An accidental adventure

So I like to pretend that I don't have a lot of "blonde" moments.  The thing is, when I do, they're no small thing.

Nathanael and I were so excited to pick up Grandpa and Grandma at the airport a week ago.  We had to leave straight away from our church's end-of-year Sunday School party in order to catch the train.  At the last minute, as we were on our first tram in the journey to the airport, he and I decided to go a different way than we usually do, to check out the train from the main station near our home instead of the normal one we take from a few stops away.

We've traveled enough by train here that I know how it works.  I have no anxiety about what we're doing.  I understand the station announcements.  I know how the ticketing works.  Unfortunately, I was a little too confident last Sunday.  Instead of making it to the airport in 15 minutes, we ended up at this town in the Czech Republic an hour later:
I can try and convince you that it wasn't my fault.  The train we boarded was late departing due to the ticket checker helping a disabled person board; thus the station announcement I heard stating that the train to the airport had arrived at the platform was actually incorrect.  The ticket checker was apologetic that she hadn't been able to give the final announcement on the train due to assisting someone board, and she mentioned that the station announcement was incorrect.  There.  That's my defense.  But the truth is, the displays both on the platform and on the train were blatantly clear.  So much so that about 20 seconds before the train departed, I leaned over to Nathanael after having confusedly looked at both displays and said, "Umm, I'm not sure we're on the right train.  I think..."

Too late.  The train was departing, and the next stop was an hour away.
I can't tell you how proud I am of my Nathanael.  He held it together, despite the obvious disappointment, despite the intensity of stress we had during the first 15 minutes of the ride, attempting to figure out what to do and how to adjust, and he chose to have fun and make this trip into an adventure.  At a few points during the afternoon, I thought he would have a little breakdown as he processed what Mom's mistake meant for him -- not getting to pick up Grandpa and Grandma at the airport!  I would have totally understood, had he needed to vent in that way.  Instead, he was simply chill and pleasant, and I was greatly thankful to God for that piece of grace.
Our ticket checker was wonderful, didn't charge us a thing, told us about a park and walking area, recommended a restaurant, and attended to us on the return trip two hours later.  She was a gift from God.

For some reason, Nathanael thought this statue was the coolest.  I have no idea what it was; this was truly a foreign country and language to me.
The recommended restaurant was amazing.  Crazy cheap.  I had a Melange.  And it had a play area.
So all in all, this intended 50 minute trip to the airport turned into a five hour mother-son date, precious time together before greeting the grandparents at our home!
On the return train trip, Nathanael sat in the kids' corner and watched a show.  I sat and read and reflected on the afternoon...
...I laughed out loud at myself and tried really hard not to give into the emotional stress and cry.

This is one adventure I'd rather not repeat, thank you.

Nathanael will never let me live this one down. :)

Beep beep

When Nathanael was learning how to ride his bike in April, this is what Eva did.
Then we tried the tricycle that Nathanael loved when he was two.  She wanted it to be a balance bike.

One afternoon, a child in the park let her ride this around (for two hours!), and we quickly saw that it was time to move her onto something a bit more challenging.
Our little Evangeline and her balance bike - she LOVES being "just like" her brother.
Taking a break to snack and check out the ducks
Back on her beloved "beep beep"


Celebrating our Evangeline

Evangeline's birthday was on a Saturday this year, so we took advantage of the day!  We began with birthday bagels, an extra special treat here as bagels are usually a bit more difficult to find.
Eva loved being sung to and said her own little version of "happy birthday" throughout the day.

She had fun ripping open cards from dear friends, family, and even the Sunday School class at Hope Fellowship in Boston!  And then came the birthday greetings via phone and video and cards from the computer, which of course are greatly appreciated to this technologically savy child. ;) (The horse in these photos was Nathanael's gift to Eva, and they were so sweet giving and receiving this year!)
Of course, this was the big one.
She has tried to climb on Nathanael's balance bike and bike almost every time we've gone out.  We knew it was time, and her face lit up so brightly when she realized this is hers now!

About two minutes later though, she had had enough attention for the morning, and we had about an hour of cuddles and tears for this sensitive, overwhelmed sweetheart.

Ice cream made an afternoon appearance.
And somehow these sweet Saturday moments still occurred in the midst of all the excitement.

Two days later, she was celebrated at Kindergarten and apparently greatly loved the attention, wearing her birthday crown, having Nathanael in the classroom with her for the party, and passing out party favors to each of her new little friends.  (I'm hoping to have those pictures soon to post!)

A week later, the day Grandpa and Grandma arrived, we had her birthday cake (a sunshine cake), and she loved being sung to again, this time with Grandpa and Grandma included!


Catching up on June

Somehow we've made it through June.  I knew it would be a bit crazy with the three week gradual adjustment to Kindergarten for Eva.  Indeed, it was crazy.  Tomorrow, my parents arrive.  We've been counting down and marking off the days, and it's finally (almost) here.  We have a full agenda for their time here; it's amazing how many places the kids want to make sure they experience with family and friends when they visit.

Before we bombard this blog with pictures from their visit, I need to catch up on the photos from the last couple months.  So here goes.

