Abby’s Fourth Birthday

This month, Abby turned four.

So let me tell you all who our Abby-girl is.  She is the most enthusiastic, life-loving little girl I’ve ever known.  I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again and again for the rest of our lives, but Abby is an extremist. When she’s happy, she beams.  When she’s disappointed, the world IS ending.  Her meltdowns are epic.  Her naps are deep.  And when she wants to be loud, she’ll hurt your ear drums.

Abby had to get some shots recently.  Imagine a small room in a doctor’s office.  Abby is curled up on my lap with tears in her eyes.  Lydia is sitting next to us, covering her ears and singing (loudly) a made-up song about how everything is going to be ok.  The nurse is quietly singing Abby a little song about what she’s doing.  It’s not actually time for the shot yet, but Abby is curled up tightly on my lap, clutching her favorite stuffed pig in one hand, and screaming at the top of her lungs.  She continues to scream, even when I tell her it’s not time yet, until the “pokes” are done.  But, the moment Abby was done, she had a sweet little smile once again, tears in her eyes, and was proudly clutching her new stickers as if she had just won a medal.

Abby appreciates food.  One morning she greeted me by asking, “Where’s Daddy?  What’s for dessert?”  Her favorite foods are hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and ice cream.  In fact, we let her pick out one meal for her birthday and she waffled between these choices for about a week.  But all hope is not lost for her future dietary choices.  When Abby doesn’t like the meal I make, she’ll happily ask for three bowls of salad instead.

Abby receives compliments like a pro.  You know how some (many) people shrug off compliments because they’re humble or don’t know how to respond?  Not Abby.  If you tell her you like her dress or that she has pretty eyes, she’ll look up at you with sparkling eyes, a closed-mouth grin, and big cheeks in a way that will make you either compliment her more or try not to giggle.  She’s just that cute.  Dan and I took her to a toy store to let her look around and see what she might like for her birthday.  The conclusion: anything.  Just getting a gift makes Abby’s day and she’ll keep that gift with her all day, whether it’s a sticker, sunglasses, stuffed animal, face paint, tiara…you get the idea.  It was so cute on her birthday to watch her reactions when we sung her, “Happy birthday”, and it was even more adorable to hear her later in a different room singing to herself, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…”

Lydia and Abby are your typical young sisters.  They often don’t get along.  But within the past few months they’ve surprised me.  There are moments of every day when they can play happily together.  They get so caught up in their make-believe worlds and later come to tell me all the stories of what they’ve done.  Usually Lydia is the one in charge, deciding what they play and who’s who.  Abby is usually the princess, bride, or ballerina, and Lydia is the one doing Abby’s hair, picking out her clothes, and putting pretend makeup on her.  Abby also often “has a new baby” and Lydia is Abby’s doctor.

Abby gives the best hugs.  We call them Abby-hugs.  She squeezes tighter and tighter with impressive strength.  And, though her hugs are wonderful, she is less of a snuggler than her sister.  But she is more of a wrestler.  Dan likes to play-wrestle with the girls, but I usually sit out, so whenever a family comes over to our house, Abby wants to know if the dad will wrestle her.  If he’s not big on wrestling, she’ll go for tickling instead.

While Lydia learns things in big jumps, Abby is more of a slow-and-steady-type learner, but what stands out in her is her ability to love.  Since Dan and I tend to be pretty academic people, this has really made an impression on me.  I’ve seen that a person’s love can win you over.  In times when I’ve been overwhelmed and crying, Abby would approach me and ask, even when she didn’t have many words, “Mommy, why are you leaking?”  She’ll tell me now that she doesn’t like it when I’m sad or angry, and if I am she’ll ask, “When will you be happy again?”  She’ll stay by my side until I assure her that I’m doing well again and then she’ll run off to go play some more princess.

This Crazy Kiddo

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Lydia turned six at the end of May. She had been counting down to her birthday for over three months. Several days each week she would update us on what she wanted to do for her birthday, who she wanted to have over, and what presents she wanted to receive. When the birthday weekend finally arrived, we had a lot of birthday and start-of-summer fun. We took her to a toy store to pick out a toy to buy with her birthday money, got ice cream and pizza, and spent much of her actual birthday at the playground. She constantly reminded us to sing and say “Happy Birthday” and begged me to make her a “birthday balloon” (a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it). She got pink roses from Dan and went on her second-ever Daddy-daughter-birthday date.

