Fall Family Updates

We spent last weekend at Grand Lake with college friends and it was the deep calm breath we all needed this fall. And of course, amazing Stephanie Ferris was there to catch all the magical moments on camera when the sun started to set.

I thought it might be fun to share the pictures with some fall family updates along with them.

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As we get closer to Abigail’s arrival, Josh has assumed most dish duty, laundry switching duty, and Sonic runs for his cranky wife at 10 pm because I can’t survive without Sonic ice water. He’s the best hubs, dad, boss, and friend in the world and I am just so glad he’s all mine.

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I dont know that a better, more all-encompassing picture of Bitty has ever been taken. Those freckles, that strawberry hair, she takes our breath away. Lydia is in full-swing with half-day Kindergarten. Her favorite parts are seeing Ruth at recess, laughing with new friends, and learning her letter sounds. Her least favorite part is the dress code/uniforms. For a girl who is highly sensory-sensitive, wearing socks, tennis shoes, and polos everyday is torture! But we are so proud of her leaning in to her weaknesses and trusting God for strength. She is impatiently awaiting Abbi’s arrival and can’t wait to get to snuggle her a few hours each day before Ruth gets home. Ha! And her thoughtfulness continues to be one of the sweetest things about her. You can always count on Lydia to give you a shoulder rub and an honest compliment.

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Our Ruth Mae. She is advancing in gymnastics quickly and prefers to cartwheel instead of walk everywhere she goes. She loves second grade and she’s enjoying that her teacher plays the guitar and sings. She always comes home with a song in her heart. She takes her spelling tests super seriously each week and loves to practice her words, which is funny because I don’t think she’s spelled a word wrong yet this year! We love her when her silly side comes out these days. And she still loves being big sister. She walks Lydia into her classroom every single day and she comes home from school and immediately has Micah on her hip the rest of the evening.

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This was one of the only shots we got of our ornery, always on the go little boy and its the perfect display of the feisty face he gives people. Micah is soooooo darn fun right now. His vocabulary has EXPLODED. He loves to say “Thank you mama.” “Love you mama.” and of course “NO mama!” He talks about Abbi and prays for her all the time. He’s so excited to be big brother. The highlights of his day are when he convinces his sisters to jump on the trampoline with him and when he sneaks out of bed at night to climb into Mom and Dad’s bed. He always has a weapon on hand to fight monsters and his favorite show is Duck Tales.

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Sweet Abigail Grace. 11 weeks until we are planning on meeting her. She kicks all day every day and I really enjoy feeling her move around, except when she launches a foot into my ribs for hours on end. The kids laugh that she hates chicken because even the smell of chicken this pregnancy makes me gag endlessly. The kids also have fun laughing with me at my slower pace and cranky/emotional moments. Its really fun having them join in on the silly side effects of pregnancy and helping me laugh at myself. Every single time I open social media, an ad for OPAL ICE MACHINES pop up because I just want one sooooo badly that I search them often. (PS. Its not happening. They are like five hundred bucks.) We can’t imagine what life will be like soon with four kids but we are so excited to find out.

 

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Let’s not be surprised when…

I get to speak at a Olathe MOPS group this month and I had so much fun reviewing my talk for it. As always, working through a topic is always one hundred times more helpful for me than it is for anyone else that might hear it. Sitting down and hashing out some things, pen to paper, always helps me hide away with God while He reminds me gently of some areas I need to keep growing.

One of Josh and I’s goals when we started our parenting journey was to parent our kids without using shame as a tactic to shift their behavior. We wanted to use love, prayer, God’s Word, safety, and security to woo them with the love of Jesus. Sure there is conviction from the Holy Spirit, but it turns out, all I can do is point my kids to the better way, the more narrow way, I can’t force their hearts into wanting it. Heck, Jesus is still working on my heart to want to take the narrow way most days because the wider path of self-centeredness is always so much easier. As we entered the crazy journey of parenting we wanted to leave the Holy Spirit’s job all up to Him.

Then we had kids and realized most of our best laid plans were laughable when a naked kid was karate kicking us because they didn’t want the clothes we chose for them, or a kiddo was barfing on the kitchen table at the mere thought of trying a dreaded green bean. Our standards and plans were still there but this time we were in the game, trying to learn the ropes while we were getting tackled and pummeled by real Mom and Dad life.

So in the tough moments, instead of steering clear from shaming my kids, I find myself yelling, “Ruth Mae/Lydia Joy/ Micah Joshland, what are you thinking!?!?!” Or, in a wild moment I shout at them about their behavior and how its ruining the day. Am I super embarrassed by my own actions and word choices? YES MA’AM! So hold off on the comments with the parenting books I should read, I get it, I’m a mess of a mom.

