Monday, December 31, 2007

No Wonder David Loves His Aunt and Uncle

First, Aunt Lori feeds him numerous bites of Oreo ice cream dessert...

...then they do this together and think it's the funniest thing!
The next day, he gets away with doing this to Uncle David's face...

...then the Big D responds by tickling him and making him laugh so hard!
It sure is fun having extra family members around!!!

When I was in college, one of my music professors (who was also my piano teacher) defined extrovert v. introvert this way: an extrovert gains energy from being with people, but an introvert loses energy by being with people. That definition has stuck with me through the years and has helped me to understand people who are different than me...but it came to mind particularly forcefully this past weekend as I realized that my little David dear is a huge extrovert! We saw clear evidence of this by how energized he was by being around our guests and by how long it took him to fall asleep (or, maybe it was just the sugar in the dessert Aunt Lori gave him!). Seriously though, he got such little sleep during the weekend compared to what he normally gets...and he was still such a happy little camper, cheerful to the utmost at 11:30 p.m. when his big brother and two big cousins were trying their best to ignore him and go to sleep in his room. But imagine--three people sleeping right in the same room with him! That was the perfect occasion for celebration! And celebrating is exactly what David did. Of course, no one else in the room (or the house) was exactly celebrating...but that didn't stop David. In fact, nothing stopped him until Jeff literally picked David up, laid him down in bed with us, and held him still until he finally fell asleep. But the next day--oh, the torture of having to take a nap with cousins in the house! And the next night, when we put David in a playpen in our room to make sure Jacob and Isaac didn't have to deal with David talking exuberantly to them ("Jacob, I want to talk to you!") in the late hours of the night, we again experienced the amazing power of David's energy and talkativeness. Fortunately, both Jeff and I were so tired that we were able to ignore him and fall asleep regardless of his attempts at conversation. :)
But, oh my, what a little extrovert we seem to have on our hands! He sure had fun amusing us all during the weekend. :)
(Just a note in response to a question that Hilda Rebecca asked...our big table that was visible in some previous pictures is the table we use all the time. However, it has 6 leaves that can be put in it to make it the full-length of our kitchen--we don't have a dining room--and that's how we had it for the weekend. Usually, however, we have 1 or 2 leaves in it. I had always wanted such a big table so that when we have large groups of people over, we could all sit around the same table...and I was thrilled when we returned from Israel and moved here to acquire this one, since my parents were moving to the smaller house down the hill and had no room for such a big table. Along with the table, I inherited the responsibility to host family dinners and such...but since I enjoy that immensely, it hasn't been a problem at all!)

Family Pics on a Sunday Afternoon

During our "big" family Christmas (which didn't seem nearly big enough, since two of my siblings and their families weren't able to be here), we took the opportunity to take some family pictures...of this age of digital cameras and blogs, we can't do ANYTHING without taking a picture, it seems! :)
~ my brother David, his wife Lori, and their children (right to left, the Hebrew way) Jacob, Elizabeth, and Isaac
~ you know who these people are!
~ I love getting a picture of these cousins every time they're together...and then comparing, from year to year, how they've all changed and grown!
~ my parents, with 5 of their (current) 8 grandchildren...they also have one great-grandchild!...look at those silly boys on the ends of the couch--one doesn't know how to sit up, and one doesn't know how to look at the camera--and didn't their mother just write on her blog about how well-behaved and angelic they are??? :)

For My Boys

I'm going to brag for a moment about my children--not so that anyone reading this will think they're amazing children (though they clearly are!)--but simply so that one day, 20 years from now, when Josiah and David are sitting around reading this blog (what? you don't think they'll be doing that in 20 years??? well, maybe in 70 years when I'm dead and gone!), they'll be able to remember some special moments from their childhood. So, feel free to skip this post if you're not family...or read along so it can remind you of moments from your own life or the lives of your children that make you equally as proud! :)

At Cracker Barrel last Friday evening, we were sitting near a table where an elderly man and his wife sat. I didn't pay too much attention to them, although the man was in my direct line of vision; but the only thing I really noticed about them was that before they ate, they held hands and bowed their heads to pray...which was nice to see, and of course, we did that, too. At the end of their meal, the man came over to us and told us what a pleasure it was to see such a nice family enjoying dinner out together and how impressed he was by the good behavior of our boys. I was thrilled. Since I've become a mom, I've realized that people can basically ignore me and fail to give me compliments...but as long as they say nice things about my boys, I will glow--and will love those people forever! Anyway, I appreciated so much the extra time and effort that the Cracker Barrel man went to in coming over to pay us that compliment. :)

And that reminded me of another compliment to our boys recently. After our maternity photo session, our photographer called a few days later to make sure we had gotten the CD with the pictures and that everything was working right and that we were satisfied with everything. He and Jeff had a very congenial conversation, in the middle of which the photographer said that he had never dealt with such well-behaved children before in any of his photo shoots. He was so impressed that he could tell them where to sit or stand and what to do--and they would do it. He was particularly impressed by David, since most 2 year-olds would act up more and not be nearly as cooperative as David had proven to be. (In actuality, Josiah was the better-behaved of the two and was even more exact as far as following the photographer's instructions to a T...but since that's more expected for a 5 year-old than for a 2 year-old, David's behavior actually stood out more.) In any case, once again, I was so grateful to hear such kind words about my sons!!!

OK...this mother's brag session is over...but, Josiah and David, if you ever read these words, may they always remind you of how much I love you...and how unspeakably proud I am of you!

David's Birth Story

I love birth stories.

I'm the kind of woman who can't NOT read a birth story, even if it's about someone I don't know at all. I'm the kind of woman who makes websites like successful by actually taking the time to read through hundreds or thousands of birth stories! :) And it's a good thing we don't have a TV because if we did, you know what I would be tempted to watch every single day? That's right...A Birth Story. (As well as all the other labor and delivery shows available these days...)

So, just for fun, I thought I'd post this story about David's birth. This is from an email that I wrote on April 23, 2005, and we sent to lots of family and friends. I don't have Josiah's birth story typed out so nicely and completely, but maybe one of these days I'll get around to posting about it, too. Isn't it amazing how each birth, each experience can be so different, yet so full of joy and love?


Joyful greetings to all!

Tonight, Jeff, Josiah, and my mother (who is visiting from Virginia) are in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Seder with friends there; and I am having a peaceful evening at home with our new son David.

For those of you who are interested, I wanted to write to provide some additional details about David's birth. His birth story, like every birth story, is unique and so very special. We truly see the hand of God working in this story!

As some of you already know, my mother was scheduled to arrive here in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon, April 17. We were hoping and praying that our baby would wait to arrive until after she arrived, so that she could get adjusted to the time difference and be ready to jump into her role as primary caregiver to Josiah while we were at the hospital having the baby. David was not due until April 29, so we thought we had plenty of time!

Sunday morning, I awoke at 4:35 am with a contraction, and I continued to have mild contractions every so often after that. I tried to sleep, but was too excited, so I got up and did some research on "false labor" and convinced myself that what I was feeling was false labor. Throughout the day, the contractions continued, but were never regular or very painful. In the afternoon, Jeff, Josiah, and I rode the train to the airport to pick up my mother. Her flight was delayed; and as we waited for her, I continued to have contractions...but still no specific pattern. I was still convinced that it was false labor. Finally my mother arrived...and literally, as soon as I saw her, I had another contraction; and from that point on, the contractions immediately increased in frequency and intensity. (It reminded me of Elizabeth and Mary in Luke 1:39-45 when her baby leaped in her womb. In our case, it was as if David "knew" that he needed to wait for Grandma to arrive...and now that she was here, he was ready to come out!) But, we were at the airport, so there was nothing to do but go home, which we did by way of train to Tel Aviv, and then by taxi to our home. On the way home, Jeff was asking, "How far apart are your contractions?" And I answered, "I don't know. I'm not timing them!" We got home; and by this point, we realized that this was real labor, so I hopped in the shower and Jeff gave my mother instructions about Josiah's care. Fortunately, Josiah was so happy to see her; and he warmed up to her immediately so we felt very confident leaving the two of them together...the only downside was the fact that my mother was very tired from the trip. We gave her no chance to rest up for the big event!

