Saturday, December 31, 2011

Marriage Posting 101

The funny thing about posting about marriage is that it's not entirely fair.  See, only one person in the marriage decided to write a blog that anyone can see, so when you look at the categories that I write about (on the right hand side of my blog), you'll see there are far far fewer entries in the marriage category than the ones like faith and family.  Unless you write very generically, or keep it totally about yourself, or just want to brag about your husband, you pretty much have to stay off of marriage issues. 

It's odd because, obviously, marriage is a huge part of my life.  I've been with Bray for 8 years now and we've been married for 5 1/2 of those.  We've had high times, low times, funny times, sad times, and all the in-between times that any married couple (save a Kardashian or two) has.  During my long period of pondering I wrote about this week, a lot of what I thought about was marriage and its highs and lows.  Generally and specifically.  Globally and personally.  So I am going to write a few posts about marriage with a few ground rules that I think are key if I'm ever going to write about marriage: (a) no secrets will be shared, (b) nothing disrespectful will be said, (c) some commentary will be from personal experience and some will be from what I've observed in other marriages but all of it will remain generic enough so no one has to share what they'd rather not. 

I actually think this is the reason real issues about marriages aren't discussed, particularly Christian ones.  Sure there are lots of books about marriage.  But many writers, men or women, have to gingerly step around the issue of saying I did this terrible thing and my spouse did this terrible thing for fear the ultimate outcome of the writing project will be to inflict more pain on a healing marriage.  I've certainly not figured out a way around that issue, but I hope someone does because there's much about Christian marriages that could be improved upon with some frank discussion. 

In my experience, since the children have arrived (this is our third Christmas with the kids), the holiday season often is one of the hardest on our relationship.  It's the combination of multiple factors: Bray has to work many hours in his line of work during the holidays; I am stressed about getting everything decorated, food cooked, kids photos done for cards, shopping completed; Bray hunts and this is the heart of the season; lots of parties and family get-togethers mean more rushed schedules and often sick kids; and then, of course, just all the build up and then the ultimate let down after it's all over.  It is emotionally and physically exhausting, but much more so with children. 

It's sad though when you think about the three celebrations that mark the holiday season:  Thanksgiving, when we stop to say thanks for all the blessings in our lives; Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour; and New Year's, when we celebrate the year behind and new beginnings that lay ahead.  If we kept all that in perspective, then maybe we could find a way to release some of the tension that inevitably builds up in the marriage over the course of six weeks. 

Regardless, the key is how to fix whatever broke when January rolls around.  I think one of the biggest struggles in marriages today is to allow the rush of modern life to sweep the small spills under the rug.  After months or years of sweeping martial spills under the rug, the rug gets too small to contain the mess and everything erupts.  What if, instead, at the end of each month (or each week depending on how ambitious you are), we sat down with our spouses and talked stuff out?  Get the kids in bed, turn the television off, push the bill paying aside, and look at each other in the eye and say thank you for doing this or this thing you did hurt me or I think we could improve on communicating with each other or whatever it is that month.  A month end "true up."  Literally.  Give one another the freedom to be honest (especially the guys because they're often concerned they'll be living with hacked off wives if they say what they're really feeling), but speak out of love and not out of anger or resentment.

Pretty lofty goal, huh?  But I think it could save marriages far and wide if we'd all give it a shot.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I have several posts in the "can" from my prolonged thinking period in the Tranquility Room, but I'm scrapping them all today because my best friend swooped in last night at the exact perfect moment to save the day (or week or emotional disaster, whatever the case may be). 

I always have so much fun with Mary regardless of what we do but because I've been a little down and because we've not seen each other a lot lately and because we were going to see one of our favorite bands, Better than Ezra, last night was absolutely perfect.

We had dinner and cocktails at The Grove and swapped our bummer stories, but from then on out proceeded to only say and do super fun things.  Including having a blast at the House of Blues rocking out to Better than Ezra and I can honestly say that I saw a side of Mary I'd never seen before (and we've been friends for nine years!).  Cyndi Lauper had it right, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Sometimes all it takes to make you feel 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter is a best friend and some good music.  So if you're having a bummer day or week or month, call your friend and at the very least take a spin around town blaring some good tunes.  I can recommend Better Than Ezra..........

