Top 10 of 2010

We have had another very good year...and as I glance back at some of the pictures we have taken, and posts I have written, I am reminded of how much God has blessed us. Starting from the beginning of this past year, here is our top 10 highlighted/thankful moments:

1. Our visit to Disney World. When I asked my hubby what one of his favorite events of this past year was, this was his top event. It is probably mine as well. There is something magical about seeing things through your children's eyes. My sister in-law was kind enough to watch Andrew for the day, so we had a great time with just the girls.


2. Andrew's successful surgery. When Andrew was born, we were told that he would soon need minor surgery. For the first 10 months of his life I was very nervous of how it would go, but he did so well, and recovered very quickly. I am thankful God watched over him and the surgeon and gave me peace.

3. Our many trips to the beach. I was a little nervous taking all three of my kids by myself to the beach, but was determined to not let nap times tie me down the whole summer. And although it was a little hairy at times taking all of our beach gear by myself, we had a great time. And it was great to see how much Andrew enjoyed the sand and water, and how much the girls grew as swimmers.


4. The Hub's job. At the end of the summer, we were told that there was not a lot of work for my husband in the foreseeable future. He had a few weeks where he was laid off, but in the end his company was able to find little jobs here and there to keep him busy. At a time where the ecomomy is still very much struggling, I am very thankful for the work he's been able to secure, and pray for so many who continue look for work.

5. Homeschooling Katie. Over the summer, I had thought a lot about giving homeschooling a try, and asked a few homeschooling moms about their personal experience. After doing a little more research and deciding on a curriculum, I gave it a go. And I am so glad I did. Katie is doing very well. The first week I was ready to throw in the towel, but soon after we figured what things had to be thrown out of the curriculum, and which things she thrived upon. I am enjoying the bonding time with my daughter, as well as loving to learn from her as well. We've done lots of outdoor discoveries, projects, sang lots of new songs, and read some really great books. I look forward to our new year of revelations.


6. Watching Kyra play soccer. I never would have pictured Kyra wanting to play soccer, but after one summer night of goofing around with a ball, she was determined to play. Even the first day of a game, where the rain POURED the whole entire game...she had a great time. And I couldn't believe how competitive I became as a viewing parent! It's like my inner beast was coming out!

7. Running a 5K. At the beginning of the school year, I vowed I was going to become healthier with some sort of exercise. So I decided to start running. Let me tell you, I didn't enjoy it very much. In fact every time I ran, I said that I wasn't going to keep up with it because I hated it so much. But I would get up the next day and determine to do better than the day before. So, when our family decided to do their own race at Thanksgiving time, I was pumped and ready to go. Although I didn't run the whole entire 5K, I did better than I have ever done in my whole entire life, and was very proud of my accomplishment. I am hoping to try and enter another 5K in the spring.

8. Losing weight. Of course, along with running, I had wanted to lose weight this past year. And although I didn't reach my goal, I still lost 22lbs. I hope to lose another 20lbs this next year, but am happy going at it slow and steady. It feels great just to fit into some old clothes that haven't fit in years...and buy some new of course!

9. Seeing Kyra read. It's funny how a lightbulb seems to go on with some milestones. Kyra had been sounding out words for quite some time, and reading too, but she struggled with a lot of words as well. Then just in the past couple of months, she took off. She reads without hesitation and began reading chapter books! I loved waking up during this Christmas break, finding her curled up on the chair, reading by the light of the Christmas tree.


10. Our Christmas together as a family. For some reason this year, Christmas seemed to take on so much more meaning. Maybe it was the daily devotions we did together as a family, or the fact that for some random reason I was more relaxed. But we had a great Christmas. Even the girls seemed more thankful for the gifts they received. But it was especially wonderful to see the look on their faces when they opened their bedroom door to find a surprise. Their dad had put their bunk beds together while they were playing in the basement. They said it was the best Christmas present EVER! And they have been having fun playing on it every day since then.

Attitude

We are quickly approaching the end of the year, and I keep looking at my long neglected blog, and wonder where all the time as gone. I remember a few months back thinking, I have only written a few dozen posts this past year...I better start knocking out some more if I am going to write as much as I did the previous year. I began this blog so I could capture some of the endearing things my children said, along with writing down some of our key memories so they wouldn't be forgotten in years to come. But, in the end, blogging or journaling has had to sit on the backburner for the time being. Sure, I'm sure I'll miss reading some of the memories I would have been able to capture in my writing, but in the end I know that I let go some of my motive to meet a "quota," and instead write when I feel compelled to do so (which just so happens not to have been the last few months!). I hate to let go of the blog for good, because I do have hopes to write in it more frequently some day, and do enjoy writing and reading documented moments of our family. But, for now I hope to remember that I spent that time trying new endeavors, spending time in the busyness of life, or just taking a break from a delighted hobby.

But, I digress. On to the purpose of my post. So much has happened this past year, and I was trying to recall some of our highlighted memories. I know I tend to be a pessimistic person, and often get caught up in the negativity of life...the "why me's," the feelings of inadequacy, and the worldly news. I even stumbled upon an entry I wrote about this very topic this time last year. I wanted to stop focusing on the negative things in my life and "Just Do It"...just do what I could with the gifts God gave me. And for the most part, I think I did a pretty good job. Sure, there were certain lulls through the year where I stumbled, and life got the better of me. But then I remembered my slogan for the year, or my husband gently nudged me in the right direction, or felt lifted up through prayer or friends. And thank goodness I have a faithful God or friends to lean on, but I realize I need more than just a slogan to follow for the year. I need the Bible engraved in my heart.

So, along with with consciously taking an effort to follow the "Just Do It" plan, I have decided to be guided by a certain Bible verse this year:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Phillipians 4:8-9

Because, if I have the Bible engraved on my heart, then hopefully when life gets me down, this verse will be so close to my heart, that I will quickly be able to pull it out of the cobwebs of my soul. And I challenge you to do the same!! Maybe if you are not a New Year's resolution kind of person, you could find a verse that would challenge you and bring you closer to God.

