Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That all may see...

... how great is our God!!

Today, Stellan is going home!!!  

Oh, let me say that again because it feels so very good... today, Stellan is going home!!  He's responding well to his current meds, his heart has not flipped back into SVT, the doctors are confident he's ready to leave, and-- by golly-- he and his mama are ready to fly the coop! Discharged yesterday from the Boston Children's Hospital, the two of them spent the night in a neighboring hotel, and this morning, they'll catch their flight back to the "rainy tundra," back to the arms of their family... Stellan is going home!  Hallellujah... praise you LORD!

"I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever. 
For great is your love toward [him];
You have delivered [him] from the depths of the grave."

Psalm 86:12-13


Spring lambs

What could be sweeter than a newborn lamb?  How about several?!
These little guys were only 10 days old.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Frontier Culture Museum

A couple weeks ago (while on spring break), mom and I decided to pack up the kiddos and head west-- over the mountains towards Staunton, Virginia, home of the Frontier Culture Museum. Over the past several months, a slew of advertisements had crossed mom's path, and after reading through each one, her curiosity was effectively piqued.  So now-- with a whole week to ourselves-- it seemed the perfect time to venture west for a look-see.  And boy, am I glad we did, as we all had a fabulous time!

"The Frontier Culture Museum is an outdoor, living history museum featuring exhibits and programs that explore the origins and history of the American people."
-- brochure

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, the museum maintains a 1750's English cottage, an Irish farm house, a German farm house, and three American homes, circa 1740, 1820, & 1850 respectively. These homes have been fully restored and furnished as they likely would have been in their original condition.  To bring the homes to life, the employees then (dressed in period costumes) station themselves throughout the grounds-- in the houses or in the gardens, anxious to answer questions and share tidbits of information which might prove interesting to their guests.  They also work the land-- planting vegetables, building fences-- in an effort to constantly improve upon what's already there.  

While we were strolling around, a cooper made buckets for use on the property, two ladies dyed hard boiled eggs (in onion skins and crushed beetles) in preparation for an English Easter celebration, an "Irish wife" spun thread on her spinning wheel and then passed it off to "her husband" for him to then weave into cloth on the loom.  What a treat! Each of these folks convincingly portrayed characters from days gone by, and each truly gave us a great sense of what life must have been like generations ago (though the boys still prefer modern-day America with their video games and dvds... go figure!)

In the above photo, Bub especially appreciated the wooden shoes-- "old-fashioned Crocs," he called them (though they were surely not as comfy as today's rubbery version), and all three enjoyed a round or two in the outdoor bowling lane before we called it a day~

Tomorrow I'll post a few more pics (and perhaps even some on Wednesday, too :)  We had a delightful time-- and thankfully, the weather cooperated, too, providing us with a perfect introduction to spring!  (Of course, now as I type this, we're anticipating another 95 degree day... whatever happened to spring??  I'm not ready for July temperatures yet!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Global Edition

So here we go... the very last edition of Heidi's  Living Lovely with Family series.  I've really enjoyed participating and I've gathered a ton of great ideas along the way... so thank you, Heidi, for your creativity and your leadership-- it's been fun and awfully beneficial!

For the last installment, we're sharing ways to promote a healthy view of the world and its people... ways to raise our children with a global perspective.  Hmmm, not something I think about every day, yet oh-so vitally important. 

When I first saw the topic for this week, it through me for a bit of loop; it wasn't quite as straightforward as the others.  It required a bit of thought-- there are lots of things we do on a regular basis to try and instill in our children a regard for others around the world, some very obvious and intentional, others a bit more subtle... not necessarily the result of a specific lesson taught.  Instead, simply a part of who we are and what we believe.  As I sat and pondered my response, I quickly came to the conclusion that in today's society, most children, I think, tend to grow up with an extremely limited world view.  They fail to realize that the world actually extends beyond their own tiny sphere (as we like to say in out home-- "It's not all about us!") and that there are people groups on the other side of the globe (even some in their very own communities!) who are struggling just for survival.  Some look just like us and others look as different as night to day.  And yet all are precious in the eyes of God!  As our childhood favorite reminds us, "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world."  

