Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our own little band

Yet another fun Christmas present! Two years ago Danny's brother and sister-in-law bought Parker (or was it Alyssa?) a drum, accordian, and kazoo. The cashier at Target said to them "some mother is going to love you!"and I have to admit I groaned a little when the package was opened. But as it so often goes, the kids have loved them and we've grown to appreciate their performances too. (At least instruments stop making noise when the kids stop playing - a characteristic I wish I could say holds true for all of their toys.) So we gladly welcomed a few additions to their collection this week: a drum set, a real guitar, a harmonica, and a slew of other rythym instruments, courtesy of their aunts and uncles. As you can see, the band members are thoroughly enjoying their generosity. And don't worry - we'll be sure to return the favor to our young neices and nephews in years to come!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Look what I got for Christmas! 300 posts bound into one beautiful volume. I think there are probably almost as many hours invested in the binding as in the writing. Don't I have the greatest mom?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We cherish the opportunity this time of year provides to reflect on the day when the One in Whom “all the fullness of Deity dwells”* came “in bodily form,” and to share with you the way He “holds all things together”* both in our family and in the rest of His creation. All of the blessings of Danny’s job have been a gift from God – lots of time with us, a steady paycheck, and fun helping others. All of the joy in Laura staying home is because of Him – laughter, hugs, and the privilege of watching a 2-, 4-, and 6-year old grow in their understanding of God and the world around them. All of the fun of 1st grade is Alyssa’s greatest blessing – carefully applying herself to reading and math facts, sharing with new friends of her own, and running into Mama’s arms at the end of the day. All of the activities that occupy Parker are God’s gift – jumping everywhere, swimming, wrestling with Daddy, and thoroughly entertaining Mama. God takes care of all of Reagan’s needs as she learns to talk, hop, and generally try to keep up with a brother and sister who adore her. And God has held us all together through a move to a beautiful new home, Dan’s mission trip to Malawi, our continued ministry with college students, and a lot of fun along the way. We are immeasurably blessed, but in no way greater than the peace we know because Jesus Christ reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of His cross.* Our prayer is that you also know His blessing and His peace in all things!
*Colossians 1

