Sunday, December 24, 2017

Gold, Frankincense, and Her

As you probably realized, we did not send a Christmas card last year. There were many reasons—busy work schedules, two crazy and rambunctious boys, family commitments, etc. But most of all we think it was just burn out from years of coming up with awesome ideas for Christmas cards. However, after piles of fan mail and requests, we have decided to come out of retirement and send a Christmas card again this year. We’re sure you’re all dying to know what we’ve been up to, so here goes...


We’re still living in the college house on “The Hill” that we rent from my (Lauren’s) parents. (Yes, we have Sub-T boys across the street and next door—pray for us.) We actually feel really festive living here this time of year since it was built roughly around the time Jesus was born. And evidently Jesus was born around 1956, because the guest bathroom had that beautiful, multi-geometric, pink-and-Black tiled look. Notice the past tense in the sentence above—we say “had” because a few months ago it was renovated and transformed into a lovely, pristine, white bathroom (at least until the boys use it a few more times). That bathroom is probably the nicest room in the house now, so that is where we have chosen to have Christmas dinner. Cheers!


Last year we bought some land in Tuscola, Texas, that we plan to build on...someday. Right now it’s just a 40-acre barren tract of grass and mesquites and cedars, but we love going out there to care for the pine trees we planted, dream about the house that will one day stand on that dirt, and admire those Texas sunsets. Lauren keeps making plans and drawing blueprints, Jeffrey keeps the place mowed and tidy, and the boys keep wondering where we are going to put the giraffe (because evidently if you own 40 acres in West Texas, you NEED to put a giraffe on it). If you have any suggestions on what to name the place, drop us a line. Also, if you have suggestions on how to keep Jeffrey from passing out when he discovers how much new furniture for the house is going to cost, please let Lauren know.


In case life with two little boys and a dog wasn’t already frighteningly close to being raised in the muck and chaos of a barn, we decided to get a puppy. Our new dog, Ranger, is a German Shorthaired Pointer and Blue Lacy mix. After some early miscues and lots of training, he is now in 2nd place as the most well-behaved child in the home. (We won’t say who’s holding down last place in that contest...but you can probably guess.) Having a baby puppy was a nice refresher for us though...(hint, hint: see below)


Not to brag or anything, but our boys are really getting smart! Carter and Harrison turned 5 and 3 yeas old, respectively, this year. Both are now attending full time pre-school classes and loving every minute. Carter is enameled with his teacher, friendly with his classmates, and truly enjoys learning each day at Abilene Christian School—GO PANTHERS! (We can’t say that without thinking of Coach Taylor and Buddy Garrity.) Harrison is the littlest “Big Man on Campus” at Long Elementary. He loves his school because he knows every student and teacher, and EVERYONE knows him. Walking him to his classroom sometimes feels like standing next to a tiny celebrity. He also loves his school because he gets to eat breakfast there every day, even though he eats breakfast at home before he leaves for school, too. #puttingtheBIGinbigmanoncampus


This Halloween the boys went as Darth Vader (Carter) and Luke Skywalker (Harrison) for Trick-or-Treat. Lauren, being 36 weeks pregnant at the time, wore a black shirt and was a very slowly expanding black hole (or whatever space reference works there to describe a tired and grouchy pregnant lady). She tried to convince Jeffrey to wear a shirt that said “I am your father” and stand behind the boys all night, but he said he doesn’t dress up. Here’s a fond memory from that night: Do you remember those old commercials where the pitcher of Kool-Aid bursts through the wall and says Oh, yeah!”? Well, Harrison basically did that at some random lady’s house when he reached directly into her bin of candy and came out double-fisting Skittles and Snickers. As Kevin McAllister would say, “Yikes!!”


