Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Little Girl Turns Six!

Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl!

How have six years passed since that crazy, Saturday morning where we barely made it to the hospital in time for your birth?

You surprised us that day, and you continue to surprise us with your vivacious and joyful ways!

This year Abigail has grown so much! Our first year back in the States, her first year here since she was one-year-old. So much to see, so much to do.

Abigail is still my social butterfly and loves to play with her brothers and friends. I continue to pray for her as she become more socially aware. We have had to address some of her language and expressions (as-in "not what we say, even if your friends at school say it").

One great example of her new social perspective... a few weeks into school she asked me if she had to have bangs in her hair. She proceeded to tell me that most of her friends at school did not have bangs. We talked about how she would have to wear her hair out of her face (and leave those clips in during school ... not normally her fav), and that it would take a long time for her hair to grow ... and we decided she was ready to grow out her bangs.

When we first moved back, Abigail was a few months into the primary 1 (kindergarten-equivalent) program in Scotland. She was finally starting to show interest and excitement about learning letters and numbers.

She was too young to start school here, so she joined her brother in home-schooling. We had fun and she enjoyed reviewing her alphabet, learning numbers and recognizing sight words. But her real academic growth started with her time at the local Elementary school in Kindergarten these last few months.

It is so wonderful to see her excelling in school and loving it. Her teacher loves her patience and persistence. She is learning to read and write, and loves math. I am amazed at how quietly she sits and listens to everything her teacher says. And she waits patiently when others in the class struggle and need a little more time.  So proud of her hard work! We are still working on not over-reacting when frustrated by things she is still learning to do (like writing or reading).

This is the year Abigail has discovered her LOVE of crafting! It is the only activity that I have ever seen her do for LONG stretches of time without getting frustrated, giving up or getting too restless to continue. She sits and crafts while I read chapter books to her; while waiting for dinner; while waiting for her brother to finish his homework; anytime, really...  It seems to be one of her ways of processing what she is learning at school. She makes word-crafts, number-crafts, addition and subtraction-crafts. Everything from school seems to turn into a craft, picture, note, scroll, decoration, etc. Very fun!

Abigail is a wonderful sister. She plays most anything with her big brother, always the peacemaker, willing to compromise and share in order to make him happy. And she has a special relationship with her little brother, finding sweet ways to help him in a very motherly way.

My little princess turns 6 year old! And continues to be a joy and blessing to our family. Doesn't that wonderful smile just say it all!?! I continue to pray for the love of God to shine through her sensitive heart to bring hope and healing to those around her!
Happy Birthday, Abigail!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eight Years Ago...

That's right ... eight years ago, I became a mother and first met my little boy. I can hardly believe Joshua is turning eight years old today.

Sweet Joshua! He was so little for so long ... at that point I could never imagine him as a little boy, let alone as an eight-year-old. Now he is so grown up.

What a year this has been for Joshua! We started the year in Scotland, moving back to the States just after he turned 7.

After homeschooling for the second half of first grade, Joshua started second grade in the local public school in September. And loves it! He has a great teacher, who is really working to stretch him and inspire him.

I have seen significant growth in his math skills and problem solving. But I am really most excited about the corner he has turned in his reading and writing. He writes the best little essays and stories... they remind me of the type of things Darren use to write as a kid. His essay on pizza was fantastic, claiming at one point that "...eating pizza is like having a party in my mouth."

Joshua has always been a strong reader for his age, since he first learned how to sound out words and memorize sight words. Now he devours anything he gets his hands on. He is currently rereading his Magic Tree House books, often reading the entire book in one sitting. He has also started reading the boxcar children mysteries.

For the month of November Joshua's school had a read-a-thon. He was determined to read at least 1800 minutes in the month, and finished strong at 1959 minutes total in 29 days. Crazy! I think his reading style comes directly from me. Now we are just waiting to hear if he won one of the Kindles they are giving as a prizes!

Joshua has found a new fascination with the idea of 'States' that make up the entire country. He had so little exposure to U.S. geography and it has really captured his interest. He checks out books about the states, pours over maps of the states and, most recently, has started keeping track of all the states' license plates he sees. Since he started tracking these at the end of September, he has seen all the states except 3 (Vermont, Delaware and Mississippi)... it helps that we live in a military town, where many people frequently move from other states.

This year has also marked a change in Joshua's interest in spiritual growth. We gave him his own Bible as a back-to-school gift. He has begun to look up stories and read passages of scripture for himself. He also checked out a large comic-style storybook Bible from our church library that he has read cover to cover. That has created some interesting conversations (like "why did Cain kill his brother? How old was he when he did this?" etc), but I love that he is interested enough to talk about these things.

And as a big brother ... I am so proud and pleased by the way he takes care of his little brother and his little sister (though the latter sometimes requires more reminders from mom). Joshua has a special love for little Micah, and they both enjoy each other so much. Joshua likes to teach Micah new things and LOVES to make Micah laugh! Micah especially loves Joshua's expressive physical humor.

Joshua still enjoys puzzles and games. He makes lists about anything and everything (I think it is the way he processes information and enthusiasm). He still loves trains and firefighters.

He has also spent the last year learning everything you could possibly imagine about 300+ species of dinosaurs; he even read the paleontologist's dinosaur encyclopedia almost cover to cover (it doesn't even have pictures, except for a few sketches).

