Sunday, December 31, 2006

Whirlwind week

Saturday, Dec. 23rd - drove to Northern CA where my family lives.

Sunday, Dec. 24th - church service, then time spent in the hospital with my mom.

Monday, Dec. 25th - We brought Christmas to the hospital - even complete with a Christmas tree! We opened presents at the hospital, decorated Mom's room, and even brought in Christmas dinner. It was a rather unusual way of celebrating, but I actually really enjoyed it. It was good to be able to bring Christmas to Mom, since she couldn't be home.

Tuesday, Dec. 26th - Sarah tried on her wedding dress for the first time since $400 worth of alterations in Massachusetts. Panic ensued, as the dress didn't fit AT ALL. Sarah and I spent the day finding a seamstress who could help, then ordering a cake and trying to find someone who could do flowers on seriously short notice! We did find the most wonderful seamstresses ever! They were Russian or Ukranian, we think, and our encounter with them sounded something like this:

"russianrussianrussianrussianrussianrussianrussian-not good!-russianrussianrussian-darts?-russianrussianrussianrussian-not good, because you have breasts!!!-russianrussianrussianrussianrussianrussian-we fix; come back tomorrow at four"

It really was rather funny. :) They did speak English as well, and were able to explain to us pretty thoroughly what they could do. I was impressed at their ability, and thankfully they came through and delivered a beautifully fitting dress by Thursday morning!

Wednesday, Dec. 27th - Jonathan and I spent the morning out and about, shopping for supplies for Sarah's wedding and sweaters for Mom and I to wear to the wedding. Nothing went as planned, and we barely made it home in the afternoon in time to clean up and get ready for the Skinners (Sarah's about-to-be in-laws) who were coming over for dinner. Thankfully, I have two wonderful brothers who also came home in time to help clean and cook. I think it would have been pretty disastrous if they hadn't been around to help - adrenaline can only carry you so far when you're eight months pregnant, and I had been seriously pushing the limits!

Thursday, Dec. 28th - Sarah's wedding day!! More errands in the morning - dress shoes and socks and a tie for Christopher, slips for Mom and I (did you know that Penneys doesn't carry slips?! Ack, neither did I!!!) supplies for the punch at the reception - then down to the hospital just in time to mix up the punch with Uncle Gary's help and change into my dress for the wedding.

The wedding was just amazing. The hospital staff just bent over backward to make it wonderful for Sarah - one of the hospital administrators even did her hair for her!! The wedding itself was held in a little garden, the reception was in a conference room, and they opened up a boardroom and brought in a full-length mirror so Sarah could get dressed elsewhere than a bathroom (which was what she had been expecting to do!) We had forgotten to get extra flowers to put on the cake, so someone found burgandy tipped carnations in the hospital gift shop and sprinkled the petals over the cake. There was just so much excitement and goodwill and true caring from the hospital staff - it was wonderful.

Sarah and Nathan's pastor flew out from Massachusetts to marry them. A trio of musicians volunteered to play (including Sarah's very first violin teacher - how cool is that?) Nearly fifty people attended, even on such short notice! An artistic friend from Mom and Dad's church took care of decorating everything, and she did a beautiful job. It certainly wasn't the wedding that Sarah and Nathan had planned...but it was lovely and (I thought) about as perfect as you could have under the circumstances.

Mom looked absolutely lovely. We had bought her a really pretty dusty pink skirt and top a few months ago when she was still down in the Sutter Roseville hospital, in the hopes that it could work as a mother of the bride dress. And it sure did! She wore it with a cute black hat and a dark purple/burgandy shawl that a friend had crocheted for her - it really looked good. I thought it was funny that after all the stress of "what to wear to the wedding", and "should both mothers try to match" and everything...in the end they did match (completely by accident!) and in complementary colors to those that Sarah had chosen for her decorations. Even my dress ended up being burgandy, which is what she had chosen for her bridesmaid's dresses!

Jonathan did carry in the rings - although Gabe had to carry in Jonathan! It was really cute, though - he handed the pillow off to Sarah without fussing about relinquishing it at all. :)

In a way, I'm selfishly glad for how it turned out. I wasn't going to be able to go to her wedding, being too pregnant to fly across the country. So it was honestly nice to be able to be there and be part of it, even though the circumstances that made it so are sad. I got to be a stand-in bridesmaid, in a way - fix her train, hold her bouquet - and I had been really sad that I couldn't do that for her in Pennsylvania.

There were a couple of news crews there, videotaping the wedding. The hospital had asked if they could have a journalist there...and somehow that turned into a journalist and three tv crews. :) Sarah and Nathan handled it really really well, though. One of the camera journalists was incredibly nice. He actually stayed in the background like he was supposed to, and during the reception he pulled me aside and asked permission (again - he had already gotten hospital permission) to use some of the footage of Mom in his story. I said that it was ok if they were GOOD pictures - and that the earlier footage would probably be better since by the reception she was getting very tired. He assured me that he would only use flattering pictures, and that he would make the story as tasteful and beautiful as he could. I was so impressed with him - I walked away from speaking with him actually convinced that he did care about respecting us in that way, and that he would do a nice job. You can see the result for yourself here...isn't it beautifully done?? :)

Friday, December 29th - I did a mountain of laundry (and by mountain, I really mean mountain!!) and deep cleaned the refrigerator so Dad and Christopher would be able to know what food was available. When mom isn't there using up leftovers and keeping track of such things, interesting science experiments develop in the back of the fridge! My brother and I cleaned up the house again, this time because Jonathan's fiance's parents were going to come over. Little Jonathan went down for a nap in the early afternoon, and completely by accident, so did I. :) I guess you can only burn midnight oil for so long before it catches up with you! So our visit with Mom ended up being in the evening over dinner instead of in the afternoon. Then back home to go through bills and medical paperwork with Dad, and make and eat apple crisp at Christopher's request.

Saturday, December 30th - Breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa to give them one more chance to see all of us and enjoy little Jonathan. Then one more visit to the hospital to see Mom. It was hard to leave, knowing that I can't come back for probably at least two months. I've been close with Mom since I've been married, and while I wished we could visit more often, it didn't bother me too much that I did most of my catching up with her over the phone. Somehow having her in the hospital, and not really able to talk on the phone, has made it much more difficult for me to deal with how far away from her I am. I think this is probably extra difficult, too, since I was planning to have her be with me when Thomas is born, and obviously that won't be happening now. It is strange to think that next time I see her, I'll have a newborn baby on the outside, instead of inside!

And now we're home, having done the drive in two days this time. I'm glad - 8th month pregnancy is not a nice time to do cross-country driving. Besides, Thomas seems to have chosen a very low and not quite ideal position to hang out in right now, which is causing some pretty intense pelvic pain. Not the nicest thing for driving long distances in the car!!

We got home around 2pm today and my wonderful husband let me go straight to bed while he watched Jonathan. Isn't he nice? :) AND he took Jonathan to video games with the guys so that I could keep resting. Hence the time to write this very long post. ;)

And now to bed! No midnight partying for this girl!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cute things my son has been doing lately...

Saying "bess-you!" whenever anyone sneezes or coughs. He also says it to himself when he sneezes or coughs.

Running around the room, wooden airplane held over his head, making airplane noises. I don't think anyone showed him how to do this - he just decided it would be fun!

Spinning in circles just because. He giggles while doing it and then gets so dizzy he can't walk in a straight line, and often falls over.

Advent activities are probably mostly over for this year, since we'll be leaving very early tomorrow to drive up north to my parents' house for Christmas. We'll be there for about a week, since we're staying for my sister's first (of two!) weddings. So this is probably my last post for awhile, unless Jonathan does something just too cute to keep to myself. :)

So enjoy the rest of Advent, and an early "Merry Christmas" to you all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Recipes - enjoy!

