Saturday, September 29, 2012

Delivery Day 1-25-11

Delivery Day

It seems as though I were just sitting in this chair writing a very similiar blog. And yet, that was almost 4 years ago, the night before we met Noah Grant. Now here I sit, in the same chair in a totally different season, on the verge of meeting our third child. Ten long months of pregnancy come to a close tomorrow.
The boys are so excited. Even more excited than I anticipated...they can't wait to meet their baby! They have no idea just how much their lives will change tomorrow and I am excited for them because, I know. I know the gift that these boys will get tomorrow when they meet their sibling. I can see them all playing together and laughing and growing together. And the picture is beautiful.
It is still so amazing to me how much we can love our children, and how much our heart instantly grows to love another in a single instant. Tomorrow will hold that instant for us...and we praise God for the gift that He has given us.

Some Randoms 1-3-11

Some Randoms

In keeping with my promise to try to blog I am and it has only been a little over a week! Hooray! We will see how long I can keep this up! I do NOT feel like sitting here and blogging, I can tell you that! I am so insatiably thirsty today...and thus peeing every other second. I feel SO full of liquid that all I want to do is curl up in my bed and sleep to get this feeling gone. Okay, so maybe I am super full of liquid and pizza. I took Noah to Target today and he was such a good boy that I bought him and I a pizza and breadsticks to share. He loved it. I loved it. And lunch was done. I am all about ease these days.
Many have asked about how far along we are, if we know what we are having, etc. Here are the stats. I will be 36 weeks on Wednesday. I had Landon at 38. I am desperately hoping to follow suit with this one. We DO know what we are having, as do our closest family and friends. But we kept the secret from the rest of the world. We have our me . Very soon will come the big reveal!
My beautiful niece, Journey Raelyn was born on December 24, 2010. I was unable to be there for her birth bc I had kids who were tossing their cookies. She had a few complications at birth, but as of Dec 31, she and her beautiful mama and daddy made their way home. She is gorgeous and practically perfect in every way .
I am busy nesting as much as I can amidst a myriad of other things. I have so many projects and things to clean and sort and get rid of, but my energy only lasts so long these does the period of time when I don't feel like tossing my own cookies. Throw in there the fact that I am working until I go into labor...and you get one tired mama. I have this week off from teaching, but the new semester dawns next week and I have much to prepare for. I am excited though...I still love teaching and counseling. Speaking of counseling...I have an announcement about that too...but it shall have to wait as I have yet to talk to my fellow coworkers about the changes to come.
And with that I will now float away on the ocean of liquids that I have consumed today... 

Home Sweet Home 12-26-12

Home Sweet Home

IMG_1793After taking quite some time off from the blogging world, I am back! I can't promise regular blog entries, but hopefully there won't be anymore two to three month hiatus's. I am still in process of switching blogs as well...but am not quite ready to fully make the switch. I will get there. All in due time, right?

We are home for Christmas. Home as in, residing in the house I was born into. I have been looking so forward to coming here for a few days. The days and weeks leading up to Christmas were so very busy and filled with unexpected struggles. Each day, for quite some time, has felt like a daily hill to climb, and when I fall into bed at night I just thank the Lord that I made it through another day, and have one day less to be pregnant. I am so thankful for a healthy baby...but the nausea is daunting and there is no rhyme or reason to it. While I try to be the mom my kids need and the teacher my students need and the wife my husband needs and the friend my friends deserve...I find myself relieved to fall into bed at night where for at least a few hours, I can rest in oblivion and feel nothing. We are in the home stretch and I am so thankful for that. I have about 4 or 5 more weeks to go until this baby will be make its appearance. I can't wait for food to taste normal again and to make it through a day without battling vomit. I long to have more energy and to have some semblance of order in my life. But I am not complaining. We have a healthy, beautiful baby growing inside of my womb. We are abundantly grateful.

But being home is like finding some sort of respite from the chaos. No schedule. No demands. No expectations. My sister made my mom and dad a calendar for Christmas. She put a picture of their front door on the cover with this quote, "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. I long to be at home wherever I find myself." My parent's front door is quite simple. They have an old fashioned screen door that to many may appear worn and old. The kitchen hasn't been remodeled since they bought this house before I was born. It is as clean as can be, however, not beautiful by today's standards. But it holds almost 30 years of my memories...I know every nook and cranny and every bit of the faded linoleum. The dining table is just as old as the kitchen, but its where my parents had their first meal with Jonathan and it is where I hit my chin when I refused to eat my peas when I was 5 and fell off my chair. If you dropped in on Christmas Eve you would probably think it was busy and chaotic. But to us, it is homey and comfortable. We sit around wrapping presents and baking and listening to music and frosting cookies. We have a beautiful Christmas morning together. Probably my favorite part of Christmas. My parents then host about 30-40 people for Christmas dinner. They make about 99% of the food and you can imagine the work that entails. There are tables in almost every room. We have had homeless stragglers and family friends and friends of friends who don't have anywhere else to go. My mom always finds at least one gift for everyone who comes...even if someone just shows up. She is magical like that. Then they all leave and we clean up for hours. As much as we kids lament the work and the time my parents have to pour into the entire process, it is our family process. And it is a lesson to us if we dare to uncover it. A lesson of self sacrifice and servanthood. A lesson of sacrifice and joy. 

The days after Christmas were my favorite as a child. It was the one week of the year where my parents didn't work. This freed us up to go to a movie as a family and play games and many nights we would have family friends over and my parents would actually sit and relax for a few minutes. We would laugh and time would stand still. It still kind of does. This picture of my parents' living room explains, without words, why we love this place so much. 

I love that I have a place to call home. That my mom and dad still welcome us with big hugs, even if we saw them two days ago. I love that my dad always walks us out and they both stand in the driveway and wave as we drive down the road. It sounds like a fairy tale. In truth, we are just like every family. We have had our struggles, trust me. We have faced pain and triumph. We have persevered. And in the end...we always have a place to come...HOME. 

I pray that Jon and I can create this same place for our children. A sense of togetherness and acceptance and wisdom and hope and love. I love that when we get home after we have been gone awhile, Landon comments on how much he missed the smell of our house or the way his room feels. I love it that home is a place he loves. May it always be that way.

