Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy 9th Birthday, Cody!

Dear Cody,

Tomorrow you are turning 9. 9!! Another year has passed and I'm wondering (again) where the time has gone. Just yesterday you were being born and the nurse put you in my arms to hold for the first time. It really doesn't seem possible that 9 years have passed.

Tonight, you asked me if I was going to write you another letter, like I do every year. The answer is yes. But this year, I'm mixing it up a little. I'm going to do a top 9 list in honor of your birthday. These are the top 9 things I LOVE about you. (There are many more, but I'll choose my favorite 9.)

Number 9: I love your creativity. You're so good at making things with your hands. I predict that you will be doing something in your career as an adult that has to do with you using skillful hands. Maybe you'll be a professional musician (violinist, perhaps?), an engineer, an artist? Whatever you set your hands to, I am positive you'll succeed.

Number 8: You're thoughtful...and not just when it comes to people and their feelings. You are a thinker. I can see you process things in your mind, figuring out how a toy is put together, how to draw or create something, how to take something apart. God gave you a great mind and I know that He will bless your willingness to learn and be taught.

Number 7: You care about others. You've worked hard this year on learning "you before me" and I'm seeing the fruit of those efforts. You are learning to put others' needs ahead of your own. It's not always easy. We live in such a selfish world, but I'll bet it feels good to give of yourself. God will always reward you for that.

Number 6: You're a fantastic big brother. This year, you've amazed me, not only at the way you've cared about and looked after Caden, but also the way you've embraced others who've needed time and attention. Thanks for always being so helpful. I rarely hear you complain when I ask you to help. I so appreciate the way you contribute and give of yourself.

Number 5: You're so talented. This goes without saying...anyone who knows you can see that you have innate musical ability, but there are also lots of other things you do well. I can't wait to see what God does with all that talent (that often seems to come out of your ears!!). Always treat that talent kindly...nurture it, be humble, and treasure the gifts you've been given.

Number 4: Your smile and your laugh. Recently, our dear friend said that one of her favorite sounds is your laughter. It's mine too! We ALL love it when you get tickled. :)

Number 3: Your sense of humor. Just like your daddy. That just makes me all kinds of happy.

Number 2: Your loving nature. I love that you curled up in my lap tonight as I relayed the story of your birth to you. Thanks for all the hugs, "I love you's" and all the kindnesses in between.

Number 1: Your forgiving nature. Cody, I fail as a parent more times than I succeed. I know I'm tough to live with sometimes. I know I often say and do things that hurt you. I'm so flawed, so imperfect...and you see it more than anyone else, I think. I am often so undeserving of the love and grace you show me, and yet, you pour it out time and time again. This is my favorite quality that I see in you...it's Christ-likeness. I am so thankful for the ways in which God is transforming you in to a young man that reflects Him. Of all the qualities I love about you, this is the one that I appreciate so much. To God be the glory, sweetheart. Great things He has done.

I can't wait to write my top 10 list next year. You are a joy, buddy. Thanks for being you!

I love you forever and always.


Sunday, December 12, 2010


Hello, I'm here. I just don't get to update my blog very often! I had a few pictures to share, so here goes!

Since my last update, I celebrated being thirty-something with a bunch of close friends who totally surprised me. My dear friend made me a cake out of Starbursts, my favorite candy. Isn't it beautiful? Who knew you could melt Starbursts and create a fondant out of it?

We've watched the Huskers win (and lose).
We've eaten pudding for Breakfast at Nanna's house (who can beat that???),
celebrated Thanksgiving with those we love...
played dress-up with the cousins (all girls, of course),
decked the halls in preparation for Christmas (I love this little mini nativity!),
"dressed up the tree" as Caden says (he was sooooo excited to help with it this year!),
and are preparing to keep the Christ in Christmas...no matter what.
We wish you and yours a blessed, love-filled, Christ-filled holiday season!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Left My Heart in the Mountains

It's been a long while since my last post, but I finally have something blogworthy: Our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains. We have some wonderful friends who invited us to spend the week with them at their cabin in Tennessee, and so the boys and I set out on a great adventure last week. (Unfortunately, Jerry had to stay back and work. I can't tell you how many times I wished he could see what we were seeing!) Our first stop was to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. We had been there before, but it was great to visit there again and see our views and what we know to be true about the God of creation held up and respected so beautifully. That night, we stayed with a dear friend of ours in Cincinnati. It was a blessing to see her and her family and to catch up on all that God has been doing in their lives.

The next day we set off for the mountains. After a beautiful drive and lots of meaningful conversation, we arrived at the cabin. On our first day there, we went to Greenbrier which is one of my favorite places to visit in the Smoky Mountain National park. The boys played in the creek and we hiked up as far as the little ones were willing to go. On our way, one of them spotted a snake, which we quickly learned was a copperhead! We then spotted two more of them and figured we'd found a snake den!

The next day, we went to Clingman's Dome. After a very long ride up, up, up, we parked and walked up, up, up to the tippy top.It was O so beautiful. There was a 365 degree look-out point and it is one of the highest points on the mountain range where you can see for miles (I think someone said you can see three states from there). Below is one of the views from the top.

