Tuesday, June 21, 2016

JL turns 3!

Happy 3rd birthday to JL! She's been counting down for at least a week, and anxiously awaiting her birthday since JT's birthday in April!

For her birthday, we had samoa donuts (caramel & coconut) for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and birthday pancakes for dinner. She brought birthday napkins to Sunday School for her friends to use at snack time. There was even a mango filled birthday cake in the afternoon. Grandma and Grandpa joined us for the day, and after they left, we spent an hour at the pool. What a fun-filled day!

JA singing one of her choir songs to Grandma.

Trying to hide behind the shade umbrella stand

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary! It's been a beautiful day today. Not too hot in the morning, and a nice relaxing day for the family during the heat of the afternoon. I made a yummy coffee cake for breakfast, but it wasn't ready when we had to get out the door for church, so we ate it for afternoon snack instead. JT said he thought it was just okay, and then he did eat 2 full pieces. :) Everyone else enjoyed it, too. Papi's making dinner, and the kids are watching a movie. I'm here, thinking of you, and wishing you were here to enjoy my family and celebrate with us.

We used to enjoy sharing our birthday month, didn't we? I had forgotten about that. When JMC was born early, and I suddenly shared by special month, after years of having it all to myself, I was just a bit disappointed. And then, God sent us JL, just 3 days after my birthday, and I was let down a bit more. But today, I remember sharing the month of June with you, and I am grateful to share my month with 2 of my children now. It's been fun planning with them, choosing what we'll do on who's birthday, spreading the celebration throughout the second half of the month. Making sure to include all of our favorite activities and meals, without taking away from anyone's special day.

Leading up to today, I kept thinking that I had plans for the 12th. Then, I'd check the calendar and it was empty. Strange. Why did I think I had plans? Oh, yeah, because for the first 18 years of my life, I did have plans on June 12th. If we didn't get together, we at least talked on the phone. It wasn't just some other day, but the birthday of one of my most favorite people. Even though I don't get to see you today, nor talk to you on the phone, I still remember and celebrate your birthday on the 12th.

You would love my family, and they would love you, too. I talk to them about you. Did you know that? I tell them how special you were to me, and I pray that they have someone in their life they can always trust, always turn to. Part of me wishes to be that for them, but I also know there comes a time in adolescence that trusting the parents completely becomes a bit of a stretch. When and if that happens, I pray each one has someone like you.

How did you ever manage to write to me every.single.week. while I was at Dordt? Those letters were so meaningful to me, at a time I felt out of place. I got the last one after returning to school from your funeral. I still have that letter in my drawer. Anyway, I tried to write regularly to my nieces this past year. One went to college, and the other joined the military. I knew they were each going to have to adjust, and may have times of feeling out of place. I tried to write to them, to encourage them, but I didn't manage it nearly as well, nor as often, as you did for me. It's a result of my phase of life, I suppose, but I was disappointed in myself for it. I'll try again this fall, with about the same lackluster rate of success, but maybe trying despite failure is part of the blessing.

How old would you be this year? It's been bugging me that I can't remember. I'm going to be 38 this week. Can you imagine?! The last birthday you celebrated with me, I turned 18. You gave me bath towels to take to school with me; white towels so I could bleach them and keep them looking new. :)

We didn't have birthday cake, nor sing "Happy Birthday," but I celebrated you today. I remembered so many special memories: going to the mall together, watching the deer out your window, roasting marshmallows in the fireplace, joking about bra sizes. Thank you. And, happy birthday!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Creation to the Greeks

For the 2015-2016 school year, we studied history from Creation to Ancient Greece. JMC & JL even joined us for most of the science experiments and some of the art projects. Music appreciation was normally during lunch, and now JL has a particular fondness for Vivaldi & Bach, though she never quite took to Handel. :)

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the year.

Everyone busy working on something!!

During one of the Biblical feasts we studied & celebrated this year.

still life drawing

the green soccer ball represents the sun, then the planets in order, somewhat to scale

Learning about bird feathers, and how they are similar to velcro

basket weaving with construction paper (note the Steelers' colors JT chose.)

JA went for a natural look with 2 shades of brown.

