The Bryans are here!

We were thrilled to have Andrew and Angie spend a few days with us here in Vienna!  Aunties and Uncles are definitely something special!  Nathanael is sure to remember building creative things with Uncle Andrew, visiting the zoo, and riding the Prater train (and drinking a huge bottle of water during the 20 minute ride) just the three of them!  And we treasure the pictures of one-month-old baby Evangeline in their arms.  Thanks for the visit, dear family.  And come again soon!


Settling in as a family of four

The first few weeks of being a family of four were full of adjustments, especially for Nathanael.  But he is really settling into this "big brother" thing well.  And Evangeline has completely stolen all of our hearts.  Here are some random pictures of us from the last few weeks.  Of course, Evangeline steals the show.


Dear Evangeline (One Month)

Dearest Evangeline,

Today you are one month old!  We can hardly believe a month has passed already.  We love being a family of four!  You are a true treasure, darling.  We are excited to watch as God molds and forms you into the lady He has you to be.  We delight in your little life.

You have grown so much this past month, now weighing 4.9kg (10.8lbs) and measuring 55cm (21.5in)!  That's quite a jump from your 3.33kg and 51cm at birth!  We are so thankful for your healthy growth and the ease in nursing you.  You are growing in strength as well, holding your head up for longer and longer periods of time and enjoying all the time you can get on your stomach.

We marvel at your beautiful, intense, blue eyes.  It is amazing how much you look similar to Nathanael as a baby, but yet how different and individual we find you as well.  You are definitely siblings! And oh how he adores you!  He loves to hold you and hug you and kiss you and place his head against yours.  He checks on you when you fuss and wants to help by giving you your pacifier.  You have a big brother who loves you dearly, Eva.  You have begun interacting with us much more lately, following us more with your eyes, turning towards our voices, and smiling with your eyes.  We think you're almost ready to smile more with your mouth, and you have just begun cooing a bit as well.

You very rarely cry, but you definitely love to let us know your preferences.  You protest at nearly every diaper change and hate it when we change your clothes.  You are yet undecided about baths, seeming to enjoy portions of it but almost always protesting by the end.  You absolutely love to be held, much more than your brother did at this age.  You would cuddle on our chests or shoulders all day and night if we were able to accommodate.  We hope you remain a cuddler!

You sleep extraordinarily well during the day but struggle with restlessness at night, a rhythm you fell into a few months before you were born actually.  Fortunately, you helped Mom become accustomed to little sleep at night while she was pregnant with you, so it's not too much of a shock for her.  You are nursing quite consistently day and night about every 2.5-3 hours, give or take a little.  A couple nights you've made it an hour longer, but so far those are the exceptions.  We're definitely looking forward to some less interrupted nights ahead, whenever they come.

Your first month has been extremely full of people and activities.  We've had many, many friends stop by to say hello and hold you, and we've been to church a few times as well.  Of course, your Grandpa and Grandma, Auntie Carrie, Auntie Angie, and Uncle Andrew have all been able to spend many days loving on you and adoring you.  And your Opa and Oma and Uncle Drew have met you over Skype already.  We cannot wait to introduce you to them in person!

You have accompanied us on countless outings, from the daily grocery store and kindergarten drop-off/pick-up outings, to special family trips to Prater, the zoo, the Karlsplatz playground, Stephansplatz, the waterpark, Stadtpark on a date with Dad and Mom, a hike in Wienerberg, and of course, Tichy Eis Salon.  You rarely protest on outings, usually enjoying the hustle and bustle of being out and about and with people.  Of course, you do sleep through almost all of it, until we get to a check-out counter or another situation where it's highly inconvenient for you to begin crying. :)  You keep us on our toes!

We love you so much, Evangeline, and pray for you every day.  Your life is a delight to us, dear.  We pray that God will lead you forward in living a life full of delighting in Him.  And as your name states, we pray your life would be a testimony to the Good News of Life in Jesus Christ.

your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 1 month old

And a few outtakes...


The Meaning of Her Name

Evangeline Elif.

Gregory and I fell in love with the first name, Evangeline, our first year of marriage when we read, Uncle Tom's Cabin together.  Not only did we like the name, but the character in the book made a significant impact on us.  I like the following author's description of her:

"...Evangeline St. Clare, a young angelic girl. Evangeline, being only a young child, is full of innocence and life; she demonstrates throughout the novel an unshakably Christian sense of morality and unrelenting compassion."  (source: http://scholar-works.blogspot.co.at/2011/05/uncle-toms-cabin-evangeline-as-stowes.html)

In the book, Evangeline is deeply concerned about the salvation of all those around her, regardless of their skin color or background.  She is full of compassion and longs for all to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

The name is derived from the Latin word "evangelium,"  or Greek, "euangelion," meaning "gospel" or "good news".  The name basically means, "Bearer of Good News."

After settling on this name for our daughter, we also read Henry Longfellow's narrative poem, Evangeline.  It is a beautiful, romantic poem of lost and found love in the midst of the Expulsion of the Acadians.

Evangeline's nickname is Eva, the German version of "Eve."

Elif, her middle name, is a very common Turkish girl's name.  We desired a Turkish middle name for our daughter, just as our son has a Turkish middle name.  Turkey and the Turkish people are a significant part of our story, in meeting one another and in how God has formed both of us and in bringing us to where we are today.  We desire our children to be a part of the story and hold on to a piece of our love for Turks in their names.  Elif is a beautiful Turkish name, especially when a Turk pronounces it!

We have had a more difficult time coming up with a consensus on the meaning of Elif.  The word itself is the Turkish pronunciation of the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.  Here are a few meanings for the name that we have found or heard more consistently:  (1) slender, straight, or true -- as the first letter of the Arabic alphabet is a long, thin, slender line, (2) friendship, love and amicability, and similarly (3) that which is familiar or friendly, something to which one has become accustomed.

The name has a sense of belonging and comfortableness, whether we go with the origins of the name as the Arabic letter, or the other meanings having to do with friendship and familiarity.

Thus our Evangeline Elif.

Read about the meaning of Nathanael Alim here.


Happy Hellos and Sad Goodbyes

I think I have about 15 minutes before the little princess wakes from slumber.  I am actually awake enough this morning to get a few things done!  Praise God for that!  Our amazing sleeper suddenly decided to stop sleeping well at night, and for a few nights, I found myself barely catching 10-20 minutes of sleep every now and then, simply to try and keep Evangeline calm.  Last night though, she slept a few 1-2 hour segments, and this mom feels almost brand new!  This is definitely a different kid than Nathanael!  I still can't believe how infrequently she cries though.  Just a petite fussiness that only turns into a cry when we change her or she's really, really, really hungry. :)

We had some special visitors this past week, and I am kicking myself that I was so tired that I forgot to take pictures with two of them!  That simply means they'll need to visit again and soon!  Gregory's classmate Kaan and his wife Christine stopped by.  And our pastor and his wife, Ewald and Constanze came by, bringing along a sweet gift from all of our community group here as well.  Special visits!  I did, however, manage to take a few pictures of the Kitta family visit, a family from our church whom we are getting to know.

Last week we also had to say goodbye to Auntie Carrie.  Sadness!  And a few days before that, we had to say goodbye to Grandpa and Grandma.  It's not easy living so far away from our dear ones!

Uncle Andrew arrived last night, and Auntie Angie comes in tomorrow night though!  We're thrilled to continue introducing family to Evangeline!  Pictures will definitely follow from this visit as well.  And I have many more from the last couple weeks to post, whenever I have time.

Opa and Oma, we can't wait to have you here as well!  Nathanael talks about all the things he will show you and do with you when you come. :)


A visit from Boston friends!

We love it when friends are visiting Vienna!  The Besancons, friends from our time in Boston, came as part of a European family vacation.  We first got to know each other as married couples without kids.  My have our lives changed!  We were thrilled to spend an afternoon with them, and the kids all had a blast.

Eva's first outing - the Summer Palace and Zoo

The first time Auntie Carrie visited us in Vienna, she and Uncle Drew were able to visit the summer palace, but in the winter.  The Christmas market is of course magical, but the real glory of the palace is the garden.  We thoroughly enjoyed the beauty and added a visit to the zoo into the mix to please the little boy.  Oh, and this was Evangeline's first big outing in Vienna.  She behaved marvelously!  (She slept almost the entire time.)


Auntie Carrie joins in the fun!

What a blessing that Auntie Carrie flew over to meet Evangeline and spend some time with us and help us out!  It was special to be together although we really missed Uncle Drew!