...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Eaglet's Plans are Music to My Ears

Eaglet wakes up early before everyone else on most mornings. He loves the quiet house (who doesn't?) He usually reads and then draws what he has read in the peaceful stillness of the early morning. This morning, however, he spent some time dreaming. When I got up to feed Baby, he excitedly ran to me with his sketchbook in hand, to show me his plans for his future house:

Above, you see the plan for the main part of the home. (Perhaps you'll need to click on the photo to enlarge for detail.) My favorite part is how he created a baby nursery across from the master bedroom. He even has the crib and changing table labeled.

This (above) was of interest to me as well. Notice the large bedroom with double bunk-beds. Then see the room adjoining with all the balls. Apparently, he is planning for a padded wrestling/play room for the kids. I asked Eaglet how many children he was hoping for, and here's the part that was music to my ears: "EIGHT...at least that's what I'm hoping for," was his reply.

I love this.

Eaglet talks often of large families and how he dreams to have one of his own. I know he's only 9, and plans may change, but I love that he loves children...that he loves and esteems LIFE.

And now that I'm through swooning, I will exhibit the last part of Eaglet's plan that I really got a kick out of. Apparently the future father of eight plans to have quite a "man cave":

Check out all the goodies he plans to have in his garage! I am also impressed that he's wisely planning for transportation needs with a 15-passenger van.

I surely love my Eaglet, and I hope he really does have eight children...at least. I'm still bringing home babies myself, but I tell you what--I cannot WAIT for grandbabies. I'm totally looking forward to the granny thing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving....Coming to a Home Near You

The cooking and baking skills of this mama have needed to be stretched and honed, big-time. I am so thankful for where God has taken me in this arena through the last few years.

I remember, very clearly, praying in January 2002 that God would give me wisdom in nutrition and preparation of foods. With my first two pregnancies, I was learning a lot about these things, was trying to make positive changes, but was also painfully aware of how much I needed to learn! I prayed that He would teach me how to best care for my body and to serve my family in this area as well. He answered YES in the fall of that same year, when our sweet Eaglet was born. It took us awhile to figure out, but our then-newest little guy had severe food allergies. That year was hard, hard, hard...in so many ways. Baby Eaglet struggled with intestinal upset, poor sleeping, severe eczema, infections, anaphylaxis, and many general discomforts. His mama and papa struggled with watching him hurt....and with the stress of carrying around an Epipen for possible anaphylaxis. We struggled with mean, judgmental comments from strangers. We struggled with feelings of inadequacy; it seemed that no matter what we did, it was not enough. Eaglet's problems were still apparent no matter how many appointments, how many treatments, how many prayers. I personally also struggled greatly with the food issue. Upon Eaglet's allergy testing, I was told I needed to give up all dairy, egg, soy, and wheat, along with all their derivatives. It was pretty sobering to realize that nearly everything we were eating at that point fit in one of those categories. Exhausted, clueless, and constantly feeling that deep, aching, nursing-mother hunger, I struggled to try and find foods we could have. I struggled with how to prepare those foods. Up until that point, you see, I had depended so much on prepared, boxed, or canned foods. My "cooking" was not really cooking. "LORD help me!!" was my cry.

Even just those few years ago, non-allergenic and "natural" foods were not very readily available. I'm amazed these days as I stroll down the Natural Foods section at Fred Meyers, how much more there is available. But, I have to add, that wholesome, good, natural food has always been available--in the form of WHOLE FOODS that God created for our health. I had never learned to cook.

With Eaglet's diagnosis, and my determination to continue nursing him, I HAD to learn. I HAD to make changes. It was hard, but little by little, I learned. I learned to cook from scratch. I learned to bake our bread. I also learned that I love to do these things! It's so satisfying to see your family enjoy good, wholesome, life-giving, energy-giving foods. I finally understood why both of my grandmothers "loved with food" as I was growing up. "Eat! Eat! EAT!!" they would say!

I've continued to learn much in the last few years, and I'm so, so thankful to say, that our God saw fit to heal our Eaglet completely. We no longer keep an Epipen, and indeed have not had one for years. He is a happy, thriving boy who even enjoys many of the foods he was so allergic to as a baby. God answered my original prayer for wisdom regarding food, big-time. He did not answer it in the way I would have chosen, but it was the way that I needed it answered.

So having gone through all this, WHY was it such an issue when we found last spring that we needed to give up gluten for Spunky Cub, who is struggling with seizures?

because I thought we were done with food allergies

because I LOVE wheat, LOVE baking whole-wheat bread from the berry every week

because I'm a busy mommy of 5 and where is the time to figure this out?

because meal planning, preparation, and clean-up takes up a very large portion of every day for me.

Do you notice what I notice? "I, I, I, I'm, me." What ugly selfishness.

So we've been wrestling through this. We've done some gluten-free trials, starting in April of this year. I took advantage of many of the prepared gluten-free products during the first two trials. Truth be told, I didn't want to go through the whole process of figuring out how to cook by scratch gluten-free., I figured we'd do the trials, check gluten off the list of possible causes of seizures, and move on.

The first trial was two weeks, and we noticed no positive changes for Spunky. Another month-long trial, and we still noticed nothing. However, his blood test came back in the meantime, with a big ol' *** positive for wheat and for gluten allergy. At this point, we're committed to a 4-month minimum (but most likely we'll do 6 months) gluten-free trial.

After the blood test came back positive, I rolled up my sleeves and determined to learn how to do this thing right. I am very thankful there is so much on the market "gluten-free" these days; however, a good portion of these things are devoid of good nutrition, not to mention horribly expensive. I searched on-line...read gluten-free blogs...called friends. It was pretty overwhelming for me at first, until I realized that I needed to take some time off from homeschooling in order to tackle the meal thing full-on. I am so thankful for an amazing, supportive husband and also wonderful family, and good friends who encouraged me to do this. "One week of planning for 51 weeks of peace" is the way one friend put it. Well-said, Friend, well-said.

I feel like things are under control. This has been a big challenge, but it has been good. We've been at it for over 6 weeks now, and actually Cub has been off gluten for over 10 weeks now, with the exception of one week between the 4-week trial and beginning this new commitment. We are actually seeing less seizures per day for him lately, but as to the cause of that, I do not know. I am also happy to say that I actually had to look at the calendar to see how long we've been at it. At first, it was a day-by-day thing, and I could tell you EXACTLY how many days we'd been at it, as well as how many we had left! :)

This brings me to the original subject at hand--"Gluten-Free Thanksgiving"! I've been cookin' up a storm today, and I am SO excited at the things I've learned and by God's grace can do:

Mixed Berry pie with gluten-free crust, using white rice flour and potato starch

Our new basic bread (from brown rice, sorghum, quinoa, and tapioca flours,) cut up and drying out to be made into wild rice stuffing (!)

Cut-out sugar cookies, made from brown and white rice, potato, and tapioca flours, and waiting for icing and sprinkles

Our basic, YUMMY muffins, made with quinoa, sorghum, and tapioca flours + grated carrots

I love that so many new and healthful grains have been added into our diet. Instead of wheat, kamut, and spelt, we are enjoying quinoa, sorghum, teff, tapioca, millet, and others. Do I miss wheat?


Do I hope our family can go back to eating wheat in the future?


Do I sometimes wish desperately after a long day that we could just pick up a Papa Murphy's pizza and relax while it's baking?


But for now, this is what we need to do for our son's health. It's a small trade if it helps him, and, I think we're all the better for it.

If any of you are interested in these recipes, I'm happy to post them. But for now, peace out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Household Tip--Life with Cats

To clean out the undersides of your washing machine, dryer, stove, or refrigerator, simply sprinkle a few kibbles of cat food under said appliances. Little paws clean out ALL sorts of things; some of them are scary-looking little things (I'll spare you a photo.) We found this out today on *ahem* accident. This beats our last epiphany regarding cat ownership, which if you read my facebook post a few months ago, will be familiar to you: Cats tongues are great for curing your baby's cradle cap. Yep. Beats any narrow-toothed comb with olive oil, hands down. So, now you know.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Beautiful Little Things...

