The power of presence

It was July 2006.

I had just become the mother of three.

Kyler joined our family July 6 and we were just settling into our new life together.

He was a peach of a baby.  Mellow, sweet and beautiful.

A few short weeks after he was born I opened my email folder and read an email that broke my heart.

I could blame it on post-partum hormones or any number of things, but I sat immobilized at my computer and wept.

It was from a dear friend, the friend who when I described her to other people (she lived just north of the border in Canada) the words I always used were “She’s pretty much the sweetest person I’ve ever known in my life”.  And that summed it up nicely.  Shauna had quickly become someone I loved spending time with in college when I went to school in British Columbia.  A pending wedding brought me to finish school down here.  In 1999, she stood with me as a bridesmaid in that wedding of mine.

Fast forward a few years and we were still emailing and writing and meeting halfway for coffee and peanut butter pie.

So when she emailed me in July of 2006 to tell me that her father had died instantly of a heart attack while golfing, I was shocked and couldn’t imagine what that would feel like.

Despite the fact that Kyler was just a few weeks old, I asked Chris if I could go to her dad’s funeral.  It would involve flying across our state, renting a car, crossing the border into Canada (which is tricky sometimes with a new baby and without that baby’s dad), getting to a hotel in a town I’d never heard of before.  At the time, none of that seemed to matter (now it sounds just a little crazy!), I only knew one thing –  the service would take place on a certain day and I simply had to be there.

You see a couple of years prior I had experienced something very painful that left me with an indelible mark on my heart.

When my grandparents died, they lived very close to us, and almost no one came to their funeral from the church where my husband pastored at the time.  Virtually none of our friends came.  I had no idea it even mattered to me that they would be there.  I would have told them “Don’t come, don’t worry about it” had they specifically asked.

But in the moment when I walked in the door behind my grandfather’s casket – 6 months pregnant with Rylee – I was sad.  Not just sad from missing him but sad because people that I loved weren’t there to witness with me and honor the memory of his life.

I realized in that moment how much power there is the presence of people sharing in the important things of life together.  There is something deep and meaningful that is communicated by simply BEING somewhere with someone you love who is hurting.  Even if you didn’t know their grandpa, you know them.  Even if you have something else you’d rather be doing.  Even if you have no idea what the right thing is to say.

So I went with my new baby northward to a darling little town called Nelson, BC where I discovered they roasted great coffee and where I could live out love to my friend.  And I will be forever glad that I did.  Very few of her friends were able to come because of how far away it was from where she lived.  Getting to smile at her and hug her and share the experience of that day with her made it all worth it.

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Thank you to each one who is sharing this journey with us.  We feel like we’re headed somewhere but we don’t know how to get there and we didn’t have a choice in the destination.  Such is the nature of grief I suppose.

We are forever grateful for your prayers and kindness.

And the winner is…

At the beginning of the month we had hosted a little contest on who could guess the weight, length, and birth date of little Melissa Jane Rich.  Well she decided to say hello to Mom and Dad last week and we now have our winners.  Yes, winners, because no one got everything correct.

MJ

Melissa Jane Rich

Born July 8th, 2009

8 lbs 7 oz 21 inches

People who got the birth date correct – Nate and Monica (some inside info?), Stephanie (who joined the contest on July 7th at 9:43pm)

People who got the length correct – Monica (again with the inside info), Bekki, and Chris (oh snap, that’s me!)

And the winner of the one that I think is hardest to predict, little MJ’s weight – Pat with a guess of 8lbs 6oz.

Great job everyone.  Now it is up to Karissa to figure out who she wants to give the prize to.  Congratulations to Nate and Monica, you both have a beautiful daughter to treasure forever.  We can’t wait to meet her!

A little game

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Our dear friends Nate and Monica are expecting a baby girl any day now.  We are so excited to meet this little girl, but we will have to be satisfied with pictures for now as they live on the East Coast.  Nate has been a great friend for many years and I am delighted that he is now a daddy. (We are still not sure how he landed such a great wife!)  The official due date is July 2nd so if you are going to play in this little game, you might have to act fast.  For Monica’s sake, I am hoping this is a really short contest.

