Thursday, August 27, 2009

While the big kids are at school...

While Benjamin and Catherine are at school, my little bits are up to all kinds of fun stuff at home. Fun stuff like playing and having snacks, making messes... Now that Anna is a little older and much more mobile (though not walking independently quite yet), Mary Scott wants her to play with her constantly. And within 30 minutes of Anna going to sleep for nap time, Mary Scott will come to me and say, "Anna told me she's ready to wake up and play with me." It's really quite cute. When they are eating, Mary Scott will pull her chair all the way over next to Anna - chairs bumping each other. She just can't seem to get enough of her! By around 10 o'clock every morning, Mary Scott starts asking if it's time to go pick up Benjamin and Catherine. As much as it stretches me and tests my patience sometimes as I teach my children about loving one another... it's amazingly precious to me to take in the relationship each of them shares with the other. And I look forward to God growing sweet friendships among them as they get older. Lord, I pray they will always look to you to guide them as they figure out how to live and love, and I pray you will always give us wisdom as we help them navigate.

seems like Anna could just take off and walk at any moment

and she has this glorious little laugh and her smile is fantastic!

cruisin' on her hot pink car - she gets on and off now and rides it well

digging in the toy basket... and pulling out every single one, of course

Mary Scott just finished with my hair... now for hers

Mary Scott can pick some beautiful outfits!

just one of the messes...

snack time - yogurt drinks and gold fish... yum

1st Day of School at Sunset Park Elementary

Well, it's back to school for Benjamin and Catherine. The summer just seemed to fly right by us. And how in the world can they be in 4th and 2nd grades?

August 19th was the day and boy was it an early morning. But they both seemed so excited, a little nervous of course, and ready to face the challenges that being at a new school offers... learning where every thing is, making new friends, establishing all the rules. They both had a great first day. Benjamin even said it was, "awesome!"

Thus far, I'm thrilled at how well they are adjusting. And I continue to feel it was the best decision to send them to Sunset Park. I'm praying the year will prove to be an excellent one. I'm so proud of their good attitudes and their eagerness to learn. They're both great kids, and I'm so thankful God chose me to be their mom.

"end of summer" HFG gathering

What a precious group of friends our Home Fellowship Group (HFG) is. It's such a blessing being able to partner alongside fellow believers and encourage one another in this thing called life. We had a great time celebrating the end of summer together. Susan and Mark were so gracious to invite us all to the pool. We had fun swimming, eating and just plain old being together. I think all the husbands/dads had an especially fun time in a little pool basketball game. And the water slide was a lot of fun, too. It was the perfect way to end the summer!

Time at Nanna and Popa's

Benjamin and Catherine had a fun-filled time with Nanna & Popa. In fact I'm not sure they were ready to return home. They visited the Museum of Aviation, went swimming, helped pack care packages to mail to soldiers over seas...they even wrote a letter to us. Receiving their sweet notes in the mail made my day for sure. Sounds like they did well while away - Catherine was really missing us the first night and called crying. Thankfully after talking with her and praying for her over the phone, she seemed to be okay and was fine the rest of the time. Benjamin helped Nanna with some window cleaning to earn money to buy a slingshot... oh how $ motivates that boy.

We were so excited to see them when they returned home on Friday. I'll be honest, having a little break from the constant challenge of training them in how to treat one another offered some refreshment. But I was so ready to snuggle them in my arms and look at their sweet faces. It was nice of Nanna and Popa to bring them all the way home. Catherine was so excited to bring us a gift they had made... a beautiful picture of her and Benjamin in a frame they had decorated with sea shells they found at Jacksonville beach. They also made a yummy cake for us.

I'm delighted they had a great time and appreciate Scott and Cathy taking the time to be with them. And I'm really glad they're home!

A little pink lipstick

While Benjamin and Catherine were away... Mary Scott got into all kinds of fun but missed them desperately. And that foe called FEAR grabbed her every night at bedtime. She hasn't slept in a room by herself since she was 6 months old... she and Catherine share a room. And she loves the chance to go snuggle up in bed with Benjamin for the night. So she certainly wasn't in favor of sleeping all alone in her great big room. Bedtime brought challenges every night. But some of the fun stuff she enjoyed included experimenting with some beautiful pink lipgloss... and boy did she doctor herself up good.

