Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thunder & "Pretty School"

Spring has arrived. I know this not because of the sunnier days, or the warmer weather, or the budding plants. Rather, the rain has arrived. The snow has turned to rain. And the storms have brought with it thunder and lightning.

I know I've been away from Florida long enough when I see lighting and hear thunder and think about how weird it is, how long it's been since I've seen/heard/felt them. It also brings a peace, an "I'm home" feeling.

Thunderstorms in this Ohio valley are far different from the ones in Florida. For one, storms in Florida last about 20-30 minutes in the spring and summer, leaving you with warm sunshine and thick humidity the rest of the day. Here they last all day. The thunder is also different. The thunder rumbles longer. We are surrounded by mountains. The thunder will roar its sound, and the sound echoes over and over.

We had a thunderstorm as Cooper was going to bed one evening. As I was walking out of Cooper's bedroom, I heard him.

Mom, I'm scared of the thunder.

I turned around, knelt down next to him, grabbed and brushed his hand with mind. "Cooper, the Bible tells us over and over again 'Don't be afraid, for I am with you, Don't be afraid for I and with you, Don't be afraid for I am with you.' Who's always with us?"

He pointed to his belly. (Jesus lives in us, and to Cooper, that means his belly.)

And who is that?


"Right. We don't ever have to be afraid because Jesus and God are always with us. And God is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than anything and anyone, ever. And he will protect us. He has given us our house to protect us from the rain and thunder tonight."

...which when into a quick discussion about why our house protects us from thunderstorms...

I then told Cooper about how some people say the sound of thunder is God playing bowling in heaven, which made him smile.

Then I reiterated: "You don't have to be afraid tonight. Jesus is with you."

Another brush of the hand, a kiss on the forehead, and I headed downstairs. This time with a prayer, "Lord, may he be brave, bold, and courageous because he has You. Help us light his path to You."

. . .

The next afternoon, we had another conversation.

Mom, when I'm seven I'll go to pretty school, right?

"No, bub. You'll go to pre-school in September. That's just a few months from now and you will be four. "

No, I'm talking about pretty school. When will I go to pretty school?

(Thinking: you don't ever need to take pretty are as handsome as they come...) 
"Pretty school isn't a thing. It's called pre-school. You'll go to preschool, then kindergarten, then 1st grade...and I spoke all the grades to 12th grade. Then guess what? You'll graduate and go to college and you'll move away. You'll be on your own!"

Tears came immediately. 

Fear consumed his face.

"But I don't want to be on my own."

Don't worry, that's not until you're 18. It's a long time from now. And if you decide you want to stay home, you can. But remember what we talked about last night? You're never alone. You'll never be alone. 

He leaned into me for a hug. 

And another prayer was uttered. "Lord, may he learn to give his fears to you. May he choose to walk into the unknown when he's 18. May he be confident and trusting in you."

How do you help your children overcome their fears? I'm not sure of the best answer to this question, being only 4 years into the whole parenting gig. However, I'm confident the answer lies in turning him to Jesus every time.

Cooper, I hope and pray that one day you embrace the life you can have with Jesus. A life where you can walk into unknown situations with confidence. A life where you can tackle your fears. A life where you can be bold, brave, and courageous. Jesus can give you all these things. You just have to let Him. I pray than when you're old enough to understand it all, you let Him.  -Mom.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Praying for his future.

Cooper and I have been home for about two days from a trip to Florida. While I will write more about the trip later, there is something I wanted to share.

On this trip Cooper and I had a lot of alone time. We did a lot of special things together. One of those days I took him to the beach. It was "cold" and cloudy, but we made the most of it and had a great time. Driving to the beach that day I prayed for him and his future wife. I prayed that he would take her special places. I prayed that the example I'm giving him of meeting his love language will help him learn how to love his wife.

Then once at the beach, I pondered his future. Who will be the one who captures his heart? I really hope its a girl who loves Jesus. I really hope she builds a life with him the way I built a sand castle with him that day. By listening, working together, and lots of smiling. I really hope she looks at him and smiles with her whole being. I really hope she takes walks with him. I really hope she sits by him. I really hope she can handle his quirks, his personality, his zeal. And so I prayed for her. I prayed God would set her apart, and help form her into the woman that Cooper will need, will love.

When we left the beach, my heart was so full. Cooper really is growing up. There is so little control that I have in all of that. But there's power in handing it all over to God. Letting him have control of Cooper's future. That day on the beach I gave a piece of that future over to Him. Which is maybe why this beach trip holds a special place in my heart. I made this video for Cooper to help remember the special day that it was.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cooper's 4th Birthday

We celebrated a little differently this year.

We spent the night before his birthday at a friends house, who was out of town, and who needed some help with her girls in the morning. Well, God sent a snow storm that night and school was cancelled for the girls! So, in the morning we all ate some cereal together, and then they all had a cupcake for breakfast dessert. And they gave him a gift. What guy doesn't want to be surrounded by 4 older, beautiful girls on his birthday?

