Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Notes

 Some random pictures and stories from the past month(ish), in no very good chronological order... haha!


All these huge boxes in the house, and he wants to play in the tiny one that we had before we moved ;). Haha! Our Gramma lent us some air mattresses when we had our friends over in May. Oh, these were hilarious to use... haha. We literally had a "bed"room, with two of them in the library, there was no additional floor space! To get anywhere- to the piano, a bookshelf, your spot on the bed- you had to walk across them, and anybody who was sitting on it would end up flying in the air... it was entertaining! The day this picture was taken, though, Daddy was making sure they were packaged neatly before we sent them back with my Gramma for my aunt and her family to use when they visited her. The morning she picked it up:
Daddy: *takes a bite of bacon*
*phone rings*
Tori: "I bet that's Gramma. She always calls when you eat bacon."
Me: "I think she smells it somehow. It's weird how often it does happen."
Daddy: "Hello..... What am I doing? Listening to your grandchildren laugh at you because they say you always call when we have bacon...."
Gramma a couple hours later: *walks into the house* "Where's my bacon?!" Lol :).


We went to my Gramma's on the third to celebrate the 4th of July. My Aunt and her family were there, which was fun. We were very excited to meet our new cousins, and they got to meet Noah :)! We also celebrated the next day with our customary ice cream, sparklers and pop-its. And enjoyed the fireworks that the people across the street were putting off. They had a beautiful display, and the finale was AWESOME. And we got to enjoy it free. Hahaha...


"Oh, that's pretty! Where was it taken?!"
"....Ummmm.... our back yard..."
"So many new surprises when you move..."


"We have a neighbor I can't wait for you to meet," I told a friend.
"Oh really? A close neighbor?"
"Oh yeah. Super close. His name is Buckingham Roosevelt."
"What?!!!!! Is this an animal?!!!!"
"Only a four foot long black snake."
"We also have bunnies."
"....That... that actually surprises me... with the snake..."
Haha :). Name credit of Buckingham goes to Tori... much to Mama's chagrin. "Once you name it, you start getting attached to it- noooooo, it's not a pet!!!!", haha!


Tori posted this picture on her facebook the other day with the caption, "You have to guess which is which." After I correctly guessed (it was a hard decision for a couple seconds, but they are my brothers after all ;) ), she confided in me, "I tried to pick the hardest ones I could find. I found one where Peter has Noah's worried face, and one where Noah is smiling like Peter usually is". Do you know how weird it is to have what looks like the same person at two different ages living in the house at the same time?!



We got to go blueberry picking a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun! Tori and I always race each other while picking, and it's getting harder and harder to beat her. I'm winning by less and less of a percentage of my pail... haha! Josiah did really good at first- he knew ripe from green, and was a steady worker... until Daddy let him eat a berry. Goodbye help. Haha! Southern Blues blueberries ARE the best berries I've ever tasted. They even beat the ones we picked in VA, so I don't know what the difference is! Mama thinks they are grown with love, haha :). 

Peter was hilarious. Abbi took off her headband and he threw it... it landed in a tree somewhere, and we never did find it. A little while later he calls out, "Mommy? Where is my pail?"
"You lost that too?!!!!!"
"....Oh. It's in my hand..."
He thought that was the most hilarious thing ever!


He just turned 4 months, and he's adorable. I mean, look at that hair. Who couldn't love that?!!?!?! Case closed.
He's over 12 lbs now, and he's starting to get that sturdy, solid feel that makes babies so very squishable :). He is really starting to build up his motor skills. He reaches for everything -he loves the printer buttons :).


This is how Josiah looks at him all the time. I love it. Like, I love Noah. And I love Josiah. But watching Josiah love Noah.... LOVE. Josiah got hurt the other day and gracefully sank onto the floor crying (believe it or not, he is NOT the most dramatic member of the family). I came with Noah to make sure he was okay, and he told me what had happened, then asked, "Can I hold Noah?" Cue instant smiles. I had to tell Tori that he'd ever been crying when she walked by fifteen seconds later.


Tori: "Earlier I heard Peter singing, "Life is great.... but everyday is diffy-cult..."


A sour cream beard. What could be better? (And for those of you who may wonder how anybody could get that messy eating; this was totally on purpose. Lol!)


This has been a running thing for Tori and Josiah since we moved. "Where's your scary face?!" *eyes get wider and wider and wider and wider until she acknowledges it's scary*


Recreating a picture from a couple years ago. Aren't they cool?


 Absolutely nothing says comfort to me as much as making and eating robust homemade food. Baking is like writing for me. If it's something I have no choice but to do, it can stress me out (hello late promised blog posts), but it's the first thing I want to do when I want to do something just "for fun". And all little people like to make banana bread...


