December 31, 2009

See You In a While

Dear Blogging Friends,

Today I was shocked to receive a call from the husband of my long time friend, mentor and the person I went to for motherly advice since the birth of my Brianna. Quite unexpectedly, she had a hard attack and died last night leaving behind a beautiful family. Her four oldest children are married with a number of grandchildren who filled her life with joy. Her youngest two children are the same age and friends to my Kaitlin and Brianna. I know you all will understand that I need some time alone with my thoughts.

Earlier this week, I scheduled several posts at 365 Ways... in the meantime you can stop by there. I will be back when I have reconciled things.



Week 37 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself. Give the camera to your hubby, the kids, the grocer. Who cares. Just pass it off and say cheese. It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button below to add your name to the Linky and take a look at all the others.

Now for my pictures this week. Now that four children have their own cameras, there seem to be a large number to choose from!

Why is it that every Christmas has a plethora of photos with bows stuck on the heads of various family members?

Elisabeth modeling all five of the hair bows Nathaniel gave her.

Singing carols with the family on Christmas night.
Getting the children ready for bed on Christmas Eve.
Dinner on Christmas Eve

Painting cookies with Brianna. You can check this technique out on her blog.

We always open the gifts that were mailed from friends and family on boxing day instead of on Christmas Day. That way they don't get lost in the shuffle. I was thrilled with the piece of pottery my sister sent from Caltagiorne.

Likewise, with so many children and so many gifts... well, they each get so excited to choose gifts for their siblings that I like to be sure they each get the attention they deserve. Instead of opening them on Christmas Day, each child gets a day to give their gifts in the week following Christmas. They all beg to be the first to give out their treats. Elisabeth was thrilled with her "bling" box from KK.
And everyone wondering what she has given to me.
Are you looking for a New Year Resolution? Well, here it is! Grab a camera, take a picture and post it today!


December 30, 2009

365 Ways to Say I Love You

Hello, Dear Blogging Friends.

When we are on vacation in the fall, one of the things my children love to do is visit the thrift shop on the island. It is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10-12 and you can bet on those mornings they get up, dress quickly, gulp their breakfast, skip the fishing and run down the block to St. Michael's with their pockets full of spare change. Usually, on those days, Allen and I lag behind and then wander up to meet them around noon to walk on to the beach.

One day, while the children were conducting business and haggling over prices, I was digging through the used book selection. I had finished the book I brought along and was looking for something to carry to the beach with me. Immediately, one book caught my eye.

Just by the name alone, without even opening the book, I eagerly forked over my .50 and could not wait to dig in. I sat on the beach flipping through the pages knowing that I had gotten my money worth. The book, written by Jani Gardner in 1968, is just what the title says -365 ways for a wife to show her husband that she loves him. It is divided into months and takes into account the events of the season at hand.

Over lunch, on thrift shop days, the kids take turns telling about their buys. That afternoon, we all shared our great finds from the thrift store and everyone agreed mine was extra special. Especially Allen who thought it was, "Cute." That means anything good in Allen talk.

At nap time I read every page and dear hubby, who was reading over my shoulder let out more than one "awwww" and a number of chuckles. When we got to the end, he said, "I can see it now. A new blog. You could share it with other women. Wouldn't that be great?" And so we settled on January 1st as the perfect start date.

So I ask you, how can it be that January 1st is just around the corner? That's O.K. though. Because before I have even finished typing this post, my amazing Brianna has already set up an entire new blog to be home to this project, indeed, this challenge I lay for myself and one which I hope you will join me in.

My husband and I have known each other, first as friends and then as a couple and eventually as husband and wife, since I was 17 years old. And we have had wonderful times together. Each year, I have come to love him more than the one before. As time has passed, our family and responsibilities have grown exponentially. Although, I try to constantly show my good husband how much I love him and what a blessing he is to me and to our family, I know that I often get caught up in the busy part of our world and forget.

