Monday, May 2, 2016

Our Family is Growing

The first time I met Taylor, he spent the day with us at a friend's farm. It was the first time in over two years I witnessed Lauren return to her free-spirited, happy self. She laughed, jumped into a creek, played with animals and never once concerned herself with what anyone thought of her. She was relaxed and comfortable. She was back from the dark cloud of the previous two years. I also noted the first time they hung out together outside of work with a group of friends, he let her drive his truck and I had a gut feeling there was something special about this boy.

When I was pregnant with Lauren, I walked around for a week dilated to 5 cm with irregular contractions. The moment Lauren was born, she literally busted into our lives without a doctor present and no warning other than 37 minutes of intense contractions. I should have known then who Lauren would prove to be. She sits on the fence about all major decisions until she makes up her mind and then everyone is hard-pressed to keep up with her fierce determination as she barrels through whatever action she determines must follow.

Keeping up with Lauren has never been for the faint of heart. She is a force to be reckoned with and we are delighted with Taylor who has navigated many storms with our spirited girl. He has been her confidant, companion and calming voice the last two years. We couldn't be happier to have him in her life and ours.

Last week Taylor made some major decisions in his life and enlisted in the Army. He is utilizing the training and education to pursue law enforcement with the federal government. His enlistment meant he and Lauren would be making some serious decisions about their future. The original plan was to have him complete four years of college and then get married. She would then follow him wherever his job required. The Army has moved up plans for this couple. Within a few days of the decision, they also decided to get married. Soon. So very soon.

We are planning a wedding and no one is more surprised than us, except perhaps his parents. We've run through a whole host of thoughts, concerns and tears but in the end, this is their decision and they have our support. Rather than have them run to the court house alone, a quiet ceremony for immediate family will be held in the back yard next month; the simplicity perfect for this young couple.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekend with Grandparents

There is a child in my house who is difficult to wake weekday mornings at 6:15 but on Saturday? He wakes with more energy than any four people require at that hour. By 6:20 I am dragging myself out of bed to make breakfast for the famished child while muttering under my breath, "I only get one opportunity a week to sleep beyond the six o'clock hour......." Every Saturday. Each and every Saturday.

So Kate toured the middle school she will be attending next school year. Greg had to take her because I was in a dental chair at the same time. Trust me, I really wanted to swap but my tooth wasn't able to go without me and Kate was. We stopped by on Friday for a quick photo capturing Kate's excitement about her new school.
Smores and sparklers wrapped up our Sunday evening.


My parents drove into town for the weekend.  A tea party, Grandma date for ice cream and dinner with the entire family were highlights of our weekend. Only Lauren was brave enough to attend Thunder over Louisville Saturday night. The rest of us watched it on TV. Some of us made it up a little later than others......

Friday, April 22, 2016

Walking in Sunshine

It's been a rough week. One kid has been treated poorly in a situation beyond her control, another is facing serious changes with difficult decisions, the roof needs replaced, the dog has some health issues and we have to complete family discussions about biopsies. I had uncomfortable dental work that could lead to a root canal, one of the extra kiddos was sick and grumpy all week, one of my kids spent days battling a migraine, and the spring to-do list isn't shrinking. Nothing we are facing is devastating yet the feelings are overwhelming. I have been tearful for days and finally ran out of the energy to weep Thursday night.
I have countless commitments during the week and spend my weekends catching up on life so my reading, quiet time and creative outlets have all been ignored. I know better than to put myself so far down the priority list, yet it happens in seasons like this.

There was a time I would deny myself the tears. It seemed weak to admit I cried in the shower on the hard days so I could pull myself together for my family. But I have learned over time (a lot of time), leaning into the sadness and being honest about my emotions is healthy. And after I sit in that moment, it's time to choose happiness and gratitude. Sometimes that choice needs action.

I drive by this gorgeous field every week on my way to bible study. I have thought many times about pulling over for photos but felt a bit silly. Tonight though, the week's tension had mounted to the point of ugliness in the form of my short fuse and lack of patience with my family so I needed to walk in sunshine. Greg agreed as he cleaned up dinner so I could escape with my camera while the lighting was still promising. Then Kate, sweet Kate who is always up for an adventure hopped into the van. Sometimes I need a side-kick.

We were immersed in sunshine and joy instantly; the pursuit so worthwhile. I am restored. None of my situations have changed but my perspective has. Sometimes it's healthy to walk in the flowers toward needed light.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Two Birthdays, One Night

Lauren will be 20 in November. She begged us for months to send her to see Justin Bieber as an early birthday gift because that was what we did for her 14th birthday. I continued to point out how she is a grown up now who can take herself to see Justin Bieber but she didn't want to go alone and believe it or not, Taylor was not willing to attend.

Kate turns 11 in May and decided she really wanted to see Justin Bieber for her birthday too. My initial reaction was an solid "no". I'm not exactly a fan of JB. But as time passed, I thought this could be a fun experience. They could bond over Kate's first concert.

Two tickets, tee shirt money and dinner funds were provided. They are off to make memories and have a blast together. And the best part? I didn't have to go!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Already?

I have reached the point where I need all weekends to contain a minimum of three days. The errands are endless, the chores both inside and out fill two pages of notes and our commitments are multiplying. I ran non-stop and rested very little. Monday will be hard-pressed to arrive without complaint.


Makenna was acknowledged on stage for leadership and ability to step into the stage manager role with less than a week's notice. The students loved her, the director literally sang her praises in front of the audience and her peers were impressed. She knocked it out of the park this weekend.




Taylor's little sister, Ellie. I swear she could model. Isn't she gorgeous?

I had the privilege of photographing Lauren's boyfriend, Taylor yesterday. I was rather nervous heading into the session but once we got started, I had a blast. I am no pro, but I do enjoy being behind the camera. I am pleased with the results and enjoyed spending time with Taylor, his mom and his little sister.
Erin was discussing having children someday. She refers to her options as manual or purchased. We prefer terms like traditional or adoption but Erin never lets our views influence her vocabulary. This group is an unending source of noise and entertainment.

Tonight we had dinner around the patio table. All the kids were present so it was a boisterous event. We no sooner finished dinner than Erin suggested ice cream. I had bathrooms to clean, laundry to start and preparations for Monday to tend but I found myself loading up with my kids for ice cream. It was a brilliant decision I don't yet regret. The bathrooms and laundry will always exist but time spent listening to my kids laugh, tell stories and be together is growing more difficult to carve out of our busy lives.

Friday, April 15, 2016

T.G.I.F.

The stage manager ready for opening night!

Watermelon!!! No one could wait for snack time today.

Sweet chubby legs. Hers, not mine.
Happy baby

New trampoline net

Project Supervisor

The trampoline is available again. Someone is pumped.

Playtime
Silly girl

Can you get enough of that crinkled nose? Me either.
Sleepover

Makenna the Writer?

The middle school director enjoyed photographing the high school volunteers

Makenna has been celebrating a lot of excitement lately. She volunteered a few weeks ago to assist with the local middle school play, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, JR. They will run four shows this weekend. She was assigned the assistant stage manager role but found herself promoted last weekend as result of some drama between the original stage manager and the director. Her teacher and the director are beyond impressed with her ability to diffuse situations and step into a leadership position without warning. We are pretty proud as well.

We also received notice Makenna was awarded student of the month in March. She was celebrated with a special lunch at school. Once again, it's kind of nice to see her acknowledged. She tends to stand back and not make herself known, claiming to be a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.

So imagine everyone's surprise when her one act play written last fall was selected as a top piece in her honor's English class. She was among four chosen to compete for the opportunity against all other honor English students to have their play read by professional actors in Louisville on the 26th. She was not the winner but placed in the first runner up category. Given her reluctance to speak in class, even her teacher was surprised to announce who the actors chose.

I asked to read it. She declined. Of course she did.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Go Kate!

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Kate worked on her back tuck off the balance beam this week. She loves gymnastics and her teacher, Miss Jenny too. The wind destroyed the trampoline net a week and a half ago and the new net is due to arrive today. Kate is beyond anxious to resume endless hours flipping, bouncing and practicing.
This serious expression remains on her face throughout the class as she studies how to perform her next move.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Fun Friday

Anna arrived in a special outfit she couldn't wait to show Ty but as soon as I saw her, I wanted to recreate a glitter photo shoot. As it turns out, I couldn't find any glitter. Either the reindeer were really well fed last Christmas or my husband hid all the glitter as a preventative measure. We are still finding glitter every once in a while from 2012 when I attempted preserve childhood wonder in my oldest girls by tossing glitter all over the living room while photographing them dancing in it. One of us was not amused. It still makes me smile though.
If you know Anna, you know B. These two are best buddies. B is loved and a treasure, just like Anna.


She wanted to take my picture so I let her play with Makenna's old Polaroid

Bubbles inside are fun too. They aren't glitter, but they will do in a pinch.

This is her Spider-girl pose
Oh, and the outfit? Ty will love it.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring is in the Wind



We spent Saturday watching our shingles fly off the roof and vinyl rip off the side of the house. The trampoline now needs a new net but we were lucky to keep our trampoline at all. Our neighbor found theirs in the road after it flew over a six foot fence. Good times.


But there are pretty things in bloom and the dandelions too which took us to a lawn and garden center for treatment of those little yellow eyesores and the ticks we've found in the house already. Thank you Layla, Brutus and Oliver for those contributions. 
Sometimes I worry he aspires to be homeless. He was missing for a few minutes yesterday afternoon and this is how we found him. He slept a few hours and woke asking to keep the box.

Greg has a fever, body aches and a lot of congestion but insists he doesn't have the flu "because I don't get the flu". There may or may not be some eye rolling happening here. I am diffusing oregano and thieves in my house in hopes of stopping the "not the flu" in it's tracks. However, he has slow cured fresh side hams for the last week and spent the day battling his fever while tending the smoking process of those hams. He is pretty awesome despite his stubbornness.

Kate attended a birthday party and sleepover last night and we went to a bridal shower today for Erin's best friend. I am still a little shocked we are in wedding mode already but it's fun to celebrate and commiserate with Carlyn's mom about the process. She gets to be the pioneer in the mother of the bride role.

My kids have fallen hard for "Stack the States" and play it often. I am not opposed. We are all learning something along the way. But when Michigan fell off the platform, Greg assured Ty it was okay because we don't like that state anyway.