Tag Archives: family

On raising 3 girls…in a row!

I wrote this in November when we found out you were having another baby girl.  Forgot to publish.  This is for you, Rocky & Jovan!

The odds of having one child of either gender are nearly, but not exactly, 1 in 2. US birth statistics reveal the odds are slightly in favor of a baby’s being male: roughly 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. So the odds a newborn is male are 1 in 1.95 (51%), while the odds a newborn is female are slightly lower, 1 in 2.05. This means that, when it comes to a woman’s first children, streaks of daughters are slightly rarer than those of boys.

The odds a woman’s first 5 children will be female are only slightly lower than the odds a baby will be part of the birth of twins (1 in 31.12). Multiple births, especially those of higher order (triplets and beyond), are much rarer than streaks.   SOURCE

So ~ another baby girl, against all odds!

Dear Jovan and Rocky~

You are having another girl!  Yes, Averi had been planning for “a little Rocky” and it would sure be fun for me to see another “little Rocky” unleashed on the world, but from afar so I could laugh and enjoy his antics more (as opposed to running red-faced after him at 90-miles-per-hour and trying to keep his little highness from escaping safety 268 times a day).  Oh, my Rocky, in retrospect, you were a hilarious handful, but during the days of your short little legs and gigantic mullet, oh my, I was pooped, pretty much all the time. Haha.

But before we got you, my darling boy, in 1984 (we dared not even hope), we were the parents of three, beautiful daughters.  Three girls with 4 dozen dresses apiece.  Three girls with tangles and curls and mountains of stuffed animals and lacy anklets and Barbie dolls and lilting voices and fuzzy slippers and joyous giggles.

And three is the big deal, you know.  I have always told you: three is when you know you’ve got this thing.  Or else you lose total control forever, but one day they all grow up and it is all fine, anyway.  But three kids is the parental “tipping point,” in my humble opinion.

You see, when you have one child, there is balance: both parents are there to share the load and care for the little sweetie-pie.  If one parent is sick, the other kicks in one-on-one.  It is all very nice and manageable.

Then you have a second baby.  Still – balanced.  Because there is one adult per child.  It all works out.

But three.  Three is the one that will upset the proverbial fruit basket.  Because if one parent is changing baby and another parent is cleaning up the child who is potty-training and just fell into the stool ~ who {???} will tend to the child who just ran out the door and down the street in nothing but a toddler-sized pair of cowboy boots and a nerf-gun in his hands?  Who, I ask?  That 1.5 children per parent thing does not work like it seems it should.

{You are SO going to be outnumbered now}

So, that you have had the courage to venture into parenting three puts you among the most courageous parents on the planet.  Both of your mothers did it (yay, for Jo and me!), so you come from a land of “possible.”  :)

I always tell everyone that once you have three children, you can add any amount and it no longer throws you.  Have 3, or have 12*.  It just doesn’t matter anymore.  This is because you either become extraordinarily able to handle absolutely anything and everything child-rearing-and-raising brings with it and can no longer be conquered, nor intimidated by them, no matter the size of their miniature army-ness, or you sort of lose your marbles and are blissfully unaware that you have lost control.  Either way, win-win.  So have 5 or 7* or however many you want after you have crossed the three-line, you can do it!

*I am mostly kidding about having 7…or 12  ;)

But here you are, Rock-star and Jovanie: three babies.  Three baby GIRLS!  Three beautiful little daughters in a row.  Just like your mom did, Jovan.  Just like I did before the Rockster and the Storms came along.

Here is what is going to happen.  With three of the cutest little girls on the planet. Don’t ask me how I know:

They will never all sleep at the same time.  If you nap when the baby naps, be prepared for the ornery things the older 2 will be doing while you blissfully rest [Vick’s Vapo-Rub, baby powder, needles and a water-bed….the memories].  It will take 3.76 hours to clean up.  But the sleep will have made it worth it.

They will stay up too late almost every single night giggling and teasing each other and sharing their hearts and making each other cry and talking about what they will be when they grow up.

They will all want to cuddle with you at once.  Or none of them will.

You will go through 862 bottles of hair detangler before they reach 18.  Let’s not even talk shampoo and conditioner, and other beauty supplies.  And, by the way, your skills at fancy French braiding will become world-renowned.

It is going to take  47 minutes just to get everyone properly strapped into their car seats.  At which time one of them will need to go to the bathroom before you can leave.  Really – total emergency.

You can weave red ribbons into long braids in their hair for Christmas and have them each hold a large mic and sing “Come on Ring those Bells” at church because the whole congregation will find your little girls as wondrous and adorable as you find them.  Absolutely.

While you are nursing the baby, watch out for what those other 2 are up to.  Don’t think they are not going to scheme, for the minute you get situated nursing is a great time to do or touch [whatever it is they have been forbidden to do or touch].  True story.

I hate to tell you that I left Tredessa in her little seat in a shopping cart 3 aisles over at the local department store and would not have thought another thing about it until I heard saleswomen oohing and aahing over her.  She was a week old and dad was always the “cart driver.”  But with 3 kids, he had one walking, and holding on, the other in the cart and now…the big, yellow newborn seat needed a space in an additional cart and I … left her for a few minutes.  Yes.  It happened.  Keeping count of 3 kids is much, much harder.  Much harder.  I may have had to use my fingers.

You’re going to have 876 pink socks, but not the same-matching pink socks.  They will each be slightly different and varying shades of pink.  Oh yes, at one time there would have been a match for each, but where those go, no one knows.  Mysterious.

And under every couch cushion will be dozens and dozens and dozens of hair ties and bobby pins.  Count on that!

And of the 368 dolls they collectively own, only about 2 will actually be properly clothed at any given time.

You will see more shoes and small purses and pastel-jackets in your entry hall than in all of Macy’s~  all of Macy’s in the United States, actually.

You will have a house with three little girls.  It will be sugar and spice and every-oh-so-nice-thing and pretty loud and high and songs will peal out and cries of distress over small things, too.  They’ll all want to be as beautiful as their mama and they ‘ll need their daddy to affirm they are. Be the man of their dreams, Bo-Bear.

I had three daughters first, so I can tell you, it will be sweet.  Not every second, but over the long haul of life, you will be blessed by more delicious-warm-cuddly-wondrous-sweetness than any of us deserves.

You have been chosen, entrusted by God, with these three, these little pretties.  And they will be the strong, bold, courageous generation of women who speak and sing out the faithfulness of the Lord to generations you and I won’t ever even see.  You are reaching into eternity x 3.  In pink.

You got this!




Holy shambles!

Christmas lights are twinkling through bedroom windows as nightlights and I pray over cherub faces and tuck each child in with the requisite two stuffed animals and/or squishy toys.  We whisper our good-nights, the boys in one room, and 4 little girls next door.

grandkids at christmas

I give the regular if-you-wake-up-before-everyone-else-please-just-read-a-book-and-don’t-wake-your-cousins speech, though I know with 100% certainty that it will be ignored at 5:54 am sharp tomorrow.  Still, I go through it and ask one more time: Did you go pottie?  Brush your teeth?  I add more blankets so they won’t get cold.  They kick them off, “I’m hot, Nonna.”

Everyone is tucked.  I can’t help but pray over them again and again for God’s anointing on their little lives and for peace and joy and for good restful sleep and a smile in their hearts and for God to heal little sniffles and keep them safe from evil, who lurks near our babies – this, we know.  I pray and I pray and they let me.  They make their requests known and soon, if I don’t say amen, we will be up all night praying over every detail in their universes…

More hugs, more kisses, more one-last-drinks…whew.  We made it.

I walk into the hallway and through my house.  O.my.goodness.  There are globs of toothpaste in every sink, toothbrushes teetering on counter edges.  There are overcoats and outer-wear and underwear strewn about in bathrooms, entry, living room, family room, and yes, even in the kitchen.  Every couch pillow and cushion has been used otherwise and our floor is covered with blankets and baggies of cheese balls and water bottles with names written on them.  Are there any toys left in the playroom, I wonder?

12 29 12 with their reindeer prints

Is that a marshmallow gun target on our front door?  Why, yes, it is.  Why do you ask?

Evidence of a family feast-night and a disco dance and watching the Turtle Man- Christmas episode and a couple of Gilligan’s Island re-runs (to my great dismay) and my house is in utter, complete and total jumbled, snarly, tangled, topsy-turvy, chaos and clutter, with a side order of full-blown dishevelment.  Yep.  It is a mess.

And me?  I love it.  I am neck-deep in grandbebes and it is grand!

Still basking in the glow of the holy days of the holidays. Merriment continues…

Love that comes easy

I found this from a blog post I wrote in 2008 {click here}.

I and my Third-Thursday-besties were reading and writing our thoughts from A Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.

