SUMMER IS HERE! Where's my Tylenol?

This posting has absolutely nothing to do with this picture of Hayden. I just think it's so darn cute and wanted to share it with the world...well, the very small fraction of the world that reads this blog!

This is a post of the "see ya' later" fashion. Going through our calendar the other morning, I discovered that our family has a total of two to three days at a time throughout the whole summer that we are together, just the five of us. Between missions trips, family reunions, garage sales and bridal showers, we are making six trips back and forth to Michigan between now and August...starting tomorrow. Throw in some visits from friends and family heading down our way along with our youth group events and VBS, and you've got one busy summer! We keep laughing because Cole has seen a different person every day this week - so glad he loves people and that all of these people love him so much!

We are super excited because on the schedule for tomorrow is a birthday breakfast celebration for Jake, a play date with all of our church friends at the park, and then off to my parents' for a visit and to wait for my new little niece to arrive on Friday (Heather is scheduled for an induction - I can't call 'em that closely!). Saturday we are going to my Grandma's apartment complex to enjoy their annual pig roast before heading home to prepare for our kids' ministry Sunday morning. My aunt, cousin and her girls are coming for a few days' visit on Monday and Jake gets home from his trip that night too. Give us two days of normalcy and hit the repeat button.

While things are crazy, I do have some projects that I'm going to attempt as well. They include painting the girls' bedroom, painting our living room, making and trying out cleaning supplies (window washer, Oxyclean, pre-wash spray etc.) and laundry soap, making more strawberry freezer jam and reading a good book here and there. I'll let you know how those things turn out! Hopefully, I'll have something more thoughtful to write the next time I'm on here. Even with no words, you can be sure I'll post pictures!

Hope you're all having great summers!



Compassion/NOOMA Video

Dear Jake,

I tried this year to put together a nice card for you, but, as you know, time just didn't allow. However, I didn't want this day to go by without recognizing you for the great husband and the great dad that you are.

We have been through a lot when you look back a year ago and I am so thankful for the progress that we've made. It's amazing to me to think that this time last year, we just brought Maurah home from the hospital and we were trying to figure out what life looked like as parents of a 2 year-old and 3 month-old premature twins. Easily said, it was craziness. In that time, we were also still trying to figure out what we looked like as a husband and wife who had basically been separated for five months. After almost five years of marriage, we found ourselves trying to figure out our roles again and how we worked with each other, for both of us had definitely changed in our time apart.

As I said before, I'm so thankful for where we are now. I really believe that our kids have the best dad ever. Did you ever think that, at the age of 26, you would be a father of three with one on the way? We definitely have gotten more than we bargained for at such young ages. As stressful and tiring as it is right now, I can't tell you how much I love being on this journey with you. I can't imagine changing diapers, wiping faces and trays, disciplining tantrums or healing owies with anyone else. I am so blessed for all you do for me, especially getting up every morning with the kids and allowing me to sleep in a little bit and do my devotions so I have more energy and a proper perspective to start my day with them. I love watching you with Cole and how you're willing to take him to work with you every now and then - he loves getting that special time with you at church. The girls have you so wrapped around their fingers already, and it's so sweet to watch them want to get in on the wrestling fun that you and Cole enjoy together. You are such a hands-on dad that is so rare to find these days. Our kids are encouraged by you to express themselves and you don't hold back on loving them - giving them kisses and hugs, high fives and words of encouragement. You are building a foundation for them already to grow and have confidence in themselves, and most importantly, you are seeking how to best raise them to know and love Jesus. You are a blessing for our family. I am excited for us as we welcome this new - and last (lol) - baby into our lives and we continue on the journey that God has brought us to. I look forward to every day of it being with you by my side, my only teammate who knows exactly what our life is really like and who is so faithful.

So, from all of us, we love you so much and are so glad to have you as our husband, father and leader of our family. God has richly blessed us with you! Happy Father's Day!

The Tale of Despereaux

We have entered a new phase - the one with imaginary friends.

