Happy New Year!

Recently, Jack began acting like a 3 year-old. What makes him "act" like a 3 year-old? The WHY question that comes from his mouth at least nineteen times every day!

"Why is it not Christmas anymore? Why are the Christmas lights gone? Why is Daddy at work today? Why do I need to brush my teeth? Why is your hair brown, Mommy? Why, why, why?"

Questions like that exude from his mouth nearly every waking moment these days.

One night last week, he had worn Daddy and I out with his questioning, so instead of answering him, we remained silent after he rattled off three or four more questions. As the silence made him nervous, he laughed and said, "I ask a lot of 'whys'."

Yes, you certainly do, Double J!

And as I look over the year 2007, I feel blessed that I have not felt the need to ask God too many 'whys'. Perhaps we all ask him 'why' every once in a while, especially when life seems particularly difficult.

But 2007 was pretty uneventful for us, and for that I am grateful. No major illnesses or injuries. No major scares. Rick's job has been strong and steady, and so has our marriage. Our boys have grown and developed as they should.

I hope that we can all go into 2008 with hopes of a year filled with love and laughter. But life will throw us some curves. I pray that I can face my life with the grace that my boys need to see coming from their mama. I pray that your new year is happy. But when it's not, trust in the Lord.

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:10

My How Time Flies

The boys and I ran into WalMart to pick up our 2008 photo calendar this morning. As I pulled the boys out of the car, my instructions were, "We are going in for one thing. And then we are going home. Let's see how fast we can get this done."

We charged hand-in-hand down an aisle that would take us to the photo center in the back of the store. We were walking at mach speed. Well, we were walking as fast as their little legs would take them, while I tried to resist the urge to pull them along.

But we came to a screeching halt when I noticed Valentine's gifts on display. Valentine's gifts!

Am I the only one disturbed by this?! Could we please get through 2007 first?!

What God Wants for Christmas

We received this interactive nativity set as an early gift this year. For seven days, we sit down as a family to a short excerpt from the story of Jesus' birth, and the boys are able to open a small gift box each day which contains one character from the nativity scene.

For example, day 1 explains that God sent Gabriel to Nazareth. The children open a box containing Gabriel and place him within the nativity scene. Day 2 is Mary. And so on.

Days 1-6 hint at day 7. This is what I really enjoy...day 7 explains that what God wants for Christmas is us!

We are enjoying this nativity set, and I highly recommend it to young families. My boys seem to be grasping a little something with each day. Our goal is for our boys to understand that Christmas is about Jesus' birth.

And on that note, I'm closing up shop until sometime after Christmas. I want to be sure to enjoy these next few days to their fullest.

I wish you and yours a merry Christmas! I pray that you understand that what God wants for Christmas is you!

Today Is A New Day

I spared you all the details yesterday, but it was a really, really, really bad day. The wise man losing his head was only a minor detail.

But today is a new day, and my spirits are as bright as the sun is shining.

Although I love cold weather, and I miss Colorado winters, there are days like today that I enjoy a balmy Texas winter day. The boys and I took their bikes out for a spin around our neighborhood pool parking lot. They love to go to this empty parking lot and drive as fast as they can. (I sit at the only entrance/exit, so don't worry that they might be in danger.)
Garrett: "Mommy, I pedal like a big boy!" Yes, Baby Boy, you are.

Liam: "I am fast!" Indeed.
Jack, what is that grin?!
Please excuse the boogers under his nose, but I had to share this photo of Jack. If you look into his lenses, you might see that he is playing with my hair. If there's one thing I love more than a back rub, it's a man playing with my hair. Well, not any man, but you know what I mean.
After our bike ride, we returned to put Jack and Garrett to bed. Liam gets to stay up an hour longer than the little boys. This allows us time for school and whatever else we can dream up to fill that hour.
After today's school work, I needed to make Candy Bar Fudge. (Yes, I am skipping over the details of this delectable dessert. If I stop to tell you about it, I may never return to this blog. Because the more I think about that yummy dessert now sitting in my refrigerator, the more my mouth waters, and it calls my name. So I must. keep. going.)
Liam loves to help me in the kitchen, so he pulled up his stool and pitched in with stirring and tasting. As we worked, this conversation took place.
Liam: Where is Jesus?
Me: He's in my heart.
Liam: I want to go see him in heaven.
Me: Well, why don't you wait for God to decide when that will happen. Let's enjoy life here on earth for now.
Liam: Do you want to go to heaven?
Me: Someday I would like to go to heaven, but I want to enjoy my life with you and your brothers and daddy for now.
Liam: Will you drive your car to heaven so you can come back home?
Whew! Theology 101 for a 4 year-old.
I needed a bite or two of Candy Bar Fudge after that discussion!
As I cleaned up the kitchen, Liam took the camera and snapped some photos.
I was his first subject. I'm pretty impressed with his ability to center my face in the photo.
I'm also really glad that I styled my hair for y'all this morning.
But I will not share the photo he took of my rear end while washing dishes. Thanks, but I'd rather not have my derriere broadcast for all the world to see. Or all ten of you that have stuck around to read this.
Um, Liam's photography skills need some work.
He decided to chase our dog with the camera.
Smile, Winston!
Wait, Winston, come back!
Still working on Photography 101.
How do you like our chords?
In the meantime, I've called Liam's name one time or ten, so he decided to return to the kitchen. And he thought a shot of my Crocs would be good for all to view.

