Like Father, Like Son… My Handsome Stars

Just a couple of weeks ago, someone pulled this piece of gold out of the archives:

Yep, that’s Jared, our good friend Anna, and sweet baby Michael all dressed up as Mary, Joseph and Jesus way back before Jared & I ever even met. It was such a sweet memory and made us extra excited for Stable on the Strand, Townsville’s Christmas Festival, which we love to help with every year.

It also made this just a bit more sweet… if you follow our Facebook page, you’d know I was a typical mom… smitten by our little shepherd boy as he and I dressed up in Bethlehem garb to play with other kids and the animals and tell them about Baby Jesus (who happened to be in a Stable just a few market stalls away from us in our re-created Bethlehem village).

Apparently, our local newspaper was also smitten:

BLESSED: Little Shepherd Max Hoover, 1, Gets Into the Christmas Spirit

We are blessed indeed.


There is Rest for the Weary

Have I mentioned its been a big year? Well, it has. We knew it would be a big few years as we help get this ship up and running to service PNG…

We haven’t always known how big, though.

The last few months alone, since the ship has come back into port here in Townsville have been incredibly full. With tight deadlines, Jared & the team bit off a lot – stripping the ship back to steel, repairing rusted areas, and repainting with a top quality product, removing some of the bulky storage areas to create a better waiting room and deck for socialising after hours… and creating new, more efficient storage areas for all of the medical supplies we’ve been donated.

It was early mornings… late nights… and long weekends. Max kissed a picture of daddy goodnight most days.

But we’re finished. (For now.) And she looks BEAUTIFUL!

We’re really happy to say that we have been able to host lectures on board with one of our training schools as well, making this truly a vessel for mercy and for training, exactly what we’ve been planning for. Don’t you love when the dreams God puts on your heart come true?

There’s more where those came from… but for now we wait! 🙂

But this isn’t just about being busy. Its about resting.

And let’s face it… rest is what we’ve been needing.

We had a wonderful week with Jared’s sister Amy and dad visiting. There’s just something special about having family… but even more so when you see your child interacting with his auntie and grandpa. Somehow he just knows that its someone special… and he adores them… and I love that.

We skipped naps and walked around waterfalls instead. Jared played adventure guide on the island and up north. It was delightful.

We even got a few more days off just to recoup at home. I wish I could list off all of the amazing things we got done around the house but I can’t. Having a holiday at your house, which is part of a ministry centre, means that many people stop and ring by with “just one question” making for some surprisingly busy days! So instead of enjoying lots of rest, we mostly just enjoyed each others company and Max enjoyed having his daddy put him to bed most nights for a change!

But then we were invited to head down to the Whitsundays for a couple of days and let me tell you – you couldn’t revive us out of relaxation mode if you tried! I kept catching myself silently staring into the ocean. It was divine. Max loved it too.

So even though there are a few more opportunities to maximise before the end of the year, and of course a little girl to prepare for, and CHRISTMAS to celebrate, we are well on our way to feeling rested and refreshed.

Now… if someone could do something about this humidity!? 😉


My Tropical Christmas Wish

Is there any better time to finish writing Christmas cards in the tropics than during a downpour? Since most of you have never experienced Christmas in the sweltering heat, much less 30 weeks pregnant in the sweltering heat, let me assure you that there is not!

The wet season has come late this year and while I have tried to be grateful for the chance to finish things off on the ship, and avoid the extreme humidity (and subsequent swelling), this morning’s rain was a taste of what I’m secretly waiting and wishing for this Christmas… days and days of pouring rain and light relief from the heat.

Other than that, we’ve had a near perfect start to the season. And a season it is. I’ll relish as long as I can to have every shop front and home declaring the glorious wonder of that little Baby who came to earth.

We’re enjoying the pleasure of Christmas at home – with our decorations and our traditions – along with the company of family. Jared’s sister Amy is here visiting and his dad even surprised us by turning up a few days later.

Its been an action-packed week and if Aunt Amy isn’t up in the morning, Max can be found knocking on her door, “AAAAA-MYYYYYY!” Yep, I think he likes them.

Of course we miss the cold. And we miss the rest of the family. And we have to pump the aircon just to enjoy the feeling of hot cocoa in PJ’s… but that’s okay too.

We went to our first Christmas party of the year last night and my heart swelled with pride watching Max decorate his cookie. His first hand-made dough ornament is hanging in the most prominent spot on the tree with “Max 2011” written on the back.

I’ve always thought dough ornaments were hideous… until now. Now, its my favourite part of the tree and I’m sure it will hang there for years to come.

So from this hot, rainy living room to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS! May you truly enjoy and experience the season for all that it means.

Love, the hoovers

Waiting for Our Christmas Miracle

On the way to the hospital last week, I asked Jared, “What’s your guess? Surgery or no surgery?”

My guess was no surgery because last time the doctor said that if there’s no improvement, he was indeed going to do a surgery; however, he also seems to change his mind a lot based on the treatments and second opinions we’ve been getting. I always seem to get the guess wrong so even though my natural inclination was to go for “surgery,” I decided to go with the opposite and guess “no surgery.”

I was wrong… again.

Max is booked in for surgery on January 25. Unless there is marked improvement between now and then, he will be having surgery on two sites on his face and neck.

My favourite nurse knowingly looked at me and said, “Don’t worry – we have lots of treatments to minimise scarring.” (Shallow thoughts, I know, especially in light of the fact that this surgery could leave him paralysed in his face, but how did she know they were swimming through my mind? I love her. She has been my grace from the first day I turned up in the office throwing up.)

In some ways, I feel moments of fear or discouragement. In other ways, I know that we still have nearly two months for a Christmas miracle.

So as my belly grows and we await our little girl miracle in just 10 short weeks, we also continue to pray for a miracle for our happy little boy and the smile the puts a spring in our steps every day.

PS – thanks to our friend Tiffany from Red Owl Photography for the photos she took while she was visiting. If you’re in the Bend, OR area (or not… she travels a lot and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind some extra cash if she’s in your area!!), chat to her. She is a natural with kids. I’ve known her for a long time now and never known a kid who didn’t adore her. These just happened to come from a few moments hanging out in our living room.

Adventures of the Stroller Brigade

I’d been waiting 10 long months for this:

Love Snuggling With Papa

And this:

Wrestling With Uncle Luke

Oh how I love those Brittan men. They didn’t disappoint. Watching my boy snuggle and play with his Papa and Uncle Luke made my heart soar.

Washington, we have arrived.

And how about those Brittan girls? Yes, there was dancing. There was singing. And there was copious amounts of candy. There were memories and laughing and a few tears here and there (mostly from laughing.)

There were two hour sessions at the gym. (And 45 minute ones, thank you very much.)

And there were cousins.

Loving the drama

Oh those cousins. Max learned how to colour, ate all kinds of new foods, got sick from eating said foods, and learned that sometimes if you want to keep a toy you gotta squeal or push a little bit. I know, I know… he’ll learn sharing. But until then, surivival of the fittest kid under 2 is pretty hilarious.

And so are 6 kids in strollers being pushed through crowded holiday sale aisles at Nordstrom rack by 3 skinny model looking girls and their big sister.

The “stroller brigade” we were dubbed. We got smirks and smiles but mostly smiles. I mean, the kids are pretty much the cutest ever… as long as they were fed rapid-fire doses of Cheezits and Kix. With double packed pockets in every mommy’s coat, there were plenty of smiles to make up for the fact that the stroller brigade was not armed with a reverse beep and crashed into a rack or two.

Thank God for the play area at the mall.

And for snow. And sledding… behind the ATV.

