Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Home sweet home!

After 2800 miles on the road, we are back home!  My kids are awesome travelers.  They endured all that driving without complaints.  We didn't even show them any movies.  They were entertained by coloring and listening to books on CD (thanks to the library).

A whole lot of cousins!

We had a great time visiting with family and friends in Oregon, and even some in California.  It is always so wonderful to come home (except for the hot house due to our air conditioning being broken again).  I also discovered that it is a bad idea for a gardener to be away from the garden for 2 weeks in July.  I've got lots of catching up to do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road trip

We leave soon for our long drive to the northwest.  It is time to visit with family and friends!  My kids get to play with their cousins; two they have never even met.  One big family reunion.

Not sure if I'll get a chance to blog while I'm gone.  But don't worry,  I'll be back eventually!  Please pray for me as I drive back home with kids, but no husband.  He is flying back early due to work.

Summer school?

The school year officially ended for us near the beginning of June.  But learning is not just a school thing, it is a lifestyle.  Or at least it can be.  I hope I pass that attitude on to my kids.  I use very few rewards for their academic pursuits and accomplishments.  Affirmation and praise?  Yes!  Time to relax and play after the work is done?  Absolutely.  A prize box or treats?  Not so much.  Learning is the reward!

The results?  "Mom, can we do math today?  Can we have a whole day of school, please!?"  Who can say no to such a request?  I'm not really prepared, haven't planned anything, but I pull out some books and the kids learn.  And they have fun!

I figure I better do a little planning.  During the school year, we tend to focus on what big sister is learning.  Little brother tags along and picks up on all the science and history, but he can't keep up with all the math that Anna can do and especially not with the reading and writing.  Now is a good time to tailor the learning to him and make it fun for her, too.

Arik is reviewing letter sounds.  He is practicing saying the sound of each letter, tracing the letters, and recognizing upper and lower case letters.  Dried beans, glue, and shaving cream turned these tasks into bunches of fun.  I traced sentences into the shaving cream for Anna to read to me.  (Thank you to my friend Stacie for these ideas!)  You can check out other activities she writes about at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A sunflower house

Last fall, the kids and I discovered this book:  Sunflower House by Eve Bunting.  They wanted to read it many times.  And then, they wanted to plant their very own Sunflower House.

They patiently waited for the arrival of summer, sunflower time.  Repeatedly, they reminded me "Don't forget about the Sunflower House!  Don't forget to buy seeds."  In June, I dug up the soil for the sunflower seeds and the kids joyfully planted.

The sunflowers are growing quickly.  We are curious when the blossoms will appear.  Anna decided she could be the blossom for now.  "Look, Mom, I'm a sunflower!"  "Why yes, you are my darling girl!  Keep on growing and blooming.  I'll try to provide enough water and nutrients.  Let Jesus be your sunshine!"

Monday, July 4, 2011

Anna, my chickadee

Six years ago (in April), my daughter Anna was born.  I went into labor at 4:00 am on April 22nd.  I spent the first 11 hours of labor either pacing back and forth in our tiny apartment or walking around the city of Portland.  As Joel and I rode the elevator of our apartment building and walked through the city, people kept asking me when my baby was due.  I would respond, "Yesterday."  And they would look a bit worried.  Imagine if I had told them that I was in labor as we spoke!

At 3:00 pm, we decided it was time to head to the hospital.  Anna was born just a few minutes before 9:00 pm.  She weighed 8 pounds and 4 ounces.

We had chosen not to find out the gender of our baby during our ultrasound.  For some reason, everyone seemed to think that I was having a boy.  And I had always pictured myself having a boy first.  The doctor said, "It's a girl!"  I was so tired from labor, delivery, and not sleeping the past few nights, that it took a while for that news to sink in.  A girl!  How very exciting!

Anna, our darling baby who would not sleep.  Anna was a very content little girl, as long as she was being held.  She would sleep some during the day, but at night she would cry unless we were holding her.  With me she was happy as long as I was feeding her.  For Joel, she would cry any time he sat down.  We were a couple of tired new parents, taking shifts holding her throughout the night.

Anna did everything really early.  She said her first word at 6 months old and could say dozens of words by 10 months.  At 14 months, she would say things like "hexagon" with perfect clarity and an understanding of what it was.  She crawled at 6 months and walked at 8 1/2 months.  She was a very determined little girl!  She loved all fruits and veggies, and hated meat.  She wouldn't touch any form of dessert.

