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Friday, January 30, 2015

January 2015

At the beginning of the month we went to Santa Cruz and Aptos to stay the night and hang out with our old boss, Pablo, while they were at their beach house.  We (especially me) haven't seen them in a very long time, and it was fun to get away and let C&L play with Pablo and Shannon's boys, Thomas (12), Mateo (9), and Pedro (7).  Despite the age difference, the boys had a lot of fun and played really well together - Soccer, Legos (Caleb was super impressed with some of Thomas' huge Legos, like a Star Wars space ship), and fort building.

This was the boys' first trip to the beach since we were in Chile two years ago.  We rolled up the boys' pant legs and let them get their toes wet, which for Landon became complete head-to-toe soaking, then the wet clothes covered in sand.  They loved it, and Landon cried when we had to leave.

The next morning we got up and headed out to the Forest of Nisene Marks for a walk.  It was beautiful, and even though the boys were cranky, we had some fun moments mixed in.

My Christmas present from Jimmy this year was an overnight trip to San Francisco to see a Cirque Du Soleil show called Kurios - Cabinet of Curiosities.  It was our first Cirque du Soleil show, and we both absolutely LOVED it.  Wow was it amazing.  Each act is so incredibly perfected, with no mistakes, no quivering muscles, nothing but impecably fluid movements and impressive feats.  We didn't get any pictures during the show, but below gives you an idea of the characters, set in the 1910's.

Hosting Haua, the boy in the picture below, was another highlight of our month.  If you haven't already read the post about him and his visit, click here.

The boys are continuing to play well together and love on each other lots.  We often find them holding hands while they sit and watch cartoons together (below). 

Caleb napping in his SWAT costume

One of the biggest changes that happened this month at our house is that the boys began sharing a room.  We had already planned on them sharing eventually, and didn't feel ready to do it when Landon turned three, as we originally thought we would do.  Well then we hosted Haua and David, from the His Little Feet Children's Choir, during which time Caleb and Landon shared a room for three nights.  The night our guests left we asked the boys if they wanted to stay together, and of course for Landon the idea of his own big boy bed in a new room was a little more exciting than it was for Caleb to share, but it turned out to be a natural lead-in to having Haua stay with us. 

Landon is our master puzzle constructor!  He LOVES puzzles, and that's probably how he spends about eighty percent of his playtime at home this past month.  

Last weekend we went for a drive to the foothills to find some sun, and it was a gorgeous day there!  The boys enjoyed playing on a vintage tractor, and cracking walnuts open with a rock while we tasted a little wine.

We celebrated Papa Jack's 84th birthday with a dinner at mom and dad's house.  Love you Papa!

As the adults finished our dinner the boys stayed entertained wrapping themselves up in a tablecloth!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

His Little Feet Children's Choir

This was a crazy busy week, but an amazing one!  Aly, Courtney (April's best friend), and I hosted a baby shower for Jimmy's sister, April, who is pregnant with her first, a boy.  It was a lot of fun, and it was cute to get some shots of the two baby bumps :)

In the same weekend as the shower, we were blessed to be able to host a member of His Little Feet children's choir ( in our home.  The group consisted of fifteen orphan children, from India and Ethiopia, and one boy from Haiti.  These children come from either Christian or government-run orphanages in their home countries.

Our child's name is Haua (pronounced how-a) - a ten year old boy from Aizawl, in the state of Mizoram, India.  Below on the map you'll find Mizoram between Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma).  Its interesting because the kids from Mizoram don't look one bit Indian, but rather more similar to the Burmese.  Here is more information about Mizoram:

Haua is a very fun, silly, confident young boy who loves to play basketball, ride the scooter, and sing and dance.  He spent a good hour trying on all the items in our dress-up box, singing and dancing around in each one, and sometimes even knowing the lyrics to popular American music playing from the iPod.   Performing is definitely not just part of what he has to do being in the U.S. as part of a children's choir.  It was so fun to see him so in his element in our house (with people he barely knew), as well as during their performance at our church Sunday morning.  He was singing with all his heart, and dancing and playing his drum like he just loved it.  I wish I had a video to share of that!