But, I am so grateful for the way the Holy Spirit has worked on me in the hard seasons of parenting. His ways are gentle, loving, and tender. Does he still discipline and convict me? Sure thing. But there’s no surprise there when I fail him. He isn’t shocked by my sin and yelling “Madison Mae, what were you thinking?!?!”. He’s holding me, saying, “I know, that’s why I came. You can’t do it alone. I never meant for you to. I would love to revive that cold part of your heart.”

In response to God’s insane outpouring of grace on me, my favorite thing to get to say to my kids in their rough moments is this: “Me too.”

I know you lied just now because you didn’t want to have to try that green bean, and it was wrong of you to tell a lie. But do you know what? Me too. I struggle with lying too. Just this week, I lied to Daddy to make myself sound better. Do you know who we can trust for forgiveness and ask to rescue us from our lies?

I saw the way you spoke so harshly to your sister just now. You sounded like you didn’t even love her. Me too. I hear myself speak so harshly to you kids. I struggle with self centeredness and wanting y’all to do things my way. I lose my patience too. Do you know who came and lived the perfect life that we can’t live? Jesus. And he did it so we could know his perfect love and he could save us from our harsh ways. Let’s ask Him for help.

Hey, I love when you help me cook but when you crack and egg too early and dump the flour everywhere you are choosing not to trust God for patience. I get that. Me too. I chose that earlier when I yelled at you kids for moving too slowly. I wasn’t trusting Him for patience. Do you know what the Holy Spirit loves to fill us with when we ask? Patience!

Here’s to all the Moms and Dads struggling today. Let’s not be surprised by our kids when they mess up or when they act like….kids! Let’s give them the gift of saying, “Me too!” and going together to the throne of grace to ask for help whenever we need it!

And here’s a few pictures from our grace-needy home lately. Because when I’m lying awake in the middle of the night feeling Abigail kick, my favorite thing in the world is going through old blog posts and watching these little treasures grow up right before my eyes.

IMG_0263We had a “no” weekend last weekend. Our answer to every activity that wasn’t restful was ‘no’. We needed it so badly. And we walked away so refreshed. IMG_0293Micah is my constant cooking helper and my constant reminder to grow in patience. The boy is HANDS ON! IMG_0290The girls helped me decorate for fall last week. Their new picture is hanging in the bathroom and they are so proud.IMG_0334How is he so grown??!?! This boy loves his bike. IMG_0314We are soaking up every minute of nice weather this month and enjoying all of Dad’s hard work on the yard. He’s transformed it from a weedy dandelion filled mess, to a retreat for us and all our students to hang out in!

Thanks for stopping by and reading about the messy lessons we are learning lately! I sure am thankful for everyone who takes time to link arms with our family as we journey together.

Sweet September means 1 thing… It’s time for Send Joy!

This morning I made a very special announcement in our house. As my kids groggily got dressed for school, I was singing through the house announcing that it is officially sweet September! Wooooo! August is like the dreaded Sunday of Summer, everyone is anxiously preparing for their upcoming school year. For us August is packed with fun but it’s also super overwhelming. Y’all, the crazy is over and sweet September is finally here. This means a few things for us:
IMG_0132The big girls in the Fieleke house are officially back in school and Mama says AMEN. fullsizeoutput_31eaMy house is full of college students again and I am real happy about that. IMG_0218My yard is occasionally full of college students too and its not smoldering hot so thats a big bonus!
IMG_0249Josh and I are back in the groove of work and we get to spend our days talking to students about Jesus. We love our job. IMG_0253Micah is taking me on all the breakfast dates because sometimes Mom (and Abigail) just really need a cinnamon roll to survive the day.

But there is one last fabulous thing about Sweet September – It is time for Send Joy!!! 2 years ago I started a gift box swap during September for all my girlfriends. It was birthed from the idea that some friends and I had because we wanted to slow down and savor September after the crazy of August had passed. That sweet feeling you get when you go out to check the mail and there is a package with your name on it, is the ABSOLUTE BEST! So every September, I open Send Joy for the first 100 people who sign up to participate!

Here’s the big idea: This swap is open to the first 100 people to sign up now through September 4. On September 5, I will email you the name & address of someone in the swap and I will email someone else your name and address. You have about 2 weeks to put together a gift box to Send Joy to someone else in the swap. When your box is complete, you will toss it in the mail to whomever you get assigned to send one. I will send a reminder email to everyone on September 15 that it is the last day to send your box.