Really, change for any of us is all about changing our attitude. Of course it's easy for me to say this right now, because I'm pondering on the subject. But, if I'm going to change my heart to reflect God's heart, I need to make a change in my attitude. And I know I certainly won't be perfect on this journey...but, hopefully with a little encouragement from this Bible verse, my year's previous slogan, and the softening of my heart through God, I can continue in the path of positivity. I'll leave with a favorite quote of mine from Chuck Swindoll that will hopefully be inspirational to you as well:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes."

First Week of School

Well, the first week of school has come and gone already. To tell you the truth, it was a long week. After having so many days of summer fly by, it was a bit draining to endure such a long week. Don't get me wrong, we definitely had many highlights throughout the week, but I will be glad when we get more into a groove of things.

Kyra started out quite nervous for her first day of school. The poor child is becoming more of a nervous nellie as she gets older (between the genes of her dad and mom, she is doomed). So we prayed together shortly before her bus arrived. We prayed that she would like her teacher, that she would make some friends, and that she would enjoy her time back at school. Then after our prayer, she seemed to look refreshed. She gave me one last hug, and when the bus arrived, she quickly found some old friends and rode off with a big smile on her face. I knew that she would have a fabulous day, and headed down my driveway already anticipating her long winded stories that she would tell.


As soon as I opened the door, Katie was waiting for her turn for school. This little girl has been anticipating school for some time. She has been eager to start her time with mom, and repeatedly asks when it's her turn to paint (apparently that's what she wants to do most in school). I had set up a "little classroom" in our basement complete with a big table to do arts and crafts, a fun calendar, and a bucket of supplies (which of course included the paints that she so anxiously wanted to use). So, we got Andrew his breakfast, straightened up a few things, and headed downstairs to begin our first day of school.

Like I had mentioned before, I too was a little nervous for our first day of school (not for Kyra, but for myself). I was mostly concerned for how Andrew would do during our time together, but also concerned for how effective of a teacher I could be to my own daughter. Well, Andrew did great. He played with the many toys in the basement he wasn't too familiar with (since we don't go down there that often), and only managed to tamper with the DVD/sound system one time. Then we broke up for a snack, while I put him down for a nap and continued my lesson with Katie. And Katie did really fabulous too. She did cry once when I tried to show her the correct way to hold scissors, but I kind of anticipated that being a challenge. At first I thought she was crying because she just couldn't do it right. Then I quickly realized, it was because I took the scissors and cut HER paper. Of course she wanted to do it all by herself. But we let it go, and agreed to work on it another day. Otherwise the day went very smoothly. We sang songs, worked on learning a Bible memory verse, focused on learning the number 1 and letter A, and read books.

All in all, our first week couldn't have gone smoother. Kyra really likes her teacher and raves about how nice she is, although she is definitely tired. I think every day all day class is going to take a bigger toll on her then I thought. Yesterday, she said: "Mom...I like school, but does it have to be every day? I don't ever get a break...it's just school, school, school, soccer, and church (repeat)." It will be a big adjustment coming right from summer, but I know she'll get into the groove. Katie enjoyed puzzling ordinary household items together to make the letter A, and spending one on one time with Mom. She has really been an eager beaver, and was even disappointed to find out we weren't "doing" school every day. I was also pleased that our few discouraging moments didn't ruin her anticipation to learn new things. As for me, well I am quite tired from the week as well. I will definitely have to do some altering when it comes to the curriculum I had planned for Katie. And I've had my moments of ambivilence of teaching my own daughter (even going so far as to thinking...there's still time to enroll her in a preschool class!) But we all just need time. We need time for our bodies to get back into a schedule, time for our emotions to fall into balance. And I know we'll have a good year (even if it might be a tough year) because God is in control and will give us the rest we need to take on the new school year.

New Beginnings

Well, tomorrow marks the day that Kyra begins school every day, all day . For some reason I didn't have a hard time letting her go for preschool or kindergarten. I was excited for her and knew that she'd do well. She's such a smart little cookie, and warms up easily to others, so I knew making friends wouldn't be a problem either. However, this year she is leaving her little sister behind. Her little sister, who over the summer, has become her best friend. Her little sister, who adores spending every waking moment with her. Yes, I know Kyra will be missed. But, for me it also marks an end to a 6 year era, where I was free to roam. I was free to take an extended weekend (or sometimes week) to Chicago. Free to sleep in (till 8 a.m. anyway), free to take a day trip where I pleased, and free to spend time with my son while the girls occupied eachother's time. Yes, feeling a little selfish, I realize that I will be a bit more tied down these days. But I know Kyra will enjoy her year at school, and I pray that the 3 of us will too...because she's not the only one with a new beginning.

This year I have decided to homeschool Katie. Again, it started out as a sort of selfish journey (I'm sensing a pattern here...hmmm). I wanted to save the money I would put into a preschool program, and put Katie and Kyra into dance or gymnastic class. Of course it evolved from there. I soon spoke to other homeschooling moms, and realized it was a very great bonding time between their children. I then became very excited to bond with Katie. I know everyone should know their children well, but out of all three of my kids, I feel I know Katie the least. She is very good at playing by herself, which is nice when I need to get things done, but unfortunately I can take advantage of that quality as well. I'm hoping that through the time we spend together I can learn much more of her strengths as a person. I'm hoping that we can begin to build a strong bond, so she doesn't feel afraid to come to me later in life when problems get tougher.

So, we will see how this journey goes. Katie is a strong willed child, who likes to do things her way and in her own time, so this could be a challenge, but I'm willing to go for the ride. I'm a bit nervous, as I'm not sure how well it work if Andrew doesn't take his scheduled nap. He's been a bit of a pill lately, so it could be a challenge just to keep him occupied while we work one on one (especially if I want our house still standing....did I mention he's been a bit destructive lately?). But, I'm sure in a few weeks we'll fall into a groove. So, we are all at a new beginning...Kyra, a new grade....Katie, preschool with mom...and me, a preschool teacher. Let's pray that kids and teachers everywhere have a wonderful year of growth, learning, and inspiration.

