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

Friday, November 27, 2015

He Makes 8 Look Really Great!

Joshua turned 8!

He celebrated with pizza and donuts.  At his request this is the only picture taken.

But photos or not, he had a weekend.

He got to go to hockey games with Sierra.  He got to go to a movie AND have a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa.  He got the gift he really wanted from mom and dad.  He was a happy boy.

At 8, Joshua is in first grade.

Once in a while someone asks me if we "held him back."  I always, always respond, "NO!  We did not hold him back, we gave him wings!"  Though many kids in his class are younger than he is, first grade is exactly where he should be.  He is (at last) working hard at school and feeling so proud of his progress. He is trying to read all the time.  It is so encouraging and exciting!  

Though he is starting to enjoy reading, he still loves ACTIVE best.  Sports are his favorite.  He is always engaging in one competition or another with his buddies.  At home he plays soccer on the hard flooring in the living room and dining room constantly.  He also loves dart gun wars and wrestling with Jamison.

He adores TV.  His favorite show is Full House.

Playing games on his new IPad is another favorite.

He is the best big brother and uncle.  He plays patiently with the babies for hours.  He can make Wyatt laugh like no one else can.  It is precious.  And thanks to Joshua, Mataya is a champion kicker!  She is also very good with blocks because they play together often.  

Joshua loves, loves to spend time at my mom and dad's home.  He likes to work in the barn with Grandpa.  He loves their Wii.  He loves that Grandpa sleeps on one couch while he sleeps on the other and they leave the TV on all night long.  He loves that Grandma listens to all his stories and always finds him the best snacks.

He adores Sierra's boyfriend.  And he drives Sierra crazy.  Those two are so much alike that they tend to annoy each other easily - and yet they love each other deeply.  Hunter though, he can do no wrong in the eyes of Joshua.  Joshua completely idolizes the tall, kind teenager who often plays with him.

Joshua Gubs, at 8 you are funny!  You have the same cooky sense of humor that your daddy has.  You shock adults all the time with your very grown up, yet innocent, joking.  You are smart, kind, and thoughtful.  You hurt for injustice and always look out for the underdog.  You love to talk.  You give the best compliments and notice every detail, but choose to (usually) mention only the pleasant ones,  (AKA you tell me when I'm having a good hair day, but skip telling me then I have major bedhead!  Thanks buddy!)  You are well liked by all your peers.  Teachers adore you.  You are getting better at managing time.  I rarely have to rush you - even in the morning - this year.  You hate art and photos.  Your penmanship is improving.  Your reading is approaching grade level!  You are eager to learn.  I am so proud of you!  You are increasingly logical and easy to parent, though you still "bull up" once in a blue moon.  You still choose to hug me, just because.  I know that will end soon, so I savor each one.  You are a gift, my son.  I am so very thankful that God chose me to be your momma.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

 Most years I host Thanksgiving.  (Actually, I house Thanksgiving most years!  I usually do more cleaning and setting up than cooking!)  However, since I did not have a crowd at my house this year, I talked my girls into running the Turkey Trot with me!

It was COLD, as in 14*.  We nearly skipped it.  But I am sure glad we did not!  It was fun.

Sierra has not run since cross country in 8th grade.  Yep!  That was 2 years ago!  But she willed herself to run every step of the Turkey Day 5K.  She is one tough bird! (pun intended, lol!)

Brenna quickly tired of the slow pace Sierra and I chose, and she raced ahead.  Sierra and I poked along, chatting as we went.  I told her that my Thanksgiving run tradition is to go through the alphabet and list all the things I am thankful for that begin with each letter.  She chose to share in my tradition, so we did spent the first half of the run listing the things we thank God for.  The second half of the run we listed the attributes of God we are thankful for with each letter of the alphabet.  It was a precious time of sharing my heart with my daughter.  What a blessing it was that she was not in incredible shape, so she was "stuck" at my side!

We left the race and raced home to shower, throw some food together, and head to my mom's house for lunch.

My mom is an incredible cook and an even better hostess.  It is always good to be at her home.  This year we shared the day with my parents, my brother and his family, my grandparents, and my Aunt Robin and her family.  One of the highlights of my day was sitting with my cousins, Courtenay and Caitlin, at lunch.  They were stuck talking to me, since I was the only other person over age 13 at the table, and I enjoyed the time with them so very much.  They are delightful young women.

After lunch comes naps - for the guys at least!

 After a snuggle and about 100 "neigh movies" on Grandpa Scott's IPad, Mataya joined the big guys in a long, snuggle nap!
 While the guys napped and watched football, the ladies made a few crafts.  My mom always has some sort of a surprise for us.  I have not spent an afternoon around a table of ladies chatting and crafting in years.  It was delightful.

Before we knew it, it was time for turkey sandwiches, followed by long hugs, and heading home.

I must confess, though it felt weird to not have a house full, it was nice to come home to a clean house!

It was a busy day.  A busy week.  It is a busy life.  Choosing to pause and reflect on thanksgiving matters.  A thankful heart is a peaceful heart.

And peace, His perfect peace, is perhaps the deepest desire of my heart in the midst of the busy that swirls around me.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Poo Poo

This last week has been crazy.

Chad has been on a guy's hunting trip.  And because of the level of BUSY we have lived both personally and professionally this fall, I was just not feeling up to the single parenting challenge.  I wanted him to have fun. . . I really did - BUT I also wanted a nanny, a chef, a cleaning lady, and a nap.

(Suck it up, momma!  It's not about you.)

Anyway - on the very day he left, Mataya decided she would like to be potty trained.

OK - so I know I should have been thrilled, and I was . . . in a way - but this is not my first rodeo, and potty training is WAY more work than diapers. . . at first. . . and I was REALLY wishing for easy.

It all began with her brothers.

I will blame them!

Big brothers, well, they ummm. . . pass gas? fart? toot ;) sometimes.

And Mataya was intrigued by it.

So intrigued that she taught herself to fart.

Oh Yeah!  Proud momma moment there.  I am holding my darling baby girl when I feel her pushing out a fart (excuse my bluntness,  I have been a single mom for about 6 days and I don't have a lot of filter left). She smiles up at me and says proudly, "FART!!!"

I kid you not!

SO fast forward a few days.  I am going to the bathroom, under her very close supervision, of course.  (Come on.  You remember those days.  Toddler staring at you while you pee.  It's my favorite part of parenting!  Or maybe not!)  And Mataya says, "Potty!"

To which I respond, "Yes.  Mommy is going potty."

She shakes her head NO and repeats, "POTTY!"

"You want to go potty?"  I ask.

"YAH!" she says.

So, I remove her diaper and position her tiny self on the toilet.  (I don't even have a potty chair yet.  She is 20 mo. and I am not ready for this yet)

She looks at me and I get a brainstorm.  "Mataya, can you fart?"  I ask.  I'm thinking maybe she does need to use the facilities.

She grins.

And farts.

And then pees.  (again, I'm sorry.  I'm just blunt tonight.)

We throw a party - complete with dancing, singing, and high fives!

She refuses her diaper.

I let her cruise around the house naked because, quite frankly, I was tired and didn't want to wrestle her into a diaper.

Half an hour later she says, "POO POO!!!"

I race her naked buns to the nearest toilet thinking... really, this week?!?

And she potties again.

Hmmmm.  I finally decide that she just might be on to something.

So for the next four days we barricade ourselves in the house.  I let her wear unders.  I celebrate her successes.  I take her to the toilet as often as she wishes - but never force her to go.  I set no timers.  Buy no treats.  Never once plead for her to please go potty.

She just goes.

In the last week she has only had 3 accidents.  And none of them were of the #2 variety, thank you Jesus.  (And I mean that thank you very sincerely.)

As the weekend comes to a close, I feel like she has it.  We're done with diapers.

How did this happen?!?

That's my crazy TayTay girl.  Never a dull moment, and ALL things at the speed she chooses.

You, my precious baby baby, never cease to amaze me.

(On a hilarious note, I was busy one evening, so Sierra took Mataya to the potty.  Mataya is too tiny to get onto the toilet by herself, so assistance is a must.  "PooPoo!" is what she says when she needs to use the bathroom.  She tells Sierra poopoo so Sierra takes her.  Well. This time poo poo was really poo poo, and Sierra freaked at the thought of helping Mataya wipe.  I hear Sierra screaming.  I rush to assist and see Brenna frantically running away from the bathroom. At this point I expect to fond one heck of a mess inside the bathroom.  Instead I see a wide-eyed Mataya perched on the toilet looking scared and confused about all the fuss.  I walk in.  Sierra flees.  At that point Mataya says quietly to me, "poopoo?" and motions to the contents of the toilet bowl.  I quickly do our customary poopoo cheer and praise her with incredible gusto hoping to override the anxiety her squeamish sisters heaped on her.  Apparently it worked, operation poopoo potty seems to be a success.  Oh the stories these sisters will tell Miss Mataya's future boyfriends!  Life at our house is a constant adventure!)

