Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

What we’ve been up to lately…

Blizzard 2015
This is the blizzard of 2015 – all 6 inches of it, piled into one spot so we could “play” in the snow

Elaine dressed up the babies!
Lots and lots of dressing up!

Liberty Dressing Up

Liberty feeds her baby Cheerios
Liberty is all about her baby doll – here “baby Clip” is getting a Cheerios breakfast…

Painting with Daddy
Painting.  Daddy took on an enormous task.  The twins have never painted before, and being a klutz myself, I hate the thought of paint.  It is a great potential for a very big mess!  But we had been indoors for a while, and needed a new activity.  Good thing about Daddy being “unemployed”?  Lots of work paint shirts available!

Painting with Daddy
Nehemiah was the water spiller.  And then he drank the water.  Twice.  It was classic.  And secretly I was glad to see Daddy confused by the commotion and needs of four kids all at once.  Just secretly, so don’t tell!

Painting with Daddy

Painting with Daddy
Liberty seemed to enjoy the process, but she also was caught sucking on her paint brush.  I don’t have the packaging anymore, but I’m really hoping these paints are non toxic!

Painting with Daddy

Painting with Daddy
Elaine painted this one all by herself.  She’s finally getting some confidence and trying to draw things on her own!

Painting with Daddy
The end product…after he drank the paint water several times.

Painting with Daddy
The end product…after Daddy took away the paint brush she was sucking on!

Twins on Top Bunk
The twins discovered they could climb bunk beds.  This picture cracks me up – Liberty lost her paci, and it landed down a rung where she couldn’t reach it!  Yes – I laughed at her distress, and I went for the camera before I helped her get the paci back!

Twins sleeping together in the bunk bed
These two.  They are enemies one minute and best friends the next.  Nehemiah has taken to moving his pillow and blanket and puppy to Liberty’s bed each night.  And she doesn’t seem to mind at all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Throwback Tuesday - Tea Time

A couple of weeks ago we had a tea party – and everyone was invited.  Even the twins.  The bigs kids drank two cups of tea each – English style with milk and sugar, of course!  The littles got water in the toy tea set and they thought it was fantastic!

First Twin Tea Party

First Twin Tea Party
Nehemiah says “cheeeeese!” for pictures now!

First Twin Tea Party
He’s gonna make a good husband one day!

First Twin Tea Party
Good to the last drop, right Nehemiah?

First Twin Tea Party
Elaine…and somehow I didn’t get one of Nolan?!?!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Family Pictures

We needed to update our family picture on our prayer card.  It’s over a year old, and the kids grow so fast.  However, now that it is winter, we can’t just go shoot a few pics outside in the nice natural light.  Everything I have tried indoors brings shadows.

I knew there wasn’t a lot of money in the budget for pictures, especially considering that I needed the digital images so that I could insert the picture into our prayer card.  Usually the image CDs start around $150.  I was praying about it, and then one day I got onto Groupon.  I was just looking for any good Christmas ideas.  What popped up?  A coupon for JC Penney Portrait Studios (and we have a new one in Brooklyn so I didn’t have to pay a toll).  I spend $19.99 to get any three images on a CD, and no sitting fees.

Another blessing in this process – everyone had coordinating clothes that fit right now, so I didn’t have to purchase anything!

We booked the appointment for yesterday.  I bathed the day with prayer, asking for good smiles and a good photographer.  We prepped the kids.  When we left the house it felt like –18* and it was windy.  There was snow and slush on the ground – not good for walking four little kids into a picture appointment in their dress clothes.  But I kept praying.

I admit – I lost a little faith when the photographer came out to ask what background we wanted.  She didn’t seem to know what would be good, and I was starting to get worried.  The first appointment ran late, so we sat in the waiting room for close to 45 minutes.  My kids were getting grouchy.  But I kept praying.

And it turns out she was a great photographer.  When we walked into the studio three of the four kids were crying or pouting.  But the photographer even got a smile out of Liberty!  We did a couple different poses and backgrounds, and I got three good pictures out of it. 

My receipt said $169.99, but I only paid $19.99.  I got four happy kids and an updated prayer card.  I’m so glad God even cares about the little things!

This one is for our new prayer card.  It’s not perfect, but neither are we!

