AWANA Awards Night

Tonight was Elias’ AWANA awards night. We got to celebrate all of the hard work all of the kiddos have done memorizing their verses throughout the year. We’ve been so thankful for this program and the leaders who have made it possible. Elias attended AWANA at Harvest Community Church, down the street from our house. They were so welcoming even though it is not our home church. Elias loved it and was very excited to go each week. I think he doesn’t realize he has to wait all the way to September to go again even though I’ve tried to explain it.

Our evening started with a yummy dinner. Elias even tried some watermelon. Of course…he gagged on it, but he went back in for more. It was quite surprising, but stranger things have happened.

After dinner, there were fun games and activities. There was a prize wheel, lots of play structures, a bouncy house, and more. We waited in the balloon line for a long time. Elias asked for a hat. He got quite an interesting one! An alien hat.

P1220078 P1220079After games and fun was the award ceremony. The cubbies started out by reciting their key verse, “God loved us and sent His son.” Here is Elias up in front:

P1220084Then individual awards were given out. Elias received patches for his vest, a certificate, and a special ribbon for completing every verse in his book.

P1220088 P1220090We are proud, and he is proud of himself. What fun!

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We’ll Give You Three Guesses…..

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The Necklace

Being a mother of two boys, I often think about the qualities I want to see develop in them as they grow up. I do a lot of teaching and modeling based on these certain qualities as probably all parents do.

For example, I choose curiosity over knowledge. I choose perseverance over talent. Faith over intelligence. Kindness over strength. Compassion over wealth or power.

It’s hard being the mother of boys and having these qualities as my priorities. Almost everything in our world tells boys and men that they should be strong. They should be intelligent and powerful. If not, they are weak. They are lesser somehow. There is a lot of bad media out there for girls. But there is a lot of uplifting, empowering media for girls too. There is a movement of sorts and it is getting a lot of attention. Little boys don’t have this. They are inundated with superheroes and power and strength. And there is no movement that tells them it is ok to be kind and compassionate too. Men are portrayed as strong or dumb. That is pretty much it.

But I try to teach them even at 4 and 2 years old that kindness, compassion, faith, and all of these qualities will make them stronger men in the long run. Look at Jesus, after all. He may have been considered weak in the sense that he refused to fight physically. He offered kindness and compassion to all he encountered. He turned the world upside down. That’s what I’d like to do for my sons too.

What is a strong man, really? I’d argue it is not the one who exerts his power at every chance. It’s not the one to which everything comes easily.

I do think it’s possible to have both. Just look at my boys’ father. He has curiosity and knowledge. Perseverance and talent. Faith and intelligence. Kindness and strength. But still I would say as I interact with my sons each day, I hope to see the former in each pair.

All this is just a preface to the fact that my son made me a necklace today. He actually made quite a few necklaces.

Yesterday at his art class, the teacher had a bunch of beads laying out with string so the kids could practice those fine motor skills and have a fun keepsake to take home. Elias loved his necklace. However, during quiet time, he proceeded to take all of the beads back off and completely unravel/fray the string. He didn’t quite understand why we couldn’t put them back on.

Today while Elias was at school, I went to the store to buy some appropriate string. While we were there, I decided to purchase some beads as well since he loved the activity and I am always looking for rainy day fun.

When I picked him up from school, I told him that I had bought the string and the beads and that he could make his necklace when we got home. The only thing I said was that he could make necklaces for other people too if he wanted. I think I suggested Ama and Nana and said he could even give them to friends if he wanted. I didn’t coach him any more than that.

When it was time for necklaces making, Elias excitedly sat down, chose his beads and his string, and announced that he was going to make a necklace for his Ama. He carefully chose each bead, and made me try it on to make sure it could fit. When it was finished, he rushed in to choose more beads. This time he announced he would make one for great-grandma. He made a special pattern of stars for her.

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Next, he choose the bowl of beads with letters on them and told me he was going to make a necklace for me. At first he looked through the beads and said he would make me a pattern too. Then he looked around some more and picked just two beads. I thought he had gotten tired of the activity and I was getting the short end of the stick for being the last necklace created. However, he strung those two beads, held it up to me and said, “Here Mommy! E for Elias and S for Simon!”

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This just touched my heart so much. Not only did he create a gift for me, but he created one with meaning. A gift from his heart. It tells me that despite all of the things I do wrong as a mother, some good is getting through too. I’m not sure why this necklace illustrates this so strongly for me. It just does. I am going to treasure it for…well probably forever. And if you see me sporting a piece of string with two beads, now you’ll know why.

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Ahhh, Spring.

I’ve got my own little piece of paradise right here. And I didn’t even have to leave home. The sky is blue and the sun is shining, but I am in the backyard where it stays cool in the afternoon shade. The birds are performing their sonnets, there is the slight background noise of traffic, and every once in a while, the wind chimes add their tones to the mix.

