Happy Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year, and this year in Indiana it's been much warmer than usual! Last week we had several days in the 80's! That's crazy! Then this weekend it started getting colder! I love all the colors of fall, the warmth of home, and jeans and sweatshirt weather. Here's a little bit of what we've been up to!

Babies in fall coats. Love it.
Mekonen went to Uncle Greg's farm with Daddy and Grandpa. 

They love playing in the leaves!

Fall handprint and fingerprint trees!
 Mekonen's tree! 
Evie's tree. For obvious reasons I couldn't get a picture of Evie in action on this one! 
Family pic in Grandpa's pretty yard. 
A few fall snapshots. Gosh they are cute. :) 

 One of my favorite things is when they hold hands. *LOVE*
Took a little trip to the pumpkin patch. It was miserably cold, windy, and wet. But we stuck it out long enough to get our pumpkins!
 Evie trying to pull the wagon of pumpkins they picked. Haha. 
 Mekonen's job was to pull the pumpkins. He thought this was cool. 
Later that day we went to a bonfire at a friend's house with our small group. Clearly, the bonfire was located in Antarctica. 
 Mekonen and Kendall. He loves this girl. I love how her arms are tucked up right underneath his. Hehe. 
 MMMmmmm....apples and caramel.
 Mekonen LOVES to wrestle with the boys. 
Carving their little pumpkins. 
 Clearly Evie thought her Jack-o-lantern was awesome. 
 And my favorite part...salt and pepper roasted pumpkin seeds. This was my favorite part about pumpkin carving as a kid! Good thing Daddy and Mekonen don't like them. More for me!


She's 18 Months!

My little lady turned 18 months on September 28th! So hard to believe! 
I can't believe all the personality, opinions, and "thoughts" she has for her young 1 1/2 years of life! We stop and say all the time, "I'm so glad she was a girl." We just love having a boy and girl and are so thankful our 2nd baby popped out a girl! It's been fun to watch this little one emerge into herself and see all the differences between girls and boys. Evie naturally gravitates towards more "girl" things and girl activities, even though she is surrounded by mostly boy toys. I even see her caring for these so called "boy toys" by putting things like dinosaurs and pirates in her baby stroller and pushing them around. Haha.

18 Things About You:
1. You weigh about 20 lbs and not sure how many inches! (We'll update after your 18 month appnt). 
2. You are wearing 18 months clothes and size 4-5 shoes. You LOOOOVE shoes and want to wear them all day long. Daddy took this picture of your shoe and said, "I fear the day that these will only represent a distant memory. Never thought my heart could be so softened by my little girl's shoes."
3. You still love your blankie! You don't go anywhere without it and you certainly don't sleep without it. To soothe yourself, you hold the corner right across your lips. 
3. You can almost always be found with some kind of hair accessory. This summer we were able to fit pigtails!!! Eeeek!!! Everyday I have to put a clip or bow in your hair to keep it out of your face. Every morning when I change you, you say,"Bow! bow!" as you point to your bow holder. This makes Mommy happy! haha. 
4. You are eating really well using utensils like a big girl. You started this several months ago. Your favorite vegetable is broccoli and you love to eat meat! You say "bup" for cup and say please and thank you. You are a great eater. 
5. You are a Daddy's girl through and through. When Daddy is around, Mommy doesn't matter! As soon as Daddy walks in the door, you are in his arms. If for some reason, he has to run back out the door you melt into tears. 
6. You definitely have a strong and feisty personality. When something isn't right in your little world, you definitely make it known. You are learning to control your temper tantrums when Mommy and Daddy say no, but still struggle with handling frustrations such as when you can't get a toy to work the way you want it to. For example: If your stroller gets stuck against something, you try and try to set it free, but if it doesn't happen, you grab it and shake the life of out, all while screaming. Yikes! I think we will forever be on a learning track for how to guide, train, and direct your determined personality into something really wonderful that will serve the Lord and bless others. 

Yep, one of those meltdowns. Apparently, you did not want to stand for the cousin picture. All the cousins look on as if none of them have ever had such a moment. Haha! 
Yep. That's my girl.
7. You LOVE babies! Most of your days are spent playing with your baby dolls. Of course anytime you see a real baby, you are mesmerized! You peek your head around infant carriers and strollers to see the sweet little baby inside. It's so cute. 
You take very good care of your babies and have picked up these things all on your own. You walk around carrying your doll "like a baby" and say "shh, shh, shh." You put your baby on your shoulder and pat her back, and have a good old time pushing her around in your stroller and trying to change her diaper, wiping and all! It's too cute. 
8. At 18 months, you finally outgrew your infant carrier and graduated to a big girl car seat. You were all giggly and smiley being able to sit forward and see everything. (Although here you were cranky). 
9. You love horses. We saw them at the state fair and then on your donut date with Daddy, he brought you to see some. Anything that looks bigger than a dog is called a "horsey." You even sit on Macy's back and say, "Horsey!" I definitely did not grow up liking horses or playing with them. I guess living in the midwest does that to you baby girl! 
10. You LOVE dogs. Any dog you see calls for a loud, expressive "Doggy!!!!" If the dog is somewhat personal to you (a friend's dog, or one you are currently petting, you called it "Bacy" (which is how you pronounce Macy). You are always afraid Macy is going to grab your food and you say the same exact jibberish at the dog every time. The only thing we can make out in the sentence is "Bacy" and "no." The rest, we have no idea. But it's the same jibberish every time! 
11. Books, books and more books! I hope you stay my little bookworm. If you aren't playing with your babies, you are reading books. You sit and "read" through the book with crazy expression and voice infliction. It's hysterical. 
You like to read books in your bed at bedtime, just like big brother Mekonen. You favorite books are Carl the dog books, McDuff the dog books, and Sandra Boynton books.
12. You have great fine motor skills and love to color. You usually even hold the pencil correctly! 

