Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A treasury of days

We have lived in "The Old House" for one year today. When I think about Christmas last year I recall how unsettled we all were. Our house felt unfamiliar, almost foreign. But now....well, now so much Life has happened here it just can't be "The Old House" anymore. It's our Home.

We seem to have found our rhythm. Aaron still travels (almost) each week, but his office is at when he's not on an airplane or sleeping in a hotel bed, he is here. The kids enjoy taking their toys and books, maybe even a pet or two, with them into Dad's office and keep him company while he spins all those plates.

Being back at Evergreen has been one of the sweetest blessings to our family.We are grateful everyday for the gift of our precious country school. I imagine that there are not many public schools left that have "The Bible Bus" come at recess or a Christmas program that includes The Nativity complete with "Silent Night."

From fencing to horseback riding, piano, violin, youth group, and serving at the fellowship we met and married is very good. From last Christmas to this, I don't think that one family holiday has been anywhere but here. This a wonderful home for gatherings.

Life is far from perfect. We have our share of struggles. But when I think about my grandparents and the way they lost their son to a senseless act of violence very similar to those families in Newtown who are navigating through their own unfathomable heartbreak...I remember that this house, these children, my husband...all of this can be gone in a moment. So, to honor my uncle, and to honor those who wish to hold their little ones tonight, I stop. I stop to hold them all and then I lay all of these precious treasures at the feet of our Savior...who is our Hope and Peace beyond the grave.

 A legacy of beautiful Mom & Grandma
 Daddy's Girl
 She dances to Christmas music...everyday.
 The best brother.
 Our church Christmas Tea. AbbySue & Abbi.
 Sometimes I just take her out to lunch...because she's not going to be this little much longer.
 Mom made this shawl for me before Aaron and I were married. The perfect remedy for a winter cold.
 This is the "Bible Bus". One of the may reasons we LOVE our Evergreen.
 Ben is getting to be quite the fencer!
AbbySue last night, on her way to the youth group Christmas party. Ugly sweater...beautiful daughter.

Monday, December 10, 2012

shellfish kids

Zibby (along with her siblings) has acquired a taste for mussels. She has had them on both coasts. For a solid week she has been asking both Aaron and I to make her a bowl of mussels. I've never made them....but I'm thinking a dinner of mussels might be on the menu soon.

Gosh our kids eat weird things.

Westport, Massachusetts
Loving the longneck clam...a very scary looking food. 

very good music

She is one of my favorite artists...and this album is simply beautiful.

exhorting, encouraging, comforting...

thank you Sara Groves.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

you can't always get what you want

Zibby is always trying to straighten her hair.

I had no idea that a five year old would even notice that her hair was curly.

She does.

When her smooth headed cousins come to visit, I see her trying to tame those ringlets.

But that hair is about as stubborn as the girl who wears them.

So, tonight when she got out of the shower, she tried the new brush I bought on those unruly curls.

She must've brushed it for almost ten minutes, willing her hair to lay down flat against her face and shoulders.

And it worked, for a minute.

She comes running.

"Mommy, who do I look like! Who do I look like?"

I was stumped.

"I look like an eight year old." She runs over to the big window to catch her reflection. "See, I look like Lily!" (Her very straight haired 9 year old cousin.)

But all that I could see was that one ringlet popping back into place, framing her elfin face.

"You look perfect." I smiled.

Maybe one day she'll appreciate that hair of hers.

Because Mommy loves it.

as straight as it gets...
and those curls. 

Being We

We all loved last Saturday.

Piling into "Big Red". Plugging in our favorite James Taylor Christmas Album. And driving up the hill to good old Reinhart's to find the perfect tree.

This has been a Kookie tradition for years and very much missed while we were away.

Zibby asked, "How do we know which tree is the best?"

"It will talk to you." Mommy fibbed.

And so the five year old would walk up to each tree, "Hello? Hello? Is it you?"

Candy canes, hot cider, smiles, remembering, and looking forward...the first candle glowing.

Advent is beautiful and it's a part of being We...

The Kookies that I love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



The Beavers lost the Civil War and Mommy did not punch anyone.


You cannot see lice on blonde headed children until they are big enough to wave back at you.


Vinegar can cure (almost) anything.


