Monday, June 29, 2009

Little Feet

A very wonderful thing happened here two weeks ago. Our youngest daughter was baptized!! It was quite an emotional experience this time around, watching the last one in her first of many rites.

We used a different service this time than we had used with other's. It was simpler, and it was missing this congregational response, that I just found so stirring before..
Call them to ministries of grace
Fit for each age, each time, each place.
Now in this sacrament we, too,
Renew our covenant with You.

These lines just speak to me of the hope that this new child of God will be called, not just once, but repeatedly by the Shepherd and used at each age, in every time, in every place. It really speaks to my mothering heart. Isn't that what we all want for our children and also for ourselves? That we might be instruments for His purpose? That we might have something to contribute for His will at every age. As I was standing there next to the Mr. (married 8 years tomorrow!!) I just couldn't help but tear up a smidge, because it is overwhelming. How small she is, this littlest one, and yet, already tuned for His purpose.

An infant baptism on the whole is different, and one of the things I love about it is what those last two lines say, it is the bearing witness that feeds me, that reminds me of my own responsibilities and promises as well as how we are equipped to deal with all that comes our way.

It was different this time too because as we were standing there before the congregation, with our Director of Christian Education explaining to the children their role in Bit's special day she remarked about how tiny Lil Bit was, and when she said, "Look how small her feet are!" to illustrate how much help she would need, Miss H reached right up under all that imperial batiste and revealed just how tiny! It was perfect.

With all of the children's baptisms we have wondered if they would shriek and holler. Given Bit's prior strong dislike of bathing, the suspense was intense. But, no tears, (maybe one from me, you know the Mr. is made of stone) no shrieks.

Lil Bit did wear the same gown that Miss H had worn (which I had made before she was born; it was one of my first smocking projects) I was certain that she would never fit given that she weighs nearly what Hannah did at a year, but the Yoke was high enough that it went all the way around, and believe it or not, it buttoned right up.

Here of course, are your flashback pics!!

Miss H and Cubby, January 7 2005

Little Daddy's Baptism October 14th 2007

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things that Sparkle!

I just love summertime! Around here, it is not just a time of year, it is a lifestyle change. It means, no work and pretty much all play. Thank goodness we still go to church on Sunday's or I think we would lose all track of the days. We kicked off some summer fun, with a lightnin m'keen bug hunt, and the kids first backyard sparkler attempt.

Here is a fact you don't think of until you are a parent, those bugs don't come out until just about dark. So of course we had to wait for those darn lightning bugs to arrive, which they did not do until 8:30, so that was a super late night for the kids! We did get some quality swinging time in on the jungle gym. Miss H can now pump which I would just like to say is super sweet, because it is a little known fact about me that I really do not enjoy pushing a swing! Here's Rachel enjoying her baptism present from Mimi and Papa earlier in the day (ooops, that reminds me I should get those pics up!)***Also, if you are tempted to comment about her hair, let's leave it at temptation hmmm****

While we waited, we let the kids go for it with some pyrotechnics. Cubby was disappointed that we did not let him use "the kind of fireworks that shoot up in the air." Let's start with these I said politely. After we discussed the importance of "stop drop and roll" The Mr. got out the trusty flame and we lit Cubby's sparkler. I'm telling you, I could practically see his heart beating in simultaneous elation and fear!


Little Daddy was the only one who did not have a major reaction. Miss H was giggling so hard in nervous excitement the Mr. could hardly even light hers.

Well, they did great and were anxious to go again. The Mr. and I both remarked that we remembered those sparklers have more sparkle and less handle, and lasting for much longer when we were kids. Although, I'm sure if your heart is beating like Cubbies, the 20 seconds it burned for could seem like an eternity.

Finally, the lil bugs made their appearance! The Mr. Spotted and caught the first ones, but Cubby was right behind him. Miss H and Little Daddy, did not catch any, but luckily the Mr. and I were willing to share. This is the part where I was sad we didn't have a better camera, low-light is not a friend to our pocket camera, and truly if you could have seen the wonderment on Little Daddy's face about those bugs.. you so would have melted! This is the best I got...

So, tuckered out from catching bugs, we headed inside to read "Fireflies in the Night" (it is an excellent children's informational text and part of my favorite science series "Let's Read and Find Out") while eating ice cream (Buy two get three free at Harris Teeter this week, that's right, we all got our own flavor!). Then we sent them to bed, with their own little firefly nightlight. (Don't worry we let the bugs go once the kids were asleep.)

