Yesterday was a pretty fun day for our family. In the morning Dennis suddenly decided that we should go and check out a conservation area nearby. So we packed up the girls and the bug spray and headed out. We ended up in what we thought was the conservation area but turned out to be just a fire access road that bordered the real conservation area. Oh well, it was fun anyway. We walked a trail and on the road. Winnie does better on the road when she’s “hiking” since her feet are the size of postage stamps.

We were treated to all sorts of sights in God’s green creation. We saw four snakes (or maybe just one really fast guy?), lots of cool bugs including a shiny blueblack beetle that we trapped for 2 minutes in Squeaky’s habitat until he Houdini-ed out of there, and many swarms of blackflies that apparently are just swarming and not biting yet.
Do you see the guy in this picture?

Then last night we went to our last class social held at a dam close to here. It was a gorgeous evening with a perfect breeze and warm sun. We all had a picnic supper together and talked while the kids played. Then we headed over to a local ice cream shop for cones.


Night time adventures, coloring and going to heaven

I thought it was about time for a kid post.

I’d like to tell you about last night. This past weekend was the time change and all. Naturally, Dennis and I managed to stay up way too late since our bodies kept telling us it was an hour earlier and we had some homework to finish up for Monday.

We finally got to bed after 1am only to be awakened rudely at 4:35am by the sounds of loud giggling, whooping, jumping and other carryings-on. I sleep with ear plugs in and it still woke me up. Turned out, for some reason the two older girls awoke in the middle of the night and decided that it was a good time to play. That was a first. We gave them firm instructions and hauled Squeaky’s bed into a different room to thwart any return to their previous activity. One of the first things Squeaky said to me this morning was, “Mommy, I’m so tired!” Hmm, I wonder why?

In other news, Squeaky is really taking off with her reading. She plowed through the whole set of these phonics books which I really enjoyed. They all have simple sentence construction, a slow progression of letter sounds and blends and a great plot line. She loved them and loved getting stickers for reading them on her own.

Button has been immersed in her imagination lately. She and Squeaky love playing princess, super-guy finds lost princesses, and their latest, “Bring Grandpa the medicine in Heaven and say hi to Jesus.” They also came running up to me at lunch time today and told me that they had made a machine which “died everybody so they could go to be with Jesus.” They were very excited about this. I’m not sure what to think. I asked them if they were killing people (which is a definite no) and they were emphatic that it was not killing them, just dying them.

Little Winnie is learning to color. She can color in the the lines (sort-of) now. I’m wondering if she’s left handed. I did a little experiment last night- I put a crayon in her right hand and she colored with that hand. Then I put it in her left hand and she colored with that hand. Then I put the crayon on the paper and told her to pick it up and color. She consistently uses her left hand when she has a choice.

Another favorite game of late is the sandwich game. This is where all the couch and chair cushions are pulled off and piled with people in between. Then Mommy is supposed to come and eat them. The orange cushion is the cheese, and I imagine that the other cushions are moldy bread or something.

Here’s the little lefty- maybe?

She gets Baby to draw with his left hand, too.

Easton Christmas

We are back in classes from our Christmas break. This week we have a module on “health and wellness” and will be learning lots of different things about nutrition, how to diagnose diseases and illnesses common on the mission field and their treatments. Tomorrow we get to practice giving each other injections. Should be lots of fun… hee, hee…

Our Christmas break was so great. We travelled all over the place and are so grateful that the Lord kept our van together for the entire time!

We got together with the Easton side first.

Here is how the family started out:

And here is what it has become!

The cousins had a lot of fun together.

My sister-in-law did an amazing job of planning the whole time, right down to several craft activities for the kids which they all enjoyed immensely. Did you know you can mix epsom salt with water to create a paste? You can paint that paste over construction paper or magazine cut-out glued onto a card. It will dry into a sparkly snowy looking layer on top of the paper. A really simple, fairly mess-less activity! Another thing that I particularly enjoyed was making snowflake decorations with pipe cleaners and beads. I think the craft was for the kids but it held my attention for a good 45 minutes. 🙂

More Christmassy stories to come.

Christmas is Today

Well, at least it is at our house! First, the girls opened their stockings. We had a breakfast casserole, hash browns, cinnamon rolls and orange juice for breakfast. Then we put the second to last ornament up on our Jesse tree (the last one was placed after lunch today). The girls had a busy morning exploring all their gifts, which were mostly books and book-ish type things.

Yesterday I was trying to get them all excited about Christmas tomorrow.

I asked, “What is tomorrow?!”

“Christmas,” they squealed, “Christmas is tomorrow!”

“And what do we celebrate at Christmas?”

“Jesus was born!” they chirped on cue.

Then Lael piped up, “Mommy, I’m just so glad I like presents.”

At least she’s honest.

Last night as our special Christmas Eve thing to do, we let the girls decorate two cut out cookies and eat them. I have a confession to make. I don’t think I know how to make icing out of icing sugar. I poured what looked like close to a cup of icing sugar in the mixing bowl. Then I added, oh, maybe somewhere between 1/8th and 1/4th of a cup of milk. Then I got real lazy and just scooped some fake-o margarine out of the tub and plopped it into the bowl too. Then I whisked it for awhile. It looked weird, so I stuck it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I whisked some more. Finally I just took the bowl over to the table where the girls were waiting patiently (!) and smeared some on each cookie. It was more like a glaze. It dripped everywhere, but it succeeded in holding on the sprinkles which is all the girls cared about.

The other night the girls were pretending to have tea. What I love about this picture is Button’s happy grin and Winnie’s expression.

And Squeaky’s lastest drawing, since I suddenly find myself adding all sorts of miscellaneous news items to this blog.

Lastly, I cut Button’s hair for the first time in her life. I mean, I’ve cut her bangs before, but she really needed a real haircut. In Jungle Camp this summer we were taught how to cut girls hair. So I thought I was all expert and stuff after doing Squeak’s. Well, I hacked and hacked on Button’s poor hair. She was really patient if not a tad too wiggly. Finally I left it, only to pick up the scissors once more the next morning to give it another go. I think I’m finally satisfied with the results, but I’m not exactly thrilled. I think perhaps I’ll keep my personal haircutting skills for when they are really needed, like when we are out in the middle of the jungle somewhere someday.

She forgave me, now the question is if everyone else will too.

Update from the North

Today we started a new module called Training Practicum. I think this is going to be interesting. Dennis and I are going to be meeting with a couple who speaks Hungarian in order to practice some language acquisition techniques we’ve learned. We just found out today what language we will have; this had been a source of great excitement and anticipation in our class.

We finished off our first semester installment of our Structures of Communication class (aka Grammar). Perhaps you noticed that there were fewer posts on here and maybe even a couple that hinted at some frustration on my part….? That class was challenging- learning how to sort through languages to find patterns and predictabilities. The fascinating thing is to remember what happened at the tower of Babel in Genesis 6. God Himself confused these languages, and yet today we still find that no language on earth is completely without order or pattern. Each language in the world follows God-instituted rules of grammar. Amazing.
Most of the course was learning new concepts and then applying that knowledge to a real language. We had real sentences, phrases, words and morphemes from other languages to identify, plug into charts, and in some cases translate. As you can probably imagine, this was fun and exhausting all at the same time, especially for a brain that has been relatively academically dormant for the past 7 years.
In other news:
The weather here this past week has been weird. Mainly it has been cold and precipatory, but we’ve had everything from rain, to snow, to thunderstorms and rainbows. I know, in October!

We’ve been healthy for the past week after a 1.5 week encounter with Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease. Yippee!
While the kids were still recovering we went for a picnic at the Conservation Area.
Button has been mainly interested in bugging her sisters lately, although she still remains as loveable and huggable as ever.

Squeaky has mainly been interested in perfecting her dancing moves and doing puzzles recently.

And little Winnie has now graduated to the ‘big girl’ table with a spot between Mommy and Squeaky. She enjoys drinking from a big girl cup and often will request an adult sized spoon as well. She isn’t talking a whole lot. Mostly she just says a lot of mumbo-jumbo using prefixes and suffixes of “Daddy” and “Mommy”. She can tell us what a doggy says, what a lion says, sign and say please when she wants to, but mostly she’s just a poor intellectually neglected third born who has to figure everything out on her own. She is really good at shape sorting- she can do the 18 shape sorter with ease! What really cracks me up (and scares me a little) is remember what Squeaky could do at this same age! Yikes. No wonder my oldest brother is brilliant and why I’m stuck wondering, “What exactly is a recession…?” (one of my questions this week). I’m just kidding biggest Bro, I love you and am glad you’re brilliant.

Gritty Grammar and the Green Going

A new crash course has begun- Structures of Communication! Basically, that is a fancy way of saying grammar. On the first morning of this module one of our teachers spent a while acknowledging and discussing our preconceived notions about grammar. Many people dislike it. A few love it. I guess a few would be ambivalent.

Grammar mechanics work in a wonderfully mathematical way. Picking apart words, phrases and sentences and categorizing them is the fun part that appeals to the organized side of my brain. Figuring out the correct and specific term for every single department is not quite as fun, perhaps because it is a little more subjective.

We are also having afternoon classes, which is a first for us.

Unfortuately, we’ve had some sickness that has kept us from both going to class. On one hand, it is great to be able to spend that time with the girls. It is easier to be more consistent when we are around them all the time. On the other hand, being at home with the girls means that one of us is out of class. Dennis and I try to take turns going to class. This makes for a holey education.

Thanksgiving weekend was fun. We went to see Dennis’ parents along with the rest of his family (minus one niece who couldn’t be there with us… 😦 ). We had beautiful weather all weekend long and did some fun outdoorsy things like going to a mine and taking a few walks in the autumn leaves.

Bad Venues/Great Company

Matthew and Sarah (my brother and sister-in-law) from Nebraska were up in Canada last month for the funeral of their precious niece, Elysha Brooks. We were able to enjoy an afternoon together in Markham the week after the funeral.

Not really knowing the area well left us searching for a park or playground of some sort. Equipped with a map, we travelled around in caravan looking for a playground with some shade. We finally settled for a playground in the sun… but the kids soon got too hot and we moved to another park for a picnic supper. This one was a conservation area and didn’t have a playground. The kids ran around blissfully in the grassy fields while we parents continually pointed out all the goosepoop they were stepping on and around. It was totally gross, but with nine kids underfoot it isn’t too easy to just hop in the van and move somewhere else.

Uncle Dennis climbed high up an evergreen tree and salvaged a kite that had entangled itself there. He immediately was hailed a hero and the kids happily took turns running around with the kite flying out behind them.

The rest of us had a nice visit on a beautiful afternoon. 🙂 Thanks Matt and Sarah for taking the time to get together with us!