My Grandma is the strongest lady I know.


Candyland is for 5 year olds....Clue is not.


Kids are good forgivers.


If you are unfortunate enough to walk into a wasp nest, you will get stung...a lot. You will run into your house with wasps all over you. Your family will get stung by wasps...even your dog. And if you were so brave that you crushed a couple of those mean old wasps in your tiny hand, you will become the most courageous five year old in town. And you will brag about it.


Fencing is not for sissy's. Fencing will leave bruises. Fencing masks might carry lice into your home.


If you attempt to "decorate" the yard of a family of Duck fans with 6 kids in tow, you will get caught.


Two Thanksgivings are better than one.


God is so very, very, Good.

And He loves us....incredibly.

 Zibby and Ben playing pioneers on a chilly Sunday just before the wasp attack.
 My grandma/Mamo, Patricia Dawn Wheatley Henderson, up and smiling after a triple bypass on the week of Thanksgiving.
 Our Friday night Thanksgiving dinner, celebrated early so that Mamo & Papo could join us before the surgery.
 Ben's first fencing tournament. Such a fun sport to watch.
These three beautiful blessings after being tortured and scoured by lice combs & vinegar rinses. The entire house has never been so sanitized....nor have their heads been so clean!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

lessons on losing

"Well, Mom, I didn't get elected Vice President."

"Oh, I'm sorry Ben. You would've done a great job. But, I'm so proud of you for trying."

"It's okay...I knew it would be close."

"Are you sad?"

"No, not at's no big deal."


"But, when Austin started bragging about it at recess I kind of wanted to punch him."

"I understand. But, if you had won, you would've been proud too."

"It was different than being proud. It was obnoxious."

"Well, I'm sorry about that. But losing builds character. Look at Abraham Lincoln. He lost way more than he won. But he didn't let that get him down."

"I know about Lincoln, he was shot in the back of the head...anyway, I'm done with politics. I'm going to be a Lego designer and a dad."

"Those are great things to be Ben. But I also know that you are a gifted leader, so don't let losing get you down. It's an important part of life. Honestly though, if the Ducks beat the Beavers in the Civil War, I guarantee I'm gonna feel like punching someone too."

He smiles.

Kiwanis Terrific Kid of the Month
No doubt about it. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

on justice for all...

"Who do we vote for? Why do we vote? Does my vote matter? What are you and Dad...Republican or Democrat?"

The influence we have on the opinions and convictions of our children cannot be taken lightly.

This morning we prayed,

"Lord, thank you for our country. Thank you for our freedoms. Thank you for the faith of our forefathers. Thank you for the men and women who have given their lives for liberty and justice for all. Lord, today is in Your hands. We ask that you would direct the hearts of our country to their knees. We ask that you would appoint the leader for our nation that You will. We know that all things are in your hands and that You are working it all together for Your perfect plan. You are in control. Thank you for that knowledge and peace...even when it's hard to know who or what to vote for. You are God. ~Amen."

Aaron and I are registered to different political parties, but agree on most issues. We want the kids to grow with an independence of opinion that is first and foremost surrendered to the convictions that they have been given through the Spirit of God.

I'll be honest...both candidates are not my first choice, but...

 I will not let that stop me from voting. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Understanding Happy

It has taken me eleven years to understand Happy.
I know what it is now.
(I should've known the day you were born...smiling.)
And I know why it's misunderstood.

AbbySue will never dress in black.
Depression is afraid of her.
The skeptic will misunderstand her.
The envious will label her.
Educators will misjudge her.
And her peers will cross their arms, shaking their heads at her colorful socks, her un-inhibted laugh, her eagerness to share, her ready embrace....they will say that she is weird.


It is a little weird that a single human soul could truly be this;


So yesterday, when meanness tried to apologize and you so clearly had already forgiven...grown ups dropped their jaws at you....

"Don't worry." you said. "This is part of being a kid. We can work it all out. It's water under the bridge!"

You out-shined mean.

How can someone like that be un-happy?

This weird world can take a lesson from you sweet girl.

Your Mom & Dad are proud.

