Monday, December 26, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Under One Roof

My Mama's heart is happy because all of my children are once again under one roof - our home.  Its so good to have everyone here.  And I love that I know it will be weeks and not just a couple of days (not that the couple of days aren't also wonderful!)  I just thrill with knowing that we have time.  Time to play.  Time to talk.  Time to hang out.  Just time.

As the days pass and years go by, things obviously change.  Change can be challenging.  Sometimes good and other times just hard.  Sometimes the changes that look the most difficult can be the ones that bring the biggest blessings.

With Christopher in college, we have all had a lot of changes.  One is rooting for a new school (well, some of us are and others aren't).  A friend gave Eliana this cute shirt. 

 And yes, she is trying to make a wolf with her cute little hands.  :-)
We packed up an exam survival box and headed up to see Christopher the Saturday before exams started.  We waited in the lobby of his building.  
And everyone just made themselves at home once we got up to his room.  LOL
They wanted to help unpack the box (and sample it too).
Eliana grabbed my camera and got some great photos of Joe.  Our boys love hanging out with him.  I wish we had gotten a good one of Christopher too!  Next time.
It is a fun place to hang out.

We headed outside to play a little bit - football and frisbee.
I just thought this was a neat photo.  I'm guessing this is one of Eliana's.
We tried to go out for ice cream, but sadly for us, the Creamery was closed.  We'll have to try that another time too.

For now, I'm enjoying my family and thankful we are all here.  We have a busy week ahead and I want to be sure to carve out lots of time to just hang out and have fun!  

Tonight as everyone was getting ready for bed, my thoughts were pensive.  Last time to help a sweet little 4yo get ready for bed, read her stories, rock her and kiss her good night.  Five years ago, I was hospitalized for extreme sickness and dehydration.  Little did I know how much my world was soon to change.  

More later.  Tomorrow we have a sweet little girl to celebrate.  Five!  Can she really be five?  It sure doesn't seem like it.  


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Five in a Row Christmas Ornaments 2011

Our Five in a Row group has been making and swapping ornaments for a few years now - 5 or 6?  I'm not sure.  We've been doing it long enough that I'm hopeful that we will one day have them all.  I love these ornaments for a couple of reasons.  First is that it brings back so many sweet memories of the books we have rowed over the years.  For most of my children, we have been doing Five in a Row for as long as they can remember.  Its woven into the fabric of our family.  The second reason that I love these is that they are made by friends, people I love and have walked this homeschooling journey with - some for many years and some for just a few.

We met on Sunday to swap our ornaments.  It was a fun social time together with some yummy foods and excellent company.

Here are our ornaments for this year.  Just for fun, I'll post the book that goes with the ornament under the picture in case some of you want to try to figure it out before seeing the answer.  Now, I realize that on some of these that I have the name in the picture.  Sorry, take that as a freebie.  LOL

This one was mine and I wanted the 4 sides to be visible.  It was important to me to capture the 4 pieces of this story.

The Saturdays - Beyond FIAR

Isn't this next one cute?  Just a perfect likeness.

Corduroy - Before FIAR

The wool on this one is from a cotswold ewe and is so soft!  The shape of the ornament will give you a hint too!

Warm as Wool - A story set in Ohio in FIAR

This one is probably recognizable to everyone whether or not you use FIAR!   A much loved story.

Of course, its Peter Rabbit.  (A FIAR title)

This is one in which I photographed the card to go along with it.  Cover that up if you want to try to guess.  Its just perfect for the book!
 George Washington Carver - Beyond FIAR

The colors in this next one were just perfect to me.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (FIAR)

You may have to think on this one.  And when you get it - you will see that it is just right for this story!

 Andy on the Lion from FIAR.

Can you read the mailbox?  If you can, then you will totally know what this one is.

Miss Rumphius from FIAR.

I'm not sure if you can tell, but this one is hand painted on the front and inside of the back to give it dimension!  Its beautiful!
 All Those Secrets of the World (FIAR title)

Reading the note will give you a big clue - and if you were here and could smell the lilacs that would help too.

 The Hickory Chair - FIAR.

This one is another with the picture card in it.  This is a Before FIAR title.
 My Blue Boat.

