Sunday, 11 December 2011

Don't Close Your Eyes

  
Isaiah, our 14 year old, had an E.E.G. scheduled for 8:00a.m. yesterday morning and when I pulled out the instructions Thursday night I noticed he was only to have 3 hours sleep that night.  I was a little worried about how he would stay awake because I was sure I wouldn't be helping him out with that!  Luckily he has a bunch of brothers and sisters who were more than willing to pull an all night-er with him - watching movies and playing board games.  By all reports and by gauging their moods (which were NOT good)  - I would guess that the whole gang made it till the early morning hours. 
  His E.E.G. went well.  The technician remarked how well he slept for the test.  Results to follow.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Welcoming Jesus to Our House

  
This month our family is celebrating Advent.  Each Sunday evening we sit together and read verses that help us prepare our hearts to welcome - not just the new born baby of the manger - but more importantly the living Lord of today.  It's a sweet time apart from the busyness of the season.
  I believe that real advent candles are supposed to be white and purple and beautiful.  Making due with what we have on hand, our four candles are actually 3 snowmen and a Christmas bear.  
It works.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Make Mine Cookies and Cream

  
  We had a goal this school year of having everyone memorize all the books of the Bible.  (We tried last year but went brain stupid somewhere around Joel and Amos.)  So I decided to up- the- ante with a promise of Chick- Fil -A milkshakes when everyone had all the books down perfectly.
  Between the lust for the highly desired and rarely purchased milkshakes and the shame of having Samuel, the baby of the family, memorizing the books effortlessly and reciting them just a hair slower than the speed of light, the competition became fierce.
  And today the last two boys were able to nail the list perfectly and off we headed to Chick-Fil-A where they enjoyed the rewards of their work.  
  And yes, I memorized the books along with the kids but refrained from ordering a milkshake because I like the size jeans I'm wearing.  


  

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Leah Rose!

One of the best thing about having 18 kids is the grandkids that follow along and today I had the joy of welcoming Leah Rose into the family.  She's perfect and adorable.
  Oh Leah - the things we're going to do together!  I love you.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Your Grandma Loves You!


This weekend was sleep-overs for the grandkids at our house.

Our house was blessed (and noisy) indeed.



  

Monday, 3 October 2011

Fireside Spelling

 Just when I was getting tired of folding the same 100 pair of shorts that my kids have been wearing since May, our season skip hopped right over to winter.  The calendar says Fall  - my frozen leg hairs say Winter.
  So you can guess how completely lovely it was to find that James had a cozy fire going in the living room today.  We gathered up all our books and plunked down on the floor for the rest of the school day.  
  Goodbye shorts - I'm done with you.

Friday, 23 September 2011

It's a Tea Party!



  This school year we have taken a year off from making history our main focus and instead, it's all about geography.  We're traveling the world, visiting 65 countries using Winter's Promise - Children Around the World curriculum.  Not only are we learning the culture, but  we talk about the needs of the kids in each place we visit and how we can be praying for them.  Read aloud missionary stories are inspiring us all.
  We just finished our visit to the British Isles and celebrated with a "tea time" complete with homemade scones.  
  Off to Ireland next!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Maybe I Kind of Like You



  This picture is unbelievable.  The two brothers wearing these self selected matching new shoes have NEVER been buddies.  As a matter of fact their previous relationship could be characterized as simmering hostility.    
  So no one was more shocked than I was when they went arm in arm through the shoe store and picked their new matching shoes together.  The kind of thing you would do with your best buddy.
  And to what do I attribute this new liaison?  I can only guess that this being their first year homeschooling together has worked some magic.  They are together all day - learning together, playing together and just maybe becoming friends.
  
  

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Summer Rides

  The last few weeks of summer are slowly ebbing away and I'm enjoying each precious minute.  The skateboards, scooters and bikes are still getting a workout and Lauren caught a few rides down the driveway with Ezra.  Layla learned to ride the scooter and I just sat on the porch loving the day.  








Stay a little longer summer.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Shhhhhhhhh....She's Sleeping

  Little Madisyn is settling in here beautifully.  There is nothing as calming (in the middle of a house full of people and noise and chaos) as holding a sweet newborn baby.  I have fallen completely in love with Maddy and often spend time ignoring everyone around me to stare into her little face.
  Her mother, on the other hand, is often tired from the expected night time feedings (that I happily miss) and was glad to set up this swing that rocks Madisyn off to sleep.  Maddy loves the motion and her Uncle Ezra has become an expert at inserting the binky and restarting the swing.
  
 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Another Generation

  This weekend we celebrated at church with Kelly and Eugene as they dedicated their daughter Isabella.






  It is an incredible privilege to stand with your grown children and agree to help them bring your grandchild up to know and love the Lord.  




Isabella had her part in the whole affair, which was to look adorable and she did it exactly right.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Dodging Disaster Week



  Last week we had an earthquake that shook the house and had everyone running around screaming.  It was exciting and we talked about and studied earthquakes for days.  Nothing was damaged including the cups on my open shelves that often fall off and break when you tiptoe through the kitchen
  And just a few days later hurricane Irene came through.  We put all the pool stuff away and hunkered down ready for the high winds and rain.  We had a day of drizzle.
  Again no damage.  Here is Jeremiah with his Bob the Builder umbrella that looks like the winds tore it to shreds.  No.  Jeremiah rode his bike up and down the street during the hurricane (along with all the other kids) and had his umbrella open behind him until it turned inside out.
  It's all been a little of a let down and the umbrella went into the trash shortly after this picture was taken.  
  

Always Our Little Girl

AnnaClaire turned 19 this week and didn't like the feeling of being so solidly an adult.  She's doing all the adult things - bought her own car, has a good job, going to college full time- but it's that growing up thing that scares her.
  So, she ordered a "princess birthday" complete with crown and scepter and watched the movie Tangled with her brothers and sisters for the evening.
  Who says kids are growing up too fast these days?  Not around here!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Wishing Doesn't Make It Better

School has started here - both the public school and at our homeschool.  This year I have 5 kids home with me and I'm excited as you can only be at the beginning of the year when  the kids haven't annoyed you even a little yet.


And I have one in public school and it feels sad.  Sad that it's the best place for him and for the rest of us.  Sad for the relief and peace that comes over the house as he waves good-bye from the bus window.


It must feel bad to him and yet he knows that we couldn't have a school day that included his rages and anger.  He understands because he has some peace from us as well.


It's a sad thing.  

Thursday, 25 August 2011

You Just Have to Be Pink to be Cute

  After a long labor and an extended stay in the hospital, Miss Madisyn finally made her appearance here at home.  She has basically slept every second since coming home,  except after we all go to bed when her mom, Molly, reports that she hardly sleeps at all.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that she is held constantly. 
  All the cousins,  aunts and uncles and grandparents are completely captivated by her and she reigns supreme around here. 
 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Eagerly Awaiting Grandchild #14. Maybe a little impatiently

  At the hospital today with pregnant daughter #2 waiting for the second of three granddaughters due this year.
  I could be wrong but Molly looks way too happy on her bouncy ball to have this baby any time soon.
  Let's have a little pain here.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Homeschool Yearbook

  Our local homeschool support group is amazing.  You couldn't possibly attend all the activities planned and still find time to homeschool the kids.  One of the best things our group does is to produce a incredibly high quality yearbook at a reasonable price. The seniors get a three page spread for pictures and letters to them from the parents.  All other grades get a full page, also in color.  And I was smart enough to marry a man whose last name started with an "A", so my girls were first in the book this year!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sending Off a Little at a Time

  We have had the completely chaotic joy of having my daughter, husband and five kids living right next door in our missionary house for the last year and a half.  The path between our homes is as worn as an old Indian trail.
  But now God has called them away again - not to Africa, France or Israel, but just down the way to Florida.  
  I won't have them running in and out the door hundreds of times a day.  No early morning walks with Kirsten and no Pete the dog digging holes in the yard.
  We've been saying our good-byes in little pieces over the last few weeks.  The kids wanted their  picture taken with their favorite niece or nephew for a frame and love notes have been written and exchanged.
"Sistas" at church
"camping out" in the basement
  Saturday night Kirsten hosted  a "sista sleep-over" and invited all 10 sisters. They did facials and watched movies and talked about babies and good-byes.  Monday night Kirsten and I had a camp-out with all 13 kids in the basement ( it was raining and we weren't about to sleep in tents outside) and we watched movies and ate ice-cream and never mentioned good-byes.
  Last night they packed their van and drove off into the night.  The house is quiet and the grass will begin to grow back on the path.  And I have loved every minute of our time together.
  Good-bye McKenzies!  I love you!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

How to Do Old Right

That's my mom there on the far right in the brown plaid shirt  with some the neighborhood kids.
  
  My mom's not normal.  She's 88 years old and should be resting comfortably in her chair watching the Price is Right and taking little naps.  Normal would mean she should be forgetting what she just talked about and repeating it every time you saw her. And she really should need some help getting things done around her house.
  But no - not even a little.  She not only knows what's going on - she makes goings on happen. Twice a week she volunteers at Meals on Wheels (because she likes to help the old people who can't still cook) and at the local hospital (because she gets bored staying home all the time)  She still teaches pre-school Sunday School at church, complete with crafts and glue and potty breaks.  
  And every summer, much to the neighborhood kids delight, she holds a Backyard Bible Club.  The kids run up each afternoon at 1:00 for Bible stories and cookies and games.  
  No, she' not normal and I'm so glad.  (remind me to tell you about my Dad who keeps my wild mom going!)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Slipping Away


 As our local grocery store is featuring Candy Corn and Reese Cups with pumpkin - I'm not making this up -there really was a halloween display - we've been scheduling the last few events of summer.  We still have a camping trip planned and the kids are finishing up the last of their five Vacation Bible Schools.  (And I have zero guilt over sending all my kids to the local churches for VBS.  They love it - I love it and it has to be better for them then wrestling each other.)
  So, it's one more hamburger and nobody does it cuter than my granddaughter Lauren.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

I Need Structure!


 I've noticed lately that my many kids have turned into an unruly mob.  It's too hot to ride bikes and even the pool is losing it's appeal.  And they're grumpy.  Really grumpy - which makes me want to trade in my fly swatter for a kid swatter.
  Today the boys were so bored that they broke out the dress up trunk and paraded around in some lovely authentic chinese finery.  
  Okay - I'm saying it. I'm ready to start homeschool back up.


Gasp.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Don't Tell the Kids

  
Between my kids and the grandkids, our pool is not a safe place to swim.  Any adult foolish enough to enter the water is jumped on, splashed, hung on and generally harassed.  Which is why I spend most days sitting in a chair poolside, reading a book and pretending I'm watching every "look Mom".
  But there's a time, very early in the morning - 6:30 - that Kirsten and I have it all to ourselves.  We walk a mile and then toss the shoes and slip into the beautiful, peaceful, un-kid-inhabited pool.  The sun is just peaking through he trees and we swim our laps and talk and it's the best part of my day.
  

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Edge of the Nest



  My two babies are stepping out....into adulthood.  Grace and AnnaClaire are now grown up and the next part of their life is just ahead around the corner.  Anna is headed to college and Grace into the working world.  
I've run out of time.  
They know what we believe and this is when we watch them take everything we've taught and modeled and make it their own.  
It's exciting and it surprises me that we're here.  Didn't we just see Grace for the first time in that crib at Children's Hospital?  Wasn't it just yesterday that Anna walked through our door a scared little girl?  
  These two daughters have brought me so much joy - they are part of my everything.  I'm releasing them with just a little reluctance.
  And they've nailed the look for their 80's party haven't they?!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

How Do You Do This Right?


  One of the most difficult parts of open adoptions, which most of ours are, is helping the kids walk through the land minds of emotions that visits often can be.  Having a good  partnership/relationship with the biological family is the healthiest for the kids, but not always easy  to achieve.  Most of the families request very little or no involvement regardless of our open policy, which makes the visits that do occur carry great weight.  Although our kids are extremely excited to have mom come for a visit, the emotions of the past and the pull of two ,often very different lifestyles, can be confusing and hard.  Some of our kids were too young to remember much about their "first family" but others carry a weight as heavy as themselves.  And even for myself the visits can be tough.  When the kids come to be mine, they are MINE.  I have to share them with another mom who loves them too.  Nothing easy about all this.
  And yesterday we had one of those visits.  Despite the awkward start and the roller coaster of emotions on everyone's part, it was a wonderful day.  And if you look real close in this picture you can see some hearts healing.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Babies Again!


  This year is a grandmother's jackpot.  I have three daughters who are each having a daughter.  Pink is the go to color around here.  A few days ago we had a baby shower for Molly and cuteness was everywhere.  So if you have enough sons for a basketball team - what do you get with so many girls? (Besides the joy!)

Monday, 18 July 2011

Bordom Buster or What to do When You're Weird

    Some summer days get long and even swimming in the pool gets a little boring.  What's there to do for fun?  I caught Silas and Samuel checking for arm pit hair.  Awkward.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Pool Side Baby


  Out by the pool there's always a bunch of splashing and jumping and loudness.  But when Isabella comes to visit she just cuddles quietly in my arms so I can adore her.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Packed and Out of Here



 Yesterday began summer camp for our oldest five and after a day of them being going I realize the impact.

*It is so so so much quieter here!.
*They eat a lot of food. 
*I'm actually asleep before midnight with them away.
*It stinks doing all the house work yourself.
*They make up a large majority of my hugs and kisses each day.

 I admit it - I miss them already but praying that they each come home refreshed, having heard from the Lord.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

She's Here!


  One of my favorite kids ever has come to stay with us for the week.  (I only had to beg her mom a little.)  She walked into the house and started telling me all the things she remembered from when she lived with us and was silly- happy to find some of her art work still on the walls.  Gabby is smart and beautiful and her family is one of the few success stories in our foster care journey.  Her mom not only redeemed a tough situation that she found herself in, but has been gracious enough to allow us to continue to be in her kids' lives.   Don't you love a happy ending?!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

No One's Sleeping Tonight

  
  My daughter lives right (I mean our yards touch and there's a path worn between) next door.  Her five kids and my kids, who are the same ages and best friends (yes that would be their aunts and uncles) want to have sleepovers every single night.  Kirsten and I have valiantly tried to put some sanity into the requests with "one a week" or "not if you act crabby" rules, but it all seems to get out of control.  And because they're soon moving to Florida it gets harder and harder to say no.  Kirsten's kids most often want to sleep here as she feeds them healthy (boring/disgusting) cereal and I buy cereal according to their color.  Fruity Pebbles pleases everyone and Lucky Charms is off the charts pretty.  
  And of course, no one sleeps until the next day when they quietly slip away for a short nap.  
I'm going to miss all this.
  

Sunday, 3 July 2011

This is What we Believe


 We stood at the river bank last night as my daughter and her husband baptized all five of their kids.  One by one, each of them told what they knew about Jesus and how they wanted to follow after Him.
  Four generations of our family were there to celebrate, each having carefully taught their children about our amazing God.

 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
   and his righteousness with their children’s children— 

                                                                                Psalm 103:17

Friday, 1 July 2011

Baby Love


 Isabella, our newest granddaughter, invited some of the men in her life over yesterday. Her four  uncles and her Poppa decided that she was the most adorable baby ever.
Her Aunt Grace and I already knew she was.  We held and kissed her and told her how much she was loved.
Sweetness!



Thursday, 30 June 2011

When Your Brother is a Playground


 Parenting a large family for a long time makes the parents old - sort of like antiques - valuable but fragile.  And that's where older brothers come in handy.  When the boys get together with David its full out wild.  And David is up for the task, picking them up and throwing them down till the little boys want to cry, but of course never would, because that's how you get tough in boy world.  Meanwhile, the girls and I sit and enjoy the spectacle wondering if the grass stains will ever come out of their knees and shirts. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sent with Love



 Corinne chose the way she wanted to spend her last evening in America.  She wanted chicken soup for dinner followed by a family walk around the neighborhood.  We finished the night with a drive to the Cone Zone and Corinne treated everyone to ice-cream. One by one as the kids went to bed they came to her and hugged and said their final good-byes and this morning while we slept, James drove her to the airport for her flight back to China.  
  Last night we sat on her bed together talking and she said that she felt so different than the person who had arrived here a year ago.  She talked about how her life had been driven by a single goal - to excel in academics.  This year has opened her mind and heart to so much more.  She learned how to spend time playing and being silly.  She has put up with a huge family from anyone's perspective, let alone a citizen of a "one child policy" nation and that's been good.  Corinne had the opportunity to travel and see so much of our country and most importantly she had the chance to meet God.  It was no surprise to me that He had prepared her heart to be so open and her last prayer was that she would be able to be closer to God and tell China about Him.
  There is a little piece of our family making it's way, right now, across the skies back to her world and we will miss Corinne.  
  If you get the opportunity, consider sponsoring an exchange student.  Start your own missionary training school around your kitchen table!
  We love you Corinne.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

"There's this boy...in my class......"


  Sometimes the best conversations happen over breakfast.  While my granddaughter Scarlett was enjoying her Fruit Loops this morning she told me about her best friend Benjamin at school and Julia at church.  She also talked about the mean boy at school who called her a cry baby at recess. We agreed that it's hard when people call you names and how much we like our friends that make us laugh.  Coffee and Scarlett were the perfect start to my day.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

     During the school year the kids have activities 3 or 4 nights of the week - sports practice, church groups and lessons.  Dinner is often a "throw your food down your throat and out the door" affair. Not fun.
  But things wind down here in the summer.  I'm lucky to get dinner on the table by 7pm and we cancel all outside of our home activities.  And way past bedtime the kids love to have a night swim.  Somehow the pool becomes magic in  the moonlight.  And when they finally tumble into bed, the sleep is sweet and long and summer seems to last forever.
(when Isaiah saw this picture he remarked  "See, I do walk on water!")

Monday, 20 June 2011

Mommy Will Be Back Later



  Our local historical society is presenting a three day workshop on the role our county played in the civil war- including walking tours of battlefields, museums visits and lectures by experts on the subject.  We live in the Lower Shenandoah Valley of what was then Virginia and not only is this area beautiful but was a major border between the North and the South.  
  And I get to attend.  Just me, without kids, sitting and listening and learning.  It was nice to find that my brain hadn't completely died here under the pile of children.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sweet Berries

  In our neighborhood, this is how many hand picked raspberries  you can get for $3.




  The price is determined by how many boys it takes to ride up and down the road on their bikes looking for wild raspberry bushes.  Each boy wants a buck and I want the raspberries.  It's a very agreeable business transaction for all.  The boys unfortunately get very purple stained hands and knees, but a good long swim in the pool after finding them, takes care of that.
  And I hide them in the back of the fridge until early in the morning, when I  swirl their sweetness into my yogurt, while my little berry pickers sleep.