“Once upon a time were Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the kind of home we’ve been looking for all our life” (page 74, The Sacred Romance).

Sometimes it happens, it may be fleeting, but occasionally you get to experience it: rich moments of holy laughter with family, a good meal shared in love while kind memories flow and encouraging words of appreciation are being expressed. And when it happens, you know you are on holy ground. You know you are experiencing something of the divine. You understand the table of fellowship in heaven.

I had one such evening last night. It was the first time we had gathered the whole family from all our travels to celebrate Mother’s Day and the birthdays of my two eldest daughters, Tara and Stephanie. And time and space and life being what it is, you always hope everyone can come in and shed the stress and distractions and enjoy the company, but we are no different than other families. It does not always happen that way. But last night I could sense the joy of the Trinity, the sense of “we are complete,” and “we are one.” I breathe it in with deep appreciation, even now.

Today’s thought:  Loving these people comes naturally, from a fulll heart, because they are of me, in my likeness.  I absolutely have love-filled thoughts of them everyday, all day long.

And because I am the matriarch of this family, because I actually birthed these incredible human beings, the joy-seed of my love with Dave, I can understand better the heart of God toward us. Because, omygoodness, my heart toward my children and their children is so full of love and goodness and purity and mercy. I haven’t done it all right or even very well (which God of course, has), but whether they have yet realized it or not: my kids can trust my heart towards them. I will always love them. I will always think the best of them. I will always be their biggest fan. They should never have to fear me or rejection from me. So why do I with my Romancer?

“Once upon a time we lived in a garden; we lived in the place for which we were made. There were no Arrows, only beauty. Our relationships weren’t tainted with fear, guardedness, manipulation, quid pro quo. Our work was rewarding, we received more than we gave…We were made for the garden, but now there is affliction also, and that is because we live East of Eden. The Arrows seem the truest part of life, but they are not.”

And in the spring when I put my hands into the soil and help the chubby fingers of grandsons push seed into the ground, it is almost like I can hear God calling me like He once called Adam, “Jeanie, Jeanie, where are you?” He knows where I am, but He asks so that I’ll take stock at where I have gone, to make sure I know where I am…

Today I am adding:  I love that time after time, year after year, disaster after disappointment, He keeps watching for the real me, keeps prompting me to look for the me I was created to be, regardless of how much I try to hide from the very One who heals…amazing Love.

Isn’t the great paradox that “we long to be known and we fear it like nothing else“? We believe things about ourselves that aren’t true (Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will really hurt me) and we run from the Pursuer thinking He believes those things are true, too. Yet, His own Word calls us: “…the Holy…the Redeemed…the Sought-after…”

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (1 John 4.10).

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. Here I am, Lord

Just like with the family God has given me.  I watch over them with complete rapture and admiration, so unique and treasured they are to me, as does Father-God with me.  Still figuring it all out, that depth of amazing Love towards meMe. ???

Today is day 260 of 2012

My brother Joe is reading an Erwin McManus book, Chasing Daylight, and was reflecting today, on moments, those brief, seemingly insignificant fragments of time that make up the whole of life.  Joe shared from the book,

“However mundane a moment may appear, the miraculous may wait to be unwrapped within it.”     -McManus

And then Joe pondered how many moments he may have missed, always reaching way out ahead for the “next thing,” or the thing we want more than what is in front of us.

Hey, I thought – I have pondered these same things.  There was this book my friend Stephanie gave me…

So I searched my very own blog to share with him and as I re-read it, a post I had written on December 31, 2011, I realized, wow-here we are 260 days into the year and all the things I didn’t know were ahead when I wrote this, so quickly have come and gone.  And more than ever I thoroughly realize I wasn’t just writing a clever end-of-year blog post for nameless, faceless readers, I was writing the mandate for my life; my creed, a declaration for my days:

“I am past the halfway mark now, but my senses and ability to feel love have increased exponentially with age, with experience.  When the years rolled out ahead like there was no end in sight, I didn’t have to be as cautious in gathering memory, in recording the story, in remembering.  But now that the lasts are happening, I don’t want to miss anything, not one thing.”

