A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent Calendar

Last year Eli gave me one of my Christmas presents early
- an Advent Calendar -
and proceeded to spoil me all the month long of December.

This advent calendar has a door for each day.
And each day I would open a door, find a written clue
and hunt down a treat that he had carefully hidden
somewhere within the house.

It was a lot of fun!
Eli has always liked doing things that surprise me,
and he is really a fantastic husband in terms of leaving me
little notes, and just small things that demonstrate his love for me.
So, it added a little "extra" to our Christmas last year.

Well, Jonah was old enough last year to figure out that Mommy
was often getting treats each day - which I willingly shared with him.
So this year, Eli decided to transform the Advent to include both boys.
(and yes, the clues have gone from "husband/wife"
to general rhymes appropriate for little ears as well)

His clever clues lead us all over the house, day after day.
We usually find one small candy for each of us,
but we have also found chapsticks, stickers, fruit snacks,
special stockings, and other small gifts.

All Jonah has to do is say his regular "TREASURE HUNT!"
and Reuben trots down the hall after him to Mommy's dresser.
They know what it means.
And Jonah loves to hear us read the clue out loud so he can try and figure it out.

I so appreciate Eli making the effort to do this for us each day,
to plan hiding spots, to write his rhymes-
He truly loves me more than I deserve.
And as our family grows/changes ...
I think the Advent will keep our Christmas plans company,
year after year ...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just a Regular Night

Just a regular night for us.
Finished dinner and whatever activity was on the calendar.
Come home ... or still be at home.
Get the boys in jammies

Put on the stocking hats!

Turn up the music!

And have some fun!

And yes, this wasn't just an odd night out,
This is how many of our evenings wind up.
Praise or Christmas music on,
Dancing the rest of the night away!

Don't you?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sing Your Heart Out ...

OR NOT!!!!!

Tonight was Jonah's preschool Christmas program.
And we saw a true, independent three year old in action.
One big fat sigh. And then grin and try and remember that
This was truly funny and memory-making!

-He may have been singing all the songs at home the past month
But NO singing during the program for him!

-We may have picked out a wonderful new dress outfit for him
But he ONLY would put it on once Eli convinced him that the vest
was actually a policeman vest that would repel bullets.

-Most of the other kids had their eyes on their teachers
But Jonah was determined to keep his eyes on us.

-As we were driving home, I asked him if he had fun at his Christmas program.
He gave a huge sigh and said quite seriously "No, Mommy. That was not
fun at all. All we did was sing". Yes, all they did was sing - but oh well!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rare Moment

My boys, to me, are rather wild.
Full of energy.
They spend most of their time running,
Chasing, playing tag, fighting,
Tackling, building, laughing, and dancing!

But this morning,
They suddenly became quiet.
And all the moms out there know that quiet isn't always good!
I crept down the hallway and peeked into Reuben's bedroom.
And this is what I saw.

A rare and sweet moment.
And I had to take a picture and capture it.

Although they spend plenty of time fighting and quarreling,
Jonah often comments to me how much he loves Reuben.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bye Bye, Duck-A-Duck ...

When Reuben first learned to say the word "Duck" a few months ago,
He didn't say just "Duck".
He called those little feathered friends "Duck-a-Ducks".
Said quickly and excitedly.
"Duck-a-Ducks" were so much fun for him to look for in pictures books,
to play with the bathtub, and to see when we go to Cabela's.
I loved his own little twist on it.

And then a couple days ago, we were reading a books,
and he pointed to one and said "DUCKY".
Yup, Ducky.
I thought perhaps this was a momentary lapse in his sweet baby vocabulary,
but then last night during the bath, he proudly splashed around,
then suddenly found and exclaimed "Ducky!"

Eli and I looked at each other and kind of sighed and made sad faces.
Baby talk is so sweet, so innocent, and at times, so hilarious!
What they think they are saying compared to the actual word ...
Well, let's just say that they often don't match up quite right.
And it's sad to see those little quirks of babyhood disappear in a day's time.

I remembered how Jonah termed ducks to be "Quack-quacks"
until one day, they suddenly became ducks to him, as to the rest of us.
And part of the reason I type this, is to remember.
To remember two little boys,
Each with their own name for the commonly called "duck".
To try and not forgot what they came up with
and called out loudly anytime they wanted, proud of their naming accomplishments.

And I sigh again ... hoping that Reuben's "Book-a-Books" don't turn into just plain
BOOKS anytime soon.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Memories

We had such a wonderful and special time in Arkansas last weekend for Thanksgiving! My Grandma is going to be turning 80 in February ... and I am constantly reminded that I really had no idea how long she will be with us. I am glad to give Jonah and Reuben memories of visiting her and seeing family that we often only see once a year: at Thanksgiving. We played inside, outside, ping pong, croquet, video games, made food, laughed, played cards, watched movies, and just enjoyed being together.

