Henry’s first day of Kindergarten

August 17th, 2015

Henry started Kindergarten this morning at Imagine International Academy of North Texas. It’s a charter school in McKinney focused on the International Baccalaureate degree. It’s also pretty close to my new school- Holy Family. I think he had a great day, but he certainly sensed that this was a pretty big change. He looked so grown up in his uniform and seemed really confident when he got home. Praying for lots of friends and that his eyes might really be opened to how exciting school can be this year in Mrs. Moore’s class!

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Henry’s 5th birthday

July 5th, 2015

Henry turned 5 on Tuesday June 9th, 2015. We arrived home from the hospital on Sunday night with baby Drew. Other than the car trip home from the hospital and to the pediatrician on Monday, Drew’s first outing was to Legoland for an all-day celebration of Henry! It’s amazing what you’ll do with a 3rd child… I would probably never have taken a first born out for 5 hours to a place with hundreds of kids. Drew is such a good baby though and slept through the entire day. He only opened his eyes to eat and other than that slept peacefully in his carseat.

Henry is mildly obsessed with Legos. He has an entire city set up at our house. This year Andrew even found some vintage Lego rockets and space shuttles on Ebay that are no longer made to give Henry as a birthday present from us since Henry’s second favorite thing is space. Legoland made for the perfect birthday celebration as it is like an amusement park for Lego fans. There are themepark style rides (all in the shape of Legos!) and an outdoor Lego pirate splash pad. Two friends from church, sweet brothers Connor and Tyler, got to join us for the day which made it extra special for Henry. To top it off, Aunt Erin made him a Lego cookie cake (since he still doesn’t like cake or icing!) that he devoured in the mall food court after a long day building, riding rides and splashing with pirates. It really was perfect for him and he loved every minute.

On Friday night, Henry had a second celebration when he got to go to the Texas Rangers baseball game with his grandfathers, Uncle Grant and Uncle Beau. We are so blessed to live in a town near family, but even more blessed that our family is so good to our kids. I just love that he got to spend an entire night with his favorite men (missing Uncle Taylor!) watching his favorite sport. It is a night he will remember for a long time…. made especially wonderful since there were fireworks after the Rangers won! Happy 5th Birthday Henry! We love you!

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Andrew Moses Van Kirk

July 5th, 2015

The birth announcement we sent out via email after Drew was born:

Andrew Moses “Drew” Van Kirk was born at 3:17pm in Dallas. He weighed 7 pounds and 8 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long (which coincidentally was the exact same height as both of his siblings).

Drew arrived on his due date which was a bit of a surprise to his parents who had planned for him to be induced the following day. Stephanie did well through labor and delivery and has had a speedy recovery. Big brother Henry asks to hold him about every 5 minutes and Addie, our doctor in training, is full of questions for every nurse who comes to the room.

Here is a link to an album with pictures of Drew’s first 24 hours:
https://goo.gl/photos/em9JK7k2G6d9iRNz8

We thank all of you for your prayers, kindness and encouragement.

Blessings, Andrew and Stephanie

More of the story:

I (Stephanie) was convinced that Drew was going to come early- hopefully even 2 weeks early like his big brother. So convinced, I told everyone who asked his due date that “it was the 4th, but my babies are usually early so I’m planning for the middle of May!” That sure was wishful thinking… we waited and waited and I never dilated past a 1 cm in May. It was somewhat discouraging to continue to go to the OB and be told week after week that I wasn’t progressing as I really wanted him to be on my schedule! We went ahead and set a induction date for June 5th for 2 reasons: I really didn’t want to be on the hospital on Henry’s birthday (June 9th) and my doctor was on call all day on Friday the 5th which worked well for her.

Even though I set an induction date, the truth is, I really didn’t want to be induced. I felt guilty about “kicking him out” on my timing instead of his. I know I was full term and my doctor felt there was no reason medically that I couldn’t have an induction, but part of me just felt terrible that I wasn’t willing to let go of my anxiety about Henry’s birthday. I think God heard my prayers and, in a bit of grace, my water broke the day before the scheduled induction (which was also Drew’s due date!).

