Sampling as I go: dipping blackberries, strawberries, and crystallized ginger in melted dark chocolate for my three favorite Valentine-Beans.
(Side note: I dearly miss Seattle wild blackberries.)
Hey, you, friend: May you experience some wild, extravagant, holy, fun God-love for Valentine's Day, and every day.
Jude, verse 2: "Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!"
Hearing his mama sing along with some Christmas carols on Pandora, Joel said, "Do not show off your skill, Mom."
I just read King Hugo's Huge Ego to Joel, and before we started, he asked me what an ego was. I told him it's when you think highly of yourself and think you are better than everyone else. Joel said, "That's how God thinks of himself, and it's true, because he really is."
I asked Matthew if he had enough energy to go ride his bike, and he replied, "I have as much energy as Peter the Great of Russia!"
Abigail: "Oh, man, I broke my toenail!"
Joel: "You just need to put some more of that gray ink on it."
[I have silver nail polish on.]
Abigail: "Someday you two will marry some really nice ladies."
Matthew: "I've already found someone I want to marry. She was the teenager I saw at Starbucks last night who was wearing white. She's so pretty!"
Joel: "I'm coming inside to get paper to write that snake a ticket!"
He was angry that a snake kept slithering in front of their bikes and "blocking the way."
Matthew: "Happy first day of 2014! It's going to be a new year of daring adventures!"
Matthew: "I'm hungry. When's dinner going to be built?"
Yes, that's almost how long it's been since Abigail and I first met in person in front of Boots pharmacy at Waterloo Station in London.
I was thinking about that the other day and mentioned to Abigail that it would be really great to be able to go out on a date on the anniversary, December 28th. Unfortunately, it seemed like our family budget wouldn't stretch to cover this, so I just let it drop.
What I didn't realize was that across town, some people in Abigail's Monday evening ladies' group independently decided that they would like to help us have a date or two. Not only that, but one of them offered to watch the boys for us. And the day she chose? December 28th!
So tomorrow Abigail and I will be having our anniversary date. We really appreciate these ladies' help. What I appreciate even more is that God saw my desire to be able to go out with Abigail on that day and brought everything together so it would be possible.
He really is in charge.
So it's 2013 and where are the fushigi Munday family? Well, this year we spent Christmas in Orlando.
We started off with a candlelit service on Christmas Eve in which we contributed a family reading of a passage from Genesis. Last year, Matthew took over the whole reading when we tried the same in Seattle, so this year I made sure he got a good wad of text to chew on, and he did a great job. Joel, the advanced little reader bean he is, introduced the passage and I'm sure could have done more, but did a great job of feigning shyness.
Christmas Day had a slow start (no church on Christmas morning in the US, which is something that I am still getting used to) with a lovely breakfast and a gradual build-up to the main culinary event in the early afternoon.
Abigail's Aunt Tina and Uncle Jim joined us and were very complimentary about the food -- even to the point that we had to firmly resist their kind offer to take the rest of the Christmas pudding back to the beach with them.
As I write, the boys are enjoying making Snap Circuits projects with one of their presents. Another great Christmas together.
This year, for the first time, I prayed and asked God to fill my heart with his joy and sustaining Love to give me a smile on December 26 and beyond. (It wasn't some big fancy prayer, either--just a flutter in my hidden heart.)
And I woke up this morning at 6:30 hearing Matthew's insistent voice at the door, not necessarily overjoyed to be getting up at that hour, but with my heart filled to the brim with Hope.
It's a new Day and hey, it's only the second day of Christmas. We have ten more and a whole year of grace to carry us in Arms of hugs.
A year...and eternity.
Reading the second lesson in the lessons in carols service tonight: Christmas Eve. Matthew and Joel joined in with their parts as well and did extremely good reading.
We're all getting snuggled in for the night now and want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas!
Abigail's grandmother lives very close to us, so we are often able to pop round and say hello. Since church starts relatively late in the day, our Sundays regularly start with a trip to see her.
Today we dropped by with a gift presented by Santa and his elvish assistant, and a brace of impromptu Christmas carols which Mommee Melt really seemed to appreciate. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that she wanted to come with us to church, which was a bit beyond the scope of our capabilities.
When winter is as warm as this, you have a good reason to be out and about strolling around neighborhoods looking at lights. There's only 90,000 lights on the main attraction residence, which is well below the half million record held by a house in Australia, but is was still a pretty impressive show.
Then there were the two homes that had filled their garages with model winter scenes -- including flying Santas, multiple model trains, lighthouses, hot air balloons and all kinds of amazing details.
Matthew and Joel alerted us to this great view of the Space X SES-8 launch of a commercial satellite from Kennedy Space Center this evening. As you can see, the setting sun lit up the vapor trail with rainbow colors. We even saw distant dots of the initial stages falling away as the rocket sped away from us.
A message from Matthew and Joel:
We've got two zip lines for stuffed animals in our backyard, so please come visit. $1 per stuffed animal for one ride. We're going to raise money for homeless people.
Matthew: "This is the most delicious chicken I've ever had!"
Joel: "You can blame Mom for that."
Practicing nouns with Joel, I asked him to name some animals, people, and vegetables. Then I asked him what his favorite nut was, and he answered, "Me!"
Kimchi? Joel calls it "Momchi." Guess who eats it in this family?
Matthew, to Mimi on the phone on Thanksgiving morning: "Mimi, are you frozen in?"
Matthew, at breakfast today...
Biting into bacon: "Yum, pork pig!"
After eating his first bite of muffin: "Oh, my heart's dream!"
While listening to soft, gentle Christmas music during dinner, Joel said, "This is the kind of music that could put a hundred babies to sleep."
Abigail's friend, Pam, raises horses and was kind enough to have the boys over to help her take care of them. And ride them. These were two happy kids. Thank you, Pam!
Yes, this is the last post about this summer's trip to the UK. I'm closing out here with some last random memories of Marlow - the lock, a Victorian post box, grandma and grandpa's garden.
It was a wonderful trip!
I've got to get this summer trip all posted before we get to the end of the year, so here goes with the next installment.
To set the scene, we're back in July now (I'm sure the sun isn't shining so enthusiastically in Bristol at the moment) and we're stopping off with friends Paul and Claire on our way back to Marlow from Wales.
The place is Bristol, home of Wallace and Grommit, as you can see, as well as the Clifton suspension bridge -- a creation of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (with whom Matthew was fascinated while we were in the UK).
Paul and Claire have been friends of mine since we were at Birmingham University together. It's hard to believe it, but it's over 20 years now since I attended their wedding in London. Good to see them still going strong, and they now have three great kids who did a great job hanging out with our boys despite the age gap.