Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Reluctant Subject

Owen got his 2 year portrait taken yesterday. He was a rather reluctant subject, but we finally got a few smiles out of him. He glared and scowled at the photographer for the first several minutes, and I was thinking this attempt was a bust. (Owen is a bit of a momma's boy, and isn't fond of strangers.) But after seeing himself on the "tv", he warmed up a little bit.

Enjoy the pictures of my little O-Man. He's growing up sooooo fast. Thanks for the outfit Aunt KK...he looks adorable in it!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Portraits of Little Gentlemen

Here are some portraits taken of our twin boys at 3 years old. Don't they just look like perfect little gentlemen? Don't let the camera fool you! Just kidding. They can be at times...I love the sweetness captured in these photos. Just this morning, I noticed them holding hands as we were headed out to the van. I plan to remind them of these tender moments! :-)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

He Supplies our NEEDS

Ok, here's one of these transperency moments...I'm going to tell you something rather unflattering about myself.
I tend to be by nature a "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"-"the glass is half empty" kind of person. Contentment and optimism are not my strong points.
Ever find yourself thinking you NEED something, that you reall only WANT?
Well, God is teaching me something about all that, in fact, He has been for a long time, I'm sure, but I'm one of those long-term projects I guess you'd say.
In balance, though I have expensive tastes and desires, Ben and I live a pretty frugal life.
We live basically on one income. I work just enough hours a week to pay the electric bill.
We live in a 1930's house that has lots of "character" shall we say and requires lots of work and acceptance.
We don't have a garage or a pool.
We have one vehicle and it is 14 years old. It has some character of it's own.
We don't eat out at restaurants but a few times a year, and the Olive Garden is about as fancy shmancy as we usually get.
We don't have a boat, or a summer home.
We don't have those cool stainless steel appliances.
We don't go on vacation unless we can stay at Grandma's hotel.
I don't get manicures and pedicures. Neither does Ben. Shocker there, huh?
I dye my own hair (only because I inherited pre-mature whitening from my grandma) and it only gets cut about twice a event I look forward to with great anticipation!
I make my own baby wipes. If only I could figure out how to make my own disposable diapers and pull-ups I'd be all set!
We don't go to movies or shows. If we watch a movie it comes out of those new Red Box rentals where they are only $1 a night.
I use coupons to grocery shop, and I go to 4 different stores, to get everything I need at the lowest prices. This generally annoys anyone who is silly enough to volunteer to go with me. Getting ready to go, shopping, unloading and putting away groceries is a whole day event! Planning the meals for 2 weeks, and putting together a grocery list and compiling coupons takes a half day on it's own.
I buy all of my kids clothes from the store where I work...because I get an employee discount...and even then, I only buy them if they are on sale or clearance.
I am what you call a bargain shopper. If an item doesn't have one of those beautiful red clearance tickets on it...I don't need it!
I can and freeze my own applesauce (can't wait until fall when I get to do it again...there is nothing like the smell of my kitchen when I'm making applesauce. Yummy!)
I don't have a gym membership (though the mirror tells me every morning that I really could use one).
I have one of those pay as you go cell camera computer know, it's a PHONE.
We don't have cable TV.
And I'm generally pretty ok with all of that. Sure it would be nice to have some of those things, but I don't lay awake at night wishing for them.
But, there is one thing I have been coveting for the last few years.
It's not a diamond necklace, a new car, a trip to Italy.
I have been wanting, I say needing, a new know, one that works!
When we bought our house 4 1/2 years ago, it came with a well-used stove, which promptly died 8 months later. At that time, Evan was not quite 2, and we had JUST found out I was pregnant, though we didn't know yet that we were having twins. My parents, 2 of my sisters, 2 nieces and a nephew were all coming to our house for Thanksgiving. I was excited because it was my first time hosting a holiday in a house of our own, and it was the day we were going to announce our baby news to our family.
So, a week before the holiday, my oven which was to be the one to bake our fabulous Thanksgiving turkey, just gave up the ghost. It was done for...kicked the bucket...bought the've got the picture. My sweet, and very handy husband could not fix it. It really need a new home...a landfill.
I began to fret a little, I must admit. What was I going to do without a stove for Thanksgiving? How would we come up with money to buy one?
That next day, we went to Prayer Meeting, which was being held then at our Pastor's home. We sat there on his comfy leather couch in his study surrounded by just a few people. We asked our church family to pray with us that God would somehow supply the money we needed to buy a new stove. See, we thought we NEEDED a NEW stove.
After we started, a couple joined us, whom we didn't know, and who had just moved to the area. During prayer time, they heard us and our friends praying for a new stove. Afterwards, they asked us if we needed a stove. So, we told them about our predicament. Well, wouldn't you know, they had just bought a new stove and it was going to be delivered in a few days. They were needing to get rid of their old stove, which still worked...they just wanted a new one. Would we like their old stove?
