Gratituesday: Cherish the Moments. No, Seriously.

gratituesday[2]

Our family tradition started back in 2008 when the boys were all just little guys.  We’d make a list, walk the aisles of school supplies, and pick up crayons, markers, glue sticks, and paints.  We’d celebrate the upcoming school year by going out to lunch after our school supply shopping.  Year after year, we continued the tradition.

Would you look at these sweet young things?  The boys were 3, 6, 8, and 11 then.

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Now, at the beginning of our 2014-2015 school year, I asked the boys if they’d mind doing this for me one more time.  After all, it’s the beginning of Asa’s senior year.  Who cares that we didn’t need one measly school supply this year?  It’s been tradition for seven years in a row.  I needed this picture.

first day of school 2014 4

Thirteen years.  That’s how long we’ve been homeschooling.  Through the nursing baby years, the toddlers crawling all over our school books years, the learning to read years, the never can find a sharpened pencil years - we survived.

We are now in the algebra years, the reading novels and learning foreign languages years, the prep for the ACT years, and the what should I do after graduation years.  I do not know how we got here.  When did C.S. Lewis replace Curious George?  How did simple addition turn into roman numerals turn into geometry theorems?  How did my babies grow taller than me and become the ones who teach me how to use new software on the computer?

How I used to roll my eyes at the people who told me to “enjoy my boys while they are young because they grow up so fast.”  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Enjoy them and embrace this and cherish it all  blah, blah, blah because someday they’ll be grown up and I’ll miss those little years full of smeared snot and poop accidents and grocery cart tantrums.

The little years were long and hard and the snot and poop were ever-present and not something I wanted to document in the baby book.  I was cherishing and embracing, but you better believe I also moved mountains so that I could take an occasional trip by myself to the grocery store – where for thirty blissful minutes nobody needed me or pulled on my leg.

That was all good.  It’s okay that I found refreshment in the little slice of heaven that occurred while I waited to sack my groceries.  Raising babies and toddlers and preschoolers is incredibly difficult and without a doubt, sometimes it is just plain hard to embrace and cherish each moment.  Praise God for all the cute stuff that counteracts all the teething and tantrums.  Praise God for nap time.  Praise God for sticky kisses and grimy hugs and unconditional love from smiling baby faces.

It seems that I may have just thrown myself over into the other camp.  I am now that lady – the one who will tell you to enjoy them while they’re young.  (I totally give you permission to hate the poop accidents though.)

Those people – the ones that tell you how fast your kids will be all grown up?  They weren’t even kidding.  They were right – and if I was annoyed with them for saying it when my kids were little, now I’m just mad.  How dare they be right?  How is it that they said I would blink and they’d be grown?  They really meant it, and it really is true.  Somebody put on the brakes.  This has gone entirely too fast.

As our oldest son begins his senior year, I’ve learned anew what it means to cherish the moments.  This year is filled with a lot of “lasts.”  Oh but praise God – this is also the beginning of a lot of “firsts.”  Life doesn’t end as our kids grow older and launch the nest – but you’d better believe even the small and normal moments of life are a treasure to me like they never have been before.

We still have several years of parenting and schooling and guiding our kids along.  But the beginning of this school year signifies big changes for our family in the upcoming years.  What a story we’ll have to tell as we continue to experience God’s work in our lives.

You’d better believe – I’ll be cherishing this time for all its worth.

Please leave a comment to share what you’re grateful for this Gratituesday!

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Comments

  1. Deb says

    Starting our SEVENTEENTH and final year of homeschooling this year! I cannot believe it! We are starting late as she is flying back from Africa tomorrow. The days are long, but the years are short!

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    Laura Reply:

    Africa – that’s awesome! Matt and I went there for two months back in ’95. It was life changing for us. Hope your daughter has been blessed by her trip.

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    Kersten Reply:

    “The days are long but the years are short.” – Such truth in these words.

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  2. Lisa says

    I think I was one of those people….sorry. Just keep loving your husband……after all the kids are gone, he’s what’s left. You might want to still be best friends with him.

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    Laura Reply:

    Ha! You probably were, but you were very right! Here we are now with all these big kids. I’m loving it and looking forward to whatever comes next, just feeling a little sad that this season will be ending. You are so right about loving my husband – so important.

    Love and miss you!

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  3. Allison says

    We are about to start our first official year of homeschooling as our oldest starts kindergarten and our 2nd oldest starts preschool. The baby will be 1 in a couple of months. We will be asking you LOTS of questions. It is a little scary. New country. New house. New church. Officially starting homeschool after unschooling for about 2 years.

