Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Never Too Late to Easter

So technically Easter Sunday is long over.  But it was so early this year (I like it later better) let's just pretend it wasn't that long ago.

Plus, I'm a Jesus Lover so every day is pretty much Easter.

Let's just do pictures. 




I ordered Lucy's dress from Target online.  I'm having her wear it to a wedding in June too.  Double duty baby.

This is Nelson, laying in the sun with a fleece sweater on...wishing his family would move farther south and out of the cold.



Real life.






Exhausted.  And yes, if you look at the chair in the background, that is indeed Lucy's artwork.  In permanent marker.  



Side note:  I FINALLY made it through the entire The Passion of the Christ movie this year.  I bawled a lot, and watched most of it from the other side of the house (because it just seemed more tolerable from farther away) but I did it.  We also had the boys watch it too, because "Jesus died on the cross for our sins" was becoming a kitchy phrase they hear us say all the time and now...not so much.

So thankful for Jesus.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Life in Random

Let's Random, shall we?


  • It's March 11th and we have, yet again, another snow day.  It hurts.  Is it possible to overdose on Vitamin D supplements? In my head I keep chanting, spring is coming spring is coming spring is coming.  Because it has to.
  • Lucy is going to be three next month.  Wow.  She loves Dora, Strawberry Shortcake and most recently:  Spiderman.  I love being home with her...even on the days that she makes me crazy.  
  • I have a new baby niece named Ella.  She is the cutest.

  • We have been watching The Bible on the History channel on Sunday nights.  The boys love it.  It's been a great opportunity for dialogue with them.  They get annoyed with us pausing it all the time to tell them background info or to explain that certain parts of the movie didn't really happen like that.  But it's the perfect opportunity to see the Bible come to life and fill in truth in their lives.  


Spring is coming.  Right?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A True Story...

If you're not new to my blog/life you likely remember Julie.  I haven't updated on her for awhile and thanks to a sweet comment from Amy@ My 
Front Porch, I realized I should because frankly it's quite a good story.

If you need to get up to date, you can go to this post to get the back-story (for the record, I had to re-read to to figure out where I left off ;)

So.  In 2009-2010 Julie (from Norway) was our exchange student.  In May of 2010 she finished her year as an exchange student and went back to Norway to finish her last year of school there (they go 13 years.)

Through reasons that can only be explained by God, she decided to come back to Iowa to attend a University that is only about 15 minutes from our tiny town.  If you read that last post about Julie, you'll see that I was really looking forward to getting a do-over with her.  Our experience with her as an exchange student was wonderful.  And crazy all at the same time.

We learned so much about teenagers.  And parenting of teenagers.  Boyfriends and dating and curfews and saying no and setting restrictions and enforcing and protecting.  To Julie's credit, she was pretty easy-going as far as exchange students go.  She took it in stride, and respectfully submitted...even if there were some tears involved.  She never ran off and slammed her bedroom door.  I remember Ben and I looking at each other many times and saying, "Our own kids are not going to act so graciously about our rules."  

Her first year at college, I helped her move in and get settled.  We occasionally had coffee together or she'd stop by the house, but I remember telling Ben that it wasn't quite the do-over I expected.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it seemed like there was something that was causing a distance between us.  I became the "mom" who had to ask 20 questions in order to get any information.  

And then late in the winter or early spring she went on a retreat with a group of college kids from her church.  (Julie just shared her testimony about this retreat at her church's college group, and the Pastor sent me the CD so I could hear it, so it's how I know the inside-story :)  During the retreat they were encouraged to really sit quietly with God to see if there were areas in their life that they needed to ask forgiveness in order to move on...and other stuff.

Julie was reminded of something that had happened when she lived with us as an exchange student.  I do not know that details of the event (Thank you Jesus) but it involved her lying to Ben and I.  She felt convicted and knew God wanted her to call and apologize to us.  She shares in her testimony that she did NOT want to make that call.  She did her best to rationalize that it was in the past, and really wasn't necessary to bring it up again.  But the gut feeling wouldn't ease, and she made the call.

