Saturday, December 12, 2009

Update From the Trenches

Have you missed me? I've missed you.

I'm afraid our computer D.I.E.D. three days past my birthday. Sad. I thought about draping a white cloth over it, but decided that might just be too much. Even too dramatic for me. We're working on restoring our computer. The good news is all my files are still alive and well. That's a true miracle since I'm pretty sure a mean old virus attacked our innocent computer. But, God protected our goodies, so we're OK. It'll just take a while to get everything sorted out and back online.

In the meantime, here's a very brief update on us. I'm still 30. Hee hee. Christmas is less than two weeks away and I have bought a total of one present per child. They won't be getting much more than that, but that's not what Christmas is really about anyway.

Jason has applied for a full time position with the Texas Air National Guard. We are hoping and praying this is God's will for us and that we return to the Mother Land soon. [All you true blue Texans know what I mean!] It would be so sweet to live near so many family members. The only downside would be leaving our beautiful church and also my amazing sister. Rachel would stay here until she finishes out her one year contract with the school. Anyways... Please pray God's perfect will.

Motherhood is... continually a roller coaster ride. One moment I am filled with love and joy for the little blessings and then the next moment I'm overwhelmed with their demands and cries. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, but sometimes I feel so alone out here in the motherhood trenches.

Here is my scripture for today:
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. ~ Psalm 40:2, NLT

I want to stand on solid ground! NO matter what comes my way.

So that's the update. Love you guys!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

remembering the birthdays past as I press onto my 30s

This is my last day "in my twenties". Tomorrow I cross over to the thirties. Today I glance over my shoulder, reliving the past ten years [20-29].

I burst out of my teenage years and into the bright and sunny twenties while attending York College. My sister Rachel flew into York, NE to celebrate the big 2-0.

When I turned the legal-drinking-age of 21, we snuck away to Hutchinson, KS so I could use my new purchasing and legal drinking powers. Wink-wink. We're the "good girls" so the damage was pretty minimal.

I don't remember turning 22... But, my 23rd birthday will never be forgotten!! That year, we really celebrated. My dear college friend, Autumn, and my dear friend/sister, Rachel, and I flew down to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for three days of sunbathing and ocean floating. Ah, bliss. We split fancy appetizers at the local restaurant; got sea-sick from floating in the waves for hours at a time; shewed away the tiny fish from the hot pink bows on our swim suits; and lit birthday candles on the beach in the dark. Beautiful, precious memories. Thank, girls! [Oh, and Happy Birthday to my Autumn Brooke!]

My 24th birthday was the first one to celebrate with my amazing and handsome husband. We thought I was pregnant, but the pregnancy test was negative. However, we conceived our firstborn two weeks later, discovering the pregnancy on Thanksgiving Day 2003 [seven months after our wedding].

Isaiah was about three months old when I turned 25 years old. My sweet Duckie friends traveled from NE to TX to celebrate with me. I dyed my hair blond.

I blew out 26 candles while sporting a huge, nine-month-pregnant belly with little Rose inside my womb. Rose was born three days later on October 26th. What a precious birthday gift from the Lord.

By my 27th birthday, I was pregnant again. My Lela Mae was busy growing and making herself known inside of me. We celebrated Rose turning one year old. I do not remember how we celebrated my birthday. Probably my favorite way, with a date!

I felt great when I turned 28! I had lost about twenty pounds of pregnancy weight, I wasn't pregnant and I just felt like ME! The actual birthday day, Jason was working. So, Rachel [who had moved in a few months earlier] and my sweet friend Lindsey helped me celebrate around our tiny dining room table. A week later Jason whisked me off for an overnight birthday gift. We also bought a guitar for me. [Sadly, I don't use that $350 guitar anymore... but, it sure is pretty.] And, I dyed my hair red. It was a great birthday!

Twenty-ninth birthday was eerily similar to my 26th. I was hugely pregnant again, this time with Samuel James. We celebrated my birthday with a sweet dinner to my favorite Italian restaurant and a movie. My belly ached and I contracted the whole birthday date, hoping so much to go into labor. Five days later, Samuel James was born. Another birthday gift from the Lord.

One year later, we prepare for three birthdays. Rose is turning four, Samuel will turn one, and I will be 30 years old. I am not pregnant. [hee-hee] We are planning a BIG Birthday Party on Sunday for all three of us.

It has been a good decade. So many intense blessings. I thank God for the gifts of my 20s and for the things he has taught me. Tomorrow, I step into the unknown world of 30s. I am encouraged by the beautiful women around me who are in their 30s.

Good-bye 20s; hello 30s!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

this and that and a but

There's a change abrewing. Can you feel it in the air? Just as Autumn's crips winds blow across the land and color the leaves, our lives are turning. We may not be long for Virginia.... But, I'll keep you posted.

Jason is working the "swing shift". I am alone in the evenings. Perhaps I'll have more time to write. I hope so. I miss it. Life overflows and pushes out my hobbies.

Although, I did get a beautiful doggie. She's gorgeous. One [of many] birthday presents for my big 3-0 birthday was a little cocker spaniel puppy. We named her Wendy. I love her. I know, I know I have enough to do with four small children. BUT, I wanted a dog. Go figure.

OH yes, speaking of "BUT"... Try to explain to a four-year-old why it's OK to say "but" but not "butt". We don't say "butt" in our house, but we do say "but". Rose totally does not get it. I'll be talking and innocently insert the word "but" and she'll squeal "you said BUTT!" We went around and around about but vs butt to no avail. Oh well.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

un-noticed treasures

Do you ever feel un-noticed? Oh, sure, they know we're there, but sometimes I feel like all the many things I do for my kids go un-noticed.

Today I take heart. Today, God hit me with His Word. Check it out:

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.....But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." -Matthew 6:1,3,4

Now, I know Jesus is not talking about mothering [specifically], but more doing good things for the "needy". But, I think this scripture really can apply to motherhood. After all, aren't our children needy? I know they sure do NEED me. "Momma, I'm hungry!" "I'm thirsty!" "I need to go potty!" "WAH!!" OH yes, quite needy.

Sometimes, doesn't it feel like your right hand doesn't know what your left hand is doing? Passing the juicy cup while you're diapering the squirmy baby can be quite confusing.

It is OK that the kids don't always notice because God notices. God sees what is done "in secret", in the privacy of my busy home. He sees the loading and the unloading of the dishwasher. He sees me scrubbing the toilet bowl and wiping pee of the floor several times a day. God sees me washing all those loads and loads of laundry. It may go un-noticed here on earth, but not in Heaven.

Jesus also says, "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." [Matt. 6:20] Motherhood offers me many opportunities to store up treasures in heaven. There, my work will pay off. My work of serving and teaching my children. What treasures my children will be in Heaven!

Fellow Mommies, know that we are noticed! God sees us. Keep up the good work. Teach and admonish and train your children. You are storing up treasures in Heaven!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

why mommies go crazy

What a day; and it is only 8:00am. Here's a recap.

6:00am I am startled awake by Isaiah standing directly in front of my face, beside my bed. The room is illuminated by the light streaming in past the wide open door. He says, "Mommy, the girls are awake!" I give him permission to take the gate down to the girls' room so they can all three go downstairs. I hear the gate pop out of the door frame, the girls giggle, and I listen to all three head downstairs. I doze back asleep, keeping one ear open for any loud sounds of disgruntled kids from downstairs.

6:20am I hear Sam through the baby monitor. He is cooing and talking to himself. Getting up, I note the time. I feel like I've slept in; it's gonna be a good day!

6:25am Samuel and I head downstairs.

6:26am I see a tall-tale sign of pee on the couch. I know it's pee by the shape. It is pee that has leaked out of a very full overnight pull-up. It means Rose sat on the couch in her full pull-up and chose to pee in it instead of peeing in the toilet. It makes me mad and I get onto the non-concerned Rose. She shrugs and heads to the bathroom to take care of her overflowing pull-up.

6:30am "Where's Lela?" "She's in the bathroom." I decide to check on her. There's poop on the front of the potty chair. Mmm... weird. "Why is poop on the front, Lela?" She shrugs. The poopy mystery is quickly solved when I find Lela's discarded pull-up. "You pooped in your pull-up???" Lela hasn't pooped in her pull-up in nine months. My world is quickly spinning, looping around into some crazy mommy universe, pulling me by my ankles into the quicksand. I go off on a poop lecture, talking very seriously and loudly about poop and pull-ups and toilets and, for good measure to Rose's listening ears, pee and couches. Sam cries at the door, mad that he is not allowed in the bathroom for the poo-poo party.

6:45am Both girls dressed in clean clothes. Poopy and pee-pee pull-ups taken out in the bathroom trash.

