Saturday, September 28, 2013

Celebrating Brinnly

These pictures in no way to the event justice, but we had a splendid night out at Nakama--a hibachi grill restaurant on the South Side for Brinn's birthday.   At her request, we dressed as fancy as could be while we watched our chef perform his tricks at our table.  The girls were amazed at the onion volcano and flipped shrimp tales. Laney kept declaraing "Hot!  Hot!" at the fire and they were all a little intimidated by the fire. Not so by the food--the steak, sesame chicken, veggies, and shrimp were all big hits.  The sushi appetizers were some of the best we've ever had and girls gobbled them up too.

As is our custom, the birthday girl chose the other meals of the day too--requesting sausage biscuits and lunch and purchasing hot lunch at school that day.  And her dessert of choice was brownies with white chocolate M & M's.  Delightful!

Quote of the Day--by Brinnly

"Hata, don't listen to her!  She's just pretending".  --Brinnly to her imaginary friend, about Mali.

Lovely Lake House

 For our third year in a row, we were gifted a weekend getaway with our partners-in-parenting to beautiful Alpine Lake.  Check out our view as we pulled into the area:

 It wasn't quite swimming weather, but the boating was still splendid, as was the playing and exploring, and general relaxing.

This was one of my favorite spots--across the lake from the house

 So many good memories in a beautiful setting.  I wish I had captured more shots of the indoors time.  Good thing Kellie had her fantastic camera there with us.  See more of her shots here.

And of course, the final kid-shot on the steps.  Once again, a new one in the mix.  Quite a group, these eight. We are blessed by them.  Thanks, Ryan and Michael families!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


We keep looking at the clock today to remind Brinnly that six years ago on this day, she still had not made her appearance to the world.  We should have known that a 25 hour labor would lead to an child occasionally dubbed "high-maintenance". Never in a million years could we have dreamed how sweet that child was.  When a tiny, blue-faced Brinnly Ruth Ward finally arrived at 10:52 pm that night, we knew our family had been blessed.

I remember when she was around two and a half or three that we claimed that life was hard on her.  She was sandwiched between one older and one younger sister and struggled to claim her pace. I remember a lot of tantrums from those days.  But when we look back on it now--wow, how things have changed for her.  As Jonathan commented about her at dinner tonight, she wakes up ready to face the world, jumps out of bed, and starts her day with a smile.  (Assuming she gets enough sleep, that is.  She is the sleeper in the family.  Snoozing away in the computer room as I type this because her sisters keep her up too late in their shared room).

When you see Brinnly, the first thing you notice is her accessories.  She's usually decked out in pink cowgirl boots (because I don't allow platform high heels on playgrounds), headbands, and always, bracelets.  The girl likes her bling.  Her big loves are still desserts, baby dolls, dancing, and anything purple.  She's also carved out a niche for herself a the family clown and enjoys her talent of making her sisters laugh.  She is a silly one but also our most sensitive--quick to cry, be hurt, and notice others in need.

She's tough, our girl.  My first running daughter and she's promised me a 5K again together this spring.  She's her daddy's yardwork helper, especially with fall leaves.  Just don't get her too close to a sports Mascot or Chuck E. Cheese or anything similar.  Meltdown city.  Uncle Josh's magic glasses are the only things that can remedy that situation.

Brinnly Ruth, we are so eager to watch you continue to grow in faith and knowledge at school this year.  Your teachers have noted that you live your faith in your friendships and we pray that it will continue to mature.  May we all love as bodly as you do.  I never imagined a rock thrown at a bug on my glass door or pleading with a daughter to eat a berry or peach, but you keep surprising us in so many ways.  Thanks for  being that sweet newborn baby girl who slept best at nights on her daddy's chest. More grown up now, but still as lovely. Our family is stronger and sweeter because of you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crazy Saturday

I just had to recap what a crazy Saturday we had this past weekend.  It started when my alarm went off at 5:00 so I could drive up to meet up with a friend who is training for the same half-marathon that I am.  Ten miles later (That's right, ten!  My first double-digit run ever!) we were sore but proud.  From then I came home to relieve Jonathan of child care so he could run to Home Depot.  He and Carrigan spent some time there picking up needed items and even made a wood craft at the Saturday workshop area.  

