Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks with a Grateful Heart

If this little face doesn't paint a picture worth a thousand words, nothing will. We have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. We have five beautiful, wonderful, lovely, sweet, ornery, unique, and I could give so many more adjectives to describe our kids, but I'll spare you. 

We had the distinct honor to watch Mariah celebrate her first Thanksgiving ever. It meant more to us than it did her but it was so neat! Those eyes on that face are twinkling! If you remember when we first were handed this child, she was scared to death. She still has those shadows of wistful expressions at times, but she has come a long way.

This post will have lots of pictures as we spent the holiday in Pittsburgh. To explain a few things first, we stayed at my parents house. There were twenty-three of us spending two nights. It was quite the adventure. Each family had a bedroom. I have one sister that lives just a few miles from my parents house so she did not stay. With that sister and her family, there were twenty-nine there for Thanksgiving!

In order for us to make things fair, we always go home for Thanksgiving and take turns eating dinner at our parents' home. This year was my parents' turn for us to be there for dinner. So, there are many pictures from the festivities there. Not to mention that my mom has a new camera and commissioned Jeremy to take over 100 pictures.

Mariah only had a heavy coat and it was in the 50's. So, like a good cousin, Josh let Mariah borrow his coat. It was a sunny day but she enjoyed the swings.
Cousin Caleb enjoyed spending time with Mariah as well.
Wagon rides were a highlight. 
Becca loved pulling Mariah!
Joshy even got in on the fun!
It may be possible that the wagon rides got a little rough. 
Pap's deer stand served as home base for a few different games.
Then Pap got the go-carts out. Yes, that is my dad driving.
Uncle Steve even got out Pap's quad and took all the kids for a ride. For some reason, Noah (my 13 year old nephew) ended up with a band aid on his head.
Since it was a beautiful day, we decided on family pictures. This is the first time we have had all seventeen of the grandkids home at the same time. Here are my parent's with their grandchildren.
Then some of the individual families. This is my oldest sister, Patty, and her family.
This is my next oldest sister, Tina, and family. Yes, we could pass for twins but there are 3 years between us.
This next picture is my sister, Tammy. She is only 14 months older than me.
Here is my family!
Then my "little" brother, Stephen, and his family.
Here are my parents with the five of us kids.
Then all of us girls.
Mariah was finally able to meet a few family members. Aunt Tina enjoyed a little of one on one time with Mariah.
She also met her cousin, Joshua. He just turned two a few weeks ago. Mariah can be a bit bossy. She sort of took over poor Josh. I'm not sure he liked it!

This was Mariah's Thanksgiving dinner. She ate everything except the stuffing. She had mashed potatoes with gravy, candied sweet potatoes, baked corn, turkey, and peas.
In the middle of Thanksgiving dinner preparations, mom stopped and played with Mariah right in the middle of the kitchen floor.
My brother spent a good part of the day working on my mom and dad's internet problems. He is an IT guy and I'd be lying if I told you I knew exactly what he does. I know it is also his degree in computers but much more complicated than that.
Here is the "kids table".
The big side.
And the other side......

A picture of us!!
We were on our way to visit Jeremy's parents and I took this picture.
Once we got to Jeremy's mom and dad's house, Mariah was a bit overwhelmed. She was into everything. She thought nothing was off limits.
Even the kitty, Frosty.
We got Jeremy's parents together for a picture with Mariah. Unfortunately, Mariah's head was right in front of Jeremy's dad's face.
We had a wonderful time home for the few hours that we were there. We need to make a trip to my Grandma Bash's apartment to visit her when we are home next time. I was hoping to see her at dinner at my mom and dad's but it didn't work out. 

Thanks to Jeremy for taking all the pictures. The only problem he wants that expensive camera.

It is with a very grateful heart that I give thanks to the Lord for his provisions for us. We are especially thankful for the addition to our family. I'll leave with one final picture of our entire family. Uncle John came up from next door and was sweet enough to take this picture. All twenty-nine of us!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Preparations at Our House

This is the week every year we pull out the Christmas decorations. I know some of you think it is too early but we usually go to our parent's for Thanksgiving and love coming home to our house ready for Christmas. As you can see, Mariah believes to have found a new best friend! 

