Monday, December 17, 2007

We Have a Secret!

The big question these days is "are you going to find out the gender??" The answer is "yes". In fact, we found out this morning. Should we tell? Should we not? Wait and see!! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Cat's Out of the Bag

My brother and his wife have a little boy, Will, and are due in a few weeks with another little boy. Both pregnancies, we didn't find out Angela was expecting until they already knew the around 5 months. This put me out quite a bit, so I decided we'd try the same trick with them next time around. Well, I am currently 17.5 weeks, with my ultrasound scheduled for Monday and who should unexpectedly come into town for the day from California? My brother. He calls and wants to have lunch, which of course I want to do since I hadn't seen him since April! The first thing I did after hanging up with him was call Philip and ask "should I wear a sweatshirt and hide my stomach or just tell him I am pregnant?!" We decided on the latter, which was a good thing because nearly the first thing Dan says to me is "Angela had a dream last night that you're pregnant again...are you?" Well, that pretty much took care of it! I told him I had it all planned out...they were going to get a "specially edited" version of our Christmas letter with no announcement and I was seriously considering not telling them about the baby until it was born (which he said he would have found I expected). There was just one slight problem. They read this blog. If they didn't know about the pregnancy, I couldn't post about it on the blog. So, to end my inability to talk about the pregnancy, the cat has been let out of the bag...and now the whole world can know: I'm pregnant! :)

And now, to answer some questions.

How far along are you?
About 17.5 weeks. I am due on May 18.

Are you past the point when you miscarried the last two babies?
Yes. I lost the first at about 12 weeks and the second at 15 (though I didn't know until 18).

Have you been nervous about this pregnancy?
Yes, it's been very stressful. I have just really relaxed in the last week or so.

Are you feeling the baby move?
Yes, lots. Philip says I said this about Joshua, too. Please no...I can only handle one kid that crazy!

Do the boys know?
Yes. Caleb totally gets it. Joshua sort of understands. He is always asking to listen to the baby's heartbeat or trying to give me my nausea meds to "make the baby feel better".

How do the boys feel about it?
Both boys are very excited. Joshua is having a "sympathy pregnancy" and often tells me he has a baby in his tummy too.

Have you been sick?
Yes, yes, yes, yes. I think I may be about past it though.

Are you going to find out the gender?
Hopefully we will find out next Monday

Do you have a feeling on whether it's a boy or a girl?
I think it's a girl and I am 2-0 on my guessing so far. Caleb also says it's a sister "since we don't have one of those yet." Philip says "quite possibly". Joshua's latest comment was that there are two babies.

This is me last Tuesday at 16.5 weeks. :) Despite the fact it doesn't look like it, I've only gained about 2 pounds! Yeay!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's Time!

Ok, so this is slightly off the seasonal topic of Christmas and snow and such, but I am so excited to tell you that our kitchen is FINALLY DONE that I am going to blog about this today anyway! A "10 day" project that turned into a 9 month headache is finally finished, thanks to a lot of hard work and long hours from Philip. We hired a contractor to do most of the work, but ran into some quality problems with some of the materials and work. This first resulted in a 2 1/2 month delay in all of the cabinets being installed and then Philip wound up doing much of the finish work himself, which turned out to include remounting some of the cabinets and putting up all the molding. Needless to say, we learned a lot during this whole experience and if we ever have to do a kitchen remodel again, we'll do some things differently! :) Anyway, it's finally actually done and I am very glad! Below are some before, during and after pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Here's a review of what we did:
changed the floor
replaced all cabinets
replaced all appliances
replaced and relocated all lighting
removed the soffit to add 12" extra inches to the cabinets
replaced the countertops
removed the peninsula and made an island
repainted the walls...twice
repainted the ceiling...twice
added the tile backsplash
replaced the sink and faucet

Here is the kitchen when we bought the house in February.

Here we are having lunch in the gutted kitchen a couple days before we moved in in March. The only thing that hadn't been removed in this picture is the soffits and the old light fixtures. Don't you love our kitchen table? :)

This was the kitchen the day after we moved in. That's right, no countertops, no stove, no sink. Made food prep a little tough. I had never been so thankful for a kitchen sink and stove as I was the day those two finally went in! We were very thankful for Costco's frozen cooked chicken during those 10 or so days. Amazingly, we only ate out once!
Yeay for a sink and stove! Only 10 days after we moved in!