7:00am "Mom, why is there water in the dining room?" "WHAT?!" Yep, there is standing water beside the outer wall of the dining room. The rain from the night has leaked into my house. I send Isaiah upstairs for towels. "Rough morning?" My sister, Rachel, asks me. She is beautifully dressed and ready for her first day of school as a teacher. "You have no idea," I tell her, trying to not bite her head off.

7:15am My hands are full of trash when I discover the kitchen trash is full! I see evidence that the other adults in the house also knew the trash was full. Rachel's milkshake Styrofoam cup is practically falling out of the top of the can and Jason's empty juice bottles are actually sitting beside the full kitchen trash can. Sitting beside it!! This is it for me. I loose it. "Am I the only adult in the house who takes the trash out??!! Why should anyone else do it? They know I will!!" and the martyr syndrome prevails.

I hate loosing it. I do not want to be moved by my circumstance. Motherhood offers me so many opportunities to grow and learn. Sometimes I pass; sometimes I fail; and sometimes it ends up only be a pretest for later.

I am hoping the day improves. I haven't even started on the To-Do List like sweeping and mopping the whole downstairs floors. Sigh.

"Even youths grow tired and weary and young men [or women] stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:29-31

Thursday, September 03, 2009

jess, the writer, not just the mom

There is something about a quiet house. First of all, it is rare. For us. I suppose those of you without tiny ones, a quiet house might be taken for granted. But not here, at the Keys House. Jason left for work in the wee hours of the morning today [3:45am] and I decided the house was much too quiet to ignore. I know, I know, I ought to be sleeping. Another precious and rare commodity around here. But, I am too drawn to this odd revelry of silence. Ahh...

I have not been blogging much lately. At first, I wasn't blogging frequently because blogging has been bumped lower and lower on my priority list. But now, it is because I have been going elsewhere to find fulfillment as a writer. That's right, I am a writer, not just a mom. As a writer, I love to write. [Duh! -Oh, did I just write that?] I have loved writing since I was eight years old when I wrote my first short story. [It was about a rat named Bartholomew - remember that, Daddy?]

Now, here I am, a mother of four kids under five, and I still have this huge craving to write. Blogging, emails, poetry, etc feed my craving to write; but, lately, I have also been snitching time here and there to write [are you ready for this?] a novel. Yes, yes, a novel. Ah, just saying/writing it feels wondrous. To take some of the intimidating edge off such a huge project, I am sharing the authorship with my sister and mother. All three of us are writing this novel. It is awesome. The novel is taking shape. We hammered out a great outline and character descriptions. [Essentials to a good novel, according to all the writing books I have read.] About one-fourth of the chapters are written; we are well on our way to creating something special.

Back to the quiet house. The rarely and wondrously, quiet house. It is my favorite time to write. Once everyone is up, I can stillwrite; but it is harder. Aside from their "Mommy, I want..." and me getting up from my writing to get the juice, cereal, water, fresh undies, etc, I also have to ignore the loud playing, the PBS cartoons, the occasional breakout fights, the crying baby, etc. Just thinking clearly can be a challenge, must more to think creatively!

That's what I've been up to. I will try to not completely abandon you all in the blog-sphere. I know many of you out there miss me [and I, YOU] and that this blog is a very real link between us. So, I am here. When you miss my daily posts, please use the moment to pray for us and my special project.

To God be the glory, today!!

"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." -John 6:63

[Cool verse, huh? A good reminder as I set out on my day. I wanna walk in the Spirit!!]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

well spring of life in the midst of homeschooling doubts

Three weeks ago, I started the all-amazing act of homeschooling my children. Have we done school every day of the work week? Um... no. Not at all. Officially, we "did school" about four times. Twice with just me and Isaiah; and twice with the whole crew [minus the sleeping Samuel]. [On an "un-schooling" note: we unofficially did school when we read books about trees, planets, trains, people, places and things. And the Bible. Just saying.]

Up until today, I considered myself a failure at homeschool. Which is really sad since I have a kindergartner and preschooler and have only been at it for under a month. I had no clue homeschool would require so much time and effort. Being, well, you know, ME, I thought I would just breeze through it all. I'm organized! I'm creative! I like to teach! It was going to be so easy.

It is SO NOT EASY! Well, the lessons are easy. After all, it is kindergarten. But, for me, the hardest part is coming to grips with the loss of my free time. I treasure my free time. I have worked hard to carve out the remnant of free time. Often my "free time" consists of my ignoring the children so I can blog, write, read or something non-mommy-like. That valued time will have to be filled with planning and then with teaching if I am to successfully homeschool my kids.

I am doing research now. My original curriculum I purchased, I do not like. At all. It is not organized enough for me and I feel like I'm floundering about with it. I should have done more research about homeschooling in general.

My little guys are so smart, I want to do them justice. I don't want any of those smarts and learning excitement to go to waste. My kids attending public school so they can become little solder/worker bees is not my heart's wish. I want my kids home, with me. I want to be the biggest influence in their lives; not another person with different morals and standards.

And so, I choose to homeschool. Today, I recommit to homeschool. I am aware of the struggle and the dedication it will take from me and I am deciding to take my stand and JUST DO IT!

Now, before the far too familiar feeling of being overwhelmed consumes me, I am gonna take a big, long, thirst-quenching drink of Christ's Truth. Mmm... Now, that's refreshing.

“Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” [John 1:14]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

demainding motherhood

Is it OK that I feel like I just can't do this? Is that OK?

And then, the phone rang. And I was awakened from this sinking pit of "I can't do this!"

What is it about motherhood that brings me to my knees? Why is parenting so dad gum hard? I love my kids; I think they're amazing. I look at them and I wonder how in the world am I going to do them justice?

There are so many demands. And I mean D.E.M.A.N.D.S. Children demand attention. They demand [sometimes politely] food and drinks and bath time and playtime.

"More milk please," she says. And I'm off. Off to fill the many demands of my many children. Intense blessings for sure.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a Mommy Retreat


I'm much better, thank you. At least, for the moment. There is this underlying thing... I can't really describe it. Just this thing beneath it all, nagging at me, pulling me under.

So, here's my plan. Continue to pray, read the word and give myself grace. While I do all that, I have got a self-prescribed Mommy Retreat in the works.

What's a Mommy Retreat? [I know, I know, just the sound of it is glorious! Can you hear the swell of music?? Ah...] A Mommy Retreat includes checking into a hotel. Alone. Bringing my Bible, my journal, a pen, etc. Taking a long bubble bath. Sipping hot tea and staring out the window. Taking a walk in the evening air. You get the picture; basically, whatever Mom wants to do. Imagine that!

Right now, the plan is for me to redeem a free message I earned last Spring on Thursday. Then, make way to a nice [but not expensive] hotel. After a few hours of prayer, bubble bathing, and reading, a few good friends of mine are going to come over to pray with me. We're going to ask God for direction as to the root of whatever is causing my heartache and pain. We're trusting the Lord to come and heal me and make me whole.

After that... Sleep. Since my darling Samuel is sill nursing, Jason will bring him to me. So, I'll still be a mommy through the night. Jason might spend the night, too. I figure I'll be needing some loving. [I mean hugs, you guys! Geez! Get your mind out of the gutter! Wink-wink.]

Friday plans are still very much up in the air. But, the Mommy Retreat should continue through the day and possibly that night. We'll see. Depends on Jason's works schedule, our finances and how relaxed I'm getting.

Just the thought of the retreat brings me peace and hope. I am fighting feelings of guilt for leaving the kids... But, I know they will be better off with a whole and relaxed mommy.

Thanks to you all for your prayers and encouragement. Hope you are having a blessed Lord's day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

pass the life preserver, please

Today is hard. My head is hurting. I am swirling around in the midst of life, holding for dear life to my promises of Truth. While I'm not drowning, I am choking on the water.

I feel like as soon as I stand and smile, something awful happens that tips me over. Or, maybe not even awful, but just hard. And suddenly, I'm laying on my face, crying and feeling oh, so overwhelmed.

I just want to feel better. What does it take? A mommy break? A chocolate cake? A date? A Bible Study? Prayer? A drink? A good cry? Telling a friend? The trouble is, I've done all that!! Still feeling sad. Underneath it all.

But I'm still smiling on the outside. Yea. Because I'm being "joyful always", darn it. So. Yea. Unless you read this post, you won't know anythings wrong. Because I've got it all figure out, can't you tell? Yep, that's me. All my ducks in a nice row. My children well dressed and smiling. My husband is happy.

So what the heck is wrong with me.

Oh, well, now I'm being melodramatic. Just ignore me, please. I'm being silly. Nothing to see here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

i am not a bumpaholic; i'm a mother

Are you kidding me????

I stumbled upon this ridiculous article about "Bumpoholics". Yes. Apparently, that's a word. These pompous psychologist are claiming that women "get addicted to having babies". I felt sick to my stomach while reading through the article and the follow-up discussion from other readers. It is a huge example of how society does not see children the way our God, the creator of life, sees children.

Children are not a burden. They do not ruin our lives; they enrich our lives. They make us break out of our selfish selves and consider others first.

Despite my four pregnancies, I am certainly NOT addicted to having babies. The very thought makes me laugh! I do not enjoy pregnancy. It hurts! It's uncomfortable. I feel like a crazy woman with all the emotions. Not to mention the incredible enjoyment of labor pains and childbirth! There are several reasons why I've had four kids [and will probably have more]. None of them being because pregnancy is just so much FUN.

Hey faithful readers, check out that article and comment back to me. It's so ridiculous. I think it's so sad that people feel this way about large families. I love my [en]-larging family!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

babies and no babies

The morning is quiet. Five minutes until six am and Jason has just left the house for his day out in the world. My children are asleep [or at least quiet in their beds]... for now. Any minute, I will hear Rose's door crack open and her insistent patting on the gate that keeps my night-time wonderer safe in her room. And so will begin the mommy part of my day. Lord, prepare me!

Samuel, my darling baby, is starting to take steps. Yes, walking!! He is just nine months old; the go getter. I love it. He has great balance and can stand for long periods of time. Just this past week he started daring to take a step. I dreamed last night he ran to me. It won't be long. He is so small, it is adorable to see him walking. But, it does catch the breath in my throat. Because I know. I know what it means. It means I will miss his hands padding across the floor in that adorable bear crawl, his bottom up in the air as he barrels across the room. I will miss my Samuel-baby when he starts walking his way to toddler-hood. I know what it means. I've been here before.

Nine months and counting. Jason and I are managing our blessed fertility and have managed nine months with no new baby on the horizon. We're quite thrilled. [Although, should God move us aside and plant life within me here in the tenth month post-partum, we would be thrilled then, too. Just FYI.] Since my blog was birthed by my search for God's will concerning birth control, I like to keep all concerned readers [wink,wink] up to date on these kinds of things. So, for those of you who care or were wondering but were too polite to ask..... To manage our fertility we are tracking my cycle by watching and charting all fertility signs. Then when fertility signs are a "go for launch" we, er, keep the "launching" under wraps. You see, we've discovered these adorable little rubber thingies... anyways... FYI. TMI? Oops... Now you know.

Now that I've embarrassed myself [and am considering deleting that last paragraph, but, well who cares. I've blogged about all that stuff before, why stop now??] I think I'll sign off.

Blessings to all and may you have a wonderful day in the LORD!!

"Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2: 6

Friday, July 31, 2009

what's in YOUR closet?

I made it through the week. More than that, I was blessed through the week and just, plain, enjoyed it! Yea!!

My house feels more like home. I believe I have unpacked everything. Laundry continues to be mountains, but when is it not? Really. Isn't that just life with a big family?

The next project: my closet. Whew. What a mess! The mess used to be in the very back of the closet. Now, the mess reaches all the way to the door. It is a walk-in closet, so we are talking about lots of mess. The closet is in definite need of help. There are boxes [a lot of boxes] from when we moved in a year ago. That's just sad. Baby stuff we don't need with Samuel anymore is just tossed half-hazardly in there. It's bad. I think I might take a "before" picture so I can show you what I mean! B. A. D.

While I had hoped to tackle the awful closet this weekend... The weekend is already full. Saturday we're participating in our housing's "Bargain Market" garage sale thing. Getting rid of the stuff cluttering our porch. Hoping to make a little money, but, mostly, just wanting to get rid of junk. After the Bargain Market, a friend is coming over so Jason and help him fix his car. That will be the rest of Saturday.

Sunday is church, company for dinner and then there goes the weekend. It will be a good weekend. Full. But, good. But no time for the crazy closet. Sigh. Dumb closet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over as I zig-zag around mothering

We have been home for one week.

A fast and furious week. I predicted we would "hit the ground running" upon the return from our roadtrip. Even with the prediction and the great, big breath I inhaled before we started "running", I am staggering from the past seven days.

My house continues to be an array of half-unpacked bags, scattered overgrowth of toys [where have all these toys come from???], continual dishes and a mound of laundry that would intimidate even the most accomplished of mothers.

My kids are slowly adjusting to the "new" sleeping quarters. Two-year-old Lela Mae has yet to sleep through the night since we've been home. The first four nights she was found wondering the hall, crying and distraught. The past few nights, she only cries in her bed. I suppose that means things are getting better... ???

The weekend proved useless. Jason worked 13-hour-shifts both Saturday and Sunday. I worked the nursery at church on Sunday [making it a total of EIGHT Sundays since I've actually sat through a service at Grace Church]. No rest for the weary. I am beyond tired; I am weary. Monday is upon us and the week stretches out, offering no reprieve.

I am stumble around, my eyes heavy from a night of on again/off again sleep, and try my darnedest to be a gracious and compassionate mother. A heavy fog thickens the air and I can hardly breathe, much less think.


Um, I just re-read my post and it sounds incredibly depressing. I must note that life is happy. I cuddle my babies and cry out to God with a grateful heart. My cup runneth over. [Obviously, I sweat the small stuff. I really need to be better about that.] Things are pretty crazy around here, but I have not given up. My scripture this week is:

"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:29 [italics mine]

So, you see? It really doesn't matter that my energy is depleted. In fact, truly, it is a good thing. This way, I can just take my hands out of things [which, I'm supposed to do anyway] and totally and completely rely on God's energy. Which, as Col 1:29 tells us, works powerfully in ME! I grab ahold of that hope and run this amazing race! Whew-hew! Off I go!

Monday, July 20, 2009

home again, home again

We're home!

After going 7,000 miles, the weary travelers return home. Only, we're not that weary. We are happy and sad to be home.

The home was as we left it; Rachel, my sister, took good care of our little home. The dog was fatter, the children's toys picked up and the fish were still alive. Not bad.

We walked around the house, unsure of what to do now. The adventure is over and "normal" is back upon us. We had become accustomed to a "new normal". Road trip normal.

Now I am back in my kitchen. My dishes. My king-size bed. My thermostat. My fatter-but-still-skinny dog. My lawn with the tall grass.

The kids ran around, admiring their old toys which now held the magic of new toys on Christmas. I ran my hand along the kitchen counter, finding it hard to believe that I was, once again, in my own kitchen.

Six weeks is a long time to be away. I am glad we had our month and a half road trip. But the adjustment to being home is proving to be more.... awkward than first expected.

Friday, July 17, 2009

wrapping up the mammoth roadtrip

We are in Illinois today. Drove in yesterday after driving a total of 19 hours of actual drive time. That doesn't include the time off road for potty breaks and lunch/dinner and hotel nights.

Our roadtrip is rapidly drawing to a close. I can hardly believe we are so close to the finish line. I am looking forward to being home, but I am also sad that this big adventure is over. It has been a grand adventure.

People say, "I couldn't do what you guys have done!! How did you do that??"

It makes me laugh outloud. The roadtrip has been wonderful. Driving/riding 7000 miles has been, truly, not that big of a deal. I know, I know, you all can't really believe me. But, it has been fun!

Unexpectedly, the hardest part of the trip has been the many good-byes. Bouncing in and out of people's lives has been bittersweet. To share for a few days their heartaches and hopes and then to hug them close before driving away.... has been so very difficult. Much more than anticipated.

Tomorrow, when we start the 15 hour drive home from IL to VA, I will take with me many wonderful memories of our 2009 Family Roadtrip. God has been gracious to us.

The following scripture God laid on my heart the day before we left [back in JUNE]. I meticulously printed the verse out onto a florescent yellow index card and taped it to my steering wheel. It has been our theme verse this past six weeks.

"And thanks be to God who goes before us in triumphal procession in Jesus Christ and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Cor 6:14

Monday, July 13, 2009

looking towards the futue with tears and with joy

Tomorrow we say good-bye. It is our second to last good-bye on this long road of good-byes.

For me, personally, this will be the hardest good-bye. Good-bye to my parents. Sigh. My heart already aches and my stomach is burning with anticipation.

I said good-bye to my baby sister already. In a few hours I will say good-bye to my baby brother. Life is hard for them right now. They are in the heat of the world, making decisions that will effect the rest of their life. It is hard to see them struggling so fiercely with the call of God on their heart. They are truly wrestling with the Word of God; fighting His soft voice.

On a brighter note: We have plotted out the rest of our journey. The final leg. Wowsers. From here, we drive through South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and to Illinois. In IL we'll spend time with my brother and his wife. And their kiddos. Then will come the final shove of the road trip as we high-tail it home to Virginia. We are only 34 hours to go on the trip. Eighteen to IL and 16 hours to home. So close.

I am ready to be home again. Sad to say good-bye, but joyfully looking towards returning to "normal" life. I have gained many wonderful memories on this roadtrip. I have dropped in and out of many people's lives. Many amazing host families have opened their home to me and my brood. It has been good.

