Friday, January 17, 2014

A Letter to my Four Year Old










My sweet baby boy,

Yes, I know you aren’t a baby anymore, at least not chronologically.  But know that in my heart, you will always be my baby.  The fact that you are now 4 years old is hard to believe.  It is bittersweet.  I am so excited for the big boy you are becoming and sad that the time seems to be going so quickly.

To see how much you’ve grown, not just physically, but your character and personality, is astonishing.  Over the past year, you have proven to be one of the most selfless 3 year olds I have ever met.  You always think of others first.  At this young age, that blows me away.  I have seen you get a snack and when I ask why you have two, your reply is, “One is for me, one is for Nic.”  When I ask if Nic asked you to get him a snack, your reply has been, “No, I just love him so I’m going to do this for him.”  This isn’t just a rare occurrence, this happens almost on a daily basis.  If we are at a store and I offer to buy you a surprise, before saying yes, you always ask if Nic can have one too.  Your heart is amazing.  You always want to do for others, to make others happy, before thinking of yourself.  What a gift you are!  I can not tell you how much my heart swells during these daily moments.  I am blessed to be your mother.

What a year you have had my beautiful boy!  We had so many adventures, from your first trip to Tennessee, to your first helicopter ride, to your first trip to Florida!  In January we went to Rez Kidz for your birthday trip.  We had so much fun in Gatlinburg dancing and singing at your first Go Fish concert.  They are still your favorite group and your favorite song by them is Five Little Monkeys.  We were fortunate to have great weather and to be able ride on the ski lift.  I was nervous, you were not.  We spent the long weekend just being a family, enjoying the sites and celebrating you. 

Then there was Myrtle Beach.  My little beach bum, you love playing in the sand!  We had a great vacation with your favorite babysitter Nikki.  Because we had a sitter, you and your brother each got to be king for the day.  While one of you stayed with Nikki, the other went with Mommy and Daddy and we did whatever you wanted.  You wanted to ride the helicopter, so that’s what happened!  Then we went to the amusement park and had dinner.  It was a fabulous day!

Our third trip of the year was to Florida.  Just you, Mommy and Nic on our first road trip with just the three of us. It was our Mommy-son adventure!  We went to see your God-family in Naples and had a blast!  You love your God-family so much and look up to your God-brother Jacob.  We played in the pool, went to the park, the children’s museum and just spent wonderful time with them.  Before getting to Naples, we made a pit stop for a couple of days in St. Augustine.  The hotel we stayed at had its own huge water slide.  I thought you would be intimidated.  I should have known better!  I tried to go down with you the first time to keep you safe, but you didn’t need me.  You were so fast that you started down the slide without me.  From that point on, you just did it all by yourself.  You and your brother climbed those stairs and went down that slide for three full hours!  You couldn’t get enough!  Seeing your smiles and your joy made my heart overflow.  I couldn’t believe what a great little traveler you were.  We had the best road trip ever!

I almost forgot that you also went to Baltimore for the first time this year.  You got to see lots of fire trucks at the Firehouse Expo.  You still love your fire trucks and I would not be surprised at all if you grew up to be a firefighter like Mommy. 

You continue to do great in school as well.  Your teachers often have funny stories or share how helpful you are.  Again, you have an amazing heart and personality to boot!  You are doing well writing your name, as well as other small words. You love to read, color and especially love to build things. You are also great with puzzles. Your favorite thing to play with is your railroad tracks. You are constantly taking them apart and putting them back together in different configurations.  It’s the best of both worlds, a cross between building and puzzles and incorporates trains, which you are CRAZY about right now!  We are thrilled for you that you love school and love to learn.  We pray that stays with you.

My hilarious child, every day you make me laugh.  Every. Single. Day.  Without fail.  It doesn’t matter what type of day I’ve had, you can pick up on how others are feeling and know how to make them smile.  It is a gift.  You are a gift.  You have great comedic timing and a wonderful sense of humor already.  You are quite the character. 

