A New Perspective on Messes

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection recently and these are some of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over:

If I want my kids to grow up knowing that they can always come to me for help, should I ever refuse to give them my help now? Like when they have made a mess of their toys, for instance, do I really want to respond with “I didn’t make that mess; you clean it up.  If you made the mess, you can clean it up.”  Do I want them to become unwilling to help others with their messes?  After all, kids learn by example.

And why have I become so disgusted with messes anyways?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with messes.  Messes are good.  They are a sign that living has been going on.  I learned from Rich Mullins the proverb, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes abundant harvests.” (Proverbs 14:4)  You know what that means?  Life is messy.  The stall of an ox will get pretty nasty, but without the ox how will you reap your harvest?

And something else about messes…they provide the opportunity for much learning and development to take place.  How will my kids gain the responsibility to clean up after themselves without the mess?  And the bigger the mess, the greater opportunity for patience and perseverance exists.  They will achieve a sense of accomplishment and earn the right to be proud…the blessings of work.  Side note:  Work was not a part of the curse in Genesis; we were always made to work and to produce.  The curse was working laboriously.

So I’m learning to be thankful for all the messes that occupy my day, and that a perfectly clean house is not necessarily the sign of a good mommy; but rather the opposite is true.  The house of a good mommy will have toys scattered about randomly, and a trail of crumbs stemming from the Kitchen table, and perhaps a stopped-up toilet with too much toilet paper in it…all signs that there is living and learning going on.  The soccer balls and bikes might be littering the driveway and back yard, but a good mommy knows that there can be no fun without a little mess happening!

Each One Is My Favorite

I don’t have much time to spend on my blog today, but nevertheless, I still have a few thoughts to jot down.  Through all the hustle and bustle and the busy, busy, business of everything I’ve got going on this week, I must not forget the things that really matter…the small things, the seemingly insignificant things, the everyday things, the ordinary things.  Now it might seem that my cousin’s wedding that’s taking place on Saturday (in just 3 days) - the one I’m in charge of making look spectacular – would be the top priority on my agenda, but it, in fact, is not.  My most urgent task, the one of utmost importance, is to spend every moment I can with my children, and to not let them slip away without me relishing the joys of mommyhood.  My goal is to convince each one of my children that they are my favorite…because they are…each one of them is my favorite.

This is a short little video that is well worth your time if you are a mommy.


Arianna Joy

It’s been one month today since we lost our baby. Already a month…just a month…time is funny that way. It’s goes by so quickly, and yet it seems so long. My friend Camille is right – I do have the need to talk about Arianna, to tell her story and have people know what I know – that her’s was a valid life in God, and though not on this earth, she is living in eternity. She is a life, and a life worth mentioning. So here is her story…

Arianna had been wanted, and longed for, for well over a year. If I had to say, the closest to an accurate number that I could give would be for 29 years.  For as long as there was a me, there was always a desire for her. Long before I was ever married and had kids, she existed as a dream in my heart. And after getting married and starting my life with Jason, I couldn’t wait to start our family.  And even after having all 3 of my beauties that I have now, she was still wanted - a much-needed piece of the puzzle I call family.

And of course I was not alone in my desires for her. Judah and Bella, and even Justice, had asked for a baby sister for a year. We heard their pleas and request for a baby sister every day. Judah would tell me that he wanted God to give me 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls, and Bella would ask Jesus for a baby sister almost every night. And even Justice, at age 2, saw his newborn baby cousin and exclaimed, “I want that! I want one!” It got to the point of him answering what he wanted for Christmas was a baby sister. Likewise, what Bella wanted for her birthday was a baby sister.

So it was like being in our own little fairy tale when we discovered that I was expecting again on Bella’s birthday, only our Happily Ever After had been delayed.  On December 17 I had a doctor’s appointment. It was just supposed to be a normal check-up, but all of a sudden I was having to listen to the doctor say, “Amanda, there’s no heartbeat, ” and I was having to let go of who I never got to hold.

