Friday, June 16, 2017

Here's to Dads!

This weekend many families will be celebrating fathers, and grandfathers, and father figures all over our great country. I LOVE an excuse to brag on our resident father, Mr. Robert. Evelyn, Grace, Reagan, Charlotte, and Lincoln are truly blessed to be able to call this guy dad....


There are so many reasons to honor Eric today for his role in our family, but we're picking our 10 favorite things about him to highlight on this Father's Day weekend!


Dad's night at school. :)

* Evelyn says that she LOVES cuddles and snuggles with daddy! Yes, I must say he is an excellent cuddler and snuggler. ;) Haha. I know there is no more precious and safe place to be than in the arms of a loving father. Thank you Eric for showing love and affection to our babies.

* Gracie says that she loves surprises from her dad. Eric finds himself away from home quite a bit, but his kiddos always know that he is thinking about them when he brings little surprises home from his adventures. Eric enjoys buying small gifts for our kids all of the time, and I know that someday they will always remember the image of their dad standing in front of them with a sly smile on his face and his hands behind his back filled with special tokens just for them.

*Reagan loves having "a sleepover with daddy!" So, very recently our AC went out and our family found itself scattered for a night to beat the heat in our house. Eric and Reagan ended up together in his parent's basement, and I think our little man was just tickled pink about that. :) I don't think he'll ever forget the night he and dad spent together at grandma and grandpa's!

*No one makes our babies eyes light up more than their dad. Charlotte and Lincoln can't say a lot just yet, but take it from the person who spends pretty much 24/7 with these two, it's a special time when daddy comes home! In her limited vocabulary, Charlotte has added "Where's daddy?" She always wants to know when he is coming home. I know there is great comfort for the littlest ones when our family is all together and whole!


*I so appreciate that Eric is a dad who shows up. If there is a special event at school, a volunteer opportunity, a conference, or ANYTHING involving his kids, he is there. Those of us who are grown already know how much this really means to a child, so thank you Eric for always being there.

*Eric is a hard worker and a diligent provider. When God established Eric as the head of our household and leader of our family, He gave all of us a great blessing. I only hope that we are able to be a blessing to Eric in return! All of the things he does for this family, big and small, do not go overlooked. I pray that God pours out his blessings right back on him!

*Maybe one of the most special times of the day with his children is right before bed, when Eric helps them brush their teeth, and he reads scripture and prays with them. This is sometimes a chaotic routine and often ends with a "Oh my gosh kids, get to sleep!" haha. But this is another one of those things that they will never forget, and I hope they are learning through their father's example to speak the love of God to their own kids someday.

*Eric makes sure that his children get to have fun. He is always up for a trip to the movies, a family outing here there and everywhere, and even special dinners one-on-one when he can sneak them in. Quality time is high on his priority list, and I know it always will be! With five kiddos jostling for attention that requires a lot of his time and patience, and he gives it freely. He's a superhero. :)


Grace's birthday card for her dad this year. :)

And Evie's....


Hehe.

 *No matter how crazy things are here, at the end of the day Eric always reassures me of his love. When he shows me great kindness and respect, our kids definitely notice. Sometimes we forget how closely kids watch the relationship of their mom and dad. Because of the covenant we made together and with God in marriage, that love will never be extinguished, no matter what. God's promises never fail - what a great comfort to our family.

*Eric is a child of God, and reflected through his Father I see so many admirable qualities that they share...there is no idleness in his hands...he has a real conviction for fairness and justice...he is generous...he has a love for children and special place in his heart for the rights of the unborn...Eric is a wonderful counselor in times of trial...he speaks with confidence...he shows no partiality...he is always learning and growing in depth of insight. To say that I respect and admire him is a huge understatement.

We are pulling double-duty this weekend as we celebrate dads and Evelyn's 8th birthday on Sunday. I simply couldn't let our daddy be overshadowed by Spongebob Squarepants (Evelyn's choice of party theme, haha!) I hope that Eric gets some time to just relax, maybe tinker in the garage like he does so much these days, and feel the love his family has for him this weekend.

