Sunday, March 20, 2016

Our Beauitful E is 4!

Eden has been very much looking forward to her 4th birthday. She is at the age now where she remembered the boys' last birthday and knew what we meant when we asked her about hers. We talked about a lot of different things but settled on a tea party theme, just to get us going in a direction. Then we added anything else that Eden liked really. So I guess it should be called an "Eden's favorite things" theme. 

Eden and I had so much fun planning her birthday! We went shopping one day, just us and picked out all the supplies!
 It was a rainy day, but we still had fun. We may have even stopped by a bakery for fresh snacks!
We had fun putting together all of her party games. 
She made it clear that it was a "girls only" party, so Jonah and Silas tested out all the games ahead of time so that they didn't feel like they missed out. 
They understood and really helped Eden get excited about her party! Jonah drew our teapot for our "Pin the teacup under the teapot" game. (We still get d's and b's backwards sometimes!)
Eden helped make lots of felt teabags. 
The boys hid them in the school room for the girls to find during the party.  
I feel like no matter how much I plan out my time, I always end up rushing in the end. Anyway, I finished Eden's cake the night before and put it in our room on our dresser like I always do to keep it safe from rats. I still was rushing the next day before the party.
 Eden loved her pink cake!
Jimmy helped me finish all the crepe paper decorations and hang them all up. We set up Eden's 2 tea sets which happened to be the exact number of cups we needed for her guests and filled the teapots with cold raspberry sweet tea... like southern sweet!
 As soon as all of Eden's sweet little friends got here, they sat down for tea!
I think they were all still a little shy at that point. It was hard for me to capture smiles with my camera. They played dollies for a little while in Eden's room and then we had some snacks. 
Jimmy helped me so much that day. He made the watermelon teapot, the heart sandwiches and the pink punch!
 We also had chocolate covered strawberries, green jello salad and heart shaped cheese straws.
 The photo below was right after Dada told Eden that he wore his pink shirt just for her! I think she was feeling pretty special that day!
 After snacks we played our games and did a little craft.

Then we sang, had cake, and opened presents!
Jimmy made her a kitchen (stove, oven, sink) for Christmas and we had plans for him to make the fridge for her birthday. But, he found a fridge at a thrift store several months ago for 90% off that must have been a floor model. It was perfect and pink!
Then it was piñata time! I wasn't sure if Eden could bring herself to hit that pretty butterfly, but she didn't hold back!
We are so thankful for all of the sweet girls that came to Eden's party and for the mommies that brought them. Some of them drove a ways to get here. We really appreciated them sharing this day with us!

The party was on Saturday and Eden's actual birthday was Sunday, so we saved all the presents from the rest of her family until her Birthday Day. 
We got to skype with both sets of grandparents and even Eden's great grandparents sent here beautiful dresses in the mail. (My kids are a little bit spoiled!) Eden is wearing one of the dresses below!
So Sunday ended up being pretty special too.
 We took her decorations down a couple day later and she was surprised that her birthday was "over" but asked if we could hang them up again for her next birthday! Cutiepie!

Here is our traditional birthday interview. We have had guests in our house since literally about 5 minutes after the party ended, so it took us 8 days to get around to videotaping her. I was worried she'd forget stuff, but she did ok!
We are so thankful for Eden! I loved my boys and didn't mind if God gave us another boy when we were pregnant with E. Now I am so thankful we get to experience having a girl! We have so many wonderful little girly moments together. I love her little personality and how much our conversations have grown in the last year. I would be a mess right now if it wasn't for the other baby in my belly. I try to tell myself it's ok for my baby E to be growing up. We love her so much, a true gift from God!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Washing Off the Ugly

