Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Week 15

Week 15 has come and is almost gone, and the main highlight that I should have reported last week was my latest appointment with my midwives. It was a wonderfully smooth, peaceful, short appointment. Everything looked good, baby's heartbeat sounded great (145 bpm), my blood pressure was excellent (124 over 76), weight gain was normal (3 lbs.)...all good signs!

My next appointment will be on August 29 when I am 20 weeks, and it will be the all-important, most-exciting ultrasound appointment to FIND OUT WHETHER WE'RE HAVING A BOY OR A GIRL!!! With both Josiah's and David's pregnancies, the boys cooperated perfectly during the ultrasounds; and they were very easy to distinguish as boys. We'll see if this little one cooperates as well. :)

So, the theory goes that a slower fetal heartbeat (more like 120 bpm) signals a boy, while a faster one (around 160 bpm) indicates a girl. The fact that ours was squarely in the middle indicates that we have no clue what we're having! But I'm curious, any of the other moms out there find a correlation between their baby's heart rate and their gender???

Monday, July 30, 2007

Insight from Ecclesiastes

I don't know what you think about the book of Ecclesiastes. I've always enjoyed reading it--I love the poetry of the way things are expressed in it--but I also readily admit that it's kind of a depressing book. But last night, while reading an article from a Focus on the Family Parents magazine, I gained a new insight from Ecclesiastes. Here is part of the humorous but realistic article, and it particularly hits home for me as I have thought a lot recently (like I always seem to be doing!) about how to wisely balance all the (constant, unceasing, persistent, urgent, overwhelming) demands for my time.

Time Crunch
by Erik Johnson

The last time I answered the question "How are you?" without saying "Busy" was 1964. I was 12.

Four decades; one wife; five kids; multiple pets, jobs, and moves later; how am I? Still busy.

I was taught that we often overestimate how much we can accomplish in a day and underestimate how much we can accomplish in a year. But deciding what to accomplish is not so easy. Do I wash the car or write the great American novel? Do I date my wife first or learn how to play the oboe? Do I go to the gym or audition for the city orchestra?

Sadly, all the seminars, books, and time management coaches have not helped me add one minute to my 24-hour day. To organize my time, I keep lists of significant next actions and someday-maybe tasks. If I complete one task a day, I will finish by 2098.

To prioritize, I cut out the unrealistic dreams. No more plans to become an astronaut, brain surgeon, and rocket scientist. This frees me to achieve the important tasks: win the Nobel Peace Prize, become a world-class chef, and learn how to use our washing machine.

I once calculated it would take me 14 years to read all the books, watch all the videos, and listen to all the music in our home library--15 if I include our eight-track tapes. To make that number more manageable, I decluttered. I emptied our shelves of everything but the absolutely necessary.

So I got rid of War and Peace. It was painful--what if I appear on a game show and have to name the main character?--but the decision brought me time to attend to other duties. Now I can learn how to use my new personal digital assistant. Too bad the manual is thicker than War and Peace...

Someone once said, "Time is God's way of keeping everything from happening all at once." Since I cannot change God's design and lengthen time, the only option is to change my must-do list. But how do I simplify my life when every magazine I've saved since the Reagan administration is still waiting to be read?

I take my inspiration from Solomon who wrote, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

This reminds me that getting things done is not as important as leaving certain items undone if they do not meet two criteria: 1) Does God think those tasks are beautiful? 2) Do they have eternal significance?...

Even today, as I have made choices about how to use my time, I have asked myself these two questions several times; and it has quickly clarified my thoughts. I always get excited about gleaning a new insight from a verse and seeing it in new ways, and to have done that with this verse in Ecclesiastes was particularly exciting since it applied so directly to my day-to-day life. I'm so grateful for how we can always learn more from God's Word; we never get to the bottom as we swim in His wisdom!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Due Date

Today was my due date.

When I found out I was pregnant, I joyfully, eagerly calculated my due date--July 28, 2007.

After the miscarriage, I remember thinking that this day would be a hard day for me, especially if I wasn't pregnant by this point in time. Now that this day is here, I discover that it's not such a hard day after all--and the thing that makes all the difference, besides God's grace (which obviously is the source of ALL victory in this area), is the little 4-inch baby living inside me.

I can't help but think that if not for the miscarriage, I wouldn't be carrying this baby now. And then I wonder, does God ever transfer souls? With these two pregnancies, were there really two different, individual souls involved? Or is it possible that God, seeing that the microscopic little body forming in my womb could not sustain life, took the soul from the miscarriage and decided instead to wait and plant it in me this time? I don't know, and I'm sure that I'll never know until I get to heaven and ask God myself.

But here's what I do know: this day, which might have been filled to overflowing with sorrow and grief, now simply brushes my heart with a moment of sad remembrance, then lets the sunshine of this pregnancy shine through again. And I am so very grateful for that gift.

Love Is...

...single-handedly canning 19 quarts of sweet cherries while simultaneously babysitting your youngest grandson so your daughter could go to her midwife appointment, then insisting, when your exhausted daughter got home, that she go to bed and take a nap rather than staying up to help with the cherries like she promised

Thanks, Mother!!!

Still Kickin'

Despite my recent absence from the world of computers/blogging/life beyond Sylvan Drive, etc., I am still alive and kicking; and no catastrophes have befallen any of us. Just normal life busy-ness has kept me away from the computer for the past few days. I apologize if I caused any undue anxiety to anyone (well, that would be one of you who IMed me this morning to make sure I was still alive!) by my silence. :)

My mind has been busy with various topics to write about, but I have had a hard time finding the time to do it. My options for blogging are usually afternoons when the boys are sleeping or nights after they're in bed. The past few days, I have been so tired in the afternoon that I have needed to take a nap, thus eliminating the possibility of blogging. And our evenings have been extra busy, it seems--with a houseful of guests last night and an impromptu pow-pow with our neighbors on the lawn on Thursday night and an at-home movie night with Jeff on Wednesday night. So there went my other window of opportunity for blogging. Oh, well, life goes on...and, boy, does it ever!

Here are a few pictures from this past week to fill in the gap a bit:
~ on Wednesday morning, Jeff and Josiah took our dog Molly to the vet for her routine rabies shot, so David and I had some time together; it was really interesting to see how content he was to play by himself; for his whole life, he's had a big brother who has been an almost constant companion for him, so David hasn't had as much experience with entertaining himself as, say, Josiah did as a toddler; but on this particular morning, David had great fun setting up these chess pieces, and then...
~ playing on this train board that Jeff made some time ago for Josiah; David learned quickly that if you can't reach all the things you want to get to, well, by all means, climb on the board and plop down in the middle so you have access to everything!
~ later on Wednesday, Jeff (with the boys' "help") made some yummy no-bake cookies; I don't know if many people realize what a good cook Jeff is; he doesn't cook often, but when he does, it's always delicious!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Corinthians 13 for Parents

Tonight I was reading the Focus on the Family Parents magazine that just came in the mail, and I came across this great article by Cindy Sigler Dagnan that I found thought-provoking and wanted to share.

