A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Bushel: Giving Thanks

As we close out November, I am giving thanks for my bushel of boys. We had a wonderful week, and I will share memories later on, but here are some "boy" stories that just made our week more full of laughter and smiles ...

Jonah:

The first thing out of his mouth when I suggested we say things that we are thankful for were "I am thankful for God's Creation." And that truly speaks of Jonah. A boy who studies wildlife magazines, relishes his hunting trip with Uncle Micah in which a deer was had, and still will happily play zoo with his little brother with Beanie Babies. He loves his animals, bug, and all those things. I'm so grateful for classes for homeschoolers at the Prairie Park Nature Center.
Another story that also tells how his brain works was a couple weeks ago when he was pretty sick. High fever and laying on the couch for about three days. But, at one point, that little pale face looked up at me: "Mom, did you know that when you add two even numbers together, you get an even number. And when you add two odd numbers together, you get an even number. But, when you add an odd number and an even number together, you get an odd number!" My math brained child = )

Reuben:

This kid either completely drives me up the wall, or has me melted into snuggles ... or dying laughing at his ridiculousness. He was thrilled to run into the room and announce: "I KNOW MY MEMORY VERSE! IT IS 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, Proper Noun 3:5a'". Yes, the verse is right, the reference needs a little help = ) Guess who has been listening hard as his 1st grade older brother is drilled about nouns?

Tonight, I suggested that each night as we put the boys to bed, instead of singing the SAME TWO SONGS every night, Eli and I would sing a different Christmas Carol to them. Reuben nods his head. "So, instead of O Holy Night, you'll sing 'Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, 15 miles on the Erie Canal!!!'" Ummmmmm, that wasn't quite the Christmas Carol I was thinking of ... = )

Matthias:

I still rock and sing him a good night song before laying him to bed. He relaxes during the song, but then when I say a prayer over him, nods his head in agreement - continuously nodding until I say Amen. And he was quite thrilled to wiggle out of Daddy's arms at Thanksgiving when we circled 'round Grandma's island for a big prayer and get between two adults and hold hands. He then tucked his chin low and looked quite proud of himself.

He mimics me, Eli and the boys. Today it was wagging his finger at me, talking in gibberish and then running into another room for about 30 seconds. And then repeating several times. I think it was an imitation of Mommy saying: "Be back in just a minute!" like I often do before running downstairs to grab laundry, or closing the bathroom door when I dry my hair. And looking around during the day: "Dada Bye-Bye." And waiting for my confirmation that, indeed, Daddy is bye-bye at work.


So, we will count down to Christmas, and I hope enjoy each day. So glad I have them. And so grateful for my husband, who walks each day with me, and who is there is to laugh with me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Baking Buddies

I give up ... these two CANNOT give normal smiles to the camera anymore!
I promised the boys that today, once school was finished, they could help me make chocolate chip cookies (which means they also get to conduct a taste test on the dough ...). My grandma, uncle, aunt, and cousins are flying in this evening for Thanksgiving, so I'm in charge of getting some desserts done to have around for lunch/dinner tomorrow, when we're doing "easier" meals as we hang out together. And who can argue with homemade chocolate chip cookies? Exactly. Enough said.

Ready ... Set ...
POUR!!!
Most of my aprons are packed, so I just deal with getting flour on us. It happens. Although today, we actually came out from everyone pretty darn clean - and the kitchen as well!

We pulled the stool into the corner by the KitchenAid, and worked away together. Worked on getting the ingredients into the bowl and not onto the counter, and on taking turns nicely. = )


Measured. Poured. Mixed. Tasted. Yum yum. I love those moments when I get to do this with the bigger boys. Matthias was napping, and that is the best time for cooking and baking in my house right now, because that little boy wants to help with ALL THINGS that go on in the kitchen. So, we mixed up cookies, baked away, and then prepped them to take to share with family. I just love this season!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Workload

When we bought our house, we were told there "had been some water" coming at one point in the basement, but it was a gutter issue and was fixed. Eight years later, we finally fixed what was really a crack in the foundation - NOT a gutter issue. I grew up in a house with a basement, and I know, living in Kansas, the issue with basements/dirt that is more like mud/water and all it entails. It means that close to 60% of houses with basements in this town have had to have some type of foundation work. Ours not excluded.

We originally thought the crack was small, and did a smaller "job" to fix it in the spring. Found out a couple months later that the crack was in fact larger. And a bigger job (which equals bigger cost) needed to be done to completely fix the problem.

