Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 10 in El Paso

 Today was my last full day here in El Paso. The children and I got up this morning bright and early, took care of the pets, did our housecleaning, and then we worked on lots of little art projects in-between reading 12 chapters from "Charlotte's Web." We were able to finish the book right before bedtime tonight. The kids really really liked this story, and it was so much fun to read it to them.
 Kaitlyn and Diana were able to come home from the hospital mid-afternoon. We spent lots of time just enjoying the baby together. She is so soft and sweet and seems so tiny. When she cries, she sounds like a little kitten in distress.
Kaity is very sleepy. She is so fun to watch when she is sleeping. She makes the cutest expressions. Lots of friends came and went throughout the afternoon, so we were very busy here. I neglected to take many pictures of the other children today but it was very sweet to see how much they enjoyed watching their new sister.
We finished coloring our stained-glass pictures and hung them up on the front door. Some of the neighbor children declared that they were "very beautiful."
Emma took this picture of Kaity and I. If you think I look tired in this picture, it doesn't begin to show how very tired I am! I held Kaitlyn for about an hour this evening while she slept on my lap or in my arms. There is nothing that can match the sweetness of holding a newborn baby, is there?
Jesse is really enjoying having a new baby. He doesn't like to share her very much right now. And ... he gets to be on "leave" now for the next few weeks to help care for her.

I'm scheduled to leave here early in the morning. I should arrive back in Grand Rapids sometime tomorrow evening. It's been a good trip. I'm thankful I got to be here to see Kaity when she was just born. I'm thankful, too, for the good time we had together as a family. It's always difficult to say good-bye and wait another three months to see everyone again, but I know that God will take care of this little family and that He loves them very much. Me too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day Nine in El Paso

Kaitlyn Jane was born today weighing 7 pounds 10 ounces and 21 inches long. She was finally delivered in the early hours of the morning. Jesse came home from the hospital right after lunch and drove us over to see her.

I thought this sign was ... SO unusual ... I mean, how many folk are there who are actually over 105 years old? However, since this is an Army hospital, perhaps one of their patients is actually that age and it is his/her designated parking spot.

There was a lot of excitement once we got up to Diana's room. Everyone crowded around trying to see  Kaity.
 Kaity has a full head of dark hair. What's surprising is that Emma had the very same kind of hair as a newborn ... kind of a darkish brown! I honestly cannot remember Emma's hair like this, but there are pictures hanging up in the house here that prove it is true.
I handed my camera to Diana so that she could snap one of us together ... nice picture, Diana!
 Emma got a turn to hold her sister. She was a little nervous about it because Kaity seems so little to Emma. But I think she was very careful and did a nice job of it.

 Jesse spent the night at the hospital last night and is doing the same tonight. He really enjoys holding the baby.

 We got her to open her eyes for just a little minute ...
Kaitlyn Jane is a very healthy little granddaughter. I'm so thankful I got to be here to meet her.

The children and I did our usual stuff throughout the day. The highlight, of course, was meeting Kaity. But we also had a lot of fun together today. We did a ton of reading, a few art projects, played a little bit on the computer ... and I am quite tired tonight. Tomorrow is our last full day together. I'm wishing I had started reading "Charlotte's Web" sooner on in my visit. We are only halfway finished, but the kids are enjoying the story so much ~ and I am enjoying reading it to them. Perhaps we will figure out a way to finish the entire book tomorrow ... but ... who knows?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day Eight in El Paso

Today was Emma's last day in Summer school. Since Jesse and Diana left early for the hospital, Matthew and Christopher walked down to the bus stop with us this morning. At 8:00 a.m. it was already unbelievably HOT.

Back at home, the boys worked on making up some stories so that they could do a little video presentation. Christopher made up a story using his Legos, and Matthew did one with his Matchbox cars. We recorded their videos and had a fun time doing it. I worked around the house, concentrating on Emma's room this morning so that when she got home from school, I could surprise her with a clean room!

When we walked back up to get Emma from her bus stop, Christopher pulled out some Lego people and continued his story, and Matthew had brought along two Power Ranger guys to play with. But we really didn't have to wait for very long because the bus came right away today. Good thing too, because it was over 100 degrees at 1:00 in the afternoon.  
 To stay cool, the boys brought their footballs outside and we tossed them around while running through the sprinkler. Emma decidedly did NOT want to play football, so ... she didn't!

But guess what happened to her pine cone peanut-butter bird feeder? The string broke, it fell out of the bush by the side of her house, and we found it covered in about one million fire ants early this evening. I didn't know they were fire ants until one actually bit me on the foot. Ouch. Thankfully, I moved away quickly enough and also, I am thankful that Emma didn't get bitten by any of them. We decided to leave the bird feeder down on the ground ... it has been sacrificed to the ants for now. We felt sad about it, but there was nothing we could do.
We also took Sophie for a nice walk this evening. It was a tiny bit cooler after supper tonight, so all of us went outside and took Sophie with us. 

