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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

crazy busy (non-blogging) life

so it seriously has been like forever since i was on here.  okay, maybe not that long but it's been long enough.  aaaand, asher's crying.... be right back.  okay, let's try again.  see, this is why i haven't been on here.  i have 4 kids, 4 little kids and for the past several weeks that has been enough.  i mean that in the most wonderful way.  they have just been the focus.  being their mom and focusing on family and what we're doing and where we're going.  and ya know, sometimes (okay alot of the time) it makes me tired. 

usually it's the good kind of tired.  the been playin' outside, runnin' around, visitin' friends, seein' family, laughin', plannin', playin' kind of tired.  but there are times lately when it's been the not so good tired.  the tried to do too much in a day, got too focused on the list, tried to own stuff, problems and situations that were not mine to own, let my feet slide off my firm foundation kind of tired.  i'm not such a great mom.  no, really, i'm not.  not on my own.  but when He's in control of my life, when i let Him lead me, guide me, speak for me ... i am an amazing mom. and i am not tired....well okay, the tired doesn't get to me.

but i am off the subject and should be hitting the highlights you've missed over the past little bit here.  soooo let's start with the next thing after visiting the "greats".  my sister-in-law came to visit for almost a week.  which pretty much meant we got to live at my parents too.  we got to introduce her to ethan and we got to meet our newest niece laila.  the two little ones were born 8 days apart.

we got to play on my dad's boat (yes, technically it's my parent's boat but really, it's my dad's boat if you know what i mean). and swim in the lake and jump off the boat and float around and enjoy that we have a great lake so close.

we attempted the impossible and tried to take a picture of all 6 of the grandkids together.  it was hilarious and yes, we have to teach papa to stand behind the camera instead of to the side when trying to get kids to smile.  pete did the rapid fire technique with the camera and (i am not exaggerating) took about 50 pictures of the kids.  and you know what?  we still didn't get them all smiling or looking at the camera at the same time.  instead we got a ton of pictures of our kids just being our kids.

then we had to push our luck and put mana and papa in the mix too.  just to see if we could get them a picture with all of their grandkids.  same 50 pictures.  same result.  real life kids loving their grandparents and not caring about the camera.

the past week i have to be honest i was just too tired to stay up late to write.  we did decide to homeschool mia this year.  it's just the right decision for us right now. soooo, i have been working on trying to figure out where in our little house this was going to occur, getting things ready, organizing, thinking, reading and planning.  i don't want to make homeschool sound hard.  it really isn't that bad.  i was just trying to get it all done in a week and i am a planner and organizer by nature, especially with new things.  oh my!  so more to come on school but for now my amazing 5 year old will get to stay home and play and explore and learn and just be 5.  and that's just the way we want it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the greats

we spent this past weekend with the kids' great grandparents.  my grandparents live in a retirement community about 5 hours away.  and though it's not that far, with little kids it is that far.  but the kids are super lucky to have great grandparents.  great grandparents who adore them.  and that is a relationship we really want to nurture as much as possible. 

what amazing heritage they bring to our family.  amazing insight.  amazing stories. amazing examples.  they have been married for almost 66 years now. 66 years!  how amazing is that?!?  what a beautiful example of love, commitment and the true meaning of marriage.  this is what i want my kids to see.  that marriage can stand the test of time.  that this is their inheritance.  a loving, committed marriage.
so we spent our weekend just visiting.  no plans, no agenda just being together.  we stayed with them in their two bedroom condo.  yep, all eight of us.  plus their dog.  and you know what. it worked.  the big kids loved that they got to sleep in the sun room.  we walked the dog - a lot.  i think poor spunky began to dread the sight of his leash.  we learned how to feed the birds and watched them quickly find the food we left out.
 we got to talk alot and get to know each other better.  i love the picture below of asher and great grandma deep in conversation.  when the kids went to bed we got to hear stories about my grandfather's childhood, his family and the things he remembered of his grandparents.  oh, if only we had had a tape recorder.  it will definitely be with us the next time we visit.

