Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Greetings

Happy Christmas to you all!

We wish you a day full of merriment and joy... 

...and we hope you are all taking full advantage of the fact that Christmas calories don't count!

Cheers from the Lathams!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Cousins

Cousins in Christmas Jams...

Thanks, Grammie and Grandpa!

Merry Christmas!

House Tour: Living Room

Welcome to our living room!

It was a (giant) add on to the original house, and is connected to the entry/ dining area through this oversized doorway (which I love... And I love the little guy playing peek-a-boo in it a goodly bit, too!).

And the rest of the room...

Love my home made wonky boxwood wreath...

It compliments the wonky piano nicely... *wink*

It's such a lovely space to sit and play. We love it!
And a bonus: Here's what our house has been looking like outside these Christmassy evenings of late...


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

House Tour: Boys' Room

I'm finally getting around to posting pictures of our house.
I will have to do it one room at a time, as I seem to be incapable of keeping more than one room presentable at any given moment. *wink*
And since I'm starting now, you get the added bonus of seeing our home decked out for Christmas! Yippee!

We'll start with the boys' room...

We purchased the beds (which can be used either this way or as bunk beds) on craigslist when Asher outgrew his crib. We got them for a steal, and we're so thankful we have them! (And also thankful they can be used as twins, since the slanted ceilings coupled with a large ceiling fan would make bunks a little tricky!)

The boys hung all the ornaments on their tree by themselves! 
They were super proud. 
(And for some strange reason, they haven't been tempted this year to take any off!)

And the view from the other direction...

I have big plans for this room. I hope to actually get curtains hung at some point, and hang a few more pictures on the wall. I'm going with a vintage automobiles theme (sort of) and I think it'd be fun to get a few vintage-inspired prints. 

It's a fun, fun room! And just outside their door is the Play Room!
(Otherwise known as The Giant Mess. Haha! Might be awhile before I post on that one!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Five Ways to Bless the Grieving

Ice glazed berries in our yard.

These past few weeks have been a flurry of mixed emotions.

Complete and utter sadness in our dashed expectations.
Joy in the promises I keep reading in the Scriptures.

The coldness of an empty womb.
The warmth of friends' arms wrapped around me, whispering kind words and prayers in  my ear.

Finding little reminders of a failed pregnancy and our lost child everywhere.
And yet, kind letters, notes, phone calls, meals, and gifts flooding our home.

Sometimes you just don't know what to say to someone enduring a great loss or trial. Since we've lost our baby, I've had the blessed opportunity to witness the beautiful peace that has come pouring through the caring people God has placed around me. And I've been taking notes.

Five Ways to Bless the Grieving...

1. Say something. Anything. The simplest "thinking of you" or "I'm so sorry" will mean more to those enduring a loss than you can ever imagine. I had so many people comment on my facebook and my blog post, so many friends approach me at church, all offering their condolences, and I was so blessed by each and every word. A very sincere thank you to all of you.

2. Tangible gifts. I've been so greatly blessed by the people who have taken the time to give me something tangible these last few weeks.  I have lost something real, something near and dear to my heart. My baby is gone forever, and I cannot have it back. While letters and flowers are of course no replacement, they have given me a gentle reminder of the real baby that has left us, and I now have something I can touch, hold, smell. Something to remember our sweet child by. I have a photo box that I am planning to fill with the numerous cards I've received, and pictures of memories of this baby's short life. It is actually more of a blessing than I had formerly realized to have something tangible to hold on to in memory. This is especially true in the case of a miscarriage, because unlike losing my Grandma (where I could cry into one of her hankies while wearing one of her necklaces), I have very little with which to remember this very little person. And, not to mention, there is a joy that comes with seeing a handwritten letter waiting for you in your mailbox!

3. Phone Calls. I had several kind and unexpected phone calls the weeks after my miscarriage, and each and every one of them was a blessing. No matter how short, no matter what was said, it was a blessing to know that not only were people thinking of me, they cared enough about me to take the time to dial my number and check on me.

