A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jonah = 8 years old

It is just so amazing that Jonah turned 8 years old yesterday. Not that any child's birthday is more important than another's - but perhaps it is just the fact that a firstborn's birthday is always a little jolt of reality. That one little baby that made me a mother is 8. Pretty amazing, considering I still feel like I should be in my mid-20's! = )

Sooooo excited!
Look at these boys!!!!

Jonah was sooooo excited - as expected - for his birthday yesterday. Since my strange eater doesn't like pancakes, he got a small birthday cookie to go with his breakfast. Matthias and Reuben slept in til nearly 8 o'clock in the morning, which was making Jonah a little stir crazy! He knew that he would get to open presents when they woke up, and they must have been making up for a big day on Sunday! But, they finally decided to rise, and he opened his presents. The "big one" was a pocket knife. He knew it was coming, as he had been promised that he would get his own pocket knife when he turned 8 years old. Pretty big stuff for that blondie.

Other than that, we enjoyed a Monday as usual, although I let the boys have the day off of school. They went grocery shopping with Daddy, Opa, and Didi. Got donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Played outside with the gorgeous weather, and enjoyed each other. He practically created a shrine in his bed for the LEGO alarm clock that we got for his room! Eli's dad came over for dinner since he mom was out of town, and the rest of the day went great!

Jonah certainly isn't a perfect child, but I see such a tender heart within him. I pray that as he grows and encounters more of a harsh world, he keeps that tenderness. The way he loves little ones, and just seems to care for others. As the boys are growing and our days are busy, I am working to consistently spend time in prayer for each of them. Praying that God will direct their paths, that He will work in them, and that He will give Eli and I wisdom - HIS wisdom - on how to be the parents we can be in His strength. It is a daunting job! But, I believe we have been given these four boys to raise into strong men - men of character and courage, and daring love for Jesus.

Happy Birthday, my big boy!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Brotherly Love

As Abram gets more and more interactive, his brothers just dote on him more and more. It's rather amazing! I have to fight to get him up from naps, because Jonah is racing to beat me, Reuben constantly follows me around when I am holding the baby, trying to get his attention and kiss him and make him laugh, and then Matthias continues to request to hold him, although the "wigglier" Abram gets, the more of a challenge that is! = )

But, would I want it any other way? I would be crazy ... it is amazing to watch them love their littliest brother with as much love as they know how to give. No matter how crabby he is, how much time my arms have to hold him, or if he screams the entire car drive - they adore him.

It won't be long before he is joining in their wrestling matches, trying to grab their toys and get into their things. I am only imagine what life will be like in this house when he starts crawling! Until then, though, we'll relish the snuggles and baby-love every single day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reuben is 6!

A little behind the 8-ball, but here we are!

Reuben turned 6 years old last week. I'm entering the short season of three boys having birthdays, which means this Momma suddenly realizes they are all growing up! Happy and sad, exciting and bittersweet - all at the same time.

This little boy had been counting down the days ... literally, for the past month. He is excited to get bigger (and I suspect, catch up with Jonah on things). And so the night before his birthday, we carried up the three presents from the boys, Eli and I, in to the living room. And his big blue eyes got bigger, and he said, "I'm going to bed RIGHT NOW!" He couldn't wait for tomorrow to get here! And off to bed he went! = )

And then he and Jonah woke up at 6am. Yikes! They acted like it was Christmas! Oh, the fun of being little and these things are so so exciting for them.

We opened his presents, and had birthday cake pancakes before we had Bible study at church that morning. What I do appreciate about our boys is that it doesn't take much to have a great celebration. We didn't spend tons of money on presents, but he was so thrilled with what he got and so thankful. Sometimes it feels like all this work we put into character building isn't doing a darn thing - and sometimes you see a glimmer of "yes it is!"

We dropped flowers and cards off to Grandma, who has the same birthday, and enjoyed a playdate with favorite friends before going to youth group as usual. Great day.

I'm so proud of Reuben and the little boy he is growing into. He is showing more and more kindness to others, he is starting to ask more questions about Jesus and how and why we believe what we do. He still can shut down and pull away, but I see him becoming less afraid of crowds and willing to try new things. And that little boy's laugh is just THE BEST! It's more like a giggle of pure silliness, but it just makes everyone else laugh with him.