14. You love your brother and get the biggest smile on your face when you see him. We pray daily for the bond you and Mekonen will share for a lifetime...that it will be one that both of you cherish and holds you up in the storms of life. He loves you baby girl. 
15. You are an explorer at heart! You play independently so well and especially love wandering around outside in nature. 
16. You are one tough cookie! Often times, after playing outside or at the park, I get you strapped into your seat and realize your little knees are scraped up and bleeding and I never knew! Either this makes me a bad mom, or you a tough kid! :) But you don't usually cry when you get knocked down and bumped into. 
17. Whenever we listen to our kids hymn CD in the car, you raise your hands and wave them. It's so cute. Our Jesus praisin', hand-raisin' tot! 
18. It seems every kid has something that the parents do or say to get them smiling for a picture. With Mekonen, we used to sing "The Wheels on the Bus," and for you, I just say, "ZZZzzzzzip!!!!!" For some reason it makes you laugh and laugh. I started saying that when I zip up your jammies and now whenever I say it, you smile and laugh. 

We love you baby girl and are so thankful that God has blessed us with your life. You are teaching us so much! 


How To: Family Devotions

I've had a few friends ask me about when and how we do family devotions/Bible teaching with Mekonen. Like I wrote about in Cultivating Teachable Moments, many of our conversations happen along the way of life as we are trying to help Mekonen understand who Jesus is and the Gospel. Often times, those conversations are focused in and around his daily life living under our authority and working towards living in harmony with his sister.

However, we wholeheartedly believe in intentional, purposeful parenting, that also sets the stage for those conversations to happen. Because we believe parents are called to be the primary disciplers of their children, we want to instill a regular family devotional time (or whatever you want to call it), where that atmosphere it lived.

In talking with friends, a set time for "family devotions" is not always easy to come by. Even if you don't have a lot of kids, bedtime often varies from child to child, evening activities vary, and the like. Since our kids are small, we still read to them out of an age appropriate Bible before bed, pray and sing with them. As they grow up, we plan on cultivating that into a time of guiding and teaching them to read and study the Bible on their own. However, this is not the family building time, with everyone together. We took the advice of a pastor we really enjoy and respect and started doing family devotions at dinnertime.

Here's a little bit of what this pastor has to say on this topic:
"Dinner is one of the great highlights of my day. Why? Because I get to sit in my home with the woman I love, laughing, chatting, and eating with our five children whom we deeply love and enjoy. Every time I sit at the table with my family I am reminded of the words of Psalm 128:3–4, which says, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.” As Scripture says, I am blessed. Some months ago we started a new tradition at the Driscoll dining table that has also been a blessing. We struggled to find a way to do regular family devotions with five children of different ages and attention spans. Dinner Bible discussions led by Grace and me have been a huge hit. Every time we sit down for dinner the dinner Bible is in its place on the table, opened to the section of Scripture we will discuss that evening. The younger kids are able to handle longer and more reflective discussions when their hands are busy as they eat. Also, with the casual conversation over dinner I have noticed that everyone gets an opportunity to speak as we take turns chewing our food, and our dinners last longer than they had before because everyone is engaged. The following steps are offered based upon my experience with our children over dinner. These steps are intended to help direct theological discussions between parents and their children while also building the children’s theological vocabularies so that they are increasingly familiar with biblical concepts.

Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly.
Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion.
Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for.
Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to pray aloud.
Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went.
Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age
appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the
Bible to the assigned text and read it aloud while everyone is eating
and listening.
Step 7. Have a discussion about the text, what it means, etc. If your children are young, there are many great resources on going through a book of the Bible, or text of Scripture with your children. 
Step 8. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them.
Step 9. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family, and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’ work in your life and your need for him too, which demonstrates gospel humility.
Step 10. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you.
Do not feel bound by any questions or pressured to follow the steps too rigidly. Follow the Spirit’s leading and don’t be a religious parent who is rigidly inflexible, thereby making this sort of thing something they must be do in duty rather than something they get to do in delight. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable. 

For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. 

For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other, thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. 

In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world. Be sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories."

So with a 3 and 1 year old, this is what this time looks like in our house. In the middle of our table we have the Jesus Storybook Bible, My 1st Book of Questions and Answers by Carine Mackenzie, and The Gospel Project cards from our church's children's ministry. One of us reads a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible and then we all talk about it. We try to go in order through the book, but sometimes, Mekonen's love for David and Goliath wins out. :) 
After that we go through a couple of the catechism questions in My 1st Book of Questions and Answers. 
Then we review the Gospel Project cards. These are a great resource that our church gave us that have picture cards for the timeline of the Bible starting in Genesis. The front of the card has the Bible story art that the kids would have seen in children's ministry while learning the Bible story. It includes a Scripture reference to read the story again with your child in the Bible (or you can read the same story in their age appropriate Bible like "The Jesus Storybook Bible"). The back of the card has the big picture questions and answer they learned that week. (For example with the creation story is the "catechism" question/answer, "Who made everything?" God made everything). Then there is a Jesus connection point  that helps connect Jesus to the Bible story. 
Important point to remember: We don't use the Bible as moral stories of do this and don't do that, or be like this Bible character and not like that Bible character. That simply fuels the already present default of our hearts towards works righteousness. Instead, we speak over and over about God's love, mercy, and grace- how we are sinners and deserve God's punishment, how God's law/rules do not make us good, but they just show us how sinful we are and that we need Jesus to make us good. Throughout the entire Bible, the message of the Gospel can be seen.... that if we take Jesus' goodness as our own, God looks upon as being perfectly obedient, no matter how many times we disobey. Now that is good news, and certainly something worthy of every day conversation!