Friday, October 31, 2014

HALLOWEEN 2014

I like to keep Halloween in October, even on the blog.  Halloween has its very fun place, but I like when its over as well.  Unlike the girls.  While we were putting them to bed tonight, they asked when they could go trick-or-treating again.  When I said next year - because WE JUST WENT, they both whined about how long that would take.  It will take "For-HOURS" to be able to trick-or-treat again.

So - they love it.  I love having friends over and seeing all of the kiddos dressed up in fun costumes.  We hosted at our house again this year, as seems to be the tradition.  Everybody brought themed food - I made this fruit jack-o-lantern that I saw somewhere online.

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And these tasty little treats.  Can you even see my nails?  They sort of blend right in . . .

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I took fewer photos than ever this year, because I needed to dress four children and have my house semi-presentable.  The Bug Squad watched Disney Junior to keep them from destroying anything else at the house, though it does not entertain the babies.  Violet was trying to rummage through the DVD cabinet.

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Here's a picture from when we dressed up last Sunday - I didn't attempt any more pictures tonight on actual Halloween.  There are more individual pictures in this post, in case you missed it.  My little bugs were super adorable.

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And then, all of our friends arrived, and I had to feed all of my kiddos before we rushed out the door to break down other people's doors.  It was a bit chaotic to say the very least.  We did get a group picture with most of the children.  The kids that were crying are not pictured, and in a group this size/this small, you are bound to get some of those.

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We did have several duplicate costumes.  I love these three Captain Americas!

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And these two Bumblebees who have equal camera disdain.

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There were also two Elsas and three Spidermans.  Such a fun crew.  Then, the adults decided that we would all sort of split up to go trick-or-treating, but the kids did not get that memo and immediately raced next door.  They continued on as a massive hoard.  Anytime someone answered the door, there was some sort of exclamation on their part.  "Oh, My!"  "Oh, Goodness!"

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I don't take for granted the friends that we have or the sweet moments we get with young children.  I know there will be years in the future that are probably not nearly this fun, because everything has a season.  But, this is a sweet one - with children that want to be near us and relish the simple joy of asking neighbors for candy and are truly thrilled at being together.  I'm thankful.

We got back to the house with a bunch of sugared up children ready to look over their loot.

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And also, there was this guy.  Don't you think the head-dress is amazing?

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And that wraps up this year.  I can't believe another Halloween is in the books!

Past Halloween Blog Posts
Halloween 2013
Halloween 2012
Halloween 2011

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LOVE LETTERS

Some of these letters will be more loving than others - you've been warned.

Dear World Cheese Dip Championship,
     I sort of love the grand scale of anything with "world" in the title.  You know that you are a serious festival if your title starts out with that kind of grandiosity.  But - you delivered again!  We hadn't been in two years, and you were every bit as good as I remember you being.  Plus, this year, we knew to bring muffin tins to help us carry all of our dips, and we met friends there, which made you even better.  Thanks for a good time.

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(People kept making comments about our hoard of children.  I think they were just jealous.)
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(Chips just waiting to be matched with the perfect cheese dip!)
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Dear Violet,
     I wish that it didn't look like a crime scene so often when I go to get you from your nap.  This was the first day the heat was on, and your little nose started bleeding.  At least it was blood instead of poop this time.  Bless your heart.  And mine.  I love you anyway.  Obviously.

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Dear October 28th, (yesterday)
     10 years ago. we got engaged.  I cannot believe it has been that long, and yet, I can.  I love thinking about the joy on that day and so many of the days in between then and now.  I'm so thankful.
(Here's a link to our engagement story.  Some of the pictures aren't working - I need to go back and fix it, but I can't right this second.  I certainly don't love that.)

Dear Gorgeous Fall Weather,
     Thanks for showing up.  You've been amazing since this morning.  I'll take it.

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Dear 5,000 T-Shirts,
     I love that you are going to fly around the world and help clothe people who need you.  I'm glad I got to help fold you - I mean it.  I'm even more glad that I got to do it with friends, some of whom took the brunt of folding you to the tune of one couple single-handedly folding 1,872 shirts last week.  Ya'll are amazing - you know who you are.

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Dear Butterfly Stencil,
     You were cute, but the glitter you contained did not look at all like what was pictured.  I'm a little annoyed with you for false advertising.  Next time, I'll know better.

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Dear World Series,
     We've loved watching and rooting for the Royals.  So hoping for a win tonight!

Dear Lily,
     I love that you are learning to express your feelings - I really am being sincere about that.  After I sent you inside from bike riding for whining, you had a bit of time to pull yourself together.  You came out about 10 minutes later with this completed picture and a smile on your real face.  It depicts me working on the computer while Bella rides the bike that you wanted to be riding and you crying about it.  You nailed it.  I am so proud of you for starting to own things and understanding what contributes to how you feel.  And how you can sometimes change how you feel.

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Dear Halloween Candy,
     I can see already that we will have a fraught relationship this year.  I love that you bring me Smarties and chocolate covered peanuts that I sometimes sneak when Violet is asleep.  You know - for her good.  We cannot have that in the house, so I have found a convenient way to dispose of it.  I do not love that the girls ask to eat you all the time, and so, you will probably have to disappear entirely very soon into next week.

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Dear Trampoline Park,
     You were blessedly crowd-free today, and we had a blast with friends having the run of the place.  We got to hang out in the foam pit forever, which my little man really enjoyed.

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That's all I've got for now.  Peace out.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

THE BUG SQUAD

Ya'll.  I have the cutest kids.  I don't often use the blog as a straight up brag book, but tonight is the night.  We had a Fall Fest at church to attend, and so we got all fixed up in our Halloween costumes.  It actually made a great opportunity to get pictures of all the kids before we left, because on actual Halloween, we end up having a lot of people over and it gets a bit crazy.  So - without further adieu, I present, the Bug Squad.

Okay - I said, no more adieu, and then I remembered that I didn't explain where I got this idea.  Have you ever read the LadyBug Girl books?  We are big fans here in the Spenst house.  One of the books is LadyBug Girl and the Bug Squad, which features LadyBug Girl (duh), and Butterfly Girl, Dragonfly Girl and Bumblebee Boy.  Both Lily and Bella wanted to be butterflies, so I ended up with no Dragonfly Girl, but I was not complaining, since they were so willingly going in for a theme.

Here they are, in all their insect glory.

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Butterfly Girl (#1)

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Butterfly Girl (#2)

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LadyBug Girl (more interested in drooling than smiling for the camera)

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BumbleBee Boy (has really started walking this week!  Hooray!)

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The girls were so excited, and the babies were happy to be outside.

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(BumbleBee Boy still flies with a paci.  Don't judge.)

The Fall Festival at our church was a massive success and totally crowded.  I didn't take many pictures, because it was all I could do to survive.  And talk to my friends.  We did get 27 pieces of candy (according to Lily) and have a lot of popcorn and hot dogs.  Lily's wings were so big that they had to be removed to get through the crowd, and Bella's came off shortly after this picture.  They were, perhaps, bigger than I realized they would be when I ordered them online.

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I do love fall.  So much.  And my sweet Bug Squad.

Friday, October 24, 2014

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW

Yesterday morning I went on a walk with a dear friend.  We've walked through a lot of life together in the past seven years, and I'm so thankful for our friendship.  The past several months have been pretty stressful for both of our families, and so really connecting has been hit or miss.  But yesterday morning, we hit connection gold and were able to share about some of the ins and outs and ups and downs.

There were some tears and more laughter, because when you are able to speak out loud about some of the crazy things floating through your mind, you are often able to realize how ludicrous some of them are.  And how hard others of them are.  Having a good, godly sounding board is a treasure.

The conversation was a reminder of how good it is to be honest and authentic.  There are a lot of times and places when staying on the surface is appropriate, because the raw places in our hearts are not safe with everyone.  But, it's easy to keep the raw places completely under wraps and hidden.  To let them fester and even become infected.

I've realized that if I don't speak about the real hard things, then those things can grow, without me even realizing it.  My mind can be a dangerous place, especially if I am not committed to taking thoughts captive and meditating on what God's truths are.  Good friendships help me air out the wounds inside of me and realize that I am not alone.

This blog is certainly not a "safe" place for all of my thoughts and feelings, and as such, if you are reading this, it would be easy to make assumptions.  You don't know that I had a minor breakdown on Sunday night that involved a fair bit of compulsive sobbing.  (Well, now you do.)  You don't know, nor should you, the ins and outs of our marriage or parenting or spiritual journeys.  Some things are sacred for our family and not to be splashed out into the public sphere.

But, the people that we do life with should know a lot about those things.  We do each other an injustice to stay on the surface and not let others in.  Yesterday I was reminded of how normal the things I deal with are.  How some of the ways that John and I operate are similar to other couples, for better and for worse.  How easy it is to assume that because things "seem" to be okay, then they must be just fine, when the reality is far from that.

It's like the saying, "Be Kind; Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  It's far easier to assume that someone else's circumstances are better than our own.  That God has made their path more "charmed" than our own.  I'm sure there is a good reason that Jesus told Peter to mind his own business (John 21:22) and follow him.  I can get distracted by the alter-realities that I create for the people around me and wonder why things go a certain way for them and not for me.  Comparison never does me any favors.  It's also occurred to me that from the outside looking in, my own life could look pretty "charmed."

And, in so many ways, it is.  For the time being, I have four precious children, a loving husband with a great job, and a beautiful home among other things.  I fully recognize that my cup is overflowing, and that God has been so gracious to our family.  It is far more than we deserve and more than we ever dared to hope for.

But - real life is messy.  It just is.  I'm thankful for the raw, messy places, because they are pointing me to the Lord.  I'm thankful for friends who will share their raw places with me, because it is a reminder how much we are all battling - no one has a charmed life.

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So, those are my jumbled up thoughts on this beautiful fall afternoon.  I hope that you are encouraged to be in relationship with those around you and to be real - it's worth it.