...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stuff

It happens to me the last week of every year. I begin to feel closed in and smothered by "stuff" and feel an overwhelming urge to pare down, organize, and label. The decor which added such a feeling of cozy warmth just a month ago now hems me in, and begs to be put back to rest in storage. I have no issues with returning seasonal decor to storage, but organization is a huge stretch for me. It is not my talent--at all. I don't like to be wasteful, and so paring down is difficult for me. I always seem to come up with ideas for why or how something could become useful at some point. The problem with this line of thinking, is that the opportunity for a given object's use may not come along for a loooooong time. I am also not the best organizer. Few things aggravate me more than complete disorder and disarray; however, coming up with a plan to avoid this is difficult for me. My husband, who is masterful in this area, gave me a tip:

"If it is not FUNCTIONAL or FABULOUS, it has to go."

Also, I have an unusual task this year, in that I am trying to disassemble our school room. I need to find a way to fit six years' worth of books, kits, and supplies into 1/2 of the nursery closet and book shelves throughout the house. It's been such a treat having a room set aside for all of our school books and supplies, and I feel rather sad to give it up. However, it is time--time to make room for more beds for more little people! So far, I have about 1/4 of it moved and in place.

Has anyone else noticed how organizational projects turn into a series of rabbit trails? In bringing up school supplies to the nursery closet, the nursery had to be totally cleaned out and organized. The baby books that were in the closet had to move to the changing table shelf, so the blankets on the changing table shelf needed to be pared down and either boxed up or put in the sale pile. This brings me to another topic--the high mountain and sea of boxes which is the sale pile. We've been saving all our left-over items from October's adoption fund-raising sale for our planned fund-raising sale in May. I am so thankful for all this "junk" which will hopefully become someone else's treasure come May...which will bring us one step closer to bringing home that wonderful child of ours who is waiting out there--somewhere....but WOW. We have some serious STUFF around here. As I read this, I am chuckling to myself. Indeed even talking about organization has become a rabbit trail of it's own. sigh. Well anyway, I'm REALLY looking forward to sending May's left-overs away!

Here is what I struggle with. I do not want to be ruled by stuff. Stuff takes up my very most valuable resource--time. It takes energy to maintain whatever I allow to clutter up this space of ours. It takes time away from my family which could be used much more resourcefully. Things have to be cleaned. Things have to be maintained. Things have to be organized. Things have to be put away. It is lots of fun to have toys for my children to play with, for example. However, if there are certain toys that are constantly underfoot and I am constantly nagging at little people to pick up, then I am allowing things to rule me. I'm allowing things to dictate my mood and I'm even at times allowing things to affect my dearest relationships. Wow that sounds ugly. Wow that is truth. For the most part, the boys have been trained well in this area, and pick-up well according to their ages. So one of two things needs to occur: an adjustment of my attitude or the said stuff has to go good-bye. If I go into my bedroom to retire for the night, and cannot feel peaceful because there's a stack of junk all over the dresser and the closet is stuffed with I-don't-even-know-what, it has to go. Most of the things that clutter my life I don't even care to have, but just haven't taken the time to remove. (Probably because too much time has been taken up trying to move it out of my way!)

Being a middle-class family living in the USA, we are one of the very richest 10% in the entire world. Interesting how the enemy can use either lack of stuff or over-abundance of stuff to steal peace.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rest and Reflection

For the past few years, I have tried to let go of more during Christmas time. It's so easy to fill up every day, all day with fun things in celebration of this time. Funny how despite my efforts to pare-down, the season keeps rolling by seemingly faster and faster. There are several traditions that I maintain and absolutely love to do in preparation for Christmas:

Christmas crafts with the boys
Baking cookies with little helpers
Putting up the Nativity scene
Open house Christmas party
Putting up a Christmas tree
Hanging our made-by-Grandma Christmas stockings
Sending out photo cards to loved-ones with a yearly letter

There are also things that have been loved tradition that I've had to be open to letting go if necessary--hanging outdoor lights, caroling, office parties, concerts, volunteer opportunities, and plays, to name a few. It changes from year to year. This was a year, however, when lots of things had to be let go. I've found it's increasingly important to guard my personal time, as well as our family time....all the time...but especially during special holidays. Sometimes this means saying "no" to some of the so-much-fun things, in exchange for some "nothing time". We need "nothing time" to enjoy the wonder and beauty of creation in winter--a clear, starry night, and crisp, fresh air. We need time for quiet reflection of God's gift to us in a little baby over 2000 years ago...to realize afresh that He is with us...to look forward with joyful expectation that He will return! We need time to listen to age-old carols sung by a choir...to enjoy candlelight flickering...to soak up God's Word. As much as I love and enjoy our other family Christmas traditions, we sorely miss out on the entire point if I neglect to schedule "nothing time". It can also become so busy that we are all celebrated out by the time Christmas Day actually arrives! That can be a real downer, and this year, I am working toward not allowing that to happen. I want to be purposeful about what we choose to do....take the time to do those things with the proper, God-ward perspective, and celebrate the season well.


