30 December 2013

Finding your Clean Sink


As I've turned into an old woman (which I clearly am), I've discovered patterins (not a typo, just quoting my child) in my world and in the world of those around me.  One of the ones I continue to see is that when life is insane, the way out of that external insanity and the way to hold on to some inner peace - is to find your regulating activity that makes it all better. 

For some, this is exercise.  The world may be falling down around a person, but if he can get in his morning run, he can begin to regain control or, at the least, not lose his mind to the crumbling columns.   For some, this is folded laundry.  For some, a regular reading quiet time.  For some, it is prayer and meditation. 

There is a woman on the internet - the fly lady, I believe - who says that if you'll just go to bed every night with a clean sink, you'll be able to begin to form new habits that will save you from chaos.  There is something to that - there has to be an external reality to make us all feel better.

There are three things I do when I need to regain control:

1) Pray a rosary.
2) Purge / fill my calendar.
3)  Plan my meals. 

26 December 2013

2013 Year-in-Review

Christmas Card Photo- Courtesy of the talented Ragan Oswalt.  An amusing and blessedly brief experience. 

Two thousand thirteen has been a very full year for the Forsters.  We have new ventures, new jobs, and new people to report!  As with all newness, there have been some growing pains, but we remain humbled at God's rich blessings upon us, even and especially through hard experiences.  We look forward to two thousand fourteen being a time of rest and restoration, growth and good things.

Notice the grip - it's fairly strong.  Mountains trip in September. 

Paul William began working for the city of Jackson some years back - first as an engineering intern and then as a civil engineer in the water-sewer division.  He cut his engineering teeth there, and those who know Jackson and its infrastructure state will know that it is an interesting place to begin a career.  Paul had many coworkers whom he loved and respected, and we were thankful for the opportunity to be part of the solutions in our hometown.  However, earlier this fall, he was asked to assume the position of City Engineer for the city of Flowood, a small Jackson suburb.  Paul is enjoying his new gig - his duties have broadened much, and he is excited to spend more time at home with us - a prize he values almost as much as we do.  We remain proud Jackson residents and hope to continue to work as citizens to better our town.  Paul continues to brew beer and work on repairing the ruins of the 1930s home in which we live.

Mountains in September.  Hands full.  Full of good things. 
I have had a year - boy howdy.  I continue to teach Latin to about 30 kids, ages 9-15, and I love that. I am also still homeschooling the kids, which is, in a word, full.  Paul and I are also involved in a new, exciting venture - we're among the founders of a new school in the Jackson area.  The school is called St. Augustine School, and you can read about it here.  It will open in August of 2014, Lord-willing, and we are working a lot to make that happen.  I have the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors and will serve as the interim Dean of the Lower School during its first year.  The three bigger kids will all be enrolled there, and we're excited to see how the school can bless the community around us.

The biggest event in my life this year is the arrival of Elsa Gray Forster, whom we affectionately (and with much hubris, I'm sure) call "the caboose."
Baby Coming!  Mother's Day Announcement. 

My pregnancy with EGF was rough to say the least - I suffered from acute morning sickness, gestational diabetes, and a few other various and sundry complications.
A beautiful glimpse into the womb. 

But, she is here, all is well, as they say in the telegrams from the hospital, "Mother and Baby are fine."  I am glowing, these days, I'm told, with what we call the Post Partum Glow.  Now that food tastes good, I'm excited to be back to cooking for us and others, and occasionally even entertaining. 

The big kids.  December 2013. 

Easter 2013.  Goofy they are. 

Oh, what a daughter she is. 

Ada Brooks is so old - she's pretty much driving.  Not really, but she is nine and a half!  The last year of her first decade has been great.  She reads and she crafts and she plays American Girl Dolls.  She competes on our co-op's math olympiad team, enjoys painting her fingernails, and working through Latin translations.  If you're getting a picture of a girly little nerd, you've got the right idea.  During the summer, she swims for the Briarwood Dolphins, a local summer swim team, which is great for her.  She's not a bad swimmer, no Michael Phelps either, which makes for a relaxing sport.
At a meet on her 9th  birthday!  
At the city swim meet, reading Island of the Blue Dolphins between events. 

Ada is enjoying her baby sister and serves our family in so many ways, the newest being her uncanny ability to speed-straighten the house, as long as we've got loud music blasting.

Ever elevated - when he's missing, we just look up. 

Eason McNie is six and a half and is full of life.  Vivacious seems a feminine word, but if it could be applied, it should.  He never stops moving, never stops expressing, never stops being in relationship with someone.  Eas loves to climb and loves playing with his little brother most of all.

Typical EC Brother action.  

Ferris Wheel at the Fair.  Sit on your bottom!  On your bottom!  Now! 

They have a club - called the EC Brothers, which amuses us all to no end.  There are passwords and forts and even secret ninja moves.  One is called the Baby Tornado.  Ask for a demonstration next time you see him. You will not regret it.  Eason is a math guy - he craves mathematical challenges and, yes, tries to usurp his sister and father as nerdiest members of the Forster house. You know a house is full of nerd-dom when I don't come close to making the top three.  He has a scholarly strain, but is more Tom Sawyer than anything else.  With a perpetually grimy face, rocks in his pockets, and crickets in jars on his bed, he makes me tired and happy.  Tired and happy all the day long.

At a friend's puttputt birthday. Such concentration.

Isaac Collins is four and a half, and is benefiting much from not being the littlest anymore.  He's a helper and wants to be included in everything.  He's attempting to conquer his whining habit, and seems to actually be making progress.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Collins is introverted and introspective and hysterical.
No words.  

He loves his brother and sisters and especially loves his role in the aforementioned EC Brothers.  He's a swimmer by nature - one of those weird kids you hear about - I didn't do it, but I wish now I had thrown him in at 12 months of age.  I believe he would have just swum across the pool.
Summer 2013.  One  of 17 pairs of goggles.  

He's putting letters together into words, but we don't ramp up the learning-to-read around here until five, so his spring and summer will bring new studies and the beginning of more official academics.
With his "godsister" at the St. Patrick's Parade. 

Like his Mama, he loves to be with people, as long as those people are few in number and quiet in affect.

Newborn Pics - 11/10/13.  Ragan Oswalt Photography.  Sweet Baby Girl! 

Elsa Gray is the newest Forster.  Though her life in the womb was fraught, her life outside it seems to be right wonderful.  She's calm and generally happy. And of course beautiful, if I can still say that as her Mama.  She already has many nicknames - EG, ElsaGee, Gray, and Bucket (the last one is for when she's being opinionated and vocal, which is fairly often, actually...).  We want to keep her.  I think we will.  Especially since she's learned to smile - on purpose - and at people.

We Forsters remain ever thankful for our parents, the kiddos' grandparents.  They are a support network for us, amusements, loves, and a great means of grace.

At grandparents' one night after baths. Looking at their favorite coffee table book of baby animals.

In July, I lost my last remaining grandparent - a man unequaled in stature.  Paul Burrow Eason led a life of legend - small legend - the kind we're called to strive after, and we remain grieved at his passing.
Big Paul in the middle there, last Christmas, bemused, amused, and humoring those around him.  Brooks, Carrie and Mollie the Dog flank him. 

But, he gave the world 91 years, and it seems quite selfish to ask for more.

We are also exceedingly blessed by friends and neighbors who come in our lives and are walking along beside us through times when we need to be served and times when we can be of service.  After Elsa Gray was born, we didn't fix or purchase a meal out for weeks and weeks.  What a testament to community!

Mountains September 2013.

Paul and I are coming up on eight years married, and I don't know that we could be any happier - even in the middle of the night with someone kicking us in the face or spitting up on someone's pillow.
As Prince William and Princess Kate for halloween. 

What a lovely life we lead, and on our knees in gratitude we are. 

Christmas blessings in 2013 and cheers to a merry new year in 2014!

Ann Lowrey