Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Kiddos

Have fun watching the videos below...
each one is different, by the way, even though the still shots look the same.

Comment to this post and tell us which one is your favorite! :)

UPDATE: Sorry. The videos have all expired. :( But we did purchase a download of one, so if you happen to know us well, the video will live on here at home and be watched plenty, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snips, Snails & Pretty Pigtails

Noah has been busy photographing the world. He's very critical of his work, too, and even uploads the pictures himself, weeds through and discards the blurry shots, and is learning from his mistakes. You should see him placing us (his subjects) in better light!

Saylor slept in underwear (no pull-up) all night last night a
nd woke up dry. We always thought she could do it, but we were too chicken to risk the wet bed.

Two "snips" for Gabriel:

1 - He found a piece of food on the floor this morning (I know you're all shocked!) and took it straight to the trash can himself--without being told.
2 - On a whim I decided to put him in his "big boy" (toddler) bed last night. He slept there all night and didn't get out once! We're growing up, guys!

Atticus turned over AT the doctor's office on Tuesday. T
he nurse practitioner was amazed to hear how early he started that! Oh, and he's growing like a weed--90th percentile in height, 67th percentile in weight. Healthy and happy...


Sleeping soundly

Good morning, Big Boy!


Friday, December 5, 2008

Lori's Lists

I used to work with someone who had this theory that all first-born children are list-makers. If she saw someone making a list of any kind she'd ask, "Are you the first-born in your family?" and then she would smile with satisfaction when they would answer "yes." I actually think her theory might possibly be right on. It's true in MY case, at least, because I'm nothing if not a list-making fool! So, to stay true to myself and, admittedly, to provide myself an outlet for my little "problem," here goes...

Things To Do This Weekend:

  • Get Noah measured for a tux. Yes, folks, he has accepted a position as the official Ring Bearer in my cousin's wedding. He'll be a handsome fella, no doubt.
  • Get serious and make some actual decisions about Christmas gifts. I've denied the fact that it's already December long enough!!
  • Vacuum. A-a-a-choo!
  • Get the Christmas tree all Christmased up. Poor thing has been bare for an entire week now.
  • Run to Hobby Lobby and Garden Ridge to see what they have in the way of ornaments for the boys (already found Saylor some ballet slippers--pink, of course) and pick up some thread for the throw pillows upstairs.
  • Decide what Christmas goodies/snacks/foods I would like to make this year and get my grocery list made.
  • Clean. That goes without saying.
  • Quit being a ball of nerves over it and get busy sewing up the knitted pieces for Atticus's winter snuggly.
  • List some more junk on ebay. Love to sell, hate to list.
  • Blog.
  • Finish up those pesky thank you cards.
  • Think of more things to make lists about.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Irony at Thanksgiving

Guess what?! I actually journeyed on my own to the grocery store with all four children! Can you believe it? I never thought this day would come. And it probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been in desperate need of disposable diapers for our trip back home for Thanksgiving. So, thanks to the "It Must Be Done Mommy Mode" I was in because of leaving town, I sucked it up and did it. And...somehow...we survived! Barely.

After two, count 'em two, absolutely last minute diaper blowouts, one mad hunt for a perpetually lost shoe, and one agonizing argument over who can and cannot open the car door, we headed out--albeit a good 45 minutes later than I had planned. The car ride itself was uneventful: of course every one was strapped to a seat, happily listening to WeeSing. Not much chance for things to go wrong under those circumstances. And then we arrived.

We must have looked hilarious crossing the parking lot. In my left hand I had Atticus in his infant seat. I held Gabriel's hand in my right hand, and then Noah held Gabriel's and Saylor's hands, that is, until Gabe pitched a fit because Noah was trying to help him. Good grief. So we made it to the front of the store and got a buggy, at which point our problems began. Whole Foods, I love ya, but let's g
et real here...your buggies are the pits! Definitely NOT family-friendly! I tried putting the infant seat down in the basket part of the buggy so that Gabriel could ride in the seat, but the basket is too narrow...like a craft store buggy! You know what I'm talking about? Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc. Pu-lease! A tiny basket at a grocery store?? Where is the logic in that?! So that was Gripe #1. Not totally thrown off yet, I simply placed the car seat up top and latched it onto the back of the kiddy seat, even though that meant Gabe would have to toddle about. But for heaven's sake, if they didn't make the kiddy seat a good FOOT higher than any other buggy ever made, and the seat back and push handle were even with each other! Huh?! Atticus was lying completely flat in that thing, staring up at the ceiling. How uncomfortable and scary! Gripe #2.

