Sunday, December 23, 2007

Here's some Ellisons

During our recent trip to Florida, we stopped through to see Scott's parents and grandparents on our way to my hometown. We didn't have long to visit and really missed out on being able to see all of our family and friends, but we tried to make the most of our short time.

Here are some highlights:

Caroline meets Papa, Scott's dad.

Caroline was named after Grandma's family, so we were so glad for Caroline to finally meet her!

Scott with his grandparents. 

Aunt Erica with Cousin Cody

Josh and Carter with Cody- the boys had so much fun with their cousin!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Sophie

Sophie turned three while we were in Florida. It's hard to believe she is already three, although most of the time she acts like she is 13. This little girl is such a blessing to us. She fills our home with a lot of laughter! Happy Birthday, sweet Sophie! You are God's gift to us.

Sophie with Grandma

With Mommy and Daddy

With her big brothers. Please notice the princess crown from Aunt Trish. Quite fitting.

I have never seen one of my children be so appreciative of gifts. Every time she opened a gift, Sophie would yell, "Thank you! I love it!" So much fun.

We have been out of town for an unplanned trip to Florida. My grandfather, who we called Pau-Pau passed away after a bad fall that broke his hip. Although he was ninety-six years old, I was not ready for him to die. He played a major role in my life and in the life of my little (or big, depending on your perspective) family.

My parents divorced when I was 12 years old, and my mother moved our family to the town where my grandparents (Gran and Pau-Pau) lived. Being a single mother to four growing children required a lot of help, and Gran and Pau-Pau stepped in and rose to the occasion. Pau-Pau dutifully picked us up from school for orthodontist appointments, attended school functions, and took us out for Sunday lunch at the Sizzler more times than I can count. He spent many hours landscaping my mom's front yard, which still bears the fruit of his labor.

I spent many hours at Gran and Pau-Pau's dining room table pouring out my teen-age and young adult troubles. They were always willing to listen, and gave me very sound advice about boys, college, jobs and countless other decisions I made. To a great extent, Pau-Pau filled in the gap left by my father and he made an enormous impact on my life. He was an instrument of God's grace to me during a very difficult period of my life.

I was the traveler in my family and I spent a lot of time in the car with Gran and Pau-Pau going back and forth the their house in the mountains. They would patiently put up with my musical choices and endless opinionated chatter. The fun thing about talking with Gran and Pau-Pau was that they were quick to share their thoughts as well- there was no trying to guess what they thought because they always had an opinion and always shared it!

Pau-Pau married into our family when I was five. He lost his first wife to illness and my Gran's first husband, (and my mother and aunt's father) died many years earlier, so Pau-Pau was formally our step-grandfather. But there was no mention of 'step' in our family. Although my mother and aunt honor their father's memory, and miss him very much, Pau-Pau always referred to them as his daughters and treated them as well as any natural father would.

My first memory of Pau-Pau was when I was four years old. My mother was expecting my younger brother and there was a large family baby shower being held for her. Pau-Pau was given the task of keeping a very animated four-year-old occupied for the duration of the party. Poor man! I still remember him taking me to Fort Desoto and showing me the conquistador armor.

Pau-Pau was a private man, but when questioned about his life, he would freely tell stories of growing up in Pennsylvania, attending Penn State in the early 1930's, and of his experience working as a botanical genetisist who developed new strands of corn. He was very bright and seemed to know a little about everything and a lot about a lot of things.

When Pau-Pau would get riled up, he would animately wave his hands in the air- which was funny as long as he wasn't riled up at you! He had strong opinions and could get very excited when he expressed them. As I got older, I got a kick out of our lengthy conversations about the happenings in the news and politics- Pau-Paul always had an opinion and as he got warmed up, his arms would start to rise and his hands would start to waive.

When I was younger, I just assumed that when an older person died, the grief was not as deep because death is an expected part of old age. Now that I have lost older people who were very dear to me, I realize that older people are just as much a part of our lives as younger people, so when they die the void is just as real. I will miss Pau-Pau very much this Christmas.

I will also miss him every time an issue of National Geographic comes to my house (he subscribed to them for me a my Christmas gift over the past few years), every time I visit the North Carolina mountains, and every time I visit my hometown which contains so many memories of him sacrificially serving my family.

My oldest son is named after Pau-Pau, who never had any children of his own. I will teach him many lessons I learned from Pau-Pau- about hard work and loving other people, about being a faithful husband and caring father and grandfather.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

It's been a while, and

things have really picked up around our house. We are settled into our new house and our routine is slowly taking shape. This summer and fall have seen a lot of change at the Ellison home. We have welcomed a new baby, Scott has changed jobs, and we have made a major move. Here's a brief synopsis of what has transpired and a little bit about why we made another big move so soon after our last change.

We moved to North Carolina in August, 2006 for Scott to attend seminary. The Lord blessed Scott with a full time job at an insurance office that was close to our home and the seminary. For the first year he was able to attend school full time as well as working full time, but in January we found out we were expecting a new baby (to our surprise and great joy I might add), and it soon became apparent that keeping up with a full time school schedule would not be a possibility in the future. Scott finished up the spring semester and we prepared for Caroline's arrival.

In the meantime, Scott received a job offer from another company. The job would require us to move away from the seminary, but appeared that it would allow him to continue his education on a part-time basis while providing for our family. Even though we loved the area where we were, loved our church and had made many new friends, we sensed that the Lord was behind this change.

After praying about it and seeking counsel, we decided that this would be a good move for our family and would allow us to better build into our family and community.

So we now find ourselves living in rural North Carolina. After a lot of searching, we finally found a house that met our needs and that we could afford. Our house is an eighty-year-old farmhouse that sits on about 130 acres. We only own one acre, but are allowed to walk and hunt on the entire property. We see deer often and have an enormous gopher that lives under our barn. As long as the weather cooperates, the kids play outside in the yard for a good part of the day. We have good climbing trees- two apple trees and some friendly crepe myrtles that provide good fodder for their imaginations.

We are still homeschooling. Carter is in first grade this year. School takes up a greater part of our day now. We are using Sonlight curriculum, which involves a lot of reading aloud. This works great for our family, because Josh and Sophie can listen in on the stories and history lessons. I work one-on-one with Carter for math and language arts, but for the rest we can all gather together.

I love homeschooling, and this year has definitely been more involved than kindergarten, when we just focused on learning to read, learning to write, and basic math skills. Mornings around here are very busy but also very productive. By early afternoon, we usually have chores and school completed and we have rest time, more outside time, and time to just play. Scott works from home now, so he can watch the action from up close.

Living in the country has been a major adjustment for me. I have a lot more to write about that, but for now I'll say that I have had to really lean on the Lord for my joy and peace. I am so glad for that, because I want to know Christ more and more and I find myself praying and seeking God much more often when my earthly comforts are removed.

I find myself much busier since we moved, so my computer time has drastically cut down. I am thinking about posting on a more regular basis, maybe once a week. I would really love to write more, and have so many thoughts swirling around in my head, but rarely find myself with the opportunity to sit down and actually compose even an email.

Having four children is still a new experience and I still can't believe Scott and I are parents of so many (to us) little people! God has been so good to our family and as I find myself challenged every day with such a daunting task, I know he will continue to provide grace, strength, and wisdom. I love writing about God's goodness to us and what he is teaching me and what is going on in our family. Thanks for reading- I pray that you will be able to join me as I laugh, cry, struggle, and attempt to experience God in all of life.