Words By S

My sister did this a while ago with her oldest and I thought would share some of the funny things S says that really brighten our days. Her chatter can drive me crazy sometimes when she repeats the same things again and again but mostly I really enjoy getting the front row seat on her language development!

“Mommy crying. Mommy papa hold you.” (responding to a woman crying on TV)

“S, what’s your favorite food?” “Uncle David.”
“S, what was your favorite part of today?” “Uncle David.”
“S, who’s your favorite Aunt?” “Uncle Susannah.”

S, with her mouth full. “Nobody.”
Kyleigh starts laughing, trying to hide it, excuses herself to laugh.
S: “Mommy crying. Mommy throw fit.”

“Tummy hurt. Need sammich.”

“cupkick” = chapstick

“wrapping paper” = tortillas, napkins

“Where was the last place you wore your hat?”
S: “ona head.”

“I three months old.”

“tubby bear” = teddy bear

Planting garlic with Ezra: “baby garlics go night night. Baby garlics wake a nap. Baby garlics pretty.”

“Say ‘lasagna.’” “Susannah.”

“Toes dirty. New toes, new toes, I need new toes!!!”

“allergetty” = alligator


March felt so long! Looking back at photos from the beginning of the month I can’t believe it was just the beginning of March that stuff happened.

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after talking about it for about 2 years we finally got one and spent the rest of the month testing it out.

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tiny pinecones

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church starts at 1 PM so we play games in the morning after brunch
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Yorkshire puddings before they deflated

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testing out some different ice cream making methods.

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our morning plans fell through so we had a tea party

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Ezra surprised me with the whole wheat cinnamon rolls from the local coffee shop.

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pi day: tamale pie & lemon meringue pie

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a crochet project that finally went right

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we did a craft with some footprints, and this was my way of keeping S out of trouble while I did Ellie’s… letting her have the ink on her own paper!

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deep frying some dandelion flowers!

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enjoying our field guide!

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she adores za’atar.

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these squirrels are evil. They’ve eaten all the heads off of our bulbs and even dug up garlic (which they supposedly hate). I’m not sure how we’re going to have a garden.

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loving seeing our neighborhood come alive!

 Hymns of the month// memorizing: Day by Day // brushing up on: Hallelujah, What a Savior!

favorite recipes// chocolate avocado pudding // raw chocolate snack bars (more like dessert and it made an 8×8) // chocolate cashew ice cream // making ice cream without a machine // grain free Yorkshire puddings // egg-free grain-free breakfast cake // happy adrenal power smoothie // rosemary seminola olive oil bread // healthy caramel pumpkin dip // tamale pie // lentil spinach pancakes – not just for toddlers // homemade coconut milk // peanut sesame slaw // slowcooker baked beans – just don’t add tomato till the beans are cooked! // endurance crackers // cake batter balls // closest thing I’ve come to “real” paleo fudge //

best of online// x-plan giving your kids a way out // the light at the end of the tunnel // why kids ask why // bare naked gratitude // a curse for us – the death of Christ (sermon) //ever wondered the best way to store bread? //if you give a toddler lunch //15 Things I want to tell my TCK// real history of St. Patty’s AND Should Christians celebrate St Patrick’s Day? adoption and the destruction of biological children // 10 Opportunities to talk to your child about God //when the Potter is for us //cleaning glass shower doors // how to practice effectively //Man, Woman, and the Mystery of Christ // the case for minor keys // cleaning your washing machine // we enjoyed listening to Mendelssohn’s St. Paul //

thinking about// what my kids REAL needs are – not what they, I, or others perceive them to be

what brings joy// donating pumped milk to an adopting family // local eggs from a Joel Salatin-style farm // giggles

writing// I have been working on a poem but it mostly just sits untouched…

Children’s Bible Comparisons

As a teenager I remember hearing parents at church complain about the lack of good children’s Bibles… and then by the time I was pregnant with S it seemed there were suddenly many to choose from and more coming out! I have been checking recommended ones out of the library to read to S to compare them. I still have a few on my list but our library doesn’t have them, so someday I may update this post, but for now, these are the four we have read the most:
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
Biggest Story Bible by Kevin DeYoung
For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith

Some thoughts on each of them:
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Age range: (older) toddler
Artwork:intricate photos, sometimes odd, but mostly beautiful, not very realistic
Big picture:love story about our rescue, pointing out Jesus in Bible stories
Strengths:references included with each chapter, chapters a good length for reading aloud, making neat connections to Jesus, includes most “famous” Bible stories.
Weaknesses: poor understanding of God’s justice and wrath (it’s all about love, which isn’t a problem if the reader is saved, but I agree with others whose comment is that it can give kids a wrong idea of their relationship to God), twaddly/long-winded and poor sentence structure at times, sometimes outright changes it (for example, after the flood, God promises to never destroy the earth again, VS never destroying it by flood again).

