Thursday, April 30, 2009

All Smiles

We had a full, happy day. The smiles say it all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's so easy to get caught up in the big moments of life: milestones, events, holidays. Yet these are just the punctuation marks in the prose of life. So when Michael asked me last night to tell him things that made me marvel yesterday, I was caught off-guard. It took me a moment to think beyond the punctuation, even of yesterday, to see the prose. And yet, it's those small moments that make me marvel.

Now that Nora's sitting up for longer than a few seconds at a time, she has a whole new view - one that she finds utterly hilarious. When Phoebe got down in Nora's line of sight yesterday, Nora could hardly contain her laughter. And once Nora gets the giggles, she really can't stop giggling until she quits out of exhaustion. When Mommy Ticklemonster attacked her last night before bed, I experienced unrestrained joy with my Itty Bitty.

Phoebe will now permit a hairdo. In an effort not to exasperate her needlessly, I have refrained from styling her hair into ponytails and pigtails. The little "ouchless" rubberbands I have really aren't that ouchless, and she would panic any time I would try to put her hair up. (I imagine there's some user error there, too?) But after trying some soft, brightly colored terrycloth hairbands, we now can experience hairstyles without frustration. I am delighted, if still completely pitiful at doing hair. Phoebe's also found that these bands make great arm accessories. (Yesterday, I limited her to seven.)

Nora's so excited about food it's ridiculous. I imagine this is how normal children act with food, but since Phoebe was never really all that into the eating thing... this is all new to me. If the gravy train slows down at all, Nora gets huffy... quick, shallow, huffy little breaths that precede a total meltdown. Although I'm not so excited about the tantrum, it's really quite precious that Nora has such a love affair with food. Don't worry, we cut her off before she explodes!

And seemingly overnight, Phoebe can memorize anything. I mentioned her singing Holy, Holy, Holy. Yesterday, she learned a new song (a church camp favorite, "With Jesus in Your Boat, You Can Smile in the Storm"); her favorite part is the "smile" part. And she can now answer the fourth question of the children's catechism almost entirely on her own. [Q:How are you to glorify God? A:By loving Him and doing what He commands.] I am amazed at what a little sponge she is, and I am reminded yet again to talk about these things when we walk or lie down or make dinner or...

I'm so thankful that Michael encouraged me to take a moment and remember the snippets of sweetness yesterday. The Lord is really revealing to me right now that it's those snippets that are what really lay the foundation of our lives. I've also been really convicted about how I use small moments of time during my day. It would be worth your time (about thirty minutes) to listen to either of these podcasts about time management; God definitely has used these sweet women to speak truth into my life. [Managing Your Time, and Managing Your Time with Small Children].

May you find something to marvel about today!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nora's Baptism

This Sunday, we celebrated the sacrament of baptism with our sweet Eleanor Mae. I was honestly overwhelmed as I stood there with Michael, affirming our commitment to
"endeavoring to set before our children a godly example, to pray with and for them, to teach our children the doctrines of our holy religion, and to strive, by all the means of God's appointment, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord".

We echo the prayers of our pastor that Nora will, at an early age, place her trust in her Savior, who awaits her with eager and open arms.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Holy Moments

Ever since Phoebe gifted her nay-nay to her brown bear a few weeks ago, she's had a hard time falling asleep at night. Naps worked their way back to normal (can I get a hallelujah here?) within a week or so, but it is still consistently taking her about half an hour to settle down at night. Unfortunately, that "settling down" time has included some disobedient behavior that requires...ahem...correction.

Y'all, that's fun for nobody.

A few nights ago, Michael and I were brainstorming ways we could help her settle down without having her kick the wall or send Lamby on a kamikaze mission across the room. We finally decided that after we read the story bible and prayed as a family, we would turn off the lights and I would stick around to snuggle and sing for a few more minutes. (I know, it's a tough job... but somebody's got to do it, right?)

After snuggling in next to my sweet little wiggleworm, I started to sing one of the old standby's: Holy, Holy, Holy. I've been singing it to her for, well, forever, because it's one of the only hymns to which I know all four verses. Imagine my surprise when she joined in! The first night it was just every few words... but last night, she sang just about every word with me! She even sang the word "trinity" before I could get to it myself. I cannot even describe how precious this was.

For me as a mommy, this was such a beautiful reminder to me that what I do with these little girls every day is important. It also reminded me that it is never too early to talk about Truth or to share Christ's love with them. And while the words of Holy, Holy, Holy aren't necessarily words that Phoebe understands now, her knowing them lays the foundation for understanding in the future.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

For me, those moments with her before bed were holy moments - sweet reminders from the Lord that he is already at work in the hearts of our little girls. What a gift!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Day with the Hams

Few families are more precious to us than our beloved Hams. I have pondered all afternoon how to describe this sweet family, and I literally have no words. You just have to know them -- I wish you all could!

Last week, Mom and I packed up the girls at early-thirty to drive an incredibly boring stretch of interstate for a quick day trip to visit. I had not yet met the newest addition to the Ham fam (born in January), and as an added bonus to the trip, Ham-cousin Maggie was also in town with her three little ones. (I met Maggie back in high school, and was able to visit her at Wheaton; I hadn't seen her since!) All told, we spent six hours on the road for a seven hour visit... but I would've driven those six hours for a one hour visit. What a wonderful, blessed day we had!

Phoebe is a little country girl at heart, and she was delighted with the chance to roam free... with the added bonus of big kids to play with. With twelve kids under the age of twelve (three of those under six months!), there was no shortage of fun and excitement. Some of the highlights?
  • Amateur photography, thanks to Emma (age 8)
  • Glitter glue: need I say more?
  • Tetherball with Jeb (age 3)
  • Tree climbing and golf cart rides
  • DOGS!
  • Chubby baby cheeks... on three chubby little babies
  • Sweet, encouraging fellowship with older women, who teach me more in moments than I'd learn in months of reading books

We dreaded our departure time, but Michael has assured me that our small brood will definitely be making a trip over there soon. As Rina would say, Lord haste the day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bird Watching

Saturday morning, Michael was dragging all manner of household trash to the street for our city's annual "we'll-pick-up-anything" trash day. We're talking grills, drywall, furniture... you name it, they'll pick it up.

Our trusty grill bit the dust at the end of last summer, so we planned to haul it to the street with our broken-down drywall and tile bits from the bathroom remodel. But when Michael started to move it to the front, something came out and attacked him.

On further inspection, Michael discovered that a carolina wren had nested in our broken-down grill! That sweet mama bird was just protecting her babies from certain demise. From what we can tell, there are at least three little babies making their home in our grill. At least it's good for something, right?
Mama bird protecting her babies

Phoebe is in love with these birds. She wants to see them pretty much all the time... but she talks about them even more. And that's the best part!

She has the birds' roles identified perfectly:
"Mama bird...shh!"
"Dada bird work!"
"Baby bird!!!!!"

And the cutest thing? Phoebe struggles to say the word "bird" (it actually sounds like the word "blue"), so she scrunches up her face as she says it. I would be lying if I said we didn't giggle a little bit every single time she talks about the birds.

Baby birds ready for Mama to come back

I'm probably going to capitalize on this in a preschool kind of way this week; I have to say, it's a beautiful thing watching naturally enthusiastic little people learn about their world!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let's Chat

At dinner the other night, Phoebe was enjoying a rare treat -- homemade macaroni and cheese. She'd also decided she was pretty bored with her meal after about six bites. After a few minutes, she started picking up individual elbow noodles and holding them to her ear before taking a bite.

After the second or third noodle, she said, "Hi!" And then, as she ate her noodle, she said, "Bye!" Now that's what I'd call a quick conversation! (Good thing she no longer tries to eat my phone... that job is now reserved for her baby sister!) If Phoebs ever hangs up on you, please know that we're still working on those phone manners...


In other news, Nora miraculously had a normal nap day yesterday. As in, she took a two hour morning nap, a two hour afternoon nap, and a thirty minute "catnap" in the early-evening. And she slept great last night. This is our first "normal" since quitting the miracle blanket two weeks ago... so it was pretty exciting. It may never happen again, but it was a beautiful, beautiful thing!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Happy Heart

Phoebe does a lot to help me around the house. I expect a lot from her, and she usually meets or exceeds my expectations. She is delighted to help me, and I know that she feels so proud of herself for all of the big girl things she can do.

But lest you think Phoebe is a perfect little angel, she does not do everything gladly. I say at least five times a day, "Phoebe, obey with a happy heart!" I'm also trying to follow this up with, "Do all things without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14).

Today, Phoebe was grumping about putting away one of her special gardening gloves. As I brought her to me and reminded her to have a happy heart, she quieted her spirit and put the glove in its place. A few minutes later, I spotted the other glove and asked Phoebe to put her glove away along with the other one. I braced myself for another fit that would require some redirection.

And then I was amazed.

She joyfully picked up her glove, practically skipped to the drawer, and looked at me with a smile and said, "Happy heart, Mama!"

Oh yes, my little lovebug... happy heart indeed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Half Birthday!

More about Phoebe's infection tomorrow, but I feel like I should update everyone and say that she is healing beautifully. God has been gracious to us! That is such a gift.

Yesterday was Nora's half-birthday, and we celebrated in spending the morning at the pediatrician. Nora was due her shots, and we scheduled an appointment to have Phoebe's bottom checked out as well. We had quite the party in exam room number two on the blue hall... there were even refreshments! Phoebs enjoyed some fishies on her blanket, and Nora had her drink of choice when she was ready for it.

Anyway, back to Nora. Our little party animal weighed in at 15 pounds, 11 ounces (50%ile) and 27 inches long (which is 90%ile, but it's also inflated... I saw Nora scoot about half an inch when the nurse stretched her out). She enjoyed her tickles from Dr. B, and did just fine throughout the entire office visit...that is, until the vaccinations came her way. Bless her sweet heart, she would have preferred if Mommy had asked them not to inject her with any of those nasty little things. I completely understand.

Our little Belle couldn't be more of a delight. At six months old, her personality is really starting to develop... and I'm reminded of how fast these days are moving. Here's what Nora's up to these days:
  • Nora is literally the happiest baby I've ever seen. Her smile is enormous, and she's got some great belly laughs. She's content just about anywhere, anytime.
  • She is trying to break her addiction to the miracle blanket, and she's making progress as a sleeper again. Her naps are still inconsistent, but nighttime sleep is generally good. But oh, how we loved our miracle blanket!
  • She still loves to eat. Really. She takes four or five bottles a day, and she eats solid foods at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She loves sweet potatoes, prunes, and pears; she will eat just about anything, though. We introduced fruit earlier than I did with Phoebe because Nora needed a little help...going. Nora's just happy to eat what we give her, and she's got the rolls to prove it!
  • She's starting to play more, and loves to reach for things...anything that looks interesting. She loves to interact with her environment, and I love watching her sense of wonder. She especially loves to interact with her big sister!
  • Nora's working really hard at sitting up. She can sit up when propped up in a boppy, but still isn't very steady on her own.
  • When she sleeps, Nora likes to have a sweet little bunny blankie to love on. And she seems like she might already be attached to it, but only time will tell!

We do love, love, love our Norabelle. She's getting terribly big terribly fast; I already miss that tiny little baby! But I'm reminded, too, that they get even more fun as they grow. Growing is so bittersweet!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's Like Deja Vu, All Over Again

The last couple of days have been challenging. Actually, they've been challenging, emotional, and frustrating. And exhausting. Did I mention exhausting? I don't want to say that the last couple of days have been terrible, because I can think of plenty of ways that things could have been worse. But these have been a trying couple of days.

Staph has made an unwelcome return to our house. Eight months ago, I hoped it would take a permanent hike; we're fortunate that we caught it when we did. It started out innocently enough: it looked like Phoebe was just getting a nasty diaper rash. But one little bump kept getting bigger while the other ones disappeared with a few applications of Desitin. Then the bump got painful; Phoebe wouldn't even sit down, and diaper changes became nightmarish. So we were off to the pediatrician.

Dr. B quickly assessed the bump as an abscess. We've gone down that road before. And Phoebe had to have it drained, which was frightening and painful. The doctor feels pretty confident that the culture will come back positive for MRSA. Thankfully, we're home -- and not in the hospital. But Phoebe's having to endure some extremely painful at-home treatment; every diaper change (and they happen every 90 minutes) brings excruciating pain for our little bug. We're praying that she won't have to endure another drainage procedure at the pediatrician tomorrow.

I've become extremely emotional about this whole mess. I really can't explain it, but I think I've cried more today than Phoebe has. For the last couple of nights, I've had vivid dreams about terrible things happening to Phoebe while I watch helplessly. I'm feeling some of that same helplessness with Phoebe's pain; there is nothing I can do to make it better for her, and in fact, I have to do things to her that temporarily make her pain worse. This has definitely been a challenging exercise in trusting the Lord and His never-failing goodness.

