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Elli’s 8th Birthday

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Dear Elli,
It is six weeks past your eighth birthday and I am only now writing your birthday letter. I’m sorry, baby girl. I’ll do better. Maybe. Well, probably some years.
Oh, Elli. Elli, Elli, Elli. You are so awesome. I don’t know a better way to describe you. You’re just seriously awesome. I LOVE the way your see the world. You are so gentle and sweet and you see the world through your sweet and gentle eyes. You are always so positive and it really inspires me. You always (ok, not always, because sometimes you get into really grumpy moods where you are so darkly dramatic) ….MOST of the time, you always look on the bright side of things. I love that about you.
This past year has been a very exciting one for you. You started gymnastics, violin lessons, homeschool co op, and we moved to a new town two hours away. We’ve been working very hard with our school lessons. School is going much smoother for you. I have learned a lot and you have learned a lot and we have grown so much. I say we, because you have taught me so much. I hope that I can be a better mommy to you for it.
One thing for sure, you are a very stubborn little girl and will do nothing unless you want to. I cannot force you to do anything. You can be very difficult and strong-willed, but I see that stubborn, strong-will of yours changing into something much more fierce and beautiful. You have become so determined and bold, Elli. You stand up for your beliefs and you are determined to overcome all your obstacles. Over the last couple years, I have suspected that you may have dyslexia because reading was very difficult for you. I had you tested and my suspicions were correct. But it doesn’t matter. You are reading SO well and growing into a beautiful little girl that loves to learn. Reading is hard for you, but you love to learn and never give up and almost never get frustrated. What could be a huge obstacle to overcome, has instead been an incredible mountain that you’re joyfully journeying over. I truly love getting to be your mommy AND your teacher. It isn’t always easy for either of us, but I love getting to learn right alongside you.
Something else that i love about you is your imagination. You are so creative and draw, paint and color every single day. You see the world in such a unique way and your drawings reflect that. This is something that makes your VERY special. Never lose this part of you.
You are still as thoughtful, sweet, and caring as ever. I don’t think you can be anything but those things. I’m so proud of you. This past year, you have gained so much maturity not only in behavior and character, but also in your understanding of The Word of God. You understand things in the bible that I only just started to comprehend over the last few years. Continue in your character of studying His Word. This is such a valuable trait to have.
Elli, I pray every day that you will love and serve The Lord with all your soul, sprit, and mind. I pray that your life will be a testament of His love and that everything you do will be to His glory. I also pray for your future husband and that he, too, will love and serve The Lord. I pray that he loves you and is a good Godly man and that you love him and are the Godly woman he, too, has prayed for. You both will be strong members of the body of Christ as long as you keep your focus on Him and His Kingdom.
I love you, Jelly Bean. In a million years, I could never deserve a daughter as sweet and loving as you. You make me smile everyday.
Love, Mommy