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
age range: (younger) toddler
artwork: Bright, bold drawings, sometimes a little odd. There is often symbolism in the pictures, though, which is really nice for the parent and to explain things more for older children.
big picture: Jesus as King and God’s Promise, mostly overarching theme but also in some smaller stories
strengths: easy to understand, language toddlers are used to (obedience, etc), no twaddle, coherent big picture story, more simple concepts to grasp, theologically sound. Repetitions in phrasing also make it easier for younger kids to understand.
weaknesses:only comes in a big big book, leaves some stories out, no references.

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
age range: older toddler/early elementary, though S sits through half of it in one sitting sometimes.
artwork: probably our favorite artwork, though it still gets a little odd (green faces sometimes, etc.). Doesn’t show Jesus clearly, which I like. Secret of Kells-style art that is visualy stunning but not realistic, but often has lots of imagery
big picture: a fast-paced, highlights look at the journey from Eden to Heaven (the gardens)
strengths: Engaging language, theologically sound, mentions a lot of smaller stories despite not having the whole one.
weaknesses:So fast! Skips Jesus’ ministry

For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith
age range: older toddler/early elementary (doesn’t usually hold S’s attention very long)
artwork: Warm, simple, realistic. Jesus is never shown head on. I love the intricacy and symbolism of The Biggest Story, but this is a close second.
big picture: the faith of women in the Bible
strengths: includes references, inspiring girls to be like (or not like!) women
weaknesses: creative license needed at times to fill in gaps, little dialogue/much telling, includes debated Mark 8, portrays the women as almost-perfect/no struggles, just faith. A few minor theological points I disagree with, but not as big of disagreements as with Jesus Storybook Bible.

How do all the stories compare/line up?
I made an excel spreadsheet for this since I wanted to fit it all together so we could use them all chronologically if we wanted to.
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What do we use after all that?
I read to S from the Big Picture story Bible daily. It’s the best fit for her attention span and understanding right now with word choice and repetitions. I also read to her from “women Bible” as she calls it, “For Such a Time as This,” and will continue to do so especially as her attention span lengthens. But I wouldn’t use it alone since it’s not meant to be comprehensive. We want The Biggest Story but I don’t know if I would use it every day right now.

Comments on the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook:
I paged through this at my in-law’s. It’s very different from most children’s Bibles. Each story is a page of text and one picture, and then there is a section with a Christ connection and a question. It’s nice because it includes more stories and reads more like a regular Bible, but the straightforwardness of it makes it a little harder for younger kids to connect with, and I like it better when the Christ connection is worked into the story more like with JSB and BPSB. The artwork was pretty standard for a children’s Bible (though everyone was very buff!). The big upside I see to it is that it could be more easily used if they just weren’t quite ready for a regular Bible, and they make a version that is a regular Bible that includes the questions and Christ connection, which would be a good Bible for kids who are reading the Bible on their own but could use some extra explanation or guidance in thinking about what they read.

What are your thoughts on children’s Bibles? What are your favorites and why?

2017 First Quarter: What We Read

Instead of just listing all the books we read at the end of the year, I thought I would do a post every quarter to go into more depth with some of them, and to highlight some children’s books we enjoyed with S as well. Once more I’ve been surprised at how many books I read – having a list and the library and a sheet (Tim Challies’ Reading Challenge) to keep track of it really makes a difference for me!

Raoul Wallenburg: The Man Who Stopped Death. I started this one in December, borrowed from Ezra’s family. Raoul Wallenburg is one of Ezra’s heroes, a man who saved many Jews during the Holocaust. I enjoyed the book, but the style was more suited to late elementary.

They Say We are Infidels Mindy Belz. I wrote about this one previously. It was a very good and eye-opening read, but discouraging because there’s no “ending” with a struggle still going on in Iraq and Syria.

Dispatches from the Front Tim Keese. This was a Christmas gift and I really enjoyed it, once I got used to the “dispatches” style. Lots of inspiring stories of how God is working in the world. We plan on using it as a part of school for our kids someday.

The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers Kavanaugh. Very enjoyable, especially seeing what he had to say about some of the more controversial composers like Wagner and Mozart.

Loving the Little Years Rachel Jankovic. A really good one for me to read as we settled into new routines in our new house, and one I highly recommend to mothers “in the trenches.”

