Family Visit Coming to a Close

We’ve had such a lovely visit with my parents. They arrived last week and are going home tomorrow. The weather has just now turned sunny and beautiful (typical). I am afraid they might be returning to some Michigan rain storms (also typical). Ahh, thankfully they came to see the grandchildren and not blue skies.

I have some fun pictures (mostly stolen off of Grandad’s camera) of our visit. I will have to post them later. We never seem to remember to take enough pictures or video. After the occasion (or visit) has passed, I am always sad that we didn’t capture more of the time on film. Even when I have taken more pictures than seems necessary, I am always glad for each one and hunger for rmore. I guess much of the time we are so busy living in the moment there isn’t time or thought to stop and take pictures. During those times I try to use “Fresh Film,” a concept a dear friend shared, and hold the memories vividly close in my heart and mind.

Tomorrow morning I will drive Mom and Dad to the airport. The children (those that were awake enough to respond) said they wanted to get up and go swimming in the morning. Hmmm. I’m not sure we have enough time for that but it does sound fun. It’s quite amazing how much pool time the kids manage to cram into a short visit. Their favorite thing to do is sleep over at the hotel with Mamie and Grandad, eat a sugar cereal/donut breakfast, and then spend a good hour or two in the pool. If they had their druthers they would also return in the afternoon or evening to swim again. What a blessing that the children all enjoy the water so much. I grew up with swimming lessons, pools, beach and lake trips. Both sets of grandparents had pools for our summer swimming pleasure. My maternal grandparents had a pool IN their house so we could swim whatever the season of our visit. Very fun!

It’s a delight to see the children enjoy the water as well. With a July birthday, most of my parties were situated at a pool or lake. David has made the most notable progress in his swimming. He has been in swim lessons at the Y during the homeschool PE. He had such confidence in the hotel pool this time. I was very proud of his abilities. One precious moment was when Rachel asked if he wanted to “race.” They both had on goggles and swam across the shallow end of the pool (almost literally on top of the stairs). Rachel paced herself and swam along side David for some exhilarating “races.” I loved watching their joy–David’s in swimming with the big kids and Rachel in being kind to her brother.

More later with pictures.

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Happy Anniversary–14 Years!!

Today Tim and I celebrated our 14th anniversary! What an amazing thing.

Wedding Couple
The happy couple! May 23, 1992

Of course, falling, as it did, on a week day, we were rather busy and distracted for most of the day. The children and I did school, had lunch and then went to homeschooling PE at the YMCA. In the afternoon Rachel and Daniel had friends over to play and my sitter/helper came over to work on the house. All in all it was a typical day in the life of the Edgrens.

And yet, in the midst of it all there was this sense of wonder and joy that Tim and I have been married for fourteen years and have created this beautiful family together. What a precious and delightful gift. Even the routine and familiar work of laundry and dishes and child care took on a deeper significance in the awareness of our anniversary–fourteen years together. Wow!

In 2002 we flew to Michigan for a family vacation and celebrated our anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony. We arrived in Michigan on the 22nd of May and were able to have the ceremony on the actual day of our 10th anniversary. I was VERY pregnant, which narrowed my selection of formal wear to a more casual look. Ha! We had a lovely celebration, put together by my parents, at Trinity Presbyterian (my father’s church) where we were married 10 years before.

Kiddos at our 10th anniversary/renewal
Joshua, Rachel, Daniel and toddler David at the renewing of our vows on our 10th anniversary–in the same sanctuary where we were first married.

It was very meaningful to repeat those vows again, this time with ten years of experience and reality under our belts. I was moved by the depth of the words we had written for each other as an engaged couple, chastened to see where I have fallen short of living those promises out to the fullest, and delighted to still be so in love with my husband.

Happy to renew our vows!
Here we are after renewing our vows. Kathy is obviously very pregnant with Sarah.

Today I had many well wishers. The older children wished me Happy Anniversary several times. My in-laws called and sang to me over the phone. They also brought news of anniversary gifts (the best one being some grandparent babysitting time–hooray!). I spoke to my parents (who are flying to Washington as I type this) and received more glad tidings.

Tim and I had planned to celebrate this year’s anniversary with a romantic dinner here at home. The children love to eat out in the garage (watching movies) while we stay inside and enjoy a quiet dinner alone. We’ve had these Home Style dates several times in the last few months. Sometimes we order out (the Outback Steakhouse is a favorite) and other times we fix dinner ourselves. Either way it is a pleasure to dine in the comfort of our own home and focus our attention on each other, without the distractions of our noisy chillen (to borrow a phrase from my Nana).

While the children were playing I had steaks marinating and ready to grill. I put potatoes in the oven to cook and planned to make a fresh green salad. Rachel and Daniel’s guests invited them out to a pizza dinner. How lovely! Two children who will be off, fed and entertained with playmates. When their mother, my dear friend, heard that it was our anniversary (and we planned to have dinner at home) she secretly arranged with Joshua to take all five children out for pizza. What a delightful treat!

I was totally surprised! J. called and spoke to Joshua (under the guise of talking to him about some yard work) and had him get the little ones ready to go. When J. arrived with her dh they came in two cars and told me they were taking all five children with them and would be back in two hours. I thought she was joking. My goodness! Shannon was still here cleaning so I had her finish up and drove her home. When I came back Tim had the griddle all ready for the steaks and was basking in the quietness of an empty home.

We had a lovely anniversary dinner. The steaks were delicious, the potatoes hot and crisp and the salad perfect. The meal was served on our beautiful wedding china (which I still LOVE) and all was just perfect.

J. kept the kids almost three hours. They went to McDonalds after their pizza dinner and had ice cream sundaes. Afterward they went to her house and made anniversary cards for us. You know you are well loved when your friends will take your five children out to dinner in order to give you the gift of time. What a blessing! Joshua wrote up a touching acrostic for the word FOURTEEN.

F: Fourteen years
O: Outstanding
U: Unity that will never be broken
R: Really great family
T: Tons of years
E: Every one of them great
E: Extremely awesome
N: Never will split up

It is truly stunning to think of how the years add up so quickly and yet at the same time seem to move in slow motion. It does not seem possible that Tim and I have been married for almost a decade and a half (weren’t we just in college?).

W&M Graduates
The William and Mary Graduates with Grandma and Grandpa Edgren. My how time flies!

I am very thankful Tim asked me to marry him all those years ago. I have never met someone (before or since) who has made me laugh as much, shared my passion for reading and thinking and discussing life, challenged me spiritually, and just plain brought joy to my life. He is an excellent husband and father.

Thank you for fourteen wonderful years, Tim!


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Hot Summer (??) Days

We are having a run of lovely, warm days here in Washington.

Sarah in pink
Sarah finishes her breakfast before church.

Perhaps it’s to make up for the long run of rain we had in the winter. Whatever the reason, I am certainly enjoying it thoroughly. The children love the sunshine and have loaded up the freezer with Otter Pops (a sure sign summer is here).

Daniel and David
Daniel and David enjoy the swing ball set.

Last weekend Tim set up the tent on Saturday evening and let the kids have a little camp out. Somehow (tragedy of all tragedies) we didn’t take ANY pictures of the whole event! I’m not sure how we let such an exciting evening go undocumented. Tim and David put the tent in the back yard while the rest of us were dropping off a friend from a play date. There was so much excitement as the kids ran out to see the little tent. They spent the rest of the evening dragging every pillow and blanket (it seemed) that we have out to the tent.

