Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pretty things...

Several weekends ago, Gracyn and I went on a ladies retreat with about 17 other women from our church. We all stayed together overnight in a cabin at Camp Cherith in Nunda, NY. We were together about 24 hours and just had so much fun. I really got to know the ladies a lot better. We played a game where we each listed an obscure fact about ourselves. I think that out of the 17 women, I only knew about 6 of the facts. I was shocked because I really thought I knew these women well. Later, we played another fun game, "Imaginiff", which I will be adding to my Christmas list.

Gracyn was a little sweetheart the entire duration of the retreat, and I don't think she even cried once. The weather was perfect...Indian summer! We even enjoyed a visit to Letchworth State Park, which was only 15 minutes away and holding their annual Arts and Crafts sale. I was able to get a Christmas gift and birthday gift, which was great. The scenery was just spectacular in the southern tier, where we were. The campgrounds were just loaded with beautiful trees, rolling hills, forests, and this beautiful pond you see in the pictures above. My favorite picture is the forest reflecting off the pond. Its almost hard to tell where the forest begins and the pond ends. It was great to sit in that swing beside the waters edge and just enjoy the view. I even got to see either a turtle or fish repeatedly surface. And of course, another "pretty thing", my Gracie.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First tastes....

Yesterday, October 22nd, was Gracyn's 6 month birthday. Is that possible? On the one hand it feels like she has always been a part of our family, but on the other hand I can still feel her warm, sticky, heaviness as they plopped her on my belly just after birth. Our lives will never be the same. She's so much fun. I think that I have always been a fairly relaxed mom, but with Gracyn I have progressed to enjoying my children more. They are less "work" to me now, because I have learned to enjoy the journey so much more. Its not that I didn't enjoy the other kids...hardly! Its more like I've finally come into my own and realized that being a mommy is one of those things I was created to be, so I embrace it fully.

With Gracyn, I decided to wait until 6 months of age before introducing solids. Both Rylee and Noah began at 4 months, but I knew that nursing was meeting all of Gracie's needs, so we waited a bit. I know she is definitely ready, though. The last month she has been trying to grab utensils out of our hands, reaching for our glasses, etc. Last night, on her 6 month birthday, we tried some cereal out on her. She was very eager, and managed the food really well, but you can tell the taste was just so different than what she is used to. She would open her mouth, take a bit off the spoon, let it sit on her tongue, then shudder wildly. It was hysterical. The faces were so entertaining. Matt and I and the kids were all laughing. Sorry about the closed eyes in some of the pictures, but you would blink too if you had a flash going off every other second.

Gracyn's personality is still easy going, laid back and super happy. She generally has one mood: Happy! She smiles non stop. She even stops nursing just to look at me and flash me a giant smile, then she'll go back to nursing. She loves attention and being held (what baby doesn't?). She already knows to react differently with different people. For instance, when Matt gets home from work, he scoops her up and she immediately starts "playing" and gently hitting his face and smiling. I think it must be a baby girls version of wrestling. With me, she tend to just smile and snuggle. With Rylee and Noah, she flashed these quick, engaging smiles to them that just beckons them to come play with her. She now says, "mama" with regularity. I think she even knows what she is saying because when she is tired or hungry, she'll cry "mama" over and over. Last week she started saying, "Hi!". Its not just any "hi", but rather a high pitched, drawn out "Hiiiiiiii!!", complete with hand wave. Imagine yourself saying "Hiiii!!" to a baby, and this is how Gracyn does it. Its pretty funny.

Gracie had definitely worked herself so completely into our hearts and lives that we just could not imagine our life without her. Happy 6 month Birthday, little one!


Wow! You must read what Randy Alcorn wrote about on his blog yesterday:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I was tagged!

I WAS TAGGED! And I have no idea how to include the image of the rules and link to other people's blogs, etc. So, here goes, minus the links and rules. (By the way, anyone is welcome to try and teach me how to do the above if they feel inspired to. I know you tried once Carole.)

