On Family Pictures & Waves of Grief

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Hodgson Family ~ Fall 2015

Family pictures are a tricky thing for me. I treasure photos greatly. I enjoy the art of taking pictures, looking and re-looking at pictures and capturing precious moments. However, whenever it comes to family photos, though there is a smile on my face, my heart is divided. I can’t help but think of our precious sons who should be beside us in our family pictures. It almost seems wrong to capture a “family” photo without them! However, this is our family, at present, and I desperately want it captured nonetheless. I even go so far as to think, “What if this is our last family photo together?!?!” Because sometimes it is, and we just never know. On the flip side, I thank God for the family I have here and that gives me reason to smile and capture this moment. I suspect I will always feel the void, the struggle and the pangs of sadness.

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Christmas 2011 ~ Our Last “Family” Picture with Andrew

I didn’t anticipate grief flooding in this Christmas season. The waves definitely come fewer and farther between, and this one came unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere. Dear friends were sharing their burdens of loss and pain during Sunday School one morning. Their hearts echoed what was all too familiar to me. I bit my lip and wrestled through class, thinking I could hold it together because I’m typically not much of a crier. I ducked my head and made a beeline for my spot on the pew for service,  I just couldn’t shake this deep sorrow that filled my heart. Images of the day we lost Andrew flashed through my mind. The throbbing ache in my arms, desperate to hold my children close, was there. I wondered and worried about how my surviving children would deal with the deaths of their brothers into their adult years. The memories, thoughts and tears wouldn’t stop. This Christmas a dear friend gifted our kids with Christmas outfits, and I kept thinking, Andrew and Isaiah should have matching outfits too! It just didn’t seem fair. I simply could not hold back the tears that came in torrents down my face. I had to walk out of that service and go home. I felt unable to stand up under the weight of the grief. It felt so bizarre to be feeling these gut wrenching emotions, seemingly out of the blue. I suspect these moments will always come. It’s all part of the journey. I’m still not used to it and am surprised by grief.

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December 2015

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Four Beautiful Children in Christmas Outfits

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Christmas 2015

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Here’s to 2016! Happy New Year!

In 2015, family pictures, Christmastime and ringing in the New Year held another new set of emotions for me. Throughout the festivities, I kept wondering if, perhaps, this was our last Christmas as a family as we now know it. Would we be sharing our celebrations with a new son or daughter next Christmas season? If God would allow us to add to our family in 2016, we would be so grateful. I treasured this season with my family a little bit differently, not knowing what 2016 would hold.

By the grace of God, and with hope, I do know Who holds 2016. I’m thankful for His faithfulness. I’m trusting in His provision and timing, glad that He can see the big picture that I can’t. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Reflections on Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.

Since I’m a thinker, I did a lot of thinking while my children and husband did their best to spoil me. In no particular order…this is a glimpse of what I thought and felt today.

I thought about Mother’s Day three years ago when grief threatened to crush me. That made my heart ache even more for others out there who are feeling crushed by the weight of today.

I dreamed forward to a day when a beautiful, brown-skinned sweetheart would call me mommy.

I remembered my precious boys who I carried in my womb and cradled in my arms but never had the chance to hear them call me mommy.

I thought about my own mother and how she has impacted me and taught me so much about life, love, dedication, hard work and commitment.

I thought about my husband’s mother. She must have done something right because he is a treasure and I am forever thankful to her for how she mothered him.

I wondered what kind of a legacy I am building for my own children and what they will remember about me when they have children of their own someday.

Mostly, I admired the sweet, amazing people who call me mom Every. Single. Day. I am so thankful for them and for how they fill my life with such joy and goodness. I love how they make me realize my need for a Savior and how lost I would be with Him. They see me at my very worst and love me anyway. They were eager to serve me today and show me special love and adoration. These kids are amazing, wonderful little people who I pray will love Jesus when they are big people. May God grant me the grace to do right by them and lead them to Him by my example.

I am so thankful for this gift of motherhood. The good. The bad. The ugly. And the beautiful. God is so good!

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Week In Review ~ February 1

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The weather was really mild at the beginning of the week so Ben and the boys worked on their backyard  fort. A friend of ours generously gave the boys several boards to use and they were thrilled!

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Lately this girl has been LOVING listening to her Beginner’s Bible on CD. Since she can’t read very well yet, she spends a lot of time just sitting on her bed, looking at the pictures and listening.