In the end only Rachel and Joshua actually slept all night in the tent. Tim read the Bible chapter to the kids out in the tent and I joined them for a bit. We were quite, ahem, packed in–it’s not a very big tent, certainly not a family sized one. It didn’t help that Rachel and David/Sarah had brought out several stuffed animals to join in the fun. By the time everyone settled down it was quite late and the little ones were very tired. I took them inside and put them to bed. Daniel came in shortly thereafter. Both Daniel and David changed their minds and tried to go back out into the tent but it was close to (or after) 11 pm and I knew they really needed a good night’s sleep. They fussed some and promptly fell right asleep.

Tim's tomatoes
Tim’s tomato plants–we eat a LOT of tomatoes in this family and hope to grow a few of our own this summer.

The children have already played with water several times. I’m not sure why they haven’t washed my van yet–perhaps the novelty of that runs out fairly quickly. I’ve spoken to several friends who have set up pools in their back yards.

Water fight!
Rachel and Joshua enjoy a friendly game with water.

There is a definite air of summer about. Sadly, I am fairly certain it’s not here to stay. Usually you can count on summer’s arrival by July 4th. Before that time it doesn’t really stay nice and warm here in Washington. We’ll see what this year will hold. I’ve certainly been very thankful for the sunshine and warm days.

We tried to do our school reading outside yesterday. That was a total bust! The children couldn’t pay attention–it’s too hot, it’s too sunny, I need a drink, etc. My goodness! What a girl has to go through just to enjoy a little sunshine. Finally I sent them all off to do some more tablework and sat down to do some weeding. Daniel and Rachel did their work outside near me but we didn’t do our reading. It was a good lesson for me–I can certainly be out in the gorgeous weather but had better plan on doing our school work inside where everyone can focus on the subject at hand. Ah well. I guess that means I can give up the idea of doing school at the pool/club this summer.

Sarah in bathing suit
Doesn’t this girl look like she wants to do some serious school!


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Mothers’ Day

We have enjoyed some of the most beautiful weather this weekend … clear blue skies, warm, sunny days, temperatures in the mid-70s. It almost makes all those dreary, rainy winter days seem to have been a dream …

Today was Mothers’ Day … but I didn’t get a chance to celebrate my mother. My mom spent the afternoon with Liz and ‘the cousins’, which I can hardly resent, since we monopolize so much of my parents’ attention. I tried to call and wish my Mom a happy Mothers’ Day, but I was relegated to voicemail. I guess we’ll have to do the best we can to celebrate her when she comes out on Wednesday.

Instead, I had the happy task of celebrating my wife, who is an excellent mother to all my rascally children. On the way to church, I asked all the kids why they were thankful to God for their mother, and the results were predictable. Nearly everyone (including me, I’m afraid) viewed Kathy as having value because of what she did for them. David was thankful for her preparation of his meals, and felt it necessary to list each of them in succession. Several were thankful because she reads to them and helps with their school. My first thankful thought was that I am thankful for Kathy because she loves me.

It is nearly impossible to get a family picture where everyone is smiling, but Kathy is rarely the problem.

Maybe the response was due to the way I posed the question, but it is interesting to think of the way that we often love God in the same way — looking for how He benefits us rather than adoring Him for who He is. I guess it is an inescapable fact that we are pretty selfish and self-focused people.

Looking at the blogs over the past two years, I see that I haven’t really done a proper Mothers’ Day blog for my wife. This cries out to be corrected:

