Playing with My Christmas Present

Luke and I don’t typically buy one another anything for Christmas because we have four kids and do I need to say anything else? So I was shocked when he took me on a date and told me he was buying me (us) a camera. I’d been wanting one for a long time that would be better for taking sports pics of the kids and so he got no argument from me whatsoever. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and jump on board when Daddy’s feeling generous.

I’ve taken almost 4000 pictures (really) but I will spare you and just pitch out a few that are my favorites in the first folder I’ve just started sorting through. (Speaking of sorting, if you are someone who takes lots of photos can you give me tips on the best programs for organizing, storing etc?  I need to host them somewhere besides my server since my space is limited if that is even possible.)

If it appears I have lots more pictures of Sydney than anyone else it’s because she will stand still and let me use her for a guinea pig.  In this first one I needed to warm her up. I won’t tell you what I said to make her laugh.  It may or may not have included potty humor.


 I absolutely love the colors in this one.  I have no idea how I did it.

I have no idea what I did to this one of Elijah either but the vintage-y colors remind me of the Elf on the Shelf.

If Elijah is Happy Elf in the last photo, he’s Not Happy Elf in this one.  This was the 411th time I had snapped his picture Christmas Day and he was over it.  This is one of the only ones Sawyer will let me post of him because he doesn’t like his hair.  He is a girl.

This background of Sam looks like Rivendell is off in the distance.  Points if you know the reference.  Trust me though, it isn’t a Rivendell over there.  Those few scraggly trees are all that’s left of our woods.  I will not be sad.

I’m not typically a fan of the blown-out look but this is straight from the camera and made Syd look so sunshine-y that I didn’t touch it.

Syd has a long way to go with throwing symbols and making thug faces.  Translated, this one means, “Peace Out and Happy New Year”.

Dark Glories

As I type the fam and I have just returned home from an outing to mark the last day of the year.  We have been in a season of great loss and illness in our family so we were overdue getting out and setting our minds in a different place.  We took the kids to eat at Cracker Barrel compliments of a generous gift card from a beloved friend.  Then it was off to see Tintin. (It was okay-ish. Nothing as great as We Bought a Zoo which I bawled through.)  Afterwards we took the kids back to Walmart to let them release the Christmas money struggling to be freed from their wallets and then topped it off with an ice cream sundae nightcap from DQ.

While we were eating our desserts, Luke told each of us to look to the person on our right and say something kind to them.  Because Luke is the master of creating an awkward moment, he asked one of the employees to say something kind to Elijah since Sawyer was struggling to come up with something viable.  The girl said, “Ummm, he’s very handsome” at which point I thought Elijah would implode leaving a black hole in his place.  It was classic.  With the small amount of breath I could muster from the most sincere belly laugh I have had in weeks I said, “Elijah, we are just making memories!”  He said, “Memories I will spend the rest of my life trying to scrape from my mind.”  He loves us.  I know he does.  One day he will value that moment.  One day far from this one when he is mortifying his own children and re-labeling it “Memory Making”.

But I do know how he feels presently.  It seems the events that etch the deepest grooves in our brains are the things we want to think about least.  It’s the simplicity of moments like we just had as a family sitting around a table laughing and belonging and loving even when the last thing we want to do is say it in front of a restaurant full of people that seem to get lost and float away as easily as one year gives way into the next.  I sat there tonight looking from face to face and the fullness of life and connection and timelessness were not lost on me.  I said in my heart, “Please God, don’t let me forget this” while Elijah was begging for just the opposite.

The whole scene made me think about how this year has been wonderful and terrible.  Sorting happenings into each of those baskets isn’t as easy as it seems.   If I could hold the major life events in my hand and turn them just this way or that, each could go either way.  The inherently terrible has in many ways turned out for our good.  Some possibilities that seemed exciting at the inception have proven fruitless.  The lustre of joy, gain, deliverance, and acceptance wouldn’t be quite as bright absent of the dark contrasts of sadness, loss, devastation, and rejection.  Hard things.  Needful things.  Things that threaten to overshadow if not kept in proper perspective.  Things whose value isn’t revealed until much later.

