November 2016 update

Hey guys! It’s been forever. I just wanted to post a little update on how we’ve been. Life just seems to be snowballing this fall as things have gotten busier and busier, which I knew it would. The days are FULL to the brim, I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, alternating between laughing and crying, and I wanted to document some of the things the kids are doing now so I don’t forget.


Siena is 8 and just got glasses. There was a free clinic at Thumbay Hospital here and we went and waited for a long time to see the Ophthalmologist. Turns out she’s pretty blind! She needs at least +3, probably +4 but they’re starting her lower and will fine tune it in a few months. Her reaction was first that everything looked “bigger”, but after having them for almost a week she says that things look normal with her glasses and small without them. The doctor said the muscles around her eye have been compensating so much and so long that it will take a while for them to relax and her vision to acclimate to the glasses. She is also still into Star Wars and very proudly made her own Princess Leia doll over the summer. She has really enjoyed school this fall and went from hating copy work to asking for more! She is a huge help to me and very competently helps watch Isabelle, although she is a type A and get stressed out, at which point she will start saying “I’m freaking out!”. So we’re working through that, and I’m careful not to put too much on her.


Augie is 6 and is the same old Augie boy. He is so unique. His imagination is crazy and amazing! He is so loud, and very focused. He can get “stuck” on something and not want to let it go, but overall he is so easy going and sweet to everyone. He is passionate about whatever is on his mind, whether it’s an invention like a time machine, his future occupation, or his imaginary world he is in. He is constantly dressing up, and changes clothes multiple times a day. He is also incredibly smart, does some times tables in his head, and reads better than Siena. School time with him is so cute, he whizzes through the academics and spends most of the time on the crafts, which he loves.


George is 4 and is still gluten, dairy, and egg free. Yesterday he got something contaminated and it reminded us that it really is making a huge difference. One small thing and he has night terrors, scream waking every few minutes when in a light sleep, wets the bed, and gets a flare up of eczema. He is still our moody child, but it’s much better when we limit screens and are on top of his diet (isn’t that true with any child?! haha. Just moreso with George). He is incredibly affectionate and likes to press his body into our body. He has an adorable lisp, and says the sweetest things like “mom youw tho byooful”. It melts my heart.


Isabelle is 2, and all that comes with being 2. She is so so SO adorable I just can’t stand it. She also screams at everyone for the tiniest infraction on her autonomy, lol. But she is so precious! She is also a little type A, she likes cupboard doors to be closed and when she goes down for bed her 2 pillows, three books, one sippy, one ENORMOUS baby doll, and 2 quilts have to be arranged JUST SO. It’s so cute! She learned how to crawl out of her crib last month and so after fighting it for a few weeks we gave in and put her in a giant metal cage playpen. It’s been amazing to have a place that she’s safe and can’t get out at 3am when we’re all sleeping. She started talking this month and now babbles and talks non stop. She still loves baths, and loves being outside, and runs around with her hair in her eyes and a twinkle in her eye, literally. She is mischievous and it’s adorable to see her “tease” and joke with us! She also LOVES Owen and every time he wakes up she hears him on the monitor and runs in to say hello.


Owen is 6 months old in a few days. He is doing really well! We started sleep training in earnest a few weeks ago and overall he has done amazingly well! Very little crying, and he’s sleeping so much longer and is SO happy all the time (please no debate or judgement on sleep training, we have made this decision with lots of prayer and research). He’s nursing well and starting to reach for foods, so I’ll probably start some BLW in the next few weeks, but am not feeling really rushed as I know he has all he needs from me. He got 2 teeth this month, the first one came through and I barely noticed, the second one produced several nights with very little sleep and lots of nursing, so go figure! haha. He is such a smiley baby and lights up for his siblings, his dad, Mieka (our nanny), and usually for me too. I’m a little nervous about our upcoming trip at the end of December, hoping he’ll sleep okay while we’re there, but going to Spain is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I’m not too worried! We traveled when Isabelle was close to this age and she was fab.


Mieka is a single girl from CA that is staying with us for a few months, and it’s been life changing to have her. I’m so so grateful!! She does so many dishes, and watches the littles so I can homeschool, and has become a friend as well.


I don’t have much of an update for Steve and I. Just praying and striving to be faithful with what God has for us each day. There are ups and downs, but above everything is praise for our great Savior who purchased us with his blood and made a way for us to be reconciled to God! He is so good.