2012, day 260:  I am an archivist, a legacy-leaver.  I am telling the stories my family will need to know long after I am gone.  I am preserving the small, inconsequential details of times and places and people that will be the foundation for understanding, for self-discovery, for the bright light of realization in times too fast and modern and post-modern to keep up with someday.  The history, the memorabilia, the understanding of the great why will be carried close like treasure  And the continuity of people and place and things past and their mark and significance on the then-present will connect transcendent dots on an invisible timeline of light and life and love battered, but triumphant.  I am recording the gift of all present revelation and the secret clues to answers I may never find, but my progeny will…

“All the days planned for me were written in Your book before I was even one day old.  What You have done is wonderful, I know this very well.”

Oh yes, I will carefully archive the evidence my offspring will need to solve the mysteries they face.

2012, day 260: I am an altar-builder.  I call down worship in places once darkened by enemy rule and I gather stones of remembrance with sweat pouring off my brow, piling them, stacking the weight of the faithfulness of God throughout the generations towards our family, stone upon stone, line upon line, precept upon precept – to be remembered and dealt with in the light and glory of all for which Jesus’ blood accomplished on our behalves, while we were yet sinners.

I am an altar builder:  Remember…don’t forget…oh, do you remember how wonderful this was?…And I will not leave them un-built, regardless of the state of brokenness or disrepair, for God is faithful.  He is faithful.  He is so faithful.  And I am not deterred by the size of the stones, by the effort.  I embrace the art it takes to stack stone with mortar, to work until balance is achieved, to build a lasting  commemoration for those to come.

And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I command you today, and coat them with plaster. Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them. Build the altar of the Lord your God with fieldstones and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God. Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 27.4-7

For these altars are gates, they are path guides, they are monuments symbolic of all that is completed, on earth as it is in heaven.  I am building upon the foundations my parents set before, a great cloud of witnesses.  My children and grandchildren and their children will build on these with greater light and revelation.

2012, day 260:  I am remaining keen on the moments because the moments matter.

Swhew!  That was a loooooooooong intro!  Here is the blog post of which I speak…

My 12.31.11 Re-Post, AT LAST (see original post here)

Let Me Hold You Longer, Karen Kingsbury

Stephanie Morgan brought me a book by that title yesterday at Starbucks. The premise of the book, the author explained, is that in life, we record and particularly note and celebrate all sorts of firsts.  There is a baby’s first tooth, first steps, first day of school – all beautiful milestones that deserve our attention!  Yet, we are unaware of the things that pass, last things.  She explained it by recalling a beautiful day outdoors with her kids when one of the little guys ran up, jumped into her arms, wrapped his legs around her waist and while touching noses told her, “I love you, mommy.”  She noticed how big he was getting and how heavy he was, realizing he probably wouldn’t be doing that too much longer.  Then she looked across the lawn and saw her oldest son who was about to enter middle school and realized that he used to run and jump into her arms the same way and that at some point it had been the last time.

And the thing about last times is, you usually just don’t know they are happening, and if you did, you might want to take closer note.

Of course, I read the book and it killed me.

O my goodness. I tried to tell Stormie about it when she came by earlier today.  Cry.  *Sniff, sniff. And to be silly and try not to be all melancholy, I grabbed Gavin, who was here helping us take down our Christmas decorations and cuddled him on to my lap like I have been doing since June 2003 and kissed his cheek and he is getting so big.  At 8 1/2 he doesn’t quite melt into his Nonna’s lap anymore (he just told me he has an adult-sized head).  He still likes the attention, but is slightly embarrassed.  And I jokingly said, “Everybody remember this in case it is the last time.”

There was practically a boooo and an eye-rolling moan from everyone, but also a palpable realization that this – this moment, this totally open relationship between a little boy and his Nonna, is a relationship that will grow and change and be re-defined as he becomes who God created him to be and has to pull away to become independent before he can, with full confidence in who he is, move back in closer with appreciation for these two old people who have loved him since the day he was born.  And there is realization that time is flying and kissy-cheeks from Nonna, at least in their present, freely-flowing form, are making their way into a land of remember-when-memories.  And growth is good and the destination is the point, but it changes everything you love in the moments that make life worth living to begin with.  Nothing stays the same.

The first time

I don’t recall, though I love baby’s feet, when the last time I kissed the bottoms of my children’s feet was?  I know I kept kissing them, even when they were “too old” for it because it made them laugh and I wanted them to know I adored them all the way from the bottoms of their little feet.  They weren’t babies in age, but they were my babies.  I can’t remember the last time I braided my little girls’ hair (I remember combing long, silky locks – or terrible tangles…lots of them) or what year I quit weaving red ribbons into their braids at Christmas?  In my ornament box, I found a note my mom tucked into the branches of our Christmas tree in 2001…was that my last Christmas with my mom?   I don’t know when the last time we sang “Testify” together at some church or played Risk as a family or any other number of mundane things that make up life.  When was the last time Tara baked Jiffy pizza-bread sticks, anyway?

