Monday, September 12, 2011

1st Grade

The morning of the first day of First Grade was such fun! No real fears, few unknowns, morning routines already very familiar. This is the outfit Eva chose for her first day. Showing off the new hole in her mouth left after she pulled her tooth out a few days before school started.

Found the new locker... right across the hall from her Kinder teacher, Sra. Ponce Carmona.

And, found her chair, right next to her friend Matthew from last year. Then the nerves started to set in just a bit. As we walked into the classroom, the teacher was no where in sight and the rest of the kids looked alarmingly somber. No one was talking or excitedly showing off new school shoes, or even smiling. Eva was brave, though pretty nervous, I think. I was curious all day to find out if the day had gone well. She claimed that your teacher was going to be very loving and kind after the first day's impressions. By the second day, though, she was a complete wreck after school. By the third day, I was considering investing in handcuffs and a padded room. Eva was throwing tantrums and "blowing off steam" of an intensity we had not experienced before. I was starting to get concerned, wondering what was going on at school and if the teacher was just too strict or tough.

Eva shared that she had gotten yellow cards (like a warning) on Wednesday AND Thursday, which was a complete surprise. Her Kinder teacher had continually praised Eva's good behavior, and often said she was possibly too concerned about following the rules. ****An aside- at home, Eva is not at all a perfectly obedient child (far from it!), but at school she is so concerned about pleasing her teacher, that she really works hard at it.**** When I asked her what the yellow cards were for, she said that she hadn't been watching the teacher the entire time she was talking. The other one was for being distracted by the boys who sit at her table. She said, "those boys aren't really very interested in learning. But I get distracted by their talking!"

Ugh. Not a great start to 1st Grade at all! As a former teacher, I wasn't surprised that Sra. Castro was starting the year out strict. But.... As a mom, I was concerned that Eva was going to have a crushed spirit and not be confident in her relationship with her teacher.

Well, Friday afternoon rolled around, and all the craziness of the early part of the week was nowhere to be found! As Eva and I talked about her school day, she said is was "Great!". She said that her teacher had told their class that they, "learn faster than all the other classes." Alrighty then! She was very proud of this "fact". Apparently Eva's competitive nature just needed some props from the teacher? Or maybe she was just happy to have arrived at the weekend? Do teachers generally use false praise to garner the allegiance of their students???

All of the enigmatic events of last week make me very, very curious about the rest of this school year. I think we could've said, "Toto, we're not in Kinder anymore." and "Welcome to the big leagues, Eva!"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Camping Pictures

Here are pictures from last weekend's camping outing with our small group. Although it was short, it was very sweet! The first few hours were not documented as people trickled in, set up tents, applied bug dope, explored our surroundings, played whiffle ball, and munched on trail mix.

Eventually a critical mass began to gather by the fire. This was the Reece's S'mores debut, as well as the debut of a less than stellar gluten free apple crisp recipe that I tried in the dutch oven. Always fun to try, not always a success though!

This is the crowd around the fire... the Lindquists, Madalyn and Hope,
The Gibsons and Nate,
Eric, Becca B., Lily, Bronte, Esther, Leah (Eric M. is cut off),

Me and Ashley the camping mega-maniac,

Bert, Beki, Beth, Anna, Ian,

The campfire was the location of many scary stories, a few funny stories, great testimonies, deep talks, singing, and laughing. Eventually everyone drifted off to bed.

In the morning, everyone slowly drifted back to the fire, where it was more of the same, except with glorious sunshine and a bit of...

hair braiding and

caterpillar rescuing... Yes! That is a huge, juicy, green caterpillar giant. Hope is a caterpillar fanatic!

The campsite was well stocked with a myriad of different kinds of caterpillars. The girls founded a caterpillar hospital, though I'm not really sure what took place there. Madalyn is holding up her arm to show off an albino crawler!

Shelly and Sarah talked,

Becca knitted,

then we all headed to the lake for lunch.

Gwen was a tummy time superstar!

Esther was a sand castle eating superstar!

Hope was a sandy sunbathing superstar!

Anna took Esther and Ian out for a wet romp, which they both loved!

Eva practiced the backstroke for probably the last time this summer.

And..... one out of order photo. Tim and Ashley at the fire.

Shelly and Anna chit chatted, and Eva splashed them with water (WHO? Eva?!? Couldn't be....)

And, a fun time was had by all!

Camping with the Eikum Small Group

Original title, eh? As you might have guessed, we went camping with our small group this weekend. We accomplished a one night stay at Baker Park Reserve, just 30 minutes from home. To all you locals: I really liked this park! Close to home, clean, great facilities. I think we'll be going there again, but hopefully for a longer stay next time.

Small group camping trips always create a fascinating group dynamic. You are not necessarily camping with your best friends, or your children's grandparents, or avid outdoor adventurers, or people who even like camping! You are there simply to be together, get to know each other better and make some memories. So, here are some of my favorite memories from the trip:

A derailed kickball game after our ball suddenly deflated and permanently failed it's calling in life.

Becca Bice's carefully and neatly packed individual bags of gorp, as well as AMAZING mint brownies and homemade salsa with chips.

Ashley developing her athleticism, combining jump kicks and Frisbee.

Eva erupting in giggles watching Ashley work on her Frisbee skills.

