20 December 2006

Well, we tried...

This past weekend, my parents came to visit. Right before they left, they said, "Hey! Let's get a family picture of you guys in front of the tree! One, two, three, CHEESE!"

"Okay, let's try that again: One, two, three, CHEESE!"

"Well, third time's a charm! One, two, three, CHEESE!"

"Okay! Tough crowd! One, two, three, CHEESE!"

"We'll try again on Christmas."

08 December 2006

Concolor Fir

This is our fam last Sunday afternoon in front of the Christmas tree Abe felled for us.
We went with Yia Yia and Papa and Auntie M and Aunt Beth and Uncle Tim and Gideon and Elise (whew!) on our annual pilgrimage to the tree farm. Yes, those are plastic bags on Charis' feet--she had no boots at the time due to her parents' woeful lack of planning.
That situation has since been remedied.

Here's Charis helping Daddy carry the tree.

...and also plotting a snowball attack.

Here's Judah trying to stay warm (if not exactly fashionable).

...and also curing forever his case of the munchies.

(We still don't know where Charis found that paci.)

Warming the Cockles of My Heart

Last night, we sat at the table for dinner--a rare occurrence in our home, indeed. We instructed Charis to fold her hands and close her eyes so we could pray, and she was definitely not in a cooperative mood. In general, it dawned on me, she is not overly excited to pray, even when I explain to her that it's our chance to talk directly to God. We pray before bed every night, but it's usually me praying while she's arranging blankets or something.

"Why doesn't she like to pray?" I asked Abe anxiously. Perhaps she's already rejecting the faith? At such a young age?

Abe looked at me and said drily, "She's only two."


So tonight, Abe put her to bed with stories and whatnot, but she requested (as she always does in these instances) that I lay down with her after he was done. ("Mommy, bed!") So I did. We hid under the blanket, we sang "Head, Shoulders...", and I got up to leave.

"Mommy, BAY!"

"Bay?" I asked.

"No, BAY!!!"




She nodded. "Yeah, pay." So we prayed. She had us get on our knees, then sit on the pillow together, and she held my arm while we prayed.

And she's only two.

...A Very Good Place to Start

You know when you haven't talked with a friend in such a long time you actually put off calling them because there's just too much to say? You know the phonecall would be easily six or seven hours long before you were all caught up, so you put it off, and put it off, and put it off, until you realize that something's got to give. So you suck it up and call, and hope you cover everything...

That's where I am now.

How can I possibly write down all of the things that have happened in the past couple of months without creating a terrifically long and boring blog? But I must suck it up and begin.

Truth be told, I created this blog mostly for my mom. It's hard being a grandmother living several hundred miles away from your precious grandchildren. After that, I created it as sort of a journal for my kids--so that one day, they will be able to read a bit about their formative years. After that, well, I guess it's just about putting it out there. And whoever wants to read it will, I suppose. And whoever doesn't want to, won't. So this blog promises to be lengthy; I know my mom will read it, and someday, my kids will. As for the rest of you, you're under no obligation. But here goes...


Judah is growing...fast! He is somewhere in the neigborhood of 20 lbs.. To put that in perspective, Charis was 19 lbs. 4 oz. at her 1-year check-up. Judah isn't even 9 months old yet. He's sleeping much better, which is to say that on a normal night, he sleeps from about 9 pm 'til 6 am or so. He has developed the new trick of self-soothing, which was heretofore an unknown concept to him. I am a huge fan. Of course, we still have rough nights occasionally--especially the night we arrived at Andrew and Beth's house. The poor little fella (that is to say, Judah--not Andrew) was so stuffed up, he couldn't breathe through his nose at all--which meant that he really couldn't nurse, and he really couldn't sleep on his tummy, so Judah and I spent the night--most of it awake--sitting on the couch together, dozing on and off. Yes, that night was the roughest.

But as I say, things have improved significantly, probably because his intake of solid foods has SKYROCKETED. I mean, the kid can seriously put down some FOOD. He looks like a little miniature linebacker. Applesauce and oatmeal is his go-to meal--I think he would eat just about as much of it as you'd care to toss down his gullet. Frankly, of the usual meals of peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, bananas, or pears, I don't think there's a thing he doesn't like. He has also begun experimenting with Cheerios and star puffs and the occasional stiff bread crust. His pincer grasp is really coming along, so more and more things are actually making it to his mouth.

As far as physical milestones go, he is light years ahead of my last post in September. He rolls over with great ease now, so no more getting stuck like a turtle in the middle of the night. He's also sitting up--without tipping! Seriously, it is as if one day he woke up and decided to show us his new tricks. He is also creeping--if you can imagine an Army guy crawling under barbed wire, you can picture Judah creeping. He really does get around lightning-fast for a creeper. I'm still trying to persuade him to get his belly up and off the floor, but he is not quite interested.

A couple of things he is interested in are:
1) Swimming. We've taken him to a pool a couple of times, and he kicks and flails so much you'd almost believe that if you let go, he'd swim away. He laughs and splashes and just generally loves it.
2) Ditto for baths. Where Charis has a definite aversion to getting water in her face, Judah seems to enjoy it. Go figure. We very often give them baths together these days--it's just quicker--and Charis likes to dump water on Judah. Good thing he likes it!
3) Charis. He thinks she's quite funny. Last night, the two of them were on the couch hiding under a blanket, and we could hear Judah cackling away.
4)The Johnny Jump-Up. Charis mostly dangled in it when she was a baby, but Judah has springs for legs and actually jumps up in it. It is especially handy when I am trying to clean up in the kitchen--he can bounce while I work. Though, the other day, Charis decided to push Judah as if he were in a swing, which he of course loved...until his head smacked into the door jamb. It was all downhill from there.
5)Power cords. If childhood fascinations are any sort of indication of a future profession, Judah will be an electrician. He is drawn to outlets like a moth to a flame, much to our chagrin. We've actually taught Charis how to tug on his feet to remove him from a dangerous power cord situation, and we have random things strategically placed in front of all outlets to try to discurage his interest, but he has established object permanence, so he still knows they're there.


What a little actress! You never have to guess what Charis is feeling--she shows it at every minute of the day. When she is happy, she is the smilingest little girl you've ever seen. This morning, I caught her standing in front of the Christmas tree gazing at her distorted image in a glass ornament and cracking up. And yesterday, I taught her the "Don't Smile" game: she puts on a grumpy face and I say, "Oh! So grumpy! You'd just better not smile!" And goodness, she tries...but cannot contain it. She practically erupts with laughter. Do this a few dozen times, and she never even makes it to the first grumpy face.

When she's sad, though, you know it. If we reprimand her, she slumps her little shoulders forward and hangs her head--the same expression you might expect from an over-acting mime.

But usually, she's the life of the party. This week, we had the opportunity to get together with an old college friend of mine and her husband, who are home on furlough from Hungary. We went to Panera, and I promise you she visited every single person in the restaurant. At one point, exhausted from the chase, Abe and I were gathering up stuff to leave and getting Judah bundled, and I turned around to see Charis had actually climbed into a booth to visit with a lady. Our shy little girl was standing on the seat, leaning across the table saying "Hi!" when I scooped her up and carried her out to the car.

She has a couple of favorite sayings: one is "Oh, Okay, Mom." That is my favorite. But the other night, Abe and I were both putting her to bed when she must have done or said something hilarious. Abe chuckled and said, "Oh, crap." To which Charis replied, "OH, RAP!!!" He has become a lot more careful lately. But the best thing she says--hands down--is "I love you." The first time I figured out that's what she was saying, she was hugging Judah, and said, "Love you, doo-dah." What a way to melt a mom's heart. "Wuv OO! Mom!"

At bedtime, we usually read two books, but if it is late, we only read one. The other night, though, I told her, "Only one book tonight. It's late."