So, thanks to dear Jani I am going to make a point to show my husband each day of this next year that I love him as much as a person could love another person. Over at my new blog, 365 Ways... , I am going to post each day the idea that Jani has in her book. In the comment section I will be posting the way that I tried to fulfill my goal for the day. I invite you to do the same. Let us encourage each other to take the time to show our husbands what an honour it is to be married to them.

Some of the ideas may not be applicable today or are even not practical. But I decided I would write just what she has and use those ideas when possible and to come up with my own to fill in the blanks. And that, my dear blogging friends, is where the fun will begin.

A few little housekeeping details. First, for those who want to look for the book, the drawings are very 1960's cartoonish style. Some are a bit more "riske" and some of her ideas are a bit more "suggestive." Therefore, if you would find this offensive, than consider yourself forewarned. With those things in mind, and because this is intended to be for exhorting married women, I will be making it a private blog. I will keep it open for a short time for those readers who want to pop over and check it out to decide if they would like to follow along. But, sometime in the next few weeks, I will be making it by invite only. My hope is, that in doing so, it will give us the forum to be more open and be able to share with each other.

To clarify, for now, it is open for you to stop by and check it out. The first post will be up on January 1st and one each day following. Be sure to leave a comment here or drop me an email at any time in the next year if you want an invitation to follow along.

Here's to a year filled with the joy of showing love to the dearest of our hearts!


December 29, 2009

A Christmas Card For You

For those of you that didn't get our annual family newsletter in your Christmas card, which would be all of you since our printer is out of commission, you can read it all here! As a matter of fact, I bet most of you haven't even gotten your Christmas card since we were waiting for the newsletter to put them in the mail.

Is it possible that yet another year has passed? Where has the time gone? Have you hugged a Wachter lately? Well, what are you waiting for?

Seriously, it is good to be checking in with you all again and taking a look back at the highlights of the year in Wachter world. Life is moving so fast that we often forget to take time to stop and catch up with those we love so much. You, who bless our days and make life extra special.
Our year was full of new adventures, lifetime firsts, laughter and a few tears, too. Get some coffee and grab a comfortable chair as we take a look back to January and Nathaniel’s 7th birthday.

Our little St. Louis Rams fan is in the second grade at the Wachter Wagon Home School. His favorite subject is math but he also has a special interest in maps and all things geography. When Pa is available he enjoys time with him learning about power supply design and woodworking. Kaitlin is teaching him to play the piano and harmonica. Our little man about the house is helpful at fixing things, helping his younger brothers, caring for the pets and working on the current home improvement project with Pa. During his free time Nathaniel draws, is learning to sew, builds model cars and anything related to trains. Nathaniel has also chartered the “Louis” club comprised of 4 people he drafted who share the name Louis and are or will be Pastor’s one day… whether they like it or not.

And speaking of Pa, Allen, as always is on the go at Texas Instruments and at home. He still travels weekly to Philadelphia or Southern Virginia as well as local travel to customers. This summer he spent his weekends laying a paver stone patio around the pool and paver steps from the driveway to the pool. This year he also installed a new entry way door, had the driveway widened, installed built ins as part of the continuing basement remodeling project and had a concrete pad poured for the kids pool. Allen also spends a great deal of time helping with the square foot vegetable gardens and other yard projects such as a grape arbor and orchard.
After a few years hiatus, this January Pa and Mama joined Kaitlin, Pop Pop, Nana and Uncle Frank when we returned to Faith Bible Institute. It is wonderful to be back and spend so much time digging deeply into God’s wonderful word. Pa usually treats Kaitlin and Mama to dinner afterwards. We are getting ready to complete our second semester before we break for the winter holidays.

Allen marks his greatest accomplishments this year as, “...surviving two weeks without his wife and living to blog about it at Herding Cats ” We happen to think that was pretty good, but we were all very proud of him the February day that he was announced as one of T.I.’s High Five employees for 2008!

