Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Remembering My Grandma

Last night, the world lost one of its best people.  My grandma, Christina Richards, was...well...it's hard to find words.  She lived by the words of two books, The Bible and The Power of Positive Thinking.  I think that's the magic combination that allowed her to live, against all odds, until she was almost 97.
As I looked through the pictures of I have of her, I was disappointed to find they're all from the last few years (since I've had a digital camera), and do not show the woman I remember.  Grandma didn't always sit in a wheelchair, oxygen tank and old-lady sweater ever present.  Grandma didn't always look like she was about to blow away.
Grandma with Hannah and Lydia
Looking back, the Grandma I think about is the one who used make the best after school snacks: strawberries dipped in powdered sugar, marshmallows melted in the toaster oven, and ice cream bon bons.
Grandma, Dad, and me at Grandma's 80th birthday in 1996
I think of the 82 year old who willing took me into her house when I was a teenager, making pancakes for supper, driving me to football games, and patiently sitting by while I spent hours on the phone trying to negotiate school dances.  (Can you believe she never said a word?  That must have taken some restraint.)
Richards family reunion in the early 90s
I think of the woman who, every time we went out to eat in our small hometown, had someone come over to our table and remind her that she was their seventh grade teacher.  Or that they used to work for her at the family-owned Dairy Queen.  Grandma knew everyone in town.  She knew my friends' grandparents, and called my teachers by their maiden names. 
Grandma and her BFF, Jean at Grandma's 90th birthday
I think of her telling me I could be excused from washing the dinner dishes if I would practice the piano while she washed up.  (Worked every time, by the way.)
When I was small, and we'd go to Grandma's house for Sunday supper, she would always make a pan of Pillsbury rolls.  I'd eat as many as my mom would let me get away with - three or more.  Grandma would pat her tummy and say, "Look at all these rolls."  I'd think if I ate enough rolls, I'd have a wonderful soft tummy just like she did.  (That worked too.)
More Richards, at Jonathan's and my wedding
I think about when Jonathan were in need, she opened her home to me again, this time with husband and 6 month old Hannah in tow. 
Grandma and Hannah, the first time they met
And by now, she was in her 90's.  But what a wonderful person to share the first months of our baby's life with...Grandma was there the first time Hannah rolled over,
Some of Hannah's first steps
for the first tentative steps across the living room, and for those precious first words.  Hannah thought Grandma's walker was there for her amusement, and knew that Grandma would give her sips from her own cup, always filled with ice water.
My grandma taught me the power of daily prayer and Bible study.  Quietly and unassumingly, she showed me the important roll faith plays in one's life. 
Jonathan's and my graduation from seminary
 She showed me the importance of being surrounded by church community; that you can't do it alone. 
Grandma's pastor and the two of us at my ordination as a minister
More than anyone else, Grandma planted in me the seeds of faith that have flowered into a vocation of ministry.  What a gift to give, and I thank her for it.
You fought the good fight, Grandma. You finished your race.  You kept the faith.  And now you're home.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer Camping

We love to camp.  The first Christmas Jonathan and I were married, our wish lists were full of camping gear, and our family outfitted us generously.  Although camping with toddlers is not the idyllic forest getaway we each remember from our teenage years, our entire family still enjoys the wonder of the outdoors.
For Jonathan, the best part is making a tending a fire.  For me, it's the s'mores...hands down.  We are both happy to have a campfire (and s'mores) in the evening, and then do it all again after breakfast. 

For the kids, it's the hot chocolate.  With marshmallows.  (See a sugar-high theme going on here?)

 But what we really love about camping is spending some time together, with a guarantee of none of our regular interruptions. 

See all that lovely green around our tent?  Poison ivy - every bit of it.  Hannah is old enough to understand that she needs to keep out, but Lydia has no idea.  I only have it in me to run around after a two year old in Poison Ivy Land for about 16 hours, so we're strictly one-night campers...at least until the kids are older.

