Well, since mid-July life has sped up for the VanDyk family. Our happy little clan now contains 3 beautiful children (well, we think they're beautiful, anyway) and two semi-sane, on the go adults. And although our home looks like it's been through a tornado (or two), and it probably will look that way for the forseeable future, I find myself happily humming as I go through each day. I am almost always talking to myself repeating the words, "I am truly blessed." Is it always rainbows, sunshine, and sweet smelling roses? Hardly ever. BUT, can I see God's blessings each time I turn around? Absolutely (even though there's usually at least one small person who is quite upset with me), there is no shortage of hugs, love, and moments I need to treasure forever.
Since time is of a premium, and I really do rely on this blog to help me recall some of the most precious details of my children's baby-hood, I'd like to do a quick "Top 5 recap" of each child "lately."
1. This summer's greatest find was Ballet Arts. Kayleigh adores Miss Holland, LOVES taking ballet, and can't wait to watch the big girls who are en pointe.
2. She had such a blast at Maranatha's Children's Program this summer. The chances to "perform" in the tabernacle are repeatedly emphasized at dinner. I truly think she's a different child than when she began the summer. She's so independent, very confident, and not really a bit the "shy" little girl she was last fall.
3. Due to some scheduling circumstances (see Mommy's update at the end of the blog), we made a snap decision to switch Kayleigh to pre-school 3 days a week. She's still in Spanish Immersion at Kalamazoo Christian, and she would have had her treasured teachers (Maestra Winegar and Maestra Gonzales) either way, but the MWF afternoon class fit our schedule the best. I was a little nervous because she's still only 3, and young for this, BUT after just one week, I knew we made the right decision. As we often find with our firstborn, she pushes us to let go, we resist her (thinking she isn't ready) and when we finally give in, she proves to us just how ready she really was. School COULD NOT be going better.
4. Kayleigh, by virture of being in pre-school now, is enrolled in Gopher Buddies on Wednesday nights at our church (Calvary Bible). She has memory verses to learn, stories and projects that she regularly tells us about, and acts of service to complete. I LOVE watching her grow with this program. Nothing makes my heart sing like hearing her say, "Mom? Can you help me with my devotions now?" Or, at breakfast when I ask her to practice her memory verse and she rattles it off (reference and all) at lightning speed. What a blessing to see her growing in the Lord.
5. With all of these school, dance, and church activities, our little princess does get a little tired out. BUT amidst it all her best friend is still her little brother and sister. She dotes on Madeleine's every whim and wish. She plays incessantly with Benjamin, teaching him how to pretend, engaging in his pretend play ideas, and developing inside jokes and little secrets with her first best bud. ... It steals my heart each time I have to interrupt their very independent play (up to 1-2 hours at a time now) to check on them.
1. HELLO LITTLE FIRECRACKER. This little man took the summer to bud from a sweet little toddler boy to a very active, energetic spitfire of a little man. His brain and heart are working 10x faster than his little body and it shows. The BIGGEST change in our boy came about the same time his little sister was born. HE LOVES TO RUN! The kid DOES NOT stop moving, hitting, throwing, jumping, punching, jabbing, slamming into things, crashing, etc. It's not mean spirited, in fact he almost always offers to kiss/hug/apologize for anything he accidentally injures (including the cat). He is just ALL-BOY.
2. Along with Benjamin's "All-boy" energy has come his inseparability from his Daddy. He used to be Mommy's little shadow, always wanting snuggles with me, extra kisses and hugs, and sending his father packing if he tried to interrupt. BUT, with the change over in his energy levels came this enormous attachment to his Dad. If he's feeling especially overwhelmed by the women in his life he will simply request "Man Time." That's Dad's cue to take him to the car wash, grocery store, out to grab a coffee for Mom, even to work ... ANYWHERE to get him out of the world of "women" and into the "wild." At almost each turn, he insists on wearing his Tow-Mater hat because when Daddy goes out, relaxed, he wears a hat. Benjamin saw fit to copy ...
3. Kids Gym ... Benjamin started gymnastics class. This was a spur of the moment thing, largely in response to his limitless energy (along with the fact that he's not allowed to sign up for ballet at BAE, and the other ballet option didn't work with our schedules). HE ADORES IT. He can run, jump, be rough, tumble and it's all completely acceptable. The videos Daddy sent of their first class together were to DIE for. I can't wait for my turn to chaperone.