We also see your faith growing, which is the most important.  Now, instead of saying the typical “Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayers, you want to speak from your heart.  You always take the time to thank Jesus and acknowledge Him at this young age.  We could not be happier.  My sweet, sweet boy, please know that in all of life, this is the most important.  Keep that faith, that thankfulness and that humble heart.  Always rely on God, trust Him, He knows what He’s doing! 

As I close this letter, my heart feels torn.  I am beyond happy to see what an amazing little boy you are becoming and also sad that it seems to be going all too fast.  I look forward to what this coming year holds for you.  I am blessed beyond measure that you call me “Mommy.” 

All my love forever,


Mommy

I also made a video for you again this year, like I do every year, you can watch it here.

You can also read last year's letter here.


Monday, January 13, 2014

An Update from the World's Worst Blogger

I miss my blog.  I think about blogging quite often.  A great topic comes to mind, I have a brilliant epiphany that I am compelled to share and then…..BAM!  Life happens.  I forget to blog about whatever stroke of genius graced my feeble fleeting mind.

I’m not complaining though.  While I do miss having the time to blog, I have found that the time I used to spend blogging has been replaced with other loves.  Loves that fill me even more.    I do want to get back to keeping up my blog, though.  As I looked back through the years of posts this morning, I read things that I had forgotten.  Re-reading old posts ignites memories and reminds me of things I’ve learned along this journey.  It reminded me why I blog, not only to help retain my memories and share them with my children when they are older, but also to share with others lessons and laughs.

What are the other loves that have taken away from my blog you ask?  Of course, I have my beautiful family, but they’ve been around a long time.  The big change for me has been my return to school.  Finally, I’m getting my degree and I have to tell you, it’s fantastic!  I’ve always been a bit of a nerd.  Now, I’m a full grown nerd.  I love to study, to read, to (EEEK) take tests!  As bizarre as it sounds, I find comfort in these things.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful, supportive husband and wonderful children.  They share my excitement, give me time when needed for studying and are truly happy for me.  I couldn’t do it without their love and support.  The most surprising thing to me has been math.  It was my biggest fear.  I HATED math.  My motto had always been, “What do I need it for?  I have a calculator!”  Now, with learning architectural design, math is a MUST.  When I saw my first lesson that included fractions and ratios I thought I was going to DIE.  Imagine my surprise when I aced my first math exam!  Now that I’m more than half way done and have maintained straight A’s, I can say that I actually (gulp), enjoy math.  It’s official, I’m living in bizzaro world and I love it here!

Since my last post, the boys and I took our first road trip together.  Everyone said I was crazy.  Well, duh!  What fun would life be sane?  With just my two little guys, we went to St. Augustine, FL for a couple of days before heading to see my best friend in Naples, FL for a week.  I drove the entire trip, with two kids and it was the BEST!  We used the time in the car to talk, to sing, to connect.  Still, to this day, I can not believe the boys did not fight at ALL!  It was truly a lot of prayer that helped us along our trip, I’m certain of it.  Typically, it takes about 5 minutes for arguments to start in the car, but not this trip.  It was perfect.  The weather was great; the hotel we stayed at in St. Augustine had a huge water slide that they let Caleb go down over and over and over again.  Seriously, the boys went down this slide for THREE HOURS straight!  There was a little outdoor grill beside the pool where we sat and ate lunch, we went to see the lighthouse at St. Augustine and danced on the beach to live music. It was Caleb’s first trip to Florida and it couldn’t have been better.  Then, when we arrived in Naples we had a great time with my best friend and her family (who happens to be Caleb’s Godparents).  The kids got to go to a great children’s museum, swim, play and Nic and I even went to the Keys for his first snorkeling adventure while Caleb got some one on one time with his Godmommy.   It really was perfect.















Now, my “baby” is getting ready to turn 4.  My oldest will be 9 this year.  Nine.  The last year of single digits.  This year will be our 5th anniversary.  It’s hard to believe we have been together for 6 years and married for 5.  It’s hard to remember my life before him and impossible to think of it without him, he is my soul mate, that is for sure.  Our business has grown by leaps and bounds and 2014 looks to be even better.  We are humbled and thankful.  Since my last post many lessons were learned.  There has been some family that has grown apart, new life, lives lost, some new friendships have budded and old friendships that have only strengthened.  There have been disappointments, tears and struggles.  There has also been joy, blessings and love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Annual Birthday Letter to my Oldest Son



My precious oldest son,

Today you become an eight year old.  For more than eight years you have been bringing joy to my life and those around you.  Truly, you are a blessing and an answer to many prayers.  I am thankful for you son, every single day. 

