Saturday, January 23, 2016

Building, playing, and exploring

Oh what fun we've had this fall and winter!  After Thanksgiving, the days just flew by.  We started by celebrating Caedmon's birthday a little early, since we're already well into Christmas celebrations by the time his actual birthday rolls around.  We had a yummy birthday cookie and gifts at home and he relished getting to celebrate early and extending his birthday a couple of weeks because of that!  We can't believe our biggest boy is already so big; what joy he has brought us these past 7 years!

The boys also had a couple of opportunities to take part in Christmas programs and nativities.  Following a concert put on by the children at Isaac's school, our whole family was able to participate in a live nativity.  We joined in as angels and shepherds.

Caedmon has had his eye on a particular set of Legos since the summer, and his dream finally came true at Christmas.  He has spent a lot of hours happily constructing and creating stories with his arctic outpost set.

Another plan that we've been mulling over for several years now finally took shape, and the boys were able to spend a couple of days helping construct a fort in our backyard!

Caedmon felt strongly that the fort needed a trap door entrance, so he helped figure out what we needed to make that happen.

Isaac was pretty handy with his hammer - once an adult got a nail started, he was eager to finish pounding it in to the floor of the fort.

Ta-da!  I'm not sure what will be more fun for the boys - constructing the fort or playing in it - but we were thankful for Papa's advice and manpower and were delighted with the finished product.  It was a great experience for the boys to be able to help and I know they were so proud of what they helped accomplish!

We are excited about giving the boys interesting experiences, especially as they are getting old enough to really be able to understand and remember what we do.  This year, tickets for Wild Kratts Live went on sale at the perfect time for us to give that as the boys' Christmas gift.  They were so very excited, and the show did not disappoint!  Although I had difficulty capturing their enthusiasm in the following picture (there were people standing in the aisle of the performance hall and I was struggling to get the shot I wanted of the stage behind them) they had a great time.

The best part of the evening came after the show ended, as I was able to take the older boys to a Meet-and-Greet with the real Kratt brothers.  We had tried to prepare them and encourage them to think of any questions for the brothers or things they'd like to tell them but I think we were all a little bashful when it came to meeting their real-life heros.  Martin and Chris were both very kind, both pronounced Caedmon's name correctly, and seemed very sincere and genuine.   Caedmon asked Martin, who is his favorite Kratt, how he travels all around the world to see all those animals.

I love Isaac's expression when he was talking to Chris, who is his favorite.  I think in this picture they were telling him what their favorite episode of the show was, but Isaac also asked him how many animals he's met in real life.  Thousands!

The boys each got a personalized, autographed photo of the brothers, which they clutched like treasure as we left.  They were so appreciative for the experience, which made our parent hearts proud.  It was a joy to get to share this experience with them, and as a mom, I am thankful that although we don't have the television on much, when we do, there's an option for these guys that has taught them a ton of fascinating things about nature, and encourages their adventurous, explorative, brave little hearts.

A few little things I've jotted down lately that the boys have said or done:

As we counted down the days to the Wild Kratts Live show, Isaac told me that he was thankful for all the hard work the Kratt brothers do to make such a great show.  He wanted to take him a gift and went to the pantry to show me what he thought would be a good option: a package of Ritz crackers.  We discussed it and compromised on a picture that he drew, which he proudly presented to Martin when they met him.

Caedmon was watching a football game with Daniel the other day and has really been participating and commenting on the action.  When the teams flipped the coin, his only question was, "If they guess it right, does that team get to keep the coin?"

Sometimes at bedtime, I will tuck Luke in and give him a kiss, then he will say, "I want to give you a kwiss (quiss?) too!"  Early one morning before he got up, I heard him have a few sneezes and sniffles.  Later that morning he told me, "I had a bless-you in my bed!"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Adventurers at heart

Although it's been evident since they were very small, we are seeing more and more adventure, experimentation, and stretching of previous boundaries lately with all the boys.  They are in a phase of climbing and jumping off of everything we pass, creating catapults with old lumber and buckets in the backyard, and getting really, really dirty.

