A quick family update….

When Naomi woke up this morning, I asked her if she slept well, and also told her that I was happy she slept all night in her own bed. With the cutest glimmer in her eyes, she then told me that she had “the most wonderful dream in the world.” She then explained that she dreamt about Speed Racer, and that she was 5, and they went on vacation and they visited her and they talked. She had this twinkle in her eyes and the sweetest smile. She said that she never had this dream in her whole life.

Naomi’s been using Isaac’s scooter in the house for a bit now and has great balance. Phil pointed out to her that she may be ready to use her bike without training wheels because she can balance so well on the scooter. Man, oh, man, did she like that idea. She was quick to ask Doug to take the training wheels off her bike and is doing amazingly well. We took video of her mastering her skill at the two wheeler. It’s too soon for my liking, although that’s a mom thing!!! I’m, of course, proud of her accomplishments, but she’s growing up too fast.

David, after years of begging for glasses, got his wish. Doug took the kids to their appts a few weekends ago (Naomi’s first eye exam, too), and David was told that he needed glasses. He picked out the ones he wanted, and was told that they’d be ready in a week, but … the week came and went and still no glasses. He was disappointed to find out that he needed to wait several more days because there was a problem with the lenses and needed to be returned to the company to have them corrected. He finally got his glasses yesterday, and of course, he’s thrilled.

Isaac celebrated his 13th birthday the end of April and we’ll be celebrating with a party this weekend. Can’t believe he’s already a teen. [Doug’s note: He’s had the attitude of a teen for at least five years now, it certainly doesn’t surprise me.]

At the end of April, Naomi and I spent 4 days in DisneyWorld. Yup, just us girls, with two of Phil’s sisters and niece. We had a great time. Loads of fun watching Naomi’s expressions on the rides and just the fun she had with MacKenzie. Doug and the boys had a great time, too, as expected by me anyways. He took the boys indoor skydiving, which I’ll be doing sometime soon. We have a video of that along with pictures that David took. Those should be posted soon, too.

More from Doug. Nichelle is the biggest weasel in the world for going to DisneyWorld without us. I would certainly never go on such a trip without my wife.

In addition to indoor skydiving, David, Isaac, nephew Andrew Roberts, and I visited the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum, which is home to the USS Nautilus, the world’s very first nuclear-powered submarine. For technophiles like us, this was a perfect trip. In fact, we were late picking Nichelle and NaNi up at the airport because we got to talking to a submariner who was stationed on the USS Henry Clay (a “boomer”—a ballistic missile submarine) in the 1960s. In addition to touring the Nautilus, we got to play with various submarine control stations, see a lot of weapons, including a disassembled Polaris 3 MIRV, use working periscopes, and learn a lot about the history of the US submarine force. Jim, the sailor from the Henry Clay, also answered a question that was very important to me: Which movies about submarines are actually accurate. He said the Widowmaker was highly accurate, but admitted that others could still be entertaining. I’ll post pictures from this trip soon.

Week of a Million Smiles

Well, we’re back from vacation and what an amazing and wonderful time we all had.

To start off the vacation was Mom’s wedding. What a lovely couple Mom and Dad make! They are truly in love and so very sweet together. (Pictures taken by our “official” Wedding photographer Mike Matheson are available here.)

We spent a few days with Mom, Dad and family before heading to Orlando, where the Hinxmans arranged for us to stay at a borrowed apartment. They also are tireless park-attenders, and took us around Disney World and Sea World on a six-day sprint.

NaNi tells Cinderella a story about a ball she plans to attend.

What an amazing time, jammed packed and loads of fun. So much to share, too late now to do it, but you can check out the pics in the Picasa album. We have loads to share so check back in a day or two.

Picasa Web Album
Disney PhotoPass Album

Isaac and David pose with Stormtroopers at the last of MGM’s “Star Wars Weekends.”

So what do you get when you mix chicken with a lot of great ingredients?…

….a really cool opportunity to cook on TV!!! That’s what I said. I entered a cooking contest and you can read about that here: http://www.chickencookingcontest.com/contest_history.cfm. I saw the contest from 2005 and boy was I impressed. Did some searching for it and got the information and started creating recipes. I created seven in all and submitted two. Doug will be sure to mention that he had to beg and plead to get me to submit the recipe that won. The first recipe is called, “Tropically Kissed Chicken” and the one that I submitted about a week or two later is a burger recipe. Not disclosing the information on that one. :). You’ll have to wait.

This morning at around 9:30, I got a phone call and was told that the recipe I created was selected for New Hampshire. Can you imagine how thrilled I am!!! I’m still in a bit of shock over it. I will receive more information in February about this and will keep you updated. The contest will take place in May 2007 and I will be flown to Birmingham, AL (all expenses paid) for a few days. Just the excitement alone to be chosen and now to go and actually make the dish live…it’s exhilarating. So pray for me and all that will have to sample this dish repeatedly between now and the competition to get the cooking time down and so forth. Many thanks, too to all who have continued to pray for my health. I’ve been doing awesome since July and that in itself is beyond worthy of Praise to God!!

Ah, for those of you who already know the recipe that was selected, please no mentioning things here in the blog about it. If you have any questions, please send me an email. Many thanks. 🙂 And to read more about what takes place in judging, etc read here.

With a Thankful Heart ….

Around the table we took turns telling what we were thankful for. It came to David’s turn and he had a long list, starting with his salvation—what a blessing that was. (Doug prompted him by announcing, “Our kids are all ingrates; they have nothing for which they are thankful.”) Then, to top it all off, he broke into songs of praise and worship, and got us all singing.

…being thankful for what we have. Can we list all the blessings God gives to us, really? What a loving, gracious, forgiving, and merciful Lord we serve. One of my major praises is for the return of excellent health! It’s been since July, and so far there is no sign of the symptoms returning. Will they symptoms return? Not sure, but typically by this time of year, I’d be having many symptoms, and so far only a couple of minor ones had happened and then they were gone, and that was at least two months ago.

A trip to Cindy’s for Thanksgiving is always wonderful! Our plan was to head to Cindy’s house after church Wednesday night. It’s a two and a half hour trip, and after service we had hoped to arrive by 11 p.m. I got the suitcases packed, and Doug loaded up the van all before church. (Victory! We’ve never actually accomplished this.) Service typically lets out at 8:15, and we wanted to head back to the house for one final sweep of things and also pick up dinner on the way. Service let out at 9:05 due to the fact that each person has the opportunity to share something that they have been thankful for throughout the past year.

I was downstairs working with our King’s Kids program and Doug was in the service. Things took a little longer, giving hugs and quick praises of thanks for how God has been working once service was over. I believe we all made it in the car at about 9:20. So, you see what happened. So we got in the van, headed home, had the kids do potty runs, etc., and were back in about 5 minutes. (Another victory!)

The plan was to go to the McDonald’s just over the highway. So we took off, and the time was now 9:45. Unfortunately, the McDonald’s was closed! Grrrrrr… We headed back to the BK on Main Street, and ordered meals. We went through drive-thru and pull over once we get our food to pray and dish out the meal so we can get on our way. As the kids were handed their food, Isaac proclaimed in disgust that they got his order wrong—again. They also messed up David’s order. Back through the line we went. I should add, because our order was so long we had to pull to the side and wait for them to finish making it which took several minutes. Anyway, we got the order together and were on our way, finally. Quite a way to start off our mini-vacation!

Our drive was uneventful, except for the 18 wheeler that was having a bit of a problem staying in his lane. He nearly pushed a car off the road, thankfully we got past him (two lanes over), and it was smooth sailing from there. We arrived at Cindy’s just after midnight. The kids slept just about the whole way there and Doug did, too off and on.

Cindy did an awesome job with the meal and the many pies once again. My contribution was a side dish, assistance in the kitchen, and a couple of Hershey Pies.