May his 6th year bring him more knowledge of the saving work of Jesus, more friends to connect with, and may it be a blessed year full of L.I.F.E.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Piano Lessons

Music runs in my family. All five of us kids grew up taking piano lessons. The girls went on, I played until high school, my youngest sister majored in music education, and my older sister played through high school as well. My brothers didn't play as long, but my oldest brother can learn any instrument presented to him, and records music, plays piano, guitar, bass, etc etc etc!

Eli still laments that his mom didn't "force" him to take piano lessons. = ) Truth is, she wanted him to, but he put up such a protest that in the end, he didn't end up taking any. And now he says that is a huge regret to him. He can play drums, guitar, and some saxophone, but always wishes he would have learned to read music well back in the grade school years.

This all equals up to the fact that our boys will take piano lessons. Doesn't necessarily matter if they play forever, but we want them to learn the skill of reading music, and explore if they love piano or any other instruments! We bought a piano back many years ago from a good friend who was moving out of the country for a time. So, we've always had a piano ... it just hadn't been put to much use.

Until now.

We started piano lessons with "Aunt Didi" in January. It is really great for the boys! Jonah is catching on quickly, and since he is almost 8, I think he will move through the beginning levels fairly fast. Reuben doesn't really seem to pay attention to what songs Jonah is working on, and is happily plugging away at his own pace. I know that he will move more slowly just based on the fact that he is two years younger. But, that kid has confidence! He practices, or runs downstairs to practice "Mom! I am so good at piano!"

Or last week when lessons were over and I said "Reuben, great job working on your lesson with Didi today". He responds matter of factly: "Yup, Mom, that's because I am just really good at piano." And continues on eating his lunch.

I'm not really going to worry about squelching his pride. More times than not, he is always trying to catch up to Jonah. In all areas. And so I am just letting him feel proud about his accomplishments, not worrying about pointing out too much where he needs to work. I just sit with him while he practices, encourage steady counting and reinforce what his aunt has told him to do. And heavens no, will I ever comment on where Jonah is at in the book. = )

I know what the middle child feeling is like. And I know that I written about that before. But, I know how easy it is to constantly be trying to "live up" to the standards set by older siblings or catch up to them. Not really possible. And so I am so thankful that right now, Reuben is just having fun working on his songs, looking forward to his lessons, and feeling confident as he learns a new skill.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Baba Tales

Matthias loved L.O.V.E.D. his pacifier. Lovingly called a "baba" by our family (named by Jonah, and since he was the firstborn, that has been the name!), he was as attached as Jonah. Reuben never cared for one, and so far, Abram hates them with a passion. But, Matthias followed in Jonah's footsteps and was devoted.

We have our own love/hate relationship with pacifiers. They are amazing when you want a baby to relax, to sleep, to be quiet. Buuuuuuttttt, I have never heard of a parent looking forward to the weaning off the pacifier. Stories upon stories of how this family did, how it worked for so-and-so, and etc. They are all great and fun to hear, but the reality is that each family has to do it their own way. Their own style. You might borrow a bit from someone else's tales, but in the end, it's your kid and you know them and you have to deal with the crying during the process. So, take a deep breath and go for it, right?

We had started a few months ago working with Matthias to only have his pacifier at naptime and bedtime. The precursor to giving it up completely. It worked fairly well. We weren't going to hurry him quite yet to be done, because with the move in the late summer, and a new baby in the fall ... his little life has had plenty of transition in the last six months, and we did not want to create too much extra stress. Our goal was to be done by his third birthday in April.

But, about two and a half weeks ago, we were down to one working baba. A yellow one. We had a blue one too, but it had a crack in the nipple and he didn't want to use it. And then a Wednesday came, and the yellow baba disappeared. Somewhere in the house. But, the house was searched and searched and no baba turned up. Eli had youth group that night, and so I let Matthias lay in our bed, and gave him the blue pacifier, explaining that it was all we had. He accepted it because it was all there was ... and a much better alternative for him than nothing at all! But, somehow laying in my bed messing with it while I prayed with the other boys, he managed to bite a chunk out of the nipple. Cracked baba became broken baba. And broken babas just don't cut it.

