Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rest, refresh, renew, re-invigorate!!

My husband's boss (who also happens to be friends with us) very kindly offered to let us borrow his cabin this past weekend to relax and recover from the wedding and associated craziness of the summer.  And boy, was that absolutely what we needed!! We did a lot of driving through the battlefields of Gettysburg, ate at a good old-fashioned diner (Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg), walked through the old railroad station and many of the shops in town, and enjoyed a lot of nature in the surrounding countryside.

Pictures from our peaceful weekend.........

The Lincoln Diner

Front of the cabin

Back of the cabin -- decks on all three levels!

Beach at nearby Laurel Lake

Another view of the beach and lake

Dam at the end of the lake

A large group of Mennonite girls were picnicking at the lake.  Nelson made friends with one of their horses (of course!!)



More wildflowers -- I have no idea what type of flowers they were, and all the ones I saw were growing in little islands in the middle of streams.  The butterflies LOVED these flowers  --  very, very pretty! 

An inchworm that decided to visit us

 A view of a creek and footbridge in Caledonia State Park

Outside of the ranger's station at Caledonia, there were several bird feeders.  Here's one of the hummingbirds hanging out at the feeder......

Gold finches at the other feeders.....

On Sunday afternoon, Nelson took a nice, long nap, and I decided to go exploring on some of the back roads of Caledonia State Park (i.e., unpaved, dusty and full of ruts!! yes, I was feeling adventurous!!)    I "discovered" the reservoir back in the center of the park -- gorgeous!!

Of course, we had to return to reality late Sunday night, and so now we're back in the swing of "normal" life -- but what a wonderful treat for both of us!!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Always check your kid's homework......

All I can say is ........ oh, my goodness.......!!
Check Your Kid's Homework

Here's the message the teacher received the next day:

Dear Mrs. Jones, I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in. 


Thursday, August 26, 2010

View the wedding photos!

I just heard from the photographer, and the wedding photos are on his website for viewing.  To see them, go to www.jbphoto1.com ; click on "Galleries"; in the box, type Stein; and then select any of the four galleries to see the pictures.  Enjoy!!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How quickly time passes....

With two weddings this summer and now Mackenzie flying off to spend nearly two weeks in Florida with her grandparents, I've been thinking about how quickly time passes and how quickly the kids grew up (or are growing up!)  In the midst of these thoughts came this writing from a blog that I follow a lot, and it really touched me.  I'm forwarding it on so you all can see it too.  Keep a few tissues nearby and enjoy.


I’m gonna miss this (revised)

posted on August 23, 2010

Have you ever been tired? Tired of children, tired of macaroni and cheese, tired of diapers, tired of sore breasts, tired of crumbs on your floor, tired of being asked to be held, just plain tired of being tired? I have. Oh yes, I most certainly have.

If you are a mother, I’d venture to say you probably have, too.

I had an experience that moved me a few years ago, though. It was an evening I spent bathing my children that very literally revolutionized my perspective on mothering. Longing to tell you all about it, I shared a similar version of this post a while back. And now that we have a tiny, helpless, amazing, sweet, grunting newborn in the house again, living in the moment has risen back to the top of my priority list. I rewrote my post and share this version with you now, because I am more determined than ever this fifth time around to constantly remember that I’m gonna miss this. I long for that awareness for all mothers. You see, remembering that little truth, knowing that I am guaranteed to look back years from now and miss this arduous time mothering young children, is making these very first weeks of having a newborn some of the most precious days I have ever lived.

I hope that my thoughts here might speak to and encourage some other tired mothers out there. (And, to be honest, I’m posting it as much as a reminder for me as I am for you.) Here goes.
I am frequently asked, “How do you do it? How do you stay so calm with young children? I would go crazy with five so little!”

The answer? I’m not entirely sure. Part of it is just how God made me, I think. I have long felt that I was fashioned to be a mother. The Lord knew before the dawn of time that my husband and I would be blessed with five children within the span of five years. And while I certainly have my faults, many of which you are aware of as I am not afraid to blog about my failures and struggles, I will say that I am pretty calm with our children. Patience is something the Lord has blessed me with, and I am so thankful. Even though that is true, there are also times in my mothering when I stay calm in the midst of chaos because, frankly, it’s better than the alternative. You know, the whole I’m laughing just to keep myself from crying thing. Yeah, that. A shrieking mama going ballistic over a slammed door, spilled milk or baby woken from his nap by an older sibling is not going to make an already stressful situation any better for anyone concerned. So, for the most part, I stay calm, trying not to escalate any already challenging moments. And believe me, our family has plenty of them. For some time now, my focus has been on attempting to be in the moment with my children as much as I can. I don’t always succeed, yet that is always my goal.

But how did I get to be this way? To have this kind of perspective?

As I said, a beautiful bit of inspiration descended upon me almost two years ago. Right during bathtime. It was an inspiration which changed my parenting from that day forward. I’m not exaggerating or being facetious when I say that keeping this one little truth in mind makes it as easy as apple pie for me to stay calm. Yes even in the midst of toddler meltdowns, preschool tantrums, that afternoon we skipped naps and went to Target, and the much dreaded witching hour.

In times like those, I can stay calm, being grateful for my children even when things are stressful, because I remember that I’m gonna miss this. 

Let me start at the beginning. It was dark out, I was wrapping up bathtime, and my husband was still at work. I was doing dinner, baths and bedtime myself those days. I can’t be entirely certain, but I’m sure it had been a long day with the kids. Most of the days were. Come to think of it, they still are. At that time, our oldest little guy was three, our second son was one and a half and our baby girl was a newborn. It is as clear as day still, this bathtime memory.

I was sitting on the toilet, hunched over the tub, preparing to get MckNugget out of the bath, sweating. Warm water and many warm bodies made our tiny bathroom, well, warm. Small Fry, too young to bathe with her brothers, was sprawled on the floor of the bathroom perched atop some towels that were possibly clean. And possibly not. She was sporting nothing but a diaper and a grimace. Big Mac was still in the tub; I hadn’t washed his hair yet. He was squawking to get out, saying something about the water no longer being warm enough, and Small Fry was bellyaching for attention. Or milk. You know, normal newborn stuff. For a litany of reasons, not the least of which was my utter fatigue, bathtime needed to come to a close. Pajamas were waiting; my pillow was audibly calling my name. I lifted Nuggey up out of the tub and wrapped my drenched second born in his green, hooded dinosaur towel. There was no sense getting worked up, at least on the outside. So I determined to stay calm and cuddled him in terrycloth while his siblings continued to whimper and whine. I slowly rocked him back and forth in my arms and sang Rock-a-bye Baby to my clean toddler. It was a routine, singing that song after I got our children out of the bath. We did it every night. One time through the song for each child.

As I wrapped up the song, I prepared to sit Nuggey up and attend to the deafening chaos that was the other children. After all, there was another boy to finish washing, teeth to brush, an empty belly to fill with breastmilk, diapers to find, jammies to slip on and beds to tuck children into. But as he sensed me about to right him, Nuggey tossed his wet head back into the crook of my arm and looked up at me, his forehead still glistening with bath water, some residual bubbles in his hair. “Uh-gain!” he squealed, his eyes twinkling.
Like the good mother I tried to be, I sang Rock-a-bye Baby one more time, but I told him firmly that it would most certainly be the last. My blood pressure was rising as the heat and noise continued to permeate the bathroom. Our other two children were giving no signs of calming down, and I was tired. Not only did I not want to sing any more, I was fairly certainly I physically couldn’t. Yet when I finished singing the second time around, Nuggey begged in his sweet, young voice once again for more.

I didn’t want to do more. My desire to be with my children at that point could definitely have been measured in the negative. As in, below zero. Less than no desire. I didn’t want to sing to him one more time. I was tired. Tired of children, tired of singing, tired of bubbles, tired of voices, tired of being awake, tired of diapers, tired of…well, you get the idea. Lengthening the day with any more singing was the last thing I wanted to do. But then suddenly, it was as if supernatural fairy dust was sprinkled from the heavens directly onto my head. A crystal clear glimpse of my very own future spread out before me.

