Monday, December 31, 2012

Singing Christmas Songs

Since the kids are older we decided to spend some time each night singing Christmas songs and letting the kids play an instrument while Gary played the guitar. 

DSCN2057Ethan’s favorite song was Angels We Have Heard on High all because of the “glo---ri-a”.  He really liked that part of the song.  He also liked Hark the Herald Angels Sing because of the phrase “newborn king”.  We received a singing Christmas card last year which played that song, and Ethan would sing the words, “newborn king”.  So he remembered that and liked the song a lot.

DSCN2066Each night Sienna shook the bells or shaker some, but she mostly danced around in circles.  DSCN2377The picture above was taken on the 27th.  Yes, we’re still singing Christmas songs!—not that I mind. :-)  Sienna probably turned in circles for 2-3 songs (each with about 3 verses).  As soon as we finished a song, she would say, “Again”.  She would shake the bells and shaker the whole time she was turning in circles.  I’m not sure how she didn’t fall over from spinning so much. 

I just assumed that we wouldn’t be singing Christmas songs once the 25th had passed, but Ethan has requested each night since Christmas that we sing Christmas songs!  Now he will request “let heaven and nature sing” meaning Joy to the World and “oh come let us adore Him” meaning Oh Come All Ye Faithful.  He doesn’t know the words to the songs, but has learned some of the phrases.  Sienna started requesting “Dora” meaning Oh Come All Ye Faithful (oh come let us ADORE Him).  It took me a little bit to figure out that “Dora” was “adore”.  I have some great videos of the kids singing and dancing, but I don’t know how to put a video on here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cute Christmas Pictures

Here are a few Christmassy pictures from this month that I thought were cute, but they didn’t really fit on the other blog posts. :-)

DSCN1988DSCN1998Ethan and Sienna playing the tambourine and bells.  Check out Sienna’s “Dorothy” shoes that my mom got her.

DSCN1962- Better oneWe tried a lot to get a family photo with us dressed up, but most attempts were unsuccessful.  How in the world do families get a good picture of the whole family when they have 3 or 4 young kids?!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Day

We had a good-sized group over for Christmas dinner.  Since there were 6 boys all under age eight (5 of them not being in school yet), I thought it would be good for them to burn some energy off at the beginning.  So the kids played outside in the snow when they arrived.

DSCN2242Some of the kids ate at the “big” table while some ate at the “little” table.  DSCN2244Before it was over Joshua and Nathan ended up on their mom’s laps, and Sienna ended up in her booster seat.  So, William was the only one left at the “little” table. 

DSCN2273After we ate Gary played the guitar while we all song Christmas songs.  The kids played instruments (well, at least some of the kids did :-)).

DSCN2265It was great having the Custers, Strellmans, Luiza’s mother from Romania, and Amanda over!

It is such a blessing to have the freedom to celebrate the birth of Christ and sing Christian songs without worrying if my neighbor will call the police (many people in certain parts of the world are not able to openly celebrate like us).

I hope all of you reading this had a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Adam

The people at Campus Crusade’s headquarters here celebrate Christmas Adam, which is the day before Christmas Eve (Adam came before Eve… get it? :-)).  We usually have a dinner and then sing songs or have some kind of program.  In recent years Gary and I have not been able to pay much attention beyond eating with having young kids.  In fact, this year we were out in the hallway for most of the program because that is where the kids were.

DSCN2124Ethan counting to 10 while the other kids (except William and Sienna) ran down the hall.  I’m not sure what they were playing since there was no place to hide.  I think it was a version of tag.  

DSCN2139Ethan followed one of the older kids back into the main room where everyone was while Gary and I were still out in the hall with Sienna.  Unknown to us, the little kids had been told to come up front.  Then Ethan said with a loud voice, “I’m a kid!”  We were told that it was really funny and everyone laughed.  When we did make it back in the room, the kids were singing.

DSCN2145At the end of each song Ethan kept asking Greg if he was going to play the bongo drum.  Either he ended up asking if he could play it or Greg thought he was asking that, so Ethan helped play the last song on the drum.  He really enjoyed that.


Saturday, December 22, 2012


A couple of weeks ago we had a decent amount of snow.  I’m not sure who was more excited… me or Ethan.

DSCN1815Sienna doesn’t remember the snow from last year, so this was kind of like her first experience trying to play in it. Her snow suit and boots are all too big for her, so she had a hard time even walking around. And, if she fell down, she couldn’t get herself back up. She wanted to go back inside after being out a very short time. I ended up bringing her snack outside so we could stay a little longer. She loves to eat!

DSCN1812Ethan trying to help Sienna up… unsuccessfully.  DSCN1813

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Gary and Ethan got the Christmas tree put up the Saturday after Thanksgiving and then we decorated it the following Saturday.

DSCN1737Ethan was eager to help Daddy out in every aspect of decorating the tree. 

DSCN1741Trying to figure out the lights

  DSCN1754This picture totally captures Ethan and Sienna’s personality or maybe it’s just the difference in being boy and girl.  All she wanted to do during this part was to read.  Ethan loves to read, but in this case he would rather “work” on something or “figure something out”.

We finished decorating the tree on Sunday after our guests left from celebrating Advent.DSCN1783Ethan and Sienna each hung the Christmas ornament that Grandma gave them for their first Christmas. DSCN1786

DSCN1795We tried to get some pictures of the kids after decorating the tree, but most didn’t turn out.  Sienna isn’t much for sitting still for Mommy’s 10 million pictures.  We thought this one was pretty cute though.

