My rainbows

I just glanced outside and saw this mystical hue filling our front yard, dark black clouds sitting behind my brightly lit trees brimming with fall color.  I commented to Caleb as he worked on his writing,  “Look out the window – it looks magical out there doesn’t it?”.  He agreed and I wondered out loud if there might be a rainbow out there because it had just started to rain in the midst of such bright light.  Kyler headed out on the porch to check and indeed, there was one.  We ran to check it out. It was stunning.

We stood and soaked it all in.  Pretty soon there were two rainbows, the second one fainter than the first.  Kyler said “Oh how I wish I could climb the tree where it meets the ground! It would be so amazing!”  I asked him what he’d do if he could and he said “Well, I’d touch it.  I’d climb on it and it would be beautiful!”.  Though he’s heard me explain it before, knows its just light reflecting and the result of the perfect God-designed weather conditions (and the age-old promise He gave to Noah)….when its right there in front of you and its just so unreal how lovely it is.  It’s hard to believe its really even there.

What I couldn’t stop thinking about was if it wasn’t raining right now, there wouldn’t be a rainbow.  I know I can’t be the first person to think that but I couldn’t shake the parallels to my own life.  There is some rain, serious, flash-flood type “are-we-going-to-be-washed-away?” sort of rain.  But even in the midst of it, I have glimpses of the miracles at hand, the sheer beauty of God doing something beautiful in my mess, and it takes my breath away.  Makes me want to grab my (mental) camera and freeze frame my life that very second.

The rain is key to the beauty of the rainbow.  It is key to my rainbows.  I couldn’t possibly “cultivate the land, the life, He’s given me” if I didn’t have a drop of it.  If I only have the sunshine then nothing would be growing here.  The planting of little seeds of life and truth and love all around me, the pruning and clipping back of my vines that can’t bear fruit and the rain….the sometimes despised, often complained about but veritably LIFE GIVING rain in my yard and in my life.

Honest truth is I’m learning to love it, to say welcome to it every day.  Because the learning to keep walking, to keep believing in the midst of rain – this is what I long for.  The fertile life that is soaked and drenched in wet mess but green and sprouting all over?  That’s what I wake up asking for every day.  Looking for rainbows and the promise of miracles, small ones and big, all over the landscape that is my life.

 

 

Our fall tradition

Though this post always looks strangely similar to the one last year, I will share anyway.  More for me than anyone else.  We made sure to schedule this fall adventure to the pumpkin patch BEFORE the newest member of the Jorgenson family joins the world this coming Friday!  My sister was such a trooper and didn’t complain one single bit traipsing her nine month pregnant self around muddy fields.

Audrey, rockin’ her big 80’s hair, just because she can
Rylee taking Finn for his cow train ride – how is my ‘baby’ old enough to go without his mama!?
the big four, taking up the whole quad teeter-totter
girlie cousins, taking their first shared ride in the cow train
taking a tractor trailer ride to get pumpkins
Kyler ADORES this little cousin!
finding the perfect mud puddles
my little (big) pumpkin
the ever famous, ever growing cousin photo
be still my heart, I could not possibly love this man any more…

 

this pretty much sums up how Phineas felt about the day
this was the part where we bribed him with two peanut butter cookies…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living history – colonial times

History in a textbook can be so boring that the whole subject is forever labeled as far from interesting.  One of my favorite things is when I get the chance to make it come alive for my children.  Today was one of those days.  Our American Girl book club group met here today and we studied colonial America.  We’ve been hard at work all week getting ready and I was nervous last night that the day wouldn’t meet up to our collective expectations!

Colonial Williamsburg, where the Felicity books take place, is a place so near to the heart of our family.  We’ve visited numerous times and my grandparents live there.  My husband is a history major and is totally passionate about history.  I am the teacher of our children so I am immersed in all of it all over again and that has to be one of the best things ever!

We started with a book discussion, talked about colonial times, what their life looked like and how it differed from ours.  We talked about the Patriots and Loyalists and how much was at stake during that time. The girls joined me at the table where I’d put out several things similar to what they would have seen in the late 1700’s.

Glass blown by hand tinged green from the algae in the water, large keys made of metal and brass, candle holders to light dark nights with no electricity, extremely heavy iron that had to heat in the fire before using them and a washboard for all the hand washing of laundry.  A copy of the Declaration of Independence and a colonial map, just for fun!

In discussing clothing and bathing, we learned that the reason they wore those white caps on their heads wasn’t just the style but that it kept their hair clean – bathing was such an ordeal.  The mob cap protected them from sun as well as kept their heads cleaner.  My (amazing) mother offered to sew white mob caps for all the girls and also to get ready little small mob caps for their dolls.  It was too fun!

  The girls glued lace to the edge of their doll caps then let it dry and later threaded elastic through to complete the project – they were so proud – they turned out darling!  Even the boys insisted on dressing up, their job was to tend the fire outside.

