Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Update #26 (7/3/15)

Seth has been at the Yakama Indian Reservation all week, since last Saturday, serving with Sacred Road Ministries. This is already his fourth year going with a team from our church, although it's his first year leading the trip. It was 100-110* all week, which made it a hard week, but the team persevered. However, I did get texts like this:

We actually went out there to visit Wednesday night and Thursday day, which was such a great trip!

But first, in chronological order:

Saturday morning we got up early and rushed to do errands before Seth left. Somehow (mercifully) we made it to Lowe's on time, despite my pessimism, to for their Grow and Build program. The boys built a Captain America motorcycle (with lots of help... or "help" because I don't think I was actually much help. They were so little that it was hard to hammer in the nails without destroying the rest of the motorcycle!).

Sunday was the church picnic, so I took the boys over to the Hamlins'. Unfortunately, the Family Olympics were cancelled, but Pastor Rich bought 30-40 squirt sticks (is that what they're called?) and the kids had fun playing in the water.

Monday morning we went up to Shoreline with my mom to see my grandparents. Since we still had our squirtsticks in the car we got to play with them again. I got to talk to my grandparents while the boys played, so it wa those silly sticks more than paid for themselves! I also got to help my grandma figure out her new tablet..

That night I dropped mom off  at her house, along with both boys, for a slumber party in the tent. Ezra has been talking about this for weeks, and since Seth was gone it was especially nice to have a little break from watching kids. I was supposed to go to my swim lessons at 7am Tuesday morning but slept through them since i'd stayed up so late the night before, folding laundry at watching movies. I did get to take my online Herodotus class without interruption though!! And then, after class, I got a hair cut and picked up Isaac at the spray park (where he'd been playing with Grandpa and Ezra). Ezra had somehow convinced all us to let him spend another night at Grandpa and Grandma's house, since "a sleepover means you sleep over and over and over" " at someone's house. So Isaac and I got to spend time together packing for our trip and then, Wednesday morning, Ezra and my mom met us at the Y for the boys' swimming lessons, after which the boys and I headed off to the Yakama Indian Reservation.

We made pretty good time, got dinner and checked into a hotel. We got in the pool a little after 6pm and didn't get out until it closed at 10pm! I did get the boys out for a bathroom break twice, actually. And Seth came and joined us around 8:30-9!! The boys are swimming so well this summer. Every time we get in the water they make more and more progress, which is so fun to see. We were all pretty wiped out when we straggled back to our room and Isaac hardly stayed awake during his shower. Ezra, as is typical, powered through his exhaustion and took a long leisurely bath, but fell asleep wrapped in a towel on the bed as I was looking for his underwear.

Thursday morning the team drove up from the rez to meet us in our hotel parking lot on their way to Rimrock Lake. The lake was a good hour and twenty minutes from the rez, but it was much cooler up in the "mountains" and I think all the kids thought the drive was worth it. Our kids thought so! I sat in the shade the entire time and watched the teenagers play with my kids, so it was quite the break for me too. Unfortunately, one of the teenagers found a little garter snake and the group of them spent a good 5-10 minutes passing it around, much to Ezra's delight. I, of course, heard "snake" and jumped up and ran down the beach and sat on a log 50 yards away until Seth assured me the snake was long gone.

When it was time for the team to leave the lake (to get to Kids Club) we thought we were going to part ways and see Seth (and the team) on Saturday. The boys and I got popsicles and then went to the museum.

I just had so much fun with the boys at the museum. Ezra was SO excited and to go to the museum. I'm not exactly sure why - he enjoys going to other museums and we had talked a lot about the Yakama, but his enthusiasm was particularly high. I took our umbrella stroller and kept Isaac in it for about half our time in the museum, which was probably a good decision. He did ok, but it was hard to keep his interest in a particular installation as long as Ezra wanted to stand there and look at it and talk about it. There were a lot of taxidermied animals on display, though, which helped Isaac immensely. Since we'd talked so much about Yakama history and culture, it was easy to interact with Ezra while at the museum and he asked great questions. I love, love, love this stage of engagement! [photos in the museum weren't allowed]

The museum closed at 5:30pm, otherwise we would have stayed a bit longer (well, definitely longer if Isaac hadn't been with us), but we spoke with the clerk in the gift shop and admired the beadwork for sale and then Seth called and invited us to come have dinner with him (well, and the ERC team and other churches) at the church on the rez. We hadn't expected to see Seth again and were just going to hang out in Yakima for a while (find dinner and a park?). I hadn't seen the new church building (built last year) so it was really fun to go see where the teams now stay and to meet some of the new missionaries and, after dinner, listen to Chris Grandberry speak. The boy enjoyed a great deal of attention and the opportunity to play on the playground equipment.

