Last summer, we published a post about how a little act made a huge difference in our youngest family member’s life. While Mommy hates that her baby’s little heart was exposed to evil so early in life, she is amazed at that same little hearts’ ability to combat that evil with love. Every single day.
Over a year later, Becca still prays daily for the people of Syria, asking that they “don’t throw bombs at each other.” If ever a bite of food crosses lips during mealtime before our family has talked to God, we hears a little voice pipe up. “Pray! Mommy, we forgot to pray!”
Our four-year old prayer warrior turns five at the end of this month. In an effort to encourage our daughters to appreciate their blessings and to serve others, we ask each of them to choose someone they’d like to help for their birthday. Then, in lieu of gifts, we ask friends and family to consider donating supplies or funds in the girls’ honor. Not surprisingly, Becca chose Syria.
So in honor of Becca’s birthday, we’re asking people to consider helping Syria’s children by making a donation to one of the highly respected groups below or to a relief organization of your choice.
But you don’t have to donate to help. You can join Becca daily in remembering, loving, and praying for those in our world who are often forgotten.
*Now, in all honesty, Becca chose Syria after she told Mommy she’d really prefer to have lots and lots of presents. Don’t worry, folks. The girl is in no way deprived and will still get plenty of birthday loot from her family.
DISCLAIMER: We are not sharing this with you to garner praise. Consider this a public service announcement warning each of you of the stupidity of overdoing things.
If you’ve been following along with us, you know that we are now in possession of SIXTEEN POUNDS of blueberries.
What exactly does one do with so many blueberries?
Short answer: You poop blue.
Long answer: You spend an entire day and a half processing berries until you never want to see another blueberry again in your life. Here’s how we managed:
Between this blueberry picking trip and a previous trip (yes, our mommy is sadistic), we canned 24 jars of jam. My sisters and I helped sort berries and push the food processor button.
We made a big stack while making the jam and snacking on berries. A big stack of wobbly, asymmetrical yumminess because Mommy can’t make a circular pancake to save her life. And we seriously did poop blue that night.
After our 8-hour canning marathon and blueberry dinner, we had blueberries for breakfast the next day! This time, they were cooked into a dozen muffins.
What to do with the not-so-pretty, just-a-tiny-bit-too-hard-or-mushy berries? Make pies! Two of them!
But wait, we still have MORE berries! What to do? Wash them (Or not, depending on which internet article you decide to believe), freeze them in a single layer on a cloth-covered (Or foil-covered. Or naked. Depending on which internet article you decide to believe) cookie sheet for an hour (Or 4. Or 8. Depending on which internet article you decide to believe), then deposit those bad boys into a freezer bag for blueberry fun that will last all year long!
The moral of the story? We think there are a few:
1) Never trust the internet.
2) Take care of yourself. Or you will have a sore back, bug bites, and blue poop.
3) Learn how to measure things. It turns out math is actually really important to everyday life.
4) People are more important than blueberries. Love God, love people, and keep the berries (and all other projects) in proper perspective.
A few weeks ago, when Mommy stumbled upon an organic blueberry patch with pick-your-own berries at $2 a pound, she had a brilliant idea. Why not pick enough berries to make jam? Enough jam for Christmas presents! It would be so simple, so easy, so FUN!
Yep. Fun, fun, fun. Brilliant.
We’re now sharing our experiences as a warning to others. Do not do this at home.
8:30am We arrive at the blueberry patch! We are excited! We begin picking.
8:32 Kat is ready to go home.
8:35 Becca is ready to go home. Mommy promises that we will all leave once we’ve picked three buckets’ worth of blueberries. She estimates that three buckets will be about six pounds of blueberries, enough to make 12 jars of jam.
8:40 Becca asks if we have picked three buckets’ worth of berries yet. Mommy checks. Nope. We’ve picked exactly 16 berries. And by “we,” we mean “Mommy.”
8:45 Mommy outlaws whining. Realizing there is no escape from blueberry drudgery, the child laborers resign themselves to picking.
9:00 Potty break. We discover portable potty urinals. An interesting discussion ensues.
9:30 Back to blueberry picking. Kat and Becca result to telling jokes to pass the time.
(Repeat 18 times. Forget the punchline. Giggle uproariously.)
“What goes Ooo ooo ooo?”
“A cow with no lips!”
10:00 Mommy has picked half a bucket. I’ve picked a fourth of a bucket. Kat and Becca still have 16 berries. Except half of them
have been smashed to smithereens.
10:15 We discover berry bushes make excellent forts.
10:20 We realized sitting in berry forts lead to blue bottoms. The world ends.
10:30 Kat promotes herself to management. She will spend the rest of picking time drinking from her water bottle while supervising our picking and providing helpful feedback such as, “Mommy, you missed those berries over there.”
10:30 Mommy is hot. Mommy is tired. Mommy is going to explode if Kat asks whether it is time to go home yet one more time.
11:00 We are almost finished! The buckets are not quite full, but Mommy decides that it will be okay if we’re short a pound or two.
11:15 We weigh our berries and realize that Mommy is horrid at estimation. We have picked sixteen pounds. SIXTEEN POUNDS. We’re guessing that Mommy picked eight pounds, Nat picked 4, Becca managed 2, and Kat eked by with one.