She shook her head, held out two fingers and said, "No. Two books."

"One book," I said.

She shook her head, grabbed a handful of books and declared emphatically, "TWO!"

She also loves to sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and "My God is so BIG." She can count to ten (most of the time--sometimes it's "seven, eight, seven!"). She now knows hundreds of words. One of my particular favorites is banana--which she refers to as "mynana." She can also finally say Judah, though it has a distinct "doo-dah" quality to it. She also assigns ownership to things, like "My church, mama's car, daddy's truck, mama's house, Yia-Yia's house, Beth's house".

Well, that's all for now. I know there's more, but isn't that the beauty of blogs? And of children?

And once you've talked with your friend, after long last, you hang up the phone and think, Why was I so worried? That was fun.

02 December 2006

Did you miss us?

Well, after much ado, we're back online, and I'm WAAAAYYY behind. We've been without internet since the beginning of October, and it's a long and boring story why it took so long to get connected, but suffice it to say it was the type of situation where they tell you, "Hey...this week. For sure." --and you just roll your eyes and say something like, "I'll believe it when I see it." So I've had to go to the library to do things like, you know, pay bills, and with a 30 minute limit at the local library, not much else gets accomplished. So anyway. Not that you should wait with bated breath, but I do have updates and anecdotes to share about the kids... to come.

A quick tidbit:
On a recent trip, we had the opportunity to stop in at IKEA. Yay for us! Anyway. Charis was in one cart and Judah was in another, and some cute little old ladies approached Judah in a "Oh, how cute!" kind of way. You know, sort of the pinch-the-cheeks kind of approach. Charis, a few feet away, all of the sudden got very serious and pointed both fingers at the ladies and said in her most authoritative voice, punctuating each word with a wag of the fingers: "Don't touch, guys! Guys! Don't touch!" Very protective of her little brother, our little miss muffett.

To come: Why Judah wants to be an electrician and Why Charis had occasion to use the word rap.

28 September 2006

A Little Perspective

Thank you to April, Katie, and Charity; and also to my friend Shea, who didn't comment on the blog but, as a mother of a 7 month old herself, offered a lot of support over the phone; and also to my sister-in-law, Beth, who, as a mother of a 17 month old and a 3 week old is also not sleeping, but who sympathized nonetheless: all of you have been so helpful and most importantly, encouraging.

April, I tried feeding Judah as per your instructions yesterday--I even sent along a jar of baby food with Judah to the church nursery. I also set up the pack n play in our room last night. I am very sad to say that it didn't go well. Believe you me, I wish it had. I had such high hopes when we climbed into bed last night, but Judah was up to his old tricks, and it was another bad night. I have spent the better portion of the day trying not to break into tears out of sheer exhaustion. I made a vow with myself this morning not to do a stitch of housework, and I have stuck to it! It was especially encouraging to have the reminder of how long this lasts--Ruby is such a little girl, in the blink of an eye. It is so good to have you on my side.

Katie, you haven't crossed the mother threshold yet, but you know more than you think. It was good and right and kind of you to offer the glass-half-full perspective; children are a blessing, even at 1, 3, and 6am. I really have no right to complain, given the alternative. If I have to get up and cuddle someone several times a night, it may as well be my beautiful little boy, right? If I could only view it as a God-given opportunity to hold my son, I'd be better off; I know that all too soon, he will be too cool to let me do that anymore, and I will long for him to awaken me at 3 am just to be held and fed.

Charity, I don't even really know you, and yet, from reading your blog and from reading your comments on mine, I feel instinctively that if I lived near you, we'd be friends. Thanks for being the voice of permission to do whatever it takes--I forget sometimes that when the kids change the rules on us, often we must choose to do whatever we can to survive. Even give them Benadryl--the real smile is that you weren't the only one to suggest that! I plan to give the cry-it-out approach another go. It worked well with my Charis (perhaps too well). The complicating factor is the rolling over. If I figure out how to clear that hurdle, I have no problem whatsoever letting Judah go for a while.

Shea, you are so sweet, and so good for telling my own advice back to me, including your own, and also giving me permission to use any means necessary. It is so good to have a sister in Christ alongside me who is fighting the same fight at the same time! I have come to feel very close with you through experiencing pregnancy, birth, and motherhood along the same timetable. Thanks for hashing it out with me so many times you probably think to yourself "ENOUGH ALREADY!" You are a very gracious friend. I look forward to our baby food making day!

And Beth, you are one of my most cherished people in life, and it is just a small bonus that we are also related, so even when you tire of me and my whining, you will still have to be my friend at family functions. As it becomes increasingly difficult to get together for lunch and not make a scene, I increase in joy at the thought of our phone chats. You are a treasure to me--and thank you also for your advice and encouragement.

Last night, after the 2 am feeding, I couldn't get back to sleep. We'd rehearsed and reahearsed one particular song in choir last night, and it in my head. Don't you hate when you've got something stuck there, and you just keep singing it over and over and can't seem to break free of its clutches? Well, last night, I purposed to use it for my advantage, figuring that God had put that song there for a reason, so I should figure out what that reason was. Here are the some of the lyrics to "Sing and Be Not Silent":

He comes with joy to greet the morning
He gives us hope for each new day
Give thanks, remembering His holiness
Give thanks to Him with songs of praise...

Quick: can anyone count how many things in that song are contrary to what I've been doing? Um...all of them. I have never greeted the morning with joy. Lately, I have lost hope for each new day. I grumble about my "hardships" instead of remembering His holiness, and I definitely don't sing songs of praise to Him when I have to wake up...again.

Yes, I am fantastically exhausted today, but I have been truly enjoying my children to my fullest capacity, and thanking God for His blessings. Perhaps today's efforts will result in a solid night of sleep and allow me joy to greet the morning...I certainly hope so.

26 September 2006

I Am Graying Prematurely

Well, I am about to my end. I hardly ever do this, but...I am asking for advice. How on earth can I persuade my precious son to sleep through the night? He HAS done it, at various times, so I know that he is capable. And yet he chooses to torture me. I am turning old before my very eyes. I feel exhausted and decrepit.

Seriously, I do not think he is sleeping enough--every night, he is up 3 or 4 times, and during the day, I am fortunate if he'll nap for longer than an hour, or take more than one nap. I am still hanging in, but by the barest thread.

I do not like to be angry with my infant son, but at 5 am, when he has already been awake twice, anger is the emotion closest at hand. It is hard, in fact, not to take it personally.

In light of these difficulties, I am proposing a contest. You give me your suggestions for better sleep for Judah and/or explain why he is not sleeping well. I will sort through these suggestions and explanations, and if yours ends up solving the problem, you will win a FABULOUS PRIZE! I am not sure what it will be. Maybe a weekend visit from Judah, maybe a few dozen cookies, maybe an '87 Buick. I don't know.

Let me mention some causes I have already considered:
  1. Perhaps it is a growth spurt. I know such things happen at 6 months, and that's where he is. But how long can he...spurt?
  2. Perhaps he is cutting teeth. Of course, he has popped four teeth through in the last month (another reason for the LOOOONNNGG stretch of sleeplessness), so that seems unlikely.
  3. Perhaps he is not eating well during the daytime hours. He eats every three hours or so, and we've also started giving him solid foods once a day, so that also seems unlikely.
  4. Perhaps he needs a crash course (no pun intended) on rolling over. More than once, he has woken himself up by rolling over and then getting stuck like a turtle on its back. He does not like being on his back. And believe me, I try to get him to like it--he just refuses.
  5. Perhaps he just misses my company. The other night, he slept in the Pack'n'Play in our room because Moriah was spending the night, and he slept like a rock until about 4:45 am, when he (of course) rolled over and woke up. I flipped him back over, and he was off to dreamland until about 7 am, when the alarm went off. Did sleeping in such close proximity to me fulfill some sort of need? The desperate part of me chooses to believe so.

