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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer of Friends

Last summer Nathan only wanted to play with Lego blocks in his room, building whatever came to mind.  This summer was quite different.  He wanted to constantly play with friends.  For the first part of summer we had baseball that fullfilled this need.  After baseball season though, we had to get busy scheduling.

One of Nathan's closest friends, William.  The two have known each other for a few years now and met during bible study on Tuesday mornings.  Nathan was not very socially outgoing at the time.  We were worried how he would do at school until I met William's mom at the school's orientation night and we realized our boys were in the same class.   During the last two years we've become very good friends with William's lovely family.  Their older daughters Hannah and Abigail have been such a blessing to Abigail especially and of course to Isabelle too.  Their mom and I really get along well and have enjoyed bible studies/tea parties together.  It has been so much fun.  We sure are happy Nathan and William get along so well.

Nathan met Caleb this year at school.  Caleb will continue with school at home but hopefully we will still see him sometimes.

Cole and Nathan have spent two baseball seasons together and get along real well.  As with William, we get along really well with all of Cole's family.  They are a close family, including grandparents who frequently come to cheer Cole on during his games.  Sunny, Cole's mom, has been a great resource to me, especially as we got Copper and had some questions about dogs.  Cole has two older brothers (17 and 12) whose company Nathan enjoys.  They also own the log house David dreams of.  :-) 

Where The Road Leads You...

On our way to our destination, we took a little side trip.  We found ice caves!  Apparently I have become claustrophobic in my young age.  So Dave only went with the kids and I hid behind the dog and the toddler.  :-)  The kids had a great time exploring and Nathan took such great care of Abigail, making sure she wasn't scared.

One of my favorite things we did this summer (besides parades and camping), was having a fire outside in our pit in the backyard.  We even roasted marshmallows there.  The evenings were so relaxing and the kids very cuddly. 

There was even room for Copper!

First Camping Trip 2013

The first camping trip of the year for us was to beautiful Paradise Creek, southwest of Mt. Adams.  The camping ground is just gorgeous.  Huge evergreen trees all around us.  There were strange bugs in the afternoon but they would vanish when it got dark.  Grandma also came along for this trip.  And of course, Copper!

Copper settling into his new home.  He gets protective toward strangers in these campgrounds.

Our little space which was perfect for us.  The log in the background kept Isabelle close to us but let the older kids climb.  Right behind us was a little space with a hill to the left that the kids could roam.  They went into that space for adventure.  They made up places like "Elk Valley" and the likes.  Some were not to be entered.  Scary.  That is also our new tent.  After about 10 years of camping, our good old tent got a big tear right at the seam and could not be mended.  This tent is nice though, it pops right up.

A fire!  We love campfires.  They are the beginning to teas and marshmallows.  

Bringing all the "gear" in.

Grandma gifted David and I a hammock.  It was a big hit, especially with little Isabellies and daddy.

Grandma also brought coloring books which Abigail was very excited about.  

Isabelle was taking a nap in the tent.  Nathan just adores her so much, that when he saw her, he couldn't help himself and woke her up.  Oh, sweetness, bless my heart.

Like I said, Isabelle loved the hammock.

Abigail eating her smore.  Yum, yum.

Isabelle also loved having tea and scooping it out of the cup with her spoon.

Grandma enjoying her cup of coffee.  After quitting smoking, her coffee is a must.

Firestarters.  Nathan loves when dad lets him help start a fire.

Fourth of July, 2013

This Fourth of July we spent with friends in a nearby town.  Their kids are a little younger than our two oldest ones but they had such a great time with their oldest girl, Rylee.  The kids were quite excited for their first parade of the year.  And for this one, the kids all dressed up in red, white and blue.

Isabelle and Rylee greeting one another.

Parades are so much fun.  Partially because Isabelle will continually sit with either me or dad.  :-)

Our friends, Kevin, Jaimie, Rylee and baby Ryker.

Grandma came along for this trip.   She too loves parades.  And in true form, she brought tons of candy for the kids to eat (since there isn't any candy at parades).  :-)

The kids eagerly waiting for the parade to start.

For Matze.  :-)

Isabelle telling daddy something important.

A squirrel!  Pay attention to how gently big boy Nathan is hugging the squirrel.  :-)  Sorry, bud.

Sidewalk view.

Lots of snuggels as the fire engines drive by and their sirens are loud.  It kind of scared Isabelle but mostly, she wanted to snuggle.  Fine by me!

After the parade, and after David got peed on by our friends' dog, we went home to do fireworks with the kids.  Our neighborhood puts an impressive display.  And our front yard makes a great viewing area.