Sweet 16

 My ever beautiful Berra-girl turned 16 last week.


This is what I shared about the above picture (via Instagram) on her birthday. "I remember this day so clearly!  You were so excited.  The purity of your sweetness took my breath away.  I was so worried the moment would be fleeting.  What I know now is that it was not.  Though you have grown into a stunningly beautiful 16 year old, your very essence remains unchanged.  Being your mom brings me so much joy. Love you Berra-girl.  So much. #sweet16"

Sierra is a unique treasure.

She shares her whole heart all of the time.
She is a spit-fire, who tells you exactly what she thinks.
She loves deep and hard and long.
She fights injustice with passion and love.
She is humble and chooses to ask for forgiveness when she realizes she is wrong.
She is a fashionista, who (lucky for me) likes to dress her mom.
She is not as confident as most people assume.
She handles socially awkward situations much better than her momma  and most other adults do.
She sings like an angel.
She is still grieving the loss of cheer and other sports.
She loves to hunt.
She adores her job with elementary children after school.
She wants to work on the mission filed in a medical occupation.
She adores science.
She is very social - but craves quiet time shut away in her room.
She is currently addicted to Grey's Anatomy.
She is the best encourager in my life.
She is a wonderful listener who often longs for people to listen to her.
She loves Jesus.
She loves, loves, loves Jesus.
She is a very deliberate sister and auntie.
And there is this boy. . .
who happened to bring her a dozen white roses on her 16th birthday.

Chad and I didn't want to like him.
After all, she's much too young for a boyfriend. . . right?

BUT, we failed.
We actually approve of our 16 year old's beau.
(That is a scary sentence to type, and I am so thankful it is true.)

Oh, Sierra.  You are such a gift.  You are my daughter that chooses to trust me with your whole heart.  That is such an incredible honor.  To be both your mom and your friend is the most incredible thing.  You know my heart like few others.  Beloved, know I pray for you constantly.  Thank you for praying for me and with me.  Life will never be easy (we just had that talk tonight) - but you need not fear.  God will always see you through.  Love you so much, Momma

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One Amazing Race

There are moments as a parent you will hold deep in your heart forever.  Those moments are treasures.  Gifts.  Blessings unlike any other.

To me, this in one of them.

It caught me totally off guard.

I had expected it to be just another race.  A fun trip to Sioux Falls for Jamison's final Nike Heartland Regional Cross Country race was all I had on my agenda.  In my mind it was to be one last party with Jamison's cross brothers.  

I was not one bit nervous that morning.  I was calm, fully present, and enjoying the day.

This meet is special.  The guys have nicknamed it Heartland.  Jamison has run in it the past three years.  The first time it was awe-inspiring.  This, the third time, it felt HUGE and special and fun, yet familiar.

There are athletes present from 7 states.  Nike hosts the event.  There are bleachers, an announcer, music pumping, a professional runner handing out trophies.  It feels like the real deal.

In the division in which Jamison and his team raced there were over 700 runners signed-up.  They split this group into two separate races of 350+ runners.  Jamison's team ran in the second race.

My dad and I watched the first race and made a plan for where on the course we would go to watch Jamison run.  We decided to split up so that Jamison would have people yelling for him in multiple areas of the race.

I always watch the start.  It's just my thing.  I have to know he started the race without a hitch.  As I was waiting for the start, I glanced up at the scoreboard from the former race and realized that if Jamison ran the same time he had run at state, he would very possibly place in the top 20  of his race.  I was excited.  And also a little shocked.  I had not been at this race since he was a sophomore, at that time his PRs put him in the upper half of the race, but certainly not top 20.  I thought to myself, "this might be more interesting than I thought!"

And then the gun went off!

Watching 350 runners start a race is really something!

(I spy my guy.)

After I saw him run past, I raced across the course so I could be cheering near the mile mark.