4. Potty Training - This little man is SO READY. He asks to go poopy; he wants to be a big boy (largely so he can go to school with Kayleigh), but Mommy is struggling to find the time with Maddie being so little. So, potty training is on hold, but just know this little man has his big boy underpants ready (and often wears them over the top of his jammies just for fun). He is waiting to make the transition as soon as his momma makes the time to teach him (probably AFTER our insane October).
5. Sunday Classes - Benner adores church class, really, any class that makes him feel bigger and older like his sister. He just wants to grow up far too fast. At Calvary, when children turn 2 they start actual circle time, crafts and singing. Ben fairly danced his way into the "big boy class," and each time we pass church from the road (something like 10-12 times a week) he shouts, "CHURCH CHURCH CHURCH!!! I go to my CLASS!" He can usually remember parts of the story. Last night he told me (after Weds night class), "God said Make a BIG BIG BIG BOAT! (like grandpa's) and put in the animals." I asked him why they had to make a boat. "Cuz it's gonna be REALLY REALLY REALLY WET!!" I told him that was great and decided to press my luck. "Who built the boat, buddy?" He paused, thinking, "God DID!" I didn't correct him because, despite the fact that Noah put in the labor, God did build that boat! Again, such a blessing to see my children taking in truth.
Our precious gift from God, Miss Maddie, entered this world on her due date. I started labor naturally and very quickly, and was well on my way to my shortest labor ever ... when everything halted. I froze, dilated at 9 cm for over 5 hours. I never made it past that dilation, and Maddie was born via C Section. This was not my ideal delivery; it wasn't what I'd been waiting (not so patiently) to do. BUT, nevertheless, God was present. He gifted us this gorgeous girl, for whom we truthfully did pray. And she is one of the most fantastic gifts He could ever have given our family.
Each child is a unique treasure, and unpacking who they are as people is part of the fun of parenting. Madeleine is her own baby, and she proves that to me every day. She has no schedule, no timetable. She sleeps when she wants to, eats when she feels like (however much she feels like it), requires constant diaper changes, but rarely cries. She is not demanding of certain positions to be held in, she doesn't require me over Daddy or vice versa. She tolerates being packed into the car to run countless errands NUMEROUS times per day. She's been to several teacher observations, 3 weeks of pre-school drop offs, 3 ballet classes, sat through services at church, and every time we come away with her, we chuckle to ourselves. "She's just the quietest baby you could ever imagine."
Maddie is a peanut and still is in 0-3 month clothing, 3 months if I put her in cloth diapers. She sleeps 12-15 hours per night, with one feeding (usually at the 8-9 hour mark). She takes naps after each feeding and sometimes plays, a little, if we aren't in the car. She smiles for Mommy, Daddy, and Kayleigh. She's flashed her smile at babysitters too.
We couldn't be more proud of this beautiful treasure from the Lord, and we can't wait to watch her grow to love her brother and sister (who already protect and adore her, respectively).
This coming month I start a new job, a work away from home job. I COULD NOT be more excited about the job itself. It is/was not my ideal timing. When we got pregnant with Madeleine I did not anticipate going back to work so soon (eventually, when the kids were all in school, yes, but not really before). BUT God has placed before me a very unique and exciting opportunity. AND, as is His way, He has provided childcare options that make me very comfortable (as comfortable as a mom can be when she's a control freak). I will start work on October 16th and work full days, 2 days a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays the kids will join their new childcare friends (all in-home care, some including Grandma Van Dyk). I'm confident that God fore-saw this option for us and gifted our precious, go with the flow Madeleine to ease this transition.
Nevertheless BIG changes are on the way for this little family.
Amidst it all, we look forward to Fall (Kayleigh has been begging to pick apples, pumpkins, and go trick or treating since about July) and all that that brings in our house. The start of fall programs has already begun, but we have: Family pictures, Color Burst, Hope Football, Pumpkin picking, Mackinac Island, and that's just the weekends ... to look forward to.
We're so blessed with God's providence and provision in our lives as a family. I can't wait to see how He guides us through these next seasons of life. He is a faithful God!