Friday, July 29, 2011

Five Minute Friday ~ {Still...mine}

Ahhhh. We made it!
It's Friday.
Sharing with The Gypsy Mama at inCourage today. The prompt is:  STILL

And still it's you.
I would choose you every time.
Still after all of these crazy fun wonderful scary years.


Despite the incredible hurts
overwhelming pains
flowing tears
crushing fears...


For when my heart is thumping with fear and the world closes in and I just can't take it...
you grab my hand
and I go....


As we look at our boys
and worry
and wonder
and delight for all that they are and all that they mean
it's such a joy to just be


And know.

For still our God reminds me of His grace
in your smile
with your touch
as I hear the laughter and silliness of our children

Oh how I adore you.

Still you are mine.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

...For the bruises and scrapes

"Promise me you will always remember. You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
 (Christopher Robin to Pooh)
~A.A. Milne

It's been hot here.
Really hot.

But yesterday, Joe and I needed to get out of the house. When daddy came home and after dinner was done, we took a much needed bike ride around the neighborhood last evening. (At least when you are flying down a hill it feels a little cooler.....)

Towards the end of the ride he glanced back and said, "Come oooooooon mommy. Race ya."


Challenge accepted.

So we raced to the end of the street. Fast. And he made it there first. As I turned in the cul-de-sac..... He slammed on brakes with his big grin.

And then it happened.

He slammed too hard.

Bike wobbling out of control.
Face in panic.
Body meets pavement.

He looked up at me and said, "Mommy. Get the star box. I need some healing."

Ah yes. The star box. The one that holds precious balms and bandages and healing.....

So sitting on the counter, we chatted.
And I helped to soothe.
To calm.
To heal.

With words and prayers and cool water.

Remembering today that we all need healing. Whether we are bruised on the outside, or deep on the inside. Oh how it helps knowing that there is someone there to help. To listen. To soothe. Remembering the sufferings of Jesus. His mother. His friends.

After saying the Hail Mary and remembering Jesus' suffering, he hopped from the counter. Renewed.

Turning to me he said, "Thanks mommy. But I do have one question. Do I still win even though I fell?" 

Yes Joe. Oh yes. And the fact that you asked for help, picked yourself up, and said prayers? Yes. You won.

(And so did I.)

Sharing at Ann's place today:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nature Study ~ {Sunflowers}

Earth laughs in flowers. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

     As the height of summer approaches, and the heat begins to take center stage, many plants are starting to wilt. Not so the sunflower! It stands proudly and at the beginning of life, turns toward the sun....

     As Joe and I observed our sunflowers, and read Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, we were amazed at what we learned. For example, did you know.....

....that the sunflower is not a single flower, but is a large number of flowers living together?
....that each little floret has a job to do?
....that the "pretty" petals are called rays?

    I like how Ms. Comstock phrases this description:

And what could be more interesting than to watch its beautiful inflorescence...and outside all, the ranks of ray flowers flaunting their flags to herald to the world this peaceful conquest of the sleeping, tented buds at the center?
                      ~Handbook of Nature Study, p. 574

     Joe's comment was, "Mommy. They just seem so....bright. And happy." I agree. Truly.

     Here is Joe's journal entry:

(I love his location.... Flower bed next to the pumpkins. Well. It is accurate! And it is a tall flower coming in at 5ft. 2in.)

It's hard to read his observation, so here it is:
Our sunflower has ray flowers that are yellow with patches of red, orange, and some green. The stalk is covered with prickly hairs. Today there were bees collecting pollen and several gold finches flew away.

     All in all, a fun morning with my son observing nature's beauty. Learning, laughing, and just enjoying each other.

Sharing today at the Outdoor Hour Challenge:
Outdoor Hour button

Monday, July 25, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ For Birthdays ~ #379-401

     On Saturday, we celebrated Max's first birthday with family and friends. It was hot here. Like 104 degrees hot. So for the most part, it was an indoor party, although several brave (crazy) kids braved it outside for some swing time. And in true summer fashion, ate watermelon greedily as the sweat ran down their sweet faces....
     A perfect way to enjoy each other and the gift of a life. I am ever so grateful for:

Max's infectious laugh
cousins playing trains
having both of my sisters visiting
spicy potato salad
little conversations
house full of laughter
children sounds
cousin Joe playing Tom's dad's guitar
Max listening to the guitar
cake-on-the-face pictures
new books to devour
new toys that make Max laugh
first steps
blowing kisses
Mad About You reruns
anticipation of vacation
i-need-a-basket trip to the garden
Joe's help with Max
movie time with Joe (again)
healthy, happy children
summer rain
14 lbs. lost!
dreams that come true

Gratefully linking at Ann's place...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To Max ... on his first birthday

 One year ago today (about 9 hours from now), my darling second child, Maximilian Thomas, entered this world. What a blessing he has been, what a blessing he is. Named for Saint Maximilian Kolbe (who gave his life for another) and also for his daddy, he already has a strong spirit and a heart full of love. (I suppose all babies do, but this one....well....there is just a radiance about him sometimes.....


