Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas!

Of all my 27 Christmas's I've experienced, I think this might have been my favorite. Christmas was a little different this year-we were snowed in. It turned out to be really nice and relaxing to not have to rush around from place to place.
Something about snow falling just feels Christmas-like. I felt like I was looking at a Norman Rockwell picture. It started blowing in on Christmas Eve, so I was a little bummed that we missed our church candlelight service and looking at lights, but we still enjoyed our evening. We had a real Christmas dinner of turkey, homemade macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole-comfort food for a cold night. Afterwards, we made Jesus a birthday cake and sang him "Happy Birthday." My boys really enjoyed this and I think this will be our new Christmas Eve tradition. We left Santa and Rudolph some cake instead of cookies...Santa said he really enjoyed it. Besides, I bet he gets tired of cookies!

He even left a note for the boys!

My in-laws got me a waffle maker for Christmas, so we used it Christmas day to make our breakfast. We had monkey bread, and waffles topped with Nutella, fresh strawberries and raspberries and whipped cream!

As you can see, Jon was excited.

A view of the snow. I couldn't get a good picture because I couldn't get out!

The before.

The after.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love the food, the weather, the time with my family. I love that my husband is home a lot during this month. I love the magical looks on my children's faces at the thought of Santa coming. I love the crazy busyness and preparation, the music, and decoration. I think every year I go through a little depression when it's all over. I don't like Mondays and I don't like the month of January for the same have to start all over. But I heard something at church the other day that made me think. The 'joy' is not over. The gift is always here...the baby, Jesus Christ, is our gift throughout the year. It doesn't come once in a particular month. It isn't for a season. It's everyday. The joy is a gift everyday.
So, my New Year's resolution isn't to workout more and eat healthier, although I really do need to do these things. My resolution this year is to live with the same joy and excitement that I carry during the Christmas season. To watch the light and excitement in my children's eyes and not be worried about the laundry. To enjoy when my husband is home and let him know he's missed when he's not. To put other's needs above my own. Hopefully this January you and your family will remember also that the gift of Christmas is 12 months a year. Happy 2010!

Happy Birthday Cole

Two years ago, God blessed me with a precious treasure in the birth of Cole. He was born December 8Th, 2007 at 5:24pm. He weighed 6lbs and 13oz and this is how I learned that dynamite comes in small packages. He has forever rocked my world and changed my life. He forces patience out of me, he makes me laugh, he makes me tired...he makes me a better person. I am forever in awe of the fact that God had enough confidence in me to think I was worthy of raising this child. Maybe he was trying to show me that "all things are possible with God!" He has drawn me closer to God...many times out of sheer exhaustion, panic, and desperation. But also because when I look at him, I'm speechless of the beauty of his handiwork and I think to myself how much more he loves me. This seems impossible.
Cole, thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for the joy you bring. Thank you for your snotty kisses and nose-bashing hugs. I read this quote one time and I've used it a lot of times. I don't know the author, but it says "Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born, I loved you. Before you were one minute old, I would give my life for you." This is how my love is for you and always will be.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Makes Me Want to Puke

