A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Monday, May 27, 2013


For many families, they have graduations to celebrate every few years. And depending how many kids you have, you have fewer or more graduations of those kids to check of the list. This spring, Eli's parents had THREE of their kids graduate! Unless you have triplets (or 19 kids), I imagine that doesn't happen too often for many families!

Eli graduated with his Master's degree, his younger brother Ezra graduated from KU with his bachelor's degree, and his younger sister Joy graduated from high school! Whew! Talk about a lot going on in the family! We're headed in a bit to an open house to celebrate Joy's graduation ... we had one last week for Ezra, and we've been to multiple graduation celebrations over the last two weekends for other friends and youth as well. Just some memories ...

At Eli's graduation in Springfield

Eli with Pastor Stan and Allison - our youth pastors in high school and college!

Whoop! Got the official DONE!

Daddy's outfit is a pretty good costume ...

Drooling???? = ) I made a homemade Snickers cake for Ezra's party!

Helping Uncle Ezra open presents

Ezra's girlfriend, Daniele, graduated also!

Nephew Love!

Congratulations to Joy!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Run It Off

I had a sick baby this week, as mentioned previously. That fever was wretched. Matthias was glued to me most of the day Wednesday, and even more so on Thursday. Poor little guy. We ended up on antibiotics for an ear infection, and he has vastly improved! It changed up my schedule, which is a good reminder that "my" schedule and plans for the day need to be flexible - always. Flexible for the kids ... flexible in case the Lord puts something else in our path. At one point, I looked at that little face looking up at me, and thanked the Lord for the reminder that I have lots of selfishness within me to get rid of. Maybe I surrendered a bit more over the last few days - I pray that I did! To become self-LESS ... what gain!

But, I did indulge myself in a run. At one point, I finally got him to lay down and sleep in his own bed for awhile. And headed to my treadmill. It's not new, it's not a gorgeous one by any means, but the thing runs (albeit rather loudly) and served its purpose for me that day! I put in my earplugs, set the boys on the couch with books and other things to occupy them, and ran some stress away ...

1-5 min - Warm up jog 6.0
1 min @ 6.5
1 min @ 7.0
1 min @ 6.5
1 min @ 7.5
1 min @ 7.0
1 min @ 8.0
1 min @ 7.5
1 min @ 8.5
1 min @ 8.0
1 min @ 8.5
*repeat above stair-steps at 45 sec intervals
*repeat stair-steps at 30 sec intervals
2 min @ 8.0

I think I was on there somewhere around 35 minutes, and it was just what I needed. Cooled down, and heard stirring within the crib. Quickly showered and was back on baby duty! I love running intervals, not just because it is great training for running and for a powered-up workout, but also because the time flies when I'm pushing buttons all the time! = )
I kinda felt like I could have used another one of those today. Great day, but incredibly busy, and we were running here and there, it felt like. And the temperature was up and so was the humidity! I feel sweaty, exhausted, and ready to go to bed ... aaaaannnnnd, it's 8:30. Ah well! We have a showing for the house tomorrow morning - YAY! - and the house is clean, the boys are bathed and asleep. I have no shame heading to bed myself shortly!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Matthias is 13 months old. Ohhhhh, I am overdue for writing about what that little guy is up to! I had planned on doing it this afternoon, but the little guy decided to wake up with a fever that read 101.9 on the thermometer. Needless to say, my day has NOT been quite what I thought! The boys and I had to miss Bible study this morning, and I had to find a sub for a Bootcamp that I was going to coach tonight at 5:30! It seems to be only a virus, but tylenol and ibuprofen aren't really keeping it down. Which means little Matthias only wants Mama to hold him. All. The. Time.

This does make getting anything accomplished rather challenging. I had promised Jonah yesterday, that today I would take him to Michaels' to buy some molding clay to work on "crafts" with. So, feverish babe and all, we trekked over there at lunch time and ran in to buy our clay. I felt like it hardly made a difference for Matthias. I still held him the entire time through the store! And maybe the fresh cool air that greeted us outside on this gorgeous day felt good? I can only hope.

Anyway, back to Matthias. I caught this picture of him the other day. We have two of our dining room table chairs backed up again a wall. Usually the table is kind of pushed into them, and no one sits there, unless we are having people over. Matthias, for whatever reason, continues to wedge himself back behind those chairs. Like it is a game. Except each time, he gets so MAD once he is back there, because he can't figure out how to get out!

So, he whines and wails and tries to get my attention so that I can come and rescue him. And looks at me as if I, yes, it was his Mama that stuck him back there!

Silly, sweet, little boy. Many times I get him out of there, sometimes because he really, truly, cannot figure out how to get back out without whacking his head all over the place. And then he grins at me with a little mischievous smile, and heads right back there. = )

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bittersweet Farewell

There is an awesome young man in our church, Kaleb. He has been a worship leader there for quite some time now, and active in our college group. He began working as a volunteer staff at the youth group, and then became Eli's intern over this last school year.

More than that, Kaleb has been like a part of our family. He started coming over three mornings a week last September to work out with Eli ... which meant the boys fell in love with Mr. K-Love, as they called him, wrestling with him, talking to him about their little Legos and Star Wars toys and anything else in mind. Mr. K-Love was called, as they seemed to think that every male singer on the radio station K-Love, was Kaleb! I think that they finally know, now, that his real name is Kaleb, but most of the time, they are still calling him Mr. K-Love. = )

Kaleb has been such an encouragement to Eli the past year, and our family has just adored him. He always has given the boys time and played with them, made them feel important to him ... he just fit right in. He helped us many times earlier this spring when we were readying the house to list on the market.

And now, Kaleb is moving. To the east coast. He graduated from KU yesterday, and we're so excited to see what amazing things God has for him ... but we are SO SAD to see him go. We celebrated with him at his party yesterday. I was trying to explain to the boys that Kaleb was moving away, and that we wouldn't see him much, except if he came to visit. "But even though he is moving far away, he will still come to our church every Sunday, right Mommy?" Reuben asks. I tried several times to explain that Kaleb would go to a different church now, but the message either didn't sink in ... or was not allowed to sink in = ( So, although we'll get to see him a couple more times, my heart is heavy to lose our great friend.

And as I wait to see the wonderful things that he gets to experience, I also wait with hope to see who God will bring alongside Eli as another encouragement, another partner to bounce ideas off of and bring in fresh ideas for the youth!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Peanut Butter and Babies

Two weeks ago today, my sister in law gave birth to my newest niece! Very exciting for our family ... another little baby to snuggle and watch grow! Ellia Claire is a little sweetheart, and thankfully for her Mama with two little ones to care for, a super good baby. We've been over a couple times to say hello, including last night to drop by some dinner for them. I spotted this recipe online last week, and was happy for an occasion to try it out! I am known for a love a peanut butter in ANYTHING, and I'm always up for a new bar recipe to try! Recommending this one to any chocolate/peanut butter lovers out there! I subbed chopped up Reese's (left from Easter), and added semi-sweet chocolate chips for her mix of candies. It was what I had on hand.

The beginnings of goodness ... butter, peanut butter, and sugar = ) I didn't say it was healthfood!
Made them to take to my brother's house for dessert, along with homemade pizza and simple veggies. I think every nursing Mama deserves a little treat at the end of the day.


My dad asked me if I have "baby-itis" going on right now. Hmmmmmm, whenever I hold a newborn baby, I think I get a little twinge within ... don't most Moms??? Then I think about how sick I was when pregnant with Matthias, and how it took him ONE YEAR to finally sleep through the night (with all my efforts on sleep training - why why WHY), and I told him, "yes, I sure do. But I DON'T have pregnancy-itis" = ) In other words, I'm so grateful to have a niece to hold, but still need a bit more time before considering the 4th, or before embarking on nine months of pregnancy.

