Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kickin' it with Esther

It is no secret that Eva adores Esther. A.D.O.R.E.S., yes she does!

Yesterday, Esther was a little fussy as I was getting breakfast ready, sitting in her bouncer and waiting for her turn to eat. In sympathy, Eva sat down next to her and bounced her, which calmed the whimpering right away. In fact, I had to use a very stern voice to get Eva to actually leave the baby's side and come eat her own breakfast. She said, "but I don't like her to cry." Ohhhhh.

Immediately after breakfast, Eva ran to get some wooden blocks and sat down next to the bouncer again. Every time she sits down by Esther and starts talking to her, Esther's eyes get so alert and a crooked little smile lights up her face. Eva has discovered that all that singing, talking, and silly baby talk has the grandest reward ever when the little one actually beams you a happy smile. It is so, so, so fun to watch these two interact. I think that Eva gets more love from Esther than any of the rest of us.

Anyway, yesterday's game was baby soccer. Eva would take those little wooden blocks, hold them to Esther's pajama'd feet and say, "kick it, Esther!" at which point Eva would toss the block up in the air away from Esther's little toes. That would be followed by giggling (Eva), smiling (Esther), and lots of encouragement. "Good job, Esther! You'll be really good at this when you get bigger! Nice kick, Esther!"

I had to stop my puttering to watch the game and cheer along, it was so sweet. I am one proud soccer-mom!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week in review

I tend to build posts around pictures, so since our camera's gone missing, I've been wracking my brain for something to post about. Anything. Something. Well, I've finally got it. I'll write about our everyday lives. And you'll see them for what they really are... typical, routine, uninspiring, dare I say it: boring.

1. The camera is missing. Hopefully it will be found when we head home this week for Thanksgiving. We think Eric left it at his Dad's house when they went deer hunting a few weeks ago. I feel unable to enjoy the moment if I can't attempt to preserve it in digital format. Strange person, I am.

2. We have not had H1N1. We have had a run of the mill round of coughing and sore throats. Even poor little Esther experienced her first viral infection at the ripe old age of 6 weeks. She handled it gracefully (thanks be to God!), and we all pretty much better except for a lingering cough here and there. Nobody missed preschool or any other scheduled outing due to our illness, so it must not have been that bad. And to give it a positive spin, our well conditioned immune systems will probably be so strong that we won't get sick in Crookston during the upcoming long weekend.

3. When I said our lives were boring, I didn't really mean it. They are routine, but the routine was broken slightly last Sunday when we dedicated Esther. That was a fun day. The church was packed with the extended families of six or seven young children whose parents were promising to train them up in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Although we know that it is God who draws each one to himself and ultimately saves them, it is a solemn moment in which we dedicate ourselves, as parents, to the grand task of guiding our children towards the light of Christ. The children were prayed for, and the parents were prayed for that we might be able to portray the gospel and Jesus Christ as altogether lovely and desirable to our little ones. Lord, let that be so! I especially love the part where the pastor asks the rest of the church family if they will come along side the parents in this endeavor (in a few more and fancier words :). It is so affirming and reassuring to hear a hearty "we will" coming from the people you live life with throughout each week.

4. Following the dedication, we had a small gathering at our house. My parents and my sister and her family joined us for dinner and hanging out. The highlight, in my opinion, was the lovely chocolate cake with coconut-vanilla frosting.

5. Eva had a nice week of preschool. The theme this week was Thanksgiving, since we are taking next week off altogether. Her teacher on Thursday told with me a few fun things that Eva had shared during the day. First, she raised her hand in confusion and insistence regarding the pilgrims, "The Pilgrims were immigrants, right?" Well, sort of. "No, they WERE immigrants." Well, technically they were, I guess. After hearing about Abraham Lincoln declaring Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, Eva raised her hand (again), "George Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln." Thank you for sharing, Eva. The teacher told me that they then launched into an explanation of assassinating presidents, and (of course) how killing someone is a sin. During show and tell time, Eva introduced her little people doll house and the people who come with it (dressed in apparel and colors reminiscent of the late 1990's). The people, however, were introduced as "Pa, but his real name is Charles. And Ma, but her real name is Caroline. And Mary, Laura..." You get the idea. Have I mentioned that Eva is obsessed?!?!

6. We've missed Eric a lot lately. Between deer hunting weekend and many evening meetings at church, it seems like we haven't seem a lot of him. One night as he headed out the door, Hope had a total meltdown. She sat crying on the floor, probably kicking and writhing, though I don't rightly remember. Anyway, she quickly got up and, through her crying and screaming, managed to put on her shoes, socks, coat, and mittens to go out and "find Daddy". After I locked the screen door and it became apparent that she wouldn't get out, she stood at the door crying, "He's LOST, he's LOST, he's LOST..." over and over again. I said it was pitiful and sad, but my mom (who overheard the ordeal on the phone) said I should blog about it. So here I am blogging.

