Poor M-Bean. He had so been looking forward to having his birthday, and the fact that it coincided with a grandparental visit only made the build-up more exciting, but then we were all struck down with the one bout of sickness we have had all year.
Everyone was out of action, and all we managed was this:
So it was great to be joined by Uncle Donna for some serious bowling when the illness was finally past. Of course, competitive younger brother Joel relished his chance to win, and promptly set about getting a strike, but I gradually overhauled him and sealed a parental victory. (You have to hold onto these moments when you can get them.)
So, it was delayed, but it was even better late!
The beach gave us one last hurrah before our move to Japan, and you wouldn't know it from these photos, but the ocean was still rather cold, and the pool was freezing due to a broken heater. Of course, the boys got around this by going back and forth to the hot tub to maintain a constant average temperature.
We have really enjoyed being able to take time out with Abigail's Aunt Tina and Uncle Jim over the year plus that we have been here in Florida. A visit to Cocoa Beach is always a treat.
The Tabebuia is blooming late (it's bloomin' late) this year, but the absence of flowers and foliage has only made it more inviting to climb ...
There I was, peacefully ironing clothes for our family portraits tomorrow, when suddenly, from across the kitchen ...
Joel: Mom, can you get me my money jar?
Me: Why do you want it, Joel?
Joel: I want to pay you back for ironing my clothes.
Me: That's very kind, Joel, but you don't need to pay me.
Abigail: Joel, Daddy is ironing them because he loves you.
Joel: But I want to pay you for ironing my clothes.
Me: The way you can pay me back is by being really kind and fun the rest of the day.
Abigail: Yes, Joel. You're a really kind kid. You could also help put the toys away later.
Joel: Yeah, but I don't want to do that.
Me: You'd rather be obnoxious and pay instead?
Hmmm. Homo Economicus rears his calculating head.
So many special memories of Matthew's birth eight years ago:
- When I was in my first trimester, I almost miscarried and had to take special medicine and rest to stop the contractions. I'm so grateful for Matthew's life! He's a miracle.
- Stephen and I were wondering what to name our firstborn--when he was in utero, we asked him what he thought of Matthew, and he did a huge kick. He considered it a rad name and so it stuck.
- I was waiting in the room next to the operating room before Matthew's C-section birth (he was Frank breech), feeling nervous about the upcoming surgery. I heard a wind blow next to me and into the operating room, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit heading into the room to prepare the way. I felt so peaceful and I think Matthew did, too. We were allowed to play music during the birth, and Stephen and I chose some instrumental piano worship music. What a sense of joy and peace we felt, waiting for Matthew's birth. And then he arrived! So much Love.
- Eight years later: Matthew's one lovey Bean! He's an abundant kid: abundant in Love, joy, encouragement for others, sympathy for others' hurts, learning, laughing, running, and riding his bike and scooter. Thank you, God, for M-Bean!
It was 8 years, 3 moves and 1 continent ago that Matthew exploded onto the world scene. Here he is getting ready to hoover up his birthday cup cake today. If you're wondering why we're all looking a bit under the weather, it's all down to the nasty cold we've been fighting here.
We still managed a song! Turn up your volume and sing along ...
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.