Top Ten of Summer

It's hard to believe it is September 1st already!! Before we know it, we'll be gathering around for Thanksgiving dinner and preparing to bake for Christmas cookies. Of course it's hard to imagine (and who wants to rush it anyway) the holidays when we've been having 90+ degree weather lately. And though the heat has been hard to take on occasion, I have been very pleased with our warm summer. The weather has permitted lots of welcomed trips to the beach and enjoyment in our little plastic pool. The girls have played better than ever, which makes it that much harder to break them up as Kyra prepares to leave for all day, every day school in a few short days. But seeing as I have hardly written all summer, I'd like to reflect on some of the fun things we did this summer.

1. Numerous trips to the beach. Having taken swimming lesson in the beginning of the summer, I wanted to keep their exposure to the water high, so we took advantage of our local beaches and had lots of play time in the water. I even ventured out on my own a few times with the 3 kiddos by myself (a big accomplishment for me, when you consider the 1 year old has to be watched like a hawk because of the love for the water).



2. An over night trip to Traverse City with my hubby. Although I was hesitant to leave the kids on the day first day Kyra got out of school, this trip was absolutely wonderful. The northern part of Michigan is beautiful no matter what time of year you go. And we got to enjoy time alone together while wine sampling and touring the country side. Loved it!

3. Andrew's birthday. It's hard to believe my little guy is one now, but we had a wonderful 1st birthday with family, and I am embracing the steps of progress he is making into becoming an older child (like sleeping through the night, walking, no naps...pretty soon we'll be able to go on more adventures as a family of 5)


4. Trip to Hessel. Although this was not my favorite event of the summer, the kids had a blast playing with cousins they haven't seen in a long time and it was nice to chat with family while lazily sitting at "our" small beach.


5. Visiting relatives for "daycations" while they camped at Pioneer Campground. Although we did not camp here, we still enjoyed the benefits of camping, while being able to sleep in our comfy beds at night. Seriously, it was a wonderful campground, with just a simply beautiful beach.


6. Visiting family in Chicago. While I do go to Chicago a fair amount of time to visit family, this time we went on a few day adventures. We all had a blast going to Splash Country and visiting Blackberry Farms. And although the sprinklers were broken, we enjoyed a picnic at Cantigny with fried mushrooms from Brown's Chicken....mmmm.


7. Raising 3 caterpillars. Never mind that all of the caterpillars passed away and never made it to the chrysalis stage, but the whole family really enjoyed watching how fast they grew. It was fun to watch how involved the girls got into feeding their little friends, and even see their compassionate heart reach out as the caterpillars started to fade. **We later found out that the first caterpillar probably had a virus that spread to the others.


8. Going camping at Gun Lake with my family. Although this trip was uncomfortable at times with the extreme heat and humidity (and mosquitos), we still had fun eating, talking, swimming, and reliving some previous camping trips. It's also amazing to see how resilient kids are, because I don't think the heat bothered them hardly at all...they just enjoyed being outdoors and with each other.


9. Going to the Hudsonville Fair. This has become a yearly tradition of ours, and the girls dared to go on more rides then ever this year. They were brave in going on the tall ferris wheel, and even went on a few new ones that they weren't sure of.



10. Going to a Whitecaps minor league baseball game. Again, it was another hot day, which made it almost to hot to view from our seats, but the kids had fun eating the food and it was nice doing something different. My hubs even broke down and got everyone ice cream (in which the girls got a souvenir baseball cap bowl).

We still have yet to go to the zoo (the one thing on Kyra's summer to do list we haven't done yet), but otherwise it's been a fulfilling summer. So now I am just holding on to the last few days I have to sleep in before we take on schedules, fall sports, and the busyness of the school year. I am excited at the prospects of a new year and what it has in store for us (I am taking on some new challenges), but am also thankful that we have a season like summer to rejuvenate, be lazy, and spend as a family.

Happy Birthday Kyra


My oldest child turned 6 today. She has anxiously waited for this moment for months. When Katie turned 4 back in March, she had already begun planning who she was going to invite, where she was going to have the party, and what she was going to eat. Unfortunately, due to my anxious/nervous personality, I had told her it wasn't going to be a grand affair. I can only take a party of several giggling girls every few years or so. I also find it kind of tough to invite classmates from her Kindergarten class, when she hasn't seen them in months and I didn't know many of them that well to begin with. But I'm going off on a tangent. I told her we would gather with family only, and she pleasantly nodded. She can be a very gracious child, for which I am very thankful.

We ended up having one of the best parties we've ever had. It's always great gathering with family, enjoying a little chat time while watching the kids race around the hallways...and Andrew trying to keep up. And who could resist the pigs in a blanket accompanied with chips, dip, and watermelon (the birthday girl's choice of entree')! After opening some presents and letting our "oh so healthy" dinner settle a bit, we dug into my first ever "barbie cake." I have to say, I think it was my best cake ever (and really good tasting too). I hated to eat it, and ruin my glorious creation. But all good things must come to an end right? But the evening didn't end, because we decided to surprise the birthday girl with a bonfire (one of her favorite things to do), along with the company of some good friends. She hadn't seen her little friend Maia in so long, we were sure she'd be pleased. And she was, in fact, the bonfire was very short lived, and after a few attacks from mosquitos we headed inside and enjoyed some catching up time with friends while the kids played "store" with Kyra's new toy...a cash register.

Yes, I think she enjoyed her day, and is looking more like a six year old already (actually more like 7-8 year old). We love you, Kyra, and thank God every day for enriching our lives with your bubbly, caring, genuine life. You are such a precious gift to us.

Monarch Monday

My daughter, Katie, made this creation. Looks like a hodge podge of things right? Two picture frames, and a jewelry box. What in the world?
But let's take a closer look. What is that behind all those objects? Looks like a container of some sort, right?
Oh...a container with leaves. But what's inside that container?


Ahhh...it's a caterpillar!

