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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happiness is a 4 Year-Old's Birthday Party

Well, the drama of the previous month continued well into this month.  We still had one unhappy, homesick boy.  However, as you will see at the end of this post, two wonderful events occurred which helped turn things around.  1.  We had a fantastic 4th birthday party for Levi hosted by good friends and 2.  Neenie and Papa arrived!  The morning of Levi's party I told Brad, "I am just excited to spend all day with a happy child."  It is so incredibly difficult seeing your child sad day after day.  And it worked.  He was beyond thrilled with his party.  A few days later, Neenie and Papa's arrival helped more than anything else could.  He still had some fussy moments, but the big weight of his homesickness was gone.  (The post about our fun visit will follow shortly.) 

In other news, an easy winner for Levi's quote of the month related back to some wonderful children's shows, Theo, with which LT is obsessed by the great theologian, R.C. Sproul.  But not in the way we anticipated.  While going to the bathroom before bed one evening he called out in a slightly strained voice, "WE NEED TO BE BORN AGAIN!"  Brad and I had no words.  I still don't…..

Here's a short (well, short as far as our monthly updates go!) post about the month before Neenie and Papa's big arrival:

One of the best Euros I've spent (from the "Euro store", TEDI): A pig dog toy.  Just a girl and her pig.
Cal doesn't care at all about toys or the pig, but he does love to snuggle up.  These two still stay very close, especially since the passing of sweet Luke, who we still miss terribly.  Just this month Levi asked me: "Why is Heaven so far away?  How did Luke get there?"
Play date with Caro and Abel at Olympic Park!  What an absolutely lovely day in every way.  Levi's bike was broken at the time so Abel shared one of his.  What dear friends.  Those boys road all over that place and ended with a splash fest in a mud puddle.  We drove home with Levi stripped down to his skivvies and quite happy.
Another favorite bike riding spot - A farm trail that goes by some horse farms and into the woods.  Doesn't it look like Indiana?  Maybe that is another reason Levi loves it?  Of course, we have never once made it the 2nd half of the walk without some major meltdown.  But there is always hope…..
One of Levi's top 5 places in Germany, The Deutsches Museum's Verkeherzentrum Branch.  Goodness, Germans love "things that go" and have many temples to technology.  But should you have a "things that go"-obsessed 3 or 4 year-old boy, it's pretty great.
The first time Brad took Levi here a very loud train whistle surprised him.  For a few trips after that he would only walk around that hall with his hands over his ears.  
Hands still over ears by the offending "Green Engine", as it is reverently called in our house.
This is a huge pile of rocks in a construction site by Brad's work that we frequently stalk.  I'm sure the driver is wondering why a women keeps taking his picture and video. 
Some Levi and Mommy School Highlights
Clock work
Nomenclature card obsession:  These pictures are from one giant, obsessive, nomenclature explosion one particular day.  (Montessori really is amazing.)
How a "wiggle monster" does nomenclature.
A seedling has sprouted from the seeds we planted!  Though it took "days and days" it wasn't quite as long as either of us anticipated.
Dump truck numbers combining all our number materials.
Because this is what this child needs: Wheels strapped to his feet.  What was I thinking!?
Gluing in missing numbers.
Body systems work with a somewhat obsessively made model of the rib cage that I whipped up. (Can anyone say dorky opera singer turned homeschool mom!?)
SUCH a cool present from Caro and Abel - an archeology kit where you can put bones of dinosaurs together.  We made a triceratops!
Our "car dealership" for pretend play
Sight word towers
Moveable alphabet.  Though he can sound out simple words, can read full sentences, and knows all his basic phonics he resists this activity a bit.  So, we'll revisit….Taking the lead from the child, always, even if I don't understand it!
A rare crafty moment: painting a bird house.
Rescue the trains from the ice!  Will hot or cold water work?  How 'bout salt?  And good old fashioned hammering away at it, too.  Naturally.

