29 January 2007

My, my--milestones!

I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen--and now it has! For quite some time, Judah has been sort of Army-crawling, on his belly, as if he's wriggling under barbed wire in enemy territory. (Already, he has an active imagination!) But he moves so quickly using this method, he didn't seem to have any inclination to get his belly up off the floor, even when I supported it or lifted him up with his overall straps. Generally speaking, he fussed and whined until I set him back down on the floor, where he'd continue to evade the enemy's snares (Already a theologian!). I have been more than ready for him to start crawling for quite some time now.

I even asked the pediatrician if it was anything to be concerned about. I have heard that there's a link between crawling and reading--that crawling develops the reading part of the brain, so if that crawling milestone isn't met, the child may have difficulty reading down the road. Well, hello--I was an English major (though the grammar and syntax in this blog may suggest otherwise). I will do everything in my power to help my kids love reading, even if it means intensive crawl-training. The pediatrician said that he wasn't familiar with that link (but I swear I've heard it multiple times from several different sources, and I believe it to be true), and said that I shouldn't worry.

Judah is also an adept sitter, but only achieves a seated position with assistance or from a standing position. He has never crawled into a sit, or pushed himself off the ground to sit. Again, I've been trying to teach him this, but to no avail.

But look at those pictures! Last Wednesday was the first time he crawled with his belly off the floor--but it was only about two strides, and he hadn't done it since, until this morning! He crawled enough that I was able to get the camera and take some pictures, and then he finished with his dismount: a reverse half-somersault in the tuck position for a perfectly stuck butt landing! While he was diaper-clad, he was a crawling fiend! When I put clothes on him, I think he found them a bit too slippery to support him, and his knees kept sliding out from under him. Even so, I'm calling it: as of today, Judah is officially a crawler! Yippee!

18 January 2007

Climb Time and Water Wonders

I wanted to give you a couple of snapshots of the kids. This first one is my illustration of the fact that Judah can now climb stairs without any assistance. On this day, I followed him at a small distance taking pictures, just to document it. [My brother bemoans the fact that my parents' picture-taking--or perhaps just picture developing--habits dropped off significantly between their first and second child, so I want to make sure my son won't have the same thing to whine about. :) ] Anyway, I digress. So there I was, snapping away, holding steady as Judah kept advancing. It finally occurred to me that if he should fall, I was too far away to do anything, so I moved closer. About 10 seconds after this picture was taken (and you'll note that he's at the top of the stairs), he looked back over his shoulder, and his body followed. He tumbled down about four stairs before I caught him mid-air and upside-down. He was a little shaken, but otherwise fine, and I was thankful the Holy Spirit had moved me to move closer!

These next two pictures were taken when we went swimming with Yia-Yia and Auntie M. They are a good illustration of the kids' differing responses to water. You'll see that Judah doesn't hold on at all--indeed, he gives the impression that if you'd only let go, he'd swim away. He splashes and laughs and just generally seems to be having the time of his life. I wish we could take him swimming more often, if only to encourage this kind of joy.

Charis, on the other hand, loves water where she can touch the bottom--like in a bathtub or kiddie pool. But get her in water more than 3 feet deep, and she keeps a death-grip on whomever is holding her. If you let her go, I think she'd panic. No, check that--if you let her go, she panics a lot. I suppose she does warm up to the idea somwehat the longer she's in the water, but she's still very timid. I have a feeling that swimming lessons will be very important for her.

It's yet another illustration of how every kid is unique--here we have two kids with the same parents, growing up in the same house, but in regard to water and swimming, they are polar opposites. It's such a joy to see how God has made them to be individuals, and wonderful to be able to encourage their uniqueness. I know that at their tender ages, my kids have only just begun to reveal to us who they are, and that makes me look ahead with anticipation to knowing them more and more fully.

