June 19, 2010

Family Updates

I've been so lost in writing lately that it's been forever since I've added pictures.  (Funny how blogging has evolved over time; that was my whole goal for this blog back in the beginning!)  So, rather than ramble about what all is going on in my mind these days, I am gonna try and stick with a simple update on what all is happening in the Nielson family- complete with pictures.  We do, after all, have a very quickly growing babe in the house!

You all know by now that the newest thing in Sophia's life is Tball.  I have yet to get my act together and get some pictures, but I will try and remember to do so this week.  Sophia had her first "game" this week, and Tim and I had been baffled at how they were going to organize the chaos into anything resembling a "game," but clearly the Parks and Rec department is far smarter than us, and managed to do so very well.  Sophia has also recently graduated from preschool, which is particularly hilarious considering I have paid her preschool deposit at the SAME preschool for next year!  She is very much enjoying being a big sister x2, and is always thrilled to help with Phoebe.  These days, you can frequently find her helping water our gardens, riding her bike, "reading," or playing with babies of some kind.

Easter morning.  Sophia looking for eggs.

The Graduate

Being a big sister.

Noah is busy being Noah.  He is a boy, through and through, and this means his time is filled with cars, trucks, baseball, and wrecking things.  He has entered a new destructive phase that is promising to make me CRAZY!!!  One day this week, he knocked over all of Sophia's bath cups full of water while the kids were showering, just for fun, through her stuffed "Pups" in the pool, just for fun, overflowed his cup of water at dinner with another cup of water, just for fun.  You get the idea.  I would love to know what goes on in that little mind of his.

Easter morning.

Tim puts Noah up here and calls it his "home".

Noah Riding his car in the sandbox.

Phoebe is busy growing, growing, growing.  She is getting so big, in spite of my frequent attempts to freeze time and slow her down.  She smiles all the time, and is beginning to find her voice.  She's frequently telling us all about her days and has even begun to laugh a little.  She is also perplexing us.  It appears she is attempting to rival Houdini with her escape skills, and we can not keep her swaddled to save our lives, and yet, she has a very hard time sleeping for long if she is not wrapped up like the tightest little baby burrito you have ever seen.

Easter morning.

4/23.  2 Months.

5/23.  3 Months.

5/31.  First time in the Bumbo.

Meet Phoebe.  She really is this happy.  Almost all the time!

Tim and Amy
The most exciting thing I have to report for us is the addition of our new Square Foot Gardens this year.  (Okay, maybe not the most exciting, but it's the only thing for which I have pictures to share.)  Actually, though, I am pretty excited about these gardens.  I learned about this method of gardening last summer, and wanted to plant some then, but we didn't know if we would be moving.  So this is our first attempt, and I have to admit that one of my favorite things is to check and water them daily.  I can't wait to harvest them!

Sophia planting some broccoli.

Noah taking his turn planting.

One of our three Square Foot Gardens.

Some friends of ours tipped us off that there was a Fire Truck Expo in downtown Littleton today, so while Tim was out playing baseball, I headed over to the local community college to check it out with the kids.  Turned out to be well worth our time.  Here are some pics from the day, as an added bonus just for fun!

One of many really old fire trucks

Marveling how tall the ladders are.  Do you see the water falling from under the one in the middle?

Checking out a Flight for Life helicopter.

Spraying the hoses.

June 10, 2010

T Ball

The official indoctrination has begun!!  (And I say official because it unofficially began in utero, for each one of our children.)  Sophia's first Tball practice was Tuesday night.  Now, before you harass me too much for forcing our interests upon our kid, maybe I should clarify that this was purely experimental.  Sophia has just gotten to an age where she is really able and eligible to participate in all kinds of rec league programs.  So after debating about it back and forth for several weeks, I went ahead and signed her up for summer Tball.

We're not really sure how summer baseball is ever going to work out for any of our kids, considering we seem to spend a large portion of our summers in various parts of the country, namely the Midwest.  Sophia will miss almost 3 entire weeks of an 8 week program this summer.  Good thing the rec leagues are fairly inexpensive!

Anyway, if you know my oldest daughter at all, you are probably thinking we are crazy at this point.  The girl has a one track baby brain.  Any other form of play is purely a temporary sidetrack from babies.  Tball, for clarification, does not involve babies in any way, shape or form.  Did I have a brain injury at the time I enrolled her?

Well, if you must know, my thought process went something like this.  She is, after all, only 4.  Who knows what she might find her long term passions to be?  We're at experimental stage, folks.  Let's try everything and see what she's drawn to.  (And hopefully, along the way, find some way to distract her from babies during her teenage years!)  And in a baseball loving family, where else do you start but Tball?

So, we did our homework.  We hyped it up the very best we knew how before it actually began.  We bought tennis shoes that she is THRILLED to wear (pretty sure she hasn't taken them off for the last 3 days.  One day she'll learn that you don't buy tennis shoes at Walmart, but as of now, she has not learned that fashion rule).  She is SO excited to wear her tennis shoes for Tball, too, because "you can do that, Mommy.  They're good for Tball, too.  Tennis and Tball both start with T so you can do that!"

And off the whole family went for Sophia's first Tball practice.

Maybe this would be a good time to explain that Noah does everything with Sophia.  The two are absolutely inseparable (most of the time).  Noah, somewhat unlike Sophia, loves baseball.  As we were leaving, it was Noah who had to put on his "baseball socks."  (The first pair were black.  Tim managed to convince him that they were actually church socks.  The next pair?  White with airplanes.  How they constitute baseball socks, I'm not sure.  I think it has something to do with the fact that they are not all white.)  And of course, the ensemble isn't complete without his "baseball shoes"- Crocs with a baseball Jibbitz.

Did I mention that the only Tball program I found was for Pre-K's?  That is, kids who will be 5 by October.  Uh-oh.  Do you see the problem here?  Noah is less than thrilled with this "minor" detail.  But I think he gets the fact that he's not quite old enough yet.  Never-the-less, I will NOT be in such a hurry to get there on time next time that I forget to bring a ball for him to play with along the sidelines.  How on earth did I let that happen?

Sophia's Tball debut was less than stunning.  Now, I know she needs some work on her mechanics.  I'm not THAT kind of mom that is totally blind to my kids' inabilities.  But it was a still a reality check.  Let's just say that there are 9 players on the team who are probably better than Sophia.  (It's a 10 kid team.)  So Tball might not be my kid's calling.  Not this kid, anyway.

I shouldn't be totally surprised by this reality, but it has forced me to redefine success for Sophia's first (last?) Tball season.  She threw me for a loop when she told me that she had a lot of fun and really liked it.  She's actually really excited to go back next time.  Really, what more could I have asked for?

**If I really get my act in gear, I'll remember to bring my camera next time to document the hilarity.

June 7, 2010

Great is His Faithfulness

It's been a year since we left Mission Hills (MHC).  How our lives have changed in such a short time!  In many ways, MHC seems like barely a memory to me already.  There is so much that has been forgotten in this year.  Our lives have been filled with a new job, a new church, new people AND most importantly, a new family member.  It's been a lot of change.  We are so grateful for it.  I believe that God has used a lot of that change to dull our memories and heal our past.  (Although it's so ironic that as I sit in a local coffee shop writing this, I have to mention that I have seen no less than 5 MHC people from the "past" that I am totally reminded that it's the people from MHC that keep the memory alive.)

Last month, I had the privilege (?) of returning to MHC for a girl's conference called Adored.  Seeing as how it has been a year, and our lives have changed so much, I didn't think much of it.  A friend of mine put the conference together all on her own (shout out to ya, Rebekah), and I was so excited to support her and bring some of our Grace girls to the event.  It sounded like so much fun to me that I couldn't bear to miss out.

Driving into the parking lot, I was quickly confronted with the fact that not only would I be seeing a lot of our former students (yay!), but their parents, as well.  Including many former co-pastor's-wives.  A little more daunting.  I quickly realized I needed to put on my game face and smile and nod.  Smile and nod.  I'd get through it.  The fun was coming soon.  Let's get through this little hurdle and enjoy the weekend.

The first session started shortly after check-in.  As all Christian conferences go- music first.  Worship.  In the worship center.  Lights down, band on stage.  Ever been in a place where all of your senses are FLOODED by memories and take you back in less than a heartbeat?  Where you're in multiple moments, simultaneously experiencing the present and the past?  Where a song, a scent, a simple sight put you in another place entirely?