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Lydia has also been asking regularly if it’s warm enough to play in the sprinkler or go to a pool. Since the first day of spring, it’s been hard to keep socks or shoes on her feet, not to mention a coat. She loves playing “house” outside and is so proud that this year she’s big enough to climb into our tree house all by herself.

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Lydia loves to play pretend, dance, and snuggle. She is always dressing up as a bride or asking to “play princess” with Dan, which is not exactly his favorite game. 😉 She loves any hands-on activities and anything “special”. Bridal showers, weddings, holidays, birthdays, and get-togethers are sure to put her on her best behavior because she’s just so happy. When she learns it’s a significant day, for any reason, she’ll wonder why we aren’t celebrating more. For example, she asked why we weren’t having a fancy breakfast or a special dessert for groundhog’s day.

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Kindergarten was a breeze for Lydia. Thankfully (for me) she picks up on things really fast. Really, the best way to teach Lydia is to not teach her but let her watch others do the task. When she gets it in her head that she wants to try, she usually can succeed. This has worked well with laundry, cleaning up after meals, serving food, and even math lessons. I can get her to learn a lot more by doing a lesson half myself and letting her do the other half, than if I explain a concept to her and ask her to do the assignment alone.

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Gift-giving might be Lydia’s top love language. She loves to make “gifts” for people – homemade construction paper cards, simple cross-stitch pictures, cut out pieces of paper, and bouquets of flowers (dandelions or violets, usually) picked from our yard. She also loves receiving gifts. When she was struggling to do her reading lessons with a cheerful attitude, we discovered small prizes work wonders to get her motivated. And now that our library has started their summer reading program, Lydia has been reading at least a book a day to win her prizes, when it was always a struggle to do a page or two in her reading lesson book.

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She’s always been our most verbal child, so it’s no surprise that Lydia is almost always talking. If we had the patience and knowledge to answer all of her questions, she would be a genius. On ANY topic, Lydia can rattle off 5 questions without taking a break. Usually her trains of questions come to an halt whenever Mom or Dad have to ask for a break so we can focus on something or give attention to someone else. Lydia also has a very good memory. She has memorized over 100 Bible verses (with desserts as the most effective incentive). The other day we were listening to our daily news radio program during breakfast and one of their regular promo segments started playing. She recited the 30 second promo pretty well right on top of the program.

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This year is Lydia’s turn to accompany me to our church Ladies’ Retreat for a Mommy-Daugther date and she’s pretty thrilled. She’s been looking forward to her turn ever since I took Abby last year. Her memory is pretty incredible in that way too. For example, about nine months ago we took Lydia to a dentist appointment. They told her that she would earn a stuffed animal prize if she could stop sucking her thumb for 30 days. She stopped that very day. Last month I took her again and she got her prize. The next day I found her sucking her thumb after eight months without it! Dan and I had to explain that the point was to stop altogether, not just stop for eight months to earn her prize and then start again.

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Some of my most precious memories of Lydia lately have been our one-on-one times together. Sometimes Lydia will snuggle up next to me during nap time and play with my hair while she listens to an audio book. Occasionally Lydia helps me cook dinner, peeling carrots or stirring vegetables as they cook (that’s her favorite because she feels so grown up working at the stove). I try to remember to give her snuggles, hugs, and tickles whenever my hands are free because my hands are so often full, I’ll go days without a Lydia hug if I’m not intensional. (Don’t worry about her being deprived though, Dan picks up the slack. Lydia is quite gifted at sneaking into his lap whether he says it’s ok or not!)

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Little Man Turns Two

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It’s hard to believe Paul is already two years old. He is. And, when he’s not being shy, he’ll tell you he is.

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“How old are you Paul?”

“TWO!”, he’ll answer with a grin as he holds out his thumb and pointer finger to show you.

It’s cute. He is adorable. And he had a really great birthday.

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Before Paul was born, Dan and I joked that we needed a boy. Our girls like their snuggles from Daddy. Several months ago, there was so much fighting over who would sit on Daddy’s lap during Bible time, we had to set up a schedule. So Dan and I would joke that we needed a boy who wouldn’t need the snuggles from Daddy, a boy who would snuggle Mom instead. And do you know what? Paul is the snuggliest little two-year-old I’ve ever met. He wants Mommy to hold him during every meal, whenever he’s tired, and whenever he’s unsure about something. Paul is incredibly sweet and loves to help. Lately he’s enjoyed taking his bib off, bringing it into the kitchen, and throwing it into the sink. He usually does so in the middle of a meal, but it’s still adorable. He also likes to help with laundry, by pushing the wet clothes into the dryer as I put them down on the dryer door. Then he slams the door shut, usually before I’m done. He also likes to shut the dishwasher for me, while I’m still loading it. 😀

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Paul also likes to help set and clear the table. He’ll spot a condiment in the fridge and put in on the table and then come back for more. He’s choices don’t often match the meal (mustard when we’re having tacos, for example). When the meal is done and the girls are delaying as much as they can before clearing their dishes, Paul will walk back and forth, grabbing whatever is left on the table, and throwing it into the sink or trash (not always the right one).

