Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yemen Girl Reunion at Wind Whistle Farm, Maine

Thankful for safe travels and life-long friends picking up right where we left off, a big cozy cabin in Maine to relax and play, a plethora of wonderfully wild little boys (especially the toddler "twins", Levi and Alistair) and a sweet baby girl to cuddle, Levi meeting some of his Yemeni aunties for the first time, prayer and encouragement, yummy meals, ice cream, heart to hearts, five henna-ed hands, wildflower walks, teaching our kids the crazy games we used to play, late nights talks, strategy games (and finally a win!), a big ol' 30th birthday party with strawberry shortcake, Canadian chocolate and matching pendants, Lobster dinner with just the girls, a day at the lake, soccer games, Yemeni breakfast, Kaden's pictures, memories retold and relived, a Salem walk, burgers and accidental "adult" milkshakes, naked little boys happy in the ocean, the sweetest time of reunion and reconnection some of my nearest and dearest. 

(also, thanks to Brian and 9 year old Kaden for some of the photos!)

Thursday, July 24, 2014


(the Yemen girls, circa 2010, celebrating the last wedding Yemeni style! Just missing Ruth.)

I'm off to hang out with these lovely ladies for a reunion in a big farm house in Maine for a few days. They are coming in from all over North America, with families in tow and I'm terribly excited. We're planning to swim, relax, star-gaze, reminisce, eat, do henna, celebrate all of us turning 30 this year and cuddle each other's children as much as possible. No matter how far we scatter and how much time goes by, the bond of a Yemen girl is much too strong to break. Back soon! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

8 years, and the year of pearls

Yesterday we celebrated our 8th anniversary. It was an especially special one for many reasons, but mostly because it's been a year of many highs and lows. Brian, in particular, has lived out his wedding vows in the most gritty, real and beautiful ways he ever has ever had to (I tear up thinking of him gently helping me shower and dress when I couldn't move my leg or stand up by myself). He cared for me and our family during those last days of pregnancy and early days after Magnolia was born with grace, selflessness and a well-needed dose of good humor. I'm so thankful to be able to spend life with a man who leads, protects and cares for his family in the Christ-like way he does and always has. I will never take for granted how he daily demonstrates Christ's covenant love to me.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Baby Friendly Necklaces

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kirsten was recounting to me how her 8 month old daughter, Tessa, loves to chew on any necklace she is wearing. Of course, this is neither good for the necklaces, or for Tessa! I told her that I remembered seeing a tutorial for some baby friendly necklaces, so we decided to give it a go. 

These necklaces are basically just a long tube of fabric with unfinished wooden beads inside, each separated by a tight knot. These were very simple to make and we even knocked them out in one morning while caring for and entertaining 4 kids under the age of 3. Super crafter-moms!

So far they have been a huge success. Tessa loves chewing and playing with her Mom's necklace and Magnolia likes holding onto mine while she sleeps or nurses. It's cute, comfortable and it can be played with, tugged and chewed on to any baby's delight.

(I used some brightly colored scraps of fabric from Rwanda that my sister gave me after her semester abroad for the necklace pictured, but I also ended up making a cream-colored necklace, so that I would have one that matched almost any outfit.)

(see a more detailed tutorial HERE)

Monday, July 14, 2014

naming, one by one

Lord...tune my heart to sing your grace --- 
Instead of singing some off key number about what didn't get done today, what went wrong, what failed, what didn't turn out as hoped. 
Tune our hearts to sing Your grace at the end of the day & not our guilt ---- 
and maybe that number just sounds a lot like: count your blessings, name them one by one. 

- A. Voskamp

Still naming one by one... thanks for,

- summer joys; sunshine, barefeet, windows open, flowers, dirt and sand
- friendships secure, graces during times of controversy
- Levi's stories, his jokes, cuddles and funny, fresh realizations
- Maggie's sweet and smiley countenance; her smell, her soft and full head of hair, her huggable, kissable, smooshy self.
- Brian's birthday fun; family, parties and perfect gifts; his desk, new typewriter and it's first masterpiece, a love letter 
- shower notes
- beautiful newborn photos from an old and dear friend
- lots of extended family time; a baseball game, birthday parties, fourth of July activities, cousins, gigantic card games
- safety for my brother and sister-in-law and their house during a huge, spreading fire in the neighborhood
- mucking around the mud with my family, the perfect warm summer breeze, the salty smell of the Atlantic
- coffee dates
- new window/porch box flowers and finally a bit of time to garden
- Brian, just reading his way through the dictionary (crazy)
- continued healing of my nerves, more strength and a first drive by myself!
- the eve of our 8th anniversary and a completely "itch-less" 7th year. ;)
- just this promise - "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."-John 10:10

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mail Stories - By Brian and Jacob

Last week my aunt, uncle and cousin came to visit from Minnesota. We don't get to see them very often, so it was a treat for us to be able to spend time with them during all of the 4th of July festivities. 

Birthday parties are kind of a big deal in our family and we don't often get to have a birthday party for my little cousin, Jacob. This year we decided to remedy that and throw one a month early while he was here.

During their visit, Brian and Jacob had a lot of fun making up creative stories together.  Jacob has a great imagination and Brian was happy to comply with his requests for "more stories!" and "then what happens?!". When we started brainstorming what to give Jacob for his 8th birthday, Brian had a brilliant idea inspired by the fun they had story telling.  

We started with a small lined journal that would fit easily in an envelope.  I stamped the cover with the title "Mail Stories" and with the authors names (Brian and Jacob).  Brian began by writing the beginning of a story onto the front page of the journal. The idea is that Jacob will write the next part of the story and then send it back to Brian to continue..and so on (with an illustration or two by yours truly). We also added a pile of envelopes and book of stamps. 

Jacob seemed SO excited about his gift - it's such a simple concept with simple materials, but what fun to be able to write a story with a friend AND get fun mail on a regular basis. I can't wait to see how the project turns out! (and, of course, what happens to "Smoth") :)
('till next time, Jacob. We miss you already!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

strawberry fields forever

(Ariel, the Beatles reference was just for you. Enjoy. ;)