Our neighbors gave us a ride to the hospital; and on the way, I was having contractions but was handling them fine with some breathing exercises. When we got to the hospital, Jeff had to register us (they don't do pre-registration there), so he was hurriedly filling out paperwork. I had a major contraction there in the lobby while I was waiting for him; and I think I scared the people around me, especially another pregnant woman who was there (but not in labor)...I showed her what she had to look forward to! Then it was off to be checked to see if I was far enough along to be admitted. Before she examined me, the nurse asked, "Do you want an epidural?" And both Jeff and I said, "Yes!"--I know that it's so hard for him to see me in pain, and he wanted me to have some relief. But as soon as she checked me, the nurse said, "No epidural for you. You're already at 9 centimeters!" I had no idea...what a surprise! She looked a little panicked, as if she thought I might deliver the baby any moment; and she and another nurse whisked us off through the hallways, up an elevator, to a delivery room.

By the time I got there, it was time to push. The midwife broke my water, and we were off! I was actually still wearing my own clothes because there had been no time to change into a hospital gown. There was also no time to attach an external monitor to track my contractions, so I just had one monitor to make sure the baby's heartbeat was OK and that he was not in distress. By this time, I was half crazy with the pain, and pushing was tough! To make a long story short, the midwife wanted me to push lying flat on my back in bed; and I wanted to get in an upright position to push. Fortunately, God sent an angel nurse with red hair to our room; and she convinced the midwife to let me stand up. When I did that, the pushing progressed much more quickly. Right before David was born, they told me to sit down, so I sat on a beanbag chair on the floor, and he came out. Ah, blessed words can describe that moment!!! He was fine, so they put him on my stomach; and we got to enjoy the first blissful, emotional moments together...Jeff, little David, and I.

In all, my total labor was 17 hours; but the "real" labor was only 4 hours (an hour and 20 minutes of that was the pushing). We got to the hospital just before 8:00 pm, and he was born at 9:40 pm. What a blessing that it happened so fast! He weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and was perfectly healthy in every way.

We chose the name "David Wallace Fisher" for him for several reasons. First, my name is a feminine form of "David," and I have a brother named "David." All my life, I have loved that name and have always wanted a son named "David." We chose "Wallace" because that was the name of Jeff's dad, and we wanted to honor him and carry on his name.

This whole week has been such an amazing time of falling in love with David and seeing our family circle grow to include him. Josiah was so excited to meet him, and he is proving to be a great big brother. Whenever David begins to whimper, Josiah says, "Check baby David!" There was one very rough night when neither of the boys wanted to sleep. When David would cry, Josiah would cry...and vice versa. Because David was in our room, Josiah wanted to be in our room. It was exhausting! But fortunately, the rest of the time, things have gone quite smoothly, and we are so grateful for God's blessings during this time of adjustment. Having my mother here has been a true gift from God...I don't know what we would do without her!

During this time, I have been reminded about one of the parts of the Passover Seder that is being celebrated tonight. As part of the ceremony, a prayer is sung called "Dayenu," which means "Enough for Us." The prayer talks about all that God did for the Israelites when He delivered them from Egypt, and it begins like this:
"How thankful and grateful must we be to God for all the marvelous things He did for us.
Had He delivered us from Egypt and not punished the Egyptians, it would have been enough.
Had He punished the Egyptians and not destroyed their idols, it would have been enough.
Had He destroyed their idols and not slain their firstborn, it would have been enough.
Had He slain their firstborn and not given us their fortunes, it would have been enough.
Had He given us their fortunes and not parted the sea for us, it would have been enough..."
The prayer continues by listing various things that God did for them, all the way to bringing them into the Promised Land and giving them the Temple.

I have felt so strongly recently that God has been simply throwing open the floodgates of Heaven and raining down His blessings on us. I feel like I could sing my own version of "Dayenu"!
If He had created us and given us life, it would have been enough.
If He had given us His Son, it would have been enough.
If He had given us the promise of Heaven, it would have been enough.
If He had fulfilled our dream of living in Israel, it would have been enough.
If He had brought Jeff and I together as husband and wife, it would have been enough.
If He had given us our son Josiah, it would have been enough.
If He had given us our son David, it would have been enough.
But God doesn't say "Enough"! He continues to give and give and give, beyond comprehension. And the best part of all is what awaits us in Heaven someday!

I hope each of you can sing your own version of "Dayenu." So many times, it's simply easier to focus on what we don't have, rather than what we have been given. This concept of "Dayenu" is so helpful for me to keep my perspective healthy and keep my eyes focused on the blessings of God.

To close, I'll include a picture of the Fisher family; this was taken when we got home from the hospital Tuesday night.

With much love,

Week 37

No baby yet...

I thought I'd say that right off the bat to take care of those thoughts! (Jeff said today when I called him at work, "I get nervous every time you call!" Maybe the readers of this blog get "nervous" when they check I'll try to cut the suspense. Actually, we're living in constant suspense these days, with absolutely no clue about when this baby will be born. But more about that--and our guesses--later...)

In my week 37 picture, I wanted some company, so I got (from left to right) my mother, my sister-in-law Lori, and Lori's mother to pose with me while they were all here this past weekend. As I look at this picture, I can't help but think about how huge I look--and the ironic thing is that I chose that particular shirt for its "slimming effect." The only thing that actually looks slim in the picture is...well...all the other women. Oh, well, it's good to be able to laugh at myself these days--and good to realize that a 37-week pregnant woman is supposed to look like an elephant, right? :)

Some random notes from this week of pregnancy:

~ I'm definitely in the waddling stage of the grocery store recently, I realized that I was swaying back and forth as I walked--and that I literally could not stop that peculiar sideways motion...interestingly though, I read an article recently about how a pregnant woman's body changes and adapts to accommodate the growth of the baby and to prevent unfortunate events like the mother falling over from having so much weight in her front; and one of the adaptations is this waddle, so I'm glad for it!

~ for those who don't know, Josiah, our first son, was born one day before his due date...David, our second son, was born 12 days before his due I have some history of being early, but of course, nothing is definitive when it comes to predicting this son's birth...although, I am suspecting he'll be early because of the other boys

~ I haven't had any "real" contractions--nothing at all with any pattern to it or anything that made me seriously think that "this is it!"...however, I have been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions with this pregnancy, much more than with the other ones (which I've read is completely normal); but just recently I read that false contractions are usually just felt in the lower abdomen (where mine have been) and real contractions are usually felt throughout the whole abdomen and even the I've not had a single moment so far when I was convinced that the time of birth was near

~ we're all trying to predict when the birth will be, of course...Jeff's prediction/desire for December 31 seems to be futile (unless things happen very, very quickly!)...I have a (completely evidence-less) theory that the baby will be born on a date that is a prime number (since all the rest of us in our family are born on prime number dates) December 29th was a possibility, as was the 31st...but so are the 1st and a whole host of other dates in January...that doesn't really narrow it down much at all! sister predicts January dad was hoping that it would be this past weekend when our family was here so that my sister-in-law could take over with babysitting and cooking mom simply hopes that it's after she gets a good night's sleep, since she's my second support person in the delivery room and she'd like to be full of energy when that time we're having fun thinking and dreaming and guessing when it will be :)

~ I did wake up last night with a soothing thought: I have no more pressure in my hosting duties...VERY little written in my self-imposed stress that I have to accomplish certain things with either homeschooling or homemaking right now...I can have this baby as soon as he's ready; and if he's not ready for a while, that will give me a few more days/weeks to do a few things around here that probably won't get done right away after he is born (important stuff, like organizing my coupons!)...I don't have any serious health problems that make a soon delivery really is OK if he comes sooner or later...either way is a win-win situation for me!

