A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Birthday Wish

Birthdays are different as you grow older, of course. It's fun when it comes around, but it isn't the same as when you are waiting w.a.i.t.i.n.g. to get one year older. I joked with the boys that I was so happy to be 29! And Reuben looked me so upset, "But Mommy! You aren't 29!!!!! You are 32!" To him, it is so wonderful to turn a year older!

But, this year, my birthday day is a little different ... I didn't have huge plans, but figured we would get out and about and maybe the boys and I would get a donut together after my hour of work this morning. Enjoy the day was my goal. Still my goal, but the circumstances changed when the seven year old started throwing up around midnight last night. And about seven times again throughout the night. Poor Jonah. I had been so happy that although we have definitely had our share of some sickness, we hadn't had any stomach bugs. I was hoping to go to my parents' house to watch the KU game tonight, but now we will stay confined here to not spread germs.

Until now.

Praying that it doesn't get shared with anyone else, especially a little baby who has already been on antibiotics twice for ear infections! Abram has had a rough first eight weeks of life! An issue with his circumcision started it off, and then two nasty colds with ear infections. Sometimes I have wondered if he will ever be a happy baby! And then we get glimpses on periods of time when he has been better, and I remind myself "this too shall pass" and soon he'll be a giggling, happy baby once we get over all the junk around here.

But, Eli always still manages to make my day special. He somehow snuck balloons into the boys' closet that they presented me with this morning. Everyone made me cards yesterday, and Matthias couldn't keep it a secret, and ran downstairs: "Mommy! I made you a card, and I put stickers on it, and I love you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR MOMMY!!!!" The big boys were appalled, but I reassured them I could wait and see their "surprises" tomorrow = ) The dining room table was decorated this morning when I walked out of the bedroom, and even when short nights of sleep catch you by surprise, those little things make a girl feel special.

And so? We've played card games, watched a bit of extra TV, and I decided to not mess with school today. One boy sick, the other boy helping to be my runner to get things when I have been nursing - and if I get some laundry done, we will call it a win! My birthday wish is just that ALL my boys get completely healthy - and fast!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Both of our families have been growing quite a bit in the last few years. Obviously due to the fact that our siblings (and us!) have been having kiddos. 'Tis the season! It makes family events on both sides fun and CRAZY with so many little ones around. But, I wouldn't have it any other way. Even if it does mean I never get to play the card/board games most of the time!

Even in the midst of the challenges it brings, the little kids are a blessing, and they are the future of our families. Legacy is so important to Eli and I, and I value that I can look back and see that both of our families have incredible spiritual legacies. Our boys really don't know what amazing heritage they have. Hopefully someday they will look back and see how the Lord planted them in this family, and what a joy to look back at the line of tall-standing servant leaders they come from.

As I was downloading pictures off the camera, I saw this old Willems family Christmas pictures from just four years ago ...

Compare that to the picture we took this year!

Growing, growing, growing. And I am sure there is more to come!

Monday, December 29, 2014


Although Thanksgiving was several weeks ago, it was still worthy of memory posting ... we were so blessed this year to have Eli's grandparents visiting from California for an entire two weeks, including Thanksgiving week. This fall brought health issues to grandparents on both sides of our families, so to have his grandpa and his step-grandma here was really wonderful. We weren't sure in October if his health would allow it, so we were excited he is still doing well!

My parents were in Arkansas with my grandmother, so my siblings and I were at other sides of our families. I love love love Thanksgiving at the Brooks house. Not that I don't love it with my family! But, Robin is such an amazing hostess. Planning meals and inviting people over is something she loves to do, so you can imagine that we have a H.U.G.E. spread of food at Thanksgiving, and just a great time with everyone there!

We always have the Shin family with us - Yusun and her two sons, Eric and Peter from Korea. They have been in the States for 6 years, and although they will eventually go back home once Yusun's studies are finished, they are very much adopted into the Brooks family, and those two teenage boys love meals at Robin's house!

Me and some of the girls!
Eli and Grandpa George
Even though Abram was only two week old, it was wonderful to be with everyone, and although we had many more than 20 in that house, it did not feel overwhelming. The kids played together, there were boards games out by the end of the evening, and happy people that didn't really want to leave. Pretty good holiday if you ask me.