Eva likes to read in Daddy's study.  She often has a hard time choosing just the right book though. ;)

Our district has an annual festival in the nearby square, and it's always full of tons of "clubs" for Turks.  Nathanael and I visited this year (he'd just eaten an ice cream cone).  Every year, we dream and hope that our church will be able to have a table there.  It'll happen one of these years.
Our new-to-us wheels.
The wheel on our old one literally popped off on a bus.  That was exciting.  I found this one on willhaben (think craigslist) about an hour later, and Nathanael and I picked it up that afternoon.  When you don't have a car, a stroller is a non-negotiable with a two-year-old!

My cool kid on our way to the waterpark
Eating ice at the waterpark
Exhausted on the way home from the waterpark
We love visiting the ENT doctor here.  She has great toys.
My big girl in our little elevator
First semi-successful ponytail
Don't they look alike in this photo?  Eva loves to lie on pillows, but when Nathanael joins her, she couldn't be happier (until he bothers her).


Dear Evangeline (2 Years)

My dearest Evangeline,

Happy second birthday, sweet Eva-lein!  Two years ago (June 20, 2013), God gifted our family with your precious presence.  We thank Him for you each and every day.  Your sweet spirit and emotional intensity speak of the depth of life God longs for each of us to know.  We celebrate you today and pray that God would cause your life to soon be rooted and established in faith in Jesus Christ.  Only in Him can you know abundant life.

This last year has been full of exciting developments for you!  Of course, of greatest importance, you began walking!  You were quite content scooting around on your bottom for months, but in December, you decided to attempt steps, and then you were off and running (mostly to chase after your brother everywhere he went)!  Along with walking and running came other exciting physical developments, such as twirling and dancing and tackling steps and climbing up on things.  What a new world has been opened to you this year!  You love to explore.

This year has also brought huge developments in your understanding and communication.  Favorite words and phrases of ours:  Help me.  Bitte.  P(l)ease.  I yuv ye.  Up.  Joy.  Holy.  Amen.  Das.  Fork.  Bus!  Woof.  Beep beep.  Bell.  Bath.  B(r)ush.  Ummm.  Oh yea.  Whoops.  Mein.  Nein.  "Baba" is your word for both your special blanket and your water bottle, which can be crazy confusing for us sometimes. :)  You have a cute way of nodding your head slowly and emphatically to say yes.  You have an uncanny ability to be LOUD.  (Our poor neighbors.)

You were dedicated at our church this year, and you even served with Dad and Mom in the music a few Sundays, strapped happily to my back while I played piano.  You loved it and even managed to hit a base note once, to your delight!  You enjoy playing with the other toddlers and parents in the children's room at church and at small group, especially having warmed up to a couple other parents.  We are grateful to have others in your life as we greatly miss our family who are so far away.  After months of resistance, you've adjusted well to our babysitters and seem to enjoy playing with them and charming them as well.

Highlights from the last year include our family beach vacation in Side, Turkey (hours of play in the pools and sand and sea!); visits from and Skypes with grandparents, uncles, and aunts (you absolutely love them all); your first visit to the children's museum and exploring all the activities there; flying to London and meeting your cousin (you still say "Des" with a smile when we ask you about your baby cousin Desmond); playing in snow for the first time; and last but not least, beginning Kindergarten!  We were surprised to find out a spot became available at the beginning of the month, and you have adjusted amazingly well.  You love getting to stay there with Nathanael instead of having to leave with Mom (though you sometimes try to make me think you don't want to be there).  Your eyes light up when you see the caregivers and children and toys.  We hear stories daily about your sweet yet vigorous spirit. :)

Favorite activities recently include anything Nathanael is doing, giggling, building with Duplos, playing in sand and water, playing the piano, dancing, listening to music, cuddling, pushing Nathanael in a cart, taking a bath, brushing your teeth, and driving around in your scooter/car.

Each of us have a special relationship with you.  Mom is your comfort.  Dad is the one for whom your eyes sparkle.  Nathanael is your hero.  And you are our sweet Evangeline Elif.  We love you dearly.  What a privilege it has been to watch you mature this second year.  Happy birthday!

your mommy and daddy

A few photos from the last week that capture your personality well.


My little one's big day

Today is day nine of Evangeline's gradual entrance into Kindergarten.

"First day" photo

(Kindergarten here is actually more like a pre-school plus a daycare facility in the U.S.  Our equivalent here in Austria to kindergarten in the U.S. is actually a year called "Vorschule" which translates literally "pre-school."  Confusing, yes?!)

The people and the place are not at all foreign to her as she has been going with me to drop off and pick up Nathanael since she was an infant.  She knows the teachers' faces and voices and is familiar with the process.  She knows the park where they play.  And most importantly, her big brother is there, though not in the same group as she is.

We're so proud of our little almost-two-year old (who thinks she's five, just like Nathanael).  Although she tries to fool me into thinking she doesn't want to be there, the moment she lets go of my hand and steps into her room, she can't hide her beaming smile as she looks around at the faces and toys in front of her.

I am a little sister too.  I remember that feeling so well.  "Finally, I get to do it too!"


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!