The other night, we were privileged enough to have Despereaux the mouse stay at our house. He ate dinner with us and everything. After dinner Cole asked if he could have a popsicle for dessert with Despereaux, to which Jake said that Despereaux could have one, but he had to eat his in the freezer because he is such a messy mouse. Oh, the creativity!

The drama of the night was Despereaux falling off of the balcony off Jake's and my bedroom, onto the deck below. We tried everything to rescue him, poking window shade sticks through the rails and all, hoping we could reach down far enough for him to grab hold and climb up. Eventually, Cole resorted to running downstairs and opening the door to let Despereaux in because his faulty mother dropped the stick onto the deck on accident. Yeah, Indiana Jones definitely won't be calling me for any help!

Despereaux participated in story time and read our Bible stories and said his prayers with us. Then, I tucked the boys in - Cole with his head on his froggy pillow and Despereaux on his truck pillow. I have to say, that having Despereaux with us Saturday night was actually pretty enjoyable for all of the family. As long as Cole's friends continue to be as nice as he was, I don't mind them coming over at all.

Oh, I just had a thought - I hope Cole doesn't tell his friends at church that they'll have to eat in the freezer if they come to our house. Oops!


Well, I've done it....

You've been with me on this journey and you may not have even known it....

I have simplified!!

Let me tell you, this has been a huge undertaking for me. After hours and hours - so many, I'm ashamed to think of what I could have been doing - of trying to give my blog a personal facelift, I've decided enough is enough. So I went into my settings today and picked a blog background from blogger itself - not the most creative things out there, that's for sure!

For some reason, though, I'm just trying to rid myself of clutter. And, for me, my blog was becoming clutter because it was never just how I wanted it to be. So, thanks for bearing with me through all of my changes...I assure you, it should stay this way for quite a while! I can't make promises, but I keep telling myself that life is way too busy and moves way too quickly for me to be spending so much time on html!! You can call it nesting, spring cleaning, whatever - I just hope you like the new and simplified Manne Family News!

Happy Sunday to you all! I hope you have had gorgeous weather like we had today!

This Is Great!

For all of you moms with younger children out there, I just found a great website that can help give you ideas to incorporate the Bible into everyday life. It's called Hubbard's Cupboard and has wonderful resources. I just planned an entire three weeks of things I can do with Cole. The best part is, it's only three days a week for an hour a day, so it's very manageable. Check it out!

Also, I'm still waiting for more comments on my previous post. Come on, ladies...I know who you are and I'm WAI---TING!!!!!


My heart has been so full of conviction tonight, I can't even tell you!  The Lord is definitely doing a work in me and I wanted to share it on here 1) so that you could maybe take something away from what I'm learning and 2) so that I hopefully will not forget as quickly as I might if I don't write it out.

It all started with a blog I read written by a woman whose husband is a youth pastor - she has four kids, I'm on our fourth - life pretty much lines up for us!  So when she wrote of how busy their summer was and how they had so many "fun" events they got to go to, like graduation open houses, pool parties, "fun" youth group events, etc., I really knew what she was speaking about.  Summers around here are the busiest we get!  Then, she wrote of how her 4 year-old son said he didn't want to go to anymore parties because "Daddy is there, but he can't be with me."  Ugh.  Knife in the heart.  Thankfully, I think Jake and I do a pretty good job at still being with the kids while we're also doing our ministry duties of visiting and hitting every grad party known to man.  Still, that resonated so clearly with me and I thought, "How often am I here, but not really with my kids?"

This may sound funny, me being a SAH mom and all.  But me just being in the house doesn't offer much to my children.  Me doing laundry while Cole plays with his Star Wars or me cleaning while the girls crawl around and giggle is not necessarily me being present in their lives.  I know these are everyday chores that I can't necessarily get away from, but what about my timing?  If I'm honest, sometimes I start cleaning solely for the fact that I don't have to get down and play.  That statement is really hard to leave in this post because I know how horrible it sounds; but what good is this if it isn't real?

