Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dearest Little One

Dearest Little One,
You are a gift we weren't expecting. We'd been in your life nearly since you were born but we didn't know then how God had it in His plan that you would live with us. This is our last full-time week with you and, when we settle into our routines without you, we will notice an empty chasm. Yes, we'll get more schoolwork accomplished. Yes, we'll savour the quiet. Yes, we'll jump up and run to where we want to go without a thought of naps or sippy cups or a stroller. But, we will pause when we make six snacks instead of seven. We'll glance at your empty little bed when the girls go to sleep. We'll talk in hushed tones after lunch and then realize you're not napping. We'll go to homeschool group, gym, dance classes and friends' homes without your raspy voice announcing, "We're here!"
We love to do your hair and put headbands on you like Mommy's.
Ashanti, you've grown so much these past few months. We celebrated you turning two and now you're more than two and a half! As often as we correct you, you call us Mommy and Daddy, simply because our kids do. You gained a large vocabulary here and your momma is proud. You learned to sleep through the night and stay in your own tiny bed. You use manners (most of the time) and no longer have half-hour-long screaming tantrums that we can't pull you out of. You are potty-trained. You know every one of our extended family members' and friends' names and consider them your own. Your momma loves this because she feels like they're hers too. You can fake sleeping like an award-winning actress, complete with heavy breathing. You sing your favourite songs like, "Jesus Loves Me", "Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star" and "Happy Birthday". You love the soundtrack to "Frozen" and can complete the lines in most of the songs. You can almost name the days of the week and can count to thirteen. Ashanti, we always brag about you to everyone. You are intelligent and have an excellent memory and seem to know where lost items are when one of us needs to find something (I wonder why :) Your momma is smart and strong and you definitely get those qualities from her. You have a new healthy caution for strangers when you used to scare us with your ability to walk off with anyone you didn't know. You love going for a drive, baths, cream cheese, pistachios, hamburgers, chocolate... well, just about every single type of food there is. You eat most of us under the table too!
Sweet girl, no one holds a candle to your darling disposition. You charm everyone you meet and people are consistently taken with your beautiful eyes and smile. You may turn without a moment's notice to a growling bear, but that's becoming less and less ;) You tattle on the kids because you kow all the rules and you like to be boss. Your favourite friends right now are Joella, Clara, Ava, Lily and Mayan. You speak of them often and know which one you're going to see as you notice landmarks on the streets. You're growing up. We've had the privilege of being witness to this and we're so grateful. 
 You love "Offie" as you call him, and want to do whatever he's doing.
You're a little afraid of the birdies still, but we'll fix that ;)
Okay, A LOT afraid. Here, you're covering your head and saying, "No birdies! No sit down!" You think they're going to land on your head.
Some phone pics of favourite moments...
 Weekly library trip with Mayan.
 Your crazy faces :)
 Playing police in Oliver's costume.
 Best buddy, Joella (who calls you, "Abanti").
 Sewing with Mama.
 In Mama's hot tub.
 I walked by and found you like this, casually brushing your teeth.
 "Painting" my urns with water. You loved it.
 Morning selfie with Auntie Heather.
 Visiting Uncle Terry at work.
 Getting sparkles with Ana at Joella's "Frozen" birthday party.
 Sneaking out of bed and realizing you're actually tired.
 Creating a snowman.
 Auntie loves you.
 Fun with Clara.
 Trying on boots in a store. You loved these!
 Schoolwork at Auntie Hilary's house.
 Ice cream with Mama and Papa at the beach for Papa's birthday.
 On a hike.
Uncle Terry and Oliver building your first bike!
 First tricycle! Don't quite have the hang of it yet :) 
Watching a movie with Emily (whom you call, "Sissy").
Little One, it's time for you to return to your momma but she has asked us to keep you on weekends and we have agreed. We are grateful for your precious life. You've added something to this home we couldn't have predicted. We love God's surprises! May the Lord bless your life and may you grow to be a godly girl and one day, a woman who hears His voice and follows Him.