The Renewing of the Mind Project Barb Raveling. Mentioned in a previous post, really important for me in fighting PPD, though I don’t always love her writing style.

The First 1,000 Days This was about the importance of the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life (conception-2 years), especially regarding nutrition. It was eye-opening to see how people don’t know things I take for granted like the necessity of washing hands and produce, but the book wasn’t what I was expecting – I was expecting it to be more about how I can teach them in the first 1,000 days, not just following the stories of mothers and their babies in that time frame.

More Charlotte Mason Education I have been reading a lot of Charlotte Mason books, partly to prepare for the future and partly because there are SO many out there I want to pick one or two to own. This one was short and mostly little summaries of ideas for different subjects.

Symphony for the City of the Dead Anderson. I listened to this one on tape and thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was also very sad. Shostakovich isn’t a composer I had listened to or read much about before, so it was nice to become more familiar with him and his work.

Wildly Affordable Organic I learned a few little things, but mostly was disappointed by this book… but I hadn’t read about it beyond the title, so that may be why: it’s wildly affordable VEGETARIAN organic. We tried a few of her recipes and they weren’t bad but not super flavorful, and the $5 a day is per PERSON, so really we are pretty close to that (if you count S, which some days she eats as much as an adult, and I eat more than usual while nursing).

Dancing Through It Jenifer Ringer. I really enjoyed this since I used to do ballet, and it would definitely be something I would want our girls to read if either of them ever were seriously considering advanced ballet.

Hinds Feet on High Places I thought of this book a few months ago and decided I should read it since I kept thinking of the verse it is based on. While I don’t always agree with all the theology, it was very good for me to read it and I can definitely see myself reading it again if we have a 3rd kid, since a lot of Much Afraid’s struggles are ones I forsee myself having if facing PPD again.

Mission of Motherhood Sally Clarkson. This was recommended to me by a friend in Japan, and then I read Desperate which Sally Clarkson co-authors. I don’t always love her writing style but I love what she has to say and was really encouraged and challenged by this book, especially as lately I’ve felt I’ve been floundering a little as a parent with S growing and changing so much.

The Last Will and Testament of Captain Nemo Mary Purselley. Always fun to read what friends have written! This was more of a short story than a book, but it was an enjoyable quick read.

A Charlotte Mason Education similar to More Charlotte Mason Education. I like how concise these are but would probably go with “A Charlotte Mason Companion” over them, although I feel that one is too wordy.

Mission at Nuremberg I was really disappointed by this book, especially since it was one of WORLD’s books of the year a few years ago. There was a LOT of backstory that I felt was too lengthy. Really only the last few chapters held my attention, but those were the only chapters that were what I thought the book was going to be – I thought it was going to be more about the ministry during the trial and less about chaplain Gereke. But even worse was (especially considering it got such high praise from WORLD) that the theology in it was so so off many times. Not Gereke’s, but the author’s commentary.

A Grief Sanctified J.I. Packer. We started this book a few years ago and picked it up on and off, but only on our drive up from Oregon in January did we really make much progress in it. It’s mostly Richard Baxter’s words after the death of his wife, and is very good, regarding marriage, sanctification, and even some on depression that was really helpful to me. We highly recommend it!

Material World mentioned in a Charlotte Mason email I received, I put this one on hold at the library right away. It was fascinating to see and read about people’s lives and belongings. I just wish it wasn’t 20 years old! We were also pleased to find that it was very modest.

The Ministry of Motherhood Sally Clarkson. I hesitated to read this one since I wasn’t sure how different it would be from Mission of Motherhood. There is some overlap, and I feel like Ministry of Motherhood is more focused and will probably be more helpful to me when the girls are older, but it’s still very good for me to read now, giving me more ideas and direction for interacting with them and pointing them to God.

Both of her books are a bit longwinded and have lots of personal anecdotes that can get tedious and sometimes seem to replace what would be more helpful as direct teaching. Also, some commenters are irritated by their seemingly picture perfect life, but she does include some struggles and for me it’s encouraging to know what can be instead of just more examples of difficulty. So I do highly recommend her books but with those two side notes. They are very solid and encouraging and help on both a philosophical and practical level.I recommend The Mission of Motherhood more than The Ministry of Motherhood.

In the middle of…

Parenting Paul Tripp.