I took Baby out for the day for some massive shopping--groceries, Christmas, etc. Despite the busy agenda and the over-the-top busyness of town today, several times I was taken into the moment and overcome with thankfulness by "little beautiful things". Just a few:

Zachy's soft, chubby cheeks all bunched up on his chest as he slept soundly in his car seat

tall, ice-covered grasses waving in the breeze as the sun shone on them

a father holding his young daughter's hand, and then being the gentleman to open the door for his little lady

an elderly man stopping to talk baby talk to my little son

the beautiful, mature couple from our church who "happened" to be behind me in line with my ginormous load at check out...and how they showed God's love to me with hugs, smiles, encouraging words, and helping hands

There is beauty all around us....ours to take in...if we just look for it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Thing

Every year I think on this, and I'm always curious to hear others' thoughts on "the Halloween thing." I hope you all will share a little with me in the form of a comment, about how you see this holiday.

So here's my Halloween history: Growing up, I loved Halloween. I plastered our house windows and doors with cardboard cut-outs of pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, and the like. I'm amazed my dear parents put up with it; it was seriously tacky around there from October 1 to November 1. One year I even fashioned a ghost out of a sheet and hung it in a Pine tree. I loved the spooky music sung in music class, and the homemade haunted houses put up in the local communities. I loved perusing the Halloween aisle at the local dime store (that's what we called it--the "dime store"--ha!)

I loved dressing up and trick-or-treating. We lived outside of town, and so when I was little, Mom would drive my brother and I around the countryside to friends' and relatives' homes to trick-or-treat. We would stay and visit a few minutes with each (or sometimes much longer than a few minutes...or so it felt to an anxious little trick-or-treater!) Every year, I looked forward to our friend Charlotte's homemade popcorn balls, and my Aunt Verlie's big bag of candy (which out of many, many bags of candy, was labeled with my own name.)

When I got a little older, I would stay overnight at a friend's house in town. We could do the traditional, walk-down-the-sidewalk-and-go-door-to-door trick-or-treating....and so the progression of this holiday began... As my classmates and I got older, Halloween evolved into overnights with a gory movie. I positively shudder to think of the things I put into my mind. I certainly would not view these types of movies now, and CERTAINLY would not allow my kids to watch them. During these high school years, other classmates preferred it to be a mischief-making event...and later into an excuse to party (not in a good way.) Kudos to my mom and dad...they kept a pretty good eye on me and I really didn't participate in the Halloween mischief. I would have if I'd had the chance, though, and I remember many who did. They got into all sorts of trouble (if they were the lucky ones who got caught...aka the ones who had people who cared enough about them to catch them.)

During college, for students on-campus, Halloween was all about the dressing up and drinking...house parties and bars. Unhealthy. Scuzzy. Skanky. Not a good thing to be a part of...and as I grew in maturity and became a Christian and grew in my Christian walk, I realized that.

As a young-married, I loved decorating at Halloween time, but stuck to the cute pumpkins and little black kitties. We moved to Alaska, and the decorating charm wore off as my cute little trinkets froze in the ground or whatever. Let's face it--pumpkins and snow just don't really go all that well together.

We had our first baby...and to have my own little dolly to dress up however I wanted was SUCH fun. At 3 months old, Little Wise Bobcat was my own little red chili pepper and he was ADORABLE. We drove him up to visit the grandparents at their cabin. (The year before he was born, I dressed up our dog--yes, our DOG, as a princess and we drove up to their cabin to "trick-or-treat"!) We visited and ate candy. What's not to like about that?!

Baby #2 came along and of course I had to dress up my newest dolly. He was an adorable baby lion and the big bro was a fireman. Adorable. We were invited to a harvest festival at a local church, which had a little hot dog supper and games/prizes for small children. Lots of fun and we did that for the next few years. The only exception was the year we tried a larger festival at the fairgrounds. YUCK. We spent 1/2 the night in notoriously long lines, about 1/4 the night trying to distract our babies from seeing some horrendously gory costumes, and the other 1/4 the night playing games. I was becoming very disenchanted, as I thought about the years to come. Is this something we really wanted to put time and energy into?

