Friday, December 19, 2008

Travel Girl

One of the things on our 'to-do' list before this Christmas isn't the typical shopping or baking, but preparing to return to Africa in January.
Our kids love to have their own carry-ons and put them in the security 'machine' just like all the big people in the airport. They are already talking about how much fun the escalators and moving sidewalks will be! I really wanted to find them rolling backpacks, and finally found ones I liked AND could afford. James insisted on red/gray for he and Joel, and there was one pink/gray one left for Anna.

They tried them on and Anna hasn't grown into hers yet. =) She insisted on wearing it instead of rolling it, and almost fell backwards! =) This would be the cutest picture if I had any aim!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A new look

I had fun playing with free blog backgrounds, but let me know if this new look is overwhelming. There weren't any with 'feet' for a theme other than baby feet, and we're just about past those...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mr. James

This is one of my favorite pictures of James as a baby. There are many, but this little balcony in our flat in France was where he spent his entire first summer crawling and learning to walk. This quizzical look and drooly chin are so precious... especially in retrospect. He's wearing a baseball onesie that my baby brother wore in the 70's and I think it is still cute!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Puddle Jumpers - the best part of fall...

His & Hers Birthdays

As you probably know, birthdays are more of a 'season' than a particular day in our house. We don't have lots of fanfare, but thought I should at least give credit to my Mom for the scrumptious peppermint ice-cream pie (pictured above). I think it's technical name is "Fudge Ribbon Pie" and originally included meringue, but Mom has perfected it over the years and blessed us with a taste on our last-minute trip north. YUM! Thank you! You may see all three children standing around me like vultures over fresh meat... =)

I so seldom take pictures of Kent, but here is his shining face holding up some of his birthday presents (which included, of course, a Beavers hat). The kids all needed to take turns wearing it, and for some reason also wanted to be in a picture holding up some of Dad's presents...

Welcome to our family. This is SO typical (no, there are no ethereal beings in our house: James and Anna smile cheesy smiles and Joel jumps and jives in one place. My camera wasn't set right and it made Joel into a blur, but it's so fitting for a little guy who's always loved to be on the move! Voila, the birthday summary!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A singular holiday

Here is James as 'Superman' (homemade edition), Anna as a ballerina (saying 'soff dess!' 'pitty dess!' - soft, pretty dress), and Joel as 'Super Police Joel'. The kids have never had any exposure to costumes for Halloween as it is not a holiday overseas. Last year they were more or less oblivious, but this year they liked the idea of dressing up. We took them to a local mall to gather a bit of candy and visited a few friend's houses. We are usually busy celebrating Mom's birthday or Reformation Day, but this year we squeezed in a taste of trick-or-treating, as they will not have the opportunity for the next few years.

We have a family tradition of carefully savoring piles of candy for months on end, and one family member who shall remain nameless is often seen digging out candy 5 months later... So I feel somewhat accomplished ot say we finished off our little sandwich bags of candy this year already! =) No Halloween candy in February for us!

In case you like candy as much as I do, M&M's and Sweetarts seemed to be the valued favorites due to the fact that there are many brightly colored candies in a one-serving package! Melts in your mouth...

Sunday, November 9, 2008


"Man" (with hat) by Joel, age 4
I just have to comment here that I'm very impressed with Joel so far this year in 'preschool' (at home). Up until September 1 he was not interested in drawing or coloring at all and just scribbled violently. He's a boy, so fine-motor skills are not naturally easy at this age, and he's on the kinesthetic side and drawing just means sitting or standing in one place for him. But after we did the 'mat man' unit in Handwriting Without Tears (HWT), which involves building the shapes with wooden pieces and singing a song (musical boy loves that!), he got very interested in drawing people. We haven't moved on too much and are focusing on writing numbers for a while.

"The City" by James, age 5 1/2
James painted this city including lights that are on and off in the big office buildings like he's seen so often in downtown Seattle.

Our walls were pretty empty in this rental, so I had the kids paint their own. Can you guess who painted which one?We did't have warm blankets for the winter because we've always rented furnished places or lived in warm climates, so when we settled in here I was buying tons of stuff at estate sales and second hand stores. I picked up two of these crocheted blankets for $4! I don't know if the lady who made them was using up the ends of lots of her yarn, or intended them to have every color imaginable, but it works for a kids room. And everyone stays warm! It is these small ways that I see God providing for us even for temporary needs. He is so good to us.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Tribute to Grandma Pittsley

Pictured here with her youngest great-grandchild, Anna, about one year ago.

1919 - 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Star Wars Library Storybook Birthday Party

We went thrifty this year with a storybook birthday party at home.
James and Joel and Dad organized a puppet show called 'The Tortoise, the Hare and the Porcupine' to entertain guests and Mom sewed the red curtain. Grandma, Grandpa, Dad and Mrs. Parker were roped into reading picture books from the library - and they did a wonderful job.
James really wanted a Star Wars party. That is really not my thing. I was hoping he might change his mind, but alas. I tried. =) We had an X-wing fighter on top of the cake and theme table setting (including the all-essential yoda napkins). The only still pictures I have are of the cake blowing moment, sorry.