That means this month you will have the opportunity to Send Joy to another woman, who like you & I, is fighting to find sweet moments to savor, in the midst of some of our real-life messiness! How fun is this!?!?! And if all goes according to plan, you will walk out to your mailbox one day this month to find a box full of joy waiting for you!

So what do people put in their Send Joy boxes? Here are some fun ideas I grabbed off Instagram of boxes that people sent out last year (we use the hashtag #sendjoy to track the fun!):

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Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 9.44.37 AMI love when people include personal notes full of encouragement, even though they are usually being sent to a stranger!

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Your Send Joy box can have anything in it! Its the thought that counts. It is just so fun! we get to be women who Send Joy to a complete stranger and declare that MIGHTY WOMEN LOVE TO LOVE EACH OTHER!

So if you are still with me and thinking, YES I AM IN!!!… let me answer some questions you might have, and then I will tell you how to get your name on the list…

How much do I spend on my Send Joy box? I suggest between around 15-20 dollars before shipping, but feel free to use your creative skills to hand make items to save money! Just remember that you are trying to make someone’s day with the box you send.

How do I guarantee that I will get one in return? Ugh, I hate to say it but there is no guarantee. But I believe with all my heart that there is tons of joy in the giving! And as long as everyone actually follows through on their commitment, you will get one in the mail this month! (over the last few years, I have had very few people not follow through)

What if I get really excited but I’m not the most reliable person at follow through? Please don’t sign up. Girl, you do you and bring a neighbor some flowers. For real though, if you haven’t actually been to a post office in 10 years, save yourself the struggle and someone else the disappointment by not participating.

How will I know what the person I am assigned to Send Joy to will like? You won’t, but thats kind of the fun of it. Just put together a box that screams joy to you and I’m sure we will all love whatever we get in return. And for sure include a sweet note with warm wishes to your recipient! And post fun pics on social media using #sendjoy so we can all share the love.

You still with me??? Here’s how to sign up for the Send Joy September gift box swap:

  1. Send me an email right now with #SENDJOY in the subject line. And put your first name, last name, AND MAILING ADDRESS in the message. My email address is madison.fieleke@cru.org 
  2. I will email you by September 5 with a name & address that you are assigned to make a box and Send Joy to. Check your spam if you don’t get one from me by then.
  3. Assemble your Send Joy box and send it as soon as you want to or as late as September 15. I will send out one reminder email. Don’t procrastinate. They all need to be sent by September 15.
  4. Try to wait patiently as you check the mail every day! Eeeek!
  5. When you get your package, send a thank you note, or post a picture on social media with #sendjoy so we can share the joy!

 

(I will post an update in this post at the bottom when the swap is full and closed – So assume that its not and email me now!)

 

Friends, I am so excited! If you are joining me, make sure to share the link to this with friends on Facebook or Insta so your friends can jump in too. Oh, this is going to be so much fun! 

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Ok, I’m off to TJ Maxx to shop for my Send Joy box! YAY!

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SEND JOY sign up is closed for 2017. If you signed up, check your email from me on Sept. 5th and you should get your assignment! Email me if you don’t get assigned anyone but first check your spam or trash folder! Love, Maddi 

Together is my favorite place to be

IMG_1259Now that my kids are school aged, every May I get so excited about summer. I told my friends this year, “Our lives won’t feel so fragmented now! My kids are home and we get to do life as a family unit again. Even things like grocery shopping or making cookies are more fun when we do them as a family.” And I truly do soak in every mundane, glorious minute of summer with them.

But its now nearing the end of August. School starts this week for my oldest two. And you know what? It is time for them to GO. The bickering, the boredom, the insane activities they come up with to terrorize the house and their pregnant sleepy mother. Be gone children! The other day, I took only two of the kids grocery shopping and I was living my best life. I am only half serious, of course, and the other half of me will still shed a tear or twenty when they go off to kindergarten and second grade on Wednesday because it all goes by so quickly.

I’ve been thinking about summer and how sweet it is to regroup together and find a slower rhythm, and then how great it is to launch our kiddos back into the world each Fall to become more of who they are made to be as individuals. Our summer family time is like a respite from the chaos of the crazy, hard, messy world. We spend time laughing and dancing and resting. We go on family walks most night with popsicles and talk about the silly parts of our day and the serious things like building our character.

Earlier this month, my best friend, Stephanie Ferris (of the amazing, Ferris Wheel Photography) did a lifestyle shoot for us. We didn’t even talk about it before hand but I was hoping that she would capture the essence of our summer. And she did just that!  Summer to me is family time. I was hoping for pictures that etched into memories the substance of our family of 6 (with sweet Abigail still growing in me) living out our normal routine that just happen to include tons of time soaking each other in.