Well, I decided to "march on" despite our circumstances. It wasn't easy. I couldn't see a THING over that mile-high car seat, and Gabriel was walking, if you can call it that. After discovering that he would not be able to sit in the buggy at all, he proceeded to have a meltdown. We'd never done it THIS way before! It was just much too much for him to put up with apparently! So...we'd walk a couple of steps holding hands (WHILE I pushed the "buggy tower" with my left hand) before he'd fall out crying again; I'd then let go of his hand so he could walk on his own, and he'd just plant himself and cry. It took us five minutes to get from the buggy area to the diapers (a total of maybe 20 steps). Noah kept trying to help, but that just made it worse because Gabriel doesn't WANT Noah's help! Grumble, grumble...trying to hold it together...got ...to...get...diapers...

I grabbed the diapers we needed and while there discovered that there were no longer any G-diaper refills on the shelves, nor a place for them. Excuse me?! Whole Foods, what do you think you're doing? For goodness'sake, are you fazing them out?! Come ON!!! A whole six months on your shelves and that thanks to me and a couple other moms calling your manager and insisting you should get them, since our Whole Foods location was ridiculously the ONLY one in the U.S. not carrying them. You finally get them, but there's not so much as a mention of them as far as advertising goes. No marketing campaign, no free samples, no "how-to" workshops, nothing. People around here don't know about G-diapers--obviously--so TELL them! Good grief. Thanks a lot, Whole Foods. I guess I'll be paying shipping fees from now on. Gripe #3.

By this time I was definitely getting irritated. We hustled over a couple of aisles, grabbed a few snacks for our trip, and headed to the check-out counter. Noah was a big help unloading the buggy while I man-handled Gabriel who was still spazzing out, by the way. I managed to pay (one-handed), and they got my bags loaded into the buggy. The assistant manager was standing nearby and had been letting the kids choose a treat from the kids' freebie basket they keep at the check-out counters. Sometimes they offer treats, sometimes they don't. I'm not sure what one must do to qualify...it's a bit confusing. It annoys me because children remember stuff like that and naturally come to expect it. You know...oh, that's the store with the little kiddy buggies I can push myself, or that's the place with the big buggies shaped like race cars, or this is the one that lets us have a free snack! Anyway...once they were all set with their snacks-to-go, the assistant manager noticed what a sight we were as a whole. She must have taken pity on me, because she offered to walk with us to the car, and then on second thought, maybe she ought to push the buggy herself. Yeah, maybe. How humiliating! All I could think was, "If you'd just provide some decent buggies around here, this wouldn't be nearly so hard! I feel certain you can afford them!"

So off we tromped back across the parking lot VERY S-L-O-W-L-Y. We made it the car to my great relief, though I should have known it wasn't over yet. Gabriel was still melting, so I was just trying to GET HIM IN THE CAR when I looked and saw Saylor flitting about willy-nilly as if she had no idea she was in a parking lot with moving vehicles! Before I could scream her name, Noah did it for me. He grabbed her hand and scolded her about the dangers of acting that way around cars, to which she responded with an angry "No-ah!" Naturally. Grumble, grumble (this time under my breath because of the lady)...I calmly instructed Saylor to get herself "into the car this minute!"

In the meantime, the lady loaded our bags into the back and said she'd stick around until we were ALL loaded up--I'm sure to prevent the death of a child, by car or otherwise. I finally got Gabe and Saylor buckled, so I climbed out of the car, finally getting off my poor knees, and carried Atticus around to the other side to get him snapped in. The lady was now conversing with Noah, who was STILL standing outside the car, about what we were going to do for Thanksgiving. Oh, yeah. Thanksgiving. Man, at that very moment I was just thankful to be back in the car where people can sit calmly strapped into their seats. We said goodbye to the nice lady, and I expressed my now very humble gratitude. Whew! Driving off, I began the process of trying to block the whole experience out. Somewhere between "Eency Weency Spider" and "Skidamarink-a-dink-a-dink" I had just about managed it, when Noah asked, "Why do they sometimes give us snacks and sometimes don't? It's confusing!" Good question. Since you brought it up...Gripe #4. I guess I should be thankful they saw fit to give you some TODAY! Grumble...