Aren't you glad you stuck around for the tiny details of our happy day? Hope your day has been just as lovely!

You Know It's Been One of Those Days When...

...the wise man loses his head.

Doing Something Right

You know how you hear yourself through your kids' voices every once in a while? Sometimes it's the twang that Liam puts on one-syllable words, such as 'nap' which becomes 'na-yap'. Or when Jack says "Bummer" upon hearing something disappointing.

We do have our fair share of negative words around here. When Liam was about three, he went through a phase of saying an ugly word on a daily basis, and it was rather humbling to realize that he had learned most of them from my mouth.

But every once in a while, my kids will say something that makes me feel as if I must be doing something right as a mother. This happened the other day, as I went to get Garrett up from his nap.

He's always Mr. Sunshine when it's time to wake up, so I enjoy getting him up and snuggling with him for a few minutes before getting the other two. As I lifted him from his bed and snuck a kiss from his cheek, he said, "Mommy, I love you more and more."

Ahhh! My heart melted.

Bye Bye, Fingers

(The older child looking over my shoulder is Rick's cousin. I didn't want you to think there's an older son that I've never told you about. And, yes, I'm wiping my nose. I was holding my very own baby for the first time ever! If you can get past all of that, then you'll see that Liam is sucking his fingers.)

The moment I first laid my eyes on Liam, he was sucking his fingers. He has sucked the middle and ring fingers on his right hand ever since. While he was a baby, it was cute and convenient.

Knowing that it wouldn't be such a cute habit forever, I only allowed him to suck his fingers at bedtime, once he was about a year old.

Now that he's 4 1/2, the dentist wants this habit to stop altogether. Liam's future orthodontist might as well begin building his beach home in Tahiti. You're welcome, sir.
The large space between Liam's front teeth were inherited from his birth mom. But his cross bite and under bite are thanks to his fingers.

We have been talking to Liam about stopping this habit since October, and he really wants to quit. Recently, he has done well with falling asleep without his beloved fingers, but we still find them in his mouth during his deeper sleep.

Following the dentist's orders, we'll begin using this tonight:
I'm expecting some tears and some bad dreams. I don't think this will be a good week to drop my morning Diet Coke. Wish us well!

The Wonder Years

Do you ever have a moment with your kids that takes you back to their younger years? Like a deja vu?

Liam and I took a break from school one afternoon last week to enjoy the mild weather. We played a game of one-on-one soccer. As I was chasing him around our yard, he let out a giggle that took me right back to his toddler days.

Although he's only four, his laugh has matured since he was a toddler. The 4 year-old laugh still holds all the joy and delight that it should, but his toddler laugh was too cute. It was a squeal as much as anything.

As he let out a squealy giggle during our soccer game, I had a flashback of the time he discovered the horn in Rick's car at the age of 15 months. Each time he honked the horn, he squealed out of pure delight and grinned from ear to ear.

Although I look forward to Liam's future, I do miss his younger days. I guess that's the point of motherhood.

At the end of our game, we plopped down on the porch and hugged. It was a Kodak moment, but I didn't interrupt the lovin' to fetch the camera.

Liam quickly brought me back to the present with this question: "Mommy, will you cry when I turn 5?"

Yes, I imagine I will.

Santa's Not Real

We've never made a big deal out of Santa. We stop to get our picture taken with the bearded man nearly every year. But we've never said, "Go tell Santa what you want." We've always told the boys that their gifts come from us instead of the man in the red suit.

Partly because we want them to remember the real reason for the season. But mostly because we want all the credit for the gifts. I'm kidding. Sort of.

Early in our parenting, we decided that we would never make a big deal out of Santa, because we felt silly telling our kids to believe in something that isn't true. For those families that present Santa as real, that's fine and dandy. No harsh feelings from me.

But just a couple of weeks ago, Jack was squealing, "Santa is coming and bringing me presents!" I looked at him in utter confusion, wondering how in the world he conjured up this idea, when we've always said the gifts come from us.

