target and devotions

For the past few months, we've been trying to do family devotions with our kids every morning.  It's a nice way to bring us all together before we each go off in different directions.

Now, before you begin to imagine a lovely, Spirit-filled quiet time with our children, I'd like to remind you that we have four kids under four years old.  Not to stomp on your daydreaming but let's head back to reality, okay?

Most of the time, our devotions last 5-10 minutes total.  This 5-10 minutes is an eternity for our kids to sit still and focus.  So.....who knew that Target's dollar bin would come to our rescue?  Right now, they have rugs in cute kids' prints for only $2.50 a pop.  $2.50!!!!

The teacher in me knew exactly what to do with this bargain.  I snatched a shark for Cole and three elephants for the girls....that's right, Laina gets a rug too!  Now, each child has their own space that they MUST sit on while listening to the story for the day.  See how that works out?
 I must tell you that we still don't have the quietest, most concentrated devotion times.  This morning, for instance, Hayden was rolling in her rug and Maurah had to make sure that she was copying Cole's every move, which only egged him on to be sillier.
Still, the rugs are helping us contain ourselves even just the teensiest bit more which makes for a very happy mom and dad.  And they still allow us to have fun as evidenced here!

Blogs and Beaches

Once again, I got the bloggy designing bug!  I just haven't been able to find a crisp, clean looking blog format so it's taken me a while and many attempts to finally get one I'm happy with.  However, I have done it!  Hold me to this, I am not changing the look of my blog for a very long time!  Seriously, hold me to it because three months (okay, weeks) from now, I'll be changing my mind again.  Some people change the look of their house...I change the look of my blog.  It's quicker and cheaper, which I know my guy is thankful for.  I'm sure he's also thankful for the fact that when I'm in the mood for some bright pinks and oranges, he doesn't have to be watching TV in the midst of them!  Ha!  All of this to say, thanks for not turning away and running every time you see all the changes going on over here!

On another note, we had a beach day this week!  Woohoo!  Thursday morning, we loaded ourselves into the van, all slathered with SPF 50 and headed to New Buffalo, MI where we spent a glorious afternoon on the most beautiful beach I've been in a long time.  The Michigander in me was so happy to be on a finely sanded on the East side of Lake Michigan (sorry to all of my fellow Hoosiers, but our beaches are all filled with rocks!).  We were a bit nervous about beaching it because last year this time, it was awful.  Hayden didn't like the sand, I was a pregnant whale at six months along amongst bathing beauties and it was hot, hot, hot!  Jake isn't usually a fan of the beach either.  He says he's just not a sand sort of guy.  But this time, friends...this time was wonderful.  
It was also a baby book filler as it was Laina's first trip to the beach!  Here's our little beach baby in all of her beachy cuteness.  
We received many comments on what a sweet family we were.  Sometimes I think it's so funny that people assume we're sweet just by looking at us.  Although, I guess I understand because, to be honest, I have picked my kids' doctors just by looking at their pictures online.  If they look friendly, I decide I like them.  So far, it's worked!
 Anyway, I think we just ask for a lot of attention with our four little ones in tow.  It doesn't hurt that they are incredibly cute either!  
 It was so wonderful, we're already planning on heading back in the not-too-far future.  Our goal is to get our kids to actually go into the lake by the end of summer.  For now, it's fun just to let them think they're brave by stepping a little step closer to shore and then running away when a wave breaks.  
To cap it off, here are my five most favorite people in the whole world.  Aren't they gorgeous? 

Happy Father's Day!!

Today I'm celebrating.  I've been given so many great gifts to be thankful for on this Father's Day.

First of all, I'm thankful for him.
My dad.  Without him, well, I wouldn't be here.  He's the one who passed on his love of teaching to me.  He's the one who stayed home from an important meeting to tell me I was worth loving when my middle school boyfriend dumped me for another girl.  He's the one who drove me to all of my choir practices and my big-time opera rehearsals.  The one who played "beauty shop" with me and let me put barrettes in his hair.  He's the one who taught me how a man should love his wife and his family and that I should find a husband who'd do the same.