And then it hit me. As a matter of fact, I SHOULD be thankful. I guess it took a wild, maybe-I'm-not-quite-ready-for-this-yet kind of trip to Whole Foods to get me in the right frame of mind. I am thankful for the helpfulness of a grocery store employee. Who knows what catastrophe we probably avoided thanks to her?! God provides us help when we need it, and I certainly needed it. I can admit that. I AM thankful for those free snacks, however random. I am thankful I have FOUR unbelievably cute, energetic, HEALTHY little ones to spend my days--my LIFE--with. I am thankful we live close enough to family to get to see them for a bit around the holidays. I am thankful for WeeSing. haha! I am thankful for safe car seats, for the luxury of buying an occasional package of disposable diapers, for not having to miss out on ANY thing my children do or say because they're always with me, for a house with plenty of space for our now bigger family, for sight (Mary Ingalls just lost hers in our Little House reading), for a computer to communicate with so many friends and family members (thank you, Facebook!), for a husband whose patience with all of us never ceases to amaze me, for coconut pie (here's to you, Mom!), for quiet, snuggly moments with a snoozing baby, and for giggly, tickly moments with the bigger kids. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snips, Snails & Pretty Pigtails with Bonus Pics!

Noah "built" a robot not long ago by driving HUGE nails into a block of wood. Lo and behold he CAN have patience after all!

The tip of Saylor's nose is STILL pink from the severe carpet burn she got when she fell out of bed one night...in September, y'all!!!


Gabriel is obsessed with moving all the furniture from one place to another. Wears me out, but at least he looks cute doing it.

Atticus is smiling (and cooing) more and more each day. He and I love each other so!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do You Know...About Honeycrisp Apples?

This is the first entry in a series of blog posts I've decided to do called "Do You Know...?" just for fun because I'm such a random trivia geek.

Honeycrisp Apples

I've found a new love.
Paul happened upon these apples at Kroger the weekend we had Atticus. He cut one up for the kids one day at lunch and popped a piece in his mouth. Obviously, he thought it was something I simply MUST try, because the next thing I knew he was stuffing one into my mouth. Usually I have to avoid the things he wants me to try (he once asked me to sniff some homemade ground pepper and I ended up burning and crying for a good 15 minutes), but this time he caught me off guard. It was a good thing because it turned out to be the best tasting apple I had ever had! And that's saying a lot really because I like apples.

Up to this point Fuji had been my very favorite variety, since it has a thinner peel and a nice sweet flavor. Fujis sort of changed my world after growing up with the sweet (albeit soft-fleshed and thick-peeled) Red Delicious in the school cafeteria and then, as I got older, the very tart Granny Smith
. I much preferred the Granny Smith simply because of its crispy texture, but it too had a thick peel, leaving me with mixed feelings and often sore gums. Thus began many years of peeling my apples. This way I could enjoy them. When Fuji came along, however, it was just such a relief to stop peeling and actually bite into an apple the way it was meant to be done. I can't tell you how "depressed" I was a summer ago when, for some reason, there was a severe Fuji shortage. No one could find them anywhere. And then when they finally became available again they were terrible--like they came from a bad crop.

Anyway, back to the Honeycrisp. This apple is nothing short of extraordinary. I'm telling you it is certain to become your favorite. It is thin-skinned, sweet and tart at the same time, juicier than all get-out, and ten times crisper than any "old" Granny Smith. You will NOT be disappointed. I even did a little research and found out way more about the world of apple production than I ever cared to know. I'll try to summarize: The very first seedlings of this variety were a result of "crosses" done in 1960. They were grown as seedling trees until 1974 (good year) when they were mature enough to bear fruit that could be harvested. At this point they selected 10-12 trees from the variety and assigned it a number (they don't give out names until they are ready to release an apple into the marketplace). From these trees, buds were taken and grafted in 1975, making four new trees. They grew in a nursery all the next year and were planted in 1977. Over the next several years various reports were made regarding its hardiness in winter, the fruit's texture, etc. Not until approximately 1987 did the Honeycrisp reach a point in maturity to show promise enough to be given a name. I'm still not clear on why it took twenty-one years from that point to actually reach my mouth. As much as my family buys apples, I feel certain I would have run across them if they had been there in the store.