Dearest Max,
     Oh sweet boy. How quickly you have captured this mama's heart. When you entered the world with arms and eyes open wide, on that hot July 21st, I will never forget the deep intake of breath from your daddy, and his whispered, "He's here. He's beautiful. What a gift." How right he was....   
     From the moment I knew about you (that wonderful day after Thanksgiving) you were that breath of new life that to this day never fails to take my breath away. Your daddy is head over heels for you. His favorite thing to see is your arms outstretched and the smile that is just for him. (Oh I know, I have a special smile, too.) You were given to us. Straight from the heart of God. 
Our own version of The Princess Bride's Miracle Max.  ;)
     When you were so tiny, and became so sick in those first 2 weeks, I thought my heart would break. As you nestled against me, weak because of the pyloric stenosis, I wanted time to stop so that I could just hold you and rock you always. How glad I was when you were out of surgery. Out of danger. And back in my arms. (I have to tell you that I do love that you still like to listen to the "mama's heartbeat" bear. We would take naps together all curled up. I miss that....) But we have so much life ahead. So many things to discover....
     And how excited I am to continue to experience this world with you and your big brother. (For Joe is in love with you as well, you know. He has to cover his ears when you have one of your full-voice yells talks, but you are the first thing that he prays for. You are who he talks about. You. I think that you help him to relax a little and enjoy the silliness of life!) To see the two of you laughing and rolling on the floor is one of the most precious sights. I see you try to imitate him, and then he does something even sillier ...
     As your daddy and I attempt to navigate this little family in the middle of this sometimes-rocky sea of life, may you know that we are continually pointing you towards our God.
Our help.
Our rock.
      And as you grow, may you grow in love and in faith. Recognizing that we are here. For you. For forever.
      I adore you, my darling boy. Thank you for filling our hearts and our home with your presence. Your love. Your life.

Love always,
~Mama  xoxoxo


Monday, July 18, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ Summertime #352-378

     Ah summer. That lovely time of relaxed schedules, sandals, and time in the sun. Water-play, sun-play, friend-play. A time to slow down, drink iced tea with LOTS of lemon, and remember how it was in the old days. Seeing tomatoes on my windowsill brings back sweet memories of grandparents and working in their gardens (and being given sweet cherry tomatoes as payment). Counting today the gifts that summertime brings....

windowsill of summer
sweet cherry tomatoes
Rachel's refrigerator pickle recipe
sweet newborn baby Brady
Jen (and the kids)
Angie's hugs
Eileen and family
playing in the pool
Max's backwards wave
fireworks with the fam
dad's barbecue chicken
old childhood books
books in the mail
room temperature weather
Busch Gardens day with friends
Lucy playing in the water
Tom and Max in the water
reading and laughing with Joe
ice cream time
house contract for Katie and Dan
"hi Auntie Em" from Lance
time with my parents
girl time with Whit and Lauren
bruschetta with fresh tomatoes
Max's first birthday!

Gratefully linking here today:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Outdoor Challenge ~ {Nature Study}

Through cloud rifts the sunlight is streaming in floods to far depths of the wood. Retouching the velvet-leafed dogwood to crimson vital as blood.
(Handbook of Nature Study, p.680)

     Having always loved nature, I couldn't wait to share the outdoors with my children. From forests to ponds to mountains, there is treasure to be found around every corner. (Just yesterday, we found a dead dragonfly and took about 2o minutes talking about body parts. Then, we studied the intricacies of the wings. Amazing how simply observing and questioning leads to real learning.)

      This year, Joe and I are going to take a closer look at all that nature has to offer, and participate in "Outdoor Hour Challenge".

     To start off, we decided to choose a tree. We chose the dogwood in the front yard. We talked about how it is Virginia's state tree and state flower. (And we will study it in depth when we really study Virginia this year. Here is our tree:

     Using Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, we read about parts of the tree, and then read in depth about the dogwood. We created a collage on the front of the sketchbook and I reinforced it with contact paper so it will withstand being open and closed regularly. (I should also mention that Joe is always concerned about his drawing, and as a general rule doesn't always rush to draw things. However, I have noticed that this is different. He has enjoyed his new sketchbook and wants to make it his own.) Here are the two books:

     So after really focusing on the leaves, Joe decided that he wanted to draw one. Here is his drawing of the leaf and the berry:

     Then he decided that he would draw the entire tree and he noticed that the bark was pretty unique, as evidenced by his drawing. We found lichen on one side which then led to a discussion about parasites and fungi:


     We learned that one of the special things about the dogwood: "The twigs are spread and bent in a peculiar way, so that each white flowerhead may be seen by the admiring world and not be hidden behind any of its neighbors." p.681.

