28 August 2008


I have good news and bad news. First, the good news: my usb cord arrived today, at about noon. Yay! The bad news? At about 11:50, I found my old usb cord, thus rendering the new one totally superfluous and unnecessary. So now I've got two, and should never have a time when I'm without. At any rate, the very good news is that I've dumped lots of pictures from my camera onto my computer (AND onto kodakgallery.com, just to be safe) and will continue to do so, so you won't have to suffer through quite so many word-heavy posts in the future.

I would show you all of them right now, but it has been a busy, busy day, and I've got about 30 pounds of peaches to freeze and turn into jam, so I've got a full night ahead of me. Soto whet your appetite, I'll leave you with one new-ish picture of each of the kids. Enjoy!

This is Charis at an extended family member's lake house. I loved the rustic, aged quality of those steps juxtaposed with the beauty and youth of my daughter. Now, if only I could stop her from making faces when she's getting her picture taken...

This is little man Judah in one of his two favorite hats, working on some bubbles. He's so serious!
This picture was also taken at the lake house.

This photo is new--just taken on Sunday in the picnic area above one of our favorite Lake Michigan beaches. Ruby was borrowing her cousin's hat. I know I may be slightly biased, being her mother and all, but I'm pretty sure that Ruby is the cutest baby in existence.

So that's all for now! But I promise I'll have more to come--and soon! Unless I misplace both of my usb cords, in which case I might have some sort of memory-loss issue.

27 August 2008

Oh, USB cord, Where Art Thou?

I'm still waiting on my usb cord. Sherrie seems like she's getting a bit antsy for a new post, so I thought I'd give her one.

A couple of days ago, my computer was running really slowly. I mean, the thing is ancient in computer years, so it's not ever lightning-fast, but on this day, its speed approximated that of slugs or my husband when I ask him to take out the trash. In an effort to thwart whatever was holding my RAMs back, I re-started my computer. Only, as proof that it was possible for the computer to move more slowly than it had been, it wouldn't restart. Not at all. Not only that, it was piping hot like a fresh dinner roll, if dinner rolls were made of metallic gray plastic. I pressed the power button over and over, like you do when you're waiting for an elevator, but with each press, the result was the same: not a darn thing happened.

I can live without the internet. I've done it for months at a time. I can go to the library to pay bills, though I don't like to do it. And I can go a couple of days without checking my email . . . I think. I can even do without Facebook. And I'm sure about that last one, because I still don't totally get the allure. But one thing I cannot do without is pictures of my kids, and unfortunately, many many pictures of my children exist solely on my computer. I know this is irresponsible--they should be backed up somewhere, like on an external hard drive or something. But the fact of the matter is that, on this computer-crashing day, they were not. So I panicked.

Immediately, what had been an okay day turned ugly. I was so sad to think about all of the beautiful images that were lost, and angry with myself for not protecting them as I should have. I moved my computer to the dining room table and left it to sit, hoping it would resurrect itself after a nice rest in a cool spot. I have this theory about electronics, that they need naps just like we do. Whenever they start acting up and being naughty, it's a sure sign, to me, that they need a few moments alone. I'm a big fan of giving electronics moments alone, so I walked away from Mr. Backstabbing Computer and went off to sulk and pretend the crisis had never happened.

When Abe came home that afternoon, I was visibly upset. Actually, he had called before coming home, and could hear the distress in my voice. "Are you okay?" He asked.
"Rough day," I panned.
He paused knowingly. "Oh," he said. "The kids?"
I sighed. "Actually, no. The kids are fine." Oh, my kids, my precious kids, whose childhoods I'd just erased because I was stupid. "We'll talk about it when you get home."

Only, here's the thing: by the time Abe got home, the computer was as cool as a metallic gray cucumber. I had, after all, given the machine a nice naptime--was it possible that it might start up now? I pressed the power button and waited. Miraculously, my beast of a laptop sprang to life! I was overjoyed. I immediately opened my photo software, and there were the smiling faces of my children. Ah, bliss. And sweet relief.

My next thought as that I had no idea how much longer my computer might hang on before it left me for good, so right away, I began uploading my precious photos to the internet--not the most trustworthy place for them, I know, but better than nothing. I am still in the process of uploading, because I have approximately twelve million pictures, but the process has nonetheless begun. And here are a few things I would have lost if the computer thing hadn't turned out so well:

Charis, 3 months

Charis, 10 months

Judah, 2 days

Judah, 10 months

Two of my beautiful children

Aren't those good ones?

Now. I have more than a hundred pictures sitting on my camera, waiting to be uploaded. When that blasted usb gets here, I will put those photos onto my computer. And then, I will save those precious images somewhere else, too, because this whole computer scare was enough to teach me a lesson about taking the time to protect the things that are valuable.

I'll be back soon with current photos!

23 August 2008

An Oodah by any other name

Judah will now say Charis, if pressed. It has a very "care-us" quality to it, but it is funny to hear it coming out of his mouth so fully formed after months and months of saying Oodah when referring to his older sister! The other thing we love to hear him say is the word pepperoni. It is so small and so perfect, as if he has known how to say it since the womb, but has been saving it for a special occasion.

My new usb cord arrives this week, so prepare to be inundated with kiddie pictures!

14 August 2008

Charis' Story

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The Most Timely Gift

Ruby is growing to be an actual human, which quite took me by surprise. She has been a really easy baby, so I don't have complaints, but for the first several weeks of her life, she was very lump-ish. Our favorite babysitter, Shelby, watched the kids last night for the last time before she leaves us for college (kids and their wayward priorities), and she asked me at what point babies really start to show personality. Thinking back to Ruby's lumpiness, I was tempted to tell her it took a year, but the reality is that any mother searching for the sparks inside her baby's head will tell you that the first glimpses of personality accompany the First Smile.

I remember Charis' First Smile very vividly: at two months, she was of course not sleeping very well, and I was, as a first-time mom, wondering what's in it for me? I mean, what with all the spitting up and poopy diapers and leakiness and lack of sleep and NO REAL ACTIVITY OF INTEREST WHATSOEVER from my little one, I was wondering what, exactly, the payoff was. But we went camping sometime in that second month, and one night ventured into town for pizza. Abe was holding Charis in a standing position on the table, and she was looking across at me, and all of the sudden, there was the payoff: a real, honest-to-goodness, with-her-eyes-and-everything smile. Sure, she'd had those little, gassy, involuntary smiles, but they hadn't really meant anything. This smile was ON PURPOSE. And she gave it to me in a Pizza Hut in Attica, Indiana.

Fast forward to the present. This past Sunday was a really weird, difficult, confusing and sad day. I was dealing with some Self issues and some family issues that had come to a head, and I spent the better part of an impromptu drive over to Ikea crying it out, asking Abe to make sense of it for me. When we arrived, Ikea was busy and crowded and we didn't end up buying anything all that fun, and I was pretty much feeling like the day was a total bust and that it had been a very disappointing end to a weekend I had really really been looking forward to. The day didn't seem like it could be redeemed.

But then, bada-bing, The Payoff.

I had just fed Ruby and was gazing into her smoky blue eyes, trying to find a bit of happiness in her innocence and unconditional mommy attachment. We had carried her around in the front pack all day and she had mostly slept a very lumpy baby sleep, oblivious to the world around her. But there, in the front seat of the van, in the parking lot of Ikea, after a disappointing and teary day, Ruby gave me the most fantastic gift: her First Smile. A real, honest-to-goodness, with-her-eyes-and-everything smile.

A miraculous thing happened: for a little while, I forgot about my shortcomings and those pesky family struggles and remembered to breathe in those gifty moments of life, the moments that surely God provides when we most need them. I laughed with my children, because there may come a day when laughing together won't be as easy as it is now, and I laughed with my husband, because he is good for putting up with me. And I rode the rest of the way home sitting next to Ruby, watching for another beam of light. She didn't give another one then, but that's okay. She had saved the day with her gift, improved my state of mind, and become a little bit more like a real human all in one fell swoop. Things were definitely looking up.

07 August 2008

And He Has, Hasn't He?

It's 2:51 am as I sit down to type this, and I'm doing so not so much because I feel SO SO compelled to write its contents, but because I was just awoken by the most unsettling dream (and some itchy feet, for some reason), and I cannot go back to sleep until I get the disturbing images of the bear in our house (Yes. A bear. In our HOUSE.) out of my head. I fully realize that tomorrow, when I read this post in full coherence, I will find it absurd that this dream kept me up--it was a friendly bear, apparently, because after it wandered into our yard, it had come into the house, hopped up on the kids' bed with them, and was letting them pet it like a dog--but there you have it. The bear dream was too much for me.

So now I'm here, listening to the calming hum of the fan and squinting against the glare of the computer screen, and I want to tell you about the most marvelous illustration of God's forgiveness that I saw today. It really struck me when it happened, and I knew at the time it was destined for Ye Olde Neglected Blog, I just had no idea I'd be giving it words so soon.