Through these years, I have noticed something else. An upping of the ante, you might say. Gone, for the most part, are the "cute" Halloween decorations I used to see around and about. Marketed and displayed in their place, is a whole host of really, really disgusting decor. You know what I'm talking about. Things designed to strike shock and fear in a person. It used to be fun to check out the seasonal aisle. Now I find myself avoiding that area of stores entirely, particularly if I have the children with me, even needing to avoid certain stores for the entire month of October, in some cases.

Jessica, you're going a little overboard here!!!! Maybe I am. But...am I? It is my job to instill and encourage goodness in my children. Do these other things really have any place here if that is my goal? As children of The King, we ought to be encouraging faith in our children--not fear. The roots of Halloween are pagan...and dark. Honestly, and unfortunately, those things were a draw to me as a kid; it was harmless fun, right? I was fascinated by the spooky music, the witches and ghosts, and scary stuff. I know we could ignore those aspects (and we do) and make a big deal out of the dressing up in a good way and the candy and things. However, then we'd be setting the stage for the kids to always expect something to go on during Halloween. We'd be ever-so-subtly instilling in them that celebrating darkness is cute. There's a progression to it all. Feel good/eat candy/dress up now....but one day they'll be with their fellow teenage friends and having to make a decision on a movie...or they'll be on a college campus and deciding what to do. In other words, Mommy won't be there to watch their every move. If Halloween was always a big deal, will they still be expecting it to deliver a thrill? I'm picturing the partying and carousing and wearing of skanky outfits that goes on, all in the name of "good fun." Yuck. We need to do all that we can now...to help and equip our guys to choose goodness in the future.

I know that despite Halloween's history, many families do try and participate in the innocent aspects of it--like the dressing up/pretending/eating candy aspects. I'm not diggin' at ya if you do. :) We tried for a few years to wade through it and take the good out of it, leaving the bad. We just found that it took too darn much energy--energy that is precious and in short supply during this season of life. At some point it became apparent that we'd rather put that energy toward other means. There are so many GOOD things to encourage our boys to do!

We've spent a few years trying to think of the perfect solution. I admit that some years I sort of lament of how fun it would be to dress my little cuties up and take them trick-or-treating. But, here's the reality: Put energy into costumes...probably money too, but definitely energy. Cover up the costumes with a huge winter coat. Brave the wind and cold and yet more WIND to go--somewhere--where we may or may not see things we'd rather not. Definitely we'd be instilling in them that it's all cute fun. Hmmm...no thanks.

We ditched the festivals several years ago. One year we went swimming. That was a fun alternative. We have some fun neighbors who have a hayride every year...and we look forward to that as our big harvest event in lieu of Halloween. Still there's a bit of "what should we do" as we reach the end of the month and the hoopla rises. There are good things to take part in. Do we want to? The answer, for us, has been "no".

So, for the last couple years, this is what October 31 looked like for us. A bowl of candy sat in the kitchen. We never have trick-or-treaters...but you never know...and besides, we like to eat all the left-overs (which usually consist of the entire bowl.) We got all sticky and gooey carving a big pumpkin, roasted and ate yummy pumpkin seeds, and set the pumpkin out on the front porch. We watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown over a bowl of popcorn. Before bed, we ran outside in the dark and cold in our jammies to see how pretty our pumpkin looked from the road. How boring! Except it really wasn't. It was a warm, fun evening in together...and we enjoyed it very much!

I wrote the majority of this post LAST YEAR! Here I am on October 31 once again, and here is what our night looked like. We cozily ate our family supper of homemade baked beans and potato soup. Boys cleaned up their toys and put on their jams, and returned to the kitchen table for root beer and the caramel corn and pumpkin bars we made earlier in the day. Our happy pumpkin, which we carved a couple nights ago, glowed warmly. The front porch light was on, just in case, as we laughed through the classic Great Pumpkin. A pleasant family evening, which they will hopefully remember, but without all the pomp and spook-umstance.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

MMM Good

I gotta grab a bag of these jobbies every October; they're just so festive and nostalgic--one of the little things that speak "fall". Tonight I discovered something better than candy corn, and that is candy corn with cashews.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Random Monday

It's been an absolutely gorgeous, sunny, crisp day today! As much of a summer-and-sunshine girl that I am, I still really enjoy fall. Probably, September is my favorite month, which is why Tony and I married in September. We recently celebrated 17 years, which quite frankly, blows my mind. Time is flying....

Life is beautiful....

and I scarcely feel there's time to catch a breath.

This is something that's been on my mind--a lot--especially since Zachy was born. I keep thinking about the passage of time...different times and seasons...including the times and seasons of a human life. We hang onto this life...cling to it with all we've got. Yet, this is just a blink of an eye compared to what lies ahead. Most of the time, things like new wrinkles and gray hair don't bother me. I must admit, however, that I've caught a glimpse of myself occasionally (like in the mirror in the stairwell) and actually caught myself thinking, "WHO is THAT?!" I felt a tinge of glum, and then remembered with a smile that the wrinkles and gray hair are TEMPORARY!! My body is going to continue to show signs of age, faster and faster all the time. I will develop more aches and pains. This too is all temporary, for there is a place being made for me by my Savior who knows me and loves me so well.

Do you, my dear reader, know this Savior? Do you know this One who ensures our futures if we just ask him to? Do you know the One who ensures that our gray hairs, wrinkles, and ailments are temporary? He is the One who knew you before He created the Earth...who made plans--good plans for your life, to prosper you and not to harm you? If you don't yet know this Jesus, I pray you will come to know Him soon; He's been waiting for a relationship with you!

Furthermore, not only does He ensure the prosperity of our futures when we choose to follow and serve Him, but He also sees every secret sacrifice we make. He sees all those little and not-so-little things you do that make you wonder, "Does it even really matter at all?" All those things DO matter if we are doing them to His glory.

The boys and I were talking about this recently. I asked them, "How do we praise God?" They had several wonderful answers, such as, "singing His praise", "reading our Bibles", "memorizing scripture", "helping Mommy and Daddy", and "being kind to others". They were surprised when I also added to their list, "running fast", "riding your bikes", "playing Playmobil together", and "working in your gardens". Whatever we do, if we do it with thanksgiving to the One who works in and through us, we praise God in so doing! He is the one who gave us the blessings we enjoy in nature, our physical bodies, and relationships. He is the one who made us to be able to run, to taste good food, appreciate an amazing sunset, and experience the invigorating fall breezes. Everything good is from Him. It all is to His glory.

"Random Monday" is the title to this post, and wow is it random! Seeing as I began writing this with the main intent of encouraging you all to teach your children how to do household chores, I see it REALLY IS aptly named.

SO...moving right along... Today I experienced a real blessing, a reward, a fruit of labor if you will. So much mothering advice I've received has been about letting your children help you, even when it would be easier to do a task yourself. I've taken this to heart. When little ones clumsily scoot the chair over to the already-crowded kitchen counter while screeching, "Can I be your kitchen helper??!!" I find something for them to do to help, or should I say, to "help". You moms all know why I put quotations around that word! When a little one excitedly asks to scrub the toilet, and I'm thinking, "GROSS! This is going to be a MESS!" I do my best to smile, hand them the brush, and say, "Sure Honey, let me give you a few pointers." (Incidentally, I stand very near the scene to be sure they wash their little paws thoroughly afterward!)

Well, this past year, I've stepped it up in chore training. We've taken time to work with boys step-by-step to accomplish different household tasks the correct way. This fall, we implemented an official "chore time", right after breakfast. This is in addition to their expected tasks like making their beds, etc. I'm talking real housework--the stuff that in the past, Tony or I do or it doesn't get done-stuff. The boys LOVE this time and race to the chore chart to see what they get to do that particular day.

My heart swelled with gratitude last Friday night, when 6-year-old Spunky Cub exclaimed with exceeding joy, "Monday is MY day to clean the upstairs bathroom...and that means I get to use the new bottle of toilet cleaner!!!!!" Tony glanced my way and said, "It really is the little things, isn't it?!" The little boy is looking 3 days in advance to his chance to use the newest bottle of toilet cleaner. Wow.

