Thursday May 27, 2010

Today marks the third anniversary of the day that my Steven and I covenanted before God and 90-some witnesses to become one flesh. For better or for worse. In some ways it feels like so much longer than three years. They’ve been pretty packed full. 🙂 But in other ways, it feels like just yesterday that I slipped into that gorgeous Cinderella gown, and waited for the veil to be lifted so my love could kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is better than wine. (SOS 1:2) Wow.

I was thinking this morning about how Song of Solomon (8:7) says that “many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it.” I feel like the rainstorms of our life are trying to quench us, and they are failing. Hurray! God is good. No matter how the storms may thrash, and no matter the floods that pool around us (trying so hard to cover our heads), our love will not diminish – it will only grow. Even in the downpours of devastating grief & pain. Because we are God’s. And we are one another’s.

My broken heart is far from happy today. But my heart is held by my husband, and that does make me happy. So very, very blessed. God is good. I am indescribably thankful for my husband. May the Lord graciously allow us dozens of more years together to celebrate His goodness, and to combat whatever rainstorms face us. Hand in hand.

I love you, Steven. Always.

Monday May 24, 2010

Gabriel doesn’t know the world stopped spinning five days ago. And so from his perspective, today was positively perfect. Magical and full of wide-eyed wonder. Just as it ought to have been.
And God is good.

Wednesday May 12, 2010

Mother’s Day

The men made our Mother’s Day feast!

The meal was wonderful! The best (and biggest) burgers, complete with herb butter in the beef and topped with lettuce, tomato, bacon, grilled onion, sauteed garlic mushrooms, cheese… my mouth is now watering, thankyouverymuch! We also had grilled corn on the cob, chips, baked beans, and an ice cream sundae bar for dessert!

Park day on Monday.

Gabriel loves running through the field, picking dandelions, and especially blowing the gone-to-seed dandies. So funny. So cute.

This was my attempt at getting him to smile, by asking, “Where’s Mommy?” and then “Where’s the sky?” 🙂

Sunday May 9, 2010

Psalm 113
Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!

Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!

The LORD is high above all nations,
and His glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!

I have learned that Mother’s Day is beautiful and bittersweet. The sweetness is lovely and fresh. But the bitter side of it comes from losing my children. From not being able to hold them. I know so many people who have lost their mothers or lost their child(ren) or who have broken relationships with their mother or child(ren). These are people for whom Mother’s Day is especially difficult. And I know women who are infertile; women who desperately desire to be mothers, but who struggle to conceive precious babies. I know unmarried women who desire nothing more than to be married, so they can devote their lives to serving a husband and children.

Who knew that silly little Hallmark holidays could bring such pain and anguish into peoples’ lives? Well, I do.

Did you know that Mother’s Day was created originally by a woman who was not a mother, in order to honor her deceased (and bereaved) mother?? Here’s the story behind it. Interesting how the holiday has changed over the years, but also interesting to see where it originated.

Anyway… my husband bought me some beautiful lilies, made me breakfast in bed, and has the table all set because my brother’s family and my parents are coming over for dinner after church ~ and the gentlemen are making the meal! How delightful. 🙂
Today I get to hold my sweet little boy on my lap. And I get to caress my sweet seventh baby from the closeness of my womb. And I have the beautiful knowledge that five of my covenant children are rejoicing in Heaven, all because they went from the comfort of my womb to the peace of God’s mansions. I get to visit with them in worship in about two hours ~ where my husband and I will sit in the heavenlies with our seven descendants yet again.

So I am prayerful and thankful and joyful!!
And eager to worship this morning with that attitude. Bittersweet or not. 🙂

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mother, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, and my friends.
May the Lord bless you in these beautiful & difficult efforts.

Sunday April 11, 2010

The challah I made for Easter dinner. So good! And I have a second loaf in the freezer. 🙂

The feast!

Playing outside and doing their first Easter egg hunt (with empty eggs, haha).

Did I mention that Noah & Hannah got handmade wooden carts for their birthday from Grandpapa? So we had all three carts, and let the kids have races together. Mostly, though, Hannah likes to be pushed by Gabriel; Pretty funny.

On an impromptu ice cream date with Mommy & Daddy after we went to the mall so Daddy could buy some clothes, and Gabriel could ride the escalators (over and over…) with Mommy. 🙂

Coloring, one of Gabriel’s new enjoyments.

Steven & I went on a date (the broadway show tickets were my birthday gift from him!) last evening.

Tuesday March 16, 2010

Today is my nephew Noah’s first birthday. It is also my niece Hannah’s first birthday.
Yes, the twins are one!
I made them these fun things for birthday gifts.

