Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Must Confess.

Because I am an oldest child it is in my nature to confess my short comings.

I have been such an all around lazy person I think some one should fire me.  I have not blogged and have done even less writing on my novel in weeks.  That book is not going to write itself and that lake home is not going to get bought with out said book (or a secret inheritance from a wealthy stranger I once impressed; but I'm not holding my breath over that one). I have not even down loaded the pictures of my Easter dress or the dresses of my neighbors to blog about.

I have been slowly working on a new skirt. Sew a seam stop change a diaper.  Sew a seam stop clear the table for lunch etc. But even that was halted by the disappearance of my buttonholer because of course I can't move on until I make two tiny button holes. And how much time did I waste looking for that stupid attachment anyway?

I've pretty much given up cooking real suppers for the rest of the summer. Yesterday my children had yogurt for dinner and last week I'm fairly certain they had cereal at least twice. It's just not in me to heat up the kitchen when it's warm out. And I'm pretty sure we're having french toast for dinner; maybe I'll cut up some strawberries to go with it but I'm not making any promises. I'm not really into folding clothes right now either.

Then of course last week we all had some gross stomach virus which I followed up by immediately catching a cold. If I could get rid of my children and spend the next three days in bed watching old episodes of SeaQuest DSV and eating toast, I'm pretty sure I would.

I promise I will try to get to blogging about all of my great sewing ventures soon, it's just so far to the camera and then I have to find the plug thing to hook the camera into the computer...

So to sum up I am lazy, a little crabby, stuffy and would like to be fired.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Big Big Loud American Family Part Three.

Aunts and Uncles.

I've already discussed my Aunts briefly here but in keeping with the family reunion I wanted to go into a bit more personal detail.
People are always confusing my mom and Aunt Dawn.
Aunt Dawn and Uncle Alan. If your keeping track Aunt Dawn is cousin Jennifer's mom.  She is so sweet and kind. She's also quite crafty and if it weren't for her there would be (by my mother's own admission) no photos of me or my sisters growing up. She was a photo taker and scrap book leader before those things were a multi-billion dollar industry like they are now. When we were young spending the night at Aunt Dawns house was so much fun because she let you stay up as long as you wanted and pretty much eat what you wanted to. Couple that with the fact that she was within walking distance to a drug store where we could buy penny candy and I'm not sure how she could stand all of it.  As far as uncle Alan goes for some reason I have this really vivid memory of him letting all of us (that's a lot) take turns having "horse back" rides on him during a birthday party which may explain some of his current back problems. Sorry uncle Alan!
That is Jill Uncle David's Dog she thinks she is his wife.
David.  Uncle David was always the coolest uncle because he was not married and had no children. Which meant that he would breeze into town from large and exotic distant cities like Milwaukee and whip us all into a wild hyper frenzy while our parents looked on helplessly. In those days we called him "uncle Dave-do"... I'm not sure why if any one knows they could let me know in the comments.  Now days he owns Stoney Creek Farm where my parents and sister live and work. He is so giving that whatever cousin seems down on their luck or is looking for a new lease on life he takes them in and gives them a bit of work. He's also extremely musical (as are most of them) and plays the piano so beautifully, one of the best things in life (though so rare now days) is to listen to him and mom sing duets while he plays.
Wouldn't he look at home on a ranch?
Dan and Bonnie (Spencer and Kendra's dad and mom) he is so quiet that when I was young I didn't really know what to think about him. He and his wife live in the country, hunt, used to have horses, I think they still have chickens.  Their kids were always in 4-H. They seemed so mystical to me growing up like something out of Little House on the Prairie. As I grew I began to see how funny he is. It truly is the quiet ones you have to watch out for.  Uncle Dan is also extremely artistic and once engraved a skeleton  key with the words "Key to my heart" for me to give to Brian on our first valentine's together.
Aunt Debbie is the oldest daughter just like me.
Debbie and Carl (KatieBeth and Kenton's mom and dad). Uncle Carl has a deep loud booming voice and is probably the most friendly outgoing person I've ever met.  He's the one who made me my horse stable along with a pair of adirondack chairs, my living room shelves and a shelf under the windows in my kitchen (he's a very talented wood worker).  When I was little he used to chase us around saying "I'm the kissing monster" while making loud wet kissing sounds... this freaked me out a lot.  Aunt Debbie is amazing. We have a lot in common and spend a good deal of time when we're together going "Oh my gosh me too!" for example, "I hate it when they mix the spaghetti sauce and the noodles together." "Oh my gosh me too!" Aunt Debbie's love of scripture and her desire to study it deeply is a continued source of motivation and encouragement to me. I, too, feel closest to God when I'm learning from His word.  She  used to take me shopping for a back to school outfit when things were tight for my parents and still makes time for me today. She has stepped in and filled a void left when my mom moved by taking me to lunch and spending endless hours talking about God, the Church, and my mother-in-law.  She also gave me the gentle push and help I needed to move from the post-baby frumpy clothing stage (she is always well dressed).
A very beautiful family. Uncle Doug was once mistaken
for a television star while on an airplane.
Doug and Meg. Had kids the latest on my mom's side which makes my Aunt Meg the coolest of the Aunts (sorry every one else it's just a fact of life, Heather will always be cooler then me). They lived in the big city and would have us over for the weekend.  Uncle Doug is one of those genius self starter types. He retired in his thirties and then started a Sport's ministry in Detroit Michigan. He is now a pastor as well which means there are things about their life that ring true for Brian and I as well. All of mom's siblings are funny and Uncle Doug is no exception. Aunt Meg is the kind of person you wish you could be; well dressed, a good hostess, and charming.  When I was a little girl she sent me a card (not my sisters just me) it had a scientific illustration of a shell on the cover and I remember just being so blown away by the picture it seemed magical and made me feel so special that she would take the time to send me my very own mail.
I had a very hard time finding a pic of Aunt Linda (she's the one on the farthest left)
Aunt Linda. Dad's sister is the nicest most kind person I have ever known. She is such a long-suffering servant heart that you know when God looks at her he is pleased. We lived in the same town as her and she had kids way after us as well so she also treated us awesome. She would have me and Courtney over to spend the night and get out this fancy porcelain tea set and have tea (sugar water) with us. She let us use her make up and would read to us out of Beatrix Potter.  Aunt Linda made Courtney and I feel important and special after Heather was born, that was a true gift.  When dad talks about Aunt Linda he lights up and he's also told me that I have her smile which makes me feel like I'm part of that "light up" too.
Aunt Margaret and my dad. Oh I forgot to say her husband is really quiet and funny too.
What is it about the quiet ones?
Aunt Margaret is Dad's oldest sister. Oldest of six kids with parents that were absent as much as they weren't. That is a lot of responsibility. She loves Jesus and she loves education.  She is a very intelligent and caring person.  She's suffered through a lot of heart ache in her life including the loss of her husband in an accident when her children were young.  To handle all of that with such strength is an inspiring thing to behold.