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    Laura Reply:

    We’re always open for questions! The beauty of homeschool is that it can look however God needs it to look for your family. If during all the transitioning it needs to continue to be more of the unschooling approach, then so be it. Your kids will be learning PLENTY during those months, with our without a math book and pencil. We’ll be praying for your transition. Looking forward to the blessing of you living right here in town!

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  4. Lana says

    I am grateful for a close and loving relationship with my husband. It is what is left after the children leave home. I am seeing parents in a panic as they approach the empty nest and it should not be that way. If you have done your job well then you will know that your children will do well on their own. I am also seeing parents who are holding so tightly to children who should be on their own now that I do not think those now young adults will be able to make a life for themselves if they do not pry themselves away very soon. It is enjoyable to have adult children with whom we can spend time and have adult conversations. And I can tell you that grandchildren are the reward at the end of your parenting years. They are such a blessing!

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I’ve thought of this more and more recently. In addition, while the kids are still at home, I’ve realized how important it is for THEM to see my loving relationship with Matt. What a great example to them as they discover relationships and marry.

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  5. Katrina says

    wow what handsome young men! I am very happy for your family- I have no doubt your sons will make a wonderful difference in this world.

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    Laura Reply:

    Thank you – we pray for God’s work in their life. We’re so thankful to know He has great plans for them.

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  6. says

    I really enjoy your blog. (Can we say pretzel bites anyone?!) But I enjoy your Gratituesday posts the best. You bring a great balance of knowledge, grace and faith to the blogging culture. Thank you and keep it up!

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    Laura Reply:

    This comment was so encouraging – thank you. :)

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  7. Sonja says

    16th year of homeschooling here. I am thankful for a husband who works hard so I can stay home with my children. I now have one in college, one in public school (another thankful thing – a great public school) starting his senior year and one still at home. And of course I am thankful for Jesus who saved me.

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    Laura Reply:

    16 years – way to go!

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  8. Janet says

    I am sending my youngest off to the Air Force in the next few months. We homeschooled also. She is 22 and has a strong desire to serve. I am feeling “the days are long but the years are short’. Your boys have a firm anchor and that is what we are to give them.
    Hey- did you notice the guy photo bombing you?! :) LOL!

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    Laura Reply:

    YES!!! He is actually a friend of ours that we ran into at the store. Having him in the picture totally cracks me up. :) He was proud to “make it onto the blog.”

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  9. Jill says

    I am in the snotty kisses-grimy hands-temper tantrum years right now and I am so grateful for the older moms who remind me to enjoy these years. It really is hard most days to keep in mind that with the sticky and the crabby and the messy is also a whole lot of cuteness and pure joy and love that I won’t always have.

    And I know someday I’ll have to take my kids with me to teach them good consumerism skills. But for now, I, too, enjoy grocery shopping alone :)

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    Laura Reply:

    Enjoy walking the quiet snot-free grocery store aisles. :)

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    Birdie Reply:

    Hang in there Jill, 8-). I’ve been there to and wondered when it shall pass. This is not an easy time. Just know that we mom’s send you a collective ((hug)). Just as God sometimes doesn’t feel so loving with us, we mom’s can feel that as well. It’s called “agapy love”

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  10. says

    Oh Laura – You are so right! They just grow up before you realize it. We’ve graduated three and have five left to school. We just started our 19th year and I can’t really grasp that it has been that long. These MEN whom I taught to read and add are now walking in life on their own – and I have to tilt my head now to look into those eyes that I once squatted down to see…What a wonderful, heart-jerking time this raising up of children and schooling them is. I’m so grateful for the journey.

    By the way, your guys are so handsome! I love your tradition. I’m sure you cherish those annual photos. Enjoy your year.

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    Laura Reply:

    Thanks – yes these annual photos are a treasure, for sure!

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  11. Becky says

    I agree with the others who said, “The days are long but the years are short.”
    I have also made that transition to being one of those annoying “cherish the years because they go so quickly people.” I try not to… but it’s not really said as a rebuke as much as it is an expression of my own befuddlement of how I got here from there so quickly!
    I was one of those mothers who faced the prospect of my empty nest with dread. I loved being home with my kids, and when my husband felt I should leave them and get a paycheck, I was devastated. I begrudged every moment spent away from my kids, and when they were all poised and ready to fly away, I cried and cried for all the things I now would never be able to do with and for them.
    God is good, though – even to a whiny woman like me! I have enjoyed my kids as adults far more than I’d ever imagined possible. Rather than distancing themselves from me when they left, they have become good friends – and God, in His goodness, helped them to grow into truly kind and compassionate adults who (for the most part – still praying for revival in a few areas with some) truly love the Lord and are seeking the hearts that I had longed for in them.
    Now as my youngest is going to be making me a grandmother in a few months, I can see the blessings of this phase as well… and am so pleased to see the godly hearts of his parents as they prepare to raise him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – as I tried to do with his mother!
    Don’t fear the new normal, as I did – it took me too long to recognize that God isn’t done with me when He moves me onto new phases. He’s just as good as He has always been!