Well, Yes! See, God supplied an answer to our prayer, about as immediately as you can get. But God knew we NEEDED a STOVE...not a NEW stove. A couple days before Thanksgiving this generous couple delivered the stove to our house, and we have never seen them since. We knew that this was of God. The timing was of Him. I really wasn't disappointed that I didn't get a NEW stove, because I got something much better and much more fulfilling. I got a really obvious answer to prayer from my Lord, and a reminder that He cares about the most mundane parts of life, the necessities of daily living, enough to arrange for this couple to show up at our church that very night. To have chosen that week to buy themselves a new stove so that they had one to give to someone in need. I was reminded of the love God has for me, His daughter.
Well, that stove was not what I had wanted, but you know what, it has met our needs for almost 4 years. It was 2 tone black and white, which I really don't like, and doesn't match the other all-white appliances, but it does what a stove is designed to do. It cooks food. It has baked us chocolate chip cookies, roasted our turkeys, boiled our pasta, baked our birthday cakes. It has been a daily tool I've used in feeding my family of 6. Ok, so the self-cleaning function never worked. I can live with that. And the broiler never worked either. A little disappointing, but we lived without it. But, she and I, have come to an impass. She has decided that she only wants to work on 2 burners. Ok, well, I've dealt with that for over a year. I know which 2 work, and which 2 don't. I only use 2 burners at a time. I bought all new elements...unfortunately, her problem is bigger than that.
Ben and I decided that we were going to set aside enough money out of our tax refund this year to buy a new stove. In our 12 years of marriage, all of our's have been hand-me-downs, and we figured we really should get a new one. This one has been aggravating us long enough.
It was February, this year. We had just received our refund, and I set aside enough money to buy the stove I wanted. We made our plans. Valentine's Day was Saturday. Ben didn't have to work this Saturday. We were going to go to Home Depot, buy our stove, and treat our boys to Friendlys. We were looking forward to a good day as a family, and a new addition to our kitchen!
Ben and Evan decided to go get me roses for Valentine's Day, while I got ready. While on their way to get the flowers, the van broke down. Ben was finally able to get it to limp to the house of a couple from our church, and they helped Ben get it towed to a garage. They lent Ben their second car to use for the weekend. After hours of being gone, Ben and Evan showed up at home with flowers from the grocery store that they stopped at on the way home. Our plans for the day were canceled. We couldn't fit our whole family into their car. No new stove, no fun trip to Friendly's for the boys. I won't even tell you how disappointed I was. But that disappointment paled in comparison to the dismay I felt when we payed for the repairs to our van....the amount for the repairs was almost exactly the same cost of the new stove I had picked out.
There would be no new stove this year.
Well, 4 months later, my parents moved up here from PA. They are renting a house right next door to us. We live in the village, so when I say right next door...I mean we can see into each other's houses! Anyway, my mom has a stove she bought recently and wanted to bring with her. Their landlord allowed them to put it in the kitchen, and he took out the stove which was in the house, an inexpensive brand stove that was only a few years old. My Dad mentioned to him that we needed a stove and maybe we'd want to purchase it. When my Dad told me that, I said NO! I don't want another stove unless it is going to be a new one. Now, doesn't that sound like a child! I just knew, that if we got another "old" stove, Ben would be content, and I would NEVER get that new stove I wanted. And this stove, was exactly the same as the one we have....white with black. It is self-cleaning, has a working broiler, and all the burners work. But it doesn't have the flat cooking surface that I wanted. I'd just stick with what I have, I decided. Of course, my husband thought the price of $125 was too much of a bargain to pass up. Fortunately for me, we didn't have an extra $125 floating around or hanging on our trees.
Well, God has been nudging me...Becca, do you really need a NEW stove? Couldn't you be content with what you NEED, not what you WANT?
A week and a half ago, my Mom and I had a yard sale. The sale was going pretty slow in the morning, even though we had some good quality things to sell. I was getting a little discouraged. Ben and I had decided that if we made enough money on the yard sale to cover the cost of the stove, we'd purchase it from my parents' landlord.
I sat out there in my driveway in the quiet and the HEAT between customers, and prayed that God would allow us to make just enough...just $125. As the day wore on, the tally rose slowly, but it didn't look like I would make it. But in the last hour of the sale, some wonderul customers came by, and not only helped me reach my goal, but surpass it. I made $160! Ok, this was a sign...God wanted us to get that stove.
So, last night, when I came home from work, I found my old stove out on the deck, and in my kitchen the "new" stove.

