Thursday, July 30, 2009

Memorial Stones in Words : A House Named Ebenezer

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."

In my first Memorial Stones in Words post, I told about God's faithfulness in my getting to be a stay home mom of many children. This month I am writing about the house that God gave us.

When hubby and I first married, we lived in an apartment. Then when I was going to PT school, we bought a mobile home. We bought a newer and bigger mobile home after I graduated from PT school and started working. Then when Obi was 21 months old we bought a duplex. Our goal was always to have the cheapest housing to allow us to have hubby home with the babies. So, after hubby graduated, got a job, and I started staying home, we had the opportunity to build a house. We had four children and were living in our 1000 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom plus a toilet, duplex. We were beyond excited.

Hubby's uncle is a builder and would build us a house for much less than the going price. So, we began building. Our idea of our dream house. The kids and I spent hours in our van watching them build through all the steps. And taking pictures and videoing. We took cookies and sodas to the concrete guys, put the kids hand prints in fresh cement, prayed and marched around our lot praying for our house and neighbors. It was our dream come true. We picked out everything in the house. Agonized over choices, trying to make the right choices and be economical at the same time. There was a lot of stress, but we could only imagine that we would get to live there when it was finished.

We didn't have anything fancy planned in our house. All we wanted was the biggest house we could get. All along I felt God providing and helping us in every detail. There were a few specific things that he did for me, personally, with the house.

1. When I had finally found the kitchen counter top that I loved, I had wanted to have a wood trim on the side of the laminate. We decided to save the money and go without. When the cabinet makers were trying to plan out the counter top, they had some difficulty figuring out the seams because of the very large countertop area. They called and told us that if we could add a wood trim, the seams would work out much better. I was thrilled. I had given up what I wanted, and God gave it back to me.

2. Hubby had laid wood floors with the help of some friends. He didn't want to stain them, and I did. One of the very few things we disagreed on in the whole process. On the last day that he could stain the floor, Hubby got up early, went and bought stain, and stained the floors. When I went to see them, I couldn't believe it. They were the EXACT color that I had imagined them, although I had never told my husband that. Again, God giving me the floor color that I wanted.

3. I had spent hours and multiple trips trying to pick out carpet and tile at a local store. With four young children in tow. It was a bit stressful. Finally made the choices, and they gave us a bid. Sounded great. I had picked very plain floor tile and white bathtub tile. Come to find out later, they had called our master bathroom the mudroom in the bid, and they wouldn't compromise the difference: the price was just much higher. Hubby had had it with them. He met me while my friend watched all the kids, we went to two stores, and in a matter of a few hours, picked out carpet that we liked better, and got beautiful tile for the master bathtub, and got travertine marble for 2 bathroom floors plus the laundry room, all for less than the first place's first bid. God was so good.

4. Our garage ended up having a very tall ceiling due to our lot and the way the roof line was. Just days after our roof trusses went on, hubby and his uncle were looking at it and realized that we could put a bonus room over the garage. In order to make it a real room, we would have to redo the roof trusses, but until then it was great storage. It was 500 square feet. This to people who were living with 6 people in 1000 square feet. We thought we had hit the jackpot. It was our five year plan to redo the trusses and make a great family room out there. And we were so thankful for the potential that it symbolized to us.

5. When we first built it, we only finished the upstairs, which was 1500 square feet. It felt enormous. Three bedrooms and 2 full baths. For the first time, everyone had their own bed. Within 6 months, we finished the basement with a huge family room/playroom, 2 bedrooms, a school room, and another bathroom. We truly felt like we lived in a mansion.

Soon after we moved in our pastor and his wife came to bless our house for us. I was telling them all the different things that God had done for us in the building of our house. Our pastor's wife said that I needed to tell the children and others the stories of God's faithfulness. It was then that it hit me that our house had a name: Ebenezer.

1 Samuel 7:12 says Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."It was a memorial stone showing that God was with them. Our house was my memorial stone.

There is a hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, which also mentions Ebenezer. In verse 2 it says,"Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come..." This song always brings tears to my eyes.

Our house was wonderful for parties and entertaining. Plenty of room for adults upstairs, lots of room outside and downstairs for kids to play. Three different years we hosted big homeschool Christmas parties that my kids still talk about because of all the fun. We loved that house. We lived in the house for five years. A year ago this week we put our house up for sale. I couldn't believe that God would have us sell the house that he had gifted us. I even thought it wouldn't sell and maybe we could keep it and rent it out, so someday we could move back. God sold it in 59 days. I couldn't believe it.

This post is bittersweet. God lavished his love on me by the gift of our house, Ebenezer. And he led us to sell it and move away. It felt like a punishment. But it is a testimony of his provision for us in the past, his love for us even when we don't understand why he has moved us, and his plan for us in the future. We don't know what our future holds, but we do know the one who holds it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yoda's birthday in pictures

Yoda had a great birthday. Actually, he had a nice day, and his siblings had a great day, especially the younger ones. They have been so excited all day long. We are going to VBS this week, so here is a picture of him right before we were leaving the house this morning.

For dinner, he got his favorite spaghetti. This is the first picture we have gotten that show his top teeth coming in. They are not the middle teeth, but the ones next to the middle. Obi got his teeth in the same way. We called him Fang for awhile.

Yoda loved opening presents. He loves paper, so it was perfect for him.

Showing off his standing skills. I love how his toes are curled into the floor!

We have a tradition that our kids get their own first birthday cake to dig into how ever they want. Then we have another cake for the rest of the family. Here is Yoda with the family cake. He got a hold of it already! He grabbed Pooh's right hand just before this picture.

This is the cake he gets to dig into. He didn't know what to think of the candle.

He really liked the frosting.

He didn't like the feel of the cake on his hands as well as the frosting. He was digging in and then shaking his hands to get it off. Cake was flying!

And here, he was done. Off to the tub he went. I think he has done the best job of really digging into the cake of all of our kids. We had fun watching him.

Happy Birthday, Yoda! We love you!

Happy 1st Birthday, Yoda

Today is my baby's first birthday. I really can't believe it. He has four teeth, has finally decided that food is good to eat, although he still likes paper a lot. He is taking up to 10 steps on his own, loves balls, and water. He loves being outside and watching his siblings play. He doesn't say any real words. He sort of says Momma, but not regularly and he doesn't exactly call me that. He waves bye bye and very rarely gives kisses. He is still a bit of a cryer, a poor sleeper, and human Klingon, but we LOVE him so much. I can't imagine our lives without him. Here are a few pictures to highlight his first year.

With his big sister while in the hospital.

3 weeks old
First smiles

Christmas picture
First Christmas

Sitting alone

First food- not too impressed

Shirt his brother picked out

Sister reading to him

First Easter eggs

Swinging at the park
Trying to crawl

Likes to stand up

Fun with sister

Decided that food is good, especially speghetti!

Funny guy
Likes watermelon

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Birthday Pictures

Here are the boys ready to leave for Elitch's. Notice that younger brother is now taller brother? Everyone except Han, of course, was very excited about that, for Obi's sake. Obi has grown four inches since Jan. He is hoping he isn't done. Han is hoping that he is.

We have a tradition of making homemade ice cream for the kids' birthdays. With birthdays a day apart, I try to do two different cakes for Han and Obi. This year I tried a homemade ice cream cake. I have thought about this for years. How simple it would be. Sounds simple. I put it in a springboard cake pan, and when I went to put it into the freezer, the spring part kicked in, and my runny ice cream started running all over. It was a bit horrifying. Leia helped me, we salvaged as much as we could, slopped it into a real cake pan, added more of all the ingredients, and into the freezer it went. The boys all declared it the best ice cream cake ever. But it was too ugly for a picture. Here is a picture of Han eating it, though.

Here is Obi with the second cake. However, I put their real names on the cake, so Obi is covering up the names with his hand. But is was such a good picture of Obi, I had to include it.

Obi with his new MP3 player. The boys like to listen to some music on them, but use them primarily to listen to books on tape.

Han, with his very interested helpers, with a Redwall book on CD.

Han is a huge John Wayne fan. My parents gave him this book after he has about worn out theirs whenever he is at their house.

His new dart board

Obi's compound bow. He is demonstrating his shooting form.

I took the boys to a local musical production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. The boys knew 7 or 8 homeschoolers in it, so we thought it would be fun to go. It was a fabulous production and we were so impressed with all the performers. We had lots of fun and really enjoyed the show.

Overall, the boys had two very nice days and made good memories of their birthdays. We are very thankful for both of them and the joy they bring to us. Thank you Lord, for blessing us with them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy 14th Birthday, Obi Wan

Happy 14th Birthday, Obi.
When I found out I was pregnant with baby number 2, I realized that the babies due dates were only 2 days apart. I started praying that Han would have a little brother, and that Han would have his second birthday before the baby was born. God answered both of my prayers. I went into labor about 2 am after Han's birthday.

So their birthdays are two years and one day apart. And I also wanted them to have their own birthdays. Not just combine them for convenience. So, we used to have separate birthday parties for them. Then as they got older, we started having two combined birthday days. So, a family party for both of them on one day, a friend party on the other day. It has worked well.

This year they spent Han's birthday at Elitch's water park with their dad and a friend, and we will spend Obi's together as a family, and I am taking the two boys to a play tonight that some of their friends are in. We have never split up for birthdays before, but this year, with two teenagers and a baby, and three others in between,it seemed like the best way for them to have fun, and not be limited in what we could do because of the baby.

