Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Have You Seen the New Line of McDonald's Dinnerware?

Josiah's family night was last Friday, and we all went to McDonald's for it--the McDonald's with a playground--always a big hit for our boys. Josiah ate his usual meal of french fries and plain hamburger--no ketchup, no mayo, not even a bun. McDonald's always serves it on a bun which Jeff makes good use of--he orders a double cheeseburger from the dollar menu, then takes one of the burgers and puts it on Josiah's empty bun, and wa-la!, another cheeseburger. :)

Josiah had asked if we could take the "Celebrate" plate along so he could eat off it...and really, what a great idea! So he had the fanciest dinnerware in the restaurant that night.

There was one other child playing on the playground besides our boys--another boy a little older than Josiah. His mother is Russian, and his father is Cuban, and they live in Virginia--I love the diversity in this country! He was a really nice boy, and Josiah had so much fun playing with him; it was an unexpected joyful part of his family night.

Just One of the Geniuses Living in Our House

Not too long ago, I was praying--consistently, fervently--that God would unlock David's lips and give him the gift of speech because David--well, David just didn't talk. He had a few sounds for communicating; but he didn't use very many words at all, and we (me more than Jeff, I think) were getting concerned, even to the point of considering speech therapy for him. That's really a whole other story that I fully intend to write about someday...
In any case, at the end of last week, I was reading back through my previous blog posts, and I came across one way back in January that showed Josiah and David TOGETHER putting these magnetic letters on the chart...and I thought, "Hmmm, I bet David could do this all by himself now." So I tried it...moved the chart around to the side of the refrigerator facing the bench...put all the lower-case letters on that bench...then asked David if he could put the letters back on the chart. That child is amazing. He did it! He really did it!!! I think he could find the right place for ALL the letters! In fact, I was so excited after he did it the first time that I took off all the letters so he could do it again; and I think he knew the letters so well that he was actually teasing me by putting them in the wrong places occasionally (like after a child learns how to put a hat on, then he puts it on backwards on purpose to make you laugh). That boy!
I wasn't the only one excited though--Josiah would yell gleefully and clap and dance around, and David would say "Yay!" and clap loudly and look around to make sure I saw that he got it in the right place. Our kitchen was the scene of much rejoicing--and none of it was quiet!


This blog is a journal of all sorts of things--one of which is the flowers that have bloomed here this year. Latest in the line are peonies, and last week for Dad's birthday dinner we decorated the table with these beautiful flowers. The peonies in the top picture are especially meaningful to us since they are the peonies that decorated the church building for my parents' wedding, almost 44 years ago! Mother transplanted some of these peonies down to our house from the home in Pennsylvania in which her parents lived, and it's really special to have this living link to the past.

A Beginning

I still can't imagine how I'm ever going to get caught up on this blog (although I DO realize nobody's keeping score and it doesn't really matter if I get "caught up" or not!)...but I still regret the sands of time that are slipping through the hourglass so quickly, without me capturing them by writing down a memory. So, not really knowing where to start, I'll do a pregnancy update. :)

~ Still hard to believe I'm pregnant
~ 7 weeks today
~ Doing better than my last pregnancy, as far as being further along with no danger signs present
~ Feeling TIRED
~ Also feeling somewhat emotional (Jeff, you have my permission to snort at the "somewhat" part, since you alone know how I've really been)
~ Not having "real" morning sickness, but seem to have lost my appetite, and I can't convince myself to eat certain foods at all...finicky stomach
~ Did feel nauseated in the car during our Monday trip as we were driving through hilly, curving roads...not sure if that was pregnancy-related, or if I would have felt sick anyway...I had cut up a lemon and taken it along with us, and sucking on pieces of that helped me deal with my upset stomach
~ Have gained some weight already (that's not supposed to happen)
~ Am feeling like my stomach is bigger already; can't seem to suck it all the way in anymore (this, also, is not supposed to happen yet!)
~ Was hoping for an ultrasound today, but it didn't work out
~ Am really looking forward to seeing a beating heart on the screen; don't think I can really relax until that happens (although I feel hopeful and trusting overall)
~ First official prenatal appointment is June 13, which also happens to be Josiah's 5th birthday
~ Wondering how to balance being pregnant with caring for two young active boys and nurturing my marriage and paying attention to all the other obligations I have
~ If a genie popped out of a bottle and offered me one wish in all the world, I'd probably choose an ultrasound...which is silly because I KNOW I'll get one eventually, but I'm finding it difficult to be patient in this area...I feel like part of life/my heart/something? is on hold until I see that heartbeat...silly, silly, silly

Monday, May 28, 2007

Where Do I Even Start???

Trying to get caught up with this blog is like swimming against the current--if the river would just stop flowing for a minute, I could get somewhere!!! Instead life continues at a rapid pace, and each day there are numerous things that I could write about. When I miss a few days like I did this weekend, it feels a bit overwhelming...and late at night is not really the best time to get started catching up! So I'll just write a bit, and then plan (with as much hope as I can muster) to write more tomorrow. :)

Today was a lovely day--drive south through gorgeous countryside, unexpected stop at a waterfall, lunch and time to wade in the river at Humpback Bridge. So much more I could say, but these pictures will have to suffice--for now!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I Adore This Boy, Too!

David today...

~ looking at the books from Josiah's bed
~ playing drums
~ sitting in the chair we used for little Daniel last night (as soon as he finished his breakfast this morning, David was EAGER to sit in this chair and look at the books and play with the toys that Daniel did last night...this is the chair that David sits in when we eat at my parents' house, and I think he thought it a bit strange that another boy was sitting in it last night!)

I Adore This Boy!

This was the scene in Josiah's room last night when I peeked in on him on my way to bed. Jeff had tucked Josiah in bed; and since Josiah insisted he wasn't tired, Jeff had allowed him to look at books in bed until he fell asleep--an excellent idea. :) It was so heart-warming to see him sleeping, surrounded by teddy bears and books. I was half-afraid to take this picture because I thought the flash might awaken Josiah, but he slept right through it--he's a sound sleeper.

I'm sure I'm not the only mother who finds it much easier to lavish adoration on their children when they're asleep, rather than awake! :) As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep." So true! But I do adore Josiah both awake and asleep, and I constantly thank God for the essence of Josiah--those God-given qualities that make him who he is.

Trading Anger for Compassion

I read this verse in a devotional book last night and was so convicted by it.

Psalm 78:38
But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
And did not destroy them.
Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
And did not stir up all His wrath.

I have not had a successful week with turning my anger away and being full of compassion with my children. I know two factors (at least) have contributed to this: 1. my pregnancy hormones and fatigue and 2. my lack of a "normal" schedule this week. I'm so schedule-oriented (and so is my firstborn!) that when our schedule is shaky or non-existent, I'm much more likely to be impatient and frustrated with myself and my boys. I realize in particular that when I don't have my normal time of being focused on the boys, especially Josiah, we both suffer. That's one of the wonderful things about Learning Time--not only is Josiah grasping a ton of knowledge and experience, he's also being nurtured by me as we spend that time together. Because of my personality, I'd much rather sit and read a book with him or do some pages in a workbook together or do an experiment or something along those lines (where I'm basically giving my full attention to him), rather than be interrupted constantly by endless choruses of "Mommy, watch me catch this balloon!"..."Mommy, where is the red car?"..."Mommy, David's touching my paper!"..."Mommy, do you want to see me race these trucks?" That can drive me absolutely crazy in a very short amount of time! I should have learned by now that the day usually goes much more smoothly if I give Josiah some time and attention fairly early in the day; that seems to fill up that part of his love tank and helps his engine run better all day long.