We are still waiting for word from Jesse about how Diana is doing. At this time, it is about 9:30 in the evening. We've been checking Facebook updates, but so far, Diana is still in labor. So I suppose I will have to wait until tomorrow to post any information about Kaitlyn.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day Seven in El Paso

Day seven began like many others ... Emma and I walked to the bus stop and waited and waited. Today, we met a little bug (see his picture below) and we watched him scurrying around hither and yon for a full ten minutes while we waited for the bus to come. We were watching a bunch of ants too, but they didn't get their pictures taken.

 Tomorrow is Emma's last day of summer classes. She is quite ready to be finished. And I am quite ready to have her home with us for the whole day. We are looking forward to Friday and Saturday together before I have to go home on Sunday. And speaking of Emma, she is sitting right here beside me tonight (as she did last night) while I am loading these pictures and telling you about our day.
While Emma was at school, the boys drew some HUGE pictures for me. They had a great time seeing who could draw the scariest shark! That's not all the boys and I did this morning, however. Every morning, we've been working on cleaning projects around the house and catching up on laundry, and doing a bit of reading as well.

And then when Emma came home from school, she and mama made the peanut-butter and seed bird feeder together (and I helped too just a little bit), and then we took it outside and hung it up.

 We hung it up on the car port on these little hooks at first, but we changed our minds about the location. Emma was worried that the birds wouldn't see her feeder so far away from everything and so near the house, so we decided to hang it on the bushes that are at the side of her house. Once we hung it up, we put the sprinkler on, put our suits on, and we got all wet and refreshed outside as we played for a little while waiting for the birds to come. We also crumbled up some bread and put it on the sidewalks in front of the house. The boys made a little stream and lake and had a stick-bridge kind of thing, but the picture of that didn't turn out very well at all. But we did have a lot of outside fun today, despite it being above 100 degrees most of the day.
This is Emma's marionette puppet that is a VERY hairy bird with pink wings. She says it is an ostrich, but I'm not sure!  
 While I was making dinner tonight, Emma and Matthew went into Emma's room and fixed up a puppet theatre out of Emma's blankets and then gathered quite a few puppets together and made up an entire show for us to see!
 After we ate our dinner, Matthew and Emma put on their performance for us and I took a little video of it.
After the puppet show, some new neighbor children showed up at the door and we went outside and played football for awhile until it was time to come in and get ready for bed. We had a good time reading tonight. I found a copy of "Charlotte's Web" and we began by reading the first two chapters. Our Bible story tonight was about the birth of Isaac. All and all, a busy and happy day. 

So ... tomorrow is the day ... at least we hope so. So perhaps tomorrow night, I'll be telling you about the birth of Kaitlyn.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day Six in El Paso

Emma's bus was running late this morning and I wondered if it was because of how HOT it was already at 8 a.m. It was so hot that it practically took my breath away. But Emma's bus finally arrived, and I walked back to the house and was exhausted by the time I got there! 

The boys were all fired up for their day, so we started out with a good breakfast and then played for awhile before beginning the laundry. By lunch time, however, Matthew was complaining that he had a bad headache and went to lie down. Matthew lying down in the middle of the day is VERY unusual. It turned out that he had a sick stomach and couldn't eat lunch and ended up sleeping for a few hours this afternoon. When he woke up, he looked and felt much better.

I found out something else about the heat down here in Texas. In the middle of the day, if you want to get a drink of water from the faucet and you run it to get it cold ... it NEVER gets cold. In fact, even if you run the cold water all the way, it still comes out HOT. That's how hot it is in Texas.

We picked up Emma from the bus stop at 1:00 and began our afternoon together. We read a lot of books again today. The kids allowed me a little nap in the middle of the afternoon. We folded laundry together and put it all away. We enjoyed a healthy snack together. But we did NOT play outside. I miss being outside! But it's simply too hot to be out there.
 These are some of the books we read from tonight. In our Jesus Storybook Bible, we read about the tower of Babel (which was very well written). In our "I want to know about Jesus" book, we read about the parable of the houses built on the rock and on the sand. And we read another book about "Sarah's Grandma Goes to Heaven" and finished off with "Going to Sleep on the Farm." 
I hardly took any pictures today. We were really just working around the house, doing the usual stuff that life is made up of, but enjoying each other and playing together as much as possible. 
I was also able to switch my airline ticket today. Instead of leaving Thursday morning, I am staying until Sunday morning. Baby Kaitlyn is scheduled to be born this coming Thursday and Diana assures me that the doctor said he will not let her go beyond this date without inducing her. So ... sometime Thursday or Friday, the baby will be born. I scheduled my trip to El Paso in June to correspond with the baby's birth. It seemed a shame for me to leave on the very day she was going to be born and not actually be able to see her. Plus, no one would be here to take care of the children. So, I'm glad I was able to switch my ticket and stay until Sunday. Emma is especially happy about this.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day Five in El Paso

I had about six pictures I was going to show you tonight, but when I tried to upload them, Blogger came on and told me I was out of photo space! So ... I was only able to upload these two pictures of Emma. I applied for more photo space tonight, so perhaps by tomorrow, I'll be able to post more pictures. I certainly hope so!

