Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Wonderful Week!

Merry Christmas to everyone! I haven't blogged in a while because we have been all over the place, and I barely had a chance to even take photos, let alone blog! :)
The weekend before Christmas, we were able to head down to Ohio to celebrate Christmas with Josh's side of the family. It was so much fun, and I think I can say one of the best times we've had in years. It was so relaxing and enjoyable to be with everyone. I wish I had not forgotten my camera at home!
We got back from Ohio on the 23rd, just in time for friends to stop by for a visit and we had dinner with them. With all of our kids plus the two they were watching, we had NINE kids in the house! They brought us a bunch of gifts from their Sunday school class, including a whole deer! They had heard that Josh did not shoot a deer this year, so one of the men went out and shot a deer for us to have venison! What an amazing blessing!
Christmas eve started out so great! We went visiting with some very dear friends of ours, and had mince pies! First time I had them, but hopefully not the last. They were delicious! The whole family had a great time just relaxing and chatting. The girls loved playing with the legos, and I think both of the Daddies did too! :)
That afternoon my parents came over. We went to the Christmas eve service, and then went to look at Christmas lights on our way home. My parents spent the night and celebrated Christmas morning with us. The girls had a great time opening gifts. They are so fun to watch! After eating some brunch, we just played all day with the toys, watched movies, and snoozed.
The next day we were off to Wisconsin for Liz and Michael's wedding. I was honored to be a bridesmaid, and all three girls were flower girls. It was a long weekend, but SO much fun. We are so very blessed by their friendship and honored that they would want us to play a part in their special day.

The girls got microphones. A very fitting gift if you know how much they like to entertain!

A yummy egg bake, blueberry muffins, and donuts make for a sweet and filling brunch.

Daddy and the girls hanging out in the hotel room. They did a lot of this while Mommy was doing bridesmaid things. I am so thankful for a wonderful husband who made this past weekend possible!

Jenna and I at the reception. I told her that this was NOT a crazy face picture, and this is what she gave me. Love you my fellow bridesmaid!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Little Holiday Baking

A couple weeks ago before I hurt my back, we had some students over to bake some cookies. It was a huge mess, but a lot of fun, with some tasty results. :)

Checking on the cookies.

Um, Kayla...I hope you got a new knife...

The yummy cookies. :)

Then all of a sudden there was a cookie war on our hands! I had to beg them to stop, because I was skeered for my poor kitchen getting any messier. They called a truce. This was the end result:

Oh, Dan and Jamie. You crazy kids.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Angel Alert!

Today was the children's Christmas program at our church. My back is still in a lot of pain, but I had enough medicine in me to be able to go. I am so glad I didn't miss it!
Josie's class started out the program with a little poem. It was so cute! I only wish I had a better view of her.
After Josie's class was done, the rest of the kids started. This year Emma was finally old enough to join the big kids choir, and she had so much fun! She really got into it and was dancing and moving all over the place. I am positive she didn't know that everyone was laughing at her, but it sure was funny! Everyone kept asking where our little angel got her moves. I told them it was their daddy, of course! :)
It was a great program, and I just love knowing the girls are growing up, making life long memories of singing in the church choir. Some of my fondest Christmas memories as a child include the same thing. I felt like I really was there back in the beginning, sharing for the first time the birth of our Lord. It was so exciting, and I love seeing the girls experiencing the same thing.
I wish I had some video to show you. It was SO cute!

Josie walking up to the stage, with her buddy Jack not too far behind.

I didn't really have a good shot of Josie. Here is the best I have.

Here is the Angel choir. Can you spot Emma? Here is a hint, she is in the front row.

A close up of my little angel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Things That Happen When You Least Expect It

This has been my view for the last couple of days:

It is my ceiling. I am on the floor. Not by choice mind you. It was my back's idea.

I thought my back was a team player. I thought I could count on it. That my back was on my side, "backing" me up if you will.

I was wrong. Horribly wrong. Tuesday morning my back, without even discussing it with me, decided to give out as I got up from a chair. Why? I have no idea. Didn't my back KNOW I had 300 loads of laundry to get caught up on? That I was hosting a small Christmas party at my house that night? That it was the very last week of school for the students here and I had a BILLION things to do???

