Thursday, March 29, 2007

More on toddler catechizing

This morning during breakfast Jonathan and I had a theological conversation. It was sparked by a little snow globe creche that never got put away after Christmas. :)

Jonathan: "Jesus loves me...Bible tells me so."
Emily: (thrilled that all those repetitions of "Jesus loves me" are paying off!) "That's right, Jesus loves you."
Jonathan: "On the cross..."
Emily: "Yes, Jesus died on the cross because he loves us."
Jonathan: "Water on it?"
Emily: "Are you talking about Thomas' baptism?"
Jonathan: "Yeah!"
Emily: "Thomas was baptized, and so were you."
Jonathan: "Water on it."
Emily: "Do you know why you were baptized?"
Jonathan: *puzzled look*
Emily: "So you could be part of Jesus' family."
Jonathan: "Jesus loves me."

So neat! I've been wondering for awhile if Jonathan just thought that "Jesus" meant "church" (that is usually how he uses the word) but I guess I was wrong - he just has a correct association with church!

And while we're on the subject, Jessica has a great post up about her own toddler's catechism. You can read it here, and oh boy is it worth reading!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The world goes not well

...but the Kingdom comes!

WFMW - baby "book" boxes

When I brought Jonathan home from the hospital, I carefully saved all the little mementos that came with him. His hospital bracelet, the little hat he wore first, the cute "it's a boy" tag that graced his bed. I kept all the "welcome little one" cards and the balloon and little teddy bear. A few weeks later, I added his baptism candle and certificate to the pile.

I had the best of intentions. I had a darling baby book that I was going to fill out in detail. I was going to be the perfect mother, you know!

Well, he's about to turn two years old, and that pile of memories was still just that two days ago - a pile, stuffed into a drawer. I remembered it because he opened the drawer and pulled it all out! :)

Realism hit: I am not that "perfect" scrap-booking mother. (Where did I get the idea that I had to scrapbook to be perfect, anyway??) Creating gorgeous baby books just isn't my style! But I do care about the memories. So my solution is to make "baby book boxes". I picked up two photo boxes from Michaels. They're reasonably sturdy, cute (blue stripes) and just about the right size. Buy one with those 40% off coupons they're always sending, and they only cost $2.59 each!

Memories preserved, with minimal fuss. Works for me!

For more good ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Phone calls

Jonathan is walking around, red plastic phone held to his ear, engaging in the following conversation:

"Hi there Daddy"

"How're you doing?"

"Are you working?"

"Come home."

Grocery game update

Some of you have been curious as to how this is working out over a longer period of time, so I thought I'd try to post updates every now and then.

Monday is my Vons shopping day. Yesterday's trip was a pretty basic shopping trip - canned goods, juice, chips (at Gabe's request), graham crackers, cheese, get the idea. Not a large trip because I'm going once a week, so I don't have to buy a lot at a time.

All but one item were on a Vons sale, because that's pretty much the way I shop. If it isn't on sale, why buy it? :) I used 8 coupons, 7 of which Vons doubled.


Original price: $47.32
Sale price savings: $17.08
Coupon savings: $9.81
Total paid: $20.43

The happiest part is that Vons let me use a store coupon AND a manufacturing coupon on the chips Gabe wanted, so they actually ended up paying me 12 cents to take them home. :)

Monday, March 26, 2007

New look

Susie over at Bluebird Blogs did this new design for me, and I love it! I highly recommend her service if you're thinking of re-doing your blog. She's friendly and easy to work with and I'm fairly certain that she can read your mind, too. ;)

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Sorry about the links in the Spring Reading Thing post...they're fixed now. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring Reading Thing

As promised, here is my list of books that I'll be working on during the Spring Reading Thing that Katrina is so kindly hosting. Katrina writes at Callapidder Days, and it is a fun blog, so you should hop over there and wander for awhile.

Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman
Bringing up Boys by James Dobson
A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot (re-read)

Straight Up by Lisa Samson
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature by Benjamin Wiker and Jonathan Witt

To Jonathan
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Poems to read to the very young selected by Josette Frank
Llama llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
(these are his current favorites - I'll also be reading a few new books from the library each week!)

