Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday, Paul

I don't write much on this blog anymore, but it doesn't feel quite right to let THIS day pass without writing here.

Yesterday I read a quote that made me choke up while reading aloud to the girls.  We've been reading about Amy Carmichael's life.  She had a long and full life of humble service in India, never married and began an orphanage there where she was known as "Amma" or Mother.  One of the things that has stood out to me most in her life is her desire to get rid of all the dross in her life and heart and to live only for things that are eternal.

A man who had been her partner in ministry for years and through many trials and tribulations passed away suddenly from food poisoning.  One of the women Amy worked with said, "it is very difficult to see how this is for the best."  Amy replied, "it is not difficult to see how this is for the best; it is impossible.  But we are asked to walk not by sight but by faith, and only faith can allow us to let him go without bitterness."

Amen.  Thank you God for being our rock and for tenderly nudging us along as we walked/walk (crawled?) with you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"We Have a Brother, Too"

Often when I am out and about I get comments on the fact that I have 3 girls. Things like "Wow! You have your hands full!" Or, "Are you going to try for a boy?" Or, "3 Girls? What a blessing."

And it never fails that sweet Hope chimes in with, "We have a brother, too."

Her heart is sensitive, and she loves her big brother, Paul, fiercely. She never fails to include him in our family count, quickly correcting me if I number us at 5. After the last time we got our family photos taken, on the way home, she asked if we could include a white spot in the picture where Paul would be.

So, when she innocently puts strangers in an awkward position of responding to her remembrance of her older brother, I smile at her with approval.

Her questions about him and that season in our lives are insightful, sensitive and mature. She wants to know why we can't go look at his body. She wants to know what our sadness was like. She wants to know if he will be a baby in Heaven. She wants to know how we knew he had died. She has made observations such as: "I bet when you heard that other people were having babies, it made you sad."

She cries for him. We had planned to be in Louisville this week for his 7th birthday, but had to cancel due to some unexpected things coming up. When we told her, she burst into tears sobbing "But we won't be there for Paul's birthday?" And as we looked at his scrapbook she cried and commented, "You were so happy getting ready for him."

We were happy. And then we were really, really sad. And if you had asked me 7 years ago if I'd ever say this again, I would have never thought it possible, but we are happy, again.

Sometimes when Hope gets sad about Paul dying, I remind her of how God began to restore our joy: with her. I remind her of how we longed to be parents and knew we were parents but did not have a child to care for. I remind her that her first cry healed many wounds. I remind her of how very thankful we were and are for her life.

But I don't want to stop there, because I know that even if God had not chosen to begin to heal us with more children, He would have done it in other ways. I remind her that God is big and created all - including the universe, we are very small, and that He is good. I remind her that God wants our faith, trust and submission - even when it seems impossibly hard. I remind her that God did the impossibly hard thing of sending Jesus into the most humblest of circumstances here on earth so He could give his life for the sin I blatantly commit daily against Him... and this makes my faith, trust and submission not seem as much of a sacrifice.

Happy 7th birthday, sweet Baby Paul. Your life continues to send out ripples of impact that push us to see God more clearly. We all love you and miss you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hope's First Christmas Choir Concert

Here are two videos from Hope's concert on Friday night. She enjoyed the experience and was completely free from self-awareness. Great. She warmed our hearts for sure.

Gingerbread Houses

We made gingerbread houses this past week. The real deal. It was fun and time consuming, but worth it. Here's the process in pictures. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here is this year's Christmas card. Thanks to Shutterfly for making such nice cards and putting a lot of discount codes online. Thanks also to Shutterfly for giving me $10 off my next order by doing this blog post!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Day of School, Home-style

We started our first week of homeschool last week... and really liked it! It has added great structure to our days, and has worked well with Phoebe's morning nap. I really like the focused attention with the big girls. So far they like learning, and that is good. :) We are using the dining room table, which has worked out just fine. Our first day of our HS coop is tomorrow. We'll be there for 3 1/2 hours and Hope will get choir, art, gym and science.

In case anyone is interested, we're using:
Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons (reading)
Explode the Code (phonics)
A Reason for Handwriting
Horizons Math K
History for Little Pilgrims

I did not find any of these on my own. I seem to be in the middle of a pretty great homeschooling community here in the mid-west. It seems like there are a lot of us. And a lot of practical helps for me. We don't know how long we'll do this, but for this time, its started off well, and we're having fun.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

They're Growing Up Too Fast

Hope will be FIVE in about 2 weeks. FIVE! How did that happen? She's giving herself her own showers now and we're starting to give each other knowing looks and laughing at the same things. She does so much for herself she doesn't even need me. Well, not quite.

And Anna, well she talks more than the rest of us combined. The other night she was hollering something from her room, well past bedtime. I went in and she said "Where'd Hopey go?" Then I looked at Hope's bed and she was fast asleep. Anna, I guess, was not done talking to her.

And Phoebe - well I know babyhood goes by way too fast so I'm trying to stare at her as much as possible. I think I'm succeeding. She's already got some chunky legs going on, and she is SMILING at us more and more. We all love it. I love her fuzzy head and I've affectionately given her the nickname - Phoebe Fuzzy Head.

Here are some recent pictures.

We went to some friends' house who live on a parade route. It was awesome. The big girls loved it and collected an insane amount of candy.

Here they are with their little friends.

Miss America!

It was a nice and relaxing time.

Phoebe at an outdoor concert we went too. We thought it was going to be patriotic, but it turned out to be Big Band music. Which was fine. Several of the old people got up and danced during the songs which was sweet. Anna got up and danced, too.

Auntie Rah-rah came to visit! It was fun. She rocked Phoebe a lot, took the girls shopping and to Starbucks, we got to talk a lot -about wedding planning and such. I can't believe she's getting MARRIED!!! It was fun.

Pretty in pink.

Rah-rah and Phoebe on the day they met. We picked her up from the airport and went to an Andrew Peterson concert in Wisconsin.

These are all of the fallen trees/limbs on the side of the road across the street from us. We had a very bad thunderstorm on Monday morning that shut off our power for 5 whole days! It was an adventuresome week. We were so thankful to God that it wasn't very hot last week! By Thursday early morning we had a friends' generator up and running so that our refrigerator could be running and we could have a lamp on at night. The girls thought it was fun to shower in the dark.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Summer Time

Its finally become summer here. Yesterday was a hot one, so we got out the pool. And as you can see, the girls have really outgrown it. Good thing they still enjoy it! They really don't know any different :)

We have 2 small cherry trees in our yard, and the girls helped me pit(sp?) them. The trees make barely enough for one pie. They look like they're a bloody mess, but they seemed to enjoy it.

Our sweet 5 week old baby. She's been going a 4 hours stretch the last few nights, so that's nice. And she's really sweet and cute. We love her so much!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giants vs. Cubs

Mark took the girls to Wrigley Field today to watch the Giants. He's taken Hope the last 2 years, but this year Anna got to go, too. They were really excited about it and almost equally excited about taking the train downtown. Here are the pictures!

Before the game.

Waiting for the train.

Anna was crying because she was afraid of the Cub Bear mascot.

Go Giants!

Mark said this was when he was starting to wear out.

They fell fast asleep once they got to the car. Hope told me she didn't sleep at all on the way home :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

More Recent Pictures...

I'm on a blogging roll!

Sweet little Phoebe.

Hopey and Phoebe today.

Enjoying the first freshly picked strawberries.

Her first dress 2 weeks ago.

Hope's first t-ball game was today. Here she is in the field.

Warming up with Dad.

Anna watching the game.

4 weeks old yesterday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hope's First T-ball Practice

Hope had her first T-ball practice last week. The name of her team is the "Hooks." She thinks its a really great name. They have their first game on Saturday. She picked out her pink and purple glove. T-ball is funny because the kids really don't know how to do anything. Mark is getting to help coach and is having fun.

In her new t-ball shirt and glove.

She requested that Nannie take a picture of her back with her number.

Practicing her swing. This girl LOVES to tuck in her shirt. We cannot convince her to do otherwise sometimes.

Coach Mark.


Hope and Coach Daddy.

And, a cute picture of Anna.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Phoebe Ann

Little Phoebe Ann was born on May 27th, at 9:59am. She is now nearly 4 weeks old. We are in love with her! She's the perfect addition to our family, and is loved by 2 very in love big sisters. These last 4 weeks have been wonderful. She's been held a ton, hugged, kissed and cuddled with non-stop. I'm in no hurry to get back to a clean house and regular activity, yet. I know these weeks go by too fast. We are continually thankful throughout our days to our God for this new gift to our family. We are so glad that she is here and in our arms. Here are some pictures:

Me as big as a house the night before her arrival. Phew! Am I glad that is over with.

Me meeting her for the first time. C-sections aren't that romantic, but still a special moment, no doubt. Have I mentioned how insane having abdominal surgery is when you're awake? Its insane. Glad its behind me.

I love her!!!

Our first family of 5 picture.

Grammy meeting Phoebe for the first time. Grammy and Pappy came and took care of the big girls and helped out around the house. Thank you!!! It was so wonderful to have them here and to know that the girls were well taken care of and having fun! (They went to the zoo, beach, and Chuckecheese).

Pappy meeting Phoebe for the first time.

The three sisters. What fun we will (are having) have!

Leaving the hospital.

Daddy and his girls. They really love him.

Grammy and her grand-girls.

First sponge bath at home.

I think we have a picture like this of the the other two in this bassinet. She likes to turn her head to the side when she's sleeping.

Hopey really is a natural with babies. She is SO GOOD with Phoebe.

Nannie meeting Phoebe for the first time. Papa and Nannie got here when she was 10 days old. They took super good care of us - buying us groceries, cooking, cleaning. It felt so good to be taken care of, and to share this special time with them!

Papa meeting Phoebe for the first time.

2 Weeks Old! More pictures to come...