What a year it has been!  Each year we try to give you and your brother new experiences.  Not to spoil you, my sweet son, but because we want you to see how big and full of opportunity the world is.  Opportunities to help others, opportunities to be brave, opportunities to have fun, make a difference, be kind and learn something new.  It is a fact that we are blessed to live in a country where opportunities are endless.  Your own grandfathers, as well as other family members, have sacrificed to ensure that.  It’s important, my dear big boy, to always remember that and be thankful.  I’m proud of you that at such a young age, you understand that and have taken advantage of those opportunities presented to you.  Like the time we volunteered at our local food pantry, you went right to work vacuuming, setting up tables and doing whatever was asked of you with a joyful heart.  And remember your birthday last year?  Instead of presents, you asked everyone to bring supplies for the local animal shelter.  I love your giving heart.

We also visited Gatlinburg, TN for the first time this year.  We went for RezKids and had such a BLAST!   We got to worship in a fun way and even sat right in the front row at your very first concert.  We saw Go Fish and loved them!  We also rode the ski lift for the first time and it reminded us of when we parasailed.  How blessed we were that even though it was January, the weather was wonderful!

This is your last year at “little kid elementary.”  It seems like just yesterday I dropped you off for kindergarten and soon you will be heading off to third grade at the new “big boy elementary.”  You are excited and ready to go.  I am trying to slow down time.

You played soccer again this year for the Griffins and your team had a great season.  We just began baseball season and you are playing for the Angels.  I was so proud of you during the first game, you scored two runs and got one out.  Do you know what impressed me the most though?  Your sportsmanship.  As you played catcher, you congratulated every single player on the opposing team that came across home plate.  May you always keep a humble and kind heart.  Always know, my beautiful boy that I don’t care about winning or losing.  Your character is so much more important.

Again you are excelling at school.  I’m so happy that you LOVE learning, I learn something new on a daily basis from you.  Thank you for keeping me on my toes!

You are still fascinated by weather.  I understand this.  I could sit and watch tornado hunting shows with you all day (we never have, but we could)!  You check the skies daily and inform me what type of clouds there are, you search for clues about coming weather patterns and give me your forecast every single day.  You say you want to be a tornado hunter and work for NASA as a meteorologist when you grow up so you can combine your love of space and weather.  You amaze me.

I could go on and on.  I could write an entire book about how much I love you and how you amaze me, about your wonderful heart, your funny sense of humor, your amazing character and all of the things you, my precious son, have taught me.  I would rather, however, tell you those things in person….daily.

I love you Nicholas Gabriel.  I wish you the happiest of birthdays and that the coming year is your best ever.

Always and forever, to the moon and back,

Mommy

Your annual birthday video can be found here.

Last year's letter and video can be found here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's been a while...

It's been a couple of months, so I figure it's probably time to update.  I'm sure no one really reads my blog and I can't blame them, I don't update enough.  At this point, my blog really is just to help me remember what goes on in this crazy life of mine and for my children to one day look back on.  Hopefully, one day I will read some of these posts to my grandkids.

My hope with my blog is that it also helps others in some small way. To relate, to know you aren't alone, to laugh, to share, to inspire, to learn.  Sometimes it happens and that's great.  The rest of the time, this really is just for me and my family.

Since I last posted I have once again taken on firefighting.  I suppose 15+ years of it in Northern Virginia just didn't get it out of my system.  I have actually surprised myself, I remember ropes and knots, I remember how to correctly put on all of my gear, including the SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) and crawl around on the floor in a maze of smoke without being completely out of breath when I'm through.  It's weird, it's just like second nature to me and an environment I've always been very comfortable in.

