Christmas Vacation

Our Christmas vacation was packed to the gills.  It may have gone by quickly {pretty sure I blinked and it was over.} but we certainly lived it up.  Between blinks there were many dinners with family, an evening with Poppy and Birdie, a pancake breakfast with friends, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day {at our house!}, we squeeze in a trip to Sun Valley for a week, celebrated the new year with our little family and wrapped things up with a fun brunch with Gigi, Grammy, Aunt Corey, Uncle Andy and cousins.  Oh and Caroline and I also made a quick overnight trip to Bellingham.

And somewhere in the midst of all that coming and going Caroline checked a few fun milestones off the check-list.  She was on a roll {literally} while also giving real food a taste, and learning how to sit up independently.  She’s also become quite the charmer.  That is unless you are holding a camera.

It was truly a wonderful, almost magical, two-weeks.  There really is nothing better than an abundance of days filled to the brim with family, lots of fun and lots of crazy.  Just the way it should always be.


{caroline and my grandparents}

{a new tradition.  family bowling and dinner at the golden wheel.}

{one of charlie’s many kinder christmas art projects.}

{our over-the-top decorations.  grocery store plant and limbs from the backyard.}

{four stockings!}

{real life}

{christmas baby}

{life with boys}

This season has been a constant reminder of God’s love and grace.  We’ve kept things simple this year and it’s been such a blessing.  We’ve held onto a handful of our silly traditions and I think we may have even added one or two new ones into the mix.

I’m counting my lucky stars to be home this Christmas with our little family.  Happy.  Healthy.  Together.  {Just praying for a bit more sleep.} ;)

Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year to you!

My beautiful children. Right now.

More often, and at what always feels like the last-minute, I try to grab my camera to get some shots of the kiddos in action.  And always, always I’m so glad I did.  Looking back, my favorite photos are the spontaneous, in the moment shots.  But a good old-fashioned posed picture is just as precious.  I love pictures so much because they capture what sometimes words can’t express.  You can’t help but see the distinct personalities, feelings and features of each child.  And isn’t it amazing just how different each sibling is?  Together I’m certain that these four make up the sweetest little family I could have ever imagined.

Henry.  At eight he no longer sees himself as a little boy, but isn’t quite as grown-up as he’d like to be either.  He still finds so much comfort in the safe cocoon of our family but is just starting to spread his wings and establish an identity separate from us.  It is both heartbreaking and lovely.  He is so, so brave and I know that this school year has not been easy for him.  His days are a swirl of love, responsibility, the need to distance himself and the pull to protect his brother.  It is a lot to ask of one little boy.

Charlie.  This has been such a year of growth for Charlie.  His speech is taking off and if all else fails there is no doubt that Charlie could beat anyone in a game of charades.  He will pull out all the stops to make his opinion/wants/needs known.  He has also become so aware of his limitations.  His frustration is real but his tenacity is greater.  Those traits serve him well.  Little dude is also mastering scissors and getting pretty darn good with his colors.  Oh and he’s never met a sweet treat that he didn’t like.

William.  He is healthy, praise God.  He is all spunk and sweetness.  He is smart as a whip and stubborn as a mule.  And funny, he’s really funny.  He is my little buddy, afternoons are ours – eating lunch, doing chores, and puttering around the house together.  He’s obviously not the baby of the house anymore but in a way I think he will always be my baby.  I sort of wish I could freeze him in time right now.

And Caroline.  My daughter.  Daughter.  Someone spoke that word to me the other day and for some reason it just hit me.  We have a daughter.  Isn’t she lovely?  And she squeals!  High-pitched little girl squeals.  And she talks and smiles and coos.  She also knows how to wear a serious expression.  She is alert as can be and always on the look-out.  With three boys flying through the house who can blame her?  She is sweet and she is spicy.  She is opinionated yet laid back.  She just might be the most relaxed of all our children.  This is something I never would have said four months ago.  Go figure.

The more I write and ramble I realize that it’s difficult to separate my story from the story of my children, or at least the story of their childhood.  My hope is that through all of these photos and ramblings my children will one day look back and see how grateful I was for each one of them.  I hope they see a mom who loved them unconditionally, stumbled right alongside them, prayed over their mistakes, laughed often with them and did her best to hand her mountain of worries over to the Lord.  I hope they see a mom who was far from perfect, but loved them so much.