 Levi Turns Four
You know you have some dear friends when you feel comfortable asking them to host your child's birthday party.  We live a ways away from everyone, not all our friends have cars, and our house isn't set up for a large indoor party.  Our large bonus areas are dedicated to a guest room/bath.  SO, I hit up our friends Maria and Alec to play host.  We had such a wonderful time planning the menu, shopping for decorations, and then finally throwing the party.  Even the weather cooperated and we got a 70-ish degree day.  For our first little kid birthday party it was pretty much perfect!
Fun in the backyard with Maddie before the party got goin'.  Maria had the cutest pinwheels for them.
The setup… and wonderful food to boot!
Partners in crime in so many ways….
Levi's friends spoiled him with truly thoughtful gifts.
Trying to figure out this tea party thing the girls were playing earlier….
I spent the previous day's nap time getting frozen fingers from our backyard hose as I filled up a massive bucket of water balloons.  It was worth it.
Alec, the balloon twisting master.  His pink pony masterpiece.
Playing Pass the Parcel, a new favorite game.  After Levi won a little piece of chocolate during one of the rounds he exclaimed, "I winned!"
And pin the tail on the sock monkey.
These girls are best buddies
I knew we would do a cake when my parents came to visit a bit later, so we did cookie decorating instead.  After we sang and Levi blew out his candle all his friends (and Miss Maria too!) did a huge pile up on him.  Later he told me, "Blowing out the candle, that was my most favorite part."
The whole crew
On Levi's actual birthday we did a family day a the pool and then a dinner out at a favorite restaurant.  Though chilly we still enjoyed the park at sunset with a view of the distant Alps.
This is a serious tetnis shot waiting to happen, but fun for a brief "ride" anyway.

Kids' menu Schweinbraten and Knödel, two of Levi's favorites, especially when accompanied by a book with Daddy.
Neenie and Papa arrive!  I will do a whole post dedicated to their visit, but we quickly jumped into celebrating Levi's birthday with family.  Levi was thrilled with his car transporter birthday card.
And so amazed when he saw the hot wheels track similar to one his buddy Jacobi showed him during FaceTime!  He had to do his upside down happy dance.
Lining some cars up, ready for when Papa got it all put together.
Opening more Neenie and Papa gifts: trains to add to his Thomas collection.
Our hilarious cake. Mom and I were so excited to make Levi his favorite chocolate cake in the 3D shape of a train.  For some reason things went array during baking and half of it oozed out one side.  So, we were left with half of a 3D cake which I then just slathered in caramel sauce and drew some wheels on.  But you know?  It tasted really good.
Our big 4 year-old.  
Chair Picture, Month 38