Devil's Food Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
(from allrecipes.com)

2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. butter
1 package (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
2 c. peanut butter chips (I used a combination of pb chips and choc. chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the eggs, vanilla, and shortening with 1/2 of the cake mix until light and fluffy (it should change to a lighter color as more air is beaten in). Mix in the remaining cake mix and the peanut butter chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfulls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 11 minutes in preheated oven. REmove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.


Spiced Nuts
(from Pam Moothart)

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cream of tarter
1 t. vanilla
1 lb. walnut halves or pieces

Combine all except nuts in large saucepan. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, bring ingredients to boil over high heat. Continue boiling over high heat until firm ball stage (250 degrees) is reached (at least 5 minutes). Turn heat to simmer and stir in nuts. Stir until mixture sugars all the nuts. Turn onto a flat surface covered with wax paper and separate the nuts with the spoon. Let cool completely.

A note on this one: If you get impatient and don't let the sugar syrup get all the way to 250 degrees, it won't work quite right and your nuts will be sticky instead of sugared.

Peanut Brittle
(from allrecipes.com)
This isn't my favorite peanut brittle, but it is a good second best. My favorite recipe isn't mine, so sadly I can't share it right now.

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 c. salted peanuts
1 t. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda

Butter a cookie sheet. Combine sugar and corn syrup and cook until soft ball stage (or a little more) is reached. Stir in peanuts and cook to 300 degrees (hard crack). Remove from heat and immediately add butter and vanilla; stir. Then stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin. Cool completely, then break into pieces.

Cranberry Oat Cookies
(from allrecipes.com)

2/3 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. vanilla or white chocolate chips

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Combine the dry ingredients; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

18th day of Advent

We have had such a lovely morning. I so enjoy baking!

These are the cookies that we baked yesterday:



And here are this morning's achievements:

Spiced nuts (Gabe's family's tradition)



Peanut brittle



Oatmeal cranberry cookies (check out how beautiful the dough is!)



And the resulting cookie (oh my, they are amazing!!)



Jonathan enjoyed playing in the sink...



And "washing" the dishes for me...



We sure had a good time together!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

17th day of Advent

Christmas cookies!!

One of the things that I really wanted to do this Advent season was to make Christmas cookies for some various neighbors and acquaintances. For one thing, I love baking. And since Gabe doesn't eat many sweets, and I shouldn't eat very many sweets, it makes baking during most of the year rather pointless. Also, making cookie plates for the neighbors is a tradition my mom has done every year for as long as I can remember. I like it, and I want to continue it.

So, today I completed one batch of Christmas cookies, and got another batch of dough ready in the refrigerator (it has to chill before I can actually make them). I also chose a third recipe to make tomorrow, and ran out to the store this evening to get two last minute ingredients that I thought I had but didn't. :) It was lots of fun. Jonathan played in the sink while I baked and thoroughly enjoyed licking the spoons. And I got to give Christmas cookies to the UPS man who delivered a package today, which just made me happy. Yay for Advent. :)

16th day of Advent

Last night Jonathan inexplicably fell asleep at 5:30pm. It was actually really funny, because we couldn't believe that he was really ready to go to sleep for the night. So we took him inside (he had fallen asleep in the car) and tried to convince him that he really wasn't sleepy. He hardly wiggled - just put his head down on Gabe's shoulder and ignored us. After a few minutes of that we gave up and decided to put him in his pjs. I've never seen anything quite like it - we manhandled him out of his clothes, into his pajamas, and he never even opened his eyes! Once he giggled in his sleep and rather fuzzily said "tummy", but even that didn't really wake him up.

So we put our tired little boy to bed, and Gabe and I had a lovely evening to ourselves. :)

Our Advent activity was to snuggle together on the couch, and Gabe read the next installment of The Twenty-four Days before Christmas to me. Simple and perfect for an unexpectedly childless evening. :)

Blessings

This morning, while reading through morning prayer, I got rather a wake-up call to remember my blessings. Let me give you some background.

When I woke up this morning, it was on the wrong side of bed. I was tired, grumpy, depressed, and prone to tears over everything. The house was (is) a mess, I had (have) too much on my to-do list, taking care of Jonathan is, well, hard sometimes...you get the idea. I sat down and cried and felt very sorry for myself.

Gabe reminded me that I needed to do morning prayer - particularly this morning. (He didn't say it quite like that, but I think he may have been thinking it!) And while I was praying, God brought to mind something that happened yesterday.

Jonathan and I were walking around the Sam's Club shopping area, waiting for our car to have two tires replaced. I was kind of grumpy yesterday, too, having spent far too long on my feet and really wishing that we didn't have to spend $136 on new tires. As we walked by McDonalds, Jonathan saw a little dog and got very excited. Normally, if someone is out walking their dog, we'll go over and say hello so he can see the dog (and pet it, if the owner says ok). But this dog belonged to a homeless man...and usually I sort of avoid them. I'm not quite sure why it is that they make me nervous, but they generally do.

But this man was different. He was really, really, really old. I'd say at least in his seventies. Everything he owned, including his little dog, was held in an old baby stroller. And it wasn't the hodgepodge of junk that you usually see in homeless men's shopping carts - he gave the impression that he was trying to be somewhat orderly with what little he had. It was a cold day and his little dog (also ancient - 17 years old!) was carefully wrapped up in a corner of his sleeping bag. So we walked over and said hello. I didn't catch the man's name - his voice was querelous with age and I didn't like asking him to repeat himself too much. But I did catch that his dog's name is Ruby, and it was very clear that she is pretty much all he's living for right now. All the love that he ought to give and be given by family, friends...has all been lavished on this tiny dog, who loves him right back.

I asked him if I could help him in any way - buy him a meal, whatever - and he said "Thank you, that would be very kind." So Jonathan and I bought him a meal at McDonalds, petted and admired the dog for a few more minutes, said "God bless you", and then walked away. I didn't want to be a nuisance and intrude on his...privacy, space, I don't know...but I felt awful walking away from him. One meal was all I knew to give him, and it is so pathetically little. Where does he sleep at night? What does he do when it is so cold in the mornings that you can see your breath in the air? What wouldn't he give for a home of his own? I wish I could do more for him.
And so this morning, in the midst of my grumpiness, God pointed out that I have more blessings than I know what to do with. And so I will praise him:

For my messy home, because I have a home, and I have things in it to make it messy.
For my husband who is not here with me right now, because he is at work loving us by providing us money to live on.
For my children, who will hopefully be around when I am old to love and care for me, and whom I can love and care for right now.
For warmth and light so that we can be comfortable.
For healthy food.
For the errands I need to do today, because they represent our ability to give gifts at Christmastime, and for the car that will carry me to do those errands.
For the laundry that must be done today, because it means that we have clean and warm clothing.

The house is a mess. I have too many errands to do today. I am pregnant and tired, and it is reasonable to occasionally cry over this fact. But I have also been blessed beyond measure, and it this that I will choose to dwell on while I wash the dishes and do the laundry this morning.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

14th and 15th days of Advent

You know, weekends just aren't conducive to extra Advent activities. We've had a very good weekend with lots of time together as a family, lots of long-put-off chores getting done, and lots of good food eaten. Oh, and I bought a gorgeous maternity dress to wear to Sarah's wedding, which makes me happy. The fact that it was on clearance for $20 also makes me happy. :)

We also went to church this morning and heard a really really good sermon. Fr. David talked about how John the Baptist didn't tell the people who came to him, "sell everything you have and give the money away" or "take a year off work to go on pilgrimage". Those are the sorts of things that it is quite easy to justify not doing. After all, you just can't afford to take a year off work! Instead, John told the tax collectors to be honest. He told the soldiers (from the occupying army, no less!!) to be satisfied with their pay and not to take things from the people by force. He told "the crowd" simply to be generous. All things that are, well, easy to do. You certainly can't argue that he's asking too much! Only when you try to live them out day to day, they're kind of hard.

