Memorial Day weekend, huzzah!

Our holiday weekend was full of some of my favorite things: outdoor adventures, memory-making and family.

We started with a picnic Saturday along the Natchez Trace, followed by a hike that quickly turned into a hard-rain dousing, to the enormous entertainment of the youngest members of our crew.

 

 

 

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We came home, took showers, had a spaghetti supper and closed the day with a few holiday weekend fireworks, courtesy of Uncle Ryan.

 

 

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We spent Sunday at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, held at a real-life castle in Arrington, just a short drive from here. We ended the day hot and tired, but everyone had such a good time. We toured the castle, and the kids really enjoyed the junk food, the games and shops and the shows – pirates and Robin Hood, a knighting ceremony, birds of prey and jousting (the clear favorite).

 

 

 

 

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Memorial Day was lower-key, with biking and walking at the local arboretum, a little driveway basketball and squeezing in as much play as possible before my brother and the family headed home. I am reminded, as I sort through photos and look back over the weekend, that these simple pleasures, of family bonding and hiking in the rain, of cousins building Legos, riding bikes, rolling down grassy hills and waving sparklers in the dusk, of outings and memory-making, are all possible thanks to a very steep price. Others have paid for this life we live, and I am grateful. Those who have lost someone to service – including my mom, who remembers her brother today – deserve our remembrance and respect. It’s easy for me to type those words, but living it out, through a bone-deep commitment to the highest ideals and values that make us American – that is where the meaning lies.

Easter and Luke turns 5

This past weekend was beautifully rich and packed with family celebration. It began on Saturday morning with the remarkable SonRise pageant held every year on the campus of Southern Adventist University.

The weekend of celebration continued in the afternoon with a birthday bash for our very own Easter baby, my youngest nephew, Luke. The family gathered at the clubhouse in my parents’ neighborhood for Luke’s requested spaghetti dinner and Easter egg hunt.

Then came opening of the birthday gifts at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

And then came Easter Sunday, spent coloring and hunting eggs and eating pizza at my brother and SIL’s home.

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(Yes, that would be my son hunting eggs in a Rocket costume.)

The message of Easter is one of infinite hope, joy, renewal and life. As we spent the holiday weekend celebrating together, I was struck by how all of it – life and love, family and laughter and childhood joy — points us back to the God who gave everything for us and who continues to pour His gifts into our lives.

The “Oh, oh, oh” book

My mom learned to read with the Dick and Jane books. I learned to read with the Dick and Jane books. Corin’s first experience reading out loud was with – you guessed it – a Dick and Jane book. Lina recently went through a phase where she carried our big book of collected Dick and Jane stories everywhere, calling it the “Oh, oh, oh” book. (As in, “Oh, oh, oh. Look, Jane. Look and see.”)

And thus, the idea for this year’s costumes was born. We donned them yesterday evening for a fall festival at a church near us.

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Oh, Dick, oh, Jane, it was fun. Fun, fun, fun. But oh, Mother, oh, Father, were those kids ever tired when it was over!

Mother’s Day

This is perhaps the lushest spring I have experienced in Tennessee. I suppose it’s extra rainfall that has brought us this verdant wonderland. It’s been a steady succession of blossoming, from the daffodils in March to pears, dogwoods and cherries, irises and peonies and now the sweet smell of honeysuckle and blossoms I haven’t been able to identify.

Somehow, the spring profusion seems like a fitting lead-up to Mother’s Day, with its celebration of the women who give life, the nurturing they provide and the growth they support. I love Mother’s Day, in all its cheesy Hallmark glory. You’d think the experience of infertility would have soured the holiday. Instead, I fully appreciate the privilege of being honored with funny and thoughtful cards, preschool crafts, little gifts payed for with saved allowance, and delicious meals lovingly prepared by a kind and capable husband.

This year, I thought a lot about children whose mothers are missing. A recent experience with a little boy my son’s age has reminded me that not every kid gets wrapped in the arms of a mom who cares and is there in the ways she should be. I’ve thought, too of friends and family members whose moms are gone, leaving what must be an unfillable hole.

I am so grateful for the time I get to spend with my mom, and for the hugs I get from my precious kids. Corin loves holidays, and his excited Mother’s Day wishes continued all day. I did laundry and housework and got annoyed by the dog, but the time with family was the highlight, as it always is.

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No water guns in the house!

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The boys’ table, a.k.a. Trouble Corner

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My sweet mama

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I still have scars from where he stabbed me with a pencil – twice – but I do love that brother of mine.

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What better metaphor for motherhood than choosing the photo where everyone else looks normal?

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Who armed the hooligans?

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