Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Candy Candy Candy

Phoebe and I have played countless games of Memory over the past few months. She loves playing games, and she particularly loves the undivided attention she gets during game play. So to add to our board game library, Michael and I purchased her the preschool board game classic, Candyland.

It's really the perfect game for her right now: simple, colorful, and pretty fast-paced. What I didn't think about was the allure of all the candy all over the board. Also, since it's been at least two decades since I've even looked at Candyland, I'd forgotten that the game has special "fancy" cards that move you all over the board. Fancy pink cards with candy on them.

Exuberant does not even begin to describe Phoebe as she plays this game. Every card she turns over and every move she makes brings untold excitement. The first night we really played, she would wait to turn over her card and would say dramatically, "Is it a faaanncy one? I don't know... let's see...." She waited in suspense every single time! And when she did get a fancy card? Nevermind if it brought her all the way back to the beginning... she could hardly contain herself!

Last night, Mops was in town for the night. I had already described our Candyland excitement and insisted that Mops had to experience it for herself. So after Nora went to bed, Phoebe got to stay up and play with the three grown-ups. Phoebe was over-the-top delightful! She jumped for joy, squealed, and practically knocked the board over when she was the owner of a fancy card. And to top it off, Phoebe creamed the rest of us -- not that winning mattered to her! Right now, Candyland is all about the experience...and man is it a fun one!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How Great is the Love

Michael and I had a ridiculous amount of fun choosing gifts for our girls. We carefully planned each gift in hopes that each of them would receive maximum delight on Christmas morning. We actually giggled to each other, thinking about how much fun they'd have with their gifts. We know them well, so choosing good gifts was really a cinch; and truthfully, they really have been delighted with the gifts they have received. (Phoebe has declared her gifts "wonduhful!")

In thinking about all of these things, I kept coming back to these verses:
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:11-13
God, our Heavenly Father, knows us so intimately; he even knows the number of hairs on our heads! He gives abundant, overwhelming gifts - more than we could even dream of asking for! And I think it brings Him great, great delight to give them to us, even though we don't deserve any of them. Because of his great love...

I love this picture because of the shirt Phoebe is wearing. If you can't read it, it says, "How great is the love..." (which is the beginning of 1 John 3:1, "How great is the love the father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God." ) And of all the gifts the Father delights in giving us, His greatest delight is the gift of his Son, at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nora is 14 Months Old...Give or Take

Our little Norabelle seems to have turned into a toddler overnight! She seems determined to turn herself into quality big sister material before her little sister arrives in March. And while it kills me that this is late (really, really late, especially since I didn't update at thirteen months), I need to get this down before I forget what a precious little love she is at this age.

At 14 months, Nora...
  • has six teeth...I think. I haven't dared to check the remaining two up top that want to come in, but last I checked, they weren't!
  • has bid farewell to her bedtime bottle (and milk, too).
  • is taking a shorter nap in the morning (about an hour) and a longer afternoon nap (usually about two hours). If her morning nap is too long, she'll struggle with the afternoon nap... but I'm definitely not ready to give up that morning nap for good!
  • is finally walking! Nora's been taking steps for the past several weeks, but she preferred crawling as her primary mode of transportation. Seemingly overnight (about a week ago), she made the switch to walking and is now walking everywhere. She's very proficient, and is getting pretty fast, too!
  • adores her Daddy. Really. She has Daddy Radar and locks on the second he gets home...and really, really doesn't want to let him out of her sight or grasp for the rest of the night.
  • will repeat several words, and will occasionally use them independently. Some words include "Dada", "Mama", "duck", "Jake", "up", "uh-uh-uh-oh", "cracker" and "book".
  • uses signs for please, thank you, more, all done, eat, and milk.
  • has just started loving baby dolls, and can often be found feeding a baby her bottle and trying to push the stroller around.
  • also loves to play with the MagnaDoodle, play kitchen, and anything that Phoebe happens to be playing with at that moment.
  • loves to read, and will sit still for as many books as we will read to her. She's pretty specific about the books she wants (and will bring them to you in the order she wants them!), but is also open to new books. She will now sit for slightly longer picture books, and has particularly enjoyed Little Critter and a Jan Brett book from the library.
  • wants very much to be a helper, and tries to help with laundry and dishes whenever she can. She also can't wait for Phoebe to pass her the Jake-feeding torch, but we're waiting until Nora no longer tries to eat the food with Jake.
  • hates to be alone and is very sensitive to discipline.
  • is hilarious, and really tries to make us laugh. Her tricks for yesterday included going to "sleep" on command (laying down) and playing along with the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Nora's always up to something!
We love, love, love our little Nora. She is so different from her sister, and she is so much fun! We're thrilled that God has blessed us with such a sweet Belle and are equally excited to see her grow in this new stage of toddlerhood!

Friday, December 4, 2009

On Joy

If you've ever been to my house at Christmas, you've seen a large painting above my fireplace that looks, well, a lot like the one perched on our kitchen table tree. I painted it when I was pregnant with Phoebe, and it is by far my favorite Christmas decoration. It's a 2'x3' reminder to be joyful. (Sometimes I think it needs to be billboard sized, just to get the message into my thick skull. Do you ever feel this way?) Every January, it hurts a little bit to take it down...and I always look forward to getting it out when the decorating begins.

This year, Phoebe was helping me decorate when I pulled the painting out from behind the crib. Phoebe was amazed (as has been her precious response for all Christmas decorations this year), but was especially delighted to know that her Mommy had painted it all by herself. Phoebs immediately wanted to paint one just like it (but in pink, of course). And since I happened to have a small canvas available, I happily obliged.

Phoebe did a beautiful job on her painting, and she was adamant that it need to hang on our Jesse Tree in the kitchen. So now, I have not one but two bold reminders to seek after joy this Christmas season. And since I spend about 80 percent of my waking hours in the living room or the kitchen, I'm seeing these reminders all day long. (See? Sometimes God does send us billboards...)

Last Christmas season, joy was hard for me to find. I wasn't sleeping at night, I didn't have the energy to "do" Christmas, and I was struggling with what I now think was some postpartum depression. I wanted desperately to feel the joy of Christmas, but I mostly came up emptyhanded.

I began this Christmas season determined to choose joy. And it was easy, at least at the start. Joy was all over the faces of my girls as they marveled at Christmas lights and trees and ornaments and music. My heart has been more at rest this Christmas. It's easy to be joyful in the loveliness of Christmas, isn't it? But enter a little trial, and I'm ready to let the grumbling creep in.