John told the people how to live to prepare for the coming of the Christ. We're not in such a different situation now, really. We, too, are preparing for Christ's coming, and we are to do so in the same simple ways. Be generous. Be honest. Be content. And in doing so, I find that it is much easier also to follow Paul's exhortation to the Philipians (another of this week's lessons) to "Rejoice in the Lord always."

Come to think of it, maybe enjoying and thinking about an Advent sermon counts as an Advent activity. :)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Playing the piano

Gabe spent lots of time getting this ready for me tonight...only to have youtube stretch the video into fuzziness. My poor thwarted husband! So it isn't very clear, but you can still get the idea and enjoy the cuteness.


13th day of Advent

Last night we had Christmas early, so that we could get together with Gabe's family as well as mine (we're driving up to visit my family next Saturday). I rather like getting to have Christmas twice. :)

Phillip, Gabe's brother, covered himself in glory by driving out to pick Jonathan and me up. The drive to get us wasn't too bad, I guess, but the drive back to their house took 2.5 hours. It should have taken about half that. Poor Phillip. He was so gracious about it, though.

During the car ride, Jonathan drank an entire cup of juice and an entire cup of milk. When we got there and I took him out of his car seat, I discovered, that he was wearing the (hopefully) one diaper in the package that was, um, not functioning correctly. His clothes were soaked. And I really mean soaked. So he got to play "naked!!!!" for awhile while we washed his clothes.

The only thing that he likes more than being "naked!!!!", I think, are the snowmen in this picture. You press their hands and they sing and dance. They sang and danced for most of the evening. :)



True to toddler form, the bows and paper were more interesting than the gifts inside. You can't see it very well here, but Jonathan has a bow on top of his head.



Isn't he cute?



More fun with paper...this particular picture was captured in the midst of many giggles.



My handsome husband, just because it is such a good picture of him. :)



Oh yes, a good time was definitely had by all!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12th day of Advent

Gingerbread houses!



Christina hosted mom's group at her house today, instead of our usual park setting. She made gingerbread house pieces and icing for all of us, and the rest of the moms brought various small candies to use for decorations.



Making gingerbread houses with lots of toddlers is quite the experience. :) Some of the older toddlers were quite interested and wanted to be very involved. Others (mine included) were much more interested in tasting the icing. And the m&ms. And the red hots. And the licorice. And the gumdrops. Jonathan actually decided he didn't like the candies...which was a good thing because he liked the icing a lot. Every time I used it to put pieces together or add a decoration, he needed a taste. Sometimes he needed two tastes. I gave up worrying about how much sugar he was consuming! :)

Our house fell apart at least three times in the course of building/decorating it. It was pretty warm today (only in southern California can you make candy houses outside in December!) and the icing was melting a bit. So when small toddler fingers pushed candies onto the roof, said roof was quite likely to collapse. It was so much fun, though, and we did manage to keep it together long enough to get a picture!

Once the kids lost interest in the houses, they went straight for the sandbox.







They were having so much fun!

We have such an amazing group of moms and kids. Sometimes I'll read in magazines about difficulties in mommy groups - differences of opinion on discipline, sharing, etc. And so often when you put lots of women together, you can get some yucky cattiness and such. But we just don't have any of that. All the women are warm, thoughtful, caring people. We work together well when toddlers refuse to share with each other. No one is offended if our methods of discipline differ slightly. Basically we love God and we love each other and we love our kids, and so our weekly meetings are wonderfully fun and relaxing and enjoyable. I always look forward to Thursdays.

My husband just informed me that it is getting late. As usual, he is correct. Every morning I ask him to make me go to bed on time, and every evening I ignore his advice and stay up late. :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

11th day of Advent

This evening all four of us squeezed onto the piano bench and we sang Advent carols together. Jonathan is just now starting to enjoy singing at the piano – sometimes he’ll climb up on the piano bench, page through the hymnal, and ask me to “sing it?” His attention span is pretty short, but it was a lot of fun tonight anyway. Old hymns are pretty amazing, and we found a few unfamiliar ones tonight that we really enjoyed.

After that we meant to put Jonathan to bed. But putting on pajamas led to tummy kisses, and then Jonathan wanted to kiss our tummies, too. So we all ended up on our bed together, with kisses and hugs and tickles and snuggles liberally distributed to everyone.

Bedtime ended up being a little later than planned…but for such a lovely reason!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

10th day of Advent

Today we raided the Christmas closet. The main reason was to get out our little Nativity set. My sister made this for me some years ago. I keep hoping she'll make some more figures to round out the set - aren't they just perfect?



Of course, opening the Christmas closet means that you have to see what else is in there. And wrapping paper makes you think of all those gifts in the gift drawer. So you need to open the gift drawer, too.



And there are lots of gifts to be wrapped. And you don't want to be wrapping them all at the last minute, do you? Because that takes the fun out of it.



So we wrapped a few presents. :)

Jonathan got his own scraps of ribbon and paper, and made himself useful by rubbing his finger over every piece of tape that I put on the packages. :)

Aren't they pretty?

The 9th day of Advent...

got skipped.

I babysat a 5 month old all morning, did something (I'm sure I did something, I just can't remember what!) in the early afternoon, and then babysat a 2 year old and a 9 month old in the late afternoon.

Then Jonathan, who was at that point the. most. overstimulated. child that I have ever seen, fell apart completely and got put to bed, even before Daddy arrived home. :(

Some days just aren't conducive to holiday spirit.
This is how I feel when I'm pregnant. Kim just says it so much better than I can. :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

8th day of Advent

Today's Advent activity: going to church!

This Sunday was particularly sweet for me, since it has been over a month since I was last at Blessed Sacrament. In fact, the last two months have been crazy in terms of church attendance.

October 22nd - on vacation visiting my family
October 29th - sick
November 5th - in church, I think!
November 12th - visiting Mom in the hospital
November 19th - home with a sick Jonathan :(
November 26th - Thanksgiving/visiting Mom in the hospital
December 3rd - in bed with a migraine

Every now and then Satan fills my head with these niggling little doubts about being in a liturgical church. It is so repetitive. It can get boring. Who really cares about all these old fashioned words anyway? Your mind is wandering again...you're not getting anything out of this (to this last one, I answer: that's not the point anyway!)

But all it takes to remind me of how very much I love the liturgy and our church in particular is to be away for a few weeks. I miss communion, I miss the sense of familial love, I miss seeing the crucifix and feeling the cold of the holy water and smelling the candles. I miss sitting next to Gabe and reading the old words together and knowing that there is deep, deep meaning in them, even if I can't always pay perfect attention to the prayers. I miss holding my son on my lap, carrying him up to the communion rail with us for a blessing and his own little piece of wafer, and watching him sit on Gabe's shoulders at the end of the service and learn to bow when the cross goes by.

There is a deep goodness and beauty and holiness in the mass at Blessed Sacrament. There is a sense of enfolding love from the people of God. There is experiential knowledge of God's best gift to us - the grace of his son's coming. In this season of Advent, as we await his coming in glory, I am grateful to have a place like this to call home.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why the world needs better math teachers

This is a long video. But it is worth listening to the end. You just won't believe it until you hear it. Basically, this man is trying to explain to Verizon customer service representatives that he has been overcharged - because they quoted him a price of 0.002 CENTS per KB and then charged him 0.002 DOLLARS per KB. And evidently this is way too hard for any of the supervisors and managers to understand. :)


7th day of Advent

We didn't do much for Advent today, but I'm going to say that what we did counts anyway (all in the name of not stressing over Christmas preparations!) See, this is me being balanced. Please take note that it does happen on occasion. ;)

Anyway, today we went to Penney's and got a family Christmas photo taken. We got charged nearly twice as much as I was expecting (darn the fine print and nebulous terms!!!) but the photos are really really nice. Unfortunately, they won't be in until December 23rd, after 1pm. And we'll be half-way to Northern California by then. Oh well. We're just going to send out our Christmas cards during the Twelve Days of Christmas this year. I planned it that way. On purpose. Yes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

6th day of Advent

This morning we put on some of my favorite Christmas music, got out all the celophane bags and ribbon and tape and other various Christmasy fun things, and went to work. We packaged up all the homemade candy so it is ready to mail or hand out this weekend. Yay! It actually took longer than I had expected, but we had so much fun doing it! Jonathan was completely happy with his very own Christmas bag, filled with little candy canes and lots of little scraps of curled ribbon. Actually, every time I cut a piece of ribbon for my own work, he needed one too.