My husband's business has really grown.  We now have a 4,300+ sq. ft. facility.  Our headquarters houses our workshop and offices.  He works so hard and I'm proud of him.  The business has taken a majority of my time, as I've become very involved and hands on.  I do more for his business than mine anymore, but I love it!  I'm really enjoying working with hubby and the opportunity for us to be creative together.

The boys continue to grow and amaze me daily.  The little guy continues to excel in school and soccer season has now started.  Although the weather has already cancelled two out of our three games so far.  The littlest guy is doing great as well, his personality is one of the best, funniest, sweetest personalities I've ever known.  Each day they both make me smile.  What also amazes me is that each day, they can also both drive me nuts.  It's all part of having children, I know lots of parents can relate.

I wish I could write more, but I just don't have time.  Most of my blog writing time now goes to business blogs, so there just isn't time for personal ones anymore.  Ah well, I'll do the best I can.

Until next time...


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday to My Youngest


Every year, I write each of my boys a birthday letter and create a video recapping their year.  This is for my youngest, who will be three on the 18th.

My littlest man, you are three.  I’m sorry I always start your letters the same, but it’s because it’s true.  Time flies.  It feels like I JUST had you and now look at you, such a big boy!  You are such a blessing my precocious, sweet and funny boy.

What a year it has been.  You started preschool this year and Daddy and I were a little nervous, but you have adjusted wonderfully.  You did not cry a single tear, just waved goodbye and excitedly jumped right in.  You are definitely a “people person.”  You have never met a stranger and are always waving and saying hello to people you’ve never even met.  You remind me to do the same, to take the time to smile and say hello to others. 

You have learned so much in the past year.  I couldn’t believe it when you wrote your name all by yourself.  But, it’s not just the ABC’s and 1, 2, 3’s that surprise me.  My son, your dexterity amazes me.  Is there anything you can’t take apart and put back together?  You have figured out things that stump me!  What really makes my heart happy is how patient you are while learning and trying new things.  If you don’t get it right away, you just keep trying, without getting upset.  You did NOT get that from me.  I am learning from YOU, my precious son, how to be more patient.

You can be so mischievous and so loving all at the same time.  It is impossible to stay upset with you.  Like the time you snuck a piece of chocolate candy into your bed at nap time and fell asleep with it in your hand.  When I got you up from your nap, it looked like the Hershey factory exploded in your bed, on your walls and all over you.  You looked up at me and said, “Oh, Cawub, what did you do?  I’m so sorry Mommy, I’m a mess!”  Then you started singing the Laurie Berkner song, “I’m a mess.”  You approach things with a wonderful sense of humor.  I treasure that.  After we cleaned everything up, you hugged me and said, “Thank you Mommy, I WUV.”  I loved that you appreciated my helping you clean your mess and didn’t just pull out the cute, “I love you” at the beginning, when you thought it would help get you out of trouble.  You said it after everything was over.  I can always feel how much you mean what you say.  Your heart and your honesty amaze me.  I pray you never outgrow that honest heart.

Speaking of your heart, I am so thankful that you are already showing a love of the Lord.  You pray everyday and LOVE going to church.  All throughout the week, you ask if we can go to church and are so disappointed when I tell you during the week that we aren’t going until Sunday.  My prayer for you and your brother is that you take that love of the Lord with you throughout your life and share it with others.  Always trust in Him.  Faith can be so hard to have sometimes; those are the times when it’s most important to keep.  As the song goes, be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. 

My sweet baby (yes I know you are no longer a baby, but to me, you will always be my baby), you make our family complete.  I can not imagine life without you.  Every single day you make my heart feel like it will burst right out of my chest with love for you.  Every single day you challenge me.  Every single day I learn from you.  Daddy, your big brother and yes, even our doggy Maximus, loves you so very much.  We are proud of the little boy you are growing into and can’t wait to see what your future holds.

Always and forever,
Mommy

To see his year 3 birthday video, click here.  (Disclaimer, have tissues handy)

To see his year 2 video, click here.

And year 1 is here.







