Tuesday 22 August 2023

Ava - you're 12!

Dear Ava,

Another year flown by - another year under our belts. As my body has been growing another little member of our family, so much of this pregnancy has felt eerily familiar to my pregnancy with you. The intense sickness, the tiredness, the teaching with a bump and snaffling ginger biscuits in the cupboard to keep the nausea at bay before facing a class of children. It feels somehow like the right kind of way to bookend our family. Our firstborn and our final. So similar in so many ways.

Ava crocheting a blanket for her new baby sibling!

And here we are... 12 years later. 12 years after those deep blue eyes blinked and looked up at me for the first time... when I felt I knew you so well... and yet I didn't know you yet - not like I do now anyway. Not as the kind, compassionate, gentle soul that you are... not as the avid bookworm, skilled footballer, music loving linguist and wonderful friend. You are an all-rounder. You love trying new things, and pretty much take to everything like a duck to water... and yet you have a humility and a gentleness about you which is beautiful to see. You take your responsibilities as a big sister seriously, and Papa and I are so grateful that our other four (!!) children have a role-model like you to look up to.

The gang at the Trevi Fountain in Rome this summer

This year has contained some mountainous change for you, and has been a year where we've really seen you developing and growing in your specific interests. This time last year I was gearing myself up for some big emotions as you made the huge change to secondary school, but you have taken it all in your stride and thrown yourself into everything you can - football, netball, athletics and choir. You are quite the little sportswoman, and as someone so petite, its been thrilling to watch you getting to take part in bigger events and watch your fierce competitiveness push you to achieve some amazing results. I will never forget your first sports day at your new school, when in the 800m race you fell back almost to the back of the 15 other runners as they whizzed off - their long legs far outpacing your little ones, and then I watched with bated breath as you pulled it back and overtook every single one of them to come in first by a good 30m! I almost missed the race... I'm SO glad I got to be there to witness that moment for you!

You love football, and I love that your generation are getting to witness women achieving amazing things in sport! You loved following the World Cup (despite the disappointing result!) and you love your football training at school and every Saturday where you are really being stretched and skilled by some really talented coaches. I love that about you - you are SO like me in almost every way - your appearance, your personality, your quirks and mannerisms... but when it comes to sport, you are definitely your Father's daughter... and I love seeing you thrive in an area I was never particularly gifted at!

At church you have loved moving up to the older youth group and have such a lovely and solid group of girls around you, and some wonderful leaders who you really respect. I love your friendships - at School and at Church. You make wise choices with your friends (you made friends with your best friend on your first day of Reception and are still thick as thieves!) and the girls that you love so much have come to mean so much to us as a family too. And then of course there's your sister, who remains your number one fan. I'm so thrilled to see how close you are even as you grow up (I won't deny there is plenty of bickering too of course!) I hope you always have such a lovely bunch of friends around you. 

Most of all, though, I love seeing your relationship with Jesus grow and mature. Gone are the days of Bible stories in your Pyjamas... it has been pure
joy to see you take your joys and sorrows to Jesus off your own back. The fruit in your life has been evident to see, and I love seeing the Spirit at work in you. He succeeds in changing and transforming where our parenting fails time and time again. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Our prayer for you is that you would continue to lean on the Saviour, to find your joy in him, to run to him when you're struggling... and to build every brick of your life on His firm foundation.

There is no better advice a Mama can give to her daughter.

Ava we love you so much... keep being your wonderful self... keep running to the Saviour for all you need... and keep your eyes fixed on Him - the author and perfecter of your faith.

Happy 12th birthday sweet Ava!

Mama and Papa x 

PS - I'll finish up with a few highlights from this year!

Experiencing life in the cockpit on our way back from Norway in May!

A 121 trip to the British Museum with Mama - we totally geeked out on the biblical history!

Football, football and more football!

Playing "Young Anne" in a full scale production of Kipps the Musical at a local theatre


Friday 16 June 2023

Dear Jonas - you're 8!

Dear Jonas,

Along comes another year and I ask the question again...

"What would you like to do for your birthday this year Jonas?"... and I get the same old answer!

"Play football Mama!"

And so ANOTHER football party with your crazy friends it was!

You are football mad - you would eat, sleep and breath football if you could. I love seeing you out there on the pitch when I can (Papa covers your matches while I ferry your sisters around on a Saturday morning!) but I love seeing you play as often as possible. 

You continue to follow in your Papa's footsteps in every way - you two are two peas in a pod. You both hate tomatoes, you both love football, you both are determined, you're both great friends to others, you're both quiet leaders, fiercely loyal and both get a kick out of winding others up! But this year I have enjoyed finally finding something you enjoy like your Mama - you devour books, and you love to draw!

Watching your love of reading turn from something you quite enjoyed to something you really, really love has been so much fun... I've loved sneaking new books into your collection that you initially perhaps wouldn't go for yourself and I've set myself the challenge of teasing you away from the Story Tree House books to a slightly more varied literary diet. You're really enjoying "Encyclopedia Brown" and "The Secret Seven" but I still find you sneaking back to your old favourite Football player "Rules!" books! For you, though, nothing beats a good old-fashioned copy of the Beano... and I love finding little comic strips that you've sketched and written lying around! You take so much pride in your artwork!

You're a quiet leader... when I picked you up from your School sleepover last week, your teachers all commented what a strong leader you were, but in a really gently way. It was such a lovely way to hear your described... how you gently drew your teammates out of their shells and worked together to win the challenges you were set as a team. You've always been a team player, and you have the loveliest group of friends. All as fun-loving as you are. You are quietly determined, and have a stubborn streak. You know what you're doing and you do it well. You have always been understated. I love that about you.

