Sunday, October 6, 2013

Baptism Invitation

Spencer handed these out to neighbors, teachers, and friends. We were very grateful that the Fergusons and Moorjanis from our street were able to attend in addition to many beloved family members and friends from church.

I Love to See the Temple

Spencer was really excited about his upcoming baptism. He had specific ideas about what kind of photos he wanted, so this became a kid-directed photo shoot. He's such a handsome fellow. In preparation for the picture-taking, he combed his hair sideways, the way he does when he wants to look particularly handsome. 

I love this kid's smile. 

He wanted a picture looking up at the temple, as if envisioning himself there at a future date. That's where I want to envision him too - in this place of peace and beauty. 

Family photo in front of the temple - nearly 10 years after Adam and I were married here we are back with our four children. Happy, happy day indeed. 

A close-up of our family at the temple. I have this picture in a frame and keep it on my kitchen counter. Makes me happy. 

John wanted his photo taken too. Can't let big brother steal the spotlight for too long. 

Here's Emma for her individual photo.  

She wanted one touching the gates by the door to the temple. 

Holding hands - their idea. Brett (just wee) was grabbing a quick snooze in his carseat. 


Before Spencer was born, Adam and I went through a long period of hoping we would someday have children. I remember pleading with the Lord and covenanting, not unlike Hannah from the story of Samuel, that I would strive to raise those children up unto the Lord. This was one of those days when I was feeling so blessed to see the hand of the Lord in my life and in our family. We are so grateful to have Spencer, Emma, John, and Brett. Spencer has been such a kind and caring older brother and, in making the decision to be baptized, sets a great example for his younger siblings who certainly look up to him. 

We love you, Spencer!  

Easter Sunday

Since Spring Break was the week before Easter, we spent a relaxed Friday morning hanging out at Grammy's house and Emma got to help Grammy prep a resurrection story set for her primary class. Emma LOVES lamination. For real. We have a laminator, and she is always wanting to do projects and laminate them. She likes the smoothness of it. Sheet protectors too. Both have made it onto preliminary Christmas lists (gotta start scheming early here, people). We'll see if they make the final cut come December. 

Easter Sunday was also cousin Gideon's blessing day, so we traveled up to MD for a family brunch before Aaron and Katy's church began. 

There was just enough time to sneak in a group photo at the temple since Aaron and Katy attend church in the building right next door. 
Pictured L to R (loosely): Amy, Jennifer, Ron, Eliza (Meldau family), Aaron, Grammy, Joel, Miriam, Papa, Reuben, Katy, Gideon, Sarah, Trina, Celeste, Emma, Spencer, John, Janet, Adam, Marie, Brett 

After the blessing, Aunt Celeste was kind enough to come with us to take some photos at the temple in preparation for Spencer's baptism. We wanted to make an invitation for him to hand out and thought it might be nice to have some family photos taken too. Of course, we had to get a photo with Aunt Celeste too! Niece and nephew love!

After attending our ward, we met up at Grammy's house for Easter dinner. Grammy had made these darling resurrection desserts for all the grandkids. (It's a tomb/donut with the stone rolled away)

We are lucky enough to have both sides of the family close and - what's more - they are friends. Dad Wride joined us for Easter dinner (am I remembering right that Mom Wride was out of town?). 
Always so lovely to meet together for a family dinner. 
(Pictured: Aaron, Katy, Emma, Melinda, Reuben, Curtis, Trina, Dad Wride, Janet, Adam, John, Marie, Brett, Spencer, Celeste, Sarah, Grammy, Gideon, Joel, Papa taking the picture)

Sweet 16!

We came home from Williamsburg in time to celebrate Sarah's 16th birthday. This beautiful sister of mine is almost exactly one half my age. I really hoped that she would be born on my birthday, but she came a full 6 days earlier than that. Still, I have always felt a closeness with Sarah since we are so close in birthday. I remember that while Mom and baby were still in recovery mode in the upstairs bedroom, I had a 16th birthday party bash with friend Thomas Nuzzaco acting as DJ out on the back patio. One of the neighbors called the cops. When the police arrived, it was pretty apparent that they were expecting to break up a wild party; instead they found a bunch of soda-drinking teens with parents at home chaperoning. We turned down the music and proceeded with the par-tay. 