Actually, God really does know better than we do, doesn’t he? Let me back up a bit. For the past 2 years I’d been working for Consumer Credit Counseling Service- a non-profit that provides financial counseling and education. This job was a great blessing after we finished at Ascension because it enabled me to work from home for 20 hours a week on a project that helped the people of our neighborhood in Dallas. It also paid well and the hours were pretty flexible. When we moved to McKinney, I started to feel a sense of separation from that project because I was no longer helping my neighbors. The commute, which I had to make 1-2 times per week, was over an hour there and back. For these and several other reasons, the job really started to feel like it wasn’t the right fit. I missed ministry and I missed working in my own community.

Two weeks before Drew was born I made the difficult choice to resign from CCCS with no other prospects lined up. I had heard a sermon that morning at church focused on the work we have to do at St. Andrew’s in McKinney and I just knew God was calling me to be a part of his work here. What’s amazing about God’s timing is if Drew had been born early, I would not have resigned at that time.

What’s even more amazing is that the week Drew was born I had the unexpected opportunity to apply for a job I didn’t even know was open in McKinney- and it happened to be my dream job. It was the Head of School position for Holy Family Episcopal School. On Monday June 1st I had an interview, on Tuesday morning I had my second interview and, later that evening, the board president called to offer me the position. On Thursday, Drew was born. More on the school and why I’m so passionate about it in a later blog post, but know that I have never felt more excited about a vocational calling in my life. I certainly would have never applied for the position if Drew had been born earlier as I wouldn’t have been looking or asking around about what was open…again, God’s timing is so much more perfect than our own.

Drew’s birthday really went as smoothly as we could have hoped for. Andrew and I both got a good night of sleep and my water broke shortly after I woke up. The contractions started 15 minutes after that, but were only about every 15 minutes so that gave us plenty of time to get the kids up and drive everyone down to my parent’s condo. We dropped them off, stopped by Bubba’s for a sausage biscuit and cinnamon roll (I needed to make sure I had plenty of energy after all!) and made it to the hospital by 10am.

After intake, a walk about Labor and Delivery to speed the contractions up, and a short visit from Henry and Addie around noon, I was really ready for Drew to arrive. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. In fact, he arrived so fast that my doctor, who was only 15 minutes away, and monitoring my progress all day, didn’t make it. Her partner who was on call and upstairs didn’t make it either! The resident, Dr. Garcia, came in just in time and delivered Drew alongside my very experienced nurse, Mary.

The rest of the day was filled with rest and family. Henry and Addie got to meet him just before dinner with my parents and brother Beau. The kids were a little tired because they didn’t nap as they might normally have done, but who could blame them with all the excitement? I think all the wires and IV attached to me might have scared Addie so she was a bit timid, but Henry handled everything like the confident almost 5 year old he was about to become. He has really grown up and it makes us so proud to see him trying to be such a leader for his sister and helper for his parents.

Mark, Alice, Erin, Grant and the twins came up for a party and brought a delicious Italian feast with them (and, of course, sweet Erin baked a cute birthday cake!). It was such fun to celebrate Drew in our recovery room. I really can’t imagine the day going any better and am so grateful for God’s provision and care for our family. He is so good and His gifts, especially the gift of Drew, are beyond beautiful and amazing to me.

 

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Henry’s Preschool Graduation

May 20th, 2015

It’s a little bittersweet to say that Henry is officially finished with preschool. It seems like I was just posting pictures from the 1st day of school this year. Their school held a graduation ceremony last night complete with songs, recitation of favorite Bible verses, catechism questions, a slide show and the passing out of “diplomas.” It was so sweet to see him front and center proudly showing off all he learned. We are especially thankful for his wonderful teacher Mrs. Sands- she was beyond loving and creative and taught him more than we could have ever expected. We were also lucky enough to have several grandparents attend to show their support- thank you Muzzy, GrandDad and Gigi for coming!

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Celebrating Baby Drew!!

May 11th, 2015

My Mom’s best friend Darlene and her daughter Sara, who has always been like a sister to me, were so sweet to throw an ice cream party to celebrate baby Drew. They also threw a shower for Addie over 3 years ago! What a thoughtful family!! They planned a construction themed party for our families and their kids at the cutest (and yummiest!) ice cream parlor. It made me feel so special and I love that we got to spend time getting excited for Van Kirk baby #3 (a rare treat since most of our attention focuses on Henry and Addie these days). We can’t wait for Drew’s arrival… hopefully just a couple more weeks at this point.

