31 December 2010

Of Looking Back

This is the time of year when I, as with nearly the entirety of the world's population, tend to consider all the changes that can occur in just one short year.

As of the beginning of 2010 (Is it really ending already?  It seems we've just begun!), we knew our family would welcome a new little one in just a few short months, but at that time, I fully believed there was a baby girl in my womb.  Sometimes God surprises us in the best possible way.

This year held Micaiah's first flight and Emmett's first breath.  Micaiah's second birthday and Emmett's second tooth. 

So much has stayed the same (our home, our jobs, the love of our families) and yet, it feels underneath that it's changing.  Life decisions are on the horizon and little additions (puppies?!) have completely altered what I always thought about how our life would be.

Here comes another (probably shorter) year.  What surprises does God have in store for us in 2011?  Only time will tell - but for now, it's pretty good at keeping secrets.

30 December 2010

Of a White Christmas

I know I'm a little late in bringing it up, but this year we were blessed with our second white Christmas in a row.  The secret, we've learned, is in going to where the snow is, rather than waiting for it to come to you in Oklahoma (which apparently would have worked last year, but not so much this time around).  Thus, in the St. Louis area, we had the joy of spending Christmas Eve watching out the window as snow drifted to the earth.  Christmas day, the world was blanketed in white.  And the day after Christmas, as the sun peeked out, we were able to take our two tiny ones out to the snow for snow angels, sledding and snowballs.  There may have been a little snow man at one point.  Micaiah may have ripped off his head in search of a snowball.

While I wouldn't mind being stuck at home in a blizzard, I'm grateful for whatever snow I get to encounter these days.  And when it stays around for a couple of days?  What a blessing! 

Thank you, Lord, for the glory of your creation this Christmas (and on into the New Year).

29 December 2010

Of Kissing Cousins

After listening to our three eldest run up and down the stairs yelling excitedly while avoiding their parents' attempts for wrangling to be dressed for family photos, my sister asked me in exasperation, "Why did we decide to have them so close together?"

While it's true that having a three-year-old, two-year-old and twenty-month-old scurrying about isn't exactly an exercise in tranquility, there is a lot of fun to be had when the cousins gather together.  Even though peace isn't always a part of the equation, it's been great watching Micaiah and her younger cousin, Kaleb, follow each other around (even if they're only trying to track down the toy which is in the other's hand) or sit on the piano bench staring out the window at the snow.  It brings joy to our hearts to see she and her older cousin, Kylie, lying on their bellies watching Toy Story and then, when the movie is over, joining hands (Kaleb, too) and dancing before falling over each other giggles.

Cousins, like siblings, aren't a choice.  You get the ones God gives you.  But if you're open to it, these relationships can be some of the most treasured. 

So, here's to watching them grow and enjoying many more Christmases together.

28 December 2010

Of Happy Babies

I hear it all the time:

"He's just about the happiest baby I've ever seen."

And it's true.  We're blessed.  Now that our Emmett-man is finding himself with a fuller belly once again, he's back to his happy self (as previously mentioned) and he sure is a fan favorite.  From high school friends (who I got to see for the first time in two years!) to the photographer at Sears, people just love his happy-go-lucky attitude.  I kind of like it, too.

Now . . . breaking him of needing to be rocked to sleep will not lead to a further abundance of smiles in the short-term and I'm not really looking forward to that process.

But for now . . . I'm just basking in the glow of his handsome grin.

27 December 2010

Of Bookworms

When Philip and I arrived "home" after assisting with my precious little niece whose parents were both ill today, we went up to bed to find our daughter asleep on her travel cot, books strewn over her chest and fist still clutching pages.  I love her.

Of Rejuvination

While Emmett's sleeping patterns haven't improved to 100%, our happy baby is beginning to return to us.  The difference?  He has finally started a consistent baby cereal routine.  His chubby tummy is filling up again and his happiness levels have followed suit. 

It seems everyone is noticing our baby boy's adorably animated giggles and grins.  He loves to take in the world around him and is currently breaking into fits of smiles as my sister teases him with a burp cloth and helps him dance to the soundtrack of Home Alone (which Micaiah is currently watching intently, but may run to Daddy's lap when everyone starts getting hurt again).

Welcome back, my bubbly boy.  We missed you.

25 December 2010

Of Church Moments

This evening, after presents, stuffing, ham, turkey and plenty of "thank-you"s, we headed out to catch up on our lack of church service the night before (truth be told, this evening's attendance was planned previous to last night's incident, so we weren't really "making up" for anything).

As the plate was passed for honoring the Lord's Supper, Philip and I exchanged glances.  Communion involves juice.  Our little one, who was sitting (quietly, though reluctantly) on Daddy's lap, loves juice.  She does NOT love when others get juice and she does not.  This would be a good, teachable (though potentially embarrassing) moment.  Therefore, as Daddy grasped his juice and small piece of unleavened bread, he quietly explained to Micaiah how he does this to remember Jesus and gave a slightly involved (though child-appropriate) briefing of the significance behind the cup and bread.  At the end he asked, "Do you understand?"

Nod.

"Why do we do this?"

"Ba-cuz . . ."

"Because, why?"

"Ba-cuz . . . I want cereal."

Close enough for now.  (Needless to say, she had no "cereal" and no juice, but she handled this lack of snack surprisingly well.)

At the close of the service, as we were dismissed, our child let out her first outburst of the evening, a resounding, "Amen!!!" in response to the announcement of Christmas cookies in the lobby.  At which point, the entire auditorium erupted into laughter of approval.

There are worse things our daughter could yell in church.

24 December 2010

Of Christmas Eve Moments

Sometimes . . .

. . . sliding through the snow-laden street to the point of rear-ending your father is all you need to realize that perhaps your life and those of your children are more important than a Christmas Eve service (no matter how beautifully planned).

It's at this point you make the slow and steady drive around the block to return home and, after testing all possible entries into the home to which you no longer own a key, you finally try the front door to discover it is unlocked. 

Your two-year-old might cry because she wants to go in the car, but if this should occur, a successful diversionary tactic may be to suggest she play in the snow.  And, excitedly, she will.  Decked out in her beautiful crimson and black Christmas dress, white tights and fancy black shoes, covered in her classy, red-hooded coat, black faux fur trimming her gorgeous face, she will, fearlessly, grasp the freezing particles of ice and snow with her bare naked hands, flinching not at the coldness, only to toss snowballs at her father. 

You'll sit in the aged plastic lawn chair on your parents' front porch, feeding your son (whose snazzy suit worn by his father at this age is currently hidden by the blue Mexican blanket hurriedly grabbed on your way out the door) the bottle you warmed for the church service but now, instead, provides a way for you to quickly feed him while you watch the aforementioned snowy scene unfold before you. 

When all of this happens, you know you'll treasure Christmas Eve moments like this in your heart - probably more so than singing carols in a church pew.

23 December 2010

Of Helplessness

He's not getting enough to eat.

He's too hot.

He's having an allergic reaction to his diapers.

He's too cold.

He's teething.

The Pack n' Play is too small - maybe he feels crowded.

Maybe the bed is too hard.

Maybe he's gassy.

These are all the excuses, plus more, we find for why our son, who has slept without waking for 12 hours since he was three months old, will suddenly NOT sleep through a night without screaming at some point.  When we're visiting family, he won't even fall asleep on his own.  When we're at home he wakes up in the wee hours of the morning, screaming so loudly we come to believe he won't ever return to slumber without assistance. 

So we become a crutch. 

Snuggling, rocking, feeding him to sleep. 

I tell myself this is only for a season (which it is) and I treasure these limited moments of holding my son close in the middle of the night (which I do), but deep down I want to lay down next to him and cry myself to sleep as well.  I'm not used to a fussy baby.  Especially one who started life so calm and mellow.  And all I want to do is make it better.

So I pray.

Because after running through the aforementioned list of excuses and seeking solutions for each individual issue, it seems praying is all a momma can do. 

22 December 2010

Of Awaiting the Messiah

Tonight Philip gave me one of the best gifts I have ever received: a copy of my favorite Christmas musical (from G.T. and the Halo Express) which I listened to on cassette tape (yes, I did) numerous times every Christmas which is saved in my memories.  I don't even remember where the tape came from or, sadly, where it went.  But tonight, in preparation for our Christmas road trip, Philip gave me my very own CD copy (which still shows signs of being behind the times, but sadly, even if I had anything on which to play mP3's, G.T. is not so technologically advanced - apparently we have something in common.)

My favorite aspect to this musical, designed to be performed by children's choirs across the nation yet I've never heard it in any arena wider than my own stereo speakers (which aren't very large), is the Bible verses set to song so that I have memorized many references to the birth story of Jesus, but more than that, these verses are not always the typical ones associated with the Christmas story.  Yes, we hear from the Shepherds, Wise Men and Angels, but also from Isaiah, who prophesied the birth of the Christ child and, my favorite, Simeon, who eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Messiah.

What I love about Simeon's story, as presented by G.T. and his choir, is the eager anticipation of the Savior of his people, not just the Israelites, but ALL people - "a light of revelation for the Gentiles."  I adore the eagerness in the voice of Simeon as he describes rushing to the temple day after day, seeking after the babe he had been awaiting.

