"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

I might not like carving pumpkins much, but I DO LIKE seeing lots of "pumpkins" in costumes!

We had a fun night!

Our kids are growing up. . . only 2 of them chose to dress up!  The rest are "too big."

 Brenna chose to be a beautiful, sparkling witch.
 Joshua was a firefighter!
 They were seriously cute!
 We had supper and then went "trunk-or-treating" with Joshua's "God family."
 Don't you just love it when you LOVE your kids' friends?
Joshua is pictured with his buddy, Drew.
While I waited for Joshua Gebeyehu to come home, I dreamed of these boys being friends. . . 
and that dream came true.

I am SO thankful!
 Brenna and Cam also have a treasured friendship.
We are doubly blessed.
 Last year Joshua did not like candy.
Last year all the costumes FREAKED him out.

As you can see, a year has changed all that!
His bucket was quickly filled!
(I think he may have eaten his weight in candy today.)

AND, he was SO excited to put on his costume.
Joshua was SO proud to be a firefighter!
He rarely talks to new people, but he told ANYONE who asked that he was going to be a firefighter for Halloween!
He happily said "trick-or-treat" and "thank you" to plenty of strangers tonight with joy and confidence.

So did he!
He was still smiling at bedtime!

Until we read a book and said prayers that is . . .
at that point he was fast asleep!

Being a firefighter is HARD work!
Joshua was fast asleep before his head even hit the pillow tonight.

Mah tah, mah tah!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

One Tradition I Dread

Typically I love traditions, but there is one I detest.

Pumpkin carving!

Shhhhh!!!!! Don't tell my kids!

I try! I really do, but it just is not my thing.

First of all, pumpkin goo is gross
and messy
and slimy
and gets all over everything.

Then there is the carving part.
Kids with knives?
So wrong!
(And yes. I do have the cute little plastic kit. Even those knives freak me out!)

That said,
enjoy a few pics of my kids carving pumpkins!

 (you have to admit that goo is yucky)
 (see Sierra agrees)
 (Brenna does make a super cute jack-o-lantern)
Ahhhh!  I am so happy to be done with pumpkin carving for another year!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Going to Bed Hungry

Our pastor called for a 30 hour fast this weekend.  30 hours of fasting from something in preparation for a fund-raising dinner our church will host tomorrow, October 30.  30 hours of doing without something, in remembrance of the millions that go without true necessities day in and day out.

Each member of our household (minus Joshua) chose something different to fast from.  Brenna chose snack food, Sierra the telephone, Jamison gave his video games a rest, Krissy drank no caffeine, Chad stayed away from TV and the internet.  I  chose to fast from food.

It has been an interesting day.  I have never been hungry before.  I have never gone without food except when I had the flu.  Feeling hungry is totally foreign.  In all reality, I am not experiencing true hunger.  I have had water, juice, and coffee today.  I am fully hydrated.  I have had some calories and the caffeine my body craves.  I have had much, much more than a truly hungry person.

Yet, I have had the tiniest feel for what it is like to NOT eat when others are.

I will go to bed hungry.  Wake up hungry.  Go to church hungry.  Sing songs of worship hungry.  Take communion hungry.

I do not even begin to understand what a life of hunger feels like.  I can not fathom denying my children food.  The thought alone brings tears to my eyes.

So tonight as I prepare for bed hungry, knowing I will wake hungry and NOT be able to eat (by my choice), my heart identifies with millions across the globe just the slightest bit more.  I can not imagine this being my life.  I know tomorrow at noon I will eat.  I know I will eat again at supper and then breakfast and then . . . I have NO fear of ACTUAL hunger.  Yet, choosing hunger, going without a basic need, makes the plight of many just the tiniest bit more real.  (and my check tomorrow the tiniest bit bigger)

Father god, thank you that I an choosing hunger, but not truly hungry.  Thank you for the abundance you have provide me.  I am truly undeserving.  I do not know why I have much while other have nothing.  Help me to use my much for Your glory.  Be with the many who sleep hungry tonight.  Feed them stomach and soul.  Please God, please.

No More Curfew

Chad and I went on a date last night! It was the first time we had been out without a "curfew" since Joshua came home!