Lasting impressions

I do know the book struck a chord, something deeply reverberating through my heart.   I am past the halfway mark now, but my senses and ability to feel love have increased exponentially with age, with experience.  When the years rolled out ahead like there was no end in sight, I didn’t have to be as cautious in gathering memory, in recording the story, in remembering.  But now that the lasts are happening, I don’t want to miss anything, not one thing.

2011 ~ 2012

One year rolls into another.  And the year we have just lived, all the beauty and joy and ups and downs and round-abouts and surprises and laughs, the tears, the disappointments, the things that did not go our way – all of it, with the slightest move of a second hand on a clock becomes {*tick} last year, {*tock} a new year.

The days ahead

We get this brand-spanking-new-year in just a few hours.   It will be filled with so much yet-undiscovered adventure.  I am hoping for 3 new grandbebes in 2012 – or at least some good work toward that!  *smile.  And I am excited to see what God is going to do through Heaven Fest this year and the songs I have yet to sing and the seasons changing and the garden tomatoes filling my counters and time with the love and watching the incredible lives of my children whom I cherish and the children they share…but like the author of the book, my prayer is, even as each day brings new things in a new year, “Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.”

{that was to have been the end of the post..but it turned out not to be the end}

This was totally unrelated

Gavin took a quick break from Christmas packing-away for a snack.  I turned on the TV and an old Rockford Files episode was on.  I said to the grand-boy, “See James Garner?  Now that is some swagger.”

“What show is this, anyway?” he asked me.

“‘The Rockford Files’ from the 1970’s!” I told him.

He grimmaced and asked “Why do people want shows from the 70s anyway?  Do they wish they had a time machine so they could go back there or something?”

Haha.  Laugh. Laugh. Maybe…

But then it became related

Just now, as I was about ready to push the “publish” button on this post, Gavin was leaving to go home to have a special New Year’s Eve night with his family, games and snacks and good times.  He came to say good-bye and I hugged him tight and said, “One last kiss in 2011.”  He kissed my cheek.  I feigned sorrow, “But now my other cheek needs one last kiss in 2011 – for you and I will never hug and kiss in 2011 ever again.”  He giggled and kissed my other cheek before bolting toward the door as he quipped,

“Nuh-uh, Nonna – I will build a time machine to come back to 2011.”

{Heart m e l t i n g }  And I would get into that machine, Gav, to collect all the lasts I have maybe missed.

Hello, 2012

Dear 2011 – you gave me all the days you promised you would and I will carry them in my heart forever.

Ok, Stephanie Morgan-you did this to me.  Love you for the sharing.  But you’re killing me! xxoo END RE-POST

Gavin’s Skateboard Cake

It wasn’t an actual skateboard, nor was it “cake.”

But anyway.

Gavin, the skater, just turned 9.  He wanted something made with Rice Krispie Treats.  So we took a really easy, tasty route.

I used about 48 pre-made Rice Krispie Treats.  Dave picked up a real skateboard with metal trucks at Target to use as a stand.  I wrapped it with platic wrap and sort of smooshed the treats up together on the board, trimming the ends to follow the shape of the board.

Then I smoothed Wilton’s melting candy over the whole thing.  While it cooled, I melted some of the red and piped/traced Gavin’s name over a template I had made, which I covered with wax paper.  I popped his name in the fridge to cool.  In retrospect, perhaps I should have used a mini spatula to smooth it out, but it is a casual cake.

Just before the chocolate covering was totally set, I placed Gav’s name on the board and Dave piped sort of a sunburst design on it.  Peeled the letters off the wax paper and placed them on the chocolate-candy-coated board.  20 minutes in the fridge and voila!

Gavin told me he ate A LOT of Rice Krispie Treats.  A lot.

We had a lovely time at the park, Gavin and his little sister and all the rest of us!

Happy Birthday #2, Amelie Belle!

You’re my little Belle-Baby. 

2 cute!

2 Sweet.

You can’t be beat.

2 kisses will do

2 say I LOVE you!

You are a super-tiny little booger, o-yes-you-are!  The weight of a feather, but fast as a train, smart as whip and o-so- funny, my little comedienne!  You love your mommy and copy your daddy and the singing is sweet.  The singing is loud.  The singing is intense.  I love to hear you sing.