ok, isn't he the cutest little Vanna White, you've ever seen?
No, I didn't need my LG 30 in Freestanding Smooth Surface Electric Range, I had selected after I'd spent hours researching.
I didn't need a stove that matched perfectly the color of my other appliances.
I didn't need NEW.
I needed a STOVE.
And THAT is what God gave me. God said he would supply all our NEEDS, not our wants, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Could God have given me a brand new stove? Could He have kept our van from breaking down and costing us our stove fund? Could God have allowed it all to happen before the very day I was waiting for, so as to spare me the bitter disappointment? YES! But, I believe it all happended just as he wanted. To make me disappointed and miserable? NO. But I got a really obvious answer to prayer again. Another reminder that God cares about the most mundane parts of my life, the necessities of daily living, enough to arrange for my van to break down. To see to it that all of my money was spent. To have chosen to supply the needed sales at the end of our yard sale. I was reminded again of the love God has for me, His daughter.
And yes, God was teaching me whatsoever state I'm in, with whatever appliance I am using, there with to be content.
That lesson is a lot more valuable than the NEW stove I wanted.
I'm looking forward to more lessons in this regard....our washing machine is on the fritz! :-)

My honey and I celebrating my birthday.
Thanks for not giving in to my discontentment, Hon'.
Looking forward to baking you some chocolate chip cookies in our new oven!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our Soccer Star

Evan had the opportunity this week to do something camp.
We're trying to take advantage of free fun events offered in our area this summer.

That's Evan in the red, having just kicked the ball in the goal.
The coaches came to calling him "Big Red", a nickname that he cherished.
In fact, the next day he was upset that he couldn't wear that same outfit.
"But Mom, they won't remember that I'm Big Red."
It made him smile wide when he got there and they called him by his new name again.
The last day, after dribbling and juggling, they decided to call him "Spaghetti Legs".
He actually thought that was a cool name, too.
Getting some last minute coaching during their first scrimage.

Taking the ball down the field to kick on goal.

The soccer camp was hosted by a local church, and they had an awards program after the last day.
Each of the kids got a trophy.
Evan was ecstatic.
He said, "Mom, I've never gotten a trophy before!"
Hard to believe that in his five years of existence he hasn't amassed a pile of them.
Funny boy.
I told Evan before soccer camp started that if he stuck with it each day, and he liked playing, that we'd buy him a soccer ball afterwards.
Of course, he had his eye on a RED ball.
I posted on Facebook after the first day that Evan was having a great time and looking forward to getting a ball.
One of Ben's co-workers saw my post, and a few hours later, showed up at our door with a red soccer ball, cleats, shin guards, and socks that his boys had outgrown.
Wow...that was so nice.
And Evan LOVES his new ball....the best part is it's exactly like the one he had picked out.
He can't wait to go back next year...and his twin brothers who sadly watched him leave the house each morning with Mommy to go have fun, are eagerly waiting to join him next year, too.
On a completely different note:
ok, ok, that sounds so much more dramatic than it is. He hasn't done anything on the potty yet, but we've gotten him to sit down, which really is half the battle. (Actually, it's been more like bribing him....with lollipops. Hey, you go with what works.) He's been showing signs lately of being training ready, so we decided to get started....especially seeing that if he follows the trend of his brothers it might take a while until completion, anyway. So, call me crazy, insane, mentally unstable, or if you're super kind you could call me brave, courageous, unstoppable!: I'M POTTY TRAINING 3 BOYS AT ONE TIME!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let Them Choose

Sometimes, you just have to let your child choose what they want.
We're getting ready to start homeschooling Evan in a couple weeks.
We're working on converting our finished basement into a classroom.
My parents found this desk for Evan earlier this summer before they moved up here.
It is a great little desk and chair, just needed a paint job to freshen it up.
I had plans to paint them black...I figured that was more durable than white.
I was not thinking like a 5 year old boy.
He did not like my choice of paint color.
He was SURE that his desk and chair should be painted blue.
Oh, ok, I could blue...that might not look so bad.
No, Mommy, not that blue. The blue like on Pablo (see Backyardigans).
Ugh, bright blue.
Are you sure? I'm not sure that will look very good.
No, Mommy. I want bright blue.
Sigh. Ok, we'll go to the store after soccer camp and pick out some paint.
Secretly, hoping I could show him just how wonderful navy blue or even black would classy, you know.
Well, we walked into the paint sample aisle.
Evan, here's the blue section. Do you see something you like.
There it is! Instantly, his eyes fell on this bright blue paint sample.
I pointed out some darker more muted shades.
How about this one?
I'm not going to talk you out of that color am I?
So I gave in.