Around the table we took turns telling what we were thankful for. It came to David’s turn and he had a long list, starting with his salvation—what a blessing that was. (Doug prompted him by announcing, “Our kids are all ingrates; they have nothing for which they are thankful.”) Then, to top it all off, he broke into songs of praise and worship, and got us all singing. Naomi was thankful for her friend Mikayla and her house. We were all thankful for the mutual support we have in the family, especially given the very difficult issues various of us have been through. We talked about why we love to get together, and concluded that our relationships with Christ made a big difference in our family dynamics—you won’t find us saying, “Ugh, holiday time again, we have to put up with the relatives!” Such a sweet time.

Typically after the meal, Cindy and I go for a nice and sometimes long walk, but due to the rain we didn’t go. We all did the next day and it was awesome! We went up to the Littleville Dam and hiked around that a ways about four miles. We also stopped at a large rock bluff to do some climbing. Naomi walked some, but was pretty much carried by Doug, Jenn and myself. Jenn, on our way back was still holding Naomi, who decided her being carried was too much and decided to take a nap.

We all had such a great time together and look forward to our next gathering at Christmas.


Doug and I bought Naomi the Laurie Berkner Band DVD for her birthday, and one of the songs on it is, “Moon, moon, moon.” Part of the song says that the moon takes care of her. So I asked her, “Who takes care of you?” her response: “God does; I only said the moon does because it’s in the song.”

Last week Doug brought home from work gummy eyeballs, and the kids were playing with them. Isaac was playing with his eye and Naomi’s, and placed them on the back of his head, and talked about having Mom-vision. She placed the eyes at the back of her head, and then said, “Look, I’m Isaac. I know everything. Blah, blah, blah, blah.” It was hysterical.

This morning, Naomi was sitting on the floor looking at an e-Toys catalog, and was pointing out things and saying what she wants to have. She then sighed and said, “Humph, that’s $40.”

Added November 11, 2006

This morning, while Nichelle was at the Ladies’ Tea (part of our annual missions conference at church), I was trying to get Naomi to drink milk instead of water or juice. She didn’t want it, and I explained to her that milk contained calcium and other vitamins and minerals that were important for building strong bones, like in her arms.

A while later she came up to me with a sippy cup filled with water, and said, “Dad, watch this.” She drank from the cup, and said, “See? This doesn’t go into my arms, it goes into my chest.”

Added November 21, 2006

Well, this morning as I was leaving for work, Naomi said to me, “Goodbye, Dad, don’t be a slacker … or a weasel … or a goober … like Uncle Phil!

Naomi’s First Piercings: Preparing for and Celebrating Her 3rd birthday …

Naomi poses with some of her favorite pictures as a backdrop.

This past Friday was Naomi’s birthday. She has known for a while, and been talking about, two other things that would happen when she turned three:

  • One, she would get her ears pierced,
  • and second, her pacifers would go in the trash before she got her presents.

The big day came, and we headed to Wal-mart to get her ears pierced. A couple of days before I was having second thoughts about doing it, and then on Friday while I was filling out the form I was really having second thoughts; I nearly walked out. NaNi had to use the potty and that gave me an opportunity to settle down. She, of course, was fine.

We got back and I selected the earrings. I got to leave Naomi in the carriage for better positioning and also to keep her better constrained.

They do both ears at the same time. Both ladies approached her from the side and I stood in front of her. They did it. Naomi didn’t make a sound until they stepped away, and then she cried, but a muffled cry and held me close and kept saying, “it hurt.” She cried for a few minutes and was done.

The reason I was concerned was because I didn’t want any mistakes on putting the earrings too low, and also the pain factor. They did a great job, and her earrings look beautiful.

A rather “toothy” photo, but here’s our princess!

As for the pacifers, I recall before she got her presents that she had them in her hand. She actually gave one to her Dad, but what happened to the others we didn’t know.