I love Joshua's enthusiasm and passion when he puts his mind to something. He is a studious, focused, persistent little guy. He is still shy and quiet, plays alone most of the time. I am continuing to pray for a heart of compassion and love, so that his attention to learning does not overpower his ministry to people around him.

I am so thankful for these last 8 years with Joshua. In the coming year, I pray he will grow in grace and in his knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the love of Christ rule in his heart, and fill him to overflowing.

Happy Birthday, Joshua!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup

I am finally publishing one of my favorite soup recipes. 
This is fast and easy. I often just throw it in the crock pot when I need a quick dinner.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
3 cups chicken broth
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can diced tomatoes (including juice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (1 cup dry beans, softened and cooked)
1 cup chicken, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
2 cups corn, frozen
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Suggested toppings:
  • Tortilla chips
  • Grated cheese 
  • Sour Cream
  • Chopped green onions 
  • Sliced avocado

Crock Pot Instructions:
  1. Saute onions until almost tender. Add garlic; saute until tender. 
  2. Combine all ingredients (except fresh cilantro) in Crock Pot on low for 4 hours.
  3. Add cilantro.
  4. Serve with toppings.

Stove Top Instructions:
  1. Saute onions in stock pot until almost tender. Add garlic; saute until tender.
  2. Add broth, enchilada sauce and tomatoes; bring to a boil.
  3. Add beans, chicken, corn and spices; heat through.
  4. Serve with toppings.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy First Birthday, Micah!

Micah turns one year old today! Can it really have been a year since we welcomed Micah into our family?

I remember so vividly that night we rushed to the hospital, and about 1.5 hours later I was snuggling my new baby. He continues to be my snuggliest baby and I'm loving every minute of it!

Now to some facts and stats about Micah as he turns one-year-old.

Weight: 20 pounds / ~15th percentile
Height: 31 inches / 90th percentile

At one year old, Micah still eats anything. He has really been enjoying roasted chicken lately.  But I am having to add healthy oils and fats to his diet, just like his siblings.

Micah has finally decided that crawling is faster than  his military-type crawl on his stomach. And everyone is surprised at how fast he gets into things. This new activity level has also impacted his weight gain (or lack of, actually).

He is also so excited about standing up whenever he can find someone or something to help him up. But he is not making any moves to start walking.

Micah now has 8 teeth in his little mouth, and he loves to chew on everything.

Last month Micah started saying a 4 or 5 words regularly. I have so enjoyed his new expressions. This month, he really has focused more on his standing and crawling; not much has changed in his communication. But he did finally stop screaming just for the reaction! Whew!

The biggest change this month has really been in Micah's sleep. FINALLY, he is sleeping through the night more often than not. And he goes down with only about 15 minutes of snuggles and walking. After more than a year of sleep deprivation, I am so thankful that we are finally getting some sleep again.

We all love this little boy so much! He makes us laugh, even at stressful times, and add so much joy and depth to our lives. We are so thankful!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eleven months...

Yes, my little baby Micah is 11 months old today! Where has the time gone?

This has been a huge month of development and growth. Here are some of the highlights

Micah added another tooth this month. He now has 7 teeth to his bite.

He is finally crawling more regularly. However, if he is really in a hurry (like when chasing his siblings) he will still drop to his tummy for a very fast military-type crawl.

Micah is so excited about his new ability to stand up. He grabs anything he can use to pull up to a stand. He is finally able to stand up at the couch and grab his sister's or brother's games, books, or whatever they are doing! Fun new interactions for everyone!

While he is standing with support, he is not really cruising on the furniture yet. I don't think he is planning on being an early walker.

One of my favorite developments is Micah's expanding ability to communicate. He has not only said his first words, he also added several words and some sign language to his vocabulary. Here is what Micah loves to say:
  • Mama / Dada (first words) - He was saying these words for weeks before I finally acknowledged that he was using them as words and not just making sounds, so I have no idea which one he learned first.
  • A-da (all done) - I was teaching him the sign language for "more" and "all done" during meal times, but he really just wanted to say "all done" instead.
  • Ni-ni (night-night) - Before heading to bed, we would always wave to everyone and I would say "night-night." A few nights ago, Micah started copying me. He now says it when going down for the night or naps ... and sometimes when he wants to go down for a nap.
  • Uh-oh - My mom taught him this one when he kept dropping his cup. Now it is one of his favorites ... especially when he can get everyone laughing, or when someone will pick up his item repeatedly.
  • 'More' in sign language - Most of the time this just looks like clapping, so I only understand it in context when we are eating and I ask if he wants more.
Other ways he enjoys interacting include: waving, hi-fives, smiling (at everyone), singing, screaming, pulling hair....

Micah still loves to eat anything and everything. Tonight he enjoyed his first beets straight from our garden and kept asking for more. We are so thankful for a good eater.

His favorite toys right now are his three little, shaky eggs - blue, red and yellow. They are just the right size, and make a great sound. He also enjoys any new texture that he can put in his mouth.

Sleep continues to get better. We have had several nights with no interruptions (yes, sleeping through the nights). However, we just had a terrible week because Micah had a cold and was so frustrated at his stuffy nose. So, things are still up and down, but overall we are all sleeping better. He is also getting better at naps and some regular type of schedule.
Yay, Micah! Happy 11-month birthday! We are so thankful you are in our family!

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