Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wacky Wednesday (a day late:) and packrats!

 The first grade is doing all kinds of fun daily themes this week, including Top Hat Tuesday, Wacky Hair Wednesday, Think Beach Thursday and Fuzzy Friend Friday!

This is about as "Wacky" as we get around here:) The boys stopped begging me for colored hair spray/dye and are perfectly content with hair-gelled spikes! He looks pretty cute all spiky:) Today for the Think Beach Thursday, the kids got to dress in flip-flops, bring in a special drink, a beach towel and a book and read outside! Zakkai has really gotten into some new series lately, including some of my old favorites, "The Bobbsey Twins" and "The Boxcar Children!" Samuel never really loved either of those so it makes me happy to see these books read by Zakkai. And some are my books I saved from childhood! Z brought a Bobbsey Twin book to school today to read.

The boys are really soaking up their outside time with friends before we go. They play soccer and kick and catch (the "in" game at school this year) for HOURS outside! Samuel's soccer ball finally bit the dust the other day because it had been well-loved:) We had to order a new one for their soccer party next week!


I have been selling things left and right over here and practically am running my own Craigslist business:) Sometimes you just don't post things at the right time or it may not be a "hot item" and other times, you just hit the nail on the head! My family had better watch out or I may sell anything right out from under them!

We are really trying to lighten our load for our move to make it easier. There is no better time to purge, sell, give-away and toss than when you are moving! And I am on a roll, baby. I've sold a lot of toys that the kiddos have outgrown, just parted with our crib an hour ago (although I had to give that one away for free since it's a drop-side crib) and even sold our couch today! Yep, you read that right. Our couch. We have a super-heavy queen sized sleeper sofa that I worked hard to save up for by babysitting while pregnant with Zakkai and it is the bane of Ben's existence. Well, that and my piano:) (but that ain't for sale!)

The couch has been fine for us and very helpful when family has come to visit but it does have a broken support bar and it's so heavy that Ben really really hates to move it and put his foot down this time and said it had to go! I wasn't sure if I could sell it since it has the broken bar (we just put something under the couch to prop it up) but after no bites the first listing, I gave it one last shot and got 2 offers within a short period of time! Ben was very happy with me. So, as of Saturday afternoon, we'll all be fighting over our one big comfy chair:) Either that or the floor....

Also, my OH family is having a big garage sale tomorrow and we are hoping a lot of our stuff sells then, too. We need to save up for a new couch and a kitty and...eventually a table and some matching, non-broken chairs:) Sometimes I feel really good about all that we have been willing to part with and other times I look around at our stacks of boxes in the basement and corners of our dining room and feel a little overwhelmed!

I guess we're just at a stage of life, with 3 young children, that we have a lot of stuff and I need to get used to it. They do need some things to play with and there are five of us, which multiplies belongings rapidly! I've really come a long way since my old hoarding days!

My name is Heidi and I'm a recovering packrat.....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Family Fun and Moving Craziness

 I told Ben tonight that I am at my happiest when I am surrounded by my sweet little family and we are laughing and being silly together! For instance, on Friday night, we complimented our traditional pizza night with a dance party in the kitchen:) It was pure joy to dance and be silly and watch the happy little faces of our children. It's good to let off a little steam and just be plain silly sometimes!

We spent some nice time together yesterday on Memorial Day. We packed up a picnic and went to a beautiful park in the forest preserve! Zakkai bought a new kickball with his money (he worked hard to save up!) and brought to play so the boys were happily entertained while waiting to eat! They are nothing but happy when they have a ball to kick around!

Zakkai in action:)

Samuel after catching the ball. They never got close enough to get good pictures of their cute faces!

And of course, they are happiest when Daddy comes out to play!

Eliana went to kick the ball a few times and then she would come back and hang out with me. She dragged over a huge stick to show me:) She was thrilled to pieces over getting to eat watermelon! You know summer has arrived when you can start eating delicious, juicy watermelon!!