Do pray for us -- for quick healing for Phoebe, and for endurance through this trial. I have been particularly discouraged lately, and I'm finding all of this overwhelming at times. But we are so thankful that Phoebe's pediatrician was able to start treatment immediately, and that we are not in the hospital all over again.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sleeping Beauties

I've been a little scarce lately... but we've had quite the week. I got hit with a nasty cold that knocked me out of commission for most of the week. But before the cold struck, we had decided to do swaddle-blanket boot camp with Nora.

Nora might have been the tiniest bit addicted to her baby straight-jacket. But she has been a great sleeper, so I've hesitated to get rid of it. She was always easy to put down for naps, and took long naps consistently. Why mess with a good thing, right?

Well, she spent last weekend hulking out of her blanket and needing to be re-wrapped to go back to sleep. Which meant it was time to say goodbye to her beloved swaddle. We embarked on a sleep training venture (more on that another time), and a week later... well, we've improved. Nora's naps are still inconsistent, and I imagine it will still take some time to get them back to where they were. But her nighttime sleep is generally good, although some nights have been easier than others.

While we were at it, we decided we'd make things really interesting by getting rid of Phoebe's paci. We've been talking about it for a while, and on Saturday, we decided to go ahead and take the plunge. We took Phoebe to Build-A-Bear, and she gave her bear the paci ("nay-nay") to be stuffed inside, along with the heart. Mommy was far more emotional than Phoebe about this, at least at the store.

Phoebe misses her nay-nay, but she doesn't really ask for it. She talks about it being inside her bear, and she loves to hold her bear to go to sleep. (She snuggles Lamby under one arm and the bear under the other.) It was pretty hard for her to fall asleep on Saturday, but she was a big girl about the whole thing. A lot of love and prayer seemed to help her settle down. She woke up very early on Sunday morning (5:00) and was able to doze off for a little while before 7:30, and she's struggled a little bit with her naps. But she's making progress. I still can't believe what a big girl she is about all of this.

It's definitely been a transitional month for us. Time marches so quickly when there are Littles in the house!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Nearly five years ago, I was happily independent and fairly intent on staying that way. I didn't need a boyfriend, and I definitely didn't need a husband. I had important things to do, and I wanted to do them my own way.

But then you walked into my life. Quietly, you wooed me. And very quickly, all those plans I had went skipping away. You were the man God wanted for me, and you would be in His timing for me. I thank Him every single day that it is indeed you that I get to spend the rest of my life with. You are my greatest blessing, all the time. It is an incredible adventure, being married to you.

Each year that goes by, I have the unique privilege of watching you grow into more of a man, more of the man that you are. You are kind and tenderhearted, and yet you are strong and full of conviction. You have become such a leader, both in our family and in other arenas. You lead us confidently down the path that you believe God has chosen for us, but you do it humbly. You are a delight to follow, and it is an honor to be your helper.

My heart bursts for you when I see you as a father. You love recklessly, and without abandon. You teach, you shepherd, and you discipline. It is exciting to see your influence in our girls, and to see reflections of you in their personalities. It is exciting to see the fruit of your prayer and your work already working out in their lives. But above all, you acknowledge that God has been so gracious to us.

Every day, I see you lay down your own life for me. You do this in the little things, like in eating yet another peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the sake of the budget or in letting me use the laptop, even when you had other plans for the night. You also do this in bigger ways; I know that it can be a major sacrifice to love me well when I am having a down day, and yet you do, and it seems effortless.

You are a man of your word. If you tell me something will happen, it will happen. You faithfully and joyfully set out to complete what you have said you will complete. It is a blessing that in almost four years of marriage, I cannot remember a time that I have had to take out the garbage. And you always amaze me at what you can do, even if you've never done it before. I am so confident in your ability to dream up and execute just about anything.

Your creativity is always amazing to me. It is so much fun for me to watch you in your new ventures at work. You dream big, and you do what needs to be done to carry out those dreams. Your work is beautiful. No wonder you scored a meeting with a potential client with ease! You are a man of integrity and honor in the workplace, and you heap blessings on your clients. My heart swells with pride when I hear others talk about your work, but most often they're even more excited to talk about you. You are a man set apart in a marketplace of underhanded deals and shoddy craftsmanship. God is already using your work in a mighty way, and it's exciting to see how He might use it in the future!

Michael, you are twenty-seven today. I am so thankful for you, for the years that I have known you, and for the years before that God was already at work in your life. It is an honor to be your wife, to know that I will, by God's grace, see many more years with you. I love you so much!