The bottom line though is that my character needs to change to be so much more like God's. After all, if anyone has a good reason for being impatient/frustrated/angry, etc., it's Him! And yet, He forgives...turns his anger away...and is full of compassion. What a God! What a Father! What an example!

Seen in Our Small Town

A very public birthday wish for my dad!!!

Actually, this was seen on the outskirts of our small town, since technically our town doesn't exactly reach this far. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Birthday Boy (That Is, If You Can Call a Man Past Retirement Age, a Boy)

Happy birthday, Dad!!! Isn't that a lovely glow coming from your cake? It sure is a good thing we only put candles for one of the digits of your real age on that cake, instead of the correct number of candles! :)

We got to celebrate Dad's birthday at our house tonight with grilled steaks, boiled red potatoes, green beans with bacon, dill beans, and--the best part--homemade German chocolate cake!

Actually, the real best part (besides simply being together to enjoy Dad's special day) was having our new/old friends here with us: Gil, Nell-Marie, and their adorable son Daniel. It was so nice to sit around the table, then kick back in the living room, and get caught up with them. What an inspiration they are--such visible signs of God's goodness and grace!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Yesterday I happened to pick up an old quiet time journal of mine and started flipping through the pages, not sure of what I would find. What a blast from the past it was! Sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring, sometimes saddening--always convicting. The journal was only about half used, so I'm going to begin again with it and fill up the rest of the pages. The first half of the book was from 1999...and now, 8 years later, I hope to finish it!

On September 23, 1999, I wrote this:
I enjoyed reading about Josiah in 2 Chron. 34. He was 8 when he became king; and 8 years later (when he was 16), he began to seek God. I pray for the son Jeff and I will someday, by faith, have, that our Josiah will be seeking God at least by the time he's 16, if not earlier!

Now that I'm a parent, I'm hoping that it's much earlier than age 16 when Josiah begins to earnestly seek God! :)

Today in my quiet time, I was reading in Yancey's book on Prayer; and this stood out to me:
After surveying Jesus' practice of prayer, I realize that his example does answer one important question about prayer: Does it matter? When doubts creep in and I wonder whether prayer is a sanctified form of talking to myself, I remind myself that the Son of God, who had spoken worlds into being and sustains all that exists, felt a compelling need to pray. He prayed as if it made a difference, as if the time he devoted to prayer mattered every bit as much as the time he devoted to caring for people...To discount prayer, to conclude that it does not matter, means to view Jesus as deluded.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

David Playing Harmonica

A two year-old harmonica player--amazing! :)

Tickle Time

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wedding Weekend

My thoughts have become redundant.

Every week--at the beginning of the week--I think as I look at my planner, "OK, this looks like a great week. Not too many events planned, some blank space left on this planner page. I don't feel stressed, and I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of things done this week!"

Every week--at the end of the week--I think, "Whew, that was such a busy week, the busiest we've had in a while. I wonder when things are going to slow down so I can actually get some work done?!"

The big event of the past few days was the wedding of one of Jeff's co-workers. She had asked Jeff to officiate at the wedding, so he got to be a wedding preacher for the second time since we moved here. I love to watch him perform weddings! I know they make him sweat since nobody wants to be the guy who messes up in a wedding! But he does such a good job; and it's a joy to watch how he can be so dignified in the many serious, meaningful parts of a wedding ceremony, and also warm and light-hearted in appropriate times.

On Wednesday of this past week, we had the engaged couple over for breakfast, some last-minute wedding planning, and a premarital counseling talk. On Saturday, we attended the dinner and rehearsal; and Sunday was the wedding, held on the lawn of a 1938 home that they just bought. (The home was originally built for a Dr. Tanner, the town doctor of their town. When I learned this, Gloria, the bride said, "I bet your dad remembers him." And sure enough, Dad knew him. Such is life in a small town!)

Saturday and Sunday became kind of a blur for me. Saturday morning was Josiah's soccer game, then home to eat lunch, get the boys in bed, and drop onto the couch for a nap for me before we headed off to the rehearsal and dinner. Sunday was basically the same: church service in the morning, a bite of lunch at home, a quick nap, then off to the wedding. By the time we returned home each evening, it was all I could do to get the boys in bed before my energy gave out; and I certainly didn't get anything done here around the house! Saturday evening when we returned from the rehearsal, it was so encouraging to walk into our house and find my mother doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen that had been left a mess from the night before when we hosted about 20 people for our Friday night fellowship potluck. My mother's labor was by far the most that occurred in this house the whole weekend!

Today has been catch-up day for me, and it's a great feeling to have the house/my schedule/my kids/my thoughts/my soul back in order! I didn't even do laundry today (my usual Monday project)--just focused on getting back in the groove of life and tying up some loose ends that should have been done a while ago. Tomorrow we're off to the library which is always fun! And after that, we may meet with an old friend of mine and her children. I'm sure it will be another busy, but good, day.

Here are a few pictures from the wedding. I was so focused on watching my boys that I didn't even get any pics of the bride and groom--oops!

~ Jeff collecting his thoughts before the ceremony began
~ Jeff and Josiah at the reception (Josiah is holding a noise-maker that he made good use of during the whole reception, mostly to chase and pop bubbles with!)
~ David enjoying popcorn at the reception
One thing I've got to mention... This wedding was by far, the most kid-friendly wedding I've ever attended. One fantastic thing they did was have a popcorn machine (like you'd see at a carnival) at the reception for people to get popcorn to munch on while the wedding party was taking pictures; that kept my hungry boys happy during a period of time that can be quite a tough wait at some weddings. Another thing they did was to rent carnival-type games and have them available for the children--ring toss, baseball throw, etc. Those games entertained Josiah and David both on Sunday during the reception, and also Saturday evening during the rehearsal while we waited for Jeff to be finished and ready to go home. Plus, the wedding was outdoors, in the couple's yard, so there was room for the kids to run, blow bubbles, play with sticks, etc. There was even an extremely comfortable porch swing (not really on the porch, but that kind of a swing) in one corner of the yard that David and I made good use of right before we left the reception when David was exhausted and at his wit's end--and he wasn't the only one! :)

This Clearly Falls in the "What Was I Thinking?" Category

Turns out I was born into the wrong family to even consider home birth.

Not only does my dad have some fairly strong opinions about the matter, so does my uncle (also a medical doctor). If my grandfather were alive (the doctor patriarch of the bunch), I'm sure he wouldn't hesitate to express his thoughts against home birth as well (especially since he saw firsthand the dangers of home delivery during his many days and nights of attending births). I haven't heard the opinions of my medical cousins, but I'm sure they've got them.

So--yeah--what was I thinking??? :)

I think my first mistake was bringing this up in such a public forum. And undeniably my second mistake was forgetting that my Aunt Elaine reads this blog! :) (Actually, Aunt Elaine, I'm thrilled and honored that you take the time to read thank you!!! And oh, by the way, go ahead and tell Uncle Rufus he doesn't have to worry about any more hair-brained home birth schemes coming from this least for now!) My third mistake was bringing it up so early. The next time I'll wait until the last minute and drop the birth plan bomb on my family when it's too late to stop me! ;)

Seriously, I appreciate so much the love and concern that my family (and others, too) have for me; it really means the world to me.