Hey, remember when you were one??  LOOK!


Here are some birthday Bible words for Y-O-U!

From Psalm 8:  Oh, Amelie Belle – the Lord, our LORD – how majestic is His name in all the earth!  He has even taught you, tiny little girl, to sing-sing-sing of His great strength and your song reaches the heavens and even silences God’s enemies and anyone who opposes His ways.  He has made you just a little lower than the angels and crowned you with glory and honor.  He has given you charge over everything He has made.

From Psalm 100.  So shout with joy to the Lord, Amelie Belle!  Worship Him with gladness and come before Him singing with joy.  Tell everybody you know that the Lord is God!  He made you, you belong to Him.  You are His little lamb!  So you can walk right into His gated meadowlands with a great big thankful heart!  And you can go into His palace rooms with songs of praise!  Thank Him everyday, sweet Amelie, and give Him praise because He is so good to you.  He will love you beyond the end of time as we know it.  That love will never fail.  Not ever. and He will still be doing all this good stuff even for your children and theirs.  Sing, little girl, sing!

SURE do love you, Amelie Belle!  xxoo {nonna}

Our newest son


Ryan Faaland.  I have only known him for a year and 6 days.  But all along he was being prepared, God was readying our family and preparing the way for him to be grafted into the Rhoades tribe.  He and Tredessa fell for each other quickly and I am pretty sure that his first huge family dinner with us made him like Tredessa even more.  Haha.

We asked him 10,872 questions.  And it was loud.  And we played Charades.  He laughed easy and he fit – just right.  Prepared.  A new son…

Happy 28th Birthday, Ryan!

Your parents raised a good son.  I know they are pleased with the man you have turned out to be.  You are a man of integrity and character.  You are caring and affectionate.  You are the tender love God wanted to bless Tredessa with.  You were prayed for and highly anticipated.  You were long-awaited and appointed to a place of high honor, that of the man of Tredessa’s dreams – a place so unique, so protected in its’ scope and future, 3 massive music festivals turned up dry, man-wise.  There was only one who would do…and it was you.

Just words.

Below is your “birthday card.”  It has a few of the words that describe you, things I see, things I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to impress upon you.  I hope you will know the deep, full meaning of each.  I pray your heart will resonate as these things confirm God’s call on your life, His plans for you, and His deep love for you, Ryan.

I wrote “You brought a part we didn’t know we were missing.”   And even though we were waiting for you and looking for you, the gift God gave was more than we could have hoped or asked.  We didn’t even know what we really needed.  But God is good and He knew.  And we love Him for the gift.  We love you!


Happy Birthday to the Man of the Kelley House


Our very first son-in-law just drummed his way right into our hearts and and still keeps the beat, all these 10 years later, to the soundtrack that is our family-life.

Wow, we got spoiled.  We lucked out.  We got blessed.  We couldn’t have done it better if we’d spent years and years auditioning candidates.  God just knew.  He knew what we needed.  He knew what was missing for us, for you, too.  And He put you in our family, where you are looked up to as the big brother, the musical genius, the technological wizard, the guy who knows everything we need to find something out about.   Ask Tristan.  You’re like our very own, personal search engine.  AskTristanDotCom.  *smile

Happy Birthday to a man we are so grateful to call son, a man who loves our daughter and is raising three of the most amazing little kids ever.  You were born to be a part of us.  We are blessed.  Yes, happy-happy birthday, Tris!

That you are a good man, one for which we can thank God everyday, is evidenced by Stephanie’s success and deepening beauty.  That you are a trustworthy and righteous man is proven by the honoring and great-hearted children you are raising, so loved and so loving, each distinctively developing their own joy-bringing personalities.  Your family, Steph and the kids, look at you in a way that says: Tristan is in his element, right where God created him to be.

We so appreciate and admire your bravery and courageousness in providing for your family creatively.  We applaud the sacrifices you’ve made for the greater good and commend you for good choices in hard times.  Yours is a colorful, thriving, gorgeous family.  All you are doing right – shows.

Your parents got you at birth.  You are their son, the best of the best, the great product of the heritage they have given you.  But then God knew what we Rhoadeses would need.  And He sent you our way as a gift.  And that was a blessing for us.  So we celebrate your birth.  And we thank your parents for the way they raised you.  And we thank God for showing us His favor in this way.

Here is my birthday card for you, Tristan.  It’s a little of what I see and what makes me thank God for you.  Much love.  ~ The m-i-l.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

The basement apartment in Des Moines, Iowa (1959); the Washington Street Apartment (Joe and Tim show up 1961 and 1963); 1310 York Street, just two houses down from Grandma and Grandpa Baker; then the beloved 1723 York Street across the alley from Nancy Lydon (Tami and Danny are born, 1965 and 1966); the Jersey Ridge Road house in Davenport (1971); then the brand new house we built at 5506 North Howell (1972); the corner parsonage in Cedar Rapids (1973); a parsonage right next to the church in Robert, Louisiana (1975); Finally – 4995 ROOSEVELT PLACE IN GARY (1977) – the last of the houses where we all, Ross-the-Boss, Mrs. Moss and all the Little Landers, dwelled together before leaving the sweet (Glen Park C of G parsonage) nest my parents had provided the 7 of us…

“I’ve been around the world and as a matter of fact”*

Dave and I have lived in a few places (Minot, ND; Kokomo, IN; Sioux City, IA; Norfolk, NE; Denver-forever), different houses.  And my parents have been all over since I left their home, too (Hobart, IN; Willard, OH; Richmond, IN; St Joe-MO; Butte, MT; Springfield, MO; back to St Joe-MO).  I visited my parents in their current digs in Saint Joe early in the year.  The house they are living in?  Not home.  No.   But my parents?  Wherever they land, is kinda home to parts of me.  I always need to know where they are and what their house looks like so I will know the space my heart is rambling about in.  Mom and dad are the fixed stars in my sky.  LOVE them!

God, it seems you’ve been our home forever; long before the mountains were born,

Long before you brought earth itself to birth,

from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—you are God.  Psalms

“Goin’ back to Indiana” ~ The Jackson 5

While we were at the Moslander Family Reunion last week in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, us old-timers took a late-afternoon,  impromptu drive through the old neighborhoods; saw places we had worked and schools we’d attended and the house we called home.  It is all the same, but so different.  The huge mountain spruce in the fron yard at 4995 Roosevelt Place, trimmed to above roofline and barely clinging to life now, was once a full, thick, green privacy wall between the house and street.  There are pictures there of my brothers in their graduation attire and even my babies running on the lawn from way back when.  The juniper has all been removed in favor of more manageable potted flora.  The dings Tim and my other brothers put into the side of the house playing baseball in the 70’s are still there, a testament to long summer days spent with a bat and ball in hand.

And we actually were just a few blocks from the Jackson family home in Gary, Indiana, btw!

The streets of Gary used to be positively frightening during business hours, the traffic heavier than the city had prepared for.  The business district I used to drive is nearly a ghost town.  Boarded up windows and abandoned buildings everywhere, yet minutes away, there are still quiet neighborhoods with established lawns and trees.  You can buy a beautiful brick bungalow for $15,000 (the for sale signs made of cardboard and black marker) there on an empty street.  The same would cost 1.3 million in Denver.

“Who says you can’t go home again?” ~ Bon Jovi*

Surprisingly, standing there in the old yard, looking at the house in conjunction with neighboring homes and recalling old times and people from the past, it didn’t seem smaller.  Often you’ll return to a childhood haunt and you’ll just feel like, “Wow-this seems so small now.”  But that wasn’t the case at the Roosevelt Street house, the last home we all shared under one roof, the place my kids remember going to see Grandma and Grandpa Moslander.  It really didn’t seem smaller.

It just seemed like: wow-how did this house ever hold all the life and loud love and laughter and memory and family and patio swimming in a 12-foot pool and Uno, all the huge bags full of 19-cent White Castle burgers after church ball games, or Bronco’s Pizza with 5 pounds of melted, dripping, greasy cheese, and church friends and Lake-effect wind and graduations and marriages and teen-agers and letter writing and boyfriends and girlfriends and Lake-effect snow and family altar and family feuds and kids and toys and books and WGN afternoon movies with our first color TV, first jobs and rusted out cars and Tip Top and Bible study and early morning prayer and first grandchildren and the first few spouses and all the rest of living that the Moslander family brought to it?

How on earth did this modest house on this unicorporated county street handle all that?

And it yet stands as a testament.

The Moslanders were here June 1977 – Spring 1990.  And again in June 27, 2011.  We were here.

* LOVE Bon Jovi’s song, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abzbVFuxigg