Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Snowin' in the Pines

I may have been late to Sunday School this morning, but I DID get pictures of the third time (???) I have ever seen snowflakes appear from the sky over my childhood home!  It came down for a few hours but didn’t linger for play but oh how pretty it was falling on a backdrop of tall, straight pines.  Julia and I tromped around in pj’s and boots looking and clicking when we should have been getting ready.  As she said, "It is a White Day-After-Christmas!" and I say, a perfect Christmas in Dixie.  

(From my bedroom window)

After church, the cousins bundled up to document the surprise snowfall!  We may never get the chance again! 

(Hunter took the time to edit this one!  She does a great job and taught me a few tricks!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

I am a sucker for quotes.  Some of the names tagged on the end of quotes I recognize, but most I don’t.  For all I know, the person could be an ax murderer with a random good thought. In any case, I like the way people put a thoughtful thing together with words.  Good ones usually make us read a little slower, then stop and think for a second, or a minute, an hour, or some, a lifetime.   The one I’ve been thinking about today is by Alexander Smith-- and incidentally, I think he’s fine.  Anyone born into a large family during the 1800‘s in a thatched house in the Scottish Lowlands must be a good guy, right?  (And his mother’s name was Christina.)  Here’s his good thought, “Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  Holds all time together.  God created time and He transcends time.  He is not constrained by it as we are.  Christmas brings us the HOPE of eternal life, the possibility, if we choose it-- connecting the here and now to our eternal future with Him.  Jesus, the true gift of Christmas, stretches between the two-- and holds all time together.  Now, that I can ponder awhile. 
Here’s our update:
Our one bit of family news I didn’t share in my 2009 letter was we gave the children a Golden Retriever puppy last Christmas.  Gabriel.  I fought the good fight of “no” until one Wednesday night after work, I headed upstairs for the “Mommy check” and found Brighton barely awake, waiting to tell me some big news.  “Mom!  Guess what Daddy said?  We can get a dog when I am 10 and Julia is 12!!  Isn’t that exciting, Mom? I can’t wait!!”  Mind you, this was 4 years away at the time and he couldn’t sleep for his anticipation!  I went down like a pitifully folded paper airplane.  I waved the white “puppy for Christmas” flag and Jeff put Operation Gabriel in motion.  Only “dog people” understand why I share this bit of news.  Well, the Sanders house has not been the same since.  Not only do I have strange new cleaning gadgets around (I’d like to shake the hand of the woman-it HAD to be a woman- who came up with Swiffer line-oh, and the Fur-minator!), we have seen our backyard bushes gnawed to nubs, padding chewed out of numerous bike helmets (Brighton is currently riding the neighborhood with his batting helmet atop his head), outdoor furniture fraying in places we never thought possible, and teeth marks on things that cause us just to shake our heads and wonder if we should just feed him wood chips!  You know what I am going to say next-- he’s such a good dog.  Really, he is.  
The kids are doing well.  Julia is almost 9 and Brighton just turned 7, which makes them in 3rd and 1st grade.  I am still teaching them at home and for the most part, our days go pretty smoothly.  “Bumpy” days would be those that include one or more sleepyheads, doing Math at the speed of a snail with a hangover, a teacher distracted by laundry, her phone, her computer, her kitchen floor in desperate need of “swiffering”, Brighton asking me to call “Mr. Saxon” because “This math is not right!” or finishing all his work for the day in an hour not knowing what in the world to do with him for the rest of the day, not being able to find ONE pencil, Julia looking at her math but being in a galaxy far, far away, siblings that act like they’ve never heard the word kindness or patience in regards to each other, Brighton beating Julia in a math drill, and last, but definitely not the least, a teacher in need of a high sugar snack.  I relish the days that they cheer each other on, we take a field trip, they finish Math before lunch, we get to read into the afternoon to our hearts content, and I can say, at the end of the day, that I was a nice Momma.  
Julia still enjoys ballet, piano and sewing.  She’s the one who sews on the buttons at our house..  She’s my child that loves to read and I have enjoyed reading childrens’ classics I never read right along with her.  She is my “can do” girl, ever ready and happy to help whenever I need it.  
Brighton enjoyed his second season of baseball this year.  His genuine, enthusiastic love for people delights his recipients.  He continues to enjoy snapping together amazing Lego creations, playing the piano, drawing whatever is on his mind and being a catalyst for Julia’s sanctification.  
Jeff’s work with Tarrant NET ( is going well.  The highlight of our year came in October on “Faith in Action” weekend when about 85 churches (roughly 12,000 volunteers) joined together on one weekend and served our city by working on a myriad of projects around Fort Worth.  Many wonderful things took place and most importantly, God was glorified by the unity displayed and the good works accomplished.  Glory to Him.  And Glory to the Son Who holds all time together.

