Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ordway Family Christmas Letter 2012

Dearest Friends & Family,                                                                                                                                                                

As I sit here in front of our cozy wood stove fire, my heart is full. The Christmas tree is aglow with twinkling white lights, ornaments hung helter-skelter in odd clumps on the branches, and the plastic nativity set is scattered around its base.  Our littlest beauty, Grace, is sound asleep in her crib while the eldest three have made camp at the base of the boys’ bunk bed, surrounded by fortifications constructed of foam chairs, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals galore.  A few creaking floorboards and three excited little voices coming from two piles of blue, and one of pink can be heard in the living room of our little farmhouse as they chatter and giggle about enemies and spies. Yes, such is a picture of our life right now, and what a beautiful life it is.  If any sentiment resonates with me this year, it is that of thankfulness.  

“KB”, our Caleb (age 7), finished his first year of school – Kindergarten, and embarked upon his second – First Grade.  Though he changed schools between the two, he has done well at both, in fact, having recently won the first grade spelling bee!  It has been fun watching him go from forming words to fluency in reading over the past year and observing him put together various pieces of logic and math from daily life.  However, all of his stuffed animals are still of utmost importance to him, and though he has begun to be a little more self-conscious to his outward responses publicly, he still loves to watch Veggie Tales and the like in the privacy of his own living room, laughing and giggling throughout.  Most importantly, he desperately wants us to snuggle with him and tell stories each night…..something neither Jason nor I are eager to give up anytime soon.   He is our tenderhearted boy with a tough outer shell and requires much patience from his parents!  But strong is his heart, and if we all stay the course, he will be a fine man someday. 

“Emet, my Emet” (age 5), is a thoughtful and helpful little soul.  He continues to grow in mind and stature and is frequently mistaken for Caleb’s twin….A large boy he is!  He has flourished in “Friday School Kindergarten”, our home school Co-op.  He loves the classroom time, and a chance to pack his lunchbox and carry a backpack.  He is working hard on his letters and numbers, putting together words and writing birthday letters to his stuffed animals.  There are a few words he still mispronounces, and we might be a tad guilty of not correcting him, in holding on to our little boy, but by and large, he is growing out of the preschool years and preparing to move into the world of Kindergarten. Emet is also our budding chef, and not only loves to help in the kitchen, but also loves creating recipes of his own…and to his credit, he comes up with some pretty incredible combinations!  He has a true talent!  

“Ru Bear”, our Anna Ruth (age 3), is a passionate and fiery one.  She can be as sweet as sugar, full of laughter and giggles, or as stormy as the deep blue sea.  She definitely can hold her own against her older brothers, who do give her quite the run for her money.  She is the apple of her Papa’s eye and spends most of the time he is home by his side or on his lap.    Her vocabulary has increased from simple sentences pieced together at the beginning of the year to a full vocabulary of ramblings, missing “R” and “Th” and “V”s which are replaced by “W” and “F”s.  “Whew Awe We Gowing?”….”NO NOT!”….and “I Luf you” are things we hear frequently from our little Ru Bear, in addition to her sing song little voice chatting away to her dollies and friends.  She can frequently be seen toting around two or more dollies and loves to rock them and put them to bed.  

Our Gracie, (age 1), is a true joy.  Our entire family is delighted daily by her winning smile, adorable dimples, twinkling, bright eyes and happy countenance.  She holds her own to be sure, not allowing herself to be left behind in any situation. But, for the most part, she is full of laughter, and increasingly, silly antics.  Knowing she is our last, it has been both a joy and a sadness to see these stages pass for the last time in our family.  However, we are looking forward with great anticipation at the new adventures we have before us.  

As for Jason and I, life remains full.  Jason spends many hours at Columbia West Engineering, his workplace of nearly 10 years, and we took the big step of becoming partners this year.  I have been working hard at being Mama to my four little ones, and in my spare time, (which is very spare indeed!), I have been trying to write more in my blog and have started a kitchen blog and Facebook page, Mama Ann’s Kitchen, to capture some of the fun my kiddos and I have in the kitchen and demo the Demarle Flexipan product I have long used and now distribute (our Disneyland fund). :-)

We are blessed beyond measure by a large group of dear friends and family to share our lives with.  I can’t even count the number of times a need has been met, or babysitting provided for an appointment or a much needed date night.  However, more often that not, we all find ourselves gathered together as families spending time together…..which may include 15-20 children and 12 or so adults.  The memories we are making are full of laughter, noise, and a good share of small arguments over various “mishaps”.  Negotiation and teamwork skills are already in full swing.  Because of both our life stage with little ones and a life of friends and fellowship, our house isn’t always as tidy or spotless as I would hope…..nor is the car vacuumed or the laundry complete.  But life is full, and life is good.  I truly wouldn’t change a thing.  

