A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Friday, November 20, 2015


Oh Gosh.

I'm sorry, but can anyone explain to me how it is suddenly November 20th? Time flies. Always. And I know that it does and that it would, but here we are. Thanksgiving is next week. I have two turkeys to cook in the next five days. My brain has been exploding with gym choreography. We've been doing school. Eli and I have been trying to clean out all the boys' toys and rooms (ha!) before we even consider letting them get presents at Christmas!

There has been so much in my month. And much of it didn't even happen in my household. News of bombings, attacks ... transitions at church ... transitions at my work ... you name it.

And here's what is amazing. I can still experience peace.


Throughout this month, I have sought to focus on the best thing: Jesus. Let me tell you, there is no shortage of items that I could worry about all day and all night. In fact, I wouldn't even need to repeat items because the list could be so long. I could fear ISIS, terrorism, worry about job security, have anxiety over so many things! But I cannot and will not go there. I must focus on the One who holds the world in His hands.

It doesn't mean that sometimes I have to wrestle to get there. In fact, I have to seek after this peace, pursue it, take hold of it. But it is there. And I am so grateful for the tenderness of my heavenly Father that extends this peace to me and that I can find rest in His arms. I believe in this one true God. I can't explain all the whys of everything that happens. But I believe that He sees a much bigger picture than I can ever get.

I am only guaranteed what I have today. None of us have hands on anything more. We have what we have right now. And I want to experience fully what lies before me. My husband, My children. My family. My neighborhood. My friends. LIFE. And if I worry about the multitude of things out there to worry about, I immediately lose that fulfilled today that I have been given. I can't be thankful and worry at the same time! And so I am looking up. Teaching my children to look up. To extend kindness to each other and others (um yes, we fail all the time!). I may not be able to do much, but I want to make a small difference in someone's day ... every day! How can I bless as I have been blessed?

I was just thinking about someone who has been an amazing blessing to me and my family. And just filling up with gratitude for what she has given to us. Things that she might consider small, but have been HUGE to us. And challenged to look around and see who I can do the same for. In the darkness of the world, the nit-picky politics all around us, who can I be a light to? Who can I encourage? And I can only really do it well when I'm keeping my eyes on Jesus and letting the worries and fears drop at the foot of the cross.

I don't get there all the time. But that's where I want to find myself more and more. That would be taking my today, and living it well.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Eli is out of town. Certainly not on one of his longer trips, but still not here. And although the boys and I still keep a fairly regular schedule, and others always jump in to help out, it just isn't the same. Daddy is gone.

Today I felt like the behaviors were coming out all over the place. The boys were so excited about today! We were going to the Hy-Vee store to trick or treat, so they were going to wear their costumes. Seriously, though I kept warning them this wouldn't be a "big" event, Reuben was counting down the days all week. And they went to bed excited last night about it all. I was thrilled we didn't have to be at the gym until 11 this morning, so we would actually have bit of a morning at home. Time to be a little lazy in pajamas and not be trying to get out the door.

And it all started out okay, most of the boys slept in a little later than normal because they were tired from the day before. And they were happy to be reading books in the living room, and playing with some little toys a friend had given them.

But as the day wore on ...

And I don't want to unveil my children. I know I have my own ugliness that pops up when I am tired or cranky or something is off within me. And I certainly wouldn't be thrilled to have it broadcast to anyone who can find it.

But I just saw it - battled it. Jonah wanted to run the show. Daddy isn't here, and by golly, the firstborn wanted to step up and run things. And Matthias? Not about to tell than happen. In true three year old fashion, his fists came into play because his words don't feel powerful enough.

I know the job description. My job is to be a mother. Not a friend right now. To love them, but to train them. And I felt like a referee today. Only the time outs and talks weren't going through the ears and producing any change.

We talked some tonight. The boys tell me how much they love each other! And I know that they do. I see it demonstrated each and every day. But, they miss Daddy and they are excellent at pushing each others' buttons. But, it isn't enough. I shared with them about servant leadership. Talking to Jonah about how he is a leader, but he has to be a servant leader. Things won't go well if he gets bossy. Matthias has to use hands for kindness. To bring healing. And Reuben has to stay calm. We talked about fighting for peace in our home, not fighting for fighting's sake.

And then we pray. Pray that our hearts would be soft towards each other. And oh how I pray along with them! That my own heart would not get frustrated alongside theirs, but that I would find the teaching moments and teach with a gentleness that comes from Jesus. I love these boys with a fierce love that can almost feel overwhelming, but I hate when dissension breaks a day. Eli is a great dad! But, even he can't solve all those problems. The boys have to learn to step back and make right choices. We have to parent to help them get there (HUGE job!), especially in a tough day.