Auntie Bek's Got the Giggles

For Christmas parties and Christmas plays and Christmas lights…

I love me a gaudy Christmas Light Show

And date nights.

And mostly for family. And unconditional love. And making memories and cuddling nieces and nephews. And long talks with mom and dad. And pretending like we lived there and never left.

It hurt to leave. But we are cherishing the memories we made and looking forward to the future. Good things are in store. Stay tuned.

My Little Snowman

Until then, stay out of the way of the Stroller Brigade. 😉

Oh Come All Ye (UN)Faithful

Its been one of those years. Big. Awesome. Challenging. Wonderful. Hard.

Its been one of those years that takes it out of you a bit. Like the end of a marathon… when you know you’ve accomplished something great… but it feels like you’ve just taken a massive beating.

Not that I would know, having never run one. But I ran a 10k once and in the midst of feeling like an Olympic Champion receiving a gold medal and giant bouquet of roses as I dab at my tears and listen to the Star Spangled Banner, I also felt like I’d been run over by a truck. So I can only imagine what you’d feel like after a marathon.

And what I imagine is a little like how I feel.

Good. Awesome. Great. Weary. Crusty. Dry.

And that’s why singing my baby to sleep as we road-tripped across the home of that Great Star Spangled Banner was the best thing I could ever do.

Christmas carol after sweet Christmas carol – or should I say amazing worship song after worship song – my heart melted. And was restored. And refreshed.

I rejoiced. Silent tears fell remembering that silent night.

My heart craved heavenly peace – and the One who gave His life for it.

I remembered that He does call us to come… the faithful… and the unfaithful.

Because He wants us all. He came for us all.

My heart is singing and I hope with all that is in me that THIS Christmas – this joy in my heart – will last all year.

Yes, pleas

Yes, please. I'd love a bit of that Heavenly Peace!

A Cold Welcome

We touched down in the land of panthers, blizzards and cheese to the tune of chapped cheeks, goose bumps… and chest colds.

Jared could not resist

We expected wintery Wisconsin to be cold and embarked on a steep learning curve remembering what its like to care for dry skin (we live in the tropics!!) and figuring out the ever-growing mystery of how to keep socks on baby feet (We remain unsuccessful as of yet, the fact of which is pointed out to us anytime we go out in public. Yes, we do realise our child’s nose is dripping down to his belly button, its 7 degrees outside and he is barefoot! We are, indeed “those” parents… woops.)

First taste of snow

But despite the weather and a nasty flu, our hearts were warmed by these:

A Big Welcome to US

A welcome banner bigger than bikipsy!

And these faces… which actually resemble angels, if you ask me. Wait until they talk. Your sides will be aching from laughter.

Little Cherub

We got in trouble for drinking fresh milk… only because it took Jared more than 30 seconds to open the fridge to get the glass out. We ate pancake breakfasts that lingered into taco salad lunches.

We drank London fogs and played settlers.

We laughed at Max entertaining the dinner party crowd by playing peek-a-boo with the fancy table cloth which was covered by a gorgeous dinner spread. Fortunately expectations of table manners for a 10 month old are quite minimal.

We huddled on the couch with brothers and sisters to beat all those top scoring Facebookers on Family Feud and we gave points to each other because that’s what family does.

Are we winning, Dad!?

We had fellowship dinners and ate one of my top three favourite foods – potluck casseroles. (Pour a can of cream of mushroom soup over just about anything, cover it with cheese, and bake it and I will be your friend for life. I could eat comfort foods forever.)

We cheered the alma mater and the awesome uncle at his very first varsity basketball game (What senior starts basketball his senior year and still gets to play in the opening game?? Apparently someone with the name Jordan and the number 23.)

Love me some Grandpa John!

We made gingerbread houses and went to elementary school Christmas plays.

Mmmm... candy.

We drank tea, we had chats, we made memories, and watched dreams come true.

Thanks Wisconsin.

You’re cold. But you warm our hearts.