This is a picture from the book and the cover.  A very sweet book!
 Prayer for a Child - Before FIAR

Last one.  This one too is probably an easy one to recognize for lots of people as it is a classic book.
Madeline (FIAR)

So we have 13 more amazing ornaments to add to our FIAR tree.  I bought a new one this year (on sale for $20!) as I needed a bigger one to hold all of them.  Its a fun tradition and I'm thankful to have friends that want to do it year after year.

Traditions are a sweet way to tie together memories and hearts year after year.

Hoping that your Christmas season is full of sweet wonders and delightful friends.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweet 16!

I can hardly believe that she is 16.  Am I going to feel this way about each birthday?  The days go slowly, but the years do fly.  I'm thankful for each day and year - they have been sweet.

All the stories about teenaged girls ... I just haven't seen it.  Not to say that she doesn't have her moments - but then so do I!  She has a sweet heart and it really does come through in what she does.  She often looks for ways to bless others and I love that!

Rebecca was born the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I remember one of my good friends then had a birthday around Thanksgiving too.  She told me that as an adult that she loved having her birthday near Thanksgiving because she was always near family who celebrated with her.  I loved that - and it was so much nicer than hearing how difficult it is to have a birthday in the mix of the holidays.

So, most years, Rebecca does celebrate her birthday pretty close to Thanksgiving.  This year was no exception.  It was the day after Thanksgiving.  She picked what she wanted for breakfast - biscuits with sausage gravy AND orange juice!  We all enjoyed it.  (Well, not Eliana due to the gluten.)

 On their birthday, we ask our children what they would like to do to celebrate and do our best to accommodate it.  We also like to have them choose all of the food for the day.  Rebecca thought it would be fun to go shopping for her birthday.  We have typically not be close to many retail places when we were in the mountains, but this was just not the case at the beach.

Are you remembering back to when her birthday fell this year?  The day after Thanksgiving.  Yes, Black Friday.  She wanted to go shopping on Black Friday.  So we did.  We actually started the night before.  She knew of a particular item she wanted at the outlet mall and it opened at 10pm on Thur night.  So, Rebecca, Christopher and I headed out.  Did I mention that we had never been shopping before on Black Friday?  We arrived at the mall shortly after it was opened and the parking lot was PACKED!  Cars parked in every legal and illegal space imaginable.  After driving crawling slowly around the mall once, those two got out to shop while I drove around.  I did finally find a spot and went in to meet them. We bought a few things at the first store and then looked around a few more.  Did I mention that it was crazy in here?!

We decided to leave and go to Kohls which opened at midnight.  Um, yes, it was very crazy there too.  We shopped for awhile and then got in line.  It wrapped around the building twice.  After standing for awhile (20 min?), I went to ask if we could put things on hold.  Yes!  Just needed to be back before 1pm the following day in order to get the sale prices.

So the next day we headed back to Kohls.  This time Christopher stayed home and my niece Keri joined us.  The lines were MUCH shorter and easier to navigate.  We had lunch at Chick-Fil-A.
 We gathered together - all of us - for dinner. Pizza, salad and red pepper dip with chips.  This is the birthday girl with her siblings and cousins on my side of the family.
 Cupcake cake for our birthday girl.
Laughing as another sibling gives her a box of Skittles.

Rebecca always brings cheer and laughter to a group.  She quick to smile and always ready to have fun. She is a faithful friend and wonderful sister!
Her big surprise gift this year was a guitar!  She has been asking for one and it was fun to see how excited this gift made her.  Its also been fun to hear her working at learning how to play.
So many things I could say about Rebecca.  She is beautiful.  This is true on the outside, but even more so on the inside where it matters.  Rebecca has a tender heart and I love seeing the ways that she reaches out to comfort, encourage and help others.

Rebecca can be quiet in a group (or if you don't know her well), but she really blossoms when hanging out with young children.  She loves playing with them and delights in the conversations that she has with them.  She also blossoms on a stage!  Rebecca loves to act and perform.  She has an amazing capacity for memorizing and uses this well when she is in a play.  I love watching her act and share her talents in this way.

Rebecca is creative and imaginative in so many ways.  She loves to make things for others and brings great joy with her gifts.  Rebecca is an excellent cook and especially enjoys baking.  We all enjoy that too!

Rebecca loves to learn about God, but more importantly, she loves God!  I'm excited to see her growing in her walk with God and pray that she would continue to fall more deeply in love with Him.  One of her other birthday gifts was a new Bible.  I have read through the New Testament praying for her as I read it and making some notes to her in the Bible.  I hope to finish the Old Testament soon (but didn't want to wait any longer to give it to her).  

Rebecca, I love your heart to serve and bless others.  I love your sweet spirit and tender heart.  I love you more than words can ever say.  I'm so thankful you are my daughter.  You have been a blessing to me for 16+ years now.  

I love you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.  Psalm 107:1

Old holiday with memories stretching back for a lifetime - for some that is just a few years and for others many.  Memories of gathering with family and friends.  Memories of good food.  Memories of being thankful for the many ways that God has blessed us.  Those things all remain no matter where we gather.  This year brought some new things for our family.  We typically gathered in my parents home in the mountains.  We have many memories tied there from Thanksgiving Day to picking out our Christmas tree to the Christmas parade and more.  

Since their house has been sold, we gathered in a new spot.  We made memories of our family gathered together.  We enjoyed delicious food.  We are thankful for the many ways we are blessed.
Rebecca made 4 pies this year (not pictured is the Key Lime Pie).  Bottom are some gluten free cupcakes that have not yet been frosted.
I love how she decorated this one!  Its fun seeing her creative side in ways that I just never would have thought to do myself!
Rebecca and her cousin Keri made these cute turkeys from Oreos.
I tried taking some casual photos - some people were not as cooperative as they could have been.  LOL
Yes, that is a finger in the photo.  It does not belong to the photographer.  Any guesses on who it does belong too?
There wasn't a table big enough for all of us to sit at, so we ended up migrating to different places.  This was not my favorite part of the day.  You know though, we were still together and I'm thankful for that!  Christopher and Brad enjoying football.
The younger kids wanted to sit out on the balcony.
It was a beautiful day so who could blame them.
Especially with a view like this!
My sister and her husband, Kurt.
My Dad and sister.

I had a lot of help in taking photos.  This is not unusual at all.  This one was my favorite.
We had amazing weather while we were out on the beach.  We arrived on a Wed and stayed until Sunday.  Enjoying every day!  The sky was the most incredible color.
My children love the sand.
Just thought this was a beautiful shot.  I love the light on her face.
It really wasn't warm enough for swimming.  I thought by not packing swimsuits that it would discourage getting too wet.  I was wrong.  I'm not sure if you can tell that Eliana's pants are soaked.  She fell a couple of times while playing the waves until she was about fully soaked - and thus time to go in.
The beach is such a great place to play games.  There was very little wind and it was so nice.
I love taking pictures of all of these people that I love.
I love watching and just enjoying being together.  I often try to soak in the memories in my head so that I am fully present right where I am!
Yes, these are the two who ventured into the water every day.
Cousins are so much fun!
I have always loved the beauty of the mountains in the fall.  The beach this time of year also has its own beauty.  I can see the hand of God in this amazing creation.
We like walking to the pier.  I love the views.

Doesn't really look like  November in these photos, does it?
Its always a great time to work on sand castles.
Love seeing my guys having fun together.
One night we went for a walk ...
and the setting sun was truly glorious.

And it just kept getting better and better.
I kept turning around and looking in all directions as it was just hard to believe the colors!  It was truly as if God had painted the sky - and was continuing to paint and change His masterpiece.
I love to go for walks on the beach.  Its my favorite thing to do there.  I'm glad to have others that want to go with me!

Eliana and my Mom.
The rising sun was pretty amazing too.
On our last day there, we went for a walk to the pier and saw a jellyfish.
As we continued to walk, we saw more and more.  We started counting at some point and realized that we saw more than 30!  (It really isn't that far to the pier.)  Later in the afternoon when the tide was further out, we walked to the pier again.  This time we counted 165 jellyfish on the beach!  I was really glad that nobody was swimming that day!

We walked on the pier.  The children were free and it was just a couple of dollars for me.  Its fun to look out to see what you can see.  On this day, we saw more jellyfish.
Not sure what Eliana was doing here, but it did tickle me!
There is an arcade at the pier which my children love.  All of them.
It is pretty cheap fun and we stopped to play some games.

Some of them really like getting the tickets which can be traded for prizes.

Getting a ride home with some new found friends.

One last attempt at a family photo.  Its so hard to get everyone looking - and smiling.
Using a tripod as there wasn't anyone around at the time.
Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope yours was blessed too - with sweet memories of being with people you love.