Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Just Because" Flowers are the BEST!

I had a good day yesterday. I got some house work done. I got to spend time reading my Bible and had a fire going in the fireplace. I enjoyed playing blocks with Jack and Carter. I got to spend some time reading with Natalie. It was a refreshing day. Then, Jeff strolled through the door after work with a big boquet of roses. As my heart was melting I was in pure panic mode for about 3 seconds searching my brain trying to remember which occasion I had forgotten but alas, there was none. I asked him what they were for and he just said, "Because I love you." And I love him back. A lot.

Everyday I wake up and wonder how it's possible to love my little family more than I did the day before. As I look at my kids right before bed, right after we pray with each child, my heart is overjoyed. I love every single one of them more than I feel like my heart can handle. I fall into bed thinking my heart is topped off then wake up the next morning beside the husband I love more than I can explain and turn my head to realize there is a small face staring directly at mine standing so close to my bed with their warm breath spilling out of their little smile. I sigh as I realize that my heart grew again. Overnight. And I can tell that yet again, I am a little more in love than the day before.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways"

"Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: Gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. Immediately we abandon to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises all the time. When we become advocates of a creed, something dies; we do not believe God, we only believe our belief about Him. Jesus said, "Unless you...become like little children." Spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next. If we are only certain in our beliefs, we get dignified and severe and have the ban of finality about our views; but when we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy." --Oswald Chambers

I want to live like this. I want to feel God's lead and be confident enough to walk with a blindfold over my eyes knowing that even though it feels like I'm free-falling I'm actually being carried in the palm of his hands. I want to break away from the normal-ness that is safe, certain... vanilla. I want to dive further into a life that is mysterious for the wonders that are God. I want to be one that trusts more times than doubts. I want to be one that follows more times than tries to lead. I want to be one to sing out in worship more times than cry in disappointment. I want to be one to teach my children about God's love through example and not words. My heart yearns for this. I'm moving more and more towards this everyday even though it's a process. I just want to be so close to God that when he whispers in my ear I don't even have to turn my head closer to hear because I'm already that close.

As I'm reading through 2 Samuel I'm seeing on the pages David talking to God. A conversation between the two. David asks and God answers. Simple as that. David knows what God is saying, directing him to do, where to go and it is up to him to listen or to turn away but the question isn't whether or not he hears what God was telling him it is is whether or not he chooses to obey. I want to hear God. I realize this means that I have to listen. Sometimes that's hard for me (I'm better at talking) but it really is my heart's desire to follow his lead, become like a little child and ultimately "live a life of uncertainty with breathless expectation."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Red Paint

Good news (mom), I'm inspired to write again! Bad news. I have nothing to write about. So I guess I'll just ramble. As opposed to my freakishly insightful writings that I normally produce... (Laughing at that is allowed.)

I bought red paint a couple of weeks ago. I've been wanting to paint our front door red. Yes, I'm well aware that everyone has a red door, but it's just not true because I don't have one! And I want one. So my sweet husband took the kids and I to Lowes two weeks ago. He went to the wire department (or where ever he actually went) and I went to the paint department. I browsed all the reds comparing them under different lighting (I know that it's going to be outside and really won't matter anyway but I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing you know, picking out paint like a big girl and all). I had Jack in the cart and he would let me know if it was too orangy (technical term) or too pink or too bright. Finally we found the perfect red. Jeff strolled into the paint department at just the right time and Jack and I proudly displayed our paper paint sample to Natalie, Carter, and him as we anxiously awaited their immediate approval. It was a bit anticlamactic but it would have to do. Because I'm easily amused I exitedly jumped (once) and walked confidently over to the paint lady (another technical term), handed her the sample and said "I want to paint my front door this color!" Right. She looked none too impressed with niether my enthusiasm nor my choice of color, but ask me if I cared in that moment (I didn't).

