This week has been wonderful. We had some rough spots initially, getting two very small girls comfortable in a strange house without their Mommy, but we've had so much fun, that even when they do cry for Mom (who would not miss Mommy? I still do.) I can remind them of how happy I am that they're here, how we'll see her soon, and remind them of how much fun we're having to stop the tears.
It's been go, go, go since Day 1 though. I've finally gotten a tan for the summer, after spending at least 2 hours in the pool every day for the last week.
The Puppy Store
I bought this game at a resale store here in Charlotte for a couple of bucks. Turned out to be quite a hit.
Painted pictures, and plaster magnets.
LOTS of swimming. Aliza amazes me. She is a fish. Anna is cautious, but excited.
We've been to a several different playgrounds-- all a hit.
Aliza is too busy running around and making friends when we're at the playground for me to really get her picture. Anna, on the other hand, runs from place to place calling, "Here Ash, come take my picture here!"
Thursday evening when we finally made it back to Charlotte, the girls were very interested in the neighborhood we live in. Anna asked, "What's this?" I said, "A neighborhood. It's where we live. There are a bunch of houses and apartments all together." "Why?" (imagine living on 6.5 acres your whole life, being used to the closest public place being the gas station 3 miles down the road, and the nearest neighbor a whole big yard away and you have entered Anna's world) "Because that's how some people live." They were still fascinated, and I got questions about "neighborhoods" for several days afterwards. Aliza figured out almost immediately though that a neighborhood meant an ice cream truck, and kept her ears open for the jingle. He finally came one evening. They were thrilled.
Notice her outfit in the picture above. She's wearing a blouse we found the previous day at Goodwill and a "matching" scarf. She is wearing my flower headband, and then has some of the flowers I wore in my hair at the wedding pinned under the headband, too. She loves and appreciates anything special and beautiful. She was decked out to the nines, and looked priceless. :)
Daniel and I have both been floored by her maturity. She has grown into a beautiful young girl in the last couple of months. She is reasonable, she is sweet; she likes to please and is a wonderful helper. She encourages her little sister to be good, and is ever so nurturing. She's bright, too. And one afternoon when she was being grumpy (because she still is human after all) I told her that when we complain it displeases the Lord, and if we love Him we will want to please him, not make Him sad. Then I asked her if she loved Jesus. She nodded yes very quickly, and walked away to dry it up. So precious.
We made cookies of course!
We spent one long, hot afternoon at the library, reading books, playing with the toys, and making these cool picture frames.
They covered these glasses with pieces of tissue paper to make candle holders for Mom's birthday at the beginning of next month. They're really cute, and I love the glow they get when light shines through them. I'm thinking I'll cover some glass bottles and decorate near some of the windows in the house.
This evening we went on a picnic. I've been aching to use this cool picnic basket and blanket my good friend Ashley (and family) gave me as a shower gift, but haven't had the chance. The girls being here provided and extra-special opportunity. (Aliza stuck her napkin in her bottle to keep the bugs out.)
I've had nicknames for them since they were babies. Aliza is my Poppet. Poppet is an English term of endearment for a special, small female, but the way the word sounds also makes me think of Aliza: spicy, rapidly changing, adorable. Anna I've called Sunshine for as long as I can remember. Unlike Aliza she was a quiet, smiley baby (Aliza cried a lot, from what I can remember anyway), she was our Sunshine. This name has become even more fitting as she has grown, too. She even looks awesome in yellow!
For our picnic dinner the girls and I made Ranch chicken calzones. They were de-lish. Super easy too.
1. Just made some pizza dough
2. Cut it into six squares.
3. Coat with sauce (more than you think you need), stuff with meat and cheese (or whatever)
4. Fold in half and press the edges with a fork.
5. Bake as you would the pizza.
Having the girls here this week has truly been wonderful. It's been different that what we're used to of course, and I was convicted early this week that since the wedding I had grown even more selfish than before, and with the girls here, I was painfully realizing it. They were crunching my style sometimes. They were making me tired. There is a lot of invest when you are caring for two young ones, especially when they are far from home and missing their parents and brothers, and you are trying to make their time with you exciting every moment. The Holy Spirit reminded me that to die to self was to live in Christ, and by investing myself in these girls now, I could, Lord willing, be planting seeds of Christ's love in them now. I wanted them to see Jesus in me-- not me in me!
Daniel and I have also realized how much we love children, and have watched that love grow all week-- love for Aliza and Anna, and love for all children. This week has made us eager for the time when, Lord willing, God will bless us with our own. We're excited not just to have them, but to train them. Daniel has really enjoyed spending time with the girls and learning more about each of them, and how they are different-- some "rules" about children just aren't universal! These experiences make us excited to see what personalities our children have, and what challenges we'll face as parents.
We've also learned this week to work more as a team. We've learned to communicate without ever speaking. A couple of days left me totally exhausted. I would pull on my pajamas, splash water on my face and stumble back downstairs to clean up what I had left as a dirty kitchen, only to find it clean and neat. We've been able to help and serve one another more this week than we usually are able-- actually, Daniel has been doing most of the serving. He has amazed me-- not because I never thought him capable of what he's done, but because he just continues to get that much more wonderful.
Ain't he handsome?? (Aliza told me she thinks so :))
We've got two more days, and a half to go. Tomorrow will be another pool day, and mostly just relaxing and packing for our family vacation next week. Saturday we're taking them to a wedding with us, which should be lots of fun. :) I can't wait to dress them up.
One last thought before I sign out. I've been pondering over this all week:
Am I running towards eternity with Jesus with all that I've got? Am I pressing on toward that heavenly goal to win Him as the prize? Do I adore Jesus as much as Mary Magdalene, a outcast prostitute who fell on her knees and wet his feet with her tears? That same Mary who was blessed to be the first person to witness the resurrected Christ, who had Him call out her very own name? Am I running to Jesus because He's everything to me? Because He's all that matters? Because He is the great I AM?