Saturday, December 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Simeon!

Happy 9th Birthday Simeon!  Your birthday was actually quite a few days ago, but with all the holiday activities, including a trip to Illinois for Thanksgiving, I am just now sitting down to write your birthday note.

This year has brought a lot of growth for you.  You have grown taller and your feet seem to have a growth spurt every other week!  You continue to love sports and are constantly playing football or soccer or some other ball game.  Most often you play with Ezra because he enjoys those things as well, but you can be found playing with Lucas and Josiah as well.  You have grown a lot in your ability to control yourself when you get frustrated because you are so competitive!  I am proud of you for working hard at this!  It is not easy for you.

You also continue to enjoy Lucas immensely and now that he is older, you include him in many of your games, always kindly.  It seem slike you instinctively know how to play with younger ones and often let him win or at least make him feel like he is winning.  You want to sit by him at dinner and have started taking a bath with him, taking care of washing and dressing him.  Similarly, you love to help in the nursery at church and jump right in, playing with the kids, again very instinctively.  You often ask about our family having another baby and I would have one in a heartbeat just for you to have that joy if I felt God had given us the green light in that area.  I am very interested to see how God uses and develops your love for little ones.

You continue to enjoy school as well and, in general, it is pretty easy for you. You don't necessarily handle no knowing things very well and we are working at not pretending to know something you don't and working to learn things that might be harder for you without giving up.  You still like to know what things are like before joining in.  One of your favorite things at school is recess!  You have a great teacher this year, who often plays football with the boys in your class at recess.  At your parent teacher conference this fall, Mr. Fischer mentioned that you intercepted some of his passes and they were really good plays on your part!  I often don't hear about anything else from school from you except for the play-by-play that you give me about what happened at recess.  And then, your face is so animated as you give all the details!  You are very well-liked at school and when I ask about your friends, you rattle of 5-6 names and often keep going.

You know all the Vikings football players numbers and positions.  You've started enjoying reading more, especially Flat Stanley books.  You still choke down cooked vegetables, but are better at fresh ones.

I love you Simeon.  I am so priviledged to by your mom.  I see so much possibility in your future and just wonder what God is going to do in and through you!  I love your spontaneous hugs and shy smile.  I pray that God will help you be a leader in your class, doing the right thing even when it is hard to go against those around you.  I pray that you will use your talents and abilities to help and serve others.  Above all, I pray this year, you will learn more who God is and follow him more fully in all areas of your life, loving Him more than anything.  Happy birthday, Simeon!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

He is Worthy

There was unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable tragedy that hit our community last week.  A small, strongly Christian community where everyone seems to know everyone.  A three year old little girl lost her life due to an injury she received at the hands of her daycare provider.  And it felt like the entire community gasped and wept.

And I've wept.  For the little girl who looks so much like my little three year old.  For the mom and dad who had to hold her as she went to see Jesus.  For the mom and dad who had to hug her sister and brother and remind them they didn't need three little cups at the table anymore.  For the daycare provider who I know only in passing and small talk at activities.  For her three little girls who have lost their mom.  For her husband who has lost his wife.  For them as they try to continue life, in a small town, with her out on bail.

And I sat in my chair on this day, the day containing a celebration ceremony of the life of that little three-year-olds, and I watched her memorial video.  And I wept and I prayed.  And I marvelled that her parents could use songs full of grace and compassion in her video.  That they spoke of a God who has conquered death as they celebrated her life.

And then, this afternoon I heard Selah's song All My Praise.  And I thought to myself, do I believe this? If I were these parents, could I believe this?  That even in the valley of death, in the midst of my worst nightmare, He is worthy of all my praise?   I've watched my sister and brother-in-law live that nightmare.  My aunt heart has bled with them and for the nephew I did not get the joy of holding.  I've witnessed Joel's brother and sister-in-law live daily with the possibility of that nightmare.  I've cried and prayed extra hard at those particularly scary moments.  I know just a sliver of what it is like.  It is terrible, painful, unimaginable and unthinkable.  And my conclusion is this. . .deep down I do believe this.  But more than that, I have to believe this.  Because I don't think there is any way I could handle something as unimaginable as this, if God would chose to allow it in my life, unless I could cling to the fact the He is worthy and He is seated on His throne.

Oh God, thank You that You are Worthy, no matter what is happening in this sin sick world around me.  That You are big enough to handle my uncertainty and pain. That You grant grace and strength to those experiences their deepest valley.  That You are the Only One who can help us make it through.  Be All that the people involved in this tradegy need today and in the days to come.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Evelyn's Eyes

I took Evelyn to an opthomogolist in Sioux City today.  Lucas went with us and was delighted to have his sister around to chatter and giggle with.  What I anticipated being less than an hour appointment took 2.5 hours while we waited and saw three different people.  As I didn't have a watch and doctor's offices never seem to have a clock, I had no idea how late it was until we returned to the car.  I only heard, "It's taking long time. . ." from Lucas!  They really did well, for which I am very grateful!  Anyway, the end report is that Evelyn has a mild form of Amblyopia in her right eye. Wikipedia describes it better than I can and says, "In amblyopia, visual stimulation either fails to transmit or is poorly transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain for a continuous period of time. It can also occur when the brain "turns off" the visual processing of one eye to prevent double-vision, for example in strabismus (crossed-eyes). It often occurs during early childhood, resulting in poor or blurry vision." She does not have the crossed eyes that often occur because of this.   They will put her in glasses to fix the blurrines in the hopes that the brain will decide to use the right eye as well.  We return in 7 weeks to check the progress.  If there is not enough progress at that time, we will begin patch therapy to help her brain start using the right eye.  The window of treatment for this is up to age 7, so I am very thankful eye exams are expected to go to school as we had not noticed anything wrong with her vision.  I am also grateful to be doing something to help her.  She is taking it all in stride, with her bright smile and was thrilled to try on purple and pink frames!  Thanks for praying and I'll post pictures once she has her new spectacles!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Ezra!

Happy 7th Birthday Ezra!  Today you turn seven.  On Wednesday you head to first grade.  I have watched you grow up so much this year, and particularly this summer.  You are growing into quite the boy.  

You have grown into a good worker.  Dad loves it that he can give you a task, here on the acreage or at the school and you will methodically complete it and keep at it until you are finished.  You also got to the point this summer that you would go and find Dad and ask him what job you could do next.  You just finished organizing your dresser drawers.  You have a things about socks -- very particular about how they fit, putting them on every night no matter how hot it is, and spending your own money to buy socks with the Nike swoosh on them for school.  You are the only one in our family that eats his plate in sections, finishing one thing before starting another.  

Even though you have grown up this summer, there are some things about you that haven't changed.  You still love to laugh and joke around.  You often can be found giggling at the table at something Josiah is doing.  You still love to play ball with Simeon.   You will eat just about anything you are served and still are the only one to join your Dad in spicy salsa and tomatoes.  You fill your plate with whatever fresh veggies that are served and for your birthday meal, you were adamant about wanting a spinach salad that I make.  You are still easy to be with.  As part of a devotional I shared at a baby shower this summer, I talked about what each of my children has taught me about God.  About Ezra I said, "Ezra has taught me about friendship with God.  He is easy-going and easy to be with. . .Ezra challenges me to rest in the easy-ness of being with God."  I can't quite verbalize what it is, but there is just something about the way God has made Ezra that he is easy to be with.  You will still snuggle up to me when we are sitting on the couch and occasionally I get your hand slipped into mine.  You are still prone to suck your thumb with your duck blanket -- we're  working on that with duct tape. . .  You still put to memory anything with music to it in no time at all. 

My dear sweet Ezra, I pray that as you continue to grow older, you keep your sweet spirit,  and you continue to tap into that easy to be with part of you, ultimately using it to draw people to Jesus.  I am excited to see what this year brings for you.  I love you buddy and am so priviledged to be your mom.  Happy Birthday.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cousin time

Amazingly, Joel and I were able to spend five days with his brother and wife riding motorcycles up the west coast.  It was a beautiful ride and an unbelievable experience.  I am so thankful for all the family that cared for the kids and to Josh and Amanda for planning the trip and making it possible for us to go!

My parents had Simeon and Lucas.  Josiah went to Joel's parents and Joel's sister, Julie kept Ezra and Evelyn.  Julie sent periodic updates throughout the week and I wanted to paste them here to remember the fun of cousin time! 

"Seriously, we've had a great day.  We mowed lawns before breakfast and after dinner; took a lengthy trip to the library and breezed through HyVee with Johanna and Ezra pushing the race car cart with Evelyn and Micaela in it; read our library books during break time and had a blast at the pool.
 Ezra ate 3 helpings of Grandma Hoffman's cucumber salad and both mowed down their black-eyed pea burgers.  Evelyn was regaling us with Joy to the World while riding on the lazy river, to the amusement of the teenagers near by, and with silly songs tonight (accompanied with giggles).  Micaela finally seems to have rounded the corner on her sickness. 
 Ezra picked out four different books on tape and wants to make sure I document his reading for the summer reading program.  One was called the Heart of a Shepherd--looks like a really neat book.  He also chose a Laura Ingalls Wilder book. Evelyn picked out Dora books and Dora movies, perhaps influenced by her cousins.  There has been lots of doctoring of babies and caring for baby dolls today. 
 Going up to put the girls back in bed again!  They have been wound up tonight.  Scary to think of them as teenagers . . . .
 Much love,

