Thursday, December 31, 2009


Here we find Amos, happily playing in the snow that he loves. I just wish this dog didn't shed. He's pretty cute. Until he requires more cleaning around the house than five children do. The boys know he's on thin ice. They've been offering to pay for all his care. Little do they know, it's not the money.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


If you have ever been able to visit, you know that Steve and I like to let our guests hold our baby. But it is a challenge, because Sammy does not like to let you hold our baby. Before you get a chance to have us offer a hold, he'll already be in my ear asking for her. If you get close to her with intentions of taking a baby, he'll ask you if he can hold her first. If you think you're pretty hot stuff and actually take your chance to hold her, he will hover around you, kissing her, touching her and saying, "Can I hold her? Because she is MINE." You will feel highly uncomfortable with saying 'no' and not quite know what to do. We will call him over and ask him to stop ... but he is a slippery little thing and will find some other way to pester you.

Until he gets what he wants.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A little something

I've had this little draft sitting in my posts for a long time. So I'll use it. Here are some pictures of Miriam when she was one or two weeks old. I'd have to look in my files to see and since she came down with her first cold this morning, I'm not taking time to do it.

Miriam has been a perfect joy to all of us. She is loved by everyone and snuggled and overly smothered with kisses and hugs and holds by the two youngers. They are all quite patient with her if she cries. Sammy asks anyone who is holding her, "Can I hold her? Because she is MINE." And Silas repeats over and over again, "Tan I hol' him? Tan I hol' him?"

A little sleep smile that was the precursor of all the real smiles we are getting these days. Miriam is a very social little girl. She seems to have smiled and cooed earlier than any of the other babies. She prefers to be held nearly 24 hours out of each day. Plenty of us here are happy to comply.
Steve took three weeks off work when Miri was born. It was just right to keep me from getting as sick as I have with our first three babies. We also had a lovely Christmas as a family. The addition has reached a relaxing point now that our carpet was placed two days before Christmas. The boys are moved into their rooms. The things that remain aren't on a time deadline other than me wanting to park the van in the garage again.
We're spending this week playing with our family Christmas gift ... ping pong ... and doing cleaning and organizing. It would also be nice to have a few days where chores and breakfast are all completed by 8:30 before next week arrives and school begins again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our little arrival

We are so pleased to welcome our precious little girl. The whip cream (not the cherry, because I don't like those) on the ice cream sundae that is four boys.

Miriam Aleda Grace Vossler was born Wednesday afternoon on Veteran's Day (we think she chose that in honor of her uncle, USAF Captain Joel Gietzen) at 4:42pm. She weighed in at 7lbs 10oz.

I get discharged this morning to one proud papa and four excited boys. These boys have only seen their sister through Skype. That was a lot of fun. Silas and Sammy just wanted to see the baby and bring her home right then (hours old). Eli bounced around the room hollering, "We have a baby! This is so exciting! I think I'm going to faint! This is the best day of her LIFE!" And Jake got a sweet smile and said, "I love her already."

This year's flu craziness limited me to all but two visitors total and no children. Steve thanked me for choosing him to be one of my visitors. :)

Before they come, I'll tell you that Miri is our Grandma Girl, named after her wonderful and God-loving grandmothers. Her name goes like this ~

Steve's mother is Mary ~ Miriam
My great grandmother's and my mother's middle names are Aleda ~ Aleda
My mother's name means "grace" ~ Grace

Welcome, sweet Miriam! You are so loved. We never expected a little girl to round out our family. Your brothers are so excited to finally see you and hold you. They are arguing over who gets to hold you first. Eli suggested that they all hold you at once like people lining up to hold a crocodile, but you're not THAT long. They are also discussing who gets to sit by you in the van that is now full to the brim. I have a feeling their devotion will never end.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Little bits

Sammy got his first taste of an organized sport this fall. He was on a kindergarten soccer team with his best friend and really, really loved it. Today was his last game. But he has already located an ad in our paper for indoor soccer lessons and is begging for those.