THAT was that moment for me.  And I learned SO many things in that moment.  The band was singing "Great is Your Faithfulness."  I think it took about two seconds for the waterworks.  I bawled.  To the point that I left the room to gain some control.  I couldn't help but flashback through the course of the last year.  There were SO many memories contained in that room.  Sunday morning worship.  More sermons than I can count.  More people and faces than I can count.  Tim being introduced as the new high school pastor.  Sophia's dedication.  Noah's dedication.  Tim baptizing lots of high schoolers.  Serving as a wedding coordinator for the church.  Tim being "thanked" for his service as high school pastor on our last Sunday there.

But more than those moments, countless hours pouring out my soul in worship.  And those were the memories that came back in that moment.  Time after time of lifting my hands to the Lord in surrender.  Wondering what on earth He was doing in our lives and where on earth He was leading us.  Many a tear, many a question, many a moment of saying, "Now what, Lord?"

And then coming full circle back to the present moment of praising the Lord, for "Great is [His] Faithfulness."  I had known that all through the previous year, and I had clung desperately to the fact that He was leading us through all of this to bring us to a better place.  That knowledge was my saving grace through our last year at MHC.  But here I was, on the other side, thanking God for bringing us through it all, and being faithful every step of the way.  I spent a year knowing this in my head, but now I was feeling it in my heart.

I was not expecting that moment to be so hard.  It totally caught me off guard.  But I am thankful for it.  I am thankful for the reminder to continue to praise God for His faithfulness through every part of the last year.  And also thankful for the reminder to continue to pray for healing.  I do feel like I am in a very healthy place after all we have been through, but the emotion that overtook me in that evening warned me that there is an ever-present enemy that would have me hold on to some of that pain.  Each tear that fell screamed to give it to the Lord and let go, to continue to pray for peace and wholeness.  Last year at this time, I wrote about how leaving MHC was like losing a limb (here's the link for that ever so elegant post).  And a year later, that limb has been miraculously, mostly regenerated.  But I'm not all the way there yet, and so I continue to ask the Lord to keep growing it until I am complete once again.  After all, Great is His Faithfulness!  

June 3, 2010

Brownies and Barrettes

It's been one of those days.  The kind where it's 9:30 at night and I'm sitting at the kitchen table engaged in too many open tabs on the Internet while emotionally eating a very large, mediocre mint layer brownie.  It's not even that good, but after this day I somehow feel like it's justified.  (Which could would explain those last few pounds of baby weight that just won't seem to go away.)  And yet, now that I've owned and admitted it, I'm fully contemplating a second slightly less large, mediocre mint layer brownie.

I digress.  This day wasn't all that unusual, but yet somehow I feel like I have to document it.  All you stay-home-mom readers are fully allowed to roll your eyes and shake your heads at me.  I can already hear you thinking, "Get over it.  That's the life."  And yet I still find myself laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all.  And wanting to write about it just to be able to laugh at the life.

It started out as a fairly average day in the Nielson household.  I am so blessed that Tim's job allows him to leave for work later than a lot of other husbands I know.  This provides numerous blessings- mostly for me!  When I'm disciplined enough, I get time with the Lord first thing in the morning.  I go for a run.  When I'm really lucky (ie: get up early enough to squeeze in all 3 activities), I can even get a shower afterwards.  And my wonderful husband graciously gets the kids up and going on breakfast while I'm busy with all those things. 

So that's how the day started.  It went downhill shortly thereafter.  Tim left for work.  The  20 month old I was watching for the day showed up next.  All is well so far.  Managing 4 kids 4 and under.  No problem.  I'm super mom.  I've got it under control.  HA!

I fed Phoebe at about 10:30 while the kids were down in the playroom.  She's a pretty speedy eater, so I was fairly convinced she'd be done before they found themselves in too much trouble.  Does Noah wearing a dress count as trouble? (Maybe this would be a good time to read my previous post about Noah needing a brother.)  I was glad that Tim wasn't home to witness it, but I almost considered it worth it to pay the $10 fee our phone carrier charges for picture messages. Noah was SO proud to be playing dress up princess with Sophia!  

Lunch time.  Sophia and Noah were downstairs playing in the playroom.  Phoebe was sleeping.  Noelle was wandering around behind me in the kitchen.  This was actually a very good thing because I was confident with the fact that she was right there where I could keep an eye on her.  Then I realized:  I am used to a house full of kids, but I have forgotten that my kids have gotten older.  They've passed toddler stage.  They are oh-so-mature preschoolers now.  I realized this when I ingeniously put the drinks on the table first.  Wouldn't have thought anything of it- until Noelle climbed into Noah's chair which she had already claimed for her own and dumped Sophia's entire glass of water all over herself.  Hel-lo brainiac, note to self: do not put drinks on the table first with a toddler roaming around.  Duh.