The kids are all getting into their lego ships and Star Wars toys now, and Anna can say 'Yoda'. She was my only hope.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Birthday James!

A few hours ago James officially turned 6! Born just in time for church at 9:17 in the morning on Reformation Sunday (like his Mom) weighing 7 lbs and half an ounce. He has traveled a lot since then. He celebrated his first birthday in the French Alps, second in Cameroon (West Africa), third and fourth in Kenya (East Africa), and now fifth and sixth in Oregon. Our extreme devotion to trains has recently given way to a love for Star Wars, so he had an X-wing fighter on his cake this year, but party picks will come later. First, a celebration of our little engineer growing up in pictures:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hand-pressed organic apple cider = FUN!

A couple days ago some friends invited us to join in their annual fall tradition of hand-pressing apple cider - yum! The kids had a wonderful time at a beautiful location, and we all soaked in the last of fresh apples for a while (apples are few and far between where we are going). So follow in pictures the picking, snacking, washing, chopping, pressing and tasting!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pumpkin patch: Field of Beanbags

The leaves are declaring the glory of the Lord recently - turning all sorts of gorgeous colors! This can only mean one thing: Autumn in upon us! I must give up the denial when the nights are 45 degrees! Our playgroup recently had a fun visit to the pumpkin patch. I ran out the door after rushing through a homeschool morning a bit frantically and forgot the camera (typical). Thankfully my friends were willing and very able stand in photographers - thank you Gretchen and Davina! Anna can now say 'punkin', but mostly wanted to sit on the big ones.

They each picked their favorite pumpkin.
James' was perfectly round and without blemish
(Mr. Attention to Detail / Fan of Perfectionists).

Joel's was a slightly yellow-orange tilting a bit to the side and kind of long and thin
(Mr. Wacky / Fan of the Underdog).

Anna's was small, round, orange, slightly marred on one side, but it's what her Mom picked out for her (it was also close to the hay-bail wagon-tractor thing) and she's not old enough to be picky or carry her own! =) Walking in rain boots across a bumpy field was excitement enough, I mean let's be realistic here! Apparently, the pumpkin patch looked like a field of beanbags to her - the perfect seat!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dancing with Dad

No super exciting news. Anna continues to amaze me as she grows up faster than her brothers did. She's decided to potty-train herself this past week, which has been fairly smooth so far. She talks lots and gives lots of 'tisses' (her 'k' is 't' for now). I can't help but wonder (and pray) about how well she'll adjust to returning to Africa - her birthplace that she remembers not. The boys at least have a few familiar favorites to look forward to. Pumpkin patch pics coming soon!

So here's yet another picture for no special occasion - just for you Kris & Kaitlyn! (I saw that you check our blog everyday - someone in your country, and I only know you guys =)! - so I'll do more random posting as I can. xo)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You can't catch me! I'm the Gingerbread Man!

Today in language arts we read the "Gingerbread Man", and in Science we've been doing body parts and senses, so our closing activity was making gingerbread cookies (with a handy low-sugar recipe). We decorated with sunflower seeds and raisins and had a great time cutting/rolling and eating! As we peeked in the oven, Joel said, "Close the door quick! Before he runs away!" Here the boys show off their men before eating them (noting James' has a little hat).
Anna is ever the toddler wanna-be student. Pictured here decapitating her gingerbread man... and he was never seen again! =)

Joel now has the cheesy camera smile. I love it. We've read several versions of this story and few of them include the original ending of the gingerbread man being eaten by the fox. It is a great way to talk about how 'pride comes before a fall'. My boys can handle the gory details. And we have extra cookies for snacktime tomorrow - yum!

So far homeschool has been lots of work and lots of fun!

Apple Girl

One last pre-bangs Anna shot. She LOVES her 'appo'!

Viva la Congo

We just found a fun video from where we work, and want to share it with you. It was created by a brother coming to visit one of our colleagues (his sister) a few months ago. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


One of the most fun things about younger siblings is how they refer to their older brother/sister. I'm told my brother gave up entirely on trying to say 'Kimberly' and renamed me 'Eh' (or 'A') for a while. =) It didn't last too long, but it makes for fun family folklore! (Love you John!)

We have always called James, James. When Joel was born we nicknamed him 'Joelie'. Once he could talk for himself (which was shortly thereafter =)) he started calling his brother 'Jamesie'. I guess it's only fair. This fit our African context well, because at the time we were living in a Bantu area where languages are mostly CV (consonant-vowel) and Joel became 'jowele' and James became 'jamese' (pronouncing every vowel like Spanish does). Even at 4 and 6, Joel still calls his brother Jamesie affectionately.

So, in steps Anna. Joel has always been very much a playmate as soon as she could smile and coo, so her first sibling referent was 'Dobey' for 'Joelie'. Joel loved it and I think it's cute. She can now also say 'Joel' (with most of the dark 'l'), but still chooses 'Dobey' or 'Dovey' [long o] quite often. Since James started therapy and relates much more happily with his sister now, she's dubbed him 'Namey', which must come from Joel's original 'Jamesie'. She's still honing her verbal abilities and can call James 'Jabey' now, which he likes a bit better than 'Namey'.

So for the time being we have 'Jabey, Dobey and Eena'. As linguists, we have so much fun with the process of first language acquisition, watching their mouths and minds working on language all day long! As I said, fun family folklore, at least to me!


I realize now that I haven't blogged at all about the exciting turns life is taking for James lately. He has been in therapy for about a month (after about 2 years of treatment by physicians for encopresis). He loves going to 'Colleen's' on Wednesdays, and we love that he's happier kid all around! It has been great for us to pinpoint misunderstandings with him and meet more of his needs, and while we don't hope for a magical cure, we have seen physical signs of progress. If you'd like details on his situation, please feel free to Email us. For James' sake, I'll not be blogging about him in that kind of detail. =)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Touchdown on the runway

The dust is still settling here in our new place in Eugene, but after passing the one-week mark in the same bed we are soaking in a bit more stability. I haven't hung the clock or made my cookies yet (see below), but we are getting there. We are stocked and almost ready for school to begin Monday (the kids learned to sharpen pencils on their own today, and Joel's is already half gone! =)), and the closets are only 4 boxes away from unpacked. The kids have a backyard with sandbox that they really love too!

I have a moving tradition: chocolate chip cookies. Have you ever noticed that missionaries rarely if ever have an 'open house' for moving to a new place? What would you give them anyway? It would have to fit in a suitcase, right? So every time I move I have a little 'open house' party for myself! =) This declares (at least internally) that I am settled and 'home' for that season anyway. I figure that a kitchen stocked with all the necessary ingredients for making cookies is deemed FUNCTIONAL (enough for me). And a yummy smell to warm the house and caffeine in chocolate are just side benefits. James is pretty excited about this tradition.

I finally found the camera cord and took some pictures, but you will still have to wait for more pictures. To sum it up, yes, we are feeling more settled in, but not quite unpacked yet which is why I'm calling this 'touchdown on the runway' like the arrival of an airplane flight, we have landed, but not arrived at the gate.

I've decided I want to try what Jessica has done and post some funny kid quotes, so enjoy!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Transition, my old friend

There really will be pictures coming of our lovely time at the coast, kids enjoying our new van, etc. I'm not even sure where the camera cable is... in some box somewhere. Yes, we are back to life in a suitcase (or suitcases, laundry baskets and many boxes in our case). We are house-sitting for a rural pastor while we search for a place to rent.

Yesterday Joel asked, "Where is our home?" and for the first time had to explain that we didn't have one. It was a good time to talk about our eternal home in heaven that can never burn down or grow old, but that didn't alleviate his fears that his new toy Mac truck would know where to go to find us tomorrow morning. =)

I've never lived 'out in the country' having been raised in a large city with over 1 million people. It's so beautiful and peaceful with so much room for the kids to run and play, and we are loving it most of the time. And then I need to just run down to the grocery store.

Oh yeah, the nearest grocery store is not just around the corner anymore Toto. =)

Bear with us a couple days and we'll get a real address and be back to the blogosphere with all that free time! =)

Monday, August 11, 2008

When it rains, it pours.

Sorry for failing to show our cool pictures of James and Joel swimming their little hearts out in lessons or of Anna trying to run or drink from a cup by herself. She's cut her eye teeth and now insists on flossing like her brothers. She LOVES to talk on the 'ome' (phone)!

Saturday was a crazy day of driving around, visiting friends, managing kids (Joel and Anna - James was off reeling in his second catch on a fishing trip with Dad!)... I'm headed home (1 hr. freeway trip) when the van chugs out of cruise control and starts to lose power. I turn off cruise control and try to regain speed only to find that I am losing ground fast. Quick check to the rearview mirror tells me I need to get off the road fast. Just when I'm pulling over (now at about 40mph) there is an exit to a rest area. Alleluia!! I chug into the first parking spot (originally intended for semi trucks, but who cares?) and the van refuses to move another inch. No smoke. No lights. No earlier problems. Fluids are fine. No dripping or smells.

I found out why roadside assistance is worth every penny we pay our insurance company. They were more than wonderful showing up in the middle of nowhere in 42 min. - not that I was counting... We were guessing transmission problem, and sure enough it was! I had no idea that repairing a transmission could ever cost half the value of a decent car. Anyway, this all happened the night before we were due to speak in two cities on the same Sunday (morning and evening), so we borrowed a very well-seasoned car, to put it nicely, and made it to both, however frazzled. All the excitement of the weekend has not left much time for picture-taking...

Maybe tomorrow... but we're off for vacation at the coast this weekend - yes!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


"Cheerios and blueberries in yogurt - yum!

I can eat by myself with a spoon!

Ooh look! There's more in the bib!"

"Forget the spoon!"