The master at work.  He did a great show this year.

This year we made friends with the neighbors across the street.  They have a little girl, Kira, who is the granddaughter (and great-granddaughter).  Kira is 6 years old and Abby and her got along right away.  Abby just took Kira over to our house and so her parents spent the rest of the evening over at our place.  

I love taking these pictures with colored smoke bombs.

The master, boy in training and admiring fan.

It was a lovely day and we are glad we got to spend it with each other and grandma.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


For two years now, Abby has had her made-believe world.  She came up with it one day (as a similar alien-ness to my being from Germany).  She told me of her "land".  Over the span of two years, she uses this land, Everazendo, quite often in make-believe play.  She will make up her own language, call people from her land, tell us about silly customs, and even uses it for warfare when playing with Nathan (as in someone is attacking Everazendo).  She is also very protective of it, so Nathan cannot dare to attack her land.  If he is really frustrated with her, that is exactly the button he will push and it works like a charm...  He has been forbidden to do so.
Recently we were curious how Abby came up with the name Everazendo.  Both Nathan and Abby immediately informed us that it was mentioned at the beginning of each Super Friends episode (a gift from Uncle Chris).  We deduced that they must have misunderstood something.  That something?  "Ever assembled."  Yep.  The great mystery and wonderful land was a simple misunderstanding....  Oh well, it is a beautiful land to us.

"Gathered together from the cosmic reaches of the universe – here in this great hall of justice - are the most powerful forces of good ever assembled." Super Friends Narrator

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Where It's At - Nathan (7)

Nathan is a real companion (for lack of a better word) at this age.  This is another one of my favorite ages.  We can have great conversations.  We can do things together that are fun for me also (not that little kids' games aren't fun, but you know what I mean?).  We can compete with each other.  We can enjoy each other's company.  And he is a formidable helper.  He can do some serious housework now (yay!).  It is great to have a Nathan in your life!

If you were living with Nathan, these would be some of the things you'd hear:

  • "AWESOME!"
  • "Copper, come!"
  • "Abby, I'm attacking you."
  • "Baby Bella" (for Isabelle whom he adores)
  • "Can we look online?"
  • "Can I have candy?
  • "Can I watch TV?"
  • "Can I play the Wii?" (The last four are always asked in order, every day, at least five times.) 

If you were living with Nathan, these are some of the things you'd notice:

  • How competitive a seven-year old boy is
  • How very physical this boy is.  He is all muscle, no joke. Even a doctor at a check-up feeling his stomach commented on it.
  • He loves baseball.  He is starting to breathe it.  Sound familiar?  (Only if you know my husband...)
  • He is separating from Mom while at the same time he is really to attaching to dad.  He will start a sentence speaking to me, turn around mid-sentence and excitedly go to dad and tell him instead. :-(
  • Loves playing with his friends and seems to need this now.  Last summer he was very content playing with Legos.  This year he wants to play with his friends.  Friends are William and Caleb from school, Cole from baseball (he also likes Gavin and Natedog), Carter and Evan, Tate and Zane.
  • His favorite foods are blueberry bagels, ham sandwiches or just toast and butter, chicken nuggets with BBQ sauce, cherry avocado smoothie, mom's oven-roasted hamburgers.
  • Favorite music includes last year's VBC CD and "nun-nun-nun-nun-nun" in a heavy metal kind of tune (we are not sure where he got it from.
  • His dancing consists of push-ups, headstands, etc
  • Nathan prefers TV to reading.  He got frustrated reading because Abigail reads so much better and at this age, everything is a competition.  He still loves to be read to, especially bible stories, moral  stories or hero stories.  He does enjoy chapter books but is too impatient sometimes.  We read many books of the Magic Tree House series and all of the currently published The Imagination Station chapter books.
  • He loves when people tell him about history, especially battles.  He is very interested in war.  It was hard for him to understanding that Germans were the bad guys when we read about Corrie ten Boom in The Imagination Station book.
  • Nathan is excellent at math.  He has his daddy's brain.
  • Enjoys more challenging games now, especially strategic ones  (like Connect Four).  He also makes up his own games (papers and papers and papers stapled together and scribbled on as well as drawn on).
  • Loves anything outdoorsy - fishing, camping.  Was very sad the last time we stopped camping.
  • He gets queezy when he sees blood or when someone is getting shots.
  • He is very messy at this age.  It is strange because he used to be so good!
  • He looks up to older kids now.  His focus is starting to direct itself toward peers.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Where It's At - Abigail (5 1/2)

Oh my goodness, do I love this little girl in my life!  Life with Abby is anything but dull.  She is extraordinary, fun, bursting with life, brightening your day, full of music and sounds.  She is loud and quiet, all in the same day, and not much in between.  If I had to describe Abigail's character in a nutshell, she knows exactly who she is and what she wants.  No second thoughts about it.  She is herself and always true to that.  How that happened with a mother who is still unsure at 38, only God knows.  But it is so very good for my soul.

If you were living with Abigail, these would be some phrases you would frequently hear:

  • "Can you put my music on?"
  • "Can you read this to me?"
  • "Can I have candy?" (many times a day she asks....)
  • "Can you stay with me?"
  • "Can you rub my back?"  (This she can have for hours on end.)
  • "NATHA-AN!"
  • "But Nathan was being mean to me!" (Excuses any of her bad behavior.)
  • "Isabelle!  Give that back to me!"
  • "I just went to the potty!"(if asked to eat her dinner)
If you were to live with Abigail, you would notice the following:
  • Abigail loves any form of expression: coloring, language, written word, music, dance.  She listens to music any time possible.  Last weekend I gave her a very own CD player.  It was a big day.  Now there is even more music in our day.  Her favorite music are her numerous Veggie Tales music CDs, particularly Sweatpea.  She also likes her VBC CD.  She will listen to other music CDs occasionally (like her Elmo ones) but not very often.  Lately, she has been wanting to listen to daddy's music on the radio.  During car rides, if I haven't already put it on, she will remind me frequently to please put her music on.
  • She is exploding with life.  Sometimes I wonder how her little body can hold all of it in.  She has the most infectious laugh and when she laughs, her whole face laughs.  Her eyes just glitter.
  • She still gets compliments on her hair daily.  People just love her haircut. (Thank you, Frankie for choosing one for me when I had no clue what to do.)  Abigail loves her haircut as well, but more for practical reasons.  This she got from me (practicality).  :-)  Thanks to my mom for the genetic material for such great hair!  Or maybe it is her personality coming out?
  • She just loves animals, particularly Daisy and Copper.  She made Daisy put up with her and all other kids in our house.  It started with Abigail just laying in front of the bed where Daisy was hiding from her under.  Then as Daisy wasn't so scared anymore, she lay next to her and just talk to her.  Now she can pick Daisy up and carry her anywhere (not that Daisy particularly likes this but she does somehow like the little redhead and puts up with being carried around).
  • Abigail is determined (aka stubborn).  This will get her far in life and is a great trait for a successful girl.  It is what makes her learn the she piano by herself, makes her knit by herself, made her learn to read (at 2nd grade level  - fluently when she was only 5 years old).  It is hard for a mama sometimes....
  •  Most days though she is an excellent help to me. She empties the dishwasher, helps cooking, does an excellent job mopping floors, sweeping floors, folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher.
  • Abigail loves to dance, so we are thinking about enrolling her into ballet classes.  I love the idea of my little girl doing ballet. :-)
  • Abigail has been fortunate to have two girls playing and guiding her over the last two summers and one winter break.  Abigail (13) and Hannah (8) (Tanya's girls and Williams sisters) have been loving playing with her although their age differences.  Abigail picks up so many good habits from them and applies them in other areas of her life (such as playing with cousin Olive).  Other friends of hers are Katiree (Beth), Evan (Melissa), Hailey (Sarah).  During baseball season she also made friends with a little girl named Grace (Natedog's sister).  She also made friends with a neighbor girl, Kira. The two of them walk around holding hands.  It's really cute.
  • Abigail's favorite foods include just about any and all dairy (which I took away in order to give her tummy a break), crackers (Ritz or Goldfish), fruits (raspberries are her very favorite), noodles (plain preferred), Chicken noodle soup, and saltines.  She loves to drink lemonade, milk and not much else.  She is not fond of any meat other than sausage.
  • Abigail still likes to color but prefers a very sloppy and expressive style.  The lines are optional in her world and she actually prefers not to stay in them.
  • Books, books, books.  Abigail loves books.  If you know the show "the Middle", Abigail's love for books rivals that of Brick's.  Her favorites include Berenstain Bears, Amelia Bedelia, Veggie Tales, Dr. Seuss.  She loves for me to read her Berenstain Bears and Madeline (Bemelmans), Are You My Mother, Dr. Seuss, Veggie Tales.
  • Abigail has her own style when it comes to clothes.  Usually it is very colorful.  And winter boots are totally acceptable to wear with summer clothes.  Barefoot is actually preferred.
  • Abigail does not like to be alone.  She even wants me to come into the bathroom with her or into the shower stall (which I do not do, just for the record).  She is happy to have a sister in her room but would much rather have Isabelle sleep in the same bed (which Isabelle declines).

