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.