Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy birthday, Maleah!

We celebrated another fantastic year with the little girl who made me a mommy.

Looking back, I chuckle.  I always dreamt of having children.  There was never any doubt in my mind that if God allowed us children, being a mom would be my full time job and this was my heart's desire.  Then, we had Maleah.  She was perfect and we fell in love.  But, it was hard.  I cried for days after she was born.  It was an ugly time, and something I couldn't pinpoint my feelings on.  I loved my baby, but for this I wasn't prepared.  Then, she became a toddler who gave her cousin scars because of her fierce personality.  And, I cried for days.  It was hard and I wasn't prepared.  Now, I cry because I am so proud.  It is still really hard, but seven years later I am able to look back and thank God for the guidance, and Maleah for the grace, in figuring out how to be a mom.

I'm so proud, because when I pick up Maleah from church, library, or school, I am told what a gem she is.  I'm proud because she lets everybody else go first, gives all her candy and money away, and loves to hosts guests.  I am proud because she is a hard worker.  But, I am most proud because while she excels in school and is so generous, she doesn't talk about it or frankly even care.  It's just a part of who she is.

Is my girl perfect?  Oh goodness, no.  There are plenty of things her little seven year old self is working on.  But, she is becoming quite the fine little lady.

At seven years old, she is starting to love volleyball, biking, and rollerblading.  She got an American Girl doll this year, and that was quite a rite of passage.  She is becoming more independent and introverted, but still enjoys to be with her people.  She is more serious, but loves a good time.  She is very tall and very strong.

Being a mom is different than I thought it would be.  It's better.  While every year I feel a little grief come over me as they are one more year closer to leaving the nest, more than ever I am loving this season.  My seven year old and I have great conversations, are able to do things together, and seeing her become who she is replaces the sadness with an overwhelming amount of joy.

I am so incredibly grateful God gave us Maleah Faith and has navigated seven years as we figure out how to parent this precious child.  Though hard, unknown territories are always ahead with the first born, what a joy it has been.  I say year seven is the sweetest yet!

Happy birthday, my girl!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the baby pool.

Ruby got a baby pool for her birthday.  We blew it up the other day, and good thing we had a super fun afternoon splashing around, because by the next morning it was deflated to nothing.  I have yet to find a good, inflatable pool.  Sigh.

These four thought they were in hog heaven.  Something so simple, and they thought it was so marvelous.  I love that.

That right there is what they call a snot bubble.  Hilarious!
Totally didn't mean to snap a photo of it, but there it is!  Ha!

I *love* Charlie's face in this photo.

I was the cherry keeper.  They ate an entire container of these beauties.
Sweet summertime.
Fun in the sun!  We are loving it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our day with Lauren.

Our close family friends, the Weimer's, are celebrating their Lauren's 16th birthday this week.  Instead of one big sha-bang, Erin had the brilliant idea of 16 days of fun/surprises/celebrations for Lauren.  Yesterday, I had the privilege of hosting the birthday day.

The kids and I put our heads together and tried to be really intentional.  We love our Lauren, and we wanted her to feel really special.  We were all so excited, and the day did not disappoint.  It was fantastic.

After picking up our special guest, we headed to Panera.  Then, I gave her the option of five different crafts.  She is a super artsy girl who loves crafting.  I, am a wannabe.  I promised I would try.  :)  After picking out our project, we headed to Hobby Lobby to shop for supplies.  Next, we went to get Lauren her gift, a locket with charms inside of it.  She picked a paint pallet, cross, piece of luggage, cross, and flower.  All these things fit Lauren to a T.  We stopped at the junk store in town where she found an awesome deal for her new bedroom, then headed home to start our work.

With mod podge opened, wooden letters laid over paper, our scrap paper picked out, tunes on, and ambitious spirits, we started...and we came to a screeching halt about that quick.  We were rolling in laughter, frustrated beyond frustrated, and giggling over how ridiculous our "practice" looked.  After hours of working through it, we made a pretty awesome project.

Her parents and brothers came out for smoked meat and her favorite cake, and the day was complete.

Charlie and Lauren having their snack; a favorite dip of Lauren's.

Girls, girls, girls!  They adore Lauren.  I think she's pretty great too.

Ready to craft!  The girls painted canvases for their bedroom, and Lauren and I did mod podge over wooden letters.  I did the word "eat" for our kitchen, and Lauren did "crowned with joy" for her bedroom.

About to throw the stuff out the window!  But alas, the finished project is super cool.

Erin was so thoughtful to think of Maleah.  Our birthday girls!
We have had really great, monumental moments with the Weimer's.  And, we've seen them really struggle.  We feel so blessed to have real deal friends who let you in on it all.  My heart leaped with joy that I got to be a par at of Lauren's big week.  Seeing her so happy was the best gift of all.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Camp MusicMania

Awhile back, I was asked to teach at Camp MusicMania at UNI this summer.  I felt really honored, but really reluctant as I didn't feel qualified.  With lots of thought, I hesitantly, yet boldly, said "yes!"  I'm so glad I did.

As the camp approached, I got really nervous.  I filled in for another teacher half time with kids 4-9 grades (who wasn't done with her school year yet), and taught Creative Time for K-3 grades.  Creative Time was my deal, meaning I had to come up with my own activities or use that time however I wanted.  I was wondering why in the world I agreed to this!

But, the first morning of camp, all the energy had me flying high.  230 kids excited and eager to sing, dance, and learn was awesome.

After a glitch the first day with scheduling rooms, and in that, having to manage about 75 little kids in a teeny room, all went wonderfully.  And, much to my surprise, my favorite was the big kids!  I've learned a lot about my preferences and strengths this past year.  Who woulda known.

Maleah and Layla were able to attend as campers, and had a great time.  It was long for Layla, and reassured me that half time Kindergarten is superb.  Her favorite was art, and Maleah loved all the music.  Charlie and Ruby did awesome between grandmas and babysitters.  I was really anxious about being gone so much that week, but everyday Charlie wasn't ready for me to be back so soon. Thanks, buddy.

What I learned most is that my heart is at home.  While teaching for one week was so fun and something I hope to do again, I was tired.  And when I'm tired, my family gets the least of me.  I was done everyday by 2:30, but still getting supper on the table, doing everyday housework, and giving the kids' the attention they deserve of their mom was hard.  All good things, but even too many good things are bad.  I probably suffered the most, between exhaustion and guilt.  The kids all seemed to soar right along as if all was right in their world.  :)

I am so thankful for the experience at camp.  The program was wonderful!  The campers were delightful.  And I learned a lot that I'm excited to implement into the next year at TC.

After dragging my feet, I am so glad I said, "yes!"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ruby is ONE!

Woofta!  I'm behind on here again.  I could say we are busy, that I forget, it's not priority, or that the computer is in the basement and I never get down here.  All of the above are true.

There's a lot to catch up on, but the most important thing that happened in the last couple weeks?!

Our baby turned ONE!

It seems like she was just born, yet like she has been here forever.  She is our Rubsies, our little jewel, our Joy Joy, our baby, and we absolutely adore her.  She is busy, feisty, and into everything, just as a one-year-old should be (and can I say a one-year-old is exhausting?!).  She brings a lot of life into our day, and for that we are ever so grateful!

The minute I met her, I loved her to pieces.  As a mom, it is indescribable how fiercely you love someone you literally just laid eyes on.  The connection is so deep and the love so intense.  Being a mom is such a gift, one I never want to take for granted.  So, even with an exhausting one-year-old, she is ours.  And she is one.  And that is worth so much.  We love our Ruby Joy.

I will never forget when the kids first saw their baby sister.  Seeing the big kids is such an emotional time for me.  It's bittersweet, until they make it completely sweet.  They instantly loved every little bit of her being, too.

And lastly, seeing my love with his babies makes me fall in love with him over and over and over again.  The birth of Ruby was very untimely.  And, I'm not going to lie, it was hard between Dallas and I.  But, we are a team, and I couldn't' have chosen a better companion in life to raise these little rascals with then my main man.

I vividly remember sitting on the bed the night she was born with all four kids and Dallas.  We were oohing and aahing over Ruby, and I was overcome with peace.  I remember feeling overwhelming thankful, and looking at the kids like 'this is my family.'  It was such a good feeling, a feeling of relief, and a feeling of confidence.  With emotion welling deep inside me, I remember thanking the Lord and thinking this is us.

Happy birthday, Ruby!  You are our precious, beautiful jewel.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sam's Club

Dallas is still in his insanely busy busy season.  He hasn't been home for any meals, so the kids and I just make do nearly every day.  Last night as Dallas crawled into bed and I was half asleep, he asked, "Marissa?  Can you please go shopping tomorrow and get some food?"  I died laughing.  He noticed making do is hardly even getting the job done these days.

So, this morning I took a BIG trip to Sam's Club.  As in, two carts trip.  Like, $600 trip.  Couldn't see over my cart trip.  Yes, it was big.

We only go to Sam's two to three times a year, but when we do we stock up.  Thankfully we have the largest deep freezer you've ever seen (we joke the house was built around it), so it allows me to buy enough frozen fruit and waffles to last awhile.

One lady said to me, "I've never seen a cart so full."  Thanks for stating the obvious, Ma'am.  I responded, "I'll be glad I don't have to spend my summer at the grocery store."  Also obvious.

On the way home, I told Dallas that the first one to make the statement, "There's nothing to eat!" will starve for the day and then some.

I love Sam's.  Buying in bulk is therapeutic.  The end.