I've struggled with back and hip pain with all of my pregnancies, but this pregnancy has been the worst by far. Sciatic nerve pain has hit earlier and harder, and I'm feeling pretty sidelined right now. I threw myself a little pity party about it yesterday, and then today I am confronted by the verse in my kitchen leftover from Thanksgiving (yes, my chalkboard still says Happy Thanksgiving):

"In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

And then, I saw Phoebe's pint-sized joy painting that gave me an extra large hit of conviction. It reminded me of this verse:

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..."
James 1:2

Being thankful in everything. As in, in the middle of back pain. In the middle of a whiny car ride home. In the middle of a sleepless night. In the middle of dust bunnies and diaper blowouts and skipped naps. And then? Choosing joy in the midst of trial. It's not the Christmas Joy I was thinking of, honestly... but perhaps it's just the joy I need the grace to choose this Advent season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

On Bodily Functions

The other night, I was straight up exhausted. Michael had to go out after dinner to do some work and Nora's nights were still pretty rotten, so I begged off dish duty and Michael graciously sent me to bed to rest for a half hour or so before he had to leave.

Phoebe was playing with babies while Michael cleaned up the kitchen, and this was the conversation I overheard:

Michael: Oh, Phoebe! Are you feeding your baby some juice?
Phoebe: Yes!
Michael: What happens to juice after the baby drinks it? Do you need to change her diaper?
Phoebe: No, I think she throw up.

I couldn't help but crack up from my bed. That, my friends, is a sign there's been too much throw up in the house. We so thank the Lord that that stomach bug is gone. (It's been gone for a while...but really, we talk about throw up at least once a day now.) I'm praying we see no more throw up for, well, a very long time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where's the Bunny?

Today's been a bit of a down day. Nora threw up on me - and my shoes - before breakfast today, and it sort of put me in a sour mood. But this picture made me happy. And naptime is really no small blessing on days like today. So here's a little happy for my heart - and possibly for yours, too.

(Can you find my little sick Bunny under all those babies?)

Also, help is needed:
Assuming no one is puking on Monday (please, please Lord...), one of Michael's clients is going to be doing family portraits for us. These will be our Christmas card pictures, but she's also doing a full session - family, just the girls, etc. I don't want to do "Christmas clothes", since I want these to be some all-purpose pictures for us to enjoy. What do we wear? Oh please, someone, help me here. Specifically, what do I wear... please advise!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Plague

It all started innocently enough. Michael and I both came down with "the crud", but the girls managed to stay healthy. It was never enough to knock us completely off our feet, but it was really annoying to have to haul around the tissue box and a pack of cough drops for two weeks.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe, the girls had some built up immunity that would carry us through cold and flu season.


Shortly after that little thought crossed my mind, a stomach virus (both girls, though significantly shorter in Nora) set up camp for ten straight days. On day six (or was it seven?) of all that, Nora came down with the mother of all colds, leaving her absolutely miserable and unable to sleep. Mops galloped down the interstate to lend a hand, and I literally don't think we could have survived these past few days without her. We know she sacrificed a lot to come be with us, but it sure was a sweet (if somewhat sleep deprived) time! (The stomach virus is trying to make a return in Nora, but I'm still holding out hope that it's just something she ate.)

I'm hoping that the plague will be lifting soon; the thing about these kinds of illnesses is that they do end, eventually. I'm so very thankful that this is all we're dealing with right now...nothing chronic, nothing serious. God is both gracious and merciful to us, even in the midst of all of this yuck.

And for that? I'm pretty thankful.

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seeking Light

Yesterday, Phoebe woke from her nap delighted to discover a tiny rainbow atop our coffee table. She in fact found several rainbows, little spectra bouncing about our front rooms, thanks to a prism in the glass of our front door. She chased them, tried to grasp them, and giggled when she spotted them on her hands or dress.

After several minutes, we bid farewell to the rainbows. (I wanted to get the girls outside before we had to bid farewell to the sunshine as well.) I promptly forgot about them, thinking instead about the afternoon's agenda or perhaps the route we'd take for our walk.

Today, Phoebe woke ready to see the rainbows again. She bounded out bed talking about her colorful little strips of light, just knowing they'd be there. I gently mentioned that the rainbows were a special treat for yesterday, that we couldn't expect to see them again today.

Yet there they were. I'd have missed them altogether, scooting the girls out the door again for a walk, had she not been looking for them. Her joy matched that of yesterday, and she squealed when she discovered them: on her purse, on Mommy, on the desk. She was looking for the light, and she found it.

All too often, I forget to seek the light, to search for the promises held for me. In a hurry, or distracted by a lengthy list of things to do, I fail to slow down and seek His face. I am so thankful for the little ones in this house, who cause me to take pause and to notice...

"Seek and you will find..." Luke 11:9

Monday, November 2, 2009

Little Moments

I keep feeling as if I have nothing to say here anymore, and yet... my days are full of little moments that I want to treasure up, to record for my own delight. And so, here I am. Again.


I had the girls gathered up in my lap this afternoon, just before nap time. Phoebe had chosen a book that both she and Nora would enjoy, and we shared a story together. (Story sharing can be difficult when one of the listeners is a very eager page turner.) And as if to say, "I'm here, too," the third sister kicked and flipped for the entire time we snuggled together. Oh, how I look forward to sharing stories with three little girls!


This morning, Phoebe asked me to sing her a song ("Standin' on the Solid Rock") for the umpteenth time in the past few days. I'm battling a little bit of viral crud and I honestly just didn't feel like it, so I told her that I didn't feel well and that maybe I'd sing some later. Phoebe said, "Mommy, does your heart hurt? You sing from your heart!" And immediately, my excuse was busted wide open. Needless to say, I've not refused her requests for song any more today.

Is anyone else loving this fall weather like we are? It was particularly blustery on the day we went to the pumpkin patch, but we've been delighted by the brisk air and the need for a coat. I am so thankful that God gives us seasons... what a sweet reminder that trials, like the oppressive summer heat, only last for a season.

Friday, October 16, 2009

One Year Old!

Nora, my sweet little baby (at least until March), is already ONE! I think I've been in denial about her growing up... but really, one?! Already? Evidently the seasons march on, even before a mama is ready for them to.

We celebrated Nora's first year quietly - just family, as has become our tradition - but Nora didn't seem to mind, especially since she got to smash cupcakes on two different days! I really cannot get over this little Belle...what a delightful little thing she is!

