If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve been writing for My Big Jesus once a week or so. You also know that I love Jesus. You ALSO know a lot about me. So, you won’t be that surprised when I tell you that I had a total Jesus moment today.
I was at church for a worship team meeting, and was stopped on my way out by one of the sweetest ladies ever. She’s a long-time buddy of my mother-in-law, watched Hubby grow up, and is a fixture of wonderful ministry at our church. She had a really cool story to tell me.
She had seen my post Like a Litter of Puppies on My Big Jesus, loved it, and shared it with her kids (who are a little older than me). Her daughter, who had read it, got a call from a friend who was in shock at finding out she was (unexpectedly!) pregnant with her fourth child. Can you imagine?! You have three kids. You think you’re all set., then BOOM. One more is coming! She obviously is going to love that fourth child, but you can see why it’s a shock, right? So anyway, the daughter sends my post about Hubby and his brothers being like puppies, and big families and close siblings, and she is totally encouraged! She was blessed by the words that The Lord had put on my heart. That blows my mind.
This story is an inspiration to those of us who desire to bring people closer to God. Whenever I write a post like that, for My Big Jesus or just for my own blog on a whim, I hope it touches one life. If my words reach one life, encourage one soul, spark one mind, or help heal one heart, I am satisfied. Sometimes when I write, that one person touched is, in fact, me. Other times, it’s a friend who saw me link it on Facebook. Or even still, a total stranger, like the story today. It was a very “six-degrees-of-separation” feeling to know that a friend of a friend of a friend read it and was touched. But that’s why I’m doing this! I wrote that post just for her, in that moment of her life, when she needed to hear a little encouragement in a situation in the midst of which she was surprised to find herself. I never know who you are that needs to hear this, but hey – this one’s for you.
Hubby and I have said, ever since we started talking about kids, that we’d like to have them close together. There are two reasons. First of all, my brother and I are almost seven years apart, and we were never very close… at least not until we were both adults. We get along great now, but we were never in the same stage of life till we “grew up”. Secondly, Hubby grew up with two brothers, just a little over 3 years between the oldest and the youngest. They’ve always been best friends – shared everything, fought over everything, loved the same things, and disliked the same things. They knew each others strengths and weaknesses, successes and faults. Yet they had a strong bond. They still have do, and that bond has carried over into their wives and children as well (you know, once the kids have personalities and do their own things).
I just spent an evening recently, celebrating one of my sisters-in-law’s birthday, with the whole family (Hubby’s parents, his brothers, their wives and the offspring). The love that every person in the house had for every other person was amazing. We know each other well, know our nieces and nephews well, and we love each other well, too. But the most hilarious thing is to see the brothers interact. When they’re all together, they have a hilarious tendency to revert back into their eight, nine, and ten-year-old selves. They immediately start bragging about their Nintendo skills, talk about how they used to wrestle each other in the basement (roundhouse kick to the FACE!), and possibly give a quick reenactment of one of their fights. Or, they lie on the floor, cuddling, like a bunch of puppies, maybe even with their kids.
Sometimes I sit and think about how much love is in that pile of faces and limbs and laughs. Grown men or babies, love and a sense of belonging abounds. What a great image of the love of a Father, who knows us better than we know ourselves, who knows our thoughts before we think them, and loves us abundantly anyway. To be loved is important; to love others unconditionally is of even greater significance.
So when I think about my children, I want to pile them up like puppies. I want to them to have that sibling love inherently, to not really know life without their best friends. I want them to experience that love early, and first hand. Their siblings and cousins, because of their closeness, will know each other inside and out, and will know how to love through differences or difficulties. What better way to love and be loved?
I don’t know what qualifies as a “late talker” but I’m guessing my daughter falls on that spectrum somewhere. Recently, as in the past two months or so, her vocabulary has really catapulted into the “most sounds are actual words” range. For a while, it was still mostly gibberish while she pointed her chubby finger at something, with the occasional real word in there. Now, she’s stringing three or four or even five words together in a row, and sometimes making sentences! Hubby and I are so proud! I’m especially disappointed proud to say that her first full sentence was, “I wove fry fries!” As you can imagine, that means she really loves french fries.
Recently, she’s been using “thank you” (sounds like “kick you”) and “I’m sorry” a lot. For us, teaching manners to our kids also meant teaching a few polite phrases. When she receives something, she always says thank you. When she does something like take her brother’s toy or pull my hair (yeah, I don’t know where that came from but it’s a thing), we tell her to say “I’m sorry.” I know she doesn’t fully understand, but I always respond with “I forgive you” because I want forgiveness to be a familiar idea in our home. I want to extend forgiveness for small things and big things. I have a perfect model of forgiveness to follow; Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins (and yours!) is the ultimate act of forgiveness. If I have been forgiven for every single sin I have committed and will commit, it seems a simple thing to forgive my kids for their innocent transgressions. I consider forgiveness a particular blessing I can bestow on my family, and it mends my heart as well.
More New York City fun… Here’s what we did Sunday and Monday!
