Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of School

(from my post in "For Such A Time As This")

Today is the first day of 2nd grade for Joshua.  How did 7 years fly by in what seemed like a blink of an eye?  I must admit, I get as nervous and anxious as Joshua does!  With the start of each year comes a blank slate.  What will this year hold?  What will he learn?  Who will his best friend at school be?  What will be his favorite subject (it thrilled me to no end that he said that his favorite thing to do in school is writing...and not recess!!  He even bought a journal!)?

With the start of each year also comes lots of prayers.  I pray especially for the teachers, his classmates, and for protection over the school.  Prayer is the only thing that keeps me sane while Joshua is away from me.  Prayer is an acknowledgment that God is greater, that God is in control, and that God is watching over my Joshua and is with him when I can't (He's the omnipresent babysitter!).  Last year, I invited a couple of moms from Joshua's class over to our home for some fellowship and to spend some time praying for our children.  I believe that there is a great battle going on over the hearts, souls, and minds of our children.  We need to be warrior moms who will go into battle for our kids.  God has equipped us with the gift of prayer as our weapon.  And nobody wants to mess with a group of moms who have donned their armor and are wielding their swords of faith, right?  So, I'm looking forward to our battle prayer time with the other moms from school.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Joshua didn't want to get out of bed this morning, even though we started getting him up early last week so that he'd get used to it (he's such a teenager-wannabe!).  Eventually, he did after much coaxing and threats!  We finished breakfast, got dressed, and took the traditional first day of school pics.  As we walked to school, I wondered...will he still hold my hand??  And he did!  And that just made my day!  I remember telling Jared that this may be the last year that he'll hold my hand before he thinks it's uncool!

Anyway, I sent my first-born off to 2nd grade this morning, and I'll have a couple of weeks for my mommy heart to recover before sending Jenna off to preschool.  I thought that with each passing year, the first day of school will get easier.  Well, it isn't for me.  It's not just a rite of passage for the children, but for the parents too.

In honor of the first day of school, below is a blog post I wrote for Joshua when he started kindergarten!  It still brings a tear to my eye...


The night before the first day of Kindergarten...

We picked out your wanted to wear your new football t-shirt.

We packed your backpack, and placed it by the door...I'm so proud of you for not complaining about not having a new bag, and you are perfectly happy with the Toy Story backpack from last year.

We snuggled into your bed, and read a new book about the night before were so excited about all the new things that you would learn this year!

And we prayed together...for a good night's sleep and thanked God for the many blessings in our lives, especially for Kindergarten and that it's finally here.

I kissed you good-night as I always do, and as I turned off your light, you said to me "Mommy, I'm growing up! I can't wait to go to Kindergarten tomorrow!"

"Yes, baby! You're going to Kindergarten! And I'm so proud of you!" But as I said those words, I fought back tears, and I felt something squeezing my heart. For I never thought this day would come. Okay, I know it's just Kindergarten...but time is zooming by like the speed of light, and I can barely catch my breath before the next milestone appears. So, on this night before yet another milestone, I want to capture the moment and store it in my heart forever. I feel like this is the first step of me letting go, as if my pinky finger is being pryed open...slowly, but surely, I have to let you go.

But as I let you go, I know that you are not going alone. I pray that you will know that God is with you...and my heart goes with you, too.

So, on the morning of the first day of school, this is what I saw...

But my heart saw this...

And when you sat in the car, I turned and saw this...

But really, this is what I saw...

And when I hugged you goodbye and wished a great first day for you, Daddy took this picture...

But these are the pictures that are etched in my heart...

I love you, Joshua!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jenna's birthday

I know we're not the typical parents who throw birthday parties for their children every year, and I pray and hope that my children aren't scarred by that.  We just don't think it's necessary to invest gobs of money on a party every year.  Rather, as a family, we truly celebrate each person, and get excited about each other's birthdays! 

Jenna's last night of being 3!
 We decorated the hallway with streamers and balloons!
We also decorated Jenna's chair at the table with balloons!
The birthday girl is awake!
Our 4-year-old is ready for her birthday!

So, on Jenna's 4th birthday, she got to pick a friend to spend the day with (and Joshua did the same on his 4th birthday too).  Since her birthday fell on a Thursday, she had to go to preschool that morning.  I sent her with a homemade bag of chocolate candy to pass out to her friends as treats.  I'm sure her teachers and friends celebrated her because she had a birthday crown in her bag. 

The chocolate lollipop treats I made!

Jenna helping me with them.
After I picked Jenna and Aaron (her friend of choice) up from preschool, I swung by McDonald's and picked up 2 Happy Meals for them.  We then proceeded to JumpZone where we ate our lunch and the kids played. 
Aaron and Jenna eating their Happy Meal

We met some friends at JumpZone!

After I dropped Aaron home, Jenna and I spent some Mommy-Daughter time.  I took her to the Arboretum in South Barrington and went to Claire's.  I have always wanted to do something like this with my daughter, and it's so much fun to finally be able to do it!  Jenna got to pick out one item from Claire's, and she picked a "Hello Kitty" necklace.  Next, we went to Anna Shea's Chocolate Lounge for some "afternoon tea".  Well, I had tea, and I was hoping Jenna would enjoy some milk.  But she declined.  Nevertheless, we had a great time sitting there on the comfy couches, just the two of us!  I had my tea, and Jenna and I worked on putting her new Minnie Mouse bracelet together, which was a gift from Aaron.  I just loved everything about that afternoon!  I'm sure going to Anna Shea's will be a tradition!

Jenna and me at Anna Shea's Chocolate Lounge!
Chillin' with a game on my iPhone while I finish my tea.
We finished Jenna's bracelet.