When he grows up, Sammy wants to be a firefighter like Daddy. As far as we can ascertain, this is because the fire stations have a stash of red licorice. But having the building going on all summer around here has added a lot more to his career aspirations. He calls his new career "Worker". This includes all the aspects of building - from concrete to electrical to grout. He gets all dressed up, goes outside and knocks on our front door. He has arrived for work. Silas usually joins in.

When not working, these two are usually dismantling my couches. It never fails that they spread the cushions everywhere at the same time that I need to sweep. That means I not only need to sweep, but I need to vacuum the couches ... again.

And, we can't forget the first day of school ---------------- for our nephew. I can't believe I didn't actually take first day of school pictures of my four boys! They were dressed in their most ragged clothes and so I meant to make them change and get photographed later in the day. I should have caught them while dirty. That's real.

Silas calls these his "babies" or his "boys" (just like I refer to them all as "my boys"). He has quite an array. The baby doll, courtesy of some dear friends, is his favorite. He takes pretty good care of them all. They are always covered up at night. And he only peed on the baby doll once. Little sister better watch out. Speaking of her, only four weeks to go!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New additions

A little update to catch myself up on what we've been doing around here.

In August, we had the new addition of a three year old. Silas had a birthday. Four big cousins and one wonderful grandpa happened to be here on the occasion. Si was delighted with his party, but refused to claim big boy status until the following month when he condescended to wear underwear. That has been wildly successful and we aren't allowed to call him "little" anymore. His mom is just fine with the new addition of "unnerwear" as she knows that more diapers will be newly added soon.

Turning three means you get to go to a class at church, instead of the nursery. He is thrilled to be joining his very own "tass". His Sunday School teacher commented to me that he seems to be quite a compliant child. Funny she should mention it. After all, she had Sammy before she had Si. Oh, wait ....

We have another new addition here. No, not the baby. No, not the house. It's the boys' new big brother. Well, that's what we call him. He's the nephew in the back/middle of Si's bday picture. Ariel moved in with us a little over a week ago and we are privileged to have him here! (whisper) he. does. dishes.

Missing in the picture is Jake, who was able to travel to England with my parents at that time.

Here's a shot of another of our new additions. This one IS the house. It's taken a lot of time and energy, but we are thankful every day that Steve decided not to contract it himself. The end is beginning to be in sight. Please tell our contractor that it better be before another new addition's due date; you know the baby sister!

Our annual trip (and much needed rest) at the Bend Fire cabin on Elk Lake wasn't nearly as full of frogs this year as it was full of these:

Steve took the boys on their yearly backpack trip. They had a great time together and came back home full of memories and plans to one day hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The big boys are hoping Sammy becomes more diligent in the hiking department. He was sooooooooooooooo slow.

Pokey and his puppy.
Any new additions at your house?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Will Not Be Afraid

There they are ... hollering "Fear Not!" They were a great bunch of children and we had a really fun week with them. I might have looked like a complete goofball as a pregnant songleader, but I survived the hit to my pride. And for the first time ever I think I actually did this without a little one who needed mommy. Even Super Tired Silas (falling asleep on his leader) didn't beg for me when I was up on stage.

Our church day camp includes getting regularly soaked, making actual art for crafts (instead of the suggested ones) and ending with a killer carnival.

In addition to the kind of fun which we can find at the fair or the park, I'm pretty picky about what you can't find just anywhere; accuracy to the Bible in the songs and content. This year, the curriculum we chose needed a few revisions, but in all honesty it wasn't too bad. The core message was lack of fear. I was thinking about that and realized that children really do live in fearful times. Studies show that children are quite afraid of terrorists, melting glaciers, being kidnapped, tsunamis and lost polar bears.

Even our freshly turned 3 year old has his little bitty fears. He is scared of Zartog on Space Chimps, drowning in our pool, being thrown in the air (and avoids all people he knows will do it), ....