What Remains
The "Love Chapter" for Parents

If I spend my days building skyscrapers with blocks, assembling cool stuff out of LEGOs, and creating relationships with other moms at Starbucks, but have not love, I am only the siren of the kids' ride-on fire truck, annoyingly stuck on hold.

If I have the gift of knowing which child attempted to flush the Hot Wheels down the toilet and which one pushed her sister, and if I have faith that somehow we'll survive life's emergencies, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I save all my box tops for school and give outgrown clothing to the local shelter, and if I surrender my body to stretch marks and under-eye circles (without the benefit of BOTOX, tanning salons, or diet bars), but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient when someone isn't ready to use the big girl potty. It is kind when my husband has a hard day. It doesn't envy my neighbor who drives the new sport utility vehicle I can't afford.

It is not rude, snapping at my spouse or children when things don't go my way. It is not easily angered at perceived or real injustices.

It always protects the smallest, sweetest family confidences; always trusts God to provide my children's needs; always hopes in the freshness of tomorrow and the bright future of family; always perseveres amid hardship and doubt.

Where there are sleepless nights, they shall end. Where there are diapers, Little League, and dioramas built from shoe boxes, they will cease. Where there is knowledge of baby-care trends, discipline strategies, and boy-girl problems, it will pass away.

Now these three remain: faith, lived out in my daily circumstances and instilled in my children; hope, of one day rejoicing with my family in heaven; and love, which covers over a multitude of less-than-perfect moments.

But the greatest of these is love. It is what remains...long after I am gone.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Inevitable Question

"So, are you hoping for a girl?"

I've been asked this question a few times. Maybe a few dozen times...maybe a few hundred...but who's counting? :)

I really don't mind being asked this over and over, so if anyone reading this has asked it, please don't feel bad. I'm happy to answer the question, because I think it's an interesting one and I have enjoyed pondering it within my own soul.

The only thing I dislike about being asked this question is that usually the person asking it isn't really looking for an hour-long discourse on the topic. So when someone asks me if I prefer a boy or a girl, I answer--simply, honestly--"Either." And then the person doing the asking usually says, "Healthy baby, right?" And I say, "Yes." But here's what I really think... :)

I LOVE having boys. Besides the fact that I am absolutely head-over-heels in-love with MY boys, I also just think that sons are one of life's greatest blessings! When I was pregnant with Josiah, I was thrilled to learn that he was a boy and was so excited to see my beloved husband with a son! When I was pregnant with David, I had a feeling he was a boy (mostly for the unscientific reason that at that time, we knew SO MANY couples who were having second children the same gender as the first...either two boys or two girls was all we seemed to hear about, so I naturally assumed that would be the case for us, too!) so I wasn't a bit surprised when the ultrasound tech announced the news. In many ways, him being a boy made life easier, even from the very beginning when we were able to take back to Israel with us a bunch of Josiah's baby clothes and use those for David. Now that my sons are older, I'm even more grateful that they are both boys as I see how they relate to each other. What a gift to have a brother! (I have to add that from my own experience with my brother David, my closest sibling in age to me, even though he was a boy and me a girl, we still did everything together...from playing football to climbing trees to playing house--well, he got to be the man of the house and go hunt bear for us to eat, but still, he DID play house with me!--and even crocheting. That's right. My big tall manly brother used to crochet. In fact, during evenings when my mother would read to us after supper, he and I would sit and crochet loooooonnnggg rows of chain stitch that would stretch all the way across the living room. We never actually made anything though, never finished a blanket, not even a baby blanket, not even a scarf, not even a potholder! But we had fun.) :)

Anyway, one of my tendencies is to think/worry about things far in the future, things that I have absolutely no control over at this point in time--pointless, I know, but I still do it. For example, before I even got pregnant this time, I would have these internal debates: what if we have another boy? should we then adopt so we could have a girl? or should we try once more for a biological girl? but what if I end up with four sons? would we still adopt a girl and thus end up with five children (more than I ever imagined myself having when I was younger!)? would I be content to only have sons? would I always feel like something was missing if I never had a daughter?

As I thought about all of this, I came to the realization that I think I would feel like something was missing if I never had a daughter. My own extremely close relationship with my mother has shown me how wonderful mother/daughter relationships can be, and I can't really imagine living life without ever experiencing that. Now I realize, of course, that just because I might have a daughter doesn't mean we'll have a great relationship--if only it were that simple! But I want to have a shot at it. And adoption is such a common thing in our family that I wouldn't hesitate at all to adopt; in fact, it's something that has been in my heart for a very long time, and it doesn't even seem like a "consolation prize" to me.

As a person, I tend to approach life on a fairly practical level, rather than a mystical one. But a few months back, before this pregnancy, I had a very distinct "flash of faith" one evening as I was walking into our guest room. I clearly felt a very strong impression that the room we use as a guest room would one day be our daughter's room. And at that moment, doubt left; and I was filled with a deep peace that somehow, someday, we would have a girl.

So here I am, pregnant again, and still in the position of not knowing whether this one is a he or a she. Several times, Josiah has asked me, "What do you think the baby is?" or "What do you really want?" I really don't have an answer for him. It seems so natural to think of the baby being a boy, but I don't have a strong "sixth sense" that it is. Those who know me and have ventured a guess about the gender of this baby have said "girl"--in a month or two we'll (hopefully) know how accurate their intuition was.* :)

When I first got pregnant, Josiah said he wanted a sister (he also said the same thing when I got pregnant with David, but look what happened that time :) ); but recently he has said several times that he would like another brother. When I asked him why, he said that boys are "rough" (his exact word) and that he liked that!

Really, what it all comes down to for me is that I firmly believe God is in control over whether we have another son or our first daughter. Despite all that humans try to do to pick a boy or a girl (and humans do some pretty crazy things!), God still controls it with a flick of His finger or a wisp of a thought. And more than anything, I trust His plan for our family.

When I got pregnant for the third time, we had actually been using a method of gender selection that had been recommended to us by a relative who had used it and "gotten exactly what she wanted." We decided to give it a whirl to try for a girl and ended up getting pregnant. A few weeks later, I had a miscarriage; and of course, we never knew whether that was a boy or a girl. That experience left such a bad taste in our mouths about the whole idea of gender selection; we just didn't feel right about how we had been trying to play God with all of it. (I'm not issuing a blanket condemnation of this or trying to put anyone down who may have used various "methods" for this, just sharing what our reaction was after our experience of loss.) We decided, "Never again." From now on, we'll let God give us what He wants and what He knows is best for us; and we will accept from His hand whatever He gives us--with great joy and thanksgiving!