Well, it seems my back doesn't really care about my schedule.


I decided to scoot closer to the tree. There now, things are much better from this view, right?

Not really.

You know, when you are lying around, there really isn't much to do (besides take goofy pictures of yourself, and your ceiling) but think and pray.

I have been thinking about my dad. I remember one Christmas (I think it was 1991?) when his back went out. I mean, it wasn't a couple of weeks before, it was Christmas eve! We had just arrived to my grandparents cabin in TN, and he spent the rest of that week in bed. Not complaining at all. Can you imagine how hard that must have been? Hardly ever seeing your family, making the ten plus hour trip to be stuck on your back for your whole vacation? I am sorry that you had to go through that dad. I thank the Lord for your gracious heart, and making sure we all had a great Christmas, despite your pain.

I've been thinking of my own father-in-law who has suffered from chronic back pain for years and years. I don't know how he does it, but I now know how to pray for him better. I am sorry dad, that you have this burden. Please always let us know what we can do to help.

I have been thinking of my friend Cherri who was just in a car accident and fractured her pelvis bone in two places. With every wince of pain, I am reminded to pray again for you. I am sorry for your accident. I am praying for your quick healing, and thanking God he saved your family in that accident.

I have also been thinking about my pastor who had the flu turned pneumonia and was on his back for FOUR weeks! On Sunday he was sharing what God needed him to learn, and he had to put him on his back to teach him that.

God's timing is funny sometimes, no?

This is my view right now:

I am starting to feel a little better, and I have moved from the floor to the chair. I have been seeing a chiropractor daily who said "You really did a number on her" I think he may have been speaking to my back about me.
I am thankful for all the prayers. For kind neighbors who bring us food, for friends who are willing to give up an evening on the town to come sit with me and watch a movie, to last minute babysitters to watch the girls as I go to the doctor. I am most thankful for an amazing husband who had taken on the job of "mom" while still being dad and missionary on one of the busiest weeks at the Bible school. I am thankful for his extra care for me in making sure I am comfortable, that I have enough pain medicine in me, and just recently, bringing me my laptop and a cup of coffee so I can feel like part of the world again. Love you my sweetie.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Need a Little Christmas

I just realized how we have family traditions that just happen. We have, for the last couple of years now, had some students over while we put up our Christmas tree. It is a lot of fun to have a fresh perspective of the decorating, it gives some students a way to not miss home too much at this time of year, and the kids really like it!
Last night was no exception!
Kayla and Emma dig through one of the decoration boxes.

Addie placed 90% of the tree ornaments on the bottom right of the tree. :)

Josie was so excited to be able to hang the star this year!

We have red lights on our tree this year. It's different, but the girls like it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gingerbread House Party

Last week Josh and I were invited to a gingerbread house making party. We both have never made one before. I think we did pretty good. It was a timed competition, and then judged. We did not win, but it was fun anyhow! I'm not sure Josh thinks that putting candy on a cookie house is that great of a time, but I'm glad we got to spend some time together.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Thank-FULL!

Thanksgiving was great! Ken and Chris and Winston and Cora got here with no problems, there was no stomach virus (trust me. It happens a lot!), and Chris brought THREE pies! :) It was so nice to be able to spend time with some family. Most had other plans, but we were able to talk to everyone either 0n Thanksgiving, or the day after.
Friday night we were able to go to Howell for their fantasy of lights parade. It is a fun parade that they have at night, and everything is lit up with Christmas lights. It is a fun way to ring in the Christmas season. :) We stopped and got pizza and bread sticks for dinner at Josie's favorite restaurant before the parade. We had great service, and amazing food!
It was a cold night, but a lot of fun. I think it may be time to get out the Christmas decorations. :) I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Ready to eat out feast! We are so blessed.

Ken and Chris at Tomato Brothers enjoying their bread sticks!