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    Laura Reply:

    Thanks for sharing! God always provides just what we need, doesn’t He? I love how He continues to show me that He works out His perfect plan for us, even when I don’t understand it at the time.

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    Cyndi Reply:

    I certainly appreciate your post! We leave Sunday to take our oldest daughter to college 15 hours from home. And while I have been dreading our new normal for a few years, my eyes are finally being opened to the beauty of a new phase of life. I think that started when my girls started driving. Ha Ha! I’m certainly grateful for that! God has a work to do in ALL of my family as we adjust to this change, not just for the child that is leaving. I was encouraged by comment I heard recently from a college friend who said that he and his wife were “enjoying being empty nesters”. At 50, I am seeing the advantage of living life at a slower, less hectic pace and I think by the time my youngest graduates, I will be really ready. God is good to prepare us like that. I will always be grateful for the years I spent homeschooling; we had a blast!

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  12. Cathie says

    I am grateful for the weekend we just had. Our congregation celebrated 100 years! Our little church (ok, medium-sized church) is the oldest church of Christ in NJ. We learned this weekend that it is also older than most of the churches in our surrounding states, as well. We had a building full of brothers and sisters who returned for a reunion. The singing was glorious. We got a little glimpse of heaven.

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    Laura Reply:

    That sounds like a fabulous time of worship!

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  13. Vickie Houser says

    We do not have children of our own, but I am thankful for the opportunity God gives me to work with others’ children. I am coming to the close of my 1st year working with the young women in our current ward. This brings me to 8 1/2 years working with the youth of our church. I love them so very much. It does not matter which building we attend, they are all precious. Some of “my girls” from the 1st years are now married and beginning to have children of their own. I love watching them grow into the women God had planned for them to be (and helping them out along the way). Oh, and I don’t have to deal with the poopy diapers- Ye! :)

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    Laura Reply:

    I love reading this and hearing about how God is using you to bless others. :)

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  14. says

    Laura, I first stumbled upon your blog over 4 years ago and kept up with it daily for probably over a year or two, then got really busy with life and my new family and stopped reading blogs period.
    I cannot believe how fast your boys have grown up! They are so handsome. I feel I have missed out on so much, I want to go back and read every post I missed.
    You have been such an inspiration to me. From your home cooking (My favorite being the granola bar recipe), homeschooling (I’ve thought about it numerous times), blogging style (that is why I looked at your blog today), multi-tasking abilities, organization, and most importantly you and your family’s caring heart (I love how giving you always are, I strive to do the same).
    Much love sent from this mommy of 3.

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    Susan Parker Reply:

    Jaclyn,
    I love the granola bar recipe – because you can add what you like and it is much healthier. Thanks Laura. Keep on blogging – We Love Reading Your Blog (even if we do get busy, I personally will go back 2 or 3 weeks and see what I missed).

    Susan

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    Laura Reply:

    You’re so sweet, Susan. Thank you. (Mmmm, granola bars.) :)

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    Laura Reply:

    Wow Jaclyn, so encouraging – thank you!!

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  15. Susan Parker says

    Laura,
    So did your older boys start schooling with the public school system? Or did you always homeschool?

    Susan

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, we’ve homeschooled from the beginning. Actually, Asa went to preschool twice a week when we lived in Colorado. But we decided at that point to homeschool from then on. Haven’t looked back!

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  16. says

    I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be home with my children for what’s coming up on the third year. I have my teaching certificate and taught in the public school system for seven years before the Lord provided the means for me to come home and my husband to be the sole provider.

    I’m loving having the time to spend with my children, and know that these crazy days won’t last forever. Thank you for the reminder to cherish them!

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    Laura Reply:

    So thankful to hear how God has worked in your family. :)

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  17. says

    I’m right there with you! My boys are both teens now and I cannot believe how quickly the years have gone by. When they were babies, I used to look at families that had teenagers and I just couldn’t picture it. I blinked and now I am living it. Today, I am thankful for teens and the blessing of homeschooling them. God is good!

