Friday, November 26, 2010

Good things and special days

November has been full of so many good things and special days.  Three birthdays and a major holiday.  Here are some pictures.

(Note:  We are not professionals.  (Yet.)  Most of our winter pictures are indoors.  Most of these pictures are taken in the same four rooms with the same. yellow. lighting. that. drives. us. crazy. when. we. take. pictures.)

Early in the month I celebrated my 42nd birthday.  This is my last time to ever tell you my age.  Here, you are treated to a glimpse of my "chocolate on chocolate on chocolate" birthday brownie, made by the man who knows me best in this world.  Marry a man like this, girls.

(Bonus glimpse:  the crowded walls and bookshelves of a homeschooling family of 11.  Bookshelves and school supplies and original kidprints and punctuation charts EVERYWHERE!  If crowded conditions drive you crazy, don't come here.)

 Here's a random baby picture.  Gabe is 7 weeks old.  Fifty days, to be exact.  Growing way too fast.  (Try to ignore my house-robe in the background.  Focus on the monkeys.)

Mariam turned three.

An expressive three.

A really expressive three.
(Doesn't it look like Ty Pennington just yelled "Move that bus?")
Moved to tears by candles.  Imagine what she's do with a room redo.

Three.  So easy to please.

We gave her a Rosy doll.  It was a huge hit!

I wanted a soft, simple (not hard, plastic) baby that she could cuddle and sleep with.  This dolly really is great in that respect.  This mama recommends it for the three and under crowd.  They have a boy baby, too, and darker skin and hair colors.

Then, a truly huge day arrived.  Emily got her braces off!
Above is before, below is after.

Two years.  Wow.
Em's birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year.
She's wisened up, and realized that if 
she chooses to celebrate it at a later date, 
she gets TWO special days with foods that she loves.
We'll celebrate her birthday next week.  She's fifteen now. 
That's hard to believe.  It seems like SHE should be turning three.  Sigh.

My parents came to our house for Thanksgiving.  The weather was horrid with torrential rains and wind, but we really had a lovely time inside.  Here's Miss Mariam talking with Grandpa - who is thrilled to be able to drive again after two months of being a "shut-in."

I tried a few new things this year, and learned that I'm still capable of learning new tricks.  I followed the instructions of my friend Connie, and brined our turkey.  It was very tasty.  I liked the quick baking time.  I also finally conquered pie crust,  thanks to Suzanne McMinn at Chickens in the Road.  I have feared pie crust my entire life.  I sense that my life has now changed, and I will be responsible for bringing pies to every family gathering.  (Wait a minute...what have I done?  Do I want to be responsible for pies for the rest of my life?  Should I rethink this?)

And finally, in other news,  have you met the twins?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The post cleverly titled "Update!"

*This post (er, ramble...) brought to you courtesy of my daughter, Emily.  Truly, this blog is partially Emily's, as she takes all of the photos.   It is also by virtue of Brand New Playdoh, which provides at least an hour of entertainment and buys me some computer time from the little people.

Our family is doing well.  Gabe continues to grow and fill out nicely.  He has fat rolls on his legs  - which stands to reason.  The boy was born hungry.  He seems to always be saying, "Uh...I could eat." 

The big guys think he is losing his newborn look - and I have to agree.  He's becoming more alert, interested in things that are happening around him, even giving a few quick smiles here and there.  I love those first smiles!

Daddy and Mariam

Gabe is 5 weeks old now.  This time, since his birth, has been a good time of healing and restoration for our family.  My parents are both doing much better from their surgeries from this fall.  They are regaining strength and independence.  They still need us, of course, but it is not as intensive as it was this summer.  My father has been cleared to put weight on his foot/hip that was broken, and after 8 weeks he is finally able to drive again.  I know that it feels good to them to be able to have a bit of their lives back.

Roses from my 16 year old son, Nick.  No reason...just because he was passing the flower shop.  
It feels good to us, too, to be able to focus inwardly on our family more, to do things that we simply could not do with them over the past months.  It seems to me that I missed so much during the times of Jeff's illness, and my parent's surgeries.  The little ones grew so much during this time, and I wasn't there for it.  So now, I try to make time for trips to the park, and games, and stories, and crafts and cookies.  Sometimes, it's even just time for an extra long hug or a quick tickle.  Their little eyes light up as if they are surprised that mama does these things.  My heart is touched when Jeff says "yes" to a story or to a game after a 12 hour work day.  Our little ones are so hungry for us right now.  May God grant us the time and energy that they each need! 

Denim jacket and a tutu.  I love this....
 The summer was too long.  It was all necessary, but parts of it took a toll.  It is difficult to be pulled between the needs of elderly parents and young children.  Sometimes, the choice comes down to who has the most pressing needs, and we talked about this openly with the bigger kids.  We never know when we, or they, or the people they marry, or their own children some day might be the one who needs our help.  I promised them that we would do the same, would be there for them if they need us.  And they will do the same for us, and for each other, and for others as God leads them.  That's family.  That's God's family - standing strong for one another thru tough times.  Not always perfectly, sometimes messing up from exhaustion, but still...there.  We've all grown through these tough days.

And now, it just seems a time to cultivate and to restore joy, to rebuild after a time of drought and locusts.   (It's also a time of hard work and long hours to begin to pay for several major medical emergencies!)

I don't know what God has planned - but that's my hope for the next six months or so.  I want to be purposeful about our immediate family, to check the individual seams of our family garment to see who needs to be strengthened or mended (or even ironed!)    Jeff and I want to be sure each child, each individual, knows how loved and treasured they are.  We want to help them develop their interests and their talents and relationships. We're at an interesting time frame, with almost four teens!  We've got individuality and personality all over the place! 

A good friend of mine died a few weeks ago.  Her name was Mary, and she was only 47 years of age when she died of complications related to Mesothelioma.  Mary had a hard life, but she had such a beautiful spirit of gratitude.  She willingly put away bitterness and chose trust and hope thru many difficult trials.   Mary was the mother of three children, two still at home, and she mothered many more children over her life.  Her relationships were so important to her.

Mary's life and passing have brought into focus for me, once again, the need to live life now, to make the most of these days we have been given.  We can't dwell in the past, we can't count too much on days to come.  The relationships we have with our children, our loved ones, our friends - they matter.  They are worth our time and our investment.  They are worth risk, and long days, and hard work, and yes, sacrifice.  Our prayer for you, our friends, is the same as for ourselves:  joy, and healing, and restoration, and beauty in your relationships. 

Until next time.....

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I sat down to write a post...
but this little man woke up
and I got very distracted.
Can I still get away with
only a picture?