We celebrated my Grandparents' birthday a little early a couple weeks ago at my Aunt's house. Seriously, y'all, being close to family is an awesome blessing! Tori and I ran into Dollar General before we got there... and then ran into a grocery store afterwards.  While I can't tell you all that happened at Dollar Tree (oh my, it was too much!), I will say that to explain how it went, I was trying so hard to act natural admitting that I didn't know where the lighters were, that I couldn't find the lighters I was standing in front of for three minutes. Yeah.
So we go into the grocery store for a snack for the little ones, a snack for the older ones, and coffee drinks. Mind you, this was AFTER our experience that afternoon. I wasn't feeling optimistic.
The door wouldn't open.
So I checked the time. And they were still open.
Tori pointed to a guy leaving, and she said, "If people are coming out, there has to be a way in."
"Well then, we're using that door," I answered, heading further down. This one opened, and I hoped that was the only mishap.
I was wise this time. Instead of looking for one item on my list at a time, I just decided to start at one end and just pick stuff up if I found it. Lol. This worked for the snacks. Not so much for the coffee. I looked in every drink fridge, front and back. Some several times. Tori pointed to a sign.
"Bri, they have a Starbucks here. Why would they sell bottled coffee?" Well. Good point. I called Mama to ask her what she wanted me to do, and she told me to check the cold section rather than the front. There were none there, but while trying to tell her that, I saw some cartons, and we decided to get those. I headed back to the front telling Mama how things were going, and she asked if we could get water. I headed back to the back, got the water, and hung up. And then Tori says, "There's the coffee."
Grrrrrrrr. Well, it was warm, so we wouldn't have wanted it anyway. But Tori's comment to that was, "With as long as we've been in this store, we could have put them in the freezer while we shopped and they would have been fine."
"Very funny. Why can't I ever need to 'run into" a store I know where stuff is?", I moaned. Then I thought a moment and added, "Ya' know... like.... Hobby Lobby. I just realized that's the only store I really know well enough for that." Lol!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I'm Her Favorite Nephew...

We started noticing that a lot of our stuff seemed to be missing, and so Bethani and I went out to the garage one morning to see what was out there. We had been told that nothing else would fit in the house and leave us room to walk, so things had been left in the garage. We were also finding out that a lot of boxes had the strangest labels for what they held. We were finding laundry room items in the bedroom boxes, and other strange things. The most questionable was when I noticed that our kitchen corner baskets seemed to be missing. I couldn't find them, but knew they couldn't be in a box of their own, so I was worried how much else we might be needing space for in the kitchen that was rapidly filling up. While in the garage I found a box labelled "library baskets". I almost threw it to the side, because we didn't need them in the house, but I decided to open it just because I knew that the baskets wouldn't take as much space as the box, and we badly needed space, haha. I also figured, a box with two baskets in it wouldn't take long to unload. I opened it, and there, in the library box, that was in the garage, I found the kitchen baskets. Like, ?!?!?!?!?! How they ended up there (they had to have carried them upstairs for some strange reason and just thrown them in any available box when they realized they still had them?) we still aren't sure! I was hoping to find my stationary/cards and whatnot that day... five days in the new house and I had already thought of mailing three cards. As this box of cards was not found until this week (Daddy found it in the "printer" box!), I've discovered I'm bit obsessed with mailing letters.

While I was in the garage, Andrew and Tori were putting Mama's secretary back to rights. Tori found Mama's cards, and apparently discovered a card for a nephew (Mama has no idea where this thing came from, haha!). Later that afternoon, I sat down to read my bible, and tucked into the pages I was reading was a card with mama's handwriting. I thought that was unusual, but also really sweet, so I opened it right away.

Hard to see, but, "You're my favorite Nephew."


"And the 'mane' purpose of this card is to wish you a mighty fine birthday."


Notice no name.

And it isn't my birthday.

I knew this had to be the doing of Tori, especially when she came in and asked me about it with a grin, but she insisted Andrew had something to do with it. I'm still not quite sure how it went, but I do know that they both had a hand in it, lol. And they got Mama to write on it, to hide their trail (badly ;).) Tori tried to convince me that she foraged Mama's handwriting, and I started reminding her of all the reasons this was impossible... and somehow she took this as a reminder to myself, and she's still convinced that she made me believe her (and she has admitted she didn't). Lol! So, I've become her favorite nephew, which she reminds me of often, lol!

This little prank was payed back, though, when she realized I'd found more games in the garage, hahaha! She had unpacked the game/movie closet, and she was sure three boxes before the end that she couldn't get any more to fit (she did, nicely, though). Someone offered to finish it for her near the end, and she was like, "I have come too far to not finish it now! Everybody better be careful of this closet when I'm done. I've spent so much time with it, it's going to be like my baby", haha :). So when I brought in more movies, she got to work putting them away, and I hear "We have too many books! I MEAN GAMES. I MEAN MOVIES!!!! TOO MUCH EVERYTHING!!!", haha :). I thought it was funny since the movies were the only thing that Peter was sorry that anybody had to spent the time packing up ;).