I doubt that our family will ever travel around the world to see for ourselves the many colors of creation, though who knows??  Perhaps the LORD will surprise us by opening a door that we'd never seek out ourselves?  In the meantime, Chris and I are doing what we can at home to teach our children about the whole world and the fact that though we're all different, Christ died for us all.

"For God so loved the world 
that He gave His one and only Son,
 that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish,
 but have everlasting life."

John 3:16 

As privileged Americans, we are no more deserving of God's love than any other-- I think it's important that our children realize this!  We are so thankful for the sacrifice Christ made at Calvary, and while we embrace His free  gift of salvation, we must share it with this lost and hurting world.  As followers of Jesus, it's our job to not only care for the less fortunate, but to also share His measureless love at the same time. 

To get us started on a practical front, the boys and I are currently studying world geography several times a week.  My two oldest work together to label a large laminated map as best they can-- continents, countries, oceans, seas-- and after they've exhausted themselves, we add 2 or 3 new locations for the next time.  It's amazing how much they've retained in just a little bit of time!  As part of our studies, we also read about various people groups in books like A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth by Ann Voskamp, Children Just Like Me, the M. Lasek series, Missions Now: Just Add Me! by Clifford Clark [it has recipes, too!], and The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.  We also read about missionaries, too.  We love this book, and are always on the lookout for more quality biographies.  Soon, we'll be diving into the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series for an in depth look into the lives of several missionaries and their walks of faith.

Aside from our studies, our family also sponsors a sweet little Indonesian boy named Owen. Each month, Compassion International uses the money we give to meet Owen's many needs, and those of his family, as well.  They provide food, educational materials, clothing, Bibles, godly instruction, and a whole host of other materials necessary for their survival in today's climate. Together, our family prays for Owen and we write him letters many times each year to encourage him and to share a bit more about ourselves each time.  When his letters arrive in the mail, we all enjoy reading them aloud every time.  It's been a blessing and a privilege-- not to mention an eye-opening experience-- to share a bit of our abundance with him!

At Christmas time, we also take part in Operation Christmas child, a fabulous project organized by Samaritan's Purse, designed to share God's love-- and gifts!-- with those living in desperate conditions.  Their Gift Catalog offers oodles of gift-giving options, too--anything from a handful of chicks to a dairy goat to a box of Bibles, translated in a foreign tongue-- and each year we enjoy picking out just the right gift to, again, benefit those in need.  

When it's all said and done, Chris and I have one main priority, and that is to raise our children to the love the LORD with every fiber of their being and to nurture in them servant hearts... hearts sold out to Christ and set on glorifying Him in all they say and do.  Part of that mindset requires a passion for the lost and the hurting all over the globe, and what better time to model this world view than now?

"Then the King will say to those on His right,
 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father,
 inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 

I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; 
I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; 
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
 naked, and you clothed Me;
 I was sick, and you visited Me;
 I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

 "The King will answer and say to them, 

'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

Matthew 25:34-40

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A true football fan

I'm a bit out of my element today... two of my kiddos are gone all. day. long. and I don't know what to do with myself! This morning Bub & Noh-man rose at the crack of dawn to head into work with Chris-- it's Bring your Kids to Work Day (for ages 8-12)-- and they were very excited... I'm not quite sure, though, if they were anxious to see their daddy's place of employment or of they were just thrilled to get out of school work for the day! Either way, they were up and ready, and just past 7 am (thankfully I was awake!) they called to say hello... on the speaker phone! Evidently, they just had to try it out!

Anyhoo, when Big Man awoke an hour later, he wasn't too pleased with being left behind, so after a bit of cuddling and a few soothing words, I did what any other clever mother might. I offered him a bribe (grin)-- lunch out... his choice... but no more tears (he deserved a treat, too, don't ya think??).