Support 10-6-10

Support...what it means and what it does

I have gotten some flack for neglecting my blog. I have internal anxiety for neglecting my blog. I like to write and I really enjoy blogging, but life has seasons and this season just isn't conducive to the old days of blogging. Maybe next season? It really doesn't help that being on the computer makes me throw up. I am not kidding. So I am on here as little as possible, which means the work stacks up and up. But that is another story for another day.
I have hit a rough patch. In life that is. I am not going to candy coat it or spiritualize it. I am just saying...I am in a rough patch. Multiple things have happened and I find myself thinking things I would never ordinarily think and feeling things I don't want to ever come out of my mouth. I will get through it...not around it, but through it. But for now, I am here and I am trying to learn what I need to learn and not push myself head long through this thorny, rough patch in life. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race...I don't usually go slow and steady. But the little bit of energy I have to muster, demands slow and steady this time, and that is ok.
I appreciate openness and genuiness and I usually share more than I probably need to on here or more than you care to know, but this time the details are just too close to my heart for now. But I want to share with you how loved I have felt these past weeks. Those closest to me know bits and pieces of my heart. Some know more than I ever knew they knew...just bc they know me so well I guess. I was talking to my cousin Jess on the phone and I was telling her that I was ok (bc at that moment I felt ok) and she very pointedly said to me, "Kristen, you are not ok. Don't say you are ok to me bc I know you aren't ok." Her saying that gave me the persmission I guess I needed to be real with myself and her. She let me know that it was ok not to be ok. Friday night I went out with two of my bff's from high school. We do this every now and again and always have a great time. I had NO intention of talking about my heart on this night. But they eased in on coming with a card that had the most perfect words in it...and they didn't even know the fullness of my heart. But they knew me well enough without my having to share. I cried...hard...that night. In a restaurant...yeah it was super great. But soon after I cried the ugly tears, they had me laughing so hard that I was crying tears of joy. And other, further removed friends and family members of mine have sent me emails or fb messages just saying that I was on their mind or their heart or protecting me in their own ways. Some don't have any idea what is going on. But they know me well enough to love me where I am, without ever even asking for details or explanations or answers. Becuase I don't have any answers right now. 
On Saturday we went to a Breast Cancer Fundraiser for a woman in our community. Her and her husband are in their mid-thrties and have three young children. Lots of people came out to support them, and as I looked around at the people, I thought what it must feel like to have so many strangers come to an event just to support you. To love you. To help you. I have to be honest. I don't like asking for help and I much prefer to be the strong one than the one who is struggling. I am not comfortable in this spot. I have been here before, although a little different and usually I seek isolation. I don't like people to see my weakness...bc in most areas of my life people expect me to be strong. I like being strong. But I am realizing, and especially Saturday as I looked around at all of those strangers coming together to support one woman, that in our weakness, we can be made strong. We are promised that in the Bible. While I can't say that I have been feeling God's close presence in this rough spot, I can say that I have felt strengthened by the friends that He has blessed me with. Friends who have known me for my entire life. Friends who know me without words. My neighbor and wonderful friend has made us dinners numerous nights. She has taken my kids when I have been too sick to care for them. She has done crazy helpful chores in my house when I am gone just to help with a tangible area of my life, so that I can deal with the intangible. They have acted as family in so many ways...more ways than I could ever recount for you..and so much of me feels so unworthy of their kindness. These people have taught us and illustrated for us what God's love is all about. I don't have much to give these days. I will one day, but for now...I just don't. But they love me anyway. Isn't that what unconditional love is? How many people are blessed enough to get to experience that from family, let alone friends and neighbors? I feel so blessed and cared for and loved. And while my natural inclinatin is still to hide and to be isolated in my ugly roughness. They are pulling me out...letting me know that even in all of my ugliness, I am still accepted and loved. When I came home Friday night, I came in the door and my eyes welled up with tears as I met Jon in the stairway and told him about my night. I just kept saying...I have such wonderful friends. And I do. And I am so thankful for each of you. Whether you know where I am or not. I am just so thankful for the support and love of friends. True friends...which are so hard to come by.
I am not comfortable on the receiving end. But through this I am learning that perhaps I am not comfortable here bc I don't feel worthy. I only feel worthy or ok if I am the one giving. I think giving is way more gratifying than getting. But through this experience these dear people are teaching me a foundational lesson that I dont think I have yet learned in my 29 years of living. I am acceptable...not only when I am strong and productive and helpful and wise and good. But even in my ugliness. Even with my rough edges and unbelief. This is a pretty basic that I try to teach others. But experience is by far the best educator.
I don't want to stay here long. That is why I say I am ok, and go through each day with the necessary vigor. But if you strip it away, underneath, at least for now, I am not ok. And I am so thankful that these dear people are teaching me how to support and love, expecting nothing ever in return. I can't wait to pour what they have given me onto them and you and anyone else I should ever have a chance to.
I hope to be back on here with some light hearted stories of my beautiful kiddos or some tid bits of strength really soon  But until then, thank you for loving me and accepting me where I am. Wherever that may be.