5 years

Monday, October 29, 2012


I sit this evening, watching the harvest moon glow through the outstretched limbs of the old spruce tree.  The autumn air stands still and warm. It's late October. Our chorus of bullfrogs sing as AbbySue gently plays a melody on the rented violin. Ben & Zibby snuggle under clean sheets, golden heads resting together...the brother reads and little sister listens. Daddy is somewhere in the sky, already missing all of this home we share. For us, goodbye's provide, and so we've learned to be grateful...because "there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing." And so I pause, guiltless, grateful, and ready to...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fourth Grade Politics

"So, Ben, how is the campaign going?" (me)
(Ben is running for class Vice President at the request of his classmates.)

"Pretty good I'd say." (him)

"So, who are you running against?"(me)

"My friend Austin." (him)

"Oh. Who do you think will win?"(me)

"Well, Austin told me today, 'Ben, you better be ready, 'cuz you are going down!'" (him)

"What did you say?" (me, laughing)

"I said, Yah...maybe. But be careful...'pride goeth before a fall you know.'" (him, nonchalantly) 

Ben, you never cease to amaze me. 

Hilarious boy. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the apple doesn't fall far...

Oh Zibby, You are a very strong soul. If you were a boy, you would've been named "Stonewall". I know that your focus and determination will go far. Sometimes, people call you "strong willed" (too much negative press in my opinion.) They said that about me too. I prefer a better adjective..."un-bending". The truth is, if you want to be "strongest" you must bend to One. Keep bending your heart towards your Heavenly Father. And He will lift you up...higher than you ever could on your own. You are my heart. I know that you feel things deeper than you would ever lead us to believe. I love that you have this quiet strength. We share a lot of things....even our temperamental wavy, straight, crazy hair. I love you. ~Mommy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

on finding a craft that does not involve counting

It's called needle felting and in case you are like me and become easily distracted by crafts that require patterns or counting this one might be for you. I read a little bit online about how it's done and then decided to give it a go. This little bird was made over the weekend, usually in the evening while cozied on the couch next to the hubby watching Doc Martin.

I had a bag of roving (wool) that I had bought and divided along with a few friends at the end of spring, but it sat waiting until the rains kept me inside long enough to sit down and do something besides digging in the dirt with these hands of mine.

At first the wool just looks like a blob while you poke away at it with (a very sharp) felting needle.

"ouch! ouch!" (me)

"What in the world are you doing?" (him)

"I'm making a bird. Do you think it looks like a bird yet?" (me)

"Maybe." (him)

poke, poke, poke....

2 days later on the couch in evening.

"How a 'bout now? A bird?"


So, I guess I found a crafty thing I enjoy.

Now, to find some protection for my poor fingers.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

City Pumpkin

No school for two days last week meant that the kids and I could drive up to Seattle to spend time with Daddy. We stayed at out favorite hotel. The one with the big, old windows, views of the sound, and just a few blocks from the waterfront.

The city is becoming a kind of "home away from home" for us and we've been making the most of all that it has to offer. 

So, on Wednesday, I packed up the car, picked up the kids from school, and we headed "straight" up...("Mommy, I'm thirsty, Mommy, I have to pee...again...means a three hour journey quickly becomes a more than four hour trip. Thankfully, we missed rushed hour!) 

We pulled into the hotel just before 8:00. The kids ran in, headed upstairs, threw on their bathing suits, and begged to be taken to the pool. 

Note to parents....the pool is key when looking for a hotel. Trust me.

Because we came straight from school, the kids had their backpacks, and AbbySue had gone to the pumpkin patch for a field trip that day. I noticed that she had already decorated her little pumpkin with wide eyes and an expressive grin. 

The next morning that pumpkin sat on the hotel table, smiling at us all, making us feel Octoberish. I snapped a quick photo and labeled it "City Pumpkin".

An idea! Why not take "City Pumpkin" with us for a day and take photos of his adventures with us around the city? 


The kids had the best time setting him up and thinking of fun places to take his picture. 

They would laugh when I would say, "Wow, City Pumpkin is such a good little traveler. Oh my, City Pumpkin hasn't complained of being hungry once! Gosh, City Pumpkin has amazing bladder control!"

It was a blast. 

So, here it is..."The Adventures of City Pumpkin in Seattle."

We gotta do this again!

