A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Denver Trip

Sooooooo, I had super high hopes for June and thought I would get in a posting groove. Ha! Eli had a long trip - and I assumed I would be able to get tons done?! Apparently I was removed from real life.

I didn't get near as much done as I normally do, and we missed him tremendously. Just shows what a great dad and father he is! I'll attempt to catch up this month, although I am already feeling overwhelmed a bit as I look forward to several things on my plate along the way.

The highlight of June was a family trip to Colorado. When Natalie moved away three years ago, we promised we would bring the boys to hike mountains and visit. Fast forward three years and we STILL had not gone! It was waaayyyy overdue. And speaking of being due, my sweet friend is going to be having twin little girls within the next two weeks! I wanted to spend some quality time with her before babies arrived, and give the boys a chance for an extended camping time.

My dad came with us, which was amazing. He and Eli camped with the three big boys, and Abram - my little not-so-good sleeper - and I spent our nights in Natalie's house. A crying baby at night in a tent with six other people? Didn't seem like too good an idea to all of us! So, we spent our days together, hiking, museums, movies, swimming, etc., and I got evenings to sit on the couch and chat for hours with Natalie, which was a balm to this heart. I have missed her sooooo much.

The boys loved camping! It was hot, like 95 degrees during the day! But, they had a great time. And although we were nervous about how everyone would do on the drive, I would say overall it was pretty good. Good enough that we would actually do it again. = )

We tried our best to take some pictures on the "real" camera, so here are a few.

Reuben and Daddy in the tent

Tree Climbing!

Top 'o the mountain!

Mommy and Abram hiking! He LOVED hiking in the front pack!

Opa and the boys at the lookout spot

Me and my stud

Climbing around

Hanging out at the campground

So glad Opa was there!

Buddies - at least most of the time! Matthias always pushes the limits at some point - Ha!

Friday, June 12, 2015


With a second born allergic to dogs and cats ... and Eli being allergic to cats (and seriously disliking them), and honestly allergic to dogs as well, we knew that having a dog or a puppy or something similar is out of the question for us. Which has been kinda sad. We love dogs - especially huskies - and with four little boys, it almost seems wrong to not have them get a puppy and grow up with a dog around.

But not the Brooks. We can't risk it. One weekend with Matthias was a baby we stayed two nights with friends who had three dogs. Not realizing HOW allergic Reuben was. He had allergic reactions all over the place, and we nearly thought we were going to have to leave and get a hotel. Maybe we should have! We were using his inhaler, but the poor kid couldn't sleep at night because he was so congested and all sorts of junk. That's when we realized how bad his allergies were with dog hair.

So we switched our idea of pets to lizards or turtles. Eli was totally down with this, having worked at Pet World in town for years during middle school and high school. I just laid down my foot and said NO SNAKES!!! I can handle lizards and turtles just fine, but there are not going to be any snakes living in my house (at least not with my permission!!!!)

And as of the last several months, we decided that we might want a sulcata tortoise. They originate from the desert areas, and can grow up to 100 pounds and live nearly 100 years. Eli was quite thrilled with the idea it might help keep the grass mowed, and that the boys could learn to maybe ride one when they were little. I figured a vegetarian tortoise can eat leftover compost, grass, weeds, and sounded fairly low-maintenance. The boys? They just thought it sounded AMAZING!!!!

We waited a bit, thinking we would get a baby, which would mean a big set up inside for a few years before the tortoise would be big enough to live outside. On a whim, Eli went to Pet World several weeks ago to ask the owner if he might be able to get us a baby soon. He asked if we wanted a teenager!!!! Long story, but he knew of a teacher with a 16 year old sulcata that needed a new home. He was 55 pounds and getting to big to continue to live at the school, and be hauled to her house during summer break. He gave Eli her contact info, Eli called her, and the rest is history.

Or, the rest was a lot of work! She said Atlas could come live with us - which meant Eli (and my amazing dad) got to work building an 8x12 insulated house under our deck for Atlas. Complete with a good roof to keep out the rain, a door for us to go in, a little door for him to go in and out from, and all sorts of stuff. A Big Project! And actually still has a little to be done, but it's nearly there.

And Atlas moved in.

He is well loved. And all our neighbors are quite enthralled with him as well! As he lumbers around the yard eating clover, we love to watch him and I worry about him like he's a little baby. Is he warm enough? Does he seem happy with us? etc etc etc. Ridiculous, I know!

The boys are doing a great job taking care of him, checking on him morning and night. Cleaning up tortoise poop (which thankfully doesn't smell at all!), and the like. Matthias loves to slip on his boots and tromp after Jonah, who does most of the work. They are doing great with him.