Tomorrow we'll go buy some more ribbon. :)









Update on Mom

Thank you for your continued prayers for my mom and family. Here is a bit more current information:

Mom is doing better. Not great, but better. She's been moved to a "transitional care" hospital - out of the trauma intensive care unit at last! She has a trach tube with a lever on it that allows just a little air to move past her vocal cords when you turn it on. This allows her to actually talk (well, whisper!) to Dad when she isn't too tired. It is great to know that all the important parts that make her Sandy are still working. She has her sense of humor, she has all her memories, she's very much herself. She is also able to move her fingers and toes very slightly now, which is good. She tells Dad that she can only do one thing at a time - it is very hard for her to do anything - so she can't talk and move her fingers at the same time, for example.

She'll be in transitional care until she's strong enough to enter an intensive rehab center. She needs to be able to handle 3 hours (minimum) of therapy a day, and right now she's not even close to that. So please pray that she'll recover strength really quickly and be able to transfer soon.

From there we have no idea how long it will take or how much movement she'll regain. I'm trying not to think too much about that, and just focus on the tremendously good news that her mind and personality are ok, and be grateful for each little improvement.

Thank you for praying!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

5th day of Advent

Christmas lights! We actually hung Christmas lights today!

This is a big deal because I have never done this before. When I was a kid I lived out in the middle of nowhere, in a very tall two-story house. It would have been an amazing chore to hang lights, and no one would have seen them anyway. So we didn't. And I guess I never really missed them.

But wow, it is fun to do it now! And Jonathan is in heaven. His favorite phrase now is "turn on!" so we have lots of conversations about how the Christmas lights only turn on when it is dark. :)

Sorry for the fuzziness of the photos - it is hard to take good pictures in the dark!



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

4th day of Advent

This evening before Jonathan went to bed, we all sat down on the couch together. First Jonathan got to open a window on his Advent calendar card. This is a very big deal. He had been looking forward to it all day. :) Then Gabe read the first few pages of The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas out loud to us. Jonathan's attention span really isn't long enough for this book yet, so he got up part way through and prowled around the family room. But I thoroughly enjoyed it! For some reason that book just says "Christmas is coming!" to me...it is one of my favorite childhood Christmas traditions.

Tomorrow the plan is to put up outdoor Christmas lights!!!

As requested...

The candy recipes we used. :) The caramel recipe is from Jessica, and the fudge recipe is from becca.

Caramels
(as we made them) from The Wycliffe International Cookbook:

Combine and cook to firm ball stage (244 F):
-1 c. butter
-2 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
-1 1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk, cream or milk
-1 c. light corn syrup

Remove from heat, and immediately stir in:
-1 t. vanilla
-1 t. finely shredded orange peel.

Quickly pour caramel mixture into buttered, foil-lined 9x9 pan. When firm use foil to lift out of pan. Use buttered knife (or kitchen shears) to cut candy into 1-inch squares.

Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate (you can use 1/2 semi-sweet and 1/2 dark or bittersweet chocolate for a more chocolatey taste)
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla (sometimes I add more--also, other flavors could be used too)
1 cup chopped walnuts (if you like nutty fudge)

Heat sugar, butter and milk to rolling boil over medium heat (234F on thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and allow to cool.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Advent

I'm making an attempt at doing something Advent/Christmas related for each day of Advent this year. I know that Jonathan is still pretty little and won't remember it, but I think I'm doing it more for me this year anyway. And because I want to get in the habit, so that when he is old enough, it won't be so hard to fit these things in!

I have such great memories of Christmas preparations with my family. On the first day of December we made a numbered chain out of construction paper. Then each night, we'd take off one chain link, excitedly announce "X more days until Christmas!" and Mom would tell us which fun Christmas event we'd do that night. Sometimes it was making paper snowflakes, sometimes getting out Christmas decorations, sometimes drinking eggnog, sometimes reading from The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas. Sometimes it meant bundling up and going to Victorian Christmas in town, or driving around and looking at all the Christmas lights. Whatever it was, it was always fun!

So this year, I'm attempting to do something of the sort. :) Not in the evenings, particularly, because evenings tend to be short with Gabe getting home late a lot. But the goal is to do something. And maybe if I try to update what we've done on my blog, we'll have a better chance of actually accomplishing the goal. :)

So far it has been fun!

December 3rd (first Sunday of Advent): The Advent candles are set up, and a wreath is on the front door. And Jessica and becca and I spent 6 hours making candy for Christmas presents. (Oh wow, is it ever good!)









































December 4th: late night eggnog with Gabe. :)

December 5th: Jonathan and I washed the sliding glass window together and then put up vinyl clings (thank you, Grandma M!)



Note how toddlers do not place stickers upright. And how (mostly) ok I am with that. ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Errand day

I swear that errands multiply both in number and length of time when you have children. Tuesday I spent pretty much the whole day doing errands (Jonathan is amazing and didn't even object!) but I only got half of them done!!! I think I spent at least an hour just carrying groceries from the car to the house. Because, you see, you only get to use one hand, because the toddler needs to hold the other one (it's a parking lot, so we hold hands.) And on the way to the house, said toddler must needs show you every. single. bug/leaf/cat/bird/spot on the pavement. Because they are just so FASCINATING!!! And of course, they are. But I'd rather look at them when one of my arms isn't full of groceries. :)

So we're off today to do it again. More shopping and a trip to the library, with an oil change thrown in for good measure. And if we're lucky, we'll make it to the park for mom's group. :)

Wish me luck.

(So why am I blogging instead of getting started on this lovely excursion? Because while we get up at the crack of dawn, the rest of the world doesn't open their doors until 8am.) :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Best news yet!!

Read all about it here. :)

Pictures are worth 1000 words...

Jonathan likes to sit in my computer chair and pretend to "work" just like me.




















The playground is a very popular place lately. He wears me out!!!













































































Lately Jonathan has decided that coloring is lots of fun. We've had crayons and paper out on his table for quite some time, but usually he only did it with my encouragement and help. Now he'll decide that he wants to on his own! Here you can see that his favorite color is still green. :)

Update on Mom

Some good news! Mom is now sitting up (completely assisted, of course) for 2 hours each day. This is really great progress since a few days ago 30 minutes exhausted her. She is mouthing words and phrases more consistently, shaking her head ever so slightly for "yes" and "no", and as of yesterday has started to smile just slightly. These are all such encouraging signs. :)

It is also looking promising that she may be able to move to a rehabilitation center in the next few weeks. And there is a really good center only 45 minutes away from my family's home. Praise God for the nearness of good medical facilities!!

Please pray particularly that Mom will regain the use of her arms/hands and legs/toes. She did initially have some control over them, but since the third surgery she hasn't been able to move them at all. Please pray that the "cure" didn't make things worse, and that she will heal completely.

Tiny Christian

This morning Jonathan climbed up on his stool, peered over the top of the dresser at Gabe’s Bible, and exclaimed “Bible!!” He was very excited about it. He also can point out Jesus on every page of his bible book, and yesterday proclaimed “Jesus love” while holding our little statue of Jesus. He says “amen” at the end of every prayer, and this morning in the middle of his snack he suddenly started saying “amen”. I asked him if he was talking to Jesus, and he said “yes, Ga-ma-me”. We’ve been praying for her so very much, and I wonder if perhaps he really was talking to Jesus about her. I can’t know what exactly is going on in his head, but it seems to me that God would honor even the simplest prayers of the youngest child.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Other fun things Jonathan is doing...

