Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Anti-procrastination, Day Three

The project I finished today was a fairly time-consuming one, and I'm fortunate that I was actually able to get a really good start on it last Saturday while my mother kept the boys at her house. The project was organizing and deep cleaning David's room. I needed to go through his armoire, take out the clothes he's grown out of, put the clothes he's growing into in the armoire, get a couple more storage boxes from the garage, clean them off (they sure get dusty and spider-webby down there!), put labels on them, normal cleaning and restocking of diapers in the drawer, etc...all the miscellaneous tasks of normal household upkeep! These pictures are of the closet in his room; this closet gets used for storage of all kinds of baby things as well as David's old clothes.

I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a task and crossing it off my list! :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Anti-procrastination, Day Two

Today, being Tuesday, was spent mostly out of the house. In this season of life, it seems like almost every Tuesday is a day to be gone from the house! Our activities today involved going to the post office, taking magazines to recycling, going to the library, having a play date with Trinity and Houston at our friends' Chris and Misty's house...home for naps...then in the late afternoon, Josiah and I went to his music class.

Despite being gone so much, I did accomplish two things on my anti-procrastination list. The first thing was easy, since it needed to be done at the library. Ever since we moved back here and started going to the library regularly, I have been wanting to ask a librarian about the process of finding certain books. Every time we go, I just browse on the shelves and never have a hard time finding great books to bring home to read to the boys; but I didn't know how to find specific ones that I might be looking for. In the olden days, when I was just a girl and was going to the very same library, there was a huge cabinet with a file system for the card catalog; and I understood that way of looking up books! But I didn't know the new system.

So today, I asked one of the very friendly librarians (whom I actually recognize from when I went to the library as a child...there are at least three women that work in the library now that I recognize from long ago!) to show me the system, and she was very glad to do so! It's a very simple, easy computer system; and I don't know why I waited so long to ask for help about it. (I always think that about anti-procrastinating projects..."Why did I wait so long to do this??? Silly me!") I'm excited to be able to look for certain books now, especially ones that I may want to use in Learning Time with Josiah.

The second thing I "anti-procrastinated" about was my refrigerator. Every year after we receive Christmas cards, I always take off the old pictures I've posted on the frig, and replace them with the new batch. Well, it's almost the end of February, and I still had not done that project which should have been done the first week of January! I actually started working a bit on it yesterday, but tonight I finished that and am so happy to have that done! It's so much fun to look on the frig and see the smiling faces of our dear friends. It's a wonderful way to remember them all through the year!

I also got to put up on the refrigerator the Mary Engelbreit magnets that Jeff gave me for Christmas. I love Mary Engelbreit magnets and had put that on my Christmas list. :) Jeff gave me an abundant number of them for Christmas, and I'm delighted to see them on my frig--a happy reminder of my mother, who shares my love of Mary Engelbreit magnets, and of my beloved husband.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What Jokers!

Today as we were taking pictures off the refrigerator, Josiah saw a picture of Jeff wearing this joker then Josiah wanted to wear it... then I wanted to wear then Josiah wanted to take a picture. There's nothing like wearing a jolly joker hat and smiling for the camera while your younger son has a fit of stubbornness that lasts for two hours straight!

National Day of Power Struggles?

Someone somewhere must have determined that this was Power Struggle Day. I didn't get the memo, but both of my children obviously did; I've had/am having major confrontations with both of them today. Whew, I'm exhausted! Is it bedtime yet? :)

Anti-procrastination, Day One

Some weeks ago, a blog that I sporadically follow held an anti-procrastination week. I thought it was a great idea because, for goodness' sake, there are so many things around here that I procrastinate about! But the timing of that week didn't work well for me, so I tucked the idea away for a future date. Well, the time has come...

As I sat down to make a list of things that I could accomplish here in my anti-procrastination week, I very easily came up with 11 items. And I'm sure if I think a few more minutes, I'll come up with a dozen more! But I've got enough ideas to get me started.

So far today, I have...
1. written in a journal that Jeff and I use to write special letters back and forth to each other--it's a guided journal with leading questions written by Dennis & Barbara Rainey--the last time I wrote in it, I'm ashamed to say, was January 24, 2006!
2. cleaned my microwave, inside and out--this should have been done months and months ago--just ask Vicky who encountered my very dirty microwave when she was babysitting one time, and was assured by Josiah that it's OK, that's how it always is! :)

I have also been working on laundry (normal Monday job) and have done Learning Time with Josiah. It's been a great day so far, helped by the fact that David has taken a nice long nap. His sickness has made him extra tired, and I've enjoyed the extra time to get things done.

I'm addicted to productivity. I can't wait to go anti-procrastinate some more! :)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Today's Snow Pictures

My Deepest Desire

One devotional that I have been reading on an (almost!) daily basis is Night Light for Parents by the Dobsons. It's good stuff--mostly very solid, basic stuff that doesn't rock my world with profound, new insights, but is always a good reminder and inspiration for me. But some reading that I did in it last night struck me in a much deeper way.

