Monday, May 31, 2010

Dress up Gavin

Chloe found this hat...begged me to put it on Gavin.
The Result: A very adorable photo opp!

Boy, I LOVE this boy with his ever-present smile :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Birthday Girl

We had Chloe's birthday party last night. I didn't go overboard...a few flowers, a few balloons, a cake and some grandparents. But it doesn't take much to make our three-year-old happy!

I wanted to share a few photos from Chloe's party.

First the flowers...

And balloons...

The cake, which was made by Grandma Sanders. When she offered to make Chloe a strawberry cake, I jumped at the chance to have her make it. One: because my oven has been wacky lately. And two: because it fit Chloe's requested Strawberry Shortcake theme perfectly. So thanks Grandma Bonnie for make the cake! After Grandma made it, I then got to decorate it with strawberries and of course, Strawberry Shortcake on top...

Chloe had so much fun opening presents. She's truly a girl, and loves every card she gets, unlike the boys who barrel through the cards to get to the presents...

At the end of the night, I had one very happy truly blessed three-year-old...

You are so loved Chloe Faith! Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chloe is Three

My girl turns three years old today! Hard to believe she's only been in our family for three years, because I simply can't recall life without her. Yes, I of course remember beyond the three years she's been in our lives, but Chloe is such a BIG part of our lives now that she seems to have always been here. She just has such a presence about her.

Believe me, the girl is LOUD! But she is also jam-packed with joy. I really believe that there is just so much happiness packed inside that little body that she could never be anything but loud. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Well...maybe when I'm trapped in a car with her on one of our long family road trip vacations it would be nice to be able to turn down the volume a bit. But other than that, wouldn't change a thing ;)

Chloe LOVES to have her picture taken and her photographer momma just happens to love taking pictures. It's a win-win! Here are a few I took this week to commemorate my little {three-year-old} lady{click on the photo to see it larger}...

And in honor of Black & White Wednesday, one guessed & white!

We love you so much Chloe Faith. My life is so much more joy-filled just by having you in it. You are such a blessing to your dad and I, and to your brothers.

For more black & white photography, check out Lisa's blog at
The Long Road to China.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goodbye Samson

Today is a very sad day for the Sanders Family. Our nine-year-old Saint Bernard, Samson, died today. Jason found him as he went to routinely give Sam food and water. I had just opened the door to shake out a rug as I saw Jason walking towards me from Samson's kennel. The look on his face, coupled with the words 'I need to talk to you,' made my heart sink. I knew immediately something was wrong. And tears flowed upon hearing the words 'Samson died.' He was not just a dog to us. He was a family member. He was my first baby.

Jason and I had been married just over one year when we drove to Illinois to pick up our new pup. I fell in love with him immediately. He sat in my lap the whole way home and stole my heart from the start. It was less than six months after we had him that he began to limp. Upon taking him to the vet, we discovered he indeed had hip dysplasia, a disease that causes crippling arthritis, leading to severe pain and loss of the ability to walk. The choice was ours: put our pup to sleep or pay for him to have a hip replacement. Of course, it was no choice at all...we scheduled his surgery right away. He wasn't just a dog, he was like a child to us.

After a short recovery period, Samson went on to live a long, healthy and happy life. We knew large breeds life expectancy is shorter, 8 to 10 years to be exact. But still were not prepared for today.

And neither were the kids.

Because, how can you prepare for the death of a family member.

This evening as we buried Samson and said prayers to put him to rest, Cooper prayed, "I'll miss ya boy." Gabe said quietly, trying to hold back the tears, "I can't wait to walk with you in heaven Sam!" And as we said amen, we all had tears in our eyes. He was a good friend.

Tonight, Chloe is still oblivious. She kept saying things like, 'Samson's sleeping? He's never waking up?' But really, didn't 'get' it. But we all know that a few years of age makes a big difference. Cooper at almost five-years-old and Gabe at seven are taking it hard. Cooper cried, saying "I just want to walk with him, one more time." And Gabe sobbed in his bed. To him, not only does he miss his dog, but he has also started thinking further. After all, if Samson can die, and Great Grandpa & Aunt Fern can die as they both did within the last few years, then mom and dad could die too.

I tried to reassure him that mom and dad aren't going to die for a long, long time, until we're old and gray, but the fact is I don't know that. From the moment sin entered the world, so did death. As the Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death..." Everyone dies. That's why it's important to live each day to the fullest. To not take our loved ones or our pets, or the opportunities that God places in front of us to love on other people and make a difference in the lives of everyone we come in contact with for granted. Because tomorrow may be our last. All we can do is pray that with the Lord's grace, we live our lives for His glory, and with purpose.

