Friday, September 26, 2008

My China Doll

Actually, this is Luke, NOT my China doll :) But he was too cute not to include. There's my China doll below, in the pink, making Moon Cakes with her Chinese class teacher, lau shi Wang (blue ponytail), to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. We have several Chinese members at church who have come through the Let's Start Talking program that is offered. We also have several families who have adopted from China in the last few years. Two of the Chinese families decided to offer a beginning Chinese class for children on Sunday afternoons and Madeline jumped at the chance. She's always been very interested in China and seems to have inherited her mama's love of languages, so this has been a great fit for her. They now are using a book and are really buckling down and learning a lot. Even drawing characters and such. I am so impressed by the teachers and also the students who are working hard to learn a language that is COMPLETELY different than anything they've ever known. It's a beautiful culture and fascinating language...but this is about Madeline! So the class gathered at the home of one of the teachers to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival together. You can read about this and the Moon Cakes they're making by following the links above. They were surprisingly (they're made from bean paste, but are sweet) delicious!

Here's Madeline with her twin, Jenna. When you're in elementary school, wearing the same shirt (yay Target) is a good thing! Here they are working hard. I had to make Maddy give other people a turn. She loved this. They use a special kind of wooden mold to press the cakes and then bang it to get it out. She really enjoyed that part :)


Angie, Luke and Jenna

Jack the Science Kid

Before her return to Honduras, Dani treated Jack, Luke and Mommy to a trip to the Adventure Science Center. There was a demonstration starting just as we got there, so Jack got to see his Spiderman tshirt up close and personal under a microscope shown on the tv screen. It was a little over his head, but he did enjoy the gack she showed us how to make.

I love the Sit-N-Stand stroller I bought off craigslist! It is the easiest stroller to push that I've ever had (and this is the 4th, not counting umbrella strollers!). Jack loves being able to sit but not be in a "baby seat", plus there is plenty of room for his big long legs. Luke has since graduated to sitting in the regular stroller seat without his carrier. Speaking of which, if I can get the carseat cleaned up, I'm moving him into the regular rear-facing seat because I hate the carrier, especially when your baby weighs 20ish pounds! Luke was very interested in the sights and sounds. The video is him talking to the dinosaurs. Everytime they would start roaring, he would do this. I kept thinking he was upset (and by this time he was starting to get tired, but he was doing the same thing even earlier), but he was only doing this when he heard the dinos! He does love to communicate.
video

One of Jack's favorite parts was an area where he got to put on a labcoat and pretend to be Dr. Jack. He is a fan of playing doctor/dentist/vet, so this was right up his alley. Here he is taking his temp... ...and checking out his ears...
...and giving him a shot with an abnormally large syringe...
Luke was plumb tuckered out
This was Jack's absolute favorite part of the visit. There was a giant mouth with teeth that moved up and down. The goal was to throw the food (balls) into the mouth. It was pretty far away and he made about 472 attempts before he finally made a shot! Some big kids showed up on a field trip and he stayed right in there with them. Sometimes it pays to be the 3rd in a family of rowdy kids :-) I think Santa may be bringing him a basketball goal of some kind this year...he may not be the best, but he had LOTS of fun!!
This was in the preschool playroom. He walked over to the board and instead of using the shapes to create something, he started organizing them by shape and color. The ADD got the better of the OCD and he didn't finish his task. He does like order and organization. The Magic School Bus is one of our favorite book/video series. The boys especially LOVE it.

Jack was "not" scared of the dinosaurs. He is only posing for this picture because it is in front of the baby Triceratops. He tried to be brave about the T-Rex that was there, but it was obvious that he did not 100% believe that he was not real. There was just that little bit of doubt that meant he could not take his eyes off him for long. As Jared says, When there is doubt, there is no doubt. No doubt, tough little Jack was nervous!

Thanks, Dani, for a fun day!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Baxter Dinner at Brentwood Hills

My daddy (President of Association Amicus--Baxter Institute and JMA Clinic) spoke to a group of supporters about the great work going on at Baxter and the Clinic. I'm so proud of the work he and mom are doing there, and so thankful to be a part of a church that is so connected with that work and so supportive of it. I love it when things I love come together!

Rare pacifier picture of Luke. He's not been a fan for a while now, but it did the trick this night (I'm sure his Dani holding him had NOTHING to do with it!). Notice how he took the pacifier out himself...he loves that hand in his mouth!