This was a minor fiasco, I know.  I finished the assembly line of lunch plates.  (After a million internal questions of how to feed a 20 month old.  I had forgotten.  Completely.  What can she eat?  What is she not allowed to have at this stage?  What is too hard for her to chew?  How small do the bites need to be?  Does she get a plate?  Fork?  Spoon?  What does she need to drink?)  I rounded all the kids up and got them seated.  We even remembered to pray- I think.  At this point, Noah is in his third dress of the day.  

Our landlord pulled up.  Interruption number one.  (Are you counting yet?  If not, you should be!)  What a perfect time for him to bring someone to investigate our roof.  It's needed replacing for YEARS.  It appears now's the time. ( Well, not quite. They'll start work next week.)  Noah promptly tells Brian, "I am wearing a DRESS!"  I don't bother to mention to Brian that this is not standard procedure in the Nielson house.  After a brief conversation with Brian, I returned my attention to the kids at the table.  Thankfully they were at least contained.  Time to replace the aforementioned drink that was now all over Noelle's shirt instead of in Sophia's cup.  Noelle, apparently does not use a spoon?  As evidenced by the fact that her macaroni and cheese is all over her chair and the floor.  So I took the spoon away, quickly to realize maybe the problem wasn't the spoon.  It seems Noelle prefers her food on the floor, rather than in her mouth.  Sophia and Noah needed seconds.  Phoebe's waking up.  Who says moms need to eat lunch?  The 3 kids at the table finished lunch and ran back to the playroom.  I got Phoebe up.  Brian came back.  We chit-chatted it up for awhile- really, I had nothing else to do, right?  

The kids, who had been in the playroom, had migrated to the street out front.  Oh, I mean yard out front.  (Really, I was able to stop them before they got to the street.  They only made it as far as the sidewalk.)  Thankfully, Brian understood this cue and used it as a chance to exit the conversation.  

Nap time.  This was a carefully orchestrated dance of finding bedrooms and beds and pack and plays and sheets and blankets and lovies.  Finally.  4 kids sleeping.  Simultaneously.  For 15 minutes, if I was lucky.  Again, who says moms need lunch?  It's a forgotten pleasure at this point, as we're closer to dinner time than lunch.

Did I mention that this is a Wednesday and Tim is working late?  Oh lordy, if ever there was a day that I could use some back up relief!  Before dinner time, I did manage to convince Sophia and Noah that they needed to let me rest for a few minutes if they wanted dinner tonight.  I took a 15 minute power nap on the couch while they played, then went to the kitchen to prepare dinner.  (And when I say prepare, I mean take out a few carrots and warm up some leftover pizza.)  The kids come the table.  Noah's dress is long gone.  It's been replaced by about 24 of Sophia's barrettes in his hair.  No lie. They've moved from princess dress up to beauty shop in one day!  Lord, can I trouble you for a brother for Noah? 

After dinner, I finally convinced the kids that beauty shop is much better to play with girl's hair.  So by the time you've made it to the end of this sentence, I'm sure you already figured out who the next victim was.  Doesn't every mother at some point proudly sport her kid's hair-do?  Since I had no intentions of leaving the house for the night, I figured I was safe.  Until we're reading bedtime Bible stories and the door bell rings.  An unannounced visitor at 8:00 pm?  Really?  Are you kidding me?  After a few moments of panic, I decided I was in absolutely NO condition to answer the door.  I am not exaggerating to say that I had every single one of Sophia's barrettes on my head.  After sweetly explaining to Sophia and Noah that bedtime stories and prayers were more important than whoever was at the door at the moment, I tucked them safely into bed.  "Good night.  I love you.  Sleep tight.  Don't let the bedbugs bite."  Times 3- the ritual isn't complete until we've all said it.  

Ah, sweet relief.  Finally.  Maybe I shouldn't mention the TWO trips back into the bedroom to (forcefully) "remind" Noah that there is NO talking and playing at bedtime.

Maybe my mediocre mint-layer brownie(s) were well deserved after all?

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