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Tag: growth

Growing Up

Growing Up


When does growing up turn into growing old?  Is it a number of birthdays, a state of mind, or a place in the generational family tree?


Grandparents have been heavy on my mind and heart recently.  When Nathan was born, Than and I had eight grandparents all living independently.  We were thrilled to introduce our new baby to these special people, knowing it wouldn’t last forever.


When Katya came along, we still had all eight!  Each of them was a memorable and distinct person to our toddler son, and we wondered if our infant daughter would know them as well.


By the time Katya was 4 and Nathan was 7, four of the eight had moved into senior facilities of one kind or another.  Both of my kids knew and loved them.


Shortly after Katya’s 6th birthday, just before Nathan turned 9, we lost two of the grandparents in quick succession.  There was sadness over the loss, more sadness over watching people around us grieve, and lots of questions about heaven from the kids.


Now, with Katya 7 and Nathan almost 10, one more face is missing from the lineup.  Two of the remaining five are currently in rehabilitation facilities following serious health challenges.  Life continues to change, and as my kids grow older so do my grandparents.


I am so grateful to these grandparents, both the ones that are mine by birth and those that are mine through marriage.  I am grateful to be part of a family that is tied together–in places, still four generations deep on this side of heaven.  I am grateful for these wise people who have patiently shaped and molded my parents, and in turn me.  I am grateful for the opportunity to watch 8 different colors and styles of aging, 8 different men and women farther along the road that I too am traveling, 8 different stories that feed the roots of my own story, 8 different faith journeys that still point to a faithful God.

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The most dramatic spiritual conversion story I have ever heard can’t top the power of a life given to God all the way through to the very end.  I am privileged to be watching these stories playing out, and challenged by the ways I am needed to be part of their lives.  I wonder what my own road will look like, if it will be as long as theirs, and how I will act and live when I am in their shoes.  I welcome the lessons I am learning, and wonder if the “Thoughts on Aging…” notes in my journal are at all close to the thoughts I will really have when the end is so much closer than the beginning.  I hope that I continue to grow up, and I am grateful for the growing up that God still has in store for my grandparents.


(Note, all the photos in this post feature my Grandpa Topping.  I’ve lined them up in chronological order, starting when he went to serve in WW2 and ending with Katya’s Bible presentation at Christmas.  The baby and the girl with the glasses are me.  Gramps is the one most in my thoughts today, and he’s the one I have the most photos of!!)

Katya Graduates

Katya Graduates

While Than may be right in thinking it is a little funny to “graduate” from kindergarten when there are so many more years of school yet to go, it is hard to argue that this is a precious sight:


My mom and Than’s mom were able to join us at the graduation ceremony and I was amazed, just like with Nathan (see his graduation pics here), at all the things these kids have learned in their first year.  Memorized answers, rhymes, jingles, songs–so many ways to keep basic knowledge in their heads.


After the ceremony the kids and parents celebrated with a party at a nearby park.  Not to be left out, Nathan finished off his 3rd grade year with a party of his own.  He has really liked his teacher this year and will miss her a lot when he moves into 4th grade! Here is their picture, although I forgot to ask her permission to post it so I’ve blurred out her face to be respectful of privacy!  Take my word for it, she is beautiful with a firm but gentle manner, affection for her job and students, and a very pleasant teaching voice and attitude.


After the official end of school we celebrated with lunch out and then a trip to the Botanic Gardens.  Hooray for the beginning of summer!


School Begins

School Begins

Here they are, ready for the first day of school!


Nathan, Mr. Experienced Third Grader, rolled back into the swing of things without too much anticipation or hesitation.  He is taking his role as big brother very seriously, which I appreciate.  He is enjoying his teacher and his friends, and is happy that the homework hasn’t quite started yet.


Katya was looking forward to the start of kindergarten with lots of anticipation and a fair amount of hesitation.  She is so proud of all her new school supplies, but was also pretty nervous especially the day or two before school started.  Her teachers are wonderful and we were able to see her new classroom a few times before school started, so that helped a lot.  When we finally walked into the room on the first morning she made it to her desk and started settling in.  She looked so small and yet so grown-up, all at the same time.  I managed to grin at her and say goodbye, but didn’t dare turn around for long when I heard her call “Goodbye, mom!” as I left the room.  No tears were shed, but I was certainly close!


