Easter Garden

I posted a project on Facebook that I helped our Small Group kids work on Sunday evening.

I had folks asking how to do it, so I thought this would be the easiest way to explain.

I wasn’t planning on documenting this, so I didn’t get pictures of all the stages.

You can use whatever container you wish.

IMG_0304

I went to the local Thrift Store and bought some baskets, and then spray painted them white. (I didn’t paint the inside since it won’t show.)

Next I laid a white garbage bag (don’t open it) over the basket to line it.  Leave the excess hang out until your garden is done.

Fill the basket/container with potting soil.

Next, use your imagination to create the scape of your garden.

IMG_0305

I used these biodegradable pots from Walmart’s garden department for the empty tomb.

IMG_0309

I also bought a package of sheet moss to add some instant green, while we wait for the grass to grow. =)

IMG_0307

Add soil all over the top of the tomb.

Next use some pebbles to create a path. We got ours from our playground area outside, but you can buy them with the mini garden supplies at a greenhouse.  Walmart might have them too?

Then add your moss.

IMG_0302

Now you are ready to plant your grass.  Someone said that wheat grows faster then grass, so that’s what we used.  I just got 2# from a local Feed Elevator.  (I only used about 1/2# for the four gardens we made) It’s considered bird feed, I think. Really cheep.  You can use any kind of wheat you want!

Plant it really thick, so you have nice thick grass when it grows.

Lightly cover the seeds with more potting soil.

Create 3 crosses from sticks and twine.  Make the crosses really long, so you have room to stick them down into the dirt nice and deep and sturdy.

Plant the crosses.

Get a large rock outside to use as the tomb stone.

Optional, but adds pretty: You can get small mini garden flowers to plant in a corner somewhere.

Now trim off the excess bag.

Get a spray bottle filled with fresh water to mist your seeded area.

You will need to keep this moist.

Spray it several times a day.

In a few days you will see the seeds begin to sprout!

By Easter you should have a beautiful picture of the true meaning of Easter!

IMG_0310

HE IS RISEN!

THE TOMB IS EMPTY.

RESURRECTION POWER!

If your grass grows too high, use a scissors to “mow” the grass.

Enjoy!

Here is a picture that I got off the web.  See how pretty it looks with the green grass!

e671dd3a5d7199beae0e46f13af89ae8

Can’t wait till ours starts to grow!

Okay, now go get your supplies quick  and get this started so it’s in full bloom by Easter!

Snippets of our life….

If someone would have told me 3 months ago, we’d be facing what we are, I would have said, there’s no way I can do it.

It’s only because of God’s grace and His strength that we are able to walk this journey.

Facing an inoperable brain tumor in my dear husband, has been the most heart rending thing.

but

God is our Rock.

We are praying for a miracle.

We have hope.

God has already answered prayers!

Thank you Jesus.

God’s grace is felt in ways that cannot be explained.  Supernatural.

God is at work through His people.  It’s amazing.

So, here are just a few treasure from the life God has given us.

IMG_2126

Caring thoughtful friend….

IMG_2125

Delicious food

IMG_2124

Nutritious Soup! heavenly.

IMG_2123

A short and sweet visit from my wonderful Dad…. which merits baking his favorite pie – Raisin Cream!

IMG_2102

Tearful heart wrenching goodbyes as my soul friend laid her mother to rest.

IMG_2101

Amazing Doctor who said his reason for doing what he’s doing is to “help people, not get rich”!

IMG_2099

Dropping to our knees to pray to our Heavenly Father about urgent needs! The innocent beautiful prayers of our children must surely ascend to God as such a precious and sweet smell.

IMG_2090

Family times in SC with these dear people who we hadn’t seen for 1 1/2 years. Serving the Lord in Ireland. What a treasure to see them again!

IMG_2089

Goofy little girl who brings so much joy and laughter to our lives!

IMG_2088

Dear 6 year old niece who spent a week in the hospital. Operating on both knees and one hip…. to wash out infection. Doctors are thinking she has Lyme’s Disease. She is doing well now. Praise God!

IMG_2081

Dear friends who fixed lots of goodies for our traveling to SC over Thanksgiving. So generous!

IMG_2128

Sipping “sweet milk” and thinking of sweet girlfriend of my heart!

IMG_2097

Traveling with my dear sister and her wonderful husband and their dear boys. What a generous offer of them to travel with us in my Dad-in-law’s maxi van, so that I didn’t have to do all the driving.

IMG_2076

Dress up day at school….Meet scientist son!

IMG_2045

Precious time with Ravi…. school trip to Cleveland Orchestra! Wow!

IMG_2111

Dog sitting…. time to walk the dogs and get some fresh air! We love Ginger and Penny.

IMG_2095

Getting exercise at McDonalds playground to break up the long road home. Special nephew!

IMG_2087

Precious – Grandmom and Callie watching the Carrousel on our little shopping trip one day.

IMG_2084

Hugs and hellos we love so much in the warm sunny south.

IMG_2077

Caring Sister and husband who are faithfully walking with us on this journey God is taking us on. We are so grateful for family and friends!! (major understatement!)

IMG_2060

Pajamas, heels and gun! Callie so colorful.

IMG_2059

Dutch Blitz with Aunt Thelma! Fun times.

IMG_2054

Elyse and the snow board. Dad is coaching.

And trust me, this really is, just snippets of our life.  There are countless other treasures that I didn’t catch on camera.

But, it is treasured none the less!!

Celebrating 6 years!

I don’t think I will go into explaining my lack of activity here on this little blog.

With yesterday’s special event of a beautiful birthday girl, it pushes me to make another stab at documenting the day.

Elyse Mary Byler

July 23, 2008

How well I remember that day 6 years ago.  Riveted in my mind.

After a very hard labor with our first baby Ravi (30 hours labor and almost 4 hrs pushing)

I was very very scared of how this next birth would go.  So after 12 hours of labor, and very little progress, complete with an epidural that didn’t work, the Dr recommended that we go to operating room for a C-section.  I was eager to consent.

So, we rushed into surgery and within minutes the miracle of our first born girl was reality.

A miracle to be sure.

Worth every bit of pain or discomfort of the past 9 months!!

What a precious pink bundle of love!