15 January 2007

Literally ogling the goodies

I meant to put these photos on the "Post-Christmas Christmas Post," but lost them for some reason...but I just think Charis is too cute here, greedily eyeing the feast. These are the leftovers from Christmas lunch, set out for people to much on for dinner--not that any of us needed it--and it is amazing to me that there was this much left!
Charis mostly ended up eating bread and grapes, and she paid for it with a doozy of a diaper rash. It actually woke her up that night, and she was crying so hysterically that it woke everyone in the house up (except Judah--go figure). We've figured out now that grapes and grape juice are verboten to her. Poor girl. They're only her favorite food in the world.

11 January 2007


Charis has a cute new habit, though I try not to encourage it... sometimes, she just doesn't want to hear me talk. Either I've said the same thing over and over ("Charis, pick up the blocks. Charis! Blocks, please! Charis! I just stepped on a block!"), or I'm telling her something she doesn't want to hear ("No, you can't have gummy bears for breakfast."). It is at those times that she will look me square in the eye and say in her loudest whisper voice, "SHHHHHHHHHHHH! Brother's SLEEPING!" Even if he's, say, fully awake and sitting on my lap. I'm not sure who she thinks she's fooling...

She has also taken to calling Judah "Bub." As in, "WAKE UP, BUB! WE'RE HOME!"

Judah has discovered he loves eating yogurt. And graham crackers. And pretzels. And cheerios. And shredded mozzarella cheese. And floor lint.

Man, I love those kids. Tonight, I got away for a couple of hours to go see Moriah play volleyball, and the kids stayed home with Abe. While it was nice getting out, and while I sure didn't break the speed limit getting home, it is always amazing to hug your kids after you've been away. That's the best part about being gone--the coming back.

10 January 2007

...And a little Christmas rant to go with it...

I frequently exchange emails with a group of friends from college days, known as The Bank Girls (we lived in what was formerly a bank). When we have a lapse in emails, someone will initiate another string so we can get caught up. This is a copy of an email I sent in response to one of those emails. My friend had asked us all to tell about our favorite memory from this past Christmas, and also a favorite gift we or our kids received...

"hey, all! it has been a while. well, i thought a lot about these questions, and they were actually hard for me to answer right away, which i think is a sign that we haven't developed any super traditions yet, but here is what i came up with:

Favorite Memory: I am divided between two: 1)the evening the week before Christmas when we bundled up and took the kids to a park downtown that is all set up with lights and stuff. There are these candy cane lanes where you can walk underneath arches of giant candy canes, all lit up, and there's a light fountain, and a (close to) life-size manger scene ("Look! God!" Charis said, and proceeded to ride on the sheep, saying "yee haw!"), and then after that, we walked a bit more downtown and then went to our favorite coffee shop for hot chocolate and coffee (for us). My other favorite memory is 2)when we celebrated Christmas, just the four of us, which we didn't get to do until New Year's day. I counted up all the different times we "celebrate" with different parts of the family and the kids open presents, and it came to 6!--6 times they are bringing home more stuff. It's a little bit ridiculous. But for all of the times I watched them open gifts, it was the best and most memorable whan we were at our own home, and I made breakfast quiche and bacon and our traditional Christmas Morning sicky rolls, and we made a big huge mess of paper and toy parts. I liked it best because it was ours.

Favorite gift: I pretty much got one gift (and a few stocking stuffers)from Abe, and it was a DVD-Recorder, and I'm pretty psyched about it. I have for a long time hated our vcr recording quality, so this will be nice. We also got a few "gifts to us--" a great speaker system for our computer, and also a new stereo for our car. I feel incredibly technological. I should also mention that I'd asked for 3x5 recipe cards from Moriah, and she MADE them for me--hand decorated every single one. The best things the kids got...hmm...Judah got a blanket from Abe's sister-in-law Lindsay. One side is flannel, and the other side is fleece, and she hand-binds them with a running blanket stitch. She made one for Charis when she was tiny, and it is Charis' favorite. I was sooo hoping that she'd make one for Judah! You know, they will last forever, and they mean so much more than something purchased. Charis got...a truckload of toys. Nothing fantastically special, I'm afraid, except a bear/blanket thing that my mom made for her to cuddle with. I mean, she made the bear and everything. I wouldn't even know the first place to start. I guess I love those homemade things because most of the other stuff will end up as garage sale fodder at some point, but I know those handmade gifts will be things to cherish. Of the toys the kids got, I'd say my favorites are the ones that aren't battery-operated. :) Blocks, toy trucks, a doll that wets, a doctor kit, puzzles, books...