I am barefoot and looking out on the tulips I planted last fall. Even the grass looks nice because my husband worked hard this weekend. The boys are playing joyfully…remembering what it is like to be outside for a pleasant afternoon. I could get used to this. Of course…I don’t really look at weather forecasts very often so for all I know today could be the last nice day. Or maybe we’ll have a whole week more. I have no idea, and that makes me enjoy it all the more.

And now for the part that most of my readers are probably looking for. What are the boys up to? We played basketball on the lawn last night. We discovered it was a lot more fun than keeping the hoop cooped up inside. However there was one glitch…if a ball rolls under the deck, it is very difficult to extract. (Hence the reason Nathan had grass on his back still when we entertained friends for dinner).

P1220023This morning after art class, I asked the boys if they would rather go to a park or go home to play. They chose to go home and play with the water table. Nathan and I made the mistake of leaving it outside in the backyard…all winter. So let’s just say I had some cleaning to do. The thing was gross. However, in about 15 minutes I had it and a reasonable amount of toys in usable condition. The rest of the toys will have to wait for another day.

The boys had a blast playing in the morning sun even though the hose water is freezing! They soaked themselves and each other. They giggled with glee and screamed with delight. They played pretend fishing games and splashed and “watered the lawn so flowers would grow…..”

It’s days like these that I want to remember.

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Seed Planting!

It was another beautiful weekend, and while we did not get outside as much as I would have liked, I got in a few solid hours of weeding, and this evening we did seed planting with the boys. Elias is very excited to watch the seedlings grow. He was explaining to me that they would not do anything for a few days. I’m glad he knows what to expect.

Here are the boys filling our jiffy pots with soil:

P1210798Simon was very excited to “play” with the dirt, and to do the watering. When it came time for actual planting, he had zero interest. At only two, that is ok. I’m glad he was involved at least at the beginning! Here are the boys getting water for the soil, and adding water.

P1210801 P1210802Finally we got to do the actual planting. We planted cucumbers, squash, watermelon, broccoli, african daisies, peppers, tomato, spinach, pumpkin, coleus, and morning glories. Elias and Simon chose all the seeds…I had nothing to do with it. Elias loved poking the little holes and adding the seeds. (Yes that is me wearing pajama pants…it’s Sunday afternoon. Don’t judge.)

P1210804Now all we have to do is wait for them to grow!

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In Which The Boys Hold Their Cousin

Now that baby James is over a month old, I’ve been talking up things like “singing to James” or “sitting next to James” or “hugging James” with both of the boys. They have both talked about their cousin a lot. Simon walks around holding the baby doll and calls it James. But neither of the boys has shown much interest in actually interacting with him much.

Tonight was our turn to bring dinner, and Aunty Kristy wanted to try to get some cousin shots, so I really turned on the “sit with baby James” burner. And it worked! Elias was very excited to sit with me and James, and then eventually wanted to hold James himself. Eventually, Simon followed suit since he wants to do everything Elias does. This provided us with many cute photo ops, and many very sweet moments between the boys. Both Elias and Simon did really well holding James. They were gentle and loving. Elias wanted to hold James over and over. I almost felt like I had to fight for my baby time.

Elias’ first time holding James.

P1210777He was so proud.

P1210779He got in some kisses too:

P1210782Simon was curious.

P1210784Cousins!

P1210790Matching binkis!

P1210791After dinner, Elias wanted another turn.

P1210794It was very heartwarming and fun to see the boys interact with their baby cousin. We never really got to do this when Simon was born so I’m glad the boys are getting to get close to their cousin when he is so young!

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Our Annual Tulip Trek

Today we headed down to Woodburn for our 4th annual visit to the tulip fields. Every year I go it is as beautiful as ever, and I am always in awe. I don’t think I could ever go too many times! The boys had a lot of fun looking at the tulips as well. The weather held up pretty well for us, and the sun even showed its face at times. Since it rained the night before, though, we had to slog through a lot of mud, and the boys were pretty much completely brown by the end.

When we first reached the tulip fields, Elias raced to this row of bright reds, and immediately began smelling them.

P1210677So it was no surprise to see what Simon just had to do:

P1210682Actually, it was kind of funny because Simon was blowing on the flowers like candles instead of sniffing them. Close enough, right?

After walking a few rows we came across this awesome tractor, and each of the boys took a turn driving it. Simon kept saying, “I need a push!” Sorry bud…that thing is not moving!

P1210686 P1210692Next we had a lot of fun in some rows of yellow. The boys each sniffed (or blew on) a lot of flowers.

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We also tried to get some posed shots, but getting those is tougher than trying to dress an octopus. Here was the best I could do:

P1210704 P1210705It’s fun to see how the sheer amount of flowers along with the beauty of it all even entrances the little ones. They loved exploring the rows.

P1210714A brief sun spot!

P1210718This was my favorite this year. Maybe I’ll have to order some bulbs for our garden!

P1210721This proves Nathan and I were there too!

P1210745After walking through all those rows and colors (and mud) we let the boys play around for a bit.