This is how the kitchen looked for several months while we waited for the replacement island and desk/pantry cabinets to arrive. We had quality problems with the originals and decided to order different ones from another color, but similar style. In the meantime, we couldn't use this "placeholder island's" cabinet space and the desk area was just an empty hole. It made totally unpacking the kitchen a challenge. You can also see in this pic that the walls were primed, but not painted and the cabinets over the fridge and microwave were the wrong size and had to be replaced or remounted.

And finally, the kitchen yesterday. All the finish work done and fully functional! Interestingly, in the picture the off-white island looks kind of out of place, but in real life, most people don't even notice it's a different color.


Yesterday we got our first snow of the early one at that! It's very unusual to get snow in December around here, and certainly the first week! We got 3-4 inches. The boys and I had to go out to Bible Study in the morning and cut our errand running short since it was just cold and miserable! When Philip came home, he shoveled the driveway. Caleb and Joshua "helped" by cleaning the snow off of the bushes. Although, by the end, Caleb had a shovel too and was trying to actually help. I was amazed that he stayed outside for a good hour yesterday and today. That's a big increase from his snow endurance last year! Yeay!
Joshua cleaning the snow off the fake flowers!

Monday, December 3, 2007

"You're Putting Christmas Up!"

Over the weekend we decorated the house for Christmas. This was the first year the boys really paid much attention to what was going on. Caleb, in particular, is SOOOO excited about Christmas coming. As I was hanging garland and lights on the stair rails in the house he kept saying, "you're putting Christmas up!!!" We let them help decorate the tree on Saturday night and they both thought that was great fun. Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Hines, both boys have a collection of ornaments with their names and/or pictures on them, which the boys got to hang themselves. We are also doing an Advent Calendar with them for the first time this year. Apparently, they just "can't wait that long" for dinner the next day to come to open the next flap. Ahhh, the enthusiasm of a child! I am looking forward to experiencing the whole season with them this year from Christmas songs and celebrating the birth of Christ, to all that Christmas baking that I love to do.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who ARE You?

This is the daily, hourly question around this house. Depending on what's happening, you could get quite a variety of answers.

From Joshua:
I'm Dave!
I'm Goliath (knock me down!)
I'm Jonah
I'm a BIG fish!
I'm Bob the Tomato
I...AM...THAT...HERO! Call me "Larry Boy!"
I'm Joshua David Hines
I'm Tigger!
I'm a spider

Caleb is generally just:
Larry the Cucumber
Pooh or
A Big Fish

As it would seem, the boys have quite vivid imaginations. They love to act out the stories they hear. This morning they were playing with Play-Doh and LIttle People (a favorite combo) and were acting out the story of Joseph and his special coat.

The staging area for most of their play is the brown couch in our family room, which we inherited with our other house. It was not in fabulous condition at the time, and is certainly not better now! Because of this, the boys are allowed to jump, run, plop and generally smash into it. It is the springboard for their imagination. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Caleb's Room Makeover

Despite the long silence, we did actually finally make a decision on what to do about Caleb's room. I gave in and bought a gallon of orange paint, so he now has one orange wall (although he is apparently a little distressed that the border covers some of the orange). The rest of the room is two nice shades of blue, with a sports border through the middle. We are very pleased with how it turned out and it definitely looks much nicer than it did before.
A reminder of how it looked before.
The boys hanging out on Caleb's bed right after we put the room back together.
The Orange Wall that makes Caleb so happy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Climbers in Training

On Wednesday, we enjoyed the nice warm "typical" Virginia in November weather...70 degrees...that's normal, right? by taking a family outing to Great Falls Park. The boys had an absolute least when there were rocks to be climbed. Apparently, Philip (an avid rock climber in days of old) has two little "up and coming" climbers. The bigger the rock, the better. Caleb and Philip at a point they climbed out to.

Joshua just getting warmed up right after we got there.
Maybe next time cousin Forest can join in the fun too. He's still only 9 months old.
Philip and I actually got engaged at Great Falls Park 5.5 years ago. I felt almost as good that day as I did on Wednesday. I had mono and it was about 100 degrees...yuck!

Here's the whole family. Lots of Hines boys...'bout time for a girl, don't you all think?

Sick, Sick, Sick!