Elyse has been such a precious daughter.  Even tho she went through some difficult times during her 2nd and 3rd years which gave me a few gray hair.  But, with time and God’s help we were able to understand and work through some of those frustrations.  She continues to grow more beautiful each year.  When I talk of beauty, I am focusing on her inner beauty.  God has given her an extraordinary heart.

A heart of tenderness and love for Him.

Her desire to honor God is something I pray will only grow deeper as she matures.

I talked about desire to be His child here.

Beautiful birthday girl.

Beautiful birthday girl.

Elyse is talented beyond her years.

She loves to draw and color!

6 candles!

6 candles!

When she woke up on her birthday morning, I told her to put a nice dress on.

She went a little above what I meant, but I decided to let her wear a princess dress for her special day.

Because, after all, she is a Princess.

Blow girl blow....

Blow girl blow….

Elyse has such a caring heart.  She will often be heard comforting her baby sister

and helping someone in need!

From Mom & Dad with much love.

From Mom & Dad with much love. – Paints, paint brushes and a salon chair for her AG doll.

She cares about the needs of others.

Happy for a chair she can strap her doll in and comb her hair without her falling over.

Happy for a chair she can strap her doll in and comb her hair without her falling over.  Also coming soon in the mail (yes this mom procrastinated once again) is an art easel with a fresh roll of paper for to hone her artistic talents.

She has determination that amazes me too.  She is always up to a race with her big brother, or  will try to wrestle him down.  With Ravi being 3 years her senior, she doesn’t really stand a chance.  But in reality, she puts up a BIG fight and often surprises us with her strength, speed and determination!

A fun activity we did on Elyse's birthday.

A fun activity we did on Elyse’s birthday.  Tinfoil, water and any small floating device.

Elyse making a boat for floating down the stream.

Elyse making a boat for floating down the stream.

The day of her birthday this year was pretty “normal”.  We plan to have her cake and a little party next week when we are camping with some of my family.  We invited two of her cousins to come spend the afternoon/evening here which was a lot of fun for all the children!

A treat of a movie after supper was a highlight for the day too.

Her sweet cousin Hannah came over to play, and gave  her a cute puppy.

Her sweet cousin Hannah came over to play, and gave her a cute Pucci Pup with comb and leash.

She is a bit shy by nature when she is in a crowd of people.

But, one to one she is a talkative and expressive little person!

It was fun to have Nate & Hannah (cousins) here to join us for supper.

It was fun to have Nate & Hannah (cousins) here to join us for supper.

She’s a hard working little lady.  She loves loves loves to help me in the kitchen, and help make food!

She loves to have jobs to do, and a “list” for her jobs makes her so happy!  If I forget, she will remind me to add “FUN TIME!” at the bottom of the list, so we don’t forget to have some fun after our work is done!🙂

Elyse ordered bbq chicken, mashed potatoes and strawberry delight for her birthday meal.

Elyse ordered bbq chicken, mashed potatoes and strawberry delight for her birthday meal.

China and goblets for the special celebration.

China and goblets for the special celebration.

I’m sure I’m a bit biased since I’m her mom, but honestly I look at Elyse and feel so unworthy that God gifted me with such a lovely daughter.

Elyse I love you and treasure the gift of Life God has given you for us to share together.

Never forget, you are lovely and God made you just the way He wants you to be.

He has a divine plan for your life.

Happy 6th birthday dear daughter.

All my love,

Mom

A New Year….

(I started this post as we were waiting for my husband to get well enough to travel back up North.  We are now home and fitting back into the saddle.🙂 )

As I sit here in my parents beautiful spacious home and ponder….

IMG_1707

We’ve been gone now for about 10 days and now have our things mostly packed and ready to head back up North,

….where the cold, chilling wind howls

though the naked trees…

as they reach toward the grey skies.

winter

LOL,😉

you get the picture?

We have enjoyed our time in the South so very very very much.

IMG_1226

Just being in the presence of these warm hospitable Southern folks, gives us a warm glow inside our soul.

IMG_1507 IMG_1506IMG_1426 IMG_1377 IMG_1290 IMG_1238 IMG_1291 IMG_1320

There really is something special about the South (even my northern husband agrees).

I was born in the deep south (Sarasota, FL), and then spent most of my growin’ up days in SC, so I’m sure I’m prejudice.🙂

IMG_1635

IMG_1634

IMG_1631

IMG_1630

The other evening we ate supper at IHOP.

The younger cousins who could manage their plates alone were sitting down at the end of our long table, so afterwards Ravi and his cousin Joshua were merely gasping as they told us how the waitress talked to them.  “What can I get for you, Handsome?…

and for you Cutie?”

 We laughed and told them how it sounded up at our end of the table;

she called Granddad “baby doll”.

The children really got a kick out of hearing this Southern waitress gush over all of us.

And, that is just so typical of the South.

When you pump gas and go in to pay,  you’re likely to be called “honey, sweetie, or precious” (all with a southern drawl).  Total strangers.

So, now it’s time to say goodbye to the people and places we once called “home”.

The memories and renewed relationships will go down as “Christmas 2013” in our records.

IMG_1608IMG_1728 IMG_1727 IMG_1663IMG_1649

IMG_1591


IMG_1593
IMG_1589 IMG_1598IMG_1587 IMG_1584IMG_1559 IMG_1556IMG_1613

IMG_1551 IMG_1528 IMG_1524

We’ll look back on the pictures and treasure them dearly.

Our “vacation” was as busy as it ever has been, that I can remember.  We arrived in Va. Beach (right on the beach) and got settled in at our beach house.  My sis and her husband are remodeling their house in a major way, requiring that they move out for several months.  They are renting a beach house during this renovation.

IMG_1458

Our goal this year was to spend 5 days with them and see what we can do to help them with their remodel project.  Every day (except Christmas day) the men crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn and donned their tool belt and made the 20 minute drive to the work site and hung siding.IMG_1619

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I helped Marlene with painting ceilings and picking out paint colors for the house.  We even got to do some fun Thrift Store shopping part of one day.  If you ever go to Va Beach, the Thrift Stores there are like none other.  Seriously, you can find quite the deals!!  They credit this in part to the fact that there is a Navy Base there and there is a lot of folks relocating and rather then moving all their things, they donate it.

All in all the time spent in Va Beach was immensely good, even tho not as restful as is typical for vacation time.  It’s always fun to work with family and see how much you can make a difference in their work project!

