28 December 2007

And Now He Has Lost His Superhuman Strength

This is a picture of Judah from Christmas Day. For some time now, we have been debating what to do with Judah's hair; we love it long because it's so darn cute, but at the same time, the poor kid was constantly in danger of having his eyes stabbed out by his wayward bangs. Abe dreamed of Judah having long, curly locks, and he loved the way Judah's hair peeked out from underneath his winter hat (which he loves to wear all the time), but the reality was shaping up to be quite different from the dream. Judah's hair is incredibly fine, and with every trim I gave in an attempt to stave off the mullet look, I cut off more and more of his baby curl until it was all gone. The long, curly locks we hoped for were more like overgrown and straggly.

We've also gotten the "my, your two girls are adorable" line one too many times, and there is one particular male relative whose name I won't mention here, but whose initials are Grandpa Nichols, who makes comments every time we see him about how we need to cut our son's hair because he looks like a girl. Our response to all of these comments has always been something to the effect of "phooey on you, go suck an egg," but we finally realized that, girl cut or not, Judah's hair was no longer practical and was getting a wee bit out of control. So this morning, we did this:

I did the deed myself with a pair of clippers. I used the longest guide (an 8!!!), hoping to leave some of the length intact so Judah could retain some of that long-haired cuteness, but it quickly became apparent that I should have used a 15. 8 cut it as short as you see here.

I think it goes without saying that I sobbed. I felt as if my little guy had vanished, and in his place was this--this BOY. And I am not prepared for my baby to be a BOY.

He was covered in hair, so we ran him up to the bathroom, stripped him down, and gave him a bath. With his hair squeaky clean and all of the missed spots apparent, I was able to then trim with the scissors around the ears and at the nape and complete the cut. Here's the after, though it's not a particularly great picture, and I think I did trim up a few tiny spots after I took it, but you get the idea:

I still think he's about the most handsome little boy that ever walked the face of the earth, but this will certainly be an adjustment for me. He doesn't seem to mind or care about the change--in fact, he's probably grateful that his eyes are not getting poked out anymore. He'll probably wear his hat even more often now that he doesn't have all that hair for insulation, but his hair won't peek out from the bottom, sadly.

I saved some of the hair in a baggie. I can't imagine what I'm going to do with it, or how long I will keep it, but I'm just not ready to let it go just yet!

27 December 2007

It's a Christmas Miracle!

After months and months of wondering when it would happen . . . it finally has.

Charis is (mostly) potty trained.

I was starting to worry. I was also starting to think that Judah would be potty trained before his sister was. But we made the switch to Big Girl Underwear--for better or for worse, we decided--and let nature take its course. We used a reward system of stickers and suckers for attempts and successes, respectively. She had a few accidents at the beginning, but now, we are accident-free! In fact, on Christmas Day, Charis had nary a diaper on all day (we usually diaper her for naps and bed), and not once did we even have to ask, "Are you still dry?" or, "Do you need to use the potty?" She took care of it all by herself. Both functions, if you know what I mean.

As she's 3.5 years old, this has been a long time in the coming. It has mostly been a struggle of pride for me; I felt sheepish and ill-suited for motherhood because my child wasn't potty trained and many many kids her age are. But finally, I came to this realization: Who cares? So I ditched the pride and let her do it on her own time. She is a first-born perfectionist (somewhat like her mother) who does not like to do anything unless she can do it well. She did that with walking; in the morning, she was crawling, then she took a nap, woke up, and decided she was ready to walk. She did it with talking; I thought she'd never speak actual words, until one day, she thought it was time to make sentences. I figured that it would be the same with potty training. She is a very capable, motivated learner--she's just NOT motivated by pressure from others, namely her mother. I knew that when the time came, she would run away from the diaper quickly on her own, but that if I pushed it, potty training was likely a battle we'd be fighting for a long time. In the end, it turns out I was right. (I got lucky on that one, believe you me.)