To give some background, my greatest fear in life (way bigger than my fear of snakes, dying, a loved one dying, or anything else) is that my children will choose to walk away from God and not make it to heaven. A daily prayer of mine is that we will all make it to heaven so we can be with God and each other forever. I know this prayer and this fervent desire of my heart is shared by so many other parents; I'm not original at all in this!

Sometimes I take this too far though, and almost feel paralyzed by it. The anxiety about the spiritual well-being of my children can be a crushing burden, making me over-critical (towards my children and myself), over-analytical, and most of all missing out on the joy of living each day as it comes, trusting God for the outcome of my children's lives.

The devotional I read last night started with a story by Gigi Graham Tchividjian about her prodigal son. This line in particular caught my attention: "I wasn't prepared for a prodigal. I never imagined I would one night lie in bed, wondering where my son was. But once you love, you are never free again, and the Lord caused this heartbreaking situation to teach me many things."

I do I'm not free...I will always be bound by cords of love stronger than I can even fathom, tied inextricably to the well-being and destiny of my children, and the choices they make that affect their well-being and destiny.

In the past, I have at times prayed, "God, if You know that my children would grow up to not follow You, then please just close my womb and don't give me any, because I can't bear the pain of them walking away from You." But then I had kids, so my prayer changed to, "God, if You know that I, as a mother, would hinder my children's spiritual health, please let me die so that they can be raised by another who could help them more than I. God, do anything, just please let them make it to heaven."

These words from Dr. Dobson resonated within my soul: "Parenthood is one of the greatest blessings in life--yet it can also bring on the greatest anguish. Can anything compare to the pain of watching beloved daughters or sons walk away, turning their backs on the love, values, and faith you have so carefully nurtured over many years? Is there a higher torment than seeing your precious children suffer or needlessly abuse themselves? Far too many mothers and fathers wake up to this agonizing reality, and you have my utmost sympathy if you are facing this situation tonight. Nearly as distressing for many moms and dads is the fear that they will lose their children as we have just described. These parents are tortured daily by doubt and guilt. They ask themselves: Do I know what I'm doing? Am I turning my children into monsters? Have I doomed them to eternal damnation by the mistakes I've already made?"

I can relate to that!

Another thing that swirls through my mind is how I've seen so many other families "lose" one or more of their children, as the children choose to ignore their Godly upbringing and live a worldly life. I think of so many examples: 1 out of 3 children following God in one family I know, 2 out of 3 in another, 2 out of 4, 1 out of 4, etc. How many families do I know in which all the grown children are zealously pursuing their relationship with God as the most important thing in their life? Not many. But with my own children, I don't want a percentage of them to follow God. I'm not willing to sacrifice any of them to the devil. I want them ALL (present and future children) to be in heaven someday.

(As I'm typing this, the song, "Home Free" by Wayne Watson just came on...what a tear-jerker! I could cry simply from hearing this song...I could also cry simply from thinking about how much I love my children. The combination is too much!) :)

Of course, the conclusion I must come to is that 1) God loves my children even more than I do and is working even harder (and more effectively) than I to ensure that they choose Him, and 2) in the end, it it my children's choice, and I cannot make it for them.

More words from Dr. Dobson that comfort me: "The self-doubt that plagues so many parents today is largely a cultural phenomenon. If you are among these parents, we suggest you turn away from the world's whispers and focus on the comfort and truth that come from our heavenly Father, 'Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.' (Psalm 55:22) You can no more be a perfect parent than you can be a perfect human being. Lean on the Lord to make up the difference--and don't let anxiety and guilt steal the joy of parenting."

God's Smuggler

While we were in California, I read the book God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew. It told the story of his life, especially the way God drew him to Himself and called him to a daring ministry of smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. Simply fascinating reading! I had grown up knowing about Brother Andrew and his missionary work, but I don't think I had ever read his book. It was enjoyable, inspiring, and challenging, all at the same time.

"I Couldn't NOT Help Them"

Snow fell during the night and into the morning, blanketing everything with a gorgeous layer of wet snow that clung to every wire in every fence and every branch on every tree. Breathtakingly beautiful...also breathtaking in another way, since it was a very heavy snow and shoveling it was literally breathtaking exercise! :)

Dad called this morning to tell us our mailbox had been knocked down, perhaps by a snow plow, so Jeff went across the road where our mailbox is to fix it. He tried to screw it back into the post, but when that didn't work, resorted to nailing it in--mission accomplished. He also saw that the mailbox of our neighbor who lives across the road had been knocked off (our mailboxes share a post) and had actually been more damaged than ours. So Jeff set to work fixing it for them and got it back on the post and ready to receive mail.

I was so impressed that he had taken the extra time and effort to put their mailbox up; and when I told him that, he said, "I COULDN'T just fix ours and not fix theirs, too." Oh! couldn't?...a lot of people could have and would have...people in this world of ours don't always take the time to lend a helping hand...most don't really love their neighbor as themselves.

Anyway, good for you, Schmu (yeah, cute nickname, huh? for those of you reading along, that's one of my nicknames for Jeff)'ve really impressed me today with your heart to serve!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Sand Ceremony

One aspect of the wedding ceremony that I had never seen before was the sand ceremony. Mike, Karen, and the minister alternately poured colored sand into a large glass vessel, to symbolize Mike & Karen's lives coming together and God's presence over it all. I really liked this...especially for an outdoor wedding where a unity candle would not be practical.

Family at the Wedding

Jeff's mother
Jeff's brother Greg and his brother-in-law Mike
Weddings are always a fun time to take pictures, and thanks to our digital camera, we were able to take LOTS of them--over 200 pictures. Jeff took most of them and got some really good shots.
One thing that was special about Mike's wedding (Jeff's brother Mike, not to be confused with Jeff's brother-in-law Mike!) is that almost the entire Fisher clan was together, and that doesn't happen very often. Only one niece and one nephew were missing; but other than that, all of us were there.

The Wedding

The bride
The groom
Jeff, Davene, Josiah, & David
One of the main reasons that we decided to go to California recently was for the wedding of Jeff's oldest brother, Mike, to his bride, Karen. Their wedding was held outdoors, at the Fullerton Arboretum; and even in California, it's a little risky to plan a February wedding outdoors. But God blessed them with a gorgeous day--the weather couldn't have been better! It was warm, even hot in the sun, then cooled down as evening approached--beautiful. As we were driving back to San Diego after the wedding, we started seeing more and more clouds; and the next day, it rained.
On Tuesday, the night before our flight, we stayed with Mike and Karen because they live close to the airport (well, relatively close, in a LA kind of way!), and that made it easier to catch our morning flight. Mike and Karen are going to Hawaii for their honeymoon, but they're not going until the beginning of March, so they graciously let us crash at their house for the night. It was so much fun to see their home and spend some time with them. Mike is so generous and articulate and persuasive (I think that's a characteristic of the Fisher men), and Karen is so warm and welcoming and friendly--a wonderful couple--and we wish them many years of happiness together!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Happy Moment

Here are Josiah and Sebastian enjoying a happy moment together. Josiah enjoyed watching Sebastian play a video game, and Sebastian let Josiah try his hand at it, too.

Home Sweet Home

"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!"

We arrived home safely last night, around 10:00 pm, tired, sick (both Josiah and David got sick during our trip)...but very glad to have gone on the trip and very glad to be home. I always feel that it's great to go...and great to come home again!

The flight went wonderfully--even better than the flight to California. From fellow travelers, we received so many compliments on the boys' behavior, and that's such an encouragement to parents!

Today was a day of trying to unpack, catch up, and get adjusted to "normal" life again. My efforts to do so were hampered by David who, when he was awake, wanted nothing more than for me to hold him because he wasn't feeling well. We did a lot of reading and cuddling today! Maybe I'll make faster progress tomorrow...but then again, who knows what tomorrow will hold? And today was a day to treasure! :)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Riding in Style

On Saturday, we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park with our great friends Robert & Liberty and their son Trenice. We were so grateful that they brought this wagon along with them for our boys to ride in, especially because Josiah was feeling a little sick and wasn't up to doing a lot of walking. It was a huge help to be able to pull them around in this!

Jeff at the Wild Animal Park

David at the Wild Animal Park

Saturday, February 17, 2007

In the Jacuzzi

One of the things we look forward to when we visit Mike and Kim is relaxing in their jacuzzi. The boys didn't waste any time; these pictures were taken the very first afternoon we were here!

Sleeping in a Hurricane

Last night I awakened to the sound of wind--very strong wind. I had heard about the winds that come to Alpine where we are staying, but I don't think we've ever personally experienced them during any of our visits here. In any case, I could hardly believe how windy it was; it literally made me feel like I was sleeping in a hurricane. This morning, Jeff's brother Greg estimated that the winds were 60-65 mph; and Jeff's mother thought we may have had gusts up to 80 mph. The wind is still blowing now, and sometimes it even continues for several days. Wow, that's some strong wind!!! (Apparently, the national weather service said winds were 30-35 choose whom you want to believe!) :)

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the Airplane

"Lollipops are a great way to pass the time on this lloonnggg flight!"
"Dandee the teddy bear likes flying, too!"

Logan's First Haircut

Here is Uncle Jeff giving 9 month old Logan his first haircut...while Logan poses for the camera like a pro. You can tell he's used to getting his picture taken! His mommy is an amazing scrapbooker, and someday he will thank her for all the time and effort she put into preserving memories for him!

Chocolate Ice Cream, Outside, February

Touching the Pacific

Josiah and Sebastian

Josiah has a cousin named Sebastian who is 4 months younger than him--essentially, the same age.  It has been interesting to see them grow up together; every time we visit, they have both grown and developed so much and are at a new stage since they were last together.
The funny thing to me is how they can be the best of friends one minute--yet fight like cats and dogs the next.  Such an antagonistic relationship they have!  They know how to push each other's buttons and argue over every little thing, but they miss each other when they're apart.  Yesterday afternoon, Jeff, the boys, and I went to a farmer's market in Chula Vista; and while we were gone, Sebastian and his mommy went to the park.  In the car, Josiah said, "I miss Sebastian."  And when we got back to the house, we heard that Sebastian had been crying on his way home from the park because he was missing Josiah.  And yet, they weren't together more than a few minutes before a dispute broke out.
I don't think I ever had a relationship like this so I don't really understand it.  It's puzzling to me to watch them together--and most especially, to know how to deal with it.  Be a constant referee?  Let them fight it out?  Or something else?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shopping Cart Etiquette