Then, I'm thankful for him.

He's my Grandpa.  He's my Bubba.  He's no longer here with me but I think about him every year on this day.  After all, we spent the majority of Father's Days at his house, opening presents on the back deck with my Grandma cooking up some yummy food.  He was always gentle, patient, a man of few words but lots of love.  I miss him.

I'm also thankful for him.
He's my father-in-law.  We joke that I'm his favorite daughter-in-law and, though I'm the only one, I still like to be considered his favorite.  He's the one who is honest and full of integrity.  He's the one who is teaching my son to fish.  He's the one who taught another man I love what it means to be a man, to love his wife and his kids and to be devoted to them.

Then, there's this guy.
This guy rocks my world.  He's the guy I can't get enough of.  He's the guy who was crazy brave enough to have four children in 3 1/2 years with me.  The one who brings me coffee every morning while I'm still in bed with the covers over my head. 
 The one who is willing to hold my purse and the baby in the mall.  He's the guy I love to watch turn into a softy with his girls and still ask for kisses from his son.  He's the guy who comes home every day and plays with these kids so I can make dinner in peace. 
He's the guy I could stay up all night with talking about nothing and everything.  The one I love to dance with, to dream with, to fall asleep on his lap while he watches football.  The one who listened to his dad about what it means to be a man.  I'm happy to say I listened to mine as well.  He's the guy I'm proud to call the father of my kids and who is passing on a love for our Heavenly Father to them. 
 This guy.  My guy.  I love him.

Laina Rose - 8!!!

Dear Laina,

You are eight months old today!  My gosh, the time has flown by so quickly.  What are you up to these days?
You are 26 1/2 inches long and weigh 18 1/2 pounds....a.k.a. you're super fun to squish and squeeze.  :)
Your hair is coming in pretty dark and very thick.  When it's humid out, it curls just a bit on the top....curls like your sisters'?  We'll see!
You LOOOOOVE to eat!  Seriously, you're still nursing every 3 hours and eating 3 square meals on top of that.  To think I was ever worried about you not eating enough in the beginning just makes me laugh now.
You are starting to have a fear of men, which is fine with us, especially since that fear does not include your father.  If you would like, you may keep this fear going for at least the next thirty years of your life.  Please and thank you.
You still sit up with the best of them and you are so flexible!  I truly think no toy has been out of your reach once yet.....very impressive!
We're working on crawling, although you're not too amused.  We put you on all fours and you just lay your head on the floor, butt in the air.  You're as cute as can be but not highly motivated it seems.  Maybe if we dangle some yummies in front of you, you'll try and move a bit more.  :)
You are in LOOOOOVE with your big brother.  Heaven only knows why since he is constantly tackling you and sticking his dirty fingers in your face but you do.
You have this new smile with a scrunched up nose that is to die for.
Yep.  There it is.  Cutest.Thing.Ever. 
You have two new teeth!  Both of your bottom middles finally came in!  Way to on to some REAL Cheerios or something exciting like that!
We just got your first swimsuit!  I cannot wait to take you on your first trip to the beach.  You already defy the "typical baby" stereotypes and love the textures of grass and sand so I'm sure we'll have loads of fun!
You are such a joy to have in our family.  We all love you to pieces and can't get enough of kissing your sweet cheeks.  I could use up the entire battery life of my camera just to keep getting shots of you and all of your cuteness.  Don't believe me?  Here's proof!
Happy 8 months, Laina!  Please don't let the next four go by so quickly!  I'm not ready to have you be 1!  Eek!!!

Two Years Ago Today....

Two years ago today was a very special day in this household.  It was the day that we finally became a family of five.  If you don't know our story, you can see it on my other blog here.