“While they were there, the TIME came for the baby to be born...”  Luke 2:6  Amen

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waiting with Words

There's a familiar charge in the air.  To "cope" with all this Christmas electricity Brighton draws and Julia writes.  Her poem is simple and sweet and I thought it was worth sharing even though her first line is wishful memories from last Christmas!     

Christmas is Coming
Snow is falling
Wind is blowing
Christmas is coming.
Cookies are baking
Children are playing
Christmas is coming.
Hot chocolate is steaming
and children are reading.
Christmas is coming.
The scent of trees
And joy and glee
Christmas is coming.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons from Imogene

Some people say I over protect my children-- that maybe I shelter them too much.  It has been said that I have pulled the boundary lines in too tightly.  I’m open.  I’ll talk about  it and here is what my question would be-- Is that really possible?  On one hand, in certain circumstances, I guess it IS possible, but, on the other hand, here?   Inside the city limits of Fort Worth?  Really?  Just living life exposes them to PLENTY- making trips to the grocery store (thinking of the eye catchers at the check out), having friends--churched and unchurched, chatting with our waiter or waitress, watching a baseball game on TV, seeing billboards and advertisements, visiting dear family or special friends who may simply do things differently.  

There is a certain delight in sheltering them from some things.  It’s ALL coming eventually, right? They will see it all and know it all whether they like it or not.   Oh, they know a few things I wish they didn’t, but it was time.....whether I like it or not.  One of those “delights” is being able to address a mature matter face to face in the safety of our den, or around the dinner table, or reading about unfamiliar situations all cuddled up on the couch BEFORE it sends shock waves throughout their little central nervous system.  It’s significant for me to know their initial reaction- the reaction I have regrettably lost through all my years- about something grievous or inappropriate or just downright mischievous.   Obviously, at times, their reactions are right on and with the right material, down right funny.  A couple of weeks ago, I chose some purposeful exposure.

I began reading Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to them and you would have thought, by their faces and gasps, I was reading some cheesy grocery store romance novel to them.  Oh my.  I had the hardest time maintaining a straight face, agreeing with their incredulous expressions with my eyes, eyebrows and the shaking of my head.  They were horrified, but also intrigued by the Herdman characters.   If Brighton asked once, he asked a hundred times to look at the group picture of the six kids.  It’s a simple pencil drawing but has no trouble communicating their boisterous badness.  BAD---NESS.  These kids are just horrible.   They run wild in the neighborhood, set fire to things, spread lies about other kids, steal, smoke cigars, plant poison ivy in their front yard, have a bobcat for a “pet”, say bad words (though we never actually see any of them in the book), ridicule and mock everyone in the school and the list goes on.   Needless to say, my kids were WIDE-EYED and motionless any time we picked up the book to read and they always begged for more.  I haven’t figured out if this is good or bad-- see how this naughtiness is so interesting, so mysterious to them??  I want to be the one who digs into it with them-- to talk ALL about it and remove that “mysteriousness” from it like a magician revealing his secrets.  Not so appealing anymore.  Not that impressed anymore.  

This story definitely turns sweet, but only a couple of times.  My favorite part is when the director of the pageant realizes the Herdman children don’t know the Christmas story.  At all.  Nada.  Their questions are genuine, “Who were the shepherds?”  “Where did they come from?” “What’s an inn?”  “What happened first?”  And my favorite, one of the children demanding, “Begin at the beginning!!”   Their honest interpretation is that Joseph was a sort of dead beat because the Bible doesn’t record him explaining his wife’s dire situation.  Imogene let’s out a couple of “MY GOD(s)!!”  in disbelief of how the couple was treated.  “Not even for Jesus??”  she exclaims.  When the Herdmans find out they placed the Baby Jesus in a feed box, in exasperation one of the children yells out,  “Where was the Child Welfare?”  And maybe the most horrific realization was that Jesus was “just born and [they were] already trying to kill him!”   They were not at all happy when they found out that King Herod died in his sleep as an old man.  The Herdmans came up with a much more exciting and vindictive end to his life to conclude the pageant but the director wouldn’t allow it, of course.  I won’t give away the last chapter-- the actual pageant.  It does not disappoint and for some, you might want a tissue handy.  