Levi Says:
  • Me: You know what?  Daddy is REALLY good at teaching you how to throw a ball. Daddy is really, really strong and knows how to do that really well.  LT: And Mommy is not so great.  [Sadly, he is correct and could probably sense my desperation in that I can't teach him to throw, well, at all.]
  • Lots of his new favorite nonsense word: "Oh, wickus, oh, little wickus…." and also "step toe" [Stay tuned in Month 39 when we finally figured out where these words come from, haha.]
  • I've never met wickus and steptoe.  Let's do it tomorrow.
  • [Remembering an icky reststop during our travels] Momy, WHY do some states and countries have poo smeared all over the floor?  [Sigh.  That really was the case in that bathroom.]
  • [Checking out the 'donuts' in the grocery store] I love you, so I want to get one with a heart on it.
  • [While doing bedtime duty one night, which is usually Daddy's job, as I put on his footie pjs]  You aren't as good as Daddy.  Daddy does it better.  You don't do it as well.
  • [As he ate a little piece of chocolate after dinner]  Daddy, do you want some treat food?  You ate a GREAT dinner!
  • Me: Isn't it so great that we have so many friends in America AND Germany?  LT: We're very blessed.
  • [Talking about places we could possibly see a danger sign and he says:] McDonalds.
  • [Driving past the country butcher near us] That's where we get hot dogs…while you make pancakes…I miss that.  Let's do that again soon with Uncle Tyler [that happened last summer] and Uncle Keith.
  • [After he stepped on a toy car] My brain sent a message to my foot: Oh no!  And my brain says, 'Can I make it feel better?'
  • LOVES talking about how "God picked out the perfect baby for Mommy and Daddy."
  • [Seeing a picture of some lungs on a dr.'s sign:] Look!!!  There are Lungs!  Lungs, Mommy!  I see lungs!
  • [Watching two women roast their satay over a sterno light in a thai restaurant] I wish I had a flame.
  • LT: Daddy, do you have to go to work today?  Daddy: Yes.  LT: Are you sad, Daddy?
  • Mommy, when we're big and grown ups together let's drink coffee and we'll cheers.
  • [Thinking back to his birthday party and missing his Indiana friends] Why was Cobi not at the party?  Why were Cobi and Elias and Isaiah not there?  Why couldn't they come?
  • [Reading one of his favorite audio books, The Little House] Look at all these cars, trucks and trolleys!  The city iiiiiiissssss….humming!!
  • [Asked him if he wanted to talk to Daddy as he was playing with Legos] I'm too busy focusing on this problem.
  • [Loves saying] I'm want to enjoy this beautiful, sunny day.
  • [All cozy with a stack of books on the couch] What a beautiful night for reading!
  • [Whenever we see an ambulance] Dear Jesus, pleeeeeeease let them be okay.  Amen.
  • [Pointing at the Alps] Look at those clouds.  That's smoke over the volcanos.
  • [While Brad was doing his normal parking 'thing' looking for the 'perfect spot'] Daddy, what are you doing?  You're being crazy.
  • Those mannequins look beautiful, like Mommy.
  • Me, tucking him in: What are you going to dream about tonight?  LT: I'm going to close my eyes and go to dreamland and dream about cars and trucks and buses and trolleys and buildings…and dinosaurs.
  • Why is Gracie so mischievous that she wants to eat Cal's food?
  • [After I told him to go back to bed very early one morning] I feel sad.  Tears are coming.
  • [Leaving the town of Weilheim one evening] Thank you Mommy for bringing me here.  [We had been practicing saying that as an alternative to fussing when we leave some place.]  And when we bring Nana and Pa here I'm going to say, 'Thank you Mommy for bringing me here.'
  • I need my butt to feel better.  I need to go potty. [Me: Sigh.]
  • I feel bad when I do something wrong.  [This was in response to loading dog poo into his toy dump truck.]
  • [One of his favorite topics:]  Mommy, did you notice…the trees look a little bit different at night. Why do they look different?
  • I'm in charge of playing.
  • [During his bedtime prayer] Please keep Papa safe in Florida and help him to have a  really good day.  Please be with Luke….please be close to Luke.  And please know that we love….We just LOVE.
  • [Assessing my train track building skills]  We need to try a train.  Hmmmmm….It doesn't quite work.  Let's make the track go this way.
  • [And later when I apparently put the trains on too early] Mommy, it's not quite time.  First we build the track and then we put trains on it.
  • [While doing his Africa continent puzzle] LT: Mommy, I want to go to all of these countries.  Me: Well, buddy, some of those countries aren't safe, but some of them are and we will try to go. LT: Why are some of them not safe?  Me: Well, the people in charge of the countries sometimes don't make good decisions.  LT: They should make good decisions!  They should listen.
  • Mommy, were you proud of me for sharing my bubbles with Maddie?
  • I'm sad about Neenie and Papa!  Why couldn't they stay a really long time?
Levi's Noggin:
  • Loves the idea that he can go to his grandparents' houses in his dreams and he'll tell me that he's going to go there before he falls asleep.  
  • When he gets homesick he likes to snuggle and "be sad together."  Then we list things we miss and things we like about Germany, tops being our new friends.  Then he asked me, "Why can't Maddie, and Abel, and Lili live in Iniania and Indianapolis too?"
  • Fascinated with the idea that babies don't know how to do the things that he does.
  • Thanked God for some new Ethiopian friends we met during his dinner prayer.
  • Best game ever?  Making up pretend toppings for the snowcapped mountains with Neenie and Papa: cheese?  ice cream?  whipped cream?  marshmallows? 
  • Levi decided he was determined to conquer his fear of…wait for it…mannequins.  When walking through a town he wants to "pop in" any store that has mannequins and practice not being scared.
  • He comes up with great science questions.  (Thank God for Youtube and Daddy's brief stint in engineering!): Mommy, why do cars back up after they crash into something?….Why do we have to go slower around a curve?
  • Frequently says to me, "Dehna nehh?" which is "How are you?" in Amharic.  (Technically, should be Dehna nesh to a female, but hey, I'll take it.)

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