Hello from the Zenz seven!

Long interval.  Very long interval.  Apparently, adding a seventh family member has that effect.  Many activities (like writing updates about life) get put on hold while the family is...  uh...  living said life.  Adding kid #5 was a doozy; but a year and a half later the dust finally subsides a smidge, and I can take a quick breath and catch you up a bit.

We'll start with Evangeline -- you little Family Update halter, you.  In case anyone has wondered... her name is pronounced EvangeLEEN, (like "Christine"... not like "Einstein").  But we pretty much call her "Evie" (rhymes with "Chevy to the levee").

Evie has simultaneously been our easiest baby and our most difficult.  "Easy" because it is amazingly simple to please her -- we just have to hold her all the time.  "Difficult" because... we have to hold her.  All.  The time.  We love her, even though.

Also worth explaining... Yes, we are big fans of the t.v. show "Lost."  And we are aware that we now have both an Evangeline and a Lily.  But that is purely coincidental.  Although, with "Lost"... is anything ever reaaaaaaly coincidental?

Evie's primary distinguishing feature is her incredible baldness.  She's 19 months old now, but still has less hair than most newborns.  Heck, she has less hair than most basketballs.  We love her, even though.

She's finally getting some words down.  Her first word was "Bird Poop."  That was all she could say for several months.  Since then her vocabulary has greatly expanded.  She can say Up: "uh-PUH."  And Mom: "Ma-Ma."  And Dad: "Ma-Ma."  And Isaac: "Ma-Ma."  Grace and Lily: "Ma-Ma."  And Mrs. Murphy: "Ma-Ma."  She can probably even say your name: "Ma-Ma."

She's accumulated a few nicknames in her brief time on earth.  Some that come to mind: Ev, Vandal, VanAndel, Vanguard, Jelly, Jellyroll, Gelatinous, Ee-van-jellybean, Jeejee, Jeej, Veejay, Banjo-lean, Van Gogh, Vangelis, Suki, and Susie.  Though, she refers to herself as "Ma-Ma."

Speaking of nicknames, of all the gazillions of things we've called our children over the years, Elijah is the only kid who's landed an actual, real, permanent nickname.  I started calling him Liger a while back, and it seems to have stuck.  He can be pretty ferocious at times, so conjuring images of a half lion/half tiger is probably fitting.  Although Evie refers to him as "Ma-ma."

All the other kids are pretty much the same as before.  Just taller.  With more teeth or less teeth, depending on the individual.  They still draw like crazy.  And they've got a second blog now.  If you've not seen it yet, be sure to check out all the fun over at Bookie Woogie, where once a week we record a conversation about our favorite children's books: www.bookiewoogie.blogspot.com

And Amity, ahhh, Amity.  Amity is a wonder and a marvel.  She's a rock.  She keeps us running and holds us together.  She's a delight and a joy.  I'm so glad she's here, and no, you can't have her.

This spring we took our first family vacation in a really long time.  I had just come off a difficult project, and we all needed a getaway desperately.  Since we hadn't taken one in so long, and since we actually had a savings for the first time in years and years, we trekked down to Disney World.

My folks joined us in Florida halfway through, and that was really special.  Everyone had a blast, and great memories were made.  It turns out our little Lily is a roller coaster fanatic.  Gracie on the other hand... well, we won't go into the unexpected horrors one can encounter on the Dumbo ride.  One day we even took a side-excursion to Medieval Times, which Isaac loved of course.  Elijah had a great time and can still recall the smallest details about the trip that the rest of us have even forgotten.  He wasn't a fan of the giant suited characters however.  He wouldn't go near them.  First he claimed Goofy's whiskers might poke him.  Then Chip and Dale's teeth looked a bit pokey too.  But when we got to smooth, round, blunt Mickey Mouse, the gig was up - he had no excuse.  Man-in-suit-phobia.

Last of all, here are a few updates from the children's book world...  I illustrated three new books that came out this year.  There's a 2nd Nascar book called "Nascar 123."  There's a fun board book called "Beware the Tickle Monster" -- you stick your fingers into diecut holes to complete the beasties on each page.  And there's a book about life on an aircraft carrier entitled "Nugget on the Flight Deck."  You can peek at them all HERE.  The last big news item is that "The Hiccupotamus" is going to be back in print!  A new publisher picked it up, and it'll be available once again on Sept 20th.  Woohoo!

Those were all wonderful book projects to be involved with, but work needs to keep coming in...  The whole family would appreciate your prayers toward that end!

And with that I'll say toodle-loo.  Our love and our best to you all!
Aaron, Amity, Isaac, Grace, Lily, Elijah, and Evangeline