Vacations 8-17-10

IMG_3169IMG_3171We have had a lot of family fun this spite of my being pregnant and not feeling oh-so-hot. In the beginning of the summer when I found out I was pregnant I prayed that the sickness wouldn't be as bad as it was with the boys bc the boys treasure the summer and all of our normal summer activities...and I didn't want to rob them of a summer. I certainly wasn't at normal speed or enthusiasm...but for the most part we trudged on and made it all happen.
In mid-July we had planned on going camping with Jonathan's entire family up north. It was a rustic, gorgeous place right on Lake Michigan, but they didn't have toilets or running water and I was too afraid I couldn't manage the nausea without those two things, so Jon and Landon went without me and Noah. They had an awesome time and Noah and I went to my Gram's and spent some time with her. We will all probably make the trek next year...from what I hear it was just gorgeous!
IMG_3204IMG_3213The following weekend we had planned a camping trip with our neighbors/friends near Michigan Adventure Amusement Park. We left right after I got out of work on Thursday, and went into the park all day on Friday. The kids LOVED it. Even Noah went on the roller coasters, all that he was able to being 40 inches and all. We then spent two more days camping...going to the play ground, enjoying the pool, making smores, and eating all of the yummy meals that Jonathan cooked over the open fire. We had such a great time.
Then last week we went on our year long planned 8 day trip to Florida. My mom has a Tupperware convention down there in the summer and this year it was on Disney property...we got to stay at the Contemporary Resort. It was awesome. The monorail went right through our hotel...there was an awesome splash park and pool with a water slide, and we had an 11th floor room overlooking the pool and lagoon. We got to see a light show every night and if we placed ourselves just right we could see the fireworks every night too. We didn't have a car this time so our time with my sisters and nieces/nephews was more limited, but we did get to go to Katelyn's birthday party on Sunday and on Saturday we had dinner and played at the pool for hours. Jon's sisters family just moved to Orlando too so we got to see her and the kids a few days as well. We got these amazing 4 day passes so we did lots of amusement parks...Magic Kingdom twice, Animal IMG_3173Kingdom and Blizzard Beach. I opted out of the water park as I needed a day to recoup, but the boys just kept going and going...drinking it all in. Noah rode Thunder Mountain and proclaimed Splash Mountain as his favorite. Landon loved Mount Everest at Animal Kingdom. We went with my mom and dad and sister and her boyfriend...we had a great time together. It was so nice to just get away and unplug for awhile. My phone barely rang and I wasn't online at was nice to just focus on my family. The night we got back (Sunday) Noah tripped on a toy and hit his head on the corner of the wall. Off to the ER we went and a few staples later we were on our way home. An abrupt end to the vacation, let me tell you! 
And here we are now, three weeks away from school starting. The summer went by so quickly and I feel a sense of accomplishment in having made it through. I can't really take any credit; I honestly feel like I was spared from the awful sickness I had both times previously. Yes, I threw up. Yes, I didn't feel good. Yes, I still yearn for the day when I can make it through an entire day without nausea and WITH energy...but it just wasn't the same calibur as it was the last two times and I am SO SO SO thankful.
Speaking of the baby, I can now feel it moving and grooving all around in my belly. I have thought for weeks now that I have felt it, but there is no question anymore...I am feeling definitive kicks and punches  This is my favorite part of pregnancy...feeling life inside. As much as I dont' love being pregnant for obvious reasons, feeling the baby move is something I will miss very much when we decide that we are all done having kids.
I am finishing up my work with Well of Grace and my counseling hours in the next three weeks. The day after Labor Day, classes pick back up and I am really looking forward to teaching again! I will still counsel, but this summer I counseled a lot and during the school year I have to cut back my hours. I can't wait to get back into the classroom!
We did a lot of normal summer stuff too...slip n slides, bikes, beach, sitting outside in the evenings. It was a gorgeous summer. I can hardly bring myself to admit that Landon will be in school full time in just 3 weeks...
IMG_3255 IMG_3261 IMG_3288 IMG_3291 IMG_3296 IMG_3298

In Avoidance 7-12-10

In Avoidance...

I guess I should stop neglecting my blog. I still love to write. Sometimes I don't know what to write about. Sometimes I dont want to write what I feel with SO many people. But lately, most of the time, I just feel too crummy to write. I don't mean to complain. This pregnancy has still by far been my easiest, but nausea is nausea...and well, in the moments when I feel decent, I am trying know, clean up the dripping food off my counter or put away the 400 toys scattered around my house from all of the times I felt crappy. So my blog was left empty for awhile, again.
I do want to document this pregnancy, but so far there isn't all that much to report. I am almost 11 weeks and just barely showing. I can still fit into  my old clothes, but feel more comfy in maternity clothes. I am sick some days, and not too bad others. The sickness tends to come and go throughout the day whereas with the other two it was like a heavy blanket ALWAYS upon me. I have had strong drink aversions with this baby and have currently settled into drinking orange pineapple juice and unsweetened ice tea. Nothing else will do. But I have already cycled through a Sprite week and a Coke two week (dont ever mention those sodas to me again). Food aversions aren't too bad...just not really into ground meat of any kind or anything with a strong after taste. I have been tired A LOT lately, but often fight insomnia at night with this kiddo, so naptime has become my best friend. I felt Noah move at 11 weeks, but so far nothing with this one. I feel rather disconnected from this pregnancy so far. I dont know if it is just the speed at which time is going by or that I am spending all my time and energy (what little there is) on life (kids, house, work, etc). I wanted to cherish this pregnancy in the event that it is the last one, but I can't help but keep wishing myself a little further along. I am just so ready to be me again. I am tired of feeling exhausted and energy-less from the moment I wake up...and I am tired of having to think about and plan what to eat or drink way ahead of time. I am tired of feeling like I am barely treading water...but I know this too shall pass. And I know how bad this could be...and it is not anywhere near that bad, so really...I have nothing to complain about. I think this pregnancy has been more like what normal people experience...normal first trimester nausea. I have come to the conclusion that different pregnancies don't mean different genders, but I am still curious. Were you more sick with your son or your daughter?
GrandparentsAnother reason for avoiding the blog: my grandpa passed away a little over a week ago. I usually like words and am good at putting what I feel and experience into words. But this time I can't find the words. I was going to give him a tribute at his funeral and for the first time ever, I couldn't. But I have exprienced a lot over the past 1.5 weeks. My brother came in from CA, and was here for the funeral. I have snapshots in my mind of our time together as a family. Hugs at the viewing. Huddles at the gravesite. Half-circles of people who love eachother and loved Grandpa. And my Grandma...I dont even know where to begin. They have been married for 65 years...she hasn't been alone since she was 17 years old. The day Grandpa died...I have never seen Gram like that before. She is kind of like the cornerstone of our family, so to see her in such grief was just absolutely agonizing. I was with her most of that day. But to see her just a few days later, walking through the viewing and funeral....a picture of grace. She has prayed and prayed and prayed and told me that the only way for her to survive would be for God to take over. And just as always, her life has been a picture of the presence of God. I guess that is what happens when you open yourself up to the power of God and realize that you are powerless in and of yourself. She still needs our prayers and encouragement...but she is more beautiful than ever. And while I thought she was so strong before...I now know that she is truly the strongest woman...a woman I long to be like in nearly every way.
And now I think I am caught least on the important things. 

A Few of the Things 6-19-10

A Few of the Things..

 IMG_3138 A few of the things I love about the father that my husband is:
 ~ I love that we have a picture of seconds after Landon was born where the doctor had just laid him on my belly and Jonathan's eyes meet Landons for the first time and Jon is visibly shaken. I can't look at the picture without getting tears in my eyes.
~ I love that Jonathan plays monster on the floor with the kids, allowing them to kill him with a sword, wrestle him to the ground, and beat him with couch cushions 400 million times.
~ I love when Jon "rewards" the kids with junk food bc I am not around and it is their special thing.
~ I love when he prays with the boys
~ I love how he tells me cute things the kids did while I was gone
~ I love how when I have to leave occasionally for days on end, when I come home he seems to have a new appreciation for what being a mother entails.
~ I love how well he takes care of our children, and how I can trust him with their care...implicitly.
~ I love that he was just as excited when I told him he was a daddy a third time as he was the first time I ever said those words...maybe even MORE excited.
~ I love that he longs for the same things I long for regarding our children
~I love that he teaches the boys about wood working and camping and sports and boy stuff. And gets excited about taking them to boy movies.
~ I love that he loves our children and would lay his life down at any moment for that of our three children.
Happy Father's Day, Honey! Thanks for holding my hair back while I puked, and cooking dinner for months on end when I am pregnant, and for stepping up and growing up in so many ways over the past 7 years of our parenting journey. You are incredible.