She rolled her eyes and asked in a monotone voice, "Do you want a whole gallon?" Uh, I have no idea paint lady you're the expert, you tell me how much I will need. "I guess. What about a half gallon?" Looking super annoyed she said, "We don't sell a half gallon. Just a gallon or quarts and you'll need more than one quart and two quarts cost more than a gallon." Of course they do. "Well then I guess we'll take a gallon." "Fine." Wow, paint lady. You are totally ruining this experience for me. I glance over at Jeff and he sort of shoots me this I-know-she's-not-being-nice-just-be-patient look so I wait as she goes and checks stuff on her computer. Suddenly a paint guy shows up who appears to know more about paint than the paint lady does and he starts asking me about primer. I tell him my door is white right now and I want the red to be a deep red, not a bright red so I guess I want the primer to be darker, not just white. I had him for about half of my sentence until he sees that Jeff is wearing a BowTech "official-looking" shirt and starts talking about hunting. Seriously, paint guy was my only hope for a sucessful experience and I lost him to hunting? Back to paint lady I go.

I look over at her to see how she's doing and she's seriously taking forever on the computer. The kids are getting antsy to get out of there and we still haven't even discussed primer (since I lost paint guy to my husband). She leaves to check on primer costs and comes back annoyed that the computerized paint mixer-upper hasn't done it's job. She restarts it and grabs the primer. She says they don't have the primer color I want, but she's sure if she just adds some black to some white it will be fine. I don't trust her. Next, paint guy goes over to check the paint the lady had mixed up on the computer and says (loud enough for us to hear), "Is this the color they're painting their door? Pink!?" Uh, no. It is not. Clearly paint lady is either completely confused or simply does not know how to order the computer to mix the paint. Either way I've decided (over the last 2 minutes of our 40 minute wait on paint) that we will not be buying paint here.

We didn't have time that day to go to Jerry's or Home Depot to get the paint, but 2 days later I did get it. I was super excited to get the door done but I learned at the paint store that we have to wait until there's like three days in a row of sunshine so the door won't get too much moisture. At this rate I won't be painting until mid July and I could have just held out for the Lowes paint lady to get her act together because it might take our beautiful state that long to have 3 nice days in a row anyway.

Oh, and on a side note (since I apparently have to have one in every post): I'm pretty sure the Lowes paint lady and Doogie Howser from the pharmacy are related. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are You Kidding Me!?!

**Before I start this freakishly long post I just want to say that I wish Renee and I didn't live such parallel lives for if we didn't this never would have happened to me.

Good: When something happens and I think to myself, "This will make a great blog!" Bad: When a whole day happens and I think to myself, "This would make a really good book. I just don't know if it would be a drama or a comedy." Almost everything that happens to me eventually turns to comedy though, so here we go.

It all started at 3:42pm when I got off the phone with the nurse who told me the only opening our doctor had before the weekend was at 4:15 and I might want to get there early. We live 35 minutes away from the doctor's office but Jack was coughing pretty bad which was making his breathing labored. Most likely RSV. We've been there before, a lot. So even though I had no choice but to take all three kids with me and realistically couldn't even be there on time I said I'd take the appointment.

Fast forward an hour and a half. The doctor already confirmed that his breathing was bad, his oxygen levels a bit low, and it would be best to get him on an inhaler. She wrote up the prescription and faxed it in to the pharmacy. I drag the kids into the store and walk up to the pharmacy tech who had to be all of 16 years old. He looks us up on his computer and shrugs his shoulders and says, "Sorry, they must not have called it in. It's after 5 so you're just gonna have to wait till tomorrow." Oh, no little boy, you did not just say that to me. I immediately pull out my cell phone (cause I'm cool and I know how to use it now) and call an after hours line and ask a nurse to call it in again. I go back up to Doogie Howser and ask him to look again. He confirms that it's still not there and I say I'll come back in 15 minutes to check again. I walk around the store for 20 minutes and come back to wait in line for 15 more just to ask the kid if it's in. He said it got called in as I was walking away (but apparently he didn't feel the need to tell me). I go to the "pick-up line" where they tell me it will be an hour to an hour and a half. Seriously. I should have known better.

I drag the kids back out to the car and go buy them ice cream and we drive around forever (said in the Sandlot voice) before finally returning. We wait in line for 20 minutes before the lady gives us the news that it's still in the "beginning process" and will be at least another hour. We walk around more. We return an hour later and wait in line for another 15 minutes. Good, it's done. I look at the price-total in horror and she asks, "You didn't have an insurance to bill, did you?" "YES, I DID!" "Oh, oops. Sorry. Take this whole thing and go wait in that first line again."