~ speaking of health problems, the weird symptom of the past two days has been fairly severe pain in my left side: abdomen, hip, and seems to be a simple case of the sciatic nerve (or another nerve which Dad named but I can't remember) being squished by the baby...nothing to worry about, but it does relegate me to the couch when the pain strikes...if I try to walk during a painful episode, not only does it hurt but it also feels as if my leg isn't working and I have to drag a heavy "bum" leg around behind me...I've been so mentally "ready" for labor that now, to deal with this other pain (and to have people do my normal work and take care of me) just feels silly!

~ Friday evening when my brother and his family arrived from Pennsylvania, my parents used the gift certificates that some of my dad's patients gave him for Christmas and took us all out for dinner at Cracker Barrel which was delicious and fun--and I didn't have to cook or clean up that night!...while we were there, I was thinking about how earlier this year, it was much more of a challenge to go out to eat as a family, since David was still at the age of wanting to get down and run around and needing LOTS of entertainment items to make it through a dinner, however, things have changed; and for the most part, it's fairly simple to all eat out together, since David can be kept occupied with much less stuff and, in general, is more of an easy guest in a restaurant...Friday night, I thought to myself, "how ironic that now that life is getting easier--as far as restaurants go and many other ways--here we go again with making things difficult!"...oh, well, I've never felt "done" as far as having babies goes, so I just accept the fact that this stage of my life still includes lots of diapers, interrupted sleep, big diaper bags when we go anywhere, lots of noise, and room-temperature dinners for me!

~ to say that I'm a little tired of maternity clothes would probably qualify easily as an understatement, although I really am trying to enjoy each day of this pregnancy, all the way to the was a joyful thought today to suddenly think about a particular pink "snowflakey" sweater I own that is NOT maternity, and to realize that soon I'll be able to wear it!...oh, the simple joys of life!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas, Round Two

Over dinner tonight, my dad mentioned that if I don't update my blog for a few days, the people who read it will probably think I've gone into labor! So, to prevent any misconceptions along those lines, I will pop on long enough tonight to post a few pics and explain my recent activities.

My brother David and his family arrived here last evening for our second round of Christmas festivities. We LOVE having them here! I don't know which of our little family loves it the most, since we all really, really enjoy it.

Here is "Aunt Lori," my wonderful sister-in-law, directing the "kids' activities" during quiet time this afternoon. She brought a huge bundle of craft stuff which kept the kids happily entertained for quite a while today.
Below is a picture of the scene after our "official" Christmas dinner and gift exchange. I like this picture a lot, though I know it's nothing special to other people. It's fun for me to see different family members involved in various activities, talking with each other, looking at new gifts, etc.
We were fortunate enough to have Lori's parents here for our celebration, since they "happened" to be passing through our area on their way to Florida for a few months. As is their tradition, they stopped here to visit and stay with my parents. It is always enjoyable to have them here, and they definitely added to the joy tonight! Here they are sitting around the table after dessert, enjoying the time to talk with my parents.
Josiah has been absolutely eating up the cousin time. Here he is with his cousin Jacob, playing a game of mancala.
Oh, there's so much more I could say to adequately capture the unique moments of this particular celebration! However, it will have to wait until I have more energy and brain power (although I'm not sure when exactly that will be!). At least you know I'm still around, and Baby is still cavorting about in the warmth and safety of my womb. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Week 36

This picture was taken on Christmas Day, when I was technically 36 weeks and 6 days. Once again, I'm "late" with posting about week 36, since I'm now steaming full speed ahead into week 37. Oh, well...that's life these days!

Week 36 was characterized by something which I'm certain will be the trademark of all the remaining weeks: the question, "When will this baby be born???" My parents both said that they think I won't make it until January, but they didn't say why. (I'm thinking that they're thinking that because of my size!) My dad was personally hoping for today, December 27, since that was his dad's birthday. Jeff still favors December 31, since by that time, the family we will have here over the weekend will be gone and all our Christmas celebrations will officially be over, but it will still be 2007. I am ready any day...although when I think about the future and planning a birthday party for this boy, I realize it would probably be a lot easier and less hectic if his birthday was in January, with a little space between the holidays and his day. But who knows???

It's such a mystery, and I've come to appreciate that fact. One of the girls who works in the barber shop with Jeff is pregnant, too; but because they're having a planned c-section, she already knows what day her son will be born: February 29. (What a fun day for a birthday!) As I've thought about her situation, I've begun to see that the suspense of it all is really an enjoyable thing for me. I love waking up and thinking, "Will this be the day?" I love falling asleep wondering, "Will I wake up tonight with contractions?" Although some days I definitely think, "This would NOT be a convenient day for a birth," most days I imagine how wonderful it would be to be able to cancel everything else in life and focus on my baby being born. :)

I continue to check off things that I was hoping the baby would be born AFTER: like the first day of winter (a silly wish of mine is to have a baby born in each season, and this is our winter baby), like this past Sunday when I was involved in our church service, like Christmas, like 37 weeks (so I can technically be full-term), etc. I really think the only two things on my mental list now are the visit this coming weekend from my brother and his family from Pennsylvania...and a Harmonia Sacra singing that I want to go to on New Year's Day. That's all I have on my agenda! But you know, if little man decides to poke his head out before either of those events, it would be completely fine with me. :)

Another thing about this stage of pregnancy is that, despite my continued fatigue, I do have bursts of energy....which is very good...but also somewhat frustrating because I never know when they're going to come--and when they're going to end. Yesterday I felt fairly energetic and felt like I was accomplishing a lot...until about 8:00 p.m. last evening when I collapsed into bed, leaving various projects half-finished. But I just keep reminding myself that my energy will return and my enthusiasm for certain tasks will not be gone forever. For example, this week I've been thinking about painting the walls in our bedroom and rearranging things in there. Not that I'm planning to actually do that work now, but at least I'm dreaming for the future and planning that sometime in 2008, it might get done! For me, this is a step in the right direction that I'm actually able to devote some brain power to this and get excited about it.

I think most of all right now, it truly is sinking in that I'm going to have a baby...that soon and very soon, I will go into's not a far-off situation anymore, since it really could happen any day. It's been fun to talk about the upcoming birth with my parents and with Jeff, and I've also spent an enormous amount of time thinking about it, especially when I'm lying in bed at night trying to sleep. Last night, for example, I consciously thought my way through the whole process: what I would do when contractions started...when it was time to go to the hospital...when we arrived at the hospital...etc. The whole process from start to finish. It will be interesting to see if reality even comes close to my imaginings!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Snippets from Our Christmas

~ my dad reading the Christmas story before we open gifts...this is a long-standing tradition...this morning, he read the Luke passage; and when he finished, Josiah said, "What about the wise men?"...don't you think Dad's red socks give him that extra special festive appearance? :)
~ Josiah with a dinosaur book and set of dinosaur figures to put together...anything dinosaur-related is a big hit with Josiah these days
~ David with two Wiggles books...he loves these little chunky Wiggles board books...he was so delighted with these that we probably could have given him nothing else for quite a while and he would have been satisfied!