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    Laura Reply:

    I remember looking at families with teens, thinking they were living in another world. And yep, here we are. :)

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  18. says

    Ahhh! The 2008 pic is how I remember them! They aren’t even my kids and I can attest to how TIME FLIES!!! You have raised a wonderful family Laura :-) I can only hope I will be half as good. People ask me who I look up to etc and you ALWAYS come to mind. Yes I know it hasn’t always been easy, but you always handled things with grace and remembered to thank God for EVERYTHING. Thanks for the wonderful example of how to be a mother/wife/Christian woman :-)

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    Laura Reply:

    You mean the world to me, Ruth. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m so sad I missed seeing you last week, and I’m SO excited about your new baby news!!!!!! It has been, and continues to be such a joy to watch you and your sweet family.

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  19. Kim says

    I currently have 3 boys 4 and under! Some days are exhausting but I try to enjoy all the sweet cuddles and sloppy kisses! But not the poop accidents or scrubbing mud, etc from clothes! Boys are so much fun and I am so glad this was Gods plan for our family! I am so grateful to get to spend my days home with my boys learning, playing and having fun together! It’s the greatest gift my husband has ever given me! I know in a blink they’ll be grown!

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    Laura Reply:

    Ugh, all so little all at once. I remember! Yes, boys are so much fun!

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  20. Lana H. says

    I’m thankful that my oldest son and his fiancé returned safely from a trip to the Congo. I will briefly have all 6 of my boys together for a few more days, and for that I’m very grateful. They do grow up so fast. Thank you for the inspiration you provide ,as well as all the information! Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

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    Laura Reply:

    Enjoy your time with all your boys home at once. What a blessing!

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  21. Christina says

    Beautifully written….I try and tell myself this everyday. My girls are 7 and 2. So much I have prayed would pass quickly…the sleepless days and nights. But now, I would go back and do it all over.

    God bless!

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, funny how we can look back on the tough (sleepless) times and miss it. :)

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  22. says

    Fine young men you have there! I’m still trying to wrap my head around our oldest child turning 18 on his next birthday. Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday when they wheeled his bassinet into my hospital room, I peeked over the side and thought, “So what do I do NOW?” Or my surprise when my now 16 year old was born and actually got put into my arms before he was whisked away. Or my 11 year old who was born 2 months early and weighed 3 lbs .4 oz at birth. We had her blessed in the NICU and she was able to go home, happy and healthy at 22 days.

    I could go on (and on and on…trust me), but I’ll be subscribing when I’m done here. Love the word “Gratituesday!”

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    Laura Reply:

    Oh yes, I love remembering those first moments with them in the hospital. Sweet, precious memories.

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  23. Birdie says

    Hi Laura. Thank you for your wonderful blog. We’re on the cusp of high school as well. I know that we can do it!! For all of the ladies that have shared their “We’ve done it” stories and you, I thank you for shining your light into this world and inspiring those of us that follow behind. May I pass your light onto others that come after me.

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    Laura Reply:

    You certainly will pass on that light, in fact you already are. :)

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  24. Nadine L says

    I’m so thankful for all the dedicated parents out there who have willingly* sacrificed so many years to homeschool their children. I’m in Australia, and was homeschooled by my Mum, she’s been hard at it for 17 years and has another 13 to go! My mother in law has been doing it for 19 years, and has another 6 to go. My hubby and I are about to embark on the journey of parenthood in 5 weeks time, and I’m so thankful for the legacy and wisdom our families have to share with us.

    (*and thankful for the times parents push through even when it seems like hard work and no return!)

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    Laura Reply:

    Blessings to you as you welcome your new little one!!

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  25. Fletcher R. says

    I could have written your post – where DID the time go? We’re starting our 11th year of homeschool and have our first senior. The summer has been a blur of college visits and changing her major (more college visits)! I can honestly say that I’ve CHERISHED

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    Fletcher R. Reply:

    Sheesh, I hit the enter by mistake! I have cherished the time I’ve spent with my oldest on our cross-state excursions. Sonic will never be the same! Oh, the shakes and the tummy aches :)
    The years have indeed flown by and I know the next one will be going long before I’m ready and I’ll hold my baby boy as long as I can, but they have grown and are growing their own wings and will soon stir the nest for themselves.

    I also find myself giving the advice to hold ‘em and love ‘em while they’re little.
    Thank you for all of your wonderful posts and recipes. You’ll still have your blog family long after the kiddos are out the door!

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    Laura Reply:

    This time of life just brings on a whole new meaning to the word cherish, doesn’t it? ;)

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  26. Jody says

    We start kindergarten this year. Our oldest is 5, then we have a 3 year old and a one year old. It seems so unreal that the 5 year old is not still the one year old!!! Time flies. I was homeschooled and am looking forward to continuing this family tradition with my children. Love your blog!

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    Laura Reply:

    Yay, that’s so exciting that you’re just beginning the school journey with your kids. Blessings to you – what a fun time!

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