In February, Mama embarked on a new adventure by starting a family blog to keep up with all our friends and family spread around the world. If you have not been there yet, you can check it out at Art's Chili Pepper. It has been exciting to have more frequent contact with those we miss and also to make new friends as my readership has grown.

In March Aunt Diann came for a visit from Italy bringing with her good news of answered prayers in the form of their first baby!

The kids had some good times and made lots of memories with her the first week of April while Pa and Mama spent five days in St. Kitts for the High Five Inductee ceremony and lots of fun in the sun. This marked Kathleen’s first trip out of the United States and my first experience with flying over the ocean.

Shortly after our return, we celebrated Aedan’s 6th birthday. His lizard, Flo, became ill just before his big day. We prayed and were blessed to have God answer those prayers but allowing her to live until after his celebration. Services were held and she is buried under the fruit tree Aedan planted with Pa earlier in the Spring. Our first grader is flourishing in his favorite subject, reading. He also enjoys learning the piano and studying about God. He spends many patient hours passing his knowledge onto Samuel. This year marked many accomplishments for Aedan who lost his first tooth, learned to ride a two-wheeler and got his first big boy suit and tie for church services. He also took multiple ribbons for his wood working projects in the Great Frederick Fair. With the help of big brother and sisters, Aedan is perfecting his drawing skills, photography and learning about dinosaurs. He delights in giving gifts to others, camping with Samuel and things that go “kaboom.”

Just as God gives us many wonderful times and countless blessings, he also sends us some trials and sad moments to make us appreciate those joys even more. In May, on one of the greatest of Spring days, we were sad to realize one of pet birds, Art, disappeared. We were left to assume he flew out the door as we ran in and out enjoying the Memorial day weekend and working in the yard. He never did find his way back home. Parakeets seldom do. With the weather turning dangerously cold for our little bird, we trust that our heavenly Father, who cares for the sparrows has led him to a new home where he is safe and warm this Christmas season.

June was a month of fun and games as school adjourned for the Summer. The children welcomed their friend Gracie for a week while her parents traveled to Paris for a little work and a little pleasure. During that time, they decided to explore the camper Pop Pop brought over last fall. Once they got it set up and cleaned, the children spent many summer days and nights in their little hideaway.

On the eve of Samuel’s fourth birthday, Cocoa came to join the Wachter family menagerie. We came across him, a parakeet in need of a home, when we were searching lost bird networks looking for our missing Art. After six months, he and our female bird, Chili, have finally bonded and are making a nice home for themselves.

Samuel celebrated his birthday with much fanfare on June 11th. He tells me his favorite thing to do is school and his favorite subject is the book with the numbers, math. Hide and seek, the ship is wrecked and pretending to be in Narnia are his favorite games. He is affectionately called Clarence Eustace Scrubbs and his beloved woof-woof is Aslan. The highlight of his year was when the wooden boat he built took a first place ribbon in the fair.

Summer was well under way when our dear long time friend Tony Burrell came for a weekend visit. Just before his arrival we received word that we will be “Uncle and Aunt” with the arrival of his first, and second (yes twins) babies in February. July also saw the first of Camp Wachter, when we built boats, made our own bow and arrows and learned to shoot a gun.

The first weekend in August Pa and Mama took off for a last minute, weekend get away to Philadelphia where we took in a Billy Joel concert in remembrance of one of our first dates. We met some great fellows from New York that we intend to bless with our presence one of these days. Jeff, I hope you are reading this.

Remember Mama’s blog? We set out on an adventure in August for a day trip to Roanoke where we met a family from Tennessee. Not only did we make many wonderful memories as we toured the transportation museum, visited a chocolate store and had dinner together, but we secured a friendship that we hope will span many years as the twenty (yes they have 9 children) seek to serve the Lord together.