Samuel has really been struggling with our upcoming move;( He has better days where he handles it well and finds a few things to be excited about but he is so very sad over leaving his friends. We've had to talk to him about using his words to tell us what's going on, rather than walking around grumpy and grouching at everyone.

It's a very different experience this time moving with older kids who really get what's happening and what it means. I think we will all adjust but it's hard for all of us to really imagine what it will be like since we don't exactly have set plans for our future there. Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the actual event.

Not to mention, this has been our home for almost 9 years now. We have adjusted to being away from "home" and living a separate life here. It almost feels overwhelming to think about living by so many people we know and love! We are very thankful for the excitement of our families and their open arms welcoming us back again. It will just take us some time to find our new place to fit in since we are not the same people we were when we moved away almost 11 years ago.

I don't even really have time to picture what it will be like since my last days are filled with packing, sorting, babysitting, playdates, get-togethers, parties and being a mom! It's pretty overwhelming, to say the least.

But ready or not....we only have 18 days left...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Life of a Princess

These days, it's all about tiaras, wands, butterfly wings, jewelry and princess dresses. Four years ago, there wasn't even the thought of pink or anything sparkly in our house! And now it's taken over....:) But I'll let you in on a little secret.... (We don't mind!)


She's sugar and spice and everything nice:) Our little princess!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mama Machine!

It's been a very busy several days! My mom was sweet enough to come last Friday for the weekend to help me pack. I have been working super hard the past week or two to weed through our belongings and get rid of as much as possible! So far I've come up with a huge garage sale pile, which journeyed back to OH with my mom for an upcoming family garage sale and have sold several things on craigslist.

The very first thing I sold was our Thomas trains set. Please observe a moment of silence with me....thank you!

You probably remember my ridiculously sentimental post about Thomas trains this past year. Hey, parents can get attached, too! I wasn't really attached to the trains, per se, but it was so very special to our Samuel for so long. Samuel dissolved into heartbroken tears last summer when we first brought up the idea of selling them so we put it on hold. He wasn't ready. But even though he was really sad this time around, he thought about it for several days and came to me last Thursday and gave me permission to sell them. He said, "Mommy, you know how we talked about selling the Thomas trains? I think I'm ready now." Such a big kid! I was really proud of him. We let him save out 3 of his absolute favorites (Thomas, Annie and Clarabel) for his memory box.

I kid you not, I posted the ad and within FIVE minutes, I had those babies sold! Wow. I know I listed for a lower price than some people were selling (people are a little crazy) but we do need to let go of things and it's not all about making money. Most of all, we wanted those trains to make a little boy (or girl) happy. And they did! The dad who bought them said they recently moved and their movers lost two boxes. Guess what was in those boxes? You got it, his son's trains. So we made a little 2 1/2 year old boy's day (and his parents!) and we felt good about that!

I sold several other things that day and the next and was overwhelmed with the amount of emails coming and going. Wow! The Thomas trains were by far the most popular and people were seriously disappointed they were gone. Also high on the list were wooden trains and a Lightning McQueen cars set. Guess I had some hot items! We'll see how the rest does....

My mom was a packing machine!  I get overwhelmed by all that has to be done and wasn't quite sure where to start after all the sorting and purging. My mom was awesome! The boys' room is done, except for last minute things and clothes! They have SOOOOO many knick-knacky things and clutter-galore. We were able to save the most important things and toss the rest or put it in our ever-growing garage sale pile. The kiddos really got into the spirit of it and were so good about letting go of things. A little too good sometimes:) Thankfully, my mom double checked with me to make sure I got final say.

Eliana loved "helping" with her brother's room and wanted her room packed up, too. She started putting anything and everything into boxes and claiming she didn't want things that she uses regularly. My mom humored her:) She had a little box filled with shoes that she loves and she told me to give them away because they weren't "special" to her. Ha! When she wasn't looking, I put them back in her shoe basket. She was very offended when she saw what I had done but all is forgiven now!