Friends, if you’re reading this letter, you have been a part of my life in some capacity over time.  Times change, and things rearrange, but a friend will never lose their spot in my heart.  May God bless each of you in this rich season of the celebration of His Son’s birth.  May you enjoy and treasure each moment spent with family and friends, storing the memories away in your heart for a rainy day and preparing the way for new and lasting traditions.  

Many Blessings,

Ann, for the family

Jason: (360) 909 0892,
Ann: (206) 290 7359,,,  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One Year Old: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Ah, my dear sweet Grace.  As I sit here nursing you, I know our time together in such a bond is coming to a close.  I'd like to think it will go on forever, but as the seasons of life change from one to another, such things do pass.  But not just yet.  Not yet.  This Mama and her baby girl are not quite ready.  I know we'll have many beautiful times together from here forward.  I'm simply clinging to the now and the recent past.  It is a habit of mine, you know, one I'm working on. 

It is now two weeks past your birthday.  I think I've had a hard time sitting down to write this blog....this final month of the first year. It is hard to finish something sometimes when it means closing a door.  Yet...isn't that what life is all about? Walking forward....being where you are at while you are there, then looking ahead and taking each day as it comes.....celebrating and learning from the changes we encounter.  Growth.

And you are growing faster than I can imagine!  Tall and big.  You're easily fitting in 18 month clothing and some 2T shirts and dresses!  Was it only a year ago you were in newborn clothes?

In your third month, I wrote:

"I am reminded of the description of St. Nicholas in Twas the Night Before Christmas.....fitting for our Grace Noelle: 'Your eyes - how they twinkle - your dimples so merry, Your cheeks so like roses, 
your nose like a cherry.' "

Oh how true this remains of you! You are a bright star!  When you smile, the world seems to light up, and then on seeing our reaction to you, yet another level of brightness shines forth.  Unbelievable you are......dimples so cute, countenance so bright, eyes so sparkly.  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star indeed.

You are standing alone now, without the support of furniture or cabinetry.  In fact, the day before your first birthday, you took your first steps, alone, in the center of our kitchen. From squatting you rose up.  Caleb and I saw you, and then, with a gleam in your eyes and a brilliant smile on your face, you stepped forward again....then again.  We were beyond excited, and the more excited we got, the happier you became.  Emet came running down from upstairs, and Sissy started crying in the living room because she had missed it.  And you did it again, for each of them as they entered, and again for Papa that night when he came home.  Now, having more than two weeks passed, and seeing the infrequency with which you do this, I know you did it for us....for each of us.  As crawling is much more expedient, your few steps are typically followed by lowering down to a rapid crawl across the floor, though you will grasp even one finger and walk, quite surely, beside us.  But the minute we let go, down you go. 

I simply cannot adequately express the radiance in the countenance of babies and their families when such milestones occur. There, in those moments, is no shame or fear of public timidity, simply an excitement proclaiming - "Look at me!  I'm doing it!", or, "I can't believe I'm here to see this!"  And, this simply begins the childhood quest for praise and attention.  It has, of course, been occurring since your wee months, but as you begin to speak - you will ask for it.....and as your Mama, I will do my very best to quench your every need to have your little tank filled with love and praise.  

To be truthful, I might have confused you a bit, for I had left my planner at Grandpa and Grandma B's house at Thanksgiving and went a few days without it (NOT a good plan for your Mama.)  So, the day prior to your birthday, the kids and I sang happy birthday to you, put on the birthday hat at breakfast, your first birthday shirt, and we headed out the door to Caleb's school honors assembly.  After sitting down and sharing your first birthday news with those sitting around me, Papa soon arrived to point out that that day was not, in fact, November 29, and therefore NOT your birthday!  I quickly took the onesie off to save any further embarrassment. So, perhaps you had been holding out to take your first solo steps until your birthday and I confused you.  Or, maybe you just wanted to be the first in the family to walk.  Either way, you were our youngest "first stepper!"   

You are certainly one to hold your own.  You will not let us leave you alone without voicing your opinion, and loudly at that! When you are finished, you will cross your arms back and forth across your body, and when you want something - anything - you clap your hands, then extend out your arms in front of you, bending almost backwards at the elbows and clasping your hand as in the "milk" sign.  Lately, you have been shaking your head from side to side and have begun making silly faces - just to be silly.....squinting your eyes closed, then opening them again to see us, of course, staring at you and smiling!  You are quite a ham.