we got to swim in their pool.  we got to get fresh midwest summer corn.  we got to ride on their boat.  poor asher was nervous.  really nervous.  but great grandpa was great with him and daddy held him and in the end he smiled up and said (unprompted) "great grandpa, you are a great captain.  thank you for taking me on your boat."  and isn't that what it's really all about?  standing together as a family when you're scared (or whatever) and supporting you through those things, letting you emerge on the other side braver, stronger and more confident in your self.

and in the end, we got a picture of our amazing little family - supporting each other in great grandma's fun blue chair.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

it is what it is

should be writing something.
should be folding something.
should be washing something.
should be reading something.
should be cleaning something.
should be going to bed.

but today was not about the "should be's". 
today ended up being about other things. 

about lots of snuggle time. 
about watching a piece of my "type-A, too focused on the to-do list" self slide away.
about listening for the hundredth time to a story that was worth telling 100 times.
about cancelling plans with adults to focus on kids.

about letting them make mistakes and messes.
even when i am trying desperately to clean the house. 
so they learn. 
learn the activity and learn that it's okay to make the mistake
as long as you clean up the mess
(do grown-ups know this??  it's okay to make a mistake. i wonder)

today became simply today.
it is what it is.
and that's okay.

Monday, August 9, 2010

da bears

over the weekend we headed to chicago to finish celebrating eli's birthday.  we opted out of the normal birthday party thing, trading it in for the bears family night.  we had never been and thought our sports fanatic would love it.  we were right! 

they had all kinds of things to do before the game.  we got fun bears necklaces that turned the back of everyone's neck blue.  the kids got to attempt a field goal and got bears shaped silly bands for their efforts.  we got to hear the percussion line play (the same line that plays as the players enter the field).  they had a band playing and the kids loved dancing in the grass while we waited for the rest of the family to get off work and join us.

eli was in heaven with all the ball things that were going on.  once inside the stadium things actually slowed down as the team was practicing (we thought it would be more of a scrimmage).  eventually though they went to some 7 on 7 plays and then even a few 11 on 11.  eli had a great time yelling "FROW IT" and "OOOOH!" when a player missed a catch. 

we were waaaaay past bedtime anyway so we decided to stay for the fireworks.  well, the show ended up being right over our seats.  i have never been that close to fireworks. ever.  with each kiddo in a different grown-ups lap and lots of ear covering we had a good time watching them and seeing all the pretty colors and designs.

at the end of the night i asked the kids what their favorite part of the day was.  the response - "getting candy".  seriously??  yup.  see uncle dave handed asher money for candy toward the end of the night and he immediately grabbed uncle jimmy to take him and mia to go find some.  it was the highlight for the big kids that they got to get candy so late at night.  in my heart i am believing that really it was the time together as a family and all the fun things we got to do and see.   .... okay, and the candy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

thursday thoughts

my house is quiet.  it's not even 9 here and everyone is asleep.  the dishwasher is quietly humming (oh how i have a love/hate relationship with that machine) and the clutter is mostly back where it belongs (only a few things left to grab before bedtime).  it's a peaceful quiet that doesn't happen often.  i love our noise, our activity, our craziness.  but the peace is nice too.

i'll be honest ... it's a little easier to think in the quiet.  and i find my mind moving in lots of directions tonight.  just flitting from one place to the next. gently landing in one spot for a brief second and then off again to another one.

mostly though i am waiting.  i am completely enjoying my life.  i spend every day in the moment with my kids.  but in the quiet, i know something is coming.  i know my answer is yes.  i just don't know exactly what the question is yet.  it begins with my Father softly whispering "will you...." into my heart and my heart is aching to say yes.  but first He must finish His question.  i don't know what the question is.  i know the topic.  i know the subject.  i don't know the specifics.  it's hard.  the waiting.

then i wonder.  do i have to know the whole question?  can i know only part of it and begin to move?  i know this is really how it works but i just feel like i have so little to move with.  please don't misunderstand.  i know i will not get a detailed instruction plan that will take me through the next 5 years. or the next year.  or even the next month or week.  i guess i just feel like i need a little more direction before i began the journey.  but maybe i don't.  maybe i know enough ... maybe. 

no matter how much i know in my head, i know in my heart i will follow Him wherever this journey takes me.  because i know He has only good things for me.  i know He has plans for me.  i know that i know that i know that He loves me.  little me, with this little life, and all my "stuff" and He, wonderful, amazing, creative, powerful Him, loves me.  how can i not follow?  how can i not say yes?

what do you say?  do you know how much He loves YOU?  yep, you.  just as you are.  He's proud of you.  did you know that?  it makes Him smile to see you.  He thinks you are amazing.  how do i know?  because that's who He is.  because when i think about the way He loves us it fills my heart so much my eyes leak.  and did you know that nothing; nothing you can do can seperate you from His love?  His love is that strong.

so i'm saying yes. and i think i might be taking a step.  and we'll see where that step leads.  because you know, that step will lead to the next one and the next one. and maybe the one after that will actually require a turn instead of following the path i thought i was on. but if i hadn't taken the first step i wouldn't have gotten to the turn. so in the end, even if it ends up looking totally different then i thought it would in the beginning, i will end up right where He wants me.  and that's the best place to be.

and here's a totally unrelated picture of ethan.  just cuz he's cute!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

warning - change is coming

okay so here's the warning. i'm changing the name of the blog. i know, call me crazy. it's just the name of a blog right? but see it's been coming for awhile. i started the blog just to get it started and didn't really think about the name. just wanted to get started. but you see i want the things i do to be intentional and purposeful. so yes, even the name of the blog matters.

see to me it's not our world (as the current title seems to imply) it's HIS world and this is just our little life. our little life that we are using to raise amazing kids to love Him. our little life that we are using to LOVE as many as we can. our little life that we want to glorify Him with. our little life that we hope leaves His footprint on your heart when you spend time with us. our little life that we have been blessed with and want to do our best with.

so, starting tomorrow we'll have a new address. you can find us at justourlittlelife.blogspot. i know this will mess some of you up. i know there may be "bugs" with this concept. i know this will mean we miss some of you for a while until you can find us again. but i also know that even, here, i want everything to be intentional and for Him ... becaue He has done so much for me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

surprise ride

so let me introduce you to one of our favorite things to do with the kids. before we had kids pete and i heard this concept and knew immediately that we wanted to do it with our kids, once we had some. =)

so here's how it works. we are going about our normal day. the kids are playing and have no idea anything is about to happen. we grab our "surprise ride" song, turn the volume on the stereo way up and hit play. the kids then have 30 seconds (or 5 minutes at this point in our life) to get their shoes on and get in the van. they have no idea where we are going or what we are doing. all they know is that it's going to be fun and they have to go quick.

the ride doesn't have to be anything expensive or extravagant (though i really want to do this and while we're driving around the block tell the kids to pack their bags cuz we're going to disney the next day! or some other fabulous vacation spot would be fine too!) it's just something fun with the family. all of us together - and who ever else is in the house - friends included.

we haven't done too many yet but here's one of our latest ones. we headed off to chuck-e-cheese. oh yes, one of their favorite spots. and since saad was home he got to come too. (saad is the saudi arabian student who is currently living with us). not sure they have chuck-e-cheese in saudi arabia and though i think it was a bit overwhelming (isn't it to most of us at times?) i think he had as much fun as the kids. skee ball was his favorite. check him and pete playing ...

you know eli had to shoot some hoops!!

my favorite part of the night though was after mia and asher had picked out their prizes for the night. we realized we had another ticket coupon that was pretty nice sized. since the kids had already gotten fun things pete suggested they find someone else to give it to. mia jumped up, grabbed the ticket and took off looking for someone with asher right behind her. no complaining, no wanting to keep it for themselves. off they went. they came back with HUGE grins. and mia explained to me she had found "a little girl who didn't really have any tickets at all mom. so now she can get a really good prize." oh MELT my heart!!

so anyways, that's surprise ride. it's not about going somewhere fancy or crazy or expensive. it's about being together as a family and just enjoying each other. surprise! we love you! let's get in the car and go be together and have fun!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


we spend alot of time in our backyard. alot. we are blessed with a nice size yard and a great playscape that the kids love. the kids spend hours out there swinging, sliding, driving and pretending. i love to listen to their playtimes and follow their imaginations. it's amazing to me. sometimes they are on a pirate ship. sometimes in a house. sometimes it's a rocket to the moon complete with space walks to rescue lost lovies that have floated away and must be reached by a quick evacuation down the slide.
eli's baby swing just got replaced by a big boy swing, much to his excitement. he had mia push him endlessly when it first got up and then she taught him how to swing on his belly. he still wants her to push him ... just while he's on his belly now.