But to the tender heart of a seven-year-old missing his pup, all of that doesn't resonate the way the pain of losing a best friend does. It hurts. And the tears continue to flow, as I pause to comfort Gabe coming out of his room for the third time crying.

So tonight, would you please say a little prayer for my kiddos, missing their pup. And for their parents too ;) Because Samson is a dog that could never be replaced. A little hole will exist in all our hearts where he once was. He was gentle, and playful, and kind-hearted. He loved us and we loved him. And he will be greatly missed.

I leave you with the last photos of Samson, taken about three weeks ago. The photos, snapped as Sam walked across the backyard are nothing special, but the dog sure was.

Friday, May 21, 2010

9 months

Gavin turned nine months on April 31. And I just took him to his check-up today. Can you say busy?!?

Or maybe I've just been putting off the inevitable...another milestone recorded. It all goes by so fast, too fast. Yes, a resounding theme on this blog, but one that is so very evident every time I look at my four children, growing and changing so much everyday.

Gavin's 9 Month Stats:
Height: 28 1/4" {33 %}
Weight: 18 lbs. 15 1/2 ounces {5 %}

Gavin continues to be such an easy going baby. He loves to hang out and watch his brothers and sister. Cooper and Gavin continue to share a special bond, and Coop is often seen carrying {yikes} Gavin from room to room, talking to him and showing him new things {mostly good!} Gavin is pulling himself up to everything and beginning those first steps towards cruising.

I just love this age. Wish I could freeze time and have the kids stay this age for just a bit longer. But, as I said before, it's all inevitable. I just have to make sure to enjoy every minute!

We just got our hay baled recently, so I took advantage of the opportunity and got a few shots of Gavin in the field. He loves being outdoors.

I sat him on top of the hay bale, and he was so excited!

Love those baby toes...

It didn't take long for Gavin's farm boy roots to come out. He kept putting hay in his mouth...

Making the funniest faces as he chewed on that hay...

Has it really been nine months {almost ten!}

Oh how I love this little guy...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hershey's Track Meet 2010

One word to describe my life lately: busy! Busy doing photo shoots, planning and executing The Amazing Race for the youth group, taking kids to doctor's check-ups and dentist appointments, taking Gabe to football practice and baseball practice. Busy.

Due to my busy state, the blog has sadly been neglected. I really do hope to get better about updating, for this is my journal of events our family experiences. The kids are growing and changing so fast, with every day bringing a new adventure that I don't want to forget!

I could write posts about each of the before mentioned events, but I don't know that I have time to do it, or that you'd care to read it! But I would like to write a bit about this year's Hershey's Track Meet. If you recall, Gabe has been competing in this event for the past two years. You can read about it here, and here. And Cooper has been anxiously waiting for his turn to compete. This was his year! Cooper finally met the age requirement for participation, and boy was he excited! He had sat and watched Gabe run and jump and throw softballs for the past two years, and he was thrilled it was finally his turn!

This year, Gabe {age 7} competed in the 7 and 8 year old age bracket. So, the competition was stiff! Gabe chose to do the long jump, the softball throw and the 50 meter dash. He was so very proud when he placed third in the 50 meter! And I have to say, we were a bit surprised. I used to run track, before I messed up my knee in a hurdle event. But I was fast, running sprints. Jason participated in track as well, but he was not a runner. He did the shot put and discus. And since Gabe seems to be build more like Jason, for strength rather than speed, we had assumed running would not be Gabe's strong point. This just goes to show what a strong spirit and work ethic can accomplish. Your body style only accounts for so much, then determination kicks in. Gabe ran his hardest and it paid off. We are so proud of him, not for winning a ribbon, but for always trying his absolute best.

Cooper participated in the long jump, the 50 meter dash and the 100 meter dash. He was in the 5 and 6 year old age bracket. And since Cooper hasn't even turned 5 yet, the competition was stiff for him as well. But Cooper showed that he has some great natural jumping ability, and jumped for 3rd place in the long jump! My heart just filled with joy as I saw the look on his face when they read his name over the loud speaker. Coop had seen his athletic big brother win ribbon after ribbon and trophy after trophy in various sporting events for the past few years. The last thing Cooper said to me as I tucked him into bed the night before the track meet was, "I only hope I win one ribbon mom!" So I was so happy for him to have accomplished his goal!

Cooper is little, but is a very fast runner, finishing second in his heat. Although Cooper didn't place in the top three in his racing events, the long jump ribbon made up for it and he didn't mind a bit.

I am just glad to see that both boys had a blast, accomplished their goals, and walked away with a sense of achievement. I am so proud of the character they display, congratulating their friends and being content with trying their best. These are traits that will bring them far in life.