It was just 12 weeks, but she was a part of me in way that only she and 3 others have ever been, and that’s long enough. She is my daughter, and I am a mother of 4, and I do have the need to share her life with others. But all I really know about her is that we wanted her so much, and that we were already so in love with her, and that she had already brought us so much joy.  So I just had to say to God, “I would like to tell people about her, but what do I say?  What is her purpose?  What is her destiny?”   And this is what He said…

Tell them she was formed by My hand, made in My image, and she is beautiful.  Her purpose is joy, and her destiny is holiness, and that is why she is here – to bring Me joy, in holiness.

This is her story -  that she was fearfully and wonderfully made, and known by God even before she was formed in her mother’s womb.  And she was loved by Him, and by us.

We have named her Arianna Joy - Arianna meaning most holy, and Joy meaning joy.  She has brought us much joy.  I love saying her name, and I love seeing it in writing.

Arieanna Joy Collage

2012 Brought Me Joy

The thing about experiencing tragedy at the end of the year is that you can easily forget all the wonderfulness of the previous months.  2012 was a great year for us…getting settled in our new home, starting homeschool, introducing Judah to baseball and discovering his talent for it, letting Bella have at try at soccer and me at coaching, a summer full of fun, getting Bella into dance and watching her do something she loves, joining a homeschool group, having tons of birthday party fun, the homegoing of my grandmother, and so much more.

One of our greatest joys was discovering that we were expecting our 4th child.  It was a very special time for us.  Bella was getting ready to turn 4, and as the time grew closer, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday.  Her response was always the same, “A baby sister.”  It had started early that year when I was grocery shopping with the kids.  We were in Sam’s and passed by a mother that had a tiny little baby girl in a stroller.  Judah looked at me and said, “Look at that baby girl Mommy…I want a baby sister.”  I reminded him that he had one, that Bella was his baby sister, but he responded with, “No, I mean a little one like that,” pointing at the newborn.  From that moment, both Judah’s and Bella’s desire for a new baby sister only grew, and spread to Justice, and eventually to me and Jason.

So it was very special to us when we discovered that I was pregnant the week of Bella’s birthday.  We shared our happy news at her party, and from then, our excitement and joy only grew.  The kids talked about our new baby every day, especially Bella, who would often cry at bedtime that she missed her baby sister.  (From day one, it was a baby sister. It didn’t matter how many times we explained to them that we didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl; they were certain it was a girl. And so were Jason and I.)  She couldn’t wait to have her and made sure that every night when we prayed we thanked God for our new baby.  And by the time Christmas was here, even Justice was saying that what he wanted for Christmas was his baby sister.  She was already very much wanted and loved.

There are no words for the grief we felt when we got the news that are baby no longer had a heartbeat, so I won’t even try to convey it.  Instead, what I’d like to share is the joy she brought us in the 12 weeks she was in our lives.  Although we didn’t see her, or hold her in our arms, her life touched ours.  She is forever a part of our family for she was created for eternity.  I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but what I do know is that my baby’s life will glorify the Lord.  In this I have comfort, and I have joy.

So 2012 was a good year for us, a very good year indeed.  It brought laughter and tears, and joy and sorrow.  It brought me my second daughter, and her name is Arianna Joy, and I am forever grateful for her life.

A Lesson in Parenting from Psalm 19

There is a passage in Psalms that I have been thinking a great deal on.  Psalm 19:7-11 says

The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.  The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the commandment of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.  They are more desirable than gold — than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey — than honey dripping from the comb.  In addition, Your servant is warned by them; there is great reward in keeping them.

I have recently felt the Lord leading me to spend some time in Psalms to have my joy and passion stirred.  When I came to this passage I couldn’t get away from it; I just kept reading it over and over, knowing that there was something more that I was supposed to get than what I was already understanding.  After spending a couple of days meditating on these words, my thoughts shifted from dwelling on myself and moved onto my children…

Are my instructions for our children perfect to the point of reviving their souls?  Is the testimony that I share with them trustworthy enough to give them wisdom?  Are my rules right?  Do they make my children’s hearts glad and give them joy?  Do my commands lead them to light?  Are they reliable and altogether righteous?  Is what I’m teaching my children more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey?  Will it lead them to a sweet, rich life?  Will it lead them to righteousness and keep them from evil?  Will they find great reward in what they learn from me?

So now, I find myself with the need to reevaluate my parenting – my goals, motivations, and priorities — and gratefully so.  I am thankful that I have The Good Father to guide me and teach me how to be the mother he desires me to be.