IMG_7392

We felt a big hole throughout the entire time, due to the fact that my favorite brother and SIL and their lovely family were not with us.  They moved to Ireland last year and traveling home for the holidays was not an option.  We sorely missed them.  It’s just not the same when some are missing!!  So we resort to phone calls and Skypeing.

IMG_1518

It was extra special to have my aunt Alma and her husband JP Hertzler join us at the beach for about 4 days.  I’ve often said Alma feels like a second mom to me, and they fit right in just like one of our immediate family!  We all loved having them there!! Yes, extra special.

Now, that we are back home, the snow has flown, then wind has howled, the skies have been grey…. and to be honest, there are similar climates trying to get at my heart/soul.  I always have to battle this after the long anticipated time with my family is over.  But, I’m thankful that I now have a 9 year track record, and can rest assured that I won’t “freeze out”, or die of hypothermia of the heart.  It’ll be okay.  With a little time.

And a lot of God’s Grace.

We adjust, and get back into our life in the North where God has called us.

It truly is “home sweet home” when we walk through our doors.

There’s just no place like home.

IMG_1600

And there’s nothing like precious family times.

IMG_1719

Times that I believe I cherish more with each passing year!

I also treasure our life here in the North, and the wonderful family I have know as “in laws”, and am looking forward to some great time/memories with them again too!!

I truly am blessed in so many rich ways.

Joy and love

It’s Time….

It’s Winter time…

IMG_1063

It’s Family time…. (and post Thanksgiving time!)

Love my Byler family so much!!

IMG_0828

IMG_0820

IMG_0832

IMG_0831

IMG_0823

It’s Christmas time…IMG_1126

It’s coffee with a dear beautiful friend time…

IMG_0849b_edited-1

It’s Party time…

IMG_1049

IMG_1080

Untitled-1

It’s Giving time…

IMG_1120

It’s soul searching time…

IMG_1011

It’s a JOYous time!

IMG_0974

It’s a stretching time…

IMG_1056

It’s a Wonderful time…

IMG_1040

It’s teaching time…

IMG_1036

It’s a Precious time…

IMG_0944

IMG_0946

It’s growing in love time…

IMG_1114

It’s cleanup time… (and it REALLY is!!)

IMG_1121

Merry Christmas to each of you my dear friends!

Catching up…..

Let me see if I can get a post started up here quickly while the children are busy picking up their ca-zillion lego blocks from the living room floor.  And while we are on the subject, Lego’s are a definite “yes” to our toy collection.

Photo credit: Ravi

Photo credit: Ravi

Photo credit: Ravi

Photo credit: Ravi

They have spent hours and hours playing and creating all sorts of things from animals to vehicles, to UO’s aka unidentified objects.

Even the Mr & Mrs help with the creations from time to time.

Some fun Lego activities include:

* Dumping them onto the middle of the kitchen table and all gathering around, making teams and building something in 30 minutes.  This  can be anything from a swimming pool with lego people diving and swimming in the invisible deep water, to detailed trucks complete with smoke stack!

* Everyone gathers around the growing pile of lego’s, now now on the living room floor.  We all get the same amount of time to build a specific subject.  Last night’s subjectwas an animal (wish I’d have taken pictures).  Out of this evolved a frog, horse complete with rider and whip, and a very large scary looking dragon.  Quite fun indeed.

These are my "pearls" !

These are my “pearls” !

Life took some very interesting and quite breath taking turns in the past month.

One event that I don’t have pictured in actual photos, but will forever be etched in my memory, was when my Physician called with a report on some tests that I had done, to say there’s a spot on my right kidney and I will need a CT scan to conclude what it is.  The emotions that flooded me at that time, were quite traumatic, and like none I’ve experienced before.  Thank God for a very stable and Godly husband who helped me remember who God is, and that He always cares and has our best interest at heart.  I cried out to God and sought Him in a different way then I ever have before, as well.  There weren’t a lot of words to my prayers, and I am so thankful that God can interpret our groaning of words that cannot be uttered.  I felt His peace, even tho the fear was very real and vivid the entire time.  It would be so nice to say that after talking with God, and feeling Him near, the fear was g.o.n.e.  But, the reality is, that I was scared.

When we went in for the CT scan, I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I have heard stories of being inside this huge capsule type machine and needing to hold very still, which caused apprehension for that whole ordeal in itself.  So, when the lady came to get me, she introduced herself and told me she will be with me/doing the CT scan.  You want to guess what her name was?

“Angel”

Yes, I’m serious!!

My response to her name was “how appropriate!”  I don’t think she quite understood what I was feeling, because her reply was a sweet “thank you”😉

But, when I laid on that narrow CT cot, I got all choked up and started to cry as I thought about how

pa-recious it really was that God gave me a

REAL LIVE ANGEL

to be in that room to be with me!!

How much more special does it get folks??

So, after the CT was done, we went home to wait………..

Only a mere couple hours went by, when my wonderful (I could write a whole post about how much I love my Physician! She is the best!) Physician called to tell me the results.  There were lots of tears of joy and waves of relief to hear that the spots are nothing cancerous but rather fluid filled cysts.  Not even something that worrisome unless it give me a lot more trouble/pain.

There were sacred moments that followed……

…..of standing in the rain where my husband was grilling supper, and the tight embrace we shared as we rejoiced at God’s mercy and answered prayers.

And then another sacred memory of telling the children (I had briefed them of what is going on earlier and the possibilities) that mommy doesn’t have cancer. Their tight hugs and our tears that mingled,

and then the circle we formed, on our knees, in the living room

as my 8 years old, in a broken voice,  prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Sacred indeed.

But, you know…. even if the call would have be “I’m sorry, but you have cancer”, the reality would still be

“God is good and He does care”.

No, it would not have been what I would have desired, but I’m sure any Christian who has/is experiencing illness, sadness, pain and suffering would say God is good … even in the midst of the suffering.

I have indeed experienced that personally through some of the tough times that I have experienced in my lifetime, but those “tough times” to some would seem a bit trivial in comparison.  But, you know, we all have our own measures of pain and sadness,

and albeit not as bad as the next person, it is still hard and difficult.

Okay, I’m getting a bit long winded and scattered here with my thoughts and feel a pull to expound on so many things related to the above.  I’m still processing a lot, and looking at my heart, asking God to show me how He wants to Redeem the parts that need it so desperately.  It’s my heart’s desire to become more and more like Jesus.  To grow and develop who I am IN HIM!!  I do not know how people who don’t know God survive through hard times.  I sincerely thank God once again for His personal interest in my life.

