Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bloopers

Someone commented that on the Christmas card, all our girls' smiles are so nice, but "what's with Aaron"?  I wouldn't say he is a less happy child than his sisters- by any means.  But he is extremely hard to get a picture of.  First, because he is only still while sleeping, it's hard to get a focused picture.  Second, he is camera shy and won't look at the camera or mommy or the person trying to get his attention-- he keeps looking down.  I have dozens of looking down shots, but figured friends & family would prefer to see his eyes! 



And then there's the girls: they are very good picture takers, but Jaci got snow in her shoe when we were at the park (ouch!), and I caught Ella "exclaiming" when I promised Aaron a candy cane if he would *just*look*up!!





(Ella thought maybe she could make Jaci smile?)
And these ones almost made the cut...



December joys: making foot warmers, pretzels, sugar cookies, homemade placemats & scramble!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Letter

Christmas letters. Some people love 'em. Some people hate 'em. I figure if you made the effort to come to the blog, you're the interested party that I'm writing to. I personally love to sit down and read about other people's lives and the past year. But when I go to write one for my family, I begin to contemplate: "Do I just write about all the successes, triumphs and happiness? Or, in an attempt to put off the "good image" (which is only an image), do I write about all of our struggles, weaknesses and discomfort?" We have all had both in 2011. All of us and all of you. But I think God would like me to write about what HIS hand has done in our hearts and in our family. Here's an attempt at that:

First off, the big announcement: we are getting ready to welcome another baby into our family! The timing of this pregnancy and due date were extremely difficult for us to accept. Although we wished to have more children, this would not have been our timing. As we wrestled through shock, denial, and even disappointment, we came to believe God's bottom line: what isn't our plan IS God's! This, another precious blessing from God, is His plan, and he couldn't have made him/her at any other time. Who are we to question, when we couldn't be more pleased with the others He has given us?! Stay tuned for the announcement of our baby's arrival late April/early May.

Aaron Rio (23 months) is just about to turn two! He is an inquisitive and deep thinking little boy who knows what he wants. These traits have made his age 1 year very long and trying. He never took to signing, so could often be found yelling for what he wanted, with mommy making 5-10 guesses, and then giving up. (Up 'til now, we have not found a volume control on him). He has just begun communicating in English sentences, the first complete sentence last month being (when asked if he was ready for bedtime story) "No Mommy, I playin' with horses!". Due to Daddy's influence and the Green Bay memorabilia that has found its way to our home, he says "Go Packers" every time he sees the Packers logo. Aaron is a very sweet little boy (and the most cuddly of our children) who just this morning said perfectly "I love you Mommy". He loves to sing "Jesus Loves Me" with the family. At bedtime he can be heard saying, "Daddy, 'Come to Jesus'" or "Give me Jesus", thereby requesting to be serenaded to sleep. He especially loves his sisters, horse figurines, legos, Layla, and throwing balls.

Jaci Claire (3 1/2) is both delightful and spunky. Unconcerned about winter temperatures, she insists on wearing sun dresses most every day, and will not wear socks. She is most often the helper in the kitchen, joyfully pulling a chair up to the counter to help add salt, break eggs, or stir the pot. She has begun reading lessons in school, and asks to have one as often as her older sisters are studying. She proclaims herself "best buddies" with one of her siblings on any given day, and interacts well with all of them. When she believes she has been wronged, she recognizes the need for some "quiet time" and spends a few minutes behind a closed door before offering forgiveness. She is very independent, and finds it hard to take "no" for an answer. No, she doesn't stomp, scream or shout-- she simply waits until mom isn't looking to quietly help herself to a cough drop or gum. We're working on that. She is an excellent swimmer, and is the most exuberant about visiting hotel pools on daddy's business trips to get some more water time. In fact, her exuberance has caused her parents quite a bit of stress at times. She happily jumps into the water (whether an adult is watching or not) and can swim the width of a hotel sized pool.

Tessa Jane (5 1/2) is at the adorable stage of beginning to think for herself. She can be heard making such comments as, "Mom, God has no beginning and no end, but we have a beginning and no end". To which I reply, "That's exactly right, Tessa!" She then confesses that it is hard to belive that God has no beginning, and I must concur! She can typically be found doing ballet twirls and pirouettes through the house as she sings and asks all manner of questions. She was elated to be old enough to join the local 4H Club this year, and attends monthly meetings along with her older sister.

Ella Rose (7 3/4) is a born leader. She is our #1 helper around the house, and pitches in cheerfully. She also has an acute sense for justice, and quickly reports if a younger sibling is misbehaving, or if something is "not fair". She enjoys homeschool, and likes to get Math over with before moving onto more interesting subjects like geography or gems. Just this year, she has discovered a passion for independent reading, and can be found curled up with a paperback when the house becomes quiet. She is currently reading C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe".

