Nolan is hilarious--a couple of days ago it was beautiful outside and while we were enjoying the weather I thought it would be fun to walk through the newly harvested corn field in our backyard and gather up some of the corn that was left on the ground for our horses. Apparently my stern warnings all summer to STAY OUT OF THE CORN!, for fear of the boys getting lost in the rows, made an impact. Even though the corn is gone, he exclaimed in a panic as I headed to the field,
"NO MOM! Don't go in the corn ... you'll get all corny!"
What a hoot he is! 'Cuz yes, he was serious!
Then yesterday the farmer came back to rough disc in the corn stalks back into the soil to help build it up for next year. This left the field a mixture of dirt and corn stalks.
When Nolan awoke from his nap he noticed RIGHT away that something was different with the cornfield (To be honest, I don't think I would have even noticed if I hadn't heard the tractor out there) and he said,
The first was for a second cousin who was 49 years old. He had achieved so many great things in his short life--it was certainly a celebration of a life well lived!
Although Dan was born with hydrocephelitis and spina bifida, he proved doctors wrong and not only learned to walk, he learned to run! With the encouragement of his very supportive family who treated him and challenged him as they did all their children, he went to regular school and was exceedingly smart (reading the dictionary for fun!) He then went on to college and then on to seminary school where he became a pastor AND had a full career as a Lutheran pastor throughout Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado. He challenged the walls and beliefs of what someone with "special needs"could accomplish.
He was so good at conversation and was a light to so many. He will be missed but was ready to go home to heaven after suffering the last few years with ALS.
At the funeral I was able to visit with my Aunt Harriet who is from Colorado,
my mom (who was my co-pilot for the journey)
and my "best-cousin," Amanda, who was my side-kick on that side of the family all the while growing up. She is only one month younger than me! ... which is a BIG deal as the rest of our cousins (which are MANY) on that side of the family are at least a decade older than my siblings and I.
Strawberry Point is the town where my cousin Dan and his family live.
It's a neat town if you happen to be in Iowa.
There is the Strawberry Pt. grocery, The Strawberry Point gas station, Strawberry Point coffee house, Strawberry Gifts ... you get the idea ... and to top it off they have this HUGE strawberry by their town hall. I remember being in AWE of this as a child ... and ya know what?
Easton's sixth birthday party was in late August ... well ... I'm obviously way behind in posting!
We decided to go small with focusing on one guest, his good-good-friend Cooper, do a tour of parks in the area, have pizza and go to the motorcycle/4-wheeler races. (Jeff's choice I think!)
Unfortunately RIGHT before we went to pick up Cooper for the big night of fun, Easton broke out in unexplained hives! (That continued the next day as well, shown here in a modest oatmeal bath shot.)
Not one accustomed to medicating my children except for the occasional Tylenol need, I didn't foresee that giving him a dose of Benedryl would pretty much knock him out for the afternoon of motorcross racing! BUMMER for the birthday boy! (But what's a mom to do???)
And what boy doesn't like motorcycles?
(What mother doesn't shudder at the thought of motorcycles?)
What a bummer that he slept through nearly the whole thing and had a tummy ache! Luckily, his big brother, Brayden, stepped up and entertained his one guest quite well. They even danced in the rain midway through the races.
And they of course found some goodies for sale ... and Brayden was not shy about kicking the tires and trying it out for size. (He did attempt to get on the larger one in the background too before we screamed told him that wouldn't be a good idea and to get down NOW!
Cooper quickly followed suite with the little bike (Sorry Angie, I didn't tell you about his absolute instant love of this cycle!)
And Nolan ... dear God ... have mercy on this mama!!!
The rain did wake Easton up and cleared up his tummy ache just in time for cake: SuperHero Strawberry (can't they make Strawberry Cake white? Pink is a stretch for a boy ... but he does love himself some strawberries!)
(Nolan also in a green shirt, snuck in the side of this photo just as I clicked it, hilarious!)
And the monster truck and Marshmallow gun presents were a HUGE hit to be sure!
