Giving Thanks (inspired by)

Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

To Peter, on your fifth birthday…

You’re a little young for kindergarten so “they” say, but we sent you early.  Being the youngest of six, you’ve never been one to let “them” tell you what you are too young to do- you have proved your siblings wrong, and even your mama wrong, more times than I can count.

When you went to kindergarten, the big kids had told you (more than once) many of the hilarious jokes that Mrs. Barnett usually tells. After your first week, she said to us, “I just can’t get that kid to laugh!” I can just see you, looking at her with your half eye-roll, your skeptical face. You use this face all the time at home- when we tell you a dragon stole your socks, or that daddy ate all the cookies, or that we are having frosted dog food for dessert, or that you can’t call me mommy any more- only Emiliah on Fiah. You get teased in this family so much- have we made you into a cynic already!?

You are the one Cook kid who is more than happy to sleep in a bed or even in a room ALL by your OWN self.  The older kids think this is rather odd, and maybe even a little brave.

You are always asking me, “What do apples do for your body?” and “Will this banana make me run fast?” and “Is pizza good for your body?” You actually seem to care about the answer- we google things when mom doesn’t even know.  Perhaps you are a future doctor or nutritionist?

Every now and then you like to pretend to be “little,” but not a little boy; a baby mountain lion.  You crawl around on all fours while work around the house. You intimidate Oliver and Snowflake: mere cats ought to be frightened of a lion!

You moved on from your love of chickens, but then you had a serious obsession with Canadian geese. In fact, this spring you insisted on having a “goose birthday!”  A goose birthday? Pretty sure not even pinterest can help me there. I envisioned some sort of craft with feathers, and then perhaps leaving tootsie roll treats all over the yard as party favors… ??? I am thankful that your interest changed to ninja turtles by the time of your birthday! (You also love minions, and the girls in your kindergarten class, especially Ellie and Eliza, but that's another topic.)

One of my favorite things to do with you on your no-school days is take a walk down to the pond. You love to walk slowly and look for bullfrogs. They make a weird squeaky noise when they are startled and jump into the pond, and every single time this happens, you are startled, you let out a big HA! guffaw, and you look at me to make sure I also saw that most amazing and hilarious event!  So shocking! So funny! Every! Single! Time!

Craft time is one of your favorite things ever. You will sit at the table with me for as long as I can take it. Our most recent project, minions for volleyball girls, now hangs proudly on the wall in the gym.  You faithfully glued on arms and feet, and you even drew some awesome hair and crazy mouths for me.  While we were making them, just you and me, on one of your stay-at-home days, you sighed and said “Mommy, I love this day.”  And later, we took a nap together, and you said you weren’t tired but you wrapped your arms around my neck and you were snoring in minutes. I loved that day, too.

I also love this one.
Peter, five years old.
Happy birthday, buddy.  May the Lord keep blessing and keep keeping you.

Love, Mom

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to school 2015

As you leave for school. This year is a big year for your mama, too, as I send ALL of you off on the first day. God, be our anchor!
For twelve and a half years I have had a preschooler, at least one little buddy at home with me all day every day. A season ends today.  Let me take a quick snapshot of each of you, your joys and your worries, right at this minute.

Lorraine:  You are venturing into big kid territory.  This year, you are excited for volleyball, Holiday World, and the year-end class trip to Chicago.  You are becoming a lovely, witty young woman.

Aggie: Your biggest concern: Finding pants to match your new shirt, the one from Mary Anne that says “I’m a green girl!”  Also, naps.  You bounced out of bed early today, but you can tell already that your bounce will not last all week without a little more sleep!  

Seth: You were worried about which kind of desk you’d get. Would it be one that stays up by itself, or one that falls down unless you use a pencil to prop it open? “Mom, if I get the kind that falls, I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep!” Relief came- you got a sticky desk. Phew!  I hope everything else is in order for you in your fourth grade classroom!

Marcus:  You can’t wait for PE, “I hope it’s the very first thing we do!” You have Poison Ivy this week. I teased you, saying maybe the dots on your face would turn PURPLE and you’d look like a monster for the first day of school, and you replied, “Sweet! I hope they do, then I can scare the girls!” I’m curious to see how you respond to the second grade assignment of daily journaling. Will you get to write about dragons and soldiers?

Eldon:  You were so excited about your new dinosaur folder, and when you got to school, you found that Sam had a dinosaur notebook! How EXCITING!  You’re excited to see all your friends, and so happy Miss Schneider is your teacher.

Peter:  Your first worry was about kindergarten shots, which for some reason (brothers) you thought would be given to you by your teacher on the first day of school. Once I dispelled that fear, you had nothing but excitement for school.  You trotted off with your minion backpack without a glance back. You feel like such a big kid that you told me, “Mom, pretty soon I’m going to need tie shoes.” Goodbye, velcro, goodbye preschool days!

Take my children and all children into your loving hands as they begin a new school year.  Guard them from danger, bless them with good friends and kind teachers; grant them bodies full of health, and minds full of wonder and joy in learning.  As they outgrow their motherly seatbelts, grow them up in You, that your grace may be the air they breathe and the cool water in which they swim each day.  

Father, take this mother, and all mothers, into Your loving hands, too.  Grant us the grace to flex with the needs of our families, and the eyes to see your grace and blessings in each season of our lives.  Refresh us, Lord, and quench our thirst as we drink deeply from Your Word each day.  Be our anchor in the days of change, and fix our hearts where true joys are to be found: In Jesus, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

This is the day the Lord has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

shirt crush (girl crush parody by Tom Rozegnal)

A goodbye song for the old "homeless man shirts:"  

Tom Rozegnal encourages all of us to embrace change, 
and new shirts, 
in his song Shirt Crush
 (a parody of "girl crush.")

I’ve got a shirt crush     
Hate to admit it but
I love my old shirt         
but it’s got to go

It’s old and faded        
It’s holy and smells bad
I have to make a change  
And it’s makin me sad
It’s time to give it up     
I’m strong and I know I can
I have to let it go           
And act like a man

My kids think I’m getting strange  
My wife thinks I’m in a rut
Well with a new shirt     
They won’t think I’m a nut

I’ve got a shirt crush    
I’ve got a shirt crush
How can that old shirt    
make me so happy?
That’s why I’ve worn it   
for the last 20 years

My wife gets cranky    
Each time I wear it
She gets disgusted       
and she rolls her eyes

When my kids look at me   
I don’t know what they see
But That look on their face    
is bringin’ me down

Maybe if I could dress    
like someone refined and cool
They wouldn’t look at me    
like I’m a danged ole fool

I’ve got a shirt crush     
I’ve got a shirt crush

He even let us burn his holey old shirts!
What a way to celebrate the changing seasons!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

To Lorraine on her 12th birthday

Age 12

To Lorraine, on your twelfth birthday,

Is that even how you spell twelth? Twevlth? Twellth? I should ask you. You can edit my stuff now, thanks to your Shirley English lessons and your gift of writing.  And wow, you LOVE finding errors!

So lately, there have been these moments... moments when I look at you and you just... take my breath away. Because I can see: I can see the lovely young lady you are, the beautiful woman you are becoming.

I love that you're old enough to babysit, and understand my nerd jokes, and cook and bake and sew,
and yet you're still young enough to make a sled train, and a snow fort, and ride on the carousel.

Confession: I am finishing this birthday letter a little late this year. It's May. At least it's not your half birthday- not quite!

You continue to surprise me, girly. I cannot believe there was a time when I could hardly get you to read. You could do it, but you just didn't like it. And I thought, who is this girl? How could she have come from these parents?  But patience was all we needed, and now here you are in love with the books that speak to you. Your love for the Harry Potter series is even more than I can comprehend today- you actually woke up early- at 4:30 am!- just so you could keep reading! Nothing is even due, you just wanted to meet a self-imposed goal!  This makes me smile, even though it gives me extra work to do (now I have to catch up with you in book six- you just passed my bookmark!)

As you continue to grow and bloom, May God continue to grow and nurture those gifts He's given you.  He is wiser even than Dumbledore, and I hope you know that you are loved and cared-for by Him and all of those around you.

In the years to come, I wish you:
A love of books, like Hermione and Klaus
Violet Baudelaire's way of getting out of tight spaces by using her brain
Someone small and sweet, like Sunny, to love and snuggle
The gentle spirit of Anthea, caring for her little "Lamb," and her tender conscience
Friends like Fred and George to give you the best laughs
A chance to fly, if not on a broomstick, then perhaps a plane
A grandmotherly figure in your life, watching over you, and curbing your frivolity, like Mrs. McGonagall, especially when you leave this house!

Like Mrs. Weasley, I will worry for you, mother you, and feed you, as long as we both shall live.

I love you, my dear Lorraine!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

sweet songs for grandparents, and more

Aggie's creative juices were flowing last week! Here are some sweet songs she sang for her grandparents. (I helped with the lyrics a little.)

For Grammy and Bump:

For Nana and Bump:

Here's Marcus's version of a sweet song...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mommy joy and melancholy, in stereo (a preschool day)

A glimpse of Eldon and Peter, on an idillyc spring preschool day.
Today, we had to flea bomb the house (ugh!) so we hurried around and left early this morning, about 15 min after the big kids went to school I had to shut you out and actually lock the doors so you wouldn’t come in while I was setting off bombs. You two are SO NUTS when you are together these days, i feel like I do a LOT of talking with nobody actually hearing me.  When I came outside you were disappointed to know I had already set off the “bombs” and there were no actual explosions.
First, we went to “the climbing place” (The Commons), and since it was 830am, we were the only ones there!  It was wonderful! You two hooted and hollered and spun each other on the spinny thing while I ate Subway and drank coffee. (I forgot to eat before we left!) Of course, the sight of my food made you SO HUNGRY YOU JUST DIDN’T KNOW HOW YOU’D EVER MAKE IT, so I bought you each some nice soft cookies from Subway. You boys marched in with your dollars, cut in line, and demanded the “black cookies” while a line full of people waited patiently and smiled at you both and your crazy little-boy energy.
Next, I took you to FFY for open gym time (the gymnastics center, with the trampoline and the foam pit and whatnot.) Alas, mama misread the internet (could it have been because a hoard of kids were talking to me while I tried?) and it was closed. Shoulders slumped, pouty lips came out, and you both cast longing looks at the dark room where you thought you’d be playing. You grief lasted an entire thirty seconds, when I said “How about we go to Mill Race park?” and you both cheered and ran to the car.
The weather was lovely today. It was the kind of day where we had sweater-jackets, and we’d snuggle in the wind, only to take them off moments later when we were too hot, only to put them back on again when the wind blew again. Spring is happening everywhere, and I love finding it with you boys.
We hiked all the way down the trail so we could go on the blue bridge, then later, across the tracks to the red bridge. On the way we got to watch an entire tree float down the river.  We raced it and, with much effort, beat it to the blue bridge so we could watch it from above. On the way back, we climbed the tower (Peter was quite nervous! I had to carry him back down- I think it is extra scary that you can see through the holes in the floor!)
We walked across a huge field on the way to the playground, and there, my favorite trees: Sprawling, climbing trees, with limbs low to the ground, perfect for little ones (and old mamas!)  Eldon saw them and yelled, “Look at those trees! I want to climb on them!” and Peter yelled, “I want to pee on them!” You did both. Mission complete.
Next, the playground, and then we walked to the pond with the fountain. You two were delighted to see the ducks, and better yet, they were friendly! They kept coming up to you, probably hoping you had bread.  But we had no bread, and poor Peter’s heart began to ache about this. “Next time we weally weed to bwing bwead for the ducks mom,” he said about ten times.   Soon after, we saw a huge “turtle party” on a log in the water- at least 20 turtles, babies and big ones, rested in the sun.  After that, we discovered a beautiful patch of blue flowers (probably weeds, but they were lovely); a really cool dead lizard, a tunnel covered with wives, and a flock of canadian geese. “Mom, I really want to have a goose birthday party when it’s my birthday!” Peter, you have said that to me at least 20 times in the past month.  Last fall, you were obsessed with chickens, but now, geese. What is it about fowl that you love so much?!
It was such a lovely day you boys talked me into skipping your naps.   I opted for a Walgreens lunch, thinking it couldn’t be any worse than MCDonalds, and hoping to find some cheap bread there for us and the ducks. We did, and also clearance Easter candy! Score! Eldon chose a huge chocolate easter egg, and Peter, a bag of jelly beans “because Eldon, yours will go too quick, but I’ll suck on mine and they will wast wonger.” (last longer.) That’s quite a bit of wisdom from a child who can’t quite pronounce the “l” sound yet!
We learned that canadian geese have no taste for white bread. We had to hunt for the ducks in two different ponds before we found them.  The park was slightly flooded, so we had to stand in the grass and throw the bread over the sidewalk and then into the pond. It was quite a challenge. It was so fun for me to watch you two sharing throwing strategies. “Peter, you have to spin around first like this.” (peter spins, drops the bread at his feet, falls.)  “Eldon no you have to jump like this!” “Mommy look I did it!” Those 2 ducks ate about 6 hot dog buns that day!
What a lovely morning with my preschoolers!  I am so glad we got OUT to the park. It is much easier for me to relax and just BE with you kids when I am not at home with all the undone jobs yelling at me. And it is hitting me lately, how very quickly these preschool years have gone. White Creek has been the perfect place to raise up four preschool boys (girls, you were only pre-school here for a very short time as we moved here in 2008!)  There was a time when I thought I would be home with little boys FOR EV ER and wasn’t sure we’d survive, but look where we are now! Almost at the finish line!  I’m not sure I’m altogether happy about this!
All day I had the song “Landslide” in my head because it so matched my move. “Oh I’ve been afraid of changes, cuz I built my life around you. but time makes you bolder, children get older, I’m getting older too.” And the crazy thing is- we went to Menards to buy some green bean seeds for you to plant in the garden, and there at the checkout, where you boys are sitting side by side in one of those “car” carts, that VERY SONG came on the speakers at Menards! Mommy melancholy in stereo! It made me laugh though, and gave me that last burst of energy to drive you like a wild woman in your cart-car all the way through the parking lot.
Love you, little boys!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Eldon's sixth birthday


Where did my little boy with the blankie go? And the finger sucking? Suddenly you are a big kid, a SCHOOL kid, and you are thriving in kindergarten. Last week Mrs. Finke brought eggs to school to incubate in your classroom- you will get to see them hatch! When dad asked if YOU had to take a turn sitting on them you rolled your eyes and shook your head and just said, “Dad. Seriously.” (sounds more like ‘sewiouswy.’)

Mickey Mouse is no longer your best friend- now, you are all about dinosaurs. We had an all-boy dinosaur party for your birthday.  It included mud, a rock pile, nerf guns, milkshakes, dinosaur tails, and even dancing (open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk that dinosaur!)  You got a remote control car for your birthday, and just a minute ago your plastic dinosaur was taking it for a spin down the hallway!

I love how excited you are about school right now. It doesn't matter what’s going on after school, even if I have my hands in soapy dishwater, or if I’m teaching a class with adults, you HAVE to run right to me, open your bag, and show me your papers one by one the minute you walk in the door. Then, of course, it’s “what’s for snack?”

I love the way you yell out “SKUS-TING!” like when you found that huge dead frog in our basement or when copper brought the dead raccoon on the porch or whenever you see Peter in his underwear (daily).

I also love the way you sneak in the snuggles whenever you can… like in the morning, when I don’t get out of bed right away, you get dressed as fast as you can and then climb in next to me.  Or when I’m sitting on the swing; you’re usually the first one to come away from whatever fun action is happening with the big kids (trampoline, baseball, rock pile, whatever) and you curl up next to me and put my arm around you.

You are so excited to be six! I can tell you feel much older than Peter, who is currently four (“and a half, Eldon! I’m four and A HALF!”)  Welcome to the world of big-kids, Eldon! But my arms are still open for you whenever you need them.

Thanking God for six years with you Eldon!  Happy Birthday!
Love, mom

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

fun in Brown County!

We had a nice little mini getaway to Brown County State Park!
A two mile hike, 
tons of swimming,
a little frog,
lots of "spoons"
and storytimes
beautiful weather,
and a cozy family cabin!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I slept in today, and the kids, they did play
games on the wii and the ipad.
And nothing's been done, and they're still having fun,
but the mom guilt is getting quite bad.

I hear those two brothers making more piles of clutter
And I know they'll need picking up after
Nerf bullets are flying... but nobody's crying,
so far, all I hear is their laughter.

Piano, and chores, and just look at these floors
There's so much round here to be done!
Does it matter, really? Or would I just be silly
to stop them from having such fun?

Drinking coffee, just me, letting kiddos run free,
it's sure to erupt in violence.
But nothing's gone wrong! They're just.. getting along!
To me, this is better than silence.

(Lazy morning 3/5/15)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

valentines :)

I forgot to take many pictures, but at least I got this one!
It makes my heart so happy!!!