January 22, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Asher!!

Happy 4th Birthday, Asher...errr....I mean, Donatello! (that's who you insisted that you were, today! I think the jammies had something to do with it.)

We started out your big day with Birthday Breakfast cake, bacon, and blackberries--all of your favorite things.

You were pleased with your new cowboy boots and even the playdough, but, by far, your favorite gift was the ninja turtle underwear that I appliqu├ęd for you out of old t-shirts.  

Let me explain why I knew you would love this gift:  Your new obsession for ninja turtles is overtaking our life.  There is not a day that goes by that you are not pretending to be at least one of the ninja turtles.  You are very irritated if I cannot keep up with who you are, or if I, by mistake, call you Asher while you're in character.  You had one pair of TMNT undies that I had bought you from a garage sale (I know, that sounds gross, but you picked them out several months ago and were begging for them, and I thought, "What could be so bad about a pair of toddler's underwear that can't be washed out?") Anyways, each night after your bath since your "ninja turtle Christmas" (this is when the obsession really took off), you ask to wear your ninja turtle underwear.  And with my one laundry day a week, I just couldn't wash the things quick enough.  So, when I remembered these skivvies that I had seen on a blog, I knew what handmade gift you were going to receive and adore.

And...I am pleased to say that you loved them! (What four year old's favorite gift is undies?) We were video chatting with the Hendrick's (in Haiti) and you pulled your pants down and bent over to show them your favorite gift.  The boys thought it was hilarious.

Your birthday was on a Wednesday this year-your favorite day of the week-with school and Life Group.  You requested brownies with M&M's to take to your class for a treat. Then, Daddy met us up at school for lunch and brought us Chick-fil-a.

The theme for our Life Group meal was soups/chili's, so you requested that I make your beloved Manitoba Soup.  (You can thank Catey Nana, for the recipe...see the bottom of this post for the recipe!)  Most all of your (everyday College Station) favorite people were there, so it's like I was throwing you your very own party!

I think that you told every person that we saw today, that you were four.  You couldn't be prouder that you were, "now four like your cousin, Brynnie."

And, of course, I made you a ninja turtle cookie cake (made out of our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, also at the bottom of this post) and we sang to you again at Life Group.  Once McKlayne saw the cake, she insisted that she was Rapheal that day, so she was the one on your cake wishing you a Happy Birthday.  You got a kick out of this and played along and said, "Oh, thank you, Brother, Dude!"

At the end of the day, you were very upset and almost started crying, telling me that one day was just not long enough to have a birthday and that you still wanted to be four.  I didn't know what you meant by this at first.  But then I explained to you that you were not going to be turning three again the next day. (And you were very relieved.)  Once I told you that you had a whole year to be four, until next January 19, you were much appeased and told me how great of a day turning four had been.

Our Precious Firstborn,

In some ways I can't believe that you've only been around for four years.  Daddy and I don't really remember what life was like before you...and for that, we are grateful.  Just like the meaning of your name, "God has made me happy" or "a life blessed with abundance" that is truly what our lives have become in these last four years, since becoming your parents.  God has graciously and patiently taught us so much through you, sweet boy. Things that, more than likely, you will not discover until you become a daddy one day: Hard things about ourselves; sweet things about Him.  What joy and blessing (and much growth) even those hard truths have brought!  In these last four years, as we've made many mistakes, you have graciously forgiven us.  Your sweet little heart is eager to forgive and quick to allow us to move on once we apologize to you.  I pray that you are always so quick to keep no record of wrong.

Other days, I can't believe how big you are, how helpful you have become, and the truths that you are able to comprehend.  You are constantly teaching McKlayne how to accomplish a new task, helping her master her knowledge of letters, complementing her on her beauty and you are thrilled when she asks for your assistance.  McKlayne recently moved into your room and you couldn't be happier.  At night, we allow you five minutes to talk to each other, before we're even done setting the timer and have left the room, you first questions is always, "McKlayne, what are you doing?".

You have a servant's heart like your Daddy.  You respond with eagerness and joy when Daddy or I ask you to do something.  You enjoy carrying your laundry to your room, loading the dishwasher with your dishes and utensils after a meal, and helping me cook dinner or prepare a special treat.  You have such a tender heart.  When someone gets hurt, or even if I just stub my toe, you are quick to say, "Are you okay?  I'm sorry that you hurt your toe, Momma," in the most sympathetic voice, often followed by a, "be tough, Momma."

You love to sit in either my lap or Daddy's lap to read.  And you still allow me a lot of cuddle time once you wake up in the morning or from your afternoon nap.  I'm thankful that even at a big four years of age, you still find much comfort in our arms.  You are going to make your wife very happy one day.  It's almost never that you will pass a flower and not stop to pick it for me or your sister.  Even if we're not around! You'll pick them and give them to us the next time you see us. You are often telling me or McKlayne when you think that we look cute or beautiful.  A few weeks ago we were at a restaurant with several families of friends from church and you told just about every mother that their daughter looked beautiful or that you liked their bow or that you thought they looked pretty in their dress at different points throughout the evening.  You are quite the charmer, which for now is completely sincere, but we're watching you, boy.  Daddy and I know that we may have our work cut out for us in the ladies area.