Oh, I guess an update for me would be that I’ve been faithfully eating Trim Healthy Mama since the week after Owen was born, with a few short breaks for Thanksgiving and a trip to TX, and I’ve lost 11kgs, which is 24.25lbs! I’ve also started taking Plexus Slim in there and I love it. I was still crashing almost every day, even eating a low glycemic diet, and with Plexus I don’t crash anymore. I still get tired, of course! But my day doesn’t come crashing to a halt. I’ve also added crossfit in a few times a week, and that’s been amazing! And I’ve been doing more sewing for the holidays, finishing up projects from last year and making new dolls for a Christmas Fair here in Fujairah.

So here it is, the day before December, and this is a snapshot of our life right now. Praise God for his grace in every moment! And here are more random pics of the kids!

For the love of tea….

In my pursuit of minimalism I have been going through every cupboard and every drawer. In the kitchen, I have been quite successful in minimizing my tupperware, my glass jars, my cooking utensils, etc.

But one area has proven quite difficult to minimize. That is my tea stash.

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I confess. I’m a tea-aholic. I only got rid of two boxes. One of earl gray (because I think it tastes soapy), and another of plain Lipton. I kept everything else.

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But the good news is, it’s organized! And I even created a little “hot drink bar” in the kitchen that Steve came and told me he loved, so I consider it a success!

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Sometimes you just have to keep the things you love, even if you have them in excess. 😉

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Quest for Minimalism

Last month I had an article on Fruitful Fellowship about minimalism. I have been slowly working towards decluttering and organizing my whole house. This week I finally tackled my clothes (since I am about 20lbs/9kgs into my postpartum weight loss journey and things are starting to fit again). It was daunting, but now that it’s done it feels amazing! Right now, every single item of clothing in my closet fits me and fits my lifestyle. I took pictures to document, and thought I would share them to encourage you that it IS possible!

First I decided what kind of clothes I wanted, what my goal was. I wanted to be able to get dressed every day. So I thought about what clothes I needed to make that happen, and what I usually got dressed for. I realized that I wanted to be dressed to homeschool the kids, run errands, and be ready if unexpected visitors came to the door. But I also needed my clothes to be practical enough to sit on the floor, and have the ability to nurse the baby easily (since I’ll be doing that for the foreseeable future, lol). The other times I got dressed were for church, which was similar to every day but a little more finished. And then date nights, which are very rare but I still want to have special clothes for those times.

Above all, I wanted clothes that I loved wearing, and that reflected my style!

So, onward I went! After I figured all that out in my head (and wrote it down, since that’s how I think), I took all the clothes out of my closet.

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Then I started separating. I just went through the pile and chose a category, and put them in it. It didn’t require science or anything, I just did one piece at a time. Here are my categories:

  • Keep (things I love that are comfy and fit my life and style)
  • Edit (things that need mending or stains treated)
  • Maybe (things that I’m not sure I like but I’m reluctant to give them away)
  • Giveaway (people often have a consignment category but I don’t have that option)

The clothes that I didn’t include in this were my workout clothes and my jammies. I went through them and made sure I could use them all, but they were in a different category than every day.

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Date Night clothes 😏

Honestly it was kind of fun! It felt so freeing! I tried to pick basic pieces that I could build off of, but I wasn’t picky about a certain number of hangers or certain colors or anything. I just picked the things I loved and put them on hangers and put them in my closet.

Things I really liked but had something off, I put in the maybe pile. That included things like shirts that I loved the fabric but not the way it fit, dresses that I weren’t sure looked good on me or didn’t really have the occasion to wear.

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Maybe…. 

Then I had things that I just wasn’t that attached to, or didn’t match a lot of things I had in my closet. Or things that Steve really doesn’t like on me. And I just gave them away and didn’t feel bad for one minute. In fact, I feel so very free!

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Gone for good! 

Obviously the things I still really liked but had something wrong I thought I could fix (with all my spare time, haha) I put in another pile. A few tunics I want to add lace to the bottom so I can wear them as dresses, one that has a seam that needs mending, and a white shirt I love but has some stains I’m going to try and get out.

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to Edit

I had an amazing helper, he cheered me on the whole time.

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Owen the Helper

And at the end, I have this wonderful closet that I can go to every morning and each item is easy and fun to wear. Each item feels like “me”. Each item is easy to nurse in and comfortable enough to go about my daily life with the kids. And it’s amazing.

