November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving

The November 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge:  I posted these on Facebook each day in November.  (OK, so I missed a day here and there and doubled up now and then, but overall, I made it all 30 days!)  I wanted to record them all in one place.

Day 1:  I am thankful for my God who never forsakes me.

Day 2:  I am thankful for God's powerful, sustaining Word.

Day 3: I am thankful for the most amazing, thoughtful, wonderful husband I could ever have dreamed of. I love you, Ted Jacobson!

Day 4: Not only am I thankful for Ted (day 3), but I am especially thankful for his godly leadership in our home and his faithful commitment to Jesus. "Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" Proverbs 20:6

Day 5: I am thankful for my sweet firstborn girl, Charis, whose tender heart and unselfish spirit continually amaze and inspire me. I am thankful that we can share so many things together through a mutual love of cooking, reading, writing, stamping, and fussing over babies. :-)

Day 6: I am thankful for my firstborn son, Tobin, whose wit keeps me laughing even when I'm in a bad mood; whose intellectual curiosity keeps me on my toes; and whose ability to spin a tale keeps me on my knees!

Day 7: I am thankful for my sweet, gentle Arden, whose tender spirit touches my heart even as his boundless energy drives me crazy! I love his heart for other people and the way he prays for the nations to know Jesus. I love how he still adores his 22 stuffed animals yet wants to be a football player when he grows up. :-)

Day 8: I am thankful for my joyful, bouncing Kenna, whose squeals of delight over every little thing make life so much brighter. I am thankful for her willing obedience (most of the time!) and her tender care for her baby brothers as well as for her feisty spirit and stubborn streak that indicate a determined, purposeful drive to achieve her goals!

Day 9: I am thankful for my loveable little Lucan, who is (so far) the easiest 2-year-old I've ever had! His smiles and cuddles, funny noises and silly antics, tuneless little songs and Muppet-armed runs make our whole family smile with delight.

Day 10: I'm thankful for my bright-eyed baby Zaden! I'm thankful that he is a happy, healthy baby and that I am exclusively nursing him--not something I take for granted after his first month! I'm thankful that he is such an "easy" baby and that he sleeps pretty well most nights. And I'm thankful that he'll get to meet his daddy in just over 2 more months.

Day 11: I am thankful for Skype and the internet, which allows me to keep in touch with my veteran reasonably well--just not this week. :-) But even more, I'm thankful for the freedoms and comforts we enjoy in this country. It's not a perfect place, but people, we need to realize what we've got!

Day 12: I am so thankful for the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ. I have always loved my local church wherever it has been, but I am especially thankful for Faircreek Church and the many brothers and sisters in Christ who are helping to carry our family through this deployment. As a military family who has never been able to live close to our blood relatives, we are extra grateful for the church family.

Day 13: I am so very thankful for the godly heritage I have. I can never thank Mom and Dad enough for how they have poured out their lives like a drink offering to the Lord--and as a result, I have a strong, unwavering faith in our God and an unquenchable thirst for His Word. Their example, even more than their words, taught me what it means to live for Him. Thank you, John and Irene Keist! I love you both more than words can say!

Day 14: I am thankful that Zaden is now sleeping through the night! Five nights in a row he has slept until I've awakened him!

Day 15: I am thankful for many, many godly friends that have touched my life over the years. From growing up in Texas (Reinhardt Bible Church, Garland Christian Academy) to graduating in Wisconsin (Faith Christian School), from attending Cedarville University in Ohio to marrying an Air Force man and living in San Angelo, Mountain Home, Dayton, D.C., Las Vegas, and back to Dayton--God has provided amazing friends along the way who not only make life fun but also spur me on to a closer walk with Jesus. I love you all!

Day 16: I am thankful, on this C-O-L-D night, for our warm house. And hoodies. And flannel pants. And fuzzy blankets.

Day 17: I am thankful for MUSIC! I am thankful my parents gave me the gift of piano lessons starting at age 7 and that I can sit down and play songs with various praise teams at the churches God leads us to. I am thankful for the love my kids have for piano lessons and for their sweet teacher, who comes to our house Thursday mornings for their lessons. I am thankful that I met my husband in a mosh pit at the Cornerstone Music Festival. And I am thankful that Ted has received blessing and encouragement from being part of the praise team at Kandahar!

Day 18: I am so thankful for my wonderful mother-in-law! I love her so much and am thankful that we have a good relationship. I honor her for the wonderful job she did in raising her sons Ted and Joel Jacobson. I'm thankful that she will get to spend the whole week of Thanksgiving with us in Ohio! The one regret is that Dad Jacobson can only be with us in our hearts, as he is home in heaven now. I am thankful for the time I did get to spend with him on earth...even if it was too short.

Day 19: I am thankful for good food. We never lack for good things to eat, though many folks don't know where their next meal is coming from. Our food journey this year has taught our family how to eat real and healthy food, and I'm thankful for what we've learned. I'm thankful for the many creative foods God put on the earth and for the creativity people show in putting recipes together. And finally, I'm especially thankful for chocolate. :-D

Day 20: I am thankful for rest. Sunday afternoon naps = a happier mommy. God definitely had a great idea with that rest-one-day-a-week command.

Day 21: I'm thankful that my family is healthy. Yes, Charis is coughing this week, and Kenna has a little sniffle. The boys deal with allergies, and I've had a few blocked milk duct issues. But overall, we are all blessed with good health...not something to take for granted. Thank you, Lord!

Day 22: Today, my 37th birthday, I am thankful for many things: my relaxing massage this morning; a yummy lunch during which I did not have to get up ONCE to help a small person with something; uninterrupted time to think and enjoy the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute; and the honor of reading so many well wishes from dear friends on my wall. Wow! I am so blessed!

Day 23: I am so thankful that this deployment is HALFWAY OVER!!! 6 months down, 6 to go!

Day 24: I am thankful for all that God is teaching me about Himself this year.

Day 25: I am thankful for sunny days! I know my mood shouldn't match the weather, but it often I'm thankful for cheery sunshine. When one lives in Ohio, bright days can't be taken for granted!

Day 26: I am thankful for our house. God always provides the perfect home for us wherever He puts us, and this one is perfect for our family at this season of life. I'm excited to see where He will take us next!

Day 27 : I am thankful for...never thought I'd say this...our TV. Kids playing Wii = a decent nap for Mom. Boys watching football = Mom making dinner in peace. Cuddling on the couch and watching The Amazing Race with the older kids = special time with them. We try to limit screen time, but I have to confess I'm thankful for the electronic babysitter on many occasions!!

Day 28: I am thankful for my chiropractor. Our family enjoys much better health (especially during the winter), and my back issues are pretty much non-existent these days thanks to Dr. Peltier!

Day 29: I am thankful for the ability to read and for the passion many of my loved ones have for reading. I don't get to enjoy my own selection of books nearly as often as I would like, but reading with little ones is a joy of its own. I'm grateful that our children all enjoy books and learning.

Day 30:  It seems appropriate to begin and end this list with spiritual blessings, so on this final day of November, I am thankful beyond words for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who alone is worthy of all my praise, worship, energy, time, and resources.

November 25, 2011


We had a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving Day.  As I blogged earlier, we didn't have our big meal until the evening, so we had plenty of time to relax and leisurely work on the menu for the evening.  We had done a few things the day before, too, so that helped.  One of my favorite parts of the day was working on our Thanksgiving posters together in the afternoon while the little boys napped.  Even Grandma and I made posters!

Here are a few pics from the day.  To view the whole album, go here.

Christine holds a wide-eyed Zaden.

Lucan and Ian play a duet!

The whole family--almost!  Flat Daddy just isn't the same!

The Blessing Tree

Kenna's thankfulness poster--she did it all by herself!  The letters she wrote aren't completely random; they spell out the names of her friends, and she had to creatively space things to fit everything in.

Charis was playing a game when I was taking pictures of the posters, and since she had put hers by Flat Daddy, I just took a picture of him holding it. :-)

Colin munches a turkey leg and watches the Bananagrams frenzy.

Birthday Lunch

Not knowing that my friend Jen was plotting a surprise birthday party for me, I planned my own birthday lunch at The Cheesecake Factory!  Ha!  Well, you can never have too much cheesecake, right?!  Funny that Jen made me a chocolate cheesecake for the birthday dinner she made for us!  Rhonda and I ordered the pumpkin pecan and pineapple upside-down cheesecakes and split them.  They were both heavenly!  So was the complimentary coffee!  But even better was sharing time with Mom, Stefanie, Chris, and Eilene.  Below are a few pictures Chris took; to see more, you can view her Facebook album here.

Catching Up

Oh, my!  It's been a little while since I blogged.  This week we had the privilege of having Rhonda here for Thanksgiving.  Now that she's on her way back to Denver, I'm sitting here wondering where in the world the week went!  Why can't all the weeks Ted is deployed go this quickly?!  I'll type out some highlights from the last week or so, and then I'll do separate posts with pictures...assuming I have the time and energy to finish this little project!

We did a minimal amount of schoolwork and instead focused on a couple of service projects.  We took a meal to some friends and went shopping for Operation Christmas Child boxes.  Last year we purchased a little bit at a time and were able to do a LOT of boxes.  This year, we did it all in one fell swoop and managed to pack 5 boxes for the same ages/genders of our older 5 kids.  I chose the dollar spot at Target for this adventure--we got everything we needed there, for the most part, and it was much easier to keep tabs on everyone than if we had gone to the dollar store!

That night I went out.  I knew only that my friend Jen had arranged for her husband to bring her two kids to my house and babysit all of the children (minus Zaden) and that was I supposed to meet her at her house.  Well, since I saw Stefanie's minivan in the driveway when I pulled up to the H's house, I figured something was up!  Sure enough, it was a surprise birthday party, and it was quite a treat.  Jen fixed a delicious 5-course meal for us which included homemade chocolate cheesecake for dessert.  Oh, my!  Everything was wonderful, and best of all was getting to relax and visit with friends.  I felt so honored and blessed.

Charis had play rehearsal, and we did laundry and cleaned house preparing for Grandma J's arrival!  Her flight arrived in the middle of the afternoon, so we were able to enjoy dinner and the evening together.  I may have even gotten a nap before dinner...I can't remember!

We attended both services at church, and then I took a nap in the afternoon before we ate dinner and headed back to church for a special Thanksgiving service.

We got to Skype with Ted in the morning, which was an extra special treat since he doesn't get to Skype with his mom.  Later, Rhonda and I went out with some of my neighbor friends to The Cheesecake Factory for my birthday lunch!  Jessica C babysat the kids.  We took Zaden along and he did great!  Good food, great friends...lots of fun! 

My actual birthday!  Rhonda got me a one-hour massage for my gift, so after Skyping a bit with Ted, I headed out (right after a feeding!) to enjoy some alone time.  I was gone for about 6 hours--WOW!  Six hours with no kids!  I must say, I never thought I'd WANT to be alone for my birthday, but considering the circumstances, I can honestly say it was heavenly!  The massage was wonderful, and then I enjoyed lunch by myself and started a letter to Ted, a luxury of time that is rarely afforded these days.  Then I drove to the Dayton Art Institute (and pumped in the parking lot!) and enjoyed seeing the Norman Rockwell exhibit.  Oh!  It was so wonderful!  I'm so glad I went and did that.  Then I picked up Chick-Fil-A (courtesy of Rhonda) to bring home for dinner.  Rhonda took Charis and Kenna to the theater for Charis's dress rehearsal, so Rhonda and Kenna got to watch the show.  Meanwhile, the boys had their karate class in our basement!  If we can get a few more boys interested in joining, Sensei Steve R. says we can hold the classes at our house, which is fine with me!

