A Mother’s Day

I was just saying to Trevor a couple of nights ago during our twice a day brief Facebook chat that things have been going so very well here at home.  Normally, by the end of his work week, I find myself stretched very thin and so ready for a break, but while he’s been away, I have felt carried.  I told Trevor that I have felt like Peter this past week, keeping my eyes dependently fixed on Jesus and doing what I would not have thought possible: not just surviving this time apart, but living life with joy and peace.  But I also admitted to him that I’ve had a few moments when I have started to let the waves frighten me a little,  when I’ve counted the long days and nights ahead (including the ones *after* they get home!) and felt panic begin to set in.

Well, today I took my eyes off Jesus and took a good hard look at the waves around me, and I started sinking fast.

Mother’s Day is never my favorite, I have to admit.  I am thankful for my kids every single day, don’t get me wrong, but Mother’s Day is just another day, with all the same messes, all the same parenting, all the same disputes over who is sitting where and who gets to put their feet in Mommy’s lap while we read together.  I’m used to that, and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at making the most of the day anyway, enjoying the seeds the kids have planted for me in Sunday school, and maybe getting to spend some time with my own mom.

Today was Day 11 of 16 days of caring for eight kids without Trevor.  I arrived at church weary but peaceful, happy to get to sit for an hour and nurse the baby without any interruptions.  My best friend Mary and her daughter Maura had had a slumber party at our house the night before, and were with us for church.  It was shaping up to be a pretty good day.

Not five minutes after the kids went to their Sunday school class, Delia’s teacher came to get me.  Delia had had an accident on the floor.  While we were cleaning that up, she threw up.  I took her out of her class and thought the two of us could just sit in the (unused) nursery while I fed the baby.  Then she threw up again all over the nice new glider chair.  While I was taking the cushions off and scouring the chair and all its parts as well as I could with wipies, the custodian came in and said, “Hmm, that’s going to stain.”

At this point, I’m looking at the waves, and they’re huge, and I’m freaking out.  There goes our nice dinner (McDonald’s was the plan, but still!) with my mom and grandmom today.  There goes my whole week, come to think of it.  They’re all going to drop like flies now.  I’ll probably get it, too.  Hey, we’ll probably still have it when Teddy gets home on Saturday.  Awesome.  A stomach bug is exactly what we need right now.  (So much sarcasm in my darkest moments!)

I more or less held it together until I got home and called my mom to tell her we couldn’t come to dinner, and in the warmth and safety of her response, I fell apart.

But God was so gracious and patient with me on this day that was not going how I had hoped.

First my dad called and came over to measure our new table for some custom-made benches (to fit a few more little bottoms than the chairs can comfortably accommodate.)

Then my mom and sister came over in the afternoon before going to dinner and brought me coffee and popsicles for the kids.

While they were there, Pippa got an idea to surprise me and reorganize the dresser in the girls’ room according to the Konmarie folding method.  She mobilized a couple of sisters to help her and an hour later showed me this: (I wish I had a before picture, but believe me when I tell you it was a hot mess!)

In the very bottom of one of the dresser drawers, they found this:

I laughed when Pippa brought it down to me.  This card is probably some fifteen or twenty years old and intended for my mother-in-law (sorry, Elaine!)  I have no idea why we had it much less why it was in the girls’ dresser, but it felt as if Trevor had planned this elaborate scheme from China just to brighten my day.  And it did.

The rest of the afternoon was passed with me and most of the kids making picture-and-word labels for all the new toy storage bins in the boys’ room.  (Delia did stay curled up on the sofa feeling lousy for the rest of the day, but thankfully she didn’t throw up again, nor has anyone else so far!)

It was a lovely day.  A truly lovely day.  I don’t have a photo of me and all my beautiful children in our Sunday best to show for it this year (or one of me with MY mom and sister this year, for that matter), but I am surely the most abundantly blessed mother there is.

A New Little Blessing

Meet Verity Laine Young!


She arrived at 3:52 am on Wednesday morning, October 5, weighing 7 lbs 14 oz, 21 inches long.  I’m sorry I am so late in getting the news out.  That’s because (spoiler for the birth story post!) we just got home from the hospital yesterday!


We are all completely in love and enjoying getting to know her.  I’ll be back soon to tell you more about her name and her unusual (for us) arrival into the world!


Junie Lu Who, How Old Are You?!


