and Han in their silverware competitions. Obi was really into it, and Han was just hanging out.

Then there was a bit of time for the kids to visit at their tables before the food came. After they had eaten, our wonderful Applebee's hostesses set up a ice cream sundae bar and each child got to wear a paper hat and plastic gloves and make their own sundae. This was a big hit!

When we left, each child had been given a coupon for free ice cream for a year (even if they didn't win their contest) and a coupon for a free kids meal. The ladies there were so nice and outgoing, they really made this a wonderful experience and a great last day of school!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fishing Fun

This past weekend we decided to go fishing after church. We haven't really ventured out to explore much, but my hubby knew of a lake up in the mountains, so off we went. It was 80 degrees at home, so we were dressed in t-shirts and shorts. I grabbed a few blankets, just in case, and our lunch. When we got to the lake, it was 50 degrees out! The girls, who are notoriously cold blooded, were freezing, while the boys thought it was perfect fishing weather!

We had a quick picnic in this beautiful spot.

Hubby showing the baby the water. He was cold, too!

We tied the blankets around the girls and they fished for a short time. No one caught anything. So, we headed back to town, where it was much warmer! Across the street from the library there is a small lake that is stocked, and is for kids fishing only. The kids started catching fish right away, some without any bait on the hook! The boys had all been fishing before, but both the girls caught their first fish. They were so excited! They were all too small to keep, but everyone had so much fun!

Padme really loved this fish and wanted to keep it as a pet.

Time to go home! This is a picture looking across the lake right before we left. This is my kind of fishing: near the library, 5 miles from home, near by bathrooms, and all the fish stayed at the lake!

Monday, June 8, 2009

National Velvet

Our book for June was National Velvet. Leia and I had a hard time getting through this book. It is very long, set in England, and written in 1935. I think the combo was hard on us! Many of the references to objects, activities and food we had never heard of and had to look them up. We were having some trouble getting it read, also partly due to the baby being sick, so we watched the movie while we were 1/3 of the way through the book. And I am going to say something I hardly ever say: We liked the movie better than the book!

The other people in our club also had a hard time with the book, but everyone liked the movie. It was funny to see Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney looking so young. My kids has no idea who she is, but they know Mickey Rooney from Pete's Dragon, and he is a voice on some Christmas movies, also. Anyways, Leia had made a small paper horse and glued it to cardboard the way Velvet did in the book. Here is a picture of her horse with it's stable.

And here is a picture of her with the book and her activity from the meeting. She got to design a jockey shirt and hat. Of course, they were pink!

And at the club meeting she got to ride a horse! She was so happy about that. Here are a few pictures of her on Lily the horse.

Some good results of reading the book are Leia and Padme's new pastime of riding play horses all over the yard. They have names for their horses, can tell you what color they are, and have an entire game made up with these horses. They have even convinced 10 year old Luke to play with them. He has a manly horse, of course.

Next month the book is Caddie Woodlawn. I am excited for that book. We are going on vacation in a few weeks, and I am planning on taking the audio book along to listen on the ride.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

10 months old

I can't believe it but Yoda is 10 months old, last week actually. He is crawling and pulling himself up to stand on everything! And still no teeth. Still doesn't like food too much except a little pasta, Cheerios, and baby Puffs. He hates baby food of any kind. And eating any kind of paper products is his favorite past time: paper, Kleenex, napkins, he isn't picky about paper. He prefers eating the napkin that I wiped his face with to the food I was wiping off his face! And he is getting over his fourth ear infection. Poor guy. We are thinking tubes are in his future. He weighed 26 pounds, 12 ounces at the Dr. yesterday, and is 30 inches tall. And just for proof that he isn't starving, a before bath time picture. He LOVES the tub! And we are crazy about him.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Worship Dance Performance

Leia loves to dance. She took a ballet class when she was four, but she was mostly interested in being with her friend Anna. So, we quit after Christmas. In January of this past year, Leia started taking worship dance lessons. This school is a ministry and the focus is on dancing to worship the Lord. It is a wonderful class. They are very interested in modesty, and the price is very affordable. The recital at the end required only that we had a white shirt, tights and ballet shoes for Leia to wear. They provided the rest of the costume.

Leia has LOVED this class. They have a Bible study during the class as well. The theme for this past semester class was the Bible: It is a book that is made up of many stories that all tell His story. Leia's class danced to the story of Joseph. There was a concert at the end of the semester and it was really amazing. Both Leia and I both were moved to tears by some of the dances. Truly wonderful. Here are a few pictures of Leia.

And Leia, after the performance with her flowers from us. She was absolutely thrilled to get the flowers.

Padme didn't want to take the class this past time, but she can't wait until next time. I also can't wait for her to get to dance also! Those little girls are so cute!