Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fourth of July Fun!

Fourth of July
We started our Fourth of July with the Trophy Club parade with my mom.
It makes me laugh how Emma closes her eyes like this now when she's saying "cheese" for a picture.

Horses!  Of course, Isaac's favorite part of the parade.
After the parade, we went to my parent's house to swim.  Uncle Nate came, too!
Emma used to be so shy around Nate, but now she can't get enough of him!
Neither can Isaac!

After lunch & more swimming, the kids took long naps.  Then, we headed over to our friend's house for dinner.
Look at these little firecrackers!  Isaac's face is about as red as his shirt.  :)

We all drove up to Lake Grapevine to watch the fireworks! 
The boys had fun hunting for grasshoppers.  Isaac kept saying, "I found a green one!  And green is my favorite color!
Emma crawled into the double stroller and made baby Amelia giggle.
Thankful for this great crew of friends!

As soon as the fireworks started, we realized we were in the wrong spot.  There was a large bank of trees across the lake that was blocking most of the fireworks, and we could see just the top of each firework.  So, we packed up all six kids (no small feat!) and quickly drove to a nearby neighborhood where we could see them at the end of the street.  The kids thought it was pretty special to sit on top of the van!  
(Dave called this our redneck Fourth of July.)  
 Even though fireworks didn't quite go as planned, we still had a lot of fun with the Sawyers.  It was definitely a night of fireworks we won't forget.  :)

On our way home, Dave remembered that we had a few sparklers left over from my sister's wedding nearly two years ago.  I thought Isaac & Emma would fall asleep on the way home from Grapevine, but they were still wide awake.  We told them to wait in the driveway for a surprise.  While Dave and I grabbed the sparklers and started to light them, I checked on the kids.  They were sitting on the driveway and waiting so patiently.


11:30 at night on the Fourth of July, and my kids are doing "cheers" with their sparklers.  
I'd say that makes for a great Fourth!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Grandma Dolores

If she were still living, today would have been Grandma Dolores' 94th birthday!  I've had this post half-written for months now.  Sitting down and actually finishing it is another reminder to me that my grandma's really gone.  Another time that I most miss her is when I walk to the mailbox with my kids.  My grandma wrote me so many letters!  I miss seeing her cursive handwriting on an envelope waiting in my mailbox.  So, instead of writing a letter to my grandma filled with stories of my kids, I'm finally writing the story of my last days with my grandma.
Dave lost both of his grandpas in a span of three months.  Grandpa Rinn died last November, and then Grandpa Bailey died in January.  Just a few weeks after we returned home from Grandpa Bailey's funeral in Iowa, I flew to Minnesota to be with Grandma Dolores.  We knew that she was failing quickly, and I was so anxious to get to Minnesota to be with her one more time.  We had already planned Emma's birthday party, and I also had two concerts to accompany at my school.  Thankfully, awesome friends stepped in and took care of our kids for three days so that I could fly to Minnesota early on a Tuesday morning, February 11 right after I finished my last concert at school.  

Right as I was about to board my plane, my mom called me from Minnesota to say that my grandma's health was declining quickly.  Just a few days prior, my sister and her husband had driven up to visit my grandma from Chicago.  They texted me this picture.  Even though she was in hospice care, my grandma was awake and able to communicate.  In this picture, my grandma was waving "hi" to us.  :)  
My mom said that my grandma's health had declined rapidly overnight and asked if I even still wanted to come.  She said it was likely my grandma wouldn't be able to talk with me.  Of course, I still wanted to come.  And, I'm so glad I did.  Those three days I spent with my grandma are some of the most treasured days of my life.

My grandma was at a hospice center in Brooklyn Center.  The center was situated on a lake and was so peaceful.  

When I first stepped into my grandma's room, she opened her eyes especially wide and said, "Wow!"  I held her hands for a long time and cried.   My cousin, Nate, sent the book I'll Love You Forever with me to read to Grandma, so I laid my head on her pillow and read to her.  This was a special book that my grandma read to many of her grandchildren.  After I finished the book, Grandma kept repeating "forever and ever, forever and ever" over and over.  I told her I'd love her forever and ever.  

My mom and I were both wearing similar scarves, which my grandma noticed.  She smiled a little, gestured to our scarves, and said, "you got me…you got me" as if we had tried to make her laugh by dressing alike.  Grandma took both of my hands in hers and kissed them.  I showed Grandma a picture of Emma feeding her baby doll a bottle.  She studied Emma in the picture for a long time and then said (of Emma's hair) "that hair!"  I also showed her that I was wearing her engagement ring, which she had given to me.  (Both Grandma and I were engaged on Christmas Eve.)  Again, she said, "Wow!"  That was the most responsive that my grandma was during my visit to her, and after that she became quieter and quieter.  

I spent a lot of my time with Grandma singing hymns to her.  My grandma absolutely loved hymns!  She had a book that had a specific hymn for each day of the year, and she read this daily.  I thumbed through that book and sang hymns to her for hours.   My Uncle Steve had brought a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter, and I sat holding my grandma's hand and reading that book for a long time, too.    
My cousin Anna and I spent the nights on a small pull-out couch in Grandma's room.  We drank a lot of Caribou coffee, cried a lot, and wrote out a long list of our favorite memories of Grandma.  On Wednesday evening, my grandma started to be very uncomfortable.  Her hands were clenched, her eyes looked so sad, and she began crying.  She said, "I'm coming, I'm coming" in a very clear voice.  