As is our tradition, here is what our little Nora is doing as a big one year old! Nora:
  • weighs 20 pounds, 5 ounces (35%ile) and is 29inches long (75%ile).
  • is napping twice a day -- an hour and a half (or so) in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. She still generally sleeps about twelve hours each night, although lately we've had some interruptions thanks to new teeth. (Nora has, however, learned to express her opinion about some of her naps; she throws her pacis overboard, and will occasionally even toss the bunny if she's really mad about napping.)
  • is off formula! I'm thrilled that I can have a four and a half month break from buying that expensive, expensive stuff. She does still take a bottle, but inconsistently... I'm not in a big hurry to get her off completely, but her interest is definitely waning.
  • has three teeth, and is working on getting at least two or three more.
  • still loves food, but is starting to get more selective about what she eats and also eats a little more slowly. Her favorite foods are cheese, fruit (especially grapes), green beans, and pasta.
  • says "Mama", "Dada", and "More"... or so I think. (Does anyone else think it's tricky figuring out when they're actually saying these words and not just babbling?)
  • signs "more", "all done", and "please"... but not consistently.
  • can stand unassisted for a short period of time and, as of yesterday, has taken one step! Crawling is still preferred, and she will seldom attempt a step unless she is highly motivated.
  • loves to read, perhaps even more than Phoebe did at this age. She has a long attention span for short books, which means she'll read lots of short books in a sitting. Her favorites are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Barn Book, and anything written by Tom Arma. Nora also really loves touch-and-feel books.
  • has curly hair now! All of a sudden, her hair has really started curling...she even gets these sweet little "wings" over her ears!
  • loves to play with blocks, sort through odds and ends, and to be a part of the action. She hates to be left behind!
  • loves to play peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek.
  • loves to do anything her sister does. We joke that Phoebe is her favorite toy...and it's true!
  • is the happiest baby I know. Really!

Our little "Belle" is such a delight. She is really SO much fun, and it's a joy to spend my days with her (and her sister). We've had a wonderful first year with our happy little love, and I can't wait to see what this next year brings!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Conversation with Phoebe

While Daddy was watching some baseball with Phoebe curled up on his lap:
Michael: Phoebe, what team does Daddy like?
Phoebe: (Thinks for a minute)...the Braves!
M: Good girl! What team does Pops like?
P: Mmmm...Red Sox!
M: Phoebe, what team do you like?
P: (Thinks for a long time)....Phoebe like pink!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nora is 11 Months Old!

Nora, my "itty bitty", is certainly not very itty bitty anymore. A month away from one (!), she becomes more of a little person every day. Since Nora's ten month day fell during my break from blogging, it's been a while since Nora has had an update all to herself. It's amazing how much this little eleven month old can do!

At eleven months, Nora...
  • is a beautiful, predictable sleeper...most of the time. She generally takes a nap in the morning (1.5-2 hours) and a nap in the afternoon (2 hours), and she sleeps about twelve hours at night.
  • has two teeth. I'm hoping she gets about six more this weekend, since she's been a little fussy friend all week. I'm not holding my breath.
  • crawls very fast, cruises on the furniture, and will occasionally stand unassisted (until she realizes that she's doing it). Nora can also walk with a push-walker, but this doesn't seem to be much fun to her.
  • loves to eat! Mealtime is, laughably, a tale of two sisters. I cannot think of a food that Nora doesn't like or won't eat. We gave up baby food...a long time ago. She just wants to eat whatever Phoebe has! (Nora also still takes 4 bottles a day, but if she can get her hands on her sister's sippy cup of milk, she's all set.)
  • talks, babbles, and chirps all day long. The other night, we heard "Daddy" when she was particularly sad... but as far as we can tell, she hasn't said any "real" words yet.
  • signs "more" and "all done"
  • is into everything, which means we are training in full force. Nora understands "no touch" and "no ma'am"... and she is so sensitive to training! (I want to cry right along with her!) After a really tough day yesterday, I'm determined to get her blanket trained - even though that's going to mean we're both crying for a few days!
  • loves to read, especially board books with pictures of babies. She surprised me yesterday by sitting still for most of an Eric Carle book (one of Phoebe's library books), but generally her attention span is two to three short board books.
  • loves water. When bathtime comes along, I can't get her in the tub fast enough. She's also fearless in the pool. Water time is happy time!
  • is starting to experience separation anxiety. When I leave the room, it isn't pretty. Bless her heart, that sweet little lip comes out and she wails. I love that she loves her mommy (and daddy - she does this for him, too), but it breaks my heart to see her so sad about a quick potty break for Mommy!
  • thinks her sister is the best. Wherever Phoebe is, that's where Nora wants to be. Whatever Phoebe does, that's what Nora wants to do. Nora's learning a lot from her big sister!
We sure do love our Norabelle! Happy Eleven Months, Nora...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Third

Yesterday, I sat with a chirping Norabelle in my lap and was overwhelmed with delight in her. What a precious gift she is! She is so different from the sister that she adores, and yet no less wonderful. And at that moment, I could hardly contain my excitement over this newest baby, set to arrive in just six months!

My hands are certainly full -- and will be moreso when the new baby arrives -- but my heart is overflowing with joy. This has been hard to explain to others, who often wonder why on earth we'd want to have three children under three. But when I was reading in Stepping Heavenward a few weeks ago, I came across this passage that was extraordinarily encouraging to me. Since I have a couple of friends who are going through a similar season, I thought I'd share this here...
[They say] I shall now have one mouth the more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music and drawing.
Well! This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers!
from Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss
Yes, little one, you are a welcome gift from God! We can't wait to hold you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It wasn't my intention at first to stay silent for my entire first trimester. But the truth is, I had a more intense trimester than with either of the girls and I found myself with literally nothing to say. Once the sickness hit at six weeks and I started napping for the girls' entire naptime every day, I had to strip down my commitments to the bare minimum. Fortunately, survival mode only lasted about five weeks...and then we went out of town for ten days.

While I've missed recording things here, it was good to take a break. Now that I'm feeling better and (slowly) adding things back into my daily routine, I'm eager to get back to blogging -- at least so I can remember these sweet days that we're in.

Besides...I'm sure all of you have been missing these sweet faces!

It's good to be back!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nora Borrows Her Sister's Clothes

In my last post, some of you were amazed at how big Nora had gotten! She really does look like she's almost as big as Phoebe... and she feels like it, too! (She weighs about five pounds less than Phoebe right now.)

I always wanted a sister growing up so that I could share clothes with someone. Phoebe and Nora are starting this pretty early on. What do you think?

Oh yes. You read that shirt correctly. Nora's also going to be a big sister, just in time for Phoebe's third birthday! I also promise I wasn't telling a fib when I said we were not pregnant; I'd had a couple of negative pregnancy tests that week, in spite of evidence to the contrary. (Evidently I can tell I'm pregnant much sooner than EPT can?)

We went to the OB last Thursday, and my due date is somewhere around March 7. I had an ultrasound, but it was a little too early to detect a heartbeat... this may push my due date a little further towards March 14 (Phoebe's birthday). I'll have another ultrasound next Thursday, so we'll know more then. It was still absolutely wonderful to have a glimpse at our tiny developing baby!

By the way, Phoebe's hoping for another little sister with whom she can share clothes...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


These "Things" have been keeping me pretty busy lately! In the midst of our normally busy life at home, we also have had a couple of viruses, Nora's got an ear infection, and I'm just trying to make sure we're eating and wearing clean clothes. (We are, by the way!) Thankfully, it sounds like those "Things" have finally settled in for their naps... so I'm going to go take one, too, while I still can!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nora is Nine Months Old!

Nine months? Really? These months with our Norabelle have flown by. I don't know if it's having a toddler in the house or what... but it seems like just a moment ago that I was pregnant with Nora. I'm amazed that she has now been here with us as long as she was gestating.

Nora remains our happy little love. She still seems like such a baby to me, where I know at nine months, Phoebe seemed like such a little grownup. I love that Nora still seems so small. (If anyone can figure out a way to keep our babies small for longer...)

And yet, even though Nora is still so small... she's getting bigger by the minute! At nine months, Nora is...
  • starting to move! Nora has not yet perfected her crawling technique (hallelujah!), but she can army-crawl her way across the room. I prayed she would be a late crawler... I'm so thankful that she is! (We started blanket training her yesterday so that I can get some peace. I forgot how Itty Bitties are little magnets for Itty Bitty Whatevers on the floor!)
  • putting herself in a sitting position. This can be frustrating for her at naptime!
  • eating...everything. She prefers table food to baby food, and has gotten really good at the tray-to-mouth motion. I don't think Nora has met a food she doesn't like!
  • taking two good naps each day, and sleeping well at night. She is still rises earlier than her sister... but is there a sweeter way to wake up than to your happy sister?
  • toothless, still. She's gumming hard and seems to be teething... but I'm terrible when it comes to these first teeth. She'll probably get them in September.
  • clapping and signing "more"... although she's inconsistent with the "more" sign, I'm trying to be more consistent about not giving in to her whining for more food.
  • babbling "Dada" and other sweet strings of syllables.
  • generally a happy camper! She gets a little cranky around 5:30... in fact, I've debated moving her back to a 3rd nap and a later bedtime with Phoebe... but for now, we like that she crashes a little earlier than her big sister.
  • in love with her big sister. Phoebe can almost always make Nora happier!
  • loves to be in the water. She gets so excited when the bath starts running, and she LOVES to swim in Nan and Boom's pool!

This past month has been particularly fun with Nora...she is changing so fast! She continues to delight and surprise us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Truth

Last night as we were getting ready to eat dinner, Michael was telling Phoebe about all the people he loved. He'd named all the usual suspects, as you would expect. And then he said,

"Phoebe, who does Daddy love most of all?"

And without missing a beat, Phoebe answered:


May our little girls always know that Jesus is to be loved most of all...

Monday, July 6, 2009


For over a week, Phoebe has talked about getting on Pops' boat and using her pink "fishy" pole. She finally got her wish on Saturday (although the only fishing she did that day was out of a goldfish snack pack). But y'all, I'm beat. More to come when these bags get unpacked and the grocery shopping is done.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


About a month ago, my Uncle Steve introduced Phoebe to a new friend. I wasn't sure what Phoebe would think of this new friend; she is, well, a little different. But much to my surprise the girls became fast friends, and the relationship has continued to blossom since then.

Meet Karen:

Karen likes taking naps with Phoebe, going for car rides, doing arts and crafts... I'm amazed at how similar their interests are! Sometimes Phoebe decides that she needs a break from Karen for a little while, and she'll conveniently lose her for a few days. Sometimes we'll find her shoved in a couch cushion or under the bed; I really should talk with Phoebe about being kind to her friends.

Karen isn't quite as coordinated as Phoebe, so Phoebe kindly helps her friend out when she needs a hand. Karen will also sometimes keep Phoebe up talking when they should be napping. That's okay, they both fall asleep quickly enough.

Phoebe even wants to dress like Karen. Just the other day, I heard her hunting for a pink belt. Sadly, Phoebe owns no belts -- although I think she should, especially now that her diaper is no longer around to hold up her pants. I'm so glad that Karen is a good influence on Phoebe.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Library Bag Favorites #2

We had another winning library bag this week! Some of our favorites from our most recent trip are (in no particular order):
  • Caps for Sale. I remember seeing this book on Reading Rainbow growing up, and I remember loving it. I wasn't sure if it would be too long for Phoebe, but she loves hats... and she loves monkeys... so it was a sure-fire win. She's chosen it several times for our bedtime read, and she's even tried to read it to Nora. (Nora was, by the way, more interested in the book jacket.) It's a classic worth reading; we'll probably be buying a copy.
  • Hooray for Fish. Oh fish, how we love thee...especially this week, since Phoebe got to watch Finding Nemo last weekend. I love the vivid illustrations of the fish and the unique fish pictured. Smaller children would love this book because there's little text and bold illustrations. Hooray for this book! (This is also by the author of the Maisy books, if you're interested.)
  • Roar! When I opened this book, I dreamed up about six different third grade reading block lessons I could do...but you're probably not interested in why this is a great book for third grade literacy. It was great for Phoebe because of the bright colors, the variety of animals, and the really interesting language used in the text. We learned a lot about animal sounds and movements. And we read it a lot, since I kept it in the bathroom for the first day of potty training. She liked it more the more we read it.
  • Noah's Ark. This is a wordless picture book that is beautifully illustrated. We loved examining the pictures and telling the story of Noah. Phoebe particularly loved noticing little things in the pictures, and it caused her to ask a lot of questions. This would be a great addition to a family library. My favorite part of the book is the opening poem, a sixteenth century Dutch poem about Noah... and God's grace.
  • Put it on the List. Oh my goodness, did I ever empathize with the Mom in this book... except I'm the one guilty of not putting things on the list. Great illustrations, funny little story... and a sweet reminder to write things down so I'm not wandering Target with a hungry toddler and a fussy baby wondering what on earth I was supposed to get.
I should add...if you want a great resource for finding good, age-appropriate children's books, I would highly recommend Honey for a Child's Heart. It's a good overview of why you should have literature in the home, but it is fantastic because of its appendix of high-quality children's literature. It has an emphasis on classics, and the book is written from a Christian worldview. If you're wondering where to start in the library, books like this are a great resource!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Catching Up