All at once I knew that I was gonna miss this.

I was looking down at little Nuggey when this vision of sorts appeared to me. My son’s damp eyelashes, beautiful, long and dark, were batting at me. His tiny bottom was cradled in my hand, his soft, chubby legs thrown over my arm, his dinosaur toweled body entirely dependent on the strength of my tired arms as I held him in my lap. Yes, suddenly I could see my future. I was still sitting on the edge of the toilet, looking towards the open bathroom door. Nuggey, now a grown young man sporting a football jersey and facial hair, walked past the doorway down the hall, smelling of cologne and talking on his cell phone, waving at me as he walked by. It was going to happen. And soon. While I firmly believe that joys I won’t expect will also arrive when that time in my life comes, when our young children are teenagers and beyond, it still struck me like a ton of bricks. It was frightening, overwhelming and a bit horrific to me as a young mother. Tears began to fill my tired eyes.

I knew that when my children were grown, I was gonna miss this.

When Nuggey (or Big Mac or Stellan or baby Flurry or our sweet Small Fry) comes home from college, gives me a high five, asks for some money and then hibernates in his bedroom all summer listening to music, I’m gonna miss this. With that sprinkle of fairy dust, my future was shown to me in fast forward that evening. I was given the insight that my older self would give anything for 20 year old Nuggey to be a toddler again. Even if for just for one hour, heck even one minute, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I would love to rock him, sing and stroke his wet hair. But I won’t be able to. Once our children are grown, they are grown. There is no going back to toddlerhood, not for a day. Or an hour. Or a minute. I will have to be content with my adult children. I’m sure I will be and will look forward with much joy to grandchildren and beyond. But I am still positive that I’m gonna miss this.

And that night in the bathroom, years before the future I could clearly see even took place, I was being given my wish. Miraculously, I was able to rock Nuggey, a nearly helpless babe in arms, one more time. And then another time after that. And yet another. My world turned upside down as I began to see that the life I am living right now, the endless days that give me bags under my eyes and pounding headaches, are a dream come true. I am living a granted wish in reverse, and I finally realized it.

Given a breathtaking new perspective from which to see, I wiped the tears from my eyes and sang Rock-a-bye Baby as many times as Nuggey would let me that night. I lost count. As I rocked him, hot tears fell from my eyes onto the dinosaur towel. Eventually Small Fry found her hands and started admiring them. Or maybe she got one of her fingers into her mouth and started sucking it like MckFlurry often does these days. Big Mac grabbed a new tub toy and started splashing away, singing the ABC’s to himself. And more intensely than I ever had before, I relished that time with Nuggey in my arms. The love I felt for him at that moment, the gratefulness that he was still little, still with me, was so intense that it hurt. For now I knew then that soon enough he would be all grown and my arms would ache to hold him like a baby again. Even once.
Indeed, I’m gonna miss this.

My mind cannot help, now that I think about that evening again, but wander to those parents who have buried children. I have known friends who have experienced loss and have read blogs chronicling grief. Is there anything on earth those dear parents would not give to hold their children again, even for a moment!? In a million, trillion years they would not complain to themselves about having to sing Rock-a-bye Baby one more time, or losing sleep, or fingerprints on the glass, or peanut butter in their hair. Rather, I imagine mothers who have lost children would give their right arm and their left to be able to sit with their child and sing Rock-a-bye Baby until their voice was hoarse, their eyelids closing in slumber.

And women with empty wombs who pray and ache for children, yet remain with longing arms? What honor am I doing them if I take for granted the fact that I have children, healthy young children who are begging me to cuddle them, sing to them, build train tracks with them, come look at what they drew and listen to their jokes? For myself and those women who long for their own children, I decided that night to love my babies, not taking them for granted. To sing to them when they ask. And clean up their Cheerios without grumbling. Even to tuck them in for the seventh time in one night. Or seventeenth.

