Tuesday, June 20, 2017


I have recently been working on a major photo project - sifting through all our digital files and trying to put the best photos in albums.  I used to be much better about this - before you could take pictures on phones and every other device.  Now they just collect virtual dust.  Anyway, I made a great effort to catch up and printed up 5 years worth of pictures.

Although I took great care to order them chronologically, when I got them back from Aspen Photo (which I will probably not use again), they were completely scattered and disorganized.  So now what was already a big project turned into an even bigger headache.  The point of this story is that the hardest part of organizing the pictures was all the photos of Edisto Beach.  We have been going every year now for the past 5 years (at least), and it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish between the trips!

What I love about this is that our trip to Edisto is turning into a tradition, and the house and space and beach and activities are being woven into the fabric of our lives and our kids' memories of growing up.  So now we can all begin to expect that Hubry will most likely find the first sharks' tooth, and that he will probably find multiple ones throughout the week (while others of us continue to search in vain).

We did make a few new traditions this year.  On the way in we stopped for coffee and donuts at the Geechie Boy Mill.  The donuts were so amazing, and we even got a quick tour of the building and an explanation of how the mill works - which the kids loved.  We ended up buying our animal watchers some corn mill, which turned out to be the perfect gift.  The only sad part of this tradition is that when we stopped back by on our way out of town they were already sold out of doughnuts (which the man said never happens).

Another new tradition was the addition of the Hoovers' youth kayaks.  This was awesome, and Ellen and I even got to take some turns paddling out in the waves.  Before we learned that it was illegal, the kids enjoyed "chasing" the dolphins, who seemed to enjoy being chased.

We also took a hike at Edisto State park where we saw some Summer Tanagers, Phoebes, red-bellied woodpeckers, blue-grey gnatcatchers, and multiple other shorebirds.  We were excited to learn this year about a new shorebird that passes through Edisto in May, and we were able to observe this Ruddy Turnstone engaging in different activities.

Cuatro enjoyed his first trip to the beach, though we couldn't convince him that the sand was not for eating.  I should be thankful, because he really is not a picky eater, but it makes keeping an eye on him a full-time job, as everything goes into the mouth!

We are so thankful for family we call friends, and for cousins who love each other like brothers and sisters.  I look forward to having more family joining us in the future on this wonderful tradition!!  And, I barely took my camera out the entire time, so I only have a spattering of photos.


My baby is double-digits!!  How did this happen?  Yesterday we were patty-caking around the field in Athens, GA, and all-of-a-sudden you are big and strong and 5 feet tall!!!  Your foot is officially bigger than mine, you are officially faster than me, and I have no doubt that you will be taller than me within a year or two.

You are such a unique girl - full of adventure and constantly brimming with new ideas.  Somedays I still feel like I'm chasing you around trying to protect you from danger :)  But these days you are so much more capable of pushing back, and so I am trying to step out of the way more and more, and pray that the Spirit would be guiding you.

This week you are at camp, and it's the first time you've been away to an overnight camp.  This is a big stretch (at least for your Papa and me) because we have no idea what you are up to!!  More and more I am having to lean into prayer and trust that you are God's child and that He has you in the palm of His hand.

It is hard to be the oldest and be the first to experience every new thing.  The others miss you greatly this week and have been walking around bored half the time :)

You love to canoe and kayak and fish and climb and run and create and make.  You love to read and tear through books so quickly it's hard for me to keep up with your appetite. You continue to "write" intricate and creative stories with all your drawings, and I can't wait to see some of the stories written down some day.

You love chickens and kittens and horses, and we are looking for ways to put you in more and more contact with animals so you can learn to care for them.  You say you want to be a vet when you grow up, and you love reading the James Herriot stories (though I'm afraid being a vet today is not nearly as exciting).

You have started a succulent business.  We have had fun looking at yard sales and thrift stores for pretty teacups, and then you "glean" broken pieces of succulents of the floor of Home Depot, or find them in the woods, or root them from plants you already have growing.  You've already sold at least 5 plants, which has been fun to watch.  Soon you hope to have a vegetable and plant stand on a Saturday morning and sell eggs, squash, blueberries, and succulents.  We will see how it goes!

Next year you will be in 5th grade - one of the oldest kids at Masters' Academy.  I was thinking about how much you have grown in confidence and peace.  Four years ago when you started the program, you were only 6 years old.  I was afraid you would hide under the tables when you got nervous, or run away if the situation felt overwhelming.  Now you are taking piano lessons, a huge help to me in art class, and one of the leaders.

I continually pray that God would use your energy and creativity and sensitivity for His glory.  May you grow in wonder and awe and thankfulness day by day.  I love you, my little Songbird!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cuatro is busy

Cuatro is nine and a half months old now, and he is busy. So busy, in fact, that we can't seem to find time to write about him unless it is 4:30 am like it is right now and he is asleep. So here is a list:

- he loves to wrestle. Sit on the floor -- or better, lie down -- and he is after you in a moment, climbing on top of you, growling, whacking your face, grabbing your glasses

- he has taken his first few steps! He does it intentionally but also kind of thoughtlessly, as if he's really too busy to focus on it. "It'll come eventually..." He's been cruising around the couches and chairs, and now every so often he'll just let go and start walking.

- he falls down a lot. We are glad that we have carpet, though we've often discussed putting in hardwood, because his head would be bruised and there would be a great many more tears. As it is, 90% of the time he falls he just rolls over and starts moving agin.

- he has discovered some favorite things in the house: the pots and pans cupboard (so loud!), the dishwasher (an endless supply of metal objects to stick in his mouth and throw around!), the bathtub (he's learned to lean over, grab on to the cold water knob, and climb up on the edge of the bathtub. Our bathtub, however, is not carpeted. So this makes us a bit nervous.

- he loves to eat! he might be our most adventurous eater yet. Only a handful of times has something caused him to pucker up and spit it out. He especially loves sandwich crusts and fig newtons and dairy-free smoothies.

- favorite words: "Mama," "Pba Bpa", and "Ah duh"

At the Pumpkin Patch on Signal Mountain

GranJan and PapaRJ's backyard

Hanging with the boys


I'll help with this, Mom!

I wanna run!

Saturday, June 10, 2017


You are 8!  You are strong and brave and extremely hard-working.  You love to take note of the garden and flowers and let us know what is blooming or what is ready to pick.  You love climbing - rocks, swing-sets, trees, doors - anything and everything.  You run fast and steady.  You love playing soccer.

You are sensitive and gentle and understanding - unless a rule is being broken, or someone is not doing something the "right way."  In those moments justice swells up in you and passion overflows.  I pray this will be used in great ways to honor God.  That you will notice the weak or the broken and fight for justice.

You are still our most cuddly kid - looking for opportunities to sit in a lap.  In the mornings when Papa gets out the Bible to read, you jump out of your chair and find his lap as fast as possible.

You love understanding how things work.  Sometimes you'll surprise me with questions hours after the fact, and I'll realize you've just been thinking it over all morning.

Your new favorite book is The Green Ember.  You never want it to stop, and now we are listening to it over again so Papa can catch up.  You named the knitted rabbit that Melanie made for Liam "Picket" after the main character.  It has been agony for you to have to wait to hear the sequel.  This pushes The Children of the New Forest down to second place.

You like to help Papa cook the breakfast in the morning, and you rarely complain when asked to help out or do a chore.  You are a hard-worker.

We love you so much, and are so thankful to call you son!  Happy Birthday.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Songbird has been asking to go horseback riding for her birthday for 3 years now.  We have had a few different leads, but nothing has ever panned out.  Finally, while talking to my aunt and uncle over Christmas, I discovered that they are part owners of a wonderful horse ranch in Dahlonega, GA.  When my uncle heard that Songbird was longing for a horseback ride, he invited us to come and join them for a weekend.  Last weekend, the first weekend of April, her dreams were realized.

At first we thought that only the older two would be able to ride in the corral and have a lesson, but then it turned out that all three of them were allowed to ride.  They spent an hour and a half in the corral, and by the end of the time they were all riding and steering their own horses.  It was so fun to see them be so brave and independent.  I remember loving the feeling of being high up on a horse as a little girl.

After the corral ride, Songbird and I, along with about 10 other people, went on a trail ride together.  Songbird was 2nd in line with her horse Clinger, right behind one of the guides, and because my horse, Scarlet, had personal space issues, I was at the end of the procession, just in front of the other guide.  All that to say, I almost never saw Songbird because we were separated by so many people, but I knew I was having a wonderful time taking in the landscape and enjoying the most beautiful day of the year, (and I assumed she was as well).

After the horse ride, the kids decided to take a swim in the enormous saltwater pool.  It was absolutely freezing, but they had fun jumping in for a few minutes and then drying off in the sun.  Hubry and I had a nice chat by the pool while Cuatro slept peacefully in his carseat (maybe because he was up so much in the night!!!).