Our "curfew" for the past 17 mo. has been Joshua's bedtime. Because bedtime had been a time when Joshua was particularly fragile, we have always made sure that one of us was here to put him to bed.  So if we went out, we either went out early so that we were home for bath and bedtime - or we went out after Joshua had gone to bed for the night. Our "curfew" was a great transitional plan.  Joshua Gubs learned that he could feel safe (and even have fun) without mom and dad.  And mom and dad were able to get out once in a while.

However, the time had come!  We knew that Joshua was capable of going to bed without us home.  We also know that because Chad and I have a business trip planned for February that will take us both out of town for 5 nights, Joshua needed to start practicing going to bed without us.  So we enlisted Krissy to help.

I "booked" Krissy about a month ago when I bought tickets for a concert.  I told her that we were going to go out on a "real" date.  I would pay her to babysit, and that she would be putting JOshua to bed.  She replied, "I'm gonna die!"  Then she laughed and entered the job into her calendar.

We did not start talking to Joshua about it until this week.  At first he got really sad.  He nearly tearfully told me, "I only like mommy or daddy put me to bed."  I simply reassured him.  When he started to panic and obsess over it, we would change the subject.

One day when I reminded him that Friday Krissy would be putting him to bed, he got really mad.  He yelled at me, "NO! NO! I NOT like that!"  I just hugged him and reminded him that sometimes we have to do things we do not want to do.  When he started to panic and obsess, we changed the subject.

Yesterday, we talked about it a lot.  I told him how exciting it is that he is BIG enough to have Krissy to put him to bed.  He was quiet.  Not excited, but more accepting.  I suggested he tell Ashlee.  He told me "no way."

When I told Ashlee anyway, he said "I not want talk about that."  However Joshua was really intrigued when Ashlee told him that Krissy will be putting Drew and Cam to bed next weekend.  She told him they think it is fun to have a babysitter sometimes.

After that he stopped panicking.  He was not excited, but I did not hear any more panic or complaints.  He waved happily when we left.

He ate supper nicely.  Then he had a major meltdown when Krissy told him it was time for bath.  It was ugly.  Kicking, spitting, tears and timeout.  Eventually, he chilled out.

Krissy read to him, prayed with him, sang to him, and he FELL ASLEEP before she even laid him in his bed!

He slept until 6:30 this morning.  Then he climbed into my bed and we slept until 8:40 together!  

When he woke up, I told him how proud I was of him.  He told me, "JOshua was a little bit naughty... kicking... spitting... Krissy put me timeout."

I responded that I was glad Krissy put him in timeout because we never kick in out family.  Then I reminded him that I was really, really happy and proud that he settled down and went to bed nicely.

He grinned around his thumb and said, "I did it!"

Sooooo after a few more practices with Krissy or Grandma putting him to bed, Chad and I are going away for the weekend!  Can you even imagine such a thing?

Lucky for us, it will truly be necessary!  With JOshua everything needs to move in baby steps, so in order for him to be emotionally OK when we go away for a week in February, we will need to go away for a night or two first.  It is essential that we continually prove to him that we will go sometimes but we always come back.

Once in a while these baby steps get really old.  I want to just go and not be so careful.  It is not natural for me.  However, they have been so worth it!  Joshua has become so confident, so brave, so self-assured.  Fear no longer rules his heart.  Love and trust are blooming.

So just a few more "baby steps" will be so worth it!  Just a few more "baby steps" and I think the attachment tango will come to an end.  Just a few more "baby steps" and he will be so attached, so confident, so trusting, that his heart will feel secure even when mommy and Daddy are in Hawaii. 

Thank you God that you have not created Joshua Gebeyehu with a spirit of fear, but with a spirit of sonship.  Thank you that love, trust, confidence... sonship now rule in his heart.  And thank you God for the amazing older sister that Krissy is.  She is such a blessing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hi-Tech Babysitter

This afternoon, Jamison helped Joshua call Grammy on the telephone.  Little did any of us realize that Joshua is rather long-winded on the telephone!  He talked and talked and talked!

In fact, he talked SO long that I got the table set and a company credit card bill entered into my computer while he was entertained by Grammy!  Poor Grammy!  Three year olds are a bit hard to follow on the phone!  BUt Joshua sure had fun!