Enter this:


Yup. The front of our house was dug out last weekend, that wall was patched with three different types of patching and there is NO WAY water can come through that wall anymore! It was a big job, one that been weighing on Eli's shoulders especially in the last few months. Once we realized the job was so big, we took the For Sale sign out of the front yard and made the hard decision to take the house off the market until next spring.

That means that for four days, the little boys thought climbing around on a huge dirt pile was tons of fun: "Mommy, can we keep this dirt mountain until Christmas???" And I watched my front yard become a mound of dirt, and now a flat yard of dirt. When we get home from anywhere, Matthias still points his little fingers around and shakes his head: "Yes, Bubbs," I have to respond to his concern. "It's a big mess".


The outside job in done, big sigh of relief. We have work to finish inside as we had ripped out sheetrock on that wall and that all has to be re-done ... but if we can keep our hands to the plow, then the house will once again be for sale in the spring.

Some moments feel exhausting. Why why why???? I think I have asked God a millions times "why" on this one ... why not sold last spring? Why the big job on the basement? It could go on forever. But, I have had to lay my "whys" to rest. And come to peace that I may never really understand the "Why" ... that my imperfect understanding only sees such a short moment in time, when He sees the entire picture. And find trust in my heart and contentment in my home. A home where little heads sleep in peace and we are warm and safe. And why should I ask for more?

May I be thankful. Thankful that the work could be done, the problem fixed. Thankful we have a home. Thankful as I look towards of week of busyness that my family will be around, my sister and I will cook and get messy together, little cousins will laugh and play together, and that even when circumstances are soooooo not perfect, I can say that my heart is full.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beanie Baby Party

The boys have collected quite a few Beanie Babies. Makes me wish I had actually saved the ones I had through junior high when they were really becoming popular! Ah well, Oma and Aunt Hannah have given us some, and we've picked up a few at garage sales. They're pretty fun, and make great pet store, zoo, etc. games to fill time. The boys are attached to their little animals, and there is often one toted along as we leave the house.

I don't know how the conversation actually started, but somehow, on Saturday, Jonah and Reuben were sitting at the dining room table with all their Beanie Baby dogs. Talking about how old their dogs were, what toys their dogs liked, on and on with it ... and then it became when these little doggies had birthdays. And then they were asking if we could have a "birthday party" for two dogs, who just happened to be having birthdays the next day. And "Mommy, do you think that we could make a cake? Tuffy and Fetch just love birthday cake!"

Why not?

I had a cake mix in the cabinet, and so, Sunday evening, Eli had a youth event going on anyway, so we had a puppy birthday party.

Quite the event, complete with bandana wrapped presents for the puppies, followed by each puppy bringing a toy for a show-and-tell event = ) Little boys. Smile. Love 'em.


Maybe it was really all a scheme from two little boys who wanted cake for themselves. Maybe we just needed a little celebration in our weekend! Either way, since I have no little girls with which to have tea parties around this house, I might as well be having birthday parties for stuffed animals, right? At least it wasn't desperate pleas to join in on the light saber fight = ) I get enough of those requests already around here!


Clapping during the "Happy Birthday" Song



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Date Night

Eli and I haven't been on a date for quite a while ... it's not for lack of desire! He is so good, always trying to find a time or suggesting a night that we can get out for dinner or something. It's just that with youth group, Bible study, family birthday, and other commiments that take up other evenings, it just seems that there end up being few evenings that we actually want to get a sitter for the boys and get out. Or things fall through. Or something like that ...

But tonight we get to! I love love LOVE superhero movies, and we've both been waiting for the second Thor movie to come out. One of our favorite girls from the gym is coming over to watch the boys, and we're going to go sit, relax, and get out! Yay!

Got me thinking about our date nights in the past: pre-little-boys, it was easy to get away. And then with Jonah, it still wasn't too bad. I was home pretty much full time, and one little guy (who drank completely from his bottle) was pretty easy to find a couple hours of someone who wanted him. Then you add another (and Reuben NEVER would take a bottle), and it got trickier.

Now with Matthias, even that much more. Thankfully, once we got past his first year - theobsessedwithnursingchild - it is easier to just pick a time. And we have such great family and friends, that usually, when we finally find a time slot, we can find someone for the boys.

I know that no matter how great things are in our marriage, that this always has to be a priority and we've can't get too comfortable. We commit to always making time for "us", even with busy schedules. That's no excuse, really. So, even though you can't do much chatting during a movie, I'll enjoy holding my man's hand (and squeezing it too, because I get freaked out waaaaaayyyy to easy!) without being tugged on by someone who only comes up to my waistline!