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He’s also a Little Rascal. He’s cute and he knows it. He’s not afraid to cock his head to the side and give you his sweet “emoji” grin when he’s up to no good. He loves to wrestle, but doesn’t like to lose, and isn’t too old to run to Mom for a hug when he doesn’t win. He loves balls and bats, and toys or pictures of animals that growl. (He likes to growl.) Paul loves to be outside and will often grab his shoes and point to the coat closet to tell you he wants out, but he hates the cold and will stay inside whenever it’s below freezing.

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Like Abby, Paul has been slower to start talking. Recently we started using sign language for some basic words at meals and he’s picked up on those pretty well. Even more recently he has started picking up more words and putting words together. Here are some recent favorites:

Bible/Baseball – “Bay-Bul”
“No”
“Coat”
“Bye Nana” (after I got off the phone with my Mom the other day)
“Night Daddy”
“Thank You”
“Hold” (me)
Elijah John – “Lijah John”
Lydia – “Lee-ya”
“Car”
“Nose” (He finds it hilarious to say “nose” and point to your nose.)
OK Google – “Okay Gool” (which he says into my phone whenever he can get his hands on it)

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Paul loves being a big brother and hasn’t had much trouble adjusting, but sometimes he gets jealous if he sees me holding Elijah (or anyone else) when he wants to be held. Overall he is a great older brother who loves his siblings, snuggles his Mommy, and wants to be just like his Daddy.

We love you Little Man! Happy Second Birthday!

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Easter According to Lydia

Our family had a wonderful day celebrating Easter this weekend.  In fact, we had such a nice day, I didn’t even think to take pictures.  Sorry!

But, I do have something to share with you all today.  🙂

A couple of years ago, I used a picture book to teach Lydia about Easter.  We looked at it every day for about a week and in the end, Lydia was able to use the book to tell me about Easter.  Well, since Abby is now two and I thought it would be a good tradition to keep, we pulled out the same book and learned Easter again this year.  I was hoping to capture Abby’s version, but it turns out she isn’t quite as eager to be videotaped or to share anything on demand.  So instead, I have for you all, four-year-old Lydia’s version of Easter.  And, just for fun, I’m posting her two-year-old version here too.  Her voice was so high and cute!

Happy belated Easter everyone.  He is risen!

Little Treats

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Lydia is getting old enough now to have discussions with us. We had one recently at breakfast about “treats”. She has come to associate treats with dessert and I was trying to explain to her that a treat doesn’t have to be a small, sweet, edible snack.

A treat is anything that you enjoy, that you don’t get very often.

We listed some examples of treats and went on with our day. Since it’s November, I thought the conversation was pretty fitting. It’s fun to focus and watch other people focus on things for which we are thankful.

Of course, one of the things I’m grateful for, well three of the things that I’m thankful for are my kids. Today for your own little treat, I’m going to share some of the cute things the girls have been saying.

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Abby doesn’t say much yet. At least, not enough to get a quote from. But she does have one quoteable moment from the past week. After breakfast we were having our daily “Bible time”. I asked the girls, as I always do, what they were thankful for that day. Lydia has a handful of items she often repeats: bubbles, bread, seeing friends, and Grandma. Abby always says the same thing: Pizza (which sounds more like “Pita”). But one morning Abby surprised me with a new one, “Anju”. I asked her if she meant her friend from church and she nodded.

“Aww, Abby, that’s so sweet”. And she added “and Jesus.”

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Now that it’s harder to sneak treats without sharing with Lydia, our family has learned that she also has inherited our sweet tooth. One night when we had finished dinner and were getting ready for Bible study, Lydia informed us that she wanted a “sweet treat” and when she didn’t think we had understood her, she insisted she wanted “a little somethin’ somethin’.”

After our vacation last month, we had some leftover apple cider sitting in our fridge. Lydia consistently asked for some hot cider every single day. One evening when it looked like she wasn’t going to get any she walked up to Dan, who was sitting in the living room. She very gently put her hand on his arm, lay her head on his shoulder and looked up at him with the biggest eyes imaginable as she cooed, “I love you Daddy…” She probably did get some hot apple cider that night.

