Thursday, December 29, 2011


I am writing this on Thursday evening, at the time we had expected we would be flying over the Atlantic Ocean, beginning our big Moldovan journey.  Those plans came to a screeching halt yesterday morning, though, and we are, instead, still home... though I'm realizing the journey has already begun.

Yesterday, we suddenly had to call the paramedics for one of our children, and experienced a scary episode we had hoped we never would have to again.  All kinds of questions started swirling about the health of this child, and we realized we needed to visit a specialist, if not the ER.  So, we realized our trip must be postponed, and called the airline to begin the (what turned out to be a very long, complicated) process of re-booking our tickets.

Today I have spent a large portion of the day in tears.  But every time someone asks me why I'm crying, I realize it's because I'm just overwhelmed by Love.  Yes, our plans are all messed up and things are confusing, but it the midst of it all, I have been so grateful-- overwhelmed, truly -- for so much...

... For the way God allowed the timing of this medical situation to be yesterday, and not even 36 hours later... or any time in the next 7 months, when we would have really freaked out.  It is oh-so-clear that His hand is in all of this.
... For the way our families have all immediately called, emailed, offered to help in so many ways.  Such generosity and compassion...
... For the way our friends have also started pouring out to us, coming over to pray with us, calling, offering to bring us meals
... For friends even far away who immediately began to pray for us
... For the elders of the church who quickly arranged to come over and pray for our child's healing, and provide comfort to us
... For the access we have here to paramedics, specialists, and our pediatrician -- which we would not have days from now
... For our children who have interacted with each other in precious ways
... For watching our sick child gain strength, and participate with joy in the life of our family
... For hearing the specialist say it might not be as big of a deal as we thought, health-wise
... For hearing Rayna say yesterday, "Ok, here's the situation:  We're all going to make a circle, the whole family, and we're going pray."  And then we did.
... For realizing that even though we were supposed to be out of town by now, our pantry and freezer and fridge had plenty of items for us to continue eating for the next few days.  I know God planned this out well for us!
... For the fact that the couple renting our house here were not planning on moving in until next Thursday -- the day we've now switched our flights to
... For the airline finally coming back and saying they would allow us to refund our non-refundable tickets  (they're still saying we need to pay an exorbitant amount to change those tickets, but we're going to appeal that tomorrow)

Some of my tears today have also been caused by my sadness and fear for my child's health... and those feelings make me remember how broken how world is, and make me long more for the Home of Heaven.  So, I am thankful even for the sad situation, I guess.

As our plans for Moldova took shape over the last few months, we talked about how we really desired to find Joy in the journey.  The journey has begun, and even though this isn't the first step I would have chosen, I see that underlying even the hard times, there is a soft joy to be found in the pouring out of Love.  We've been overwhelmed by that love today.

Monday, December 26, 2011


We are now in fast-forward mode getting ready for our trip  -- in 3.5 days! -- so I have no time to write anything thoughtful, profound or mundane.  Pictures will have to speak for themselves... but I will say as a summary that we greatly enjoyed celebrating our Savior's birth! It was a quieter year for us -- in fact, it was the first Christmas Eve any of us have ever spent without extended family with us.  But now look... I'm starting to write too much and I don't have time for this!  On to the pictures...


Friday, December 23, 2011

The pretty side of Borax

Borax has become a basic staple in my house as I use it to make various cleaning concoctions (disinfectant, toilet cleaner, laundry aid, etc) but I had never made something pretty with it before!  I saw on some web site or Pinterest or somewhere (now I've forgotten where!) that someone made Christmas ornaments with just pipe cleaners and Borax... and that sounded like just the kind of craft I could handle.

So we boiled water, shaped the pipe cleaners....

 ... and then hung them in jars with the Borax/water mixture (suspended from pencils they were tied to).

By the next morning, crystals had formed and they were all sparkly!  

Christmas magic!  Or... Beautiful Borax.
I highly recommend this simple, magical project!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

39 is fine

I had the best birthday ever this year!  They just keep getting better and better (and my mom assures me this will continue indefinitely).  2 cakes, thoughtful gifts from my children and husband, time away to relax, and time to celebrate with my extended family -- it was all good!

One highlight was blowing out the candle app (since no actual candles could be located)!  I had never blown out an app before!

And another highlight was being able to celebrate with so many family members... including my grandmother all the way from NJ. 

I am very blessed.... even if I am getting awfully old.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2 Christmas books we've loved -- and one we may try next year

One of my favorite Advent activities is reading special books all together as a family.  There are many great Christmas books out there of course, but here are our 2 current favorites:

1.  Papa Panov's Special Day
Papa Panov's Special Day
This has been one of the kids' fave's for a few years now... and I can never get through it without tearing up (which they kids always think is weird).  But maybe the best part is just saying his name!  Try it -- Papa Panov.  Awesome.