Christmas Letter

Some of you, if you are so fortunate :) as to be on my Christmas card list (and have your last name in the FIRST half of the alphabet), may have seen this picture and letter before, since this is what we sent out as our official Fisher family photo and Christmas letter. :) For those of you who haven't received it, here it is. You might actually get a real copy of this in the mail one of these days...or you might not...depending on whether I ever get my Christmas card list finished or not.

A big MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone on this special day!!!

November 23, 2007

Dear family and friends,

With Thanksgiving just a day past and the feeling still present in my heart and mind, it seems appropriate to take some time to reflect over the events of the past year. What a difference a year can make! When I wrote our yearly update last December, we had just been victims of an armed robbery, I was recovering from a miscarriage, and my father had been having heart trouble that was serious enough to land him in the hospital. And now—the men who participated in the robbery are in prison for 25 years with no parole, we are eagerly anticipating the birth of our baby sometime in the next eight weeks, and not only is my dad’s heart working well but also his back has been doing so much better that he’s been able to shed the cane he was using at the end of last year! We have much for which to be thankful!!!

Strangely, as I sit down to compose this letter, I find myself at a loss for words—which is ironic for the simple fact that this year has undoubtedly been the most documented year of my life! In the middle of January, I started writing a blog (an online journal, or web log, for those unfamiliar with modern terminology!) called Life on Sylvan Drive. I began it for the primary purpose of recording bits and pieces of daily life for my own memory’s sake and for the benefit of my family in future years, since I find it very difficult to effectively and consistently journal with real paper and a pen! But I quickly discovered a wonderful secondary benefit—that of keeping in touch with family and friends, both old and new, around the globe. As I grow older, I realize more and more how much I can’t do and how time constraints will always be a factor in how much time I can invest in relationships. To my sorrow, I am never able to keep up with distant loved ones as faithfully as I would like. And so, with this blog, those of you with Internet access can at least pop in occasionally and catch up with what is going on in the Fisher household! When I began my blog, I actually wasn’t convinced that I would keep it up; but as it turns out, I have found untold joy in using it to capture moments of the “continual feast” that is my life (Proverbs 15:15). Although, to tell the truth, I write it very freely—revealing honestly what is in my head and heart and not thinking of who my readers are—and sometimes when I hear that this or that person has read my blog, I think, “Oh, no, I wonder if they read the part where I wrote this…and I wonder what they think of me now!” It’s a good tool for keeping me humble! In any case, if any of you have not seen my blog and are interested in checking it out, here is the website for it: That is the place where you can get the full scoop on our family, see lots of pictures, and really know us—probably in much greater detail than you desire!

And now, my task to summarize the past year in this letter, feels next to impossible; but I’ll have a go…

In some ways, not a whole lot has changed since last year, as far as location and basic life situation. Jeff is enjoying his work as a barber ( His favorite part of barbering is the people contact that he has, with many opportunities to minister to people on a daily basis. Like Paul with his tent making, Jeff finds that combining an occupation with ministry works very well. One new thing that Jeff had an opportunity to do this year was take some pottery classes—something that he had done in the past when he lived in California and also in Israel but had not had the opportunity yet in Virginia. I was especially grateful for the side benefit of the beautiful dishes that he made and brought home for me to use! He has been so unselfish with his pottery, always willing to involve our boys with it when he’s working on it here at home. It’s fun to see them being inspired by his artistic side—and developing those talents themselves as well.

As for me, I continue to function in my role as stay-at-home mom with all the job descriptions that get attached to that! What a joy to have the privilege of devoting myself to my family! I find myself constantly learning and growing in all ways, as I find my character, intellect, and spirit tested on a daily basis. One of the new challenges facing me is how to be a mother to three boys! Currently I am 32 weeks along in this pregnancy—and enjoying again the process of falling in love with a new little person inside me. Although he’s not due to be born until the middle of January, we’re hoping he follows in his brother David’s footsteps and arrives a little early. Jeff is personally hoping for December 30 or 31 (that tax break is awfully appealing!), so if you see us out walking miles on end or going for bumpy Jeep rides during the last few days of this year, you’ll know why!

The newest role that I added this year to the collection of hats I wear is that of homeschooling mother/teacher. For a number of reasons (which in and of itself would require a separate epistle to describe), we made the decision to homeschool Josiah during this, his kindergarten year…and we are continually grateful that God led us to that decision! Here are just a few of the blessings that we have seen from this so far: incredible memory-making moments within the family, integration of spiritual discussion about our beliefs into ALL areas of life and subjects of study, educational advantages as Josiah benefits from one-on-one tutoring (and David benefits from hand-me-down learning and overheard teaching!), education and training (mentally, physically, and spiritually) as a lifestyle rather than one aspect of life (who we are, not what we do). Well, I really could go on and on about this; but I’ll stop now by adding just one more thing: we plan to make the decision to homeschool or not on a year-by-year basis for each individual child. One lesson I’ve been learning this year is how very big God is and how many times we see Him only through our situation and think that it is the only way He can work. How far from the truth! So even in this area of educational decisions, I do want to be careful to affirm our respect for those who decide differently on this homeschool issue. The last thing I want to become is a militant homeschool mom who can’t possibly conceive that God could work through any other type of educational system! I’m eternally grateful for this homeschooling path that we are on—and thankful for the people whom God used to lead us to this. But I do not want to offend anyone reading this who may have chosen other options for their children.

Besides excelling in his kindergarten work, Josiah (5 ½ years old) has been able to participate in a number of other activities throughout this year, including soccer and music lessons in the spring, tennis lessons and a week-long special course for kids at a local community college in the summer, and swimming lessons and children’s choir in the fall. He’s definitely at the age where everything interests him, and it’s fascinating for us to watch him absorb information and skills like a sponge. His current obsession is dinosaurs, and I have to admit that I’m learning far more about them now as we study them together than I ever did before! As far as Josiah’s character goes, he loves to watch out for people (especially younger siblings!) and be involved in whatever is going on. One of the questions we hear most often from his lips is, “What happened???” He can’t stand to not know what’s going on, who said what, what we’re doing, or whatever else is being discussed. It’s an incredible joy to have him in our family and see him grow and change and develop a deep spiritual sensitivity. What a boy—we adore him!

And speaking of adoring, David (2 ½ years old) is truly living up to the meaning of his name: Beloved. He is the ball of sunshine that brightens all of our lives. He’s our little entertainer—always looking for a way to make us laugh—and he is often successful. Tonight over dinner, for example, simply by the things he was saying and the manner in which he said them, he had us all in stitches. I can’t imagine life without him! Besides being a joy-giver, he is also a smart little guy—with Josiah for a big brother (and teacher!), how could he not be?! But it is amazing to look back over this year and think about the fact that even at the end of March, shortly before David turned 2, we were literally concerned enough about his language ability (or lack thereof) that we were seriously considering speech therapy for him. Right before his 2nd birthday, however, the floodgates were opened, and he began to speak; and now we wonder why we ever worried about him in that way! Ah, child development—it’s such a unique thing for each child, we’re discovering!

One refreshing aspect of this year was finally being united as a three-generation family (my parents, us, and our children) in a church together. We had looked forward to this since before we moved back from Israel; and although God led us to the fulfillment of this dream in ways very different from what we first imagined, we are so very grateful for the path towards which He has directed us. It’s indescribably good to be in such a warm, nurturing, humble congregation where each member of our family is fed spiritually and where we can journey alongside the people there in our common goal of progressing heavenward. Since we had some “desert” time spiritually, we appreciate even more the “green pasture” into which God has brought us now; and we look forward to deepening our friendships there and learning how to more effectively use the gifts God has given us to serve and reach out to others.