By this time the kids are completely in melt down central and I'll admit I was right there with them. I felt like pulling someone's hair out. We get to the "insurance" line and end up with Doogie again (great) only to find out that insurance pays for like 2% of this stuff and we get to pay the rest. FINE. I don't even care just get me outta here. Doogie sends us to the end of the other line (again) and finally we get squared away. All we have to do is wait to "consult" with the pharmacist who eventually tells us our doctor is wrong and Jack's too young for the mouth piece she prescribed to go with the inhaler and we'll need to buy the mask that happens to be $54 (a plastic mask!) As we are waiting in the second line (for the 6th time) I look down to see that Jack has wet through his pull-up all the way down to his socks, Carter has already broken the toothbrush holder I had bought earlier, and Natalie was sitting criss-cross-applesauce in the middle of the floor singing to herself while she swayed back and forth. When we get up to the front of the line and the lady says, "I'm not sure I know how to do this type of transaction." Carter yells, "This day just keeps getting worser and worser and I'm NOT kidding!" As we were finally walking out the pharmicist waves to get my attention so that he could let me know "this medicine will make him a bit hyper." Right. Of course it will.

Finally we get home (4 hours after we entered the store the first time). I end up having to literally sit on Jack and hold his hands down to get him to "try" the medicine. I finally get Jack to bed (before the hyper-ness set in) and go back into the kitchen to find Carter pushing the inhaler button and watching "mist" come out over and over again. "Look Mommy, rain!" You have got to be flipping kidding me! Seriously, I did not just spend $85 and 3 1/2 hours at that pharmacy so that Carter could pretend the albuteral is rain. I have no idea how much is left, but pretty much--- I don't even care right now. I'm now going to bed. Happy. My husband is coming home tomorrow, my kids are all finally sleeping (sans the cough), and I made it through this day because God is good (albiet comedic, nonetheless good).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where is he again?

When Jeff first started travelling I studied his itinerary so diligently that I knew where he was every hour of every day just in case something happened and I had to get a hold of him. Now sometimes I get preoccupied when he's gone. After all, I have a lot to do taking care of the house, kids and dog (and myself when I can squeeze in a workout) especially when I'm doing it alone. When he's gone I take breaks to clear my head when I can get them such as going out to my parent's house for dinner one night, taking long drives just to have kids and puppy contained, watching far too much HGTV at night when I can't sleep, and watching absolutely no NCIS, CSI, or Monk. He's been travelling for business for four and a half years and although I wouldn't say it's gotten easier, apparently I have grown accustomed to it. Today a lady (the lady who works at the Fred Meyer Playland-- being there is another indication that he's gone) asked where he went on his trip this time and I found myself replying, "I have no idea. Missouri, maybe?" At first I was embarrassed that I didn't know where he was (he actually went a few different places this time)... but I quickly decided that next time, instead of admitting that I really don't know, I'm going to take note from Jack who looked right up at her and simply said, "An airplane."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane

**I'm writing this post at the risk of sounding like a pathetic love sick teenager.

The kids and I drove Jeff to the airport this morning for a business trip. He'll be gone through Friday. He usually just drives himself but since his car is in the shop we dropped him off in the Suburban. I'm especially heart sick and I'm well aware it's the very beginning of day one, but it's different. We don't usually drive him there. It's not usually this big hoopla with him walking around the car giving hugs and kisses to everyone and us watching him walk away pulling his suitcase with his laptop bag slung over his shoulder. We don't usually see planes taking off as we drive away.

It's usually him leaving before we're even awake. If we are awake, it's more like he's just going to work and coming home 5 days later. It's usually not so obvious that he's going so far away. The morning felt super long (and not just because we got up at 5 in order to drop him off on time). The kids were slower at getting ready and eating breakfast because they were asking a million questions about his trip. They weren't super sad or anything (they can't remember when he didn't travel for work) but them asking made me a little sad. Yesterday we played outside with the kids and then sat on the deck as we watched them run laps around the backyard while we timed them to see how fast they could touch all the trees and make it back to us. Jeff looked at me and just said, "I miss you guys." This did not make him leaving any easier.

I am so very thankful that he has such a great job. I am thankful that because he has this great job, I get to stay home with the kids. I am thankful that he loves what he does and who he works with. I can still be sad though, when he leaves. Even if it's "only" for 5 days. I know that a lot of people have loved ones gone for much longer than that, but I still have the right to be a little sad (because he is pretty awesome) and I do miss him. Already.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The "F-Word"

Side Note: I know, who starts a post with a side note, right? I do. Okay, so the side note is this: My husband (Jeff') has a sister named Jeremi. Yes, a girl named Jeremi. And I have a brother named Jeremy. So our kids are probably 3 of very few kids that have both an Uncle Jeremy and an Aunt Jeremi. Just wanted to clear that up as to avoid any confusion during my actual post... which goes as follows...

Last night we had Jeremi, her husband Shane, and their three girls over for dinner. We ate, played freeze tag in the back yard, drank a couple of pots of coffee... you know, the usual stuff. Anyway, after dinner we got to telling stories and laughing until we cried. Everytime we get together we hear ourselves saying, "Man, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time!" but that doesn't really have anything to do with the story. It's just funny that we say it literally every time we get together. So, the kids were playing in the boys bedroom and us adults were in the living room sharing parenting stories.

Mine was this... The other day while Jeff and I were in the car with the kids we could hear them whispering them in the back seat. I asked them what they were saying and Natalie (who is completely incapable of lying and has a higher guilt-factor than even I do) says, "Uh.... Carter said... the F-word." Jeff gives me "the look" which means "just let it go" but since I am incapable of letting things go, I say a quick prayer before diving into this conversation and quietly whisper, "What did you say?" She quickly responds (loudly), "Carter said THE F-WORD!" I (as calmly as I can) reply, "Uh, what's the F-word?" I could see Natalie and Carter exchange glances in the review mirror as they are clearly contemplating the possible repercussions of answering honestly. I wait. They think. I wait some more. Finally Natalie says, "Can I just spell it for you because it's a really bad word and I don't want to get in trouble if you hear me say it out loud. Mom, you're really not going to like this word..." I remain quiet and she continues. "Okay, here I go... Um. F... A... R... T... But I didn't really say it outloud so it doesn't count, and I won't even spell it anymore, I promise!" Even though "fart" has never been my favorite word, right there in that moment I have to admit, it was.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Taking My Me-Time

I had a post a while back where I wrote about how calm the house was and how great it felt in that moment. That's not this post.

This morning has been hectic. The energy has been high for everyone but me. I've decided that I just need to take 5 minutes (or 15) to myself and the ways that I achieve that goal have become less and less important as the morning has drug on. Speaking of drugs... no, just kidding, I didn't resort to drugging my children. This time. But I have taken our hyper puppy out to "potty" and put him in his kennel for a half an hour to "flippin' relax a bit!" to quote myself as I was locking the door behind him. I put PBS kids cartoons on the television in our bedroom and stuck my kids on the floor in there with a snack and told them not to move until Word World was over. And yes, we do have a tv in our bedroom even after seeing the Oprah show on how your sex life can suffer because of it. Right, like having a tv in the bedroom's got anything on the fact that we've got three kids.

So, here I sit. Taking my 15 minutes of "me time" to write about how hard it was to get the time in the first place. Welp, there it was. Snacks must be gone and Word World must be over. Time-in.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Heart's Desire

I believe God gave every person he created special and unique desires. The desires of our heart are ours and ours alone. They are between us and God. No one can remove them, change them, or lessen the pain for us when we don't get them. No one except, of course, our maker who gave them to us in the first place.

I have always had a deep desire to adopt. For as long as I can remember it's been on my heart; like my heart was branded with this desire before I was even born. Over the years as I have grown up, married and started my family one might think (especially if you regularly read my blog) that there's no way I could desire for my house to be more full/explosive/busy/dirty than it already is, but I really feel that desires like the one I have don't simply fade away in the night... even if they sound crazy when they are whispered out loud.

When Carter was two and a half years old Jeff and I prayed (for 6 months) before deciding that it was time to start taking adoption/fostering classes to begin the adoption process. We took these classes, workshops, and did all the paperwork over the course of 4 months. When we were finally finished we had a pile of paperwork to fill out and send in and we were officially on our way (we were officially "starting")... Two weeks later we randomly (and completely unexpectedly) found out we were pregnant (with Jack). To say I was confused would be a huge understatement. Hadn't we prayed about it? Hadn't God placed this wonderful desire on my heart on purpose? Weren't we too close to seeing this dream to fruition?

