Monday, December 26, 2011

The Truth About Santa...

As the Christmas season began this year I came across a blog post written by Martha Brockenbrough from last year.  I don't know a lot about Martha Brockenbrough other than she has two daughters named Alice and Lucy and she is a writer but I fell in love with her post titled, "The Truth About Santa". I had planned to share it on my blog earlier on in the month but things don't always go as planned. The truth about Loretta is that she doesn't always have enough time for the things that she would love to do, like blogging. :)  But despite my harried life right now I wanted to share this profoundly written post by Martha telling her daughter, Lucy, the truth about Santa.  It makes me tear up each time I read it. 

A few months back, the Tooth Fairy got busted. She left a note for Alice up on her computer, and Lucy figured the whole business out. The Tooth Fairy cursed her need to write notes in elaborate fonts and tried to come up with a cover story, but it didn’t fool Lucy.
To her credit, Lucy has kept the secret from her little sister, who still hasn’t lost a tooth and deserves to wake up with money under her pillow.

But the Tooth Fairy knew it couldn’t be too long before Santa was similarly unmasked. She didn’t know when or how, but she knew the days of magic in her house, at least magic of a certain sort, were coming to an end.
And the Tooth Fairy—by which I mean myself—was pretty darned sad about the inevitable, which finally arrived last week.

Lucy and I have been exchanging notes since the school year started. We’ve talked about all sorts of things—sports, books we’d like to read, adventures we’d like to have, even stories from when I was in third grade. For the most part, though, it’s been light, casual stuff. Until last week.
I NEED TO KNOW, she wrote, using capital letters for emphasis. ARE YOU SANTA? TELL ME THE TRUTH.

What do you do when your kid asks for the truth? You tell it, of course, doing your best to figure out a way that keeps at least some of the magic intact.
Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Valenta's! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Autumn's Loveliest Smile...

"Autumn, the year's last loveliest smile." :)
~William Cullen Bryan~

It has been a lovely autumn, indeed.  I have enjoyed the changing leaves, the cooling temperatures and the inching toward winter that always stirs excitement in me.  The trees are bare now, the remnant of the autumn wind. Seemingly over night the leaves danced off the trees when no one was looking.


Thanksgiving is coming in just a few days. 
As a family we have so much to be thankful for. :)

"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;"
~Colossians 4:2~

Sunday, November 6, 2011

12 Years and Nine Days Old

Annah had a birthday on October 28th.  Yes, it is now November 6th. 
Finally I have a birthday blog post for Annah.  :)  

A lot of things have changed over the years as Annah has grown. For instance, she doesn't suck her thumb anymore or wear a crown.

She's grown a lot taller than the flowers she loved
at her Nanny and Poppy's house.

She doesn't fall asleep just anywhere anymore.

She doesn't fit in her favorite red shoes
that she insisted on wearing
even when they were too small.

And she doesn't wear her brother's
clothes much anymore.

 But she still does have a thing for shoes!  :)

And we still love to celebrate her being in our family!

Happy Birthday, Annah!  We love you!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Safety

Halloween is coming.  Please protect your precious cargo by restraining your pumpkins. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Jordan got home last Thursday and what a great day it was!  The anticipation of his arrival was beyond words.  Beginning on Wednesday night we tracked his flight leaving Brazil at 9:45 pm and when I woke up several times in the middle of the night I would think about where he would be at that particular time arriving in Florida, boarding a flight for Texas and finally, headed home to Kentucky!
I had it in my mind for the past month that his arrival time was 1:40 pm on Thursday, October 13th.  I had told his best friend, Donnie, Jordan was arriving at that time and Donnie made plans to meet us at the airport. As I gathered things together that morning I picked up Jordan's itinerary and gave it one more look and it was a *really* good thing I did.  As I looked again at his arrival time it was actually for 12:40 pm!!!  I don't know how I missed that but I was thankful that we caught my mistake early enough to still make it to the airport in time to get him!  

In the pouring rain Tim and the girls put up letters on the garage door that spelled out "Welcome Home Jordan".  They had to hang the letter up high on the door because of the rain.  At least up high they were a little sheltered from the rain. 