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Several weeks ago I was sitting in the living room. Lydia was on the floor playing with a doll when she looked up at me and asked, “Mom, did God, like, put glue on my head and put my hair on?”

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The other day I was having a comical conversation with Lydia trying to ask her to do something and she was not following. “Lydia,” I insisted, “use your brain.” She responded cheerfully, “Ok, but I don’t know where my brain is.”

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Lydia’s Top Twelve

A few years ago, my Grandpa sent out an email to his grandchildren including his version of the 12 most important verses in the Bible. Of course, all verses are important, but based on the ones that have influenced him the most, he made this list. Since Lydia has been working through memorizing Bible verses over the past couple of years, I decided to work out way through my Grandpa’s “top twelve”. As of last week, she has memorized them all. I share this post and encourage you to watch the videos for three reasons.

1. To celebrate Lydia’s Bible memory accomplishments.

2. To be encouraged by the verses themselves and inspired to read and memorize Scripture on your own.

3. Abby makes an appearance in several of these videos. It’s cute.

(Some of these verses actually include more than just one verse to maintain the context of the passage. The Bible didn’t even have verses or chapters when it was written, so don’t let this bother you).

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

John 1:1-2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness

Romans 8:28-29

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Peek-a-boo: Abby Update

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Tomorrow Abby turns 17 months old. No, she’s not walking yet. The race is still on to see whether she’ll beat her big sister at that. But this month Abby started crawling around on all fours. She’s gotten efficient enough that she will crawl on all fours more often now than army-crawling.

And the favorite activity of the month is…peek-a-boo. Abby is the perfect age to play peek-a-boo and it keeps her (and everyone else) giggling. Sometimes she gets her hands over her face, sometimes she misses. It’s adorable either way.

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She’s a little mischief-maker, crawling all over the house when she knows I can’t really chase her. Abby will keep herself entertained for hours. Her latest favorite toy is a small metal pot and a small ladle. She’ll stir that pot for the longest time without getting bored. She also knows some things that are off-limits, and if she ever catches a plastic grocery bag on the floor or the bathroom door open, she’ll scurry over to it faster than you can believe.

But for all her adorable mischief, Abby is still very sweet. When I snuggle up on the couch to read to Lydia, Abby crawls right over, pulls herself up to a stand, and starts yelling at me to pick her up too. She has no interest in using real words or sign language, her different grunts and yells all have their meaning and do well enough at getting her what she wants.

Is Abby ready to be a big sister yet? Well, I’d love it if she was walking first, but I think she’s going to be very excited about the new baby whenever s/he comes. It’s hard to believe that once all this snow melts we’ll all be able to go for walks to the park with Baby wrapped up in my Moby, and Lydia and Abby walking alongside. We can hardly wait.

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Lydyisms

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Our Munchkin is, as we often say in our household, quite the character. She’s always coming up with funny things to do or say, usually unintentional, that keep us laughing. Her best moments we have dubbed, “Lydyisms”, and for the sake of never forgetting these cute memories, I wanted to share a few.

One afternoon we were driving home from church in some bad winter weather. Lydia wanted Dan to tell her a “Billy story”, stories that he makes up on the spot about a little boy named Billy…
Lydia (knowing Dan didn’t really want to tell a story right then): Daddy, can you tell me a really short Billy story?
Dan: Once upon a time it was snowing really hard and Billy went outside to play in the snow. The end.
Lydia: No! You didn’t read all the words!

After yet another battle trying to get Lydia to “go potty” cheerfully…
Lydia: I don’t like having to go potty every day!

While trying to get Lydia to do something she desperately didn’t want to do (like going potty cheerfully and by herself)…
Justine (quietly over Lydia’s crying): It’s the end of the world…
Lydia: I DON’T WANT IT TO BE THE END OF THE WORLD! (and breaks down crying harder)

Often while Lydia lies in bed waiting to fall asleep at night…
Lydia: MOM! Can I rest-with-my-eyes-open-and-suck-my-thumb-and-hold-my-hair-for-a-little-while-but-not-too-long? Is that ok?

While laying with me in bed one morning as I read my Bible Lydia noticed a fly and hid under the covers. A few minutes later I was getting ready for the day and Dan walked into the room and looked around…
Dan: Where’s Lydia?
Lydia (from under the covers): THERE’S A BEE!