We made huge dents in the basement also and some other areas. I am trying to keep up the momentum on top of living our daily life, squeezing in get-togethers with our special friends here and planning the good-bye party. Whew!

We are working hard on details and trying very hard to trust that God will provide for our family! One day at a time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Need Your Help!!

Even if you are not a regular commenter and just a blog lurker, please come out of the woodwork and help me! I need some feedback and ideas for something!

I am planning a good-bye party for my soccer-lovin' boys in a few weeks right before we move. It is going to be super simple (as in, we already have enough on our plates so no pinterest party here!!). It will be a soccer theme at our nearby park/soccer field. We will play soccer games, eat cupcakes, have the kids sign a book for the boys and that's it!

What do I need help with? The invitations!!

1) How would you word a good-bye party invitation? Possibly using soccer theme words like "kick" (ing) or rhyming sentences?

2) I was going to do a good-bye/birthday party for Samuel but how can I do that when half the kids invited will be Zakkai's friends? Separate invitations to each group for same party? Or should I just stick with good-bye party only?

Here is my latest idea. Please tell me what you would change!

"Samuel and Zakkai are moving away
And want to spend some time with you and play.
Come kick around a soccer ball, enjoy some cupcakes,
and time with good friends as we say good-bye!"


"Samuel and Zakkai are moving away
And want you to kick around with them for a day.
Please come and enjoy some soccer, cupcakes and
help make a special memory for your friends!"

I have no idea. The internet is no help at all either with kids good-bye parties. I know it's crazy to throw a party in the mix but it will mean a lot to my boys as they are feeling sad over leaving their friends.

Okay, help!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ballerinas and Weekend Fun!

 We actually had a really pleasant weekend, for once! On Friday night, some friends of ours from church, an older couple, called and asked if they could take the boys to have some fun on Saturday afternoon and to spend the night! The boys thought about it overnight (they were a little nervous!) and decided they really wanted to go. So our friends, who have been like surrogate grandparents to us over this past year or so, picked up the boys and took them to a movie, followed by Chuck-E-Cheeses and then to their house. They called twice to say hello to me and to say goodnight. They were having the time of their lives!

Meanwhile, Eliana was invited to her very first birthday party for a friend we met at MOPS and it was at a dance studio. Talk about CUTE!

The girls could dress in any princess or dance-ish outfit they wanted. They were all adorable! Eliana wanted to wear her ballet costume that I found on clearance last month at Kohls. Gosh, she's cute!

The parents weren't allowed to stay for the party since the studio doesn't have a lot of room. Eliana was a little nervous but was okay when we left. We got to spend about an hour and 15 minutes walking around our cute little downtown area! Just the two of us; like a mini date! We haven't been on a date in an embarrassingly long time so we get a lot of pleasure out of even an hour to ourselves! It was really relaxing and the weather was gorgeous on Saturday.

They asked all the parents to come back 10 minutes early for a little "recital" that the girls put on for us. How cute are all these munchkins?

Each little girl was handed a sparkly star wand when they came in and somewhere in the dancing confusion, Eliana set hers down and someone quickly claimed it since it was purple:) All that were left were the white ones but she seemed happy with the substitute!

There wasn't room to stand to the side of E so I had to video her from behind. Still, SO precious! We loved every second of it:)


Then since we were down to only one child (how easy is that??) we decided to use a gift card we had and go out to eat! What a rare treat for this little ducky! She had such a good time.

It was a really nice day!

Looking so pretty on Mother's Day in her sundress:)

 After church, we were invited back to our friends' house for a late lunch/early dinner. The boys were so at home with them and really didn't want to leave! They had had such a good time over the weekend and were totally spoiled rotten:)

Mr. Chuck, Ms. Sally and our trio! They will always hold special places in our hearts for taking us in the way they have over this past year. They made our weekend so special and blessed us tremendously!

That's it in a nutshell!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day.

