Esme, as I engulfed her little brother in a towel after his bath:I wuv you, Gwaham! Hims my baby! * * * Esme, as we listened to a song on the radio that began with children's voices singing, "Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Jesus...": JESUS??! We have Jesus!
On December 4th, our oldest turned... well, you already read the title of my post.
Look at this girl.
Doesn't she look so composed and mature? And she is... about 60% of the time. The other 40% she's still as wild and crazy and loud and silly and bouncing-off-the-walls as ever she was. Precious first daughter. How she fills our home with life and laughter.
Meg wanted a fairy garden cake that she saw in an old Family Fun magazine. I made a gluten-free ice-cream cake version to accomodate our family's changing dietary needs. (More on that in another post.) The fairy garden turned out pretty cute, notwithstanding the fact that I've always been kind of against decorating my kids' cakes with plastic toys. It seemed like taking the easy way out. This year, I Googled "make your own fairy cake toppers," read one blog post on creating a fondant fairy, clicked that window closed and ordered the darn plastic things. (Hey, they doubled as gifts!)
(Do you like the stray vegetable remnants and other spoils of dinner hiding behind the cake pan? What can I say? Just another example of my peerless food photography.)
So it was a very happy birthday for Margaret Lauren. But just to give you a clearer idea of her temperament, I do have to tell this one story. Meg was so intensely excited, so keyed up about her birthday. I know this is normal for kids.
But for Meg, the excitement was so palpable; it was embodied to such an extent that, at the end of the day when it was all over, she literally experienced a physical purge. The day was ending. We had enjoyed her birthday dinner (baked potato soup), we had eaten birthday cake, we had opened presents, we had celebrated Advent. Jammies were on; teeth were brushed; little bodies were in beds, we were singing final lullabies, and the light was about to go off when... Meg made a final request to visit the bathroom. One the way down the ladder, she suddenly bolted to the toilet, slammed up the seat, and--moaning prayers that God would not let her throw up--she lost it. All of it. Soup, salad, cake--goodbye! Then we cleaned her up, popped her back into bed, and... she crashed out and slept the sleep of the righteous all night long. And that's just the way she rolls. This was so NOT the first time that she has barfed because of over-excitement.
Yep, she's a crazy one. Crazy, and beautiful, and smart... and ours. For seven whole years. Thank you, Lord.
I'm taking down our Thanksgiving Tree tonight. Do you like the ripped "roots" at the bottom? Graham's contribution. He's thankful for paper, and mobility.
Here's a sampling of the other kids' leaves:
"my big house" -Esme
"mommy painting my nails" -Meg
"The Bible" -Matthew
"Jimmy Cone and Ice cream" -Meg
"cooking with Aunt Lena" -Meg
"Scout and Mommy's car" -Esme
"puppet shows" -Matthew
"my mommy and daddy and brothers and sister" -Esme
"our grocery store, Safeway, so we have lot's of food" -Meg
We're not even close to being fully decorated for Christmas, but we pulled out a couple of things today. One was our Advent calendar, along with lots of candles--24 to be precise, so we can light a new one each day:
I think we're also going to try doing a Jesse Tree this year, a la Ann Voskamp and courtesy of our forsythia hedge.
(Dreadful picture, I know, with my flash on and our poor lone ornament!)
I honestly CANNOT believe that we are rounding the bed toward Christmas. My inbox is filling up with emails from various Nalle women about wish lists, our family gathering, food... and I'm just in shock that this year is nearly over. It does. Not. Seem. Possible. WHERE DID YOU GO, 2012???
Matthew's latest creative craze was mask-making. He did a few animals, and then he hit on super heroes and went wild. Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine. I took a picture of his first attempt at the Hulk, teasing him that he looked more like Frankenstein. He didn't know who Frankenstein was, so I showed him a picture, whereupon he pointed out that Frankenstein does not have an angry, open Hulk grimace, and Matthew's mask clearly does. So you can be the judge:
We had three fun school outings this month. The first was to the Sackler Gallery, one of the Asian art museums at the Smithsonian. My friend Maria organized this trip for a small group of families who are studying ancient history this year. I never would have thought to take littles to this place, but what a great idea it turned out to be!
I left Esme with Nana, and Meg, Matthew, Graham and I braved the Metro. (All of these pics are from my little flip-phone, so I apologize for the quality.)
We made our way to the museum and met up with our docents. They split our group into two and whisked us off for our magical mystery tour through ancient Asian artifacts. Our docent did a super job with the kids (even our wiggly and distracting Matthew man, who required a little patience at the beginning). She had them search for the faces in these ceremonial vessels.
She let them hold this bronze pot so they could see how heavy it was.