2. Jotham's Journey
We've read this in years past, but this season's reading especially has been a highlight for the kids each night.  We love that there's an entry to read each day -- and they often end in dramatic cliffhangers!  The author weaves in a lot of Biblical details, prophecies, and characters throughout the intense adventures, and at the end of each day's reading there are some thoughts and questions concerning Truths good for us all to think about.

And next year, I'm excited to read this book as a family:  The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder.

I discovered it too late for this season, but loved looking through the intricate story on my own.  It's another season-long adventure and I love that it has some fantasy/fairy tale components.  I'm not sure that the overall themes and messages will be as good as the ones in Jotham's Journey, but we may just give it a try.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Housing Connections (alternative title: Crazy Small World Story)

I've written down pieces of this story at various times before, but the whole thing has become just so bizarre that I wanted to get it all in one place.

Awhile back I was introduced by email to an American missionary in Chisinau, the city we will be living in, by a friend of a friend.  (My friend lives in Kenya and her friend lives in Mozambique, so that was kind of random.)  Once I was in contact with this new friend, Robin, I discovered she was actually from Charlotte!

Meanwhile, in order to rent out our house here while we're gone, we put up a flyer at a local seminary.  One man called us to inquire about the house, and has since decided to go ahead and rent it.  He is getting married the very same day we are leaving and needed a new place to live.  (For more of that story and all the unusual coincidences, see here.)

Now here's where it gets really weird:  That man, Peter, and the woman I mentioned above, Robin, know each other!  In fact, Peter has stayed with Robin's family in Chisinau.

And here's where it gets even weirder:  It turns out Robin and her family will be coming back to the U.S. for most of the time that we are in Chisinau.  So, they've offered to let us rent their house, which we have agreed to do!  They happen to live right in the exact area of the city we were hoping to live in, and they're giving us a far better deal than anything we could find through the rental agencies.

In this small-world story, then, Peter will be living in our house here, he has already stayed in Robin's house, and now we will be living in Robin's house.  In other words, by January, Peter will have stayed in 2 of the houses we have lived in--- thousands of miles apart!  We met both Robin and Peter in such random ways-- and now have such interconnected circles.

Only God could work out our housing solutions in such an amazingly creative way!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Strider:  Colsen! Stop copying me all the time!
Colsen:  I don't!  Well, sometimes you copy me.
Strider:  No, I don't. 
Colsen:  You never copy me?  NEVER??
Strider:  Never.
Colsen:  There -- see, you just did!


And more parties

What an unusually festive season we've had!  Some of us went to a couple more parties this weekend, but the big one was this one-- at the Drescher's:

Colsen and Rayna had a great time!  It was mostly a girl party, so Rayna loooved finally being surrounded by girls.  According to the reports I heard, Colsen appeared a little intimidated at first, but with plenty of cookies and gifts around, it's hard to stay shy!  Plus he was with one of his best buds, Branson.  The kids had a cookie exchange and a white elephant game, and also decorated Christmas tree cookies...  pretty fun I'd say!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Exactly 2 years ago, I did a kind of day-in-a-life record of some of my thoughts and activities for December 9th (just randomly).  So I thought I would do it again this year (just for fun). So here are some select moments from today's adventures:

7:03 am-- First cold little boy comes into our bedroom to crawl into bed with us.
7:08 am-- Second cold little boy comes into our bedroom to  crawl into bed with us.  Thankfully Pete gets up with this one, so we don't have pull the 4-people-in-a-Queen-size-bed routine we often do.
8:34 am-- Regretting the fact that I invited the kids to join me in exercising along to a Denise Austin video, since I can no longer hear the video nor find enough space to do the exercises.
8:54 am -- Jump out in the middle of my shower to rescue Miles who has fallen head-first into the large bathtub and can't stand back up.  (Thankfully the tub is empty)
8:57 am -- (while still in shower)  Answer Miles that no, he should not jump off the top of our 15-step staircase because yes, he will get hurt.
9:35 am-- Suddenly panic because I was supposed to have cookies made for an appointment with someone today.  Frantically begin pulling out ingredients.
9:52 am -- Wonder why I keep making this Toffee Bar recipe every year when it always is such a pain to get it spread out in the pan. 
9:55 am -- Really need to write "Do Not Make This" in my recipe book.  This spreading process is taking way too long.
10:20 am -- Find out the appointment I needed the cookies for has been cancelled.
11:15 am -- Working on reading comprehension with Rayna while giving Strider a spelling test and telling the little boys repeatedly that they may not interrupt -- and making a list of the many, many things that need to be done in the next week.
11:56 am -- Comfort Colsen, who has just face-planted in the road.  His nose is all scraped up and swollen... poor little guy.
12:14 pm -- Tell my 9-year old she should not bang glass dishes together like they're cymbals as she's emptying the dishwasher.  My NINE year old.  GLASS dishes!  Really!
1:10 pm -- Read books to 2 kids while a third keeps yelling in my ear.
2:20 pm -- Wake up from my 20-minute, much-needed nap.  Major highlight of the day.
2:50 pm -- Daughter comes over to me to hug my neck and tell me she loves me.  Another major highlight of the day.
3:25 pm -- Go over curriculum plans with Strider and start packing boxes of books to ship to Moldova.  Lots and lots of books.
3:26 pm -- Rayna and Miles come in the room... and Miles has yards and yards of dental floss all around him.
4:30 pm -- Make 2nd batch of cookies for the day.  (The kids have a cookie exchange party tomorrow!)
4:34 pm -- See this out the window:
(Colsen is in the box, on a skateboard, and Strider is pushing him.  Nothing could go wrong with that.)