It was great for my children to hear this book and see the Christmas story through children who had only heard the amazing account only a few days before.  I liked a lot about the book but the key for me was that my kids saw how the story of Jesus and His COMING TO US can soften even the seemingly hardest hearts they EVER will encounter.  And when they do encounter these hard hearts, maybe they won’t be intimidated or intrigued.  I hope they remember Imogene Herdman and what His story did to her heart. 

 I am 100% sure the book will be requested next year.

“Hey!!!  Unto to you a child is born!”

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Worth the Trip....... Dude.

The kids and I spent some time at our children's museum this afternoon and in honor of the Christmas season, most of the activities were about lights, shadows, reflections and such.  This is us peering through one end of a mirrored triangular tunnel.  When B saw these pictures he said, "I have LOTS of Mommas to love me and lots of sisters to keep!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Growing Up (and a little rambling)

I always wondered if we could do it-- if she would do it.  For ten years I remember decorating my childless home wondering if I had a daughter, if I would want her help or more importantly, would she want to help?  I wanted to be a Mom who could pull off both-- wanting her to help which also means, letting go of “just right” AND being a Mom a daughter would WANT to help.  This year, together, we did it in half the time.  She was even the one who helped me pull it ALL out of the attic!  She was downstairs early on “Black Friday” ready to decorate the house for the birthday of the ages.  At one point she was handing me trim while I was on the ladder and I stopped to tell her, “Julia, in all our years to come, whatEVER it takes to make this fun for you, just let me know.  Can I get you some more hot chocolate?  Candy?”  I remember the last time I made such a big deal about her helping me.  I was about to begin the dreaded washing and scrubbing of the apples (wax coating and caramel don't do well together) for our caramel apple party we throw for our neighbors the night before Thanksgiving and she said,  “Mom, if we do this together, it should be fun!”  Well, she was right.  It was fun.  Her attitude made it much more enjoyable.

About half way through the mantle garland, she was tying ribbon and she stopped and fixed bug-eyes on me.  As serious as the Pope, she said, “Mom! What if my husband wants to put a big blow up snowman in our front yard or Santa and his reindeer on the roof?! What will I do?!”  (Sorry if you are a “blow up” fan.  Our annual game is shooting them with imaginary BB guns as we drive past them. I am the reigning sharp shooter champion 3 years running, but if you ask Jeff, he will argue that.  He always does.  Don’t believe anything he says.)  The dire look on her face made me laugh-- loud.  She didn’t wait for any comment from me.  She put her ribbon down and headed straight for the office where she knew her Daddy was.  This was a disturbing new thought for her and she needed to talk about it.  When she came back, not quite as ruffled, I asked her what Daddy said, “We need to pray about that.”  Of course.  I hadn’t thought of that prayer.

She’s growing up.  Her thoughts are growing up.  Her taste buds are growing up.  Her preferences are growing up.  We needed an ALL red Christmas dress for the children’s part in the cantata last weekend.  We had holiday dresses from last year that still fit, but not ALL red and I could not justify purchasing another dress.  We were in Dillards the weekend before the cantata and walked right by a slew of RED dresses and she wanted to look.  As she fingered all the ruffles, the fabric, the straps, I gawked at the price tags.  No.  No.  No. It just confirmed the fact that we didn’t need another one.  I told her in my normal no-nonsense, black and white way, “No.”   But I was curious which one she’d I asked her.  Of course it was the one that looked like a prom dress, complete with spaghetti straps and rhinestone embellishments--- and what threw me was the chest insert!  The mannequin in the “girls” department needed bigger undergarments than I.  What??  After slight confusion and rechecking my whereabouts,  I was just mad.  One, that they had inserts in the dress and two, that Julia picked it!  My “madness” ruined the great conversation that COULD have been- I started pointing to every “hoochy” looking dress ranting, “Just look at this one!  It’s a size SIX!!  Does this look like a Kindergartner’s dress??  And this one?  The ruffles barely cover the behind!?”  And then I got to the one she picked out, “And Julia,  ‘this’ (frantically waving my hand around the chest area)--- you don’t have “THIS” going on!”  (Regretted it immediately but it didn’t stop me.)  “If you were to wear this now, WHAT would you pick at 15?  What would be special for you to wear then?”   She walked off, head down and left me there with my hand on a couple of overdesigned dresses for 8 year olds.  Then my head went down.  Oh, I felt I was right, but I communicated it terribly.  Classic Krista.

