Thursday, May 26, 2016

Her Creativity Makes Up for Her Youth

Anna has an ingenious 2-1/2 year old. With greater accessibility to Mom's make-up while staying in our home, she decided to use Mommy's mascara wand to stir her Mommy's foundation. And, all of this while she was supposedly napping.

But Evelyn quickly learned that the act of experimentation then requires clean-up.

In this case, the clean-up meant a whole lot of scrubbing...

...and scrubbing.

You might notice in this photo that Anna is sporting a baby bump. She's due in mid July with their fourth child. Hmmm...I wonder what antics number 4 will think up...

Evelyn was very patient with the scrub down...

...which went on...

...and on...

...and on.

Until Mom reached the best part, Evelyn's exceedingly ticklish neck! This step resulted in uncontrollable laughter for the miscreant.

One would think that this long scrub would bring an end to Evelyn's interest in experimenting with her mommy's make-up. But, no. Anna put her toddler back down for a nap and returned to discover that Evelyn had colored herself with Anna's lip gloss. I do believe that all of Anna's make-up is being stored on the top bunk in the family's temporary quarters. Just writing this gives me the sudden urge to go check on the location of all the permanent markers in the house. Ta ta for now, dear readers!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Lunch

After church today, a large crowd gathered round our dining room table. Dad spearheaded the meal preps...

...with John doing his best to keep up with the dirty dishes created by getting the food ready.

As busy as Nick and Kirsten currently are working AND preparing for their nuptials, we were so happy to have the engaged couple with us for the meal. After all, their wedding is merely week from today.

In the midst of wedding preps and Tina's high school graduation excitement, we've had to make a conscious effort not to lose sight of Kolya's 17th birthday today. Later we'll eat luscious Texas Sheet Cake to celebrate.

As we gathered around the table, lively conversation began immediately.

The young man courting Sarah, Alec, feels like a natural in this crowd.

Sarah's lab puppy, Ramsey, considers himself a necessity wherever food is involved. He got a bit cheeky about begging under the food-laden table...

...but a quick command from his momma and his manners immediately improved.

While Sarah was monitoring the behavior of her dog, Tina was checking on the antics of her puppy. Kaiya was a bit miffed about the being tied to a tree during the feast.

Matt was the last to come from helping with food prep to the table.

At that happy moment, the hungry birthday boy knew he was finally going to get to eat.

We enjoyed ham and green beans almondine...

...with the happy addition of a summer favorite, watermelon.

The only person missing as we enjoyed God's bounty was the young man courting Tina, who was celebrating his grandmother's birthday.

In the end, everyone was full and cheered by the fellowship.

As the eating wound down, Ramsey listened intently, hoping to hear some of his favorite words like park and walk.

I noticed toward the end the Kirsten was in her own world, I don't know if she was contemplating what she still has to pack for her move after the wedding. Or perhaps she was remembering the many times of rich conversation around this table. She and Nick will always be warmly welcomed in our home; they'll only be a hop, skip and jump away here in town. However in just over a week, they'll begin creating their own traditions.

My prayer for my beloved daughter is that in three decades she'll find herself as happily married as I am to this fine follower of Christ.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Big Strong Will

Recently I had the chance to visit Eric and Alison in order to babysit Will for them. Having an overnight sitter gave Alison the chance to go with Eric on his first-ever business trip. (They took 7-week-old Emee with them so that Alison could nurse her).

As soon as Will's mommy left for the get away, Will and I headed outside. After all, a 60-degree day in Boston in early April is not to be missed!

As soon as Will entered the garage, he had a twinkle in his happy blue eyes. At a mere 18-months, our first grandson is already one of those kids who could simply pitch a tent and live outside for the rest of his days. Part of the reason is probably his passion for imitating the things he has seen his father do in the great outdoors.

So on this lovely late afternoon, Will went from this brief glance from the garage into the warm afternoon and turned around to grab his shovel. Here's what his grandpa thinks ran through his young mind:

"Let's see... how can I be like Daddy today?"

"I know... I'll do some shoveling!"

"The driveway must need something shoveled..."

"I can shovel snow..."

"... I can even shovel rocks!"

"Hmmm... that was fun, but how can I be like Daddy next?"

"The best way to be like Daddy is to put my shovel away before I start something else!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Birthday Fun and Yum

Last night we enjoyed a joint birthday celebration. Kirsten's birthday is just 3 days before her daddy's so we celebrated both at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor.