Friday, November 30, 2012


The American missionaries here celebrate Thanksgiving.  Though we celebrate the holiday, there are certain things that are different because of living overseas.  The main one is that you can’t go to the grocery store to buy a turkey.  But we can order one from the butcher in our village.  He has gotten used to the Americans here coming and ordering turkeys from him this time of the year.  A Hungarian friend said that the butcher told her that he sold 40-some turkeys last year for Thanksgiving.  A long time ago, you would have picked up your turkey with the neck still attached.  When we picked ours up, the neck was cut off and placed inside the turkey, and the giblets and insides had all been taken out.

One interesting thing about getting the turkey was that we didn’t get to decide what size turkey we wanted.  The butcher just said that it would be between 6 and 9 kilograms (13-20 pounds).  He also didn’t tell us how much it would cost.  When Gary went to pick it up, he asked for the smallest turkey he had, and the butcher gave him an 18 pound turkey!  The price was shocking too.

DSCN1676We were glad to have the Custer family join us for Thanksgiving this year. 

Kim and her first turkey!My 1st turkey

Some of you may be wondering how I could have gone this long without cooking a turkey.  Before Gary and I got married, we would always be invited to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving. Since we’ve been married, we’ve only been in Hungary for 2 Thanksgivings (this was our 3rd) due to being gone for furloughs and recruiting trips that were over Thanksgiving.

everything from scratchI’m not a huge fan of the traditional Thanksgiving food (LOTS of starches), but the food was good.  Michelle and I spent a long time cooking since everything has to be done from scratch.  She even made the onions from scratch that go on the green bean casserole. 

CIMG0854Gary read a Thanksgiving book to the kids. 

CIMG0857After the book they drew hand turkeys.

It’s fun being able to do more things in regards to holidays as the kids are getting older.  I’m eager to see what all Ethan is able to understand with Advent this year.

There are soooo many things to be thankful to God for.  I’m not even going to begin to write them on this blog or I will be writing for a very long time!

Pumpkin Pics

I thought it would be fun to compare some pictures of Ethan at 20 months and Sienna at 20 months.  Since they have the same birthday it is fun to look at pictures of them wearing the same coat at the exact same age.

 DSCN0913  Above is Sienna at 20 months, and below is Ethan at 20 months (from two years ago).  Notice how much bigger the coat is on her than on him.IMG_6601

DSCN0751Here is another picture of Sienna from this fall.

DSCN0762Here are a few pictures of Ethan from this fall.  DSCN0890

DSCN0954And here they are together

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Sienna dropped her morning nap the week before Gary went to Russia.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to do a “special” outing with Daddy gone and us having the time to go somewhere.  So we went to the Tropicarium (which is only a 10-minute drive away).  The Custers joined us, which made it much more fun for the kids and for me!

DSCN1277Watching the sting rays   

DSCN1260Ethan really enjoyed the “rain forest” and especially the waterfall.

DSCN1294I think Michelle’s favorite part was this little area that had a black light.  Very cool!  And, everyone was appropriately dressed for the photo except Ethan, who was wearing a dark shirt.

DSCN1320This tunnel was my favorite part.  I think Ethan and William liked it a lot too.DSCN1322There were several different kinds of sharks in the tank.

DSCN1346On the other side of the tank there was a sitting area where everyone sat and watched the sharks and rays swim around. 

DSCN1357Sienna liked all of the pretty colors.

DSCN1366The kids could climb into this little thing that went inside one of the smaller tanks that had sting rays.

DSCN1384 The guinea pigs were a hit with the kids. 

DSCN1397Face-to-face encounter

DSCN1409I guess he is making an alligator face.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Update on Ethan

Since I gave an “update” so-to-speak on Sienna I thought I would also share some things that Ethan has been up to.

DSCN1015I mentioned that Sienna has dropped her morning nap.  Ethan has mostly dropped his afternoon nap.  He still has a quiet time in his room and sometimes will fall asleep during that time.  One day he asked if he could read his Bible downstairs while we both had our quiet time.  As you see, he fell asleep while “reading".

DSCN1201Ethan enjoys showing Sienna books and telling her what is in them. 

DSCN1481Ethan is very social, like his mom, but chose to look at this motorcycle/race car magazine during a birthday party instead of jumping around the room with the other kids.  This was very unusual for him.  We don’t have any books about race cars or motorcycles, so maybe that is why he was so interested.

DSCN1533Ethan was playing outside one day while Gary was in Russia earlier this month.  I heard this strange noise and realized that he was moving this green trash can (that is for leaves, branches, etc.) to the other side of the house.  He then spent quite a while putting leaves in the can.  Later in the week, before Gary returned, we all spent time outside raking leaves and putting them in the green trash can.  I kept thinking how great this was that Ethan WANTED to do this type of thing (and doesn’t know anything about receiving money for it like with an allowance).  That will probably change when he’s older.  DSCN1534

Ethan is VERY curious about EVERYTHING.  I thought it was normal for him to ask so many questions until we had dinner with a family who has 7 children.  She home schools and asked me if he was always so inquisitive.  That was when I realized that all kids weren’t this way.

He is very good with remembering names of people and often recognizes what car belongs to whom.  We can pull up in the parking lot where we go to church, and Ethan can say, “There is so-and-so’s car.”  He is good at connecting one piece of information with another.

DSCN1708He likes instruments, especially the guitar.  He would probably like the piano more if we actually had one.

It has been interesting for me to look back at some notes from graduate school concerning mind styles, etc. and be able to look at the styles with my own child (rather than a student).