And then there's the awe.

As he knows the day the Messiah is presented to the temple, his frail legs run with joy to greet the newborn Savior.  As he held the tiny baby in his arms wearied from years of seeking, he asks the child's name.

"Jesus,"  he breathes in pure adoration, "what a beautiful name."

To imagine this man, Simeon, holding this new being and knowing in his heart that he would grow to be the Messiah - the one prophesied in the Old Testament. And hearing his name for the first time.  A name so over-used and worn out in our culture - most often by those who profane our Savior.  And here it was on Simeon's lips, dripping like pure honey.  The most beautiful sound in the world.

I pray that my awe and adoration of the Christ child would mimic Simeon's this Christmas.  May I eagerly seek after him and breathe nothing but devotion and worship of the purest form.

21 December 2010

Of Grace

I heard a song for the first time this Christmas.  It begins with the lines:

"A teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what's to come
A baby changes everything."

These words led me on a thought path (you know how it goes) of reminiscence in how, indeed, our babies changed everything in our lives.  Diapers.  Spit-up.  Nursing.  Crawling.  Toys.  Pureed carrots.  Bibs.  So many little things that we had never before considered were now consuming our lives.  Indeed, babies change so much about us.

As my mind meandered, I was pulled back into the song with the final verse:

"My whole life was turned around.
I was lost but now am found.
A baby changes everything."

Wow. 

What truth. 

Babies do change everything.  But this baby, the son of no man, did not just bring into the life of his young mother worry about bath-time, feeding schedules or runny noses. 

Grace. 

Redeeming grace.  A direct line to our Creator.  Truth.  Life. 

This baby, indeed, changed everything.

Our pastor's wife (a most beautiful woman in every conceivable way) recently changed the song "Silent Night" for me by giving prominence to the words of the second verse: "Radiant beams from Thy Holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace."  The dawn.  The beginning.

The world knew nothing of grace before this one baby changed everything.  With His arrival, God's relationship with His creation changed forever.  I've often discussed in Sunday School or Bible Study the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  We no longer sacrifice spotless lambs.  We have no need for a priest as intercessor.  The Old Testament law was fulfilled and is no longer a laundry list of tasks, rules or regimented commands for us as believers.  We live by faith.  By grace.  By the Holy Spirit living within us.  A concept never fathomed by those of the Old Testament.

These things I have known.

But I never truly dwelt on the fact that Christmas is the celebration of that change. This shift between Old Testament Law and New Testament Grace was not a gradual re-molding of God's design for the church.  It happened in one short lifetime.  A lifetime that began on that one holy night in Bethlehem. 

A baby changed everything.

A baby was the light of revelation to we the Gentiles - to allow those born outside of God's chosen people to come to Him and be enveloped in His love.

This baby is the reason we celebrate.  This change, this grace, is the reason I sing.  Glory to God in the highest.  And on earth, peace to men, on whom His favor truly rests.

20 December 2010

Of Overshadowing

"Is he making sounds, such as 'Dada,' 'Mama,' 'Baba'?" Emmett's doctor asked me at his six-month well-baby check-up today.

"Um . . . "  Flashbacks of a previous blog post along with questions asked at his four-month appointment which left me answering in my head, "I have no idea if he's reaching for things - he never has the chance when laying all alone on the couch."  Only this time the answer in my head was, "His sister's too loud for him to get a word (or sound) in edge-wise."

So, no.  Emmett is not making distinguishable sounds at the moment.  For now what he gives us are snippets of "Aaaaah." and "Yaaaah." accompanied by high-pitched squeals of excitement squeezed into those tiny moments when his sister is silent (in other words, she's sleeping).

In the meantime, he's too busy staring wide-eyed at her every movement or giggling in delight with every "Hi, Emmett!", marveling at the energy wound up in such a small package.  I'm sure he's telling himself, "If that's what I have to keep up with, it's not worth it.  I'm more than happy with being a spectator of life."

My charge to you, Emmett, boy, is to stand up on your two chubby feet and live your life - step out of your sissie's shadow every now again.  You're a star all on your own.

PS Our bubba boy (this is one of the many names I call him) currently weighs 18lb 8oz and is 28 inches long.  He's a'growin!

18 December 2010

Of Comfort

Fear.

Unknown surroundings evoke a scream in the night.  A groggy mother wonders, "I'm right here.  Why is that not enough for him?"  Even after a hand is placed on his tiny chest, the cries persist. 

Only a mother's loving arms are enough to soothe.

A reminder of the Father's love for us.

We find ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances and, though we should know our Father is right beside us, we cry out in fear.  He wonders why is presence is not enough.

Yet He loves that we take comfort in His arms.

May we always stay close enough to our Father that we know His security, even when we know nothing of our surroundings other than that the Lord has brought us here.

17 December 2010

Of Mood Cleansing

You might remember, a few days ago, I had a rather bad day (for me anyway) and it all started because of a lousy attitude about a simple haircut.  I have a feeling the Lord is teaching me that my outlook is my choice. 

Today started out even worse than a bad haircut - without boring anyone with details, I will say the morning included, among other things, an obstinate little potty trainer who needs to get her priorities straight (as in, getting to the toilet in time is slightly more important than turning on the light).  And, boy, was I prepared to stay crabby ALL day if I had to. 

But that's just the thing - I didn't have to.  No one ever has to be in a bad mood.  It's a choice.

And I chose to make a change. 

So, while one child sat buckled in her booster seat crunching Honey-flavored Kix and the other sat in his exer-saucer gnawing the attached plastic giraffe, I snuck away and treated myself to a shower (and believe me, for a stay-at-home mom of two tiny ones, that is a treat!). 

Under the warm flow of water, I allowed the pessimistic thoughts and angry mental tirades, which had been clouding my mind, to quietly slip down the drain.

As I stepped out of the shower (grateful not to hear any screaming or sounds of woe at having been abandoned to watch Diego by their lonesome), I felt as though I were starting a new day.

I thank God for the discipline which molds me each day into a person I like just a little bit more.

16 December 2010

Of Dependency

I went through withdrawal yesterday.

While preparing for bed I attempted to place my finger on the source of my feelings of disconnectedness I was enduring with regards to my son.  I realized, he had not smiled at me all day.

As a result, I felt empty.

As one experiencing the concept of teeth for the first time in his life, little Emmet not yet sure how to handle those little buggers and sometimes causes me pain while he eats.  Upon such occasions he receives what should be a gentle flick to the cheek, but in the heat of the surprising and painful moment there tends to be just a slight amount more of force than initially intended.  And with each instance I receive the most pathetic and heart-wrenching of pouts followed by the saddest cry you've ever heard and a look that says, "Why, Mommy, why?".  While he has not had an overwhelming amount of issues previously, yesterday he seemed to simply be throwing caution to the wind resulting in numerous cheek-flicks.

So it was that we found our way to the end of the day and as I told him I loved him, I observed my little Emmett's eyes with a blankness behind them.  A numbness to anything Mommy said or did.  My heart was officially broken.

Fortunately, babies have short memories.  When I plucked his squirming form from his crib this morning and cooed in his face, those chubby cheeks wrinkled and those deep brown eyes glowed.  And my heart warmed.  The emptiness I had felt crawling into bed last night was re-filled with his waking this morning.  Who knew my entire mood for a day could become so dependent on one little thing?

But that smile is the best drug out there.

15 December 2010

Of Making It Better

Micaiah has a habit of sucking on her fingers.  I've always been very happy that she's not paci-dependent and was also a little pre-occupied with my awe in how she bends her little arm to hold her fingers upside down in her mouth (you'd have to see it to understand, but trust me, I've tried it and it's not comfortable!) to really be all that worried about it.  When winter hits, though, the combination of dry weather and moisture sucked right out of the skin kills those tiny little fingers. 

Her first winter was spent with sock-covered hands to keep her itty bitty fist from chapping.  As icy temperatures chill the air once more, her poor little pointer and middle fingers have begun to crack - to the point of bleeding.  While we attempt to break her of the habit, my little heart breaks at the sight of blood on my baby girl.

But it makes it all better when she holds her finger out to me (as she did for the first time EVER today) and says in a small voice, "Tiss it." After receiving my pucker she brightens only slightly and mumbles, "Tank oo."  Oh, it's good to be a mommy.

14 December 2010

Of Crankiness

Our Little Boy has been cranky lately.

This may not seem like news to most people but, quite frankly, we don't know how to handle cranky babies.  A moody toddler?  Now that's a different story.  But our babies, when babies, tend to eat, sleep and be merry.  So a fussy baby (especially after eating)?  That's new.

Whether it's that he's simply needing more nutrients at this age (we're moving toward cereal but he's not getting it as consistently as we'd like) or that our frigid home leads to shivers and discontent, I'm not a fan of the fussing that only stops when snuggled in someone's arms.  Not that I dislike the cuddling or the excuse to do so, but sometimes a momma has got to get things done - preferably without the soundtrack of a screaming baby.