I have a Story 6-14-10

I have been gone awhile...huh. Well I am back, and with a good story to boot.
Awhile back I put as one of my status updates on facebook that I had the privelege of watching first hand as obedience turned into blessing for someone very dear to me. I couldn't say anything for many weeks, but my cousin (more like a sister to me) Jess is finally pregnant! They have gone through years of infertility and pregnancy loss and have tried almost everything in the book. About a year ago, they felt called to stop medical treatment for infertility and to just trust that God would supply a child for them. They didn't feel that everyone who is struggling with infertility should do this, just that God was calling them on a personal journey of trust. To be honest, the night Jess told me that they were stopping everything, I cried. I feared that she would never get to feel a baby kicking in her womb. But I tried to be supportive and I certainly prayed my guts out. They stopped everything. One year later, 12 more months of negative pregnancy tests...and they finally got a positive. But there were many months in between that her and I sat on the phone and inevitably ended up in tears. Last fall I was just sure I was pregnant and I called to tell her that I had begged God to give her a child first because it hurt to think about being pregnang with my third while she was still waiting for her first. She was so amazing...encouraging me and uplifting me inspite of the fact that I thought I was pregnant and she knew she wasn't. But alas, I wasn't pregnant either. But I kept praying...that Jess would get pregnant before I and that we could travel this pregnancy journey together.
In mid-april Jess asked me to stop by her house as she had some things for my boys. I knew way before I got there what she really had. And sure enough...she had a card with a date in December for me. Her due date. Elated, grateful, overwhelmed with name it, I felt it. And we had peace. Her faith is so amazing, I just have to tell you. She was not afraid of miscarriage...even though she had endured it before. It is as though she knew in her heart that God was going to give them this baby for good. And I knew I wasn't pregnant. We had been trying some months more than others, for almost a year at this point. But getting Jess' news was almost like God whispering to me..."I am into the details." "I knit a child together in the womb...I know every hair and every eye lash...I am capable and loving and good." "Be patient."
A few weeks back at my Grandparent's 65th anniversary party, Jess and I wanted to honor them with a tribute. My grandma, specifically, is one of the most amazing people anyone would have the opportunity to meet. I would like to share the tribute with you:
Eveline grew up in Nottingham, England. She was the picture of beauty…everything any man could ever want in a young woman. At the young age of 17 she was known around town as gorgeous…but also as upright and good, kind and fun. She had an amazing sense of adventure about her, and her sense of humor matched perfectly. It is no surprise then, when American soldier, Raymond Struble met her that he asked her to marry him the very first date they ever went on. She happened to say no. At least that night. But he was ever so persistent. She was quite the catch, and as they spent more time together, Ray noticed that. In fact, he was currently engaged to a woman here in the states. But after he met and got to know Lynn, he had to break off his engagement and ask Lynn to marry him for real…or maybe it was the other way around…he asked Lynn to marry him and THEN he broke off his engagement .
            They were married a very short time later, on May the 28th, 1945, by Vicor Marshall at 10am. Grandpa can’t remember much these days, but that date and time are some of the only facts he can still consistently remember every time you ask him. I think that speaks to the fact that he knows that was the best decision of his life, and the best day of his life.
            Because Ray was still in the army at the time of their wedding, he was sent back to the States and Grandma could not follow for one year. So the first year of their marriage they were separated by an ocean. But eventually she was able to get her residency and she boarded a giant army boat and sailed across the Atlantic by herself…and did I mention that she was barely 18 years old?
            There are many stories of the early years of their marriage. One of the most infamous has to do with Grandma learning the differences between British English and American English. One day when Ray (a bus driver at that point) drove his bus by their house, Grandma ran out to wave at him. He waved back and honked his horn. Except in British English the words were a little different. So when Grandma excitedly ran back into the house to exclaim to Ray’s sister and mother what Ray had done, she said this: “Ray papped his hooter at me! Ray papped his hooter!” Mom and sister stared at her like she was from another planet and then began laughing so hard that they were crying. Grandma has changed much of her accent but she still has bits and pieces of it after all these years…and I think all of us have fallen in love with the way that she talks.
            Ray and Lynn went on to have 6 children. Grandpa likes to tell everyone that they had FIVE boys and one girl! It is true…the male genes run strong in this family! Rodney, Vern, Sally, Dennis, Collin and Travis grew up in this very house and went to that school right back there. They have a million and one stories of dogs and ponies and the pool that they can share with you if you ask them. But life was not without tragedy for this family. When Vern was only 18 he was in a car accident that took his life. While many couples don’t make it through a grief like that, Ray and Lynn did. They still regularly go to his grave site to honor him with words and flowers. And still to this day Grandma can’t voice his name without tears filling her eyes. The woman loves her children. And pours herself out for them. They all know that, even now. A better mother, who could find? Grandma always said that of her mom. And my mom (Sally) always says that of her mom. And I now say it of my mom. There is certainly a legacy of love and devotion in the mother that Lynn has been.
            The years passed quickly, as they always do. Before they knew it, grandkids started rolling into their lives. They were active grandparents, loving their grandkids to the greatest degree. I know for me, I could share with you a million and one memories of playing school with Grandma, having tea time, talks we have shared over warm milk and cornflakes. For my sister, she has fond memories of grandma chasing after her around the kitchen on a broom stick pretending to be the wicked witch and always letting Brenn be the good witch. I remember when she would drive Jess and I to preschool we used to play this silly game where she would tell us that she forgot her head or her keys or even her car. And Grandpa, he was the kind of grandpa that was just stable to be by. We always knew that he loved us. He worked so hard to keep his pool clean for us to swim in each summer, and you could see the joy in his eyes that it brought him to hear us playing in there summer after summer after summer. In fact, just the other day I told him that my son learned to swim in his pool last summer and it still brought tears to Grandpa’s eyes.
            They are incredible individuals, but it is their loves story that is most inspiring. Last year on my 7th wedding anniversary I received a call in the morning that Grandpa had had a heart attack. Usually my mom is right here…taking care of them to the slightest need. But this day she was on a plane coming back from a work function in Florida. So I tried to step in for her. I spent my anniversary in the hospital while my husband stayed home with our children...and you many ways, it was the best anniversary gift I have ever been given…because I witnessed something absolutely awe-inspiring that day. I have always been in awe of how my grandma loves my grandpa, but that day I got to see that love become tangible once again. The way she tucked him in, the way she fed him, worried about him, talked to him, wiped his tears. But the most precious conversation of the day went something like this: Grandma said, "Ray, you are being awfully quiet, what are you thinking about?" Grandpa, looking at her lovingly, said: "You, dear, I am thinking about you."
Grandpa was in and out of lucid thought all day. He was doing pretty well that afternoon, and then around dinner time he seemed to take a little dip back down, at least mentally. But somewhere in the midst of it, he had the clarity of mind to love her the only way he could at that moment, by letting her know that even though he can’t always show it or even vocalize it anymore, she still consumes his mind and his thoughts and his senses.
  Love goes through seasons. Seasons of marriage…new love, responsibility, children, letting children go, retirement, and late life. It changes and grows deeper and deeper until when you look at a couple such as my grandparents, who have been married for 65 years, and you have to wonder how one will ever survive without the other. The love is so deeply strong that it can face any storm. So SELFLESS that nothing, absolutely nothing can destroy it. They have taught me the strength of a marriage vow: forgiveness, reconciliation, persistence, perseverance, FAITHFULNESS.
I have much to learn from them. And if they could get to this place, this beautiful self-sacrificing place of true love...then we can to. I am talking about deep, true, strong, selfless, pure, gentle, LOVE. After that heart attack incident, my grandparents set a goal for themselves: May 28, 2010. It will mark their 65th year of marriage.  Last year, when they set this goal, Grandpa was 86, and undoubtedly weakening...and his mind has continued to deteriorate. But his heart is still there, and in the moments that everything works together just right...he can still look at her lovingly and say, "I am thinking of you, my dear."
And that makes everything worth it. Everything.
Grandma has taught us so much of what it means to be faithful and to never, ever lose hope. She has thaught us the importance of prayer and of listening to God’s leading. She has reminded us so many times of how God intended our faith to be like that of a child. She has lived that faith. Last weekend Grandma told me that she has been praying for Jessica and Dan every day. She told me with surety that God was going to supply something. To the world that may seem like nonsense, to speak with such certainty when a woman’s heart is at stake. Grandma knows how Jessica and Dan have longed for a child. How they have tried for years and ultimately, have chosen to step back and trust that God would give them the gift of a child if He chose, with no more medical or scientific help. A big leap of faith. A year has gone by. What Grandma didn’t know when she shared with me a week ago with such certainty that God was going to supply a child for Jess and Dan, is that He already HAS.
Grandma  and Grandpa…we honor you today by introducing you to your 11th great grandchild, due December 15, 2010. Jess is already 12 weeks pregnant with this miracle baby!