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time to Think

I believe the saying that money can't buy you happiness.  But money can buy you some time in the Tranquility Room at the Trellis Spa.  I spent yesterday morning at one of my favorite spas in town, but one I've not been to since having the kids because it's just too pricey.  However, a group of my girlfriends were getting together to see a friend in from China, and I was off of work, so I splurged on a massage and pedicure.  While they were both fabulous, as was the time with these sweet girls, probably the most amazing part of the day was my time in the Tranquility Room.

Can I set the stage for you?  It's a small room.  It comfortably seats four chaise loungers, a fireplace and two small waterfalls, but that's it.  It's completely quiet and free of any electronic devices (they're banned) or clocks.  The chaises are made out of chenille and nearly custom fitted for lounging ladies complete with comfy throw to keep your toes warm when you kick off your sandals.  The lighting is dim - bright enough to see a pen on paper but no brighter.  The backside of the stone fireplace has a fulsome fire (the front side of the fireplace faces into the waiting room), flames which lick but never devour the logs.  The two stone waterfalls are loud enough to deliver a trickling water white noise into the space without being intrusive.  It is the perfect peaceful retreat.  And it gave me time to think.  Time to think for a long period without interruption which has been completely lacking from my current day-to-day existence.   

I've always loved this little spot, but never more so than at this moment in my life.  I've been in a bit of a ditch.  When I started penning words that came to my mind about my current emotional state (I begged the spa staff for a paper and pen because I started getting so many writing ideas in my head that I had to jot them down immediately or lose them forever), among the first were unhappy, restless and, among other harsh words, self-involved.  I tried to identify all of the conditions that led to these emotions.  I identified some, certainly, but not all of them.  Much of it is reflective of the fact that, despite my earthly best efforts, I'm not where I should be in my walk with the Lord.  This thinking period led me down a dozen rabbit trails and filled two sheets of notebook paper, front and back, with writing ideas and self-assessments in the ten minutes that followed all of this mental chewing. 

Here's the thing.  The room, it's artificial.  It isn't real.  It's contrived.  The perfect combination of warmth from the fire and blanket paired with the exact right degree of air conditioning, the constant trickling of waterfalls, a bottomless cup of tea or glass of wine, and the "tranquility" to ponder is an expensive artifice.  But it did give me time to think.  Time I realize now was long overdue.  And it gave me a lot of writing material which you'll see in the days to come.  Most importantly, it led me to rethink how I got to this current state and what needs to happen to change it.  It's mostly God stuff, but some of it is me stuff, so I'd better get to work.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bizzarro Ticks

Toddlers have funny ticks.  They change regularly.  My three toddlers have developed a whole set of new ones over the long Christmas weekend.  As you likely read, we were all very sick and so there was a lot of frustration (and depression on my part because three sick kids is SO overwhelming).  But........there was hilarity too.  How can there not be when you combine three 26 month olds, new toys, the concept of Santa, and p.j.s all day!?!?!

First up, the eldest.  He enjoys making coffee with me in the mornings.  Weekdays it's usually the Keurig machine because it's quick for work, but weekends we make fresh coffee in the"big" pot with fresh ground coffee beans.  He loves it!  So I selected a play kitchen that had a coffee pot in it because I knew that he'd love it.  Well little did I know that it would be the biggest fighting issue in the house.  The kids LOVE the coffee pot.  But none more than my sweet boy.  He ran back and forth from his play kitchen to refill his coffee pot and careen back towards us yelling, "more coffee?  more coffee?"  He would then pour us coffee in our mugs and head back for more.  His favorite new words are "More Coffee?" 

Next up, the baby.  He's obsessed with the words "apple pie."  The reason I say the words rather than actual apple pie is because I'm fairly certain that he has never seen or tasted an apple pie.  I have video which I will post when I figure out how to cut portions of it that illustrates this new obsession.  We ask him what he's making in the kitchen and he says apple pie.  Even if it's in a coffee cup.  We ask him what the elephant is in the book and he says apple pie.  He sometimes will follow this apple pie business with hysterical laughter.  It's the funniest thing I've ever seen.  I'm going to buy him an apple pie so he sees what it is that has him so taken. 