Can't wait to make my photo book on Snapfish. That's my next project up on returning home. Yea!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

week five, day five.... wyoming time

We are in Wyoming this week. With my parents. My parents are some of my most favorite people. I love them deeply and I miss them horribly when we are home, 27 hours away, in VA.

Time with my precious parents is rushing away much too quickly. My heart is already growing sad with the good-bye I will not be ready for bright and early Tuesday morning. My throat constricts with the thought. How will I say good-bye? The future is uncertain; when will I see my mom and dad again?

I have to push these thoughts away in order to enjoy the visit. I want desperately to enjoy every moment. I am begging God to slow the time down to a sloooow crawl. Please, God!!

Here's the thing with this roadtrip: the visits are not what we really want. What we really want is to live less then a mile down the road from all these amazing friends and family. We cram in a year's worth of living with each visit. Late night visits, trying to make up for the loss of heart to hearts all year long. Mom cooks all our favorite meals, making up for the dinners we miss as time flies by.

My parents love on the kids, achingly soaking in all their childish ways and antics, knowing that the next time they see my kids so much growing up will have taken place. My baby won't be a baby next time. We miss so much of each other's lives. It truly breaks my heart.

So, I put it all on the shelf. And turn away. I choose to focus on the now and enjoy what I can of the moment. I also thank the Lord for his faithfulness. I know He loves me and has prepared a good future for me and my family. In Virginia. Not in Texas. Not in Arizona. Not in Wyoming. But, on the east coast. Far away from everyone.

It hurts.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Not Me Monday

Not Me Monday. Who-rah!! [Remember, Not Me Monday is a time to confess it all without really confessing.... So not me!]

It is not me who is both sad about leaving my in-laws [because I love them and I will miss them] and terribly excited about leaving [because it means I see my parents on Wednesday]!!

It is not me who has just now started to miss her house after being on this roadtrip for four weeks.

It is not me who thinks it has been good for my kids to sleep in various arrangements like air mattresses, KOA bunkbeds, and, at times, the floor. Not me. I pamper my kids...

It is not me who has totally enjoyed not having to cook dinner every night because I've been at someone else's house eating their dinner.

It is not me who loves her cup of sweet coffee in the AM. I do not snuggle it close to me like a long lost love, breathing in the delicious fragrance. Ah... I do not have a co-dependent relationship with coffee...

It is not me who has traveled over 3,500 miles away from home [and will begin the 3,5000 miles back home tomorrow!!] with FOUR KIDS in a mini-van!! Not me!! \

Sunday, July 05, 2009

a day on the road with four small children

"You are so brave," mommies whisper into my ear when I tell them of our 7000 mile roadtrip with four small children.

Truly, it makes me laugh. Brave has nothing to do with it; a strong desire to see my family and friends is what drives me, literally, down the road.

But what is it like roadtriping with four small children? The following is a mostly true description of a typical day on the road with the Keys family.

5:30am Samuel awakens with the sun. His sweet gurgles and coos awaken my daughters who are quick to run to our bed and play with their baby brother.

6:00am Begin packing the van. Sleeping bags rolled up; suitcases reorganized; dirty clothes into the dirty clothes bag; drink cups filled; everything out the door and to the van. We fit the items into the van like a jig-saw puzzle.

7:00am Breakfast. Either the hotel's contental breakfast, one more breakfast with those who love us or fast food.

7:30am Buckle up seat belts, re check the map and off we go!

7:35am "Can we watch a movie?" Almost-five-year-old Isaiah asks. Ice Age plays behind my head for the tenth time in one week.

8:30am Driven 70 miles. Only 400 left to go for the day. I sip my lukewarm coffee. Samuel drifts to sleep in the middle row of our minivan.

8:45am "MOM! She's hitting me!" "Shh!! Sam's sleeping!!"

9:00am "I'm hungry!" Crackers distributed by Daddy who is taking his turn in the back with the kids. I nibble on my handful of animal crackers.

9:30am "Look at the mountains!" Sam is startled awake thanks to the excitement of his siblings.

10:00am "Look at the cows!"

10:15am "Look at that train!" The train loops around a mountain side. Very cool.

11:00am The family stops for lunch at a rest area. The kids run like a herd of cattle across the grassy lawn. Sandwiches fill our stomachs and we're back in the van within an hour. We are also quite proud that we made it a full three and half hours between stops. No small feat with little, wiggly children.

12:00pm Jason's turn to drive. I take my place in the back, praying God gives me grace with my children.

12:30pm "Naptime! Everyone lean back and close your eyes."

12:40pm Samuel's out.

12:45pm "I don't want to go to bed" "I'm not tired" SH! Sam's sleeping! Go to sleep!"

1:00pm "I'm not tired!" Tears roll down their very "none-tired" faces. Samuel wiggles in his sleep and I feel myself loosing it as I struggle to keep one little eight month old asleep while disciplining the three and two year old.

1:30pm After an hour of frustration, there are FOUR sleeping children in the mini-van. Mom and Dad's eyes meet through the rear view mirror. We smile. I lean my head back to catch a few zzzz's while Jason plows ahead on the Interstate. Stopping is not an option with four sleeping kids.

2:00pm Samuel wakes up. I try to not be frustrated from my short nap. Sam and I play peek a boo.

2:30pm Everyone's awake. The kids don't sleep very well in the carseats. Short naps have become the norm on the road.

3:00pm Gas stop. Fill up for $2.59 per gallon. That's been our average. Everyone goes potty. This seems to take an absurd amount of time. Samuel gets a diaper change and I try to hold him the whole stop so he can soak up mommy time since he doesn't get much on the road.

3:45pm Finally, back on the road. I have a piping hot cup of coffee that will keep my eyes open for the last 2-3 hours of our drive for the day. Jason turns a movie on and passes out another round of snacks.

4:30pm The DVD Players have lost their magic for the day and everyone is ready to get out of the van. Including the adults. From the rear view mirror I see Jason lean his head back and close his eyes. Isaiah and Rose are fighting about crayons in the back-back; Samuel is screaming his protest of being strapped to his carseat for the entire day; and Lela Mae [strapped beside me in the front seat -air bag is turned off-] is applying chapstick over and over again to her adorable lips.

5:30pm Our stopping point is just a few miles ahead. We pull out all the stops to illicit peace in the chaotic van. Cheetos are passed out. Mommy sings her silly songs "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts... dee-da-la-dee-da-lee..."

5:45pm We stumble into the KOA kabin and stretch across our bare mattresses. The kids beg to go swimming. Jason and I look longingly at the bed as we dress everyone in their still damp suits before heading off to swim in the KOA pool.

So this is a simple outline of our day on the road. Most of our days end earlier, praise God. But, this is a long form of our travel days. We have intentionally tried to schedule the days to be short so the kids don't loose it in the back.

Well, now you know. Have a great day!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

stuffy heads and heavy hearts

I am tired today. I feel icky. My head is stuffy and my heart is heavy.

Heavy with good-byes and missing those who love me and those whom I love. Why does this world have to be so big? Heaven will be a wonderful place. I want a mansion on the same block as my mother. And my husband's mother. And our fathers. And my friends from college. And my children.

The girls' fever has progressed to sore throats. No more fever, though. Just the sore throats and cranky attitudes. I have both of those, too. Isaiah is coughing, but still very perky and happy.

We are praying for healing and grace. We are here until Tuesday morning when we start on our 15 hour drive to WY. Trusting God for His perfect will.

Friday, July 03, 2009

the fever and ants of Yucca, AZ

The roadtrip adventure continues today with life in the desert mountains of Arizona. Winged ants have invaded the house. They made a colony in the chimney and, possibly, inside the walls of this beautiful stucco home. As I type, Jason and his dad fight the ant battle. Jason is up on the roof, pouring water and dish soapy water on the ants. The in-laws live so far in the country that they have issues finding a exterminator to come out and take care of the ant problem "for good". After calling eight exterminators, Tami finally found ONE who would come out and take care of the dirty business. Huge sigh of relief from this country-ish, suburb-ish girl. Whew.

Also, I visited Yucca, Arizona today. Population 500 or so. We needed juice and the closest place was ten minutes down the road at a tiny gas station called P.J.'s. [Connected to Junior's Bar and Grill; we'll be eating dinner some time later this weekend.] I think I like Yucca [pronounced "yuck-uh"]. Very friendly people. People who look you in the eye and smile a loud "good morning". I like it.

The girls have been running low grade fevers yesterday and today. Please pray for them; complete healing, in the name of Jesus!! We're not sure what's wrong with the girlies. I think it might be either a fever virus or just weariness of the roadtrip. We've stocked their tiny bodies up with echinacea, child's ibuprofen, and child's multi-vitamin. And prayer. Lots of prayer.