But I was reading this morning and saw this loved verse, "... free those who through fear of death ..." There's more to it, way more. But it's that part that caught my eye. Freed from the results of fearing death. Pretty much all our fears have to do with some form of death or pain. They can trap us. Maybe we won't fly in airplanes, visit dangerous places or live in the "wrong" part of town. We might not even let our child walk on a waist high railing or climb trees.

If we go up the page a couple lines from that verse we see that Jesus died to take away the power of death from the real live devil. The power that death has over us is GONE. Believing that Jesus actually died to take away death - it makes us know-know-know that we need not fear. We should be fearless. Smart, but fearless.

Does that mean I don't wonder if Steve will get trapped in a fire? I do. Do I have to remind myself that we are guided by God and nothing will happen apart from his plan? I have to do that, too.

But, the next time you see Eli up a tree ...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I thought Violet

I thought Violet was supposed to be a bad example! Do you remember Violet from the old "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? The one who endlessly chewed gum and stored it behind her ear?

Eli thought that was a marvelous idea. In spite of my protests, I see him walking past me now and then with a wad of pink or green flashing out from behind an ear. Even though it's been going on for some time, I still do a double-take at each sighting.

I discovered yesterday that it seems he always uses the same ear. Due to all the dirt from our addition excavation (the boys play in it as endlessly as Violet chewed gum), Eli's gum location has collected dirt. At some point in time, gum obviously stayed stuck. Now there is a small, disgusting spot of caked on gum and dirt behind his ear lobe.

How in the world do you remove that? I'll take any ideas I can. Because it looks really gross.

In other news, we are doing our best to kick what appears to be a resistant strep from our family with our church day camp looming on Monday (and two parents in charge of various parts of that camp). And the last thing I want is to have Jake end up with strep. After all, he leaves shortly for a two week trip to England to visit my brother and family with my parents. That would be a much bigger bummer than Eli's gummed ear.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First the dirt

In order to re-side the back of our house, we had to rip up our deck. We didn't want to replace it because of the upkeep, thus we decided upon the "easy" task of building a new patio. Well, Steve was the builder. I made lemonade.

After getting everything built/propped/fixed - along came the dirt. Doesn't Jake look as if he is sizing up the job they're doing? He probably is.

The truck.

The dirt.
The child who was allowed to help pack the dirt down.

My child was NOT barefoot while helping operate that large, powerful machine.

And next will come the "tontrete" (as Sammy calls it).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It's possible Silas gets more than his fair share of blog exposure, but when you're two years old (three in a few short weeks!) - it's fair.

These are from earlier this spring when Silas joined me in my bed with a little treat. I decided to remain and enjoy the show. His little treasure entertained him for more than an hour.

I present to you, "Beeto".

Beeto had a happy life. Beeto lived in a little, yellow, Lego boat with Lego men. It was also a busy life. Everything out, everything in; over and over again. I most enjoyed watching Silas as he carefully fitted the Lego men into the boat and then had to search around for where Beeto had gotten himself in the ensuing time. Beeto never escaped while in his slippery home. Here's a slightly blurry picture of Home Sweet Beeto Home.

Beeto seems to make his appearance almost daily. (Don't tell Silas they aren't all the same Beeto) In fact, Beeto has been a joy for all of our little boys. One of our favorite poems stars Beeto, called "Forgiven" .
Chatting with Silas is a joy for us. Ever since he decided English was his primary language and began speaking it (thus stopping his screaming), his little voice left behind its raspy sound and I still melt whenever I hear it.
43 seconds for your enjoyment, if you so wish:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Puppy love

Silas absolutely loves our dog, Amos. I love seeing him stand next to Amos, arm draped across his back, staring off together into the distance. They move every time I try to get that shot, but this one suits me just fine ... we can even see some of the torn up deck that got turned into a new patio this week. It's so great to have that job done. Of course, now our fence is partly taken down to make room for the addition we are putting on the house. And that "adorable" dog? He thinks it's a free ticket to play the neighborhood. At least he isn't shedding on my floor while he's roaming.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Steve took Jake canoe camping last week as a special trip to mark Jake's tenth birthday. They canoed from Wickiup Reservoir down the Deschutes River, camping one night along the way.

Jake was slightly pleased to have caught himself a fish on Day 1.
Okay, more than slightly. It was a 20-inch brown trout. Not bad. Not bad. Eli made sure to rub it in by double-checking multiple times with Steve about his OWN fishing luck over the two days. Feel free to ask Steve's opinion of fishing. (insert your own mental paragraph break since blogger won't do it for me)
Jake was also delighted to discover that the fish didn't fit in the pan. He said they ate so much that he felt sick. In spite of a few downpours, they had a great time. Our other boys are definitely looking forward to their own special trip when they turn 10.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maybe in the summer

Jake is our survivor ... he wants to live in the woods all alone, fishing and scavenging plants for food - and has often begged for the chance to do so. This spring, Steve finally decided to let him have a go. Being that he is at least a tiny bit responsible, Steve decided to go with him as an emergency buffer (and so we wouldn't get reported to the authorities by any curious onlookers who might see a grown man dropping a ten year old off in the national forest).

The deal was made that he wouldn't offer any help to Jake at all unless there was an emergency (for instance, cougars or drowning or hypothermia or...). Jake finally agreed to such stringent regulations after it was pointed out to him that Steve wouldn't even TALK to him. It still allowed him to be on his own with his own tent, own supplies, own survival skills.

He does know quite a bit about such things and has poured over his book of wilderness survival (we have definitely decided to sign him up for Scouts!) - but he didn't quite count on our May weather. Here they are, ready to embark in our fancy '92 Subaru.

The day was slushing ... not raining or snowing ... it was slushing. The snow was still deep at that elevation. If it had only been cold, they would have fared better. However, it was definitely in that terrible, miserable, sopping wet, hypothermia-inducing, feet sinking kind of slush.

Before they had even finished backpacking into a good site, Jake was soaked. Having expected nice, springlike conditions (with plenty of bugs to eat!) ... Jake wisely realized that this was not a good set up and teamed up with Steve.

Even our outdoor hero, Steve, couldn't start a fire. At that point, the prospect of spending the night and more didn't seem so great. They decided on a good plan.

They headed back down to Bend and a visit to Izzy's for the hungry survivors. Jake returned home after a trip to (close your ears, union supporters) WalMart to buy the b-b gun that we had decided he would be allowed to buy. Not what he had been hoping, but at least a good ending!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A new baby

You read that right ... the announcement is at the end of the post.

Dry, central Oregon winters may generate great ski powder, but they often don't provide good snowman snow. We finally had a decent dump of wet stuff not long ago, and Sammy was more than ready for a real snowman. It turned out he needed some mommy help. Together, we managed to scrape together enough snow to create a satisfactory snowperson ... albeit one with pine needles sticking out every few inches. We were working against the clock as this snow was not very deep and was melting quickly. Sammy does occasionally smile nicely for pictures. Maybe one of those ones will show up someday.
Then came Easter. While we've had snow cover on Easter before, this one merely dawned as cold. I love shots of little, candy-eating egg hunters.

A smattering of good weather brings out the mudmaker in any self-respecting boy. It's all extremely fun until mom won't let you in the house that dirty. By then you're cold and your only option for cleanliness is the wet water from the hose. The wet water you spent all afternoon playing in ... is now your enemy. Until this child, our boys thought it was hilarious to get chased down and cleaned off in cold water.