Oddly enough for a Christmas letter, the verse that comes to my mind as I consider this past year is Joel 2:25: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” Without a doubt, the Christmas message is one of restoration, culminating in the perfection we will experience in heaven. This year to me feels like a taste of that; and it tastes so sweet that I hope and pray that each of you will experience the restoring heart of God, both here and now as we live our lives as strangers on this earth and ultimately in heaven as we are restored to our rightful state as souls who walk and talk face-to-face with God. What a day that will be!

With much love,
The Fishers: Jeff, Davene, Josiah, David, and baby boy!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Best Gifts

Besides Jesus, undoubtedly the best gifts in my life are these smiling faces. I am so undeserving of--and grateful for--their love. Who could ask for anything more?

A (Hugely) Pregnant Woman's View of the Christmas Story

During this Advent season, I have enjoyed reflecting in new ways on the old, old story of Christmas; and because I am now quite far along in this pregnancy, I find my reflections focusing on the pregnant women in the story. I've been pregnant at Christmas before, but never this pregnant...and it has brought to light for me some things about Advent that I've never considered before in such depth.

It occurred to me this past week that reading the Bible is a little like watching a TV show. How so? Because usually during a show (unless the producers want to end with a cliffhanger so the audience will watch the following week), a "problem" is presented, along with some of the background to it, and (most importantly) the solution is also presented--all in 30 minutes or less--so unlike reality. But isn't that the way it is sometimes when we read the Bible? In the space of a few verses or, at the most, a few chapters, we are presented with the background of a situation, the situation itself, and the resolution. In real life, the events described may have taken place over decades or centuries, but we read about them in 5 minutes...and sometimes miss connecting with the long-term nature of people's struggles, people's faith, and God's hand at work.

For example, in Genesis 25, we are told that Isaac and Rebekah got married, she didn't get pregnant, Isaac prayed for her, and twins were born to them. Boom, boom, boom, right? Wrong! There is actually a span of 20 years between the time they were married and the time their children were born. 20 years! That's a long time to be praying for something and having faith for it. What if we allowed ourselves to read the first part of Isaac's predicament, then made ourselves wait 20 years to read the fulfillment of the situation? Silly, of course; and we would never do that. But if we somehow could and did, it might help us connect more honestly with the real-life struggles of the men and women we hold up as heroes of the faith...and it might give us more hope for our own long-term problem situations.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, Christmas...

Being pregnant this year has fleshed out the Christmas narrative and helped fill in some of the details of how it might have been for the men and women who were part of this drama.

The first person I've been thinking about is Elizabeth. How in the world did she know she was pregnant? There were obviously no home pregnancy tests, no ultrasounds, and no fetal stethoscopes. By telling us that her age was advanced, the Bible seems to indicate that she was past menopause, so the cessation of her monthly cycle (sorry to be blunt) would not have been the clue for her. How did she know???

Well, obviously, she had Zechariah's news of the vision that he saw, while in the Temple, of the angel who promised that they would conceive a son--the same angel who, when Zechariah showed signs of disbelief, took away Zechariah's speech until after his son was born. Was Zechariah's sudden muteness simply a punishment for his lack of faith? I personally think it was more than that. I think it was a sign that was given by God so that Zechariah, Elizabeth, and all their family and friends (who undoubtedly gossiped up a storm about the situation) would constantly be reminded during those long nine months that something extraordinary had happened and a divine drama was being enacted in their lives.

In any case, we see no evidence in the text that Elizabeth doubted that she was indeed pregnant; but as a pregnant woman, I can imagine that she longed for the day when she would feel her baby move. That, after all, is one of the surest signs that we as women have even today that there really is a baby inside us!

The Bible tells us in Luke 1 that Mary visited Elizabeth during the 6th month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, and that when the two women saw each other, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leaped. Although this is not specifically stated, the conclusion that I have always drawn from it is that it was the first time that Elizabeth felt her baby move. If so, that is late for a woman to first feel her baby move. What kinds of doubts may have assailed Elizabeth as she eagerly waited for the "quickening" inside her...which seems to have happened later than in a "normal" pregnancy?

Can you picture the conversations that Elizabeth and the village women might have had?
Women: Elizabeth! How are you? How's the baby? Have you felt him move yet?
Elizabeth: Well...I'm not sure. What's it supposed to feel like when he moves?
Women: For us, it felt like butterflies...flutters...a little earthquake, etc.
Elizabeth: I thought maybe I felt something the other night, but then I realized it was just my stomach growling.
Women: Oh. Well, I hope you feel something soon.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Me, too...

Of course, this is all conjecture, so I hope no one takes me too seriously with this! But I do find myself even more inspired by Elizabeth when I consider how she seems to have reacted with continued faith even when the act of holding to that faith may have been very difficult to do.


The next pregnant woman in the story is obviously Mary, so recently I've been thinking about her more than usual, too. The first thing that strikes me about her is how intensely personal her pregnancy must have been...if it's at all like my own has been, anyway. I think as women, no matter how much of our pregnant thoughts and feelings we share with our moms, with other women, with our husbands, etc., at some level, it's really all about us. Us--and this mysterious being growing inside us.

I think back to the "selfish" period I had during this pregnancy, when I enjoyed the bond I had with this baby so much that I didn't want pregnancy to end. (I've moved out of that stage, by the way; but it was a very real, very strong feeling for a time!) I loved the fact that I and my baby were one, with nothing separating us. I was the privileged one who was responsible for meeting every need that he had, and in return was entitled to feel each of his movements. At that point in time in any pregnancy, no one else comes close in terms of connection to that child.

And Mary had this with Jesus.

How incredibly special this must have been for her. First of all, God chose HER--not simply for her womb, since there were lots of "available wombs" in Israel in those days--but for something deeper: something in her character, something in her heart. And she was the one who was blessed with this closeness to Jesus that no one else ever had. When it says in Luke 2:51 that Mary pondered these things in her heart, I think part of that pondering involved the time that she was pregnant with Jesus and held Him so close to her heart, safe from all the forces that wanted to destroy Him.

In our Sunday school class a few weeks ago, we talked about how to deal with Mary. Practically idolized in some churches, practically dismissed in others, she is a bit of a mystery; and I, for one, have been guilty of downplaying her role in this most sacred--and human--of dramas. As I have come through this season and felt perhaps some of the things she was feeling, I have sensed a greater connection with her as well as a heightened sense of respect for the incredibly special role God asked her to play. I wish I knew more about her because I'm sure I have a lot to learn from her!


Now that I've described how personal an experience pregnancy is for a woman, I want to switch gears and write about the way it bonds a man and woman. I can't write this from firsthand experience, of course, but it seems to me that watching the woman you love give birth is an experience like no other. In fact, from my own life, it seems that Jeff has been more in love with me after our sons' births than he was before. It simply elevates a relationship between a man and woman to a new level, and it cements it with a stronger bond than before. (I realize this doesn't ALWAYS happen, but in a functional marriage, I believe it is true...)

So I wonder, how did this affect the relationship between Joseph and Mary? My guess is that it made them love each other and rely on each other more than they ever had before, even though Jesus wasn't Joseph's biological child. In thinking this, I admit to making a few assumptions.

