Wednesday, February 28, 2024


                                Happy 16th Birthday Josiah!


Saturday, February 17, 2024

Savoring Moments and An Embarrassing Story


 I'm catching myself savoring these moments when all 4 children are together. I'm so aware that this season of life is quickly changing and I'm having all the feelings about it.

Instead of thinking too much about growing up children, we can laugh instead. During ESL last week I had such an embarrassing moment. We were playing the "flyswatter game" to review colors. I had colored pieces of construction paper taped to the whiteboard. The students were in two lines. I call out a color and the first students in line would race to the board to "swat" the correct color. The students were enjoying it and all was going well until I took a step back and slipped on a laminated poster that had fallen on the ground. The leg went completely out from under me and I ended up on the ground. Before I could even figure out what had happened, a student was helping me up. All I could do was laugh. How does that even happen to a person!? Most of the class couldn't see what happened because they were standing up in lines. Still embarrassing and a good story and a good reason to laugh at myself. 

There are no dull moments around here!

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Joy Dare::January

 10,849. Planning and filling in a new calendar
10,850. Jeremy made supper
10,851. Looking at pictures
10,852. School went well for the first day after break
10,853. Evenings at home this week
10,854. Watching some old home DVDs with Aliza
10,855. A book that is way too engaging
10,856. New mug for morning tea
10,857. Getting to know Anna's guitar teaching a little bit
10,858. Everyone's favorite supper
10,859. Conversations with Aliza about the future
10,860. Grandad teaching Bible class
10,861. Having Mom to myself for a bit
10,862. Welcoming company and still getting recycling taken care of
10,863. Quietly putting away the Christmas tree
10,864. Rainy Saturday that was good for reading
10,865. Catching up with church friends
10,866. Celebrating Dad
10,867. Peppermint tea this evening
10,868. Mature decisions being made
10,869. Listening
10,870. Little birds in the yard eating away
10,871. My winter counter tray

10,872. Cozy at home during the storm
10,873. Praying for Jeremy
10,874. Josiah doing well in Geometry
10,875. Anna excited about the things she's involved in
10,876. Six students today (you can't see them well in the picture!)
10,877. Welcoming so many ESL students
10,878. Job well done exhaustion
10,879. Our teenagers excited for a youth group weekend
10,880. Isaiah getting to be the big kid
10,881. Our home
10,882. Spending time with Isaiah
10,883. Playing with a sweet little girls at church
10,884. All of the stories from winter retreat
10,885. Visiting in Elizabeth's house
10,886. Josiah had a lot to say
10,887. Anna had a good guitar lesson
10,888. Watching snow fall is so peaceful
10,889. A little bit of snow gave us all an evening at home
10,890. Hot water
10,891. Making a special supper before I'm gone for a few days
10,892. Hugs and good byes
10,893. A Mom and Josiah adventure
10,894. Getting to be with Josiah on his first flight
10,895. Laughing over a game
10,896. A morning walk to breakfast
10,897. The warehouse wasn't too cold
10,898. Josiah really enjoyed supper
10,899. Lunch with Josiah
10,900. Beignets
10,901. Thankful for our rural living
10,902. Navigated through the city without getting lost
10,903. Just me and Josiah
10,904. No one else got sick
10,905. Smooth flights
10,906. Happy to be home
10,907. Having Jeremy beside me again
10,908. Jumping back into routine
10,909. 9 year old logic--shorts and t-shirt to play in the ice
10,910. Making a plan
10,911. Keeping my cool
10,912. Catching up with my Mom
10,913. The ability to multi task
10,914. Doing Reading on the porch with Isaiah
10,915. Being seen by a friend
10,916. I made Anna's day by making ziti for supper
10,917. Fresh air for the afternoon
10,918. An enthusiastic class of ESL students
10,919. A smooth day of school
10,920. Enjoying a 70 degree day in January
10,921. Finding some daffodils peeking up
10,922. Overheard: "If you weren't my cousin, my life would be 'uncomplete' " -Isaiah
10,923. Safety on a day with lots of driving
10,924. Celebrating Ronan
10,925. Our children had the best attitudes
10,926. Sunday afternoon--much needed
10,927. End of season football
10,928. Being the safe place for my girls
10,929. Early grocery pick up
10,930. When Janell tells me I'm actually normal
10,931. Lunch conversations
10,932. Mom had lunch with us
10,933. Anna practicing tap
10,934. A new Bible--with a really pretty cover
10,935. Hearing all the India stories again
10,936. Nighttime laughing with Josiah
10,937. Just Isaiah and I in the car talking

Friday, February 2, 2024

Winter ONE-derland

  Last weekend we got to celebrate our nephew's first birthday! It's been fun to watch Ronan grow this year and it's hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we met him. 

With it being Ronan's first birthday, I guess it was appropriate for us to have a couple firsts on this trip. This was our first family day trip to West Virginia. It was also the first time the bridge was closed making us go up and around the Chesapeake Bay. There was a horrible accident on the bridge that morning, closing the bridge for 8 hours. Adding an hour to our trip wouldn't usually be the end of the world, but on a day trip, that hour felt very long. 

We made it--a little late--and walked in to a wonderful winter ONE-derland.

Ronan has the family selfie smile perfected.
The party was in a church activity building complete with a pool table, air hockey, foosball, and couches. Our children thought they would be sitting, instead they got to move around and have a lot of fun.

Ronan wasn't feeling very good.

But he perked up enough to enjoy some cake...

And open his gifts.

Ronan has now received THREE of these dump trucks. His Grandma Karen and I both gave him one for Christmas and he got another one for his birthday. What are the chances? He does enjoy playing with that little truck. He was ready to open it up and play with it right away.
And then we drove back home. I'm so glad we were able to be there. As much as my heart feels it that my children are all growing up, it is so nice to be able to make a 5 hour drive to stay for 2 hours to drive 3hrs 45 min home again with young people who are pleasant to be around the whole time.


It was a family day that we will remember with fond memories and a "that was a little crazy but I'm sure glad we did it."

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Mom/Son Adventure

 Last week Josiah and I had a few days together in New Orleans. It was Josiah's first time flying. He wasn't sure about flying going in to it, but soon after take off, he said he was a fan of flying.

Our main purpose to going to New Orleans was to help my uncle and aunt inventory the yearly shipment of school supplies to Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. Jeremy and I did this a few years ago and I wrote about the process in this blog post: We labeled over 500 boxes again. Josiah was a great worker. He stuck with it and never complained.
That night we took a streetcar to a Mediterranean restaurant called The Green Olive. We were the only ones there and the food was excellent. Josiah was a huge fan. He's still talking about that beef shishkabob and pita bread.
The second morning my aunt was sick. Thankfully we had some extra help the first morning and we had made good progress. Josiah and I finished what we could help with by noon and took a bus back to our air bnb. I almost got us on the wrong bus, but I didn't. Josiah's confidence in me was a bit hesitant. We made it back with no problems and found a place to eat lunch. We were going to go to another Mediterranean place, but it looked for formal for my comfort and so we ended up at T -Swirl Crepes. We got chicken teriyaki crepes. Josiah said they were "mid." I really liked it and was completely sold with the presentation. It was pretty tricky to eat though.

Later we took the bus into town with Dan. We talked to Jackson Square and a block or two behind it. In front of the cathedral and behind the cathedral are two different worlds. We watched a street band that fit a lot of stereotypes quite well and pointed out the iconic French Quarter architecture to Josiah...

...and then headed back to Cafe du Monde for pre-supper beignets. There is more powered sugar on those plates than beignets! Someone on the internet asked a worker how much powered sugar is used in a day. This was the answer: "The worker said they replace the powdered sugar machine each hour with 50 lbs of sugar." So 50 lbs x 24 hours = 1200 lbs of powered sugar a day. A good amount of that sugar ends up on the floor or on you!
Saturday morning Dan woke up with a different kind of sick than Laurie had and Laurie was still recovering so Josiah and I embarked on our own few hours of sightseeing.

Waiting at our first bus stop I was like, "Josiah, I'm so glad you are taller than me." And he was like, "You know there is no way I can protect you." I'm good with a false sense of security. lol

We went back to Jackson Square and went inside the cathedral. It is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, originally built in 1727. 

What stood out to me was the contrast of the quiet, incense smelling, people walking around respectfully that was inside the cathedral to the loud, fortune telling, every kind of craziness that was happening right outside the cathedral.

We walked over to the Mississippi River which meant passing Cafe du Monde again. I may have been tempted to stop, but the line was really long.

It was a beautiful day. It was also a cold day. We walked along the river and went to the audobon aquarium. Josiah had never been to an aquarium. He likes fish and stuff. Of all the possibilities I gave him, it was the one that elicited a bit of a reaction. (He told me that whatever we did, he would think was cool. I really wanted to do things that he would honestly enjoy.) It was nice and warm and we did see some neat things. And when we had to walk through the gift shop to exit and Josiah asked me if I was looking for a Christmas ornament--you bet I found an ornament!

We rode the ferry across the Mississippi River to Algiers Point. It's the second oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and very quiet compared to the city streets. We walked around looking at the houses with intricate trim and architecture.
It was fun to look over the river to the skyline of New Orleans.
After that we had had enough of city life! We got back to the bus stop and back to our little apartment lodging. That night we were going to go farther for dinner, but Josiah wasn't sure how his stomach felt. That was all it took for us to decide to stay close to "home" and we ate at the crepe place again. I had a philly cheese steak crepe that time that I liked. 

We saw the city lights and the sunrise as we took off from New Orleans Sunday morning.

It was another bright, clear day. Coming in to Baltimore we could see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

It was a good trip! The kids do a "question of the day" at lunch each day. Some are made up and some come from conversation cards. This week one of the questions was "What memory would you want to relive?" Josiah's answer was "I know it wasn't very long ago. But I would relive New Orleans." My Mama heart smiled.

Monday, January 15, 2024

He's Actually a Polar Bear

 In the last week or so we've had a couple winter storms that have brought rain and wind. Isaiah and Josiah go out to the ditch on the edge of our property to see how high the water is and how fast it is moving. When the water got to it's highest and the sun came out for a bit, Isaiah decided it was time to take the plunge. I have no understanding of this concept or how he can find even a bit of enjoyment out of freezing water. He can and he did! 

Last week we had a day that was a throwback to the days of virtual school during COVID. Crisfield flooded so Renee and Lydia didn't have school, but Jeff and Janell had to go in to work. I had 6 students for the day! Everyone being almost three years older and a house that is twice the size of what we had in 2020 made for an enjoyable day! Isaiah is the one that doesn't really remember those days of 2020 and he had a little trouble settling down and getting his work done. And there was still a moment when I had 3 people who needed help with math at the same time that I felt the familiar tension inside me. These will be the days I look back on and remember with a happy heart!

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Joy Dare::December

 10,757. Josiah getting Geometry
10,758. The Nutcracker
10,759. The feeling of finishing school on Friday
10,760. Family afternoon in OC
10,761. Temperatures that made OC nice in December
10,762. Puppy chow
10,763. Sunday School discussion
10,764. Christmas carols
10,765. Holiday baking shows
10,766. Isaiah's distraction dance makes me laugh every single time
10,767. Dangerous Jesus by KB Burgess
10,768. A quick orthodontist appointment
10,769. Josiah has his driver's permit!
10,770. Wrapping presents
10,771. Hot chocolate
10,772. Choir singing
10,773. House cleaning
10,774. China mission night
10,775 Isaiah insisting I come outside to see a beautiful sunset

10,776. Singing carols
10,777. Spontaneous shopping with a friend
10,778. Good school day
10,779. Christmas tea
10,780. Daughters having sister time
10,781. Fishing stories
10,782. First batch of Christmas cookies
10,783. Josiah doing sound at church with confidence
10,784. Finished puzzle (minus one piece that remains missing)
10,785. Wrapped presents under the tree
10,786. Josiah driving for the first time
10,787. A good talk with Mom
10,788. Monday evening with Janell
10,789. Isaiah excited about frost this morning
10,790. Anna did well on math
10,791. Gingerbread chai
10,792. Marco Polo to keep in touch with far away friends
10,793. Studying Exodus
10,794. Hair cut
10,795. Finishing up the Christmas shopping
10,796. Amazing Race finale
10,797. Anna wanted to sit beside me while we each read our books
10,798. More cookies and addressing Christmas cards
10,799, Jeremy could do the evening pick up
10,800. A winter Pokemon afternoon
10,801. Aliza's Christmas concert
10,802. Soup, friends and Christmas carols
10,803. The first plate of Christmas cookies
10,804. A youth pastor who went the extra mile to watch out for Aliza driving in questionable weather
10,805. Tree Farm candle
10,806. 4 big kids outside in the rain and puddles
10,807. Aliza snuggled in with Aunt Janell
10,808. Breakfast for supper per Isaiah's request
10,809. New ramon bowls and spoons
10,810. Driving time with Josiah
10,811. Listening to the kids having the best time together
10,812. The little girls we take care of
10,813. Trying new instruments with Anna


10,814. First semester finished
10,815. A day with my mom and my girls
10,816. Cheesecake Factory duly impressed Aliza and Anna
10,817. The Miracle of Christmas at Sight and Sound
10,818. Singing in the car
10,819. Decorating cookies
10,820. Listening to the children banter back and forth
10,821 Chrissy.
10,822. Christmas with the Sheats family
10,823, Peeling shrimp beside Dad
10,824, Playing so hard they are completely worn out
10,825, Candlelight Christmas Eve service
10,826. Fancy hot chocolate
10,827. Watching Christmas with The Chosen
10,828, Christmas morning
10,829, Jeremy made the perfect cinnamon rolls
10,830, Enjoying a day to be together at home
10,831. Grocery shopping with Anna
10,832, Taking a vacation day
10,833. A new Charles Martin book
10,834. Tea and reading
10,835. Watching Sound of Music with the girls
10,836. Listening to brothers play together
10,837. Lunch with all of my siblings
10,838. A productive conversation
10,839. Visiting Matt and Chrissy
10,840. Our West Virginia Christmas
10,841. A quick project with Anna
10,842. Family slumber parties at Grandma and Grandpa's house
10,843. Filling Grandma's raised beds with dirt
10,844. Isaiah eating prime rib and liking it
10,845. Late nights and late mornings
10,846.Jeremy drove the whole trip home
10,847. Friends over for New Year's Eve
10,848. Lessons I've learned this year--both hard and joyful