Yes, I got a do-over later, thankfully.  It went much better than my tantrum I threw in Dillards.  I am really okay with my anger, but not my expression of it to Julia.  My unchecked emotions made it feel like it was her fault somehow.  The dress she liked was pretty-- just not appropriate for an almost 9 year old.  What is it with us, with culture, that wants our kids to grow up yesterday?  Especially our girls.  Just read the first couple of chapters of Dobson’s book Bringing Up Girls.  The ways the advertising world markets specifically to our little girls is enough to bring on a need for the Pepto Bismol and the statistics of the success rates of these marketing ploys makes you want to move to a compound in North Dakota or something. Yeah, that’s the answer.  I know.  Bring on the sound (absent of ranting or frantic-ness) counsel of my husband.

(Let’s establish this first--I think it goes without saying but I know how Julia dresses doesn’t make her "godly".   Any Mom reading this can understand concerns with the ever shrinking female wardrobe.)

Just when I am whining to Jeff about how will we ever raise good kids in this ever- worsening quagmire of culture, he reads me this.  “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

I know that verse.  It was the fresh air I needed.  I had been thinking of the quagmire too long.  It was the perfect application to make me stop and realize several things:  I have His divine power to raise my kids.  I just need to live in it, walk in it.  He will multiply grace and peace in my parenting as I live in Him.  Even in this culture of 2010 that seems to prowl around, hover over and pick off our children, what He offers us STILL works for training in life and godliness.  His Truth is forever applicable.  We can still live, in His power, to show the world His glory and His excellence.  Praise His Name!  Isn’t His Word great?

As far as her clothes go--my prayers for her (and for myself!) are that she would have the discernment to chose things that are age appropriate, the sensitivity to dress in a way that honors her male friends, the wisdom to focus more on the beauty of her “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”.  (I Peter 3:4)

As far as blow-up lovin' future hubby-- I told her later that night that if her husband wanted blow-ups in the front yard AND was a Jesus freak, that’d be okay.    

Mortimer's Manger- Exceedingly, Abundantly

When I read the book Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson a few years ago, I was hooked.  I decided we'd read it every year-- a GREAT excuse AND purpose to make a gingerbread house.  You'll have to read it for yourself to find out who Mortimer is, and why he wants a manger, and what he gets as an answer to his prayer.  That's where Ephesians 3:20 comes in.  It's perfect.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Awe in Markers and Pencil

This is the message of Christmas:  We are never alone.  ~Taylor Caldwell

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:22-23

I look forward to these every December. These drawings are just one of the things I'll miss as the children get older- their imagination in markers or pencil.  They wasted no time in getting started this year... putting to paper this miraculous story.  The first ones appeared bedside the night we put out our special creche, a wedding present from Jeff's sister.  Something else I'll miss are questions like this one from Brighton just yesterday, "Mom, if we went to Bethlehem, would we fit?" If there was no room for Joseph, Mary and the Baby, how in the world could there be room for us?

So, I wonder, when will they draw their last nativity scene?   When will they no longer be enamored by the Baby King?  When will being the one who gets to place Him the manger not be the coveted job?  Will they lose the awe of this mysterious story?  Will I?  Have I? 

May it never be. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Thousand Joys

O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.
--Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sabbath Invitation