Tomorrow I'll be calling the OB-GYN office in town to see if I can get an appointment with one of the midwives there; and if all goes well and my positive interactions with the employees there continue, I'll pursue the conventional route.

In any case, in an email to me today, my dear friend Carolyn Fields admitted that I have more of a pioneer spirit than her (as if that's possible!) so I don't have to worry yet about losing my designation as a pioneer woman. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Last evening, we had the high honor of having some very dear friends in our home. We met Mike and Irina when we moved to Israel in January of 2003. Mike was one of the guys who met us at the airport that first night and took us, in all our exhausted nervous excitement, to a hotel. Mike and Irina's assistance during that time of transition was INVALUABLE! Irina spent days toting her little son David around with us and our little son Josiah to look for an apartment for us; we ended up finding one right down the street from them and were continually grateful for that location and the closeness we had to them. She rode buses with me and taught me how to get around the city. She did my laundry for me in those early days before we had a washer (and even at other times, too). She translated endlessly for me because of her superior ability in English, Russian, and Hebrew. She was my fellow musician and encouraged/taught me to play guitar for worship. She was real with her triumphs and struggles and made it very easy for me to be open with her about anything I was going through. She served endlessly, loved wholeheartedly, and uplifted always. And she did all of this with a great attitude!!! In all honesty, I have no idea what I would have done without her as we adjusted to life in Israel (and I know Jeff can say the same about Mike).

After we had been together for a year and a half in Tel Aviv, they returned to the States to live in the Seattle, Washington, area; and we had not seen them since. A lot has changed since then! Right before they left Israel, Irina found out that she was pregnant with their second child. Right after they left Israel, I found out that I was pregnant with my second child! Her daughter Ellen was born a few weeks before our son David. And her son David is exactly 6 months older than Josiah and was, without a doubt, Josiah's first friend in life.

It was SO GOOD to see them yesterday! Their visit was almost painfully short though, as we felt like there was so much that was left unsaid, so many areas of life that we barely spoke of--or didn't talk about at all. We look forward to them coming back and spending more time with us someday when we can really catch up!!!

Both Jeff and I remarked that it was so strange--yet so natural--to see them here in our home! We knew them half a world away from here, yet how joyous to reconnect again in this wonderful place we call home and show them a tiny bit of our world now. What an encouraging blessing for our souls to see them again!!!

Home Birth or Hospital Birth???

In a conversation with my sister-in-law tonight, she asked when my first doctor's appointment is...and I had to admit that I haven't called to set one up yet, partly because the pregnancy still seems so unreal and I still feel like I might lose it, but also because I can't figure out who to call!!! During my last pregnancy, I was pursuing home birth and had met with two WONDERFUL midwives who assist during home birth. But when I suspected a miscarriage, I called a local OB-GYN practice and ended up going there for the care during and after my miscarriage. I am equally as impressed with the midwife and other personnel I met at that practice (which does not involve itself at all with home birth) as I am with the home birth midwives. And now I'm in a huge quandary, with my mind going back and forth like a ping pong ball between home birth and hospital birth.

I decided to write down some thoughts in the form of a pros and cons list, so here's what I've got so far. I'll probably add to the list over time as more issues come to my mind and as I gain insight from conversations with various people.

Home birth:
+ Completely personal and tailored to me (my own home, bed, sheets, pillow, clothes, music, scents, shower, food, etc.)
+ Midwives who know how to support natural birth and who would give me their full attention (after my previous experiences with pushing, I really want someone who will guide me and encourage me in this area, and I’m convinced the midwives would do that)
+ Cheaper
+ No long separation from Josiah and David; we could be together as a family very quickly after birth
+ Seems really special to have a house “consecrated” by a death (my grandmother’s) and a birth (my baby’s)…what memories!
+ “Seamlessness” – the word that first drew me to home birth (written about by another mother)
+ Seems safe, since ANY health issues or concerns would be automatically transferred to the hospital (and since we live so close to the hospital, it wouldn’t take very long to get there…it’s not like we’re an hour or two from the nearest medical facility)
+ Why not? It’s been done for thousands of years, and in this day and age, it’s safer than ever!
+ Carolyn Fields would have to admit that I really and truly am an amazing pioneer woman!!! :)

- Midwives are farther away, would take longer to go to appointments with them
- No ultrasound/no extra reassurance that the baby is OK/no advance knowledge of the gender (unless I could find another place to get an ultrasound)
- Some mess to clean up (though I’ve heard it’s very manageable)
- Dad would worry
- If I had preterm labor or other serious issues and had to be transferred to someone else’s medical care, I wouldn’t be familiar with that person or group…there’s no back-up partnership between the midwives and a local OB-GYN practice (although from previous experience, when it comes down to it and I'm ready to have a baby, I don't care AT ALL who is in the room or who the doctor is...with Josiah's birth, I tried to convince the nurse to deliver the baby because I was ready to have him and the doctor had not arrived yet; she didn't take me up on that offer!...with David's birth, I didn't know a soul who helped with that delivery; in Israel, unless you pay a whole bunch of money for a private birth, you deal with one doctor during your pregnancy, then show up at the hospital in labor and get who you get!) -- so the lack of familiarity is not really a big deal for me

Hospital birth:
+ Best care in case of medical emergency
+ No mess that we have to clean up
+ OB-GYN practice is closer, wouldn’t take long to get there for appointments (but might have to wait in the waiting room)
+ Good reputation of midwives and other workers at Shenandoah Women’s Health Care, plus our good experience with them so far
+ Dad would be happy
+ Knowledge of baby's gender (with both Josiah and David, we found out as soon as we could that they were boys; and I loved having advance knowledge of that)

- More expensive
- Routine hospital interventions (waking me up in the middle of the night to take my blood pressure, wanting to give the baby immunizations shortly after birth, asking me every two hours, "Have you fed your baby?" etc.)
- More time away from Josiah and David (I hated this when I gave birth to David in Israel; I missed Josiah and could hardly wait to get home to start living as a family again)
- Possibly more pressure (or temptation, on my part) to have an epidural or other medical interventions
- Not my comfort zone; impossible to relax fully there
- Less sense of control/less confidence that my labor would go the way I want it to go (although I realize that can be true in ANY situation, whether at home or in the hospital or anywhere else!)

Fresh Flowers

Once again, I'm so grateful for the variety of flowers that are blooming in the flowerbeds around our house...and so happy to be able to use them on our table! Though their lifespan is brief, they bring much joy while they last. To have them for free here never ceases to amaze me, as I recall times when Jeff bought fresh flowers for me as a special gift when we lived in California and Israel...or times when I convinced myself that yes, it was OK to buy flowers at the farmers' market and, no, I wasn't being too irresponsible or wasteful! And now, such abundance! May I never take it for granted.

First in a Very Long Series, I Hope

~ Week 4 Profile
~ Week 5 Profile
When I asked Jeff to take my picture last night, he said (not with a bad attitude, but probably a sense of "this is important to my wife, but not to me"), "Is there going to be a Week 6 picture...and a Week 7 picture...and a Week 8 picture?" And I said, "Of course, there's room in my pregnancy journal for all those pictures!" So until the end of this pregnancy, I plan to take weekly pictures to record my growth. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brotherly Love

One afternoon this week, Josiah and David set up the couch to play craziness; but I guess they got tired because this cuddly scene was what I saw when I checked on them. :)

This Isn't Like the First Time!

I have a feeling that the differences between this pregnancy and my first one will become too numerous to count after a while, but one particular contrast stood out to me today.

When I was pregnant with Josiah, people advised me to be careful about lifting heavy things; and for the most part, I listened. So many people advised me so often about this that I honestly got annoyed and would spout off: "Pregnancy is a natural condition, not a sickness." I disliked people treating me like an invalid. One particular example that comes to mind is when we were preparing for a special women's outreach service, and I was involved with the music for that. As we rehearsed, I lifted a microphone stand; and someone jumped up and came over to lift it for me, chiding me that I needed to be more careful. For crying out loud, it was a MIC STAND and weighted all of--what?--5 pounds? As much as I appreciated the concern that people had for me, I did grow to resent the endless corrections: "don't lift that," "go sit down," "don't cross your legs." (And at that point, I had no extra health risks at all, had not had any miscarriages or other issues, and felt as healthy as an ox.)

Boy, have things changed (though I still feel healthy as an ox)! Today the boys and I ran some errands in town, and I watched myself lift my 36 pound son in and out of the shopping cart and in and out of our van sometimes...I lugged my other son around on one hip with a heavy diaper bag on my back, holding a huge bedspread in my other arm, into a laundromat that had an extra big washer so I could wash the bedspread...I carried numerous grocery bags into the house at one time, to minimize the number of trips I needed to make so I could get my hungry children fed as quickly as possible...I hoisted weighty trash bags (from our garage clean-up yesterday) out to the curb (though I did drive the trash down in the minivan, but once parked on Dad's parking lot, I still had to get the bags out of the van to the side of the road). The one concession I did make to my pregnancy was deciding to get the 25 pound bag of birdseed at the store, rather than the 50 pound one!

It's not that I'm trying to be Superwoman. In fact, I'm actually trying to be careful! But it's just life. My life is entirely different now that it was during my first pregnancy, and lifting heavy things seems unavoidable.

Same with sleep. When I was pregnant with Josiah, if I was tired, I took a nap--nice and simple. Now if I'm tired when the afternoon rolls around, I sometimes take a nap...but many times I don't...not that I feel guilty about napping, but I realize it's such a trade-off. If I sleep, I don't get other things done. So do I really want to spend the time sleeping, or would it actually help me feel more refreshed to do a load of laundry, go through paperwork, or keep working at cleaning out the garage? Often the projects win!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gems from Josiah

Recent things Josiah has done or said:

~ On May 3, I was getting ready to help him brush his teeth; and as I looked at him, I felt so overwhelmed with love and got a big smile on my face. He said, "What?" I said, "I'm just happy." He asked, "Because you have a baby in your tummy?" I said no (although I knew at the time it was a possibility, but it was way too early to know). He said, "Remember when you had a baby in your tummy and it died?" Then he brought up adoption and said we could get some babies that way. I asked how many we should adopt, and he counted carefully, then said 5, so we could have 7 kids like the McClays! :)

~ One day last week, Josiah was doing some pages in a Learning Time book; and on each page there was a picture of a dinosaur. We were talking about how some dinosaurs were carnivores and some were herbivores; and he pointed to one and said, "This was a meat-eater, right?" I said, "Yes." Then he pointed to another and said, "Was this one a weed-eater?" And I laughed and laughed!!! Last summer we happened to have a dinosaur weed-eater in our garage, but fortunately we have a newer model this year. :)

~ On May 4, Josiah killed his first fly! I had previously let him play with the fly swatter, and he would swing it around but had never managed to actually hit any insect with it. But on that day, he really killed a fly!

~ On April 28, we had gone to a concert at a local church; and after we got home, Josiah hesitantly came to me and mumbled something about changing his mind...and wanting to be good. In the past, he had sometimes expressed that he wanted to be bad and that he didn't want to love God, so it really seemed significant to hear his decision on Saturday. I told him I was so happy and so proud of him before I tucked him back in bed. The next day when we were eating lunch at my parents' house, he volunteered to pray before the meal (a first for him at their house). He has shown reluctance to pray aloud, but he seems to be changing that.

~ A while back, I had told him that at night when we pray before he goes to bed, I would let him pray first and he could thank God for something, then I would pray. He took the initiative to decide to, each night, thank God for 4 things (because Josiah is 4 years old); and it's been really interesting to hear what he has to say. It's often, "Thank You, God, for my parents," but God has also been thanked for Josiah's closet, bunk bed, walls, memory verses, teddy bear, shelves, etc. Obviously, Josiah looks around the room and says what comes to mind! But I can tell that He's growing in prayer, and it's so encouraging to see that.

~ This past week, Josiah learned to count by 10s to 100, by 5s to 100, and by 2s to 20. (When I just asked him to count by 2s for me, he only counted as far as 20, because he said, "If I count to 100, it would take...TWO DAYS!" But I think he really could go further than 20.) He also was learning how to count by 3s and was frustrated because he couldn't land on 10 when counting by 3s. He wanted to say, "3, 6, 8, 10," and was unhappy when he realized it didn't work that way! He also learned that it's really easy to add a single digit to a number ending in 0--for example, 10 + 7, 50 + 3, 80 + 1, etc. All of this math learning took place in random conversation, just for fun, no workbooks involved! I have a feeling when we "officially" start kindergarten work in the fall, he'll breeze through his math for the year.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Throwing Caution to the Wind

I realize, of course, that our decision to announce my pregnancy at this very early stage means that there's a significant chance that a few days or weeks down the road, I may be writing a post called "Miscarriage--Take Two" or "It Happened Again" or simply "Tragedy." With my "history," I suppose most people would have thought it wise to wait to let the cat out of the bag. But after some discussion, Jeff and I made a conscious decision not to wait, based on the uncomplicated thinking that those who read this blog are most likely people who know us and care about us, and these are the people that we would want to know what is going on in our lives anyway, no matter what the road ahead holds for us. So at this stage of the game, thank you for rejoicing with us! If sorrow comes again, we are confident you'll mourn with us and offer comfort. And most importantly, in either case, your prayers are vitally important to us.

When I first got pregnant with Josiah, we made this same decision to announce it early; and we were warned that we might regret it later if I miscarried. At the time, I felt that it would be harder for me to go through a miscarriage without anyone knowing than to go through it openly, receiving support from others. I still feel that way today.

I'm sure it's no surprise that mixed in with my immense joy are also moments of anxiety. I find myself having thoughts like, "It will be fun to wear maternity clothes again...if I make it that far," or "It will be interesting having a winter baby...if the baby lives," or "I can hardly wait to hold my precious little baby!...if my body cooperates this time and keeps this pregnancy." There is the "oh, goody, I'm so happy" side, quickly followed by the "watch out, this may all come crashing down around your ears" side; and numerous times a day, this kind of dialogue plays out in my mind.

During my pregnancies with Josiah and David, of course I knew of the possibility of miscarriage; but it was a head knowledge. After my experience in December, it is now a heart knowledge; and I feel the pang of potential sorrow break into my moments of rejoicing.