For a couple years, while the main construction was happening at the institute and the infrastructure was being planned and built, I made fun of how UGLY it was. It was functional for quite a while, while maintaining this sad case of the "uglies". It went from being something we joked about to where I was really concerned that 10 years from now this farm was going to still be an eyesore. I kept asking Jimmy if we could do something about it, but when you feel like there are a million things more practical in line to get on the budget before aesthetics, it just isn't possible. It seemed like as fast as we cleaned something up, some other construction project ruined it.  
My main argument was that aesthetics would lift morale and really encourage everyone to take care of things and have some respect for the facilities. Still Jimmy is one of the most practical persons you could meet, and I was wasting my breath. Then all of a sudden Jimmy came home one day and said he contracted a flagstone guy to build a porch on the front of the classrooms building. I couldn't believe it! (You can see them working on it in the photo above.) 
Here it is finished before the roof was installed. One of the students was drying their corn in the parking lot... it is so normal here to block roads to dry your corn. That made us laugh. Just another cultural difference, nothing wrong with that!  
Jimmy welded the beams for the roof on the regular classrooms and then our missionary pilot friend, Paul helped engineer and build the beams on the large room (salón) on the end. 
Now all the rooms have a roof and doors. All that's left are some bars on some windows and one room still doesn't have a floor. We use it for storage right now. 

The students cut log planters out of the jungle and found these beautiful vines to replant in front of the posts. 
Filling all the log planters was a lot of fun!
We hung a couple plants too.   
The students also cut some boards from the jungle for me to make signs for the doors.
I think these are super cute and rustic. We also bought some brass numbers for the doors... gettin' fancy!
I love it! It is so homey now and has a beautiful, charmingly rustic ambiance to it.    
Jimmy made some lovely key chains to hang in the office, with my grandfather's wood burning tool. They correspond to the brass numbers. Now we aren't constantly looking for someone with a key.  
 Jimmy also ordered a time card machine that came down with his parents on their last trip. This is super helpful. It stopped some of the arguments between guys on who worked when and also I think Jimmy is getting more real quality work hours out of them since there is a more definite start and stop time with this.
We were laughing because the tallest person at the farm hung it on the wall and they didn't want any kids messing with it, but none of the rest of us could reach it without a stool! It has since been fixed. 
 Jimmy also asked the students to build some students mail boxes. This has saved some time as well.
 We are getting so efficient, haha! Little by little this place is turning into a well oiled machine!
 I will have to remember to take more pictures to show the other things that have been done to spruce up the place and help it run more efficient. It's a fun process, now that it isn't just flat out ugly anymore. The farm is really beautiful now! I'm so thankful!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Family Traditions #32: New Year's Eve 2015

"Family traditions give identity and belonging to each member." - James Dobson
I love traditions! My family had lots growing up. I always try to encourage our students to think of fun traditions they can start with their future church family to celebrate and look back on the different moments where God has worked in their lives. God instructs us to do that many times in the Bible.
{We pop a balloon every hour starting at 1PM}
New Year's Eve has turned out to be one of my favorite days. Maybe because that evening doesn't involve anyone or anything outside of our house, no presents, no pressure, no guests, no deep cleaning, just us. It is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, to be grateful, to pause and look at God and even to look at yourself to make sure you are growing!
 We always have a fondue night in 3 rounds. We start off with beef fondue. I cook all the potatoes in the pot at one time first so that we don't have to wait on those. We eat an embarrassing amount of meat... but it's a holiday and there are 3 boys in this house (soon to be 4!)
Last year we had movie night and watched Disney classics. This year we decided to have a game night instead! 
It is so much better than movie night!
{Sleeping Queens is our favorite game right now. My kids (and I) play this nearly every single day!}
This year's party seemed to go by a lot faster though. We will have to start earlier next year. 
 The next round was cheese fondue! Somehow we never get full on New Year's Eve.
Each year we add to our Yearbook. I posted our questionnaire here. Each person gets a page to fill out.
 It is fun to look back at the answers from the past years, especially now that the boys really understand the questions. Eden's answers this year were hilarious! I won't post them all since they are pretty personal, but she did say that the thing she was most thankful for was the new baby! 
Everybody's answers were pretty personal. I'm really proud of the things my kids value and want to record. We also thought of things we want to get better at and new things we want to learn. It is a fun process, filling out this yearbook!
Now truthfully, our third round - chocolate fondue, was after midnight! It didn't seem like anyone was losing steam. We had a wonderful night together! We are so thankful for God's protection and blessings this past year!
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