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My sweet husband has worked very diligently on adoption paperwork this week. Things are progressing faster than we thought and we should be able to submit our dossier VERY soon! Praise God!

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Cody wanted to make pumpkin bread this week. He did and it was delicious!

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For date day, these two went ice skating. I’m not sure who loved it more. 🙂

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I think her love language is “Reading Aloud” and I think Cody is her favorite. 🙂

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Hehe! Farm animal sounds. 🙂

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It takes a lot to get this guy down. He’s fighting a bad cold.

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Daddy and the girls stayed home from church Wednesday night. The boys were excited to visit the James General Store where Mr. Stache gave them mustaches!

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Ugh. This was taken early Thursday morning after I found her in her bed with her diaper off. I’ll spare you the details. She sure does make it pretty difficult to stay mad at her though. 🙂

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Since we were all tired from rough nights of sleep and fighting colds, we took Thursday off school and spent time with stickers, baby dolls and our new game, Bohnanza. We’ve borrowed it, and it’s a family favorite, so we were excited to get our own!

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Her other favorite thing to play with besides books. 🙂 She LOVES her babies!

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They discovered the concordance!

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Science was taught by my lovely sister this week. Our experiment had us measuring lung capacity.

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The experiment turned out to be a disaster and quite soggy. 😦 We had some good laughs though!

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On Saturday, our kids spent the day with my sister’s family so we could take an all-day membership class at our church. We LOVED the class and are so thankful for our church! We got to go grocery shopping and have dinner together before picking the kids up for bed. It was a wonderful date day!

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On Sunday we woke up to quite a bit of snow and it kept coming!

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The weather didn’t stop us from going to a super bowl party!

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This is what the Super Bowl is all about, right?!?!

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It’s such a joy to have my oldest sister living close by these days. We enjoyed chatting (even though with 8 kids there are LOTS of interruptions), playing Bananagrams and she spoiled me with this delicious latte. So thankful for her!

Week In Review ~ January 25

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On Monday, my sister and I drove up to spend the day with some of my family. My grandma hasn’t been doing very good and we wanted to spend some time visiting with her. It was a joy to visit with her and grandpa!

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This girl is a little bookworm just like her siblings! I adore that she is regularly found engrossed in a pile of books!

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We have been struggling with her taking her clothes off, including her diaper! This happens all around the house but especially in her bed. The results are usually far less than awesome. After much trial and error, this is the best solution we’ve come up with: jammies backward with a shirt over top. She hasn’t figured out how to take a shirt off over her head. Yet. This pictures proves, she’s still trying to outsmart us, but so far this has kept her from taking her clothes and diaper off completely!

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We worked on colors this week!

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This guy is a reading machine! This week he finished his book list for first grade and is begging for another list.

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Tuesday’s date day was for me and Allie. She requested that we play nail salon and we did her toenails, complete with a Strawberry Shortcake lotion foot massage. 🙂

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Neena came to visit on Wednesday. She brought lunch and a Neena Box! We’re spoiled!

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Allie and I rowed Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey this week. From this sweet book: “Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were bursting with pride. It was a great responsibility taking care of so many ducklings, and it kept them very busy.” I love Robert McCloskey and this is one of my favorites.

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We spent Wednesday afternoon exploring the trails at a local nature center. It was a beautiful day and fun to be outside as a family!

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Four of my favorite people.

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Lillyanna ate snow for the first time thanks to daddy teaching her. 🙂

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The whole family ventured to the police station on Friday afternoon so Ben and I could get some fingerprinting done for our dossier. Yay! One step closer!

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I got to spend Friday evening with this precious guy and his older siblings. It was fun to spend time with them without my kids there hogging them! 😉

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Saturday morning we did some cleaning as a family. It was nice to have happy, enthusiastic helpers! The kids love using this child-size Norwex dusting mitt and I love that they don’t have to spray anything! 🙂

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Daddy took the older kids outside to help them build a snow fort. They worked hard and had so much fun!

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Here, he’s planning to throw those snow balls at me!

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Handsome hubby, great daddy.

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My goofy girl eating “snow dogs”.

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Layer 1 of the snow “bricks”, complete.

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While the big kids played outside, little miss and I played inside. Love this picture of her and her baby!

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Sunday we spent the day with my family. It was a wonderful celebration of my grandma’s 83rd birthday and a bit of a family reunion. This is a picture of my grandma (my dad’s mom) with all of her great-grandchildren. Precious moments!