Since our move in, we've been learning how to use the stove (come to find out the large burners also have a smaller burner size within them, and you have to make sure you've turned the knob to the right side, or eggs won't cook), cleaning and unpacking more and more boxes, helping Josiah put a Yoda (or, as he named him, "Soda") figurine's head back on (so. many. times. I was about ready to just glue it on by the time his own toys were unpacked and he gave it back to Tori), and wading through lots of packing paper, haha. The little ones spent a whole evening jumping in paper and building box houses... they turned the boxes upside down and crawled under them. But not until they had, as Emmi said "Made air holes". As she stabbed the poor box with a pen. Only Emmi would think of something like that at her age, haha ;).

Friday, July 29, 2016

150 Boxes of Books

While we may not have had that many books, I've mentally been calling them that after the mover's observation as the truck was being loaded up, haha :). As soon as we got the kitchen mostly unpacked (it was the most needed room of the house), we started unpacking books (they were the most numerous amount of space-taking, easily emptied boxes). Mama and I had to move the shelves before anything could go on them, and as Tori walked by, we heard "Deja vu", hahahaha :). (New readers may need to read this blog post to get why this comment threw us all into laughter ;). Thankfully there were no books on the shelves this time ;).)

The first box that I pulled pulled books out of had a book titled "After the Boxes are Unpacked". Kind of jumping ahead of things, but I thought it was funny :). What was even funnier was that the very LAST box I unpacked happened to hold a book titled "At Home in South Carolina", haha :). The first chance I got after the books were unloaded (which happened to be while snuggling a sleeping Noah, which made it even better!), I settled down with Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully at Home". It's always an encouraging read! It was fun reading it this time, though, because she had her baby that week, and it was fun to see all the dreams she had that she was surrendering to the Lord... and now he's fulfilled those dreams in ways she couldn't see then :). Josiah lost no time in settling down to enjoy his own unearthed treasures, either. I found him playing with his beloved box of cars before I even knew that Andrew was unloading the toy boxes in his room, haha :).

Those first few days were interesting... Daddy was shopping for one day at a time, we were constantly moving boxes just to find boxes that we could actually unpack, and the days were so short, lol! At one point I decided that I NEEDED some solid food, so I decided to make myself a microwave egg. After I cracked it, I discovered the salt wasn't unpacked, or easily found, so I had a rather bland egg, lol. And I discovered I'm pretty needy when it comes to my afternoon snack.. I often eat popcorn (Mama has told me I'm addicted several times, lol...), but didn't have time to make it during that first week, and we didn't have any of the other "normal" treats (or ordinary nap times for the little ones to sneak them during... lol). At one point, I scrounged through the kitchen, and ended up walking out with a spoon of whipped cream and chocolate chips, and announced to the world, "We have none of the staples of life." Mama asked what staples were, and I informed her, "Steak or ice cream." Which even I find odd, because I rarely eat, and never crave, steak. Daddy came home bearing ice cream, which truly proves how much our parents take care of our needs AND our un-needed needs ;). I had Tori very disturbed a couple nights ago, though, because I was just laying there, thinking of ice cream (coffee, ice cream, popcorn, robust homemade meals (think: lasagna), and chocolate anything-but-bacon, those are my five food groups, not necessarily in any order ;)), and I just started laughing. When she asked what was going on, I told her, "I was just thinking of that first week here. WHAT made me eat cool whip with chocolate chips?!" It seemed so needed at the time... now, with our full pantry and fridge, it seems like the most unlikely thing for me to do, and I'm kind of surprised at myself that that even crossed my mind to substitute for ice cream, hahaha! Tori just kind of shook her head at me and went back to her book, haha! She's rather used to me by now ;).

A Surprising Detective

We went to Ihop for breakfast the next morning and did some shopping before we went to the house to get some cleaning done. Andrew threatened to get chicken nuggets for breakfast, but decided to get a stack of large pancakes. Mama has been reading the "Little House" books during our nightly read aloud, and we just finished "The Long Winter". When everyone gasped at Royal Wilder eating 21 pancakes, Mama told them that they were probably "about this size", as she showed with her fingers. "Probably about three times the size of the ones Andrew ate at Ihop". When you thought about it that way, nobody seemed to think it was that much anymore, haha. But, while Andrew did enjoy his pancakes, I actually heard him lamenting his choice later... "The only place I didn't get chicken nuggets was at Ihop..." he told me. Lol! Daddy set the washer up before we left for supper, although someone was supposed to come the next day to do it. It was nice to get the clothes going then, especially since the guys who were coming the next day to level it broke down and we ended up being an additional stop for someone else after his own shift!