Eric, you are one in a million, pal! Love you! Happy Father's Day. :)


Monday, June 12, 2017

Evelyn is Eight!

Today we celebrate one very special girl's eighth birthday. Eight years since Eric and I became parents to this sweet and spunky kid - holy moly!


Evelyn hadn't quite entered the world yet at the time that I am writing this post, but Eric and I had already spent one very long night waiting in the hospital for her arrival eight years ago. I didn't get a wink of sleep that night, tossing and turning and thinking about meeting our very first child. We were so woefully unprepared...in so many ways. :)

I remember the hospital room being cold and Eric didn't have adequate blankets to sleep with. We had no idea that we had control over our room's thermostat. It was a long night for both us! This whole routine, one that would become quite familiar to us in the coming years, was all brand new.

Evelyn was one of the babies where the epidural didn't work the first time during one of the hardest labors I would ever have, and she gave us all quite a scare when her heart rate plummeted and we nearly had to have an emergency c-section. She made her entrance into the world full of drama...and she has never stopped enjoying being the center of attention! 


There is a lot that becomes a blur over the years. The details can become foggy when you have had five babies. But I will never forget as Evelyn made her debut hearing Eric's voice call out to me, "Here she comes!" I had never heard a tone of such awe and expectation come from my husband, and I have never heard it since. He was about to be a dad for the very first time. He was seeing something he had never seen before. I didn't look. Haha! Eric held my hand, and we finally met the little one that would change the course of our lives forever. You don't get moments like these twice. And they are over so quickly. I hope Heaven comes full of instant replays of some of the highlights of our life. :)

Our Evelyn Lily was our honeymoon baby, so she has quite literally been with us from the very beginning. She was an unexpected and special gift. God orchestrated her very existence even by manipulating our wedding date. I wanted our wedding to be on September 20, but the hall was booked already. So the 13th it was! If we had been married one week later, we might not have had our little Evie. No coincidences. No mistakes. She was just meant to be. :)

I see the stirrings of a "big girl" in our oldest already. Evelyn is more emotional these days. She likes to spend quiet time by herself in her room. I am often calling out all over the house to find her, because she is perfectly content to wander off by herself to read a book or watch a video on her own. I was thinking forward to the festivals we will attend this summer and how there are some rides that she will have outgrown by now. I can't believe we are here already. I can't believe that we are preparing to leave another stage of life behind with her. She is shedding more and more of the little kid stuff every day and looking forward to the things she will do when she is bigger. We are sort of at an in-between stage at the moment, and I will be holding on to that for as long as possible!



Evelyn still wants to be an artist when she grows up, and her dad picked out all sorts of special gifts for her to hone her skills. We're already discussing the Disney college program so...watch out world. Ha! We're hoping to pull a little party together for her his weekend, because of course we want to celebrate this amazing kid properly. For now, we're enjoying a quiet day at home with all of our normal birthday traditions - cake, presents, and Evie gets to pick dinner tonight. I hope she can feel our love for her!

We love you so much Evelyn, and I know that your eighth year will be full of fun and great memories! Happy Birthday! 


Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Gift For My Husband

The Jesus Storybook Bible that we read to our children describes God’s love as a never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love. I will never forget the first time I heard our kids recite these words aloud on their own. My mother’s heart overflowed like a brimming cup spilling over. In Christianese we have a word for this kind of love…it’s called agape love. Agape love is completely sacrificial. One definition is…

"…Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not."

My husband turns 30 years old today, and I can think of no greater gift that I could give to him than the gift of my never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever, unconditional love. He has it. It is his. And it took me a very long time to learn this kind of love in order to give it to him.


Agape love does not come naturally. In fact, it’s impossible to possess or to give without the power of Christ first flowing through you. It is only because my personal cup has been filled to overflowing by God himself that I can even begin to offer this kind of love to anyone else. “….does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”  Take a moment to reflect on these words alone. No really, do it.