Abigail wanted to type as well.  Here is what she said:

mama. mammy loves yarn.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Where it's at - Isabelly (2)

Oh she is just so much fun!  This girl is at such a great age.  And she is a funny little one.  She makes me laugh every day.  She is the perfect last child.  She is easy-going, a good sleeper, a cuddler extraordinaire, a fantastic helper.  Some of these might be influenced by the fact that we had a little practice along the way.   Or just God's treat for us.

If you were living with Isabelle, here are some of the things you would hear daily:

  •  "One minute!" (as in one more minute please)
  • "Mama, I neeeed you."
  • "I need..(insert blank)....RIGHT NOW!"
  • "Whyee?"  (150+ times a day...coupled with Nathan's 7-year old "what-if" scenarios, this makes for some brain-twisting days.)

If you had the pleasure of living alongside Isabelle, here are some of things you would notice:

  • She loves blankets and makes makeshift ones out of pillows, handkerchiefs, any article of clothing and towels of any kind.  
  • Loves her "doggy" Copper.  She leads him by the collar and he patiently obliges and goes wherever she wants him to go.  How you ask?  Oh, she's figured out how to open his food container and secretly feeds him all throughout the day.  Emphasis on secretly and sneakily.  Took me a little while to figure this one out.  She also loves her kitty Daisy.  Daisy is NOT fond of the choke hug.
  • If you are immediate family (other than Rusty and Megan) or if you are Hannah or Abigail (daughters of Tanya) , you hear her talking non-stop.  Otherwise you would think she cannot talk.  She most likely will also act very shy around you.
  • After some time of not talking on the phone, she came to me the other day and handed me the phone.  "I want my Oma," she exclaimed.  We happily assisted her in dialing my mom's number.  Oma was quite excited to get a call from our littlest one after she hadn't really heard from her for a while.  And then Isabelle made up for lost time.... Tonight she wanted to call grandma for the first time....45 minutes later she was finally done talking!  Thank goodness for unlimited local phone calls.
  • She knows how to put shoes on feet (without tying) and how to put pants on.  She is very proud of this and will no longer allow me to put her pants on.  When she was little, she didn't like to wear hats much.  Now she definitely does.  Even in the midst of summer she wears a stylish winter hat.
  • She is quite fond of washing her hands and sitting on her potty (without results).
  • Plays with all kinds of doll houses (Grampy's Calico Critters Luxury Townhome, Little People Busy Day, Le Toy Van fairy house) for hours on end.  She is starting to enjoy Playmobil figurines, especially our Christmas people set and the baby Jesus is of course her favorite.  Baby dolls are her favorite.  She has adopted all of Abby's babies and added a few of her own.
  • Plays very well with sister and brother.  She adores them and is so very happy when they take the time to take her along.  She is also very good just playing by herself.
  • Hates brushing her teeth.
  • Thanks me for food and changing her diapers!  ("Tank you momee")
  • Requests Barney for TV shows but leaves after 2 minutes of it.
  • Likes to play the piano and seldom sings.  She actually sounds really good on the piano.  It never sounds like a baby hitting random keys.  Often times I think Abby is practicing and will find Isabelle playing.
  • Likes to mimics Nathan's Wii moves. She also gets down on the floor most times when does push-ups.  She does perfect push-ups, no lie.  It is quite funny to see a baby do perfect push-ups.  
  • Her friends her own age are Kezia (Beth) and Andrew (Melissa).  Obviously cousins Rosie and Olive (Megan) are her age.
  • Favorite foods are smoothies, grapes, raspberries, apples, and candy.  She also likes Nature Valley granola bars and chicken.  She is a very good eater!
  • Isabelle always goes to sleep with board books.  Some of her favorites are P.D. Eastman's "Go, Dog, Go", Curious George (particularly the bunny one - bunny runs away), "Thank You Bear", "Peas and Thank You" (Veggie Tales), "Bear Wants More", "Bear Feels Sick"
  • Isabelle does NOT perform for anyone.  You ask her to do something, she won't.  And reverse psychology does not work.  She's too smart for that.  :-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Isabelle's Funny Faces

Just to give you a laugh....

This is her newest funny face.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Beautiful Moments

A few nights ago Abigail danced for us.  It was a dance she made up all by herself and it was just beautiful to watch her.  As she twirled and bowed and pranced, it brought tears to her dad's eyes.  Abigail just loves music and it was evident in her beautiful dance.  Then Nathan showed us his "manly" dance that consisted of many headstands, push-ups and jumps off the furniture.  :-)  David and I just loved the moment and relished it.  It was beautiful.