I also have to report that in the last 9 days, Joshua has only woken up one time over night!  He is sleeping SO well!  It is really wonderful!  Sleep has always been an issue for JOshua Gubs, the least bit of stress causes immediate (lack of) sleep issues.  We can usually predict what time he will sneak into our bed based on how much stress he endured during a day.  So the fact that he is sleeping so  perfectly in his own bed, tells me his heart is content!  Ahhhhh!

If that were not enough, he asked me to "please put me mah tah mah tah (his only remaining Ethiopian words)" at 7:15 tonight.  I told him it was pretty early, but he insisted he was tired!  He was, too!  He fell asleep on my lap before we were done saying prayers and singing our bedtime song!

Can you even believe it?!?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Silly Siblings!

Brenna and Joshua wore matching outfits today.
(Their idea.)

They suggested a silly sibling photo shoot,
here are the results!

I hope you shared smiles, snuggles, and giggles with someone you love this weekend, too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

My "I deserve this" Moment

Yesterday did not end well.

Thursday is my day "off" from my church job.  BUT, it is my day "on" at Chad's business.  So I am not really off, I just get to work with Joshua in tow (big smile)!

Yesterday, all my kids were home because they had a school holiday.  I LOVE having my kids home!  The morning was delightful!  I had worked ahead some for Chad and because I was waiting on a check to arrive in the mail, I was feeling "caught up."  So I felt great about spending the morning making breakfast and hanging with the kids.  Sierra had an ortho. appointment.  We all went to the shop for me to do some filing, and then we went off to a "quick" hair appointment for Sierra and Brenna.  That is where my day started to break down.

That "quick" hair appointment, took 2.15 hours!  Seriously!  I spent 2.15 hours in a salon with 4 (hungry) children.  I had scheduled the girls at the same time, with different stylists, thinking we would be in and out in 45 minutes tops.  WRONG!  By the end of that hair experience, I was stressed!  I needed to feed my kids, get to the bank, pay a pile of bills, run payroll, go to the post office, make supper, pick up the house...

The remainder of the afternoon went surprisingly well.  My house was totally trashed, but I got most of the computer work done that I needed to for Chad's business. Sure, the house was a mess, supper only half done, I needed to get to the bank and post office, but... I was feeling like I may just survive.

Until poor Chad got home.

Chad walked in the door and asked, "What was the deal with the garbage all over the garage?"

I quickly apologized because I had let the dog out earlier and he had gotten into it.  I had not had time to clean it up yet.

He said, "Oh." 

My heart heard, "What have you been doing all day? You left garbage all over the garage for me to clean up?!"

Then he politely asked, "How long is Sierra's friend staying?"

I responded, "Her mom works until 6.  I thought she would rather be here than home alone."

He said, "Oh"

My heart heard, "I am tired of extra kids and extra chaos.  Why did you not bring her home earlier?"

Then I asked Chad, "Could you run this check to the bank tomorrow?"

He said, "I thought you would have gotten that done today, but I guess I can."

My heart heard, "What do I pay you for anyway?  What DID you do all day?  My home is a mess, supper is not done, there are children everywhere, and you did not even get your paid work done?!"

Because my heart, my stress, and my insecurities were talking much louder than my mind OR Chad's words, I lashed out.  (At Chad of course, lucky man that he is to be married to me.)  I grumped about how I can never do anything good enough for him.  I stomped off to the bank and post office.  I peeled potatoes for our late supper with jerky, angry slices.  I set the table noisily.  I ate sulkily.

I was so incredibly frustrated because I CAN NOT do it all.  My house does not run as smoothly now as it did before I went back to work.  I work all.the.time.  There is always laundry, always bills, always counters to wipe, baths to give, homework to do, kids to council, emails to return, documents to prepare, a phone to answer, a fight to settle... I just wanted a day off, some time to myself, a bit of quiet, a long run.

Then I read this,
 "I sometimes got caught up in "I deserve this" moments; I still have moments when I compare myself with other people and trick myself into believing I am doing pretty well.  There are still moments when I believe I should be able to relax and do nothing some afternoon, instead of taking care of one more sick person.  There are moments when I think that because I worked hard all day, I deserve to be able to sit down and eat my food instead of answering the door for one more person who needs help.
The truth is that these thoughts are not scriptural. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that I deserve a reward here on earth.  Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart." It does not end in "and after this hard work you deserve a long hot bath and some 'me time.'"  It does end with, "since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."

(Those words were written by 22 year old Katie Davis in her book "Kisses from Katie."  Katie is living in Uganda.  Her ministry, that she began as a 19 year old, sends 400 children to school, feeds thousands,and  provides medical care for as many as possible. Katie has 13 adopted daughters.  She spends all day... every day ... feeding, clothing, nursing, loving, teaching, cooking, cleaning, etc as she ministers to thousands in Uganda.  I hope that some day, I will be as spiritually mature as this amazing 22 year old woman.)

Those words hit me right between the eyes.  I do spend all day... every day... serving.  My "to do list" will never be done.  But that is what I am here to do!

God created us to be his hands and feet.  He created us to love and serve in his name.  The culture in which I live tells me that I deserve a nap, a massage, and a nice dinner out - not Him.  He blesses me in all kinds of crazy, surprising ways!  Sometimes those blessings do come as a dinner out, or coffee with a friend.  Those blessings are not bad, they are good gifts - but they are also not "rights!"

My job, my mission, my purpose is to serve and serve and serve with love!

Hopefully, today will be a better day.  Hopefully, today I will remember my purpose.  Hopefully, today I will serve with His love in a way that makes Him proud.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

One of the things I hope this blog does is preserve a but of (OK so maybe a lot of) the normal stuff that makes our family... our family.  Even though I do not love to cook, I recognize that food is a memory maker.  So once in a while I record a favorite family recipe.

This is one Chad and I favor.

Cajun Chicken Pasta:
2 boneless chicken breasts
2T olive oil
1 can black olives, sliced
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder (or more)
2 tsp cajun seasoning
1 sweet red pepper (or use a roasted red pepper from a jar)
1 sm. can mushrooms, sliced
3 cups half and half
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 lb of your favorite pasta

Cube chicken.  Cook chicken and all the spices in olive oil.  When chicken is nearly cooked, add peppers, mushrooms, and olives.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink. Reduce heat.  Add half and half and parmesan.  Heat through.  Add (cooked) noodles and toss.

If you do not like spicy food, be careful of the cajun seasoning.

And Brenna, yes I do realize you HATE mushrooms!  They are in there for me, sweety.  Thanks for picking them out so politely!  Remember how I always make this with cheesy garlic toast?  THAT is for you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

From Surviving to Thriving!

I believe that children need and deserve to THRIVE not just simply survive. 

After 6 weeks in his first day care, it was evident that Joshua was not thriving.  While he was doing OK at drop off... he knew what was expected and behaved as I and the provider asked.  He was not eating or drinking while there.  He was not attaching to her (or she to him).  He was lethargic when I picked him up each day.  His speech was increasingly difficult to understand, by the end of each day care day he was stuttering terribly.  As the weeks went by he was sleeping more and more poorly at home, and I was seeing some "survival" behaviors come back into play.

I was honestly not sure what to do.  I was not sure if he was struggling because being separated from me was something he was not yet capable of, or if he was just NOT in the right place for him. 

Then God gave me a huge clue.  Joshua had been attending our church's midweek kids program for about 4 weeks.  He was familiar with one of the teachers but not the other.  The first week, I went down with him, stayed for a bit, and then left.  He did great and had FUN!  By the fourth week, he raced off with his teachers and went to his room without a backward glance to me.  He participated in class.  He ate a snack... and it was something he had never tried before!  He went potty and allowed the teacher to help him button his pants.  He ran by me after class, told me a quick and happy story, gave me a  hug, and then sprinted off to play with his friends.  When it was time to leave, I asked if he would like to say good-bye to his teachers.  He went to hug first Sharlene, who he has known forever, and then he found and hugged Lorie, who he has known for 4 weeks.  His behavior was all totally, completely typical.  It was exactly what I would expect from any child his age.  So, I knew he could do it.  He could be away from me and THRIVE.

I knew at that moment that I would not bring him back to day care #1.

But what would we do?!?

Try not to freak out... and pray.

I set up tours at several preschool/day care centers.  There is one I really liked, but they really did not have the right spot for our/Joshua's needs.  I was tempted to make it work... really, really tempted.  But I forced myself to wait.  I had a screening set up with becep, a couple more facilities to tour, and an overwhelming (although unwanted) sense that I needed to wait on God.

