Posts filed under ‘Family’

A Family Tree for Christmas, Part 3: Including Felicity

Our Christmas tree decorating process has morphed and evolved over the years. Now it includes shedding tears for our family member who’s not with us, prancing around the Christmas tree and getting into trouble.

Our daughter has been with Jesus for three Christmases now.

Most people who’ve ever lost someone they love will tell you that the holidays are particularly hard. So, for people to have the foresight to give these ornaments to us back in 2007… let’s just say, I’m deeply thankful.

We’ve done it differently every year, but this year, the Felicity ornaments were the last to go on the tree. And since there were three, Abraham, Orison, and I all chose the one we’d like to hang.

I don’t want to make our tree a Felicity tree, I just want her there. These three little ornaments are very special to us.

If you’ve ever wondered what to get for someone who has lost a child, I would highly recommend an ornament. That way, it’s not another item they have to find a place for year-round, but when Christmas comes, there’s a ready-made place for remembering.

Our tree isn’t fancy. It’s not pristine. But it’s ours. It’s our family tree.

December 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm 10 comments

A Family Tree for Christmas, Part 2: The Angel’s Story

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

-Luke 2:9

This, my friends is our angel.

I know… she’s filling you with fear right now.

I know… it’s weird. But to us, it’s hilarious. And now… it’s just tradition.

You can’t see too well against the pink bow backdrop, but the angel has some pink netting for wings. And of course, her cotton candy hair.

“What is the deal?” you might be asking. Well, this is an art project my husband did when he was little. And for our first married Christmas, my mother-in-law bequeathed us the box of ornaments she’d been collecting for each of her kids. (Which was a very good thing, because we had neither Christmas decorations nor money to go buy them.)

Abraham’s family grew up not doing Christmas trees (they did a Bethlehem Tree instead). I grew up going out into the field and chopping one down as a family. So the first Christmas we were married, Abraham just didn’t understand why I would want a Christmas tree so much.

But one night, he dropped me off to do some grocery shopping, and said he needed to go run some errands of his own (we shared a car then, and still do). At our set meeting time, he picked me up, but when I looked around for evidence of his so-called errands, I couldn’t find any.

As we got home, we came up the back stairs to our second-floor duplex apartment and started unloading groceries. A few minutes into it, the doorbell rang, and he told me, “Why don’t you go get that?” I remember being kind of annoyed, thinking, “Well, why don’t you?”

But somehow he convinced me and I walked toward the front of our apartment. As I walked into the dining room, there it was…

A Christmas tree, standing tall and proud.

I screamed and hugged him and screamed some more and hugged him. (Oh, and then I got the door.)

It was one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received. So surprising, so unexpected, so thoughtful.

Thanks to Abraham’s mother we actually had some things to put on the tree. But what would we do about the topper? We didn’t have a star (which is what my family always did), and we didn’t have a proper angel.

At some point during my lament about the sad state of our tree and it’s lack of crowning glory, Abraham jokingly placed the little drag queen angel from his childhood at the top. We had a good laugh about it, and decided she should stay.

And she’s assumed the same post for all our Christmases since.

What’s the weirdest thing on your Christmas tree?

December 14, 2009 at 10:47 pm 36 comments

Thanksgiving Knit-Up and Wrap-Up

I’m getting this post up during the final minutes of Thanksgiving 2009!

My mother-in-law posted a video of some of our racous family moments today if you’re curious. (Bonus! You’ll see footage of Morrow walking and dancing. Aaand… you’ll get to see my awesome dance moves during a kiddy dance party with Orison and his cousin Grace.)

I mean, who wouldn’t want to see that?

I decided to finish the night quietly, knitting a pair of mittens for Morrow. The weather’s gotten really cold, really fast! So while Abraham sleeps (the lump in the back of the picture) I post on my blog and knit.

I’m thankful for a quiet end to Thanksgiving 2009.

November 27, 2009 at 12:02 am 9 comments

Compassion Countdown: 4 days til El Salvador!

