Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Evie is Four!

On Saturday, Evie had her long-awaited fourth birthday. Up until now, I have escaped with having little family birthday parties for Evie. That has always been enough for her, but she is more aware this year, and so she requested (and got) a Rainbow Unicorn party.
 Unlike many of my friends, I am not a champion party thrower. I'm not super creative with decorations, never prepared enough, and I always feel like I'm running around too much and not spending enough time with my guests. But I don't think Evie noticed. She was happy with her unicorn treasure hunt and Pin the Horn on the Unicorn game. She floated around all day, graciously deigning to enjoy her friends' company. And I did make a yummy rainbow cake, which makes up for a lot.
 How can I describe my Evie Lynn? She is spunky and precocious, cuddly and bossy and smart. She is my first of all my children to have a permanent imaginary friend with a growing storyline (Her name is NeedleSew, in case you're interested). She is constantly celebrated and doted on, and I am not as strict with her as I was with Isaac at this age--when my oldest was 4, I was pregnant with a toddler, and I needed him to be a big boy. Evie is my baby, and I don't require as much because I have older children and I just forget. Despite the attention and constant "help", she is fiercely independent. She dresses herself all the way now (and puts her underwear on backwards 80% of the time). She loves to choose her own clothes, so I usually let her, which means pattern on clashing pattern with tights and flip flops. She already knows her letters and sounds, and is starting to churn out some very recognizable drawings. She loves blue, doughnuts, unicorns, preschool, ballet, and talking incessantly with very adult expressions. I love her so. Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

A Little Light Reading

Last week, Isaac passed a big milestone--he read through the Bible for the first time!

That's a big deal in our house. My real goal for him is to develop a genuine devotional time every morning. We aren't there yet...he will read when we ask him to, but he generally doesn't do it on his own unless he's on a finish-this-book jag. It is a challenge to cultivate a Bible reading time that isn't just something you check off your list. For adults too, I admit. Does anyone have any ideas for encouraging private prayer and meditation in the word with kids?

Way to go, buddy! May it be the first of many readings!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Evie is 2!

....Well, Evie turned two in September, but who's counting? :)

Eve is 2 going on 6.  For the last few months, when people would ask her how old she was, she would say, "Six!" She acts that way, too.  She is shockingly verbal for her age, and she understands pretty much everything that people tell her.  She captures the heart of every mom that volunteers at our school group's nursery, and she makes friends everywhere she goes with her outgoing nature.  She is climbing the ladder up our new tree fort like a pro, and she insists on doing everything by herself.  She is my cuddly, affectionate girl, and she is also my little pistol, with a stubborn streak and a temper that could only come from her mama's Welsh heritage.

She's a little too small to interview, but Evie loves:

baby dolls, playing mama, stealing my phone and sending gibberish text messages, dressing up like a "booful pwincess", climbing, coloring (anything!), and reading lots of books (she is loving Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library, Dr. Seuss, and My Lucky Day right now). She is rivaling her older sister in her love of singing, constantly entertaining us with Frere Jacques, Jesus Loves Me, and Somewhere over the Rainbow, and singing anything from our Classical Conversations memory songs.  She loves telling and retelling the story of the Three Little Pigs, playing with (and bossing around) her older siblings, telling jokes, making people laugh, mastering the art of procrastination at bedtime, and keeping Daddy from leaving the house with countless demands for "hug! hug! kiss! kiss!". 

She is my bright girl, my enthusiast for life, my comidian, and my snuggle bug. We love having our sweet Evie as a two year old!

Claire is 5!

On Wednesday my girl turned 5.  In so many ways I feel like she's been five for a long time...sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of how little she still really is.  Five years old finds my Claire full of life: artistic, creative, generous, social, and so loving.  She is my kitchen assistant, my little mama, and her daddy's sweetheart.  We love her so.

Like last year, I interviewed her on her birthday, asking her questions about herself.  Some of her answers are similar to last year's, but others are different.