On Sunday (our second day), my mom and I woke up with the kids, packed them up, left Hubby in bed, and went to search for bagels. Thankfully, we found a DELICIOUS bagel place less than a block away. It was inexpensive and had more than just bagels (fresh fruit, good coffee, juice, pasta salad, etc). I think it was called “Bagel Express II” but I’m not sure. When we had eaten and collected Hubby, we visited FAO Schwartz and hung out on the east side of Central Park. It was great weather to just peruse the area, eat some street food, and think of some things to do during the week.
For dinner, we decided on the Italian restaurant on the corner near our hotel, Tony’s di Napoli. It was delicious, however very crowded and slow. We didn’t anticipate having a two hour dinner that began at almost 7:30. We ended up giving J a bottle to put him to sleep and sending EK back to the room with my mom for a bath while we waited for the check and boxes for our food. It was a little hectic, but their food was truly delicious.
On Monday, lots more things were open again, and we could really get in to some fun things! First, we visited the Natural History Museum with Hubby’s cousin Becca. She’s an awesome lady – a jazz singer in NYC who always makes time to hang out with our littles. (Her website, by the way, is here. Check her out because her music is ridiculously amazing.) We looked at tons of animals, and watched the show in their planetarium (totally amazing) and both the babes even loved it!
We followed that up with an delicious Vegan lunch at Peacefood Cafe, coffee at Irving Farm, and then Mom, the kids and I went back to the hotel for naps. (I won’t lie… an afternoon nap schedule suited me JUST FINE because I was pooped by then also.) Hubby went with Becca to a famous guitar store and played zillion-dollar guitars all afternoon (he came back a very happy camper). Miranda (another of Hubby’s cousins, who had lunch with us) came over to the hotel for dinner (take out) and brought us some teeny-tiny cupcakes, which we ate on all week!
That night, Mom kept the kids so Hubby and I could go out on the town. We went to the East Village to a favorite spot of yet another of Hubby’s cousins (Katie – sister of Becca) who used to live in the city. Drop Off Service used to be a laundromat, and kept the name when the space converted to a bar. Small, intimate and homey, lots of good beers on draft, and in a trendy neighborhood for the piece de la resistance.
We walked from Drop Off Service to a little Irish pub, O’Hanlon’s Bar, where we played some darts. I won both games, of course. It’s worth bragging about because it’s the only thing I’ve ever beaten Hubby at. Just give it to me, okay?
Stay tuned for one more NYC post in the series… I’m having a blast writing about it! Check out some of those links, and leave some comments about places we should try next time!
There’s nothing more American than family and friends, grilling burgers and hot dogs, drinking beer and playing games on the back deck. That’s exactly what we did today. And then after we had eaten our fill and were ready to cool off inside for a while, we all went over to my brother-in-law’s house to see my new nephew on his first day home from the hospital. It was indeed an incredible day spent enjoying the freedom that so many have fought and sacrificed to give us.
So, Hubby’s parents have a lake house. They are the sweetest for sharing it with their three crazy sons and their families. As my toddler takes to water like a fish, she is especially grateful for a day at the lake here and there. Hubby’s mom has been giving her swimming lessons at the pool, and she is f.e.a.r.l.e.s.s. She is actually getting the hang of the kicking and keeping her face out of the water. But she always wears her Puddle Jumpers (I mean, hey, she’s two). These things are lifesavers (pun intended?) because they are a lifebelt and “water wings” combined. Also, they’re covered in a fabric similar to what all swim suits are made out of, instead of the blow-up, bare plastic, scratchy arm bands. There’s honestly no way she could get out of them, and that’s my favorite part. I don’t have to worry about her jumping off the tube or treading water without holding onto someone. She’s afloat in an actual life preserver (seriously- it’s a certified life preserver, can be used on the boat, etc). Our Puddle Jumpers are from Costco, but they’re available at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Target and more.
Speaking of useful things to have when swimming… that little bathing cap? Totally a Target find. It’s the Circo Infant/Toddler Floral Swim Cap, and it’s on clearance, so hurry! There’s a slightly different one that’s pink and not on clearance, but still with the little flowers attached.
I don’t have a picture (unfortunately) but J has some trunks and swim shirt from Carter’s that we LOVE. He also borrowed a straw fedora from a friend, and looked like a stud muffin.
Bottom line: Hubby and I have been blessed with water babies, and we are glad, because we love the water, too (and the sun, and the boat, and the water skis/wake board)! However, I hope I haven’t passed on my pasty white, easily sunburned skin; we’re of course greasing them up with Blue Lizard, but hopefully they won’t get sunburned just from walking to the mailbox like I did as a kid!