Three and a half more days here in sunny Arizona before hitting the worn out road towards Wyoming. Despite the ants and the feverish girls, I am really enjoying our roadtrip. Praise God!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Roadtrip views and the darn heart

Day four of week four of our humongous roadtrip.

Today we wake up to the mountains of Arizona outside our windows. They jut up into the sky, their peeks rocky and sharp. The Arizona residents rebel against day-light savings time so we are now three hours behind our "normal" time zone on the east coast. Since we've spent the last three weeks in the central time zone, our bodies acclimated to central time. I think moving one hour earlier into mountain time would have been easier than this huge jump to two hours behind central! I am praying, asking God for mercy as we stumble around, trying to get our bearings with this "new" 5am. {Darling children and the sun. They just feed off each other!!}

Saying good-bye to Texas was hard. I know, I know, all you non-Texans just don't get it; but those Texans out there... YOU KNOW! Texas draws her natives. The wide sky stretches on and on and beckons us. Oh, the country roads. Miles and miles of fields. Huge bales of hay scattered across rolling plains and herds of cattle along the roadside. Sigh. I love it. My country man has turned my heart into that of a country woman. I, too, long for home.

But, where is home? My heart also longs for the life God has given us in VA. A beautiful home that more than meets our space-needs. A church that loves us and meets our friend-needs. A job that feeds and clothes us. But where is our family? Our family is scattered across the USA, thousands of miles from each other. Virginia is where God has put us right now. I want to embrace that life, not long for the Texas life I imagine in my mind.

Today is day one of five days with Jason's parents. We have asked God to slow time down to a crawl. That each day would run like cold molasses, barely moving by us. We ask God to help us treasure every moment together because we know... That only God knows when He will bring us together again.

Those of you praying for us; please keep it up. We feel the presence of God. He is so faithful!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

the first post on the humongo road trip

Today begins Week Three of our six week road trip. We have already traveled about 2500 miles. The kids have slept on the floor, an air mattress, bunk beds, hotel bed and now at grandma's house. {one of several grandma's houses they will be sleeping in on this adventure}

Jason joins in on the fun tomorrow. I have been "on my own" with the kids for the past two weeks. Although, I must confess I put my Supermom title at risk and hired a wonderful and amazing young lady to come be my "helper" to travel with me these past two weeks. {She returns home tomorrow. Sniff. I will miss her!! And her help!} Her and I have both decided that I most definitely could not have done this trip alone. Three days in the car as we cross half the the Continental US of A would not have gone so smoothly without my darling sitter in the back seat.

God has graciously been with us every step/mile of the way. We are safe and healthy and happy. The kiddos continually adjust to every new situation. They are loving each new playmate that comes along. Child or grown up.

The trip has been bittersweet, full of wondrous hellos and sad good byes. Every week brings tearful good byes to people I love and miss terribly. And I have yet to hug my parents; the ones I miss the most. Already, this trip has brought Heaven to my heart and the promise of "no more tears" and of "no more goodbyes". Heaven will be a wonderful place. No roadtrips necessary.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

eleven days and towing

Eleven days and counting.

I've got lists. A "To Buy Before Leaving" List. A "To Be Sure Not To Forget" List. "Medicine Bag" List. "To Do" List. "To Do The Week We Leave" List. "Travel Food" List.

Yes, I am that "ducks in a row" type. You bet. And, you know, that is a a gift!! Not something to apologize for. Yep.

So my list grows on a daily basis. Which, is scary since it should be shrinking [the "to-do" part anyway].

We are hoping, desperately, that God will work out a miracle and we'll be able to tow a little home-away-from-home behind us. Right now it looks like we got us a humble pop-up camper... The problem is now that the shiney new [ish... it's an '05] does not tow. Dumb mini-van. Wish we'd used our brains when we bought it and bought something with a tow package. Yeah, I've learned the lingo. Tow package. Bumper pull. Yadda yadda.

But, we proceed to prepare for both options. The option to sleep in over a dozen different beds over a period of six weeks; or the option to tow the same bed behind us for six weeks. Only God knows what we will look like when we drive out of here in eleven days.

Eleven days.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Motherhood Follies: The Extinction of Window Blinds

Window blinds are a dying breed in our house. The window in Rose's room lost its blinds a few weeks after we moved into the house. This past week, we said good-bye to two more blinds.

In the midst of mommy duties, I hurried up the stairs and into the hallway. I noticed Isaiah's room seemed particularly bright. The sunshine gave me a smile... that quickly vanished upon entering my oldest son's room.

"Isaiah!" I hollered. My voice echoed along the walls. "ISAIAH!"

I heard him running up the stairs. "Yes, Momma?"

I picked up the shades and waited for him. He barreled his energetic four-year-old body into the room, coming to an abrupt stop when he saw what I held in my hands. His eyes skirted around the room, darting anywhere but my face and the blinds.

"Isaiah... what's this?"

"My blinds..." he said nonchalantly.

"Why are they not on the window?" My voice had reached a slightly out of control pitch. I tried to bring it down and un-grit my teeth. "What happened?"

"Um, well, they broke," he said.

"Yes. How did they break?"

"Well, I was standing on my table over there," Isaiah pointed to the train table [something he was under direct orders not to stand on top]. "And I swung on the cord from the table to the floor."

I have a rather vivid imagination. And suddenly, it filled with a little boy's adventure of swinging like Tarzan across his room. My anger was gone. I sighed deeply and tried to hide the understanding smile. I may not be a boy with all the energy and excitement, but I get adventure.

"Don't do that again." I said. Then, as an "P.S." I added over my shoulder, "Don't ever touch the blinds again!"

The next day I found my bedroom's blinds, to my one and only window in my room, laying half-hazard on my bed. The room was empty; the culprit missing. But, I knew. I knew my Tarzan had struck again.

"I was just trying to get some light," Isaiah explained matter of fact after I hunted him down. Duh, Mom.

"But, the rule is you don't touch the blinds...." I rattled off. It didn't matter. The damage was done. Only two windows in my house still possess the near extinct window blinds. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

twenty four more days and attacking hostesses

Twenty-four more days and counting... Until me and the amazing kiddos head out into the great unknown. Head west. Bite the bullet. Go crazy. Hit the road.

Yikes. I am a frantic mixture of excitement and fear. While there is a tiny chance my sister, Rachel, will accompany me on my madness, I am setting up to embark on the first leg of the 6000 mile road troap all by my lonesome. [And, when I say, "by my lonesome" I mean by my lonesome plus four kids. So, not really by my lonesome.]

I have been on several road trips and have been blessed to stay with lots of different people. Most of my houseguest experiences have been positive. But... I have had some doozies.

Like once [dishing, here! I'm dishing!!] a hostess was incredibly put off [as in very disgusted] at the way my newly-turned-two-year-old ate spaghetti. Am I the only mother who lops a blob of the sauce drenched pasta in front of her kid and lets her go to town? Because, this hostess spoon fed her darlings and they walked away from the table with barely a speck of spaghetti sauce on the beautiful faces. Then there was my two year old covered in sauce when she wrapped up her meal. I didn't think anything of it; it's life at my house. But, my hostess did not like it.

Another time we stayed at a wonderful house and had lots of fun during the day. But, at night... The bed we slept on was like a boat. It rocked back and forth. And that was not because there was any hanky-panky going on. No. Rocking began if anyone twitched. Very exciting. Jason ended up on the floor at the end of that visit. Me and whatever baby I had at the time kicked him off the rocking bed.

You can see why I am a tad worried about being a houseguest. After all, I am bringing four kids with me. That alone is going to throw most of my hostesses off. For most families, we will triple their child population. For the most part, I think my friends and family are up for the challenge [right, Autumn?? MOM??] but I am still nervous about converging on homes other than mine.

Hoping to be as much a blessing as possible, I decided to do a little research on "being a good houseguest". Check this out. Yeah. I'm so going to do all that!! Really, I am. I can chase four kids and keep our area clean and wash dishes and leave the bathroom tidy when we whirlwind out of there. Whew. Just writing it all out gives me a little, bitty headache.

Monday, May 11, 2009

mother thoughts

It's been quiet on the blog front lately... but there's a storm brewing inside my mind and I have to get some things out of there.

I always thought mothering came naturally. That once that baby came out and screamed in your face... After all that work of growing the baby inside your womb... Looking upon the scrunched face of a brand new human being captures a woman's heart, does it?

Yet, I am learning not all mothers, well, mother. Not all feel that hook. My children have a very large hook inside my heart that could not ever be removed. It has wound itself into my deepest, most inmost parts and would tear my heart apart if someone removed the hook.

Don't get me wrong, I have contemplated walking away. On the very hardest of days, I have stood at the window, watching the sky and allowed my thoughts to wonder to a dark place filled with selfish desires and self-centered dreams. But the tiny arms wrapped around my leg and the sticky fingers planted against my calf are too good to be true. The clear blue eyes gazing back at my overwhelmed face have locked me in for life. I will never walk away.

