Two Carolyn Videos

I think two might be the most adorable age ever.

Resident two-year-old

Resident two-year-old

Didn’t know stuttering could be adorable, did you? Here’s Carolyn in my bedroom this morning:

“Don’t take picture me!” Mom and Dad – see that giant pile of blankets in the living room on the cedar chest? It’s always there. The kids use it for book time and for making forts, but I think you’ll find them wonderful for wrapping around your shoulders soon!

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Christmas and New Year!

Christmas was really special and not stressful this year. Brian had two weeks with almost no work… the first was full and busy, the second was quiet and involved lots of computer games and sleeping in and hanging with the immediate family stuff. Good, good times.

Time to unstuff stockings!!!

Time to unstuff stockings!!!

Watching the kids look at their stocking gifts was so much fun this year. They were all so into it!

Watching the kids look at their stocking gifts was so much fun this year. They were all so into it!

Carolyn was SO, so so so SOoooo cute! She kept saying, "Oh my goodness!" and when we asked her what else was in there, she would say, "I don't know!"

Carolyn was SO, so so so SOoooo cute! She kept saying, “Oh my goodness!” and when we asked her what else was in there, she would say, “I don’t know!”

Jordan woke up just as the girls finished their stockings! He loves to slide down the stairs this way.

Jordan woke up just as the girls finished their stockings! He loves to slide down the stairs this way.

Piles of presents and lots of love.

Piles of presents and lots of love.

Where is Maggie?

Where is Maggie?

Mid gift-opening, Carolyn got sleepy and shy and snuggly and curled up in Brian's arms.

Mid gift-opening, Carolyn got sleepy and shy and snuggly and curled up in Brian’s arms.

Grammy and Anna with her new scarf from Grammy and some gifts.

Grammy and Anna with her new scarf from Grammy and some gifts.

Jordan opened his gifts in a quieter room when we were done.

Jordan opened his gifts in a quieter room when we were done.

He loves all his new singing toys!

He loves all his new singing toys!

Carolyn loves her new dolly from her Papa!

Carolyn loves her new dolly from her Papa!

Anna took many photos of all the cousins, trying to pose them.

Anna took many photos of all the cousins, trying to pose them.

Very few kids were willing to be bossed around for photos, but there are a few cute pictures!

Very few kids were willing to be bossed around for photos, but there are a few cute pictures!

Family hiking is SO FUN when you get to look at Carolyn every minute of the time. She was so stinking adorable.

Family hiking is SO FUN when you get to look at Carolyn every minute of the time. She was so stinking adorable.

It was cold, but clear and still and beautiful.

It was cold, but clear and still and beautiful.

Watching a little waterfall (I'm on the side of it) and getting to climb on stuff!

Watching a little waterfall (I’m on the side of it) and getting to climb on stuff!

Stomping down the path!

Stomping down the path!

Anna is an amazing helper. I keep having to find new ways to say "thank you" to her. Here she is helping Carolyn down the slippery downslope.

Anna is an amazing helper. I keep having to find new ways to say “thank you” to her. Here she is helping Carolyn down the slippery downslope.

Vision of a memory.

Vision of a memory.

Videos:
Carolyn opening her stocking cuteness 1 and 2

Jordan opening his stocking (he participated!!!!!!!!!!!)

Jordan with his two favorite stocking gifts:

Christmas afternoon:

Trying to get a picture of the cuteness of Carolyn running on the trail and capturing the sights and sounds of the northwest:

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Story of my Guilt

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I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. If you aren’t aware, I’ve been struggling with depression since crashing sometime in the summertime. I am back on some antidepressants and while they are helping me, I’ve been doing some work in analyzing and working through my belief system. What do I believe? Why? What is my “inner critic” saying and why should I listen or not listen to it? What’s the voice of grace saying? How can I be the hard-working person I want to be if I release my inner drive towards “success” and high expectations (which I ultimately fail to achieve)?

The night before last, my sister gave me a wonderful analogy. She shared how when she was in ballet, her instructor worked and worked with her to release a certain muscle she was holding tight. When she finally figured out how to relax it… it felt like she was doing… nothing. It felt strange and wrong. She did figure out how to use the other muscles to do the job the best way. When I try to “release” or relax my personal expectations and my “drive” to be the best, it feels like I’m doing nothing. I need to find the other muscles, the other drive that is healthy and doesn’t beat me down with judgement and condemnation.