Today we were in the parking lot of Walmart, and Jeff commented on a difference that he noticed between California and Virginia.  In California, people don't walk extra steps to take their shopping cart back to the proper place.  We parked two spaces away from a cart return, yet there were several carts pushed to the front of the space where we parked, and Jeff had to park carefully so that he didn't bump them.  It literally would have taken the people 30 seconds or less to walk a few steps to return their cart, but they didn't do it.
In Virginia, not only do people make sure they put their own cart back when they're done with it, they also usually grab one to take into the store with them when they go.  They may walk halfway across the parking lot to get an empty cart to take into the store even though they could simply walk into the store and get one at the door.  And in Virginia, we have never seen a parking lot so littered with abandoned carts as we did here today.
~ Time for a disclaimer: this is in no way a condemnation of California; obviously, from my last post, I love California dearly.  And of course, this is a gross generalization of Virginians and Californians with numerous exceptions to the rule.  But it is a snapshot of a cultural difference between the two states.  :)

Feels Like Home

One of my first impressions as we were driving down the freeway to San Diego yesterday was, "Wow, this really feels like home.  I can't believe how much this feels like home!!!"  It was such a strong impression--and was such a surprise to me.  I realize that we did spend 5 and 1/2 years here; and they were formative years as far as our marriage, first child, deep friendships go.  But I also know that we were really happy to leave San Diego (because we were moving to Israel); and after Israel, we were thrilled to be returning to Virginia.  Virginia really is my deep family home, so why these feelings for San Diego and California? 
Everything was just so familiar--the freeway, the palm trees, the signs, the ocean, the grocery stores and fast food restaurants that we don't have in Virginia, the pleasant February weather, the buildings and landmarks, the geography, the gorgeous houses on the tops of cliffs, etc.  It felt so natural and completely normal to be here.
I have often thought in recent years that my heart is divided into three places: California, Israel, and Virginia.  No matter where we are, our hearts always feel torn, missing the people in the places where we are not.  So I've known that a piece of me is in those three places.  But I didn't realize how deep the feeling of home was in those places as well.  As Jeff said yesterday, "It's like we have three homes," and you know--I think he's exactly right.

We're Here!

The sun is shining...the birds are singing...and life is sweet here in California! 
We arrived yesterday with no problems, grateful to have left the East Coast before the ice and snow hit and closed down everything.  It's always an interesting process to pick dates for a trip--not knowing what the future may hold as far as weather, possible sickness within the family that may affect flying, or even the safety of each individual aircraft.  It feels a little bit like throwing darts in the dark, but fortunately God can even see in the dark...and we feel so grateful for Him leading us to the times and dates for our flight that He did.
After an early morning wake-up call yesterday (4:00 am), the boys, although tired, did very well on the flight.  Josiah did perfectly, and David was fine as long as he was entertained to keep his mind off the fact that he couldn't get down and run around!  One blessing was our seating--we were on the last row of the plane, but there were no other people in that row so we were able to have some extra room, and both boys got a window seat.
Other random things from yesterday:
~ we had an incredible view of the Grand Canyon as we flew over
~ the man who sat in front of David (and whose wife slipped M&M's to David to keep him quiet toward the end of the flight) was obviously a frequent flier, and he said that he had never seen such a huge storm system as the one we flew over
~ we hit turbulence, enough to give me a queasy stomach...Josiah thought it was fun!
~ we got upgraded for free to a minivan when we picked up our rental car...then when we went out to the minivan they had for us (it was brand new, only 18 miles on it), it wouldn't they gave us another one, and we dragged our weary selves and all our stuff from the first one into the second one, very grateful to finally be on the way to San Diego
~ the view of the Pacific Ocean as we drove down the 5 freeway from LA to San Diego was absolutely gorgeous...I'm eager to go stick my toes in the water
~ we always get our TV education when we visit Jeff's sister Kim and her husband Mike...they're wonderfully generous hosts, and we love being with them...they have a huge-screen TV, and last night we watched American Idol for the first time ever...I couldn't believe how emotional everybody was on that show...don't they know going into it that there's only the smallest, slimmest, tiniest chance that they'll win the show?...why do they act so devastated when they get cut?

Monday, February 12, 2007

California Dreamin'

We're off to the land of sunshine and warm weather!  Jeff's brother Mike is getting married on Sunday, and we're seizing the opportunity for a family vacation in beautiful California--to attend the wedding, visit family and friends there, and even cross the border for a trip to Tijuana, Mexico.  As long as we can get out of here before the approaching snowstorm hits, we should have smooth sailing--if the boys stay happy on the plane ride!  Both of them have flown before, but that was a long time ago...about a year and a half ago, actually.  It will be interesting to see how they do on the flight and what holds their attention and keeps them entertained.  In any case, a flight to California is not nearly as long as those flights to Israel used to be, so I'm not complaining!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bigger than Me

More times than I care to admit, I think of God only in terms of my location, my time frame, and my situation. How easy it is to elevate ourselves to the center of the universe, rather than realize what a speck we are in the grand scheme of things (a beloved speck for whom Jesus died, but a speck nevertheless)! Once in a while, I capture a sense of how big God is and how huge His family is, extending not only around the world in my generation, but extending back through time in ALL generations. My vision of God and the way He works constantly needs to be expanded both geographically and historically.

