31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween was a lot of fun this year, even though we won't go trick-or-treating tonight. Instead Avery and Mommaw Clark are going to pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters.

As you can see, Avery dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, complete with Toto! After Mommaw Clark bought the ruby slippers this summer, Grandma Hromada made the Dorothy dress.

To be sure Avery understood her character, Aunt Karen introduced Avery to The Wizard of Oz movie last weekend. Karen fast forwarded through some of the spooky parts, but Avery really liked the movie. In fact, Karen taught Avery to say Dorothy's signature phrase (with her eyes closed):

Mommaw Clark tried getting her to click her shoes together, but she can't do that very well. Last night the grandparents and Aunt Karen came over for food, fun and games. That was a fun way to spend the evening!

On Friday night, we went to ZooBoo. The zoo is opened later than usual, and the kids can trick-or-treat at certain spots throughout the zoo.

Avery had a list of animals she wanted to see: tigers, elephants, giraffe and penguins. Despite the large crowd, we saw all of the animals Avery requested. We think it was close to dinner time because a lot of the animals were pacing and waiting for their meals! First we stopped at the relatively new tiger exhibit.

There are several large windows where you can view the tigers. See how close this tiger got to us!

Just as we stepped away from the window, another family with a 1-year-old boy in a wagon walked up to the window. Suddenly we heard a bloodcurdling scream from the boy. As we turned around, we saw the tiger standing right up against the window, breathing on the glass and staring at the boy. The boy's mom said the tiger charged at the boy through the glass. The parents weren't concerned and were laughing at the boy's reaction. But that poor boy will be traumatized for life and never will go see the tigers at the zoo again!

Avery got some yummy candy as she trick-or-treated at the zoo. In fact, I caught her sneaking some of this candy on Saturday. When I returned from Bible study early Saturday morning, the house was still dark. But I found Avery sitting on the couch with her candy loot on her lap. She was eating some Sweet Tarts while Daddy was still sleeping in bed! Luckily I stopped her before she ate too much candy!

The cheetah exhibit has glass windows similar to the tiger exhibit. Here is one cheetah pacing on the tree branches, looking for dinner.

One of the activities at the zoo was an obstacle course. Avery didn't hesitate to get in line and try it out.

That sweet little blond girl didn't even try to race Avery through the course. She wanted to be right beside her the whole way!

We hope you have a spooky Halloween filled with your favorite candy!

28 October 2011

27 October 2011

Carving out some Halloween fun

On Monday, Avery, my parents and I braved the chilly autumn morning to visit the same pumpkin patch we went to last year.

I guess Avery loves sticking her head in these funny cut-out pictures!

The petting zoo was much better this year. Besides seeing some unusual animals (like a 9-month-old camel, a buffalo and some miniature horses), Avery was able to pet some goats...

...and llamas. "Llook out, Llarry! It's the llandlord!" One of my favorite Far Side cartoons.

The best part about this farm is that we take a hayride to the pumpkin patch. This day we had our own private ride. It was just the four of us in the wagon along with the "tour guide." She pointed out all of the produce being grown at the farm.

Grandma and Grandpa wanted to get two pumpkins: a big one to make a jack-o-lantern and a smaller one for Avery's to put on our porch. Here she is with the larger pumpkin.

There's a story behind this picture. The coat she is wearing once was mine. My Grandma Hromada made it for me.

So I did a little digging and found a picture of me wearing the coat, too. The only one I could find was this one. I'm also in a pumpkin patch choosing a jack-o-lantern. So I made Avery recreate this shot for me.

What's a hayride without throwing a little hay? Whenever someone at our house says, "Hey!" we always say, "Hay is for horses." This now is Avery's favorite phrase. She's been saying it a lot this fall.

After the pumpkin patch, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's house to carve the large pumpkin.

Avery didn't mind sticking her hand into the pumpkin to pull out the gooey innards, which is more than I can say for Mommy at Avery's age.

Grandpa worked very hard on carving this pumpkin. It was very thick and difficult to cut.

But look at the finished product! Even Grandpa thought it may have been his best jack-o-lantern ever. And he's been doing this for a long time.

Avery was very proud to put the jack-o-lantern on our front porch. She couldn't wait to show it to Daddy. And he agreed that it was a fine looking jack-o-lantern.

25 October 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Acts 13

Chapter 13 is the turning point in the book of Acts. Until now, the focus has been on Peter taking the gospel to the Jews, and Jerusalem has been the center of the new church. In chapter 13, the focus now moves to Paul taking the gospel to the Gentiles and Antioch as the church headquarters.

The believers in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas, two of the church's best teachers and leaders, to take the gospel to other lands. They started this first missionary journey at Cyprus, Barnabas' homeland. Then they moved into Galatia. It's a little exhausting to think about all the travel they did in just a few years...all by foot and boat!

All the way, Paul and Barnabas met persecution and opposition from Satan. But they kept moving and always were focused on their work for God. They never were deterred from their calling.

It's so true that when we serve God, we should expect opposition. I've seen Satan at work many times in my life when I know I'm in the middle of God's will and doing exactly what he wants me to do. But I'm so glad that God has overcome Satan. He protects and comforts me and ultimately gives me joy as I suffer through Satan's opposition. God doesn't always keep His own from injury, but He always is there to comfort us.

23 October 2011

Tennis anyone?

It shouldn't be any surprise for you to learn that Chris already is helping Avery "play" sports. The amazing thing is that she's picking it up very quickly. Maybe she has some athletic talent in that little body!

Avery and Daddy are just doing the basics, like kicking a soccer ball and playing catch. But lately she's been practicing her tennis skills in preparation for a Title IX scholarship. Could she be the next Steffi Graf, minus the German accent?

You'll see that Chris also taught Avery to celebrate her success by running around and cheering for herself. I guess we need to balance that by talking to her about teamwork!

20 October 2011

Global Babies

One of the many reasons we love Avery's pediatrician is because he gives his patients an age-appropriate book at each well-child visit. He advocates for reading at each and every visit. At one of Avery's appointments during her first year, she chose the book Global Babies. It features babies from around the world. At the time, she really enjoyed reading books with faces. So this book was a natural choice for her.

Two years later, this is still a favorite book. But now Avery can repeat the country names and even can name the countries without being prompted. When we read this book at bedtime tonight, we had to capture her smarts on video!

18 October 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Acts 9:31-12:25


OK, God. I get it.

In just six weeks of BSF, God has really showed me the value of prayer, the results of prayer and why prayer is important to Him. This week was no exception.

While Peter was in prison, awaiting his execution by King Herod, Acts 12:5 tell us that the church "was earnestly praying to God for him." My teaching leader provided these definitions for earnest:
  • serious
  • intentional
  • to an impressive degree
  • a considerable amount
These phrases don't exactly describe my prayer life right now. I can be very casual about prayer. While this isn't a bad thing, it usually means that I'm not completely focused on what I'm praying. I can pray intentionally, but that means planning purposeful and deliberate prayer times. It's quite challenging to think about how to pray to an impressive degree and in a considerable amount. I really struggle with these two qualities of earnest prayer.

And do I expect an answer from God when I pray (Psalm 5:3)?

I must earnestly pray for the church's work around the world because my prayers can affect this work.

The result of the church's earnest prayers in Acts 12 was that an angel miraculously rescued Peter from his prison cell. When Peter arrived at the house where the believers were praying, they couldn't believe how God had rescued Peter. Although they earnestly prayed for Peter, they apparently still were surprised when God miraculously answered their prayers!

17 October 2011

Celebrating 60

When some of Chris' family realized that his aunt and uncle were coming up on their 60th wedding anniversary, much of the family decided to head to their house to celebrate this milestone occasion. Not many families see this milestone! So on Friday, Chris' parents, and the three of us loaded up our new car and drove seven hours to Huntsville, Ala.

Larry and Jerri's 19 family members who visited included a niece, nephews, great-nieces, great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews and plenty of in-laws too. It was Avery's first long trip since our journey to Charleston last summer. We were a little nervous about how she would handle the travel, the change in schedule and family that she doesn't see a lot. But she exceeded our expectations and made us look good in front of extended family!

We arrived in Huntsville around 2 p.m. local time on Friday. After checking in at our hotel and enjoying a brief respite, we headed over to Larry and Jerri's house for the evening. Chris' Aunt Judi and Uncle Ron were already there and had a special gift for Avery.

We shared a chili dinner with the nine people already there. And pretty soon the rest of the family arrived. Avery was anxious to meet five-month-old Mallory, her second cousin once removed. She talked for weeks about holding Mallory and playing with her. Unfortunately, Mallory didn't do as much fun stuff as Avery had hoped! But she still loved on her like a cousin. I'm sure they'll be great playmates in a few years!

Here they are interacting on Saturday.

And don't tell me how cute Avery looks with a baby and how she'll make a great big sister. I'm not convinced yet that we need Baby Clark #2!

Besides Mallory and Avery, the other second cousins once removed include Gus, Stellan and Jonah. Gus and Jonah are brothers, and they live in Columbus, Ind. Stellan is Mallory's big brother. They live in Columbia, S.C.

Avery loved playing with the boys, although they didn't always want her around. She didn't have any problems playing with their boy toys. In fact, I think Avery needs to start playing with more trucks and dinosaurs!

Here is Avery playing with Stellan's Stomp Rocket on Saturday. We may need to buy her one for Christmas!

After catching up with everyone, it suddenly was 9:00. Avery was tired, and so were we! So we returned to the hotel, looking forward to a restful night. We expected Avery to fall asleep on the short drive to the hotel, but she didn't. In fact, she didn't fall asleep until nearly 10:00 (11 Indiana time!). (I actually fell asleep before her!) She wanted to stay awake with Chris and watch the Cardinals blow out the Brewers in the National League Championship Series.

The next morning, we ate an unexpectedly delicious hot continental breakfast at the hotel. Then we met up with everyone at Larry and Jerri's house again. Some of the dads headed to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center while the moms and kids hung out together.

Chris also stayed behind to play with the kids!

After playing awhile, we decided to take Avery to the hotel for a nap. She didn't fight it and fell asleep almost as soon as we got in the car. After her nap, we walked next door to Wintzell's Oyster House. What a delicious lunch! Chris had catfish, and I had fried shrimp. He even convinced me to try alligator tail. It actually was good!

In the early evening, we all went back to Larry and Jerri's house for their anniversary party. Several friends joined our family to celebrate with the couple of the hour.

When Jerri mentioned that they didn't have a cake at their wedding, someone suggested that they feed each other some of the anniversary cake. I fully expected them to smash cake in each other's faces, but they were kind.

Avery couldn't wait any longer and finally got a bite of cake, too.

Avery renewed some family friendships this weekend. She melted a lot of hearts with her sweet words and entertaining actions. I was proud to be her mommy!

Sunday morning, all 19 of us enjoyed breakfast together at IHOP. Then we each headed back to our homes.

It was a whirlwind weekend, but we were glad to spend so much time with extended family. Happy 60th to Larry and Jerri!