Thursday, 15 April 2021

Dear Elias - you're 4!

Our little Elias,

Not so little anymore! How are you FOUR already? This really blows my mind - that the teeny tiny little bundle that we held in that dark ICU ward with bleeps and beeps sounding all around us has grown into this strong, sociable, charismatic little man! 

You are a mischievous bundle of effervescent energy, talking a mile a minute and literally not sitting still for more than 5 seconds! You're such a friendly little soul, always with a smile, and comfortable in your own skin. You have no qualms about entering unknown situations and you're utterly fearless when it comes to dangerous situations - we like to call you our little thrill seeker!

You are also intensely loyal to your little friends... and we love that.

Elias - we love you! We love your cheeky grin, your crazy made up language with your brother, your DEEP theological prayers which leave us all astonished, your loyalty to your little friends and your optimistic and positive outlook in everything you do! You came into the world in a blaze of glorious drama and energy and you haven't stop since. We are SO grateful to God for how he protected you - for bringing you safely into the world when it was a bit scary at times, and for allowing you, even in your little four years, to declare at every opportunity you can, as your name testifies - "The Lord is God!"

You remain utterly obsessed by Toy Story, and its still the only film you'll sit and watch all the way through (you get the wriggles in every other film!) - you are collecting the Toy Story characters and were thrilled to add Jessie to your collection today! I love seeing your interests develop, and seeing how your likes and dislikes and loves are adapting as you get bigger. You are now a full member of the "lego gang" with your siblings and are forever found creating all sorts of interesting creations - ALWAYS symmetrical. I love seeing your creativity and your love of order and clarity combine - its fascinating!

We love you so much little man - most of all I love your curiosity about life, about God, about people... you fit the four-year-old "question asking" phase perfectly... and we're gearing ourselves up for a year with lots of questions! Bring it on!

Thank you Lord for the gift that is our Elias... we pray he will always seek to know you with the same enthusiasm and joy he does now!

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag Li-Li!

Mama and Papa xxx

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Dear Heidi - you're 8!

Happy Birthday Heidi girl!

Our creative, exuberant, home-loving girl is eight! Of all of our children, you were the one I thought would get away without a "lockdown" birthday, but I was wrong! Hard to believe your seventh birthday Narnia party was one of the last things we did before things got serious with Covid last year!

And yet here we are, a full year later. And this year it has been a joy to get to spend more time with you. You are passionate and enthusiastic and have grown up so much this year. Getting to teach you and learn alongside all of you this year has been so fascinating for me, and seeing your creative streak grow and develop has been so much fun. 

One of my favourite things to watch this past year has been your love of baking. From asking if you could help me make cookies last year, to full blown self-invented "Strawberry Cheesecake Cake" this year, you have pushed yourself and explored your creativity. Mostly successfully (no one makes melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies like you do), sometimes with questionable results (the cupcakes you decided to adapt the recipe on and play with adding milk to the equation, resulting in hollow cakes!)... you have loved this little hobby and its been a joy to see the joy it brings you as you get covered in flour and fish another egg shell out of the mixture! I will never get tired of coming downstairs in the morning to find a tray of cookies or a cake tin ready to go in the oven!

You've thrown yourself into every homeschool project we've done with FULL enthusiasm... and you work hard to present your work beautifully and artistically. Your homeschool folder is a work of art, and I can't wait to see you poring over it one day in the future with kids around your ankles (maybe in that South American orphanage for street kids you're planning!) telling them what life was like in lockdown. You have thrived in our home nest, and I know you would rather things stayed exactly as they are - school restarting is not your first choice... and yet I know you'll go in courageously, and though you may not admit it, love all the fun projects and seeing your fabulous friends and teachers again.

Heidi you have taught me so much in eight years... we have walked the hardest paths together, but you are also the one who pushes our family to the peaks of joy. You are hilariously funny, and your joy bubbles over infectiously... we are so very thankful every day that the Lord spared you all those years ago, and we never take for granted your heart-on-sleeve, fun and feisty, heart and soul of our home character.

