Preliminary Recap

We are still alive after one of the more exhausting days we’ve had this summer. I wish we had pictures of the sale to share with you, but as anyone who’s ever held a garage sale knows -this was our first! – everyone stays busy enough to make documenting the event in photos pretty much a nonpossibility. Add four children into the mix who need watching on top of hordes of folks trying to shop all at the same time, and you are busy, busy!!

But we are really thrilled tonight despite what feels like utter exhaustion. The benefit sale was a stunning success, and I do mean stunning, thanks to our many generous donors, lots of enthusiastic shoppers, and more than a few hours logged by the humble workers during the preparation and execution of the sale. Sandra is much, much closer to her goal than she was yesterday. The final tally is not quite in, so I will hold off on posting any totals. But we are grateful for how well the day went, despite an inauspicious and quite rainy beginning!

Our children, in between light saber duels and visiting with the other kids who happened along today, enjoyed a real lesson in commerce, as they operated their own lemonade and cupcake table. They served up treats and sweets in the heat with smiles, and did a great job counting change for their many customers. Young Nicolas definitely won the award for most persistent salesman as he worked the unsuspecting crowd for buyers, but they all three worked quite diligently, and at the end of the day, each contributed some to Aunt Sandra’s goal, and had leftovers for their piggybanks.

So…what a rewarding and fun day! And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to pop myself into my jammies, pour some red wine, and munch on a yummy dinner with my favorite guy (you know, the one in the marshmallow suit!) before falling into what I hope is a deep, deep sleep tonight!


Not much blogging going on this week…we’ve been a little preoccupied with other things…

* After a week of high fever, accompanied by a terrible cough, one of our cherubs has been diagnosed with not only pneumonia, but asthma. This is new territory for us as parents, and while we are not happy to learn about the asthma especially, it answers a lot of health questions we’ve had about this child for years, so in that way it is a helpful diagnosis to finally have.

* Our wood floors are experiencing “cupping” – not surprising after the record rains we’ve seen this year, but the issue may be indicative of other problems as well, so we have some serious investigating to do…and much of that under the house. Jay is so glad he purchased those disposable hazmat suits!!


* I am also spending lots of time this week helping my little sis gear up for a ginormous benefit sale to help her with her Team in Training Goal. We have received such generous things from many, many families and are in the process of sorting, categorizing, and pricing. Lots of fun, in a crazy sort of way…it’s been great to see Sandra almost every day this week as we work on this project together.

Maybe we’ll be back in a few days with pictures and a recap of the sale…

Matthew’s Baptism

Today, much extended family gathered to witness Cousin Matthew’s baptism. What a joy to see this sweet baby boy welcomed into the church. He is a delight and blessing to our entire family, and we are so grateful for him.


After the service, we were treated to a wonderful lunch, and had fun visiting with family and stuffing ourselves with delicious pizza. Baby Matthew was more than happy to pose for the camera…you can see his pictures, along with some other photos we took during the day here.

Welcome, Baby Isaac!

Today Abigail, Jonathan, my brother Peter, and I took a day trip to College Station, and had the joy of meeting our newest family member, two-day-old Isaac Davis. He is just perfect, and so snuggly – I forget how tiny newborn babies are, and what a sweet thing it is to hold them, especially when they are related to you! We were all so thrilled to meet Isaac face to face, and congratulate the proud new parents. Andrew and Jamison received us (and lots of other visiting family members!) with such love and graciousness, despite very little sleep for them in the past few days. Here is a picture of them enjoying their new baby boy:


Thanks to Uncle Peter for the much-appreciated adult company on the trip, and thanks to Jay for keeping our two littlest guys at home today so I could make the trip. Since I couldn’t post every picture we took while we were there visiting, here are several more shots of Isaac and some of his adoring fans.

