Friday, October 31, 2014

Larkyn 4 months

 *Photo Credit: Angela Ross Photography*

The time is seriously flying!  I haven't sat down to blog in over a week!!  I'll try and catch up at some point, but for now I will just write about my little Larkyn.  She is 4 months tomorrow!  Woah!  I am seriously soooo in love with this little girl. Her smile melts my heart.

Things I love about Larkyn:

Her dimple
Her eyes
Her crazy hair
Her strong neck
Her "always" smile
The way she sucks her thumb
Her cuddles for Daddy

Her cuddles for Mommy
The way she puts up with her silly siblings who like to do silly things to her
Her go-with-the-flow personality
The way she intently watches her siblings at swimming lessons...or anywhere else...
Her joy
and most of all - her smile!!!  *Photo Credit: Angela Ross Photography*
This month Larkyn is just on the brink of giggling as well as experimenting with her voice (just as of the last week).  Here is a little video of what I was able to catch -

She is doing great in tummy time, and will most often role over right away on her back (due to her heavy head!)  However when she does manage to stay on her tummy she is quite focused in watching her siblings play as in this video.

Larkyn is still a champ sleeper, sleeping a full stretch from 8pm to 7am or 8 am every night.  This month she started crib naps (transitioned from swing naps or bjorn naps) and is doing great.  She will fall asleep on her own in her crib once at 9am and sleep for 30-60 minutes, once at 1 or 2 pm and sleep most of the afternoon (sometimes waking to feed once in the middle), and then one more short crib nap around 6:30pm.  We are often out and about for some mid-morning activity/swimming lesson/BSF/playdate/errand/etc between 10am and 1pm so she usually does a mid-day short nap in the bjorn or carseat.  She eats around 8am, 11am, 1pm, 5pm, and 8pm.  She really never cries unless she is hungry or tired, and even then will stop crying almost immediately when picked up.  She is such an easy, sweet, smiley, cuddly, perfect-in-every-way baby that is growing up way too fast ;).   I love you so much Larkyn Emery!!! Each day you are more fun and I am SO thankful God chose to give YOU to US!  Happy 4 months, baby girl!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy 1st SPIRITUAL Birthday, Summer!

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."  

The Bible teaches that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23),  and that the only one who can save us from eternal separation from God is Jesus (John 3:16).  Anyone who believes that Jesus' death on the cross paid the penalty for their sin, is saved from their sin (Acts 16:31) through Christs' shed blood on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

Last year, on October 19th, Summer made a decision all on her own that she was a sinner and that she believed Jesus could and wanted Jesus to take away all her sins.  (Read about it here!)

As I look back through blog post after blog post of how I would describe Summer before October 19th I find excerpts like:
  •  She is also a little girl, who, when she is first given a line/boundary not to cross, will put one toe over just to see what happens.
  • There are definitely days where I just don't know what to do next to encourage our little spark-plug to be the obedient and caring person I know God wants her to be 
  • Paul and I ran up against a wall this weekend, where defiance seemed to be rampant, and time after time Summer would disobey and enjoy seeing what negative consequences would ensue

 When I look back through blog posts after October 19th I find excerpts like:
  • Her whole heart attitude changed when she misbehaved from caring about the punishment, to caring that she did something wrong. 
  • In these last 6 months, Summer has truly grown from a challenging, spirited, little kid into an amazingly mature little preschooler.
  • You have grown up SO much this past year, from being a little girl who needed lots of timeouts and correction, to a little lady who makes right choices because the Holy Spirit lives inside you and guides your paths (WHAT an answer to prayer!).  Your heart truly feels sad when you do wrong and you only need your wrongdoing to be gently pointed out for you to genuinely repent (often with tears) and change your ways.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit is now living inside of Summer and has COMPLETELY changed her heart.  I am so incredibly grateful to the Lord for answering our prayer, and that Summer is following God!  She truly was born again with a new heart on October 19th, 2013, and for that reason we CELEBRATE!

This is a video of a little interview with Summer where she describes her spiritual birthday:

Any of you who know Summer know that she is a VERY outgoing little girl who will chat your ear off :).  Well, God is already using her outgoing personality to share God's word with others.  Multiple times she has shared her faith including with the older neighbors on both sides of our house - running over to tell them the Good News when she sees them on a walk or working in the yard.  She has told her good friends as well as new friends at the park whom she just met about Jesus and invites them to church.  She has even talked to a lady in the grocery store parking lot to tell her about Jesus after the lady struck up a conversation with us about my kiddos!  I just watch to see what will happen :).  She has never met a person yet who has negatively responded to the message, and I love that she knows no anxiety or "political correctness"  like many of us adults have to work so hard to overcome when sharing our faith.  She makes it look easy :).

