Saturday, May 18, 2013

Easton Dee

Last summer, a very special birth took place. Our youngest daughter and her husband knew for many years that they wanted to raise a family together, and raise those children to bring glory to God with their lives. But as so often happens, their timetable and God's were somewhat different. After several losses God blessed them with their precious son, Jonah, who joined their family at one month. And what a delight he has been!! And then because God delights in blessing His children, in June of last year, our daughter gave birth to precious little Easton. He is a roly-poly bundle of giggles with a whole lot of hair. It is such a joy to see these little brothers together. God has been so good to our family, and Easton has been icing on the cake!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

2013- A Busy Time of Life

While looking for some pictures, I checked back on my blog and was surprised to see that it would have been one year, this Sunday, since I last posted. How did that happen? So I'm going to play the game of "catch up" over the next several weeks, in an attempt to remember all the many ways God has blessed us over a twelve month period. This year has been full. We have dealt with some of our most difficult challenges and have celebrated such incredible joy as a family. God has been faithful through it all.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Beach Pics

Beach Vacation 2012

This year we received a special gift from our son-in-law. He blessed the entire family with a week long vacation in Destin, Florida. He chose a home which would allow us all to spread out, which is not easy with a family as large as ours...and still growing. There were 21 of us total. All six of the children, their four spouses, and seven and 7/9 grandchildren. We were even joined by Earl and Lora for a couple of days, along with my niece, Jaime. The days were spent visiting on the beach or at the pool, taking walks in the evenings, discussions out on the balconies, shopping at the outlet mall, and several "date night" getaways while there were family members to keep an eye on sleeping children. Katie baked all the breakfasts, snacks and too many pies to count. We all shared a meal together at the Mellow Mushroom and Pompano Joe's. Each of five nights was assigned to a different family, so that no one family was overburdened. I am grateful for a family of good cooks. Babies were passed around, read to, sang to, and cuddled by one and all. And being reminded of our newest soon-to-be grandson's arrival, only weeks away, by some seriously cute maternity clothes:) Great memories were made, and a lot of laughter shared. One night we gathered in the living room and sang together, and Terry spoke to us all, reminding us of what makes us a family. The Lord knit together these 21 individuals, with their unique quirks and differences, and brought us together into one body. We are the body of Christ, and all we do we do for His glory. When we fail, and we fail often, He forgives us and renews us and strengthens us,and we continue on. I can not imagine going through life without the family He has blessed me with. I love each and every one of them, and I pray that whenever we are able to be together again that we will  continue to be an encouragement to one another, and that we all will leave spiritually uplifted and renewed. We have experienced enough of life to know that we can only be grateful for today, because we do not know what the future holds. But regardless of what difficulties may come, we know who is in control, and that He blesses those who diligently seek Him. Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, o what a foretaste of glory divine, heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

Maria's Dance Recital

When I was a little girl my sisters and I took ballet lessons from Sulik School of Ballet in Jacksonville, Florida. In exchange for free lessons, my mother sewed the costumes for the recitals each year. I loved ballet. I loved the black leotard and pink tights, and the smell of new pink ballet slippers. I loved watching my mother sew on the pink satin ribbons for the recital, and how we wet the knots to keep the knots tied during the dance. I loved wearing my hair up in a bun for the big night. I remember our costumes- Karen's blue gingham picnic dress, my can-can, the scottish tartan, the Chinese girl, the beautiful blue tulle skirt. So this is why, when my daughters were little, they also took ballet. Katie and I caught two busses in Florence, Italy in order for her to dance at Accademia dei Piccoli. They have been around for over a hundred years, and I loved walking up the winding staircase and looking at the pictures of recitals in the early 1900's. I loved the piano and the little girls all lined up to enter the room with their little pink leotards with pale pink silk skirts, woolen leg warmers, pink slippers, and little pink wool wrap sweaters to keep them warm in this old, drafty building. I bought Katie a little bag with "danza" embroidered on it for her to keep her slippers in. away from little brothers and sisters. It was a special time for just the two of us- unusual when you are the oldest of four. Sweet memories. And now, the years have flown, and Maria now carries this same little dance bag of her mama's. Terry and I made a special trip two weeks ago to our granddaughter's first recital. She was a lovely butterfly in Noah's ark. She was beautiful and beamed throughout her performance. I am grateful for a studio that emphasizes the innocence and purity of childhood. It was a precious performance. Afterwards we all went to Aunt Kathi's house for a special ballerina tea. Kathi, having shared my ballet memories, made new ones for my Maria. Special iced cakes, ballerina napkins, and pink punch. Perfection! We bought her a music box and necklace to mark the special occasion. You see, Maria is also one of four little ones. And it is so easy to get lost in the crowd of a big family, no matter how wonderful and special they are. So for this one day, it was all about Maria and her ballet slippers. Ballerina Girl, you are so lovely...

Bourton-on-the Water

Since I was a very young girl I have loved to read of life in other lands. It all started with Mrs. Timmerman, my fourth grade teacher. On Friday afternoons, after lunch, she would enter the room with a new book, dressed as a character from a different country.Sometimes she even baked a treat which was common in that country. I was hooked. My favorite book became "If I Was Going", which followed the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders as they travelled the world together. God has allowed me to live in three different countries, and during my years abroad I learned to love England. The only books or magazines I could read for a long time were from England. I learned to prefer the "British Edition" of Country Living and Good Housekeeping. I read "Aga Sagas" (books set in rural English countryside in which the homeowners had Aga stoves to heat their cottages). And for many years, Terry and I would fly to London from Florence, and spend every penny we had saved, for four or five wonderful days together. We would enjoy the theater, shopping, tea at Fortnum and Mason, etc. During those sometimes difficult years, England was where we went to be restored and rejuvenated. Thus, this Spring, when we needed a place to go for two weeks while our students were traveling, we made the decision to rent a cottage in the Cotswalds for a week. Well Cottage is in a delightful little village, just north of Oxford. We took the train from Paddington Station to Moreton-on-Marsh , and then a taxi to Bourton. During our week here we walked the Public Footpaths, enjoyed scones and cream at teatime each afternoon, explored the cemetery, visited Model Village, cooked, celebrated Easter, visited the local Anglican church, and played many games of Nertz with the boys. The boys and Terry had boat races (boats made from stale Ciabatta bread, leaves and sticks) down the River Windrush. We wound our way through an old English maze, where a jewled dragonfly was found in the mouth of a golden frog.We spent rainy afternoons curled up with good books and hot tea. It was a magical week in a sixteenth century cottage. It will be hard to ever top this time away as a family. It felt like such a gift at the end of a busy semester away from friends and family. And I am so grateful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

London 2012

As soon as our students were all safely on their free travels, Terry and I and the boys caught a plane to England for ten days. We flew into Gatwick on EasyJet on Wednesday afternoon and picked up our rental car to drive to our hotel closeby. Driving on the left side of the road about did me in:) Well, actually Terry driving:) We arrived at our hotel and decided to stay there until Saturday. It was a wonderful older hotel which had the feel of an old home in the countryside. We went for walks in the nearby small town to buy some groceries for snacking, and the boys enjoyed the spa pool several times.We caught the train into Paddington station on Friday and spent the day sightseeing and returning to some of our favorite areas. We rode the double decker tour bus, took a lunch cruise down the Thames River, saw the amazing Easter egg display in Covent Garden--and, of course, shopped:) Cath Kidston is one of my favorite shops, and I saved all my shopping for here! I bought a new sewing box, handkerchief, soap dish, bag, etc. It was so much fun. We headed back to our hotel for our last night, knowing that the following morning I would be marking a checkmark next to my longtime dream list...