I’m thankful for . . . Part 4

So, I bet you thought I had forgotten about the little “mini-series” I started back around Thanksgiving. The one I was calling “I’m thankful for . . .”?? It’s likely after all this time that YOU forgot about it! I didn’t forget, really. It’s just that life kind of tripped me up and distracted me. It has a habit of wrapping me up in it, life does, and I have a hard time stepping back to take a moment to write down the things bouncing around in my head. Oh, but there are so many things to write.

Anyhoo, back to the subject matter of this post. Marissa Lynn, the 4th child in our line up of offspring. Our “Rissa-Roo”. Or “Riss”. Often just “Roo”. Short little names for such a big heart in a little package. Marissa is complicated. Oh my, is she ever difficult to sum up. But I’m going to do my best, and tell you 5 things I love best about her. Well, they may not be what I love *best*. Because tomorrow I’ll likely think of things I may love more and it’s kind of hard to narrow it down to just 5, but these came to mind the quickest and so they’re what’s going down.

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#1 — Her water runs deep. You know, due to her speech delays at an early age, people would often make the mistake of thinking she couldn’t understand what THEY were saying just because she couldn’t SAY what she was thinking. But she was taking it all in. And still does. She’s computing and paying attention and analyzing. She’s thinking quickly and converses with people. I mean, answers questions and then asks some back. A genuine conversation, with such a little person. It’s beautiful. I’m often so amazed at what comes out of her mouth after such times. “I feel sad that . . . “ and “When [so and so] said [such and such], I thought in my head ‘That’s not appropriate’.”   I just love her depth.

marissa with aunt ruth, grandot's party

#2 — She is feisty. Whew, is she ever! You do not want to get on her bad side. We’ve chuckled (and imitated) a recent phrase of hers, “You’re makin’ me mad!” Complete with hand motions and a face showing implosion is near! Don’t be alarmed. We’re working on self-control. ‘Cause self-control is a good thing to learn sooner than later. But I love what a fire-cracker, spitfire she is. It has served her well, and we have oft seen why God made her that way. She’s fought through early-childhood seizures, belly-aches, and tests and therapies and misunderstanding of her. She’s got spunk and attitude and we pray for wisdom to guide it. But we love that God put it there in her. She’s a ball of fun and wit.

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#3 — She’s thoughtful. I cannot get over how others-oriented she is; she has been from a very early age. About 4 years ago she took it upon herself to offer a glass of water to every visitor we ever had to our home. I remember the first time she did it. An older neighbor and I were standing in the driveway chatting about this and that, and she came out with a tall glass of water. We both looked down at her as she shoved it up towards him and smiled. You could have pushed him over with a feather! He was as surprised as I was. She said, “Some water for you.” It may have been warm water. It often was in those early days – she hadn’t yet mastered the faucet. But she learned to use cold water and add ice and *ask* if our guest(s) would like the water. And she serves just plain water in the most beautiful way.

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#4 — She loves Jesus. Pure and uncomplicated. It was long ago when I heard her crying in her bed late one night. When I asked her why, she told me it was because Jesus died on the cross and she was so sad that he had to do that. After a discussion, and prayer together, we made a little trip downstairs to tell daddy that she’d accepted Jesus into her heart. And man, has she been growing since. I wouldn’t call her a natural rule-follower, but she is sincere in her desire to do the right thing before the Lord. She is black and white about what her little heart knows about God’s word. And she’s not afraid to stand up for right. (See #2. I suggest you do as she says. You don’t want to make her mad.)

drink with mom 12.18.14

#5 — She works hard. Many things don’t come naturally to her. She has to work hard at life and learning. Lately, she’s said things like, “I can’t run as fast as the others.” And “I’m not good at reading.” Yep, both true. And when she was telling me about the neighborhood kickball game? “I was the last one to be picked . . .” My heart almost broke for her. Almost. But you know what I learned in that sweet, fleeting moment? She’s the strong one. Not me. My never-been-picked-last self doesn’t know what it’s like to push past that. So what’s a mom to say in moments when one’s adorable little heart walking around outside my body is saying things like that? I agree and say, “You don’t have to be the fastest. Or picked first. Or good at reading. You just have to do YOUR best. Because God made you just right exactly the way you are. And He loves you. And so do we!” And she seems good with that. So she keeps doing what she’s done since she was a tough little 6 pounder: fighting hard. Putting in effort. Day after day, whatever is before her. Giving HER best, even when it’s not THE best. And I just love that about her.

walking the mini 9.2014

Marissa

–Beth 🙂

P.S. If you missed the first 3 posts of this series, you can find them here, here, and here. Hint: they’re about our 3 older kids.

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Rocking ‘Riss.

We love our front porch rockers. Nothing like sitting in them with a mug of coffee, the ceiling fan on and the local tree frogs serenading. Rain or shine, it’s a nice place to be.

I’ve mentioned it previously: even before we moved our bodies into our new home, my dad had picked some rocking chairs out of the trash at the end of a neighbor’s driveway. What a treasure! He not only hauled them over to our new porch, but he put in his own sweat and time to paint them!