Katie and I had a little one on one time the other day and went to the farmer's market. I expected to get some peaches or maybe a hairbow from a craft booth. But we found this instead. A lady and her son were selling butterfly kits and for only a few bucks. Katie was very intrigued, so I decided to indulge her, and figured both girls would get into it. I let her choose the kit (they had large caterpillars that were just about ready to make their chrysalis, or baby ones that you could watch grow). Of course Katie picked the baby ones, which just like regular babies, poop and eat all day. We are only 2 days into it and already lost 1 out of the 3 we were given (probably because we didn't clean out their home quickly enough. But hopefully we do a better job from here on out. Katie is thoroughly enjoying checking on her babies and has even gone on to make them a bedroom...hence the pictures of her creation. She likes to open their door and tells me to be quiet so they can rest and makes sure they have shade. It's fun watching her curiosity and tender heart wanting to help something grow. Now let's just hope we can keep the remaining two alive for the duration of their caterpillar life (especially since we are going camping soon and will have to take our leggy creatures with us for vacation!!).

Tiny Talk Tuesday

We're having a great summer over here in Michigan, and the laughter hasn't disappointed either. Here are a few of the things the kids have said/or done:

While driving past daddy's work (he's working at an elementary school):
Kyra: Wow, that's a great school dad. It has a great park.
Dad: Yeah, sometime you should come for lunch and you can play there for a bit.
Kyra: I bet if you asked your boss daddy, you could play tag during your break time!!
(I'm sure that's exactly what all of his coworkers want to do!!)

While getting ready to go outside:
Katie: Mom, it's too hot outside. I amn't going to go outside unless her's going.
(Yes, we teach our kids real proper around these here parts)

While getting ready for dinner:
Andrew: Bppppp.....Bpppppp.....Bpppppp
(I kept hearing Andrew blow raspberries, so I looked over and noticed his head was down and he was blowing raspberries and then watching the drool run down his bib. Yes, he's learning some great tricks! I think everyone's had a little too much sun around here, but boy do they make us smile.)

If you'd like to read more tiny talk, just visit Mary's.

Wordless Wednesday






Hessel


Well, another year has come and gone at our cabin in Hessel. After my hubby missed going last year for the first time ever (minor set back with having a baby and all), he was chomping at the bit to go. And he wasn't disappointed with the fishing either. They seemed to catch more fish then they have in the last few years. They caught pike, herring, salmon, perch, and some suckers too. Unfortunately I don't have a single picture of any of their fish. I do however, have plenty pictures of my little fish. My kiddos were lovin the water this year. Perhaps it was because the normally cool temps in Hessel were just about warmer than we've ever seen, and warrented a good dip in the lake. Seriously, the mornings in Hessel usually require a sweatshirt until about 11:00 am, and cool off around 7:00 pm...and that's on a warm day. But I don't think we needed a sweatshirt once. It was even in the 90's a few of the days...and the only air conditioning we had was the warm breeze that floated into our rooms off the water's edge. But even in the heat, the kids had a blast.


The girls followed my hubby's cousin's kids around like shadows the whole time. Thank goodness they stay for the whole week (their parents typically go home after a few days, and leave the kids with their grandma and grandpa) otherwise our kids would be lost without them. Kyra would be up at the crack of dawn asking to see Carlye at her cabin. I would have to tell her that unlike her, Carlye was probably still sleeping at the hour of 6:30 am on vacation...hoping she'd take the hint. If it were up to Kyra, she'd stay another week. Yes, the girls really had a great time running around in the sand, riding bikes down to the little grocery store by the marina, and fishing as well. They both loved fishing with daddy, but for the first time Kyra caught 3 perch by herself. She cast it out, and reeled it in. Katie caught a couple too, but needed help reeling it in. The girls also made friends with a woman at the marina...who had a 65 foot boat! They had a tour and everything. Must be rough with granite kitchen countertops in your yacht.

Andrew seemed to do pretty well at Hessel too. Although I did have to grab hands full of sand out of his mouth a few times and carry him a bit more than usual (so he wouldn't crawl through the gravel or race to the shore), he did pretty well. He took great naps and slept well through the night, allowing me to have some moments of rest. It definitely was nice to not be far from the beach. Because so many times we have gone to a beach and had to leave early, because Andrew was getting cranky. I would have to tell the girls we have to pack and up and leave, and they would grumble that we always leave because of Andrew. This time, the girls could continue in their fun while I put him down to rest.

And me? Well let's just say I had an aokay time. Now that a few weeks have gone by, I am able to reflect on more of a positive note, although I wasn't so positive a good deal of the time I was there. Let's just say I would have been a little more of a happy camper if my hubby would have come home from fishing at a decent time and not left me with the kids ALL day. But a lot of having fun has to come from your attitude and I just didn't have a great attitude after the guys missed dinner twice to allow for their fishing fix. Looking back though, I do realize it was very nice to get away and enjoy time chatting with extended family, watching my kids have a blast, and looking at the beautiful view. The water is so calm and peaceful in the morning, that it's almost mesmorizing to watch.
Perhaps my best moment though was our one and only family ride in our boat. We drove out just before dusk, and trolled in and out of the little islands by the bay. We docked the boat on a sandy shoal on one of the islands while trying to catch a few fish. The girls got off the boat to run around and chase each other for a few minutes. Just then the hubs caught a perch. It was a keeper, but we had nothing to put it in. Finally he found a plastic bag, in which Kyra filled up with a little water, and we slid him in. But then the girls wanted back in the boat, so the hubs needed to help them back aboard. I grabbed the plastic bag in one hand, while he gave me his huge cane fishing pole to hold in the other hand. Meanwhile, with both hands preoccupied, I had Andrew tugging on my legs trying to stand up in the wobbly boat. Then wouldn't you know, I caught a fish. The hubs shouted, pull it up...pull it up! So with one hand, and all other limbs preoccupied, I pulled up and caught a fish who then flew right at me (since I didn't have any hands to grab the line). Yes, it was quite a sight to see. I'm sure that would have been funniest video worthy had we caught it on tape.