It turned out pretty good. Not the shade of blue I would have is bright.
But, it made my son so happy.
You should have heard him while I was painting.
Mommy, that looks awesome.
Mommy, you're doing a great job.
This is the best...this is exactly what I wanted.
And how can you argue with that.

Monday, August 10, 2009


This is a project that has been in the making for a long time. It's getting better. We've done a lot of work on it the last 4 years we've lived here, and it isn't done yet. I finally finished my year long project of painting all the cabinets and repainting the walls this summer, though. The big project that remains is the lovely forest geen formica countertop. It will be replaced one of these days, hopefully soon. We're planning to put in tile countertop ourselves...of course, we have all the time in the world to do that, right?

As you can see the countertop doesn't completely cover the dishwasher. There used to be a door over there, Ben took it out and sheetrocked it in, put in more upper cabinets and installed a dishwasher. Unfortunately the countertop there only comes out to cover the back half of the dishwasher. But hey, the dishwasher was free...someone was throwing it out because it didn't work, Ben brought it home a few years ago when I was pregnant with the twins and fixed it. Not perfect, but boy do I enjoy not having to wash all my dishes by hand!

The stove is an old hand-me-down that was given to us by strangers just days before Thanksgiving 2005 when our other one died. It was a neat of those obvious answer to prayer stories! It's next on the list of things to be replaced...the broiler doesn't work, the self-cleaning feature doesn't work, and 2 of the 4 burners decide when they want to work, which makes making supper fun. :-)
As you can see, living in an old home, the projects never really end. But we are enjoying the new semi-makeover, and we're glad to have our kitchen put back together.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sorry Gramma!

When we were at my in-laws house last weekend, Ben's mom reminded me that she hadn't seen any photos of Owen's 2nd birthday on my blog. Oops! Sorry Gramma! :-) Here you go.

Good Morning, Birthday Boy!

Here's the big boy's big day. We had a fun day at the Children's Museum in Saratoga. I had a blast making his cake. It's my new fun tradition to make a special cake for the boys' birthdays. I'm no expert and they certainly aren't decorated professionally, but it's fun to be creative, and the boys love them. As you can see, Owen loved his Wonder Pets cake.
Carter and I tried to teach him to put up 2 fingers...we'll have to keep working on that.
Playing at the museum in the trolley car

Wait a minute...can it be possible that my baby is really no longer a baby...but a full-blooded toddler? Say it isn't so! I know you're supposed to embrace every stage of life and enjoy it...but this time around especially, I'm finding it bittersweet. It feels like we JUST started having a family, and now to be at the end of that stage, I wasn't prepared for it to happen this fast! (FYI...that is what happens when you bring 4 children into the world in 3 1/2 years!) It doesn't travels at the speed of zooms past and leaves you looking at a blur. Wow....

Owen was our bonus baby. We didn't ask God for him, like we did with his brothers. We didn't wait and pray and cry and hope for him, like we did with his brothers. In fact, a week before he was conceived, Ben was commenting on a shopping trip how full our van was with 2 year old Evan and the 4 month old twins and our groceries. I made some "funny" comment about how we could fit one more car seat in. Ben very seriously looked at me and said, "I don't know about you, but I'm done." I made some smart comment about how I thought married people discussed those things together before coming to such a final conclusion. :-) And life went on.
Weeks later, it was Christmas Eve and some of my family were at our house. Ben and I camped out on the floor in the twins' room. As we lay there in the dark, I was feeling not good, very nauseas. Now, we have a history in my family of getting sick on the holidays. I was bummed...I didn't want to be sick on Christmas. But maybe I would be ok, because I had kind of been feeling that way a bit lately, and hadn't completely gotten sick. Ben jokingly said something about me being pregnant. We both laughed....knowing the path we had walked to have a family...that wasn't likely at all. Two days later, our family guests had all gone and the nausea was naggingly there...all day. That joking comment stuck with me. Maybe I'll take a test just to rule it out, and then I won't have that on my mind anymore. I was sure it would be negative.