Then a facebook post led me to find out that one of my very best friends was considering doing some child care.  Joy and relief do not even begin to explain what I was feeling in that moment.  If Joshua did not do well at Kristen's house, I would know that he was simply incapable of being away from me while I worked.  He knew Kristen, trusted Kristen, and liked Kristen.  More importantly, I knew, loved, and trusted Kristen.  Most importantly she already knew and understood Joshua (past and present) better than almost anyone outside of Chad and myself.

When I hung up the phone and told Joshua he was going to go to Kristen's house the following Monday while mommy went to work, he belly laughed.  For real!  He laughed and laughed with total relief and glee.  Then he said, "I will eat at Kristen's house!  Kristen's food is really, really yummy! I love it Kristen's house!"

Monday morning he was a little worried.  He did think maybe he should pack a sandwich, but I reassured him. And he relented.  When I dropped him off,  he was so happy, totally excited to play and explore.

However, for me the highlight of my entire day (my entire week, really!) was picking him up.  When I arrived he was so happy!  He had all kinds of enthusiasm and energy!  He had lots to share with me, including the fact that he had eaten a HUGE lunch!  And his speech... it was absolutely the same as if he had been with me all day!  He was so comfortable at Kristen's house that he even took a nap one day!

The entire week was filled with happiness AND sweet Kristen even sent me some super cute pictures of my happy boy via text during the day!  Here is the "evidence" that our little man was absolutely thriving last week:

Seeing him so happy and so loved made my week!
Gratitude would be an understatement!

As is Joshua's week was not wonderful enough, on Thursday he had his first ever "Grammy day!"
Grammy was off work, and she and Joshua spent the day together!

He was SO excited!  Maybe too excited... as he was up well before 6 wishing it was time to leave for Grammy's house!  I was totally spoiled with pictures this week!  Here are a few Grammy sent me of her day with Joshua:

Joshua's favorite part of the day was driving this "car" and

snuggling Grammy's "puppies!"
(Never thought I would see that day!  Even Joshua laughs now about how scared he once was of dogs!)

The final bit of encouragement I received this was week was through a screening at our local becep. I had asked them to observe Joshua and listen to his speech.  I know very little about speech path. and wanted to see if his stuttering was something we should have expert help with or not.  I am also aware that his small motor skills are still 9 -12 mo. delayed.  I have not been concerned about the small motor delays.  I felt confident that they are not based in any sort of disability.  They are simply the result of inexperience.  Yet with the speed that kids are expected to grow up these days, I thought I better visit with early childhood experts and make sure they agreed with my momma expertise. 

It was a very encouraging meeting.  They totally agreed with my fine motor assessment and wanted to steer clear of any special therapy or an IEP of any kind before we gave Joshua time to cut, color, paint, sort, glue, etc on his own.  So we will have a rich "curriculum" at home, and we all expect that he will gain as much ground in his small motor skills as he has in his large motor. 

As far as speech goes, they recommended time and patience in this area as well.  They suggested that we as a family make an effort to slow our speech down.  They have noted that some children begin stuttering because they are forcing themselves to speak as rapidly as the rest of the family (If my dad still reads my blog, he will be laughing here. I have certainly been accused of rapid speech before.)  Sometimes kids begin stuttering because they are trying to slip in and speak before a sibling gets his/her chance (also another big possibility.)  As long as there are not secondary characteristics along with the stuttering and it does not cause him to be frustrated, they said we should just wait it out a while.  We were also instructed not to imitate his stuttering, make fun of it, speak for him, or rush his speech. (This much we were already doing, but reinforcement is always helpful.) 

As this week ended, I felt like we were finally headed in the right direction again!

I am so, so, soooooo thankful.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Mom, we have Nothing to eat!"

Last night several of my kids were "starving!"  They were watching TV after supper and "NEEDED" a snack. "Desperately!"

I heard them foraging around in the fridge.  Then I heard them digging around in the pantry.  Soon I heard the fridge open again.  I walked into the kitchen to see if they needed any help, and I was greeted with, "MOM! You HAVE to buy groceries!  There is NOTHING to eat!"

So I peaked into the pantry, and this is what I saw:

trail mix, applesauce, granola bars, animal crackers...

