Dear Laina Rose,

I want to remember you just this way at just this time.  Everything about you is so much fun.  If I could freeze time with you, I would choose now.

I love how you wake up and I hear you saying, "Mama".

I love how you play peek-a-boo with Dad over my shoulder. 

I love how you play peek-a-boo all by yourself and smack your head silly covering up your eyes.  Not one of us is able to keep a straight face when you do this!

I love, love, love when you lay your head on my shoulder and give me a sweet snuggle.  Makes my day every time.

I love how you scrunch your nose when you smile.

I love how your eyes so easily sparkle.

I love how you dance to music and sing "Buzz Buzz."

I love singing "Lida Rose" to you from the Music Man, inserting your name instead.  You have no idea what I'm doing but someday I hope you think it's special. 

I love watching you with other kids.  You are not the least bit intimidated by anyone, no matter their size.  Your friendly personality is contagious.

I just love holding you and squishing you as tightly as I can.  As hard as I try to not think of you as my baby, you are.  And I'm sorry to tell you that this probably won't go away soon.  I already tear up thinking of you starting school someday and not being home with me all day.  So just be prepared for when you're 16 and want to drive and date.  It's not going to be an easy time for either of us!

But for now, this is you and I love the now with you.


5 Things...

Here are five things I want to be sure and remember about this Christmas:

1.  Reading a devotion with the kids first thing Christmas morning and instilling the real meaning of Christmas in their hearts.

2.  The way Laina's eyes twinkled in the Christmas lights.

3.  How every one of our kids did a super job waiting for their turn to open presents and said thank you to each gift-giver.  I couldn't have been more proud.

4.  This look on Hayden's face as she opened her "Tinka-bell"! 

5.  How the words to "O Holy Night" took on an even deeper meaning to me this year and how I want my New Year's Resolution to be that I "fall on my knees" every day in 2011 because my soul has "felt its worth" since He appeared.  I pray that you have received this incredible gift too.

I hope you and your families have had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Just in case you haven't made your cookies for Santa yet, here is my very.favorite.ever sugar cookie recipe.  I just made up a batch for the kids and I to decorate tomorrow.  We have to be prepared when the big guy makes his appearance at our place Friday night!

Christmas Eve Cookies

1 cup butter/margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Dump in the flour, salt and baking powder and mix well.  Stir in vanilla and mix even better than before.  Cover and chill 1 hour.  Roll out on floured board and cut with cookie cutters.  Bake on ungreased sheet at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

We always make some vanilla frosting and decorate according to our shapes.  Seriously, these things are so EASY which is one of my favorite parts about them.  Another favorite part is eating the dough....I could probably eat the entire bowl before I even baked the cookies!  This recipe is from my Grandma's church cookbooks.  In my opinion, church cookbooks are the very best place to find yummy recipes, don't you think?

So don't read any further....Go!  Make some cookies for Santa!  And if Santa just so happens to be you, well, enjoy!!

Photo Shoot

These two are










My girls

Man, I love these two.

Well, this won't do much good....

Jake went out before church yesterday to fire up the snow blower for the first time in, well, a few years, actually.  The only problem was, the snow blower did not want to fire up!  So Jake, being the great guy that he is, decided he would shovel our drive.  The good, old fashioned, get blisters on your hands even though you have gloves on chore of shoveling.  The only problem with that was this:

About two shovels of the heavy snow and the darn thing broke.  I guess we weren't in the market for a clear driveway yesterday...or today for that matter!  We are home from school today on our first snow day of the year!  I don't know about you, but I'm always thankful for a good snow day where we can all just bundle up together.  It just makes the day feel a little more special and fun sometimes!

Prayers Answered!

Well, friends, it's been a long time!  I am happy to report that I am back in the land of the Internet!


Jake and I have moved into a nice little home in Sparta, the next town over from good ol' K.C., and have been prepping our home for holiday fun ever since we stepped in the door.  I have been praying so hard for a place of our own since Jake's parents so graciously allowed us to live with them.  I have to be honest, though...we bring a lot of loot with us since we have four little ones and a lot of time, our "loot" can be in the form of some pretty awesome tantrums.  It is NOT easy being consistent and dealing with those things in someone else's home.  So now, we're all cozy in our little house where I can allow "screaming it out" galore!  Ha!

