Too freakin' cute!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007 11 Comments A+ a-

I have got to record this moment for posterity's sake!

Devyn: "I want a movie." [A look from her mother.] "Please?"
Me: "What do you want to watch?"
Devyn: "The Grinch, The Grinch."
Me: [Cringing inside, we've watched that movie at least once a day since December 1st.] "How about Beauty and the Beast?"
Devyn: "No, the Beast scares me."
Me: "How about Snow White?"
Devyn: "No, that movie scares me too."
Me: [Scratching my chin.] "Hmmmmm..."
Devyn: "Think, think, think." [Pause] How about the Grinch?"

How could I possibly say no to cuteness like that?!

PS Yes, my daughter said all those words; we have seen HUGE improvements in her speech this past month. Praise the Lord!

And it starts...

Saturday, December 29, 2007 6 Comments A+ a-

The chaos and fun that is a "insert-maiden-name-here" -wedding has begun. We have visited two reception sites, called numerous other sites, visited a tuxedo shop (we will have to actually buy a tux for Hudson, they don't rent them that small), and completed our first day of wedding gown shopping.

Courtney is in love with Christmas, absolutely loves it. It is THE magical time of year for her; there is very little that can dampen her spirits during Christmas. Mom announced she was pregnant with Courtney at Christmas (a beautiful story for another time) and Courtney has always known that she'd marry at Christmas. So, less than a year from now, around December 20th or so, Courtney and Jeremy will be standing before guests to say their "I dos". Courtney has always known her colors would be cranberry and gold; I must say they are a beautiful combination together.

We spent the day in a local bridal shop and Courtney thinks she may have found the dress already, much to her surprise and delight. Today we were just going to look; it took Christine and I numerous trips to numerous salons before finding "the" dress and Courtney was expecting the same for herself. But Courtney tried this gorgeous dress on and refused to take it off; she even made Jon stop by the bridal shop to get his opinion too. (Jon has been in Courtney's life since she was 10 years old; he really is more of a brother than a brother-in-law.) It is completely unlike anything I expected Courtney to choose but she is breathtaking in it.

Since I will not (and cannot) post any pictures of the bride-to-be in said gown, pictures of Devyn in prospective flower girls dresses will have to do. Devyn would not stop twirling in the third dress, she even cried when I took it off. There was a fourth dress that she tried on, however we could tell by the way she was acting that she felt very uncomfortable in it. The sleeves kept slipping off her shoulders and she stood the whole time with her arms crossed to keep the dress from slipping too low. =) I just love having a modest daughter... even if she doesn't understand what that entirely means just yet.

This will be an expensive wedding for our household; we have bridemaid and flower girl dresses and a ring bearer tuxedo to buy, not to mention a second tux to rent for Jon. Yes, we are already saving for this day.

Wedding Bells Will Ring

Tuesday, December 25, 2007 15 Comments A+ a-

Yes, you read that title right. My youngest sister, the baby, was proposed to on Christmas Eve by her boyfriend of 4+ years. We are so thrilled for Courtney and Jeremy!

I was so incredibly honored when about a month ago, Jeremy asked me to go with him to find a ring. So one Sunday, Jeremy, his mom, my mom, and I visited four jewelry stores together and when Jeremy saw THE ring, his face just lit up. It was really too cute! He then asked for help coming up with an idea on how to propose. (He is one of the smartest men I know, he's working towards his PhD in Bio-something-or-other; but he is NOT creative at all!) Jon, Mom, and I threw ideas at him over and over again; he rejected each one. Finally we came up with the perfect idea, the idea he ended up using.

He framed the above picture and wrapped it up. When he and Courtney arrived at his parents house, who just "conveniently" happened to be out of the house, he handed Courtney the wrapped framed picture. She wasn't quite sure why he was giving her a photo of her niece and nephew... until she read the sign. Then as she started to tear up, Jeremy got on his knee and asked her to be his wife. Perfecto!

And so it begins! The hustle and bustle that is a "insert-maiden-name-here" -wedding. We are so excited and thrilled to be welcoming another brother-in-law into the family!