Right there and then, sweaty as I sat on the edge of the toilet in the bathroom that night not so long ago, I vowed to try my best to be ever thankful for the moments I do have with my children. Oh Lord, help me not wish away their young years, always hoping to get more laundry done or other children dried off. I desire to not live my mornings only for the hope of naptime, my afternoons with just bedtime in mind. I will relish each kiss, hug and song; I’ll let dishes pile up because I was asked to play Chutes and Ladders. I will teach our little ones to pick up their toys, even if it takes months of reminders. By wiping bottoms, telling the story of Jonah and the whale just one more time, smelling MckFlurry’s newborn head, kissing booboos (even pretend ones) and playing house, I will leave their childhood behind with no regrets. For I desire that no “I love you” is left unsaid, no cheek remains unkissed, no request to “Cuddle wif’ me!” will ever be turned down and no child awakened by a thunderstorm will be turned away from our bed. Even as the fish sticks with tartar sauce fly and the Sharpie stains our kitchen table, when there are 3 am blowouts and caked Desitin under my fingernails, as I am awakened every three hours around the clock to nurse our newborn and my body carries around more baby weight than I fear I’ll ever be able to get rid of, I know now that…

…I’m gonna miss this.

~~Jennifer McKenna 


Funny announcing during a horse race!

This is just FUNNY!!  You'll have to read the article and watch the video link to appreciate this one!  Enjoy!



Sunday, August 22, 2010

The first pictures of Morgan and Solomon's wedding!

I'm slowly recuperating from all the planning, organization, and busyness surrounding the wedding.  I had planned to start posting pictures in another day or two, but even as tired as I am, I can take a hint!!  I just looked at my "site meter" and apparently a LOT of people have been checking in to the blog to find out about the wedding.  They may not post replies very often, but they're definitely checking in!!  So without further ado, here are some photos of the day.  Many of these are actually "stills" taken from the video our videographers took, so they are a bit grainy and fuzzy, plus they've not been edited yet; others were taken by friends, so not always the best quality, but definitely beautiful, nonetheless.  When the professional pictures start showing up (probably around Wednesday), I'll make sure to post those or a link to them.  In the meantime, enjoy these!!

The musicians in the string quartet & pianist

View down the aisle as the guests gather

Beginning the walk down the aisle with her dad

It's a loooong way down that aisle....

Finally reaching the front of the church

Prayer to begin ceremony; soloist Mark Cobb waiting behind minister to sing

After a message to the couple by Pastor Sebek and taking of vows, rings were exchanged.  Unfortunately, Solomon had been holding Morgan's hands so tightly, her fingers were starting to swell, making it difficult to get the ring on!!

Finally, SUCCESS!!!  Yesssss!!!  High five's all around!  It made everybody laugh!!

"I now pronounce you husband and wife......"

"You may kiss your bride!"

So happy!

One of my favorite pictures of the day that I've seen thus far, taken by my friend, Toshi Baer! You can see a lot of the flowers -- and look at the smiles!!

Walking back UP the aisle seems so much faster!!

Morgan's friend, Becki (co-maid of honor) escorted by Daniel (co-best man)

Morgan's friend, Georgi (co-maid of honor) escorted by Zak (co-best man)

Friend Diana (bridesmaid) escorted by Erich

Bryanna (sister/bridesmaid) escorted by Nelson (brother/groomsman)

Friend Shelagh escorted by friend Will

Sister/jr. bridesmaid Mackenzie, escorted by jr. groomsman Daniel

Flower girl Joy escorted by ring bearer Matthew
Mother of the bride (me!!) escorted by my son Nelson, followed by husband Nelson

Laura (mother of groom) escorted by Erich and followed by David (father of groom)

My mother Norma (Morgan's grandmother) escorted by Daniel, followed by my father Ben

Mackenzie and Daniel entering the reception

Morgan and Solomon entering reception

First dance together as husband and wife

Wedding cake (made by me!! yikes -- was I CRAZY???)

And that's all the photos for now.  I'll share more when they become available.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Morgan and Solomon's special day!

Monday, August 16, 2010


You know you're a musical person when something happens in your life and automatically some song (or song title) pops into your head!!  It seems to be happening a lot with me lately.....

