May 25, 2016

The pleasure is mine to say Zion is nine

For his ninth, we went to a local mall where a fantastical trampoline jump-around had been constructed atop the ice rink. That was a blast and a half!

He requested my mom's family recipe shortening cupcakes, topped with our favorite fudge icing. They disappeared very quickly.

It was a lovely group of chiddlers (as The BFG would say).

Jubilee hand-sewed this owl for Zion (a kit she received months ago for Christmas). Zion loooooved it, and name him Steve.

Gene spent his own money on these Lego knock-off buildable figures for Zion. Lego would be appalled if they ever sent a rep over here, to see what is being faked. Makes for a bountiful birthday, though!

A few days later, on his actual birthday, Zion requested a pumpkin pie "just like Grandma makes." Grandma uses the recipe on the back of the can of Libby's, so that is what I did. I remember requesting pie for my birthday when I was a kid. Only I always wanted lemon meringue.

Here is the birthday boy sporting his new Tiger's hat from Grandpa and Grandma.

And here he is making a wish.

Sweet Zion Daniel,


How do we begin to describe you? To express our thankfulness for you? I'm not sure, but I'll try.

Sometimes I find you reading your Bible to the bunny out on the veranda, looking down at her every now and again, to be sure she is listening. When I walk by you in the house, you often launch into me, wrapping your wiry arms around me and burying your dimpled face in my shirt. When someone is hurting, you break for them. When you have an idea, you sizzle and pop with excitement. You are polite and kind, funny, empathetic, and delightful.

And with each passing birthday, as you mature and grow, the little person who is you unfolds to delight us even more. The L0RD outdid himself when he made Zion Daniel.

All my love forever,

May 20, 2016

Moms beget moms

As a child I had a doll named James. He was one of those realistic baby dolls, if you know what I mean. Apparently they were something of a craze that Christmas, because when my parents went to buy one for me, the girl dolls were sold out. They had no choice but to bring home a boy. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

Well, I didn't play with that doll. I mothered that doll. James was a son of mine, as far as I was concerned. I remember a time when my friend came over to play and I sent her away, saying, "I can't play now. James is asleep. We'll come out when he wakes up from his nap."

Mother's Day 2016

And now I am mother to three little boys, and one little girl who's eyes disappear when she smiles.

Someday Jubilee will likely be living in another country - because she's a girl after my own heart - and she'll likely be sending me flowers on Mother's Day like the ones I sent to my mom this year. Aren't these gorgeous?! My mom took this pic when they were a couple of days old! Hats off to the florist.

My mom. Gosh I love her. This picture from summer '15, baking one of her famous blueberry pies in her kitchen at her condo in Zeeland MI, is one of my favorites. Everything about it. That smile-laugh of hers, which only a child can bring out (her grandkids are off camera). Her sleeves ever rolled-up on weathered arms saturated with freckles. Endearing arthritic hands, the bane of her adulthood, still gently rinsing berries, still pressing shortening into flour just enough, not too much, nor too little, for a perfectly flaky crust.

I'll never forget calling my mother from Kentucky the night I went into labor with my oldest. It was her birthday that night, her 53rd, and she didn't hesitate for a moment. Dad jumped in the driver's seat of the RV and drove my mom through the night so she could be with me when I became a mother. When the pain became too much for me, with my eyes squeezed shut, I could feel the warmth of my mom's hand resting lightly on top of mine. Her palm, worn smooth from the hot soapy water of domestic life, was a great comfort to me. She didn't have to say a word. I knew she was there, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

And now that wrinkly baby who made me a mother is an eleven-year-old boy, big enough to take me to the movies on Mother's Day for a 9:30 p.m. showing of Jungle Book in 3D. We screamed when the animals jumped out at us and marveled at the special effects, both of us appreciating a good movie when we see one. There is no other way I would have rather spent the last few hours of Mother's Day.

I am thankful beyond words for the kids who call me mom, and for the woman who showed me what it means to love children. To motherhood! What a gift.

May 09, 2016


The question came to my mind this week, as we said another tearful goodbye to another family we DEARLY love, Why do we say 'goodbye?' It isn't good, after all. It's quite terrible in fact. It should be called badbye, not goodbye.

A quick web searched proved helpful. Apparently, 'goodbye' can be traced back to the 1570's when the phrase, 'God be with you' was shortened to the contraction, 'godbwye.' It was later changed to 'goodbye' due to the influence of the common phrases, 'good day' and 'good evening' and such.

This came as a relief to me. Saying, 'God be with you!' I can do. But I don't think I can do any more goodbyes.

To whom did we bid godbwye this week? Tanya and Patrick and their five kids.  Five wonderful kids, who for the past three years have smiled, squeaked, sang, baked, and laughed their way into our hearts.

When we found out they would be leaving us this year, we knew it would be difficult for everyone. When you literally share the same wall as another family - something that my friend Darci in Arkansas knows about too - you form a special kind of bond. One that is built over leftover casseroles and coffee-cup conversations in slippers and robes. Middle of the night requests for infant tylenol, BBQs on the rooftop where the children play loudly, and the adults linger, in no hurry to retire to their prospective living spaces below.

Tanya is unlike any friend I've had. From her lovely Russian accent and pale eyes, endearing dimples, and waist-length chestnut hair, down to her sturdy shoes peeking out from under the hems of her flowing skirts, she is truly a special person to know. There is not a selfish bone in her tiny body. There is no pretense in her rugged ways. Always a baby in her arms, always a smile on her face. Only natural food for her brood. Only conservative curriculum for her treasured home pupils. I admire Tanya for so many reasons, and I will miss her very, very much.

And then there is my Eugene and her Emma. These two are cut from the same fabric. At times they quarreled because they are too much alike, but mostly they played together with great fondness and Emma will be missed dearly. And not just by Gene. I will miss my little baking partner. My reading buddy. My little friend.

Zion calls Sasha "Sash." I dare say she has been his best friend here.  She treats him with respect, something many little girls have lost the grace for in their dealings with little boys these days. The two of them played for hours and hours on the roof, in a world of make believe with their arms full of stuffed animals. Zion won't know what to do without "Sash."

And Tamara and Jubilee, well, these two girls were inseparable. They loved their tea parties and princess dresses just as much as making mud pies and turning over rocks in search of roly poly bugs. Jubilee hardly needed any other friend but Tamara.

So from the bottom of my heart I say, "God be with you, dear friends. Until we meet again!"
Dropping them off at the airport. Sasha giving me one last wave:(