A recent indoor activity here has been card house building. Sammy wanted proof of his extraordinary abilities ... with a card house destroyer lurking right outside the guest room door. And, yes, that is a scab on someone's knee in the bottom left-hand corner. But it wasn't my child. And mine never argue either. (you did catch that I was joking, right? not everyone catches such things)

Sammy wanted credit for Jake's house, so he snuck into the picture while Jake decided to give his card house a pair of bunny ears.
Everything looks so fun and happy (as long as you skipped the crying-mud picture). It's not. I don't make snowmen every time someone wants one. Instead, I sometimes get frustrated with all the wet snow things that have no place to go in our small entry area. I don't always create a perfect Easter. (In fact, I even call it by that pagan name "Easter"!) I sometimes say "no" to playing in the mud. My boys argue and make messes and don't always do their chores correctly.
And right now, I'm not doing my chores correctly either. That's because I'm so exhausted with this fifth pregnancy. We have this fifth baby on the way! That means I'm too tired to prove our imperfect lives by taking a picture of the disaster that often currently qualifies as our home. At least that means I can blog. If I'm too tired to get up and clean, I guess I can perform seated activities. Not a terrible trade-off, until I look around and see the mess!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Playing catchup

Two year olds bring a lot of joy and mess. Silas has been such a delight. Being number four, we've known how quickly time flies with these little ones. (Jake just turned 10 and we've passed the halfway mark of our time with him in the house!) Here is Silas making a mess while cleaning up.

Silas has been a super late talker. Having been evaluated for speech, it was determined that the German in the home is enough to delay him. When we ask if he wants to read some books, he is just as likely to fetch us an English book as a German one. But this advancement hasn't yet translated to other areas such as potty training ... here, he just doesn't seem to know what to do with that potty seat.
But he is quite skilled with the butter knife when mom isn't looking.

Si's big brother, Sammy, turned 5 this winter and learned how to wink.

Silas moved into a big boy bed with Sam. Steve built a "rustic" bunk for them. We put all four boys in one room for some nutty reason. It's actually working quite well for the time being.

Enjoy those little ones of yours!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Almost two months

We've been back in Oregon for nearly two thirds of the time we were gone. It is kind of a sad thought ... as if a time that was so consequential to us could feel meaningless by passing so quickly. The morning we left for home, Jake told me, "I don't know if I should feel happy or sad." I assured him that it was perfectly normal to feel both at the same time. We all were.

We have so enjoyed returning. And we have so missed Austria. We bravely called our Iranian neighbors a few days ago. We were nervous about all our forgotten German and the ability to speak without the oh-so-necessary hand gestures that aid those who are not fluent. It wasn't easy, but it was beautiful to hear their voices. They moved into our apartment and had news for us: shortly after we left they went without heat for 20 days during a cold snap.

I remember how crossing cultures can affect a person. But this was the longest trip I've ever taken. We wondered how it would affect us. I didn't expect too much struggle in coming back. It seemed to me one would have more trouble returning from a third world country. But I had forgotten that the people to whom we were giving aid came from nothing. From destroyed Chechnya, land-mined Afghanistan, beatings, hidden night escapes, traveling by foot with children, .... We're not known for extravagant Christmasing, but it wasn't nearly as easy to buy those presents this year. It just didn't sit quite right.

Above, you see Si on his airplane bed. The boys all got great behavioral reviews from anyone in earshot over the Atlantic. But Silas' grades dropped dramatically over the United States. He finally slept on the fold-out trays. We almost didn't make that flight. Lucky for the people sitting in front of us, we made it with 12 minutes to spare. They got to enjoy Silas (evil laugh).
And below ... home sweet home, full of food and some new things. We were very blessed by our dear friends who took care to make sure we had an easy homecoming. Since sickness hit us right away, this was a bigger blessing than they probably thought it might be. A huge thank you to Rachel ... who lived for two years in Mexico with all her boys and knows exactly what a returning family needs. And to our dear church home, what a blessing you all are!

St. Niklaus found us three days later on the sixth of December with euro chocolates. How DID he know where we would be? The tooth fairy is up on her stats, too. Having delivered money to Eli for one lost tooth in Guntramsdorf, she turned around and found another tooth in Bend. Smart girl, she is.

The hastily-obtained Christmas tree that looked every bit of it's hastily-chosen self.

And, Silas ... who is FINALLY learning how to talk, tucked away in his crib with a mattress that doesn't sink a few inches on one side. Yes ... he had quite the bed in Austria. Now that's something I should have gotten a picture of, but didn't!
Considering more blogging,