Saturday, July 26, 2008

All four seasons in one week

There's a great song by Sting that talks about a woman who can be "all four seasons in one day." That's the kind of week we've had.

Anya Rashi's new words were our "spring." She mastered so many this week, including ribbit, blueberry, juice, knee, and please. She has also stopped using the sign for "more," and now speaks the word instead -- unless she really wants something, when she does both. This stage of language explosion is one of my favorite parts of the toddler years. It's so exciting to see her mind make connections.

Our "summer" news this week was celebrating 11 years of marriage! Today, eleven years ago, was the day we promised to love each other for the rest of our lives. I knew life with Peter would never be boring, but I could never have guessed all the twists and turns that have landed us here with three amazing, unique children and hearts that are even more alive than they were on our wedding day.

The "autumn" of our week was waiting for news about a surgery undergone by our dear friend Trina. Autumn, however, turned into spring as we received news that the procedure was a success, and was shorter than anticipated.

To celebrate, we drove to Green Bay and spent the afternoon with Trina's son Tyler. Mini-golf was well tolerated by Anya Rashi, who normally doesn't like to spend much time in the stroller. She got in the game by throwing her ball onto the greens. Afterward, all four boys took a few turns around the go-kart track. Peter and Tyler drove, with Aaron and Nathan riding shotgun. Aaron and Nathan are hooked, needless to say! They had a ball. Anya Rashi had her own ride in a coin-operated kiddie car. She loved it, and kept asking and signing for more.

Sadly, "winter" entered our week on Wednesday, when Peter's aunt Shirley passed away. She will be dearly missed by her four sisters, including Peter's mom. The strangest things provide comfort during times of loss. As I was freezing blueberries this week, I thought about how we would recapture a bit of summer during the cold months with blueberry crisps and pies. It made me think about how memories do the same thing when we're in the winter of missing people who have died.

Meanwhile, we hope for the day when we will see her again, out of pain, in heaven. Please keep her sisters, especially Peter's mom Mary Ann, in your prayers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Who needs water?

I just had to post these funny photos. I was doing some much-needed weeding, pruning, etc. with all three kids running amok in the yard. After a while, Anya Rashi decided to make her own fun. She dragged our little plastic pool out of the garage and proceeded to swim . . . in absolutely no water. She was so funny, laughing and crowing at her clever idea.

I haven't posted this before, but for months now, Anya Rashi has been using very distinct names for her big brothers. Aaron's name is translated into "Yarah" or "Yarin." Nathan's name is a bit more unusual . . . she is very focused on the middle part of his name, and calls him "Th." It just cracks us up, and is somewhat confusing for people outside our family, who think she's spitting or something. It's one of those details I don't want to forget as time passes, so I'm recording it here. :o)

In other happy news, there has been lots of activity at Anya Rashi's former home, the Matri Sneha orphanage. Last week, after months of no activity while waiting for the baby home's license to be renewed, four families found out who their new child will be!

One of them is Ahly's family -- their blog is listed on the right-hand column of ours. Their new baby son's photo is posted there, and he is adorable! We are so thrilled for these families, and we remember all too well the elation we felt last May 1, when we saw Anya Rashi's face for the first time.

Today there are four fewer orphans in the world, four more family circles completed, and four more children who will be embraced for the rest of their lives by loving parents. Our warmest congratulations go out to these families, and our loudest shouts of praise to our amazing God for choosing these children for these parents!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekend fun

We celebrated a family wedding this weekend, and saw lots of out-of-town family. Congratulations, cousin Jason and Robyn! The festivities were held at a park overlooking Green Bay (it actually IS a real body of water, not just a football team), and it was a beautiful location.

Poor Anya Rashi's nap schedule was completely obliterated by all the fun. Truth be told, though, she kicked off the weekend of sleep-deprivation herself by waking at 4:37 a.m. on Saturday, then 5:38 a.m. on Sunday. Ugh. Not sure why . . . she was perfectly happy, but just ready to be awake.

On Friday, our dear Chicago friends Heidi and Charlie were up for a visit. (They saw Anya Rashi on her very first day in the USA, when they met us at O'Hare.) We had lunch together in the back yard while Anya Rashi napped. When she woke up, it seemed as though she remembered them: she toddled right up to Heidi and asked to sit in her lap. Same story with Charlie -- she went right to him and was very content on his lap. We saw some fantastic pictures of their recent much-needed vacation in Italy. Mmmmm . . . they visited the place where pesto was born (among other much more culturally significant places!).