If something is either really great or really awful, I'll try to write at least some sort of review. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Episcopal sorrow

Having read through this (statements coming from the recent meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops), I wonder if there is any way at all for the rift in the Anglican Communion to be healed. Particularly since the HOB steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that there is any real problem - it is all simply a misunderstanding, and if everyone else would just listen and have real dialogue they're sure everything would be cleared up immediately. Not that they intend to change one single bit.

The HOB actually has the arrogance to claim that they "cannot accept what would be injurious to this Church and could well lead to its permanent division." Only they're not talking about ordaining homosexuals, or women, which most certainly IS injurious to the church...they're talking about "breaking relationships". How is it possible that they not see: this is exactly what they are doing???

Further, they write that they "proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church."

Last I checked, that wasn't the Gospel.

I knew that things were bad, but I didn't know that they were this bad.

Lord Jesus, please save our church.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Toddler kisses

are the cutest things EVER. Jonathan's latest attempt involves touching slightly opened lips against my cheek and then saying "mwa!" as he pulls away.

I'm about to melt into a puddle of sappiness. ;)

WFMW - grocery shopping

I used to be a "cherry picker" shopper. Back in the days before kids, I'd search the sale flyers for the best deals, then drop by a store on my way home from work. Or I'd shop at three or four stores on Saturday morning. Because, you know, it didn't take that long! Yes, indeed, that was before children.

After Jonathan was born, I kept shopping that way. Only now I didn't have a car most days during the week, so all the shopping happened on Saturday. And it took twice as long. Which meant that weekends always felt rushed and too full and with too little time to be with my husband and just enjoy being a family. To be honest, I hated doing it that way, but I didn't see a way around it. I just couldn't justify paying $1.89 for the celery at Vons when it was on sale for 99 cents at Albertsons that week. Not on our limited budget, anyway.

Then came Thomas. Amazingly, I think I've actually learned something about accepting my limitations. :) Because a few weeks before Thomas arrived, I spent some serious thinking time considering how I was going to handle grocery shopping with two kids and a car only on Monday, Thursday, and weekends. On the one hand, our budget is just as limited as it has been for the last two years. On the other hand, the reality is that I can't shop at Sam's Club, Vons, Ralphs, Albertsons, AND the Ranch Market just to stretch our dollars as far as possible. I hear that hospital bills for the certifiably insane are pretty steep. :)

Our solution, so far, is a good one. We found an online discount broker for newspapers, and bought a year's subscription of weekend papers for 99 cents a week. The paper is a nice side effect - we bought it for the Sunday coupon inserts. Then I signed up for The Grocery Game. For $1.25 a week, I get a list of everything that is on a good sale at Vons, along with the coupon that I ought to combine with it to get an even better price. Each item is color coded to tell me if it is a decent price, a good ("stock-up") price, or if the item will be free with the coupon.

I love it.

The time saved is tremendous. No clipping tons of coupons and trying to keep them all straight and match them up with sales. No guessing if today is the best day to use the coupon, or should I save it until next week? I clip only the coupons that I'm planning to use that week, and I know that I'm using them at the best time. I'm only going to two stores: Vons and Sam's Club. And an unexpected but lovely benefit? I know the store layout. Before I used to get frustrated looking for items and backtracking through stores, because Vons and Ralphs and Albertsons were all laid out just a bit differently. But now, with just one store, I can put my coupons in order, start at one end and finish at the other, and never backtrack at all. This is a beautiful thing, particularly when you have a crying infant and frustrated toddler in your cart along with the food!

In terms of time and sanity saved, this has been a good choice. And as for the budget? I think we're coming out just about even, or a little ahead. The paper and the grocery game subscription are budget additions. Also, produce costs quite a bit more at Sams and Vons than it does at the Ranch Market. But knowing when to stock up on yogurt so you get it for free, and toilet paper so it costs 19 cents, is a pretty significant savings. I'm not doing a week to week break-down of cost (it would take too much time!) but I do intend to take a look at our grocery spending each month and make sure that we're doing ok. So far we're coming out a tad ahead.

You do have to be careful not to buy something just because you have a coupon. Because, you know, there are coupons for a lot of things that you don't need! I do a mental check three times: once when I cut the coupons, once when I walk in the store and put them in aisle order, and once when I'm putting my items on the counter to check out. If I wouldn't normally put it on my list without a coupon, it shouldn't be in my bag on the way out the door. Exceptions to that are when it is free or something we'll use/enjoy for less than $1. For example, this week I bought Quaker Granola Bites (a snack food) for 25 cents. Normally that would not have been on my list, but a whole box of snacks for less than the cost of a candy bar? That is worth it to me.

Yesterday's trip to Vons (a small stop-in, since we did a full grocery run last week) resulted in this receipt:

Original total: $13.39
Club savings: - $3.42
Coupon savings: - $7.69
Total paid: $2.28

So: A discounted Sunday paper, a Grocery Game subscription, and only shopping at one main grocery store. It works for me!

Want more great ideas? Visit Shannon!


You know those infant eyes that look at the world with such innocent wonder? I could look into them forever. Only I have a toddler calling my name, so I can't. I think that wonder-filled look is the one that I most wish I could capture in a photo.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Best comic EVER

Right here.

God's presents

I got two of them today.

First: I was asked if I'd be willing to give voice lessons. To a very sweet teenager who is actually very interested. She'll come to my house for 30 minutes on Saturday morning, so actually doing it, even with two kids, will (wonder of wonders!) be simple.

The reason that this is a present from God is twofold. For one thing, I love music and I love singing and I love teaching, and this opportunity has sent my brain into musical high gear and I am thoroughly enjoying it. :) But the real reason is that up until now I haven't tried to get students or pursue teaching voice because, well, I've been scared. Some sort of combination of false humility and feeling inadequate and just being scared to go out and advertise myself, because, you know, what if I ended up being awful? Having someone ask is totally different from going out and advertising myself. And besides, if I'm honest and try really hard to stop being scared, I remember that I'm a darn good teacher. My choir students liked me and they learned a lot and we had some great results. And some of the kids who I coached, after school, for honor choir auditions actually got in. So. I guess this feels like both a gift and a little tiny kick in the pants. :)

The second gift (which also showed up this afternoon) came in the form of a check. A very large check. Evidently last year our estimated property taxes (which we pay throughout the year into an escrow account) were estimated quite a bit higher than they actually ended up being. So all that extra got returned to us, in a very unexpected lump sum. Now, that would be pretty cool all by itself. But it gets better. See, last night I'd been stressed about how we were going to pay for a couple of large bills that had come up (one for the hospital stay for Thomas' birth, and one for the life insurance that I'd forgotten about!) I wish that I could say that I'd promptly committed that anxiety to God...but that wouldn't be truthful. Instead, let me simply praise his abundant mercy - he answered my prayer without my praying it. Even more awesome? This morning in church, Gabe had asked God to give us more money, so that we would be able to give more...and that check that we opened today had actually arrived yesterday afternoon. God had answered his prayer even before he asked it!

Doesn't he give us good presents?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I've been going through the last year of digital photos on the computer. This morning Jonathan walked over and watched for a minute, then grinned and proclaimed himself: "Too cute!!!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More on language

A few more language acquisition gems for you:

"Ride a top airplane?"

"Make a flowers!" (while playing in the garden with a trowel)

If he hands something to Gabe and says “thank you Daddy” that means Daddy is supposed to say “thank you”.

Then there are the strange grammatical theories that he's developing:

"Hold the Mommy Thomas." = "Mommy is holding Thomas."

"Hold the Daddy." = "Daddy, hold me."

"Take a daddy hand away." = "Daddy, take your hand away."

"Hold Mommy that?" = Hold that, Mommy.

These are becoming less and less frequent, though, and I'm finding myself sort of missing them, even as I enjoy his new skills. He's growing up so fast, and as cliche as it sounds, I do find it bittersweet.

Nice day

This morning the four of us went to It's A Grind (a local coffee shop). We've been doing that a few times a week, lately, and I love it. Gabe works there in the mornings when he doesn't drive to San Bernardino, and for the first hour or so J and T and I join him. It is nice to get out of the house for a bit, and get a tad more time with Gabe (even if he's working, we're still with him). Jonathan enjoys being in a different place just enough for me to have the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee, read morning prayer, and maybe write a card or two or read a chapter of my current book. Once Jonathan gets antsy, which is usually about an hour after we get there, we do a few errands and then head home to change diapers, get a snack, and nurse Thomas.

