A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Matthias is in full-out THREE YEAR OLD stage.

I am not sure who said that the two's were or are terrible. And I'm not even saying three's are terrible, but I find them much more challenging than two's!

Matthias is extremely verbal. He always has been. This is great in so many ways, because he can communicate what he wants, what his needs are, what is hurting when he has an injury or feels sick. But, it also means that little boy can talk back like nobody's business. = ) Sooooo, we're working a lot on saying "Yes, Mom" instead of "no" or just spouting off whatever he feels like. Using kind works with his big brothers and not angry ones when he feels left out.

But this verbal ability keeps us rolling with laughter! This kid just makes us laugh. Because he says this silliest things every day! And he is processing new information all the time. Trying to figure out time: past and present. Many days he looks at me, "You're my Mom." and I respond, "Yes, I am!" And he responds back in a very satisfied tone of voice: "And I'm your son." And how can you not give that boy a squeeze after that and reassure him how glad you are that he is your son??? Cannot resist.

Matthias loves to play play play. Normally, he is always attempting to keep up with his big brothers and do what they do. But, in the last few months, it has been great to see him make good friends with a couple of other three year olds at the gym and really play more age appropriate games with them. House. Pet Store. Babies, Dinosaurs ... etc. He loves it!

He just started preschool yesterday. Just like the other two boys went to preschool at 3 years, so is Matthias. I think it is such a great time to play with other kids, learn to listen to teachers and follow instructions. Enjoy making messy crafts and singing songs. Preschool is full of those things, and I don't always get those kinds of things done in my house! He is pretty much fearless - in many areas, and there was no looking back at Mom when he ran into class yesterday! "Bye Mom!" as he settled right in at the playdough table. Although, after we picked him up and the boys were asking if he did his school, he quickly responded "They didn't even have any math books there. I will have to do my real work at home like you."

Matthias doesn't know strangers, and is happy to talk to most people. And he will ask you if you have any gum or lip gloss to share = ) He plays hard all day long, and usually falls asleep within minutes of laying his head on his pillow at night.

It thrills both Eli and I as we already see him desiring to know more about Jesus. The other day he was asking me when Jesus died on the cross. And then "where did he die on the cross???" And I was telling it him it was a long time ago, and he just sighs this huge sigh ... "BUT I WANT TO SEE HIM DIE ON THE CROSS FOR ME!!!!" He loves to sing songs from VBS and play praise music on his guitar for us. He is already a force to be reckoned with, and we pray all that energy get used for the Kingdom as he grows into a mighty man.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Reuben is such a great kid.

Maybe we would all say that about all our kids - and of course I think that about all my boys. But, each day, Reuben just does something that makes me laugh or smile or want to just pull him in my arms and squeeze him to death.

Reuben can be super intense. Watch out! If he is wanting to tell you a story, or recount something that happened, or explain something about Minecraft (sooooo not my favorite topic right now!), his blue eyes get really wide, and his voice gets and loud and you HAD BETTER PAY ATTENTION. Or he will keep getting louder. When he is allowed to play video games, the entire little six year old body in engaged. Mind you, all you need to do is push buttons, but his legs are kicking, his mouth is open, and he is moving all over the place. He reminds me so much of my younger brother Isaac. Watching them play video games together last week was sooooo much fun! He loves to do dance moves, and again, super intense and focused on his moves. And we just started soccer this week, and I have heard him say several times to me "My big game is in ___ days!!!!!" Focused. Intense. Ready.

And then there is the Reuben that moves s.l.o.w.  Like molasses. Like could you walk any slower down the hallway??? He can work hard, but then he gives out. He has a smaller gas tank that Jonah, who requires probably two hours less sleep than Reuben for a good day. Reuben needs to go to bed early and sleep late to really have a good day. He is just that way! And how I mentioned in the last post that Jonah is ready for the next thing??? Reuben is always the one we're turning back around to and reminding to catch up (this brings back lots of memories of zoo trips and Silver Dollar City).

Of course Reuben wants to do everything that Jonah does. And many challenges in his little world are continuing to see that Jonah truly is two years older than him, and therefore things just sometimes are not fair. He can't run as fast, he doesn't always catch on to games as fast. This is hard for him, because he wants to be with Jonah always. And for the most part, Jonah is happy to have Reuben as his partner, but there are times it doesn't work out that, and Reuben takes it pretty hard.