This is an excellent spectator course.  It makes a big loop that the guys run twice.  Though you are not always close, you can see much of the race no matter where you stand.  So although I was too far away to cheer, I watched as the runners started to spread out.  As Jamison approached the mile mark, he was in the lead pack.  He was racing in about tenth position.

I was SO excited!

One thing I know about Jamison is that when he begins a race well, he ends it well.  When I saw him take off and claim his position in the lead pack, I knew in my heart that this would be a race for the ages.

Better still, several of his teammates were right at his heels!  The one remaining wish I had this season was for ALL the guys to run well on the same day.  At the one mile mark, it looked like a strong possibility.

I watched them race up this incline, and then I took off like a crazy momma to yell for them on the other side of the course.  Thank God for adrenaline or I would never have made it!

These three pictures were taken near the middle of the race.

At this point I was so stinking excited!  Jamison was sitting in about 4th place.  He looked strong and confident and courageous.  It was a moment of dreams.  Huge race.  Huge!  And my son running beautifully in the front of the pack.  Though there is not a time or placing that could make me feel more proud of my son than I already do, seeing him succeeding at what he loves brought me so much joy.

As he raced by I remember blurting out "Oh Jamison!  You look amazing! I am so proud of you."  (It was probably good I was surrounded by strangers because "Go JAM!" is a more son-approved way of cheering!)

He raced by and I took off back across the course.

At one point, I paused in the middle to soak it all in.  Looking across this huge course and seeing my boy running in the lead pack with 350 runners strung out behind him was absolutely surreal.

As was the fact that I was so calm and in the moment!
I was even texting updates to Chad and taking photos.

 It is hard to see, but at the two mile mark he was in fourth.
The field had widened.
The guy in first was a ways ahead.
There was a fight for second and third.
Jay was running alone in fourth.
The pack was at his back.

Two of his teammates were close behind!

I honestly don't think I have ever been as excited at a race.  It was SO fun!  The fact that I went into this race with no expectations turned out to be such blessing because it allowed this race to be like a surprise present for this momma.

I shot a quick text to Chad that said "4th at 2 mile" and sprinted to a spot where I could see him as the last 1000 began.

As I sprinted across the field, I could hear the announcer calling the race.  He said, "So and So is in first, Such and Such is in second, and there is a dog fight for third." And I thought MY SON is a part of that dog fight!

And soon, the dog fight was right in front of me.

As the announcer had said.  First and second placings were fairly secure - but three through ten were up for grabs.  The leader of that pack was changing every few strides.  Jamison was running strong, holding his form - but I knew he was tiring.  I knew the end of this race would be all about guts.

After they raced by, I texted Chad, "crazy fight pack for 3 to 10 all guts and he's fighting."

I was calm during the race (the super excited kind of calm) but as I recount it, I'm a bit of an emotional mess!

Waiting to see him at the finish was an eternity!
I had no doubt he would finish well, but just how well?!?

Both the angle of the course and the number of spectators at the finish limited my view, so when I finally caught a glimpse of Jamison coming down the home stretch my heart was bursting!

 As they came into the finish, Jamison and Mason (his teammate and friend) raced stride for stride.  Mason has beaten Jamison most of the year.
 I knew Jamison was wiped - but the set of his jaw told me he was not going down without a fight!

 I love this shot.
It was his final "heave"!  With this decisive lunge, he pulled ahead of Mason and stayed that way through the finish.
He later said, "Mason helped me out at the end."

I loved those words as I pondered them.  He used Mason's strength and built on it, just as Mason used Jamison's position in the race to build his own confidence during this race.  Teammates spur each other on, push each other to new heights, and celebrate each others successes.  These boys, and the rest of Jamison's team have been brothers like no other this year.  They have taken their talent to new levels because together they are more than they are on their own.  It is beautiful.

My text to Chad at the end of this race was "gutted it like a boss top 10!"

Jamison finished this race in 6th place.
(He was 11th overall once they combined the times from the two races in this division.)
His time was 16.30.
16 seconds faster than he had run at state, which was 17 seconds faster than his previous PR.

In all honesty, I didn't know Jamison could run that fast... yet!  I knew he could and would run that fast - but I though it would be next season.

It was an amazing race for him personally.