Before I share any pictures, I need to give some disclaimers: 1. I cleaned my house for 3 hours before the shoot. In all fairness, I don’t mind not looking back in ten years at the dust bunnies around the floorboards. 2. Even though she totally caught pictures of us living our normal lives, I am usually wearing Josh’s boxer briefs while these things are taking place. The kids think I am nuts, but they are the only thing that is comfortable around my big baby belly,  but they didn’t seem entirely appropriate for a photo shoot. 3. If you wonder where I got any of our furnishings or decorations, you can assume garage sales, thrift stores, or hand me downs. I really love turning other people’s trash into treasures.

Ok, I’m glad I got those things off my chest! Now, here are some of my favorite pictures from the shoot:IMG_1217IMG_1211IMG_1253IMG_1255IMG_1275IMG_1207IMG_1204IMG_1243IMG_1250IMG_1284IMG_1286IMG_1291IMG_1296IMG_1300IMG_1315IMG_1303IMG_1078IMG_1144IMG_1105IMG_1119IMG_1121IMG_1137IMG_1102IMG_1035IMG_1041IMG_1046IMG_0981IMG_0992IMG_0995IMG_1006IMG_1011IMG_1016IMG_1020IMG_1030IMG_1022IMG_0912IMG_0918IMG_0924IMG_0941IMG_1075IMG_0975IMG_0976

Thanks for taking time to look through our pictures! If you are interested in booking Steph for a shoot, you can find her here. When I asked her about what she loves about lifestyle shoots, she said,

” I love this type of photography the most because I feel like I am capturing the small moments. They don’t feel special at the time but they are the memories that we want in the future. I always want to remember how my daughter’s legs were so pudgy before she started to walk, how my son looked so peaceful when he was reading or even what my husband and I looked like snuggled up on the couch together while all craziness broke lose around us in the form of toys and legos and children running around. Those are the  moments I love to photograph. Real life moments. The moments my heart will ache for decades down the road. There is a time and place for cute matching outfits for family portraits but I will always treasure the fun pictures of day to day life of my kids wearing super hero capes and masks jumping off furniture.”

I couldn’t love Ste’s photography style more!!! I just know that I will look back on these pictures longingly in September, ok maybe not until October, and remember the sweet family time we get during the summer.

For this afternoon, I am thinking of all the Momma’s and Daddy’s sending their babes off to school with mixed feelings! Half of us wanting to kick them in the rear on the way out the door for all the days they refused to sleep in or all the times they ate chocolate everywhere but the kitchen tables, and the other half wanting to lock them in the house forever and soak up their sweetness!

 

And then there were six!

When we found out we were pregnant with our Ruth, we were over the moon excited. We were the first of our friend group to have a baby and honestly, we were naive as all get out. We sailed through our pregnancy with her never stopping much to consider the miracle that it is to carry a healthy baby to term.

Same with our sweet Lydia. Sure there was some fear knowing that I was having another C-Section but most of the of the time we took for granted how amazing the gift of life was while pregnant with our second daughter.

When we lost Macy, our third pregnancy, we had just watched our dear friends lose a daughter. We were walking with other friends through the indescribable pains of infertility and struggling to carry a pregnancy to term. We grieved that we wouldn’t hold our baby on this side of eternity. Our naivety was gone. We now knew, with the certainty that only hard experiences could bring, that only God can open wombs, create life, sustain life, bring redemption when life is lost, and give us hope for the wait.

God restored our hope on our journey to become parents to our sweet Micah. We watched the way His plan for our life unfolded and it was indeed exceedingly, abundantly more than we could have asked for or imagined.

We said we were done birthing biological children. Little did we know that God had another surprise for us. Exceedingly, Abundantly more. We are now 12 weeks pregnant with our surprise baby. And while we make this announcement with utter joy, gratitude, and delight, we also make it knowing the pain that a pregnancy announcement will bring to many dear friends still waiting with hope. We are praying for so many of you today.

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When I was 7 weeks pregnant, I went into the ER fearing an ectopic pregnancy because of some severe cramping I was experiencing. The docs confirmed that a sonogram would be the best way to navigate through the problem. As a sweet, innocent, 20 something volunteer walked me down to the ultra sound, she looked at my eyes and said, “Are you scared?” I was honestly shocked by what came out of my mouth, “No, we’ve tasted and seen God’s goodness in our family. He gives and he takes away and nothing we’ve walked through has ever been wasted.”

