Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy birthday, Sarah!

I love my kids.  I especially love how God made each one of them different.

Sarah chose her special day to reflect her ISFJ personality.  Calm, with time for family and reflection, she wanted to spend the night at Mt. Nebo State Park.  Just the six of us.

We hit the trails after we checked in, watched the sun go down, sang hymns together, and played cards way past bedtime.

 This morning, we started the day in a quiet and gentle (just like Sarah) way. 
Watching the deer graze nearby,
enjoying the spectacular view,
reading our Bibles and drinking our coffee.

I love this crew that God has given me.  And today, I loved getting to celebrate 16 years of life with Sarah.

When we got home, even our "normal" time reflected my sweet birthday girl:

a vintage industrial four-loaf pan (sourdough starter is already working in the fridge),

a gorgeous red velvet ice cream, complete with homemade cream cheese ice cream (of course, Sarah made every bit of it from scratch),

even a beautiful antique diamond and ruby ring that matched the delicious cake.

"Who can find a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies."  Proverbs 31:10
I found one!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Senses

Sunday morning at our house...
Feels like - being convicted and encouraged by the book of James

Sounds like - Steven Sharp Nelson's "Sacred Cello" to help prepare our hearts for church
Looks like - the double althea getting ready to burst into bloom in our back yard

Smells and tastes like...the green beans and pork roast that "Team Choate" prepared before church so that lunch would be ready a few minutes after we walked in the door with growling tummies

Saturday, July 25, 2015

This mama's heart isn't quite ready for the letters from colleges to start pouring in...

Friday, July 24, 2015

More gifts

Yesterday was unusual for our family because the six of us spent our day in four different places.

But as I lay in bed last night, I realized some things.  This scattered lifestyle is not normal for us.  We usually maintain margin in our lives (when we aren't traveling internationally) fairly well. 

Each of us is doing well, even with our individual personalities and needs.  And the things we are investing our time in?  Those are so worthwhile.  They are gifts that we can't enjoy while we live in the South Pacific.  We have a totally different set of gifts to open when we live over there.

Our gifts for yesterday included me taking my two littlest girls to the zoo to observe God's amazing creation.

Olivia also attended a special class for students interested in pursuing veterinarian studies.  A vet and a vet tech spent time investing in Olivia and another young lady (only two students registered!).  Right up Olivia's animal-loving alley.
Benjamin continued his musical stretching at strings camp at UCA.  Every day he comes home full of stories of music and friends and fun.

Aaron had the opportunity to fill in at the last minute for a church just south of Little Rock.  Some senior saints were gathering, and both the piano player and the music minister had emergencies that prevented them from fulfilling their responsibilities.  Enter my amazing husband who doesn't get to serve this way as often as he would like.

And Sarah was gallivanting around with her grandmother to celebrate the upcoming sweet sixteenth birthday.  Having grandparents close at hand is certainly a gift!  Today was a day full of more gifts...wonder what good gifts tomorrow will hold?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sarah's Heart

Lots of people have asked about Sarah's heart monitor, and I keep forgetting to post an update.
She's been wearing the monitor for a couple of weeks now, but she hasn't had any more "episodes" for the monitor to record.  Which is a good thing!  She wears it all day long, and stays on top of all the details so well you almost don't notice that she even has it on.  The first Sunday after she got the monitor in the mail, she had to figure out how to wear the monitor and a dress at the same time.  A cute Solomon Island purse solved the dilemma.  Thanks for all of the prayers being lifted up on her behalf.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Full plates, full hearts...and lots of music

The last few days have been so full and sweet.  Benjamin is absolutely loving the strings camp.  Last night he thanked me for signing him up even though he was reluctant.  Almost made this mama cry.
He has been biking back and forth with his viola strapped to his back.  Monday afternoon, I took the girls to their piano lessons and we got to see Benjamin in between his rehearsal and the viola sectional.  Certainly, the house has been quieter with him away.  We all keenly feel that a little bit of the joy has left the house and love it when he comes home.