This weekend we celebrated Summer's first spiritual birthday - one year since she was "born again". Summer received a new Bible and she has already looked through the entire Bible and we have read quite a bit together too!

 Also in celebration she got to pick what we would have for dinner (cheese tortellini)...

and a special birthday dessert:

I am so proud of you Summer and continue to pray daily that you would grow closer to God and in obedience to his Word, sharing the Good News with those you meet!  I love your conscience that makes your "heart sad" when you do something cry even without us even punishing you.  I absolutely love how you go to God right away for forgiveness and help.  You have such a tender and teachable heart and God can use that so much!  We love you!

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23

Raking Leaves

This morning the kids and I tackled the first 5% of our yearly yard raking.  Probably 95% of the leaves are still on our three giant trees, but even so, the yard was covered!  While Paul used his awesome muscle power to help a friend from church move,

my three cuties and I had breakfast
made a pretty impressive block tower,

and then headed outside for some fun (and work!) in the leaves while Larkyn had her morning nap.

Summer was seriously an AWESOME helper and not only raked, but also helped me bag a lot of the leaves.

Colton enjoyed raking...though sometimes he raked the leaves OUT of the pile ;)

Once we got a big enough pile to jump in the kids lost interest in the raking and had much more fun sliding into the leaves,

burying each other,

and having leaf fights (seriously their giggling was contagious as this next video shows)

They also loved jumping in the piles...I lost count how many times they jumped in they had so much fun!


haha - love this action shot of Colton chasing Summer to throw leaves at her...

After Larkyn woke up and we filled her tummy, she was ready to come out too!
Larkyn sat in the carsseat and we moved her from leaf pile to leaf pile as Summer and I bagged up our piles.

Just for fun, here is a picture of Larkyn and Summer - both sitting in the same bumbo in a pile of leaves - both 3 months - both with their puppy Tucker :) ...

Larkyn - 3 months
Summer - 3 months

Friday, October 17, 2014

School: Candy Math and Verse of the Week

Preschool and Tot School this week was just me adding some additional instruction on top of their current activities and interests.  One night while I was making dinner the kids pulled out their markers and paper for some art (Summer loves to wear her beret when she does art to be like Bridget from the book Bridget's Beret).

Summer has been very interested in addition lately.

On this paper she did 3+3=6 and 4+4=8 on her fingers.  When she did 10+10=20 she used her fingers and toes.  When she did 11+11=22 she used dots on her paper in two groups of 11 and then counted them all by herself.  I was pretty impressed so I snapped a pictures.  (fyi her "2"'s look like "5"'s).

After she did 11+11 = 22 on her last paper, she started getting really curious about adding big numbers.  She came up with all the problems, but we used teamwork to find the answers - she added the first numbers (i.e. 4+4 for 400 + 400) and then I showed her how to put the extra two zeros.).  Again, her "2"'s look like "5"'s :)
Colton drew a pretty awesome spider :)
One chilly morning Summer was again working on math, all on her own while I was feeding Larkyn...

I love the circles on the sides of the paper because it shows how she thinks about a problem...for example to solve "44+44" she drew 4 circles on one side and 4 circles on the other and then counted them all to find "8" twice for the sum of "88".

Colton entertained himself by coloring and cutting with scissors, however after about 15 minutes he just needed to MOVE!  So after I finished feeding Larkyn I made up a game involving movement, candy, and numbers to help get some of his excess energy out...and it worked :)
I set up plates with numbers on one side of the room and had the large bag of candy (that we have collected from all the parades we have gone to all summer!) on the other side of the room.  His job was to run back and forth and get the right number of pieces of candy on each plate.  Click here for a video of him in action.

Video of Colton:

 Summer wanted to join in the fun of "candy running" so we made up an addition game for her where all of the answers were the numbers 1 through 5.  She completed the problem and then ran to put her candy on the correct plate.  Here is a video:

I had told Colton we could do a candy graph, and he was pretty excited about it (anything that involves candy is exciting at our house).  I had some leftover jelly beans from Easter and they proved to be the perfect thing for a graph.  First he color coded the key as shown in this video...

 Then he sorted the jelly beans by color and put them in their right spots on the graph as shown in this video:

He really focused throughout the whole activity and didn't need any help from me once he got going!  After he finished we attempted to "read" the graph in two year old language.

