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!