My coffee hasn't kicked in yet, especially since I switched it to half-caf last week. But since everyone's dying to know about potty training...and the minutia of our days...I figured I'd throw up a random post to tide me over until I can write something of substance.
  • Michael put together our new grill this weekend. The old one...well, it bit the dust. And then became a nest for some Carolina wrens. I am ridiculously excited about this grill. I'm conspiring to cook everything we eat on it or in the slow cooker in order to keep the house cool this summer.
  • We've been potty training for a week. I arrogantly thought I'd have Phoebe trained in a day, like the book suggested. We all know that pride cometh before a fall, right? We've had some good days and some bad days, but I think she's starting to get the hang of it. Phoebe's biggest hurdle is remembering to go when she's having fun...who wants to go potty when they're watching Elmo, for instance?
  • Nora is everywhere. She's army crawling like a maniac, and seeks out teeny tiny everythings to eat. As soon as I feel more comfortable about this potty training thing, we're bringing out the blanket for some training...post haste!
  • My friends need to stop having babies. I have got the fever something fierce, especially now that Nora seems more like a big girl and less like a baby. Three babies in three weeks... I told one friend that her little sleepy munchkin was making my uterus hurt.
  • The Shred works. Seriously. I went for my annual a couple of weeks ago, and I'd lost fifteen pounds since November. (About half of that was baby weight... but I'm lighter now than I was when I got pregnant with Phoebe.) I'm certainly not teeny, but I'm wearing clothes that I bought the summer before I got married...and some of them are loose. I'm also more toned than I think I've ever been. It's good to know all that sweat is worth it!

We also have some front row seats to some really exciting "God things" right now. It's too early to blog about any of it (no, I'm not pregnant), but we're seeing the answers come to light to some prayers we've prayed for a very long time. God's timing is incredible!

Friday, June 26, 2009


We've been potty training this week, as if you hadn't noticed. Save for a brief hiatus yesterday afternoon when I thought Phoebe was catching a stomach bug, we've been all potty, all the time, since Tuesday morning. Which means that every twenty minutes or so, we're singing songs in the bathroom while Phoebe hangs out on the potty chair.

About eighty-nine percent of my mental energy is expended on potty thoughts. And it feels like that same percentage of my day is spent doing "potty" things: checking, helping, changing, and washing. Which is what I think you're supposed to do when you're potty training.

When I started planning for this week, I figured I would get nothing done. I made peace with my dust and the smudgy kitchen floor, and I planned to work on only my daily minimum. That meant the house wouldn't spiral into total chaos this week, but I wasn't planning to actually clean. Or cook. Or really do anything but potty train. But now that it's Friday, I can look back on this week and see that, to my surprise, I've gotten a lot done.

I'm starting to take advantage of snippets of time -- five minutes here and there -- that add up to a lot getting done, if they're used wisely. In five minutes, I can wash a few dishes, wipe down the counters, and sweep the kitchen. I've found that it only takes about ten minutes to clean my guest bathroom. All those little, nagging chores can be completed in just a few minutes - here and there - to lead to a lot of productivity.

I'm pretty sure I've linked to these messages before... but these messages on time management have really impacted how I use my time during the day. I'm still working through this, and I've listened to these messages several times now, and I have to pray through my schedule and my list several times a day. But to my friends with small children - and to my friends that are looking to just use their minutes a little better - these are a "must listen".

Time Management
Managing your time with Small Children

Now I'm off to go use this snippet of time before the girls wake up!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bigness is Contagious

Phoebe isn't the only one doing big things around here. Nora seems to be getting bigger by the minute, too! It's as if she has caught the "getting big" bug and just wants to join her sister.

In just the last week, Nora has:
  • started babbling (instead of her typical dinosaur screech)
  • started signing "more" very enthusiastically
  • started clapping
  • started waving
  • flipped onto her knees and started rocking... I'm sure she'll be crawling in just a few days!
Nora also got her first taste of "sauce" this week. (Sauce, by the way, is my family's special recipe spaghetti sauce.) She LOVED it, as if any of us were surprised.

It's so much fun to watch babies grow! Whether we're practicing our crawling or potty training, there are some big girls growing up fast in this house!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Notes on Potty Boot Camp, Day One

Today started off a little rocky. Because it was called, "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day", I assumed we'd be completely trained. By tonight. Let's just say my expectations may have been a little high. I also started out extremely stressed out about the whole thing, in spite of my desires for a "fun" day of potty training. By 9:45, I'd had to wash all three (and only three) pairs of training pants I'd bought. By lunch, Michael was having to talk me off the ledge and convince me that we would be sticking with potty training longer than half a day.

I was thrilled when naptime finally rolled around. I took the time to do, well, just about nothing. I prayed for peace, and tried to get my wits about me so that I wouldn't be a raging maniac come bedtime.

And I think something clicked, for both of us. After she woke up, we gave it a few goes. She stayed dry. We had success on the potty. And she continued to stay dry! We made it from the end of naptime to bedtime with no accidents. Although at lunch Phoebe was content to wet her trainers and continue eating, tonight she managed to do the potty dance and avoided an accident. Hooray!

Clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing. But here are some random notes about our first day of potty boot camp:
  • Juice boxes are your friend. Phoebe never gets undiluted juice, much less juice boxes. These were pretty much the best treat ever.
  • Phoebe will do anything for a "Bob Gummy" (a Veggie Tales fruit snack). Really. We have three packs left in a ten-pack box.
  • Buy more than one pack of training pants, unless you want to do three extra loads of laundry.
  • A change of scenery does everyone good. My friend Alicia suggested we move it outside... it was a great place to potty and push fluids. (Was that too much information?)
Tomorrow will be a more "normal" day since Nora will be with us. I'm hoping to ride the success of tonight into tomorrow morning, and con her into eating some of the other fun treats we have in order to stretch those last three packs of fruit snacks.


Phoebe loves to be big. Sometimes, she'll stand up on a chair in the kitchen, stretch her arms above her head, and say, "BIIIIIIIG" in her "big girl" voice. But then, what two-year-old doesn't love to be a little big?

If you've ever had a conversation with me about potty training, you know I've been in no rush. I'm comfortable with diapers, diapering two isn't really that much more difficult than diapering one, and it's much easier to just change a diaper in the van than it is to use a public restroom. I have plenty of reasons that I really don't want to potty train Phoebe.

But Phoebe is ready to be done with diapers.

At least mentally, Phoebe's ready to be rid of the whole changing process. After our most recent bout with staph, she became terrified of diaper changes. Tears, shaky legs, fear... every diaper change has been a major event. But use the potty? No big deal. That, combined with the information from the pediatrician that Phoebe will probably not have these staph issues after she's potty trained, was enough to make me ready. Y'all, staph is horrible.

So today, we're starting potty boot camp. Nora's with Michael's mom and dad all day today... so it's all potty, all the time. I'm praying most of all that Phoebe and I will have fun today, which seems strange -- because I do want potty training to come out of this -- but I want us to laugh and enjoy the process, too.

We're taking the plunge in just about an hour... I'll update at naptime! It's going to be a BIG day!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy (Late) Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day and, although I had the best intentions, I wasn't able to get written any public praise for my sweet husband. That's a little bit how holidays go around our house, I'm afraid -- lots of good intentions, with a slightly sketchy follow through. In fact, Michael had a sort of rough morning yesterday; fortunately, I think his day improved (swimming and steak, anyone?) and we ended well. But honestly... I couldn't let the date on the calendar dictate that my opportunity to tell everyone else about the Daddy under my roof had passed.

When Michael and I married, we didn't think he'd be a Daddy yet. We were planning to wait four years, a reasonable amount of time, to work and save and wait. God had other plans, though -- and we're thrilled that He did. I can't imagine a man more perfectly suited to being a Daddy than my sweet husband.

While some men dread the responsibility of shepherding a family, Michael humbly and nobly shoulders his role. I know that he often feels inadequate... but I know that God has gifted him with an abundance of grace. Michael consistently seeks the Lord's guidance to love and to lead, and he is one that will repent first and love big. In all that he does as a Daddy, he seeks to honor and glorify the Lord.

But Michael is not a stoic Daddy... no way! Michael brings joy and fun to our lives together. While I have to "plan" fun, Michael is the one surprising us with after-dinner treats, jammy rides, and playful Saturday mornings. He's even the one who brought Mary Poppins to our family, while I was the one worrying about tv-overload. I trust him implicitly to decide what's best... and I'm always thankful when I do!

Michael makes tremendous sacrifices to love and serve his family. He specifically cuts off work to spend time with us at night - even though he is ridiculously busy right now. He includes the girls in his work, from backyard maintenance to Sunday morning pancake engineering. (And if you haven't noticed, the help of a two-year-old can be... sweet.) Michael doesn't demand "me time" or "guy time" or "getaway time"; he consistently lays down his own life and desires for his family.

His girls adore him. Phoebe asks, as Michael climbs into his truck each morning, "Dada home soon?" She hates to say goodbye to her Daddy each day as he leaves for work, and waits eagerly at the door (or gate) when she knows he's going to be coming home. Nora lights up at the sight of Michael, "stomping" and smiling until she looks like she could pop. It already sounds like she's going to say "Dada" first, and rightfully so! And of course, you all know how much I adore my husband...

By watching Michael parent, I learn so much about the Father's love for all of us. When I read, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1), I am overwhelmed. Michael - sinful and earthly - lavishes his love on his children... and yet, God's love is even greater than I could even imagine. And it is his great delight to lavish that love, just as Michael delights in lavishing love on his girls.

It is a privilege to Michael grow as a Daddy. Michael, I love you! Happy (late) Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Guest Posting

This week, it seems like I've put my writing energies elsewhere. I wrote a couple of guest posts over at The Centsible Shopper... feel free to go check them out!

Shopping With Small Children, Part One
Shopping With Small Children, Part Two
Easy Publix Meal Plan, Week of June 21

I've felt pretty "off" all week... here's hoping for a renewing weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dressing for Breakfast

It’s not unusual for Phoebe to wake up ready for an accessory. She’s usually been awake for a little while before we come to get her, and she can easily see about thirty-seven different baubles and clips from her vantage point. She generally has her mind made up, and we generally indulge her.

This particular morning, Phoebe woke ready for her tutu. And some clippies, since her hair is a terrific frustration for her, as it flits wildly into her eyes. And so she dressed for breakfast.

There’s something about that poof of pink over those happy rainbow jammies that makes even the brightest bowls of fruity cheerios seem dull, don’t you think?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Swinging In

We've had a long weekend...we made a quick trip out of town, and Phoebe's been battling another staph infection. But we're swinging back into action, and I should be back with some (irregularly) scheduled content soon!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eat Your Veggies

Phoebe has never been what I'd call an "enthusiastic eater". But the other night, as I was getting ready to clear the table, Phoebe asked for more corn. (To clarify, this gourmet corn was leftover frozen mixed veggie blend, purchased for cents.) Never one to deny that little bird "more" of any kind of sustenance (unless that sustenance is chocolate or sugar-laden), I handed her our very fancy plastic serving bowl and the serving spoon.

When I handed her the bowl, there was at least half a cup of veggies in it. When the spoon became too cumbersome, she simply slurped out the remaining nibblets. Unbelievable. I even think she was sad when the veggies were all gone!

It goes to show you... kids love simple foods!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Library Bag Favorites

We've been making twice-monthly trips to the library for, well, a long time. I discovered that our library has an incredible children's area, and I can place requests from any library in our county's system and have them waiting for me within a day or two. We've made some really wonderful discoveries at our local library. Since several of my friends reading this have toddlers and preschoolers, I thought I'd share some of our favorite finds. I'll try to remember to update this as we get ready to return to the library every couple of weeks! All of these books are Phoebe (and often Nora) tested... I cannot vouch for how well these will entertain other children, but we have certainly loved them!

The Franklin Series, by Paulette Bourgeois
There is a television program that is based on these books, and it probably is what sparked Phoebe's interest to begin with. She had seen it a few times, and was delighted to see that there were books about Franklin the turtle. These stories are absolutely charming; as a Mom, I approve heartily. They address sweet, preschooler issues (Franklin's Blanket was my personal favorite), but they're done intelligently. I generally don't mind reading them as many times as they're requested - and they're requested often!

Mole and the Baby Bird, by Marjorie Newman
The illustrations in this book are what sold it for me. This was part of our baby bird library trip, and it's a sweet little story about a mole who rescues a baby bird... but then doesn't want to let him go. The story is good, but the illustrations are really, really wonderful. It's a lovely book for cuddling up at nighttime.

Hattie and the Fox, by Mem Fox
This is a fantastic, repetitive story with all manner of barnyard animals. Mem Fox is one of my favorite authors for young children (we also loved Koala Lou), and I used her often in my classroom. It has a surprising ending that made me giggle out loud; Phoebe loves naming the animals and helping make their noises.

Farmer Duck, by Martin Waddell
A lazy farmer bosses his duck around, who ends up doing all the work. Duck gets mad, his friends get even... Farmer learns a lesson. Phoebe found the duck hilarious... a duck doing farmwork was something unexpected for her, and she was captivated from the beginning. I personally think the illustrations are fantastically done - the detail is great. (Farmer is in bed with bonbons... and a hairy chest.) And Phoebe loved all the other animals, too!

Where is the Green Sheep?, by Mem Fox
I've already said that I love Mem Fox, and this book just confirmed it! This is a very simple book - and repetitive - but Phoebe and I both love it! The illustrations are simple and captivating, and Phoebe can "read" the book with me. It was a fun surprise find at the library; I don't even mind that Phoebe wants to read it a couple of times a day!