*Warning: this is a disjointed, brain-dump post as I try to organize my thoughts and life before my El Salvador trip*

In some ways, I’m totally in denial that I’m leaving the country and my family in four days.

In other ways, I’ve been anticipating and preparing. For example, I’ve been trying to make some freezer meals for Abraham and the kids to help them along the way. They should be well-stocked with spaghetti sauce and wild rice soup. I figure if I get one more meal made, that should be sufficient (taking leftovers into account). I mean, I’m only gone for five days. And if they get really desperate they can always order pizza or make scrambled eggs.

I’m going to meet our family’s sponsor child while I’m there! I’m so excited about that. I have yet to get gifts for him and his family. What I learned in our team meeting the other day is to think practically, and to think about the whole family. Toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, deoderant, and maybe some small items like photo albums and little toys for the kids.

I think I’ll get our little guy a soccer ball with a pump for a special gift. That way he can use it with his friends and siblings and everyone can enjoy it.

I had a good idea last night to bring some of my extra stashed yarn and needles along to give away to women/moms there who knit! And if they don’t know how to knit, maybe I’ll give a knitting lesson! Good thing I’ll have a translator! And some things can be done through demonstration, so how cool would that be???

And of course I chose yesterday to paint my laundry room. I am such a random weirdo. I mean, who does that? Apparently I do. I think I respond to stress by choosing to take on more stress. Actually, painting feels more like an accomplishment. So maybe it’s that I take on projects that I can control when there’s so many other things out of control.

And who psychoanalyzes their painting? Apparently, I do.

November 5, 2009 at 11:54 am 23 comments

A Halloween Treat for Y’all

Orison went trick-or-treating for the first time tonight.

I wish I could’ve bottled up some of his enthusiasm and zest as he ran, full-speed, from house to house.

I wish I could’ve apologized to all the people whose doorbells were rung in rapid-fire fashion as he waited to scream “Trick or Treat” with all the excitement a four-year-old body can handle. He didn’t seem to hear me when I said, “Only ring it once!”

He dressed as a cowboy, and he was the cutest little cowboy there ever was.

There’s another pretty cute cowboy in this town, too, and they joined forces for a little croonin’ before bed.

(Yes, they both have *real* cowboy boots!)

Happy Halloween, y’all!

October 31, 2009 at 10:51 pm 22 comments

A Follow-Up on My Last Post: Infant Mortality Video

I watched this video this morning over at the Compassion blog. It seemed fitting, especially since I just posted about the Child Survival Program.

I couldn’t help but tear up, allowing the gravity of the topic to land on me for a few minutes. The reality that 9 million children a year die before their 5th birthday—my son turns five in a few weeks, Lord willing.

For me, having lost a child to something I couldn’t control, it hits even harder. I mean, I can do something about diarrhea. I can help people learn how to sanitize bottles and breast feed their babies.

You don’t have to feel the same way, but this is a very exciting ministry to me.

October 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm 10 comments

Making a School Decision: What Should I Ask?

Our oldest son, Orison, will start kindergarten next fall! We’ve been evaluating our options for a loooong time, and feel like the right thing for him is to send him to school, as opposed to doing homeschool. Perhaps that’s another post.


We’re considering a few different options for schooling. We’ll be looking at a few private Christian schools and a couple public charter schools (classical education). We live in a very urban neighborhood, and feel like the public schools in our immediate area would not be a good fit for Orison.

I’m really new to all this school stuff, so my brain kind of turns to mush when I start trying to figure it all out.

So… do you wanna help me out?

One of the Christian schools is a Charlotte Mason school. If you subscribe to that theory of education, let me know what questions I should be asking, or what I should be looking for at the school.

Both of the public charter schools are Classical schools. Same deal—if you have experience with that model, help me know what to look for or what questions to ask.

I have the book The Well-Trained Mind, but feel really overwhelmed to even crack it open. And plus it’s a homeschool book, so I don’t know how relevant it’ll be for my current search.

