Thursday, December 18, 2014

The weather outside is frightful...

But the hot chocolate is so delightful!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Home theatre

Our annual trip to see The Nutcracker ballet at The Fox Theatre with Mimi was fantastic, as usual.

Abby was in awe of the ballerinas and occasionally insisted on dancing along in her seat.

Caleb attended for the first time, and thought the rat ballet dancers were hilarious. He was on the edge of his seat for the sword fight and breathed a sigh of relief when Clara's sword pierced the rat king and the battle ended.

But the best part, by far, was later that evening, when the kids insisted on recreating the ballet for me in Abby's room (after an hour-long rehearsal, and the making of some elaborate paper costumes). Abby cast herself as Clara, Caleb took the role of the rat king, and Jacob was alternately a rat (for the battle scene) and the nutcracker.

"When I'm in the real Nutcracker ballet, will you come see me every day?" Abby asked.

I'll be there for every show, I assured her.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The floor is not made of lava

Reasons we can't do math at the table?

Number One: "Sharky can't swim up there."

Apparently our floor is the perfect marine environment for kindergartners and great white sharks.

Monday, December 15, 2014

At his fingertips

I have waited so long for this moment.

The early readers and Dick and Jane books are finally a thing of the past. My kindergartner reads real books now, and with confidence that was a long time coming.

I've never been so happy to hear Curious George read from cover to cover.

And the look on his face when he discovered all the new information in his shark encyclopedia?


I'm so proud of this kid.

Friday, December 12, 2014

If you're happy and you know it...

The total recklessness with which she dances is perhaps my favorite part of Abby's ballet performances.

I say reckless, because she doesn't let things like What Move Comes Next or Where She's Supposed to Be Standing get in the way of her fun.

No, she just enjoys the music and the sparkles and the applause and the fun with her friends backstage, and the stress of a packed house and an encore performance are the furthest things from her mind.

The first night of the Christmas recital was a little mediocre, to put it kindly. The girls were a little off, and someone didn't quite hit her mark, requiring Abby to give her tutu a little tug in the middle of the song to get her line back in order.

I met her backstage and told her she looked fantastic up there. And I meant it. She is beautiful when she dances, and I never get tired of these shows.

"That was so fun, Mommy!" she squealed with excitement. "And I get to do it again tomorrow!"

The next night was a little more relaxed. And by a little, I mean Abby was so in her element on stage that when she spotted us in the audience as they were exiting she stopped in her tracks, jumped up and down five or six times and threw her hand high above her head to ensure we could see her waving.

And the crowd went wild.

"Is that one yours?" a friend behind me asked.

Oh, yeah. She's mine all right.

It's hard to be poised and dainty when you're having that much fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wide awake

Just so we're clear, this is what "I'm not tired, I don't need a nap, I'm just going to play trains in the closet" looks like.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Beauty from ashes

Now this is a happy ending.

I've thought a lot lately about giving thanks in all circumstances. I'm thankful for recovery, for fantastic hospitals, for nurses and doctors who spend time away from their kids to help mine heal, for friends and family who are the hands and feet of Jesus when it really counts.
August 2014
This picture still breaks my heart. 
But I'm not thankful for that stupid snake. And one of my prayers throughout this ordeal has been that God would redeem it in some way. That something good, something positive, something of some significance would be born out of Levi's suffering.

And it did. And so many of you who have walked alongside us from the beginning were part of this happy ending. So again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

The idea started, as most do, with my kids asking questions. They wanted to know more about Levi's time in the hospital, about all the people that helped him, about what he did while we were there. The only pictures we've shown them have been the happier ones, and in most of those, Levi is in a little red wagon.

That wagon, I explained, made a world of difference in his recovery. That wagon, I told them, allowed him to get up and move around, to get out of bed and ride around the hospital, to tour the garden and see the aquarium and go make yogurt parfaits. Without that wagon, we would have been stuck in that hospital room.

I'm thankful for that wagon.

Then Abby had an idea. What if this year for Christmas, we buy a wagon for some other kids at the hospital to use so they can feel better too?
But wagons cost money. So she took the money she made from a dogsitting job, invested in some beads, and got to work designing and assembling necklaces to sell at a Christmas event at church.
She included a letter with each necklace she sold to let her customers know how the money from their purchase would be used.

With Mrs. Lisa, Levi's physical therapist and one of Abby's customers
When the necklaces were all sold, and with quite a few orders placed, we counted her earnings, and found she had made enough money to purchase not one, but four wagons, and four sets of those fun stacking cup toys that Levi played with in his hospital bed.

The look on her face when we picked up the wagons was priceless. Seeing the actual fruit of her labor really drove home the point for her.
"If one kid uses these wagons every day," she exclaimed, "that's a lot of wagon rides for a lot of kids!"

Today, with the wagons assembled and loaded in the van, we drove, with our little snakebite survivor, back to the hospital. This time, we were there on our terms.

As the familiar building came into view in front of us, Levi hid his snake hand under his blanket, as has become his habit on these rides to the hospital.

"No ouchies today, Levi," Abby reassured her brother. "We're just going to give these wagons to some other kids."
Inside, we almost made it to the front desk with our four wagons, but met a woman and her daughter on the elevator that needed one, so Abby handed off one of the wagons when we reached the lobby.

"See," I told her, "Your hard work is already a blessing to someone!"
We left the remaining wagons and the toys with a kind lady who gave Abby a certificate and told her just how awesome she was for making such a thoughtful donation.

"Aren't you thankful that Levi got bit by a snake so that all those kids can have new wagons now?" she asked on our way out.

Not exactly, I told her. But God worked it out for good. And that is something I can be thankful for.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wild imagination

"Let's pretend it's dinner time, and you're the mommy, and we're your obedient children."
--Jacob, age 4

(Actually, that just happens to be my favorite game.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Joyful noise

I still haven't stopped laughing about this morning's performance.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating: there is nothing Caleb does that he doesn't do with gusto. And never has that been more evident to more people at one time than during this morning's rendition of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."

It didn't help matters that the choirmaster kept encouraging her young performers to sing loudly enough for everyone in the back to hear them. My kids needed no such nudging.

"Okay guys, I need to hear you singing," she coaxed. "I can't hear you!"

"You can hear me!" Caleb replied.

Yes, yes she could. So could the people down the street, I'm pretty sure.

Not to be outdone, his fiercely competitive sister did everything she could to match her brother's volume. And this made for a performance that is still ringing in my ears hours later.

On a quieter note, Jacob and Levi performed a sweet version of "Away in a Manger" with their Sunday school class that proved to the congregation that not all of my children are out to steal the show.

But words will never do this one justice. You just have to see it for yourself.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Big plans

"One day, Froggy, you and I are going to Mars."
--Abby, age 7

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