Monday, December 31, 2012

Illlinois Farm Families: Field Mom Opportunity

Do you care about how your food is raised? Do you have questions about why, when and how chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are used and how the animals you eat are cared for?

Then perhaps you should check out the website with the mission to show you how farmers grow your food, answer your questions about farms, farmers and farming and share with you what really happens on today's Illinois farms.  
Additionally, Illinois Farm Families is looking for urban/suburban moms from the Chicago area to tour Illinois farms in 2013 and share what they see and learn. Find the application here. Deadline is January 20th. It might be kind of fun!

Celebrating with the 'S' Family

Pictures of our time together with the this past weekend celebrating. While coming and going at different times throughout the weekend, we were all there for mom's amazing Christmas dinner, sharing gift & stockings. So much fun to be together!
U.Blake and little 'L' who is such a snuggler

a favorite stocking stuffer item -- a light up ball on a stick!

Zachary asked for an A+ in ANY of his classes; he recv'd a A+ in ALL of his classes from grandma & grandpa; if only it was that easy!
A.Raelynn reading to Jared & Moriah
I was playing with & teasing Jonah and captured this big grin -- love it!
Karissa is not always easy to capture with the camera; makes this picture extra sweet
his very own fishing pole. one excited little boy! FISH BEWARE :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Some Holiday Bowling

My mom has a CD on which there is a song with the following lyrics:
I got the wiggy wiggy wiggles and I can't slow down
The squizzy squizzy squirmies, got to move around
The busy busy buzzies like a buzzin' fly
The silly willy nillies and I don't know why.
The 'grands' LOVE this song, probably because it is so applicable to them, especially the three little boys. So, as part of our Christmas together-ness, we spent a couple of hours after unwrapping gifts and before dinner at a local bowling alley in an attempt to contain/exhaust some of those wiggles. And while the bowling scores were mostly dismal, it was super-fun, for kids & adults alike. 
Xander was SUPER-stoked to get a new pair of shoes for Christmas & bummed when he had to give them back :)
grandma & a couple of her boys
he LOVES making this face; ALL my pictures would look like this if the X-man had his way!

Together With the 'H' Family

I have learned much this past holiday season (and in the months prior, too) but maybe nothing more impactful than having a heart of gratitude for the priviledge of family. No family is perfect. No family is without its troubles. No family loves one another faultlessly. Supports each other flawlessly. Family time can be loud & conversations conflicted. And yet for most of us, being with family offers a haven that can be found nowhere else. 
Family is THERE even when our troubles are inconvenient or our focus is self-centered. Family is THERE when crisis happens. And THERE when there's reason for celebration. Family is THERE even when no words are spoken. Here is a glimpse of some of those whom I am blessed to call my family.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning at Home

Our holidays have been a bit abbreviated because of a continuing battle with strep/flu/migraines/fever/coughs/sniffles and various other symptoms the past week. So, while we were blessed to all be together & at least partly functioning on Christmas morning, it was kind of low-key. 
The book, Room for a Little One, was gifted to us by a friend the first Christmas after Xander joined our family. Blake has read it every year since. A sweet story which I highly recommend for those will little ones/toddlers.  
And because reading books is perhaps even MORE exciting than opening gifts for our little guy, we followed up with another version of The Christmas Story.
 And then, he X-man finally revealed the lump @ the bottom of his stocking -- a clydesdale pony.
And to further illustrate how not-on-the-top-of-my-game I was, this is basically the sum-total of pictures I took of our Christmas Day :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

