Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Tradition

What is it about repeating a trip, a memory, a picture in the exact same spot year after year, that keeps families diligently locked into annual repetition.
I guess to some it may sound predicatively boring, but there is something about keeping a memory alive, year after year, generation after generation, that grows an excitement, a bond, and loads of embarrassing stories to tell over the years. 
Our annual apple picking trip is one of these traditions. I've been loaded in the back of a car every Fall since I was a pig-tailed wielding little girl and driven into orchard covered mountains for a day of apple picking.
Before that, my Dad was orchard bound as a cub scout in training. And now my own boys have been annually hiked into apple forests and load carts, crates, and bags full of "edible bombs".
It's something we know is coming, every fall. Just like our Christmas Eve salad, birthday paper chains, and Thanksgiving Day Parade, you know it's going to be there, it's going to happen and it wouldn't be the same without it.
The youngest start falling into the cycle of anticipation and reminiscing and tradition locks onto the next generation. And I think that's the way it's supposed to be. It's how families forge memories and milestones over decades and distance.
It's what keeps disinterested teens secretly enjoying being a part of the crazy family they wouldn't trade for anything. It keeps busy work schedules, crazy deadlines, and hectic rat races behind for even a few hours all for a dedicated moment in the name of tradition.
So here's to years to come of orchard filled memories, apple tasting pictures, and watching boys come to tower over me in the apple picking years to come.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Fourth!

My sweet new baby,
Welcome to this family, this loud, rambunctious, sports loving, chocolate chip cookie devouring, adventurous, happy family. We are all in love with you already, even though you keep me on the couch feeling green. 
I can only imagine what it's probably going to sound like in there over the next several months, try your best not to be scared. It's just the battle cries and explosive sound effects of big brothers waiting to teach you.
And no matter how much it may occasionally sound like they don't get along, don't be fooled. They've got each others back and they'll have yours too! They love learning about you each week and how big you're growing or what new skill you're developing in there.
And I'm sure you're hearing all the comments I keep getting about hoping you're a girl, or people offering to pray you're a girl, or people asking if we were trying for a girl, and I want you to rest easy.
There's no pressure from us sweet baby. You see, we didn't want a specific gender, we wanted you! We love every bit of your perfect design being knitted in secret and we can't wait to meet you and discover all God has formed into your being.
My baby, you're perfect, so pay all the comments no mind. This crazy family is enamored with your little fuzzy black and white sonogram self and we can't wait to see more of you soon!
Happy fourth my sweet little one and enjoy the somewhat peace and quiet in there for the next few months before you're indoctrinated with nerf guns and football :) We love you!
Coming May 2015!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

We Bought A Zoo

Ok, not really, but we did buy a zoo membership.
For the most part, there are endless learning and exploring opportunities all for free around here, and the zoo is one them...
Except for the parking. At $22 for a slot between two yellow lines for the small window of time my little-legged guys would last walking the zoo- well, $22 would go a lot further at the grocery store.
When we received a discount offer in the mail and added up the savings and reciprocal benefits at other places we realized it was a no-brainer.
Now we can go, park (sans $22), spend however long we feel up to it, and leave without feeling robbed.
It's been a great deal so far. My boys can spend time behaving like they live in a zoo, at a zoo, and not stand out too much. 
Plus, now that schools are back in and tourist season is over we kinda have private enjoyment of a National Smithsonian. So yeah, it's pretty much like we bought a zoo.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Don't Need Your Hand

It happens faster with each of my boys, that moment in time when I look into those handsome eyes and see more man and less baby.
With Jefferson, that moment sneaked up on me faster than I realized. I reached for his little hand before we headed down a steep staircase. "Momma, no thank you. I don't need your hand."
My heart squeezed as I let go of his precious hand and watched him tread carefully down clinging to the rail for support and not me like he used to do.
But isn't this what I hope for, long for, pray for? That God would raise up confident, self assured, bold men? The moment of letting go of his hand wasn't as painful as I watched him proudly reach the bottom and saw his confidence soar.
That's what parenting is all about. Cradling, kissing, holding, comforting, teaching, and letting go. Because we aren't raising boys, we are raising men, men who will reach for their Heavenly Father's hand as they walk this life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Am I My Brother's Button Pusher?

These two are avid studies of each other. Sometimes I think they know each other better than I do. They know the quickest way to make each other dissolve into uncontrollable laughter.
They are fluent in reading the other's facial expressions. They are masters of erupting in boyhood frivolity consisting of spontaneous wrestling matches, stair catapulting, and food fights all without saying a word. And they can make each other erupt like none other.
They each know exactly the precise buttons to push on each other that will result in testosterone blaring injustice. Their timing is impeccable and I'm at a loss in most instances as to how playing army men turned into Sibling Smackdown.
But just when I'm about to wonder if the button pushing is the primary bond between these two, glimpses into a deeper pact emerge. A poor kid attempted to pilfer Jeff's toy at a playground. Harrison arrived like Hulk on the scene and one look at puffed chest, hands on hips, big bro, the kid took off in terror. My guys smiled at each other and went back to their various playground corners, but I smiled knowing they may be each other's button pushers, but they're also each other's "gottcha back-ers".

Monday, September 29, 2014

Parking Lot Discipleship

We were running a tad late for church Sunday morning...story of our lives.
Three little guys to feed and dress, keep clean, while haphazardly throwing ourselves into some sort of appropriate church attire, typically results in tardiness. 
But this Sunday wasn't too bad and we were in the parking lot with a few minutes to spare, hurrying handsome little guys through rows of parked cars.
 Then we faced a row of cars who all must have had a secret pact to park as close to the lines as possible creating odd and narrow passageways. So we changed up our hand holding and wove through single file.
 And then Harrison commented, "This is so narrow! Which way is the narrow way again? God's or Satan's?" And so right there in the church parking lot, a discipleship opportunity took root in a perfect visual aid.
 Matt showed the boys how it wasn't very easy to squeeze through the narrow cars without bumping into or tripping, etc. Then he took them through a wide open space without cars parked nearby. They quickly realized they could skip through the wide open space without any help or guidance.
 "Why is God's way harder?" Harrison asked. Matt explained the way to destruction is wide, it's easy to get on, and easy to stay on. God's way leads to eternal life and while the way is narrow, and sometimes hard, He gives us the strength we need to stay on it and grow in Him, gather others to walk with you, and help each other navigate through the narrow passages knowing life, not destruction, is ahead.
God grants rich opportunities to disciple our children everyday. Life sometimes gets busy with schedules, appointments, errands, and deadlines, and we fail to recognize the gifted moments to grow our children. It's worth it to be a little late sometimes, even to church, if a row of parked cars suddenly presents itself to invest in the soul of the gift God gave you to steward.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pirate Day

I'm not sure how it started; maybe a brain child from an over indulgent aunt or grandparent? :)
But our second annual Pirate Day is now a locked-in tradition for all kids in this family. Move over Santa Claus, a pirate has totally got you beat.
Last year the boys stumbled across a "hidden" map which they eagerly followed to dig up small boxes filled with "treasure" aka, candy, sugar, toys, more candy, left behind by "Captain P."
I can't remember our thought process, I think we thought it was a fun one-time thing last year, but we were so wrong.
For the whole past year, the boys have talked about about "Captain P" and the hope for his return at this year's beach trip.
They went as far as writing him messages and planning what to pack for the beach which would aid them in digging for buried treasure.
So aunts and grandparents took Pirate Day to a whole new level.
Eager little boys scanned the horizon every day straining to catch a glimpse of Captain P's ship.
One stormy morning, a far off sailboat fighting the wind gave just the right impression of a pirate ship headed away from shore.
The stage was set and the seed planted by creative aunts that surely that had been the one and only Captain P's ship.
Later that day that boys finally discovered the map left behind by the pirate which would lead them to a treasure he had buried just for them.
Giddy little boys studied the map and hiked off over dunes and sea grass in search for their highly anticipated treasure.
And Captain P did not disappoint. Being the kind pirate he is, he made sure there was three of everything, favorite colors and candies present, and all notable superheros accounted for deep within the chest.
Excited little guys heaved their loot back up to the beach house where the equivalent of Christmas morning took place on the front deck.
After eye patches, and spy glasses, fruit snacks, and glow-in-the-dark skull and cross bones t-shirts, we headed inside where Captain P had left behind a feast!
Peg legs (corndogs), sea shells, (mac 'n cheese made with shell pasta), jewels (red and green grapes), and seaweed (salad), were waiting for the treasure hunters.
Captain P is probably a lot like the idea of Santa, and in spite of the elaborate attempts to keep Captain P's identity and build excitement for awaiting his arrival each beach trip, I know it won't last forever.
But I'm hanging onto it while we can. While imagination and stories are ripe with innocence. While the ugly world with harsh reality is still far away, I hope these little guys will eagerly be scanning the horizon for their pirate for years to come.