Claire at 5:
1. Favorite color –pink and purple and blue and gold
2. Favorite food – macaroni and cheese, pizza, hot dogs, cake, and other kinds of treats
3. Favorite dessert – strawberry cake
4. Favorite friend - Sydney
5. Favorite play activity – play princess
6. Favorite fruit - watermelon

7. Favorite vegetable - salad
8. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A doctor
9. What are you most excited about for this upcoming year?
Having people over to my birthday party

10. What is your favorite Bible story?
Jesus dying on the cross, and Jesus being born
11. What kinds of things are scary to you?M
Monsters.  If I saw an angel I would be afraid (we've been reading through the OT and the gospel of Luke, can you tell?)
Who makes you laugh?
Isaac doing funny things
What is something that you're really good at?
climbing the tree fort, cutting paper, drawing pictures, writing my name
14. What is something that's difficult for you to do?
carrying very heavy boxes with lots of stuff in it.
Who do you want to marry when you grow up?
Daniel (a friend from church)
Where do you want to live when you grow up?
Australia (she has my wanderlust already....she is always planning to live on other continents)
What is something that you love about God?
That he loves me and takes care of me.

16. What is your favorite movie?
Toy Story
17. What is your favorite book?
The Princess books that Papa and Noni got me for Christmas
18. What instrument would you like to play when you grow up?
The violin
19. What is your favorite sport?
20. What is so special about being 5?
Turning the number 5, and I love my new presents.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First Week of School

 Isaac's first day of 1st Grade!
 Eve, insisting on wearing a "packpack" like the big kids
Claire's first day of preschool!
Well, we have completed our first ever week of homeschooling, and I lived to tell the tale.  We started school on Tuesday with Classical Conversations, a homeschool group we've joined here.  The kids LOVE it there, and I feel really grateful for enthusiastic teachers, structure, community, and the "safety net" CC provides.  It may not be a perfect fit for my ideal style of learning (we'll have to wait and see), but it's a flexible program and I'm still in the drivers seat.  So far, we're all happy.  And that's important.
So how does it feel, starting school at home? Exciting.  Overwhelming.  Tiring.  Saturation point with kid-interaction. Fun. Lots of adjustments. Chaotic.  I've been enjoying seeing how much they've learned just in one week, and it's been fun to teach them. On the one hand, teaching with a squirrely toddler on your hip (who is screaming "RAISINS!" and trying to eat your preschooler's skip counting activity) is a little nerve-shattering.  On the other hand, having a toddler sit nicely in your lap while you have Bible time and your older children raise their hands nicely and eagerly answer questions is kind of exhilirating.  Claire and Isaac are really doing well, and they seem to be engaged.  They do not fawn at my feet in utter delight after a morning under my expert tutelage.  They are not blown away by my efforts, nor do they gush to their friends about how much they adore school.  I hope that's okay.  I am not a super "fun" teacher (I hope that's okay too), and I'm glad they have CC as an engaging place where they get to do a lot of activities I don't have the energy to plan out. I know it's going to take a little while to get my feet under me, get the hang of this new schedule, and settle into our new routine.  I'm really glad that it's going so smoothly so far. Part of me misses the excitement of sending the kids off to school, but the other part of me is cherishing this opportunity to be with them and to learn as a family.  There are just always tradeoffs in life, aren't there?  I feel like Claire, Isaac, and I are really learning together as a team, and that's a treasure. 
But I was pretty glad for the weekend, for sleeping in, having my man home, and relaxing with everyone.  Next week will be great too, but I'll take my weekends whenever I can get them :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Day of School

 Isaac's first day of 1st Grade!
 Claire's first day of preschool!
Just another day of awesome for Evie! (but with a backpack like everyone else :)

Today was the first day of school for us.  We've joined a Classical Conversations group here, and after their orientation last week, the kids could not WAIT to get to school.  They jumped out of bed, barely ate their special breakfast, obsessed over the packing of lunches and backpacks, and bundled into the car in record time. 

Eve had a bit of a rough start in the nursery class (due to some other unsettling screamers), but she settled down, and I spent my morning in Claire's class.  Classical Conversations is a homeschool program from a Christian, classical perspective.  There is a lot of memory work, but the tutors work so hard to make it fun, hands-on, and engaging.  I was really impressed with Claire's teacher.  It can be hard to bring some of the concepts they're learning down to a 4 year old level, but she really did it.  Claire has memorized the continents effortlessly today, and we learned other things like skip counting by 2s, the first 5 of the 10 Commandments, prepositions, geography of the Fertile Crescent, and Latin cases. Isaac is learning the same information in his class, which makes reviewing it at home really streamlined and fun.  I so appreciate that they set the memory work to music, because that helps all of us (but especially Claire). 

This is our first year of homeschooling, so there's going to be a lot of trial and error I'm sure.  So far though, I'm excited to have a group we're plugged in with that is making learning so engaging and fruitful for my kids, and I like the safety net it provides for me.  I hope it works out in the long run.

The kids were super excited for today.  We still have more fun "First Day" things, like mac n cheese, ice cream, and a movie night.  It's been a great first day.  But tomorrow is really my first day...I hope it goes well! Wish me luck :)
Musical Chairs memory activities

NC Vacation

 We went up to NC two weeks ago to visit with the family and get some vacation in before school and strawberry season hit us with their one-two punch.  We went to my family's first, and got a lot of Austin time.
 Granny and Merle came down as well, so it was a great time with the extended family.  My girls in particular loved doting on the new little guy.  I think Evie was glad to have someone around who was younger than her.  We got to spend a lot of great time with Allie too, and a bit with AJ and Julie, although Ian was sick for part of our visit, which kept them away unfortunately.
 Then we went to Swansboro for "The Cabin Experience".  The Whitakers have an old, turn-of-the-century cabin on the White Oak River, and I had never stayed there.  This year was my chance, so we met up with Vance's parents and sister's family for some beach time.  It seemed a bit ironic to leave the nicest beaches in the US for Emerald Isle, but I realized something as I stood on the shore of the Atlantic:  This is my ocean.  The waves, the sound of the surf, the sand....everything about the Atlantic speaks to me of childhood summers and the awe and wonder of a massive body of water.  The Gulf is beautiful, and I love it, and my kids can play in it without having me in arms reach.  It's wonderful.  But there is something special about being on the east coast for me.
 We also did some fishing, when the weather allowed.  Isaac was very proud of his black drum he caught on the first afternooon.
 There was a lot of laughter, lots of kids, and a lot of relaxing.  Also a lot of eating.  My kids look forward to eating Nana's snack mix every time we visit, and they are never disappointed.  I always look forward to real tomatoes, and Claudia didn't let me down either :).
 My nephew Ben turned one last week, and we celebrated with chocolate.  He approved.
 We also got to visit some good friends in Raleigh.  Joy and I have been next door neighbors, not-friends, friends, basketball teammates, in youth group together, campus fellowship leaders together, and bridesmaids in each others' weddings.  I'm so glad that we're still close friends despite the distance, and it makes me very happy to see our kids growing up together.  There's something wonderful about knowing someone through all the awkward and wonderful stages of life that just makes things real and precious.
Sorry for the out of order (and fuzzy) picture....Papa Frank took us fishing on the boat, and Claire helped us catch this black drum.  We fried up the kids' fishing booty and it was delicious.

All in all, we had a wonderful visit to NC.  It has been a really restful, relaxing, fun summer, and I'm so grateful.  Here comes the fall, with all its busy and fun and active events, ready or not!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good times with old friends

This weekend we had some precious friends come visit us.  Yesupadam and Monika, Bethany and Benjamin spent part of their yearly US visit with us.  I am always so glad and grateful to get any time with them in their busy schedule--it is always refreshing to my soul.  It is really so encouraging to be with believers from another culture and background and way of life and ministry.  I find myself more able to think outside of my force of habit, and re-invigorated to live a life of complete obedience to the Lord.  This year brought back my desire to be back in India full force.  I don't know when we'll be able to afford the plane tickets, but I keep hoping that someday I'll be able to go back and participate in Love-n-Care's ministry in person, alongside of Vance. One day!

Please be praying for Yesupadam.  It looks like he has shingles, and those of you know anything about this disease know that it is very painful.  There is also not much available for treatment (that I know of).  Please pray for God's healing power over his body, and strength and perseverance as he travels and speaks and stays in other people's homes for the next month.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy 4th!

We hope you all had a great Independence Day!  The kids wanted to make a flag cake this year, so we did.  They are getting to be pretty good cooks, and they made the cake, the frosting, and put the fruit on with only a bit of direction from me.  I'm going to be handing over my kitchen pretty soon at this rate!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back Yard

 .......And the back yard.  There are a few more finishing touches for the back, but you get the idea...

The side yard.  I really love having a shell path instead of grass over here!  Much easier to manage, and more functional for a space that doesn't have much visibility.

New Landscape

In honor of Father's Day and Vance's birthday, I am posting pictures of Vance's latest, greatest project.  Do you remember what it looked like before?  Before all the grass died, it was a pretty traditional setup.  Then the grass died and it just looked bad.  Thanks to Vance's design and tender loving care, it looks like something that he can be proud of.

I think it looks pretty different.  Some friends (who have been to our house only a handful of times, and not recently), actually called our house when they were in our driveway to make sure they were at the right address--so I guess it is a landscape transformed!