And since God is into the details, He didn't stop there.  Grandma knows how Kristen and I have grown up more as sisters than cousins. So we honor you today not only with the news that your 11th great grandchild is on the way…but your 12th too! Kristen and I get to share this pregnancy journey together as Jonathan and Kristen are also having a baby in February!!

So there you have story. We are 7 weeks pregnant (and Jess is 13) and thrilled! I go tomorrow for an ultrasound and can't wait to see a little heartbeat fluttering away in there. And one more thing for the record: last time I was pregnant with Noah, two of my sisters were also pregnant. We were all due about 4-5 months of eachother, but we were all pregnant together. We had so hoped to accomplish that again....and I am pleased to say that I was pregnant for the final week of my sister Jen's pregnancy. So, in essence, we were all pregnant together again...and just didn't know...and all spaced the same 4-5 months apart. Crazy!
We are so so so thankful that our family of four, is becoming a family of five!

My Joy Boy Turns Three 5-11-10

My Joy Boy Turns Three

Lets be honest. Because I always try to be honest, but the truth is that some things just aren't talked about (and it should probably remain that way on some topics) for numerous reasons...too personal, too close to one's heart, too controversial, too...the list could go on and on. Well, there was something I never told you guys about Noah. See, about 3 years and nine months ago when I got pregnant with him...I realllllyyyy wanted him to be a girl. There...I said it. In fact, I was nearly certain that he was. I had prayed for a daughter and I felt like God was going to grant us one. And since Jon has all sisters, I figured we were due anyway. So for the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy I had visions of my daughter swirling through my head. I didn't allow myself to buy anything for her, aside from a gift idea that I bought to tell my grandma about her new great-granddaughter, but as soon as I got the confirmation from the ultrasound...I had a million and one ideas in my mind. Except I never got that confirmation...bc as much as my gut instinct told me that I was carrying a daughter, I was in fact, carrying our second son...our Noah. Since I am being so honest, I will admit that I shed a few tears. Here is the controversial part. I know how much people want children, neither sex being preferred...they just want healthy children. I know that I should have been over the moon just to have a healthy baby (and I was!!!). But if you want honesty than I have to admit that I was shocked and confused and...dare I say it, disappointed! WOW. That sounds so awful. Heap guilty upon the sad feeling and there I was. Part of the problem was that I had built it up in my mind. I was so sure he was a was like when she said it is a boy...I lost this imaginary relationship with an imaginary daughter that I have no guarantee of ever meeting. I will leave it there, since you are all probably totally horrified by my admission  And..well...some things are just too close to my heart to really expound upon any further.
The reason I tell you this today is simple. I thought I knew what I needed. I thought I knew what this family needed. And I thought that was a daughter for Jonathan and I and a little sister for Landon. But I was wrong. That was what I wanted, but not what we needed. We needed Noah. Jonathan and I have encountered some serious life stuff in the past few months and have really been questioning how deeply God is involved in the details. You everything programmed, how does free will fit in, that stuff. When it comes down to it, and especially when dealing with the creation of life, I have to say that God is into the details. That not just some random egg and sperm unite to make some random child. I believe God chooses the right egg and the right sperm to make THE child, not A child...THE child. The ins and outs of all of that can be debated, but here I stand. Firmly...because I have experienced this first hand...and for as much as I wanted a daughter three years ago, I didn't need one. At least not then. We needed Noah.
Yesterday I was out and about with the boys and some random stranger man was watching Noah and said to me, "That boy loves life doesn't he?" People often say this about Noah, and it is true. After a short while of being sad over losing the idea of a daughter, God whispered to my soul that Noah would bring this family joy...abundant joy. I started calling him my Joy Boy even in my womb. God has fulfilled that promise in our son. Landon desperately needed Noah...a brother, and a laid-back-love-life kind of brother. Someone he can joke with and play with and learn to laugh with. And if he has brought this much joy in only three years of life, I can only imagine what is in store! My mom and I were talking this past weekend about any other children Jonathan and I might have one day, and we got on this topic of what happened with Noah (bc my mama is one of the few that know my heart regarding this whole daughter thing). And I said..."We needed Noah"  to which she replied..."We all needed Noah." I can't even begin to think about the emotions underlying those words or the experiences without tears streaming down my face. Not sad tears. Tears of thanksgiving. Tears of surrender. Tears of gratitude that we serve a God who knows what we need and loves us enough to bless us, even in our unbelief and disillusionment.
And I can attest to the fact that Noah is everything I never knew I was missing. So today, on his third birthday I just want to thank God for the beautiful joy that He has brought to us in the form of our red-headed, life-loving little Joy Boy, Noah Grant.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Noah Grant