Andrew took the day off. A big step in the life of Andrew Sale. He realized how quickly time is going. He realized Cooper was really going to be four. We had a conversation one night about how he usually saves his days off for something "important" and he realized that something important was going to be eighteen one day and walking out our door. So, take off the day he did. (Thanks for loving Cooper in that way, babe.

Cooper's love language is quality time. So, we planned to just spend the day, doing things with him. I came up with the idea to put each activity to a little rhyme, and before we did anything, he got an index card that told him what we were going to do next. I put all the cards together and drew a picture on the back so that when he got all his pieces, he could put them together like a puzzle.

Wouldn't you know it - - - he was more interested in collecting the pictures than he was hearing what was next. #stinker #helovesmarioandluigi

So, Cooper's activities were:
  • Donut with his animal friends
  • A ride in his new seat.
  • A hunt in target for a new game.
  • Playing that game and lunch at Chick-fil-A
  • Lego Movie and Lego movie book.
  • Vanilla Milk from Starbucks
  • A new TMNT toy from Toys R Us.
  • Spaghetti Dinner
  • Cake. 

It was great to spend the day with him.

It was also great to see how loved he is. Many of you wrote to him on Facebook to say happy birthday. We also got a video message from two of his friends, some phone calls where people sang to him and some cards. It makes my mama heart so happy to see how he is loved. 

One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing him verbalize while he was trying to figure out the whole birthday thing. 
"I don't feel different."
"I don't feel four."
"Do I go to preschool now?"
"My legs are longer?"
"Do I talk different?"
"I've never been four before."

Thanks to those of you who helped us celebrate Cooper this year, through being with us, through your cards, videos, messages, and through your face time calls. We love you. We're thankful for you.

Friday, February 28, 2014

cooper as luigi

Cooper really loves to dress up and pretend he's Luigi.

He wears Florida Gator hat because it's his "Ice Luigi Hat."

He wears his brown boots because Luigi wears brown boots.

He wears a fake mustache.

And, he throws around this koopa shell at the bad guys. 

He even has a particular way he runs when we plays as Luigi.
"Mom, come see all the Mario characters."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Boy Genius and his Wii U

Friday was a big day for Cooper. 

1) He had his 4 year well visit. 
We switched pediatricians and this was our first time seeing the new dr. Upon the first few minutes, he told me, after asking Cooper some questions, that he wasn't able to understand Cooper as much as he should, and that he might need speech therapy. He also told me about some tips I could do at make sure he annunciates. I just kind of laughed about it, and knew the idea was bogus. 

Fast forward 10 minutes. Cooper has opened up and is chatting the dr.'s ear off. The dr asks him routine questions "what's your full name" "can you draw these shapes", etc. When it was done, the Dr looked at me and said "You can forget about me ever saying anything about speech therapy. Apparently, he's a genius." 

Cooper had to get 2 shots. Polio and Chickenpox. He hated it and cried quite a bit.  But, he got a donut after. #4yearoldwin
We are really thankful for him.
For his health. 
For his growth.

2) Cooper got a Wii U
Cooper loves Mario. He has been wanting some of the new games to play on the wii. However, we had an old wii and the games he wanted to play wouldn't work with our old system.  So a few months ago, I told him that if he saved enough of his money for half, we would pay for the other half. 

I expected this goal to take about a year.

In actuality, it took about 3 months. Christmas and birthday money for the win!

Friday night we headed out to Target to get his wii. 

We are really proud of him. 
For saving. 
For having a goal. 
For meeting his goal. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

when a son teaches his mom.


Needing a break.

No break in sight.

It's late.

My husband is away for the night.

It's well past bedtime.

I'm trying to brush Cooper's teeth.

He keeps crying and whining.

I loose it.

I yell.

I hurt his feelings.

After I finish brushing, I tell him I'm sorry for hurting him. I tell him I'm sorry that I yelled. I ask for his forgiveness.

Once he is ready for bed, I ask if I can just hold him. Holding him and being still somehow made it all better.

I wanted this to be another teachable moment for Cooper. I want him to know that I can't do things on my own. I want him to know that I need Jesus. So, a conversation began.

"Cooper, mommy had to tell Jesus she was sorry tonight."


"Because I've not been nice to you or daddy this evening. I'm tired, and I've said and done things because of being tired." 

Cooper's response: "but you do so many things for us."

That was the end of the conversation. Instead of teaching my son, he taught me.

My character with Cooper is consistent. My "loosing it" moments don't happen very often, and when they do, I always tell him I'm sorry. Because I do so many things for him, it's easier for him to let the bad moments slide. I had a moment where I didn't do well at loving my child, but he still knows I love him. He knows I'll continue to do things for him. He knows I will still take care of him. That brought me so much comfort.

But how much more God cares for us! How much more he loves us!