The Price of Milk

As many of you are aware, the cost of milk is going up. Much to my dismay. I used to be able to buy a gallon for $2.00 at Kroger. Now, the cheapest I can find there is $3.50. For now, in our household, we buy two gallons a week: one skim gallon for Jay and I, and one 2% or whole for the three older children. Usually the 2% runs out a little more quickly, and they end up helping us finish the gallon of skim. We are already sometimes running out of the two gallons before the week is up, so sometime soon, I know I’ll have to up my quota a bit, and further increase the spendings on milk for the family. But that’s ok – I know we are so blessed to have milk to drink, and from what I read in an article recently (of course I cannot find it to link for my dear readers when I need it!) we were spending close to or around $4 a few years ago for a milk gallon anyway. So, I’m going to be thankful for the lowered price we’ve enjoyed recently.

But cow’s milk isn’t the only animal’s milk we buy for our household. While his older siblings drink more and more cow’s milk, Baby Josiah remains intolerant toward the stuff. It gives him terrible stomach trouble. When he became a year old, I had a very challenging time finding something his sensitive tummy could tolerate. After experimenting with lacto-free, soy, rice, various toddler formulas, almond, and even raw milk, we discovered a wonderful substitute: fresh goat’s milk. It is equal in almost every way nutritionally to the milk from a cow, and even better in a few key ways for little people, especially because it is more easily digested, and less allergenic than the stuff from the cow. Additionally, it is higher in calcium, vitamins A & B, and potassium than cow’s milk. Dr. Sears has a nice article on the nutritional breakdown of both milks, and a comparison between the two.

I have been grateful to be able to feed my littlest guy dairy fat and protein in this wonderful way, but it doesn’t come cheap. A little quart (that’s quart, not gallon, folks!) of this precious stuff costs me $3.79 – so even with the price increase in cow’s milk, I still pay more for a quart of goat than a gallon of cow. Thankfully, Josiah only goes through 2 quarts a week (I limit it, and supplement additional calcium and dairy via yogurt, cheese, and other mediums.)

But this week, I had a pleasant surprise: goat’s milk was on sale! ONLY $3.39/quart. Which means for the first time in months, I actually spent less on Josey’s milk for the week than for the milk that all the rest of the family will drink. I also stocked up as far in advance as I could, based on the freshness dates.

It is unclear to me whether goat’s milk will see any price increase in the near future. Personally, I hope it does not. The factors which seem to be driving the costs of cow’s milk up don’t seem to apply to the milk of the goat. But if my little quart of Meyenberg should go much upwards of $3.79, maybe I should consider the alternative of owning our own pet Nanny Goat!!

How Could I Forget?

Today we are especially praying for Andrew and Jamison, who at this moment, are in the hospital, and hoping to welcome little Isaac into their arms sometime soon. I was showing Nico the picture of Aunt Jamison in Isaac’s nursery, and this is the conversation that ensued:

N: Wow, she has a pretty big tummy!

M: Yes, well, that’s Baby Isaac in there.

N: And, Mommy: how does the baby come out?

M: (Thinking we have only a short while to get ourselves breakfast and in the car this morning, and there is NO WAY I want to start this conversation!) Well, I’ll tell you all about it sometime.

N: Maybe you should tell me now. Because….what if you forget??


Here are two images from the Lord of the Rings movies:


For some reason, I’ve been thinking about them. The first comes as the fellowship breaks apart and Frodo seeks to venture to Mordor on his own.

Frodo: Go back Sam! I’m going to Mordor alone.

Sam: Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!

Frodo: You can’t swim! Sam! (Sam struggles to swim then sinks into the water)

Frodo: Sam!!! (Sam sinks deeper and deeper. He sees the sun shimmering up on the surface. His arm floats limply as he descends into the water. Suddenly Frodo’s hand reaches down and grabs Sam’s wrist. . Sam tightens his hand around Frodo’s. Frodo pulls him out of the water and up into the boat and Sam tumbles in)

Sam (dripping and crying): I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise! “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” And I don’t mean to! I don’t mean to.

In this scene, Samwise commits himself to sacrificial love, which leads to a death and resurrection, in which he is reconstituted as Samwise the Brave. He is no longer merely a gardener, missing his home. He is now a warrior-gardener, and from this point forward he is largely portrayed as one of the warrior heroes of the story, even doing battle with Shelob, alone in the dark. In fact, this transformation is highlighted in the Two Towers on two occasions.