I was hoping to post a picture or two of my mom and I and sadly, can't find any of the two of us together! So, I'll stick to words tonight:)

I think mothers are amazing. It's kind of funny to say that since I am a mother now and I struggle with thinking I am a good one. But maybe all mothers struggle sometimes. Wondering if her love is enough. If it covers enough hurt. If it strengthen and fortifies enough. If it's unconditional enough. If she did enough period.

I've learned about mothers in stages. First, as a child, receiving the love of my mom greedily. Taking for granted her loving hugs, gentle guidance, homemade cookies, the special memories she created. Just knowing she was my mom and she loved me. She was my safe place. She was mine. Mother.

Then, as a teenager, struggling through finding my own identity. An easy time to misunderstand a mother's constant love. To not be able to see it as clearly as you wrestle with the pains of growth and insecurity. A time when children often lash out in some way at the one person who is constantly on their side. Mother.

As a newly emerged young adult. Finding a new footing; coming from under the shelter of her love and into a new stage of mother-turning-friend. Seeking her guidance while trying to find my own way. Barely beginning to see the depths, the enormity of what her love and sacrifice covered in my childhood. Not even realizing that even then she was loving me enough to let me become a woman myself. Mother.

Then, meeting my mother-in-law and seeing another mother, who's love shaped her own sons, extend her love to cover me. A mother who loved her son so much, she had to let him go and trust me to love him, too. Mother.

Becoming a mother myself. And having that first inkling of what my mom felt for me when she first held me in her arms and as she watched me grow. That first understanding of what my mother-in-law meant when she said that having a child of your own fills you with such joy and such pain all at the same time. A tender, beautiful mother heart that is meant to be broken. Sometimes over and over again.

Throughout my almost 9 years as a mommy myself, I have slowly uncovered more of the depth and riches of a mother's love. I have seen more and more clearly how powerful, amazing and utterly life-changing it is.  I begin to see that even as I understand more and more clearly as I age, I will never ever know how much she gave for me. How much she hurt for me. How much she prayed for me. How much she gave of herself for me.

How even now, with all of her children grown, she still loves. She still hurts, she still prays, she still gives. And she will never stop until she breathes her last breath.

Whether a mother is a great-grandmother, opening her arms even wider to encompass her children's children's children. Whether she is a grandmother, sharing her special love with the next little generation. Or she is still in the active, exhausting, exhilarating stage of mothering. She will never stop loving.

Even as it fills her heart, breaks her heart, mends her heart, empties her heart and fills it again. She'll do it. Over and over and over again. She's amazing. And she's mine. She's yours. She's mother, whether she's still on this earth or watching over you in heaven.

 To my mom most of all. To my grandma. To my mother-in-love. Three women, whose mother hearts have shaped me, touched me and loved me. Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's in a name?

What comes to mind when you hear the name, "Zacchaeus?"

I'm sure that if you have any familiarity with the Bible, a song will pop into your head right about now.... "Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he! He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see!" (and on it goes.) You're welcome for getting that in your head now:)

Anyways, I'm going somewhere with this! Ben discovered something really cool 2 nights ago that he was really excited about. Ready? Zacchaeus is actually a translation of Zakkai!

We often get asked about Zakkai's unusual name~ how we chose it, what it means, where it is from, etc. We tell them that it is a Hebrew name, meaning "Pure, righteous or innocent." Beautiful meaning! We were having trouble choosing a second set of boy names and one evening a few months before Z was born, Ben came around the corner with one of his Hebrew books and started reading off names. I said, "No. No. No. Um, what? No. Wait, what was that last one?" And we both went, "Hmm. Zakkai. Kind of cool!" And the more we tossed it around on our tongues and thought about it and heard the meaning, we loved it! Even better, the name is in the Old Testament, although it is originally spelled, "Zacchai." We changed it to double "k's" since we assumed (correctly) that most people would pronounce it "Za-chai" like the drink.

Most people pronounce it wrong anyways:) He most often gets called, "Zachary" or "Zakkaia," with an extra "a" on the end.