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
I remember loving this book as a little girl, but I wasn't sure if Phoebe would be ready for this longer and more subtle book. It's definitely lengthy, but Phoebe quickly loved it. She also understood more of the storyline than I expected, and immediately wanted to read it again when it was finished. This story is charming and timeless. Virginia Burton also writes some other wonderful books that I'll absolutely bringing home in our next library bag.

Whatever the Weather, an Eyewitness Readers book (Level 1)
I'm trying to introduce nonfiction to Phoebe, and this book is perfect for her age and interest! It combines photographs with drawn illustrations, and although it's a nonfiction, it reads like a story about a boy watching the weather from his window. I've also been thrilled with the other books in this series that I've checked out, although I can't remember their titles now that they're checked back in!

No Roses for Harry, by Gene Zion
We loved Harry the Dirty Dog, but I didn't know that there were other Harry books until our last trip to the library. This story is a riot. In short, Harry is gifted a rose sweater from grandma that he rather dislikes. The story chronicles Harry's attempts to "lose" the sweater. Utterly delightful!

We try to get to the library at least once every two weeks, so I'd love to hear about any books you've loved to add to our library bag!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nora at 8 Months

Our little Norabelle is eight months old today! Last week at VBS, the nursery workers couldn't get over how ridiculously happy she is -- even when she skipped her morning nap! We're glad to know we're not the only ones who think she's the happiest baby on the block. Really, Nora is generally all smiles unless she's hungry or it's 6:15 and she's just trying to make it to her meal. What a great delight it is to be her mommy! At eight months, Nora is:

  • Sleeping about twelve hours at night and about four hours during the day for naps. Sometimes she ends up taking two naps that are two hours in length each, while some days she takes a shorter (1 1/2 hours) morning nap and a longer afternoon nap. If we're out and about, she has a really hard time napping. This is just another reason we're trying to limit our days out of the house.
  • Eating everything in sight. She takes four to six ounces of formula about every four hours, and she eats solid foods at her first three meals. I cannot think of a single food that Nora will not eat; she seems to love it all right now! We also give her small bites of table food while we are eating, and this is great fun for her. Nora especially loves her Cheerios and small bites of fruit. She wasn't so certain about today's black bean soup...
  • Trying so hard to crawl. She hasn't figured out how to get up on her knees, and this is incredibly frustrating for her. She can scoot around short distances (forward and backward) and does a 360 degree spin move while on her tummy. She seems to prefer sitting up to being on her tummy, since not being able to crawl is so frustrating.
  • Putting everything in her mouth. Everything. Somehow, she picks fuzz off our living room rug and tries to eat it. Gross.
  • Toothless. I can see her little bottom teeth working their way up the gums, but she's still got a ways to go before they poke through. We're not in any rush! (Phoebe's first teeth didn't come in until 10 months)
  • Not very talkative. She loves to do her best dinosaur impression often, and will screech and squeal... but so far, we aren't hearing much babbling.
  • Loving to play little games. Anything repetetive that gets a clap and a "yay" is a winner for Nora! She loves to knock down blocks, give high fives, try to push the button on my watch, peekaboo... little things like that.
  • In love with her big sister. And her mommy. And her daddy. When she sees one of us, her smile gets so huge that we think her face might pop off!
  • Fanatical about tickles. She LOVES to be tickled. And once that giggle gets going, it's hard to stop.
We are so blessed to have our little Belle bringing sunshine into our everyday! She is a great big delight to all of us -- even Jake! Happy Eight Month Day, Nora!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ruby Slippers

There is no place like home. Really. After four days of being gone for what seemed like all day long, I am thrilled to report that we have nothing of consequence on our schedules for the next several days. Vacation Bible School wore me out and tossed our schedules out the window, so I'm ready for a tiny shred of normal around here.

When Phoebe was small (and there wasn't a Nora around), I tried to get out of the house daily. We both enjoyed our little outings, and it somehow simplified our days. I felt overwhelmed at "entertaining" my busy Phoebegirl, so that was some time that she could ride around in the shopping cart or the stroller and be, well, entertained. Days spent entirely at home seemed interminably long.

But with the arrival of Nora, going out became a chore. But something else happened, too. I started to be content here, at home. I didn't feel a daily need to "escape" our walls and do something; there was plenty to do and explore and learn at home. And I found out that we were all happier when I started staying home more, too.

Phoebe was happier because she knew what to expect. We've generally figured out a routine that works for us, and we generally stick to it. Boundaries are clear for her, and so are the expectations. Meals and naps and independent play and structured play and all that is predictable for her, and I feel like kids really thrive on predictability. Nora's happier because she gets her naps and meals on time when we're at home. When we're away from home? The naps don't so much happen. And Michael's happier for a lot of reasons: I'm not spending money, the house is more "kept", the kids are happier, and most importantly (to him), I'm happier.

And I'm happier because of all of the above... but also because I feel like God has really done a work in my heart here. I'm taking delight - a lot of the time - in the dishes, or in a freshly scrubbed toilet. I'm investing daily in my husband's well-being and my children's lives by doing small things that, prayerfully, add up to big things. God's giving me a new vision for home these days, and it's a work that this former education and career-junkie can only attribute to the Lord.

"...and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2:4-5

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Fave!

Happy Birthday, Aunt Fave! We love you and wish we could celebrate with you today!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gone Camping

I'm spending my week this week as a "camp counselor" for Son Rock Kids Camp at our church this week. Although Michael and I usually work with the kindergarten girls each week, I decided to change things up a bit and work with third grade girls. What a fun switch! My attitude about VBS was less than stellar up until about 9:30 yesterday morning; however, I'm so thankful that I decided to work this year. However, my brain is totally shot.

Also, when the calendar turned to June, the heat wave officially struck. It is hot, y'all. And the thought of cooking (and adding heat into this house) makes me want to go jump in somebody's backyard pool. So in honor of summer and crazy weeks, I'm sharing with you my new favorite slow cooker recipe. It's easy, it's cheap, and it's delicious.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice, serves 4
(adapted from Cooking Light)
You need:
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup dried red beans
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 package of turkey smoked sausage, thinly sliced (you could use andouille here, I'm sure it would taste better, but this sausage is still great!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups of cooked rice
  • sour cream
  • chopped green onions

Mix first 9 ingredients together in your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours. Before serving, stir in remaining seasonings. (Adjust heat to your taste.) Serve over hot cooked rice (we used brown rice) and top with sour cream and green onions. You could also mix everything together, including the rice...but we figured it would be hard enough to get Phoebe to eat this as it was. But actually, Phoebe (who generally doesn't like beans), ate this obediently and joyfully. Michael and I both thought it was delicious!