"We're loving having Ezra and Evelyn here.  They have been a joy, and full of joy.  Ezra has been an eager beaver, jumping in and mowing the lawn here and begging to mow other people's lawns.  So, we took him over to a neighbor's today and recruited two other people who'd be up for it.  He's using our reel mower. 
 Evelyn has been happy to be the center of attention--both Johanna and Micaela are enjoying her company.  Johanna is the doting older cousin, playing with her hair and laughing at her antics. Micaela is glad for a friend her age and claims her as "her" cousin.  She's been easy going, but also has her strong mind about what she wants to do.
 All four of them have been building their imaginary stories together that involve different ones being a mother or grand mother or daughter or fireman or who knows what.  They had an animal rescue station going, complete with dance studio earlier today. 
 We hit the pool this afternoon. It was cool, but they were not deterred in the least.  Evelyn was off and running, going down the slide many, many times.  Likewise, Ezra was confidently doing everything. They all did the lazy river together, and Johanna and Ezra went down the slide with the inner tube.  Evelyn would have--but she needs another inch before she's legal.  .  .
 Much love,

I am so grateful for family that loves my children and is willing to provide a secure, fun place for them!

Happy Birthday Evelyn!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little girl! 

You are now five and ready to charge into the world with all the joy that you possess.  You really engage life with so much joy and excitement.  You greet each day with a bright smile and I am so thankful for your cheerfulness. In general, you are very even-keeled, although you have struggled a bit more with all the kids home for the summer. It has been hard for you not to have my focused attention for most of the day and you have started asking me if I can do something with you.  We like to jump on the trampoline together and you love have mini tea parties when we can fit them in.  You also like me to paint your nails, but never only one color. . .always 2 or 3!  You like wearing jewelry and have started being particular about what you wear, always disappointed when I say we can't wear nice clothes to play and work here at the acreage.   You tell me I look pretty.   You can spend hours coloring and love to give your pages to anyone who visits.  You also love to play pretend and use your dolls or horses to talk to each other.  And, you like to tell others what to do!  You still love music.  Your favorite foods are quesadillas and chocolate anything!

We still visit Sioux Falls to visit the doctor there and try to get your digestive system working properly.  You are a trooper and never complain about hardly anything.  In the midst of appointments getting you ready for kindergarten, we discovered that you have one eye that has not fully developed its vision.  We are praying it will develop fully as there is no correction for that deficiency.  I have never noticed you favor one side for vision, so it will be interesting to see if that effects you at school.  The dentist also said that one side of your mouth is more crowded than the other.  It seems like this is a continuing of your development issues as a toddler and has me wondering if it is effecting your digestive system as well.  I hope to ask the doctor at your next visit.

You are a big help to me around the house.  I'm not sure if it is just your personality, or because you are a girl. . .probably a bit of both, but I can give you a job and you will get it done almost as well as I would.  You are particularly good at putting toys away -- you know their designated spots, and tidying the mudroom.  You often tell me you are helping so that I don't have to do all the work!  If I had to guess, your love language is encouraging words.  You light up whenever someone praises and you are constantly telling others "good job" or encouraging them in what they are doing.

Dear Evelyn, I pray this year, as you go out into the world, that God will protect your sweetness, that you will hold fast to the joy within you and you will grow into a young girl, full of grace and kindess towards all.  I feel so priviledged to be your mom and grateful for the sunshine you bring into our home.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Loving life on an acreage

Cleaning up some of the scrap metal on the place
 The  cleared out space

 This was the only shot he would give me. . .sigh

 The amazing man doing all the work who lets all the kids ride with him!
 Another part of the acreage almost cleared out.  This is where the small garage will end up.
 Beautiful peonies blooming. . .
And a storm blowing in. . .

Life is good.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday Lucas!

Happy Birthday Lucas!

It is hard to believe that my baby turned three today.  You came into the world in dramatic fashion and you continue to keep me on my toes.  I often tell your Daddy that you are "jekyll and hyde" which means, to me, that you are either very happy and cooperative or Mr Crabby and opinionated -- there is no in-between, and it can change in an instant.  I know this is true in general about toddlers, but I have not experienced it to your degree with your siblings!  You always have an opinion, but often change your mind after stating your opinion. This can make getting dressed, snacks, etc a long process.  I often tell you, "well this is what you chose" and walk away so you can calm down and "decide" to accept your own decision.  When you are happy, you are about the cutest thing ever.  You have the funniest phrases that you use, making me laugh often.  If I ask you a question, you will say, "Weelllll. . ." long and drawn out before answering.  You mutter, "Not again!" in disgust when things don't go your way.  And, my favorite, which most often occurs when I am helping you dress after sitting on the toliet, "I wuv you soo much!" This is followed by a big hug.  You really were a late talker, but now are starting to become clearer and you can chatter on and on if you are in the mood to.  Of course, if you don't want to say anything, good luck trying to make you say something!  All of these things are accompanied with facial expressions that are hard to describe.

You love all things to do with super heroes and ask me to "put your super powers on," which means your super hero cape.   You also love your toy gun.  You want to take it with you everywhere and once got very upset with me that I wouldn't let you take it inside a business. You often sleep with it by your side.  Earlier this spring, you went with your Daddy to the high school, with your gun in tow.  Daddy had to call and tell me that the school was safe because you had "cleared" the hallways just like you imagine a cop doing.  You love riding in the skidloader or tractor.  You still "spin" to music with your sister almost every day.  And, I'm started to catch you sitting on your bed, paging through books.  You love playing with the kitties.

I never thought that God would give me five children.  And, most days, I'm not sure I can handle you all!   But, the joy that you, my fifth child, bring into each of my days, is beyond what I can verbalize. I know that I do not deserve the blessing that you are in my life, but I'm so very grateful that God chose to give me you.  I am so excited to see how you grow and change this year.

I love you!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday Josiah!

Ten.  Somehow when you are holding a little 8lb 3oz baby, you don't realize they eventually turn four, seven, and now ten.  I remember often feeling like I didn't know what I was doing with you when you were a baby.  Honestly, I feel that way now too.  You, as the oldest, get to be the guinea pig.  Sometimes, I think that benefits you. Sometimes, I am sure it is a burden! You seem to have a personality that handles all that well and I am grateful for that!

A year to grow to ten has brought some changes.  Your sense of humor has grown and I love watching you "get" jokes that were above you just a year ago.  You think Hogan's Heroes is funny.  Your ability to read has grown and you've made a good dent in The Hobbit.  At one point while you were reading it, you told me, "I can't stop reading it, Mom. . .it's sooo good!"  At the risk of slightly embarrassing you, but because I want to remember, you stink more too and find bodily noises extremely funny!  I am sure that will get worse, but for now it means more showers, deodorant, and reminders to tone down the bodily noises as much as possible.  You started cello lessons this year.  I think you really enjoy it, although you tell me you really want to play bass.  You have worked hard at it and are doing well.  I am excited to see where that goes in the years to come.

A year to grow to ten has also keep some things the same.  You still love Legos and disappear often to make whatever you have dreamed up in your head.  You chose to pool your birthday money to get a large Star Wars lego set.  You still make the sets up but then spend hours modifying them! I continue to be amazed at what you dream up. You still love to work -- not housework, but "real" work.  Your dad often needs your help outside and you are content to do that.  You still love to shoot guns.  You have been thrilled that the move to the acreage has brought quite a few gun shoots with different groups.  This year you got to carry a gun during rabbit hunting.  You still like to be with people and continue to trail me or your dad or leaders at church to be a part of whatever we are doing.  And you still want me to be with you while you are practicing or doing school work or many other things you do.  Sometimes that desire of yours is impossible to fulfill, but I am trying to say yes as much as possible, because I don't know how long it will last and it is such a privilege to be your mom.

Life with ten year old Josiah is as exciting as it always has been.  You are always thinking, learning about the things around you, and talking with others about them.  Like your dad, you are always ready to have a conversation with people and keep things interesting with whatever new thing you have been learning or thinking about.  At conferences, your teacher told me that you sometimes "make the rounds" in the classroom, stopping at each desk to chat with students.  What a fun thing to know about you!  You embrace life enthusiastically, like you have always done, full steam ahead on most things.  You remind me that God has given us so much to enjoy and we miss so much when we fail to enjoy them!  

My prayer for you this year is that you will grow in godly character, developing those gifts that God has placed inside of you.  I pray that you will be confident in who you are and love others with more and more grace.  Josiah, you were the gift I didn't know I wanted and you put my life on a course of motherhood that has forever changed me.  You continue to challenge me as each year brings new aspects of mothering and you continue to bring me more joy than I ever knew I could experience through being your mom.  I love you!

Happy Birthday Josiah.