Sunday, December 30, 2012

christmas time

We started celebrating Christmas around here before Thanksgiving was here.  We've been listening to Christmas music since Halloween and a few days past Christmas, we're still listening to it.  I always wish that we could celebrate Christmas for an entire week.  I wish Jordan could have the whole week off and that we could have a party every other night or so.  But since we've been celebrating for so long, we have thoroughly enjoyed the season!  We've done lots of baking with the kids, slumber parties, Christmas music has been filling the house everyday, we've done crafts, Christmas movies, and we've partied!  We had a full 5 days leading up to Christmas with holiday baking, a wedding, and family parties.  The kids did so wonderful with it all.  And we enjoyed them so much!  Natalie got excited about Santa this year probably because of school, otherwise we've never really said much about him either way.  It was fun to play along though.  She wrote him a letter asking for a bow and arrow and he delivered!  Each year, my mom takes the grandkids shopping for a gift for the moms and dads. So this year, Natalie picked out a small Nutcracker for me and chocolate for Jordan!  Ruby also got Jordan chocolate and got me a small cupcake candle!  It is pretty hilarious to see what they think we will like!  And mom and dad Barkel went crazy with gifts once again!  Mom does stockings for us all and there were almost 120 stocking gifts alone!!  We're all pretty lucky... our moms love to shop! 

Ruby decorated the tree almost entirely by herself.  She was very deliberate about which ornament went where!

Jordan got a new tie from Natalie to wear to work!


Seriously...look at those presents!  And that's not even including the stockings!

Charlie was such a trooper with all of the parties.  His favorite gifts: airplanes and tools!

When she wasn't sleeping, Emmy enjoyed her first Christmas!
It's always a little sad when the last party is over and Christmas time is gone.  But now we wait to see what unexpected blessings the new year will bring.

holiday baking

Each year, we have a delightful time getting together with family to bake up a bunch of goodies just before the holiday parties.  The kids and I did a bunch of baking the entire month of December...probably too much since we just kept eating it and thus needed to make more!  I love to get our aprons on, take our time, play music, sing and bake with the kids.  Especially during Christmastime.  But now we MUST give baking a break for awhile.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

havinga wedding

Our friends, Brad and Jaclyn, were married this past weekend!  Natalie and Ruby were the flower girls and Jordan was a groomsmen.  The girls were so excited to be a part of it.  They couldn't wait to finally wear their dresses and they were elated the night of the rehersal when they recieved new shoes, pearls, headbands, and lipsmacker for 'their' special day!  They were also quite thrilled to walk down the aisle with boys!  The boys did great as well.  Brad's dad joked that maybe the pastor would marry the wrong couple.  Neither of the girls seemed opposed to the idea!  It was so adorable to see them holding hands down the aisle.  Ruby, as you will see in pictures, was trying so hard not to smile whereas Natalie, whom you will also notice in the pictures, was pretending she was unimpressed.  In this case, Ruby reminded me of myself and Natalie reminded me of Jordan!  I see him pull that face all the time but I never buy it :)  When the girls made their way down the aisle, I got a little emotional (yes, I can be that way!) thinking about them getting married someday.  I know it's going to happen before I know it and I'll think back on these times when they were so little.  We are so proud of all of our kids!

The girls went home after the ceremony while Jordan and I went onto the reception.  Great times with great friends!!  I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves :)

Congrats to Brad and Jaclyn.  Blessings on their marriage!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

christmas eve

It's Christmas Eve and I'm preparing for the next day.  Cutting up fruit, thinking about everything that needs to come with us to the party, thinking about what we will all wear.  Totally not preparing my heart for the big day.  I've loved this Christmas season.  Although we've only seen a tiny sprinkle of snow, I've definately been in the 'Christmas' spirit.  Decorating, caroling, eating, partying.  But of all times, I'm neglecting the reason for Christmas.  I haven't read my bible in a couple weeks, I've suddenly realized.  I've been so selfish.  I'm realizing that my joy has mostly been coming from the congregating of family and friends, not to mention the presents and the food.  And though I keep meaning to make time for Jesus, I still haven't.  So I'm not going to express my thoughts much more on here because I simply need to make room for Jesus.  More than 2000 years ago, most of the world slept through the coming of Christ.  There were so many who were lucky enough to witness the newborn baby Jesus but they missed the point.  They had no idea what they could have beheld.  But instead, they slept.  I've been missing the point and literally choosing to sleep instead of make time and room for Christ.  So as I sign off tonight at 11:43pm, I plan to dive into the word and try to comprehend as fully as I can the radical gift that God has given us and once again, make room for Christ.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2012


Suddenly, my heart is so heavy and sad.  Days ago, it was light and joyful.  All was right with the world.  It's Christmastime.  The happiest time of the year.  But this year, there was a darkness that came over our nation.  Only 11 days before Christmas. 