I'm sure the time will come ... but I would really like to have sold our house and be settled in a new one before any serious considerations. I'm enjoying my current bushel each and every day right now!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

When Mother's Day rolls around, yes, I look around at my little brood of boys and my heart swells. Swells with love, with thankfulness, with laughter at their silliness, with amazement at the individuality of each little personality, with a bit of "whelmed" with the responsibility of raising these children, and so much more. Like any mother out there. I cherished their handmade cards, their sweet gifts (which Eli had to steer Jonah away from giving me a key chain with "One Hot Mama" inscribed on it - giggle), and the neck squeezing hugs I got all day long. And amidst the challenges of being a mother, I take a moment and remind myself of what a joy it is, and what a g.i.f.t. the Lord has bestowed upon me by giving me children.

I also think of my mom.

Mom with baby Matthias
 I'm so thankful I still have my mom here - and five minutes away, nonetheless! Sooooo thankful for her. And, I often think of her in astoundment (I know, that's not really word, but it works). She raised the five of us, spread out over 13 years, and survived! She homeschooled us for many, MANY years, with times that all five were around the house, whether or not we were all technically old enough to be in a grade or not. She stayed at home when we were little, although she had her degree, so that she could raise us each and every day.

I often ask her questions about how she did this or that, or how one of us acted ... and I love it when she smiles, shrugs her shoulders, and says "I just can't remember all the details anymore!" Somedays I can't imagine not remembering the details, and then ... well, I can't remember the details. Like when my sister-in-law asked me a question about the boys being babies, and details are already fuzzy. = ) That's when I'm thankful for what I wrote down, and pictures.

Helping Jonah with Handwriting
She often stops by to help if I need her, and although she has some health issues and isn't able to carry the boys or lift Matthias, she will take the older boys out sometimes if she knows I just really need a little break, or will tell me I am doing a good job and "can make it" when I'm having one of those days when nothing seems right and all I feel like is one big Mommy Failure.

I know she wasn't perfect ... no mom ever is. And I can testify that we Moms are constantly learning, and learning to do better. Which means five years ago when Jonah was little, I was still learning! I am sure as he gets older, he'll point out ways I've changed parenting, but hopefully our changes are for the better. As we seek the Lord and acknowledge mistakes. But, she is a wonderful, wonderful Mom. And I hope I get to have my mom around for many, many more years to come.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Allergy Work ...

I grew up with no allergies or asthma in my family. Never thought about it too much. I remember having a friend growing up, though, who often had to make sure she had her inhaler with her. Many years later, I married her older brother = )

Eli has seasonal allergies and is allergic to some pets, mostly cats and dogs. Reuben has the same tendencies. I think I remember him being about 18 months old and we started to see that he exhibited seasonal allergies, and seemed to react to cats. It only progressed from there and last year we ended up in the office of the asthma and allergy specialist, hopefully to work on allergies, to have him diagnosed with asthma as well. He now takes two medications a day, and has a rescue inhaler, and we have Claritin on hand for days we know we're going to be around dogs or cats, because those really trigger the swollen, running eyes, dripping nose, and general discomfort. He is a great little sport most of the time! We used a nebulizer many times in the past, and once he got on his regular medications, haven't had to pull it out. The doctor felt that with regular maintenance, we wouldn't see near as many big flare ups as we had dealt with in the past.

He is much better than even before he was on his daily medications, but we want to see if he can improve even more. So, based on reading up on it, talking to people and seeking advice, we're cutting back on his dairy intake (about 50%), and slowly eliminating gluten entirely. Once we get to complete elimination of gluten, we'll give it a good three weeks and see how his symptoms are.

I've grappled with this a lot. Yes, it is NOT convenient for us. The child loves his kiddie squeeze yogurts every day, milk, goldfish cracker, pasta, and you all know I love to bake! BUT, if it can improve the quality of his life, is it worth it? We've decided it is. So, cutting back this week and starting the adjustment period. We got him some coconut milk - which went over great! He loved it, so I didn't even have to trial and error that change! Working on getting him to try the almond milk yogurt ... he keeps eying it with distrust = ) We bought a replacement for his goldfish crackers, and I've pulled out the rice cooker and we've got brown rice on hand this week. Thankfully, he has always been a fairly good eater, likes chicken, fruits, and many things.