Then I opened the fridge and discovered:

apples, yogurt, sandwich meat, cheese...

I mentioned these choices to the kids.  They responded, "Well, yeah... we did see all that but I'm just not hungry for any of that..."

I responded, "Could you even imagine being hungry enough to eat WHATEVER is in the fridge?"

They gave me an honest answer.  They said, "No.  And I do not want to find out."  (Might sound sassy, but in the moment it was just honest not disrespectful.)

That conversation made me thing of this video:

I'm thankful that my kids are aware of how lucky they are.  I am thankful that they are willing to serve.  But still we struggle with themes of entitlement... all of us, not just my kids... me too.

Gratitude is not natural but when practiced it changes everything!  We are all a work in progress!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Consumed By Hunger

For the last week, I have been absolutely consumed by hunger.  Not that I have been hungry... I have been consumed by thoughts of the hungry. 

I have spent hours researching the statistics.  They are sobering.
  • 925 million people in the world are hungry
  • which means 1 in 7 people world wide will go to bed tonight hungry
  • 12 million people are STARVING in the horn of Africa
  • Hunger is the BIGGEST health problem in the world.
  • A child dies every 12 seconds of hunger related causes.
Though they are sobering, sad, unfathomable; these statistics are not new to me.  I have heard the numbers before.

What has truly consumed me in a brand new way, is how little I know personally about being hungry.  I have never been hungry for more than a couple of hours.  In all honesty, I have never been hungry enough to eat whatever is in the fridge.  (How many times have you dug through your refrigerator or pantry and decided that there was "nothing to eat?") I have never had a truly empty refrigerator, pantry, or freezer.  I have lived on a tight enough budget that I chose items carefully at the grocery store, but I have never had to live on rice or beans or cereal alone.  I have never looked into the eyes of my child and explained to them that we will not eat today.  (That one just cuts me to the bone.)  I have never spent my whole day searching for food and water for my family.  I have never...

In the last week, the plight of the millions of hungry, the hundreds of thousands of starving has entered my heart in a new way.  I have chosen to feel their pain at a new more personal level.  I have really thought about how it would feel to try and nurse my baby, but be unable because I was starving and know my baby was too.  I have considered how it would feel to look into the gaunt, lifeless eyes of my children, knowing I was unable to provide for their most basic of needs - food.  I have put myself, with my five children huddled close, in the line waiting for... hoping for food at a refugee camp.  I have truly put myself in the shoes of a single parent fully realizing that the only way to spare my son's life was to give him up.

To be honest, I wish I had not.  Hunger is more manageable when it is simply statistics.

However, I tend to act in a far more compassionate manner when God gets to my heart. (sigh)

There is one statistic that I find particularly interesting.  Did you know that there IS enough food in the world to feed everyone?  There is NO REASON that people are starving to death.

I wonder sometimes if God is testing us "haves."  If He is waiting to see if we will share all that we have... all He has given.  We know about the problem.  Will we chose to be a part of the solution?  Will we be generous, or selfish?  Will we reach out, or turn a blind eye?

We know what He desires.  We know what will make Him proud.

But do we care enough about what He thinks to act?

I can not change the whole world, but I can choose to make this day better for a few.  I can do what I can do, and trust Him to use my service, my funds, my prayers, my words for His purpose and His glory.

You can too.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Post with NO Mention of ANY of our Kids!

You read correctly... no mention of our kids in this post... NOT EVEN ONE!

This one is all about my handsome husband!

Chad spent the day today hunting pheasants with his Grandpa, his Uncle Jim, his Mom and her boyfriend - Dave, our Brother-in law Jeremy, our nephew Isaac, and a bunch of talented dogs!

Pheasant opener is one of the highlights of the year for Chad, and thanks to our sister Teresa, I have some beautiful photos to document his adventure!

Here he is with his Uncle Jim and his Grandpa,
2 of his favorite men in all of life.

(I love this picture Teresa!)

Riley dog did a good job today!
He has matured so much... listening is no longer super difficult!

(As for the photo, Sierra says we need to order it as HUGE canvas. She may just be right!  Although I prefer people pictures, this one is particularly magnificent!)