As our family and I move into 2012, it isn’t with grand resolve to stop eating chips and salsa or start running or stop being late to church.  And school.  And everywhere.  Resolve suggests failure doesn’t factor into the equation.  The truth is I blow it.  I lose focus.  My path isn’t always clear and sometimes I am profoundly sad when I grow weary of bearing my own loads and those of people I love.  I prefer promising to persevere until the Lord rescues me from myself. I’m also praying the Lord will grant me the grace to hold on to hope in the midst of dark glories remembering how they prepare the stage for brighter ones.

And I’m praying He will give us all the strength to embrace both in 2012 and beyond.

(You’re welcome for the cheer up. Grin.)


The Birthday that Keeps On Giving

Sydney’s 9th birthday was this month.  I’m not sure how you do it around your house, but here it seems the birthdays just keep going on and on and on.  Take my girl for example:

1. This is Syd the night before her birthday.  The anticipation is high.  I miss the ability to get this excited over myself.

2. This is her on the way to school on The Big Day.  She is eating a Chicken Noodle Soup at Hand for her special breakfast. Please don’t judge.


3.  Party #1:  Syd and I baked brownies for her 3rd grade class the night before because – according to her – “they are so much more awesome than cupcakes.”  The highlight was the homemade icing.  Hopefully that made up for the Soup at Hand breakfast.

4.  Time for opening presents after school.  I will spare you all of the pics, but this one captures Syd and her present state of maturity.  I have to be out of town a lot and it now grieves her when I take the flat iron and good blow dryer.  We got her a black/white/pink adorable one and a matching dryer that I would like to keep for myself.  Guess what?  The hair care implements were her favorite thing.  It’s my legacy to her.

5.  I have no pics for point five but I took Sydney with me to a retreat I taught for my beloved Georgia home girls  in Pigeon Forge, TN.  Syd and I shopped during our breaks.  Her favorite purchase at the outlets?  A 1/2 pound block of chocolate fudge.  Have I used the word Legacy?

6.  The  Sleepover:  This is where I am coronated as Mom of the Year.  Syd invited four of her besties to spend the night this past Friday.  Please note the Braveheart facepaint on her friend, C.   I am very happy they were content with making friendship bracelets rather than insist on more face painting because there is a limit to my crazy and that would have pushed me right over it.


7.  After taking the previous picture I felt compelled to re-enter the room when I heard the phrase, “Be careful!  You might pull her out of socket!”  This is a little game we play called Medieval Torture and the girls loved it.  And no one came out of socket which is apparently how you win.

 8.  Killing several birds with one stone:  I had been out of town teaching for two weekends in a row prior to this one which also means I had missed Sawyer and Sam’s football games.  (Mom Fail.) So, it was absolutely necessary that the girls go to the football game which I’m certain is just exactly what Syd had envisioned for the night.  Thankfully my friend Carrie L. had the fabulous idea of hosting a post-game tailgate party.  This meant several things:  I got to attend my son’s ballgame.  I could have Syd’s cake and party food at said party.  I didn’t have to wreck my kitchen with all the festivities.  Win. Win. Win.  Wait.  Does Syd have her jacket on inside out?  I really believe she does.  Please look away from the girl in the inside out jacket until her mom can fix that.

 9. This picture has nothing to do with Sydney but I’m obsessed with it.  This must have been during a defense series because Sawyer is on the sideline. (Did you notice how I threw in the term, ‘series’ there? Don’t be impressed.  It’s the extent of my knowledge.)  What I have learned is that Sawyer is a  left guard on offense.  I’ve remember his position by telling myself he is not the deodorant (Right Guard).   Anyway, of all the people he could stand beside, he chose his dad aka Luke, Pastor by Day, Team Chaplain by Friday Night.  This is pure joy to me.


Syd’s birthday celebration has officially come to a close but never fear, Sam’s is in October so we get to do it all over again.

With 12 year old boys.

How do you do birthdays?

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