Today was Monday, which meant that Emma had to return to her Summer school classes. She did NOT want to go this morning. But, she was having a field trip today and she ended up having a very fun day. The third grade class got to visit a water plant (this is how she is describing it to me ... but she can't remember the whole name of the place) and they got to "see how the water rotates in different ways and all of the different names of it" (I'm quoting her right now). Emma said they got to make their own bubbles (see her blowing them in the pictures below?) and they also got to pretend they were raindrops. Emma also brought home a bird-feeder kit that consists of a giant pine cone, some seeds, and a rope that is attached so that it can be hung up. You are supposed to spread peanut-butter all over the pine cone and then put the seeds onto the peanut butter and then hang it up outside and watch the birds come to eat their dinner! We've been feeding the birds by Emma's house, but we've discovered that they won't come to eat unless we have the sprinkler running, which makes pools of water out in the street. So the birds come to get little drinks of water, and they also eat the bread crumbs that we leave for them. So tomorrow, when Emma comes home from school, she and her mama are going to make this little peanut-butter bird feeder together ~ unless, of course, baby Kaitie decides to be born in the middle of the night tonight.
While Emma was at school this morning, Christopher and Matthew and I completely cleaned their room. It took us quite a long time ... because their room was very full of stuff! It took us a little while to find the floor (!), but when we did, we put everything away, threw a whole bunch of broken toys away, vacuumed the floor, and organized the remaining toys. Christopher was very helpful and Matthew TRIED to be helpful ... but the end result was very nice.

We did a lot of reading today. We read lots and lots of Bible stories together, as well as many other nice books. We ate spaghetti and salad and watermelon for dinner and then we made fancy ice-cream sundaes for dessert ~ yum! Hopefully, I'll be able to post more pictures tomorrow ... if Blogger allows me to. Bye for now!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day Four in El Paso

The children actually slept in until 7:30 this morning ... WOW! I had time to prepare some cinnamon rolls (thank-you Pillsbury!) for breakfast. I think the delicious smell finally woke them up! We had bananas and powdered-sugar donuts along with our rolls this morning. I know, not very healthy, but we were celebrating that it was Sunday! 

We worshipped over at Sunshine Community Church this morning. It's always good to return to this friendly church, where the Lord is obviously loved and worshipped. Jesse has to be there very early on Sunday mornings to get things set up for their music ministry. Diana and I and the children came for the later service. I attended children's church today with Emma. They've taken to separating the boys and the girls and having a different emphasis for each class. The girls have been studying the verse from I Samuel 16.7: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." So the teacher talked about what it means to have a "pretty heart" not just a pretty face or outfit.   

While I was getting ready for church this morning (after breakfast), I separated the children in different rooms with their own art supplies and books and asked them to make me a picture. I'll have to post those pictures at another time, but the photo above is Matthew seriously working on a piece of art for me. I separate the children into different rooms so that I can take a shower without having to ... referee their various small disputes with each other, etc. And besides, children need time and space to themselves once and awhile!  
 This is Emma decorating a heart during her class at church while listening to her teacher talk about what it means to have a heart like Jesus. There were 15 other little girls in the class. I enjoyed visiting with all of them!

After lunch, the boys begged me to "run" through the sprinkler with them. I hated to inform them, but grandmas don't "run" through sprinklers! So I compromised with them and gathered some squirt guns together and we all enjoyed a good water fight instead!
These water balloon squirt guns are so much fun! 

The one casualty of the water fight was that Matthew's balloon squirt-gun burst and was therefore broken. He was quite disappointed, but remembered he had a few other squirt guns that he could use. We also put bread crumbs out for the birds, and since there was water running in the yard as well as bread to eat, we had quite a few birds come by to visit us today.

I think we read about 10 different books today too! I so enjoy watching the children engage in a good story ~ their facial expressions are so beautiful as they listen.

 Well ... another day without Kaitlyn being born. Diana is very ready to deliver her. I'm praying that she comes in the next day or two.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day Three in El Paso

My third full day in El Paso has come and gone. Baby Kaitie still has not arrived! We are all playing the waiting game ... and speaking of games, the children and I played plenty of those today. We learned the "Hex" game I told you about yesterday, but we never figured out a good strategy with this game. It all seemed rather hit or miss as to whether a person was going to win or lose! But that's OK, because we had fun playing together. 