While Olivia was in her piano lesson, Katherine curled up next to me to finish her theory.  I'm so thankful for the cameras on phones.  Makes it easy to capture little things that I don't want to forget.

The piano tuner/repairman came to spend several hours at our house yesterday.  Last week, when he came to diagnose and give us an estimate, he informed us that it would be cheaper and easy to just buy a new-to-us piano.  And the piano would look nicer, too.  But how do you put a price tag on a piano that my grandmother received for her birthday - seventy years ago.  This piano has enjoyed four generations of my family tickling its ivories.  In addition, shiny and new never works well in our family.  I'll take the dinged up piano that looks beautiful to me and shows lots of love along with the wear and tear.

While the piano guy was at our house, I figured he didn't want lots of noise, so the girls and I went off to explore the bike trails of our home town.  The clouds gave way to sunshine as we pedaled up and down hills and wove our way around town.  Katherine was a trooper because the trail was much longer than we anticipated, and we had a great time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Happy Birthday, Gran!

by Edward Tuck
Age is a quality of mind;
If you've left your dreams behind,

If Hope is cold,
If you no longer look ahead,

If your ambition's fires are dead,
Then you are old.

But, -- if from Life you take the best,
If in Life you keep the zest,

If Love you hold,
No matter how the years go by,

No matter how the birthdays fly,
You are not old.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Enjoying every moment...

We are taking advantage of so many things while we are living back in America.  There are so many more options when you want to celebrate something special like an anniversary!  Aaron and I decided that it was an good investment of our time and money (both of which are short) to go out a few days early for our anniversary.

My brother stayed with the kids Thursday night while Aaron and I drove to Murray's Dinner Playhouse, an old favorite back from when we were dating in high school.  They even provided a complimentary piece of anniversary cake and read out our names before the show!  Big thanks to my brother who stayed with our kids while we enjoyed our date.

And when you want to celebrate normal everyday life, America has different options, too.  Olivia has been saving money and doing research on how to care for gerbils.

My animal loving girl is thrilled to now be the owner of a gerbil, whom she has named Chewbacca, or "Chewy" for short.

Living here also provides us the opportunity to spend time with special people.  Friday morning, we loaded up the vehicle in what is becoming our familiar seating arrangement:  Mama driving, Daddy working on the computer (It's all Greek to me.  Really!), and kids in the back seats doing school work.

We got to eat lunch with Aaron's grandparents and aunt (who was down visiting from Indiana) and enjoy several hours of good visiting with them.  One of the benefits of living so far away where we can't do "normal" things like most Americans?  Being extra super incredibly grateful for the "normal" things when we do get to experience them!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Happy 12th Birthday, Olivia!

We took some time aside today to celebrate twelve years of Olivia.  Her siblings found an ugly (black with gold cherubs) old chair, sanded and painted it, and surprised Olivia with it this morning.

Then Olivia got to Skype with my mom who is overseas on a missions' trip.

It's funny how kids' personalities come out when they plan their birthdays.  Olivia is an extrovert (actually an ENFJ), and her whole day reflected her personality.

She chose to go to a park that has been a family favorite for years.  In fact, we held Sarah's first birthday party in the same pavilion!

Several people drove from out of town to celebrate Olivia.  It's so nice to be close enough to party together!

Sarah made a delicious turtle ice cream cake, Olivia found it "finger-licking-good".

And we LOVE being close enough to family to celebrate together.

How many twelve-year-olds have two of the great-grandmothers come to a birthday party?

Our happy day ended with more friends hanging out together for several hours, playing games, riding bikes, and finishing at Larry's Pizza, Olivia's choice for supper.  Sweet ways to celebrate a sweet girl whose personality includes the description,
"Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible, highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others, finds potential in everyone, wants to help others fulfill their potential."

That's my awesome Olivia!