SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I've never heard of another family whose Christmas tradition includes a talent show. But, for many years our extended family has gathered at Keith's sister's for a meal, goodies, and a talent show. I guess we're a bit odd. Here's Bryce and Ellen singing a rewritten version of Jingle Bells that we rewrote again and customized for Daniel and his truck.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yes, Your Highness

Aunt Susie is spending Christmas with us this year. Not just Christmas, but eleven full days and nights. Yesterday (day 5) she had this to say:

Umm, Cindy, at my group home they give me my coffee first thing in the morning. I would appreciate it if you would to the same.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poop happens

I had the following conversation with my 16-year-old last Saturday after leaving Gabe with the 13-year-old, who went out to shovel and left Gabe in the care of the 16-year-old (all quite acceptable to me).

Phone: Ring, Ring

Me: Hello?

Teen: Umm, where are you?

Me: At Dana's, painting.

Teen: When will you be home?

Me: Not for hours.

Teen: Gabe messed his pants and it's down to his knees and up his back and on his neck.

Me: Oh.

Teen: (after a long pause) What should I do?

Me: Clean him up and give him a bath.

Teen: How do I give him a bath?

Me: (thinking, "really? you're asking me this question? he's 4 years not 4 months.)
Umm, it's just like you taking a bath only you put him in the tub.

Teen: (very dejected) OK......bye.

The fact is, he didn't really need to know how to give a kid a bath. He was desparately trying to find a way to get out of a very unpleasant task and what he really meant was, "could you please come home and relieve me of this way too grown up responsibility?".

In the end, Gabe got clean. He was even pre-rinsed, the tub was filled and then emptied, filled again and Mr. Gabe was washed well.

So, there's something to put on the resume--able to bathe a head-to-toe-soiled four-year-old.

Next lesson--what to do with the soiled laundry of a four-year-old....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"When I Say I Do"

I took a video with my camera so I could capture a bit of the wedding and Chet playing and singing. They caught me a little by surprise.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dana's AmAzing Wedding

It is a challenge to put a whirlwind of time and memories into a neat package to try to convey what an experience it is to give away a daughter. I often hear people refer back to the birth of their child--"20 years ago...." I don't think like that. While every baby has a unique personality from birth, they don't fully express that uniqueness in their actions, preferences, and speech until months or years later.

Dana's personality revealed itself in her toddler to preschool years. We called her our "hippy child" and nicknamed her Dana Chapin Carpenter after a modern folk singer of that time. She was ornery, independent, artistic, and imaginative. Every day was dress up day and called for three or four changes of clothes. What matched perfectly to Dana was not appreciated by...well, anyone. Dana loved to talk, even if no one would listen. One time when we told her not to talk in church I found her mouthing an imaginary conversation with her finger.

That's the little girl that I watched grow up and become the young woman at the altar. God captured her heart as a teen and continues to hold it fast. Like any Christian, she became a new person. The selfish, ornery aspects of her old nature are being smoothed away--replaced by a gracious, giving, and (when necessary) apologetic spirit. But she is still creative and imaginative with a fun-loving nature. It was all of those things that we gave away.

It is strange how and when the emotions come out. Of course, the wedding ceremony evoked tears and emotions. That can happen even if you don't know the bride and groom! However, I was hit by the overwhelming sense of her departure on the day before the wedding when she asked me to run into Menards for another string of lights. There, walking through the Black Friday crowd in the overdone holiday tinsel section, my eyes overflowed with tears at the thought of giving away my flower child. It was a Dana-appropriate moment.

Dana and David planned their wedding for Thanksgiving weekend to accommodate special family and friends and it was special to be able to celebrate a season of thankfulness and a marriage all at once with so many very beloved people. We've had five weddings in less than four years, but we don't feel empty or abandoned. Our lives are enriched by five new family members who are filling our lives with their vitality, love, and now for some of them, their children. We are blessed.

But, on to the wedding. Starting with Dana during the pre-wedding pictures, such a fun Dana look--Here We Go!