This morning during daily chore time, I was working in the laundry room (my big focus chore for Mondays.) I went to use the bathroom afterward, and it was sparkling clean (and I didn't clean it!) It's an amazing joy to use a sparkling bathroom that I didn't sparkle! I then walked up the stairs, noticing that they were fluffy and dirt-free (and I didn't vacuum!) I then went into the kitchen, and the floor was swept, the table was scrubbed, the counters were clear and clean, and the dishes were washing (and I did none of the above.)

I feel as though I've arrived, Ladies and Gentlemen!

So, Mamas...get busy! Teach those chillins to pitch in, and in a big way. They will love contributing to the family in this way, you will love how helpful they are, and their future spouses will thank you. It takes work and patience to train those kiddos well, but it is well-worth the effort to help them find enjoyment and fulfillment in the household tasks they'll be doing their whole lives. In my book, it's as important (actually probably more important) than teaching them math, spelling, science, or a multitude of other skills and subjects. Really, only learning to read and study Scripture trumps the chore training.

Let's see...what other randomness do I have going on today? Well we've had the garden harvested for awhile now, except for the carrots. We pulled up about 1/2 of what was left of them today. When we have those eaten, we'll get the rest. I've been learning so much about gardening. The most important of which, is one must have healthy soil. Most of you are shaking your heads and saying, "Well of course...". It's taken me awhile to learn this, however. We'll be doing a big amending this fall, in hopes of a greater harvest next year. We still did ok this year, poor soil and all, but I'm excited of the prospect of rich, fertile soil for next summer.

This year yielded lots of carrots, quite a few (small) potatoes, TOMATOES (thanks to my Aunt Debbie who mailed us some water walls from Kentucky,) lots of Romaine, sugar snap peas, radishes, green onions, yellow zuchinis, and a wee, pathetic, li'l pumpkin. Eaglet and I try every year to grow a nice pumpkin. Every year is pretty much a flop, BUT, we have big plans to try again next spring!

Other randomness for this crazy-long post: We've been having a fun time learning lately. Just studied the Great Fire of London. The boys created the city of London:

And then to really re-enforce learning:

..they set the thing on fire. I LOVE homeschooling!

We've spent a fair amount of time around the fire pit lately:

We had a great little bonfire supper last Friday night, which included dessert:

No shame. They're licking the left-over caramel from the caramel apples, in case you're wondering.

...and to conclude this very looooong, rambling, stream of consciousness post:

Here's a couple cute baby photos as a reward for sticking with me! Check this one out--he's been falling asleep sucking two fingers lately:

Time a-flying or not, life is pretty sweet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It Only Freaked Me Out a Teensy Bit....

...to send them off to the tundra for a week with firearms.

This year marked the first extended hunting trip for our two biggest boys. There was some serious male-bonding going on up Denali Highway for caribou hunting this year.

For their ages, they've spent a considerable amount of time target-shooting. Normal, for born-and-raised Alaskan boys, I guess. The plan was for Wise Bobcat to take the shot at the caribou.

Turned out, it was an approximately 200-yard-shot, downhill. He scoped it out and then decided he was not comfortable with the shot. I'm so glad he has the confidence and honesty to make such a judgment-call. That beautiful and tasty critter still made it to our freezer though! (WARNING: dead animal photo)

Eaglet packed a .410 shotgun, looking for small-game. He finally came across a Spruce Hen, and discovered the difference between target-shooting, and hunting. It's with a HUGE grin that he re-tells the story: "It's SO different shooting at a real animal. I was just SO EXCITED it was hard to aim!" Here he is, whittling on a break:

These guys are really growing up. I love watching them try out their fledgling wings with new experiences...but of course, this requires me to exercise my own fledgling wings...with letting go. I'm so thankful they're in such good Hands. He will watch over their lives--over their coming and their going--forevermore.

This mama is so thankful for that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Love With Infant Gowns

These little garments deserve their own post tribute! I've been in love with cotton infant gowns ever since bringing home our first baby eleven years ago. Even saying "infant gown" evokes the tenderest of emotions for me--it's such a beautiful, precious, fleeting stage when a child can wear these.