He says "my turn" when he wants to use something Gabe or I are using. It gets confusing, though, because he isn't sure when to use "my turn" and when to use "your turn". And I don't know how to explain it to him, because if he wants to use it and says "my turn", then I say "ok, your turn!" But then he things that "your" is what to use for himself, and he says "my turn" when he wants ME to do something. He's not consistent at all, which makes figuring out what he means this particular time a bit tricky. Still, you can hardly blame him. The English language is insanely confusing sometimes.

He has a favorite blanket now - one that my Grandmommy (his Great-Grandmommy) knit for him. It is a lovely soft yellow blanket, nice and large and comfy. He calls it his "mee-mee" (we have no idea why) and doesn't want to go to sleep without it nestled under his chin.

One of my kitchen cupboards is his new favorite place to play. I've cleared it out so only a few Jonathan-approved items are in it, and he climbs all the way inside and plays peek-a-boo with me while I clean the kitchen or make meals.



He also really enjoys stickers. Every day he gets to pick two stickers off the sheet, and he makes his choices very carefully. Today one went onto his shirt and the second went on his nose.

"Please"

This evening, Jonathan was shouting at Gabe, wanting him to get up off a pillow. Gabe, of course, wasn't going for it based on that sort of request! After awhile, he simply said "Jonathan, there is one thing you haven't tried yet. Do you know what it is?" The response was immediate. Jonathan grinned and said "please?"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Update on Mom

Dad just called with an update on Mom's condition. She is using blinks to communicate - answering yes or no questions very consistently in this way. This is good news, since she hasn't been able to do this since the third surgery a few days ago. Progress is being made, albeit very slowly.

The big concern right now is that she is still not breathing on her own. It isn't possible to leave someone on a respirator much longer than she has been on it (infection and swelling become too much of a problem, and she already is having trouble with both), so the doctors are asking for Dad's permission to perform a tracheotomy on Mom. Basically this would allow her to breath (assisted, still) through a hole in her trachea instead of having the tube down her throat.

While this may be necessary, it is definitely a "pick which evil" sort of situation. Especially given Mom's reaction to her last surgery, the prospect of another is pretty scary. And of course, tracheotomies have their own set of risks and potential complications.

Please pray for my dad as he works with the doctors to make a good decision. The doctors are considering allowing a breathing "trial" (letting Mom attempt to breath around the breathing tube already in place) before making a final decision. They can't just take the tube out and see what happens, because then if she can't breathe, it becomes a really traumatic emergency situation for replacing the tube, which wouldn't help her situation at all. Please pray that Mom will be able to breath on her own and this surgery won't be necessary.

Please pray that she wakes up soon.

(I'm having a hard time keeping track of what I've posted on this blog, what I've written to friends, who I've called with what information...if you feel you're missing background info, please see this blog for more details.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jonathan

I really, really, really love my son.

We've spent the morning so far pretty much just relaxing (due to a pretty tired mom!) and it has been lovely. Lots of building towers with blocks, and pounding on pegboards, and tickles and kisses and hugs and helping fold laundry (did you know that the kitchen towels go on the bottom shelf of the changing table? Jonathan is quite adamant that they do.)

It has been really good to spend time just looking at him - holding him close and watching him laugh with delight - remembering just how very much I love him.

This past week he was sort of put on a back burner. There was so much going on that it really wasn't possible to spend much time really paying attention to him. His basic needs were met, and thankfully he was amazingly flexible with all the upset in his life. I think God was gracious to us all in helping Jonathan be so flexible...he spent most of his afternoon naps sleeping in my arms in the hospital lobby...this is not normal for my son! Anyway, now that we're home I'm finding that what I want (even more than a cleared desk or a clean kitchen!) is just to spend some time connecting with him.

And we have. And he is wonderful.

He just came over to ask for my attention - he found some baby pictures in a magazine, and they're so cool they just must be shared. :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mom

Last Tuesday (Nov. 7th) my mom had an aneurysm burst in her brain. She has had two brain surgeries since then, and is in the Trauma Neurological Intensive Care Unit at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Roseville. She's getting better, but it is going to be a very long, slow process.

I spent last week up there with her and the rest of my family. Now I'm home to take care of my family, but I'll probably be heading back up to visit (and especially if anything major changes). Part of me wishes that I could just stay there indefinitely...but I also know that I have responsibilities here. It is hard, sometimes, to know how to balance being a daughter with being a wife and mother.

I'm finding it very hard to write much about all this. It is like there is so much in my mind and heart that it just creates writer's block. Thankfully, my sister doesn't have this problem. She has started a blog to chronicle my mom's recovery. You can read about it here.

Please pray for my mom, and for my whole family. Mom is such a vibrant, determined, energetic woman that I think we all thought she was completely invincible. That such a thing could happen even to her is a huge shock. Pray for her healing, and for our family as we deal with all the changes this event brings.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pasta, chicken, and marinara cheese sauce

This is the result of my dinner attempts tonight. Wow, yum!! It really bears very little resemblance to the original recipe, but it was an awful lot of fun experimenting and the results were fantastic. So, just in case you want to try it:

12 oz (about 4.5 cups) spiral pasta
3 T. butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
basil, oregano, red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup water
14 oz crushed tomatos (half of a big can)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into chunks

Cook pasta (try to time it to be done when the sauce is finished.)
Saute garlic and herbs in butter; add chicken and saute.
Add water and tomatos; simmer for 15 minutes.
Add cheese and cream cheese, stirring until melted.
Toss sauce with pasta and serve immediately.

Optional additions: red bell peppers, olives

Things you find on the internet.

I was looking at allrecipes.com this afternoon, trying to dream up an interesting main dish to make tonight. I found one...but it calls for vodka.

We don't normally keep vodka around the house. As Gabe says "the only reason you'd drink vodka straight is if you're a drunk Russian."

So I opened up a new window and searched for "substitution for vodka in cooking". I found a message board where someone had asked the same question. The response?

"Why would you not want to use vodka? What are you a prohibitionist, you must have voted for Bush."

Well.

I'd still like to know if I can use chicken broth instead. :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Golden moments

On Wednesday, I took Jonathan for a walk to the park. But I forgot his shoes. So instead of playing on the play equipment, we stayed at the other end of the park, took off our socks, and played in the grass with bare feet. Jonathan was initially disappointed that he couldn't go play in the wood chips, but he was quickly consoled by the fun things we could do with bare feet. Like walking through crinkly crunchy leaves. There was a huge tree that had lost about half of its leaves, and it was just glorious to run through them. I showed Jonathan how to twirl in circles and then look up at the sky, and he thought it was wonderful. So did I, watching him laugh with delight. We played chase - he on his feet and me on my knees (just to be fair, you know!) Only he enjoyed being caught so much that he'd only run away from me a few steps before turning and running right into my arms for a hug and a tickle. And after all that I showed him how to let me hold his arms so that I could pick him up off his feet and spin him through the air or swing him through my legs. We didn't do that TOO much, though, because Mommy got seriously worn out!

It was just one of those perfect afternoons that makes you realize afresh just how very much you love being a mother. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and fresh, Jonathan was happy and laughing, and I was able to relax and just enjoy it. We spent nearly two hours there before coming home.

I think perhaps times like this are one of God's special graces to mothers.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tonight's conversation:

Gabe: *singing cheesy love songs to me*

Emily: You never sang to me before we got married.

Gabe: Well, I had to make sure you couldn't leave me.

:)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Airbrushed

I found this at Life in a Shoe. No wonder so many women don't feel pretty! We're comparing ourselves against computer generated images!


Big boy beds

I'm assuming that at least a few of my readers may have dealt with this problem. If you have, will you please please please share your wisdom?