Cole came home from church Wednesday night not feeling well. His teachers said he threw up a little in class but he also ate about 213 goldfish crackers, so that didn't mean a lot. Sometimes he stuffs his face too fast to chew and gets choked-that's what I thought happened. He woke up around midnight that night vomiting and could not stop. Finally he and I fell asleep on the bathroom floor around 5:30am.
I know when my babies are sick-I can always tell by their eyes. After a little 12 hour virus he seemed to be feeling better. A couple days later his little eyes were still puffy and he was catching up on lost sleep, but he had regained his appetite and his orneriness.
Saturday night we decided to go have dinner, look at Christmas lights, and have a little hot chocolate break. Cole is dancing at Starbucks eating spoonfuls of whipped cream and getting lots of attention. On the way home he got really upset about something. The crying begins.
Cole's will is strong...really strong. I'm trying to figure out how to control this. I've heard that you have to break their will without breaking their spirit. This is a battle for me. I don't even know where to begin sometimes, but I know I have to get this under control or it could cause major problems down the road. So...he wants something he can't have, the crying ensues and he pukes. Not just a little puke...the most vomit I have ever seen come out of a 28 pound body.
Lately, every time Cole cries, he throws up. I don't know if this is a battle of wills with him, if he just get so worked up, or if Jon is paying for his childhood. Briefly...Jon's a puker. He gets weak in the knees about smells. I've watched this man change diapers with a gas mask on. When we first got married, we made a deal-if I cleaned the poop messes then he would clean the puke messes. Well, for 6 1/2 years, he's let me down except for one time I was pregnant and Sampson got sick in the house.
Cole has started and he can't stop. It flies in the front seat and hits me in the hair, Jackson is freaking out and begins his one million questions, Jon looks like he's going to lose it. Luckily, today, I was a well-prepared mom. I had trash bags in my car, and a load of wipes. I did a pretty good job of cleaning up. But, it wasn't enough. We pull in the driveway, it starts again. Jon bolts out of the car and throws up...twice. I get Cole out of the carseat, and he's throwing up all over me as we walk in the door. I finally get him calmed down enough to stick him in the tub and get myself in the shower. I ask Jon if he can please pull the cover off the carseat to wash. He comes in and tells me, he tried his best, but he got frustrated with all the straps, and he pulled out his pocket knife and cut it to get it off. "I will gladly pay $35 for a new carseat," he says. "It was getting all over my fingers." I just looked at him and thought, "Are you kidding me?" This man couldn't do my job for half a day.
There is a reason women outlive men. Simply...we're stronger. We love our babies so much that we let them puke on us because they want to be held and they don't feel good. We suffer through nights with two hours of sleep to be up at 7am and do it all over again. We do the the jobs of 5 people. We...were built for endurance.
Through all of this, I just have to laugh. Or at least force myself to. I know someday I will laugh about these moments. Someday I will probably wish dealing with bodily fluids was as hard as it gets. Someday...I will miss this season of my life. But not today.
Meanwhile-20 minutes after the episode, Cole is running circles in the living room. He grabbed Jack around the waist and wrestled him to the floor, and says "Mean mean." He's back to the normal Colie!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Just a Box!

Why is when kids have all the toys in the world, they'd rather play with a box? Seriously, I've spent thousands of dollars in toys, paints, glitter, books, movies, etc., only for Jackson to say, "I'm bored."
I had a candle party a couple weeks ago and when my delivery came, I emptied the box and left it on the living room floor. The boys discovered it and it quickly became the greatest thing they've ever seen. Jackson got out pencils and markers coloring headlights on it. Cole got into it and would let Jack push him off the couch onto the floor like a slide. They fought over, they watched TV in it. When they would wake up, they would race each other to the living room to see who could get it first! I's just a box! It seemed to open up a whole new world of imagination to them-it was incredible! So, this got me thinking. Christmas is around the corner, so I think I'll just save my money and get them a really BIG box, a wooden spoon, and a bucket of dirt and see where that takes them!

"Bick-bit woof woof"

Cole has a new job he likes to do everyday. It has become his new daily chore...something that is just his alone and it makes him feel like important. Everyday he randomly asks me, "moe-mmy, bick-bit woof woof." This means he wants to give Sampson a dog biscuit. He really has come to enjoy his little job and so has Sampson being that I mostly ignore him 99% of the time...poor Sam. This is really sad even though I'm laughing as I type this, but sadly, he's just about the last thing on my mind. He just lays around and sleeps anyway, so it's easy to pass over him, but when the hears the "bick-bit" container, he comes a runnin!

Gingerbread Train

A little Christmas tradition...

Last year we started a new tradition of building a gingerbread train. Most people do houses and yet here at the Elliott home, anything having to do with trains, is considered a great time for our kids. Both my boys have an obsession with trains. I must say, I love it. I think a train symbolizes true boyish character. I have really enjoyed certain things about Christmas I always thought I'd hate. I love homemade gingerbread houses...or trains. I love the the little hand painted ornaments hanging my tree Jackson made when he was two. I love old-fashioned ribbon candy, and would love to have some sitting out in a candy dish if I could ever find any. I'm beginning to really love tradition. I told Jon that I want to start a collection of water globes...surprising as this is, I just really love the idea of my kids unwrapping all these collectibles that they've remembered through the years. It may take me awhile to accumulate these things, but I'm really enjoying making memories with my kids during this special holiday season. Jackson asked me today..."Mom, do you know the story of Luke, chapter 1?" In all truthfulness, I really didn't. I mean, I knew the story, but I didn't know it was in Luke chapter 1. But, he started to tell me about an angel coming to Mary and telling her not to be afraid, but that she was going to have a baby. Isn't it amazing what children know?....out of the mouths of babes. May you and your family enjoy tradition this year as I am, and may you and your children remember the real reason for the season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boys are Born This Way