Next year we will continue with history in chronological order, studying Ancient Rome through the Reformation. The science book we used this year was amazing, so we'll be continuing with the next in the series, which teaches scientific concepts in the order they were discovered, along with biographies of the scientists of the time. So fun!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Radio Station & Zoo Field Trip

In April, we went on a field trip with 2 other families to the local Christian radio station. We were the first to arrive(!) and hung out in the lobby for awhile until our friends came and it was time to begin.

We'd been waiting awhile by this time (being early isn't always a bed of roses...)

About to begin!

I kept JL on my back for the first 2/3 of the field trip because I wasn't sure how'd she do with all of the equipment there. After awhile I let her down, and she did fine. One funny thing, though, is that a man introduced himself to me, and then said, with a very concerned tone of voice, "Mam, there's a baby growing out of your back!" I pretended to be shocked and asked if that's where babies normally grow. :) The kids thought this was so funny.

The first room is where the live portions of the radio are done. The room was available for us that morning because the host prerecorded her time in anticipation of our visit. I thought that was incredibly kind of her. We learned a bit about the radio and also that all phone calls are recorded and played later; phone calls are never put on the radio live. The moms understood this, of course, but the kids found this quite new and interesting to think about.

Susan explaining the various computers and programs.

JMC asked, "How exactly do you get the music from your computer to our car and our house?" Susan explained sound waves and how they travel through the air to the antenna. JMC understood (I think) and was excited to see the station's big tower and compare it to the little tower (antenna) on our van.

All the kids who wanted to got to speak in the microphone and hear their voice played back. Susan also used a spiral on their voices, and told them she calls that the "squirrel voice."

The next room is where they make announcements and promotions. The kids were all asked to say "Happy Mother's Day!" into the microphone, but only the girls agreed to do it. Then, the moms were called up, and we were asked about what we love about being a mom, about our kids, and why we like the radio station. I babbled on, like I do, and when I turned around, my friend was teary. I guess I said something meaningful. :) I never heard any of us played on the radio, but I don't listen to it all day, so it's possible.

Waiting in line to read into a different microphone.
When I let JL down from my back, she held my hand for awhile, and then jumped into Mrs. A's arms. :)

Another radio host showing the kids some card games that are fun & educational.

Their giant radio tower. It was swaying in the wind and made me nervous. The HOPE letters light up from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but the city doesn't let them turn the lights on any other time.

JA and her friend K

JL wanted a picture, too. The boys did not want pictures. 

After the radio station, we ate lunch in our cars (it was too cold & windy for our planned picnic) and then we went to the nearby zoo. With our local zoo passes, we got in for half price, so that was great. There were supposed to be baby lions, but when we asked at the end of our visit, we were told they are only shown to the public on the weekends. :(

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Happy 9th Birthday, JT!

We celebrated JT all weekend, with his favorite meals & fun things to do. On Saturday, Grandma & Grandpa surprised us with a visit for the day, we had spaghetti for lunch (one of JT's favorite meals), and then enjoyed an afternoon of JT & JMC's soccer games (and Mami got her first good sunburn of the season.)

This morning we enjoyed chocolate-covered donuts for breakfast while Papi set up the sound system for church. After church, we played at a park, went to Chuck E Cheese, had our traditional birthday pancakes for lunch, and personal pizzas for dinner. JA chose some thoughtful gifts for JT, and he also enjoyed opening many birthday cards, a new Italy soccer jersey, a new swim shirt, & a new game for his DS. Papi & JT went to the video game store during nap time and bought a new Wii game. We played outside before dinner, including a game of one-on-one for Papi and JT. After dinner, the S family came over for birthday cake, and we surprised JT with trick candles that kept relighting. Overall, it was a great weekend.

Showing off his "Professor Gilderoy Lockhart" grin (It's from book 2 of Harry Potter & a fun inside joke with JT & Mami.

We surprised JT with gifts & cards by putting them on the table while he was somewhere else in the house. :)

Reading the card from JA

Making a tiny mud house

JL has been asking for a bicycle of her own (she says it needs to be pink or purple) and today we got this tricycle we've saved from the older kids out of the shed for her. She didn't even mention the fact that it's not her preferred colors. :)

I can't flip the photo, but this is the Steelers' symbol, one of JT's requested cake ideas. The cake is a zucchini chocolate cake with a coconut cream frosting. JT's favorite!

Showing off his gift from JA. (A light up drawing tablet)