Faramir: Speak.

Frodo: We are hobbits of the Shire. Frodo Baggins is my name and this is Samwise Gamgee.

Faramir: Your bodyguard?

Sam: His gardener.


Sam: I wonder if people will ever say, ‘let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’ And they’ll say ‘yes, that’s one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn’t he, dad.’ ‘Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that’s saying alot.’

Frodo: Huh, you left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam.

It strikes me that this is a portrayal of what the first Adam was to be. Adam was to guard and offer service in the garden (Genesis 2:15 uses the same words as used to describe the priestly duties found in Numbers 1:53, Numbers 3:8, Numbers 8:15 and elsewhere). He was to be a sort of warrior-gardener.

In a sense, then, Jesus became the true warrior-gardener who gave himself up in sacrificial love. I’m thinking particularly of the scene on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus even sheds his own blood doing battle (in prayer) against Satan.

The second image comes from the climactic scene at Mount Doom, as Sam saves Frodo from falling into the lava after Gollum has inadvertently destroyed the ring. Now Frodo is the one about to drown (in a lake of fire rather than water) and Sam raises him to new life. This too seems to be a death and resurrection scene, although in this case the resurrected Frodo is no longer suitable for his world and ultimately travels with the elves out of Middle Earth.

Two additional passages in the Bible come to mind as these two scenes of death and rebirth, first from water and then from fire, are compared.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Luke 3:16

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:5-7

I don’t have any further thoughts on this parallel. Just noting it as it seems quite strong.

Our Nicolas


Today Nicolas Andrew (aka: Mookie, Nico, Nicolicious, Malibu-Nic — he tans easily, like the Malibu Barbie doll!) turns five years old. Like each of our first two children, he felt it best to arrive very close to a major holiday, thereby making the timing of birthday parties each year a little tricky. We hope to celebrate his special day tomorrow with family, doing some of the things he likes best. The weather is looking less and less like it will cooperate so I don’t know if we’ll be able to enjoy some of the outside activities we’d hoped to. This will likely ruffle me more than it will the Birthday Boy, though.


Because one of the great things about Nicolas is that he is fairly content and happy in most circumstances, especially when he is with the people he loves and who love him.


Nicolas is our most unique child: unique to our family, that is. The rest of us are admittedly a bit more uptight, and tend toward over-achievement in many instances. We’re all even a bit nerdy, you might say!! Nicolas has a personality that I think God knew we would need in this family. He is by far, the most comfortable in his own skin. He thinks he can do just about anything, but doesn’t come across as arrogant. He can make friends with anyone, and usually does. In tough times (in the life of a five-year-old, mind you) such as when he is picked on, falls very ill, or experiences disappointment, he sort of shrugs it off, gives a little sigh, and moves on with life. In a very non-five-year-old fashion. He is very trusting, and quite brave, in an almost-frightening way given how young he is. Most of all, he makes us laugh. He is so funny, and his often comical presence in our lives makes for a lot of humor.


Which I think God also knew we would need. God sent Nicolas to us as a wonderful surprise, at a time when we didn’t know we needed another baby, and for that, we will be forever grateful.


I wasn’t thinking this way though when I saw the positive pregnancy test back in October of 2001. We had just moved into a new house, I had a two year old and an eight month old, and Jay and I had already discussed a tentative plan of three years’ interval between our second and third babies. To say this third baby was a surprise was a massive understatement. Truly, to this day, we do not know how Nicolas was conceived. Well, I mean, we KNOW, but circumstances should have rendered a pregnancy impossible at that time.

But, regardless of circumstances and human planning, the first pregnancy test that I took was positive. So were the second and third, much to my dismay. One would think that a woman who had to wait over 18 (agonizing, at least to me at the time) months before being able to conceive her first child, and who experienced not one, but two miscarriages in quick succession before the safe arrival of her second child, would be overjoyed to see a positive pregnancy test announcing the potential arrival of a third baby into the family.

