Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Best Thanksgiving

Natasha, Reese, Lane and Case

Case William, a precious gift

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for 
1) God's unconditional love
2) my children 
3) my husband
4) memories of my mom
5) memories of Case
7) laughter! 
8) encouragement 
9) my sentimental spirit
10) family both near and far
11) being able to express myself through this blog

Five years ago at Thanksgiving, we had tiny baby Hazel - 5 weeks old - and we had the pleasure of meeting this chunky, happy guy! Case, almost 4 months old.
Natasha and Reese were living in Coronado at the time. Natasha called me shortly after Hazel was born and said that Reese wanted to go to Washington for Thanksgiving AND Christmas! I was so excited!! Two times in the 16 years of our marriage have we visited Lynden for Thanksgiving. That Thanksgiving five years ago was one of them.
Natasha asked me to bring my camera so I could snap some pictures of their family of four. I snapped tons of pictures that weekend! 

I remembered thinking FINALLY we have healing since our mom passed away. The holiday felt more normal than previous holidays spent together. There was healing and there was joy!  
The day after Thanksgiving, my sisters and I went to lunch at the Dutch Mothers and we Christmas shopped. I ran back to Stan and Adie's to nurse Hazel, Case took a bottle from Reese's mom, Laura. It was a really fun sisters day! We ended our time at Wood's coffee. The whole weekend is etched in my memory. God knew that just less than two months later, Case would enter the gates of heaven. 
There was no sense of urgency that weekend. I felt no fear. It was like I just soaked up every moment.  Natasha said to me on Thanksgiving day, at our dads, "let's hold each other's babies." We did a lot of baby sharing that weekend. God knew.
We called Grandma Alma, Jeremy and Monica, Grandma Dorothy, some of my Zylstra aunts and cousins and many came to my dad's!

We saw everyone again at Christmas! Lots of memories were made! It was so great! And the babies were so good! 

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to The Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 

Case went to heaven on January 12th. No warning, SIDS, he was gone. He was given the best family during his short time on earth.

Natasha's blog is linked to mine. I would love for you to take the time to read it and to pray for her. She has had a life of struggles, obstacles, grief and blessings... She chooses joy and she lives by faith and I am so, so grateful for this. We are praying for her heart right now, she is 
on several meds and is experiencing tough stuff with her heart. She will go in early December to see the specialists in Anchorage again.  I am so encouraged by her faith in God! 

Life is short. We never know how long we have with our loved ones. I have several friends who are so kind to ask about my sisters, about our matters of the heart, they encourage me and I hope I encourage them!

Pictured below, our cousin Jill's little guy, Case and Hazel Jane. All of these cousins met each other for the first time that Thanksgiving day!! 

Jackson (Jill's son), Case and Hazel

Joan and Case

Grandma Alma and Case



The cousins! 
Me, Natasha, Grandma Alma and Lesha

Willem and Hazel

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A hot cocoa party on a Sunday afternoon

I mentioned in my most recent blog post that my brother Phil was here for a little visit Friday evening. The kids were so excited to greet him when he got here! We ate Taco Soup, visited and watched old home movies.  I recently had old tapes put on DVDs. I enjoyed seeing Christmas at Vic and Kris', our nieces Molly and Hannah with their cat, family time in Stan and Adie's old family room - before the remodel -  time in Lynden...The clip we watched with Phil was of us in Moses Lake one weekend when Natasha, Matt, Phil and our mom came to town. Seeing our mom made both of us smile. Her laughter on the video is precious. I was reminded that we had so much fun just doing silly things or just being with each other.
Maybe that is what prompted our little hot cocoa party Sunday. I need time on the floor, giggling and soaking up these kids. -- The Santa candle pictured above was a really sweet thrift store find last week. It brought back a sweet memory. Growing up, our dad was never much into Christmas. Our mom always got the tree, did all the shopping etc. Sure he liked having the family around the table for a nice dinner but as far as gifts and parties and decorating went, he didn't enjoy it much.
One Christmas when I was maybe six years old, he went down to the Sunrise Store (the corner store on the road we lived on) and bought me and Lesha each a few things. (It was just the two of us then) He bought Lesha a snowman candle and he bought me a Santa candle. It was almost just like this one. He gave us little change purses too. It was really special to me. Every year I set that Santa candle on my dresser. I never lit it. It was a sweet reminder. A reminder of the Christmas that dad surprised us with fun little gifts. I don't know what happened to that candle, but when I spotted this one at Goodwill the other day I stopped. I was flooded with memories. You know the moments when your eyes fill with tears, but you are smiling? --------- I miss my mom so much. I missed for a moment being a child. I felt thankful for that gift given to us on the Sunrise road. I thanked God for the gift of family.

