"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of Facebook 2012, Part 2

July - December
Bethany, climbing up on the seat beside me: "I'm going to hang out with you for a while." Me: "How about if you hang out with me forever?" Bethany: "No, Mummy, that's not what children do. They just hang out with their parents for a while." *sob*
As I listened to the traditional complaining from Ashley this morning over having her hair combed after her shower, I finally told her that if she keeps it up, I'm just going to cut it all off short and be done with it. A moment's pause, then she began chanting, "I love showers! I love combing! I love showers! I love combing!"
Ashley, praying before lunch: "Thank you for the sunshine today, and that we got to go to Target...and I'm sorry that I just burped, and let's pretend that I didn't...and thank you for this food...."
The girls were building a plane in the livingroom. I was informed that it was a REAL plane, and would REALLY fly. Sadly, we eventually ran out of rubber bands, and as everyone knows, you cannot build a REAL plane without sufficient rubber bands. So the plane became a zoo (because zoos apparently don't require as many rubber bands), and now Bethany is supervising her sisters' zoo construction and throwing out encouraging comments. "I have a good feeling about this!" "This is quite impressive!" And my favorite -- "We can do this, gentlemen!"
Ashley's advice for young ladies: "If you stomp, stomp, STOMP all over the house, then you sound like a stomping bear. And you're not a bear, you're a girl, so you shouldn't be stomping." I like it!
Bethany, looking up from lego play: "Hey, where's Daddy?"
Hannah: "He's at work."
Bethany: "No, I think he's at a party."
Hannah: "No he's not! He's at work!"
Bethany: "Party, infinity!"
Hannah, singing a made-up song to Katelyn: "Oh little baby Katelyn, I've fallen in love with you, I love you like a son...."
Ashley's holding Katelyn, and I look over to see her wiping away tears. "Oh Ashley, what's wrong?!" And she tells me, "I was just looking at her and thinking about how much I love having a baby sister, and she opened her eyes and looked at me, and it just brought me tears of joy!"
Irritated that Bethany spilled her milk all over the table, I told her, "You need to pay attention to what you're doing!" Her cheerful reply: "Well, that's why God gave us towels, so we can clean up if we forget to pay attention!"
Hannah, sounding absolutely amazed: "I just realized that we get to stay alive until we die!"
Ashley: "Hey Hannah, I just made a surprise for you, but you can't look at it yet."
Hannah: "When can I look at it?"
Ashley: "You can't know that yet either!"
Hannah: "That's mean!" *short pause* "I'm going to make a surprise for YOU, and you can't look at it yet either, and I'm not telling you when you can look at it."
Ashley: "You're copying what I just said to you!"
Hannah: "Yes. It's called a cruel irony."

Ashley is excitedly deciding what she wants to take to an upcoming food drive: "I think we should take 12 muffins, and 7 eggs, and two dozen sandwiches!"

Bethany: "There's really nothing for me to do, except play." Ah, the tough, tough life of a three year old!

Hannah: "I only want to have one child when I grow up, because if I had more than one then they would eat all my ice cream!"

Bethany just brought me a play cup with a straw in it and said, "I made you some coffee to help you feel better!" I smiled at her and tried to hand the cup back to her, saying, "Thank you, that was sweet of you!" She put out her hand to stop me and said very seriously, "Mummy. You really need to drink the coffee."

Bethany: "Speaking of zebras, I really wish one would give me a kiss!" Um. We were not speaking of zebras.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best of Facebook 2012, Part 1

I use this blog mainly to help me remember all these precious stages of life that we are zipping through too quickly. I just don't have the memory space in my caffeine-deprived brain to hold on to all of this as it happens, and it is such a joy to read back through the blog and revisit times and experiences we've had together, things the girls have said/done as they've grown, and all the memories that would otherwise be lost. However, frequently one of the girls will say something, I'll think, "Oh, I need to write that down!", and the fastest and easiest option is to just post it to Facebook. I've been realizing how much less permanent that is than the blog, so I've decided to scan through the last year's worth of my Facebook status updates, and bring over here my favorites of the sweet or funny antics of the girls that I want to make sure I have recorded for good. So here we go -- Part 1!