The more I get into being a parent at Christmas, the more ridiculous the whole thing seems, with the presents. Especially between adults--we did a gift exchange with Abe's immediate family, and decided on a spending limit, and then all pretty much got stuff off of the other people's wish lists. It was definitely cheaper than buying for everybody, but it later struck me: if we all spent the same amount, and didn't actually have to think about getting something meaningful or special, all it means is that we went shopping for each other, which we're all perfectly capable of doing by ourselves. So what does it mean? Why do we do it? Gift cards are the worst--they say, "I have no idea what you want, so you get it...but you can only get it at this one store." It's a half-step away from handing someone a check. Don't get me wrong, I still give gift cards on occasion (and received some pretty handy ones this year), particularly to family members I don't see often and therefore don't know very well, so I am speaking to myself as well.

Here's what I think Christmas should be:

...Traditions of doing things together as a family--memories, not things, are the true treasures of Christmas.
...Giving each other gifts that cost more than money, gifts that cost time and effort and thought--that probably means fewer gifts, but I think that should be okay.
...Getting together with family and just enjoying one another's company, not necessarily centering around the tree celebrating commercialism.
...Enjoying the simple things: baking Christmas treats for people, singing carols, decorating the tree, watching White Christmas or The Grinch or It's Christmas, Charlie Brown...
...Doing for others--caroling, picking out a couple of toys for "Toys for Tots", or picking out coats for "Coats for Kids", or shopping together for a box for Angel Tree. I am hoping some of these things will replace the marathon gift-opening sessions we now have.
...Celebrating the true reason for the season. Our nativity scene is a lovely ceramic set hand-painted for us by a family friend, and it's beautiful and very breakable, so I put it up, and I put it up HIGH, away from little fingers. But I would love to have a plastic one that we could set up as a family, and maybe read the Nativity Story from Luke 2. What if my kids grow up believing that Christmas is about presents? That will be a true shame. I do think we should celebrate Christ all year, but Christmas gives us a chance to focus on His birth, and what that meant for the world, which is what life is all about.

There is is. I'll get off my soapbox now. I want to note that these are things I aspire to--definitely not things we currently do. I just spent a lot of time "doing" Christmas this year, and the fact that it took a while to think about my favorite parts of it made me realize that it was all a blur, and I don't want my kids to have blurry memories of Christmas. I don't want to have blurry memories of my kids' Christmases."

Now, if you read my previous post, you will realize that I didn't think our Christmas(es) were bad--but where we are now, standing at the crossroads of our own childhood traditions and making new ones for our kids, has really put this on my mind a lot. I want my kids to look back and remember the important stuff about Christmas. Several of my Bank friends chimed in with great ideas and their own family traditions--the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set was a recurring one, and I love it--but I always love to hear about others' traditions. If you've got a good one, let me know!

07 January 2007

Post-Christmas Christmas Post

Well, once again, we've done all of the shopping and the decorating and the visiting that the Christmas season entails, and I wanted to jot down a few highlights. . .

First of all, if there was one word I'd use to sum up this season, it would be busy. All tolled, we celebrated Christmas 6 times, with different cross-sections of our families. It is always so nice to see family you haven't seen in a while (in some cases, last Christmas), and the yummy food that usually accompanies the visiting is a nice bonus (even if it does mean our clothes don't fit until February).