And to be honest, I’m a verbal processor. I feel like I learn best through talking! And since I can’t sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with all of you, I’d love to learn from you through a blog conversation.

Thanks in advance for your help!

October 20, 2009 at 11:42 am 74 comments

Felicity’s 2nd birthday (mostly in pictures).

On September 22, we marked Felicity’s second birthday. We don’t do anything extravagant, just things that recognize the significance of the day in our hearts.


At the cemetery Abraham and I try to give each other a few minutes of peace and reflection while we alternate caring for the other kids.


Morrow was alert and aware of his surroundings this year, as opposed to last year when he was one month old. At thirteen months he’s a busy one! He enjoyed the birthday balloon the best, more specifically bopping his brother.


And he enjoyed crawling all over the cemetery (note the filthy knees). He eventually found some goose poop on a veteran’s grave and decided to give it a taste. Abraham used most of a bottle of water trying to flush his mouth, hence the soaked shirt.


My girlfriends had already brought some of these flowers. It was like a welcome banner for us. And it meant a lot to know that they’d been there.


Orison really likes to take pictures, so here’s one he snapped of the rest of us:


Orison kept himself very busy while we were there. He often brings his bike to the cemetery, but this time he had no training wheels! He hadn’t exactly gotten the hang of it until this day, so bad mommy didn’t even bring his helmet (I totally wasn’t expecting him to get it!)

It truly was a special gift from the Lord to have something to celebrate through our tears. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience or something while I watched him—how did I get here? how did he get to be so old? how is it that he’s taking this huge step of independence right before my eyes?

It felt like a launching forward.


Happy birthday, Felicity Margaret. We miss you.

October 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm 33 comments

Movin’ on up!

Last Sunday, just one week ago, we slept in our attic for the first time!!!

Our project is now complete!

I promise, promise, promise that I’ll post pics or a video this week. I’ve been trying to get all our stuff situated. Finding a home for everything is what takes the longest. And with a 13-month-old in tow, things seem to take 13x as long.

We still have some paint touch-up to do. Kelly@LoveWell shared an awesome tip for ongoing paint touch-up that I plan to put into place.

We’re feeling very satisfied with the end product (actually thrilled). Just to have a legitimate bedroom with a door that closes… it’s amazing.

As the project neared completion, I was actually feeling worried about having too much space. But God gave us a sweet confirmation about how to use our space the other night.

A fellow blogger and Twitter friend, Zach Nielsen, tweeted the other night that he and his wife were likely going to be stuck in the Minneapolis airport overnight on their way to the Together for Adoption Conference.

Abraham tweeted him back and said, “If you end up needing a place to stay, call me.” (We’ve met Zach in person before and we share a lot of mutual friends—we don’t necessarily invite any old stranger to spend the night.)

A few minutes later we got a phone call, Abraham left for the airport, and we had our first house guests in the newly-purposed guest room!

We have lots of decorating to do, but that’s easy work in comparison with what we’ve been doing. Most of all, we’re just happy to have all the major decisions made, the heavy stuff moved, and two healthy kids sleeping deeply in their new room.

October 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm 10 comments

Need to trick your kids with new shiny toys? I do!

What kid doesn’t like a new (to them) toy?

My friend Susan wrote a great post about how to keep things fresh for your kids when they start getting the toy doldrums. It’s kind of like the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency solution. I really like her practical (and frugal) suggestions, and I think you will too!

As I read her post I kept thinking, “Yes! It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It doesn’t even have to be new (thrift store, baby!).” But there’s something about a novel, engaging toy that might redeem the day if you or your kids are in a slump.

September 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm 13 comments

A birthday and an almost-finished sweater

On Saturday, we celebrated Morrow’s first birthday. Hard to believe that it was one year ago that he came into our lives.

We had a nice (read: brief) birthday party for him and sang “Happy Birthday” at 12:22pm, commemorating his entry into the world to the very minute. It was sweet to celebrate that. And it was a good thing he wasn’t born at 3:30 in the morning or something!