To those who did not receive our family's holiday card & letter, here is a peek into our lives.
Our family expanded this past year…but not exactly in the way we anticipated. While we hoped to receive a referral/match with an orphan from Ethiopia, instead God ushered in four little ones thru Safe Families for Children (SFFC) ministry. Avante (January-April), Sarahlynn (May), Giana (June) and Lily (October) all came and left, taking pieces of our hearts. This ministry has s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d our family and while the work can be hard, we rejoice in knowing “…God shall supply all [our] need according to His riches in glory thru Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:19). Oh, and we also had a houseguest, nicknamed by Alexander “the amazing Ayo” stay with us several months. He is the inspiration behind X-man’s plans to become a NFL football player. Once he learns to catch a ball with his eyes OPEN, I may take him more seriously!
Blake continues to juggle his responsibilities managing the Outpatient Physical Therapy Department at Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital, chairing the Government Affairs Committee of the IPTA, and finishing up his MBA while being a husband and dad. I can say ‘finishing up’ in regards to the MBA since he needs to complete only two more semesters to earn his degree. There WILL be a celebration!
My days look like those of many SAHMs – trips to the library, fitness classes at the YMCA, playdates with friends, laundry/meals/housework, frequenting resale shops & garage sales to keep up with an ever-growing boy. I continue as editor of a small Christian newsletter, Titus2 and volunteer at Evangelical Child & Family Agency (ECFA) as time allows.
Alexander. Xander. X-Man. All the same little boy. Chatty. Imaginative. Loves PBJs and striped cheese (also known as co-jack). Hilarious one moment. An emotional disaster the next. He has embraced being a big brother to our SFFC kids and one night, while I was talking on the phone to a caseworker said excitedly, “Does she have another one [child] for us?”  He talks about his little brother in Africa coming home to stay FOREVER & then flying to Kenya to go on a safari adding, “Sorry, mom. You can’t come. It’s for daddy & the boys only”. He asks lots of questions and is always making future plans often beginning with, “When I grow up, when I am a dad with three boys…”He gets in trouble, innocently explaining an empty space on the cookie pan, “But, Mom. It wasn’t stealing because I didn’t think you’d notice.” He mostly refuses any kind of snuggling, wants to lay out his own clothes, loves getting new socks and endures errands to the bank/cleaners only because of the free lollipops. During both the good and the oh-so-not-good moments, our prayer remains that he, like Jesus, will grow, become strong, be filled with wisdom and the grace of God (Luke 2:20).
Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a new year filled with grace & love.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

4Yr Olds Preschool Program 2012

Today was 'program day' at preschool. Blake was able to take a couple of hours off work & grandpa/grandma S. came to school, too. The kids acted out the Christmas story with mostly teacher narration; the only 'speaking parts' were the phrases: "No room!" and "Good news!":) Most of the 4Yr olds had stage fright but they were still great!

the class, minus the off-stage angels

the wiseman, the star (in gold), mary & joseph

the oh-so-cute innkeeper...
...who had a case of the sniffles and partway thru the program pulled a tissue out of his cloak which must have been sweetly placed there by a teacher :)
little Ty-Ty kept peeking over his dad's shoulder at me so I had to snap a picture :)
singing 'Jingle Bells' with classmate
the angels, 2 of the 3 girls in the class

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Seeing the Future

I sometimes, umm...ocassionally, OFTEN find my thoughts turning towards the future. What if? When will? I can't wait for... These kind of thought randomly flitter thru my mind. And while I acknowledge it is critical to live in the present, I believe it is human-nature for our eyes to turn to the future, too.

I must admit that in my "former" years (i.e. childhood, high school/college, etc) I spent an exborbirant amount of time fearing the future. I wanted to know what was going to happen, when it would happen, how it would happen. Why? So I could plan. And prepare. And craft a PlanB, just in case. 
Fast-forward a few years. Okay, let's be honest, my college days are more than just a FEW years in the past! That brings us to my "current" years. I still think about the future, wondering what the next days/weeks/years will bring. I will admit, if God ever offered a come-and-get-a-copy-of-your-life's-roadmap giveaway, I would be first in line. But, thankfully, as I have grown in faith and have seen the faithfulness of God, the paralyzing fear is less present throughout my days. My ability to predit future events has not changed; God still does not allow us to know the future. But I think my trust in God has grown. I don't need to know the details only "that He will never leave nor forsake me." An article in a recent Guideposts (December 2012) stated, "...we DO know, in fact, what the future holds. It holds God's perfect love, waiting for us in every tomorrow."

It was a good reminder for me, so I thought I would share with hopes it might encourage your heart, too.