And so, as I lay my own head down tonight, my prayer is for them. That they would wake in the morning with renewed strength to grow. They are growing each day. May they grow into men of honor and strength. And when they get up in the morning, may their little hearts be inclined to be kind to their brothers. A friend of mine once said, "One of the greatest gifts you can give to your child(ren) is siblings." They'll have each other long past Eli and I.  I believe that - and I know that someday they will too! Even if right now that is hard for a small child to see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fire Station Visit

Matthias got to join the ranks of his older brother this semester as he headed off to preschool two mornings a week. He does great in terms of being happy to run into his classroom, give us reports when he gets home, and seems to generally enjoy his time there. But, for the first several weeks, he would still express that he did not want to go when he work up and realized it was a "school day" for him. Most of this simply stems from the fact that he realizes the bigger boys aren't headed "to" a school, and so he would rather stay with them. But he loves his crafts, singing time, and his new friends at school. And just in in the last two weeks, we haven't heard those words when we mention school. Tuesday of this week, all three boys were eating breakfast at the table together ... I said "And Matthias, you get to go to school today!" And he just grinned right back at me and said "Yay! I love school."


At the beginning of this month, his class visited a local fire station - always a favorite activity with little kids! His brothers got the the same experience when they were in preschool as well. And although I wish I could have been there, I was glad that Eli was able to take the time from work to go with him. Eli got to accompany Reuben on his trip, and I think Jonah as well. Makes for good memories with a Daddy and his boy.

And they come home with great stories. To a little three year old, sitting in a fire truck is BIG stuff. And getting to hold the hose? Even better = )

It seems like schools do less field trips than they used to. And I understand, it is tough and takes work to pull off. There isn't a trip to the pumpkin patch as a school (which is fine - we had our family trip!), and I believe this fire station visit is one of the only field trips the kids go on this year. Definitely thrilled that Matthias got to participate and meet his classmates there.

Sometimes it is just the little things like this that can make such an impression and create stories for them to tell. And as an adult, I can often forget that. My little man loves adventure and trying new things and being brave. This little outing gave him a little taste of feeling "big".

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Field Trips

Let me just be straight out honest and say that homeschool field trips intimidate me. Not because I don't love seeing the boys experience things and learn all kinds of information through hands on experience ... mostly because it is the littles that make it challenging. Not that I am wishing them away, but I can imagine taking on Jonah and Reuben on field trips and that sounds great! Easy! Fun!

But add in a three year old with loads of energy, a nearly one year old that needs to be carried, sometimes nursed, etc., and field trips (at least to me) can seem a bit more of a task than a fun outing.

With the baby being little last spring, we really didn't do many field trips at all. We used our backyard for outside learning = ) But I have purposed that we can do this! We can get out more this year in terms of outside learning activities.

Truly, we enjoy getting our school done at home. And there are sooooo many resources available online now that all kinds of learning can be done in all kinds of ways. But, there is nothing like seeing a reenactment of pioneer days. Or walking through a one room schoolhouse. Learning to march like colonial soldiers. Riding in a stagecoach behind horses. All those things can be talked about and watched on a screen ... but real experience trumps all that!

And so we have ventured out. On two. Hey! It's October and we have done two fields trips! I count that as success in my book (and that doesn't count the pumpkin patch, which of course we visited this month!).

In September, we went with our friends to the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop in Olathe. They were having a homeschool day, so they had lots of reenactors out on the land. The boys ate up being soldiers, looking at the animals, and hearing the cannon go off. I was glad to go with friends, because it made it much more enjoyable. They tried out pioneer kid games, ran around together, and we left sweaty, tired, and happy.

This week we visited Old Prairie Town in Topeka. Got to see lots of old buildings. And actually go inside and see everything. Our family went with us, so we were with cousins, aunts, and grandparents. The boys did fairly well, although a couple times they got a little antsy on the tour.

And so, I think that we need to keep those ideas going! Yes, it takes time, energy, and doesn't always feel easy to do. And truth be told, I would often rather stay at home (hello! mostly an introvert over here!). Yet at the same time, I love doing with the boys. Going with the boys. Even when I wrestle with putting forth the time, the effort, and knowing there are always moments of wanting to pull my hair out a little bit, my goal is to continue throughout this school year and make some great memories.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Fall is here! Although the temps have still been going up and down, leaves are starting to change colors and the nights are getting cool. And although I'm not ready for freezing cold Kansas to swoop in, there are afternoons that I look at my fireplace with anticipation. Thinking of a cooler day when it will feel like a treat to light it up and snuggle in blankets while we finish up school. = ) I do REALLY like fall.

My home is still such a delight to me. There is hardly a day in which at some point I look around, my heart swells, and I am filled with gratitude for this house. We have been here just a little over one year, and we are so so blessed. Neighborhood friends, space, a great backyard, and the list goes on and on.

I have a good friend - and her living room is always decorated for each season and looks beautiful (like it came out of a magazine!). Decorating is not a strong point for me. I don't "see" it like others see it, but at least I can tell when colors match! Ha! I haven't made it to the point in which each season changes all the decorations in the house, but I certainly wanted to put out things for fall. And I can't put together things to look as classy as she can ... I am content with my homey decorations and the always slightly messy living room no matter how many times we pick up every day.