Brian suggested that the other drive… is love.

He gave me the picture of a courtroom and reminded me of the name of the prosecutor, Satan. He reminded me who my defender is: Jesus. My new drive somehow stems from this courtroom scene. Somehow, my new internal motivation is love for my Redeemer. Out of these thoughts, I wrote the following story. The process of writing this story, which poured out of me without effort and yet left me breathless at the end felt like… it felt like a conversation with God.

God’s Story to Me

I am in a courtroom and I am being judged. Am I worthy? Am I a failure? There is one in the prosecutor’s seat who knows my faults, my sins, my secrets. He exposes everything that I am ashamed of and declares my corruption to the One who created me. I know what justice deserves and I do not fight it. I am ashamed. I am crushed and destroyed. I cannot remember hope.

Then One stands beside me in the place of defense. I do not stand, but look up in surprise at His face. His face pains me. It carries the weight of sorrow and grief, the marks of my anger and rebellion. It is both marred and healed, sorrowful, yet rejoicing. He is too beautiful for words and I love Him. I love Him.

He speaks first to the judge without looking at me. He denies no charge put against me, but instead takes them and their weight… and destroys them with the words, “It is finished.” He had done it. He had borne every punishment already and had every authority to grant my release. He had plans for me, He said, plans that I could not conceive. They were beautiful and wonderful and tailored just for me. Would I consent to accept His offer and follow Him? Would I leave the prosecutor behind and follow Him?

I cried with my love for Him. But I felt no worthiness in myself for His offer. The prosecutor shook his head at me and I knew, I knew that he would follow me, offering a litany of my charges to all who would listen… myself included. My shoulders sagged. And I glanced up one last time at the Defender, my blessed Jesus. Oh! His eyes. His eyes! The tender, welcoming love. The understanding and the compassion. And the open arms that I fell into.

“Hold me, Lord!,” I cried, throwing myself at His mercy, ungainly and desperately clinging to Him. I heard the muffled protest of Satan, but Jesus silenced him with a look. The judge banged his gavel and cried, “Not guilty!” Satan’s accusations went unheard and ignored by the Judge. Jesus spoke to me. He said, “beloved,” and “worthy.” He called me “beautiful,” “holy,” and “blessed.” He wrote my name down in His personal book and called me “daughter,” “sister,” and “bride.” I was His and He was mine.

But my life was not over. It was not time for the wedding. We were betrothed, but I was not prepared for our wedding. “Get ready, beautiful,” He said. “Follow this path I have laid for you. It will be easy and it will be hard. It will be plain and it will be confusing. But keep walking. I am waiting for you at the end, my darling.”

“Don’t go away!” I cried, desperate to remain in His arms. “Love me,” He said, “and do what I ask. It is for your good or I would not ask it.” “But it’s too hard!” I cried again. “I will never forsake you. Trust me.,” He whispered, touching my cheek. “We’ll be together again before you know it. Don’t give up.”

And He kissed me. Gently. Purely. His lips brought life and His Spirit settled into my soul. He caressed my face, squeezed my hand and beckoned towards the path. And with a deep breath, I set off. I could not see Him. I walked. I walked by faith.

Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

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Cutie Patooties

I have a really funny story from Thanksgiving that involves Glen and Maggie. We did a white elephant gift exchange. Somebody brought a gift that was a toy that made a variety of (ahem) farting sounds when you push the button. Guess who opened that gift. Yep, it was Maggie! She was absolutely thrilled. Actually, what made her so happy was seeing how everybody laughed when she pushed it. Over and over and over. What a variety! Put-put versions. Squeal, squeaky versions. Loud belchy versions. They were very realistic. And Glen was sitting right next to her, turning redder and redder and redder. He eventually leaned over to Grandma (great-grandma to Maggie) and had to explain to her what was happening on the other end of the couch. Oh me, oh my, it was so funny! Thankfully, that toy got traded with another youngster and we didn’t have to listen to it for the long drive home.

