Do they speak my third language too?

It took me four months(!), but I have finally finished reviewing my Turkish language book.  I am thrilled to have met this goal, although it took me a month longer than intended.  I am encouraged by how much I remembered and discouraged by how much I have forgotten.  I have such a long ways to go, yet I am thankful to not still be stuck in the middle of the book.

Next goal: build my vocabulary!  I am constantly stuck searching my memory for a word I used to know.  Grammar is not helpful if you don't know the words to place into it.  I think my neighborhood conversation partners get a kick out of my ability to say a complex sentence mostly correctly in contrast to my inability to remember simple, every-day words.  This is what happens when you don't really use a language much for ten years!

As an aside, Nathanael now thinks that he can speak Turkish, since he has mastered a few phrases.  Of highest importance to him is this one:  Bir tane simit, lütfen! :)  And of course, it is followed by a muddled, five-year-old version of Teşekkürler.  We were chatting last week about the bilingual school he'll hopefully go to in a year, where they speak BOTH his home language and his Kindergarten language.  And he responded, "But Mom, do they speak my third language too?"  He was referring to Turkish!


Our bike-rider!

I was too busy running alongside Nathanael or watching out for Eva to snap pictures, but I did capture this one right before we quit the other night.

We're so proud of our son for not giving up and pressing on into this challenge.  It took a few days to get the hang of it, but he's now riding on his own, and we're looking forward to when he'll be stable enough to really go on bike outings together.  Soon!

Please Mind the Gap

I told myself I would blog tonight, so here I am.  I really wanted to share my heart a bit about our time in London, but I am completely spent right now.  The kids demanded so much today, as is often the case, and as I come to the point where they are actually quiet in their room, all I want to do is crash.  Thus, this post will be simply pictures from our time in London.  Hopefully I'll get around to sharing my heart about the time later.  In case I don't (which is quite probable), I'll write two things quickly here.

1. It was so amazing to visit family.  And to welcome a new person into our family!  We all fell in love with Desmond immediately, and we loved seeing Angie and Andrew as parents.  They are a wonderful family, and we love having them "near."

2. It was so amazing to be in an English-speaking country.  We were not prepared for how relaxing it would feel to not have to think much about what we were saying or hearing.  Absolutely amazing.  We're glad we haven't been in an English-speaking country for the last three years; it would have been very, very hard to return to Vienna in the midst of culture shock.

And now the pictures.
Gregory and Desmond meet.
My turn, with my little cuddlebug right with me, of course.
She loved "Baby Des" and still talks about him with a sparkle in her eye.
Look at Nathanael's admiration!
We went on multiple walks every day, so of course Desmond wore adorable jackets!
Nathanael's favorite London walking partner
Mom, look what we walked past in a window display!  Look familiar?!
The amazing multi-tasking mom!
Eva warmed up quickly to her Auntie and Uncle.
Our spoils...they only lasted one day.
Food was definitely a theme.  It was all so familiar, other than the baked beans for breakfast, which we actually thought were delicious.
Our attempt at a picture with the cousins
oh well
We miss you, Bryans!  Can't wait to see you again soon!
Yea for living on the same continent again!!!


Spring came slowly

Phone photos from March and April.  They show the slow progression of Spring here, which has most definitely arrived now.  More importantly, they show my two littles enjoying and exploring life.

A friend gifted Eva with this awesome outdoor suit!  When we pull it out, Eva lies on the floor with a huge grin, waiting to put it on!
Snack time in the toddler/baby room at church
(she thinks the entire time is snack time)
Absorbed in sticker fun
Fun at home park
And then, of course, we had another bout of illness.
Coloring and actually getting along!
Eva's favorite thing to do outside:
take leisurely walks and explore

Celebrating our Five-Year-Old!

On Nathanael's last day as a four-year-old, we went out for ice cream.  We actually sat in the ice cream parlor and ordered special treats!  Nathanael loved it, and Eva handled it acceptably (read: only one or two mini tantrums this time).
We began the big birthday morning with "big green monster eggs" per Nathanael's request.
Then we took him out of Kindergarten early and picked up pizzas for lunch, again per Nathanael's request.  Our kids love pizza.  I can't blame them.  I could probably eat pizza twice a week and never grow tired of it.  Next came cake!
And then fun gifts and cards!  We were so blessed to have family and friends from afar send in cards and gifts and drawings!  This year, Nathanael had a special package from Hope Fellowship Church in Cambridge with drawings from the preschool class there!  He honestly couldn't believe a class took the time to make him birthday cards. :)  Cute.  He also recieved cool drawings from his friend, Josiah, and an elaborate treasure map from Uncle Andrew and Auntie Angie.  Drawings are great gifts for a five-year-old.
Then. came. the. bike.
He loved sitting on it, wasn't so sure about the pedals, and was ready to "give up" for the day after about ten minutes.  It was a start.  We knew it would take time.  We're thrilled that he's excited still and trusting he'll learn in time.

We concluded the day by hosting our church small group, which was really special for Nathanael.  Small group days are some of his favorite.  He loves having people over!  Sharing birthday cake with them makes it even more fun!

An Easter Tradition

I meant to post this before Nathanael's birthday.  Oh well.  Better later than never.
Nick and Deborah Cioffi introduced us to this Easter tradition in Boston, and we've since adopted it.  This year, we simply managed to add our family's four butterflies.
I hope that when the kids are a bit older and it's not so overwhelming to try and host and socialize, we'll more regularly invite people over for Easter.  Our collection is growing!
I love that Nathanael knows each butterfly and who made it for or with us.

