Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Banana, Two Monkeys ... and a ???

My crew tonight ... Jack as a ... not quite sure ...
and his "hobo" friend ...
Two monkeys and a giant banana ...

October 31st, 2012 ...
One year ago today we were united as a family in the same geography ...
Thankful ...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Random Weekend Photos

This past weekend Jason and Jack had "guys" weekend up north.  Samuel, the girls and I kept busy ... 

Saturday morning trip to the Apple Orchard to buy apples and see the animals at the hobby farm ...

Saturday "lunch" at Cherry Berry so that Samuel could redeem his reading program reward ...

Sunday treat after church ... Dunkin' Donuts just opened up here ...

We also made and decorated cookies, checked out the "spooky" decorations in the neighborhood, worked on Samuel and Lydia's birthday invitations, made a zipline for stuffed animals to fly down the stairs and just hung out ... oddly I have no photos of these activies, seems my photos are largely food related. 

It was a good weekend, and Jason and Jack enjoyed their time away too ... and, apparently they "forgot" to take any photos ... I'm thinking that they didn't want any incriminating evidence as apparently what happens up north stays up north.  And, admittedly, it's probably better that way as I don't want to know ... boys!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Carvin' 2013

Another first for Nora ~ pumpkin carving and painting this past week.  And, I love that Samuel and Nora dressed for the occasion (purely coincidental).
This girl is fearless in so many respects (while at the same time having some unexplainable fears like the cracks in wood planking / playgrounds), she just dug into the bowl of pumpkin "guts"! 
Jason, Jack and Nora are going to have to be the designated "scoopers" every year (the rest of us are happy to let others take care of that step of pumpkin carving!).  
Utilizing a technique learned from the cousins last year while we were in China, love that the kiddos have the memories of their time with the Grandmas and their Uncle, Aunt and Cousins so vivid!


On pumpkin carving day the LilyKids received a package in the mail, super fun trick or treat bags from Elizabeth.  Love that she surprised the kiddos and love that she so accurately pegged each of their personalities!
And, that was pumpkin carving 2013.

Monday, October 21, 2013

One Year Together

It does not even seem possible that one year ago today we were meeting our daughter for the first time. 
I can hardly believe it myself.  I look at this little stinker, and it is so obvious that she was meant to be ours. 
I look at where she came from, and I see her fierce bravery, her love of adventure, her persistence (seeing a trend ... seems each of the LilyKids exhibits this trait to the extreme) ... her beauty.  
But the Lord said to Samuel, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Love my feisty girls (and my boys too)!

Every day we learn more about life through our children.  Through Nora we have learned a whole lot more about overcoming circumstances, about patience, about unconditional love.  Nora has blessed us in so many ways.

What an incredible gift.  One year together ... 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Today my "baby" turns twelve ... I'm sort of in denial.  I mean this is it ... the last year before he is officially a teen, a teen!  (Although he has many teen tendencies already!)
So thankful to all be HERE together to celebrate Jack on his birthday (last year Jason and I were in China, anticipating the "arrival" of our sweet baby girl, no doubt though, Jack was loved on and celebrated in a big way last year and for that we will always be grateful).

We celebrated Jack's birthday with family yesterday. 
Hi.  I'm Heather.  And, I like themed birthday parties.  This is like the "twelve" (no pun intended) step program for me.  Jack confidently announced a couple of months ago that he did not want a theme this year.  
While inside I was cracking, I knew that my themed family parties for him may be a thing of the past, and I had to accept it.  He then decided on the type of cake he wanted and when asked what he wanted on it, he decided he wanted the UW-Madison W on it.  Cool (well, mostly cool since I am a Marquette grad and all).  Then he announced that he was going to wear a Wisconsin Badger tee and hat for his party.  Nice.  Kinda sounds like a theme to me!  And, since it sorta sounded like a theme I laid aside my Marquette roots and got the whole family in Badger red.
I wrote a bit about Jack here ... I am so proud to be his Mama ... no doubt that he has his moments (don't we all?) ... but, his kind heart, his smile, his persistence, his love of others trumps those moments.
Jack, you are a good kid, and we thank God every day for the gift you are to this family.  ~XO

Monday, October 14, 2013

Autumn Bliss {at the cemetery)

Sunday was pretty much a perfect day in my estimation ... crisp air ... but not too cold ... sun shining ... the smell of fallen leaves.  Autumn.  Bliss.  A perfect day for a family "hike" through the cemetery (the boys have been reminding us that we haven't had a picnic in the cemetery for a while so this was a compromise).  The boys brought a football that they tossed around as they "hiked", and the girls had a bag to gather chestnuts from one of the old chestnut trees.