We worked hard this year at our respective jobs and tried to save as much money as possible, which we then promptly shipped off to the U.S. Department of Education in large quantities until lo and behold...(drumroll)...we paid off Jeffrey’s loans from medical school in their entirety! We were elated to have that yoke off our backs and almost threw a party...but then remembered that we didn’t have the money for it. Thanks a lot, Obama (or Trump). 😉


Siri, what is Frankincense? [weird robot voice] “Frankincense is the aromatic dried sap of an ancient tree used for its healing powers.” In case you didn’t know, it’s also kinda sticky and stinky...and so were a few things about this year. Carter’s feet are stinky because he’s a full-fledged boy. Harrison’s diapers are stinky because he’s a 3-year-old with man-sized BMs (we cannot manage to get that kid completely potty trained). Lauren’s car was repeatedly stinky—3 flat tires in a span of 12 weeks and 2 broken front windshields. Jeffrey is on-call one day a week and one weekend a month—super stinky. But all the not-so-good things about 2017 faded away as the calendar turned to November.


Near the beginning of this year we found out that we were (unexpectedly) expecting a baby. Early blood testing told us it was a healthy baby girl. Then a few long months later, Holland Elizabeth was born on November 9. We are asked often about her name, as it’s a bit uncommon. Before she was born we painstakingly pores through baby name books looking for the perfectly one, but couldn’t quite land on one we both liked. We wanted something pretty and unique, and a name that would honor both sides of our family. Her middle name was decided first: Elizabeth, after her paternal great-grandmother, Beth, who is named for several Elizabeths before her. Then, rather than reuse a name from Lauren’s side of the family, we decided to borrow the name of a place. Holland is the town in which my (Lauren’s) grandfather’s farm resides, and it will always be a very special place to us. Just like the people and places she’s named after, she brings us such happiness. She is a sweet girl with dark blue eyes and her smile lights up the room. We didn’t know it, but we needed her in our lives, and we are blessed to have her.

We are overwhelmed with joy at the gifts we have been entrusted with and the love we have shared this year. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

-Jeffrey, Lauren, Carter, Harrison, and Holland Edwards (and Dixie and Ranger, too)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

One Month

It's been a long while since I dusted off this old blog to write anything worth reading, but the birth of my daughter compels me to start again.  She's been with us for a month now and I just love her to pieces.  Of course, the fact that she's been here for an entire month and I haven't even managed to write down the story of the day she was born is simply embarrassing (and perhaps a foreseeable complication of being the third-born child), but baby girl, don't ever mistake my tardiness for a lack of dedication to you.

Holland Elizabeth, you light up my life.  You are named after a tiny town in Texas where my grandfather lives among the tall pecan and oak trees.  It's a beautiful patch of land where we lived once upon a time when our house in Temple sold too early.  Grampy is a great man who loves God and Country, but especially that little farm in Holland, Texas.  Saying your name reminds me of all of those beautiful things--my family, those trees, that great man.  Your middle name is from your daddy's side of the family, going back many generations, but the Elizabeth I know the best is "Beth," your paternal great grandmother.  She and your daddy have always been close--I call them soul mates.  And perhaps it's no surprise that she loves him so much because he's her first grandchild, but to her credit, when I came into the family she immediately loved me purely, earnestly, and as her own.  I know she does the same for you, and will continue to, no matter what. 

After an entire month, in some ways it still feels like you're brand new, and in another way it feels old--like we always knew you were meant to be here.  You fit right in with this family and certainly make it a lot prettier!  So happy 9th to you, sweetheart.  A single flower for your picture today, a magnolia.  We'll add another one each month to make a bouquet of your first year.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