He cried, I snuggled him. Jonah searched again for me.


And ready or not, we were suddenly thrust into being DONE with the pacifier.

I texted Eli to be prepped in case in the middle of the night Matthias was up looking for it - "FYI, there's none to be found!" And Matthias miraculously fell asleep with not too much crying. Holding his blankey. Momma reassuring him we would survive.

Eli and I talked in the morning and reasoned that at this point, should the pacifier turn up, we wouldn't give it back to him. Might as well continue forward. Poor Matthias. I hate seeing the confusion with little ones! He just wanted another one! He did okay at night, but that Thursday and Friday afternoon of that week brought naptimes with screaming, crying, "I JUST WANT MY BABA BACK!!!!!" No comforting from me could soothe him until he would finally fall asleep, exhausted.

And then, suddenly? Saturday he was okay. Saturday there were no tears. Saturday I didn't feel like crying myself, pulling my hair out, frustrated because my hugs did nothing to help. = )

And the following week there were a couple days in which he "just wanted my baba", but the moments were short and and forgotten. And we would look at each other, freeze a moment, and then breathe a sigh of relief when it passed.

And this past week? No requests, no comments. Life has moved on as normal. And I'm not about to bring it up! His lips had been getting really chapped from using it at night, so I'm grateful that it is gone for the rest of the winter. And I suppose that getting thrown into it without weeks of dreading it in advance was perhaps better? Who knows??? And when Jonah actually did find the yellow pacifier about three days in, he had already been instructed to quickly hide it in a dresser drawer. Which I think it is still there and that it needs to make its way into the trash.

My little boy is just not so little anymore. Still needing his cuddles and his love - but another step passed those sweet babyhood years.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Matthias Matthias

I think Matthias has enough personality for at least three people. He is every inch of his little body full of energy, mischievous thoughts, endless vocabulary, silly faces, attention getting antics, and everything and anything else that could be crammed into that little 36 pound boy. He makes me laugh like crazy ... and two seconds later can literally drive me crazy!

As soon as Abram was born, it did not take long for him to discover that when Mommy sat down to nurse "Baby Abram", he could slip away and get into things. Or bother his brothers. Or throw books across the room. Or fill up endless cups of ice and water in the kitchen. Not that everything he does is naughty, he l.o.v.e.s to climb up and sit beside me with books in his lap and we read together. He begs for snuggles when he wakes up in the morning and after naptime. He wants to help make smoothies, and take things to people when they need them or ask for them. He is quick to volunteer to help me whenever he knows I am headed down to the laundry room. But, he is equally quick to try and sneak into Jonah's top bunk bed, though he knows it is forbidden territory. Or grab a toy from big brothers and make a dash down the hall.

As the parent, it has been a challenge for me to figure out how to effectively discipline him, re-direct him, without him feeling constantly told "no" or in trouble. Truth be told, he really wants to be "in" on things, especially the things his big brothers are doing, and it is no fun to always be the little brother being told to go away or don't touch. My patience is tried and tested hourly with him and I often fail my tests. But, I am working to see past what might appear as naughty, because he often just wants attention.

Thank goodness he has never seemed upset that Abram is here. He love love LOVES Abram and frequently asks to hold him, or will chatter to him if Abram is in his bouncy seat. My cousin once famously tried to get my parents to take his little sister home after they baby sat for my aunt and uncle. He was done having a little sister around! Matthias, not so much. But, I can see how the adjustment to not being the baby and to having Mommy's (and Daddy's) attention spread a bit more affects him.

So, I make the effort to praise good behavior. Give him lots of snuggles when my arms are free. Read books upon books when we have the time. And remember that the child is two. He is figuring out how far he can push Mommy and Daddy, learning boundaries, wanting to be big like Reuben and Jonah, and just being himself! Himself that pulls kitchen chairs all over the place to be a part of stirring pots, the little boy who touches my hair: "Mommy, I lub your hair, it's sooooo boo-tiful!!!", an impish boy that tried to steal Reuben's candy this morning when Reuben wasn't looking, a still chubby-armed child that squeezes my neck and plants big kisses on my cheeks at night.

Each day he and I have our challenges ... but gosh I love that kid!