We also did something new this time that we'd never done and that was to take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The views from the lookout points were beautiful there as well...and proved why they are called the Smoky mountains!
The colors were breathtakingly stunning. I've never seen Autumn in full color like this.

One of our other favorite places to go is Greenbrier. There, you can hike, climb, and wade. It is heaven for little boys (and big ones too!). Here's Cody as the sun started to set and the fog came in. He loved skipping stones on the water.

Below is a picture the reflection of the colors on the water.

Beautiful colors abound!
Picture-perfect: My two boys taking a stroll.

It was a trip I'll never forget and always hold near and dear to my heart. I hope to return next year...but this time with Daddy! Hope you're all doing well. Happy Autumn!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Like everyone else, I will always remember exactly what I was doing and where I was when the first plane hit the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001.

I was in my car that morning, listening to the radio. As the events of that morning began to unfold and it was clear that this was not just an accident, my thoughts turned - no, sprinted - to my sister who was living in NYC at the time. I frantically dialed my mom, needing to know that she'd heard from her, that she knew something. But there was no service. No connection. Nobody could call in or out. We didn't know if she was safe. Upon hearing about the Pentagon, I turned the car around and headed home. Living so close to Chicago, and hearing about the evacuations going on downtown, I no longer felt safe. Like all of us, I felt a vulnerability as an American that I had never known in my lifetime. I'd heard my mom and grandparents talk about feeling that way at different times throughout their lives, but I'd never known that type of fear for myself.

I felt the movements of my baby and gently put my hand to my growing belly. For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt fear for him. For all of us. In three months time, he would be here. What kind of a world was this going to be for my new baby?

I got home and did what all of us did. I sat and stared at the television. In disbelief. In shock. In tears. I longed for comfort, for peace. I prayed. I grieved. That's all I could do. I remember Jerry coming home from work and insisting that we get out and go for a walk. He knew I'd been glued to the television all day and that I couldn't take much more.

In the days and weeks that followed, I wore red, white and blue and I wore it proudly. We flew our flag. All of us did. There was a unity and a love in this country that was palpable. We were all Americans that day. No separation, no division. Every street flew the stars and stripes of their country proudly. We all comforted each other, hugged strangers through tears, and resolved never to forget.

The memories of that day will be etched in my heart forever.

And I still haven't forgotten.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Post Will Be Random.

Hello. How are you?

I am tired. But I can't sleep, so here's a very random post from my home to yours.

School started last week. First up? A lesson in the armor of God. I think they look ready for battle. How about you?
As we say hello to a new school year, my thoughts wander back to some of the highlights of our summer, like seeing cousins...
Violin camp...
Lazy days at the beach...

A visit to the bean...
Silliness! (He's got LOTS of it.)
And now,

Autumn approaches...and with it comes...

And then...this? Say it isn't so...
And these...yikes...(I have friends who've already started their shopping)
And then...

How did this one get in here? (This would be Silly #2.) I TOLD you this would be random!

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

On the Road Again...

I've always had this dream of selling off everything we own...the house, our possessions and belongings...and packing up only what we needed and piling into an RV. In it, we would tour the country and make our living together as a family entertaining people and sharing the gospel wherever we went. Jerry with his guitar, me at the piano, Cody with his violin and Caden with his little egg shakers (he appears to have some talent at percussion). Of course, we'd ALL sing!

Nobody except my husband knows that I've always wanted to do this, but now you all do...

I think the thing that appeals to me most about this little pipe dream of mine is just the sheer simplicity that might come from being rid of all the things that fight for our time. Not the least of which are the jobs which are a total necessity when you have a mortgage, utility bills, and endless OTHER bills that need tending to each month. Not that having a job is all bad, mind you. My goodness. So many people are out of work...so many close to us...so I don't take it lightly that we are both gainfully employed and able to make ends meet. (Thank you, God. It is by Your grace alone!)

But the mortgage. The bills. The demands. They are never ending and often feel like a millstone around the neck. Sometimes I wonder if God can use us the way He wants to when we are so busy and so bound by these types of things.

Yes, on the road we'd be busy and we'd have a schedule to keep. I have no idea how we'd make ends meet. Perhaps we would be considered singing missionaries.

But in the RV? I imagine us singing and laughing. Loving and learning. Taking it all in and seeing the glory of God everywhere. Just...well, being together. As a family.

These three people who live with me are most precious to me. I love spending time with them. We enjoy one another so much. Our favorite place is to be wherever the others are. (And yes, in case you were wondering, I am realistic. I'm sure we'd climb the walls eventually and have times we'd pull our hair out and need our personal space.) But to travel the country! I imagine us making pit stops at the Grand Canyon, making our way up Route 66. Taking in the breathtaking views of Niagra Falls and maybe visiting Cape Cod. Seeing Colorado and Tennessee in the autumn when the leaves are showing off their brilliant colors. It just sounds so wonderful.

Oh I know. I know! It's only a dream.

But I wonder sometimes...would it be...possible?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails;
That's what little boys are made of.

Dear Cody and Caden,

Have I told you recently what a joy you are?

