6.20.2017

Dear Evangeline (4 Years)

Dearest Eva,

Happy fourth birthday to our delightful little girl!  We could never have imagined what joy God would give our family through a little girl.  This year has been a wonderful and challenging adventure, walking with you through your fourth year of life.  We are so grateful for you, Eva-lein.

You have grown up so much this year, seemingly moving into a new phase of being a little girl.  You decided one day that you were done wearing diapers (after Mom unsuccessfully tried to help you a few weeks earlier) and simply told us and did it.  Of course, you had some accidents, but once you set your mind to it, it was pretty much a done deal.  You don't like being rushed into anything, and one of your favorite phrases is:  Let ME do it! (emphasis on me)  Quite often you do end up sweetly asking for help, but you enjoy the feeling of independence and still wish you were seven like your brother. ;)

You have had a lot of difficult transitions this year, the most difficult being moving back to Austria and then adjusting to Nathanael going to school and you remaining in Kindergarten without him.  "Hanael" is your all-time best friend, and you missed him terribly in the mornings.  Lots of tears and pleading, every day.  You also began napping at Kindergarten when Nathanael began school, and your ability to speak German improved exponentially!  You love singing your Kindergarten songs and playing in German in your "quiet time."  You switch effortlessly between the languages now and don't seem at all affected by it.  This year, you joined Nathanael in the kids' program at church, an easy transition since your big brother was already there to look out for you!  You recently outgrew your nap, and you were so excited to finally be a "big kid."

You love babies.  You enjoy being "Mama" and taking care of littler kids.  You still love to cuddle, and you ask us multiple times a day to cuddle you and tickle your back.  You received a baby doll for your birthday and are completely attached to her (though your Winnie the Pooh remains your necessary sleep item and even vies for the position of your pretend baby at times).  You also love to play dress-up with dresses and costumes, to play doctor or nurse, or other role-play situations like grocery shopping or working at a restaurant.  You and your brother like to put on pretend plays, in which your role is usually to sit there and smile sweetly or do whatever brother says!  You received a tea set for Christmas, and it's one of your favorite toys.

You love the outdoors, playing in parks -- swinging, sliding, sand and water play, climbing, jumping, whatever challenges you can find.  You received a bike as an early birthday present last month, and you took to it immediately, riding all around the park within a few minutes and singing with delight at the top of your lungs!  (The breaks took a few days to learn!)  You ask almost daily to go out and ride bikes.

Although you enjoy being with other people, you are definitely most comfortable when you're with us -- Dad, Mom, Nathanael, and Eva.  You love your family and your place in it.  We recently spoke with you about what you are thinking about choosing to be with Jesus forever, and you honestly told us that right now, you want to just stay with Dad and Mom.  We are so grateful that you are confident in our love and pray that one day you will see how much bigger and greater and perfect the love of God in Jesus is -- for YOU!

We sometimes don't know what to do with your depth of feeling, but we love you deeply and delight in walking this journey of life with you.  We love seeing your high highs and the sheer delight that explodes from your entire being, sometimes even in just one simple word like "yes" or "thanks".  You are able to bring such joy to others.  On the other side, you are not afraid to share your lows, and we feel honored to walk through the valleys with you, even if we don't yet know how to do it well.  We love you dearly, sweet one.  We thank God for you.  We celebrate you, Evangeline Elif.  Happy Birthday!

Lovingly,
your mommy and daddy

a week ago, being Mom's big helper while babysitting for a friend
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a month ago, the day your received your baby doll and learned to ride a bike
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getting to "hold" a real baby!
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6.02.2017

Eva's Early Birthday Celebration

Our dear sweet Eva will turn four this month.  With Nathanael's exciting 7th birthday party last month, we decided to take advantage of the Grandparents' visit, and have an early birthday celebration for Eva.  So one month early, we went all out for our little almost four-year-old.

Eva helped bake her cake.  (Just like brother)
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The men worked on her gift the night before.
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Eva was full of pure delight and excitement for the majority of the day.
We began with a pancake, eggs, and sausage breakfast.
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We opened gifts throughout the day.
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Singing Happy Birthday and enjoying cake were extra special with this little gem.
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And our almost four-year-old learned to ride a bike!
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(Baby needed a break mid-lesson.)
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What a fun day!

Time for the Grandparents to Visit

May 20th brought Grandpa and Grandma to Vienna!
Waiting and waiting and waiting for them to arrive...
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Greeting Grandma! (Grandpa was filling out the lost luggage paperwork.)
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Enjoying the first few hours together
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And a piano concert from Nathanael!
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Enjoying Spring in May

Spring/Summer-like weather is always so much fun in Vienna, and we spend lots of our afternoons and weekends in the parks.  This May was no exception.

This is quite possibly my favorite spot in Vienna.  It's along the Liesing brook just past Oberlaa and is one of those places where my soul seems to breathe more deeply.
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Enjoying the new green foliage at Kurpark Oberlaa
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Picnic time at Kurpark Oberlaa!
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Fun in the sand at parks near Nathanael's school
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Our new favorite park -- Pirate Park in Oberlaa next to the Liesing Brook
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5.31.2017

7th Birthday Bash

Police Party!
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For the boy who loves everything "police" and wants to be a police helicopter pilot when he grows up, his 7th birthday party was almost too good to be true.  This was the first year he has had a kid party, and he did a great job thinking through whom to invite and helping me create the different activities.  He even helped bake his cake.
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I found a great, cheap, police party kit on Amazon, and it even had helicopters, which isn't as easy to find as one would think.  The police balloons were a special treat.  Nathanael helped make jails for the crooks and draw bad-guy faces on the crooks (Easter eggs).  He filled the crooks with the stolen chocolate coins, and he helped me come up with fun ideas for the party favor bags (sticky notes to use as tickets, a clip-on pen, a mini flashlight, and of course, a few coin-filled crooks each).
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I discovered an awesome book --  Officer Buckle and Gloria -- and ordered it in time for the party.  Gregory read it to the kids while I prepared lunch.  They were enthralled with it!
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The kids made police caps and colored their badges.
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It was a fun day.
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The best and biggest surprise for Nathanael was the gift we bought him along with both sets of his grandparents -- the police station Lego set for which he'd been saving his money for four months already!  He was almost speechless!
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