So today's theme song, "Changes", just seemed appropriate.  Good changes, bad changes, middle-of-the-road changes -- that's been my day.  Good change -- the kennel where I REALLY wanted to board my dogs called with an opening -- YIPPEE!!  Bad change -- Morgan woke up with a migraine and has been absolutely useless today.  Middle of the road changes -- my dad REALLY doesn't want to do the MC'ing at the reception; however, he's willing to help make sure my brother CAN get to the wedding (car transportation was in doubt!!), and if he comes, HE can do the MC'ing!  Change of an unknown status -- the friend who's supposed to be providing the sound system for the reception (music and microphone) was supposed to be back in town from an extended vacation last week.  However, he's STILL gone and will "probably" be back on Wednesday??!!  Yikes.......  Please, please come back, Peter!! 

Another change -- the gal who's doing the dress alterations was supposed to do Bryanna's alterations today; however, she ended up in Rehoboth Beach for the weekend and won't return until tomorrow -- so fittings will be done tomorrow evening.  She assures me that's "plenty of time" for her to get the dress done.....  I hope so!!!

But I am NOT going to let all of this worry me.  I just found out yesterday about a family we know whose daughter got married in Colorado a few weeks back.  Talk about changes!!  Apparently, the CATERER got the dates mixed up, and no food arrived for the reception -- just the cake and the drinks!!  So I've been telling myself that if they can survive THAT kind of problem with grace and a good attitude, I can deal with all these little annoyances. 

Breathe, relax, breathe, relax......... just a few more days!!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Changes, chaos, craziness.....

This last week (two weeks before the wedding) has been nothing short of chaos.  We had all sorts of plans for things to get done, and then found out Monday that Nelson would be leaving Wednesday for a three day business trip to New Jersey.  Sigh..... not a great way to start the week!

Because Morgan and Solomon's insurance situation after the wedding is still a bit unknown, we decided it would be a good idea to just hurry up and get a good dental cleaning, get three months' worth of any prescriptions filled, maybe an eye exam -- just get all the bases covered.  On Monday, I took her to the dentist.  Now, Morgan is the kind of kid who's always been pretty meticulous about her teeth.  She brushes, she flosses, she drinks more water than probably the rest of the family put together, and she very much limits soda, coffee and tea intake, so her teeth are usually better than anybody else's.  She hasn't had a cavity in YEARS -- until this visit...... sigh....... there were THREE of them!!  How?  We don't know -- very strange to us -- but there they were.  So we made an appointment on Wednesday to come back and get all three fillings done at once.  By Wednesday night, she was hurting; by Thursday AM, she was in agony.  Yikes -- please don't tell me she's going to need a root canal!!  So we made ANOTHER appointment for Friday AM, and went in to the dentist with fear and trepidation.  Thankfully, THANKFULLY, it appears that the filling on the bottom tooth was just too high and when she would bite down, it would cause extra pressure.  The dentist was able to grind off a portion of the filling, and thus far, it seems like the pain is gone!  YAY!!

I forgot to mention, though, that on the way to the dentist on Friday, I was sitting at a stop light in front of a police car.  As I pulled forward, on came the police woman's lights to pull me over!!  Huh??  What did I do?  I certainly wasn't speeding -- I was stopped at the light!!  Quick mental check -- I know the license plate is current; maybe somebody stole them overnight?  What else could it be?  After doing the mandatory "License and registration, please, ma'am", she says "Do you know that your rear brake light is burned out?"  Uh, no -- how would I know that unless somebody TOLD me??  Thankfully, she only wrote a warning, then sent us on our merry way to the dentist.  We had to call them and tell them we'd be a few minutes late since I'd been pulled over -- I got a fair amount of good-natured teasing about that at the dentist's office!

Additionally, one of the prescriptions we tried to fill was rejected.  Turns out it's been almost a year since Morgan had visited the allergist, so they wouldn't refill it without an office visit.  That ended up being Thursday's errand.  That was an easy in-and-out visit, which was good, because I don't think either she or I could've stood one more complication this week!!