 City Pumpkin
 At Ivar's
 On the docks
 Enjoying the Market
 Tourist shot
 Refreshing dip in the pool
 Out to eat
 Taking in the views

Sleepless in Seattle

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

bridge crossing daughters

As mentioned in a previous post, this mom was taken by surprise when her firstborn baby girl decided to begin growing up. We have been gently navigating our way through the aisles of training bras and deodorant.

Still a child in outlook and imagination, our AbbySue is braving these edges of puberty like a pro.

Part of me wanted to believe that if I just put it off, she would stop all of this silly "changing into a young lady" nonsense. But, alas, nature cannot be denied and I have a full blown blossoming daughter on my hands.

What to do, what to do?

Cry into my pillow like a baby...(yep, did that)...

then suck it up and embrace the beauty of it all.

A dear friend of mine, who also has a "bridge crossing daughter" under their roof, loaned me a lovely little book called Gentle Passages by Robin Jones Gunn. What struck me most as I read was the way the author involved her love and experience as a woman and a mother into commemorating her daughter becoming a woman. She made it special.

Although our AbbySue hasn't yet crossed over into womanhood, this book encouraged me to be involved and help guide her, hand in hand, along the way.

So, last week I told AbbySue that I had a special day planned on Saturday, for just the two of us. I put together a little gift and we drove up to the Mt. Angel Abbey, found my favorite stone bench over looking our beautiful Willamette Valley, and shared with her my heart about the changes ahead and what a gift God has given us when He created us as women.

She listened, wide eyed, leaning in, catching every word, like I was letting her in on a very special secret.

At that moment I was so grateful for the opportunity to share this moment together. I realized how wrong I was to try taking a back seat to her growing up. 

She understands that I'm here for her...always. 

The rest of our day was spent sharing a trip to Bridgeport Village, enjoying hamburgers and frozen yogurt, all the while talking together, and (me) answering questions that she now felt comfortable enough to ask.

The day was a both of our hearts.

I'm guessing that our stone bench up at the Abbey will be occupied by another little daughter in the not too distant future.

And I will be a little less afraid.

At the Abbey with my AbbySue

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I almost forgot how to blog...

Wait a minute! What!? It's already October? Holy cow. I feel like I'm in a fast forward version of life. I have never been so busy...ever. Where has the time gone...

Well, let's begin with their first day of school...back at "better than ever Evergreen." Just two minutes down the road, we are blessed with our tiny, country K-8 public school, surrounded on all sides by gold fields and sprawling farms. Their teachers are imaginative, challenging, loving, and fun. I have the opportunity to help out on Thursdays in Zibby's class and drop in on the other two whenever I feel the need. We love our school. We are so grateful to be back.

I could go on forever about other moments that He has given us... my daughters with their "heidi braids" and dirndls at Oktoberfest, our music lessons on the Abiqua with Miss Miriam, Ben fencing Epee league and our Thursday drives down Sunnyview into Salem together, Zibby's third year dancing her heart out at ballet, AbbySue horseback riding under the sunny oak trees of Canyonview on a autumn afternoon, our small town homecoming parade and the Evergreen Eagles Avengers float (that, I must add, won first place....the kids won't let us forget), the annual "Evergreen Dessert Social" where our community of parents "Simply Gave" to their beloved school in the "shed" that Rachael and I decocrated to hearts content, celebrating "Hobbit Day" with our Lord of the Rings friends (thank you Buckouts), Sunday sunrise drives to lead worship and fellowship at our church, and the list goes on and on....just like so many families at this season of life, we are blessedly busy!

Some of my favorite moments as of late have been when Aaron and I head out to work in the "yard". I use the term loosely...the truth is, our property can be a huge amount of work. Our hands are growing thick with callouses as we work side by joke...chopping fire wood, hacking out old trees, making burn piles, and building compost, feeding the chickens, and all the time laughing at the fact that we don't know what the heck we are doing! Trail by fire I guess. We like to think that by the time our grand kids are around we just might have this place under control. Ha!

My heart has so much to say...and I know there will time provided to share more of those deep things that the Lord has been lovingly teaching us. One word that He has been speaking to me in the midst of this hurry is "Contentment". It's a treasure trove of blessing when we decide to apply it liberally to every moment of this life He gives.