But the other night, Ben was doing some reading in preparation for the boys' Latin lesson and he suddenly discovered that Zacchaeus translated through the Hebrew, Greek and Latin is actually the name for Zakkai! So when Jesus called him down from the tree, he would've said, "Zacchai, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."

And even better, Zacchaeus repented immediately and gave away half of his possessions to the poor so that he could follow Jesus. Pretty cool, eh?!

AND to add to the story, guess what is one of the nicknames we have called Zakkai off and on throughout his 7 years of life.... Zacchaeus. Really. We called him "Zachnitch," "Z-man" and "Zacchaeus." And we never knew this whole time!

He's a pretty cool little dude and now his name's even cooler than we thought:) We'll keep him!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It Matters.

As you know, it has been a tough year for us with struggles and disappointments and a lot of unknowns. We have spent a lot of time on our knees praying (literally sometimes), there have been many tears and dark days and faint glimmers of hope. Lots of love and prayers and support from the people we love the most.

We have finally come to a really difficult and painful decision in these past few days. We are moving back to Ohio. For now. There can be no promises about our future. We have no idea what we will be doing there or where we will be living, at the moment anyways, but we do know that despite the sadness that accompanies this decision, we will be surrounded by family who love us. And that, we are so thankful for.

We left home almost 11 years ago, moving away from everything familiar to embark on this crazy adventure called graduate school. We really and truly believed that this was where God was leading us and that He was going to use it in a big way, and while the steps shifted and changed along the journey, our faith and belief in our vision didn't waver. First the Master's in Indiana and then onward to Chicago for the illustrious P.h.D. We had absolutely no idea what it would entail or ask of us. We were clueless to the demands and sacrifices it would bleed out of us. We didn't know, as most people don't, how it would change us and shape us.

If we are honest, both of us would probably tell you at the moment that if we could go back again, we aren't sure we would do this again. The cost has been high. We have to believe, though, that the original desire to pursue this in honor of God matters. We have to believe that He can make beauty from ashes. We have to believe that He can take the scraps of the mess that is us and mold it into something useful, worthy or beautiful, even if scarred.

We aren't going to Ohio with the "dream job." That notion shattered somewhere along the way these past 3 years, the final blow being Scotland. We aren't sure what these past 10+ years meant or how God will use them. We are just hanging on to the hope that we matter to Him. That it matters.

It being dreams, desires, hopes, disappointments, loss, fear, struggles. All of it.

We have a mere 5 1/2 weeks left here, in the place we have called home for almost 9 years. We have memories to pack up, belongings to weed through, friends to say good-bye to, a Chicago bucket list to cross off, school to finish up for the boys, and a huge, long, overwhelming list of things to do to prepare. To prepare for something we don't know.

This is taking a lot of faith for us. To place this uncertainty of our future, our longings, our grief, our fledgling hopes, our deep desire to see Him make sense of all of this and placing it all in His hands. We humbly ask for your prayers for provision, for guidance, for protection over our family and for a deep peace as we take this next step.

It matters.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Happy Friday!

 We are wrapping up a long week here in rainy Chicago with some delicious homemade pizza and mini banana cream pies. Mmmm...I may be trying to cook healthier options but that doesn't mean we don't thoroughly enjoy our Friday night desserts!

Here's a picture of Eliana the other day, wearing her Easter bunny ears, a gift from her Grandma:)

Last night Eliana earned yet another prize for completing her sticks (she gets prizes every 7 sticks; the boys every 10). She picked a puzzle, which Daddy helped her with!

She doesn't get doted on or anything around here:)

Ben often dances with me in the kitchen (which the kids love to watch!), especially when he is playing music on his computer. Yesterday at lunchtime, he was playing a fun jazzy tune and did a quick dance with me. Next thing you know, Eliana hopped down from her chair where she had been happily munching on lunch and begged to dance with her Daddy. A sweet video we will cherish forever! Gosh, she's cute:)

*Can't figure out why blogger is not showing the top half of the video. The original video does include Ben's head:)

Happy Friday!