When she called, she was crying so hard I could barely understand what she was saying.  I knew she was apologizing for something that had happened when she lived here...and it didn't matter what it was or the details...but I knew without a doubt that she was sorry and that God was moving in her life. I reassured her that all was forgiven, and that we loved her, and that we were so proud of her for doing the hard thing and being obedient to God's nudging.

I hung up that phone so incredibly humbled for the opportunity to be a part of Julie's life.  Our greatest desire had always been to encourage her in her faith.   To witness her doing the hard things necessary to grow was beyond worth it!

And it opened the door for that do-over that I had so looked forward to. :)  The guilt that she had felt had hindered our relationship...without either of us really knowing it.  God taught both of us something really valuable...when he nudges us to do something, even if we think or want it to be invalid: It's not. He wants us to do the hard things because He knows it's what brings us freedom.  We have a closeness now that we didn't have before.  

This year, Julie is already a Junior in college and is working as a RA (Resident's Assistant) and she's interning at the (quite large) church she attends.  God is using her life, and her testimony and we are so very proud of the woman that she is allowing God to shape her into.  She stops in for visits, and every now and then stays for a couple days...and we feed her.  

Occasionally we reminisce about the events that lead her here to tiny town Iowa.  I'm still in awe that we even decided to have an exchange student in the first place!  It seemed like a crazy idea, but isn't that just like God?  He works in the crazy, unexpected ways.  

Julie is and will always be one of our family.  And I'm not gonna lie...I'm really hoping she falls in love with an American boy that loves Jesus as much as she does.  But I'll let God write that story...but I can still hope. ;)

Here's our Christmas card this year...and then I promise no more Christmas pictures till next year. 




Side Note:  I'm working on an "interview" for Julie so that she can answer some questions on the blog.  If you have any questions you might like to ask her (i.e. How annoying is the parsonage family?) go ahead and leave a comment for email me and I will add it to the list.  Fun, right!?!





Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lucy is Colorblind

All three boys spent last week in Wisconsin at their Aunt & Uncle's house.  It was super quiet at our house, and Lucy didn't ask where they were until Thursday.  Weird.

The boys had a blast.  And got to visit Lambau Field,  home of the Green Bay Packers.  My oldest, Noah, is a huge fan.  They even got to watch practice...which I am secretly completely jealous of.  Anyways....

They got all kinds of memorabilia.  One, was a Greg Jennings (at least I think it's him) fan.


Yesterday, Lucy and I went to get groceries, and when we got out of the van, she saw the above fan laying on the floor.  She pointed and yelled "DADDY!"

It was awesome.  Even better, was when Ben got home last night and I could re-live the moment.  Hysterical.

Also, and this is just a side note, but Eli (my middlest) promised me he was going to marry a Jamaican because he watched the Olympics and they are fast runners.  I am all for this.  Middlest better keep his word.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Butt-Load

My kids have a butt-load of cousins.  What?  You say boat-load?  You must be classy.  Or not from Iowa.  Or both.  I actually probably can't blame it on all Iowans, this may be just my own improperness.  

We're land locked, we barely have the need for boats.  But butts...

Anyways.  We did a lot of hanging out with cousins this summer, because frankly:  Cousins are the best.  They're friends AND family and they have the same mutual understanding that no one else anywhere in any other family is as awesome as you are together.  

Seriously, my cousins and I still hold to this sacred truth.  And so do my kids.





They owned the slip and slide like no one's business.



This is one set of cousins.









And who can conspire together better than cousins?  No one.


And who can torment each other better than cousins?


Why, even sweet little Lucy knows the answer to that.  No one.  


She kept standing right in the way, giving them her best blank stare, while they yelled "Lucy, MOVE!!!"  


Sister knows.



She knows that there's no one better to sit with in the pool and snack on soggy cheese puffs than...a cousin.