We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for supper. It's nice to be back home and just KNOW that those familiar, memory filled, homelike places are around, even when we're not there, haha. It was nice just to be sitting there, snuggling Noah and eating our favorite cheese sauce, laughing about chicken nuggets (which we hadn't even realized until this trip could be found on a Mexican menu) and just enjoying sharing our thoughts. Just walking across that parking lot was cozy feeling... haha.

The next day we worked on unpacking the kitchen, and Mama and Daddy went out to grab some items we needed. They brought supper back, and Josiah was disturbed by the toy in his kid's meal. He pulled it out, and I saw him look around like, "Is this normal?". Then the other little ones opened up theirs and got so excited, and I could see his face kind of go, "I guess I should be excited too?" And he started showing it to everybody and get excited, haha :). He and Peter got matching toys, and that was how we first discovered that Peter has a detective side to him.

Peter has always been one of those poetic, head-in-the-clouds people. When Tori asked Andrew why he had something in his box the other day, Andrew told her he hadn't put it there, and Peter piped up, "Maybe he was just looking up at the sky... thinking... and just picked it up and dropped it there without seeing...". And that pretty much sums up the way he goes through life. He's typically tender and comes up with the sweetest ideas or thoughts, but Josiah does notice more than he does usually.

So we were amazed to see how he handled the situation the next morning when he decided that he wanted his toy back that he had given to Josiah. Mama told him that he needed to get Josiah's first before he took his from him. Everybody pitched in to look for it, and Abbi found it and brought it to Mama. Mama called Peter and gave that one to him. Mind you, they are identical.

"I want mine," Peter told Mama.

We were kind of taken aback, and asked him, "How do you know that's not yours?!"

"I want mine, that's warm from Josiah's hand." *switches with Josiah* "See? It's warm because he has been holding it for a really long time."

Who would have thunk?!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A New Home

The fourth of June was an exciting day for all of us. Not only were we moving in, everything had happened so quickly that we children hadn't even seen the inside of the house yet! It's still amazing to me how the Lord worked it out, and certainly showed his hand in the whole thing! Also, we've already been blessed by our landlord. He had to fix the sink disposal a couple weeks after we moved in, and when he got here he spent the whole time he was fixing it talking to Daddy and asking about our family. He told Daddy that he's been a christian for several years now, and always wanted more children. When he was done with the sink, he told Daddy he'd be right back, and then went to the store and got us some fresh fruit- and a lot of it. It was so sweet!

As soon as we got here- our new home!- Mama lead everyone on a tour before the house got too full and we'd be in the way of the guys unloading the truck. It was nice to finally see all the spots that Mama had been talking about for the past month, haha :). Then we headed out to pick up some groceries (and get Josiah and Abbi out of the hallways, haha!). When we got back, Mama started cleaning the kitchen, and I took the two little boys into the pantry to "clean the walls" - a.k.a., once again, to get them out of the path of moving furniture, haha! They were too cute "cleaning" the wall with a couple of baby wipes. Peter spelled his name with the damp cloth of the wall, and he and Josiah vied with each other over my attention and who could jump and hit the wall the highest, haha :). They might not have helped too much, but it was certainly more entertaining than it would have been otherwise! Especially since that pantry was a mess! I think the last child who lived in the house must have thought he was a monkey, because there were what looked like crayon marks COVERING the wall, all the way up to the ceiling!

Everything was unloaded in double quick time, and then the house was really ours. Ours to unpack, as well ;). Haha! We were just settling down and deciding to think about supper when the doorbell rang.

We had no idea who it could be, and Daddy went and answered it. In walked Aunt Amber and Aunt Tessa, with a cake and a decorative wreath that Aunt Amber had made, and a "Welcome home!". We had no idea they were coming, it was such a pleasant surprise :)! We gave them a tour of the house and the yard (which is really nice!!!), and then they went out for supper with us. It was so awesome to have family just "drop in". That's kind of hard to do six hours away, but we've already seen various members of our extended family several times in the five weeks we've been here, which is just a joy to my heart. I've missed this closeness so much while we've been in Virginia! They hadn't even decided that they were going to come over until that morning, but I'm so glad that they did, because it just made it feel official that we were home :).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On the Road Again

About a year ago, my best friend and her sister came for a visit, and we took them to Jamestown. Before we went, Mama read aloud from "The Light and the Glory" some of the experiences those first settlers had. And, after telling of some of the hardships that they experienced, it shared how things got slightly better... and then continued, "BUT, Virginia was still Virginia." I'm not kidding, Mama had to have laughed at that for three minutes solid. Who am I kidding, she still laughs at that. Just not continuously. Haha :). While VA is beautiful, the weather is nicer than here, and the friends we made were a blessing, things usually didn't go well whenever we tried to do anything VA-specific. For instance; both times we went to Jamestown, our car broken down (thankfully easily fixed-but still, it did), and you can never seem to get where you want to go from where you are. Mama's favorite story, though, I think, is how, when those friends came down again with their family a couple months ago... both welcome centers were closed. Lol.

