Transition Update #2

More bullet points from our first intense week of transition:

  • Waking up to temperatures in the 50’s inside our apartment. Eating breakfast together in our winter coats and hats.
  • Existential questions left and right from my ever-inquisitve 8-year-old. More deep and serious discussions this week than I can remember – how our family is different and “weird”, what bothers him about me, gender roles, worldwide crises, views on material possessions, and so much more.
  • Lilia blazing through a workbook her teacher gave her for homeschooling this spring. She may have learned to read this weekend…
  • Waking to Jedidiah throwing up on the floor beside my bed.
  • Walls in my spirit torn down – able to accept it all as a gift – the hardships, the changes in plans – and to be thankful for the new path that emerges.
  • A harp-regulation twenty years overdue.
  • Feeling thankful for the help I didn’t know how to ask for – laundry done by some one I hardly know, a friend with a husband away too who can commiserate in the hard moments, more boxes piled outside my door when I’m running low.
  • A back door that is still boarded up as the projected three-week porch project turns into over three months. The porch will be beautiful, I say out of obligation, knowing we may never use it. In these hard days, it is a small thing that makes my days harder – walking out the front door and around the building to take out trash & recycling and to get to the basement laundry machines.
  • Thankful for health regained quickly for Jedidiah, even allowing us to go to church this morning.
  • Lilia’s shining smile as she works on projects – her notebook from school, a menu of items she will make me on my birthday: “Don’t get up on your birthday, mommy. Just stay in bed, and I’ll bring you breakfast.” For days, she said, “How will I get you a present? I’m going to have to find some one to walk me to Quake Collectibles (a second-hand collectibles shop that sells toys, where she can by Beanie Babies for a dollar).” Then, on Friday she used the points she had earned at school to by me a present from the “point store.” She wrapped the little pink ball with a star on it and presented it to me proudly after school. I am floored by her giving heart.
  • Simeon kissing his stuffed animals goodnight.
  • Chapped faces, hands, and lips in the dryness of winter.
  • Humidifier running day and night.
  • Repositioning Simeon throughout the night to help him breathe better in the dry air with a stuffy nose, praying it is not a more serious issue than that causing his little snores.
  • A giant packet of artwork for me to ooh and ahh and generally gush over – sent home by the art teacher for both kids – all their work from the year so far.
  • Trying to keep things seeming clean and home-y as the piles of boxes grow each day.
  • Simeon asking for us to sing O Come O Come Emanuel like we did during advent – raising his little arm and singing “Rejoice!” like we do for the church candle dance.

There is newfallen snow tonight – beautiful, yet bringing much work for the morning. Your prayers are holding me up. This has been a trying time, but I feel distinctly prayed for.


Pictures from Fall 2014



Here are a few pictures from our Fall. In addition to the big events from the last post, there have been field trips, school projects, a visit from my mom, another lovely birth I attended, and some travels for Josh…

Here’s Lilia on a hayride. (Incidentally, Simeon remembers this hayride and talks about it often): P1010650 P1010653

At the pumpkin patch with friends from Lilia’s class: P1010659 P1010663

Getting to feed the giraffe (at the pumpkin patch!): P1010667 P1010670 P1010671

Simeon loved feeding the giraffe carrots:


More sweet pictures from the field trip: P1010675 P1010678 P1010688

Lilia’s Kindergarten class!


Everybody loves Nana Lou Anna!

Pictures for a school project Jedidiah was doing. his class was making a community alphabet booking, and he had the letter “I.” We learned all about a community event called “It’s Thursday, Let’s Dance!” The kids took pictures where the dancing takes place. P1010697 P1010698 P1010699 P1010700 P1010701 P1010705

Lilia’s class at the Halloween party:



This guy won Harvest Bingo and got a stick-on mustache!


Lilia’s table:


I was in charge of snacks, and we made monster mouths with apple slices, sunflower seeds, sunbutter, and strawberry “tongues”…


The last days of Simeon in his fedora (we are on to winter hats, now):

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Kindergarten wears Lilia out some days…

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Lilia learned to do the monkey bars!