The tradegy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

There was a dispicable act of evil displayed at Sandy Hook, an attack straight from the devil.  It has made me and the nation scared, insecure, and grasping for control over our kids and these situations.  A gunman shot down 20 elementary students between the ages of 6 and 7 and 6 teachers.  Not to mention his own mother prior to this.  And suddenly, the holidays will forever wear the stain of this dreadful day for so many of the affected people.

I cannot shake what has happened.  The entire nation is grieving over these innocent children.  And for the moment, everyone seems to be scared about their own kids and schools.  I, for one, worry about my kids enough as it is.  And then this happens and it about sends me through the roof.

Something I always seem to struggle with is the lack of quality time that I spend with each of my kids.  Many times after I put them to bed and reflect on the day, I find myself regretting all the times that I turned one of them down when asked to play because 'I've got work to do.'  So then I vow to do better the next day.  But when the next day comes, I forget to be intentional about playing more and once again, I lay out my regrets that night.  I wanted this month to be different.  And Jordan and I have been making more of an attempt at quality family time at night: baking together, stories, crafts.  But with the events that unfolded over the last few days, I feel like it's still not enough.  It's tragedies like these that once again set my priorities straight.

I often hear, 'You're such a great mom.'  People think I'm a great mom.  Sure, I'm good enough.  I make sure their basic needs are met, I discipline them, I show them love, and try to be there for them.  But I can do better.  Much better.  I feel like I have lost that fun, care-free side of me.  I used to be very calm and easy-going.  But more and more, I feel like I am anxious, busy, and worried.  And that isn't the way that God intended me to feel as a mother.  It's not something that I have been bringing to God either, so the feelings only get stronger.

But I'm bringing it to God right now.  I don't want to feel anxious, busy, worried.  I want to be light-hearted and happy again.  And I want it to last.  Not just when things are going great or at Christmastime.  But all the time.  Circumstances may shake me but it shouldn't shake my faith.  I know that my God is in control.  He is just, He is merciful, He is the Prince of Peace.  And He is God with us.  That is all I need.  No matter what happens, my God will always be my faithful Savior.  It's who He is and why He came.

One of my favorite 'Christmas verses' seems so appropriate to me this year: "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4-5.  Jesus has already overcome this darkness.  And we 'will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of [our] testimony.'  Revelation 12:11.

So I guess this is me, overcoming my fears and the plots of the evil one by the word of my testimony to who my God is.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

more emmy love

Is there seriously anything sweeter than a newborn baby?!  Maybe it's because she's my last child that I'm just eating her up.  Here are my top 10 reasons you can't help but fall in love with a baby.

1. The peach fuzz!  Emmy has those soft little hairs on her shoulders and a little on the cheaks and I just find it to be adorable!

2. The little sqeaks, hums, and purrs!

3. The way her eyes stare into mine without blinking, just studying me.

4. Soft smiles as she dreams... or poops!

5. The way that she bunches her legs up when I hold her up near my shoulder.

6. She cries and I can fix it by feeding her, changing her, or picking her up.

7. Neck wrinkles and her double chin!

8. When she shakes her head back and forth as much as she can when looking for food.  The way she goes after her little fingers when she's hungry.

9. The way she smells!

10. Her smooth, warm, kissable, irresistable skin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

emmy ellamae

She's here!  And as I write this, she is already 11 days old!  Emmy was born at 9:10pm on November 9, two days past her due date.  She was my smallest baby, 8 pounds and 1 ounce, 20.5 inches long.  She is a gift from God.  I feel like there is so much to be said about her so I'm going to break it down into categories... her birth, her family, and Emmy herself.

The Birth of Emmy.
I was induced at 12:30.  They got the pitocen going and therefore the contractions.  For a few hours, I felt nothing but apparently I was having quite frequent contractions all along.  At 5:00, my doctor came to break my water.  Contractions picked up and at 7, I got the epidural.  I hate getting it done but...ahh, it's so wonderful to be able to relax while waiting for the baby.  The nurse checked me around 7:30 and I was at 6cms.  An hour and a half later, she asked if I was feeling any pressure to push and I wasn't.  But she checked me out again and I was at 10cms!  Ready to push.  I pushed twice and in about a minute, Emmy was out!  They laid her on my chest and she cried for only just a second.  And even when they took her away to check her out, she just laid there so nice, looking around.  All throughout my hospital stay, the nurses commented on how pleasant she is!  Just the temperment we specifically ordered for our fourth child!