After our loss, I can't imagine having an attitude of "I sure hope this is a girl; and if it's not, I'll be really disappointed." (I feel like I keep qualifying my statements in this post, but I do want to say that I'm not trying to condemn anyone who really does feel disappointment in any aspect of their baby. I think that can be part of human nature, and I think God works with us despite our disappointments--and usually overwhelms us with love for our babies, no matter our initial responses. If I'm stepping on anybody's toes with this, I apologize. I really am just trying to share my own's thoughts and feelings as I go through this experience. I know others process things in different ways, and that's fine!) More than ever, I realize that a baby--a real live baby that comes home with you--is a treasure, not something to ever be taken for granted. I pray I never do take it for granted.

And this brings me to another point. Everyone says they're hoping for a healthy baby; and of course, we are, too. But this is another area in which I find myself learning to trust God more and more. Really, if He knows that for some reason, a "non-healthy" baby is the best thing for our family, then I want that. Of course, I want my children to be healthy--happy--free from pain and suffering; but I also know that God sees the big picture, and what I really want is for God to work in the minds and souls and spirits and hearts and characters of everyone in my family to mold us all into His likeness. As hard as it is to admit this, if He knows that a "special needs" child is what it will take to accomplish that, then amen, so be it.

My perspective on "special needs" was forever altered by our time in Israel. Israeli medical culture places a very high importance on prenatal testing, probably because of some of the genetic diseases that are more prevalent in Jews. During my pregnancy in Israel, we resisted some of the prenatal testing; but we did have some of it, and I particularly remember an extremely thorough ultrasound we had around 20 weeks of pregnancy--done at that point in time because abortions were legal until 22 weeks (I think) and, in fact, the unspoken inference was that if there was a "problem" with the baby, an abortion would be strongly recommended. At the end, the doctor said, "I have checked everything except one ear which I couldn't check because of the baby's position, and I can guarantee that everything except that ear is perfect." I wanted to scream, "You know, even if this baby wasn't 'perfect,' we would still love him, care for him, and never ever ever choose to end his life!"

I firmly believe that society loses something very vital when it rids itself of those with special needs. The changes that occur in people as they deal with, care for, get along with, and even learn from those with various handicaps are highly valuable. Parents, siblings, extended family, even society in general can become much more sympathetic, patient, and generally kind when forced to cope with a special needs individual.

I can't say this strongly enough: I know it's not easy, and above all, I don't mean to belittle the hardships that families of special needs or terminally ill children face. I have never walked in those shoes, so all my insight comes from the view of an outsider. But please, don't put me in a society that has "eliminated" all the "imperfect" babies from the world.

To wrap this up, I think I need to climb down off my soapbox and trade it in for my bed! :) But here's the most important thing that I wish to empasize: I trust God's plan. Whether boy or girl, whether "healthy" or not, whether live birth or miscarriage, I trust His hand, His power, His love, and His strength to help me through whatever is coming. And that is sufficient for me.

* I do plan to have an ultrasound and, if possible, find out whether I get to pull out our much-loved baby boy clothes again or go a little bit crazy with the pink stuff! When I was pregnant with Josiah, I definitely wanted to find out what he was; and the same was true with David, mostly for practical reasons (so we could take Josiah's baby clothes back with us to Israel rather than having to buy a bunch of new stuff there). This time around, I was actually tempted to wait and not find out; but as soon as I discussed it with Jeff, he was quick to admit that he would like to find out beforehand. It didn't take him long to convince me, and now I can hardly wait!!! The bottom line for me is that it helps me to bond so much with the baby even before birth (I'm not at all implying that great bonding can't happen without that). I love knowing a little about my baby before he is born--calling him by name, imagining him more accurately, etc. But that's just what works for me! :)

Week 14

Here we are at week 14 and 1/2, and things are still progressing well. The big highlight of this week was that on Saturday night, the 21st, I'm sure I felt the baby move as I sat in bed reading. I know this is considered very early by the experts, but I'm fairly certain it was actually a baby movement and not other mysterious internal rumblings. :) Actually, beginning in my 12th week, I have been feeling, at random times, sensations that might-have-been-or-might-not-have-been the baby. Lest anyone think I'm crazy for thinking I'm feeling stuff so early, my sister-in-law (who I would trust with my life; her integrity is not to be questioned!) felt her baby during her 11th week of pregnancy.

So I'm curious...I know there are a few other moms out there who read this blog. Anyone willing to share when they first felt their baby move?

Welcome to Japan

If you had wandered into our home around 6:15 p.m. this evening, you would have been greeted by a hearty "Welcome to Japan!", you would have heard the Japanese national anthem on the CD player, you would have been handed a kimono (it may have actually looked like a bathrobe, if you lacked imagination) to put on, your shoes would have been removed and you would have been given slippers to wear, and a place would have been made for you on the floor around our low table. Well, actually we don't have a low table--no coffee table in our living room--so we used stools instead...but we would have generously shared one with you!

The inspiration for the events of this evening was a book we read in Learning Time this morning, A Pair of Red Clogs--a great book about responsibility and honesty, as well as an interesting view of Japanese life and culture. After we read the book, I started thinking about having a Japanese night; and as the day went on, more and more ideas started popping into my head. Unfortunately, because I didn't plan this in advance, the menu was decidedly non-Japanese (chicken alfredo pasta, homemade salsa, and guacamole chips--international, but not Asian). :) But my original idea of sitting on pillows on the living room floor to eat supper expanded into wearing kimonos and slippers, listening to Japanese music (actually, the national anthem was the only piece of Japanese music I could lay my hands on at such short notice, so we listened to it over and over :) ), and having napkins decorated as Japanese flags (Josiah was the artist who drew those). Jeff, who had no idea this was coming until he got home from work, was able to contribute at a moment's notice by teaching us a few Japanese phrases--which I have, regrettably, completely forgotten by now!

All in all, a very fun experience, requiring little except a bit of creativity and imagination!