Oh Cedarville 4-12-10

Oh Cedarville...Your Call Fulfill... ;-)

IMG_3022As many of you know, Jonathan and I planned a quick getaway weekend to our alma mater...Cedarville University. Sounds a little nerdy, most likely, if you are unfamiliar with Cedarville and all that comes with it. I mean, who goes to their old college to reconnect and have a romantic getaway? A college instructor? Maybe  See, Jon and I met down there in that tiny town of Ohio. He used to take me on the most fun dates...and we lived life down there for 4 years, including our first year of marriage. In many ways, my life began in Cedarville. My life here in MI and the people who made it what it was, was a wonderful foundation and Cedarville was the launch pad, in many ways. So anyway...we wanted to go back down there and go to all of our old the things we used to do when we were dating and falling in love. Perfect idea, with a not-so-perfect execution, but perfect ending. Let me explain...
We were supposed to leave Thursday night (my b-day) for Ohio. When I got Noah up from his nap he said his belly hurt. He wouldn't eat dinner...and I knew he was sick. My mom fairly pushed me out of the house, and about ten minutes later, Noah puked. Phew...just in time. Well the kids were staying with my cousin, Jess for the first time for a whole weekend. I had promised her no puke. I didn't' pull through. I was a ball of anxiety on the way down to Ohio and wondered why EVERY time we do something the kids get sick. January, Landon got food poisoned...last Sept when I went to Nashville all three men in my family got sick...when I went to Maine for a wedding Landon had an ear infection...I could go on and on. It seems like every time Jon and I try to do anything alone we are sabotaged...usually by sickness, but sometimes by pianos falling out of the sky. I jest...sort of.
Jonathan convinced me the kids would be fine and we kept going. I called regularly...poor Jess. She is amazing. I love that she knows me so well that she told me to wipe the anxiety off my face when she had to tell me Noah threw up again. I had the look on my face...and I tried my best to wipe it off at her command. Anyway, we arrived down there around midnight...but I had forgotten to print off the code to Dr. Tse's garage (we stayed with my favorite professor and his wife). We couldn't wake them and there is no free wi-fi in Cedarville, OH. So I had Jon drop me off at a freshman dorm, found someone with a laptop and explained why I needed to check my facebook account. She looked at me sideways...but obliged and off we went with code in hand .
IMG_3026We got up early Friday morning and went to my favorite counseling class in the new building...awesome, by the way. Then we went on to chapel and as I gazed around I couldn't help but feel that it was all very much the same...just different people. With every step around campus a million memories hit me like a ton of bricks. We laughed as we shared story after story with each other. With each new building I felt as though my friends would be right around the good and as much fun as we had...being there made me miss my college friends so much that it almost hurt. It is difficult to know that we will never all be together again...but I am so unbelievably thankful for the time we had and the memories we made and the friendships we still carry...even though we are dispersed around the country now. Jon and I also went by our old apartment...our first one that we shared after we got married. Looks exactly the same. We even went in and saw the huge dents in the wall we put in when we tried to move our couch up the stairs...still haven't been fixed  I love how nearly everything stays the same down there and yet it is all beautiful and homey and comfy.
So...I will stop being all nostalgic. We even ate in Chucks (the cafeteria) bc we got some free meal passes for being alumni. I decided to eat the same yummy salad dressing I used to eat every day in college. Except that I forgot that I have developed an egg yolk allergy SINCE college and that salad dressing apparently is laced with yolks. About 20 minutes after eating it, when Jon was up getting an ice cream cone, I started feeling it. At first I felt hot, then my face started flushing, then I felt like I couldn't breathe. I thought I was having a panic attack but then realized exactly what was happening so I tried to get out. I made it just outside the cafeteria where I hit the ground bc I was as bout .5 seconds from passing out. I put my head bt my legs and just sat. But I knew I was going to fall off the bench, so I laid down...right there in front of Chucks. It was either that or fall off the bench bc I passed out. I was MORTIFIED. Jon finally came out (I had left him in there alone and didn't even have a chance to tell him what was going on). I told him I either needed air or a bathroom...he started helping me towards a door and then it hit me that I needed a bathroom...ASAP. No more yummy salad dressing for me. I nearly died.
I recovered about an hour later and we went off to the Gorge. We hiked and talked and kissed and reminisced  That night Dr. Tse and Linda made us an authentic Chinese dinner, with THREE main courses. AMAZING. We sat and talked with them until 1am. I think this was one of the most fulfilling times of our trip. Their wisdom and character and insight into many issues in our lives was beautiful and uplifting and helpful on so many levels. We don't have anyone in our life to ask the hard questions we pummeled them into the wee hours of morning and walked away feeling refreshed and challenged and encouraged.
Saturday we went to Clifton Mill to eat blueberry pancakes...I had forgotten how absolutely amazing they were. I won't forget again...they were unforgettable! It was a gorgeous day so we went to John Bryan and hiked all of our old favorite trails (and make out spots...HA!). We hunted for the spot that we kissed for the first time at, but I think the river was higher than it was back then bc while we know we were close, we couldn't find the exact spot. We had lots of good conversations and breathed in the beautiful spring air and beauty.
I met a few friends that afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them. Becky, Mary and Missy...THANK YOU for coming! I got to see new babies and reminisce with Becky about the old, old days. FUN times.
IMG_3020From there Jonathan and I went and ate at Colonials. We had the breadsticks (which taste exactly the same BTW) and a small pizza...and he had to have one of their subs. It was the same old quaint and homey and it was a beautiful spring day so the windows were open. Ah...anyway...we went on to Beavercreek from there and went by some of our old favorite spots. Jonathan was actually still able to make it there the back way through the hills...crazy how memory works.
Sunday morning Luke and Linda made us a yummy breakfast and we lost track of time talking with them, until almost 1pm. We were supposed to leave around noon..oops. We left Cedarville feeling refreshed and uplifted and encouraged. I am so unbelievably thankful for my time there...for what was taught to me, for the freedom to find myself, for the memories that can still make me laugh so hard I could cry (and even as I say that so many faces and experiences flash through my mind), for God laying the crazy course of events that lead to Jonathan and I meeting and dating and eventually marrying. For all of it. We are so thankful.

