Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday Truth


Sidge turns eight


Elijah "Sidge" is eight. 

Eight!

Not sure how that happened, but as he celebrates his eighth birthday, here are some of these things currently on the top of Sidge's priority list:
  • Animals! He loves all animals but especially bald eagles. (The one in the picture above was a gift from my Dad and Mom. He LOVES it! It has very "real feeling" feet and beak.)
  • His dogs: Scrubs and Ritter top his list but Arabelle is a close third.
  • Stuffed animals. (What is it with kids and stuffed animals)?
  • Legos.
  • How things work. (Gears, parts, wheels, etc.)
  • Inventions (constantly thinking about what he can invent). (Today he made a cell phone holder out of Legos.) 
  • AFV (America's Funnies Videos old episodes.)
  • The farm. 
Sidge loves to see other people have joy. He tears up for happy reasons frequently. He genuinely understands human emotions and feels them with people. He celebrates successes and failure whole-heartedly. 

We worry that sometimes he can feel a little lost with a brother excelling in piano and a sister who adores ballet. But many of Sidge's talents remain things that a young child can't understand. His talent is his brain. He has a brain just like his Daddy, and it is full to the brim with knowledge already. He will have his own wonderful role to play in our world. And we can't wait to see what He does for the world.

In sticking with our family tradition, we are not having a birthday party. We are getting a hotel room for a night, swimming, and letting Sidge pick something he wants to do. He picked a fossil museum! No big surprise there. 

He currently says he'd like to be a veterinarian and a farmer! We really think he'll stick with one of those.

Sidge has a heart of GOLD. It is truly so incredibly loving and sweet, and you can't help but just fall in love with him. He is such an amazing kid. I think often about the fact that I never thought I could have a biological child, and what an amazing and incredible surprise his conception and birth were. 

I LOVE YOU SWEET BOY! Thanks for being my boy!

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Ballet is Done Dude!

So I never thought I would be writing a post on ballet. I especially never thought I'd be writing multiple posts on ballet. But the ballet dominated our month -- and especially the last three days of our lives. 

I have really been working on the focus of my life in the recent weeks and months. I have stepped away from social media, reading the news, and chatting about things that cause me stress. I have instead been truly focusing on things that bring me joy. My dogs. Our animals. My kids. Ballet. Music. Church. Friends. My husband. Christ. Family.

And my spirit can feel the difference. We share so many things just being a part of the human race. And I love focusing on the happy things. 

As I look back on this ballet performance, I realize that this was a happy thing.

This was a LOT of time, but it truly was a beautiful experience. The people that are with this ballet group are just delightful. The parents and children are really just fabulous people. 

In addition, I loved watching Abigail be a part of something bigger than herself. I really hope in the future that we can participate as a family. I volunteered backstage bringing acts up and down the stairs. And of course, JB did make-up. (Pretty sure he'll be doing that every year now.) Grama helped with sewing. But I'd love for the boys to choose to participate helping backstage, or even doing some of the men solider/fighting scenes someday. (Lots of brothers are used for the boy roles.) 

And Hannah? Well today I asked Hannah if she was a princess, and she said, "No mom. I'm a queen." So that girl will pick her own future. Originally, she was taking ballet and going to be in this performance, but we really felt she needed to be a little older to truly commit to something and decide whether or not she enjoyed it and wanted to do it. (She also has to decide whether she wants to listen to the teacher or try to do things her own way. Ha!)

Here are just a few photos I really love:

This is Elizabeth. She is fifteen. JB did her tattoo arms. She was pure EVIL in this play and was simply and utterly AMAZING. I could watch her all night long. I am not her mother, but I felt such pride on behalf of her parents to see her perform. JB tells me she is going to be focusing more on acting, and I think she should! While her ballet was amazing, her acting was simply breathtaking. She truly mesmerized me. 

This is Abigail with her teacher Amelie. This is Amelie's first year teaching, and as someone who started teaching and coaching at about her age, I love watching her learn as she teaches. Abigail really loves her, and Amelie has been so encouraging of Abigail's ballet. (Hannah adores her too even though she doesn't want to listen much in class. :)

Here's Grampa and Grama all dressed up for the ballet! Both of them were under the weather, but they (especially Grama!) wouldn't have missed it for the world. Grama ended up helping a ton with the costumes and backdrops for the show. I have a feeling she will be doing that a lot more in the years to come. 

Here is a picture of Abigail with our piano teacher: Ms. Leslie (and her husband is in the background.) Abigail absolutely LOVED that people came to watch the performance, and would ask about who was there, would look for them during the performance, and wanted to go and see them all afterwards. A big thank you to Ms. Karen and her mom and Jada who came, Ms. Robin and her husband, and Ms. Kim and Avery. Being as we are new to the town and still getting to know people, having these wonderful people in our lives join us meant so much. 