Yesterday's Specials

Some of the delightful choices on life's menu for yesterday included the following:

~ Josiah eating his breakfast and exclaiming, "You're probably the prettiest girl I've ever seen!" (hmm, maybe I should dress up more often) :)

~ a peaceful Sunday morning--for some reason, the past few Sunday mornings have been stressful and grumpy mornings, for me and the boys!...it's not because we have to hurry around and rush to get out the door on time, so what is it?...maybe part of it has been David's unspoken insecurity as he "knows" that things are different on that day and so he gets clingier?...in any case, yesterday morning was so wonderfully calm; and that was probably partially due to the fact that I had my "weekly" emotional attack on Saturday this week, instead of Sunday...I think I'll keep this in mind for the future: Saturday is a much better day to be weepy than Sunday :)

~ David being such a snuggle-bug after lunch at my parents' house--we pulled out this cozy lambskin and cuddled under it...David was so tired that he wanted to go to sleep at their house, but he called for "Eeyore" and "Bear" to be at their house and didn't understand that to sleep with them, he would have to go up the hill to our house

~ David's laughter ringing out as I pushed him on his swing yesterday evening--he wanted to go "high, high!"...I would tickle his feet as his swing came back to where I was and he would laugh with delight at the highness of it and the tickling
~ a great time of playing with Molly last night--she has calmed down SO MUCH...in fact, while we were playing with her and petting her, Jeff was actually able to trim her nails...the last time we tried, it was literally impossible to do that because she would freak out...there's something therapeutic about playing with a dog, brushing her, and getting licked by her :)
~ most of all, hope!--I feel energized for a new week and hopeful that it can be better than last week and that, in some of the little areas that were discouraging me on Saturday, I can indeed see growth...here's a silly example, but important to me: I resolve to make my bed every day and, in general, keep my room picked up without dirty clothes lying around...I feel hope that I can accomplish this, and hope makes all the difference in the world
"Excuse me, waiter, these are fabulous choices on the menu you've prepared! I'll take one of each. Yes, that's right: one of each! And thank you very much."
"Oh, by the way, give my compliments and gratitude to the chef" (God, who prepared such a refreshing feast for my soul yesterday)!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Today is the kind of day I could put a spin on and present in either a very positive light or a very negative one. For example, take a look at the pictures below...

I could write about how much fun it was to do part of Josiah's schoolwork outside under a shade tree...how gorgeous the weather was today, with perfect temperatures and a beautiful blue sky, almost like a fall day...how successful I felt as a mom/teacher to spend this time with the boys...how silly and happy and giggly Josiah was as he practiced subtraction with a flip chart...how cooperative the boys were as they colored together.


I could write about how impatient I felt as Josiah was silly with his math...how I had to bite my tongue to keep from hurrying him along...how, speaking of biting, Josiah literally bit me as we were acting out the story of God creating sharks; he obviously got into his part a little too much because, before I knew it, he was chomping down on my cheek; I know he didn't really mean to, but ouch!!!...how desperate I was for the last half hour before naptime to pass quickly so I could collapse...how harsh of an edge I heard in my voice numerous times today with the boys...how bummed I was that David woke up at 3:00 pm when I know he could have slept longer except for Josiah creeping softly into his room...how tired I got of saying "no, David" as he insisted on pushing the indoor tricycle over a card game Josiah was playing on the floor...how annoyed I felt as David reluctantly and very slowly picked up the pieces of a puzzle he had gotten out, but then had finished playing with...how exhausted I feel despite getting a decent night's sleep last night and a nap today...how frustrated I am by my inability to keep up with household things that I think should be a piece of cake to do...how discouraging it is to evaluate myself and feel like I'm not making any progress.

So which is the real day--the good one or the bad one? Both! Highs and lows, emotional roller coaster, hormones surging...can I blame it all on the pregnancy???

One thing that I don't want to do with this blog is only portray the triumphs of life and leave out all the bad stuff; after all, that's not reality...and I don't really think that's uplifting to anyone reading this. We are, of course, all pilgrims on a journey; and none of us have arrived in the courts of glory yet, so we seek to encourage each other even in the stumbles of life. But at the same time, I do want to follow the admonishment in Philippians 4 to "think on these things"--the lovely and admirable and excellent things. Yet again, I find myself saying, "It's hard to find the balance in this area!"

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Happy Learning Spot

When I was a girl, I had a wonderful old desk at home, the old-fashioned kind with chair attached and a lid that lifted above a space for keeping school supplies. You probably know the type. Unfortunately, that old desk went the way of all things, and I have no idea where it is now; but when I saw this little desk/chair recently on ebay, I knew right away that I would like for the boys to have it. We are fortunate enough to sell some things on ebay, and that gives us money to buy things on ebay, and it's a great system that I am extremely thankful for! So it was an easy decision about whether or not to purchase this. (And it was actually surprisingly cheap!) Gotta love ebay!!! :)
~ here is Jeff assembling the desk...the boys were actually singing "Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord!" while I took this picture--thus, the raised arms as they sang their part (you just can't sing that song and not do the arm motions, right?) :)
~ Josiah using the new desk for some math work this morning
~ proudly showing off his pages
~ and, of course, little brother has to have a turn...he's hard at work studying Thomas the train on his LeapPad :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Last Sunday the speaker at the church service we attended referred to some verses about fear that are well-known to me, and I was very grateful to be reminded of them. Here they are, from Matthew 10...

28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Hearing this reminded me of some verses I had seen recently in a devotional I've been reading at night, Prayers and Promises for Mothers. These verses come from Isaiah 51...

12 I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mortal men,
the sons of men, who are but grass,
13 that you forget the LORD your Maker,

who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?

I don't have time or energy to go into this too deeply tonight, but suffice it to say that I was a very fearful child and have battled fear as I have grown up and, I would say, have mostly conquered it, thanks to God's power within me. However, the robbery...well, it definitely opened the door in my mind to fear again. It's not something I deal with all the time; I can easily say it's not "constant terror" like the verse above refers to. But it does hit me at random times. One night recently looking out an upstairs window at the darkness, my thoughts swirled with wondering about who might be out there and what they might be planning to do.

One extremely familiar weapon that I often return to in my arsenal against fear is Psalm 27 which begins...

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me

to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,

my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

As I contemplated these three sections of Scripture recently, it struck me how similar they are in theme--why fear men? God is on your side--and I was so glad to have these as tools as in my toolbox as I work to build a peaceful, secure heart and home.

David, the Joker

David had tons of fun running crazily around the oval "track" in our living room and kitchen this morning, wearing this hat and making the bells at all the tips ring madly. Such a funny boy! :)


Recent utterances from the mouth of Josiah...

~ in the car yesterday, he wondered if Dairy Queen and Burger King are married

~ his plan has been to grow up to be a barber like his daddy...recently he announced that he would like to take over the shop when he gets old enough and to do that he needed to learn two things: how to cut hair and how to be the boss (personally I think he's well on the way to knowing how to be a boss, since he likes to practice a lot around here!) :)

~ one of the neighbor girls, Marlene, was over here recently; and as evening approached, lightning bugs started flashing and the kids started catching them...Marlene caught one and killed it because, as she put it, she doesn't like ANY kind of bugs, even lightning bugs or ladybugs...Josiah was very sad that she killed it, so she kindly promised that in the future, she would not kill lightning bugs at our house, only at her house...after I had gotten Josiah tucked in bed that night, he waited a few minutes, then appeared at the top of the steps IN TEARS because of the thought of Marlene killing lightning bugs...Josiah had actually been going through a period where every night, he would pop back out of bed several times after he was supposed to stay there, so when I first saw him that night, being compassionate was not my first response!...but when I heard what he was saying and saw his tears, I responded tenderly and tried to help soothe his troubled heart...I find it's a tough balance sometimes between dealing sensitively with issues that come up at his bedtime (just when I'm ready to be done "mothering" for the day!) and enforcing the stay-in-bed-and-don't-get-out rule