We’ve had two day trips to the lake so far this summer, one a couple of weeks ago, and one just yesterday. It’s only an hour away from home, so a day trip is easier than an overnight trip for us right now. Both times, we had some trouble with naps. When we’re at home, EK takes one big afternoon nap most days- she’s trying to drop it and I say, “Heck no!” because we all need a little break, right? J still takes several naps throughout the day. Anyway, on both trips, EK fell asleep watching a movie in Hubby’s mom’s bed (not at ALL typical) because she wouldn’t go to sleep the way she normally does (sippy of warm milk, blanket, kisses and leave her alone to sleep). J was so excited with everyone and all the sunshine that he would only nap if someone was holding him (typically he lays in his crib just fine for at least 45 minutes, and sometimes 2 hours depending on the time of day). So naturally, by the time we had dinner, took the evening boat ride, and packed into the car, it was meltdown city for the first half of the drive, and passed out kiddos for the second half, throwing off any semblance of a bedtime schedule we had left. But hey- this is going to be our summer, so we will figure it out! We have such a fun time that honestly, it doesn’t bother us that much.
Here are a few more photos from the trips:
Photo credit for the photos in this post goes to my fabulous father-in-law!
Do you have any swim wear recommendations? Suggestions for balancing rest and play on a day trip? We need to hear them!
Here’s a little background information on EK to make this story a little cuter.
As soon as she started sleeping through the night, she started sleeping late. I mean… really late. There were times she’d sleep till 10:30am. It didn’t even ruin her nap for her to do it! She’s always been a great sleeper. This (calendar) year, she has gotten a brother, moved to a big girl bed, and stopped sleeping so late. The “spring forward” really screwed us big time. What had been happening was she’d wake up around 7 or 7:30, roll around a little, play with her animals a little, and fall back asleep. I was always gone for work, and Hubby sleeps hard and sleeps late, so he wouldn’t hear her if she wasn’t making a LOT of noise.
When she moved to a big girl bed (it’ll take a whole post to explain how that went down), at first she didn’t even realize she could get out by herself. She did pretty much the same thing she had done in her crib. But soon, I knew she’d figure it out. She typically gets up, comes and gets in the bed with Hubby and me, rolls around, brings in 17 books and reads them, plays on our phones, and MAYBE goes back to sleep for a few minutes. If it’s before 6:45 or so, I put her back in her bed and tell her to try to get back to sleep. Often, she is content to lay quietly with us and snuggle till we get up. Sometimes, she’s running around the house, screaming like a banshee, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeat! Foooooooooood! Juuuuuuuuuuuuice!” I don’t know where she gets her food-related impatience from. *bats eyes*
This morning, J got up a little earlier than usual, about 7. He typically sleeps till 8. His sleeping hasn’t been as good this past week, because he’s rolling to his belly, and then can’t get back over to his back. So I went in, changed his diaper, and hunkered down in the (La-Z-Boy) nursing chair with my coffee and a book to nurse him back to sleep. Usually if he’s up early, the first time he eats he’ll snooze a little longer. After a few peaceful minutes, I hear EK’s door open. Pitter patter… Pitter patter. J’s door opens; a tiny face peeks in. Cue her face-wide grin that I can’t get enough of.
She tiptoes over to us, points, and says, “Baby!” because it’s the only thing she will call J. She scratches her chest (I think she gets it from Hubby), looks down, realizes her pajamas were actually just a t-shirt last night, and looks up at me in surprise. This is where it gets really cute: she throws up her index finger, in the “I have an idea!” way, says “Pants!” and runs out of the room. She comes back in with a pair of pants she’s been dying to wear that are still too big (long-waisted, skinny gal that my daughter is).
Trying to distract her from the pants so I can hide them again, I tell EK to bring me a diaper and wipes so I can freshen her up. J is too distracted now to nurse anyway – he’s a typical lazy guy. She brings me these items, and also the pants (how does she keep getting them?!) so I go ahead and change her diaper and put on the giant pants. Then I have an idea: What if I can find a makeshift belt? She’d be so happy! The first thing I think of is ribbon – no way, packed up in the basement, and it only comes out at Christmas. Then I spot a Mardi Gras-style beaded necklace on the floor. I grab it, and wind it through the loops on the too-big, turquoise jeans with anchors, because my daughter is super trendy. Immediately, I see on her face (“Belt! Belt!”) that I’ve made her morning. She hasn’t even asked me for juice yet, so I know I’ve been blowing her mind with this belt thing. Honestly, it didn’t even work (there’s still a huge gap), but she’s got shiny beads attached to her favorite pants she’s never been able to wear. So what does she do? Go running and yelling into our bedroom to show a snoozing Hubby her new belt.
This, folks, is the reason I wanted to stay home with my kids, at least for a little while, at least while they’re tiny. When I have to be at school at 7:30 and I have late sleepers, I miss these cute morning antics. Mornings are the most easygoing hours for most kids, and I’ve been so sad to miss what happens. Hubby is great about sending me sweet photos of morning snuggles, playtime, or silly breakfast happenings. But I am so blessed that we have decided I can stay home and experience them for myself. A teacher friend of mind gave me the best advice I’ve heard yet: “You’ll never regret staying home with those babies. Even if you have to eat pork and beans for dinner every night, you’ll never regret a minute.” So yes. I’m doing it. And I’m a happy mama.