Last but not least, the little lady.  I think she probably was the sickest, so she was the grumpiest this weekend.  However, she was not without her moments.  She's also big on the kitchen (as well as "jump, jump" on the trampoline).  But she seems more mesmerized by the little stove top sound effects from the pots and pans.  And she's learned to fight her brothers.  They like to steam roll over her for the item in the kitchen they want (mostly the eldest), but she will scream and fight them for it now.  She's clearly got the stereotypical girl response and the stereotypical boy response working in tandem - she will let out a cry like she has lost her dog but pair it with a big hit upside their heads.  The former we work with her on, the latter sends her time out (stealing a coffee pot does not warrant hitting, yet). 

I look forward to what they'll come up with this week.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And to all a good night...

If you read this weekend's post, then you know that today was going to be a coin toss.  But it was good.  Not flawless, but good.  Isn't that life, though?  It's not flawless, but it's good.  Three years ago this time, I wasn't even pregnant and couldn't have imagined that this time three years later I'd be celebrating with three walking, talking toddlers.  Two years ago this time, we had infants home from the NICU for just over a month and were walking around with monitors strapped to their chests.  So being sick for Christmas isn't the end of the world.  
My baby girl with her new baby girl

Just After Santa left.......

Joy riding on the tractor w/aforesaid calf

Squeals of delight over a new stuffed calf

The kids awoke, two with fevers and coughs still (along with mommy), with grand excitement about Santa's appearance and his gifts.  We all rushed into the living room together to see bow-tied tractors and kitchens and dolls and trampolines.  They loved their presents and fought over them all day (so much for not needing multiples of items - oddly, the most fought over item was the coffee pot in the play kitchen).  We had a grand lunch, I ended up having all the items I needed at the house so my inability to run errands yesterday did not ruin a thing.  I am sick and tired tonight, as were my sweet kiddos, but we have a warm house, clean clothes, fresh bathwater, plenty of food and medicine, and a doctor on call should we need one.  We are so much better off than most people around the world. 

Today ultimately was precious and special to me because of the Christmas message at the center of everything.   I choked up as I read the kids the story of our Saviour's birth and the message of hope that it brought to the nations then as it does now.  I am most moved by the advent calendar's telling of Mary - how she treasured each gift that was brought to Jesus, her son and God's, whether it was gold from a Wise Man or a token from a nearby villager that heard the angels singing.  As a mother, don't you know that's true?  Here she is, in the middle of this revolutionary occurrence, not that she asked to be, and all she can do is love her sweet boy as any mother would do and equally love those who came to worship and adore him.  As they came singing, Oh Come Let Us Adore Him, or their version of it, don't you know she teared up and her heart swelled.  Don't you think that as she changed him and fed him and bathed him, she kissed him and prayed for him just as any mother would do.  Even though he was not like any other child, he was still her child, and he was going to save the world - including her.  What a gift, but what a burden.

Today, what I hope my children took away besides Santa and presents, was the reason why we give.  We give because we celebrate Christ's birth and we give because He gave so much.  And I hope the gifts that were given and received by my family that went to World Vision as well as students in Guatemala and children needing vision in Africa and men wanting to go to seminar in third world countries and girls being rescued from slave trade in India were delivered with the same message of hope: today is Jesus Christ's birthday, He came to bring you a hope and a future. 

I hope you and your family had a Merry (and healthy) Christmas.  From the Vincents to you, Merry Christmas to all, and (if you'll excuse us now) to all a good night!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Nightmare Before Christmas

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, then you know that I had relatively healthy kids until school began.  Then, like floodgates opening (and like I was warned by many a parent before me), every other week the trio, or some portion of them, were sick.  Unfortunately, that pattern did not pass the holidays by.  Everyone was well the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving so it was inevitable we'd catch something at large gatherings.  And catch we did.  Three sick kids for two weeks on z-pac and then hand, foot and mouth to top it all off.  Everyone had been well for over a week when we went to the farm this past weekend.  And now, in these mere days and hours before Christmas, everyone is sick again. 