What is Reuben into? Reuben loves music. Dancing to music, singing songs, learning piano. He is very excited about this soccer season. He often wants to play card games. He still likes to pull out stuffed animals and play with Matthias every now and then, but also loves to play with our neighborhood friends. And a lot of the time, he likes whatever Jonah likes. He has been saving saving saving up his money that they earn from making dog treats for their grandma to sell at the farmer's market, and is hoping Eli and I will give him permission to spend it all on a huge Lego castle set. We're still deciding on that one = )

Reuben loves Jesus. He loves to sing worship songs at church. He struggles with being afraid of being alone. He reminds me of myself when I was young. I have strong memories of going to get my dad in the middle of the night because of nightmares or feeling afraid. Reuben is like that. So, we're working through some struggles of trusting that our lives are in God's hands with him.

This boy is sooooo special. He has a generous heart. Some nights when I say goodnight to him, he will say "Mom? I think we forgot to snuggle today. Tomorrow can we make sure and have some snuggle time on the couch?" He needs those physical hugs. I pray that we instill courage into this mighty little man!

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I figured I would write about my firstborn first, as I think about where all the boys are currently at.


8 years old. Preparing to start third grade within this next week. Growing up. Wearing size 4 shoes (yikes!). But still little boy enough to come and ask for some snuggles on the couch.

Jonah has a tender heart. Especially for the little ones. He adores Abram to pieces. He cares deeply for his little cousins. Love animals. Likes hugs.

But he is also growing up. And while Abram receives lots of smiles and tickles, Jonah struggles with Matthias. Matthias who wants to be "in" all of his business. Wants to mess with all of Jonah's things. And as any older sibling out there knows, it is a challenge! A legitimate challenge. And so there are lots of learning opportunities in Jonah's world right now about handling conflict appropriately.

Jonah is ready to be big at times. He wants to join Eli at youth group activities. Wishes he could carry a phone around at all times like the teenagers and his parents (not yet!). Likes to point out that it will only be three more years until he can come to youth group himself. He wants to go fishing and hunting with Eli.

And then there is still my boy that comes up and asks if he can help me mix brownies. Or when he gets hurt, there is still a little boy in there that would love the comfort of mom or dad's arms. And rightly so.

He is wondering about his world. He asks about right and wrong - and like any firstborn there is a lot of black and white! He asks questions about things he learns about church, and hears from friends. But I still see his childlike faith as he tells me the Trinity makes complete sense to him = )

When I think of Jonah and the things that he is "into" right now: He is a reader. We find him with his nose in books all the time. And getting him to put down a book can be tough! He is taking piano now, and likes to master songs. The game minecraft is waaaayyyy important to him right now. So much that Eli and I feel like plugging our ears sometimes when he and Reuben get to talking about it!

Jonah is still a super picky eater. We offer new foods, attempt to get him to try new foods, but this isn't an area we have seen lots of progress. So, we just pray a lot that at some point it will change! And we consider it a miracle he is so strong and healthy, because his diet is so limited.

He is already ready for the next thing. When we go places, Jonah is always steps ahead of everyone else, moving on! He wants to check the mail everyday, just in hopes something new or exciting is there for us. He can't wait to experience things, so much so that we often have to remind him to slow down a bit.

He is a blessing. He couldn't be anything else! I pray a lot that as Eli and I experience parenting with him first, God's grace will be on him. Being the first child, we of course make choices with him that we might not make later on because we ourselves are learning from our own mistakes. But each child is unique. We pray as we raise him, that we parent him and teach him in a manner that means something to him. That resonates with his personality and giftings. I can't wait to see what this school year brings for him! I love this boy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Abram will be 9 months in just two short days! Yikes! My little guy is growing fast. My goal (fingers crossed!) is to do a little post about each boy this month. So that I can remember where they are at right now. What they are learning, what do they struggle with? What are my favorite things going on with each of them during these particular ages!

But, we did have a little milestone with Abram last night. Ever since he has been born, this little boy has disliked water. Baths have always gone hand in hand with tears. I kept thinking that surely he would get past it! But, no matter the toy, the water cloth to suck on, the position we tried, that little baby would cry.

The pool was not any better. We tried, but even just getting his toes in the water made his little face scrunch up ... and then he wailed! So, the couple times we have headed to the pool, Abram has gone to Grandma's instead. It just doesn't work! Hot hot weather means a little baby needs to cool off. But if cooling off meant getting in the water, then why? I couldn't deal with keeping an eye on three other boys plus holding a baby that freaked out every time a drip of water hit him = )

I basically had given up. Baths were as fast as possible, and I didn't foresee a change.