We're in the process of switching Jonathan to a mattress instead of the pack n play, and we're having difficulty. He does fine at night, maybe due to the darkness factor (?) but naptimes just aren't working. This morning he was totally exhausted, but couldn't seem to fall into a deep sleep. As soon as I left the room he popped up, cried, and followed me out. We had quite a battle over whether or not he would stay on the bed! I think I came out on top, sort of, since he did eventually stay on the bed to finish out his quiet time, but he never did sleep and is still obviously tired (he's sitting in my lap, head nodding, right now).

I think part of the problem is just so much space. He's used to flopping around and hitting the mesh sides of the crib. Now he flops and...flops again and...falls off the bed. Or hits the wall, which is definitely not soft. We've tried to make him a cozy corner with pillows and his favorite blanket, and that seems to help a little bit, but not enough.

When he slept in his crib, it was so easy! Well, at least it has been for awhile. We simply turned on his music, lay with him for three songs, and then left. He knew the routine and almost never gave us trouble about it. I guess maybe it will just take time to learn the new routine, but I'm not quite sure how to make the routine happen. Because he really can just get off his bed anytime he feels like it. And discipline has me a bit stymied, because how am I supposed to put him in "time out" when there are no sides to keep him in?

Are we just doing this too early? He's almost 19 months old now. We wanted to get him comfortable with the new arrangement well before the new baby arrives, so that he doesn't feel like it is the baby who took his bed away, you know? But maybe we're expecting too much of him. I'm just not sure.

Poor tired kid. He's lying on the floor, staring out the window. Does that sound like my normally full of energy child? I wish he'd just give up and go to sleep. Then I could take a shower in peace. :)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Weird combination:

an upset stomach, braxton hicks contractions, and a baby who just. won't. stop. kicking.

Family

No, we don't have a dog. I forgot to mention (in the post about Maggie) that Jonathan and I were on vacation up with my parents. :)

It was a great vacation - I was getting over a heavy cold and got to rest and sleep and read books - generally be "off duty" for a few days. As much as I love my son, and love being a mom, there is a lot to be said for being off duty occasionally!

Jonathan was full of energy (as usual!) but he had his choice of four people at his beck and call for much of the time we were there. Not to mention great-grandparents who wanted to see him too. He got to play outside with the dog and the cats, hammer on boards ("bang!!!") be taken around for wheelbarrow rides, play with balls, pick crabapples (up on a ladder!) eat yummy food, get a bath from Grandmommy and Granddad, play with puzzles, build with blocks, listen to music...he had an incredible time.

I wish that families weren't so spread out across the country these days. I'm envious of those extended families who someone stayed together locally for generations - you know, you marry the boy next door and settle down across town from both sets of parents! Gabe and I have a few friends who actually were able to do that, and it is so neat to see. Their children really know their extended family, because they see them every week!

Compare to our situation: my sister is marrying and settling in Boston, my brother is currently in Texas, my parents are in Northern California. My in-laws are in Southern California, but a long enough drive away that we don't see them all that often either.

It makes me sad to be so spread out, but I don't know of a way to fix it. My parents work hard to make their home (and area) an inviting place to come vacation as well as live. And boy, is it ever working! My cousin's family just bought property just down the road from my family, as did my aunt and uncle. Even my grandparents in Texas are considering moving to the area! So that is a sort of gravitational base that will definitely make for fun family reunions and good vacations. But the reality is that Gabe and I will probably have to go where the jobs are. Sarah and Nathan will go where the grad schools are, and who knows where Jonathan will end up. Maybe in Africa. :)

I guess I'm just a little envious of what seems a simpler life, and a very good thing: raising your kids in the larger community of your extended family. When I left for college I never even thought about that. When I married Gabe and settled down here, it still didn't seem important. Now that I have children, I have realized how very dear family is, and I am sad for the loss of their nearness. I think that maybe this means I've finally grown up a bit.

No fair!

The stomach flu is never fun.

Getting it for the third time in four months, while pregnant, on the very day of a big event at church that you've been pouring all your energy into for a month...

Seems unfair, doesn't it?

It really does seem to be Murphy's Law. Jonathan came down with it on Thursday morning. My comment at the time was "I sure hope I don't get it. But if I do, I'll probably get it on Sunday."

Next time maybe I shouldn't say anything! :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cleanliness

is next to Godliness...or so they say. If so, my son is well on his way to being seriously holy. :) I've never seen such a child for needing to be clean! If something spills during dinner, even if it lands on his bib, he responds with "uh oh!" immediately. Today during dinner he needed to wipe his hands with a napkin multiple times - even though he only had a few crumbs of cornbread on them. Earlier this afternoon I let him lick the spoon after making the cornbread. He thoroughly enjoyed it, but I had to wipe his hands off with the washcloth at least five times. After that I gave up and handed him the washcloth to do it himself, and he happily washed his own face and hands between nearly every lick!

Gabe hopes that we can put this little compulsion to work for us when Jonathan is ready to potty train. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I've been replaced.

The family dog is named "Maggie". Jonathan can't say "Maggie"...so he calls her "Mommy".

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Football

Jonathan got his first introduction to professional football this afternoon.

His response: "Uh oh! Oh no!!!" whenever anyone got tackled.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Prayer request

Not for us, but for this little boy and his family. The Pray for Canon blog is here, (for updates on his condition) and there is a picture on another blog here. Fair warning: this will make you cry.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sheesh

Wouldn't it be nice to call customer service and get someone in the United States, preferably who spoke English without too much of an accent, and who actually worked for the company you were trying to contact?

New Delhi, India, indeed.

Weighty issues

Ok, I'm giggling at myself over the title of this post. :)

I've been stressing for the past four weeks about my pace of weight gain with this baby. Last month I gained just about 8 pounds, which is hardly the "2/3 to 1 pound a week" that is "recommended". Can I just say now that I really hate averages?? Because no matter that my brain knows that it is an average, I still think that I "ought" to be exactly on pace with it.

When I was pregnant with Jonathan, the same thing happened during my fifth month. Unfortunately, that happened to coincide with Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my doctor gave me rather a hard time about it. He wasn't mean, he just sort of made fun of me. Not so helpful when you hate the numbers on the scale anyway!

So this time around I kept telling myself "Emily, this has happened before, this is just how your body does 5th month pregnancy!" but at the same time I couldn't quite get that "doctor voice" out of my head telling me that I really need to lay off the buffet tables.

Anyway. Today my midwife came to the house for my appointment. She had asked me to keep two weeks of a diet chart - everything I put in my mouth - just so she could see and make sure everything was fine. So I did, faithfully recording everything - even the "bad" foods that I thought I shouldn't have eaten but did anyway. :)

The result? Sue says this is just the way my body works, and on top of that it is completely NORMAL. Further, she says that my diet is "great!" and that she doesn't care one bit how much weight I actually end up gaining, because I'm doing it all on good food.

Maybe I'll just put away my scale for awhile and work on believing her instead of stressing about the numbers.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Success!

One of the things that I was trying to do this week was to get all the weekly chores done during the week, instead of leaving a bunch for the weekend (and then asking Gabe to help with them!) And it worked! I may not like vacuuming and mopping the floors, but it is possible to get it done during the week. And it was such a nice reward to get to the weekend and realize that the only things I'm asking Gabe to do for me around the house are cutting the grass and helping with a project. So he'll actually have time to relax and work on his own projects as well! (Considering how crazy his school schedule is right now, this is something he really needs.) On top of that, it makes my weekend that much nicer, too, because I'm actually going to have time this afternoon to garden and play the piano and read. I think a little extra work during the week is worth it for the payoff of real relaxation on the weekends. :)

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Mother's Rule of Life

A friend of mine at church lent me a book a few weeks ago: A Mother's Rule of Life, by Holly Pierlot. It is written by a Catholic mother of five children who, six years ago, felt something like how I've been feeling (only more so, I'm guessing!) She was trying to homeschool and care for a toddler and a baby, keep the house nice, stay on a budget, make meals for the family, stay on top of the laundry, and convince herself that it was all a worthwhile endeavor. And she was miserable, until she stepped back and re-evaluated what she was doing and why. The result is this book, which walks you through the development and implementation of a Rule of Life for Mothers. The idea is based on the concept of monastic vocations...all of which have a rule of life. If Motherhood is our vocation, Holly says, and it is, then we should have a rule of life as well.

I think it may have changed my life. My husband certainly thinks that it has - today he wanted to know what in the world had changed since I started reading it.

I'm not sure I can answer that question. Because in one sense, not much has changed. I don't have any more hours in my day than I used to have. I don't have any more sleep each night (actually, I've gotten less sleep this week than I normally do). Jonathan hasn't suddenly turned into Angel-Toddler, and I still have laundry and dishes and mopping and meal preparation and church work to do.

But something is different now. A few weeks ago I felt out of control and discouraged and tired and sure that I would never ever catch up. This week has been peaceful...the chores are done, Jonathan has had lots of quality time (and so has Gabe, for that matter), my desk is clear and church work, while still a lot, doesn't feel so overwhelming.

The best explanation I can give for this is sort of multi-faceted. I'm still trying to figure it all out (hence the fact that I'm writing about it!) :)

1) Holly reminded me that this is a vocation that God gave me. The commands to care for the garden (their home), and to be fruitful and multiply, are the first works that God gave to Adam and Eve...this work wasn't the result of the fall, it was the way life was meant to be. The fall just made it harder.

2) God is not an optional part of my day. My entire life should, ideally, be an offering to God, and I can't do that if I never think about him except on Sunday morning. Prayer isn't an optional occupation for those moments when I can't think of anything else to do. (Ha, when does that ever happen??) Prayer needs to be both scheduled into my day at regular times, as well as sprinkled here and there in the midst of my daily chores.

3) Sloth is not the same thing as being tired. Sloth is "a sluggishness of the soul or boredom of the exertion necessary for the performance of any good work." Sloth ties me to the couch and makes me feel badly about life. Tiredness, on the other hand, can be offered to God as a sacrifice of love. "Jesus, I'm going to wash these dishes and take Jonathan for a walk because I love you."

4) I'm not keeping house because I need to do so to stay sane. I think this was part of the catch-22 that I'd fallen into recently (ok, for most of my life): doing my work in order to feel good about myself but being too tired to feel like things were ok and then needing to do more work to make myself feel better but not ever actually feeling better...this kind of circular trap just results in discouragement and depression, which is exactly where I often found myself. Holly's book reminded me that I am keeping house because keeping a home running smoothly means that I can be a better parent and be a better wife and most importantly, pay more attention to God.

These are very scattered thoughts right now - I'm very much just starting the thought process and the implementation of this idea of a Rule of Life. Perhaps the best explanation can be found in this quote:
There's a deeper and more fundamental level to a Rule of Life that distinguishes it from a mere schedule: the intent and aim of following the Rule. A Rule followed for the practical benefits alone is not a Rule of Life; it is a schedule. Duties attended to grudgingly or with reluctance do not make a Rule, for a Rule of Life must be lived as a response to the call of God.
In a Mother's Rule, all that we do is done because God asks it of us. It is to accept and embrace my vocation because God wants me to, whether out of an initial sense of obedience to him or, later, simply because I love him, and to suffer the possibily ongoing struggle to adjust my attitudes and outlook toward his vision for my life, is the very heart of the Rule. It is to do all that he asks, because he asks it, out of love for him.
So that is what I'm trying to do. Do all that God has asked of me, because he asks it, because I love him.

The strange thing is that when I stopped trying to do it all by myself and for myself, God seems to have stepped in and multiplied my efforts. How else to explain that I suddenly seem to have more hours in my day? Then again, I guess that isn't so very strange. It is like tithing - when we give to God even out of our lack, he always seems to give back to us more than we ever thought to ask for. So perhaps now as I'm choosing to give time to God in prayer, and choosing to obey his call for my life, he is simply giving me an abundance of blessings in return.

Movies

Jonathan had his 18 month doctor's appointment yesterday and got a whole bunch of vaccination shots. I'm glad he won't be getting polio, but a post-vaccine toddler can be difficult! He was running a fever for most of the day, and partway through the afternoon I decided that a movie was in order. Only, I'm sick of the Baby Einstein dvd that we have. One can only watch those so many times before wishing they'd never been made. :) So instead, I put in the Sound of Music. It has music! It has dancing! It has children! He'll love it!

He hated it. I watched it with him and talked him through it for ten minutes, hoping that he'd catch on that this was fun. He cried the whole time. "Mommy, woo woo mooee!!" Over and over and over again.

But it is the Sound of Music!!! How can you possibly not like the Sound of Music!!! Baby Einstein has ruined you forever!!!

I'm trying very hard to convince myself that Baby Einstein is simply more developmentally appropriate for an 18 month old.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Laughter is the best medicine...

so here is my current giggle-fit joke (found on Jeana's blog):


A priest, a rabbi and a boy scout walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this, a joke?"


Come on, you KNOW that is funny. :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The thing no one tells you about home ownership

Everything breaks. If it has ever had a moving part, it will break. If it has been in the house since 1974, it is absolutely going to break, no matter how much you beg and plead for it to hold out just a little bit longer.

Upon further reflection, there are two things no one tells you. The second is that everything that breaks will be really expensive to fix. And the things that do break will be the things that you can’t NOT fix. Like the shower fixture that broke off in my hand yesterday. I got the replacement parts today at Lowes for the insanely expensive price of $68, and it costs $150 (I think) to have the water in our complex turned off so that we can actually do the repair. And that is if we do it ourself! Or the electrical wiring problem that left us with half the outlets not working. (That one resulted in a $175 electrician fee, and part of it stopped working again the next day – the part that includes the garbage disposal.) Oh, and my washing machine is making a really awful noise that I’m sure means it is in the process of breaking. I’ve been importuning God about that one quite a lot lately. :)

Of course, if you’re a homeowner, this will all happen in the same few months that you need new brakes for the car and have to pay the midwife’s fee and decided to spend all your “house money” on not-quite-necessary (but oh so beautiful!) projects.

Some days I miss just filling out the form that says “X broke on Y day” and handing it to the manager.

Friday, October 06, 2006

First step...

on the road to potty training?

For the past few days Jonathan has been (occasionally) informing me when he needs a new diaper. And every time, he's been right. It's a start, yes? :)

Airplanes and helicopters

Quite often during the day a helicopter or an airplane will fly over our house. Our reaction to the noise is as well-conditioned as a reaction to a fire alarm - we drop whatever we are doing and race outside to see what kind it is! Today we actually got to see two private planes flying together and (I'm almost positive) showing off. :) They had really big engines that made a lot of noise, and they flew low enough to give us a really good look at them. That was exciting. So was the big helicopter this morning.

It is kind of funny being the mother of a little boy. I never used to care about airplanes or helicopters...and now they're exciting highlights of the day!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Obedience

This morning I put socks on Jonathan's feet because it was so cold. He isn't used to wearing socks, and was trying to pull them off. I told him that he needed to keep his socks on his feet, please, ok? And he responded "yeah!" and then DID!!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wow!

Jonathan knows his colors! At least the basic three (red, yellow, blue) and I think he knows orange, too. Although that one is slightly confusing because orange is a color and a juice and a fruit, you know. :)

My kid is so smart. :)

Too clever for his own good...

At lunch today Jonathan wanted more orange slices. I told him he needed to "ask nicely; say please". He grinned at me and said "nice!"

Words

A couple of updates on Jonathan's newest words:

"More yo-gur"

"Yay you!" (This is a repetition of our saying it to him - he's always very pleased with himself whenever he gets this response from us.)