January-June, 2012
Hannah just prayed, "God, please help everyone to know that You are there, so that they don't have to be afraid of life."
Lamont just told Bethany that his coffee has a restraining order against her! *laughing hysterically*
Bethany: "I'm getting big and growing so much, so I'm changing into a mama!"
From Bethany along with her tight goodnight hug: "Do you know why God made you? I do. So that you could be my special Mummy."
The wind is picking up and I hear Ashley whispering to her sisters, "We better watch out, because I think our house is going to blow away in a potato!" *long confused pause* "I mean, we're going to blow away in an alfredo!" *even longer pause* "Hey Mummy, what's it called when the wind goes in a circle and it can pick up a house??"
Just out of curiousity, if your three year old tells you that you are a duckling...is that a good thing?
From Hannah's sunshiny face this morning: "Mummy, happiness that lasts is called JOY!"
Note to self: telling Hannah to just ignore her sisters' attempts to distract her from the job I've given her results in her loudly proclaiming, "Hey guys, I'm ignoring you! Just so you know, I'm ignoring you! Ok? I'm just ignoring you!"
Hannah: "I really need to get a job and start making some money!" Me, startled: "Oh really? Why do you need money?" Hannah: "So that I can give it to kids who don't have enough food, of course." *heart...melting...*
Bethany: "Can we please have cookies for breakfast?" Me: "Nice try, sweetie, but--" Bethany, quickly: "Why don't you just think about it for a while, Mummy!"
Our littlest baby girl kicked her daddy's hand for the first time tonight for his birthday - yay!
Bethany: "Mummy, I'm going to grow up and be a mom with kids, but if you want I can still be your little girl, too!" Oh, yes please.
Hannah just came out of the playroom for a drink of water and I asked her what she and her sisters are doing in there. The eyes start shifting back and forth and she says politely, "Um...I don't think you...really need to know that right now, Mummy...."
Hannah, with a fierce goodnight hug, "I'm so glad you're not a vegetable or a llama!"
From a very indignant Bethany: "Mummy, Ashley is being SO mean to me. She's treating me like a carrot!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


REJOICE! Christ, our saviour, is born!
Merry Christmas, and a very joy-filled New Year, from our family to yours!
May the love of God overwhelm you this coming year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Check it out, Mary!

The girls have beautiful advent calendars this year, with pictures of the nativity on the front, and small pictures with verses behind each door. And there's glitter! They're exactly like the calendars I remember from my childhood (let's pause a moment for my happy, happy memories...ahhh). There's something really good for the soul about continuing happy traditions from my childhood with my own daughters!

Anyway, today's verse is Luke 1:31, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus." I always explain the verses to the girls, but this morning Hannah beat me to it, and I heard her give this explanation to Bethany....

"It's like the angel was saying, 'Hey, check this out, Mary! You're going to have a baby growing in your tummy!' And I don't know why he said womb, but he should have said tummy. And then he said, 'You have to call your baby Jesus,' so if Mary didn't call him Jesus, like if she called him Boysa or something, then she wouldn't be doing what the angel said. And if we don't do what angels say, then we aren't obeying God, because God tells the angels what to say."

I kind of want Hannah to explain the whole Bible to me now!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Alligator Book

This morning Ashley very proudly finished her very first book, both written and illustrated by her! She's been working on it for a week and a half, and though at one point she told me that she planned to "keep writing more and more of my book until I'm 12 years old!", she decided this morning that the story had come to an end. 

Let me tell you, folks, this story has it all. Drama! Intrigue! Life and death conflict! Buckle your seat belts, because I'm about to share it with you. :)

It says, "Ashley (self portrait of Ashley!): The Alligator Book"

Once upon a time there was an alligator that loved to eat and eat. 

The alligator saw the monkey and wanted it. The alligator tried to eat the monkey but the monkey swung.

The alligator saw the frog and wanted it but the frog just ribbited and the alligator gave up.

The alligator wanted it (the bee) but the bee flew away. The alligator tried to eat the butterfly but the butterfly flew away.

The alligator saw the horse and wanted it. But the horse ran away. Then the alligator saw pizza on the ground. Then he was happy.

The end.
See??? That was a pretty intense plot! I bet you were worried about which poor animal was going to end up being lunch for the hungry alligator, weren't you??

The alligator's facial expressions absolutely crack me up. I love that you can tell he's getting more and more hungry and frustrated, and his giant grin as he looks at the pizza at the end is perfect!

