Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Monday, April 20, 2015

the peanut + pink lipstick.

My sweet peanut oozes all things girl and this weekend I pretty much made her life when I let her pick out her very first real lipstick while we were shopping. She chose the brightest shade of pink in the store, obviously. And she wore it with pride all day long.... all over her face. Somehow the pink didn't so much stay on her lips but she didn't care. Not one bit. 

This girl is the sweetest. She loves on all of us- especially her brothers- all day long. Yesterday in the car she she said, "Mommy- I love you SO MUCH and I just can't stop." Holy heart melt. I can't stop loving you either, Audrey. Ever. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

the bear: 14 months.

Last week Jonah hit the 14 month mark. Not exactly a momentous milestone, but I did want to capture a little bit about the bear at this age because lets be honest, he's hilarious, adorable, crazy and all things sweet. If I could freeze you at this age, Jonah, I would in a heartbeat. 
This is a photo that Amy took of Jonah last week while playing in the mud. It pretty  much sums him up!

-Jonah is happy pretty much all the time- he wakes up happy, goes to sleep happy... you get the idea. It takes a lot to get the bear down.
-He's crazy. He climbs on EVERYthing. He has mastered climbing and standing on all of mamaw's furniture. He runs everywhere which is actually funny to watch someone that little take off sprinting. He has figured out walking backwards, turning in circles and jumps from time to time. Being active is most definitely not a concern of our's. 
-He eats EVERYthing and ALL the time. It's basically turned into a game to see if we can find anything that he won't eat. Pickles? Sure. A piece of plain lettuce? Absolutely! 
-He has dealt really well with the transition from our old house to our temporary house with Dan's parents. He still goes to be easily and naps well most of the time, but has definitely been waking up more in the middle of the night, but overall I'm thankful for what a champ he has been.
-Jonah is an inquisitive little guy- he studies everything. Yesterday while Dan changed the oil in my car he ran over to see what was going on and then stood there and studied Dan's every move the entire time. 
-He is saying a few words: Mama, Dada, Bubba (for my brother, Uncle Bubba), bee (for Bing, our dog), bye bye, no no, etc. 
-He continues to love to dance and will perk up whenever he hears his favorite songs, currently that is Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. 
-Balls are his favorite toys and is surprisingly good at throwing and kicking them considering they are normally about half his size! 

a little (toe) dip in the lake.

On Saturday we stopped by our new community to sign Jackson up for soccer. While we were there we stopped by our new house to just walk around outside a bit. The patience for moving in is wearing thin and Dan could wait no longer to see the lake without the cover of snow. And so for a few hours we pretended to already be living in our new place- we hung out on the dock, splashed in the (cold!) water, walked to the playground, ran around on the tennis courts and let the babies play in the sand for awhile on the beach. 

Needless to say we are a liiiiitle excited to start this new chapter in this new place. 

hello, sunshine.

Yesterday was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

We had been coming off a really rough week. Between saying goodbye to Grandma Nanny and then several days of one of the nastiest viruses making its way through most of our family we needed some beautiful. And the day delivered. 

JP & AD waiting for Aladdin to begin at The Children's Theater. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

grandma nanny: a tribute.

I always find funerals really hard. I know that’s obvious because nobody finds them to be easy, but I’m personally always torn between the feelings of sadness that come along with saying goodbye and the joy that comes with celebrating the life of someone you loved and admired so much.  But, yesterday during Easter service I was reminded that this moment for my Grandma- this moment when she enters the gates of Heaven- that is what life is all about. That is what we’re all working toward.

The story of Easter is often times summed up with John 3:16, “for God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Eternal life- she made it! She is now not only in the hands of Jesus in a place that is free of pain, of sadness, of any worry, but she’s been reunited with so many she loved who went before her- my grandpa, her parents, a sister and four brothers. Now I didn’t know all of my great uncles, but I did know enough of them to know that she was most certainly greeted with a lot of practical jokes, a lot of time spent giving her a hard time and at least a few hands of cards.

Just as my grandma had 3 children- 2 sons and a daughter- I too have 2 sons and a daughter. And with her passing, I found myself for the first time having to explain to them that someone they found so much love in had been called home to Heaven. Their response was beautiful. They had some questions, but overall they were just really excited that Grandma Nanny- as they called her- was going to get to spend Easter with Jesus! This Jesus that we talk about every day? Grandma Nanny gets to hang out with him forever!
And it didn’t hurt that Grandma Nanny also left behind Easter baskets overflowing with their favorite treats. But that was my grandma – always firm in her faith, always focused on her family and always ready with treats for all her babies- no matter how big or little.  
And those three things are what for me defined her- her faith, her family and the comfort and love she gave through the gift of food.  

Her faith and more specifically her belief in the power of prayer was the foundation to all else in her life. Some of my earliest memories of her involved reading with her from her prayer book. My grandma for as long as I can remember always had a notebook full of prayers that she used diligently each day to say her prayers. You may not realize it, but each person in this room, I assure you, had their name and their needs written in that book, most likely many times. She left behind many notebooks full of prayers and I can’t help but think that if we were to read through them, we would be reading through the story of her life- her conversations with God, I’m sure, told of the many ups and downs she went through. And for every page full of questions and requests I firmly believe there were ten more giving Him thanks for the blessings he had filled her life with- namely her family.

If her faith was her foundation, her family was her center. She made every choice, every action centered on those she loved most. Yesterday we celebrated Easter as a family and I think I can speak for all of us when I say it was bittersweet. It was the first time, of course, that we were all together without her there. I found myself throughout the day looking around, expecting to find her and when I didn’t it just felt a little empty, a little incomplete. But, it was also the first time in a long time that we were all able to be in the same place at the same time and while we wish the occasion would have been for different reasons, the reality is that being able to be together is a gift only she could have given to us. Together with my grandpa, their love resulted in 29 of us who are all here this today missing and honoring this one woman who we called mom, grandma and Grandma Nanny.

There are a lot of things we’ll miss about her. A few really simple, but obvious ones will be the jello that she made every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, and the homemade pies that she would hand delivered for birthdays- always making the kind that she knew each of us loved most- custard for me, apple for my brother. And for my kids, the bags full of treats she sent home with them each time they visited, always far exceeding any kind of sugar limit I naively thought I could impose during a visit with their Grandma Nanny. It took me a long to understand it, but this love of food- or rather love of giving food- was her favorite way of showing love and giving comfort. It was her way of continuing to take care of us long after we stopped admitting we needed taken care of.

And so on this day when we’re told we’re it’s time to say goodbye, lets just not do it. Lets not say goodbye because she has left us with the gift of each other. She has left behind some of her inside each of us. If you look closely enough, you will see her- you’ll see her big heart in my cousin Jen, her willingness to always help in Sara, her sense of humor in Bridget and her tenderness and patience in Allison.

I could go on, but my point is that instead of saying goodbye, lets instead honor her by following her example and putting thes same effort into those three things that defined her life- her relentless faith, her love and devotion to family and the power she found in giving just the right meal at just the right time. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

ecuador, continued...

This was our team of 21 from Bright Christian Church in Indiana standing in front of Bright Christian Church in Ricaurte, Ecuador. Amazing! Amazing to think that our church family sacrificed to build this church building over three years ago for these sweet people and now we've been blessed ten-fold with inviting them into our own families and we into their's. 

Each day we would feed the children lunch. The thing is that when you don't ever have enough to eat, you will first of all eat anything and second of all it's a great way to build trust (by us providing them with a meal). 

They were a liiiiitle excited that we were there. 

They were obsessed with my camera. They would pose like this and then tackle me to see the picture and then repeat as long as I would allow it. 

It's hard to tell by this photo the size of this home, but in it lived a a grandmother and she was raising 11 grandchildren. There were no beds. No running water. No bathrooms. No electricity. Just cement floors to sleep on and a whole lot of love. She later explained that a few of the kids were not biologically her's, but she refused to turn any children away who needed a safe place to live. The man in the center is the pastor of our church in Ricaurte, to the left is his wife. To the right is Agusto- he was the sweetest. He now works for Compassion International but was actually a sponsor child growing up. Amazing!

Whenever we visited their homes we would always leave them with a gift of food. This was often met with tears, lots of tears. 

Sweet girls... they loved me for my camera. 

Couldn't you just squeeze her? We did, a lot. Precious baby. 

Along with our team, we were joined by several team members from Compassion based in Ecuador and the bonus was that we were joined by Emilio. Emilio is actually an olympic champion from Ecuador and he's beginning to serve as one of their celebrity ambassadors so he joined us for about half of our trip because he wanted to experience all that Compassion did for himself. He has such an incredible heart. He had to leave early for a race in Quito but he met up with us for dinner on our way to the airport the last night and was just so sweet- he has big plans on how we too can help these sweet children in his home country. 

This was the first moment I met 1 of our three sponsor babies, Jhongley and his mom. Jhongley is the same age as Jackson so I couldn't help but do unintended comparisons the entire week. Their living conditions had zero things in common but I will tell you that he is blessed to have a mom who cherishes him which unfortunately isn't something to take for granted when living in extreme poverty. 

Outside the home of our oldest sponsor child, Siclaly. She's so sweet and very shy. The first day she wouldn't say a lot to me but she followed me around all day. When I was inside the church working on something I would often look over and find her watching me through the windows. By the end of the week the walls were down and I was so thankful to see many, many smiles. I worry for her especially. I don't know why, but something tells me she needs my love even more so than the others. 

Jhongley outside his house. It's about the size of one average sized bedroom and there are holes in between all of the boards so his mom had hung up pages from magazines to block out the rain and wind. Whenever I think of him, sleeping here my heart hurts... can you imagine? 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

rest peacefully, grandma nanny.

yesterday we very unexpectedly lost my grandma or "grandma nanny" as my babies called her. I've not even begun to process what this means or how life will look now with her gone, but what I do know is that she has left behind so many of us who loved her dearly... and who she loved right back. this is one of my favorite photos of her from when she held Jackson for the first time. 

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