Big Picture Story Bible We bought this for the girls for Christmas and love it! I am hoping to do a comparison of children’s Bibles soon and will write more about this and the next two then.
For Such a Time as This Angie Smith. S’s favorite “women Bible.”
The Biggest Story Kevin DeYoung. I got this more out of curiosity since I knew it was only a few chapters and wondered how it was different from others with the recent “boom” in children’s Bibles.
A Ride on Mother’s Back a book about babywearing! It was fun, though do note some nudity in some of the drawings.
Counting Birds Alice Melville.
Hurry and the Monarch.
Insect Detective.
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane. About monks illuminating the Bible. S fell in love with this book, especially after we used berries to stain paper.
Zin Zin Zin A Violin another favorite!
What Charlie Heard about Charles Ives. It’s neat to see some of the books for children about more modern composers like Ives.
An Egg is Quiet Dianna Aston. All of her books are BEAUTIFUL and we love them.

Renewing Your Mind in the Midst of Postpartum Depression

Some of my postpartum healing came just by lifestyle changes: simpler meals, Ezra doing dishes and taking the girls for a bit every day, supplements (vitamin D and magnesium in amounts prescribed by my doctor, prenatal vitamins, probiotics, cod liver oil, and an herbal tincture), salting my water so I didn’t get lightheaded, and cutting out sugar, caffeine, and processed foods, learning to not do so much (difficult in the midst of a move, but even after we were more settled I found I had a bad habit of feeling like any down time meant I was forgetting something).

But even when doing everything we could to ease the physical side, there was still a lot of difficulty, and as more time went on, I started seeing more and more lies I was believing. I found a handout of Barb Raveling’s teaching that had been handed out at Bible study in the spring, and reading her blog and book were pivotal for me, especially paired with some wise words from two mentors in my life. It still took me a long time to realize that some of my thoughts were lies and then to form habits of truth, so I wanted to give some examples for anyone reading this.
– I don’t love my baby (if I am caring for her, putting aside my wants to meet her needs – then I AM loving her, even if there’s no over the moon she’s the cutest baby feeling).
– If I respond to one crying kid over the other, I don’t love the other one as much (the measure of my love for my kids is not the amount of attention they get, or how little they cry!).
– She’s such an easy baby; I shouldn’t be having a hard time (One, there are so many more factors in my life than just a baby’s temperament. Two, even if that was the only factor, even an easy baby can reveal sin in my life!).
– This is all because I’m such a terrible person and can’t handle two kids (again, there are so many more factors at work, like hormones, making it difficult to cope. But, even if it ever is purely my sin, Christ’s work on the cross is still enough, and His Spirit is here helping me and so is His church!).
– I’m shirking responsibility whenever I pass one of the kids off (we need the Body for all of life, but especially for raising kids! Get help if you need it!).
– I should be able to do it on my own by now (whose standard is that? Are the people I think are doing it all on their own really doing it all on their own?).
– God isn’t listening to my prayers (He is, but His design in my struggles right now is different than what I think it should be)
– I could never give birth again (it was excruciating but God brought me through it and will if we’re ever there again).
– I need a break (so I shouldn’t have wasted time on Facebook/so I will ask Ezra to take the girls when he gets home/but I can’t get one now so we’ll figure something out/a break won’t take care of the laundry/S can watch a video/a break is not my greatest ‘need,’ that’s been met in Christ).
– Feelings of being judged, whether for being out without one or both of the girls or things like wearing the baby wrong, having them in the stroller too soon, etc. (the only judgment that matters is God’s view of me and in Christ that means I’m blameless!)
– xyz is my fault (it’s not my fault that Ellie woke up from her nap early, even if I did put her down at a bad time. It may be my fault that dinner is late, but does it really matter? It may be my fault that I sinned, but God still forgives).
– No one else feels this way (side note: anything with always, never, everyone, no one are most likely lies. Unless I’ve been inside everyone else’s head, I can’t know that).
– I can’t function in this mess/chaos (peace & organization are a matter of the heart above neatness)
– Doing xyz would be more important/I should be doing xyz instead of playing with the girls (they aren’t interruptions but the real most important thing, and most of the time everything else can wait and undivided play time helps ME as much as them!).

It seems so simple when I write it all out like that, but in the moment it can be SO hard to identify any lies, so I wrote this out (though putting it into practice is still a habit I’m working on!):
In moments of stress/feeling overwhelmed:
– What is making me feel this way? Sin? Overscheduled? Something else?
– Am I believing a lie about what needs to get done, who I am, etc? Are my thoughts true/honorable?
– What can I do about it? How can I glorify God and know Him more in this situation?

– Repent of any sin to God & others
– Renew your mind, reviewing and applying truth to your situation. What does scripture say?
– Fix your eyes on Jesus and His endurance (Hebrews 12) and do the next thing (that means MOVE ON and don’t let it drag you down!).