However--and this is a big however--one of the things that I am most grateful for about my last pregnancy is that I cherished--and I mean, seriously cherished!--each day of that short-lived pregnancy. That is my goal for this pregnancy, too. To lay down my worries, to feel God's arms around me, to relax and let myself be happy, etc. is hugely important to me--and it's what I'm striving for.

Today, one thought that brightened my heart was this: "Davene, you only have one day to be 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant, so enjoy it while it's here!" I've found myself thinking during the past few days, "Oh, when I see the baby's heart beating on an ultrasound, then I'll be happy," or "When I can feel the baby move every day, I'll have peace," or "I don't think I'll truly relax until I hold my baby in my arms." But I don't want to wish away this time! This whole thought process reminded me so much of when Josiah was a newborn and how, during those difficult first days and nights of adjustment, I often told myself, "Josiah has only one 3rd day of life" or "Josiah has only one 11th day of life"; and that simple thought helped me to relax, focus on him, and have the strength to do what I needed to do to make THAT day a wonderful day for him, and not look ahead to "When he sleeps through the night, I'll be happy," or "I can hardly wait until he's potty trained!"

Taking life one day at a time...trusting God for the outcome...being free to rejoice and not feel that I'm tempting fate by doing that...sharing my heart in this situation with friends on the journey with us -- these are the goals for which I'm aiming!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


There are no words to describe how happy and thankful we are for this great Mother's Day gift. If all goes well, we will meet this new member of our family, Lord willing, around January 15, 2008!!!


Jeff and Josiah invented a new game today--a version of shuffleboard played with dominoes. Jeff came up with the rules, and Josiah came up with the name: domofloor.

As my mother and I were finishing our lunch in the kitchen (we're always the last ones done eating!), we heard loud riotous sounds coming from the living room where this game was taking place. It's always fun to hear my boys having fun with their daddy whom they adore!

I'm So Hungry I Could Eat a Tie!

I Am Blessed

~ I am overwhelmingly blessed to have these three guys in my life on this Mother's Day.
~ Josiah earnestly wanted to wear a tie today, so Jeff got one of his and fixed it up for Josiah to wear, using the small part of the tie as the front visible part and tucking the bigger part into Josiah's shirt and pants (it came nearly to the bottom of his pants!). Doesn't Mr. J look handsome? :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

We Grow a Good Crop of Rocks

If someone ever asked me what my first job was, I suppose I could say, "Picking rocks."* My parents did not give us an allowance; but they did pay us for various jobs we did, one of which was picking rocks out of the garden--NOT my favorite job, but part of the fabric of my childhood nevertheless--and now I appreciate the value of it much more than I did back then. In the days of old when I was a girl, we got paid 10 cents for a bucket of rocks. And our garden produced LOTS of rocks of all shapes and sizes; there was never a shortage!

Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now the next generation of children is growing up on this land and getting to experience many of the joys of my childhood (which were countless!) as well as the less preferable, but helpful and character-building, jobs.

A while back, my parents returned from a trip to town absolutely delighted with two small pails that they had bought for Josiah and David. I remember my mother exclaiming, "They're so cute!" and she was talking about the buckets, not my boys (though I know she thinks they're cute, too). :) Josiah wrote his name on his bucket and David's name on the other one, and Grandpa and Grandma explained to him that when he filled his bucket with rocks from the garden, he would get 50 cents. 50 cents! That's a lot more than I got!!! Inflation must be to blame, I guess. :)

This past week, my mother and I have spent a lot of time working in the consequently, Josiah and David have spent a lot of time outside playing with balls, a racquet, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, swings, a play lawn mower, etc. And, of course, buckets for rocks. Although David is too young to understand what's going on and therefore isn't expected to fill his bucket or get paid any money, Josiah sure knows what's up! He finished filling his first bucket load two evenings ago; and the next morning, he was wondering where his money was! He was ready to march down to his grandparents' house to ask them for it! :)

It's been a great lesson for him: the importance of hard work and discipline, the necessity of patience when wages are delayed :), and the value of money. He kept talking about 50 pennies, so I talked with him several times about what money is worth and how 2 quarters are worth 50 cents, 5 dimes are worth 50 cents, etc. When he received his money from my mom, he was a bit puzzled when he saw 2 dimes and 6 nickels; but it was a perfect opportunity to talk further about the value of money and have an impromptu math lesson. In the end, he was a happy camper as he put his money in his big train coin bank!

* My other first money-making endeavor was reading books, and I received 10 cents for each book I read. I'm not sure if reading books for money or picking rocks for money happened first. If I had my choice of reading a book for 10 cents or picking a bucket of rocks for 10 cents, well, there just wasn't any competition there AT ALL, and reading would win hands down every time. Unfortunately (or fortunately) my mother didn't allow me to read all the time, though I did sneak it in whenever I could. When I ate breakfast, I would read all the cereal boxes...when I went to my room to clean it, my mother would find me much later reading a book that I had pulled from the bookshelf I was dusting. I couldn't figure out a way to read while picking rocks though!

Fiery Family Night

After dinner last evening, Jeff decided to set fire to a small brush pile in the lower part of our garden. We have a MUCH bigger pile in our pasture that also needs to be burned, but we're going to make a party out of that. :) This small pile needed to be burned so that we could finish tilling the garden and plant some more things in it, and I was glad Jeff wanted to do that yesterday. The pile didn't actually finish burning last night; it got more trimmings put on it from my mom who was pruning some bushes, and it kind of piddled out. But it was a start, and it was fun. Why is fire so fascinating to watch?

I love the way David is squatting down exactly like Jeff in the first picture...and the way he's reaching over for Jeff in the second picture. When a big column of smoke is near, it's comforting to be close to Daddy!

Fresh Air Family Night

Last evening was Jeff's family night so, as usual, he got to use the Celebrate plate, Josiah and I told him why we love him and think he's wonderful, and I cooked Mexican food for dinner--chicken enchiladas this time. One of the things that made last night delightful was our dining experience outside in the pleasant evening air. It's such a small thing really--to eat outside--but what a difference it makes! We are more relaxed, happier, more inclined to linger around the table and talk, more grateful for our surroundings, more aware of the beauty of nature. Sure it takes a little more work to carry everything outside (dishes, food, etc.); but it is so worth it!!! I don't remember eating supper outside very often last summer, but I think we'll be doing a lot of it this year! One of the great things about our patio is that it's on the east side of the house, so by the time suppertime comes, the sun is on the other side of the house and the patio is in the shade. We don't have to put on sunscreen before we eat there--we don't have to wear sunglasses while we're eating--and it's not blazing hot during lazy spring and summer evenings. I'm looking forward to continuing this new tradition we're beginning. :)

My Big Plan Update

About a week ago, I wrote about being discouraged by unfinished projects and devising a new plan to write down 5 extra (small) projects on a weekly basis that I would strive to accomplish. I am pleased to report that the first week went very well! All 5 tasks were done, and it really did help my frame of mind to see those jobs written down, then crossed off when I finished them. Knowing that there were only 5 really helped, too. At one point in the week when I was lagging and not wanting to do two tasks which I had procrastinated a long time about, I could talk myself into doing them by telling myself that when they were done, I would be finished for the week and wouldn't have to worry about any more special projects for this week. Accomplishing 5 out of 5 was much more mentally rewarding than accomplishing 5 out of, say, 12 (or however many I could squeeze into the margins of my planner page, which was my previous method!). :) I'm looking forward to week two of this experiment!