Hearing Bronte and Lily share their testimonies of God's grace to them.

Singing with the guitar around the campfire.

S'mores made with Reces peanut butter cups.

Explaining the full moon to Hope, who them suggested that tomorrow there would probably be a "triangle moon."

The kids glee over finding a "secret path lake".

Madalyn, Olivia, Eva, and Hope collecting scores of unique caterpillars and creating a caterpillar hospital.

Telling our real life scary stories around the campfire until half the girls were afraid to even walk to the outhouse.

Bronte, Beth, and Becca Bice's terrified screams after Eric ambushed them on the way to the outhouse. (All time best scare!)

Bronte's sharp reply to Eric, "What are you!?! Twelve!?!"

Falling asleep in the tent without a rain fly, gazing at the full moon.

Waking up in the tent to sweet Esther prying at my eyes and exclaiming, "Wake up, Mama!"

Shelly's Old Country Buffet mock-up at our campfire breakfast. Incredible spread!

Sitting around in the sunshine, chatting and mentally thanking God for blue skies.

Ian and Esther clowning around together, kissing and hugging and "running" down the hills.

Everyone taking a turn at holding peaceful Baby Gwen.

Hope and Esther getting ridiculously dirty, and once again proving that all things fun necessitate stain treatment.

A perfect day to sit by the lake.

Girls building sand castles and soaking up the late summer sunshine.

Anna and Jason taking Ian and Esther for a romp in the lake. tons of baby giggles!

Standing in the water shooting the breeze with the Lindquists, savouring every last breath of summer.

My tank has been refilled and I am both tuckered out and invigorated!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The mundane and the negative

OK, apparently I am in a once a month blogging pattern, which is not satisfactory to me, but probably won't be changing anytime soon. Now, the title of this post is, I fear, a solid preview. Nothing much is going on in our life (hence, the mundane). There are a very few things are going on, and today they are mostly negative. Admittedly, not VERY negative, just not very positive. And admittedly, as soon as I type something such as "mundane and negative", the Spirit pricks me and I am reminded that underpinning all of the day to day bleh, we have very, very much to be thankful for. Starting with Jesus, and well, ending with Jesus (with a long list of other taken-forgranted blessings in between).

So, what about the mundane? Suddenly this week with the beginning of the school year, everything is all about routine and schedule. Our lives, usually different every day and sprinkled with a variety of people, outings, sibling squabbles, and read-alouds, are now ruled by morning drop-off and the afternoon bus stop. We also throw in three meals and one afternoon nap. At times during the dizzying summer months, I longed for the boring winter routines, but this week has been a little too dull for my taste.

School itself is good though. Eva likes her teacher, Sra. Castro, and has nice kids in her class. She has two bus buddies, crisp, unstained school clothes, a gaping hole in her mouth left by one of her front teeth, and a decent ability to be responsible. All good things. Today she also had evening crying spells and angry meltdowns, which I can only attribute to her being a child (naturally) and harboring some unexposed emotional stress. Maybe she is a little overtired at the end of a full day immersed in her second language??? Perceptive, huh :). After tonight's bedtime train wreck, she shared all about the hard parts of her day: boys distracting her, teacher unintentionally embarrassing her, too short recess, coveting school lunch, etc... sounds like Jr. High to me!

Now for the mildly negative. We've been house hunting all summer in hopes of upgrading our digs. In early July we put an offer on a place, didn't get it, but it wasn't too big of a deal. Last week we found a place that we imagine HAS to be the very best thing for us. The house isn't amazing, and would need work, but the lot is HUGE and very private. Our prayer has been for a place that is centrally located in the city (or first ring sub burbs), but feels like the country. Kind of impossible, right? This house seems like the closest thing to that. So, we offered yesterday in a multiple offer situation, and found out today that our offer is the "runner up". This is a short sale, and apparently enough things can go wrong with short sales that they keep a runner up on deck, I guess. This news was pretty disappointing.

Now, we have certainty that God has good things in store for us, whether it be this short sale, a different house, or maybe staying put right here. BUT, of course I still felt a little deflated. We will keep praying, hoping that somehow our offer will move into first place. We will also keep praying that God would guide us to the right place... maybe this isn't it?!?

Alright, moving on to the quite negative news. We found out late last week that our nephew Solomon (Eric's brother Ryan's boy) has leukemia. Big bummer! We are so sad for his family and for him, knowing that they will have a long and arduous journey ahead of them. However, the doctors are giving him a really optimistic prognosis, so we are praying with full confidence for complete healing. Please pray for Ryan, Stephanie, Thor, and Solomon with us. We are confident that God has good things in store for them too!

Ok, now to end on a positive note. The beastly garden season is at it's peak right now, and my counters are covered with jars of lacto-fermented pickles, boxes of plump, red tomatoes, and bags of freshly dug potatoes. Vegetables are the name of the game, and the answer to any hungry plea. "How 'bout carrots? Baby tomatoes? Cucumber slices? Go pick some green beans"! Even though it can be overwhelming, fruit fly inviting, and labor intensive, I am proud of the produce and the hands that earned it. Gardening is rewarding!

Also on a positive note, we are going on our first camping trip of the almost-over summer (gasp!) on Friday with small group peeps. Everyone in our family is excited! Hopefully I'll blog again with pics after the outing.