Just because

The six-month milestone is rapidly approaching and while Caroline has mastered the art of sitting in her high-chair we have yet to actually introduce any real food.  I’ve never been excited about starting solids, probably because I’m also not a fan of rushing through any of the baby stages.  But the good news is we are officially smack-dab in the middle of the golden, happy baby stage.

Kindergarten Christmas Program

look center, up to the left of the bright blue skirt…see our favorite blondie?

Last week was Charlie’s kindergarten Christmas program and I seriously wish that we had invited every single person that we know.  Leading up to the big night we were a bit nervous.  Charlie is doing so well at school but standing up on a stage, in an auditorium that he’s never even set foot in?  We didn’t know what to expect.

As usual, Charlie set me straight.  Not only did he do the hand motions to all FIVE of the songs, but he was SINGING.  Sure he was a bit off-key.  Yes, sometimes he was a beat or two behind.  But to see him standing proudly and to hear his voice along with all of the other kids in his grade was quite simply the best.

Of course I’m kicking myself for not taking more photos or a video or doing something else to document this moment, but honestly Alex and I were paralyzed in our seats for the entire performance.  Amazed.  Panicked.  Ready to run down to that stage in a flash.  But mostly we couldn’t stop laughing and smiling at the wonder of our little guy.

It probably sounds silly, but that night felt a bit magical.

Who knew it could be so good?

**total side note…for weeks Charlie’s teacher, me, really anyone who has tried to get a photo of Charlie cannot get him to keep his head straight for a photo.  I couldn’t figure it out.  Until I was snapping these photos.  And guess who had her head turned to the side while holding the camera?  Duh.  Mystery solved.  ;)

What a ride.

We learned a few things during our recent visit to Seattle:

1.  We would have been amazing parents if we’d only had two children.  We would have totally nailed it.  Of course I can say such a tongue in cheek comment from my little corner of the world where I actually have four children and run from fire to fire.  Maybe like most things, we’re doing better than we think.   But to spend a day with just William and Caroline was a real treat and a great reminder to schedule more one on one or two on two-time with our kiddos.

2.  After more blood work our delightful doctor confirmed that there is no indication that William has cancer or any other major blood disorder.  And while some of the pieces of the puzzle still don’t entirely make sense, what we do know is that William is healthy.  Whew.  Amen.  Alleluia.  Praise Jesus.

Of course I don’t mean to sound so casual about it all, but I honestly hadn’t even allowed myself to think such thoughts {though duh, we had an appointment at the Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood disorder clinic} because quite honestly I might have officially lost it.

We’re still standing. Praise God He doesn’t give up on us.

It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that my children and all of the little details that make them who they are, aren’t going to necessarily fit the mold that I’d so {foolishly} dreamed and planned for them {me}.  I’m sometimes reluctant to admit that our Creator, the King of the Universe knows so much more than this suburban mother ever could imagine.  Of course He hasn’t missed a single detail when crafting their personalities, dividing cells and designing each fingerprint.

Conversations with William

While driving home after school…

William : “Mom does June have God in her heart?”  {June is our dog.}

Me:  “I think so William, but I’m not entirely sure.”

William:  “Well, I’m sure He is, June’s one of His creations right?”


The day after Thanksgiving while working with William on some art projects…

{I’m using the term *art* very loosely here.}

Me:  “William, I used the very same craft supplies when I was a little girl.”

William:  “Where was I when you were a little girl?”

long pause to consider…

Me:  “Well I’m not sure William, maybe you were up in heaven with Jesus waiting to be born…”

William:  “In heaven!?  But I wasn’t born yet!  I wasn’t in heaven, I was in your heart mom.”

Of course you were wise little one.


Later reading through a stack of Christmas books…

Me:  William, I read this very same Christmas book when I was a little girl and now I get to read it to you!”

William:  “Oh, so you read this book when I was still in your heart?”

Me:  “Yes, exactly.”  {smug Mommy moment, we have covered so much lately!}

William:  “Right, when I was in your heart.  And I was God.”


We’ve been going through a series of blood-related tests with William and tomorrow we head over the mountains to Children’s hospital to hopefully find some answers.  There is no visible sign that anything is wrong; only a bunch of numbers on a report that causes doctors concern and leaves me to wonder what we might have missed.

I tell myself that there is no reason for me to worry but this experience is just plain unsettling.  It seems like we’ve spent so much time trying to get to this place of ordinary life, at least our version of ordinary.   And I want to soak up as much of it as I can.  Naturally I’ve done my best to down-play the situation but the truth takes my breath away.  I love this boy with my whole heart which of course is scary and exactly as it should be, all at once.