Life has been a bit unsettled lately and while God has definitely given me peace about much of it, He has allowed me to see something that I hadn't really seen before.  I see it in the eyes of my kids; in their laughs; in their tears; especially in their squeezes and kisses.  It's the realization that, no matter what happens, we are a family (now a family of six I might add!).  No matter where we go or what we do, we will all be together for at least the next 14 years, Lord willing.  I like that.  I love that.

The journey we were on this time 2 1/2 years ago was rough.  Much of the time the road was rocky.  Many times I lost hope.  But then God would be the amazing God that He is and would give me glimmers of promise.  I can't fully explain how watching our two girls be so frail and so sick has affected me.  How the pain that I wasn't able to care for them, nurse them or even bond with them is still etched in me.  Every once in a while, that pain rushes to the surface and I'm struck that it's still there.  I'm finally at a point now that I want to turn that pain into celebration.  Like it or not, that pain was a part of my life and will always be a part of me.

But here's the thing - so will belting out Disney songs with Maurah.  So is tickling and giggling with Hayden.  Playing playdough, pushing swings, dancing, snuggling, kissing owies, cooking together - all of these are joys.  Joys that I need to be thankful for every day because it was only just 2 1/2 years ago that these joys could have been taken before I had even known one of them.  I want to remember the road we've traveled with the girls and really, just celebrate our anniversary with them.  They don't know the difference but I do.  May 23rd and June 6th of 2008 will always be special days.

Here's a video....celebrate with us!
(You'll want to pause the automatic music.)

2 Years Ago Today from Megan Manne on Vimeo.


I'm not good at waiting.  I'd love to think that I sit patiently before God and just twirl my finger in the gold dust on the floor of His throne room until He answers my questions.  He looks down at me with a smile on His face, so pleased with this daughter of His who easily waits without becoming anxious or annoyed.

Every day around 4 P.M., I wish that I could change my name from "Mommy" to something else.  Maybe Gabriella.  Or Jacqueline.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get tired of hearing those names screamed over and over and over again.  (I'm pretty sure my kids wouldn't be able to pronounce them!)  I don't know how many times a day I answer, "Just a minute, please!" while I get things in order so I can best serve the kids.  Much to their chagrin, it's not always possible for me to drop everything and do what they want right then and there.  Sometimes I just plain say "no".  Then, they unveil the tears and the tantrums and the whining.  Oh, the whining.

Don't they know that I'm trying to do the best I can?  Don't they realize that sometimes other things have to be set in place before I'm able to give them what they want?  Don't they know I love them and I would do anything I possibly could for them as long as it's in their best interest?  Sometimes they have the nerve to act like I'm trying to do anything BUT love them! is the part where we reach conviction.

Don't you know I love you?  Don't you know that I'm doing what's best because I know what's best and in your best interest even more than you do?  Even if I say no?  And, should I say yes, don't you realize that I have to move and rearrange other things in order to give you the best possible circumstances and to work everything according to My will?  

So, I guess the picture painted is really more like one that takes place in my kitchen pretty much every day.  Where I'm at God's feet, pulling on His leg, unveiling my tears and kicking the gold dust at His feet during my tantrums.  I'm sure He doesn't always mind the tears.  He's much more compassionate than I am.  But oh, the whining.

I'm so glad that God is patient with my waiting skills that resemble that of a toddler's.  Oftentimes my kids will give up and just walk away and, to be honest, oftentimes I'm thankful they do.  God is different in this way though.  He sticks around when we're calling out to Him over and over and over again.  Not only does He stick around, He draws us in and we see more of Him than we can from the distance away where we began.

Many people quote Jeremiah 29:11 but I've found that 29:12 and 13 are far greater:  "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

 Better than any answer to any of my pleas is the truth that the more I search, the more I find God.  The more I am still and abiding in Him, there will I find peace.

I'm at such a tender place of trusting Him with so many different things right now.  But I know that He is good all the time and I'm thankful He lets me approach His throne at all.  This brings a sweet comfort and pushes me to want to be all the more patient.

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...