"In Friendship…we think we have chosen our peer. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances.      

A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” The Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of others."
--C.S. Lewis
Just a few words about friends.  Old and new.  Near and far.  Heart friends.  Soul sisters.  About those we pass and wonder, should I reach out?  Yes.  Yes, you should.  Let it be so.  Those that you wouldn't choose for yourself, He chose for you.  The surprise friends and the ones that are the opposite of your inclination in every sense.  There are the ones that challenge and spur you on.  That comfort and listen.  Stand up for you and hold you up when you can't.  Need I go on?  Probably not.  When I read this quote from C. S. Lewis I couldn't help but stop and contemplate it a bit more.  How could I ever express my gratitude for those that he chose for me?  I couldn't.  I can love them and love them well.  I can thank them and Him for the beautiful collision of souls colliding.  All in His name.  Thank you sweet Jesus for the gift of friends.  For all that they represent in your kingdom.  

Thankful Thursday #132

3063. one more Monday
3064. house guest this weekend
3065. trees blowing in the wind
3066. sunshine
3067. a bowl of cereal in the afternoon 
3068. larkspurs on the table
3069. upside down prayers
3070. sisters sharing
3071. flags flying high
3072. our military, strong and brave

Stepping Out

I have words dancing about my mind.  Begging to be written here on these blank pages.  Only they do not have form yet.  So I'll share about our weekend. 
This weekend was another two days.  All the usual.  Errands.  Soccer training.  Sleep overs.  Friends, game playing.  Laughing.  Revealing our competitive nature.  True colors being shown. Cooking, baking, watching the rain, watching movies and me falling asleep on the couch.  Early.  People, what is happening to me?  Not going to bed early but just flat out done by 9pm, happy pants on and sleeping soundly on the couch.  Who am I? 
We worshipped loud yesterday.  Hands raised.  And while singing the words I saw them rising.  Permeating the heavens.  Then I felt Jesus smile.  Has that ever happened to you?  It was pure.  Our pastor stepped up to the podium and in the midst of a week defined by poor government decisions he delivered a spirit filled sermon.  Challenging.  Thought provoking. 
We had small group.  Our last gathering before summer.  Maybe one of my favorite discussions yet.  It was lively.  There was no outline.  No form.  Sharing of opinions.  Fleshing out some hard stuff.  Always coming back to the Word.  The one and only Absolute.  I have to lean on that.  Trust that.  Worldly kingdoms will rise and fall, eternity will outlast them all. 
It is the only Kingdom that will endure forever. 
And now Monday.  Why are you so difficult?  Only one more Monday left before summer.  Cue the chorus.  We will be doing our happy dance around here.  That means there will also be a junior, sophomore, 8th grader and a 6th grader living under this roof.  Heaven help us! The excitement is too much to bear.  No really.  One of those four might just have her license.  Another one is traveling for a church trip.  One more is going to JAM camp for a week and the boy is trying out for ODP, Olympic development program, and maybe will make the regional camp squad.  Much to look forward to.

Now Thursday and finally sunshine in these parts. Spring has been a slow time coming and even today it is only in the 50's.  I will not complain though.  Gratitude for the sun, for it's warmth, for the green starting to cover everywhere.  Creeping in.  One patch at a time. 

I have been vacant from this blogosphere.  Missing the tapping of the keys and the time it allows me to share with all of you.  I'll try and be more present here.  No guarantee though.  The words come and then they go.  Sometimes in the middle of a run and then by the time I walk through the door they are gone. 

For now, check out Thankful Thursday.  Are you choosing joy today?  I am.  Here's to you and yours.


The rain is pounding the windows.  Thunder was my alarm clock this morning.  Lightening flashes tried to peek in through the blinds.  I love it.  Love staying underneath the covers and just listening.  It was quite a show.  Then, because I'm not one to dawdle around in the early morning hours flung the blanket to the side.  I crawled down the stairs, started the coffee and lit my candles.  This is a great morning.  Me.  Still house.  Flickering flames.  Possibility. 

What does your Saturday hold?  Maybe some reading.  That's what's next for me.  C.S. Lewis, my cup of coffee and a fuzzy throw, all snuggled up.  I've been itching to do a post on my word of the year.  I haven't forgotten.  It hasn't left me.  More like been my shadow.  Nudging.  Reminding.  Not looming in a negative way.  Just ever present.  And so necessary.  That's what I'll be up to.  I hear a movie might be in the mix today.  Husband Jared's idea.  Hopefully some of Thing 1's famous popcorn too. 