***************************

Here are some shots of our life the past month with a few notes included.

Dear precious friends of our, Allen & Melody Helmuth,  who are preparing to leave for Cambodia in mission work next month came for a few days.  Allen's and  their 9 children feel almost like family and we just loved having them here several times in the past few months.  We're so glad their mission base is here in our area! =)

Dear precious friends of ours, Allen & Melody Helmuth, who are preparing to leave for Cambodia in mission work next month, came for a few days. Allen’s and their 9 children feel almost like family and we just loved having them here several times in the past few months. We’re so glad their mission base is here in our area! =)

Cedrych and his playmate Forrest sit beside the "big boy" Ryan as we enjoy visiting in the living room.

Cedrych and his playmate Forrest sit beside the “big boy” Ryan as we enjoy visiting in the living room.

Sa-weet little Alaina playing.  Darling baby!!

Sa-weet little Alaina playing. Darling baby!!

Fondue skewers doing their job of holding the chicken and steak in the hot oil.

Fondue skewers doing their job of holding the chicken and steak in the hot oil.

Sunday evening fondue supper.

Sunday evening fondue supper.

Chicken and steak for the meat, and later swapping the oil for chocolate and dipping all sorts of dessert in warm melty chocolate.

Chicken and steak for the meat, and later swapping the oil for chocolate and dipping all sorts of dessert in warm melty chocolate.

Cedrych hovers over his work contemplating his next stroke.

Cedrych hovers over his work contemplating his next stroke.

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

Elyse loves anything with paper and colors! Drawing, coloring and painting are her favorite pastimes!!

Elyse loves anything with paper and colors! Drawing, coloring and painting are her favorite pastimes!!

Dining room table turned "art gallery"

Dining room table turned “art gallery”

IMG_0029-001

I’ts a heart!! God has given this girl a big one too!!

Ravi creating his masterpiece. =)

Ravi creating his masterpiece. =)

Life is colorful.

Life is colorful.

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

About once a year we take the children to a nearby indoor children’s playground called “Acres of Fun”.

It’s been a huge highlight for our children.  The playground area is like a really glorified McDonalds playground.  Much much bigger and complex, complete with a “guard” constantly walking around the area keeping tabs, and correcting the over ambitious children.

We were actually a bit turned off by their strict rules the evening we were there.

I mean, come on, this is a playground made for energetic children isn’t it!  I guess all things in moderation.😉

Callie playing in the colored balls.  (This mom was thankful to see the big machines they have to disinfect the balls.)

Callie playing in the colored balls. (This mom was thankful to see the big machines they have to disinfect the balls.)

Cedrych takes his turn at bopping the gators!

Cedrych takes his turn at bopping the gators!

It was interesting to see how excited Ravi was to be going to Acres of Fun, and then to see how frustrated he got with the playground, and how quickly he got bored. He was so let down! We tried to help him understand that it's because he's maturing and things change with time.  The things that used to be thrilling change, and there are new/different thrills.  So, bowling was a new experience that evening which was a new fun thing for him, and helped cheer him up.  I think he wasn't so thrilled about growing up for awhile there. =)

It was interesting to see how excited Ravi was to be going to Acres of Fun, and then to see how frustrated he got with the playground, and how quickly he got bored. He was so let down! We tried to help him understand that it’s because he’s maturing and things change with time. The things that used to be thrilling change, and there are new/different thrills. So, bowling was a new experience that evening which was a new fun thing for him, and helped cheer him up. I think he wasn’t so thrilled about growing up for awhile there. =)

Playing games.

Playing games.

Bowling Alley

Bowling Alley

Small bowling alley and bowling balls for young players.

Small bowling alley and bowling balls for young players.

Ravi plays his first game of bowling and gets good advice from his dad.

Ravi plays his first game of bowling and gets good advice from his dad.

The girls playing.

The girls playing.

Such a typical picture of Elyse looking out for her baby sister!  She takes such good care of both Callie and Cedyrch!

Such a typical picture of Elyse looking out for her baby sister! She takes such good care of both Callie and Cedyrch!

Cedrych "having a ball"

Cedrych “having a ball”

Where's Ravi?

Where’s Ravi?

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

First SNOW!!

IMG_0616-001

Miss Callie wants in on the action too!

IMG_0646-001

Leaves still on the tree!

IMG_0628-001

Elyse having fun in the snow!

IMG_0635-001

Ready for the slide down the hill!

IMG_0638-001

Treck back up the hill…

IMG_0640-001

I think Cedrych enjoyed his ride more then he ever has before! He’s growing up.

IMG_0647-001

Unusual sight of snow covered pumpkins…

Sure there will be hot chocolate and sweet treats for the shivering children!

IMG_0648-001

IMG_0650-001

IMG_0652-001

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

Elyse's dolly's all set up for a party. (notice their applesauce jar props)

Elyse’s dolly’s all set up for a party. (notice their applesauce jar props)

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

IMG_9941-001

Sunday evening walk down the road…with an unplanned stop at “uncle John’s”. Nothing like inviting yourselves in! I guess you can do that with family —– at least we did.😉

IMG_9947-001

Mr & Mrs and the tired baby.

IMG_9938-001

Happy, carefree children!

IMG_9933-001

Big brother give a lift!

IMG_9955-001

On our walk home, we got to see the huge and beautiful moon!! Aweseome wonder!

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

Elyse has had a difficult time staying dry at night,

so with the help of a beeper system she has accomplished staying dry.

We had promised her an American Girl Doll once she can stay dry.

A great motivation, to put it mildly. =)

Now she stays dry all on her own and we don’t have to worry that she won’t wake up on her own!

The whole family got in on this shopping experience!

Although the boys didn’t stick around the doll store very long, but instead found a Lego store  to peruse.

Elyse finally got her hard earned  doll at the American girl store in Columbus.  She was so thrilled!!

Elyse finally got her hard earned doll at the American girl store in Columbus. She was so thrilled!!

Enthralled with the wonder of all the dolls and clothes and doll heaven!!  It's pretty unbelievable what all they have in that store!  Whew, I cannot imagine paying $48 for a doll dress!!