This happy, gappy sweetheart turned six today.  The baby of our “original four”, this little girl has seen our family change in big ways in her lifetime, and she is mature beyond her years.  After opening a birthday present from Gran and Grandad in England and playing a few games of Connect Four this morning, she couldn’t wait to tear into her second “birthday present”: a first grade math workbook since she finished her kindergarten one yesterday.

Alas, she is still the girly girl of the family, and was delighted with the Elsa doll she commissioned me to make.  More Frozen stuff in our house… sigh.*


We had some quick birthday festivities after dinner…


… but then had to quickly get ourselves organized for Crazy Hair Night at Awana:

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It was a good, good day.  At least for most of us:


(And really, she was okay, too, once I gave up trying to take a picture of her right at bedtime.)

Happy birthday, Juniper Lucy.  You are an amazing little person, full of surprises and deep insights into life.  I am so very blessed to be your Mommy.

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* And since we’re on the subject of Frozen, can I just tell you that we have been stricken with just about every winter malady under the way-too-far-away sun in the last week or so?  Our car battery died, activities have been canceled (or possibly unwisely gone ahead with anyway in some cases) due to snow, a tummy bug hit six of eight kids (so far!), and our water pipes froze for two days.  I actually flushed our toilets with snow.  I felt like a pioneer woman!  Only, you know, with toilets.

I say all that not to complain (okay, probably a little bit just to complain), but because it sure does make me appreciate life as usual when we come out the other end of a week like that.  God is so good all the time, and I am reminded of just how utterly dependent we are on Him.  Water delivered right into my home through pipes?  Amazing stuff.  When it works.



Birthday Girl


Happy, happy birthday to our beautiful, smart, multi-talented…

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…funny, creative, quirky…


…sensitive, thoughtful, introspective Romilly Alice.


This sparkly girl managed to pull her nose out of her book and her head out of the land of dragons, centaurs and talking cats for just long enough to celebrate turning nine today.  She is a unique soul and a treasure to our family.


Happy birthday, sweet girl!  We love you so much.

The 4th and the 7th

Another month of birthdays is upon us.

If we count the birthday of the good old US of A, we’ve had two already!

We spent the 4th at my mom’s house, eating hot dogs and watermelon.  My dad came over as well and the early evening found all of us at a fantastic kid’s play area.


Normally, by bedtime on a Trevorless day, I’ll admit I am pretty much done.  There’s not much that can make me say, “You know what?  It’s already an hour past bedtime, but let’s just hang out a little longer.”  But there was something in the air that night.  Niko had been asking all day why we couldn’t go see fireworks, and I kept reminding him how scary they are for Coraline (to say nothing of Romilly!) and how late in the evening all the shows start.  Here they were, all in their PJs ready for bed.  I knew the noise would keep them awake anyway, and I heard myself say something quite out of character for this weary mama, “Do you want to go outside and see if we can see any?”

And did we ever!  We got a good half hour long show, standing right there in our driveway in the cool of the evening.  There were fireflies all around and bats fluttering overhead.  Even our two noise-sensitive girlies enjoyed it for a while, then quietly snuck inside to read a book when they’d had enough.  It was a magical night, and I was thankful for the tiny prompting to enjoy my children for a little longer than scheduled that day.

*  *  *  *  *

On the 4th of July 7 years ago, I was already in labor with this girl:


She didn’t actually arrive until three days later on 7/7/07 at about 7:25 in the evening weighing 7 lbs 15 oz.  Apparently we were even in room 7 by the time we were having visitors, though you couldn’t prove it by me.  This 7th birthday, in any case, is a very special one indeed!

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The day was filled with not-all-birthday-related things: a morning visitor from a realtor to get a ball-park estimate of the value of our house in case we ever decide to move, an afternoon speech therapy evaluation for Delia, which Bea decided to come along to.

But then there were some presents, and there was McDonald’s for dinner.  Just when we thought it couldn’t get much better, there was a surprise visit from Aunt Paigie just in time for cake and ice cream, followed by a movie of the birthday girl’s choosing.

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This girl is easy to celebrate.  She is sweet and thoughtful.  She rarely stops talking and most of what comes out of her mouth is absolutely hilarious.  She is a rule-follower and a rule-enforcer – a good sort of kid to have around, unless you happen to be one of her siblings bent on naughtiness!  She picks up bugs with her bare hands, and, bless her, expects me to be excited about them.  She wants to tell everyone about Jesus, and the way she can talk, I believe one day she just may.

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Happy birthday, Bea!  We love you so very much!