Adrian continues to enjoy his position as Field Engineer for Bonneville Power Administration. He is anticipating increased responsibilities that will shift to his shoulders when his boss retires in March. A highlight of his year was a horseback camping trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness in July. He also had a successful hunting season, bringing home a cow elk in October. Work evenings, he is bombarded at the door by a miniature stampede of children who are very happy to see someone who is bound to be more playful than Mom. At bedtime, he can be found reading a chapter to the children before ushering them off to bed.  He is a picture perfect example of Ephesians 5.25's exhortation to "love your wife", and that keeps this whole family very, very happy!

As for me ~ well, I don't have a lot to show for all my energy output, but am not seeking a career change. By some miracle of Heaven, I am enjoying homeschooling the children at their diverse stages, and find it easy to keep up with lower elementary curricula. As dishes, laundry and vacuuming demands have increased, I have sought serenity by not overcommitting to extracurricular opportunities. I do help coordinate the local homeschool group that has consistently attracted 25 kids each week since September!  My prayers are often for a good night's sleep, as well as for all the friends & family that cross my mind frequently!

Merry Christmas, with Love!

~Anna





Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

 I wanted to create some sort of  "Thanksgiving Tree" for our gathering this year.  I found a photo suggesting the use of real branches, and it was sooo simple to assemble.  Then, with everyone's expression of thankfulness on the leaves, it became really colorful and fun!
all the Thanksgiving kids!
Taylor surprised Adrian & I with a "Birthday Pie".  It was sooo nice, since we didn't get to celebrate the week before!

And yes, we are cheering on those Packers.  They are 10-0!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

thankful

 Yesterday we enjoyed an amazing feast followed by lots of games and time with good, closer friends.  Today when I asked Ella whether she had as much fun as she thought she would have (with all the anticipation and all), she replied, "I had way more fun that I thought.  I think God was trying to tell me something.  He was trying to tell me that heaven is going to be like Thanksgiving every day, only better!" 

such a sweet, smart, and intuitive girl!  :)  And just one of the people I have to be thankful for!

...and I'm camera shopping so I can continue to post pictures here  :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

aaron video

Aaron identifying the Catan cards at 21 months.  (For timber, he sadly explains, "tree fall down"). 
Are you impressed, Uncle Stephen? video


October in Pictures


Summary of photos:
A deer hit Adrian's car one dark morning; he was fine; we're not sure about the deer.  We enjoyed a trip to Oregon: fun, food and family!  We returned home to find our maple tree adorned with golden leaves.  When they all fell last week, we enjoyed them from the ground, too.  Ella has wanted to make "dark" bread for a while, so we took the time to make some Swedish Rye bread yesterday.  Out of it (plus some previously baked oatmeal bread) we were able to make checkerboard sandwiches!  And our girls are learning how to play Catan with us.  Ella won the first game she played!



things dads do

Last weekend, upon returning home from a week in Oregon, my sweet husband offered to help me with the 8 loads of laundry that had accumulated while we were away.  Even though laundry is my "favorite" house chore, looking at the mountain caused me to gladly accept.  Somehow when we work together, work seems to take less than half the time.  A few hours later, Adrian was occupied when I heard the dryer end its cycle, so I went to switch out loads.  Upon opening the dryer, I discovered that he had re-washed and dried the huge, heavy jeans load that I had already placed in the clean laundry basket ~ only I hadn't folded them yet.  One thing about house help, whether husbands or kids: you can't always have it "your way", it may not be the most efficient, and it may not look the way you usually finish ... but still, I am thankful!  I think thankfulness is the key to getting more help in the future. 

As our family grows, I am finding my chore systems to need constant adjustment.  I am still confused as to why, when we had our 4th baby the laundry seemed to double and I was running the dishwasher twice per day instead of once.  After all, he was just an infant ~ why the increase?  As he has gotten older, those adjustment have become "normal", but I am still battling the way toys reproduce while we aren't watching, and the way there are 8 little hands dropping items around the house no matter how closely I watch.  Luckily Ella is stepping up to be a great help.  I was once told that age 7 is when they really begin to pitch in around the house, and I've been waiting... for Ella, it was 7 1/2 (this autumn) when she suddenly started organizing and cleaning in a way I didn't know she was capable of!!  Hurray!

Back to Dads.  Last weekend, the girls were begging to go for a bike ride in the crisp autumn air.  We also needed a handful of things at the grocery store, so Adrian combined the tasks and took E&T on bikes to Albertsons to shop!  Along with all the fresh apples, oranges, bananas, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, & yogurt I had requested, they came home with mini Butterfingers, frosted sugar cookies, bologna, Cheetos, and a big tub of Tillamook ice cream.  I am one (1 out of 6, that is) who attempts to keep high fructose corn syrup and artificial anything out of the house ~ and here walking in was a load of all of the above.  I was rather amused.  Oh, how the children would be lacking in balance if it weren't for their dad!  They truly NEED the balance their daddy provides.  (Well, maybe not the Cheetos...)

Adrian provides "balance" for the kids in many other ways, too.  We have a routine of picking up toys (and books and clothes and many other miscellaneous items) before daddy gets home.  Upon his arrival we have to strategically plan our 1.5 hours before bedtime.  We eat dinner, clean up, set up a game, and then start the bedtime routine.  Over the last week, we have been playing board games almost every evening.  Sometimes game playing is slow going as they learn, but we are REALLY thankful to be together after Adrian was gone weeknights for 6 out of 7 weeks.  And I'd much rather be telling the children which card to pick up than watching who-knows-what on the DVD player.  We happily canceled Netflix a few months ago, and *might* get back to wholesome video watching when the weather turns really cold.

So...  I am the one who calls out orders to get dressed, eat healthy food, wipe your mouth, keep on task in school, put away one project before you begin another, pick up your toys, you've played with the computer/iPhone/laptop enough, and get to bed on time.  Adrian is the one who comes home, plays games, serves dessert, wrestles at bedtime, and knows how to relax....  God knew our children needed both.

Can you relate?  I'd like to hear how YOU are balanced out by your family!

Friday, October 28, 2011

HE provides!

Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide.  "And Abraham said, God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son. So they went both of them together"  (Gen 22.8)  "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. As it is said to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided."  (Gen 22.14).  And of course Abraham's experience was a foreshadow of the LORD providing himself a lamb who would take away the sins of the whole world.  He has provided.

We are thanking Jehovah-Jireh this morning, as Adrian just called from the side of a mountain to announce that he successfully hunted a cow elk!  We will now have local, organic, grass fed meat provided for our family for another year!  Thank you God, Creator and provider of all.

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." --Hebrews 1.3, NIV

Monday, October 10, 2011

September...

Ok, well, these photos are hopelessly out of order, but blogger won't let me move them right now, and I'm vowing not to lose my sanity over it.  Instead, I'll lose my perfectionism ~ most of these were taken during our 2 weekends at Gramma Mary's house in early Sept.
Tessa learned to ride without training wheels a while ago, but one weekend in September she suddenly found her confidence, and now embraces any opportunity to go for a ride!  We are so proud of her!!  One walk in the park had 2 girls riding independently and 2 in the bike trailer, so we are finally hopeful that whole family bike outings will actually be a fun thing in the future!

The kids at the picnic spot before a carousel ride (photo courtesy Elissa ~ thank you!)


Aaron with his 1st Birthday wagon (only assembled 8 months late!)
 
The kids enjoying a snack during our sadly unsuccessful hunt for huckleberries

Our kids are never happier than when outside...
Gramma Mary and Jaci riding Missoula's carousel. 
Ella & Tessa took great delight in choosing which horse they would ride, but photos of them turned out blurry!

Since we homeschool year round, our "first day" of this school year was July 1.  However, this photo was taken on our first day of Homeschool Group in early September.  We are delighted to have a large group of local homeschoolers meeting weekly this year; there have been 25 children attending for the past 3 weeks.  The kids enjoy great lessons and very fun play time!  We've done projects like baking, science experiments, and making duct tape wallets.  Up this week: decorating cake pops, lesson by a professional cake decorator mom!

Tessa was the one who suggested the photo shoot, and posed very cutely!

Ella pulling smaller siblings in the new wagon!

Bob Marshall Wilderness Fishing Trip

Since Adrian doesn't blog, I got to choose some photos from his Bob Marshall Wilderness Fishing trip from August!  Our camera remained broken at that time, so I was glad Kris shared his photos with us, which include a lot of Adrian!  :)  Even though we missed him at home for one summer weekend, this was truly a once in a lifetime trip! 
Gathering up the horses ~ there were 6 men with 11 horses (6 to ride, 5 to pack out camp)

crossing a stream near the beginning of the trail


Kris & Adrian




August re-cap

summer didn't arrive until July, and then August 29 we had this huge hail storm, so once again summer felt very short!  Thankfully we had reason to keep out the summer gear until October.

We attended the local Tri-County fair in order to see what ribbons Ella's 4H projects had received.  The girls were so excited to see projects from our house at a fair, and Tessa is now exuberant about joining the Clover Buds as well.  I have completely loved 4H as a complimentary activity to homeschooling.  It only requires 1 evening meeting per month, instills healthy values, always involves a cute craft and lots of fun!  A lot of people still don't know that involvement in 4H doesn't require that you have farm animals; the art and craft entry selections seem endless!

Ahhh, the joys of summer ~ like drinking out of the soaker hose!




A family trip to Storm Lake

Gleefully throwing rocks into the lake!

Amazing scenery and amazing little blessings...

Daddy & Aaron in the float tube, ready to go fishin'

adrian & jaci out on the float tube

They caught one!!!

mmmm, those made some yummy dinners!!

<3

An ominous looking sun while the skies were smoky with nearby forest fires

Oh what fun, with friends from Michigan!!!
Our daddies had fun in the Bob Marshall together, and then we got to play too!  Here they are lined up, in order of age ~
Jalynn, Ella, Jocelyn, Madelyn, Tessa, Jaci, Aaron!