Susanna Jane Is Two Years Old

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On June 30, we celebrated two years of being Susanna’s parents. We were flying home from Mexico, where we had celebrated with my family on the vacation of our dreams. Susanna got to play in the sand, swim in the ocean, splash in the pool, and spend time with her great grandparents, great great uncle Colya, uncle Mike and cousins Connor and Kyle.

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Susanna with Gramma Great and Great Uncle Colya in the background.

The weekend after we got home, we hosted a Blue Balloon Birthday Party. When I planned the party and designed the invitations (and the banner, labels and favors!), the only color Susanna knew was blue, and she absolutely adored balloons. She also looks so good in blue, with her blond hair, blue eyes, and pink skin.

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Susanna discovering her balloon cake

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Beautiful in blue

You can see the photos from her two year photo shoot (Thanks McG Photography!) here.

It is such a joy to be Susanna’s parents. We find the toddler years so much more fun than the baby years, especially as we get to know our little lady’s personality. She loves babies and is sweet and gentle when she sees them, so we know she will be a great big sister to Austin when he comes along in September.

My Grandma’s Cousins

By Sunday, February 24, 2013 0 0

I am blessed to know my grandma’s cousins. Thanks to long-living, family-loving great grandparents, Fred and Harriet Hertzog, I have quite a few memories with extended family and their children, especially three of my grandma’s cousins: Rick, Doug and Jeff. This extended family is one of God’s graces to me as I have navigated life without a traditional family.

Among my clearest memories is my great grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary, where all the families presented a song, poem or skit honoring our patriarch and his lovely wife. Over a long weekend, Hertzog family stayed in the converted barn or camped on my great grandparents Port Angeles property, and as I got to know my cousins, I learned a bit about the spiritual legacy inherited by my family.

I certainly didn’t recognize it at the time, but the Hertzog men live radical lives. Among them are foster parents, children who have served in missions, and hearts that have suffered loss and sickness and trial. Three years ago, Rick suffered a long, scary recovery from spinal meningitis. He was in a coma, but God saw fit to save his life. What a joy it was to hear of his recovery! True adventurers like many in our family, they have also been blessed to travel the world and host exchange students from all around.

After I became a Christian, I saw the influence of my extended family on my Christian walk. I do not know if they prayed for me when I was a child. I know they pray now. My situation, being raised by my grandparents, certainly warranted it, but we saw each other at weddings and funerals, for the most part. But they have always been so supportive. All three came to a baby shower to celebrate Susanna’s life just days before she came along. In spite that it took me years to remember who was who and which children and wives belonged to whom, there is a quality about the Hertzogs that has always made me look forward to our times together, brief and infrequent as they are.

And now one of them is gone. This weekend, Rick had a heart attack and now he is with Jesus. My heart is broken. It doesn’t seem fair that God would save Rick’s life only to allow it to end three years later.

But, (though It is easy for me to say, because I haven’t lost my husband or brother or father): it is fair. God is sovereign, he is in control, and he warns us in his Word that our days are numbered. Rick lived his life in a way that acknowledged that. It had an impact on me. The worst thing in our minds, losing a beloved, is the best thing for that person when he is a believer, as Rick was. He is with Jesus. Hallelujah! Rick, you will be missed. We look forward to meeting you again in our true home.

In Memory of Mr. Jenkin

By Thursday, June 21, 2012 0 0

Just before we went back to Pennsylvania for our class, Chris’s grandfather passed away. I am so grateful to have known such a wonderful man and family patriarch. I am struggling to put into words a character trait that I really admired about Mr. Jenkin. He was easy to know. His likes and dislikes were plain, and integral to his personality. It is easy to identify a piece of music, sermon, or an historical story that he would have enjoyed. I really value that, because it also means that his integrity and character were plain.

Here is a testimony of his character and how loved he was. The pastor of the church he attended for many years took a lot of items that had belonged to him. Things like mugs, twede jackets, pictures he had hung on his walls were all collected and taken back to the Church on the Vale. The pastor said that people were eager to have anything that reminded them of Vernon; especially children in whom he had invested. He was a like a superhero to these friends!

Here is the obituary:

F. G. Vernon Jenkin

Services for F. G. Vernon Jenkin, 91, of Willoughby, will be 11 AM Saturday, June 9, 2012 at The Little Church in the Vale, 610 Chagrin River Road, Gates Mills.  The Rev. Robert Sandham will officiate at the service. 

Mr. Jenkin passed away Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at the Nason Center of Breckenridge Village in Willoughby.

Born April 16, 1921 in Cleveland, he was a longtime Lyndhurst resident before moving to Breckenridge Village in Willoughby.

