Friday, October 31, 2008

this is dirt


it's aidan's brithday

I can't believe it! My sweet baby boy

is eight years old today! Man, time flies.

For Aidan's birthday this year we got him a new bike. We had purchased his old one when he was three (I think) and he had beyond outgrown it! He looks pretty great on his new one.

In keeping with tradition, he got to make his own cake and pick out his favorite ice cream (rainbow sherbet). In years past he "helped" make the cake, but this year he was able to make it all on his own, including his choice of caramel instead of frosting. He was very proud of his cake (the best tasting cake ever, go figure!).

Aidan is such a treasure to us. His personality is a treat, but the best gift of all is the way Aidan loves the Lord. We are so thankful for his mature understanding in both his head and heart of our faith in Christ Jesus.

Aidan is a passionate person. He loves what he loves and throws himself completely to it. We have found such joy and entertainment in learning along with Aidan all there is to learn about his interests. Personally, I have learned to expand the things that interest me and to always be ready enjoy them with someone I love. Right now the example is football. Before it was Aidan's passion, I do not know if I would have enjoyed tossing around the ball (for hours), watching a game (or the highlights), or talking about teams and stats. But now that I have done these things with someone who loves it so much, I can truly say I enjoy it too.

Aidan is super smart. It is my prayer that he uses this as a tool for the Lord. But right now it is such an asset to our homeschool! As I learn how to teach, Aidan's memory and intelligence make up for my lack. He remembers everything whether or not I taught it in the best way!

I love how much of a participator Aidan is. When we go somewhere or a join a group of people, Aidan is always game to jump right in on what they are doing. Even though his passions are pretty focused, he is always ready to be a part of a group doing something else. And he always has fun too! It is such a great quality!

Another of my favorite things about Aidan is that he still will come cuddle on my lap! My sweet boy, my eight year old boy still loves his momma and daddy and is willing to show it.

Aidan is very competive. He hates to lose at anything, but if there is ever a contest to see who can keep from laughing the longest, he will lose almost immediately. His laughter overflows and he simply can't hold it in. I love watching him on the soccer field because there'll often be a faint giggle coming from him as he chases after the ball. Someone who laughs that much just makes life more fun.

We're so thankful for the eight years we've been able to laugh with Aidan and look forward to many more.

-Mike & Amy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

night hike

A few weeks ago, we went on a night-hike with the cub scouts. It was a lot of fun. We walked around Lake Padden starting at 6 pm, stopping at stations all along the way that had activities for the kids to do.
The kids all had a lot of fun at each station. After completing the activity they earned a sticker for the treasure map we were working on as a team.

It was really, really cold. The boys didn't mind but Ava and I did (a little).

In fact, I should admit that one of us did not enjoy herself much at all. In retrospect, we should not have brought Ava along.

One of the highlights for the boys was getting to wear their headlamps!

One of my favorite stations was the "fire safety house." Fire fighters had set up this house for the kids to come in and learn how to escape safely in a smoke filled room. They thought it was cool and I was glad for them to have this experience. At home we have talked about how to do it and practiced our drills but it is hard for them to understand a smoke filled room, so that was cool.

All in all it was a really great experience.

family photos

While at the park a while back, we attempted to capture that great family photo for our Christmas card. Why is it so hard to get a good picture of everyone?

Yes, everyone is in the picture and no one is crying. But we think (hope) we can do better.

We were able to get some great pictures of Grandma D. and the kids. They are all so cute!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

a date with my beautiful wife

It almost never happens. Less than once a year for sure. But last night, due to the gracious offer of my sister, I was able to take my wife on an overnight date. I had just the place in mind.

I took off from work a little early and we headed down to Woodinville to visit The Herb Farm. I heard about this place from a friend I work with so we met him and his wife there. Since I travel a lot with my job, the hotel was covered (Marriott points!). We arrived early enough to do some "just the two of us" shopping (again, that never happens). We took a picture of us in the hotel room mirror. So this what we look like, but backwards. If you want to really know what we look like, you'll have to hold the screen up to a mirror to set things right. Confusing, I know.

