family currents: last call to summer

August began with a hot sun, though it didn’t hang on to the summer song long. We all seemed keenly aware this year that the changing days would soon give way to the start of school, and we savored the last of summertime’s fun.

Eva and William got to take tennis lessons through our township’s Rec and Ed. Thursday evenings were spent at the park riding bikes, playing in the play structures, or walking the trails while we waited for them.

Since our anniversary and my birthday were in August, we went on a couple outings without the children. We took lots of pictures and told them all about it, though : ). We are so blessed to celebrate 17 years of wedded bliss!

Samuel had a birthday. He’s 3!!! It’s truly the magical birthday age. He was very aware his special day was coming and couldn’t contain his long trains of questions, “And get presents? And blow candles? And my birthday? And get presents?”

We also went to the lake because if you live in Michigan, it is the proper way to enjoy summer. Of course, thunderstorms rolled in, and we packed up our encampment pretty quickly to enjoy a bowl of lentil stew at home.

This was the year of the frog. The children found so. many. frogs and toads! Cicadas, katydids (green leaf bug), praying mantis, and garden spiders also went into Samuel’s new bug box. And sometimes all at once. Not a good outcome for some. Nope.

This was also the summer we ran an animal rescue. Eva started the summer with a baby raccoon she named Boone.

And the three little girls found three baby bunnies!

We enjoyed pizzas on the grill most Sunday afternoons, and sometimes shared it with friends. Alexander would get pretty creative with the toppings, and Nathan grilled them to a crispy perfection. Our long picnic table makes for easy after supper clean-up, so we ate most suppers al fresco.

Nathan had bought a few large sky lanterns, and on the last weekend of August (while lovely friends were visiting), all the boys released the lanterns as a Farewell to Summer.

 with love, Damaris

Special Visitors

Being born and raised in Spain with all of my relatives still there, there are many ocean miles which separate my family! Although this wonderful technology allows us to talk regularly to my parents, my aunt, and my cousins, a visit from my parents is a celebratory occurrence. A couple of weeks ago, my dad and mom spent several days with us. Here are little snippets of happy days:

We celebrated my mom’s birthday simply, but not without enjoying a delicious carrot cake. Carrot cake has been her favorite as long as I can remember. No one can decide if it’s the butter cream frosting or the moist spice cake…or both…that they love the most – I’ll have to share the recipe with you soon!

Nathan and I went to dinner and a stroll through town on his birthday. Yayo and Yaya (my children’s names for my parents) put the kids to bed early so when we came back from our date it would be restful and quiet. Isn’t that so sweet and thoughtful?

The more time I spend with my parents, the more I realize how I sometimes underestimate their deep genuine care for their adult daughter. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I crazy love my children only because they need me so much now – will it always be this strong? I know it won’t fade when they no longer depend on me, though, because I’ve seen it in my parents.

How grateful I am for their commitment to persevere and grow in their marriage! They’re blessed to share 45 years together. Even though they’d acknowledge many mistakes along the way, with that time comes many insights as well, I’m sure.

I love to see Yayo and Yaya’s enjoyment of my children! Although many months go by between visits, everyone’s excitement, and love so obviously abounds when we’re together again. The kids need not a minute to warm up and pick up where they’d left off.

Before my parents left, my Dad encouraged me to take a few minutes daily for myself. “It will help you these days and in the future if you have 15 minutes of quiet and alone time.” His advice has helped me look for moments to light a candle, read a Psalm, add prayer requests to my prayer notebook, or make a new simple scone recipe without little floured helping hands.

Gracias, Yayo and Yaya!

with love. Damaris

And I Miss Him

photo credit: Eva

Moms with little ones understand that days can be long and nights far too short. Days are so full, and nights too brief to feel revitalizing. This is a reality that many can identify with (and some of you are identifying with as of last night!)

When the children were little, Nathan and I took for granted our freedom to converse during dinner, then enjoying each other’s company the rest of the evening. As many of you can appreciate, time and life have changed this dynamic…ever so slightly – Ever since we’ve had a table (yes, there was a time when all we had was a countertop!) Nathan would sit at the head, and I next to him. Now at our long farmhouse table, it’s that way, and it’s been this way since the beginning. These days, however, even though I’m sitting comfortably at my place beside him, I feel the need to raise my hand to have a chance to ask him how his day has been – and I miss him.

When people ask me: “What’s the hardest thing about having seven children?” I don’t really have much to say, although if forced to answer, my reply would probably shock them – not the laundry or the diapers or the grocery bill.

“I miss my husband.”

Sometimes it’s only a couple of trite questions I want to ask, and sometimes it’s truly a deep concern I need to share; but when Daddy’s walking in the door, all the little people long to see him as much as I do! I will wait while they cheer, jump-on, hug, and kiss – and I miss him.

For a long time now, Nathan has been encouraging me to let the children do dinner clean-up – and not me. He insists that they can do it, that it will be fine, that they have to start somewhere, that they’ve done it before, to get out of the kitchen! But I’m just not good at it. Slowly, I’m realizing that I’m not good at it, because I haven’t completely shifted out of the day’s hustling, yet. And I can’t quiet that little voice in my head that nags me to check for empty milk cups that might somehow have ended up in the fridge, or for shrimp left-overs safely stowed – in the pantry (both of these are true events – grrr!)

Since the evenings have been warmer recently, we have been eating supper out back under a massive maple. We sit al fresco on benches at the pine table. Tonight I am resolved – I will sit with him on the bench as usual, but I will allow the minutes to linger while I cherish the moments of slow. The busyness will be for the children (they have the energy, after all!) and mine will be the cleansing, not of the kitchen, but of the days’ pesky stressors. We will talk about vision and inspiration and just relax. We will have time to think and to listen, to breathe in the air and breathe in each other’s presence. I will be present, honest, and renewed.

My prayer is that this new habit will be recreated again and again!

And that’s my prayer for you too, no matter what your presence-plunderers may be.

After all, while our children have graciously become our overflowing joy and bounty….Adam and Eve were alone-in-the-garden!

with love. Damaris

Family Currents

The girls’ hair is getting longer, and we have some fun experimenting with braided buns. They are also more patient at my bobby pin stabbing . The braided buns are really easy, and they keep the hair out of the honey-coated cornbread. These hairbrushes have helped lessen the detangling tears.

When schooldays are shorter, we can be open to more creative leisurely learning. An atmosphere of exploration encouraged the children to seek beauty in art and in nature this week. The clean up is well worth it!

How many can you spot? Nature fills them and me with zest and enthusiasm. We praise our Creator for His glory displayed around us!

As you can imagine, the rooms in our home need cleaning very often – ha! But, in between deep scrubs, I love to use this to freshen up the bedrooms! I don’t know about you, but I feel more accomplished in my day when the linens smell good.

Photo Credit: Daddy

Nathan and I were so blessed when a couple friend called us the other week and offered to watch all of our munchkins, so we could enjoy some alone time. Baby Samuel agreed to chaperone. Oh, what a treat! And what a good example to us of someone ministering in their season of life. Their children are all out of the home now, and our friends graciously gave their time and effort (puppet show included) to care for our children.

with love. Damaris