It’s not possible to love someone this way unless you have first been loved this way.  Feeling this kind of love breaks you. Often before a person feels this kind of love they have been put through the wringer of life. They have been battered and bruised. And just because someone has received this love already, that does not mean that they are instantly ready to give it.

There will be trials and temptations. There will be tests of the spirit and will. A person will be picked up like a lump of clay and slapped on the potter’s wheel over and over and over again until they are molded and shaped into something that resembles a useful vessel. They will be put into the fiery furnace and beaten and banged, sparking and smoldering, until they bend. And when it is all over they consider it pure joy when they have faced trials of many kinds, for trials produce endurance and character.  What was once a useless lump has become something beautiful.

When Eric and I were first married, I admit that I was not capable of giving this kind of love.  Although Christ had already given it to me, I simply hadn’t experienced enough life yet to appreciate what a gift it was. Early love is…selfish love. Let’s be honest. :) It’s love that requires butterfly feelings in the stomach to sustain it. It’s love that argues a lot when it doesn’t get its way.  It’s love that keeps score and asks, “What’s in it for me?” If you’re not getting anything from it then it’s time to move on. If you aren’t feeling happy all of the time then the love must have expired. Selfish. Many of us never get past this and search our whole lives to find something more.


Then Eric and I had children and my love deepened for my husband as I watched him become a father. He’s a great dad. We grew closer in a way that only time allows. We learned each other’s strengths and shortcomings. Love isn’t truly put to the test until you see someone as they really are, not just the person they want you to see, but full-frontal flaws dangling on display in all of their imperfect glory. Love isn’t put to the test until your entire family spends a night sleeping near (or in!) the bathroom, taking turns rejecting anything that had been consumed that day and feeling fairly certain that each one of you is going to die a slow and painful death by vomit. Love isn’t tested until nurses come flying into your peaceful hospital room because something is wrong with the baby. It’s not tested until it holds a hand through a great loss. Love is not tested until you’ve sat awake all night with a crying child or survived 16 hour car ride with them!

But that love is still not agape love. When you are both pulling for the same team, love is easy. What happens when the person you love most really lets you down? What happens when the marital bliss bubble is burst and your whole life turns upside down? What happens when you thought what was…really wasn’t? What happens when you wake up one day and think…I’m not sure if I really even like this person anymore? At some point one or both people will fumble the ball and really screw up someway, somehow. What then? It is at this point that any marriage or relationship is at a crossroads.

There is only one thing that can get you through that and allow you to come out stronger on the other side. That’s agape love. That’s love that doesn’t change whether it’s returned or not. That’s saying, “This is WAY too hard for me to handle on my own, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That is saying, “I don’t care if you treat me like dirt, I forgive you and I’m not giving up on you,” which is exactly what God says to each one of us, every single day.


The package I have to offer my husband this year doesn’t look very pretty on the outside I’m afraid.  It’s been banged around and punched a few times right in the guts. ;) It has come with a lot of blood, sweat, and many tears.  It is the result of nearly a decade’s worth of growth and learning.  It did not come easily, and I had to fail a lot of tests before I obtained the ability to pass it on. Because God loved me SO much and poured his love and mercy on me, I now have this most precious gift to give to the one person I love most on earth.

Eric, it has been an honor and a privilege to watch you and stand by your side for the past decade. I have watched you set goals and smash every one of them. I have seen great blessing and favor dropped right into your lap. You grabbed onto opportunities and ran.  God entrusted you with a little and then he gave you A LOT. Nothing in your life has come in small doses. You were a fantastic father the first time around, so God gave you FIVE children. (Thanks, God! We are DONE, but thanks!)  You worked super hard in minor roles at work, so God gave you major ones. You were a good steward with a little, so he blessed you with more than you needed. You were a really great husband, so he took your undeserving wife and grew her in such a way that you now have a devoted, loving woman who is your biggest fan and (trust me) the most diligent prayer warrior you will ever have by your side, offering you unconditional, agape love.  I cannot personally give you the world, but ALL good things come from God, and I have been praying his blessings on you every single day.