We see  my dad almost every Christmas now and he loves the time with family. He laughs at the funny things his grand kids do. He makes us a delicious dinner. He is generous to give us a money to save or to spend. I will never forget the year when he picked out a gift.  
 All of my kids are handling this candle like it is so special! But, I haven't even told them the story. Hazel was sure to have it as part of our hot cocoa party. I have been enjoying the Christmas decor at the thrift stores so much. I am seeing ornaments that we used to have. I saw a ceramic angel that was so similar to one my mom got out every Christmas. I bought it for Hazel's room. How is it that I am becoming even more sentimental? I try to pack up Oren's baby clothes and it is so hard for me... I will always be the sentimental type! (a bit of a hoarder too, truth be known)

This Christmas season I am so excited to make a lot of memories with my children! To bake, to sing Away in the Manger with Hazel and Oren, to decorate the tree, to enjoy the lights... and most importantly, focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The gift of Jesus!

no hot cocoa for Oren
We gave him a mini marshmallow but he had no idea what it was so he didn't eat it!
He does, however, now know what popsicles are! Frozen juice bars are Oren's treat. This little guy has been SO healthy! I think part of the reason is because he doesn't have many sweet treats at all.
He loved our hot cocoa party and chose to spend most of his time reading.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oren Paul, Phil visits, life around here...

I took these pictures on October 19th.
I can't believe how much the weather has changed since then.
We were still running out to the garden almost daily to gather produce! I already miss that.
I have to check on my kale. I wonder if that too is even done.
My friend Maria had given me this interesting Oregano plant that just TOOK off! Oh, I wish I would have brought some little starts indoors before the cold weather hit us hard.

I can't begin to express how much joy this boy brings us. I don't know if I am an "older mother"... some would say yes, others would say no. I soak him up in so many ways. He has been an independent child in many ways. He goes to other people far better than Merit and Willem ever did at this age. Both he and Hazel have been more social at a younger age.  He is a great napper. He can be a character! He LOVES giving Willem kisses. The rest of us, only sometimes. He likes pretending to be a baby lion. His expressions are priceless.

And now brrr it is cold outside! Being cozy inside feels good! 

Phil was passing through for work. He was on his way back from Montana. We enjoyed Taco Soup with him, home movies and some laughs! I have some really neat old home movies of our mom. It is so good to hear her voice and her laugh. Phillip left early Saturday morning to get back on the road. I LOVE being the oldest of five. I do have to say that I think of my siblings all the time and with losing our mom, I have a certain amount of "mom worry" for my siblings. But when that worry creeps in, I am reminded to pray. I love being able to pray for my brothers and sisters and I love time spent with them. 

These FOUR!

Oren really likes to read. He points at the pictures, shows us the pictures. I love his jabber. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Good bye fall, hello brrrrr

on the go
This photo was taken maybe 4 days ago, when being barefoot outside still felt good! 20 degrees today! Our temperatures dropped QUICKLY!

Hazel wanted to get a pic of me on a fall walk the other day! :)

Oren was a darling monkey for Halloween!

Reise, Merit and Will on Halloween!

He still doesn't eat candy, so he really wondered about all the hype! 

I love FALL!
And THIS girl!

Our trees were gorgeous for about ten days. Now, the leaves are gone!
And although I posted before... here is our little Tiana on Halloween.
I didn't get any pics of the four children together.
It was a fun night! Trick or Treating with lots of friends.

I am sipping a hot, nonfat, decaf caramel latte.
Tastes so good on a really cold day
I enjoyed craft time with friends last night in our loft. It was so good for the soul. Being encouraged by sweet friends is such a blessing!
Having the kids home yesterday was such a sweet treat!!! Movies, games, Dominoes... I loved it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thrifting, enjoying the weekend, thinking about Christmas...

My Christmas Goodwill purchases! So fun!
Yesterday Merit and Willem each had two basketball games. 4 games and 4 wins! Pretty great! Then we had pizza here with Cary and Nathan! They were here from Alaska, just passing through. 
Hazel was under the weather yesterday, but is feeling much better today! 

I am feeling artsy.
My friends Marianne and Shannon are part of the decorating team for church.
They always do a beautiful job! Once the "theme" for Christmas is decided, I start hunting... I can to contribute and work a little bit with these great gals! It inspires my creativity.

a weekend thrift store purchase for the cabin!

Frozen mango juice bars... Oren had one for the first time and LOVED it!

Oh and Kelly - I have loved the conversations with you! 
Kelly is a friend that Natasha introduced me to. We have been encouraging each other, helping each other set goals; it has been great!! 
And she gets excited about good thrifting too! :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Busy days

We have had a couple of really busy weeks! 
I LOVE night time reading with Hazel and Will. Willem reads to us a bit but mainly I read to them. They have both been interested in some of the same books. Oren goes to bed great! 30 minutes or an hour before the others. Then we cozy up and read, but I have to say we have been bad about it over the past week. I was asleep on the couch last night at nine. Basetball is really busy! Also, my photography has kept me hopping! So much fun though.

He loves to explore in the garden and dig in dirt...

I am missing a picture of the oldest! Next time...