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My Valentines

My Valentines

Since Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, we got to celebrate extra this year!  I suppose technically we’ve been celebrating for almost a month now, since it was several weeks ago that Than surprised me with a night away at a beautiful spot in Estes Park.  It was fun to have our special time together, and I was glad we still had the 14th to be with the kids as well.

The tradition at school is that everyone can dress up in fancy clothes instead of wearing uniforms.  This is particularly popular with a certain daughter of mine…

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Both kids also enjoyed handing out Valentines to their classmates and came home with a wide variety of cards and treats from all their friends.

Since the actual Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, and since we didn’t get out to see our neighbors at Christmas, we took the morning to go around with plates of Valentine’s treats.  I just love making cookie plates!!  It was a nice time to visit with the people we live near.

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Also that morning, my family surprised me with some thoughtfully chosen little gifts (my favorite kind, small little “this and that” things, purchased from my favorite store!) and some hand written Valentines.  Than is so good at helping the kids with that kind of thing, and I felt loved.

After we finished our home celebrations, we headed out for an adventure.  Since many of our favorite attractions were unusually crowded, our trip to the zoo morphed into a trip to the museum of nature and science, then turned into a trip to the botanic gardens, and finally ended up being a trip to the museum of miniatures, dolls, and toys.  It was fun for everyone to explore someplace new, and nice to find a spot that wasn’t crawling with hundreds of other people!

We ended the day with a special family dinner at home.  I am one happy Valentine!
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Nate the Eight!

Nate the Eight!

Somehow my sweet little baby…

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…raced through the toddler years…

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…headed off to school…

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…and turned into this big handsome fellow!

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We celebrated Nathan’s birthday yesterday (and a little last week, and a little next week, in our usual family tradition!)  For dinner he requested a salad bar–all his favorite ingredients that each guest could mix together in their own way.  Nathan’s list included artichoke hearts, mixed olives, pepperoni, salami, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, red and yellow peppers, and carrots.  He also picked out Chile Limon chips and baked Parmesan potatoes.  Nice menu, buddy!

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Dessert was a chocolate train cake, a great use of the cupcake train pan from my favorite goodie-box provider.  It was fun for each guest to pick their own car.

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We also used the cake pan to make a Jello train.  (The Jello corporation is happy–it took 3 boxes of Jello!)

Of course the festivities have also included kind gifts from lots of people–even a sweet sister picked something out!

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There have also been fun cards and treats in the mail.  We like our festivities stretched out around here, and so far that has been working just fine.

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I am so grateful for this book-loving, train-loving, scooter-loving, mom’s-cooking-loving, family-loving, Bible-loving boy that was designed by God to fit just right in our family.  Happy birthday, son!

Easter

Easter

What a joy to celebrate Christ’s resurrection!  New life, bright colors, flowers springing into bloom–God’s handiwork evident in the world around and hopefully in the hearts at our table as well.

Than worked very hard on the Good Friday events at church.  SGC did lots of new things this year including some very artistic, interactive prayer environments, an all-church family meal at the conclusion of the Good Friday service, and an attempt at making the Easter egg hunt intergenerational.  Good stuff!  Our family didn’t see much of Than, but we enjoyed sharing the evening with Than’s parents and other church friends.

Saturday involved some housework, some preparations for Sunday, a 4-year-old birthday tea party with friends, and a family trip to the Botanic Gardens.  We also dyed our Easter eggs (and I was left wondering when my kids will be old enough to do it without me worrying about cracked eggs and the threat of dye splattering all over something!)

Sunday I got to play with the church orchestra, always a treat.  Easter music stirs the soul!  After lunch the kids went to “nap” while I prepared dinner and Than hid our Easter suprises around the yard.  It was hard for them to wait for our dinner guests, so they each hid 10 eggs in their rooms and then traded rooms for a warm-up hunt.

Finally the grandparents and great-grandparents arrived and we set the kids loose to race around the yard and fill their baskets.  The weather was beautiful and the grown-ups enjoyed talking in the sunshine while the kids brought back their treasures.  We enjoyed grilled chicken, salad, sourdough bread, grilled pineapple and asparagus for dinner and strawberry shortcakes and coconut macaroon nests for dessert.

In some ways, the highlight of the day happened at bedtime.  After everyone was tucked in, I heard Nathan crying and went in to see what was wrong.  He was sad because Easter was over and he loves Jesus rising from the dead and the Easter egg hunt.  In my mind, that means we’ve succeeded at least this year in making this holy time of year an important event in our children’s lives.

Nathan’s Birthday

Nathan’s Birthday

Amid all the Beaver Creek and Suzuki vacation happenings, Nathan had a birthday!  His official birthday was the day we arrived home from our vacation, but of course the celebration can’t be just one day around here!

At the beginning of our week in the mountains, he received the gift of a new scooter from Gran B and Poppy so he could enjoy riding it around the bike paths up there.  He was very excited!

On his actual birthday, the final day of Suzuki Institute, he awoke to a little bag of birthday suprises and balloons hanging from the chandelier.  We tied a balloon to our backpack and all day long friends and teachers wished him well.  He was sung to by every class!  He chose Mexican for our dinner restaurant, and it was an excellent meal with some of the best fresh tortillas I’ve ever had.

When we arrived home that evening, the birthday card holder was waiting and there was garland hanging in the living room and kitchen, thanks to me sneaking back in the house and “forgetting something” just before we left.

Birthday boxes arrived in the mail from Grandma and Grandpa and from Bonzo and Pappy so there was something special to open each day for a while.  Train books, new reader books, Dr. Seuss’s Book About Me, and a Lite Brite (that both kids can work on at the same time)–very fun!

Tuesday we enjoyed Grandpa Train and Grandma Sweetie’s company, along with Poppy, for Nathan’s birthday dinner of choice–French toast, strawberries, tomatoes, and bacon.  He decided he’s not a big cake fan, so this year the candles went in homemade cherry raspberry ice cream (his flavor choice).  The Thomas the Tank Engine flags were a popular touch.

Grandpa Train and Grandma Sweetie brought over a huge new addition to his marble track set, which was a big hit (with Daddy as well as Nathan).  Of course we had to set it up right away, and it has undergone several permutations since then.

Of course there were plenty of other well wishes, cards, and kind remembrances from lots of people.  Thanks to everyone for remembering!!  All in all, I’d say it was a pretty happy birthday, wouldn’t you?!!