My latest reminder of this came in the form of a CD, Hiding Place, by a group named Selah. On the CD, they record the song By and By (better known in my circle as Trials Dark on Every Hand or When the Morning Comes or Lauren Westbrook's favorite song). Here is what was written by one of the members of Selah in the program notes for the recording on the CD...

In 1948 my grandfather Laban and grandmother Marcella started the mission
station of Nkara-Ewa. This is where Nicol and I grew up in Congo, Africa. So
many people were coming to know Jesus as their Savior that the Belgian
government outlawed baptism for two years. They thought the people were excited
and didn't know what they were doing. My grandparents continued to disciple and
share the gospel during those two years. The recording you're hearing is of my
grandfather in our lake on the first day he was allowed to baptize. The Belgian
government didn't realize how real Jesus was to the Congolese, because on this
day over 1,000 people were baptised. In the background you can hear my
grandmother and the Congolese singing the old hymn "We'll Understand It Better
By and By" which she and my father Jim translated into Kituba.

Reading that...thinking about faithful servants of God moving to Congo years and years ago...imagining the crowd of people eager to be baptized because Jesus was so real to them...hearing their all lifted my mind yesterday from my miniscule corner of the world and corner of time to realize how huge--gigantic--enormous God is. There literally aren't enough words to describe it.

My favorite line in that old hymn is this: All the saints of our God are gathering home; we will tell the stories of how we've overcome... I always picture sitting around with a bunch of people drinking hot chocolate with peppermint flavoring or some other heavenly drink and sharing our "war stories"..."yeah, I lived during the last days of the Roman empire; and I only had a few days to live after I became a Christian; the Romans fed me to the lions and laughed as I died; but I rejoiced at the opportunity to see my Lord face to face so soon after first hearing of Him"..."I lived in the USA at a time of great prosperity, and Satan tried to use that to make me complacent and focused on earthly things; but I fought him off and eagerly looked forward to heaven; and I turned his tricks around--I used all that prosperity to feed the hungry and share the Gospel with those in other parts of the world who had never even heard about Jesus"..."well, I was one of those who had never heard about Jesus--until a man with skin so white it blinded my eyes came to my country of Congo and told me about Him; and when I was baptized, about 1,000 other people were with me"... Can you imagine??? How incredible that will be!

I know oftentimes here on earth, when we hear other's stories of great victories, it makes us feel like losers, as we compare ourselves to them and judge ourselves to be less. But in heaven, all the insecurity and pride and jealousy and comparison will be stripped away, leaving simple pure rejoicing in the triumphs of every single one of heaven's inhabitants against our old enemy Satan. I can hardly wait!!!

Functional Beauty

It's a wonderful thing when an object is not only functional, but also beautiful...and when it also reminds us of someone we cherish, that's icing on the cake!

One tiny part of God's body gathered in our home today for fellowship, worship, and encouragement; and I used this bowl for the apple salad I made for our lunch together. As I was putting it away this evening, I asked Jeff, "If this bowl was a person, who would it be?" He thought of the bowl as Mexican sunshine, so his answer was Maggie Arellano--an excellent choice--but I was thinking of the colors of Italy, and that brought to mind Charlene Lisi with her beautiful home with its rich shades of color and its continual warm welcome. I wonder...if I was a bowl, what would I look like?

David's First Chocolate Milkshake

Everyone talks about the well-known firsts of childhood: first step, first word, first tooth, etc. But today we celebrated another first--true, it's a lesser-known first--but it was still very exciting for one small member of our family. This evening Jeff made a homemade chocolate milkshake and was kind enough to share it with David who, not surprisingly, quickly became a huge fan of chocolate shakes!


This is the way my day started...with a beautiful sunrise through the trees of our neighbor's woods. What a way to start a new day!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last Sunday when we were watching the Super Bowl at a friend's house, Jeff remarked to me about how last year when we were watching the game, David would cry from fright every time the people watching clapped and cheered for a good play. I had forgotten about that, although I was aware of the fact that I had not really enjoyed last year's Super Bowl party...but I didn't remember why until Jeff's reminder. Ah, how it comes back to me! I remember walking with David in my arms, trying to soothe him...I remember that I couldn't even sit down and enjoy a good bowl of chili because of holding David...I remember wishing that everybody would stop cheering and just watch the game silently...I remember wanting to just go home! But this year--what a difference! Most of the time, David was as jolly as he could be...walking/running around the living room...climbing on the people who were lying on the floor...wandering into the kitchen from time to time for another chip...being tickled and entertained by a number of people, especially his new pal Leanna. I actually got to sit down between Doris and Matt and eat a bowl of Trey's delicious (ahem--last-place finish) chili! It was eye-opening to realize how much David has changed in a year.