The eldest led the pack on Monday with coughing and fever.  Sadly, five days later and he's almost worse than when he started.  We were at Texas Children's Hospital this morning for x-rays.  Fortunately it is not pneumonia, but unfortunately it is viral and there's no good treatment for his thickened lungs, roller coaster fevers, and restless coughing nights.  By Wednesday, the little lady had it, and the baby was in the throws of it by yesterday.  After returning home from TCH with my big boy this morning, I spent forever in our doctor's office (only to see her back up who I'm not a fan of) and found out the doctor thought the whole family had contracted whatever this virus was and I should just hydrate them and try to keep the fever under control.  BUT.... we got a call a half hour later, darling girl's flu test came back positive!  A weak positive but still positive.  We all were good patients and had flu shots in September, but all for naught.  I begged the back-up doctor to call in Tamiflu for BOTH the baby and the little lady because everyone clearly had it. 

Tonight was the worst of the week yet.  In addition to all three kids being sick, I'm sick now too, and they're starting to potty train and Bray has to work a ton of hours leading up to Christmas.  So tonight I got poop on my hand twice from potty runs that were successful (albeit during the middle of me trying to prep dinner and each run taking a minimum of 10 min), was thrown up on twice (a new symptom the baby added tonight), sat helplessly through harrowing coughing because when their fits are simultaneous it appears they will all throw up, and ran through three diaper rags cleaning up nose goo. 

People used to say I was the perfect person to have triplets.  I'm so organized and scheduled.  And that may be true when they're well, but when everyone is sick, this sick, I'm utterly and completely overwhelmed.  And the fact that Santa is coming tomorrow night and this is our current state has me in tears.  I don't even know if I have the groceries I need for our meal Sunday but it doesn't matter because I can't take three sick kids to the grocery store solo on Christmas Eve..........

The kids were so excited for Santa and Christmas and started "getting it" this year for the first time.  We've spent all week assembling things and wrapping presents.  All I can do now is pray for a Christmas miracle.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Farm Before Christmas

So instead of the traditional Night Before Christmas, we spent our weekend before Christmas at the family farm.  I've written about it before but it will likely appear more often now that my children are absolutely OBSESSED with the farm.  Everything from tractors, four-wheelers, cows, horses, and grandma and grandpa just fascinates them (all words they mastered now, by the way, they've grown quite verbose). 

Grandmother had the farm all done up in festive decor and the kids ran miles, I would estimate, in the two days we were there.  Not only were there the joys of farm-filled goings on, but three of their cousins happened to be there to which just added to the excitement. 

I, if you haven't picked up on this, am a city girl.  I married a fellow that could live on the farm or the ranch in a minute.  I personally think this combo is going to result in very well rounded children - they'll be well-read and rooted in the arts and music, but they will also be able to work a cow and ride a horse better than anyone else in grade school.  Here are a few shots from the highlights of the weekend which included: the eldest and little lady riding their first horse (with grandfather of course!), feeding the cows both by hand with cubes and by tractor with hay (the eldest taking to it the best and literally letting the cows lick all the food right off his hand, he now says tongue A LOT because those animals have some seriously long tongues), swinging on the swing set and with grandmother on the tree swing, sitting by a bonfire, running across acres of land, the baby driving BOTH grandfather's truck and daddy's tractor, and taking the four-wheeler/buggy from one end of the farm to the other.  It was chilly but sunny so there wasn't a moment when they weren't outside - they didn't even want to eat their meals or take naps because it would take them away from the bliss of it all. 

Music Miniseries: Part 3, Scriputural Sonnets

One of the awesome things about music and its inspirational powers is its history.  Music goes all the way back.  People were moved by music since time began.  It helped them communicate with God.  It drew them closer to one another.  It provided them an outlet for their emotions.

One of the most lush and larger-than-life places we see this played out is in the book of Psalm.  The Bible is replete with words from songs to God but nowhere more so than in David's book of songs.   From blessed is the one in Psalm 1 to praise the Lord in Psalm 150, David pens beautiful sonnets and sounds.  Everyone from Amy Grant to U2 has borrowed from David's lyrics and set the words to new and beautiful melodies.  They resonate just as clearly today.

The longest Psalm is Chapter 119 and my Women in the Word bible study was charged with reading it and meditating on it over the holiday break from our study.  It is a 176 verse psalm with everything from praise to remonstrations to forgiveness and guidance.  I've been reading it in bits and pieces because there is so much to digest.  And I wish that I had musical ability because I try to sing them but can't come up with the right melody. 