This was our second choice.  Not as good of smiles, but still good!

We had to choose a third, so this was it.  It’s the Ben-has-a-cheesy-smile and Nolan-is-really-done-with-this and Nehemiah-is-flirting-with-the-photographer picture.

Monday, January 5, 2015

There’s a New Name Written Down!

Elaine on Christmas EveBen was a four year old boy leaning over a peanut butter & jelly sandwich when his mom led him to Jesus and he got saved. I was a seven year old girl kneeling by my bed with both of my parents when I asked Jesus into my heart. That decision, made as children, was the first step in a journey of faith that has landed us as church-planting missionaries to New York City. It’s something beyond my wildest dreams, and it is all the Lord, and His work in our lives as we surrendered to Him – first in salvation, then to His call to service, then to Bible College and ministry preparation, and now to His call to the City.

That little boy and little girl were on my mind today, because we are now parents of four little people. Little people who need to ask Jesus into their lives as well. Everyday situations provide the opportunity to infuse the Gospel message into their lives. Disobedience shows them their sin. Discipline shows them a little bit of sin’s consequence. And daily we have the opportunity to live the victorious life of Christ before them. This is the area that is hardest, and the one where I fail so often. Yet God is still working in the hearts of my little people.

Elaine had seemed so sensitive to the Gospel for a while, but she was going to wait until she was “in college” or “a teenager” to do that. She thought she was too little to invite Jesus into her life. Then she seemed to harden to the Gospel and her sin. The battles were harder and more often. I wondered what I wasn’t doing or saying right and why I couldn’t get through. Then she seemed to soften again. For about a week she has been trying so hard in her own self-effort to “not disobey any more so I never have to get a time out again.” We have talked about the Gospel more and prayed more fervently.

We had another good conversation at bed time last night, and after going through God’s plan of salvation again, Ben left the ball in Elaine’s court. If she wanted to ask Jesus into her heart, or she had more questions she could ask Ben in the morning.

And she did. In the middle of waking up late, struggling to get everyone ready for church, a wet bed (if you know what I mean), and Cheerios everywhere, Elaine whispered in Ben’s ear that she wanted to tell him something “just between the two of us.” I couldn’t hear the whisper but I saw Ben lead Elaine to the couch, and heard a few of his questions. He wanted to be sure Elaine was taking care of her own soul, and not just trying to please her parents. She wanted to get saved “because I don’t want to go to hell.” And she did – she prayed to get saved.  She didn’t even need help praying, and Ben didn’t have to prompt her at all.  My little five year old girl chose to get off the “wide path” and onto the “skinny path.”

At first she didn’t want to tell anyone. “I just want to keep it to myself.” I explained that Pastor Bickel had been praying for her to get saved, and that I thought he would really like to know she had. We got to church and Elaine told her friend Adelei, but with strictest orders to “keep it to herself.” Then Elaine did tell Pastor Bickel, and that got it started. Elaine came out of Sunday School singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” I thought it was an appropriate song to learn, since she had told the whole mountain of Bethel Baptist Fellowship that “before I left the house I got saved.”  She may have even told some of them twice!


Elaine calling Grandma to share her happy news!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Because Some Days are Like That

Yesterday and today were pretty rough days in Mommyland.  We are training the twins in regular beds.  Some days they get it.  Some days they don’t.  It means no rest for Mommy right now.  But it can be kind of humorous too.

Matching “shawls” for Christmas

I had two blessed weeks of consistency.  Elaine learned digital numbers in Math, so we gave her an alarm clock.  She wasn’t allowed out of bed until 8:00 a.m., and 4:00 from naptime.  When Elaine got up, the other kids got up.  It did wonders for my schedule, my devotions, my planning.  I knew what to expect.  Even if they woke up early, they wouldn’t come out until a certain time.

Cutest fireman ever.

But then the second bunk bed arrived, and with it the crib bar’s restraint went away.  Now I have to teach two toddlers – at the same time – to control themselves and obey Mommy’s directives to “stay in bed!”

Bath time is the cure-all.  New finger puppets make it even better.  Grandmas are wonderful things!

Here’s how naptime went yesterday. 