I was tagged by Carole. These are always a fun way to learn about people. Unfortunately for me, I'm a pretty "open book" which means its difficult to think of new things to include, but I'll try.

Seven random or weird facts about myself:

1) I absolutely LOVE tropical punch kool aid. Call me a kid. I know its probably terrible for me with all that red dye and sugar, but I pretty much never tire of it. I even try to limit keeping it in the house because then I want to drink it. Yes, I do have self control, but still...

2) Ditto that thought regarding cream filled doughnuts. Not the pudding stuff or "Bavarian", but the sickening sweet, white, frosting type filling. Once, again, they cannot be in the house or I'm a goner.

3) I spent a large portion of my Monday in the Dr's office in severe lower abdominal pain. Around 11:00 I felt a cramp like sensation, then within minutes I couldn't even stand up straight I was in so much pain. My arms and face went numb, like I was going to pass out. I was on the couch writhing and moaning from the pain (this from a person who had an almost 11 pound baby with zero drugs and rarely makes a peep during labor). Upon arriving at the Dr's office, the pain began to lessen, but my abdomen was very sensitive to touch. I was sent for a special ultrasound which revealed that I was perfectly healthy. I think that it was strange occurrence that prayer took care of. (For those that are interested, they were able to rule out kidney stones, tubal pregnancy and ovarian cyst)

4) Chances are, if my feet are cold, the rest of me is too! I tend to get chilled quickly and take a long time to warm up.

5) I don't mind "doing" the laundry. Its just the folding and putting away that gets me.

6) I thoroughly enjoy nursing. I guess it gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that my body is doing what it was created to do...nourish a child. And I know Gracie enjoys it ; )

7) One of these days I would love to have a mini orchard in my back yard. Complete with apple, pear, peach, cherry, and plum trees. As well as assorted berry bushes (although I already have some of them), and strawberry plants and grape vines. I also really wish kiwi and lemons could grow in our NY climate, but they don't.

Hmmmm.... I tag Jen B., Hannah, Jewel, Amy Jo (if you are reading this) and that's about it. Although I have people reading this blog, most don't have their own blog so I cannot tag them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Concord Grape Juice

In my post last night I mentioned that we picked Concord grapes from our neighbors grape vines. He has more grapes than he can use and year after year he invites us to come pick to our hearts content. We are more than happy to oblige, especially after he told us about how his late wife and his daughters make juice. First, I just have to say that grapes must be one of the easiest fruits to pick. There are no thorns, you are picking right in front of you, not reaching above, and they come in beautiful clusters. The smell is amazing. I think my Nana must have had concord grapes at her house one time and allowed me to try them because every time I smell or taste a concord grape I am immediately transported back to 8 years old, or so.

Better than Welch's Grape Juice

Pluck grapes from stem and wash. Fill a 1 quart canning jar half full. Add 1/3 cup or so (depending on your tastes)of sugar. Fill almost to the top with tap water. Put lid and band on and tighten. Process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool. Enjoy.

That's it! Its so simple yet is so delicious. I forgot to mention that you do have to strain this before serving. We usually just use the lid to strain the grapes and seeds as we pour the juice out of the jar. Its healthy and delicious.

For the record, my kids absolutely LOVE making juice. Even Brock said in a sweet voice, "Thanks for letting me make juice, Jenny!" How sweet is that? I'm not even entirely certain why, I just know that Noah will sit for 1 to 2 hours plucking grapes for me, which not one complaint. Rylee, knows the entire process of juice making and does about 95% of it herself. She knows how many grapes, how much sugar, how much water, how to wipe off any sugar around the top of the jar, etc. I think the only thing I'm needed for is actually processing them. Noah has been begging since Saturday to make more juice. Maybe today I'll make his wish come true : )

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A fun, Fall day...

Yesterday was a fun day with the kids. It was one of those sunny, but crisp fall days. Friday night was the wedding of one of my friends that I have known since I was 13. She made a beautiful bride. I forgot to bring my camera, thus no pictures. My sister kept the 2 oldest kids overnight, so yesterday started with us sleeping in, then heading out with Gracie to breakfast. It was really nice to talk and not have to cut food up for little people before eating, although I would only want that break for a short time before I wanted to be Mommy again : ) We brought back both our kids as well as my sisters kids. We asked our neighbor friends to join us picking grapes from a different neighbor down our street. Tabitha, Peter and Emma helped pick grapes, then we came back to our place to make scarecrows. We hunted up some old clothes and the kids started packing them with hay. It was messy, but fun!
Tab's scarecrow looks almost real in this picture. She's in the flannel jacket. And there is our dog, Molly...always hanging out wherever we are. She's just content to be near us. What a sweet dog.

The kids are packing this shirt full of hay. We used a pumpkin for the scarecrows head and even put a hat on him. He really looked like a farmer with his denim overalls, plaid flannel shirt and hat. Would you believe after making him and setting him up on an old milk can that I forgot to take a picture? I'll have to remember to do that tomorrow (its dark out now).

After setting up the scarecrow, I cleaned up all the hay, and even cleaned up all the dead plants from the majority of our flower gardens that border our house. It felt so productive to get all that stuff done, yet we still did fun stuff with the kids. To top the evening off, we even had a campfire. It was so cold out, but we sat close enough to the fire and each other to keep warm. It was such a great day!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A choice of utmost importance...

I've never blogged about anything "political" before, but the time has come. With only 18 days to go until we decide the next leader of "the free world", I cannot stay silent anymore. I have the utmost of respect for friends and family...even if we don't agree on political issues. However, within the last month I spoke with 4 people whom I greatly admire and respect and who are all strong Christians, and the issue of the election came up. I was shocked to hear of their likely vote for Obama. "What about the abortion issue?", I asked. Each person gave good reasons why other issues took precedence in their own lives. They were compelling issues for sure. Even if these friends don't change their mind and vote for Obama we will still be friends, but part of me cannot help but think that perhaps they truly don't know the whole truth about Obama. Sure, he's "cool" and widely supported by just about every movie star (that truth alone is quite telling). But he has also made abortion the VERY FIRST THING he intends to deal with if elected into office. Hmmm...not the economy, the war, or other important issues, but abortion. The taking of innocent lives. Does that not speak to the man's character? Actions speak louder than words, and he can tell me all day long that he hopes to decrease abortions, but just look at his voting record and what he says. I, for one, don't want innocent blood on my hands.

The thoughts below are not mine, but Randy Alcorn, a famous Christian author. I came across his blog entry this morning via somebody else's blog, but his thoughts truly echoed mine. I apologize for the length of this entry, but some things must be said.

"I knew from the first time I heard him speak that Obama was cool. And if the candidate I supported, for reasons of substance, also happened to be cool, that would be a nice plus. I coach high school tennis, and I like it when the kids like me. And hey, my generation invented the word cool! (Of course it also invented the word groovy, but....).

Then the sad day came. I checked out Obama's actual position on abortion and I was demoralized. I found that in every single vote related to the issue he's favored abortion, its legality and even the killing of children who survive abortion.

But Obama is savvy. He wants to attract young voters, including young evangelical Christians who are sort-of-prolife. He knows to say that he favors reducing or limiting abortions. Which is like limiting rather than criminalizing murder and rape and kidnapping and slavery. A candidate could say “I’m personally opposed to rape,” while he has a 100% voting record favoring the legality of rape. And he could say he favors limiting or reducing the number of rapes. But if he actually supports the legality of the hideous crime of rape, discerning people would see through his rhetoric of rape-reduction.

When I discovered Obama was an all-out defender of legalized child-killing, I was disappointed beyond words. And I knew that in the next election, I was not going to get to be cool.

