Monday, October 23, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017."


Cruz: A quick walk in the woods did us well last week.  And you were a big help at Mila's open house that followed, helping to finish the crafts in each room and taking a liking to Mrs. Peters' husband and that sweet new baby of theirs.  There you were over in the corner of the room, chatting up a storm with this man you had never met.  You liked him so much that you asked Jackie if you could steal an extra cookie to bring him.  The whole thing was so sweet and I'm still trying to figure out what it was that made you feel a connection with him!

Mila: Speaking of daycare open house, we sure had a good time showing us your school.  You gave your preschool teacher, who is at home on maternity leave right now, the biggest hug and it is easy to see she is wonderful.  We also met Winnie, a graduate student here from Kenya who wanted to work with little kids like you to show you a bigger picture of our world and all the good people in it.  She told me you are a very smart girl and even asked me about my recent trip to Texas.  She said you told her your mommy was in Texas learning about Jesus so she could teach other people about Jesus.  A good reminder that you are always listening and quite capable of your own discipling.    

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Fall Weekend at Home

This weather this week has been a dream.  I was starting to wonder if we were going to see fall this year at all when Cruz's birthday weekend came around and it seemed the leaves were still green and the temperatures bounced between the eighties and forties.  I blame it on the pumpkin spice latte!  We get so impatient for the next big thing and start to wear our sweaters and buy our pumpkins in August now instead of October.  And then we wonder why the temperatures haven't changed along with our agendas.  Maybe if I started to call September what it is, a late summer month of transitions, busy work schedules, and the start of kids' homework and activities, I would do a better job of living in that season for what it is rather than feeling like I'm missing out on a Pinterest fall.  Life has been hectic, but good, and although I haven't gotten out those boots yet or made butternut squash soup or purchased my first red Starbucks cup of the season (already?), God is showing me a different kind of fall, one where I abide, listen, and feel him changing me like the leaves that are just now showing their color.

As much as I have loved the sunshine and seventies this week, there is something I love even more about the cold, dreary, and wonderful weekends we've been having.  We had nowhere to be except a soccer game last Saturday, so we turned on the fire, lit some candles, and made some pancakes while it rained off and on all day long.  I tended to laundry and kids bickering, helped find lost Lego pieces, and checked on Beau in the basement often as he continues to make progress on our space.  My cozy morning was interrupted with a soccer game in the rain, but even that was fun as Mila stayed home in her pjs with Beau and I put on my poncho and wellies and joined our fun team on a soaked field to laugh and make the best of it.  Then Cruz and I stopped at Target for all the ingredients for a cozy night tucked away at home.  We made homemade pizzas, wore our pajamas and Cubs hats, and snuggled on the couch to watch the Cubs in another NLCS post-season match up.  We made an easy s'mores dessert with Halloween peeps Cruz found at Target, and corralled the kids to fall asleep on the couch because we didn't want to miss the game.

Sunday brought another cold and breezy day, and we stayed at the home front once again.  I had soup on the brain and made up a deliciously rich baked potato soup that simmered on the stove top all afternoon.  The kids played outside, we did some crafting, and my favorite part of the afternoon involved a big sweater blanket, a mug of cider, and a book in my favorite place on our front porch.  Cruz joined me for a game of Battleship, and then we all dunked big pieces of asiago bread in soup bowls and awaited another Cubs start (and loss). 

I'm still hoping for a few more "fall" adventures before we are forced inside for the long winter, but mostly hoping to live deeply in the here and now God calls me to.  Pumpkin spice latte or not. :)


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017."

Cruz: We are three weeks in to this new adventure of learning piano and it has been so fun to watch you interact with your teacher and learn how to play the keys.  I love to watch you concentrate, tongue out and head nodding to the keys as you learn to play from your music book.

Mila: An American Girl Doll magazine came in the mail this week and I set you up with a pen at the island while I made supper.  I'm not quite sure I made my directions clear enough because dang near every doll and accessory was circled.  "And this one is Nella, and this one is Kella, and this one is Lella..." is what you say as you name them all.   


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2017."

Cruz: You are seven now, learning subtraction, and suddenly intrigued by scary movies.  You've asked me every day for a week if you can watch The Nightmare Before Christmas.  You also saw a preview for a horror film (wish we could have avoided that) out in theaters and that scared you quite a bit.  When you told us that you think about that commercial and it makes you scared, I told you that every time it comes into your mind, just think of Daddy walking into your classroom in his underwear.  Hopefully that will do the trick. ;)

Mila: I love that I still catch you doing things sometimes and can only stop and watch you, marveling at your cuteness.  This weekend, it was watching you slurp soup off a spoon.  This transition between still being little but oh so independent can be frustrating, but most days we just can't get enough of your spirit and sass.    

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Nerf Gun Birthday Party

I told myself I was done with the theme birthday parties at age 6, as kids tend to have a greater say in what they want by that time, and their desires typically don't involve homemade banners strung on fireplace mantles and table tents that label creative food choices.  Because let's be honest, these theme parties are about feeding my creative outlet more than anything. :)  So when I asked Cruz what he wanted his birthday party to involve this year, his answer was simple: a nerf war.  Still caught up in our neighborhood nerf war a couple of weeks prior, Cruz wanted another opportunity for kids vs. adults, this time with his cousins and a bigger supply of nerf guns he and Beau had accumulated (as boys do) since the neighborhood party.  And while it was hard for me to avoid Pinterest for ideas and my typical to-do list planning that goes into our birthday parties in the past, I remained strong!

Unfortunately, the rainy Saturday disrupted our plans for a big game of capture the flag, but we still had a wonderful day celebrating the birthday boy.  Thankful for a basement space newly cleaned and just waiting for carpet, we had the perfect space to get creative with our nerf guns.  We played a couple of target games, including taking turns hitting labeled balloons to see who could score the highest number.  Soon enough, thanks to a number of adult men who turn into small boys around nerf guns, a nerf war did commence, and it didn't even take me planning for one. :) The kids dodged darts and parents wore painters tape under their eyes and Taylor took my mom hostage at one point and everyone was hiding behind couches and exercise balls and I looked over at Cruz at one point and he had a grin bigger than California across his face.  We may be finding darts until next December, but my kid was happy and so were the parents!

We had party subs and Mom's delicious potato salad, too many cheese balls because they look like nerf balls, and cake and ice cream.  The kids ran in circles and got out every toy in the house, I found Harper brushing her teeth with Mila's toothbrush more than one time, and everyone stuck around for seconds and a place in front of the TV to watch the Cubbies play.  It was a cozy night with a house filled with all our favorite people, celebrating one special boy turning seven.

And Sunday night, Cruz got his Capture the Flag.  Sunday was beautiful outside and the Gabels came over for burgers and leftover birthday cake.  Every neighbor boy just happened to be out as well, so we called together the nerf war Cruz has originally requested.  It was the perfect way to end our weekend, and a fitting way to usher in birthday week for the Cruz. 



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