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Summer Play

Summer Play

After a few recent posts, you might be tempted to think that I spent the entire summer devotedly cooking and crafting creatively with my children.  Hah!  Just remember two things…

1) My blog is a highlight reel of the things I happened to remember to take pictures of.  NOT real life, only an edited glimpse of life.  Always keep that in mind.

2) I spend LOTS of time on the computer–having fun, writing this blog, wasting hours on Pinterest, and working for Get HOPE Global.  I also cook and clean and do laundry and whatever else.  That means lots of time when my kids are off doing their own thing.

And what, you may ask, do they do when they are doing their own thing?

There are the usual suspects: slogging through piano practice, doing household chores, fighting as siblings do, and hanging out in the corner with a pile of books.  I have been surprised, however, that the older they get the more fun they seem to have with each other.  It is neat to see their personalities interact, and to watch how the unique combination that is them turns into a variety of interesting activities.  Here are a few of my favorites from this summer:

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Creating a miniature world with lots of little objects, plastic animals, and random other things from their rooms.

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Turning the IKEA umbrellas into the base of a fort/ship.  Blankets, games, books, stuffed animals–all kinds of stuff ended up out there.

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Crazy backyard water play.  We’ve sure gotten our mileage out of that kiddie swimming pool and the little toddler slide!

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Garden experiments–mixing, stirring, lots of picking leaves and making mud.  This particular time they added some almost-dried-out paints and glitter glues that were headed for the trash.

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Time alone–the scene above is a fairly typical one.  Katya keeps going with a project long after Nathan has left to go back to his book.  Sometimes they do really well at drifting in and out of interacting together.

Can you tell I love summer with my kids together?  Yep, I do!

A Cardboard Box…

A Cardboard Box…

What do you do when your kids work hard for several hours getting the garden and yard cleaned up for spring planting?  Well, if you are me you think about taking them out to lunch or buying them a present.  If you are Than, however, you take the leftover cardboard in the junk pile outside and turn it into super cool loft-bed-fort-houses.

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Now, instead of spending money and acquiring something that needs to be put away, you get several days of creative play while the kids decorate their new spaces inside and out–markers, stickers, custom-cut windows–so fun to see the personality of each child played out in their designs.

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Eventually the forts had to come down, but not before I promised to take pictures so we could remember them.  I am grateful for my inventive husband, my playful kids, and the fun of turning trash into treasure (and using up a bunch of long-piled stickers in the process!)

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Snow Angels

Snow Angels

We could always use more snow here in the mountain West, but every once in a while we get a really good one.  While Than and I cleaned up Christmas decorations, our kids went outside and dove in.  Snow angels galore covered the yard.

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After a brief fight involving ruined snow angels, snow in the face, and other items of that nature, they figured things out and enjoyed some more good times before coming in to melt.  Hooray for God’s gifts of snow, warm coats and snow pants, and kids old enough to get dressed and undressed and play outside by themselves sometimes!

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Catching Up-One More Christmas

Catching Up-One More Christmas

One more Christmas post, full of photos from our Christmas… and one more Christmas… and maybe one more…  We enjoy spreading out the presents and the people over several days, and this year was no exception.  

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Christmas Eve anticipation…

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The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care, but Than DID have the main room of the basement completed in time for us to enjoy opening gifts down there on Christmas morning!

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Katya picked out Nathan’s present, just what he asked for–smart girl.

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Katya enjoyed testing out a lovely new box of dress up clothes.  She even ended up wearing several layers of glamorous outfits to our lunch with Than’s grandparents!  The seniors who live in their complex were quite impressed.

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Nathan got a new grown-up bike for Christmas.  I guess it is good we didn’t have a white Christmas so he could test it out right away.

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He was also a big fan of his Bey Blades, super spinning tops that whirl around and try to knock each other over.  He taught Aunt Lynne how to use them.

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Making gingerbread houses consumed much of the evening on the actual Christmas Day–fun for all involved!  Aunt Ann, Aunt Lynne, Gran B, Daddy, and Katya were the main architects with Nathan providing sugar sampling support, Mommy in charge of material procurement, and Poppy heading up the encouragement section.

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We enjoyed more Baylor festivities on New Year’s Day, with the cousins playing in full force.  Love it!

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My favorite part was watching the kids dancing and singing all over the living room to music from the electric keyboard.  Hilarious!!

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As always, there are plenty of wonderful Christmas season moments that escaped the camera.  My dad’s visit, Christmas Eve at church, so many thoughtful gifts, our family game night, the consumption of the gingerbread constructions, and many more that aren’t in my head at the moment.  I am grateful for all these good memories, and for the time to celebrate with joy and enthusiasm even amid the construction in the basement, the ever-busy nature of church work, and the reality that there always seems to be just one more thing to do.  Happy Christmas to all!