Brianna turned 14 and Brandon 18 on August 17th with a poolside dinner and some family laughs. At 14, Brianna, who is now several inches taller than Mama, has become a delightful young woman full of laughter with a heart to serve family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike. She donates her time volunteering at the Point of Rocks Library periodically, teaching piano, and babysitting her younger siblings on Monday night when we go to our F.B.I. class. She uses that time to teach Emma to sew and teach the boys science. A freshman in the Wachter Wagon Home school, Brianna excels in Math and Science but enjoys just about any subject. She has focused a large part of her free time in learning to read and write HTML (where do these kids come from?), writing her blog, and improving her art skills. Don’t worry, though. She has not abandoned her love of baking or sewing. In fact, her Peter Pevensie costume won her place at the Great Frederick Fair in September. Once in a while she even finds some time to curl up with a good book. She is currently working her way through the Left Behind Series.

In August we were sorry to say goodbye to our dear friend, Miss Dee. She brought us many blessings and taught us important life lessons in the years we were honoured to know her.
The summer ended with the children taking part in the Point of Rocks library talent show, playing piano pieces and putting on their two favorite numbers from The Fantasticks.
September, in addition to the thrill of the annual Great Frederick Fair was the annual Wachter Vacation to Georgia. Our trip to our southern home away from home got under way several days ahead of schedule when we received word of the death of another long time friend in South Carolina. Even on this sad occasion, we were blessed to visit with loved ones and have respite from the harried pace of everyday life.

Our time on Tybee was full of rest, relaxation and fishing. Samuel was beside himself with joy when he caught his first ever fish. He was equally disappointed when Pa said we had to throw him back. As a consolation, Pa took him to the IGA to pick out some fish for dinner. As is his ever so generous self, Pa even tossed in a box of bait… um, I mean frozen popcorn shrimp. After three weeks of rest and relaxation, it was shock to come home to real life. Fortunately, it didn’t last long.

We celebrated Emma’s 10th birthday 2 days later. She is in the fourth grade now and cites reading as her favorite subject. Emma Rose is a loving big sister to her siblings. Elisabeth gleefully calls for her each morning when she wakes up. Emma happily gives of her time to teach her brothers, help Brianna with babysitting and assist with whatever project anyone is working on. This year she was absorbed in improving her sewing, artwork, cross stitch, piano, baking and cooking skills. With Pa’s help she is continuing work on her Victorian doll house. She is known for her good listening skills to anyone who wants to talk and as a comforter to anyone in need. Emma’s many accomplishments this year include finishing her first quilt, which took second place in the fair and sewing her first dress. Emma has always been a good helper in the flower beds and vegetable garden, but this year she took on a special project of her own and led the younger children in clearing a plot of land in our woods, creating a border and planting a secret garden. Once Pa had hung a hammock, it became a favorite afternoon hang out for the entire family.

Following Emma’s birthday, we took our first road trip to visit Aunt Dawn in Ohio. The weather was beautiful, the colors breathtaking and the fellowship with Dawn, Buster and her family a blessing. The days there passed too quickly but we had to get home as our fall semester of F.B.I. was already underway and we needed to commence the Wachter Wagon Home School for the 2009-2010 term.

What a joyous morning it was, October 26th, when we got the call from Italy that Aunt Diann had given birth to our newest member of the family, Gabriel Benjamin Rickert. He is a certifiable beautiful baby and has stolen the hearts of everyone he meets and even those at home that have not had the pleasure of meeting him yet.

November came in with celebration as Kaitlin turned 18. For those of you who haven’t experienced that yet, your oldest turning 18, you are in for a treat. Kaitlin finished her school requirements some time ago but we opted to hold off on her official graduation until she completed her last year of F.B.I. In addition to her studies she spends her time helping around the house, teaching the younger children, teaching piano, reading, working on her blog volunteering at the library, sewing, making jewelry and designing dresses-just to name a few of her many interests and talents. The kids love for her to tell them stories and play Narnia with them. Her Narnia fascination, dress designing abilities and sewing skills paid off for her this fall when she took second place for her Susan Pevensie costume at the Frederick fair. The rest of us are blessed by her knowledge involved with making and editing digital movies and manipulating music to create soundtracks. Pa sums up Kaitlin’s accomplishments by saying, “She didn’t hit the car with the tractor this summer so she must be getting closer to getting her driver’s license.”