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Lilia in her beautiful coat from Memaw:

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Another piece of our Fall is that there has been a good deal of construction on our building. Our windows were replaced, and for the past 5 weeks our back porches and stairwells have been torn down and (nearly) rebuilt. During the construction on our unit, we took a short retreat to the community lakehouse in Wisconsin. On a cold day, we decided to do a tour of the Jelly Belly factory. As you probably know, food dye is not really our thing, but it was a fun, free activity. There was a train and jelly bean art and free samples – including the Harry Potter Every Flavor beans. We actually had a blast…2014-11-04 11.27.18 2014-11-04 11.40.13

We had a low-key Thanksgiving at home with just our little family. It was a quiet retreat after a busy Fall. We decided that we wanted to eat Chicago-style pizza one last time – a rare treat for us. In the end, we thought of several Thanksgiving side dishes we simply couldn’t do without. So, we basically had a Thanksgiving dinner with a pizza in place of the turkey. It was delicious.

2014-11-27 13.09.18Coming soon: Simeon’s turned two, and we had a sweet, train birthday celebration for him!


Summer 2014 Catch-up – Part 2 of 10

We had so many fun summer adventures in Evanston and Chicago! We went to the zoo twice, to the nature center (and butterfly room!), to a water park, to a nature center and local historical center, and to the beach (about once a week). We even took a family outing to Navy Pier to ride the famous Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. Our weather was really mild all summer, so it was perfect for long days outdoors. Here are a few photos:

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Kid Quotes

One day, we were walking to the beach. Our 4-year-old neighbor Jacoah was with us, and he was riding his bicycle. At one point, he was having trouble getting up a hill, and I said (about his bicycle), “Do you wanna walk it?” Immediately, Simeon replied emphatically from his stroller: “I wanna walk it!”

One day recently, I complimented Lilia on how quickly she was dressed in the morning – she was even dressed before everyone else! She replied, rather snobbishly, “You guys should really start laying out your clothes.”

Lilia (to Josh who was looking at jeans at a thrift store): “Hmmm…I don’t think jeans are your type.” (as a side note, I’ve been following some of Carol Tuttle’s advice on “Dressing Your Type,” so I think this is where she came up with the term.)

Lilia and I were talking about all of the possibilities of what she could be when she grows up. She liked the idea of being a pilot or a horseback rider. She was open to any possibility – teacher, president, anything…Until I said “astronaut.” She laughed and said, “No way!!” She was very sure she did not want to be an astronaut. When I asked her why, she said, “Because astronauts go to outer space and that’s where Star Wars is!” She finds Star Wars super scary and doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.

From awhile back…Lilia and I were picking out hot dogs at the grocery store, and she said, “Ooh! I want the Rock-in-saw ones!” It took me quite a bit of effort to figure out what she meant. Finally, she pointed to the package and said, “See! Rock-in-saw!!” It was the Boar’s Head brand with an image of a boar’s head on the package. This reminded her of the Arkansas Razorbacks, but she had forgotten the pronunciation of Arkansas and was calling it “Rock-in-saw.” We liked the ring of the new word, and we use it often now.

And, here’s our funny girl posing at the beach recently…




Summertime is the best. Most days I feel like I live in a children’s book or a fairy tale. Days filled with trips to the library, the zoo, the museum. I get to join in with my kiddos playing in the sprinkler, building sand castles at the beach, reading books, eating apple slices, having picnics in the backyard, and picking mulberries. As great as it is, it’s pretty non-stop. There are few quiet moments, and solitude is only a dream. Still, I know these days will pass quickly, and I’d rather treasure them than focus on the hard moments. I am thankful for this sweet life that I have as a momma of three little ones.

This first picture of the kids was an attempt at our “morning ritual” – getting out of the house first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, Simeon wasn’t interested in having his picture taken. 🙂















Josh instituted a lovely summer tradition of having a family breakfast and devotional time. Also, Lilia and I have been juicing every morning (see picture of our juice ingredients below). It’s helped us to start the day off right, which has been a huge blessing.