This year, our first celebration was on Christmas Eve Eve with Abe's immediate family. That one is always a fun time, mostly because there are four children--Charis, Judah, Gideon, and Elise--to watch and enjoy. Charis (age 2.5) and Gideon (nearly 2) are at the stage where every present is theirs--and even if it isn't, they unwrap it anyway. Judah and Elise don't seem to mind. Pardon me if I think the kids typically enjoy the unwrapping more than the actual present. The first picture above is Charis and Gideon enjoying Uncle Jed's wild ride in Great-Grandma's walker. Charis is a little bit of a drama queen, as you can clearly see. Judah is pulling himself up to stand and cruise along furniture quite a bit these days, so it was particularly fun to be able to let him go and explore. We don't usually have the chance to celebrate with Abe's family so close to Christmas--or on a weekend, for that matter, so it was great to be able to do a Christmas breakfast (complete with the traditional sticky rolls, of course) and spend a long day playing with the kids, watching White Christmas, and making good use of all of our gifts.

A few days later, we headed to my parents' house to celebrate the second and third Christmases with my side of the family. I love this particular picture because c'mon--Judah looks a little bit sauced, Charis looks...um, frightened? surprised? and Grandma just looks happy to see her grandkids. Christmas was very full--breakfast in the morning with Grandma, Grandpa, and Great Aunt Connie, followed by the first (and LARGEST EVER) round of present-opening of the day. Charis and Judah got lots of neat stuff and were, of course, spoiled. With Grandma, Grandpa, and Great Aunt Connie living so far away and getting this yearly opportunity to lavish gifts upon the munchkins, the kids didn't have a fighting chance! Charis had her fill of paper-ripping. But then, it was on to Charis and Judah's Great-Great Aunt Gee's house to visit with my mom's extended family and gorge ourselves on delicious food...and of course, open more presents!

Our fourth Christmas celebration was with Abe's mom's extended family, on New Year's Eve Eve. We gathered at his grandma's assisted living home, in a huge room perfect for the little kids to run around in. There are five kids under six, and a seven- and nine-year-old, so room to run is imperative. We did a sort of potluck with sandwiches and lots of dishes to pass--everyone went home with lots of leftovers, as usual. And again, the kids got lots of presents. Charis' favorite seemed to be a chunky kids' version of a barrel of monkeys--ah, the simple things in life.

In the middle there, we went to a New Year's party with our friends Tim and Tanya and Jake and Julia, and all of their kids, and it was great fun. The kids are actually getting old enough to play with each other, which left time for the adults to play a hilarious game of Balderdash. What a luxury!

(This picture of Judah with a Cheerio stuck to his lip has nothing to do with Christmas, but I just get a kick out of it. If you must know, it was firmly attached with some nose goo, and stayed put for quite some time. He never even seemed to notice...)

The fifth Christmas celebration was no less raucous or gluttonous, but thankfully resulted in fewer gifts for us to find homes for. It was with Abe's dad's extended family. The kids mostly received money or gift cards, so we'll get to decide what to use them on. The highlight of the event was something that has become an annual occurrence--the Great Paper Toss. This involves the adults chucking wads of paper at a ceiling fan set on high. It started last year when my husband casually tossed a crumpled piece of tissue at the fan, and everyone was apparently thrilled with the result (We are a simple people.). Now, it's a new tradition. Some things you just can't make up.

The sixth celebration was--finally--our own. We didn't get to do it until New Year's day, which I hope will not always be the case. Abe went hunting in the morning, but when he returned at about 11:30, we pretended it was the first thing in the morning and had breakfast and opened the presents. The kids are still so little that we haven't really come up with (yet) what will constitute a "traditional" Christmas for us. But I really do think that this was my favorite celebration of all. Not that we don't enjoy celebrating with our extended family; we do. But there's something about sitting in your home, in your pajamas, opening gifts and having fun with your kids...it's just pretty cool.

I know this was not the most entertaining post, and I promise you that I will have more posts soon with funny kid stories, but I knew if I didn't get this down soon, it'd be gone.

I hope your Christmases were a blessing to you as ours was to us!