After I took the group photo, Faith asked for a picture with just her dad. I got busy adjusting my camera settings. Meanwhile, I  heard the two of them giggling. Sure enough, I looked up and they were happily dancing together.

Once inside, we ordered our ice cream.
Kolya sure loves a good root beer float.

Actually, the second one was Hope's. I just could resist taking the picture of Kolya and the two gigantic mugs as he prepared to pass Hope hers.

Kolya and Hope got their orders several minutes before the rest of us. While we waited, all eyes were on the two of them to see of they could really down so much soda and ice cream.

We also gave Dad his gifts. (Kirsten had already received hers on her actual birthday.) Sarah needed the largest bag for her gift...

...a complete set of screwdrivers! What man doesn't enjoy new tools?

As the saying goes, a good time was had by all!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

James & Sarah 03.12.16

We've lived in the same city and attended the same church long enough that we have had the opportunity to watch boys and girls just entering their teens grow into men and women. James, the groom in the wedding we recently attended, has matured before our very eyes over the past decade so witnessing his marriage to Sarah brought special joy.

I was trying to be unobtrusive as I took pictures from the second row right over the shoulders of James' parents and grandparents. All I could think about was how large and loud my DSL camera seemed. However, after I took the first couple of shots, James' mother leaned back and whispered, "Oh, do take a bunch!" I was happy to comply. I love weddings!

The large words behind Sarah weren't part of the decorations for the wedding. Instead, they were part of the church's decor. However, having been a wife for 32 years, I sat through the ceremony thinking how perfect the words "follow" and "love" were to describe Sarah's best hope for being a wife who truly blesses James. If Sarah will follow James' lead and love him through both joy and sorrow, the Bible promises an life-long union. This friendship is so intimate that God's word says the two become one.

Sarah and James sealed their vows with shared prayer. The backdrop which the two chose for their ceremony was a cross. The pastor's message and their covenant promises made it clear that this union is anchored in a keen awareness that Christ's willingness to die on the cross to take on the sins of humanity is the kind of selflessness they will need to emulate in their marriage. Pastor Dave reminded them that they will need God's enabling grace to live for the other rather than self if they are to go the distance.

After such solemn words...came the kiss!

Followed by Pastor's announcement that the pair was from this point forward a
"Mr. and Mrs."

If I were to title this photo, I'd call it, "Stepping into Life as One."

I followed the couple up the aisle and got this photo just as James and Sarah exited the sanctuary. 

Before we left the church, Tina (left) and Kirsten asked to me to take a photo of them together. I thank God for the friendships that exist between our children!

I was also asked by our daughter Zhenya (right) to capture a photo of her with friend Kaylee. Zhenya played her cello and Kaylee her violin for the ceremony. Again, these two have grown up like cousins as part of the same church family for as long as either of them can remember.

Before we loaded up in the cars to make our way to the reception, Zhenya asked John to watch her cello. Zhenya, home for her first time since she married last September, seemed to forget that her brother was stranded until she returned to fetch her large instrument. John eventually did locate his very social sister but had to get creative with his cellphone to do so. As mom to both of them I enjoyed the way this mini comedy play itself out. And the photo opp was a great one due to the heavy skies that day.

Sarah's bouquet was lovely with its multiple shades of purple roses...

...but even more beautiful was the bride and groom's joy in one another!

During the toasts made by the maid-of-honor and best man, the two often exchanged knowing looks over shared history.

James' mom and dad also enjoyed the humor shared during the toasts.

As dinner finished, James and Sarah made their way from table to table to thank their guests. Those greeted often asked that a picture be taken of them with the newlyweds. Cellphones have revolutionized every aspect of our culture!

Meanwhile, as is so common at receptions that include a dance, the little girls in attendance made good use of the background music as they awaited the bride and groom's first dance.

I love how the whole crowd seems to just disappear as the bride and groom take to the floor for their first dance as husband and wife.

The story was no different for Sarah and James.

The 300 of us watching simply became invisible to them
as they stared lovingly into one another's eyes.

I do so love attending weddings! Each one is token of the rare, multifaceted jewel that married love is. Each wedding seems to remind me of the importance of investing in my marriage to keep our friendship strong enough to prevent being pulled apart by the crazy busy that each week inevitably brings. I'm glad Sarah and James plan to continue living in our community, at least for now. It will be a delight to watch their bond grow even more beautiful. To God be the glory!