This was us, three months after Jonah was born! Yikes! Over 6 years ago ...
 
About 6 months after Reuben was born ... 4 years ago

And now! What a crew the Brooks are turning into = )

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sleepy Time

Last night I woke up at 2:30am ... and although I was tired and knew I needed sleep because my alarm would ding before 5am for a work appointment, I couldn't fall back asleep. My mind pinged back and forth between thinking of scenes from Pride and Prejudice (my fave!), and trying to sing hymns to myself in my mind to draw my mind into a sleepy, contented state.

Didn't work.

At 4am I was still awake, shifting side to side on my pillow. And then I heard a little voice calling "Mommy ... Mommy!"

Reuben. At random times, one of his feet will get growing pains. Always in the middle of the night. So, next to him I lay for half an hour, rubbing that little foot while he whined cried into my shoulder. Until sleep got the best of him and he fell back asleep, exhausted.

Not so much for me, though. By then, I might as well get up and get ready for work. = ) Early morning. I usually never have coffee that early, but this morning, I warmed up half a cup from our pot made yesterday and drank it down before heading into the chill outside that waited for me.

Miraculously, I haven't felt super tired yet today. But, I have felt worn down in the patience area, which I know is also due to my tiredness. Funny, that last night in my devotion, I read (totally paraphrased): more of His power and grace are waiting for me to draw upon when faced with challenges.

Not that anything extraordinarily challenging was waiting for me today: except that 5 hours of sleep is NOT my normal prescribed time. That's enough of a drain on my physical body to produce more emotional challenges in the day ahead. Challenges presented themselves in the form of a toddler being clever enough to drag a kitchen chair to the counter and manage to spill my brand new bag of trail mix; a whiny six year old who needs more sleep to recover from three days of sickness; a four year old who might often believe his sole purpose for the next half hour is to annoy said six year old ... which causes - well, you know what that causes! And would I come unglued with it? Would I let those moments rule my day? My tiredness rule my attitude?

I surely wasn't perfect by any means, but in the moment of picking up peanuts off the floor, while Matthias was wailing in his time out spot, that I invited a Peace past my own understanding into the moment. Tried to extend grace to little boys who have to learn, but don't always know any better.

And even when I told Eli, my head on his shoulder, that there was a lot of whining in my day by the little guys, I could truly say, "It wasn't a bad day ... there were just moments." Moments to rise up and allow imperfection in our lives, but invite grace to reign.

And now it's 8pm ... bedtimes readings are being finished by Daddy, and once those towheads are in bed, I'm headed that direction as well.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cinnamon Cookie Granola

I've been inside and homebound much more this week than normal. Sick kiddos ... first one, and then another, who still isn't quite recovered. That means that some afternoon activities had to been put by the side, and we hung out together inside.

That also meant that while sweet sick boys laid on the couch, I got more time in the kitchen = ) This was a bonus for Eli, who probably got more warm home-cooked meals this week than in quite a while ... also meant I got to try a few recipes that I've been waiting for time to work on. AND, my house got cleaned each day! Maybe a slower pace did me some good, wink wink.

One of the recipes I've been wanting to try was this one for granola (yes, her pictures are AMAZING)
. I've had an unopened jar of Cookie Butter that a friend gave me ... but I've resisted opening it and just eating it one little spoonful at time (because if it got opened, that surely would happen!) over a few weeks, because I wanted to save it to bake with. Saw this recipe on Pinterest, and I was sold. We love to have granola over here, and I always like to try various kinds! I modified it just slightly, and we are gobbling up the container-full.

This means that, unfortunately, my jar of Cookie Butter won't last long now. Sigh. I've been hoping and hoping someday a Trader Joe's will come to Lawrence, because I really don't make trips to KC just to shop for groceries that are hard to find around here. Or, perhaps given the nature of how addictive this granola is, it might be a fortunate event in that I will make a couple more batches and we'll be out. Either way, it is t.h.a.t. g.o.o.d.


Cinnamon Cookie Granola 
2 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
3/4 c. shredded coconut
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*mix together in a bowl - set aside
1/3 c. Cookie Butter
1/8 c. canola oil (or oil of your choice)
1/4 c. honey
*microwave together for about 40 seconds, and then mix well. If not melted enough to mix well, microwave again for 15 seconds. Pour over your oat mixture and stir well. Pour into a glass baking dish and bake at 275 degrees, for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with-
1/2 c. Cinnamon chips
*Let the cinnamon chips melt a bit into your granola, and then give a gentle stir. Let everything sit until completely cooled and then you'll have sweet, slightly crunchy granola, with some good chunks .... just the way we like it over here!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Basketball

We enrolled Jonah in the Parks and Recreation 1st Grade Basketball League this fall. He has been E.X.C.I.T.E.D. I can't really even exaggerate the amount of times he would ask when practices/games would start and who would be on his team, etc etc etc. With homeschooling, we're working to be out with other kids as much as possible: going to co-op, Prairie Park Nature Center classes, Bible study groups, and now basketball. I know he needs the social interaction, plus his nature is social. He loves to be around people, and loves to meet and make new friends.