(After the race I was privy to a couple of precious conversations.  Evan, one of his BFFs and teammates, asked Jamison his placing and time.  Jamison responded and Evan's mouth dropped open and awe shone through his face.  That awe was quickly replaced by joy when he responded, "Jam!  That's awesome!"  Evan finished this race in the top 50 and set his own PR! Jamison's buddy Joey is fun and funny!  He didn't have a record breaking race, yet after he said "JAM!  Great race!  I was so far behind you that I watched you run.  You looked amazing!"  And Coach Lies joked that Jamison was the first athlete he has ever wished would flunk out and have to repeat senior year.  I think Coach may be having as rough a time as momma thinking of Jamison heading off to college!)

Equally thrilling, it was an amazing race for each of his teammates!  Nearly every young man set a new PR.  As a team they placed 3rd out of 74 teams!

They were called to the podium and received a trophy from Nike professional runner, Hassan Mead.

It was a dream come true kind of a day.

I thank God that I was there to witness it.  It was simply amazing!

As the season comes to a complete close, I am so proud of these boys and their coaches.  They took some big risks this year.  They completely overhauled their training program.  They logged more miles than ever before.  In fact, they were building mileage right up to WDA.  The guys had to trust the coaches.  Jamison did not beat his times from junior year until state.  He chose to be patient.  Stick with the program.  Race as the coaches asked him to race.  In the end, the rewards were great.  But in the middle - it was hard!  (Another life metaphor, is it not?!?)

To top off the celebratory feel, Jamison made a BIG decision this week.

In his words via Instagram "Finally achieved the goal I set freshman year: to run in college.  Marauder cross country and track here I come! #umarybound #cantwait"

After much consideration, Jamison has committed to running (and going to college) at the University of Mary.  I could not be more comfortable with his decision.  Educationally the school is a slam dunk.  It will give him a fabulous education both as an undergrad and as he chooses to move on.  (He currently plans to major in exercise science and go on to Physical Therapy.)  Though the University is technically in Bismarck, it is about 40 miles from our home, and he will live on campus.  So - although he could easily come home for laundry services or Sunday dinner - Jamison will get a real college feeling.  He will live and breath school and cross/track which is exactly what he is longing for.  The school will have a brand-new indoor track for his freshman season!  They have been very deliberate in their recruiting.  Jamison feels needed, wanted, and a part of the future of Marauder running already.

I'm just so happy for him!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sometimes a Deer Hunt is SO MUCH More than "just" a Deer Hunt!

My handsome husband loves to hunt.  He would rather skip Thanksgiving or Christmas than the opening day of deer hunting season.  One of his greatest joys, as a dad, is that many of our kids have "inherited" his love of hunting.  Because Jamison was not drawn for a deer tag, this year it was a daddy-daughter hunting party, and daddy could not have been more proud.

You see sometimes a deer hunt is SO MUCH more than just a deer hunt.

For Chad it is about bonding, time, crazy stories, licorice, laughter, tradition.

For Brenna it is about the food - Wishek bologna on bread - and the learning of traditions.

This year, for Sierra, hunting was all about recovery.

Her shoulder injury has been life-changing.  There are some things she will never be able to do again.  Some she is not yet strong enough to do.  And some things she will be able to do again if she modifies her technique.

Hunting was on that list.

Sierra LOVES to hunt.  It honestly amazes me how much my blonde beauty loves it, but she does.  However in order to continue hunting she knew she would have to learn to shoot left handed.  It is not easy to do.  Her Great-Grandpa (the origin of the family hunting gene) was not convinced she would be able to learn.

As you can see, on Saturday, she proved her Great Grandpa wrong.

She did it!

She crawled on her belly for 300 loooooong yards, as her daddy helped her stalk a small group of deer.  By the time they were in range to shoot, she was exhausted.  Her upper body remains very weak.  Crawling on her belly and carefully dragging her gun along left her tired muscles limp and shaky.  But our determined girl took a deep breath and got her doe.

What may look like a dead deer to most, looks like a miraculous come back to me.

Sierra's surgery was awful. Remembering all the pain she was in after it makes my stomach hurt even now.  She has spent so much time in PT.  She has been disappointed at the number of things that remain impossible for her to do.  She has raged and the unfairness.  Cried tears of grief.  Trusted that even though it stinks, God has a plan.  He did not create her in a faulty manner.  He made her perfectly.  Whether it seems like it or not, He created her so that she is perfectly suited for the purpose He has for her life.  This rage, grief, acceptance, trust cycle is ongoing.  More and more she is in trust mode - but it has been a process.  It has been painful.  Very painful.