And no, don’t worry, Nathan isn’t bringing his teddy bear to school nor is Katya allowed to keep her blankie in her desk.  They do wait in the car for their respective owners, however…

Big Girl Bike

Big Girl Bike

Thanks to a good find from eagle-eyed grandparents, Katya has proudly graduated from this…

to this…

She has an official new helmet, too, and proudly took her new wheels for a spin around the nearby playground, following her big brother all the way.  I think she rode the new bike 5 or 6 different times in the first two days!!

Now we get to start counting the time until she is big enough and brave enough for Daddy to take off those training wheels.  When did she grow up?!!

A Moment for Katya

A Moment for Katya

Before heading into the summertime, full of “Nathan and Katya” posts, here are a few random “Katya only” moments that haven’t made it to the blog…

Watching “Swan Lake” on YouTube.  We often do this on Wednesdays–our “stay-at-home-without-a-car” day which Katya looks forward to every week.

That oh-so-expressive face during a photo shoot.  Silly girl!

One of many dress-up looks.  You never know quite what will emerge at the end of naptime!!

Every once in a long while, naptime ends this way…  The tired princess, asleep in the bed she made for herself on the floor.  Note the crown on her head, the sparkly shoe, and the hidden picture coloring book.  All naptime staples in her world.

Katya’s “How to Teach a Baby” class being held in the backyard.  Participants (all imaginary) were instructed to bring 3 of their babies (stuffed animals) and Katya would be in charge.  Bet you wish you had something like that when you were a new mom!!

I sure love this little girl–so full of life and creativity.  I never know what will happen next, and that keeps me on my toes!

Making a Milestone

Making a Milestone

Since Nathan has been asking for a “real” Bible for several weeks, we decided the last day of school presented a good opportunity for giving this special gift.  We invited all the in-town grandparents to join us for lunch.  Than and Katya got things ready while Nathan and I were finishing up at school.

(Yes, the dining room table ended up in the living room.  Fun, huh?!)

Nathan surprised me over lunch.  Completely unprompted, he directed much of the lunchtime conversation.  He asked everyone at the table to share a memory they had of 1st grade, and to tell how long it has been since they were in 1st grade.  He was quite interested, making sure everyone shared a story.  We heard some fun things!

After lunch, each grandparent had the opportunity to show a Bible that was special to them and explain why it was important.  It was a very valuable time of recognizing the faith and history all around the table.  After hearing the stories and seeing the Bibles, Nathan was sent on a hunt for his own.  Guess where he found it?

Hanging up high above his reach in a tree out back, a reminder from Than that Nathan will certainly need help as he embarks on his Bible study journey.  After bringing the bag inside, Than read to Nathan the message we wrote inside.  Then Nathan got to explore his precious treasure–he was so excited!

Than ended by praying for our son and then he got to go around and show his new Bible to everyone.  It was a meaningful way to start his lifelong journey of studying and growing from God’s Word.  We were quite pleased to hear him reading the Bible to his sister at 6:30 a.m. the next morning!  He will not always be as enamored as he is right now, but we pray for his initial enthusiasm to grow into a lifelong devotion to God and His truth given to us.

Goodbye, First Grade

Goodbye, First Grade

Today was Nathan’s last day of first grade!  (Although, in case you are wondering, he has declared that we can’t call him a second grader until he turns seven next month…)

Here he is at the beginning of the year…

Add in about 180 days of math, reading, writing, spelling, Pilgrims, Revolutionary War, magnets, habitats, human body, fairy tales, Aesop’s fables, Ancient Egypt, the solar system, dinosaurs, and subtract a few baby teeth.

Here’s the result…

It was good to help out at his class party, and then return home to a special celebration (the subject of a future post).  Now for a fun summer!!

First Piano Lesson

First Piano Lesson

Now that Katya is four years old, she was able to have her first piano lesson.  She plays for fun quite frequently and often listens to lessons from her basement, so I thought she would be excited to begin.  When I told her the day for lessons was approaching, however, she told me she couldn’t take piano lessons.  When I asked her why, she said, “Mommy, I only know three songs!”  I tried to explain to her that the point of lessons was to teach her more songs, but she insisted, “Nathan knows lots of songs!”  I finally told her that when Nathan started lessons he didn’t know any songs at all, so she was already doing well to know three.  Satisfied, she came to her first lesson and paid very careful attention (to my surprise!).  She has practiced very earnestly with me since then, so our musical journey has begun.

Nathan’s Notebook

Nathan’s Notebook

Here’s a peek into Nathan’s sermon notebook (he has to draw at least 2 pictures during the sermon every week)

The Golden Calf

Being in the world but not of the world

The Light of the World

What worship is

He doesn’t always think very hard or take much time, but it is still interesting to get a glimpse at what he hears and what sticks in his mind.