Cooper reminded me about God's character tonight. He reminded me that God's character is consistent. Not just consistent - it's perfect. He reminded me that God does so many things for us. When I'm feeling upset with or angry at God, I need to remember all He does for us. Everything will be ok, because God still loves me. He will still take care of me. The more I remember the good of God, the less I question the circumstances that surround me. The more I remember all God does, the less I doubt. The amazing thing is that I can't love others perfectly, but God can. His love for me is perfect. His love for me is great. His love for me is unfailing.

As I pondered all of that, I relished in the moment of my child comforting me. He was hugging me, he was patting me, he was showing me God's love in a moment I needed it most.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever."
Psalm 118:1

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Cooper.

Dear Cooper, (aka. "Coopy", "Coop", "bug", "buggy") 

This past year has been the funnest one yet! You have hit milestones and grown in many ways. 

You mastered potty training (hallelujah!!!). After a stressful year of potty training, you decided that 3 was a good age to figure it all out.  Not only are you potty trained during the day, but you are now diaper free at night! 

You now communicate a lot and can tell detailed stories. And the expressions you make when you talk; you are so animated! There have been some great conversations with you. We've been able to start teaching you more about the "why" behind things. Talking with you is one of mine and daddy's favorite things to do. (Well, if you don't whine while you're talking.)

You are gaining some independence - whether you like it or not. I currently have to convince you to do some things on your own. Some days you fight for independence and some days you fight for me to pull up your pants. 

You live in the world of imagination. All day you are pretending to be a train traveling the tracks in Sodor, a ninja turtle fighting some bad guys, or in a Mario game battling to get the end of the level. Speaking of trains, ninja turtles, and Mario - those are you three obsessions. You focus on each one, rotating them in and out of focus every 2-3 months. 

And while you have grown in many ways, there are some cornerstones of you and your personality that I think will always be a part of you. 

You are funny. You always find a way to make people laugh and smile. Whether it be you telling a joke, talking funny with your animals, making silly face, or shaking your booty, you conquer making people smile. You love to be funny. You have said so yourself.

You are handsome. Four years later, and your looks still mesmerize me. You've got the clearest, brightest, bluest eyes. Your dimples stand out when you talk or smile. Together they are a killer combination. 

You are creative. You love to draw, paint, build things with blocks and legos, make up words, and you create story lines with your turtles, trains, and Mario. For example, today you said, "Mom, wouldn't it be fun if there was a toilet power on Mario and you could throw toilets at the bad guys?" 

You are encouraging. This is probably one of my most favorite things about you. It's quite heart-warming. You are quick to say "great job, mommy!" or "thanks for making this food, mommy!" or "you did a great job doing that, mommy!" You are one of my biggest fans. Thank you for lighting up my life with kind words.

You are smart. In fact, I have stopped "formally" teaching you because I want you to have something to learn when you start school. You are able to understand and pick up on things quickly. You can pretty well do/understand/recall things after it being shown or spoken to you one time. I marvel at the way you can write, color inside the lines, hold a writing utensil, count, recall letters, pick out letters in a word, and count. I love your brains.

You are athletic. This past year we tried swimming, t-ball, and soccer. Your ability to play sports is spot on. While your sportsmanship and teamwork leaves a lot to be desired, you can hit the balls, catch the balls, kick the balls, and swim well. You definitely improved from beginning to end in each one. 

You love to dance. You are a boy after my own heart! I love to dance with you. I love to hear you say "mom, this is one of my favorite songs." Then when I look at you and you are dancing your heart out after uttering that sentence - - - it makes my day. 

You make me smile. Your laughter, your silliness, and your desire to be funny all make me laugh. When I look at you sleeping, I smile. When I see you throwing a fit, I smile. Watching you grow and learn and try new things makes me smile. When I think about your future, I smile. When I think about the past 4 years, I smile. Every day I get to smile because of you. 

You are God's. This is one of the hardest for me to grasp sometimes. It's so easy for me to think that you are mine. But you aren't. You belong to God. You are His. He has entrusted you to me while we are alive here on earth. This year will be a new struggle for my mommy heart. I will watch you start preschool this fall. I will watch you spread your wings some more. There are so many fears that come with that, but knowing that you belong to God gives my mommy heart some rest as I watch you grow. My biggest prayer for you, one of my heart's deepest desires, is to see you take this truth into your own belief one day. I want you to live your life for and because of Christ. 

Cooper, your dimples, your blue eyes, and your vibrant personality still captivate me, as well as anyone who knows you. You are a very special boy with a bright future. The sky's the limit for you. I often ponder what you'll be like when you're older, what your interests will be, the relationship we will have. One of the most exciting things about you being another year older is getting to see the next steps this year. I'll get to be witness to sneak peeks of your future.  This year is sure to give us a bigger window into the man you are becoming. I'm looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you this year. 

Happy birthday, Bug. I love you.