Hope 4-6-10


GrandparentsThis past Sunday was Easter and we had the privelege of going to my parents and spending the day with them, along with Grandma and Grandpa. The day was beautiful...we had a delicious meal, went on a family walk...lots of things. But it was also the first time ever that Grandpa didn't know who I was. His mind and body seem to be deteriorating rapidly. We are praying that he can make it until May 28, when they will celebrate their 65th anniversary. But Grandma seemed laden with the reality that it may or may not happen. She has selflessly given of herself for their entire marraige, and yet the last weeks she has poured every part of herself out for him in ways I cannot even imagine. Sometimes we worry over her health, she gives so much. On Sunday when she had gotten Grandpa tucked into his chair, he took her hand and looked up to her and said, "You won't leave me will you?" A fear most of us never vocalize.
Gram calmly answered his questons over and over througout the day. "Do we still live in Millburg?" "Where are we?" Everytime she had just as much joy and exuberance in her voice as the time before. She is the greatest example of faithfulness and selflessness that I have ever witnessed. Her love for him is mindboggling, especially knowing what we do. Commitment as she defines it goes far beyond the loop holes so many of us make as an easy way out of difficult relationships. Her life has so much to teach, if only we will listen. My Grandma is the embodiment of grace and stength and selflessness and love as it was intended to be. She has made mistakes, but that just makes her glow with grace. I thank God for her in every way.
I was teaching today in my psychology class on motivation. The motives of love came up and I asked the class about their thoughts on life-long love...and unconditional love. I got a variety of responses. But one person in particular, near the end of the discussion asked me with conviction in her voice, "You really don't think your man is going to cheat on you?" "All men cheat!" You should have heard the conviction...she has been burned and in her world this is her reality. It took me aback for a moment...the sheer conviction in her voice, as well as the affirmations that erupted from her comment. And then I said, "No, I really don't think he is going to cheat on me." And that opened a door for a whole new discussion. I can't foretell the future. None of us are above sin. But cheating is one of the last things I would ever suspect my husband of. It is just not his nature...his character. I live in trust that Jonathan will honor and protect our marriage and his heart in such a way as to honor God. And I give my best to do the same. I trust that God will protect our hearts and our eyes and our attitudes and our actions. This doesn't make us better than anyone else. In fact I told my class that while I have not failed in this aspect, I have failed in many, many others. GRACE. I thank God for what we have been spared...and for the gift of choice...for the heart of my husband...for forgiveness when we do fail...and most of all for redeeming grace. Grace is what makes all things new again. Thank God for grace...

Comraderie 3-31-10


Today was much like many other days in the past that I used to blog about in detail...we went on a walk, went to the park, played outside, ran through the sprinkler (yeah, I think that was a first for March, but it was nearly 75 degrees today!), and even squeaked in a bike ride tonight. It was a beautiful, gorgeous day...the type you can feel and smell and drink (I sound like Anne of Green Gables). Anyway, we enjoyed every moment of the day and as I was riding with the boys tonight I started thinking about how I used to have the time to blog details of my life, and how that has all radically changed. How I miss blogging and yet, know that for now, it is where it should be in my life.
I think this thinking spawned from reading my subs list today. I couldn't help but notice that I am not the only one feeling like xanga has radically changed from what it used to be. I have been thinking about this for awhile, and I think to a large degree the camaraderie we all had there for a few years was based upon our stage in life. We still have the camaraderie, but instead of having one or two small children, we now have two or four small and big children. Instead of chasing a toddler around and cleaning up play doh, we are chasing multiple children around, often to activities and in all different directions. Or those of us that used to not have any children, are now chasing around busy toddlers and selling houses and keeping up with life. Life has changed for all of us...years tend to do that.
But you know what I think the most? I think that while we all miss what we used to have on here, most of us have found something else that is beautiful and speaks greatly to how God used our xanga relationships in our lives. What? Well, how many times did we encourage one another to spend time with our cherish the be purposeful about parenting? I learned much of what I know about parenting from many of you. But as I added children and as you all did too, I think we found that we had to either open the computer less...or invest in our children less. When our kids were younger it was easy to blog and talk to one another while our child (ren) took one of their three naps in a day...or to read while they mindlessly unloaded the Tupperware cabinet for the 400th time. But as they grew, we grew. And without even noticing it, we spent less and less time on here, and more and more time being purposeful with our time...investing in our children and organizing our days in such a way as to cherish the moments. And you want to know the best part: we did it together. All of us that so miss the "old days" of blogging...the "core xanga group"...we all kind of went through this transition together just like we did so many before it. And the good news: one day we will have more time, and most likely, we will reopen our computers and strike up right where we left off, bc that is what true friends do.
I miss you guys. But I know you are right where you need to be. We all still drop in from time to time...but blogging for most of us has taken on a new role...a secondary role. And while I miss the "old days" and the way it used to be...I thank God for each of you and the commitment I see in you to continuously strive to balance motherhood with social networking and everything else. Even through our lack of communication (blogging, comments, etc) you are still teaching and encouraging me, bc I know your hearts ...and that ultimately...we are each exactly where we should be at this moment.

