I’ve been trying to capture random moments of childhood sweetness and innocence.  Here are just a few of my favorites (sorry, A and N just don’t usually hold still long enough for these types of photos!):

First, JR proudly displaying his new-found riding skills.  It thrills this horse-lovin’ (OK, equine-lovin’) mommy’s heart to no end that at least one of my children might actually follow in my footsteps.  Perhaps he will become the horse-whisperer (or, in this case, donkey whisperer) I always dreamed of being, but just doesn’t seem to be in God’s plan for my life.

Yup, he’s riding bareback (mainly because it would be pointless to fit Shiloh with a saddle while her belly is expanding so rapidly!), with a bridle, all by himself.  Unfortunately, it eventually resulted in his first fall when she sped up and he lost his balance, but he hopped right back on like a good cowboy must!  He is proving to be a natural, with excellent balance (most of the time), soft hands, and calm demeanor. 

All that riding can be exhausting.  JR was caught totally sacked out on our couch one afternoon.  So cute…..but wait….what is wrong with this pic?

Here’s a better angle….

I have no earthly idea how they wound up in this position, but Callie, the cat, was as unconscious as JR was (though, in her case, who knows..she might literally have been unconscious from strangulation!)  Don’t worry, though, she eventually woke up and seemed none the worse for wear. 

Then there’s M.  I’m sorry, but that girl is so stinkin’ cute when she is sleeping.  Since she sleeps in the craziest positions and in the strangest places, I can’t resist taking photos. 

Here’s M in our bed one night:

In her bed (I don’t have a clue where her blankets are)….

She was playing in our family closet one day, and it got very quiet.  I discovered she had crawled into the actual closet in our family closet room, pulled the dresses off the hangers, and made herself a bed.  She totally dozed off…

Here’s one of my favorites of M on a snowy day, just enjoying the splendor of God’s beauty…..

And who can resist a great shot of sisters?

Which leads me to R.  R is developing at an incredible rate. I sometimes don’t realize how big and capable she is becoming.  This fact was demonstrated recently, as I unpacked our weekly CSA produce.  R crawled into the kitchen, and discovered a bag of apples.  Figuring she wouldn’t know what to do with an apple anyway, I let her go, thinking it would keep her entertained and out of trouble. 

After I finished putting away the other food, I reached to get the apple from her, only to discover she had successfully eaten over half of it!

She has also learned to climb the stairs, and to stand unsupported, practicing her new-found skills all day long.  She definitely keeps me on my toes!

We are truly blessed with our 5 beautiful, happy children.  The other day, I encountered a young, pregnant woman, and we got to talking.  It was clear she had heard the old adage, “Your life will never be the same once baby is born!” only, it usually has the typical negative conotations when most people say it.  I have begun making it a habit to re-assure such mothers, “Your life will never be the same–you will soon experience more reward and blessings than you could ever imagine!!”  She looked at me, as if to see if I was serious (which, of course, I was, as I firmly believe that!), and said simply, “Thank you.”  It was sad, as though she had wanted to believe that children were a good thing, yet, the world around her was trying its best to convince her otherwise.

“Thank you, God, for each of our blessings, and for opening our eyes to the fact that children are a miracle and gift, directly from you!”