On Monday night we had made a FINISH LINE banner for Jordan and wrote all kinds of fun things on it.  He is a runner and in his last letters of his mission he compared the ending of his mission to running a race.  He said that in a race you can't slow down at the end, that you have to keep on going just as fast.  He didn't want to slow down at the end of his mission; he wanted to keep going just as he had been.  So, we made him a finish line to greet him at the airport. We all laughed when Abigail thought she was looking up phrases she wanted to write in Portuguese but it was actually set for Spanish so the banner has some Spanish phrases on it! :)

So we waited at the airport with our banner and our balloons.  His flight arrived and we were so anxious to see him coming down the escalator.  Except, he didn't come.  We waited and waited.  Lots of other people came down but not Jordan.  Some ladies came down and commented on the FINISH LINE sign and asked who that was for. We said that our son was returning home from serving a mission in Brazil for 2 years and to that they exclaimed that they had sat next to him on the plane!  Well, that was good news to at least know that he was on the flight!!!  We were beginning to think he missed the flight! The ladies said what a nice young man he was and that he had said he wanted pancakes and eggs when he got home!  We laughed and said that he had told us he wanted barbecue and cold root beer and that we hoped he wasn't disappointed with our choice of where to take him for dinner that night! The ladies stepped off to the side to get their luggage and then came back over and said, "We want to see him when he comes down!"  So they waited with us, perfect strangers who wanted to see our happy reunion with our son.  That made me smile. 

We continued to wait, and wait and wait.  Finally nearly 20 minutes after the flight had arrived Jordan made his descent down the escalator.  (He later confessed he was delayed because he stopped by the bathroom and took his time because he knew that I had said in my e-mail that his flight was coming in at 1:40 so he figure we wouldn't be there waiting for him!) First we saw only shoes but as those moving stairs carried him ever closer he came into full view.  What a wonderful sight it was to see him in person after 2 years away.  I swear he got taller but his eyes were the same and so was his smile.  

Donnie got Jordan coming down the escalator and breaking through his FINISH LINE banner on video. We posted it on Facebook for the world to see. :)  It's embarrassing to see yourself on video crying and to have your friends say, "You were sobbing!"  Yes I was.  

After the video we did a few still pictures.  This one is Jordan with his brothers and sisters (minus young Tim -- how we wished Tim and Lisa were able to be there with us.) and his best friend, Donnie.  Jordan and Donnie have known each other since 2nd grade.  Donnie wrote to Jordan while he was gone, something a lot of "friends" say they will do but didn't necessarily do.   

After the airport we came home until it was time for Jordan to be officially released from being a missionary.  It wasn't until 6:00 pm Thursday night that that would happen so we brought him home, fed him a few McDonald's cheeseburgers and some fries that we picked up on the way home and gave him ice cold root beer. :) 

He filled in the last remaining circle that counted the days he was gone.  He looked around the house catching up on his surroundings.  We asked him lots of questions and played some Catch Phrase (a family favorite!) and laughed...a lot.  :) 

Jordan was released by Sam Thomas that evening. We took a group picture afterwards, just like we took a group picture when we was set apart 2 years ago. 

October 2009

October 2011

After Jordan's release we took him to a barbecue place called JJ McBrewster's and had some really good food and Jordan got to use an iPhone for the first time!!!!  It's amazing how technology changes in 2 years!

Jordan and Andrew

After dinner we headed home and we did what we always like to do.  I turn the camera to the backseat, hold it up and count to three and CLICK!  It's any one's guess what we'll get and that is what makes it fun! :) 

So, Jordan is home with us once again.  We are enjoying hearing about his experiences and stories from Brazil. In the course of 2 years he has grown into a great young man and his faith in God has grown immeasurably. 

These are one of the pairs of shoes that Jordan had on his mission. After miles and miles of walking day after day they wore out.  It made me smile that he just put them in a plastic bag, Brazilian dust and all, and brought them home.  I had to take a picture of them.  They tell a story -- a wonderful story of a mission well served.    

Another chapter now begins for Jordan.  He is busy looking for a job, getting reacquainted with his friends, and adjusting to life again. While he was away we counted the days till he came back home.  Now it seems that we are counting a little differently.....  compliments of Abigail and Annah. :)  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Letters...

For two years I have written Wednesday letters. I am not sure I will know what to do with myself when next Wednesday rolls around.  I have loved writing to Jordan and being able to share with him not only the events of the week but also my thoughts on his accomplishments and challenges on his mission, scriptures that I really liked or a talk I heard in church. It was exciting waiting to get a response from him each Wednesday afternoon.  Jordan never missed a week of writing.  What a gift that was to me as I would have been worried sick if he had.  I need to remember to thank him for that. 