Did I mention that Cooper is quite the climber? He was on the top of every piece of equipment--I'm telling ya, the VERY top! (This is a short one ... the taller ones I couldn't bare to take photos but instead wanted to spot him ... as if he needed any help.)
AND Jeff and I found some pretty fun stuff to play on too.
As I am working on this month's edit to my 5 children from the ND Sponsorship Updates my heart is heavy as I try to process some sad news from friends that their sweet daughter went to meet Jesus yesterday. It was not expected at all and is such a shock. It hurts.
I was SO glad to see these beautiful photos posted by Khloe's mom of a VERY different and happy day!
As I read through Khloe's final Update, I am overjoyed to know that she has been carried in the arms of ND into her forever family. You may remember the post a few days ago about the matching dresses I surprised Wendy with for Khloe and her older sister Makayla for Khloe's very special day--her Adoption Day! **(Whoops! I just noticed that I didn't post them here on this site, but on my sewing site. Please go HERE if you'd like to see that post!)
It is a beautiful day to see a little bit of something familiar marking something so life changing and good for so many. And really? The girl does make the dress!
Khloe and Makayla--you are wonderfully made!
Thank you for sharing your day with me!
God is Good ... and His Love Endures Forever ...
I will remember that especially in the difficult to understand times.
Ever read an article that just kinda blows your hair back and just leaves you with nothing to say but, "wow."
'Cuz I imagine we all have been there at points ... maybe not due to adoption ... but because of other life changing scenarios, new baby, new job, crazy-weird kids. Times when things just seem a little bit ... BIG.
If you have a moment enjoy THIS article by an incredible writer ... and an incredible mom.
If you have difficulty clicking the THIS word above, it can be found at:
About 2 or 3 weeks ago after mowing our lawn in the humid heat of August, I took a walk down the lane to check the mail and to cool off. (Hard to believe it was that hot not that long ago as I sit here in jeans and long sleeves and I still have goosebumps!)
I'm always hopeful for a piece of something personalized in my mailbox ... as in handwritten ... but let's be real, the chances of that now days with email and texting ... is very rare.
But that day, I did see a tiny little envelope with a little red ladybug in the corner ... and it was addressed to me! Joyfully, I opened it on the spot and found not only a little sweet note, but a gift card for Starbucks just for little ol' me! ... a Starbucks Newbie.
Oh my goodness. Talk about make me cry. Right there in the middle of my gravel road, next to the mailbox! She just felt like gifting me a big hug of encouragement ... and wow ... it just really made my day!
Well, today I had the WONDERFUL opportunity to meet that "bloggy friend" and make her a real face-to-face-I've-really-met-them-in-real-person-friend! Sara and her sweet daughter, Mya, joined my youngest, Nolan, and myself for some chit-chatting over some coffee, cocoa, trains and play yard time for a few hours.
I first ran across Sara when she and her family were still living in Colorado. I was blog surfing ... it was just about the time I had come across New Day and as "luck" would have it, Sara and her husband had recently returned from ND with their sweet daughter! I was somewhat confused as to why a family in Colorado was so enamored with the Iowa Hawkeyes ... and all things Iowa like a license plate they saw in a restaurant. (?????) Come to find out, they are from around these parts! And although they returned a while back, I've never had the opportunity to meet up with her until now.
(This photo was taken by dear Mya--I love the perspective from the lower perspective of a 5 year old!)
As you can tell, Nolan was quite comfortable around them in no time! The hot chocolate and the suggestion of trains was a great way to start off the day for him that is for sure!
And the best part of the meeting, besides meeting such a great gal and her little girl, and talking about adoption and mutual blog friends and faith and caring for orphans, is that I had the opportunity to make a very special outfit for her newest little girl, Ruby, that they will be traveling for very soon, and hand delivering it to her!!! SaWeEt!
I will hold off posting any photos as I don't want to spoil the surprise, 'cuz it did turn out pretty cute I will admit! (OR you can go to Sarah's site and sneak a peek at Miss Mya modeling it HERE.) I can't wait to see Miss Ruby is IN it!
I do have to share a little something I made to go along with the outfit ... I mean, the key to any outfit IS to accessorize, right?!