SO..... when God allowed her THIS harvest it was a gift.

A gift that signifies that although He takes away, He also gives.
And gives in a measure we can not even comprehend.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

(Her Great Grandfather was so very happy she proved him wrong.  He shared with his family during this hunt that he is so happy that his love of hunting has been passed down to so many.  He is so very proud of all his kids and grandkids and great grandkids as they hunt under his 89 year old guidance.  It is very, very special.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015


As I parent Mataya, I am reminded that one-year-olds are one of my very favorite ages . . . to observe from afar or to babysit for a couple of hours!  However, one is not my favorite age to parent!

(This is not a complaint!  I adore Mataya  The energy and joy she brings into our home is priceless!  However, I humbly and honestly realize that one-year-olds stretch my parenting skills more than many other ages!)

One is hard for me because tiny tots long to be independent - but they are just not very capable.  They know exactly what they want. . . all the time. . . and yet they lack the communication skills to clearly explain their desire.

Recently, Mataya's behavior illustrated this very fact in a way that has taught me so very much!

It had been a noisy morning.  (also known as a morning with many tantrums)

Mataya was frustrated, and I was too.

I just could not figure out what she wanted as she started into tantrum number 27. (or maybe 5 - but it felt like 27! Ha!)

I picked her up, looked into her eyes, and said, "Mataya.  I need you to use your words.  Please tell momma what you need!

I waited.

I could tell she was thinking.  She was trying to calm herself.

Finally she took a deep breath, paused, and said boldly and clearly, "CRY!!!"

Oh, she broke my heart.

While I was feeling frustrated because she could not explain herself, she was, too.

CRY was the very best she had.  She was not crying to throw a fit or to manipulate, but because that was the only way she could think of to communicate her feelings.

My poor baby.

So, I grabbed her precious blankey, and we snuggled up in the rocking chair until she was calm and giggling again.  Some quiet time rocking, a couple of songs hummed, and she and I were both new girls.

I have thought of that morning often, because it so clearly explains life.

No matter our age, there are times that we are doing everything we know how to do to communicate our needs.  Our communication skills are not always clear to others, and we can easily be misunderstood.  Sometimes we are judged unfairly.  Sometimes we judge unfairly.

Mataya's lesson to me was that I am commanded to dose out more grace, more love, more understanding.  I am trying to remember to smile, snuggle, encourage . . . to bless the people around me - even the ones that I do not understand.  Because even though it may not look like it to me, they are probably doing the best they can.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Date with My Little Ones

This will begin as a confession of a tired and grumpy mom.  I have NOT been looking forward to this weekend - actually, I have not been looking forward to this month!  Chad has big hunting plans for the month of November.  He will more than likely be hunting every weekend, and one whole week between today and Thanksgiving.  While I am happy for him (truly I am) I have been feeling overwhelmed.  When he is off playing, I shoulder more responsibility, and to be totally blunt, I have not been in the mood.

That said, today has been such a blessing.  I head to bed in a bit with a heart full of gratitude.

The morning began with a stand-off between Joshua and myself.  He was determined to wear shorts to school, and with highs set to be 43*, I had to set a "no way Jose" type of boundary.  Thankfully, the Lord and I spent a bit of time together in the pre-dawn hours, and His strength allowed me to handle the situation in a very healthy way.

A very gracious friend met Mataya and myself at a mall play area and she and I chatted for several hours.  Mataya played nicely, and God used this friend as a source of strength, understanding, laughter, and encouragement.

I had a bit of time with my handsome grandson.

And after Joshua got home from school, we declared it "date night!"

Joshua spends much time in activities that are not totally age-appropriate.  He tags along tot he big kids' events and tolerates Mataya's baby play.  He is typically a trooper, for which I am very thankful!  However, tonight I decided the focus would be on his needs.  It was a precious time.

I allowed him to choose supper. . . McDonald's, of course.

We RARELY go to McDonald's.  And we NEVER, EVER play at McDonald's.  So, the time we spent eating and playing was really special.
He is always good to Mataya, but tonight he was the perfect big brother.

He helped her play and protected her from the bullies that always linger at the top of the play structure.  He was so very good with her that I had two moms comment on just how lucky Mataya is to have him.  I was so thankful he was able to hear their compliments!  He certainly earned them!