We Carry Each Other

A tiny child grows in a mother’s womb.  She carries him within her, keeping him warm and protected wrapped in her skin, within arm’s reach of her heart.  She runs her hands over the swelling curve and dreams of the life he will have, the life she will help make for him.  Her body grows slow and unwieldy as it expands to accommodate the sweet child.  She considers him in every breath she takes, every food she eats, and every drink she drinks.  She holds him in her mind until she can hold him in her arms.   
This is life—we carry each other.
A big, brawny toddler wakes in the middle of the night.  His forehead is warm against the cool of his mother’s hand.  She lifts him out of his crib and carries his weight, heavy and sleeping, down the long hallway to her bed.  His legs hang down below her waist—in the daylight he will refuse to be carried, enjoying instead his newfound independence, but in the dark of the night he is her baby once again.  Tonight he will sleep with his head against her chest, and she will wake often to evaluate the ebb and flow of his fever.    
This is life—we carry each other.
A bride, still in white, is whisked away from the wedding by her groom.  He carries her across the threshold and into their future together.  His arms feel strong around her, and although hers are not as firm, they circle around his neck in a reassuring embrace.  They look into each other’s eyes and silently repeat the promises made:  I will…I promise…I do.  They do not know what challenges they will face, but they have promised to face them together. 
This is life—we carry each other.
A group of six friends gather around a coffin, and each one takes hold.  They carry their friend to his resting place.  The coffin is terribly heavy, but the grief is heavier; it settles over the heart like a thick, grey fog.  Intermittently the fog lifts as the funeral party retells familiar stories of the departed, laughing together over their favorites.  The women carry tissues in one hand, ever-ready to wipe the tears that flow at increments like clockwork when the bell tolls and one suddenly remembers: he’s really gone 
This is life—we carry each other.
A widow carries on with her life, with motions slowed like someone moving through water.  Her daughters visit, her friends bring her food, and her village carries her to the Lord in prayer.  They carefully watch her countenance and try to protect her heart as she wanders on a long walk with sadness.  They all carry the memories of the departed, but she will always carry the most.
This is life—we carry each other.
Carry each other. 
“Carry each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galations 6:2

Monday, January 9, 2017

Children's Book Recommendations

I love getting books from the library to read to my kids.  I go about once a week to turn some in or pick up a handful more.  In case anybody else out there is looking for a great children’s book to check out or even buy for a baby shower, I’ll publish my list of top notch literature for kiddos under 5 here. 

In no particular order, my favorite children’s books we read in 2016:

Bill in a China Shop—Katie McAllaster Weaver

A rhyming book (I’m partial to those) about a bull who loves fancy china plates and cups, but faces the wrath of a snooty china shop owner and battles the impossibility of an animal his size trying to navigate the delicate world of fine tableware. 

EIEIO: How Old McDonald got his Farm—Judy Sierra

A modern spin on an old tale.  In this version McDonald is a novice urban farmer who’s looking for a way to use his backyard for something besides mowing grass…because he can’t stand mowing grass. 

Ugly Fish—Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon

Ugly fish doesn’t want to share his tank or his food or his toys, but he’s about to learn that being ugly won’t get you far in life…  WARNING!! (and spoiler alert) Ugly fish eats other fish and is ultimately eaten himself—this book could be upsetting to more sensitive children.  My kids…well…they laughed.  So there’s that.

The Gruffalo—Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo…or is there? A tiny mouse with a big imagination and an uncanny ability to think on his feet is the hero of this story. 

Waiting—Kevin Henkes

Waiting is a quiet story, with soft pastel illustrations, but don’t mistake its softness for a lack of substance.  It uses sweet toys sitting on a shelf to softly explore concepts like seasons of the year, loss, introduction of new things, and patience.  A beautiful book.

Stick and Stone—Beth Ferry and Tim Lightenfeld

Stick and Stone are very different, but together their friendship can weather any storm.  A great book on the power of working together and using one’s strengths for good.

Blue Chicken—Deborah Freedman

The mischievous little chicken doesn’t start out blue, but after an accident with some unattended paint, lots of things turn blue around the farm.  Gorgeous watercolor illustrations help to tell this story—an ideal book for a little person who’s working on learning his/her colors!

The Nice Book—David Ezra Stein

Very few words in this book, probably most suited for children under three years old.  The nice book offers easy-to-understand illustrations of sharing and caring.

The Tree House that Jack Built—Bonnie Verburg and Mark Teague

Jack is imaginative, creative, constructive, and a lover of animals.  His treehouse is a masterpiece.  The story feels both adventurous and safe.  This book ends with a ‘goodnight’ and would be a great book before bed—it would inspire wonderful dreams.
Now go read!!