That title doesn’t make any sense, given the distance that separates our grandtribe. My cyber fix is to post pictures of all the darlings in this one place. Also, I love posting the Halloween costumes. So here goes:
In a sense, these two players are in costume, though uniform fits the actuality. Coach Bailey Anderson seems quite happy with the team’s 8-0 standing so far.
And here’s his lovely wife, Sarah.
Marissa could have helped me out here by eating an apple instead so I could reference it to say she works at the Apple Store when not in class at Grand Canyon University.
Cassidy sits across from her mama in a Costa Rica cafe, debriefing their two weeks of Spanish immersion classes.
Oscar is ten now, in the 5th grade. Besides being a champion watermelon eater, he is quite a sketch artist, following his dad’s lead.
Sage (age 8, grade 3) and Brynn (age 6, grade 1) lead a full life of school, hiking, camping, taking care of chickens, playing together, soccer, assembling Lego creations, and on it goes.
Will (age 7, grade 2) and Lincoln (age 4 -very soon, grade preschool) — These guys also live a full life of school, camping (their parents just bought a really cool new camper/trailer), biking, soccer, piano lessons, playing games, and on it goes.
Declan (age 4, preschool) spends most of his time keeping tabs on his rambunctious sisters, helps his dad make pizzas, travels hither and yon with his parents, body builds at CrossFit with his mom, school, and on it goes.
Avery (age 2) is the family daredevil with some kind of death wish. Beth takes her to gymnastics classes to give her some skills in her field of interest. Meanwhile, the ER remains on alert.
Emery (age 2) picks up new words easily and entertains us (on videos) by lip syncing every song. She does gymnastics with her sister, and all three Carlson kids enjoy working out at CrossFit with their mama.
A year and some months ago I traveled to Puerto Rico to help with the Carlson kiddos while their daddy worked.
It was a blast and a total departure from anything considered normal for me. Not that my normal life isn’t also a blast.
The whole family is in Puerto Rico again, enjoying the tropics while Daddy works—with the help of their other grandma (Mimi) this time. A text came in today from Beth: “We wanted you to know you are here in spirit. We got these match-ups for you. ❤️”
I recently recalled a conversation with Quinn from long, long ago when she told me she’d been at the mall with her high-school friend. They had just passed a group of girls when she leaned in to tell Quinn: “I think one of them was my cousin.” Turns out Quinn’s dear friend has so many cousins she hadn’t yet met all of them!
Growing up with cousins was/is a life blessing for me. I had eight first cousins altogether and am grateful my parents were intentional about visiting their siblings regularly enough for me to know them well. The same was true for Paul, who benefitted even more because he was an only child. Close friendships with his cousins filled that void for him.
My “PWC family of origin” folder holds lots of evidence of this.
You’re catching on to why I titled this post the “blended-family advantage.” Add together my original cousins, Paul’s cousins, Mauri’s cousins, and Margaret-Roses’s cousins and I might have as many (or more) cousins as Quinn’s high-school friend! Blessed!
In June (you might recall) Mauri and I enjoyed time with Macy cousins in Central Oregon and this weekend we got to join a small gathering of M-R’s Williams cousins at our favorite spot on the Oregon Coast—Harbor Villa.
Mauri had a “leading” commitment Saturday morning and another one this morning, so, given the two-hour travel time each way, we had only a few short hours to catch up.
Ah—I spy a non-cousin, to us, at least. Brother Daryl, a.k.a. DK!
Flashback! The cousins sitting around these tables resurrected the scene of our Nill family reunion in 1998, so I’m helplessly “required” to share these matchups.
OK, back to real time. After-dinner conversation led cousin Kathy to pull out some nostalgic pictures of her own, a magic word for me.
There was this one! The “extra” little is Laura Jane, DK and Julene’s daughter.
The cutie on the left is cousin Becky and Dwaine’s Marcia. And then . . .
. . . this showed up! I can’t be sure, but I think I grinned all the way home.