We used to sit and dream about what our lives would look like once we both reached our 30’s. Haha. I’m not sure if where we’re sitting today is exactly what we had in mind. But something tells me that, with a whole lot of grace, love, and daily forgiveness towards one another, you are about to have the best decade of your life so far. God set you up for amazing things while you were in your 20’s, and I truly hope that you now reap what you have sown.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. You're amazing! I am so excited to see what He has in store for you next!


 Happy Birthday, Eric. I agape love you. ;)


Friday, March 17, 2017

My Lucky Charms

Mischievous. 

A little unruly. 

Attracted to shiny things.

Very protective of their STUFF.

And always up for a drink, morning, noon, or night.

I could be describing your everyday resident leprechaun...


...or it could be the Robert kids. :)

Aw, man. Another minor holiday with a theme, and you know what that means. Moms get to dress their kids up and torture them take pictures of them for posterity. I've certainly done my share of it around here. Don't plan to stop that...any time soon.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Linc. :)

This also means that you get a post full of family bloopers, cause that's really what these attempts are all about. One hundred shots of crazy all in the hopes that maybe one or two pictures come out kinda sorta okay!


Charlotte was...not really interested in taking a seat with her siblings on the steps.




But that's okay, because it allowed me to capture one of my all-time favorite kinds of pictures of my kids...the one where the baby of the family looks like they have finally realized just what they've gotten themselves into belonging to this clan. Oh, we have many of those photos. :) Yes, Lincoln. Take it in, buddy. Take it all in. You won't remember many of these days, and that's probably for the best!


Charlotte much preferred to roll around on the hardwood floor, and after about ten minutes of trying to persuade her otherwise, the big kids just decided if they couldn't beat her...well...they should just join her!

(Good call on not beating your little sister, kids.)



A blessed mess!

There seem to be two types of people in this world. The type who believe that everything is by chance and of little real meaning, and the type who believe that circumstances happen and certain people come into their life for a reason. I'm a reason gal myself, so the word "lucky" admittedly makes me cringe a little bit in some contexts. Luck is random, but blessings are purposed. 

Last night the girls and I had a "slumber party" as we like to do sometimes. I was quite entertained by their pillow chatter as some of us were trying to fall asleep. It started out with The Magic School Bus, followed up by the importance of friction and our ability to walk, then talks about Heaven and why those people in the bible were so dumb to have tried to build a "staircase" to Heaven, because I mean....they would have had to go through space where people can't breathe (duh), then somehow the conversation shifted to easter eggs in Pixar films, and finally they giggled themselves to sleep quoting Big Hero Six.

I remember many many nights of obscure conversations before bed just like those with my friends. I didn't have a sister close enough in age to relate to like that when I was growing up. They have no idea how blessed they are. And I felt so blessed just sitting there listening to them. It was late, but I didn't care. It wasn't a school night. I just let them talk. I can't even tell you how great it feels to have kids old enough to have conversations like that. To be able to be a fly on the wall and peek inside the way their minds work. I love it. Blessed, indeed.

I wasn't about to call this post "My Blessed Charms" though, because that's weird and it reminds me of one night Eric and I spent cracking up when we were dating over some Christian tv station working really hard to sell magical prayer blankets, and well...okay, maybe you had to be there. :)

Alright you kids. I'm going to leave you with a little Irish Blessing for your day.

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you, and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Updates!


We are on spring break this week, which means it's that time of the year once again! We knew when we moved in to our new house last summer that some of the renovations we wanted to do would be done in phases...and phase two is slowly but surely revving up around here.

We are mainly continuing to furnish areas of our home that need it, and we have spent the last several weeks debating which projects we should tackle this year and which ones we should save for the future. Hardwood floors or a fence? New kitchen cabinets? Windows? Carpet upstairs? I think we have reached a decision...I think. :) We have some landscaping projects that are going to be getting underway soon, and we may just focus on the outside of our home primarily this year for the "big" things and work on getting a functioning office and buying furniture on the inside. We'll see!