We have had tons of rain the last month, which he doesn't like so well, so he has spent many days mostly in his house, but as the temps rise - and omigosh they are!!!! - we see him out and about more and more. And even a tortoise has a personality. He is determined to try and get into the shed. Even though we have now barricaded it because he figured out how to open the doors, yesterday he got past the barricades and go into there. Little/big Stinker. But we adore him. And since he has such a long life span, we will have him for quite a long time!!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ride 'Em Cowboy

Well, we're not really cowboys over here at the Brooks. We're a tortoise-raisin' family (another post about that later), but we're working on riding bikes!

Jonah really finally mastered riding his bike well last summer when we were living at my parents' house. We were finally on a quiet street, and we didn't have to worry about much about crazy traffic. So, we got him out on the bike a lot, and he was zooming up and down their street fairly quickly.

Reuben is struggling a bit more to master bike riding. He is just a different kid. What makes it hard for him is that he sees Jonah zooming down our street now, and he so wants to be able to do it too! And many five and six year olds already are great on two wheels. But he isn't yet. And he asks for help riding, but often ends up a little frustrated and hops on his scooter. I know he'll get there. He is actually very athletic (I could imagine him a great gymnast because he is smaller and muscular), but it is a matter of balance, and then having the courage to push off and keep trying. He gives up easily because he truly just wants to be where Jonah is at, and he isn't.

There are probably daily opportunities in which we have to sit down with him and remind him that he is two years younger than Jonah. And Jonah has had two years to work on math, or drawing, or building forts, or bike riding ...  further along than Reuben. And it is okay to not be as good at Jonah as things. And that he has different talents, different areas in which he excels.

Life of a sibling, right?

And Matthias is unafraid - sitting on his trike, standing on his scooter, trying to catch up. Riding down the sidewalk, yelling "Bye Mommy!" Imagining himself on great adventures as he heads down a full three houses down before heading right back to announce "I'M BACK!!!!" = )

I think my three boys would nearly live outside if that were possible. Right now we have lots of rain, which make outside time a little more challenging because our back yard has standing water. But, we tromp out in muddy boots, or head to the sidewalks for bike time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Nights

Each Wednesday is a late work day for Eli. He is running youth group, and so a "normal" Wednesday workday is 10-10. But often he gets home later than that, meeting with high school or college students after youth group is well over. Tonight I don't expect him home til after 10. It is a normal routine for us, and the boys adjusted long ago.

But when Abram was born, Wednesday nights became much more of a challenge. I don't nurse my babies to sleep during the day, but I do before bed. And my commitment is to be at youth group with Eli on Wednesdays if at all possible. I want to connect with the teen girls, see how things are going, help if I can, and participate! We are partners in ministry. I used to stay until it was over around 8:30 or so, but I also knew I would have to adjust once Abram arrived: I had to for quite awhile when Matthias was born.

So, we leave sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 to head home, and nursing him, getting all the other boys in jammies and teeth brushed, have a cup of milk, etc etc etc, isn't super easy on my own. We aren't a late to bed kind of family.
If I know Eli isn't going to be home at bedtime for a trip or something, I start waaaaaayyyyy earlier in the evening starting to get things and little people prepped! = ) But that isn't possible on a Wednesday.

So, my dad has just been coming over for the last five months on Wednesday nights. He is amazing. Completely volunteered himself to be assistant get-everyone-ready-for-bed. He reads the boys a book, sings them songs, prays for them. He's even had to help with baths because they found a sand pit one week (side note: SAND IS SUPER ANNOYING!!! IT GETS EVERYWHERE!). No complaints.

To my boys it is already normal. This is how Wednesdays just are.

But I listen. I hear him sing some of the same songs he sang to me when I was little. I hear him pray over them. I listen from my glider as he reads books, does silly voices, and the laughter floats down the hallway. I hear the boys convince him to quickly play a game of Go Fish before he puts them in bed. I sit and rock ... and feel overwhelmingly blessed.

Yes, I could do it. But he doesn't want me to have to. He loves me, he loves the bushel, he loves Eli. And he demonstrates his love in this way. In a practical way that blesses me far beyond he really knows. I always say thank you, give him a hug, tell him I love him as he leaves. But, I wish he could understand HOW MUCH it means to me every week. I tell him! But, I don't know that he can even see. I don't take him coming over for granted. It's like a breath of fresh air to end the day. And it is creating memories that I know sink into my heart, and I pray stay with the boys as they grow. Hearing Opa's voice read certain books, sing those favorite songs, and reassure them how much they are loved. By him. By us. By our Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Little Toes

A few weeks ago at work, the group of ladies that I was training asked about Abram and how he was doing. My answer was that he was good, and getting into that "toe grabbing" stage. Isn't that just like a classic baby milestone? Grabbing their own little toes and bringing them into their mouths?