The whole family ... minus my dear older sister who couldn't make it

Fake geese are just so interesting!

Why not give it a hug! = )

Pierce taught Jonah to joys of Nintendo DS - not so sure this was a good thing!

My Grandma, Mom, and two uncles.

And my sweet boys ...

Could write so much more and put in so many more pictures ... but this is all I can muster together before heading to bed!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Highs and Lows

Yesterday was a day of highs and lows ...
With the boys, of course!
Jonah started our day out at 6:30 a.m.,
as usual for him.
Eli commented that it would be heavenly
if only Jonah made it to 7 or 7:30 each day.
Mind you, Eli only notices this now because he
HAPPENS to not have to get up at the ungodly hour of
5 or 5:30 because retails days are OVER!!!!!
(at least, for the next several years = ))
I headed to the gym,
Eli handled the boys.
When I returned home,
they had a time of bickering; refusing to get dressed; obey orders, etc.!
Jonah had his toy guns taken away since he refused to clean them up.
Reuben screamed because Jonah didn't share the guns to begin with.
Life was unfair ...
And then, suddenly, they sat together at the table and played fishing together.
You know those battery powered fishing games,
where the fish open and close their mouths? Yup.
Together and happily they fished ... for at least 20-30 minutes.
Sigh. And shower!
We visited my brother for awhile later on, got them down for naps,
Of course, after an over-tired-fall-apart-moment from Reuben.
I confess, sometimes in my zeal to have them nap at the same time,
I keep Reuben up a bit too long and suddenly he loses control.
Oh well.
But later that night,
We watched some of the KU game as a family.
Cheered on the Jayhawks (and played Mario during halftime).
Bathtime turned into BADtime.
Jonah fell apart about washing his hair (why is this an issue?),
and we ended it early to get these tired boys into bed.
As I sang and prayed for Jonah,
he put his little arms around me and said,
"Mommy, will you stay with me a few minutes?
I feel safe and happy when I am with you"
High times worth the lows?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's basketball season.
Better yet, it is KU basketball season!
Regular season games have just started ...
and we're watching what we can!

We recently received a KU basketball promo-type magazine
in the newpaper.
Eli read all the stats that he wanted ...
and sat the magazine on the lamp stand.

However, several times in the last week,
we have found Reuben with it:
Laying on his back "reading" it;
Chilling on stomach "reading" it;
or sitting cross-legged, diligently flipping
through pages and exclaiming "BALL" over and over again.

What can we say?
If he goes to KU as a student for college,
He will be a fourth-generation Jayhawk!
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our Family Grows!

October 29, 2010, around 2:30 p.m., I received the most exciting text on my cell phone. It was from my brother-in-law, stating that Eli's sister was going into labor. Her water had broken (thankfully, she was at home), and contractions were beginning!

All of the family - Eli has six siblings - had been in an anticipated state for the week prior. Knowing that "any minute" can happen when babies are ready to arrive!

I was so excited that I was privileged to visit Melissa and Michael in the hospital during labor, along with my mother-in-law. This little baby surprised us all by being breech and needing to be delivered by c-section, BUT, she arrived safe, sound, and adorable! Little Tirzah already has the family wrapped around her sweet, tiny fingers.

Jonah is especially proud to "take care" of his baby cousin. He is constantly eager to visit his uncle and aunt's house, with a quick request to hold the baby. He does great and takes great care to be as gentle as possible with her. Reuben, on the other hand, looks at Tirzah with a bit of caution in his eyes - maybe he knows he's not the baby of the extended family anymore? Either way, we're glad to keep growing and I'm excited to have a baby to snuggle!

Mother and baby ... too precious

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Show Goes On!

I am 27 years old ... mostly proud of it!
As far as I know, for the last 27 years, I have dressed up in costume for Halloween.
Not "Halloween", really, but for the Harvest Party. A tradition dating 26 years.
The best thing I can compare it to is a school carnival.
Booths, games, a moonwalk, etc. Kids can come to our church for a safe alternative to traditional Halloween activites. They get lots of candy and have lots of fun!
I dressed up as a kid, dressed up as a teen helper, dressed up with Eli as a couple, and now ... there are four.
And yes, we dress up as a family ... a theme together.
This year we joined with our good family friends and dressed up as characters from the Disney Robin Hood movie. It was lots of fun, and a lot of work. At the end, it felt like maybe I had taken on more than I was going to get done, but we pulled it off - the show "went on" !!!
Can't wait til next year!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sharpen Those Knives ...

