It’s been a whirlwind week.  We were blessed to have some of our family – from both sides – visit us last week.  This is the first time in our entire marriage we’ve gone soooo long without traveling to see family.  We’re at an all time record of not traveling for the past 9 months.  Our record before that was 4 months.  It’s not really even the chickens that are holding us back either.  Just the circumstances of this past school year.  I’ll tell you what – I’m ITCHING for another trip though.  It took me about 6 months to get over our 63 hours of actual driving time last summer.  (I drove with the kids – unfortunately without Les – from our house to Oklahoma then Arizona then to Tennessee and then back home.)  I’m ready to go again!  But for now, the longest record of no travel continues.  Maybe it just means my dream trip of traveling for a year with the kids and Les is around the corner – not likely….but a girl can dream.

This past week has reinforced the importance Les and myself place on family.  Everyone will have the occasional disagreement of not seeing eye to eye with a family member but when it comes down to the important matters in life, all of that disappears and you’re there to lend them a helping hand and a listening ear.  Les and I have made decisions that were not “financially smart” in order to place family as a priority.  These are choices we have made and would make again in a heart beat.  Our families have supported us emotionally, financially, and literally put their backs out for us during the rough spots in our lives or the times we needed a helping hand.  They have dropped everything in their lives to fly here and babysit when I couldn’t find a babysitter to attend meetings where children were not allowed.  (Foster care)  We have reciprocated this for them as well.  When Les was faced with losing his job a couple of years ago, I told him over and over again that we’d make it through.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our family would take us in while we got re-established.  We’ll never be homeless and our children will never go to bed hungry.  That’s a blessing of immeasurable proportions.

Last week, many of us sat around my kitchen table until the wee hours of the morning.  Sometimes talking.  Sometimes simply staring at the walls – left speechless and dumbfounded.  It’s in those moments of immense sorrow that you realize you don’t have to go through it alone even when words are no where to be found.  Sometimes that’s exactly what helps us make it through those times – simply not being alone.

This past weekend was my birthday.  I think it was one of my best birthdays.  I’ve received some amazing home-made gifts over the past few weeks.  This weekend was no different.  They really touched me.

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My sister-in-law and mother-in-law made me eight of these adorable diaper babies on my birthday. They were so cute and thoughtful!

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My mother-in-law drove me to tears as I opened her card and gift!  I pushed back the tears the best I could simply because it seemed such a private moment for me – such an extreme emotional moment – that I suddenly felt very uncomfortable showing my emotions in front of a room full of people.  (I told you – I’m a private person despite the illusion of my candidness on my blog.)

I have not seen our two youngest foster sons in a long while.  The pain of their absence is still very real and very painful.  She got to see them days before coming to see us and she gave me photos of them.

The threads of our lives are ever present despite time that passes.  They mold us – sometimes leaving scars and strengthening us in unison.

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I received two cloth bags from Niki for groceries.  I’ve wanted more bags for awhile now and LOVE these especially because Niki made them!!!

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My boys each made me a card.  These will always be cherished because each of them have only told me maybe a handful of times that they love me.  Justin even wrote two new words in his card!  That’s a huge deal to me and the best gift he could have possibly given to me.

My dear husband wrote me a heartfelt letter as well.

I also received two phone calls from family members who rarely call me just to wish me a happy birthday.  (I fully admit I’m HORRIBLE about calling anyone other than Les.  It’s one of my weaknesses.) One of them apologized because it was all he could offer me on my birthday.  His call was a dear gift in itself.  The other one talked a mile a minute and I just sat and listened with a smile on my face.  I rarely get to talk to him and it touched me that he called.

I will cherish all of my gifts.  Always.