"She's lovin' it!"

We got home, put on jammies, and snuggled up to watch a movie.  Our choice was Inside Out.  It was really good!  (I can not tell you the last time I sat through a whole movie.  I am ashamed to admit it - but I either sleep or "task" while he watches TV.  Sitting with him is rare.)

While we watched Mataya alternately played and snuggled happily.

And when the movie ended, she was ready to go to bed.  She has been fighting bedtime - but tonight she was peaceful and happy to climb into her crib after one last snuggle and prayers.

Joshua, too, climbed up to his room with a big hug and a soft smile.  I gave him a HUGE hug (to which he yelped "girl cooties!!! girl cooties!!!) and whispered into his ear that I had a great time with him today.  He hugged me right back, kissed my cheek, and said, "Me too Mom!  Thanks!"

Thank you Jesus for filling my cup as only You can.  You are so faithful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pumpkin Bars

One thing I try to do more in the fall is cook and bake.  As the school routine gets cemented and the yard work comes to a halt, I remember this amazing place called my kitchen!  One thing I look forward to making each fall is pumpkin bars.

Yesterday, for the first time, Mataya helped me!

 This is her new "cheese" smile.  Chin up with one squinty eye is her response to "smile!"
As Sierra says "It is soooo not attractive!"

She thought mixing was amazing!
 However, it did not compare to tasting the batter!

Baking is Mataya's new favorite!

So here is my very favorite pumpkin bar recipe.
(It is the ONLY thing I bake that Chad adores.  He is normally not a sweet tooth, pumpkin bars are his one exception.)

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2T ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves

Beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil. Combine dry ingredients and add slowly to egg mixture.  (Or just dump it all in a bowl at once and mix away! It is not as proper, but it works!)

Pour into greased 10x15 pan.  Bake 350* for 25-30 minutes.

Frost with cream cheese frosting after cool.

(FYI - I blog recipes so that some day my kids can find them.  Not even kidding!  At this point I only blog so that my kids will have a fun way to remember these days.  Food is such a part of memory that I blog recipes, too.)

Also around here lately:

 Wyatt has officially become one of the guys!  He took his first "football nap" with Grandpa Chad while his mommy worked on Sunday.
 I have nearly perfected the double baby bath.

It is funny, Krissy and Jamison were about the same age spread as Mataya and Wyatt are.  When I gave them a bath together, it felt "normal."  When I give Mataya and Wyatt a bath together, I feel like I deserve a medal. . . or a glass of wine!  Maybe my age is showing?!?  However, it is fun!  They love to splash together, and they make me laugh - that is for sure!
   I truly adore all the time I spend rocking and chasing these two!  Reading to them is my absolute favorite.
 Mataya is getting better and better with Wyatt.  (Also he keeps getting sturdier!)

Wyatt loves to jump.
He is getting close to sitting on his own.
And he laughs when Mataya plays with him.

They make my heart happy!

Sorry TayTay!  I know you will hate the nakey baby pic someday - but your smile makes me happy.

This look is totally you - joyful and a bit mischievous.
You are the most precious wild thing ever!

Lately Krissy teasingly calls you "monster" and you respond with this very grin and repeat "monsta" and laugh.

When you are being silly, I call you a turkey -to which you respond, "Gobble!  Gobble!"
And then we both laugh!

You think it is so fun to climb right into my shower with me.
You adore playdough -  it will keep you occupied for an hour!
Blocks are your other favorite.
And books!  You would read for hours and hours.
You play with your dollies like a mommy-in-the-making, shushing them and patting their backs.
You LOVE to "burp" us all and belly laugh when we pretend to burp loudly.
You love to play indoor soccer with Joshua.
You also love to clean.  When I give you your own supplies, you scrub happily!

Although I missed it, you LOVED Halloween!  Grandma and Grandpa said you wore your costume with pride and happily walked door to door gathering treats and saying thank you.  They had so very much fun with you!  And you had so much fun with them that you did not want to come near me when I returned home.  It was a very special weekend for you all!

On a not so great note, you like biting.  Ugh!  I don't even know why you bite.  Many times you are happy and playful when you go in for a "human snack."  I have yet to see you bite in a rage.  It is strange and dangerous.  You little turkey.
"Gobble! Gobble!"