And that got me thinking about Josiah... A year ago, we were in the very final stages of potty training with him--only, at the time, I didn't realize they were the very final stages, and I envisioned his potty training stretching on into infinity. His big hold-up was a real reluctance to poop on the potty, and what a celebration we had when that hurdle was overcome! Anyone who was here that night for our home fellowship/potluck probably still remembers Josiah coming out of the bathroom, running into the living room, and exclaiming loudly, "I went kaka on the potty! Now I get a train!!!" We were all rejoicing that night! And now here we are a year later with those moments simply a distant memory for us, and our present reality in the day-to-day of life is full of new challenges and new joys. Isn't growth great?

Further Insight into the Mind of My Son

Last Monday, I wrote about Josiah's falling-in-the-toilet incident. Yesterday something happened that helped me understand the reason for the sheer terror that Josiah was oh-so-loudly demonstrating as he sat dripping wet and waiting for me to come rescue him.

Before we left the house to go grocery shopping yesterday morning, the boys were with me in the upstairs bathroom where we were brushing teeth, doing hair, etc. David, being curious, peered over the edge of the toilet into the water below until Josiah said, "David, don't touch that water. It will kill you!" A lightbulb went on in my head, and I asked Josiah, "When you fell in the potty a few days ago, did you think you would die from that?" He replied affirmatively; and when I asked him why he thought that, he said that he had heard someone say that the water in a toilet would kill a person! I get wonder he was so scared on that day!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Learning Time Letters

Today in Learning Time, Josiah practiced writing the letters "o" and "c." Then he wrote words using those two letters, plus the letters "l," "i," and "t" (he had reviewed those letters in a previous Learning Time). It was a fun exercise for my brain to think of all the words I could that used those letters (I'm sure there are more, but those in the picture are all I came up with this morning), then explain the words to Josiah if he was not familiar with them. I'm so proud of him for how well he writes!!!

Makes Sense to Me!

Josiah says a few things these days that make me smile.

First, he thinks that stoplights should be called stoplights when the light is red...but when the light is green, he calls them go-lights. Makes sense to me!

Second, he knows what shortcuts are, but he also thinks we should use the word longcuts to mean the long way around. On Tuesday morning, we were visiting my great-aunt Lorraine at a retirement home near here, the same place where we went Christmas caroling in December. When we went caroling, we took a very circuitous route through the building, visiting all the different floors and wings of the floors...but when we visited Aunt Lorraine, we went directly to and from her room. As we were leaving, Josiah asked if we could take the longcut through the building. Makes sense to me! :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Scenes from a Snowy Day

We were blessed with about 3 inches of snow which fell during the night. It's so much fun to wake up to a winter wonderland! I had to get out the camera this morning to try to capture a bit of our world.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A Man of His Word

Josiah discovered this Labyrinth game in our closet today; and when I told him that Grandpa used to play it a lot, Josiah got really excited about showing it to Grandpa and playing it with him. When my parents came up for dinner this evening, Josiah brought up the subject of playing it together; but after dinner, my parents had to go to a farm for milk (we drink raw milk straight from the farm--it's delicious--my favorite drink in the world!) and so Grandpa couldn't play with Josiah then. After they returned from getting milk, it was cold, dark, and snowing; and I felt sure that Grandpa was anxious to get back to his house; but he said, "After I drive the truck down to our house, I'll walk back up and play Labyrinth with Josiah." I told him he didn't need to worry about it; I could explain to Josiah that Grandpa needed to go and would play with him another time. But my faithful-to-his-promises dad said, "No, I told him I would play with him, so I'm going to do it." And then he came back up to our house through the cold and snow, just to keep his word to a four year-old boy. I admire that so much. Thanks, Dad!

Information Overload

Today as I was reading Finding Your Purpose as a Mom, I read this: "A related contributor to our cultural time crunch is the deluge of information that pours down on all of us every day. It is said that an educated man in seventeenth-century Europe could know everything then known to Western culture. Today, the total quantity of available information doubles every 18 months. No one can know all or even a substantial portion of it."

Isn't that amazing? I often wish I had more time so that I could just LEARN more stuff...I feel so uninformed in so many ways. Maybe when someone invents time travel, I'll zoom back to the seventeenth century to catch up!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Uncherished Moments

I think one of the challenges that every mother--in fact, every person--I know faces is to appreciate the here and now of life. It's easy to long for what's coming; we can paint the future in rosy tones. But to embrace our lives now and to have eyes that are open to the wonder of it all seems to be a constant issue.

This morning I was reading a mommy journal that I follow regularly, and I read this:
Every now and then, I look at my family and realize, with heart-stopping
clarity, "This is beyond phenomenal." And then I get caught up in something
distracting — the fact that Anna's shoes are too small, or that the dishwasher
isn't actually getting things clean anymore. Life churns on, uncherished moments
fluttering behind us like confetti.

Just then, I heard Josiah screaming--literally, at the top of his lungs. I don't know if I've ever heard him scream like that so loud for so long. I ran up the steps to check on him, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, wondering what on earth was wrong. I knew it must be something absolutely dreadful. Was there a snake in the house? Had Josiah had an aneurysm? Had someone with a gun broken into our house? I could not imagine what it was.