So why do moms walk away? is there no attachment formed? No hook sunk into their heart? I just don't understand. How can motherhood be a choice? Doesn't the choice begin with sex? The act of creating a child. Once the seed is planted and life is growing, our choice in the matter is gone... right? Then why are there babies without mommies? Why are there mommies too into their own life to take care of their children?

I have learned... The choice is still there. Every day. Do we mother this life? Or do we wish it away? Do we put our dreams on the back burner so that we can nurture this new human with 100% of our heart? Or do we drag the child along as we run desperately, chasing a far away dream?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

oops, i did it again

Why do I ever try to do it on my own?

This has been a hard week. I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark.

I attended a ladies Bible Study this Saturday and was reminded that we can only make it so far "on our own". To really embrace life and live it to the fullest, I have to make God the center of my life. And, he has not been my center. Other things have taken center stage. Things like writing/reading blogs. Reading other magazines. Watching TV. Worrying. Anxiety. Eating. Whatever else jumped in front of me got my attention. I forgot to make God the center of my days.

I love Mondays. A fresh beginning of the week. I begin, once again, tomorrow. [Thank God for tomorrows!] I will begin my day tomorrow with a meeting between me and my Father in Heaven. I am humbled, humbled by the thought that He loves me. I am so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and yet, the God of the Universe loves me.

Thank you, God, for loving me. Thank you for softly calling to me even as I rush around ignoring your gentle persistence. I lay it down today. Please come be the center of my life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Air Show Pictures

Air Show time!! It was a busy place to be Sunday, but we had a blast anyways!!

Isaiah recognized this as "Sky Captain's plane".

Jason's favorite plane of the day. We crossed over a mile to get to this thing; thought I'd better take a picture to commemorate the adventure.

Everyone like a loopty-loop!

All smiles!!

Momma and three of her babies.

My Rose

My boys.
**Note the ear foamies: very, very important aspect of having a good time at the very loud air show.

Ms Lela Mae sporting her awesome ear foamies.

Samuel James, all tuckered out.

eight things

I've been tagged! Here's a little more about me you probably don't' care to know....

8 Things I Am Looking Forward To
1. having a clean house [sure it will require some effort, but it will feel good to have a clean house.
2. my humongo road trip
3. Jason coming home [I know, he just left for work.. but, I already miss him]
4. going to bed tonight
5. naptime
6. playing with my kids today
7. seeing my mother in July
8. the far off day when Jason and I can be just be "us"

8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. went to the Air Show!! Whew-hoo!
2. made the dumb mistake of not putting on sunscreen and, consequently...
3. got a bad sunburn
4. bought our 2008 photo album off Snapfish
5. wiped several little bottoms
6. carried a sleeping baby about a mile
7. thanked God for my baby that made my arms ache
8. watched my kids play in the water and realized how beautiful they are. realized again.

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
1. be a better mother
2. go on a week long honeymoon trip with my handsome husband
3. sleep through the night without the darling baby waking me up
4. make my sunburn go away... OUCH!
5. talk to my mother face to face; give her a hug
6. win the lottery
7. run a mile without feeling like I'm going to die. Heck, just be able to run a mile.
8. go to the bathroom alone. Without interruptions.

8 Shows I Watch
1. American Idol
3. Food Network
4. whatever else is on.... I don't have time for TV!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

are we gonna watch them fly high?

The Air Show is this weekend. This is our fourth year to have the opportunity to attend the Langley Air Show. We went the first two years, but didn't make it last year.

First year we had a six month old and a one year old. Easy; piece of cake. One double stroller and we were set.

Year two we had three babies. My newborn in a wrap and the two year old and one year old in the double stroller. That year was hard. I couldn't find a private place to nurse [back then I cared about that... ] so I ended up leaning against a concrete road blocker. Isaiah totally freaked out about the noise level of the jet engine's. They do this cool "fly by" thing that is very loud. I makes my heart race, and makes my kids upset. We ended that adventure with three crying babies.

Year three I was pregnant and felt pretty crappy. Plus, the memories of year two were pretty fresh. We skipped the air show.

Here we are, year four and Jason and I are trying to decide which direction to take. Isaiah loves airplanes and jets. But, he does cover his ears when the F-15s fly over the base on a daily bases. Rose loves the planes. She watches them, unafraid. Lela covers her ears. Then there's the new kid; usually my little babies don't really notice the loud noise. Plus, if momma's smiling, they figure all's well anyway.

I think we are going to dive in this year. The plan right now is to go right after the early church service tomorrow. That will put us there as the air show begins. There are also lots of planes on the ground for viewing; the kids have really enjoyed those in the past.

I want to have fun. I want it to BE fun. I want the kids to enjoy it and be blessed. I want to make some memories of our family time at the Air Show. Plus, I think the Air Show is cool and I want to go!

So... I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

the middle of the night

It is three o'clock in the morning, The early, early news is running its second round of the same set of stories.

Samuel has a cold. He can't breathe easily and wakes up in the darkness of the night, wheezing, gagging and coughing. I am praising God for the nebulizer He blessed us with when Isaiah was a baby. Samuel has had breathing treatments every 4-6 hours the past three days. It does seem to help.

I can tell he doesn't feel well and there is so little I can really do about his discomfort. And so, I hold him. I tell him I love him. We cuddle. I get up at 2:00am. I spoon child's Ibuprofen into his mouth. I nurse around the clock, even if it has only been an hour since the last feeding.

Because I am his mother and that is what mothers do. And I know, "this too shall pass". Sweet dreams everyone. I'm off to rock my darling.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

at least Jason is going

Jason has a one-way ticket to Texas. Sounds like my kind of country music song. La-la-la-la!! Di-dah!

At least one of us is 100% confirmed on our Texas part of the road trip. It makes things much more real to me. In a good way.

I am excited to see everyone. Overwhelmed at all the traveling. Praying for health for all the kids; no body's allowed to be sick!!

I am not a typically "take it easy" type person. Jason helps me in this area and I am trying to learn how to "go with the flow". I believe that approach will help us all tremendously on the road trip. Oh yeah, and the "this is supposed to be fun" mindset will go a long way for me, too.

I am already starting to collect little goodies that will make the long ride easier. On sale Easter eggs that have small toys in them will be just the thing after four hours in the car. Er, mini-van.

It's not even 9am and I have already worked out, cooked breakfast, fed the kids and posted a blog. Not too bad at all.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

the end of the RV and a little update on the family

OK. So, sleep brought a little peace. But, more peace came when Jason and I decided that the RV was just not what we need right now. Oh, well, we do need it; but, we don't need the gas money investment it will bring to our vacation budget. You see, this lovely RV gets 7 mpg. Seven. That means we would spend over $2000 in GAS MONEY ONLY for our 6000 mile road trip. YIKES.

Sadly, we kissed the RV dream good bye and settled on the all faithful mini-van. Which, really, brings me a deep sigh of relief. The RV would have been great, but it will be enough of a challenge to juggle life, kids, driving, etc with the mini-van.

And so we continue ironing out details for the trip. I am still leaving ahead of Jason. I'll be "on the road" for about two weeks before Jason flies to TX and meets up with us. I'll go to my dear friend, Autumn's house in Kansas and then to Texas to meet up with some of my family [not before stopping to see an old college friend in Arkansas] before heading to Fort Worth to meet up with Jason's family.

I am the most nervous about my three day drive to KS. At this point, I'll be alone with four kids. One will still be nursing. I will definitely have to stop every two hours to nurse. So, I'm guessing what would take a normal person eight hours to drive, it will take us at least ten!! Slow and steady is my motto.


Well, that's the update on the road trip. Here is some this 'n that on our family:

This picture was taken last Sunday before church. Thus the clean and freshly dressed children. We don't spend every day this good looking! Three out of four smiles is about the max for us in pictures. Not sure what was up with my beautiful Rose.
Five-month-old Samuel has sprouted his first tooth!! WOW! He's the first of my kids to do that so early. The other three started teething around eight months. Samuel's ahead of the game!!
He is also already sitting up! Another early bird for us. He has beat the other kids by a month on that milestone. What a guy! He is totally full of smiles and continues to be a joy on my lap at every feeding session. Oh, I love him so!!

My Lela Mae turned two last week. She talks like a big girl. It is hard to believe she is only two with the way she keeps up with her older siblings. People ask if her and Rose are twins! HA! Rose isn't very big for her age and Lela is big for a two year old. They both weigh about 30 pounds. Lela Mae likes to sing with us and I absolutely love to hear her sweet, precious voice. Makes this momma so happy!