I was able to find a kennel to board the dogs for the days surrounding the wedding.  There will just be too many people and too much chaos to have the underfoot for those days -- not to mention that we really don't want to deal with dog hair and dog drool on wedding dresses!!

The one thing I HAVEN'T been able to come up with is a full-sized passenger van.  I was really hoping to rent one, since we'll have so many extra people to be moving around next week.  But it appears they are all rented out.  Hertz, Alamo, Enterprise, Avis, Thrifty, Budget -- you name it, I called it -- and there are just none available!!  Maybe we'll rent a mini-van instead??

The guy who's been working on our wood floors came out this week to finish the installation of the trim and the last three stair treads.  He needed to complete the trim around the floor edges as well.  He got the trim done; unfortunately, the stair treads we needed were not available for him to pick up -- so we've still got one set of stairs only halfway done!!  But the flight of stairs that goes from the foyer up to the first floor look great.  Nelson was able to stain those this week and put the first coat of polyurethane on them.  It makes me feel good to know that I don't have to be so worried now about those steps getting wet or stained; they're at least partially protected now.  After the wedding's over, we'll try to get a few more coats on there, but for now, it's good enough.

And the bachelorette party -- which is all the girls getting together for food, talk and "chick-flicks" somehow mysteriously ended up being held in MY HOUSE today -- and I didn't find out about this until YESTERDAY???  Uh, seriously, ladies??  You think I don't have enough to do already??  OK..... what's a bit more chaos when you're already completely upside-down???

Bryanna flies in from Texas tonight.  Originally, she told me she'd be in around 8:30 or so; yesterday she realized her flight actually arrives around 4:45 -- and the party starts here around 3:30.......  It's gonna be interesting -- how many places can I be at once??

This is going to be a long, long week!!!!


Monday, August 2, 2010

"Showered" with gifts!

Several of Morgan's bridesmaids (Diane, Georgi, and Becki) threw her a beautiful bridal shower yesterday.  It was so very, very nice and a lot of fun; the girls put a lot of work into it.  And I'll just go straight to the photos, since I know that's the part everyone wants to see anyway!  (Especially you, Grammy!!)

Nanette Jefferies and Frannie Miller chatting at the punch and cake table

Morgan talking with friends

Nancy and Liz Clash talking with Sarah Llewellyn

Laura Stein (groom's mother) talking with ladies from our church

Angela Toner and Michelle Krout talking with Mary Fisher (Morgan's aunt)

In the "Seat of Honor"!!

Becki Prentice (co-maid of honor) giving instructions for the first party game

Morgan enjoying a laugh with Georgi Spilman (co-maid of honor)

Diana Jefferies (bridesmaid)

Then came the "Toilet Paper Bride", where each team had 10 minutes to "design" a wedding dress on their model -- in this case, on Mackenzie Llewellyn (bride's sister/jr. bridesmaid).  At the end, Morgan would select the winning design.....

And the second team, working on Katie Prentice's dress.....

..... while our team started a veil and decorative flowers on the back of the "dress"!

Continuing on the dress....

Michelle Krout being decorated for the third team! Look at her lovely "string of pearls"!!

And the winner was -- Katie Prentice and team!!

Then Morgan began opening gifts, while Diana recorded them in her laptop!!  Much more up-to-date than the old steno pads we used to use!! First gift, from Victoria's Secret......... (oooooooo-la-la!!)

A negligee!!!

And then another!!  (slight embarassment!!)

On to more "practical" items.....

..... and then another negligee!!!

Napkin rings being modeled by bridesmaids and Morgan!!

And finally, the bouquet of ribbons to be used at the rehearsal, complete with net "veil"!!

All the wedding party members who were present at the shower -- (L to R):
Becki Prentice, co-maid of honor
Mackenzie Llewellyn, Jr. bridesmaid
Georgi Spilman, co-maid of honor
Morgan Llewellyn, bride-to-be
Diana Jefferies, bridesmaid

Hope you enjoy the pictures!!  We certainly enjoyed our wonderful afternoon!!