Monday, June 22, 2015

mountain days

Last Sunday we enjoyed a special outing day with the two families with whom we worship.  We drove out for a day at this magnificent state park for worship and fellowship together.  How amazing to live just an hour from this beauty!!

(And as for web etiquette and protocol... I'm sure I'm blowing it with way too many pictures.  Sorry about the overkill, I'm just thinking of the Grands here :)

This guy is continually building a fort these days...  I love how he's a planner, builder, designer.  I love Isaiah! 

And I love his daddy!  #mostwonderfulhusband  #smittenforever  #wifeforlife  #onlyalittlebitgushy

(the green grass was showing up as greenish skin so that's why I went with BW for this one!)

Have I told you she has a goofy silly streak?  She was tickled about something and kicked her feet and laughed herself crazy in the hammock like she was a regular little monkey.  She's a treasure!
heading home
they played hard 
And as the kids snoozed after their glorious day of play, Matt and I hunted for a place to stay out there by the mountains.  We've been feeling a great need for rest.   Surprisingly and super gratefully we found a little countryside inn to stay in (think Chinese bed and breakfast / hostel combo) that hit the spot.  Completely a provision from the Father for us!  So I washed up all our dirty laundry Monday and we took off again Tuesday morning to stay two nights in this sweet little place... This was our last chance for a summer break because Matt is coaching baseball Mon-Thurs and double headers on Saturdays all summer long.

It was a perfect Rest & Relaxation trip for our family and it even covered my birthday- an unplanned but delightful treat!  We just walked around our place, checked the mountains nearby in the mornings, picked wildflowers and let the kids ride bikes (Matt dismantled and squashed two bikes into the back of our van so they could take turns).  In the afternoons, for the first time ever!, Matt and I talked long and worked on writing some letters and a paper he's got due while the kids played by themselves and (kind of) gave us time alone.  It mostly, really worked!  And we got yummy Chinese food cooked at the place by the super sweet grandma who ran the inn with her husband.  Gracious gift for this tired mama!  First time for a truly restful family getaway.  I couldn't be more grateful!

His big brother's bike is just a bit big for him, but he made it work!  (and those are the mountains we looked right over...just beyond the flatlands where we stayed)
hide and seek in the wildflowers.  (Matt's shot)
Can you believe how perfect a hand me down bike this is for our girl?  We have super generous amazing friends!

"our place" in the country, near the mountains, the getaway that we love...

Matt spent quite a while trying to fix a bike that belonged to the grandson of the innkeepers.  It was a valiant effort... but the "fixed" chain only lasted a block.

the sixth...

We got to celebrate our little big boy's birthday with a Pilot Party.... thanks to the amazing grandparents who sent a package of toy planes and cool Auntie Heather who found kiddo aviator glasses and a fun piloty shirt.

We folded and folded and I'm still finding more folded paper airplanes and most the evening was spent trying to hit targets or to shoot planes out of the air with the nerf gun that Isaiah and Marian bought for John.    It was a silly fun evening all around!

Happy Birthday John! 
Auntie Heather, you rock.  He *Loves* these Glasses!
you can hear that sound effect, right?
eyes on the target

We love you crazy much sweet boy John Timothy! I'm so proud of how you're reading, how you care for your little sister, how you listen to read alouds and sermons even when I think you're a million miles away.  I love how silly-goof-ridiculous you are sometimes (a lot of times) and how great a little athlete you are.  You are a joy to watch growing up to know and love the Lord.  Our hearts most earnest desire for you, son, is that you would cherish Christ and cling to His Word and serve His church with everything in you.  May your life be richly satisfied as you seek first the kingdom of God...  We are for you and love you endlessly.  Mom and Dad.  

flower girls... and one handsome little man in a suit

on the way there...  nervous and excited more than words can tell

my little wedding party
We just love this bride and her maid of honor as much as can be!  On the left is Isaiah and Marian's math teacher and the bride is their Chinese teacher.  So special for us to get to be at this celebration with both of them!

I was surprised how western looking this wedding was.  But there were still lots of traditional elements to the wedding too.  In fact, this wasn't the wedding ceremony but the reception, the celebration, after the imams had already performed a prayer service that was the real wedding earlier that morning.  We hung out with the bride and her friends in a top room at the reception until a few hours in, when the groom came in, brought her flowers and walked her downstairs to where all the grandparents were waiting to receive them and bless them.  Then there were a few more hours of dancing and feasting....  (We actually didn't get to stay that long but that's another story...)

waiting for the groom

Here's the guy who wanted to play baseball with his big brother this afternoon, until his buddies handed down to him a suit that they had worn in a few weddings previously.  That changed everything for him.  Not only did he get a suit, but shoes too, and a tie that matched the maid of honor!
coming downstairs to the reception hall
the girls were very serious about their job of laying down flower petals...
and also very sad about having to give back the baskets when they were done!
 We're excited to get to see this marriage grow for this precious young couple.  We love them and pray God's grace and help and joy for their new lives as one!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


So... I'm too far behind to try to quantify it.  I thought I was about 2 weeks, which would mean I maybe had a few hundred photos.  But it turns out there were 1, 744 photos waiting for me.  It's been more than a month since my camera's shared it's treasures.  It's been a busy, wonderful, hard month.

Finally, here's a bit of our best memories to share... more pics coming in the next few days hopefully!

Children's Day was a bit too much pressure for Vivi... just standing in front of the mob of proud parents all watching their kiddos receive their good attendance certificates about did her in.
his class did a yellow pom-pom dance number...  can't say it was his proudest moment but he made it through 
the director of their preschool loves these two
eating popcorn with the pretty princess, precious friend and legend extraordinaire...  our little neighbor & Vivi's best friend from school
Children's Day afternoon we had a whole crew of cool kids here playing.  The girls got creative with hairdos and dances... 
...and the boys made battles of one kind or another.

(And this mother called them all Wild Things.)
salsa making...  just thought it was pretty  
sleeping late
This boy is  consistently the latest sleeper of our crew... except for that time when he woke up soon after the sun (is sunrise this early everywhere?!  it's about 4:30 AM here now!) to play with the crazy amazing birthday gifts he received.  Come to think of it, this just might have been day #2 of his sixth year.  Birthday photos coming soon...
To say that this day was a highlight for these kiddos is a ridiculous understatement.  That we got to be there and be a part of honoring and celebrating this bride with her groom, and even her maid of honor (our big two kiddo's best-ever Chinese and math teachers) was an incredible joy for all of us.  I have a whole post of photos to share from this magnificently beautiful celebration.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy Father's Day Matthew Love

Here's the Daddy of this crew that we're wild to get to celebrate tomorrow... down beneath the heap of laughing, tired out kiddos.  He's one gloriously loved, tickled-out and still triumphant at wack-tackle-battle daddio.  That I get to be married to this man is shocking and thrilling to me still.  


Friday, May 22, 2015

On Pretending to be a Waffle

You've heard the saying before, haven't you?  "Men are waffles.  Women are pancakes."  I am a perfect pancake.  

I have a list of posts I’ve wanted to write for many months.  My big two graduated from 2nd and 3rd grade homeschool last night (we hosted a very fun Chinese performance and graduation celebration at home) and this morning is finally a morning off, extended time for me to write.   But my pancake heart is spread all over with the news of the evil of the IS (I don't even want to give them the honor of naming these two countries they're devouring as "theirs").  I'm going to devote most of this morning to that topic, but I will try to waffle off just a few tiny bits of me to scribble down a few other thoughts and things that have been happening on the homefront too.  

For a tiny recap of our 2nd and 3rd grade graduation celebration, you can check our homeschool blog post.  

For some words that are helpful and challenging for being the kind of woman that will care boldly for both my home full of little loves and for the world full of so many, so needy for love, (and what of the IS who need some discipline to clamp down on them!?), here's more from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in Gift From the Sea.  

"If we stop to think about it, are not the real casualties in modern life just these centers...the here, the now, the individual and his relationships.  The present is passed over in the race for the future; the here is neglected for the there; and the individual is dwarfed by the enormity of the mass.  America, which has the most glorious present still existing in the world today, hardly stops to enjoy it, in her insatiable appetite for the future...  The here, the now, and the individual, have always been the special concern of the saint, the artist, the poet, and- from time immortal- the woman.  In the small circle of the home she has never quite forgotten the particular uniqueness of each member of the family; the spontaneity of now; the vividness of here.  This is the basic substance of life.  These are the individual elelments that form the bigger entities like mass, future, world.  We may neglect these elements, but we cannot dispense with them.  They are the drops that make up the stream.  It may be our special function to emphasize again these neglected realitites, not as a retreat from greater responsibilities but as a first real step toward a deeper understanding and solution of them. " (p 126-127)

And here's a little load of photos of the girls...  (my sweetheart boys are less excited by photo opps.  I'm going to keep working on them though!)

their flower girl dresses for early next month... they could. not. be. more. excited.

we got to babysit this cutie!  Such a treat for our whole crew to get to enjoy this sweetie pie!

I love how Marian's doing the mom thing of opening her mouth to try to get the baby to open up.  

Vivi's best friend.  This little girl has charmed all of our hearts....  just love her!  

and her dress twirls... I mean it really twirls.  Her mama told her that she went right home after getting picked up from school so she could get her twirliest dress on to wear over to our house for dinner.  No wonder Vivi's so devoted to this sweet pal!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Aiming high

Be Peacemakers... not Problem Makers.  

It's been plastered on our fridge for many moons of their lives.

But it took Mrs. Piggle Wiggle to help me finally realize that our little crayoned phrase just doesn't pack the punch.

When Nicholas Semicolon's mother called the woman who knows children best, to ask how to help her son who was bullying all the kids in the neighborhood, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle shared with her the wonder of Leadership Pills.

Now to be sure, the kids and I debrief after almost every chapter of Mrs. PW.  She doesn't deal with the heart one bit and the Gospel isn't what she's preaching and we are aiming and praying desperately to do both those things well.  But she's witty and the kids in the stories with her are Haaaa-larious and there've been quite a number of good discussions about issues she's brought out for us.

So these magic Leadership Pills hit the spot for Nicholas.   Turned him into the neighborhood fix it guy, who transformed a shed in the backyard to a kids' clubhouse where he got to host and teach and work with all the kids to serve and bless their community... and have loads of cheer and goodies.

Well, it's turned out at our home too...  the lesson of leadership sparks these hearts that are prone to bickering and complaining and fussing with a compelling vision of honor and excellence and virtue.  To me, being a peace maker sounds heavenly, but I guess it might sound a little limp in the hearts of my adventure seekers?  Leader...  now that's the stuff of dreams.

(Maybe being a peace maker will motivate them somewhere around the time that they want to practice piano simply for the joy of making more creative, excellent beauty?  May it be soon, Lord!)

This week we've talked more about what it means to lead others with kindness, to bless others, to be the kind of helper-servant-leaders that put other's needs above your own.  We talk about these character traits every day... but I don't think I've talked long about being leader... just never have emphasized that.   It's been a joyful shift for both me and the kids this week.  Our big guy took my little talk at the breakfast table like rocket fuel and set out on a course of helping and blessing his mama and little siblings for such joy.

Matt's been gone this week and it's been sweet to see our kids come alive with my need and their responsibility in our home, to care for each other and help me while daddy's gone.

I've also adjusted my ordinary aim for a clean home, ready for hospitality.  I've known we won't be as busy as normal hosting guests so this week I planned on the house getting messier... staying a bit messier.   We've aimed for some extra intentional joy seeking.... and it's been found.  All this "lowering" of standards has meant for high joys and happy hearts in simple places, simply being together.

(so it was quite a squeeze of a hug from the adoring stranger lady)
always after a dandelion
picnic bliss
(and his mama is almost speechless... lost between smitten and embarrassed for that wagging tongue!)
Has there ever been a lovelier bed of weeds?

speed // together
He grew (what seems like) at least an inch last week.  And he's been eating 4 times normal portions for the past month...  we knew it was coming!

We've gained a high reward as we've gotten to practice embracing the mess and seeking to serve and enjoy each other rather than attend our energies to more pesky stuff like shinier floors, nicer meals and taller stacks of dishes.    I'm liking the idea of more days off like this in our normal routine!  

So grateful for grace this week...  from our abundant King of Grace, for us needy, weary ones.    We've made it through 4.5 of the 5.5 days Matt's been gone and it will be an even happier home tomorrow night when daddy's back with us!