So things that sparkle:
1. Sparklers
2. Kids eyes when they are finally given permission to actually hold "fire"
3. Lightning bugs
4. A toddler's face when the little things actually light up
5. Anything witnessed with eyes of love... (I know super cheese... and true!)

Here's wishing you things that sparkle!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I am unsure when it became an event in our family, but today was a monumental day in the life of our youngest child, the day she had her first doughnut.  I believe that the greatness of this event dates back to the first time we allowed Cubby to have a doughnut and he had that look of pure joy that comes from finding the one thing that can make your life complete.  From that point on, it has been a true event in our family to receive your first doughnut.  Miss H was mildly more subdued in her doughnut response, but still it was clear that she enjoyed it.  Little Daddy was not all that excited about the prospect of taking one at first, but as you can see in the pictures, he later decided that he would eat an entire box.  It is important to note at this point that since the introduction of the doughnut to the first three children, some things have changed.  The most notable change is the fact that Krispy Kreme no longer sells doughnut holes, our traditional first doughnut of choice, but has replaced them with the mini doughnuts.  Which brings us to today...

  This morning I was awakened as I always am by Cubby climbing over my head to get into our bed and then searching for the remote so that he could change the channel for his traditional morning cartoons.  We continued watching for a short period, and then the Lil Bit awoke and called out to me in her ever so joyful morning tone.  We were then joined by Miss H and Little Daddy.  It was quite early and no one was in a particularly good mood, as we had just returned from the beach last night.  This is when I decided that today would be the day.  I quietly roused the children and told them that we would be going on a secret mission, and not to wake their mother (I know what you are thinking right now, I am writing it just like her aren't I?!)  So we quietly snuck out of the house, as quietly as you can with four kids and a door that announces the fact that it has been opened anyway, and we drove off to the Krispy Kreme.  We are extremely blessed to live very close to the local doughnut establishment.  Along the way we discussed the type of doughnuts that we would be purchasing, and it was established that we would need to include sprinkles in some way.  The purchase was made and we returned home.  

   Once we arrived at home, the fun began.  Being an excellent keeper of family history, I made sure that I grabbed the camera and that it was charged.  As this was being done, I also carried the coffee up the stairs along with the baby (this is a very dangerous task prior to drinking the coffee, especially with a baby that flails around like ours, but I made it).  Cubby was the first to run up the stairs and announce our arrival and the presence of doughnuts, I believe his exact words were, " MOMMMM, we are home and we have DOUGHNUTS!!!"  He was followed shortly thereafter by Little Daddy who announced, " MOM, we here wit DOUGHNUTS!!!".  We sat down at the table, but still there was no mommy, so I sent our most prodding youth, Miss H, to get her.  She said, " MOM, we are here and we have DOUGHNUTS!!!".  We sat and waited, the natives were restless so I allowed them to select their doughnuts.  Cubby of course took three immediately, while Little Daddy and Miss H were more reserved and only took two, all of them made sure that they received at least one with sprinkles, and still NO Mommy.  Finally, I could take it no more and I presented the Lil Bit with her first doughnut (making sure to have camera in hand with for this historic moment).  Just as she took her first bite (and I took the first picture) Summer arrived at the table.

  There was a brief tone of disappointment at having missed the exact moment at which the doughnut was presented, but it was soon replaced by the genuine excitement of a mother seeing her youngest child receive perhaps the most unhealthy food item that she has placed in her mouth to date (note that I said "food item" I am fairly certain I removed a chunk of paint from her mouth this very afternoon).  Breakfast continued and Lil Bit seemed to join our family tradition of doughnut enjoyment, which is good, because the kids and I really enjoy sneaking out in the mornings to go get them, and I believe that Summer enjoys it when we bring them back, so I guess Lil Bit gets to stay in the family!

Beach Week

Unlike some of the colorful photos posted by recent grads this week.. we have some adorable and wholesome evidence of our time at the beach this week. I know I have shared previously about how awesome it is to be able to walk with our kids on the beach where we took photos after being wed. But to do so on Father's Day, to have to opportunity to glimpse  and enjoy some of this earthly playground we have been given after being in His word, in the church where we were married was AWESOME!! The talk that morning was an eloquent version of what I had been trying to say in my Father's Day post about horizontal relationships, being not a  mirror but a fragment of the vertical relationship you can have with God. The scripture focus was the story of the Prodigal Son, and it was poignant when coupled with the baptism of a woman in her mid fifties.  Just AMAZING!

All that fresh air, sand and sunshine reminds me how I am very much looking forward to going home to California. Hopefully, we can do that next year. Spending all these days at the beach really made me homesick for good old tower 9! I do think I might have a couple of surfers on my hands here, and I relish the idea that my dad could teach them right there where I learned. (Although, I was never very good!) 