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Minimalist Closet, done! 

Who knew that a pile of empty hangers could be so awesome?!?!

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13 things that make the 5th kid the best (so far)

  1. Newborn smiles only last for a few months (a split second when you have 5 kids) so you treasure them MUCH more.
  2. The baby will sleep. Eventually. In 4 years. But you know it will happen!
  3. A little baby poop never hurt anyone.
  4. Baby pee is sterile and is not worth disturbing a sleeping baby.
  5. Sometimes babies wake up and cry at the most inopportune moments. Go ahead and finish brushing your teeth (or whatever you were doing), he’ll be okay for 30 seconds.
  6. Swaddling is an art form, and it is worth achieving perfection in that art. P.S. Miracle Blankets are worth every penny.
  7. Baby complaining noises are kind of super adorable. You know what I’m talking about.
  8. You finally have Olders to help with the Youngers. My 7 year old makes a mean PB&J.
  9. There is nothing like the love the older kids have for the new baby.
  10. The toddler will scream and wake the baby, but you have come to an exhausted peace with it. At this point please refer to number 2.
  11. Kids survive on a steady diet of Netflix, as long as they sleep at some point too. It’s just a season. A season of Daniel Tiger, that is. 😏
  12. At this point your life is crazy enough that you actually consider having more, because at this point it’s only getting easier (see point 8).
  13. A sleeping baby literally is the sweetest thing in the world.

Why did I want kids again?

I love my kids. I absolutely adore and love my kids. I love each and every one of their different personalities. I love hearing their little voices. I love the way they look like the man that I love. I love seeing them grow and learn. I love watching them learn to read. I love seeing them play and love on each other. I love it when they give me spontaneous hugs. I love explaining something to them and seeing their eyes light up with understanding. I love watching them play with intense concentration. I love the baby rolls, and the squeals and giggles, those gorgeous baby smiles. I love the way their hair sticks up in the morning and their eyes look all sleepy for .38 seconds.

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But if I’m being honest, there are a lot of things I don’t love. I don’t love the demanding voices that need a million things first thing in the morning. I don’t love the angry words they yell at each other. I don’t love the fact that I always feel like I’m not doing enough as a mom. Or that I’m doing it wrong. I don’t love the epic fight that happens 90% of the time I tell my three year old to do something. I don’t love bedtime. And I feel guilty about that. I don’t love how the house falls apart in 2 seconds. I understand that kids are messy, I just don’t understand how it happens so fast. I don’t love being sleep deprived. I don’t love how grouchy I am at the kids for no reason when I’m sleep deprived. Or hormonal because I’m on my period/pregnant/just had a baby/breastfeeding a teething baby.

Life is wonderful, but there are moments that I don’t love. And sometimes those moments seem to stretch and last so long, that amidst the chaos I lose sight of the moments I DO love.

I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I love babies, I love pregnancy, I love homeschooling. I have always felt that I was born for this! But after baby #4, for the first time in my life, I felt done. It was so…odd! I had never, ever, felt this way, and it almost felt wrong it was so different! But it wasn’t wrong, it was just a new season, and my husband and I were actively avoiding any more babies, at least for a while.

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But God had other plans. When we found out about baby #5, I cried. I was so grateful for this new life, and knew without any doubt that this baby was God’s gift to us. But I still cried. As much as I love babies, I already had one and was afraid of getting even less sleep than I was getting now. How would I function and take care of all my kids? As much as I loved being pregnant, how would I physically take care of my children and my 1 year old with a big belly, let alone deal with all the aches and pains that come with pregnancy? And as much as I love homeschooling, I was finding that challenging enough. How could I possibly be faithful with my children’s education when I was barely getting back into it at 1 year postpartum??

What can I say? These are legitimate concerns and questions. But there is no other answer but that God is faithful. He will give me everything I need. My verse for this month on my GraceLaced calendar is “His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” And that about sums it up. When you serve a great God, that is enough. He is enough.

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But back to my original question. Why did I want kids in the first place? It truly is amazing how children are made. A man and a woman love each other, and then they have kids. It’s like the automatic sequel to love. And yet I see so many jokes about how the romance in a relationship goes out the window once you have kids. And it’s true, you’re exhausted. So just sitting together on the couch for 10 minutes before you pass out is romance enough. But it makes me think about love. True love. What does that look like?

