We have reached the shortest, darkest day of the year.  The sun sets early and the wind blows cold.  The sidewalks are icy and anxious holiday shoppers honk at other drivers in crowded parking lots.  The to-do lists multiply as the year rushes to its close.  It is easy to become despondent during these cold, dark, hectic days.

And yet, there is hope.  The Christmas lights twinkle on the newly fallen snow as we prepare again to celebrate the birth of a Child in Bethlehem.  Just as surely as we know the light will return, we also know that our Savior has come.


The light will return, the days will grow longer, and just as we reach the longest, lightest day of the year, another child will be due to arrive.   This year, the winter solstice also means the end of my first trimester, and the beginning of the second.  It means looking forward in anticipation as we wait for our the arrival of our new baby with the beginning of summer.

Merry Christmas, dear Solstice Baby!  We can’t wait to meet you!




Easter Celebration

easterboys1This evening as I write, it is snowing outside.  Honestly, I doubt that many of us in Western New York are surprised. We were more surprised, and quite delighted, with the gorgeous warm weather of Easter Sunday.  Our family had planned a nice Easter dinner, but after the events of the morning, we were quite exhausted.  Instead, we scrapped our dinner plans and spent the afternoon napping and then playing outside.  The big boys hid eggs for Walter, and once he figured out there were little cookies inside, he quite enjoyed his first Easter egg hunt!  We discovered that he does not like to walk on the grass because it is too bumpy for him and makes him feel unstable.  We consequently had to move all the eggs to the edge of the sidewalk.  I guess the activity could be more accurately labeled “Easter egg gathering” rather than “Easter egg hunting.”

After gathering eggs and eating cookies, Walter enjoyed a ride in the stroller as we walked around the neighborhood, and Thomas and Jack ran off to play with their friends.  The entire neighborhood was ringing with children’s happy voices.  It was lovely.

And for dinner?  We ordered pizza!  It was one of the best decisions we made the entire day.  We still set the table with nice plates, and even candles.  We traditionally give up lighting candles for Lent.  Back when David and I were young newlyweds we would give up Doritos and Coke.  Now we are a bit more health conscious, and needless to say, there really aren’t any Doritos or Cokes to give up! (Or caffeine, or chocolate, or Facebook, at least for me. It’s like my whole life is Lent.)  So we give up candles.  It’s kind of like giving up the “Alleluia” in church.  Everything is a bit more somber until Easter Sunday arrives.  Then we light the candles again because Jesus, the Light of the World, has risen from the dead!

We ate our candlelight pizza, and we talked about what it was like for the disciples that first Easter evening.  I don’t have any pictures because we were too busy enjoying one another’s company.  After supper, everyone stayed together in the living room and just played until Walter’s bedtime.  We were not somber.  On the contrary, I’m sure that Walter banged all his lids, and there may have even been a party horn involved.  Throw the balls!  Bang the lids!  Blow your party horn!  Jesus is alive!












Autumn Again


About this time last year, I wrote a post about autumn in Delaware Park.  Walter was still a newborn; I typed with one hand, and held him with the other.  Several posts were completed in this fashion.  Then the holidays arrived, and with them came the arrival of “real life” once more.  I kept meaning to get back to this page.  Here I am, a year later!

Autumn has been good to us again this year.  Winter was interminable, spring was rather short, summer was just so-so, but autumn has been good.   Think of that statement as a comparison rather than a complaint.  Truthfully, all the seasons have been good and filled with blessing, but autumn seems especially so.

This autumn, Walter turned one.  He is the delight of the family.  He is cruising, but not yet walking; babbling, but not yet saying words; sleeping well, but not yet sleeping through the night; getting bigger, but not really growing hair.  He loves to eat, he loves his brothers, and his newest source of pleasure is flopping down on his tummy to go down the slide at the playground





Thomas and Jack have been delightful in their own ways.  They have been busy with music and hockey, and have kept us busy as chauffeurs.  Oddly, I usually don’t mind all the hockey runs.  It takes a little bit of planning and a little bit of food to keep Walter occupied, but it’s nice to get out of the house!

The weather has been beautiful so we try to get out of the house on a regular basis.  We enjoy the once colorful and now fallen leaves, the deep blue skies, and the golden sunlight.  We come in, drink apple cider, and munch on corn chips while feeding Walter his yogurt.  We turn on the white Christmas lights and light a candle as the sun goes down on these ever-shortening days.  The house is cozy, but not quiet.  There is a perpetual undercurrent of activity as the five of us and the cat share our days and nights together.



That is my autumn update.  I feel like I’ve written a Christmas letter!  Perhaps I’ll write again sometime, and perhaps next time I won’t wait an entire year!



Fourteen Days and Delaware Park: 10/31-11/13



  • Scored his first hockey goal of the season.
  • Backed-up my old, dying laptop and set up my new one.  Thanks, Thomas!
  • Was not too old to enjoy our afternoon with friends at the park.




  • Went trick-or-treating dressed up as “Everything Man.”
  • Finished watching Liberty’s Kids, and immediately incorporated what he learned in his dramatic play.
  • Was the only child at the playground wearing a blue cape.