I do hope that your weekend is filled with all your favorites.  Some unexpected delights and glimpses of heaven.

Thankful Thursday #131

Our favorite Nashville restaurant, well, one of our favorites!
3053. sunshiny days
3054. picnics with sushi
3055. dogs barking because the windows are open
3056. new blinds on our windows
3057. outside runs with Things
3058. playing tag until my side aches
3059. homemade cards
3060. magnum ice cream bars, mmm good!
3061. surprise note from landlord
3062.  letter in the mail from Oswaldo

My Day

Really it's the day I am ever so grateful that these four Things made me a Mama.  I'm laughing as I type that word, "mama" because every time I write it that way the Things tell me I'm spelling it incorrectly.  Then I laugh because I'm the Mama and I can spell my word however I want.  Can I get an amen for that?  For myself, amen sister, amen. 
My one request for the day, I did not want to clean the kitchen, not even once and I didn't want to be responsible for planning our day. That's it.  We could have eaten cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  No matter so long as I didn't have to rinse any bowls or pour anyone milk.  Let me just say that the day was 1000 times better than a bowl of cereal, even better than a bowl of crunchy Oh's, which happens to be my favorite cereal! 
Muffins and freshly cut strawberries for breakfast, coffee in my favorite cup waiting for me and all my Things gathered around the table with homemade cards.  Those are the best, aren't they?  I hope they never stop that tradition.  Their words, well let's just say I shed a few tears over my crumbs.  Then I read Thing 4's card and couldn't stop laughing.  He isn't much for the concept of planning ahead.  So when he woke and hid under his blankets on the couch and then ignored Husband Jared's prompting to get up and get moving it was no surprise.  I knew what he was up to.  Needless to say his card was humorous.  I'll let the pictures do the talking for me.

So, you'll have to turn your computer or your neck to read this, not sure what happened here, but you get the gist!  This is Thing 4!
We worshipped together and then ran home, changed to warmer clothes and were on our way to our family picnic at the lake beach.  Beach must be clarified when you live here in the North.  Not warm sand and salty sea air.  Beautiful and inviting. Just different.  As so many things are.  Husband Jared decided to pick up lunch at Whole Foods so that each and everyone of us could have exactly what we wanted.  Well we all did and then some.  It was great.  There were kite fliers and dog walkers and the best people watching.  We walked and took pictures and played tag.  My kind of afternoon. 
For the record, I was scolded for taking this picture, I should have been the one sitting down they said.  What can I say?  These are my peeps and I love 'em.
 Late in the afternoon we drove home and talked some more.  Things did homework, Thing 3 helped in the kitchen, I snuck away for a pedicure and when I came home dinner was in the oven and a few hours later we gathered once again around the dinner table.  This time listening to jokes being told and stories and silliness and more love than this Mama could handle.  My favorite.  My day.
That's me, the Mama, in the middle

I'mmm Baaack!

Almost a week later and I haven't posted.  Nope.  Not one single word.  Forgot my "Thankful Thursday" posting altogether.  What kind of blogger am I?  Slacker.  One word in a nutshell.  The weather has turned here, I hope.  I almost say that quietly to myself so as not to ruin the 90 degree day we have promised before us.  There is no turning back.  At least my vitamin D deprived skin and soul have our fingers crossed on that one. 

So this is what I have today.  A few words about the weather and maybe a few forgotten photos from our Franklin trip.  Some from my favorite time of the day, family dinner.  Mema hosted us and the Horels for a family dinner one night and to say the Things and their cousins were in their element would be a drastic understatement.  Mani's and pedi's by Aunt Natalie. 
Running around with no rules.  Fishing.  Paddle boating.  Ruling the dinner conversation.  Good times people.  Good times.  Sometimes I glance around the table and go quiet.  Just sit back and soak it all in.  My Things.  Their grandparents.  An Uncle and an Aunt and two itty bitty girl cousins.  There they were.  All smiles.  Food everywhere.  And me.  Hearing their laughs.  Their dinner time prayers.  It was good. 

After dinner there was more romping around.  Some dart playing.  Then something unexpected happened.  We were practicing the sling shot over the pond and when we looked up there were paper lanterns floating above.  Thing 2 immediately referenced "Tangled", her favorite movie and everyone ran outside to have a look. 