When you run through the house with your sandy shoes after I've just cleaned the floors, I often bellow, "ACK! Why do I bother???"

Someday, these floors will be spotless because no little feet are padding around on them. I will look back and miss the sand.

When you pull out the play-doh and build your creations after I've just washed the (vinyl) tablecloth, I often say with a groan, "Ooooooh, you guys! We're going to eat dinner and I JUST cleaned that!"

But someday, those colorful creations will be distant memories and I'll be wishing little hands were sculpting works of art at my dinner table.

When you bring home a greatbigfatsquishyslug that you found under a rock outside and run in excitedly to show me what you found, I'll often make a sound resembling "eeeeewwwwww" and ask you to promptly return it to where it came from.

But someday, the memory of those excited little smiles and treasures brought home will be my most cherished treasures.

And when you come running to bring me yet another frog or toad that you found in the yard (or the neighbor's), I often scold, "That poor thing. Please go put it back! How would you like it if someone was carrying YOU around all day?"

I am certain that someday I'll miss those dirty fingers and grubby toenails and those little hands which held God's creatures in them.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to live in the moment, to enjoy these days before they pass all too quickly. Thank you for forgiving me for my critical spirit and for being who you are. I love you both more than I can say.

And no. This does not mean that you may keep the toad. :)

All my love,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Suzuki Camp!

We recently attended our first family music camp and I finally uploaded my pictures to be able to tell you about it! Let me just say that the entire experience was wonderful, and I'm so glad we went. Here are a few photos so you can catch a glimpse of what we did while we were there.

Each day, after breakfast, Cody attended a semi-private class with three other violinists. Below is his wonderful teacher. She was so encouraging and always had both positive and constructive things to say to help him grow while he was studying with her. Next, he would attend a large group class with other children who are working through the same book as him. This was great fun, but took a lot of concentration. The children must always keep their eyes on the teacher!

Here's Cody "serenading" us one evening when we made a bonfire. He voluntarily grabbed his violin and decided to experiment with some of the fiddling techniques he'd learned while observing a class earlier in the day.
The children are doing "bow games" in the picture below, which is why the violins are on the floor in front of their feet. One of the chidren dropped her violin and the teachers thought it might be best to leave them on the floor, just in case!
Here's our (very rustic) cabin. When we first walked in to our new "home" I was a bit concerned about how it would work out, but we really were quite comfortable. It was so quiet and tranquil. I really didn't find that I was missing home in the suburbs all that much! Sometimes it's just good to keep things simple...and that's exactly what it was up there!
One of the evenings, after classes ended, we decided to slip away to a nearby beach and we had a wonderful time playing. The boys were loving all the sand and surf!
Here's Cody running on the beach. It was so clean and the water was crystal clear!
Here's little stuff...he was afraid to get in the water, but he did let daddy carry him around a bit. It was quite shallow!
There are three things my kiddos love right now: Swimming, Frogs/Toads, and Sand! There was a lot of it around our campsite and they were little dirty boys at the end of each day.
I loved this view. So did the boys!
My favorite part of the day was walking to the fiddling class. This was the view as you looked skyward.
Look at these tall trees! So pretty...
And finally, the destination. In the middle of the forest, you reach the "Jazz Bowl." The teacher of this class was absolutely phenomenal. I learned so much from watching him. It didn't hurt that he could play that violin like nobody's business!
We are loving summer. How about you?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Our Life in Pictures

We pray you are enjoying this beautiful weather as summer approaches. We got together with our neighbors over the holiday weekend and all of us were remembering how cold it was and how desperately we all wanted this warm weather to come. It's finally here!

Here, in no particular order, is our life in pictures over the past couple of weeks. We spent a day down in Chicago so the boys could celebrate the end of the school year (though we really "school" year-round). They loved splashing around in the fountains.

My students (and Cody) had their end of year recital. All of them did a great job!
Cody was in a "Geography Around the World" class this year, and he is in the front row representing Burkina Faso in Africa. He learned much about that country from good friends who were missionaries there.
We hosted some abandoned baby ducklings for a couple days until we could get them to the wildlife refuge center near us. They were so cute, but VERY loud.
The boys are always on the hunt for wildlife, and one day they found this moth on the neighbor's tree. They have also found many toads, bugs, slugs, and birds (don't ask). Ah, life with boys...
We have already taken quite a few nature walks this spring.
Here's Caden at his pre-school circus show. He was very ADAMANT about the fact that he wasn't going to participate.....
....except in the acrobatics part, because what boy DOESN'T want to swing from the monkey bars?
He also enjoyed the parts involving balloons.
Both the boys worked really hard in Awana this year. Here's Cody with his leader, Miss Jody, after earning his Sparky award (he completed three years in the Sparks program, which means he completed three entire books of bible memorization). We were so proud of him for this accomplishment.
Here he is up on the screen before receiving his award. I love that they did this for each child.
Caden completed his first year in Awana Cubbies. Here he is with his leader, "Mr. Seth."
More fun in the fountains at Millennium Park.
Having a picnic together...
...and excited to see what the summer holds. It promises to be full and busy, but hopefully PACKED with lots of fun and learning. Hope you all are doing well and that you had a great Memorial Day!