My Rose Jubilee is very three years old. She is swiftly moving into that preschool mode. Her mind is opening up to learn and I find it very exciting! Rose mothers Lela Mae and Samuel. She is actually excellent with Samuel and truly helps me. He adores her; craning his neck to see his biggest sister. Rose is our early bird and likes to get up before the sun rises in the morning. But, she is almost always bright and cheerful; so it's not too bad.

Then there is my Isaiah Luke! Oh, what a big boy he's become. Sometimes when I look at him, it takes my breath away. He looks like a little boy; not at all like a baby. He is getting taller and slimmer; my baby is gone. [Which is OK; especially since baby brother, Samuel, looks exactly like Isaiah did when he was a baby!!] Isaiah designs and creates a train track with his small train track pieces every day at quiet time. That's "his thing" right now. They are always good and quite impressive. Bridges, intersections and the like are included in his every day building. What a smartie!!
So, that's us. Hope you enjoyed the update! [I know you did, MOM!]

Thursday, April 09, 2009

what was i thinking? and isn't she beautiful?

We drove one hour and thirty minutes to view this RV today.

We were far from disappointed. It is very clean. The current owner, a wonderful older gentlemen named Sonny, loves this RV. He has obviously cared for it meticulously. He took Jason on a thorough walk through of this thirty-four foot 1994 Gulfstream. This might be the one.

We have viewed a lot of RVs. This one is the nicest so far that is this old and is within our price range. It smells good. There is no dirt anywhere. There is a tub in the bathroom. Low mileage. SEVEN seat belts in the back. Fuel injected. Absolutely perfect.

And I am terrified. Full of anxiety. Sitting in this exactly-what-we-want-RV today brought the reality of it all home to me. Reality of the humongous road trip. Reality of learning to drive a full house across the USA. Reality of going alone for the first two weeks. R.E.A.L.I.T.Y.
The combination of anxiety and carsickness overcame me after our short ride around the block in the RV. [Yes, sweet Sonny started "her up" and took our whole family for a joy ride in the RV of our dreams. It was fun. And brought more of that reality thing I was talking about...]
What am I thinking? Taking this huge RV across the states? All by myself?? It is a three day drive to KS, our first stop. Alone. Parking and doing bedtime, alone. At a campsite. Alone. Driving alone. Towing a mini-van. ALONE!
I just don't know if I can do this. How am I going to do this? How will I maneuver a boat of a vehicle and manage four small children in the back?
Doubts assail me as I head to bed tonight. Oh, may sleep bring me blissful peace.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Eight minutes to blog and happy birthday to Lela Mae

I have been neglecting my blog. So many other pressing needs pull me away and writing sinks to the bottom of my priority list.

But, this morning I have approximately eight minutes before I must jump to the rest of my day. So here goes..........

My youngest daughter, Lela Mae Grace, officially turned two on Monday, April 6th, 2009. This darling of mine has been acting two for about nine months so it is good to see her age finally catching up with her development. Smile. I am so not a proud momma or anything of that nature.

In honor of Lela Mae's birthday, the few minutes I have to post will be taken up with Lela. [Who, by the way, is hollering from her crib to come get her up. But, I only have three more minutes left and, well, I'm gonna make her wait... shh.. don't tell anyone

When I was pregnant with Lela Mae, I felt God told me she would be "my grace". We gave her the middle name as a reminder of God's promise to me. And, Lela has been my grace. My labor and delivery with Lela was my easiest so far. I sewed on a project up until one hour before Lela was born. Only one hour was excruciating. Lela Mae was one of "those babies". You know, the kind you see everyone else has while yours is screaming? Yep, I got one of "those". Hee hee. She slept three hour chunks of time, from the beginning. She woke up to eat, coo, poop and then went back to sleep. As she got older, she was content to sit and watch the other kids play.

Continuing the grace theme, Lela Mae is also one of "those kids" who potty trained them self. I had heard rumors of "those kids" and simply didn't believe "those moms". Now, I brag about my [then] 20 month old toddler who threw her diaper in the trash and decided to wear big girl undies. I certainly had nothing to do with that!! It was God's grace on me by giving me a child who brings me, well, grace

And so, my sweet Lela Mae, I am blessed to call you "mine". You have been my grace and I am thankful, so very thankful, that you are my daughter. You bring me joy and peace. You make me smile. You make me proud. You are an amazing and precious addition to our family. I love the way you observe your surroundings. I love how God made YOU.

May God draw you ever nearer to His side. May He teach you His ways and His heart. May you always know Him and walk with Him all the days of your life.


Three minutes past end time and counting... off I go!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

praying for the babies

Prayers for Stellan

I am praying for baby Stellan. He looks so much like my Samuel. My heart is heavy as I consider the struggle he faces every moment. I pray desperately for God, my mighty and powerful God, to heal this tiny baby.

Stellan is suffering from SVT. Most of my followers are fellow bloggers from blogworld and are followers of MckMama's mycharmingkids. [If you have not already, I urge you to click over to MckMama's blog and read her story. And then to pray.] I know you are with me in this heaviness for a baby the majority of us have never met. Oh, how my heart aches. Every time I read MckMama's posts about her sick baby, all I want to do is go cuddle my own little 5 month old. I find myself loving on him with a fierce thankfulness for his health and wholeness. And while I love him, I pray for Stellan.

Much, much closer to home... well, my heart's home anyway... there is another baby that weighs heavily on my heart. A dear friend of mine [not mentioning names due to privacy issues] has decided she cannot manage mothering her young infant and has given him to her parents. Sigh. Oh that rocks my heart. I am in the deep and intense trenches of motherhood and I certainly know the passion and difficulties that rises and falls with day to day parenting. I know it's hard; I get it. And so, my prayers are intermingled with these babies. My own babies I lift before the Father. Prayers for Stellan's health. Prayers for the motherless baby.

Oh, God. Hear our prayers. Answer us from Heaven.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

not for the faint of heart....and tape yourself to your buddy

Isn't that beautiful? Yep, folks, that's my pinkie toe. I fell down the last two steps of our flight of stairs and badly bruised my poor, little toe. OUCH! It is swollen to twice the size of my opposite toe on the other foot and it so beautifully colored.
I was in quite a bit of pain on Thursday, the day I hurt it. But, yesterday is was getting better and today it is even better. Yea. I am buddy-taping it to its buddy. That's what friends are for, right?
So, the moral of my silly toe story is... when you are bruised and sore, tape yourself to your buddy. It'll get better. Hee-hee.
Have a great weekend, everybody!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

As Anyone Seen Our House?

I have a new passion. Actually, my whole family has a new passionate hobby. We are RV shopping! YEA!!

See, there's this humongo road trip coming up. Because our life is not adventurous enough [with four little children and all] we are embarking on what I am endearingly referring to as The Family Fun Humongo Road Trip. The FFHRT is a 6,000+ miles road trip me and the family will be experiencing this summer. Oh yes, you read that right: SIX THOUSAND MILES. Whew. Just typing it feels crazy... lalalalallaaaa.

Here's the deal. We have family all over the gorgeous US of A. So our stops on the FFHRT will include [but are not limited to] Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and Illinois. Those are our main stops. Most of these stops are about 16 hours from each other. Two full days of driving. With two freshly potty-trained girls and one still-having-the-occasional-accident-boy. Oh and one nursing infant. Yea... lalalalla

You can see the need for a motor home, yes? We could to. A very sane thought in the midst of craziness. God has blessed us and our budget and we believe we can carry a low monthly payment in exchange for sanity on our 6 week FFHRT. [A thousand miles a week; not a bad average really. Hee-hee.] Plus, we are convincing ourselves that we will use it more than once/year and go camping/traveling as a family "just because" and not just to see family who live 2 days or more away.

The past two weeks we have gone RV shopping at every opportunity. So much so, that Little Lela Mae [my almost two-year-old] now shouts "RV!" when we casually mention this or that RV. She is so into it!

The search continues for the perfect house on wheels. The perfect house on wheels in our budget, that is. I'd say our FFHRT is off to a great start!! Yipee!!!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

thes are the days of our lives

It's one of those days.... A day when I walk around and around the house and still feel like very little has been accomplished. I am continually behind "the schedule". Sigh.

Walk in living room... pick up trash and take dishes to sink... once in the kitchen, I realize the trash needs taking out... returning to the house, I pick up a stray dirty sock and take it to the laundry room.... oh yeah, time to rotate laundry..... and on and on it goes!


Things I've witnessed my kids saying/doing lately and things I thought I'd never have to say...

"Come wipe my stinky bottom!" I hear this one aaaaaaaaaallllllll day long.

"Isaiah, dirty diapers aren't bombs; I don't care that Daddy throws them!"

"Who got into my jewelry box??"

"You didn't know the milk was split, Mom? Oh. I thought you knew" and that's why the milk was still all over the table and floor.

"Can I wash the dishes, Mom?"