Infant. Infant. Infant.
How sweet!

Our little man fills his out pretty well these days, and it won't be long 'til they'll be packed up into the "newborn clothing just in case" box, or given away. Meanwhile, I stuff his little body into one every chance I get, and cuddle away!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Summer's Swan Song

It's been raining for 9 days straight, temps are dipping into the 40's, our heat has kicked in several times, and yellow hues are just beginning to show through. Summer is quickly coming to a close. It's been a good one for us--the highlight, of course, being that I went from this:

to this:

...the most obvious difference being that the baby is now on the outside! Zachary's birth and the welcoming of him into our family has been our most beautiful summer highlight. Our little Chunky Monkey is 8 weeks old today.

As the nickname suggests, he's been putting on plenty of rolls, which means, that my rolls are decreasing. It's a good arrangement! So the summer has been filled with LOTS of newborn-cuddling time...

One of the cuddlers was my Grandma Dorothy! She came to visit for 3 weeks, and we had some really sweet "Grandma time".

We appreciate her countenance and life experience so much. Love hearing stories about the extended family we've never known and accounts from the Great Depression. One of my favorite stories from this visit was about how she used to love to dance. This story was prompted by the classical music playing from Zachy's baby swing. She grabbed hold of Keiki's hands and tried to dance with him. Toddler-style, he just giggled and fell down onto the floor! Grandma then told of how one of her brothers and his friends would have barn dances...and she would waltz and waltz and have such fun. Her eyes sort of drifted off as she smiled...and then she said to nobody in particular, "I've had a good life."

True to Dassow style, we've kept things pretty low-key and free... We made sure to get in plenty of walks and bike rides

and we've spent a lot of time working and playing in the garden.

A simple but cool thing we added to the garden area this year is a little "knee-high garden for the tot! He is SO proud of his own little garden, which he can rake, sow, plant, water, and pick to his heart's content! LOVE this idea which I got from a Sharon Lovejoy book (more on those in another post!) Having their very own garden cultivates (pardon the pun) a love a gardening in a child's heart. It's so refreshing for little ones to have total control over their own little garden space.

Just look how proud he was of his first produce! He did this totally by himself. We're still amazed that anything grew in his little box, with all the prodding, plucking, and WATERING that went on!

We've also gotten in a little "tree fort" building...

...prompting this middle child to look for bargains on nails and screws at weekend garage sales!

We had a couple special events, including Little Brother's Infant Prayer Service at our church.

It was so special to us to have one of our elders and his wife, with our entire congregation, stop and take time to pray for us and our baby son.

We also celebrated Wise Bobcat's 11th birthday recently.

We're now proud parents of a middle-schooler.


Time just moves so fast. I'm enjoying all the sweet, fleeting moments...including this summer's swan song.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zachary's Story

We're a blessed family of 7, basking in the "babymoon". Here' s our littlest son's amazing birthday story... Our God is mighty in His power and perfection!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Big 3-6, NOT 6-3!

Working on a little blog catch-up this week, since a friend not-so-subtly reminded me I hadn't posted in *ahem* awhile! (Yes, YOU know who you are!!)

The boys very sweetly decided to decorate for my birthday in March. I love how they chose the theme of the tropics. They know their Mommy! We weren't getting a whole lot of the sparkly warm stuff at that time, so they made me my own little sun:

The rest of the kitchen fairly looked like a crepe paper spider web, interspersed with tropical coloring pages:

However, the funniest part of it all was the conversation I overheard while I was "staying out of the kitchen and keeping my eyes shut" (as they had requested.) It went something like this:

"...monkey business--ooo--ooo!" and "That looks more like a spider web...think when someone tries to sit in that chair. That just WON'T work." and "I STILL need MORE TAPE!" and "We are a GOOD construction team!"
As time went on, I overheard something a little more disturbing: "Is Mommy turning 63?" NOOOOOO!

It was a great day, filled with my favorite things--all my guys, a little touch of the tropics, Happy Family sweet & sour chicken, and fresh pineapple, strawberries, and melon with whipped cream.