For me, the weirdest part of reflecting on a year going past is that I haven’t been pregnant for a whole year. For most women, it’s all about getting used to being pregnant and all the changes that entails. For me, I’ve been trying to get used to this whole not-being-pregnant thing. I suppose back-to-back pregnancies’ll do that to you.

For those of you who wanted to see pictures of the completed sweater I planned to knit for Morrow, here he is modeling it in it’s nearly-completed state. Obviously he’s got some growing to do to fill it out! I suppose that’s the reality he lives with when he’s only in the 15th percentile!

But I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I still have to sew the zipper in (I already finished weaving in that long end in the picture).

Anyway…here’s little Morrow Johnner:

Morrow sweater

He’s one of the brighest spots in my life. His sweet little voice, his funny little antics, even his whining… it’s all amazing to me. I’m so thankful that I’ve gotten to be his mother for one year so far. I pray to God to give me many more years with him.

August 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm 23 comments

A Vacation from Perfectionism

Right now Orison, Morrow, and I are on vacation! We’ve been visiting my parents in Erie, PA and then their lake cottage in Chautauqua, NY. Abraham was here for the long weekend, but is now back to life (reality) in Minneapolis.

Being alone with the kids means I have lots of parenting choices to make. Normally, my default parenting style is to be on the strict side. I expect my kids to listen to the direct instructions I give them. When they don’t, there’s a consequence of some kind.

And in my normal life, I’m ashamed to admit, I say “no” a lot more than is necessary. I say no to things that are going to inconvenience me or make my life more difficult in the short term to save myself some work. It’s laziness, really. It doesn’t serve my children when I act that way.

I also struggle with perfectionism. I want life to be “just so” and when my plans are derailed, I act out in anger and frustration toward the people I feel are blocking my “perfect” path. Sound contradictory? Um, yeah.

But on this vacation, I’ve been making a conscious effort to be as permissive as possible.

You want to go swimming? Sure.
You want to ride your bike for the 90th time today?
Sounds great!
You want to ride on the tractor?
I’d love to take you.
Bedtime at 9pm?
No problem.
You want a piece of candy?
(Whoa, this is really not typical me) Pick 2!

I suppose when many of the typical life demands are removed, I have more freedom to say yes. I’m not as worried about meeting a timetable, I’m not as easily frustrated, and I stop seeing my kids’ enjoyment as an obstacle to my happiness. Instead, they start to be symbiotic—when I’m making my kids happy, they’re happier, and then I’m happier.

Of course the fundamental rules of life still apply:

Respect your parents.
Listen and obey when you’re told what to do.

Not only am I less stressed when I take the demands for perfection off myself and my kids, my kids are actually more obedient when it’s time to obey.

I know that God is helping me to love my children more thoroughly, not seeing them as small inconveniences. Left to myself, I’m selfish, mean, restrictive (for no good reason), lazy… the list could go on and on. But for this little stretch of vacation, I’m really hoping to learn to enjoy my kids more. Hopefully it’ll transfer back to my real life.

July 9, 2009 at 11:16 am 40 comments

Hot weather is good for… naps.

Last week we moved Orison and Morrow into the same room. I thought for sure it was going to be the end of naps as we knew them. But it’s been good so far!

For Morrow, I just secured a sheet around Morrow’s crib so he can’t see out and he goes to sleep just fine. I’ve always found that if you treat a baby like a bird (cover their cage and they sleep), you usually get a good nap out of ’em.

For Orison, who’s always been kinda chatty at bedtime, he needs to “help Morrow” take a good nap by being quiet himself.

And since it’s unusually hot around here, I think Orison goes to nap intending to not sleep, but the heat just lulls him into dreamland. And thus, how I’m finding any time to post!

I know for those of you in Southern regions, 90+ ain’t no thang, but around here it’s a big deal. But since we wait for it for sooo long in this climate, I want to enjoy it, thank God for it, not complain it away.

And if it helps my kids nap, all the better!

Uh-oh… time’s up.

June 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm 13 comments

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