It really does begin the day well. This morning once we got home has been spent in nursing Thomas, playing outside with Jonathan, and most recently, a puzzle extravaganza.

Thomas helped us out by sleeping in his swing:

And oh boy, did Jonathan ever have fun!

Monday, March 12, 2007

In the midst of it...

Living life as a family of four has made it difficult, I'm finding, to blog about life as a family of four. I've been faithfully jotting notes to myself to blog about thus and such...and then a week goes by and I still haven't done so! But I'm going to snatch a minute now to give you all some highlights.

Jonathan's big thing right now is language. I find myself pausing many times a day, amazed, realizing just how much he's learning and how incredibly fast he's learning it. He is using complete sentences more and more often, and he's also imitating our speech patterns. For example, if something goes wrong around the house he'll sadly say "too bad". Or a few days ago I heard him say to his brother "Look at you, Thomas" - in the exact tone pattern that I use. A few days ago he looked up at me and sweetly asked "how 'bout some music?" And this morning, while carefully placing his cars and trucks end to end, he said "Let's make a car train!" These are just a few notable examples...every day he speaks more and more like a child and less like a toddler.

Thomas continues to be a sweet, lovable, laid back baby. He sleeps for 3 to 4 hours at a stretch during the night, which makes his parents very happy! He has his fussy moments, of course, but is often content just to watch the world during the day. He seems to like looking at Jonathan, particularly when Jonathan is being sweet and "sharing" his cars and trucks. (He puts them in Thomas' lap and informs me that he's "sharing" with the most angelic smile on his face!)

At one month old, Thomas has gained a lot of weight. I'm not sure exactly how much, but I'm guessing he's well over 9 pounds now, since he was 8 lbs 6 oz at 10 days old. He nurses like a champ - he's very effective and can finish quickly (a blessing, since Jonathan doesn't particularly like having me nursing and unable to be at his beck and call!) Thomas is becoming quite adept at holding up his own head. He's also becoming more responsive to our voices and will often make faces or (occasionally) smile for us. I really like the time after Jonathan is in bed to just snuggle with Thomas and enjoy his own sweet personality.

And now for a few pictures:

Thomas' first bath

A few pictures of Jonathan's favorite pastime since it has been so warm outside.

And last but not least - don't you keep your porpoises in the dryer?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

and to bed we go...

with a mimi (blanket), one shoe, and one hot wheels truck. Important items indeed, particularly when the plan is to "wake up!" immediately.

Reading fun

Katrina over at Callapidder Days (don't you just love that name?) is hosting the "Spring Reading Thing" - which is exactly what it sounds like. If you like reading, head on over there and get involved! Get some good ideas (I already have; check out last fall's "Fall Into Reading" if you don't know where to start) and then share your own reading plans. Last fall I didn't participate on my blog, but I read a few of the books that were read and recommended, and they were very good. (If you're wondering, they were "Jewel" by Bret Lott, and "The Quotidian Mysteries" by Kathleen Norris.)

I'll be thinking about my own list for this spring and sharing it in a few days. And if I lose my resolution somewhere in the newborn fog, and forget to post, someone please remind me, ok?

Friday, March 09, 2007

I needed to hear that...

Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer posted a quote from an Elizabeth Elliot devotional today. You can read it at her site here.

Having woken up with another cold (another!!) and feeling like the day was too much for me to handle...this was exactly what I needed to hear.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

WFMW - counter organizer

We have been blessed with a kitchen that is rather small. Mind you, I'm not complaining, because the small kitchen also has a window over the sink, which is the one little "extra" that I asked God if he'd mind giving me when we were house hunting. God is kind to us mommies, isn't he?

Anyway, counter space is a precious commodity around here, as is cupboard space. A few months ago, I got tired of always having to dig through a pile of bread, snacks, cereals, onions, and potatoes on the hutch counter. Here is the result:

That little wire double shelf has made all the difference. It is actually advertised as an under-sink organizer, but the white wire baskets lend a clean and organized look to the counter, as well. And I love the fact that my bread no longer gets lost (i.e. squished) under the potatoes!

Works for me!

Oh, and the pretty roses? Those were a welcome back gift from my husband after my trip this weekend. They work for me, too. :)