Monday, July 26, 2010

Jenna's First Birthday

We have another one year old in the house! Today was Jenna's birthday. (And I think tomorrow will be Charlotte's birthday- making a grand total of three one year olds in our house).We had a blast making this cake, although since Mitch had the camera at work you don't get to see any pictures of the process. I wish you could have seen how covered Ruthie's face was with chocolate frosting when I gave her the spatula to lick off, or how meticulously the girls worked at putting the sprinkles on in just the right way.
Singing Happy Birthday to Jenna- even little Ruthie joined in:
Did you see the card that Anna made for Jenna on the table there? And notice how fancy the table is set, complete with a fancy tablecloth, fancy dishes from their tea set, and fancy forks they found in the drawer. We were all dressed up fancy as well (except Ruthie). Quite a fancy birthday party you had, little miss Jenna!

Here's the birthday girl blowing out her candle after Josie made a wish for her!
Blowing out the candle was definitely Ruthie's favorite part. I think she had Mitch relight it about 10 times so it could be blown out again and again and she could cheer.

Mmm, mmm, good.

Would you like another bite of your birthday cake, Jenna? No? Okay, I'll eat the rest of your piece, then.

Josie and Anna even washed all the dishes up afterwards. Quite impressive, really.

Happy Birthday, Jenna! You are well loved and well celebrated in this house!

Peaceful Valley

And truly it was. Our camping site this last weekend was aptly named.
We headed up to the hills with our friends Tom and Eleanor Needy and their daughter Anna, who is the same age as Ruthie, and Doug and Nikki Kennedy, their son Isaac, niece Kendall, nephew Jake, and Auntie Mari, Nikki's sister the gourmet camping chef.
Here are the Needys. How often is the whole family in one picture?!!

These two are fast friends, as long as Ruthie doesn't get too aggressive. Usually Ruthie's just trying to give Little Anna a hug when she puts her in a headlock or bowls her over. Sometimes, though, she's being feisty. But you should see the grin they give each other each time they meet.

Anna and Isaac running. It feels like they run and climb and jump all day long when we are camping. Nice, since it means they conk out as soon as their head hits the pillow at night in the tent.

Doug and little Ruthie, hanging out around the campfire.

Eleanor cooking dinner our second night. Mitch just got back from a bike ride.

This is Jake. It was his first time camping. He built that fire in front of him, gathering the pine needles and twigs and branches for starter, chopping a log into kindling with the hatchet, making it all into a beautiful tepee, and then enjoying the results. A proud moment.

This is how the Clement girls eat their dinner in the woods.

You cute little munchkin!

Or tough girl.

One of my favorite things about camping with kids is the never ending entertainment a rock can be. This rock was a launchpad for hours of jumping and climbing.

With a carload of sleeping pads and bags, pillows and suitcases around it, it became the center of a rough and tumble game of who knows what that the kids enjoyed for hours.

I love the joy they take in simple pleasures. I don't think these kids know what it means to be bored. I don't think I have ever heard them use that word.

Three families, lots of kids, spending time together in a peaceful valley, surrounded by the incredible, undiluted beauty of the created world. The same joys humans have shared with each other for all of history.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Courtyard Fun

Living in Family Housing with a courtyard full of kids creates quite the communal living experience for us. There are always people around to play with, talk with, fight with, eat with, share all the ups and downs of life with. No one is perfect. We are all faced with our differences and similarities daily and learn to give each other and ourselves a lot of grace.

I love that our girls are growing up in this environment. They have friends from Chile, Vietnam, Belarus, Korea, China, Canada, Libya, Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and of course, the US. They learn to share, they learn to problem solve, they are color blind and oblivious to many of the differences in the people around them. They just love their friends and love all the fun they get to have with them. They are inclusive and accepting, kind, generous and full of laughter. What an example to all of us adults who often have such a hard time with the differences between us.

Yesterday we had a spontaneous painting party on our front porch:

So much joyful creativity, sharing of paints and brushes and personal space, complimenting each others pictures, enjoying each others company. I think there was as much paint on most of their bodies by the end as there was on their papers. Especially as they were reaching around each other to dip their brushes in the paint and then carrying a dripping paintbrush back to their spot, or trying to walk and stepping on each other's pictures. We dipped most of them in the laundry room sink before heading them home!

Today the impromptu fun was a pool party:

When pool space got a little tight they got creative with their real estate.
Fun times on hot days. Community living at its best.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lots of Love

This little girl loves her Daddy.
Not much is sweeter than feeling those little arms around your neck giving you a big squeeze.
Nora reading to Josie in the courtyard.

Some moments just make your heart melt.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beauty on my Mind

Beauty is

This kind of laughter and fun on a hot day:
This kind of comfortable friendship, sharing in the joy of a new baby:

This kind of yummy abandon:

This kind of unsophisticated play:

This kind of delight in green growing things, paying attention to the details of the garden:

What is the beauty in my life? The grace we have for each other that lets us accept our differences and revel in each other's company. The grace we have for others and ourselves that lets us be light and joyful, free in life to connect and be present, not full bitterness or anger. Grace that gives us eyes to see and soak in the presence of God in the little moments of our daily life. That, to me, is the definition of joy and beauty.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fancy Girls

Boy howdy, do I have some fancy girls! There is nothing they love more than being fancy, however that is defined in the moment in their minds. Inspired by their fancy painted nails and all the flowers they saw, they decided to put on their fancy dresses and hold bouquets of flowers 'like in a wedding', as Anna said.
Painted toenails.
Beautiful smiles!

Our friend and neighbor and constant companion of the girls. They all love playing with Nam!

Josie had her white dress on because white is a fancy color.

Ruthie won't be left out of the fun.

Ruthie, you little charmer. You bring a smile to everyone's face.

They wanted me to make sure and tell you that Nam's dress is pink, even though it looks white in these pictures.

Relaxing on the grass.

They even put flowers in Mama's hair! Aren't I cute and fancy?! Josie took my picture.

Fancy does not mean refined or sophisticated.
Even fancy girls are full of spunk and silliness!

Rock Climbing Adventure

Our church had a rock climbing day this last weekend. Fun times! It was a beautiful area tucked up close to the flatirons. A perfect little hike into the climb, and some good climbing for all ages and ability levels.
The Clement family (you can't see Ruthie but she's in the backpack on my back):I love watching Anna climb! She just goes for it!
She flies up the rock until all of a sudden she stops, looks at you and tells you she's ready to come down.

Then down she comes! She's starting to get the feel of hanging in the harness, keeping her feet in front of her and enjoying the rappel.

I had a chance to climb. Not super challenging, but definitely fun!

And here's Mitch, scrambling up the rock in his sandals! Poor guy, he has such a hard time finding climbing shoes for size 16 feet.
Thanks Jon, Eric and Steve for taking us all climbing!

Kaatje's Picnic Blanket

The girls and I enjoy tackling sewing projects together. They are always asking me to let them sew a new project they have in their mind. When they were invited to a birthday party for their friend Kaatje last weekend they decided that they wanted to make her a picnic blanket.
They picked out all the material they wanted to use, I cut all the pieces, they helped me sew them together:

Then we pinned it to the back, quilted it and put the binding on along with a tie so Kaatje could roll it up and carry it along on her picnicking adventures. Happy Birthday, Kaatje! The girls had fun making you a gift!
I forgot to take a picture of the finished blanket, but we'll post one when I get one. It was 'fancy'!