I'm grateful that even when you get upset and frustrated, or when you make a mistake, you quickly show genuine empathy and repentance. That is such a gift, Heidi, and one that I hope you will always have. To be quick to ask for forgiveness is something that most people find incredibly difficult, and I love seeing the tender-hearted way you recognise when mistakes have been made and seek to make them right. I love seeing the Lord working in your heart, and I pray your love for him will continue to grow as you grow, and that you will know the precious assurance of how loved you are by him, how beautiful you are in his sight and how his forgiveness extends beyond anything we could ever imagine.

We love you our Heidi girl... 

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Mama and Papa


Thursday, 29 October 2020

Dear Elias - off to Preschool!

Oh my boy... my baby boy! (I know you would deny that's what you are, but I'm afraid that's what you'll always be to me!)

It's perhaps testimony to the busyness of life right now that it's taken me until half term to write this post... as usual I'm playing catch up on my blog, but I couldn't let this milestone go without writing a little something for it!

Six weeks ago, you stepped through those nursery doors for the first time - without so much as a look or a wave back! You were SO ready for nursery, and school is so familiar to you, that as far as you were concerned, the fact that the big kids went back after 6 months at home it meant it was time for you to go too. You have always been a confident and sociable little man, easily making friends and getting up to mischief, and this experience was no different... you have settled in super quickly, have a little crew of buddies around you and are charming the socks off your teachers too.

For your bigger siblings, the last year before preschool was always filled with one on one time with me; lots of playdates and playgroups, coffees and homedays. Your last year looked somewhat different... when your big siblings were sent home from school in March, not to return for a full six months due to Corona Virus, you revelled in the company. I sometimes feel bad that you missed out on some of that 1 to 1 time, but then I watch your bonds with your siblings, how much you delighted in having Jonas at home, and I know really I have nothing to worry about. Nursery is currently only mornings, and we still have our fun-day Mondays when you stay home with me which I love.

I am cherishing every minute of this year, of having a little bit of special time just with you before you fully join your big siblings in the big wide world of school. I love how chatty you are, I love that you are so friendly and so inquisitive. You are our little whirlwind - always active, always physical, always lively and always into everything... but you are also incredibly affectionate and warm, always wonderfully complimentary of those you love and eager to please. 

You are a much loved littlest member of our family, and your big siblings were thrilled to have you join them at school.

Li-Li... we pray for you that you will continue to be the little light that you are at school... shining out the joy and wonder of Jesus... welcoming all, bringing energy and enthusiasm to everything you do. I'm so excited to see you grow and mature over these school years, and praying the Lord will make you a little man after his own heart. That you're little testimony will always be exactly what your name means - "the Lord is God"

We love you Elias! And I'm always counting down to our next Monday!

Mama and Papa x

Monday, 24 August 2020

Staycation Summer: A Week in France!

When we asked this little man where he wanted to go if he could go anywhere in the world, his answer was quick and precise.

"Disneyland, Paris"

Of course, this may have been slightly influenced by the fact that we really did go to Disneyland, Paris last summer... but regardless... his mind was made up!

We broadened to France and spent two glorious days exploring our favourite French things - lavender and Disneyland!

So first to the Lavender Fields!
Having been there now, its absolutely crazy to me that we have lived within 20 minutes of such a gorgeous lavender farm and never been before! I think I had a slightly ridiculous concern about the children and the number of bees - and trust me, there were a lot! But the fact is the bees are so ridiculously over-excited about the lavender surrounding them, that they really couldn't care two hoots about the people!

This little lady was cautious at first, but very quickly became comfortable!
You could literally get lost in it!
We spent a gorgeous morning at the Lavender fields... walking up and down the rows (or running if you're my father or children!!), examining all the bees, trying lavender lemonade and lavender cupcakes (both of which were delicious by the way!) and grabbing some dry lavender from the shop! It was just a lovely, relaxed morning, in this beautiful place and it felt like quite a milestone. It was the first "day out" in a public place for us since March. It was lovely! 
We sniffed, and scurried and stared and crawled through the lavender fields. It was such a sensory experience - the light scent of lavender (we were surprised the air didn't smell stronger), the feeling of it running through your fingers, the sight of fields of lavender on each side!
It was just a fun morning absorbing nature in all its sensory wonder. The sight of the green and purple stretching out in vibrant beauty, the faint scent of lavender on the air, the happy buzzing of busy bees and the feel of those little seeds rubbing between your fingers.

If you never made a visit to lavender fields, I highly recommend you go!
For us, it was a particularly educational visit, because lavender has become part of our every day. As we have sought to transition to a more natural way of life over the past three years, lavender oil has become a staple in our home. We use it to promote rest and relaxation as the evening approaches, diffusing it in the children's bedrooms as they nod off and using it to calm fraught emotions. I love making up a natural face serum which contains lavender for its fabulous skin loving properties and we also carry it everywhere with us, using it to sooth sore knees and respond to bites and stings. It's such a versatile botanical... it was fun to see where it all stems from!

And get a family picture of course!
I'd be being dishonest though, if I pretended that everyone loved the experience for the entirety of the time we were there... life with three year olds, hey?!
Thankfully, he was quickly cheered up with a lavender cupcake and some lavender lemonade!

And then the next day we headed to "Disneyland"...

We had a wonderful time, enjoying virtual similutions of each of the children's favourite rides (thank you Youtube!) and then the children prepared their parade for us - complete with costumes, decorated floats (their bikes!) and doughnuts! It was fun! To round it off, we watched Toy Story (Elias' favourite!) with popcorn and all the trimmings.

It was a fun-filled end to our "trip to France" - 

Next up, we were off to Holland!!

Where would you go if you could "visit" anywhere while staycationing at home??

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Dear Ava - you're 9!


Our sweet Ava M,

How, oh how are you nine?! One year from double figures. Half way to adulthood. It feels like the years are flying away from me... that holding you in my arms and singing "Kleiner Schatz" while rocking you before I laid you down to sleep was only a moment ago! You were recalling yesterday the one memory you have from Nursery - when you were caught hiding under the table because you didn't want to do what you had been asked to. I never knew that before, and yet those days of meandering up to that little nursery class with your little friends feels like it was only yesterday.

And yet I feel SO incredibly privileged. In the midst of this worldwide pandemic that we find ourselves in, I feel like I've got to know YOU so much better over the past six months. I knew little mini you so very well, and though its been intense at times with all of you at home, it has been such a joy to get to know the more grown-up you so very well too - perhaps to a degree that I would never had the privilege of having had all this not happened.

You have always been my Miss Independent... ready to go off and adventure the world, but over lockdown I have seen how much you crave adult company. How much joy it brings you just to sit near me and chat away as I work. How good a friend you are and how helpful you have been with the younger children. I am so grateful for your caring and gentle nature, and though you absolutely know how to wind your younger siblings up something horrific (and somehow come off as the angelic, innocent party), you are a wonderful big sister to them, and it brings me joy to see them recognise that and appreciate it. 

You are a FEROCIOUS reader... I have seriously never met anyone - child or adult - who devours books like you do. You love to dive into another world - anything adventure, mystery, fantasy or classical and you are ALL over it. It's fun to chat books with you... to see you get absorbed in another world and face the same frustration I remember so vividly as a child of wishing so hard it was true. On more than one occasion, you and Heidi have been found checking the back of the boys wardrobe for any sign of a secret pathway to Narnia!

You are curious and intellectual. You love to study and understand things. Gradually I see you transitioning out of the world of imaginative play (though Heidi will keep you well and truly grounded in that camp for a little bit longer) and would rather have your nose in a book (fiction or non-fiction - it really doesn't matter!) or chatting away to your sister or your friends. You love a project - a theatre script you're working on, a new novel, a club for your friends and sister to be part of, a show for your siblings to act out. You're a natural leader, and a loyal friend, and you are so comfortable in your own skin. I love that about you.