Now that I’m in my second year of retirement I should probably stop writing about how much I am enjoying it. I wouldn’t want to give the impression I didn’t enjoy working—because I did! I told a friend I don’t sit around doing nothing now that I’m retired, but the difference is that I can if I want (sit around and do nothing). I won’t lie—sometimes I want/do (sit around and do nothing)!
This morning I pulled into the parking lot for Bible Study Fellowship and into this spot. I’m sure these signs were there the previous Wednesday mornings, but I no doubt dismissed them as not applicable for me because, well, do I actually qualify as a senior? Yes, a social security check is deposited into my account every month, and I take advantage of the senior discount at the local grocery store on Tuesdays. I see an increasingly disproportionate number of gray hairs on my head, yet the brain underneath them doesn’t seem to register that I am old enough for this spot.
So I think I’ve concluded that while our bodies unrelentingly age, our minds resist. I’m starting to believe this resistance is a good thing! The rational strategy in the war against Father Time is to give our youthful minds a reasonably fit body in which to thrive. This is much easier to say than to do! So many factors outside our control need to align. Not many years ago I could barely walk because arthritis did a number on my spine. Skillful hands and $35,000 worth of hardware restored my ability to walk upright and offered me a “new lease on life.”
All to say—I’m committed to make the most of my retirement years because God’s grace and mercy have allowed me this privilege.
One blessing is what I call is “walk and talk” dates with women friends. As I set up these dates, I openly admit I’ve developed a reputation for being “long winded.” I put that term in quotes because those were the actual words one friend used to reference me in conversation. Trust me, I took no offense, because, after all, it is true! I never thought of myself as a talker—until I started, first with “sit and sip” dates and then as the weather improved as “walk and talk” dates. Apparently, I have a lot to say, but I also listen. Otherwise, I don’t learn anything!
My friends and I talk about our families, our church(es), theology, the culture we live in, our commonalities and sometimes our differences, our plans, what we’ve read . . . yet these dates that fill much of my time aren’t usually conducive to photos. It’s sacred space, with conversations that never cross the lines of privacy.
But then my friend Clara invited me to her neighborhood for our walk and talk and allowed me to take some pictures of our time together. Our stories match in many (many!) ways, but just take a look at her back deck and know that we have one big difference! (I usually settle for artificial plants.)
This is the top of her long driveway, down which we are headed!
Well, hello there!
You might detect a slope in the topography.
Still heading down, some forestry on the right.
Preparing the field for winter.
A vineyard and the remaining downhill to the main road. I was grateful for the overcast sky as I peeled off a layer of clothing.
I admit I didn’t have a lot to say as I huffed and puffed my way back UP to the house; I couldn’t claim it was the beautiful surroundings that took my breath away.
The next morning I spent a few minutes wondering about the new pain in my glutes before connecting it with my climb up Herring Hill. At least I didn’t have to blame it on old age!
So the second part of this post is about my “walk and listen” dates with my new podcast friend Allie Beth Stuckey. I honestly don’t remember by whose influence I added her podcast to my “Overcast” app, probably Twitter, but there she was on a day I needed something other than my friends who taught me everything I needed to know about Anglican theology at “Word & Table.”
Now that I’m captivated by Allie and her “Relatable” podcast, I never need motivation to don my walking shoes and walk the track or sidewalks in my neighborhood for up to an hour on those days I don’t have a walk and talk date scheduled. No kidding—I’ve become evangelical about sharing my enthusiasm for Allie. She’s a millennial (hope for the future); she’s conservative (so am I); she’s a Christian absolutely committed to basing all of her opinions (and, trust me, she’s opinionated) on scripture, which she knows very well!
I listened to quite a few podcasts on my phone before checking her out on YouTube, where I learned how late I am to the party—she already had 57,000 subscribers!
Today was a “walk and listen” day, so off I went with my phone and ear buds (preferred over blue tooth) and a headband to keep them in my ears, stopping off down here at the river to take a picture for you. I was listening to “Episode 9: Who Even Am I?” because I’m working my way up through 170 episodes starting at the beginning. I started out by choosing episodes by the titles that interest me, and you might do the same (presuming I’ve caused enough intrigue to at least get you to click on a link or two). Here, let me help you!