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Isaac’s 3rd Birthday

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Dear Isaac,

It is April 25th, 2017 and today I realized that I never wrote you a birthday letter for your third birthday. I know you must love these letters more than life itself. No doubt this one will sit on your bedside table as your most prized possession. It is exactly four months and ten days late BUT it could be later and that is what we should focus on. I want to tell you a little bit about yourself at the age of three. You are the most snuggly, sweet, ornery, and stubborn little boy. I love all the snuggles you give me and store them up in my heart. A day will come when those snuggles won’t be for me anymore, so I will treasure them while I have them. You and Aubi are both very, very snuggly. Elli doesn’t sneak into bed with us anymore, but you do every single night and Aubi does fairly often too. You curl up close to me and nuzzle in. You did this this morning, actually. I really needed get up, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on a moment of those precious snuggles, so I stayed and enjoyed you.
You are so, so very ornery. I think you’ve learned a lot of this from Aubi, but a lot of it is all your own. Teasing Elli is learned from Aubi, but you have a distinct orneriness that is all you. Your current favorite joke is whispering to me that you need to tell me something important. And you’d think, wouldn’t you, that the number of times you’ve done this to me that I would have you figured out, but you just look so sincere that you get me nearly every time. Then, as you lean in close to my ear you shout “BUTTHOLE!” at the top of your lungs. Thus, the hearing aids I will need as an old, deaf lady will be your responsibility. Oh, you think you’re sooooo funny, don’t you? Just wait until you have to repeat yourself 100 times to grumpy old Mommy. We’ll see who’s laughing then.
You’re very stubborn too. You definitely take after your sisters with that. You’re not a wild as Ollie, though. But, stubbornness quickly turns to boldness and I am confident that you will be very bold in spirit. I know you will be an incredible force for the kingdom of God as you grow up. You will be bold and sure, but also soft and loving in sharing the gospel. I pray everyday that The Lord will make you his own and that your life will be to His glory.
And you are so sweet. You are my Baby Lion. I will probably tell you why I call you Baby Lion, but I will write it here for you as well. The story is that during one of your stubborn spells I accidentally convinced you to do what I wanted (take a nap I believe) by calling you a baby lion. You loved it and immediately started pretending to be a baby lion. That was many, many months ago and it still works. You will be so angry about going to bed until we suggest that “the Baby Lion go lie down in his lion’s nest” which is just code for go to bed. Sometimes I will even twist the blankets into something that looks nest-like. I’m pretty cool like that. Don’t forget how cool I am. You call me “Mommy Lion” and Daddy “Daddy Lion”. You’re very much a daddy’s boy and definitely a man’s man. You love hanging around the adult men and playing the part yourself. You love going special places with Daddy, especially if that special place is the lake to go fishing.
Isaac, you are so very special and loved by our family. I pray that you grow up to be a man who loves The Lord with all of your heart. I pray that you serve him in all that you do. Never forget that there is forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ. I also pray for your future wife and that she will also love The Lord with all of her heart and will also serve Him. I pray that you will love her as Jesus loved the church and as your Daddy has loved me. You have a great Daddy that is setting a great example of how a Godly husband should act. I pray that your wife will love and respect you and I hope I have set a good example for that as well, thought I could be better. I love you, Baby Lion, and I love her too, though I have yet to meet her. Happy Belated Third Birthday! Love, Mommy Lion

Sunday Musings CH.8

The last few weeks have been busy, busy, busy. I’ve fallen behind keeping up with my Musings series. I’d promise to do better, but I’d probably be lying. 

1. This past weekend I photographed my first wedding. She is a dear friend of mine and it was a wonderful experience and I felt so privileged that she asked and trusted me to photograph her special day. 
My girls are getting to an age where they enjoy spending quality time with their dad and I. They’ve been daddy’s girls since they were old enough to choose him over me and always love having special time with just him and the only time anyone ever chooses me is if Elli feels sorry for me, because Elli is very compassionate and feels deeply for others. – but her choosing me out of pity, surprisingly, doesn’t make me feel very wanted. BUT lately her and Aubi have been enjoying spending time with just me and, boy oh boy, does it make my heart happy. Elli was so excited by the idea of being my assistant for the wedding and couldn’t wait to volunteer to go with me. We had an amazing time just the two of us. 


 2.  I haven’t shared much about how easy it is for Elli to become overstimulated, because it is a personal and very emotional thing we deal with and it’s been a difficult journey at times. Being around a lot of people can be completely overwhelming for her but she has made a lot of progress over this past year. While at the wedding Elli did have a couple moments where she needed to regain herself away from the excitement, but she did amazing. I saw her do things I’ve never seen her do around people she didn’t know and more importantly I saw her be comfortable being herself. And she REALLY loved dancing – she danced and danced and danced the night away. When I told her it was time to leave, her response was, “Awwww. I wasn’t done dancing!”


 3. The kids got to visit Elephant Rocks State Park for the first time, too. I remember going to Elephant Rocks all the time as a kid. It’s some of my best memories of adventure and exploration. Getting to share that with my kids was a special experience. 


 4.  One of the few traditions I try to keep each year is painting pumpkins. I like it so much better than carving pumpkins. Because – yuck. 