Just as we finished the last of the birthday cake I kissed the family goodbye and left on my first journey ever alone. I couldn’t help but miss the family as I boarded a plane bound for Italy to meet my new nephew. My time there was wonderfully relaxing as we learned how to harvest olives, make ricotta cheese, partook of the local delicacies and visited the beautiful city of Taormina. I was blessed to represent the families at Gabriel’s dedication and to give him his very first bath.

Allen and the kids fared well at home without me for two weeks and even managed a few home improvements like laying ceramic tile in the entryway. Indeed, Allen even found time between school, work, cooking and cleaning to buy a new car. It is a little disconcerting to be dropped off at the airport in one vehicle and not even know what car to look for when the same person, who happens to be your husband, comes to pick you up. I am grateful, though, to have been spared of the whole car buying process.

What a joy it was to get home in time to celebrate the Thanksgiving holidays with my husband, children, parents and brother. As always the sounds, sites and smells of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fill my soul with joy as we turn our focus from the hectic year to the remembrance of our Savior's birth and what He came to do for us on Calvary.

As we come to the close of the year, we look forward to the many celebrations that will fill the final weeks of 2009. Allen and I will be celebrating yet another anniversary in our years of happy marriage. Of course there will be the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. We eagerly anticipate Pa’s winter vacation and, last but not least, Elisabeth’s second birthday on December 13th.
Elisabeth brings a smile to everyone’s face. Everything is new and exciting to her and it brings a thrill to everything we do. She is content to help out with whatever anyone is doing from house work to yard work to school work. I was thrilled that her hair grew long enough for me to make pigtails this year. Ellie is clearly a girl’s girl. Her first word was bling and her toes are always painted a beautiful shade of flamingo pink, called Tutti Frutti. If you happen to smell something a little more fragrant than might be pleasant, it is likely Elisabeth has been in my French perfume. She loves jewelry of any sort and will not be caught without her bling on. Our little Princess is both energized and calmed by music, if you hum but one note she will eagerly sing the Hallelujah chorus, plink out a few notes on the piano or recorder or take off dancing across the kitchen in someone else’s high heeled shoes. This year she is tackling potty training. Elisabeth refuses to be outdone or left behind and is seen running after the older children shouting, “Wait!” To quote, well sort of, the great Dr. Suess, Elisabeth can be summed up in three words, “Pink, furry and Shiny.” Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


December 28, 2009

Christmas Future

My husband had a wonderful idea of doing a series of posts in the tradition of Mr. Dickens. Don't forget to check out Saturday and Sunday's post to see Christmas past and present Then take a minute to see the Christmas of the future.

Our children will be the future of Christmas and so we asked them how they will honor the day when they grow up.

The question I asked each child is what of our Christmas traditions do you wish to carry into the future to share with your own family?

Kaitlin: Putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving

Brianna: Traditional Italian Christmas dinner.

Emma Rose: Giving three gifts to each child to remember the gold, frankincense and Myrrh that Jesus received from the wise men.

Nathaniel: stockings on Christmas Eve

Aedan: little trees in the kids room and ornament calendars

Samuel: baking Christmas cookies and eating them, too.

Elisabeth: Candy canes on the tree, gingerbread houses decorated with candy and Christmas cookies


December 27, 2009

Christmas Present

My husband, he calls himself a blog idea man, had this great idea to do a series of posts in the theme of Charles Dickens. Yesterday was Christmas past, today is Christmas present and stop back tomorrow for the Christmas of future.


December 26, 2009

Christmas Past

My dear husband had this wonderful idea for a series of posts in the spirit of Mr. Dickens. So take a look at Christmas Past, 1996, and don't forget to come back tomorrow and the next day to see how the story turns out.

Decorating the tree with dear friends on Thanksgiving Day

I made a scarf for everyone that year.

Just because I love him and think he is so cute.