Because romantic love, that isn’t a very real love. It can be a small part of real love. But real love, God love, is sacrificial. It does not seek it’s own. It is not easily provoked. It bears all things. Hopes all things. Endures all things. Real love doesn’t get angry when the 3 year old poops on the floor, again. Real love doesn’t get overly irritated with the husband for being insensitive, knowing that you’re both exhausted and you both love each other so let’s just forget about it. Real love doesn’t get angry when the kids have a screaming match over the superman toy and wake up the baby. Real love gets up at night without complaining because it puts others above itself. Real love sits and listens when the oldest one is hurt by mean words from a friend, even though there are a million other things to do while the baby naps. Real love doesn’t get overwhelmed at the mess because the mess is just stuff, and people are way more important than things. Real love doesn’t get irritated at the kids for being so needy and interrupting everything every 2 minutes.

So when I look at my kids, and I look at my heart, I see that honestly, I don’t love my kids very well. I love myself. I love my sleep. I love my orderly home. I love what other people think of me. I love my “uninterrupted thoughts” time. I love being a mom but I just want it to be at about 65% of what it is now. I love my idea of what mommyhood looks like, not the messy chaos of reality.

But there is a beautiful reality that changes the way we do mommyhood. The truth is that Jesus came and loved me when I was horribly unlovable. I was in full rebellion towards God. And while he was on earth he gave of himself again and again. He was sleep deprived. People demanded things of him from early until late. He dealt with the chaos and sin of this world, and then he was slaughtered unjustly for MY sin. He bore everything for me, so that I could be clean. He died and rose again so that I could be holy. He showed me real love. He gave up his throne and became a servant. What a sacrifice!

And in him, I am a new creature, and I am not only capable of showing that same real love by his Spirit, but I am constrained to do so! I am compelled to love because when I see the great love that has been shown me, how can I not? I fight my flesh, and I fight it moment by moment throughout the day. But I am striving towards being truly loving, because my Savior truly loved me.

So originally, I think I wanted kids for a selfish reason. Like “aw, dats sho cute!” But God in his loving wisdom knew that they would be the BEST thing for me, to drive me to my knees and cause in me a death to self, and grow in me a self sacrificial love, so that I could be more and more like my Savior. Because truly loving your kids means you give of yourself more than you ever thought possible.

When a man and woman love each other, they have kids. And it makes an even more beautiful love. A giving of yourself love. A God-like love. True love.

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When you feel like a failure….

This has been a hard week with our 3 year old. I know it’s a difficult age in general, but this little guy has always been a particular struggle for us, and some weeks are especially hard. When his behavior is unbelievable, and I feel like our relationship and his attitude is spinning out of control, this is what goes through my mind:

I’m a failure.

I’m so unequipped for this.

I’m ruining him by not knowing how to deal with his issues.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about George as he’s matured and grown in the last few years. He is super sensitive. This is extremely precious and extremely difficult. He over reacts to everything, and has meltdowns at the smallest thing, and loudly demands our attention until it is dealt with fully. He feels everything quite deeply. He can be a bully, and seems to enjoy picking on his older brother. He is also extremely physically affectionate. He always wants to sit on my lap, stroke my cheek, give me intense kisses, and give long hugs. When he is happy, he is the sweetest of all my children! He will tell me I look pretty and give me hugs for no reason. His voice is so sweet, and he is incredibly loving. He is an amazing older brother to Isabelle, and she is pretty clear that he is her favorite.

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He is also sensitive to foods and environmental things. He reacts more to upper respiratory issues, and tends to get rashes randomly. His mood is greatly affected by his diet, and we are working on eliminating things to try and figure out what triggers his behavioral things.

All that to say, when we have a hard day or week with George, it means LOTS of tantrums, lots of crying, lots of unreasonable reactions that have to be worked through and dealt with. And when I look at it from my limited and human perspective, it’s daunting and exhausting.

But I’m learning something. Having a child that needs MORE from me pushes me to Christ. I can’t parent him on my own, I am unable. So I need Christ more, and I know that to have any chance of success and not ruining my child, I have to run to him!

Today I did that. After yesterday brought a long week to a close, I was incredibly downcast. I was speaking those unhelpful phrases to myself again and again. I felt that I was in a vicious cycle with no way out, and the casualty was my precious son. Such a depressing and hopeless thought process.