And it is just perfect for this little doll I found too ...
however ... I think Ruby may be finding other things to put in her purse, as Mya instantly adopted that little doll as her own! :-)
The temperatures this morning were very chilly as Canadian air funnels down from the North into the MidWest! What a change from the low 90's of yesterday! I guess Autumn is truly here!
When I checked my email this morning I was so saddened to see one entitled "In Memory" ... from ND ... oh the heartbreak to know that when I opened it up there would be a little one who would not be received into the arms of their forever family here on Earth--but received into their FATHER'S arms in heaven. And it was not the little one who I was "preparing" my heart to hear the news about, the one who has been so sick and on everyone's mind. It was a little one with a complicated heart issue, but who quietly smiled and seemed to do so well ... at least to me, the non-medical person viewing just photos ... one who shared her birthday with my father ... who also died of a heart issue after a full and much longer life. Both lives surely made a deep impact on so many and as her Memory Card reminds us, it is not the duration of a life lived ... but the donation.
Live Deeply Today!
Which brings me to something so dear that I came across yesterday. I figured in my attempt to SURRENDER (reference the last post) I should quietly tend to the things of my heart and maybe not share them so personally blog-wise, especially when it comes to adoption and orphans.
But then I was reminded that would not be what God would want.
A God with Ultimate and Awesome Power ... wants our participation ... for His Glory.
So I share ... in the hopes that you will share and on and on and on ...
I only learned of it because someone shared it with me:
There is a fundraiser going on to raise money for a little heart baby currently at MorningStar ... and the quilt is SO beautiful I just had to share so you don't miss out on your chance to snuggle with it! You can read more of the details AND bid on the quilt HERE!
It is made in the most snuggly shades of rose, mint and brown.
And I just KNOW that it's meant for YOU!
And it's even more special because of the cause of course. And because of details like this:
The Chinese Character for LOVE.
Boy or Girl, this would be a MOST beautiful quilt for an expectant mom or an adopting mom or a new one home, even if a bit older! Who doesn't need a lovey-blankie? And quite honestly? I don't think you'd even need to have a baby or a small child to adore this quilt! You could hang it beautifully on a wall or as an accent on a bed ... or as a lap quilt to snuggle with yourself.
This and the cooler temperatures outside remind me of another quilt that I need to get working on! Oh my!! (Samuel, it's coming, slow but sure!)
Fall, for me, tends to be my purge and clean time ... for whatever reason--
It's my backwards spring-cleaning I guess. Goodness knows I'm NEVER one to throw anything away ... so it isn't some sort of discipline, maybe I just know as winter approaches I'll be shut up tight in our house for many months and a little extra breathing room would give quite a bit of freshness. Or maybe it's the gentle but persistent growl from my neat-as-pin husband that has worn me down ?
So I've been busy ... purging ...
sorting through the outgrown clothes and toys that have found their way to the basement ... although this time around they will not be refolded and organized into totes for our future use. Instead, I am preparing them to be given away. What should take a normal person most likely a half an hour, takes me the better part of the morning or lets be honest, months, as I struggle to let go of the little boy clothes and things that have so many memories of some of my nephews and of course of our 3 boys in their littlest, tenderest years.
This purging has been a long time coming ... and yet it isn't one that comes easily ... because it takes a good deal of surrender, a surrender of what has been and what could be. And in their place ... there is a void that sometimes I doubt could ever be filled.
And I hate to give up or letting go ... so I'm trying to focus on looking at this as a "giving over" instead of a final "giving up" ... even if in all honesty my faith is a bit weak.
And like any good band-aid removal by a wimp, I've had to do it slowly and painfully ... starting with a few things here and a few things there. But then there was that big ol' elephant that was in the upstairs closet. No, not the gray kind with the big ears and long trunk, although I know we have a stuffed one of those that Jeff would love to get rid of too! ...
This "elephant-in-the-house"resurfaced earlier this summer while looking into the guest room closet for something. All these unused baby clothes--an over-abundnce. Why were they hanging there uselessly? Why was I hanging on to them uselessly?