Before heading home, we stopped by Mariano's to pick up Jenna's birthday cake.  She picked out a Tinkerbell one.  We were hosting our small group that evening, so we thought it would be fun to have everyone sing Happy Birthday to Jenna before she headed off to bed.

Our present to Jenna this year was a big girl bed.  She's finally transitioning from her toddler bed to a twin bed!  We bought the bed at Value City.  It looks almost like the Catalina bed from Pottery Barn Kids.  We liked it so much that we actually bought 2 of them (one for Becca when she's older).  It was affordable and we wanted the girls to have matching beds eventually.  So, why not. 

Jenna's new bed!  It took me a few years to purchase different pieces of this owl bedding set.
Jenna in her new bed!

In keeping with tradition, we tend to go somewhere as a family to celebrate the birthday boy or girl.  With Joshua, we've always gone to the zoo.  With Jenna, we've gone to the museums.  But this year, there was a Groupon to a Family Palooza in St. Charles that I thought would be kind of fun to take the family too.  We had a blast, and Jenna had so much fun!  I think her favorite thing is the bungee jump thing (I don't know what it's technically called).  But it's so like Jenna to enjoy something like that!  We ended the day with having brinner for was Jenna's choice!
I think this was the highlight of Jenna's day...meeting Rapunzel!

Enjoying Family Palooza!

Jenna in her element!  She loved the bungee jump! 
Enjoying my time with my girls!

Despite the fact that we didn't throw a birthday party, I know that Jenna felt loved and celebrated.  She isn't a demanding girl and she doesn't mind not having an elaborate celebration.  Jenna is content with what she has, and she is easily excited by the smallest of things, like brinner!  I love that about my Jenna.  I believe that she'll see the beauty in anything, and perhaps be the blessed few who can see the beauty in ashes.  I praise God for fearfully and wonderfully making her the way she is!

We love you so much, Jenna!

February 2013

Even though February is known to be somewhat of a gloomy month, we had quite a bit of fun!

Exciting news...Joshua lost his tooth!  I mean, he had lost his first 2 teeth last year, but we didn't get to see it because he was playing and then the 2 teeth came out when Jenna head-butted him, and we think he swallowed one of them because we found the other in the carpet weeks later.  So, it was quite non-eventful.  But this time, we were able to "journey" with Joshua from when his teeth was getting loose, to it being super loose till it was literally just hanging there, to when he actually pulled it out himself!  For some reason, I love his toothless grin!!

This is when the tooth was just hanging there, ready to be pulled!
Here's Josh with his missing tooth!

And then came the first big snow of the season!  While other people dreaded it, we welcomed it and the kids had a blast playing in the snow.  This was Becca's first time playing outside and she loved it!

The view of our deck (sorry, I should've opened the screen door!).
Our pretty snow-dusted street!
Jenna all bundled up and ready to go!
Becca!  She reminds me of Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story.  We borrowed the snowsuit from our friend, Wes.  I know it's blue, but she'll only be in it for a season!

Let it snow!
Joshua making a snow angel!
Becca loved the slide!
 I love my kids!!  They're so goofy!
 The girls playing "patty cake"!

Our first snowman, with crazy hair!
In the middle of construction...

Chinese New Year
We celebrated Chinese New Year on the 10th and 11th of February.  Technically, Sunday the 10th was the first day.  But since we had church, we had to celebrate it on Monday.  Still, I was able to dress the girls up a little on Sunday for church.

 Jared and Becca with church friends, Calvin and daughter, Sophia.
Becca and me.

Joshua's school had a Chinese New Year assembly on Friday which I was able to go to.  They did such a good job with it!  They had Chinese performers, storytellers, and both the Chinese Immersion classes performed a song.

Becca and friend, Mackenzie, waiting for the assembly to start.

Joshua's class walking into the gym.  He's in his blue Chinese shirt.
I snapped a quick picture of Josh and his friend, Jordan.
Here comes the lion dance!

Joshua's class performing.  Josh is right in the center in the blue.
Josh with carpool friends, Stefanya and Lucas.
I was able to sneak into his class and took some pics of the kids!
Joshua's class (sorry for the blurred much for a fancy iPhone!)
On Monday, I cooked a Chinese New Year dinner and invited family.  It was my first time cooking the dinner all by myself!  Okay, I bought the chicken curry from the store...but time was of the essence, and I didn't have time to make that dish.  But we all had fun, and I'm so glad that we're able to celebrate Chinese New Year and teach my kids more about their heritage and to embrace it too.
The kids all dressed up in their Chinese outfits.
My cuties...Yee Keng, Li Lian, Li Ling!
The table is set!
I bought some fun CNY plates for the kids from PBK!
The red packets are ready!
Homemade wontons!
Wonton soup!

The dishes!
Our cousins!
The two Beccas!
For some reason, Josh wanted to pose like that!
The kids with Mimi and Papa.
Our family pic!
 And we invited our good friend "Aunty" Jolinda to join us too!
Valentine's Day
And what's February without Valentine's Day?  Jared and I wanted to do something special for our small group members.  So, we decided to babysit their kids while they go out for a nice Valentine's Day dinner.  Having 10 kids in the house, actually, wasn't so bad!
Jenna's ready for Valentine's Day!
Some of the kiddies that we had over that night.
Private table for 2!
I did get my favorite flowers on Valentine's day!
Joshua and I had a double-date with some good friends of ours.  We went to a stage production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in Des Plaines with Andrew and James and their mom, Leslie.  We first went to dinner (like any regular date!) at Jason's Deli.  And then we attended the production at 6pm.  It was very well done, much to my surprise.  The boys all enjoyed it, and it was such a great night.  My friend, Leslie, did such a great job blogging about it.  So, here's the link to her post: