Thursday, April 28, 2016


One benefit of the mission house where we are staying is that the kids have seen a lot of wildlife.  I posted the groundhog pictures earlier.  We have come down the driveway to see deer.  We are enjoying the bird feeder.  Today we spotted a woodpecker.  Though we had seen evidence of him around the property, we never got a glimpse until today!  My bigs were especially excited because they just watched the woodpecker episode of Wild Kratts.  A couple pics are blurry, but I took them zoomed in from quite a distance and three stories up!  And woodpeckers generally have their heads in motion…

Mountainville Woodpecker

Mountainville Woodpecker

Mountainville Woodpecker

Mountainville Woodpecker

Mountainville Woodpecker

Mountainville Woodpecker

Henry at 8 months

Henry 8 Month Portraits    Henry 8 Month Portraits
Baby in a Basket!  Best bushel ever! 

Henry 8 Month Portraits

This happy guy is 8 months old!  We have been home for much of the month, and things seem to be flying by…I can hardly remember what was “new” for him!  (That’s what Evernote is for, though!)

Henry got to meet Ben’s Aunt Paula this month, and visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.  He enjoyed his first ride in the swings at a playground near Cincinnati on a beautiful, spring day (April 5).  We started handing him food at the table even though it’s guaranteed to be spit back out.  He still prefers just milk!  He enjoys gnawing on a celery stick or carrot stick, though.  I think it sooths his teething gums!

We had a meeting in Queens on Sunday and took the evening after the services to enjoy our city.  We rode the Staten Island Ferry from SI to Manhattan.  We walked past Wall Street and enjoyed a pizza (though it wasn’t the best NYC pizza we’ve had!).  This was Henry’s first boat ride, first NYC adventure, and first time past the Statue of Liberty. 

Though he had performed a couple of crawls last month, we are in full-crawl and pulling-up mode here!  We have Henry-proofed again, but I am constantly finding him drawn to the bathroom (door left open by siblings), open refrigerator (4 older siblings to blame), open door at the top of the steps (4 older siblings to blame),  and peering into the dryer.  He has even gotten stuck over the bottom rung of the chairs a few times, too! 

Henry particularly likes his Sophie the giraffe teether.  He also enjoys playing Little People Castle or Doll House (mostly with Liberty).  Elaine and Nolan are great at doing Patty-Cake with Henry to settle him down, and he is almost guaranteed to give a laugh!  Nehemiah is always loving on Henry in his own not-so-gentle fashion, and sometimes I am amazed that this child is still alive!

Henry 8 Month Portraits   Henry 8 Month Portraits
This is what happens when you ask Daddy to help with the picture backdrop – toes sticking out (on purpose), and distracted baby!

Henry 8 Month Portraits

Henry 8 Month Portraits

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Helpful Links

Since I shut down my Facebook a couple of weeks ago, I have had a little more time to read and catch up on some favorite blogs, etc., and also to listen to some more podcasts.  By far, this is more helpful to me than Facebook!  Here are some helpful links I came across this week.
I have been going through a dry spell in my walk with God.  Every week we are serving and ministering at churches.  When I sit in church, Ben is usually preaching and he uses the same handful of messages to communicate to the people during our deputation process.  My personal quiet time is sporadic in time of day and duration during our travelling.
Because of these things I’ve noted that I need to simplify while still trying to nourish my soul.  I’ve incorporated daily adorations from Every Bitter Thing is Sweet into my daily routine.  I can read the passage and journal in a few minutes, and then meditate on that one truth throughout my day.  It. has. been. wonderful.  (You can download a printable adoration sheet for the month, or simply follow on Instagram to get adorations in your newsfeed).
You may also enjoy Sara’s book by the same title, and her two-part (part 1; part 2)interview on Focus on the Family from last week.  I enjoyed both!
Prayer Mate
I’ve been using this app to focus my prayer time.  I like that I can schedule how often things appear on my list, categorize my prayer items (essential for an organizer like me), and also add pictures.
  • I recently got some E-Cloths in an online shipment.  I am really liking them for chemical-free cleaning!
  • Jim Hodges Audio Books is having a sale this month.  Ben has a ton of the Henty novels and loves them for staying awake on long drives!
  • Build A Menu menu planning service is inexpensive (especially if you get it on the half off sale that has run each of the last two years in May).  It saves me time and money by allowing me to select recipes, then print a ready-made shopping list for a variety of stores, including Aldi.  I’ve been doing an every-other week shopping trip since my Aldi is farther away now.  We have also really enjoyed a new variety of menus than the same boring handful that I normally use.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Meanwhile, back in Mountainville…

We’ve been back for a bit now and life is perhaps starting to settle in a smidge of a routine.  I hesitate to say that because I’m sure it will spin out of control on me again at any minute!  This is what we’ve been doing recently…

We are learning about the sun, moon, and stars in science class.  Elaine and Nolan enjoyed making some moon crafts (complete with glitter – one of my least used craft items because of the mess!)

Elaine's Moon and Stars Craft

Nolan's Moon and Stars Craft

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison

Then we conducted a project to visualize the size difference between the sun, the earth, and the moon.

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison
The large make-shift paper circle represents the sun (54.5” wide).  Ours is about three inches too small because that’s just how it worked…

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison
A mini-marshmallow (1/2” diameter) represents the earth.  The sun is 109 times larger than the earth, so we lined up {almost} 109 mini marshmallows across the center of our “sun” to visualize the vast size difference.  It was very helpful that we had just visited the planetarium at the Creation Museum, which explained the vastness of the galaxies from a Biblical perspective. 

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison
If the sun is the paper circle, and the earth is a marshmallow, the moon is a button (like the tiny ones on a men’s dress shirt collar).  Elaine has the marshmallow, Nolan is showing the button.

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison
Button moon

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison
Marshmallow earth

Size of the Sun to Earth to Moon comparison
Science class is always fun when you get to eat the experiment!

This is our resident groundhog.  He lives under the deck of what used to be a swimming pool.  Just about every morning we see him crawling out of his hole or sitting on a stump in the sun.  I took this pics at 39x zoom.

The resident groundhog

The resident groundhog

Nolan got a second-hand bike with training wheels and has been learning to ride to keep up with his sister, who can now mount, start, steer, and even stop all by herself.  You have no idea what an accomplishment this is for her – she did it without learning on training wheels first!  I’m having trouble imbedding the video, but you can view it here:

We also discovered a lot of tulips on the property where we are living.  Nolan found the first open tulip and he was soooo amazingly excited!  He exclaimed to me, “Mommy!  Look!  It hatched!”  I got quite a smile out of that one!!!  Nolan also got to share some exciting news with several people this week, but I’ll let him be the one to tell!  And, he finished a preschool math book today!

IMG_8333  IMG_8336

This kid, has turned into a general, all-around, I-can’t-keep-up-with-him troublemaker!  He is always pulling the dishtowel basket off the shelf, getting into the fridge when it’s open, pulling dishes out of the dishwasher, and crawling into the bathroom (I know – ewww, yuck!) at every turn.  (It’s not my fault.  Four little people keep leaving the door open!).  But he almost always smiles and skipped his middle-of-the-night feeding the last two nights.  Still not eating solid foods, though!


That’s all that is new for us.  Oh, yeah.  And we are house hunting in the Bronx.  That is exciting news to my soul.  Please pray for us to find just the right place!

MD, OH, and NY

Our most recent deputation trip took us to Maryland, Ohio, and New York.  After Maryland we stopped by to see Ben’s Aunt Paula near Washington, D.C.  There was beautiful weather so we ate lunch outside!

Visit with Aunt Paula
We tried out a selfie-stick, but the kids weren’t really paying attention!

While we were in Wilton, NY the kids got creative and turned our deputation table into a tent.  I was standing there talking, and this little hand crept out with a yellow taxi in it’s grip.  Liberty and Henry thought it looked fun, and the games commenced!

Play Display Table   Play Display Table

Play Display Table

We stopped by Ben’s parent’s home en route to Mountainville, NY.  This allowed us a brief visit and we also picked up our bikes from their storage shed.  Now that we have a bike rack and a place to ride them, we wanted faster access!  The kids did painting with Grandma, too.

Elaine's Paintings
Elaine painted our van with the new bike rack installed!

Nolan's Painting
Nolan painted Elaine (see her round head and triangle dress in the middle?) and then filled in the rainbow around her.

Painting at Grandma Hamiltons

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kings Mills Baptist Church

One of our supporting churches in Ohio is Kings Mills Baptist Church near Cincinnati.  Last year Ben and I stopped by to present our ministry after the BWM Orientation Seminar in April.  This year we got a call a few weeks ago asking us to be a part of their mission’s conference, since someone else wasn’t able to come.  We agreed, as long as we could miss the Sunday services (we already had a meeting scheduled).

We enjoyed each evening service.  The music was wonderful and we enjoyed the other missionaries in the conference.  I felt refreshed, and it was so nice to have familiar people come up to speak to us at the table after the services.  We talked for quite a while after each evening service!

This conference was also full of surprises for us!  Each evening Ben and I had to introduce ourselves during the service and present either a need or a want.  We feel so blessed and in need of very little…we really struggled to come up with things to share.  And it seemed like the few things on our list were higher-priced items.  Yet the Lord used this and met everything we presented, and beyond! 

We were overwhelmed by the generosity of God’s people, and also so very blessed to receive gifts that were specific to our needs/wants!  A couple things the Lord provided through this – hymnals and Bible studies for the beginning of the church, a new car seat for Henry (since there are none that are not in use to pass down!), homeschool curriculum on DVD for Elaine for next year, and a swinging bike rack for our van.  The last item was definitely a want – but since all of our kids have (or are getting soon) bikes, we wanted them to be able to be used this summer. 

Another surprise was that I (Andrea) was one of the speakers!  We had Ladies' night on Friday, and all of the female missionaries got to speak about their part in the ministry.  That was a new one for me!

New Bike Rack

Another blessing for us was a trip to the Creation Museum!  We were privileged to go last summer for Ben’s birthday, but we definitely enjoyed this second trip!  The kids got to ride the camel, to their delight, and we also got to take in the Planetarium show.  This totally blew me away – if you want to get a picture of just how little we know about God, you need to see this Planetarium show.  It was so refreshing to get a Christian perspective on it!

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum
Nolan and Nehemiah on CJ the Camel

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum
I didn’t get as good of pictures of the girls.  I was corralling the boys…and I thought they might take more than one trip around the ring!  The kids loved it, though!

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum
Libs and Lainey

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum

Camel Ride at the Creation Museum

Creation Museum
The Seven C’s in God’s Eternal Plan.

Creation Museum
So thrilled that Mom wanted their picture…

Henry the Thief
Random pics from the week – Happy Happy Henry!

Henry's First Swing at the Playground!
First time in the swings at the playground!

Leaving Kings Mills, OH
We packed our spring clothes since we left NY in 60-70 degree weather.  We did NOT expect to wake up on Saturday morning (very early for an 11 hour drive to Upstate NY) and have snow and ice covering everything!

It was a blessing to be at Kings Mills Baptist Church.  It’s a special church and we feel privileged to be part of their missionary family!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Henry Tad–Seven Months

Henry Seven Months Portraits   Henry Seven Months Portraits

His shirt says it all – “Happy.”  Every church we go to brings a deluge of comments about how happy and easy going he is.  And it’s all true.  In fact, until last week when he was cutting a tooth, I haven’t had to pull an all-nighter with a grumpy baby.  He hasn’t been sick.  He never spit up.  He’s just always happy!  Henry is enjoying the warmer weather and being outside a little.

Henry Seven Months Portraits

Henry Seven Months Portraits

Can you see it?  The big milestones this month include that little white tooth sticking out of his bottom gum, and the fact that he is very mobile and pulling himself up to standing on everything!  We are back to the stage of filtering out small toys and being uber careful about papers, wipes, diaper bags, and more than usually sits in the floor.  Because if its in the floor, it will eventually be in Henry’s mouth!

Henry Seven Months Portraits
Okay…he does cry every once in a while!

Henry Seven Months Portraits
Photo Bomb!  This lucky guy has four older siblings.  These five are my handful – literally – of blessing, tiredness, activity, and craziness!

Henry Seven Months Portraits
“Too many pictures, Mom!  I’m all done!  Let me move around!”