She showed them this chimera, guardian of an ancient tomb.
This one too... yikes. I'd stay out of the tomb if I thought this guy would be after me.
She had them gallop like this horse.
She led them in examining a roomful of Iranian pitchers...
...and then helped them create their own!
I was quite surprised by what a great trip this was even for very young children. Bravo to the Smithsonian and its employees for making their treasures and knowledge so accessible to all, and kudos to Maria for her educational sleuthing!
Okay, second field trip, to the Living Classroom at Glen Echo Park, where we learned about animal habitats: this trip was planned by our beloved Mrs. Apple. We started the morning in this nifty room, which had some very cool play spaces, as well as various tanks and cages...
The kids got to meet this gal:
I have chills just looking at these pictures. I'm not exactly a wuss about spiders, but tarantulas are in a class by themselves...
You can't see it very well, but in this picture the lady is showing the little hollow log where the tarantula lives. We learned that she catches her prey by lining the inside of the log with her sticky silk and waiting for something to get stuck within. Neat trick for someone who's too heavy to spin a web.
This critter was much more to my taste (and the taste of many of the kids).
The admiration was not necessarily mutual; when the kids got too noisy, the bunny took off for a far corner of the room and hid behind the turtle tank, forcing her keeper to go through some interesting contortions to find and extract her. Fortunately, Meg still had the chance to pet her.
(Matthew recently started sucking on his fingers. Normal for a five-year old???)
I have no pics of this part, but we concluded our morning by going on an outdoor scavenger hunt and looking for animal habitats of all kinds out in the woods and by the creek.
Our third and final field trip for the month was to a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant. Matthew was sick and stayed home, but Meg got to learn a bit about the history of the franchise and then go into the kitchen and see how they make all that yummy chicken. Meg tells me (I did not get to hear this personally), that it takes 48 hours to thaw a boneless chicken filet for a sandwich, and only four minutes to cook it. We also learned that there is a designated Chick-Fil-A employee who does nothing but slice fresh Sunkist lemons for an hour each morning, to get a head start on all of the lemonade (just lemons, water and sugar!) the store will sell that day. Of course, what Meg was most psyched about was the mini Ice Dream cone she got at the end of her tour. (Can't blame her. Dessert at 10:00 a.m.? Sign me up!)
We are so very blessed to have such a great community of home schoolers around us and to get to have so many fun and diverse adventures with them. We look forward to many more exciting trips later this school year...
Our Thanksgiving celebration was on the smaller side this year--only Dad, Mom, Lena, Jacque, Asher, David, me, and the seven kids. We missed being with our more extended family, but we had a great time even so.
"Black" Friday was a pretty bright affair for the Nalle clan. We spent the first part of the day at a park to play off our Thanksgiving calories. It was a gorgeous November morning with some of my richest blessings...
The humblest, warmest-hearted, most serving lady I know,
Most happily married since October of 2003, we love Jesus Christ, each other, our wild and crazy kids, and serving our beloved church. David is the Ministry Teams and Tech Director at Covenant Life Church; Cara is a wife, mama, homemaker, avid reader, writing-lover, and novice home schooler. Our life isn't what you'd call exciting (though there's never a dull moment), but we love using this blog to share glimpses of our days with our far-flung family members. Even more, we love sealing the grace of God in our hearts by writing down [a tiny bit of] what He's doing in our lives.
At nine years old, our Meggie is a beautifully unique individual. Her defining characteristic is her irrepressible and contagious zeal for life. She gets excited about everything. She loves people, new experiences, books, school, dance, writing, and taekwondo class. In many ways, she sets the pace for this loud and affectionate brood of ours.
Matthew, seven, was born with a sparkle of mischief in his eye--I have the post to prove it. His number one goal and gift is making others laugh. After that, he likes to create stuff--cardboard-and-tape stuff, origami stuff, Lego stuff, zany and offbeat craft stuff. The best part? This funny and creative package opens to reveal a wonderfully tender heart.
Esme Rose is a five-year-old fairy princess in disguise--or at least, we're pretty sure that's what she believes. Even her daddy (who is not given to the fanciful) says that she was made with an unusually high ratio of pixie dust. Other ingredients include independence, cuddles, stubbornness, sweetness, spunk, drama, fierce flying hugs, and a highly developed sense of femininity.
Even going through a pretty terrible Terrible Twos isn't so bad when you're also the doted-upon baby of the family. Graham is an expressive, comical, joyful, demanding, feisty, talkative, passionate little bundle of a person. He adores trucks, airplanes, and all other things that go, doggies, clothes, and being outside. He gives killer hugs and loves getting kisses. We can hardly remember what life was like without him.