I love this painting. Look at the peace and rest...the reverence....the JOY. Two words blew me away this week: "God's son." I relate well to the concept of a son. Just think of it though--I mean really think about it--
GOD'S SON.
The CREATOR of the universe's SON.
GOD'S SON was given birth that He would save me from death. That was His purpose.
GOD'S SON will return to us. Take a little "nothing time" with me this season and soak that in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Confessions

I have a sweet tooth. If there is anything sweet in the house, I sneak it when the kids aren't looking.
No shame.
No will-power.

So tonight, as I was sweeping up the kitchen near our gingerbread train creation, I noticed a lone gumball, and proceeded to pop it in my mouth. I tried to chew it, and then realized....

...it was a marble.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Halloween Thing

Every year I think on this, and I'm always curious to hear others' thoughts on "the Halloween thing. I hope you all will share a little with me in the form of a comment, about how you see this holiday.

So here's my Halloween history: Growing up, I loved Halloween. I plastered our house windows and doors with cardboard cut-outs of pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, and the like. I'm amazed my dear parents put up with it; it was seriously tacky around there from October 1 to November 1. One year I even fashioned a ghost out of a sheet and hung it in a Pine tree. I loved the spooky music sung in music class, and the homemade haunted houses put up in the local communities. I loved perusing the Halloween aisle at the local dime store (that's what we called it--the "dime store"--ha!)

I loved dressing up and trick-or-treating. We lived outside of town, and so when I was little, Mom would drive my brother and I around the countryside to friends' and relatives' homes to trick-or-treat. We would stay and visit a few minutes with each (or sometimes much longer than a few minutes...or so it felt to an anxious little trick-or-treater!) Every year, I looked forward to our friend Charlotte's homemade popcorn balls, and my Aunt Verlie's big bag of candy (which out of many, many bags of candy, was labeled with my own name.)

When I got a little older, I would stay overnight at a friend's house in town. We could do the traditional, walk-down-the-sidewalk-and-go-door-to-door trick-or-treating. As my classmates and I got older, Halloween evolved into overnights with a gory movie. Others preferred it to be a mischief-making event...and later into an excuse to party (not in a good way.) Kudos to my mom and dad...they kept a pretty good eye on me and I really didn't participate in the Halloween mischief. I would have if I'd had the chance, though, and I remember many who did. They got into all sorts of trouble (if they were the lucky ones who got caught...aka the ones who had people who cared enough about them to catch them.)

During college, for students on-campus, Halloween was all about the dressing up and drinking...house parties and bars. Unhealthy. Scuzzy. Skanky. Not a good thing to be a part of...and as I grew in maturity and became a Christian and grew in my Christian walk, I realized that.

As a young-married, I loved decorating at Halloween time, but stuck to the cute pumpkins and little black kitties. We moved to Alaska, and the decorating charm wore off as my cute little trinkets froze in the ground or whatever. Let's face it--pumpkins and snow just don't really go all that well together.

We had our first baby...and to have my own little dolly to dress up however I wanted was SUCH fun. At 3 months old, Little Wise Bobcat was my own little red chili pepper and he was ADORABLE. We drove him up to visit the grandparents at their cabin. (The year before he was born, I dressed up our dog--yes, our DOG, as a princess and we drove up to their cabin to "trick-or-treat"!) We visited and ate candy. What's not to like about that?!

Baby #2 came along and of course I had to dress up my newest dolly. He was an adorable baby lion and the big bro was a fireman. Adorable. We were invited to a harvest festival at a local church, which had a little hot dog supper and games/prizes for small children. Lots of fun and we did that for the next few years. The only exception was the year we tried a larger festival at the fairgrounds. YUCK. We spent 1/2 the night in notoriously long lines, about 1/4 the night trying to distract our babies from seeing some horrendously gory costumes, and the other 1/4 the night playing games. I was becoming very disenchanted, as I thought about the years to come. Is this something we really wanted to put time and energy into?

Through these years, I have noticed something else. An upping of the ante, you might say. Gone, for the most part, are the "cute" Halloween decorations I used to know as a kid. Marketed in their place, is a whole host of really, really disgusting decor. You know what I'm talking about. Things designed to strike shock and fear in a person. It used to be fun to check out the seasonal aisle. Now I find myself avoiding that area of stores entirely, particularly if I have the children with me, even needing to avoid certain stores for the entire month of October, in some cases.

Jessica, you're going a little overboard here!!!! Maybe I am. But...am I? It is my job to instill and encourage goodness in my children. Do these other things really have any place here if that is my goal? The roots of Halloween are pagan...and dark. Honestly, those things were a draw to me as a kid. I was fascinated by the spooky music, the witches and ghosts, and scary stuff. I know we could ignore those aspects (and we do) and make a big deal out of the dressing up in a good way and the candy and things. However, then we'd be setting the stage for the kids to always expect something to go on during Halloween. There's a progression to it all. Feel good/eat candy/dress up now....but one day they'll be with their fellow teenage friends and having to make a decision on a movie...or they'll be on a college campus and deciding what to do. If Halloween was always a big deal, will they still be expecting it to deliver a thrill? I'm picturing the partying and carousing and wearing of skanky outfits that goes on, all in the name of "good fun." Yuck.

I know that despite Halloween's history, many families do try and participate in the innocent aspects of it--like the dressing up/pretending/eating candy aspects. I'm not diggin' at ya if you do. :) We tried for a few years to wade through it and take the good out of it, leaving the bad. We just found that it took too darn much energy--energy that is precious and in short supply during this season of life. At some point it became apparent that we'd rather put that energy toward other means.

We've spent a few years trying to think of the perfect solution. I admit that some years I sort of lament of how fun it would be to dress my little cuties up and take them trick-or-treating. But, here's the reality: Put energy into costumes...probably money too, but definitely energy. Cover up the costumes with a huge winter coat. Brave the wind and cold and yet more WIND to go--somewhere--where we may or may not see things we'd rather not. Hmmm...no thanks.

We ditched the festivals several years ago. One year we went swimming. That was a fun alternative. We have some fun neighbors who have a hayride every year...and we look forward to that as our big harvest event in lieu of Halloween. Still there's a bit of "what should we do" as we reach the end of the month and the hoopla rises. There are good things to take part in. Do we want to? The answer, for us, has been "no".

So, for the last couple years, this is what October 31 looked like for us. A bowl of candy sat in the kitchen. We never have trick-or-treaters...but you never know...and besides, we like to eat all the left-overs (which usually consist of the entire bowl.) We got all sticky and gooey carving a big pumpkin, roasted and ate yummy pumpkin seeds, and set the pumpkin out on the front porch. We watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown over a bowl of popcorn. Before bed, we ran outside in the dark and cold in our jammies to see how pretty our pumpkin looked from the road. How boring! Except it really wasn't. It was a warm, fun evening in together...and we enjoyed it very much!

I wrote the majority of this post LAST YEAR! Here I am on October 31 once again, and here is what our night looked like. We cozily ate our family supper of homemade baked beans and potato soup. Boys cleaned up their toys and put on their jams, and returned to the kitchen table for root beer and the caramel corn we made earlier in the day. Our happy pumpkin, which we carved a couple nights ago, glowed warmly. The front porch light was on, just in case, as we laughed through the classic Great Pumpkin. A pleasant family evening, which they will hopefully remember, but without all the pomp and spook-umstance.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

8 Years of Our "Force of Nature"



Eight years ago, after a hard birth with a broken clavicle and absence of breathing, I held my little "force of nature" in my arms for the first time. My Eaglet.
video

He came in with a bang and continues to be our little firecracker. I love his positive energy, along with so many other wonderful traits, including:

I love Eaglet's heart. He received a birthday card in the mail a few days ago with $8.00 in it. His eyes became real wide as he counted his money. A few minutes later, he came running to me with a Samaritan's Purse magazine. It was opened to a page that described how for $9.00, you can feed a hungry baby or nursing mother for a week. "That's what I want to do with my money, Mommy."

I love Eaglet's artistic bent. He spends hours per week with a pencil in his hand. His birthday request was to climb the Butte and draw.



I love Eaglet's can-do spirit. He is very decisive. When something needs to be done, he gets up and gets it done.

I love watching these gifts and talents as they unfold.... I love that about parenting all my precious little knights! Love knowing that God has good plans in store for them to use these things to His glory; they're already livin' it. What else is in store?



I love you, Eaglet. I'm so thankful that part of The Master's Plan is for you to be a part of this family of ours!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Off the Deep End

We've had some BIG developments with the adoption plans here in Boyland this week. (big breath)

We found out we've been chosen to parent a baby....a caucasion baby....due sometime in June.

Interestingly, this baby will probably look a lot like Tony and I....YES. We just discovered that God has blessed us with a new little person inside! This has been a very wild, unexpected turn of events for us. Some may say after sixteen years of marriage we'd have better control over these things...but really, it's not for us to control. We've always left the option open. This was perfectly orchestrated timing...though not by us.

We're really excited to be, God-willing, welcoming TWO new ones into our family in the near future...



...because we're still following through with our adoption plans...

We're still researching and planning to see more of what our adjusted time-table looks like. We'll be welcoming our little one by birth and settling in before we can follow-through with some of our adoption details. There are still many things that we'll, God-willing, continue with now, before our baby-by-birth arrives. You may ask, "Are we CRAZY?" Do you really need to ask?! We know, however, that this is God's plan for us. He is the dream-giver, and the One who put this into our hearts. We have a child waiting to be born, and a child waiting somewhere in the world for us to come to her. We don't want to miss out, and so, we've closed our eyes, taken a deep breath and jumped off the deep end. It's an invigorating, and sort of scary place to be!

Yesterday, the morning after we found out our big news, I opened up my Max Lucado devotional and here's what the Lord had to say to me:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1

Jesus says the options are clear. On one side is the voice of safety. You can build a fire in the hearth, stay inside, and stay warm and dry for what you don't try, right? You can't fall if you don't take a stand, right? You can't lose your balance if you never climb, right? So don't try it. Take the safe route.

Or you can hear the voice of adventure--God's adventure. Instead of building a fire in the hearth, build a fire in your heart. Follow God's impulses. Adopt the child. Move overseas. Teach the class. Change careers. Run for office. Make a difference . Sure it isn't safe, but what is? --Max Lucado

We have one shot at this, People. One human life to live, and one legacy to leave. What is it that He is whispering in your heart? What chance is it He's asking you to take? Let's not miss out on a single adventure or blessing He has for us.

Friday, September 24, 2010

We're Saying YES

Lots to say here, so you may want to grab a cup of coffee or tea. I'm about to share my heart on a matter. Ok. Deep breath.

Tony and I have been beyond-blessed by our quiver of little men. Never in my wildest imaginings did I think I'd find myself the mother of FOUR boys! Words cannot even express my gratitude that my Creator saw fit to place me in this role. I LOVE being a mother. After Little Knight number 3 was born, we thought we were probably "done". Why? Well, it just felt like we had what we could handle. After he was born (and actually even before he was born,) it hit me like a ton of bricks, and although I was enjoying every fleeting moment of our newborn wonder, I couldn't shake the anxiety I felt over being "done". During those days when he was so tiny, I would cry...and I would blame it on postpartum depression. When he was two, we cleaned out the house. We sold or gave away most everything "baby"...and I cried again. I cried when someone came to buy the crib. I cried when someone hauled away the high chair. I outright bawled at the thought of getting rid of the last remaining, tiny blue outfits. I remember Tony saying to me, that if getting rid of certain things made me so sad, I should just pack those things up and save them. Someday, I'd wonder why I had kept those things and then I'd just get rid of them. "Besides," he said, "We could always adopt." The day that I would wonder why I kept back that tote-full of baby clothes never came for me. That tote always remained a symbol of "just in case"...

Upon finding out we were expecting precious little knight #4, we were somewhat surprised. However, what started out as a momentary, small shock that we really weren't "done" after all, soon turned into elation over having a new baby! I cherished every moment of my pregnancy. I LOVE pregnancy. I LOVE birth. I LOVE babies. After Keiki was born, and we were experiencing the all-out JOY of having a new member of the Brotherhood, it hit me that there was no way I could close out the possibility of more children. New life is just too precious--too sacred. He was so wonderful, and added such goodness to our family. I did not feel the slightest bit ready to call it quits, and was unashamed to admit it. I have not-so-slyly continued to make mention to my husband of having another child, and Tony has sweetly continued his jokes about buying a "short bus", calling me a "Catholic in a protestant's body". (I hope that doesn't offend any of my Catholic friends!)

Earlier this year, we had a real heart-to-heart on the matter. Long story short, Tony mentioned again (we've mentioned it several times through the years) the possibility of adoption. "It just seems like the right thing to do when there are so many children who need homes." At that moment something unexplainable happened. Adoption took root in my heart. Or maybe it's that it was always there....the "adoption gene", as it is called.

We had mentioned it through the years while talking about how many children we hoped to have. I have been touched personally by adoption. My two younger cousins joined our family through adoption. It touched me very deeply as a young girl to experience their joining into our family. At the moment when my husband mentioned it as a genuine possibility for us, however, something took root and began to grow wildly out of control. In July, I began researching with a vengeance. Those of you who know us well, know that is just our style. We pull out the charts and graphs and spreadsheets. A stack of books finds its way onto the living room table. We have been amazed at how much there is to learn. We've been floored by how complex it all is. And yet, we keep coming back to the same matter of importance:

There are an estimated 147 MILLION children in this world without forever families.

We can choose to do something about that. We have hearts that are open to love. We have a loving home that will only improve by the presence of more children. We believe people are assets, not liabilities. We love being parents. We are far, far from perfect, but there are so many children who need someone to be their parents. We say YES.

We are full of questions. We are battling fear. We have felt peaceful about specific paths and had them blocked. Yet now there is a name and precious little girl's face that spurs us on. Whether this particular sweet girl is ours? Well, we'll just place one foot in front of the other and see where it leads. We will need a lot of money, and we know we are called to do this debt-free. We do not know how this will happen. Yet that flame that was conceived in my heart has been fanned into a raging fire...and the other option--to turn back--is not an option. My mother-heart has wrapped around this one. Somewhere in this world there is a child who is waiting for us to bring her home.

I was an orphan once. Pitiful and lost. The God of all creation, the Author of adoption, invited me into His forever family.

\

Sunday, September 19, 2010

So Easy to "Love These Neighbors..."


Ten years ago, when Tony and I were looking to buy a home, it was not an easy ordeal. We looked for months, and nothing seemed to fit. Finally we found one we loved. It was very, very small, but was built to "grow". It had a gorgeous, established yard, with Lilacs and all sorts of perennials, and a creek running through it. Unfortunately, it didn't have one of the building inspections done that we needed to qualify for our financing. We continued on the search. Several months later, we found a nice place we could picture being ours. We entered into contract and paid for an inspection. We found out the foundation was rotted. Contract void. After all this, we decided to build. We were open to most locations, and really only had one location we didn't want to look into. It would be easy to find raw land, right? We found it was not so easy after all.

Meanwhile, living above the vet clinic where I worked literally around the clock and being in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy...we had a LITTLE bit of stress going on. Our real estate agent found us a great little piece of land...the only problem? It was in one of the only areas we had been opposed to because of the monotonous drive it took to get there. However, our first little son was well on his way, and this mama was in SERIOUS "nesting mode". Other than location, it fit all of our major criteria. We decided to go for it. We had no idea that this location would be such a blessing to us in so many ways, and indeed would feel hand-picked by God just for us.

There are many things about this location that we've grown to love. There is one thing that we loved almost immediately--the fact that this land came with the best neighbors in the world. Within days of us moving in, there was fresh-baked bread and a kind note on the doorstep. The note had a big smiley face on it--a trademark which we would come to know very well. Soon we had the pleasure of meeting part of this welcoming family at the end of our driveway. It was the first of many, many such visits to come. Not long after we had our first family get-together. Through the years, we have gone for many walks, drunk many cups of tea, prayed together and for one another, and gone on many adventures together. We have spent hours (not all at one time!) talking together in the middle of the road. We have shared many birthdays and meals. We've welcomed each others' new babies, and fed each other during those times and times when we were ill or discouraged. We've spit watermelon seeds, roasted marshmallows, and eaten ice cream atop mountains. Our families have grown simultaneously. Just this evening, we danced to the beat of our nine children as they romped and played. We spent hours picking potatoes and apples, eating a meal on the lawn together, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, laughing, and enjoying each other....just because it was a beautiful, starry, autumn evening.

These are some of the coolest, kindest, funnest, most genuine individuals we've ever met. They ooze Jesus. We are always better people for having spent time with them. Some people are just so easy to love. Some people we just hope and pray we can be SOME bit of blessing to, because they are just so over-the-top a blessing to us. I'm just so thankful for friendships like this....and I am humbled because many of you who will read this are just as big of a blessing to us as what I describe. This post is in honor of our friendships. Thank you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Opportunities

I read a book about a year ago that totally changed my life.

To say it challenged me does not really adequately describe how it affected me, but I'm not sure the experience of reading this book and studying related scripture can be put into words. Or maybe I'm just not there yet. It is the type of book that while reading it, I knew I was only scratching the surface of what God had to teach me through it. I knew I would read it again--probably several times. I knew that what I was learning was very, very significant--the type of stuff that could define my life and have eternal impact.

I think of what I am learning with regard to this often, and continue to chew on different aspects, and above all pray for wisdom concerning what I'm learning. "What does this mean for the plans you have for me, Lord? Hit me with a 2x4 and show me...direct me in the way you want me to go to fulfill these teachings!" Yesterday I was driving KGB by myself, and such thoughts were rolling around in my mind along with words outwardly expressed to my Always-Confidante. (If you ever see me driving "alone" and I look like I'm having a deep conversation with someone, that's exactly what's going on!) The thing I was thinking most about was caring for orphans and widows. At that moment, I was particularly thinking of widows. Lonely, forgotten widows and the elderly.

They are not cute and cuddly. Many times they have hurting bodies, and hurting hearts. Too often their needs are not met. Too often they live in the background of life, and they are easy to ignore. We young and able people are busy with our own lives and think we don't have time for these people. I think most the time we don't outwardly think or say that, but by our actions or lack-there-of, we live it. And so they live alone...or in assisted-living facilities. We place them in their compartment, as we place children in their various compartments. It used to be that the old were highly-valued for their life-experience and wisdom. Old women rocked babies while younger mothers taught their older children. When there was a problem, you went to Grandpa or Granny to get their spin on it. It is still predominant in some cultures, but not in ours. At least that is my experience. And oh--what we are missing!

It would be very easy to rationalize away....to think about the ways that I'm "doing ok" where this is concerned. The thing is, that I don't want my life to be defined by "ok". I want it to be crazy--because my Savior is crazy about me and has done and continues to do some CRAZY things for me--just because He loves me.

So as I was driving and mulling all this over, I actually prayed my "2x4 prayer" once again. "Show me." A moment later, I saw her--a little old woman with a stocking hat on her head. Her skirt and long coat were swishing as she carried several grocery bags and walked along the road.

"Stop and offer to help her."

I drove right by, thinking about how I was late for getting home to fix dinner. I had all sorts of reasons why I couldn't go back, yet I felt conviction at ignoring the answer to the prayer I'd just breathed moments before. I turned around. I drove back and asked that precious old woman if I could give her a ride. She accepted. And then she began talking--about her arthritis, and her sister, and her brother, and how she loves to read. I was so blessed to just listen...and to bring her home with a "God bless you!" Her eyes widened at that, and she mumbled a faint, "you too", before shuffling into her home.

It wasn't a real "crazy" thing to do. But it was a start. And it was yet another evidence of how my God loves and listens and gently teaches. It was my lesson for yesterday....to look for opportunities.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

What We've Been Up To (Not Blogging!)

Haven't been much for posts lately, we've been livin'! Summer in Alaska is such a whirlwind--seems it'll never be here, and then *presto*! It's in full-force and we try and pack every moment outside, livin' out in the sunshine.

We hit a family milestone this summer--we can go for bike rides altogether! Spunky got off his training wheels about three weeks ago, so we can all ride...and we do...often! Of course Keiki's wheels are the caboose pulled by Daddy. Can't see him in this picture, but he's in there! Now that we realize the best way is to buckle him in the trailer in his car seat, he can sit up and enjoy the view. Unfortunately, we didn't figure that out until after this photo was taken:

Tony is playing softball this summer! He's having a blast playing...and...

...we're having fun watching and cheering him on.

We eat outside every chance we get...

...so we have energy to do important things--like cooling off in the kiddie pool....

...and gardening...

...and watching butterflies...

...and visiting with friends...

...and lovin' on GRANDMA from Wisconsin!!


Today, we "walked for life"...

...and had a great time doing it!



That is, after we packed up the trusty ol' van to the BRIM with gear, boys, and bikes! (Anybody have a good Suburban for sale?)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Plise...Or Is It Pleese?


Regardless of the proper spelling, they are the CUTEST policemen, definitely the most creative policemen ever!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hazards of Markers



This seems to be a recurring problem in our household. Interestingly, both incidents were blue.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

"Pennies To the Rescue", Part III




I'm so proud of the Boyland Brotherhood! They brought in $87.54 to send to Compassion International for on-going Haiti earthquake relief. They toted their bucket into the bank yesterday, and we'll be sending the full amount on-line to Compassion tonight. Eaglet was a little concerned about the amount. "It just doesn't seem like $87 is very much money to help all those people, Mommy." We talked about how when there was only a little bit of bread and fish, Jesus was able to feed way over 5,000 people. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can still trust Him to multiply resources today.

They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish..." And all ate and were filled... Luke 9:13,17

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Official "Sourdough"

My deck thermometer reads 46 degrees on April 25. The sky is the usual and customary shade of gray and gloom. It's official--my love affair with Alaska is finished. Rather than whine, here's a stream of consciousness list of
Some of My Favorite Things
sleepy newborn babies, cuddled in softer-than-soft blankies
brand-spankin'-new, striped, SmartWool socks
hot sand beneath my bare feet
fields of tall grass and wild flowers, and the sound of the breeze blowing through them
coconut body butter
the smell of wool yarn
alpacas
old red barns
white Lilies
white roses
purple roses
beach combing
long walks in the country with no destination
sipping iced tea on a front porch
chubby, bare baby feet and their pitter-patter
the smell of a new book
old, heavy, hard-cover Classics
dormer windows
sea glass
walking through a greenhouse at the very beginning of spring
chocolate haupia cream pie
the smell of fresh-cut grass
stories that "old people" tell
my Bible--it's been with me for 23 years and becomes more alive every year
Mozart
fresh, just-opened Birch leaves (have you ever FELT them??!)
Siberian Husky fur, warmed by the sun
hugs and kisses from my sweet Kaleb
spiritual conversations with my sweet Nicholas
the rare times when my sweet Noah will cuddle in my lap
alpaca fiber
playing my violin
seeing the baby lambs frolicking up Twin Peaks in the spring
blueberry picking in Hatcher Pass
canoeing on a clear lake in the heat of summer
tea in "real" tea cups
Jane Austin stories
dreaming of exotic travels
the crunch and swish of fallen Maple and Oak leaves beneath my feet in fall
reading with a cat on my lap
Alba products
Glad Heart Acres soaps
clean flannel sheets on the bed
lighthouses
fresh organic strawberries
star-gazing on a warm, summer night
the sound of ocean waves rolling in
fresh pineapple
watermelon
Scrabble
Anne of Green Gables series
the sight, sound, and smell of canning jam
outdoor swimming pools
garlic cheese bread from Evangelos
candlelight
neatly filling out forms with a perfect ink pen (weird, huh.)
silhouettes of trees
giant, old Cottonwood trees; they look like gnarled old men, don't they?
dragonflies
the clicking sound I make walking down a long corridor
Dutch Blitz


These are obviously in no order whatsoever, and I know there are many, many more things to add to this list. What are your "Top 5 Favorite Things"? Now we all want world peace and we love our families...I'm talking the simple or not-so-simple details...the stuff of life..."raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens" stuff!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Oh Warm Spring...Wherefore Art Thou?

WARNING: There is very little cohesive thought in the following:

I've been pulling out all the stops: buying fresh pineapple and copious amounts of green salad, grilling kabobs, working on indoor gardening projects (most of which have died or look truly sorrowful,) doing a spring unit study for our home school, sitting in the sunshine with my eyes closed--pretending that the outside looks different than what it actually looks like....which is like this:

April 9, and it was 18 degrees this morning. My "weather bug" at the bottom of my computer says there is snow expected again on Sunday. Guess I should have warned you at the beginning that this was going to be a rant-sort-of-post...and for that, I apologize. Sometimes it's just therapeutic to get my thoughts out on paper, or in this case, my computer screen.

For the last ten years or so, March and April have typically been difficult months for me. Being raised and living so long in the Midwest, these months, to me, mean the first green shoots, even the first flowers, the first lawn-mowing, sunshine, and refreshing spring rains which cleanse the earth and make her ready for summer. They mean nearly endless sunshine, baby frogs peeping in the pond, and birds, and honeybees waking from their sleep. Ok, in all honesty there was the occasional snow, but it came and was gone--boom!

In Alaska, March and April mean snow falling, slooooowwwwly melting snow, more snow falling, MUD, some more snow, lots more mud. I do see the beauty around me, and I will dedicate the remainder of this post to such signs of hope. The sun makes its appearance comparatively often in Alaska's March. For that, I am truly thankful. It's a gift which keeps me from totally losing my head. Daylight dramatically increases and gives us more energy. The sky starts to tout some shades of blue, rather than the endless gray that plagues us for so long. There are pussy willows bursting out, and the tips of the Birches have a red halo about them--buds waiting for their time to shine. It is during this season that life-long Alaskans get out their flip-flops...and those of us who were raised in other areas wonder why. But of course, I know why. It's because being "Alaskan" is more than where you live. True Alaskans are optimists. I'm not sure that after nearly 12 years I can yet be considered a true Alaskan. Do true Alaskans dream of moving back Outside? Do they waste their blog reader's time with on-line rants about the weather? Do they promise to devote "the remainder of this post to such signs of hope" and then revert to another rant? Sigh.

All this to say.... I know better days are coming. It's like this every year. It seems the snow and cold are endless, and suddenly, that glorious spring-green surrounds us from every angle. Every summer is a marathon for us Alaskans--so many things to plant, so many yard projects to partake in, so many mountains to climb, so many outdoor miles to run and bike and walk! So much daylight! I ask you, who really needs to sleep?? There is a day coming at the beginning of June, where I will raise my arms to the sky, with a smile on my sun-kissed face, and I will tell my husband, "If I EVER tell you I want to move away from this place, remind me of THIS moment!" So, I'll just keep grilling my fresh pineapple kabobs until that day, and though I shiver in the cold, I will be thankful the snow has cleared from the grill to permit such an undertaking. So maybe, just maybe, I am a true Alaskan after all....

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"Pennies To the Rescue", Part II



We've been busy in Boyland this week, counting out oodles of change and rolling coin. THANK YOU to all of you who have donated change to our service project, Pennies To the Rescue! So far, we've got just over $71 ready to head to Compassion International for on-going Haiti relief. This is "last call"....so if you've got change that's looking for a home....let us take care of it for you! We can even pick it up at your convenience either tomorrow (4/8/10) or Friday (4/9/10.) Let us know...and thank you again for helping us out.

As they were counting and rolling, Eaglet and Spunky kept mentioning "how happy the people in Haiti will be to get this!" Precious.

Upon counting up the total, Eaglet was concerned that $71, even though it's a lot of money, just doesn't seem like it will be enough. I explained that it is nowhere NEAR enough...but it will go along with money that lots and lots of other families, individuals, and companies are giving. Together, we can provide for A LOT of needs.

Praying that God will multiply these funds and allow them to go further than we could ever imagine. You know...He has a knack for that type of thing. :)

Friday, April 02, 2010

All For the Love of Us

A friend posted this link on her facebook today. It's not the type of thing that is fun to meditate on...but oh how important and necessary. This is the reality of what my Jesus did for me. This is the reality of how much He loves The Father--who is also my Father--all because of this sacrifice:

Tony Cooke Ministries - Medical Description of the Flogging and Crucifixion of Jesus

May you know today that this was all for you, too.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stay Tuned For the Conclusion Of...

I'm thinking this 3rd post should wrap-up the Hawaii business!

One morning we trekked up the mountain-side to this historical land-mark.

This place totally brought tears to my eyes and heaviness to my heart. The pictures do not do justice to the scale of these ruins. To think that thousands of people spent their life hauling these heavy rocks up the mountain to build this temple...out of fear. They felt they must make sacrifice to their gods or suffer punishment. This place was at one time a HUGE temple. Countless Hawaiians and Westerners were murdered here as sacrificial offerings. The reality of it just touched my heart--such a lost people.


On a lighter note, we found an amazing beach where Humpbacks were breaching...again...and again...and again. It was AMAZING.




Alek and Walt and I chatted with a young couple who had a 1 year-old baby girl. She was adorable and I wish so much I would have taken a picture of her and Alek playing together in this sandy little tide pool (above.)

We saw whales several days...they were doing their thing in the distance beyond Shark's Cove the days we hung out there, too. Here's my mom and Keiki standing on the little bluff above the Cove. The whales were beyond the rock barrier.

And speaking of Shark's Cove, here's another miscellaneous shot of Keiki and Walt playing there in the water on a different day. Those two had a pretty special bond. I'm pretty sure "Uncle Walt" turned to mush every time Keiki reached his pudgy arms up to be held by him...

We met SO MANY neat people on this trip! I love that about traveling with a baby. Babies are the best "ice-breakers" in the world, aren't they? Here's my keiki playing with 2 year-old Mark from Pennsylvania:

Betty volunteers on Turtle Beach as a naturalist/educator. She had to work one afternoon so Mom and I went down the road to Shark's Cove for the day. Betty called us, totally excited because there was a "baby" turtle there along with two snuggling adults. Here are the snugglers:

...and the baby..... Awwwww!

In addition to being a honu naturalist, Betty is an amazing jewelry artist. She makes jewelry from her beach-combing finds. She totally spoiled my mom and I and made us each two sea glass/silver pendants:

Gorgeous, huh? (Shameless plug...)

One more amazing sunset shot. Our friends live one block from the beach, so Mom and I ran down to catch some pictures over the water one night:


Funny how when you reach a vacation destination, it feels like you have all the time in the world spread out before you...and then you blink....and it's time to go home again. I totally loved every moment of this trip, but I was excited to get home to my guys, too.

On the day before we left, Walt and Betty told us we were free to go...but the baby would have to stay with them!

Sorry, Guys. The baby goes with the mama! Aren't they just the cutest couple? Such gracious, kind hosts and friends.

Somewhere over the rainbow...we headed home to Alaska...

With one quick lay-over in Seattle:

My happy, traveling baby! I am SO thankful that on every flight, God placed very kind, children-loving people in our seat row with us. We met 1. a teen-aged boy who was overly generous with sharing his picnic pack with us 2. A very kind Japanese? man who as far as I know didn't speak English but made many kind gestures toward Keiki (pictured below), and 3. a 40-something father of 2 boys from Anchorage.

So that's it for Hawaii photos, folks....that is, until next year. HA HA.