Monday, December 22, 2008

The really good, the not-as-bad-as-it-could-have-been and the crazy

Well, my jet plane took me on a little more of an adventure than I had anticipated! And I'll warn you now, after re-reading this again myself that my recap is almost as long as the ordeal -- sorry!
My mom, sister and I arrived in Seattle Thursday afternoon to a city ill-prepared for the snow and ice God sent their way. We stood in a long line for a taxi, even sharing it with a gentleman from Alaska, and eventually arriving to a beautiful hotel room right downtown with a stunning view of the Sound and white-tipped city-scape. After bundling up, out we went to enjoy the Christmas-y weather and fun shopping. However, we seemed to be the only ones with that idea. We started at Macy's, only to find out they were closing at 4:30 (!!!), ran across the street to one mall to find out they were heading home at 5:00. Even Nordstrom was closing it's doors at 6:00, so we were thrilled to find a restaurant in another mall that was staying open long enough for us to grab a quick bite (fresh seafood... yum!). By 7:30 the city was virtually deserted by commuters and shoppers alike - all anxious to start the long trek home on the treacherous roads. So we snuggled in with our hot-fudge sundaes from McDonald's (the only "restaurant" for blocks still open), and were asleep by 9:15, crazy partiers that we are!
Aren't we cute all bundled up in the only moderately-warm clothing we own?
Friday brought out a few more adventurers and a fun day of touring our old hometown just north of the city with friends. On our way back we happened upon this most-unusual site.
Pretty crazy huh? It sounds like there were only minor injuries, and we were glad to have passed by before emergency crews got there and closed down the freeway. Seattle's cobblestone hills, ice and buses apparently aren't a good mix.
But the real highlight was the long-anticipated performance of Handel's masterpiece! I think this is the music we'll be singing in heaven. It is so beautiful and worshipful - even when brought to life by musicians who largely and sadly have no idea of the meaning behind the truth they are proclaiming. We sat in the fifth row so it seemed as if they were playing and singing just for us. By the end of the performance my mouth muscles hurt from smiling so long and wide.
That smiled persisted through most of Saturday with more shopping and the fun, familiar hustle and bustle of the pre-holiday rush. With all of our shopping for others already done, we could concentrate on digging for deals for ourselves - which was fortunately limited by the extra space in our itty bitty luggage.
Later Saturday afternoon we drug that luggage back to the airport in hopes of catching an earlier flight out to avoid yet another snowstorm headed towards the great northwest. The good news is we got on that flight. The bad news is, we got off it again before it left Seattle. Then got back on, then got back off. Through a series of mechanical issues and the snow and wind that began pounding the runways, our hopes were stoked, and then dashed, over and over again. Until finally at 1:15 am, a full 9 hours after our flight was supposed to take off, it was cancelled. By that time, of course, every hotel a cab would even consider taking us to in such weather was full, and every flight for Sunday was booked solid. Which means the only flight they could confirm us on was for Monday night - yes, Monday, as in, if not for the grace of God I'd still be sitting at Sea-Tac airport right now (I'm not, for the record). And the only place to sleep was this little "camp" we set up for ourselves:
Cozy right? (That's me "asleep" there in the orange, and Sarah in yellow). In all actuality though it was so much better than it could have been. Sometimes in the midst of a hiccup like this (hard to call it a trial really), it's hard to see God's plan, but He provided for us in so many practical ways. In such simple things as this spot to sleep, complete with an outlet to recharge our dying cell-phones, chairs without armrests, and blankets and pillows provided by a compassionate airline employee. The fact that we did not have the kids with us, as much as we missed them, was a blessing. My heart ached for the mother of 3 across the aisle from us stuck in the same situation with even fewer provisions. We didn't check any bags so we were able to change clothes, brush our teeth, and feel slightly human again after our four hour nap. But most of all, God gave us a respite in the storm and roused us from sleep early enough to hear a boarding call for a flight to another airport just 30 miles or so from our original destination. We ran over the gate, smiled our best smiles, prayed a little prayer, and were finally given permission to board the plane after the door had already been shut! I felt like cheering when that plane actually got up in the air. The flight itself was uneventful, my brother-in-law was able to pick us up, and I got home just as Danny & the kids were returning from church. So all in all, I consider myself very blessed. I read today that Alaska Air ran out of de-icing fluid yesterday, so between that, the snow, the wind, and all the other cancelled flights, to say nothing of the time of year, I have no doubt that God had a hand in getting us home when He did. We had a wonderful time, but I was ready to see Danny, Alyssa, Parker and Reagan, and they were ready to see me. The cleanliness of the house and the children was far above my expectations and they seemed to have a fun daddy-weekend. But... Dan found out that being home can be challenging, and the kids have all been exceptionally huggy. We do better together =).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Leavin' on a jetplane

The girls are going to Seattle for the weekend! I'm hoping to see something like this:
but I'm more likely to see something like this:
The forcast is calling for snow, so we'll have our fun in the downtown shops, restaurants and the Messiah! Yep, for my birthday a few weeks ago my mom tracked down tickets. Nevermind that we have to travel 1100 miles to get there, I can't wait!
Pray for Dan. He'll be alone with all three kids for three days (a first I think). I have a feeling Grandma T will be in great demand. They'll have a blast and I'm already prepared for dirty little bodies and a messy home when I return!

One of THOSE parents

I've always chuckled a little at the Student of the Month bumper stickers that seem to be everywhere. Are they on every other car in your neighborhood too? Maybe it's just a suburban thing. Just how many students of the month can there be? Well, it turns out there are 7 for the month of December, just in the 1st grade - one for every class. Presumably it's the same for every other grade, in every other elementary school. Adds up to a lot of "special" kids! But this month, one of those honored children is mine, and I have to say that I'm quite proud. If not for dark tint on our rear windows and a car-guy for a husband, I think I might even be proclaiming her acheivement on my truck. But instead I'll brag on her here! As you can see Alyssa was singled out for her "responsibility" in the classroom. Reading is great and math facts are important, but if I have to choose, I'm grateful for a daughter who is recognized for her respect towards authority and consideration of her peers. She brings so much joy to our home that it's fun to see that the other people she spends a great deal of her waking hours with also appreciate our special girl!

Monday, December 15, 2008

50,000 hits

is probably not much of a milestone as far as "real" websites or serious bloggers are concerned, but for me and my tiny little blog... wow! What it actually means is I'm here way too much clinking away on my sidebar links, and that my mom and a few friends stop by with some degree of regularity. I enjoy this little hobby - for the fun of writing and catching up with friends, new and old, in real life and those of you I only "know" here. So thanks for reading and sticking around to tell me how cute my kids are. Hopefully I'll be here for another 50,000!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Only in California...

... will you find a family of four (not mine) donning Santa hats, viewing Christmas lights seated in a convertible Porche - top down!
... can a man (mine) go to work in shorts every day of spring, summer and fall.
... will a 2-year-old (that'd be Reagan) wake up in the night terrified by the sound of forced hot air coming through the ducts for the first time on December 9th.
I'll concede that it doesn't exactly feel like Christmas, but a girls-only weekend to Seattle will solve that. I love California!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Christian's favorite word

This was the title of our pastor's sermon on Sunday. What's your guess? Need a clue? His text was Ephesians 2. Still don't know? I didn't either. Not for sure. There are so many incredible possibilities: mercy, forgiveness, joy, Jesus, the cross, reconciliation, peace, love... the list really is endless. How can you choose? Well, Rick chose grace, and made a convincing argument from this familiar passage. Grace certainly is a most attractive attribute of God and the one without which I would be separated from Him forever. But during his introduction, while he kept us hanging, I had another word in mind. My guess was the word "but." "But God." My favorite word in my favorite spot is in Ephesians 2:3-5:

...we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.

and then in verses 12 and 13:
remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Without that "but" I'd still be a child of wrath. Without "but" I would be without hope and without God in the world. Praise God for "but"s!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

You've missed me, right?

And I know you've missed my photo-heavy posts of the cutest kids in the world (besides yours, of course!). So here you go... a few shots of all the time we've been enjoying in the park lately, because nothing beats Southern California weather in the fall! If you notice that a certain 6 year-old is missing, it's because that thing called school keeps getting in the way and she hasn't yet invited me to come follow her around with a camera at recess. Don't worry though - we're headed to Disneyland this afternoon so I'll work hard to get a few shots of our biggest princess.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thankfully DONE!

30 days, 30 posts, 30 days of thankfulness, finally complete! There were days it almost didn't happen, maybe days I just should have let pass by post-less, a lot of lack of inspiration, but all in all I'm glad I did it. Not so much because blogging is a worthy goal, but because a heart of thankfulness is, and hopefully this has developed a little more of that in me. My daily blogging is done, but I pray that a habit of gratitude is just beginning.
Today on this last day of specifically blogging on the subject, I'm grateful that I have Someone to Whom to direct my thanks. It's always a little strange to me this time of year when everyone seems to be thankful to no one in particular. Fate, perhaps? Their own good luck or choices? Few stop to consider that the gifts they enjoy are just that: gifts from a Creator to His creation. A verse I memorized in childhood that will forever stick with me is James 1: 17 which states "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." Every day is a gift I don't deserve. My sin has earned me death, but through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, I can enjoy eternal life with Him (Romans 6:23). I don't deserve to breath, let alone enjoy things like family, a beautiful home, Diet Coke, aspirin, and hard work, to name a few. But my gracious God continues to give me gift after gift. When I then come across verses like Psalm 118:1 - "Give thanks to the LORD for He is good," and Colossians 3:17 - "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father," the logical response would be... "duh." But unfortunately all too often I start to think of God's gifts as rights, or just take them for granted. I neglect to thank Him for all He is, all He's done, and all He continues to do for me. Even worse, I sometimes forget about the Giver all together, being so focused on the gifts. So my hope through all of this is that I will regularly recognize the many blessing in my life for what they are, and direct thanks back to God in a way that would bring great glory to Him.
Thanks for reading and bearing with me through 3o whole days! I'll be back... but probably not tomorrow!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

2nd to Last Day of Thanks

Today I'm thankful for this sweet baby girl who finally gets to see the world coming at her instead of moving away from her! Yes, at two full years of age, Reagan now weighs in at 20 pounds. This is a long-awaited milestone, not so much because sitting backwards has bothered her, but it has been a little inconvenient for whichever sibling is seated next to her. Though Reagan's legs are short, they are long enough to catch her neighbor in the chin whenever she decided they needed a stretch. "Stop kicking Reagan!" is a phrase I've heard a few too many times over the past several months. No more. I'm sure they'll find other ways to get on one another's nerves in the car - isn't that a sibling's duty? - but I'm thankful that this phase is over.

Friday, November 28, 2008

28th day of Thanks

Thankfully today, my source seems to be right on - minimal hits the last 2 days means few of you have missed my thankfulness. Hopefully you've all been busy being thankful all on your own (and enjoying maybe just a little too much yummy food along the way!). So, I'm most thankful this self-induced NaBloPoMo pressure is off for now. But I was also thankful this morning for a wonderful night's sleep, made possible by the kids' improptu sleepover at my parents' house. Thankful a little later for a few fun Black Friday deals (no, not the 4am kind). Thankful for a quiet afternoon digging out Christmas decorations. Thankful this evening for time with extended family. And thankful right now for the leftover pie waiting for me in the fridge.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful on Thanksgiving (day 27)

I'm thankful tonight for you, my bloggy friends, who will surely forgive a very lame thanks post on Thanksgiving. You've all been so encouraging through this month, and I too have been encouraged through the discipline. But tonight I'm tired (not because I cooked mind you - thanks Mom!) and feel a cold coming on, so I'm off to bed. Besides, I just read somewhere that this is the lowest blog traffic day of the year anyway. Happy Thanksgiving all!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving thanks on day 26

I'm thankful today that my Christmas cards are very nearly done. The picture is not fabulous, the printing isn't fancy, the stamps aren't Christmas-y, and the "letter" will not be particularly creative or compelling. They're not even real cards, just the Costco special. But by bedtime tonight they should be ready to go out the door, and that makes me like them very much. Please don't be impressed by my promptness - it's actually just a function of severe procrastination. I never got around to sending out "we've moved" cards back in May, so I figure I need to beat our friends and family to the punch so they'll have an accurate address for us. I'm not a month early, just 6 months late. And I love to get Christmas cards, which means I need to give them. See? Not a mom on top of things, just a selfish procrastinator. But a thankful one, which counts for something right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 25!

I'm thankful each and every day for little bitty hugs and kisses. We are a rather affectionate family all around. Danny and I still hug and kiss our parents and many of the other adults in our lives. We're openly affectionate with each other in front of the children. But there's nothing quite like the spontaneous (and even compelled) embraces of Alyssa, Parker and Reagan. Whether they're the soft and quiet cuddles first thing in the morning & after naps, or the rushed and rough kisses on the way out to play, they make me smile every time and my days wouldn't be half as sweet without them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful, day 24

Today I'm thankful for TiVo. It's a pretty remarkable innovation that I don't think I could watch television without. 60 minutes of viewing in 40 minutes or less. The shows I enjoy, available at nap times for a little distraction in the midst of ironing, laundry-folding, paper-sorting, dish-washing... A pause button for when nature or duty calls. Rewind for when they call a little too loudly or urgently. Kid-friendly and Alyssa/Parker/Reagan-approved shows on demand (like when mama needs just 15 more minutes of sleep in the morning) in a format a 4 year-old can figure out. Family favorites available for when I can't read "If You Give A Mouse a Cookie" one more time. Shows Danny and I are both into, ready for viewing when the kids are finally really asleep. Fast-forward for programs that just can't be endured live (think "Deal or No Deal" or college football - I love the game but just how is it that they can stretch 60 minutes of game time into 3 1/2 hours +?). Even "suggestions" for times when premium shows are off-season or gobbled up by a sick kid. The thing is amazing. If you don't have one, this should top your Christmas list! You'll be thankful too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving thanks on day 23 for...

Turkey! And mashed potatos. And stuffing. And cranberry sauce. And banana cream pie. (Can you tell we celebrated a little early?)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 22

Today, honestly, I'm thankful that I only have 8 more days of this NaBloPoMo thing. I enjoy my blog, I like the challenge of posting here every day and especially of thinking of something specific and unique to be thankful for each day, but I'm running out of steam. Someone please send me an idea, a meme... anything!

Friday, November 21, 2008

21st day of Thanks

Today I'm thankful for my camera. There's nothing fancy about it, it doesn't have a big lens, and it's not especially fast. But it fits in my pocket, it's always in my purse, and with it I can capture all the sweet and silly moments in my family's life. I recall being warned about how quickly you forget what it's like when your children are young. Now, only a year and a half removed from my last "new" baby, I know that it is true. Only because of photographs can I really recall what the little faces that occupy my daily life looked like a year or two or six ago. So I'm grateful for the abundance of reminders of all those precious days stored here on my laptop. Here are a few memories captured from the last two days:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 20 of Thanks

I'm thankful today for an impromptu mini-vacation. Two days of nothing but swimming, napping, and eating at our favorite restaurants - yeah! Price tag? $50 in gas - double yeah! Pictures to follow later because this impromptu packer neglected to throw in the mini USB cable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thankful on November 19th for...

the little girl God entrusted to us 6 years ago today. Though I know she's still young, she seems so grown up already. My sister-in-law captured Alyssa here in one of her favorite poses: bent over a sheet of paper, pen in hand. Never mind toys, the girl is perfectly content with a pad and stash of writing utensils - so much so that for her birthday last year we gave her a collection of "real" office stuff. This apple has not fallen far from the tree! Studious as she is however, she has fortunately inherited much of her daddy's silliness, including a very contagious giggle, and is truly a joy to be around. Alyssa is dependable, affectionate, and more and more becoming a young lady I can talk with instead of to. But I love that she still wants me to tuck her in each night and check on her before I turn in. I love the little cheeks I get to kiss, the neck I get to smell, and the beauty that I get to marvel at, which is so much more than skin deep. I am immeasurably blessed! Happy Birthday baby girl!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

30 Days of Thanks, part 18

I'm thankful today for Urgent Care. Unfortunately I'm becoming a little too well acquainted with the suture specialist at ours, but I'm glad to have a place where I can take the little heads that split open on occasion around here. I'm grateful for doctors with treasure boxes, a sister who could rescue Reagan from sharing our hour+ wait, and a very brave 4-year-old boy who laid remarkably still through all 5 stitches.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thankful on November 17th for...

my Dad, who was born on this day 61 years ago. All who know him will agree that he is the nicest man they have ever met. He loves God, and generously extends that love to those around him. My dad easily wins the respect and affection of everyone from peers, all the way down to toddlers. When he plays with our kids, he plays with them, doing whatever it is they want to do (unlike their mama who usually tries to persuade them into doing what I want to do). It's not unusual for Alyssa and Parker to get a call asking for a golfing date or a bowling date. All three regularly get real mail from their papa even though he lives less than 15 minutes away, just because kids love mail. When I was in college 1100 miles away from home, I received a package or a note from my dad almost every day. I cannot recall a time that I've heard him yell. Those well schooled in my-dad-isms (i.e. my mom, my sister and I) can occasionally detect frustration or anger, but his self control is amazing. He is willing to be wronged and rarely asserts his "rights." He is quick to give compliments, and always found a way to make my sister and I feel beautiful, even when we were decidedly not so (our "baby fat" didn't show up until 5th grade or so - way too old for it to be cute). Much of what is good in me is because of God's grace working through my dad, and much of what is lacking could be helped by emulating him. Happy birthday Dad! LYGBWYSYS

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day 16

I'm thankful today for the opportunity to realize how unimportant things are. I suppose that's easier to say with a home intact vs. one that's not, but I've thought a lot about what I would take with us if we were evacuated and the list is not long. In addition to important papers and my laptop, I would take a few special Bibles, my wedding dress, a doll my grandma made, a WWII dagger from my grandpa, two quilts made by my great-grandmother on one side, a crystal dish from my great-grandmother on the other, the outfit Reagan had on when she left the orphanage, and as many photos as I could pack. Sentimental stuff. Things that couldn't be replaced. But even then, it's stuff we could live without. I enjoy the things that God has blessed us with, but as the family in our Bible study who lost their home yesterday said, "this is just our business address, our real home is in heaven."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 15 of Thanks

I'm thankful today for a home that has been spared from the flames raging around here in a way I've not seen before. Bigger fires have certainly consumed the hills around us in the past, but the sheer number of homes lost in the past 18 hours or so is staggering. The fire closest to us has destroyed at least 500 mobile homes and 165 houses, including the homes of at least one, maybe two families in our Bible study and probably the home of one of my great aunts. Other fires have burned at least 100 more houses and several dormitories at a Christian liberal arts college. I'm thankful that lives have been spared. Selfishly, I'm thankful that we didn't have to go anywhere today. Glad that we didn't have to brave the traffic caused by extensive freeway closures. Thankful we didn't even have to go outside. Thankful for a family that I really enjoy being stuck inside with.

Friday, November 14, 2008

14th day of Thanksgiving

Today I'm thankful for In-N-Out. And Baja Fresh. And Soup Plantation. And Papalino's. And a dozen other restaurants in our town where a family of 5 can eat good food (albeit not always the healthiest) for $25 or less. They are salvation on days when cooking dinner seems like one task too many, or when we (or at least I) just need to get out of the house.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful on day 13 for...

the Messiah. More than anything else in this world I am thankful for my Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who took on the form of a slave so that I could be reconciled to God. He is worthy of thanks every moment of every day for all of eternity. But I'm also thankful for one extraordinary means of worshipping my Savior: Handel's Messiah. I suppose I come upon my love for this oratorio honestly. It was one of my mom's favorites growing up, and I even recall her dragging us to a live performance once or twice. I also recall hating it. Ironically I now spend the months before Christmas scouring various media outlets looking for any venue within 200 miles hosting such an event. It seems that more people are of my childhood mindset than my adult one because I've only been able to locate a complete performance once in recent years. On my 27th birthday I went to the Walt Disney Concert Hall (a work of art in and of itself) for probably the most emotional musical experience of my life. I went alone (yes, alone - Danny doesn't share my enthusiasm and I didn't want to be distracted) and loved every second of it. It's not short either. I'm sure had a goofy grin pasted on my face. I cried. I laughed at myself for my own intensity. But mostly I marvelled at the beauty of the music and the beauty and sacrifice of the Savior about Whom it was written.
I couldn't find another performance this year. I also can't find the 2nd CD in my two CD set. So I ordered another one today, and I think I'm going to have to break it out pre-Thanksgiving this year. Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 12 of Thanks

I'm thankful today for my Mom Jobs. My full-time, nearly-all-consuming, better-than-I-could-have-dreamed-of job is that of wife and mother. I love to be home. I can't imagine working outside the home every day, or even every-other day. I don't know how women who try to juggle both a family and outside employment do it... I think I'd be miserable! But, I have to admit that I occassionally enjoy occupying my mind with something other than diapers, laundry, dinner and 1st grade homework. Enter... my Mom Jobs! 26 evenings a year I have the priviledge of teaching accounting classes at a local college. I know you're all jealous - don't you wish you could immerse yourself in such an exciting topic? But I actually enjoy the logic of it and the challenge of making it easy to understand. Years ago, as I was facing college graduation myself without a ring on my finger, this was the number 2 occupation on my list. I never dreamed I'd get to do #1 and #2 at the same time!
My second Mom Job is not one I ever thought I would like, but actually love! For 8 weeks each tax season I get to spend 10 hours a week of the kids' nap time helping prepare tax returns for pastors and missionaries around the country and around the world. Again, maybe not your typical definition of fun, but I see each return as a puzzle requiring logic, knowledge, and strategy. A little extra spending money is fun too, though both jobs fall somewhere in between charity and actual employment in that regard. As the chair of my department at the college says, this is not the road to independent wealth. However, both jobs give me the opportunity use the unique skills God has given me to support two institutions committed to the proclaimation of the Truth. The best part of all? Neither job interferes with my favorite job of all - Mom!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thankful, day 11

How can I not give thanks on Veteran's Day for the men and women who have sacrificed for our country? Unfortunately I can't, personally, because I don't know many personally. I suppose that is one downfall of a purely volunteer armed forces - many Americans remain largely removed from their lives and efforts on our behalf. My grandpa was the veteran we thanked on this day, but now we just honor his memory, hang our flag, and pray for those who help make this country the incredible nation that it is. If you are one of those people, thank you. If you have a veteran in your life, please give them an extra hug today for me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

10th Day of Thanks

Today, nearly 6 months after moving into our new home, I'm thankful that every picture that is going to be hung, has been hung. I wish I could say the same about painting - I still have 3 bedrooms and the very high corners of our stairwell to go - but the picture-hanging is done! It really is not one of my favorite activities, but having all of our personal photos and documents on the wall does make our house feel more like home. I'm thankful also for Danny's encouragement to finally bite the bullet and his generous praise over the finished product!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thankful, day 9

I'm thankful for so many petty little things, but one big thing that amounts to some of the greatest joy in my life is my family. Of course by that I mean Danny, Alyssa, Parker and Reagan, but you hear about them all the time. Not nearly often enough do I mention what an incredible extended family I have - on both sides! We have the wonderful "problem" of balancing a slew of grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, neices, nephews, cousins, brothers and sisters, most of whom live within 15 minutes of us. For all our differences (and there are many - does anyone else sometimes feel like the odd man out?) we get along incredibly well and actually enjoy being together. Danny and I joke that if our respective parents had to choose sides, they would each choose their in-laws before the children they gave birth to. Our kids have the benefit of grandparents who adore them, fight for dates with them, and make up for some of the deficiencies in our parenting. We are blessed far beyond what we deserve, and those of you who know all of us know just how true those words are!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Day 8 of Thanks

See if you can catch the theme here: today I’m thankful for naps. Thankful for a baby girl who will sleep the afternoon away, thankful for two big kids who will still “rest” for an hour or so, and thankful that their “rest” very often turns into real sleep. (Yesterday I had to wake Parker after 3 hours and Alyssa lasted almost as long.) But mostly I’m thankful for mama naps. Napping is one of my favorite weekend activities, and when I’m stuck with this cough-that’s-not-really-a-cold, I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to power-nap my way to a little more energy.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thankful on day 7 for...

Aspirin. Would you not agree it is a miracle drug? It seems that those little white pills can prevent or cure almost anything! It is the only drug that can come close to touching my headaches. My doctors give the baby version partial credit for helping keep Alyssa and Parker safe in my womb. Aspirin can prevent strokes, heart attacks and maybe some kinds of cancer. It can minimize the damage of a heart attack., reduce a fever, treat arthritis, and perhaps prevent the formation of cataracts. Veterinarians even sometimes use aspirin to help cats, dogs and horses. Pretty amazing stuff! It's not without its side effects, but I think aspirin is one unique, incredibly useful gift from God. I'll be even more thankful for it when I start feeling the effects of the two pills I'm going to take right now!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thankful on day 6

I'm thankful for Facebook! My husband is still a hold-out, but I think it's a fun way to catch up with old friends - kind of a reunion without the hassle of travelling, primping, and awkward conversation. What I don't really get are the status updates. What makes people think that the world is all that interested in what they're feeding their kids for lunch? I still much prefer blogs - still not real conversation, but at least a little more in-depth than a one-liner. And I finally broke down and posted my own photos of myself because the only ones that ended up on my photo page previously were taken by students in our Bible Study. Not that they're bad photographers, but they seem to have a knack for catching me mid-bite, or mid-sentence, mid-hikeupamountain, or midway between 6 hours on a beach and a shower. Just not cute. What is cute is the Facebook song. I'm probably way behind the 8 ball on this one, but just in case you haven't seen it, get ready for a good laugh (if you're familiar with Facebook that is - Danny didn't find it funny at all).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Day 5... Still thankful!

I'd rather have a pastor I agree with than a president, and I'm thankful to have one of the best pastors around. John MacArthur is brilliant, godly, and intensely committed to preaching the Word of God accurately. He's also a very kind, humble man. Despite his worldwide teaching ministry and extensive writing (all by hand!), he remains firmly planted in the pulpit he has occupied for nearly 40 years. It's the pulpit I am grateful to sit before each and every week. But since many of you don't have the same opportunity, I'm excited to pass along this exciting news: the Grace to You vault is now open! That means that every one of the thousands of sermons John has preached in those 40 years is available for download... for FREE! I know you love free stuff, so go get yourself a sermon... or two... or ten...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 4

I am thankful for the United States of America. I love my country. I know it's not perfect and I certainly have my own laundry list of things I would alter if I could, but I don't believe that it is in need of a fundamental change (as a certain candidate has claimed). Our democratic republic is the best thing going! I've visited over 20 foreign countries, with my stays ranging from 30 minutes to four months. There are several to which I long to return, but none in which I would want to live. This is the home I (Lord willing) will love until He returns or calls me home.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Day 3 of Thanks

On the eve of the election, I am grateful to know the King of kings, the One source of all authority. No matter who wins, no matter what measures may pass or not pass, God is still in control. He won't be suprised, so I have no need to be anxious.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Day 2 of Thanks

Today I am thankful for diet soda. Well, most every day I'm thankful for diet soda. I'm not all that picky about the type. I prefer Diet Coke from the fountain, Coke Zero from the can, but Diet Pepsi is great in a pinch and for a little variety. I fear that I've become a bit of an addict as I would prefer an extra large Diet to any other drink. It multiplies my enjoyment of most every other food. I find myself thinking about how I can alter my route through errands to accommodate a fountain drink. Dan is just grateful that I don't do drugs. I justify my vice with the reasoning that I don't require a daily coffee fix and Diet Coke is significantly cheaper than Starbucks, even in obscene quantities. So, while certainly not on par with such things as health and salvation, I am grateful for the sweet gift of carbonated water and artificially sweetened syrup, served in a big waxy paper cup!

Saturday, November 01, 2008


While I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, I love Thanksgiving. I have to admit that I most of my excitement is fueled by anticipation of the official start of Christmas, but there is something really fun about turkey, family, and slowing down for a long weekend. The pace of life always seems to speed up a little around this time of year though, and it's easy for me to forget to actually be thankful. It's also easy for me to neglect my blog, so I was quick to jump on the bandwagon when I heard about

The idea is to just post a short blurb each day November about something you are thankful for. Don't expect anything profound here, but I am excited about the opportunity to daily, publicly reflect on the incredible blessings God has given me.

So, day 1...

I am thankful for the health of my children. They are of course susceptible to the normal, (though sometimes seemingly endless) childhood sniffles and coughs, but none of them have ever faced any serious or prolonged illness or injury. This stands in contrast to what seems like an inordinate number of our friends and families' children. Especially heavy on my heart today is the home-going of Reese on her first birthday. Her physical challenges and death were not outside of God's plan for her or her family, but I'm grateful that God, to this point, has had a different plan for Alyssa, Parker and Reagan.

(Thanks also to Joy for the heads-up, and Boogiemum for the idea.)

... see how they run

Have you ever seen 3 cuter blind mice? If not, vote for us here! (updated... we weren't one of the finalists, but you can still stop by and see some cute kiddos).
For a family who doesn't really get into Halloween, we had a day full of parades, parties and a fun Fall Festival. All three mice were suprisingly compliant in keeping their costumes on and even Reagan was excited about the glasses and cane. It might have been the candy we kept promising her (which she later devoured en mass) but who am I to judge motives? The biggest hit of the day, however, was the "box city" which I think they could have played in all night. Forget the cake walk, trunk o' treating, kettle corn, bounce houses or cotton candy, they just wanted to get lost in a maze of empty appliance boxes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My two-year-old!

In case my photo montage on Saturday wasn’t clear (and why would it be? I’m impressed that any of you picked up on this), Reagan turned two! The busyness of life surrounding the event has interfered with any meaningful reflection on the daughter whose gestation was measured in inches of paperwork instead of inches around my mid-section, and in years instead of weeks. Though I did not experience the pain of childbirth on 10/25/06, I certainly experienced pain in the process. When well-meaning people comment that we decided to take the easy way out the third time around I have to laugh. Granted I had fairly easy pregnancies, and one out of two births was very quick, but adoption is undoubtedly the hard way!
But as with any homegrown child, the joy of mothering Reagan has far overshadowed every challenge we encountered. Every fingerprinting appointment, every trip to FedEx, every check written, every hour spent on the phone, every moment away from Alyssa and Parker, every shot, every push of the “refresh” button hoping for an email update, every moment of waiting and wondering about a child – our child – sitting on the other side of the globe, was worth it. I’d do it all again if I had to. (In fact, I’d love to do it again for another child, but that’s a story for another day!). In the way that I am confident God put exactly the right sperm and egg together to bring us Alyssa and Parker, I know He hand-picked Reagan from all the children in the world, to be our daughter. From the beginning she has fit into our family with an ease I hardly dared to pray for.
Our joy only continues to grow with Reagan’s little body. Though she’s still the tiniest thing, she has a great big personality. She is not afraid to assert herself – which she needs to do often with two older siblings in the house – but she is also comfortable being alone. Her deep-throated giggle comes out with ease when Alyssa or Parker are chasing her, but she also loves to sit and play with only dolls to keep her company. Reagan is not without rebellious moments and unnecessary whines, but is quick to say I’m sorry (which comes out more like “a-see mama”) and give kisses. One of my favorite things about her is how grown-up she is while still looking very much like an infant. She’s anxious to do big-girl things like use a toilet, walk everywhere on her own, feed herself (including dipping everything in ketchup!)… pretty much everything that her brother and sister can do, but she still wears 6-12 month clothes. I love my tiny baby girl, who’s not such a baby anymore. Happy (belated) birthday Reagan!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Parkerism passing...

Parker is a talker. No matter what other chaos is reigning in our home or in our car, if Parker has something to say, he'll keep saying it until someone is willing to listen. He (almost!) always has a kind word for his sisters, and randomly throughout each day will tell me how much he loves me or how pretty I am. He talks to and about God as a friend. But as much as I love what Parker says, I might love the way he says it even more. His enthusasim for everything keeps his volume level permanently set at 10. His big brown eyes accent every request with a sweet silent pleading that is difficult to refuse. And he still hasn't learned to pronounce "r"s. Until today. This morning my boy, describing his trip to a kids "musaum" with his grandparents, said the word "ARK" loud and clear. It's a milestone I knew would come (there isn't anything particularly cute about a grown man mispronouncing things) but have long dreaded. My days of hearing Parker refer to himself as "Pa-ka" I now know are short in number. I'm going to miss it.