Enthralled with the wonder of all the dolls and clothes and doll heaven!! It’s pretty unbelievable what all they have in that store! Whew, I cannot imagine paying $48 for a doll dress!!

Dolls, dolls and more dolls!

Dolls, dolls and more dolls!

So proud of my big girl!!  I love her so much!!!

So proud of my big girl!! I love her so much!!!

*********     ***********      ***********      **********     ***********      ***********      **********

The last Sunday afternoon that we still had some beautiful color to the trees we went out with a “couple friend” of our family to snap photos!  And snap we did!!  Some of them, and then some of us.  It was a fun (mostly) afternoon.  I get a bit stressed to be photographer/mom on a photo shoot when the children are full of orneriness and boundless energy, and want mom to leave them alone!!

Let you light shine_edited-1

I have a grouping of framed photos of the children on our living room wall.  This year I decided to add one word that best describes each child.  A word of character, and one that we can encourage and develop even more throughout the coming year.

Ravii is our FUN loving, sunshiny, climbing, bookworm!  There are so many fun words to describe Ravi, but I narrowed his down to "willing" as more of a character building trait.  If I ask him to do an errand, most of the time I hear a very ready willing "sure mom".  I love this about him and hope he can keep up his willingness, and to develop a servant heart.

Ravii is our FUN loving, sunshiny, climbing, bookworm! There are so many fun words to describe Ravi, but I narrowed his down to “willing” as more of a character building trait. If I ask him to do an errand, most of the time I hear a very ready willing “sure mom”. I love this about him and hope he can keep up his willingness, and to develop a servant heart!

It was hard to narrow one word down for this girl.  But, "caring" pretty much sums up her overall attitude.  She has such a motherly instinct and does a lot to care for her younger siblings.  She also cares much about her relationship with her heavenly Father, and has a heart for God.

It was hard to narrow one word down for this girl. But, “caring” pretty much sums up her overall attitude. She has such a motherly instinct and does a lot to care for her younger siblings. She also cares much about her relationship with her heavenly Father, and has a heart for God.

Gentle describes Cedrych so well.  He is so tender hearted and seems to already care so deeply when someone is hurt or troubled.

Gentle describes Cedrych so well. He is so tender hearted and seems to already care so deeply when someone is hurt or troubled.

JOY - describes what Callie brings to our family (at least most of the time) =)

JOY – describes what Callie brings to our family (at least most of the time) =)

My wiling assistants bring the prop for the shoot!

My wiling assistants bring the prop for the shoot!

My precious girls and I

My precious girls and I

Mr  & Mrs  Byler (of 9 years now!)

Mr & Mrs Byler (of 9 years now!)

Love my men!

Love my men!

My "boys-en-berries"  !!

My “boys-en-berries” !!

Cedrych at 3 years old!

Cedrych at 3 years old!

It was so cold and this was the end of our photo shoot.   The girls were cold and "done"!  I snapped fast with little fuss or arranging. =)

It was so cold and this was the end of our photo shoot. The girls were cold and “done”! I snapped fast with little fuss or arranging. =)

Well, if you have made it to here, you are doing great!!

It’s hard to know what, and what not to include when it’s gone so long since I’ve updated.

Love and happy Thanksgiving to each of you !!

Carmen signature

Autumn Splendor…

Lovely time of year!

Lovely time of year!

What a lovely time of the year!!  The warmth of summer is lingering this year more then normal.

We still haven’t had a frost.  Hence not a lot of color for the falling leaves.

The nights and mornings are often quite nippy though,  and a little heat feels so good!

Holding a cup of steaming coffee in the morning as I find time to prepare my  heart for the day is extra inviting!!

Pumpkin begging to be turned into pie!

Pumpkin begging to be turned into pie!

Happy pumpkin decor...

Happy pumpkin decor…

Deck touches of autumn

Deck touches of autumn

Lovely mum in full bloom (sorry a bit blurry, and I'm too lazy to go take another pic!)

Lovely mum in full bloom (sorry a bit blurry, and I’m too lazy to go take another pic!)

A bit of summer left.  Too pretty to pitch out just yet!

A bit of summer left. Too pretty to pitch out just yet!

As soon as I started with the chalk board writing, I had a very willing helper!  So, I very lightly marked the word "guests" and Elyse took it from there.  She loves to write, draw and color!!

As soon as I started with the chalk board writing, I had a very willing helper! So, I very lightly marked the word “guests” and Elyse took it from there. She loves to write, draw and color!!

A close up look at her work.  She did very well.  I had to remind myself to “let her” help me, and be okay with it looking different.😉  I never want her to feel like she can’t do things good enough for me!!

Autumn guests are best!

We’ve had a lot of guests over the past few weeks and we really do LOVE having friends in our home!

Happy Fall Y'all!  (I'm still southern at heart!)

Happy Fall Y’all! (I’m still southern at heart!)

A touch of autumn in the entrance.

A touch of autumn in the entrance.

We are blessed! Indeed.

We are blessed!
Indeed.

There's nothing like natural beauty from the back yard!

There’s nothing like natural beauty from the back yard!

Life has been very very (understatement) busy for us the last while.

It’s great to find our faith strengthened as we see how faithful God is – as we trust Him.

Well, my husband just brought me a fresh cup of coffee and I think it’s a hint that I get off this computer.🙂

So, as Callie would say “bye, bye-bye”.   She talking!! Wide open.  Can’t believe how fast she is growing

Dining room chalkboard.  (Inspired by friend Rachel Helmuth)

Dining room chalkboard. (Inspired by friend Rachel Helmuth)

Till next time….

Carmen signature

A b.l.u.e. happy birthday

Cedrych turned 3 years old!

August 9

Cedrych Dirk Byler August 9, 2010  (for those who like numbers that date was 8-9-10)

Cedrych Dirk Byler
August 9, 2010
(for those who like numbers, that date was 8-9-10)

It’s rather special that out of the 3 years of Cedrych’s life, 2 of his birthdays have been close or right on the time of our Hochstetler family vacation.

Since I don’t live near my family, this is indeed a very special thing.

Something I miss about living away from my family, is the fun of having them join in the birthday celebrations.

So when we happen to be together over a birthday, then that’s an added reason to celebrate.🙂

My family (with the exception of my only brother and his family who are currently living in Ireland – and we missed them so!!) met in the West Virginia back country at a cabin near the New River Gorge for a summer vacation.