I found Josiah in the bathroom, standing on the stool in front of the toilet, with the back of his shirt wet, still shrieking away. I assumed that he had tried to get to the bathroom in time but had not succeeded so had wet his pants. I wasn't sure why the back of his shirt was so wet, but I didn't have time to figure it all out. I tried to calm him and take his clothes off while he was yelling over and over, "I don't LIKE being wet!"

It took a while to decipher the sequence of events, but apparently the seat of the toilet had been up, so when Josiah tried to sit down...he fell in! As I write this, I cannot stop laughing; but it was anything but funny at the moment. He was in such a panic; and although I can't get inside his head, I wonder what he was thinking as he slipped down into the water. My poor Josiah! Anyway, the wetness of the back of his shirt was not from him not making it to the bathroom in time, just from the wrong placement of a toilet seat.

By the way, if anyone is reading this, please NEVER mention this to Josiah!!! I have not talked with him further about it today. He hasn't brought it up, so I've let it drop. So please, please do not embarrass him with this! :)

After I got Josiah cleaned up and in dry clothes, I came back to the computer and finished reading about uncherished moments--and thought, "Yep, one of these days I'm not going to have a little boy falling in the toilet anymore, so I'd better be grateful for it while it lasts!" :)

To Help Us Appreciate Winter

These pictures are from that hot July afternoon I referred to in my last post. It's true--July will come again, probably with very high temperatures; and when it does, we'll all be wishing for a little cold. So to help my own perspective on this very frigid night to be thankful, I'm remembering hot July!

Tis the Season

Tis the season--for turtlenecks! I've been working on laundry today; and I've washed, dried, folded, and put away the following clothing items of mine: a white turtleneck, another white turtleneck, a chocolate brown turtleneck, a navy blue turtleneck, a dark green turtleneck, and a black turtleneck. I think the only turtleneck I didn't wear this week was my light green one; I'll probably wear it soon. Oh, and guess what I'm wearing as I write this? A turtleneck!

It was 7 degrees this morning here at our house--and that's 7 degrees Fahrenheit (-13.9 degrees for you Celsius folks). Tonight it is once again 7 degrees, and I'm sure it will get lower than that during the night. I can hardly wait to fly to California next week--not just for the weather, of course--but I am looking forward to higher temps!!!

It never ceases to amaze me how our bodies adapt to our climate, wherever we may be. Whatever is cold for our particular climate seems cold to us, and the same thing is true with heat...but when we go to a different climate, it all changes. I remember when I was a senior in college and I flew to San Diego to visit Jeff (to whom I was engaged at the time). It was December 1996. I was enjoying wearing summer dresses and going barefoot as I sat in the porch swing on Jeff's sister's patio, but all the California folks thought I was crazy. I had come from the cold and snow of my college in Pennsylvania though so the weather seemed really warm to me!

It also amazes me that the weather can change so much so that during part of the year, we are so hot that we wear as few clothes as possible and still sweat like crazy, but during another part of the year--the same year in the same place--we are so cold that we bundle up as much as we can and still feel cold. I was looking at pictures today from a HOT July Sunday afternoon volleyball game and thinking, "I can't believe we were really that hot; I remember feeling on that day like I would simply melt like a pat of butter in a hot skillet!" And now here I huddle in my turtlenecks, shoving as much wood into our woodstove as will possibly fit in an effort to stay warm. What a contrast!

This doesn't just happen in Virginia. When we lived in Tel Aviv which has a more temperate climate than here, the same thing was true. I have vivid memories of dressing Josiah in a onesie, than a sleeper, than a sleeping sack before putting him to bed in the winter--and I still worried that he might be cold, and sometimes even put blankets on top of him (after he was old enough to be safe with blankets). But during the summer, he would wear just a diaper to bed and would still be hot!

Well, enough reflections on the weather. This cold snap certainly makes me grateful for our warm home. I can see how people could easily die in this weather.


A favorite game of the Fisher boys, invented by our very own Josiah! I'm not sure why he picked the name "Craziness" for it, but it certainly has stuck--and it seems highly appropriate!

Chef Jeff's Chili

This was Jeff's entry into the chili competition last night. Isn't it lovely? Speaking completely free from bias, I must say that the taste is excellent, but you really have to appreciate highly spicy foods to truly enjoy this chili to its highest potential. I would say it definitely deserved higher than the 7th place ranking it received. Like I said, I'm not biased at all in that...just speaking the truth in love!

For dinner tonight, we ate some of the leftover chili; and if I diluted my bowl of chili with roughly half sour cream/half chili, I could eat it with only a manageable amount of tongue-burning.


This is how us folks eat our supper out here in the country. But if you're from the city and you come 'round here looking for this kind of tomfoolery, ain't nobody gonna show it to you...not 'afore you done lived here for generations. We generally try to keep up appearances 'round them city folk.

Sunday, February 4, 2007


Tonight we are going to a friend's house for a Super Bowl party; the Camerons will once again host a chili cook-off with a spectacular prize for first place. Rumor has it that the prize awarded the winner last year actually broke the very first time it was used, but I'm certain the quality of prizes has improved drastically since then!

