Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Blowing Bubbles


The weather has been so beautiful here in Virginia!  Our first fall and winter are rounding out to be *just* what we like.  According to locals, we might just have snow for Christmas, but we are sure to have it after the new year...


...and Ali appreciates this weather as well.  She loves, loves, loves to take pictures outside - no matter what the occasion!




Sunday, December 04, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree


How lovely are your branches!
We love it!


I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Philippians 4:11-13

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Gilley Takes a Bath


It started by Gilly flying down and helping himself to the salad I was making for myself.
I washed a cucumber to go on the salad and that began...


His desire to get into that water...


Good thing the plate was there!


Friday, December 02, 2011

The Life of a Cat

The basket of pillows and blankets to snuggle-up under when it's cold...


About 45 seconds after I took this picture, the top pillow fell off the basket and down came kitty-cat!

xo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Say Cheeze 2011

Girls thought it was time that I took their pictures since we are half-way through their 16th & 10th year!
We aren't done yet, but this is the first round!







And just for fun - showing their true goofiness!


Monday, November 07, 2011

The Other Side of the Mountain

I love the weekend.  
Specifically Sundays!  And for good reason...
A day spent worshiping the most awesome God, spending time with not only my nuclear family, but also a wonderful family in Christ, soaking in the Living Word of God, sitting next to my hubby and holding hands while praying, listening to my husband sing God-glorifying hymns, and geo-caching.  (An extra perk to Sundays is seeing my talk-dark-and-handsome man all dressed up in suit and tie!)
***
Since we've been pinching pennies a little more lately [and] our church home is quite a distance (over a large mountain) from our house we make a day of it on "the other side of the mountain".  We pack the van with lunch and dinner, games, computers, music books, cameras, etc....
***
Our Sunday actually started on Saturday night this week.  If you recall, Ali and Daniel went out driving (and geo-caching) on Saturday as their time together.  He discovered that evening he had left his GPS on the trail.  We considered going to get it late night Saturday, but I talked him into waiting 'till Sunday morning on the way to church (it was REALLY dark and cold).  The plan was to leave an hour earlier than usual to go get it and that is just what we did.  Piling into the van with homemade breakfast burritos and cantaloupe we were on our way to retrieve Honey's happy meal toy finder!  We were all very relieved it was still out where he thought he left it.  (can you find it?)


While he was out there he couldn't help but take a picture of a pretty little bird puffed-up in the tree above...


Once the GPS had been found and a very thankful husband was back in the van we were on our way towards church.  On the way Daniel and Ali were telling Syd and I the story of the geo-cache they couldn't find at this particular rest area we passed.  Sydney suggested that we go back and give it another attempt, after all, eight eyes are better than four!  In the words of Mr. Incredible... "I've got time..."  (And) it gave him a place to change into his church clothes.  So turn-about we did, back to the *mystery* cache (that we still weren't able to find).  We did indeed give it our best shot - even though it was pretty chilly!


We all enjoyed, regardless!  I wanted SO.... bad to be able to find the cache (that he had not been able to find) while Daniel was changing and be able to say "I found it."  Not sure, but I think that's pride again :o) 


Although there was a matter of irony while there... allow me to set the scene... 
barking dogs, road noise from well traveled interstate, coming and going of all matter of people, screaming children, crying baby, a dozen semi trucks sitting/idling... (insert here - slow motion and appropriate music) good looking man (my husband) dressed in moderately stylish clothing (but still just jeans and sweater) disappears through a thick, steel, graffitied door leading into an old, brick rest area bathroom.  Minutes later emerging:  a distinguished gentleman with a spattering of grey in his freshly gelled, spiked hair, dressed in a Chaps, deep charcoal suit with black dress shoes and white, starched shirt.  Coordinating tie boasting the Lord's prayer. 
Do you see the irony in all that?  
My superman walking toward me and I couldn't get enough of it!
(kind of a take-a-picture-it-lasts-longer moment).
I wish I would have taken a picture right then, but I was too caught up in *the moment*. 
***
Later that afternoon - after we had gone to Sunday school, church, changed, and had lunch we decided to get outdoors once again and hit a couple more caches around the very local area.  Here you'll see Ali (with another of her not-so-serious looks) heading out to the waterfall cache.


We didn't find the cache here either, but it was totally worth the short hike and exasperating sights!


Hey look!  Ali smiled and posed for me!  She must not have been feeling like herself :o)  Isn't she even more beautiful when she puts down the front and smiles?  (btw - she loves wearing her daddy's leather jacket, which, in turn, was passed down from her papa after he passed - she loves them both so much!)


Syd was our little monkey!  She was [primarily] the one climbing up the hills, trekking over by the falls,  looking in the giant tree root system looking for that cache.  No luck with this one either! (ps - she's wearing her daddy's jacket too!  and glowing because of it!)   


So, we tried for ANOTHER cache - with no luck.  This one was located at someone's personal residence, which made me feel strange, but it was going to be an easy a not-so-easy find.
However, this little hobby becomes rather addicting - kind of like McDonald's coke and french fries (so I hear).  On the way back to church, for choir practice, we tried one. more. time.  This time proved to be successful (thank goodness).  We were getting discouraged!  It was an easy one to find - Ali spotted it within seconds and had it open for all to see its contents.  Sydney was enthralled with a specific little finger puppet she found.  We ended up taking the little, red, smiley face thing you see in the box and left a hacky sack. 

 

Ali logged our family geo-caching name (4BE4JESUS) as finding it and we were on our way back to God's house!


The rest of the evening was just as good.  I was able to sit beside and listen to my bff sing in church.  The girls sit with their friends on Sunday nights and Ali played a beautiful rendition of Before the Throne of God Above on the piano for the offertory music.  Those fingers make that instrument sing - I love to hear her play! 
Rather silly, but after hearing her play these, her favorite songs, over and over and over on our piano at home - it still brings tears to my eyes when she does it in the service and glory of God Almighty!
xoxo

Sunday, November 06, 2011

a question of integrity

During my date with hubby last night we talked deeply.  There was some fun, superficial conversing too, but while I had the opportunity I decided to really dive in and ask him some questions that can sometimes cut to the bone.  I picked up on this from an older, Godly lady I revered highly - that had been married for years and years, thinking, for sure, she must know what she's doing, so I employed the tactic.  I do however recall her words of warning/advice that followed the suggestion - be prepared to hear everything he has to say and be swift to put into practice what needs to be - do not linger on the list.
***
Never-the-less, toward the end of our discussion, I asked him the question.  He's accustomed to the question by now, but has not always been.  We've both grown in this question!

"What can I do for you (him) to be a better wife/helpmeet?"

What better way to know than to ask the source, right?  Well, this can be a loaded question!  For him.  For me!  When I began asking this, years ago, I would more often than not get offended.  Not always outwardly evident, but none-the-less, offended - hurt - walking away with my head hung lowly, discouraged!  Boy did the Lord start a work in my heart at this point.  
***
One night it occurred to me that I was being silly.  Besides, what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the other, right?  I mean - why was I [really] asking him this question?  Did it really have to do with being a better wife?  The answer that came back, after some prayer and soul searching, was astounding - pride.
Pride?  What does all that have to do with pride?  Answer:  everything!
When I got down to brass tacks, what I was really asking him to tell me was that I was the greatest thing since sliced bread and I didn't have to change a thing!  yeah right.
Hence, when he thought I really wanted to know what I could do *better* and started making a list for me, I was greatly offended.  WHAT?  I don't do enough for you, ALREADY?  And the list of things I already do FOR him began to materialize.  Yeah, bad-bad-bad!  I was offended, he was caught off-guard, emotions escalated, and many times a list of what HE didn't do for me materialized too.  So, I stopped asking.  Enought was enough!  I didn't want or need to hear a list of what I was doing wrong - a list of all my shortcomings.  Who does, right?  But then the Lord spoke softly when I read Psalm 139.  In one of my fits of anger after this question was answered honestly I was possessed to ask God to...
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
that's when God had His way with me regarding this matter.
***
It was at that point I would have rather had Daniel tell me everything I didn't already do AND everything I didn't do right AND everything he thought I did even worse!  Yikes.  
Pride was brought to the table and I was, all at once, humbled by the grace and mercy of God.  I began to pray, that very evening, for God to allow me to see my husband through His eyes.  And He was gracious to answer that request.  I returned to my husband that very night and did the hardest thing I've ever done.   From the out-pouring of my wretched heart, I sought forgiveness.  Please understand - time after time before this particular occasion I had apologized, but it was merely a passification and no more.  I didn't really think I'd done anything wrong - I just  didn't want the sun to set while my heart was angry.  We'd kiss and make-up and go on with life.  But this time was different.  I had been made aware of my own mire and wretchedness by the Almighty himself and I couldn't help but have repentant heart.  I have such a wonderful, caring, affectionate, providing, supporting, handsome, loving husband and I was treating him like some....I don't know.  Anyhow, I promised him that night not to ask that question again until I was ready to receive an honest answer.  It took some time, but I did ask again and although it was hard and my husband was leery and cautious to answer this particular question again, I took the answer like a medicine and changed what I needed to change - just like that wise lady told me to do so many years before.
***
See here... she knew what she was talking about!  Oh yes, did she ever.  And I suppose it was because she had traveled that same riveted road that I have now traveled.  And she knew what was about to take place - a very difficult change.  When God does open heart surgery, it hurts.  Allow me to remind you, she told me to hear everything he had to say and be swift to put those changes into action.  I can see now why that was her advice.  She could have gone into a lengthy explanation, but she knew, in wisdom, I had to learn for myself.  I wasn't at that point of understanding yet.  However, a bit more explanation might have helped soften the blow!  So, for posterity sake I'll add my own explanation.
***
First she told me to listen to everything HE had to say.  I now understand this portion was because once he gave me the answer to my question I would begin to read between the lines.  I not only listened to what hubby had to say, but also everything Lori thought he was saying too - for instance - "I would like to have dinner earlier in the evening..."  was translated 'you're being lazy and don't get dinner on the table timely and that's why we don't have time to do devotions and pray - what are you doing all day - sitting around eating bon-bons and watching soap operas?'.  I am my own worst critic and with hubby's suggestion it brought to the  table everything I was feeling about the way things were going as well.  I had been convicted by a few verses in Proverbs and those cantankerous feelings were oozing.  The other thing she told me to do was be quick to put into action the changes that needed to be.  Had I followed this advice I would not have had time to linger on what I thought my husband didn't like about me.  If I had been swift to put those changes in place - I would have gotten the positive feedback from my husband instead of the tearing-down of myself.
This question truly did become a question of integrity.
***
And just like every other sin - the more times I had a victory over it in - the easier it became to do.  And now, after all these years of asking that question, I look forward to the answer.  It has become a quest - to be the best wife I can possibly be.  And...he doesn't flinch when I ask it anymore :o)
***
Please note:  I do not write this blog post as an authority or claim to know all the answers.  My agenda behind writing this is truly just documentation for future generation.  And the testimony I have in Christ Jesus, as He brings me line upon line, precept upon precept, Glory to Glory - in each and every area of my life.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Wonderful Weekend

Today has been wonderful!
It was a day full of mostly nothing, but fellowship.  And fellowship is good.
***
Ali and Syd spent time together
Syd spent time playing outside with friends
Ali spent time (driving & geo-caching) with her daddy
Syd spent time (bug-hunting) with her daddy
***
Mommy spent time with Daddy - we went on a date.  Boy do I love this man of mine!
Actually, our date started last night and ended this afternoon :o)  I love those kinds of dates!
It wasn't anything extravagant, but we were together and enjoyed each others company.  We were going to watch a movie last night, but instead sat on the couch together discussing things that needed to be discussed (current situations, dreams, goals...).  My legs were over his as he scratched them (I love scratches!) and I rubbed the back of his neck (gotta be careful, I've been known to put him to sleep that way).  We must have sat, just talking, for at least two hours, but it sure didn't seem long enough!  
Our date continued this morning.  We slept in followed by a Saturday morning snuggle and then got up and hit the road.  The girls did some scrap-booking and card-making while we met someone that wanted to see the camera.  We've been curious about a couple little shops on the way into town so we decided last night we would take advantage of this trip to stop and see what they were all about.  While in town we stopped at the store and picked up supplies to have picnic style brunch (tabbouleh, cheese sticks, Naked juice, and corn chips w/guacamole).  The company was far better than the meal :o)
***
When we arrived home we found Ali at her usual place, the piano.  And Syd was outside playing with her friends from next door - they were acorn inspectors...

It was so cute to watch them.  They used everything we've allowed them to use in building their "outdoor kitchen".  They were making some sort of dessert with the acorns.  However, they were astonished to find worms in nearly every acorn they broke open so they put them all in the bug box and deemed them "pets".

I'm so blessed to have the ability to share in all these things!
w
Thank you Lord!
xo  

Monday, October 31, 2011

This and That



I happen to go right past a Goodwill on the way home, I figured I should stop and see what kind of goodies they may have.  I didn't find anything that day, but I did experience a pretty funny moment in the parking lot.
***
I was on my way out, unlocking the car door when I saw this amazing looking creature - the "aloha bug" (a name I gave it because it reminds me of a shirt you would wear in Hawaii).  God's creativity never ceases to amaze me!  Anyhow, I happened to have the camera with me - why not take a picture of this distinctly unique bug?!?!  I began taking picture after picture (manual focus on glass is sometimes difficult).  As I was doing this another passer-by noticed me.  And very curiously asked "what are you doing?"  I explained to him I was only taking a picture of a bug.  He slowly retreated and then, like a light bulb finally came on, began chuckling and said "oh!  I thought you were a private investigator or something trying to crack a case."  I responded with - well, I do have kids and sometimes I hold that title too, but that's not the case this particular time!  We laughed and parted ways - and I got my picture!  I couldn't help, but laugh to myself when I got back in the car, sent a text message to Kendra and told her of my "laughable moment", and headed home.
***
Life has been pretty laid-back lately!  Nothing huge to report!  It is SO good to have Daniel back with us.  I feel so blessed that I have such a wonderful husband and really, really great daughters.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the small trials we endure, but in the end I have to (for the sake of comparison) think of all the other parents that deal with SO much more, and I feel, at that moment, humbled and compelled to lift my eyes to Heaven and thank my Father for the mercy He bestows upon us!  Really, we've got it easy - and for that, I'm thankful!
***
Weather here has been up and down, quite literally.  We've experienced snow already, but for the most part we have sun-shining, temperate days to be out in.  In the evenings it's perfect weather for snuggling under the covers.  And what better to go with that snuggling, but a sweet "I love you" whispered in my ear. 
***
Syd has two new friends - little girls - that live right next door and they like to climb the trees.  And Ali - same as always - outdoors with the camera catches those moments!  Unless it's too cold...


Then she stays inside where it's a little warmer! I asked her to pose with a more serious face.  Her response? "Mom, you're always encouraging me to just be me - this is ME!  Seriousness is not me!"   And I couldn't say anything to that - a Selah moment for Mom!

xoxo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

S'mores Kind of Weather

you know the kind...

~ winds blowing that carry the very essence of fireplaces burning and snow in the forecast ~

well, fireplaces have been burning - especially in our home - and what better way to celebrate the coming of winter than the confectionery art of making s'mores?!?!

syd and daniel like the mallows lightly toasted; no more than a rich golden brown.


ali and i, on the other hand, like to make each mallow a raging inferno of colors.  peeling off the outer burn, eating it, and putting the rest of the sugary mass back in the flames for another go (repeating as many times as allowed).  terrible for us, i know, but we all have our vices, right?


 but then, after a few mallows, alone, have been consumed - mom breaks out the chocolate bars and grahams!  fortunately for everyone's tummy, mom only brought home two hershey's bars.


want one?
xo

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

flutter-by

a wonderful sight that fluttered by whilst we were waiting for the girls to finishing ice skating...


Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous 

works.  1 Chronicles 16:9

Monday, October 17, 2011

Girls Go Ice Skating

our home school co-op goes ice skating one day each month.  neither one of the girls has ever been, but had a great time!  (you can see ali in the back right corner of the picture)


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Scarves From Grandma

packages in the mail, without notice, from a loving grandma always make for happy faces and creativity!



thanks grandma!
xo

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trip To Iowa

it seems that it's been so long since i've been here!  
life has been crazy busy and fun and interesting and blessed.
virginia is great - we LOVE it.
once the natural disasters passed and life became *normal* (if that's ever possible) life here in the east became even more amazing.   

**and Daniel joining us has only added to the greatness of it**

we have most definitely decided to NEVER, never, NeVeR be apart like that again.  we've done it twice and said, after the first time, we'd never do it again.  and then low-and-behold we did it a second time and remembered exactly why we said we'd never do it again!

while we were apart the girls and i decided to to make the trip back to iowa.  visiting family (unfortunately, no friends this time) was nice.  my dad is trying his hand at farming these days so he's purchased some cRaZy amount of land - something like 680 acres - and doing the whole farm thing pretty much full-force.  we want land, but i'm not even sure i'd want tHaT much land, however it's beautiful there.  quiet and dark at night and lots of room to breath all the time.


He's done well with it and the girls love to be there, but i'm certain that has nothing to do with the big *toys* he has around the place...


ZERO turn mower.  they liked just playing and it was as close as they've been to such things.


ali was beaming that papa finally decided she was old enough to ride the four-wheeler all by herself.


syd loved being able to be the driver of the bad-boy-buggy too!


they helped papa make fresh venison summer sausage (and we were able to take a bunch home with us, yummy!)  notice syd's attire?  she thought she was freezing, but it was only in the 50's at that point.


and i helped too!


ali's face when papa added the fat to the mixture...


 of course the playing of pool; the stakes?  tootsie rolls and cherry candy slices, what else?


of course all the way there ali had to take many pictures.


since ali is such an amusement park fan (highlight being roller coasters), we decided to pass by one of the great lakes this time back - lake erie so we could go *see* cedar point!


we made our way to the gate's parking office and explaining that we weren't staying just wanting to *see* the park a bit closer the attendant allowed us to drive the road all the way around the park.  we couldn't have been any closer withOUT actually being there!  torment for ali, but she was able to get many pictures to remind of her of where she wants to go in the near future!


this old wagon wheel hung over the dining room table in our family's minnesota lake home for years and years until a recent remodel required it's removal.  it rests aesthetically against one of the barn buildings for a pretty picture now!


we also visited my mother, but she doesn't like to have her picture taken - i don't even attempt it any longer!  we had a nice visit with her too while we were there, with lots and lots of junk-food!  girls are sure that is one of the many perks of going to visit family back in iowa!  grandma pam and papa john with their brownies and cookies and grandma shirley and ALL her *yummies*.

precious memories made and stored away in our hearts, our hard drives (and our HIPS)!
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