From what I've read, the Honeycrisp is quickly becoming everybody's favorite. I will say, though, it's not cheap. The most recent price around here was $2.99 per pound, which comes out to be close to a dollar an apple. Yikes! It's been said that it is a difficult apple to grow and doesn't do well in all areas. Primarily grown in and around the state of Minnesota, where it originated by the way, it is understandably harder to come by, hence the pricey price. But do yourself a favor, buy at least one when next you go to the store. You will be SO glad you did.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Tagged" For Christmas

2002
I've been tagged! The girl in this woman wants to know if I'm ready for the holidays--if I'm ready to "get my jingle on." Hmm...Am I ready for Christmas? Boy, that's a tricky one. Depends on what you mean by "ready."

2003
I suppose the answer is yes: I'm ready like a little kid is ready to go to Disney World toMORrow. (I speak from experience here.) I have those "I can't wait" butterflies--that mentality that creeps in oh, about the first moment there's a cool nip in the air and then becomes full-blown the second the clocks are turned back and Daddy starts arriving home from work at bedtime, it seems. Something is definitely in the air besides the ragweed! I start thinking about what special somethings the little ones might like to open this year, start considering what fun activities we might like to do, and start craving all the delicious foods we traditionally make, especially the sweets. (For those of you who know me well, that shouldn't surprise you.) I'm ready, ready, ready for hot cocoa, thick snuggly blankets, crackling fires, warm pjs, twinkly lights and decorations, holiday pictures of my children, Paul's obsession with Burl Ives, candles burning, getting together with friends, wrapping packages (okay...wrapped packages...big difference), the Carpenter version of fruitcake, picking out our tree at the tree farm. In that way I am oh, so ready!!

2004
However, if by "ready" you mean READY, then the answer is absolutely not. Let's face it, I'm still working on making a home out of this house into which we moved a year ago!! You know, hanging pictures, making bedding, etc.--basic stuff. Here are the other reasons I'm not ready:

2005
  • I have at least an 18" stack of catalogs beckoning to me to get started on my shopping. Yet I have succeeded in ignoring it for an entire month now. I am so NOT ready to dive into them. Just a bit too overwhelming right now, though it would be nice to have it done. (Yes, Mom, I can admit that I'm procrastinating AND it's illogical.)
  • I am certainly not ready to show up to the million holiday functions knowing I have a total of three, unfortunately very slouchy, outfits I can get into right now. Ugh.
  • As much as I am craving the traditional foods, as mentioned above, I am not ready to be faced with them at a time when I really should lay off. (Unless, of course, I don't mind wearing those same three slouchy outfits for the next year or so.)
  • I'm not ready for another year of Christmas memories to pass when I am a good six years behind in documenting Christmases past.
  • I am definitely not relishing the thought of dragging out all those red plastic bins from the attic and sorting through all the stuff. Just makes me tired thinking of it right now. Everything tends to make one tired when living on an average of 4 hours of sleep per night, I guess.
2006
Well, I've succeeded in answering the question without actually taking a stand. That's me. Always the indecisive one. Let's just hope I can choose between Toy A and Toy B when the moment of truth is upon me! Okay--I'm tagging the following friends: academy at thousand oaks, from jambalaya to wienerschnitzel, a day in the life of a price, and kittino's karousel. Instructions: Answer the question "Are you ready to get your jingle on?" and then tag a few of your blogging friends. Have fun!

2007

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Snips, Snails & Pretty Pigtails

Noah decided on his own to copy down all the verses he's learned so far in Awana. Good thing he's homeschooling himself!

Saylor "read" board books to both baby brothers--her way of spending quality time with them.

Gabriel knocked the hamster ball (with the hamster inside) clear across the floor because it touched his leg and freaked him out. Gabe and the hamster have a love/hate relationship.