At bedtime, she was fussy after having a jammed-packed day—during which she was totally sweet and adorable—but by bedtime she was beyond tired, and desperately wanted the pacifer, which we found. She did throw one away, but kept claiming, “I only have one.”

Basically, Doug and I caved and let her have the one that night; on Sunday I took the pacifer and tossed it. She did so much better the second night, and has been fine without it.

Naomi with MacKenzie Miller: These princesses aren’t afraid to get dirty.

Isaac and David were only two when I took theirs away, and it wasn’t an issue with either of them. But I couldn’t do it that early with Naomi. The other difference was when the boys were three months old, I said, they would then sleep in their own bedrooms. Naomi was five months old. Guess with her being my last baby, I needed to hold on a little longer.

Going along with the theme of her party, which started at “princess” and was expanded to a more general fantasy theme to accommodate the boys who would be attending, I made her a princess and castle cake, complete with a Barbie doll with a dress made of fondant. That was a lot of fun! (Doug said he liked an earlier version of the doll better.) I made the cakes on Friday night and decorated them early Saturday morning. Naomi got out her rolling pin and I gave her some fondant and powdered sugar to play with. She had a ball. (She had sugar up to her shoulders and through her hair.) I haven’t put that much detail into a cake in years, although I did cheat and used a mix.

All the time Nichelle spends watching cooking shows is paying off …

I was also able to make her a bed-in-a-bag to match her newly painted bedroom, deep pink and purple w/ the princess decor. Naomi helped me paint, too. She did a very neat job, I was surprised. I gave her my small roller, she wore her smock and had a ball. It’s been a busy month and a half working on the kids bedrooms (David’s is next to be done) and preparing for her birthday party, but what a blessing to be able to do it all! I do praise and thank God for all that has taken place. It does seem that I’ve been well for ages, but it’s only been since July. It’s been wonderful!!

Naomi with one of the many dress-up items she received as a gift. She loves playing dress-up.

Thank you to all who helped with various tasks. Couldn’t have pulled it off without your help. Hey, Phil and Cindy, I found my balloon pump while I was searching for my crafting supplies. 🙂 We had many friends and family join us to celebrate NaNi’s third year and what a blast it was. Everything went so well and the weather was beautiful. The kids got to “slay the dragon” and that was hilarious. The dragon (Doug) stole the loot for the piñata, and the kids needed to slay the dragon in order to capture the loot. What fun they had, and the dragon, too.

Some of the many warriors who attended Naomi’s party pose before venturing off to slay the dragon.

This dragon has been slain!

It was present time and Naomi’s expression upon opening each of her presents was lovely. She beamed with each one. She was a completely gracious hostess.

NaNi opening a CD gift—the soundtrack from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, one of her absolute favorite movies. She was so thrilled with every gift, and always remembered to say, “Thank you.”

Thank you to everyone for making her day so wonderful. We have loads of pictures, ones that we’ve taken and from others, too. Those should be up in a couple of days. So please check back. You’ll love them.

More pictures as promised.

Sancocho, Canis Lupus, and More


We have been awaiting a truly delicious traditional Dominican meal—sancocho—for several months now. (Doug: One of us had resorted to pleading and begging.) On Friday we were invited over to the DaLaCruz’s home for such a rich and delicious meal and also a great time with Mahli and Miguel and their family and friends. The aroma from this meal really brought us back to our visits of the Dominican Republic. How we long to be back there! (Perhaps next year.)

Canis Lupus

Friday night we got the kids excited about a surprise trip we were going to take on Saturday morning. All they knew was that they were going to woken up early and then we’d be off. We managed to get out the door before 8:30 a.m. (and for us on a Saturday was extremely impressive).

I made breakfast sandwiches and got other snacks and we were out the door. The trip was wonderful. The scenery was spectacular. During the trip, we had the occasional inturrption of “noise” such as: “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” but, besides that, it was peaceful. We were headed for the Wolf and Wild Canine Sanctuary in White River Junction, Vermont. We really picked an ideal weekend to go. Such breathtaking views.