The End of our Vacation

We finished our wonderful vacation with a one night stay with Brian's Aunt Peggy and Uncle Greg who live in Jacksonville, FL. We always enjoy bunking up at their house... Peggy is quite the hostess and entertainer. And never stops short of offering up some most yummy eats. We spent most of our time swimming and having "friendly" competitions of pool volleyball - guys against girls... well almost, cousin Jessica had to humble herself and join the guy's team for sake of numbers and a little fairness. But for the record - the girl's team rose victorious... yes we did. We also got to celebrate a 1st birthday while there - Bailey, their cute little pup, turned one. Thanks so much Peggy, Greg & Jessica for a great time. Only sad but good thing was... when we said goodbye, we left Benjamin and Catherine to go home with Nanna and Popa for the week. And yes, I got choked up, eyes filled with tears - first time I've left my kids for more than a couple nights and even that is rare.

What a handsome boy he is! And I love his expression...

so thankful for the bond these two have

"V" for VICTORY!

and yes, "L" for LOSER!

Benjamin and Catherine enjoy hanging out with Jessica

their pool is like what you'd find at a resort... so nice

happy 1st birthday, Bailey!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm finally sitting down to share the ins and outs of our time at the beach... a mere 3 weeks after returning! And I'm still struggling with how best to document our time at St. Simon's Island. I have hundreds of photos, many of which capture something worthy of sharing, something that speaks to this heart of mine about each of our children. But of course, I wouldn't dare post that many pictures. So I will make a humble attempt to pick the best of the bunch, or at least pick the ones that will in some way tell the story of our vacation.

Once again, as I was packing and preparing our things for our departure, thoughts crept into my mind, doubts if you will, of whether it was possible for our family, with all our sweet little bits, to go away and have a relaxing time at the beach. Thankfully on this side of it, I can attest to the truth that yes we did. This year's trip can't report long naps taken by me or whole books read, but it was a very peaceful time, and even relaxing. The beach just does something to me, as though the moment the sand hits my toes and the breeze brushes against my face, that instantly slows my thoughts and ushers in peacefulness. Maybe that's why I love it so much... plus I enjoy its beauty, its vastness, its colors and textures... it's part of God's beautiful creation that speaks to me most.

Our time at St. Simon's was slow paced and quite simple really... hours spent playing on the beach, swimming in the pool at the condo, shopping in the village, a few dinner outings, a couple days catching up with dear friends. Low key with no agenda is what we long for every year when we go on our summer vacation. It's wonderful, really, the way uncluttered time creates this space for connecting. And I love the way Brian and I can play with the children for hours because the pressures of day to day life at home and work don't travel there with us. Of course, we aren't able to leave all responsibilities behind, but it's certainly a much lighter load, for which I'm thankful. It's become a time each year that our whole family looks forward to with great anticipation and longing. And this year proved to be the quiet, peaceful retreat that each of us needed.

sitting on a huge, old live oak tree... so many beautiful ones on the island - they are protected

captured a good one of all 4 kiddos... rare happening

wish I could hear what they were saying... Lord, let them be the best of friends

so glad to get a good family picture... I made the girl's dresses

one night while out on East Beach, we saw a guy catch a sting ray

famous light house on the island

so sweet, the love between these sisters

our dear friends, Jaime & Greg Davis, and their sweet little Garrison - joined us for a couple of days

one of our favorite traditions is going to this little shop where we all get a shell necklace

I appliqued these shirts for the children - they wore them to dinner at the Crab Trap

does my heart good watching Brian and the kids have so much fun together

oh how they adore one another... in years to come, I'm sure Anna will look up to Catherine

this beautiful sunset was the final salutation our last night at the beach

Brian and Monica... at the beach

I can't begin to capture with words how much Brian and I look forward to our time at the beach each summer. It is one of the highlights of our year. We both welcome the chance to hang out as a big ole family and just play. Most mornings on vacation were spent gathered around the breakfast table reading the Bible together. Then we would head to the beach or the pool. For me, I took in every moment of Brian having a break from his busy schedule at work, and oh how I loved sitting and watching him play with the kids... for me it was priceless. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful husband who is such an amazing father and leader of our family. And I'm so thankful the Lord has given us the opportunity these past few years to get away for several days and enjoy one another. In fact, my best memory of our time there this year was one late afternoon when we went to play at the ocean, I just sat in the sand while everyone else was playing and had a time of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord... it was a real sweet time with HIM. Apart from the shear enjoyment of our beach time, Brian and I returned home with a renewed intention to have meaningful conversation with one another. So often, we get bogged down with day to day things, especially in regard to loving and caring for the children. So we are purposing, with God's help, to connect on a deeper level in our conversation. We enjoyed every moment of our time away and feel so richly blessed and are so thankful for our family.

I love the way Brian acts crazy and has so much fun!

this picture cracks us up every time we look at it... not exactly sure what this stance is for the game of putt-putt