Friday, December 14, 2012

Tradition! Tradition!

One of the elements of Christmas that I love is traditions.  It is so special to hand down holiday rituals from my childhood.  I also love the chance to start new traditions! My kids get excited about the things that we ALWAYS do at Christmas, and as the month passes I often hear "When are we going to...?" I try to follow in the footsteps of my mom, who made the holidays so special.  She also make it look so easy.  Maybe she had some elves that helped her out, but I just remember that she had this magical way of making Christmas look beautiful and effortless.

MY favorite tradition that we have is going to the mountains and cutting down our Christmas tree.  This year, we went to a new location as the place that we have gone to over the past 8 years was burned in a fire last summer.  We had the perfect day to hike around, searching for our perfect tree.  We found the most beautiful tree, tall and full and so grand! There are even tiny pinecones on it to add to it's beauty.  

We love "having count down to Christmas" decorations.  You know the kind... every day you change the number of the day until the 25th arrives.  All of the kids take turns each day turning the day on the various countdown calendars that we have.

Driving around our city to see Christmas lights is always a fun tradition.  There is a business in our town that has a Christmas display that has been up ever since I was a kid.  Its hard to explain the true concept of the "Woodward lights. Lets just say that large plastic carolers, made-to-look-real miniature wooden churches, a faded manger scene and a slew of lights and music cause this girl to get holiday goosebumps.  Driving around the curved driveway with the car light turned off and the windows rolled down, straining to here the piped in carols, only adds to the magical 2 minute "we're not in Kansas anymore" Christmas experience.  My kids repeat the same exclamations year after year, some of which I said myself as a child as we are transported for just a brief bit of time to another Christmas world.

We have stockings that we hang on the mantle, handmade ornaments that we hang with pride, nativity sets that the kids set out and arrange to make sure that the sheep can see the baby Jesus.  We fill the house with the sounds of times remembered. As each year passes and the kids get older we make new memories as we decorate and spread Christmas around our house.

When I was a kid, we rarely ever ate out at a restaurant.  It just wasn't something that anyone did regularly.  So, when my parents started the tradition of going OUT for breakfast at a restaurant on Christmas Eve, I thought that I had died and gone to heaven!  I fondly remember specific restaurants that we have eaten our Christmas Eve breakfasts at.

A few years ago, I began the tradition of giving the kids a new book and letting them open that gift on Christmas eve.  Choosing a special book for each one of them is so fun for me!

Traditions are such a special part of our holiday season.  I'm so thankful that we have old ones and  new ones.  They add so much to this time of celebration.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Over the fall, I took an E-course from the amazingly creative Jeanne Oliver. The course is called "Creatively Made Home"  .  She, along with other very lovely designers, put together this wonderful 5 week course with tips on homemaking, gift making, designing, crafty projects, and loads of other creative elements.  I hadn't ever done anything like this before online, and so at first I wasn't sure how it was going to go.  Now that I have finished the E-course, I am so glad that I took the opportunity to do it.  It was MY kind of learning!!  The designers were inspiring and I loved watching the instructional videos each week.  The course is "up" on the web until April I think, so if you are interested in a creative kick in the pants, I would highly recommend it.

Jeanne Oliver has a new design line of bags.  Oh my goodness, they are to DIE FOR!  My favorite is the Aubrey Ruffle Tote.  It's probably something that I could make myself, but looking at Jeanne's beautiful photographs just enhance the beauty of the tote.  Her photos and her musings are encouraging and uplifitng.  AND - I think she lives just down the road from me... well, south about 75 miles.

Her bags would make ANY mama smile this Christmas!!

Ahhhhh... maybe Santa is reading??

Ho Ho Ho!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


If you were to have a camera that could peak into my mind or  into my heart, the view might confuse you.  Is she happy is she sad?  Are things good or are they bad? Is life easy or is it hard?
Well, the truth is, its ALL of that and EVERYTHING in between.

   Its great when we are celebrating holidays and birthdays.  Making big deals out of everyday life is something that I really enjoy.  Creating a comforting home, special traditions, 
gentle snuggles and daily routines.  

Happiness comes from all of these.   

And then I turn the corner and I land on a memory or my heart is tugged by a loss and a cloud of sadness starts to settle.  Its in those moments that I have to be intentional on how long I sit with sadness.  Sadness and disappointment can steal so much from me.  I have let them before, but that is no longer how I want to deal with difficult things.  My mom reminded me a few days ago that the season we are celebrating these days is about HOPE.  And that is where I want to take my sadness about things I can't control, about people whom I miss, about questions I have about faith and love and how we put it all together.    

I want to bring them to the altar of hope.  As I surrender my control of all of the ups and downs, I know that I will see Jesus in however He chooses to answer.  He speaks to me through songs, through scriptures, through other people, through my children.  His blessing of HOPE is all around, I just need to open up my eyes to see it and my heart to accept what IS here, rather than dwelling on what is not.


JOY is why we are celebrating, and HOPE is why my Savior took His place in the manger. 
Come, let us Adore Him.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dearest Marky,

I was so thrilled to talk with you the other
day about the great comments that you
received from your teacher. 
I hope that his remarks confirmed for you
what I already know about you.  
That you are smart and funny; truth-filled
and so beautiful.

I know that it was so hard on you last year 
when you didn't 
get "chosen".
And yet you just kept on going, 
like the brave, sweet girl 
that God made you to be.

But I know that it hurt.

Now today, 
half a year later, I hope that
it has been confirmed to you
that you are 
And that you SHOULD have been chosen
and that you are worthy and 
most importantly that you are
You are enough, just because of who you are.


I choose you.  Every day.  For the rest of our days. 

I think you are incredible. 
I am so proud of you.
Every day.

It is a privilege to be your mom.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I found remnants of summer in the garden yesterday.
These are the frost survivors.
So beautiful, so hardy.
This weekend, I'm planning on
getting out in the yard and preparing it for winter.
Cutting things back, pruning, trimming.
Preparing the ground for next spring.
I love this time of year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

family pictures

 more soccer
 late blooming flowers

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Its been a busy September.  One thing after another, life moving at the speed of gale force winds.  Most of it is necessary, some of it happens out of habit.  The truth is, it feels like some days go by slow and others speed by.  I am finding that in either scenario, the best plan for me is to be armed with creativity, wisdom and patience.  These are the 3 keywords that I have adopted over the past few weeks.  The only place that I can find these attributes is in praying desperately and truthfully all day long.  Grace is the oil that makes the wheels of life turn in the midst of disappointments, sadness,  or hurt.  Grace is also the oil of gladness that lightens a load with answered prayers and peace that passes all understanding when chaos seems to be around the corner.  Being the mom of my four sweet kiddos is the most challenging, most exhausting, most thrilling job that I have ever had.  In the last couple of weeks I have cried with my teen daughter over a broken heart and then been yelled at because I don't understand.  I have borne the weight of another daughters' anxiety and fears of the dark.  I have counseled my girls in the ways of love, boys, grades, self-esteem and conflict with authority.  I have talked to my son about good sportsmanlike behavior when we lose, all the while bearing the weight of his extreme sadness in losing.  I feel as if I deserve a few initials behind my name for all of the "professional" aspects this role of "MOM" entails.  And the truth is that many days I feel very unqualified, even though in my heart I know that I love my family more than life itself.  I would give, and DO give everything for them, however there are times when I feel like I am unsure and unwise and shaky.  And so I pick up the phone,  I send a quick text, reaching out to someone older, wiser, further along in the journey to assure me that I'm doing okay, to encourage me that it MATTERS and to tell me that MOST days, OK makes the grade!!  Medicine to my mother soul!!  OK is good enough!!!  I don't have to be perfect or try harder, two grades that I've been working most of my life to achieve straight A's in.  But in mothering (and daughter-ing to be truthful), we have to measure success by the smiles and hugs that we can give at the end of the day.  The "i still love yous and I'm the head of your fan club" proclamations before the sun sets.  Short accounts and even longer "I'm sorry, lets try that agains".  And, as Anne of Green Gables says, I must always remember that "Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet."  


Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting big*ger

Over the last several weeks, I have done a ROYAL purge on our house.  For some reason, the start of school and all things "fall" signifies to me that I need to quit the summer relaxation game I've been playing and I need to get to work.  It also makes me want to color my hair darker... but every time I do that I hate it, so... onto the purge. 

During the summer, I cleaned out the garage of training wheels, tiny scooters, wagons, strollers and tricycles.  I donated floaties and knee pads and helmets that we've out grown.  Fast forward a few weeks, and I got started on the kid's drawers and bedrooms.  In came the garbage bags, out went the baby toys and too-small clothes.  I have purged dishes that we no longer used, clothes and shoes from my closet,  pillows,  towels, sheets and tablecloths ... out the door. 

It feels so great to have more space in our home, in our closets and drawers. 

 What came to my attention while enjoying this getting rid activity is that my family is entering a new phase of our lives.  The kids no longer need training wheels on their bikes or stools to reach faucets while they brush their teeth.  We have completly leaped over size 5t in favor of "big boy" clothes.  Each one of the kids carries their own luggage while we travel, they all packed their own "toiletries" when we went on vacations this summer, they all have their own style and their own ratio of clean to comfort in their spaces.  What gets me as a mom is first, how quickly they all became independent and two, how GLAD I am that they are growing in independence.  It thrills me to see them try things on their own, just because they want to do it. 

I love it when they decorate their room with something that THEY love.  Watching them develop their own tastes in clothes and hobbies; yes, we are all growing up. 
              The truth is, I have to grow up with them.  They still need me, and maybe even more these days, but just in different ways.  They don't need me to help them ride their bikes, but they do need me to give them guidance on how they treat their friends, how they accomplish their homework, how to deal with on-going fears that pop up at night.  It's turning out to be a fun transition, watching the kids grow up. Most days, I embrace their getting bigness. 

But, every once in a while, I wonder if I cherished enough, the days of the past, and I wish for 10 minutes of holding one of the kids when they were itty bitty. There I times I ask myself if I really *experienced* the hours spent rocking babies to sleep at night, the trips to Kindermusik or Storytime at the library.  I don't want any of it to pass by too quickly (well maybe I wished potty-training away), and I find that the great challenge of motherhood for me is to immerse myself in whatever is going on around me, good or bad, rather than just dipping my toe in for a quick test-run.    Its all worth it. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Yesterday, #3 daughter came home from school, threw her hands in the air and let out an exasperated yell.  This was followed by a torrent of tears.

Caught off guard by her noise and drama (well maybe not the drama) I went to her and said "What in the world is the matter??"

She replied, "I did NOT KNOW that 3rd grade was going to be so HARD!  We have to get GRADES!!!  What if I get BAD GRADES??  I want to go back to 2nd grade where it
wasn't so hard."

After a hug and an explanation that the smiley faces and  ++ that she received on her papers in 2nd grade translated into a third grade A, she calmed down and surrendered to staying a 3rd grader.

In my spirit, I felt the nudge of God...

I think that perhaps I have thrown the same fit as Meredith, more than once and louder.

"I didn't know this was going to be this HARD!"

Clearing His Holy throat, the Lord then directs my mind to James 1:2

and I feel His hug and continue reading His explanations further along in James that trials help me mature, and strengthen my faith and teach me how to persevere...all of which help me be complete. Mercy, Lord!!! I want all of that...

I guess I'll stick with hard.

It is a candid experience being a mom and child of God all at the same time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 3

Day 3 has come and gone now.
Everyone is having a wonderful time at school.

We have worn new outfits.
We have bought MORE supplies.
We have labeled and decorated 
and we have already done
some homework.  
We have ridden our bikes to school and 
we have come home hungry and tired and happy.
Most of all we have had FUN!!!!!

Marky is an 8th grader this year. She is beautiful
inside and out. 

 Maddie is starting middle school.  She is so happy to be going to school at the same as her big sister!  I'm so happy for her. She is so beautiful and creative and her individuality 
is what makes her eyes sparkle. 

 Meredith has grown so much over the summer, both in size
and character.
 Michael has grown even more!!! He is gaining confidence
and has SUCH a personality.
 Sometimes Michael forgets that Daddy is not a jungle-gym.

 This picture above  is so perfect.  Michael RUNNING across the street... he runs EVERYWHERE!
I did not know that boys did this. Maybe its not all boys and is just mine, but boy oh boy...
His favorite animal is a cheetah. He just checked out about 10 books about a cheetah.  Maybe there is a connection???
 We are blessed to be at the schools that we are at.  We are so grateful for our teachers and friends.

Meredith pondering all that she is going to learn in the 3rd grade.  
She is SO excited.  She was born for school.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Vacation 2012

Our family just returned from our summer vacation.  We took a trip and spent a week on the Oregon coast with Patrick's family.  The weather and scenery were spectacular, the food and drink most enjoyable, and the best thing of all was the fellowship among us (14 in all).  We all came from our little corner of the country to celebrate family, and it was good.  It wasn't perfection, but it was wonderful and I'm so glad that all of us went. 

Some of the highlights of our trip were:
*catching crabs out in the bay and then cooking them for supper
*climbing up a really high sand dune and the view that was at the top
*catching a starfish
*searching for starfish in the tide pools
*seeing the waterfalls
*Maddie surfing in a wet suit

*Daddy and Michael and Marky kayaking
*all of the kids sleeping in the loft
*eating delicious food that Aunt Bunny cooked and Uncle Michael caught

*looking at picture slides and laughing at our Uncles when they were babies
*lighting wish lanterns
*walks along the beach, looking for sand dollars

*sleeping in and staying up late
* rushing, rushing, rushing to the gate to catch our flight
*mommy almost not making it onto the flight

On our first day in Oregon, our rental car was broken into and my purse was stolen, along with our camera bag (the camera wasn't in it).  Everything "comforting" for vacation was in my bag...chapstick, kleenex, Advil, bandaids, etc.  Everything convenient. Things I planned to read and do, gone.  Not to mention the hassle of losing my drivers license, my credit cards, my library card, insurance cards. 

As we were dealing with the shock of what had happened, I could feel myself getting afraid.  Fear of mean people, fear of the unexpected, fear of what was going to happen next, fear that even at a beautiful waterfall we weren't protected.  I could also feel my kids watching my reaction and in order to keep THEM from being afraid, I had to switch gears.  I couldn't stop my tears, and decided that the kids didn't need protected from my disappointment, but what they did need was for me to point us in the direction of gratitude.  We started a search for things to be thankful for.  My daughter's ipad wasn't touched; the camera was around my neck and not in the camera bag; the theif didn't take any of our suitcases; I had taken my cell phone out of my purse at the last minute; my husbands computer and various other ipods were overlooked; the bag that was stolen wasn't mommy's favorite bag; most importantly of all, nobody was injured. The fear was still holding me by the throat, but not as fiercly as I watched gratitude lift our sad faces.  We switched gears and as a team, we all calmed down and moved into the action of phone calls and such, attempting to protect what we weren't even sure of.

I have had nearly a week to mull over the loss of my things and how it has affected me.  I know that there are many, many people who have much sadder, hurtful, awful things to deal with.  I also know that not having my new portable dvd player with my favorite movies to entertain me is CLEARLY as my friend Joy says, "a first world problem", but that didn't stop me from feeling disaapointed, feeling violated, feeling sad.  I sat on the beach one afternoon, praying through my feelings and trying to listen to what I was supposed to be learning from this incident.  I felt the Lord speak to my spirit about how tightly I hold onto things.  Earlier in the month, it was brought to my attention that I am extremely possessive. I'm not trying to be possessive in a negative way, I just love things and people way too deeply.  I hold on way too tightly.  I get way too affected over hurts and spend way too much time mulling over insensitive words.  I tend to have a death grip on relationships and don't give people the freedom to lose interest in "us".  I've been living with the idea that the bags that I pack and people that I know and circumstances that I'm involved with are forever.  Its time to change that.   Its time to loosen my grip and untie knots.  It's high time to pry my possessive hands off and open them up to recieve. I am praying for the wisdom and balance to love and then trust.  To not shut off desire in efforts to self-protect, but instead risk loving (less tightly) knowing that God has my heart and my life in His hands.   

We are now home from vacation and the reality of lost IDs and credit cards has steamrolled into a long to-do list.  One thing at a time - it will get done.  In the mean time, we will look at our pictures and our seashells and talk of the memories from our 2012 vacation for a very long time.