First, I assume that Mary had no one to help her during labor except for Joseph. The Biblical text does not specify any of the details about the birth; but as I have grown up hearing and reading the story, I always seem to picture Joseph and Mary arriving in Bethlehem as Mary is in an advanced stage of labor, they wearily knock on a few doors, they find nothing but a stable, they get to the stable, and Jesus is born very soon thereafter...certainly, that same night. This is how it happened, right?'s impossible to know. Maybe Mary did have a woman to attend to her--maybe the innkeeper's wife? maybe a local midwife? maybe a distant relative of either Mary or Joseph? Who knows?

Second, I assume that Joseph was indeed with her when Jesus was born, and that he didn't suddenly feel the need to take a walk or check on the donkey in a back corner of the stable, only to return after she had delivered the baby. Again, who knows?

But somehow, even if it wasn't just Mary and Joseph together when Jesus was born, I do believe that the whole trip to Bethlehem and birth experience there did bring them closer to each other than would have been possible in Nazareth. After all, when you're separated from your home, your hometown, your family, your friends, and you're "alone" with your husband, you instinctively lean on him for help, support, companionship, love, rather than running to your mom or your best friend to fulfill those needs. Without a doubt, that's what happened to me when Jeff and I were newlyweds in San Diego and I didn't really know a soul there except for him.

And another thing--the fact that so early in their married life and in the life of their Son, a crazy lunatic of a king named Herod was seeking to kill their baby (and maybe them as well), forcing them to flee to Egypt, must have also contributed to the tightness of their bond with each other. I think it probably gave them an "us" against "the world" mentality that made their small family unit very strong. In a small way, that's what happened to Jeff and I when our son David was born in Tel Aviv and we had to "fight" the hospital system to bring him home early. But that's another story... :)


Lastly about Mary is the obvious point that somehow she must have kept a positive attitude even during the uncomfortable times of her pregnancy. I don't think that she was perfect, but I do think that the spirit in her that led God to choose her was probably far less of a complaining spirit than the one I possess! Simply thinking about her trip to Bethlehem makes me grateful that I'm not her. Whether she walked or rode a donkey to get there, it couldn't have been much fun! And all the other inconveniences she dealt, I should keep my mouth shut and never complain again. After all, when I have pregnancy heartburn, I can easily pop a few Tums to control it. When my sleeping is interrupted by back pain, I can use a maternity pillow to ease it (not that it takes away all the pain, but it does help!). When I'm tired, I can take a nap on a comfy couch in the comfort of my own home. Mary had none of these conveniences.

And so I ask myself again, how good is my attitude when I'm not feeling well? How patiently and joyfully do I deal with the discomforts of pregnancy?


Once again, I feel incredibly blessed to have the gift of this pregnancy at this Christmas season--and the gift of new (to me) thoughts that have come out of reflection on the well-known story. Isn't it amazing how the Bible can continue to teach us new things no matter how many times we read it or how long we live?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What Feeds You?

Our worship service with the church this morning seemed like a smorgasbord--lots of variety in the spiritual food offered. And it got me thinking--again--about the question, "What feeds you spiritually?" Which aspect of the typical worship service or gathering of Christians is the part that you can't live without? Or is something outside of the communal time the mainstay of your walk with God?

For Josiah, it's easy to figure out what his favorite part of a Sunday morning worship service is: Sunday school. He has loved being part of the group of kids that meets all together for the first part of the Sunday school hour, then breaks off into different age groups. He loves the songs, stories, activities, etc. He just absolutely loves it. In fact, a week or so ago, he said, "I wish that Sunday school lasted the whole time!" He's learning to sit quietly and entertain himself patiently with calm activities during the regular service (although twice a month, he gets to go to children's church which is held during the sermon part of the service), but his heart is definitely the most excited about Sunday school.

For me, it's the music. I like to surround myself with music, whether it be music I listen to or music I make (or my children make!). But there's something uniquely powerful about gathering with a group of people who are all worshipping God in song. Whether it be a hymn written 500 years ago or a contemporary song written this year (and our church sings both), I find my soul filled in a special way on Sunday morning when the music begins.

For Jeff, I think he would agree with Josiah and say the Sunday school hour, because Jeff thrives in a small-group environment where rich discussions can be held. We're fortunate enough to have a retired college professor as our regular Sunday school teacher (when he doesn't pawn off his class on Jeff!), and his profundity is perhaps matched only by his wit. I remember my first time in his class...I could not figure him out. His dry humor took me completely by surprise and still catches all of us off guard sometimes. But the other very unique and special part of this class is the humility that the members show towards each other. Besides our teacher, there is another college religion professor in the class...and there is Jeff, who has some strongly-held opinions of his own! well as others who have studied a lot and formed deep convictions about any topic under the sun. It is obvious that not everyone agrees with everyone else, to say the least. But the humility and grace and respect that is shown by each one and to each one is amazing and refreshing.

This morning during the service, I was reminded again of the wide variety of people who make up our congregation--and that's just one congregation out of the multitude that exist around the world! How wonderful that God can speak to all of us, using different means and at different times, but in intimate, personal ways of dealing with our individual hearts and situations. What a creative God!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Still the One

One day this week, the song "Still the One" came on the radio; and I, not having heard it for a long time, said impulsively, "Oh, I like this song!" Josiah's question, not surprisingly, was "Why?" So I happily explained to him that the song was about a woman who had been married to her husband for a long time but loved him more than ever and was so glad that he was her husband. That explanation seemed to satisfy him, for which I was grateful. :)

That song and the memory of that conversation stuck with me, and they have been a sweet reminder this week of how very blessed I am to have this man for my husband. I was thrilled to have the photographer take some pictures of us as a couple last week, since until one of our children gets old enough to actually take pictures that aren't blurry (Josiah tries, but inevitably his pictures are indeed blurry), we don't often get the chance for these couple shots.

I can't imagine going through this pregnancy without the support and understanding and tender love of my wonderful husband...from the humorous times when he makes power equipment noises to imitate a crane in the middle of the night as I groan my way from one side to the other, to the teary times when he asks me kindly what's wrong and helps to ease whatever load is burdening me. He is definitely still the one for me!

Friday, December 21, 2007


In this stage of life when I feel like I'm barely squeaking by and not being excellent in anything, it sure is a good feeling to accomplish completely done with it...cross it off the list...and feel satisfied with it.

My accomplishment of this evening was wrapping Christmas gifts--always a fun job for me--but also a project that required an uninterrupted block of time. After I tucked the boys in bed, I sequestered myself in my room to do this job. They knew what I was doing; and for a while after I went into my room, they were still awake in their room across the hall. Anytime I would come out--to take a gift downstairs, to get supplies, or whatever--they peppered me with questions. Josiah, in particular, is very interested in knowing what came recently in the mail in a large package for him. :)

As I wrapped each gift, it was fun to pray for the recipient and to imagine their joy when they open it. As I mentioned before, I'm a gifts person...but one of the good thing about gifts people is that they not only love to receive gifts, they truly love to give them. Giving gifts to those I love is undoubtedly one of the best parts of Christmas for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Blogland is a funny world--a true community in the sense of being a place where friends, both real-life friends and "in the computer" friends, can share joys, sorrows, triumphs, defeats, laughs, cries, and all the rest of the multitude of emotions and happenings that comprise life. Whenever I take the time to check in with those blogs I follow, I can always find something to make me smile...and something that makes my heart ache.

Recently, for example, I read about a miscarriage here and here...and my heart wept. Then I read about a new baby here...and my heart rejoiced. Then I read a profound column about "Glass Balls" (scroll down in the sidebar) here...and my heart pondered. Then I watched a video clip here...and my heart sang.

Doing this blog has been one of the genuine joys of my life this past year, and I've been amazed at how many new friends and kindred spirits I've run across through this blogging connection, as well as how many old friends I've reconnected with in this way. When I started my blog, I didn't know ANYONE (except Jeff, and his blogging was a bit sporadic!) who was blogging. I read the blogs of other women that I didn't know personally, and was very inspired by what I read (inspired enough to try it out anyway!). But none of my friends were blogging...or if they were, I didn't know it! Now it's so much fun to look down my list of links and see who has a blog and be able to peek inside their lives and actually grow and cultivate our friendship in this way.

I'm obviously at the season of life where I don't have much time to run into town and join a friend for a cup of coffee...or go out with a group of women and see the latest romantic movie...or have someone over for hours and hours of uninterrupted conversation. So I'm especially grateful for the connection I can have through the computer. It may not be the same as face-to-face sharing, but it's a very helpful substitute during this phase of my life!

Another surprise that I've encountered through blogging is seeing how many women all across the country (and world) are interested in and are pursuing the "old-fashioned" arts of sewing, canning, crocheting, gardening, cooking, hosting tea parties, etc. Women--young and old--are devoting themselves to their children, to their husbands, to their homes, and to all kinds of home-making skills that FAR surpass my own.

Each of the blogs that I link to and that I visit has a little different flavor. Many times during this past year, I've had to remind myself that I am not them...and they are not me...and my blog doesn't have to look like theirs...and my accomplishments don't have to measure up to theirs. (Whew! It's a good thing, because I'd never make it!!!) I don't agree with everything posted by the bloggers I visit, and I'm sure they don't agree with everything I post. But what a fun way to share thoughts, gain inspiration, and spur one another on in our personal journeys of faith and family.

I know I wouldn't have posted this much or had this much fun with it this year, if it hadn't been for Jeff. He taught me everything I know! And I'm so very grateful for his help and encouragement.

I expect that I will have fewer posts in the new year, since I'll have an extra little guy around here to demand time and attention. But we'll see how it goes...

To all of you who journey with me in this way and who share your own journeys through your blogs, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Third Christmas Gift

I'm a gifts person. So, as a result, I like to tell Jeff things like: "What I really want for Christmas is..." He listens patiently, knowing that often I'll change my mind and decide that I really want something else for Christmas!

But this year, so far, I have said, "What I really want for Christmas is some professional maternity pictures," and I've gotten them.

Then I said, "What I really want for Christmas is a cheap CD player to have on the little table beside the glider rocker in our bedroom so that I can listen to our lullaby CDs while I nurse the baby there," and today at Walmart, we found one for $20...and Jeff bought it for me. Perfect.

But I had also said, "What I really want for Christmas is a BIG map of the world for our wall so that when we're studying various places during Learning Time, we'll be able to see exactly where they are." (After all, every homeschooling family worth their salt decorates their house with maps, right?) :) So, my dear husband ordered this huge map (a little bigger than 6' x 4') from eBay, and today at Home Depot we got the moulding to put around it, and tonight Jeff hung it for me. I love it. I can hardly wait to read about some exotic place with Josiah so that we can run upstairs to where this map is hung and find out where in the world that place is. Even tonight as I glanced casually over the map, I found myself thinking, "Hmm, I've never heard of that place before," and "Wow, I didn't realize that city was farther north than that one." I sure have a lot to learn!
So I feel richly blessed, as I've already received these three wonderful gifts for Christmas. And you know what? There are more packages under the tree for me! Am I spoiled or what??? :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Love that Belly!

Another fun pic from Sunday's photo shoot that I love... :)

Week 35

The highlight of this week of pregnancy is easy to identify: a photo session we had with a professional photographer on Sunday to shoot some maternity pictures. This was a dream come true for me--literally, something I had wanted "forever" and had specifically been planning for a very long time. Even when we were still living in Israel and making plans to move back to this house, I knew exactly which walls I wanted to hang these pictures on, and what else to surround the photos with...but I just didn't have the pictures yet. Now I do!!! :)

Our original plan for the photographer we were going to use fell through, so we went to Plan B. But it all worked out very well, and we were pleased with the photographer's manner, expertise, and price. We also were thrilled that he gave us a disk with all the pictures he shot, along with permission to edit in any way we wish and print it whenever and however we desire. He took the pics on Sunday, and gave us the disk today--sooner than we expected--and now comes the fun part: the editing. Jeff is actually much better at that than I am, but I think we'll both have fun playing around with it in the days to come.

For now, I thought I'd share these two pics just for fun, since I was really pleased with how they turned out even without editing.

On the other side of the coin, the hard part of this week has been fatigue. I am so tired. I have had to really push myself to accomplish anything this week. I'd much rather stay home, "sit on my egg" til it's ready, and enjoy my nest...but duty calls, and I must answer. Fortunately, our schedule really is getting lighter, with things more spaced out; and every time something ends (like Josiah's swimming lessons or like our Friday night potlucks), I feel a sense of relief that I've made it through one more thing and can take a break from it and focus on this upcoming birth.

I have to remind myself often that I won't feel this way forever. Someday I will have energy. Someday I will feel excited again about a project. Someday I will make big plans for planting flowerbeds...or organizing the closet in the guest room...or even simply accomplishing all the laundry. But for now, I crawl along at a snail's pace, maintaining what absolutely must be done (but not doing a great job with anything, I feel) and counting the hours until I can either take a nap or go to bed.

This too shall pass... :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brotherly Love

One of the joys of life at this stage is seeing how well Josiah and David can interact with each other...and how much amusement they get from each other. ("Can" being the important word here, since it implies that it's possible, not that it always happens!) But my cup runneth over when I spy these two little munchkins hanging out together and creatively entertaining each other.
~ Josiah and David looking at a toy catalog that came in the mail...they have gotten hours of enjoyment out of looking at this catalog and telling each other what they like the most!
~ Josiah giving David a ride in our laundry basket...David's co-passenger is a reindeer in a rocking chair

Mommy's Little Helpers

This past Saturday was a lovely day, with only one item on the agenda: making cookies. Josiah, David, and I stayed in our pajamas all day long...and took advantage of a very relaxed day. Bliss! :)

"Everyone" says to start your children helping you when they are very young to train them in good work habits and service to others. But "everyone" knows that more times than not, their "help" only succeeds in making more work for their mother in the end! I have experienced that many times, but now I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am actually realizing that my children's help can truly be useful! :)

Case in point: Saturday morning, Josiah had a great time sitting at our table and unwrapping Hershey Kisses for one of the kinds of cookies that we made. He could sit there and do it all by himself, without me having to be involved or come behind him to secretly "fix" it; and I could be busy doing other things in the kitchen. It was a genuine time-saver for me to have his help in that way.
And when we were mixing the cookie dough, Josiah could count and measure the amount of flour we needed--all by himself--and I was free to get the eggs out of the refrigerator, get the vanilla from the cupboard, grease the cookie sheets, etc. Another real time-saver!
Not to be outdone, David "helped," too...the old kind of help that needs cleaning up afterwards. Yes, he spilled flour on the counter as he mixed the dough a bit too vigorously...and yes, he smeared peanut butter on the counter as he randomly decided to set his wooden spoon down when he was tired of stirring, etc. But he was a happy camper to be involved in this project; and from seeing the example of his big brother, I was again inspired to let David participate, knowing that one day, he too will be a genuine help. And, anyway, maximum productivity is not the goal. Joyful, loving memory-making is a much higher achievement, for sure!
The finished product: 4 of the 70 cookies we made for our church's outdoor nativity. We, of course, had to keep the "broken" ones at home since we couldn't give less than our best. Those broken ones sure tasted yummy, and for some reason didn't last very long around here. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Beauty of Ice

As winter storms pound much of the nation, we are fortunate to only have had some freezing rain during the night...which, for us personally, meant that we had a new kind of beauty to see in the morning as the ice coated every branch, every blade of grass, every leaf, every wire in our fence, etc...but the temperature warmed up enough today to melt all the ice, and none of our plans for today got cancelled. A perfect storm--with all benefits and no disadvantages? For us, maybe, but there have definitely been lots of tree branches downed by the ice and wind in this area--and perhaps even more serious damage of which I am unaware.

The most exciting part of the storm for us was the power outage we had during the night last night. I woke up around 12:30 a.m. and was so disoriented by the lack of normal night appearance in our room that it took me a minute or two to figure out where I was! Later in the night, Josiah had the same thing happen to him when he awoke suddenly in his pitch-black room which seemed so different than his normal room with Christmas candle in the window, lit clock on the dresser, etc. He called out, "Mommy!" And I woke up and hurried to him to explain what was going on and let him know that everything was OK. He said, "I thought I was inside a fish!!!" :) He was quickly comforted and was reassured even more when I suggested that he keep his special flashlight in bed with him so he could use that if he needed it.
~ icicles on a tree branch...I found it challenging to take good pictures of the ice, but at least these pics convey the idea of the winter wonderland we had this morning
~ more little icicles
~ ice on holly leaves
~ after we got home from our church service, Jeff took this picture of the view of the mountain we see from our front window...the trees on the mountain all looked silvery and frosty, and the clouds were so interesting as they swept across the mountain

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Pepper Mill and Peppermint Cake

Jeff's birthday was this week; and as is our custom, the celebration happened on several days, rather than just one. On his actual birthday, my parents joined us for dinner, and we gave him a few "small" gifts...including this pepper mill. When we had been shopping in a discount store recently, he had noticed this and had expressed his liking of it--a rare thing for him to do--so I snuck back and bought it for him. After all, everyone needs a pepper mill that's literally 20 inches tall, right??? Some freshly ground pepper on your dinner, anyone? :)

Last night we had some friends over for our monthly Friday night potluck fellowship night, so we got to sing "happy birthday" to Jeff, watch him blow out some candles, and eat peppermint cake (aka, "Shank cake," which I may explain in another post) together.
I am unspeakably grateful for the gift of this past year of life with my beloved husband. It was his birthday we celebrated, but I'm the one who gets the gift of living with him day by day and enjoying all that he adds to my life.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Spotted on a Blog

"Could I climb the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim, 'Fellow citizens! Why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children, to whom one day you must relinquish it all?'" ~ Socrates

An old friend Julie recently reconnected with me through the world of blogging. It's always a special joy to pick up with someone in this way, especially during this season of life when there is not as much time for actually visiting with real live people in person! :) The quote above is from her, and I find it worthy of prolonged thought.

The Story about Ralia

Ralia is a woman that we knew in Tel Aviv. In her mid-80s at the time, she lived in a nursing home; and Josiah and I (and later David when he was born) would visit her every week--every Tuesday morning. She had one childless daughter who lives in California, but no other family. Her stories, when I could pry them out of her, were amazing; her life was far from easy, but extremely interesting as far as the turmoil she had lived through in the land of Israel and all the "drama" her life had held, as well as all the people she had met. Despite her age, she was very sharp mentally. She spoke Hebrew, German, English, Russian, and I can't remember what other languages. But she was lonely. With her only daughter living far away and able to visit just once a year, Ralia's life, which had been so full and exciting, was reduced to her room at the nursing home...and her crafts with which she filled her time. She was so talented and creative. She loved to make these little dolls (in the picture below are a set of her 7 dwarfs which I have on a bookshelf in our guest room and which never fail to put a smile on my face as I see their perky little faces), and she would come up with endless ideas for various dolls: cowboys, clowns, soldiers, dancers--you name it, she could make it--all without a pattern.
She also crocheted beautifully, and she made this baby afghan for David before he was born which was very special since she had been carefully following along during my entire pregnancy with him. Such an intricate design in this afghan, but her aged fingers still managed to do outstanding work.
Ralia became a grandmother-figure to Josiah and I during our weekly visits to her. She was not afraid to speak her mind. :) But I loved her for it, because she was literally the only person I had in that role at the time: the person who could reassure me that despite Josiah's developmental delays (not crawling til 16 months, not walking til 18 months, etc.), he was just fine and I didn't need to worry...the person who would say when I worried aloud that Josiah was so very shy, "he's not shy; he's just choosy about who he's friendly with." Though it wasn't always easy to make those Tuesday morning visits, they became a valuable part of our time in Israel and a treasured memory now.
Ralia did NOT like having her picture taken, and she absolutely refused to look at pictures of herself. Well, I could make her have her picture taken, especially when I posed her with one of my boys; but I couldn't make her look at the pictures afterwards...or, even more, keep one and display it in her room.
That is, until Jeff got involved.
Jeff, being the computer guru--and kind soul--that he is, decided to fix up a picture that Ralia would actually like. So he started with the picture below (Ralia holding David when he was just a few weeks old)...
...and morphed it into this picture (below). And you know what? Ralia loved it!!! :) It was a little tricky because she had no idea the photo had been tampered with, and I didn't dare breathe a word of Jeff's scheme to her when I presented her with the picture. But I could hardly contain my joy when I saw how surprised and happy she was with how well the picture had turned out! She visibly brightened when she saw it, then she studied it carefully before finally proclaiming that she actually liked the picture. Whew! What fun to encourage her...and leave her with a picture of her and a special little boy that she loved almost like a grandson.
I was so grateful for Jeff's computer knowledge--and his willingness to take the time to add some sparkle to the often bleak life of dear Ralia.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Week 34

Week 34 is over and gone, but I wanted to get this picture posted before this moment of time becomes too much of a distant memory! Once again, I'm in awe of Jeff's picture-taking and picture-editing. Gotta love those photo programs that enable a picture to be changed quite a bit! One of these days, I'll tell you about a woman named Ralia and some picture-editing that encouraged her...

As I think back to this past week of pregnancy, the overwhelming impression for me is how strongly my mental attitude affects my physical feelings. I had a few rough weeks--of discomfort, fatigue, eagerness for this pregnancy to be over, etc.--but this week, God has graciously given me a positive outlook again...and it's truly made all the difference. I feel grateful again for each day of this pregnancy...I feel like I can really enjoy this time...I feel content with this phase of life. I'm sure a variety of factors contributed to this change of heart, and maybe one of these days I'll take the time to write them down. But for now, I'm simply happy--happy to be pregnant, and happy to be happy to be pregnant! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Few of My Favorite...Decorations

To continue the theme from the last post... :)
~ I received this cute wall-hanging years ago in a gift exchange in San Diego...I like the quaintness it brings to our hearth area as I hang it above the woodstove (especially when I have various gloves, boots, and jackets of my boys hung by the fire to dry after a fun outing in the snow...which, by the way, is far from happening at this particular moment since our temperature today was 65 here!)
~ some sparkle on the easy and inexpensive, but I love it...small gold, silver, white, and clear glass balls randomly placed in an assortment of wine and champagne glasses (gotta make those glasses useful somehow!) :)
~ this is quite possibly my very favorite Christmas decoration, which I bought as a newlywed, working part-time in a Hallmark shop...I was glad to use my employee discount to get this!...but the thing that makes it so very special to me is that it is a pictorial representation of the dreams I had even then (and still have) for my family: an in-love Papa and Mama Bear, and four children, all together, peaceful, loving, joyful...I have a few other Christmas bear decorations, but this is by far the preferred one of all for me...and when I see it, I'm reminded of the gratitude I feel for God helping us get this far along the path to this dream coming true