Tuesday, April 18, 2017

stateside gifts....

Warning... this is just for the family record.  Waaaaay to long for non-family to read!

A few pics from Conway Little League Fall Ball.  (The mama here is only a few months behind on posting pics!!)  This little hole in the dugout was the perfect spot for John to send out his requests for snacks and drinks and for his sisters to indulge him.) 

He had a great coach and team of good boys to play with...  we're so grateful for this opportunity!

And the participation trophy!  He hardly put it down for a few days.  (Matt barely made it through one of those days with out at least a few snarky comments about how everybody gets a trophy these days... but still, he loves his boys!) 

My big guy....(on the right, pitching! forgive the poor photo please?)  My camera was broken for most of their season and right when I got a new one, this guys last game was at night when it was pitch black.   Good thing he played much better than his mama did for photos!

Fall Ball was a big one... but there have been dozens more incredible gifts for our boys.  They both progressed well in schooling (John finally coming towards more confident reading on his own), and they made just a few good friends at their little school.   AWANAS @ KPCO was a gift-  John got the Sparky and several awards and Isaiah was Nov Clubber of the Month.  They both loved the games and got more of God's Word in their hearts.  They even got to enjoy Kennedy Space Center with precious AWANAS friends...

And the Howdies were here (friends from China that "just happened" to be in Orlando the same season as us!?).  Some fun times at the lake and swimming and lego-ing with those guys!  And there was that time that the kids and I were enjoying some grass therapy at our little campground front yard (along with a some cheddar popcorn) and we watched, just sat there with front row seats, for a little plane to fly across the lake and take flight- straight off the water.  

The boys learned to do a bit of hard work cleaning up at our old rental house.   And there was swimming for homeschool recess while we stayed with our dear friends, the "Shacks".  Crazy amazing blessings!  Isaiah got up on water-skis.  There was a Gatorland outing gifted to them with yet more and super precious China friends.  There were splash pad and library visits- where our big guy got hooked on the Redwall (by Brian Jacques) series.   We ate ice cream and these two alone ate at least two dozen bags too many of tortilla chips.  The kids got to pick out a live Christmas tree for the first time :).

And... we got to spend the week before Christmas at the beach.  First, wonderful time for that!!!  Not only did dear friends gift us with 5 days to spend at their *beautiful* condo at New Smyrna Beach, but Bart and Judy worked it into their schedule to join us for the last two days, once we saw that the condo had space for 8!  Such a blessed time!

Then there's the grandparents. What a gift to get time with them in January as Dale and Mary have bounced between two central FL brothers' homes and stopped at our little cabin by the lake in between.   The kids had an overnight with their grandparents at Uncle Tony's place by his church on the beach.... and they got wristbands so they could ride limitlessly at the church carnival.  They came home starry-eyed (and Matt and I enjoyed two super fun double dates~ with the Johnsons and the Dys~ and got the bulk of our crazy load of packing done while they were gone too!)  There was a bit of overthetop-ness in lego indulgence from these Grands at one point, and that outing was crowned with a heap of Chick-fil-A goodness too.  Speaking of the beloved fast-food, that has sure become a solidly established favorite too!  

Matt and I wanted to treat his parents to something- since we're so regularly on the receiving end with those two!- and we thrilled to get all eight of us into Medieval Times with a discount for a super fun, memorable, enjoyable night.  

Before Christmas we moved from our friends' lovely home to a darling little cabin in a campground by the lake where Matt and I were married.  It's beautiful.  John came alive fishing for tadpoles, and little fish and shrimp, by just plunging cups or buckets in the water.   Sweetest cheer to hear Isaiah boast in John's fishing skills and perseverance.  Our campground living provided fooseball, canoes and a kayak, and more picnics on the grass for talking time together... (I hope they loved this as much as I did!)  and the cabin's in a good place for us to get to see more of the legend, Jonathan McK, who our boys love....  the trio proved to be tough in the Ninja Zone class they got to enjoy three times for free!    

Our entire time in the states was bookmarked by two fantastic weeks with the Bismarck Ks....  the first week was for Dale and Mary's 40th anniversary (how fantastically awesome of them to celebrate their anniversary by inviting all of us to join them for a week!?) and the last week we gathered for cousin Lee and beautiful Aubrey's wedding, which was fantastically located in Central Florida!    Here's the amazing grands, and our kids with their treasured cousins....

Initially I was going to write a whole post about the boys and one for the girls... but alas, this one is already too long and there'd be too many repeats so I'll just make the girls a PS on this post and pray for grace to cover me in years to come when they see how I've treated them.  I'm sorry dear loves.   It's time to just get this darn thing posted!

Girlies...   You were pure JOY to witness this fall...  Marian, you tasted your first (at least the first that you really noticed and remembered) rice krispie bars in August when Grandma Marian brought them to Blackduck and you got her to teach you all her skill that very afternoon.   Then we arrived back in Orlando about 13 hours before your first day of school, where you were really nervous, didn't know anyone, hadn't ever been to a school or school in America or ... lots of stuff was brand new and you were nervousexcitedscared.  The second Monday (second day of school at their homeschool-type school) you brought rice krispie bars to share and I'm pretty sure the entire school felt like you were their friend by the end of day two.  When we left in Feb you gave photo frames to three girls:  your BFF at church, at school and at Awana.  I love this about you.  

Vivian, you grew so much!  Truly, I think you gained the most height this season.  And you blossomed with more of your own sparky delightful personality.  When I asked you what one special thing you wanted to do, you were sure it was ballet.  So we signed you up and bought the tutu and the shoes at Once Upon a Child.  And then you saw Marian's first day at gymnastics and you were tearfully positive that you Really wanted to do gymnastics.  But you finished the month and one recital (that you stayed backstage for the entirety of!) somewhat valiantly before you started in gymnastics as well.... and you did wonderfully!  Both you girls were promoted after just a few lessons when instructors saw your skill and hard work.  That made your mama so proud!

Vivi, you also loved school and counted all of your classmates as your friends.  (I think there were only about 8 students in your class?)  And I love that you are bold and brave to enjoy the little men around you- unafraid even when teased by your siblings for connecting with the little brothers of their friends or enjoying the little guys in your class.  Way to go dear.  This blessing is richly yours, for a girl who is growing up so loved by so many- brothers and sister, mom and dad, grandparents....  I'm praying for all the future friendships and for the future spouses of each of you treasured kids!

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