Happy Homeschooler

I am currently reading the Joyful Home Schooler, and the author, Mary Hood, does make a good point in the area of literacy.  She emphasizes that learning to read and write is as natural of a process as learning to walk, as long as we create an environment of literacy in our homes.  In other words, our children will have a desire to learn to read and write if they see mom & dad reading and writing on a regular basis.  Of course, that being said, it does taking coaching from mom and dad.  Just like we have to show our babies to take steps, and our toddlers how to use the potty, reading and writing also requires teaching.  But it certainly does not have to be in the form of formal lessons; it can come simply by answers to “Mommy what’s that word?” and “Daddy what sound does that letter make?”  If bedtime stories are a cherished part of your daily routine, as they are ours, then your child’s own curiosity will begin the process of learning to read.

On a side note, I am enjoying home schooling my children.  We made the decision to go this way with our children’s education for so many reasons that I don’t want to go into right now…but let me just say it has been a joy to me.  I can’t quite explain how, but it just feels like it completes the picture for our family.

We first started home schooling in early spring this year.  I wanted to start Judah in Kindergarten early so that if we decided we needed to enroll him in public school we would still have plenty of time.  We took our own little “summer break” through the month of July because we had so many special activities going on with us and our extended families.  So, we’ve been back at it the past week and a half and I have to say I definitely prefer having a regular routine.  I can really relate to young children who need a consistent schedule and stability.  I need it just as much as them.  I feel myself being happier throughout the day when I know that there’s a purpose to all of our goings on.

I’ve added doing PreK with Bella now, and I’m really pleased with how things are going with her, and Judah.  I’ve tried my best to correlate both of their work so that we can all still study the same theme every week:  same letter sound, same bible lessons, same science and art projects.  And Justice jumps in on all the songs and games, and then spends the rest of the time coloring (a lot…he loves to color) and doing centers, which equates to playing with blocks or cars mostly.

We’ve also joined the FAITH home school group which gives us even more opportunities for learning and connecting with our community.  I’m really excited about this year, and I’m really happy with how everything is going.


Spiderman Birthday Party

Our Amazing Judah turned 5 this year and we just had  to celebrate Spidey style.  Judah has been in love with Spiderman since some time around last summer-fall, but not because he had seen any of the movies or comics or cartoons; Judah fell in love with Spiderman when he saw a costume in the store.  So for 9 months, he had been asking for a Spiderman birthday party.

Now that he’s 5, and has a much stronger opinion about everything, I wanted to throw Judah a “super cool” party – one that he would say was cool.  In May we gave Justice an Elmo party that involved turning our entire dining room into Elmo’s World using butcher paper and crayons.  It was a huge hit with the kids, so I wanted to do something just as big and special for Judah’s party.

Of course, my first and foremost goal is to make my child’s day special without blowing our budget, so I try to make most of the decorations…this is where it takes a lot of creativity, and it helps that my mother-in-law has the Cricut and is a really good sport for all my ideas.  I also found a couple of blogs out there that had some cool ideas that I incorporated into our party.  I just searched “spiderman birthday party.”  So here are all of my ideas, almost all homemade:

For the invitations I got this idea from a blog I found.  I printed a free online coloring page of spiderman’s head on red cardstock and cut it out.  Then I cut a slightly smaller shape from spiderman comic books and glued on the back side.  I got some used, inexpensive comics from a local comic store for this.  Then I printed the party info on vellum and stuck on top of the comics.  I had to use special vellum tape  = $6.

  My first idea for decorating was to make a giant web and have it suspended in the air…some black yarn and time was all I needed for this…a big impression for cheap = huge success.  I then added to my original thought by connecting the web to a spiderman cut-out to make it look like Spiderman was shooting the web.  I accomplished this in two ways.  The first was made with a spiderman poster and some foam board = $7.  The second was made from a spiderman gift bag I had leftover from another birthday party.  I simply cut the spiderman figure out and glued it to a poster board I already had = free!  Here’s how they turned out

As far as other decorations go, I made pom-poms out of tissue paper, as well as bought a couple of lanterns. My mother-in-law made webs and call-out sign with her Cricut. She also had a cartridge that made cityscapes that I used. And I did buy a banner and spiderman cups (they held candy) that was on clearance at our local party store.

