"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


He did it!! Jaden had his first morning of preschool today, and he did such a good job. He was shy when we arrived to the building, but he hung up his school bag, went to the bathroom, and got in line with the other kids while waiting for the teacher to lead them back to their classroom. I took the morning off from work so that I could take him out for a little breakfast and then be the one to drop him off and pick him up.

He was excited to show me that he was starting "three year old" preschool today. :)

At the last minute, Cody was able to meet us at the preschool to watch Jaden join his class. We got Jaden a special UNI bag for his school bag... the teacher requested not using typical back packs because at the age of three, the kids get frustrated when zippers get stuck, etc. She said it's much easier to have a bag just like the one we found at HyVee for a DOLLAR. ;)

It was so funny to see all of these young children try to form a line next to the wall while parents took pictures and shot video. Jaden stayed there so patiently, and only walked away from the line once to give me a last minute hug and kiss. He has more boys in his class than girls... which is perfectly fine with me! Can't wait to see and hear about what he learns over the next several months! As Cody and I walked back to our cars, the idea finally hit him that we will be having "first days of school" for several several years now! And I love it!

When I picked him up at 11:30, they had all the kids running around in the big gym chasing each other. At one point, Jaden tripped and another little boy walked over to him, bent over and patted Jaden on the head to make sure he was okay. He is going to have so much fun making new friends. Jaden then told me on the car ride to daycare that he wanted to go back to preschool! He loved it. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Nights

July was hot and tough. But August has proven to be almost perfect. And so we have been soaking up every last bit of summer. It's true that I've been counting down the days to Fall. I'm anxious to put out my fall decor, buy harvest candles and carve pumpkins. I'm ready to come home from work, throw on a sweatshirt and enjoy cozy evenings with two little boys in jackets... taking walks as we watch the sun set a little bit earlier every night.

But... for now... we have a great nightly routine going on. Come home from work/daycare, grab a light snack while we prepare dinner, eat our supper... and then outside we go. In fact, the minute Brandon gets down from his booster seat at the table, he makes a dash for our back door and tries to turn the door knob by himself. He knows what's next.

We have an assortment of outdoor activities that the boys enjoy every night in our own backyard. But to start off, Brandon usually just likes to run around and explore. To see what bugs he can find and what birds are flying above him in the sky. His little personality just blossoms more every single day. Sometimes I think I literally squeeze him too tight when I give him hugs. I can't get enough.

(The picture of him holding his hand up is his way of asking for the camera.) ;)

Brandon tries to copy his big brother. He's figured out the t-ball set, and though he can't hit the ball very far (he has no idea how to hold the bat correctly), he likes to place the ball on the T, tap the ball with the bat... and repeat the process a few times -- often clapping for himself when he's done.

Jaden is loving his motorized John Deere tractor. It has two speeds - medium and fast - and can be put in reverse. He is turning into quite the skilled tractor operator. While he used to just drive it forward and in circles, he now likes to challenge himself by putting it in reverse and trying out different driving patters. He does refuse to use the fast speed... but I'm sure that's the only speed Brandon will want it on when he's old enough to take it for a spin. Jaden also really likes his bike, and plans are in place to get him a "big boy" bike by next summer.

The kids also enjoy climbing on their slide/fort, playing in the sandbox, pushing their mower around (a toy they often fight over), playing with chalk and swinging. There is nothing better than a tree swing. Brandon enjoys it, but for some reason only Mommy is allowed to push him. If anyone else tries to push him... whether it be Jaden, Daddy... or even Papa - he gets angry. He's a goofy one.

Most evenings are ended with a walk around the neighborhood. The UNI quarterbacks coach lives nearby, so Jaden often mentions walking to the house where the "UNI football coaches live!"

These two boys are so much fun, and I am a very lucky Mama.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Preschool Orientation

Last night Cody and I attended Jaden's preschool orientation... a gathering of parents put together by his teacher/leaders to provide us with a quick 45 minutes worth of information for the upcoming year. And if last night is any indication... I am going to be an absolute mess on his first day of kindergarten.

Jaden will be attending preschool this first year on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:45-11:30. Next year he will switch to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. So... we ease into the school routine this year. I'm starting to think the easing into it is more for my benefit than for his. I'm not sure I'm ready to send my first born off into this next journey of his young life. Last night we were given a packet of information. As Cody and I sat down waiting for the orientation to start, I opened up the first page to find an alphabet worksheet depicting the correct way in which to write each upper and lower case letter. I immediately got teary-eyed. Cody looked at me like I was nuts. The teacher, Mrs. W, spoke of field trips, progress reports, Christmas programs and class pictures. Class pictures?? But... it was just yesterday that we were scheduling his one-year pictures.

Then we went to see the new preschool classroom - they moved rooms around over the summer so we were shown the newly arranged room 145. I looked around at the books, different play stations, numbers, letters and children's names on the walls. And I got teary-eyed again. Cody said, "Nicole, this is just the natural progression of life." I guess so... but it came on way too quickly.

So here we go. Between Jaden and Brandon, the next four years will be spent at Blessed Beginnings Preschool open houses, Christmas programs, parent-teacher conferences and field trips. The next 17-18 years will be spent helping with homework, volunteering to help in classrooms and providing class treats for "Fall Parties." I'm so excited for you, Jaden. I know you'll do great. As you often say, "You totally rock!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Congratulations Matt and Annalisa!