I look down at you in your crib, Grace Noelle, and I am amazed.  I see a baby that stretches, barely fitting your crib from side to side.....when just a year ago, you were so tiny and small when we first laid you there.  I see your growing, shiny locks of blonde hair - still short, but so much more than the downy fuzz that covered your head a year ago.  

But more than all of this, I see a future....I see you in a year, and then two, three, four, five and six from now, in the same way I have seen your brothers and sister grow before my very eyes.  All of the stages and joys that lie before us. I see the ending of the season of childbearing for me....and while that creates a sad feeling in my heart, a reminiscent also creates a hope and anticipation for the joys of moving forward as a little family - growing and learning together, planting our roots like mighty oak trees, growing deep in the nourishing soil....learning as a family to love, give, and serve; creating traditions and beautiful memories that will last our whole lives long, and will become, for you, the foundation of your lives....becoming together a mighty lighthouse in a dark world.  

But Grace, you are so much more than simply the fourth child, the last to pass through the growing years in our home.  You are a miracle in your own right.  Beautiful, charming, and full of life.  You are cherished by your family and all who encounter you.  You have a winning way about you that makes you unforgettable.  

May you grow in Grace, sweet little one.  Grow in the beauty and Grace for which you were created.  You are amazing, cherished, and above all, are a precious child of God.  

Grow on, little Grace.  Grow on!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The best Christmas tree ever...

There would have been a time in my life when I never, EVER, would have looked at our Christmas tree this year as worthy of praise.  A somewhat misshapen tree, far shorter than I would have liked due to our short farmhouse ceilings.  Ornaments crammed far too close together and in no good pattern or order.  Plastic, shatterproof balls hung in heavy balance on the bottom branches.  A hastily scribbled paper angel, made from a paper plate, topping the tree.  No, our Christmas tree would never grace the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine. 

Yet, as I sit here alone in our living room....lights off and enjoying the glow of the twinkling white lights, I can't help but think back on the events of today.
...Of tromping in the rain through the mud, searching for just the right $10 tree.
...Of watching the boys with their Papa, sawing away with pride at the trunk that was soon to fall.
...Of hearing the repeated question over and over...."Is it time to start decorating the tree yet?"
...Of seeing the expressions of delight as they reached into the ornament bin to evoke memories of Christmases past.
...Of remembering that everything with their names or marks makes a place for them in the family.
...Of keeping in mind that each poorly glued, hastily cut paper ornament is a source of their pride.
...Of watching Anna Ruth pick out all of the Thomas Kincaid houses, for which she clearly demonstrated awe and delight, and gently carrying them to the tree, where she would hang the heavy ornaments ever so precariously on the end of the small branches.
...Of hearing the crack of ornaments, once considered precious, treasured objects.....collected over time from various jaunts and they bounced to the ground, breaking off this piece and that.
...Of seeing the big, sad, frightened eyes as they realized they had broken something considered special....though they had tried their best....the ceramic bagpipes from Scotland, the little Thomas Kincaid cottage....the bell with the Christmas scene.
...Of realizing these little people were experiencing great joy and wonder from holding these tiny treasures in their hands, and felt a deeper disappointment than I when the object slipped from their hands.
...Of bending down, tipping up chins, wiping off tears and reassuring their precious little spirits, and mine, that everything would be ok...and that those ornaments were just things.  Just stuff.
...Of giving hugs, restoring spirits, and walking them back to the ornament bin to try once again, with a good chance of further mishaps.

Yes, there would have been a time when this tree would have been an eyesore to me.  But no longer.  It has become more beautiful to me than diamonds....more precious than gold.  There will come a day, when I won't have these little hands helping me or tears to wipe away....when no one will consider placing five ornaments on a single branch.  I'll be able to have crystal icicles and glass balls to my heart's desire.  And yet....I'm not sure I'll want to.  It may just be that I always hang a paper ornament or two and Emet's little angel on the top of our tree....or at least his child's.  

What I have in my family now is a time of tradition, of wonder, of memories and joy, or stories and "remember whens"......all surrounding the mutual gathering and decoration of our little tree.  And when those precious memories drop to the floor in a pile of rubble?  Well, I then have a chance to touch and mend, to speak directly to the core of a wounded heart, assuring that little heart that it will always have a home and a safe place in our remind that little spirit what is important in life, and it's certainly not a fragile piece of painted ceramic.

And that life treasure....I wouldn't give up for anything. In fact, this might be the best Christmas tree ever.....Well, at least so far. :-)