My mom always said “what is truth?”. When we are downcast and disquieted, anxious and depressed, what is truth? And today, I feel like God has opened my eyes to some things that I had lost sight of. Truth. (thank you Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick)

(The next few paragraphs are quotes from Paul Tripp in a video I watched that I’ve personalized a bit for myself, link here)

The truth is that I have absolutely zero ability to change my children. No matter how well I act toward my child, if they don’t transact with God, they’re not going to be okay. It’s my job to build in my children a sense of their need for God. Take them back to the deeper thoughts and motivations of their heart. And so when they start to see their heart, and their need, I can share with them the beautiful story of the gospel.

The truth is that I often say (either out loud or in my heart) “I can’t believe you would act this way, how dare you act this way.” That message is: “you don’t keep the law as well as I do.” Ouch.

The truth is that they are sinners, and I am a sinner. When I get down to the heart motivations of why my kids are doing something, if I am truly honest with myself, I will see those same sins in my heart! No one gives grace better than someone who knows they need it themselves. When I see myself as a sinner saved by grace instead of an upholder of the law, it totally changes the way I parent.

Clearly in the Bible, there is authority. There is law. There are consequences for actions, whatever a man sows he will also reap. Children need correction, they need loving discipline. But it’s not enough. “If a tight system of regulations and enforcement had any ability to change the content and character of a human being, Jesus wouldn’t have come.

But if all I do is very skillfully regulate and control the behavior of my child for the next 18 years, what do they have? Nothing. Parenting is about being a tool in the hands of a Redeemer to see real heart change take place.

So I think my takeaway today is this: I am a failure. I don’t have this figured out. I don’t know how to love George and train him and deal with his crying/fussing/anger. I don’t even know how I am going to get through the rest of the day with him, let alone the week, or this “phase”.

But I know that it’s not up to me. I’m running with this to Jesus. I’m praying for humility as I see my sin reflected in the actions of my children. We are all full of self, we all want what WE want more than we want God. But I have some good news for my kids, and I am praying for the strength to bring it to them more faithfully every day. I don’t have to get angry when they don’t obey me, or obey the rules! I can use those moments to talk about their heart, and point them to the cross. I have hope, I have the answer. God, give me grace to see that being a mom is not about making sure my kids obey the rules so that they turn out okay, but is really about showing my kids their need for a Savior, and pointing them to the One who saves.

There is such freedom in knowing that it’s not up to me. When they disobey, I don’t have to be stressed. I don’t have to get angry. I don’t have to feel like a failure. This is my privilege, to correct and train in gentleness and humility, showing them the only hope for our life is Christ.

Just Enough to Get By

I read a devotional today pondering how precious Jesus is to us who believe.

Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness….what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day’s battle?…let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.

Life without Christ. How empty! How pointless! How utterly hopeless.

But then I think of my every day life and I feel a pang of conviction. Do I act like Jesus is precious? Do I live in a way that models to those around me (i.e. my children!) that I have a hope beyond the every day life? Do I meditate on the endless wonder and beauty that is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? Do I live like Jesus has given me all I have ever needed and far above what I could even want?

No.

I quite often live like there is just enough Jesus to get by.

If I were being honest I would look at my life and say that I live like Jesus gets me through the day, but just barely! And praise God for coffee!

I devalue my Savior and make him a prop to my life. Ouch.

How do I stop this? How do I put Jesus in his proper place in my life?

By praying for a heart that stands in awe of him. By assigning him the value he deserves. By looking at all the other stuff in my life that I value like a cheap, dollar store imitation of a priceless artifact. Stuff like having a clean house, cooking incredible meals, having a “perfect body”, and going to all the social events.

And even stuff like being a good mom and pastor’s wife and CHRISTIAN.

Because that’s not the goal!! The goal is to treasure Christ!! And when we do that properly, all our other relationships will be healthy and good. Our relationship with our family, our relationship to friends, our relationship to stuff.

Let’s stop living like Christ makes it so we have just enough “goodness and stuff” to get us through our day in a “christian way”. That’s a different religion than what’s in the Bible. The Bible says to take up our cross daily. It says that Christ brings us from death to life. And it expounds again and again on the beauty, wonder, mercy, majesty, glory, of Christ. Who left everything and gave himself for us.

That is life changing. Let’s live changed lives. Let’s pray that we can truly know how precious he is.