That's all. Let the games begin.

20 September 2006

Cutie Charis

A couple of quick anecdotes.
1) The other day, Charis found a bottle of nail polish and brought it to Abe, who was sitting on the couch. "Toes, please?" Charis said. Abe shrugged. "What the heck?" So Abe painted her toenails. And while that's plenty cute, it gets better--Abe was blowing on her toes to speed along the process, and when he would stop, she would nod slightly, as if to say I'll take it from here, and blow on her own toes. It was darn cute.

2)On the same day, I took Charis upstairs to go to bed. Before we could start into our bedtime routine, Charis took the baby doll she was carrying and placed it in the baby cradle. "'Night, baby," she said, and proceeded to cover this tiny baby with a double-size thermal blanket. Then, after she had covered the baby, she cocked her head to the side, looked down at the doll, and said, as if responding to a request, "Book?" She walked over to the bookshelf and picked a small book out, carried it over tothe cradle, took the doll out, and sat it on her lap and proceeded to "read" the story to her. I just sat down on the floor behind her and watched. When she was done, she tucked the baby back in bed, and then Charis and I repeated the procedure all over again.

13 September 2006


Elise Adele
3/4 of the happy family

not elise, but still cute.

The Good Stuff

I have so much to blog, and no time to blog it--which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. But now, I'm so far behind, I have no hope for catching up. So this blog will not be poetic in any way, and probably not particularly well-written, but hopefully it will serve to chronicle for you--and for us--The Good Stuff.

1) Abe's brother got married on Labor Day weekend. Let's see--quiet wedding ceremony, three children under 3...not a good mix. I spent the better portion of the ceremony with the three munchkins, Charis, Gideon, and Judah, as far out of earshot as I could get. It was an outdoor ceremony--what a beautiful and perfect day to get married, and at a historic grain mill, to boot--so it was more than a matter of removing them from the sanctuary, it involved herding them as far away from the festivities as possible. Highlights of the day definitely included dancing with the kids and watching the kids boogie by themselves on the dance floor. If I can find a picture of Charis and Gideon dancing, I will post it--unfortunately, I think we were all laughing too hard to even think of grabbing a camera. But here's a cute picture of Charis and her Dad.

2) This past weekend, we had a potluck for the choir, orchestra, and their families. Not everyone attended, and still, we had over 200 people. It was the standard break down: A-H, bring a main dish;I-P, bring a salad; Q-z, bring a dessert, that sort of thing. Anywho. I brought a Greek Salad, with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and a lemon/garlic/olive oil dressing. Most of which Abe can't stand. On account of the fact that Abe won't touch the stuff, I rarely get a chance to make it, so this was my golden opportunity to enjoy it but not have to eat the whole thing by myself. Well, I got some bad potluck real estate. That is, my salad was at the very end of the salads, right before the desserts, so people had long run out of room on their tiny plates before they got to me. Mine, and the half-dozen salads around me, had more than half of its contents left. So I took it home, and popped it into the fridge. Later on, Charis had disappeared into the kitchen and was being a little bit too quiet, so I went in to investigate. She had the fridge open and had put the salad bowl on the floor in front of it and was gorging herself on Greek Salad. So I grabbed two forks, lay down on the floor next to her, and the two of us proceeded to polish off the rest of the salad. While laying on the floor. In front of the open refrigerator. I think that is one of my favorite Charis and Mommy memories so far.

3) I have a Good Stuff Judah memory to share, but I can't remember what it is right now, so when I do, I will edit this post and put it in place of this disclaimer. In the meantime, he is almost sitting up on his own, and very nearly rolling over from back to tummy, and is also cutting more teeth. AND he is in 6-9 month clothes already, 'cause he's TALL. And in moments of the Din of Toddlerhood, he is my refuge in the storm. Quiet, smiley, and an easy laugher. Great kid! What a blessing.

4) And the biggest news of all: we have a new niece! It was all so sudden! Tim and Beth were almost through all of the steps of the Adoption process. The last thing to do was to create a profile to present to possible birth families to aid them in selection of an adoptive family for their child. Well, crafting the first profile took us forever and a day (and a half) to complete, so were were not particularly looking forward to doing it again, but were ready to start this week. Only, Beth got a call on Friday afternoon that a baby had been born that morning and that they'd been selected to have her--so in the span of a phonecall, Tim and Beth went from parents to one, to parents of TWO. Just like that! Without so much as a profile! Yay! They drove out immediately to meet her, and brought her home the next afternoon. It took a while for them to select a name, as they hadn't even been considering one yet, but yesterday, they landed on Elise Adele. She is a beautiful, healthy baby. She still has that newborn scrawniness, but what she lacks in body fat, she makes up for in cheeks! And hair!

Okay, I've tried to post her picture five times now, and it won't attach, so I'll put some photos on another blog in a minute!

There's a smattering of good stuff for you. Tonight, we start Wednesday Night family stuff--Charis will be in a new class, and Abe will be herding 3rd and 4th graders in the Olympian program. And Judah will be receiveing lots of love from the baby-crazy nursery workers--hey, what's not to love?

24 August 2006

A Taste Sensation

My First Rice Cereal


So, I put Charis down for a nap today, and 20 minutes later, I hear her crying, "Mama! Mama!" Turns out she has taken off her diaper and is stressed that she can't get it back on. Ah, the stress of a two year-old...

Wait 'til she finds out about taxes.

23 August 2006

The Children Speak

This is Judah today.
He is growing by leaps and bounds! He hands out smiles like they're free samples, and he is daily adding new words to his vocabulary. Heretofore, he has only said "Ooaahg," but today, he added "Googah" and "Aack." He delights us more and more every day as we see his effervescent personality emerge. His favorite trick: If you lean in close to his face, Judah will clasp his arms around your head. Pull away, and he flings his arms back, as if in a free fall, and he giggles. His second favorite trick is to roll over in his crib and play with his toes. Of course, then he's stuck, but just the same, the first 3 minutes of this trick is great fun. Sometimes all he wants to do is lay in his crib and giggle. Of course, he only has this opportunity when I lay him down for what I hope will be a nice nap, so I am sometimes frustrated by it, but sometimes, you just have to chuckle. He is!

This is Charis today.

While she is occasionally ta handful for me--i.e., when she takes Judah's pacifier for the umpteenth time and claims it as her own, even though she has not used a paci for months--she is ultimately a joy. Since our camping trip, her vocabulary has skyrocketed: before the trip, I kept a running list of her words as she added them; now, there is no hope for the list. I simply cannot keep up. For example, here are the words she added in the past couple of days--at least some of them: Pig, Boat, Pop, Four, Rock, Duck, Hair, Water, Walk, Hat, Rock...and those are the ones I can remember offhand. I have been growing impatient with her speech development, and would have been more worried about it, except for the fact that she understands everything she hears. I've just been waiting for her to learn the lyrics...

She has also started to speak in increasingly complex sentences. I thought the day would never come! Today, Judah was in the Exersaucer chewing on one of the toys, and Charis brought a blanket over to me and threw it over our heads.
"Are we hiding?" I asked.
"Yeah!" she replied.
"Who are we hiding from?" I followed.
"Baby, Mama!"
"Okay. Let's count: one, two..."
Coincidentally, I think, she continued, "...three, four, whee!" And pulled the blanket off of our heads.

She often says things like, "Read more! " and "More juice, please!" Today, she brought her cup to me and said, "please!" I was trying to engage a stronger sentence, so I asked leadingly, "Juice, please?" and she said, "No--POP!"

When I picked her up from the church nursery on Sunday, I began to carry her down the hall (it's just easier than chasing). "Mama, walk, please!" She begged.
"Charis, if you walk, you must hold Mama's hand. Agreed?"
She pondered this for a moment, then nodded, as if she was striking a bargain. "Yeah."