So, I've noticed a preoccupation with my son over the last year or so. Actually, it's been longer than a year that I've noticed it, but over the last year, I think it has become really apparent. It's not just Jackson, Cole has begun to show signs of obsession with this particular thing. The preoccupation is...the wiener. I mean, come on! I guess this is just something ingrained in them from the time they were born. Around six months of age, both my boys became nearly impossible to diaper, as they had found the other appendage down there. But last night Jackson did something particularly funny. My best friend bought the boys some bubble guns. They are little toy guns that go into a holster you can fill with bubbles. Pull the trigger and they blow bubbles. Well, Jackson was getting ready for a bath, and he thought it would be funny to hook that bubble holster onto the zipper of his jeans. He comes into the kitchen where I am, and says, "Mom, look. I have the biggest wiener in the world! Isn't that cool?" What is with the male species and taking pride in that particular are of anatomy?
And, it's not just that area. My boys have a great fascination with "boobies". Jackson will sometimes randomly just yell the word out, and he and Cole just giggle. Such a taboo word for a four-year old. So, this got me thinking, "Is this really how God designed my sweet precious babies?"-to be like every other man in the world-ugh! My dad used to say all men are scum, of course, in high school and college, I totally disagreed, but now...well, I see exactly what he meant. Their curiosity for the female body must just come naturally. Of course, this terrifies me. I see this as a huge battle to keep my boys from letting this curiosity turn into lust. I'm not naive, I know this battle is impossible and that to avoid lust would be perfection. While I sometimes think my boys are perfect, I know they aren't. I know this area of sin is a struggle for all men. So, my prayer for them right now is a prayer of a pure heart...pure heart, pure mind, pure body.
Psalm 119:9-12 says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to the word. With my whole heart, I have sought you; Oh, let me not wander from your commandments. Your word, I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord! Teach me your statutes!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Family Photos

We scheduled to have some new pictures taken recently. My father-in-law has been asking for a year to have all his kids together for a new family picture since Cole has been born-I know, I's sad. He's almost two. But, finally we got around to it and they turned out great! Our photographer is a friend from church. She runs her own business on the side of being a mommy. She is so awesome and does a great job. Why is that a fight always starts when you're trying to take pictures? It gets really hard to fake a smile after the 15Th time of yelling at my kids and bribing them with candy and threatening spankings. But luckily, she is a professional and she can catch that one second that everyone is looking at the camera, and Cole is still and smiling. She's a miracle worker! Meanwhile, after the pictures are over, I'm sweating and exhausted! Janelle, I don't know how you do it, girl! Thanks for capturing memories. I'll treasure these pictures of my family forever.

Everyone all together-our family, my brother-in-law, sis-in-law, and nephew. My father-in-law will be so happy.

Me and my sweetie. He gets better looking with age-isn't he cute?!

My kiddos.

The stinker.

The lover.

Precious little boys. I love this.

My nephew Jett-I think this is my favorite picture of him...EVER.

