Category Archives: family

Meet Clover

Are you prepared for some puppy cuteness?  Yes, we got a puppy.  Most of my blog readers are “real life” friends and family, so you already know about our newest addition, but my blog wouldn’t be complete without a proper introduction to Clover.

Clover joined our family about a month after the loss of Hannah.  We thought we would wait a bit before finding a new pet, but we missed Hannah’s presence in our home too much to be without a dog for much longer.  We had decided long before Hannah died that our next dog would be a rescue pup.  We browsed Petfinder.com, and this little black lab mix jumped out at us.  She was named “Jill,” but after several in depth rounds of family voting, we decided on “Clover.”  (I was later dismayed to find out that there is a popular cartoon character with a pet named Clover.  We had no idea.)  She was only about nine weeks old when we adopted her, one of nine puppies in an abandoned litter.  Can you imagine!

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These photographs are of Clover with her pal, Bailey.  Bailey isn’t our dog, but  she has been quite the little (big!) mother to Clover.  They have a cute, funny relationship.

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And here is our girl at 4 months old.  She’s growing fast, and we soon won’t have a little puppy anymore!

Somehow Summer

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Somehow, it’s summer already.  Somehow, spring slipped by, baseball season came to it’s dramatic end (champions!), and our family vacation came & went.  Now, somehow, we are in the midst of July.  Happy summer weeks are behind us, and about six more stand ahead–bursting with the promise of lightning bugs, cook-outs, popsicles, and trips to the pool.  Somehow, time continues to speed faster with each year, daring to beat it’s own impossible pace.  All we can do is snatch moments into our memories for safe keeping, hoarding them like precious stones.

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Babymoon

My first three kiddos are summer babies.  They spent the first three months of their lives in little Onesies.  They rarely wore socks, and we took them outside for walks every single day of their brand new lives.  Our current bundle was born on a very warm December evening, but since then, the weather has been mighty chilly.  Such a different experience!  And the whole fact of a newborn in cold-and-flu-season brings out the almost-germaphobe in me.  Let’s simply say that several factors have brought us to being inside a lot, and we are all feeling antsy.

I, for one, am craving the normal run-around of our usual life, but at the same time, these three weeks have been a treasure.  I know why people call the newborn period a “Babymoon.”  It is a period in time that you can never recapture.  It’s a process of falling in love, getting to know a new family member.  It’s a time to close out the rest of the world, trim down responsibilities, and just BE.

As sweet as this time has been, like any honeymoon, the hibernation has to come to an end.  Cory went back to work this week, and we returned to our (modified) homeschool schedule.  The meals from kind friends have come to an end, and I need to get back to meal planning and prep.  This is good progress, and don’t worry; we still have tons of cuddle time.

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A Tradition Renewed

When I was growing up, we cut down fresh Christmas trees.  We weren’t exactly on a tree farm though.  More like an old strip mine/wooded area.  It was fun and felt a bit sneaky.  Such rebels we were!  Truly, though, it was a great way to get a tree.  The trees weren’t sprayed with pesticides, and they were left to grow when, how, and where they pleased.  We were never bothered by a single other tree shopper!

From Christmas 2004 until my family moved to Florida in 2011, we went to a Christmas tree farm with Cory’s family to pick out the perfect evergreen.  That first Christmas was also the evening when we saw our very first positive pregnancy test.  As we decorated our tree, we danced around the living room, listened to Bing Crosby, and cracked open a can of fruit cocktail.  Our hearts were full with anticipating next Christmas with a new baby in our arms.

In late November 2011, Cory’s mom and dad drove a moving van down to Florida with our belongings.  To our absolute shock and delight, a beautiful Christmas tree had made the trip–tied onto the back of the truck.  What a surprise!

Last year, we picked up a Home Depot tree in a Florida parking lot.  Not quite as fun.

But this year, the tradition continues.  We bundled up, mounted the big wagon with hay bales for seats, and set out to choose our tree.  A fresh snow and a bit of sunshine made the day perfect.

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More Waiting: The Good Kind

I’ve been on the “down low” for a bit.  So many things were happening, but so many question marks were rising.

We did find a house that we love.  It’s not perfect, but it is beautiful and totally loveable.  We have a contract on a 1920s cottage in  a small town.  It has hardwood floors that are in excellent condition and many adorable features that captured my eye and my heart on the first visit.