 5. 52 Week Project – Week 42 –


 6. Homeschool co op has been amazing this semester and so far we haven’t had any issues with Elli being overstimulated…until this day. I think there was just a lot going on at once and she couldn’t cope, even though her sister was right beside her. Her teacher came and got me to tell me she’d been crying the entire hour and didn’t know what to do. When I found her she was crumpled in on herself, she had her hands over her ears, rocking back and forth, and crying. It was heartbreaking to see her struggling like that. I took her outside with me and she clung to me sobbing. We stood there for ten or so minutes before she calmed down and talked to me. I am so proud of her – I told her she didn’t have to go back to class if she needed to stay with me and instead of taking the easy way out, she insisted on going back and finishing. She didn’t want to give up. She’s a strong little girl with an amazing fighting spirit. This doesn’t happen very often to her anymore, but she is learning to cope and deal with it when it does. 

 7. We had our first “school” pictures done for homeschool co op. Our homeschool group does school pictures and a yearbook each year. Isn’t that cool?!


 8. On Friday I had my first night out since…well, probably before Isaac was born or, at least, since I got pregnant with Oliver. Sooooo…two years or so? You could say I don’t get out much. I met one of my dearest friends in the world and I got my nose pierced! Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe how it looks. My coolness level went up a full two points. And, not to brag, but the piercer guy told me that I have thin nostrils, so there’s that.

Next week I will (hopefully) have their Halloween costumes done! I cannot wait to share those with everyone!

-Livi 

Sunday Musings- CH.7

Another week and another chapter of Friday Musings posted on Sunday. Sunday’s are easier for me to write these so I’m just going to go ahead and change this to Sunday Musings and be done with it. 

Here we go:

1. Last weekend we visited with Zack’s dad at Lake Eafaula. The kids were so happy to see their papa. Elli has always called him Bald Papa because he’s bald (obviously) and my dad Papa With Hair…because he has hair. It’s an efficient and to the point kind of system. 


Isaac was cracking us up because he kept calling him “Grandfather” and we aren’t sure where that came from. He’s never called him that before. 


Elli has such a precious tender heart. She was so emotional seeing her Papa after many months. 


Zack’s dad is on his way to live in New Mexico for a few months so it’ll be awhile before the kids see him again. 

2. Homeschool was really difficult for us this week. We all struggled. I wrote this for myself this week so I can remember to keep my eyes on The Lord:

Last week school went great and I had SO much patience. Like, so much. We were done with school by noon and had had a couple rough patches but I handled them like the pro I am. Another day like that and my ego would’ve been out of control, for sure. But The Lord keeps me humble. I got a real reality check this week. 

Just so you know, school with Elli isn’t the easiest. It’s a lot like riding on The Pendulum of Perpetual Drama. It’s either “I don’t know anything. This makes no sense. I can’t do this.” or “This is too easy. Wow, am I smart. I really think I might be a genius.” There is no in between. She’s all or nothing. Either she is overly confident or underly confident in her abilities and it can be VERY exhausting to teach her. I’m tired just thinking about it. On really bad days, she will even forget how to speak, read, and write. Imagine how much fun that is (sorry for the amount of sarcasm). Today the only school we accomplished was our reading/grammar work, so it was definitely one of those days.  

And on top of it, I’ve been snippy with the kids. Where did last week’s patience go? 

The boys make our school days a million times more difficult. They get jealous of the time I give the girls during school. They pile on me demanding I pay attention to them. It’s just a lot to juggle somedays. 

This is the part where I reveal what a terrible mother I am. At one point during the day Aubi shoved a dirty piece of clothing in my face so I could smell if it was clean or not (it was not) and I snapped at her to stop sticking things in my face. Tears welled up in her eyes but she tried to hide them saying “I just couldn’t tell if it was dirty…”. I’d broken her poor, sweet, little heart. I told her how sorry I was and held her close. As frustrating as having dirty clothes shoved into my face is, it was not worth hurting her precious spirit the way I did in my moment of discomfort. I felt like the worst mommy ever when I saw the pain in her eyes – the pain that I caused with my carelessness. 

