Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrapping Up Gratitude

Now that Christmas is past and the new year begins tomorrow, I guess it's about time for me to finish up this Thanksgiving post!! :)

For most of the years since we moved back to the States, we have made the trek to my brother's house in Pennsylvania for our Thanksgiving celebration. The year that I was heavily pregnant with Tobin, we did not; but if my memory serves me well, all the other years, we have. This year, not being pregnant at all, I was eager to make the trip.

Because Jeff had to work on the day after Thanksgiving (like always), we went up and back in a day, rather than spending the night. Six hours on the road is a long time, but it's worth it for a chance to be with family.

This year, we were fortunate enough to borrow a wonderful large van from some friends (thank you, friends!). Jeff grew very fond of it and didn't want to give it back, I think. :) It was so nice to be able to fit all eight of us (my parents included) easily into the van and have plenty of room for everything we needed to take along. That is the way to travel. :)

The way up passed fairly smoothly, especially since I had come prepared with various books, games, snacks, etc. for the boys. Shav got a kick out of looking out the window at the passing scenery...and occasionally batting at the frog hanging from the handle of his car seat...

Even though it was a cold, drizzly day, that didn't stop the kids from playing outside. My brother's three kids are older than my boys (and older than my sister-in-law's sister's kids who were also there), but they are so good at playing with the younger ones: asking them what they want to do, including them, being patient and kind with them, etc. No wonder my boys adore their cousins!

Jacob is a very good soccer player and plays on various teams throughout the year...

Isaac and Josiah were on the same team...

Isaac plays soccer on a team (teams?), too. They're such a "soccer family" that I can't quite keep up with which kid plays on what teams!

This was the first day of Tobin's life that he didn't have a nap. How could he sleep on this day? There were too many exciting things to do! Like walk and walk and walk and walk around the "circle" in my brother's house...and play with the dogs...

Oh, the dogs! Josiah got lots of affectionate kisses from Belle, my brother's pug, and Buddy, their new white poodle...not a toy poodle either...nothing miniature about this dog...

Buddy was bigger than Tobin and just as full of excitement...

Sometimes Buddy would gallop past Tobin, wagging his tail, and Tobin would get whacked in the head with his tail...Tobin didn't seem to mind; he just loved being with the dogs...
There was another dog, too; he belongs to the sister of my sister-in-law Lori, but I don't have a picture of him.

The guys did their fair share of lounging on the couch and watching football. It's an American tradition, after all!

Lori's dad showed us all up by being the first to work at clearing up the table; what a servant's heart. We love my sister-in-law's family and are always glad for this opportunity to visit with them...

Shav got some cuddles from Jean, Lori's mom...

...and from Lisa, Lori's sister...

This picture is what it's all about: the chance for our kids to spend time with their much-loved cousins (and cousins-in-law--is that a word?). :) And, of course, we didn't just make the trip for the kids' sake. We adults had a great time, too!
No doubt about it, family is precious.

When we set out in the van to drive home, I fully expected Tobin and Shav to quickly fall asleep. Instead, Josiah and David were the ones to drift off almost immediately; and it took the younger ones longer to finally go to sleep. After the others had gone off to dreamland, Shav was still awake and fussy so I put my little finger in his mouth for him to suck on and be soothed to sleep. But then I quickly took it out. Something hard and sharp had just bit me!! I inspected further; and sure enough, there was his first tooth: the right front bottom tooth. A day or so before this, David had told me that he thought Shav had a tooth; but I downplayed his comment, telling him that "no, Shav's too young to have a tooth." Boy, was I wrong; and the next day, I sheepishly told David that he was right: even though Shav was only four months old, he indeed had a tooth! That little discovery was a memorable way to end Thanksgiving 2009. :)

Prior to that, I had not noticed that Shav had been unusually fussy so I never once suspected that he might be teething. It wasn't too long after this that his other front bottom tooth came through the gum, so now he's got a beautiful shiny pair of teeth gleaming in his mouth. For once, one of my boys was actually EARLY in something! :)

Days 26, 27, 28, 29, & 30 - When I began the month of November by focusing on being grateful for various parts of my childhood, I was flooded with happy memories that I wanted to write about, many more than I actually had time to mention.

In November, I wanted to write about...

~ visiting Uncle Dan and Aunt Rosa Lee (actually, my great-uncle and great-aunt)...sitting quietly in their fancy living room while the adults visited, looking around at all the pretty fragile things in that room, glancing occasionally at the glass candy dish on the coffee table and eagerly waiting for Aunt Rosa Lee to encourage my brother David and I to have a piece

~ planning a family church service for the Sunday when we were at the beach on vacation...a time or two, we found a local congregation to join on that day; but most of the time, my parents let us have our own little service brother David and I would be in charge of it, and we worked hard and thoughtfully to prepare the various parts of the service...we even made a handwritten program for it, decorated by David's colored pencil drawings of beach umbrellas and seagulls and such things

~ ways that I "helped" around the house when I was very young: handing Mother clothespins when she was hanging laundry on the line, standing on a kitchen chair by the sink to rinse the dishes, etc...rinsing the dishes was certainly a favorite job, MUCH better than the task of being the one to wash the dishes or dry them

~ playing Chinese checkers with my maternal grandparents...they were farmers and didn't take a whole lot of time for leisure, but this was one game that we played with them...such fun!