I thought it would be fun to see who can come closest to guessing the baby girl’s birth weight and length.  In case you don’t know Nate and Monica, I have this picture of the two of them from their wedding, nearly two years ago.  So good luck, I will announce the results as soon as I get them.  Unfortunately there is no trip to Vegas as a prize, simply the joy in knowing that your mad prediction skills won you a contest.

So whether you know Nate and Monica or not, go ahead and leave a comment indicating your guess on the baby’s birth weight and length.  Closest to the pin wins.  Good Luck!

Costco won’t be the same…

…without Kristin and me and our combined seven children.

It may seem very strange but we have the best times there (large carts big enough for all four of my kids and a load of groceries, free samples, lots of noise) and in a few short weeks she and her family are moving to Arizona.   This is the theme for me the past few years with good friends I’ve had.  They move away or circumstances change and their place in my life is not the same.  I’m trying to understand the purpose in this but don’t have it figured out just yet.  That’s a whole other post.

On our last trip there, I for one was close to crying more than once.  There were all kinds of things that made it highly amusing and a delightful end to our Costco shopping career.  A short little lady with a thick Spanish accent said to me in the freezer section “You just need three more!  Then you will be like me-seven is so fun!”.  She went on to dote on all our kids and talk about how cute they were and how we should enjoy them every minute and they were such blessings.  Not the usual reaction we get and it was so sweet.   We did, in the same trip, get the pointing and laughing from another two ladies.  Some just shake their heads.

Then there was the moment three kids had to go to the bathroom, I took them.  We filled most of the stalls and as I waited for everyone, a man (distracted and talking on his cell phone) walks right into the women’s restroom, stops, looks at me, turns around quick as he can and exits still talking away.  In the same trip, another mom was in a stall with her two kids constantly telling them to keep the door shut, sit down, don’t touch anything-you know the drill-and finally the door came flying open and she was sitting on the toilet trying to finish quickly and cut her losses.  I couldn’t help but smile.

Our last Costco adventure...for now.
Our last Costco adventure...for now.

On another “Kristin” note, when she gets all set doing caligraphy for a little business on the side going, I’ll be sure and let you know.  She helped me create one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever had the joy of giving.  Visit Steph’s blog to see a picture of it.  If you click on the first photo you can get an idea of Kristin’s handwriting talents.  It’s pretty amazing.

The Babysitter Returns!

The long awaited return of Mackenna!
The long awaited return of Mackenna!

Some people go a lifetime without finding that one babysitter that they trust with their children completely.  We are blessed to have Mackenna as one of those babysitters, and no – you can’t have her number!  Fortunately for her, and unfortunately for the rest of us back home, Mackenna decided to travel abroad and entered a school overseas.  She did however, come back for Christmas break, and our kids could not wait to see her.  Here are some pictures of the snow day they had together.

A little snowman in the back
A little snowman in the back
Oh yeah...I'm tough...take that Frosty!
Oh yeah...I'm tough...take that Frosty!

-Chris

A night of friendship and worship

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Saturday night we intended to head out to Everett Family Church for a night of worship.  We had been tootling around in our van with chains on feeling very comfortable in the snowy/icy conditions on the roads here, so we were not nervous about heading out Saturday night even though the weather people were predicting severe winds.  We got the van started, and were about to start loading up our tribe for the 5:00pm service when it started to snow.  At that point we chickened out and decided that we better stay home.  However, we invited friends over and had a delightful time catching up and carved out a significant amount of time to tell the story of Christmas to all 7 kiddos.  This was our version of church for the week, and we loved it.  Thanks to our friends who trekked through the snowy conditions to get to our house.