5:05 pm-- Must race upstairs to transform from machine to woman for big date tonight.
5:40 pm-- Uncle Deuce is here to babysit (to everyone's great joy -- because "he always lets us stay up waaaay past our bedtime!") and the rest of his family came to play, too, so spirits are high around here!  Just as bedlam escalates, Pete and I slip out to head to a faculty Christmas party at Wingate.

8:01 pm -- Find ourselves in a heated debate with friends about economic disincentives in our society-- climaxing at a point when we are told by our friend that we are thinking like "typical protestants."
9:16 pm -- Enjoying some romantic date time at Lowe's Home Improvement (doing research for replacing our carpets)
9:35 pm -- Arrive home and can see Colsen standing at his window waiting for us.  Such a cutie pie.  But he needs to be asleep!
10:04 pm -- Most of the kids are now quiet.  And I am bugging a nephew online.
10:23 pm -- Wrapping up this way-too-long blog entry.  Pete says he can't wait to read it because he loves "time-stamped blog posts."  So at least there are 2 of us that enjoy reading this!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day

It's one of our favorite holidays of the year!

Unfortunately, Wingate does not recognize it as an important enough holiday to cancel classes, and Pete has to work today and tonight...  so we had our celebratory dinner last night instead.  I had a recipe picked out that had a bit of a middle-eastern flair (St. Nick was from Turkey after all)... but Pete was pretty sure the chick peas, quinoa and curry would probably get some resistance from the small fry around here.  So that dish has been moved down the menu by a few days, and we had a tried-and-true, not-at-all-middle-eastern favorite instead:  chicken pot pie.  (And man, I always forget about what a true labor of love that dish is!  I was in the kitchen all afternoon.)

 Then we went out for some stealth missions...
 ... and after the kids were tucked snug in their beds with hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...
 ....he was!

 This morning included a fast and furious stocking exploration.

 Everyone ended up pretty happy!

And, they all got watches this year.
May they be "watch-ful" people this year, looking to share their blessings with those in need -- just like St. Nicholas.

*For more on why we celebrate this holiday and how it's evolved in our family, see this post or this one.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Let the Christmas parties begin!

On Friday we had not one but TWO parties at the Coles' house.  I forgot my camera both times, though, and when I borrowed Alleyn's camera to take a couple pics, I used it upside-down.  So we'll just have to rely on our memories for those events!  The highlight for me was the caroling.  It looked like this upside-down.

Saturday, though, I did have my camera for Strider's Club 45 Christmas party.  The kids all decorated gingerbread houses, which of course was a hit.  You put a bunch of lively kids in a room with a bunch of colored candy, and who can complain?

 There were a few Clemson fans in the room:

After the decorating, they had some time to talk together, and Strider shared a little about his upcoming trip to Moldova.  Then the kids put their sugar highs to good use playing charades.

Strider miiiiight not be happy that I posted this picture of him doing the Charlie Brown dance....  This is just evidence of how much sugar he had consumed!

Then on Sunday we had a church-wide surprise party for our pastor and his family, who have served our church now for 10 years.  It was fun watching the looks on their faces when they realized the party was for them.  And it was even more fun watching the skits and funny impressions.  The event was emotional and exciting and heart-warming.... none of which I captured in the pictures below.  But I tried.

All I can say is that it's a good thing we can remember things even without pictures, since my camera skills are so lacking.  The unfortunate thing is that my memory is also falling more and more into the "lacking" category.... so even the bad pictures may have to suffice at some point.

Anyway, it's a been an unusually fun weekend of parties, and we're thankful for lives full of celebration!