Almost nine years ago, a friend gave me a book that I have read several times and have given it as gifts even more-- No Ordinary Home by Carol Brazo.  It has been out of print for several years which is a shame but it’s a treasure to those who have it.  Although, I have gleaned much from the book, the most life-changing has to be her thoughts on the Sabbath.  It was the first source, other than the Bible, I had ever read that highlighted the commandment and encouraged families to practically exercise it.  I was fascinated......intrigued and challenged.  I had often wondered what taking a Sabbath rest really meant, what it felt like and looked like in this millenium and thought that surely it didn’t mean to sleep all day-- even though that sounds really good to me at this particular moment.  When I reacquainted myself with the Old Testament Scriptures from Exodus and read that if anyone worked on the Sabbath, they should be put to death, I decided to sit up a bit straighter and pay attention to the print in front of me. 
In His faithfulness, God gives us a vision of obedience and the blessing that accompanies it.  Here’s the picture He gives us through the prophet Isaiah,  “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.  (Isaiah 58:13-14).  Read it again.  Wow.  Really?  All that?  Why would I deprive myself, my family and NOT observe the Sabbath?    
When I think of rest, I think of words like order, delight, stillness, peace, quiet.  I think of times of lingering, savoring and refreshment.  I have to make room for these seemingly mysterious times in my life because “stillness” rarely just happens in a typical day or week.  Apart from bedtime, rest is elusive, therefore, I have to be intentional in carving out a time for my family to experience true rest.  
For me personally, as a wife and mother, observing the Sabbath has placed a rhythm in my week.  David Maines refers to it as the “rhythm of the sacred”-- and if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am ALL about rhythms and things that are familiar and repetitive.  The simple rhythm: spending 3 days anticipating and preparing for the Sabbath (physcially and spiritually) and then 3 days savoring what He did in our lives on the Sabbath.  Practically, that means by Thursday, I am setting my sights on having the house cleaned, the meal (plus dessert) planned, and our family ready to experience rest together.  By sundown Saturday, practically, my goal is to be finished with weekly tasks or at least be ready to lay them aside-- easier typed than done but absolutely important.  No one ever has all boxes on the Master List check off, but we need to be willing to set the list down and enjoy the freedom freedom in that “putting aside”.  Spiritually, it means I have been anticipating being with Him, resting in Him and praying about what to share with the children after the meal.  Around 6:00 our official Sabbath begins as we sit down to a set tableWe light candles, join hands, sing the Doxology and pray, inviting God’s Presence to fill our home and meet us during our Sabbath rest.  Dessert is always served whether vegetables have been choked down or not.  There should be a lightness and a joy surrounding the meal, therefore, don’t set your expectations too high if your table is surrounded by toddlers.  We are slowly implementing a simple, structured time with the children after dinner.  At this point, it can be as simple as a question like, “How have you seen God at work in you this week?”  I can’t wait for the times as they get older when we can discuss the Scriptures more in-depth and hear about their relationship and interactions with God. 

And that is how our Sabbath begins.

We all miss it when we don't get to have it and the children truly look forward to it.  Julia said the other day, "I just love it on the Sabbath when I have had my bath and am all clean and I can smell dinner in the kitchen.  I just love that feeling."   
In America in 2010, we deprive ourselves of very little................ except rest.  Our families and our own bodies are starving for it.  So give the Sabbath a whirl at your house.  I invite you to try it.  Find freedom in it and take your rest.  You will wonder why you waited so long.  
You will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
So be it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


B's stadiums just got a little more complicated and little more difficult to store......

It's a work in progress, but I love his ideas.  Now, if we could just put this much effort in to our grammar lessons.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I get it wrong a lot.  I make a big deal out of things-- good and bad-- that won’t matter the next day and sometimes even the next minute.  But every now and then, I get it right and highlight the significant.  A couple of Saturdays ago, “now and then” came around and we celebrated the day Julia asked Jesus into her heart.  We did it small and simply in our dining room with a few friends.  My intention was to include friends of hers that I believe are in her life for the long haul, granted God leaves us in Fort Worth, and Moms that I believe she will look to when she needs someone other than me.  I think every year may look different-- some of the same faces, some different faces, and most likely, some faces I have yet to meet.  Some moms may be moms of boys or moms of grown children who become women Julia loves and trusts as life goes on.  Some will be ladies that Julia meets through life apart from relationships I have nurtured.  The celebration may be in our home, someone else’s home, at a restaurant, on a blanket under a tree or around a picnic table but the main thing is, I don’t want it to pass without making something of it.  

We kept our “tea” to an hour and each girl and Mom had a few words or a chosen Scripture to share with Julia.  She was affirmed by her friends in areas that are paramount at this stage of life and I loved that one shared that she would have “long life” because of it.  The Moms blessed me by blessing Julia with reminders of what a kind Shepherd the Lord has been to her by placing her in our family and how her inner beauty is what makes her beautiful.  She was encouraged in “quiet deeds and bold actions” to proclaim the name of the Lord.  She was also challenged in regards to her special story of how God brought her to our family and that she can be confident in Him because of His perfect care for her.  
It was quick but oh, so sweet.  In fact, it was so fast that I wondered later if it meant anything to her-- more than a fun time to see her friends.  And then a friend sent me this:
If you and I had been present [when the earth was formless and empty] to view the earth, we might have had the impression that because we could not see any evidence of God's activity, He was not doing anything. Yet at that very time, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Gen. 1:2, NIV). He was actively preparing Planet Earth to receive His Word and be transformed into a place of beauty and purpose. (Anne Graham Lotz)
I pray that He, Spirit of God, is hovering over her and preparing Julia to receive His Word, shared by dear friends and that Julia will be transformed into a person of beauty and purpose.  So be it.

Now, THAT's significant.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

little things

 I am feeling a little nostalgic today.  It's the kid's fault.  Maybe.  When they were itty, we had a Fun Friday "habit".  If we were in town, I would strap them into their car seats and head to story time at Barnes and Nobles.  We started before Brighton could walk, so with him on my hip and Julia's curls bouncing ahead of me, we would make our way to the "Thousand Acre Woods" in the back of the store and join other Moms in need of a little adult distraction.  Nancy and the other sweet ladies there would serve up Goldfish in little paper cups to toddlers on miniature benches, read a colorful picture book to a rowdy crowd and hand out a toddler-friendly craft, some of which are still framed in our learning room.  Simply fun.

As much as we loved the smell of fresh coffee combined with brand spanking new books, the morning out (there's something very satisfying about putting on make-up before 10 am in that life stage), the Goldfish, and the story, I believe the next phase of our Fun Friday is what brought on the squeals of happy anticipation.  Popcorn and cheese for lunch and SCREEN TIME!!!!  Of course, there is a back story here.  I didn't just randomly come up with that-- it was premeditated and VERY purposeful.  Even five years ago, I had trouble with coming up with lunches.  Popcorn and cheese seemed reasonable to me especially if I placed a big bowl of fruit beside them.  Friday lunch--- check!  And the screen time?  Well, I let them watch, not one, not two, but THREE little shows!  Oh, they were in heaven.  Mesmerized.  Their eyes would be straight ahead with their hands going from bowl to mouth, mouth to bowl.  It was awesome.  I had a whole hour and fifteen minutes to do whatever I wanted!
Every now and then, we have one of our Fun Fridays.  We don't load up for the Barnes and Nobles.  They'd look a little out of place at this point.  We read our own books, get out the popcorn popper and needless to say, watch something other than Miffy, even though I miss that little rabbit.
We were able to do it last week and this still happens- of their own accord.  (I have no idea about the baseball helmet and don't ask me about the sanitary conditions of my cutting board.)

So, today, I am grateful-- grateful that we have the memory of those Fun Fridays and that still it is fun for them.  It's the little things, right?  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boy Birthday #7

The grin when all the attention is on him!

Getting the ball down the lane any way he can

This picture explains exactly why I had Julia's  friend join us at B's party.

I learned by year 3 that children don't care for homemade cakes!  Actually, they only like Crisco based icing. 

Laser Tag was the biggest hit.  Even Julia is wanting a Laser Tag birthday in a few months.  And Jeff, too.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Execute or Experience?

It’s time for a re-post.  For me.  Because some of my closest friends take their precious time to read what floats through my mind, I want those special gals to hold this one gal accountable.  I wrote this last January after I sat back and thought about my personal Christmas season.  We finished celebrating Brighton’s birthday a few days ago so my thoughts turned toward His birthday-- and I got butterflies.  I post it now- the end of October-- in hopes that it may encourage you (and me) to pray and to make plans for this to be a Christmas we ponder The Great Miracle.  So below are my thoughts from last year and my prayer for this year.

There’s something sad about a Christmas tree after Christmas. It’s empty underneath except for the few ornaments that have fallen through the branches and were never re-secured. The tree skirt is all wocky-jawed, sprinkled with sheddings. Even switching on the lights doesn't bring it to life like it did before December the 25th. I’ve never liked coming home to a post-Christmas house. The energy is spent, the anticipation has vanished and the opportunities of the season are lost..... until next year, that is. If I had the stamina of Tigger and the time of Mr. Magoo, I would try to take all the decorations down before we left for Georgia so I wouldn’t have to come home to it, but that would have a sadness all its own. Unfortunately, this year I found out there is something much more depressing. Personally, I had some regrets this Christmas. It’s hard to type, but it’s the truth.