It is special to have a story to tell when we speak about butterflies at Easter, a story of re-creation, regeneration, new life, and beauty.  It is an easier connection for me to make to Jesus' Risen Life than the Easter bunny. ;)

Here are the kids on Easter afternoon, receiving their Easter stickers, lemonade Peeps from the States (I could barely choke one down!), a mini chocolate bunny, and of course, an Easter lamb cake.  Haha!
Oh yes, and eating an Easter egg from church. "Look, Mom! The middle is yellow!"


Dear Nathanael (5 Years)

Dearest Nathanael Alim,

Happy birthday, son!  Another year full of life and learning!  We thank God for the gift of you.  What a year it has been!

On May 6, 2014, not long after your fourth birthday, you expressed your desire to follow Jesus.  It was such an exciting season for you, talking for the first time about wanting Jesus to live in you, learning about asking Him for help, learning that you can depend on Him in every season...  It is a journey that has only just begun, one you will travel your entire life.  We are so excited for you, and we praise God that He has brought you out of darkness into His glorious light.  For eternity!

This year, we began memorizing Bible verses, and we have delighted in hearing you pull these verses into your everyday life, talking about how they apply and how God helps you through His Word.  One such example is in dealing with children wanting you to join them in bad behavior.  We've spoken a lot about not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good, (Romans 12:21), about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18), and about how you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).  A few others that have been significant for you and that have been a part of many conversations this year:  Philippians 2:14, Psalm 118:24, Psalm 56:3, Ephesians 6:1, and Luke 18:27b.

In September, you moved into a new group at Kindergarten, the yellow group, where the "older kids" go.  You, along with a couple other four-year-olds, joined the five-year-olds in the preparatory year for elementary school.  It has been an excellent move for you.  The teachers frequently comment about how great your German has become, and the older class has challenged you and increased your interest in certain activities such as organized games, puzzles, and drawing.  Just the other day, you began writing the beginning of your name on your own, and we are proud of your growth.  The first few months of being in the yellow group were difficult, as you were often called a "baby" by the older kids, simply for being the youngest.  We prayed that God would help us know what was going on with you, and then you opened up to me one afternoon and shared all about it.  We had a wonderful opportunity to speak about who you are, that you are loved by Dad and Mom, and that most importantly, you are loved by God.

You are a great big brother.  This year has brought quite a bit of adjustment in being a big brother.  Eva went from non-mobile to extremely mobile this year, and you have had to be okay with having her following you everywhere and "messing up" many of your carefully planned creations.  It is not easy, but we are proud of the growth we're seeing in you.  Many times, you choose to share, to be kind, to give Eva something she'd like while you find something else.  You are learning about what it means to love people by sacrificing for them, and we are proud of you.  You and your sister have so much fun together.  No one can get the two of you giggling more than when you're together!

Last summer, we returned to the family resort hotel near Antalya, Turkey, and you loved it just as much as the prior year.  You began learning some of the required movements for swimming and really increased in your confidence in water.  We can't wait to go to Turkey again in August!  You were able to visit a few water parks with your Kindergarten last summer, a definite highlight for you (and huge leaps of faith for Dad and Mom).  The summer also included allowing you to order chocolate ice cream cones from Tichy, something we did quite often actually!  Grandpa and Grandma visited in the summer, and we all explored Salzburg together, and then they returned for Christmas with Uncle Drew and Auntie Carrie!  We made lots of great memories together, as always.  The dear Cioffi family visited as well, and you especially loved sharing life with Josiah for a week!  We are so thankful for Skype and staying connected with family and friends despite the distance.  Speaking of family, last week, you became a cousin!  You are excited to fly to London soon to visit Uncle Andrew, Auntie Angie, and Desmond.  It will be your first time in an English-speaking country since your second birthday! :)

You remain an incredibly active, seemingly constantly moving, passionate, talkative, inquisitive kid.  You love people, love being with people, visiting people, having people over, praying for people, hearing stories about people, caring for people, and most importantly talking, talking, talking with people...  You maintain your initial hesitation with new people, but after some time, become quite attached.  Your favorite activities include:  building with Legos (both following the set instructions and creating elaborate scenes on your own), playing with cars, building with play dough, coloring, listening to stories (we recently got into chapter books!), singing songs, dancing and jumping, riding your balance bike, running, climbing, playing in the sand...  You create complicated stories and weave many different themes and settings in and out of your play, which is quite entertaining, and sometimes quite confusing, for us.  You really enjoy playing alone a lot now, which may have more to do with maintaining control over your toys without Eva's interference. ;)  Still, you have matured quite a bit in your independence in the last year.

Your big birthday gift this year is a bike, and we are excited for you to learn and become comfortable and to discover the freedom of riding a bike!  We know you are ready.

Nathanael, you are a blessing to Dad and me.  We are constantly challenged by you, challenged to look to God to raise you and love you well, challenged to trust your Maker completely with your life.  We know He has great things for you, a glorious plan to use you for His glory, to use your love for people and your energy and joy and passion, that He may be lifted high.  Keep following Jesus, son.  He is everything.

We love you.  Happy birthday!


Nathanael Alim King,
looking so grown up on his last day as a four-year-old: