This is going to be a whole huge mess of an update! But we have not updated this kids blog in so long that it is high time for lots of pics for all those grandparents out there :) Sorry to all you faithful blog readers out there!!
The kids eating "Ben & Jerry's" ice cream. CORRECTION: The kids eating ice cream from a tiny ice cream shop here in Tirana that SOMEHOW got hold of Ben & Jerry's ice cream cups! Go figure.
Violet's main mode of transportation since we've arrived in Albania - the backpack. She loves the view and being upright more than sitting in the stroller.
She is THE HAPPIEST baby I've ever known. And she has really big cheeks that we kiss about a thousand times a day!
She loves tummy time! She can play with toys and roll around for about an hour and stay happy the whole time (unless Evangeline terrorizes her, which happens often).
This picture was actually taken back in the good ole' USA - but it is so cute just had to share it here!!
Evangeline's second favorite thing to do each day: play dress up. (Her all time favorite is play with her dolls.) If I EVER leave a laundry basket out full of clothes (folded, un-folded, clean or dirty) I will soon see her wearing as many of those clothes as she can possibly put on her little body (no matter whose they are). She's cute and weird like that :D
Violet's kissable cheeks:
The kids LOVE wearing their matching tie-dye shirts. This particular night they were being super cute and actually cuddly with each other.
Here are the kids doing one of their favorite daily activities - magnetic toys! Samuel builds magnetic robots (and he insists that they all have to be very symmetrical). Evangeline has wooden dolls that have magnetic clothes. So cute! This lasts about 10 seconds until they each want to play with each other's magnets. We switch toys about 50 times before the activity is over :D
Last but not least, I'll leave you with this story from this week and these images. Last week while Justin was at camp 8 hours away, the Lord sovereignly protected me and the kids from a dangerous bathroom accident. I had given the kids their dinner then took them to the bathroom and was washing them in the bathtub. The baby was in her bouncy seat a couple feet from me. All of a sudden our hot water heater which hangs on the wall above the toilet came crashing down right off the wall and smashed the toilet and bidet to pieces. The water heater itself missed the baby by maybe 2 feet, and none of the porcelain pieces that shattered everywhere hit any of us! Then of course there was water gushing from the wall which flooded our bathroom and master bedroom. It took me a good 5-10 seconds just to realize what had happened. The kids and I all gave a good scream and the we all started crying. I started crying realizing how close it had come to almost killing Violet and the kids were crying because I was crying. I frantically scooped all three of them up in my arms (Sam and Evangeline still dripping wet and naked from the bath) and dropped them in their bedroom so I could go figure out how to turn our water main off. It took me a good 6-8 minutes to get the water main off, after having made a hysterical call to our landlord and then to Justin (who was climbing a mountain at that moment in southern Albania). By that time our bedroom and master bathroom had about 2-3 inches of water. I returned to the kids' bedroom to try to calm the (they were all still crying...still naked...poor things). Within 10-15 minutes about 8 people were at my house helping me to clean up the mess and assess the situation. I was still pretty hysterical, not so much because of the mess, but just in shock how none of us was hurt, but could have been so easily.
The smashed toilet and bidet:
Here you can see how close the baby would have been in her bouncy seat which was between the bathtub and the toilet:
The defective water heater which actually came off its own rusted brackets. (The brackets were still hanging on their hooks on the wall.)
This was a really difficult thing for me to go through while Justin was so far away. It seems like every time he has to travel something in the house breaks down or we have some accident - although this one was by far the biggest and most traumatic. It was very traumatic for the kids, too. Every time they walk in the bathroom they still talk about the water heater which "boomed out of the wall and almost fell on Violet" as Samuel would say.
But more than just being THANKFUL that God sovereignly protected us, God is using this to teach me to trust in Him above all things and not to fear. I have been struggling with fear in a number of areas in the last year. One of the biggest things is that I'm really afraid of earthquakes now. We've had several here in Tirana in the past year, some quiet strong that send the doors and windows and chandeliers swinging and my heart pounding in my ears. The only thing I can think in the moment is find my children and a pair of shoes (for some reason I really want a pair of shoes in an earthquake - i know it's not logical). I know it sounds silly, but this is something that I've prayed about a lot - to trust God during earthquakes.
And I know that ONE reason that God allowed this freak accident to happen is that He wants me to trust Him. He orchestrated every detail of my day so that it would happen just like it did, intending it to shake me but not harm me. Intending to use it so that I could have a big opportunity to teach my children how to trust God as well.
In a weird way this whole thing has been comforting, because I see so clearly how God allowed this to happen because he loves me and wants me to put my trust in Him. How merciful. How amazing.