Along with each child(ren) staying at a host family's house is always a HLF staff chaperone, who basically acted like a parent to be sure the child was well behaved, etc.  Haua's chaperone was David (pictured below on the right), a young guy from Ohio.

Watching Disney Planes Fire and Rescue - a first for Haua

The police hat turned out to be the favorite costume piece, and was worn nearly all day Saturday by one boy or the other.

On Saturday while I was at the baby shower, Jimmy took David and Haua to the WOW Science Museum to play.  We didn't get a picture of it, but Haua's favorite exhibit was one that has a flash that captures your shadow against the wall even after you walk away.  He got to where he timed it just right and did jumps and silly poses, too.

Inside the tornado force wind chamber

Next they headed to the park to play some basketball - Haua's favorite, and a fairly new sport for the boys, which was fun.

Finished with lunch at the shoppe.  Haua opted for PB&J.  Kind of funny to me because when we lived in Spain, I remember how strangely received the idea of eating peanut butter with jelly was to the Spanish people.  It was then that I realized it is a very American food, and maybe to most outside the U.S. it could be considered very weird.  Not for Haua though. Maybe all kids' taste buds like that combo... who knows!

Later that night Haua was telling me about their lunch at the shoppe.  He told me he met my dad, and my grandma and grandpa (whom I didn't know would be there, so I was surprised to hear him explain that in his broken English).  He told me my grandma gave him twenty-five cents for him to keep, which he was quite happy about.  :)

Saturday night before dinner the boys had a silly string fight in the front yard.  Its still a mess out there, but they had a blast covering each other with string.

On Sunday morning our guests headed to Remedy Church bright and early to prepare for their performance.  It was SO awesome to watch them perform.  As they all came running down the center aisle up to the stage, and for the first 10 minutes of their singing, I was totally crying, happy, excited, and proud of them, just like a mom of her own kids.  It really is amazing how attached one can become with a child in just a few days.  And for the kids, what an unbelievable experience - nearly a whole year in the United States, touring approximately thirty States, staying with host families and creating hundreds of memories, not to mention learning to read, write and speak English!

At nap time on Sunday, when our guests had left, Caleb told me "Mommy, I want Haua to be part of our family."  Landon responded, "He's our friend!"  I love that they enjoyed having Haua and David with us for those three days, and that they are getting the experiences of learning about other cultures and children who are less fortunate than them.  Such a great way to broaden their thinking, and we can't wait to have an opportunity to host a child again in the future.

If you are curious to see for yourself the His Little Feet choir performing, they will be passing back through our area the morning of Sunday, February 1, singing at First Baptist Church of Stockton. Come check it out - I promise you will be blessed and your heart will be touched watching them sing!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

December 2014

Even in the first week of the 'christmas season' (ie first week of December) we are gathering that there is a strong likelihood that Caleb, with his inquisitiveness and powers of observation, will likely figure out the Santa thing at a fairly early age...

At Uncle Joey and Aunt Aly's house, Caleb noticed they had a few presents under their tree, whereas our tree didn't yet.  Caleb asked "why Santa has visited Aunt Aly's house and not our house yet?"  A few days later, after I had wrapped a few gifts and placed them under our tree, he looked at the name tags on each and then asked "Mommy how come Santa hasn't brought any presents for me yet?"

12/16/14:  A conversation with Caleb at bedtime tonight:
C:  Mom, when I grow up big like daddy will I leave this house?
M: Yes, someday you will, but that won't be for a very long time.
C:  Will I get to be the daddy for someone who doesn't have a daddy?
M:  Well, when you are all grown up you'll meet someone special and get married, and buy a house of your own and maybe have kids of your own.  When mommy and daddy were your age we lived with our mommies and daddies, and we didn't know each other yet then.  I lived with Papa and Nonni and daddy lived with Nana Gigi and Papa Jim.
C:  Who are Papa and Nonni's mommy and daddy?
M: Nonni's daddy is Grandpa Howard, and her mommy is in Heaven now but her name was Grandma Jane.  Papa's daddy is Papa Jack and his mommy is also in Heaven.  Her name was Grandma Joyce. They both went to Heaven but some day you will get to meet them when you go to Heaven, too.
C:  Will I die when I go to Heaven?
M: Well, yes.  If you know Jesus in your heart, then when you die you will go to Heaven.
C:  When I go to Heaven will I come back alive?
M:  (A little unsure how to answer this for someone his age...) Yes, in a certain way, yes you will.

Whew!  Lots of big questions from this four-year-old!

Love how the yellow leaves of this tree look against a stormy sky..

Caleb has a little friend at school named Teya, and she has been drawing pictures for him that I find in his cubby.  They are both pictures of the two of them.  :)

Helping out at the shoppe... juicing lemons for Caesar dressing, and pricing stocking stuffer seasoning.

Boys being boys...
They like to roar a lot these days, and Landon looks especially fierce with the crazy face and no front teeth!
Officer Tony, a good friend of my mom and dads, was having lunch at the shoppe recently and the boys were so excited to talk to him because he is a 'police officer' (CHP, actually).  They are so into police and SWAT right now, and Tony has also been working in riot gear in the bay area recently, and I think they thought he was the coolest thing since sliced bread. More recently when we saw him at the shoppe he even let the boys feel his bullet proof vest.

Christmas festivities... 

Annual Hovatter Christmas Party (the home where we got married)

Making a Gingerbread train with Nana Gigi, Tessa, and Beau

Our Elf, Wink, and a few of his recent appearances...  I only move him a few times a week (whenever I remember...) but the boys get so excited to see where he ends up.  Caleb has started asking if I moved him or if Wink moved himself.

As I mentioned, they are really into playing police and SWAT.  These are the new costumes for dress-up play that they got for Christmas.

Came into the room and saw the boys holding hands while watching cartoons.  Love how close they are becoming and how (usually Caleb) likes to initiate the hand holding.  He loves his brother!

The boys each had Christmas singing programs at the preschool.  Caleb had already requested a tie to wear on Christmas, and he said he also wanted to wear it for his program at school....with his Converse, of course. Caleb seemed a little more comfortable this year leading up to the show, but once on stage he seemed tired and bored, only singing a little bit.  Maybe next year I need to sneak over to him with a snack right beforehand to get his blood sugar up!  Totally my kids... sleepy and out of it when they get too hungry!

Post performance with Nana Gigi

We have made small progress in getting Landon to wear anything dressy.  I bought him three different 'dressy' shirts/sweaters and let him choose his favorite for Christmas.  This was it, and argyle sweater, and he LOVES it.  We're still working on the dress pants and dress shoes...  Here he is ready for school on the day of his program.  He sang a little, too, but quietly as he looked around and took it all in.  Would have minded him skipping the nose picking...!

Papa Jack being silly to make Delanie laugh :)

We had lots of fun having Uncle David and Aunt Dana and the kids in town for a quick visit.  The kids played every morning and afternoon, and it was so fun to see little Lanie (almost 18 months) trying to keep up with the big boys.

Ringing the bell with Nana Gigi and Katrina in front of Lodi's movie theater.  Caleb's favorite part was handing out the candy canes.

Christmas Eve at Ta-ta and Cousin Becky's house in Stockton.  We also got to have several days hanging out with Uncle Ben and Auntie April, which was lots of fun!

Putting cookies out for Santa, and of course, Landon couldn't resist taking a bite of the big guy's cookies for himself.  Typical Landon :)

On New Year's Eve's Eve (Dec. 30th) we enjoyed dinner out with some of my friends from high school and their husbands.  A fun evening to wrap up a great year!