As I was falling asleep one night last week, I had the thought that maybe I had celebrated this Christmas like a pagan. Not my best bedtime thought. This string of thoughts was worse than any night time parenting regret I’ve ever had. I can try to be a better parent when the sun rises. With Christmas, I have to wait a whole year to do it differently. I’ve often wondered what this particular holiday was like for people who don’t know Christ personally. I would think it would seem like a heap of trouble and a major hurting on the bank account and all for what? For who? Ourselves? Ick.
What did I do? I executed Christmas without actually experiencing it. I decorated my house for the celebration of His birth. I talked about Him. I listened to songs about Him. I saw things that represented Him in my home. I made a cake for Him. I even read about my children. However, I don’t think I ever really entered in. I didn’t make time to enter in, to ponder, to reflect. And I regret it. Immensely. I feel I suffered the consequences for days before I realized my sin. I made my choices every day, the main one being execution instead of experiencing which forced me to land on the other side of Christmas empty.
What will I do next year? The thing is, there’s no magic formula. There is no “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” list I will check off next year and how absurd would that be anyway? It’s my choice of how I spend the hours that make up the season. It’s my choice whether or not I want to include the “execution of Christmas” on my list of “pass on’s” to my kids instead of the “experience of Christmas”.
My obvious prayer for next year will be all about “experience”. I don’t want a repeat. I suspect we will do a lot of the same things, but, personally, I want to experience them differently, from a better perspective, with a heart that’s close to bursting with anticipation. He may ask me to change some things. He may not, but whatever He asks, I will do. When we pull into our garage after our time in Georgia in 2010, I don’t want the lifeless tree to be a sight to avoid but one to see and relish the time I chose to ponder and to experience Him, my Savior and my Deliverer from my sins. So be it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brighton's Birthday Letter 2010

How nice to have complete freedom to just sit and think about YOU today-- not a list, not a plan, not a decision, not a struggle, but YOU and the LIFE you infuse into our family.  
You don’t look seven to me, but my trusty, yet annoying, calendar says you are.  Just this morning as you were pulling your SillyBandz from behind your special hiding spot (for fear I will throw them away), you pointed to the picture they were behind, grinned your bright grin and asked, “Who’s that little guy you’re holding?”  Knowing it was rhetorical, I just smiled, but I did decide to stop and see what else you’d have to say.  You took your ever growing finger, circled your face in the corner of the frame and said, “I like that little guy right there-- that face-- how I look right there.  I like my little face.”  Oh, as do I, sweet B.  As do I.  However, sometimes I don’t linger on it long enough, not long enough to really tell why you are “noodling” (going limp) when you are acting like you can’t figure out a math problem or when you seem determined to drive your sister nuts before she gets a chance to turn 10.  Sometimes, though, I get to linger on your perfect face and savor it, like when you are telling a story and I am trying to figure out if it is concocted or not, or when you are standing at the top of the stairs after being soundly tucked by your Daddy trying to come up with something that will get you back down the stairs or my favorite, when you are fresh out of bed full of things to say and your hair is indescribable, but let me try-- standing on end, but resembling something like an exploded eagle’s nest.   I get the biggest kick out of seeing you talking as serious as an astronaut ready for take off with hair like that.  When we cut your hair, I’ll miss that.  A lot.  

You sailed through Kindergarten creating waves that Julia and I were unaccustomed to navigating our previous years.  This year, first grade is much the same.  Some waves are fun to ride and some capsize us causing us to wonder if we really can do all this---- together.  You do everything FAST, from eating a PB&J to answering your math facts.  In fact, you give your sister a run for her cute little piggy bank with our flash card games.  Because you work so quickly, it leaves you with a lot of free time and since you don’t really like playing by yourself-- anywhere, nor doing extra school work, you spend a lot of time rolling around the learning room floor distracting your day dreamer sister, whose 3rd grade work takes much longer.  This is not a good combination.  Capsized.  We ALL need rescuing.  Quickly.  Some days the only word I can come up with when your Daddy comes home is “unbelievable.”  On those days, your unique vocal antics leave me speechless.  On glorious good days when you are actually following instructions and doing your work without commentary, or you and Julia are cheering each other on in math, or playing football together during “recess”, tickling each other during “line time”,  I realize how much I love having you two together- learning how to pull off a day, in all our sinfulness, together.  You bring just what we need to school, B-- you are Julia’s delight and demise and my crash course in sanctification.  