In any case, I decided not to enter chili this year--I'm still recovering from my dismal finish last year. After all those burning tongues of fire, I figured we're gonna need something sweet--and sweet, I can do. So this afternoon found me making a mess in my kitchen, whipping up brownies, congo squares, and turtles. As I was making the turtles, the sight of the pecans standing in rows like soldiers, awaiting their baptism of boiling butter and brown sugar and chocolate chips, caught my eye, so I decided to snap a picture of them. Sometimes we miss the beauty of ordinary things--ordinary moments--and although I'm not saying this picture is particularly beautiful, there is something pleasing about it to my eye.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Wake-up Call

Every once in a while, God gives me a wake-up call; sometimes, it's more like a slap in the face. It's as if God knows that every so often, I get complacent and unappreciative of the rich blessings of my life, so He gives me a glimpse of how life could be for me, but for His grace. This time, the wake-up call came in the form of a blog ( that I found through another blog, and now I can't even remember exactly how I did find it! But it's a heart-breaking--and heart-warming--story of a little boy named Joel who had cancer and died. Joel had a twin brother named Josiah; and any story about a Josiah grabs my attention immediately. In this case, I found tears coming to my eyes numerous times as I read; and I could so easily imagine cancer striking our family and one of our boys being struck down. I can't even come close to imagining the pain that would cause; and as I tuck my boys in bed these days, I give them extra hugs, kisses, and squeezes, not even wanting to let go and say a final good night, knowing that but for the grace of God, these lives that are so precious to me could slip away so quickly.

My New Favorite Quote about Heaven

I just read this today and immediately attached myself to it; it's a profound thought on which to meditate.

We are not citizens of this world trying to make our way to heaven; we are citizens of heaven trying to make our way through this world...we live as those who are on a journey home; a home we know will have the lights on, and the door open, and our Father waiting for us when we arrive. That means in all adversity our worship of God is joyful, our life is hopeful, our future is secure. There is nothing we can lose on earth that can rob us of the treasures God has given us and will give us.

~ The Landisfarne, via The Anglican Digest, as quoted in Finding Your Purpose as a Mom

Friday, February 2, 2007

Mommy's Family Night

Tonight was family night in honor of--me! I took the opportunity to get some acts of service for myself, one of my love languages. :) Actually, Jeff is great about acts of service--always willing to give the boys a bath, build a bookshelf, help me with the computer, or even help our "northern neighbors" with various projects! :)
Fairly recently, Jeff painted our old church pew and moved it into the kitchen, then the black bookshelves were added, and tonight it was time to do something to the wall. So Jeff moved a painting that was in the living room into the kitchen; and on either side, hung plates that had belonged to my great-grandmother, Grace Ellen McKee. She was the only great-grandparent that I ever knew, and I am named after her (my middle name is Grace). I love these old plates and thought they were much too special to simply sit in a cupboard. On another blog recently, I saw a picture of a woman's house with special, old plates hung to decorate the walls...and I thought, "Hey, I could do that!" Usually when I see things like that--whether it be on other blogs or in home magazines--I feel like it's too difficult, expensive, or doesn't fit my character. But this idea was a good one for me to grab, and I'm very happy with the results!
Other highlights of this day for me:
~ Josiah exclaiming as I was brushing his teeth, "I'm so happy you're my mother!"
~ Jeff sending me this quote today...
I love you not only for what you are
but for what I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have
made of yourself but for what you are
making of me. I love you for the part
of me that you bring out.- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
~ having the following conversation with Josiah:
Josiah: I just wish we could all go to heaven NOW.
me: Yeah? What would you like to do when you get to heaven?
Josiah: Give God a great big bear hug!
~ sitting on the couch this evening reading to the boys by our cozy wood stove, while Jeff hung a different painting in the living room (since we took the one from the living room to put in the kitchen)
~ being silly with Josiah as I was putting him to bed--which involved pretending to fall asleep while I was singing his lullaby and him having to waken me, "rapping" a prayer to God (when I finished and got up to leave, Josiah said, "You forgot to pray!" I said, "I DID pray!" :) Then he wanted to do it, too. It's good to expand his concept of what prayer can be!), and also intentionally mixing up a little ritual we goes like this...
When Josiah was going through the "no" toddler stage, we would turn the tables on him when he started saying "no" and would ask him, "Do you know how much I love you?" He would then say, "no," and we would get to say, "I love you THIS MUCH!" and stretch our arms as far to the sides as we could. Then we would say again, "I love you THIS MUCH!" and reach as high in the sky as we could. Once more we would say, "I love you THIS MUCH!" and wrap our arms around him and give him as big a hug as we could.
So tonight as I was leaving his room, I did that ritual with him; but when it was time to hug him, I hugged the wall, then said, "Oh, no, that doesn't feel like Josiah!" Then hugged the door and said the same thing, then the bedpost, then his teddy bear, acting more and more confused all the time. By the time I actually got around to hugging him, he was literally doubled over laughing. It's such fun to crack him up!