Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Newborn Baby and Her Family

I had the honor of doing something I love to do the other day.
I got to take family pictures for some sweet friends....and here's my favorite part....
They welcomed a brand new baby girl into the world, just the day before!
I loved working with this family, and their little guy was perfect! He just roamed around loving on his family. It was easy to shoot very natural pictures of them. They were relaxed and easy to work with.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed taking them.
























Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How To Fill An Empty Nest

It's only Wednesday and I seriously feel like this week is actually the equivalent of two weeks instead of one.
It's been a great week, so far, loaded with good activities, but I'm already exhausted!
Could this be a clue that I need to slow down a bit?
This is our first week back in the saddle after vacation, and it went from zero to full speed first thing Monday morning!
I jumped out of bed early on Monday, packed lunches, and loaded up the two younger boys. We drove into town for a shopping trip to the Gleaners, and then descended on our daughter, Brandi's house, to hang out with her and the grandkiddos.
We all had lunch together. The kids played outside in the sprinkler, road bikes, played on the swing set, and had a great time in the summer sunshine
Love the little puppy with the bone ^^ :)
Lunch time!

Jack Jack!

Our granddaughter, Alahna, came home with us for the night and our son, Noah, spent the night with his nephew Kyran.
All packed up and ready to go spend the night at Papa and Nama's house!
We took the Golden Girls for a walk that evening


When we came home, Auntie Natalie made popcorn and we all snuggled up to watch a movie.
Well, everyone else snuggled up to watch a movie. I was busy doing laundry, packing up stuff for lunches for the next day, making kombucha, and doing other various chores. :)
On Tuesday, I was in the shower at 6:30 a.m., and had the kids all fed, dressed, and loaded up by 7:45.  Off we went to Brandi's house where Christine and I took care of nine kids, ten and under for four and a half hours, while Brandi and Brittany worked down at the Gleaners.  The good news is that we all worked off nine hours of volunteer time which takes us all the way through September with our volunteer hours. Wahoo!
The interesting thing about being a grandma long before emptying your own nest, is that you don't forget how crazy life is for moms of little ones.
This helps me understand how important it is to help my older daughters out whenever possible.
For anyone who may need a refresher course on this subject, let me provide just a little reminder:
As soon as we arrived that morning, I took the younger kiddos with me to the store to purchase some breakfast food while Christine held down the fort with the older kids. This included transferring car seats from one car to another, and strapping in an active toddler. What a fun time, though, taking my  adorable little grandkiddos with me. They were so excited about picking out breakfast food with Nama, and their joy over a simple, every day activity, was so refreshing! Gluten free French toast topped with strawberries and whipping cream became the breakfast menu.
Once we arrived back at the house,
Christine kept an eye on the little ones (nine months, 1 1/2 years, 2 years, and 4 years), while the older ones (5, 7, two 8 year olds and a 10 year old, all played in the back yard), and I made breakfast.
Have you ever attempted to make plates for that many kiddos at once? It's like their radar goes up that food is coming and mayhem ensues.
Christine had her hands full with two babies crying, and after settling one of them in the arms of  seven year old, Alahna with a bottle on the couch, she managed to get the other one a Sippy cup with water.  At that moment the two year old came racing into the kitchen, begging to be held as I was up to my elbows with exactly 7,986 various breakfast making activities at once, including tripping over a 5 year old who was currently unloading the dishwasher.
The two year old immediately began to make it known to the entire universe that he was unhappy about not getting to be in Nama's arms in that exact moment.
In the next few seconds, five more kids descended upon the already crazy busy, breakfast making, space to announce that they were hungry, and began begging to know when breakfast would be ready. "Well, if you all choose to stand here and whine at me, it will be exactly seven hours and forty-six minutes, before I can possibly have breakfast ready. However, if you choose to high tail it back outside and entertain yourselves until I can have your plates ready, it will only be about fifteen more minutes," was my patient response.
Somehow between Christine, Alahna, and me, we managed to calm the babies down, get plates filled and on the table, and feed the entire crowd, including second helpings, in a fairly short amount of time. This included feeding my son-in-law who happened to pop in just as we were pulling hot French toast off the griddle. Once breakfast was consumed, Christine took all of the kids, minus the baby who already had his diaper changed, and was down for a nap, outside and kept them busy while I cleaned the kitchen.
Five minutes later (or so it seemed), it was time to make lunch.
We kept that meal pretty easy by preparing hot dogs, carrot sticks, fruit and chips for the meal. This time I served it all on small paper towel portions.
Once lunch was served and everyone who was capable, had helped with clean up, the older kids settled in building Lego creations, while I read books to the younger kids and Christine did a Spanish class.
The cutest little two year old in my life right now, showing off his best berry and whipping cream face:
The crew of older kiddos, enjoying their chips on the swing set

Kyran and Cooper

Afternoon lunch wind down time, watching Veggie Tales with Auntie Christine
I had plans for this morning, but two of my boys woke up with sore throats.
I didn't realize how exhausted I am until it became apparent that I needed to cancel my plans.
In that moment, I realized that while the last two days were good, and yesterday was rewarding because I got to spend time with a bunch of sweet grandkiddos and a couple of other cuties, along with my own kids, and work off my volunteer hours in the process, it was enough.
It's time for a break.
God designed our bodies to need rest, and as a mom, I know how important it is to stop the merry go round and get off from time to time.
My laundry needs to be done.  My house needs to be cleaned. My kids obviously need to rest up and be cared for, and I need to give my body time to recuperate.
 Life revolves in seasons.
Three thoughts come to my mind regarding this subject:

 1. If you have an empty nest and you know some moms with young kids, consider spending time with them. Get to know the kids, and realize what an amazing ministry opportunity you have to love on them, and help out with acts of service and mentoring.
2.  Remember your body needs rest. Slow down as needed, and take time to refuel.
3.  If you are a mom to young kids, embrace any older, seasoned, moms, that God places in your life, and let them help.
It's a gift!~
Accept it, open it, and enjoy it!
Blessings to you!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Celebrating All The Dads In My Life

Today we celebrated Father's Day.
As I sat in my chair thinking about my Dad this morning, I realized once again that I have been very blessed.
I have an amazing Dad who is loving, hard working, hilarious, fun, kind, and very young at heart.
He is an excellent grandpa, and as a Dad, he always told me he loved me, and showed that love by working hard to support our family, giving us plenty of affection, playing with us, teaching us, planning fun family camp outs and vacations, disciplining us, instilling in us a strong work ethic, and responsibility for ourselves and our actions,  teaching us to love others, be respectful of rules, other people's belongings, and of him and my Mom.  He provided us with bicycles and taught us how to ride them, and then gave us the freedom to ride around the neighborhood.  He and Mom provided necessary boundaries, and they were consistent in lovingly holding those boundaries. My Dad gave us the gift of setting an amazing example for marriage by loving my mom through the good times and bad, in sickness and in health, and supporting her in her role as wife and mother. He cheerfully helped with kitchen clean up, vacuuming, laundry.....whatever was needed while they were raising four children. He often came home after a long day at work, and spent time playing with the four of us while she put the finishing touches on dinner. They were a team, and they still are.  The best gift my Dad gave us kids, was to take us to church and teach us about Jesus. We felt loved there, made lifelong friends, learned the scriptures, and adopted many "second moms and dads" there.  We went to family camps in the summer, Dad and Mom both sang in the choir, we children sang in children's choir, we were constantly doing fun and exciting things with other families in the church, and I can remember evenings with Dad, rocking me in the old, gold, rocking chair, while answering my endless questions about the Bible and eternity. 
I miss my Dad. He lives so far away now, that we rarely see each other.
I love watching him with my children and grandchildren. He has always loved babies and kids of all ages, and is so wonderful with them.

My precious parents

Another amazing dad in my life, is my sweet husband.
He is actually very much like my own Dad in many ways. He has an excellent sense of humor, loves me with a priceless loyalty, supports me in my interests, and in my role as wife and mom. He cheerfully helps out with kitchen clean up, and takes care of all the outside responsibilities, cars, etc.  He loves teaching our kids, and spending time with them.  He is a hard worker, and takes excellent care of us, setting an example for our kids that is priceless.  He has set a standard for strong work ethics, personal responsibility, financial responsibility, good stewardship of all we've been provided with, and he is respectful of me, as their mother.
He is committed to taking the family to church, and being involved there. The kids often ask him the tough questions about their faith, and the difficult things they struggle with. He patiently helps them explore these areas.
He's the math whiz in the family.
He has done a great job, even after a hectic, and stressful day at work, of coming home and helping them with tough math home work.
He is not perfect, and we've been through some tough times and struggles, but we are two imperfect people who are perfect for each other.
Rich, I love you more than words can express.
Happy Father's Day, Honey!






An old family picture
I love grandparenting with you, Rich. <3
We've added a few more grandbabies since these pictures were taken, but these are the most recent ones of the two of us with the majority of our grandblessings.

Us with our newest granddaughter, Marlee
We have a total of eight grandkiddos with number nine in the oven. Each of our grandchildren have dads that love them and are very involved in their lives.
Kevin has taught his children strong work ethics, not to give up when the going gets tough, to admit when they are wrong, to respect and love their mother, to respect and love each other, and he is wonderful about giving their mom breaks when she needs to get away. He supports her as a wife and mom, and he supports her in her doula business, picking up the extra slack while she is away at a birth.  He plays with his kids, cuddles them, and gives them security. He, too, believes that taking the family to church and being involved there is a priority. He and Brandi pray with their kids, and make teaching them the truths of the Bible, a priority.
Happy Father's Day, Kevin!  We love you and we're thankful for you.

Micah is a very involved dad, who genuinely loves his kids. He works hard to support them, and cares for them deeply.
We're thankful that all of our grandchildren have dads that really love and care for them.
Happy Father's Day, Micah!



Marlee's Dad, David,  is celebrating his very first Father's Day today.
He is such a sweet dad to her and to her older siblings.
He is kind to their mother, patient, and gentle. He takes time to teach the kids, and to show them they are important. He obviously really enjoys being a dad.
Happy Father's Day, David!


This picture cracks me up. It appears they wore each other out, because you'd have to be really wiped out to sleep like That!

My Father-in-law, John is another dad in our lives that we are truly grateful for.
He and Julie, raised a wonderful son.
John came up and spent Father's Day with us today, and we had a fantastic visit.
I splurged a little on some Copper River Salmon, and the kids bought ice cream for dessert.

John brought these flowers for me.
We took some three generational pictures out in the yard.
It was kinda tough getting all of these crazies to settle down for a good picture, but I think the imperfect ones are the best.
Happy Father's Day, John!
We love you