The End of School Year Crafties


This lovely young lady has recently taught herself to knit from a book from the library.  She will humbly tell you that I taught her, but, in fact, she figured out casting on completely by herself and I only showed her the main stitch once.  I hardly know how to do it myself.  When asked by her home school evaluator what her goal is for fifth grade, she replied without a moment’s hesitation: to learn to purl!

Her first proper project was this adorable headband for little Annis.  Isn’t it sweet?!


Won’t be long before those little fingers are stitching away, too.  It’s been a very crafty place around here now that the school year is winding down:


Annis Octavia’s Pink Octopus, crocheted by Bea.


Football for Pop-pop, sewn by Niko.


Phillies cell phone case, crocheted for Pop-pop’s birthday by Bea.


Two Hawks, crocheted by Ro, just because.

We’re going to go through a lot of yarn this summer!

Mind the Gap

Does anyone remember waaaay back when June was just a teeny tottery little tot and chipped her front tooth?

Well, the dentist told us it would tighten right back up, and probably not even turn gray.  But it did turn gray.  And eventually, it got wobbly.  And recently, really wobbly.

It fought bravely, but after more than three years of hanging in there, June’s tooth finally gave up the fight yesterday.

Now we get to look at this smile for the next two years or so.


Could be a lot worse, huh?


Nine Years of Pippa

Long before there were six, there was just one.  And long before there was a bike-riding, piano-learning, reading, writing, baking, crocheting 4th grader (!), there was just our baby girl.

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From the moment she entered the world, she stole our hearts and changed our lives forever.  She turned a couple of ordinary twenty-somethings into parents, and she persuaded us that we wouldn’t mind doing it all again.  And maybe again.


Of course the wonder is always there, no matter how many times you welcome a new human being into the world, but there is something remarkable about the little person who brings you over that threshold for the first time.  And this little girl has made it all a joy.


Philippa Violet, you have taught me so much more in 9 years than I could ever teach you in a lifetime.  I am humbled and honored that God chose me to be mother to such a treasure.


And I am so very thankful that He chose you to break me into the world of motherhood.  You have made it all a pleasure.  I could not have picked a more perfect person for the weighty job of Big Sister Extraordinaire to this crazy household of ours.  It’s a big job for a little girl, and you handle it with elegance.


It is a privilege to watch you grow into the young lady God made you to be.  But you will always be my baby girl.

Happy Birthday, Pippa!

Post-Kindy Spelling and Other Bits of News


The above was a gift that Beatrix, our recent kindergarten graduate, crafted for her rabbit-enthusiast aunt Olivia.  It makes me smile and smile.  It’s a cardstock “bunee” that you can feed “carits” and “ledis” to.  You just put them right there in his “mawth”.  Simple!

Do you know that I look at her sweet, just-turned-six-year-old spelling and I am just in awe? Those words might not look like much to be proud of, but prior to about a month ago, this little girl had never-ever attempted to spell a word without asking for help (there are quite a few helpers around, after all) .  Now she writes all day long, and I can almost always figure out what she’s trying to say.   Letters mean something to her, all of a sudden.   And that is amazing to me.  Watching children learn is just absolutely amazing to me.  And she’s cute, too.  So that helps.


In other news, we received our updated FBI clearances today (still no record – whew!).  We need to send them straight back off to be authenticated in DC, but as Bea said, “It still means we are one step closer to Delia coming home!”  Also, I should have mentioned when it was fresh in my head that we also received our I800 clearances a couple of weeks ago, too  (When exactly?  In the comments, maybe, Trev?), so this is really the last bit of paperwork we need to scrape together to have our documents ready for court.  Which is probably still a long way off the way things seem to be moving lately.  Prayers for expediency and funding are still appreciated!

Look Who’s… Wait… How Old?!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled “Yay!  Daddy made it home safely!” to bring you this breaking news: Beatrix turned six today!  That doesn’t seem right, right?  IMG_1130 

Our lovely girl regularly gets mistaken for younger than she is.  Indeed, last year she received two birthday cards wishing her a happy 4th birthday!  But as soon as she speaks and her clever, feisty sense of humor comes out, you know this girl with the sweet babyface has graduated to big-kid-hood.  Bea has a ready smile, a song in her heart and a bounce in her step.  She is a pro at accents and other crazy voice tricks.  She wants to be an entomologist when she grows up (which I guess means I’d better learn how to spell it!)  And this girl loves Jesus so very much.  Oh, how she melts my heart.


Beatrix Joanna, I just love the little person you have blossomed into.  Keep loving the Lord and His Word all your days, sweet girl!  You delight this mama’s heart.