So, our last day in VA, Mama had planned to pick up some Chick-fil-a and have a picnic, and then visit Hollywood cemetery. We were supposed to have plenty of time, but everything took longer than expected. We had to pick something up from CVS; but every one we found, of course, you couldn't get to from our route. Daddy finally found one, and we headed on to find a ckick-fil-a. The nearest one was past Bryant park, and it was so late, Mama decided that we should probably just eat in the car on the way to the cemetery. And then the GPS said "Arrived". And we couldn't find a Chick-fil-a.

And at that, Mama sighed, laughed, and announced, "It's true to the very end. Virginia... is still Virginia!!!" We did eventually find Chick-fil-a (a teeny tiny one). And we did have a good lunch. And we did get to the cemetery. So it wasn't a complete disaster, lol!

Tori wanted to know why it was called Hollywood cemetery, and nobody could quite answer. Mama read the pamphlet Daddy had picked up, and was relieved to find out that it was because there had been a lot of holly wood trees when it was opened. "That makes it so much sweeter," she said.

We walked for the first little bit, as Mama figured everyone would be sitting enough later on. But, lets just say that the little boys are not big on the whole idea of "walking". And are heavy. And Josiah had been cranky for about two months at this point (the boy needs his naps, and I think too many changes happened a once! I'm so glad that he seems to have become himself again over the past month!). And then, I shifted Josiah's position while I was carrying him. And it made him so upset! So I put him down, and told him he could walk until he would let me carry him nicely again. But he wouldn't walk, and so Daddy took him, and told him as soon as he walked he would pick him up. And I have not seen anything like Josiah's "pleas for mercy" before, haha! Where a two year old gets the idea to kneel down, clasp his hands, and wail for what he wants, I'm not sure, but get it and execute it he did, and it was priceless, haha. But he finally saw it wasn't working, and just got up. When he's done with something, he's done, there never has been any unwinding for him, haha! Daddy went back for the car, and I tried to figure out the map to meet him (which was pretty humorous in itself for a while), and we just drove the rest of the way, haha.

After we left, everybody was tired and hot, and we stopped to pick up some milkshakes and coffee, and Daddy made reservations for our hotel. This was easier said then done, because it seemed that all of the hotels were booked, and his ipad was running low on battery. The drive was actually really nice down. We listened to our customary cd which we were able to find in between the house hunting trip and when everything was packed up ("Bob and Larry's "On the Road Again") and ate our traditional Twizzlers, and spent like an hour looking for our usual road-trip Arby's ("per Andrew's request"- he's as big a tradition lover as Mama and I!). Daddy finally decided that if he didn't pull over and get something now, everything would be closed before we found one, so he decided we'd just have to grab something else. And the next exit just happened to have an Arby's, haha :).

We finally got to SC, and Daddy pulled into a hotel parking lot. It wasn't ours, but nobody could remember where he had found rooms at, so he took his ipad in and plugged it in long enough to turn it on and find out where we were headed. We got into our room, and it was actually really nice! It had a kitchenette, and a full fridge, which was nice with all the food we had had to bring ourselves! Josiah was so funny, he LOVED the picture of tomatoes on the wall above the kitchen sink- "Bisketti!!!" (spaghetti) he pointed out to everyone :).

On The Move

I promised that after I shared some of the details of our house hunting trip, I'd give you some stories of our move. And so, here I am!

As I mentioned on the day, our movers came to pack us up on Emmi's birthday, the first of June. We were so thankful that we didn't have to do it all ourselves, and I have to say it's pretty amazing how much they get done in just a few days!!! They were out of the house by about 4 in the afternoon, confident that they would finish the next day, and then Mama and Daddy headed out to go pick up supper and dessert, and a little surprise for Emmi, who had been told that we would celebrate her birthday after we got settled (we celebrated it last week, and I'm thinking she got a pretty good deal out of this whole "can I share a birthday with Elise, now it's really my birthday, now we're having our real family party" thing, haha! The little stinker even convinced us to decorate for her a second time, haha!). While they were gone I took some pictures for a photo challenge I had signed up for... which, by the way, I did (fail) pretty well to keep up with. Lol. I blame it on the move (we were without internet for a while, so of course I couldn't upload them!)... but I'm pretty sure it would have happened anyway. Lol! I've thought of doing these things before, and never have because I knew I would get behind and just get discouraged, but since some girls I knew were heading this one, I thought, why not? And then I didn't really do the whole daily picture thing. But, I did TAKE the pictures... eventually... so maybe that counts? Haha :).

After dinner Mama brought out the pie that she had picked up at the store, and place a candle in it. And Daddy grabbed the lighter and went to light it.

Now, the lighter was almost empty, but Mama hadn't wanted to buy a new one since it wasn't allowed to be packed on the truck. So she had decided that we'd just use it one last time and then throw it out.