The dog we are watching (and possibly keeping) is a 4-year-old black, short-hair dachshund chihuahua. Otherwise known as a Chiweenie. :-) Razzie was a long-haired golden version. Missy is extremely shy and fearful. Well, she was. She has settled in and is doing alright now. She especially bonded with me (Rachel) and therefore I am enjoying her quite a bit. She follows me around, sleeps in the room I’m in and tolerates the others. She no longer runs away from everybody in the household, though she still barks at Brian when he gets home. Anna and Maggie decided she needed a middle name so she wasn’t plain Missy Davis. Now she is Missy Mae Davis. A good, strong, family name. :-)

School has been going pretty good. Honestly, school itself has been going great. What has been getting accomplished for Anna are math, phonics and spelling workbooks plus 1-2 short papers each week of different sorts. She does tons of reading on her own. Unfortunately, school hasn’t been happening five days a week, but we’ll just keep plugging along at it. Maggie does a math workbook with a smattering of handwriting or reading.

I’d like to update you on my personal development, but it’s still…. in development, so it’s hard to put into words at this point. But I will say that it’s growth in a positive direction and I look forward to sharing more of my testimony as it unfolds. There are a few decisions that have to be made too, so I would appreciate prayer that we would feel our Father’s guidance in making them. Both the new medication I am using and the counselor I’m seeing are making positive differences. Thank you all for loving imperfect me.

And all the adorable pictures to follow:

Having fun looking for hats.

Having fun looking for hats.

I think they.... fit?

I think they…. fit?

Kids piling on Glen... some things never change. It was a wonderful family Thanksgiving! Sherrie and Dominic are amazing hosts!

Kids piling on Glen… some things never change. It was a wonderful family Thanksgiving! Sherrie and Dominic are amazing hosts!

This is Glen after his face stopped being so red, telling Grandma what Maggie's doing.

This is Glen after his face stopped being so red, telling Grandma what Maggie’s doing.

It was cold outside!

It was cold outside!

Jordan is a strong walker now!

Jordan is a strong walker now!

Family

Family

Missy Mae

Missy Mae

She's pretty cute

She’s pretty cute

Doing school

Doing school

School time!

School time!

Good morning!

Good morning!

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Merry Christmas 2014!

Photo compliments of Aleah Stein

Photo compliments of Aleah Stein

My, my, what a year 2014 has been! Finishing one year of school, a full summer and now a new school year well under way! Let’s see, at the end of 2013, Anna was 6 1/2 years old, Jordan was 4 1/2, Maggie was 4 and Carolyn was 1. To think it’s been a whole year since then!

January:
In January we had a new dog (Smoke) who was a whole lot of fun, but didn’t end up working out. We also had Razzie, our dear little doggie. Maggie was in AWANA Cubbies and Anna was an AWANA Sparky. Anna was midway through her first grade year and Maggie’s schooldays goal was to do any one of her worksheets according to directions instead of “crazy” as she prefers.

Practicing AWANA verses

Practicing AWANA verses

Going for a little winter walk on a dry day.

Going for a little winter walk on a dry day.

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February:
The most exciting thing about February was that it brought a brilliant snowstorm! It was wonderful as I kept the house all bundled up and warm and Brian went out adventuring with the kids. Except for the snow days, Jordan continued to go half days for preschool five days a week and we kept picking along at homeschool. We realized that a proper fence was more urgent than not while we had Smoke the doggie and that our whole family would benefit by a fence come summer… particularly the little ones, so we got a few fence quotes this month.
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March:
March thaws brought blueberry plants, tadpole eggs, broody hens and a better awareness of the sodden, muddy nature of our property, despite being on a hill. :-)

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April:
April was full with birthdays, births (my sister’s baby girl), Easter, the beginning of strep throat season AND….. my Mom visiting unannounced! Could. not. believe. my. eyes. We had a really good time together, talking, hugging and catching up.

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May:
May brought the next chapter of ENT visit for Jordan for new ear tubes, the end of Mom’s visit, a continuation of strep throat, our family’s first parade and an eager awaiting for fresh strawberries!

Graduating Cubbies and Grammy snuggles

Graduating Cubbies and Grammy snuggles

Grandma snuggles

Grandma snuggles

A parade!!!

A parade!!!