Hanging Around 3-20-10

IMG_2969IMG_2968My blog has been lonely for awhile now. At first it was because I had a lack of time, then it somehow morphed into a lack of words. Now I am feeling like maybe I just need a break. I am tossing around the idea of moving my blog. Making it a little more personal, a little more protected. I hate to leave xanga, but I would like a blog that can be printed and bound, and xanga doesn't let me do that either. I will keep mulling it over and will let you know if I decide to move it and how, if you want the new address, you can get it.
In the meantime, life has been pretty normal and mundane, which has been quite a treat. I like normal. This past week was beautiful outside and we spent a lot of time on our bikes, walking, playing at the park, grilling turkey burgers, and playing with the neighbors. The birds are back and I love to wake up in the morning to the sound of birds chirping and go to sleep at night to the sound of frogs croaking in the field out back. I can't wait until we can go to sleep with the windows open...the sounds tend to keep Jonathan awake, but I am calmed by the nighttime noises.
I read Safely Home by Randy Alcorn a few weeks back. This was a very moving fiction book, but it was based on the reality of the persecuted church. My eyes were opened in a big way. The safe, easy Christianity that we have here in America is not the Christianity lived by the Apostles. We tend to view suffering as the enemy whereas the apostles saw it as a messenger of refinement and joy. In countries where it is not "cool" to be a Christian they actually have to sacrifice for their faith, but it seems so much more real and deep and true and life-encompassing instead of just a small piece of life. Anyway, I highly recommend this book. It was extremely interesting (couldn't put it down) and extremely informative and challenging.
I have a lot of thoughts swirling through my head...but they are conflicting and personal and this blog is just starting to feel too big. I love connecting and sharing, but when you put yourself out there you are open to criticism and attack and judgement as well as encouragement and friendship. For the most part, this has been an outlet for the latter. I have made real-life friends through this blog. I found encouragement that I desperately needed. I have been challenged and "sharpened" gently through the advice and occasional admonishment of people who genuinely cared about me. I have cherished your friendships, and whether I move or not, I hope that we can continue to share life in some ways. Social networking, when used properly can be a wonderful tool for growth. When used improperly, however, can become a source of contention and discord and stress...and narcissism. Distracting us from real life and pulling us into a world where we start envying the lives of others, or worse yet, criticizing them to make ourselves feel better. I have been victim (and fallen prey) to all of the above...and have been on both sides of the line...with my life being enhanced by social networking and my life being complicated by it. I don't need complicated right now. I don't want complicated. Life is complicated enough...

Annual Great Wolf Lodge Trip 3-6-10

IMG_2941IMG_2946My family makes fun of me often, saying that I don't like change and am a creature of habit. What is funny about that is that I learned it from them...both my mom and Ernie are complete change-haters (unless it would involve a move to Hawaii...Ernie could do that!). Anyway...I like traditions...and so I have already named our trip to Great Wolf Lodge a tradition..even though this was only our third March that we have gone. I think it will only get more and more fun as the kids get older...they both loved the slides this year. Noah even went down the fast tube slides on two-person floats with Jon and I...and on a three person tube with Jon and Landon. Halfway down you could hear his little laughter and by the end his face was beaming...the kid loves adventure. And Landon loved them too...proclaiming the yellow (the fastest one) as his favorite. This year we took my mom along and she got Landon the wand, so he could go on the Lodge Quest. I think that was the highlight of his trip this year...that and winning the jackpot on this impossible game in the game room twice in one day. I have no idea how he did it...but he was pretty thrilled. We had an awesome trip. I put a video up on my facebook account if you want to view it.
Previous to going, the kids were sick again. But the morning of the trip we were able to get an antiobiotic for Noah as his pneumonia had gone into an ear infection. So thankful that we were able to catch that before going. Both kids seem to be on the mend now, and I am hoping they stay that way. Either way, spring is starting to edge its way closer and closer and with each extra moment of daylight, I feel better and better. I LOVE spring time...and summer is my all time favorite. Already, despite the fact that it is only 40ish degrees out, we are able to eat dinner and go outside to play a little before bath time, etc. I love those hours outside, riding bikes, talking to the neighbors, throwing balls, breathing fresh air. I love the promise of spring and the hope that rides on the wind. The hope and the promise are always there...but spring is such a tangible reminder of how all things can become new again.
Our little mini-vacation was just what we recharge and break out of the routine. Landon hasn't taken his bracelet off (the one that gets you admitted into the park) and is proclaiming that he won't take it off until next year when we go again. I am guessing that won't last...364 days is a long time .
Well,  the sun is shining and we are celebrating by grilling turkey burgers and playing outside until the sun sets...winter coats, hats and gloves included  Now if only we had some fresh Michigan sweet corn on the cob..mmmmm. I guess I am getting ahead of myself.
IMG_2917  IMG_2925 IMG_2933 IMG_2924 IMG_2902

Reframing 2-26-10


IMG_2887IMG_2885My valiant attempt at reframing the exhausting...the seemingly endless sickness...and winter...and my barely-able-to- hold-it-all-together life the past 10 weeks...
Thankful that while my kids might have been sick on and off and with various sicknesses for the past 10 weeks, they are not CHRONICALLY ill. That when sickness strikes, even when it is over and over again...I can look with hope to the few days or a week later when life can resume to normalcy. Not everyone has this luxury...and that has been driven home in new ways even this week.
Thankful for normalcy.
Thankful that even though my house often seems strewn with toys and random items, my boys have the ability to imagine anything and everything...turning sheets into waterparks and q-tips into missiles.
Thankful that when winter decided to make one more big blast, landing us with a fresh 9 inches of snow, my family of four could go outside to build our first official snowman of the year (the snow had been too dry until this latest wet snowfall).
Thankful that while I have cared for sick children so much lately, I know HOW to care for them. Thankful that my mama taught me that cool wash clothes bring fevers down and help to calm restless, feverish bodies. Thankful for the sweet hours I spent cuddled with my kids. Thankful for medicine and doctors. And thankful for smiles and color back in the cheeks of my kids, at least for today.
Thankful for normal nights...dinner at the dinner table, board games, baths and stories.
Thankful that spring will come...eventually and that it is almost March instead of almost November.
Thankful for a husband who is willing and able to stay home with sick kids when I cannot do so (even if it is 4 times in 8 weeks). Thankful that he supports me and loves me through his actions and reactions. Thankful that we are a team and I am not in this alone.
Thankful for the sound of laughter ringing throughout my house. Thankful that my boys have a built in best friend...and playmate...brovers.
Thankful for three jobs that I love. For the people who have trusted me and taught me and grown me and blessed me.
Thankful that even though Noah has now caught the latest illness from his brother...I have some idea of the course and that it will be over before our trip on Wednesday (PLEASE LORD!) 
Thankful that I don't have to work today, and can spend the day cuddled up on the couch with my youngest little man who has beautiful glassy eyes and a hot little head, that makes his ever-reddening hair that much more red.
Thankful for my life...the ordinary and the normal. Thankful for life and breath and energy. Thankful for the NOW. And Thankful that in the dark hours of the un-ordinary (the scary and the exhausting and the uncertain) I can still see the Light.