I will admit that I have known that they were there ...
and I do know that we don't have any plans to fill them with babies in the perceivable future ...
and yet why could I not let them go?
The Ruffled Feathers Tea Party earlier this August was a great opportunity to let go of a few of the little girl dresses that I had purchased through the years ... and it warmed my heart with so much love to see the little ones at New Day wearing them and finally giving them the life they deserved! And there is a bunch of little boy things that are just as eager to make the trip over there soon too. Somehow knowing that THESE sweethearts will be using them makes their parting sweeter to me.
then there was the one day that I was searching for something in my hope chest ...
and there they were ...
no, not clothes ... but another part of that elephant ...
Oh my ...
When we were expecting our first child (Brayden) we were typical first time parents with the usual unbelievable high notions of what life as parents would be like. We over prepared on things that I think back on now and laugh about and then there were other things that just never had crossed our minds until we were in the parenting trenches! HA!
One of the funny "must haves" were these wrapped candy bars that I planned on giving out after His or Her birth. They were all prepared with the girl and boy names we had chosen ... our names as parents, a place to write in the exact birth-date and time and weight ... (sigh)
I guess that is one of the pains of being a graphic designer--It's fun to make things.
We were THRILLED to use the boy ones proudly printed with Brayden's name! (But quite honestly I was so exhausted from his marathon labor and delivery I barely could write out the details on the wrappers let alone give them out! HA!)
And into the hope chest went the "girl" Ashtyn ones.
And again they came out for the trip to the hospital to have Easton ... along with the ones emblazoned with his name (which we just love!)
and back again the girl ones went into the hope chest.
However, by Nolan we had changed the name choice for a girl to be Ashlyn (so I guess the priority of candybars had fallen off of my parenting to-do list by little one number three! Or maybe I was planning on a little white out and ink? I don't honestly remember.)
But one thing that didn't miss out on the trip in the hospital bag even on trip number 3 was this:
Yup, a carefully packed ziplock bag of 3 pink outfits, hair bows, and "Daddy loves me" socks.
Of course there was a corresponding ziplock of little boy clothes for that "first-hospital-photo-of-baby" (which they charge an arm and a leg for the photo and usually it isn't very flattering ... although we of course bought it because it was OUR little baby!) And the going home from the hospital outfit ... and a back-up too. And I was blessed and thankful each and every time we have brought home a blessed baby boy into our home and arms.
But ... this ...
this ... remains unfilled ...
and even though I would never, EVER, admit that maybe there might have been a whisper of sadness that crossed my heart when I let go of the hope of a daughter each time we welcomed a son (I even had people who gave us their congratulations to us who in the next breath actually asked me POINT BLANK if I was disappointed it was another boy ... oh my goodness. How can someone dare ask that?) there is a sadness of what isn't, even in the joy of what is.
So, this last week ... I gathered my most precious, precious pink things that I didn't think I would, or could, ever let go of ... and I mailed them off to the other side of the world.
I'm not going to lie. It was not easy.
I'm selfish. And always want more.
Because it is a letting go of what I hoped would be.
And I still wish a little bit that I would have held onto the little "I Love Daddy" socks ...
I remind myself over and over that Hope always, always awaits ... and that HE answers the deepest yearnings of our hearts, many times in ways we might not imagine. There is a much bigger picture beyond ourselves and HE is in control of it all.
But it still hurts to wrestle with the thoughts and feelings, we are SO BLESSED ... and yet I still want more. It's just been a funky week of emotions that just isn't shared by anyone else in our household.
The one bright spot is that I can imagine the beautiful little ones at New Day who will finally fill these little pink things with life.
And finally I can be truthful with myself that I am surrendering all of my hope. Maybe not all at once or in a neat, tidy, non-tear filled way--but slowly-- I am giving it over to Someone higher who can do so much more than I can imagine or dream.
... it's surrender ... and it can be raw ...
but I'm hopeful ...
that something good will grow in the empty places ...
I'm a freelance graphic designer and an artist ... but my current professional title is M.O.M. I am blessed daily by being a wife to an incredible man and a mom to three wonderful boys. I love to sew and would love to create something special for you.