One that I love.

Although as of late, this little Abram boy has been seriously high maintenance for me, I still love his baby smiles and giggles! Each little Brooks boy has brought their own measure of joy into our home, and of course he is no different. He just still thinks that waking up three times a night and wanting Mommy snuggles is okay = ( I'm heading into some serious chronic fatigue most days, so we're working on figuring out how to get him past this and into better sleeping patterns.

He doesn't really like to roll over, although he can, and I borrowed an exersaucer - thinking he would love it - and he doesn't like it all! Hopefully it will grow on him. He mostly wants me to carry him around in all that I do. Which most of the time I don't mind having him close, but most household chores just aren't easy with only one arm free!

At the same time, I try and remember it is only a stage. A stage that I will mourn once it is gone and wish back for this little boy grabbing his toes, screeching happily at me, giggling when we blow raspberries on him. I won't miss the sleep deprivation, but I will miss this little chubby baby!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Matthias Turns 3

Although Abram has been here over 5 months ... in some ways it is still hard to let Matthias grow up. that little boy still has chubby cheeks and gives me neck squeezes and I just love it! But, last week he turned 3. Hard to believe for this momma.

a little blurry - but a true Matthias cheesy smile!
We were going to be in Branson on his actual birthday, the 18th (hopefully another post on that soon!), so we celebrated with a small family celebration at home earlier last week. The real reason being that the three gifts we got him were all for outdoors! We felt like taking those along on our little vacation wouldn't work out too well, so we wanted him to get the chance to enjoy them a bit here at home.

Matthias had watched his two older brothers celebrate last month. He had been waiting and waiting for his birthday. But, then? He surprised us. This boy that seems to know no stranger and has boundless personality and energy almost acted shy as we sang to him and had him open his presents. Even thought it was just Eli, myself, and the other boys! Made us laugh. But, I could tell that he felt special ... and although I don't want my boys to think the world revolves around them, I also want them to know that in the midst of being one of four brothers, each one of them matters individually as well.

We opened his presents: a little four wheeler (which we bought second hand from friend - SCORE!), a sprinkler for the backyard, and a water gun all his own. This little outdoorsman was quite thrilled with all those things, and has been begging since then to use the sprinkler. The week before his birthday we had lots of hot days ... but since then??? Not hot enough to break in it. We're hoping a hot day comes soon! (although I know once summer really gets into swing I will wish I hadn't said those words!)

I love this little guy. Matthias truly is a life-filled little boy who embraces all things with gusto. And although that means challenges to help him learn boundaries, I love to see his silly faces, his eyes light up with excitement (or mischievousness!), and hear his questions as his figures things out in his world. Eli and I are so so blessed with our four boys and their sweet and courageous hearts.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sobering Realities

There are many days that go by in wave of normal. Normal consists of school, gym, crying fits, feeding people, cleaning house, settling fights, playing outside, checking email, washing laundry, prepping homeschool lessons, etc etc etc. And normal feels like it has always been and will always be. Just a day in our life.

But in February, my morning news would bring me sobering realities. Stories of ISIS and a harshness to which my very soul was troubled. To read of such hatred. To see the faces of those whose lives were taken in cruel manners. And I had days in which my normal felt petty. My worries were certainly ridiculous compared to those who are looking into the very face of death.

I look around my house at times, and am struck with the thoughts of how easy it is to feel comfortable. To think that "nothing will ever change". That my wonderful life is impenetrable.

And I wrestle through those days. Wrestle through knowing that there are those currently, literally, dying because they believe what I believe. Believe that Jesus is Who He Said He Is.

Easter is Sunday.

He was crucified. Tortured in an inhumane way.

And I complain when my house feels stuffy.

I can't really even explain how this strikes me. But I can plainly see that I must be able to look at reality straight in the face. I would like to shirk back and pretend those things going on don't affect me, won't affect, won't ever happen to me or those I know. Live my day to day life as "normal".

But I believe in the power of the Cross. And therefore, even as I wipe snotty noses and send sweaty boys to take showers, as I wash dishes and fold laundry ... I must be prepared to lay down my life. In what way? I don't know. But I can lay it down daily now. Lay down my selfishness. Lay down my pride. Lay down my own desires and serve others. Lay down my weaknesses.

There could be a time in which I will be called to lay it down in a different manner. I can't predict what God has for my family. But, my daily practice in the normal will be setting myself up to be able to stand firm should those harsh realities inch ever closer.

And I look ahead to a week of celebrating the Risen King, may I remember to pray for those who truly are suffering for Him. May I share with my bushel the Power of the Name of Jesus. May I fix my eyes upon the Cross, upon Him who is able to do immeasurably more than I can imagine.