Instead, not only was I not overjoyed, I was panic-stricken. To my way of thinking, it was much too soon to consider welcoming a third child into the family. After all, I still had an infant to care for. I never wanted three children, aged three and under in my household all at once. Sure, we hoped for more children someday but not this soon. All I could think at that point was that I had prayed over and over for children, and really hoped for a houseful someday, and that God, employing some warped sense of humor had made the entire process an emotional roller coaster for me, culminating with Him “blessing” me with more tiny children than I could humanly handle at once.

Being a young, relatively immature and inexperienced mother, I envisioned a crazy and disorganized household in which children ran wild, and life was chaos. Our family calls ourselves Christians, but what sort of picture would the family in my wild imaginings show to a world in which we are called to be salt and light? I feared for our family’s future, I grieved for the lost childhood I was certain that Jonathan, our second child, was to experience, receiving another sibling way too soon, before he was even done being a baby himself. I had many dark and depressing thoughts as I spiraled into months of questioning why God was doing this. I was angry and frustrated with Him, and sadly, I generally remained that way for the majority of Nicolas’ pregnancy. My sweet husband can attest to the fact that I was not fun to live with during those months; being angry with God is neither conducive to an individual’s inner peace, nor to the peace and serenity of their family.

I tried very hard to present a brave and happy face to those I came into contact with, but inside I was panicking. The “helpful” comments of those individuals who constantly reminded me of my plight with statements like, “Boy, are YOU going to have your hands full!” and “Sweetie, don’t you know what causes this?” made me so upset. My husband’s assurances that God would not give us more than we could handle, and that my being angry at God would not make having this third baby any easier, but instead complicate the situation, fell on mostly deaf ears. I wanted to believe him, to trust that God’s grace would be sufficient, that He was the author and giver of life, that this baby was something to be amazingly thankful for, but I struggled mightily in those months leading up to Nicolas’ birth.

Providentially, the events surrounding Nicolas’ entrance into this world culminated in the best labor and delivery experience I have ever had. He was a week and a half late, and the only baby to not be either induced or delivered by planned C-Section. I still treasure the memories around the time he was delivered, and know this was just the first of many surprises and blessings God showered on me regarding this special child. I fell in love with Nicolas the minute I set eyes on him, and was so thankful for this third beautiful baby. But I still remember crying in the hospital as we prepared to return home, wondering how I would handle and care for three tiny children. Aside from some meals our church friends brought that first week home, there was no other outside assistance available to us as we adjusted to being a family of five.

But Jay was a great help and encouragement to me in the early days, and while he was home from work for about a week, he took care of Abigail and Jonathan almost exclusively, allowing me to focus on little Nicolas, and truly sleep when he slept, etc, in an effort to recover and gain strength for the task ahead. In those first few weeks, I truly cherished my one-on-one times with Baby Nicolas, and even waking in the middle of the night to nurse him and change him was a joy. It never felt as hard as it had with my two previous babies. I actually looked forward to those midnight and early morning feedings with him. And all I can think when I reflect on it now is that God was so gracious to allow me these happy emotions and precious times considering how I had fussed and fumed over what I was sure was going to feel more like drudgery.

Nicolas went on to be our easiest baby ever, in most every way. He slept though the night by three weeks of age, and continued that habit long-term. He seldom cried or even fussed, and he smiled often and giggled alot. I remember how Jay and I would look forward to our “Nicolas time”, which usually consisted of us holding our little baby boy and allowing him to smile, gurgle and cheer us in the way he managed to, even at just a couple months of age. His happy personality came through loud and clear, giving us a glimpse into the sunny and funny little boy he was to become.


Today our entire family and extended family is blessed with happy Nicolas.


Most people who meet him are charmed instantly by his sweet and friendly personality. And while he has some of the same struggles and issues as many five-year-olds do, yet in other ways he seems to possess a peace and calm that I only hope and pray to someday have. His sweet presence in our lives is an ever-constant reminder of the good gifts God lovingly bestows on us, even when we do not ask for them, even when we kick and fight against Him. Today, we thank God especially for Nicolas, our sweet five-year-old surprise, marvel at the little boy he has become, and look forward in faith to what the future holds for him.