On Friday evening, JB and I both remained backstage. On Saturday afternoon, I snuck away to watch the second act (that Abigail wasn't in). On Saturday evening, Sidge and I sat through the show and today, Sunday, JB watched with both boys. Watching the movie "Malifecent" ahead of time really helped them follow the show. 

Daddy changed up the Bluebird look each night. This particular night (her last of four performances) some special jewels were added. Abigail got a little tired of sitting for her make-up, but she always loved the finish product. 

We tried to go very "light" on the post-ballet presents (that we quickly learned are quite the tradition) so as to not set the bar too high for years to come. $5 elephant and $2 rose completed the job. Oh did they bring a smile to Abigail's face.

Abigail before going up for scene 2. She was in three scenes: 2, 3, and 17. And then of course, she loved the curtain call as well. All of the girls were wonderful and elicited the expected "Awwwww's" from the crowd. They were all animals. They could pick which animal they were. Many girls were very particular about who they wanted to be, but Abigail just accepted the bluebird costume Ms. Lori Ann found for her and went with that. (One little girl picked an opossum and her mother sweetly obliged.) 

I don't consider myself an intense mom or even very sentimental, but I have to admit something: when we went to turn in Abigail's costume (this studio provides costumes so as to keep the cost down for participants) I cried. (And while I can't be sure, I think my husband teared up as well.) It was such a fantastic experience as a parent. Watching my boys at their piano recital last year, seeing my kids sing at church .... these are really wonderful moments of pride for parents. 

We definitely think we will participate again next year! There is an option to only do half as many shows and rehearsals, and we may tone it down a bit, but I don't think this is something we want to miss out on. 

Thank you Central Ballet for giving my girl a great start in life! (And check out their website to see a cute pic of Abigail and Hannah holding hands and Abigail grouped with her class praying before the start of a lesson.)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sermon


Welcome home Liam!!!




A huge and incredible shout out of WELCOME TO YOUR FOREVER FAMILY to little Liam. My dear friends from Turkey, Dan and Angelica, have added little Liam to their family. He joins his three big siblings: Noah, Rowan, and Reese FOREVER!!! 

Liam was adopted from South Korea. I am so incredibly proud of Dan and Angelica for hearing the Lord call them to adoption and following his voice. And now she joins me in the "moms of four" club! Two boys and two girls also.

So happy for everyone!

Angelica is one of my very, very dearest friends. When we first moved to Turkey, I was taking a walk one day, and I ran into Dan and his only two children at the time. I truly felt the Lord whisper into my heart: "Pay attention Wendi. You need to meet this man's wife." Because of hearing that, that evening at chapel on Base, I ran into Dan and made it a point to ask him to introduce me to his wife. 

Angelica became one of my very best friends, and remains so. She is from Spain and met her husband when he was a missionary child in Spain. A few years ago, she gained her America citizenship. She is one of the kindest, sweetest souls I have ever met, and I am so blessed to count her among my dearest friends.

P.S. Angelica is our resident "interiorista" here on the Blog. Her posts will be a little more infrequent for the next few months as they adjust to this new life.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

First night of Ballet!

After months of practicing and probably around a dozen dress rehearsals, last night was the REAL THING! Abigail has a small part with the animals -- mainly designed to really knock the audience over with cute-factor. While this has been a lot of time commitment, we have really had a fun time. The people at this Christian ballet are just wonderful women (and men), and the atmosphere is so encouraging and uplifting. Abigail is in scene 2, 3, and 17. I was able to sneak out and watch some of the show in the second half of the performance (before I had to get back and get her to curtain call), and it was just so incredibly well done. It is basically taken from the movie Malefecent, but it has a Christian slant to it. 

Abigail wanted to do her own video behind stage. She was so excited and chattering like crazy. I cannot tell you what it did for me as a Mom to see my little girl out of her shell and just loving something so much. She absolutely loves ballet. I love watching her love something so much! And don't even ask about JB. He was just a big mush pot.


We aren't allowed to take pics or videos during the show, but I hope to get a video of the performance at some point. Here are some pictures of us behind the stage:


This lady here is Kristen. And that's her second daughter, Hazel. She has an older daughter Eliza as well.

Kristin is Abigail's teacher at co-op as well, and has played a HUGE role in getting our little girl out of our shell. I still can't believe she went from not being able to make it through the try-out last year to being in the play this year!








Here's a quick picture of JB doing his make-up thing!

Killing some time before they went on.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Funnies




*****

Sidge: "Daddy you look like Grampa."
Hannah: "Well, Grampa has hair."

*****

So this is a very embarrassing Friday Funny. I use an "app" called Clue to keep track of my .... female stuff. At the dentist, I handed Sidge the iPad and told him to choose something educational to play. Suddenly I hear him say: "Mom. It is asking for date of last period. What does that mean? I'm playing this game Clue and it is asking for that information before I can get started."