Now that I look back, I can't believe Mom and Dad were up for all that one week post-baby. You were a good-natured little lady, Sarah, for going along with all that craziness. 

We really love Aunt Sarah. She is an awesome aunt, a lover of all things owl (see cake and cupcakes), witty conversationalist, a cheerful friend, and you can rely on her to give the latest scoop when it comes to family news. In earlier years, she was nicknamed "the reporter." 

One of us 16 years old, and the other 16x2 (- a few days). Gulp!


My Aunt Janet moved to Williamsburg last year, and she extended an open invitation to all family members to come on down. We took her up on her generous offer and planned a Spring Break excursion. Aunt Janet is the most generous of hosts and met us with hot Brunswick stew, a welcome respite since this turned out to be an unseasonably cold Spring Break. She also planned a special tea party with the American Girl dolls, which Emma had long been anticipating, complete with pink lemonade cupcakes and shrubs - a sorbet-based drink that is a Williamsburg tradition. 

Janet is also a generous gift-giver. She was prepared with gifts for all the April birthdays in our family. Here is Emma with her new Felicity activity book and a mob cap borrowed from Janet's costume closet, ready for a day in Colonial Williamsburg. 

Janet and I took the kids downtown, and I was expecting to purchase a day pass for everyone. Adam was back at the house working. (It's a blessing and a curse to work remotely. Blessing because he can work in the car on our road trips. Curse because he can take work with him and can't always join in all our fun). When we arrived at the Visitor Center, we discovered that they were offering VA residents an annual pass for the same cost as a day pass. SOLD!  

We started off in the small Presbyterian Meetinghouse, where I snapped and "Pathed" this photo to keep Adam abreast of our adventure. All hats courtesy of Janet.

Williamsburg was the Capitol of VA from 1698 to 1774, when VA Governor Thomas Jefferson urged that it be moved to Richmond which, in addition to being a safer distance from the James and York Rivers and, therefore, the British fleet, was also considerably closer to Monticello, Jefferson's home. This is a replica of the original Capitol, part of which was sold for the brick, and part of which burned as did so many of the buildings of that era. 

Janet, Spencer, John, and Emma in front of the Capitol Building. 

Here we are taking the tour of the Capitol. It was nice to get out of the wet and cold for a bit. 

Here's my John looking out the Capitol windows. A poster child for Colonial Williamsburg if ever I saw one.

And here we have another poster boy. Brett was the BEST baby. He snuggled into the Baby Bjorn and slept through the tours, nursed while we listened to Martha Washington, and then slept again. This picture of him in the revolutionary hat is a favorite.

 Here we are outside the gaol. Spencer got a book from Aunt Janet that is a piece of historical fiction about the gaoler's son. Text to self connection!

Here we are meeting Martha Washington, or at least the actor who plays her part. Martha asked Emma if she had knew her "courtesies," and Emma responded with a lovely curtsy. She had worn a dress just for the occasion and was pleased to have a chance to show off her colonial manners.

In this photo, I believe we are waiting to go down to the print shop, a favorite of the day. 

Hard to beat the blacksmith, though. Spencer could watch him for hours and we have made return trips. When Spencer asked how the blacksmith learned his trade, the gentleman replied that initially he tooled around in his own backyard before going to trade school. That lit a fire in Spencer's imagination; he is always asking for metal that he could use to "make things." 

Adam joined us the next day for some touring, and we made sure he got to experience the stocks. From one ball and chain to another. 

This was sort of unreal. Emma and I were checking out the inside of a store to see what colonial wares they had. The boys headed for the livestock out back. We joined them to discover that a lamb had just been born and then watched the mother ewe push out its twin and eat the afterbirth. Biology lesson covered for the week. Aunt Janet used to raise sheep whose wool she sheared, carded, and wove. This brush with nature opened the door for some fun sheep tales, my favorite being the time Else Marie ran away and Papa, with the help of some high school buddies, had to help retrieve her in Grandpa Cummings' convertible. 

Jail time. Nothing makes Johnny happier than talking about "police offithers" and jail. 
Much more to come!