So, there is where we celebrated Cedrych’s 3 birthday.

All smiles!!

All smiles!!
(earlier in the day before the party began I grabbed some shots of Cedrych)

Cedrych had been telling me for a very long time that he wants a “blue” birthday.

Whenever I’d ask him what kind of cake he was hoping for, he’d tell me “blue”.

That’s all he cared about.

**** blow ****

**** blow ****
(mom is wishing she’d have noticed and taken care
of the tell-tale signs of a bloody nose that show up on these close ups.)

So, as I was planning for the birthday party, one thing was clear, blue was the theme.

Tone on tone – Blue on blue.

Ready for celebration!!

Ready for the celebration!!

Even blue wrapping paper was purchased to wrap the gifts.

It was so fun to see his eyes sparkle (and believe me this boy has deep brown eyes that speak volumes!) when he saw his lovely

—  BLUE   —

birthday party.

Mesmerized by the color blue and 3 dancing candles!

(Later in the evening when it was actual party time.)
Here he is mesmerized by the color blue
and 3 dancing candles!

Cedrych is at such a fun and delightful age.  He has a full vocabulary, and can really talk a lot now.

Yet, he’s still so innocent.

The combination of smart and innocent just crack us up many times!

Make a wish and blow away...

Make a wish and blow away…

He is very precise, and if I mis-state something, he’s diligent to correct my error.

Such as when I was patiently impatiently waiting for his to finish his “business” on the toilet.

Me (absentmindedly): “are you done going pee-pee yet?”

Cedrych (emphatically): “a.c.t.u.a.l.l.y, I’m going stinky”

or

Like last week when my mom was here and we were getting things ready to go camping with the Byler extended family,

I overheard him telling my mom…

Cedrych: “You can’t go along with us camping because you aren’t a Byler.  WE are Bylers, and you are a Hochstetler, so you can’t go with us camping.”

A die cast dump truck from Grandad and Grandmom is in the process of being opened.

A die cast dump truck (wrapped in blue) from Grandad and Grandmom is in the process of being opened.

He is so delightfully innocent

and

precious as can be!!

He’s growing up to be a fine young boy!

My prayer is that God will develop His character qualities in Cedrych’s young heart.

Princess… Elyse Mary

Elyse turned 5 years old on July 23

Mind blowing.

Balloon's to remind her of her special day!  But, she said she remembered before she saw the balloons. =)

Balloon’s to remind her of her special day! But, she said she remembered before she saw the balloons..

In so many ways I want to slow down the growing up process.  I often find myself in disbelief at how fast our children are growing up!

Elyse truly is a Princess.

Special breakfast touches. China, goblet with fancy straw, and a pack of gummies.

Special breakfast touches.
China, goblet with fancy straw, and a pack of gummies.

Here are some of my musings in relation to my first born daughter…

Sensitive heart.

A mature 5 year old.

Longing to do what is right in God’s eyes.

Feels deeply and cares deeply.  It hasn’t been that long ago that she noticed a girl about her age at a church we visited.  The girl she noticed was born without developed ears and has small square boxes (hearing device) implanted right behind where the ears would be.  Elyse was so touched by this.  When we got home she talked about her and wanted to color a picture and write a letter for her.  So, I made some contacts to find out who the little girl is, what her name is, and her address, and Elyse went to work coloring a special picture for her.  She told me what to write in the letter and included a picture of herself.  I wish I’d have saved a copy of the letter and picture.  I love to see how Elyse cares for others.  She has a down syndrome cousin Gabriel who is older then her, but doesn’t speak one word.  She plays with him and takes him by the hand to do things together.  She has a very giving heart.  You will see her at play outside with her baby sister, and she will sacrifice riding her own bike, to pushing Callie around on a little tricycle.

Family trip to Hershberger's Farm for feeding and petting the animals.  Elyse LOVES animals!

Family trip to Hershberger’s Farm for feeding and petting the animals. Elyse LOVES animals!

Getting to ride a pony!

Getting to ride a pony!

She fell in love with the puppies!

She fell in love with the puppies!

She is a worker!  I had no idea a 5 year old could do the things that she does.  She can make the bathroom shine!  Mirror and all.  She tells me she wants to work.  “what can I do to help you work, mom?”  If I have nothing, she’s disappointed!  She empties the dishwasher, washes dishes in the sink (which I do sometimes even tho I have a dishwasher), sets the table, helps me with baking/cooking, puts laundry from washer to dryer, folds laundry, mops the floor.  I’m not stretching it.  This girl works.

Elyse is also a very determined girl.  Pushes through even when it’s tough.

After the feed in her cone was gone, she went around picking up fallen feed so she could keep feeding the pets.

After the feed in her cone was gone, she went around picking up fallen feed so she could keep feeding the pets.

The most thrilling thing happened a few months ago when I we were having a nightly chat laying side by side in her bed.  With her sensitive heart, she had been struggling with some things that she felt bad about.  I was explaining to her about the power we have in Jesus and how with Him we are stronger then the Adversary and that as she grows older, God will keep drawing her to himself and someday when the time is right, she can ask Jesus to live in her heart forever.  I went on to tell her the story of when I got saved as a young 12 year old girl at church….and how my mom helped me pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart…..  She just quietly listened to my story and then when I was done, she emphatically said “Well, MOM!  That’s what I’ve been TRYING to do!!”  I said “really Elyse?”  Well, do you want to kneel by the bed and ask Jesus to come into your heart right now?  She said “YES” with no hesitation at all.  So we climbed out of bed and knelt there in the semi darkness.  I wanted to hear what she felt led to pray, and thought once I hear what she says, maybe I’ll need to coach her a bit. But her prayer was so perfect and beautiful without one word of coaching from this mom.  She sweetly and sincerely prayed that she is “opening her heart’s door for Jesus to come in and live there forever”.  It was THE most beautiful experience.  I also prayed and once we were done, I just held her tight and we talked about how Jesus has a new daughter and that the angel of God are rejoicing in Heaven!!  I’m sure there was the rustling of angels wings in her room that night!

Then we hurried over to where Lee and the boys were chatting in bed and told them the exciting news.

She got a hug from everyone with rejoicing!