We love cousins.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That's Just Who He Is

We are low-key kinda people.  Me especially.  Father's Day has come and gone, without any tribute (on said blog)  to my dear husband and father of our four kids.  But that's okay, because I have pictures instead.  



No need for flowery word pictures by me.  Instead, I have the pictures he took himself, while the boys and I were out shopping for Fathers Day presents.


We left Lucy and Daddy home alone.  No one purposely shops with Lucy.  You know those screaming kids who throw a fit when they don't get what they want?  That. is. her. right. now.  Ugh.  It will pass...hopefully sooner rather than later.


Anyways, while we were away, they made BLT's together and then sat at her new little table and chairs.  Together.  And then Ben took pictures because he knew I would want that moment captured, had I actually been home.


He probably didn't think I'd blog them.  ha.





Real life, real daddy.  Makes my heart smile.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Awwww







Cousins are so much fun.

Logan & Lucy






Ridiculously cute together.  But wait...there's more...


There's a new baby cousin...Halle.  

I know, don't worry...I just died from the cuteness too.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Lovin'


It was just one of those picture perfect days in June.  In Iowa.  


One of those days that I dream of in January.  And February.  And March...

We played at the farm.  Ben and I both grew up about 20 minutes from where we currently live:  Tiny Town.  Ben's dad farms beef cattle and crops and we all love hanging out there...especially the kiddos.











I love you Summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It is What it Is...

There's plenty of stuff I avoid blogging about.  Mostly because parts of the story are not mine to tell.  And figuring out what parts are, and what parts are not...is tricky.  And avoidance is easier.  


But lately I can't shake the feeling that it's time.  That ongoing inner dialogue with the Holy Spirit...Him nudging and me resisting...it's a dance we're both familiar with.  


So here goes.  Here goes honesty.  The unspoken thoughts turn to written-down-gone-viral-can't-be-taken-back words.


My words.  My experience.  My perspective.  Completely and utterly one-side of a story that has, possibly, a different view from every direction.  I'm not pretending to know the experience, or feelings of my other family members.  That's their story.  But I do know my thoughts.  My feelings, and my take on life. 


This is my story.  (insert that sound from Law & Order)


For eleven years now, I have been part of a step-family.  I may have just heard the whole internet mumble under their breath, who isn't?  I know, I know...it's common and old news.  Cliche.  And hard.  


Being in a step-family is odd.  And sometimes uncomfortable, even when you like them.  And during the times that it does feel comfortable, it almost always feels awkward to me, even after all this time.  Does that make sense?  


Movies are made about it all the time.  I mean, c'mon, we all know from Cinderella how mean and ugly step-mothers and step-sisters are.  There's always two options shown...the mean-evil ones, and the super nice ones where everyone loves each other...cue The Brady Bunch.  And then there's real life...


My parents divorced when I was 21ish.  My Mom remarried when I was 23.  By that time Ben and I had been married a couple years and I was very pregnant with my first-born, Noah.  My sister was a teenager, and my brother was 11ish.   


My Mom's new husband had three children as well, all in different stages of teenhood.  


Both families were sort of reeling from the loss of their nuclear family.  Mine, to a messy, painful divorce and theirs from the sudden loss of their mom (the details of which are not my story to tell.)  


Because I was the oldest, and already married, my experience of the whole combining families  is totally different than that of my siblings and step-siblings.  I missed a lot of the drama.  And because Ben and I were starting a family of our own, I was distracted enough, in all honesty, to just be content watching it all play out...from the outside.


My mom, and step-dad (whom I almost always referred to as "My Mom's Husband" rather than step-dad because I was grown when they married,  but now after 11 years I can say he is a great guy and very much a father figure to me and a grandpa to my children) wanted us all to mesh together as a single family unit.  They did not want it to be two families, but one family.  And to their credit, they did all that they could to foster that.  Their intentions were good.  


In the beginning, I think we all kind of went along with it.  Each family knew that there was no going back to their original family life...so the idea of The Brady Bunch was appealing.  We avoided using the term "step" whenever possible.  We worked hard at treating each other like real siblings.  And for me, that worked...for awhile.