Egads.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thank you Patty

I have decided that I NEED to more regularly tell people I love why I love them and that I love them and thank them for loving me. 

This is Patty.


Patty and I are very different. 
  • Patty is short. I am tall.
  • I am blonde. She is not.
  • She is from Puerto Rico. I am from America. (Ha ha! Just kidding. Puerto Rico is in America everyone!!!!)
  • Patty was a professional ballerina. (Me: Not!)
  • Patty is a lawyer. (Me: Definitely Not!)
  • I am a morning person. Patty? NOT EVEN CLOSE!
The list goes on and on. But Patty loves to hug. And she loves to hug me. And when, after knowing each other briefly at Eglin AFB, she and her husband Yamil (also known as "Mr. Meal") moved to Turkey, we bonded. We bonded over very little in common except a general love for people and each other and good food and world peace. Patty was stuck on a little Base with no job and a newly emerging belly. And I was stuck in my house with two little boys and a great big dog and a new baby. And so we hung out together and just spent time being together.

At some point she might have gone into early labor and I had a small panic attack that I didn't let her see thinking that I was going to be her birthing coach and translator in a foreign country while her husband tried desperately to get a flight back in time.

(He got home in time. THANK GOD! Poor little Troy would have had a version of a very white and blonde woman instead of his much handsomer Peurto Rican father.)

Patty and I do not see the world quite the same. But we want the same thing for our world. We voted differently. But we voted for the same reasons.

Last night I texted Patty. My heart was grieved (as it has been a lot lately) because of people not treating each other with respect and kindness. I told her I was sad. She told me she loved me. She encouraged me to spend less time on social media. (Shouldn't we all!) And reminded me that while are very different people, we share a love for the world and people and are just two ladies trying to make the world better.

It may have been just a short Wendi-is-freaking-out-again text to her, but to me, it actually stopped the anxiety I have been battling cold in its track with an assurance that she will not stop being my friend because we are different. Oh how I needed to hear that this morning. 

I plan to do a lot more of this on my Blog in the coming weeks and months. Bragging on people who in a big or little way made a BIG difference in my day. In my life. In who I am. Patty is one among many of very important women in my circle of supporters. I need to tell them more often how much I appreciate who they are for me.

Bravo Patty! Thank you for taking a break from your Uber-Patty life and just being my friend for five minutes that I needed you most.

To all of you moms ...

... feeling like you are a failure. Be a failure with me!

Yesterday I had to bring Isaac into school for his speech lesson. So I left Hannah in the van to walk him to the front door. The van is not out of my sight. I turned my back for a moment to open the door for Isaac. When I turned back, she was climbing out of the front door of the van (which had its engine running)! (This is the same kid who a month ago couldn't get out of her car seat when the dog locked her in the truck.)

And now she is climbing down out of a big van, in a parking lot by herself, and intending to cross the street to where I am.

There.

Now don't you feel better about yourself as a mom? At least your three-year-old wasn't walking across a parking lot by herself.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: Same Kind of Different As Me (For Kids)


I have not read the novel: Same Kind of Different as Me but I still thought this would make a good book for my kids. I am constantly striving for ways to remind my children that this world does not center around us and our farm. That the world is way bigger than us, and God made lots of different people in all sizes, shapes, colors, personalities, etc. It is one of the chief reasons that we decided to bring WWOOFers to our farm. We do not live in a very diverse area. That was a choice we made based on where we bought land. But I can bring diversity to my children through people that come here or by places we go and visit. (I really want to do mission work with my kiddos as they get older.)
Anyways that is a bit off topic. Back to my review.
The cover of Same Kind of Different as Me for Kids indicates that it is for very little children, but I actually think this is a book directed more at my boys (who are in second grade) or older. There are a lot of words on every page, and it is intended to serve as a conversational piece about making a difference—no matter how big or small we are and no matter how big or small the task. It tells the story of one man and his journey from the streets to a life of purpose. 
Based on the New York Times bestseller Same Kind of Different As Me, which sold more than a million copies worldwide and inspired the major motion picture, this book tells the true story of Denver Moore and Ron Hall, who also created the delightful illustrations in this book.
Booklookbloggers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Isaac performs

Isaac generally doesn't want me to record him playing the piano, but this particular day he wanted to do it and then watch the videos. So I got him playing a bunch.

This is one of his favorite songs: Cannon in D. He's still working on it, but it is getting closer and closer to "down."



This is a song he has been writing. He played it for Ms. Linda via video. (She plays piano too!) He memorizes these songs and plays them repeatedly. I think this one is not named.



Another song he is working on writing:



Trying to play Cannon in D from memory:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: All Is Well

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!



Here I am today. Today, TODAY, TODAY! I am full of joy as I sit down to write. Not the happiness kind of joy, although I do feel that too, but the unadulterated, completely content joy. I feel the deep satisfaction that ALL IS WELL. It’s the kind of joy that looks around at all that’s happening and says “You got this!” This joy had been missing for far too long and the gratitude I feel having it back it almost inexpressible.
To bring you into my now, I must take you to my before. Here are some words that sum up my before: tired, fearful, misunderstood, misguided (at times), stress-filled, and striver. That may sound intense and, let me tell you, it was. I had allowed the lie that said “you must perform for others because who you are is not quite enough” to creep in! So I began to change, trying to be someone else, and quickly became overwhelmed. This wasn’t done from a place of shame or as a faรงade, it was honestly out of complete disorientation. I was questioning every decision I made, frustrated that my best self wasn’t coming out.
I longed to be brave and gracious and humble, and I knew I could be those things, but I consistently got in my own way. Don’t get me wrong, there were some phenomenal moments in my before, but that’s all they were: MOMENTS. I was tired of moments of great; I wanted perpetual greatness. You see, when those great moments were over, I was still putting my head on my pillow feeling frustrated. I needed more than that. So began an almost five-year process of healing, learning, and growth.
I am learning to yield to the process because it’s perpetually with me. LIFE IS PROCESS. I have found that the people who inspire me the most are the ones who have submitted to the process. I want to be like these constant learners who are always looking to grow. I have adopted their “never having arrived but always learning” mentality, knowing this is part of the process.
So, now that you know my before, welcome to my NOW, my present! Here I am, yielded and assured that joy is worth sacrifice. I would even say that there may not be true joy without it. Welcome back Joy!
How did I get here? When did I get here? Let me tell you -- it wasn’t that long ago. And now that things are going well, and I can feel joy again, it feels like I arrived here overnight. But it did not happen quickly. It was a process. It was heart repair, piece by piece, both while I rested and in every intentional decision. It was caring for my soul as much as I cared for my body. Was there prayer? YES. Was there tribe? YES. Was there heartache? YES. Is it worth it? Every time, YES. I hope to never have search for joy again. I hope it stays forever.
Where are you on your Joy journey? Are you worn out? Are you filled? Joy is a solo, inside job. Your tribe is there to support you and call out the best in you, but it’s up to you to go after it.
Here is a statement I rehearse to keep myself yielded during the process: I was made for joy. In grief I choose joy. I do not depend solely on feelings; I entrust my heart and my emotions to the One who so delicately fashioned them. Today I choose joy.
You are a stunning human and I speak joy to you today and always!
See you next Tuesday!

Carrie Alford

Tuesday Truth


Review: Baa! Oink! Moo!


What a sweet book. (Especially for a farm-loving-family like us!) Written by Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by David Walker, This sweet board book Baa! Oink! Moo! travels around the farm meeting all the different animals.

Mama, look!
A swishy tail!
Who made that milk
that fills a pail?

No one knows
exactly how.
only God
can make a cow.

This is just a darling book. We absolutely love it, and it will be a part of our library for a long time to come. The illustrations are so sweet and the sing-song poetry just makes you want to curl up with a kissable little kiddo for some reading time. 

Booklookbloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Preppin' for the Ballet


It is a busy month. Who knew that one small role in one ballet could mean so much commitment! However, while it is a lot of time, we love being a part of a Christian ballet theatre, being around so many wonderful people, and fellowshipping with other Christians (and homeschoolers.) Thirty of the kids in the play are a part of our homeschool group! How cool is that.

Last night, JB joined us for rehearsal. He is going to be helping with the make-up for the play. While this means more challenges for us as far as watching the other kiddos, we really love all being together as a family. And JB enjoys getting to delve into his artistic side a bit more.

Here are a few photos from rehearsal last night:

One of the trees that helps lead Abigail out for one of her three scenes. 

I have decided that as long as Hannah is appropriately dressed for the weather, I am not going to fight her on what she wears. This is what she put together last night. I thought it looked silly, but then numerous mothers told me they loved her style. Go figure.

JB used Abigail to practice some bird make-up for one of the lead ballerinas. 

A little droopy eyed photo -- but you get the idea.

JB was also asked to come up with some make-up for the trees. Here he is practicing on one of the other make-up artists.

My husband has so many amazing talents. The people he works with will love to see this blog post.

Check this out! Allison looks awesome.

I used to wonder how people keep losing their kids at events like this. Isaac and Sidge were sitting in one spot the entire time. But I lost Hannah about ten times. Once I found her here, with a prop on her head.

Another time I found her helping one of the dancers color her shoes.

And by the end of the night? We were all WHIPPED! (And there are still two more practices before the show opens on Friday.) Hannah (aka "Thor") collapsed very quickly when we got home.