Cake Psychology



After uploading photos from Andrew's birthday, the girls wanted to see their pictures when they turned one. Of course I'm always up for reminiscing, so we looked back and took a glance down memory lane. Funny thing was, upon viewing their pictures, I realized that the way they ate their cake holds true to their personalities.

Kyra: As you can see she is using a spoon and already careful not to get too messy. She is my stickler for rules, my organizer, my cautious, and careful to do things correctly kiddo. She has never been one to get her hands messy, and to this day will still not help in the garden for fear of getting dirt on her clothes or on her hands. Rules and order bring peace to her life. While even learning to write, she has always wanted to know the correct spelling for fear of writing the incorrect spelling on her crisp white sheet of paper.

Katie: Here we have a girl that wants to carefully inspect her cake and feel it's texture before she takes a chance at eating it. Katie has always been my independant, exploritory, defiant one. She doesn't want anyone to show her how to do anything. She wants to discover for herself how to do things in her own time. But she's not afraid to get her hands dirty either. To this day, she has to examine new foods before she will put them in her mouth. But she's willing to do the dirty work to show the world what she can accomplish. Just the other day we went to pick wild blackberries and fearing that she might get poked by the thorns, I pointed to a berry that would be easy for her to pick. She defiantly said, "No! I'll do it my own self momma!" and proceeded to reach into the thorns for a big ripe berry.

Andrew: Even though he is so young, I bet this picture will describe his personality well. You can see Andrew didn't hold back at all. At first he dug right in and felt the cake all over his fingers. He was merely content finger painting with the frosting. But once he tasted his chunky fingers, he dug right in. In the year that we have known him he has seemed to be a very tactile little boy. He studies his hands and movements all the time. And for the most part seems to be a child easily pleased with the simple pleasures of life. I believe he is going to be my fearless explorer, my larger than life, lover of creation, content little guy. We have already seen his ambition to walk when not knowing how to fall, and his several attempts at diving into the pool. And just this past weekend we went to the beach where he scooted all over the sand and attempting to creep closer to the mesmorizing waves. Of course he wouldn't stay under the umbrella for shade, but took in the sights all the while sifting the sand through his tiny fingers.

Happy 1st Birthday Andrew


Yesterday, Andrew turned one. My little baby is turning into a toddler now. Although I never want to show favoritism for one child over another, I can definitely see where the last one can truly become the eternal "baby". It is certainly hard to let go, when you know you'll never have another child again. And although I am sad to have a lot of last events, like a last 1st birthday, I am also very excited for our future. We are going to have fun as a family of five and I look forward to the joys and maybe even challenges that we are going to face.


I look back at the months that I have written about Andrew's progress and personality, and I know that for me he hasn't been the easiest child. I'm sure I have said this a number of times, but I was so certain that the third child was supposed to be one of the most complacent and easy going. This certainly wasn't the case. On top of the minor medical issues he had in the beginning of his life, he turned out to be quite a fussy child. He has never been much of a babbler, but boy does this child have lungs. He can scream like the dickens. There were certainly nights that I wished I could run away for the weekend and take a breather, because he seemed to be such a demanding child. But the funny thing is that despite the fact that he has seemed to be one of my most challenging children, I couldn't be happier. He may not play well by himself and gives up easily on things all the while crying for someone to do it for him, but he has a smile and giggle that can melt your heart. I really feel very complete with my three children.

Okay, so on to my little one year old. Andrew has finally learned how to crawl. And although it is a funny crawl (kind of gimpy), at least he is getting around and finally seems more content. Before, he would take a few steps, fall down and want to be picked up again so he could walk some more. We had to constantly be around him in case he fell, since he didn't properly know how to fall (he'd fall straight back or forward). Thankfully, after some work he now knows how to fall on his bum. In fact, the funny thing is, he has kind of given up on walking and reverted to crawling. And honestly, I am happy with that because I feel he is safer (he's already had two falls where his teeth have gone through his upper lip). He does still cruise around objects while walking but has seemed to given up for the time being on walking by himself.



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This month Andrew has also learned how to drink through a straw. I think transitioning from formula to milk in a sippy cup will be a walk in the park. And of course he is eating everything. I really don't think this child has a picky bone in his body. He's had everything from chicken to salmon and tomatoes to chick peas.
But the funniest thing to watch Andrew do is to play in the water. I realize at this age kids don't have fear of much, but this kid LOVES water. He splashes up a storm in the tub, and has tried to dive in the water face first at the pool. He's had a few rude awakenings, but the water in the face hasn't seemed to slow him down (unlike his sisters).

Yes, this has definitely been a challenging last year, but one filled with many joyful moments too. I'm excited to take on another year and see how this little guy's personality flourishes. Happy Birthday Andrew, we love you!






Wordless Wednesday

This is a little book Kyra put together all by herself for her mom and dad. The new found love in writing and drawing just doesn't get old. I love to see what this kid comes up with!!

the title page: "Dad and Mom Are in Love"


"Kevin is sad because he doesn't have any wives."

"Sarah is sad because she doesn't have any husbands."


"And Sarah and Kevin found eachother and fell in love and married and kissed."







Wordless Wednesday

Andrew's new talent. He looks a bit like a drunken sailor!



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Tiny Talk Tuesday

It's been awhile since I wrote about some of the things my kids say, but boy does my memory function at a low capacity with 3 kiddos.  If I don't write something down that instant, the next minute it's gone.  Yes, I'm afraid what my brain would do if I had 4 children!!  Anyway, here are a couple of the cute things they said, that I remembered:

While in the car:
Mom:  Hey Katie, can you tell me what the colors mean on the stop light?
Katie:  Sure, geen means go, red means stop, and yellow means slow poke.
(Uh huh!!  There you have it.  Kyra would have said slow down, since she's a stickler for the rules, but this is how the second one rolls!!)