She then asked if I was a mormon and thats why we were having so many kids….ha! In that moment, I rejoiced that God has been teaching my heart one of the hardest lessons. We are holding our sweet baby with open hands. And we are enjoying the celebration of life we get to have each day while our littles have begun dreaming up names. Thanks for celebrating with us and we of course appreciate your prayers for this little one!

Love, The Fieleke Six

The single best choice I’ve made all summer….

Y’all, the snacking game around the Fieleke house has always been quite impressive. And now that summer is here, we’ve reached a whole new level of snacking strong. My kids would prefer to have exactly 64 snacks a day. Not kidding. These memes are totally on point…

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About 2 days into summer break I was about to lose my ever loving mind.

In all seriousness, I’ve realized lately that I no longer have tiny babies who need served day and night. We are making a strong effort to start to give our kids age appropriate responsibilities. Not only does this allow me to not jump up immediately every time they ask for a drink, “No, I will not get you milk but you are welcome to pour yourself a glass of milk as long as you make sure to put it away and clean up any messes.” Obviously, we still get Micah milk, or better yet, the girls help too! But I am also loving the way they are learning that being a part of a family means helping with chores, serving each other, and putting others before ourselves.

The solution: we are rocking two charts this summer. The girls have a daily chore chart for the first time ever. If they get 100% of their chores done that week, they will get the pre-agreed-upon reward on Sunday. So far rewards have included Mommy and Daddy dates with kiddos and sitting on stools instead of chairs at dinner time (I have no idea why this is so appealing to them!)

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Don’t mind the wiggly stool in this video, we have since found a better option : )

But the chart that has forever changed my life for the better is this – our snack chart!

Here’s the deal. Each kid is allowed three snacks a day. The pictures are some ideas of good snacks but they have the freedom to choose a giant marshmallow or a handful of chocolate chips if they want. I don’t like those choices, but personal responsibility is the name of the game. After they have had their three snacks, they are allowed fruits and vegetables without limit. Other than that, the only option is eating whats on the table at  meal time.

IMG_9129   Day 1 they had gobbled down their three snacks by about noon. What followed was 8 hours of utter starvation and choking down carrot sticks begrudgingly. Now the big girls, at least, have learned to spread out their snacks and fill the gaps with yummy fruits and veggies. (Lets be real, Micah gets all the snacks because he’s cute and snuggly and two. Also he adores fruits and veggies so its not really an issue with him.) And I have had to listen to exactly zero whining from the girls about snacks for almost 2 weeks.

Y’all, I’m grateful you take the time to read our blog. And I want you to have the summer of every mom’s dreams. So here is the free download for your very own snack charts:

Snack Chart

Enjoy, friends! And happy snacking!

Toddlers, Unicorns, and Mermaids – Oh My!

Our crazy month of 3 birthdays has come to an end. May 5, Micah turned two. May 11, Lydia turned 5. And June 3, Ruth turned 7! We are tired but our hearts are so full. Josh and I still feel like the luckiest people in the world that we get to be these three awesome kiddo’s parents!

In our family, the kids get a birthday party with friends every other year, and on the off years, we celebrate a little smaller (and cheaper) as a family. This year was Micah’s year off, so we had a low-key bbq with some family and he loved it. At one point he broke out the water gun and attacked some of us. We couldn’t love this sweet boy more if we tried. We are crazy about our silly monkey of a two year old. While I type this, he is trying to ride an inflatable donkey while sitting on top of the coffee table. Pray for us! ha.

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Lydia Joy has never wanted a b-day party, let alone a b-day cake. She doesn’t love the spotlight. But as God has grown her and she is conquering her fears, this year she got super excited about inviting some friends over for a Unicorn Pizza Party. It was so fun!

Our favorite memories of the night were watching her enjoy her friends and letting us celebrate her. A bunch of 5-8 year olds running around with tails and unicorn horns was pretty adorable too! Lydia is such a faithful daughter, sister, and friend. She is easy to delight in!

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And somehow our little baby Ruth is already 7. I sure wish time would slow down a little bit. She only wanted a pool party. She had no second options. A pool party it must be she said. Of course, she doesn’t understand that Mom and Dad can’t easily afford a pool party at the city pool with all of her friends. And Jesus provided! Sweet partners of our ministry graciously allowed us to use their backyard pool! Every time I start to forget that my God cares about every single detail of our lives and desire of our hearts, He sweetly reminds me.

Ruth’s party was so fun! She chose an under the sea theme, so we bought a few inflatables and called it a day. Her friends showered her with the most thoughtful presents and we loved watching Ruth love on the people who came. One of my favorite parts of the party was when she included Auntie Ste and her littles, her babysitter Ali, and our sweet C, Micah’s first mom on her list of invites. She loves to love her people well!

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