It's time to carve PUMPKINS!
Each year ... well, at least the last few years, our tradition has been to carve pumpkins with Eli's family. His younger brothers and sisters are up for digging into pumpkin brains and slicing their way through thick rinds to see what creative designs they can come up. No exceptions this year! Last Friday evening after a birthday dinner, we covered the table in newspaper and had at it. My only regret is that I forgot to take home some seeds to roast ... I may have to get another pumpkin just for that purpose before they are all gone!
I might be biased ... but I think Eli's Batman pumpkin (with NO pattern, just looking at a picture) would be a prize-winner! I love doing this each year - although this year I mostly ran around attempting to amuse Reuben while checking in periodically on the carvers. But, either way, each year bring new faces on the pumpkins and the same tradition!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SO not hunting for bugs ...

For several weeks now, Jonah has been asking for a magnifying glass. His Oma gave him a book that "hides" animals in the pictures and suggests that you utilize a magnifying glass to find them all. So, we promised him that we would get him one. We made two separate trips to find them ... but the places we went were out! This was extremely distressing to Jonah, and he continued to remind us each week that he still "needed a magnifying glass to hunt for bugs!".

We checked again at Target when we were making a diaper run earlier this week - and they had re-stocked! In the cart, and to house it went. This was an evening Target excursion, so we promised Jonah that tomorrow he would get to use his magnifying glass outside with Daddy to hunt for and look at bugs. At lunch time the next day, Mommy sent the boys outside to hunt for bugs while she cleaned up the kitchen before Daddy had to head to work. All seemed well and everyone was busy!

I headed outside to see what they had found. No bugs ... nope, not a one. Rather, they were crouched on the ground as Eli repeatedly set dead leaves smoking, thanks to sunshine and a magnifying glass! Not "Mommy Approved!" However, both Jonah and Reuben thought that this activity was AMAZING, and they loved blowing out the small flames on each leaf.

Here's what I found ...

I did give Eli a rather disapproving look - I admit. Oh well. He shrugged and smiled back. And then, I ran back inside and grabbed the camera to catch a few pictures of my boys together. Yes, they're lighting leaves on fire and I sincerely hope I never catch Jonah attempting this without his dad, but at that point there wasn't much I could but smile!


But, boy oh boy, it was fun!!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flown Away ...

I taught my last Wednesday evening Kickboxing/Boot Camp class tonight ... but more about that change later (still teaching OTHER classes, but scheduling for this one is now a conflict).

Over the past several days, I have had some annoying sniffles, drainage, itchy throat, etc. Nothing too serious, but mostly bothersome at night when I am trying to rest and recharge for the next day! So, I took some Benadryl a couple nights, figured what goes around in terms of colds usually makes some appearance in our household. It IS that time of year, after all, isn't it?

So, I taught tonight's class as normal. At the end, I was explaining the class changes and realized that my voice was going out. Disappearing! Too much yelling at the ladies to work harder! I picked up the boys, we loaded into the car and headed home. Eli called on our way home to make sure that he was headed home at the same time so we could have some time to play before bedtime ... and he thought I was Jonah! Apparently, my voice really was going out.

Oh yeah, this blog isn't all about me. The boys. Right! This does all have a point ... the point being that at some moment during the evening, I said something and Jonah asked me why I was talking quiet. I said that I had lost my voice. He looked at me quizzically. Then nodded in complete agreement and said "I lost my voice too once, it just flew out!"

Love it. "It just flew out" Out of the mouth of babes ...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Bushel Of ... Willems!

Yesterday Eli, myself, and the boys headed over to my parents' house for a lunch with my sister and her husband, and my older sister who lives out of town (beware: this is only a portion of my family! Both my brothers and sisters-in-laws weren't able to come!). As mentioned in a previous post, getting to see Aunt Hannah is special! She isn't able to come to town very often, so whenever she does, we make the effort to spend time with her.

It was a low-key time! Gorgeous weather kept us outside on the back deck, grilling hamburgers, playing ball, relaxing on the porch swing and catching up on each others' lives! I was so glad that Eli and I had packed along the camera. We try to get good pictures at family gatherings ... but sometimes the madness of that many people takes over and we don't make the effort. But, we got quite a few, including these two, which I am so excited to have. I love my mom and my sisters dearly and wouldn't know what to do without them!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Variety: the Spice of Life!

For those of you that know our little Jonah pretty well,
You have most likely either witnessed or been subject to a discourse
on his rather narrow choice of foods.
That he will eat.
Jonah was a FANTASTIC little baby in terms of baby food.
He ate everything!
But, as soon as texture became a factor, he shut down.
He became extremely picky, choosy, you name it.
Since that time, we have struggled with his eating habits and preferences.