"Rose, don't sit on the baby!"

"What's in the baby's mouth?"

"I told you to stay out of the mud!"

Yadda, yadda. Ah, these are the days of our lives. Loving this wonderful season God has me in; seriously, I am.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And the winner is!!!!

Apparently, it pays to have done all the chances and have FIVE ENTRIES in the giveaway. Our winner is... -drum roll, please- KIM over at Journey of Healing. Congrats, Kim. E-mail me your address and I will get your prize in the mail to you ASAP.

Thank you to all of you who participated. This was fun. I hope you guys will get a chance to read this book because it really has blessed my life.

I am busy getting ready for MOMS CLUB today, so I don't really have time to post. But, I promised you a winner last night so I thought I ought to get it out there soon.

Please keep us in your prayers. I've got three recovering from colds and the baby is sick with a fever and cold. So, he's a tad fussy.

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SEX BOOK GIVEAWAY: HA! Gotcha! Seriously, I'm giving away a book about SEX


Hey guys, today is the drawing giveaway! You have until 8pm EST to get all your chances into the hat. After my kids in are bed, I will be drawing a name for the winner of the best sex book ever!! So, please double check that you have earned all of your entries. Don't forget to write your love story and then LINK IT BACK TO MR. LINKY for those extra two entries. [Thanks Amanda and Kim for going all the way. Love you girls!!] Good luck everyone!!


In celebration of my 200th post [this is 200 plus one], I am having a giveaway. Just for fun. I have wracked my brain for great giveaway ideas... And I think I have a GOOD one!! :) Next Tuesday, March 17th, I will be giving away:

When Two Become One: Enhancing Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

This is a book for married couples [or engaged couples]. It is my favorite book about God's gift to married couples; sex. Remember, God created sex. It is not dirty or wrong as long as it is kept within the God intended boundries.

I would love to give this book to all of my married follower/readers, but I just can't squeeze it into my budget. Instead, one blessed reader will WIN When Two Become One. Here's the lowdown:

To participate in the book giveaway, you must do atleast the first option. After that, the more you do, the more chances you will have to win. The drawing will be held Tuesday, March 17th.

Option #1) Leave me a comment telling me how long you have been married and your number one favorite thing about your husband. [You must leave me a comment to be entered into this drawing. Followers are not automatically entered this time. I want to hear from you, OK? Smile.]

Option #2) Create a post on your blog linking it back to me, telling your followers/readers about my romantic giveaway. [This will give you TWO more entries.]

Option #3) Create a post about how much you love your husband. I would love to read your love story. How you met, etc. It's time to share, ladies [and any gentlemen out there -Hi Dad!-]. After creating your Tell Me About It post, please link up with Mr. Linky so that we can jump around and read each other's stories. [This option gives you TWO more entries.]

You have a chance to earn a total of FIVE entries into the drawing. [FYI You can combine Option 2 and 3 into the same post, if you want to.] I am excited to read your comments and posts. Have fun!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Not Me!" Monday

It's that time again; Not Me Monday blog carnival. Craziness is about to ensue; are you ready?? Join the fun at MckMama's blog! Whew-hew!! Oh you guys, have I got some good ones!!

It is not me giving away a book about SEX! Everyone knows I am on the conservative side -giggle giggle- so I would never talk about or blog about sex. Never.

It was not me who dropped a beautiful lemon cake on the sidewalk on the way to tuck it safely into the van. I did not forget to check the latch of the cake display container before grabbing the handle and trotting out the door. I did not debate on whether to laugh or cry at the upside down cake laying on the rainy pavement. That was not me laughing hysterically as I stood outside, in the rain and stared at said cake.

Since I am the proud mother of four intense blessings, it was not me who told the YMCA receptionist that I have FIVE KIDS when she asked how many kids I have! What? How crazy am I? Five kids?? Where did that come from??

I did not have a little mental party when I realized that God had mercy and we made it through another cycle without creating a baby. It's not like I am Fertile Myrtle or anything so I would count it a sweet victory to have been though two cycles without getting pregnant. I certainly did not thank the Lord in all sincerity when I noticed my "friend" showing up for a visit, proving that at least thus far, God is hearing our prayers for a wondrous break of childbearing. [disclaimer-FYI Just so you all know, if I do miss my "friend" and discover a baby is on the way before our requested "break" comes to fruition, I will praise the Lord and look forward to the beautiful baby he created. Just FYI.]

And last, but not least, it is not me who has three kids with runny noses who are going through the box of tissues like it was candy. It is not me contemplating giving them all night time cold and cough medicine and declaring it a "sick day" officially with movie watching all day. Not me. My kids are never sick, of course.

My Love Story

I asked all of you to share YOUR love story, and then I realized I needed to share MINE!

Jason and I have known each other since he was eleven and I was fourteen. Our families were church friends for several years. His mother actually prayed for my future husband with me long before we knew that husband was her son!

His family moved away and then my family moved away. Ten years later, when Jason was turning 21 and I was 23 [there is two and half years between us] we re-met. I had heard rumors that "the Keys Boys" were all tall and handsome. So, when I took a road trip from Illinois to Texas, I had to see these Keys Boys for myself. Jason's brother, Joel, caught my eye first [he sang and played guitar-I liked that.] My mother and a dear friend listened to me go on about Joel and then sweetly said, "that's nice, Jess... But, what about Jason?" And I turned my eyes to the tall, quiet, shy Jason.

Jason was very quiet, but I liked how he listened to me. He was respectful and kind. I invited him to join me for the trip back to Illinois. He agreed to come. During the 24 hour, two day trip, I quizzed the tall man about everything. Asked if he believed in spanking children as discipline; asked if he would ever go into the mission field; asked if he wanted his wife to work or stay at home with the kids. Basically, I asked about everything. There were no rules in my interrogation process. And Jason thought about every question. I fell in love with his voice, listening to his thoughtful and thorough responses.

We left on our road trip, as friends, on February 24th 2003. Jason proposed March 10th. We married April 19, 2003. We knew we had found our soul mates. I remember holding his hand, my heart trembling. I could not understand how I did nto really know this man, but my spirit knew him. Song of Solomon says "I have found the one my soul loves." This verse expressed our love perfectly; it was on our wedding invitations.

So that's it. And they lived happily ever after. Plus four kids. More to come, I'm sure.

The End.... or not... wink-wink

Monday, March 09, 2009

"Not Me!" Monday

It's that time again. I missed it last week and have been very sad. So this week I'm jumping on board again. MckMama is hosting the craziness of Not Me Monday! Be sure to check it out at her blog. These are the things I did not do this week. Hee-hee-hee.

It was not me who fell apart last night when I found a puddle of pee in the bathroom floor just thirty minutes after cleaning up the first puddle of pee that night. I did not interrogate my three year old and almost-two-year-old about who the guilty pee-er might be. That was not me; I have an endless amount of pee-patience.

On that note, it was not me who thought nothing of a drop of pee landing on my big toe from dumping the little potty's pee chamber into the big potty. Since pee is certainly gross, I never would have shrugged my shoulders and gone on about my day without washing the drop of pee from my toe. Not me.

It was not me who tried to do all of the following at the same time: finish sewing project while baking a new recipe for a coffee cake while doing my hair and make-up while keeping a four month old happy while chasing a pee-covered toddler while feeding three kids their breakfast while wrapping a baby shower present while trying valiantly to keep my sanity. Not me. I know my limits.

Oh yeah, this is so not my TWO HUNDREDTH POST!! Oooh... Maybe I'll do another giveaway.. hummm... interesting. Better check back and see where this little party goes.

Ahh.... Why is this so much fun?? [I've been thinking about that drop of pee all week; knew you guys would like that one!!] Love you all! Now go have a great day!

Friday, March 06, 2009

rise and ..... yawn.....

Why do they get up at 5:30 in the morning?? What is up with that??? How early does a mom have to get up to have the non-existent-but-ever-searching-for-quiet-time??

We made them get back in bed this morning.

"No, Rose. It's not time to get up; go back to bed until the sun comes up," Jason told her.

Ten minutes later, Isaiah sleepily comes down stairs ready for breakfast. Breakfast before six am. Sigh. I was not ready for kids to join the quietness of the early morning. I covet this short "alone time" with my hubby. When the kids get up early... it is hard to smile them a "good morning".

All four were up by 7am. And so the day begins. Bright and early.

Research begins today on how many hours a kid needs to sleep in a 24 hour period. We are considering moving bedtime up an hour in hopes of encouraging the darlings to sleep in a tad bit. I'll keep you posted. Of course.

revolutionary love

I have experienced revolutionary love. Love with no strings attached. Jesus Christ loves me and made a way for me to have a relationship with the One True God. God desires a relationship with you, too. If you have yet to experience this revolutionary love, please email me at so I can share this amazing experience with you. Blessings, -Jess