I also incorporated a large cityscape painted on a poster board. I just used a small cityscape that was cut out with the Cricut, and a projector, and traced and painted. I put the large cityscape on the party favor table.

As far as party favors, I try to keep them simple and not spend too much money on them because, as a mom of 3 little kids, I know where they end up…lost or in the trash. So, I got the idea to make these fry boxes from a blog I found, also made with the Cricut, so all we had to do was fold and glue them. I decorated them with a tiny cityscape, a call-out, and a sticker. I made the boy and girl boxes a little different, but that was mostly because I could only find 1 pack of spiderman masks. So I gave those to the boys, and made girl masks from a foam kit I found at Walmart. Then I threw in some spidey tattoos, spiderman pinata candy, and a spiderman coloring page.

For food we had Doc Ock hot dogs, with chili to go along with it. Bugles in honor of the Daily Bugle, the newspaper that Peter Parker photographs for. My husband made our own copy of the newspaper for this special occasion. As far as the cake goes, I just have to say I have an amazing cake lady. She gets all the credit for her work.

Here are just a few extra photos to complete the picture

All in all, everything turned out very nice. I think all the kids had fun, and Judah was very happy with everything. All the hard work paid off with another successful party.

Cheer-up Cookies

This is how I spent naptime today. We were talking about cheering people up today in school, and Bella and Judah both said they needed cheering up, and honestly, so did I. So I thought this might do the trick. Family cookies~Daddy, Mommy, Judah, Bella, & Justice. Letter A and Number 4 in a repeating pattern. Baseball cookies for the boys. Heart cookies for Bella. Everyone loved them, even Daddy and his “perfect women” who is sweet and doesn’t nag ;)  Success…happy family = happy mommy :D


I’m feeling a little guilty for neglecting my blog.  Life has gotten eventful in recent weeks, and every time I would sit down to write, something would pull me away.  But, however bad this turns out to be, I promised myself I’d actually finish this time.

Bella played her last soccer game last night, which as fun as it was, I have to say I am relieved.  I loved watching her play (when she actually did), but in the meantime, T Ball started.  So for a little while, we had sports 4 nights a week.  But that wasn’t so bad…until Judah’s games were rescheduled on the same night as Bella’s soccer practice.  So I would have to tell myself it was okay to miss his game to coach Bella’s soccer team, but it didn’t make it any easier.

Also, during all of our running around Justice got strep throat.  Nothing to serious or anything we couldn’t handle.  We caught it early, and he was feeling better soon.  However, just a week later Judah got sick and we found out that he has asthma :( It was rough for a while, a little scary for this mommy, but all is fine now.  And he played awesome at his first game.

Mother’s Day was great this year.  After spending time with most of my family, I got to do my favorite thing…come home and get in my pjs and spend the night with my favorite people.

Last Saturday was the most eventful.  After staying up all night getting things ready for Justice’s birthday party, we headed to Radcliff at 8:30 am to the Walk for Life, a fundraiser we participate in every year for our local pregnancy crisis center.  My mom and I walked 2 miles, pulling a wagon that contained my 3 kids and weighed roughly 80 pounds.  We then grabbed something to eat before Judah’s baseball game, went to Judah’s baseball game, then ran a few last-minute errands for the big birthday party…all in the blazing heat.  I finally got home that evening to finish some yard work and decorating, so that, thanks to Brandon and Shannon, we turned our dining room into Elmo’s World for Justice’s Elmo Party.

Brought to you by the Letter J and the Number 2

So we had Justice’s big Elmo Birthday Party on Sunday, which was a huge success!  Everything turned our perfect, and we all had fun, especially the birthday boy.  But that’s a whole other blog that will come later.  Here’s just a preview

Also this month, Jason got sick, I got poison ivy (still have it :( ), and my dad had surgery.  We’ve had our fair share of soccer games, baseball games, doctor visits, hospital visits, weddings, birthdays, and everything in between.  It’s been eventful, and exhausting, to say the least.  But this month is almost over, and we just have 3 birthdays and 1 holiday weekend to go.  If I could, I’d hibernate for the summer…but as it is, I’ll just have to settle for letting this day be pajama day.