Friday, January 19, 2018

The Week in Pictures

I bring to you a visual view of our week:

Yes, this is Shadow, our dear pupper.  He is sitting on the bed, my elder daughter nearby, snapping pictures of him and texting them to me.  He is anxiously awaiting my arrival in these pictures, gazing out the window in hopes of a glimpse of his dearly beloved mommy.  Seriously, NOBODY loves me like this dog does.  She reported that he wouldn't give her any attention, so intent was he on watching for me to get home.  #theycallitpuppylove

One of the buses that took my two eldest children to DC for the March for Life. They kids have reported they are exhausted but had an amazing day.  Last year they came home full of faith-inspiring stories about their experiences at the March, and I can't wait to hear about this year's trip.  What a blessing to be able to attend such an event!  Tonight they are settling in for a comfy (!) night's sleep on a church floor, with hopes of visiting the Smithsonian tomorrow.  However, as midnight approaches and the government shutdown looms, the Smithsonian may be but a dream.  #can'teveryonegetalong?

This shirt.  Oh my.  My middle son has become OBSESSED with lacrosse, and I got him this shirt for Christmas.  It cracked me up and was one of my favorite gifts I gave this year.  This sentiment sums up his feelings completely!
#schoolisimportant #butlacrosseisimportanter

My littlest daughter received a blank book for Christmas and she has slowly begun writing her very own story. This is the first page:  
Once upon a time, there was a family.  This particular family loves to laugh.  
Oh how I love it!  She drew each of us carefully and it looks like Mommy and Daddy are ready for a fancy night out on the town!  I love that of all the things she could have written, she chose to write about how we all love to laugh. 

(I don't know why hashtags have overtaken me tonight.  I NEVER (categorically, on principle) use them on social media.  But sometimes, while blogging, I like a good hashtag now and then.) #inablogtheyrehilarious

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hidden Agenda

The week before Christmas, my eldest daughter and her friends planned a "Friendsmas" lunch during their high school lunch hour.  They were each planning to bring in something to share and have a potluck of sorts (genius, I think - and it was a great success!).

A few days before the lunch, the kids were talking about what they were going to bring.  My daughter said, "I have all my stuff hidden in our garage fridge, ready to go".

One of her friends said, "What? Why do you have it hidden??"

Another of her friends (one with 6 siblings) said, "So no one takes it before she needs it!"

Yes.  In high school, both of my children have found friends who get their lives.  In a big family, you can't leave special food out and expect it will still be there the next time you look!  They both have several friends who really understand their home life -- the volume level, the hand-me-downs, the chaos, the constant sharing, the apparent food shortage, and the effort it takes to leave the house with everyone.

The conversation between my daughter and her friends made me smile.  All family sizes are unique, and it warms my heart to know that my children have found some friends with whom they can celebrate (and commiserate with!) their many siblings.  Having only one sister myself, even I can't fully understand how it feels to have lots of siblings and the joys and frustrations that brings.  I'm glad they've found some friends with which to share those feelings.

Big families = lots of laundry, lots of noise, lots of love. . .and also lots of hidden food! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Christmas Vacation

Today wrapped up a whirlwind Christmas break.  At the start, we worshiped on Christmas Eve and Day as a family, and opened gifts together at the crack of dawn Christmas Day (my husband is such a good sport about that early wake up time, considering he doesn't get to bed until well after midnight on Christmas Eve!).  After we had our family time, we headed to Florida for a Christmas break vacation.  Here are a few highlights:

  • The purpose of the trip south was to take a cruise with my parents and my sister and her family for my parents' 50th anniversary.  Before the ship sailed out, we decided to hit Disney and Universal to (to quote my husband) "do it now while we're down there, so we'll never have to do it again".  Although the exhausting theme park vacations are not his choice (he's more of a  National Parks kind of guy), we all had a wonderful time.  We laughed and laughed and laughed together during the trip.  It was wonderful family time.
  • The weather in Florida was a bit chilly (although substantially better than it was at home, we heard). By the last day at Universal, the "real feel" was 37 degrees!  We had on winter coats and gloves, but the upside to the less-than-amazing weather was that the lines were significantly shorter, and the kids got to ride several rides multiple times.
  • My 11-year-old is a Harry Potter fan (to put it mildly), as are my oldest two children.  My son had saved his money to buy a wand, and was thrilled to pieces when he was chosen for the coveted wand ceremony.  We all were so excited for him (and I admit I had tears in my eyes) as the HP guy (I'm sure he has a technical HP title, but I have no idea what it is) tried out several wands until the correct want chose him -- with lots of sound and light effects.  Our son was beyond elated to have the experience, and went around Universal the next two days using the wand on the interactive store windows.  He guarded the wand with his life (that is possibly not an understatement), and wouldn't let anyone else come near it.  It was wonderful to see him so excited.
  • At Disney, my husband offered to let my eldest daughter and I go to Epcot by ourselves.  Yes, he took the other four kids to Hollywood Studios to enjoy those shows and rides, and my girl and I walked 11 miles and took in all the countries in Epcot. 
  • After Disney and Universal, we met up with our family and boarded the cruise ship. I had had some apprehension about sailing (re: my severe hatred of expansion bridges and large bodies of water), but I knew my fears were silly and all would be fine.  We had a great reunion and got settled in, and then the ship took off. . .into very, very choppy waters.  There was a lot of wind, and the sailing was rough.  I was struggling to balance my nerves with what I knew to be true --that we were safe.  Several of our family members were quite seasick, but none of the adults were worried. . .except me.  When we sat down to our formal dinner that night, one of the prep stations right by our table (and some shelving units in the kitchen) crashed down loudly during one particularly tumultuous wave.  One of my kids asked me if we were going to drown, and I had to put on a brave face and assure the child that we were perfectly safe.  Over the next 24 hours, I ate little and prayed continually.  By the next afternoon, my anxiety had subsided and I felt more like myself (and was able to enjoy all the cruise food!!).  
  • We had a wonderful time all together on the cruise, and had many opportunities to celebrate my mom and dad.  We got to talk, laugh and simply be together, which is hard to come by as everyone is pulled in many directions.
It was a wonderful break, full of family, food and fun.  Tonight as we are settling in, getting ready for work and school tomorrow, I am reflecting on the many blessings we were gifted through our time together.  I am grateful for the example of marriage my parents have shown to us in their 50 years, and I am grateful for the gift of family.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017


This summer, my husband will celebrate twenty years of ministry at our church.  It's been an amazing twenty years, and we are grateful to God's people here for caring for us all that time.  This Christmas, as I opened cards from family and friends, I was reminded of one such person who showed his love for us each year.

This man first gave us a gift card to a local restaurant one of our first Christmases here.  He included a note saying something to the effect of "Enjoy a night out together". It was a sweet gift, and we were touched. 

And each year, he sent the same gift.  As we started a family, his gift changed slightly.  He included the gift card as usual, and also a $20 bill -- for babysitting.  This man had the idea to cover all our expenses for the evening, even down to a babysitter.  As a mom myself, I don't think I ever would have had that idea! 

As the years passed, the gift continued to arrive each December.  A few years ago, the card simply read "Repeat the past", and his signed name.  And we did repeat the past each year -- we went out to dinner and paid the babysitter, all thanks to this quiet, gentle man.

A little over a year ago, he went home to heaven.  My heart was stirred when I realized his was the first funeral in our new sanctuary.  He was an unassuming man, never looking for glory or recognition.  In his quiet way, he touched those around him, certainly our family.

This Christmas, I thought of him as I got the mail and read Christmas greetings from friends and family.  His card was not among them this year, but his kindness to us was not forgotten.  I want to be the same kind of person he was -- not looking for accolades, but simply looking for opportunities to bless those around me.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Great Grandma

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thess. 5:16-18

The verse above was my grandma's favorite verse.  She quoted it often, pondered it, and obeyed it.  She was a woman of unwavering faith, and truly did give thanks to God in all circumstances.  She prayed continually and rejoiced always.  She was christian woman who touched many lives by her example.

On January 1, 2000, when I was 7 months pregnant with my first child, I got the call that she had passed away.  Oh how my heart ached!  This woman was so dear to me.  She was fun, full of love and laughter.  She loved to shop (me too!), read (me too!) and eat various junky items like coke, cheese and chips (me too!).  She was a dynamic lady, and everyone who knew her was a little better for it.  There was so much more I wanted to share with her! The thought of her being gone from earth was hard to imagine.  

Over the last nearly 18 years, I have thought of her so very often.  I've wondered what advice she would give me in a particular circumstance, I've wished I could share a good book with her, I've wanted to share my growing family with her.  I've simply missed her presence.  

But as so often we do with loved ones we have lost, I have little moments when I am reminded of her out of the blue.  This month has been especially full of those reminders, particularly in the form of the verse above.  Our school has a virtue we are focusing on each month, and this month's word is gratitude.  And, you guessed it - the verse accompanying the word is this one.  I've seen the verse in various places throughout our school building and via school communication. All three of my children have come to me with their memory work over the last couple of weeks -- thrusting their folders into my busy hands and immediately stilling me with their recitation.  This verse, which reminds me so much of my beloved grandma, causing me to reflect on its meaning.  And after hearing how meaningful it is to me, my confirmand this year is considering using it for his confirmation verse!

The last of my children handed me her folder tonight and began reciting it.  I smiled and teared up a little.  Today is my grandma's birthday -- she would have been 90 this year.  While we're sorry we haven't been able to celebrate all those birthdays with her on earth, we are thankful for the ones we were blessed with.  And we are even more grateful for the promise that we will see her again.  

I'm not sure she knew the impact she had on those around her -- in fact I'm sure she had no idea how much everyone was touched by her kind heart and example.  But she was quietly leading those around her to Christ. She would be so thankful to know that, for she wanted nothing more than for her friends and family to know their Savior.

Thanks for being who you were to so many, Grandma! Happy 90th birthday!  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I'm Dreaming of a . . .SNOW DAY!

Yes, we've had a lot of blowing snow all day today, and the kids are hoping for a snow day tomorrow.  Personally I would prefer a delay, but I don't know if the snow gods are asking for my input.  

My two youngest kids are pulling out all the stops to make it happen.  Their eldest sister recalls lots of tricks to make a snow day a guarantee, including wearing your jammies inside out, putting a spoon under your pillow and placing a crayon on the windowsill.  They have carefully executed every step in their three-point plan.

It seems pretty foolproof to me.  To those of you who live nearby and would enjoy a snow day, you're welcome!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Things That Make Me Happy

Things that make me happy:

A friend recently told me nonchalantly that she was making a charcuterie spread for a party, and I had to stop the conversation and make her repeat herself.  Charcuterie was a word I had read many times before, but never had I ever heard it spoken.  Being the word-lover I am, I was smitten.  I immediately looked into its meaning further and a day or two later, created my own little take on a charcuterie spread. My family didn't care what it was called -- they just enjoyed eating it!

I have run across this quote many times over the years, and each time it gives me pause.  Each time I read it, I am reminded that my absolute most important job in this world is mothering my children.  Many other things vie for my attention (many, many other things!), but truly, my children are my most important work. 

When we left for our three-hour drive to our Thanksgiving celebration last week, our dear doggie was in the way back of the Expedition.  About mid-way through the trip, at my teenage son's urging, he made the leap over the seat and into the middle row.  He didn't have much space there, as there were already three people occupying that row.  He made do on the floor or on someone's lap and looked generally uncomfortable.  I was imaging he was regretting his choice to leave his seat in the way back.  But perhaps not.  Perhaps he was just biding his time to reach his true goal:  the front seat.  When my husband and a child got out to to use the restroom (it was a dire emergency and couldn't wait 45 more minutes!), Shadow made his move.  He wriggled into the driver's seat.  I thought it was pretty funny and left him there until my husband arrived.  We all laughed when he saw him, but a moment later, my husband had given the pooch a little shove into my seat and off we went.  So for the remaining 45 minutes of our trip, I had a 40-pound canine sitting next to me/on my lap.  It was Not Especially Enjoyable.

Our living room mantel, decked out for Christmas.  The silver and green sparkles make me happy.  I love having the lamps off in there and just enjoying the Christmas lights from the mantel and the little tree. 

AND - things that do not make me particularly happy:

When we arrived home after our Thanksgiving break, we found our fridge's water dispenser had been dripping (despite the fact that we had turned off the water in our house, like we always do!!), and there was a big puddle on the hard woods.  We have been drying them out and using a dehumidifier.  The jury is still out on their future. 
(You can see Shadow looking on. . .he is probably concerned about the availability of his treats, stored under the sink.)