Boy, has it been a crazy few months.  My last post was a sincerely sad one about my friend Amy.  Three weeks later, we got a call from a former student of ours, saying that another dear friend had passed away.  This news was devastating.  Our friend, Larry, is "Miss Donna's" husband, and dad to one of my best friends and favorite students.  We spent the week with the Krygiers and are so thankful that my parents could watch the kids so we could have that time with them.

A couple more weeks later, my dad was in a very scary car accident.  Thankfully, everyone was okay but there was definitely concern to be had.  I sat in my in-laws' backyard and cried so hard.  All of this tragedy, Jake not hearing anything on a job front and other surprising events happening in loved ones' lives around us - it was a time that I started to doubt God.  Not His existence, but whether His plan really was perfect.  Why wasn't He moving the way we needed Him to?  Was Jake being punished for stepping away from the ministry position he had?  Would we ever be in ministry again?  Would these hearts, so aching, ever be mended?

Of course, God always proves that He is never-changing, never-failing, and always perfect.  He's always working behind the scenes.  While we see a dry desert before us, He sees every grain of sand and how they are all pieced together.

Jake and I had come to a point where we could depend on no one else but God.  I think - no, I know - God really likes it that way.  We knew we had to get into our own place by December 6th for family reasons (which you'll see in a moment).  Check out what's happened just in this last week:

  • Would you believe that He gave us a home on December 5th?!  We fit perfectly in our 3-bed ranch!
  • Jake began working at a factory on the 6th as a temporary job.  He was pretty much guaranteed to only have a week of work.  We were nervous about what would happen in January when we had no income.  THEN - Jake was given at least one more week of work and most likely two!
  • Jake received a call and some emails from a few different churches who are interested in him!  We were really wondering how long it would be before we'd be back in full-time ministry - a passion and love we just can't be rid of!  We are super excited to see where all of this goes.
God is so great.  He does always provide RIGHT when we need it.  He knows so much better than we do what is best for us.  I seem to need this reminder constantly.  Could you please join with us in praying for a couple of things?
  • Jake also has a couple of tests to take for a job with the city of Grand Rapids which will more than cover all of our monthly bills!  Please pray that he passes these tests and it's the Lord's will for him to have this job.  We would know that we would be financially secure for the next few months then....although, depending on the Lord to provide for our daily needs is a pretty exciting adventure.  :)
  • That the kids would adjust well to their new home.  So far, they're loving it but we still need to settle in a bit more.  I am really praying that having our own place will allow us a bit more consistency with them and that I can find a good routine for all of us again.  These last few days have been a bit tricky.
  • Please pray that something might work out with one of these churches.  One in particular is incredibly attractive to us and they are being so supportive with us wanting to stay here until Cole finishes his school year.  This particular church is in the Milwaukee area.  While we don't want to be far away from family again, we are really missing serving God through full-time ministry and pray that our wait won't be long.
 Here is our newest blessing that came on December 6th, just as planned!  My sister-in-law, Emily, and her husband, Matt, had their firstborn son, Jameson Matthew Teesdale!

I'm so happy for them!  I am thrilled beyond measure that we live close to them now so we can snuggle this little guy as often as we want.

And Cole is loving that he has another boy cousin!

Isn't he just precious?  Congratulations, Emily and Matt!!

Hope and Loss

Two nights ago, I lost a dear friend.  I met Amy when I was 18 and she was 26.  Her husband had just been hired as the worship pastor at the church I had just started attending with Jake.  Shortly after they moved here, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I really didn't know her that well, but knew that I wanted to/was able to help in some way and I started babysitting for their little one year-old, Katelyn, while Amy and Josh went to her appointments.  Who knew at that time what she would become for me?

Seven years later, I'm in the hospital with the twins who are about to come early at 24 weeks.  The fear and worry that encased me was paramount.  In the midst of doctors and medicines and everyone's well wishes from afar, I was drowning in the idea of losing my babies and the grief that would ensue.  I shut down.  Right or wrong, I felt like no one I knew understood what I was feeling so I would keep it all to myself instead.

Enter Amy.

Amy delivered her twin girls early and even lost one of them right away.  When she found out what was going on with us three hours away, she started emailing me almost every day.  She was the one person I felt I could be myself with.  Many of my emails would have been tear-stained had they been on paper.  Many were venting.  Many were filled with jokes and fun crafts to occupy my time in the hospital.  Some of those craft ideas I used in the girls' nursery.  She wrote me ahead of time, letting me know what to expect once the twins were born, how I could bond with them and that everything I was feeling was normal.  I can't tell you how nice that was when I felt I had to play a part for the many other people that pranced around saying, "I know they'll be fine" when I felt like a failure for even having them here so early in the first place! 