~ listening to the radio while we stayed at their house...they had a radio in their kitchen, and it was always tuned into WCRH...we listened to the news, weather, and various Christian favorites were the kids' programs, of course...Grandma knew when they would come on the air, and she would make sure we got to hear them if we were around

~ Grandma made a wonderful kind of homemade sausage, and I devoured it when we went to visit...she would bring out a little dish--white with blue flowers--full of thin slices of this sausage, and I would try to restrain myself from eating the whole bowl, but oh, I wanted it all! was good by itself or on bread with butter...I don't have any idea in the world how to make it, but thinking about this reminds me that I want to ask Mother about it...if she knows, I am definitely going to have to try it!

~ spending time at my paternal grandparents' home...they had a basement that was always a little (or a lot) scary to me, but there was some fun stuff down there, too--like a ping-pong table and some games...the most fun thing though was playing card games with Granddad...after his retirement from practicing medicine, he spent quite a bit of time playing card games: lots of Solitaire, but also Rummy when he could find someone to play with...he was glad to teach us how to play, and we had a lot of fun doing that

~ teachers that I have had that positively influenced's just one silly memory connected with my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Warner...she had these cookies that she called Scream Cookies...whether that was really the name of the cookie or just her invention, I'm not sure...but every once in a while, she would take us to the back exit of the school building, we would stand outside, scream as loud as we could, and eat these that I'm a homeschooling mother, I can understand why she needed to allow us to let off steam in this way! :)

~ times when I was sick...I'm not sure these really qualify as happy memories, but tonight I am inspired to write about these times because today, my own sweet Tobin got sick, awaking from his nap with vomit all over the place...he's vomited a number of times since then, and the diarrhea has set in, too...that means lots of mess, lots of laundry, a couple of baths, and the best part: lots of cuddles...anyway, my memories of being sick include waking up one night, feeling nauseated in my bed, trying to run as fast as I could so I could make it to the bathroom in time, and NOT succeeding...I spewed vomit all over the place near the doorway of my room...I particularly remember the light switch and the decorations I had nearby being covered in vomit...ugh...another time, one of my older siblings drove us to school (in our old burgundy and silver Suburban, I think); and just as I was climbing out of the back seat when we arrived at school, I couldn't hold it in any longer, but threw up in the car much to the chagrin of my grossed-out siblings...I think my mom was hastily called and had to drive over to pick me up and deal with the mess!...I distinctly remember having had eggs (scrambled, I think) and some kind of black bread for this day, I still don't like black bread!...another time, when I was a little older, I was having some kind of cough/breathing problem/respiratory issue...I remember Mother laying down in bed beside me, not a usual thing for her at all!, and I knew it was because she was worried about me and wanted to make sure I didn't stop breathing :)

~ my parents' waterbed...once in a great while, when my dad was gone overnight to a medical conference or a men's retreat, my mother would let me sleep in the waterbed with her...I thought waterbeds were the coolest thing ever and could hardly wait until I was old enough to have my own (which I never have had--does anyone have waterbeds anymore?)

~ speaking of medical conferences, I remember my parents returning from one that they went to together...they had saved the packages of peanuts (back in the days when airlines actually gave out peanuts) from their flights so they could give them to us...I was didn't take much to make me happy :)

~ my dad braiding my hair...I had long, long hair until I was eight years old; my sister cut it off one time when my parents were a mom, I cannot imagine how my parents must have felt when they returned home to that!...but anyway, before that untimely haircut, my mother always parted my hair in the middle and braided it in two long braids...when she was away from home, my dad had to do it which I'm sure was not his favorite task...I'm also sure that my teacher at school could tell instantly when Mother was gone, just by one look at my braids :) ...oh, well, Dad knew a long time ago that he'd never have a career in Uncle Jay helped him figure that one out :)

Oh, so many memories! So much love in my childhood! How blessed I am to have been born in the time and place and situation in which God placed me! How blessed I am, in turn, to have the opportunity of pouring out my love and affection on the four precious souls God has given to me!

Gratitude is a good way to end a year, so even though Tobin's sickness cancelled our plans to have dear friends over to see in the new year and even though I'll likely have interrupted sleep tonight and even though I might not get to go to the Harmonia Sacra sing tomorrow evening if Tobin's not feeling better and even though the sickness might spread to one of the other boys (or to myself or Jeff), still I remain conscious of the depth of the blessings that surround me. God has lavished me with His love; and this past year brought new evidence of that, particularly the indescribable gift of my son Shav.

Goodbye, 2009. Thanks for the many sweet memories!

Hello, 2010!!!

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