Dani enjoyed some cuddle time with big little Luke I'm so thankful that Mom has been able to spend so much time here with us this summer. She really deserves her own post...hope to get to that one of these days, but it will take a LOT of emotional energy to say all that I really want and need to say about her! I'm so glad she's gotten to really bond with Luke. I know she's looking forward to bonding with another grandbaby in the spring, too!!
Madeline is such a good entertainer for her little brother. I was concerned she was at an age (almost 9 years age difference) where she is over babies. But she is great with him! She has been (and continues to be) a wonderful big sister to all of her little minions, I mean brothers! She can be a little *ahem* bossy (no clue where she got that, right?!), but she helps keep things moving at the Smalling house! "Little Mama", I call her. (Also Tattlin' Madeline, Mad Maddy, Maa-Maa, Princesita, Mads, Coconut, Melanita, Little Girl, Jean-Jean, Little Woman...)

Madeline gets her due...

Two days in a row, I got very similar pictures of Madeline Jean:


(yes, we were sitting still at a stoplight in the car pictures)
Can't you just hear the "Mo-om!" She likes to pretend that she doesn't like the attention, but we all know she loves Mom's obnoxious documentation of every stinkin' little thing :) I love this girl!
**Even more Madeline pictures to come, I promise! The Chinese book in her lap is a clue!**

We're boycotting September...

If we had the money, I might seriously go crawl in a hole for the entire month of September next year. Granted, it would be a well-appointed hotel room preferably on the Caribbean with unlimited spa access and massage services. But still. You get my point. Calgon take me away.
I know that it's so immature of me to just want to run away. I know it's not all about me. Jared's the one who's endured the funerals of both his daughter and father in this same month. I'm just feeling a little immature right now. So there. September stinks.

To be fair, there are some good things that have happened, too. Like big fat ooshy-squooshy baby Lukiness playing hide-and-seek with his burpy...

...and hilariously precious (or is it preciously hilarious?) Noah-boy who goes to a hibachi place and orders chicken nuggets and fries (he is not my child!)...
...and cute and curious Wacky Jack being mesmerized (along with Uncle David, apparently!) by the entire hibachi experience...
...and that cute happy couple over there who are getting a little practice in before they enjoy their own little bundle o' joy in April...
...and my handsome fella who looks innocent enough...
...until he realizes there's attention to be paid him!
Yep, it's been a pretty rough month overall. We are struh-guh-ling to see God's plan. But I think this one's got it pretty well figured out (728B-style, for you CoCers)...
If the skies above you are gray, You are feeling so blue,
If your cares and burdens seem great all the whole day through,
There's a silver lining that shines in the heavenly land,
Look by faith and see it my friend, Trust in His promises grand.
Often we are troubled and tried, Sick with sorrow and pain,
There are others living in sin blest with earthly gain,
Take new courage we cannot tell what the morrow may bring,
When the dark clouds vanish away then your heart truly can sing.
Oft we fail the see the rainbow up in heaven's fair sky,
When it seems the fortunes of earth frown and pass us by,
There are things we know that are worth more the silver and gold,
If we hope and trust Him each day, We shall have pleasure untold.
Sing and you'll be happy today, Press along to the goal,
Trust in Him who leadeth the way, He is keeping your soul,
Let the world know where you belong, Look to Jesus and pray,
Lift your voice and praise Him in song, Sing and Be Happy Today!
**For the record, I realize I did not include Madeline here, only because I do not have pictures of her or Mom at the hibachi place. They both make me very very happy and have been HUGE blessings to me this month especially. I have some cute pictures of Madeline for another post, so I promise, she will not be left out!!**

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fun times

Luke has not yet officially become a thumb-sucker. In fact, it's looking more like he may be a 2-finger-sucker. Jack was a confirmed thumb-sucker by this age, but Luke just likes to suck/chew on any part of his hand. He will NOT take a pacifier, but there really are not many times that he seems to need "comfort measures".
Luke is a pretty content kid, as you would expect #4 to be. He likes to be up watching and squealing at the other kids, or whatever else is happening, but he is a good sleeper, and generally pretty happy as long as he is right in the middle of it all :) He has definitely found his voice and likes to be heard! He squeals more than I remember any of the others doing. It's very high-pitched and sometimes hard to tell, unless you can see his face, if it is happy or mad.
Luke lights up when he hears or sees one of the other kids (or daddy). His eyes get big and he cranes that neck around to find them when he hears them! It's so sweet. And although they are in his face a LITTLE less than they were at first (thank goodness, they were driving us both nuts), they still light up when they see him! Jack can be in the middle of a tantrum (pretty common lately) and see Luke and he just becomes an angel. I'm so thankful they all love him so much...so far at least. We'll see what happens when he starts crawling and getting into their stuff!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brothers

Biggest brother and littlest brother
All three brothers
He's discovered his monkey toes!
He recognizes the camera and usually gives it this look:
Only 5 minutes before, he had been laying on this blanket, smack dab in the middle of it, and managed to propel his big self this far backwards with his sticky, monkey toes!