We were reading a book about Noah's Ark, and everytime she saw the ark, she said "Boat!"
Playfully, I'd say, "No, Charis, that's called an Ark. Can you say Ark?"
She's look me straight in the eye, as if I was trying to pull a fast one on her, and say very seriously, "BOAT."

That's all for today--I'm sure there will be more to come as the days pass!

17 August 2006

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Previously, on "Charis and Judah"... When we left our heroes, Tim and Abe, they were vailantly trying to fix Abe's truck in the parking lot of a truck stop somewhere in Indiana. They had picked up the new hub that they'd had to order the day before, and returned to the truck stop to replace the whole hub (essentially, hub=wheel and all its parts; bearings, etc.) and the brake pads. They had finished the repairs and were about to head home when, on a whim, Abe thought, hey--I'll just check this other hub and make sure that it's okay, too. Big mistake--or, depending on how you look at it, not so much a mistake as pure Providence. It, too, was bad. Very bad. Wheel-randomly-falls-off-while-driving bad. But here's the thing: for one hub to go bad is strange. So strange that the dealer had to order the first one from somewhere else in the state. For TWO hubs to go bad, though...what are the odds? I sure don't know. The nearest available hub was in Indy, an hour and a half drive from the truck stop--and the shop that had it was going to close in 30 minutes. Things looked bleak.

But then, another salesman at the dealership overheard the dilemma, and offered up his daughter's boyfriend as a solution; it turns out he worked 5 minutes away from the shop that had the other hub, and could pick it up before they closed. So this boyfriend picked it up and delivered it to the bar his girlfriend worked at--where Abe and Tim picked it up an hour and a half later. Then they had to drive back to the truck stop and begin the process all over again.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The day had started out ominously. Shortly after the sun came up, Abe woke up and went to take a shower before he departed to fix the truck. Tim did as well. I should point out here that Tim and Beth were the only ones among us in a tent, because the next thing I will tell you is that, shortly after Tim and Abe headed up to the bathhouse, it started pouring. It was raining sheets of water, and the sheets of water were being flung by tempests. It was pouring so hard that they couldn't see the road, which was maybe 25 feet away from the bathhouse. It was pouring so hard that I was scampering to close the many windows on the camper--and indeed, was at the rear of the camper closing the roof vents when I heard a banging on the door.

"Please open the door! Open the door, Please! Hurry! Hurry!" Beth stood outside, clutching a soggy Gideon and herself dripping wet. I opened the door as quickly as I could.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"The tent collapsed!" Beth said. I looked out the window. There was the tent, flattened and being whipped by the gale-force wind. The rain fly had torn off, and the entire contents of the tent--clothes, towels, food, bedding--were drenched. Later, we discovered about two inches of standing water in the bottom of the tent.

The rain cleared for a while, during which the kids all splashed in the mud puddles, but it would only get worse from then on out. The day held rain--lots and lots of it--and very few reprieves. That meant that we all needed to be indoors. In our camper. Four adults and 5 children under the age of 5, in a camper that had seemed huge--but which was getting smaller and smaller by the minute. We would spend the better part of the day in that dumb thing, reading and re-reading every book we had and trying to think of fun things for the kids to do. There aren't that many things to choose from, and we exhausted the list pretty quickly.

It was about 6 pm when Abe called Beth's cell phone. He had both of our phones, and no charger...and both phones were about dead. "Hey," he said. "Wanna hear a funny story?"

"I'm not sure," I replied. "Is it going to cost us more money?"

"Well," Abe said, "We're just going to hop on down to Indy to see Stephanie. We've got to get another hub. We don't have a choice."

At this point, I began to cry. I was so exhausted. All the other parents there could play one-on-one with their kids. But I had two kids, and one of me. And I was not doing well. I sobbed, "I want to go see Stephanie, too!!!" He assured me they'd go as fast as they could, but told me not to wait up. I was despondent. My fatigued mind went into overdrive that night, when everything was quiet and everyone was tucked in bed. I thought about how rough that day had been as essentially a single parent, and it was then that Satan attacked. He filled my head with every possible death scenario. He convinced me that Abe wasn't coming home. I rebuked him several times, and finally fell asleep.

I figured Abe would probably be home by about midnight. So when Judah woke up to be fed at 3:30 am and Abe still wasn't home, I sat down on the bed in a stupor. Suddenly, those scenarios seemed possible, and even probable. I tried to call our cell phones, but they were, of course, dead. Mere minutes later, though, the trucks pulled in, and that's when the floodgates really opened.

Abe and I stayed up to tell each other the stories of our days--which seem a tiny bit humorous now--and then, when we couldn't talk any more, fell asleep.

The rest of the trip was fine, except for the fact that Charis and Gideon would NOT take naps. We got ice cream, we went to the Real Truck challenge on Saturday and Sunday. We laughed. The kids played in the vast field next to our site. We swam in the pool. We gathered around the campfire every night after the kids were in bed and told stories. We even made it home without incident.

Would I do it again?

You'll have to ask me next year...

13 August 2006


I am not sure as I type this if I will get it all out before my face hits the keyboard in exhaustion. If this post ends with a word like dhvadandevuionaeprnvu8ae, you'll know I have fallen asleep at the computer. We've just returned--and I couldn't mean that any more literally--from a 5-day camping trip. Suffice it to say that that holds the record, I think, for Longest Camping Trip Taken By Me. More significantly, it was Judah's first trip, at the tender age of--gasp!--very very nearly 5 months old. Charis' first camping trip was to this same campground for the same event almost precisely two years ago...my, how things change.

This was the first time we weren't tenting it. The last time we camped, last summer, we decided that we would NOT camp in a tent again until our kids were much, much older. Fortunately, some friends of ours from church wanted to unload a HUGE (26' long) travel trailer, and we were in a position to be unloaded upon. After a bit of TLC, we declared her roadworthy, and last Wednesday morning, we set out for The Badlands in Attica, IN, and the (I'm not going to get this right) Real Truck Club Challenge. Camping and a spectator off-roading event. Right up my alley.

We'd been driving for a couple of hours when we began to hear strange sorts of fwapping noises coming from the engine area. After a close listen, Abe decided it was the fan shroud hitting the fan (of course, I said), which apparently isn't a big deal, so we drove on. Then, for some reason or another, Abe stuck his head out of the window. The sound he heard out there was more than a fan shroud--it was a really horrible, I don't know, wubbaskeetch sound, and seemed to merit our attention. Our caravan pulled off at a truck stop, and our guys, every last one of them a grease monkey to some degree,jumped out of the trucks to see what was the matter. It looked like the brakes were shot. This, of course, is a big deal, so my husband and his brother-in-law went to get parts to fix it. While they were gone, the other guy, who we'll call Tim, tinkered with the wheel and determined that the hub needed to be replaced. This is a much, much bigger deal than brakes. Apparently hubs don't often just break, so that part had to be ordered, and would arrive in a nearby town the next day, so we attached our camper to one of the other trucks and proceeded, after a several-hour delay, to our campsite. We set up in the dark and went to bed.

The next morning, Abe and Brother-in-Law (BIL) went back up to the site of the breakdown (about a 2-hour drive), retreived the new hub, and fixed the wheel. While they were at it, they figured they'd put new brake pads on both of the tires. This is when it all went horribly wrong.

MORE TO COME... dfhaudhsfuidhnvduiaowhieuhauiofhvao

05 August 2006

Judah Gallery

As promised, here are some photos of the many faces of Judah....

Here's the "Who, me?" face.

The "Quantum Physics Are For Infants" face...

The "Hapy to Make Your Acquaintance" face...

And finally, the "Just Hangin' Around" face.

We love them all!

In other news, at Judah's 4-month check-up, he weighed in at 16 lbs., 6 oz., putting him in the 75th percentile, and measured 26 1/4" tall, which is in the 90th percentile, and he's as healthy as can be!

What can I say? We're pleased as punch.

New Developments

Three things happened today, all of which change things drastically:

1) Charis figured out how to open a "childproof" medicine bottle (to get at the tasty Pertussis medication)

2) Judah drank 3 oz. of breastmilk from a BOTTLE

And most significantly,

3) Charis started saying "mine"

Life will never be the same...

04 August 2006

A Random Way To Spend a Tuesday

Holy Cow. It has been a busy week for all of us, so this promises to be a very long post... Here we go!

It all started about two weeks ago. Stephanie, one of my oldest and dearest friends, was turning 30, and to celebrate, her sister had arranged for a dozen or so of us to converge on Indianapolis to celebrate. But as it turned out, only one person--besides Steph and her sister--could make it. This, of course, made me very sad, so I called up another friend who lives in Indy, Ellen, and told her I was bringing the kids on Tuesday and we were going to celebrate, doggone it. It turned out that she was already planning to take Steph out to dinner, so it worked out perfectly. Ellen then emailed a bunch of friends, and--presto--we had ourselves a mini-party, scheduled for a Tuesday.

I drove the kids down in the Camry. Sad but true, TheCam has no air conditioning, which only seemed to fuel the fire (no pun intended) of Judah's car seat hatred. Charis also hates the wind in her face, but what can you do? We stopped several times at various retail establishments just to soak up the free climate control and return our core temperatures to a more acceptable level. Let me just say this: Indiana=The Surface of the Sun. It was that hot. It was unreal.

Ellen was gracious enough to allow us to crash at her house. It promised to be a very relaxing and refreshing time, but quickly slipped into a comedy. For the sake of time, I will not go into all of the details, but highlights include vomit, screaming children, small girls chasing one another around and around and around, and six very new bedtime routines. It was a very humorous answer to the question, "What happens when six children under the age of 4 get together for a sleepover?" Priceless.

The other priceless thing was the joy Steph expressed over this birthday surprise. She was truly appreciative. The funniest thing she said about it was, " Wow. This is a random way to spend a Tuesday!" For me, the greatest thing about getting together with my dear friends during the week was that it almost seemed normal. For a couple of hours, I could forget that we are all separated by hudreds of miles and vastly different lives, and pretend that we are all friends who can just chose on a whim to go out for dinner together. Won't heaven be great like that? Except instead of Ellen's, we'll all crash at Jesus' place. That's pretty cool.

Charis, Judah, and I shared a room, which I did not think could be done. We conquered! Charis went to sleep first, then Judah much later, then finally, I slipped into the double bed next to Charis. It was worse than sleeping with my husband--talk about being a Bed Hog! She was all over the place, taking up as much room as a two-year-old can possibly take up. I switched sides of the bed several times throughout the night a) to keep Charis from falling out, and b) so that I could have more than a sliver of mattress. The highlight of the night was when Charis stirred during one of my switches, snuggled up close to me, cradled my face in her hands and said cheerily in her soft, sweet voice, "Hi!" and promptly drifted back to sleep.

The next day, Charis stayed with her new friends while I went for lunch with Steph and Judah. It was great to get out, and wonderful to catch up with my friend. We keep finding things that make us kindred spirits--this time, we discovered we both enjoy most bottled water, except for Evil Evil Yucky Dasani. I always thought I was alone. It was so great just to have that time to chat. Of course, then I returned to Ellen's house to collect Charis, and learned that, while she was well-behaved and sweet, Charis also chose to call my friend "Mommy" and her husband "Daddy" in my absence, so I think I will not have anyone but her Grandmas and Grandpas baby-sit her for a while. I do not want her replacing us so easily!

The trip home on Wednesday went about as well as the trip down, and also included stops at Target and McDonalds, but the hardest part of the trip was thinking that I had to gear up to take another road trip with Judah on Friday--This time to Milwaukee, to visit with another friend, Noelle, and her husband, whom I had only met briefly before.

I highly recommend visiting them, if you're in the market for a vacation! They were gracious hosts and catered to our every whim. Noelle's husband, who is of Middle Eastern descent, made several authentic Middle Eastern dishes for us, whose spellings I will now butcher: hummus, tabbouleh, lebane, and zatter. I did not think we would be up for such things, and I was worried I would have to find ways to make it appear I had eaten lots of it while, in fact, I had dumped it in the potted plants, but that was not neccessary--it was very tasty! As a rule, I am not typically a very adventuresome eater, but I made an exception this weekend, and it paid off. Of course, after the hummus and tabbouleh, we went to Germanfest and had funnel cakes, which I suppse is adventuresome in its own way.

I know this is getting long, but stick with me...

There were other highlights of our trip. The first highlight was actually the initial reason for our visit; as a surprise to Abe, I had applied for Antiques Roadshow tickets, and as a surprise to me, we were chosen to attend. We took up some family silver that turned out to be plated and not worth very much, but to us, that was of little consequence. What a fun experience! Sure, most of the 2.5 hours we were there was spent shuffling through a Millennium Force-type line, but there were lots of antiques to speculate about along the way, and once we were in the filming area, we also spotted the Keno twins, our favorite appraisers. On the way out, we stopped to share some comments in the Feedback Booth, so starting in January of 2007, watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS, and you just might see us (and our cute little boy, who gamely went along for the ride)!

The real highlight for Abe, I think, was Sunday afternoon. Our visit just happened to coincide with HarleyFest at the Milwaukee Mile. Hog heaven. Abe loves to ride motorcycles, but his riding them sends me into fits of panic, and my incessant crying and nagging has induced him to (mostly) give them up, so this experience was a huge treat for him. Noelle's husband is an engineer at Harley/Buell, so he had a little bit of a hook-up, and throughout the course of the day, Abe drove FOUR different bikes, logging a total of 2 or 3 HOURS in the seat. And he came out of it unscathed.

The next day was a long one, but also good. We drove on to visit Beth and her husband, and their one-year-old daughter, whom I had never met. It was wonderful, and I was beginning to feel a little spoiled in the friend department. It was only a few brief hours before we had to depart for home, but they were particularly good ones. Cute kids always make the time fly. Good friends help, too.

We returned home to find that Charis had started to actually say please, instead of "YAY!" during her stay with Yia-Yia and Papa and Auntie M. Drat.

Tuesday was a pretty low-key day, much needed. Because then there was Wednesday. I was scheduled to bring Judah in for his 4-month well-baby appointment, and the pediatrician's office had called to request that we use a secondary entrance so we could skip the waiting room, which was filling up with kids being seen for an outbreak of Whooping Cough. I thought this particular disease had gone the way of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but was happy to comply. Until, that is, I noticed that Charis had a peculiar sort of cough. So, being a hypochindriac by proxy, I looked Whooping Cough (or Pertussis) up on the internet, and listened to sound files of Pertussis coughs, which sounded conspicuously like my daughter. To make a long story short, we are apparently having a bit of a Pertussis epidemic in this area, so rather than test her, they immediately started treatment on her. And Judah. And me. And Abe. And we were instructed by the Department of Health to keep the kids at home until their course of treatment was over.

BUT, literally hours after I returned from the doctor's office, my mom called.
"Got any plans tonight?" she asked.
"None," I replied.
"How would you like some company?" she asked.
I was so excited. "When can you get here?"
"Look in your driveway..."

So now it is Friday. My mom left today. We had two fantastic days of just hanging out with the kids, spending time chatting, fixing dinner together. She read books to her granddaughter and cradled her grandson. She enabled me to finally clean the bathroom upstairs and vacuum the kids' rooms and the hallway. It, too, felt a lot like normal, and, to paraphrase, was a "random way to spend a Wednesday."

I feel completely spoiled. I have had such a wonderful time visiting with these people whom I rarely see, but whose company I enjoy so much... I worried that next week would feel like a let-down.

Until I remembered we're leaving Wednesday to go camping with two other families that we really like.

Here we go!

22 July 2006

Cooking Up Trouble

Well, the other day, I was out of the house for a while, and upon my return, Charis brought me this...

Yes, it's a box of Bisquick. Ordinarily, I would simply explain to Charis that this wasn't a box of something to eat, but rather it was something to be cooked, but lately, Charis has been wanting to help more and more in the kitchen. I figured, what the heck? I'm game. So I got out a mixing bowl and wooden spoon, and we dug in.

Before long, and with just a tiny bit of help from me, she had a hunk of dough to work with. I showed her how to flour the countertop and the dough to prepare to roll it out. She LOVED sprinkling the flour.

Soon, she was rolling the dough like a pro. We had no need for biscuits, so I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to do with this, until I thought of cinnamon rolls. So we improvised!

Charis helped measure out the sugar after I measured out the butter and cinnamon, and she spread it out on the dough.

Charis continued to dump sugar EVERYWHERE, and then took the water I brought over to seal the edges and dumped it on the rolls, but other than that, the rolling and cutting went fairly smoothly.

Here's the final product! It was...ahem...a little more work having Charis help me, and due to Charis' fascination with measuring cups and spoons and her need to use all of them, it was, well, a LOT more clean-up, but it was fun.

And since I can't very well give Charis so much press without mentioning my little man, here are a couple of tidbits about him:

First of all, he is becoming more and more smily, but I just can't get the camera to capture it quickly enough, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Secondly, I think he's in a growth spurt. He wants to eat every 2.5 hours or so, and he is not (to say the least) sleeping through the night. He'd better turn out to be TALL for all of this...

And lastly, he has started enjoying the Johnny Jump-Up a bit lately. This post apparently won't take any more pictures, though I can't imagine why, so I will post some photos of Judah--in the Jump-Up and otherwise-- in a later post!

17 July 2006

Finding the Right Track

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but our neck has been HOT. I mean, muggy, oppressive, steamy hot--the kind of hot you usually see in movies about the deep south, where everything seems sticky and alligators lurk in the mist. THAT hot. So we've been swimming a bit lately--last week, Charis, Judah, and I went to the pool with Yia Yia and Auntie M, and Aunt Beth and Gideon, and yesterday, we went to a nearby lake with Uncle Tim, Aunt Beth, and Gideon, and our friends Tim and Tanya and Katie and Travis.

Now, Charis is generally a fan of water. She is thrilled to take a bath; she makes a beeline for her kiddie pool every time we exit the house, regardless of the fact that she may have both clothes and shoes on. She just loves it--that is, unless her feet can't touch bottom. So when we were in the pool, for the most part, she clung to us like a magnet to a refrigerator. Ditto for the lake. She was just fine walking around in areas where the water was up to her tush, but get her much further than that, and she was a little tiny bit on the terrified side.

JUDAH, on the other hand, seems destined to be a fish. He kicked his little legs and pumped his fists the whole time he was in the pool, almost willing himself to swim. If I weren't such a skittish person, I would have tried to let him slip below the surface--I've heard that infants naturally hold their breath, and I've always wondered if that was true. But because I am not entirely willing for my kids to be guinea pigs in my own little experiments, I refrained. He seemed equally as pleased to be in the lake. It's fun to see their different personalities and likes and dislikes shine through, even at such tender ages. I know that, even months from now, I'll look back on this and think, that was NOTHING.

It's all one big learning experience, isn't it?

A couple of days ago, and, to be honest, even now, I hit it. I stumbled into one of those moments where I think I should just chuck it all and go back to work and let some more competent people raise my children. I mean, I know every mother feels like this from time to time, and I guess this was my moment. I just felt like the laziest, least qualified, most unmotivated lump of a mother. I questioned God's wisdom in granting me children. I couldn't tell you what precipitated this feeling, but I know that I fell right into its snare, clutching my list of faults: I let Charis watch too much TV, she doesn't have a balanced diet, I don't stimulate her brain enough, I am boring and unimaginative and lack creativity and energy, I am not spiritual enough...and on and on and on. Here's the thing: I do genuinely try to be a good mother...most of the time. But sometimes, I feel like I can't gear myself up for another day of trying to shape my kiddies into model citizens. On those days, I give in quite easily when Charis asks to watch her Pooh dvd, I aquiesce when she pleads for candy or her pacifier or (gasp!) a can of pop, I make up my own words to her books so the story ends sooner, I entreat her to play with her toys (rather than color pictures with her). I set Judah down for oh, sooo many naps, I let him linger underneath the play gym as long as he will stand it... On those days, I feel awful. I feel like my kids have been shortchanged. They deserve better, I think.

What's the answer? I am sure that I paint a much bleaker picture than is actually true. I was relieved today when, talking on the phone with my sister-in-law, she said, "I don't know what's wrong with me. I think I'm just really lazy." I know I am talking myself off the ledge here, so bear with me, but doesn't every mother feel like an utter failure occasionally? Doesn't every mother want to crawl in a hole sometimes, and wait until her kids are older--much, much older--to resurface? I want my kids to have and be everything--I want their clothes to be beautiful and spotless, I want them to have all the educational and imaginative toys they can stand, I want their minds to be sharp, I want them to excel at everything they try, I want them to be strong Christian leaders, I want them to be kind, helpful, respectful people. I want to have someone else teach them all of that, because some days, I don't have the first clue how to do any of it.

A friend of mine seems to know how to do it. She has some significant parenting challenges--challenges that would do me in--and she handles them with such beauty and grace. It is always inspiring to me. She takes her boys on treasure hunts around the neighborhood to seek out valuables such as pinecones and rocks. Who thinks of that? She learns how better to parent them and meet their cognitive, physical, and emotional needs. Who has that kind of energy? She is so godly, and handles each roadblock with such wisdom. Who has that kind of faith? Some days, I wish I could be just like her. But more than enything else she's said or done, one thing she said has really stuck with me--she said that, in the midst of some very difficult days, she has to remember that her first job as a parent is to prepare her kids for eternity.
"God has placed this gentle reminder on my heart: my first job as a Christian mother is to prepare my children for eternity. This life on earth is gone in a blink of an eye compared to eternity. Even if [my son] never catches up and is never like his peers (and possibly [his brother] too), I am still able to teach them about God's everlasting love and the gift of salvation that can be theirs. No matter what their future on earth holds, I know that if they accept Christ as their savior and spend eternity in heaven, they will be made perfect and whole. God never promised that parenthood would not have its share of heartaches and burdens (children who get caught up in drugs and alcohol, children who reject Christ, children who die untimely deaths, etc). I know that God has a wonderful plan for each of my children."

Doesn't that put it in perspective?

Charis may never be a swimmer. She may never go Ivy League. She may develop an imaginary friend named Pooh to compensate for the shortcomings of her boring mother. Judah may never love to read. He might not find a cure for cancer. He might fake sleep so he doesn't have to endure another session of "Who's That Baby In The Mirror?" because his mom can't think of anything better to do. But. If I do my job right, and focus on showing my kids NOT what a fantastic mother I am, but what a wonderful Savior they have--a Savior who loves them so much, He gave his own life so that they could live, a Savior who is unconcerned with the amount of flashcards they can do in a minute, but who knows their hearts and wants them to come and live with Him forever--then I am not a complete failure after all.

I am not entirely sure how to go about this, either, but I suppose prayer has a lot to do with it. I know God will give me what I need when I need it (and often not a second earlier). I believe that He sent His Son to bridge the gap between a fallen and sinful world and His outstretched arms, and I want my children to know it.

I suppose that love has a lot to do with it too. Charis may never be able to list all the presidents in order (I can't), and Judah may never feel comfortable with the inner workings of a transmission (I'm not), but if I love them as an extension of the Savior, I guess I'm right on track.

01 July 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

Top Things We've Actually Called Our Children Instead of Using Their Given Names:

Chubs (these first two were used in her infancy)
Baby Girl

Ju-Baby (Charis coined this one when she decided, mid-word, she couldn't say Judah)
Bubba Gump
Judah Judah Bo Budah

I hope we don't scar them for life.

29 June 2006

It Was the Best of Days, It Was the Worst of Days

I turned 30 yesterday. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about that. Right now, I feel tired--but that's proabably because Judah was up twice last night--once at two, and once at four. I suspect he's going through a growth spurt, since, up until a few nights ago, he was sleeping through the night without a problem! Hopefully, he will grow quickly, and go back to his former sleep patterns.

Anyway. Back to 30. The day started out like any other day. Judah got up, then I did, then Charis. Breakfast and Judah's morning nap proceeded normally. Then Beth called, to see if she and Gideon could take me out to lunch to celebrate my birthday. It sounded like a good idea, so at about 12:15, I packed up the kids and headed out of the door for one of the lunchtime cafes we like. The sky that morning had been clear, but was now beginning to look ominous, and just minutes into the drive, it began to pour. Pour. It was raining so heavily, I considered stopping and waiting it out, but I pressed on. Great timing, I thought.

Of course, when I arrived at the restaurant, all of the front spots were taken. There was just one spot left--located at the furthest point away from the entrance one could imagine. So I parked, loaded Judah up into the front pack, covered him with a blanket, and ran around to get Charis out of her seat. Carrying both of the children (no easy task), I ran towards the door. We were, needless to say, a little damp when we got inside the very crowded restaurant.

We were seated, and Beth and I put the kids on the outside of the table so as to keep them from playing with the sugar packets, table tent, salt and pepper shakers... She then gave the kids some matchbox cars to play with, which they proceeded to "drive" off of the table, say, two or three dozen times. We decided to switch the kids to the inside. It would be a hassle to switch them, we knew, but it would ultimately make less of a scene, and less work for the waitress, who was continually picking up crashed cars from the walkway.

The transition went okay, except that by this time, Charis had already had enough of the booster seat. I gave her some ice water in her cup--without the top, no less--to appease her and to cease the ruckus she was making. I know it seems a little foolish to give a two-year-old a cup with no lid, but I thought, what could happen? She'll get a little water on herself. No big deal. What I didn't bargain for, though, was that the tantrum would continue, and she would pretty much throw her cup across the table at Beth--soaking the table, Beth, and the floor. Again, a hapless waitress came to our rescue and mopped up the mess with towels. They were far more absorbent than the beverage napkins I was using.

I was feeling frazzled at this point, and Beth was feeling soggy, but then our food arrived, and I thought food would make it all better--a nice diversion for the kids, and some tasty refueling for us--but it just went downhill from there.

Charis wanted no part of the little dish of food I set aside for her--she wanted to play in my food. And it was just that--playing. The precious angel hadn't the slightest inclination towards eating.

But that wasn't even the worst of it. Remember Judah, the easy, tantrum-free babe tucked peacefully in my front pack? He was apparently conjuring up a little scene of his own. Or, should I say, conjuring down--because right about then, when I had just about had it with the whole joyful experience, I felt some warmth spread over my thigh. I reached down to see how far the wetness had spread, and found, to my dismay, that it wasn't merely wet, it was...gloopy. Judah had created his own little mess, a large, bright yellow, smeary mess all across my tan linen pants. I stood up, grabbed the diaper bag, and scampered off to the restroom, where, of course, there was no baby changing facility, and the roomy handicapped stall was locked, so I crowded us into the small stall, crouched down on the floor, and spread out a blanket to do a mini-bath for Judah and a little scrub-a-dub-dub for me, too. Gross. I opened up the blanket, tucked it into the waist of my pants to disguise the disgusting mess, and returned to the table.

Check, please. And some to-go boxes for our uneaten lunches.

It goes without saying that two things happened immediately upon our return home: 1)The kids went down for naps, and 2)I did a serious load of laundry.

Then I cried a little, and watched a movie. I just couldn't take it any more. Happy Birthday to me.

But Abe came home, and it got better. He brought me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers I have ever seen in my life. I also received a lovely flower delivery from my Aunt Connie, a box of books and candy from my parents (great combo), a soldering iron and stand from my brother and sister-in-law, and when it was all quiet, I listened to the many messages left for me on my voice mail of birthday well-wishers. The kids slept until about 6, then we went to one of my favorite places, a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place called Nina's. Charis was cooperative and spent most of her time stuffing her face with mexican rice, and Judah sat quietly in his carseat (!!!) We went home, did a little bit of yard work, I talked with my parents and my friend Tiff, and then we watched another movie. It staarted out horrendously, but the big 3-0 ended up being a (mostly) peaceful and enjoyable day.

I'll process how I feel about 30 later.

26 June 2006


...is Charis' new word. A couple of times, when we've finished praying, I've thought that was what I was hearing, but it was confirmed for me today, as we were reading a book called Prayers for Little Hearts. Each page is a short prayer, reflecting scripture, and they all end with, "In Jesus' name, Amen." And after each Amen, she'd repeat it--"May-mem"--with my precise cadence. It was too cute.

And speaking of Amen, it's official--our remodel will wait for next year. I had an absence of peace about the whole issue; every time I'd consider it or begin to plan it in my mind, I'd hear or read something--a sermon, a book, an article, a conversation--that would make me hesitate about the addition. With all that was involved--siding the whole house, pouring a foundation, re-roofing--we were going to have to borrow a lot. I wrestled with that reality.
We heard another sermon about Debt when we were visiting at my parents' church, and that sealed it for me. I really felt that the Holy Spirit was pulling us away from the loan and the construction, until next year at the earliest. I presented the idea to Abe, and I think he was feeling similarly. Decision made. So now, we're in savings overdrive! I set up a special account for it, so a portion of each check goes directly into that account, and doesn't get eaten up by anything else. In light of the fact that everything that we have is God's, I think He wanted us to know that we weren't planning to be the best stewards of His gifts. Already, having heeded His moving, our finances are falling into place much more smoothly. It's truly an answer to prayer.

24 June 2006

Sibling Revelry

This week, we took a mini-vacation. When I say mini, I mean it--we drove over to the greater Detroit area Wednesday night, and returned Thursday night. Why? you ask. Seems there's a new IKEA over there, and I was eager to do a little damage. We traveled with Tim and Beth, and Judah (of course), and left Gideon and Charis with Yia Yia and Papa and Auntie M. It was a WONDERFUL trip. Viva la Retail Therapy! We shopped from 10 am until 6 pm. Beth and I were practically giddy. We had a very tasty (albeit noisy, thanks to the Red Hat Ladies, who can apparently get pretty raucous when they want to) dinner at Buca di Beppo, toured a very old, very interesting graveyard, and returned home.

Judah continues to loathe his carseat. We went through this with Charis, but this little guy gets himself so worked up that he sweats up a storm, throwing off some serious BTUs. Sometimes, his poor little stomach gets so churned up that his urp reflex goes into overdrive. It is so sad to witness. It always makes us feel so helpless. When we traveled to see my parents and family and friends last weekend, Judah wailed practically the whole way there. Amazingly, Charis was unfazed. We, however, were very very fazed. The return trip went a little better, though it still had its moments. The last hour of the ride, though, was wonderful. Judah's little toes were getting a bit chilly, even though he was sweating, so I covered him up with a car blanket, and he soon drifted off to sleep, and remained so, even after we removed him from the car. You'd be tired, too, if you had just cried for three hours straight. Fast forward to our trip home from IKEA, when Judah was putting on a stellar performance of vocal pyrotechnics. The din was amazing. We tried everything we could to soothe him, but he wasn't hungry, his diaper was dry, he didn't want my finger or a pacifier...we were at a loss. Until, that is, I thought, hey--covering him up with a blanket worked last time...let's try that again. The only trouble was that we didn't have a blanket on hand. I mentioned to Abe that perhaps we could pull over and get a shirt or something from our luggage to cover him up. I guess Abe was feeling a little frazzled, because he didn't wait to pull over to get a shirt--he pulled his right off, and tucked it around Judah. Within seconds, Judah was asleep. It was wild. I told him he can always tell Judah that he loves him so much, he'd give him the shirt off his back. Apparently, being tucked in makes him feel a lot more secure. Who knew? I wish we would have figured that out last weekend.

Anyway...it was post-midnight on Thursday when Charis was finally tucked into her bed, so she went more than a whole DAY without seeing her Baby Bubba. So, Friday morning, when I brought her down from her bedroom, she ran to the couch where I had lain Judah, laughing, saying, "BABY! BABY!!!!" She scampered up onto the couch and proceeded to try to carry Judah off. She giggled and giggled. It was like opening a present on Christmas morning.

And in other news...
I've been wanting to transfer Charis to her Big Girl Bed for some time now, but every time I ask her if she wants to try it out, she shakes her head and says no. Well, I've been renewed in my quest for the switch through emails with the Bank Girls, so I figured it was time to try again, only this time, I didn't ask Charis. I just did it. I kissed her goodnight after our bedtime routine, pulled the covers up, kissed her again, said, "Sleep Tight! I love you!" and slipped out of the room. I waited and waited, just knowing that I'd her her little feet padding around upstairs...but there was only silence. At one point, I heard her singing to herself, so I thought she must be getting into trouble...but no, she was still lying in bed, just singing herself to sleep. She was still in bed when I went up to get her in the morning. We tried again come naptime, and we were every bit as successful, and then tonight, she went to bed again without incident! I was expecting a much larger hassle, and perhaps that is still to come, but for now, she has successfully made the transition! Maybe in a week or two, we can move Judah out of his pack'n'play and into an honest-to-goodness crib...

20 June 2006

The Terrific Twos

Well, we knew it would happen eventually. Charis had to turn two sometime. I don't know that we were prepared for it to happen so fast! As it happens, the big day was last Friday. I honor of her birthday, I thought I'd recap some of my favorite things about Charis for this blog.

10. I love that she crosses her second toe and big toe when she's bored, just like her dad. It's a little creepy when her dad does it, but on her, it's cute.

9. I love that she likes to sleep late. Extra rest for mom!

8. I love that she loves fruit almost as much as any kid would love candy. It's an okay problem to have to safeguard the grapes so she doesn't eat too many.

7. I love that she's kind to our animals. Sure, Radley scampers when she hears the pitter patter of toddler feet and cries of "Meow! Meow!" behind her, but Charis is generally very gentle and kind to Radley and Muirne. She thinks they're very funny.

6. I love the look of delight on her face when she sees something she likes a lot--Winnie the Pooh, her pets, her dad returning home from work...

5. I love that she is NOT shy! She is a little wary of strangers, but once they get the seal of approval from mom or dad, then they become her new best friend. She is very quick to hug (which is always accompanied by "Awwwww..."), and is a huge ham!

4. I love that she enjoys her bedtime routine. We read a book or two, sing "Bushel and a Peck," and "May the Lord Bless You," and we play "The Bumblebee Came Out of the Barn." We snuggle in bed together, and if I skip anything, she reminds me!

3. I love how much she loves to be outside. It isn't easy for us to go out very often lately because of Judah's naps, but I know a suggestion to go out will always be met with approval.

2. I love her beautiful smile and kind disposition. She is such a (generally) good-natured child. I love coloring and reading books with her, because both of those things bring a smile to her face. I love picking her up from the nursery at church and hearing the workers say, "She's a delight!" She really is.

1. I love her because she is uniquely Charis. She is my favorite Charis in the whole world. I love getting her out of bed in the morning, I love cuddling with her when she's still waking up, I love how often she says "Mom!" I love how often she wants to give her brother kisses and hugs. I love it when she wants to help me make dinner. I love how she sticks black olives on all of her fingers before she will eat them. I love how hard she laughs when we tickle her. I love that she is my daughter--what a blessing!

09 June 2006

Mother Load

Well, being a mother of two sure is interesting. I have spent the better part of the past two days rearranging all sorts of stuff in order to make our house a little more organized and family-friendly. I split up the toys (infant/toddler) and moved the infant toys to Judah's room-to-be. Then, I cleared out two collapsible bookshelves, one from the dining room and one from Charis' room, and took them both to Judah's room to hold the toys and infant books. Then, I lugged a massive (for weakling me) bookcase (non-collapsible; though it did make me want to collapse) up to Charis' room for her books and toys, and hauled a matching one into the dining room for my books, which have not seen the light of day for a loooong time. I put a toybox in the living room and switched the computer desk and the secretary, and finally, I switched two of our living room lamps so they'd be the same height. Abe noticed nothing...except the lamps. :)

Today was errand day, and also bath day. Judah's bath was uneventful, barring the terrified look on his face when his little tush slipped on the bottom of the tub and thereby submerged his chin. Charis' bath was a little more interesting. Her tub time is naturally a lot less hands-on, as she can entertain herself quite well. She generally dislikes being shampooed ("Look at the ceiling, Charis. No, the ceiling!!! Sorry..."), but other than that, to her, baths are great fun. She sticks her foam letters to the tub, whips the water with a bathtub whisk, and colors on the tub with her bath crayons. While she was sudsing today, I stepped out of the bathroom to retreive a box of books (for my newly-placed shelves) from our "attic" space. It is literally five feet away, and the box was right inside the door, and I was conversing with Charis the whole time, lest anyone think I was endangering my child. No lectures, please. Anyway, I returned a few seconds later to find that she had pulled a whole roll of toilet paper into the tub with her. Any guess what happens to a roll of toilet paper when it hits water? It disintegrates into thousands and thousands of tiny tiny tissue paper wisps that are nearly impossible to catch. I had to go to the kitchen for a wire-mesh strainer to sieve out the paper clouds before I could drain the tub. Always an adventure.

So far, Charis is still crib-bound. We've attempted the switch for the last few nights, but she is still apprehensive about it. I have decided not to force the issue, since she is not yet two (she still has seven days) and Judah is still fine sleeping in the pack'n'play (though not at this very moment) and it is kind of nice having her contained, since I can't hear what goes on up there when our AC unit is on. I anticipate that will change soon, however, since we will officially have central air as of tomorrow morning. I will make no comment about the fact that my heating and cooloing husband has waited more more than two years to install this feature in our house. :) I will instead say that with the advent of central air, Judah will officially move into his new room, and I will probably work harder to get Charis out of her crib (which I have stopped calling "your bed" and have started calling "the crib" to help her get detached).

Sadly, I think it is probably not too far down the road, though, that we will switch back temporarily, as we build an addition onto our house. That's right. This will likely (though not in all certainty) be the Summer of Construction. Slated is the demolition of the current back porch, pouring a new foundation (and possibly full basement) for the addition, and building on a structure that will extend 13 feet from the natural back of the house. Incidentally, this would mean that Judah's room would grow by a whopping 13 feet, as well. Hopefully, I will be getting new kitchen cabinets as part of the deal, and we'll be getting a full main-floor bath, along with new siding and a new roof. If we decide to attempt this, it will be MASSIVE. I will keep you posted!

Well, I was hoping Judah would drift off while I was composing this, but it does not appear likely at this point, so I will sign off for today! Thanks for keeping up with us!