I sit here with tears in my eyes, feeling so blessed and unworthy to have such a sweet loving daughter.  I am undeserving, and it’s my deepest heart’s cry to continue to nurture her (all our children) as she grows in her Faith in God, and as she develops into the woman that God wants to make her to be!

Her birthday cake  butterflies and roses.

Her birthday cake
butterflies and roses.

IMG_8738

Chocolate butterflies

Both of my girls have a Tiara I bought for them.  It’s to wear on their birthday.  I tell them (and plan to repeat this each year), it’s a reminder of who they are in Christ.  A Princess. They are daughter’s of the King.  I want this tradition each year to be a reminder to stay pure and honest before our King.  To live a life wholly consecrated to our King.  Honoring Him with our heart, mind, bodies.  Representing without shame the Call of God on our lives.  Who we are in Christ.  Princess.  Daughters of the King!

Elyse Mary 5 years old

Elyse Mary
5 years old

Elyse Mary, you have brought us so much joy since you came into our world 5 short years ago.

I love you more then words can express!

You are beautiful.

Love, Mom

Blowing all 5 candles out!

Blowing all 5 candles out!

Opening her gift

Opening her gift

Party time!

Party time!

Big brother enjoys to the last drop!

Big brother enjoys to the last drop!

We are blessed…

Once again, the past two weeks have been packed so full.

Reflecting on all the action of the past 2 weeks,  it gives me a keen sense of gratefulness for family and friends…who bless us with their presence and friendships!

I feel richly blessed and unworthy!

In this past week, we celebrated Elyse’s 5th birthday.  I’m excluding the pictures from the little family celebration that we had for her…reserving that for a blog all it’s own.  I hope to post those pictures soon.

So, sit back and get ready for a very picturey blog!

IMG_8406

Lee, Dad Byler and SIL Barb enjoying a Sunday evening cup of coffee and chat on the patio.

IMG_8412

Just above the patio this is what you’ll often see. Happy children at play.
We’ve gotten countless hours of fun and play out of this play-set!

IMG_8415

I loooove how the evening in Ohio almost always cool off enough that a fire feels good! There’s just nothing like sitting around a crackling fire, sipping coffee, hearing the night sounds while enjoying friends!

IMG_8509

My dear Mother came for two days! She had an easy ride to Ohio with one of her best friends, and then divided her time between my sis Thelma in PlainCity and here with us. This is such a good word picture of mom. A lapful of children who she cares for and loves so well! Notice the sewing machine….which she was using to help me with my collection of mending and altering. She always makes the best use of her time when she’s here!

IMG_8510

What fun to Skype with my brother’s Wendell’s family who recently moved to Ireland. Here they were showing us their new bunny rabbit. Everyone was crowding around to talk and see through the screen all the way to Ireland!

The hill below our patio is a perfect one for a waterside!  This is a 100' long piece of plastic that has given many hours of shear delight to the young and the "young at heart"!

The hill below our patio is a perfect one for a waterside! This is a 100′ long piece of plastic that has given many hours of shear delight to the young and the “young at heart”! Once the slide was really slippery, we’d have to try to slow ourselves down at the bottom or we’d go sailing off the end onto the grass. What a blast.

Joshua

Joshua speeds along!!

Drew finds a new way to slide down.

Drew finds a new way to slide down.

Sitting under the shade enjoying the live entertainment.

Sitting under the shade enjoying the live entertainment.  Thelma and I couldn’t resist getting wet too, so we donned our wet gear and acted like children!  It seriously made me feel like a child sliding down that hill….but, the trek back up the hill and the effects the next day, reminded me that I’m not a child.  lol

Once Callie got ahold of this ice-cream cone, there was no giving it up!!  What a mess.

Once Callie got ahold of this ice-cream cone, there was no giving it up!! What a mess.

Cedrych enjoying his sugar cone with nary a care of dripping ice-cream!

Cedrych enjoying his sugar cone with nary a care of dripping ice-cream!

Gabriel getting his share of yummy coolness.

Gabriel getting his share of yummy coolness.

Elyse enjoying her cone!

Elyse enjoying her cone!

I think this was the very warmest week of the summer.  So, the slip-n-slide was a perfect pastime for the children.  Here Ravi and Josh enjoy a sweet break.  They pretty much wore themselves out sliding down and then running up the hill to "do it again"!

I think this was the very warmest week of the summer. So, the slip-n-slide was a perfect pastime for the children. Here Ravi and Josh enjoy a sweet break. They pretty much wore themselves out sliding down and then running up the hill to “do it again”!

Drew all ready to take the next trip down the hill.

Drew all ready to take the next trip down the hill.

We were all (Mom, Thelma and all our families) invited to a fun surprise 40th birthday party for Keith & Dinah Shenk over in Martinsburg.  It was so special to see old friends Gina and Jennifer, from growing up years!!! Here Jennifer's son and Callie are learning to know each other.  So precious!

We were all (Mom, Thelma and all our families) invited to a fun surprise 40th birthday party for Keith & Dinah Shenk over in Martinsburg. It was so special to see old friends Gina and Jennifer, from growing up years!!! Here Jennifer’s son and Callie are learning to know each other. So precious!

Time to make fresh soft play dough --  with a peppermint scent!  Smells good enough to eat!

Time to make fresh soft play dough — with a peppermint scent! Smells good enough to eat!

Cedrych wants the yellow lump.

Cedrych wants the yellow lump.

Elyse is beyond tickled with the new soft play dough!

Elyse is beyond tickled with the new soft play dough!

Love those chubby hands at play!

Love those chubby hands at play!

Flowers from my children never cease to melt my heart!  It was a HOT summer day and Cedrych and Elyse and unbeknownst to me, they were out diligently picking these flowers for me.  Cedrych proudly lays his out in a row.

Flowers from my children never cease to melt my heart! It was a HOT summer day and Cedrych and Elyse and unbeknownst to me, they were out diligently picking these flowers for me. Cedrych proudly lays his out in a row.

Elyse has her bouquet already arranged for me.

Elyse has her bouquet already arranged for me.

I keep this little vase on my kitchen window sill and it often proudly displays the love from my children.

I keep this little vase on my kitchen window sill and it often proudly displays the love from my children.
Even tho they are wilty, they make me proud!

I get so inspired and refreshed with interaction from my girlfriends.  Here I did a very simple little coffee time with a few dear ladies.

I get so inspired and refreshed with interaction from my girlfriends. Here I did a very simple little coffee time with a few dear ladies.