It's not all bad, though, as he did spend movie time on mommy's chest tonight and got a good giggle out of  silly faces made for his benefit.  Any day I can make my son laugh and show off that famous dimple is a good day - regardless of any prior amount of time spent screaming.

Baby snuggles and giggles have a knack for initiating short-term amnesia.

13 December 2010

Of Hide-and-Seek

We've tried playing hide-and-seek with Micaiah before - wherein one parent would hide with her while the other sought and then we'd switch and she'd get to look for one of us.  But she didn't quite seem to get it. 

She still doesn't get it - but it's so much cuter watching her try at this point.

Therefore, tonight, while I cooked dinner, Philip stood in the kitchen, covered his eyes and began counting after instructing Micaiah to hide.  When she continued standing next to the dining room table with a huge grin on her face (apparently excited to see what would happen when the countdown was over), I rushed her over to the hall closet, coaxed her inside and went back to cooking.  As Daddy opened his eyes and began his search there was an excited "Daddy!" from the closet.  She was caught.

After helping her count while Philip hid, hoping she'd get the idea, we tried again.  He stood in the kitchen, covered his eyes and began the count.  She stood still.  Again I whisked her away, to the bathtub this time, telling her to be quiet and Daddy would come get her.  Just as he opened his eyes I heard a small voice yell, "Mommy!" I yelled back, "Shh.  Daddy's going to come get you but you have to be very quiet!"  Just as he entered the hall there was an, "O.K.!"  Foiled again.

After yet another round of finding Daddy, I helped her hide again.  She insisted on the hall closet again - I thought it was a good technique - who thinks of looking in the same place twice?  Genius, really.  Until she giggled quite happily while he began to seek.  This time, though, Daddy was a sport and pretended not to notice.  Wandering into the bedrooms he yelled, "Where's Micaiah?" To which we both heard, "I coming, Daddy!" and the pitter patter of little feet running out of the hall closet.

She's the best.  (But maybe we'll have to save hide-and-seek for a little while.)

12 December 2010

Of Being Naughty or Nice

Naughty:

Tonight, before laying Emmett down for bed, Philip and I prayed over him as we do every night.  During the prayer, however, I tried to sneak a little baby kiss.  Lips puckered, I leaned toward Emmett's chubby cheek.  And my not-quite-six-month-old son pulled away and ducked his head against his daddy's neck.  And here I thought I surely had a good five years at least before my son was too old for mommy kisses.  Sad day.

Nice:

While visiting the potty at a friend's birthday party this afternoon, I tried to keep Micaiah entertained by watching her in the full-length mirror across from the toilet (seriously?  who designs something like that?!).  I pointed to her reflection and said, "Who's that pretty girl?"  Her response: "Mommy!"

We can clearly see who won the favorite child competition today.

11 December 2010

Of Our Wonderful Life

The best moment of my day: all four of us cuddling on the couch watching "It's a Wonderful Life." Now, the kids didn't quite make it to the 10 p.m. conclusion, but Philip, who was seeing the whole thing for the first time he can actually remember, finished with, "Why don't we own this one?"

A marvelous aspect to this movie is that it shows life is a series of ups and downs.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).  This verse means that when we put our trust in God and seek to glorify Him, we can know that every "down" in our life has a purpose and will be followed by an "up" which is typically greater than we would have even asked for.

Now, George Bailey is not necessarily the most theologically sound example of the above principle, but I've seen this happen in my own life (on a MUCH smaller scale) just within the past couple of days.

Thursday was the worst day I can remember having in quite awhile - a day where it seemed everything I did was bound to fail and the world wanted nothing more than for me to just give up and go back to bed (all without bringing about any truly devastating events which would have actually mattered).  It started by waking up to a home-done haircut which had failed miserably.  The lack of style was rectified only with the use of a ponytail holder, but did a number on my attitude for the day (as much as I hate to admit).  I spent the day whining to Philip about every small thing and yelling at my Little Girl for simply wanting to be held (and being very persistent about it).  There were a few uplifting moments with some quality time with my sister-in-law and, later, our small group, but the following shopping trip failed entirely and the day ended with my dropping a small, yet important, piece of machinery on my toe which had been aching for two days as it was and, in the process, rendering said machinery absolutely useless.

Wait, I take that back, my day ended after said moment of clumsiness with my crying into Philip's shoulder that I just wanted this day to not exist.

Friday, though, was the complete anti-thesis of the day before.  I started with prayer before I even emerged from under the covers.  I stopped myself as my inner voice complained that the kids were waking earlier than I'd like, but remembered, instead, to give thanks for the healthy children who wanted nothing but my love (and some breakfast).  I took the kids shopping and found everything I needed (and had the money to pay for it!).  I received an e-mail that the replacement part I needed to fix aforementioned currently-useless machine was in the mail and by the end of the day I was able to pull the elastic band out of my hair, look myself in the mirror and say, "It's not that bad" (that's not to say the hair issue wasn't fixed today, because it was - thank you, Kut n' Up!).

And there you have it, George Bailey - it's about perspective.  It's about handing it over to God and remembering that the hair, the electronics, the in-store deals - they don't matter.  What matters is our attitude and the joy we find in every situation - no matter what happens.  And most importantly, it's about Who we're choosing to glorify with every denied opportunity to whine, complain, pout and stamp our feet.

It's not about me.

10 December 2010

Of Enrichment


In recognition of the fact that at age 26, despite having two small children who seem to dictate how I spend my every moment, my life is not yet over and I, in theory, have a lot of living left to do . . . a list of all the things I've wanted to do but have yet to learn (or just do) . . .

- Ballet (thank you, Julie, for inspiring this post!)
- Play the Drums
- Play the Piano
- Paint a Landscape from Real Life (not from a photo)
- Knit a Hat
- Write a Book
- Horseback Riding on the Beach
- Zip-Line in the Rainforest
- Salsa
- Swing Dance
- Touch a Squirrel (it's been a goal since college)

There are so many others (travel to more countries, learn more languages) but I fear my list would outrun anyone's interest, so I'll stop there.

Off I go to dream.  Good night ;)

09 December 2010

Of Nature

If you know anything of child development of all, you know of the debate on Nature vs. Nurture - how much of our personality is learned and how much is ingrained in our DNA?  As I watch my children develop, I am continually amazed at the ways their tiny personalities shine through and just how often I find myself thinking, "Where did they learn that?!"

Certainly there are times (such as the moments when Little Girl asserts her opinion: "I say no!") when I see myself in her and I hear the words she's heard come out of my mouth.  Thankfully there have not been any horror stories in those situations yet.

But there seem to be just as many moments when I cannot pinpoint an action I've seen any adult in her life perform and, yet, she instinctively knows to do it.

For example, when did Micaiah figure out that if she doesn't want to do something she should simply walk slower, delaying the inevitable?  I certainly haven't acted this way since I was a child myself.  It's just pure logic she has developed all on her own. Or when she stands on her stool to yell at the dogs out the window?  I certainly know of no dictators she's personally observed and yet somewhere inside her she knows that standing taller gives her more prominence.

And on a different scale, when did Emmett learn that when he spits out his paci, and it somehow lands behind his head as he lays on the ground, that if he twists his little body and stretches his arm as far as it will go he might have a chance at getting it back (now actually succeeding - that's another story, but the fact that he tries never ceases to amaze me)?  He's not exactly watching Mom and Dad struggling with similar issues. 

It just seems there are certain things inscribed in our blood as human beings - our bodies know how to develop and our brains like to keep up pace.  And that logic?  It's just human nature.

08 December 2010

Of Negotiations

I'm not sure where my daughter learned it, but apparently she's training to be a negotiator.

Scene:  Sitting on the potty while Mommy waits for Little Girl do something
Micaiah:  Cookies?
Mommy:  You need to go potty if you want cookies.
Micaiah:  Canees? 
Mommy:  Probably not candy, but you can have a cookie if you go potty.
Micaiah:  . . . . Cookies . . . and canees?

Now you'd have to see the face that accompanied that last line.  The look that clearly indicated she wanted to see how far she could go with this refusing to potty business.  When I stayed firm and replied with, "No, no candy, just cookies.  Actually, it'll just be one cookie, no 's'."  I got back a simple, "Oookay."

Sigh.  We're going to have to invest in Advil by the time the teenage years roll around.

07 December 2010

Of Decisions

Without being able to share more details, I will tell you that today was a day that left my head spinning with choices, BIG decisions to be made and the realization that sometimes options only make life more complicated (and a little difficult).  Good things are good, but they sometimes lead to tough choices.

I'm reminded of what it felt like when I was younger. 

I always wanted to be a teacher.  Always.  But I also thought I would double major (and when you're eight, knowing about the concept of double majoring makes you feel SO intelligent) and also get a veterinary degree because then I could work in the nursery at the zoo during the summer time.  It was such a perfect plan (until I realized zoos only make me sad - the animals always seem so depressed).  Oh, and I also thought I'd go to Harvard to accomplish all of this.  I didn't know this was a school best known for its legal coursework.  I only knew it was where the smart people went.  And, clearly, I was smart.

