Friday, September 1, 2017

Dear Micah

Dear Micah,

You are now 8. But, in all honesty, you have always been much more mature for your age. I credit that to the fact that you are always trying to keep up with Josiah. So really, you are more like a 9 year old.

This year has been so busy for us, and you just roll with it. You are so easy going when it comes to plans and stress. It never seems to bother you. I am so grateful for your easy going spirit. This year you made the choice to become baptized (or bathtized as you called it for a few years). We have been so blessed by that decision and we can't wait to see what Christ has in store for your future!

Buddy, you are by far, one of the most competitive kids we have ever seen. You are so athletic, and strong, but with your ability comes your desire to be at the top. You hate to lose, or even come in second place. You have drive and talent and it pushes you to be the best, at everything. On the field you are a fierce competitor, but in our classroom you strive to challenge yourself to become better. Beat all your old testing times, and get 100% on every worksheet.  And you are so smart. Already nearly completely at a 4th grade level in school. You fly through all of your schoolwork. I have yet to find something that challenges you (other than Spanish). This drive, and this knack for taking things so seriously will get you far in life. We love that you want to do well, to succeed. Just don't let it run your life.

You will fail, you will make mistakes. This is part of life. Don't ever give up. Don't ever walk away when you feel like you won't be the best. Often, it's when we fail that we look up to those who are succeeding, and learn from them. Remember to look up when you're down. Look up to those who do better than you, and learn why. Learn to fail with humility and grace, because when you fail with dignity you will still shine. Learn to congratulate others in their success. A journey to success is alway better surround by others. 

Oh buddy, are you still so protective and loving. You are still my biggest snuggler. If I'm sitting, your looking for a hug. You're love language has always been touch. You snuggle all of your siblings every morning. You can't get close enough to them. I adore this about you. For being so tough and so serious, you love without abandon. You love everybody. You are the kid that walks right up to somebody new and becomes instant friends. You are not shy, and you don't care what others think about you. You are just so friendly. Don't ever change that. Always love recklessly, you are so good at it. 

We are so ridiculously proud of you. We are proud of your strong spirit and will to fight. I am so grateful that God chose me to be your Mom! I love you so much!

Forever and ever,


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dear Josiah

Dear Josiah,

You are nearly 10, and you expressed how much you hate your beginning of the year photos that I edit because it always says a your current age, not the age you are most of the school year. Ah, the woes of being a September baby.

Oh son, where do I even begin. You are staring to show such growth and maturity. As we have started this new school year, you have taken on much more responsibility without me even asking you to. You are beginning to think of others before yourself, which is a feat most adults can't do. You are beginning to show signs of maturity that both impress, and scare me. It's reminding me that we are on the back end of our days with you at home.

This year you have showed us a new side of you, a side that wants to be so grown up. You want to be a part of every adult conversation that's going on. You want to know things, hear things, and learn things. You want to know how to cook (you even impressed me with your "no recipe pancakes"). You want to do your own laundry, and you certainly want to stay home alone. You want to do your schoolwork alone, and independently. 

And still, even in your growth and maturity, you prove that you are such a loyal brother and son. You want to be where the action is at in our home. You want to do what what everybody else is doing. Just last night I spied all four of you playing "war", spinning sticks around "fighting bad guy aliens". You led that time for your siblings. You set up that game, like you set up nearly all the games in the house. You lead your siblings in the fun and your imagination is like nothing else. You are so creative, with your stories (Potato Star Wars is my favorite), your games, and your art. Don't ever lose that creativity, it will take you far. 

You have also shown so much growth in your athleticism. This summer we watched you grow as a basketball player when you played your heart out for your competitive team. You rolled your ankle twice in one game, and got back on your feet to give it 110% the next two games. You showed us drive, and passion; a new fire we hadn't seen yet. You have become so willing to improve your game, and you desire to learn from your Dad as he coaches you. Keep up that fire, and that drive. We love it!

You are also an amazing friend. You will jump at any opportunity to play with friends. You are loyal to your core. And one of the qualities I love most about you is that you want to be part of church and the community of believers we have built. You never complain about going to church, or being in childcare for VOX. In fact, you love it. You love to be around the high school kids, play their games, be part of their conversations. We adore this about you. Your friendliness. You are so kind, and thoughtful. You are also hilarious. No wonder your friends love you! You would never leave somebody out. You are so very inclusive, with everybody. 

And most importantly, we have watched your faith and leadership grow as a follower of Christ. You are becoming more bold as a leader. At camp this year your counselor couldn't stop talking about what a leader you were during your Bible times. Offering to pray and read and lead studies. This is where you shine. Your love for Christ and your love for others. You truly are the fire of the Lord. I adore you, my love. 

Forever and ever,


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dear Ella

Dear Ella,

You are now 6 years old.

How, exactly, did that happen so quickly? I was snuggling on the couch, with my bald, baby girl, 2 seconds ago. Here you are, standing before us, a gorgeous, sweet, 6 year old. 

Honey, listen....

You are kind.

You are capable.
You are strong.
You can do ANYTHING.
You are smart.
You are created in the image of an almighty God.
You are beautifully, and wonderfully made.
You can move mountains.

The world will try to stifle you. It will lie to you, and tell you that you are unworthy. It has done this to all of us. When you feel doubt, you ask me how valuable you are, and I will tell you. Open the scriptures, and let it tell you who you are.

This year has been full of changes for our family, and you have handled it with grace and joy. Change doesn't seem to bother you, although you do love a game plan.

You are my helper; my sidekick. Where I am, you want to be. Whatever I'm doing, you want to help. You joyfully offer to do chores. You will scrub a toilet and love every second of it.

You adore Caleb. It's quite a bond. While Josiah and Micah were blessed with a twin-like bond, you and Caleb have an amazing relationship as well. The two of you can't sleep without each other. And Caleb, MUST know where you are AT ALL TIMES.

You get along with everybody (minus some scuffles with Micah). You are eager to make new friends, and adore the ones you already have. And, you love fiercely.

You are so feminine. You love makeup, and dresses, and frills and sparkles. You love to draw, and doodle, and make artwork for all those you know. You love dancing, and twirling, and shaking that booty. You love to play with my hair, you love when I do your's. You want your nails always painted. You love to play dolls, and house. You love being a girl.

You are also athletic. You love sports (most recently, football). You love to race your brothers. You love to jump on the trampoline, and do speed drills with Daddy. You are competitive, and you are fast. You prefer your practical Nike's over your gladiator sandals. You love to play in the dirt, because being dirty doesn't bother you. You love to play games, any game, any time. You just love to keep your body moving. I can hardly keep you on the couch to watch TV.

You have an amazing sense of humor. You and Jo, twinsies. Your laugh is contagious, and your smile is perfection. Your favorite shows, are always humorous. You don't enjoy dramatic, or even remotely suspenseful stories. You want to laugh.

You say you are a "mamma's girl", but I think deep down, you're a daddy's girl. Nobody can make you laugh like he can. You would follow him anywhere, do anything, just to be with him. You love both of us so deeply, and you are so sensitive toward our feelings. Most recently, when I burned my arm, it was you who was bothered the most. You saying, "I can't see it. I don't want to see you hurt."

Oh, Ella, you are such a blessing to our family. How deeply I longed, and prayed for you. My girl. Thank God for you. You are a true gift. I pray that you will continue to love, and sparkle; just as you were created to do.

Forever and ever,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Our Fixer Upper

We sold our beloved home back in January 2017, and purchased our "dream home" located on nearly 2 acres with gorgeous mountain views.

The only hitch, it was in BAD shape. The family who previously lived in it filled it with 6 kids and 4 dogs over the course of nearly 20 years, and lived in it HARD.

We debated what to tackle first.

↣The Carpet (a lovely shade of emerald green and molded to the subfloors) was our top priority.

↣The Kitchen (broken knotty oak cabinets, green Formica countertops, and no storage)

↣Paint (a purple shade of gray)

↣Entertainment Center (off center and honey oak)

↣Wall Removal in Kitchen

↣The Basement (it was finished but needed a remodel, especially the bathroom, and a wall removed)

↣The Laundry Room


↣Paint Exterior

↣Outside Landscaping


I can't even begin to tell you all of the others that needed to be addressed. In time. We purchased the home in "as is condition", meaning the seller wouldn't fix anything for us prior to closing; and our inspection report was pages and pages long. This home is our forever "fixer upper".

The original plan was to tackle all of the flooring issues. Every square inch of flooring needed to be replaced, like, yesterday. This included the 1,900 sqft basement. The cost alone we needed to replace the flooring was going to be 20K, easily. Insane. That was going to leave us with very little wiggle room to do anything else we wanted.

By the grace of God, James and I were able to get a date night. As were sat alone at dinner we were able to think and talk clearly. James threw out the idea that we would be able to do a kitchen reno if we decided to nix the basement, for the time. Honestly, I don't know why we hadn't thought of. We had been so focused on the floors.

Before we moved in our priorities then became:

↣Leave the basement as-is, just have it cleaned.

↣Floors on the two upper levels.

↣Paint all the walls and 2 of the orange (yep) ceilings.

↣The Kitchen

But he's a Genius. We decided to look into replacing all the cabinets in leu of painting them (knotty, flat panels would look cheap had we painted it). So the hunt was on for a new kitchen (a girl's dream come true). We quickly learned that we could spend $60K without blinking. This was not an option. We turned to IKEA. People, I don't care what you've heard or thought about IKEA cabinets, but they are INCREDIBLE. They come with a 25 year warranty, and are incredibly engineered. I was able to customize my kitchen and get it perfectly designed for our family.

The day we closed on the house the demo began. We ain't got time to waste! We were living with James' parents while we did our major renovations (what a blessing they are). We hired a contractor to help us take out a wall that separated the kitchen and living room, and we did that first thing!

The house was in such disgusting shape, I have to show you what laid under the carpet. This is a huge reason for me deciding to add hardwood on nearly the entire main level.

Barf. I have never loved my Shop Vac as much as I did during our process. The most major thing (aside the kitchen) we decided to do ourselves (with the help from a few family and friends) was install the hardwood floors. It saved us $20K. The home had some original oak that was in BAD shape (shocking, I know). We worked our butts off to save and restore it. I'll go into the floor process more at a later point, but for now, know it was the worst thing we've done to date. I adore construction and doing things myself, but this was rough. We had to feather in the new with the old, install the new wood, add shivs to fill gaps, use wood fill on the entire floor, sand, stain, and poly. This process alone took us 3 weeks.

While the process was exhausting, it was totally worth it. It's gorgeous. Glorious.

Then it was onto bathroom flooring, and the kitchen. The kitchen was shockingly easy to build and install. It was a solid 3 day process, but for $5K, you can't beat it! The previous kitchen had a tiny island and no stage (no pantry, people). We added a 6 ft island and tall cabinets creating lots of storage. 

The before and after is always good to see. All of our work, coming to fruition.

While this entire process (we also redid 2 of the bathroom floors), took us about 9 weeks. Oh, and there was that pesky flood (I'll talk more about that later). But after 9 weeks we were able to move in. It was 3 weeks more than we expected, but hey....that's not bad.

Oh, and our countertops are dreamy.

Our list is still SO LONG. But it's now very livable, and lovely. More to come on all of our DIYs, oh and that freaking flood.......