They were recently inspired, after all the rain, to put even more water in the sandbox and turn it into a mud wallow.  I let them go, and they had a ball - slipping, slopping, and splashing.  

After all that play, though, they were too dirty to even come in the house for their bath, so they got a pre-bath washing with warm water in a tub in the yard.  Luke was not so sure about what was going on!  He even had sand caked on the top of his head; I'm pretty sure he had help with that.

As the third boy, Luke is trying to grow up as fast as his brothers, which usually means he's climbing jungle gyms and other playground equipment to keep up their pace.  He thinks he's so big - and he is! One night this week I noticed how tight his pajamas were getting and asked him if he was growing so big - his response (while flexing his muscles) was, "Yes, so strong and so mighty!" Then he jumped into my arms, "I love you so much Mama!"

I love these nature-loving boys!  For Halloween, Caedmon dressed up as a snow adventurer (completely his idea - his construction worker costume had somehow gotten lost and he needed a new costume right away.  Knowing candy was on the line, he improvised quickly!) Luke has had a lot of fun with this giraffe costume, and Isaac put together his own costume to be his favorite TV adventurer, Chris of the Wild Kratts.

We took the boys to a park to take family pictures recently.  In the car on the way, we were preparing them to give their best smiles and told them we'd like to hang the portrait in our home.  Isaac asked, "Mama, when I am grown up, can I have one of these pictures to hang in my house?" I replied that he would be welcome to do so. "Do you think my wife will like it?"  I told him that I was sure his wife would tell him what a cute boy he was when he was 5 years old.  He blushed and giggled delightedly.

Every night we sing songs with the boys.  Caedmon has learned some new songs at school that he's enjoyed sharing with us, and Luke surprised us recently with his own request.  He told us "I want a song from my Sunday School."  We asked him to start singing and he began "Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children." We sang it together, then he told me in his most serious voice, "I eat goldfish at my Sunday school" while nodding vigorously.   His teacher is a family friend who told us that the first week of class, he was very unsure about being there without us, but after seeing the routine,  was more content the second week and after playing for a few minutes, stood up and announced loudly, "Time for goldfish!"
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

School starts again!

Already, the summer is over and our guys are back in school.  It's hard to believe we have a first-grader and kindergartener already, but when we look at these guys it's clear that they're ready!

Caedmon has loved his first few weeks of first grade and is doing wonderfully.  (He also lost his first tooth right before school started!)  Every day when I pick him up and ask "How was your day?" his response is "Great!!"  He has a terrific new teacher, sweet friends, and a busy year ahead.

Isaac started kindergarten this year and is off to a great start, too.  He has a sweet class of friends and teacher at school part of the week, and the other days we do all his schoolwork at home.  We think it's a wonderful balance of time at school and home, especially for a kindergartener, and we're looking forward to the year ahead.  It's wonderful to be able to see his delight when he picks up a new skill or does his work well!

 Luke, always ready to take on whatever his brothers are doing,  has come right alongside Isaac and has his own activities while Isaac is working on his homework.  He packs a backpack and a lunchbox (with crackers, pumpkin seeds, whatever he can find!) and carries it with us on school pick-ups and drop-offs.  He has become very talkative, especially on the days it's just the two of us, the only quiet time so far has been when he naps.  But it's a sweet time for me to get to spend with just him!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A picture summary of the past months

Since I'm soooo far behind on posts and know I'll never catch up, here is a quick look at the last few months in pictures and brief snippets:

The amazing snow (in my opinion, a result of Isaac's faithful prayers each day since around the first of the year - praying specifically for enough snow to make a snowman.) We had so much fun building snowmen and an igloo, which stayed for several days!

The time that Isaac and Luke have had at home on their own has led to a sweet friendship - Isaac really wants to help his little brother learn to ride a tricycle.