4. Anticipated Help. General offers to help are a blessing, but anticipating a need and jumping to fill it is what really does wonders in comforting a grieving person. I had several very kind offers to "help in any way I needed," but I couldn't ever think of a need. I could hardly think of anything, which is common when someone is grief-stricken. If you want to offer help to someone enduring a loss, think ahead and anticipate the need. Since I miscarried on Thanksgiving Day, and I was hosting our family dinner, I got to watch my in-laws step up to the task of pulling off a meal while I laid on the couch (or cried in the bathroom). They just hopped into the kitchen and took over for me. They brought me water and snacks. They washed every dish and wiped every counter. Blessing. My sister-in-law made a meal for me later that week, and it gave me time to rest instead of cook. Blessing. A friend offered to drive an hour to come visit me and keep me company while Riley had a busy week at work. Blessing. Another friend told me to drop the kids off anytime I needed a moment to breathe. Blessing. A dear friend had the thoughtfulness to send a gift card to Starbucks, anticipating the need for a pick-me-up. Blessing. (And don't even get me started on the blessing my wonderful husband has been to me this month!) If you want to bless someone going through a hardship, invite yourself to their house and start cleaning or doing laundry. Or make them a meal (or two!) because food not only feeds the body, but also nourishes the soul. Anticipate the need, and fill it.

5. Prayer. Tell them you're praying for them, and then remember to do it. I have been given the incredible opportunity to experience the power of the prayers of the saints in a very real and physical way. I could feel their prayers that first week of my miscarriage. I felt them carry my burden, share my grief, and cry out to my God on my behalf. What an unbelievable experience! I miscarried just days after we had announced our pregnancy on the internet, which I thought would make announcing our miscarriage all the harder. But instead, I was reassured countless times of prayers being offered up for me across the country... and across the world! Here I was, in physical and emotional pain, and yet laughing. Joy and peace washed over me during those difficult days, and it was a direct result of faithful prayer. One friend told me that she was even waking up at night and praying for me. As I lay in bed each night, soaking my pillow with my tears, I had the blessing of knowing my pain was being shared, possibly even at that moment. How powerful!

If you aren't a Christian, and you don't pray, I'd suggest that now is as good a time as any to start. It's during these times of grief that we are reminded of the brevity of life. We are presented with the pressing questions of "Why am I here, and what am I doing?" The answer is this: You are here because God created you. He is writing a story, and you've been given the enormous blessing of playing a part in it. And the point of the story is not that you get everything you want, live a happy life, try to be a "good person" (what is that, anyway?), and pretend that death is not waiting for you at the other end of your journey. The point is that this is a good story, full of conflict and turmoil, bad guys and good guys, chapters where you just don't see how this can possibly resolve, and pages you want to read over and over again because they're filled with such joy. The plot is the glory of God and the redemption of mankind. And like all the very best stories, good will prevail. God will prevail. And His people will be raised into glory with Him. Prayer is not only an obligation; the ability to converse with our Author is one of our greatest blessings. And it is powerful.

I've continued in the same peace that passes understanding that I shared in my last post, and I am so thankful for the gift of faith. I am pressing on in hope as I come to grips with the fact that our kind and good God has chosen to include this chapter in my story, and I am choosing to embrace the joy that comes with the celebration of the birth of our perfect Savior. I have been so blessed through this trial, I can already begin to see a glimmer of what God is doing through this hard time. And I am looking forward to seeing what will happen on the next page.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Thankful Still

I should be nine weeks pregnant today, but instead I am grieving the loss of my third child, who entered into glory on Thanksgiving day.

I thought I knew what I was going to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but the Lord surprised me. While I thought I'd be thankful for the growing baby in my womb, I found myself overwhelmed with thankfulness for the promises God gives to the children of the faithful. 

I thought I would be thankful for the chance to add another fat face around my table, but instead I wound up thankful for the sweet family seated around our feast on Thanksgiving, who provided both encouraging words and helping hands as my baby left this world and entered into the presence of Jesus.  

I am thankful that we were blessed with the opportunity to create an eternal soul, to add one more voice to the choir of saints praising our Creator God in the heavenlies.  

I am thankful for the sweet words and prayers from kind friends and family that have carried us through this longest of weekends.

I am thankful for the chance to teach my sad children what Christian grief looks like... sorrow mingled perfectly with joy. 

And I am thankful for that good and perfect peace that passes understanding.

"They are not lost to you, that are found in Christ. 
They are not sent away, but only sent before."
-Samuel Rutherford

Our hearts are heavy, but we can see that we still have much to be thankful for, and we can press on in hope, knowing that our baby is in the arms of a perfect God who does all things for our good and His glory.

"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
Job 1:21

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We have much to be thankful for this year.

For example, a house filled with the smells of a coming feast, 
and hors d'oeuvres for munching while we wait,

Our beautiful table...

...filled with family, food, and laughter!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A little something extra...

We have a little something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving... 

We are so excited!!

Little Bitty #3 is only about the size of my thumb print, but he or she is filling up our house with the giddiest sort of joy.

I am due the first week of July, and feeling pretty well for being in my first trimester.
We have much to be thankful for!

Big Brothers


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Welcome Home

Welcome home flowers from the hubs...

We had to endure one more week of Daddy working in Danville when we arrived home in Farmville on Sunday (the 10th) evening. But, Riley was thoughtful enough to do a little something to make the week without him a bit more bearable.
We walked into a happy little surprise waiting for us on the table... toy tanks for the boys, and some fresh, seasonal blooms to cheer up the house for me. (And some dark chocolate. He knows me well.)

All but the orange mums have since faded and been removed from the vase, but we now have our man of the house around again, and it's a very happy trade.

Love that guy!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Washington Wrap Up

In an effort to wrap up the Washington Trip Chronicles, here are some pictures that do a decent job at summarizing the rest of our wonderful visit to my beautiful Northwest:

Our visit with Aunt Danielley was super fun, despite being super short! Here we are, playing at the park with just a few of the Maple Valley kiddos I love...

Then we migrated over to Spokane...

Pappy is One Tough Mudder!
My dad just completed his first Tough Mudder, and when he saw these sweatsuits in the store that resembled his Tough Mudder shirt, he couldn't resist. He's already signed up for another TM. I'm not sure if he's crazy or just really, really cool... :)

It's a Gray-in-the-box!

We enjoyed lots of fun visitors...

"G.G." came bearing gifts!

Nana Cheri and Aunt Kathy came for a girls' afternoon tea! Anna and I had just used nap-time to rearrange the furniture into this super-cozy arrangement. I love it!

Sweet Anna was extra busy between work and school, but she spent as much time with us as she could! She was pretty much a rock star when she'd walk in the door; the boys would come running to her shouting, "Auntie Auntie! Auntie Auntie!" in excited squeals.

And there was of course plenty of goofing around with Pappy...

A Pappy Ride!

This is what happens when you try to do physical therapy stretches with grandsons around...

The whole Spokane Gang!

Other highlights were:

1. Sleeping in several mornings (the boys would sneak out and find Pappy without waking me!)
2. Being greeted every morning with a fresh cappuccino made just for me by Dad. (Spoiled. I know.)
3. The boys had a camp-out in a tent downstairs with Pappy!
4. Bedtime stories Pappy-style every night.
5. Other visits: Time with my Papa and Nancy, coffee with a dear roommate from NSA, and an early Thanksgiving dinner with my Aunt Denise and Cousin Nathan & Marie.
6. Fire pit & marshmallow roasting.
7. Breathing the brisk, Northwestern Autumn air... Ahhh.
8. Asher reading 101 Dalmations with Gramma... every day... at least twice. (She was a trooper!)
9. The boys running laps around my parents' house... around, and around, and around, and around...
10. Watching my parents grow younger by the minute. They sure love their grandkids!

We were so thankful to have the chance to spend some time with family way out in Washington!
It was a blast!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some Spokane Snow...

During our visit we had the pleasure of enjoying some unexpected wintery weather... it turned beautiful in a hurry! 

So we dashed outside to enjoy it while it lasted. (Well, first the boys ran around the house shouting, "Mom! It's snowing! It's Christmas! It's snowing!")

It was perfect packing snow, so what started as a little, "hmm, I wonder how easily this will roll up into a ball" turned into a big, giant, snowman. 

We named him Frosty.
I don't think Asher understands that not all snowmen need to be named Frosty.

Then we warmed up with some tasty hot cocoa!

Sipping in view of their new friend outside...

Fun, fun!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hooray Halloween!

Halloween was a fun-filled day this year!

We started the day off with a trip to Greenbluff, a lovely collection of small farms in the Spokane vicinity that conveniently grouped their fields together in a way that makes popping from one farm to the next as easy as pie! We kept our eyes out for a pumpkin patch, and happily found one. (Most of them were sold out!)

It was beautiful weather for pumpkin picking!

We had a hard time deciding on costumes for Halloween this year, since my boys are in to everything. They switch interests at least four time a day, so we couldn't really land on one idea. Also, I had the trick of needing to be able to fit whatever it was going to be into a suitcase! But, I had noticed a recurring request for stories about brave knights before bed each evening, so when I asked if Asher wanted to dress up as a knight for Halloween, he thought that was a pretty good idea. And Gray, sweet Gray, wants to do whatever his big brother is doing.

So we dressed the boys up in their brave knight costumes...

And went to the Halloween festival my parents' church puts on every year.

It's aptly named.
The boys loved it. Both of them chose the fishing game as their favorite!

Then we popped over to Papa and Nancy's house to trick-or-treat!

Auntie Annie dressed up, too. She's so cool like that. ;)

Don't you love Dad's hair? Awesome. :)

What a sugar-induced-hyper-giddy-night!