This trip was in the Smoky Mountains.  We found this lovely stream just off the road and spent a nice morning in the water.

Of course, kids can't play in the water without someone falling in and losing their pants, right?

The next time we planned a trip, Lydia was a little sick...just enough that we didn't want her to sleep outside.  So we pitched the tent in the yard.  Lydia slept inside, and the rest of us (plus baby monitor) stayed outside. 

 You'll notice that we still had all the essential elements: fire and s'mores.

And more s'mores.

Two weeks ago, we camped near Cumberland Gap in Virginia.

And look at all that grass!  I was thrilled by the absence of poison ivy.  And wouldn't you know it, I came home with it all over my arm.  Oh well....

Since Jonathan and I both grew up camping, we hope that we can teach our girls to love it as much as we did - and still do.

So far, I think we're starting out on the right foot.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

July Fourth Fun

After Hannah's spring dance recital, I decided I needed to start posting pictures on the blog again.  So that night, I diligently sat down and put up the pictures of the recital.  That night, our hard drive crashed, and all of our pictures from January to the end of June are gone.  It makes me so sad!  I've learned two things: BACK UP EVERYTHING!!!!  And to spend less time taking pictures and more time making memories.  I rely on my pictures to be my memories, and I need to imprint our lives more on my mind than in pixels.

All that said, as part of my obsessive back up plan (along with our new computer, we got one of those external hard drives that automatically backs up every time a new file is added), I've rededicated myself to posting pictures on the blog.  It took me a few weeks to be able to take new pictures, and then a few more weeks to download them from my camera. 

And now, at last, here are some for you to see.  These are from July 4th, when we went to the Chicago suburbs to visit Jonathan's family.  Hannah and Lydia were very excited to spend the holiday with their cousin Brady.  We might be a little girly for him, but I think he had fun too.

After the parade, we went back to Jonathan's parents' house, where the kids spent a happy afternoon playing with a bubble gun.  Have you seen those?  It's like a water gun, but it sprays out bubbles, powered by a motor.  Even Lydia could produce amazing amounts of bubbles.  Serious fun!


I tried to get the kids to pose.  After about 30 shots with variations of this...

...I finally got one where they looked like this.

And then, this one.  Aren't they the cutest ever?

That night, we saw the fireworks...the first time for both girls.  I'm not sure that they loved the whole thing, but it was definitely memorable.

Also over the holiday, after a night of camping in the yard with Opa and Grandma, everyone had a blast in the kiddie pool.

 I gave the kids ice cream and told them to sit still for (yet another) picture.  Guess who said he doesn't like ice cream, but I convinced him to hold one anyway?  "You don't have to eat it, Brady, just hold it for a minute while I take your picture."  Turns out, he's the only one not stuffing his face...oh well!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dance Recital Time

Well... Hello, there!  It's been awhile, hasn't it?  We've been doing so much (and I've been taking so many pictures!), and I feel completely overwhelmed about catching up.  So I decided to start with the most recent, and hope to work my way back.

In any case, here are pictures of Hannah's dance recital.  These are for you, Grandma.

The recital was on Saturday.  Hannah has been very excited about it for weeks to come.

The ballet was a story of two little girls who fell asleep in a candy shop, and awoke in the magical land of sweets.  Each class portrayed a different kind of candy.  There was cotton candy, lemon drops, red hots, and Hannah's class were lollipops.

Their tap dance was to Shirley Temple's "On the Good Ship Lollipop."

Hannah's favorite part?  That they danced with actual lollipops!

I mean, look at that thing!  I'd be excited too, wouldn't you?

The recital was at the Clarence Brown Theater at the University of Tennessee.  It all felt very grown-up to be in a "real" theater.

On the car ride home, Jonathan and I told Hannah that she had done a good job.  She said, "I am very proud of myself."

And not to be forgotten is the prima ballerina in training, Miss Lydia.  I think she's just about ready for the stage, don't you?

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