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Also, the big kids are playing t-ball!

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My Lilia Mercy is FIVE!

My head is spinning. I’m sure that last week she was only three, but somehow now she is FIVE! Five sounds so big – no longer a toddler and on the tail-end of preschooler. She’ll be headed off to kindergarten in the Fall. It is just too much. These early years fly by in the blink of a sleep-deprived eye. Every stage fully engages me – from sweet cuddles to learning new words to navigating disciplinary issues to reading together to learning to be independent – this job of parenting takes every ounce of me. And, in the mean time, these babies grow up!

Okay, enough sentimentalism…Lilia had a fabulous fifth birthday. Part one at Nana and Pop Pop was just perfect. And, part two was the result of Lilia’s creative planning. She wanted a party based on the book “The Underpants Zoo.” This is a book about zoo animals who wear underpants and then get ants in their underpants. Lilia requested that her guests do one small thing – wear an animal costume with underpants over it. Oh my….


There were a few moments in the party-planning process that will give you an idea about Lilia’s personality. Lilia found me hand writing invitations on small rectangle sheets of paper, and she said, “What are you doing, mom? I want them to be shaped like lions!” To which, I responded, “I don’t think I can do that sweetie. That sounds really hard to do. I’m not magic. I’m just a regular person!” Then she replied, “You’re not a regular person! You’re a MOM!” I found a way to make the invitations shaped like lions. I did not however sew pockets for money on the invitations, which was the other thing she really wanted me to do.

We decided on a breakfast party on Good Friday morning. School was out, and it seemed like a time everyone could make it. I felt a little strange doing a birthday party on such a somber holy day, but it was in the morning before the day’s remembrance began in full force. I tried to convince Lilia that we did not need a cake, perhaps we could just do banana muffins with cupcake toppers…Her answer, “No. It has to be a cake.” And then the calmly stated tagline: “Never gonna give up.” I prodded her later, “How about pancakes? Those are a type of cake. I could try to make yours look like a lion.” And, again, Lilia’s response: “It has to be a cake. Never gonna give up.” After laughing to myself several times, I decided to go with it. I’d set quite a few boundaries about the party, and I figured every kid wants cake at her party, right? I made the lion cake she prescribed, and I cut out underwear shapes out of fruit leather for the kids to “try on” the lion. They ended up gobbling up all the fruit leather before we got a picture…

underpantscakeJedidiah and Lilia actually got into party preparations like never before. It made me excited about party-planning with them in the future. They set up this underpants zoo of all their stuffed animals wearing underpants, and they made the underpants zoo sign…

underpants2At the party, we read the book together, then we ate breakfast (scrambled eggs & sausage & fruit & banana muffins). Then, the kids decorated plain white underwear with fabric crayons and fabric markers. Then, we played a game trying to catch “ants” (raisins) in underpants bowls (you can see the bowls in the picture above).


Then, we had cake and played outside in the backyard. It was a great time, and Lilia had such sweet friends there to celebrate with her!

underpants4Here are a few things about Lilia at age five:

  • Lilia is generous. She is constantly thinking of things to do for other people and gifts to make or food to share.
  • Lilia is administrative. She is good at organizing a group or helping people make a plan. She watches out for the younger kids around.
  • Lilia loves to learn about reading and writing and initiates lessons regularly.
  • Lilia is social. She loves to do playdates and hang out with friends.
  • Lilia loves wheels! She can ride a two-wheel bike like a champ. She is great on her new scooter. And, she is starting to get the hang of roller skates.
  • Lilia is always up for a project – cooking, painting, building, cleaning out a closet, mopping, making a fort – you name it. She gives me 30 plus ideas to work with every day. I can only handle saying yes to a few of them.
  • Lilia loves school and is super-excited about kindergarten.
  • Lilia is getting so tall and thin and beautiful. Her spunky personality, her sweet smile, her fun sense of style, and her creativity with words and ideas surprise us and humble us and melt us every day.