Mitch, Amber, and Jett

I have a great family-I'm truly blessed. I love you guys.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today has been one of those days when I feel like I've lost my joy. I don't know why exactly. Nothing has happened to put me in a bad mood, necessarily. I say "necessarily" because it's a daily battle for me-to keep my joy, whether it's been a rough day or not. This is something I'm trying to teach Jackson right now-that joy is different from happiness. I know the right things to say, yet I struggle myself. It's been the kind of day that I woke up and immediately felt like "Being a mom is the last job I want to do today." Sometimes I don't enjoy my job and I wonder if it would be easier to go to work...if I would feel happier, more fulfilled.
I realize in saying this, I'm bearing my soul. I'm giving you permission to judge me. So, I struggled today with wondering if I should even say how I feel. But, I also feel very strongly that moms need to be able to share their hearts and feel safe. Why is it as mothers we feel the need to look perfect, act perfect, and make everyone think we ARE the perfect mom? That we totally LOVE every aspect of our lives? That it gives us such joy to serve our families everyday? That we actually enjoy playing Candy-Land for the umpteenth time? Well, i personally hate Candy-Land...and Play-Doh...and building train tracks for that matter. I loathe building train tracks. I feel like I've lost my zest and excitement for motherhood. Every day is the same, and although it's a blessing to watch your children grow, learn, be there for them-it's also a 'thankless' job. You don't get a paycheck, or even a gold star.
I seem to get in this rut every three months or so, where I feel discontent. I keep telling myself what every other woman tells me, "This is a season of my life", "Enjoy it, because it goes so fast", "Someday, you will miss this." But when I feel like this, those things don't seem to help. If God knows my heart, surely he knows and understands how difficult this is for me. The "selfless" trait of motherhood does not come easy and it goes against everything that I am.
I've been reading every book I can get my hands on lately-mostly self-help books. I've read books on time management, books on self-talk, books on organization, books on how to love your children according to their 'love language', how to deal with strong-willed children, and how to better love my husband. And then it dawned on me. I haven't been reading God's word.
If God knows my heart, he understands how I'm feeling and I'm not doing this alone- even though I feel like I am. I'm not a person who can just aimlessly open their Bible and find that one verse that speaks to them, so...I googled. I was thinking of that verse that says how we were "knit together in our mother's womb." I found it (Psalm 139), and this is what it says,
v.1 "O Lord, you have searched me, and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And you are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Behold Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before. And laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can i go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?" v.13-"For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." v. 17 "How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You." v.23 "Search me, O God and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."
That was a comfort to me...that he sees me. Even when I don't want to do my job...He sees me. Even when I feel alone...He sees me. Even when I feel like I'm a failure to my children...He sees me. When I've lost all joy...He sees me.

Lord, help me to be content in the season of my life. Help me to live in the moment and not constantly be looking forward to the next stage. Help me to find joy in where you have placed me and what you have given me. And when I can't seem to find that joy, help me to turn to your word...and patiently wait.

My friend Beth sent me this video link to me about a year ago. It ministered to me in so many ways, and days like today, i look it up and watch it-sometimes more than once. Hope you enjoy it as much as i did.


On Halloween we had big plans of taking the boys to make the rounds. But first, that afternoon we took Jack on a special date. While Cole was taking his afternoon nap, we had our babysitter come over so we could take Jackson to see the movie, "Where the Wild Things Are." Bizarre. My advice, if you want to see it that bad-wait til it's at Redbox. It was the biggest waste of $15 and a little scary for a four-year old.
Anyway, that evening we got the boys dressed in their costumes and took a few pictures in the front yard. G.G. made Jack's pirate costume and did a great job. We got compliments on it all night. Colie wore Jack's old lion costume. I found it in the attic after I thought I'd sold it in a consignment sale years ago. It was such a surprise! I think it has been my favorite costume of all the years we've gotten to do Halloween. I was so happy Cole got to wear it as well.

For our family, Halloween is similar to Christmas in the fact that, I feel like we spend the day running from here to there. Everyone wants to see the babies in their costumes. So, it's a little stressful and crazy cramming all the visits into about three hours. We went to visit my grandma-she has a special relationship with my boys and it has been such a blessing to watch that. We also went to Trinity's Trunk or Treat where the boys played games, and got lots of candy. Papa and G.G. and their small group take the kids on "train rides". Really, it's a tractor pulling little cars-but the boys love it. Jackson won a door prize of a Thomas the Train tent-so it was an incredibly successful night in his mind. Finally we visited Birdie and Grumpy. It was a busy night and the boys were exhausted and loaded up on sugar. That's what Halloween is all about, right?!

Pumpkin Carving Party

Our sweet friends Ryan and Lindsay, hosted a pumpkin carving party at their home this October. We had such a blast. All our friends from our small group at Trinity were there. Including some former members we hadn't seen a really long time-Sunny, Creed, Rinny, and Jude-we love you! Lindsay is awaiting the birth of their first child, due in April. She was so gracious to have almost 20 kids at her house with paint and pumpkin guts in hand. I guess it was good preparation for her to see the messes children cause. Here's some pictures from our night of fun.

Here' a picture of all the kids at the party-eating popcorn balls. YUM!

Jackson painting his pumpkin.

Colie painting his pumpkin-he is really dangerous with purple paint. Notice his "Hitler" mustache. He did this himself. Such a ham.

Sweet baby Jack-such a lover!

Jon and Jack carving our family pumpkin.

Our newest members-the Foret's. We love you guys.

Jack and his friend Rinn. They were born three weeks apart and have been friends since. Isn't she the cutest?

All the mommies-good group of solid girlfriends.

The finished product. Great job kiddos!

Ryan and Linds-thanks for having us. We all had such a great time. "Doin' life together!"