...but there must always be time to play.  We take it seriously around these parts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

what an imagination will do for you...

"Mom, sometimes I imagine my life as a story. It's like I can see all the things that happen to me written out in a book. Sometimes when I'm doing something dangerous...I can see it in words and slow motion. And if I think that I might die while doing that dangerous thing...I see the words at the end of the chapter saying, "Is this the The End of Ben?..."

Funniest kid ever!

I just don't know if I always want to know the dangerous thing that he might be doing.

The always adventurous Ben as McGyver 
(this photo cracks me up on a number of levels!) 


(My little girl and my little lady)

I don't know what it is lately, but I am having the hardest time with how much AbbySue has changed.
And I 3 inches in 3 months and the beginnings of being a lady kind of change.
I'm so overwhelmed by it.
To be honest, I'm even annoyed.
I can feel myself getting aggravated  at her for getting older, as if it's her fault or something.
I know it's wrong.
I hate that I'm upset over her not being little anymore...but it seems so final.
I've gone over all of those things that we have to look forward to as she grows into a young lady and most importantly, into a woman who reflects the love and grace of Christ.
But I'm still upset.
I miss her tiny self and I miss the moments of wide eyed wonder.
Nothing can change the way I love and treasure her.
It's just that she is so clearly different and I find myself floundering around trying to figure out how to be this mini-woman's Mom, how to let her learn without me hanging over her shoulder and nagging her about standing up straight or making healthy choices. How to give her room to express her heart without nit picking the clumsiness...or the speed at which she speaks (which is like a blur of words lately.)
I can see me trying to keep her safe from the mistakes I've made (instead of trusting her Maker)... and me, trying to mold her into my own idea of what she should be. prayers lately have been something like this,

"Father, please forgive me for my lack of grace with this precious daughter. You have grace with me. Please give me understanding and quietness. Help me to love her that she never doubts how incredibly honored I am to be her Mom. I could never thank You enough for the gift of her life. She teaches me what it means to be true, genuine, honest, and how to trust. Take our hands and walk us though these tender years. Thank you Jesus. ~Amen."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Holding on...

 These two big kids are down the road at Canyonview Horse Camp for 3 nights and four days! I just got off the phone with Ben the Man who was  calling to"check in on you." Homesickness goes both ways buddy.
 This girl and her mommy have been treasuring our last week together before she sets off for kindergarten. What a blessing to have her all to myself while Daddy is in Idaho and the kids are at camp. We have had our own little adventures and she officially said goodbye to her training wheels today. (Thank you Wyatt!)
 Because Mommy is going through some major emotional issues about letting her little ones go she said yes to the crazy idea of adopting these two fur balls. The calico is Zibby's and she named her "Rosie", the orange tabby is AbbySue's and she named him "Pippin." Ben told us he now "gets Dot" even though he has developed an allergy to cats.
 Loving when he's home.
  Holding on to all of these precious memories and any of our fruits and veggies that the deer haven't gotten to first!

Goodbye've been lovely.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I like her spunk...

Look a little closer and you will see that my five year old has a six pack. I'm not bragging...she was seriously born a solid mass of muscle. I have not encouraged her to be athletic, she just is. The same goes with music....this girl wakes up every morning and plays the piano for almost an hour. Again, I'm not bragging, I don't expect her to do this, she just does. She can figure out notes to music and sings perfectly on pitch. She has taught herself how to write and cartwheel and crack and egg without breaking the yoke. She is fiercely determined. It's kind of funny to me that she is our third...not at all the center of attention. In fact, she is at her best when the focus is not on her. We were mentioning to our friends the other day a funny little story about just how fierce our Zibby is...

A few weeks ago the cousins were all here and the kids were heading out to the tent for bed. All of us adults were relaxing, watching the Olympics when the peaceful summer night was interrupted by a blood curdling scream. It was Zibby, she had placed a bare foot on one of those giant, slimy slugs. The girl was clearly creeped out. I carried her inside and set her on the kitchen counter to wash of the ick. Tear stained and traumatized, she wipes her face, furrows that blond brow and evenly says, "Get the salt." 

I don't think anyone can get in her way but God. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


 August 11, 2001

Still as sunny as the day you were born...our happy AbbySue.