This morning Greg hopped out of bed with a surprising and uncharacteristic spring in his step. I rolled over and glanced at my phone - 6:32 am. Huh? Greg is not exactly an early riser if he doesn't have to be.
Something was fishy.
But the house was quiet and the kids were asleep, so I didn't want to waste the opportunity for a long uninterrupted shower by asking questions. I figured he just wanted to get a jump start on finishing the garage unpacking.
Forty minutes later, there was a knock on the bedroom door, and this is what greeted me:
An impromptu Mother's Day celebration, since last week was so hectic.
Am I blessed or what?
I am beyond grateful for the five special people God has given me to be my family.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
An Open Letter to the Family Moving into our Home:
As I sit here typing these words, I'm perched, feet up, in one of my favorite spots in this house, looking out the big windows in the living room to the little world that's been mine for the last seven years. I just watched the mail truck putter past on its daily route, the familiar cadence of the accelerating motor, the tapping brakes, and the click of each mailbox opening and closing like an old song to me now.
I sit here in the quiet and realize that there are things that I want to tell you.
I want to tell you that the two dogwoods that flank the front walkway will bloom in the end of April, and when they reach up over the dirty cement below like a bride on her wedding day, the house will look completely different. You'll be able to see them, resplendent with white blooms, every time you walk past the living room and the blue bedroom upstairs. Notice them. Appreciate them. You only get about ten days each year with them, and I don't want you to miss it.
I want to tell you that the sidewalk out front has some character. Be careful as you teach your children to ride their bikes, but don't be too cautious - learning to pedal over those bumps will make them brave, and soon you'll be letting them glide all the way to the holly bush four houses down.
I want to tell you that the back deck is like a tree house in July and August. Put your babies down for naps and do nothing but sit out there and listen to the breeze for an hour every afternoon. Bring a book if you'd like, but it will sit unopened in your lap. The singing birds, leaping squirrels, and clicking woodpeckers will lull you into the sweetest of trances. I learned to be still on that back deck.
I want to tell you that the best place to spy on your little ones is at the kitchen windows by the sink. Sound from the back yard carries surprisingly well up to those four narrow windows, and you can hear their little conversations word for word. It was there that I discovered that my daughter has a deep empathy for others as I listened to her console a sad friend on the trampoline. It was there that I learned that one of my sons was having trouble telling the truth. It was there that I began to see that the grueling work of homeschooling four children might just be worth it as I listened to them laugh and play and explore together the way I've always hoped they would.
I want to tell you that there's a little fort in the woods that my twins discovered when they went on a "hike" in our backyard. It's littered with rusty beer cans and cigarette butts from the naughty teenagers who built it. Shuffle your curious little guy right along, but go back later with your husband and check it out. You'll laugh at all the junk they've got in there. It will make you feel young again.
I want to tell you that the grins on your children's faces will be worth every moment of humiliation if you choose, as I did, to lead the annual neighborhood Halloween parade around the island.
I want to tell you that the best place to take back-to-school pictures is in front of the big oak tree in the middle of the yard. The ring of hostas that I planted there when I was six months pregnant with the twins are a defiantly bright green in the end of August, a beautiful backdrop for smiling children and colorful knapsacks.
I want to tell you that your quest for "no bath" nights will be futile from May through September. There are voyages of delightful discovery around every corner of the yard, and they come at the cost of dirt-covered fingers and toes.
I want to tell you that we loved this home. God was good to us here. We proudly brought three of our four babies through the red front door and carried them up to their nursery. We watched our oldest learn to ride her bike out front, and our three youngest learn to walk in the kitchen. We taught ourselves to miter trim and lay ceramic tile and change out toilets in this home, because we couldn't afford to pay someone to do it for us, and we wanted everything to be lovely.
I want to tell you that there's a part of me that longs to sit here a while longer, to mourn for all that won't be for our family within these walls. As God would have it, I don't have time. My six year old wants to show me his new soccer trick, and my toddler's little voice is beckoning from the monitor. It's time for me to go and keep living my life, and time for you to arrive, and keep living yours.
I've heard you are a sweet, kind family, and that brings me great peace as the last box is packed and the lights are turned off on our time here.
I pray that your years here, however long they may be, will be filled with laughter and joy.
Ours surely were.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
Thursday, May 9, 2013
This week has been full of bittersweet moments... Lots of special time spent with special people. I didn't have my camera in tow for every sweet moment, but I managed to get a few pictures...
Chloe had one last playdate at our house with her besties. These girls are her dearest friends. Their moms are my dearest friends. They have been at each other's birthdays, first and last day of school parties, and holiday celebrations for as long as we've had them. They've been in and out of countless princess dresses as they've twirled and giggled around each others' homes. They've held each others' brand new baby brothers and sisters. I refuse to be sad that we're leaving them, because the fact is, we've got a tie that will bind our hearts and lives forever. I am convinced each one of these girls will be dancing at Chloe's wedding someday. We love them dearly, and will be friends with them forever.
On Sunday night we had our dear friends the Reaochs over for dinner. Ben is the pastor of our church, and Stacy was the person God used to bring us there in the first place. We have loved getting to know them better over the past year and a half, and they have been amazing encouragers and prayer warriors for us in the past few months. We are so grateful for them and their sweet family.
Yesterday we spent at the park with a handful of our closest friends. We love them all, and can't wait for them to come and visit us in Rochester!
Last night I went out with some dear friends from my old church. We have shared laughter, tears, and awesome testimonies over the last seven years. I am so grateful for each on of these girls.
I will remember you.
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by...
Weep not for the memories.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
It's gorgeous today. We woke up and pencils were smokin around here as we plowed through math, spelling, and reading. Then our great friends came over for lunch and a chat, and it all went downhill from there. We were supposed to do grammar and a wee bit of Latin.
Instead, I taught the kids the electric slide and the YMCA in the kitchen.
It was way more fun.
"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it." - Anne Shirley
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Last week Chloe and I spent our Friday afternoon at the ballet with friends.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's rendition of Cinderella has greatly inspired our Chloe, and she's been twirling through the house in all manner of tutus and princess regalia ever since.
Especially fantastic was the orchestra! The Nutcracker Ballet is danced to a prerecorded soundtrack, so this was the girls' first time seeing a ballet danced to the music of a live orchestra. All of the girls are beginning music lessons of one sort or another, and it was really cool to be able to show them the top musicians in their city as they rehearsed before the show. With enough practice, some day they could be in the pit!
They watched, transfixed.
Getting to be a little girl at the ballet is a pretty awesome experience.
Getting to see it through the eyes of those little girls is even better.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I have never been a pie eater. I was always the one at dessert who would pass up the apple pie amid incredulous exclamations such as, "You don't like pie? Who doesn't like pie?"
I don't like pie. I'll take just about anything over pie for dessert - even fruit, and that's saying a lot, people. But last summer I discovered that there is actually a pie that I cannot get enough of. Every time I take my first bite, I think the same thing: this tastes like summer on a plate.
The best part is that it's incredibly easy.
Aunt Grace's Pie Crust:
Mix 1/2 cup shortening, 3 T boiling water, and 1 t cold milk in mixer with whisk attachment on high. Once well mixed, add in 1/2 t salt and 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups of flour by hand with a fork until just mixed. Roll out crust between two sheets of wax paper. Do not overwork the crust! Gently place in a pie pan. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 8 minutes and let cool.
Meanwhile, wash a quart of fresh, ripe strawberries and dice. Place half of the diced strawberries into the cooled pie shell, and mash the rest.
Put the mashed berries into a pan with 3/4 c sugar and bring to a boil. Dissolve 3 T cornstarch into 3/4 c water and add to the boiling mixture. Return to a boil and then simmer on low for about ten minutes or until thickened. Pour over the diced berries in the piecrust and chill several hours.
When you're ready to serve, mix whipping cream on high in your mixer until soft peaks form, and serve each delightful slice with a big dollop of the whipped cream on top.
And there you have it... a small slice of summer, right in the middle of spring.