Out for the Count

Tuesday, December 25, 2007 1 Comments A+ a-

You know its a successful day when you wear yourself out!

Daddy and Devyn passed out on the couch.

Uncle Randy (my uncle) took Hudson from me so I could eat; twenty minutes later, I found them asleep on the couch. Too cute for words!

Glory to God

Sunday, December 23, 2007 7 Comments A+ a-

It was a dark night; there were fewer stars out tonight, hence less light to do his job. He looked out among the herd, mentally calculating the number of sheep. He smiled to himself, they were all there; he could relax once again. The glow of the fire highlighted the faces of the other men with him; some were dozing, trying to rest as they awaited their next rotation; others were warming their hands, rubbing them over and over as they chatted amongst themselves; and still others were keeping a wary eye over the herd. They had sent Cephas out to walk the perimeter, to ensure that a predator wasn't hiding among the hills or bushes, ready to snatch a wayward lamb.

He was a man of few words; conversation was rarely needed for the job he did. He bent down to scratch dirt-encrusted calves, wincing with each movement. He was tired, that was certain; they'd been out here for weeks and he'd almost reached his patience threshold. He was ready for a warm bath, a good night's sleep, and freshly-laundered clothes, but these would have to wait. Instead he turned his attention back to the herd and the black night. Again, he smiled. His might not be the most coveted of jobs but he enjoyed the stillness, the quiet the job brought. Not to mention the beauty of the night landscape. Off in the distance, the town of Bethlehem stood on a hill; various lamps and lights dotting the horizon. It was beautiful out here and he'd learned to enjoy such simple views.

Suddenly, in the distance, he heard a horn; a sound unlike anything he'd ever heard before. He glanced around the men, to see if they had heard it too, or to see if he really was losing his mind. Even the men that had been sleeping had risen to their feet, looking around to find what had woken them. There! The horn sounded off again. He searched the dark sky to see what was giving such melodious music. And then before his very eyes, there shone a bright light. He shielded his eyes, wondering how day had arrived so suddenly, where moments ago night still covered them. He could hear some of the men cowering on the ground, begging for their lives, asking Yahweh to save them. He was half-tempted to join them, this was unlike anything he'd ever experienced before. Then the sky was filled beautiful music, the words drifted over him.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!"

He fell to his knees as the sky filled with a heavenly choir. Angels, dozens of them, spread across the horizon; their light so bright he could barely look at them without his eyes burning. To the left and the right, angels stood with horns; their long, drawn-out notes punctuating each word.

"Joy to the earth; the Savior reigns!"

Who were these beings?! It was obvious that God had send this heavenly host, but why to sheep herders? What had he done to deserve such news, or to see such sights? He was humbled to his very core. An angel stepped forward, away from the others and came close to the men.

"Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

And with a final verse, a final truimphant blast of the horn, day returned to night and the men were left to talk amongst themselves. As the rest of them debated about what what they had seen and what they should do; he found himself too awed, too thunderstruck to join in. What had just happened here was nothing short of miracle. He heard a shout in the distance and turned to watch Cephas tripping over himself to reach the others.

"Did you see that?" he asked of the other herders. "Did you see that beautiful choir?"

Yes, they shook their heads; some still unbelieving what their eyes had seen. Cephas turned his head and with wide eyes asked, "What should we do?"

The herder came to his feet, grabbed his staff, and announced, "We go! We find this babe, the savior of the world and we rejoice!" With his announcement, he turned toward Bethlehem. As the men scrambled to join him on the trek, he smiled to himself. Never had his heart felt so light, so happy, so... so... so full of joy! A savior had been born! His Savior! What wonderful news for all the earth.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

It's Better to Give

Thursday, December 20, 2007 11 Comments A+ a-

I really wish my children came with instruction manuals. It would be so wonderful to look up something in the index, flip to that page, and read the directions. Half the time I have no clue what I’m doing, no idea if our actions are going to shape decent human beings, and we definitely have no guarantees. We just do the best that we can, often deferring to our gut instincts.

I desperately want Hudson and Devyn to learn that Christmas is not about receiving presents, heck, it’s not about presents at all. But since they’re kids and wrapped boxes are everywhere they turn right now, the least I can do is help them understand that giving is far better than receiving.

At the beginning of the month, we were at the mall and right there, next to Santa’s Workshop, was a table and a tree, both dedicated to Toys for Tots. We marched right past Santa’s Workshop, without stopping I might add, and up to the tree. And from that tree, Devyn and I selected a name of a two-year-old girl. I knelt next to my own three-year-old and explained that we were going to find the best gift we could for Jeannie; I tried explaining to Devyn that some children just weren’t as fortunate as she was and we were going to share some of our own blessings with Jeannie.

Yesterday was the deadline for the toys to be turned back in. We’d selected some play-doh and a beautiful princess doll for Jeannie. During the drive to the mall, Devyn kept oohing and aahing over the princess, holding it high for me to see. She kept asking to open it, wanting to play with the dresses, the prince, and the doll. And each time I explained that it did not belong to her, it belonged to the little girl named Jeannie. She’d pout, sticking her lower lip out as far as she could, but then returned to pointing out the various things inside the package. I worried about the outcome of this experience but kept it to myself.

Once there, I grabbed Hudson and the play-doh, while Devyn clutched the princess tightly to her chest. Again we marched past Santa’s Workshop and up to the same table where kind ladies were accepting the gifts. I looked down at Devyn and asked her to hand over the princess. She looked at me, looked at the extended hand, and back at me. I watched the inner struggle as she reluctantly handed over the princess; I could almost see the wheels turning in her brain, not quite sure what was going on. As she handed over the play-doh, again she was hesitant in her giving. The ladies smiled, thanked us, and gave Devyn a sticker. And then, only after she’d handed over the gifts, did we stop to see Santa Claus.

I doubt Devyn understood any of the lesson I was trying to teach but when we do this again next year, maybe it’ll be a little easier for her to let go of the gift.

Head Butts and Love Bites

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 4 Comments A+ a-

I got down on all fours, and then waited until I had Hudson’s attention. As his blue eyes locked with my brown ones, I lowered myself until I was lying on my stomach on the carpet. Immediately his eyes lit up and a big, toothy, mischievous grin swept across his face, he knows my signal for rough-n-tumble time well. He crossed the distance between us, as fast as his crawl would let him, even losing his balance once. As soon as we were able to touch, he lowered his head and butted mine. Ahhh, my heart sighed, so much love in that one little head butt. As my forehead connected with his, he pushed with all his might and then landed face-up, beneath mine. Again that smile lit up his face and with tiny fists holding my hair, he pulled me closer for an open-mouthed, sometimes biting, kiss. Oh my goodness, I could positively eat this child up. For the next ten minutes, he climbed willy-nilly all over my body; pausing every few minutes for a loving head butt. His squeals of joy and his belly laughs so worth the pulled hair, the not-so-tender biting kisses, and the accidental pinches from small fingers. And then, upon wearing himself out, he collapses on my chest to rest. His curls twining themselves around my fingers as I stroke his head; his smiling, tired eyes staring into mine; and his content, rested sighs fill my soul.

I am foolishly, unabashedly, head-over-heels in love with this son of mine.

Weekend Recap (in Photos)

Monday, December 17, 2007 10 Comments A+ a-

I went shopping with my sister, Courtney. Our other sister, Christine, and her husband are throwing a semi-formal Christmas party and I needed something new to wear. My dress is very similar to the one above, except imagine it with spagetti straps. I'm not sure I should still be shopping in the junior section but I sure feel pretty in this number.

Jon's mother flew into town to celebrate Christmas with her boys. Brock and Josh came down the mountain to stay with us for the weekend too.

We got to meet Uncle Brock's new girlfriend, Holly. We LOVE her! They make such a handsome couple.

Hudson fell in love with the hersey kiss candy canes.

Devyn and Uncle Josh tried out her new snow pants and snow boots. My daughter is stylin' with the new boots.

Catching Uncle Josh in a rare photo opportunity!

Isn't my husband handsome?! And a little tired!

Dixie, Brock's baby girl, even joined in on the fun.

So, after dealing with a dying four-door sedan all week (it broke down four times in one week, not to mention that it overheated driving only 10 miles), Jon and I broke down and bought a mini-van. I was terrified our credit history would come back to haunt us (and it did a little in terms of the interest rate we got) but we now have a gorgeous 2006 Kia Sedona sitting in our garage!

The color is called Sage Mystic or Mystique. (Where do they come up with these names?!)

The interior is all cream-colored.

It was a wonderful weekend; we got to spend time with family, a new girl in a family of boys, and a new (reliable, safe) car. God has blessed us indeed!

*Ding* Fight Over

Thursday, December 13, 2007 8 Comments A+ a-

I am a passionate person; I love passionately and fight passionately; I have strong opinions and strong emotions; I have a temper. Rarely do I show this side on the blog, mostly because becoming a mother has mellowed me some. (Notice I said some… not all.) I am ruled by my emotions, logic rarely plays a part in decisions or thought processes. This is me and Jon married me knowing all of this. Crazy guy!

During the first year of our marriage I really had to “re-learn” how to fight. Don’t get me wrong, I knew how to fight; it usually involved a lot of drama, some threats, and tears… always the tears. (This is what happens when you grow up in a house full of four strong-willed, emotional girls. Have I ever mentioned that our house was nicknamed The Estrogen House?!) However, I needed to learn how to fight fair; I learned many valuable lessons that first year of marriage. I’d like to think I’ve “perfected” the art of fighting but I still have moments when I slip into old habits. Ick.

This week was not fun for me; Jon and I had been at odds for a few days. Rarely do our fights or arguments last longer than a day; rarely do we go to bed without resolving our differences. But this one dragged on… and on… and on. Then I began to notice how unbalanced everything in my life became when I was fighting with Jon. Coincidence? I think not. I walked around with a restless, unsettled feeling deep in my gut. I became even more emotional; the littlest things would set me off. Nothing seemed to go right; even getting the kids and me ready for the day seemed an insurmountable task. In one morning alone, Devyn broke a huge glass candy jar in the kitchen, shards of glass going everywhere; she managed to unscrew the lid to her children’s vitamins and ate approximately 25 of them (I called poison control, she’s fine… just not getting any vitamins for the rest of the week); and managed to take the Christmas tree down with her when she fell off the couch. And that was just ONE morning.

Jon and I are fine now. It doesn’t matter what we were fighting about, nor if there was a wrong or right party. We were able to talk it through, explain our hurt feelings, discuss a plan of action, and make up. (Making up is the best part, don’t you think?!) And last night, when I crawled into bed and Jon’s fingers intertwined with mine, I felt that missing piece slip into place. Even getting ready this morning was easy again. All is right in my world as long as Jon and I aren’t fighting, I need to remember that!

Now… on to dealing with my dying car; which even that is manageable now that the fight is over.


Thursday, December 13, 2007 7 Comments A+ a-

I wish I could fall asleep sitting up!

(While I was getting ready for the day, Hudson woke from his nap on the couch and starting crying. Within 3 minutes the crying stopped; I came out of the bathroom and found him asleep against the back of our couch. He's just too adorable for words!)

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 16 Comments A+ a-

I Don't Do Good-Byes

Sunday, December 09, 2007 2 Comments A+ a-

I don't do good-byes... seriously, I just can't handle them. I know some of you will think its a cop-out, but its just too hard for me. I simply avoid it at all costs, often choosing instead to say "until later" but never good-bye. I will live in a state of denial when a friend or family member is moving away or dying, trying my best to simply ignore the fact that its actually happening. We all know how well denial works... it simply catches up with you at some point.

And that point was this morning.

When Jon and I were newlyweds, mere months into our marriage, we joined a small group of other newlyweds. Our leaders were Jonathan and Robin, a couple with 10+ years of marriage experience, the parents of five children, and wonderful role models. We also had Ryan and Kristin, who married about six months before us. And then there were Rebecca and Peter, married about three months after us. It was a fun group, a group where it's easy to be yourselves, accountability was strong, and we had such great encouragement and support. The group lasted about a year because Ryan and Kristin moved and Jonathan and Robin moved soon after them. (By the way, Kristin and Robin, I still think its unfair that you all ended up in the same city on the east coast. So... not... fair!) But Peter and Rebecca stayed here, with us.

Jon and I grew close to them; we were able to laugh at our differences, bond over our similarities, and tried to build the sense of community that had been taken away from us. Even when it seemed that we might not ever have another small group, the four of would get together and just enjoy each other's company. We supported each other through the minefield of newlywed marriages, new jobs, problem cars, fertility issues, several moves in and out of state, their return to Bible school, etc. It is a good friendship, easy, taking very little effort. We were ecstatic to learn that they were expecting their first child soon after we announced our pregnancy with Hudson. So, it was bittersweet when Isaiah was born two weeks after Hudson.

From the very beginning of our friendship, they expressed their interest in the mission field. They'd been to Asia several times, submitted their application to a mission agency, dove back into school to fulfill the education requirements, and soon were going church-to-church to ask for support. By last month, they had all their support and had booked their tickets to their new home in Asia. I KNEW this time was coming, I knew that one day we'd be saying good-bye, but in my head, it was always later. Not now, but later.

Last night our new small group leaders (thank you Jim and Barbie!) held a dinner as a good-bye to Pete, Rebecca, and Isaiah. It was wonderful to get together with the other couples that we've grown close to; eat, fellowship, and watch Hudson and Isaiah play together. By the end of the night, they were both sporting black eyes. Then this morning Pastor Jim called them up to the front of the church and we dedicated them to the service of God. (I'm getting teary just typing those words. It is wonderful to see all of their hard work come to fruitation.) And so, in the lobby of our church, we said our final good-byes. I hugged each one knowing that it was the last time for quite a while; Pete and I exchanged teary smiles as I charged him with taking care of his beautiful family; and when Isaiah reached out for me, I lost my composure completely.

It's going to be weird sitting in the balcony of our church, not being able to turn around and share new stories of our little guys. It's going to be weird going to small group and not see their faces. It's just going to be weird... I'm excited for them, don't get me wrong, to see them start out on a journey that God has so obviously ordained for them, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to miss them immensely. I pray that God will hold them in the cup of His hands and to be honest, 2010 cannot come soon enough for our reunion.

Go, dear friends, do what God has called you to do, but know that you will be missed. We'll be here, on the other side of the ocean, praying for you constantly!

Congratulations Babe!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 25 Comments A+ a-

My husband has been studying and preparing for a string of arduous tests and interviews for about a year now. When his supervisor announced his retirement over a year ago, Jon diligently began taking the steps needed to express interest in the job. I have never seen a guy study and work as hard as Jon has. He passed the written test with flying colors and he made it through the oral test and initial interview with equal success.

And then last week, the week of his supervisor’s last day, Jon was told that he made the short list to be given a final interview for that position. Over the weekend we searched high and low for a suit, we practiced his interviewing skills, Jon studied up on procedures and corresponding policies; in short, Jon was focused. He went into that interview and made as good of an impression as he could. He must have done something right because he just received word that he got the promotion!

Jon, I am so proud of you! I am in awe of watching you achieve a goal that you’ve had for so long. You, my love, are an inspiration. Thank you for working so hard for us and for our family. We are so very proud of you. Well done, babe, well done!

Flashback to 1984

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 10 Comments A+ a-

I was wrong about the ages; I was five and it was three days before Christine's third birthday. We so badly wanted these Cabbage Patch dolls; both Grandma and Mom told us that while they tried, they were sold out wherever they went. We were heartbroken.

Imagine our surprise and delight when we opened these packages on Christmas morning!

A dark-haired doll for me and light-haired doll for Christine. We sure did love those babies!

I was gone 2 minutes!

Sunday, December 02, 2007 6 Comments A+ a-

I was putting a load of laundry in the washer, I was only gone two minutes. Look what I found under our bathroom sink.

Hudson opened the cabinet door and crawled in all by himself.

He is so proud of himself!

Of course Devyn wanted in on the action; I just LOVE this expression on Hudson's face. [And yes, that is pregnancy test in her hand. I hold on to them, don't you?]