Eli's dad and I - turkey carving time!
You never really know how many more holidays or times we will get with our grandparents that are left - the boys' great-grandparents, so we truly treasured that time with Grandpa George and Grandma Kathy in November, and spent many many days either at Robin's house, or having them over here. They are so good to sit and read and play games with all the boys, and are very much adored by Jonah, Reuben, and Matthias. And they loved getting to hold little Abram!

Joy, Peter, and Seth
Kathy and Grandpa
Four generations together!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27th???

Goodness ... December 27th??

We just finished celebrating Christmas with my family - this morning! We've had a total of four Christmas-es already, with one more that won't happen until next Friday evening = ) This month has been busy and wonderful and overwhelming and humbling. I have seen that I can't get it all done (DUH!), but that God's grace has covered me each day.

We have made Christmas cookies, delivered them, had our kids' dance at church, a Christmas Eve service, MULTIPLE doctor appts, warmer days than usual, gotten back to the gym, shopped for last minute Christmas presents, and so many other things!

Eli is home for a few more days before the church office re-opens, so I hope to catch up on what life is like in the Brooks household ... or what it has been like!

A couple days late, but Merry Christmas!!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birth Au Natural

Going into Abram's birth, I had hoped to go naturally, with no induction, no meds. With both Jonah and Matthias, I was induced. And although they broke my water with Matthias in hopes to get labor started, it didn't progress and I ended up with Pitocin and therefore an epidural. Don't get me wrong, epidurals definitely have their perks: I spent the last couple hours of all three previous births with no major pain. BUT, they make me sick. Sick like throwing up before the birth, and then throwing up after the birth. It is a little bit frustrating to want to hold and snuggle your freshly born baby, and having to hand him off over and over again so you can throw up in a bag.

So, I felt like I had spent the last nine months battling nausea, and wanted to try and see if I could avoid it during the actual birth. I read up on relaxation techniques, talked to friends who had their babies with no medication, and often felt like "Yes! I can do this!", and also often felt like "WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I THINKING???"

Yes, one tells herself that millions of women have done this before, and surely, surely I could as well! But, knowing that you're also going to enter what people call the worst pain ever is a bit intimidating.

At 40 weeks and 6 days, I was ready for Abram to come (not that we knew for sure it was a boy at that point!). We were sure a week and a half earlier that labor was gearing up, and then it stopped and never quite returned. I was dilated to three centimeters, and t.i.r.e.d. of being pregnant. Our Dr. agreed to break my water that morning of the 14th, and we were hoping that labor would progress on its own.

We went into the hospital at 7:45am, got settled into our room, and sat down so I could get a dose of antibiotics. Nothing major for the next couple hours. Dr. came in at 9:45 and broke my water and we got ready to do all we could do to get my body to agree to the process!

Eli and I walked the halls for probably two hours, with periods of stopping so they could check heart rates and everything. Contractions started to intensify some and come at regular periods. Eli was an awesome coach, just being there with me. Close to 1pm, the nurse checked and I was just at a 4. At that moment, I was a bit disheartened. I was sure she was going to say I was a bit further along! But, she was such a fabulous nurse, and quickly knew what to do. She had me switch positions for about 20 minutes, which made things pick up, and then got me into the tub, which REALLY made things start to pick up more!

In the tub I started to lose a little of my resolve: I was telling Eli if things were going to feel "like this" for a few more hours, I didn't think I could do it. I might even have said "I'll need an epidural!" Thank goodness for this man who encouraged me to just stick it out a little bit longer.

When I got out of the tub, I was really feeling it and wasn't getting long breaks between contractions. The nurse checked again, probably close to 2:30, and I was 6-7. Things were intense, and I started to panic. I think if I had really realized at this moment that I was in transition labor, I might have not been so worried. But, somehow in my mind, I still had at least two hours left of what felt like intolerable pain. Little did I know I had a much shorter time! I'm a little ashamed to say that during contractions I was begging Eli for some kind of pain meds, and then in the short breaks in between them, I would apologize for "losing my mind".