Mica is the most handsome wolf I’ve ever met.

Some of you may be wondering, “A wolf sanctuary? Why?” We had purchased a six-month wolf adoption, after learning about it from Beth Costine’s BLOG, for Isaac’s 11th birthday, and the adoption includes visitation privileges. This was our first trip up there. Isaac’s wolf is named Magic, but my favorite was Mara and then Mica. All of the wolves are beautiful. (Doug: They are all beautiful, but I think Mica was by far the best looking.)

When we arrived at our destination, Isaac recognized the name and beamed. David and Naomi were thrilled, too. I couldn’t wait to see them and the same with Doug. We were greeted by the owner, Peter Porter, and he gave us the tour.

Pete Porter certainly loves his wolves, and vice-versa.

David was the only one of us Magic would approach closely. That weasel!

The first wolf we met was Mica. He was simply lovely. We could, through the fence, pet them and have them give “wolf kisses.” We all had that opportunity to do that with each of the wolves. Although, Magic wouldn’t come very close to us, except for David. That lucky weasel!

The last wolf we met was Mara. She’s not 100% wolf, and appears to be part Siberian husky and part collie. She was very gentle, considering her size, but very playful.

This plywood, guaranteed for 50 years, lasted only about 3 weeks in the kennel with Magic.

To top off the entire trip, Peter had asked Isaac if he would like to go in the kennel along with him. Isaac turned him down. (Yeah, right!) Isaac headed in, and Mara was right there to great him. Doug had the camcorder running and took many pictures. We were told that Mara loves children and she really does. She was all over Isaac and he loved every minute of it. David got a turn in there, too.

Isaac gets “wolf kisses” from Mara.

Peter also gave us a tour of his “man room” I believe that’s the name his wife gave it. It holds his hunting trophies of many kinds (perhaps most impressive was a huge boar skull) along with other “toys.”

Looking down on the wolf pens and exercise area from the entrance to the “man room” above the garage.

What an experience we had! It was a treat for all of us and I/we do hope to return before the adoption expires, but I am certain we will renew it. David has also mentioned wanting one for his birthday.

Isaac with Pete Porter in the background. Naomi actually took this photo.

… and More!

After we left the Sanctuary, we headed to Queechee Gorge and had a great hike and some time to climb on the rocks.

Looking down into the Quechee Gorge.

Before we got to the base of the gorge, we stopped along the way so the kids to catch the falling leaves. Simple things, but very sweet and many great memories.

Naomi, Nichelle, and Isaac during our hike at the Quechee Gorge.

I also had the opportunity to watch my husband walk up a tree (30 footer) that had fallen down over the riverbed. I was, of course, concerned for him, but one of the things that went through my mind was what would happen to the camcorder and digital camera if he had fallen. Twisted, I know. (Doug: I thought about the cameras, too, but once I started, there was no way I was going back down; it took a lot of nerve for me to walk along the tree, and I’m actually surprised—although glad—that I did it.)

There I stood, on what had once been nearly the top of a large tree, now fallen, facing the deadly 30 or 40 feet upward slope of the fallen trunk. Gripping the dead branches tightly, I forced myself to breathe more slowly. After standing there several minutes, I took a baby step. Then I let go of the branches, and tried not to look down onto the jagged rocks below. After a few more minutes, I was able to take another baby step or two, and soon passed beyond the reach of supporting branches. Slowly, I took a couple of regular steps. Then I discovered if I crouched down very slightly, and stared at the tree trunk, I could actually move fairly rapidly without succumbing to rising panic. Moving increasingly rapidly, without daring to look back, I reached the roots at the base of the overturned tree. I was elated! I jumped down about 6 feet from the trunk, with a grin of accomplishment on my face … then grin turned to an expression of panic when I discovered that the brush underneath the tree had hidden a very steep slope, down which I was starting to tumble.