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We are praising God that our Florida house is officially sold, and we are now waiting for our lender to give us a closing date.

Two, Five, Eight

Summer in our family means birthdays!  We start with me in mid-June, Charlotte at the end of the month, and J in July, and we end the stretch with F in late August.  Whew!

Charlotte turned two this year!  Amazing, funny, wonderful two.  Forget the so-called “terrible twos.”  I absolutely adore this incredible period of language development and emergence of her sweet, hilarious personality.  We began Charlotte’s day with Grandma Renee’s pancakes, and we wrapped it all up with blueberry banana cake from Soulemama.  (Click it!  It’s a great recipe!)  Aunt Kristy and Uncle Jake were able to celebrate with us.

J turned five this year!  Five feels like a very important milestone.  He becomes more articulate and ever-practical with each passing day.  We spent his actual birth enjoying a nearby park and getting totally soaked in the stream.  Then late in July, we had a combined party (Knights and Ladies theme) for our new two year old and five year old.  It was a lot of fun!

And finally, our big boy turned eight.  Eight?  Too big, simply too big.  We celebrated with a “planet party” of his own invention.  On his real birthday, we made a much anticipated trip to Red Lobster for his favorite food: shrimp!  My eight year old is growing in so many ways.  He seems taller and smarter and more inquisitive every day.  I can’t wait to see what this third grade year has in store for him.

Here are some images of our summer of birthdays.

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Home Again

I’m pretty sure I used this title in a previous post, but I never meant it quite the way I’m using it now.

We have moved back to our home state.  After less than two years in the south, my husband has accepted a job at a small university only 30 minutes from the college where we met and fell in love.  I feel like we’ve come full circle as we begin the search for a home so close to the place where our lives together began.  To some blog readers, this might seem sudden, and…well…it kind of is.

Cory first heard about this particular opening last summer.  The university officially opened the job search in early fall.  Cory applied, even though we both felt happy and comfortable in our community.  The prospect of a tenure-track professorship closer to home sounded promising.  It couldn’t hurt to apply, right?

And then silence.  We heard nothing.  The potential job was no longer on my mind.  Cory continued working hard in his position.  He connected with interesting and challenging students.  He enjoyed his relationships with the faculty and staff, and I deepened my friendships in our church and homeschool communities.  We were not thinking about jobs or moving. We were largely satisfied and thankful for the life we were building.

I try to avoid clichés, but “out of the blue” is exactly where the news came from. In mid April, a voicemail message told me that the committee wanted to talk to Cory about “the faculty position.” A few days passed before Cory was able to talk to a real person and find out what that really meant.  We were nervous! Perhaps for different reasons. Yes, I wanted to be near family badly, but did I want to start over again? We would be near family, but we wouldn’t be neighbors! We would still need to take that emotional leap of making new friends, finding a new church, and hunting for a new homeschool group. Could I do that again? That’s tough stuff for an introvert. And I was sad to leave our pretty house. Cory saw all the practical benefits: the better insurance coverage, the potential pay, the college opportunities for our children. After much prayer, thought, and pros & cons analysis (a funny sort of back and forth dance), we knew even before the job offer that we would accept the job if it was offered. And it was. In mid-May, we had the news that we were saying good-bye, moving north, and starting a new segment in our family’s story.

We returned to our home state about two weeks later with as many of our belongings as we could possibly tow.  We enjoyed our vacation and a few other planned activities.  During the first week of July, we headed back to Florida again to do the final pack-up and clean-up.  Whoa…that was hard work.  We returned home again with more of our belongings (I wish I could say all.) and a spirit of readiness–ready to find our new normal, ready to settle down and breathe, ready to start over.

I will never regret those two years in Florida.  It hurts to say good-bye to some very special friends.  In Florida, I finally answered the call to homeschool.  In Florida, I  reaffirmed my convictions in parenting and had the room to work out some kinks.  In Florida, I figured out a little bit more of how to live out my faith in my household and in my community.  I learned that I can reach out to make friends.  I learned how to accept help, to say yes to the kindness of others, to receive with grace instead of rely on an “I can do it” attitude.  These were all great lessons to learn, and I worry that I won’t stay on these positive paths when I am back in my old environment.  Will I fall into old habits when I’m too comfortable?

For now, I only have to watch my children giggle and explore and sing in the presence of their grandparents to know that we’ve made the right choice.  All of their faces tell me so.

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