The nurse knew, though, that we were nearly there. She said "no pain meds!" and called the doctor, because when she checked things maybe 10 minutes later, I was a 9+. My mom and Eli's mom were both in the waiting room at that point. Eli, trying to fan me because I was super hot, was trying to text them to get in the room, and they said the saw the Dr. flying down the hallway and they knew it was time!

Just a few minutes later I was ready to push, and pushed for 2-3 contractions and Abram was there! 3:02pm in the afternoon. Two hours of crazy intensity, and suddenly it was over! I looked down and laughed: "It's a boy! Of course it is."

Moments after birth
Sooooo ready to snuggle my newborn - with NO NAUSEA. Definitely a little shaky from it all, but I felt great, and within two hours got to eat dinner! He was perfect in every way. We didn't get quite as many pictures during birth and right after as the last three, mostly because we were definitely in the moment and Eli was working to coach me through it all.

I won't lie, it was hard and it was painful, but to me, it was worth it. I have joked that I probably gave Eli PTSD from it all, but he has said it was worth it as well. I think back and I do think if I had known at that crazy transitional moment that I really only had 20-30 minutes left before the baby would be born, I might not have lost my mind quite so much. = ) But, I am grateful. Truly, it was only about 5 hours of labor that day, which was much shorter than I could have hoped for! And I know that a safe delivery and a healthy baby are a miracle ... and that is what our little Abram Nicholas is - a miracle sweetness to our life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Abram Nicholas Brooks


Friday, November 14, 2014, at 3:02 p.m., we welcomed Abram Nicholas Brooks to the family! He was 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 20 1/2 inches long. Definitely our biggest baby! I will write another time about the story of the birth, but needless to say, we are enjoying getting to know this little guy.

The big brothers pretty much adore him, and although there are definitely still moments of adjustment as Mommy's and Daddy's arms have to take extra time to bounce a baby, everyone is thrilled with his arrival (and the boys were thrilled he was another boy!).

My days have flown by faster than I can catch up with, and my to-do list (or rather, catch-up list) is long, but sometimes things just aren't going to get done each day! Which is why I'm getting to this post finally, when Abram is already nine days old = ) But, as we approach Thanksgiving in three short days, mine and Eli's hearts are most definitely full of thankfulness and awe as we gaze at another miracle: a healthy baby and three other healthy boys that create chaos and fun in our home. Our bushel and our hearts are full!

Friday, November 7, 2014


Soccer season is well over and we have moved into basketball season (for Jonah). This was the boys' first year playing soccer and they both really loved it so much. Jonah definitely connected with his teammates and got in there and we saw some great improvement. Eli played soccer for many years, and so he did really great with playing with the boys in the backyard during the week, and keeping them excited about playing! Reuben did better than we thought (I was worried he would be the kid standing on the field, completely spacing out) and was very much focused on his game and pretty intense-faced during games. He did great, and had fun with the boys on his team.

Even though they are young, I can see how we're going to be getting into those years soon in which we have to decide how to be involved in sports and activities. Do we really focus and push into one or two? Or just let them try what they want, and maybe enjoy a lot, but never really achieve a high level in one thing? I see families in which soccer soccer soccer consumes their weekends. And I'm not really sure I want to be there. But, I also never want to hold the boys back if they really find something they excel at. And so, it is a guessing game as we enter a bit more social and activity time as Jonah and Reuben get bigger.

Either way, I know it will take prayer and all of us being willing to work together and be flexible as we figure it out. I think back on all the gymnastics and dance classes my mom took me to (and with four other kids to homeschool and take care of) and I am really grateful my parents made those sacrifices - financially and timewise - because I have great memories of those times. And I want to give the boys opportunities to participate in activities, without letting the activities and sports control us.

Jonah was ready to jump right into basketball season, and is loving getting to know new teammates and go to practices. But Reuben didn't even ask to play = ) The difference between my boys. I overheard Jonah asking him a week or so ago if he was going to play basketball sometime, or if he wanted to. Reuben shrugged his shoulders and said "maybe someday when I'm in second grade". Not nearly as social as his brother, he is happy to attend Jonah's games and not worry about it. He rather prefers it.

Getting ready for the kick in

Just love this picture = )