Tonight in my devotions that I missed this morning (I'm sure now it was on purpose!) I read about Hannah and the promise she made to give Samuel to the Lord.  Most of us are very familiar with that story and I usually skim over it since I can pretty much repeat the gist of it.  But it's in the details that I find Hannah evermore amazing.  Most likely, Samuel was three years old when she took him to the temple to give as her sacrifice to the Lord.  When he got there, this little boy knelt down and worshiped God.  Amazing!  Cole is three - - - if he were to to kneel and give praise to the Lord, I would cry profusely with great joy.  Beth Moore recounts the scene like this:
"A tiny three-year-old boy, still with creases of satiny baby skin around his plump little thighs, bending his knee and bowing before El Elyon, the sovereign God of all creation.  How precious this child must have been to God.  How in the world could a child that age have such respect for the God of the universe?  We get a clue from Hannah's prayer of praise found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10...'There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (v 2).  
Samuel learned faith from his mother - a woman whose faithfulness evidenced her faith, a woman with compulsory praise on her lips.  She met painful sacrifice with a song."

I so desperately want to be like Hannah - a mother who was so present in her son's life and a mother who constantly presented the Person of God to her son, ever since he was just an infant.  Her faith was unwavering.  I can't imagine taking Cole to a temple and leaving him to be raised by a priest.  I am thankful that God doesn't ask me to do that.  But God does ask me to lay my children at His feet.  God does ask me to be a warrior for my kids, praying for them and fighting for them, especially at these vulnerable ages when they can't fight the enemy themselves.  I want my kids to look at me and say, "Mommy, I'm so glad you were there" and that the word "there" means so much more than just a physical presence.  I want them to think of our Heavenly Father when they think of me.  I want so much for them that I feel so incapable of giving.  So I'm thankful that I can look to God and find my strength in Him.  I'm thankful that each day is a gift from Him to start anew - to be better - to be a brighter light - to be a more present Mommy.  

I don't know if this resonates with any of you, but - if anything - this post can help me stay accountable to you all who are reading this.  For you other mommies, how has God spoken to you throughout the years (whether it's been half a year or 30)?  I'm so thirsty for more parenting wisdom, so don't be shy - leave a comment!

Welcome Home, Maurah!

Yesterday was Maurah's homecoming anniversary. It seems funny to me that we've only been a complete family for a year because I can't imagine my life without both of these girls in it. I remember the day so vividly. My sister and brother-in-law were visiting, it was Adam's birthday, and we got the call that we could go and get our little girl...the last time we would have to visit the NICU! I rushed to throw myself into some clothes, not even showering. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses commented on how I looked, since I always tried to look at least somewhat presentable. However, this day, I was not taking any chances and wanted to get Maurah out before anyone could change their minds! It makes me laugh now, thinking how silly I must have looked in my green running shorts, pink and white tye-dyed t-shirt from my Senior year of high school and flip-flops. Not my finest fashion moment!

We were getting ready for the Senior Banquet that we hold for the seniors in our youth group every year (exactly what Jake and I are getting ready for right now!) and I got to bring both of my daughters with me, surprising the families in our church who had been praying so hard for us. I'm so sad because I don't have pictures of Maurah's actual homecoming. I was in such a rush to get her, I left our camera at home so we purchased a disposable one at the store - which Cole knocked into the pool on accident once we got home. Still, we have some great pictures from her first "formal event" at the Senior Banquet.