Giddy For Spring

"Mommy, come see!"
They know how to get me up out of my chair. Admittedly, I can get lost in my reading or conversation with a friend and ignore my children's attempts to get my attention when I'm needing a break. However, they've got it figured out that pointing out a new bird or fresh evidence of spring makes me giddy and so they use that ploy. Sometimes it's real and sometimes it's devised, but I'll give them points just for trying. ;)  My children also know it doesn't take much to convince me that we should all pile into the truck, loaded with bikes and scooters and head to the woods or park. Schoolwork completed first, of course :)
Since spring is the long-awaited sigh of relief after a very cold, seemingly eternal winter, every sign of it is like one more blossom in our basket of spring hopefulness. Every still-cool day and every rainy one causes us to long even more for the predictably warm and balmy weeks ahead. Nevertheless, we've taken our chances and ventured to our favourite spots to gather more hope. 
When the snow was teasing us with its melting and then returned once more.
Mama watches with joy as her swing-set is being used once again.
Tufted titmouse at my mom's. LOVE seeing new birds (to us) when it seems we've exhausted all our learning about the regular visitors there.
Sliding into the creek at "Auntie" Sandee's and their new puppy trying to rescue him.
 Favourite pastime, if you hadn't noticed :)
What we tend to ignore all summer and fall is like a gem in the spring when you're anxiously looking for signs that winter is over.
Happy to wave at the caterpillar but doesn't want to touch. We'll train her soon enough :)
God's handiwork draws me to worship at every turn.
This killdeer fakes a broken wing to lure us away from his wife who stands over their nest of eggs.
First two eggs, the next day three, and a couple days later, we counted four!
We try not to bother them (too much).
 Night Heron. A couple of trees full of fourteen of them! A wow factor indeed, for all of us.
 My first brown creeper. LOVE that Emily pointed him out. She catches things quicker than anyone.
 LOVE the kind birdwatchers who came to find us just to show us this Eastern Screech Owl. Another first!
Cute little menace :)
I cannot express my giddiness over the exploratory adventures we will encounter in the coming days.
   Happy Spring! XO 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thoughts on Easter

I lifted the spoon to her mouth and she smiled. I'd made her some chickpea salad and she approved. I was thankful because besides tucking her into bed and feeding her, I didn't know how else to humanly help her. However, I am grateful that my sister-in-law's Creator cares more for her than any of us in the family do. Her life has been lifted over and over to the Lord in supplication for healing. Now, she is spiritually suspended in prayer because, with the myriad of people who love her, I suspect prayer never ceases on her behalf.
This was the first Easter we didn't gather as a family on my husband's side of the family.
I got the text early in the morning that my mom's brother had passed away. He'd been in the hospital for over two years and was never quite well enough to make it home to recover. We reunited as a family at the funeral and I was reminded once again how important family is to God. It's the safe place He created for people to feel loved when perhaps they're not finding it in the world. That was Easter weekend.
It was the first time my family didn't celebrate with dinner at my Mom's either.  
My dear friend's eleven year-old daughter lay in the hospital with a tumour in her leg. Seven months of intense chemo and surgeries is what the doctors stated would be her lot. They weren't prepared for the excruciating pain and illness they'd witness in their little Ella, their only child. Mom, Dad and daughter living in a small hospital room for weeks was almost unbearable as the bone had snapped right then and there and she was placed in traction.
This year changed everything for this precious family. 
I watched as our friend hung on the cross heaving and acting the part of his Lord in our church musical. Knowing it was Steve didn't deter me from the powerful reminder of the torture Jesus endured for my forgiveness and how He was resurrected to give me eternal life. Easter lives in my heart daily. It's not a weekend, it's not a dinner, it's not even family. I am alive and free because of Jesus. I am forgiven and can face all my tomorrows because of His great love. Easter didn't happen for us on the traditional day it's set for, but that doesn't matter. My uncle's recent passing to his eternal home, my sister-in-law's life, and little Ella's future are all in the adoring hands of their Saviour. Easter makes hope possible. It makes joy possible in the midst of sorrow. Easter makes suffering bearable because it is short-lived. This does not minimize pain or struggle, nor does it mean God doesn't heal. But, it allows me to believe that because there's so much more to life than this tiny planet and this finite amount of time, I can rest in knowing Easter makes all the difference.


1791. getting together the following week and her hiding places for eggs :)
1792. blonde beauties
1793. scouring for eggs together
1794. how these two still snuggle their big kids
1795. family friendships
1796. her faithfulness in visiting her brother before he passed away
1797. shaking and doing whatever one can to get the eggs
1798. the way he's always interested in the kids and what they have to say
1799. never too big for an egg hunt
1800. how she's kept that basket for about 9 years!
1801. teaching little ones to collect
1802. his love for toddlers and babies
1803. catching a sharing moment?
1804. the way they had the whole place combed in a matter of minutes
1805. stealth mode 
1806. for pretty spring cakes (my mom asked for it :)
1807. how it only took about 5 attempts to get a photo with everyone looking and smiling

1808. for hope and joy in the midst of trying times