Just last night we did something that we had hesitated to do for quite a while, and you can see it in that picture right behind me.


The kids are certainly enjoying it! We put a TV in our living room. 

Now I know this isn't strange for most people, and some households may have a TV in nearly every room...but we resisted this one! We purposely put one television upstairs and one in our basement, keeping the main level of our house a more quiet space. But Eric saw a great deal one day and couldn't pass it up, so we ended up with a third TV set, haha. We are trying it for now. And it's NOT going to be on all of the time. But we couldn't resist a little Fuller House this morning while some work was being done in our office. :) I need to find some long baskets to go underneath the highboys that we bought for either side of the fireplace. If you know a great place to find some, let me know!


Before we can finish off our office we needed to have the GIANT HOLE that was in our ceiling patched up from a bathtub leak upstairs. (Ay yi) We are currently on day two of three in that process. I snuck under the plastic to take a picture....


No more hole! And it will look good as new once the paint is rolled on tomorrow. 

So yes, that is what we are presently up to. Enjoying some time off of school and working a bit on the house. I am super excited to get a swing set for the kids soon so that we can get outside and enjoy the weather...when it finally decides what to do with itself! Finally...a real yard with a real place for a swing. Took us nearly a decade. :) 

Now to swirl through time a bit....

A couple of weeks ago Eric and the big girls had a night out with some princesses. I couldn't not share a few pictures from the evening. They all had a great time!


They had been looking forward to this for quite a while!



We are loving Moana right now! Watching her nearly every day. :)



Nothing like a little daddy/daughter time. I'm sure the girls will never forget it. :)


It wasn't exactly Disney World...but...that's for later this year. ;) We owe the kids one cancelled vacation, haha! 

There is always good to be found in life. Always. Always blessings to be found, even when things are nutso. God's mercies are new every day, and well...it's a new day! So have a great one, friends.

Love!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Thanks a Half Million!

Well if you are a friend of mine on Facebook then you may have seen that we rolled over a fun milestone here yesterday. It took us SEVEN years to do it, but slowly but surely we reached 500,000 visits to our little corner of the internet!


The blog threw itself a party. ;) 

Now for a "serious" blogger this might be pretty unremarkable, but considering we have purposely kept this place small as a way to share our life with family and friends it's kind of unbelievable to me that we EVER reached this point. 

Seven years ago, my husband and several friends kept insisting that "you should blog!" and it took a little bit of time before I finally took the plunge and did it. I didn't actually think anyone would care that much about checking in on us, but I did think it would be a neat way to document life for our kids someday. It has also been a fun space to share my thoughts on certain issues from time to time and to highlight things that are important to me. If I were to check out of here tomorrow, I know that my children would always have a place to come back to where they could remember life and revisit it all through my lens. I think it's a pretty special gift and good reason why YOU might consider blogging, too. If for no one other than your own family. It's a priceless labor of love. :)

Because I'm not going to lie. It's not easy to keep up with. It's a commitment. And if you've ever tried your hand at blogging then you know exactly what I'm talking about! There have been times where I have had to step back for a while and take a break. Usually for just a month or so, and typically when I was in the throws of morning sickness or something like that. When life gets hard and I become super stressed, this is unfortunately the first thing to go. It's necessary sometimes. But I always keep coming back. It's like a scene from a cheesy love movie. "I can't quit you!"

To celebrate I whipped up a (very quick and raw!) video documenting some of our life over the last seven years. Some of it might look familiar to you if you have been with us for a while! It's set to a couple of my all-time favorite songs from one of our all-time favorite bands. It begins right about the time we started here and runs all the way through last fall, before our life started riding off of the rails a bit. I had to keep the music upbeat and fun or I would have LOST it trying to put this thing together, haha. Don't blink or you might miss something! It's hard squeezing seven years into about five minutes. This doesn't even scratch the surface of all we have shared. Let's take a little ride through time, shall we?



It's been an imperfect, crazy, yet amazing life! 
I wouldn't trade it for anything

I owe a really big thanks to Eric for being my biggest cheerleader always in anything I've ever wanted to do. I definitely would have never started blogging if it weren't for him. And he's always been so encouraging and excited to share our memories, too. Our life has been just plain stupid lately with some just plain stupid things. I'm sure most of you can relate on some level. Life is messy and it doesn't always go the way you ever planned. That doesn't mean you give up on it. Sometimes it means pulling on some gloves, stepping in the ring, and fighting like hell for what you've got. Might it leave you with some scars to show for it? For sure. 

But scars prove a life lived, a battle fought, a time of healing, and moving on to live some more. Scars tell our stories. And each of us has a story worth telling. I hope to continue telling ours for quite some time.

Here's to a half million more? :) 


Monday, March 6, 2017

A Birthday for Charlotte Rose


It took us a really long time to decide what to name our third baby girl two years ago. There were several names that we liked...we just couldn't pin down just the right one. From our list of "classic" favorites there was Caroline and Scarlett and Vivian and Eloise...I'm sure if we decided to have infinite numbers of children we would continue to choose from that pool. :) Even though it took months to decide on Charlotte's first name, we always knew that her middle name would follow tradition in our family and have a floral flair. Rose was picked from the start.

Our little Charlotte Rose lived up to her name, being born a red head and with all of the beauty and sass of a southern belle, which is exactly what her name reminds me of! When it was time to think of a theme for her party this weekend, roses were an obvious choice.


We make our own cakes, and we are not professionals. And by we, I mean me. But you can see what we were going for, right? Haha.



The kids helped me to roll up a little bouquet of napkins! We didn't go over the top (who me?) this time, but there were some themed touches here and there. It turned out super cute and it only took a few minutes to clean up the next day which is, of course, the best part. :D 

Charlotte had been napping just before her party, and when she woke up she was out of sorts and wondering what all of the people were doing in her house, haha. Soon she was catching up with grandma. Char is a hand talker....



 Cracks me up!


It was a super low-key party with grandparents and aunt Jamie who made the trip up with my mom...hi, aunt Jamie!


Oh, Gracie girl. :)


Pardon me while I swoon for a minute here. ;) 


As you can imagine, I don't see my mom these days nearly as much as I used to, so any excuse to get together is a good one! It was a nice day just to catch up.

As always, my most favorite pictures are taken while we're singing "Happy Birthday." You can usually get a little glimpse of a kid's personality when all eyes are on them, haha.



Charlotte had been sung to for days by this point, and she's just about got the whole song down herself! She is at that lovely parroting stage where she will attempt to repeat just about anything you say...which can be a little dangerous when you have older siblings that think it's hilarious to say really goofy things!


Cutie!




It was a good day that the kids had been looking forward to. I needed it! A day to just be in my element for a little while. :)

Family is such a special thing. I'm super thankful for mine, and for my extended family too...which reaches out much further than people I am related to. Everyone says this, including me ALL of the time, but I seriously have the best people surrounding me. Good, solid people who understand the importance of real love and of encouragement and who lift each of us up in prayer...people who check in when things get too quiet around here...people who just don't go away no matter what. ;) Thank you. Thank you for not going away. You're going to get a special blessing someday, you just wait and see. 

It's easy sometimes to get caught up in the past. To get super sentimental and lose yourself for a minute as the flood washes over you and the realization that this is all going much too fast temporarily takes over. As each of our kids turn another year older this year, we will quietly treasure the past and look forward to all that the future will bring us. And we will pray to the only one who has already been there. He knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see.  He gives and he takes away. In the end, he promises his kids that he only wants the best for them, so I'm convinced that is just what we'll have. I don't know what that looks like, and I don't know what further trials we will have to go through to get there, but I do know that everything is going to be just fine. :)

Happy Birthday, Charlotte. I pray your future is full of love and wonderful memories with your family. We love you so much!




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