asher is now the "little fireman" and is usually in his fireman outfit. he protects us all by putting out the fires and ensuring that everyone, especially his siblings are all okay. he drives to the fire and slides down the slide to be sure he can get there fast enough.

they had so much fun playing together on the slide and landing all in one big heap at the bottom. mia and asher would scale the slide while eli gleefully "crashed" into the on his way down resulting in tons of giggles and smiles and laughter. it's these moments when they all play together and laugh together and love each other that i think "okay, see we're doing something right." and it makes my heart light and i treasure it.

you capture - "play"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


we have a transition going on in our house.
my little eli is growing up.
(asher did this to me too!)
he's realizing that he's a boy
which means he wants to be just like his daddy.
i am no longer the go-to person.
daddy is requested for everything ...
help with anything
comforting when he's hurt or scared
eli follows daddy everywhere
does everything just.like.daddy.
so this is how i find him usually...
running up to daddy,
tackling daddy
following daddy or
in daddy's arms.

i miss the days when i was his world.
when i was his comfort, his safety
but i know he is learning
even at 2
what it means to be a man.
and that is something
i can not teach him.
so i am grateful and blessed
that he has a wonderful daddy
and that someday
he will be just.like.daddy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

so sweet

meet keyson. honestly one of the sweetest boys i have ever known. he is soft spoken and shy with the tenderest heart. mia is always running around church and forever bringing keyson with her where ever she goes. he is always the first person she invites to her birthday every year. she always makes sure that he is taken care of and never left out because he is a little more quiet then some of the other kids. and he so very sweetly just goes along with whatever mia is up to at the time.

well, he had these beautiful flowers growing in his yard. he had to pick one and he told his mom that he needed to bring it to mia. he insisted (or so his mom told me) that the flower needed to go to mia. so that's exactly what happened. he and his mom dropped by to present mia with the flower he knew she would love. he was right. it has been sitting on a table in her room ever since. isn't he so sweet??

happy birthday

so my sweet little eli turned 2 this weekend. how can that be?? didn't he just come home all swaddled in my arms? i love the picture above. he was still. he was close. he felt he needed me. that doesn't happen much anymore and my heart treasures those few precious moments when it does.

now he is 2. he runs ... everywhere. he jumps, he laughs, he flies through the air onto couches and chairs. he doesn't do anything quietly ... anything. his name actually means "mouthpiece of God" and pete often comments as we hear eli yelling through the house that he was named most appropriately.

he has some crazy hair. it is the most amazing soft blonde that will not stay down in the back. like the rest of him it beats to it's own drum and goes where it wants. my sweet little two year old definately has his own drum. he knows what he wants. he has a boldness about him that will serve him well when he is older. nothing frightens or intimidates him. he does not know what a challenge is. he does not know how to hold back. he is learning his independence and reminds us often that he has his own ideas about how things should go.

yet he is still a little boy who carries his blanket around by one corner letting the rest of it drag behind him. a little one with his thumb in his mouth when the activities of his busy day seem to over take him and his little body gets tired. a little one who loves to read. and though he's apt to throw the book at you it is only because throwing is his most favorite thing to do.

i have never seen a child more obsessed with balls. any kind. it does not matter. his birthday was perfect as each new box, bag and gift contained yet another ball of some kind. his little face just lit up each time. it was pure joy for him to discover so many new balls to play with. we play catch endlessly especially when i sit down to nurse his little brother (i am getting pretty good catching a ball single handedly and with my left hand let me tell you!). it melted my heart to see his smile and his excitement with each gift.

as daddy tucked him in that night he sleepily whispered
"yes, buddy, you got a lot of balls today."
"do you want to sleep with one?"
a very tired "yeeah."
and so he did. curled up with his ball he fell asleep.
adorable and sweet and adventurous and bold.
that is my little eli as he turns 2.

my little man with his birthday hat on!