Blech...what a week (or 10 days) this has been! First Joshua was a little sick, then Caleb got a little sick, then Joshua got pink eye, then I fell off the "sick cliff" and had one of the worst cases of cold or flu (whatever it was) I have ever had. Six days later, I am still not back to normal, but I think I have finally turned the corner and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Wowzers. The good news is that despite the fact I was nearly single handedly (or would that be single-nosedly?) keeping Kleenix in business, I never completely lost my sense of taste, so I could sort of enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, but I am still largely eating jello and bland stuff. But hey, great way to not gain weight over a holiday! Philip's family has been here since Tuesday and it was such a bummer to be sick while having company. Additionally, I have essentially lost my voice, so I have to whisper to communicate. That's a challenge when trying to handle a rowdy two year old! :) Despite all the sickness (which also included Joshua randomly breaking out in some allergic reaction every afternoon after his nap for several days and Caleb getting a mild ear infection), it was a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful time with family. Below is Caleb enjoying Puzzle Time with Grandpa and Uncle Paul.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Before another day passes, I must announce that Caleb turned 4 last week on the 13th. We had a fun little family celebration and Philip was able to stay home for the day to spend extra time with the boys. The reason for the delay in the post is that the next day Caleb came down with what seems to have been a minor-ish version of the flu (maybe a cold, who knows), which he then graciously passed on to me. I have basically been in bed since Sunday and probably lost about 5 pounds as my diet has consisted of toast, cheerios and pretzels for three days now. Fun times. I am hoping to be able to eat by Thursday! How much a bummer would that be not to...

Caleb got new bath crayons for his birthday and was so excited...let the bathtub art begin!

Monday, November 12, 2007

"There are Those Who Can't Be Frosted"

You would think this post might have to do with Caleb's birthday cake since his birthday is tomorrow, but it's not. Now, everyone knows that kids are notorious for misquoting things. I was sitting here minding my own business and Caleb comes up to me and says "there are those who can't be frosted!" I have to admit, I burst out laughing. He was trying to sing a VeggieTales song with the line "there are those who can't be trusted". Eh, trusted, frosted. What's the difference?

Last night the theological questions continued:
1. If God never sleeps, how did Jesus sleep when he was a baby?
2. When talking about the 10 commandments, specifically the one that says "do not covet", he asked, "what if Grandma gives me something for kids that Aunt Deborah doesn't use anymore since she's an adult? Is that ok?"
3. Why did Jesus get lost (When he stayed in the temple)?
4. When the Egyptians who were chasing Moses got hit with the water from the Red Sea, did they all go to Heaven? Why not?
5. Since God sees everything, if we lose something He knows where it is, right?
6. Why was Queen Esther scared to go see the King?

And others which I can't remember. I told Philip we're going to be in trouble by the time this kid is 7...I am going to be out of answers!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Joshua - the VeggieTales Singer

Here is Joshua this morning, in his usual position while the VeggieTales songs are playing. Hopefully you can hear him singing.

Boys Bath Before and After Pics

This is how the bathroom looked when we bought the house. This is the "beautiful" color that was also in Caleb's room and our dining room. Below is how it looks now. We painted a nice bright blue, but I must say my favorite part is the movable Nemo stickers from Lowes. They were inexpensive and made all the difference in how "finished" the bathroom looks! You can also see my attempts to fill Caleb's need for orange, with the bath mat and his towel. He still says he doesn't like the bathroom, but I think he secretly does. Joshua, on the hand, openly admits he loves it and wants to touch the stickers every time he goes in there!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Philip's 30th Birthday!

Yesterday was the big day...Philip turned 30! I think I can see some new wrinkles on him today...just kidding. :) Philip's official comment about turning 30 is "feels a lot like 29 1/2!" We had a fun party for him last night. I think the adults managed to out number the kids...maybe. We had about 8 toddler boys and one girl. As you can imagine, calm and quiet are not two words to describe this party, but it was actually a happy chaos. We loaded Philip's "picture cake" with 30 candles, so it looked like a flaming torch. We all actually ate trifle, which you can kinda see in one of the pictures below. Boy was it yummy...amazing what you can do with a leftover iced german chocolate cake! Mmmmm.
The family of one of Philip's co-workers...and the trifle!
Two ladies from our couples small group, Ramona and Martha.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chinese Puzzle Boy

I guess when you're working on a new, hard puzzle it helps to put your thinking cap on. At least, this is what Caleb tried earlier this week. He is sporting the hat his Grandpa and Grandma brought him from China, complete with a not-quite-matching black braid. I guess the hat didn't work though because he gave up on this puzzle and moved on to another one, which he did successfully complete. :)

The Indiscriminating Eater....Sort Of

While we apparently can't get Joshua to eat normal things like mashed potatoes, rice and sandwich bread on a regular basis, he seems to have a less discriminating palate when it comes to the truly odd. For example, while I can't seem to locate the photographic evidence to back this up, while we were on our beach trip we went out to dinner one night. Joshua is still working on his "being content while not eating at the table" skills, so in an attempt to distract him, we offered him one of the lemon slices from someone's cup. We all expected him to taste it, make a "yuck" face and then proceed to play with it. Here is what actually happened: he tasted it, decided it was good, and proceeded to eat the whole thing...including the peel! Then ask for another one. Convinced this must be a fluke, we gave him another one. Same thing. "More..." So, we gave him one more, and then he asked for another one. At that point, the sensible mom in me said "no more lemon slices until we see the long term effects of those!" Which, fortunately, turned out to be none.

Then, a few weeks ago, we were at a Pumpkin Carving Party and someone, for whatever reason, gave Josh a chunk of raw pumpkin. You can guess what happened next. He thought it was great and asked for another!

Yesterday, I was making mashed potatoes (which of course Joshua wouldn't eat at dinner time) and a raw potato chunk fell on the floor. Joshua picked it up and I said "please don't eat that. Raw potatoes taste gross". Apparently, they don't to Joshua! He then gave Caleb a bite and he liked it too! I don't know what the world is coming too...

On top we have Joshua taking a bite... and then Caleb after trying it too!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tears, Redemption and Re-training

Last weekend we went to the 2nd birthday party of the daughter of one of our friends. The boys had a fun time putting stickers on mini pumpkins, assembling the Pooh alphabet puzzle and generally ignoring the other party attendees. We get to the fun part where we sing happy birthday and eat cupcakes, etc. As we were leaving a little while later, Caleb teared up and said "we didn't have any ice cream". I hadn't even noticed, but apparently that's why Caleb went! :)

Well, the good news is that Philip had already been planning to take Caleb out for ice cream that afternoon as a reward for his good behavior that week. We had been having an issue with a chronic behavior problem with Caleb, so decided to attack with positive re-enforcement, instead of negative (which wasn't working!). The deal was if he made it through 7 days without an episode, a trip for ice cream with daddy would be a reward. Apparently it was motivating! I think we've now had almost 2 weeks without incident at this point. Yeay!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Did You Know...

Caleb has been learning letter sounds as the first step toward reading. He is now fascinated by spelling and what the first letter in a word is. He's doing really well with it and will often say things like, "did you know that cup and cat start with the same letter?" Or he'll ask "how do you spell cabinet?" or "what letter starts with the word book?" So we'll respond, "what letter makes the sound 'buh'?" "B". Right. The funniest thing though is when he says things like this: "Hey Mommy, did you know that rabbit and rabbits and rabbit hop all start with the same letter?" "Actually Caleb, they all start with the same word." "No, they start with the same letter, 'r'." That's a "smile and nod" moment!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Decorating Dilemma

So, after taking several months off from our renovating and redecorating, we are finally starting to tackle some of our remaining projects. Over the weekend, we took a family excursion to Lowe's and picked out paint for the boys' bathroom. We just have to hang the hardware and then I'll post the before and after pics. Although, this was only PART of what I wanted changed in the bathroom. This house was built in the mid-80's and someone had the audacity to use ALMOND in the upstairs bathrooms. Almond, hexagonal tiles, almond toilet, shower, etc. I HATE ALMOND! However, re-tiling a bathroom and shower is not a weekend project, so for now, we've left it. Although, Philip was doing some research and it appears there is a product available to refinish showers and tubs...tempting. But the hexagonal floor WILL be going at some point. And probably the cabinets, vanity, toilet, mirror and light fixtures at some point. Not only do I really hate the way it all looks, but whenever we do resell this house, it's going to have to be done at that point anyway. Most people aren't real into 1980's bathrooms anymore. But anyway, we'll have to get to all that as time and money allows. So, all that to say, we're only part way done with the bathroom.

Anyway, the real dilemma is that we want to re-paint Caleb's room, which is currently green. The problem is that we want to paint it some kind of blue, but we have been informed by Caleb, "if you paint it blue, I won't like favorite color will always be orange." When we were picking carpet for the house, Caleb wanted orange for his room, when asked what color we should paint the You can see by the picture, that an orange room would be a little overwhelming, so we're trying to figure out a good compromise. Anyone know a good (cheap!) way to get some orange on his walls without having to paint the whole thing that way?

Our Budding Theologian

Recently, we have noticed a big increase in the number and quality of questions Caleb has been asking, especially about theological/Biblical matters. Here is a sampling from the past few weeks:

1. If Jesus created everything, how were Mary and Joseph (as his parents) around before He was?

2. Are we all going to be smashed up against in other in heaven (or will there be space)?

3. What does "saved by grace" mean?

4. What does "fruit of the spirit" mean?

5. Why are there people in the world?

I see he'll be keeping us on our toes... Apparently he comes by this questioning honestly...Philip did the same thing as a little guy. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The First Five Years

So, several of you have asked, how about the highlights of the last five years? Well, I could only put so many pictures in the last post, so I decided not to focus on the after, just the before, but due to popular demand, I'll hit some highlights here. :) I have to warn you, it might be a mini-novel! I like pictures. :)

In the eight weeks after we got married, my brother and Philip's brother also got married. It was a busy fall! Anyway, after all that settled down, Philip and I took a fun last minute weekend cruise to the Bahamas, and a major perk was that before heading home (since the cruise was from Miami) we got to visit with my grandparents. It has been the only time they met Philip. Then, here we are in March 2003 with my brother Dan and his wife Angela at their condo. They lived here in the DC area as well until the fall of 2004. We still miss them! The happy news about this picture is that we had just found out I was pregnant with Caleb.

After we found out we were expecting, that summer we purchased a townhouse and moved there about six weeks before Caleb was born. Our small group at the time was an amazing help in getting the house painted and helping with the move. In addition to being way pregnant, right after we started the house painting, I wound up in the hospital at 31 weeks with inexplicable side pain. After a few days, they operated on my abdomen in an attempt to find the problem. They never did, but after the operation, the pain went away. Truly bizarre. Our group and our family helped carry us through this scary time of not knowing what was going to happen to me or the baby, and helped us with the physical recovery afterward. Amazingly, Caleb stayed in the womb and wasn't born until he was full term. This is experience is largely was led us to the name Caleb, which means "tenacious". He sure is! The other picture is of us on our first anniversary. I was 8 months pregnant at the time.

Here with are with Caleb when he is about 3 or 4 days old in November 2003.

Some of our best memories from 2004 come from the Hines family trip to Montana with the whole clan. We spent a week at a friend of the family's home and had a wonderful time. We drove out from Seattle, so on the way some of us went to Yellowstone. An added fun thing about this trip was that my sister Deborah (11 at the time) was able to come along with us. Here is Caleb getting an ice cream cone, courtesy of his grandpa!

Christmas 2004 was another special time as the Hines family gathered at Philip's parents' home in Georgia. We had lots of fun that trip, although I missed a lot of it because I caught a horrible cold the day we arrived! I think I singlehandedly kept Kleenix in business. During this visit, we shared with the family that Caleb's new sibling was going to be a brother!

Joshua tried his best to arrive twice before he actually did on May 15, 2005. God blessed us though by working the timing out so that Philip's brother and wife (Paul and Vanessa) could be around to stay at home with Caleb while we went to the hospital. God also blessed me with a fast, easy delivery, and a really easy recovery. Here is Caleb meeting his little brother. The boys are exactly 18 months apart.

Philip loves his boys and since I am the chief photographer around our house, we have lots of great pictures of the three of them. This is one of my favorite. Joshua is about 3.5 months old here at the end of August. In mid-September, we took a trip to Charlotte to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday (a month early). We had a fun surprise party for him, and he got lots of razzing...hence the chef's hat. He's with my sister Deborah.

We could tell from the get-go that Joshua was cut from different cloth than Caleb. This is one of all time favorite pictures of Joshua. He's only about 8.5 months here, but boy can you see the mischief lurking in his eyes!

Thanksgiving 2005 the Hines family came to our home in VA and we had a great time together. If you have been receiving Christmas letters from us for a while, you recognize this picture!