I got my dad to be the "coach", with Eli assisting him. That way, if Eli wants to volunteer as head coach next year, he'll have a year behind him! So, Jonah gets Opa and Daddy ordering him around! They only have seven practices, and six games total, so the season is not long by any stretch of the imagination.

Last Saturday was the first game. It was the best. All these little first graders boys (and one girl!) running all over the court, dribbling when it occurred to them, not really ever wanting to pass because that might (gasp) mean they wouldn't get to take a shot! Oh, it was funny and adorable and wonderful all at the same time. Reuben sat on their bench the entire game, completely content to just sit there and watch them run all around him.

video

We got lots of great pictures, and I was just lucky enough to have pulled up my phone for a quick video, only to capture Jonah making his one and only basket this game! What a fun little memory for him (which I am so glad he made at least one basket!) to have.

He's already counting the days until the next practice and subsequent game, and you know what? I am too.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christmas in Silver Dollar City

Jonah, Reuben, and Mya having lunch at Panera
We headed out to Silver Dollar City on Saturday afternoon with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, their little girl, and Eli's sister's daughter. A bit of family makes a whole lot of fun! We had season passes this year, so this was our third (and final) trip to Branson to enjoy Silver Dollar City. They opened on November 2nd with all their Christmas lights and shows up and running. So, on November 3rd, we got a foretaste of Christmas spirit = )


It was fun.

Like any trip, especially trips involved children under the age of 2, there were tears, fits, missed naps and the like, but there was also wonder, laughter, first times on roller coasters and all that good fun!

Mya, my mom and I on a ride together
The ball place is ALWAYS a hit!

Mya (10 years old) has been waiting to go to the place her little cousins are always talking about, so taking her with us was really fun. She was big enough to ride some big roller coasters with me and Eli, but young enough to still want to ride smaller rides and fall in love with Christmas lights with all of us.

Having a snack!
Little ones finding lights!
I have never pretended that Christmas is not a big love of mine - holiday months are special to me, and I enjoy traditions to the fullest. Even though it is only the first weekend in November, it was kinda fun to hear some Christmas carols being played, and see a beautiful Christmas parade.


I got to ride rides with my mom, Eli, and watch Reuben enjoy more rides than he has in the past. Ate my fill of my favorite kettle corn. Enjoy time with my sister. Go to the place I have been going since being a baby, and I love love LOVE taking my family there.


Heading out from Branson

At Bass Pro Shop in Springfield
 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Harvest Party 2013

We ended October with a bang! As I have done for the last 30 years of my life, I was at our Harvest Party. It does seem odd sometimes that now Eli and I are over the Harvest Party ... the same event that I attended as a child, helped at as a teen, and did what I could when Pastor Stan and Allison ran it. But, here we are!

Our first year running it, we were running around (literally) so much that we didn't even get a family photo. Boo. Last year, we rectified that situation and managed to get one = ) This year, it still was a challenge, and Eli was running down the hall to get one boy, while the other tried to convince me to let him go to "one more booth!" before Daddy got back with the other for the picture. And we had to find what booth Matthias was hiding in as well. Yep. That's our life - wouldn't have it any other way!

Reuben and his buddy Joshua
I had to get over being disappointed with our costumes this year. Eli's was pretty amazing, and he completely put it together himself - I can't take any credit. The boys were super happy with theirs, and that is what truly matters. But, there is a part of me that wants to go ALL OUT with costumes. And then the 2nd week of October hits, and I say to myself what was I thinking? I don't want to sew a ton of stuff? I don't want to take three boys into Hobby Lobby for ANY reason whatsoever!

And our costumes get simplified.


So, ninjas with our sensei is how it all ended ... and once we were all put together, I was happy with it. I always leave thinking ... maybe next year we'll ... Ha! Someone remind me next September to find something simple so that I don't have to feel defeated giving something up.

We had over 800 people come through the Harvest Party. Our biggest year that we can remember in the history of it ... and it went fairly smoothly all things considered. I'm so proud, once again, of Eli and how he runs events and loves his job. We are truly blessed!