~ speaking of sensitivity (or lack thereof), during our last family night (when we went to Silver Lake to feed the swans and ducks), we drove through the cemetery where my paternal grandparents are buried and where my parents plan to be buried...we stopped and got out to look around, then hopped back in the car...and as we drove off, I was wondering aloud to Jeff if the Old Order Mennonites around here make simple wooden caskets when they have a death in their community...this was shortly after the Showalter family tragedy, so such thoughts were fresh in my mind...I was telling Jeff that when I die, I'd like to be buried in a simple wooden casket because I don't see any reason in the world that my family should pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a fancy box that will sit in the ground!!!...Jeff, by the way, helpfully reminded me that I'm planning to donate my organs or donate my body to science, so I may not even need a casket :)...but all that aside, I didn't carefully consider the fact that Josiah's ears were listening in on this particular conversation!...he and I have talked about death a number of times before, even my death, so I didn't really think it would affect him so much...but affect him it did...oh, dear, that particular goof on my part required a huge amount of consoling, talking about God's provision of strength in time of need, reassuring him that I felt healthy and really thought I wouldn't die anytime soon, and on and on and on...for several nights after this, I would tuck him in bed, he would be in a happy mood, then after a little while I would hear his little footsteps, see him in the upstairs hallway, and have the privilege of dealing with his emotional self all over again!

~ today after afternoon naps, Josiah crawled up on the couch with me and we got to talking about the future...for some reason, he wanted to know how old he had to be before he got married so we talked about that for a while...and at some point, he informed me that he wouldn't need to go to college because he was going to be a barber and Daddy could teach him that...we talked about the process of learning to know a young lady and deciding if she was the right one to be his wife...he said that he would like to take her to the tea shop to talk (I went to a wonderful local tea house last week with some ladies, so I think that's what put it in his head)...at the end, his voice got choked up and he said that he was really happy and that's why his voice sounded funny, not because he was sad...as I got up from the couch to go do something else, he said "Thanks for talking"...wow, talk about role reversal!...I'm usually the one to get so emotional and happy that I cry, and also the one to verbally appreciate the time we spend talking together...it's funny to see my habits/expressions rubbing off on him :)...he's really a tender heart

And now a bit about David...

~ I have grand intentions of writing a lengthy post about his language development very soon because I really want to record this information for posterity, but here is one thing I was noticing today...when David says certain words that end in the "n" sound but have difficult (for him) beginning sounds, he replaces that beginning sound with "n"...for example, "spoon" becomes "noon," "cane" becomes "nane," "green" is "neen," "pan" is "nan," etc.

~ David is turning into a little comedian; he absolutely loves to make us laugh...for example, today he fell out of bed when he was supposed to be napping but was really horsing around...that wasn't funny at all because I suspect he fell right on his head and it really hurt (and he could have been seriously injured; thank God for His protection!)...but the funny part was after supper, I was telling the rest of the family about his fall and I asked David if his head hurt...he said, "yeah"; but I suspected that he was just in the I'm-going-to-say-yeah-to-everything mood...so I asked him, "are you a kangaroo?"...sure enough, he said, "yeah," but then he started hopping around like a little madman as if to convince us that he really was a kangaroo...it cracked us up--it was such a spontaneous thing on his part...so then Jeff asked him "are you a snake?"...and again David said, "yeah"...only this time David had just taken a drink of milk and when he opened his mouth to answer, some of it spilled out just like a snake releasing a mouthful of venom...ah, that boy, he can be such a ball of sunshine!

The Boys' Room, Part Two

~ part of the west wall of the boys' room...some of Josiah's memory verses are visible at the very top of the wall, plus a name sign for each of the boys giving the meaning of their name and a really nice poem about it
~ we just got this picture back yesterday from Wal-Mart...it's easily my new favorite picture of my sons...that bright smile and mischievous glint in Josiah's eyes cracks me up every time I look at it...plus, his hand is actually holding David's head close to his...the photographer asked them to put their heads together, and David didn't do it quite right, so Josiah reached up and made it happen...in real life, their eyes are bluer than it appears here, and so is the matting around the picture...funny how different the coloring can appear in a photograph!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Boys' Room

Josiah's room is now known by a new name--the boys' room--since he is no longer the sole occupant of it. Little brother David moved across the hall from the baby's room into this room in preparation for a new baby arriving on the scene, so before we had David make the move, we took the opportunity to do some painting and redecorating here.

I don't really have any "before" pictures; but basically all the walls (and ceiling) were white, and the beds were put together as bunk beds. I'm sure at some point down the road, we will put them back together as bunk beds; but for now, our cautious first-born did not want to sleep on the top bunk, and we didn't think it wise to put our less-cautious second-born up on the top. So we took the beds apart, and it's working out great!

Choosing the wallpaper border was a group project, with both Jeff and Josiah having significant input in the choice of a border with antique fire engines on it. I was very happy with it: it's boyish, and the color of the fire trucks went nicely with the deep red color I wanted for the bottom half of the walls.

There are still several other things I want to do in this room--mostly, hanging shelves (which are now in the process of being painted) on the walls to have more display area, framing a painting done by Jeff's father and hanging that, putting up a curtain at the window (I have the material for it, but since I sadly can't sew--unlike so many of the talented ladies in blogland--I'm relying on my neighbor to actually put it together for me!), getting more picture frames and arranging those on the walls, and touching up the paint a little. But definitely the big stuff in this project is done; and for that, I heartily thank my own dearly beloved Jeff who labored long and hard in that room. I wasn't much help, and he certainly did the lion's share of the work. I am very grateful!!!
~ general view of the room
~ I'm addicted to creeping into the room at night and seeing these two boys that I adore more than words can say each curled up in their bed sleeping soundly...they are so cute and lovable!...I can easily see myself as the kind of mother who wakes up in the middle of the night and tiptoes into the room of her 16 year-old to make sure he's still breathing and to give him another kiss :)
~ a dresser that a friend GAVE us just fit into this nook
~ my favorite part of the room (besides the two boys sleeping in it) is the ceiling: a deep midnight blue with white stars, moon, and planets painted on it...I have had this idea in the back of my head for my boys' room for YEARS, and it's fulfilling to see it in real life--and to like it even more now than I did when it was just in my head (it doesn't always turn out that way, you know!) :)
~ my all-time favorite vacation spot is the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and this lighthouse nightlight is a fun reminder of that beloved stretch of sand

Week 13

For a change of pace, here's an action shot (instead of the normal fix-your-hair-and-smile-pretty picture) for this week's baby bump watch. :) To be honest, I don't love this picture of myself. But also to be honest, I don't think another picture got taken of me during my 13th week of this pregnancy. So I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter! :)

On Sunday evening, we went to Wal-Mart and bought a $10 badminton set, then relaxed on the front yard and tried our hand at it. Josiah was ecstatic. Ever since he played badminton at a Fourth of July party, he has wanted us to have a set. It's safe to say that I don't have much experience with badminton, and what little experience I had was years ago; but when you're playing with a five year-old, you don't have to be a very skillful player. It's a good reminder to just have fun. :)

I did manage to stay on my feet the whole time, unlike my dear mother who somehow ended up flat on her back, worrying family and a certain neighbor alike who all happened to be standing outside to see her demise. We worried, that is, until we heard the peals of laughter coming forth from her. Mom's always been quick to laugh at others who get hurt (not seriously hurt, of course, but just silly little falls and bumps...like Dad bumping his head yet again as he forgets to lean down far enough to compensate for his height, etc.); but she proved that she treats herself in the same manner and doesn't take herself too seriously!