Here is a video...

Colton's Jelly Bean Graph

While Colton worked on his jelly bean graph, Summer worked on a sight word graph.

She searched in an article for certain sight words and highlighted them in coordinating colors.

The corner of the paper is cut off because she found her name as she was searching for sight words and cut it out to tape into her notebook :)

She then graphed how many times she found each sight word.  This activity has proved to be AMAZING and she can now recognize and spell (all on her own) the words "to" and "and" anytime she is writing or reading.

I'll end with posting our verse of the week from last week:  Acts 5:29 "We must obey God rather than men." Summer and I had great conversations this week about how friends may ask her to do something she knows is wrong, but she must obey God and her parents rather than her friends. I love these conversations with her and want to get as much training in righteousness in before she goes off to school without me someday!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best. Birthday. Ever.

I turned 30 yesterday!  While it is definitely the first "old-age" milestone, I truly have no other feelings besides "blessed".  As I told Paul when we were discussing it, I have done everything I would have hoped to have done in my first 30 years of life - I am thrilled to have an amazing husband and 3 beautiful children (oh and a dog too ;) ).  I couldn't be happier!

This birthday was the BEST EVER.  The celebrating started last weekend on Saturday night when Paul planned the best celebration EVER!   He knows me so well!  He planned to have us go rock climbing with friends at a place in Minneapolis called Vertical Endeavors that has tons of huge walls to climb and so much more.  I have always loved climbing, but really don't have much opportunity, and this place is amazing!  A bunch of our friends also have October birthdays, so we combined it all into one big event and then went out for dinner/dessert after. 

There are more walls than I could count just BEGGING to be climbed!!!!

After the first few climbs, my muscles started really feeling it and it was so challenging!

It was so fun to be able to climb next to someone...

Seriously one of the most fun things I have EVER done!

I told Paul I REALLY want to go back on our next date night out!!!
It was so fun to go with friends and cheer them on/watch them!

Afterwards we ate at a cute Minneapolis place called The Copper Hen

 A huge thank you to Paul for planning such a fun event (seriously, Paul, the most fun thing EVER!), and to my parents for taking awesome care of the kiddos while we were out, and to Tim for taking these pictures!


Paul and I got a date night for my birthday too (I am so spoiled!!), on the 14th.  My parents babysat again while Paul and I went to The Chatterbox Pub, a SUPER fun restaurant that not only has an awesome atmosphere and great food, but also tons of board games and other types of games you can play.  I TRULY enjoyed every bite of my meal with no kid-interruptions, awesome conversation, and relaxed atmosphere with my best friend :).  We had a rousing 3 games of yahtzee and some pretty amazing hot apple crisp (a favorite of mine).

Perfect birthday date

The kids knew about my "birthday party" and "birthday date", but were most excited about my "actual birthday" - they get pretty excited about birthdays and literally not a week goes by that they don't "play" pretend birthday for some stuffed animal or person!  They were talking about my breakfast in bed, my birthday dessert, and how they would decorate my door for literally weeks before!!!  My day started with this beautiful door...

Love this - So much excitement, tape, and little hands went into this spectacular door's design :)
Since my birthday (the 15th) was on a Wednesday, we had BSF that morning. After BSF we went to Lebanon Hills for some hiking (my birthday activity of choice!)

It was the most perfect weather outside for crunching leaves, walking trails, and looking at the gorgeous fall color

love love love this.

This setting + my 3 favorite kiddos = happiest Momma EVER!

Pictures don't do it justice.  Seriously gorgeous.
My little hikers
The kids were so sweet and would pose for pictures for me "because it was my birthday" and I like that sort of thing! ;)
I think the highlight for the kids was this marshy swamp covered in green slime.  The kids loved throwing rocks into it and watching the slime separate and then come back together.  We collected rocks on our walk and then threw them in this swamp on the way back!
I got some special one-on-one time with my kiddos in the afternoon....

playing cars

looking at these adorable faces

and reading library books (oh btw, in case you are wondering, Summer did NOT get glasses, she just loves to wear this pair of frames as part of her love for accessories!)
 The day ended perfectly with really awesome family time - one of our favorite things to do as a family is cook dinner over the bonfire, hangout, and roast S'mores.

The kids get SO SO SO excited about these family nights - it makes me so happy just watching them!

It TRULY doesn't get better than THIS.

 I felt so loved by all the cards, special deliveries, thoughtful gifts, words of encouragement, and so much more.  Thank you SO much to everyone who made this birthday the BEST ONE YET!