7. Eric was busy as a beaver today. After a big cup of coffee this morning, he suggested that we wash the windows. After washing every window in the house, inside and out, we had lunch. He also cleaned the gutters, raked the leaves, and worked on "real" work. Now he is playing poker with his buddies and it is a well deserved break!

8. I had a productive day too. After the window washing and cleaning up the backyard flower beds, Eva and I hit the mall. I purchased a shirt for her ($2.49), and a pair of cute jeans for me ($2.59), and a few other majorly discounted items. Any day is productive when you find brand new jeans for $2.59.

9. Now I must be productive and load the dishwasher, fold laundry, and make chili. Told you my life is boring. ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Half-Pint of Cider, All Drunk Up"

The Harvest Party, attended by our small group from church, was a big hit with the whole family this year. It was Esther's first small group event, and she slept through the majority of it- a sure sign that she LOVED the outing. For the older girls, it was nothing but an extension of their everyday pretend world. I introduce to you: the Ingalls Family (Charles, Caroline, Mary, and Laura). I suggest to you that if you care at all about fashion or at least attempting to flatter whatever shape God has blessed you with, prairie style finished with a small print pinafore is NOT the way to go. My three week postpartum shape was certainly hidden under all those layers, but most definitely not improved. Nope. Not at all.

But where did those fantastically modest frocks come from? Hope wore a dress and bonnet that was made for my sister in law when she was a child. She recently passed it on to Eva, and Eva might wear it out! Hope also sported a pinafore apron made by my grandmother for one of my young cousins and passed on to us. Her costume was completed by adorable little black pointy toe boots. Eva's and my dresses were sewn by a good friend of my family. She had four daughters, about my same age, and each summer we all attended "Old Time School" together, in a one-room school house, in our old time outfits. Our friend was gracious enough to unearth the dresses, shawls, boots, bonnets, and lunch pails that her girls had worn to school 20 years ago or more! Eric admittedly felt a little left out of the loop, as we threw his costume together (complete with nylon rope suspenders) the night of the party :(.

I don't know how Ma did it, wearing a bonnet and trying to keep track of her three little girls all the time! The radius of sight when that bonnet is snugly tied under your chin is really small! Right, Hope? Ahhh, now that's better!
And there's Half-Pint herself. Eva was in a make-believe paradise, in which all the adults called her Laura and she was allowed as many corn bread muffins as she could consume. To her, pioneer life is intoxicating, captivating, and all together perfect. I think it is the delightful combination of high adventure and simplicity intertwined with family life that make keep us coming back to those good 'ol days. To top it all off, we found out there were prizes to be won for the best costumes. A combination of pride and ecstasy slowly crept across Eva's face when they announced the winners for "best executed costume", the Ingalls Family!!! It took her half a second to realize that WE were the INGALLS family, but then she was all about the chocolates and coffee that we won! And here's Pa with his happy girls.
We weren't the only fun costumes at the party that night. Although I didn't get good pictures of everyone, there was also the Wetzel family, dressed as a small swarm of bees.And Becca L., came as an "extinct Northwest mechanic."
And Caleb and Kristie came as a cowboy and his princess. This picture was taken as Caleb tried his hardest to get Kristie to kiss him in front of other people. He succeeded! Jon H., voted least likely to ever dress up, surprised us all and came as an over-the-top tourist. He had it all: water sox, chapstik lanyard, foam visor, name tag, Hawaiian shirt, sunscreen nose, and last but not least FANNY PACK! Tonya complimented him in her turtle costume.
Joel and Erika were a pumpkin and it's guts. Mmmmm...Hope's buddy, Roman, was a cow.
And his mother was the most beautiful widow in mourning I've ever laid eyes on.
Did you want to see one last picture of little Hope in her prairie garb??? Me too!There she goes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Hope

As the title of this post suggests, I am finally responding to the many prompts, "Did I miss Hope's birthday post...?" No, you didn't miss anything! In the excitement of preparing for, welcoming, and adjusting to the new baby, I have overlooked a few things in bloggy-land. Rest assured, we did NOT overlook Hope's real life birthday though! That would be downright pitiful, and we aim to avoid such things. So, without further ado, let's indulge in some birthday remembering...
Dear Hope,
It may sound cliche, but I'll say it anyway. How is it even possible that you're already TWO years old?!? We cherish you and enjoy each day with you by our side. The many changes that have taken place since your last birthday astound me! There are some obvious ones- now days you talk, walk, run, sleep all night, play in your imagination, listen to endless repetitions of your favorite books, chew your veggies, and wear undies.
...We celebrated together at Grandpa and Grandma Spears' after you and Eva spent the weekend there. Eva helped Grandma make this chocolate cake for you...

Of course, the subtle changes delight us too. We've seen your personality emerge more this year, and frankly, you've won us over. You are eternally cheerful, easily excited about all activities, and laugh off any insult. You are very emotional, and seem to have pretty good "EQ", often showing sympathy, sharing some one's joy, or simply observing the slight changes in some one's mood. Disciplining you isn't fun of course, but we find it to be very effective because of your sensitive nature. We always feel loved when you're around because of your sweet smile and soft, gentle eyes. It seems like others feel the same way too. We've been told over and over how much fun you are and how people are drawn to you. What a joy! ...Before any of us started singing, you burst into joyful, LOUD song, singing yourself "Happy Birthday" and ending with lots of clapping and laughing. You were so cute and funny that you sent Eva into fits of giggles...

You and Eva have had an especially important year, I think. A year ago, you two didn't really play together at all. As the year progressed, you started to show interest in her and joining her play. This, of course, was the beginning of some hard times. There were days when you two fought with each other tooth and nail, figuratively speaking (well, almost... :). You may be sweet, soft, and fun-loving, but you still like a piece of the action sometimes! No doubt, keeping up with your competitive and fast-paced older sister has required you to develop some backbone! However, despite all the little quarrels, these days you and Eva are completely dependent on each other and adore being together. You laugh at each other's jokes (simple and ridiculous as they are), go on all sorts of imaginary adventures together, and lovingly talk each other into eating your less favorite foods at dinner.

...After we all finally sang and you blew out your two candles...

Many nights Mom and Dad have to be rather strict with you two at bedtime since you love to "sing each other to sleep." We listen to you sing the Gospel Song, Isty Bitsy Spider, Jesus Loves Me, Trust in the Lord, and Mary Had a Little Lamb to each other, quietly sometimes and sometimes at the top of your lungs! Although this is of no real significance, each night at bedtime, regardless of the temperature, you insist on being smothered with as many blankets as we'll give you. Usually, that is four. And you keep them on until you fall asleep, then I find you kick them off, seeking some relief from the heat!

...opening some gifts with Eva's help at Grandpa and Grandma Spears' ...

We've had some hard times this year too. You weren't the healthiest kid ever, and I (mom) had to fight my worries about you. There was the infamous egg allergy reaction, which resulted in anaphalactic shock and a trip to the ER. There were also three solid months, December-February, of sickness for you. You rotated through various strains of stomach viruses, colds, fevers, and unconfirmed hepatitis A with no respite. You wouldn't even recover from one ailment before you would just transition to a new one. You and I were both exhausted after months of little sleep, lots of holding, and altogether yuckiness. Thankfully, your little immune system capitalized on that down time to (hopefully) make some major strides towards strength. The rest of the year has been basically healthy for you. Praise God!...Standing around with your friends Malachi and Hazel at the park waiting to go home. We had a lovely outdoor "friends" party planned, but the weather ended up being unseasonably windy and cold so we retreated to our house...

The summer was good for you- you loved swimming and playing in water, drawing with (and eating) sidewalk chalk, running around outside, and taking l-o-n-g afternoon naps. Some of your other favorite activities around the time of your birthday are playing dress-up as Mary Ingalls or a princess, caring for your babies, driving the blue car outside, playing "peoples" (little people), and tickling and wrestling with Daddy or Eva. You will sit and look at picture books for 45 minutes by yourself, and who knows how long you would listen to us read to you! Truthfully, you like pretty much any activity, especially active ones.

...A sampling of the crowded, but WARM, living room...
Now the trivial little details: You wear size 6.5 shoes, size 24 month clothes, and size 5 diapers to bed at night. Your favorite foods are cheese, strawberries, peanut butter, bananas, plain yogurt, avocados, noodles, baked potatoes, brown rice, and oatmeal with coconut oil and honey. If allowed, you would gobble up "goldy-fish" all day and you have a real penchant for chocolate!Your best friend is Hazel and you two raise quite a ruckus in the church nursery together. You love to play, and play rough(!), at aether's houses too. You speak really well for your age, though you still have many grammar and pronunciation errors. Some of our favorites are "I am-are" (I am), "opi meal" (oatmeal), "Eba" (Eva), and "oar port" (airport). Your favorite books are "The Napping House" and "Beauty and the Beast", your favorite toy is your little orange care-bear, and your favorite blanket is the soft, yellow one from Great Aunt Jodi.

...blowing out the candles with help from Hazel and Eva at our "friends" party...

Well little one, there's much more to say than I could ever write in a letter. We are thankful for you, blessed by your smiley face, and eager to watch you grow. Sometimes I wish I could just bottle up your squishy body and innocent giggle and keep you small forever. But then I know we would miss out on all the wonderful things God has in store for you in the next year! Happy Birthday, Hope!

With love and prayers,

Mom and Dad