The crowns are my favorite, especially because Gabriel has a coordinating one. So I am envisioning the three of them playing dress-up someday, with two kings and a queen. Sounds like fun!
At any rate… now that the twins’ birthday has arrived, I am starting to think about Gabriel’s birthday. I know, I know — it’s two months away. But this mommy likes to plan ahead. I ordered his main birthday gift today, but I also want to make him a little something extra. I am going to make one of these felt “Happy Birthday” banners for the occasion. But what else? Hmm…
I’m thinking a Quiet Book is exactly right. It would be so nice to have during church, and other necessarily-quiet times.
Have any of you had Quiet Books? And even more to the point, have any of you made one before??
I had one as a child. This one looks very similar to it. I am trying to get ideas online, and was hoping to glean some tips or pointers before I start digging into the craft supplies. Click here to see five different themed Quiet Books; I am thinking it would be fun to incorporate some of the ideas from each of these that are seen here.
So anyway… if anyone has ideas or tips, feel free to chime in. Should I actually attempt and finish this project, I will share it with you at an appropriate time. 🙂 Just remember — I have two months!

Monday February 22, 2010

I wish I knew how to say “birthday party” in Chinese, lol. 🙂
My family party was yesterday after church at my parents’ house. We had a really nice time, and my mother went completely all out (what else is new?!) with food and decorations and making me feel totally 100% special.

Kids playing!

Food preparations underway – complete with two woks!
Beautiful, detailed, themed table setting! Completely black, red, white, and gold. With paper lanterns, an ivory dragon my dad got in Chinatown as a kid, chopsticks (and chopstick rests), authentic teapot & cups, etc…
Time to feast!!! The menu included pork fried rice, chow mein, bbq pork buns, potstickers, lemon chicken, sweet & sour pork, and jasmine green tea – all completely from scratch!! Super delicious & amazing.

Hannah just eating a piece of rice with chopsticks 🙂

Gabriel has an intense infatuation with buckles right now. 🙂

Noah was napping, but Gabriel & Hannah helped me open gifts. 🙂

Instead of a traditional birthday cake, I asked for chocolate mousse (not very in-theme with my requested Chinese meal….). It was delicious! Topped with chocolate-dipped fortune cookies sprinkled with red & black sugar. And served in a generations-old crystal dish.

Gabriel helping me blow out my candle. 🙂

Cute family!

Okay, okay… I mentioned that “I don’t believe in fortune cookies” right before I cracked this one open. Niiiiice, right? 🙂 Then Steven piped up, “But we believe God providentially ordained for you to get that fortune!” lol.

Tuesday February 9, 2010

Okay… so I know it’s a little early… but I got my first birthday present of the year! It arrived on Saturday while I was out & about, so when I pulled into the garage and saw the big white object with the colorful bow (more than two weeks before my birthday), I was surprised and excited. 🙂

It’s freeeeeezing! Okay, not really the funniest pun ever. But it’s a freezer. A big, awesome, deep-freeze freezer. Aaaaah. I can buy in bulk even more easily now. And we can eat a better variety of foods this way. And when I get into a baking mood (like today — uhh, yeah, so I made 25 cinnamon rolls and 16 pesto rolls!), I have a place to store things. Hurray! I spent a while during Gabriel’s naptime organizing the new freezer today. I think I like the way I’ve got it set up. And I’m itching to head to Costco, bake a bunch of bread, and make myself some more freezer meals. 🙂 And by the way ~ thanks, Mama & Daddy!

Proverbs 31: 14-15, 27
She is like the ships of the merchant;
   she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
   and provides food for her household…
She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.

And in case you were one of the folks who wanted to know how I made 3-Cheese Pesto Rolls not too long ago… I made them again today and wrote down what I did as I went. 🙂

MJ’s 3-Cheese Pesto Rolls

Briefly mix together:
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 1/2 Tblsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar/honey
1/3 cup Crisco/butter/oil
1/2 cup bread flour

Let it proof for about five minutes.
Then add 1 egg and an additional 3 or so cups of flour (I used 2 more cups bread flour, and a little over 1 cup of all-purpose flour).
Knead for about 5 minutes.
Let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled.
Punch down; roll into a long rectangle.

In a bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup softened butter
3 oz. softened cream cheese
3 oz. pesto (I make my pesto in approx. one ounce cubes and I freeze them; so I used 3 cubes)

Spread the filling over the dough.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Cover it all with a nice layer of shredded mozzarella.
Roll, slice, and bake on a lightly greased jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) at 350F for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!! 🙂

Tuesday December 29, 2009

I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting Christmas pictures from our place! (right??)
So here you go! Enjoy a glimpse into our Christmas celebrations!

While Mommy did some last minute Christmas preparations, Gabriel played by himself! This never used to happen, but he’s starting to do it a little at a time. Love it. 🙂 He has recently discovered building block towers and knocking them down. So cute!

A new Christmas tradition we have is for our Christmas Eve. The original idea was to have an hors d’oeurves dinner… but in reality, it ended up being Tapas From Around The World. What fun! We had Greek kabobs with tzatziki sauce; Asian potstickers with soy garlic sauce; Italian meatballs with tomato sauce; cheese (from Ireland and Norway) and crackers; sangria from Spain; Scotland-inspired sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes; England-inspired toasted cheese bread… and totally American Christmas cookies for dessert. 🙂 Yummmmm!

After dinner, Gabriel needed a quick bath before getting ready for the Christmas Eve church service… and Grandmama gave him a faux-hawk! lol.

He shared Christmas cookies with Grandpapa. His favorites are Great Grandma’s jelly thumbprints.

On Christmas morning we celebrated as a family, complete with Christmas jammies! We ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast before opening stockings, lit the Advent candles (Gabriel loves them!), then read & sang & ate chocolate – and then opened the rest of our gifts. What a fun time for us! Gabriel really enjoyed his toys… but only moderately enjoyed the unwrapping part. 🙂

I don’t know what Steven was saying here… but I think it’s hilarious. 🙂

This was the toy Gabriel picked out for his Christmas gift – a super cute little tractor complete with animals and a redheaded farmer boy. 🙂 Steven also bought him a miniature acoustic guitar – but I forgot to take a picture. 🙂 I think I was using the video instead.

This was what Gabriel did during the drive over the river and through the woods (which we *actually* do, you know!) on the way to Grandmama’s house! It was his last ride in his infant car seat. *tear*

The plethora of goodness at the country house. 🙂 Look at all those stockings! I think Grandpapa may need to start building a bigger mantle.

Sorry, Mama; I know you don’t like this picture… but I love how Gabriel was mooching off of Grandpapa’s brunch plate! 🙂 Next year let’s add hash browns. I love Christmas brunch!

The younger Bennetts arrived shortly after brunch. The three kids wore their matching outfits! So much fun! But they didn’t love getting a picture taken… this was the *best* of the bunch, believe it or not. lol.

Auntie M happily squished between the cutest niece and nephew ever. 🙂

Grandmama, enjoying her double portion.

Gabriel was uncertain about his stocking… so I got to open most of the things inside. 🙂

Lovely little Hannah.

Smiley Noah loved his new ball.

Everyone wore red on Christmas – except Grandmama who wore green. 🙂

Gabriel on his new rocking/bouncing horse!

Gabriel kicking back and trying out his brand new, awesome Britax carseat! (yes, it can still face backwards for a while – no worries!)

Our traditional Christmas dinner tasted soooooo good. The best it ever has, I think. I ate WAY. TOO. MUCH. And it was delightful. 🙂

On Boxing Day we celebrated Christmas via webcam with Steven’s family. It was great to visit, open gifts, and let Gabriel warm up a bit – although he still wasn’t quite as interactive as I’d like. I think he thinks the webcam is a strange sort of video. Although I can tell he recognizes Grandma Deb, even when he doesn’t want to talk to the video himself. 🙂

The thing under blankets is a wonderful classic red wagon! Gabriel loves it!! And so do we. 🙂 I haven’t taken a picture of him with it yet, as he needs supervised while using it. I’ll get one sometime soon. 🙂
He also got fun puzzles, a latch board, this sorting board (which he loves – especially the circles and triangles), a super cute shirt… you know, all kinds of fun things every kid needs. 🙂

A friend of mine sent a box to us, and she included a gift for Gabriel that her husband made! Isn’t it a cute little duckie? Gabriel wants to do it himself, but just gets it tied up. Someday. 🙂

Here he is leaning in to kiss the duckie.

Aaaaaaand here he is kissing his horsie. That’s what he’s into these days. Kissing things. No joke.
His books (mostly pictures of cows – I’m serious!), his toys, blankie, Dilly – yup, the kid loves to kiss.

And just because I’m so proud of myself for finally doing it… I added a couple things to the nursery today. I was given these adorable framed classic Pooh pictures over a year ago (a friend picked them up at a garage sale, and I had the perfect spot on the nursery wall for them), and just nailed them up today. And then this cute little G hook has been wanting to be a coat hook for months… and it finally got put up too. 🙂 So cute!

Thus ends the picture show for today. 🙂

Tuesday December 29, 2009

I love celebrating Advent. We don’t do much with it. Not yet. Someday when Gabriel is older (and has siblings on earth, we pray!), we will incorporate more tangible things into our Advent celebration and anticipation. Crafts and outings and activities and books. This year, Gabriel latched onto the chocolate routine with vigor. Next year I will add something. Thankfully I have eleven months to come up with it. 🙂
And something else for someday – celebrating the twelve days of Christmas, leading up to Epiphany. My husband smiles and shrugs (for now!) when I suggest it, but I think he’ll come around someday. I am eager to incorporate more and more of the traditional Church calendar into our lives in the future, especially with kids. Why should we live according to a secular calendar so minutely, and yet throw out the Church calendar?! It makes absolutely no sense. Unless you’re a pagan.
So anyway.

Dear Pastor Toby Sumpter has inspired me this morning with some readings.
You must read them too.
You simply must. 🙂
I got chills when reading one and tears when reading the other.
Read what he says about proclaiming Christmas to the old, the decrepit, the dying.
And then read what he says about living, resting, and truly doing Christmas with his own family.

Happy fifth day of Christmas!!