He basically eats peanut butter (only JIF or Peter Pan - all others have been gagged out), certain types of crackers, yogurt, milk, most fruits, carrots occasionally, muffins, and most sweets. No meats, cheese, veggies, breads, and whatever else you can think of!

A couple weeks ago, though, we decided that it was time. He is three and one half years. He is old enough to start enjoying the process of being forced to eat certain things. Or, at least, TRY certain things in order to say that he "doesn't like that". So, we set up a calendar for the week, and listed three different foods for each day. Before he could have one of the foods he wanted, he had to at least eat a few bites of a "new" food.

Some days were great! Some days were horrible. Namely the day that had cheese and corn on the list. At some point past lunch, he was hungry! Didn't want those food AT ALL. But, finally opted to try cheese. He put it in his mouth and promptly spit it back out. No go on the cheese. Lots of tears and screaming through the rest of the day as he refused the foods offered on his plate and requested peanut butter what seemed a million times. Nope. No caving. Finally, at 8:15 p.m., he ate 4 kernals of corn. And acted like he was going to die! That was a long day.
But at the end, he had tried some new foods. And we had re-incorporated some foods back into his diet that we had gotten lax about making him eat. We're still keeping a calendar to ensure that he gets as much variety as possible. We're still working on this idea of him at least trying a bite of a food without screaming or gagging it back up. It's a process.
Here he is: choking down carrots on the last day of that first week. Because, waiting at the end of a successful week of a sticker on each day was a Buzz Lightyear spaceship toy that he had seen at the store and really wanted. He got it. Yup ... we're not completely above bribery or rewards with this situation. The kiddo needs some motivation or he just starves himself! May God give Eli and I patience as we keep up the work in this area with Jonah.

Here's to my little 3 year old. Love him. But I really hope someday he can enjoy some steak and potatoes with his daddy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Multipurpose Fire Truck

This afternoon as I was putting Jonah down for his nap, we read a book. A ritual. Laying down for either rest time or bedtime MUST involve three things: 1) the reading of at least 1-2 books; 2) the singing of at least 2 two songs, ALWAYS including "Jesus Loves Me" and "My Holy Shepherd"; and 3) a prayer over him. The omitting of any of the above results in serious outcry from the said three year old. For him, predictability = security.

Today we read an adorable wooden book from Grandma. She picked it up at the library sale last week. All about trucks. My bushel of boys loves trucks! Each page describes a type of truck, what they do, etc.

We read the book through once, and then Jonah requested to read it again. I sugggested that we talk about each page, and he could tell me about the truck and all the things that it can do. Agreed. No issues on the school bus. Pretty straightforward. Then we get to the Fire Truck. "The fire truck has long ladders. It can reach up really high! It saves people." I agree wholeheartedly with his explanation. And then ... "And then it shoots out its bows and arrows REALLY far!" Come again? Bows and arrows? "Yup, Mommy. See? They're right there. And the fire trucks shoots them out."

Apparently, this is a matter of fact. Fire Trucks can also shoot bows and arrows. They are so much more prepared for any situation than I imagined! Maybe I need to put my imagination to use a little more. Now ... if only when I turn my iron on in a few minutes to work on the large pile of ironing, it could iron the clothing itself, AND hang everything up in its rightful place. If Fire Trucks have a chance at hunting some wayward deer, then why not???

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Overdue Project

Last week Eli took the entire week off of work! He had vacation time that he needed to use before the "blackout" holiday months of November and December. And, well, we had some house projects to work on! So, this wasn't a "staycation" ... but a time to put some sweat into the house! He also used time to put some energy into Greek for school as well.

We have wanted to paint the exterior of our house since we moved here! But, it got put off as more "necessary" projects ate up precious time and finances over the last 5 1/2 years. A couple years ago, I painted the front door purple to add some color. Eli was dismayed, as he firmly believed that caused our house to look like we're K-State fans. (WE'RE NOT!!!!). I choose purple because it was complimentary to the yellow house ... MEN. = )

Anyway, we finally decided it was time to paint outside. We chose a medium gray tone ("squirrel"), and painted the door a nice burgandy. I'm so happy with the turnout! My dad came over for two days to work with Eli, and a couple of our friends also came to help out. Jonah, of course, was eager to paint with Daddy and be a good little worker!

A week later, the gray is done (need a couple touch ups), MOST of the trim is done (please ... within the next week we'll wrap that up too!), and the door is beautiful. I love the finished look! We may not be able to fulfill our dream of getting a little bit bigger house anytime soon, but I'm finding contentment here! I am so blessed to have what I have.