My dad is the one with his tongue sticking out. My dad's tongue
is sticking out in almost all photos of him.
Uncle Larry is Dad's only brother. He is a retired missionary and spent most of my life in far and distant lands with his wife and children.  Until this wedding I hadn't seen him since I was married and only a few times before that so getting to know him over this week at the farm was really cool.  He is a very amazing person full of so much information and interesting stories it's crazy. He also has a really fun accent and is taller then my dad.  It was a real blessing getting to see my dad with him; you could see in his face how much Larry meant to him, and thinking back I've never heard dad tell any story about him that wasn't a warm good memory (I think Larry used to have a rat as a pet!).

So that is my aunts and uncles that were at the farm.  Can you keep it straight? ?ould you pass a test if I gave you one?  They are all amazing and special. The role they've played in my life is diverse and goes back (gulp) thirty years.  Thank you God for blessing me with so many loved ones with so many people who love me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Me a Pregnant Woman and My Lawnmower.

My life is vastly different then I imagined it would be when I was eighteen. I am not playing my trumpet in the San Francisco Symphony, I am not a Forensic psychologist, or a published author (yet). That being said my life is way better then I ever dreamed it could be.

God has blessed me with a family I love, a job I love (that of the at-home-mother and unofficial associate youth pastor), and friends I adore. Those who know me know how much I love the idea of the 1940's and 50's.  The seeming simplicity of the times wrapped up in aprons. All the mom's being home to come over and enjoy coffee with each other during the day while their husbands were off at work. While I don't bake in heels and pearls I have been given the best gift of all, relationships with other Christian women.  Three weeks ago I was sitting in my living room, while a total of five children ran around, sipping coffee with two of my closest friends during the day while our husbands were at work.  We were chatting about everything and nothing and I just felt this joy wash over my heart in a way that surprised me.  A feeling that this is what life is about; these small moments and these cherished friendships.

Today one of those women (who is now pregnant) came over with her daughter to visit and enjoy the glorious sunshine.  I had a million things to get done, including mowing the lawn and running to the post office to mail a birthday care package, while watching four children (one of whom is a baby) with no car.  I was feeling overwhelmed and the familiar tightening of my chest was beginning when she stopped by.

