I fought to stay awake in the dim light, as I sat at the kitchen table pouring myself an indulgent bowl of honey-nut cheerios...Our crew went from a party of 3 to a party of 7, plus two dogs, for ten days. I was not prepared for the total exhaustion that came over me each night.

Cereal.  It hits the spot. Something I rarely have in my own home, because no one eats it.  But, during those ten days, it was there for me each night like a good friend to confide in.

The week started with it's share of challenges.  I wasn't mom, so one little boy in particular took it upon himself to test boundaries and find out what shenanigans he could get away with.  They all did, in their own way.  And Truman, wet with drool (from the four teeth he was cutting) and his toddler counterpart, potty training, competed daily for the role as baby of the house.

The first day included over-excitement and tears, fighting each other and fighting for my attention, a spill that stained the carpet, stubbed toes and what seemed like 100 little bags of open chips, and hungry little people all day long.

That first night Don had school and I was left to carry out evening and bedtime customs.  I was already exhausted as I acclimated to the new routine, and 4 extra children.

As night fell and laborious duties of showers n' baths and pajamas were checked off the list, it was time for bed.  At first, putting them to bed was just a continuation of the daunting tasks that preceded this culminating evening event.  But, as the high energy began to settle, following an endless trek of drinks and trips to the bathroom, I finally stopped coaxing them to hush their mouths and stay in bed.  Instead, I pushed the comfortable thought of that sugar-filled bowl (that awaited me down stairs) out of my mind.  And started embracing the moment.

We read books, told stories and sang songs as I softly caressed their feet and hands.  Peace began to set in.  And joy crept in.  I started falling in love with these little monkeys.  Eventually, the last little set of eyes drifted off to sleep.

We played.  And played and played.  I got to know them.  Lines were drawn and reinforcements were set. Picnics at the park, play dates with friends, crafts, games, BBQ's, Chuckie-cheese with Gpa Bob.  We even made it to Sea World.  I was so proud of us! We did it, without too many tears or melt-downs.

Things got better after that first night.  Much better.  I welcomed this new experience as a family of seven.  And while the work never stopped, and my days always concluded the same--exhausted, sitting at the kitchen table with my crunchy, sugary cereal--this experience was rewarding.  I love those kids, and now I miss them like crazy.

I fell deeper in love with my husband as I watched him be so patient and gentle and playful.  Truman came home with a few battle wounds, but as we sit here together on the couch thinking about this experience that has been etched into our hearts, I miss the coming and going, the constant purpose and charge, the structure and the chaos, the snuggling and the playing. I miss those little people that are now a part of our story.

I'm grateful for family, and in this case my families' family. I'm grateful for the opportunities we get to weave in and out of each others lives, like a beautifully crafted quilt.  It makes my story full.

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The Big Apple

New York City has my heart.
It's like that song on the radio that comes on and blind sides you. Before you know it your heart is swelling with emotion.  Your mind follows, trying to put the pieces together, and then...you remember.
Associations are pretty rad--connecting memories with specific places, smells, sights, sounds.  I will always associate New York with falling in love with my husband.  We visited while we were dating and although marriage had been a topic of discussion for quite a while, it was here that all fears were put aside.  Our unofficial engagement. 
Going back to that place over three years later, I was surprised to find it saturated with all of those newfangled emotions and memories.
I am in love with east coast foliage.  Really, it is a sexy beast.  So is that man pushing the stroller.  :) ^^

I fail when it comes to taking pictures on trips.  I get so lost in the moment i forget to whip out the big ol' thing.  Because lets face it...I'm a bit of a spaz.  When I'm having unique experiences, I'm like a kid in a candy store.  Grace?  What is that?  (Those are the moments I know Grandma L. is rolling over in her grave :) So, I'm posting some phone pics.  
^Whispering sweet nothings into the secret corners of Grand Central. ^

I love that in New York you can be amoung the hustle and bustle of city life and then, a few blocks down the road you are in a beautiful serene park that has managed to dround out all of the annoyances of the busy streets.  
We were there during the anniversary of 9/11.  There was a reverence around the city that day. And while I can remember where I was, what I was doing, and how I felt when the attacks happened twelve years ago, for the first time, I imagined what it must have felt like for the people right here.  In New York.  The fear, the sorrow, the intense vulnerability. I can't begin to comprehend it.  But I imagined the coming together and the outreach of love and healing that took place in the days and even years that followed.  Everything I thought it was in my own reality is nothing compared to the reality of it's presense here, in NY. 
I love this country. We are strong and we are brave.  God is looking out for us.



I have been gone all summer from this little corner of the web.  And, I must say, our time apart has been good for me.  This summer has been a time of learning and a lot of fun.  But lots of learning.  Some handed to us because of circumstance and some which happened upon our own accord. Oh, the school of life...

Life lessons aren't always something to rave about.  It's usually during their finale or after the show is over and looking back that we find ourselves grateful for the experience.  And usually during the show it can be a bit...uncomfortable. (I guess that's the point.  It wouldn't be a lesson unless it opened our eyes, got us out of our comfort zone and humbled us enough to change.)  However, as we saw these experiences rolling in, we decided to experiment and approach them a little differently.

As soon as we accepted our summer tale to be one of growth and understanding we began seeking it out ourselves instead allowing it to happen to us.  We spent more time in our scriptures and Barnes n Noble.  More time being very present and aware rather than getting distracted. We allowed ourselves to feel instead of putting up walls.  We are learning about life, spirituality, love, acceptance and keep'n it real. We've had a lot of late night talks, filled with books, sincere conversation and intoxicating laughter.  And we have made this summer's experience a story that wont be forgotten.  The greatest lesson we've gained thus far is that life is about love.  And acceptance.  For ourselves and for others.  

I have a lot to catch up on for my own records' sake.  So, be expecting summer part I through XX.  Ha-ha.  Or, maybe just a few.  I love me some adventure and that is what we've done all summer long!  
Also, there are some projects in the wings that will surface shortly.  I'm very excited to bring them to light.  

Other fabulous news, my baby is almost eight months old.  (Seriously?!)  Can it really be that this little dude that I held in one arm, now drapes across both arms and then some?  He is so big.  And I can't get enough of his sweet, tender, curious nature.  

Happy back to school everyone!  

P.S. Please don't mind my off-centered blog right now.  I need to fix it, it's driving me crazy, but I'm not making time for it quite yet.  So, we're all just going to have to deal with it for the time being.  
Love to you all.  I'm happy to be connected again.   


Hello, Happy.

Alright friends, we've got our last Hello, Happy guest post.  I've enjoyed reading from these bloggers about the things that make them happy.  I'm excited to conclude with Liz.  Her grace and inner peace seem to exude from her writing and offers a fresh perspective on life.  I really get captivated reading her blog.  Enjoy!!
Hello, I'm Liz, and my little nook on the internet is called, Life As Liz.  
I had so much fun writing this, and finding all the hidden joys that continually happen in the midst of my daily chaos.  It is great to find the "littlest blessings" are often the ones that bring us so much joy. :) 

1// It has almost become routine, that after a fresh  early morning diaper change, my two youngsters will jump and run on my bed.  I have found joy in these small moments of chasing them around, throwing the sheets above their heads, as they giggle with anticipation as the sheet floats down.  
Once it is time to catch their breaths, I catch them peering through my bedroom window to watch the birds, while exclaiming, "tweet, tweet!"  (Our bedroom view gives me so much joy, every. day.  It reminds me of how much God understands what my heart desires and then gives to me so faithfully.)

2// Ahhh...cooking, baking, and frying.  It's my love language.  I find joy in making meals that feed my family, and seeing the smiles a hearty meal brings to their sweet faces.  Cooking also brings us together in the kitchen, and then around our table, where as a family we talk, laugh, and enjoy our plates each day.  It makes me feel very blessed.

3// If you told me I would enjoy gardening when I was eighteen, I would have laughed at you...hard.  Nevertheless, this is my third year of gardening, and every day that I see my plants surviving, growing, and producing fruits, well....it makes me swell with happiness.  Who knew that getting my hands and knees dirty, to work the earth, would fill me with so much satisfaction. 

4// I'm still a beginner when it comes to knitting; however, knitting clears my mind with each stitch after a chaotic day.

5// Spring is here...finally!  Need, I say more?  So much joy can be found in the seasons.

6// This cookbook was a hidden joy found on the shelf of my library after my son nagged me to death to take him to look for new books to read.  I'm very thankful for his nagging now.  This cookbook, Flour, has me so inspired that I told my husband that I'm going to cook my way through every recipe, just like the movie Julie & Julia.  I think I may just do it, so stay tuned.

7// Finding solitude in the day is probably my biggest joy.  It allows me to connect with God and myself without interruption.  My favorite spot is the dock on the pond during the sunset.  It is the place I go so that my thoughts and creativity can flow freely and I can come up for air after a day full of temper tantrums, screaming children, and a moody teen. Haha!

Thank you, Jessi, for inviting me to guest post;  I feel so honored!

"It is His joy that remains in us that makes our joy full." - A.B. Simpson