The entire hunting party (left to right)
Jeremy and Murphy (dog), Jim, Lacey (dog), Grandpa Hoff, Isaac, Dave, Chad, and Riley (dog)

I think their smiles say it all!

Guess what we are having for dinner?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jay's Final Race

Jamison ran his final cross country race today.

It was the WDA Championship, the biggest race of the Middle School Season.

We road tripped 4 hours to watch Jay race today!
I'm so glad we did!

We arrived in time to watch the High School kids race.
I loved it, but our "shorter" spectators got a little distracted!
Wrestling is always a good way to kill time.

When they noticed me snapping pictures, Joshua and Sierra paused to pose.

Wrestling was resumed very quickly... this time with Daddy tickles added in for extra fun.

Eventually Joshua took a little snuggle break.
(yep, I loved that)

Can you tell I enjoy my kids?
They make my heart smile!

If you would look up "momma's boy" in the dictionary right now,
you would see a picture of my Joshua Gubs.
He is MY BOY to an extreme!

It was a sacrifice for daddy to be at the race today.
He loves to watch the kids do things, but today was also opening day for pheasant hunting.
I love that he chooses to put his kids first.
(Don't feel too sorry for him! He will be hunting tomorrow!)
Sierra and Joshua were "racing" while they waited.
Next year we will be watching Sierra run, too!

Joshua is all smiles as we cheer for him while he "races."

At last Jamison's race was lined up to start,
check out all those racers!

And they are off!

Jay and the group of teammates that he trains with most call themselves, "The Wolf Pack."

One of the things I love about cross country is that spectators do not sit in the stands and watch.
I love trying to see Jay at as many different spots in the race course as possible.
You have to be quick though, so Joshua has to be in his jogging stroller.
When we packed it up today, I realized it may be the last time he uses it.
By next season, he will be fast enough to keep up with his crazy momma!

Almost half-way done

Pushing through!

The finish!

Jay finished 19th today!
19th in the WDA!
We are proud of you Jamison!

It was an awesome season!
I can hardly wait for next year!

All that "racing" was hard work!
(I have a feeling that the bus full of racers was not quite as quiet as our vehicle was...)

It was a great end to a great season!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


(If you are anything like me you just noticed that the video is 12 minutes and thus decided to skip it, after all who has 12 minutes to watch a video?  I decided to take 12 minutes to watch this today.  12 minutes is a sacrifice to me.  I have not regretted it.  I don't think you will either.)

Ever been hungry?  Truly hungry?

Me either.

Ever been unable to feed your child?

Me either.

Sadly, many, many mothers look into the eyes of their children every day and are unable to offer them the comfort of food.  In fact 24,000+ children died today because of preventable stuff like malnutrition.

24,000+... died...today

Yes, seriously more than 24,000 children died today.

I try not to think about it, because when I think about it I feel totally helpless, totally insignificant.

But ignoring the fact that 1 in 5 children die before they turn 5 due to "simple stuff" like lack of nutrition only turns my feelings of helplessness into reality.  In truth, I can make a difference.  It only takes $30 or less to feed a child for a month in a developing country.  We live on a fairly tight budget, but I CAN carve $30 out of it... in honor of 1 child or 1 momma or 1 daddy.  My small will feel HUGE to them.  My small can be significant.  It will not change the world, but it will change the life of 1.

And each ONE matters.

On October 30 we are having a community dinner at my church.  All proceeds will go to feed hungry... TRULY HUNGRY, mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents in the Horn of Africa.  If you would like to combine your small with my small, please join us, and together we can make a difference for a few.

If you can not be at this dinner, I highly encourage you to send a donation of some sort to the organization of your choice.  Do not buy into the lie that small is insignificant!  If I could not feed my child, even 1 meal ($1) would feel SO SIGNIFICANT.

Some aid organizations that provide emergency food that I would recommend are:
World Vision
Food for the Hungry
(there are MANY others as well)

We can make a difference!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sierra's Turn to Race

Due to several foot injuries, Sierra has not been able to participate in the elementary cross country races this fall, until today!

 She was thrilled to be able to race in today's event, which was the final meet of her "elementary career!"
 Sierra always has a smile on her face, even mid race!
She finished 7th!

We are proud of you Sierra-girl!  And very thankful that your feet are feeling strong!  We can't wait to watch you race more next year as a Middle Schooler!