John McCain wasn’t my first choice for president. But at least McCain's a hero, he suffered for his country and fellow soldiers. And at least he thinks innocent children shouldn’t be slaughtered, and has consistently voted that way. And he's chosen a running mate who not only professes to be prolife but lived it out by valuing a precious Down Syndrome child that 80% of people would have aborted. McCain and Palin are far from perfect. But I believe they would honestly stick up for the most oppressed and violated people group in this nation, unborn children.

Of course, these days it’s especially not cool to support a Republican, even if he would defend innocent children, because Republicans are part of the party of George Bush, someone who is hated by cool people. (Nobody mentions that the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, that opposed slavery; they were hated for that too.)

I am deeply concerned about the one, two or possibly three Supreme Court justices to be appointed in the next presidential term. If you listen to the candidates, it's obvious that McCain/Palin would make a concerted effort to choose justices likely to reverse Roe v. Wade and it is equally obvious that Obama/Biden would choose justices most likely to uphold Roe v. Wade.

So, does God care about who his children vote for? In many cases, with not much difference between them, I doubt it. But here's what he says about the needy and afflicted who have no one to help them and are on the brink of death:

"For God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight." (Psalm 72:12-14)

The blood of week and needy unborn children is precious in God’s sight. Please don't tell me abortion isn't the only issue. Of course it isn't. Treatment of the Jews wasn’t the only issue in 1940 Germany. Buying, selling and owning black people wasn’t the only issue in the United States of 1850. Nonetheless, both were the dominant moral issues of their day. Make no mistake about it. In our own day if we support a candidate who defends abortion, who is dedicated to that cause, we are supporting the killing of children. Yes, even if he’s the coolest candidate to come along in decades.

We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ for our decisions, and a vote is a decision in which we assume responsibility for the known beliefs and moral positions of the candidate.

This is not speculation, it is not a spin, it is demonstrable fact: Barack Obama IS committed to continuing the legalized killing of unborn children in this country.

Some Christians claim otherwise. But in his July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Obama said,

"We know that a woman's right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when— without government interference—is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country. . . . I have worked on this issue for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. . . So, you know where I stand. . . The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do."

If you don't know about the Freedom of Choice Act, it was written by the most radical proabortion activists because they saw informed consent and parental consent laws being passed at the state level. They wanted something powerful that would dismantle anything that could serve to reduce abortions through requiring that people be told the truth before an abortion or before their sixteen year old, who can't be given an aspirin without their permission, can have an abortion.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. Obama standing in front of them and promising he's 100% on their side is the equivalent of a presidential candidate 160 years ago addressing an assembly of the owners of the slave ships, and saying, “If you elect me, the first thing I will do is sign an act that will insure slaves won’t be freed, and that nullifies any and all voter-approved state legislation that restricts slavery.” (And sadly, yes, even hearing this, some Christians would have campaigned for and voted for him.)

Now, “first thing” means first thing, right? So before helping the poor and protecting the environment and addressing the economy and national defense, what is President Obama going do? He's going to assure that abortion stays legal and that the numbers are NOT reduced, by signing an act that will devastate decades of work at the state level by the prolife movement. Requirements of parental notification and informed consent and bans on partial birth abortions? History, if Obama has his way.

When Obama made this promise, he was either lying or telling the truth. If he was lying, he has a serious character problem. If we can’t trust him to do this, why trust him to follow through on any other promise, including those for which evangelicals are supporting him?

Ironically, however, if Obama was not lying, then he has a far worse character problem. Why? Because he is committing himself to oppose the rights of unborn children to live. I would rather he be a liar than that he be the defender of the killing of weak and vulnerable children, the orphans and fatherless.

I think he is sincere and likable, but on this matter, a matter of enormous significance, it is no exaggeration to say he is standing in defiance of the Creator. (A Creator whose blessing we should not dare ask if we defend the legalized killing of the children He creates.)"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Washington and friends....