Lilia was a surprise to our family. We did not expect to have another baby in the middle of two moves and a big transition to a new part of the country. It was a hard couple of years. But, I am overwhelmed by what a gift she is to our family. She brings spunk and joy and creativity to our family every day. I praise God that He decided to surprise us with this gal. I cannot imagine life without her.





Pictures from Winter 2014


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The winter is a time to hibernate a bit – to stay inside more, to eat warm & nourishing foods, and to get a little more sleep. Still, there’s been a lot of activity and growing going on during this long winter. Here’s an update through photographs…


Simeon loves to say “water,” and he says it pretty well. He also says “cup.”


Unfortunately, he does not really care about drinking much water. He prefers to pour it on the ground or all over himself.


He also likes to play in water in the form of taking baths and “helping” wash dishes.






Simeon is a bath beggar and wants in the tub anytime anyone else is in the bath.


Lilia declared an “apple day” in the middle of winter, and wore her apple shirt with red and green tights and red and green hair rubber bands. We also made homemade apple juice.

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Visiting a new toy store in the neighborhood…


The kids took a gymnastics class together this winter, where they learned floor, vault, balance beam, and rings.



Jedidiah actually got the report of “best cartwheel in the class,” and he was recommended to do a higher level class next term (if he decides he wants to take it again).


Our friends Allan & Jeanne came over for a Sabbath meal and story time.



The big kids have enjoyed “camping out” on the floor of the room on weekend nights a few times this winter.


Lilia is full of craft ideas, as always.


Jedidiah draws and draws and draws. He creates characters and stories and new Pokemons…

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Simeon does that thing where he scoots back and squats to try to sit on things. I love that phase! He tries to sit on little stools and chairs, but he also tries to sit on small toys!

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Simeon in his plastic bag “boots.” Thanks for the great idea, mom!

And, we continue to brave the cold and snow and get out in the great outdoors as much as possible. Yesterday, Lilia and I went “ice-skating” on the huge sheets of ice at the park. But, ice is melting and spring is in the air! Today is the official first day of spring.

More Kid Quotes

Jedidiah: “My mouth is so hot that sometimes I don’t even need to chew – the food just starts melting!”


Lilia (after I grounded her from cooking for a few days for using ingredients without asking): “But, Mom! How can I not cook?!! I am a cook.”


Lilia (when I asked her where her friend Chen Wu (who doesn’t speak much English yet) is from): “I don’t know, but I’ll ask him. I can speak his language.”


Lilia (to our friend Jeanne): “I’m too good of a cook.”


Me (while on the phone): “Lilia, I need you to be a little queiter. I’m on the phone.”

Lilia (holding her play phone): “Well, I’m on the phone, too!”


Simeon likes words that end in the sound “oo.” He calls Josh “Dadoo.” He says “hold oo” when he wants us to pick him up. This morning he called the potty, “Pah-too.” And, when Lilia was talking about her friend Chen Wu, he said, “Chen-oo.” Unfortunately, the big kids have followed suit with the “oo” trend, and they are now calling me “Mom-oo.”

Kid Quotes

Jedidiah (after spending winter break in our very cold apartment): “School is so HOT! I can’t stand it!! Mom, it was so hot that I was ready for a frostbite!”
Lilia (riding in the cart at the grocery store with the shopping list propped up against her torso): “Look, Mom! I’m your weasel!” (She meant easel, in case you didn’t catch that.) She spent much of the rest of our time (just the two of us) at the grocery store saying things like, “Your weasel is hungry!” or “Your weasel wants to buy THAT!” I chose not to correct her…
Jedidiah (in an existential mood & a bit of a whiny voice): “I don’t even know if I want to be a grown-up. But, I don’t know if I want to be a kid, either…”

Lilia (very upbeat): “Do you wanna be a COWGIRL?!”

A few of Simeon’s new words….

  • “Hold oo” – means “hold you” – when he wants us to hold him
  • “Go home”
  • “I love you”
  • “Heart”
  • “Ears”
  • “Eyes”
  • “Nose”
  • “Shoes”
  • “Hot”
  • “Night Night”