It is fair to say that Mariah is plenty over-stimulated with everything. Jeremy always decorates the outside. So while he was decorating on Friday, Becca and I made our way to the eye doctor for her then on to the hospital. Friends of ours had a baby! 

We came home after a marathon shopping trip to Walmart. Feeding a family of seven is expensive! Especially when three of those five children have decided that they will eat non-stop! I believe the price of groceries goes up every time I shop. 

Mariah enjoys our shopping trips. To be a little more accurate, she loves helping put the groceries away. See what I mean? Evidently, she wanted some Root Beer. 
While she was napping, we decided it would be the perfect time to put up one of our trees. For some reason, Jeremy decorates outside and it is my job to assemble the two largest trees. I am in charge of stringing the lights. We have one pre-lit tree and the other two are not. I like pre-lit but what happens when those lights go bad? Once Mariah got up we introduced her to a Christmas tree. She immediately made her way over to the tree and what was the first thing she did......she grabbed a branch and just shook!
We could hardly get her to hold still for a picture!  Can you see the "spice" in her expression? Ironically, she is fascinated with the reflection of the Christmas lights in my glasses.

I cannot move on without sharing our Christmas house. For those of you that know my hubby, he gives everyone and everything a nickname. A few years ago he decided to take the responsibility of setting up my village pieces. I was happy concede! Under the Christmas tree in the living room is Christmas Town. Here is the west side of town.
Here is the east side of town.....
Notice the church? If you look closely you'll see the "pastor" standing outside. Jeremy puts him there every year. The difference is, this year we have a larger church. Jeremy was happy to announce the building project and new church!

Under the one end table is Tiny Town. Basically, it is a miniature village that tonight was wrecked due to category 5 hurricane. Hurricane Mariah came in unexpectedly. The town had to rebuild, most houses and businesses were rebuilt in entirely different locations.
Last but not least we have our Kurzweil Village. This village is set up on top of my piano. My piano is a Kurzweil, hence the village name.
Next picture....
Nothing is completely done but I think I will throw in the white flag. Mariah is LOVING all of this. We did decorate our living room tree this evening. 
This week held a lot of birthdays for our family. My sister had a birthday, my nephew had a birthday, and my sister-in-law had a birthday.  It seemed fitting to have a baby born this week too. Here is our sweet big girl more than happy to relieve the parents.
Mariah loves to watch the kids play outside. As usual they make their way over and play with her. This explains why the glass in the front door is atrocious!
Come on guys!!!! Where are you?
Since we put up the Christmas decorations, we had to move a few pieces of furniture. This also excited Mariah. Evidently, my piano is better to play on  the opposite side of the room. 
She loves playing with Kyle! She can now say his name too.
Next post I will try to show our Christmas trees completely done! Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day!

I first off want to start this post by thanking all the service men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military. I am humbled to think that I come from a family where all four of my grandparents served. My Pap Pap Bash served in the Air Force, my Grandma Bash served in the Army, my Grandma Smith served as WAC in the Army, and my Granddad Smith also served in the Army.

I wish I had a picture of each of them in their uniforms but unfortunately most of those are at my parent's house. I'll share what I do have. They lived through some of the most difficult times as WWII and the Great Depression took their toll on these families. Truly, the Greatest Generation!

For starters, my Pap Pap Bash......... 
My earliest memories of my Pap included him pinching my cheeks! I would give almost anything for him to do that again.....especially to my children. Pap Pap had a great love of music. He had a guitar and on many family get-togethers he picked it up and sang to us grandkids. My personal favorite was Uncle Noah's Ark. His claim to fame is that he once sang with Hank Williams Sr. Pap Pap was a fan of country music. I can tell you that Pap Pap loved kids! He loved having his entire family over for summer picnics and Christmas night. Everyone crowded into their humble 1 1/2 story home, eating and playing games. Pap Pap passed away when I found out I was pregnant with Rebecca, eleven years ago.