Chris tells the story of Jesus' birth
Chris tells the story of Jesus' birth
Thomas opened his gift box to find Gabriel the angel.
Thomas opened his gift box to find Gabriel the angel.
Kyler investigates the Mary that he found when he opened his gift
Kyler investigates the Mary that he found when he opened his gift

Christmas fun

I’m back from my blogging break. It’s been a long week. But here are some highlights for the fam:

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Reade Christmas Tree Farm in Snohomish provided us a great tree for cheap, rolling hills covered with trees, a tractor ride and free cocoa. This may have been the first year we had no major meltdown or marital “disagreement” on the day we got our tree, hooray for that!

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Ever wonder what 2 1/2 batches of chex mix looks like? Here you go. See the nice sharing taking place with my three little cooks? Those are my favorite moments. They measured all the ingredients for me and shook it all up and have done their fair share of eating it too 🙂

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We were planning on 16 children this morning at our house for our Christmas Craft morning, but we only had 11 due to colds and such. It was fun, the kids decorated wrapping paper, made ornaments and iced sugar cookies (or rice cakes!).

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In other unrelated news, I am excited to be back to cloth diapering for Audrey, now having enough to go 2 full days before washing, which is my bare minimum for my own sanity. The above are my new (bad photo sorry!) darling dipes for little Audie girl. When diapers are this cute, who wouldn’t want to cloth diaper? Thanks Amanda for the great diapers and the custom capes for our boys for Christmas. I can hardly stand to keep them hidden for 15 more days!

Projects for Everyone

If you have young kids you need to know about the kids programs that they have at Home Depot. I have been truly impressed each week at the Everett location. Each Saturday morning from 8-9 the store provides an employee (a wonderful lady named Chris in Everett) and free material to build a project. The first Saturday of each month they provide a new project. I am not sure that every store does this, but the one in Everett allows you to come and bring the kids every week and work on a project that they have done in the past if you have already built the current month’s project. Here is the catamaran they built Saturday. In addition they have also built planter box’s, pencil holders, football stools, Nascar racing cars and a castle. So far I just take Rylee and Caleb, however last week we brought two of our neighbors. The kids get their own personalized Home Depot apron to wear and receive a coordinating pin for each project they complete. We usually finish up around 8:40 and head off to our favorite coffee shop – The Spotted Cow – for some hot cocoa. This is becoming a wonderful Saturday morning tradition. 

Daddy’s project this last weekend was fencing in our side yard. Thanks to Nana and Papa, our friends Erik and Kris, and my neighbor Brian, here is what went up on Saturday. I still need to finish off the top of the lattice with a decorative arbor.  The project continues as we are hoping to put down weed barrier and pea gravel and finally finish the play fort with slide and climbing wall. Ambitious, but necessary for our sanity this summer.

Our school project involves teaching Rylee to read. She is chomping at the bit and last night was demanding to read some books by sounding the letters out. She did great. She is a great learner and excited to be able to read. She is doing great already reading 3 or 4 four pages of “mat sat.” and “sam sat.”

On the Audrey front we have two more members of the AFC: our friends Kris and Bekki.  It was so great to see you guys on Saturday!  By the way, make sure you note the big smile Kris is getting from Audrey. All in all it was a great weekend.

-Chris

Farewell to Friends

Good Friends

Yesterday we had the difficult job of saying goodbye to dear friends.  Nate and Monica are now driving across the country as they relocate to Philadelphia.  I have been friends with Nate for the better half of my life even though at one point he dated my little sister-in-law.  In fact, the other day, Karissa and I were watching our wedding video on our anniversary and I saw a picture of Nate and I that brought back many wonderful memories.  It was the two of us getting baptized together.  We both had recently made a commitment to follow Jesus the remainder of our life.  This was not any decision made as a result of some established organized church, for both of this, this was a direct result of an initial and ongoing encounters with the Jesus Christ.  Nate, it was a privilege to be baptized with you and have you stand up for me as my best man and I can not think of a better match for you than Monica (even though she is taking you to the East Coast).  As with all of our friends, Nate and Monica are considered family and will always be family.  We are grateful that Audrey had the opportunity to meet Nate and Monica before they left.  Here’s to a successful trip from coast to coast, fulfillment found in new jobs, and joy for a new community of family and friends.  Our hats go off to Philadelphia…you scored a great couple.

 

-Chris