Visiting Jenna at the parade!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thinking and Thanking

Today is Thanksgiving. During this day as my kids watch the Macy's parade, my hubby finishes moving furniture into the guestroom, and I spend the day in the kitchen, I am thinking of the things I am most Thankful for. So, while I wait for Mr. Turkey to finish cooking I decided I would share.
I am thankful for Jesus' saving work on the cross. God is SO gracious.
I am thankful for a wonderful Husband. Josh is so kind and gentle and loving to me, even when I do not deserve it.
I am thankful for the three most beautiful girls in the world. What joy they bring me each day.
I am thankful for our family here in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Texas. Wishing we could celebrate this day of thanks with all of them, but knowing some years it doesn't work that way.
I am thankful for the dear friends I have, and missing them terribly. Most of which I feel like I could put in the "family" category.
I am thankful for God supplying all our needs. For never going hungry. For always having a place to sleep that was warm and dry.
I could go on forever, but I need to get back in the kitchen. Turkey is in the oven. Mashed potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole, jello salad, dinner rolls, sweet potato casserole are in the works. Chris is bringing her world famous pies and dressing. I think we will dine like kings tonight!
I'll let you know how it goes!
I hope I didn't forget anything!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Growing Up!

Look who's growing up (without even asking her Mommy if it was okay)!
I was just taking pictures the other day and I thought Addie looked cute so I snapped a couple of shots. When I uploaded them to the computer I couldn't believe what a big girl she looked like. She is my baby! Then I realized, she really isn't a baby anymore. She is no longer in a crib. She drinks from a regular cup, is potty trained, and doesn't eat in a high chair. It is official. I have three girls. No babies.
I think she looks like Emma sometimes, just with curly hair, but in this picture Addie kind of has her own look.
Pssst! Did you notice her ears?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lookie What I Got!

It is a pressure canner! I have a great big stock pot to do hot water bath canning in, but now I have this baby. Now I can can corn and green beans! OH! I am so excited. The best part is, I only paid $7! What a steal!
So, anyone wanna come over and show me how to use this thing? :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Up, Up, and Away!

Did you know we have a secret rocket ship at our house? It has disguised itself as a comfy reading chair, but with the right imaginations, and a couple of strong arms, it becomes a rocket!

1 percent terror, 99 percent thrill!

What a landing!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Can't Help But Be Friends

It was bound to happen. Their moms are great friends. Their dads are great friends too. Their older siblings are even great friends. These two just didn't stand a chance.

That's okay. I think they have a lot in common anyhow. :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Addie has the strangest little habit. Whenever she gets nervous or upset, tired or lonely, she sucks her thumb and with her other hand she rubs something in between her thumb and first finger. Her favorite thing is a piece of fuzz from a sweater, but when that can't be found, she makes do with other things: my hair, play-doh, paper, and even beaded necklaces as shown below.
So tell me, is she a strange bird, or is this normal?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Kind of Math

What do you get when you add this:

Plus this:

Plus this?

Why, a fiesta of course!

Last week we had some students over for some yummy Mexican food. I got some lessons on how to make my salsa hotter, and we all had a great evening of eating and enjoying each other. Two common bonds: a love of Mexican food, and a love for our Heavenly Father. Ain't fellowship GGGGGGGREAT? :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dress Up Fun!

Saturday we were able to take the girls to a fall harvest party at a local church. We have been doing this every year since 2005 and the girls really enjoy it. This year it was SO COLD! We didn't stay to do everything because of how cold it was.
This year, Josie and Emma had some help with their costumes. My friend (and NTBI alumni) Jenna made Josie a pink poodle costume. Josie LOVED it! Once I painted her face and put the collar on, she was barking and howling the rest of the night.
Emma really wanted to be a fairy. Another friend (and current NTBI student) Elizabeth had Emma design the dress, and she sewed it. It looked great!
Addie went with the tried and true Tigger costume, mostly because it was warm and she kinda reminds me of Tigger sometimes. I love this little costume. Emma used it when she was little, and before that, it was her cousin Cora's. This Tigger has definitely made its rounds! :)
Overall, it was a good night. The girls are enjoying their "spoils", and we are enjoying sharing the candy with all the students. :) I may or may not have had a Reece's peanut butter cup, or two, or five...

Josie is barking. She would bark when I said smile. I guess that is how pink poodles smile.

She was so excited she couldn't stand still!

