Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My (Silly) Boys this Fall

I just had to share these pictures.  I live with some silly people! 

Here's the littlest geography buff.  Ok, well he still thinks all the States are Georgia, but hey...gotta start somewhere.  Andrew is very possessive about this placemat.  It's "his". :)  He likes to point at the States as he eats and ask what they are.  He usually goes by the color groupings.
 Then there's this character.  Andrew loves to make people laugh.  He's the class clown in training.
 Caleb and Joshua went on their first camping trip this fall with Philip.  They went with other local homeschool dads and sons.  They had a blast.  Here Joshua is trying to inhale the bugs, I think. :)
 Doesn't Andrew look like the poster child for a farm calendar here?  I love this picture!  We were at Frying Pan Park one day in September.  We had tried to go to Cox Farms, but they were closed for "rain".  Can't you tell by looking at the sky?  Shortly after this, Andrew got stung on the nose by an unidentified bug.  It caused his eye to swell and get red.  Poor guy. :(  It was a fun day, though.
 We did make it to Cox Farms later that week.  Here's Joshua with his super long neck.  This was in the corn maze...the boys LOVED it!
 The pumpkin bins at Cox Farms.  We had so much fun there that we actually went back a few weeks later, thanks to the kindness of a friend who gave us some free tickets.
 The boys dressed up for Halloween for the first time this year.  We decided to do it because we were at my parents' house in NC on our way back from the Tybee wedding.  We put together some fun costumes for the boys and hit the streets.  Neither of the boys really had any idea what trick or treating was about and Joshua's comment after about 30 minutes was "this is way more fun than I thought it would be!"  :)  It was fun, but I told them we may or may not go again any time soon.  But aren't they cute? :)  Andrew insisted on having a charcoal mustache, just like Caleb.
 Caleb started taking piano lessons this fall.  Joshua has been learning alongside him.  They both are doing great.  Andrew also like to have piano practice.  He always points out that he "waits his turn" (which he does).  He then bangs around some, and claps his hands counting "1, 2, 3, 4.  1, 2, 3, 4" to count out the rhythm.  It's hilarious.  I am loving having little musicians in the house! 
 The other resident silly person.  Joshua loves a good joke.  These glasses were a party favor last year, but just got discovered by the boys recently.  Joshua sure loves to wear them!
These are fun days around our house.  I am loving the ages of all the boys.  It's fun to see them learn and grow in their own ways.  It's also been neat to watch the camaraderie continue to develop between the boys.  They are such great friends.

Serving as a Family

This Fall we have had 4 opportunities to serve together as a family.  It's been wonderful to be able to get out into the community and do something that matters, and to have the boys right there with us.  Everything we did was fun for us as well, which made it even better.

First, we went Apple Gleaning at a local orchard with a few other families from church.  We collected well over 1000 pounds of apples in about an hour.  We participated with this last year as well, and it is a fun way to serve!  The apples were then taken to local shelters to be given to those in need.

Next, our family and two other families from church made dinner and served it to the residents at the homeless shelter in Leesburg.  I was a little nervous about doing this, but it was so EASY!  We were blessed to be able to eat with some of them as well, and share a little conversation.  We also received a tour of the facility.  The staff and volunteers there have such a heart to serve.  I would really like to do this again sometime.

Third, the older boys and I participated with some other families from church in "reverse trick or treating".  We went to a local nursing home and put together treat bags for the residents.  Then we went through the halls encouraging people to come to the cafeteria where we had all gathered to have their dinner and hear the kids sing.  Some of the residents are unable to leave their rooms, so I asked the staff how to find a few of them that didn't usually have visitors and we went to see them.  It was a little difficult for the boys to engage because many of the residents there were quite ill, but I know it brought a smile to the faces of the people we interacted with.

Lastly, Philip and the older boys went with some of the singles from church and members of the Nicaragua team to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the residents at another local home.  I made pumpkin pies for that evening, but Andrew and I were too worn out that day to go with the boys.  So, I sent the pies in my place. :)  The boys all really enjoyed themselves that night and were able to interact with several ladies.

We hope that the church will continue planning service events that are family friendly.  They have been a blessing to us and we hope have helped open the eyes of our boys to see how truly blessed we are, and how we have a responsibility to share what we have with others.