While at the park:
(We were a little weary of letting our kids play at the park because there was a teenage couple hanging out and showing a little too much PDA.  Fortunately they left soon, but we were prepared for some questions...)
Kyra:  Daddy, how come you and mommy don't show each other that you love each other like that?
Dad:  Well, Kyra, we do...but we just chose to do it in a non public place like our house.  You've seen us kiss haven't you?
Kyra:  Ewww...yes in our kitchen, but that's not appropriate in front of children.
Dad:  And where would it be appropriate?
Kyra:  At the park.
(I guess we aren't showing appropriate examples of affection....according to our affection police!!  I'm so glad those teenagers were there to set a more fitting example-enter sarcasm)

If you'd like to read more tiny talk, just visit Mary's.

Andrew Update: 11 Months

Ever since Andrew discovered that he could take a few steps on his own, he doesn't want to stop.  The minute he falls down, he grabs for your hands to pull himself back to a standing position.  The child simply isn't happy unless he's walking.  The problem is...he doesn't know how to fall well.  In the month that he's been taking steps, he still is wobbly as ever.  He'll take 8 steps forward, and 3 steps back until he falls straight back and bumps his head.  Someone really has to watch him or he could really get hurt.  They already overestimated his capabilities in nursery last week, and he scraped the side of his face pretty good.  Yup, I think this boy will be in for some scrapes and bruises (comes with the territory right?).

Andrew still hasn't shown any interest in crawling, but he recently learned how to sit up from a lying down position.  I found him playing in his crib one day, and a few minutes later he figured out how to stand up.  The problem is now that he has this newfound trick, he has been falling asleep sitting up.  It was funny the first couple days, but now his naps have been cut short because he won't lay back down.  I think he's going to enjoy throwing us for a loop.

As far as eating goes, he is a human garbage disposal.  I think a few months ago I mentioned that he was a picky eater, but now I can't seem to get him to slow down.  He eats oatmeal, grapes, bananas, chicken, cheerios, and just about any kind of veggie.  I think the only thing he doesn't seem to care for at this point is cheese (which I'm sure will change).  I even have to be careful when I get a snack out for the girls, because if he's around he starts screaming at the top of his lungs to let you know he doesn't want to be left out (I'll never do that in the grocery store again!).  Yes, he's a boy of few words, but he certainly let's you know when he wants something.  In fact he's so impatient, that often just to be able to converse over dinner, we have sent him into the other room to watch a Baby Einstein video (obviously we won't do that forever, but for now it works, and he loves them!!)  And transitioning to a sippy cup was a breeze (unlike Katie who wouldn't start until she was nearly 18 months old).  He even sipped out of a straw the other day. 

In a month, he will be turning 1!!  My last snuggle bug is growing up and not wanting to snuggle so much.  But we are having a blast watching him learn so many new things.  The girls love to help guide him in his walking adventures, and give him bite size nibbles too.  Yes, we love ourselves some Andrew! 

A Visit from the Tooth Fairy

During yesterday's events at Tulip Time, Kyra finally lost her first tooth.  We have been anticipating this loss for a very long time now.  Over 6 months ago, her dentist said she had a couple of loose teeth.  And seeing as how I had a special pillow to put my lost teeth when I was a child, I felt like she should have one too.  So last fall I started my quest for a cute pillow.  I saw some chincy ones, and some very cute ones (although they were way too expensive).  Finally, I decided I would make her one and give it to her as a Christmas gift.  I found a simple pattern online and bought all the material.  Now I don't sew very much, but the pattern seemed simple enough, so I decided to go for it.  Needless to say it took me a little longer than anticipated.  It was made out of felt and required a bit of glueing which is where the problems came to play.  Whip stitching over felt glue is not easy work.  My fingers were paying the price, but I was determined to see the project through.  In the end I was very pleased with the fruits of my labor, but I'm not sure I would ever do it again.


With the pillow complete we simply had to wait for her little tooth to fall out.  So we waited, and waited...until finally this past month her tooth clearly became very loose.  We encouraged her to wiggle it, and teased her about tying it to a string and door while slamming it shut.  But in the end we let her do it in her own time.  My hubby said, just be careful not to swallow it!  I said, well surely that won't happen.  She'll certainly feel it when it comes out.

But this afternoon, she ran to me and told me she lost her tooth.  Oh congratulations, I said, where is it?  No, she said I lost it and can't find it.  Funny thing is, once we told her daddy, he knew exactly where it was.  At the restaurant today she was eating a corn dog and had bit into something crunchy.  When she showed her dad, he said it must be a piece of a bone from the hot dog!  Come on, a piece of a bone?  Now when have you ever found a bone in a hot dog?  Those things are as processed as they come.  But he didn't think much of it until she told him she lost her tooth.  So, now her tooth lies at the restaurant with the corn dog!

This evening Kyra wrote a note to the tooth fairy, hoping that she'll take a note instead of a tooth.  And maybe next time if she bites into something crunchy, we'll have a better idea of what it really is!


Tulip Time


It was an exciting day for us today.  We were headed to Tulip Time to enjoy some fun activities for the kids and look at some beautiful tulips.  The kids were excited because we haven't done a whole lot of fun activities in awhile.  Spring cleaning, planting, weeding, gearing up for surgery, and trying to build a bathroom in our basement has been our focus for the last couple of months so I think they are feeling a little cooped up.  And this momma wasn't feeling too different.  I was ready to take a day off and enjoy the great outdoors.

Although the day started off rainy, the sun made its appearance later in the day and made for a pleasant afternoon.  The tulips were some of the best I've seen in years.  There were such vibrant colors and they were so incredibly tall.  They looked like tulips on steriods!  Being outside and seeing all the flowers really does wonders for your soul.  I know it doesn't produce food like a vegetable or fruit garden, but seeing so many variety of colors just brings out the beauty in God's creation. 

The fun part of the day though was taking part in the kinderplaats festivities at Tulip Time.  Although we have gone to the festival a couple years in a row now, we have never done Kinderplaats.  It basically consists of  booths with activities or crafts for kids, some dancing for entertainment, a petting zoo area, and a hand full of bouncy rides.  Yet, there were so many things to choose from, we had to leave to get lunch and come back again.

Kyra and Daddy holding a Boa Constrictor!  Didn't know either of them were that brave!

Speaking of lunch, that was one of the best parts as well.  We went to New Holland Brewing Co. for lunch, and it was wonderful.  I had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I have had in a long time.  Of course spending the day with good friends we don't get to see very often made the day as well.  There really isn't much I could say that went bad today.  Perhaps it's because we haven't gone out as a family in awhile, or perhaps it is because the weather is turning around.  Either way, it was a very fulfilling day.

In Your Hands

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds, in Christ. -Phillipians 4:6-7

Dear Lord,

You know my heart.  You know I am a worrier.  I worry about my children growing up to know you.  I worry about what their lives will be like as teenagers.  I worry about their little self esteems and falls and spills they might make.  I worry about predators lurking around ready to prey on their innocent souls.  The list goes on and on.  But worrying never accomplished anything.  I am aware of that, and try daily to put their lives in your hands.  I am asking that you be especially with Andrew tomorrow as he heads to surgery.  I am trusting you with his care.  I am trusting that you watch over his surgeon and give him steady hands.  He is your child and I know you love him more than I can love him.  I trust that you will help me through the week and give me the patience and strength to care for him.  I pray that you give him a speedy recovery.  You are in control Lord, and I pray you help me surrender my heart and give us peace.  I put my son in Your hands. Thank you for your unfailing love.

Sarah

Andrew Update: 10 Months

This past month, Andrew finally rolled over from his back to his tummy, and is now rolling all over the place (hallelujah!!).  Talk about a late bloomer!  I continued to have concerns of him having delayed development, but the pediatrician didn't show any concerns.  He is pretty much on track in all other areas of his development.  So I guess I'll try not to be too concerned and count my blessings that he is still somewhat containable.  And although he may not be crawling yet, he is showing some interest in walking!  He might just be one of those kids who learn to walk before they crawl.  He has stood up for at least 10 second intervals and has taken up to 5 steps on his own.  However, I think it will still be a little while until he really takes off, because his tummy muscles are still not strong enough to keep him upright for that long (not to mention he doesn't know how to pull himself up on objects either).  He definitely looks like a drunken soldier.  The problem is, he thinks he can take off on his own, and wants us to let go of his hands.  We figured that between the Johnny Jumper and the Exersaucer, they have both given him a false sense of security.  He thinks he can walk without help because he was able to walk around in little circles with the aid of his toys.  It really is quite funny to see how independent he wants to become though.  Even if we put him up to the couch, he won't hold on.  His whole body shakes with excitement at the thought of taking off.

So for a long time, I thought that maybe he might just be this laid back kid, with an easy going type of personality (since he showed no interest in rolling over or crawling toward any objects).  But after seeing his newfound joy in walking, and especially his frustration when I set him back down, I don't think he'll be relaxed.  This kid is determined and he definitely lets you know when he is upset that he is on the floor.  He instantly scooches back to my hands to grab on and pull himself back up to a standing position.  He has places to see and he wants to go now!

As far as eating goes, he is finally done nursing.  It was a bit of a bittersweet event.  Like I wrote last time, I was getting a little frustrated with the biting, and distraction he was showing while nursing.  It was taking me forever to feed him because he kept whipping his head in another direction to look at something else.  Although he had nursed better than the girls had, and I was glad that it had been a more enjoyable experience this last time around.  In a weird sort of way, I was a little sad to think that this would be the end of my nursing experience forever (seeing as he will be our last child).  But just like pregnancy, this phase of my life has finally ended.  Oh the emotional roller coaster us women put ourselves through.

I am enjoying the new found discoveries Andrew is making, and am excited to watch him grow.  Life is rarely boring with this little guy, or with any of our kids for that matter.  And although the crying and uncertainties may weigh heavy at times, I am very thankful that God entrusted us with his care.  He is a joy that keeps spreading in our life. 

Thankful Thursday

I'm not one for having a clean house.  Sure I often keep the house straightened up, but unless we have company coming over, you can often see a layer of dust covering the tables and dust bunnies parading across the floor.  Needless to say my temperment leaves for much to be desired while cleaning.  My hubs would rather turn around and walk back out the door if he knows I'm trying to beat the clock by packing in 3 weeks of cleaning in 3 hours worth of time.  And you would think I would learn over time, but the vicious cycle has continued throughout my whole marriage.  I am simply a bear.

I had hoped that the girls had a little more type A personality ingrained in them, so that they would not procrastinate like myself and only clean when they knew it was only absolutely necessary, but so far that trait isn't showing through.  We go through daily struggles of trying to put away Polly Pockets and Barbies in their correct spot or eating over their plate so as not to have crumbs all over the floor and table.  And I try and remember that they are just kids, and training them is a slow process, but I don't want bad habits to go by the way side either.  More often then not though, I get frustrated that they aren't cleaning on my time table, and I end up cleaning it up for them, so I get things done when I want and how (which I realize is a disservice to them, but hey I'm being honest).

But the other day I was in another one of my mad dashes to clean a lot in a short period of time, when Kyra asked if I could play a game with her.  I hastily reminded her that we had company coming and if she wanted to enjoy her time with them, then I had to focus on cleaning at the moment.  She walked away looking somewhat defeated, but I blew it off while thinking to myself..."if she would clean up more of her mess more often then maybe I wouldn't have so much to do right now!"  About 1/2 hour later, I went into my bedroom to find that she had folded all of our laundry.  I had never even taught her how to fold laundry, or asked her to do it for that matter.  And you know what?  She didn't do half bad.  I burst into a huge smile and told her what a fabulous job she did, and how proud I was of her.  She told me that she wanted to help us out and that she even organized it by person and season.  At that moment I was honored to have such a thoughtful daughter, especially after I had snapped at her in such a way. 

I am trying hard not to get so worked up over cleaning these days, and remember to ask my children way in advance to clean up and do their part, so they are learning responsibility too.  And I am trying to exhibit some of the grace to my children that God and Kyra have so earnestly shown me.


