Lest I Forget...

It has happened again.  I am in a slump spiritually and have been pining for that deep community to come around me and lift me up.  So, tonight, out of sheer boredom (please don't ask how I'm bored with three kids because I can't answer you!) I decided to go back and read some of my earlier bloggings.  Wouldn't you know, about a year ago this time, I was dealing with the same struggle.  And wouldn't you know, God answered me once again, only with my own words.  How convicting and humbling!  Go here to read what I'm talking about.  Once again, God just amazes me.

Back Online

Well, sorry that it's been so long since I've written - I'm sure you got pretty tired of looking at pictures of my cats!  Unfortunately, my laptop was broken, probably by a certain someone who stuck a thermometer in the side of it and broke the tip off.  You can just guess who that someone is!  So I now write to you from my new desktop - ahem, did I mention it's a Mac?  Let me just say - 


We are just going through a breaking phase around here.  In a matter of five days, Jake's phone was broken, our computer got its temp taken and then our washing machine kicked the bucket too.  So, we've made three major purchases in the last two weeks.  Dave Ramsey would not be proud of the Mannes at the moment.  Hmmm.....that's just depressing to think about, so....moving on!!

Have I mentioned yet that Maurah and Hayden are smiling?  I can't remember and I'm too lazy to look back at my last few posts.  But they've been smiling for a few weeks now and Hayden actually laughed at me the other day!  They are so much fun now that they're social and showing their love for us in return.  I'll try and get some cute pictures of them and post them.  But in the meantime, just enjoy the next posts I've put up and the fact that you don't have to face our furry felines any longer!


Cole and Hayden

Leto and Lexi

Yea!  We were reunited with our nephew, Leto and new niece, Lexi, this weekend!  We were so excited to see them again (along with their mom, Rachael) after not seeing each other since January.  We lived about 5 minutes apart for the first eight months of Cole's life while we were in Michigan and spent at least three days a week with each other, so the transition of the Pendleton's living in Alabama and us in Indiana has been one that was difficult at times.  Especially since Rachael and I were expecting at the same time again and we knew we couldn't make the trip to visit each other and our new babies.  So Sunday was a special day when we could visit again.  And the kids and I will be traveling up to Michigan this next Sunday to spend even more time with them.  We can't wait!  Cole is already missing his buddy, Leto.  And I can guarantee that many more fun pictures will come from that trip!
Jake tried to convert Leto with his hat (Leto's dad, Mike, is a Fighting Irish - uh oh!)
Aunt Megan and my first niece, Lexi Em!
Uncle Jake and Lexi
Best Buddies

Grandma Millie

This past weekend we drove to Huntington, Indiana to visit Jake's great-grandma.  We all know her as Grandma Millie.  She is 98 years old and is one of the most wonderful women I've ever met.  It's really a testimony of her love and devotion to her family to see how four of her nine children live close by her and almost every year, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now great-great-grandchildren gather together to celebrate her birthday and honor her.  With every visit, I learn of more stories of how she put her faith and family first in all she did and lived with nothing, yet loved with everything.  She can't see or hear well, but when you walk on her porch or into her kitchen and yell into her ear who you are,  she welcomes you with a loud scream of joy and a kiss and hug to follow.  Jake's mom mentioned how all of the grandkids (she being one) felt like they were Grandma's favorite because of how she made them all feel so special and she continues to do this with her great-grandchildren and all of our kids as well.  She was especially enthralled with the twins this trip, remembering stories of her own twins.  I told Jake on the way home that I wish I could have known her in a time where we could sit in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, ask many questions and soak in as much wisdom as I possibly could from her.  But even just in sitting with her on the front porch, I have learned so much about humility and what it means to truly love.  These are pictures that our family will treasure forever.  I'm so glad that our kids have the chance to be loved by Grandma Millie.

Grandma, Maurah and Hayden
Grandma feeding Hayden
Our kids with their Grandma Tammy and her Grandma Millie
Maurah, Lexi and Hayden with Grandma
The twins and Grandma

Cute, aren't they?

Well, we think they are! These are our family cats, Mittens and Jackson. Unfortunately, the reason for this post is because we cannot keep them anymore. With the addition of the twins, we are finding ourselves incredibly overwhelmed with responsibility to the kids and aren't able to maintain the kind of care for the cats that we need to be able to give them.

SO!! Anyone interested? Or do you know anyone who would be interested?

Let me give you a few details on both of them.

Mittens is our first cat that we got the January after we were first married. She was in theAnti-Cruelty shelter in downtown Chicago and I knew she was the one immediately. She is now six years old. She was skiddish when we first got her, but has become such a great family cat. She is fixed and has all of her claws, but really doesn't do anything with them. Cole tackles her all of the time and she has never once turned on him, although I wouldn't blame her if she did! We have just begun allowing her outside and she really enjoys this, coming back when she's finished exploring in our yard. So, she'd make a great indoor/outdoor cat or whichever would be preferred. She is such a lovey girl and we feel very sad about having to let her go as she is the first pet we've ever had. Her ideal family would be one that could spend some time with her, but doesn't have to be around all of the time.

Jackson is our tabby cat who is now 3 years old. We got him from a friend of my sister's as a kitten and have been loving on him ever since! He is the most lovey cat I've ever met. If you could put him in a baby carrier and carry him around all day, he'd be the happiest cat ever! He is also wonderful with children and has been through the ringer as well, getting attacked by Cole all of the time, but always keeping his sweet demeanor. He is fixed also, but is de-clawed in his front paws only. Jackson's ideal family would be one that would be around a bit more - you know, where he's not at home all day and night alone. He needs attention now and then, and sadly this is why we feel we can no longer keep him in particular.

Both Jackson and Mittens have been left in our home together for a couple of weeks at a time where we just gave them a ton of food and water and gave them a clean litter box and they both have done great. There really aren't problems with them at all, I guess, which is why it's such a bittersweet thing to have to give them up. But we can't continue to keep them and know we're not taking care of them the way we should be. They have dropped very low to our totem pole of priorities, as I'm sure many of their ancestors have had happen to them when babies come around. Just think of Lady and the Tramp - - - oh, wait. That's about dogs - - - -but still the same idea!!

Cole is going to be heartbroken and for that I'm very sad. But we just want our cats to go to a very loving home/homes. Obviously it'd be awesome if we could give them both to the same person, but I won't keep my hopes up for that! Just a loving owner/family for each of them is all we need! So please think about it if you're interested or help us get the word out. Thanks so much!

He's stolen my heart

Cole is growing into such a great young boy. As much as I still want to consider him my baby, there is nothing "baby" about him. He is very verbal, which can make life crazier or more calm, depending on the moment. The thing I'm noticing the most though, is how great of a heart he has. Jake was leaving for work this morning and Cole said, "Bye, Dad! I love you!" What a joy to hear that come out of his mouth with no encouragement from either of us. He loves the girls just the same too, constantly wanting to snuggle them or give them a blanket. He talks to them in the sing-song voice we do too, saying, "Hell-o-o! Hi, pretty gwiwly (girly)! Hi, baby gwil!"

Some famous quotes include:

"You okay?" - said when we hurt ourselves, cough, sneeze, or he knocks us down in wrestling. And he doesn't give up asking until he's assured that we truly are okay.

"Thank you!" - now unprompted and sometimes even before you give him what he asked for!

"Oh, that's fun!" - said very emphatically about everything from building with blocks to changing the babies' diapers to us doing yardwork

"Play me!" - his sweet request given many times throughout the day - heartbreaking when I have to respond that I can't play at that moment

His imagination is growing like crazy right now and it is so fun to talk to him about the monkeys outside our windows (squirrels) or why his toys have to sit in time out.

He enjoys reading his Bible, especially about Adam and Cain. (Not sure exactly why he always lumps those two together, but we'll take it!)

Even with the toddler tantrums, he's a pretty easy boy. I count to "1" and he's doing what I've asked him to do (the max is 3). What's funny is that I've never even gotten to 3, so he doesn't even know the consequence at the end. (Once again, not sure why that is, but we'll take it!) =)

He is by far not perfect (see previous post for an example) but we are enjoying this stage of life with him so much. "2" definitely has its challenges, but I'm finding it more rewarding than any age he's ever been. For the first time, I am starting to see some of the fruits of our labor. And what a blessing it is!

Just wondering...

Why is it that much more fun for a 2 year old to dump all of his toys out at the same time?

Much to Jake's enjoyment, I have gone as far as taking pictures of Cole's toys and making signs to put on his toy bins so that he is able to put his toys away, where they belong, mostly on his own. My husband gets a giggle out of what he calls my "teacher mode". I thought it was a brilliant idea. Well, it was a brilliant idea in my head, at least.

The picture went something like this:

Cole wants to play Mr. Potato Head? He opens the drawer with Mr. Potato Head, and plays with the little spud. He wants to play with his cars? First, he puts Mr. Potato Head and all of his accessories away, then he gets out his bin with the cars.

After all, isn't that what the gazillion of toys in his room are for? To play with them?

Is this a funny concept? What am I missing here?

Oh. Maybe the fact that he's a 2 year old.

Happy Anniversary!!

Yesterday was a glorious day. We started our morning with Jake making breakfast for us all and we actually got to sit at the table together and eat - there was real conversation happening! And neither of us was holding a baby or bouncing a baby! Do you realize how monumental this was? At this point I knew, this day was gonna' be special!

And it was.