The girls

All of the girls--Mary and Anna Beth; Stephanie, Ellen, Dana, Nicole, and Katie; Tina and Lisa

My three daughters--Ellen, Dana, and Lisa

Dana and Lisa

Ellen asking for a kiss, too!

When the photographer told the girls to all laugh, they did, and they did it well! I think they needed the release.

The guys

David's Aunt Jess did the photography. She had such wonderful, creative ideas and she was FAST! I'm sure their album will be beautiful. (Hi Chet.)

All of the guys--Bear, Joe, Keith, Mark, Chet, Chris, Owen, David, and Daniel

David with Owen, junior groomsman, and his brother Daniel, ring bearer

Twenty minutes before the wedding. Dr. Natrop would be pleased.

Karissa, wearing the wedding colors, with Daniel isn't looking too excited about the whole affair.

Keira was all decked out for Aunt Dana's wedding, too.

Whenever possible at weddings I like to try to get a picture of the groom when he first sees the bride. The quality of the picture isn't very good but I'm glad I captured the look on his face.

The wedding ceremony

Taking their vows.

Both fathers came forward to bless/pray for their children. It was a special moment. I've heard of it being done at weddings but hadn't seen it.

Kissing the bride

Keira and Carson were pretty bored with the whole thing. They just want a meal and a nap.

With Papa and Grandma

Dana and David taking a break during the photography session.

Lisa thought it looked like a really good idea.

The entire wedding party

I like Lisa and Christina's little-girl-looks in this one.

Jess had Dana and David kiss with everyone looking at them. I captured the kiss but the looks in this picture were my favorite. They both look so very happy and I love how their closest friends are all looking at them and sharing in the joy (except maybe for Keith, Chet, and Mark who put the 'yuck, did they just kiss?' looks on their faces--can you tell they're related?).

They all took instructions so well--dip, kiss, and cheer...done.

I just love this pose! I can't wait to see it on the photographer's camera from the front. David has his chest puffed out so perfectly, Dana had to take a minute to compose her face after grinning and laughing at the scene but managed a pretty good look, and it is so very Katie to be saying, "I am NOT going to do that!" (She did though and it will be uniform in another picture, I'm sure. But I like this one the best.)

Dana with the groomsmen. They put her brothers and cousin in the middle to keep things comfortable for her.

Lisa wanted a picture with just Dana and her. Lisa's been in all five of her siblings weddings as well as that of Rosalynn (the young woman who came and helped me after Lisa's birth). This time, she graduated from flower girl to junior bridesmaid. I was looking at her last night as we had devotions with our six children who are still at home, Lisa being the lone girl. She was smiling shyly about something and I just melted and told Keith, "I'm glad we still have a little girl left at home."

Dana and David had everyone leave the sanctuary while they had their couple pictures taken. I stuck around for just a few minutes pretending to clean some things up so I could at least get one formal picture of the two of them. This is the only one I got. I'm sure their amazing photographer will have many more.

Just to show you how fried a woman's brain can get when working on a wedding, when I looked at the cakes I couldn't figure out why the groom's cake had the canoe on it. I made a mental note to ask Dana about it before she left. I never got that chance and was left stammering while I tried to answer friend's inquiry as to its meaning. I started to stumble out an explanation, "Well, I think it has something to do with them going canoing, and something funny happened, but I can't remember what it was. Maybe they tipped over or something." My friend asked, "Did he catch a big fish? Her arms are spread open like she's measuring something." "Maybe," I said, and as it started to dawn on me I said, "No, SHE caught RING!! Now I remember, they got engaged in a canoe while fishing!" Duh.

My friend Sue gave us two days of her holiday weekend to do whatever we needed! And we needed. She helped make bouquets, pinned falling decorations, retrieved a forgotten cake knife, and kept order at the reception. She was phenomenal! (I'm not sure what I'm looking at--probably watching Gabe run away from whoever is tending to him.)

I love this happy, relieved look. I doubt they even remember what they ate.

Nicole with 8-month-old Vince. He has the most contagious smile (so does she)!

Weddings and children are not always the best of companions. It was no exception for four-year-old Gabe. He knows this facility as a place to shoot baskets with our homeschool group. And he knows where the balls are kept. It only took him a split second to get away and run for the loot. I was thankful that Pastor Kevin wasn't too rusty with his rebounding skills and kept the ball out of the soup buffet!

The beautiful cake was made by Ellen's mother-in-law Chris Kleven. She is a wonderful artist who applies her gifts to baking and decorating. And a wonderful friend who shares her gifts as well as her home and family with us.

Doesn't she look innocent? Don't be fooled.

No more Miss Innocent. Miss Mischievous tries to get away before payback comes.

Friendships do last for years. Cathy and I went to school together, shared an apartment for a short time, and have continued to bond over our mutual love of Christ and family.

We forgot to get a picture of just the two of us at the wedding! This one was taken after the fact. Can you tell how relaxed we are?!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Humor

Bryce, Owen, and Lisa put this song together for a homeschool Thanksgiving talent show last night. Leave it to them to figure out a way to infuse humor into a show geared toward giving thanks. I think today they're just thankful it's over. Keith and I had ballroom dance lessons last night so Chet took them to the event. When they came home and I asked how it went Bryce asked me, "Do you know what the words 'epic fail' mean?"

The karaoke didn't work, there was only one microphone, the stage lighting was red, and things were set up in a way that didn't quite work with some of their choreography. The talent show version ended up being done without the motion, acapella sounding like a solo by Bryce, and skipping the last half of the song. They'll be able to plan better next time.

Here's the video I made of their "dress rehearsal" at home (so they could see how it looked before going on stage).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What a coincidence

Nicole stopped by to meet Dana before heading out with some others for a bride/bridesmaid dress-alteration trip. It's almost like being in Jr. High, except they didn't plan it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The last hiking week of the year

I love the fall, the changing leaves, the falling leaves, the fallen leaves, the cool weather, the start of school, the end of summer--everything about this time of year I just love! The grandmother I never knew hated it, she hated the dying. I don't care for dying, but I still love this weather! And I'm ready to see the end come to mowing and weeding and mosquitoes in preparation for the gorgeous northern Wisconsin winters.

I think I've set a hiking record this season. Maybe it has something to do with my youngest being 4.

Carson and Keira spent a wonderful week with us in September while Joey and Jamie enjoyed some time together out east. I wasn't brave enough to go far but we found the weather too beautiful to pass up a neighborhood walk.

A successful walk!

Before the leaves were completely gone we took a day trip to Wisconsin's highest point, Timm's Hill. That's what it is, a hill, but it's a very pretty one with hiking trails weaving around and through the surrounding hills.

For the boys, it's just not a hike without a football.

We found this carved on a bench and Dana especially liked it.

Knowing that her quantity time with her younger siblings is going to be drastically reduced, Dana made sure she focused on playing with these four.

A few weeks ago we took a Sunday afternoon drive to a nearby waterfall for a picnic, a hike, and a photo shoot for Dana and David.

I took the opportunity to get some family pictures for Keith and Nicole with Vince, too. It was such a very beautiful and memorable day!

This past Sunday was another beautiful, sunny, and warm-for-November day. I couldn't pass up the chance to get in what could possibly be the last hike of the season. I didn't have many takers but when Bryce called the cousins and got them to join us my numbers swelled from one to nine! My troopers didn't realize how many hills we would be mounting nor how steep they would be. We knew we were cutting the time close for getting back and making it to our evening church service but we timed it so we could just make it...until I took a wrong turn. There just wasn't room in our tight schedule for the extra 1/4 mile and back.

Kirk and Lisa found some hiking sticks along the trail to help them up the hills. Gabe found a stick and went one step better. He decided why walk when you can ride!?

Mom made an even better horsey!

They must not have been too daunted by the ordeal because they (along with Aunt Kelly) were willing to join us on the same trails the next day. I picked up Nicole and Vince AND the three little ones she babysits and we made quite a group.

The hills were just as steep and this time we were pushing double strollers.

Iron Man Bryce

Maybe Nana is helping to instill a love of hiking in the next generation.