I will miss our Wednesday letters but having him back home will be even better than Wednesday letters.  :)  
 The countdown on the white board in the kitchen!

 Jordan the night before he left for Brazil.  :)

Jordan early in the morning at the airport heading for Brazil
October 2009
This is the picture that made my father cry.
He was so proud of Jordan for serving a mission.
And so are we. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Last Letter to Jordan

In two days Jordan will be home.  I thought that my last letter to him was last week but it turns out he will probably be able to check and write email one last time before leaving Brazil on Wednesday. After two years of weekly letter writing I sent him this: 

Dear Jordan,
It's your turn for dishes on Thursday night.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

What Snake?

This afternoon I was in the kitchen getting a drink of water when Tim came in through the garage door and said, "What should we do with this snake?"  I flatly said, "What snake?" thinking he was kidding with me.  Then his reply came, "The snake on the kitchen floor!"  UGH! 

Sure enough there WAS a snake on the kitchen floor!  The cat was sitting near it so our first thought was the cat caught it and brought it in through the cat door.  Yeah, I like that thought, except for the fact it didn't seem to be the slightest bit hurt when Tim was trying to get him out using a broom and dust pan! 

Tim got him out of the house but I can't stop thinking about the snake! 
How did the snake get in? 
How long was it been inside? 
And, more importantly, are there more?
It just gives me the creeps to think about it! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

One Week From Today...

One week from today our boy comes home from Brazil! We are all so anxious to see him, to hug him, and hear all about the experiences he has had during mission!    

From a little boy...

Jordan and his dad May 1998

To a man, seemingly overnight.
Contagem, Brazil 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Girls Will Be Girls....

A few weeks ago Abigail had her friend, Lauren, stay over night. Having had 4 boys first we got used to the way it was with boy sleepovers.  Boy sleepovers are much quieter than girl sleepovers. :)  That said, the girl sleepovers are often more entertaining.  For instance.... 

Abigail and Lauren decided to do some face painting.  Abigail started.  She drew a rather cute unicorn on Lauren's cheek.

Then it was Lauren's turn.... 
We really don't know what Lauren was trying to make. 
We decided she was thinking reindeer with a red nose
and antlers on Abigail's forehead. 

Then Lauren changed her mind and wanted to make a unicorn on Abigail.  But the unicorn wasn't cute.  In fact, it looked kind of...scary!

So, how do you fix a scary looking unicorn? 
Well, you put white stripes on the horn and add a gold mane to it, of course! 

I didn't think it did the trick and apparently neither did Abigail!


Then Lauren had another idea.....

Oh yeah...this is going to be better.....


And speaking of girls.....
Jacob was invited to a get together with some friends
and the girl that invited him told him to bring an apron. 
"The more embarrassing, the better," she said. 

And of course the girl that invited him "forgot" her apron! 
I think he was set up!

I guess girls will be girls...
and so will boys! (when the girls are cute!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

October Comes Knocking....

I can't believe that September is almost gone and October is knocking at the door.  It's wasn't that long ago that summer was making an exit and snapping us back to the reality of early mornings and unyielding school schedules.  And now here we are a few weeks away from fall break. Incredible! 

A little about school this year....

Jacob is in his senior year. All kidding aside, how did this happen? I remember vividly his wide, blue eyes dancing with excitement to begin Kindergarten and now, with only one year left, his still wide, blue eyes are dancing with excitement as he looks to his future and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Jacob September 2011

And Abigail, the once timid, teeth clinching little girl who was afraid to start school because, as she said, "someone will get in love with me!" is now stepping undaunted into her first year of high school!  Yes, we are inching ever closer to someone getting in love with her.

And Annah, our timid as a mouse little girl, (who couldn't even say "here" when attendance was called until the end of the year in pre-school) is now in middle school and growing up before our eyes!  And no, she is no longer terribly shy, thankfully.

  Annah, Jen, Abigail and Julie
September 2011
As October comes knocking we have more than just fall break to look forward to. October also brings Jordan home from Brazil after two years on his mission!

It is a lovely time of year with both the change in weather and the change in *where* Jordan calls home. Just two more weeks to go! :)