Deep into discussion.  Love these dear friends!

Deep into discussion. Love these dear friends!

A bit too dark, but I love their expressions!

A bit too dark, but I love their expressions!

Ravi the scientist!  Here he has set up a cardtable in his bedroom and with his mother's permission is experimenting with "colored cookie sprinkles".  Mixing them with water and then mixing different colors together.  Much more child friendly then handing him the food coloring which he had been begging for!

Ravi the scientist! Here he has set up a cardtable in his bedroom and with his mother’s permission is experimenting with “colored cookie sprinkles”. Mixing them with water and then mixing different colors together. Much more child friendly then handing him the food coloring which he had been begging for!

He was in his glory.  I got the microscope set at a garage sale.  When I came home and told him what I got, I thought for a minute he might cry....he just hugged me so tight and thanked me so genuinely!  I love his passion for learning!

He was in his glory. I got the microscope set at a garage sale. When I came home and told him what I got, I thought for a minute he might cry….he hugged me so tight and thanked me so genuinely! I love his passion for learning!

Still enjoying my lovely fresh flowers from around our place!!  One of my very favorite things about summertime!

Still enjoying my lovely fresh flowers from around our place!! One of my very favorite things about summertime!

Mixing these ingredients together then putting it on a  Joseph's pita and toasting it in the oven is a yummy lunch! THM approved!

Mixing these ingredients together then putting it on a Joseph’s pita and toasting it in the oven is a yummy lunch! THM approved!  (also dice a tomato and onion to toss w/ the rest)

Love to enjoy a very satisfying lunch with no guilt!!  mmmmmm!

Love to enjoy a very satisfying lunch with no guilt!! mmmmmm!

A very favorite of mine!  "Cottage Berry Whip" (pg 379 for you THMers)

A very favorite of mine!
“Cottage Berry Whip” (pg 379 for you THMers)

Deliciousness!!  Zucchini bread made with almond and coconut flour and no sugar.  I have to hide it from  my children if I want it to last an length of time!

Deliciousness!!
Zucchini bread made with almond and coconut flour and no sugar.
I have to hide it from my children if I want it to last any length of time!

Taking time to play a game with my oldest daughter...in the middle of the day.

Taking time to play a game with my oldest daughter…in the middle of the day.

A cup of coffee and a game with my daughter = a needed rest/relaxation for me.  win - win situation!

A cup of coffee and a game with my daughter = a needed rest/relaxation for me. win – win situation!

If you are looking for a simple but neat little game for preschoolers, you should get this version of the "go fish" game!  Much more interesting in my opinion.

If you are looking for a simple but neat little game for preschoolers, you should get this version of the “go fish” game! Much more interesting in my opinion.

We got a phone call late on afternoon from this sweet lady and she wondered if we could meet her at a local coffee shop.  So, we washed faces and hands and grabbed on some clean clothes and took the whole family.

We got a phone call late on afternoon from this sweet lady and she wondered if we could meet her at a local coffee shop. So, we quickly washed faces and hands and grabbed on some clean clothes and took the whole family.

What a treat to get to hold darling little Sara!!

What a treat to get to hold darling little Sara!!

Ravi takes his book along and sticks his nose in that.

Ravi takes his book along and sticks his nose in that.
Notice how nicely Rav’s skin is healing from that awful impetigo.

The day of Elyse's birthday.  We had decided this year we won't do a big party, but it was neat how it just so happened that some of her cousins were here for part of the day while their mom was away.  Here's lunch time with Byler cousins.

The day of Elyse’s birthday. We had decided this year we won’t do a big party, but it was neat how it just so happened that some of her cousins were here for part of the day while their mom was away. Here’s lunch time with Byler cousins.

Sweet Hannah brought a birthday gift for Elyse.  Hannah is 4 years older then Elyse, but she makes her feel so special and included!

Sweet Hannah brought a birthday gift for Elyse. Hannah is 4 years older then Elyse, but she makes her feel so special and included!

A lovely bunch of ladies who are together fighting the "battle of the bulge"  So fun to meet everyone IRL!

A lovely bunch of ladies who are together fighting the “battle of the bulge” So fun to meet everyone IRL!

Elyse has fun working on a numbered craft mosaic that she got for her birthday from Grandmom.

Elyse has fun working on a numbered craft mosaic that she got for her birthday from Grandmom.

Finished project.

Finished project.

It was soooo special to have my best friend/cousin's daughter her.  She traveled w/ my aunt and uncle who came for the BMA convention.  Heidi was such a blessing to me on Saturday!  She folded laundry and even babysat for me while I met a dear friend for coffee.

It was soooo special to have my cousin’s daughter here. She traveled w/ my aunt and uncle who came for the BMA convention. Heidi was such a blessing to me on Saturday! She folded laundry and even babysat for me while I met a dear friend for coffee.

Treasured friend.

Coffee time with a treasured friend.

My dear Aunt Alma and her husband JP.  We were so honored to have them stay here for a couple nights while they came for the BMA convention!  Love them so much!!

My dear Aunt Alma and her husband JP. We were so honored to have them stay here for a couple nights while they came for the BMA convention! Love them so much!!

Yesterday morning found Ravi and Elyse climbing into Loyal & Edith's van for their first trip to Grandad's house!

Yesterday morning found Ravi and Elyse climbing into Loyal & Edith’s van for their first trip to Grandad’s house!

Here they are all ready to head south for a week.  It was hard to let them go, but I know they will make many great memories!!

Here they are all ready to head south for a week.
I had mixed feeling in letting them go, but I know they will make many great memories!!

My veggie burger lunch. Veggie burger Onion, lettuce and tomoatoe Laughing cow cheese (light) Jospeh's Lavash

My veggie burger lunch.
Veggie burger
Onion, lettuce and tomoatoe
Laughing cow cheese (light)
Jospeh’s Lavash

All stacked and ready to wrap.

All stacked and ready to wrap.

Wrapped goodness. After I made this tho, I counted my carbs and fat and was sad that is ended up being a crossover.

Wrapped goodness.
After I made this tho, I counted my carbs and fat and was sad that is ended up being a crossover.

Coming up next….  ELYSE turns FIVE!  Stay tuned for my next blog featuring the Birthday Girl.

Birthday Girl please wake up!!

Birthday Girl please wake up!!