As he jumped up and down announcing Santa's upcoming arrival, I simply said, "Jack, Santa is not real." He quickly came down from cloud nine and said, "OH!"

Since that day, every Santa he sees in the neighbors' yards or in the stores, he proudly proclaims, "Santa's not real!" It's as if he feels privileged to be aware of something that most two year-olds don't know.

I know that the day is coming when a parent will slug me in the middle of Target as a result of my boys ruining their kids' Christmas. But I'm all about the truth.

Today was a close call on this topic. The boys and I went to see "Frosty" at Casa Manana this morning. A fun time was had by all.

The best part was when Santa entered the last scene. Most children were screaming, "Santa! Hi, Santa! Santa!"

My children screamed, "Santa's not real!"

I teach them well.

What about you? Will you be the parent who slaps me for instilling the truth so early? Or do you downplay the whole ordeal, as well? Or do you go all out while your kids are young?

The Little Giant

I took Jack (2 1/2) grocery shopping with me the other night. Daddy is convinced that grocery shopping is great one-on-one time for the boys to enjoy with me. I am not so convinced after I hear, "Mommy will you buy this for me?" two hundred fifty-nine times, all the while pushing a two-ton cart.

Here is the conversation that took place on our way home with the groceries:
Jack: Mommy, I am bigger than Liam and Lucy (his 7 year-old cousin)?
Me: No, baby, you're smaller.
J: No, I am not a baby anymore. I'm a big boy! I'm getting bigger and bigger.
M: Yes, you're getting bigger, but Liam and Lucy are still older and bigger.
J: No, I'm bigger. I'm a GIANT! [enter evil laugh]
M: You're funny!
J: [still laughing] You will tell Daddy that one? I'm funny!
M: Yep, I'll tell Daddy that funny one.

The Little Giant could use some prayers. I took him to the doctor this morning, after he woke up with colorful congestion and a slight fever. He was diagnosed with an ear infection, sinus infection, and strep throat. Poor kid!

An Eye-Opener

When Liam is excited about something, he often lavishes his love on me. It's not at all uncommon for him to stop an exciting activity to kiss me and say "I do love you." He's a very affectionate boy at all times, and I'm quite blessed by it.

As we were working on his handwriting curriculum today, he stopped to give me some love. He then said, "I like this book. Where did you buy it?" I'm sure he was thinking I'd say it came from Wal Mart, Target or Kroger, the only stores in his four year-old mind. In trying to keep my answer simple, I said, "I bought it on the computer."

He looked at me with shock and utter amazement. "You buyed that on the computer?!"

But really, that wasn't the simple answer. Because that statement took something from me. The innocence of my four year-old child was lost to the wisdom of the wide world web in that very instant. There was a literal transformation that took place. He went from a child who thought everything comes from super stores to a young man who understands that anything can be bought by the click of the computer.

I may be in trouble. I will be sure to not inform him of those nasty things called "credit cards".

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Big Daddy (my dad) picked Jack up on Saturday for a few hours of one-on-one time. I knew that the plan was to shop for Didi (my mom) and to eat lunch.

When Jack came home, he was carrying this:

This pig's nose lights up and makes a wicked snorting sound.

(Incidentally, I did not take the time to take a picture of this little piggy. I merely typed "pig + key chain" in my Yahoo search engine, and it was #3 out of thousands of such hits. Thousands! People, really, there are better hobbies in this world besides that of collecting pig key chains.)

But I digress.

Jack carried this pig around all weekend. The only time he put it down was to use the restroom, and that is because I have this rule of no toys allowed in the bathroom. I may be a mean mama, but I really don't want to fish for toys out of a murky toilet. Shutter.

When he dropped the piggy to go potty, someone else picked it up. This poor pig is mighty tired after all the oinks and lights required of him by three little boys. I wish he would hitch a ride to market or someone's home. Any takers?

On our way home from church yesterday, Rick and I began asking Jack where he and Big Daddy shopped. He said, "Wal Mart and Cabela's." Okay, that doesn't help me. Those two stores allow a shopper to buy a sundry of items...kitchen appliances, electronics, ugly clothing, fishing gear, pig key chains, etc. We pushed him a little further, and he finally agreed to tell us what my mom will be getting for Christmas..."a blue boat in a white box."

That really doesn't help me. A gravy boat? Dad, please tell me you were a little more creative than that. A ski boat? That would be a great family gift, but I'm certain my dad wasn't shopping for anything that large this year.

I pushed Jack a little further at breakfast this morning. And he really cleared it up with this: "It's a secwet."

I'll push a little further, Mom, to see if we can clear this up. In the meantime, don't be surprised if you find a little pig key chain in your stocking.