I still put her in a diaper for naps, although it is not unusual for her to run out during her nap to use the potty, even though she is diapered. And we still diaper her at night. I'm not sure how much longer we'll have to do that, but I'm okay with it for now!

I know this is way more interesting to me than to anyone else out there, but in the interest of chronicling Charis' developments, I thought I should record it!

24 December 2007

The Meaning of Christmas

My friend posted a bit on her blog about how fed up she is with the whole "Happy Holidays" phenomenon; namely, how Americans have, in the name of political correctness, sanitized Christmas and taken its meaning away, leaving us with little but Santa and lots of shiny things. Christmas isn't just a holiday. It's a celebration of the event that changed our world: Christ becoming present and human, providing us with the ultimate payment for the sin that separates us from God the Father.

Glory! What a gift.

My hope is that our kids will grow up knowing Christmas isn't just about presents, trees, decorations and food. I pray that they will understand why we celebrate the birth of one particular baby born to a humble couple in a stable long, long ago. I pray that you, too, will be filled with wonder this Christmas season; not because of the lights or cookies or concerts, but because of the baby Savior that came into this world so that you could have a relationship with God and know His true love and peace.

Have a blessed Christmas, friends.

23 December 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Ick

*Side note (sorry if it's too early for one of those): I had to type that title three times, because my fingers keep wanting to type Charistmas. Force of habit.

We here at the CJ household have contracted the ick, and it is running through our family like the bulls through Pamplona. It all started with Judah, who one evening late last week, after having been asleep for two hours, woke himself up when he involuntarily tossed his cookies. And also everything he'd eaten in the previous 8 hours. He repeated this process twice, which meant that much sheet changing and laundry ensued.

A day later, I found myself feeling...funny. No tossing took place, through careful administration of ginger ale and saltines, but I did spent almost twelve hours immobile on the couch hoping for the world to stop spinning, already. I would have taken Pepto or something, except that I'm pregnant, and can't take much of anything at all. So phooey on that.

Next in line was Charis, who, on the same day I was like a mummy on the couch, told me that her tummy hurt. She was not kidding. In the aftermath of her ickiness, I hustled the kids up to the bathtub and waited for Abe to get home so he could clean up after us. Let me tell you, that guy is handy to have around, especially when you're still in your first trimester of pregnancy and so a touch sick most of the time, and also feeling flu-ish.

The only drawback to Abe's helpfulness is that last night, after we returned home from the Christmas program at Abe's parents' house, Abe declared, "I don't feel so good." He took the Pepto I had wanted to take and fell asleep on the couch until 2:30 this morning, when he stumbled to bed. Around the same time, my dear daughter woke up and announced that her tummy hurt again. Abe happened to be on hand for her first appearance and put her back in bed. A few minutes later, she popped out again, and I gave her water and put her back in bed. A few minutes after that, she stood at the top of the stairs crying and complaining about her tummy, so we let her come down and sleep with us. (But I've learned to first retreive a bucket to keep handy, just in case.) It was a long, long night, but we made it. We're home from church this morning trying to contain our ick a little better, hoping to regain health before Christmas.

All that to say that one of these days, when things are no longer chaotic/pathogenic and icky, I will get back to posting on a regular basis. But if I don't get a chance to say it in a few days,

Have a Blessed Christmas!

18 December 2007

I'm Back! (Sort Of)

Okay. Sorry to leave you with such a vague explanation ("I'm taking a break...'cause.") So here's a more thorough explanation about why I decided to take a little blog break:

1) Judah almost had lead poisoning. When we took him in for routine lead testing, his level came back as 9.1. I don't know what that means, but it is much higher than the normal level of 2.4. So of course, we were ordered to go back to the lab for a different, more accurate blood test to see what the deal really was. That test came back with a level of 2.4. Normal. So the first test was obviously a) flawed, and b) intended to give me heart palpitations.

