Elanor Jaël

DSC03975-001

Introducing our sweet long-awaited Ella <3 

I don’t know how moms who go past their due date survive. The oldest two were born at 38 weeks, the next two at 37 weeks and we (as well as our midwives and nurses) fully expected little Ella to arrive by 37 weeks too. But the days ticked by and she seemed perfectly content to stay put.

Then contractions started, grandparents picked up the big kids, and the contractions stopped. Then started again. And stopped.

Prodromal labor. It’s bewildering, exhausting, and enough to make you question anything you thought you knew about having a baby. Funny thing is though, at least for me, that after a pregnancy that seemed to bounce from morning sickness to aching veins to insomnia to shooting joint pain (with near constant brain fog and exhaustion), whenever the contractions stopped I felt amazing and slept more soundly than I can remember for ages.

So after a couple days of whining and wishing that SHE WOULD JUST COME ALREADY, I tried to just enjoy it. Which was pretty easy because the kids were having a blast with grandparents and Josh was able to work from home for several days. Then the kids came home (because I was missing them like crazy and who knew how long it might be!) and we soaked in the last few days before adding a new baby to the family.

DSC03950

An *almost* family picture (It was nearly 11:00 p.m. when the kids came to see their new sister and Ned was sound asleep. <3 )

After a week of starts and stops, active labor finally started. Due to complications in the past, we consulted with specialists, ran numerous blood tests, and had multiple precautions in place for her birth. (Plus I took enough medications and supplements throughout the pregnancy to make me feel like I ought to be turning ninety!)

God was gracious and answered the many prayers for a smooth and uncomplicated delivery. We had an amazing birth team and Josh could write a book on how to be a perfect labor coach. Ella greeted the world with gusto and bright-eyed curiosity. We couldn’t be more blessed.

DSC04060Adoring big sisters 

The days since she arrived have been so sweet. With all four of the other kids, we either had complications or a ten-hour-trip home days after delivery. Plus, Josh either had to plunge straight back into law school classes, take the bar exam, or frantically prepare for a jury trial. This time we drove eight minutes home and Joshua got to take paternity leave. (A modern politically-correct trend I absolutely love!)
DSC04251

She is such a sweet, alert baby and has already brought so much joy to our family. The older kids can hardly get enough of holding her. One of them suggested the solution was to have quintuplets. I think we’ll just work on taking turns.

DSC04273

We’ve been so ridiculously spoiled with food and help from family and friends so that we can soak in these first fleeting days with her. It’s amazing how much change a new baby brings, and yet how quickly life without their presence is unimaginable. So grateful for our Elanor Jaël.

February at Our Home

February flew by in a frozen hurry.

2015-02-10 17.01.57

Highlights from February

The beginning of the month was unusually warm, and we biked/walked to the park, took a delightful family trip to a local cave (which I forgot to photograph) and spent hours just enjoying the beautiful weather.

2015-02-17 17.32.22

Then it snowed and snowed and snowed. It was Ned’s first good snow since he was an infant and he loved it… until the snow seeped into his gloves.

The highlight of the snow for me was getting to sled down my parents’ awesome hill. Even Meg loved flying down the hill by herself. She flopped down on the sled and hollered, “Watch out! Meg’s coming!” (The other day she told me she is so tired of being 3 1/2 and cannot wait to be four. Kids just grow up way too fast!)

2015-02-20 16.40.48

If he can’t be outside, Ned’s next favorite place is on the kitchen counter “helping” me. At first I was nervous about having a wiggly 18-month-old perched on the counter, but he loves it so much that he will sit angelically still for half-an-hour if I just let him sit, watch, and participate.

Joshua’s work has been insanely crazy lately, and I’ve really struggled being cheerful with the long hours. Despite the intense schedule, we had a lovely at home date night Valentine’s Eve. We put the kids to bed early and Joshua made the most delicious dinner for me with perfect steak and succulent baby potatoes and brussel sprouts. The weekends when Josh doesn’t have to work are so lovely that I finally understand what it means to “live for the weekend.” I want to embrace each day, but so love having my wonderful husband home!

2015-02-18 21.05.56

Sparklers in the snow to celebrate Chinese New Year

Another highlight of the month was celebrating Chinese New Year. My brother and sis-in-law hosted Chinese friends for a few weeks and invited us to join them for a celebration. Getting to spend time with these wonderful new friends, listen to them speak their beautiful language, and hear their amazing story reawakened my dreams of learning Chinese and hopefully visiting China someday.

The kids are learning Latin at their weekly academy, but it’s not like you can’t learn two languages in grade school! (Children in the Faroe Islands, where my dad is from, learn Danish and English in grade school–in addition to native Faroese.)

What I read in February

The Best Yes!

I picked up The Best Yes! thinking I would skim through it and get the highlights, but from the first chapter I was hooked. It was SO good! If you struggle with feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do, I think you’ll love this book too. It’s full of hilarious stories, personal tidbits, and Biblical wisdom.

In My Father’s House

When your Omma, Mom-in-law, and one of your best friends all recommend a book, you know you’re in for a treat! In My Father’s House is Corrie ten Boom’s personal accounts of her life before The Hiding Place… and it was a treat. Although I didn’t like it as much as The Hiding Place (which is in my top five favorites of all time) it was an inspiring and beautiful challenge to live life for Jesus.

Little Women

I didn’t really read this one, but I did listen to it. Librivox has an amazing dramatized version {for free!} and it kept me company through many hours of cleaning this month. I’d never read Little Women before and loved it so much more than the movie (which was lovely!) The characters and story are so beautiful.

… and a few favorite posts

Are You Lonely, Mama? — Joshua’s been working lots of long hours and this post really resonated with me. Judging from how many times it’s been shared on Facebook, I’d say I’m not alone.

My Plan for Adrenal Fatigue Recovery — I don’t think I have adrenal fatigue (at least I hope not!) but after really struggling with fatigue the past few weeks, Erin’s ideas were really helpful. Although I’m still not as energetic as I would like, avoiding screen time at night, being faithful with my supplements, and drinking bitter yarrow tea have all helped me feel better.

That’s February at our home in a nutshell. What was February like for you? 

[Full disclosure: links to some products are my referral links.]

January at our Home

We began January celebrating the last few days of Christmas (because we’re some of those crazy people who celebrate for 12 days!) and ended with a small, very last-minute “Around the World in Food” Epiphany party. We had tastes of Mozambique, India, Egypt, and Nepal to celebrate the good news of Jesus spreading to us Gentiles.

The party came to an abrupt end when Will threw up. Immediately, I went into fight-stomach-bug mode. Thankfully, his bout was short lived and no one else succumbed. (Maybe Will’s tummy just didn’t like the spices?)

DSC_1792-XL

Many thanks to Josh’s awesome sis Crystal for our family pictures!

In school, we’ve moved from studying ancient Egypt to beginning our study of ancient Greece and Rome. But Egypt has still captivated Rose. After reading this book, which ended with a small glimmer of hope that King Tut’s father might still be lying hidden in desert sands, Rose decided to move to Egypt when she grows up to be a homeschool mom, author, math tutor and archaeologist. She has even managed to convince her siblings and a few friends to join her. (For my sake as future Grandma, I hope the plans change.)

The rest of school has been delightful (most of the time!) Rose has spent hours cuddled up in her play house writing stories. Will is sounding out four-letter words (I love his phonics book!) Meg adores her little class at our one-day classical program and has just started coloring between the lines, or at least trying too.

Normally I hold Ned during our morning memory hour, but this month he decided he wants to be a big kid too. When they line up to recite the Creed, he stands in front of them and carefully wiggles his way backward until he is standing in a line with them. It’s adorably distracting.

photo 3-001

Enjoying an icy adventure with my mom and sisters

The weather has bounced from well-below-freezing to perfect t-shirt weather. At the beginning of the month, the creek at my parents’ house iced over and we spent hours romping, sliding, exploring, and admiring the intricate patterns the water made as it froze mid-flow. The beauty of creation just sings God’s glory!

Within a few days of our frozen adventure, the ice had melted and we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with t-shirts on. (Don’t you just love it when national holidays and absolutely gorgeous days collide?!)

When not doing school or playing outside, we’ve enjoyed many fun family games. A long anticipated point in my motherhood journey arrived this month when Rose learned how to play Settlers of Catan (and thoroughly stomped Joshua and me her first game!) She and Will have also become ardent Rumikub fans and Meg asks daily if we’ll play her new favorite game, Hiss, with her. Yep, this game-loving Mama has three sweet budding game players and it’s made me very happy.

I’ve also let myself indulge in a bit of binge-reading. Novels are a huge weakness for me. Once I get into a story, putting it down takes every ounce of self-control I possess. Not thinking about it is next to impossible. Because I don’t want to be a distracted mom all the time, I try to avoid full-length novels, except as a special treat at Christmas. The problem is this year I started a five-book series, The Zion Chronicles. The chronicles were engaging, sappy, and set in post-WWII Israel. Like a good homeschooler, I’ve read tons of pre-WWII history, but am horrid at modern history. This series was such an eye-opener for me. I loved it! (And am relieved to be finished, lol!)

Despite the fact that work has been crazy for Joshua lately, we’ve enjoyed several fun date nights…. and the kids have enjoyed several fun evenings with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. We are so totally spoiled to have two sets of grandparents who not only live in the area, but love having our kids over and always encourage the things we teach them at home.

The month ended with the arrival of our darling nephew Silas. Two years ago I was worried that poor Will would end up the only boy in a family full of sisters, young aunts, and girl cousins. Now he has a little brother and three boy cousins to balance out the princesses and tea parties. (Oh the needless things I worry about!)

That’s our month at a glance. What has your month been like? 

Winter Travel Emergency Kit

Winter is almost upon us. It's time to build a winter travel emergency kit.

Winter weather is in the air. When there is snow on the ground, I like to turn on the fire and get cozy or go outside and enjoy the snow.

Driving on frozen roads though? That’s not my favorite thing. But being prepared with a winter travel emergency kit makes me feel a little better about braving the frozen world.

So this week I stocked our van with emergency essentials. I hope we never need to use them in an emergency, but it’s always best to be prepared for any adventure!

Be prepared for any adventure on the road with these 8 essential winter travel items.

Be prepared for any winter adventure on the road!   (photo credit 1/ photo credit 2)

Winter Travel Emergency Kit

Water

It’s totally obvious, and totally important.

The kids and I have Lifefactory glass water bottles that we take with us try to take with us everywhere we go. (I totally love them!) We also keep bottled water in the trunk.

Food

If you are traveling with children, it is a good idea to have food in the car. Emergency or no emergency. A simple snack is amazing at averting melt-downs…and distracting kids in the face of real emergencies..

Trail mix, granola bars, crackers, and beef jerky are good choices that don’t spoil easily.

A good-quality phone charger

What’s worse than being stranded in the middle of nowhere? Being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a dead phone.

Since, ahem, I’m not the best at managing my cell battery life, I have both a car charger and an awesome “anywhere” charger. (Thanks, darling!) Having at least one would be a good idea!

Basic (Herbal) Emergency Kit

It seems like anytime we leave the house, at least one child has a mini “emergency”, like a scraped knee or bruised hand. With band-aids and a few basic herbs, you can be prepared for the many mini emergencies you are likely to face…and even be ready for more major events. ‘

(If you’d like a free copy of my simple and concise “Build Your Own Herbal Emergency Kit” guide—complete with instructions and printables for on the road— sign up here.)

I also printed off CPR guides to keep handy in the van: infant CPR, toddler CPR, and CPR. No matter how many times I read through the guide, I’m positive I would want a reminder in the stress of the moment.

Blankets

Come fall, we start keeping a few cozy blankets in the van. They get used while the van heats up, and are there if we ever need them during an emergency.

A change of clothes (for the kids, at least)

Whether you’re stranded in an ice storm or a child couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom, being prepared with a fresh change of clothes is always a good idea!

Warm gloves

My hands get so cold, so fast. Driving with stiff hands, especially in bad weather conditions, is just not very smart. Keep a special pair in the van in case you need them.

Entertainment of some sort

This one isn’t strictly essential, I suppose. But it is a very good idea to keep an assortment of entertainment in the car, for you and the kids! Books, coloring books, and car games make good choices.

Build your own winter travel emergency kit and be prepared for any icy adventure that comes your way!

Assemble your winter travel emergency kit

Since getting married, Joshua and I have had trees fall on our house in an ice storm and survived a terrible tornado.

Being prepared for mishaps makes them much easier to handle. If you have to travel on frozen roads, make sure to assemble a winter travel kit to take with you!

What do you keep in your vehicle? (Do you like driving in winter weather?) 

Loved by an Almighty God

Loved by an Almighty God
A few years ago, my lovely sisters and sisters-in-law visited our tiny duplex in Alabama for the weekend. One of the benefits of crowding ten people into a 650 square foot home was the incentive to spend more time outside. One gorgeous evening, Joshua offered to lay the kiddos down while we girls went on a walk.

After meandering down to the square and visiting the quaint college library, we headed home. The bright city lights warded off the growing darkness around us. We were almost home when a car slowed down and the driver rolled down the window.

Picking up the pace, we braced ourselves for rude comments or cat calls.

Instead, the elderly gentleman called out in a kind voice, “I just want you girls to know that Jesus loves you.” Then he rolled the window back up and continued down the road.*

The memory still brings a smile to my lips.

So take courage, for “you are loved by an Almighty God.” **

——————————————————————————————————————

* I’m pretty sure that only in the south do completely random strangers stop traffic for pleasantries. Once, a grandpa held up cars at a stop sign while encouraging me to “Enjoy the kids, they grow up before you know it! I sure miss mine.” I assured him I would, and then he drove off while I continued our walk to the park. The drivers behind him didn’t seem the least bit annoyed.

**the lovely reminder that Darlene Schacht uses to close her blog posts.

photo credit

Summer Happenings

If you’re reading this via email, pop on over to the blog and take a peek! Heather, from Bellis Bohtiques, just updated the design and layout. Isn’t it lovely? 

It’s hard to believe a whole month has slipped by since I last posted. It’s been a busy, full month.

IMG_8192

We began May with a medieval party at school. The kids dressed up as princes and princesses, knights and fair ladies. After eating food made from authentic Medieval recipes (with common ingredients like “raysyns” and “creeme”) they held a mock-tournament.

2014-05-09 10.05.03

Then we took our first family trip to Alabama since moving away almost two years ago. Despite the lapse of time, the children has so many wonderful memories of our four years there and were able to make more: riding on their favorite horse Sweet Boy…
2014-05-09 15.00.07

…running through the fountain park in the rain….

2014-05-10 09.59.08

…making peppermint ice cream with Judge, eating more ice cream with friends at Chick-fil-A, catching toads in the dark, stuffing ourselves with bbq, and catching up with dear friends.

2014-05-17 17.16.39

Upon our arrival home again, we made the embarrassing mistake of showing up at a wedding three hours early (and right as they were getting photos taken.) I’d put the time into the calendar and was about ready to cry, but Joshua turned it into an awesome afternoon.

2014-05-17 17.12.59

He made a Dollar General run, stocked up on cheap outdoor toys, found a quaint park, and spent the afternoon making giggles with our kiddos.

The next week we had a lovely visit from friends from Florida.

2014-05-21 10.43.42

We walked to the park where adorable goslings and ducklings gobbled up our huge bag of bread, had a psalm-singing night, explored a local cave, and spent hours in happy fellowship despite our doctrinal differences.

After school wrapped up for the summer, I spent a whole week at home with the kids “doing nothing”. I had grand illusions of being bored for at least an hour, but despite never realizing that goal, had a lovely week catching up on projects and sleep.

IMG_8119
Then we celebrated our first birthday of the summer: Rose’s seventh birthday. Usually birthdays are a pretty low-key affair at our home, but we decided to follow in my grandma’s tradition of having a big seventh birthday party. Aunt Hannah made a lovely princess cake…
IMG_8085

Grandma, Nonni, Aunt Heidi and Bekka helped decorate, get games set up and serve the tea party, but the highlight of the day was getting to pelt Uncle Mac and Daniel with water balloons.

(Those of you who host birthday parties each year have my total admiration—I’m quite glad to have two more years before Will’s seventh birthday!)

2014-06-06 16.31.02

Then we got to make a last minute trek with my sisters to a local theme park. It was pouring down rain when we arrived and the people pouring out of the park laughed as we made our way in. But the rain cleared and the lines were practically non-existent. Even Meg (almost 3) was tall enough to ride the rides and was braver than all the rest.

Have you had a busy start of summer? 

When Being Quiet Would Have Saved $100s

Did you ever have a stuffed animal as a child that you loved dearly? One that you loved long after it lost its sleek new fur, its eyes fell out, and the seams started to pop open?

That same sort of attachment is what I felt toward our old van. My brother found it on Craigslist for an incredible deal while we were in law school. It may have been dented and scraped and have its seats torn apart, but after sharing a two-door Civic (and cramming two carseats into the back), I wouldn’t have traded our old beat-up Sienna for the coolest two-door car on the globe.

We travelled thousands of miles in that van and faced exciting adventures in it. It survived a terrifying tornado unscathed and just kept going and going and going.

The thought of parting with it made me sad. But there came a point when it simply wasn’t worth fixing anymore and we had to begin the search for a new-to-us van.

Be slow to speak

That proved to be more challenging that I thought. We’d set aside money for the purchase, but when it came time to look, most of the cars we found were either under $2,000 (and looked about ready to fall apart) or over $15,000. We spent hours one Saturday driving by dozens of used cars lots and found a grand total of two vans in our desired price range. I combed Craigslist for days with equally discouraging results.

Then Joshua called one day saying that he passed by a lot on his way to an appointment with a couple vans on it, one of which looked promising. The kids and I headed over to take a look and I instantly loved it. It was another Sienna, but newer and safety-inspection-passable (definitely a plus!)

Joshua came over to test drive it and we decided if we could trade-in our old van and get the price down a little, we would buy it.

Joshua told the salesman our desired price, the salesman took our van on a test drive, and came back.

When he countered with the trade-in amount for our van, I instantly blurted out, “Yes! That sounds great!” He offered us even more for the van than what we’d paid, the the total price was still several hundred more than what Joshua originally asked for.

“Can we come up with the extra money?” Joshua asked me, trying to make a little room to negotiate.

“Yes!” I answered obliviously.

He smiled at me and said, “Okay.”

We signed papers, wrote a check, and traded keys. Not until we were leaving did he say with a grin, “You know Babe, usually people negotiate when buying a car.”

Oh, right!

In the excitement of the moment I had totally forgotten. Thankfully, Joshua wasn’t the least bit upset, but I was upset with myself. What if we could have saved $100, $500, or even more if I had just been quiet for a whole two seconds?

I love the van and am so grateful we found it, but it was a good lesson for me to think before I speak. [And leave any negotiating in the future in Joshua’s much more capable hands!]

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking RedeemedGraced Simplicity, & Proverbs 31

photo credit

A Peek at Our Winter (Family Update)

After the coldest winter I remember since moving from Greenland at the age of six, the buds are swelling on the trees and the birds are singing a noisy welcome to spring. Before waving a happy farewell to winter myself, I thought I’d highlight a few memories because I forget so easily and have had requests for baby pictures.

1-2-3 Go! Cheesy faces everyone! 

We welcomed in the new year with debilitating fevers, lingering coughs, and a stomach flu. When I wasn’t sick in bed or snowed in, I spent most of my spare hours in January painting, scrubbing, and fixing up the home we bought when we where first married [and rented out to family when we moved for law school].

I naively thought that we could knock out the house in a day or two. For most of January we spent our Saturdays and free evenings over at the house as a family.

During the week, I went with the kids. I’m not sure why, but the kiddos thought hanging out in the empty house was a blast. They packed school books and a few favorite toys and spent many happy hours playing in bare rooms and building houses in empty closets while I scrubbed and painted.

By the time February rolled around, we were finally ready to list the home. We decided to try the For Sale By Owner route first. We advertised an open house on Zillow and Craigslist, stuck signs in the yard, and then we waited. A grand total of zero people showed up for the open house.

It was kind of discouraging. And funny. We decided a realtor was worth the expense. (As of St. Patrick’s Day, the house is under contract! Hurray!)

Rose, Will, and my sister Kathryn helping my Mom and me scrub the tile. Despite having her own huge projects, she spent hours helping us! <3

Teeth have also played an important part in the lives of our oldest and youngest this winter. For months, Rose has given us excited updates on the wigglyness of her teeth and has looked forward to losing her very first tooth. She finally attained this badge of growing up. The next day Edmund began cutting his first teeth. Rose was definitely more excited about losing her tooth than he is about gaining his.

Not only did Rose lose her first tooth this winter, after weeks of begging me to teach her how to make something all by herself, I let her make pancakes one evening for dinner with a little supervision. Last weekend we were treated to a delicious pile of pancakes she made all by herself (with Will’s help).

Legos made their way into our home at Christmas. Since then the Legos have provided dozens of hours of entertainment. William especially loves designing. His space ships, airplanes and hospitals are the center of many creative stories.

All the kids would love for us to get a dog, but I’ve told them that though I absolutely love having four children to care for and train, I don’t want to have to train a dog too. A few weeks later the kids were talking and Will said, “When I grow up I want to be a farmer and have lots and lots of animals,” he continued a bit sadly, “so I can’t get married and have kids.” I assured him that animals and families go very well together. just don’t have the energy or desire to train a dog right now.

(I did just find out that our city allows SIX chickens per household, not four like I thought. For some reason that makes raising them seem so much more worthwhile, since, ahem, I know it would be so much easier than having a dog. Right?)

Partly because she’s so tall and partly because she’s very independent, strangers regularly assume Meg is at least three. Sometimes even I forget she’s only two. She loves trying everything the big kids do…with varied degrees of success. Her latest obsession is puzzles and she spends hours each week building and rebuilding them.

Except when he’s teething, Edmund is one of the cheerfullest fellows around and loves the attention his big sisters and brother lavish on him. He giggles and coos and constantly thumps everything around him. He’s perfecting the art of rolling around, scooting in circles, and trapping himself in awkward positions.

There are few things like watching your children grow up to make the fleetingness sink in! I find myself forgetting things so quickly and am making a conscious effort to stop and enjoy.

How has your winter been? 

Happy Memories and Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Eve, I sat down to reminisce over the past year and write down a few memories. The children woke up before I could finish. By nap time I had the start of what seemed to be a cold. A nap didn’t kick it and instead it grew worse. I spent most of the next three days in bed with a fever and coughing.

(Whooping cough is at “epidemic proportions” in our city. Despite having been vaccinated this fall (under the mistaken belief that it would help protect the many babies in my life), I’m fairly certain our family has succumbed too.)

Anyway, a week has passed but I finally was able to get back to the reminiscing…

photo by Your Pic Photography <3

Last winter I was fairly convinced I would never again finish dinner and feel like doing anything but laying on the couch, hoping to keep dinner down. Many of the habits I worked so hard on in 2012 fell by the wayside as I struggled on in survival mode.

Spring came. Morning sickness abated. The three miserable weeks of stomach flu were aired out in the beautiful breezes of spring. William overcame his fear of animals as we took weekly treks to a friend’s home for the kids to ride horses. Rose made huge bounds in reading [I love Phonics Pathways!] and I first heard the words that warm a mother’s heart, “Mommy, can I read you a story?”

Without even mentioning the fact that he’d helped me prepare four “failed” gardens since we got married, Joshua dug up two lovely little plots for me. The kids and I spent many happy hours digging in the dirt, watching seeds sprout and turn into towering plants, squashing bad bugs, rescuing good bugs, and then plopping fresh produce into our mouths. We dubbed the garden a smashing success, especially Rose’s little plot. Her one grape tomato plant drooped heavy all season and produced about as many tomatoes as all ten of mine. Maybe more.

The garden was in full bloom when we welcomed Edmund into the world, just 12 hours after his cousin arrived. His arrival was tempestuous, but he has filled our house with such gratitude and joy and so many adorable baby giggles. Josh and I are pretty sure he’s the happiest baby ever. [Since he’s the oldest of eleven and I’m the oldest of eight, we think we have a fairly good amount of experience!] The kids love holding Edmund, showing him their toys, and making him giggle.

Fall also brought the start of school. Adjusting to life with four has been fairly easy since Edmund’s such an easy baby. Adjusting to life with four plus school has been much more challenging. Rose is attending a two-day-a-week classical Christian school associated with our church and homeschools the rest of the week. Since I couldn’t bear not teaching her, I’m also teaching part-time those two days while my mom watches the other kids. Not only is Rose in my class, so is my “baby” sister Kathryn! Though sometimes I wonder why on earth I thought I could juggle teaching at this stage in life, I have been so grateful for the encouragement that their young minds are capable of SO much more than I dreamed possible. I’ve been amazed so many times as the students (and Will and Meg too!) catch on to things way more easily than I expected. I certainly underestimated their capacity at the beginning of the school year!

I heard rumor that it was supposed to be a really cold winter, but when we were still having picnic in t-shirts late-November, I doubted. December came and winter started in earnest: cold and early.

Will, my sister Kathryn, Rose–note to the wise: take pictures before your children are freezing cold

My little sisters got “snowed in” with us for a weekend of giggles, games, talking, movies, playing in the snow and way too many sweets. Barely had the snow melted when we were hit with another round.

One of my favorite memories from the year happened during that snowstorm. Joshua had had a long and tiring week at work. Friday rolled around and he didn’t get home for dinner until almost 9:30.

Friday night was all but over. Or so we thought. Then we decided to make the most of the time we had left and watch a Christmas comedy together. We had to skip several not-so-great parts, but I cannot remember when I last laughed so hard. After the movie was over, I went upstairs to get ready for bed. A couple minutes later, Joshua came up and asked, “Hey babe, want to go make a midnight snowman with me?”

It was actually well past 1:00, but how can a girl resist an invitation like that? Suppressing our giggles, we crept out into the softly falling snow and built the most gigantic snowman our street has probably ever seen. We couldn’t wait to witness the children’s surprise in the morning!

A new year is here now and with it a new round of snow.

Looking back on 2013, at the trials and joys, at the hard work and happy days, my heart is filled with gratitude for the goodness of God to us. May His goodness bless you this New Year!

A Peek into our Summer

The first half of summer has simply flown by. With a new baby on the way and Rose starting school in earnest this fall, one of my main goals for the summer was simply to savor the moments with my children.

Blogging has been on the back burner (as you can tell!), so I thought I’d give you a peek at what we’ve been up to. 

Joshua’s family–just think how big it will be in ten years! (photo credit)

The summer got off to a lovely start with Joshua’s little sister Becca’s beautiful wedding. Outdoor weddings are risky, but her dream was to get married in her parents’ backyard. The dream turned out practically perfect.

Rose with the kids’ favorite pony, Sackett

June began with two events the kids had been highly-anticipating: Rose’s sixth birthday and the children’s very first horse “show” (thanks Elissa!)Those who warned me that time flies by much faster once you become a mom were right. It’s hard to believe that Rose is already six and little Meg can sit on a horse (almost) by herself. 

Rose’s favorite part of turning six was getting to stop laying down for a quiet time. We bought her a beautifully illustrated copy of The Secret Garden (thanks Candace for the recommendation!) and have had lots of fun reading it together while the other two nap.

Joshua had to go to Texas for training mid-June. My mom and sisters helped speed the time till he got home by painting our bedrooms. I still wake up each morning and smile when the sun peeks through the white curtains (which I still haven’t taken time to iron) and lights up the relaxing warm-gray walls.

Most of my lengthy before-the-baby-arrives to-do list probably won’t get done [maybe, just maybe, I’ll get those curtains ironed], but it’s so much fun to be able to “nest” in my own home. With Will and Meg we spent the summers leading up to their births with family (which was awesome), but I almost drove myself crazy trying to “nest” away from home. 

 Despite the grimace, Will couldn’t stop talking about how fun their fishing “trip” was. It helped that he caught his first little fish almost instantly. 

Earlier this year while reading through the Gospels with the children, I read the verse “if your son asks you for a fish, will you give him a snake?” Later that day Will announced that Joshua was taking him fishing. He hadn’t talked to Joshua, but was fully convinced that Jesus’ words meant that if a son asks for a fish, his father will take him fishing. (How could Joshua say “no” to that?!)

We joined my family at the lake for the day, Joshua and Will finally got to go on their fishing trip. 

Will’s fish was too small to keep, but we did get to have dried fish (a traditional Faroese treat) for lunch. 
When it came right down to it, sleeping in a tent seven months pregnant with wiggly little ones didn’t seem like quite as much fun as I’d originally thought, but we let Rose spend the night. Even though I knew I was entrusting her into good hands and that she and my baby sis (who’s only five months older than she is!) would have a marvelous time, letting go was harder than I thought.
Fears of her drowning or getting abducted flooded my mind, until I finally entrusted her into God’s hands. All my fears proved unnecessary. She survived the weekend with nothing worse than a few chigger bites.
What has your summer been like?
[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]