Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Westward, HO!

"Where did you go," you might be wondering. A lot of nowhere, a lot of busy beeing around the house. But not all nowhere. A few very big somewheres starting with California.

We have lovely friends in California, stationed there through the Air Force. When they began making plans to see each other, they invited us along. With the Ellis clan, we boasted 9 children {the oldest was 5 yo} and 6 excited, tired parents for a week of hiking, playing, biking, and touristing:
Wandering down the Monterrey Wharf in borrowed clothes

Beautiful girls searching for sea lions and otters

Sunset on the bay

What?! An Ellis family photo - only because we were reminded to take one

The redwoods at Big Sur

The best part - these wonderful ladies

Bubba on the beach
I might have taught this warrior girl to shoot at seagulls. She shot one!

Expectant faces watch for the wave to fall at the Monterrey Aquarium

Ecstasy with every wave

Our trip to California was one of the most rejuvenating experiences of my life, right up there with our honeymoon. We got away from daily pressures without any true agenda other than to spend time with people we love.

The trip out was a comedy of airline errors to be certain: cancelled flights, long delays with restless children in overcrowded airports with no gluten free food, lost bags, stomach virus (appropriately discharged on the airline kiosk). 24 hours round trip. If so many people didn’t experience the same thing every time they flew, I might think we were special. I haven’t sworn off flying, but I’m not jumping to get on another plane either.

But once we were there, seeing Emily and Keith and Mollie and Jeff and all their sweet little ones that I love like nieces and nephews... What a blessing! Even now, I can close my eyes and find myself standing in that open white kitchen with the windows and door flung wide to allow the cool breeze to flow through the house, taking my tension and frustrations with it. The yard with its rusty sand and spiny plants, all harboring their precious water against the long dry season. The living room couch covered with bare legs and open picture books and plastic dinosaurs.

The trip to Big Sur, driving along the sharp coast with breakers spraying above the rocks, the wind whipping hair and clothes. Red woods towering impossibly tall overhead, imposing and sheltering. Kids circling around us like a pack, excited, whining, bounding, all looking for lunch and bugs and the one perfect stick or rock or pinecone. All crouched down at the water’s edge, staring into the stream life below them. All filing over the fallen log bridge, holding momma’s hand and shuffling tiny tennis shoes to jump proudly at the end and stand tall while momma heads back across to help the next one in line. 

The hike with my besties. Getting to be free, strong mommas, skipping up the trail without the added weight of a child or two wrapped on and dragging against our hands. That conversation started the long, tearful talk over delicious food two nights later. The talk where we bore our souls and our fears and our frustrations with two of the only people alive that could hear all those deep ugly things we hate admitting to ourselves. They are those friends. Who know how angry I get, how messy my house is, how much I love and struggle with my husband, my God, my position, my life. And they are those friends who don’t let me wallow in the struggle, but pray for me, encourage me, and point me back to the will of God. Any plane ticket, any long day of flying, any hauling sick children across country was worth that conversation.

Afton thanks God for our trip to California and the plane ride and all of our friends every day still. What a blessing!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


In apology for my prolonged silence, I want to offer a simple present, a gift created by my 4 year old to convey the deepest of devotion. The most recent trend in our family texting. The word gift.

It goes something like this:

You are more beautiful than a herd of angry trolls.

You are the princess of God's holy robbers.

You are brighter than the eyes of ten thousands of giants.

You are stronger than enough baboons to fill a Costco.

Gwennan is serious as can be when delivering her love messages. She inhales in delight when she receives a word gift. She particularly loves word gift texts to and from her aunties who only surpass her mind-blowing comparisons.

My daughter is recognizing the power in her words. They are a tool to build people up as much as a box in bright paper can. And her choice in word gifts is as wonderful and random as the selections she makes at the dollar store {Daddy received TNMT mini frisbees and a whoopee cushion for his birthday; I can only imagine what's coming to me this weekend}.

I'd like to give you, my dear friends, a word gift of my own:

You are more lovely than the gilded edge of a garage sale picture frame.

I hope you spread the word gift love and have an awesome day!


P.S. #wordgift comments are always welcome here!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mustache cake

This glorious day that The Lord gave. It started rough but took a turn for the much better.

The unpacking you might expect...
The momma-ing you might expect...
Does anyone else get a tad protective of their Lego building projects? I was none to happy when an errant stroller went crashing through the carefully crafted bedroom. 

Trying to make headway with the mountain of laundry
when the forecast looks like this...
I'm not psychotically protective of the ozone layer. We don't have a dryer. We own one. We don't have an outlet (and maybe not even the breaker box) to power such a machine.

And finally the piece de resistance, Tim's birthday cake, 
I'm a week late. What can I say? I only found the cake plate last night.

This was the first year I proposed a grown up birthday cake for Tim. By grown up cake, I don't mean over 21; I mean the kind of cake that children declare yummy but not a birthday cake. No sprinkles, no frosting,  not 9" round. Only a grown up would request such a cake.

At least that's how my girls reacted.

G: We need to put Frozen characters on it!

M: For daddy?? (The poor man has endured that movie enough without it bedecking his cake)

G: Well, we don't have to put Hans on there.

M: This is for Daddy. Can we think of something more boy?

G: Then turtles! (TMNT, that is)

I'm not sure who shouted "mustache," (it sounds like Afton). It seemed like a more doable suggestion; thus the cake was baked and decorated. And my delightful day will come to a delicious end.

In case you are interested, the cake is based on a wonderful grown up lemon pound cake from Smitten Kitchen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Progress report

All of you waiting on house news have been very patient. Thank you! (Or you follow me on Instagram and already know).

As you might imagine, we are living in madness. Amazing church framily members stepped up to get us scraped, plastered, painted, and moved in less than two weeks. I'm still puzzling out this timeline, and how everything happened so quickly. It's a blur!

The main living spaces are set up (please don't even walk upstairs to the spare bedrooms. Yikes!). For the paragraph's form, I feel like I should now list all the other accomplishments, but that's it. The main living spaces are set up. Everything else is in a state of partial doneness or complete denial.

Truly, I'm nervous to post pics, because everything is still a disaster. We don't have doors on cabinets or toy storage set up or even all the clean clothes put away. I tried to take pictures, and was a bit horrified. But it will come together. Eventually. At least one room at a time. Because about the time I finish setting up shop, I'll start into something else and mess it all up again. Such is life with a projectee.

Fortunately, the girls are finding plenty of ways to entertain themselves...


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