  • Spent a lot of time hanging out on the kitchen table.
  • Seemed to gain more control of his hands.  His movements may be unconscious, but even so, he bats at his toys and moves his pacifier in the general direction of his mouth.
  • Marked the one month anniversary of his birth.
  • Weighed in at the pediatrician’s office at seven pounds, twelve ounces.
  • Went on his first outing to Delaware Park.



Welcome, Walter



Walter Christian Duke

Born October 2, 2014

 9:53 AM

Weighing 7 pounds, 0 ounces


Baptized into God’s Family

October 11, 2014

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Tonawanda, New York


Loved by


Mommy, Daddy, Thomas, Jack,

and many others.


 I can sing lullabies again, and I am so thankful:

 Thankful for all the people who have graced us with

their help and  presence,

their cards and gifts,

their thoughts and prayers.

Thankful for the nurses and doctors dedicated to keeping mom and baby healthy.

 Thankful for an uncomplicated delivery and a speedy recovery.

Thankful for David, who was home when it was time to go to the hospital,

Thankful for Thomas and Jack, who have been quick to love their new brother and help their mom.

I thank God for orchestrating all of this so beautifully, and I thank Him for giving us Walter.  Our baby boy is healthy, tiny, and wonderful.  We are so very blessed.

Welcome to the family, Walter!  We’re so glad you’ve arrived!


Flower Visualization

During my morning yoga practice, I’ve been incorporating a little visualization exercise that I might use during labor. Blooming flowers are a picturesque metaphor for the birthing process so I picked eight of my favorite flowers to visualize.

I thought I’d share my selections with you.  Enjoy!













queen ann's lace

queen ann’s lace

morning glory

morning glory




Fourteen Days: 5/23-6/5



  • Got his braces off.
  • Joined the Fiddle Club at BSS.  He said his first rehearsal was fun.
  • Declared that the baby “ought to learn about electronics.”
  • Worked with Dad to move the said electronics down to a table in the basement and spent many hours there.  Now all the lights, beeps, and buzzes are out of the office!




  • Was excited about my ultrasound.  When I arrived home, he met me at the door and said, “Well?”
  • Played catch with Dad out back.  He has a good left-handed throwing arm.  Dad called him “Pepper.”  (He’s pretty good at catching too.)
  • Told me that reading is his fourth favorite thing  – after hockey, Minecraft, and riding his bike.
  • Helped me gather flowers in the Pokey Woods meadow.




  • Had his first pictures taken at nineteen weeks gestation, and we found out that they were indeed HIS pictures.
  • Did not hold very still for his portrait session.  No wonder I’m already feeling kicks!



An Announcement

I went to the doctor’s office and heard a little heartbeat today.


My blog has been dormant for the past few months, but God has been busy creating.  And so in this season of new life, it seems fitting to tell you all that we are expecting a baby!  We are eagerly anticipating Baby’s arrival in late October.

We are feeling blessed by God and loved by family and friends.  Thanks to those of you who have already lavished us with your support, prayers, and well-wishes!


Thanksgiving Report 2: Weather


We have snow!  The snow began late on Tuesday afternoon and continued on and off through late Thanksgiving night.  We have about four inches on the ground, and Jack has been over the moon with excitement.  He went outside early on Wednesday when there was still just a dusting, and I think he gathered all the snow in the driveway to make snowballs.  Both boys have been outside several times since.  I just keep tossing their snow clothes in the dryer so they are ready for the next round.

Today we went to our friends’ land to go sledding.   The setting was so peaceful, away from the malls and the crowds.  The sun was sparkling on the snow, and the sky was a brilliant blue.  We saw fresh deer tracks in the snow, and we added ours as we tromped up and down the hills.




David got in on the action and took some video:

Tonight we will be thankful for winter come to our section of the country and for generous friends who share their winter beauty us.


Savoring the Season


Our homeschool year is in full swing.  We are doing the work of learning, work that includes early morning hockey practices, violin and cello lessons, Sunday afternoon science experiments, and plenty of math and reading.  One of Jack’s reading selections is Frederick by Leo LionniFrederick is the story of a little family of mice who all seem to be busy getting ready for winter – all except for Frederick:

“Frederick,” why don’t you work?” they asked.

“I do work,” said Frederick.

“I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days.”

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, staring at the meadow, they said, “And now, Frederick?”

“I gather colors,” answered Frederick simply, “For winter is gray.”

And once Frederick seemed half asleep.  “Are you dreaming, Frederick?” they asked reproachfully.

But Frederick said, “Oh no, I am gathering words.  For the winter days are long and many, and we’ll run out of things to say.”

~ from Frederick by Leo Lionni, published by Alfred A Knopf, Inc. 1967

I suppose we have been engaged in some Frederick-like work as well.  The autumn blue sky beckons, and we set aside our indoor pursuits.  We are off to the park, to the apple orchard, or to our friends’ 20 acres.  We soak in the sunshine and the colors, just like Frederick.





Back at home we continue our savoring as we cook some of the apples we have picked, and yes, even carve out time for a Halloween celebration.



The days are getting shorter; Daylight Savings Time is expiring even as I write.  But as the cold, dark, winter days approach, we plan to be well stocked with memories of autumn warmth, light, and fun.