I decided to update my blog starting with the most recent activity and working my way back. This past weekend, on our way home from our vacation in the Outer Banks, we stayed several days with our good friends, Mikey and Jewel and their crew. Mikey and Matt go way back and have been best buds since they were fairly young. They have one of those friendships where they don't have to talk all the time, they are able to just pick up their relationship whenever they next see each other. Don't get me wrong, they do keep in touch, just not as much as women seem to. We were pleasantly surprised that they lived only 15 minutes from "the mall" and the historic places in Washington. We were able to squeeze in a visit and I was so impressed. This is standing at the Washington Monument and looking past the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial.
This is also taken standing at the Washington Monument and looking at the White House. I had no idea the president was able to look out his window and see the Washington Monument. Rylee was most impressed at seeing the White House. When she finally spotted it, she asked, "Can we go meet George Bush?" Isn't that great?
Here we are standing in front of the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument behind us.
I feel terrible that this is the only picture I got of the whole McRoberts family. As you can see, I was a little late snapping the picture.
Pretty, huh? I would say that overall I was very impressed with the beauty of these historic landmarks and how well they were taken care of.
This is the World War II Memorial. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even know it existed. It was beautiful with large columns for each state and many fountains. There were scenes of battles and soldiers depicted. Someone even left flowers in one spot and it made me pause and reflect on how much we take for granted. So many lost their lives, and it was a sobering, but much needed reminder of the cost of freedom.
This adorable girl is Eden. Eden is beautiful. She's plump and sweet. She is a bit more reserved than her sister, but can be a cuddle bug when she wants to be. Mikey and Jewels children are our God children and we are honored to have been given that role in their lives.
This is Jordan. She's a little spitfire! She's spunky and loaded with personality. She's cute, and she knows it. She's also very affectionate and will just crawl up on your lap and make herself comfortable...especially if you are a man!
This is Mikey. He's a great guy. He's probably the smartest guy I know as well. He has a double masters and has always graduated in the top of his class throughout college. He works for the Navy and is currently stationed at the Naval Annex, which is directly across from the Pentagon. I'm glad our government has him! Although I didn't get a picture of her by herself (why is it that us Mom's are rarely in pictures ourselves? Maybe we are too busy taking pictures of everyone else!), Jewel is Mikey's wife. She's great, and we love her. She's so good with the kids and went way out of her way making awesome meals (Mikey made a great breakfast as oatmeal pancakes with Grandpa Wegner's real maple syrup he boiled down himself!). I'm afraid I gained some weight this weekend. Jewel and I are able to pick each others brain about homeschooling, kids, cooking, blogging, church, adoption (they have already and we hope to), etc. Sorry I didn't have a picture, Jewel!
This is Noah. He's not so fond of having his picture taken...can you tell? His name is Noah Daniel, while our Noah is Noah David. It can be a bit confusing and complicated at times. This boy knows more about football than I could ever hope to know. How sorry is it that a 5 year old knows the game and I don't?
This is Chi, short for Malachi. He's Noah's younger brother and only 2 months older than our Noah. I guess he got pooped out playing and just curled up on his chair and fell asleep. Isn't that adorable?
Here is our cutie pie, or one of them, I should say. Little Gracyn is just growing up before my eyes. She's beautiful. I know I'm partial since I'm her mom, but seriously...admit it, she's gorgeous! She is such a good girl and so sweet.
I actually got a little teary eyed reading what was inscribed in stone above Lincoln.
I must say that my favorite place we visited this past weekend was the Lincoln Memorial. I have always admired Lincoln. This Memorial was just an amazing place to see. On either end of the inside area are some of his famous speeches, The Gettysburg address and one of his inaugural addresses. I liked that they had little signs as you approached the interior saying , "Quiet, Respect Please". It was fitting. We had a wonderful time with friends and touring the famous landmarks in Washington. I look forward to going back in the future and seeing even more of the city. The architecture was stunning everywhere we looked. Although we did not intend it, it was a wonderful learning experience for Rylee. What a great field trip!

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