(Warning: this post got out of hand. It's waaayyyy too long for probably anyone but the grandparents. The pics are cute if you just want to scroll through for a quick look!)
I feel like we are, just like every family, on this wild-paced road trip through the land of Childhood, and our trail is fast vanishing behind us. The territory of babyhood is nearly gone. Soon our little ones will all be walking, talking and finishing high school.... At least, it feels like we're going about that fast some days. It's crazy the speed we've picked up to now, and our family hasn't yet finished our fifth years with kiddos.
So here's a little journal entry on recent events on our road trip... this grand privilege of parenting these four. We are so grateful to the Lord for their precious lives, grateful to be mother and father to them together, so grateful for these sweet pieces of our journey as family...
Vivian Hope"Vivi Treasure". She has the sweetest little pose .... crawls over to a sibling and then sits beside them with her toes pointed back and her knees in front of her, then she bounces up on her knees when she's glad and my heart melts with her bright eyes smiling.
And since Lego battles are a regular at our house, Vivi has needed to solidify her role in this family play. Daddy recently named her "Giant Baby" for her skill at swooping onto the battle field and leveling an entire army with one drooly move. Her siblings all love this name for her, although her destruction on the battlefield is much less loved. Vivi is just delighted with her rise to fame in this important part of our family life.
She's launched into communication too... I think she really means her little lip smacks like I mean the kisses that I give her all day long and I love how she "kisses" me by her own initiative too... You leave me awestruck darling.
And during meal times, sometimes John or May have instigated a "on three, everyone do Vivi hands, ok!?" or "Let's all say KhhhhKhhh for Vivi, ok?". Vivi lights up when she see that we're all talking with her or waving our hands around like she loves to do. (This has been her signature move and I remember talking about it with Isaiah on the day that she was born, how Vivi waves her hands around like a Uyghur dancer..... such a little beauty!)
She Lit Up last week when we had guests with us for dinner. She was really showing off. All the big kids vying for their audiences applause and Vivi too pulled out all her stuff for them.... smacking her lips, blowing spit bubbles, and her latest (picked up from John) a goofy puckered lips face that is quickly followed by big laughs.
She's got a fantastic sense of humor and, (we just LOVE this age!) her giggly laugh for nibbly tickles.... a true foretaste of heaven. She also goes by nicknames like "Vivi Heavens Treasure Love, Snuggly Cuddly Darling" but I'm sure I should skip going into all the names we've ever called our kids.... it could get simply way. too. embarrassing.
John TimothyStill a cuddler, to the exquisite delight of his mom and dad. He makes fantastic funny faces and sang himself to sleep tonight with his own version of the Christmas classic: "Wo.....wo....wooo.....ria," repeated to infinity...
As for potty skills, he's still fairly leaky, but he has started to very proudly and stubbornly pull his own undies up sometimes. My favorite thing for him recently is that he's begun to pray aloud. He's confident and content with usually one sentence like "Dear God, thank you for this house" or "Dear God, thank you that our friends come here" and it always ends like this: "and say, AAAA men."
He's slow... and it's becoming an issue we're needing to seriously work on! Buddy, it doesn't need to take 30 min to put on shoes!
He loves to play boat or car between my feet... especially while I'm nursing Vivi. Often, he won't let me put my legs up because it ruins his car.
Matt nicknamed him Verbal.... and sometimes it gets completely out of control how he loves words, even still being a bit limited with his vocab. At the breakfast table recently he found a sentence that just struck him silly: Kill the dragon on my bike! (Said like a soldier marching to battle, sword raised and pointed toward the door.) After he repeated this mantra at least 79 times..... his words slipped and became a whole new sentence. He and Marian share the love for this battle cry: they pat their bellies and howl like pirates laughing as they raise their swords and shout: Peel the dragon, eat my bike!
There was a time in Nov and Dec that just can't be forgotten either... Matt and I started joking about John as our "Goodnight Gorrilla." Almost every night for this stretch he woke up around 3 or 4 AM, came silently into our room and stared at me. I woke up with eyes laid on me so heavily and then all I needed to do was to get up and take his hand and walk him back to bed, exactly like the zookeeper's wife walked the gorilla back to bed in the kids' book. It was cute to have such a funny name for this sweet, sleepy face on our boy, but I'm glad that stage is done.
He really loves to take care of and play tenderly with Vivi and he's getting a bit too brave with some stunt crazy riding on his "big" bike. And he's also the most obsessed with "Mama, see me.... (do whatever it is)". Another favorite of John's is to repeat what someone has just said and then ask for confirmation: "this is yummy, right Isaiah?" or "we don't like bananas, right Mayin?" He's the champion of all Good-byers.
"May Love". She makes the best mush in town (Vivi's food: cereal, veggie puree, formula powder, water). She's loud. She's the best bike rider of our big two but is its been months since she's ridden and for now she's completely refusing to ride her bike or try her new roller blades (and she'll be as fearless as she sounds soon I hope!) She's the sweetest little server... loves to take a plate of treats around to our guests or her sibilings. She also loves to be served, usually in the form of band-aids or tissues. She picks her nails and scratches her back- by her shoulders- hard sometimes (the later, a habit while she's sleeping?)
Her hair is past the middle of her back and she loves it and we both enjoy when I can sit long to brush her hair and try to do it up special (try is the key word.) She's learning to cook and learning to truly help me in the kitchen (for a long time her helping was just not very helpful.... but it's becoming more so!)
She likes to keep her bed neat and to have long sleeves rolled up so they don't go past her wrist. She knows where almost everything is in the house... as in "yes we do have rubber bands Mom, there's some in your desk drawer." Or... "Daddy has some bubble gum on the top shelf of his closet." (Bubble gum is imported from America and has to be rationed.)
Right now, she's giving me my best opportunity for soul scrubbing-refining and driving me to more prayer as I'm desperate for wisdom to serve her well. How can I love and train and bless our sometimes incredibly defiant and always intensely emotional girl?! Oh God give wisdom! We are trying to be even more stubborn than she is to love her firm and fair and gracious and gentle.
Marian is loads of fun and as Matt always calls her, she's the "straw that stirs the drink." She's very committed to our friends, the guests that we have in our home, and almost every time they have to leave, Marian insists, "Mama please tell them they have to come again."
Isaiah DaleI'm so super grateful for a new friend JR, with Book Ends, who mailed us 100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read. This guy is tearing it up! I love how he's reading words all over our daily lives now.
I've been excited for homeschooling for a long time, but I'm really getting all the more eager for next year when we start more full time, formal learning together as I see how this sweet guy is growing to love to learn about the world. And I just love to cuddle him to read and chat together. He never asks to cuddle but he's usually glad to when I invite.
He's a roller blade warrior. Loves a good back scratch and a battle story and recently has become quite the story teller himself at bedtime.
Isaiah's far more inclined to stay inside and work around a table on legos or drawing or looking at books than he is to play outside... unless it's roller blades or sandbox time. Besides these two, it usually takes quite a bit of urging to get him outdoors. (Sadly, it takes a lot of mental momentum for me to be eager to go too... it's awfully ugly industrial around here.) Indoors, he would probably play for 2-3 hours a day all alone, if I let him, and if he could find the quiet space in our home!
We've just started playing chess: the battle story-line perfectly scratches our battle-itchy boy. He's almost always our "Charlie Award" winner, which means he's usually the first one ready and waiting to get out the door when it's time to go. I love this boy and I'm so grateful for our firstborn to usually demonstrate some sweet concern for obeying and being helpful to others and sometimes, (sometimes) even being kind to to his siblings. Yesterday he built a lego tower as a surprise for Marian and he even planned "a surprise party" to unveil it for her.
And here's a few more moments together....
John found "the spot" that he was sure was the unbeatable hiding place: under the covers on our bed. (Don't all kids love this place!?) It soon turned into a progressive hiding game where, once found, the finder had to jump under the covers with him and then they'd call out for the next seeker to come and eventually join them too. Nothing could have thrilled this boy more.