Peter's brothers Mark, Dave and his family, along with his sisters Lynn, Anne, and Mary and their families, all came from various parts of the Midwest. Aaron and Nathan glommed onto their cousins for the whole wedding reception, and played croquet, kickball, pirates, and more. The three girl cousins Grace, Emma, and Anya Rashi spent a lot of quality time together. They have to stick together, since girls are an endangered species in Peter's family: out of 12 grandkids and one great-grandchild, they're the only estrogen-Americans.

Anya Rashi was in her element at church this weekend, with a whole row of family to bop around between. Anne's and Dave's families, along with Grandma and Grandpa, came to hear Peter give the sermon. (He was subbing for our head pastor, who takes some weekends off during the summer to have some much-deserved study and rest time.) I took her to the parent room during the sermon, since she started yelling "Dada! Dada!" when he walked to the podium. :o)

We had guest worship artists from New Zealand afterward. A family of four sang, danced, and interpreted native worship music and drumming. One of the deepest thrills in my walk with Christ is seeing how people from different cultures love and worship the same God in completely different ways. It gives such a great picture of what heaven will be like.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Whirlwind, part 2!

The past two weeks were another whirlwind of fun, visitors, and new words from Anya Rashi. She's added a bunch of new words to her vocabulary -- see if you can detect which ones are her brothers' influence at work . . .

Spiderman = my-man
Batman = bah-man
Rubik's Cube = doopy doo
Elmo = melmo
camera = yamya
brother = bruh-bruh
yogurt = goh-ga
whee! = whee!
bubble = bubble
ball = ball
Grandpa/Grandma = Bampa
up = ba
Dora = hwa-rah

The funny thing about Dora is that we don't have cable, so she's only seen our one Dora book, and a plate/bowl/cup set we have. Then we saw a girl at the park wearing a Dora band-aid, and Anya Rashi exclaimed, "Hwa-rah! Hwa-rah!!" They must've done some great toddler research, because Anya Rashi is really interested!

Anya Rashi also got her first goose egg, or "goose bump," as Nathan calls it. She was sitting in a toddler chair at a cook out, and pushed off of the table with her feet -- ouch! I really hate those heart-stopping injury moments. She was fine, since the chair took the brunt of the fall, thank heaven. She had a nice bump on the back of her head, though, and a slightly sleepless night, since we had her in our bed for a few hours (playtime!!), and then woke her up a few times to make sure she was okay.

It's finally hot here, so we've also had some water fun with wading pools (including snorkeling!), bicycle washes, etc. We went to the Milwaukee Zoo for a day, which was a huge hit all around. The boys got to be part of the Birds of Prey show, volunteering to wear oversized eyeball glasses to demonstrate how large our eyes would be if we had the proportions of owl eyes! Anya Rashi loved the gorillas, lion and elephants -- and tried to "talk" to them by making the appropriate animal sounds.

Last week, we should've installed a revolving door on our house! We had lots of visitors, including our friend Becky from Milwaukee for one night, my sister Alicia for one night, then our friends Trina and Tyler from Indianapolis for two nights. We'll take anyone who will put up with the craziness of three kids. :o)

We also had a morning visit with Katy from Arkansas (the wife of Joe at Sandbox Adventures), their two kids, and Doris (Joe's mom). Stephen and our boys quickly disappeared to the basement, where the Legos and Star Wars toys live, while Grace and Anya Rashi competed for little-kid toys and the affections of our doll family upstairs. It was a good visit, but way too short!

Meanwhile, Peter went on a four-day backpacking trip in Michigan's Porcupine Mountains with three friends. It was a much-deserved oasis of nature, camaraderie, waterfalls, athletic hiking, and ticks (ick). I think it's the first time he's been able to go on a non-work-related guy getaway since we became parents. We've had weekends away as a couple, of course, but time with friends is so important too.

Last, but certainly not least, Nathan lost a tooth! His first two teeth fell out over a year ago, exactly one week after he turned five. Then, a long dry spell. He was very brave as Daddy helped pull it out last night.