Obi has been a wonderful teenager. We are proud of the young man he is becoming. Happy Birthday, Obi. Hope you have a great day, and a wonderful year!
We love you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy 16th Birthday Han Solo

I can't believe that my firstborn is 16 years old today. It seems like he should maybe be eight. Or six. How can time fly by so fast? After being a follower of Jesus, becoming a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Han had a rather prolonged and dramatic entrance into the world. After 40 hours of labor including 2 hours of pushing, he was finally born in the operating room, drug out with forceps. It was traumatic for both of us. He was in a bit of distress, so they showed him to me, and then took him to the nursery. I was SO relieved that it was finally over, exhausted, and in a bit of shock. They took me to a recovery room, where my sister-in-law was videoing me and asked me if I was ready to do it all again.(OK, how smart was that?) I had no doubts that I would NEVER do that again. And we have video of me saying it. After a few hours, I was in my room, and they brought him to me, and I held him for the first time. I was smitten. I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And I couldn't sleep at all. All I could do was look at him.

By the time he was four months old, I had decided that I would do anything to have another baby like him. But I wanted an epidural next time. That story will continue tomorrow....

Even though Luke is our only child that we planned, whenever Han complains about his younger siblings, we always tell him it is his fault: If we hadn't liked him so much, we wouldn't have kept having kids! He is not amused by that, but we think it is funny.

Happy Birthday, Han. You are a wonderful young man and we love you very much!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

While I was gone on our trip, Kat, over at Art's Chili gave me my first blog award. How exciting is that??? It is the Honest Scrap Award.

Here are the rules:

1) Say thank you to the presenter of the award and link back to them

2) Share 10 honest things about yourself

3) Present this award to 7 other people whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design,

or those who have encouraged me.

4) tell those 7 people that they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these

guidelines in receiving it.

Please take time to visits these won't be sorry.

So, thank you Kat for this award. How fun to play along.

Go visit Kat and read about her family of 7 children, homeschooling, Christian living, anything that comes through her life. She is a great storyteller and always has something inspirational to say.

10 Honest Things About Me, in no particular order

1. I don't remember ever not being a Christian. When I was young in Sunday School and Children's Church, every time someone mentioned praying the believer's prayer, I prayed along, thinking that it hadn't "Worked" before. But I began a real, adult relationship with Jesus when I was 20 years old.

2. When I was in high school, I didn't plan to ever get married. I would say, jokingly, that I would get married when I was 55. I started dating my husband when I was 17 and we got married when I was 22.

3. After I was married, in Physical Therapy school, and in Gross Anatomy, I looked at the pelvis bones of a woman, and vowed I would never have children. I reasoned that it would hurt a lot to have a baby, just by looking at the anatomy of a woman's pelvis. Less than four weeks later, I found out I was pregnant! And I was right, it did hurt a lot!

4. I am a fairly picky eater. I have certain foods that should never be allowed to touch. Potlucks aren't my favorite thing. I have tried to hide this from my kids, but all but one of them are picky eaters, also.

5. I love to take pictures, but I hate to have my picture taken.

6. I lived in the same house until a month after my 21st birthday. In the 20 years since then, I have lived in 9 different places.

7. I have all day long morning sickness when pregnant. It has lasted from 3-8 months. When I was pregnant with Padme, number 5, my mom cooked for us for 2 months. When I was pregnant with Yoda, the two oldest boys cooked dinners the entire pregnancy!

8. Chocolate and cream cheese are my favorite foods, but I don't always like them together.

9. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid. I always liked animals more than people. When I was in high school I got a job working for our vet and I soon changed my mind. I still loved animals, but started thinking that people were pretty interesting, too. My next plan was to become a psychologist. Two years into my college plans, I hurt my knee and had to have surgery, followed by physical therapy. I changed all my education plans and pursued a physical therapy degree. I never wanted to be a mom until I had my first son. That is my best and favorite job.

10. I started babysitting when I was 11 and continued even after I was married. I have always loved kids, and having my own is so much better than babysitting other peoples kids!

I want to pass the Honest Scrap Award on to the following ladies:

Jodi at Much Ado about Nothing
Jodi is my friend in real life, (IRL) and the inspiration behind my starting this blog. She writes about her three children, living life while her husband is deployed, and their life in Georgia.

Anne at Four Happy Campers
Anne is also a friend IRL, and writes about her life with her twin 8 year old boys. And their many camping adventures this summer.

Tammy at Undeserving Grace
Tammy, a friend IRL, writes about living life with 8, soon to be 9 children, homeschooling, housekeeping, and recipe sharing.

Vanessa at Meine Kinder
Vanessa, a friend IRL, writes about homeschooling her three boys, her husband's health struggles, and recently, her impending move from Colorado to South Carolina.