Of course, it isn't all roses... you play the "annoying younger brother" role to a "T", but you also adore your big sisters and your brother remains your bestie. I love seeing the two of you boys together... one minute you'll be play fighting, the next being ridiculously affectionate with each other. You have your own language "Somalee" which you both speak and understand (you have used it since you were 2 and 3 so its very well established now!), though it makes no sense to the rest of us... and there are entire songs which you have composed together in your language which you both sing along at the top of your lungs to the rest of our amusement! I hope the two of you will always remain as close as you are now!

One of the things I have loved this year Jonas, is seeing you start to explore faith more. To ask questions and seek answers... to realise that our faith as your parents is not something you inherit, but a relationship you have to have for yourself. You love youth group, you have been the keenest member of our Kids doctrine group on Sunday nights, and a willing volunteer for all the crazy illustrations. I pray you will always want to learn and grow, to ask questions and seek answers and find that Jesus is the rock that stands through it all. Our prayer is that you will seek the Lord your whole life, and find in Him the peace that your name means, and that only he can provide... we pray you'll do everything you do for an audience of One.

Jonas - we love you, we love your personality, your fun energy and enthusiasm, your loyalty and friendliness to everyone you meet.

Happy 8th birthday!

Mama and Papa xx

Monday 16 January 2023

* GIVEAWAY * Abigail - Mighty Girl, Mighty God

Over the years, I've had some lovely opportunities to sample and review some amazing goodies for my family through this blog... and lovely books are right up there with my favourite review items. When the lovely Lucy from The Hope Filled Family dropped me a message to ask if I'd be up for renewing her newest children's book, you can be sure I gave an immediate and resounding "yes!" She then very kindly offered me a second copy to giveaway to one of you!

So here we are!

"Abigail" is a gorgeous rhyming book, geared at 4-8 year olds, which tells the story of Abigail, Nabal and David from 1 Samuel 25. As book lovers, our shelves at home are lined with books about the well known heroes of the Bible, but I love that this book dedicates all its time and energy to one of its lesser known, but very worthy characters - and a female one at that! Abigail is wise, shrewd and God-fearing and I love that my crew got to get to know her in the fun pages of this book!

The book is all in rhyme, adding a fun element to it. A couple of the rhyming lines were harder to scan, but honestly, its a fantastic piece of poetry, and the girls were able to confidently follow the rhyme scheme to tell the story without any adult intervention. For some reason, rhyme just seems to keep kids hooked in a way that prose doesn't always succeed, so this was a win on that front!

As well as that, it has some beautiful and expressive illustrations!

There's nothing like some good artwork to help a story, and the beauty of this book is that it has both - a fantastic and followable storyline as well as some beautiful illustrations to go with it! Everyone poured over the detailed drawings on each page!

What I think I appreciated most about the story though, was that Lucy was able to present issues like wisdom, of justice and of repentance in the book, all while keeping it fun and enjoyable. She really got the detail of the Abigail storyline, while also keeping the reader engaged. We thoroughly enjoyed this rhyming read and would highly recommend it to anyone with littles in the 4-8 age range!

I also loved the "character introduction" page which is essentially a "who's who" - and I loved the fact that Lucy told us where we could find the original story in the Bible too!

You can grab a copy on Lucy's website or on Amazon for £8.99

OR you can enter to win a free copy right here!

Here's how you can get an entry...
1. Leave a comment below!
3. Share the post on your stories and make sure you tag me in it so I can see!

I can't wait to be able to send one of you a copy, so you can enjoy this fabulous gem of a book too!

I'd love to know who you'd love to buy it for! (And don't forget, if you engage with the comments that's an automatic entry!)

In the meantime, I'll leave you with my little bookworms!

Saturday 31 December 2022

2022 - A Year of Transitions...

If there's ever a time to resurrect a dormant blog, then surely the new year is it! This space was so precious for so many years, and now and then I find myself returning to it... just to dive into the memories of life with very small children. Somehow remembering the physical intensity of those early years makes me appreciate the phase we are in now.

Saturday 16 April 2022

Happy 5th Birthday Elias!


Our Elias - 5 years old!

Our space-mad, Lego-loving, mini theologian, arms-and-legs everywhere enthusiast turned 5. It now feels official that we are out of the baby zone and into the realm of full blown kids. 

Poor Elias actually spent his birthday recovering from a bug the boys had as we travelled back from Wales on Thursday, so it turned out to be a low-key day with the family. Presents, birthday breakfast, the sharing of "what we love about Elias" around the table and a visit from the grandparents.

Friday 4 March 2022

Happy 9th birthday our Heidi!

Dear Heidi,

Nine years old... our baby girl is definitely out of the little years now! It seems like a lifetime ago that they lifted you out, showed me your fuzzy dark head and shouted "It's a girl!"... the early days of your life were blissful. The newborn phase has always been super intense and emotional and hard... and yet somehow with you it felt easy. Perhaps the Lord allowed us that season of grace before the hard months that followed when you fell ill, but those first nine weeks were carefree and wonderful in every way.

Friday 5 November 2021

Redeeming Advent // A Review + A Giveaway!

** Giveaway winner has been announced over on Instagram. @jolarcs please contact me to claim your prize! Huge thanks to everyone who took part! ***

Since January, I've been working my way through the books of the Bible chronologically with a group of friends from church. It's been incredibly helpful to see the context of each narrative, to understand the bigger picture - and to have some accountability along the way! Right now, we're diving into 1 Kings, and it's fascinating to see Jesus shining through the pages of Old Testament Scripture. I have loved digging into some of the Old Testament narratives and getting to know him better in books some might not even expect to find him!