Christians worldwide realize the power of scriptural songs, and particularly the Psalms.  I was just reading an article from a pastor in Pakistan who, in a Facebook update, wrote these words:  "Christian boy been murdered in police custody. Police fired shells on rally and arrested Christian protesters. Working on remaining tracks of “AWAKENING” youth album. Title song, Psalm 119, will be finished tonight."  His mission is to reclaim the heritage of singing the Psalms in Punjabi, set to indigenous melodies and rhythms.  The pastor goes on to say that paying attention to worship renewal and music will reignite Christianity in the region. 

Music.  It does powerful things.  It moves people to action.  And if used by God, with God-breathed words, imagine the transforming power of the song.  While music inspires me and changes my perspective in many ways as I've written about in this little miniseries, its impact is most dramatically felt in my walk of faith.  God uses his scripture and His songs to draw me closer to Him, to breath a fresh word of strength and wisdom into my spirit, and to give me rest and comfort during time of need.  If you love music as I do, then take a moment today to read a Psalm or turn up a praise tune.  I dare say you'll find the inspiration and perspective you've been seeking.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Music Miniseries: Part 2, The Perspective

Yesterday I wrote about how music inspires me.  Today, I wanted to write about how music can change my perspective.  Or at the very least, remind me of what my original perspective was before I got so busy and forgot about all the good stuff in my life. 

The best, and more current example, is how music can remind me to slow down and appreciate these days with the kids.  They're learning new things every day.  They add words and skills and understanding on a moment to moment basis.  But I get so busy doing all the things on my lists that have to get done, that sometimes I forget to slow down and savor the little people they are now.  Before they aren't little people anymore. 

The concert I mentioned getting to attend this week, featured a song by Linda Eder called If I Could.  I hadn't heard it before but it resonated.  I'm a momma bear.  And boy do I want to protect my kids from every dangerous or hurtful thing possible.  But it's not possible (as Bray regularly reminds me).  The words are:
If I could
I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes
Give you courage in a world of compromise
Yes, I would

If I could
I would teach you all the things I've never learned
And I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned
Yes, I would

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I'll watch you grow so I can let you go

If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears
But I would if I could

In a time and place where you don't wanna be
You don't have to walk along this road with me
My yesterday won't have to be your way

If I knew
I'd try to change the world I brought you to
Now there isn't much more that I can do
But I would if I could

Hearing that song Tuesday night immediately reminded me of another song.  When I was in high school, I attended the same church as Wayne Watson, a popular Christian musician at the time.  He sang a song about his two young boys which I couldn't appreciate at the time, though I sang it anyways, but now I can hear each line of each verse ringing crystal clearly in my head.  The songs may not seem connected - in my head they connected though and they led me to action.  If I Could changed my perspective - of course I should love my children with everything in me, but I can't protect them from the world.  And Watson's song, entitled Watercolor Ponies, reminded me that these days with three toddlers are speeding by and I have to appreciate every single moment and enjoy the mess and chaos because I will be heartbroken when it's gone.  I leave you with the words of Watercolor Ponies

There are watercolour ponies
On my refrigerator door
And the shape of something
I don't really recognize
Drawn by careful little fingers
And put proudly on display
A reminder to us all
Of how time flies

Seems an endless mound of laundry
And a stairway laced with toys
Gives a blow by blow
Reminder of the war

That we fight for their well-being
For their greater understanding
To impart a holy reverence
For the Lord

But, baby, what will we do
When it comes back to me an you?
They look a little less
Like little boys every day
Oh, the pleasure of watching
The children growing
Is mixed with a bitter cup
Of knowing the watercolour ponies
Will one day ride away

And the vision can get so narrow
As you view through your tiny world
And little victories can go by
With no applause
But in the greater evaluation
As they fly from your nest of love
May they mount up with wings
As eagles for His cause

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Music Miniseries: Part 1, The Inspiration

I had the treat of going out with my best friend to see Linda Eder perform with the Houston Symphony for Christmas.  She's got an amazing voice and sang a song that just moved me incredibly and led me to an idea for a post.  Plus it got me to thinking about how so much of what I write is inspired by song.  Whether a concert, on Sunday morning at church, or on the radio, music is one of the most effective ways God communicates with me.  I see things from a new perspective.  I hear things with fresh ears.