Quick Updates

My poor blog.  It has felt the effects of my over scheduling.  I used to at least post 2-3 times a month.  Now, I post every 2-3 months.  Well, sometimes once a month, but still, not nearly enough.

With that being said, here is my lazy post with quick updates glazing over what I should have blogged about, but didn't have time to:

1.  Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We had a house full of family and lots to be thankful for.

2.  Christmas was equally wonderful, but quiet.  We didn't see family until a few days after Christmas, it was actually nice to not have an overbooked, stressed out, travel filled Christmas.  To just have quiet time to focus on the true meaning of the season and enjoy much needed one on one time with my boys.  My oldest played the angel Gabriel in our Christmas play at church.  He was named after the angel Gabriel  and did a wonderful job, so as you can imagine, I cried.  Hubby and I sang in the Christmas cantata where he had a solo and did GREAT!  We also sang a duet of  "O Holy Night."  The youngest had his first recital at preschool that we really enjoyed. Especially the part where he did his best Al Bundy impression and shoved his hand down the front of his pants.  What can I say?  He's comfortable on stage.  Other than that though, he was a hit.  Our season was very full of giving and it felt wonderful.  Hubby built a playhouse that he donated to the oldest school's new outdoor classroom.  The oldest and I volunteered at a local food pantry, among other service projects we took on.  As I stated on my FB page, I share this not to boost or to get a pat on the back, but simply in the hopes of inspiring others to give back.  Take the time to help others and you will find, you are actually helping yourself even more.

3.  New Years Eve was awesome.  We went to a friends house that had a family friendly New Year's Eve.  There were lots of people, food, games, fellowship and the kids all had each other to play with as well.  A lot of fun was had by all.

4.  I joined the fire department.   Those of you who actually know me, know that I was a firefighter for 15+ years when I lived in Northern Virginia.  After 7 years of living in SWVA, I finally decided to go for round 2.  I am now a firefighter at my local fire department, because yes, I just don't have enough to do :-).

Please forgive the numerous typos and grammatical errors that I'm sure are in this post, maybe one day I'll have enough time to share a perfectly written post, but don't hold your breath.

Wishing you all a safe, happy and prosperous 2013!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

God's Will vs. Free Will


I had an epiphany last night.  I’m sure some of you will read what my epiphany was and think, “Well, duh, why’d it take you so long to realize that?”   The answer is: it didn’t.   This is something I’ve always KNOWN, but I don’t think I fully comprehended or felt the love and peace that comes with it until last night.  It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you know your parents love you, but until you become a parent yourself, you don’t fully comprehend how much.

My devotional last night was Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  God’s will be done…check, I know that. 

Then a marvelous thing, a rare thing started happening.  I started thinking.

In the back of my mind I always wondered how, if we have free will and our will is different from God’s and we go down a very wrong path, can we say HIS will is being done?  Sometimes we make choices that are very clearly not God’s will.  What happens then?  God’s will doesn’t change, but we are doing the wrong thing, so how is His will being done?  Does this mean that when something bad happens, it's part of God's will?  NO WAY! 

Then I realized what I had been missing, the word “prevails.”  Duh, Donna, that’s a pretty important word to miss.  I was reading it as His way wins, as in right then and there.  Not thinking that to prevail requires time, patience, grace…LOVE.  His will prevails regardless of what path we venture down.  No matter how far away from Him we roam, He loves us so much and is so gracious in His love, that He uses our poor choices to develop in us what is needed for His purpose.  He doesn’t just turn His back on us when we do stupid things that we know aren’t right and aren’t according to His will.  No, He uses our failures to groom us for HIS ultimate will.   So even if you take a wrong turn at Albuquerque, eventually, no matter how much you fight Him, no matter how much you exercise your free will, His will will be done!

But what about when someone is murdered?  What if a drunk driver kills an innocent family, how can that be God's will? The answer:  It isn't.  Remember, we have free will and our free will sometimes affects other lives.   Having faith requires trusting God that ultimately, every life has a greater purpose and His will is NOT to punish us, but to save us.  No matter what we do, GOD IS IN CONTROL.  God is there with you, grieving, comforting, being the loving Father that He is.