Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallow's Eve

This might have been the most perfect "Halloween" ever! What did we do that was sooooooo wonderful? We stayed in! It was so much fun not to hurriedly stuff our faces, rush around getting in costume, bustling from door to door, while one of us follows in the vehicle, usually freezing or sopping wet from rain. We had a cozy night in with the family. Peace trumps candy any day in my day. We had a fun-filled night that the kids enjoyed more than trekking out in the night. would not want one of the kids did not First they carved a pumpkin with daddy. Dad always picks out THE pumpkin the the pumpkin patch each year. We call it his, but He calls it ours! He chooses this pumpkin so that he can enjoy time with the kids, making memories they will hold dear one day. We hope so! They gutted the pumpkin and helped choose the design. Once it is drawn on the pumpkin, dad does most of the carving, although he does let the kids in on the action.

 This year, Dad got to use his Father's day gift from the kids.....his Dremel.

Can you guess the character that our kids chose this year? Yes, the web-slinger, himself!

The kids got to veg out on the world's largest Rice Crispy Treat, snuggled up warm in their jammies, watching a favorite classic. Dad and I roasted pumpkin seeds, another West tradition, which were devoured in two days! This year the kids got their first experience giving out candy, which they totally loved!

Although we did not run the neighborhoods this Halloween, the kids did enjoy dressing in costumes and receiving their fair share of candy. Our church, Hillcrest Baptist Church, help it's annual Trunk or Treat this year. There were approximately 20 stations for game-playing and treat receiving. We served an estimated 500+ parents and children.

 Holding true to my Type-Aness, the kids had a theme...Super Mario Brothers!

 Mario and Luigi (although Luigi had a hard time dealing with the fact that he was not Mario, since he was the oldest. But, we had the Luigi costume already and the only Mario costume available was in the smaller size.) He may be a Type-A in the making.
While they look like Belle and Barbie, they are Princesses Peach and Daisy.

 Here is out little Hoot Owl!

Monday, October 28, 2013

In Memory of...

Today was hard! Everything about today was just hard. I did not want to get out of bed. I stayed in longer than I probably should have, but I just did not want this day to start. I knew it was going to suck. And, it did suck. Sorry, it just did. I tried to just push through the emotion of what the day would bring; persevere, even though every ounce of me did not want to do anything, while a bitter-sweetness loomed. Nothing went well, mostly because I allowed everything to be dictated by what I was feeling. I did give myself and the kids a very abbreviated school day, more because I needed it, plus we had somewhere to be. Trying to get our five children ready, out the door, in the designated places and on time, can often feel like I am dragging a dead horse though wet sand. The devil had his way with me today, starting with a missing shoe fiasco as we were trying to get out the door. This turned into my shouting how unsurprised I was that things go missing in the catastrophe they call bedrooms. So said child wore a dress, tights and sneakers because I did not want to be late. I had to be somewhere important, for someone important! This special person deserved punctuality, and so much more. Seething with frustration I drop the littles off at a sitter and head to a most familiar place, Hillcrest, our church. It felt a little less familiar today. Just in the nick of time, we found a pew and were settled. Settled as much as I could be settled. My heart was not settled, but so unsettled. Today we laid my friend to rest. Today was Brenda's funeral...Brenda's funeral. Oh my, how that sounds so strange, so unbelievable. Even to type it, I am overcome with such waves of emotion...sorrow, grief, disbelief...and joy. I am joyful knowing that she is with Christ today. She is whole. How awesome for you, Brenda.

It has been such a whirlwind of shock since Friday. We all went to Memphis for our fingerprinting appointment at the Department of Homeland Security. As we were leaving the facility, we received a completely unexpected text that Brenda had been taken to the hospital and needed prayer. Before we left the parking lot, as a family, we prayed for Brenda, not knowing any single detail. We prayed God's hand on her in whatever situation. As we were driving to the Ethiopian restaurant, Marcus called our pastor to see if he knew any details. Our pastor did not give us good news. They were waiting for all of her family to arrive at the hospital. Waiting on family to arrive? Nothing about that sounded good. We waited on our meal and word on Brenda. Word finally came not long after our food arrived, that Brenda was gone. We were crushed. What a blow! She had gone to be with the Lord and no longer here with us. He called her home. She was 57 years old. She was active, vibrant and good as gold. She had been seemingly perfectly healthy Wednesday night at church when she brought me the usual checks to sign. She was seemingly fine at bible study Thursday night, requesting prayer for another. This day she was gone. We did not talk about it over our meal and did not tell the kids just yet. Marcus and I discussed our shock as we reminisced on the drive home, while the kids watched a movie. We wondered if Rex, her husband who had gone home to be with the Lord some years before, had been the first one to greet her. Was she totally shocked and amazed and confused to see him? Or in the twinkling of her eye, did she completely understand everything? Did she know without a shadow of a doubt where she was? 