One of the most precious things to me over the past couple of weeks has been every morning, as you've appeared in my room, armed with your bible and your little box of post-its and highlighters and set yourself up at my desk. I love watching you developing your own habits, and to see the Lord revealing His truth to you without Papa and my input. 

We pray on your 9th birthday, that as you enter another year, as school restarts and you step out of our home again, as you devour stories and invent new ideas... we pray that you would keep routed and grounded in the One who wrote the greatest story ever told. The One who invented and created all things, who is overseeing the narrative of a world that seems in chaos right now, but is nonetheless still working towards the conclusion He has prepared. The One who cares for you and loves you far more sacrificially than any of us could ever conceive of loving another... 

The One who has held you these nine years, and who we pray will go with you every step of every day you walk this earth until one day, we pray, you'll hear the words

"Welcome home, good and faithful servant"...

We love you Ava M - happy birthday sweet girl! We're so excited to celebrate you today!

Much love,

Mama and Papa xxx

Friday, 7 August 2020

Staycation Summer: The Plan (and a few memories from last summer!)

I've had this post in the drafts section of my brain for a while. My brain is full of blog post ideas that have never been written... the sad truth that writing has been forced onto the back burner of life for a season. I do miss the days of finishing up each evening with a daily post. Though at the time it resulted in a lot of late nights, I'm thankful for the record I have of my children's little years... and hope one day to be a little more regularly present here again!

Usually, you'd find us at this time of year fjordside... spending our days pottering round quaint Norwegian villages, and our evenings sitting on the veranda of the cottage, looking out at stunning mountain and fjord views and freaking out about the bat-birds (long story, but I will tell it to you one day!) 
We are incredible privileged that our summers are filled with beautiful memories - picking raspberries along the lane, freshly baked rolls from Bestemor, boat rides with the wind in your hair, children splashing in the icey fjords, stunning mountain views, precious family time, bunches of wildflowers and copious amounts of norwegian waffles. When we realised we weren't going to make it this year, I think its fair to say all of our hearts broke a little bit.
Good news is, I discovered bizarrely that I'd never actually shared our photos from last summer in Norway, so here's a little taster of our usual summer shenanigans, and after a little scroll you might understand why we were so sad not to be heading back for a Scandi summer this year!

We are, however, eternal optimists, and I am always, ALWAYS up for a challenge. So when we realised we weren't going to be travelling the world this summer (thank you Covid!), we decided as a family that the world better just travel to us. 

In our back garden.

A free, fun-filled, family "trip around the world" from the safety of our own home.
Each of us picked a destination... one place we would really like to visit together as a family. We decided we would spend a week "in" each country - exploring the culture, food, landscapes and history. It has turned out to be so much fun! And so I thought I'd share it with you!

Here were the pickings...

Elias (3 years) - France - well, he actually said Disneyland Paris, but we felt that wasn't broad enough!
Jonas (5 years) - Germany
Heidi (7 years) - Holland
Ava (8 years) - USA
Me (not giving the years away!) - Italy
Dave (Definitely not giving the years away!) - Scotland
We have had so much fun recreating these countries, being a bit creative and having a lot of fun along the way. We have been fairly free about it all too... we want to enjoy our holidays after all and not feel too tied down, so each "week" has actually consisted of 2-3 days of more intentional themed activity, and then a lot of down time at home too. Something we've learned to appreciate more over lockdown!

Huge thanks to all of you who helped me out over on Instagram (@liferoundclarinas) with ideas for the different countries - we have utilised some of them, and will continue too as the remaining weeks unfold!!
For now, I'll leave you with a few Norwegian memories... and will post tomorrow with our French week! We had a lot of fun!

I'd love to know where you would choose to go!! What would be your Staycation destination of choice?? Let me know in the comments!!