We were so excited that one of Caedmon's art projects was selected (only 4 of 50ish kindergarteners at his school) to be exhibited in the downtown library's art show.  Each school in the ISD had a display.  Caedmon had been so enthusiastic about his collage anyway, so it was really neat to see his work honored!

We had a super fun few days at the farm over spring break.  My boys were ready to do some fishing, and really did a great job managing the rods and reels on their own.

Isaac has no qualms with holding the fish.  

We celebrated Easter day at home this year - the boys looked so handsome in their special church clothes!

Luke celebrated his second birthday!  He has grown up so much, blessing our hearts every day with his funny, sweet personality.

Isaac had such a great year in preschool!  He was so proud to show us his classroom and work at open house.  He really made some sweet friendships and had an amazing teacher; we were delighted to see him flourish and blossom!  Now he's ready to start kindergarten!

From the mouths of babes

A post from October, 2014, that I never published:

Our days are never, never dull.  I would venture to say that each day is a bit more interesting than the last as these boys grow.  Although that comes with a fair amount of challenges, there are so many times that I laugh out loud (or if it's necessary to conceal my humor, bubble over inside.)  The way these guys take in the world, process it, and verbalize what they've seen is so precious.

We recently discovered a bow and arrow toy on the dollar aisle at Target.  Caedmon had some money that he'd earned and knew that was the perfect thing for us to take home.  For days afterwards, he would wander around in search of his "bow and arrow sticks."  Meaning, the arrows.  On the other hand, Isaac seemed to have trouble keeping up with the "bone," the thing that shoots the bow and arrow sticks.

Caedmon had a big growth spurt and was ready for a bigger bicycle earlier this summer.  We helped him make a plan and chart to do extra jobs around the house to earn money to buy that new bike.  We were so proud of him, he worked really hard and saved his money and finally had enough for a bigger bike.  We bought the bicycle ahead of time and the morning after he had earned his last dollar, we had it set up in the living room for him to find.  He inspected it all over and was very impressed with the bike's "stabilizer leg," a clever description for the kick stand.

The bigger boys have become eager to have bedtime stories shared while they're settling into bed at night.  We've shared many of our childhood stories and made up quite a few along the way, but recently encouraged them to tell their own stories.  Caedmon plunged right into a story about his current favorite subject, ocean animals, telling a bedtime story about Whaley the whale shark who got separated from his family.  Whaley asked Dol the Dolphin, then Ah the Octopus, then Puff the Puffin, and so on, naming a host of ocean creatures, if they knew where his family was.  After getting only "no's" in response, Whaley finally asked "Stick" the remora who said, "Yes, I know where they are, I am stuck to them right now!"  I thought that was quite a witty ending to his story!

On a recent trip to Costco, Isaac was looking ahead as I shopped and saw something interesting, and asked if we could get one of those "continent balls."  He and Caedmon both use that descriptor of globes.

Isaac also tickles us frequently with his thoughts.  I was washing his ears at bath time this week and he asked, "How did those bees' wax get in my ears?"  I would want to know how bees snuck wax into my ears, too!

He has had some truly sincere and heartfelt prayers for one so young - and also quite honest.  He worded his gratefulness for our food this way recently: "Thank you for all the wonderful creatures you made.  For us to eat."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer fun!

Time has escaped me and zipped by since my last post, as as I considered all the fun milestones and events we've experienced since mid-March, it's a little overwhelming to figure out a way to record everything I want to remember!

Luke celebrated his first birthday, has learned to eat with utensils and drink from a cup by himself, is starting to take steps on his own, and just today, pushed himself to standing from a crawling position.  He vocalizes several words, including: that, apple, dada, all done, outside, up, nigh-nigh (night night) car, mama, and nuh (no).  He also has started shaking his head "yes" and saying "yeah" anytime we ask a question.  I constantly ask him things about our activities and am often amused at his enthusiastic agreement, especially when it's in response to questions like, "Are you ready to take a nap?"  He loves to be outside and play with his push-walker on the sidewalk, and is fascinated with any animal.  We've gotten big grins and giggles in response to seeing anything from a neighbor's dog to a lamb at the farm to a wiggly caterpillar on the sidewalk.  He even played with a fish that we had caught at the farm and put in a bucket, squealing with delight every time he reached in to grab it and got splashed.  Luke loves to watch the action around him and get wrapped right up in it - if the bigger boys are making a racket and being noisy, he squeals and laughs and claps or bangs the table.  Or like tonight, when Daniel said something in a soft whispering voice, he brought his voice down to a whisper as well.