Time for the periodic blog catch-up. We had some good springtime fun here in Lansdowne with the neighborhood Easter egg hung. Emma and Spencer were happy to pose with the big bunny man himself, but John didn't think that was a good idea, and Brett was sleeping in the stroller. Our friends Cole and Michael (both in Spencer's cub scout den) jumped in to take the place of my other two boys. Emma is used to hanging with the fellas since this is the make-up of our actual family: 3 boys and 1 girl. (As a side note, I am loving the monochromatic pattern-mixing Em has going on. Risk-taking fashionista, that one.)

John was just under the wire for the "under 3" egg hunt. He had a great time picking eggs up from the lawn. It was funny to watch since the first couple went right through to the other side when he tried to place them in the basket. He quickly got the hang of it, though.

There was also a petting zoo at the neighborhood egg hunt. I have no idea what animal John is petting, but I admired his courage for marching right up to take a turn.

Emma with her haul. The neighborhood eggs are full of stickers and stick-on tattoos. 

Spencer with his eggs. The older kids were limited to 10 eggs each. Spencer and his buddies may have had to throw a few back to stick to their limit. 

Love this little dude. Brett is such a happy, calm little man. Rocking some spring colors and a cute tie onesie from Tera Phomsopha (violin mom and friend). 

We had fun dying Easter eggs. Neighbor Kareena joined us for the fun. Emma has invited her to church, and she came regularly for a long while. Emma is fearless when it comes to sharing the Gospel - our own little missionary. 

Can't get enough of dressing up this little guy. Brett was rocking this cute church outfit, a gift from Rhoda Shields (another violin mom and friend). 

We made special arrangements for the Easter bunny to come to our house early because we were off to Williamsburg over Spring Break and knew the kids might enjoy having Easter candy and goodies for the car ride. The Easter bunny had our back and came through big time. John got a towel with his name on it. 

And so did Emma! The rest of us have towels with our names from a Christmas when Em was just a wee babe. 

Spencer got some long socks, which he tried on immediately. This kid wants to wear shorts all winter long. Soccer socks make it so at least most of his flesh is covered, so this was a very good thing. 

The kids got some awesome candy too. Sneaky Easter bunny hid the eggs in the basement this year and one of them was hidden so well that it had us looking for a good half hour. It was blending in with a fisher price toy. 

We packed up our spoils and headed down to Williamsburg to visit Aunt Janet. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 2013: Cousin Camp

We just returned from spending a few days with the Pascuals in New Jersey. Our niece Maddie was recently diagnosed with cancer and is just coming to the end of the first phase of chemo. Little brothers Daniel and Ryan had their last day of school on Wednesday, so with some procedures scheduled for Maddie on Thursday and Saturday, we found our window to make a visit. We arrived Wednesday evening in time to visit with everyone and get the kids down for a late bedtime (a trend when we travel). Spencer popped out of bed at about 5am the next day, hoping it was time to get up. I convinced him that it was probably a good idea to give everyone a little more time to sleep.

The forecast called for rain every day we were there. Tender mercy: it only rained one day we were there and even then it was in the evening. However, we came prepared for any weather. To kick off cousin camp, we brought with us a cardboard ship for the cousins to help assemble, decorate, and then play in. (Thank you, Dave and Michelle Younce, for the idea via Facebook). 

Can you spy John? 
 L to R: Spencer, Ryan, Daniel, John, Emma
*Sweet Maddie was at the hospital for chemo, a spinal tap, and a bone marrow aspiration. She's my hero. Such a brave girl!

 10 points if you can figure out which twin is peeking out of which porthole in the photo above. 

All the cousins names on the back deck of the ship.

After decorating the ship, the kids headed to the backyard to play. They were joined by some neighbors and made up a very creative game that was a cross between dodgeball and a fortress-style video game where you have do accomplish specific tasks to renew your lives. 

We posted a few "I spy" pictures on Path for Maddie. Below, neighbor Nathan is in white and Spencer is in red. Can you find them?

After lunch, some more backyard fun, and a Brett nap, we headed to the park. Neighbors Nathan and Aliyah joined us. The kids were SO good at entertaining each other that it was really quite fun to have all EIGHT of them along for the excursion. 

Brett is an angel baby. He was cooing and chirping (best way of describing his latest conversation tool) from the stroller and cheesing it up with some awesome grins. Love this boy.

I spy Aliyah and Emma!

The older boys in the group started off playing basketball while John, Brett, Emma, Aliyah, and I hung out at the park. After a while they moved to kickball and were quickly joined by friends, some coming barefoot from the pool to join in the fun, until there were two full teams playing - probably 12 boys total. 