 We didn't make it home until 2am Friday morning, but it was definitely worth the long drive to go see Daddy and have a better idea of what he was doing for a week (even if, on Friday, the boys got to watch too much TV while I napped and didn't get any of the chores and projects done that I had expected to).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Today we walked to the YMCA for swimming and gymnastics. It took us about an hour, at a semi-leisurely pace, which allowed a lot of time for talking.

Isaac pointed out at least three motorcycles as we were walking (along with numerous trucks and pieces of garbage and whatever else he saw). I didn't hear Ezra say anything to him the first few times, but as Isaac pointed to the third motorcycle I heard Ezra say:

"Isaac, please stop talking about motorcycles! I asked you before and you keep doing it. I don't like hearing about motorcycles because it makes me think about how my grandma died!"

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Update #19 (5/15/15)

Hannah didn't get to go to Ezra's birthday party on his birthday, so we met her at her new apartment by Wright Park to check it out, then go out to lunch at The Hub and then play at the park. It was fun to have so much Hannah time, and it was an absolutely beautiful day. The boys also got to try out their new Avengers tattoos.

For Mother's Day church hosted a brunch and the kids gave their moms a potted plant and a "I love my mom because ____" poster. This is what Ezra gave me:

We had lunch at my parents' house with Jack and Esther afterwards.

We've been trying to decorate our mantle with seasonally appropriate decorations and candles. Ezra gets a big kick out of it.

We started our new session at the YMCA and on Tuesday and Thursday Ezra and Isaac are both in swimming lessons (and I’m in lessons with Isaac) and then we all shower and head off to the gymnastics room for gymnastics class. They’re in different levels, but we get to all be in the same room together. Well, I have to be with Isaac, since he’s only two and can only participate in classes with a parent, but I enjoy doing classes with him, especially this session because that means I also get to watch Ezra in his class instead of being outside the room or playing with Isaac elsewhere.

On Friday Isaac is taking a “creative movement” class (that Ezra gets to tag along to) that is similar to gymnastics in that we do a lot of the same stretching and beginning exercises. But then he gets to play with ribbons and hoops and bean bags and gets to run and jump and gallop in time to whatever music his teacher selects. For Isaac it’s an exercise in following instructions more so than it is an exercise in actually perfecting any skills.

But Ezra is really getting rather accomplished, especially in his gymnastics class. On Thursday he was actually called up, in front of the whole class, to demonstrate a series of routines on the bars to the rest of the class to demonstrate how each routine should be performed. I was so proud of him! I think he was suitably proud too.

Isaac has moved up to a new level of swim class, based on his age, and it’s much more challenging. Eventually that will be a very good thing for him, as he really needed to move up and be challenged, but right now it’s just hard. He doesn’t enjoy the challenge yet, so neither do I. But he needs to learn to swim! And I really appreciate and respect the teachers and the lesson progression, so I have full confidence that this is indeed what he needs to do and what he can do.

One day, for craft time, I pulled out a bag of "jewels" and the glue sticks and the paper to which the boys were supposed to glue the jewels. I then washed dishes and came back to this:

Isaac thinks he's getting cuter and cuter. For example:

Ezra has been asking about the piano a lot lately and wanting to play pieces from the Frozen book I have. But this week he was especially persistent and I wrote out "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for him and put "A," "B," "C" stickers on the keyboard and he played it all by himself!!! I am so proud of him and SO excited!

And then he wanted to write his own music:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Update #18 (5/8/15) **needs photos

On Sunday we were supposed to go up to my grandparents' house after church but our after-church meeting ended an hour later than expected and then we still stayed at church for another hour and "debriefed" with some of the people in the meeting. We didn't regret staying, and it seemed pretty necessary, but then we had to rush and find a gas station bathroom for the boys and it took two tries. And then I5 was backed up and it was already 3pm (and we'd expected to be at my grandparents' by 1:30) and Isaac was starting to fall asleep (a 3pm nap start time means he'll be up til 11pm, long after my bedtime) so we decided to just stay in Tacoma. We tried to go to Chick-a-fila, but didn't remember, until we noticed the drive through was blocked off, that they're closed on Sunday. So we went to the Food Court in the mall and had yummy Thai and Chinese food and then played at the play place and Seth and I debriefed further.

Monday I cancelled my piano lessons because we're still sharing a car (it's been too hard to find time to talk about what we should do, let alone do it!) and Seth had to teach and then go coach the last baseball game of the season. The boys and I tagged along. It was a beautiful day and the Chief Leshi field and surrounding area is really nice, so we had a great time. (It certainly didn't hurt that the Crusaders scored some points and had a decent pitching and fielding performance, leading to a win!) Ezra spent about an hour picking me daisies while Isaac mostly rolled around in the grass.

After the game we had to go meet one of Seth's employees and then Ezra asked if we could go to Ana's grave, so, after getting Chick-a-fila finally, we decided to go! It was a sweet evening.

Tuesday we started our new Y session with swimming lessons and gymnastic class, and then I taught all day. Isaac woke up especially early and even before I woke up had exhibited a particularly difficult attitude, which, unfortunately, was not something he gave up until he arrived at grandpa's house. I don't remember a more difficult 4-5 hour span in recent months. Certainly not while we've been out and about! Thankfully, Ezra could not have been more sweet and obedient and helpful, which I certainly recognized as a special grace bestowed upon me.

And Wednesday was Ezra's FOURTH BIRTHDAY!!!!??!! Oh, he is such a blessing to me and I am so very, very grateful for these last four years (and nine months besides). I think he felt celebrated.


Thursday morning Ezra woke up and told me to feel his muscles because, now that he's four, "they're so much bigger!" Silly guy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ezra's Fourth Birthday **needs photos

Our oldest child is now four years old. Four!!

Ezra began asking when his birthday would be shortly before Isaac’s birthday, back in March. He knew his birthday was “in the spring” but didn’t know the date. As we’ve started talking more about calendars and clocks this month, he internalized “May 6th” as his birthday, but I’m not particularly confident that he truly understands the concept of months/days. Anyway, he struggled for a few weeks with the idea that his birthday wasn’t “first” (that is, before Isaac’s) even though he is the “first kid” but he was suitably cheerful when we celebrated Isaac’s birthday and lavished his little brother with instructions as to what to expect on a birthday.

I, however, didn’t get the memo and didn’t supply Isaac’s party with balloons and streamers, so in the lead up to Ezra’s birthday he asked me to “please remember this time”. Many months ago Ezra also requested that Isaac have a “Batman cake” and he have a “Superman cake” for their respective birthdays and thankfully Ruth was willing to provide her cake-decorating artistry yet again.

So we had the date and resulting countdown to the date, party decorations and a cake plan. We also made a list of some new chores and expectations that Ezra would assume once he turned four. But would the day ever come?!?

On May 4th and 5th Ezra woke up asking if it was his birthday yet, so when he woke up on May 6th I was so excited to tell him it was finally his birthday!! I had purchased powdered sugar cake donuts and a small basket of raspberries for his birthday breakfast, since those are rare indulgences, and it was just so fun to watch him wake up and revel in the excitement that it was his birthday. Isaac had, as usual, woken up before Ezra and saw the donuts and raspberries and raced into the bedroom to announce their presence to Ezra the minute he realized Ezra was finally awake. He even sang “happy birthday Ra-ra” to Ezra while Ezra was still in bed.

I had planned several activities for our morning, but they were all derailed so we actually just hung out at home for a bit before dropping Seth off at TBS and then heading across the street to the park to play until he finished. And then we trekked over to my parents so I could teach piano lessons at their house for two hours and then celebrate Ezra’s birthday with my parents and a few of my siblings who were able to make it.

I made spaghetti (since it’s one of his favorite meals) and we opened presents and ate a Superman cake and “strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream”. Ezra was so thrilled with his presents! He received a number of superhero items, much to his delight, including a Superman quilt made by Grandma (something he’s coveted since Isaac received a Batman quilt for his birthday). He also received several books and action figures and clothes and a fishing pole. He made the cutest exclamations of awe as he opened each present.