Check out these sweet Pics!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This is the Day... Father's Day

Okay, So I wish that I could do this post justice with the appropriate collection of cutesy photos of my dad and I as I was growing up, but I can't because the majority of my childhood photo collection was destroyed when I went away to college, but I can tell you the following:

My earliest memory of my dad is the two of us walking home across a gravel drive. I am so small (seriously small!!) and I can see only my feet and our shadows. The audio is the quiet crunch crunch of the gravel as we approach the trailer, "C'mon Little Shrimp" his shadow says, just as his arm comes around and his hand lights on my shoulder. It is comforting, and endearing and at the same time amazing, I think we moved from that "house" when I was three. But I was always his "Little Shrimp". This memory bubbles up now and again when I look at my own kids, when I call them Miss H, or Cubby, Jango, and Lil Bit; when I push them on a swing, or fashion a ship out of cardboard boxes, I wonder.. is this the minute they are making their memory? Is this the time, the simple ordinary moment that will stay with them forever? 

My Dad is one of those MacGuyver type people who can do just about anything with a hammer, duct tape and a coat hanger. While there was a period in my life when the homemade or off brand seemed inadequate I now recognize that this  ingenuity, is a skill and a love that far outweighs the ability to purchase something. 

My dad was my t-ball coach, and while I only played one season, (and I may not have been too great!!) He took it very seriously. I can still recall him jolting me from sleep one Saturday morning and asking me if I was ready to go. I answered no I 'm too tired, and went back to sleep. He did go. That was the first time I remember thinking that the world was bigger than just my family, than just me.

My dad is my biggest fan. I can't think of a track meet of mine he ever missed, the year I played volleyball in middle school, he came to every game even though I only got to play back row, and he took me toMcDonald's after every match. I loved that what I was doing was important to him. He didn't coach me, he didn't complain about my performance, he never insisted on a plan or talked strategy he was always just satisfied to watch and cheer.

When I got a scholarship to Wake, it was my dad that I called to say they were offering a full ride. It felt like a big victory for both of us.. I certainly haven't done this on my own I thought. 
My dad, and his high standard but unconditional acceptance, is what gave me the confidence to move so far away and find such a great husband. When I coach, when I teach, when I play with my kids I think about how most of the things I attempt would be undone without my dad. Even my foray into polevaulting was his influence. (I saw an old home movie of him vaulting, on a bamboo "pole" into a pit of hay as an eighth grader.) This is my legacy a love that instills confidence in the recipient, allowing them to grow and change and love and give generously and unexpectantly. The kind of love that is what you need when you need it, and not the answer to your whim or desire.

So of course, I did marry a great man, and guess what, he turned out to be the same sort of doting, but fair dad. Exactly the right balance of fun, discipline, and adoration. 

Finally, but most importantly, like every other: This is the day that the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it. None of these amazing dads would be possible without Our Father in Heaven, and that is what I challenge everyone to remember today. Let us celebrate the joy of Fatherhood, both of being a father and having a father, but let us remember that the this joy is but a morsel of the joy that comes from knowing your Father in Heaven. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

That's A lot of Candles

Did I mention it was my birthday. The kids and the Mr. Baked a super confetti birthday confection and lit it afire! You may be able to hear Cubby exclaim, "You're getting pretty old mom" and Little Daddy add.. and your going to get our house on fire. Sweet! Yes my heart was melting when all the kids were singing, it is quite a sight to behold!

What a fun day, the Mr. helped each of the kids to choose a present for me. Little Daddy, was very excited for me to unwrap my new Lightning McQueen and Sally Matchbox cars. Cubby selected a smurf DVD for my enjoyment, Miss H a book on Coaching Field Hockey, and the Mr. A gift certificate to Miss Martha's sewing shop!! YaY! 

And what do you think I wished for? Well I'll never tell!

It is a gift to have so many people to love, and so much fun each day.

Much love, 
The Birthday Girl!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

I have a wonderful friend who has a well developed gift for serving with genuine joy. I have been many times blessed by her presence in my life, and the experiences we share are a frequent delight to me. It is an awesome challenge to have such a wonderful friend, because she inspires me to grow and stretch into MORE and we all know how it is easier to just be, instead of having to actually reflect and think of how we can be more. So this week, this friend invited my wagon train to accompany her and her two kids as she fed and cared for the farm animals at the Children's Home. 
Just check out this crew of assistants!!