I sense it won't be long until I can call you my brother in Christ.  He's drawing You and you are almost ready.  You are watching things and people constantly-- filtering your findings through all you know about God.  Your Daddy and I are praying for you, for this decision to be your own and ultimately for you to love and serve the Lord in ways of which we never even dreamed.    

When you roll over at 7 am, you are the one from whom PARAGRAPHS spill.  It could be about baseball, a tattle from the days before, a random story you had been saving all night, your thoughts about our day’s activities, or a list of questions about tombstones, hot dogs, God Himself, or giraffes. 
You are the one who says things like, “The guy who wrote this book is wrong.”  (referring to Richard Saxon of Saxon Math curriculum.  Yeah.)  You even ventured to say, “Mom, you need to call him and tell him this is too hard for me.”   

You are the one whose excitement cannot be contained in your 55 pound body and it pretty much all comes out of your mouth.  Your brain and tongue move into “turbo” position and we all sort of stand back and watch. 

You are the one who will choose the Wii over a good ol' book any day, but every now and then you get wrapped up in a good story and can be as adamant about "one more chapter" as you do "10 more minutes"!  

You are the one I’d call the early bird- almost always ready to get out of bed and wander about until you find some company.   

You are the one who personifies persistence. If a robin could understand you, you’d convince your feathered friend that it could swim. If you are called to be an evangelist, a revival is coming to our land.  

You are the one who fills our days with monologues such as this one.  In the 5 seconds we are stopped to let you out at the baseball field before we find our parking place, you say, “Hey!  I smell a skunk!  Ew.  Mom! Dad!  What if WE were the skunks-- I  mean, like our baseball team was really called, ‘The Skunks’.  Wouldn’t that be funny?”  Through the crack as you are shutting the door, “Then everyone in the stands would be yelling, “Go Skunks!  Go Skunks! Go..!”  Door slams and we hear, “...Skunks!!”   Big grin flashes and you’re off to the batting cages with bat and glove in tow.  Or at bedtime, “Mom, what if God made our blood blue?  Like when I scratched my arm, blue stuff would come out of my skin.  Or my scrapes from the rose bush would be long BLUE streaks!”  

You are the one who hears the organ music in the background when we are watching the Rangers play.  As a result, you have figured out how to play all the baseball tunes and chants.  

You are the one who wants his back scratched anytime, anywhere, by almost anyone. However, you are rather picky about the places on your back you want scratched.  
 You are the one boosts your Daddy’s ego by asking him questions like, “You know those old guys in the dugout wearing uniforms?  Well, did you used to be one of those?”  But then you are also the one who says things like, “See that Mommy over there, that girl standing right by my closet?  I fell in L-O-V-E with her and now I have a big a crush on her.  She's my favorite.  This Mommy right here,"  with a HUGE hug. WHERE do you come up with stuff like that??

You are the one who doesn’t like change which, at this point, means you are a sentimental pack rat wanting to save EVERYTHING “for my kids” from the random T-shirt from Costco (with a hole in it) to the stick you found on a lake weekend “when I was three”.   Your full and colorful vocabulary does not include “declutter”.  Even taking apart Lego creations proves difficult for you.  

You are the one who keeps me sharp.  Now I know what it means to stay a step ahead of your children.  We both get into trouble if my brain ever shifts to neutral with you around.  

Your Daddy often says, “he’s a lot of fun” and you are.  You are a lot of things, Big B, but you are most definitely the one I love.  

As I am staying up late to finish this off, I realize we aren't but a couple of hours from the wee morning hours you were born.  The anticipation at this time in the night was at the tipping point and I was feeling pretty helpless.  The midwife sensed this, I think, and gave me jobs.  I must have proved myself "worthy" because at the critical moment she ordered me to pull you out and then gave me the honor of cutting your umbilical cord.  Once you found your lungs, you made up for the lost time and SCREAMED.  Your Daddy kept calling up the stairs, "Is it a boy?!  Is it a boy?  Can I come up? When can I come up?!!"  A few minutes later, which he refers to as "forever", it was a wonderful sight, seeing him with you that night.  He'd waited patiently for God to answer his prayer written in a journal only a few months before we found out about you.  He was holding an answer in his arms.  And I was looking at one.   

We love you the whole world, Jeffrey Brighton Sanders!   Happy Birthday.

Goodbye Six!  Hello Seven!