I was so happy to change the mantel, put up our sparkle pumpkins, and feel like every time I walk into the living room it is singing out the autumn time song to me. Never mind that Eli started talking about putting Christmas decorations up on NOVEMBER 1ST!!!! Has the man gone crazy????

And so, as we go from day to day, some with jackets on, some back to shorts and t-shirts, we are loving fall time. Playing catch in the backyard in the evenings, lots of fire pits, and having the snuggle blankets folded up in the living room for cool mornings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Today is my mom's birthday.

You know, the older I get, the more I appreciate my mom. The more I ask for her insight and wisdom about situations. I can't imagine her not being around, and I am so so sooooo grateful that for now we get to live close to each other.

She is truly an amazing woman. Her life growing up wasn't the most picture perfect, but she has allowed so much healing to take place. She is kind. She is gentle. She will tell you like it is (and I love that!). She is not an attention-seeker. She plays a mean game of cards. She takes my boys out for treat time with Oma. She has a great laugh. She is a wonderful wife to my dad. She is waaaaay more stylish than me. She is strong.

My mom lives with a lot of pain due to back trouble. She doesn't complain. She still exercises, plays tennis, and stays active.

A lot of times I will ask Mom "How did you handle this? What do you do about ____?" And she will laugh and tell me she can't remember anything. And then I remember that I can't even remember what I cooked for dinner yesterday, let alone remember who's teeth came in when except for the one child whose teeth are actually coming in at this very moment, and I just ask for advice anyway! = )

She will pray for my kids when they are sick or hurt. In fact, often when one of the boys has come down with something, that want Oma to come over and sit with them. Stroke their heads.

I truly cherish my relationship with my mom. Sometimes we have lots to talk about. Sometimes we sit in silence (neither of us are good at small talk!). I am so proud of her. She has walked many paths with grace. Not perfection. None of us are there. But grace. And as she walks an unknown path ahead with that same grace, I am cheering her on. Hoping to encourage her. Hoping she knows that I believe in her just as she has so often believed in me when I needed someone to tell me I could do it.

I know the year ahead has beautiful and good things for her. I can't wait to see them happen and see her surprised by the goodness of God popping up in unexpected places.

Happy birthday Mom - I love you!

Monday, September 14, 2015


Today Abram is 10 months. Maybe it is that each and every child only is a stark reminder that time flies too fast. They grow up too quickly. Stages are achieved and passed on to another in only the blink of an eye. Maybe it is that I know there is a strong possibility that this is my last baby. My last toddler. My last chubby-cheeked Brooks boy. Or maybe it is because I can see even more clearly the miracle of l.i.f.e.

Probably it is the combination ... but this little sweet faced guy is such a joy in our days.

And not just me. The moment I walk into the living room with him in my arms at 6:30 am (because why would he want to give me more sleep, right???), the boys are all over him: "Abram! Abram!" Wanting him to give them smiles and giggles. Playing peek-a-boo with him. Matthias trying to hold him and walk him like he sees the other two do. I know that one day Abram will be 2 or 3, and will be the ornery one like Matthias is now ... and he won't seem so cute to Jonah and Reuben OR Matthias then! Because he will be getting into their things. But now? Now we just relish our ten month old.

Abram is crawling like a little mad man. He can move fast. He pulls up on everything - EVERYTHING. And he is completely comfortable with cruising along things as well. I don't think it will be long before he is attempting a few steps on his own. He is thrilled that he is mobile and is happy to follow us, or make a mad dash for the bathroom when he thinks no one is looking.

He loves to smile and giggle. He has learned to wave now, and mimics the sounds for "Hi" and "Bye" when he waves. He is very friendly to anyone, although he doesn't like to be held by strangers. He wants to give hi-fives, and is eager to give kisses to Momma and Daddy.

I would love to report that he sleeps through the night, but he doesn't. Sigh. I still am up with him at least once, maybe twice a night. We will get there! And I know I will feel amazing ... because I am going on 10 months without a stretch longer than six hours of sleep.

About two months ago he had no teeth. And now he has seven, with an eighth one looking close! That also might contribute to some of the not-so-great nights. Lotso teeth in a short time! But now those little boy grins are so cute with teeth popping through. He is long, but he isn't a chubby boy. He moves too much! = )

Abram is a great eater. We didn't do too many pureed foods, waited until about six and seven months, and then have done of lots of letting him try what we are eating as long as he can mush it and won't choke on it. He eats basically everything! Meat, pasta, veggies, fruit, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, crackers, cereal, oatmeal, you name it! Hoping this trend continues as we have already weathered our share of picky eating issues in this house.

He loves to play with his brothers, wrestle with Daddy, and pretty much be close to me whenever possible. He does well in the daycare at the gym for the hours that I work. He loves Oma when she comes over to help the boys with math or piano. Sure, there are times when I wish he was a bit more easygoing and would sit with toys or books and not find me and want me to hold him. But, I also remind myself of what I just put at the beginning of this: time goes too fast and soon enough I won't have a baby. I will have a toddler. And then a little boy. So, I give him snuggles and love and pray that he grows strong.