My grandma was "coming" heaven.   She always reminded us that she wasn't going to die--she was going to be born again for all of eternity. She looked forward to going to heaven like no other person I've ever known.   I came home late on Thursday, February 13.  My dad picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at a quiet house as David and my kids were already asleep.  I woke up the next morning--Valentine's Day--to a beautiful lily from David on the kitchen counter.  David knows it is one of my favorite flowers, but it was also my grandma's favorite flower.  A few moments after I saw the lily, my mom called to say that my grandma had just passed away.  Valentine's Day was always one of her favorite days of the year.

Two weeks later, I flew back to Minnesota again for my grandma's funeral.  Nine of her ten grandchildren were at her funeral.  After a service filled with hymns, Scriptures, and wonderful stories of her life, we all went downstairs at the church for brunch and coffee.  We all laughed, through our tears, that she would have just loved to be there since it was filled with everything she loved the most.
Grandchildren at Grandma's funeral
Nate, Anna, Bethany, Emily, Brian, Karen, Andrew, Christy, John

 My grandma lives on whenever I drink a cup of coffee that has gone cold from sitting on the counter too long…when I play Scrabble and use one of her Scrabble tricks…when my kids snuggle up in one of the afghans she made…when I dry dishes with one of the dishtowels she embroidered…when I sit down and look through photo albums…whenever I call my Emma by her full name, Emma Victoria.

I love you, Grandma.  
Forever and ever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Father's Day Weekend!

Father's Day!

We took a few pictures outside before church, and Dave was sure that he and the kids needed to incorporate the armadillo somehow.  (If you've known us for any length of time, you've probably heard that this armadillo has been a major small source of contention in our marriage.)  Isaac was also sure he needed to have his Texas flag in the picture.  :)
After I took this picture, I realized Emma wore this same outfit last Father's Day.  The pants are capris on her now, but comparing these two pictures shows me what a little girl she is now!  
last year--Father's Day 2013
(Emma also had a black eye from a fall!)
 I love this picture Dave and Isaac reading on the couch while I finished making dinner after church.  I think Isaac would be content to read non-stop.  I got home from Bible study the other night at nearly 10pm, and these two were still awake reading Laura Ingalls Wilder! 
Father's Day tradition at our house…ginger beer!  Isaac acted like he liked it, but I think it was only because he knows it's Dave's favorite.  (This is Dave's long-standing favorite all the way back to his Taylor days, where he discovered Vernor's ginger beer.)

My Father's Day gift to Dave was an afternoon to do whatever he'd like….of course, he chose to read.  :)  I baked the whole afternoon, and then we FaceTimed with Papa & Nana!  It is always great to see their faces and hear their voices, even if it's over a screen.  We are so excited that our kids are getting to visit them for a week next month!  

We swam and had dinner at my parent's house that evening.  My cousin, Nate, came too.  Isaac had a blast wrestling and swimming with both Nate and Dave.

My parents bought this new inflatable slide for the pool.  
Isaac and I tried to go down side-by-side….unsuccessful!  :)

I love how Emma is about to sail into my dad's arms while Isaac is hanging on his back.
Dave tried jumping over the entire slide!

a water war!
The water shooter that Nate is shooting over his shoulder was just $1 at the Dollar Tree and has been the BEST water toy this summer!

What's Father's Day without desserts?!?  
I made rum cream pie from A Homemade Life & Snicker Doodle Cupcakes.
(This rum cream pie was the BEST thing I think I've ever made…I already can't wait to make it again.)

My favorite thing was watching my dad savor the last few bites of pie right from the pie plate.  It made all the hours of baking worth it!  
We ended the night by eating popcorn by the pool.  Sometimes, it takes Emma a little while to warm up to people that she doesn't see very often.  But, by the end of the night she was happy to sit in Nate's lap and feed him popcorn.  I think he ended up being fed much more than he wanted to eat. :)

 A few other pictures from Father's Day weekend...
Biking on Friday night!  Our absolute favorite thing about our new house is its proximity to the Arcadia Trail System.  Now that Isaac can ride so well on his own, we have been biking nearly every day.  Dave and I keep saying that Isaac's ability to ride a bike is a total game-changer for our family!  It is so fun to bike together.  Emma sits in the back of the carrier and loves looking for dogs while we ride.  She also turns around and says "hi" to me at least every other minute. :)

And, on Friday night, we celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary!  Our actual anniversary was the following day, June 14.

My parents kept Isaac and Emma for the evening so that we could go out.  We had a gift card that we used at Bonefish Grille, and then we walked over to Central Market for gelato.  A perfect night!
So thankful for this man God has given me!
This last year has been heartbreaking, challenging, and thrilling. We lost four grandparents. We moved to a new home, & Dave started a new job.   Together, we have experienced God's faithfulness and presence, and we can't wait to see what He has for us in year 12. 

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