We arrived at the restaurant at 6:30, a half-hour early, in order to tour the gardens. It was dark and I didn't want to be the irritating guy with the big camera and blinding flash so no pictures of the tour. The restaurant specializes in all local ingredients and herbs picked that day from their farm. We got to sample some of the herbs that would be used throughout the night and see the "recycling system" (2 pigs). Though the restaurant has only been around in it's current form for about 7 years, it's racked up quite the acclaim.

Apparently 5 diamonds is a pretty big deal for people who know about such things. We just came because our friends told us it was an incredible experience and were willing to come with us.

We sat down and looked at the menu. There are no choices at this restaurant. It is nine course meal fashioned after the theme of "A Mycologist's Dream". All the courses featured local mushrooms gathered by a local mushroom expert. I had never heard of most of the mushrooms.

Shortly after being seated, the head chef, who looked way too much like my friend Tim, got up and went through all the courses, explaining his reasoning for combining certain ingredients, how everything was to be prepared and neat little stories about how he was able to acquire all the ingredients used in dishes. I love listening to people talk their passion. Listening to this former White House chef talk about his creations was immensely enjoyable. Before even trying anything I already knew I was going to love it.

6 of the courses came paired with a wine selected by this lady who knew way more about wine than anyone really should know. Again I refer you to the whole "talking your passion" thing. But I admit my wine pallet is not nearly developed enough to fully appreciate all the thought and care she put into picking the perfect wine for this food. But I enjoyed it all. Even the dessert wine at the end.

Before the first course, the entire staff came out and was introduced, including which prestigious culinary school they'd attended and which premier chef they'd studied under. It was incredible. Even the guitar player had attend some renowned conservatory of music in Spain. He was great, by the way, and we were seated right next to him.

Finally the first course came. Carrot soup from that day's harvest in their "beyond organic" gardens. Crab and artichoke cocktail from Drayton Harbor and wild bear's tooth mushroom tempura with aioli (tasted similar to calamari). At the end we decided it may have been the best course of the night (other than dessert) but it's really hard to pick one out of nine when they're all so good. We didn't take pictures of the other dishes. Kinda got wrapped up in conversation and the whole experience.

The next day as our excursion wound to a close we really started missing our kids. We were reminded that as much fun as an overnight date is, we're nowhere near deprived to only have do this once per year. As we talked about them pretty much the whole way home, it became clear that there is precious little that we'd prefer to do without them. I know a lot of families take their "date night" very seriously. Since our kids go to bed at 8PM every day, we kinda feel like we have a date night every night.

But it's still nice to do something special. We don't eat out a whole lot. It not healthy and always seems to cost more than it's worth. But something like this is more than just eating out; this a epicurean experience of the highest caliber. And I get to give my hard working, homeschooling wife a night on the town, away from all her normal concerns.

And wow; she cleans up pretty well. And no I'm not talking about the house. (even though she's good at that too)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

pumpkin patch -take one

Last week we piled into the car with Grandma D for an exciting trip to the pumpkin patch. Once we arrived, we found out that our favorite patch is closed most weekdays (so much for avoiding crowds). This is how Ava felt about it at first.

But then we decided to go play at the park instead.

32 and he can still whip himeself around the bar!

And you would never guess Grandma D's age!

Aidan and Luke sharing a hot chocolate.
I think the hot chocolate might have been Aidan's favorite part of the trip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

morning memory work

One of our family's favorite rituals is going over our memory work after breakfast. We're big believers in memorization. Fortunately, our church is also big on it and our boys love it. Their little brains are like sponges, soaking it up--often without even knowing it. Many times their ability to repeat a verse outshines their comprehension of its meaning. That's okay with us. The understanding will come. In addition to memorizing scripture verses, our family also commits to memory what we consider to be faithful summaries of scripture, primarily the Apostles' Creed and the Heidelberg Catechism. It is only within the last few years of our life that we have begun working with our kids in memorizing these things, but the fruit has been very compelling. I can't even count how many times I've heard these words repeated in their prayers. They've taken these teachings and not only memorized them, but in time have come understand them well enough to use them as they pray doctrinally sound prayers. And we're big on doctrinally sound prayers.