Sometimes being a stay at home mother to four kids can be incredibly draining and seemingly endless. No matter how much I clean, they can always make messes faster. And even if I catch up on laundry and dishes, I will just be behind again the next day, so why bother, right?

Today I was selfish in my frustration. It’s not about me, it’s about these four tiny, precious humans that God has given to me to teach, love, train, and cherish. 

I need to work on focusing on my kids and the impact I have on them. I need to focus on teaching them lessons, training their behaviors, and molding their characters so that someday they can be men and women whose lives glorify The Lord. 

I need to focus more on Him and less on me. 


3. Ollie has been obsessed with sinks this week. He has figured out that you can push chairs to climb onto other things – sinks usually. He’s not biased either. He loves all sinks. Kitchen, bathroom, he doesn’t care. He likes sitting in them. Maybe he’s pretending to be a sailer or something adorable like that. 


4. Isaac sat on the potty for the very first time. EVER. He’s terrified of it so it’s not been an easy battle and I’ve tried not to push him too hard. It took me an hour to convince him to sit on it and even then he didn’t use it but it’s a step in the right direction at least. That’s what I’m telling myself. 


5. Aubi. Aubi, Aubi, Aubi. Every time I turn around she is dismantling, destroying, or coloring on something. First it was her face. (Elli colored her’s too.)


 Then it was the bathroom cabinets – both with deodorant and fingernail polish. So far she hasn’t figured out that the reason we always know it’s her is that she ALWAYS rights her name. ALWAYS. 

6. Week 37 of my 52 Week Project


7. Homeschool Co op is still going great. 


8.  The kids and I spent some time in Hobby Lobby planning out their costumes for this year. I’m having a lot of fun with it! 


(Also, Isaac has become a little obsessed with acorns. I don’t know what brought it on. He even wanted to dress up as an acorn this year. Right this moment he’s walking around the house rolled in a blanket saying he’s a baby acorn.)


9. This weekend we went to Devil’s Den state park. It’s so beautiful there and so much to do and explore. 



-Livi 

Friday Musings – CH.6

I’m running a couple days behind. Maybe I should change this to Sunday Musings since Friday’s have become one of our busiest days. I’m just going to run through the weeks high points really quick. 

 1. I’m going to talk about Isaac’s new passion – fighter planes. We got a book on fighter planes and it has become his obsession. We look at the pictures and read it Every. Single. Day. He takes it with him everywhere. It’s seriously the cutest thing ever. And he’s getting so good at identifying the different types of planes. It’s an Usborne book – we LOVE Usborne. 

 2. Aub had an interesting moment while taking a reading test this week: 

Aubi was taking a reading test on the iPad and I was apparently not being considerate because she yells “Be quiet!!! I’m trying to get a gold medal and I cannot miss anymore!!!” 
Me- “Goodness gracious! I’ll be quiet.”
iPad- “Click on the sentence that says ‘The fox has on socks'”
Aubi- “Hmmm. Well, this one says “The fox shot the other fox” so it cannot be that one.”
Me- “What kind of test are you taking?”
I look at it and read “The fox is in the box.”
Aubi logic: when in doubt, make up an interesting story and hope for the best. 

 3. Elli’s had a funny moment with her math: 

I found her working out 11-4 by using all ten of her fingers and one big toe. 


 4. Ollie had his first bath with the big kids AND liked it!


 5. We went to an art festival celebrating an event called The Unexpected hosted by JUSTKIDS in downtown Fort Smith. It’s a movement to bring contemporary art to the city. Artists from all over the world come create murals and sculptures all over the city. It’s truly amazing. This was the second year they’ve done it and I’m so thankful that we got to take the kids to see the art as it was being created. 


 6. Friday was out second week of co op. The kids are loving it. We are part of such an amazing community and are truly blessed. 


 7. Week 36 of my 52 week project:

8. Another funny moment:


I really think I will probably be doing Sunday Musings from now on. Sunday’s seem to be a better day for me. 😊