We attended her visitation last night at our church. She was dressed beautifully. Loved ones were gathered to say their good byes to such a wonderful lady. Her funeral honored her memory well. It was only fitting that the men in her life speak. Brenda was our church secretary, the hub of operation. Our Youth Minister, who spent a great deal of time with her daily, spoke first. He reminded us of her godly qualities, notably of her burden-bearing ways. Brenda always wanted everyone to be okay. She was a natural caretaker. She was helping raise her two grand-daughters, being the prime, spiritual leader in the home. She no longer had Rex, her husband, to be the spiritual leader. She spoke of him in bible study with us. She was a sharer. Have you ever noticed that strong bonds form when you show enough trust with another, that you share intimate pieces of your life? Brenda always shared in bible study. Many times in bible study, she was my go-to gal. I was depending on her to help keep discussion flowing and avoid the awkward silences that come with the I-do-not-want-to-answer-that kind of questions. She was not afraid to let us in and we, in turn, were not afraid to let her in too. Our pastor reminded us that Brenda was also a doer. She was an active member of our church. As we walked down the hall, checking the sign-up sheets for upcoming activities, hers was the first name we saw. She always wore a smile and a positive attitude If she was ever asked how she was, her response was always the same "Well, I'm marvelous!" She was marvelous.

Our church will be different without her. My life will be different without her. MANY lives will be different without her, but MANY lives were changed because of her. I was honored and blessed to know her and love her. I was even more honored and blessed to be loved by her. Until I am called home, dear friend, you will be missed.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Winning Season

We enjoyed another wonderful soccer season this year. We had a group of young men filled with such talent that they carried the team to a 8-0 season!! Our best season ever!!! This year Eli advanced into the U-10 league. There were some changes we encountered as a part of this league. The teams played six-on-six, instead of four-on-four. There was more position play in this league as well. The coach assigned specific offense and defense positions, and this was our first season with a goalie. The boys showed much more aggression this year, instead of shying away from the ball.

We are blessed to have the same great (and really handsome) coach we have had for the last six season. It is an honor for Marcus to be able to work with these boys, teaching them the skills of soccer, along with camaraderie and team work. He can give a very powerful half-time speech, motivating a monumental comeback where the team started off a game being down 3 goals. By half time they had moved the score to 2-3, still not in our favor. Coach was able to boost morale and get the boys focused on team work and hustling. They were able to win the game, 7-6 in the end! In sacrificing his personal time to mold these young men, he was blessed by seeing their growth on the field and in their maturity levels. This season he implemented a new, team tradition...prayer. He understands his responsibility to be a godly role model, not only to our children, but to the team's children and even their parents. We are very thankful to the parents for entrusting their sons to his team.

We even had some great cheerleaders on the sidelines. Some cheered less and explored more.

And, there was no season complete with out a little unruliness! 

One of the greatest highlights of our season was that Eli was able to play with his best friends. There is nothing like experiencing the challenges of competition and celebrations of success with your friends. We are so blessed by them.

Marcus built such a rapport with the team this season that the boys began planning a celebratory "dumping of the gatorade" on the winning coach if they were able to complete the season undefeated. Coach was on to their scheme, but he was honored to let them indulge. As the team knelt to close the season in prayer, the boys were ready to let him have it! He even bought them a large Powerade and cupcakes to end the successful season. I think he knew he would be wearing it!

#1 Team Fall 2013 Wolves

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Although a little past due, the West family fall traditions have officially gotten under way! It just does not quite feel like fall until the cool temps start rolling in, the leaves begin changing their colors and our annual fall traditions begin. First we take our trip to the pumpkin patch, usually picking our a few good pumpkins for decorating and carving. This year we got a variety of different kinds of pumpkins. And, EVERYONE got to pick out a pumpkin for their very own! We also got some really good pictures of the five little pumpkins from our own patch!

(I am so stinkin' lucky that they are ALL MINE, I know!)

Photo bomb!

Eager to let their creative juices flow, they asked to decorate their pumpkins and I could not resist! Protective clothing (or none at all) - CHECK! Out of close proximity to anything valuable - CHECK! Armed with as many paint colors as they could imagine - CHECK! They painted and perfected, each their own pumpkin (with the exception of Shy...I assumed she would ingest most of it, so she sat this year out!) They were so proud of their creations, and rightfully so!

2013 finished products!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013



We have our final appointment for our final task to check off the to-do list before we can send off our dossier TO ETHIOPIA!!!! We will be fingerprinted this month with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. We will still wait for our form I-171 H, Notice of Favorable Determination, from the USCIS. Once that valuable slip of paper is in our hand, we will add it to our dossier and send! One step closer...