(and yes, i made the cake. hooray for cake class!!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

where's ethan?

so i was in ethan's room as he was waking up from his nap. i heard him begin to stir and this was how he greeted me.

where's ethan??

you capture - "black & white"

Thursday, July 22, 2010


we went blueberry picking a little while ago with some friends. it has to be one of my favorite summer activities. i don't know why. it's always hot, there is no shade. this year i had to try to nurse ethan sitting in the dirt, practically under a bush so we could get a little shade.
but i love to fill my bucket with those berries
knowing we will make yummy treats when we get home
and nibble on them for days.

love to nibble on them straight from the bush,
and watch my kids eat way more berries
then they put in their buckets

i usually try to take a few pictures as we go and still try to at least fill my bucket so we have some to take home. well, this year while i was nursing ethan, mia grabbed the camera. she had a blast taking pictures (remember we talked about her love of photography here). so, 95 - yes, 95, pictures later she relinquished the camera and resumed her focus on the berries. so in honor of her new love all the pictures in this post are ones she took. including the ones below ....

aren't they silly??

isaac and the my boys got a hold of the bug spray and enjoyed "shooting" everything within range. needless to say, we had to make a little more when we got home.

grace, her favorite subject

proof that eli will NOT wear shoes ... anywhere.
and sometimes, it's just not worth the fight.
we found his shoes later
as well as a picture to prove when he'd taken them off.

and like her daddy she loves to take pictures of her feet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

thursday thoughts

i can't sleep. haven't been able to for awhile now (not such a good thing with an 8 week old). i should be napping even now but i'm here online looking, learning, wondering. there is a stirring in my heart that continues to grow. it is with me always. as i look at my children, as i move through my day, as i sit quietly and especially when i worship. it is the most intense when i worship. it moves me to tears. it stops my heart. as i focus on the King of my life He shows me their faces, lets me feel their need. He breaks my heart for the things that break His. He shows me his children around the world who are alone, abandoned, forgotten.

their sweet little faces stay with me as i love on my own little ones. who is playing with them? getting their lunch ready? singing with them? laughing with them? who is there to hold them when their scared? to kiss away the boo-boos? to tuck them in at night? who is there to pray with them? to show them God loves them? who?

i can't escape these thoughts and though i am eternally grateful for my own wonderful four children i know i am being called to more. my heart is breaking even as it overflows with the blessing He has poured out on my life. i cry for them. weep for them in my husband's arms. pray over them and cry some more as i read about the beautiful ones who have found their forever homes. the ones whose faces now glow back at me from the computer screen. who now have someone to tuck them in, to remember their birthdays, to kiss their owies, to hug them, to love them.
but what of the 147 million others that are still out there? the ones who are still cold, hungry, scared, lost, alone? what am i to do? i know i am called to more. i just don't know yet what that looks like. in my dreams i hold them, lots of them. i kiss them and laugh with them. we chase each other and my own precious four little white faces blend with a sea of other colors as they all call me mama. i am there. i will hold them. i will comfort them. i will shelter them. but i awake and i am here. blessedly climbing out of bed to tend to the amazing four children that i have. to nurse a sweet little angel of a boy, to rescue a daring almost 2 year old from his own activities, to sword fight and be saved by my 3 year old and to draw, create or cook with my 5 year old.

it is hard for me to wait. to be patient. to know that they are there and i am here. i know His timing is perfect yet it is still hard. hard not knowing exactly what to do. it seems so obvious to say "adopt" ... but that still leaves so many. is it just adoption when my heart aches for so many more? when i think of bringing a single precious child into my family and my arms, the thought only brings me mild comfort. what is the plan? what am i being called to? their faces break my heart. i want to move now but feel i need at least the first step in the plan. so that is my prayer for now. not for the whole plan, not for all the details, but God, show me the next step. move my feet toward your broken children so that i can love them here before you get to love them for all eternity.

and these are my thoughts on a thursday. what are yours?

Monday, July 12, 2010


so i am not always the best at making decisions. i'm not talking about the little ones like where to go to dinner or what to do that day. those i can do, no problem. when it comes to big things i tend to drag my feet. if i'm being honest i think it's sometimes that i'm afraid i'll make the wrong decision. and with this decision i don't want to make the wrong one. you see, it's time for mia to go to kindergarten and this is how i find mia most days ....

always with paper and pen in hand writing, drawing, composing letters to her friends or family members. she often takes her notepad with us to the beach, on walks, or anywhere we go. she loves to learn. she was literally in tears a little while ago because she wants to be able to read so badly. i want to make the best choice for her ... and for us.

there are several choices from public school to charter schools. from 1/2 day to full day. but i'm also really seriously considering homeschool too. go ahead, call me crazy (you won't be the first). yes, i know i have three other little kids. yes, i know it would be one more thing to keep track of. yes, i know she needs to have time to socialize (believe me, i've heard this alot). but ... yes, we could do her school day in about 30 minutes. yes, it would offer us flexibility both on a daily basis and as a family. yes, we could go at her pace (um, think reading might be a focus for her??). and yes, to be honest she would be with me. i've been working for the past year and a half and i missed her.
there is something something in my spirit that is leading me to consider a choice i never would have entertained years ago. there is something about not sending her away right now. i know she is growing up. it's not about keeping her little. it's about keeping her close for a little while longer. about letting her (and us) enjoy our days a little while longer without schedules and deadlines and have-tos. it's about letting her begin to explore things in more ways then a classroom of 25 has the time or man-power to do. about getting to watch her learn and explore.

i'm open. i'm undecided. or maybe i'm not. either way i would love to know you're thoughts and ideas on the subject.

cherry picking party

recently we were invited to a cherry picking party. friends of ours have a cherry tree that produces fruit every other year and they invited us over to help them harvest some of the beautiful cherries. of course, when you have little ones (especially girls) any event is reason to have a party and naturally that includes cupcakes! so we packed up the kids and headed over. the daddies went back to get our ladders so everyone could have one and then into the tree we went.

the cherries were beautiful ... but wow, were they tart. my friends son did not seem to notice though. he was popping them into his mouth, pit and all.

go, rusty, go

the girls were the most into the actually picking. they had a blast trying to fill their bowls as full as they could and were having the daddies move the ladders to just the right spots so they could pick. all of this done in pretty dresses of course.
the boys wanted to pick but i think it was mostly just to climb the ladders. they often took breaks to ride bikes or play with the balls. asher did a great job and would fill his bowl, then go run and play for awhile, then start the cycle over. of course eli, was true to himself and either had a ball in his hand or was trying to scale the ladder by himself with a grown-up quickly following him as he usually picked the tallest one.

here daddy, you eat it!

when the picking was done my friend had cupcakes all ready to be decorated and then enjoyed. she let us borrow their cherry pitter (need to get one of those. love it!) and when we got home i made a cherry crumble. lots of extra sugar to curb the tartness but it was worth it. the dessert was great.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


i can not find the cord to connect my camera to my computer.
i can not get any of my pictures online.
i am aggitated.

i search the house.
my frustration is growing.

my husband stops me.
he squeezes my hand.
not once, but three times
very gently

and i stop.
and i breath.
and i smile!

you see this is something my grandmother taught me when i was little
he's shortened it now
but the meaning is still the same.

the original goes like this ....
squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze
squeeze, squeeze, squeeze
squeeze, squeeze

the meaning is still the same
our love is more important.
we'll find the cord tomorrow.

(feel free to "squeeze" with your loved ones!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

fun, sun and friends

asher, eli, our new friend billy, mia, claire, emily & bella

some of my girlfriends from college drove up to see us. we met at the beach and had a blast. we had 7 kids 5 and under and they were all amazing! it was a perfect beach day where the sun was shining, it was pleasantly warm and there was a gentle breeze. after we figured out how to put up the little beach cabana to keep ethan out of the sun we opened up the picnic lunches. we were glad to all fit under the cabana as the seagulls were very happily trying to share our lunches with us.

little ethan

the kids had so much fun playing at the water's edge in the waves,

digging in the sand,
mia (above) and claire (below)

running on the beach and just enjoying our day.

asher found a friend who shared a sword!!

beautiful bella

emily had a great time helping me keep tabs on eli.

then we had a wonderful time playing outside at our house. it was one of those days where naps are forgotten and it's worth it to enjoy friends and a wonderful summer day. pizza for dinner and cupcakes for dessert. it was a wonderful day that ended in a pj fashion show as our friends packed up to head home. we were so very glad they came!!