So I thought I'd write a short 3 episode miniseries on music and my life.  This entry will be about how music inspires me, tomorrow I'm writing about a specific example of how music affects my actions, and Saturday's will be on music in the Bible.  I hope you stay with me for all three, especially if you're anything like me and LOVE music. 

I can't remember a time when music wasn't in my life.  Before my father was a pastor, he was a music minister at churches.  Both my grandparents and my mother sang and played the piano.  I can remember going to my grandparents at the holidays and all sitting around the piano while Mimi pulled out the hymn book and played, and my grandfather's and father's booming voices led us all in Christmas carols.  I still remember singing to my Mimi at the end stages of Alzheimer's, when she was completely ravaged, but still loved music.  And now, I get to sing to my children, from the car to the nursery, they beg for songs.  They dance, and clap and try to help sing along.  Oh I hope they love music like I do.  I used to be a DJ when I was a tween, and I remember sitting in that padded room blaring out my favorite contemporary Christian music on my dad's new radio station.  I'd also memorized Grease and could sing every syllable with my cousin, Sarah.  In high school, I would go every year to the ballet with Mimi, and I remember how moving the symphonic sounds were when set in motion with dance.  In college, I was introduced to country music and found a whole genre I'd missed.  In law school, I was introduced to, and fell in love with, jazz and blues, now still possibly my favorite genre. 

Today, still, I hear old and new songs and see or feel something fresh.  Michael Buble's new Christmas CD totally puts me in the holiday spirit.  Singing Dwell in the Midst of Us makes me desire God's presence in the middle of everything I'm doing.  Hearing Davis and Coltrane play Kind of Blue makes me feel cool in a way that I know I'm not.  Dave Matthews makes me want to make out with Bray.  Tom Petty belting out Free Fallin' requires that I sing at the top of my lungs while speeding.  And singing my I Love You lullaby to the children in my rocking chair makes my heart burst with love.

Music inspires me.  To write.  To think.  To see.  To feel.  It's like no other drug in the world.  Music can make me laugh or cry or kiss or run.  Music changes how I feel and act in any given moment.  It's a miracle. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Merriment and Melee

I'm just now getting around to writing about this weekend because I'm pooped.  It was all fabulous, but wow are we tired! 

Poor Bray got his fill of culture this weekend.  Friday night was dinner and a show at the Alley with a couple friend of ours.  Sunday night was the annual Vincent family arts night out which included dinner at Brennan's followed by the Houston Symphony Pops (both were good but I've had far better experiences at both in the past...).  Then Saturday was breakfast with Santa at the kids' school.  We'd been preparing them that they could sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they'd like for Christmas all week.  The baby had been very clearly saying, "tractor - BIG tractor" (who does that sound like?!?!), and the little lady had been saying "baby" (as in the doll, not the infant), but the eldest was a bit muddled and settled on a tractor as well (he tends to be more interested in what others want, I'm waiting for that to pass). 
So the event was wonderful and none of them cried and they fell in love with the Frosty and Rudolph characters walking around - so much so that they began to stalk them and hug them fiercely. Not to mention all the nativity scenes out for them to play with - they are seriously in love with camels these days, go figure.

Resting before the Santa Photo Shoot by the Natvity
Loving those Camels

Who doesn't love Frosty?

This Christmas is really fun.  Now that we've had our Santa encounter, the baby walks around saying "Santha, Santha" which I have to capture on video because it is the most precious Santa you've ever heard called out.  They LOVE the tree that's up and keep taking the ornaments (all shatterproof) down and we keep hanging them higher - it's definitely not one of my Martha Stewart trees.  The presents, sadly, aren't around the tree because they enthusiastically want to rip into any of the paper - I'm assuming this will go on for a couple of years and then I'll be able to show off my presents again!  Bizarrely, they're starting to potty train themselves and I'm kind of hoping they'll hold off til the New Year because of the travel - the baby especially is doing it ALL in the potty, we're thrilled at the thought of no more diapers, but it's going to be a pretty hassle intensive time I know for the next few months.  They have hand bells and we sing Jingle Bells all around the house while they play their bells.  They even got to take presents to Baby Jesus at chapel at school last week which left an impression (a live baby in a nativity at chapel - so great that they're already learning the meaning of Christmas).  They're also reading all the time, on their own they spend time with books, especially our Christmas ones.  It's a very sweet time for us all and we're trying to savor every moment instead of getting caught up in the melee.  What a treasure. 
Reading Time