Anna was two when her baby brother Arik arrived.  She adored him, but was also very jealous.  He took up an awful lot of mom and dad's time!  Anna was used to having every minute of my undivided attention.  They are now great friends and I can't imagine what either of them would do without the other.

We moved to California when Anna was three.  I was surprised by just how hard our move was for her; how much she missed her friends.  It took her a long time to bond with new friends.  She still thinks of her friends in Oregon as her cousins. 

These two were like sisters.
When Anna was four, she asked Jesus to be the Lord of her life!  What a wonderful day!

Anna completed Kindergarten last month.  She is a wonderful student; always eager to learn.  She is a great reader and a creative writer.  She picks up on math very quickly and really enjoys learning about history and science.

Anna plans to be an artist when she grows up, and a mommy, and a house builder.  "I'll be very busy," she says.  She loves spending time doing crafts, gardening, taking care of our pets, reading, and playing with Arik.  Anna is always most content when she has some type of project or activity to focus on.  She absolutely beams when she is given a compliment for something she has done well.  I am so thankful that I am able to be home with my kids, and that I get to teach them.  We have so much fun!

I love you Anna!  I am so glad that you are my daughter!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Arik!

Four years ago, my water broke in the afternoon of July 3rd.  We called the hospital and they told me to come in right away.  I was not happy about being asked to spend most of my time in labor at the hospital.  But we listened to their advice and headed to the hospital.

Arik was three weeks early.  My husband Joel said I was not allowed to give birth on the 3rd; he said the 4th would be a much better birthday for Arik.  Of course I listened to my husband's advice and honored his request!  Arik was born around 5:00 am on the morning of July 4th.  He came out with the umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck.  Everyone sprang into action, but it turned out that he was just fine.  He weighed 7 pounds and 2 ounces.

Right away, Arik had an opinion about everything.  He was very angry that the nurse put a band on his arm, and even more angry that he didn't know how take it off or how to reach what he wanted. 


He would scream every time we put him in his car seat or a baby carrier, and when I attempted to breast feed him.  That little guy got breast milk solely from a bottle for 10 1/2 months.  He refused to drink his bottle unless he was held in my left arm.  He would often only eat for me.  He would only sleep at night if we were holding him.  He would throw a fit if his clothes and blankets were not super soft and completely dry.

He decided at 5 months that he wanted to crawl in order to keep up with Anna and her friends.  He was determined and did not give up his attempts until he figured out how to crawl at 6 months old.  He started crawling at warp speed and hasn't slowed down yet. 

I don't know how many times each day we remind him to slow down so he won't hurt himself.  He earned the nickname Spiderman at about 8 months old, when I found him clinging to the backrest of the couch and walking along it.  He loved to climb stairs, climb on top of the table, run everywhere and climb everything.  Arik loves to listen as I read to him; he is often turning somersaults on the couch beside me as I read, or falling off the end.  He pops back up and says, "I didn't get hurt too bad!"

Arik continues to prefer all his clothes to be super soft.  He sleeps surrounded by fleece blankets.  He says his flannel sheets are "too itchy."  Arik is a very thoughtful, enthusiastic, and charming little boy.  He loves to be around people and have a conversation with anyone who will take the time to talk with him.  He loves giving and receiving hugs.  Arik likes to figure out how things work.  He turns his bike upside down to study the gears.  He uses a screw driver to open up all his toys and see how they are put together.  He loves math, history, and science.  In September of this year, Arik prayed and asked Jesus to be the Lord of his life.  What a wonderful day!

Happy Birthday Arik!  I am so glad that you are my son!

Friday, July 1, 2011


A few weeks ago I was listening to my kids as they played a game together.  My son, Arik, explained a rule he would like to have for the game.  My daughter, Anna, replied, "How about I always choose the rules, the oldest kid always decides.  Say 'Okay,' Arik."

I continued to listen, curious how he would respond.  Arik paused and sat quietly thinking for a moment.  "Okay," he agreed to Anna's role as the dictator.  Is he happy with that rule?  Or was he simply trying to avoid conflict?

As a young child, I too almost always did exactly what my older brother told or asked me to do.  I don't remember being bothered by it.  Sibling relationships and birth order are very interesting to behold.  How have your relationships and interactions with your siblings impacted who you are today?

My brothers (and my niece!) and me.