We never sent the paperwork in. It was too overwhelming. I was too confused. Jeff wasn't. He saw this as God simply telling us that the timing wasn't right. Although I cried (a lot), I was torn. I didn't not want this baby that we were now expecting, but at the same time I wanted to adopt so very badly.

It's been two and half years since Jack was born. Obviously I wouldn't trade him for the world. Our life is crazy. Most days I feel like my head is going to explode, and yet it remains, tucked away but still there. Like a tattoo on my heart that has faded a bit over the years, but there nonetheless. The desire.

I don't know what the future holds. It's not my job to know, and I'm thankful for that. My heartstrings still feel tugged on every time I hear an adoption story (and especially when I think about my own), but right now I'm trusting God. Right now I'm loving on the three beautiful and amazing home-made children that I have the priveledge of parenting. I will simply continue to trust. I will trust in the God who formed my heart the way he did on purpose. The God who knows me more intimately that I even know myself because he is the God who created me. I will trust, and I will wait.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Mondays

Mondays are generally cleaning days in our house. The only reason for this is because I'm a firm believer that weekends are for enjoying and I do not (repeat, DO NOT) enjoy cleaning. Mondays are the day that I recover from the weekend and try as hard as I can to cover up the fact that over the previous two days we had a great time. There are a few things in the "cleaning genre" (the definition of "genre" being: a kind of artistic work; so technically, I can pair it with cleaning) that I am particularly fond of.

The first is the fact that my husband stands over 6' 2'' tall. You might be wondering what this has to do with cleaning. Well, since he is so tall, his eyes are farther from the floor than mine are (by over a foot) so I assume he can't see what's on the floor as well as I can, thus making it possible for me to stretch the times between mopping farther apart. The second thing (in the cleaning genre) that I am fond of is the fact that my husband doesn't judge me when I look at the huge pile of laundry then walk away from it, heading straight to the store to buy him a pair of jeans instead of seperating out the laundry into darks/whites/towels/denim and being organized enough to know that I can have the denim section done by morning, like I probably should. Seriously though, isn't that why there's a "cold" option? For those of us who choose to just toss everything in together and call it good?

Because Mondays are cleaning days, they generally are not my favorite day. However, it is only because Mondays are cleaning days that I get to enjoy my clean, picked up, sparkling house on Monday evenings. With my husband. In his new jeans.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jack's Coffee

One of my mad skills is looking back and (usually) being able to see where I went wrong in any given situation that turned sour on me. As this beautiful morning is unfolding, my two year old is throwing a temper tantrum like I haven't seen come from him, ever. He's literally throwing himself on the floor, screaming, and running off to stumble onto his bed in such a dramatic way that I feel like I should give him an award for it when he's done. Why, you ask, is he acting in such a two-year-old manner on a sunny Friday morning? Well, it is because he, of course, wants. . . coffee. As I scan my memory to past events that would have led up to the dramatic morning my little Jack is having, I fall upon last night and the happenings at our home.

We hosted a birthday party for our niece, Micah, and toward the end of the evening Jack was getting tired. I joked that he needed some coffee. Jack jumped on the idea and kept exclaiming, "Coffee! Coffee!" So, I did what I can only assume every parent would do, and I took his sippy cup to the coffee pot and pretended to put coffee in it. I wish it ended there. It should have. But, because I am who I am, and I usually don't know when to stop, I kept going. I poured a little creamer (the taste-good vanilla kind) into his milk and shook it up for him. I handed it back to him and said, "Here you go, babe. Coffee." Like I said before, I have mad skills when it comes to seeing where I went wrong. That was it; that is where I went wrong. That is the reason my son is at my feet as I write this, sobbing, sippy cup in hand, crocodile tears streaming down his face...vanilla-creamer-milk. Or, in Jack's words, "Coffee!"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I remember being a kid and going outside with my Dad. Watching in awe as he would prune fruit trees, chop wood, water the garden, feed all the animals, move irrigation pipes, and a long list of other chores that are required of living on 40+ acres. Although I didn't realize it then, I now look back and know that I was blessed to live on a corner of heaven right here on earth. I loved watching my Dad work (and still do, actually). He seemed to do every task with amazing ease even though beads of sweat were running down his face. I can still remember the sound (and smell) of the chainsaw and what the flecks of wood looked like as they were rushing out from between the teeth into the air, at last landing on the ground all around him. I remember sitting on the top rail of a fence, swinging my feet back and forth asking a million questions met with thought out answers while he was repairing a broken gate. I remember him teaching me how to saddle my horse and then how to walk her up to a stump to hop on bareback for a quick ride. I remember being read to at night, all four of us kids sitting around the smallest room of the house by the wood stove, listening to Dad's voice read Bible stories out of a big worn out red book that had frayed edges and a soft cover.