This weekend my best friend from high school - Annalisa - got married in Cedar Falls. It was a really fun wedding, and I had the chance to sit at the same table with some other really good friends from high school, too. We spent a couple of hours reliving the best memories we have from our time together. Annalisa went to college at Iowa and then moved out to Colorado so even though we have stayed in touch, we rarely see each other. It was so nice to see her again - and I admit to shedding a few quiet tears as I watched her walk down the aisle! We had a lot of fun together "back in the day." She is such a good person, was such a good friend to me... and we never failed to make each other laugh over the silliest inside jokes that no one else could understand!

Congratulations Matt and Annalisa -- our family wishes you nothing but the best!! Thanks for including us in your special day. :)

And one other photo collage...

About a week ago, Brandon initiated a wrestling match with Jaden. These two LOVE to wrestle!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Calling on Faith...

Cody and I couldn't possibly have more on our minds right now. We are awaiting more results of medical tests that were performed on Cody yesterday because his health is still not good. My job is literally "on hold" as a major transition is being discussed that could have a great outcome for our family and myself... or no new outcome at all. We have started receiving medical bills from all that Cody has been through, and we feel as though the "get out of debt" plan we put together with a financial advisor just a month before his hospital stay has now been blown to smithereens. And there are times where I feel like our family life is always in the hands of outsiders - we are always waiting on other people before we can progress forward in our daily lives. Waiting to hear from doctors/surgeons/specialists, waiting to hear from employers, waiting for the next bill to arrive in the mail. I have always said I'm not one to possess much patience - for anything. Isn't it ironic that this is the one thing that God seems to be testing me on the most lately?

And this morning, I didn't do a good job of masking all my frustrations. There are days where I feel okay though all of this... knowing it's really not "outsiders" that have our fate in their hands -- but God Himself. Only He can heal Cody - not the doctors. Only He can open doors that will help me to provide better for my family. Only He can provide for us on a daily basis what we will need to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. But this morning... I felt stuck in a rut of never-ending doctor's visits, never-ending hours sitting at work wondering when I'm going to hear the news I so desperately want to hear... knowing I might not get the news I'm hoping for. And this heat is making me feel like a baked potato without butter and salt; hot with no personality.

So I searched for something to set me at ease... something to snap me out of my funk... something to make me see the light at the end of the tunnel again. Even though I don't really know when this tunnel we're in is going to come to an end. And here's what I found.

How God Uses Suffering

“If God loves us, cares for us, and wants the best for us, why does He allow all this suffering that goes on in the world? He could stop it if He wanted to. But somehow, He doesn’t seem to want to. What we don’t realize is that sometimes when nothing appears to be happening, God is patiently doing His awesome work.”

Reasons God allows Suffering:

1. To get our attention.  Sometimes God wants to get our attention to look to Him and pay attention to that which is important to God.
2. To develop righteousness and maturity in us. God may be in the process of building maturity in us and by allowing certain events to happen to us. He knows we’ll “grow up” and become more mature in the process.
3. To prune us. (See: John 15:1-2.) “He removes attitudes and habits that are harmful to our fruitfulness.” The whole pruning process is used by God to cut back useless things in our life to maximize our potential as Believers. He sees attitudes in our lives that don’t belong there. He prunes off what shouldn’t be there. God can’t stand stuff in our lives that cloud our vision of Him.
4. To teach us obedience. (See: Hebrews 12:5.) “Sometimes people suffer because of their own disobedience.” When we become disobedient we can expect some kind of suffering.
5. To teach us to trust Him. (See: 1 Peter 1:7.) “He tests our faith in order to strengthen it.”
6. To teach us to depend continually on His grace and goodness. 2 Corinthians 12 tells us that when we are weak, we are strong. If we want God to use us, suffering is going to be a part of our life. God uses it to teach us so we will gain wisdom. “Suffering in life and being used by God are inseparable.”
7. To manifest Christ’s life and character in us. It’s to help us to be living examples of God’s character. And God’s character shines forth in us through times of sanding, sifting and pruning. Whatever the form of suffering we encounter, there is a Divine purpose involved. “When someone meets us, they will meet the Son of God in us.”
8. To purify our hearts. A pure heart is a righteous heart—which is the will of God for us. Purity and God’s power go together. “There is no power in your ministry unless you are pure.” Keep in mind that all suffering is not a result of sin. God has a purpose in allowing suffering in our lives.
9. So we can share in the holiness of Christ. (See Hebrews 12:10.)
10. To teach us to give thanks in everything. (See: 1 Thessalonians 5:18.) “You don’t have to feel thankful to express gratitude that God is going to bring something good out of your experience.”
11. To develop character and perseverance. (See: Romans 5:1-5.)
12. To enable us to share in the sufferings of Christ. (See: Philippians 3:10.)
13. To prevent pride in our life. (See: 2 Corinthians 12:9.)
14. To broaden our ministry. (See: Philippians 1:12-13.) An example of this would be: “Going through an experience of suffering and loneliness that extended His influence.”
15. To reveal the evil nature of mankind and the righteous judgment of God. (See: 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 2.) In this chapter it says, “The wicked will be judged.”

(All of the above was found at Marriage Missions International - I have to give credit where credit is due).

I'm sure this is a blog entry I will return to and read again when I need a reminder... and I thought someone else out there might need a gentle reminder, too.

So... while we wait... we look forward to what's ahead. Good friends' weddings, football kickoff one month from today, a let down from the heat that seems to be in the works, Jaden's first day of preschool. Our calendar is filling up fast -- a common occurrence for us every year as fall approaches. We're also planning a February, 2013 trip to Disney World. Something that seems so far away now... but I'm allowing myself to focus on the "Magic." We'll be okay. And we'll keep you posted.