Atticus rolled over today (on his 4-week birthday) a whole bunch of times and even showed his daddy, which proved I wasn't hallucinating.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Project: Nursery Bookshelves

I spent $25 plus a little more for paint supplies and made some unique bookshelves for the nursery (shared by Gabriel and Atticus). Made from vinyl guttering, the shelves are open so the books face out. My father-in-law cut a piece of guttering into four equal pieces. I then stripped some of the sheen off with paint thinner, sprayed on a plastic primer, and then applied three coats of chocolate brown paint. Once I put on the end caps, the gutters were ready to hang. This part was a little cumbersome, but I pre-drilled holes in both the gutters and the wall and then used a manual screwdriver to install each "shelf." They are perfect for little toddlers because they can SEE the book covers when choosing a book for story time, and clean-up is made simpler, too. I only wish I'd thought of it sooner.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Selfishness

Something I constantly struggle with is selfishness. You know, that overwhelming feeling that tells you to keep the bigger slice of cake for yourself rather than sacrificially giving it up for someone else. It comes up all the time, in many areas of my life, but lately it has taken the form of selfishness with my time. I find myself reminiscing about the years before children, before marriage, when I had my own apartment. I spent my time how I pleased: I had all kinds of time (and money, for that matter) for creative projects, for going to movies and concerts, for road trips. Mind you, at the time I wanted nothing more than to get married and begin having children! Oh, the irony!

God continually finds creative ways in which to show me my sin and help me turn from it. A couple of days ago my friend sent me an email with a link to a video about a precious baby born with Trisomy 18. Now I know there are lots and lots of stories out there about difficult births, challenging family situations, miraculous healings, amazing tales of how God's grace kept people "alive" through the most depressing and awful situations. And I am thankful for any story of the like I may hear, as God always uses them to point me back to Him, giving me an opportunity to grow and learn spiritually.

But this particular story really touched my heart in a way that I have desperately needed lately. As much as I love my children and am thankful for them, there are days that simply wear me out and make me start focusing on myself again--MY needs, MY wants, MY feelings, blah, blah, blah. This video very poignantly displayed the amazingly UNselfish love two parents had for their baby, despite the heartbreaking circumstances. Not only did this video help me to see how incredibly blessed I am to have experienced so many moments with each of my children, but it solidified my feelings about how each and every life (which begins at conception, by the way) matters to the Lord and can be used to bring Him glory, to show others (in this case, millions) what they are missing without Him.

If only to save more babies from being TAKEN from us, I could NEVER reconcile voting for ANYONE who condones abortion (and by that I mean, favors the mother's "rights" over the baby who is helpless in the matter) even if it means voting for someone else whose policies on the economy, foreign affairs, and health care reform are less than impressive. I'm just saying...
One day I'm going to answer for everything I did on this earth, so I'm going on record as someone who will stand up for the unborn babies.



99 days of cuddling the softest skin, of marveling at the intricacies and beauty of God's creation, of feeling the warmth of a tiny body curled up against you, of staring into dark, innocent eyes, of listening to all the little "newbie" noises... I'm certain the Mooneys wouldn't trade those 99 days for the world.


Eliot's blog: http://mattandginny.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html
Mooney family blog: http://thespectacularvernacular.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Infamous Holiday Email

I once wrote an email in response to an issue some friends of mine were debating over (there were SEVERAL group emails on both sides of the issue). This is my response in its entirety, originally written in November '06. We thought this would make a good post since it's already written (ha!) and it happens to tell quite a lot about our family. The issue being questioned: Halloween--should we celebrate it since its origins are pagan? (And someone brought up Christmas as well because of its ties to pagan customs.)


I've been trying to organize my thoughts and finally decided I would weigh in on the issue…sorry about the length.

In my opinion, for what it's worth, I think it comes right down to this question: Are you pleasing the Lord with your actions? As basic as it may seem, it is ONE major question we should ask about everything, always measuring the issue against God's Word. Are you pleasing the Lord when you chase your sister until she cries? Are you pleasing the Lord when you hit your brother on the head with a block? Are you pleasing the Lord by your response to your parents? Are you pleasing the Lord by the way you eat? Are you pleasing the Lord by how you speak to your husband? Are you pleasing the Lord by how you manage your money? Some are obviously easier to answer than others because even as children many of us were taught the popular Scriptures, the ones easy to memorize, the Commandments, etc. and we learned to apply those principles to our lives. Somewhere down the line it got harder and harder to answer questions on our own. We stopped searching the Scriptures, we stopped seeking God's will, we stopped listening to the Spirit. Why? It's easier to stop. It feels good to our flesh to go along with the ways of the world. I'm speaking for myself here!!!! But God's Word really does have everything we need to answer this question, no matter what the issue. Are you pleasing the Lord with your actions? It is a question only YOU can answer because it is based on your specific set of circumstances, your own personal knowledge of God's Word, and the Spirit's subsequent convictions on your heart.