Amy inspired me to write.  The whole reason I even have this blog is because of Amy.  She gave me the idea to write about what was happening and then even designed my blog about the twins.  I am so thankful to her for being my earthly rock during that time.  I could confide in her like no one else at the time, even Jake.  She was there, encouraging and lighting the way with her love and support for the both of us.  She understood how your marriage takes a hard hit when stress levels hit the ceiling.  She understood the depression that comes after your babies are born too early and you can't bond with them.  She understood the helplessness and helped turn it into hopefulness.  She really is such a huge part of me making it through that time, not only in one piece, but better than I was before.  God used her greatly.

The incredible thing is, I know she did this for so many people besides me.  In her almost nine years of fighting cancer, she gave hope and love to so many.  Whether it was through her circle of friends who were also battling cancer, the other pastor's wives in the church, or just a bunch of us watching her from afar as her faith remained strong through it all.

One of the last times I got together with Amy was in Illinois at a Best Brands Resale.  We met at the Starbucks by her hotel and had such a great visit laughing at funny stories about our kids and talking about food and shopping.  It was so lighthearted and carefree and just...wonderful.

We will miss her here and I ask for prayers for her husband and especially her two little girls.  They will miss their mommy for sure.  I'm so thankful for the truth that she is in Heaven and is completely cancer free now.  It's been a battle she has been fighting for so long and now she can reign victorious with Jesus.  Praise God.


Okay, so who knew that we were already in the middle of October?  Seriously!  Where in the world is the time going?

My writing has been a little lacking, wouldn't you say?  And it isn't for lack of things going on in life that I'm not putting pen to paper....or fingers to keys.  Quite the contrary.  I have so many different things on my mind, it's CHOOSING what to write about that's the problem.

I've read that the key to a successful blog is to be consistent in posting and even to post ahead so that you're planned out and have interesting things for people to consider throughout their day.  Obviously, I'm not in the market for having a "successful" blog.  I am, however, keeping it real and sticking to my original purpose for writing, which is trying to keep in touch.  It used to be keeping in touch with family and now it's keeping in touch with whomever is "out there".  But it's also become a place to keep in touch with who is right

It's easy to fall into comfort here and when you're in comfort, you don't often stop to notice what's happening around you - or inside of you.  I picture it like slinking into a large, soft, feather-full duvet where I just close my eyes and fall asleep to anything outside of myself.  Yeah, some days are like that.

Then, other days are so filled with emotion and reality that I don't know what to deal with first and I'm spinning around and around on a ride much like the one Jake affectionately calls the Tilt-a-Hurl.  It's not pretty.


I'm looking for some balance and hoping that if I spew out everything happening here, I will be able to find some rhythms in life again.

So just a warning:  I can pretty much guarantee that the next few postings will be anything but pretty and most likely anything but insightful.  They will probably mean nothing to anyone but myself.  I encourage you that, if you're bored, just walk away.  But, if you're kooky like me and like to see what other people's REAL lives are like, read on!  We can make my solo therapy session a group therapy!

 I just had a friend post on Facebook that if you want to go fast, go alone.  But if you want to go far, go together.  I love that.  I guess that would be my interesting thought for the day....although stolen, it's filled with hope.  And I've been needing some hope.

Two Little Monkeys

While the brother is away...

...the sisters will climb!

Maurah and Hayden have found a new fascination at their Grandpa and Grandma's...TREES! 

The last couple of days, while Cole was at school and the girls were getting cabin fever, we've taken them outside and have been climbing trees.  The first day, only Hayden was really interested in climbing. 
(Ugh...this picture makes me think of senior pictures...I do NOT want to go there.)

Maurah did for a little bit but I think just so she wasn't outdone by her little sister.  We started on this tree...a very sturdy, yet very mild form of tree. 

It's near impossible for them to go much higher than this, which this momma really likes.  Then, I walked outside yesterday to find them in this gargantuan of a tree! 

Of course it was their dad who introduced this big fella to them!  They were having the time of their lives!  Maurah was just as much into it as Hayden and, in fact, climbed up the highest all by herself! 