It wasn’t an especially exciting day, especially compared to my initial plans, but Ezra had fun and felt special.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Visiting Ana's Grave

Last May Ezra noticed the white popsicle sticks stuck in the ground at a local high school (a tribute to Arlington Cemetery, in honor of Memorial Day) and started asked question after question about them. He had already been asking questions about Ana and Mimi and it became obvious that we needed to explain death to him. We were apprehensive about his understanding, but as with every other topic, we were just honest with him and answered his questions, letting him direct most of the conversation. In the year that has followed, he has talked about them and the more general subject of death, frequently and seems to have a

We didn't purposely avoid taking him to Ana's gravesite, but neither did we offer. He loves to hear stories about her and talks about her often. Half of the time her photo is missing from our wall because he's reached up and pulled it off so he can look at it closely. He asks Seth questions about her often and remembers every word Seth tells him. Lately he's been missing her especially, and has asked to see additional photos and hear even more stories.

On Monday night, after the last TBS baseball game, we were driving to meet up with one of Seth's workers to pay him and Ezra just asked if we could go see Ana's grave. It seemed completely random, to us, but in retrospect, he's been missing her quite a bit, as I just wrote. It was already 5ish pm, so I assumed Seth would say we'd have to go a different day, but he said ok! The gas station where we met his worker had so many California poppies, so I jumped out an picked a few handfuls as per Ezra's request (I'm still not sure if he actually knew it's a custom to leave flowers on graves or if he just wanted to take his grandma pretty flowers). We grabbed Chick-a-fila, to see what all the hype was about, and headed east.

The cemetery was completely empty the whole time we were there and we quickly found her gravesite. Ezra then spent about an hour arranging flowers (including the fake roses that were already at her grave) while Isaac alternated watching Ezra and running along the edges of the graveyard. Isaac hardly understands familial relationships, so despite the many times as Ezra has told him "Ana is Daddy's mommy" I don't think he really understands.

Ezra didn't talk very much, which is of course a rarity, and we tried to give him lots of space.

It was a really sweet evening, although it was especially hard for Seth. He misses his mom for many reasons, of course, but the thing that's probably hardest for him is that she never got to meet Ezra and Isaac. But, as Ezra often says, someday we will get to see her in heaven!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fine Arts Night

Seth officially started as the interim drama teacher at Tacoma Baptist High School back on March 30th, but this last half of the month has been crunch time for him as his students will be performing at TBS’ Fine Arts Night, which is an open house to showcase the work that students have done in choir/band/music/art/drama class. In addition to the families of the students who have artwork displayed or are performing, they’re hoping prospective students will be coming. I don’t know how much weight it will hold in reality, but as Seth is going to be applying for one of the teaching positions that is opening up for a full time position next school year, he sees this Fine Arts Night as important to his “interview”. He probably was placing too much importance on it, but even if that’s true and his job application isn’t on the line, he knew many families would be watching his students perform and he saw their performance as a reflection on him. There have been so many minor setbacks (a scheduling conflict with a track meet, which means half of his class won’t be there, one of his actors backing out of his role last minute, miscommunication between teachers about who gets the stage when, etc,) that it has made for a pretty stressful week for him.

My mom took the day off and came over on Wednesday to watch the boys while I went to drama class with Seth. She brought a bag of “black dirt” and a bunch of vegetable starts with her and the boys had a hayday planting them in our back yard raised beds. I very much appreciated having a break from the kids, but it was also fun to see Seth teach and to see the progress that his students had made on their scenes. He asked me to come along because he was feeling like the students weren’t making progress and he felt like he needed an extra pair of eyes and ears. I was able to help some of the students with their blocking and most importantly help them understand the context of their scenes since they hadn’t had enough time to do that yet. I just love watching Seth interact with other people. He’s such a great communicator and people really respond to him, but I don’t necessarily see that very often. He’s been so stressed out about this performance, but I think I was able to help and, most of all, reassure him that the students were on track. I also realized how much I miss sitting at a desk and creating student assignments.

Thursday, my parents were building a fence and offered to watch the kids, even though I was originally planning on bringing them along to TBS with us. I went to class with Seth and then stayed and worked on tax stuff in his classroom until the performance that night. It really did go beautifully. I was so proud of Seth and of the students.

The Crucible
The Importance of Being Earnest