Remembering my Mom

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My mom passed away unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day. These are the words I wrote for her and read at her memorial service:

Years ago my Mom told me her life verse: 1 Peter 3:4 “Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” I don’t think there is another verse in the Bible that would describe my mom better. She truly lived these words. She was beautiful… she was gentle… and she was of great worth in God’s sight and in ours. But my mom was also lively. She had a fire in her that caused her to pour herself into others. She was a caregiver. Everyone loved my mom… you couldn’t not love my mom. Even as a teenager I knew I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.

Mom,

I am amazed by you. I look at your life and I see something I want to emulate and someone I want to be. You not only allowed me to follow my passions, but you encouraged me along the way and sacrificed of yourself so I could do the things I felt called to do. You were always there with open arms and an unconditional love. 

I can’t even begin to contemplate a new reality without you in my everyday life. The example you set for me is an amazing blessing, but the hole you leave in my heart is a crushing blow. I’ve only been a mom for a year and a half and I still need so much more guidance and help and wisdom from you. After all, who better to mentor me through motherhood than the world’s greatest mom?

I have no regrets when it comes to you. We had a great almost 30 years together. We lived together, we worked together, we went to church together, and we shared in some of life’s biggest joys together. You were there when we brought home Betti and Manny and I’m so glad we got to live with you for our first year together as a family. You were there when I gave birth to Eli just four short months ago. And you got me through those first few weeks with a newborn. We always greeted each other with a hug and an “I love you” and we always parted the same way.

One of my biggest desires is that when my daughter is all grown up she will call me her best friend just as I called you mine. You couldn’t have done this life any better Mom and I wanna be just like you… I want to shine with an unfading inner beauty and have a gentle and quiet spirit… but not too quiet… someone has to keep the Hamel family in line.

I love you mom and I’ll miss you forever… these are not the last words I have for you, but for now I’ll close with this… Job Well Done Mom… job well done.

(Julie)

Yearly Family Letter

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Every year during the month of our anniversary we try to put out a family letter…

This year Alan and I got a chance to escape to a hot springs for a night to celebrate 4 years. It was wonderful and relaxing and we were very grateful for the friends and family who watched out kids. What an adventure these last 4 years have been… we have much to be thankful for… here’s our letter for year #4.

Looking at my baby

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I get lost sometimes as I look at my baby… I think about how beautiful he is… how much I enjoy seeing how peaceful he looks when he eats as he’s falling asleep… how fun it is to see his first smiles… how adorable he looks when he’s sleeping… who will he turn into… how can I love and support him in the ways he’ll need…

Then I get a little sad… I think about all the babies I’ve passed by in Russia and Ethiopia… laying in a crib all day… touched only to get their one diaper change per day… eating from a bottle propped up on a pillow… their eyes dead… It breaks my heart that not all children in the world are lovingly taken care of… many in our own country aren’t taken care of…

So I’ll attempt to be the best mom I can… cuz when I look at my children… I feel blessed.

and then there were 5…

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Eli David Briggs joined the family on July 28 at 11am. Betti and Manny are thrilled to have a little brother. Manny is always saying “he’s so cute” and loves helping him with his pacifier. Betti LOVES babies and is so happy to have one living with us permanently.

Eli is almost a month old already. Time is flying by and we’re adjusting to this new life of 3 kids. Have I mentioned that 14 months ago we didn’t have any kids?!? We’re tired and stressed and having fun. Our kids are beautiful and challenging and we’re blessed to have each of them. They each bring something special and irreplaceable to the family. Here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Betti meeting Eli in the hospital

 

Potty Training Day 1

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I’ll admit that the idea of potty training has been terrifying me. I’m not exactly sure why… maybe I just had fears of cleaning up feces all day. I read the “potty training in less than a day” book and I was skeptical. I finally put today on the calendar to start our adventure. Manny will be 3 years old next week and I’m having a baby in 3 months so I guess this is as good a time as any.

We’ve been trying to hype him up about the idea… without a ton of luck… he usually responded with a casual “no” when we asked him excitedly if he wanted to use the potty like a big boy. So today we began… I was more than not looking forward to today… especially when it took over a half hour  just to get Manny to wear the underwear… ha, but he taught the doll how to potty… and refused to sit on the thing himself… I would ask him to… and he would pull down his underwear… and I’d ask him to sit on the potty and standing right in front of me with his pants down he would say “I did!” Eh… so it was going to be a long day… he went through 5 pairs of underwear before nap… he definitely didn’t like wetting his pants so he let me know right away when it was happening…

We finally had a victory when he used the potty chair twice before nap time. He took advantage of having a diaper on at nap time to drop a steamy one… can’t blame the kid…

But after nap time… my shock set in… he started using the potty chair… first prompted by me… then completely on his own… it’s about dinner time now and he has used the potty chair (with and without prompting from me) a dozen times… I’ve watched out of the corner of my eye several times when he has just meandered over there… dropped his shorts… then announced that he needed help emptying the potty chair… ah, be still my heart… I didn’t know if I would survive this day… but it has been much better than I thought…

I know we still have many days… and some accidents… and a few bowel movements ahead of us… but today has gone so much better than I ever thought… I’ve glad day #1 is over… I survived… and my toddler is becoming a little man… love it, love it, love it.

Potty Training

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I’m totally intimidated by the thought… but Manny will be 3 next month and we have a baby coming this summer… it’s time. I’m listening to a Keane song right now and the chorus is chanting at me… “I waited a long long time… I waited a long long time…” This is how I feel about potty training… I’ve been meaning to get around to it for a while now… but I keep putting it off… it’s never just the right time… ha. I don’t know why I’m so intimidated by this… maybe it’s the convenience of diapers… you don’t have to rush to find a bathroom “Right Now!” and you don’t have to worry about pee on the carpet or poop in the car seat… diaper are convenient… but it’s time… eh…

I’ve had many different techniques recommended to me…

*Let him go around without pants on…

*Seclude yourselves for a weekend and take him to the bathroom every 10 minutes…

*Put him in underwear so he won’t like the feel of pee in his pants and take him to the bathroom often…

*Etc…

So… it you have any brilliant advise… pass it along… I swear I’m going to start this process soon!