Adam joined us for the last part of the fun after he had finished some work. (So wonderful that he can telecommute and work from anywhere). We ordered some pizza and have a lovely walk home together with all the kiddos. Everyone was filthy after all our fun, but so happy. We did quick showers (timed them, and everyone was between 1.75 and 2 minutes) and then had some pizza for dinner. 

Friday was a relaxed morning. Emily and Maddie were home, and Maddie was needing lots of rest. Minecraft and Subway Surfers were pretty popular ways to pass the time with a little pirate ship and Disney channel action mixed in. The pool opened at 1pm, so after some lunch that's where we headed. Emily and I took the kids initially, then Emily went home to help Maddie who had woken up from a nap and Adam came to join the fun. I took my sleepy boys Brett and John back at that point, both of whom were asleep by the time I walked home, and Adam stayed with the older kids who swam until the pool closed at 6pm. There was lots of jumping off the diving board for the boys. Emma was swimming like a fish. We played Marco Polo and a new game where John holds onto the arm of whatever adult is handy: he is the garbage man and the adult is the garbage truck. The adult's job is to take that little garbage man wherever he wants to go, and he picks up pool toys along the way. (We've watched a lot of the garbage episode of "Mighty Machines" recently.) I was all set to take an awesome picture of Adam with all the kids hanging on him in the pool, but John was losing his grip in the process so we saved the little garbage man and forgot to photograph the fun.

Daniel and Ryan put on matching Sunset Ice Cream shirts for bed. For the rest of the night, all of us (even Emily) had a hard time telling these boys apart. Just when I thought I had them figured out...

We closed out Friday with movie night. The boys liked watching "G-Force," but the girls retreated to have a Subway Surfers competition. We'll have to pick a chick flick next time. Still, it was kettle corn and good times all around and gave Emily and Jorge Luis a chance to sneak out for an ice cream date.

Awesome Uncle Adam took the crew out for some Saturday morning kickball and park time. He's one good fella. That left Brett and me at home to tidy and pack up.

After Maddie returned from her PET scan Saturday morning, she and Emma had some much-needed girl time. They watched "Four Weddings," and we did some manicures. Love these girl cousins! Each is surrounded by brothers, and they are such good friends to each other. 

John fell asleep shortly after we started our drive home. When he woke up, he was in tears. I thought he was just exhausted, but when I asked him why he was crying, he said "We not at Daniel-Ryan's house." He was so excited to spend time with these cousins. John calls each of the boys "Daniel-Ryan," so he's right 100% of the time. He also loves to call them "my fwiends," usually accompanied by a big embrace. We love you, Pascual cousins!

Some brief observations: It was really amazing to watch the Pascual family and the way they have rallied to deal with the trial dealt them. Emily is long-suffering, patient, and kind even when side effects of all these meds kick in resulting in little sleep and lots to potentially worry about. She makes sure Maddie's needs are met, and does so in such a soothing way while still finding time to spend with Daniel and Ryan. It is a marvelous thing to see. Jorge Luis is so compassionate. When he gets home from work, the first thing he does is check in with each member of the family. While on prednisone, Maddie had very specific cravings. When she wasn't loving the pizza we had ordered, JL disappeared for a few minutes and returned with her favorite pizza in hand. He is so loving towards his kids and does so much to make sure their needs are met. Maddie is a marvel herself. Emily was telling me that Maddie keeps track of her meds better than anyone and can tell if the wrong amount is poured or if one is missing - no small feat when there are so many meds to take and on an irregular schedule. Maddie's body is just amazing too. She has been off prednisone for a short time and already the swelling in her cheeks is noticeably receding. It's astounding to watch her body cope with all of the meds and treatments. She's one strong girl. Daniel and Ryan are resilient. There is a lot going on, but they are trucking along finding ways to have fun and keep a good attitude. They were such pleasant company - a formal way of saying it, but they really are just good guys. Love this family.
*Special shout out goes to Jorge Luis' family who have made it possible for him to be at the hospital for all the major medical stuff going on by covering at the store. Also, his sweet mom has a knack for making Dominican chicken and rice just the way Maddie likes it, and Abuela has made many a batch for this darling girl.