I casually mentioned I like the idea of black chairs. He gently informed me he wanted white chairs. They were his, after all. They’re just on loan to us while he’s not here. When he visits, they’ll be his. But I’m sure he’ll share.

In the meantime, Riss is keeping them from “rusting up”. And she’d love it if Grandad were here, rocking right next to her!

rocking riss

–Beth 🙂

P.S. I fessed up to the neighbor that it was we who took the chairs. She said she figured someone would take them, which is why she put them out. She had intended to refinish them herself, but got overwhelmed by other projects so she decided to abandon the idea. I know the feeling!

New set of wheels.

Down here in the land of the tropics, where all things in nature grow quickly and in plenty, a good mower is a must! In our effort to be as transportable as possible, we decided to find a mower in Florida, rather than haul one down all the way from Maryland. Ken’s brother has been loaning his to us weekly since our arrival. He would graciously continue to do so, but this good deal popped up for sale right in our own neighborhood:

new mower

 

We drove by it for over a week before stopping. Ken kept thinking that it wasn’t a large enough mower deck. However, the urge to pull over took over and we stopped in a few days ago. Turns out, it’s everything Ken had been looking for (except an over-50-inch-cutting-deck). We reasoned that since the operators of said machine will for the most part be under 5 feet tall, it was quite a suitable size.

new mower colenew mower halia

 

new mower dean

 

new mower riss

 

So we’re the new proud owners of a mower. Don’t worry, only those trusted and shown approved will be cutting the grass. Maybe 1 or 2 of those pictured above. 🙂

–Beth

 

First day of school.

What a day of mixed emotions! Jake started high school today! Actually, he pretty much started last week. But today was his official first day with Circle Christian School, a private home school academy where he’ll be taking classes twice a week. His classes are: Humanities (which includes Language Arts and American History, presented through a biblical worldview), a 3 hr. class; Biology, a 1.5 hr. class; and Algebra 1, a 1.5 hour class. Of course, his day will include a lunch break and a couple 10 min. breaks. It’s going to be a challenging year for him, based on what we see the in class overviews. I’m sure he’s up for the challenge! I really look forward to learning alongside him. He’ll have a few other subjects at home as well, altogether earning 7.5 credits for 9th grade.

Anyway, back to the mixed emotions part. It’s a complicated thing to be so proud and excited and sad at the same time. It seemed not too long ago that I was taking pictures of his first day of Kindergarten. Really, he’s the same sweet, sensitive and funny and thoughtful boy he was at 5. Just in a bigger package. We checked his height this morning; he’s grown over 1.5 inches just since April!

We’re so thankful for this young man in our family and are grateful for what the Lord is doing in his life. We look forward to seeing what special things lie in store for him in the future! We will miss him while he’s away 2 days per week, but feel much peace about where he is studying and what he is learning it makes it worth it.

august 2007 020jake 1st day 9th grade

First day of 2nd grade (Jake on the left, Cole on the right); First day of 9th grade. Super cute either way! 🙂

Keeping me on my toes still at home are 4 other “Maucklets” who look to me as their primary instructor – yikes! Although there is a desk in each of the rooms upstairs (girls’ and boys’), they all decided to work near each other at the new table in the dining/school room. I am loving the way the room is coming together and it’s so pleasant to be in that I happily agreed. (More on the room in another post). Marissa called out to everyone to give her a hand moving all the chairs from the kitchen table to the dining room table (since I don’t have the chairs refinished yet). It was sweet to observe them excitedly preparing the place they were going to be working.

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We all fit around it with room to spread books out a bit. And, it doubles as a cafeteria at lunch time:

first day school 2014

Dean initially said while sitting at the table early in the day, “I’m so excited to be starting school again!” I think the enthusiasm wore off by the end school time. The kids overall were eager learners. We got a visit from a wild visitor — a gopher turtle crossing the front yard — so we took a break to observe it closer.

gopher turtle

That led me to make studying gopher tortoises with Dean and Marissa our science for the day. After all, we do live in Florida now and should be familiar with the natural habitat. Here’s what they each dictated to me for the science journals:

“The gopher tortoise grows to 10-16 inches. They are a wild species. Do not touch them. They are endangered. The females have a flat bottom shell, and the males have a bump on theirs.” (Marissa)

“A gopher tortoise has strong legs for digging tunnels and holes. It can live as long as 100 years. Other animals find safety in the holes. When the eggs are in cooler temperatures, it hatches a male. If the temperature is warmer, it hatches a female.” (Dean)

Now you know a little bit about gopher turtles, too! Just what you’ve been dying to know, huh??!!

gopher turtle first day school

(That’s one of our kitty cats right next to the tortoise)

I wouldn’t say we accomplished a whole day’s worth of school, by any means. But we enjoyed our time and put up a good effort! So that’s good enough for a first day for me.

–Beth

P.S. Jake came home saying his day was OK — not bad and not great. First days can be like that. The setting was pretty overwhelming and he only knew (more like, recognized) one other person. And it was a girl. So it’s not like they hit it off. 🙂 But he has a positive attitude about it all and I appreciate that. He’ll know plenty of other kids in no time!