The boys were napping and I took the test. What? I couldn't believe my eyes, and I think I about fell over. Really? I was pregnant? But, I have 5 month old twin babies. I can't be! I was shaking. How was I going to tell Ben this? How would he react?

Well, he was in shock. In fact, he didn't believe me at first. He thought I was joking. I very seriously looked him in the eye and reminded him that we had 5 month old twins. Do you really think I'd joke around about this? That's when the shock set in. I waited to see his reaction. I asked him what he was thinking. He reassured me that he was ok...and how could he ever be upset that God would give us another child? I fell in love with that man all over again in that instant. We'd be okay. We didn't know how, but it would all be okay.

At the half-way mark, we had an ultrasound. It was unmistakable. We were adding another boy to our little brood. And then they told me that there was something suspicious on the ultrasound. There was a spot on his heart, which could mean he had Downs Syndrome. My heart sunk. Those next two weeks waiting to have another ultrasound at a specialist were hard. I did research online to educate myself and prepare myself. But that was hard to read. I tried to trust God and not worry, but the mother part of me was scared. I didn't know how I would handle it, if the news was not good. And if he was a DS baby, how would I care for him and my other boys...I felt so inadequate for the possible road I was facing. I knew I wouldn't love him any less....I just worried I wouldn't be enough for him...that a child with special needs would need a special momma, and I doubted my sufficiency for the task.

After a long time on the table, and lots of views of the baby, they determined that they couldn't find any more markers for Downs Syndrome. The spot appeared to be the only abnormality, and that made the likelihood of him having Downs very small. I was told to expect a normal healthy baby. Praise the Lord! He taught me a lot during those 2 weeks when all I could do was depend on Him. It was completely out of my hands, but I'm grateful Owen was never out of God's hands. And I know that had Owen been born with DS, God would have supplied the grace and mercy and strength to be the parents that Owen needed. And that little boy would be no less loved and adored than he is today.

Well, sticking to his m.o. as the surprise baby, Owen arrived 5 weeks early, 4 weeks before he was scheduled to be delivered by c-section. He weighed in at just 5# 10 oz and was 17.5 inches long. He needed oxygen for the first 24 hours or so to regulate his breathing. And then had to be kept in an isolate to regulate his temperature and had to be under the lights for his jaundice. He at least got to wear some cool shades. 6 days old, we took him home, and our home has never been the same since.

Owen is a delight, a joy, and I can so see why God ignored our plans and gave him to us. How could our family have ever been complete without him? Owen was the baby every mother hopes for...happy, content...and even yes, healthy. He's got a smile that melts your heart, and facial expressions that make you laugh, and is affectionate and loving. He's also all boy and can be quite the little monkey. He loves to sing and pray. He loves his brothers and is usually in their shadow. I often touch his sweet cheeks, look into his big blue eyes, and find myself in awe still of the gift of his life.
Ben put it perfectly when he called him the perfect surprise happy ending to our family. Sometimes when we plead with God for something, he says no, sometimes he says wait, sometimes he gives us what we want, and sometimes, we've discovered.....He gives us MORE than we ask for. So you see, Owen (O-Man as I call him) wasn't a surprise baby, or an unplanned pregnancy...he is a abundant blessing!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'd do it all over again

We had the privilege of taking a few days off and going to visit my in-laws for a bit. We had a family wedding to attend, and the next day was our anniversary. For the first time, we left all our boys overnight...Gramma was all too happy to babysit...and we got a hotel room with a hot tub, went out to a restaurant for a quiet sit down dinner, and spent lots of time walking around holding on to each other. We usually don't have any extra hands to hold each other's when we're out and about with the boys. It was nice to walk hand in hand. It felt familiar of days when it was just the two of us...when we could be spontaneous and carefree...when we could focus all of our attention on each other. We missed our boys alot...but we were grateful for this away time...we didn't realize how much we had been missing each other. And we've decided this should be an annual tradition. It was sweet, it was refreshing, and it was romantic. I am blessed to be married to this man. I didn't know 12 years ago when I was standing in that church pledging my vows to Ben what the future would hold. The dozen years that have passed have held many wonderful moments, and also some we'd have chosen to bypass. But they have left marks in our life together, that read like lines of a story, our story. We have the ability now to look back with humor at the bad and with joy at the good. And today, I would stand in that church facing that boy looking into those eyes and repeating those words, all over again, knowing what I know now....I'd do it all over again. I love you, Babe!