Ah, yes, the memory of seeing my husband jump down off the tree which was on an incline, which he hadn’t noticed. He jumped and then slid. He was fine, but I was glad he was finished with his “climbing” that day. All in all, it was a great weekend.

I should also add that today, Sunday, was my second time back in choir since December, 2005. This coming Sunday I actually get to sing in service. I have longed to be back in that portion of ministry for such a long time and the time has finally arrived. Special music, here I come. I’ve been healthy, nearly perfectly healthy since July. I’m thankful and grateful for all that I’m able to do. So, to all that have been in prayer for me and my family, many, many thanks to you, and please do continue to pray.

Adventures in Movement

For the past several weeks I had been longing to take Naomi—the boys, too—but especially Naomi, to the farm/petting zoo in Candia, N.H. Well, today, just three hours before they closed, we got everyone together and headed to Charmingfare Farm.

We had been there in the past for their hay rides and bonfires on a couple of church activities. This time we were able to explore the whole farm. That’s right, I said, “we”! I made it through, and saw all the animals, too, I walked the whole way. Of course I was a bit sluggish by the end, but it was worth it. We had a great time. We were also able to get tickets for a pony ride for each of the kids. They loved that. We have loads of pictures and video on all that took place. Watching the kids feed the animals was great as well, especially the goats.

On the way home, I suggested to Doug that we call the Sohmer family and see if we can visit. It’s so rare that we make it up to their area. So very glad we were able to drop in and say hello. I was thinking it was going to be a short visit, but we ended up hanging out until 9:30. How impressive is that! We got to meet their newest family member, Gabriella Danielle Li Ying Sohmer. What a sweetie. Doug took lots of pictures of her, too. She’s newly adopted, just two weeks or less now, from China. What a wonderful story they have to share. It was indeed a great blessing to be with the Sohmers again. Thank you guys for your hospitality, too. Love you.

Not so bad for me, it’s nearly 11 p.m. and I’m doing quite well, and for all of that the praise goes to God. What a blessing to be able to do more than just the “little things” again. For all that have been praying for us, thank you. 🙂

Sunday morning came and I was able to join the family and go to church even after a busy day on Saturday. Last week and also today, I decided to go to junior church with Doug and help teach. What a blessing! I haven’t been in class with the kids in many, many months. Hearing their sweet voices singing praises … how I’ve missed being with them, too. I had hoped to go on another shopping trip this afternoon, but the pain was back and said to me, “Yeah, right.”

To be with my church family, to hear preaching (in person), to give prayer requests and to take those that are shared, to give praise and to hear how God is working in the lives of other members, to be able to give and receive a hug and words of encouragement, to be a blessing and to receive one. To all of those things, I give thanks and praise to God for each opportunity that I am able to partake in a service.

[Note from Doug: While Nichelle was feeling better, I was worse than I’d been in years. More on that later … We’ll try to get pictures up tomorrow night.]

Another great day on Monday. Last night at about 10:30 I finally layed down to rest a bit and realized that I had gone the entire day, even with a much earlier start to my day and worked and cleaned without the need to nap. I’m of course thrilled. Keep the prayers coming. 🙂

I got to go out on a Saturday and shop … amazing!!

This afternoon we left to drop Isaac off at his friend Cody’s house, which also gave Naomi and David the opportunity to use Cody’s trampoline (which Doug did tape for future viewing). Thank you, Langlois family.

I had an opportunity to chat with Cody’s Mom, too, which was great. Once we were done there, we went to Wal-Mart. Big deal for me, I actually managed to pick out clothes and shoes and try them on, while Doug took David and Naomi to buy the other items on the list. It was getting a “bit” unbearable by the time I hit the shoe aisle, but I was able to make it through the rest of the store, before the awful pain hit my back and legs. Naomi and I made it back to the van, extremely slowly, while Doug paid for the carriage full of items that we needed. I’ve needed several breaks since being home, but I’m still going, perhaps not as strong as earlier today, but still going, and that in itself is a huge blessing.