We then headed in to Oakland to drop off a fruit salad for a church lunch and more importantly, go visit Rex Carter at the hospital.  He was a precious little bundle and Delaney eventually let all of us hold him too.
While we were on our way there, Jonathan got a call from a friend inviting him for a beer for that friend's birthday. We were in the area, so why not?  The girls and I dropped him there and picked up some impromptu sandwiches for ourselves to eat outside in the same plaza (close but not too close to the guys' afternoon out).  It was perfect weather. 
From there we headed home for naps so Jonathan could also powerwash everything in sight.  Well, mainly just the backyard.  Our baby-sitter came over at dinner time so he and I could head to date night--our neighborhood's Night at the Races.  A fun event that landed us both as winners of door prizes.  One right after another!  We are the proud owners of a golf basket as well as a Sensory gift package.  Not bad for 24 hours! 

Monday, September 09, 2013


Not that there is ever a lack of chatter around this place, but Delaney is certainly adding to the word count these days.  We find her charming and brilliant with such conversation.  Biased, I'm sure.  Here are some of her recent gems:

Me: "Delaney, should we go pick up Carrigan from school?"
Delaney: "No....Brinnly"!

We went to visit new baby Rex the other day in the hospital.  (Photos of that to follow!).  Delaney was quick to dub him "Laney's baby" and if anyone would ask her if they could hold the baby she'd say "No!  LANEY'S baby"!

She loves talking on the phone as well as Skype.  After she said a loud and animated hello to her Grandma Deni last night, she dashed into her closet.  She came back with a onesie that Grandma Deni had given to her (in April!) and pointed to the picture of shoes on  it.  "Baba Deni--pretty--shoes!".  That's right, her Grandma Deni had indeed given her the onesie with the pretty shoes on it. 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Summer 2013 Round-Up

After the now-infamous rock through the door incident on Labor Day, we headed one last time to the pool for the closing potluck.  It started at four while the sun was beaming and the water felt great.  We had time for a short swim and then feasted with our neighbors on burgers and yummy summer foods and headed back into the pool for some more splash time.  And then it thundered.  The lifeguards ordered everyone out, and since that meant we all had to gather not only our children and swim gear but our dinner provisions at the same time, we all headed to our cars to avoid the downpour.  And that marked the end of summer.  It was only six in the evening but that meant time for baths and bedtime before those early morning buses came the next day.  It seemed symbolic for a too-short summer heavy on the rains.  But still, it was a good one with plenty of fun times including:

--Two trips to the zoo (finally using that membership!)
--One trip solely to Michigan
--One trip to Indiana (Pokagon State Park) and then on to Michigan
--One trip to Ohio (Great Wolf) and then on to Indiana (Lake House weekend)
--Four rounds of houseguests (Grandma Sandy, the Muellers, the Wilsons, and the Indiana Ward family)
--Two summer birthday celebrations (Mali and Carrigan)
--Two girls at a week-long day camp (Mali and Brinn at History/Culture/Cooking)
--Three girls at a week-long Vacation Bible School

--Many plans to visit area libraries but each week found us at our own neighborhood "little library" where the girls really enjoyed the new story hour
--One new reader (Brinnly)
--A good number of playdates hosted in our new backyard
--Three girls bribed with pierced ears for the first one to be able to ride a bike without training wheels (we are NOWHERE close to that reward happening)
--One round of swim lessons for three big girls
--Not nearly enough time in the Blackridge pool!

Our main goal for the summer was to enjoy a slower pace of life than the busyness of the school year. We had a lot to get settled in the new house and it was a delight to see how all fit in it just fine.  We loved the snacks, lunches, dinners, and playtime on the new deck as well as the sound of the rain outside from our yellow living room. 

We started a few new routines this summer that went fairly well.  The girls are now responsible for emptying the dishwasher as well as cleaning up their rooms in the morning.  Laney's job is to carry her cup over at every meal--she takes it very seriously!  And my favorite new time is our morning devotions together--simply following the Small Catechism's outline for Morning Prayer has been a lovely marker for the day. (Although let's not pretend these children all sit reverently and participate willingly--we'll do it anyway).

So, adios Summer 2013.  Thanks for the memories, but next year we'll take a few more sunny days and a lot more swimming. 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Our Labor Day

The girls saw a stinkbug on the door and decided to kill it. With a rock. You can see how well that worked out.