Nov 26, 2010

Fa-Fa-Fa-Family!

Thanksgiving. Same time, same place, every year, and mostly the same people.
Everyone sits around and eats great food all day made by my Uncle. A few get bored and start wrestling on the good couch. Aunt Cynthia comes in and sends them all packing.
There is always a highly competitive game and usually contested game of either badminton or croquet. This year there was both. After Brad won the croquet game, they all had to discuss the rules in depth and of course they found they had missed some key points after pouring over the rule book....
The kids spend most of the day on our old trampoline that we had growing up which our cousins inherited. Auntie Katie and Uncle Brad entertained them on there.
Hunter is showing me his best trick which involves jumping super high. I think his pants are too loose and about to go.
Tessa was held and loved by many. It was cold out, but she stayed plenty warm. Most of us sat around the new metal fire pit on the patio and huddled over it while we ate yummy lunch with wine and beers.
Super Grandmom got her to go to sleep and held her most of the afternoon.
After going two blocks away to see my cousin, Cassie's (and husband Kevin's) new house just around the corner and taking a tour, we came back and I grumped around trying to get people focused so I could get my annual family picture. Same spot, same day, every year. Sent in each and every Christmas card from us to you.
Then we decided we needed a full group picture. This took forever, as extended family decided to call right as we were trying to organize people. Finally, everyone was off the phone and milling around so we discussed in depth the best spot and lighting, and decided this one would work.

The picture below is my personal favorite from the day. Everyone is finally rounded up and waiting for me to quit messing with the camera settings. I am fiddling with the timer, and (from left to right) Kevin is super jolly about something, Cassie is trying to get the dog in the pic (fail), Aunt Cynthia is hopeful, Uncle Mike is bored (his new beard was discussed in detail and decided to be quite nice - my sister called him a silver fox when he was out of hearing), Hunter is ready on Brett's shoulders while Brett is clearly not, Rick is trying to get Tessa happy, Mom is fixing her sweater, Brad and Katie are sharing some inside joke and Brad might be a little cross eyed, Ainsley is so not wanting to do this picture thing, and of course we have the classic person focused on the phone...my husband, Tone.
20 seconds later, I had the camera set, everyone put on their new happy faces, cheezed it up, and we got one successful picture.
We then went in to eat a very satisfying dinner soon after this, and people sat around laughing and joking with our belly's very fat and full. Most found room though for a hefty slice of pie.

And that's our Thanksgiving. Same place, same time, people we love dearly, every year.
Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Nov 20, 2010

A Homecoming...


I can't wait to go home.
I'm talking about heaven. And not in some gory-I-want-to-end-my-life-here kind of way. My life is extremely full and joyful here. But I can't wait to discover the culmination of my faith. I can't wait to speak to my Savior and hear His voice to me.
I am addicted to those dance reality shows. (Hey, don't judge). Because once upon a time I was a dancer. I love to dance. But the reality is, I will never get the chance to learn to dance like they do on those dance shows. But I think if given the chance I would be so awesome....well, so I tell myself at least. And I was kinda getting disappointed because I'm not a celebrity. So no one is going to call me on the phone and say, "Hey, wanna be on a dance show and learn some awesome dance moves?" I think in this world, there a lot of disappointments. A lot of "well-if-I-had-the-chance" wishes....

But you see, I had an epiphany this week. I WILL have the chance. Just maybe not this side of heaven.

See I don't think we leave here to go be bored and sing on clouds. No, I think that is just when we start to have all the real joy and are able to live to our full potential. What God would have us be if we weren't trapped by our sinful, handicapped bodies. What God has intended for us from the very beginning when He first thought of us in Eden. We won't be trapped in time, not having enough in each day, or in each week, month, and year to get all those wishes done.
I think there is a whole new world just waiting for us to discover, work in, have a purpose in, just as we had been designed to do from the start. And just think...no time restraints! Every woman knows how those time restraints and pressing responsibilities will never let us get to the "someday if I had the chance."
Heaven secretly brings thoughts of fear I think. The unknown. What if I'm totally bored with forever? But then, there is so much to look forward to. Perfect family, friendships, and relationships. A time to shine in all that we were created to be, and enough time and resources to do it in. Amazing, huh!
I don't know about you, but this vintage ad cracks me up. Vinyl plastic tile flooring sure isn't my idea of heaven! However, I identify with the picture. Dancing with my broom is about as close as I'm going to get right now to real dance lessons (and yes, I do secretly dance with the broom - I knew you were wondering).

So we do our best with the work and relationships God has given us here, and then we get to go home. I don't know about you, but I'm excited! Life was not a big fat FAIL if you didn't get to do it all here. There are such things as second chances. God extended to us the biggest second chance of all in an amazing act of grace and love.

I mean no disrespect by this blog post. I take heaven seriously, but I think it's going to be full of joy, purpose and FUN! I really truly do! And I don't think God would have a problem with me wanting to learn to dance there. He might even teach me Himself or come to watch me perform. I know He delights in His children so it only makes sense, right?

So you know what I'm going to do when I get there? Well, one goal I plan on doing is....

1. Learn to dance

2.
Second goal, well, now that I've had this epiphany, I may just start a list....

Someday...

The "Let's Go to Paris" baby onesie is now in the shop.
A black cotton Eiffel Tower is fused to a cream felt patch. Vintage rose fabric and lace trim are sewn below. Topping it off is a hot pink satin posy with pearls.
Not that I've been to Paris.
I keep going to random places in Asia and Central and South America. Not that I'm complaining. And this year we are going to Hawaii so I really have no reason to complain.
But still...someday. I will go...yes. Yes, I will.

I felt that I must make this outfit since I bought the baby girl little black leggings and she has the Little Black Dress Shoes. This onesie was a total inspiration last night. Now I'm off to sew her a little skirt to go with it. The cuteness factor is on overload around here...

Nov 18, 2010

Fall Leaf Pictures 2010

WARNING: Unless you are a grandparent and love seeing TONS of pictures of my (albeit adorable) children. Please disregard this post.

This is our annual fall leaves photo shoot. We went to Woodward Park and the leaves and light were PERFECT. Golden light, not too harsh at this time of day, and the leaves were all turning.
I brought a couple chairs with me and went for it to see what I would get.

Ainsley got pictures taken first. Simply because she's the most squirrelly and I knew she wasn't going to last long or focus worth a darn. She was the most miserable to get pictures of.
So in no particular order....the shoot.
Still I got a few cute ones like this.
Next up: Hunter.
For some lame reason, I cut off the edge of his boot. Granted I was yelling at Ainsley to stay out of my shot. That may have had something to do with it...I dunno.
He is so easy to get to smile and laugh and he is so compliant now with the whole photo thing. Phew. That's at least one out of three.
Oh and the boot thing...my kids wouldn't be my kids if they weren't wearing something somewhat quirky in photos.
They dress themselves. You should see what they pick out to wear on a normal day.
You don't even want to know what kind of aweful noises I was doing that were supposed to be "silly" to coax smiles out of them. It may or may not have sounded like bodily functions.
Don't judge.
It's working....Well,
It's apparently only working on two out of three.
One looks a bit like a thug.
As you can see, Tess is so thrilled with the whole experience of getting her picture taken. It might have something to do with the fact that she's propped in this chair so she won't fall over...
I think she's entirely bored and disgusted by the whole process.
That's supposed to be a three month DRESS that she's wearing. We like it as a shirt. Those are 12 month leggings we have those thighs shoved into.
She's only 5 months.
We adore her "squishies".
Tessa.
So chill. I can hear her thinking,
"Hey. Waz up? Wanna hook a girl up with some food or somethin'?"
Tess is totally thrilled with the whole experience can't you tell? However, I think this will be our Cristmas card photo. On the other hand, at Thanksgiving we always try to get a family photo with Tone' and I, so if that one turns out, this one may get vetoed.
Hunter decided he wanted a turn with the camera and chose this spot. It's not a great spot because of the dappled light, but he was having a great time being behind the lense and was adamant that this was the place for me. So I just set the camera and let him go. It made his day.
Now the kid is happy and choosing his own spot for me take a picture of him. I actually liked it.
Ainsley was fascinated by these reeds. She was done posing for me, so I was just letting her be her own thing at this point.
While this was a pretty spot for pictures, Tessa and Ainsley were SO not cooperating. Tessa wanted to throw herself backwards, eat the reeds, fuss, etc., and Ainsley also wanted to play with the reeds. This was the best I got of the three of them here. Fail. So we moved on to play and I no longer posed them. They had had enough.
I just can't get enough of those light light blue eyes with his blond hair and really dark tan skin (though you can't tell how super dark he actually is in this photo). It's striking. Where did that come from?
We found this bridge where the light was fantastic - filtered and golden and the kids wanted to play on it. I snapped TONS of pictures that were so great here, but I'll spare you and give you only a couple.Of course right after this picture was taken, he fell in almost up to his knees. I kind of expected it. Afterall, it's MY child we are talking about here.
Cindy Lou Who from Dr. Seuss showed up apparently.
Ainsley being super safe on the bridge.

We decided to walk over and watch the ducks. Hunter just happened to look back over at me and this pose was perfect.
I promise you that I didn't style her hair this crazy on purpose. I had those pigtails slicked flat when we left the house. It's just the nature of them and it quite fits her personality. Silly girl.
Anyhow, over the course of 2 hours, I snapped 330 photos. I was able to edit and keep about 62 that I thought were good enough. That's a ton of work, but worth it I suppose. Or I could just be an idiot for even attempting such a project with three young children.
Your call.

Nov 15, 2010

When at first you don't succeed...

Try, try, again.
At least that's what they say.
I don't know, but I think a little girl wasn't ready for rice cereal today and we are going to hold off for a while and try again maybe in a week or two. She had no clue and didn't want it.
I got disgusted looks like this.
She really wanted no part of it. Nor did she know what to do with it. She thrust it all out and wouldn't open up for it. I don't think any part of it actually went down her throat and we tried quite a few spoonfuls.
Or I got a blank look with it dribbling down her chin. Now that's an attractive look.
Hmmm, yeah, she's not ready.
I knew when it was over when she became very interested in her bib.

It was extremely fascinating.

Now, THAT, was worth eating.

Nov 14, 2010

Officially Legal Now

We've decorated the house for Thanksgiving. The spooky black crows have come down and leaf garlands have gone up.
You totally know what that means, right? It means Christmas music is now officially legal.
So go on...turn up "Santa Baby" and sing it loud and proud.
I do.

Nov 12, 2010

The Bunk Beds

I am not the only creative soul in our family. Way back before I had Tessa (actually as soon as I knew I was pregnant) I made a wish for bunkbeds. This is because I was not about to give up my craft room and office. No way, no how.

Tone' thought he could make them, so he bought instructions, researched the wood (we bought poplar), got a planer to cut down the rough boards and got to work designing these bad boys.

Since he was at it, I put in my own requests. I asked that the top bunk be tall enough and wide enough to fit the crib in the bottom. We'll fit the bottom mattress in later when Tessa is ready for it.

Then, I got to thinking....dangerous ground, I know.

I put in a second request. I asked that the bottom be tall enough to later fit in a trundle underneath so that we could actually have three beds in there eventually. That way the girls would have an extra bed for guests.

We finally got it all together a couple weeks ago. It's lovely isn't it?

We aren't using the crib yet as Tessa is still in our room, so right now it's a catchall for the stuffed animals.

Ainsley loves it up there, but now I've requested a wooden stool so that I can see over the edge to tuck her in, and Ainsley can reach the bottom rung of the ladder better.

We have good-night rituals. Somehow, it's become different with my different children. Ainsley and I pray to Jesus and then I sing her a lullaby or song. My list of songs is pretty random for night time. We sing songs and listen to songs all day, but there are only a few that she will let me sing to her at night time. Odd. Currently, her favorite is, "You are so Beautiful to Me." Narcissistic, no? That's currently Ainsley right now to a "t".

Hunter hates me singing to him.

With Hunter we pray and then he tells me his favorite part about the day after I relist all the things we did. And you had better not skip any part or do it out of order - neither child will allow it.

Tone' then got on some sort of kick and as soon as he finished these beds, he went right out and bought cherry wood for our shaker style four poster bed he has been wanting to make since we got married. It's half done, and I am so excited. He has other plans for a cedar chest for the bottom of the bed, a new bedroom dresser and nightstands to match, and new shaker style coffee and side tables for the living room. He has made me some gorgeous furniture already through the years and as far as I'm concerned, he can slowly make his way through the house creating stuff for it. I won't complain if it takes a few years. No way.

Nov 11, 2010

Thank you troops!

To my Brother-in-law, Dad, Step-Dad, Grandparents, Uncle, and friends who have served,
Thank you troops for all you do and did so our little ones, like my Tessa, can grow up in a safe, free and happy place. Happy Veterans Day!

Nov 10, 2010

Joy in the Mundane

From me to you from my garden.
On my counter:
There is the true joy of life; to be used by a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before being thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that life will not devote itself to making you happy.
- George Bernard Shaw

I am a wife. I am a Mommy. I homeschool. I have a little shop allows me to stay home with my kids but doesn't make quite the scope of difference in the world that my job as a classroom school teacher did. I have many friends that I see often. I enjoy having people into my home. I give my little bit of money to things I believe in. I live passionately, though my scope is small - narrowed to my family and a few friends and neighbors. I cannot seem to even keep my house clean. I create small pockets of beauty around me. I adore my children. I like to garden in my small yard. Though my sphere of influence is so very small, I still believe my purpose and the place God put me is a mighty one. I throw myself into it and choose joy in all of it. I am quite satisfied with my lot in life. He has been so very good to me.

Today we homeschooled, enjoyed Daddy before he left for work, made paper bag turkeys, had soup for lunch, went to Walmart, sewed together some fall leaves for a garland with Hunter's help, decorated the mantle for Thanksgiving, made "give thanks" jars, got out the stamps and made Xmas tags, thought about baking cookies (tomorrow), played with Tessa to get her to laugh, cleaned the house, did dishes, had breakfast for dinner, read books, burned a hazelnut candle, danced to old CD's that the kids discovered, did goodnights, sat down to read favorite blogs on the computer, wrote this blog post, and am thinking about sewing a pair of shoes .

Mundane. Maybe. Joyful? Yes.

Friday it was 90 degrees - in November! Truly! Then it rained over the weekend. Today was cool and windy. I am joyful for little things. Like the fact that the weather calls soup again. Today's lunch: Tomato soup and gold fishy crackers. Childish? Perhaps. Enjoyable? Yes. Though it was not too cold for iced tea (according to me who drinks it all year long).
Ainsley loved this lunch. She also likes my unsweetened ice tea. Weird for a three year old.
Don't judge. It was decaf.

Nov 9, 2010

Deep Thoughts and Silly Moments

From time to time I read deep things. I like to think deep. My creative, flighty brain enjoys a challenge every once in a while believe it or not, and two of my favorites are C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancy. On my last airplane trip I was reading Yancy's book, I Was Just Wondering. A book of musings on questions he has that do not necessarily have an answer. In one particular chapter he writes on the subject of time and quotes C.S. Lewis's book, Reflections on the Psalms. Yancy writes about us,

"In all of earth there are no exact parallels of spirit and immortality housed in matter. The discomfiture we feel may be our most accurate human sensation, reminding us we are not quite "at home" here. Lewis mentioned one (oddity of human nature):...our startled reactions to the concept of time. The last page of Reflections on the Psalms summarizes the transitory, suspended state we live in.

'We are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. "How he's grown!" we exclaim, "
How time flies!" as though the universal form of our experience were again and again an novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.'"

At any rate, I understand this. Each day I feel a little sadness that one piece of my child's life is now over, they are just a little bit older, a little less my baby. Hunter wanted to sit on my lap today while I read him a book. How much longer will that last?

Thankfully, I am also reminded that we were meant for more than to live our time and fade into oblivion. According to the Biblical view of humanity, there is transcendence. Death is not an ending. We were created for something much greater, though in our fallen state we sit in time.

In C.S. Lewis's book The Last Battle, one of my favorite passages ever in a book is the closing.

"And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."


This has been on my mind the last couple of weeks as I really try to seize the day with my children, knowing that my small amount of time is passing quite quickly. How do I already have a 6 year old, a 3 year old, and baby that is 5 months and no longer my newborn?

We were at Walmart and Target this week and we discovered that the costumes were on sale for $3 and $5 a piece. We even found a few things for a dollar. We brought home a couple bags for the kid's dress up boxes. I was helping them cut off the tags and they were putting on a costume show for me when we got home, and I discovered one of the costumes seems a bit bigger than it was supposed to be. To be silly for Hunter, I put it on and it fit. He was giggling so much that we decided to take a silly picture. Which turned into a silly romp with my children in front of the camera. Seize the day!
At any rate, I decided life is too short to not thoroughly enjoy my children and do completely silly things with them. We posed like chickens, stuck our tongues out, did "tough" guy pictures, etc.Ainsley found an Alice in Wonderland costume. Hunter found a pilot, gorilla and a jedi. I am wearing the knight's costume. The two kids spent the whole day today in their pirate's costumes (not pictured). And why not? We even brought Tess in on it, though I'm not sure she thought it was as funny as we did. Hunter and Ainsley were giggling so much they were having a hard time holding the pose we were supposed to be doing.
I am so very glad that we documented this. As the person behind the camera usually, I am not usually in the photos, and I am sure my kids would want these some day. I treasure family photos with my parents in them and a day being silly with mom is a keeper. I want them to have these memories with me. I did not even use the good camera. That was not the point. I didn't want a pretty picture this time. I wanted something that could easily capture a happy memory.