Thanksgiving Adventures

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had this year!  My parents and Deborah came to visit for 4.5 days and we had a great time together!  Probably the most memorable will be the woods adventures shared by my dad and the older boys.  We live only about a mile from the Potomac River, and between us and the river is woods.  Philip and the boys occasionally walk to the river, but they have always taken the same path and so we were unaware there were several other trails through the woods.  Caleb, Joshua and my dad thoroughly explored the trails.  They found the biggest leaves we've ever seen (about 10" across), an albino squirrel, a squirrel tree home.  They forded creeks through the water, and crossed over 30 feet of water on a board.  What a grand time.  The best part was they couldn't really get lost, with the river on one side and neighborhoods on the other, so they explored without fear.  A young boy's dream. :)

In addition to all the woods adventures, both boys stepped up a level in bike riding.  Caleb finally learned how to ride without training wheels.  He had been really hesitant to try until just recently, so I asked my dad to work with him and Caleb was immediately able to ride the 2-wheeler.  Yeay!  Joshua had been riding a way too small tricycle and was afraid to move to the bike with training wheels, but he is now riding away on that.  How wonderful.  These two can now really zoom around the cul-de-sac!

We also took a trip downtown to the American History Museum and National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum on Saturday (sans Deborah, Andrew and Joshua).  Caleb really enjoyed the portrait museum.  We weren't sure how he would do there, but he said "I don't know why everyone kept saying I would be bored.  I like everything I'm seeing!"  His favorites were the unfinished picture of Woodrow Wilson and the license plates that write out the Preamble to the Constitution. 

Our last fun for Thanksgiving weekend was putting the Christmas tree up.  Caleb and Joshua put on all the ornaments this year!

Caleb Turns 7!

Caleb turned 7 about 2 weeks ago.  I had been anticipating his birthday for so long that it felt like he should be turning 8. :)  Anyway, it was a fun celebration.  Caleb asked only a placemat of the Canadian provinces for his birthday.  Happily, I was able to find one.  As well as placemats of Europe and Africa (to complement the one we have of the whole world).  Obviously, Caleb and Joshua are still in love geography.  It's a love we are happy to encourage.  They can identify, by continent, all the countries in the world (or at least 95%), and probably point out at 75-80% on a non-labeled map.  They've got me beat, for sure. :)

Caleb has grown up a lot in the last year.  He's almost tall enough to turn on the kitchen sink without a stool, he learned how to pound meat and cut vegetables.  He's a huge help with carrying things around the house and putting things away.  He loves to read and listen to books on CD.  He loves to learn, which makes teaching him easy.  He and Joshua memorized their first chapter of the Bible in the last month or so: Psalm 1.

He's a great son and we are happy to see that he is learning to become more loving and a better servant to those around him.  We love you, Caleb!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Family Wedding

This past weekend my sister Liz got married to a great guy, Mike.   We were all thrilled to be there to support them.  They held their wedding on Tybee Island, in Georgia.  The weather was unbelievable and gorgeous the whole time we were there, but especially on the wedding day.  Their wedding was very casual, and it was perfect.  Here are the bride and groom!

The siblings, spouses, Grandma and Mom and Dad.

 The three sisters!

This is my favorite picture from the wedding, at least for capturing the feel of the day.

This is such a great picture!  

We stayed at an amazing house practically right on the beach.  One of the best things was this huge dining table that could seat 12.  We filled it up several times!

 Philip and I on the top level of the beach house.  Nice view, huh?

Here's Caleb and Joshua enjoying the morning sunrise over the Atlantic.  We followed this up by a walk on the beach.  We found beached horsehoe crabs, jellyfish, and of course, lots of shells.

My brother Tim was the only sibling not able to attend the wedding...in person.  He is studying abroad in Egypt this Fall.  However, thanks to my brother Dan and his wife Angela, he was able to watch the wedding live via Skype.  He even gave a toast at the reception!  And dressed appropriately by wearing wearing a dress shift and tie on the top...and a bathing suit on the bottom.  :)

Here's D&A getting the technology set up.

And here's Tim "eating dinner" with us on Friday night.  Isn't technology amazing?

We celebrated Mom and Dad's 40th anniversary while we were all together.  Their actual anniversary is in about 3 weeks!

I put together a 500+ picture slideshow that spanned from 1945-present.  It was so neat to see life happen sequentially!

The boys got to spend time on the beach every day we were there.  Silly mommy didn't really think it would be that warm down there, so the boys wore either their jeans...or just underwear. :)  Oh well, there weren't many people down there to see it. 

My Grandma and Aunt came for dinner on Thursday.  It was fun to spend time with them!

Alex and Andrew are only about 4 months apart.  They enjoyed coloring together...or just ignoring each other, as 2 year olds sometimes do.

Will is the other California cousin.  Here he is posing with Caleb.

It was truly a great weekend.  I don't think I would change a thing.  Congrats Mike and Liz!  We wish you a life time of love and happiness!