Five Reasons I Am Thankful for the Mother of My Children

  1. She is kind.
    I often think that one of the main reasons God decided that “it is not good for man to be alone” is that we are so good at justifying our own behavior and denying the need for spiritual growth. One of the most challenging things about living with Kathy is that she sets a high standard of kindness. She seems to genuinely be capable of loving a large number of people and acts and speaks kindly toward nearly everyone. I am continually reminded of the way Jesus wants me to act toward others by the example of my wife.
  2. She is extraordinarily beautiful.
    I hope I never forget the way that Kathy smiled at me when she came up the aisle on our wedding day. I have a picture of her, taken by a bridesmaid in the dressing room just a few hours before, that helps me remember the way she looked. But in a strange way, she is more beautiful to me now than she was then. It certainly doesn’t hurt that she has been taking such good care of her body in the past year! Yesterday we were driving home from church, and she was wearing a very pretty and flattering pink dress. She had been waiting in the car while I grabbed something that had been forgotten in the church, and she had her knees drawn up and her feet on the dashboard of the van. There was something very young and girlish about her posture, and I got a chance to once again admire her grace and beauty. What were those fools at William and Mary thinking, to let me swoop down and carry her off? Even more, as I see her with eyes that have shared almost 14 years of marriage, the beauty of her character blazes out, almost eclipsing her physical attractiveness. A shared smile or a wink from her still makes my heart skip a beat, all the more because it is invested with so many shared experiences and jokes.
  3. My Sweetie enjoying a clean kitchen, thanks to Daniel
    My Sweetie, enjoying a clean kitchen, thanks to Daniel’s hard work.

  4. She is very fun.
    We never have to look very far for a chance to celebrate, thanks to Kathy’s enthusiam and delight in making the commonplace events of life a reason for joy. In stark contrast to my often-dour and occasionally-cynical perspective, Kathy views most events as an opportunity for fun through glasses of optimism and cheerfulness. She sets the standard for our whole family and draws us all closer to God by exhibiting the joy of the Lord.
  5. She is of noble character.
    It sounds stuffy when I read those words in Proverbs 31:10, but when I think about it, ‘noble’ is a great word to describe my beloved. One does not raise (or even partially raise) five children without becoming familiar with self-sacrifice — and what is nobility but putting the needs of others ahead of yourself?
    We have had a great life, so far, and have been spared a lot of the grief and sorrow that others have faced. But (I assure you) there have been countless opportunities to be selfish, and Kathy is strongly characterized by choosing her family over herself, day in, day out. When there is a sacrifice that needs to be made for the children, Kathy is almost always the one to set the example, and it falls to me to follow, often grumbling under my breath.
  6. She manages our home and the children’s schooling nearly single-handedly.
    One of the things any wise man prizes in a wife is her ability to manage the household. I can probably count on one hand the times I have heard her lodge a serious complaint about her role as home school teacher. While it is true that the children pitch in, and even I help a little, most of the day-to-day work of keeping our household in food and clothing and some semblance of cleanliness is done by Kathy. This often-thankless and nearly unending job is something she takes in stride, breezing through life with a cheerful spirit.

I could go on and on, but I don’t want the rest of the husbands out there to feel too jealous, so I’d better quit. Suffice it to say that I am a very fortunate man indeed, to have Kathy as my wife and the mother of my horde of children.


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Shooting myself in the foot

Some of the more observant readers may have noticed that the images in some of our recent blogs have had a somewhat transient nature. Kathy noticed it one afternoon, and when I got home, I found that the images were inexplicably missing from the directory on the webserver where we had placed them. But I’m a busy guy, so I just copied the images back to the webserver and turned my attention elsewhere.

This mysterious behavior continued for several days. Each morning the pictures would be there, and in the afternoon they would be gone. It was baffling, but I’m a busy guy, so I just kept copying them back over. Although it was alarming to have my files deleted by some unknown agency, the regularity with which it happened was comforting in that it indicated a systemic rather than human origin (people are just not that patient).

Finally I got some time to investigate the matter, and I discovered that the deletions were happening because of an automated scheduled process I myself had set up (and promptly forgotten). It ran at midnight (local time for wherever my host server is, which seems to be in the middle of the Atlantic) each day, faithfully executing my misguided instructions.

Daniel Funny Face
Would you trust this face with your blog?

Kathy got a kick out of it, especially the part where she could say to me, “Gee, Tim, I guess it was user error, eh?” (This is one of the remarks that I make whenever Kathy has computer trouble — rarely a well-received comment, in my experience.)

So hopefully the phantom image deletions are a thing of the past, or at least until the next time I write a cron job to shoot myself in the foot.


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