Sending Mom off with lots of.... wiggles.  :-)

Sending Mom off with lots of…. wiggles. :-)

June:

It appears that we were finally done with strep come June! Jordan finished preschool, my girls went to part time school (just about once a week), my DAD visited! The weather got nicer and we started figuring out how to put up our swimming pool, I got to spend time with my Dad and Jordan had been in a family as long as he had lived in an orphanage. This is also the month when my emotional health tanked. I couldn’t tell you why, but this is when the word depression came up in our home. Could’ve been the long spell of strep throat and miserable kids, could’ve been a new wave of grief for not being able to connect with Jordan and how I couldn’t tell if he was sick or not, could’ve been that I was sleeping again and Carolyn wasn’t keeping me up all night and my system finally relaxed…. I couldn’t tell you just what it was, but it was.

Vaseline came out of her hair at last when I used corn starch.

Vaseline came out of her hair at last when I used corn starch.

Grandpa time!

Grandpa time!

Baby chicks!

Baby chicks!

July:

Wow – lots happened in July. It was hot. The pool was wonderful. We had my sister and her family over for a “camping” trip, which was so much fun and so much easier than real camping. We decided to sell Smoke, we went blueberry picking, I took just the girls to a parade, we went to a rodeo, got some craft entries ready for the county fair and just in general had a blast and wore ourselves out. I also started taking Prozac during this month and noted a significant relief from depression symptoms.

Rodeo!

Rodeo!

First rodeo ever together on the Fourth of July!

First rodeo ever together on the Fourth of July!

It works!!!!

It works!!!!

Grandma and Kevin visit!

Grandma and Kevin visit!

Hot dogs on a girls' date at another parade!  For the record... I was exhausted.

Hot dogs on a girls’ date at another parade! For the record… I was exhausted.

AWESOME family "camping trip" together at our house.

AWESOME family “camping trip” together at our house.

August:
We were able to get a babysitter in August and take the girls to the county fair! It was a lot of fun. This month also held a HeartChange workshop for me and an overnight retreat for Brian and I to the beach. Wow, that felt good.

Ferris wheel ride!

Ferris wheel ride!

Jordan "swimming" unassisted!

Jordan “swimming” unassisted!

My dear friend Hollie.

My dear friend Hollie.

September:
September brought the beginning of a new school year. Anna in second grade, Maggie in Kindergarten and Jordan in Kindergarten at a new school that I like. Carolyn turned two years old, Brian also went to a HeartChange workshop (Thank you, Mom D for helping with the kids while he was gone!) and by the end of the month, the Prozac’s side effects were too much, so I went off medication for the months of October and November.

Ready for ballet!

Ready for ballet!

Carolyn's second birthday!

Carolyn’s second birthday!

October:

October brought rain and puddles and muddy children. It also brought my tiny Maggie’s fifth birthday party! Brian prepared the home for winter by building a Jordan-proof fence around the pellet stove. Anna wrote reports on pets for her school writing projects and I prepared for Jordan’s IEP at school.

Caterpillar cake

Caterpillar cake

New pellet stove fence!

New pellet stove fence!

End of the summer...

End of the summer…

November:
I know November is the most recent month, but I’m having a hard time remembering it! I know I tried taking 5-HTP as a natural antidepressant for two weeks, but it gave me really bad breath and I didn’t notice any improvements, so I stopped that. I restarted Prozac at the end of the month until I could get into the doctor again in December. For some reason I’m gaining weight. I don’t know why, but it is wreaking havoc with my wardrobe. I’ve never had weight gain before. I literally tore a pair of pants apart in the rear-end. I didn’t notice til I was home. I so hope nobody noticed. Oh! Thanksgiving happened! We had one of our best Thanksgivings yet, with Jordan doing really well for both dinners.

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There was a dusting of snow, so all the cold weather gear got brought out.

There was a dusting of snow, so all the cold weather gear got brought out.

This little one joins me in bed almost every night or morning.

This little one joins me in bed almost every night or morning.

Thanksgiving walk!

Thanksgiving walk!

And that brings us up to now!

School keeps trickling along, we have lights on the house and are looking forward to Christmas! Anna made a paper chain and they tear one off every morning. I am getting drowsy, because I was eating Almond Roca while typing this. And it’s 2pm. That is nap time, right? Brian is painting primer on our moldy bathroom ceiling. I’m taking a new antidepressant, but don’t think I like it. We hope to go to a ballet recital next week. I’m going to counseling. We are fostering a little dachshund mix doggie for a month, though there is the possibility of us keeping her! This is a new development today, so I’ll keep you posted.

But…. without further ado, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

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