HERE’S THE ONE that got me started, and since I heard it while Quinn and I were traveling together she couldn’t very easily deny her mama the wish to watch/listen again in our hotel room.
I’m sad to say I can’t find Episode 9 (the one I listened to today) on YouTube. Allie shares her story, which builds understanding and trust in her ability to speak truth. All I can say is PLEASE GIVE HER A LISTEN! She talks fast and sometimes says “freakin'” and other millennial words you might find distracting (unless you’re a millennial yourself) but oh she certainly speaks my 74-year-old mind! Then after you’ve listened a while, we can schedule a walk and talk and compare points of view.
It’s been 12 years since Quinn and her family traveled from Colorado to Juarez, Mexico, with a team from their church to build a house for a deserving family. While they were there she learned that one in four babies born there never reached their first birthday due to malnutrition and/or infection from severe diaper rash. Parents didn’t name their babies until they believed the danger had passed.
As a mother of three, Quinn’s heart broke over this unimaginable statistic. A clear calling to act on that great need led her to start Babies of Juarez. Read the short story in her own words HERE. Narrowing the solution to diapers and formula, she began sharing the need any way she could think of.
Imagine Quinn’s excitement at Babies of Juarez’s very first donation. And twelve years later . . .
. . . accepting donations is no less exciting! My visit last week had fortuitous timing; I got to help Quinn, Neil, and Randee move the huge collection from the Andersons’ church — Redemption Gateway — the prior weekend. The wall behind me (as I took this picture) was stacked with formula.
Donations like these, and the financial gifts that allow Quinn and her crew to purchase diapers and formula, over these years have fed and diapered babies who might not have survived otherwise. Oh, how God loves those babies! He moved in the hearts of many, many donors to reduce the mortality rate in the colonias outside Juarez to nearly zero.
This is the new header for the Babies of Juarez website, newly updated! You might have clicked on the link above (I hope so) and already saw it. Quinn is so shy about taking any credit for her efforts that it took Dusty’s convincing help for her to allow her photo to be part of it.
Still! My favorite part of the website update is the PHOTOS page! Pictures guide you through the process that puts your donations into the hands of the Mexican mamas. It’s a sight to behold!
Once you’ve witnessed the beauty of the process, you’ll no doubt find the annual Dorthy’s Match and Legacy Match offer irresistible!
Dear friend of Babies of Juarez,
A big part of our family’s annual Thanksgiving build in Juarez is seeing first hand what our doubled dollars offer the mothers who struggle to raise healthy babies. Mauri and I are making plans for our tenth trip and would love to cross the border with another trailer filled with diapers and formula.
Dorothy’s Match began six years ago with an account left behind by family friend Dorothy Barratt; Legacy Match, now in its fourth year, was started by Dave and Sue Martinson in memory of Paul Carlson (Quinn’s dad). Because of these associations, your ongoing participation holds meaning higher than financial. May I encourage you to take advantage of one of these matching-gift options? Your gift is doubled dollar for dollar and 100 cents of every dollar is spent on diapers and formula. Donations are tax deductible through Blessing for Life (Babies of Juarez’s own non-profit).
If you want to double your dollars*, either… …write a check to “Babies of Juarez” (Dorothy’s Match or Legacy Match in the memo line), then email email@example.com for my mailing address; …or visit babiesofjuarez.org/get-involved/ and click on “visit PayPal site.” Remember to designate your gift with one of the match names: Dorothy’s Match or Legacy Match.
This is one of my favorite pictures. When these grateful moms learned Quinn would be in Mexico, they made a plan to thank her as a group. Of course she would never OK my using it on the Babies of Juarez website because it feels too much like taking credit for what you do. But I promise you she told them (through a translator) how much God loves them and their babies and shows it through the gifts of many people in America who love them too!
Please consider adding your support to this good work for these dear families just across our border. Life there is so different from ours, but the parents love their children in the same way we love ours. And isn’t it extra fun that we can do it together?
A week ago I drove the two hours to Eugene in a downpour to catch a flight to Phoenix Gateway Airport, which is a ten-minute drive to Quinn and Dusty’s home. They accept and honor my preference to not be entertained but to simply join in with whatever is happening at the time. In other words—just be part of the family.