 Sling shot, aiming for somewhere over the pond

When we noticed they were quickly falling into the yard Thing 4 and Autumn ran to the front to try and catch one.  And they did.  Then the two pyros of the family, Uncle Jeff and Husband Jared decided it would be a great experiment/learning opportunity, AKA, we need to light something on fire, for the kiddos.  So they did.  The squeals of delight were too much.  We watched and pointed as the two captured lanterns once again floated off into the night sky.  Magical. 

The thrill of catching a lantern

Teaching the next generation

Up it goes

Further still!
As the night came to an end this was a spectacular sight to see.  All of us outside, necks craned watching these paper lanterns fly away.  Discussing the science behind it all and being amazed at the simplistic beauty of it.  My kind of night.

Watching as the lantern floated away 

Thing 3's Birthday Day

Thing 3 was ready for her birthday day knowing that her every wish was our command.  Or something like that, right?  At least we let her think so.  Her breakfast choice was first on the list and her choice did not disappoint,  chocolaty chocolate chip pancakes, bacon and fruit, just to round out the meal.  These pancakes were nothing short of delectable.  Perhaps some of the best I've ever made.  My connoisseurs agreed. Of course there is no photo documentation of the meal because we all inhaled it.  We sat and watched some footie together, not sure that was Thing 3's choice but she obliged and her Daddy was one happy guy.  The rain was falling and any sort of outdoor activity was out of the question so the mall was Thing 3's next choice.  All six of us piled in and made the trek to MOA for a new pair of TOMS and some make up shopping for the now 13 year old.  The boys went their own way and us girls went to work. As Thing 3 sat in the chair having her colors matched and all that nonsense this Mama stood back and shed a few tears.  Really.  My three girls are all teenagers now.  My oh my. 

In the make up chair!
The three teenage Things
After make up application, subtle beauty.  Even though no make up is needed
 she sure enjoyed having some one dote on her a bit.
From MOA we headed home and the sun began to shine.  Things 3 and 4 hit the park for some basketball and dog walking with Husband Jared, Things 1 and 2 did homework and napped and I prepared the special birthday dinner.  On the menu this year, well I could just tell you to go back to last year's post but I won't, even though it's exactly the same.  Barbecue chicken, artichokes and homemade macaroni and cheese with bacon, Arnold Palmers to drink.  Yes ma'am.  I do believe that Thing 3 is responsible for all the dinner photographs. 
The birthday girl's plate

BBQ chicken, birthday girl even helped grill, it was delish!
Once the dishes were cleared we quickly made way for present opening and cake.  Red velvet with vanilla cream cheese frosting and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  Same as it ever was.  The girl is a tad predictable and I'm completely OK with that.  We sang our hearts out, like we always do, watched her blow the candles out, with the lights turned off of course, and then we cut into the red velvet deliciousness that was waiting for us. 
Decorated cake
Make a wish

To end the day Thing 3 requested a family movie viewing of "The Hobbit".  I could hardly wait.  It was one of my favorite novels growing up and I even attempted to share that contagion with the Things by reading it aloud to them when they were younger.  According to Husband Jared it was too wordy and they were bored with my voices.  Well thank you very much.  The  movie was alright but the best part was snuggling with these three.
My three favorite teenagers! 
A birthday to remember for sure.  Until next year...

Zoo Day; Things and Cousins/Nieces

It began with a little Chick Fil A, or lovingly referred to as Chicken Lay by Autumn.  I get it girl.  I really do.  Actually when morning dawned the Things and I rose and trekked into town to witness the girls' swim lessons.  Gemma screamed, she was dunked, she screamed some more and then she pulled herself up on the side and was done.  Autumn, being the fish that she is, jumped in, lowered her head under water and kicked those legs all the way to her swim teacher.  She might have been showing off for her cousins.  They were impressed.  So was I.  After swim we went to breakfast and thus dawned the day of the cousins.  We gave the Grandmas a break from their child care duties this day and vowed to have the girls tired out and filled to the brim with fun. 
Fried chicken for breakfast, yes please
Then it was off to the Nashville zoo, along with about twenty hundred school buses.  No matter.  The sun was shining, we had water bottles, a stroller and four capable Things willing to chase the littles to kingdom come all for the sake of fun.  And that they did.  There was bird feeding in the lorikeet exhibit, walks in the African savanna and tigers and birds, oh my!

Not to mention a visit to Meerkat manor, or something like that.
The cuteness was too much for me to handle and I had to snap a photo of my big Things and the littles.  With the flamingos in the background of course.  We all stopped and stared at them.  Trying to figure out how they were drinking water and explaining why some were pinker than others. Gemma was so enthralled with them she didn't even have time to cheese it up for the camera. 
Hot and sweaty from all the walking and running and almost falling this girl needed a water break.  Time out please.
Once hydrated we headed to the jungle gym and what might have been the highlight for Autumn.  She ran the ropes course with her cousins and even cajoled Auntie Leanna to give it a go.  She gallivanted around with her cousins trying out all the slides, running across bridges and smiling the entire time.
Good times!
Husband Jared and I so enjoyed our morning spent at the zoo.  It brought back so many memories of times gone by with our four.  And it was nothing short of pure joy to experience it through the eyes of our nieces this time around.  Especially with all the piggy back rides, shoulder rides and "up pleases", that we heard while exploring.  These girls are fun.  Watching our Things interact with them is even more fun. 
With lunch time looming and naps right around the corner we quickly headed home for both.  Only Gemma couldn't wait.  I had the Things singing to her and chatting it up so she would not fall asleep in the car.  Unfortunately for us the girl did not even have a nap on the mind, oh no, something far worse.  A blow out.  I am only telling you this story for pure entertainment value.  Husband Jared and I had hatched a plan on the way home, he was to take Gemma up, change her diaper and I would prepare lunch for the girls so we could conquer nap/quiet time together.  Ha!  Once home, we went with the plan.  Gemma's situation was worse than expected and all I could hear over the monitor in the kitchen was Husband Jared and his noises which signified the disaster he was experiencing upstairs.  For the record, it was his choice to take care of the diaper.  Moving on, after bath and two changes of clothes all was well again and we were back on track.  Mo-mo time (movie) and nap time for Gemma.  And for all the cousins as well.   The Things sprawled out all over the living room, Husband Jared and myself too, and we had some down time as well. 
What a day!  And it wasn't over yet.  There was still play time outside, walks to the skate park, tag in the front yard and dinner at Cool CafĂ©, home of the infamous fried pork chop.  We ended the night with home made chocolate chip cookies made by none other than Thing 3 and we talked in the driveway trying to prolong our goodbyes for as long as possible, all while the Things, the cousins and the neighborhood buddies ran circles around us.  My favorite way to end a day.   

A Birthday in Franklin

So there we were, in Franklin, close to Thing 3's birthday, Autumn's birthday and actually running the race on Aunt Natalie's birthday.  What else could we do beside celebrate these three?  That is exactly what we did.  Granted, we had a grown up birthday dinner for Natalie the night before but this day involved all the kiddos, Things and the little cousins, maybe even a few neighborhood kiddos thrown in too.  Just for good measure. 
Autumn was generous enough to allow Thing 3 to choose the cake.  Uncle Jeff was baking and to say Thing 3 contemplated her choice carefully would be an understatement.  Mint chocolate cake.  There you go.  The Internet was scoured and he came up with just the right recipe, Andes mints were a key ingredient.  Right up my alley for sure.  I couldn't wait to taste test.  Before that though, there was a special present for Autumn from Gpa and Mema, family hang out time, a carpet picnic complete with dinner from the Shroom and then a fashion show starring the birthday girls!

 The scooter was the present from Gpa and Mema and Autumn couldn't wait to get outside and give it a go.  With Daddy's help she was a fast learner and was scooting around all by herself.  Of course there were a few minor bumps along the way.  All part of learning.  And nothing a hug from Mama and some encouragement couldn't cure.

So proud of herself, just like the big kids!

Dinner time, carpet picnic for the kiddos and the two biggest kiddos!

"Adult table", Gemma too!
The birthday cake, candles in the shape of 13 and 3!

Happy birthday girls
Present time for Gillian
This little girl wanted her big cousin to hold her
Princess Esmeralda, her cousin's hand me downs for dress up,
so sweet to see her enjoying this!

Birthday girl finale of the fashion show, both sporting new outfits!
And when the day was done this is how Thing 3 felt, completely overwhelmed after a day filled to the brim with all her favorites!  I'd say that is a sign of a successful birthday celebration!

Thing 3 Turns 13

It is here, the day that Thing 3 officially becomes a teenager.  I knew it was coming.  One day.  Then it seemed so far away.  Somewhere off in the distance.  And now it has arrived.  I remember waking this morning for my usual appointment, one week over due and dealing with the Arizona heat.  To say I was ready to meet this jelly bean would have been a drastic understatement.  I WAS READY.  Waddling around, chasing her two older sisters and rubbing my belly every time she kicked to remind us she was in there, I was ready.  I went to my appointment, still not a lot of progress, only I was swollen beyond recognition and my blood pressure was sky rocketing.  Straight to the hospital for me.  Thankfully Poppi and Nani were home with the other two, waiting in anticipation. Husband Jared met me there and we walked the halls, did laps and willed this little one to join the party on the outside.  Not at all surprising now that we know her,  she was quite cozy where she was and not so anxious to be on this side of it all.  After a strenuous few hours she made a grand entrance and boy was I ever happy!

Yes, big brown eyes, reddish peach fuzz(for the first three years of life),
and that smile, still the same
She is the youngest of the three.  A force to be reckoned with.  Confident in her place as daughter of The King.  Yet, just sheepish enough to not let you know it.  That is unless you are in her inner circle.  Well then let's just say that you have become the audience and the world is her stage.  This girl can make us laugh like no body's business.  Usually when the mood is tense or there needs to be some lightening up.  Randomly and without warning she will erupt into song.  Her servant's heart astounds me and the tenderness with which she gives is the sweetest.  We have watched her step out of her comfort zone this year and enter the world of acting.  The girl has stage presence and a memory that is out of this world.  What talent.  It has been nothing short of pure joy to watch her blossom and discover the world beyond.  When she sets her mind to something she does it, meticulously, with an attention to detail that I admire.  And although we often have to pull the book away from her we don't believe that is necessarily a bad thing.  The care in which she looks after her siblings and her friends is precious.  Always concerned about everyone else and their needs before her own.  Generous.  With her love and her possessions.  Truly a gift to our family and all those she has met along the way.

March of this year, at the beach
 2003, Poppi's pool, love this face

Birthday party, 2006

Maybe one of my favorites ever, 2009, Franklin, TN

Stage buddy and Thing 3 just after their dialogue performance

Now this, this is Thing 3, that smile, the dimple and full of life
Thing 3 you are pure joy and I pray the year ahead is filled with unexpected twists and turns as you follow the path set before you.  May you shine bigger and brighter for His glory. 
Mama  loves you so very much.

Red Neck Olympics

Disclaimer: Mama was not present for these games.  There I said it.  We were all sitting at the breakfast table at Loveless when the Things had the grand idea of staging a red neck Olympic challenge at Grandpa and Mema's house.  Perfect.  Their afternoon was planned and I headed into Franklin for lunch with two of my bestest.  I couldn't wait.  Until I saw the photos Husband Jared was sending me and I think I may have missed out on the activities.  This was the first that came through.
I've never been prouder!
Games on the docket: fishing, paddle boat races, archery, and BB guns.  They even purchased actual targets.  This was fo' real.  I have the scoring sheet to prove it. 

A little blurry, but the numbers don't lie!
Because I wasn't present for these shenanigans I will have to show you in pictures how the day unfolded.  Looks like there was some fun.  Maybe a hint of disappointment.  Due in part to our family's competitive nature, none of these six like to lose. 
The paddle boat used in the races and the pond on which the fishing took place

Let the games begin...

The archery winner!

BB gun winner!

Couldn't help but add this photo, look at that form!

Not sure what this is evidence of except that this girl has some
enthusiasm and I love that about her!
Just love this photo
Although this catch didn't count in the most fishes caught
it is still post worthy due to it's size, way to go Thing 4!

Thing 4, what's the matter?  I was told he might have been a tad upset that he knocked the bottle off the branch in the paddle race.  The goal was to shake the bottle hanging when you made it to the marker, if it fell then you would receive a time penalty.  There's no messing around here, we take our games seriously.

First catch of the season must always be kissed, family rule!
There were also a few spectators that joined in the fun for the finale.  Look at these sweet faces watching their older cousins.  Someday, you two will be able to participate in the games!

That my friends is the documentation of the first ever red neck Olympic games, Hanson style, as coordinated by the four Things.  Do they know how to have a good time or what?!