Thanksgiving 2017 #2

The day after Thanksgiving, we went to my parent's house for another day of family and good food. My brother and his family flew in for the weekend, and as always when they come into town everyone stops everything and we soak up every minute of together time. We only get to see these cousins once, maybe twice, a year, so it is special, special time.

This picture above is a new favorite. All 10 grandkids are in that room (Nellie is behind the green chair) and just hanging out. These ten are so, so great. And they are really great friends. On Saturday when we were going to bed Ivar told me, "mom, when Simon leaves, I am going to weep. He is so clever and creative when we play legos and hex bugs." They are a fun crew and really nice kids. I just love each one to PIECES!
I never got a picture of the whole clan, but I did get the 10 grandkids. And a few more involving board games and frosting sugar cookies. We played Family Hide and Go Seek again, adults were invited to watch a play where every kid died by the end (a real tragedy with no hope or redemption. I told them I needed more of an upper next time! ha!) and Hattie got non-stop attention. You can tell in these pictures that she decided she was a big kid. And her awesome big cousins let her be one.

thanksgiving 2017

We had a great thanksgiving, celebrating with the Groves clan at Kyle and Lisa's house. As always, Lisa made a turkey AND a ham. Lisa always goes the extra mile or eleven miles...
Her table was beautiful and Kyle had drawn a cartoon of each person as our place cards. We tried to come up with a caption for our cartoon selves, and mine was saying, "hmmm. now what did I come up here for?"
I like Thanksgiving so much. It just feels like there is time to enjoy each other on this day. We eat, we talk, the kids played on the swing set and Lisa and I took the babies on a long walk after pie. It's just a great, relaxed family day. Unless you're making the turkey and the ham, I suppose...
Jack and Josie were home from college and we celebrated Jack's birthday with a pumpkin pie. And I gave him a gift bag with no gift in it. Remedied quickly by remembering the gift was still in the car and was never, in fact, put in the bag.
 This picture was taken just before the kids were mugged on the playground.
 Just kidding. It was just Kirby. Praise the Lord!
Until next year, veggie turkey.

A day in the life of Alden

Hello! My name is Alden. One morning when my mom and dad were up watching the sunrise, I decided to wake up early and join them. My dad said, "Look at this kid! He is changing every day. Are we taking enough pictures of him?" My mom immediately felt guilty, but my dad said, "just grab the camera and take a picture now." And so Mom did, and then she got inspired to keep it out all day long. That's why they're good together. Dad thinks things are possible, and Mom is easily excitable.
After my alone time with Mom and Dad, Hattie woke up! She was a bit put out that I was already on Dad's lap and she usually wakes up first. But she let it slide because I am her favorite person.
Mom changed my diaper and my outfit and then Hattie came to join the photo.
And then Elsie woke up. You may notice I am not at a loss for love and affection.
My sisters did their morning chores which includes unloading the kids dishes and silverware. And sometimes Hattie sorts the kids dishes on the floor.
And Mom took a picture of her lovely Christmas cactus that is about to bloom.
And here's Hattie looking for a snack. She'll do this forty seven more times today. Also, note her new purse from Mimi. It has a puppy on it and she loves it. Mom has found crackers, cashews, pretzels and apple slices in her purse. She hoards her snacks in that hand bag! That Hattie is a smart one...
This was also the day I rolled over for the first time. No one saw me! They just found me on my belly and I was very proud. And then agitated.
Thankfully my big brother woke up and helped me roll back.
Everyone had peanut butter and jelly toast for breakfast.
And then it was time for our big group chore. Tuesdays we all sort and fold and put the laundry away. No one is excited about this day and Mom is always going on and on about creating a work ethic and the importance of doing hard things and being a part of the family. And then she says, "I believe I am the only one sorting right now" like a thousand times while my brother and sister put underwear on their heads or pants on Hattie's head or socks on my ears.
When we were putting the laundry away Hattie found the polyfill and spread fluff all over the downstairs. After Mom picked up all the polyfill she decided she may as well vacuum.
Ivar draws pictures all day long. He loves to look at books and then draw his own scenes.
Then it was time for home school. I usually go down for a nap before school begins. It's helpful to have one baby down while Mom teaches.
Hattie is usually awake during home school and wants to be treated just like her big siblings. So Mom always has to tell her what she is to be doing during this time. It's very darling/challenging.
And then I woke up again! Did you miss me?!!
My mom is positively gourmet. What's that? She already served peanut butter and jelly toast today? This is totally different. It's a peanut butter and jelly ROLL UP!
After lunch I practiced my rolling. And Hattie caught up with Steven Curtis Chapman. Hattie is only interested in books with human faces. She has no time for cartoon drawings or animals or scenery. She just wants a magazine full of people. Or a photo album. That's actually her very favorite.
Oh and now this was sad. Very sad. Mom made herself an afternoon cup of coffee. She's super into putting her coffee in a blender with pumpkin puree, butter, coconut oil, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, a little vanilla and a dash of salt. She whips it up and believes it adds great value to her afternoons. Well, she made one pot of coffee and must have gotten distracted and turned the salt grinder way too many times into the blender and ruined the whole thing. So she brewed a whole new pot of coffee, put all the ingredients back into the clean blender and before she could hit blend the bottom of her blender just fell off. Listen. All the poor woman wanted was a cup of her pumpkin coffee! So she brewed her THIRD cup of coffee and just added maple syrup and milk to it. It was a bit of a downer, if you can imagine.

Then my dad came back home and took her picture. This proves that she does, in fact, exist. And that she chopped her hair off. She loves her hair short again.
The three of us had a meeting to talk about Dad's company. Mom and Dad are working together lately and it's been really good.
Hattie colored this turkey for a little while. Then she colored the window frame.
Mom went to find Ivar and Elsie to see what they were doing and they were playing legos. Like always.
And while she was up there, I had a blow out! Dad called up for her to bring down a new outfit for me.
And while they were changing me, Hattie found an orange pepper in the fridge and ate it like an apple.
Then it was dinnertime. I can't remember what they ate that night, but I'm glad to see the Sweet Baby Ray's because at least we can deduce that it was not peanut butter and jelly based.
After dinner, Ivar asked if he could snuggle with me. And then Mom went to the grocery store and Dad oversaw this couch cushion game. The pictures after this had everyone's shirts off, but Mom isn't going to include those. She'll end our day with everyone still clothed. But wow! What a day! Then we all went to bed, and I woke up every three hours to eat and  then we all woke up in the morning to do the whole thing over again.
Mom wants to add one final thought:

These pictures are beautiful and they should be. Motherhood is good and taking care of my kids is the best gig I've ever had. There is a lot out there telling me that I'm not doing enough by raising my kids, but I believe I am doing enough. And that it's very, very important.

That said, there is an audio track that is missing from these beautiful pictures. I told Rory just this morning that for a woman who doesn't love conflict, motherhood is a real challenge. Because no one particularly loves your ideas. Hey guys, you need to stop playing and come eat your breakfast. Have you done your chores? I need you to go brush your teeth. It's time to unload this dishwasher. These all need to be said and the trouble is that not one child will beam, "Mom! That's exactly what I wanted to do with my life right now! Work on my handwriting again! Thank you for thinking of it!" But that's my keep the train moving forward. And sometimes it is a heavy load. 

The true challenge in all of this is that I have to remain the adult and not fall to the level of weeping and gnashing of teeth. My prayer each morning is a sincere, "Lord, help me to keep my voice kind, to train and guide these kids so they learn to be helpful, obedient, kind and thoughtful." They will never learn those things from a mom who is angry, distracted, loud, bossy and always annoyed. 

The refining happening in this house is everywhere. The kids are being shaped and molded every single day. But so am I. Probably more than the kids. And I think that is God's hope in Motherhood. That we'd learn what it really means to be a servant. To lay down our lives for a friend. To be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. I wish these things came a bit easier, but they don't and God is patient and just and forgiving. Which is why I pray to him. I think that's his hope in motherhood too. That we would ask him for help and guidance to make it through our days. 

Hope you enjoyed our day in the life. :)

a lesser known bible verse

You have heard it said 'the lion will lay down with the lamb.' But I say unto you, the lamb will also lay down with the chicken.

halloween 2017

Thought I had better throw this one in here since tomorrow is Thanksgiving! My sister called and told me she was excited by my sudden daily blogging. Rory was gone Friday night at a church thing and I decided to spend my night getting caught up in words and pictures. And it feels so good! So here is Halloween real quick before Thanksgiving...

My favorite story from this Halloween is that Elsie went back and forth all month if she was going to be a princess, a queen, Aurora, a queen bee, or Elsa. And in the last half an hour she landed on the humble hot dog. I didn't see it coming!

Also, Ivar wanted to be a Ninja Turtle even though he's never seen the show. But his Lego magazine has ninja turtles in it and his dad has all of his figurines that Ivar gets to play with. A few weeks before Halloween Rory and I were in a thrift store and I found Alden's turtle costume for $4. So awesome. He was supposed to have purple headbands and wrist bands, but when Halloween came around they were missing. Not Ivar's thought. Ivar's costume had been set out all month, all ready to go. He's my very organized boy.

And finally, I have come to realize that I am really, super, incredibly disciplined with Halloween candy in the house.

Until I'm not. And then I just have a great time enjoying every single kind. Baby Ruth are my current favorite.