It worked beautifully. So after preschool, we headed to Wendy's and while we ate, we chatted a bit and then settled in to watching all the previews and entertainment clips that streamed across the giant flat screen tv mounted on the wall right next to our table. Big Man loved every second of it, and sat, transfixed... especially when the top 10 NFL plays of 2008 flashed across the screen. Immediately he recognized his favorite teams and began to list them off... "I like the Eagles and the Cowboys and the Redskins and the Cardinal and the Raisins..." I can only imagine he meant the Ravens :)

Spring... glorious spring!

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size."   

-- Gertrude S. Wister

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A few good books

So here's my pitiful confession: I am a literary delinquent. I'm surrounded by great books, I was educated on great books, I revise lists of great books (daily!) for my boys to enjoy, and yet I never read those great books for myself. For my own pleasure. Ever.

To put it in to perspective-- I cannot remember the last good book I read, just for fun. Pretty sad, huh? Yes, I read lots of great books aloud to my boys, and yes, I enjoy most of them tremendously, but open up a bestseller for my own personal gain? Well, it just doesn't happen. And yes, I know the many benefits that flow naturally from a helthy diet of literary works-- that's why I'm always tweaking the boys' lists... to make sure they read all the best stuff. But take the time for myself to tackle one-- somehow, it just doesn't happen. No, instead life happens. And one thing or another requires my attention until voila... another day passes without any me/book time.

So what's the point, you ask? Well, I'll tell ya-- embarrassed terribly by this pathetic reality, I'm determined to make a change. There are so many fantastic books on the book shelves nowadays; I simply must make time for a few of them.

So, over the past few weeks I've been collecting titles and I've been compiling a list... for me. Most of them are ones I've never read, though there are a few that I enjoyed eons ago and would love to appreciate once again. As for the assortment: there are a few education-related titles, a few christian living ones, some parenting books, some modern fiction, and a few juvenile fiction titles, as well (specifically ones I've seen on the lists of others-- ones their kiddos enjoyed... ones that I just might pass along to my boys if they pass muster.). There are a few classics on the list and quite possibly a few other titles that don't really fit in to any of the aforementioned categories. Either way, these books will keep me busy for quite some time (though hopefully I'll embrace this new challenge and fly through my list quickly. And then I'll make another list!). So, onward and upward as I resume an old habit that never should have been relegated to the bottom rung of my to-do-list~

Without further ado, here's my list (in no particular order):

Sacred Marriage-- Gary Thomas
O Pioneers!-- Willa Cather
Till We Have Faces-- C.S. Lewis
The Count of Monte Cristo-- Alexandre Dumas
Little Women-- Louisa May Alcott
The Giver-- Lois Lowry
The Thief Lord-- Cynthia Funke
Maggie Rose: Her Birthday Christmas-- Ruth Sawyer
Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading-- Lawrence Goldstone
Three Cups of Tea-- Greg Mortenson
Cheaper by the Dozen-- Frank Gilbreth
The Latin-Centered Curriculum, 2nd edition-- Andrew Campbell
My Antonia-- Willa Cather
The Little French Girl-- Anne Douglas Sedgwick
Raising a Modern-Day Knight-- Robert Lewis
He Speaks to Me-- Priscilla Shirer
The Hole in Our Gospel-- Richard Stearns
The Mysterious Benedict Society-- Trenton Lee Stewart
The Silver Chalice-- Thomas B. Costain
Anne of Green Gables-- L.M. Montgomery
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-- Betty Smith
Ruth-- Elizabeth Gaskell
I Dared to Call Him Father-- Bilquis Sheikh
David Copperfield-- Charles Dickens
To Kill a Mockingbird-- Harper Lee
Les Miserables-- Victor Hugo
A Year in Provence-- Peter Mayle
Hind's Feet on High Places-- Hannah Hurnard
The Bronze Bow-- Elizabeth George Speare
The Scarlet Pimpernel-- Baroness Emma Orczy
A Wrinkle in Time-- Madeleine L'Engle
The Pursuit of God-- A.W. Tozer
Mere Christianity-- C.S. Lewis

So there it is~ lots-o-books to keep me busy for lots-o-time... wish me luck!

oh, p.s.-- if any of you have any favorites in any genre, please pass the titles along-- I'd actually love to add a few more to my list! thanks :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

An update on Stellan

For the past several weeks, the boys and I have been praying for a tough little guy named Stellan.  He's been fighting for his life for four weeks now, first in the Minneapolis Children's Hospital, and now in Boston with a new team of specialists.  He's had great days and he's had some not-s0-great ones (to say the least), yet he continues to fight... to God be the glory!  If you have any interest in following his story, check out his mom's blog (she updates it very regularly), or to learn just a tiny bit about his condition, feel free to read my original post here.

So, here's the skinny... tomorrow Stellan will be undergoing a very difficult surgery (= an ablation)-- a surgery that, up to this point, his doctors have avoided because it's extremely risky in one so small (and young).  Now, however, they have decided they must travel down that road after all-- it's their only (or best) option-- and his parents are in full agreement.  In preparation for this procedure, the specialists started weaning him off some of his iv meds this past weekend, and thankfully, his body handled it very well.  

How. in. the. world. are. they-- his parents-- surviving???   I simply cannot imagine.  We are so blessed with healthy children and with so many other creature comforts.  Viewing Stellan's struggles from the sidelines sure puts my monetary afflictions into perspective. 

How is his mother still sane??  What about his dad, who's home with their other children half-way across the country-- how's he surviving??  How do they sleep at night?  How do they make it through these terribly dark days, and how do they rise again each morning, only to press forward one more time?


God's marvelous grace...

His riches at Christ's expense. His unmerited favor, lavished on us~

"Each time He said, 'My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.'  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That's why I take pleasure in weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Amen!  We serve a mighty God!  And as my eldest likes to remind me, "He is mighty to save!"  So please, if you feel so compelled to pray for this little guy or for his family or for his doctors or for anyone else who might be attached to his care, please do so.  After reading Jennifer's blog (that's his mom), I feel certain she covets any and all prayers lifted towards heaven on behalf of her son.

Prayers for Stellan

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Psalm 91:14-16

Friday, April 17, 2009


As I'm getting older, I think the days are getting shorter.  And shorter.  And shorter.  And I wonder-- is that possible?? Could there really be less time in my day now than there was, say... 10 years ago??  Is it possible that I no longer have 24 hours to call my own??  Oh, please say 'yes' because it sure feels that way :)

Anyhoo-- over the course of Easter weekend, we had a few activities on our to-do-list that needed tackling... you know, the usual Easter-y sorts of things that we do every year and surely wouldn't forsake this go round!  For days, we had talked about dying eggs (the boys love this project!) but due to various and sundry things (all good), we just never got around to it.  Finally on Sunday afternoon, church came and went as did a scrumptious Easter dinner; Lolli called it quits and crashed in her crib; the men turned on the the final round of the Masters... and the hard boiled eggs finally came out of the frig.  Mom and I summoned the boys to the kitchen to mix their colors, and as always, they dipped and they dunked their eggs in all sorts of crazy combinations... and they actually created quite a few beauties~  (and thankfully, they had a full array of colors as Big Man didn't eat a single dye tablet!)

Much fun.  Then... with the eggs drying on the counter, it was time to move on to project #2.  Here's the scoop-- a couple weeks ago, our neighbor gave us a bunny cake "pattern" that she had unearthed while cleaning out her cupboards.  Upon discovering it, she thought of the boys  and therefore gave it to us-- just in case we might enjoy putting such a thing together.  Thinking it looked like fun, Bub and I decided to give it a shot and were actually quite pleased with our results:

Then, to top off the day, mom, Wilma, and I hid 102 of those colorful plastic eggs in the garden before calling the crew outdoors for the hunt. They'd been asking about it for days (Big Man, especially) and were tickled to finally get down to business.  In no time at all, they found all but 4 (perhaps the deer will stumble across those leftovers and enjoy a belated Easter treat :) and then plunked down on the sidewalk to check out their loot.  

Blue skies, warm breezes, timeless activities... making memories with family.  There's just no better way to spend the holidays!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter... a glance back

A week and a half ago, the kids and I hopped in our tightly-packed van and drove to the mountains for a much-needed and highly-anticipated spring vacation.  Chris was out of town on travel, and we were desperate-- desperate for a break from school, from swimming, and from our normal routine in general-- so we hit the road and never looked back! 

For 10 days we were blessed with great company, fabulous eats, fun adventures, restful sleep, and a lovely time, all the way around.  We just returned home this afternoon (reluctantly!)... refreshed, restored, and so-very-grateful for family.

Dave, Wilma, D & G (their precious 7 month olds) joined us for Easter weekend, and together we celebrated this special holiday.  After church on Sunday morning, we took a few photos of the crew... unfortunately, by the time we got around to snapping a picture of the 6 grandchildren all together, Lolli was done.  Well done.  Completely over it, in fact.  As all the other little ones cooperated fully, though, she didn't have to suffer for long-- a few quick shots and we were done.  The mementos were stored for posterity, and little Lolli was off for a nap :) 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christ the LORD is risen today!

Resurrection Hymn

See, what the morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the graveclothes, tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce Christ is risen!
See God’s salvation plan, wrought in love,
Borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, for He lives:
Christ is risen from the dead!

Verse 2
See Mary weeping, “Where is He laid?”
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years, speaking life,
Stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound ’til He appears, for He lives,
Christ is risen from the dead!

Verse 3
One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty,
Honor and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with power and authority.
And we are raised with Him, death is dead,
Love was won, Christ has conquered.
And we shall reign with Him, for He lives,
Christ is risen from the dead!

--Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead...' "

Matthew 28:5-7a

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Vacation Edition

"No one needs a vacation more than the person who just had one."

Can anyone relate??! You bet I can! Every time we return home from anywhere, Chris and I always comment on our state of exhaustion, and the fact that we're not supposed to be tired, but rested.

Anyhoo. Vacation.... that's this week's theme at Living Lovely with Family. Heidi, over at Mt. Hope Chronicles, is really hoping to gather a few out-of-the-box vacation ideas, and hopefully a few affordable ones, too (especially ideas for those on a shoe-string budget... and who isn't these days?!). Unfortunately, I don't have much experience on either front-- the one mega vacation we took as a family required months and months of saving (and sadly, it'll be a very long while before we save enough for a repeat performance!), and our other vacations have been supplied by our wonderfully generous parents.

Over the past few days, though, mom and I have been discussing this very subject, and together we've come up with a few possible ideas:

1. Plan a stay-cation... a few days or maybe even a week full of day trips in our surrounding area. No need for hotels or even expensive restaurants-- breakfast at home and picnic lunches will do just fine. And since we live in northern Virginia, our family has excellent access to all sorts of fabulous stuff-- like the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. and the battlefields in Manassas; the fabulous aquarium in Baltimore and the gorgeous harbor district in Annapolis. A day trip into Richmond is an easy drive, and there's a wonderful children's museum there to boot. Even Williamsburg is doable, and we have wonderful friends nearby. Grin. So, lots of opportunties for fun... right in our own backyard!

2. Take advantage of family in friends who live in other places (== free lodging!). For instance, mom and dad live in the mountains and there are all sorts of unique opportunties to discover and explore in their neck of the woods. Mom is always on the look-out for more neat finds... why not recruit others to help in that process?? Like other family members, perhaps, or close friends. Surely they'd be tickled to participate and contribute to a little family fun (I think?!). Another for instance-- a few years ago my in-laws moved to South Dakota, and while my oldest two have visited their new home, the rest of us have not. I'd love to haul my entire crew out there for an extended visit, as I know there's a ton of cool stuff to see and do out west! Surely, when the time is right, they'd be willing to help create an itinerary for us as they are much more familiar with the area (and we'd have a free place to stay!).

3. Chris would love-- absolutely love-- to rent an RV for a traveling tour of the U.S. (I'm not sure if this qualifies for a shoe-string-budget or not, what with gasoline expenses and all. I guess I'll find out one day if we really look in to it!). Back in college, he and his buddies rented one for spring break and drove to the Florida Keys, and ever since then, he's been itching to do it all again (with us though... not them!). While the idea has grown on me over time, I'm still a bit hesitant... would we all survive?? That's a lot of us (don't forget the dog) cooped up in a tight space, leaving no route of escape when the male members of the family start snoring (that includes the dog). Just kidding. But seriously, I'd really, really like to tour New England-- Boston and Martha's Vineyard and the coast of Maine, too. Oh, and then there's Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. So many, many wonderful places that I'd love to see (and that I'd love to see with my family)...

Well, that's about it from this end. Hopefully, other readers will step up to the plate with oodles of helpful ideas; I'll certainly be checking in frequently (to Heidi's blog) because our family could surely benefit from the creativity of others!! Especially in these tough economic times, inexpensive-- yet fun!-- would be ideal :)

In the meantime, here's a little peak at the vacation adventures we've found thus far:

A year and a half ago, Chris and I took the boys on our first big vacation... we went to the greatest place on earth, and let me just tell you, it truly is the best! We went to Disney World, and it was utterly fantastic. Incredible. Unbelievable. A must-do. Really, and worth every penny!

We traveled to Orlando the week following Thanksgiving and it was absolutely perfect! Delightful temperatures, all week long, and the crowds... well, there were none (relatively speaking, of course)! Also, all the Disney parks had already been decorated for Christmas, making them even more magical than we'd imagined.

Another huge Orlando hit-- Seaworld! Top-notch shows (we all left with a desperate passion to become dolphin trainers!), phenomenal displays, gorgeous landscaping, and a fabulous new roller coaster-- which Chris had to experience alone. Sigh. Noh & Big Man weren't tall enough, Bub wasn't interested, and I couldn't ride (I was 7 months pregnant at the time). Ever the trooper, Chris "suffered" alone, while Noh-man stood drooling at the gates.

"My soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me."

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Aahhh... the beach! We love the beach, and every year we're blessed with a trip or two to the coast. For years now, Chris's mom has been taking us to North Myrtle Beach for a week's vacation and it has been a highlight of every summer. And last year mom and dad took us to Cape May for a week in July-- a return to mom's old stompin' grounds-- and it was an incredible treat! This summer, we're looking forward to a week in both places. The only down side-- the return trip home. How I'd love to own a little cottage near the shore-- a place to hang our hats (or our suits) for weeks on end as we soak up the sun, savor the fresh ocean breezes, and enjoy the peace and tranquility that is the beach!

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
--Robert Orben

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."

--Jacques Cousteau

"Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen."

--Stephen Wright

"Don't grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach."

--Michelle Held

"Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Family is not an important thing, it's everything."
--Michael J. Fox

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

The pink bow

On Sunday afternoon, I ran a few errands while Lolli napped and the guys snacked.  Just the typical stuff-- a library in & out and the grocery store, followed by a quick drop-in to a little shop up the street.  I needed to pick up a cosmetic bag I had ordered weeks ago, and since all the littles were home with daddy, I seized the opportunity (because as any mother knows... a trip to a women's boutique with little people in tow== a recipe for disaster!).  The owner immediately handed my purchase, beautifully wrapped in a little white bag (which was stuffed with hot pink & green tissue and then tied at the handles with a delicate pink ribbon... I just love that extra touch!), and then I cruised out the door and down the street towards home.

By the time I pulled in the driveway, the guys had polished off a large canister of peanuts and two bags of Goldfish, and Lolli was awake and hungry!  I plopped her in her highchair, placed a few cheerios on her tray, and then unpacked the groceries and dropped my new bag in my purse.  Lolli and I then snacked a bit more together... and then that pretty pink ribbon, now strewn across the kitchen table, caught my eye.  Two years ago, in my pre-Lolli days, I never would have given a pink ribbon another thought (the boys aren't too keen on them, as you can imagine :), but now that I'm full throttle in little girl mode, a ribbon this pretty and pink just couldn't be tossed in the trash.  

So into Lolli's hair it went.  And she looked so precious with that floppy bow on top of her head, I just had to snap a few photos.  Here are a few:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

John 1:1-4

"In the beginning was the Word,
 and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God. 
 He was with God in the beginning.  
Through Him all things were made; 
without Him nothing was made that has been made. 
 In Him was life, 
and that life was the light of men."

John 1:1-4

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Yearly Edition

"What an enormous magnifier is tradition!  How a thing grows in the human memory and in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it."

Thomas Carlyle

This week's installment of Living Lovely with Family is all about yearly traditions.  Heidi posted about her family's wonderful traditions at Mt. Hope Chronicles, and several others have shared as well. It's really been a lot of fun-- this sharing of ideas-- and encouraging, too!  There really are so many fun things to do with family, big things and little things, that build lasting memories... and that's what this series is all about!  So if you're interested in reading any of the other posts, check out the links on Heidi's blog.  

In our family, many of our yearly activities are tied tightly to our vacations (but since that's the topic for next week, I'll save the vacation pics until then) and the holidays.  Being with family-- both the immediate & extended-- is important to me.  Very important.  I truly am a "the-more-the-merrier" sort of gal when it comes to celebrating special occasions with loved ones.  So whether it's sharing some turkey with all the fixin's around the Thanksgiving table or a hamburger and hotdog around the grill on the 4th of July... family is where it's at!

A few other activities that have inhabited special spots on our calendar are:

Trunk or treating at Big Man's preschool on (or around) Halloween.  My older two enjoy handing out candy to the little ones, though this past year they were a bit disappointed that we hadn't decorated our van to "compete" with the one parked next to us.  For the next couple years, we'll have to occupy ourselves with a new tradition (as Big Man will no longer be in preschool); but then it will be Lolli's turn and we'll all be able to enjoy this fun once again!

Every year, as we prepare for Christmas, we make several batches of homemade donuts to eat while we decorate the tree.  Mom and dad started this tradition years ago, and to this day, we all look forward to this scrumptious treat at least once (and hopefully a time or two more) during the holiday season.  

Then, on Christmas Eve night, the kiddos always open one gift each-- and it's always a present from Gramoggie & Poppa.  And every time, it's a new pair of Christmas jammies!  We love this great tradition that Gramoggie started before the kids were even born (I get a pair, too :)

And every year, we spend a chuck of our Christmas holiday with mom and dad at their house.  It just wouldn't we Christmas if we didn't!  Unfortunately, Chris's folks live very far away so we don't always get to see them then, but we look forward to their visits when they do make it east!

As Easter approaches, we always dye hard-boiled eggs to enjoy around the table (last year we didn't have any green ones, though, because Big Man ate the green dye tablet!  He quickly realized it wasn't candy.), and then we stuff plastic ones with goodies to hide and hunt outdoors.  The boys have already requested money inside the plastic eggs this year instead of candy!  

After Easter comes and goes, summer is never too far away, and that means... a Memorial Day picnic to kick off the season and then a pool party to wrap it up.  At the tail end of summer, Uncle Don & Aunt Francie always host an annual get-together, and there we gather with Chris's side of the family for a day of tremendous fun!  Even though most of us live within a couple hours of each other, hectic schedules and individual commitments prevent us from getting together on a more regular basis.  So when a date is set for this gathering, we black it out, insuring that nothing else conflicts with this special day :)

We love this time together with family... 

...and good eats 

... and a dip in the pool

... and a show of tricks

...and of course-- a Michael Phelps pose or two :)

One other summer tradition that we've maintained for quite a few years now is a family favorite for oh-so-many reasons... the county fair!  Funnel cakes, salty french fries, giant sodas,  hair-raising rides, and all the people-watching a gal could want :)  In years past we've gone with my folks to their county fair; last year we went to our own. Of course, when I made arrangements with some good friends to all go together, neither of us realized that the day we chose was "Dollar Day."  Evidently, the rest of the county did know that little fact because they were all there!  We didn't get to ride too many things because the lines were so long, but being there together-- and with friends, to boot-- made it all worthwhile!

And so with that in mind, I leave off with this "lovely" thought (and for any who might read this, please know that I mean this in the most sarcastic sort of way... sometimes this sort of humor just makes me chuckle):

"If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair.  Because in five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright.  We are dang near royalty.' "

--Jeff Foxworthy