And then one day it occurred to me that there was a world of options out there!  I could be just about anything!  A marine biologist?  Sure!  An architect?  Maybe.  There was an unlimited number of options.  And when I truly contemplated it, the mind-blowing amount of choices scared me.  So I decided not to think about it and stick with the plan - I had a pretty distinct feeling this was what God wanted for me (well, you know, once I ditched the zoo-nursery thing) and I was glad I knew.  I didn't know how anyone could make a big decision like that without Him.

Now, I still don't know how people do it, but sometimes it's still not so easy for those of us trusting His direction.  I know which way I want to go.  But is it the way I need to go?  And what's more important here is that it's not just me anymore.  There's a whole family along with me.  We're kind of a packaged deal.  And I'm not the only one making decisions - in fact, I'm not making any decisions by myself.  Which, again, only seems to make it harder sometimes.

When did life get so complicated?


PS You may not have followed any of this, but trust me, if you knew what I was talking about, this would make so much more sense.

06 December 2010

Of Compassion

My daughter has such a compassionate heart.  Every time Philip or I make an exclamation of any form we're immediately met with the question, "You ok?"  "You ok, Mommy?" "You ok, Daddy?" And if you look in her face at that very moment you will see wide, inquisitive eyes earnestly waiting to hear confirmation that everything is, indeed, ok.

Thus, you can imagine her distress upon viewing Home Alone for the first time last night.  In scene after scene she witnessed these poor men being injured by that mean little blonde-haired boy.  When Harry runs to thrust his flaming head in a pile of snow we heard, "He hurting!"  When Marv struggles to gain his balance on an icy stairway - "He stuck!"  But when he finally gains control of his feet: "All better!"  And when both men wriggle along a suspended rope which is then cut by the mischievous Kevin we hear, "They fall!"  The whole time her eyes barely leave the screen as she looks for assurance that everyone will be ok.

I decided we'll watch the sequel after she goes to sleep.  I'm just not sure her tender little heart can handle it.

05 December 2010

A Prayer Request

My official post for today precedes this, so if you haven't seen it, you can scroll down after reading this urgent prayer request.

As I know many of you were faithful to pray for Baby Ella (who, by the way, is doing marvelously, but has her next procedure scheduled for the middle of January, so you can continue to lift she and her parents, Amy and Jon, in prayer), I wanted to bring before you another family dear to our hearts. 

There is a woman in our class whose older sister (will be 29 at the beginning of next year) was born with a heart defect.  It is a miracle she has survived this long (she's outlived anyone else with her condition), but she has taken a downhill turn.  She will need another experimental open-heart surgery within the next couple of weeks, but the doctors are not optimistic.  Please pray for Adrian and for a further miracle in her heart.  Also, please pray for her family during this very difficult time as they are not sure if she will live to see her 29th birthday.

Thank you all for being such faithful prayer partners!

Of Soaking it In

I realized today that at least once a week my son falls asleep in the arms of a nursery worker at church.  My daughter did the same.  The amount of times I've allowed them to fall asleep in my arms other than the natural effect of nursing can be counted on one hand. 

I've always been so focused on scheduling and not permitting myself to be a sleep aid so my children will fall asleep on their own without needing momma in the room or being held in the rocking chair that they never sleep anywhere but their cribs when we're at home.  Truly, I am thankful that my children sleep well and that I can put them in their beds and know they'll fall asleep swiftly and stay in that state for a solid amount of time.  But at the same time, I almost want to cry when I realize how often I've denied myself a privilege that so many others are allowed to enjoy weekly and, even more so, that I only just today noticed.
 
Thus, today, while Micaiah napped in her room and Daddy in his, I lay on the couch, Emmett on my chest, stroking his fuzzy head, wiggling ever so slightly to give him the rocking motion that's always sure to put him to sleep (it works in the car!), the soft sounds of Christmas music streaming from the laptop and we both went to sleep.  And it was blissful.  And in the time that he took to settle down I mourned for the days I allowed to slip by when he was so tiny all he wanted to do was sleep on my chest and all I did was lay him on his tummy on the couch while I washed dishes, folded clothes, cooked dinner or checked e-mail. 

I pray I will not forget this feeling and I will allow myself many more of these priceless moments for any children to come in the future.

It's days like today when I pray the thoughts of this poem would be my mantra:

Babies Don’t Keep
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

04 December 2010

Of Domestication

I felt so domesticated today.  This is what happens every time I either spend the day baking or try a new recipe.  But when I spend the entire day (intermittently) baking a new recipe?  Well, that's super domestication right there.

While I'll admit, I'm not quite a novice in the kitchen, I still find myself often feeling lost when pondering things such as the difference between cake flour and all-purpose (which, one would think, given the name, would be the catch-all - apparently the moniker can be misleading).  It's days like today when I wonder how any woman ever learned to cook without the internet. 

How would I know, for example, that my all-purpose flour could work in the absence of its counterpart, but only if I replace two tablespoons with cornstarch?  Or how would I know that what I know of as a cookie sheet is, in fact, a jelly roll pan designed to make the precise type of cake I was aiming toward?

Yes, my friends, the internet is the wanna-be chef's best friend.

But those "stiff peaks" forming in my well-beaten egg whites?  That's all me.  Beat that, Google.

03 December 2010

Of Animals

When I entered Micaiah's room to retrieve her from her nap this afternoon I heard a distinct "Moo".  This is the conversation that followed:

Me: "Did you just moo at me?"
Micaiah: "Cow - Mooo.  Annie [this is our cat] - Nyow, Nyow.  Puppy - Arf, Arf.  (Grunt) Pig - (Grunt, Grunt [she's very good at an authentic oink])."
Me [seeing the stuffed monkey in her bed]: "What does a monkey say?"
Micaiah: . . .
Me: "A monkey says 'ooh, ooh'."
[Emmett babbles in the other room]
Micaiah: "Emmett!"
Me: "What does Emmett say?"
Micaiah: . . . "Emmett Monkey - Oooh, ooh!"

So there you have it - Emmett is a monkey.  I knew he must have been some sort of animal because I still have three distinct sets of teeth marks in my arm (just two tiny red dashes for each set - like an adorable little vampire) that indicate he is gaining an affinity for human flesh.  I just had no idea he was some sort of carnivorous primate.  Oh the things my children teach me.

PS I'm very excited today to know that the Family Force 5 Christmas album is currently on its way to my mailbox thanks to a free CD I had stored up with my music club (yes, I know I'm about the only person in this country still purchasing CD's).  Which means soon I will be listening to the following as I cruise around town with my windows open in our near 70 degree December weather:




Now if that doesn't just say Christmas Spirit, I don't know what does.

02 December 2010

Of Christmasy Moments

This evening was the annual Shawnee Christmas Parade (one of the largest night-time parades in the state - a fact they proudly boast which makes the parade seem much more exciting than it actually is).  I knew it would be most likely cheesy but as I've always wanted to go and never have and now spend my days entertaining a toddler, I knew this would be right up her alley.

And so it was. 

While Emmett slept in the stroller, Micaiah sat on my lap right on Main Street and enjoyed seeing the trucks adorned with lights, covering her ears (or her cheeks at first - I had to adjust her hands a little for her) when the motorcycles went roaring by, waving to the tractor riders and saying, "Hi, Farmer!"  She was too happy to even notice the candy was passing her right by.  While the parade of pick-ups and waving boy scouts may not have been television-worthy, it was a priceless moment with our little one.

Afterward we capped off the evening with ice cream (a Holiday Spice Sugar Cookie Blast from Sonic - yum!) and watching the first half of Elmo Saves Christmas.  A good night indeed.

And as for Little Man, he may have slept through the parade, but having his first taste of baby cereal today seems to make him believe that anything on a spoon belongs in his mouth - a belief that is difficult to work with when trying to eat one's ice cream with a greedy baby in the lap.  Maybe next year, Baby Boy!

01 December 2010

Of Sleeping In

It never fails.

Thanksgiving weekend would have been the perfect time for our family to have the opportunity to sleep in.  What time did my children wake up every morning?  7:15am. 

Yep.

Today, Wednesday, the only day of the week I actually have somewhere to be so I actually need to be up at 7:15am, what time does Micaiah wake up?  8:50 - 10 minutes before I'm supposed to be at Bible Study.  Sigh.

Someday we'll sync up but for now I'm convinced she does this just to taunt me.

30 November 2010

Of Being Held Back

I know every child is different and it's useless to compare them.  But I find myself contrasting how our behavior is affecting our children's development at different rates.

Clearly, Micaiah was our first child.  She was one of the last in a "round" of babies in our church - two months later than the next closest.  Therefore, as I watched the other babies grow and meet new milestones, I assumed Micaiah wouldn't be far behind - so when other kids were sitting up, I would prop Micaiah up with pillows so she could learn.  If they were pushing toys, I gave her toys to push.  Not that I had unrealistic expectations, it was more of a naivete - I didn't know when she was "supposed" to do things so I always figured, "Why not try and see?" and more often than not, she surprised us.  It's true, she was "late" with the crawling and the walking - but that didn't really bother me.