He was a World War II Army Air Corp veteran and a member of The Little Church in the Vale.  He was a former member of Cedar Hill Baptist Church where he served on the Board of Deacons and sang in the Church choir; he also directed several Church music productions. 

Mr. Jenkin was employed as a plant engineer and purchasing agent at Reliance Electric for 15 years and later as a property manager for Ostendorf-Morris Company. He also did home renovation work after his retirement

Survivors are his daughters, Donna L. (Richard) Duryee of Seattle, WA, Patricia E. (Michael) Coffman of Shawnee Mission, KS and Holly C. (Keith) Davis of Cincinnati; grandchildren, Christopher (Rosalie) Duryee and Jonathon (Siri) Duryee; Benjamin (Jessica) Coffman and Cara (Ethan) Simmons and Cassie Davis; great grandchildren, Ryan, Susanna and Emaline.  

His wife of 57 years, Lillian R. (Trostle) Jenkin passed away May 9, 2003.  His parents, Francis Stephen and Elizabeth (Mehaffey) Jenkin and sister, Betty Olson are also deceased. 

The family will receive friends from 6-8 PM Friday, June 8, 2012 at Davis-Babcock Funeral Home, 4154 Clark Avenue, Willoughby.  Graveside services and interment will be at 1 PM Monday, June 11, 2012 at Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown, PA.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages contributions to The Little Church in the Vale, 610 Chagrin River Road, Gates Mills, OH 44040. 

The Last 10 Years

By Tuesday, June 5, 2012 0 0
Heading to the reunion with girlfriends from high school

This weekend I attended my 10 year high school reunion. We made a weekend out of it and started festivities on Friday with a tour of my old high school, Newport. The school didn’t change one single bit in the decades between my mom attending and me attending (including a couple of teachers who remembered her!), but after I graduated they bulldozed it and built a new school that looks like it’s the set of a movie. The new Newport boasts a beautiful, fully-outfitted theater, stairs, Smart boards in designer classrooms, and a green room for broadcasting class. Very impressive.

On Saturday I joined about 1/3 of my class at a Seattle brewery to catch up, reminisce, laugh, and take stock of the changes. I am Facebook friends with many of the people who came, so it felt a little like a Facebook social where we elaborated on stuff these “friends” already knew. Obviously, we’re a lot different now. Marriages, kids, careers… I was really proud of all my classmates. There’s a gym owner, a DA in a hard city, a flight trainer, and lots of tech-savvy friends making money with their skills. I thought it might feel like a bunch of one-upping, but I was content to just listen and be impressed. There are people working with refugees, teaching kindergarten, and getting advanced degrees.

In other ways, it was just a great chance for me to hang out, sans baby, with friends I’ve had forever (I’ve been friends with Heather and Chrissy longer than I haven’t! That is a milestone to celebrate, I say).

I am certain everyone feels this way, but I felt very different. Although I had become a Christian the summer before 11th grade, it wasn’t until my senior year that my life really began to change. I stood for and carried a lot that I just shed over the last year of high school, and I put on a lot of new garments over the next 10 years. When you think about it, on the taboo topics like sex, religion and politics, I essentially believe the opposite of what I professed in high school. The girl most of the people at my reunion remember doesn’t even exist anymore.

These photos makes me extremely grateful for the friends who stuck with me through all those changes. That they see something worthy of sticking around for is humbling to say the least.

A final thought: I know I’m not the only one who was missing a charismatic member of our class who would have been leading a salsa lesson and doling out bear hugs.

And, on a not-so-serious note, does anyone else think I take the turtle neck a little too far in photos?

Month of Love

By Friday, February 17, 2012 0 0

Inspired by my friend whose favorite day every year is Valentine’s Day, Chris and I made February the Month of Love.

First, I made this and hung it over our fireplace. Then I bought two little boxes and put them on either side of the mantle. Our Valentine boxes.

Vday Decor

And I printed these adorable little notepapers so we could share our love for each other daily.

I also decorated our house a little more than usual, with a pink and red wreath from the dollar section at Target, and some cute Subway art by our wedding album.

Month of Love Decor
(Subway art source)

It was so nice to be very intentional about loving each other this month, and even nicer to know that even though Valentine’s Day is over, our month of love still has a few more days. Plus, I get to enjoy these beautiful flowers!
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We brought our little Valentine into the celebrations as well.

Susanna at 6 months, January 2012

We made a Valentine for our family and friends…

Duryee valenine

And we made a Baby’s First Valentine:

Susanna's Valentine

February 2012 has been a wonderful time for Chris and I to focus on our love for each other and our “baby makes three” family.