Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Andrew has been putting in a lot of extra hours lately. So this past three day weekend was wonderful. It was so relaxing and it rejuvenated us. 

Memorial Day weekend means open pools, and open rides at Tusc park. We managed to do both. 

We told Cooper he could go on two rides at the park. He chose the ferris wheel and the train. 

It was his first time on a ferris wheel. And he chose daddy to go with him.

After that it was my turn to ride the train.

Monday we loaded up and barbecued with some friends at the pool. 

Cooper tested out his new goggles.

And got right back to jumping.

The guys (all the kids were boys) built a bridge from one side of the pool to the other out of rafts. 

View the videos of that fun here (Cooper and the kids) and here (Bronson).

We love Henry!

These two...oh how I love them.

Friday, May 16, 2014

the confidence of heaven.

Easter Sunday, 2014

Andrew and I sat in church waiting for the service to start. And the thought crossed my mind, "I'm glad we can tell Cooper, with confidence, that when we leave this earth, we will be in heaven."

Our pastor often states that the greatest gift you can give your children is a healthy marriage. However, I think I'd like to add the confidence of heaven to that greatest gift list.

"Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies - so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time." 
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

In a year and a half I said goodbye to 3 grandparents. Since then we lost a friend and confidant, whose death his us both hard. I have a cousin battling stage 4 cancer, and we're all praying for a miracle. Sometimes thinking of these people brings about disbelief that they're really gone and hurt in my heart that feels like a punch to the gut. In just a few years time I've had to think a lot about death, and the legacy I want to leave behind. I realized the difference of hope of heaven when one leaves us can make in the healing process after they are gone. I realized the strength one can obtain through Christ in the process of grief. I have no experience of loss of a parent, spouse, child, or a closest friend, so I can't speak based on those experiences. However, this I can speak from: Jesus is enough for me. If you take it all away, Jesus remains. Death won't be the end of me. And when it comes time for Andrew and I to pass on, I want Cooper to know it's not the end for us. In that hope there is power.

Toward the end of Easter service, Dwight, our lead pastor, began sharing a moment he had with his family during communion time together on Good Friday. Dwight is in a time of life where he is watching his dad transition from earth to heaven. He looked at his kids and told them there would come a time that he wouldn't be here on earth. And while it's ok to be sad, grieve, and weep, there's also a great hope that comes with his death. Knowing their dad is in heaven, knowing that the same power that got their dad to heaven is living in them, helping them carry on after a parent's death.

That's the kind of confidence I want to leave Cooper with. Confidence that his dad and I will be in heaven. Confidence that the same power that saved us is in him, too, and can help him overcome anything after we're gone.

It all reminds me of a song by Andrew Peterson called "Lay Me Down."

We are not alone
We are more than flesh and bone
What is seen will pass away
What is not is going home

When you lay me down to die
I'll miss my boys, I'll miss my girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die

I'll open up my eyes on the skies I've never known
In the place where I belong
And I'll realize his love is just another word for Home

I believe in the holy shores of uncreated light
I believe there is power in the blood
And all off the death that ever was,
If you set it next to life
I believe it would barely fill a cup
'Cause I believe there's power in the blood.

So when you lay me down to die
I'll miss my boys, I'll miss my girls
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world
You can lay me anywhere
But just remember this
When you lay me down to die
You lay me down to live

You can listen to it here. Song starts around 2 minutes in..

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cooper Throwback

It's #ThrowbackThursday

This is one of our absolute favorite videos of Cooper. The way he talked was so funny. We searched and searched for this video a few weeks ago to share with our friends. We finally found it!

My personal favorites from this video..
"Mommy making bagel for Cooper."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"The Girls" Reunion, 2014

I have written about the precious friendship I share with these girls here, here and here. Had I known in college how much we'd be spread out - literally opposite ends of the country - I maybe would have done a whole blog about our adventures. Oh wait - Xanga did that.  Anyhow, these girls know me in ways no one else does. Our couple of days together were wonderful.  Our first night together we spent catching up, laughing and reminiscing while the children slept.

The next day was the first time since this moment that all our kids were together. And there are were two more to add to the mix. It was so fun to see these kids together; wonderful to get to know their personalities.

You readers pretty well already know Cooper. He is an adventure-seeking boy. He would rather be in the water, run around, or pretend to be mario than hang out with actual people.

Gavin is a sweet boy. He kind of just fits in wherever he's put. I see him being and "all-around guy" one day - doing it all, fitting in with everyone. He is a mama's boy and LOVES his food. I won him over with goldfish. He also won over the seagulls with his love of food.

Addison is a rule-follower. She's an observer and more on the shy side than the other kids, but is loving and very smart. It was fun to do girly things with her, run with her, and scoop her up for hugs. She also has the cutest little voice. I think she's got a bit of a wild side to her. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as she gets older.

Molli is also an adventure seeker. But instead of water, she chose sand. Molli is also a smart girl, with a kind heart. She was quick to take Addison's hand and lead her around. I see Molli being a trend-setter and a leader. I don't think she'll be quick to follow anyone. She'll go her own way, to her own beat, with her own brightly colored drum. 

Audrey is little, but her smile is big. She's a firecracker and she's fun. She was perfectly content in her mom's arms, or on the blanket. I have a feeling she'll be like Gavin - put her anywhere with anyone and she'll be ok. Maybe it's the 2nd child way. 

Getting all these personalities together was quite the experience. It's crazy to think about how spending time with these girls has changed quite a bit. It now involves a whole bunch of littles running around us. It involves halted conversations to run after, reign in, discipline, sooth, or love on a little one. It involves tears shed and fight intervention. It involves a lot of laughter, a lot of "go with the flow" moments, and a lot of love. Taking the kids to the beach with just the three of us could have been an absolute disaster, but I left that day thinking "that wasn't so bad at all." It was actually quite wonderful. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Amanda has become quite the multi-tasker.


He's reaching for the phone in this picture, but I like to think he's really reaching for the goldfish.

The next day, we played at the splash park. I only got these two photos. 

I was really excited for Molli and Cooper to be together. Molli is the closet in age to Cooper, and can keep up with him. I had always imagined them being 2 peas in a pod, escaping together to get into as much trouble as they could. They had a bit of a personality clash, though. I think they liked each other, but they are both stubborn and leaders, not followers. That, mixed with my only child syndrome child made for some interesting moments. No hitting or aggressive behavior so I'll take that as a win!

I hope they don't hate us for these forced friendships as they get older.

The thing about having kids is they make everything harder. Parenting is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Marriage is now upturned and you have to work harder to love each other. Friendship is no different. You have to work harder to maintain friendships. These girls have made long distance friendship doable. They have even made friendship with kids doable. While there is so much the same out each of us, there is also so much that's different. We each parent differently: each one of us a great champion for our children. And even though we are different, there is no judgement. Instead, a deep love for the other person; a desire for the best for our friend. Thanks for being my friend, girls. I really couldn't imaging going through life without you girls with me. 

Liz and Allison, we missed you!

Amanda wrote about our time together and you can read her post here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Florida trip in pictures.

A visit to UCF. 

Beach Time.
Cooper wrote his name in the sand.

Family love.

 Learning to ride his skateboard.

 New shades.

 More family love.

 Huge menus.

 Sunshine and splash park play.

One of my favorites. His face is classic.

 Movie time with friends. 

Bush Gardens.

Play time with friends.

Eating out.

Sweaty early morning walks.

 More family time.

And for some added fun, two videos. 

Cooper on a roller coaster.

And Cooper at the beach.