For me, I usually start to recognize these types of convictions when my mind keeps going back to something over and over. I just can't seem to quit thinking about something. You know, you're just trucking along and suddenly you get challenged with something. Maybe it's a Scripture you read, maybe it's a Scripture someone has shared with you, maybe it's something said in a sermon or a song, maybe it's a conviction someone else has and is sharing with you; whatever it is, you keep reflecting on it, maybe you even do everything you can to refute it, you ask others about it, you may be extremely bothered by it, you just can't seem to let it go. This is the point at which we need to ask God's direction about the issue, because He may be changing our hearts and minds about something we would never have dreamed we would change on.

For my family, we never ever considered doing anything different than what our own parents did during our upbringings. After all, we turned out okay, right? In fact, Noah's first year included both trick-or-treating AND Santa Claus, no big deal. Then a friend of mine in my Bible study mentioned she was struggling with several issues (I don't even remember if they had anything to do with Halloween) and that she had been led to the verse "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Phil. 4:8. Whoa! That verse is HUGE when we apply it to everything in our lives, huh?!! TV shows? Movies? How we dress? Books? Images we allow our children to see? God gave us very wise advice (of course!) in his effort to protect us from evil, from temptations, from struggles in raising our children, from cultural desensitization, even from bad dreams. Why? Because these are the things that keep us from having the abundant life He wants for us and these are the things that lead us down roads that are far from pleasing to the Lord, far from glorifying to Him. I know, I know, you're thinking "Good grief, it's just a little pumpkin bag filled with candy and jolly old St. Nick. Whatever could be the harm in those?" Maybe nothing, I suppose. It just depends on where you are in your relationship with the Lord and what His dealings with you have been.

On Christmas: Our specific convictions regarding our Christmas traditions are mainly centered around problems with Santa Claus. We decided to take him out of our family's celebration for the first time two years ago. Our biggest reason is that Santa has the potential to take away from Jesus. What child wouldn't obsess over Santa rather than Jesus? Santa, after all, is the one with all the potential "loot" and the cool sleigh and the magical powers, etc. A story about a baby being born long ago in a stable becomes, well, boring. You know. What's in it for me? Salvation? So?! What does that really mean anyway? What about the candy and Playstation 35 (or whatever number they're on now)? Children are not abstract thinkers. When given a choice over who is most important at Christmastime, who do you think they lie in bed excited about? I know I didn't lie in bed on Christmas Eve thinking of my Savior and His blessed birth. I was thinking about the man in red coming down my chimney in only a few short hours and all the great stuff he was bringing me. In fact, the whole process made me quite materialistic.

I think it's worth noting, too, that Santa, like Jesus, can't be seen but we are asked to believe in him anyway, at least until we're old enough to know better, at which point you couldn't blame a child for logically pointing out Jesus must not exist either. We have been telling our children Santa brought them all those gifts and now they find out we've been lying to them all this time. Okay, maybe it wasn't THAT traumatic to you as a child, but if you're the parent, don't you think it will be hard to reconcile that lie when the time comes? (Note: We also tell our children it's a sin to lie!) I once overheard a friend asking a child what was so special about December 25th. The child answered that it was Jesus' birthday. The friend responded with, "Yeah, but what else?" Again the child answered something like "God sent Baby Jesus to us." Sadly, our friend said, "Yeah, but what else?" This went on for a while, as the child just wasn't catching on. It was like "Jesus PLUS..." The message: Jesus is not enough.
And that's just part of it. Shouldn't we want our children's hearts to belong to US (Malachi 4:5-6) and not to some chubby elf who doesn't even exist? Paul and I tell our children that all those gifts are from US and the gifts have nothing to do with how good they've been; we give the gifts because we love them so much. It's just another way to direct their eyes and hearts to the Lord, because He too loves us no matter how good/bad we are. His love is unconditional, and your love for your children is, too. About the Christmas tree: Yes, its history is less than lovely, but by putting up a tree in 2006 are we displeasing the Lord? Maybe. Maybe not. I know at least at our house we don't hang replicas of Bacchus (the pagan god) on our tree. Instead, our tree has a star on top (to represent the star of Bethlehem), the beginnings of childhood memories, angels, crosses, and other things that honor the Lord and the family He has gifted us with.


On Halloween: Our problems with this holiday are the obvious ones. The images and practices connected with (which have a history in paganism AND are still prominent in the culture today) are not of the Lord. Period. Am I pleasing the Lord by allowing my children to dress up as princesses and pumpkins to look cute and accept candy from neighbors? I wouldn't call that in itself DISpleasing to the Lord, but taking part in it--no matter how innocently one does it--may show others our acceptance of the entire holiday, and God calls us to be a light to the nations. It's not like we'll be walking down the street, hand-in-hand with our costumed children, wearing a placard around our necks explaining to everyone that we reject the pagan customs of old, the Satanic practices of today, and the whole idea of witchcraft, and that we are merely doing the fun, cute stuff with our family. Of course not! We'll be lumped in with the rest. Oh, sure, you can argue that most people are clueless about Halloween's past and even the dark side of its present. But is their ignorance our excuse for participating?

We have to ask ourselves, am I wanting to participate because I just can't imagine life without it?? Speaking for my family, we haven't missed anything! Our kids get plenty of candy year round (too much if you ask me) and we have a dress-up box they can play with any day they want. So what's it all about if not those two things? Is it seeing the neighbors and family members? We could visit at other times. Is it about looking like everyone else so as not to appear weird? REALLY think about that one. As believers, we're not supposed to look just like the rest of the world. We're supposed to be different so that people will ask us WHY we're different. We have a good explanation!!!! And they need to hear it!

Is it hard to reject these customs after having them be such a prevalent part of our own childhoods? Yes!!! Noah once commented in front of his grandmother that she had wicked stuff on her table (a "decorative" Halloween witch). And doing without Santa means asking the grandparents (who feel they did a pretty decent job raising children WITH Santa) to please refrain from buying gifts with Santa on them or labeling packages from Santa or asking (for goodness' sakes) what Santa is going to bring them. It's hard! It's controversial! It's radical in many ways. Being different is always difficult from a worldly standpoint. But Paul and I are starting to feel more and more comfortable with radicalism. As long as we are being radical for Jesus and allowing Him to transform our lives according to a biblical standard, we are willing to appear totally weird to everybody else. (Believe me, the Christmas and Halloween issues are nothing compared to the other things the Lord has changed our minds about!) The disclaimer: This is simply an explanation of where we are and how we got here. While we are totally convinced this is what God wants for OUR family, we recognize that not everybody is going to be in the same place.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Snips, Snails & Pretty Pigtails

Noah spilled about a quarter cup of rice onto the floor as he tripped on his way to put his plate in the sink after dinner. That boy.  :)

Saylor wore her "magic red dancing shoes" with her new pink twirly skirt and insisted on having her hair in a braid.

Gabriel finally fell asleep 20 minutes before we needed to leave to make our doctor's appointment. Of course.

Atticus slept in his carseat a full hour after we returned home from the doctor's office. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brotherhood

Noah, Gabriel, and a Grasshopper







Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Lil' Punkins

Well, we went to the "Crazy Patch" today. It was our first time to visit this particular pumpkin patch. Assuming it would be the same basic setup as our usual "picking grounds," we were a bit unprepared for what we would experience.

Without going into all of it, I'll just say that there were TONS of people there, so it was no easy feat to keep up with all of our crew, especially with so many fun kid things to do. Children were running everywhere and in all directions; they had hay bale tunnels, playground equipment, a massive sand box, and lots of farm animals. The whole thing made this mommy more than a little stressed. I am, however, thankful for the experience for our little ones. We all loved seeing (and hearing) the calves, goats, geese, chickens and the pony. In fact, Noah spent nearly the entire time feeding grass to the animals. That boy!

Then, we actually attempted a photograph. Ha! We should have known the odds of getting a good picture of every one at once would be slim to none. We ended up with these two. At the very least, I'm glad we were able to go before the weather turns too cold, that the children got to play on a real farm, that we found a gigantic pumpkin for our doorstep, that we made it home with the same four children we started out with, and that it is now over. Whew!



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