I'm not going to force the rest of us to go entirely gluten-free. Jonah loves his pumpkin bread, and we can keep that for him because Reuben doesn't even care for it all. But, we'll all have to make some changes around here ... I don't pretend to be even close to any kind of an expert on the subject, but it does make me think: so many genetically modified things out there! I recently read that in the coming years, Whole Foods has committed to completely eliminating products from their stores with GMO's, but even that is going to take some time. Obviously the regular grocery stores aren't there yet. And I know my family consumes it's fair share of normal grocery stores products. But even in the few weeks that we have made this decision, it has made me think more and more about what I use to cook with, and what kinds of foods I want in my family's bodies.

My grocery budget is going to take an adjustment too! Many of the products that I will use for Reuben will cost a bit more (or a lot more!), and I know there will be some trial and error as I offer new things to him. But, I also have lots of help from other friends and family who have gone dairy-free or gluten-free for various reasons!

Interested to see where we are at in four months ... hoping I can keep the determination to work at this, and stick to our decision even when he might be throwing a fit for his regular graham crackers! Keep you posted ...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Indoor Swimming Party

When we went to Branson last weekend, my parents stayed at a hotel with an indoor pool! Sooooo glad that they did! We knew the weather might be rainy the first day, so the pool helped get out some energy in the little boys after an afternoon inside! We all got in the water (except my mom, who took the pictures), and splashed away. I was surprised at how much fun Matthias had. That little boy LOVED the pool - it helped that the water was really warm - and splashed around and wore himself out.

It was good to see Reuben get more used to the water, because he seems to still tend to fear getting his face wet and being brave. But, it didn't take long for him to jump into our arms, and be excited that he could stand "all by himself" in the shallow end.

And Jonah, of course, was all about using his goggles and swimming around like a little fish. I need to get some swimming lessons lined up for him this summer to work on some more swimming skills - but sooooo glad that he loves the water!

It was fun to have Micah, Adrienne, and little Mataya there with us. And of course my dad threw the boys all over the place, which they thought was the best thing ever!

We didn't end up taking our camera into Silver Dollar City with us. We got a few pictures on Eli's phone, but these pictures from the pool time are really our shots that we got of our trip. Great memories!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day!

Spring is here, yes???

Mostly here ... we are predicted to get snow (yes, SNOW) tomorrow, which is very abnormal for the 2nd of May. But, my tulips and daffodils have bloomed. We have flowers planted in the front beds and the grass is green. Spring, yes? A strange one, yes.

We have spent quite a bit of time in our yard, over the last few weeks. Working on a repair to the house that was overdue - like should have been done before we moved into the house eight years ago = ) It required lots of digging, hard labor, and is finally finished!  We had some wonderful friends pitch in and help Eli dig over eight feet deep to patch a small crack in the foundation of our house (thank you, Kansas clay soil) that had been there when we moved in, but not disclosed to us.

Tough Guy with a big shovel
And once it was all finished, we had to put the yard back in order. Needless to say, there were some little boys super eager to dig in the dirt help Daddy do the job. They actually did help quite a bit, I believe, and it was great to see them pitching in and getting a bit of understanding about the amount of labor we've put into the house.

We have spent as much time outside as we can on the warm days that we've had. And I'm working on planning field trips this month to Deanna Rose Farmstead, the Topeka Zoo, Prairie Park Nature Center - and who knows where else! We got to take a small getaway over the last weekend to Branson (I will post some wonderful swimming pictures tomorrow that my mom took of us there!), which was MUCH needed. We've got high school students graduating, college students graduating (family and friends in both!), my sister-in-law being induced tomorrow morning, and all kinds of stuff going on in the month of May! Looking forward to it!