But when Daddy went to light it, there was a little problem... it wouldn't light. It had less fluid left in it then we had thought! Daddy came up with the brilliant idea to use our gas fireplace to light it. Andrew brought him a stick, and he lit it in the flame (eventually- it took a while), and then lit the candle, haha :). It worked well, and Emmi's mini party was saved ;). She also got an Anna doll to replace one of the ones she lost last year. Where those things went, we can not tell! And where we can find the baby one she had, we also have no idea. It's the strangest thing!

The next day was clear, bright, and hot. I felt bad for the guys loading the truck! One of them asked Daddy, "You must read a lot. How many books do you have?! There must be a hundred and fifty of these boxes!" Lol! It wasn't THAT many... but we do have a lot of books, especially when you consider that any box that HAD books in it was labelled books, even if it had more, say, blankets! Daddy explained that we homeschool, and, yes, do like to read. Later, the driver apparently told Daddy that he knew we were going to have a lot of books- "All the LifeWay managers do," he explained, haha :)! They were really nice, though, they got it all done in record time, and they were really kind to all the little ones, even though they were constantly standing in the way, haha. They especially seemed to like Josiah, all of them; and, while it might have just been his age, Tori took notice of this, because, as she told me, "It's almost like they except him as one of his own." Ever since he could walk, he's been moving furniture around the house, and we've always said we won't be surprised if he becomes a mover when he grows up, so she took this as comical confirmation ;). He was very disturbed when they took the table legs off... it was the only thing that bothered him, but boy did he get into that, haha! It reminded me of when Bethi was terrified when, during our last move, the handles were taken off our fridge. Mama mentioned that it was just as much like Emmi, who, during our move to VA, didn't worry about any of her toys or anything, but "Who took our WASHER?!"

Once they were almost done, we started cleaning... windows, counters, everything. One of Daddy's friends stopped in to say goodbye, and the truck was closed up and headed to SC. Then we headed out for supper and back to the house to finish cleaning it. It was a pretty intense night. Most of us didn't go to bed until 4 a.m., and all of the little ones were obviously getting sick. After I had cleaned the bathrooms, Mama gave me Noah, and I went and sat on the living room floor with him. One by one, all the little ones, Bethi to Noah, fell asleep, flung against the wall, on the floor, across the fireplace. It was pathetic, lol. They would wake up eventually, cold and sore, and most came to me crying and fell back asleep... and eventually I had the five youngest all laying on my lap or shoulder in some way or other. It was kind of humorous, but I felt so bad for them because I knew that if I was uncomfortable not sick, they had to be miserable. I could hear Mama and Tori in the kitchen cleaning the fridge while I sat under all those little people, and it took them a while... but Mama was so proud of it when she was done. I have to admit, I've never seen a even slightly used fridge that looked so brand new clean! Daddy somehow managed to fit all of our cleaning supplies, suitcases, food, and random items that hadn't been packed, into the car, and we went to go get a few hours of sleep.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Flower Tale

Years ago I compiled some pages of poetry and stories that centered around flowers, and then Tori and I each wrote something to include in it. I don't know where those pages have gone (probably in the trash... despite how bad my writings were back then, I often wish I hadn't thrown so many away now, because I know I'd get a laugh from reading them now!), but I posted our ten- and six-year-old writings on my blog at that time:

"Roses" by Bri
Roses are pretty things;
Some white, Some pink,
Maybe some blue. They smell so good
And look so good too!
I love roses. Don't you?

"My Little Flower" by Tori
I picked a little yellow flower
Just yesterday,
so it is very new.
it is very pretty too!
And I like, it wouldn't you?

That little booklet was titled "Flower Tales", and if this experience had happened at that point in time, it most definitely would have been included...  

That Friday morning, we packed up the hotel and got in the car to head back home. This sounds simple, but, believe me, it takes a while, haha! As we finished, Mama watched an older couple bring their one load of suitcases out, thrown them in the trunk, and drive away, and she's like, "Just think. That will be us one day. Someday we've not going to have all these people to pack for. That's going to be strange." Daddy answered, "Dear, that's never going to happen. You're never going to want to go anywhere unless we're doing something with the grandchildren." Hahaha! We pulled out of the parking lot, and Daddy called his mama to let her know we were on the way. He took a curve, and all of the sudden there were frantic whispers of "The plant. Were is the plant? Is it by you? Daddy! Daddy?!!!!"

Let me back up a moment. Several months ago, my Gramma shared on FB a picture of some flower pots decorated with handprints made into flowers, hinting she'd love one. So. Cue the "lets make one for both sets of grandparents" project. With so many people, so many hands, we decided some people's would be finger prints made into insects, some would be hand prints made into flowers, and we would use Noah's foot to make a bird. Cute idea in theory. Idea of terror to carry out. Suffice it to say that Noah's "footprint" became a squirrel on one of the pots. And Josiah asked if one of the ants was a pig.