I promise I did not tell the kids to wear their overalls, Cubby just thought that would be the best "Cowboy Outfit" (I did insist they wear boots, unfortunately we only have snow boots, but whatever!) It was so much fun, and my dear friend is an amazing farmer/tour guide/ horse whisperer! She is a person of intense calm, and that is definitely the nature required when working with these lovely animals, and to witness that admidst a virtual circus of child farmers was inspiring. 

I don't think Cubby, Miss H or Little Daddy are going to grow up to be Cowboys, or Ranchers, given their general reaction to "Tizzy" the itty bitty, adorable cow, that may have thought I was his mother. Nor do I expect to see any of them as equestrians given their cower and hide maneuver when two horses came strolling into the laama paddock. Nevertheless, I was so glad to have seen them in action spreading the hay and tossing some carrots. It was a terribly fun morning, and that afternoon, they all took a nap!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Miss Hand Made

Remember this? 

This was the Cubby and Miss H's first day of school. Gosh it really did seem like just a moment ago, and then I realized that when they started school we didn't even have Lil Bit yet! They have had alot of fun at school this year, and have made a few great friends. Listening to them talk about school has been quite an adventure, and I am quite hopeful we can keep up with their new friends over the summer. Sadly nearly all of their little friends start Kindergarten in the fall! 

To close out the school year, Miss H really wanted to make something special for her teachers. (See what a lovely daughter I have? She didn't want to buy something.. no no no.. she wanted to MAKE it!!) We saw a post about ring purses on  Skip to My Lou a while back and she desperately wanted to make one for Mrs. Breen, and Mrs. Feus. 

Off we went, schlepping the four kids to the fabric store. When we arrived at the JoANN Miss H stepped out of the mini-van with  disappointment. "Mom, umm I'm sorry, but I was thinking of Miss Martha's shop." Miss Martha's shop is the fabulous, Knit One Smock Too where I buy supplies for my super important, top notch projects, everything in there is FABULOUS!! Sorry Miss H, but until you can finance your crafting habit, it's the 40% coupon and JoANN for you. 

As much as I love Miss H and her crafting ways, we really differ in our opinions on fabric, color, pattern and design. She definitely has her own ideas, and she is not easily swayed. (I still shudder when I think about her BSF quiet time blankie!!)  I braced myself for a fight about why Mrs. Breen and Mrs. Feus, may not love a beach bag made out of kitten covered fleece. 

Guess what? No Fights! 
Mom, Mrs. Breen really loves Hawaii, do they have any fabric in here that is like Hawaii?" Sure enough they totally did, and it was totally on sale! Mrs. Feus would probably like something with black and white she announced and she quickly selected two coordinated prints from the sportswear aisle. AMAZING, unprecedented, and probably not to be repeated.

She thoughtfully picked out some handles, and off we went. Total shopping time, 35 minutes. 

I used the rotary cutter to slice two rectangles, out of each fabric, then cut a little notch. I did each step of Mrs. Feus's to show her how to do it, and then she would pin and stitch Mrs. Breen's. It was like a faboulous little sewing class!! I ran the tops (the bags are fully lined and reversible!) through the serger, and although Miss H felt very sure she could stitch the handles on herself, I did it. They turned out so adorable!

Here she is bags completed and goofy grin on her face.

And the lucky recipients....

As we were working together Miss H asked me a million questions about when I was a little girl, and how long it would be before Rachel could sew with us, it was just such a blessing.  When I was dreaming up what my daughter would be like, I never knew it could be like this. Miss H is so much more than I even thought to dream about. It is so humbling to me that I should have a Heavenly Father that loves me enough to bring these amazing children into my life! 

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's twue

I was making pancakes when a dejected Little Daddy came strolling into the kitchen and climbed onto our stool. With a pathetic sad little pout he said" Mom, Hannah said I'm wittle." The camera in my heart just clicked away. (He's so stinking cute!!) Serious as could be I answered, "Let me look." I searched him up and down, back and front and carefully examined his hands and feet. But before I could give him my professional mommy opinion, he said sticking out his lower lip in that patented pout, 

"It's twue...         I'm wittle" 

I tried to mother it up, "Well you are littler than Hannah, but you are bigger than Rachel." I said helpfully. 

Guess what.. He wasn't buying it. 

Library LOVE

Following our beach excursion we got back into the habit of going to the library once a week. Our dedication has led to the rediscovery of some great books, There's an Alligator Under my Bed, by Mercer Mayer, and We also rediscovered Peter Sis who is a great preschool author. We read his book Ballet, and made this adorable no sew tutu for Miss H. I literally tied the tulle together while having a playdate with another family. SUPER!! We also checked out "Baby Ballet" an instructional DVD with kids learning ballet. Miss H loved learning the movements. So cute! Little Daddy also showed his dancing flair, he wasn't half bad to be honest. Cubby said no thank you to participation stating that dancing was clearly "for girls". I'm hoping this phase is a short one!!

We also read (I LOVE THE LIBRARY) a great book called, When Pigasso met Mootisse this prompted a mini art colony in the basement, where we painted with bright colors and black outline a la the illustrations in the book.  So fun!!

Guess what? We have two new library card holders here!!
That's right Cubby and Miss H are both old enough to check out their own books! It was an awesome experience, and even my heart was palpitating with the magnitude of the day. Very serious business these library cards, paper work and all!! The two sat very diligently and filled in their names, and posed for pictures with librarian Nan. I was completely flooded with fond memories of my own first library card. It was made of Oaktag, and although it was slightly larger than a business card I can still remember thinking I would never be able to fit my name on the neat little line. No Oaktag here... it's a bar code system!!

Only guess who is struggling with not being one of the big kids? Poor Little Daddy. Too little, and too big at the same time, oh the plight of a middle child!   

Don't they look adorable? Thank you to Mimi Viv who sent these festive dresses just in time. They might be my favorite sundresses ever! And the boys rugby's will go right into GO Deacs season without missing a beat.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where to begin...

Somehow without me noticing, several weeks slipped by and I had no time to reflect let alone savor these last glorious days of my TWENTIES!! I checked the date on the iCal (love you MAC) and realized I hadn't updated anyone on my life since before Mother's Day.. 

Also, we did misplace the camera for a while so I don't have quite the photographic evidence as usual.. First of all the caterpillars, of the three originals, we replaced two and ended up with one that's right ONE butterfly to release. Watching them grow so fat and big, only to hurl themselves into the pitiful dirt below was quite disheartening, but the stages of the chrysallis were amazing. My only regret is that the day I knew "Riley the Second" would hatch, I made a mental note to call the kids up there at 10:00 and I forgot so we didn't witness the actual emergence, but there she was hanging upside down drying her wings. It was amazing, (life in general seems that way to me, but this was particularly so)
So we said a little prayer for Gigi and Riley II floated away, and it was quite uplifting and satisfying to have a physical emblem of your grief, literally take off on the wind. There was a tense, and teary moment, in which Miss H said, "But I want Riley  the 2nd to live here. I will miss her if she goes away." We had to talk about how nothing that we love can ever really leave us, and how even when it is not easy, we have to do what is right. I felt like I was talking to myself about having to say goodbye to my grandmother, and  dealing with this growing shift to independence that is happening around here. Honestly, it was a little intense for what I thought would be a simple science/grief project for the kids. 

The Littlest Bit is going to be in need of a new nickname, because she is getting to be not such a little bit, and is instead quite a busy girl. She can crawl, and from the photos, it appears she's been doing it for months! Here is a video from May 1st of her blowing kisses. Please make no comments about the general state of my appearance, unless you are going to say something about how I just look great holding a baby.. (even if what you want to say is I should hold it pretty much in front of me!) 

She also can say mama and dada now and eats a variety of food, but in true Riley Family style, loves salmon, beans, and otter pops (which we now call icees but will always be otter pops). She will drink water from a cup, and lemonade from a straw, and she is obsessed with our CamelBak bite straw waterbottles, but she will only take milk from her mama.. (hmm annoying and simultaneously, adorable!)

We spent mother's day weekend at the beach with mimi and papa, which to be honest I absolutely loved. It was a quick trip, but so much fun. below are a few pics of the vacation. I love vacationing there and spending time with our kids in the same place we celebrated our wedding. I was particularly struck on this vacation, at how amazing our kids are. Those of you who know me, know that that joys I have had in motherhood come frequently as a surprise to me. What a blessing! 
Just check it out!!

This was also one of my first opportunities to see the clear advantage of Mimi's camera (all the kids got her for christmas). It is AWESOME! You can probably tell which are hers and which are mine in the beach photos above. 
So of course this post is getting a trifle long, so I will update you on Pigasso and Mootisse, Volcanoes,TuTus, State Champions, Library Cards, Hannah Made beach bags, Cricut Maching (LOVE IT) the end of the school year, and my personal favorite The POOL!!!

To two of the special people who read this blog.. we are thinking of you, we are praying for you and your recovery.. each of you having had much on your hearts, may He wrap his arms about you, and let you feel the eternal comfort of a Father in Heaven.