I walked the girls outside, talked about how much work just making a cake would be, getting milk, making butter, grinding flour and collecting eggs.  We don’t get milk yet from our goats but we talked about how they would have had animals that all served a purpose and were key to their survival.  Our horse is a cute pet but I said that horses would have had to work hard then, plowing, pulling carriages or being ridden.  We checked for eggs but there were none, I’d taken the last two from under the hens this morning to bake our apple cake for snack time!

We made a button spinner, buzz saw type game with a string and button, played Blindman’s Bluff in the backyard and colored colonial paper dolls.  We talked about the things they used to play with – corn husks, shells, flowers, leaves and tried to imagine those being our ‘fun things’.

Getting to do this with these girls was the highlight of the month for me and for sure one of the highlights of our year!  Next time we meet I am hosting a formal tea, teaching how to curtsy and dance the minuet.  We might learn some manners too!

Camping with the fab five

Someone told me at church today “If you go back and listen to old school Gary Smalley messages he said once ‘if you want to give your child great memories and bond as a family, go camping’.  Well, good thing something wonderful may come of our super challenging but super “fun” weekend.  Upon looking for this information online, I found this quote from him, which rings so true:

The real secret to becoming a close-knit relationship is shared experiences that turn into shared trials.

~ Gary Smalley

After a less than lovely and three hours later than planned departure (don’t ask), we were on our way with nearly everything we owned (except the portable crib for Finn which we wouldn’t know until bedtime).  After sticking it out to make almost three whole weeks with no fast food, we broke down and had McDonald’s on the way for dinner.  We got to the campground around bedtime and stayed up later than our norm getting all set up.  There were cousins which made everything more fun.

No computers, no dirty bathrooms that needed cleaning, no agenda besides to have fun.  It was great.  Until I realized we’d left the crib for Finn at home.  We figured we’d just make him a bed and he’d sleep on the ground on his sheepskin.  Notsomuch.  He threw the fit of his life.  I packed it up and went to the van with him.  We spent the entire night in there.  Me sitting up making sure he didn’t fall off the seat where he’d finally fallen asleep after a couple good hours of him screaming.  Afraid that any noise I made would wake him I tried to freeze and sleep for about 6 hours.  Instead of sleeping, I stared at trees and listened to him breathe and looked for signs up daylight.  There is something very un-fun about being awake when everyone else is asleep.

Some coffee and some happy campers beckoned me to choose happy and get on with the adventure.  We searched for crabs and found hundreds.  Finn chilled in the Boba on daddy’s back and looked positively exhausted, which made me slightly annoyed because really, he got more sleep than me.  By a longshot.

My sister, who is a rockstar, braved camping not with a needy 16 month old and four other kiddos but instead with a growing baby in her belly and her own two littles.  She deserves an award.  We both do, here is our game face the morning after camping, night one:

Our two girl cousin buddies enjoyed each other as always…

and all the boys ‘helped’ put up Nana and Papa’s tent on day two of camping fun:

Finn loved him some Papa…

and for that matter so did Kyler…

then everyone joined in to play “crawl to the beach like a crab” or something like that…

Ruby watched the silliness and stayed warm in her winter hat, because well, you know, this is still Seattle:

Daddy figured out how to build underground tunnels in the wet sand and everyone thought that was awesome…

It’s been just over a week.  I swore I’d never do it again at about 3 AM both nights while Finn kept me from sleep.  But you know what?  Our kids would tell you it was the best ever and a super fun weekend.  These are the things that memories are made of.  And as my sister so astutely observed ‘the terrible awful just sort of melts into the wonderful’.  One minute I was curled up in a ball in a van seat with a baby who wouldn’t sleep and shortly after I was sitting at the beach listening the absolute glee while my children found crabs of all colors and patterns and delighted in the simplest things.

It is that truth that leads me to say that probably, we will do it again.  Maybe we’ll do it a little better or maybe not.  But we will try again, we are crazy like that.

Simple summer fun

She’s carrying her seventh baby blessing and I recently miscarried our sixth.  We have quite the clan of little people when our tribes are together.  When she comes I feel no pressure at all to clean house or hide all the laundry.  We both educate our children at home so during the year we have less time for these lazy sorts of days but oh my goodness do we enjoy them when they come.  Last Thursday was one of those that we never wanted to end….

and my all time favorite summer photo (possibly ever) because it seems to exude everything ‘summer’?

A nine year old!

Nine years ago last week we welcomed a tiny, sick, premature baby into our family and became parents for the first time.  She has grown into an amazing, beautiful girl who will be a young woman before we know it.  This is her birthday letter (part of it at least…) from this year:

  You are nine years old.  My heart bursts with gratitude for the girl you are becoming.  As I watched you open gifts last night for your birthday you were so grown up and polite and genuine as you found delight in each present you had been given.  I did not have to remind you to say thank you and you were so grateful and so quick to appreciate what you received.  It reflected a growing up, maturing heart that is often a beautiful reflection of Jesus to those around you.

Your heart for others Rylee, its amazing.  And for years now I’ve agonized over the lack of friends for you in our life and how hard daily life with your brother can be day in and day out.  You endure a lot with him and sometimes you have such a great time.  But there are days that he hurts you with words, hands and attitude.  We’ve tried our best to provide friendship-making-opportunities for you but nothing great has panned out.

Until now.  God has heard our many prayers and He has opened up new doors with a sweet group of girls that I can see becoming long time, precious friends for you.  He cares so much about you.  He knew just who you would be and just what you would need.  As you head into the pre-teen years, you will crave companions and these new girls are perfectly suited to share life with you.  They love animals, they are in 4-H, they go to our co-op, they have parents who love Jesus….the list goes on.  I just want to make sure I wrote you about how faithful God has continued to be to you and how much we see Him in and around you.

You love to put your baby brother down for naps and are so proud when you get him to sleep.  You often ask me if I got much sleep when you see me in the morning.  You are quick to help with meal preparation and love, love to organize things.  You share.  A lot.  You are the apple of your little cousin Ruby’s eye.  I’m pretty sure you’ll need chiropractic help for your back after all the time you LOVE spending holding little ones.

You’ve identified our baby pattern and have resolved that the “next baby God gives us will be a boy”.  It’s that simple to you.  Our value of life, all life, is so internalized in you – it often truly blows me away.  How you will live out your life and your purpose with driving truths as counter culture as these I do not know.  I do know that your dad and I cannot wait to see your life continue to unfold.  Your sensitivity to what is going on around you in the lives, faces and hearts of others is far, far beyond your years.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

YOU ARE OUR TREASURE.

Our life, our family is so, so much better because of you.

Happy 9th birthday sweet girl!

Modeling the pillowcase dress she sewed last week at a 4-H sewing workshop!  After she shows it at the fair it will be donated to an orphanage in Haiti.

Winter sunset

11 months old and watching the world around him every minute – he can’t wait to be able to keep up with everyone

creeping close to 4 years old and an absolute delight of a girl

best friends + cousins

unbelievably sweet and tender boy – loves his baby brother more than words can possibly say

conqueror, overcomer, adventurer

“Mommy, look I drew you in the sand….and you’re a princess!” – Audrey

thoughtful, observant, nurturing and responsible

rock scrambling before the light runs out

watching the big boys throw rocks in the water

sometimes the unplanned, last minute outings are the best…
but anything with cousins is always fun!

An epic night

We got an email invitation a few weeks ago to jedi warriors and princesses for a galactic evening to remember at Nana and Papa’s house.  In unbelievable Star Wars style, Monday night went down as one of the most anticipated fun fests in the history of the lives of our children….

The oldest four knocked on the door.  They waited and knocked again.  They were all dressed up as four Star Wars characters.  Then there was music.  Even through the front door we heard the blaring soundtrack as the exuberant “grandmother of Princess Leia” answered the door.  The kids grinned and went in.  “Welcome to the Crazy Canteena” she told them.  They walked upstairs to the kitchen and were greeted by tons of fog/smoke (from dry ice) pouring off the counters and a “fierce ” looking bad
guy (?) reaching up from the mist.

The kids did a dance in the kitchen with “Grandmother” and “Unknown Bad Guy Papa”

We had dinner, below is the ridiculously creative menu from Nana:

Then Papa gave a lesson from the Bible on wearing God’s armor and how God has the power to defeat all the bad.  It was pretty awesome.

Dessert was Death Star balls and little Darth Vader Delights – how cute are those little bad dudes?

It was a night to remember. We feel totally thankful to have such stellar grandparents for our kids nearby.  It is precious.

Mukilteo Monday

Last week was a week I wouldn’t mind forgetting for the most part.  I got the flu and struggled immensely just to get through the days and care for our family.  Usually, I get thrown up on and coughed on and maintain a fairly excellent immune system but last week didn’t work out just so.

So, it being Monday and all I’m finding the need great to keep counting gifts…

#509 – netflix on sick days

#510 – my hubby installing twelve, yes twelve, new lightbulbs for me – the house is so much brighter!

#511 – babylegs on crazy chubby thighs

#512 – a brunch jazz cruise around the bay, a super thoughtful gift from friends

#513 – above mentioned friends watching our five kids WITH their five kids for FIVE hours while we enjoyed said cruise

#514 – knowing he still thinks I’m beautiful

#515 – a freezer full of beef coming our way tomorrow….yum

#516 – spontaneous ice cream outings

#517 – an impromptu beach dinner at sunset on this oh-so-totally-gorgeous Pacific NW fall evening

#518 – Ivar’s fish and chips

#519 – he thinks she’s beautiful too

#520 – living near ferries and water

#521 – silly silhouettes

#522 – kissing in the dark