Grateful for Grace writes about her life in Texas, living with her 6 children and her husband, homeschooling, and hosts the Memorial Words in Stones carnival on the 30th of the month.

Kate at Our Quiverfull
Kate will probably be too busy to blog about this award. She is the mother of 8 children. Her almost 3 year old boy, Noah, has a chronic illness. She writes her blog as a way to keep people up to date with what is going on with Noah and ways to pray for him. She is always positive, looks at her blessings, and is very encouraging, in spite of her often chaotic life. I am always inspired after reading her blog. My kids pray for Noah, and talk about him like we know him, but we have never met. Please check our her blog and join in praying for her family.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

4th of July

I know this is a bit late, but I just have to post about our first 4th of July in our new city. We kept hearing about this Wet parade they have on the 4th. Well, we were not prepared for the craziness of the people here when it comes to water on the 4th! This parade was basically a giant water fight between the people in the parade, and those watching. But, before the parade started, all the people waiting were having water fights with each other. One side of the street against the other, with thier side neighbors, and with anyone walking down the street. Actually, we learned about walking down the street the hard way. We were looking for a place to watch the parade, so we walked down the road, as there were no sidewalks to walk on, and we got hit from both sides. And I was pushing the baby in the stroller!

These people were serious about this water fight. People had trucks with 250 gallon water containers in the back to fill thier water guns. They had Rubbermaid totes, laundry hampers, any container you can imagine that holds water, full of water. They would empty one and bring out another. And I have never seen so many different water guns. We are going to plan for next year. I told the kids this year we would get the brunt of it, but next year, we would be ready!

Our kids have never had so much fun at a parade before. I took some pictures, but it is a bit hard to see the full effect. My hubby is wearing a red shirt with his back to the camera. You can see some of the floats shooting water at the crowd.

That night the boys shot some fireworks off in the street in front of our house. First time we have lived where we could shoot things off by our house, so the kids had a fun time with them.

A few pictures of the watchers.

And Padme with her sparklers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More memories from our trip

One of our favorite places in our hometown is a children's storybook park. It has all kinds of different characters with kid friendly houses, boats, etc that go along with each theme. This is one of the fun places to visit in the summer, and best of all, it is free. Here are a few pictures of the kids at the park.

Here are the girls at the 101 Dalmatians display.

Here is Luke by the new Pirate Ship.

Here is Padme by a climbing house.

And the extent of Yoda's fun was in the stroller. Next time we come he will be walking and will love exploring and seeing all the fun things in the park.

Here are Yoda and Padme at my sister's house for a family BBQ. The kids had lots of fun playing with their cousins.

Here are all of the cousins, minus my oldest brother's two who live in California.

My sleeping companions in the camper. The rooms was dark, but the flash makes it look like daylight. No wonder I didn't get a lot of sleep. These guys are crazy movers in their sleep!

A day spent in our friend's backyard playing in the water. Padme with Luke lounging behind her. We don't have a swimming pool of any kind for the kids, but after this, we definitely need one!

The day we were returning home, with my parents. We were all sad to leave, and they were sad to see us go. However, they were probably happy to see us go so they could have their bathroom and washing machine/dryer back to themselves!

We had a wonderful trip home. The best part of it was spending time with people we know and love, and they love us back. Moving has been hard on us partly because we went from lots of connections to people, to none. It is hard to build new connections and feel like you are part of a new community. I feel like our going home filled all of our love tanks to overflowing. It was regenerating to us and helped us to come back to our new home and to keep trying to make new friends and connections here.

I was born and raised where we moved from, went away to college and returned with a 10 month old son. All of our other children were born there. I regularly saw people who have known me most of my life. The second day we were home, I went to a homeschool book sale. It was wonderful. Many of my friends all gathered together for the sale, and I got to see them all. God planned it out. I visited with one lady who I have known since I was in first grade, and another lady who knew me from elementary school. I love those connections. I have deep roots there. I miss that in our new place. The longest we have known anyone there is since November. I know it takes time. But I love my roots!

The trip home was long. We were all tired. Leia slept almost the entire way. She was our person to get drinks out of the cooler while on the road. One time she turned around, leaned across the seat, and went back to sleep with her hand on the cooler! Yoda was not the best traveler for the last hour or so. A screaming baby is a driving hazard. Obi was the designated baby handler during the trip, and he was about fried at the end. I gave Obi the camera so he could try and distract Yoda with it, so he used it to snap some pictures chronicling the end of our journey. Here are a few of Yoda, who had HAD IT with his car seat!

And Obi's feelings on the whole deal:

Needless to say, we were all glad to get to our house. And hubby was so glad to have us home. And Yoda was happy to get down and crawl all over our baby proof house. What a relief for all of us!