Andrew Update: 9 months

It's hard to believe our little guy is nearing 1 year old.  It seems like just yesterday we were planning on whether or not to have a third child, and now that third child is 9 months old!  Part of me wishes he wasn't growing so fast, and the other part of me (the part of me dealing with the teething and not knowing what all the fuss is about) can't wait for him to grow a little older.
As far as his daily routine goes.  He is doing wonderful.  He pretty much eats the same amount and at the same time every day (8:30 am, 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:30 pm).  When you have to be flexible with a baby, it is nice to have something predictable in life.  Now I definitely feel more comfortable going out in the evening with friends, since I know when his last feeding will be and when he'll go to sleep.  However, although he eats on a pretty regular basis, he isn't the best eater.  He's probably one of the pickiest eaters I've had.  He doesn't like most of the vegetables I've tried, and lets you know by shaking his head "no" and persing his lips shut.  I guess we'll just keep trying.

I have started to wean him off of nursing too.  I have kind of always had a love/hate relationship with nursing.  Nursing never went well with my girls.  I had infection after infection, and the process was mostly just painful.  The only reason I went as long as I did, was to save money.  But with Andrew, nursing has gone fairly smoothly (maybe it's a boy thing?).  I had periods of low milk supply, but I have just learned to suppliment.  But now that he is beginning to bite, and rips pulls off the bo*ob whenever he gets distracted (which is quite often), I think I am ready to start weaning him off.  The only problem is, I'm not so sure he's ready.  I thought he was ready, since it seemed to take him close to an hour now to nurse and that he seemed disinterested.  But now that I'm trying, his cues (ummm...turning his head in an obvious direction) tell me otherwise.  I guess we'll just take it slow and see how it goes. 

As far as Andrew's personality goes, he still seems to be a bit of a Momma's Boy.  Along with still being fussy in the evenings, he's also taken up the separation anxiety thing.  He will go to very few people, but if he does go to someone, he is very affectionate with them.  He has such a loveable, cuddly personality.  And the girls love this about him.  Katie has gotten much better about giving him space, but now Kyra seems to be giving him more kisses then ever.  I think his cheeks just have pinch me written all over them.  He has started to babble a little bit too...saying dadada, but in general he's just content to sit quietly and watch his surroundings. 

His favorite toy seems to be the Johnny Jumper.  This kid really gets going.  He jumps quite high, and reaches the door jams within seconds.  He still hasn't rolled on his belly yet, so who knows if he'll ever crawl.  But at the moment, I'm fine with that.  It's kind of nice that I can prolong the childproofing for just a little bit longer.  When I do put him on his belly, he rolls instantly back to his back.  I think he's going to just start scaling furniture throughout the house.  His legs are like tree stumps.  I mean this kid has some muscle.  Yes, our little boy is growing up fast.  Although I am easily frustrated by the bouts of fussiness.  The games of peekaboo, and "so big" are very rewarding.

Happy Birthday Katie

Katelyn

Age: 4

Personality:  Carefree, girly, defiant, hands on, quiet, impulsive, shy, moody, determined, imaginative

Favorites:
Food:  PB&J, strawberry oatmeal, corn on the cob, cucumbers, apples, pizza, chicken enchiladas, salad, crackers, chocolate milk, and chips
Songs: Kenny Chesney's "Young", My God is So Big, The B.I.B.L.E.
Books:  Barbie books, Dora the Explorer books, and Strawberry Shortcake books (notice the girly trend?)
TV Shows:  Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, My Friend Rabbit, Willa's Wildlife
Movies:  Meet the Robinsons, TinkerBell, Madagascar, Princess Stories, Ice Age Dawn of the Dinasaurs
Games:  Chutes and Ladders, puzzles, PBSkids.org games
Toys:  Polly Pockets, Barbies, dress up, blocks for building towers/homes for Polly Pockets or Barbies, stroller for playing house, coloring books, and playdoh
Activities w/Mommy:  baking, reading, cuddling while watching movies, dancing contests
Activities w/Daddy:  cooking, helping with building projects, exploring outside

You wanted tacos, chips, chicken, and water for your birthday dinner (interesting combo?)

Dear Katie,
This year has been a challenging, but fulfilling year with you.  We started off a little rocky with efforts of getting you potty trained.  I had hoped to have you potty trained before Andrew was born, but you wanted nothing to do with it.  No matter what the incentive I gave or item taken away, you didn't seem to care.  You truly are a determined little girl.  At times our personalities really clashed and I didn't know where I was going to get the ambition to start a new day with you.  But finally, you seemed to "hit rock bottom" so to speak with the potty training issue, and things started turning around.  I guess you really wanted to learn in your own time.

As you are getting older, your personality is certainly flourishing.  Along with being determined to do things however and whenever you please, you also have quite an imagination.  With Kyra being in school all day, I worried about how we would occupy the days.  But you sometimes go a couple hours making up songs, role playing with your barbies and polly pockets and toy animals.  I have to be careful to remember to set some time aside for you, otherwise I could easily forget you are in the other room.  I have enjoyed watching you build really detailed towers and rooms for your dolls.  They have been complete with kitchen and bathroom!  Your coloring skills have also greatly improved.  Although we are still working on the alphabet, you love to write random letters and pretend to write a story like your big sister.  But perhaps what I like to see best is how you interact with Daddy.  You love to work on projects with him.  The other day you were helping him work on the plumbing in the bathroom.  You were cutting the pipe and working with flux with a little guidance from dad.  You love a challenge, but you don't want any help.  You certainly want to do it your "own self."

Yes, Katie I love your spunky attitude.  You definitely march to the beat of your own drum.  You're a quirky, loveable little girl and we hope to discover many new wonderful qualities about you in your 4th year of life.  Lots of love,

Mommy and Daddy

You wanted a unicorn cake for your birthday, surprisingly it was about the easiest cake I've had to make so far!

Grandpa Bob gave you prunes for your birthday.  Never a dull moment with Grandpa Bob.  Maybe that's where you get some of your quirkiness from?  Not surprising was the fact that you liked the gift.