Ashley now says that rather than working on this one story until she's 12, she will just continue writing other books until she turns 12, at which point she will open a bookstore and sell all her books for $10 each. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wrapping up GreaThings

So! Obviously I did not quite succeed at posting every day during the GreaThings challenge leading up to Thanksgiving this month. I kind of expected that I would not be able to write every day, so I'm not disappointed -- I actually really loved being part of that, and am so glad I did it. It was wonderful to take a focused look back at some of what this year contained for me and for my family. And I was able to get a lot of pictures and memories onto my blog that otherwise would have been left behind completely, so I consider it a great success for that reason as well. :)

This post is just to officially wrap it up and acknowledge that despite a few wild ambitions I may have had, I am definitely not going to be able to catch up with the rest of the list of writing prompts, and I am finished. ;) Thanks for hanging out with me for GreaThings 2012!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

T is for travel!

T (blessings that start with this letter)


It has come up already a few times in my GreaThings posts, but I have so enjoyed getting to do a fair bit of traveling this year. Lamont and I both are passionate about visiting new places and learning about parts of the country (and hopefully someday the world!) other than where we live. It is refreshing and inspiring to us to be reminded that the world is much bigger than our tiny corner of it! And since it is difficult to travel while we have little ones, whether they come with us or stay home with family, I am especially grateful for the opportunities we had this year.

In March I got to go with Lamont on a company trip to Vegas -- he attended his conference by day while I relaxed by the beautiful pools, and in the evenings we went to the WCC basketball championship game, The Phantom of the Opera, and a Maroon 5 concert! It was surreal. The whole trip came together at the last second, with less than a week notice, and I couldn't believe it when my parents agreed to keep the girls for four days so that I could go with Lamont. I'm pretty sure the girls think they had more fun during that four days than we did. :-)

The Bellagio - gorgeous even though I didn't catch the fountain show!
On my way back I had nearly half a day's layover in San Francisco -- it was my first time there, and a beautiful day to show me the very best views.
The San Francisco shoreline, looking like a movie setting. :-)

In May we went to Chicago for eight days, for a wonderful visit with Lamont's sister and her family. It was the girls' first flight, and though I thought they didn't do this anymore, when we were leaving the plane, the pilot invited them into the cockpit!
They asked him SO many questions about all the controls, and he was fabulously patient explaining everything to them.
Our time in Chicago would fill a blog post by itself -- our adorable nephews there are 3 and 6 years old, and the girls have a blast with them. It was a week full of constant chatter (especially when they were supposedly eating), and crazy schemes (teaching pet bugs to do tricks, for instance), and it was over far too quickly. We spent most of one day at Lake Michigan, which I absolutely loved.
It wasn't as cold as it looks! And yes, Hannah was attempting to move the entire lake one shovelful at a time. Why do you ask?
At the end of July we snuck in a quick weekend at the Oregon Coast, and had gorgeous sunshine and 80 degree days the whole weekend! And yes, it does slightly defeat the purpose of broadening our horizons when we repeatedly visit the Oregon Coast every year that we possibly can, but...it's our happy place. :-)
See? Happy!
And sometime this summer (I truly cannot remember what month it was, which is a sure sign that I should be fast asleep right now), I got to sneak away to Yakima by myself for a weekend with my friend Sarah and her  family. Her daughter is exactly Bethany's age -- they share a birthday. We were in labor at the same time, but in different hospitals, both frequently demanding updates from family members on each other's progress! And I'm not going to say I won or anything, but...well, I did beat her by a few hours. ;-) Somehow I have no pictures of the weekend, but it was lovely and filled with coffee, and movies, and cuddles with her sweet children, and ice cream, and browsing bookstores, and late night conversations.

This year has truly been rich with travels, and I love all the experiences I've had and the memories made in each of the beautiful places I've gotten to see!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More than words...

Lyrics that have meant something special this year.


I hear You calling out my name
As only You can do
Your voice it covers all my shame
The old You turn to new
No matter how things look to me
You see a destiny, a perfect promise

You call me beautiful
You call me righteous
You call me worthy of Your son's own precious blood
You call me holy
You call me strong at my weakest
Forgiven and pure, You call me Yours

It's hard for me to understand
Exactly what You see
I slip and stumble every day
And still You say, "Believe."
You say You will finish what You start
You see me for my heart, and not the bruises

You call me beautiful
You call me righteous
You call me worthy of Your son's own precious blood
You call me holy
You call me strong at my weakest
Forgiven and pure, You call me Yours.

~"You call me Yours", Prelude

"There can be miracles, when you believe!"

Answered prayers and miracles.


It's been a year full of everyday miracles.

~That oh-so-familiar and yet still brand new sensation of our newest baby dancing inside me for the first time. Little butterfly movements that stole my heart.

~The wonder on the faces of our girls as they eagerly pressed their faces to the airplane windows on their very first flight. The sparkling eyes as we climbed above the clouds.

~A little hand slipping confidingly into mine, or a small person climbing without hesitation into my lap because they know they belong there.

~The vicarious secure feeling that floods over me upon seeing my tiny baby curled up fast asleep on her daddy's chest.

~Crescendos of giggles from little girls' whispered conversations.

~Flour covered noses and radiant faces in the midst of a baking session.

~Meeting the eyes of my love above all the happy chaos, in a moment of recognizing together the beauty of the life we share.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

E is for energy...

E (blessings that start with this letter)


I am so incredibly grateful for the energy God has given me throughout this year! 

That seems so funny to say right now, while I am sipping decaf coffee with the "decaf" label turned away from me in an attempt to trick my mind into thinking it's the real deal, because I am SO TIRED. It seems strange to rejoice over having had so much energy this year, when I spent so many countless hours lying sick and exhausted on the couch during my pregnancy with Katelyn, and when the girls have gotten up before me in the morning at least 85% of this year. It seems odd to claim that I've been energized, when I've had to set my own schooling aside for the last 11 months because I just didn't have enough energy to go around. Yes, I have been tired this year and very drained, physically and emotionally.

But I have had enough energy. 

Somehow despite all the exhaustion (because that's another "E" word that can definitely apply to 2012!), there has also always been enough energy not just to survive, but to really love life with my family this year. And that feels like such a precious gift. We spent the beginning of the year playing in the snow for hours on end, and curling up together in the evenings to play games or watch movies or read together. And I got to play a couple of small roles in a fun production of The Chalk Garden, and somehow managed to suck in my far-too-quickly-expanding baby belly until the very last show to fit into my costumes! 
They basically thought it would be a good idea if we could just build an igloo and live outside all winter, so they'd never have to leave the snow.

*love* (I don't have a lot of pictures of myself with the girls -- thank you to my friend Kayley for snapping this one when I wasn't looking!)

Master Uno strategists!

The spring and summer was filled with so much traveling, including my first trip to Vegas when I accompanied Lamont on a business trip and caught the Zags (both men and women) playing in championship games of the WCC conference! (It's basketball, people. You don't have to think it's exciting, but I do!) Lamont had to travel a lot for work over the summer, so the girls and I came up with a lot of adventures to keep us busy while he was gone. And then there was my brother-in-law's wedding, and all five of us were in the wedding party. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it was slightly insane. ;-) The "quiet", every day times of the summer were spent almost entirely outside -- at the park, the lake, up at my parents' acreage, or out on biking/running trails as a family. I got the best tan of my life so far this year!
Hot summer day at the zoo + ice cream = pretty much perfection.

Pretty flower girls playing on my phone to help them stay still before the wedding!

Oh yes, and this. T-ball provided us with a lot of beautiful summer evenings, plus some of the biggest smiles around!

In the fall, of course, Katelyn arrived, and all the fun flurry of family and friends visiting that a newborn creates. And we started homeschooling in earnest, with the girls in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Lamont started teaching four days a week at Gonzaga again, and basically life continues to be unbelievably busy.


And through all of this beautiful craziness, I have been aware of an equally beautiful energy that is more than I am, that has enabled me to truly enjoy this giggle soaked season of life with my family. I thank God for always giving me enough -- sometimes no more than just enough, but always enough!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Love lifts us up where we belong

Scriptures that have been a special blessing this year.


"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mystery and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." I Corinthians 13:1-3

This is what this year has been about for me, learning that none of these things that make me "look like a Christian" are worth even the breath of a moment -- not without love. I have so much to learn about loving like Jesus does, and these verses make it sound like learning to love like Jesus does is pretty much the most important thing I could be doing. So I've been clinging to the next five verses as well, to remind myself over and over what that is supposed to look like....

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

There is really nothing I can add to that. You see why it has been consuming my whole year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

R is for romance

Today's prompt: R (blessings that start with this letter)

Kind of an unusual letter, R. Hardly one of the top five you guess while playing Hangman!


Romance. Next month Lamont and I will have been married for seven years. In that time we've had four beautiful children together. We've lived in five different places, nowhere for more than two years. Lamont has spent months working two hours away from the girls and I, at two different points in our marriage. I've had three major surgeries, and Lamont...well, he broke his nose playing basketball, so we'll count that. ;-) We've dealt with severe family crises as well as deaths in both our extended families.  We've spent significant portions of those seven years very, very sleep deprived! There have been endless joys, but also quite a lot of challenging experiences for the two of us so far.

And somehow...somehow this incredible man I married keeps making me fall in love with him over and over again. This year, through a physically demanding pregnancy, a relentlessly busy schedule, and once again living in a new place and this time just not feeling like we belong here at all -- through it all, my husband has faithfully reminded me of God's promises and purposes for us. And he doesn't just tell me, he shows me daily how to love selflessly, to seek God's guidance, and to remain humble as he focuses on those around him. And he keeps me laughing! (A very misguided man once told me, while Lamont and I were engaged, that after we were married I would no longer find his jokes funny. How very wrong you were, sir!)

Lamont is, in every possible way, my best friend. He knows my heart. And he pursues my heart, in big ways and little ways, every single day. This year has been the most beautiful year of our marriage so far, and that thrills me. I am so blessed to be building this life together with the man who knows exactly what I want from Starbucks based on my mood, and still shows up to surprise me with the perfect drink at the perfect moment...who washes dishes and reads to little girls and folds laundry and changes the oil in my car, all with a smile...who somehow finds a way to hold my hand frequently despite all the little people constantly around us...who sends me to bed while he stays up with the baby...who loves me exactly as I am, while inspiring me to become more. This is romance.

"It's two hearts and one dream...I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Memories and moments...

Today's prompt: "Memories and moments you're thankful for this year."

And I don't have a clue where to start, because I think this could easily become the longest blog post I've ever written, but I don't have time to just write forever about the countless beautiful moments I have gotten to treasure this past year. So I'll pick just a few, the first ones that come to mind as I begin to write, and let the rest of them continue to scroll through the memory of my heart as I fall asleep tonight, even if they don't all make it to the computer screen.


Miss Katelyn Joy.... We learned I was pregnant right around New Year's, so we spent most of this year looking forward to and praying for her safe arrival. I was so, so nervous at the beginning of this pregnancy, after miscarrying last fall. And just when I thought we'd reached the "safe zone", at 13 weeks we had a scare with Katelyn, and I spent most of a day in the hospital thinking I was losing her. When I remember how broken I felt that day, I am overwhelmed by the incredible gift that this precious (and perfectly healthy!) baby girl is to our family. I labored overnight with her -- first time I've experienced all night labor and the profound exhaustion it brings. Never in my life have I felt so entirely drained, so at the absolute end of myself, and so completely surrendered to radiant joy as I did at the moment that Katelyn was born. It felt like my heart just shattered into intense relief and gratitude as she was tucked up onto my chest, and then she tilted her tiny head up and stared solemnly straight into my eyes, and all the shattered pieces came together again into the most complete feeling I have ever known.


So many happy memories from this year were at the water! We got to enjoy Lake Michigan in May, the Oregon coast in July, and Lake Coeur d'Alene all summer long. Plus overnight stays at two different indoor water parks (um, spoiled much??), and four weeks of swim lessons at the pool in the park just a few minutes from us. It was so much fun watching the girls build confidence in the water, and just delighting in the waves and the sand together. One time at the ocean in July I was resting on the sand and watching Lamont and the girls join hands to run into the water together as one long, laughing chain. The sun was hot and the waves were crashing so that they were all I could hear, and I sat there, suspended in that perfect moment in time, and fell completely in love with it.


About three weeks ago, the girls cleared their breakfast dishes and rushed to get their handwriting books, to begin school for the day. As I rinsed their bowls and listened to their excited chatter about what they were practicing writing that day (and more importantly, what stickers they planned to choose from the sticker box for their pages once they completed them!), it suddenly just hit me: I am homeschooling my children. No longer just We're going to homeschool, or even, I'm teaching them and I reallyreallyreallyreally hope it works out ok, but, I actually am homeschooling them for real and they're learning and they love it and I love it and this is really amazingly cool! It was a moment of confidence and joy, and it left me so very grateful to have the opportunity to experience this with my children! I have a feeling I'm going to remember that day from now on as "the day I really became a homeschooling mom". ;)


There are so many more lovely memories from this last year, and I'm loving writing them out and don't want to stop! But it's nearly 11 pm, and I'm about to fall asleep at my keyboard, so I'll raise my white flag for tonight. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrating Great Things!

I am so excited this year to take part in GreaThings for the first time! Last year around mid-November I became vaguely aware that several of my friends seemed to be participating in some form of organized gratitude blogging. I read and enjoyed a couple of their posts, and had brief thoughts of pursuing it further to discover what exactly they were doing and how I could join in. But since "vaguely aware" and "brief thoughts" do not sound very indicative of decisive action, you probably won't be surprised to hear that it came to nothing more than that for me last year.

This year I was so delighted to discover that GreaThings is hosted by my lovely blogging friend Chantel, on her blog, Beautiful Song, and so the info to get involved was actually super easy for me to find. A quote from her intro post this year: "For the two weeks preceding American Thanksgiving day, a small group of friends join together to take a look over the year that has just passed and thank God for some of the blessings -- the "great things" -- that He has done and is doing in each one of our lives. It is a perfect opportunity to put life into the perspective of gratitude, and to identify our blessings...even the ones that looked like raindrops."

So basically, starting tomorrow we're aiming for a daily post focusing on thankfulness. There's an optional schedule of post topics provided, for anyone who needs a little help with inspiration (or sleep deprived moms who are struggling to put two sentences together these days and still remember what they're talking about by the end of the second sentence...oh, that's just me?), so I may start out with that and see if I come up with ideas of my own as I go. Oh, and there's this whole idea of a landing page and link-ups, which still overwhelms me a little bit even though I've been pretending to have a very basic level of tech-savvy in the blogging world for quite a while now. I'm just going to act like I know exactly what I'm doing!

I'm so excited to take the next two weeks to be really deliberate about remembering how God has worked in my life over the last year -- the endless blessings and joys, the hard times in which He never left me alone, and the beautiful love that surrounds me every moment of every day, sometimes filling my heart too much for words. I need this! And I so look forward to seeing where this journey takes everyone else who is going to celebrate Great Things this month!

My GreaThings 2012
Day 1: Memories and moments....
Day 2: R is for romance
Day 3: Special Scriptures
Day 4: E is for energy
Day 5: There can be miracles when you believe!
Day 6: More than words...
Day 7: T is for travel

Monday, October 8, 2012

The beauty that fills my days!

This apparently is not a heavy blogging season of life for me. I've been doing a lot of this instead...

...and loving it! Katelyn is such a snugglebug, always wanting to cuddle. I'm not sure that there's really anything more therapeutic than snuggling a perfectly content, fast asleep baby! She gets scooped up frequently by her daddy, too.

I think she likes sleeping on her daddy best, and pretty much anytime she's fussing, if Lamont scoops her up and cuddles her onto him for just a minute or two, she falls happily fast asleep. (A very, very handy trick for bedtime!)


I've also gotten to spend some fun one-on-one time lately with the older girls. We've been realizing that since homeschooling for the girls is largely a group activity this year (lots of time reading aloud to all three of them, or working together on things at the table), most of my interactions with them at home are group interactions, so we've been making time for solo dates on the weekends. Ashley and I went shopping together yesterday at the mall for some new fall and winter things for her, and she clung to my hand and chattered non-stop the whole time. :) A couple of weekends ago, I took Hannah to get her hair cut, because she'd decided to go back to her short curls. 

She felt so grown up going to the salon with just me, because usually there's a whole parade of us! And sometimes one-on-one time out with the girls can be as simple as taking just one of them for a grocery shopping trip; they really just love the focused time together. But one of our favorites so far was a series of coffee house dates I did with each of them:

She very carefully turned the cup so that the Starbucks logo would show because she was proud of having a "real" coffee cup!

And that's all for now! Off to tackle a brand new Monday morning and try to accept that it's somehow the second week of October and *gulp* that means that my beautiful Ashley turns six next week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Welcoming Katelyn!

So, we have a beautiful baby.... :)

Katelyn Joy Miles, born September 5th at 5:03 AM. 6 pounds, 8 ounces, and 19 inches of perfection!

This was the day after she was born, when Katelyn and I came home from the hospital. The girls have pretty much sat around gazing admiringly at her ever since. :) Their first request in the morning is, "Can I hold Katelyn now?", and even when I'm nursing her, there's always someone stealing up to us to drop a gentle kiss on her babysoft cheek.
As I said -- lots of kisses. :) Katelyn seems to just adore Ashley, and settles into a contented sleep whenever she in on her biggest sister's lap.
Hannah has surprised me by being the most attentive of all the girls, such a little mother! She is not disturbed by Katelyn crying in her arms, but just talks gently to her and never, ever wants me to take Katelyn away. :) 

I thought I was prepared for how big and grown up Bethany would seem after Katelyn arrived. But I really, really wasn't. She is so poised and mature, so careful with her baby sister and so eager to help. I am amazed by this little girl who grew up overnight! It's incredibly bittersweet to know that she will never be my baby again.
And now there are six of us! SIX! Um...excuse me while I stare at this picture in disbelief for a few minutes....

Our sweet baby girl will be two weeks old tomorrow. It's amazing, but at least this time around I know...I know how quickly it all flies past. I know that in the blink of an eye her precious newborn stage will be over, gone forever, and I already ache with knowing how much I will miss her tiny body curled up against me in that helpless and entirely contented way that brand new babies have. So I am cherishing every moment with this beautiful, tiny girl, building the memories of her in my arms forever into my heart.

That's why I haven't even gotten around to putting her birth here on my blog until she's almost two weeks old. :) And I'm not much of a "birth story" writer, but there are a few things about her birth I'd like to have written down, so maybe I'll do that next. Another day. Right now it's time to go make breakfast and start another school day with my three favorite big sisters in the whole world, and snuggle our precious baby!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Heaven's melody!

All the way to church this morning, the girls sang praises to Jesus at top volume in the backseat.

"Come on, come on now -- we've got a new song! Come on, come on now -- a song of liberty! Let the world hear Heaven's melody...this is the shout of the hearts You've set free!"

Clapping, dancing in their seats, and singing their hearts out...I don't know when I last experienced something so beautiful.

"So I'll dance, dance, dance in Your freedom! Oh! Your glorious freedom! Forevermore...forevermore!"

I love how this song just pours out of them, so heartfelt and true to their joy in Jesus. No hang-ups, insecurities, doubts, or disillusionments. Their faith so far is just spontaneous, joyful trust and celebration.

No wonder Jesus said we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven! It is amazing to find myself learning from my children, wanting to trust Him like they do. What a gift!

"Joy, joy, unspeakable joy! Hope like never before. You came for us, You are our freedom!"


Monday, August 27, 2012

While waiting....

We are in waiting mode here. Waiting for school to start next week, and waiting...waiting...waiting for a baby to arrive! I am 37 weeks pregnant now, and our baby girl is doing great. I'm "allowed" to go into labor any time now, and if I'm at all in tune with my body, I think it won't be long. Another week, maybe. (And yes, that does mean she'll most likely get here just in time to delay our start of school!)

I am tired and sore...not sleeping well, and bad sciatic nerve pain. So very ready to hold this little girl in my arms and welcome her into our family. And while I struggle with patience, the girls aren't even pretending to be patient! ;) They ask me multiple times a day if maybe, just maybe, now I might be in labor! They talk to their sister through my tummy when they wake up, and before they go to bed. They've drawn pictures for her and helped me sort her clothes. They've made up songs about her, set aside beloved toys for her, and prayed for her every single day. I can hardly wait to see them finish becoming big sisters to this precious baby girl.

And quick before this waiting period is finished, I should post some of my maternity pictures! My friend Holly took them and I love them to pieces. (I've mentioned her before; she's our amazing family photographer and if you haven't seen her website yet, check it out here!)

Lamont is hoping to take about a week off work when she arrives, and we are all so excited to have some time together as a family to enjoy each other and rest!

Come as soon as you're ready, little girl...we can't wait to love you forever.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Working on catching up....

So, we went to the ocean...a month ago....

I'm really behind with blogging this summer. Really, really behind. Every week, every day, has been packed so full, and it has all been so wonderful but so exhausting. And I've taken pictures...some of them, at least...but have not been doing anything with them or keeping up with blogging.

And that's ok! But soon we will have a newborn around here again, and then all hope of cataloging this summer's pictures and activities will definitely be gone, so I'm going to make an effort to catch up a bit before that happens. Which brings us to the ocean. :)

We went with Lamont's family, just for the weekend, to Cannon Beach, OR. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but both of the days we were there were about 80 degrees and gorgeously sunny -- which does not happen on consecutive days at the Oregon coast! Such a treat, and it meant endless hours of happy beach time. (Plus a few sunburns. Not for the girls -- I do protect my children with sunscreen, really! But one of these years I'll grow up and realize that I need to put sunscreen on myself as well.)

On our way back, the girls and I dropped Lamont off at the Portland airport, and he flew to San Diego to spend five days at a conference. Which would have meant I would be driving all the way home with the girls all by my (at the time) seven months pregnant self, except that it didn't! Because my awesome friend Anja lives in Portland, and it just so happened that she was willing to take some time off and come home with us for the week! We've been friends for 20 years (*whispering* Forget I said that, because it makes me sound really, really old!), and I've missed her terribly since she moved to Portland a couple years ago, so it was a huge treat to have her company not just for the road trip but for multiple coffee filled days. :)

Aaaaaaand, here are a few ocean pictures!

She spent about half her time at the beach happily buried in sand. I...don't really know what to say.

This castle had about seven incarnations and withstood many mighty waves! (Or didn't...which is why it had so many incarnations...lol.)

Sandy bliss!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pregnant women bonding.... (OR, This is how we do it!)

She was just a few steps behind me as we slowly made our way to the side of the pool to watch our children's swim lessons. We lowered ourselves into the pool chairs, hot white vinyl under the 90 degree sun, with matching weary sighs, and drawn by the sound of the sigh, our heads turned toward each other at the same moment.

There was a pause, then a quiet nod of recognition from each of us. I see you, heavy and tired. Drooping yet also bursting with life, with the new life you're carrying, and with the promise of a time drawing near. I feel your restricted breaths and the nerve pain in your legs and the aching back and the stretching, always stretching, and the tiny fists that punch your bladder so relentlessly. And I feel your heart full of longing and love for the one who has taken over your body so completely, and the waiting...and waiting...and how it is drawing to a close. I see you.

"When?" I ask her.

"End of the month," she replies quietly. And then, "You?"

"Beginning of next."

A pause, then a hollow, plaintive whisper. "It's...hot."

I close my eyes, sun beating on my face, and feel the trickles of perspiration over far too many surfaces of my body. And her statement resonates as something profound to each of us, and eventually I answer her....

"Yes." Sorrowfully, slowly. "Yes."

There is nothing more to say, and for the 29 remaining minutes of the swim lesson, we are content to keep each other silent company. It is easier, sitting in the sizzling heat next to each other. There is a comfortable camaraderie in the discomfort, in the sharing of the heat and the sticky vinyl chairs and the endless, restless shifting of limbs.

The half hour ends and our children climb from the pool and shiver over to us for towels, laughing and dripping and sparkling in the sunshine, claiming to be cold now that they've left the water. And she and I turn to each other again, eyebrows raised in mutual amazement, and shake our heads over the unfairness of the heat distribution.

Finally, a ghost of a smile, as she asks, "Tomorrow?"

And I smile back at her, "See you then."

Friday, July 6, 2012

Endless water!

We've been doing swim lessons every morning for the last two weeks, and graduated from this beginning level class this morning. The girls had a blast! We did them at the pool just a minute from our house, and will definitely do it there again when we do another two week session in August. I loved the pool and loved their instructor. :) The only part they didn't like was jumping off the diving board....

The pep talk....

The completely rigid jump....
The aftermath!

But I promise, most of the time they all looked more like this....

Even the day that the water looked like this, because it was pouring rain and hailing and only 55 degrees!!

And about two minutes after I took that picture, the rain and hail stopped and the sun burst through the clouds. It was like March -- except it was July. Yeah.

So to celebrate them spending two successful weeks in the water...I decided we should spend some more time in the water! I'm creative like that. ;) We beat the heat at Lake Coeur d'Alene this afternoon, where the girls got to play with their out of town cousins and I got to enjoy a towel on the sand in the sunshine. I was also entrusted with the serious task of guarding all the special rocks and sticks and bits of seaweed they could find in the waves...it's what mummies are for!

Such a beautiful, watery, sunshiny Friday!