Trying Out our Christmas PJs

Friday, December 9, 2011

Waking Up

My darling boy had a nightmare or something last night around midnight and woke up crying for mommy.  Because I'd gone to a holiday party, I had missed putting the kids down for bed and really found myself missing hugging on them.  So instead of being the consistent responsible mommy, I went in and plucked my little man out of bed and brought him in to sleep with us.  He's actually probably the best about sleeping, actually sleeping, in our bed, so the majority of the night was fairly restful despite an extra body in bed.  But the best part of it was waking up this morning.  Bray and I woke before he did, and I just laid there watching his sweet little face.  I don't know that I've ever actually watched the process of one of my kids waking up.  When I get to them, they're normally already awake.  So I got to watch him scrunch up, and then stretch, and then open his eye lids, and then watch them fall heavily back down, and then he rolled over and puckered his perfect little mouth, and then back came the eye lids opening as he processed where he was and what time of day it was.  It was just precious.  He's such a pretty child, but I never really get to study his face because he's two and running around like a mad man.  But this morning was quiet and still and I got to thank God for my beautiful blessings.  He awoke before the other two as well so we even got a few extra minutes to snuggle before the day got going.  What an amazing way to start off a day. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sidestepping Pitfalls

We had a big interview yesterday.  We, as parents, interviewed on behalf of our children to get them into a school that I believed would be the perfect fit for them.  I fell in love with this school and was ecstatic when we were selected to interview (it increased our odds of acceptance once selected for an interview). 

In preparation, I was reading the information on the school's website and rereading our children's life verses.  I read each one and prayed it over each child from afar and the words read so fresh and new that they completely shifted my focus as I prepared.  The last verse I read was the eldest's, from Proverbs 3, and these words nearly lifted off the page as if animated in a 3D movie, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."

Imagine that.  Step 1 - trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart.  Step 2 - Lean not on you own understanding.  Can you imagine the pitfalls we would sidestep if we all just did that and only that?!?!?  Forget all the other incredible divinely written words in the Bible.  What if we just (a) wholly trusted God, and (b) didn't rely on ourselves!  Not only would we sidestep the many pitfalls that befall us as we walk this winding road, we would in all likelihood be moved to an entirely NEW road that didn't even HAVE pitfalls. 

I just wrote about how recently I've heard this message that we shouldn't manipulate a situation to be God's will when it's really our own striving or desires.  I'm guilty of that.  Seriously guilty of that.  I am a Type A person that has tried to achieve my entire life.  Once one achievement is under my belt, I'm off to another one, oftentimes entirely unrelated.  But there's this careful tightrope I have to walk.  I think that God encourages me, all of us, to use our gifts and talents, and I could be just as disobedient if I sat on my hands and did nothing.  HOWEVER, if I'm trying to push my agenda instead of further His agenda all my work is in vain.  Not to mention displeasing to the God that I serve.  Oh, and it can lead to another nasty sin of mine, pride. 

If I were to, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding," then the Bible says He will make my paths STRAIGHT.  No more pitfalls on a winding and bumpy road.  Wow.  A straight path.  A path that I can follow.  A path that won't lend itself to pitfall-induced sprained ankles and bruises. 

After yesterday's interview, we were pretty much set up for the fact that the kids wouldn't get in.  The me before I prepared my heart with prayer would have been heartsick.  The me now is at peace.  I still hope my children have the opportunity to attend this school.  I think that the academics partnered with the focus on Christ is nearly impossible to find these days and I would love for my kids to experience that.  But I don't know what the Lord has in store for them.  Only that He has a plan.  And maybe this is the plan and maybe it isn't.  As I wait to hear the news, I will remind myself daily to trust the Lord instead of myself, and maybe the first pitfall that new strategy will help me avoid will be the pitfall of anxiety.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I love Christmas.  Truly, it is the most wonderful time of the year.  And now with kids I'm going to get to experience it on an entirely new level. 