"Hey this could work out" she said sweetly "I need to go down town and drop off a donation I'll stop at the post office for you if you don't mind watching my daughter.  It would be so much easier then loading her in and out of her car seat."

My heart began to ease a bit.  Not having to actually go to the post office? Not actually having to load all these kids into the non-existent car? It was well worth the trade.  Then she continued,

"Why don't you go ahead and mow. I'll watch the kids and make sure the baby doesn't get in the way or eat too much grass."

Hallelujah! So I got out the mower, primed the engine and began to try to start the beast.  I began sweating bullets as I pulled and grumbled and pulled some more. I always struggle with the mower it's old and cranky and you have to hold down the handle while pulling, which means I can't use both hands and arms to get it started. Half the time I can't start it at all and the mowing has to wait for my husband to come home and use his manly arm muscles.  My dear friend walked over her baby bump leading the way and held onto the handles while I pulled the pull string.  It still took several minutes and a few tries but together we got it started, and together we got my lawn mowed, our children fed, errands ran and package mailed with out any one loosing their temper and with the children in relative safety.

This is what the body of Christ is about.  Not some metaphysical ideal, but day to day living.  And living it with a team that loves the same Lord you do makes it so much better, so much easier! My friends and I don't all agree on every detail of doctrine, politics, or child rearing.  We are at different places in our walk with Jesus but we love each other and we love God.  We're there in the good times and bad and in the stressful-to-much-to-do times.  If it takes two of us just to start a mower then it's going to take all of us together to make an impact in this world.  It's too big a job to by ourselves, thank God he gave us people to stand by our side.

This post is in participation with the Rally To Restore Unity.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Big Big Loud American Family Part Two.

The Cousins.

I have thirteen first cousins on my mom's side and almost that many on my dad's side. Today I will be discussing only the cousins that were at Stoney creek because that is who I have pics of and what I'm wanting. I mean I'm wanting you all to feel like you were in there in the midst of the crazy love that is the Kempton family (for the most part there were quite a lot of awesome Lawheads and some others mixed in too. If your there you get sucked in and become one of us, like a good not scary version of the Borg, or the Blob or a fruit salad of people... you get the picture.)

Ok now I want you to imagine some kind of Charlie's Angles/ The A-team music in your head and when you see a picture of one of my cousins imagine that voice that like tell's you who they are and why they're a valuable member of the spy team. I would even try to include music and fancy graphics but I have no idea how to do that and my husband is at work.

Casey: My youngest girl cousin who was so little at my wedding she pranced around in my veil. Her dad used to tell her stories about me entitled "Princess golden hair". She is brilliant and beautiful and as a Jr. in High school runs a bakery out of her house!!!! She makes me feel old and a little lazy.

Jennifer: Jen does not make me feel old because she is exactly four months older then me. She has three wonderful sweet children who are really nice to Super H. We grew up together, spent the night at each other's houses, and went swimming every day in the summer.  We drifted apart after I moved to the U.P. but now her and her husband are super Christians devoted to their church and we have more in common then ever. Being with Jen made me feel like a young girl again and that is a great feeling.

Kendra and Spencer: Obviously brother and sister I mean look at that hair. I'm one of the older cousins and getting to know these two as adults was amazing. Spencer is so quiet that his sense of humor really sneaks up on you and Kendra is so sweet and her hair is so to-die-for that you feel like your experiencing disney royalty come to life when you hang out with them.

Josh: Oh man, this is Jen's younger brother and he used to be such a pain in our necks! Now look at him he like is wearing a uniform and is all tough... except when he requested a song so he could dance with his mom then he was all sweet and teary eyed. Who doesn't love the tough guy with a smooshy poet inside?

KatieBeth: I know Katie and her brother probably better then any of the other cousins because my mom watched them five days a week while we were little, so she's sort of like a sister.  Plus when I was in high school I spent a summer as their nanny making them cinnamon toast and reading them stories. Now she's all grown up with her own house, and super amazing ministry to women coming out of prison and is such a talented photographer (she does my kids photos and they're amazing).  Also KatieB. knows how to boogie.