2) Abe got laid off. This is particularly hard (since we are a single-income family) and emotional, so it has required a bit of adjustment to Christmas lists and shopping and other expenditures, as you might imagine. It's a temporary lay-off, and he'll be back to work when there are projects for him to work on, but unfortunately, this is a very slow time in his trade. In the meantime, he's working on the house and getting underfoot. :)

3) We had to take Charis to the doctor because she had blood in her stool. I don't have any further elaboration on this, and everything seems to be fine, so apparently it was just a fluke, but given that items 1 and 2 happened within a day of this pleasant experience, you can understand our concern.

4) I was knee-deep in preparations and practices for our annual Christmas concert at church. It's a big deal for us, with three performances, and this year I wrote the script and had a duet, and it was the first year we've memorized ALL of the music, so I was particularly nerve-wracked in the days leading up to the concert. But it all went very well, I'm happy to report.

5) Aunt Connie was coming to visit, so I was cleaning. She arrived last Friday and left today. We had a great visit with her! She is a very pleasant and easygoing house guest.

and last, but most importantly:

6) I am pregnant!

So of course, the raging hormones inside me magnified the importance of all of the above items.

I am just now coming up on 12 weeks, the end of my first trimester, and I am gradually feeling less sick and less tired. I have been quite queasy with this one--more so than in either of my first two pregnancies--and more tired, but obviously more busy, since I spend most of my time chasing two small ones. You know, when I was pregnant with Charis, I was exhausted all the time, but looking back, I think I was just a pansy. What the heck did I have to be tired about? Now parenting two kids under 3 AND being pregnant--that merits actual fatigue.

(I have also been afflicted with serious pregnancy brain-rot, so forgive this discombobulated post. Sentences are difficult for me to form these days.)

We are getting excited about this one, but the excitement wasn't immediate. The timing of this baby wasn't our idea, but is only a reminder that God doesn't care what our ideas are--He just cares about His perfect timing and all of that. Knowing God has only our best interest in mind helps us feel confident that everything will work out as He intends!

Also aiding in the increased excitement is the fact that we just learned that some friends of ours are also expecting--and their due date is about 3 weeks away from ours. That in itself is cool enough, but consider this: they also have two children, whose ages are identical to the ages of our two. In fact, a mere 6 weeks separate the birthdays of both sets of children. God apparently has something in mind for our families in timing our children so close together, since we obviously didn't plan to have the same child-bearing schedule.

There you have it. I will try, in the upcoming days, to post more, but unfortunately, since I am making a lot of the gifts this year, that may not be feasible within the time I have available to me. But Thank you for hanging on and checking in! I hope to be chatting with you again soon!

06 December 2007

Prayer, Please

Hey, all. I'm taking a few days off before I get back into the story of our southern vacation. We've got a lot of stuff going on in our lives right now, and I'm afraid that anything I'd write wouldn't be much good anyway. If you could keep us in your prayers as we try to sort through some stuff (sorry for being vague), I'd greatly appreciate it.

03 December 2007

Southern Vacation, Part II

So there we were, no longer in the cool north, but in the oh-so-pleasantly-warm south. We'd dressed warmly for the drive; the kids were both in warm pajamas, and I was in workout pants, a long-sleeve t, and a sweatshirt. Sorry, Abe, I don't remember what you were wearing, but I'm sure you looked awesome in it, whatever it was. Anyway, when we stepped out of the car and into 80-degree weather, it was a surprise. A lovely surprise. The kind of surprise you could really use when you're writing a recap of your trip and it's snowy and 30 degrees out, hypothetically speaking.

Another lovely surprise was seeing Steve and Katie's home, which we've never seen in person. But the best surprise of all was meeting a sweet little guy named Levi who was so excited to see us that he slept through all of the introductions. I will try not to hold it against him, since he is, in fact, but a month old, but I'm just saying, Levi: you're going to have a hard time remembering your favorite aunt and uncle and cousins if you're going to sleep through the actual meeting process, and also because you really have no capacity for memory yet. So there.

As I mentioned, it was not long before we all needed to crash. We all chose a soft spot to land, and snuggled in for a much-needed rest.

Hours later, Steve got home from work, and we re-lived the arrival excitement. I have not seen my brother and his wife since they visited us after Judah's birth 20-some months ago, so it was wonderful just to be in the same room with them. We speak most often via Nextel 2-way or IM, so it was a complete novelty not to have wait for the pauses in conversation. Though I did want to pepper my speech with "brb" and "lol" and "L8R"s.

It stands to reason that, since we haven't seen them in person in almost two years, they haven't seen us. Not such a big deal with Abe and me, because we mostly look the same; we've gained a few pounds, Abe shaved his head, and I acquired a nose ring, but everything else is the same. But the KIDS. They are very different. For one thing, Judah weighs more than 8 pounds. And Charis can actually pronounce the word "blanket." Steve and Katie say that they feel well caught-up on the kids' growth, but it's quite another thing to have a conversation with tiny people you mostly see in pictures.

So beyond becoming reacquainted with each other, there were no huge activities that first night. We may have played Catch Phrase, but then, we did that quite a few times during our visit, so maybe not. The next day was when the real excitement started: a visit to a playground leads directly to our first glimpse at the inside of an ambulance.

to be continued . . .

02 December 2007

Southern Vacation, Part I

Well, my goodness, it has been a long time, hasn't it? Sorry 'bout that. But I have good reason for being delinquent in my blog entries: we were on vacation.

Did my brother and sister-in-law, at whose house we were staying, have internet access? Yeah. Could I have updated the blog while we were away? I suppose so. But I didn't. The side effect is that I have fodder for several posts which I will space out over the next couple of days so you don't have to commit two hours of your time to reading the narrative of our vacation. So here we go: installment 1.

Our kids are not strangers to road trips; they make the 4-hour trip to my parents' house with ease, and on a fairly regular basis. They are 4-hour-road-trip PROS. This trip, though, was a lot longer than 4 hours. It shaped up to be more like 14. Yikes. Understandably, I think, we were hesitant to make the trip during the daytime, anticipating that such a move would lengthen the already dauntingly-lengthed trip unnecessarily due to the inclusion of frequent stops for breaks. So we opted to make the drive at night, during the kids' sleeping hours. Easy peasy lemon squeezie.

The night before, I stayed up freakishly late (4:30 am) in an attempt to adjust my sleep schedule. I sent the kids to Yia-Yia's house the next day, hoping to get several hours of sleep to prime me for driving the first nighttime shift. The plan was that I'd start driving, Abe would sleep, then when I got tired, Abe would wake and take the wheel, and I would sleep. The plan was also that the kids would sleep for the duration of the whole trip.

Are we fools, or what?

Because there was so much to do in preparation for our trip, I worked all day, napping only for 1 hour--1 HOUR--before the big show got underway. I was even more exhausted than I would have been if I hadn't made the elaborate sleep-adjustment plan, so Abe started driving. The kids didn't fall right to sleep as we'd hoped; they stayed up until 11 pm. Thank goodness for the portable DVD player we borrowed. I tried (in vain) to sleep while Abe started driving, and when he finally tired at 1 am and asked me to drive, I had no choice. So, even though I had only slept 5 hours in the last 36, I got behind the wheel and drove the 1-5 am shift. It actually wasn't that bad; I was amazed.

At 5 am, we stopped to switch. I was getting tired, but there was a good chance we'd all stay awake--especially since the kids were up--for good. Yep. Great night's sleep, kids! 11 pm-5 am--just like normal! Or . . . not.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast, taking our sweet time before we strapped back in to the Camry, and then pressed on to our destination.

All things considered, the drive down really wasn't that bad. We were a bit tired, yes, but that afternoon, we all took naps and felt somewhat recovered. Then began the whirlwind events of the week...

to be continued......