     We certainly look forward to studying "our tree" as the year continues....Allowing inquisitiveness and wonder to be our guides. (I should also add that when we talked about the sap, he mentioned, "So the tree's sap is kind of like my blood? Right?" Exactly. This then prompted him to create a play about a woodsmen cutting down a tree. He was sure to include the fact that the tree left seeds so that even though the family cut down the tree.....there would be more trees. This was totally not the direction that I had planned and I loved every minute of it. And so did Joe.)

     Sharing our journey here:

Outdoor Hour button

and also here:


Monday, July 4, 2011

Multitudes....For the Fourth.... #315-351

Thinking today of this incredible country of ours.
The struggles....the triumphs....the blessings.

Stream in Warm Springs, VA

This weekend we drove over and through mountains and hills, and wound our way down deep into valleys. Exploring the richness of our state. One out of 50.
Fifty states with their own story of how they came into being. How they came together to form a nation.

And oh how I adore Virginia. Miles of waterfront. Four distinct seasons (well. usually.) Mountain majesties. Farmland dotted with exquisite barns and gnarled ancient trees. Mill towns that are feeling the strain but harbor people with an interminable spirit.

The American spirit. The American dream. The American experience. Hard-fought by a group of rag-tag farmers and country folk willing to say... Enough. Driving through the state that housed Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington. Human men with faults, yes. But oh. The passion and diligence regarding freedom!

Oh how grateful I am for that spirit. For that freedom. My freedom. My children's freedom.....

having brother-in-law Dan home from Afghanistan
privilege of being an American
fireworks that color the sky
eyes to see such natural beauty
ears to hear the laughter of my children
nursery workers who love Max
singing hymns of praise
true hugs and smile from Fr. Gregory
Mass at Incarnation
playground silliness
Tom on the monkey bars
Tom playing with Joe in the pool
Max giggly on the slide
long lazy weekends
country house picnic fun
The Wade family
The Cavey family
The Barber family
barbecue by the fire pit
fishing in crystal clear rivers
patient people who help my child cast his rod
...and help him cast....again....
Go-cart races around the field
ice cold lemonade
swiftly flowing river
Green Valley book fair
cool mountain breezes
reaching 1st major goal of 10 lbs. lost!
watching thundercloud formations
lightning magic in the clouds
"wow mommy. lightning like a magic wand"
impromptu stop to pet horses
calmness of Joe after being among horses
Max's silly faces and horse noises
vineyards full of fruit
places to run in the vineyard
wine tasting notes of "jammy and fruit-forward"

Gratefully linking here today:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Five Minute Friday ~ Welcome home, sis...

It's Friday ~ Time for a little quick write.... The prompt today is: welcome.

My sis is the one on the far right. :) In a truck. In the desert. In a war.


Of the three of us girls, she is the girliest.
She actually played with the barbies (not just cut their hair or hurled them out of the trees).
She took ballet.
She loved dresses. The prettier, frillier, the better. (And to this day, STILL has the best closet to borrow from.)

Yet she is the one who joined the Army.
She dressed in combat boots.
She handled a machine gun....and liked it.

Oh my little sis, Katie... How I love her.
And on this, this Fourth of July weekend, I am even more amazed by her.

When she decided to go to Germany several years ago, we all held our breath, for we knew what it meant.
She was closest to being chosen to go to Iraq.
And go she did.

So what does a family do when their daughter and sister are far from home?
We ask her what she needs.

And then we send it.

(Starbucks coffee, filters, cream, sugar... enough fixin's for a coffee bar in the desert. It filled my parent's living room because it was what we could physically do. It's what we could do when what we wanted to do was fly to her and just. Well. Just BE there.)
We pray. Hard.

And when she comes home, well...
It's a homecoming worth celebrating.
Meeting her at the airport with balloons. (There were about 30 of us. Plus all of the other people in the airport who stopped, shook her hand, and said quiet words of "Thank you".)
With posters.
With love. And hugs. And open arms.

Welcome home, sis. Gosh how we had missed you.
Your smile.
Your laughter.
Your phone calls.

How grateful we are for you and for your service.....
You are loved, little sis....


Want to take five minutes with me and just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my right side bar}
3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.
It’s a great way to exhale at the end of a beautiful week.
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