I brought a kit of shoelace bracelets and beads, you know, one of those you find over at Michael's in the crafts section. Even the boys enjoyed stringing beads on a shoelace, making pretty patterns.

We tried to play outside for a little while today, but could only stand the heat for 15 minute intervals. Absolutely no one plays outside in the neighborhood after lunch. Which makes me wonder. I know that Michigan gets cold in the winter, and there are many months where children don't play outside very much; but I think the weather in Texas is even more prohibitive for outdoor play than Michigan is! I would much rather live where the seasons change and the weather is more variable. But I've always been rather partial to Michigan. 

Two weeks ago, I went shopping at a great store in Grand Rapids called, "Once Upon a Child" that sells gently used children's clothing and toys, as well as books. I picked out nearly 25 good story books and only paid $14 total! So we've been enjoying lots of new stories.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and we plan to worship over at Sunshine Community Church in the morning. I'll try to post more pictures tomorrow night ...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day Two in El Paso

Morning always comes ... really really soon in El Paso. It hardly seems I've closed my eyes when it's morning already. The scorching sun comes up way before six o'clock and there is no way to lessen the brightness of it. It's been really hot here ~ the kind of hot that keeps you inside for most of the day just because it's completely unbearable to be outside in it for very long. And I am a person who loves to be in the heat and the sunshine whenever possible. So trust me when I tell you that it is HOT here!

While Emma was at school this morning, the boys and I studied a little bit about sharks. Mostly because I brought along a Scholastic book about sharks and then we decided to see some videos of great whites and other kinds of sharks too. Both Chris and Matthew drew lots and lots of pictures of sharks ~ look at Chris's beautiful drawing!    
When Emma came home from school, we all decided to play some new games. Actually, these were not new games for me at all. I brought a book of games that I've had for over 25 years. I bought this when my boys were little, but I can't remember the exact year. I just know that we were traveling somewhere and this book of games was purchased to take along with us on our trip. Anyway, it has games from all over the world that are famous and some of them are very ancient ones. 
 The one we played today was called "Dalmatian Pirates and the Volga Bulgars" ~ what??? I know that's a very odd name for a game, but this game was actually a favorite of Queen Victorias (in the 1800's) but it was already hundreds of years old at that time ... it's similar to our Fox and Geese game that we play on a checker board. It takes quite a bit of strategy, no matter if you are the pirates or the city folk. I'd try to explain the game to you, but I'm afraid it's a bit complicated. The kids took to it right away, though, and we played several rounds of it (Chris and Matthew are playing it in the picture below). Emma, however, is playing a game of Solitaire that was invented by a French nobleman (who was in solitary confinement at the time). Tomorrow, we're going to try to play a game called "Hex" and another one called, "Hasami Shogi." 
We had a really nice day together, ate some yummy pizza for dinner, read Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax" and then settled in to watch an old movie favorite, "An American Tale" together before bedtime. I'd forgotten how cute that movie was! Everyone enjoyed it and then ... bedtime! But right after tucking the boys into bed, we girls did some serious meal planning and then snuck out and went over to Walmart to grocery shop. I'll try to post some more pictures tomorrow ...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day One in El Paso

 It's pretty late tonight, but I thought I'd just post a few pictures quickly before retiring for the night. I arrived in El Paso early last evening, and it's been nonstop activity ever since. We all got up bright and early this morning to walk Emma down to her bus stop for her summer school classes. She has one more week of summer classes, and then she is off school until the fall. 

This was the day that Diana was scheduled for induction, but when she got to the hospital, the physician felt it wasn't in either Diana's or Kaitlyn's best interest to induce ... so ... we're just going to have to wait until she shows up on her own! I'm still hoping that she is born before I return to Michigan one week from today.

The boys and I did a bunch of cleaning projects and simple art stuff while Emma was in school this morning, and then this afternoon we all played together. We played a bunch of UNO games together, as well as another fun card game that Emma taught us to play.
 Here, we're just making funny pictures with a sticker book by Melissa and Doug that lets you change the eyes, noses, mouths, hair, hats, etc.  And then Christopher decided to put the stickers on his own face ... hence the pose below ...

 Emma was showing me the little rocking swing for baby Kaitie. Emma is pretty pumped up about having a little sister. 
 We played for a very long time on my computer with the photo features that it has. We even made some crazy videos together, but they aren't really the kind I would share on a blog.
 This is me, pretending to be a bad guy and Chris being a "super hero" to stop whatever wicked thing I was up to ... we took a picture of ourselves and edited it to look like this ... Chris thought this was great fun.
Christopher was practicing cursive writing while I was making some dinner tonight. I think he does a really good job with it! And we read a bunch of good books together last night and tonight ... so far, nothing out of the usual, but a very good time!