We are so thankful to my aunt and uncle for inviting us and for their generosity in making Songbird's birthday wish come true.  It's hard to believe she'll be double digits in one short month!!!  The weather was amazing, and the landscape was that crisp, bright green of early Spring.  It was cold in the night and morning, but warmed up beautifully during the day.  We got to roast marshmallows and have campfires and watch the children enjoy God's beautiful creation.  We are so thankful...

Raindrop's horse was named Frodo. He was the tallest, yet gentlest, horse of all.

The beautiful view from the top of the hill.

If Songbird's cold, you know it must be cold!!!

Songbird and my uncle as we left for the trail.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First Day of Spring

Last week was cold - so cold we had fires burning upstairs and down all week long.  We even moved the couch to the middle of the room so that we could snuggle up close to the radiant heat.  Yesterday was the first official day of Spring.  And today it was so hot I had to turn the AC on in the car.   Talk about a drastic change in weather!  Aside from the time change making us all tipsy tour you, we are ready for Spring.

A few weeks ago the three oldest started playing soccer.  It is every Thursday for 2 hours and they all play at the same time (on different fields).  Kilometer Kids also started, which means Thursdays are crazy full of athletic endeavors.  I've been cooking a roast in the crock pot on these days because the kids have used up so much energy and need a quick, calorie-rich meal when we get home.  On a side note - Bro ran his pace-night mile in 7.36, and Songbird was right behin him with 7.39.  They are both  significantly faster than me now!  Thankfully they still enjoy going on runs with me when I ask.

We just finished reading the book Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John.  I had the copy my mother used to read to me when I was a little girl, and It was fun to finally introduce it to the kids.   It's such a beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness. One scene from the book particularly stuck with my youngest girl.  She is fiercely imaginative and desperately wants to believe that fairies, the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, and any other imaginative figure is truly real. She hasn't lost a tooth yet, but she put something under her pillow one night "just in case the tooth fairy was going to come to visit."  Well in the story the children leave their shoes outside overnight, and in the morning a new snow-white kitten is keeping warm inside Dani's shoe.  Raindrop decided she would leave her shoes outside and see if anything came to them in the night.  After nothing happened the first night, she did it again another night.  This time Hubry left a chocolate egg and a toy soldier inside the shoe for her. You can imagine her sheer joy.  The past few nights she's been leaving out her box with a cozy blanket inside.  This time she is waiting for a snow-white kitten.  At night she asks me if I think a kitten will be in her box in the morning.  I say, "no, I really don't."  But she brings the box out anyway...

6 Months

Sweet Cuatro,

You are 6 months old now, and you are blowing energy and excitement into our lives daily.  Around 5 months and 2 weeks you started crawling.  One day you got up on all fours and started rocking back and forth.  The next day you walked your hands forward a step or two, and the next day you could slowly make your way across a small room.  After about a week of practicing this new skill, you moved on to sitting up.  You literally became obsessed with sitting up.  You would try sitting up from the side-lying position. then sitting up from the other side, then sitting up from your back, then sitting up form a crawl.

Then, to top off all these new skills, the week before you turned 6 months, you woke up from a nap, and when I came to get you you were standing up!!!  Your little legs were shaking, you were clutching on to the top rail of the crib with all your might, and you had a very nervous look on your face.  It was as if you were both utterly excited and totally terrified all at the same time.  We immediately lowered your crib (after saying a prayer of thankfulness that you had not flipped yourself over the edge).

Now life is honed in on finding a suitable surface to pull yourself up on, and then 70% of the time falling over.  This stage is full of bumps and bruises and frustrations.  But it is also full of little victories.  With each new accomplishment, your toothless grin can be seen stretching broadly across your face.

Most recently you have started practicing making new noises.  One of your favorites is saying, "A-da, A-da, A-da, da, da."  We joke that your first word is sister's name.  You also love making deep vocalizations and grunts that sound like a lion or bear.  They sound very manly and warrior-ish, whatever you are trying to communicate.

You have also started joining us at the table and eating food.  Your first taste was sweet potato - which you loved.  Then we moved on to peas, which you are not as sure about.  Next we tried applesauce, and then mango puree.  So far you are a very eager eater - grabbing at everything and sitting impatiently at table until we get the food in your mouth!!
Matchy matchy with Mama

Practicing push-ups with Sister

Practicing music with Papa

Worn out after a day of exertion!