The napping arrangement in our house finds Judah upstairs in the kids' bedroom and Charis downstairs on our bed. We tried having them nap in the same room with each other, but it did not go well. At all. So Charis is in our bed for naps, and for the most part, this works out well. The downside is that, at age four, she has come to the point where she really doesn't need naps everyday (even though I really need her to nap for my sanity's sake), so naptime is very frequently a battle to try to get her to stay in bed. The rule is that she is not required to sleep, but she does need to stay in bed for a rest. Some days, she actually falls asleep. But on some days, like today, she is up a lot, claiming a need to use the potty (I'm afraid to call her bluff on that one) or claiming a need to "tell me something," or just up in our room playing in the curtains or in the closet, where she inevitably dumps the single-sock basket. Again, let me reiterate that while she doesn't have an absolute need for a nap on a daily basis, it is essential to the preservation of my sanity, and when naptime is a struggle, my sanity creeps away from me.

Today was one of those lost-sanity naptimes.

Charis had come out THREE times to use the potty, and one time to get another book to look at, and another time, she burst out of the door, waking poor Ruby with her excited yelps about the lost shoe she just found. I deduced that if she had found a shoe, she was most certainly out of bed. So I told her to go back into the room, which she did, and lay down, which she didn't. Minutes later, I stuck my head in the door, hoping to find that she had decided to obey, but was dismayed to find her in the closet and single socks scattered all over the room. She had also removed the pillowcases from our pillows, and had filled them with books and the eye-relief rice pack that is off-limits to her. To say that I was incensed would be putting it mildly. My sanity flew out the window, and I flew into a rage. I was so angry she had flouted the rules so repeatedly. I yelled and I yelled, I threw socks back into the closet, I flung books, and I scared my daughter. She cried. "Mommy, mommy, I'm so SORRY," she sobbed. I yelled something about her being SO NAUGHTY and stormed out of the room to the kitchen, where the Holy Spirit immediately gripped my heart. I prayed and prayed for God to forgive me for yelling at Charis in such a way, but He made it clear to me that I needed to go to her first. I nearly started sobbing myself for the conviction of it.

I went back into the room, and Charis, assuming that I was still out of control with fury, started crying at the sight of me. It broke my heart into a thousand little pieces. Like a small child myself, I crawled into bed with her, wrapped her in my arms, and repented. "Charis," I said, "I need to ask you to forgive me. I was angry, but I wasn't the right kind of angry, and I am so sorry for yelling at you like that."

"Mommy, I'm so so SORRY for getting out of bed!"

"I forgive you, baby girl. Will you forgive me for yelling at you like that?"

"Yes, mama, but will you lay down with me for a minute?" And I did. I laid with her for several minutes, in fact, until both of us had calmed down. And then I begged her not to get up again--which she didn't--and left the room.

Later that evening, we were tucking the kids into bed. I bent down low over Charis' bed and hugged her. "Charis, will you please forgive me for being so angry today?" I asked.

Charis looked at me as if I was crazy. "Mommy, I already DID!"

I am nearly in tears as I write this (though, thankfully, that dumb bear dream is gone for good), because if that isn't the perfect image of God's forgiveness, I don't know what is. So often, I beat myself up about a stumble or a shortcoming, or worse, my direct disobedience, and I beg forgiveness from God over and over, somehow thinking that He hasn't granted it yet. Like the incident with Charis, I carry those horrible images of my failures and faults around with me and they play on a more or less continuous loop, and I am convinced that I am the worst parent/friend/Christian there ever was, totally unworthy of forgiveness.

But when I ask for the umpteenth time, here's the truth: He has already forgiven. Can't you just picture Him saying, "I already DID!"? I usually can't. But today, when my sweet girl forgave me for being such a mess of a mother, I did. I saw that His Son's blood has paid for my sins, once for all, so that when I ask forgiveness, it is granted. Covered. Wiped away.

I can't say that I'm thankful to have lost my temper so completely today. But I can say that I am thankful that my daughter was able to be the mature adult that I was incapable of being, and in the process teach me a lot about God.

02 August 2008

I'm Sure He Understands

We sat down for some mac'n'cheese today, and the exchange went something like this:

Judah: PRAY!
Me: Yes, Judah. Let's pray. Dear Lord, thank y--
Charis: No, Mom! I want to pray! Thank you for this food, and--
J: A-MEN!!!!
C: No, Judah. Not yet. Thank you for this food, and thank you for this--
C: No, Judah, you have to be quiet. Thank you for this food, and thank you for this day.
J: AMEN!!!

Judah likes to be in charge of the praying around here, but he's got some stiff competition in Charis. Time will tell where Ruby falls in the mix.