The chocolate cake Darlene made was amazing and the cookies were a special thumbprint recipe we always had growing up! They also had boxes full of rocks with coins hidden inside for the kids to did through with mini diggers- very “zen garden-like” and kept them entertained the whole time! Lemonade was served out of construction cones with straws (which Henry and Addie loved!!)  and they had the cutest cards for everyone to write notes on for baby Drew. Thank you a million times over Darlene and Sara!!

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April 2015 with the Van Kirks

May 4th, 2015

We had a busy (and rainy!) April here in McKinney. At the beginning of the month we were delighted to attend Charlie’s baptism and then celebrate Easter with family. Also this month: the kids joined new soccer teams, Stephanie helped lead a women’s retreat for Ascension, Andrew preformed his first marriage solo, the kids flew to North Carolina with Muzzy and GrandDad for Asher’s birthday and Andrew spent a weekend in San Diego with Duke friends (during which Stephanie and friends set up new rooms for Henry, Addie and Baby Drew!). We are grateful and blessed to have such a full schedule filled with family, a wonderful church and good friends. Here are a few pictures of the fun times. Also, today marks one month to baby Drew’s due date- we are ready for him!


   

              
     

Addie’s 3 year old preschool class

March 23rd, 2015

Addie’s teachers are really good about sending a weekly email with pictures of what they do during the day. She has Mrs. Trigsted, who also taught Henry last year, Monday-Thursday from 9-2 at Redeemer Day School (which is within walking distance from our house). Her favorite activities include painting, memorizing scripture (“let your light so shine before man” is a favorite!), playing with the boys (having a brother must make those friendships more fun), and getting a treasure out of the treasure box at the end of the week. She is actually a full year younger than all the kids in her class as she was supposed to be in the 2 year old room (as she was 2 when she started the school year), but she keeps up with her classmates very well and I don’t think she knows the difference at all!

Here are a few pictures to see what she has been up to!

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Cold, ice, and no school!

February 26th, 2015

This week has been the coldest we’ve had all winter. It’s nothing compared to what our family in New Hampshire and North Carolina are experiencing, but we did get school and work canceled for 2 days due to the icy conditions. We’ve had to come up with lots of new indoor games and science experiments to keep us busy! 

On Thursday since we were finally out and about, we did something we’ve been meaning to do for years- the kids had their first dentist visit! He and I were both very impressed with how well behaved the kids were… They actually had a lot of fun (and, thankfully, perfect teeth!). 

BUT today we are back to the winter weather! This time it’s not ice though so we felt like we could let the kids get out there and play in it! 



Looking forward to what March will bring!

Henry gets “married” for Valentine’s

February 12th, 2015

This morning Henry got to be “Mr. Q” at school. His Daddy was asked to marry him to “Miss U” and led them in saying their “vowels.” At the end, he pronounced them “Mr. & Mrs. Qu” and Henry drove his new bride down the hall in an battery powered Jeep. Afterward, his teacher Mrs. Sands had prepared a wonderful reception in their classroom. It was so much fun and a great way to celebrate Valentine’s!

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January 2015

February 5th, 2015

January has been pretty calm around the Van Kirk house. We’ve just been getting back into the school and work routine: making sure we have the back packs, jackets, and lunches together takes up most every morning and the evenings are filled with church classes and dinner with friends and family on the weekends.

There were a few extra special events too: Andrew and I got to Fort Worth to see Pat Green with our friends Mo and Michelle- which was an absolute blast! The concert wasn’t all that amazing, but the food (at the Woodshed) and laughter with friends over giant Jinga was fantastic. Earlier in the month I also got to have 2 of my best friends of college come to town for a few nights! We ate at some delicious restaurants, walked around the DMA, and stayed up late talking every night.

Also, it was announced this week that our Rector, Father Mike Michie, has been nominated as one of the final four candidates to become the potential next bishop in Dallas. We are lifting him and his family up in prayer daily and also looking forward to seeing how it unfolds as it could mean, if he’s elected, some potential changes for Andrew’s position.

Here’s a few pictures!

Girl’s weekend celebrating our 30th year….

IMG_3072Going to see a movie with our friend Sara and her daughters Leighton, Emma and baby Charlotte. Sara’s Mom Darlene and my Mom have been best friends since high school and so it is very special that our kids get to be 3rd generation friends!

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Our little baby boy is anxious to meet his cousins Sophie and Heidi (who, even though they are almost a year apart, will be in the same grade as him!).

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Cute Valentine’s Day pictures to come later this month!