Tuesday, August 27, 2013

And He's 4

Oh my little Josiah. What do I say about you on your fourth birthday? Words fail me with you, Son. You. Are. Crazy. And fun. And funny. And so cute I could sometimes burst when I look at you. You are never off. Ever. You are always on, full speed. And I kind of love that about you (most of the time!). I have a feeling God's going to use that one day.

You are so smart. You are already reading short words and sounding out longer ones. You give the best hugs, really tight around the neck. You love to sing, although a lot of the time your singing becomes shouting. You still love to sing "Our God" at the top of your lungs. You love okra and squash and candy. Man, do you love candy. When you boys get to pick out of the treasure box at the end of school, Caleb and Noah always pick toys, but you always pick candy. Always.

You love Eden. And she adores you. But she also loves to beat you up and you don't like that very much. You are the only brother who challenges her so far. If she goes too far with you, you push right back. It's probably really good she has you in her life. She needs someone to say no to her.

You are never far behind Caleb and Noah at anything. I love to watch the three of you together. Love it.

You are still my snuggle bug. I don't know how much longer I have before you grow out of that, but I am treasuring every moment. You still love to curl up in my lap and snuggle.

You still love your belly button. And your thumb. Not sure how we're going to break those habits!

Dearest Josiah, you bring so much laughter, silliness and joy into this house. We are so thankful that God gave you to us. We pray for you everyday. We pray that God would give you a passion for His name and that He would use your unique gifts for His glory. Daddy and I think you are really awesome. We love you so much. Happy 4th Birthday buddy!!

We love you, no matter what, forever and ever!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day of School (2 1/2 weeks late!)

So, two and a half weeks ago on August 5, we had our first day of the 2013-2014 school year here at the Blankenship School. Caleb started 2nd grade and Noah started Kindergarten. They are both doing so great! Caleb is actually doing a 3rd grade curriculum in every subject except for Math where he is doing 4th grade! And Noah is doing a 1st grade curriculum. They are both excelling and I am so proud. It's been quite an adjustment having two students to teach and two preschoolers in tow! But every week gets better and better. Some days can be really hard, but I honestly wouldn't trade them. I love spending the days with my kids and being their teacher. Here's to a great school year!!

2nd Grader and Kindergartener!

Noah and his kindergarten teacher!

And this was the shirt Jack wore in honor of our first day! Love that man!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trip to Virginia

Last year, Jack got a call from the Eagle Eyrie Conference Center in Lynchburg, Virginia asking him to be the speaker at their MC2 Mission Camp in July. We were excited about the opportunity for Jack to speak, but also to get to spend some time with friends from the church I grew up in- Warrenton Baptist Church- as they were attending the camp!

Then as the week in July approached, we decided to go up to Virginia and West Virginia the weekend before the camp to visit family and friends we haven't seen for several years. We thought since we were already going to be in the state we should make the most of it.

We started by visiting my Aunt Connie at her new house in Harrisonburg. We had a great evening together. After dinner she took us to the coolest playground I've ever been to! The kids had a blast and we really enjoyed getting to see Aunt Connie's new house and spend some time with her.

 Aunt Connie with the kids

Saturday morning after breakfast we drove to West Virginia to spend time with my Mom's side of the family. It's been several years since I've seen most of these Aunts and Uncles. We had a wonderful lunch together. The boys really enjoyed playing outside with their cousin Josh and Eden has fun playing with Ellie, who is 1 month older. I got to eat some of Aunt Donna's amazing chocolate chip cookies, which was a great bonus! And Aunt Diane made goodie bags for all of the kids to have in the car and at the camp. We really had a great time. 
 The boys playing

The boys with Aunt Tania

Caleb and Josh

My mom and her sisters

Eden and Ellie

 My Mom with her brothers and sisters

Eden and I with my Aunt Nikki and Ellie

After lunch we left West Virginia to go to Warrenton to spend the evening with my second mom and my mom's best friend, Janie, and her daughter Amy, a lifelong friend, and Amy's husband and daughter, Abbey and the rest of the family. Eden and Abbey are just two weeks apart so we decided to have a little joint birthday celebration while we were there. We had such fun just spending time together. Amy got a pinata for the party- the boys were beyond thrilled about that! It was really nice to get to spend time with these people- who are family to us. 
She's a nut

The kids

Abbey and Eden

After our evening with the Todd's we went to spend the night with my best friend from Middle and High School, Sarah, and her family. We put the kids right to bed when we got there and spent the evening visiting with Jon and Sarah. The thing I think I love most about my friendship with Sarah is that is it is effortless and never awkward. No matter how much time has passed since we last talked or saw each other, it's not weird to be together again. And it's always been that way. Even when we were in college far apart, we would always just pick up where we left off. I'm glad this hasn't changed.

Sunday morning we went to Warrenton Baptist Church and saw lots of old friends. We enjoyed a great burger from Foster's for lunch and then took a little scenic drive around Warrenton. It's the town I was raised in. It's the town my dad was raised in. And his dad. And his dad. Well, you get the idea. I haven't been back for many years and haven't had the chance to show the boys where I lived. We drove passed my house- which looks about the same, if a little run-down- and my high school- which looks completely different!

The house I grew up in. And my dad grew up in. 

Fauquier High School- totally different!

Sunday afternoon we spent with Sarah and Jon and their girls. We went to the pool, the boys loved playing with Charlee and Aliza's toys (especially the blow up instruments from Charlee's birthday party- which Sarah happily shipped to our house waiting for us when we got home!), our kids finally got a nap. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening together. Sarah's girls are precious and I loved getting to spend time with them and with Jon and Sarah. 

And then Monday morning we got up and went to spend the week at Eagle Eyrie. We had the most wonderful week! There were activities for all four of our kids every morning, so Jack and I got to spend 8 am to noon just hanging out! We went for a hike (oh.my.gosh why did we do that!), played disc golf and went to Starbucks. Our kids LOVED the three college students from WBC serving as summer interns- it's like they can smell a college student from a mile away and are instantly attracted! We took the kids to the really great pool with slides and a splash area. Jack preached every night, which was wonderful- I love hearing that man preach. And we got to spend some nice quality time with my former youth pastor and his wife, Doug and Karen. I loved that so much. They are precious people in my life and I loved getting to just spend time with them. There was an ice cream social, and a talent show. The boys decided they had to enter the talent show at the last minute. They were a hit. It was a wonderful week. I didn't take many pictures, but I got a few with my phone. 
The first night- college student found and surrounded!

This was the beautiful view from Eagle Eyrie- this was only about .25 mile up the hike and was the best view. Should have just stopped there!!

Eden- the center of attention as always!

Talent for sure!

Monday, August 5, 2013

When you reach a dozen

12 years ago yesterday we said our vows, made promises before God and our friends & family, and entered into quite an adventure.

It hasn't always been easy, in fact, sometimes it's been downright hard. And there have been seasons when it's been almost effortless, joy-filled, and fun.

What have the past 12 years taught me?

Love is not a feeling. Lasting love isn't built on romance. It doesn't look like the movies. Love is defined by the Gospel. It's self-sacrificing, it's forgiving, it's grace-filled. And it's something my husband knows well.

I married a man who loves Christ above all else. I married a man who is being transformed into the image of Christ more everyday. I married a man who understands his role as a husband is that of Christ to the church.

His self-sacrificing love rubs my feet at the end of a long day. It cleans up kid vomit from sheets. It empties a full dishwasher. His forgiving love overlooks all of my deficiencies. It never complains when I lack in housework or cooking. His grace-filled love praises my flawed parenting. It calls me beautiful even when I know it's 12 years and 4 babies later on this body.

I am blessed beyond what I even knew when I said those vows 12 years ago. Time has just made him better. Time, difficulties, joys, and the Spirit of the Living God have strengthened our love.

Here's to 12 + 12 + 12 more, for His glory.

August 4, 2001