This week “part of the family” included being chauffeured to Target by the newest licensed Anderson driver. I can thank a canceled basketball practice for this shopping outing with her. My observations indicate 16-year-olds have very busy lives that include student council assignments (especially during spirit/homecoming week), classes, coffee/study dates, games and practices, National Honor Society assignments, church youth group. My observations also indicate it’s a good thing she can chauffeur herself now!
We were on a mission that I’ll write about soon, but I’m including this photo because of our location—Redemption Church Gateway’s brand new campus, built adjacent to the rented facility they occupied for ten years. It’s my church away from home, and I feel especially connected because I get to listen to the messages on YouTube every week. Here’s the one I heard in person on Sunday! We’re studying Exodus.
Here’s a literal snapshot of life at the Andersons. Marissa had stopped by with three friends; all four girls attend Grand Canyon University. They were chatting at the kitchen counter when Dusty arrived home from work (he commutes to Portland every week!) and all of us jumped up to greet him. Notice who beat the rest of us to the door—Marissa’s friends!
Not that we always need one, but this visit had the main purpose of our annual adventure to a Beth Moore “Living Proof Live” conference. This year the one in Austin, Texas, fit our timeline, so off we flew another two hours to the east.
She booked us a room in a hotel walking distance from the conference venue, so of course we walked, Texas heat notwithstanding!
We knew it would mean walking “home” after dark, but it also saved us the $10 parking fee.
This was a smaller crowd (4,000) than other LPLs we’ve attended, which gave it a more intimate feel. You can see we snagged our favorite top-row, top-of-the-stairs spot. Pictures are great for showing you place. But they are absolutely worthless in giving you the sense of belonging and the camaraderie of the group and the wonderfulness of the singing and the soul-satisfaction of the teaching. You just need to go yourself. Check out the 2020 schedule and make a plan!
Maybe Quinn and I will see you there. . .
Here’s how Beth compacted her teaching theme on social media:
I really did mean to take and include this picture. Some people name their children for ancestors or people they admire; Quincy Joy got her name because I loved (still love) the letter Q.
This might be just what you think it is—inspiration to kick up our heels and party down, so to speak. They don’t want us to get dozy for the third teaching session, so some lively music is prescribed. And at the strike of noon we hurried to the airport for our return flight.
I always lag behind to catch one of my favorite shots—the family going to church. Their number has dwindled to three with Bailey married and Marissa at college.
Wow! I hadn’t noticed until now just how much taller one is than the other.
Bless her heart, she and Issy Bear were the only ones at home to give me the traditional white-hanky farewell when Dusty took me to the airport. She knows how to make her Gus happy. I smiled all the way home.
Fourteen addresses in the first 18 years of my life as Mrs. Paul Carlson meant our kids didn’t really put down roots until we settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We lived there ten years, longer than any other location. So it’s no surprise they all consider Michigan their “home” state, Wyoming their home town. Son Ben’s roots are deeper than for any of the rest of us, since he still lives there.
It’s no surprise that Taylor would want to share his home town with his family. You can be sure they wouldn’t choose any of the winter months for such a visit. The very fact Ben agreed to share a prime boating weekend with his brother proves the extent of his love for him! So Taylor and Beth and Beth’s mom, Trish, loaded the three kids and gear in their car and made the two-day drive from Virginia, stopping in Sandusky, Ohio, for some nostalgic fun.
High fives with Uncle Bentley, on hand to say Welcome to Michigan!
Beth is supplying me with much vicarious enjoyment of their visit, and I might have to return here with some more pictures of their fun. But for now I’m only setting the backdrop for a series I feel compelled to share. It begins with . . .
This is Paul’s extended family, his grandparents seated in the center.
I didn’t want you to miss Paul’s pose. Little did he know what he started!
Poses snagged from Facebook overflow my “The Pose” folder. I limited myself to sharing two.
The youngest Carlson man gets in the “pose” game.
And today . . . Beth sent me this:
The more things change, the more they stay the same.