Mother's Day Came Early

The mailman brought a few packages to us today, including a box that contained a fantastic Mother's Day gift for me--a figurine of a woman bent over her Bible, deep in prayer. The verse at the bottom is Psalm 17:6, and the verse and the sculpture are excellent visual aids for me to remind me to be faithful in prayer (although Jeff said I just liked it because the woman is barefoot--which is one of the reasons it caught my eye!). Are you wondering how Jeff knew exactly which gift I would treasure??? Well, a while back, I was looking around on eBay and saw this, so I emailed Jeff and said, "This would make a nice Mother's Day gift for me!" Subtle, aren't I? :)

I think Jeff and I have been married long enough to realize that most of the time when you try to make your partner guess what you're thinking, what you would like, etc, it usually leads to a conflict! So we've gotten comfortable with the idea of expressing ourselves and our needs/wants fairly freely, even to the point of saying, "I could sure use some words of affirmation," or "My love tank is low; I need some quality time" (for those of you familiar with the 5 love languages concept). Anyway, the fact that I asked Jeff for this gift doesn't diminish the specialness of it for me in the least! (And I didn't know that he had gotten it for me so it was a surprise when it arrived!) :)

So...speaking of prayer...were we speaking of prayer?...oh, yes, Psalm 17:6...that's right. I have thought A TON about the long post I wrote about prayer some time ago. I've pondered the words I wrote, the responses I received, and the things I've been learning since then. Here's an update...

I have been thoroughly enjoying Philip Yancey's book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? It has inspired me and encouraged me to pray for the purpose of aligning my thoughts and will with God's to gain His perspective much more fully than I typically do in my daily life. And it has convicted me. Here's an example from the book: If I had to answer the question "Why pray?" in one sentence, it would be "Because Jesus did." Wow, that's powerful--and simple--and true!

In another part of the book, Yancey quotes from Tim Stafford who wrote: Some people say that we should pray not because God needs it, but because we need it. When we praise him, we remind ourselves of what is fundamentally important. When we thank him, we humbly remember our utter dependence on his care. When we pray for people, we are encouraged to then go out and do something to help them. From this perspective prayer is a self-help exercise. No doubt prayer does these and other good things for me, but if they are the principal reasons for praying, my "personal relationship" is in trouble. Prayer that is only a useful exercise is not conversation. It is more like writing a diary, which is also good for you, but it is entirely private and one-sided. Yancey then adds: Why pray? What makes this strange practice, so problematic for many, important to God?

That's it exactly. I still don't get how it works, how the words that I say affect God and change His mind/actions/will (and not just myself)??? But I'm hopeful that as I continue to read (this and other books), I will find more answers.

In any case, I have not at all abandoned prayer!!! If I never understand it, if I never find the answers for which I'm searching, if it remains a mystery to me until I get to heaven, I will still pray if for no other reasons than 1. Jesus did it and 2. I'm commanded to do it. So really, that settles it. Yet my heart and soul still long for a deeper understanding, a deeper grasp of how prayer really works. I feel confident that in time, that fuller understanding will come. And in the meantime, my new Mother's Day gift will remind me to pour out my heart before God and lay it all at His feet.

His bare feet, I'm sure. :)

Playing Catch-Up

One day this week, I was looking back through this blog, searching for a few posts I had written on a specific topic; and the more I scanned previous entries, the happier I was that I had this blog and the more grateful I felt that I've taken the time to do this! So often I feel that life is slipping through my fingers, and the precious parts of each day are gone--simply gone--unless I can somehow capture them. But how to lasso them? They fly so quickly, and my available time for lassoing is short!

For a number of years, I've toyed with the idea of scrapbooking. One of my sisters-in-law does a phenomenal job in that area and even has a special room in her house for it. As much as I've admired her work, I've felt completely overwhelmed by the idea of diving into that. But yet, I knew that scrapbooking was a tangible way to capture fleeting moments...and I certainly wanted to do that...but still I hesitated to plunge headlong into that endeavor. And then along came blogging, and again I hesitated to begin, instead reading other's blogs and waiting to decide whether this was something to which I could commit some time. Finally with Jeff's help, I took the plunge...and oh my, am I ever glad I did!!! It's so meaningful for me to look back over the past few months that I've recorded here. There are many things I would have forgotten already if it weren't for this blog. And I'm so grateful for how easy it is to incorporate words and pictures and have it all laid out in a nice format for me! So as I look back over the past of my blog, I'm incredibly grateful...and as I look forward to the future, I'm tremendously excited about what is yet to be written and shown and recorded in this space.

And that brings me to the subject of catching-up. Despite my desire to capture life's beautiful moments, I know beyond a doubt that I just can't catch them all. Even with this blog, so many slip through my fingers. Certainly in this past week, many things about which I wanted to write never made it here but only swirled around in my mind.

Just an aside--I find that as a stay-at-home mom, many of my daily tasks are actually not very strenuous for my mind. Shocking, I know. But really, the intellectual stimulation that comes from dicing chicken for enchiladas or planting potatoes or folding laundry is very minimal! The positive side of that is the abundant time that I have for thinking "deep" when the time comes to sit down and blog, I usually have an overflow of ideas--subjects that I've been tossing around mentally for a while. And after a day of simple, non-mentally-challenging tasks, I'm usually ready to have "adult conversation" in the evening...and I'm classifying blogging as "adult conversation." :) I'm sure it's different for someone with an outside job who comes home mentally tired and ready for a mind break. Anyway...where was I? Oh, yeah...catching up...

So tonight I'm going to TRY to get started with some catch-up. The entries may not be in the best order, and my thoughts may be random, but I'll give it a whirl! We'll see how far I get before collapsing from exhaustion (which I blame on staying up way too late last night to watch the movie Deja Vu with Jeff--intriguing movie, for sure!).

Robin's Nest in Our Holly Bush

Jeff took this picture last evening while Mama Robin was away from the nest. Aren't robin eggs beautiful???

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jeff's (Very Busy) Day Off

Yesterday Jeff...

~ buried a dead rabbit (our old white mama rabbit finally died)
~ took both boys shopping at WalMart while I had my riding lesson
~ carried in all the groceries and unpacked them from their bags
~ gave the boys some food for lunch
~ made homemade salsa
~ made two kinds of homemade cookies--chocolate chip and no-bake--with Josiah's "help"
~ grilled steaks for our dinner
~ cooked potatoes for our dinner
~ played with the boys outside (especially with a new foam airplane that Josiah got at the store yesterday)
~ fixed my dad's office computer (an on-going project!)
~ was in charge of getting Josiah ready for bed and tucked in last evening

I'm sure there's probably more that I'm forgetting!

And where was I during most of this time??? I was in the garden wrestling. Wrestling??? Yes, wrestling--first with our ancient tiller until it ran out of gas and then with a vicious patch of wire grass that has attacked our rhubarb patch and made itself at home there. Between my sore legs from my riding lesson and my sore arms and shoulders from my weed-pulling/digging/wrestling, I can certainly tell I got a work-out yesterday! For me, that's my favorite way to exercise--much better than endless trudging along on a treadmill. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Down by the Riverside

David was fearless as he explored our spot in the forest this evening. We kept a watchful eye on him but didn't hover. As Jeff said, "I was prepared to pull him out of the river if he fell in!" Fortunately, that didn't happen; but David did end up dirty--and wet--and happy! :)

Not My Ordinary Jeeping Outfit

In the summertime, I love wearing long knit dresses. They are so cool, so comfortable, so easy to wear. Recently I have ordered a couple of dresses like this through eBay and have had a few successes and a few failures. I am very pleased with the dress I'm wearing in this picture; I liked it even better when it arrived than I did when I saw it on eBay. But two dresses I received recently are way too small for me so I passed them along to a friend. Oh well, eBay can be a little hit or miss, but I still enjoy it, especially because we sell things through eBay and then have some "free" money to spend as we wish through that site!

Normally I wouldn't wear this on a jeeping expedition in the forest, but our adventure was so unexpected that I decided not to change my clothes but just to go like this. :)

Rock Skipping Lessons

Backseat Buddies

While Jeff was inside the market getting our food this evening, I stayed in the Jeep with the boys and watched bemusedly as they entertained themselves in various ways--drinking out of sippy cups (Josiah seems to think that's a treat since he doesn't often do it!), singing "Where Is Thumbkin?" which then morphed into "Where Is Dirty Hand?" since they both had ink on their hands from a craft they did at storytime at the library today, moving the cups back and forth in their mouth while making funny sounds (I can't figure out how to describe that in a more understandable way), etc. They're so imaginative and free to express themselves in silly ways!

Jeff & His Jeep

Interesting facts about the Jeep:
~ it is officially an antique (I guess when cars turn 25 years old, they achieve that status)
~ Jeff hasn't washed it since he bought it (the only time it ever gets cleaned is when it rains)
~ if you drive it when it is raining and some water gets in through the less-than-waterproof top, you don't have to worry a bit about flooding inside because there are holes in the bottom of the floorboard through which you can see the road, and the water would quickly drain out
~ the green bungee cord in the bottom photo is used to hold the driver's door shut (Jeff got tired of his door flying open while he was driving down the road, so he fixed up that way to make sure it stayed shut)
~ Jeff often has to deal with tailgaters because he can barely get up to 55 mph in the Jeep, and that's going downhill :)

All in all, we love the Jeep and are very grateful to have it!!!

One of Each

Jeff got off work early today and since we had some extra time this evening (and also because I didn't have any definitive dinner plans...I was in one of those, "hmm, I wonder if some food is going to materialize before my eyes the next time I look in the refrigerator" kind of moods), we went to our neighborhood market to pick up some Mexican food, then headed to the forest in the Jeep. We actually intended to go to a park close to our house--a park which is in the forest and has a river running through it, but which also has picnic tables and fairly smooth roads leading into it. However when we arrived there, there was a gate across the road into the park; for some reason that we couldn't figure out, the park was closed. Jeff wasn't the least bit discouraged though so we kept driving up the main road and looked for paths into the forest. Well, we found them--paths, that is--they weren't smooth, and sometimes they led through huge mud puddles or even small streams--but we kept driving (you can go anywhere in a Jeep!) and eventually found a great place next to the river where we stopped, got out, ate our dinner, threw rocks and sticks into the river, watched Jeff demonstrate skipping rocks, and generally had a wonderful time enjoying God's beautiful creation! (And after we left the forest, we drove into town for some chocolate ice cream from Kline's which we brought home and shared with Grandpa and Grandma!) :)

As we bounced our way into the forest, I couldn't help but notice the glaring differences between Josiah and David. David was calmly and happily looking around at everything, not disturbed in the least by all the ruckus. Josiah, on the other hand, was--shall we say?--expressing his concern about how things were going and, subsequently, trying to tell Jeff what to do, where to go, and how to get there. It probably didn't help his anxiety level that a couple of times the engine died, and it took a few minutes for it to start again. It probably also didn't help that the Jeep had just spent a few weeks at the mechanic's being fixed, and today was the first day to see whether it really was fixed! But for whatever reason, Josiah was a worried little boy for a while.

Based on what we've just read in The Treasure Tree (which I wrote about previously), I encouraged Josiah to practice being an otter or even a lion, quick to see the joy and humor in life and quick to embrace adventure--and he could relate to that because of his familiarity with that book.

As I reflected on all of this later, I realized two things: first, I am so grateful for Jeff bringing out the lion/otter side of me. When I considered marrying him, I knew that life with him would be an adventure; and as I look back, I'm so glad that he has both provided the adventure as well as helping to shape my character to really appreciate the adventure and handle it with "let's just see how this turns out" grace and not "I'm pulling my hair out" stress.

Second, it struck me that as our family of four jolted along in our Jeep, we had one of each "animal" in the vehicle...Jeff is our fearless lion...I tend to be the golden retriever...Josiah was acting out his beaver side to a T...and David was our happy-go-lucky otter. Though I realize that the boys' personalities may change somewhat as they get older (particularly David's since he is so young and it's hard to really accurately assess his personality at this point), it was very interesting to me how God put us together as a unit--and how when we function together using each other's strengths, we can have a wonderfully happy family adventure!

Game Boys

~ Josiah and David playing Candyland
~ Josiah playing Parcheesi

One of the things that Josiah gets the most enjoyment out of at this stage of life is playing games. He is happy to play them by himself (aka, playing with God) or, even better, play them with a "real person" (me, Jeff, Grandma, Grandpa, or anyone else he can recruit!)...and recently, he and David have even been doing a good job of "playing" games together. Obviously, the rules are largely ignored when they play together; but as long as they're happy, I'm happy, too. :) Quite often, Josiah requests a NEW (to him) game; he wants to learn how to play ALL the games we have in our closet. The one that caught his eye yesterday was called Rules of the Road, and my parents gave it to my brother Doug when he turned 16. (By the way, Doug, if you're reading this and want your game back, I'll give it to you the next time you pass this way!) :) Anyway, this game is all about--obviously--the rules of the road; and I'm sure it's great preparation for learning to drive. But for now, my boys are having a blast simply zooming the little cars around the board, which is marked with streets, buildings, signs, etc. When that game first got opened, there was some disagreement as to who was going to play with it--imagine that! At first, I got out the timer and let Josiah play with it for two minutes, then David could play with it for two minutes, etc. Although in some situations I think the timer trick works wonders, in this case I decided I'd had enough of the timer after a short while...and since there were six cars, they could share the cars and play at the same time. Amazingly, they were both completely content with that suggestion; and there have been no arguments since then over that game. :)
As I watch Josiah's personality continue to develop, it fascinates me how intrigued he is by games...and I take special note of this because I know as I homeschool him, I'll be able to use games to help him learn--and make learning tons of fun in the process!
Writing about him playing games brings back memories for me of various games I played as a child. My overwhelming impression is that we didn't play games that often--too busy working to spend a lot of time playing games, I guess. :) But I'm not complaining a bit. I'm convinced I had a virtually ideal childhood, and I feel enormously blessed by that. I think the fact that we didn't play games all the time made them even more special when we did play them!
With my maternal grandparents, I remember playing Chinese Checkers; in fact, we now have that very old board that I played on with them. I also remember playing croquet in their front yard.
With my paternal grandparents, Solitaire was the big game for my granddad; he played it often and taught it to me. My grandparents also played Rummy, and I have good memories of my brother David and I playing Rummy with them when we visited there. (I also have good memories of them keeping little Milky Way candy bars in their refrigerator. When we got to their house, David and I would sneak into their kitchen to get out one of those Milky Ways--not that we were fooling anyone, I'm sure!)
With my dad, the big game is Uno. When I was not yet school age and was the only child at home during the day, he would play Uno with me when he came up from the office for lunch. When I won, he would pretend to be so sad and would pull down his lower lip and make a funny sound which delighted me. :)
With my mother, we spent so much time together doing a myriad of things; but I don't remember a game that we played consistently. I do however remember one time when she sat down on the living room floor with me and played Bible Dominoes, and that was really special.
The one exception to the "not many games" lifestyle was our annual week of vacation at the beach. During that week, we played games galore; and it was SO MUCH FUN! When we were home, we often played outside--climbed trees, played all kinds of sports, had a huge swing set, etc. We also had a ping-pong table in our playroom, and that was great to have. I certainly wasn't deprived in the fun department. :)
As I consider the difference between my growing-up years and Josiah's, I realize that a lot of this can be attributed to first child versus last child experiences. When I came along, I had big siblings to play with--especially my brother David who was 2 years older than me and was my best buddy growing up. With Josiah though, his little brother is only now becoming someone that he can really play with...and even then, little David's abilities for playing games are quite limited at this stage of life. So Josiah naturally looks to me and to Jeff and other adults to fulfill his "play" love tank. I can imagine though that as both of the boys grow, they will begin to turn to each other more often for someone to play with, rather than to me. However, I hope I always remember to take the time to play games with my children, realizing that it's not wasted time but could very well be an essential way to fill their love tank.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Culture of Respect

This morning we enjoyed a good time of fellowship with our friends Bob and Cindy, and one of the bonuses of our time was the opportunity to get to know their daughter and her husband a little more. Cindy works in special education, and Maleasa (their daughter) works in an early intervention program to help young children with various both Cindy and Maleasa have seen a lot of kids and know a lot about kids, and I value their input immensely. Back when I was worried about David's lack of speech, I talked extensively with Cindy about how to help David, and Maleasa was kind enough to pass along some info for me as well about dealing with a late talker.

Today, toward the end of our time together, Maleasa commented on how respectful the boys are, particularly Josiah. For example, once when Josiah wanted to jump on a big pillow in another room of the house, he first came to Cindy and said, "Excuse me, Cindy, may I jump on that pillow?" Maleasa was impressed by that, and she commented that a lot of kids would have gone ahead and jumped on it without asking until someone told them to stop.

Anyway, that conversation got me thinking about respect and how to build that in children. Now let me be the first to admit that we have not got it all figured out. There are plenty of times when the boys are anything but respectful! (For example, Josiah needs to learn to WAIT when others are talking and he wants to say something.) So I'm not speaking from the position of expert; I'm simply a fellow mom on the path to instilling good values in her children. But there are a few things that we do, or don't do, that I think have created a culture of respect in our family.

1. We don't have a TV. Let me clarify by saying that I don't believe TV is inherently evil; I certainly don't think it's a sin to have one. In fact, there are occasionally times when I wish we had one so I could sit in front of it and be a mental vegetable for a while. :) But overall, wow, I am thrilled that we don't have a TV! I can't say enough how grateful I am that during most of my growing-up years, we didn't have one...and how grateful I am that Jeff is completely supportive of this in our family now. I am convinced that our battle against disrespect is made immeasurably easier by the fact that Josiah and David don't really have examples of disrespect. I know very little about modern cartoons or kids' TV programs, but what I do see appalls me at times (I know I sound terribly old-fashioned...but that's the lesser of two evils when it comes to protecting my kids from examples of disrespect). :) If Josiah doesn't see how a little cartoon guy talks back to his mom, he's not going to copy it...because it never even got into his brain.

2. We read books that have good old virtues in them, and we discuss those virtues. That's one great thing about Before Five in a Row, a reading guide that we use in Learning Time. It points out examples of good behavior in the stories we read, so for example, as we read Ask Mr. Bear, we discussed the politeness that the boy in the story as well as all the animals showed to each other. When we read Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, we talked about the family dynamics in the Bear family--loving, caring, obedient, happy, etc. Josiah sees those positive qualities being emphasized, and those are the examples he can wrap his mind around.

3. We try to create a respectful environment here at home, no matter how tense the environment may be. This is not to brag; but during all the years of our marriage (almost 10!), I can't ever remember a disagreement when we actually raised our voices and yelled at each other. I can't ever remember Jeff calling me a name, or me doing that to him. There have been certain boundaries that we refuse to cross even in heated moments. I definitely had good examples of this growing up, as I never saw my parents get into vicious arguments. It's perfectly normal to me to not fall into blatant forms of disrespect, even when I'm angry; and I am striving for that to be perfectly normal for Josiah as well. It seems so much better to not introduce the bad to him and then tell him to fight against it--much better to make the good seem natural. (I don't mean to, in any way, imply that we are perfect in this area. In fact, one of my major character issues during the past year or two has been patience, particularly with my children, but it also comes out with Jeff. This is an area that I constantly strive to improve in because I see how far from perfection I fall. So I don't want this to be misinterpreted to imply perfection--not at all--simply the foundation of boundaries of respect, even in the midst of disagreement.)

4. I feel like I'm continually reminding Josiah to say "please" or "thank you," etc. If I had a dollar for every time I've reminded him of manners and respect issues, I'd be a wealthy woman indeed! Sometimes I get tired--just plain old tired--of reminding him, and I want to let things drop. But I try to remember how important this foundation is and how much easier the rest of his life can be because of learning these lessons early. Now that David is beginning to talk, my reminders for him are getting going in full force. At this stage, it's still fun to remind him because he's just so cute when he says in his little voice, "Thank you!"

5. My grandma on my mother's side taught us the Penny Game which is a great reminder to be respectful that we use with Josiah. When we visited her as kids, she would get out a little bowl of pennies for each of us; and when we forgot to do something politely, she would take a penny out. Oh, how we hated to lose a penny simply because we forgot to say "please!" But it sure was fun to catch one of the adults making a mistake and then take a penny away from them!!! It was a fun, memorable way to practice manners and respect. With Josiah, we don't play it every day; but definitely when we see manners slipping, we revive it in a hurry. I start him with 10 pennies, then take one away for each mistake (could be something like simply forgetting to say "thanks" or could be a more serious disrespect issue)...but I also give him an extra one if I catch him doing something extra special--like playing especially nicely with David, or cheerfully offering to help me with something. All the "experts" say, "Catch them being good, and reward them for that, whether by verbal praise or other reward." So I try to use that to emphasize respectful behavior.

I feel like I can't express enough that I realize all of this--all the good that we do--is a gift from God; and it is His grace and power that helps us to achieve whatever good we accomplish. I have said it so many times, but it's still so true--nothing has ever driven me to rely on God like parenting has--nothing--ever! In this area of respect, we are certainly trying to create a family culture of respect; and that is a very conscious decision on our part. But we don't have it all figured out, and we are all (Jeff, Davene, Josiah, and David) sinners who fall short of the glory of God. I'm not saying this because I know it's the right thing to say but because I deeply believe it: the good that we accomplish in our family is because of God's abundant grace, and all glory goes to Him!

Like Arrows in the Hands of a Warrior

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5

Josiah has been extremely interested in bows and arrows recently, so as part of father/son time this afternoon Jeff made two bows and four arrows and started teaching Josiah how to shoot them. I couldn't watch them and NOT think about Psalm 127! We're so grateful for our sons!!!