P1210761The wind was pretty chilly, though, so the boys started complaining of the cold. Before we left, we decided to take them on the cow train for fun.

P1210768 P1210772After the ride, Elias stood up and said to me, “That was the best thing I’ve ever done!”

Well…I’m sure glad we spent the $6 for it then!

It was a great time at the tulip fields!

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Deep and Wide

I’ve been singing Bible songs to the boys since before they were born, and there have been a few that are their favorites. However, their most recent favorite is not my doing, but comes from Sunday School. We have a different version of this song on our Bible Songs CD, but you can tell the boys love Sunday School because they chose the Sunday School version.

The boys sing this song all the time at home, and Simon even sings it on his own which is a rare treat. Simon has never been quite as in to singing as Elias has always been. I asked the boys to sing “Deep and Wide” for the camera, and they obliged. (Also a rare treat).

Note for viewers if you choose to watch…they boys are in no way coordinated in their singing of the lyrics so it may help just to listen to one of them at a time. Although, you could just watch it and bask in the cuteness too if you like.

Just in case, here are the lyrics:

Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

 

So there you have it…the Smith boys’ rendition of “Deep and Wide.” Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries before they could finish the song, but I assure you it was very cute the whole way through.

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Another Fun Family Night

Late in the afternoon, Nathan returned home from his consultation about his shoulder, and Elias announced that he wanted to go to the adventure park. We decided to start our family night a little early and got in the car. I’m not sure why he named the park on the corner of 158th and Walker Rd the adventure park, but both boys have a lot of fun every time we go there.

Today they had a lot of fun in the “chair swing” as we call it.

P1210631The proudest achievement of the afternoon, though, was Elias learning how to do the monkey bars. I’ve tried teach him many times, but with Simon running around, climbing, and teetering on the edge of the play structure, I am just too nervous and don’t have the time to devote to it. With Nathan there today, he was able to spend a little time with Elias, and in no time he was working those monkey bars like a pro. He was very proud, and when I whipped out the camera, he happily crossed them over and over so I could take pictures. I will spare you the vast multitude, and just post two of them.

P1210641 P1210647I’m not sure who was more proud…Elias for finally being able to do it, or Nathan for being the one to teach him.

Simon had to show his daring as well, and showed off his climbing skills on the big structure.

P1210637Unfortunately, after about an hour the rain started coming down pretty hard, and even with the structures being undercover, we decided to head home. Besides, it was time for dinner!

After dinner, our family night continued with the boys’ first viewing of The Sound of Music. I have to say, it was one of the most magical moments I’ve experienced in a long time, all lined up on the couch with the boys. The show came on….Julie Andrews belted out “The Hills Are Alive…” amongst the stunning backdrop of green…and the boys were riveted.

Elias actually said, “Beautiful!” Just that one word. And he really meant it. That’s my boy!

We only made it 53 minutes in before bedtime, but the boys enjoyed many laughs, and Elias was particularly delighted to hear “These are a Few of My Favorite Things,” which his Ama taught him years ago.

Another great family night in the books!

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Why Can’t I Get Anything Done Around Here?

I’ll be the first one to tell you that being a stay-at-home-mom can wear you out like nobody’s business. (I also am a working mom for five weeks every summer and know that is tiring as well) But I still find myself wandering around my home wondering why I can’t get anything done. Why are there piles of (clean and unclean) laundry? Why does my piano look like I haven’t dusted it for three weeks? (Probably because I haven’t) Why does my bathroom mirror have streaks all over it. (Because the boys like to do soap art on it the first hand wash after it is cleaned…but that is a different story).

I mean….I do spend a lot of time chauffeuring boys around to school, swimming lessons, play dates, volunteer meetings, and other such important activities. But I also spend a lot of time at home. Why does it seem like I just can’t get anything done?

Well…if you don’t already know the answer, I think I’ve found my culprits. The other day after lunch, I spent about thirty minutes cleaning the table, mopping the floor, doing the dishes, and generally surface cleaning the kitchen. It was nice and sparkling. The boys were playing happily together. It was a blissful few minutes.

The boys decided they wanted to color so I got out some paper and some crayons, and decided to go upstairs to get a load of laundry while they were creating their masterpieces. When I came back downstairs a few minutes later, (Seriously…like 3 minutes…how long does it take to load a dirty laundry basket?) I found little piles like this all over the table and floor where I had just cleaned a few minutes before:

P1210587I don’t know how he de-papered so many crayons in so short of time. He must have been trying to break the Guinness book of world records or something. And as you can see in the picture below, he had even colored on the paper before he started creating these lovely piles. Look at that face. So focused on getting the paper off of that crayon!

P1210590So there you have it. There are two little munchkins in my house who just cannot stand a clean space I guess. They follow me around and de-tidy the areas I have just cleaned. They are good helpers (most of the time) and I make them help clean up unnecessary messes like these that they’ve made. But still….this took precious time. Next time you come over to my house, don’t judge the un-dusted piano!

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