I seem to have inherited this trait from her, and today it burst forth when my own dear little son had a tumble of his own. Jeff had taken off work early, and we had gone to a local family restaurant for lunch (gotta love an all-you-can-eat buffet where kids 6 and under eat free, and adult price is less than $5). We were sitting in a booth, and both boys had booster seats. David was not exactly staying in his, however, but was climbing all around the somewhat limited space to which he was confined. Late in the meal, he climbed back in his booster seat and was sitting there when he suddenly began to lean...and he and the seat toppled over like dominoes in slow motion. He was not hurt since he landed on the padded seat of the booth, but he did wail. And I did laugh. I tried to stifle it for his sake, but it was tough. When I held in the laughter, it started to leak through my eyes and make me cry.

My mom and I are experts at laughing until we cry.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a pregnancy post, so let's see... Hmm, still pregnant. Feeling pretty good overall. Wish I wasn't so tired. Overdid it a bit with badminton on Sunday and uprooting shrubs on Monday. Got a little crampy. Feeling better today. Actually 14 weeks pregnant today, but didn't get around to posting about week 13 until now. Will try to get a better picture at some point this week for the official week 14 pic. Next appointment with midwife is a week from today. Am betting that I'm having a boy since I just found out that a college friend whose life absolutely mirrors mine in the area of kids is pregnant with her 3rd boy. Had to laugh at this quote from the BabyCenter.com site: "Although the top of your uterus is only a bit above your pubic bone, that growth may be enough to push your tummy out a bit." Oh, sure. Honey, we passed that stage a long time ago. :)

I feel immensely blessed.

Home Again

I've actually been home from the conference for a few days, but have been reluctant to jump back into the world of blogging. Why? I'm not sure. I guess it just feels like there's so much other stuff I should be doing! Of course, when is that NOT true?! :)

The conference was wonderful! Refreshing, inspiring, educational, uplifting, spiritual, practical, etc. So much good stuff! I will admit that my head was absolutely spinning after the first day with various ideas churning around in my poor little brain--what's my philosophy of education? is it better to have a program that's rich in literature, or one that's more focused on hands-on activities? will I go crazy if every afternoon, I have to do a project with my boys, like build a model of an ear under our kitchen table, using pantyhose and cardboard? (answer to that one is probably yes) what about classical education? is it better to focus on Greek and Roman history in the elementary grades when a child can soak up the facts like a sponge? or better to wait until high school when the rich themes of that time period can more adequately be grasped and learned from? what's the balance between, on one hand, making learning fun and interesting and, on the other hand, training your child's character to be able to apply himself to things that aren't fun for him? do you make everything song and dance? what is my child's learning style? even if I do want to make it fun for him, what is the best way to do that, based on his personality type and learning style? am I leaving any gaps in my child's education? and on...and on...and on.

The interesting thing to me is that last year when I went to the conference, I was extremely new in the area of homeschooling, didn't really know much at all, and was confronted with LOTS of questions, just like this year. However, I knew I had a year to "figure it out" since Josiah was only 4 and the "real" schooling didn't start until this year.

So, this year rolls around, and I actually felt pretty confident going into the conference, since I had already essentially planned out this year of homeschooling and even started doing it with Josiah (and it was going well). However after attending a few sessions, my feeling that I had things pretty well figured out for this year went out the window and flew far, far away!

It took a night with my friend Jackie and some good discussion with her (she's a teacher...I LOVE the fact that so many of my friends are teachers...I throw questions at them all the time!) and some thinking time alone to realize that, as it turns out, I still feel pretty confident about the plan I had made for Josiah! I'm tweaking it a bit, but really, I feel like it's a good plan for this year--good for him as he gets a lot of basic learning into his brilliant head--good for me since it's a plan I can live with and am actually happy to do--and with no huge gaps. Whew!

Despite the whirl that my mind got sent into by the conference, I'm 100% thankful that I went. Besides the educational value of it, I also received these benefits:

~ the hope that comes from hearing other people's stories and seeing some of the long-term fruit of the homeschooling lifestyle
~ time away from home and family--a change of pace--time to refresh my batteries
~ spending time with Jackie and her husband Pete--it was really the first time I had spent any time with Pete, and I enjoyed so much seeing how Jackie and Pete interact (lovebirds, to say the least!) and conversing about all kinds of topics
~ in the car on the way, I listened to some tapes (I borrowed my parents' car...never too old for that, right?...and it--gasp!--doesn't have a CD player...so I dug out some old tapes and had a blast listening to them)--one of them was Jeff's sermon that he preached on Father's Day in 2002, three days after Josiah was born--oh. my. goodness. it was hilarious!!! it made me laugh and cry and fall in love more and more with the wonderful man I married--it was such a fun trip down memory lane!
~ coming home--there's nothing like a little time away to make coming home even sweeter than usual--Josiah was SO affectionate that night; it was delightful :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hasta La Vista!

Tomorrow morning I am heading north for a homeschool conference, so I won't be posting anything for a little while. I went to this conference last year and was VERY inspired, so I'm really looking forward to it and am eager to hear the different speakers they have this year. Plus, I get to spend a night with my good friend Jackie (who lives near the location of the conference) and catch up with her. :)

As much as I'm looking forward to this weekend away, I'm also already missing my family...sigh. Every time we are apart for even one night, I realize anew how extremely fortunate Jeff and I have been to not have to spend very much time away from each other during the years of our marriage.

Anyway, I'll post again in a few days!

Mr. Mallard

Here's Mr. Mallard from Make Way for Ducklings (another great children's book about ducks). I know THAT Mr. Mallard is supposed to live in Boston, but maybe this is one of his cousins...or maybe Mr. & Mrs. Mallard are taking a southern vacation. :)

I'm discovering that one of the fun things about homeschooling is that everything gets related to a story we've read together! :)


Jeff took some great pictures of the wildlife. In the first two pictures, I love the swan's reflection in the water; and in the last picture, I love the way the two swans are swimming so closely to each other. When you see two swans together, is it possible to think of anything but...ah...love?!?! :)

Better Late than Never

Last week, we celebrated Jeff's family night by eating a picnic supper by a nearby lake and then feeding the swans and ducks. (One of the reasons we did that was because in Josiah's schoolwork, we had been reading The Story about Ping; and I realized that Josiah had never fed ducks. Well! We had to remedy that situation quickly! A little hands-on learning is a very good thing!!!) It was a beautiful evening--and was a completely delightful way to spend a special family night together! I intended to post these pictures many days ago; but as so often happens, life got in the way, and I'm just now getting around to it. I love these pictures too much to not post them though, so here they are...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Peace Restored

Anybody notice I was feeling a little feisty when I wrote the last post? Jeff noticed. :) And he, being my knight in shining armor, quickly rode to my rescue. After he got home from work yesterday and we ate supper, he armed himself with hammer, nails, and another board with which to bar Sweetie Pie's entrance into Molly's space. Guess what? It worked!!! When I fed Molly today, Sweetie Pie galloped over, then turned away disappointed. But I sure was happy. :) There was no extra "matter" in Molly's bowl to deal with...I knew our dog was getting enough food and not having to compete for it...I didn't have to fear getting kicked. Feeding Molly was actually quite a peaceful, enjoyable experience!

I'm happy to report that all is well again with the various creatures on Sylvan Drive!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fall from Grace

Remember that nice little calf that belonged to our neighbors and was going to share our pasture with Molly to help keep the grass down this summer? In the beginning, we had such fun watching the two animals meet and get to know each other, and we wondered how they would influence each other. We were thrilled with the arrangement! Well...things have changed...

Sweetie Pie, the calf, is no longer a sweetie pie. In fact, "Stupid Calf" is the name that most readily comes to my mind when I think of her. I know, I know, it's not nice to call anyone "stupid," even a dumb calf. But for goodness' sake, she's not normal!!!

The first indication of her lack of intelligence was her love for a brush pile in the pasture. Even though she would get stuck in it and would need to be rescued, she returned to it over and over. What's that proverb about a dog returning to its vomit?...

But the real problem is this: she loves dog food. She goes crazy over it! Hello, calf, you're a COW. You've got plenty of grass, hay, grain, etc. You don't need to eat dog food. In fact, when you eat it, you're probably eating some of your distant relatives since the dog food we give Molly is not exactly vegetarian dog food.

Obviously, Sweetie Pie doesn't listen to reason.

After a while of feeding Sweetie Pie's addiction, we decided enough was enough; and we were going to try to stop it. So Plan A was to start putting Molly's food in her dog house so she could get to it, but the calf couldn't. Only...well...the calf could...if she tore the dog house into two pieces...which she did. (The dog house is hard, sturdy plastic, with a top piece and a bottom piece that fit together. Usually, it fits very snugly, but not after the calf got through with it.)

Plan B was for Jeff to build a triangular enclosure big enough for Molly's house, food bowl, and water bowl with boards low enough that Molly could get under them to reach her stuff, but the calf couldn't. Only...well...the calf could. Now we figure she's training for the circus as a limbo calf or something cuz she's seeing "how low she can go"!

Plan C was to reinforce the above structure with chicken wire, big stumps, and the big water trough so that, once again, Molly could get through, but the calf couldn't. Only...well...you guessed it. She could, she can, and she does. Jump a stump while ducking under a board--no problem for this calf! Tromp through a water trough--not a big deal! Bend the chicken wire--sure! Just as long as she can eat dog food! Whatever you do, don't get between her and her beloved dog food.

The last straw--and the prompt for this post--was that when I went up to the pasture just a little while ago to feed Molly, I discovered Sweetie Pie hanging around, just waiting for her precious meal of dog food. And Molly's water bowl was all muddied up from Sweetie Pie's clumsy hooves. And I discovered a great big cow patty (that's poop for you non-country folks) in Molly's food bowl. It was disgusting. I may be a country girl, but I'm also a pregnant country girl...and having to clean a cow patty out of my dog's food bowl is not high on my list of desirable activities. Plus, because of the enclosure Jeff made, it is difficult for me to get in to reach the bowls (normally not a problem because we can pour the water and food over the top of the fence). Unlike that silly calf, I'd rather not do the limbo at this stage of life, so the alternative is to go over. But for a pregnant lady to straddle a thin wooden board to get into a small enclosure with a dog and a calf to get a poop-filled bowl...well, it's just not pretty.

The real last straw is that as I was walking away to clean the bowl, fill it, and return it to the ungrateful beast, Sweetie Pie had the nerve to kick at me with her back leg. Now, I'm not an animal psychologist; but to me it seemed very deliberate. Maybe she can sense my growing dislike of her. You think??? Fortunately, Sweetie Pie is still small enough that I'm not scared of her; but a well-placed kick to my abdomen could definitely make me see red and probably try to strangle her with my bare hands.

To be fair, we haven't talked with our neighbors about this; but in the past, they have assured us several times that if the calf got to be a problem, they would take her out of the pasture. I have no doubt that we'll figure out a solution, and our neighbors would bend over backwards to make sure Sweetie Pie wasn't causing problems for us. Jeff and I had thought with his little building project, everything would be fine, so that's why we didn't bring it up to them yet. But obviously, things are not fine.

Something's gotta give!

Monday, July 9, 2007

One More Snip of the Apron Strings

Today was a momentous day for Josiah--his first day of class at a local community college, taking a course in British Literature!

Oh, did I mention it was a course in British Children's Literature (classics like Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, etc.)? And did I mention Josiah is still only 5 and not, in fact, 17? :)

This community college has a fantastic summer program for kids of all ages, with a wide range of topics covered. When I first looked through the booklet for it, I easily found about a half dozen classes that I thought Josiah would enjoy; but we narrowed it down to this one.

It really was a momentous day today, but I think it was probably more significant in my mind than Josiah's. It was the first time that I've left him somewhere for a class...taken him to class, said goodbye, and then...just left! We've done lots of activities together: storytime at the library, soccer games, tennis lessons, music class, etc. And Josiah has been babysat by various people since the early days of his life, and he has also gone to children's ministry classes in various settings. But somehow, today was different from all of that.

Remember the glee I wrote about back in June because I didn't have to send my boy off to school? And remember my absence of tears then? Well, today, I didn't actually shed any tears; but there were some in my heart as I drove away from the college campus. I'm just so proud of that boy! Just so in awe of who he is and how's he developing. So amazed that he came out of my body! How can it be???