Isaac had his fourth birthday, which we celebrated with a trip to the zoo with Grammy, Papa, and Kayla.  He has learned to ride his balance bike, and is getting ready to start pre-k.  He constantly brings smiles to our faces, sometimes intentionally but often just by doing and saying whatever comes to his mind.  For example, in a recent moment of deep thinking he asked me, "What do you think Jesus' decycles looked like?"  And whenever Luke is sleeping and I tell the big boys that I need to check on him, Isaac will suggest I just "check the baby thermonitor!"  

Isaac posing with his projects at his end-of-school art show
He has shown us such a tender, sweet side, often thinking about what others need and jumping in to help out before being asked.  Sometimes he'll bring a cup of water to someone else or share a snack or special treat, and he loves to get to help with Luke.  Though there's no doubt he is all boy and has some very dramatic and intense moments, his caring nature is a precious thing to see.

I tend to try to use this blog to record our fun, sweet memories, but certainly there are many trials along the way as well.  I try to remember that we see God at work in both the joys and the struggles, and a recent breakthrough in an ongoing challenge we've been dealing with has been an awesome reminder of His power at work in our lives as well as a source of much praising on our part.

Our sweet Isaac has had increasingly strong reactions to many foods for some time now, and when we would take him to our pediatrician or allergist, the only answers we got were bottles and tubes of antihistamines and creams to try to combat his symptoms.  Unwilling to dump drugs into his system to just cover up the reactions, we made some major changes in our diet to try to help his body heal and get back into balance so he could overcome those sensitivities, and covered it all with prayer for direction and healing.  

We saw many positive changes and improvement in the year that we changed our eating habits but he was still having reactions to some things, so we began working with a naturopath in March.  She told us upfront that her goal was to get his body balanced so that it could heal itself - music to our ears!  Through some more blood tests we learned that his immune system was so flared up that it was reacting to many more foods than we realized - including beef, chicken, pork, carrots, green beans, citrus fruits, and others that came as quite a surprise, along with dairy and eggs.  So we began a process of detoxing his system and eliminating those foods from our diet for a time - a challenge for all of us, as we were not accustomed to centering our meals around fish, but we tried to maintain a grateful attitude and proceed with much prayer.

A follow-up blood test after 45 days of this new diet brought some amazing news - most of Isaac's levels of reactivity had dropped significantly, some by 50-60%.  There are still some things that we're avoiding, but all fruits and vegetables are well-tolerated by his system now, as well as chicken, pork, and lamb.  We feel like we've seen a positive change in him, too...his stuffy nose is clear and his itchiness is calmed down significantly.

I give all the credit for his progress to the Lord.  Through this process we've learned what a delicate and perfect balance was put into place by our Creator - one that only He can truly understand and restore.  We have been faced with a problem that we couldn't fix with our efforts, but had to pray through and trust God's sovereignty over the situation.  I was definitely stretched as the purchaser and preparer of food with the drastic changes in our diets, but now feel like we have learned so much about eating more healthfully and have all benefitted.  We have eaten out significantly less and the variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, that I have prepared for our meals has expanded drastically.  So we are looking ahead with anticipation, praying expectantly for complete restoration of his body's balance and trusting the Lord's care in his plan for Isaac.

We finally celebrated Caedmon's birthday with a fun trip to the zoo in April; he got to invite a friend along and I made a "creature power suit" for each child, fashioned after the special suits worn by their favorite cartoon heroes on the PBS show "Wild Kratts."  They had quite an adventure!  The next month he finished up pre-k, learned to ride a bike without training wheels, and is now excited about starting kindergarten.  