But then last night! I was running water because he needed a bath. He has had a cold and that little face had snot all over it. His knees were dirty from crawling all over the house the past few days. It was just time!

Matthias ran in and asked if he could get in too. Why not? So, I let the water get a little deeper. Matthias climbed in. I set Abram in next to him, aaaannnnddd ...

He loved it!

He started splashing around and giggling and smiling! Oh, I was so happy. You have no idea how often I have put off baths with him because it felt so traumatic!

And Matthias just L.O.V.E.D. being the "big brother" in the bath this time around. Getting to show off toys. Helping wash soap bubbles on his little brother. He is so used to things the other way around in his world. I kept Abram in there as long as possible, because Eli was running an errand and I wanted him to see the boys in there too.

And of course? Had to take some pictures. Some of my favorite pictures from over the years are of little boys sitting in the bathtub, peeking little faces over the sides. Laughing. Splashing. Big 'ole grins on their faces. And finally, finally, Abram can join the ranks.

Are baths a mess? Yes. Water gets all over the bathroom. Heck, it gets all over me! But, seeing those happy faces is worth it. So worth it.

Friday, July 31, 2015


July is winding up. August will begin tomorrow. And even though the temperatures are still high, I hear the whisper of promise that fall will soon be here. Moms are thinking about back to school shopping, I am getting slightly panicked that I don't have all my curriculums picked out and on the way quite yet, the boys have already started talking about the Harvest Party, I have pumpkins growing in my backyard. This summer is going by so quickly. Full of good things. But the fall is full of changes.

From the outside looking in, probably most would think that the change rocking my world is not really such a big deal. But from the inside of the change, it is huge.

I have grown up with my dad working the same place. Mustard Seed Church. His role evolved over the years, but I remember as a small girl sometimes visiting him at work. And I remember his various offices, office decor, etc., as the church grew. I saw him eventually take over the Lead Pastor position from my grandfather and lead our church with love. He has been a good shepherd. My dad and Eli top my list of amazing men that I have intense respect for.

And he is stepping down.

For me, I cannot imagine living my life without faith. Faith in a God that is bigger than myself. Faith in Him that holds the world in His hands. Because without that faith, I would be rocked. But as it is, though my world may feel shaken, I know without a doubt that I can still stand firm.

But I cannot also imagine my dad not being there, in the physical sense of being at the church building. Not having his office across from Eli's. Not being there when I go to events or Bible studies and being able to pop in his office, give him a hug and tell him that I love him. I know I will still see him! But, to close the door on this era is tough for me.

I have to believe, to chose to keep that faith, that there are great things in store for my parents. That what lies ahead of them can be even better than what they have put their heart and souls into the years behind them. Sometimes that is hard to believe. Some days it feel easier. I am not one who looks for change ... I would rather keep the status quo, maintain what feels secure and go on with life. Change isn't always easy. But even painful change can bring about beauty.

Some days I have walked down the office hallway and my throat chokes up. Or I have to take a deep breath when I hear Jonah ask "Opa? Are you going to still go to our church? Because I don't want to miss seeing you there". Maybe that seems small to some, but it is a huge change for our family.

But as I enter the next two months of transition time and the true changes begin, I have to fight for that faith, for that belief that He really does have good plans for my parents. For myself and Eli. For my children. For the whole body of believers that I love. And in the times that I see them grieve the loss of what they have known, stand beside them as they look towards the unknown. Be their support, be their cheerleader as they walk out their own walk of faith.

There is no time that I can remember being this proud of my parents. Proud that they are willing to take risks, to step out in faith, and to be vulnerable. Most of us in the world would not be that brave. I know someday we will look back on this time and see the why. Sometimes it is hard to see the why in the right now. I can be okay with that. And I am also okay with admitting that some days I will be sad, and some days I will feel fine!

No matter the job, the vocation, etc., they will always be my mom and dad. The same mom and dad who were just at my house, making sure the boys were getting to bed okay since Eli is in KC tonight. The same dad who goes grocery shopping with Eli or I each week, just because. Because he loves us. I have truly wonderful parents, and I just pray that their next something wonderful shows up on their doorstep at the perfect time.

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!!!!