I didn't take many pictures. I think I was so enthralled with watching that I forgot to pick up the camera much of the afternoon. But here are a few I did capture...

Gabe doing the long jump...

Measuring the jump as Dad and Cooper look on...

Cooper doing the long jump...

Gabe doing the softball throw...

Cooper {second from right} waiting to start his race. He had no idea how to stand to prepare for the starting gun. He just stood up straight, arms at his sides, looking quite serious...

Gabe, waiting to start the 50 meter dash, which he placed third in...

Cooper with his first-ever ribbon, the smile telling the story...

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Girl in a Field

The other day, Chloe was sitting in our field enjoying the late afternoon. The sun was descending and casting a perfect warm glow. As I watched her, I decided I just had to have an impromptu photo shoot. Nothing special, just a girl in a field. But I just cherish these pictures. Chloe is such a joy-filled little girl. I admire her carefree, kind spirit. And I just couldn't love her any more!

I added some texture to these first couple. I think they look like paintings. These photos may just inspire me to get out my canvases, paint brushes and paint, and finally begin another project. I haven't painted in over a year and oh how I miss it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For My Four

I used to be a writer. Before kids, before my husband, before real life. When I was little, I would write stories for hours, dreaming of fanciful adventures in faraway places. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd without hesitation respond: a writer. It was a passion.

When I grew up, I did become a writer. And a photographer. Yet a bit of the innocence and fantasy had departed as I had become a newspaper reporter. My job was to report the news, with no embellishments and no fictional tales. I took photos of what happened, exactly as it happened. There was not much room for the creative mind I'd once utilized as a child, sitting in my backyard with my notebook and paper. It was facts that made up my stories. It was life.

And then I had my first child. And my second and third, and now my fourth. And as I transitioned from working outside the home, to primarily working inside the home, writing quickly became about them. Writing in their baby books, recording every milestone they achieved. Writing on this blog, journaling about what their current passions and hobbies are. And somehow, my passions and hobbies evolved into them.

I am still a writer. I write about how my children touch my heart everyday. About how they challenge me to be
more...more of a person modeled after Christ so that He is what they see in me. I write about guilt, feeling that so many days I can't seem to measure up to what I wish I could be for them, for my husband, and friends, and ultimately for the Lord. I write about how I am so full of joy when I look at my children, that I feel like I may burst. I write about how thankful I am for my own mother, and how I can finally realize all that she sacrificed to be the self-less mother she truly is. And I write about how my life would not be the same had I not had these four children. Everything I write is intertwined with them somehow, because they are a part of me and I, a part of them.

I took a photo of the kids the other day as we spent a little leisure time by a nearby lake. The three oldest were sitting together, side-by-side, peering out into the water. I sat Gavin down beside them, grabbed the camera and snapped a couple shots.

And as I looked at the images from that day, I was inspired to write once again, about them.

This poem is entitled, '
For my Four.'

As a child I dreamed of life, of what would someday be
I dreamed of being a writer and of what I may achieve
Of rewards that would fulfill, and make me a person of worth
And of earning acclamations that would prove my existence on earth

And now I am a writer, but one of greater cause
Worth far more than money or fame, or an audience applause
I am a wife to a man of the Lord and mother to my four,
I am a woman following Christ, and striving to be more
More than anything this world can give, more than earthly awards can bestow
I am a mother whose purpose in life is to help my four to grow

At times it seems without reward, and lacking much prestige
But I know that being a mom to my four is more than what is seen
It's the hidden treasures that lie in heaven as my four learn and become
The people the Lord would have them to be, people that overcome
That set aside things the world would tell us to strive for
That become people the Lord can use, people of purpose, wanting more

More than this world can offer in pretty packages, or in fame, fortune or gold
I pray my four become servants of God shaped through this mother by His mold

And so as a mother to my four, my passion for writing has changed
Its not about me anymore, my priorities have been rearranged
I pray my children will always see that the Lord comes first
my passions I give to writing, my husband, my four

so that I am never left wanting more

I pray that as my children dream overlooking a lake of possibilities, that whatever they become someday they choose to give it to the Lord. That their passions are found in Him, and they can experience the fulfillment only He can bring us. Greater than any passions, any awards that can be achieved on this earth is He. He is our deliverer and our true contentment can only be found in Him, not in any passion pursued by our own hearts.

{Thanks for visiting my Black & White Wednesday photo entry...yes I know, the writer in me got the best of this post! Sorry :) But I hope you enjoyed the photo too! For more black & white photography, visit The Long Road to China.}