Also, since I'm pretty much exhausted in the afternoons, we've scrapped our afternoon walk for running around in the backyard. Popsicles and baby pools, anyone?

Happy summer, y'all!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

M is for Mask

Just a little happy for your day...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Down on the Farm

We spent almost a full week up at Mops and Pops' house last week getting ready for the wedding of a good family friend. Mom had a meeting one morning, so I jumped at the opportunity to steal the grandgirls away and visit my friend Allison and her three children out on their family farm. I've known Allison since I was in middle school, and growing up, I always looked up to her. Now that we have children of our own, she is an encouragement to me from afar. Thanks to Facebook, we've had a fun chance to reconnect!

We had a wonderful time catching up, and the kids absolutely loved playing together. Allison's three are simply delightful, and Phoebe fit right in. (Nora attempted to snooze through the bulk of our visit.) Phoebe is such a little country girl at heart! The Lord knows our desires... Although Phoebs was a little disappointed that she wasn't going to be able to ride a dog or a cat (too much Clifford?), she was delighted to spend some time with some real live animals. After Nora settled down for her nap, we walked over to see a few of the animals they had nearby. Phoebe was absolutely thrilled to get to touch a real live donkey! We were also delighted to meet their horses and a few dogs. The cows were content to be cows in their distant pasture, and since Nora was asleep, we decided to stay close by the house rather than venture out to see them.

And can I just say that there is nothing like country fun? In the same area where the horses and donkeys were, there was a small "mountain" of gravel. The kids had a blast climbing up... and sliding down. Phoebe wasted no time in joining in the fun!

Allison had said we should stay for lunch... so we did! What I didn't realize is what a treat we would be having! Allison had prepared some of the Pioneer Woman's shrimp pasta... y'all, your life will change. I came home and told my mom I wanted to eat it for dinner. And for lunch again tomorrow. Maybe even breakfast. If you do not live with someone who is allergic to shellfish, make this pasta. (By the way... shrimp is on sale this week at Publix...)

Phoebe was so disappointed to learn that we would not indeed be heading back to the farm the next morning. In fact, she asks regularly to go to the farm! We're hoping to make a return trip when husbands can meet and hang out...or when those veggies start growing in Allison's back garden, whichever comes first! (Allison, if you notice some corn and watermelon missing...)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Feathers and Lampshades

I generally find myself marveling at what goes on in Phoebe's brain. As a little person, she just doesn't think about things the same way I do; I find her altogether fascinating. Or frustrating, as the case may be.

Lest you think we have this sleeping thing all figured out (we don't, by the way), we've also been having some sleepytime wars with Phoebe. It's as if she simply cannot shut down her brain to settle down to rest. This happens mostly at bedtime, but occasionally this happens at naptime too. She has consistently obeyed us by staying in the bed; however, she has managed to find ways to be disobedient and destructive while still in the bed.

Anything she can reach from the bed is fair game. One morning, we woke up to find that Phoebe had completely emptied a container of wipes (my last in the house) and scattered them all over the floor. (The wipes were on the chest at the foot of the bed.) She's taken pictures off of walls, pulled apart flower petals, and somehow brought toys into the bed. One day a few weeks ago, Michael was home at naptime. After hearing a noise that definitely did not sound like a snoring two-year-old, he went in to discover that she had begun to de-feather her angel wreath. She was busted with feathers in hand and a pile of feathers on the floor.

Last week, Phoebe was settling down for her first naptime at Mops and Pops' house. I was getting ready to have a child-free trip to Target when I heard her playing. I went in to discover that Phoebe had taken two large collage frames off the wall and brought them into the bed with her. But her piece de resistance was the broken lampshade. Somehow, she had managed to remove a lampshade from a nearby lamp and completely shatter it. Shards of plastic from the inside of the shade were everywhere: on the floor, around the table, in the bed. It looked like a boxer had taken a few rounds out on it. We have no idea how my twenty-four pound toddler dismantled it.

Each episode of destructiveness leads to discipline. And y'all, it is so easy to get discouraged by this. (A good friend tells me that she and her husband had to discipline her oldest son at bedtime for an entire year; I'm praying we don't have to deal with this for that long!) I have to believe she doesn't really want to be disobedient and destructive -- it's like she just can't help herself.

Hello, sin nature. Nice to meet you.

I'm reminded that all the discipline in the world can't keep us from our sin nature. We are trusting God and his promises to do a work in our girls' lives, but like Paul (and their parents), they will always struggle with their flesh. We are destructive. We are defiant. And we are desperate.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Romans 7:14-25

Thanks be to God indeed, for delivering us from our bodies of death!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random Catching Up

There are about nineteen separate things that I want to not forget to update right now... but since I only write at very specific times during the day... I'm seeing some of these updates happening sometime mid-2010. So instead, I'm going to knock out these updates in one fell swoop so that we can just move on.

In no particular order...
  • Nora seems to be doing better at night. She holds onto gas easily, so we have to make sure that she burps very well before heading to bed. We also think that if she gets overtired, it's all over for her... as in, if we miss getting her down at 7:00 or thereabouts, we can expect her to cry for an hour before she settles down to sleep. Last night was good; we'll see how tonight goes!
  • I got to take a shower in my master bathroom last night! This is indeed worthy of its own post, but I want to wait until I can get accompanying pictures... which won't happen at least until I get in there and work my magic. Michael also has a few little things to finish up. But for the most part, it is a usable bathroom again! (By the way, I love my new bathroom!)
  • Phoebe is currently really into rockets and races. As we drive in to the town where my parents live, we pass a huge rocket or five. Now she's spotting them everywhere. Yesterday after her nap, Phoebe informed me that she wanted Mommy and Daddy to push a rocket. Where do they get these things? Also, we cheered on the runners at our annual Memorial Day race (sponsored by my Dad, I have yet to run it) and Phoebe loved the race atmosphere. She asked several times yesterday to go to the race.
  • I've had a few people ask me to update on the Shred. I haven't done it as consistently as every day, but I've seen great results already. I can tell a huge difference in how I feel (more energy) and how my clothes are fitting. We don't have a scale, but I do weigh myself at my parents' house. I'd lost about five pounds since my last visit, and I can tell that I've become more toned and stronger. I'm about to move up to Level 2, which means I may not be walking next week.
  • Last week was my biggest success in strategic shopping. I spent $57 on $140 worth of groceries. When meal planning earlier this week, I realized that we are fully stocked for meals for at least a month, with the exception of fresh produce. We're also eating better (healthier, more variety, more flavor) than we have in the four years Michael and I have been married. So exciting!
  • Michael and I would like to start a new Bible Study to do together this summer. Any suggestions? We last did Experiencing God together and loved it. It really can be anything.
And now, a picture or two:
Here's hoping for more substance tomorrow!