Sunday, November 22, 2015

Joel is 3 months!

Look at this sweet little fellow who was 3 months old yesterday!  That's 1/4 of the year!
Baby Joel is becoming more and more alert and loves to watch his big brothers play and be silly.
And clearly knows how to work the lip!
He loves to play in his little baby gym and chat with his animal friends.
He's growing like a little weed-- currently wearing size 6 months clothes, and we had to change the adjustments/rise on his cloth diapers and also change the height of his straps in his car seat this month.
He has been sleeping well, and loves to snuggle with Momma and is exclusively fed on Momma's milk.  (No turkey this year!)
Our sweet little love bug is such a chill little man and an incredible blessing to our family.  We LOVE watching the little man grow!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Operation Christmas Child

Our kids are so incredibly blessed.  God provides for all of our needs and He also has blessed us with a little extra to cover our wants, and at Christmas time we are able to spoil our babies just a little bit.  It doesn't happen all year, but we do get to splurge for christmas and birthdays.  It hasn't always been like that, and Daniel and I are incredibly grateful, and we pray that our kids learn an attitude of gratitude, and I want them to know that giving is far greater than receiving.  

They got a little taste of this at Halloween with trick or treaters.  We walked a lap around our neighborhood trick or treating ourselves and then headed home to hand out to trick or treaters.... Leeland sat on the stairs at the front door watching the door like a hawk for trick or treaters to come.  He and Hayden would bounce around and get all sorts of excited before shouting, "There are people coming, get the candy ready!" as they filled their hands with candies to load up the trick or treater's bags.  It was so wonderful to see their smiling faces on both ends of the spectrum when they were receiving the candy and also handing it out.  

Christmas however can sometimes be a little bit more of a battle when it comes to learning about gratitude.  Christmas tends to come with an "expectation" of receiving gifts.... and with so much of our family local and so much of our family taking great joy in spoiling our babies just like we do, they end up getting gifts every night for nearly a week as we travel to each house for celebrations.  Don't get me wrong, these are friends and family that we adore and love so much, and we are blessed to have them, and are so grateful that they love on our babies so much, but we just don't want the kids to get the wrong idea.  We want them to know that Christmas is about so much more.  First about the greatest gift the world ever received, Jesus, and also that there can be so much joy in giving to others!

One of the ways that we can teach them about giving is through Operation Christmas Child.  Being able to visually see a shoebox and fill it with items for a child somewhere far off who doesn't have.  We picked up the shoeboxes from church early in November, and as I folded them together that night, Leeland said, "That's such a small box!"  Yes.  Yes, son, it is.  It is such a small box and for a child somewhere out in the world, this is probably going to be their ONLY gift at Christmas.  I want our boys to know how blessed they are, and I want them to know how important it is to help others when we are capable, and I want them to do it all with the love of Jesus!

"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." 

-Robert Pierce

Daddy Kroh decided to stretch us this year.  I love his faith and his giving heart-- he's always been such a great leader to our family when it comes to giving.  In years past when we have participated with OCC, we have done 1 box as a family.  This year as we headed out of church, Daddy Kroh said we needed to get 3 boxes.  

One box for each of our children to fill.  We decided to let them pick what child they would give the box to. (OCC lets you pick boy or girl and then an age range.)  And then once they picked that, we headed out to the store to help them find good stuff to fill their boxes up with.  Here's what we ended up with....

Boxes for 3 boys!  We opted to pay for the shipping online and print our labels from there so that they have tracking on them.  With our own personal tracking number, we will get an email of where the boxes ended up.  We did this with one box a couple years ago and it went to Haiti!  I'm excited to hear where these land and now that Leeland has a better understanding of geography, be able to show him on a map where they go.  
Inside the boxes was tough-- you can only fit so much in a shoebox and being a Mom, I'm so torn between practical and fun giving so we did our best to have a mix of both.

All 3 boxes have the same contents with only 1 modification for the one box we chose to be for a younger child.  Our boys are on a Star Wars kick so we couldn't get out of the store without having something Star Wars in there, and we happened to find some really cute tin lunch boxes that were Star Wars in the Target dollar spot.  The boys went nuts for them.  (And we may have grabbed 2 more to hide away for them for Christmas.)  Anyway, the one box for the smallest child has wooden blocks in the tin, and the other two boxes have match box cars in the tin.  The rest of the contents are plastic cup, bowl and eating utensils, wash cloth, Ivory soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, bell maracas, Coloring packs with crayons and stickers, notepads with pencils and eraser and sharpener and of course the lunch box style tins that the child can store whatever they'd like in.  

Before closing them up I added in one of our family photo Christmas cards.  (Yes, I've already printed our Christmas cards!)  I wrote our address on the back of the envelope in hopes that we might hear from one of the families and then I had Leeland write on the front of the envelope.  He wrote, "Merry Christmas. Jesus loves you."  We loaded everything up into the boxes and then had to secure the lids down with rubber bands because they were pretty full.   
And then we dropped them off at church!  Oh how I pray that our boys understand how great it is to give!  I pray so hard that they grow up to love God and to love people, and I am so thankful for Operation Christmas Child and that it can be just one small way to love on others but also a tool to talk to our kids about giving and about sharing the love of Jesus to others.