It was so fun to be taking these pictures of them. 
Again, senior portrait worthy.  These have GOT to stop!
I think their smiles tell it all, don't you?  Who knew all the fun we were missing out on by not having a yard at our last house?  Note to self:  next house MUST have trees.
Have a happy go-monkey day!

Cole's First Day of Preschool!

Cole's first day went great.  Neither of us cried...I was so proud of BOTH of us!  He was such a brave little man.  I can't believe we've started the school stage.  I said to Jake yesterday, "Do you realize that we will be a part of school for at least the next 18 years starting today?"  Craziness.  Here are some of our first day memories...

Winning the Race

We've had some bad days.  While the move did go well like I posted earlier, we have had some bad days.  Not terrible, but not too pleasant either.  There are lots of tantrums, screaming, arguing, hitting, hair pulling and whining.  I realize this comes with the territory of having two two year-olds and a four year-old but I'm also noticing a pattern.

The other day Cole had to be at his school at 9 A.M. for his preschool open house.  I dropped the twins off with his mom (just one of the perks of her working at the school!) and then rushed Cole and Laina to the elementary to be on time.  I wanted to be "The Mom."  You know, the one who has everything perfectly organized, her child perfectly groomed...and then you throw in my love for and experience in the classroom and I think I've got this role of "The Mom" made.  I'm a shoe-in!


What happened instead was me not getting all of us out the door in time, forgetting to wipe Cole's face from his cinnamon toast breakfast, putting his important medical form in my purse with Laina's uncapped bottle, only to have it leak all over my cell phone, wallet and melting that medical form to sticky shreds.  In the midst of yelling at Cole while he threw a fit that he didn't get to play on the playground like the twins, holding the door to the kids' bedroom shut with Maurah having an outrageous tantrum on the other side and multiple other little events that could mirror both of these images I've portrayed, I came across this post and I realized that I'm not "The Mom."  I'm "That Mom."  "That Mom" is the one that's always rushing because she never leaves herself enough time.  "That Mom" is always checking off her list but nothing ever seems to get accomplished.  "That Mom" can get overwhelmed at the littlest of things.  "That Mom" is forgetful and one of the biggest things she forgets is how her kids need her.  I never wanted to be "That Mom."

I'm realizing that a lot of my kids' negative behaviors are a result of a behavior either Jake or I have shown them or the fact that I don't leave enough room in my schedule...a.k.a. my just love on my kids.  When the fighting happens, I'm typically not in the room.  When the tantrums happen, we're usually hurrying somewhere or other.  When my kids throw fits at the word "no", it's probably because I've used it an awful lot that day.  I realize they're selfish too and want what they want when they want it....but mostly, it's me choosing to want other things over time on the floor, engaging in their worlds.  How hard is it to eat a delicious meal the girls have made in their kitchen set?  Or to build a fun city with Cole's blocks?  Or to sing songs and dance silly with Laina in tow?  You would think that sounds more fun than checking off a cleaning list, wouldn't you?

This is one of my favorite pictures of Hayden.  It's a little blurry but I still love it.  Jake had just gotten done building this robot with Cole and the girls and they were all so proud of the time and effort they took to make him together.

How crazy to think that moments like these can be had whenever a list is completed.  I may not be "The Mom" and, while I'm sure there will be many times that I'll be "That Mom," the most important thing is that I'm their mom...and I want to be a mom who really was there.

Life in the Mitten State

We are here!  Officially Michiganders again.

The move went incredibly well.  We are all settling in and meeting up with old friends and family members we haven't seen very much these last four years.  All in all, this is the very best place for us to be.  Of course, it's not the ideal situation to move four little kids and two adults in with their parents but it has worked out so well, I just know that God's hand was in our moving here.  Jake's parents have been so accommodating and pretty much moved all of their furniture out so we could bombard them with our clothes and toys of every sort.

We have kept very busy already in just our first week here.  We had lots of meetings to get Cole signed up and ready for preschool (Monday is his first day!), we've attended football games and the fall carnival and Jake was in Ohio all day yesterday for a job interview.  The meeting went really well and they're already down to the job being between Jake and one other guy.  We should know next Monday if they're pursuing just him or not.  Of course, in the middle of his interview, another church in Three Rivers called him, wanting to take their interviewing process with him further too.  When it rains, it pours!  

