Tuesday, December 16, 2014


This is the first year that we have participated in Advent as a family. I was well into my pregnancy when Ann Voskamp announced her Advent devotional for families called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. As you are well aware, I'm sure, I deeply admire Ann's writing so I pre-ordered the book immediately. It arrived just a few days after I was home with Isaiah and I thought I was really crazy, but the book is so pretty so I determined we would still use it.

Ann describes her book best:

"Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is like your own larger-than-life Advent Calendar, opening up to 25 wondrous stories that tell the family tree of Jesus, from Creation to His Coming.

Because if we want our Christmas tree to really stand full of wonder & real meaning? The tree we need to understand & be astonished by —-  is the wonder of the family tree of Jesus! Because this is your family’s real family tree, your real story.

Each day’s story has its very own ornament, one for each day of Advent — all unwrapping a bit more of a story that’s far better than the greatest fairy tale you’ve ever read —- because this story is all true.  So come Christmas day — your kids, and your Christmas tree with all 25 ornaments, will be telling the full love story of  Jesus’ coming, right from the very beginning!"

On the day we were to start Advent (we started a couple days early before Dec. 1 because we will be traveling some) I was busy printing, matting, and stringing THREE sets of ornaments.

Every evening we have gathered for our reading and ornament coloring and hanging. This is real life right here...
The book is illustrated beautifully. All of the ornament pictures are on the front of the book and Aliza goes through them each night reciting the story.
The children color their ornament on the floor while  Mommy or Daddy reads the devotional. After each devotional there is a question to discuss and suggested activities for the day. We have not done either of those things this year. More real life--sometimes the children are a bit wound up and don't listen--or they are squabbling over colored pencils--or there is some other type of drama. We can grow into the questions and activities as the children mature.

Our tree is getting heavy with ornaments as we add 75 over the course of the month.
It does help that Josiah is placing all of his on one branch so that they stay in order.

Our tree is not beautiful in from a design standpoint, but it is beautiful to us because we see God's love for us every time we look at it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Isaiah's Dedication

We were privileged to be surrounded by family and close friends at church when we dedicated Isaiah to the Lord and ourselves as parents to training him to follow Christ. It's in those solemn moments when I realize again the huge responsibility I have as a parent to train and lead my children.

All of our children stood with us and for having no forewarning that they were going to need to stand still and quiet they did quite a good job.

Dad's sermon was out of Micah 6:6-8. What does the Lord require of us? To walk justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. It was challenging for Jeremy and I to remember our own commitment to faith and our relationship with God. It also reminded us of how we want to train Isaiah and all of our children to live.

It's special that our children get a double blessing--having a Grandad and a Grandpa that are pastors.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I look at this arrangement of pictures every day and realize that I have given birth to one shy of a basketball team, but on a moment by moment basis I don't feel like I have that many children. Well, Friday was my initiation into the public world with 4 children in tow.
Originally, my plan was to line up babysitters for these various activities, but complications arose and the easiest solution was to take my children with me. That's what I'm home for anyway, right?! The morning started with Isaiah's 2 month well check. Now, understand, that with my first child even well visits caused me to panic. The office visit couldn't have gone more smoothly except for the fact that my children were scared of the movie that was playing in the waiting room. That aside, we did not even sit down in the waiting room and the doctor came in within 3 minutes of us sitting down in the exam room. Anna decided she needed to use the bathroom so after the Dr left, we went to the bathroom and when we returned the nurse was waiting in the exam room with the vaccinations. (Isaiah weighed 11lbs 11oz, putting him at the 50th percentile.) Aliza asked intelligent questions and was even quiet when she needed to be. ;)

After leaving the Dr. office we took the long route to Hot Desks (because we were early) and waited a few minutes in the car for Jeremy arrive. We ate our packed lunches at Hot Desks (a cooperative working space where Jeremy works). There were a few people there working. The children sat quietly at a table and ate their lunches. Isaiah slept. There was no running around craziness.

After lunch Josiah stayed with Jeremy while Aliza, Anna, Isaiah and I went to see the Nutcracker Ballet. We sat in a section with other homeschooling families. This provided a measure of comfort because most homeschooling families have at least a couple kids and generally don't mind a baby and a preschooler beside them. Thankfully, this was true on Friday. Isaiah slept and only fussed for a couple minutes after intermission. Anna got up and down out of her *squeaky* seat a lot. For a decent amount of time I had Isaiah in one arm and Anna on the other leg. Aliza loved the ballet. It was great. I'd do it again.
After the ballet, we went back to Hot Desks and picked up Josiah. He was totally stoked to play on the Ipad for a couple hours with Daddy instead of going to the ballet. And then I took all 4 into Tutti Frutti for a snack. The parking lot was pretty full so we had to park, walk across the parking lot and down the sidewalk. I felt a little like I was herding cattle. By this time Isaiah was waking up and getting fussy. I took the car seat carrier in and set the crying Isaiah on a table so that I could oversee the amount of frozen yogurt going into the cups. (It would be nice if Tutti Frutti had reasonable size cups so that children could more easily take reasonable portions!!) Anyway, I survived and I'm pretty sure the college student cashier thought I was nuts...and the obviously *in love* college couple thought the baby was cute. I couldn't help but think back to those *in love* college days when a date for frozen yogurt did not include any thought of 4 littles. Other than having to verify with the college student cashier whether I had actually paid I thought I handled everything well. I didn't sit, but stood and bounced Isaiah (so that *in love* couple could actually enjoy their date) and the other 3 sat and ate their yogurt like young human beings. It was amazing!

When we got home I was tired, but incredibly pumped. I did it! Mama of four...6 hours in public...no embarrassing meltdowns (this time)...even some happy Nutcracker memories to stash away.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Isaiah::2 Months

Isaiah is smiling here and there and has wide awake times. He is sleeping good at night and I've had a few days when he has taken a long afternoon nap. Of course I think he's just the greatest!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Joy Dare::November

1872. From my window
1873. Wrapping Isaiah in a blanket handmade with love
1874. Aliza's design:
1875. Home together as a family
1876. Anna insisted on "folding" her own laundry
1877. Josiah's lunchtime prayer
1878. Tax return feels like a second chance
1879. Paid attention to my body and stayed on the couch longer this afternoon
1880. This sweet face napping on me
1881. 4 children--1 Mama--Bible study and dance--arrived home with 4 happy children and 1 very tired Mama
1882. A friend provided supper for us. The perfect night for it.
1883. Parenting advice heard: Love. Do everything in love.
1884. Usually a gift, sometimes a hard gift, but it's my mantra "Life is not about me."
1885. My Mom lives close enough that when I hit the proverbial brick wall I can plan an afternoon visit
1886. Just knowing that I am going to Mom's house this afternoon
1887. The sparkle in Josiah's eyes while he told me about his afternoon with Grandad
1888. How Aliza takes care of Isaiah in the car
1889. Long weekend nap
1890. A safe yard where the children can play alone
1891. Jeremy cooked supper
1892. At the expense of my post op body, I have floors that are swept and steam mopped
1893. My students are figuring out that they like having school finished by lunch
1894. Some wide awake baby moments today
1895. Learned that a new friend understands thyroid stuff from personal experience
1896. Laughing
1897. Doing some learning just for me
1898. Accepting myself, my emotions and body, just the way they are right now
1899. Sun in my eyes
1900. Taking full advantage of a warm afternoon
1901. The ladies I see on Wednesdays
1902. Cousins, Aunts and Grandma
1903. Chai Tea
1904. Doctors who talk to me, look at lab results and trust my instinct and experience
1905. Meghan got to be the cool Aunt who did cartwheels with my kids and the cool sister-in-law who straightened up my house tonight
1906. Leaving 4 children in the capable hands of my Dad
1907. Reminder to live in the now and now waiting for another season of life
1908. Remembering how to play inside now that it's colder
1909. Content to sleep in brother's arms and brother is content to hold him
1910. Heard Josiah singing in church
1911. Some new clothes
1912. Celebrating Grandad's 87 years
1913. Anna comforting her big sister and big sister feeling comforted by her
1914. Making supper for my brother's family
1915. Hurting for someone else
1916. Being able to give my Mom a hug
1917. A friend making sure I get out of the house
1918. Cold day crafts
1919. An "I'm overwhelmed" text to Jeremy and he skipped the meeting and came home
1920. My mother-in-law understanding my heart
1921. Each of the children's Bible study teachers
1922. A content baby
1923. Anticipating her birthday party
1924. Dad coming over to hold Isaiah so I could frost the birthday cake
1925. Talking to a friend on the phone while cleaning up the house
1926. A good first time traveler
1927. 3 brothers together for a few days
1928. Coffee and chatting with some of my favorite girls
1929. Isaiah definitely knows who I am. He looks for me when he hears my voice. He almost smiled today.
1930. Enjoying Anna's 4 year old joy and excitement
1931. My mother-in-law's Thanksgiving cooking
1932. Safely home--first trip with 4 a success
1933. Alternate heat source and a night of mild temperatures
1934. Watching Josh enjoy his nieces and nephews
1935. "Crafts"
1936. Drinking chai and holding my baby
1937. Two nights of Isaiah sleeping until 5am #itsatrendnow
1938. The big kids still want snuggles and cuddles
1939. I feel good! I feel like myself again!
1940. Cold rain that makes me happy to settle on the couch this afternoon
1941. Prompt fix to our leaky boiler
1942. Afternoon (kid) paper project: making pop up storybooks and paper flowers
1943. My Mom's Thanksgiving cooking
1944. Anna and Gideon played and played and played together
1945. Conversation, nap and just being family
1946. 10 years cancer free!
1947. No school, playing with cousins, sitting on my sister-in-laws couch--it was a lovely morning
1948. The evening of Black Friday was a great time for grocery shopping. The store was almost eerily quiet.
1949. Preparing for Advent
1950. Thanksgiving weekend at home
1951. Decorating
1952. Pretzel treats and Puppy Chow
1953. Jeremy did lots of baby holding and I took a nap
1954. Choosing contentment on one income

Friday, November 28, 2014

10 Years Ago

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the day, 10 years ago, that I had my radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid cancer. That day has spiraled through my thoughts quite frequently today. I made a scrapbook of that journey and I thought about opening it up, but then I didn't want to go back there. I made the scrapbook so that I could put the memories to rest while still having them if my children were ever curious. The anxiety of those days will stay at rest, but this milestone and my gratefulness for life and health are worth remembering.

A few of my scattered thoughts from today:

As of 10 years, the statistical likelihood of a recurrence decreases again.

Jeremy and I were young and only in our 3rd year of marriage. He walked right beside me the whole time even when my thyroid was so low that I couldn't feel anything and with tears I told him "I know I love you, but I just feel like stone on the inside."

I remain thankful for the  friends and family prayed for me and for my voice to be restored and who took the time to write emails and send cards. (No facebook or texts back in 2004!!)

My Mom came to see me right after I got home from taking the radioactive pill. I was then officially "radioactive" and "dangerous" and I was scared. She wasn't afraid of me. She gave me a hug. 

My thoughtful Grandma Rhoda sent a box of gifts for me to open--one each day that I was in isolation in our house.

Because of my own experience, I fervently prayed my sister through her own thyroid surgery (turned out not cancer) and was able to encourage a friend through her own days of radioactive isolation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Weekend Memories

Uncle Josh got to meet Isaiah! Isaiah even had a sleepy smile for Josh. Josh is going to have his first child soon and he is definitely ready to meet his little one! He'll be a great Dad.

It had been 2 years since the children saw Josh, but it didn't take long for them to warm up to him.
Saturday was Anna's "real" birthday so she got another party! We had our Thanksgiving meal complete with pumpkin pie, but Grandma still made a cake.
Anna received an Elsa dress up dress and plenty of bling to go with it. Anna is Aunt Brandi's girl in WV, but after Brandi helped her get dressed Anna came straight to me to show me her dress. That made me feel good!
Family picture after church. On Saturday we tried to get some nice family pictures. My girls did not cooperate well at all, but after church the next day they did great. Go figure!
Me and my boys!! I'm such a lucky Mama!
Isaiah was a great traveler. He ate when we stopped for our meal and cried very little in the car. We stopped at Panera in Easton both ways. This was our first time just as our family of 6 in a restaurant. The first realization was that we have to choose the big tables now. Second realization was that the big tables are placed in conspicuous locations in the restaurant. On the way home we had to sit literally in the middle of the dining area--so that every one eating could see us. Thankfully I was not embarrassed by anyone's behavior.

We arrived home to a 50 degree house.Brrr. We used our alternate heat source and thankfully it was a warm night so 24 hours without heat or hot water was not too bad.