It's an amazing thing to see glimpses of a developing faith in your child, and I was touched recently when I overheard Caedmon praying out loud in his room.  He had a scrape from a fall off his bike and was praying that it would be healed, and then also prayed for Isaac's body to be healed.  And even though he typically has strong feelings about doing things his own way and in his own time, he has blessed my heart several times recently by taking the initiative to help out, cleaning up his room or the playroom, or vacuuming without being asked.

We (along with the rest of the worshippers in our service) got a chuckle out of Caedmon during the children's message this past Sunday.  The children's ministry director was talking about the kids' favorite super heroes and super powers and asked if anyone knew what Spiderman could do.  My sweet child, who has evidently led a much more sheltered life than the other kids when it comes to these characters, piped up enthusiastically, "He kills spiders!!"  That's just fine with me; the things he has stored away in his mind are so fascinating and I hope increase his awe for our amazing Creator, as he loves learning and talking about animals (especially ocean dwellers) and their habitats, life cycles, and if they're carnivores or herbivores, predators or prey, mammal or reptile, if they serve as a pollinator, if they're nocturnal...his vocabulary and understanding amazes me.  One afternoon we were looking at a bird in the backyard so I got out my college bird identification guide, which he sat and flipped through for some time, searching out and correctly identifying several species of birds that he'd learned about previously.

Caedmon with his art at his school art show

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Overflow

I blog in my head all the time, probably daily.  There are so many things that I want to record, to remember, and be able to look back on and laugh, or sometimes shake my head.  But these boys, they keep us busy!  Of course wouldn't trade our active days for anything but there is certainly less room for other things.

So much has happened since my last entry right after Christmas.  Luke has two more monthly progress photos, though by his 10-month I had given up trying to get him to stay still on the bed for a posed shot.  He is in constant motion, crawling on all fours and pulling up on just about anything.

Just past 8 months in his little Christmas outfit

9 months

10 months
He is still such a jolly, content little guy, and we're so grateful for that.  He loves, loves music - he began "dancing" by shaking his head months ago, later added a little sideways bob to the shake, then recently learned to clap his hands.  He figured out where the guitar is kept and will sometimes go missing during the day, usually ending up hidden away in the closet, batting away at his favorite instrument.  One evening Daniel was practicing for church and Luke made his way down the hall into the playroom to join his dad.  Conveniently, one of his brothers had emptied their "music toy" box onto the floor so he made a beeline for the tambourine and snatched it up, tapping it and clearly feeling very much a part of the band.

Luke also has quite an adventurous spirit outside.  He crawls all around the backyard on his own, usually making his way first to the sandbox.  For a while he would just rest his belly on the top of the wall and lean in to scratch at the sand with his hands, but now he heaves himself over and in, crawls all around, and makes his exit whenever there is more interesting action in a different part of the yard.  He doesn't really try to eat the sand anymore, just enjoys experiencing it.  

We broke up a new square of the yard to use as a vegetable garden and he loves getting to crawl through that freshly turned dirt.  We dumped several bags of compost to work into that soil and he was eager to crawl up one of the piles, have a seat, and rake the compost into his lap with his hands until his legs were completely covered.  He picked it up and let it fall through his hands, sometimes even on his head.  Ahh...what more could a little bitty boy ask for?

Though playing in dirt would likely be his first choice, our Luke does enjoy checking out plants and leaves too.  He has inspected our just-emerging daylilies and vinca, as well as irises and grass.  For some reason, the dianthus in one of my flower pots seem to beckon to him and he feels a strong need to free them from their terra cotta enclosure.  I let the boys each choose a new flower this week when we went to the nursery for vegetable seeds and put Caedmon's pretty orange-blossomed plant in one of the beds in the backyard.  Luke saw the large, showy petals and headed right over to check it out.  From thirty feet away where I was hanging up diapers, I watched him get really close, then look at me to see what I'd say.  "No, sir, we don't touch the flowers."  He shook his head "no" as he looked at me, then back at the flowers.  He sat for a moment and I could see the wheels spinning in his little mind.  He shook his head again as he looked at the plant.  Then he looked back at me one more time - would he get the same response?  "No sir, we don't touch.  Good job, Luke."  He shook his head again.  Looked at the flowers, shook his head.  Then he turned and crawled off to the sandbox without touching.  Sweet boy!

Isaac has also shown me lately what a sweet-hearted helper he can be!  We've been working so hard on having good attitudes and learning how they can take care of themselves as well as contribute to our household.  Just in the last week, I have caught Isaac in the act of picking up Caedmon's clothes off the floor and putting them in his dresser, starting to unload the dishwasher by himself, and making my bed.  He has always been generous with his things and seems to truly take joy in sharing, even when asked to share something that would be a special treat for him.

He has such a delightful sense of humor and imagination.  We are constantly hearing about what his friend, "Big John," is doing - which could be anything from playing in a baseball game to feeding his cows to traveling around the world (which he referred to recently as a "continent ball." A globe.)  His favorite stuffed toy, a polar bear named Poley, also has all sorts of needs that require his attention, from being hungry to having frequent birthday celebrations to needing a new home (usually blocks or a cardboard box).

Isaac also has a lion costume that makes regular appearances, often outside and sometimes even to friends' homes.  The brown suit usually transforms him into a ferocious big cat but it occasionally doubles as a wetsuit for scuba diving or coveralls for other sorts of "work."  One day the furry "paw" gloves that came with the costume went with us on a shopping trip to Costco - the other shoppers were quite amused.

This child is probably the first of the three to want to be outdoors and seems to mind cold weather the least.  He has loved digging up earthworms and catching grasshoppers and putting them in containers to watch, and hunting for snails or any other creature he can capture.  We will frequently have rolly-pollies accompany us on walks and if they happen to fall out of his hand, he insists on stopping and searching for them.  They almost always have a name right away.

Isaac also loves playing his toy guitar.  He will sing praise songs over the prerecorded music on his instrument and dance his little heart out.  His favorite bedtime songs are "The Lord Reigns," "Silent Night," and "Jesus Loves Me, Hallelujah."

Caedmon seems to have gone through such a major period of growth and maturity - maybe it was turning 5 years old.  He loves laying out plans for the day, often drawing them out on paper so we can check throughout the day and cross things off once they're completed.  He's such a social little guy and has no hesitation in interacting with other kids; kindergarten is going to be such a great time for him.  And he is registered - I can't believe we're already preparing to send him to big-kid school!  Isaac is trying hard to remember which school Caedmon will attend next year - "Is it the Mama-sori school?"  Caedmon is quick to correct, "No, MONTEssori!" 

Like his younger brother, he can also be quite a hard little worker, especially outside.  I always know I can count on him when a job calls for a rake, shovel, hoe, yard bag, or nippers, and he really makes a significant dent in whatever we're trying to accomplish.  When the job is done, though, he still loves his diggers and lately has preferred dirt to the sandbox, so there's a good patch on the side of our front yard that has been totally crumbled and "worked."

Caedmon has a wonderful imagination and loves creating scenarios and stories, but he also is quick to memorize facts and figures.  He learned a song at school that lists the 50 states alphabetically, and is going through a phase of particular interest in ocean animals, which has been really fun.  He and Isaac both ask a lot of questions about life and heaven, and one day while talking about the latter, he very poetically stated that he thinks "it will be even sparklier than a polished bowling ball.  Or princess dress."

He has also become quite the finagler, thinking up creative ways to gratify his desires.  From working out who says the meal prayer or sits in the middle seat in the car to trying to go to Grammy and Papa's without Mom and Dad along, he rationalizes, justifies, and sets out prospective "deals" for our consideration.  "Okay, here's the deal.  If I let you sit in the middle seat THIS time, then I get to sit in the middle the next TEN times!"  Who could resist such offers?