We actually wound up spending Christmas 2005 by ourselves. It was a little sad to not have family around, but we tried to still make it fun with the boys. They were a little young to really get what was happening. Here we decided to give Joshua a kissing lesson. :) Christmas night we opened our home to other young families from church who were also alone, so we had a nice time of fellowship that evening.

The porch swing that makes the backdrop for this picture was pulled off the curb when one of our neighbors was moving and throwing it out. It's a little rickety, but it's become one of our favorite places to sit, and one of the best places to take pictures. Here's the boys in March 2006.

In June 2006, Philip and I got away for the first time for more than one night since Caleb was born, thanks for Philip's parents. We flew the boys to Atlanta and then continued on to Puerto Rico for 5 days by ourselves! The trip was courtesy of Southern Living at Home and was a wonderful time. We had just found out that I was pregnant with our third child, which I wound up losing several months later at 13 weeks.

One of our favorite memories from the fall of 2006 was our trip to the National Zoo over Labor Day weekend with Philip's parents. Caleb had a blast, but you would never have known it at the time as he never cracked a smile. Joshua, on the hand, was exuberance personified. After the Zoo, we also made a quick trip to the National Cathedral and then to Bucca di Beppos (a Hines family favorite) for dinner. It was a great day.

The boys' first cousin, Will, was born in April 2006 to my brother Dan and Angela. Here are Caleb and Will in September 2006.

In October 2006, we took a family trip to Boone, NC (where I went to college) to visit some old friends. This picture was taken at Linville Falls (the place Philip and I went the day he told me he didn't think our relationship was going beyond friends). As you can see, we had less than cooperative subjects. Caleb hasn't really willingly smiled for many pictures since around the time Joshua was born. On the way to Boone, we stayed overnight with some other friends and attended a wedding. Afterwards, we took a quick trip to Charlotte to see my Grandma Kroboth.

Thanksgiving 2006 was really special. It was the first time the whole Kroboth family (all five kids and the parents) had been together in six years. We celebrated at our place. During this visit, we told the family that I was expecting again and was due in July. We wound up also losing this baby, this time at 18 weeks in February 2007.

Christmas was great fun that year as well, since the boys were able to get into the spirit of the holiday some and really understand what all the fuss was about (Jesus). We have some great memories of times spent together.

In January, God led us to the purchasing of this home. It's located about 3 miles from our townhouse, but offered more room to grow, as well as a yard, a garage and a really quiet cul-du-sac (there are only 3 house on it!). An extra bonus is that the cul-du-sac lots back to woods which go down to the Potomac River. It's about a mile walk, and one that Philip and the boys take frequently. After moving in, we spent most of our Spring doing projects (major and minor) to the house. Maybe that will be it's own blog post!

Easter this year was spent in Charlotte, again with the whole Kroboth family. The day after Easter, my younger brother Tim received his Eagle Scout award. Here he is taking the oath from Eagle Scout brother Dan.

This picture of Caleb and Philip is one of my favorites. Philip really is a wonderful dad and moments like this exemplify that! They are at the little park that is a 5 minute walk from our house. Philip and the boys go there quite often. Then we have Joshua's second birthday. He was so serious that day, I don't know why, so we don't have pictures of him smiling. But, let me tell you, he LOVED this cake! Of course it's Bob and Larry from VeggieTales. He has a picture of just the cake that he still carries around with me. He calls it his "Bob cake".

Our couples' small group is still a big priority in our lives. The couples who are in it have changed over several times, but we have been so blessed by those who have also chosen to prioritize God and their marriage. Here I am at my birthday celebration with several of the ladies who have been in the group over the years.

This August we had been planning for months to go to the beach near Charleston SC with the Hines family. Shortly before we were to leave, we received word that Philip's grandpa, an amazing, Godly man, had passed away suddenly. Plans were modified and the whole family (minus our boys) was able to first gather in Tacoma, WA for beautiful military and church memorial services. It was really a very special trip.

Philip and I had left the boys with my family in Charlotte, so we flew back to Charlotte, picked up the boys and Deborah and drove on down to Charleston for 5 days. We were joined by Paul and Vanessa and their 6 month old son Forest and Philip's mom and dad. We had a blast. The boys had a wonderful time playing at the beach, and it was great to have more time to spend together as a family.

So, there is the not-so-brief recap of the last five years. This takes us to the end of August and the events since then are already described on the blog. :) If you made it to the end of this entry, congratulations!