We then took a walk down to the lake. With the girls in their double stroller and Cole in his wagon, we made our way two streets over to the water. It was beautiful weather and we took advantage of it! Cole likes to walk down the dock and watch all of the boats and wave runners go by. The water and sky were both a radiant blue. We didn't stay long, but it was just nice to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air together - fresh air that didn't involve yardwork, which is what we'd been doing the entire day before!

Then, Jake and I got a treat later that afternoon when we dropped the kids off and went downtown to celebrate our anniversary. We decided to be bold and try a restaurant we found online called Zocalo's - a trendy, authentic Mexican restaurant. The atmosphere was casually romantic with dark wood, bright paintings and candlelight at each table. The food was wonderful - many foods that we had never tried before. Here are some pictures -
Jake's sampler of drinks
Jake's dessert - Apple crepes - Delicious!
My dessert - Molten Chocolate Cake - Melt in your mouth goodness!

Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of our appetizer, which was so beautiful - and more importantly, so tasty! And I wish our entree pictures had turned out better - but they don't look so appetizing in the photos. To give you an idea of how eclectic we were, Jake's meal included a cactus paddy - which they were out of, sadly enough, but what a crazy thing! I had a tuna steak over orzo and Jake enjoyed steak medallions in a really hot, but so yummy sauce.

After our three course dinner, we drove around our old stomping grounds, fondly remembering our early years of marriage living downtown. We then drove to Lincoln Park where we found a bench amongst the flowers that were fully in bloom and gorgeous! We read through the message our pastor performed in our wedding ceremony and then read the vows we wrote to one another. We decided year that we would focus on one thing to work on and grow in for each other in the next year. This was our new vow - or an old vow that we realized we needed to work on. I am really excited to have started this tradition with each other that we will revisit every year when we celebrate our anniversary.

Getting a little silly
(We asked a random stranger in the park to take our picture - didn't he do a great job? Come to find out, he is a writer who took a few other pics of us along with the architecture in the background to use in his writings - you just never know where you might see us again!)

We had such great time, realizing how much FUN we have with each other. It's hard to remember that sometimes when we're constantly serving others, namely our children. Dr. Stowell told us once that if we keep working at our marriage now in the midst of the craziness, we will have ultimate ecstasy when our children are grown and it is just the two of us again. Many couples seem to miss this - I hope we don't. If the friendship and bond we have now is nothing compared to what we can have, then I am certain great things are in store for us. Thank you, Short family for taking care of and loving our kids so we could focus on why we fell in love in the first place!

Five great years - and many more to come...

Just because....

They're so stinkin' cute!!



Back in the saddle...

We're BAAACK!!!

This is my first post since both of our girls have been home and our family is complete. Honestly, it's a miracle that I am even able to sit down and write this while all three of my children are tucked in their beds, sound asleep. I hesitate to even breathe too loudly for fear that this moment will end too soon!

Things haven't slowed down a bit now that none of us are residents in the hospital anymore. I don't know why I thought life would become a calming normal once we were all together - boy was I naive!! We got to spend a whole one day as just the five of us before we had to be separated once again. I think about that insurance commercial that says, "Life comes at you fast" - no kidding!

Our house, come to find out, had mold and mildew growing in the basement due to much flooding from all of the snow and rain we had this winter/early spring. I am dreadfully allergic to both and we of course feared the kids would develop asthma or allergies, so we (the kids and I) trekked up to Michigan to stay with our family. It wasn't too bad being a single parent once we got there - however, the ride there was one of the most horrible things I've experienced. When I arrived at my parents', my mom said, "How was it?" with a sympathetic look as if she already knew the answer. I replied, "We all cried at different points of the trip!" Once I got over the initial pain of the drive, we had a wonderful time. We actually ended up staying at Jake's parents' where his dad and sister helped out a ton when they were home. We had a wonderful time visiting friends and family we don't get to see often and were kept busy having visitors every day! It was great and of course I loved introducing the girls to everyone.

This visit lasted a total of a week and a half. For the last week, Jake was on our senior high missions' trip in Tecumseh, Michigan where our group participated in GROUP Workcamp. The kids had a great time helping people in need of repairs to their homes and came back a more solidified group. We are loving how every time we get together, we grow closer and closer with our students, and Jake had a wonderful time building even deeper relationships with them on this trip.

The Mannes were reunited a little over a week ago on Saturday in our mold-free house and are not making plans to be apart again for quite a while! The girls are growing and have become very acclimated to us and our noisy home and I think Cole doesn't even remember that it was ever just him. He loves being a big brother and he is such a good helper - sometimes too good (think picking up the babies when they're crying!).

So, we are back and ready to have some normalcy - even if it's some crazy normalcy! It's nice to not be writing about doctors and nurses and treatments all of the time. Many more fun stories and thoughts to come!

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...