With that said, I've been a bit adrift the past week or so.  I really don't have anything new to write which is why I've been a little flaky on my blog.  I feel a little muddled.  I know part of it is that the kids have been so sick and that just sucks all your time.  Plus I've been slow at work which leaves me feeling a bit directionless.  I can't even really motivate myself to use that time to knock off items from my ever growing to do list.  I finished decorating the house last night, the kids "helped" decorate the tree Sunday, and I even went to a cookie baking party over the weekend, but alas, I still have lackluster spirits. 

I think some of this out-of-sortsness comes from the fact that I have a vision for what I think God wants me to do but it's just me imposing my view OVER His.  I read two devotionals yesterday that basically said that we should stop trying to manipulate a situation to make it BE God's answer or timing.  Lysa Terkeurst wrote a whole article about it which said, "I know how to strategize to make my plan seem like a great plan...what if I use these skills and talents outside God’s will? To push past God’s timing, God’s direction, God’s plan to teach me stuff in the process...It’s great to strategize and have a plan. But it’s not great if that plan stretches me so I seek “more” rather than truly seeking God."  (Click here to read the whole post.)

SOOOO, I am turning it around today.  I'm going to rest in where I am now, without being lazy, and be thankful every moment for where God has placed me today!  Plus, I've seen too much around me this week to feel anything other than over the moon at how unfathomably fortunate I am this beautiful Christmas season.  I just saw pictures of a precious baby girl who was born six weeks early because her mother had an aneurysm and had to be rushed into brain surgery and the baby delivered.  Mom and baby girl survived and have a positive, miraculous, prognosis, but they're rehab-ing with her parents and are fundraising to pay medical bills.  My friend with young children is rushing between her very busy job and her father who is in the hospital - I can only imagine that she would kill for a little of my downtime.  I have friends trying to balance the joy of the holiday with the emptiness of this being their first Christmas without a loved one.

Today God has given me an amazing time and space to celebrate this miraculous season with my handsome husband and delightful kiddos, so I will move my focus to that and to Him and refuse to be adrift. 

Luke 1 - In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hand, Foot and What!?!?!?

We have hand foot and mouth disease.  I use "we" loosely mind you, I technically don't have it, but I'm living with it.  Turns out, it's not a British cow disease, but rather a fairly common toddler disease that looks like the plague.  The eldest has it the worst.  The other two are getting it.  It has been ONE of those weeks. 

We had almost TWO full weeks of three well toddlers.  That occurred over Thanksgiving as well, which nearly never happens as their bodies sense when events are planned and explode with illness.  However, between a very big family Thanksgiving and a two year old birthday party to attend, I KNEW someone would get something.  I just didn't know everyone would get multiple things.........agh.

The doctor's visit for my eldest on Monday gave a relatively serious prognosis - he'd contracted something akin to the little lady's nastiness a few weeks back and was put on kiddie z-pac and a breathing treatment.  He'd had a scary high fever and I was hoping this would do the trick.  By Tuesday, the baby had it.  High fevers included.  So he went on z-pac and breathing treatments.  We have to be particularly careful with him because of his asthma.  By Thursday, darling girl started running a fever.  But when we got her into the doctor (Bray and my nanny were gone so I panicked about taking 3 two year olds to the doctor alone), the doctor was more concerned by the eldest's fairly horrific rash.  Turns out, it's hand foot and mouth disease and it's going around.  While apparently it's relatively harmless, it does result in fevers, painful rashes (around the, yep you guessed it, hands feet and mouth) and sore throats.  Plus, it's highly contagious. 

So today we're on lock down in our house and backyard.  The inside of my sweet boy's mouth is covered in sores and the doctor said he even has them on his throat.  She thinks the little lady's fever is just that she's catching the lovely HFAM and we'll see break outs soon.  We're already seeing them on the baby boy.  His hands and calves have these little red dots. 

But the poor poor eldest definitely has it the worst.  Here is is showing me his boo-boos.........say a little prayer for my darling boy: