family time

Family time

I’m still here, kinda.  On Tuesday we got home from a really nice family vacation at the beach with all our kids, my parents, and my sister.  Lovely fun.  I’ll post more of the pictures below in a sec.  At the moment, however, I’m propped up on pillows in bed with quite a nasty flu, one that one of the grandbabies had on the trip, but that most of our kids haven’t gotten.  Yet.  Might be a bilious next week at the Owlhaven.

Before I post pictures and lie back down for another nap, I wanted to announce the winner of that lovely book The Nesting Place.  It is commenter #43 Tina who blogs at the Miles Clan.  Congrats, Tina!

And photos.  It truly was a precious week with all our kids around us. We took close to 1000 pictures, but here are 40 of my favorite.

Yachats (6) Yachats (2) Yachats (9) Yachats (38) Yachats (16) My momma Clamming Yachats (36) Yachats (15) Yachats (19) Yachats (10) Loving the water Yachats (17) With my sister Sophie Ben Yachats (25) Yachats (14)  Stories and naps Keisha Yachats (24) Yachats (5) Heceta Head lighthouse My baby Yachats (3) Emily Yachats (13) Yachats (11) My dad Moody models- and a photobomber Everyone was there, from A and Z Your face is MINE Yachats (31) Yachats (12) Yachats (28) Yachats (26) Yum Doing their best modeling poses

All 21 of us

Moments to treasure

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We’ve had such good, precious moments this weekend.

Sunday morning my heart swelled watching three of our sons help with choruses at church, one on drums and two on guitar. My 14 year old still feels a little awkward up on stage–for all his obsession with the guitar he’s more comfortable behind the scenes. But all three of them truly love music– they’re the type who grab their instruments and play at odd times of the day, just for fun. Music and faith are so important to me– to see that love in the boys too is just the best.

Sunday afternoon all the kids (with grandbabies in tow) came to our house for a meal and a few gifts.  Erika and Israel are spending Christmas with his family this year, so we had the perfect excuse to do some of our celebrating early.

As always, I treasured the time with all our kids here under our roof, older and younger interacting, babies looking around and trying to figure out all the hubbbub. I just couldn’t look at everyone’s faces enough. There are times when some of the adult kids are busy and can’t come to our weekend dinners. I understand that and truly have peace with it. But, when everyone is here, I breathe out and in with an added sense of thanksgiving.

 

Sunday evening was the Christmas program at church.  Our teens mostly had supporting/ helping roles. Since our youngest two are now 8 and 10, their parts were bigger than they’d ever had been before. They did a great job– knew when to come in and go out, enjoyed working together with their friends.

When the tiny kids came out to sing Away in a Manger, complete with rocking-baby and look-up-in-the sky hand motions, I realized it was probably the first year since 1992 or so that we had no one in the tiny-kiddo class.  Our kids are growing. It gave me a little pang, but mostly I felt content. God must be giving me peace about all this growing and changing.  Years ago I thought I’d never be a mom who felt ‘done’ with babies.  But the grandbabies are filling that ‘baby’ space in my heart these days, and when they’re not around, my gangly 8 year old still crawls into my arms. I really am so very content with this stage.

Monday morning I was at Erika and Israel’s house bright and early to drive them to the airport.  They still had a dab of gathering to do, so of course I scooped up little Ranger for a snuggle. I told them only half jokingly that he was actually the reason I’d agreed to drive them to the airport. :) At one point we were snuggled cheek to cheek, with him facing out on my lap so I wasn’t quite able to see his face. Erika came into the room and laughed. She said he had the most smug little contented smile as he sat with his cheek against mine.

“Babies know when people adore them,” I said with a laugh.  And again, that feeling of blessing, rich and warm, wrapped me like a blanket.

Not every moment is good, or easy. This evening John and I got the youngest 6 together for a game of Phase Ten. Cordiality from 14 year olds (we have 3) sometimes feels like a pie-in-the-sky dream. They didn’t want to play games with mom and dad and little sisters. Many unhappy words were mixed in with the game play, lots of stern reminders. And yet we persevered and jollied them up, John and I– me biting back frustration, and John smiling steadily with iron behind his grin. Somehow by the end there were real grins and real laughter, and even the grumpiest ended up feeling cherished, I think.  And that time too, by God’s grace, was anointed with blessing.

Between all the precious golden bits of my life, there are so many hard ones, times full of worry and concern, stress and anxiety. Some days the hard overwhelms me. But when I remember to hold onto the good times, to remember my Savior, and to really see all He has given us, my heart settles back down, gets back to that place of gratitude where balance is so much easier to find.

Never would I say my life is perfect. But oh, we are so blessed.

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PS– Wanna help a widow raise her children with dignity? Check out the awesome new sponsorship program just launched by Bring Love In.

Savor

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The thought below is an especially good one to remember during this precious Christmas season. Today I’m off to make gingerbread houses with my kids and our friends. I hope you do something purely enjoyable in your day as well.

And if you’re feeling frazzled by Christmas chaos and wonder how things could be different or better or more meaningful, don’t miss this challenging post by Jen Hatmaker. Have a blessed day!

thankful

 

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.

And you.


And there are more, including you dear reader– yes, you, the person sitting here and choosing to spend this moment with my family and me. You bless my life with your presence.

The Story of Us

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Last year’s family picture was an exercise in shivering.  We took it at a local park, and with all the time it took to get everyone gathered, then get the shot set up, we were all pretty darned cold by the time the photo got done.

This year when it came time to do our annual family picture, we had two rather simple criteria:  that we take the pictures before it got too cold for the babies to be outdoors, and (hopefully) that neither of the babies would be crying. We decided for the sake of the babies that the easiest place to do the pictures was probably our house.  That way they could stay indoors warm and cozy while we got set up.

After scanning our whole wild wooly 3 acre lot, we decided to drag some logs down to the cow pasture in front of a willow tree that hadn’t lost its leaves yet.  The boys literally had to shovel for cow pies beforehand, to decrease the chances of stepping in something bad when posing. But the end result, I think, is a lot of fun.  It’s especially fun to have our sweet babies in the shot this year!

Photocredit:  Israel Shirk of Avalanche Photography.

Israel also got a few fun pictures of John and me.  This is one of my favorites.

And just for fun, here are links to previous family photos that I’ve blogged over the years:
Our wedding day

Our family in 2005 and 2006

Our family in 2007

Our family in 2008

Our family in 2009

A lesson from chickens

This morning was a busy one.  First I dropped my 10yo daughter off at my friend’s house.  My daughter is trading housework for assistance in improving her swimming form– she adores swimming– and this week she even got to try out Laura’s fun new pool.

After dropping her off I continued on with my 7 year old and one of my 14 year old sons for a trip to the bank and then on to the doctor.  While we waited, my 14 year old read, my 7 year old did math, and I started a new scarf.  After that it was on to one more errand.  Our chicken flock has been steadily dwindling until finally we had only one Araucana rooster and 3 hens–a Buff, a Silky, and an Araucana.  Yesterday I happened to see an ad in the paper for chickens.  The owner was selling 3 month old Rhode Island Reds for $4 each.

We arranged to meet today to take a look at them at the end of our erranding.  The people selling the chickens had lots of chickens in several different runs.  The Rhode Islands looked small for being three months old– they probably won’t lay til spring– but they were lively and healthy looking.  So we scrabbled around the pen a bit and picked a dozen likely-looking little hens.  We chose ten Rhode Island Reds, and two slightly older Buff Orpingtons.  Then we toted them home in a dog kennel.

At home we released them into our dusty chicken house with the four older occupants lurking just outside the door.  The new little hens were instantly pecking and peeping and scuffing around contentedly.  No drama, no terror.  They just set to work, looking to see what goodies could be found in our cobwebby chicken house.

I can’t quite explain why chickens are fun to watch, but I think part of their charm might be the way they always just seem busily happy.  They make you feel like you’ve offered them goodness, and they appreciate it all.

There’s a lot to be said for that approach to life, I decided today.  Unexpected stuff happens.  Days don’t always end how you expected when you woke up in the morning.  Sometimes you take a ride in a dog kennel to a whole new messy world and  get to start all over.  But if it’s going to happen anyway, why not peck around and look for the good bits?

Granted, being human is more complicated than being a chicken, but I have a hunch we’d all be happier if we got busy and spent some time pecking around looking for the good bits in life.

Other good bits in my day:  lovely fall weather, an hour in the afternoon sun spent cleaning garden beds with the kids, zucchini bread and chocolate chip cookies made by my daughters, quiet time this evening with my husband after the kids were off to bed.

What about you?  What were some of the good bits in your day?  Do share.

Your well project!

Long-time readers may remember that almost two years ago on this blog we began a fundraising project with Charity: Water, a great organization that drills wells for people in empoverished countries all over the world.  Our fundraiser total was  $6207!   Seriously, people– that number that still amazes me!!  Thanks so much to each of you who contributed to that total. The pictures below are of the water project that we funded fully, in far northern Ethiopia, in the Tigray region near Eritrea.  One hundred fifty people are served by this well.

Our fundraiser also gave partial funding to two other wells in northern Ethiopia.  If you scroll to the bottom of each well project page, you can see where your own donation ended up being used.  (Some of you donated anonymously, but if you remember how much you gave, you might still be able to see where your own money went.)

I was so touched to see the pictures of our well, and so thankful that so many of you got behind this project with us.  John and I on our own would only have made a tiny difference.  But by God’s grace and through your generosity, together we all truly have done something. Thank you!

Favorite bit of my house right now

John and our teenagers spent several weekends in August repainting our previously white house a cheerful shade of yellow. While I absolutely love the new paint, my very favorite part is our front door. We went with a bright green. 

I loved it so much on the outside that I asked John to paint it on the inside of our front door too.  That way all winter long I can see a bit of sunshine and summertime, even inside my house, reminiscent of  the sunflowers that grow wild at the edge of our driveway all summer long.

 

 

 

Mopeless Monday

On Being a Homegirl

Our eldest daughter has started something called Mopeless Monday on her blog — basically a bit of encouragement to be cheerful about each new week. To play along, go visit her and say hi.  Then write a blog post linking to her blog and answer these two prompts:
Smiles from last week: 
Looking forward to:
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Smiles from last week: 

~~My fun last week included peaches, lots of them!  We made some into pies for the freezer, ate a couple pies right away and also ate lots of fresh peaches. Yum!

~~We also processed pears, and made one of my favorite things:  Cheddar Pear Pie.  The recipe is in my cookbook, but I’ll also share the recipe and a photo here tomorrow!

~~Saturday morning I enjoyed some time alone with our 7 year old while John and the big kids were off wood-cutting in the mountains.  We played cards, read stories, and made lunch together.  It was sweet time.

Looking forward to:

~~I’m looking forward to sending my book proposal off to my agent.  My hubby has just scanned it for typos, which I need to fix.  Then it’s one more read-through and off it goes!  Crossing my fingers that my agent will like it…

~~This week we also begin school– am gradually getting more psyched for it, and I’m working on a school schedule today.

If you want to play along, go visit Amanda and join in.

A wonderful celebration

We had such fun at our 4th of July celebration this year!  For awhile we weren’t sure if all the grown kids would be able to come.  But they all found a way to do it and we felt so blessed by everyone’s presence. Really, these celebrations just seem to get better and better as the years go on.


We started the evening with a barbecue and a picnic out on our pool deck. It was a hot day, but by evening there was a breeze, and between that and the evening shade on the deck, it was really pleasant. The food was what we usually serve on the 4th: burgers, watermelon, bacon-wrapped jalapenos, guacamole, chips and jello. It was so much fun to have two babies to snuggle, and lovely to see our young teen boys growing increasingly comfortable handling them. (You can click on pictures to enlarge.)

After we ate, it was time for games: some that we’ve done before and a few new ones that included popping each other’s balloons with blades of grass and target-shooting at a ladder. Once the organized games were done and prizes awarded, it was time for the crazy part– a wild wet water fight, that ended with most folks jumping into the pool.

As the light dimmed, shivering folks got out of the pool for a dessert of picnic cake and homemade cherry vanilla ice cream. We ate while swatting mosquitoes, jiggling tired babies, and admiring the fireworks from a nearby town that were just visible over the hill. A lovely night.