Jansen turned 10 about a month ago. We thought Nate might not be around for his birthday because of a deployment, but he was, and we were so grateful and happy about that. Jansen wanted a trifle for his "birthday cake," and his birthday gift hopes were few but specific including a very complex origami book and some foam shields and swords. He and Nate and a couple friends played baseball on a nice field at Lackland Air Force Base the night before his birthday.
This has been a great year for Jansen. I love who he is and who he is becoming. He is still in GT at school and really enjoys that. We recently started a basketball season that he looks forward to every Saturday, and he is playing the piano. He is my most mellow and "easy" child right now. He LOVES playing Boom Beach, playing basketball/soccer/baseball, watching sports, and origami of course. He is still a voracious reader if he is into the book/series he is reading. He looks forward to PE at school, and his teacher Mrs. Martinez has been outstanding so far. She has been very accommodating and understanding of Jansen's abilities and his need to move around a lot. He would wear basketball shorts to school every day if he could, and he absolutely loves time with Nate throwing the ball around or playing soccer. He loves anything with Nutella.
Here are a few of his creations from his new origami book:
They are pretty incredible, and so is the book!
And our sweet Emmy turned 5 last month as well. She decided that instead of a birthday cake she wanted to create a tower of donuts.
Emmy is more shy than she used to be, and sometimes she struggles going to Primary or other people's houses, but it's not too bad. She still loves to play "hairstylist," loves to color, dress up, and play with Play-Doh. She probably suffers from some 3rd child problems - I think we expect and ask less of her than we do or did with Jansen and Natalie. We work on reading for about 15 minutes every day and she's doing great!
She is often "packing" important things in backpacks and suitcases,
She is following in the foot steps of her older sister and lost a tooth a few days before her 5th birthday. The new tooth had actually come in behind the baby tooth before it fell out, so she had both for a couple weeks.
These butterfly wings she got for her birthday have been a big hit and will double as her Halloween costume. :)
She came in the room like this on the morning of her birthday and said, "Mom, do you like the new me?"
This girl loves to create. If there is an empty cardboard box she will swipe it and be heading up the stairs to cut it up before I can count to 5. She loves to make houses for animals.
Or skirts for friends...
Or a big frog with a tongue..,
...and when you look inside he has eaten a bug!
Natalie is playing another season of soccer and loves it of course. It's only on Saturdays, which is really nice for this stage of life. They have a short practice and then a game. People often comment on how tough she is, and she seems to be gravitating to more of a defensive player.
The other day she figured out how to blow bubbles using some soap and her hands.
Friends are really important to Natalie, and she loves to have them over to play. Our neighbor Adison often comes over and brings her little Chihuahua. They build houses, create capes, and make toys for the dog to play with.
One Sunday afternoon Natalie and Emmy had a fashion show. They laid out all these outfits and then modeled them for me out in the family room.
We are having some nice Texas evenings. The area around our house is developing fast, and it's driving some wildlife our way. There are always smashed frogs in the street, and we found a baby rattlesnake on our driveway the other day. The fire ants out here are absolutely awful, and I'm so tired of their bites!
I found this cute email Natalie wrote to Nate and had to include it here.
Natalie split the area below her eyebrow open while Nate was out of town, and I had to send him a picture to get his opinion about whether or not she needed stitches. She didn't, so he walked me through cleaning it up and using some steri strips to help it heal up well.
I can't forget about a Leah update. She is still a really big girl for 16 months. I have had a really hard time finding shoes wide enough for her fat little feet. Her words are mama, dada, book, ice, no, baba, baby, two (she says "twooooo" for 1, 2, 3), doggy, bath, shoes (pronounced "ish"), up, eye, and a few others. She is on the top bunk of Natalie and Emmy's bed in this picture, and she loves to get up there. Her favorite foods are mandarin oranges, frozen mango, noodles, and pizza. Lately when she has a dirty diaper she will just go lay on the floor to be changed. Other times she is a crazy rolling acrobat when I am changing her. She loves her bottle still. She loves to be read to and adores all animals although seeing them in real life kind of freaks her out.
Sometimes people mistake her for a boy, and she has the least hair of all the kids at this age. She loves to look at belly buttons. She will lift up her shirt and show you hers and then motion for you to show yours. She doesn't really have any interest in TV, although I wish she did haha! She is still learning how to go down the stairs. She loves to steal markers, crayons, and pencils and run off with them because she knows she isn't supposed to have them. She loves crushed ice and is always finding containers of every shape and size and then asking to fill them with ice.
Lately she likes to put on headbands or Natalie's underwear or something and then go look in the mirror. I feel like one of her favorite things to do is go walk in the street in front of the house. I don't know if it's the freedom or what, but she loves to take off down the road.
She loves being on the tramp with the big kids, and they are really good and patient with her.
As can be expected, she makes after school and dinner time is pretty crazy. Here she is blindly pulling things out of drawers and then throwing them in other drawers.
I long for the days that she will be more independent and less needy, but I am also really soaking up her every word, smile, and kiss. She sleeps in a very dark room and sometimes when I am holding her in the rocking chair at bedtime she will move her face towards mine waiting for a kiss in the dark. It's so sweet.
Before moving to San Antonio we were under the impression that Nate would not deploy for a few years. He has been asked to accomplish some specific things here and has unique responsibilities at Lackland, and for those reasons we were basically told and assumed he wouldn't deploy. To make a long story short, we found out around Christmas that he was supposed to deploy for 6 months in April. Then it was moved to July. Then it became more of an on call deployment. There were many, many changes, and the communication about all of it was pretty poor. He eventually did deploy in late September for only a week, but when he left we thought he was leaving for months. Again, just some poor communication. I was beyond thrilled to get a phone call from him that he'd be home in a few days. We have some amazing, thoughtful, supportive friends who surprised us one night before his deployment with a little get together. Everyone was wearing red, white, and blue. It was so kind of them.
I'm including this picture because it was a sweet moment that really made my day and shows what a wonderful man I married. I was bathing the kids one night and Nate came in and sat in the dirty clothes basket and told me he wanted "to be by me" while he worked.
My awesome friend Mandy took some family pictures for us a few days before Nate's deployment. She did an incredible job, and I'll have to create a post just for those.
It was at the San Jose Mission, and it was a beautiful place.
These are a few pictures from our "goodbyes" to Nate.
We had stake conference the Sunday after he left, and I was just not up for braving it on my own with all 4 kids. We broke up the Sunday with a trip to feed some ducks. I was so amused that the ground was littered with tortillas rather than bread here.
We had a deck built, and we love it. There was a lot of space where the deck is that was pretty much unused before. The grass here is not soft, and there can often be fire ants on the ground, so it's wonderful having a space out there to sit and relax without worrying about those things.
And this is exactly why I keep blogging! I just had 2012 printed, and Jansen was so excited to read it. They love the blog books.