Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Grandparents Visit

My parents came to visit! We had a jolly good time together. My dad painted my office, my mom (and dad) played, played, played with their grandchildren, we all went to the pool, my parents read every single children's book on our shelf aloud about three times, and we ate three great meals every day, after which I hardly touched a single dirty dish. It felt like a week off for all of us!

We also had some pictures taken! Allshouse Photography did a little photo shoot with the grandparents and children, some results of which you can see below (the really nice ones are for printing and aren't posted here; these were a few extra bonus pictures because Jerod wanted/demanded more pictures. I guess it's a good when a two year old doesn't want to stop smiling for the camera, right?).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring pictures

Happy spring from the Sandeens! Here's some spring/Easter cuteness for you to enjoy:

He is sooooo close to being able to finally reach the pedals on his tricycle. This little guy just cannot wait until he can ride around on his bike.

Happy Easter from Zarya! She was very happy about Easter, but was going for a more thoughtful pose on this one, I think. Easter can be a serious holiday.

This one makes me laugh every time I see it. She looks so happy, hugging her brother. He looks so squished and strangled, yet didn't even think to move or protest. Getting squashed in love is everyday life when you are a younger sibling!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

I have a history of holiday-skipping. With the exception of Christmas, I have skipped every other holiday out there some year or other. I don't recall doing anything for Valentine's Day any other year. (Side note: when we were engaged and living on different continents, Andrew did something very sweet for me that year, but I didn't do anything for him, so for my part I count that as skipping.) In fact, Andrew told me this morning, "You know, this is a really stressful day for a lot of men. It's nice to know that I wasn't expected to come up with something amazing, and that you're okay with that."

To which I replied, "But this is the year I was actually going to do something!" And indeed I did! Since this is a first-ever in life, I thought I'd better take pictures to prove it really happened.

We started off with heart-shaped oatmeal pancakes:

Actually, while I was making pancakes, they were having a sibling Valentine love morning on the couch. Zarya asked Jerod if he wanted her to read his train book to him. He loves, LOVES his Thomas the Tank Engine book and demands that I read it to him every single day. Zarya read him the entire book (it has three stories in it), which meant I was off the hook. She loves her little brother and books, and I definitely love that she gave me the day off from reading the beloved/infernal train book.

Since I'd gone to all the holiday bother of dressing them in Valentine's Day appropriate clothing, I thought I should commemorate the moment. They didn't think so highly of that idea for the first 20 or so attempts:

Nobody moved, both were looking at the camera, and I count it as a success

And then, as if this weren't already over the top with Valentine-ness, we actually even MADE Valentines. Like, the world's most unartsy mother actually cut out hearts and dug a glue stick out from the recesses of a cupboard. We go to a Bible study on Tuesday mornings, and four lovely ladies volunteer to take care of the children. Zarya and Jerod had great fun making their caregivers Valentines.

Later in the day, Andrew brought me chocolate, and we had a nice dinner, so happiness and love abounded all around. We are thankful to Jesus who loves us and gave us one another to love!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bee-bim Bop!

We have a fun children's book called "Bee-bim Bop!" which Zarya picked out herself online, her choice of how to spend Christmas money from her cousins. It was her first online purchase, and thanks to Amazon having the "Look Inside" option where you can actually see what the pictures look like and how many words are on each page, she made an educated decision, as opposed to a random one based on the color of the cover or something else that happened to strike her fancy at the moment.

After reading this book many times and enjoying the fun rhymes of a little girl cooking with her mother, I decided to try the recipe in the back. We made our first dinner of Bee-bim Bop last month and quite enjoyed it. There is a nice bed of rice on the bottom, topped with cooked carrots and spinach, shredded scrambled eggs, and meat cooked in a sweet, spicy soy-based sauce. Then you mix it all up. According to what I read in the book, in Korean, "bee-bim" means "mix it up" and "bop" means "rice."

We had it again last night and this time remembered to get a picture. I'm not claiming this is authentic - we didn't have kim-chee or bean sprouts, and I used lamb instead of beef. When I'm next in a Korean restaurant that offers this dish, I plan to give their version of the real deal a try. In the meantime, we like to chant the catchy rhymes from the book and eat our pseudo-Bee-bim Bop.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas - 2016

A little boy and a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh. What could be cuter on Christmas, really? He gave Pooh many big hugs today and said several times, "My Winnie! Look, jacket!" I guess he was excited that Pooh has a shirt (jacket) on.

My little buddy had his first totally dry, potty accident-free day today. Merry Christmas to me from Jerod!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jerod doesn't calm the storm

I was pushing the kids in the double stroller on a windy day, trying to get in some outdoor exercise before fall rains set in. I started jogging at the same time the breeze picked up even more, so Jerod really had the wind in his face all of a sudden. He started yelling, "No! No!"

Zarya leaned over the partition and said authoritatively, "Jerod, when Jesus tells the wind to stop blowing it stops. But when you tell the wind "no," it just keeps on blowing."

I think this means I'm doing well at teaching her Bible stories, but might need to work a bit on the theology of faith and prayer.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An accidental great find at the library

One of the best things about life is going to a local library regularly. I get almost all of my own reading material via the library, but do it all online and get Kindle books. (People call the printing press the greatest invention of the second millenium; I think electronic books should get some award for the third one.) But for little kids, there is nothing better than having a great big stack of picture books from the library to read. We're currently at the picture book stage of life with our three-year-old bookworm - she reads through her entire stack of library books every day while I work. It takes her close to an hour, and sometimes I feel like I should start making a babysitting donation to the library on behalf of enabling Bible translation. PBS should probably also get a donation sometime, since watching PBS Kids shows feature regularly in my babysitting schedule, too. But back to books, our schedule is that when Jerod gets up from his nap and I finish work for the afternoon, I let her choose two or three and I read them aloud to both kids.

Despite the fact I'm the one who chooses all of the books from the library, sometimes what I find in the pile is still a surprise. It's not like I read every word of them when I'm picking them out! I just aim for good artwork, about the right amount of words on the pages, and a story I think Zarya will enjoy. A good friend and former librarian suggested to me to work my way through the entire picture book section in order so as to not feel overwhelmed and have no idea which books to get when we go, which had been the case. So I opted to work my way backwards through the alphabet, and we're currently in the "S" section. It's a great system and enables me to pick out books pretty quickly - I just go and park myself where I left off the last time and flip through a shelf or two. No more aimless wandering hoping a title will catch my eye.

Anyway, the other day I sat down on the couch with the kids to read the books Zarya had chosen for that afternoon's read aloud time. One of them was titled, "Mama Elizabeti," by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen. I started reading it, and thought, "This little house looks like a Tanzanian house. It must be set in Kenya or something." In my experience, Kenya gets a lot more attention than Tanzania and anything that is supposed to be East African kind of equals being Kenyan. As I kept reading, Zarya and I loved that the little girl in the story calls her dad "Baba," the Swahili name for father that Zarya uses for Andrew. When little Elizabeti has to take care of her little one-year-old brother, Zarya thought it was great, just like her playing with Jerod. But I was noticing that this little girl reminded me a lot of all of the little girls in Tanzania who do what Elizabeti was doing, carrying water and washing dishes and babysitting a little sibling at the same time. Elizabeti wasn't just playing, she was working hard! It seemed just like Tanzania to me.

So, we finished our book and went on to another. Later I went and read the about the author part on the back flap of the book, and sure enough, it seems like it really was supposed to be in a Tanzanian village! The author served in Tanzania in the Peace Corps, and apparently has also written another book about little Elizabeti. What a fun find at the little Indiana, PA, library!