And then time went on, and we all became older.  New people were added to the family by marriage, babies were born...and lines were drawn by all.  Sometimes visible one, and sometimes invisible.  Sometimes I wanted those lines there, and sometimes I didn't, but either way, the lines are there.  It's part of the complication of blending families.  Because you're family, and at the same time, you're family once-removed.  


And for me, it became too hard to treat everyone the same.  Because we are not all the same.  I care very much for my step-siblings and their families.  They are good people.  But the bond I have with them is not the same as with my sister and brother whom I share a father and mother with.  A childhood with.  A connection that just comes from being blood.  My investment in my sister and brother is fierce.  And my pretending otherwise is really beneficial to no one.  


It is what it is.  We were two families, joined into one...but we don't really become one, because you can't.  We are still two, who do their best to function as one when we need to.  And I think that's ok.  And it's not anyone's first choice.  And it's ok to say it.  Out loud. It's not disrespectful.  It's not out of anger, or apathy.  It's from the heart.  It's the truth.  


I think after 11 years, we are all learning to let it be what it is, rather than forcing it into what we wish it were.  And from what I can tell, it is sort of a never ending process.  Each person figuring it out for themselves at their own pace, with their own rules, at the same time trying to figure out each other's pace and rules...the very definition of blending.  It's tricky...which doesn't mean it's a bad thing...but it is tricky.


Sometimes the hardest thing to admit and be content with,  is that it is what it is.  
  










Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The List

I'm not kidding when I tell you that I often sit down to blog, and then just "check a few other sights first" and get completely distracted by other peoples decorating-crafting-fashion-genius and by the end of it I can't even remember what I sat down to write about in the first place.


ADD.


We are in full summer break mode here in the parsonage.  It's magical.  Well, most of it is magical.  The bickering and complaining and such is...not magical. 


Several weeks ago the family and I made a Summer Bucket List, which I copied from another blogger.  I think I copied it from Meg at Whatever, because generally I want to copy everything about her.  But don't tell her, because I may have not even ever left a comment on her blog and then that makes me seem all stalkerish.  


So the family and I made a Summer Bucket List.





What seems to happen to us, is at the end of every summer we start to remember fifty thing that "we were going to do" but forgot about.  And I'm a procrastinator, which means I always think there's {plenty} of time to get around to doing whatever we need to do...and there's not.


The kids flipped over the list.  They love it.  We're going to cross stuff off as we go.  (It' hanging on the wall in the old kitchen, in case you were wondering. :)


Do you do this sort of thing to?  Has it worked for you?  Please say YES!



Saturday, May 12, 2012

New to the Family...

We have a new immediate family member.  After much thought and flip-flopping back and forth we decided to take the plunge.  Into puppy-land.


We've had a dog.  I mean, who could forget this?  Or this?  Man we loved that dog.  It's been close to two years since we had to put Odie to sleep because of old age and failing health.  Odie was enjoying middle-age life when he came to live with us.  And we like middle-aged lazy dogs.  


 
They're the best.


So puppyhood seemed scary.  And impractical.  But sometimes scary and impractical conjure up the best parts of life.






Meet Nelson.  








He's a 15 week-old Red Dapple Dachshund.   And I hate to even type it out loud, but he is super, super good.  He's crate trained, which means at night and while we are away from home he's in the crate and hasn't had an accident yet.  During the day, we've been taking him outside all the time and he hasn't had an accident since the very first morning he was here.  (and that could be blamed on three boys who I will refrain from naming.)


He's gentle, and soft, and loves to snuggle...and give kisses.  




We found him online and he was fairly close to our area.  He was also half the price of most dachshund puppies.  Score.  And by the time we finally got around to make a decision on adopting him, his price had been reduced even more.  


It was meant to be.


Lucy is warming up to him.  She may have been a little intimidated since she's been the littlest and cutest in this household for the past two years.  It's hard to share.  We've reassured her she's still the cutest....except when she's throwing a fit, because then we totally hand that title right over to the puppy.


Welcome to the parsonage family little guy.  Don't make me regret you.  *wink*

Monday, May 7, 2012

Holding On While Letting Go


Two.  

It's a little bizarre, realizing how fast two years can wiz by.  I'm realizing I deal differently with Lucy growing up, versus the three boys growing up.  At each of the boys birthdays, I get a little sentimental...a little sad that they are growing.  Which is dumb, I know, because the are meant to grow.  It is a gift to watch them grow, but in the growing is also a knowing that with each year that passes they become a little less mine, and a little closer to becoming someone else's.  

And that's a good thing.  A beautiful plan...that those little boys are growing (so very fast) and becoming young men...handsome young men, who will one day capture the heart of a girl.  And though that young girl won't replace me, she will take over that young mans heart, the heart that now belongs to his mama alone.  

I think that's what makes being a mama to boys so very special, so unique.  





With Lucy, it's different.  It seems easier for me to approach each stage with a simple joy.  With each new crazy thing she does, it's just fun to watch her.  






I love her two year old self...but I don't long for it to last.  I didn't feel weepy over how fast it's going.  Instead, I can just enjoy her...and even anticipate what's to come as she grows.  As a girl, I know that our relationship as mother and daughter will deepen so very much.  I mean, after all, I'm a pretty great grown-up-daughter friend!  I'm sure I'm way more fun than when I was two!  


Lord willing, Lucy will grow up into a beautiful young woman...and a handsome young man will capture her heart someday, just like her daddy did to mine.  And when I think about that, I smile.  Which is funny, because when I think about girls capturing my boys...It's more of a furrowing of the brow, that crosses my face.  


Anyways.  You see the difference.  


With Lucy, I don't have that sense of her "slipping" away from me as she grows.  (Poor Ben will have to deal with that one. ;)  And as I watch parents around me, who have children who are grown, I realize that parenting is always about enjoying the moment, and of holding on while letting go.


I am so thankful for these four amazing little people that God has created from Ben and I.  Please God, help us survive the teenage years that will approach far too soon...and please help Lucy not to have a sassy mouth like her mother.  Amen.




Tuesday, April 10, 2012

His for Mine





I know technically Easter is a once a year holiday.  But around here, for me, Jesus and the cross...it's a daily thing.  Because what He did, and my faith in that, makes me who I am.  I can't separate from it.  


Remembering what He did.  Why He did it.  Where I'd be without His gift...His life for mine.  




A faith, and relationship with God...who is very much Alive.




So once a year, we get dressed up extra special for church and we take pictures.  Hunt eggs and gorge on chocolate...but the real celebration of the resurrection is so much more than that one day.


Side note:  Turns out I've been enjoying the Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs almost daily as well...that relationship needs to end...and least that's what my jeans-that-are-too-tight are trying to tell me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Before & After

We are all about hand-me-downs here in the parsonage.  We love them...like reallllly love them.  


There's something about broken-in stuff that is just...easy.  I mean, the fact that it's free helps....but there's something about the fact that it's already broken-in that just makes my family love it more. This winter, I bought the boys new coats...and then a few weeks later they received hand-me-down ones from my cousins.  Guess which ones they wore all winter?  Not the new ones.  


We're weird.


Whatever.  Back to my story.


My mother-in-law has furnished a vast majority of our home with her extra furniture.  When we first got married, we "borrowed" some stuff, ya know, to use until we got around to actually buying furniture.  Portions of it we've been borrowing for close to 14 years now.  


New is terribly over-rated.  It has no story.  No past.  No memories.


Unlike these beauties:








They are my mother-in-laws.  But had been living at my sister-in-laws.  And then made it back to my mother-in-laws and then she offered them to me.


And of course you know what I said.  


And after a little paint and a clearance curtain panel from Target, they look like this:







There's four of them in total.  Two have found a home at the dining table and two others are hanging around the rest of the house.  


Adorable, right?