"Please"

"Please" is the newest battleground in the war of the words. A few months ago, "more" was the battle - we knew he could say it, but he would often refuse to do so. Eventually he realized that we really weren't going to give him more food until he used his words, and things calmed down. However, our wonderful son who has an absolutely amazing ability to be stubborn (please don't ask where he got that trait, ok?) has now decided that "please" is a word not to be said. We know he can say it, and when he does say it he gets praised up and down and is quite pleased with himself...but most of the time when we tell him he needs to "ask nicely, say please" we get an out and out refusal. We're having to pick our battles really carefully, which is difficult in this situation. See, we want to be consistent, but if we required him to say "please" every time he asked for more food, he would never eat enough. Because he'd rather go hungry at the table and then fuss later than comply with the request. And he needs to eat! So far my best tactic is to keep shoveling food into him as fast as possible at the beginning of a meal, so that he doesn't have time to ask for anything more. Then after I'm pretty sure he's eaten enough to survive, I'll wait for him to ask. I think it is really important for him to learn to be polite...but it is so tempting to just let it slide and avoid the tantrum. Sometimes Gabe and I just stare at each other, then at our screaming child, and wonder if we'll ever survive these pre-rational years!

On the other hand, Jonathan is starting to show some really encouraging signs of rationality. :) For example, last night he really melted down over dinner. Refused to eat, refused to play while mom and dad ate...so Gabe told him that while he didn't have to eat anything, he did need to sit in his seat during dinner. This did not go over well. He screamed and threw himself around - it is a good thing his booster seat has straps! BUT (and this is the cool part) after we had listened to this for awhile, I got really close to his face and said quietly, "Jonathan, listen to mommy" until I got his attention. When he was quiet, I explained that he needed to sit in his seat "until you are quiet and take one bite. Do you want your bite to be bread or soup?" It took about three times through this explanation, interjected with reminders to "oh, oh, remember to be quiet", but then he quietly took a bite of bread and then asked to get down!!!!!

Oh, the rapture. It was a really good "win-win" situation - Gabe and I didn't "lose" the battle, and Jonathan got to make a choice to obey (and then go to bed, which he really needed!) Parenting is awfully hard sometimes (ok, most of the time) but little successes like that remind me that working at it is worth it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Poor sleepy kid

Jonathan is trying so hard to become a one-nap child. Some days it works. Some days it just doesn't. I wish I knew a better way to help him. Today he took a one hour nap in the middle of the day, then completely fell apart at 5pm and screamed himself to sleep (I tried just doing a quiet time with him, but he was having none of that idea!) But yesterday he slept from 1pm-3pm and didn't fall apart until 8pm. It was a lovely day. He just isn't consistent at all, either with the timing for his first nap, or his need (or lack thereof) for a second.

I would think it was our fault (we have a slightly varying schedule during the week which causes J to wake up either at 6am or at 7am - 7am being his choice) except that during the summer the schedule never changed and we still had the trouble with his naps. It almost seems more like the problem is in his not sleeping long enough during his midday nap. If he'd only sleep the two hours that he needs, instead of waking up and yelling after one.

Does anyone have good idea for helping him get through this?

Diapers

I discovered recently that diapers can often be a tipping point for me between a good or bad day. If the day is going very well and I had enough sleep the night before and nothing really stressful is going on, then I don't mind using cloth diapers. But if I didn't get enough sleep, or I'm behind in my work at church, or Jonathan is fussy, or all the above (yeah, usually all of the above!) then dealing with cloth diapers can be the straw that reduces me to tears in a corner.

So we've been using disposables a lot. And I'm discovering that they are REALLY expensive. Thus an advertisement in BabyTalk caught my eye - diapers ordered online, with free shipping and no sales tax, for less than they cost at Target and Walmart. That is the pitch, anyway. Does anyone have any experience with this company (www.1800diapers.com)?

Anyway, I think that I'm going to try them out. They accept coupons if you mail them to them in advance, and while their prices don't quite compare to Sam's Club generics, I think that it might be worthwhile to pursue particularly if I can scrounge up some coupons.

Now, for those of you who might also be interested: if you use this code (EMMX2362) when you order, you will get $2 off your order. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'll also get a $1 credit each time you order. Which could add up, you know! So if you want to try this store out, you can feel quite good about your decision because you'll also be helping this grad school family maintain sanity and budget. :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yay me!

I just cut Gabe's hair for the second time. The first attempt had a decent result, but not what he normally asks for at the barber shop. This attempt resulted in - wow - a really good haircut!! And I know how I did it, too, so hopefully I'll be able to repeat the success. :)

It took 30 minutes and saved us $14. I figure $28/hr. is a pretty decent wage for a stay-at-home mom!

Yay me. :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cats

If I have to read Mog's Family of Cats one more time, I think I'm going to turn into a cat. A spitting, screeching, caterwauling cat.

That book is going back to the library TOMORROW. :)

Long days

There is something to be said for eight or nine hour days.

On the days that Gabe goes to work, my morning starts around 7am when he leaves. I'm "on duty" until he comes back home, at which point I generally crash and inform him that Jonathan is his son. ;) Anyway, I realized today that always, every day, around 2pm or 3pm I start checking the clock and counting the hours. It is like being at work and knowing that 5pm is getting closer - it gives you a bit of lift just knowing that you're almost done.

But at 2pm, I still have five hours to go.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An apologetic for staying

I go to a loving, growing, Biblically based, fantastic and conservative Episcopal church. Yes, I know that sounds strange. Given all the rotten things that are happening right now in the national church, and thus causing problems in the worldwide Anglican communion, there has been much discussion lately about whether conservative Christians should stay within our wonderful conservative Episcopal parish, or leave in protest of the wider doings of the national leadership. They are good discussions, and good questions, and big problems. Recently a friend of mine wrote an apologetic for leaving. (I tried to link to it, but I couldn't find the original post on her blog.) It was really good and made me think a lot, and this was the result. I make no claims that mine is as well written! But I do think that it might be worth saying. So here it is. An apologetic for staying.

I’m a protestant. I believe that there are times when you must put your foot down and say “this is heresy and cannot stand.” I also believe that history has shown that leaving the church to make your point about heresy only makes a bad situation worse. Look at the proliferation of little “denominations” (and “non-denominations”, for that matter) that have resulted from the Protestant Reformation. The splintering of God’s holy people in such a way is in direct opposition to Christ’s prayer “that we all may be one.” Instead of battling it out within the church (think: Arius vs. Athanasius) we have dismantled the church to the point where it is hardly recognizable. Now instead of having our fight and having it done, we have hundreds of denominations, many denouncing each other and crying “heresy” all the more. This is not a good result.

Martin Luther knew that leaving the church was not a good idea. He stayed until the church forced him out (granted that he was particularly inflamatory and you can hardly blame the church for not liking him!) and it was his followers who created the “denomination” as we know it.

The Episcopal church has “erred and strayed like lost sheep”. It makes me sad and angry and sometimes horrified to learn what our leadership has done and continues to do. We have gone our own way and spit in the eye of those who tried to direct us back to truth – all in the name of “listening to the Holy Spirit.” I cannot believe how patient God has been with us.

But there is good news as well. The Episcopal church has been in a steady decline for decades. Those of liberal theology are aging and not reproducing themselves; churches are slowly emptying and unable to pay the bills. The liberal church is dying by its own choices. Contrast this with Blessed Sacrament, a bastion of orthodoxy and adherence to the gospel. Here we find over fifty college students and recent graduates, drawn to the fullness of the faith. Here we find more than thirty young families, just starting out, many with multiple small children. Here also we find the elderly, a vibrant part of church life and ministry, giving their wisdom to the younger families. This is not a dying church – we are alive and growing; evangelizing and raising up children. This church which stands firmly on the solid rock of Christ’s Gospel is drawing more to Him than those churches which preach “love” without discipline, “acceptance” without commitment, and “tolerance” without truth.

Liberal theology will fail. It may take many more decades, but it can’t stay on the path it is on and continue forever. I want to be there when we’re the majority again.