Grandma and Charis got some girl time this day.  Charis had been saving her Michael's gift card to use when Grandma came, since Rhonda is the one who got it for her for her 11th birthday.  They shopped and then went out for lunch together.  I worked just a little bit on some Thanksgiving Day preparations, and then after the girls got back, I went out to get my hair cut (just a trim) and buy some groceries at Kroger.  I know, what was I thinking?!  We had most everything we needed for the dinner, but I did need to get a few items, and it's always nice to go shopping without kids in tow.  After dinner we watched It's a Wonderful Life with some real stove-top popped corn!

What a fun, relaxing day!  Rhonda and I worked together on the food stuff off and on.  We enjoyed spending time with the kids...watched the parade a little, made Thanksgiving posters like we did last year, and finally got ready for our big meal in the evening.  We hosted 3 college kids from our Resolve to Read Sunday school class, and it was so fun to watch them interacting and playing with our kids.  Colin, Ian, and Christine were just as silly with our kids as Ted would have been if he had been here--I think he would have been proud of some of the jokes and puns that came out!  We added some leaves to our Blessing Tree and played games.  And of course we enjoyed a full meal:  turkey, make-ahead mashed potatoes, squash bake, green bean casserole, dressing, Waldorf salad, homemade orange-cranberry sauce (courtesy of Eilene), and rolls.  We enjoyed chocolate-pecan pie for dessert with hot tea. 

Today was a little bittersweet.  It was normal as far as doing laundry, getting things cleaned up, etc.  I made a run to Trader Joe's and Meijers (kidless again!), but then we had to take Rhonda to the airport in the afternoon.  I honestly cannot believe it's been a whole week!  I can only pray that the coming weeks will fly by as well.  I am not entirely sure what we're doing for Christmas, but I hope it's as fun and full of blessings as this Thanksgiving was.

November 15, 2011

Lucan Tidbits

  • Praying with Lucan before his breakfast:  "Dear God, thank you for Lucan and for his oatmeal."  Lucan says, "You're welcome."

  • For unknown reasons, Lucan doesn't usually care to have the lights on in the family room.  In fact, he often demands that they be OFF.  Now that he can reach the light switch on his own, this can be tiresome, particularly for the siblings who are trying to read.

  • Likewise, for reasons known only to himself, it is not acceptable for the windows to be OPEN, even if we have a beautifully warm day and want some fresh air.  With much screeching and loud protesting, Lucan will drag the footstool to the windows in order to reach the windows, pull them down, and close the curtains as if to say, "I said, WINDOWS DOWN!!"

  • When I'm reading a book to him, after he turns each page, Lucan says, "Mommy," as if to announce, "OK, the page is turned and you can keep reading now."

  • New favorite snack:  almonds.  He knows where I keep them and often tries to help himself.

  • Current sleeping location:  either the big boy bed or the crib, depending on whatever his whim is!  He can climb in and out of the crib, but he's been doing pretty well with napping nearly every day anyway.  He has slept in the twin bed a number of times, and I can't figure out any sort of pattern, so I've taken to just letting him decide where he wants to be--BUT, we don't go back and forth!  I'm not playing THAT game, not with 12 stuffed animals, two blankets, and a ginormous pillow to shuffle back and forth!

  • Still repeating everything we say in a monotone voice--very funny!

November 10, 2011

The Hardest Part of the Day

For those who pray for us, I thought I'd share an almost daily struggle so that when you think of us, particularly during this time of the day, you can pray more specifically.

First of all, let me say that there is no way on God's green earth that we would be coping as well as we are if it weren't for God's grace and the power of prayer!  I can really tell that people are lifting us up.  Things are never perfect, but amazingly, my attitude has mostly stayed positive, and I'd like to think I've grown up a little since our last deployment!  I have fewer pity parties, for example, but then again...that could be because I don't have time to even think, let alone throw a party that no one else is invited to, LOL!

That said, there are predictable times when I just want to turn in my military spouse badge and call it quits.  This is the after-dinner-before-bedtime Crappy Snappy Hour (I'll try to keep it as positive as I can while still being real, how about that?!).  This fun time happens on evenings when we don't have any other activities away from the house such as AWANA.  Dinner time is usually a reasonably pleasant affair.  We've been doing "Joy, Junk, Jesus" around the table, taking turns telling about a joy or highlight from the day, a "junk" (or low point) from the day, and a moment during the day that pointed us to Jesus.  I got this brilliant idea from my friend Megan, who maybe does it with her kids at bedtime--I couldn't remember.  But I was tired of having the kids eat and literally run away from the table.  Darn it, if I spend upwards of an hour preparing the food that you mow through without even tasting, you'll at LEAST sit at the table and talk to me while I enjoy what I've made!

Ahem.  Anyway.  After dinner is over, the "fun" begins.  It's definitely worse on evenings when the weather doesn't permit me to send the boys outside.  At any given moment, any or all of the following could be happening in this house:
  • I am on the couch, nursing Zaden.
  • Lucan is heaven knows where, dumping who knows what onto the floor.  When he finally passes close enough to the place where I am nursing Zaden, I catch a whiff of a different type of dumping.
  • Kenna is running around in her 26th outfit of the day, singing at the top of her lungs a song that only she knows.
  • Tobin and Arden are running cartoon-like throughout the house, i.e. in a puff ball of smoke, from which can only be seen various appendages and exclamation points.  As they tumble through the house, the decibel level rises with their grunts, shouts, guffaws, and/or cries of alarm or rage.
  • Charis, my dinner-cleaner-upper-helper, has disappeared to read or craft without doing her job.  Since she helps me in SO many ways, I try not to begrudge her alone time, but it IS frustrating that the one reliable offspring is nowhere to be seen in the midst of utter chaos.
  • The remains of dinner still need to be put away, and dirty dishes are pretty much on every horizontal surface of the kitchen.
  • The floor is covered with crumbs stuck to random spots of goo.  And we just mopped yesterday!
  • The phone rings.
  • Someone knocks at the door.
And when I said earlier that any or all of the following could be happening, I am NOT kidding--quite often ALL of those bullet points are happening AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!!

So you get the picture of the frustrating level of chaos going on.  Now add to that the fact that I most likely am functioning on sleep that happened from 10:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., with no nap in the afternoon.  Because I physically cannot do a whole lot during this time period--I'm either nursing/caring for Zaden or trying to reduce the kitchen's level of chaos--my tolerance for shenanigans and noise has increased.  A little.  Why add to the chaos by yelling?!  Oh, but I do.  Just not (so much) for noise.  Mostly for trying to stop an argument or to prevent something bad from happening.


It gets remotely close to someone's bedtime.  Then, the chaos MUST STOP.  I can't handle it anymore.  I am tired of stepping over random toys and books.  I am tired of walking into a different room and having my shoulders automatically slump because I'm so overwhelmed by the mess and disorganization.  I am tired of the bickering, the complaining, the tattling.  I am just tired of NOISE and MESS, and I want it to go away RIGHT NOW.

"Right now" to a grown-up = at least 45 minutes to a kid.  Multiply that by 5 mobile children, and that is approximately how long it seems to take us to get the house and kids clean and ready for bed.  I start this process at 7 or 7:30, hoping (in vain) that THIS will be the night that EVERYONE is in bed early so that I can enjoy some quiet alone time.

However, by the time everyone is in bed, it's time for Zaden to nurse again, and I'm so tired I can't even think straight, not that I've been able to do that all day.  And of course once Zaden has finished nursing, I HAVE to get to bed immediately so I can have some hope of getting a decent stretch of sleep.

This part of the day is often challenging enough when Ted is home to help.  We're both tired, and there are times we just look at each other and ask, "Do you think the kids will put themselves to bed?!"  But it's infinitely more exhausting when I can't tag team with anyone.  I do pray a lot during these hours...and while Jesus is a wonderful comfort and friend...well, His presence hasn't yet manifested in such a way as to clean the kitchen or change the diapers for me!  But at least I know He IS with me!

I'm not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me.  Probably 99% of the time I don't even feel sorry for me.  This is just the way it is, and we get through it.  And we'll continue to get through it.  But I recognize this is a consistent challenge for me, and I could use all the prayers I can get!  For patience, nay, "longsuffering;" for endurance; for joy and contentment despite circumstances that, humanly speaking, would typically drain anything of the like from one's heart.

And with that, it's time to nurse Zaden again and get to bed!

November 08, 2011

Arden's Birthday Party

Whew, I can't keep up with anything these days.  I don't want to overlook Arden by not posting about HIS birthday party, so here goes!

The Saturday after Charis's birthday party weekend we had some boys over to the house for Arden's party.  I'm so thankful that he was an easy guy to plan for!  I didn't even make invitations.  Actually, I didn't even SEND invitations!  I emailed a few moms and talked to one mom at church three days before the party! 

Arden chose a Bakugan theme, a current obsession with the boys in our neighborhood.  The boys who came brought their favorite Bakugan cards and figures, and they did their "brawling" in pairs all over the house.  They did that for awhile, then we had Papa John's pizza, then they brawled some more, and then we had an ice cream cake from Ritter's, and then Arden opened presents, and they brawled some more and went home.  Easiest. Party. EVER!  Arden loved it, and so did all the boys!

Arden got a special birthday present from Daddy...Ted ordered an Avalanche jersey for him.  We Skyped with Ted when Arden opened the package, and it was very fun for Ted to be able to hear and see the excitement!

November 01, 2011

The Supplementing of the Spirit

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2:2-3

I was clearing out one of my cupboards awhile ago.  Before I relegated some of these items to a storage closet, I decided to snap a picture to remind me of a few of the lessons I've learned this year.  Featured here are items I received from the lactation consultant who helped Zaden and me through our nursing trauma: a hand pump, bottles that went with the electric pump I borrowed, and the supplemental nursing system (SNS).  For those who aren't familiar with the SNS (I wasn't before all this happened), you place breastmilk or formula inside the bottle, making sure the tubes are clamped off until the proper time.  The bottle hangs around your neck, and the tubing gets taped to the breast you're nursing on.  When the baby is latched on, you release the clamp, allowing milk to flow through the tubing so Baby can receive nourishment from both the SNS and Mom.

The whole process was sometimes stressful, always cumbersome, but undoubtedly exactly what we needed.  Today Zaden is a champion nurser, and I have the honor of breastfeeding my sixth baby.

During our weeks with the SNS, I harbored a love-hate relationship with the contraption.  I loved that my baby was gaining weight and that I was able to put breastmilk into it so he could be receiving all the nutritional benefits of my milk.  I hated that it was such an ordeal to feed him.  I even felt (rather unreasonably) a bit of jealousy that he would only nurse when he was getting the additional sustenance from the SNS.  Every feeding was a reminder that on my own, I was unable to give my baby adequate nutrition.

Happily, that was all temporary.  But it produced a startlingly clear picture of what the Holy Spirit does for us!  An important spiritual truth was illustrated for me, as put forth in these verses:

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  1 Cor. 1:18

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  1 Cor. 2:14

On my own, I am unable to comprehend God's Word and apply it to my life.  Were it not for the fact that God's Spirit resides in me--since I received His Spirit at the moment of salvation--this whole Christianity thing would seem foolish to me.  Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I could read my Bible, but I would not receive the nourishment needed to grow.  This reminds me of Jesus's parable about the sower:

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  Matthew 13:3-8

Without allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me (Eph. 5:18), I will scorch and wither with no root; I will be choked by the thorns of this world.  In order for the seed inside me to be nourished and grow, I need that supplemental nursing system--I need the Holy Spirit to feed me spiritually!

If there is one thing I've learned from Ted's deployment...from being a mother...from any situation in which I feel I'm in completely over my's this:  I am utterly, totally inadequate to do ANYTHING good.  I am utterly, totally dependent on God to fill me, strengthen me, guide me, use me for His glory.

Today I am so thankful for the SNS and how it helped Zaden get to the point where he could nurse well.  I am thankful for what God taught me during those difficult days and nights, and--truthfully--what He is still teaching me about leaning on Him.  While I'm glad Zaden has outgrown the need for the SNS, I know I will never outgrow my need for Christ.  I need all the help I can get. :-)