Some tools to renew your mind:
– Find the underlying issues, the “root sins” that are causing the “fruit sins.”
– Psalm 1: meditate on His WORD, not Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Memorize hymns and scripture, take even just a few minutes ALONE with God every day.
– Have a playlist of music that helps you focus on Him
– Keep a thankful list, especially of things that don’t change
– study God – the more we know Him, the more we become like Him and the more we know how to handle every situation, and the more we can let things go as we know His goodness and sovereignty more.

Ellie’s Hymn: Day by Day

When I was pregnant with S, we talked about having a song or hymn for each of our kids, that would be “theirs.” I wrote before about how we picked S’s, and wanted to share some about how we chose Ellie’s.

Unlike with S, I had lots of ideas for Ellie. “Though He Slay Me,” by Shane and Shane, and “Psalm 42/Satisfied in You” by The Sing Team, though not hymns, were frequently on my mind while I was pregnant. Postpartum I often sang “In Christ Alone,” while putting her to bed, and lines from “Day by Day” came to mind almost every day. But since Ellie’s full name put together kind of means “my hope is in the Lord,” I also felt drawn to the hymn by that name. We talked about it off and on before our move but I could never decide, though by that point it was down to the two traditional hymns.
As we slogged through jet lag and sickness and PPD over the next month it became clearer that “Day by Day” was Ellie’s hymn. It was what I was learning at the time, and is what we can sing when our hope is in the Lord. Two kids is totally different than having one. I feel like with one kid it’s a matter of prioritizing things in your day, but with two it’s constantly juggling and it’s so easy to fret about chores or dinner or how to work all the stories and feeding and cuddles into our day (though it’s so much easier now that daily life doesn’t include moving!). One of the things I really had to learn in the first few weeks of Ellie’s life was not to worry about how the next day would play out or feel guilty about nursing Ellie to sleep again (tomorrow is another day to try independent sleep!).
I chose it as my hymn to memorize for March and it’s still a good reminder for me as we sing it every day of what my response to trials should be, and how I want S and Ellie to know Him well enough that that trust comes easily.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best–
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in eve’ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

P.S. – S’s plaque was tea stained; Ellie’s we did with coffee – MUCH easier, though a different shade.

And above Ellie’s plaque in the girls’ room is this, that I saw the idea from on Pinterest  and we did with family and friends before leaving Japan and over the holidays – still missing a few though! We thought the house from Up was fitting for our Ellie. 

6 months old!

I left off our postpartum journey with Ellie at one week postpartum, and so much has happened since then!

Ellie is a very easy, happy baby. She adores all of us, but especially S and Ezra – her face just lights up when she sees them. At 6 months she is not sitting yet, but it will be soon! She has the strength but not the balance. She rolls wherever she wants to go and loves to chew on everything (babyproofing with a toddler around is a totally different ballgame!) and is getting up onto her hands and knees. She doesn’t like the carrier and prefers sleeping in her crib to anywhere else.

More about her newborn days, from a post I started but never finished!

We had help until about 6 weeks. My mom and sister left when Ellie was about a month old, and then we had meals through Ladies’ Bible study every other night until 6 weeks, which was SO helpful. I loved how slow it made the transition, so I wasn’t jumping from having so much help to having the girls alone during the day AND having to make or thaw and heat dinners all at once.
One of my goals the last few days of my mom’s visit was to find Ellie’s sleep rhythm to know how long she should be awake for at a time and work on her going to sleep on her own, following the Awake times from Baby Whisperer and the ideas from Incredible Infant (and at 6 months she sleeps well and we haven’t had any major sleep training we’ve had to do!). In general I felt that we found “our way” sooner and I was worrying less about what was best or what people thought or following a certain method but just doing what worked for us at the time with an eye towards independent sleep. I was overall much less stressed about it anyway, remembering that even if today didn’t go how I wanted it to tomorrow was another chance to try again, and that it would get easier as her wake times got longer and were more than just her nursing.

Nursing didn’t have a huge learning curve and that also made things a lot easier, although we still have struggled with overactive let down, which was leading to Ellie having huge spit ups most days and needing to be held upright for 30 minutes after night feeds. We also had to remember some things about newborns, like their need to be burped, but mostly it was nice things to have to remember, like she couldn’t roll off the bed or climb out of places if we left her there for a few minutes.

I will say that at least the first few months with 2 kids is totally different than having one! It is getting easier and there are some parts that have always been easier (like that I knew what I was doing more often and that if I need Ellie to wake up S happily does that for me so I don’t have to take a break from cooking), but it is so different from just being S. The older Ellie gets, the more fun it is, though, especially seeing the girls’ friendship develop.