When we were "shopping" for a plot (why can't there be a nicer word for that) while Owen was still full of life, walking through the cemetery was excruciating.  It was one of the hardest things we ever had to do.  I remember that day so vividly, a warm sunny day in May 2008.  We spent many Sundays at the cemetery in that initial year.  And, while it is still painfully obvious that a rung in our family ladder is missing here, we are thankful for the beauty that surrounds us and how we can celebrate life.

Looking at these pictures from Sunday, it caught me how others might it find it so odd that Lydia found a tombstone to sit on as she rested, that the backdrop of a game of catch and chestnut gathering is rows of grave stones, but look at the beauty. 


Crazy Boy - Jack may or may not have used the football as a weapon against the poor chestnut tree to get her to drop more chestnuts ... sigh ... boys ...

Hey Pinterest ... got the perfect chestnut craft for me?
Lydia was D.O.N.E. at this point ... that girl!
That's what He does, doesn't he? Makes beauty of ashes ... while the tears still fall, we are thankful.

Monday, October 7, 2013

embrace the camera {smiles}

Ashley continues to inspire.  I love how she captures herself in many photos with her children.  Because of this and because of a sweet friend who reminded me earlier this year that others see our beauty over our critical view of ourselves, I have been trying to capture more photos of me with the kiddos.  This week Ashley is doing an Embrace the Camera challenge.  Ashley was inspired to start getting in photos with her children when she came across the story of Aleida Franklin

In August 2008, Aleida writes "There is a reason why I'm posting these pictures. Pictures that I'm actually in. Not because I think I'm all that and a trip to Hollywood. No. It's because I'm actually tired of being worried about how I look and not taking or having very many photos of me with my children. I have very few pictures of me and my babies when they were babies, and I have myself to blame. Precious opportunities to capture on paper, lost because of my silliness. Well no more I say! One day I won't be here and there will be hardly any pictures of them and their mama. So ladies, hand over the camera and get in those photos! Please. You'll be happier you did."

One short month later, Aleida's life was cut short in a tragic accident.  As Ashley says, Aleida's story is one of power and heartbreak.  Aleida's life has challenged moms across the globe to get in front of their camera and not just behind it.

A few weeks ago, when picking up Lydia from school I did the hold out my arm trick and snapped this.   
Speaking of Lydia, thank you for your prayers and sweet words, Lydia's recovery is going slow, slow, slow!  She is stubborn ... I certainly cannot figure out where she gets that from ... poor little thing has just been so uncomfortable and not sleeping well.  But, the extra cuddle time has been sweet.

And, one of the boys snapped this photo of us girls, with my phone.  And, yes, Lydia is wearing the same shirt as she is in the above photo.  When she likes something she wears it A LOT, it is hard to debate her wearing this one as it is a Show Hope tee from one of Nora's fundraisers!
Friends, I encourage you all to get in front of the camera, you will be glad you did!  And, apparently I need to be more intentional about doing this with the boys too!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SuperGIRL & Audrey Bunny

Today one of our little SuperGIRLs had surgery - tonsils and adenoids out.  She was a trooper, so brave!
Walking into our local hospital is particularly overwhelming, we have only been there a handful of times since Owen's birth and each time the feeling is the same.  Today was no different.  And, in His timing, a children's book that I cannot wait to get my hands on was released yesterday - Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith.  Take a moment and read a little more here, so thankful for the brave way Angie shares her heart, which eloquently echos my feelings, and I am certain the feelings of many other Mama's who have lost children. 
I love how Angie speaks about the mark that Audrey has left on life, it is impossible to look around and not see the mark that Owen has left as well.