Kenton: Oh my, where do I even begin? He is KatieB's brother and is Heather's age and went from being the tiniest little thing with a deep man voice to a super tall handsome thing with a deep man voice. He is loving, sensitive, intelligent and loves my kids.  Well he loves all kids. Is there anything more wonderful then a full grown man who will wrestle with your four year old super hero for hours? If there is I don't know what it is. I now semi-intentionally dress Super H like Kenton use to dress because he was the cutest thing ever.
Robert and Jacob: Apparently the only photos they managed to not escape from was the family photo. Yes they are the most beautiful family ever but try to just focus on the boys for now. Robert aka Robby grew up so fast I almost had an stroke! Seriously he was always this cute blond kid who was such a good big brother you would think "If I have kids I hope they love their siblings this much". Now he's a grown up!! He is so kind and gentle and funny.  On top of that he is about to leave on some kind of crazy missionary thing that involves countries I can't talk about and a new cutting edge type of ministry.  How AMAZING!!!!
Jacob is still in high school but since I've seen him last he's grown three feet and his voice has dropped and in keeping with all younger brothers he is really funny, I mean mom-pees-her-pants-laughing-so-hard funny.  I'm not sure what the future has in store for him but I'm guessing it's along the lines of being really successful. 

So that's it, the cousins that I re-connected with at mom's vow thing. And let me just say it was wonderfully strange. Strange because I was in the older tier of cousins and now all these younger ones are grown. Strange because it makes me feel old, really old. But wonderful because they've turned into people I really enjoy being around. So unique and individual but all blindingly wonderful. They are part of my childhood in a way no one except my sisters are. We ran around got dirty stayed up late and tortured our parents together. I baby sat some of them and even snuggled some of them as babies.  Now they're big, grown, have children of their own.  It's so cool to see all these lives connected to mine.  At one point the Big House was alive with so much noise and laughter I just stepped back and took it all in. I just want to remember what that warmth was like in that one moment.  I also found that I was able to be really silly with them in a way that I can't with anybody else except Courtney, Heather and Megan. So maybe when you've known someone your entire life and they've known you it's just more natural; being who you are.  That's why I love them and why I love that Grammy and Papa had six kids. Growing up with that many cousins really is the best way to grow up (which means my sisters better start pumping out lots more babies pronto.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Big Big Loud American Family Part One.

We're not greek or italian but we are huge. I mean there's a lot of us not that we weigh a lot. Though, like the greek and italians we do love to eat and make huge inordinate amounts of food for all of our gatherings (I call it the "Alice Curse" a need to feed every one and make way more food then necessary).  Let me start at the beginning. My Grandparents Alice and Vern Kempton got married and decided they wanted a big family so they had six kids, three girls and three boys and boy oh boy did they end up with a BIG family.  They have sixteen grandkids and eight natural great grandkids plus a lot of cute married in great grandkids. We like to cut up, eat, laugh and generally be pretty loud.

My mom and dad work for my uncle on his pre-civil war horse farm/Bed and Breakfast in Maryland. My sister works there along with whatever cousin is going through a needs-a-job or finding-themselves type of phase. Mom and Dad have also been married for thirty years and decided to renew their vows out under the Maryland sun so every one in the family was invited to make the trek from Michigan to Maryland and celebrate their love.  So it became a sort of weeks long family reunion.

I hadn't been involved in any of the larger-than-life family gatherings since the flue Christmas of 2006.  I see them to be sure not just all at once and for days in a row, I mean it's pretty hard to coordinate 40 some schedules so you just see who you see when you see them... Did any of that make sense?  I wasn't sure how it would go. The noise, the little children under foot. I'm in the older tier of cousins and wasn't sure what it would be like to interact with now grown younger cousins; who have they turned out to be? Face Book is great but it's not the same as actual face to face.

Turns out it was super fun and crazy and loud and full of food and silly and fun. Just like the old days when we were kids except I didn't end up as dirty and no one told me when to go do bed.  I have so much to say and I want you all to know how cool my family is so it's going to have to be a series because well there's a lot of us plus my camera wasn't working so I got no photos I'm hoping to round some up.

This is the summer kitchen and that little creek runs right through the building.
It's spring fed so it's always the same cool temp and they would use
it like a refrigerator. 

Let me finish this introduction with a description of the farm and how beautiful it is. There is an old awesome house that is the Bed and Breakfast (Stoney Creek Farm) and it was filled to the brim with relatives by the end of the week. My mom and dad live on the property in a smaller but very quant home (it was filled with me and my family and a few others) There is a ton of rolling hills and green lawns One of which had a Big tent filled with relatives, and a small free standing office which was also filled with relatives. My sister's home in West Virginia was filled by the end of the week as well.  There are horses and barn cats and lots and lots of dogs. There is a spring fed creek that actually runs through an old summer kitchen and out the other side. There are ponds and the Antitem river right there.  It's lovely and green and the best place in the world for a two year old and four year old to get dirty pet dirty animals see bunnies and turtles and get some well needed sun after our Michigan winter.