My Grandma Bash was raised as an only child in a Jewish home. This is her now. She is the short lady in the middle left of this picture. She is right in front of my very tall brother-in-law. So, you probably understand that our family is not one known for their tall stature!
Her parents came to America from Hungary. Grandma struggled with racism imposed by others which forced her to drop out of college. She is the most talented seamstress I know. This woman has more talent in her pinky than I have in my whole body. She made all of the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding, almost 17 years ago. Grandma now lives alone in an apartment. My dad visits with her at least once a week and makes sure her car is maintained.....yes she still drives! My Grandma has watched a daughter suffer through cancer that eventually claimed her life. Grandma and Pap had five children (see how that number is good in our family). Grandma has watched as her children had children and they had children. She is the mother of five, the grandmother to sixteen, and great-grandmother to twenty- eight!

My Granddad Smith was one of the kindest, quietest men I knew. He is on the right in this picture.
He and my Grandma married shortly after WWII and were only able to have one pregnancy, which resulted in twin girls! 
Granddad rarely spoke of the war. When he did, it was only the funny stories. We know little of his medals and details surrounding those stories. He earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and a few other medals. Granddad Smith was in the Army and fought several of the major battles.....Battle of the Bulge and he stormed the beaches of Normandy. He was overseas for 39 months without any contact with his family. Once while home on leave, he went AWOL. If he  did not stay home and help his father bring in the rest of the crop, they would lose it all. He chose to help his parents. The Army was happy to overlook his absence and he was later deployed to Africa and Europe. 

Grandma gave birth only eleven days after finding out they were expecting twins! The doctor suspected a very large baby or twins. An x-ray confirmed two babies. Mom and Aunt Joyce were born and like my dad, grew up in a humble home with lots of love.

One of my favorite pictures with him is this one.

This was taken on my 8th birthday. There had been a snow storm and we did not have electricity. When you live in the country and have well water and the power goes out, there is no water. So we went over to my grandparents to get showers and celebrate my birthday.

Mom married my dad and my Aunt Joyce married my dad's brother, John. Mom has five children and Aunt Joyce has four. We have many similarities within our families. Several birthdays are shared between us as well as extended relatives. My dad was drafted into the Army after being married only a few weeks. This was during the Vietnam War. He ended up at Fort Riley in Kansas where my two of my sister's were born. He received orders to go overseas but my grandmother wrote a letter explaining that Uncle John was already in Vietnam. My uncle offered to extend his tour and my dad was never deployed.
I would never want to forget Jeremy's grandfather who served in the Army. Pappy is pictured here on the far left. 
Pappy was truly like another grandfather to me. Unfortunately, this world lost a godly man only ten months ago. I have been dating/married to Jeremy since I was (gulp)....15. Just to be clear, our children will not date that young! So to give away my age, that is twenty-two years. I came to love this man and loved listening to his recollections of the war. I know that Jeremy was unbelievably close to this man. 
Jeremy looks and acts much like his grandfather. Both are quiet, humble, godly men.

Jeremy's dad served in the Air Force. (Again, I need to get their military photos!)
He was overseas in Thailand during the height of the Vietnam War. Jeremy's dad served this country overseas and never regretted going. His dad was stationed on a top secret base where Agent Orange was used to clear foliage. He also is very quiet on his experiences. We do know that he is quite fond of the Asian people and Mariah holds a special place in his heart.

Each of us have cousins currently serving and making a career out of the military. I cannot write this without mentioning my cousin Justin who is serving in his 18th year in the Air Force. Justin and his wife Heather visited us this summer here in our home. Justin is stationed in Cheyenne, WY.
Jeremy's cousin Stephanie also is serving. Stephanie is a Captain in the Army serving in the Reserves now in Grafton, WV. Stephanie has been deployed twice serving in the War on Terror. We have met up with Steph for dinner a few times when she is in Grafton for her weekend training. She helped me pick out a shelving organization unit for Mariah.
Thank you to everyone who has served or is currently serving in the military. Our freedoms are a result of the very difficult sacrifices that each of you have made. I have only mentioned a few that have served from our immediate families. Their service is truly that of selflessness. Thank you!!!