Maurah Kate, it is such a joy to have you with us, right where you belong. So many things are lovable about you!
  • I love how you raise your head to the ceiling and giggle - solely for the purpose of giggling!
  • I love how you shove your entire hand into your mouth when feeding yourself, missing most of the food, but looking so silly with Cheerios or cheese stuck to your face in the oddest of places.
  • I love how you walk around on your knees since you're not incredibly proficient at walking yet - but crawling just isn't for you!
  • I love how, when you do muster some steps, you hold your arms up in the air, cock your head back and stick out your tongue, concentrating so hard.
  • Your tongue! You make the cutest faces with your tongue hanging out of your mouth and you love the fact that you make us laugh with it.
  • I love how you bear crawl on the deck so you don't get splinters in your feet.
  • I love watching you knock down towers we build and the joyful laugh it brings.
  • I love how your hair is wild and never stays in one place - much like its owner's personality!
  • I love how you snuggle in the morning.
  • I love how you say "Dada" and "Mama".
  • Even though it's not nice, I love watching you mischievously steal a toy from Hayden - you are so sneaky!
  • I love playing "Bumblebee, Bumblebee" with you and hearing you giggle from the moment the "bumblebee" makes its appearance.
  • I love how you poke and pull at Dad's facial hair.
  • I love how you suck your thumb only when you're sad.
  • I love how you "dress" yourself by draping clothes over your head and all around you.
I can't believe it's been a year - - - I love my little Bear!


A Big Thank You!
While I wanted to be sure and write about Hayden's homecoming, I forgot to mention the details of my birthday weekend.  Honestly, I think it was the best birthday I've ever had.  I am overwhelmed by the kindness of friends and family, and the gifts and time they gave me for my special day.  Really, I had a whole birthday weekend!  My sister and her family came Friday night and we all ventured to Lincoln Park Zoo on Saturday morning.  Honestly, this could have been enough because going to the zoo with my kids is my absolute favorite thing to do and it was that much more special having the Roszkowskis there!  The kids were amazing - I think they really had a blast!  We ended the day with a cook-out of my favorite kind - burgers - and Heather made me a really yummy cake that I ate way too much of.  But hey!  It's my birthday, right?

On Sunday, Jake surprised me with good friends of ours coming over for yet another cook-out and some fun card playing.  Again, another one of my absolute favorite things to do!  Scott and Shelley made an array of homemade yumminess while Jake grilled all of our main dish - more meat!  We haven't had a get-together with these friends for quite some time, so it was another special event to have.  Between gift cards, sweetly sent birthday cards from family and friends, "just for me" gifts, a pedicure and manicure gift certificate and an awesome summer purse, I've been way too spoiled for my own good!  But the best part of it all was just the love and fun I shared with so many great people.  I am blessed!

And the biggest news...

We are adding another GIRL to our family!  Jake and I got to see the little peanut again yesterday and she is definitely a GIRL.  Jake turned to me and said, "Can you imagine when they're 14, 14 and 13?"  I said, "You think you'll have it bad, but do you know how girls are when they're those ages?  They're not mad at they're dad, they're mad at their mom pretty much all the time!"  Trust me, I was one of those girls.  I know these things!  

As much as we were secretly hoping for a boy, we were surprisingly not disappointed when we saw our little girl.  Cole, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.  We've been preparing him this last month or so since he would have to share a room with the baby if it was a boy.  He knew the baby's name we had in mind and everything.  Yesterday I said, "Cole, the baby in mommy's tummy isn't a boy, it's a girl."  He said, "But where's Christopher?"  Before I could say a thing, he said, "Did he turn...did he turn...I KNOW, Mommy!  Did he turn into a butterfly and fly away?"  


Now, what would you say in that situation?  How do you explain to a three year-old that Christopher does not exist and in fact, he never did!  Well, as any good mother would do, I nodded my head profusely and said, "Yes, honey, that's exactly what happened!  And now we have a girl!"  "Oh, okay!" said my satisfied toddler as he ran away.  I'm wondering how much therapy bills will be...

If you could keep us in prayers as we near the middle of this pregnancy, we would greatly appreciate it.  Issue that arose when I was pregnant with the twins are happening again, so we are a bit concerned about whether or not I'll end up on bedrest again.  Honestly, we just can't do it with three kids.  We need a miracle!

We are still working on a name for our little GIRL, so stay tuned! 

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...