As she was gifted educational toys that were technically out of her age range we let her play with them early because we figured eventually she'd know what she was doing with them.  When I read you could start a baby with cereal at four months, Micaiah started at four months.  I suppose I was just eager to get her to each new stage.

And then came Emmett. 

Now I'm too busy keeping up with his big sister I fail to notice that he's already at certain stages.  I forgot to lay him on the floor to give him the chance to learn to roll over.  I forgot that just laying him down while I do other things won't allow much opportunity to learn to sit.  At five and a half months he's still playing with the basic rattle and teether his sister outgrew long before she was his age.  At this point she was playing with her LeapFrog animal (Letters with Lulu) and Petey the Penguin (who's a little like a Weeble Wobble - a really big Weeble Wobble).  She was holding books (and chewing them very well).  I don't even give him a chance with any of these.  I think almost every other day (or every two or three days at least) that it's probably time to start cereals . . . and then I figure we'll do that next week - until we're now two weeks away from crunch time (six months is when they actually need supplementation from other sources of nutrition - gulp).

So, it's not that I'm concerned about his development, necessarily, I'm concerned that our neglect is holding him back from greatness. 

So today, I pulled out Lulu and gave Emmett the chance to gnaw on her leg.  He seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play with big kid toys.  His sister, however, had different feelings about his new-found love for her play things. 

Darned if I do, darned if I don't ;)

29 November 2010

Of Making Traditions

One of my favorite things about having a family of my own: getting to make new traditions.  I love it when my husband and I decide to make homemade pretzels, knowing that someday our children will reminisce about days like these (assuming, you know, we're still making pretzels by the time they're at an age they'll remember).  I love spontaneously making monkey bread or donuts for Saturday morning breakfast - it's little moments like these that are the most cherished.

And I love that with the holidays come new opportunities for us to establish how our family will celebrate.

We decided before Micaiah's first Christmas that the only gift our children would receive each year from Santa Claus would be a book - because I love to read and I hope our children will, too.  Also, they will receive every Christmas Eve pajamas for them to wake up in on Christmas morning.  I always begged EVERY year to get to open just one gift on Christmas Eve and was never allowed.  So now that I'm in charge - my kids will get to do what I never did.  Even if it's just pajamas, I hope they'll enjoy this custom.

This year marks the beginning of a new tradition that I truly believe will come to be very special for our family.  Recognizing that we love to spend time with family and will, therefore, rarely ever spend a holiday apart from any extended family, we've come up with a way to have our cake and eat it, too - to be able to enjoy Christmas with family, but then also have our own distinctive celebration with just us.

We will be incorporating the tradition already implemented in various cultures world-wide of celebrating Epiphany- known as Three Kings Day in Spain and other Latin cultures - which commemorates the day the Wise Men actually visited the Baby Jesus, representing the revelation to the Gentiles (as non-Jewish people) of God's Son.  Thus, on the Saturday after New Years we will have our own family celebration.  Borrowing ideas from various friends our children will receive only three gifts, so as to represent the three gifts given to Jesus by the Wise Men: one Spiritual, one practical and one frivolous.  Who knows, I may even break out the culinary skills and bake us a little Rosca de Reyes!

I look forward to the years ahead when our children have a special tradition that's just ours - teeming with meaning and a little bit of culture, too.

28 November 2010

Of Showing Off

Since we keep talking about them, I tried to convince Emmett to show off those chompers of his . . .

 But he was playing coy.

It's a good thing his Daddy knows how to make him laugh.

 Just in case you needed a little help.
What a big boy he is!

27 November 2010

Of My Little Man

My Little Man . . .

- has two adorable (albeit rather sharp) pearly whites poking up from his bottom gum.

- loves to play with his toes - they're his favorite toys, really.  Lucky for him, they seem to go everywhere he does!

- thinks if it's in front of his face, it must go in his mouth.  The three bears learned that the hard way as their family picture was licked within an inch of its life on the cover of their storybook.

- can't sit up yet, but he can wriggle himself just about anywhere within a two-foot radius - we're still not quite sure how he manages.

- can often be found watching his big sister with amazement - she's the best entertainment he's got.

- is quite the hit with the ladies - some say it's his chubby thighs; others credit those money-making dimples.

- snuggles amazingly well.

- makes everything worth it.

Of the Bright Side

Today I was given the opportunity to contemplate the better ways of sharing bad news.

For example:
Don't start with a sad voice and the words, "I better tell you what happened."
Do start with, "Before I go further, everyone is okay."
This will leave the listener more time to actually hear the rest of what you're saying rather than trying to tick off the names of the people that might possibly have died within the past number of hours.

Don't follow the aforementioned "Don't" with, "Your sister is now homeless" and begin a long story about flames that cannot be easily heard through bad cell phone reception.
Do continue with, "There was a small house fire and because of the damage to the dining room they won't be able to stay in the house for a little while."
This will stop your audience from having to mentally do a checklist of all the things they might have at their disposal to donate to their poor sister who has clearly just lost everything she owns and with a baby on the way and will, instead, give them the chance to actually listen to those details about the fire - bad reception and all.

But then again, starting your news with the "don't" list does, in fact, make the recipient much more positive about what actually did happen.  Because when you've spent the past five minutes ranging in thoughts from the likelihood that a family member is gone to planning a benefit for the ones who lost everything in the great Black Friday Fire of 2010, suddenly realizing that the rental home they were going to be moving out of within the next couple of months anyway has some damage, while many of their belongings were saved before the electrical fire broke through the walls, really actually seems like great news.

I suppose perspective really is all in the presentation.

25 November 2010

Of Family Time

While I didn't enjoy the mind-boggling debate about with whom to celebrate this year's round of holidays, I've come to a thankful moment on this Thanksgiving: I am thankful that we have the kind of family we actually look forward to spending time with.  We don't have a side of the family we dread or try to avoid. 

Our family spent today with Philip's extended family and Micaiah loved spending her evening chasing her second cousins around Nenaw's kitchen and using her dragon face to "scare" her daddy's cousin into hiding under the coffee table.

And I loved watching her play with ones she loved and who love her, even if they don't see each other much more than once or twice a year.

And I loved knowing that in about a month she'll be chasing around my sister's children and doting on my brother's first child (only three months younger than Emmett) - who she'll be seeing for the first time.  She may be turning the dragon on her uncle Andy and snuggling with her Grandma and Grandpa.

I am thankful for our family.  None of us are perfect and our families have conflicts, but in the end, we're family and we truly enjoy spending time together - and for that, I give thanks.

Of Toby

Our daughter is finally to the age where she actually seems to understand what she sees on television - which is so strange to me.

Yesterday, while occupying our little one so Daddy and I could attempt to rest from our mutual illness, Netflix became a good friend (alright, honesty moment: Netflix became a good friend from about the moment of subscription - our daughter would agree because without aforementioned service she would never have met Dora or the Backyardigans - some of her own favorite playmates - sad, yes, but no point in trying to hide it, I suppose).  Trying to find something longer than the half-hour increments with which she is generally entertained, I flipped over to the "Family Friendly Movies" section and found "Astro Boy" - a movie (based on Japanese animé, as I would later discover) which follows a scientist through the death of his son, Toby, and the attempt to bring him back in robot form.

Let me tell you what happened when the killer robot demolished the original Toby.

"Tow-ee!!!  Where Tow-ee?!!!"

That's right, my daughter had not only learned the name of the boy but had noticed he was missing and that this was highly distressing.  She later noticed when he got "stuck" and when he was "all better."  And, today, when she wanted to watch Toby again, she got so excited to see his little animé face and yelled, "Tow-ee!  I love you, Tow-ee!"  That's right, her first crush - on an animé robot.

It's just astonishing to me that at two she's already able to follow a story-line, even in the in the most vague form.

Yet another sign.  She's growing up.

23 November 2010

Of Appreciation

Last night, when I began feeling sick around 5pm and was snug in bed by 9pm (calling my husband on his cell phone while he was in the other room to whine about my cold feet and having him come to my rescue with fuzzy socks so I wouldn't have to move), I recalled the last time I felt this bad.

We were newlyweds, really, only seven months married and celebrating our first Christmas together - in Venezuela.  While I was glad to visit the country he called home for eight years, it would appear the country was not as glad to see me and did, over the course of a week's time, quite the number on my body.  At the height of it all, I lay in bed all night, alternating between sleep and visits to rid my stomach of the offending intruders.  Where was my new-ish husband during all of this?  Right by my side - if I wasn't sleeping, neither was he.  He, instead, alternated between watching favorite movies from his pre-teen years (MIB, anyone?) and re-visiting Donkey Kong on his old Super Nintendo. 

By the time I saw the glimmer of the rising sun through the small square window in the corner, I could tell the sickness was finally ending - but this relationship?  It was going to last.  My man knows how to take care of his wife - even if his presence is all he can offer.

Last night I was thinking back to this moment, glad that I married him in the first place although also glad he didn't feel the need to sit right at my side this time.  I was more than happy to know he was still getting things done in the living room he both needed and wanted to accomplish on the computer.