Yes. We are now the owners of 16 pounds of berries. SIXTEEN POUNDS. So what does one do with SIXTEEN POUNDS of berries? Stay tuned. We will share part two of the blueberry saga after our nap.
(And yes, we WOULD like to point out that the child who complained the most about the heat for over two hours chose to wear a stocking cap during nap time once we returned home.)
And today she let Mommy in on the secret.
Nat has been secretly making bracelets to sell so that she can donate all the money to families in Afghanistan. She wants to give her profits to a nonprofit very near and dear to our family’s heart, Afghanistan American Friendship Foundation. AAFF builds freshwater wells and schools in Afghan communities.
Mommy’s first reaction to this plan was one of sweet joy. Our little girl is getting it! She’s thinking of others and realizes there’s a world outside our little home and she’s growing and stretching herself and WOW!
Mommy’s second reaction was not so joyful. It was, “Oh no. This is not going to work. This child cannot set up a little table on our tiny little driveway in our sleepy little cul-de-sac and expect to sell bracelets. How do I explain that this will not work?”
Then a little voice reminded Mommy of something. This Saturday is the neighborhood yard sale. Our cul-de-sac will be swarming with people.
And then the little voice told Mommy about this newfangled thing called “The Internet,” a place with blogs and Facebook pages where news of a tiny little bracelet sale can travel very quickly.
We might be able to make this work.
So here’s the deal. If you know us personally, let us know which bracelet you like. You can mail your donation or give it to Nat personally.
If you don’t know us personally, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your bracelet choice and your mailing address. We’ll respond, letting you know if it’s still available. Then go to AAFF’s website and make a donation. You choose the amount. We’re using the honor system here, people, so please be honorable.
Bracelets will only be available online until Friday, April 10th at 11:59pm EDT.
Becca had a bad dream last night. As with most children, it happens occasionally. If mommy or daddy can’t calm her with words thrown lazily from their warm cocoon of a bed, one of them will climb up the stairs to pray with her and comfort her in person.
This time around, Mommy was able to calm Becca down without moving from her own bed.
But then Mommy felt the need to go to her anyway. And place a hand on her sweet little head and ask God to calm her sweet little heart. The next morning, the following conversation occurred as the two snuggled in our rocking chair:
Mommy: Do you remember having a bad dream last night?
Mommy: Can you tell me about it?
Becca: A hippo turned into a crab and snipped a talking snowman.
Mommy: Uhm. Wow. Well. So…what was the scary part?
Becca: The hippo crab! He snipped.
Mommy: I’m sorry. That must’ve been scary. But you know that dreams are pretend, right? And that mommy and daddy are just downstairs and that God is with you everywhere.
Becca: Uh huh. Then I made up one about a cat and a dog.
Mommy: Was that a happy dream?
Mommy: What a good idea, Becca! To make up a happy dream. I’m glad God gave you that idea.
Becca: He told me in my ear.
Mommy: God helps us and takes care of us, doesn’t he?
Becca: I told him thank you. But not too loud. My sisters were sleeping!
So Mommy made sure to write the whole thing down. Not so much to share with others, but to remind herself of the precious moments with her little ones who happen to be growing up all too quickly. To remember the deep lessons taught by little hearts…hearts tender enough to listen.
Mommy and Daddy have become accustomed to three little girls in one small household. For the most part, we block out the usual squeals and screams that come with teeny tiny bodies filled with large amounts of estrogen. However, this partial immunity to noise is not a natural trait.
Especially to grandpas.
No worries, though. One of our papas has come up with an ingenious solution to our eardrum-piercing girly glee.
Enter the “Squeal Place.”
Need to let loose with a decibel-shattering shriek of excitement? Head outside to Papa’s deck, stand on the mat, and scream your heart out. This mat is essential when granddaughters encounter anything that includes Christmas presents, cute kitties, puppies, or anything involving the movie “Frozen.”
For added protection, adults should always don the provided “Adult Squeal Place Protection,” guaranteed to cancel out at least 50% of the deafening noise of over-excited, Christmas-hyped children.
After we read a kid-friendly version of the Christmas story (this year, we used the Jesus Bible Storybook), we snuggle up in Christmas footie pj’s and open our gift to Jesus, our sparkle box.
Mommy got the idea for our box from the book Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie. Throughout the month of December, she keeps an eye out for times when we serve others. When she catches us in the act, she writes it down on a slip of paper and places it in a small box. This year, slips included things like:
- We helped our neighbor rake her yard.
- Becca showed love by surprising us with back scratches and kisses.
- We sent boxes of toys to children all over the world through Samaritan’s Purse.
- Kat was supportive and encouraging to her sisters when playing games, whether she was winning or not.
- We showed hospitality to guests who didn’t have families of their own.
- Nat shared words of love and kindness with her sisters, being a good example of love.
- We help Mommy around the house without complaining (most of the time).
The box seems to help us understand that when we love others, we’re loving God. Mommy loves seeing our smiles grow as Daddy reads the slips of paper in the sparkle box. To see little hearts delight in loving and serving Jesus is a wonderful Christmas gift.
After the sparkle box, we sing Happy Birthday, blow out the birthday candles in our Christmas donuts, and settle on the couch to watch a short movie.
It’s a sweet and silly little way to welcome Christmas into our home without throwing us kids into yet another sugar-fueled holiday frenzy. What’s your favorite way to celebrate Christmas Eve?