For a few years now, our family has recited the Lord's Prayer every Sunday along with our congregation as part of our morning worship service. In a similar manner, we recite the Apostles' Creed every Sunday in the evening service.

We'd never specifically worked with Ethan on the Apostles' Creed, but yesterday morning we figured we'd see how much of it had soaked in over the past few years. Might as well try the Lord's Prayer too.

I'm often reminded of the old adage that more is caught than taught. Here's another example from Ebo. It's funny that he has perhaps 25% of the actual words memorized, but has the cadence and sound of the syllables down pretty well. It's also curious that, never being one to waste even a second, he tries to get words out while both exhaling AND inhaling, often to hilarious effect.

Also, I just want to make clear that this is far more a product of consistent family ritual than of any kind of prodigious intelligence on Ebo's part. The other day after gymnastics, Ethan's teacher mentioned to Amy that that "he may be colorblind" because he was often incapable of following directions when running over to a certain color was part of the activity. We were a little concerned so we ran some nonscientific tests at home. Turns out that Ethan is not colorblind. He just hasn't sorted out which ocular experience goes with the labels blue, green, yellow, etc.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

a few of Aidan's favorite things (part two)

More of Aidan's favs include:

6. cub scouts. He loves every minute of cub scouts. Aidan is a wolf this year and has a terrific den of boys and an awesome leader who takes pictures and lets me steal them off her blog (thanks Jill).

7. laughing (he is our biggest giggler). Getting Aidan to laugh is super easy and oh so fun!

8. arguing his case (and being right). If you have met Mike and I then you totally get how he could be this way.

9. gear (whatever the situation, the gear, uniform and tools or weapons matter a lot to Aidan).

10. All things battle/war/combat.

The last couple of things I can think of for Aidan include: community and friends, competition, caring for the chickens when they were chicks, family, and working with his mind (like his daddy).

(That's a chick on his shoulder)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

a few of aidan's favorite things (part one)

Aidan is our first born and in many ways the trend-setter in our family. Here are some of his favorite things:

1. being read to (with reading as a close second). From the beginning of his life Aidan has loved nothing more than to have someone read him a good story (or a interesting non-fiction book). He loves audio books too; we almost always have one going in the car and Aidan is always the most riveted. Aidan doesn't just listen to good stories, he "goes there." Seriously, if he is reading or listening to a book it is really difficult to get his attention. He feels whatever the main characters are feeling, laughs when they do, is triumphant when they are and worries or is scared when they are. As a result of all this Aidan's retention is amazing! Oh and it is not just books that are meant for him; even if I am reading a picture book to Ava which Aidan has memorized from years of having it read to him as a toddler, he comes over to listen to me read!

2. Aidan also loves reading to himself. Ditto from above regarding trying to get Aidan's attention when he is reading. This is how we often find him. If we are going to go somewhere, Aidan will ask if he can bring a few books. If you take the time to look at those books once in the car, you will find that "few" is somewhere around ten!

3. going to church. Aidan loves every part of it. He listens intently to the sermon, sings heartily with the hymns, loves Sunday school, plays football with all the other kids after worship, and gets ecstatic when we tell him there is a fellowship meal or that we are sharing lunch with someone from church. This is a picture of all of us (Ethan is the baby) on the day we became members and had the boys baptized and this is our pastor whom we love and are so thankful for, Kevin Efflandt.

4. hunting (with guns as a close second). These pictures are from a hunting trip he took with papa (my dad) last year... can you see him?

5. playing wii football.
I should mention that Aidan has always been very focused about his passions. His first year it was balls, year two: tractors, year three: construction, year four: firefighting, year five: soldiers, year six: soldiers/football, year seven: football, year eight: football/?. Thus, it may seem repetitive to say he loves football, reading about football, and playing wii football. But that is just part of who Aidan is!