And then this morning I realized just how much he still loves me (not that I'd questioned it at all).  The living room filled with toys I'd left behind at nine was completely restored to live-ability.  The basket of un-folded cloth diapers sat outside my son's door, un-folded no longer.  And when I opened my laptop?  An adorable hand-drawn flower with a special note from my media naranja was wedged between the screen and the keyboard.

I love that man.  And I know he loves me, too.

22 November 2010

Of Sunny Days

Because of the obscenely warm temperatures this summer and my son's propensity for over-heating, we haven't indulged much lately in open windows.  Thus, today, when I was able to lay down for a rare mid-day nap, the light breeze pushing the still-closed blinds from side to side and the warm sunlight gleaming through the slats made me feel as if I were in the midst of the lazy days of summer.

Not three days away from gathering around a large table with too many people indulging in too much turkey and other festive foods.

Here's to overly-indulgent weather, even if it seems a little late.

21 November 2010

Of Silliness

I really was just going to do one solid blog today - one topic and that's it.  Not just another list.  And then today happened and there were just too many great moments to limit myself . . .

Should I talk about how Micaiah literally fell in the toilet when I forgot to put her special toddler insert in?  I honestly was cracking up while feeling bad for her at the same time.  But you try not to laugh the next time you see a surprised two-year-old folded in half inside your toilet (you'll feel ok to chuckle after you remind yourself that she hasn't actually done anything in the toilet yet, so, although her dress is soaked, it's relatively clean water).

Or what about Emmett spitting up on my face?  That's what I get for being silly with my son and letting him lay on my chest while I make faces at him.  At least he spewed his contents during a brief moment when I had my mouth shut.  Still, a shower felt necessary when I couldn't get the wet, sticky mess out of the crevices of my nose or my hair (where it had dripped off of my cheeks).

But then there was the moment before dinner when Micaiah found a sippy cup from yesterday sitting among the dirty dishes waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher and didn't understand that two-day-old milk isn't very appetizing.  She realizes it now.  Trust me.  The sounds emitting from her were similar to a cat trying to rid themselves of a hairball.  I think, though, that she's over it.

Later Micaiah showed us that she is, in fact, a hoss.  I made this discovery when I looked at the wall next to our entertainment center and noticed her ENTIRE toy box (ie, a storage ottoman filled with toys) was missing.  When asked where it went she simply replied, "I push," while demonstrating for us the arm motions required for the action.  She never ceases to astound me.

Finally, while Emmett and Daddy snuggled on the couch, she climbed up, too, and handed Emmett her pink bouncy ball.  When he did nothing more than try to chew it (through his paci), she took it back, demonstrated how to throw it, and returned it to her brother.  He still didn't seem to comprehend, so she went through the process of teaching him to toss the ball once more, and did it a third time when he continued to stare at her blankly with the ball in his hand.  She's such a wonderful sister.

So there you have it.  Life around here just gets more exciting every day.

20 November 2010

Of Boredom

Today I was bored.

Today was the first time in recent history (as in, since the time before I had at least one moving child to occupy my energy) that I have had this feeling. 

To be fair, I did have some rather action-packed, fun moments today.  We played outside, we went to a party (one of those wild and crazy parties that married couples who have to bring their children along have - the kind with arguments over toy phones, races on miniature cars and blocks soaring through the air - and the parents get to actually indulge in adult conversation, too), I got to run errands (alone!) - but when I arrived home and my eldest was napping and the younger followed suit soon after, I found I had nothing to do.  To be sure, I'm certain there were dishes that could have been placed in the dishwasher or something similar, but other than that - nothing.

And it was weird.

I couldn't even fathom how to fill the time.  I racked my brain - surely there was something on my seemingly-endless list of things that need to get done that could be done in that moment.  And I was at a loss.

Bored.

Really?

Maybe I've been wrong lately as I've justified to myself that I don't need more things to do just to occupy my time.  Maybe I should take up knitting . . .

19 November 2010

Of Ramblings

If you notice, I've moved towards lists a lot lately - it would appear my days are getting less profound and more just series of events.  But I suppose that's what we're all about - a series of events strung together to make life.

So today . . .

- Our dryer received a new heating element for the THIRD time in as many years.  Which is funny considering I remember my mom having the same washer and dryer set nearly my whole life and never seeing an appliance repair-person in my home . . . apparently they just don't make things the way they used to.

- Micaiah and I colored home-printed Dora coloring sheets - and I realized I should probably save myself money on coloring books until my daughter understands what lines are, let alone how to stay in them.

- Before coloring, Micaiah drew a very precise picture of Dora, Boots and Backpack - well, at least that's what she said it was.  To the untrained eye (which apparently mine is) it appeared as three sets of swirls in varying sizes.  Adorable nonetheless.

- My daughter wore one pair of underwear all day.  Trust me, this is HUGE.

- I threatened my husband with bodily injury should he allow our child to see him pull cookies from the cookie jar.  If she doesn't know where they come from, she has no direction toward which to aim her begging (such as pointing at the fridge and whining when she wants milk, etc.).

- Emmett napped for three hours in the morning.  I assume it's because he woke up earlier than usual.  Either way, it was nice and scary all at the same time (checking for any semblance of movement on the video monitor became a regular activity in that short amount of time).

- When Emmett was screaming because he didn't like being on his belly and couldn't roll over at the moment, Micaiah stepped in all by herself and played with him to calm him down.  Tickles and giggles always smooth things over.

- Later, before bed, after she gave him a sweet kiss, she found his paci laying next to his head and placed it nicely in his mouth.

Those two kids are the best part of every day.

18 November 2010

Of Playing Favorites

I've always heard parents say every stage is your favorite.

And, for the most part, I'd found this to be true.  I would bemoan the signs of aging in my daughter only to discover just how fun this new stage of life was. 

Now I'm beginning to wonder.

Comparing the two - I think I like the five-month stage just a little better than the toddler stage.

To be sure - those moments of "I lul you, Mommy." and "Good night, Jesus!" are darn precious and I wouldn't trade them.  But there's something to be said of setting a child down and knowing he won't go anywhere.  Of his being strong enough to not feel like I'm going to break him while stuffing his little armies into his little sleevies (if you got the joke, you'd be chuckling to yourself right now, promise), but also young enough to not argue about what pair of pants his legs are wearing.  Of knowing his chubby hands won't be pulling any ornaments off the tree unless I'm thoughtless enough to lay him under it (and even so they'd still be just out of reach).  Of being able to entertain him with a simple hug or just a teething ring - rattling is optional.  Of being able to cook, clean, relax without his whining demands that we do what he wants to do exactly when he wants to do it (unless, of course, it's feeding time).

Yes, there is something to be said about the greatness of five months.

Two years isn't bad - it just requires a lot more energy.

Five months seems to hit me at just my level of laziness.  Unfortunately, I can't stop the clock - so I'll just have to console myself with those big hugs and sweet songs of toddler-hood.

17 November 2010

Of Things I Love

I Love . . .

. . . the way toddler hair sparkles from the droplets of mist under the shower.

. . . tiny dimples in chubby cheeks.

. . . big hugs, endless, unprompted kisses and a head of curls on my shoulder.

. . . taking five month Jemima pictures (even if it means he's growing too fast!).

. . . hiding in an open box (laid on its side) with an adventurous two-year-old.

. . . a little boy who rolls from front-to-back and back again.

. . . listening to my daughter's "moosic" created by wooden spoons and an over-turned shoe basket.

. . . the way my son's eyes (and head, and upper body) follow his daddy around the room.

. . . the way a little girl lays on her belly on the ottoman drawing with her pen and paper like a big girl.

. . . seeing the first white indications of a tiny tooth (although it's sad that my little man is tooth-less no more).

I love this day.

16 November 2010

Of Mommy and Me Time

Philip stayed home from work today.  Therefore, while our tiny son slept an inordinate amount this morning (leading to that perfect in-between of not being able to be left alone yet requiring no work from the responsible adult left at home with him), I toted our not-so-tiny toddler with me on a few errands.  How sweet it was to have one itty-bitty hand to hold - not needing a cart to carry an infant carrier, we were able to just walk side-by-side, meandering through the aisles of the store. 

If she wanted to be held, my arms were free to do so.

When she wanted to stop and hug a Minnie Mouse doll, we took the time to do so (and then she nicely told Minnie good-bye as we moved along). 

We admired the animatronic pig and hippo lawn ornaments in matching Santa hats (really, K-Mart?) and gave Rudolph's red nose a gentle squeeze.

We sat in the toy aisle of Wal-Mart and watched an ad play at the touch of a button for LeapFrog's Tag system and then pet the motion-sensor puppies.

Of course, we didn't ride the horsey when we left the store, so apparently the whole morning was shot.

But for a fleeting moment it was wonderful to just be the mommy of a toddler.  She's a great kid.

(And her brother's not so bad, either, and she did ask about him more than once while we were out, lest you worry he may have been forgotten.)

15 November 2010

Of My Right-Hand Man

There is one member of this family who does not quite receive as much blog time as the rest - heck, even the dogs get more play than my poor husband.

My man is amazing.  And I don't tell him nearly enough.