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Catching Up-Christmas Performances

Catching Up-Christmas Performances

Trying to avoid being a star-struck mommy who posts full-length videos of every performance my kids ever do, but there were some nice stage moments over the Christmas season.

Katya’s kindergarten class puts on a cute little holiday show–incidentally, the first performance on our new school’s stage!

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Nathan participated in the annual Baylor Music Studio play-in, performing Silent Night and participating enthusiastically in all the silly game-events that go with that evening:)

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The kids’ gingerbread house provided a nice centerpiece for our play-in refreshment table.

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Not quite a public performance, but Katya created this block “picture” on the floor and begged me to send the picture to her grandmas, so I will put it here in fulfillment of that request.

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Finally, my favorite performance by far, the annual children’s Christmas Pageant at church.

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Nathan played his Silent Night again as part of the prelude, and one of my violin students also performed her piece.

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Katya worked and worked to proudly say her line loud and clear: “And Mary knew these things were precious and pondered them in her heart.”

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Nathan said, “And Mary went up to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child.  And when Elizabeth saw her, the baby inside Elizabeth leaped for joy.  And in a loud voice, Elizabeth said…”  He also sang a verse of “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night.”

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Than, of course, did his usual stellar job of being behind the scenes, directing lights and tech crew and all kinds of moving parts.  The story is always worth watching, familiar as it is, and we were honored to have so many great-grandparents able to attend, as well as grandparents and aunts.  Thanks, supportive family!

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Fairy Garden

Fairy Garden

Inspired by a gift to Katya from my grandmother, we finally got around to making our own fairy garden.  (And yes, I know that fairies aren’t real and so do my kids, it is just the perfect name for a tiny little created world!)  I’ve wanted to do this project for a while and it was fun to get to it.  We started with a big rolling planter, also from my grandmother now that I think of it!

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After putting in some fresh soil, we added some plants from the nursery, transplanted others from around the yard, stuck in a few decorations from last year’s gnome dish garden (thanks, mom) and made sand paths.  Once the kids got over arguing about who would do what, we had a good time imagining together.

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Katya’s inside fairies came out for a visit, as did a few other tiny toys.

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The kids have played with it several times since we started.  Katya likes to collect roly poly bugs and set them loose to wander around.  Both kids decorate it occasionally with nature finds from the yard–a few snail shells, a ladybug shell, some bright pink flower petals.  We will add different things throughout the summer and see what grows.  Hopefully I will get Than to take some better photos of it later on.  For now, these will have to do.  Why are tiny things so much fun?

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility The Musical

Thanks to a Christmas gift and kid sleepover, Than and I enjoyed a special evening out.  First came dinner reservations at The Corner Office.  In classic Than style, we enjoyed a meal of appetizers followed by dessert-perfect!  We shared Lemon Steamed Edamame, Suppli al Telefono (yeah, I don’t know how to pronounce it either–the menu says “braised short rib and mozzarella risotto fritters with olive tapenade in a tomato ragu.  Whatever it was, it was YUMMY!), and a Soba Noodle Salad.  For dessert we had their version of a banana split–fried bananas topped with avocado ice cream, coconut whipped cream, nutella, and a few tart cherries.

Following dinner we walked back to the performing arts complex for a new musical based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.  The longer it went on, the more we loved it!  By the end we were both thoroughly impressed and happily entertained–humor, romance, costumes, clever sets, catchy music and lyrics–highly recommended.  It is playing in Denver through May, so maybe you should buy a ticket!

I am so grateful to be married to a man I enjoy fun times with, and grateful for the other people in our lives who make them possible.

Houston-Cousins

Houston-Cousins

I was amazed and delighted at how much the cousins enjoyed each other!

Rayce was in the car to pick us up at the airport, and the two started gabbing immediately…

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Katya wanted to walk “linking arms” but Rayce thought she said “blinking arms” so they went around with their elbows linked and their fingers “blinking” open and closed.

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Keon was a patient cohort, joining in the play or doing his own thing as the situation dictated.  Boy he is cute!

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The sand castle builders–a stern king and a girly queen?!!

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It was just so good to watch them enjoy each other.

Hang in there–one more post reserved just for baby pictures…

The Joys of Spring Break–5

The Joys of Spring Break–5

One of the joys of spring break…

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…Nathan home from school, giving me the chance to hear the laughter of my children imagining together and the opportunities to have some meaningful conversations about the Easter story over lunch.

Creativity

Creativity

I am a big fan of my weekly babysitter–she keeps good control of my kids, but also has lots of fun with them!  When I finished teaching piano lessons last week, this is what I found downstairs…

Anyone else have a princess rocking horse?!!  I didn’t think so!