So we made them with love, if not perfection. Bethi and I put some flowers in them, and they were loaded into the car to go with us. One was dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa's the first day. The other had to wait to go to Gramma and Papa Nate's that last day. During the week, we had been keeping it watered every night by pouring the water bottles that weren't finished but nobody wanted because nobody knew who's they were on it. And every time we would go anywhere, the pot would tip over. Multiple times. We were constantly repotting that thing with dirt from the van floor. So, when Daddy took that curve that Friday morning, Mama and Andrew instinctively reached down to catch the plant. But it wasn't there to catch. So we had to head back to the hotel, where we had left the pot on the sidewalk to let the water drain a bit before we put it back in the car. We were very relieved to find it wasn't smashed, because that's what we expected after all the trouble that thing had gotten into!

We finally got to hand it to Gramma (It's out of our haiiiiiiir!!!!) and get her awesome hugs! Noah was so fussy, but Papa Nate rocked him and he was so happy, it was cute :). After we visited for a while, we headed on to Granny's and Aunt Donna's. While we were getting ready to leave Aunt Donna's house, Daddy checked Mama's phone, and there were two texts waiting. One was for the first house, saying it was no longer available. The other was for the second house, letting us know that they excepted Daddy's offer. It was really neat how it worked out :). We stopped for coffee and milkshakes, depending on the person, to celebrate :). I got caffeinated... it was delicious. I usually drink decafe, and *always*, that late at night, but you know what, we had a long drive, so I could afford to stay awake, haha :). We got home at about 5 a.m. on Saturday, I think. I'm not even telling you how late I slept the next day... but it was too late considering we had birthday preparations to do for Bethi's birthday the next day. And as soon as her party was over, I found I had an order for 22 bookmarks, 21 of which I had to make, to fill in 24 hours. Yeah, it was a pretty crazy week, haha :). But it was really awesome to get to make those memories, and I'm still just amazed at how God worked out our getting this house :)!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

All Creatures Great and Small

Mama and Daddy decided that we'd stay the extra day so we could go to the zoo. They figured since we were still in the area, they'd check house listings one last time... and there "just happened" to be another house listed that looked promising. So, we drove by that day, and Mama and Daddy put an offer in for this house as well.

It was soooooo much fun taking the little ones to the zoo! Peter had been, but was way too little to remember it. And Josiah and Noah had never been (though, since Noah slept the whole time, I don't know if that even counts ;).)! It was cheaper to just buy a year pass for our family than to pay for each of us, so we've had fun telling everybody that we had a zoo membership before we had a house, haha!

Peter was ESPECIALLY excited to see the giraffes and zebras. It was ALL he talked about looking for until we found them :). We were telling Josiah about some of the animals he would see, and he seemed most interested in the bears beforehand, but once we were inside, it was obvious that his favorites were the monkeys. He kept asking to go back to one until we would find another :). Both the little boys wanted carried constantly... and once we had passed the zebras, Peter lost all motivation! He just laid down in the koala bear house like he was going to take a nap. Both of them were sooooo sweaty and tired within 15 minutes of arriving.... I think living in the cooler climate of Virgina has rather spoiled these two, hahaha!

Riverbanks has changed a lot while we've been gone; they've had to move the animals around making room for new ones, so everything is shuffled. They've added otters, and brought the seals back! (And they have a new baby koala. Tell me that doesn't make the entire visit worth it no matter what else you miss.) Not to mention, for me, it was just totally awesome to go to the zoo with my glasses. We didn't know I needed them until a few months after we moved to VA (one of the things I will always remember as a part of our VA experience is going to be finding out how pretty sharp bark lines and clear stars look!). Fur lines. Tiny fish. Meerkat markings. You can see all this stuff, so much better, from so far away, when your vision is up to par. It's beautiful! And though some people I've told that to have told me how sorry they are that that's the first time I've seen it, the truth is, it is so much fun to experience this stuff and know how much to appreciate it. Like, I could have grown up seeing all this stuff perfectly fine, and it would have been fun and all... but the excitement of knowing how it's not to be taken for granted is so much fun!!!

We spent the night chilling in the hotel room, eating chick-fil-a, or chinese food, depending on the person, and talking about all the fun we had had that day. Peter could NOT stop telling his stories over and over and over. Once he was cooled off, I think the trip was well worth it for him, haha :). It was so much fun :).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Busy Days and Cozy Nights

 "Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" -Luke 13:33-34-

It's so beautiful, how often Jesus points to the sins of those who made his sacrifice necessary. And then makes it clear that even these have not changed his love for them... how he would be willing, even now, to except them into the kingdom if only their hearts were not made of stone. While going to his death for the sins of mankind, all he can say is that he WILL do his Father's will... and he longs to give them the comfort that only he can give. How many times have I pushed through my "thorns in the flesh", never thinking to give him my burdens, feeling that if I could just get this or that settled on my own, I'd be fine? But looking at the love that he shows for those who are struggling with sin, blindness and pain. How could I not give him my deepest love, service, and confidence?

   ~    ~    ~    ~    ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~  

Wednesday was spent with more "window shopping" for houses, and Mama and Daddy looked at the interior of one house that looked really promising. It was actually in an area that we had looked at moving into several years ago, and not too far from our old house. Mama and Daddy actually put an offer in, so that was exciting, even though we knew it might not work out. Daddy also gave our hotel room's toilet a free repair on the fly when he noticed it was leaking (and not by our fault... haha. We can be rough on things, but not usually that rough ;).)... that's our Daddy for you! He had not a tool with him, but he still left things better than he found them, haha :)! Abbi did too... she dug all kinds of things out from under the nightstands, lol.

Our nights were pretty late the whole trip, but they were really pleasant... several nights Daddy picked up coffee before we headed back to the hotel, which was delicious ;). We would go back and get the little ones ready for bed, then I would pile with them on their "bed" (the sleeper sofa) and read them another chapter of "Under the Lilacs". Then Tori and Jo-Jo would listen to the Piano Guys on the MP3 player while I had my shower. This was pretty much their favorite thing to do the whole trip... they were so cute, sharing the headphones and enjoying it together :). If we had stopped at Starbucks, I would warm up the rest of my coffee and come to bed. Jo-Jo would share his earphone with me for a bit, and I'd do some reading and bible study... I don't much care to spend days in a hotel, because it's so hard to keep our mob quiet while we're doing pretty much anything. But nights in a hotel are totally different, haha :). I've always loved the closeness and quiet they seem to breath out. 

We weren't sure at this point what the next day held. We had been planning on starting home the next morning, but we had been so busy through the week that we hadn't made it to the zoo yet, which was something we had really been hoping to do. Mama and Daddy and Tori and I tried to decide which was more important to us... seeing Peter and Josiah experience the zoo for the first time... or going home and getting some real sleep, haha :).

Friday, July 1, 2016

Simple Pleasures

 Josiah just set his cup down while we were at the park, and wouldn't
pick it back up. Mama was like, "Okay, say goodbye to your cup then"...
and he just walked away. We had a hard time convincing him we were 
joking, haha! He actually did it a few more times on the trip...
 I don't think he likes this cup, hahaha!

The next day we spent looking at a few houses. Noah was sooooo sad all day long, he wouldn't stop crying. We eventually discovered that if we had the air conditioner on full blast and I held him next to it for a few minutes every time Mama and Daddy got out of the car, it helped a bit... but for the most part he hated the car rides. He had been such a good car baby up until this point that we were shocked! He still seems like a pretty laid back passenger for short trips -but it's as if he knows when we're planning on a long trip, because he starts crying instantly. I haven't figured out how he knows the instant we get in the car how long we plan on being gone...

We stopped at our favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch (it was soooo delicious!!! Although they've changed one of the dishes, which was slightly disappointing), and then we headed out to our favorite park that we always go to afterwards. We were walking through, asking each other "Do you remember when we ate that picnic here, or here? Remember when they put in that path? Remember when we found this?". It was sad to realize that the younger three haven't had those constant trips ingrained into their backstory- we're excited to fix that in the future! It's hard to realize that the entire park was so flooded last year, with the creeks as empty as they always are. And I've been amazed to find that SC has a TON of Red Flowering Gum Trees. I have loved these trees ever since my Aunt pointed one out to me -I call them Dr. Suess trees, because, why not? They look like his clovers, haha :). I had only seen one in SC before we moved (she pointed it out like a month before we left, haha), and I thought VA had more of them... we move back here, and I discover they're everywhere here, too. I don't know if I just notice them now because I know what they are, or if I couldn't tell the difference between them and crape myrtle from a distance before I got my glasses, but I chuckle at myself every time I see one now!

Later that evening, we stopped at Coldstone for some ice cream. We got there shortly before they closed, but they were very kind about it, and we very much enjoyed our ice cream! We were going and sitting down with ours as they got done, and we took up pretty much all the tables once we all had our ice cream... and we had five of us at one of the two-seater tables, haha! Tori and I had all the little boys, and I may or may not have been giving Josiah enough of my ice cream after he had finished his to give him danger of a sugar crash, haha. I'm constantly letting the younger ones drink my coffee or share my snacks... sometimes I think I'm more of an aunt than a big sister to these little people, haha :). I realized on this trip that all my favorite things fit very nicely into the trip; I was able to bring my bible and books, fuzzy socks, blanket, and journal; we listened to music and had plenty of family time; there was ice cream and coffee; and I had plenty of opportunities to spoil and read to the little ones :). It was so much fun :).