Emmy's Family.
We are all smitten with Emmy, just smitten :)  Jordan had gone home that night and in the morning, after stopping to pick up flowers for me (ahhhh, love that man!) he arrived with the kids.  The kids had no idea that I had even had her yet so they were excited when they came into my room and found me with the new baby.  Reflecting on my past deliveries, introducing one sibling to another is definately a highlight!  Each of the kids were eager to hold Emmy and they all did great with her.  And the love for Emmy has only grown in the 10 days since then.  Natalie holds Emmy everyday in the morning before school and it's the first thing she does when she gets home.  Ruby holds Emmy all throughout the day, stroking her all over and talking in her softest, sweetest baby voice.  Charlie holds Emmy a few times a day and is also very gentle with her.  They are all so attentive to her and eager to help me with anything that concerns Emmy. 

Our little sweetheart.  She is just so beautiful.  I forget each time how much I adore newborn babies.  So far, Emmy has been a great sleeper.  The first week, I had only been getting up with Emmy once to feed her and maybe a time or two to soothe her little whimpers.  But so far this week, she's been getting me up a few times a night.  I think she just loves to be cuddled with because that's what I do and she's off to sleep again.  She gets held a lot around here!  She's also so strong!  She rolled over from her stomach to her back today and she's only 11 days old!  She's starting to be awake more often and I love to just stare at her as she checks everything out.  She's a very content little girl.  Our family is just so blessed.  I am so thankful for my four healthy babies and their daddy.

Emmy, I just want to hold you forever!  I could never tire of kissing your soft cheeks, staring into your wondering eyes, or just feeling the weight of you in my arms.  I will always love you and be praying for you.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

a love letter

Dear Jordan,

Do you have any idea how much I love you?!  I'm sitting on the hospital bed, waiting for you and the kids to come and get me and Emmy.  I just appreciate you so much.  You are such a great dad.  You have been amazing this weekend with the kids and with taking care of me.  Do you remember that you emptied out two buckets of my throw-up for me?!  You've witnessed 4 births now and you're still attracted to me?!  I know that you love me and I am so undeserving of it.  There's so much that I could do better as your wife.  You work so hard for us and I know that you'd do anything for any of us.  You are an amazing husband and I am so blessed to have you.  Yesterday, I laid in my hospital bed in between you and Emmy and as you both slept, I just reflected on our almost 7 years of marriage.  We have had some trials but all of those years were so wonderful.  We have both changed so much and for the better!  You were my best friend then and you are still that today.  You're funny, thoughtful, my rock.  You continue to walk with the Lord and are a godly example of a father to our children.  I absolutely ADORE you!  I know we've said it before but I really believe that this is our last child ;)  We are closing this chapter of having babies and it seems it just began.  What a wonderful time it's been.  I'm sad to think of never doing this labor and delivery thing again but looking forward to the next chapter of our lives.  You were always so supportive of me with each pregnancy and the way you have taken care of me with each delivery is so flattering.  You bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers with this last child and I could have cried.  But I didn't so maybe that's why I'm crying now as I write this! 

I could go on and on proclaiming my love for you but I also know that you have a limited attention span :) 

I love you more than I ever. thought. possible.

Thank you for loving me.

Friday, November 2, 2012


The girls were so excited for Halloween this year (Charlie didn't seem to understand what exactly was going on!)  Of course Ruby had to be a princess and she wanted to wear her Belle gown.  Natalie went as an Indian and she got into character for it, too!  Because I was lazy and didn't search for the perfect costume for Charlie, he was a bum with messy hair, mis-matched shoes, a 5 o'clock shadow, and a cardboard sign saying 'Will work for candy'.  I didn't get any pictures of Charlie, though :(  So here are just the girls.

Natalie walked in a costume parade at school.
Earlier this fall, Natalie was asked to participate in a live mannequin show in downtown Holland for Spring's store.  While the other women in the windowfront were the queens of hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, Natalie was a joker.  She wore a joker hat and was told to just make the people on the other side of the window laugh.  And she did amazing!  We weren't able to be there because we were having the party for my mom, but Jordan's mom took her and said she had everyone laughing.  People would come and just watch her from the outside.  She worked for an hour and a half and had so much fun!  She certainly loves to entertain and make people laugh!