Emma's costume complete with her great grandmother's gloves. She was SO careful. It was SO cute!

Just like Tigger, all Addie could do was bounce!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Foiled Again!

The culprit: a squirrel.
So last week in the morning as I was going to work, I noticed a cute little squirrel sitting on a pumpkin. He was chewing the stem of the pumpkins we just picked up at the farmer's market. No harm in that I thought. We don't need the stems.

If you are thinking "You are so wrong, Tamara. Those squirrels are wily and always trouble." then you would be right!

Look what those little rascals did to our pumpkins in one day!!! I even caught one all the way inside, with just the tail sticking out. I thought of taking a picture, but then I thought it would be even better to let our dog Sonny pay him a visit.

We will have to skip the carving this year as there wasn't much left to the pumpkins.

You can see the carnage below:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Favorite Fall Foliage

This is my favorite tree in Jackson.
Such a beautiful tree. Last year I discovered it when I was leaving my friends house. It was so stunning I just pulled off the side of the road to look at it. I must have been there for a while when this big burly dude came stomping out of the house and yelled "What do you want?"
That certainly scared me.
"Oh, I'm sorry sir. I was just admiring your tree. I think it must be the most beautiful tree in Jackson."
The guy's face turned from anger to a mix of confusion, and then after a little while, a smile.
So, I figured that since he was aware from last year that there was a crazy lady on the loose, looking at strangers trees, that this year I could take my camera. Of course, I this time I took my husband too! To my great relief, he never came out of his house.
You all think I'm crazy now, don't you? Well, you are right, but let me just show you why this is my favorite tree.
First, the tree turns this bright fiery orange. I took these pictures in the rain. You should see the tree in full sun. Gorgeous!!!

Now, when you go under the tree, the beautiful bright orange leaves show a little secret. They are actually yellow underneath!

Last, but certainly not least, when the leaves drop, they look like this.

Look at all those colors! I just love God's creations. There is a special place in my heart for Autumn, and I am thankful for this tree just a couple of blocks from my home. I don't usually need to go down that street, but in October, I make an exception. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Even More Way Back When

After we graduated from the mission training in Jersey Shore, PA, we spent eight weeks with our home church in Jackson, MI and then moved to a lovely place named after a not so lovely bug. That's right, we moved to Roach. A little tiny dot on the map of the state of Missouri. This is where New Tribes Mission's language institute was located. (This is now the location of both mission AND language training also known as the Mission Training Center, or MTC).
Although we went to a very small apartment to an even smaller one (This one was 410 square feet!) this place had something our other did not... a toilet! We did not have a shower or tub (this was still almost 100 yards from our house) but we were so happy to have a toilet we didn't care! Having a toilet in our apartment became an even bigger blessing as the year progressed, and we began potty training Emma, and I became pregnant and was dealing with morning sickness.
Another huge blessing about our time in Roach was it was right on the lake of the Ozarks! Josh enjoyed being able to fish several times a week, and Emma and I enjoyed all the fresh fish dinners. We also enjoyed living near water in a warmer climate. I was able to take Emma swimming in the lake well up until the end of October (and we did too. It was a daily ritual of ours. After her afternoon nap, we would go for a swim.)
These special times did not go without their own hardships. We still struggled a lot financially, but God was faithful, and we never went without a meal. We also lost a baby at this time. This was hard, but we had so much support from friends, and flexibility from the staff if I missed a class or two. God generously blessed us with another pregnancy, and the joy of Josie coming helped ease the pain of our loss.
The things I remember most about our year in Missouri was the close friendships we made. We can say that some of our dearest friends live all over the world! Places like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and the Philippines. I remember our faith being stretched, and God always showing Himself to be faithful. I also remember our marriage relationship grow. You just get closer when you go through "stuff" together.
It was a great time, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Check out this lake! Many a dinner was caught out of those waters.

Emma is sitting outside our steps. By the time we graduated, these woods were torn down, and several new homes were being built for more missionaries in training.

This was the sink AND the bath! Never did I cook and clean her at the same time! :)

Emma and I in the living room/office/dining area. She looks so much like Addie but with straight hair!