Your imagination is so fun to watch.  You spend most of your days changing between dress up clothes as you pretend to be a ninja turtle, super hero, or cubscout (you wear Daddy's old uniform) to fight off evil villains or protect your princess (McKlayne, of course).  You also still love to act like animals, as your run-crawl around the house making noises and mimicking their actions.  You so often ask me if we can "do school or a craft" that I find myself running around trying to think of new things to do with you.  This is our special time together, so I really enjoy it and am amazed at how brilliant and gifted you are.  You love for me to affirm you after you've completed a difficult puzzle, to display your artwork or show off your inside-the-line coloring skills.  

Your memory is incredible and your love for and memory of Scripture has spurred Daddy and me on to memorize more, too.   We pray that you are always so eager to share God's word with others.  You like for me to watch you ride your bike "fast" and see you jump off high tree stumps or steps.  You are proud that you know how to swim, but I'd have to say that your proudest accomplishment is a tie between eating a worm and being stung by a jellyfish.  The moment you meet someone new, you often say, "My name is Asher and I ate a worm.  And, I got stung by a jellyfish."  They're usually great conversation starters, though, they often leave Mommy or Daddy shifting around trying to explain the first proclamation.

All year long, you have been asking us when you were going to turn four.  Any time that Daddy responded he would say, "Not until you wrestle me!  I won't let you turn four until you wrestle me and win!"  Last night, the evening before your birthday, Daddy declared a wrestling match to see if you could turn four.  After much anticipation, you and Daddy squared off on the living room floor.  You put up a good fight and won, so Daddy "allowed" you to become four.  You were a mix of the giggles, along with immense pride and shock that you'd just beaten Daddy and were actually granted permission to age.  

The two questions that I hear most consistently (and often multiple times) from you each day is, "When is Daddy coming home?" or, "Is Daddy coming home for lunch today?" Thankfully (for all of us), Daddy has a schedule that allows him to come home (his office is only about five minutes away) for lunch most everyday, unless he's planned to meet with someone else.  Most days after your nap, you go sit on the front porch, with a weapon in hand, ready for Daddy (also known as Shredder, since you're so into Ninja Turtles these days) to come home and fight with you.  Somedays I try to distract you with another activity, because it will be close to an hour or more until he'll be home, but often you tell me that you just want to wait.  You quickly find something to do outside so that you can be the first to greet him and honk his horn once he pulls into the driveway.

You bring much happiness to our home, at the funny remarks you make, the loving affection that you shower upon each of us, and the kind words that you generously offer.  Several times a day, you will grab my hand or my face and kiss it, to reassure me of your affections.  And, even more often than that, you will aggressively grab your sister by her chubby cheeks, grinding your teeth as you lay one on her.  (She, however, is not always as pleased to be interrupted from whatever she's doing with that adornment.  She, in turn, adores you, but she welcomes your showers of kisses on her time schedule.)  The other day when you asked me if I would give you permission to turn four, I took your sweet cheeks in my hands and said, "Only if you will still kiss me, and hold my hand, and sit in my lap, and let me hold you, and do all the other sweet things that you allow as a three year old..."  You took in every word, as you looked up at me with those big blue, serious eyes and promised, "I still will, Momma."  Tonight, on the evening of your birthday, you called me to your bed and said, "Even though I'm four, I still need kisses from you, remember?" as you asked me for a kiss goodnight.  That, sweet boy, is why your Mommy is so weak for you.

We're thankful for your big, little life, Asher, and trust that God will continue to shower us and others with an abundance of blessings though knowing you.  We pray that you would soon come to know and trust Jesus and turn to Him in repentance, as the Holy Spirit causes you to love Him, as your most abundant blessing.

All of our love,



Manitoba soup

1 pound ground beef
28 oz. petitie diced tomatos
medium onion-diced
medium green pepper diced
1 onion soup mix packet (I didn't have this so I just used a bunch of onion salt, garlic powder and a little bit of celery salt)
small can of tomato paste (either 6 or 8 oz can)
1 c. carrots
1/2 c. celery
2 c. potatos
1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt and paprika
1 tlb. sugar

Brown ground beef and then add the pepper and onion and brown 5 more minutes.  Add 4 cups of water, soup mix, and remainder of ingredients except for carrots and potatoes.  Let simmer 30 minutes.  Then add potatoes and carrots and simmer for another 30 minutes.

BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.

2 1/4 cup flour
1 large package of instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
6 oz semi-sweet choc. chips
6 oz semi-sweet choc. chunks*

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix butter, sugars, vanilla.  Then, beat in one egg at a time.  Add dry ingredients to wet.  Stir in choc. chips.
Bake 8-9 minutes or until done.

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