Could you please pray for us to have clarity in all of these decisions?  I almost wrote to pray that the church in Ohio would work out (and, if I'm honest, this is what we really want) but I know that ultimately we want God's will.  We always tell our kids that God's will is better than anything we could want, even if it doesn't seem that attractive from the get-go.  I'm trying to keep that perspective now myself.  It's funny how it's easy to "teach" something and much harder to really learn it, isn't it?  So, any prayers for God's will in our lives are greatly appreciated and so coveted!

Also, if you could keep our kids in your prayers, I couldn't be more grateful.  Every once in a while, we notice how they're struggling with our move a bit.  Whether it's praying for our "old" blue house, asking for friends, or just acting out in general, it's obvious they're in a stage of adjustment.  I'm a bit leery of moving again for this very reason.  We're just getting them settled only to uproot them again?  I worry especially about Cole with all of the newness happening in his life...a new home, a new town, new friends, new school, new's hard to watch him sometimes. 

I keep reminding myself that God is not just my God or just Jake's God.  My God is Father to all of us, including my children.  He loves them more than I could ever imagine to and He has a plan for them in all of this too.  The question isn't just, "Where is God leading Jake and Megan?" but "Where is God leading Cole, Maurah, Hayden and Laina too?"  After all, He knows who their friends will be, what school they'll attend, etc.  He's got it all under control!  I forget and tend to want to control those things myself for them.

We're on a journey, that's for certain.  It will be exciting to see just how God moves in all of this.  For now, we're treating this time as a sabbatical to just enjoy our family, make some good routines and habits and love on each other like we haven't really focused on doing in a very long time.  There's a certain kind of freedom we have now to do these things.  It's like a breath of fresh air.  I'm looking at this time as a time to treasure.  I don't know when/if I'll ever have days with Jake home all of the time again and, already, our full days at home with all of the kids are coming to an end.  God is using this season to bring something great out of it for our family, I just know it.  Thanks for being a part of our journey!

3 Seams & Laina's Birthday

I have the most exciting news!

We are teaming up with Inga over at '3seams' to raise money for her wonderful ministry!  First of all, if you haven't ever heard of '3seams', you must go over and read about it RIGHT NOW!  It's such a wonderful idea!  I told Inga that I love how God is so amazing, He gifts us with talents and passions and then is able to use those special gifts - whatever they are - to spur on His love and His grace to others. 

So, here's the deal.  For Laina's first birthday party, we will be asking for no gifts since she has the 1 year-old world at her fingertips, thanks to three older siblings.  Instead, we're asking for donations to support '3seams'

What's even MORE exciting is that Laina will be wearing the dress that Inga has made for her at her birthday party.  She will be so cute!

What's BEYOND EVEN THAT exciting is that Inga is making a trip to Haiti on September 16th and will have the duplicate dress that she gives to a little girl there which means that we will have the picture of this precious girl by Laina's birthday and will get to celebrate her too!

I'm beyond giddy.  I really thought this wouldn't work out for some reason or another.  I also thought that I might end up talking to some customer representative from the company or something, so when Inga emailed me back and shared with me how excited she was to make this happen, my soul went soaring. 

Even with all of the chaos happening in our lives right now, we are planning on doing a much larger party than usual in order to get as much money as we can to support this great cause.  You can donate too!  If you would like to be a part of this and give Laina a birthday present that will make a difference in the world, please let me know!  Either email me or leave a note in the comments section that you would like me to contact you with info on how to do it.  Of course, you can always go to the '3seams' website too!

Please pray for us in these next coming weeks that God will move hearts to give generously so we can make a change and bless the children and the families of Haiti!

More Love

I cannot get enough of this baby.  I know I'm biased but I truly think she is the cutest baby ever born.  Well....ever born in the year of 2009.  There are some other pretty cute kids born in 2006 & 2008 that I know of.  However, this little bug of mine takes the cake on modeling.  I could sit and look at her all day.  And then, as if the real thing wasn't great enough, I could sit and edit photos of her all night.  She melts me with just one look of her gray/green eyes and when she says "Mama"'s all over from there.  I love her.

Summer Loves

I've just been writing and writing lately and pretty much none of it has been about any of my favorite moments of summer!  Here are some pictures for you non-Facebook friends of mine (and because Facebook's quality of photos is so crummy) and also for those who turn to the blog for all of the pertinent the cuteness of our kids!  And, yes, I'm really speaking to you, Grandma Janet! :)

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...