This evening I hosted a girls night/Pampered Chef show in our home.  My husband knows that getting our house ready for such events is a task for me because we have a two-year-old and it shows.  And she has a little bit of a lazy Momma and that shows.  So our house can go from 0-60 on the level of chaos in just one day (or less).  When you add a few of those days together . . . well, you get the picture.

Therefore, even though he knows I've been home all day to get things like this done, what does my husband do?  He walks straight in the door from work and says, "What can I do to help?"  Not because the house still looked horrible (it was actually looking pretty great by that point), not because I was freaking out (I was clipping coupons on the couch) and not because a tiny toddler was going crazy (she was watching Dora and yelling, "Hi, Daddy!").  No, his question was intentional.  He had spent all day preparing himself to come home and be at my beck and call.

And so it was that even though I was ready to start winding down from the cleaning process, my husband cleaned our bathroom, took out the trash, fished a stray cookie sheet from under the stove, prepared dinner for he and our daughter and helped me put last minute things in their places.

And then, his reward for all of this work?  Being shut up in our bedroom for three and a half hours while his home was over-run with women and babies.  And then, every once in awhile (thrice, to be exact), changing a certain little girl's pants because she gets so caught up in playing she forgets where she needs to potty.

That's my man.

He's the best.

14 November 2010

Of a Servant's Heart

My daughter is following in the footsteps of Jesus.  Considering she spent the evening hugging the tiny Matrushka version of Baby Jesus, I suppose she's simply learning quickly.

This evening, as it was time for bedtime kisses, she came to find me feeding her brother on the couch.  My feet were propped up and she stopped short on her way to find me to point and say, "Yucky."  Yes, I know that although I just cleaned my floors on Thursday they're never as clean as they should be and, yes, I know that as I rarely wear socks, my feet are often gray-ish by the end of the day (TMI, maybe, but important for the story, so let's move on).  Having my two-year-old daughter question my hygiene?  Not the best part of my day.

But what follows caused me to erupt with giggles, despite my daughter's chastising.  She then declared, "I wash", grabbed for the closest piece of cloth she could grasp, which happened to be her brother's tiny sock, and diligently wiped her mommy's "yucky" heel (which, as it turned out, had a tiny bit of paper stuck to it which caused the entire episode).  Satisfied that all was right in her OCD world, she gave Mommy and Emmett hugs and kisses and headed off to bed.

Washing the feet of others already?  My daughter is a true servant.

13 November 2010

Of Being Early

I used to be a Nazi about the timing of Christmas décor and other Seasonal signals.  Christmas music of any sort was not to begin playing until the day after Thanksgiving and not one ornament should be seen in any store or home before that time, either.  I grew peeved with the retail world apparently not owning calendars of any sort and skipping directly from shelves filled with witch's costumes and an overabundance of orange and black candy packages to those overflowing with stockings, garland and green and red M&M's.  What happened to Thanksgiving?!  This was madness!

And now, owning a home of my own, I have entered into this crazy world of desiring to be surrounded by the Christmas spirit as early as possible.  I told my husband I wanted to put up our tree on November 1st, but he demurred quite successfully for awhile.   I, too, admitted that it seemed a tad early and, being the Coca-Cola thermometer (which only recently replaced the Jack Daniels remnant from the previous owners) still read in the mid-seventies, the winter effect which tends to bring about the Christmas mood was hardly a factor.

Until today.  Today, with a chill in the air and ornaments on my table (décor I recently put together for a Holiday show promoting my Pampered Chef business), I decided I was really ready.

So, yes, there's a tree in my living room, all decked out with meaningful ornaments from our life together thus far.  There are stockings hung from the mantle (although still missing one, we haven't found the perfect design for our little man as of yet), wreaths in our entryway and various nativity scenes grace our entertainment center.  Our home wreaks of Christmas spirit.  And I love it.  I love everything this season represents and I like to cling to the visual reminders for as long as possible.

So all you Grinches out there step off.  Yeah, I said it.

PS One of many favorite moments of the day: reading Micaiah the Story of Christmas while acting it out with her Little People Nativity from Gram and Grandy.  Seeing her tiny hands placing the wise men in their spot on her dresser so as to properly give adoration to the baby Jesus: priceless.

Please Forgive My Absence

I was sick yesterday and, thus, did not have much brain for updating my blog.  This is what I would have written, had I been coherent . . .

I'm not feeling very well today.  Or, to put it as I did when talking with my husband, "I feel yucky." 

It's funny how when I'm feeling sick, laying in my bed, listening to my children playing with Gram and Grandy in the living room (I'm not sure how I would have survived today without them - SO grateful they happened to be in town while I was sick, even though it did not so much make for a great visit), the only thing I want, more than Gatorade or saltines or a Rolaid is a snuggle from those two little precious ones.  Unfortunately for the sake of germs and whatnot it's the one thing I shouldn't have.  But somehow it just seems that one little head of curls nestled against my cheek and a chubby little butterball tucked in my arm will just make the world seem a much better place.

Until, of course, that little butterball starts squirming and the curly-headed snuggler decides a bounce or two (or five) on the bed would be just what she needs.  At that point they can certainly be whisked away to let Mama sleep.

A child's cuddle (or even just the dream of one) is the heart's best medicine.

11 November 2010

Of Splurging

I let Micaiah play with a pencil today.

Typically it's only crayons for that girl - no pens, pencils or grown-up writing utensils of any sort.  I can't give a logic for it, it's just the way it is.  And there's a certain little girl in this house who just wants to be grown-up (at 2!). 

And today I decided it wasn't worth the argument.

Giving my toddler a real-life pencil?  I'm living life on the edge now . . .

10 November 2010

Of Moving On

Emmett is finally at that size - the size when adding the weight of a baby carrier to his 18+ pounds of baby is just a bit too much when also toting a backpack/diaper bag, a purse, a "Bible Study bag" (for church) and an extra diaper bag for the toddler (this is what happens when you have two children in two different classrooms in the nursery) and also, hopefully, a toddler hand (if I have one free, otherwise she's told to "stay close").  Thus, due to weight limits imposed by my body, he's finally at the stage when the baby carrier gets left in the car and he gets carried free-hand. 

Truthfully, it would be a bit easier to move to this new stage if he were, you know, able to sit up or hold on or anything helpful when carrying him one-armed.  But my arms were begging for a break.  So I listened.

Just one more notch in the growing-up belt.  One that never occurs to anyone who hasn't had a child, but, trust me, it's significant.

09 November 2010

08 November 2010

Of Free Smiles

I've been mentioning to some lately that I've recently discovered one of the biggest differences to me between my son and my daughter at this four-month stage. 

In all of Micaiah's "baby" pictures she appears very serious.  A documented smile was rare and even then required Mommy or Daddy behind the photographer making goofy sounds and jumping in between shots for a quick tickle.  If we didn't do that what we usually got was a cocked eyebrow and a look that said, "What are you doing?"  And even in those undocumented moments we had to work hard for our smiles.  She wasn't giving them up to just anybody!  These days, that serious sass has not budged an inch.  She spends more time shaking her head, pouting her lip and intently working on whatever toy is in her hand than she does outright giggling and grinning.  And she'll NEVER smile for the camera.

Emmett?  He's a grinning fool.  I always feel I need to find another word to describe his smile because I use "grin" a lot.  But that's just what it is.  It's not a little hint of a smirk or a shy widening of the mouth - this boy grins, dimples and all.  He just loves to smile.  He'll show off those gums to anyone who glances his direction and he's more than happy to do so for the camera, also (although most often I get the deer-in-headlights look in snapshots - which is also adorable).  That little man is so easy to please.

On a side note:  Scenes from my day:  This is what was going on while I did dishes this morning:
 Micaiah colored peacefully at the table while her brother discovered the animals on the seesaw on his bouncy seat.  Yes, they're cute.


07 November 2010

Of Sibling Moments

We now have in our family two adorable sets of siblings we get to watch interact.  And it is such a joy.

Bingley and Bennet continue to amuse us with their competitive natures.  We bought two toys for them last night.  We got both out this afternoon.  And yet only one toy gets attention at any given time.  Because if one dog sees the other happily tugging at a rubber ball attached to a rope, he wants it, too.  And if one dog sees another toting around a blue and yellow cloth-covered "bone," he HAS to have that bone.  Thus, they will literally run around, side by side, each with one end of the bone, or rope, or even stick, in his mouth.  Until, of course, one of them gets tired of sharing and outright tackles the other. 

I'm kind of glad that disputes between Micaiah and Emmett aren't solved this way . . . yet.

During their bed-time story tonight Micaiah wanted to hold her brother.  And he giggled about it.  We have one happy boy, but there's just no one who can make him smile as much as his sister.  He LOVES when she does anything with him, whether it's insisting he sit next to her to watch "Ar-tur" (that's "Arthur" - the glasses-wearing aardvark), sticking price stickers meticulously to his tiny toes (while demanding, "Emmett, no kicking!") or simply giving him a good night tackle (which is meant to be a hug).  It's a good thing that, for now, the feeling is mutual.

Of Late-Night Shopping

Two months ago my grandma broke her wrist.  When returning from the hospital early in the morning, my parents made a quick pit-stop at Walgreens to pick up her prescriptions for pain . . . and apparently quite a few other things - among them, a Nebraska cheerleader doll for Micaiah, a Cornhusker Sippie Cup for Emmett and a musical toy for my grandma to use as a summoning mechanism in the middle of the night.  While revealing his purchases, he declared excitedly, "You'll never believe what they sell at Walgreen's at 2 o'clock in the morning!"

I totally get it now.

No, I wasn't at the pharmacy at two o'clock in the morning, but I did recently return from Wal-Mart at midnight - and I might have gone a little crazy.  But when they have uber-cute dresses (and men's dress shirts) clearanced for $1 and remnant Halloween make-up kits and pirate costumes marked down by 90%, who can really resist?  Especially when you're out shopping without the kids and have no time-limit (other than the fact that it's midnight - minor details).

Lesson learned: budgeting defenses apparently shut down between the hours of 12-5am.

05 November 2010

My Day: From Micaiah's Point of View

I could be even more cheesy than I'm already going to be and pretend Micaiah is actually typing this blog, but I'm much too tired to attempt to type in a two-year-old fashion, so we're just going to take a fun look at her day through her eyes (and my mind).  Got it?  Let's go!

This morning when I woke up I was so excited to discover someone forgot to close my closet door last night!  This means all the toys that are usually tucked into bed in the dark storage space got to come out to play in the morning - but I was good and only got out a couple of baskets of stuffed animals.  I know Mommy was so proud that I didn't make a mess with my puzzles or the shoes I know I shouldn't play with (but sometimes do anyway).

Because Mommy slept in, I didn't get to watch Super Why (one of my favorites!) or even Dinosaur Train (which is also a favorite, but a little less favorite) and I only got to see the very last part of Elmo.  Momma must have been SUPER tired.  I heard her coughing a lot last night, so I guess that must be it.

She seemed to be in a big hurry after breakfast and got awfully impatient with me.  I don't like it when Mommy yells, but she apologized and told me her behavior was inappropriate - I wish she would have gotten a spanking like I would have if I acted like that!  But I know if I'd have tried to do it, I would have gotten my own spanking, so I just forgave her.

She was really proud of me, though, for being able to wash my hands all on my own while she changed Emmett's diaper, that helped us get out the door real quick - I'm a good helper!

It turns out Mommy was in a hurry because I was going to have lunch with one of my best friends - he and I had so much fun hiding behind curtains and then pushing my brother around in a walker.  Momma says Emmett is silly - I think so, too, because even though we pushed the walker a little hard, all he did was show off his dimples.  I really like him.

After lunch, Mom was frustrated because I went potty in my pants and didn't tell her - but not quite as frustrated as she was later when I did it again and then played with the brown mushy stuff.  It felt funny on my fingers and I didn't really like being yucky . . . but it was fun to play with.  

Mommy put me in some underwear with a red-headed girl named Ariel on them - and then I got to watch Ariel on T.V.!  How fun!  I loved that movie - I don't ever remember seeing it before (although Mommy says I have - but I was really little - I wonder if I was as little as Emmett . . .)

We had pizza for dinner.  I like pizza.

Then we all went outside and Daddy tried to help me be a big girl and pet the puppies - but I was so scared.  They're really big and sometimes they hurt Mommy.  She says they don't mean to and she's ok, but I just don't know.  One time, I was walking through the yard with the Frisbee in my hand (I like to throw the Frisbee for the puppies) and I turned around and there was a PUPPY!  Right behind me!!!  That was SUPER scary!  For some reason, I don't think they're scared of me anymore.  But that doesn't mean I'm not scared of them!

Mommy and Daddy tried to teach me how to count.  Then they taught me this really great joke.  I'm still working on the punchline (if you ask nicely, I might try it for you) -I don't really get it, but Mommy and Daddy promise it's funny. 

I got to stay up real late tonight.  Mommy and Daddy say it's because the time will change on Sunday.  I don't know what that means but I do know Mommy and Daddy don't like it when I wake up too early and I think that has something to do with it.  I don't mind.  I like staying up late.  I get really silly when I stay up late - like playing peek-a-boo in the sheets and hopping on Mommy's back.

It was quite the day - I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

04 November 2010

Of Mutual Fear

Bingley and Bennet.

These are the names of the two newest additions to our family.  They seem to be enjoying themselves quite well and have sufficiently booted our cat, Annie, from her hiding place under the shed (I actually feel bad for her, but she'll survive).

While Micaiah loves to watch out the windows and say, "I want puppy!" they seem to all have a mutual fear of each other.  I'm guessing the puppies' anxiety comes from the high-pitched shrieks emitted from her tiny lungs any time they come closer than four feet.

However, if they stay the designated footage from her safety bubble, she just loves them.  She'll toss the frisbee or the tennis ball in their direction (though both of these toys are still a foreign concept to the little guys; thus, they simply stare as if to say, "Why are you shoving this in my face?").  When we tell them to "Stay," Micaiah, also, will hold her palm out and command, "Say!" And when they're finally allowed to eat, she jumps up and down excitedly, "Good job!!!"

She's cute.  So are they.  They make a good set.  As long as they all keep their distance.

03 November 2010

Of Mommy Time

Bible Study this morning was a little more relaxed - not that we're an uptight group or that we take ourselves too seriously, but when we're taking an in-depth look at the Word, I like to be distraction-free.  Today, however, we were taking a break from 1 Samuel to learn ideas for simplifying our holidays.  Thus, I did something rare.

I let Emmett join me in Bible Study rather than dropping him into the arms of doting nursery workers.  I wanted him in my own doting arms for just a little while.

After feeding him his bottle and apologizing to those at my table who had to witness his incredible ability to deposit his used milk on both he and myself, I was able to spend a good hour just holding my son.  Feeling his little warmth in my arms and watching him fall asleep.  What an amazing opportunity!

Being that the amount of time spent nursing Emmett is typically just at Micaiah's limit for the amount of time she's okay with my not giving her my undivided attention (and even that is pushing it at times) and when she IS entertained elsewhere I'm grabbing my precious free moments for use in the kitchen or keeping up with housework (which, ask certain people and they'll tell you, I don't tend to do an awesome job with), I practically never have the time to just enjoy my son and his presence in my arms.

So today I did.

I hugged him close.  I smelled his hair.  I watched his eyes drift closed.  And I thanked the Lord for stolen moments.

02 November 2010

Of Puppies

I feel I've done an adequate job proving the word "never" to be quite futile.

I always said I'd never let my child become addicted to a T.V. character.  I also always told myself if it happened, it definitely wouldn't be Dora the Explorer.  We weren't even going to watch Dora.  And yet I now love it when my daughter points at the screen and yells excitedly, "Boots!" or "No swiping!"

I always said I would never have an outdoor cat.  I loved my cats and didn't want them in the dangerous world of streets and snakes and bringing dead birds to my door.  And yet now I've had to tell my husband more than once to toss that bird carcass, tucked in a corner of our porch by our cat, in the trash before our child finds it.

And finally I always said I never wanted a dog.  They're cute when other people have them but I never felt the need to have my own animal wagging their tail waiting for their belly to be rubbed.  And now I have two lovable puppies snuggled up in towels on our back patio (having already polished off one full bowl of Dog Chow).  And they're ours.

They don't have names, yet, but they're still real.  And they're ours.

I own a dog.  I own two dogs.

Sigh.

In case you're wondering, Micaiah is still unsure about this.  She's terrified of being within inches of a puppy, but doesn't mind running back and forth, scribbling on the concrete with her red chalk while the puppies sniff out their new surroundings.  She'll tell you up and down, "I want puppy!" but if you ask if she wants to pet it, she'll shake her head adamantly in the negative direction.

She's a little indecisive - but I think she's going to like it.


01 November 2010

Of Breaking the Rules

After being gone most of the evening, I arrived home only minutes after my big girl had laid down for the night.  I snuggled my little man close before feeding him and realized how much I'd missed his fuzzy head in just a few hours and was sad to have lost the chance for a sweet bedtime hug from my Caiah Bear.  Thus, when she made a sound around 10:15, I went in to give her a kiss and tell her good night. 

This is when she decided to tell me she had to go potty.  Now, I knew it was most likely a ruse because she often does this to get out of doing something else (such as sleeping), but not wanting to call her a liar and force her to pee her pants at any given moment, we tend to give her the benefit of the doubt.  So, she scampered off to climb onto the potty.  When she got there, she, in her sleepy delusional state, whisper-screamed excitedly for Daddy with a goofy grin on her face, pointed out the "horsey" (unicorn), "house" (castle) and "hat" (crown) on her p.j.'s, sang a little and all around had a silly time doing nothing - especially nothing of significance regarding said potty.  But I didn't mind.  I'd missed that silly girl.

And so it was that when she was done in the bathroom I decided to let her cuddle with me on the couch, sharing my tortilla chips, while Philip and I finished a show on Hulu.  It felt like we were breaking the rules, staying up late and munching bedtime snacks, and I love that because I'm the rule-maker, it doesn't even matter.

What wonderful stolen moments.