I love that because of my Dad's love for the Native American culture, Carter is so intent on learning all there is to know about it and can't wait to sleep in Grandpa's teepee this summer. I love that the kids look forward to canoe trips with my Dad and doing the little things like looking for snakes under the tarps in the garden and getting to hold all the baby pigeons in the bird barn. I love that they like to go into the woods and "help" chop wood with Grandpa and I love that he always lets them carry the kindling and set it up to be lit in the wood stove. It's all of these little things that make this man so special. I'm honored to call him Dad and so very thankful that my children have the priveledge of calling him Grandpa.

Happy Birthday, Dad. You are loved more than words can say.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lego Arms and Bath Boats

I am amazed at how losing the arm of a microscopic lego man can be so detrimental to a five year old boy. I am equally amazed at how long it takes him to get over this loss. His little world is disintegrating before him faster and faster the longer it takes him to find the missing appendage. I swear we've looked in every possible nook and cranny of our not-so-huge house and the arm has yet to raise a hand to it's wherabouts (hehe). My question is, how long is the appropriate length of time to look for something like a lego arm before you have the go-ahead (sans guilt, if it's possible) to stop looking and call it a loss?

The other day Carter lost his new boat he got for in the bathtub. I spent exactly 38 minutes looking for that boat before I found it. That's a long time when you've got 2 other kids, a dog, dinner and dishes to take care of. But I spent the time, I found it, and I was a hero. For about 5 minutes. Then he moved on to another toy. An old toy, nonetheless. I spent the next 38 minutes wondering if it had been worth it in the first place beings that the fun he had with it lasted a fraction of the time it took me to find it. Aaaaahhhhh, the joys of rhetorical questions. I doubt I will ever know the answer, as I have yet to recieve solid answers to most of my parenting questions thus leaving me in the dark (with a minimal amount of confidence) while making them. I am however, learning throughout the process and I have no doubt that I will be a parenting guru by the time my kids are grown and start having their own kids... and I'm sure my grown children will have grateful smiles on their faces as I (ever so humbly) dole out the parenting advice as they are enjoying the wonders of parenting as I did. Right?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A few things that make me happy

Alright. Since this week has been long and trying (for example: today I caught Jack trying to poke the puppy with a fork through the kennel door), I decided I needed a pick-me-up. So, here it is. A small list of things that make me happy. Just things that I need reminding of, because really it's the little things that it ends up all being about and I want it to be about the good little things, not the crazy "I swear if you do that one more time" little things.

~ the kids calling litter boxes "glitter boxes"

~fire burning in the fireplace

~going in to read the kids books before bed and coming out to realize that Jeff has done all the dishes from dinner and made the kids' lunches for the next day

~reading Romans

~the fact that I don't have to rewind dvds

~Jack folding his hands and bowing his head to pray, and then peeking to make sure Natalie and Carter are doing the same

~automatic garage doors

~Natalie being so excited to tryout for the talent show, even though the rules are... "no swear words, no lip syncing, and no Taylor Swift"

~Carter saluting me when I tell him (in a raised voice for the third time) to brush his teeth

~candles that smell like cinnamon

~how excited the kids get just to answer the phone

~going for a drive when it's cold out but the sun is shining right in the windows

~my husband *still* opening every door for me

~Fred Meyer playland

~walking in my bedroom after Jeff and the kids are gone in the morning to discover the bed already made

~my parents randomly stopping by "to see the kids" but knowing it's probably to make sure the kids are still alive

~my husband's huge smile when I drop by work just to say hello

~going for a run *outside*

~vacuum attachments that double as pretty much anything to two little boys

~vanilla flavored coffee made (automatically!) before I even wake up

~how driving down my parents driveway feels like "home" still. Every time.

~knowing without a doubt that I am saved by grace, through faith