I got all the kids laid down.  After several disciplines we finally got the twins to stay in bed, realizing Mommy really meant it.  I laid down too.  But I was starting to realize I may have had too many avocado slices on my sandwich, and my tummy didn’t really let me rest. 

I finally fell asleep somewhere between 3:15 and 3:27.  That’s when I was awakened by a loud banging – the metal play dishes on the wood floor.  Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  Yes – Nehemiah and Liberty were awake, not understanding that it wasn’t 4:00 yet.  They commenced play time, and in the total darkness of their room they managed to find the loudest toys.

Nehemiah Loves Trains
He could play trains in the tunnel for hours

I tried to tell them to “sshhhh” because Nolan and Elaine were still sleeping.  I put them back in bed.  Liberty was fine with this, but Nehemiah was done with the bed thing.  I gave them a book, and a train and told them to play choo-choo in bed.  They were both in Liberty’s bunk.

I crept back into my room and laid back down, drifting off again to “Choo-choo!  Choo-choo!” noises.  For about a minute.  They there was a terrific crash, and I knew immediately that Nehemiah had overturned the car box.  It’s his favorite thing to do.  I stayed in bed, and listened to Nolan, now awake, shout “Go. Back. To. Bed.  Go. Back. To. Bed.” Over and over again.  Nolan is just like his mamma – he likes his sleep and he hates to be awakened.  So he was none too happy about the loud noises his younger siblings were creating.

Christmas afternoon at the park

Finally we all realized that really sleep ended at 3:27, and we got up and turned on the lights.

I guess that’s just how some days go around here.  Just when I find the groove in my routine, something changes and I have to shift everything as I desperately search for a new groove.  But since the twins aren’t learning numbers anytime soon, I guess I can say goodbye to consistent wake up times – for now.

Yet in the midst of all this craziness, there have been lots of funny good things too.  Like Nehemiah saying “Cheese” for a picture, and “doggy” and “meow.”  {Not so glad that he also learned an emphatic “no” from Liberty}.  Both twins answer “uh-huh” in the cutest little singsong voice.  They are each quick to point out the other’s disobedience on some days, eager to participate in “double trouble” on other days.

Nolan is learning to pronounce and enunciate his words, and he over does it.  Instead of “libble lit” he can now say “lit-TLE bit” – and he makes sure you know that he said it correctly – every single time.  He mixes his colloquialisms too, and creates new ones like “you’re a funny goose”.  He is OCD about holding his sleeves before sticking his arms into his coat, and putting on new socks after naptime (to the dismay of my laundry pile).

Elaine wrote all of the words in all of her thank you cards this week.  I was scared to death to homeschool, but it is the most rewarding thing ever to hear her read, listen to her sound things out, and see her writing words, and to realize that I taught her that.  She’s a little smarty pants too…she “wrote” a message to Daddy with bath crayons on the shower wall.  Of course, it was unreadable, so Ben said “I don’t know what it says.”  Her response?  “Daddy – you have to sound it out!”  She’s getting more sensitive about how it hurts us when she disobeys and dishonors her parents.

People keep telling me these are the best years.  That they would trade the teen years to go back to the little years.  To me, they just feel like the tired years!  But I want to remember that even in the crazy chaos and never-the-same routines of raising little people, there are sprinkles of joy and overwhelming cuteness all over the place, if I am looking.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Day in the City

We took a little tour of New York City with our friend Jon Buker this weekend.  One of the things on Elaine’s bucket list was to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, so we started at Jane’s Carousel, walked the Bridge, and then went to the 9/11 Memorial. 

Jane's Carousel
Nehemiah was apprehensive at first…

Jane's Carousel

Jane's Carousel
Liberty was a natural!

Jane's Carousel
The serious look…

Nehemiah apparently hit his “wall” and took quite the nap on the Bridge.  This is what he looked like…

Brooklyn Bridge
Yes – he is asleep.  Yes – he was bumping people.  Yes – we did lay him down once we figured out he was really asleep!

Brooklyn Bridge
I think the Brooklyn Bridge is my favorite NYC icon.  It never disappoints – I’m always amazed at it’

9-11 Memorial
The Freedom Tower.  It was nice visiting now that the Memorial is an open public square, and we didn’t have to stand in line or go through security!  One of these days I will make it to the Museum!

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