Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tommy Turns Twelve!

Today our 5th born turned 12.  Thomas William was born near Denver after a very eventful pregnancy, and he has been eventful ever since. Tommy is one of those kids who is born 'older'.  He many times prefers to be with adults over children.  He is probably the most energetic, eager, and forward thinking person I know.  He is forever willing to help anyone who needs anything.  He is polite and thoughtful.  He loves God and His word.  He is a teacher and over the years, anyone and anything have been his audience or classroom.  One day, years ago, we found him preaching hell-fire and brimstone to the backyard squirrels from his handmade podium.  He is destined for something great.
He woke up at 6:30 yesterday morning to make his own birthday dessert.  Alton Brown's recipe for chocolate chiffon cupcakes.  Mmmmm...Too bad the recipe didn't seem to work as well in our kitchen as it did in Food Network's test kitchen, and Tommy was quite disappointed.  But this kid doesn't stay down for long.  He popped back up and decided on chocolate mocha milkshakes instead.  I don't suppose it would be easy to ruin a chocolate mocha milkshake, eh?
 A little Pin the Tail on the Donkey before dinner.  Just for fun.

 How far can this tooter go down into the cup?

Our handsome son, growing into a man.

We had a little dinner celebration with just us last night.  Sirloin burgers, curly fries, and Caesar salad.  He opened gifts (another Klutz book!) and we had a Wii tournament.  He had to take a raincheck on having another family over.  I didn't really think we should have company stepping over moving boxes and paint cans, and -um- seeing our house right now.

 Today I took Hannah and younger (7 children!) up to Littleton.  Tommy loves to cook, so we went first to Penzey's Spices.  It's a wonderful little place, and you can smell each combination of spices they sell.  We all came out sneezing and sniffing, but it was fun!
 Checking out the baking spices!

 After Penzey's, we headed across the street to Lola's Sugar Rush.  A really cute little sweet shop with a lot of nostalgia, though a bit pricey.  Tommy and Nat had just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and they thought is was pretty neat that the movie was playing in this shop.
Tommy spent the rest of the afternoon working at home with his new gifts.  And now he is next door with his dad helping the neighbors move.  What a kid.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Letting Go

I am feeling a bit reflective these days, and I wanted to jot down some thoughts.  I've been thinking a lot lately about letting go.  I have a book, in fact, by Francois Fenelon called 'Letting Go'.  It is a fabulous book in many ways and urges us to keep looking up and keep walking and giving thanks when things get hard.  He wrote it for a friend who was suffering with a terminal illness.
I am (finally!) sitting down for the day, listening to a most beautiful collection of hymns by Selah (thanks, Mom).  It is rainy and cold, and the house is quiet.  I am looking around me, at this house.  Remembering our lives over the past 11 years here.  So much has happened, so much has changed.  Five of our children were born while we lived here. Our older boys have turned into men in this home.  My husband and I have turned into better parents in this home.  Our marriage has bloomed in this home. We have walked through valleys where we thought we couldn't go on.  We have soaked up the sun on the mountain tops.  We have lived in-between, mostly, learning to trust the One Who leads us on. 
Here are my thoughts on letting go.  Of this home, of this season, of my children as they grow and make plans to fly.

 The walls of this home, if they could speak
Would laugh! Would cry! Would sing out! 
And what stories they would tell
Stories of joy and struggle
Birth and growth and change
Of family and friends, bonded by truth
Of the love of God
and the trials of men
History stories, art lessons, science experiments at the kitchen table
Cooking, baking, writing, jumping
Adding, subtracting, wiggling
Fussing, fighting, apologizing, weeping
Planning, washing, holding, reading
Laughing, bouncing, swinging
Eating, talking, singing, plinking, strumming
Building, dancing, dreaming
Climbing, digging, planting, messing
Training, teaching, learning, praying
Holding, reading, rocking, sleeping

Someone asked me if I was excited about moving.  My answer was yes.  And no.  Yes for more space inside and out.  And more storage, hallelujah! No for the next season that I don't feel ready for.  To continue on in coaching my children into adulthood.  To move into the ending of our child-bearing years.  To grow into that wiser, older mother and wife and friend.  Here I am, not quite ready for change, but facing it with my eyes behind me in gratitude and my eyes before me with hope.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Power of Hope

My husband shared the message at church today.  It was basically his life's story- the testimony of how God had saved him and orchestrated things in his life.  Kenny didn't grow up knowing the ways of God.  But God reached down and met him, when my husband called out. There were parts of the message where I cringed; Kenny is a very open person.  There were parts where I cried; he shared of his salvation.  There were parts where I laughed; my husband is a bit goofy, you might say. Through it all, the message I heard was that God is good, beyond even what we can see.  
It truly is a marvel to get to hope in the living God. The God we can't fully see, fully hear, fully know.  We are waiting to meet Him face to face. Until we do, life isn't easy very often.  It is rich and there is much blessing, but it isn't easy.  The world around us is hurting.  There is darkness and pain.  Our own burdens seem too heavy to carry at times. We have many questions, and can't always be certain of our future.  But one thing is certain.  Our good God is on the throne.  And for a fallen human to be able to put their hope in that God is a grand thing. A very grand thing indeed.
A few days ago, I was close to having a meltdown.  Okay, so I actually had the meltdown Friday night.  Everything just felt so weighty.  News headlines. Children changing into young adults in wobbly ways.  Feeling that we will never ever get this house ready to sell.  Illness. Fears about the future.  I was praying.  And I found this message written on the inside of an empty orange box, on the floor of my bedroom. Can you guess who wrote it?
But Jesus Came Into my Hart

'The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood; and the Lord sits as King forever.' Ps. 29:10

'You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.' Ps. 119:114

'Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope' Ps. 16:9

'...that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.'  Acts 17:27

Sunday, April 14, 2013

You Know You Have a Big Family When...

  • You have three times as many beds as bedrooms.
  • You invite nobody over for a child's birthday dinner, and it's just as full and loud as if you had.
  • You do a normal two-week's worth grocery trip to Costco, and the checker asks if you left any food in the store.
  • You take only half of your children out, and after some nice woman comments on how you have your hands full, you exchange winks with your kids.
  • There is no such thing as 'stocking up' on things.
  • You buy all those cute dresses at the thrift store, though they're nobody's size, because somebody will wear them someday.
  • You wash 20 bath towels on Monday, and your son lets you know 'we're out' by Thursday morning.
  • You run to the store for toilet paper when you are down to just 4 rolls.
  • Family game nights take up two dining room tables.
  • You need two or three of the same forms at your pediatrician and dentist offices, just to fill out everyone's information.
  • Your younger children treat their older siblings like parents.
  • You really don't worry about having to live in a nursing home. Somebody will want to have us, right?
  • Your children have lots of automatic best friends.

In My House...

Our dining room can become a crime scene at any moment.

I get asked to take the sugar container out of the cupboard before dinner.  Why?  So Nat can get his hot rod out. The hot rod that is buried in the bottom of the sugar.

I hear Emma yelling into the dark garage, thinking she heard a noise, 'Is anybody in here? Well, anybody except God?'

I find myself actually having a conversation discussing Strawberry Shortcake's age.

One child's innocent question about weather turns into a 45 minute lesson on meteorology.

I have a line of begging boys whenever a lamp, broom, or mop goes bad and is on its way to the garbage. Think weapons.

I have Playmobil guys living in my beautiful lighthouse tea-light holder.

There are strings with green paper hanging on the ficus tree in the living room.  Apparently someone thought the tree didn't have enough leaves.

Life is interesting in my house.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Growing Out of Our Home

I don't know, but it just seems like my children keep getting bigger.  And my home really doesn't. Some might think that a family of 12 living in a 1900 square foot home sounds a little tight.  And some days it is.  Especially when we have company.  But we get creative, and God provides in so many ways. I can't tell you how many times we've shuffled children and beds around and magically expanded closets and kept a baby in the crib until they were 5 (no, not really, but it seemed like it on occasion).  We have purged and re-purged and moved things out to the garage and added shelves and metal bars all around.  Half of my kitchen is in the garage. And we have a wonderful triple bunk and a regular bunk, housing our 5 oldest boys.  Our girls have a loft, with the two littles underneath, and Hannah somehow got a single bed all to herself.  Baby is with us, which I love, except that he is our worst sleeper and can't drown out noises very well. 

After 11 years of growing our family in this wonderful home, and through much discussion, prayer for wisdom, number-crunching, contemplation, and finally some kicks in the pants by family and friends who say 'it's TIME!', we have made the decision to put our home on the market. In fact...
When Emma and I came home from Oregon, there was a huge dumpster sitting in our driveway, filled with yard debris.  And there were pretty pots of flowers and a freshly painted garage door and front door, and many other things awaiting our attention.  While we were gone, Kenny rallied about 40 people from work and church to come over and surprise me.  It was amazing, the work they did!  And very very humbling to be on the receiving end of it all (especially wondering what in the world my bathrooms and garage looked like when they showed up.  Lord have mercy.)
So now, we have taken a couple of weeks off school to get inside things done. We are hoping to get our home on the market within 2 or 3 weeks.  That really may be a crazy deadline, but it keeps us going. I'm sure I'll have more posts of our adventure.   
 Sarah, in her pajamas, and sidekick Ellie, having a yard sale early yesterday morning to make money for the move.
She's getting the idea - get rid of your stuff!
She's also a good saleswoman.  She sold the same pair of skates to Emma and I at different times, and made twice the price!

On the left of this photo, she has a pair of shoes - two different shoes - for sale.  No one bought those. She also has some language software that she said didn't teach her anything. 'Mom, I already know English.' Yes, of course. 
That software will be getting pulled out again this fall.  So she can learn the English she doesn't know that she doesn't know.
Stay tuned for more on our move!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Girls Week

Last week Emma and I got to fly out to spend time with my mom, my two sisters, and my niece. It was a much needed vacation for this mama, after another tournament week and, well, life with a full house.
My sisters and mom are from New Jersey and Oregon, and though we lead different lives, we always have so much fun when we get together.  Sometimes we laugh until it hurts.  And that feels really good.
 I grew up on this street.  Isn't it lovely?

 Emily and Emma, in my childhood neighborhood.  This house belonged to our next door neighbors.  The woman here is a widow like my mom.  And they are still good friends.

We drove down the road to the elementary school we attended as children.  Many years ago. The school has since closed down, but we couldn't resist the temptation to raid the playground just one more time. And I really tried to make sure the teeter-totter didn't go down more on my side, if you know what I mean.

The Gingerbread Village, on the way to the coast.  We stopped here so many times as a family when we would go to visit our grandma and grandpa.  It's still open for business, with the same old booths and musty, Oregon smell.  And the gingerbread is still soft and warm.

My energetic 75 year-old mom, Emma, and I at Sea Lion Caves. Sarah, at home in Colorado, kept calling my cell phone while I was here.  I told her I was going down to a cave to see some sea lions, and I would call her back.  The phone rang again.  Sarah asked,'Have you seen them yet?' I said, 'Seen who?'. "Well, have you seen the water tigers yet?'   I love that kid.

I am in love with lighthouses.  I think they are so romantic.  And wonderfully old-fashioned. And a little spooky.  And so symbolic in my faith.

 A little homemade salt-water taffy for our trip up the highway.  It's really not my favorite candy.  But is tastes like memories.

 This octopus sparked some funny discussion.  The lady at the museum told us that male octopusus (octopi?) have one arm without tentacles so they can breed.  Emma thought she said so they can breathe. She spent the next 15 minutes trying very hard to figure out why in the world he would have a strange arm so he could breathe better.

Oh my word.  If you ever go to the Oregon coast, you just have to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  You get a great tour, some wonderful photo-ops, and lunch.  Like warm patty melts with Tillamook cheese.  Oooh. And the most creamy, sweet, cold Tillamook ice cream.  In a chocolate dipped waffle cone.  Yeah.

The last night of our trip, we stayed with Kenny's parents.  Papa taught Emma some of his beautiful painting techniques, while Grammy and I visited.