Josiah did great, by the way, in his class and was not emotional at all when we said goodbye. This morning when he first woke up, I was in the living room reading my Bible on the couch; and Josiah came over to snuggle a bit as soon as he came downstairs. I asked him how he was feeling, and he said he was a little bit scared. But we talked through that, and I reassured him that it is natural to feel nervous when doing something for the first time. On the way to his class, we prayed in the car; and consequently, it all went very smoothly. Thanks, God; what a blessing!

Jeff wanted to come along to pick up Josiah, so David and I went by the barbershop and got Jeff, then went down to get Josiah. Then to celebrate, we went out for a pizza buffet lunch--delicious!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

How Can It Be Summer without a Sprinkler?

Is there anyone out there who, as a child, never ran through a sprinkler on a hot summer day? Anyone at all??? I don't think it's legal to grow up without this experience! :)

I have great memories of doing this with my brother David...well, all the memories are great except for the one time when I actually stepped on the sprinkler as I ran through the water and cut my foot on a sharp piece of metal. But other than that, it's all good!

Jeff revived those memories tonight when he got out the sprinkler for our boys. David loved the "rain"--or "wain, wain!" as he called it. And Josiah, after his initial hesitation, got very good at running through it.

Ah, sweet summertime!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Boot Boy

David had fun doing the boot scoot boogie last night, using his daddy's boots. Actually, it was more like the boot-shuffle-and-I-hope-I-don't-fall-down boogie. David can say both "boot" and "cowboy," and he was excited to imitate his daddy in this way!

Week 12

As promised, here is the official notification of the first "Wearing of Maternity Clothes"! Wednesday, the 4th, I wore a maternity t-shirt with the word "BABY" on it--in part, because it was red and white (and with my blue jean capris, looked patriotic)--and also because I knew I would be seeing some old friends that may not have heard about my pregnancy and it was an easy way to announce it. Plus, I admit that at this stage of pregnancy, I'd like to wear a sign around my neck saying, "I'm pregnant, not fat"--just in case anyone wonders. :)

For the record, the outfit in the above picture is also maternity. :)

It is a good feeling to have gotten to 12 weeks and supposedly be out of the "danger zone"--although I know there's always "danger," and my friend Ashley who had a recent stillbirth at 20 weeks shows how fragile life is...and how beautiful faith is.

Reading, the New Contact Sport

Long before I had children, I anticipated the day when I would snuggle with them and read books together. This was one of the joys of my childhood, and I looked forward to passing that on to my own offspring.

I did not, however, realize how tightly my boys would like to snuggle with me. With me in the middle, and one of them on each side, I often feel like the jelly must feel in Josiah's sandwich when he picks it up and squeezes it in his sticky hand--quite squished! I can't even imagine how I'll feel when my littlest one grows big enough to take up the space currently occupied by my lungs; I'm not at all sure how I'll even manage to breath then!

Recently David has decided that after a while of sitting next to me and looking at the pictures, he likes to recline. Yep, stretch his legs out, put his feet up, the whole nine yards. He takes up quite a bit of room on the couch when he does that, and yesterday I discovered he was using my shoulder for a footrest. "David, my boy, this is not going to work. Your feet on my shoulder is dangerously close to the feet-in-the-face territory which is not a great idea anytime, but especially when I'm trying to listen to Josiah sound out 'rat' and 'see,' etc. Nope, this isn't flying. Something's gotta give. I can't even get my arm free to turn the page!"

As much as I love to cuddle with them, I will admit to having times when I'd like to move them each about 2 feet away from me. Physical touch is not my primary love language, but I sure get blessed with a lot of it from my boys! (Don't get me wrong--I am crazy about them and their wet kisses and fierce bear hugs--and I already dread the day when they're too big to sit on my lap. But once in a while, I'd just like some space. Is that too much to ask???) :)

Fun Fourth

Our 4th of July celebration began with breakfast out--a rare treat for us, but obviously not a really original thought on this holiday, judging by the number of other people we encountered in the two restaurants we visited (first one was too crowded, so we left). Then we dropped Jeff off to give plasma while the boys and I ran some errands. When we returned, we discovered that it hadn't worked out for him to give plasma after all, so he had been waiting (a long time!) for us to return. It did, however, give him time to read a paper for a university course he's taking! There's no great loss without some small gain!
In the evening, we had the pleasure and privilege of going to the home of some friends of ours for a potluck, outdoor recreation, and a fabulous fireworks display. Edwin's fireworks are legendary; I've literally never seen a private display as fantastic as his! And Mary is the epitome of hospitality. Our family has known theirs for years, and Jeff and I have reaped the benefits of that friendship in some very practical ways. For example, before we got married, Mary hosted a bridal shower for me during which I was LAVISHED with gifts. And Mary, along with a few other friends, was in charge of the reception after our wedding. We are certainly grateful for all their acts of service on our behalf!!!
During the fireworks this year, David sat calmly in my lap and only jerked in fright a few times--a significant improvement over last year when the sight and sound of the fireworks were so terrifying for him that he cried and cried and we had to take refuge in the house! This year, he delighted in telling us what color the fireworks were...or how big they were...or just saying, "Wow!" He was so relaxed as he reclined sideways against my arm that I thought surely if it had been less noisy, he might have fallen asleep. He was definitely a tired boy that night, but what a treat to stay up WAY past his bedtime for such a special celebration!
One thing is for sure--it's much more fun to be in the USA on the 4th of July, rather than in another country!
At our local book fair this past week (which attracts people from all over the East Coast), I bought a book for the boys called Happy Birthday, America; and as we read that together yesterday, I found myself fighting back tears. I am not at all a gung-ho "America-is-always-right" kind of a person. I am, however, extremely grateful to be an American. I am also equally as grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time outside of the U.S. and, consequently, have a broader view of the world than some who never escape the boundaries of this fair land. But, oh, reading that book to my boys sure brought out the emotional side of me. :) I do love my country.
~ the BEST bubble blowers can always be found in this backyard...the sword bubble blower was a big hit this year
~ "wow...fire!...this is cool!...hope I don't get burned" says Mr. Cautious

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Another Tragedy, Another Wake-up Call

Once again, after reading this story, I am filled with unspeakable sadness. It seems that every so often, some tragedy happens that knocks me off my feet for a while. Of course, tragedies happen every day, every hour, every second. But only occasionally do they come so close as to cast noticeable ripples into the smooth pool of my life. This story did that.

I did not know the Showalter family personally, but my dad has been the long-time family doctor (which, in this kind of town, usually equals "friend") of Scott Showalter's parents. In fact, Dad delivered Scott 34 years ago.

These things make this particular tragedy hit my heart deeply:
~ personally knowing dairy farmers and thinking, "It could have happened to any of them"
~ our neighbors and good friends Douglas and Wilma being in the Mennonite community and knowing the Showalters (and their families) personally
~ visualizing the little country lane where Scott's wife's parents live, and imagining their grief at losing a daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchild at the same time
~ having children close in age to the two surviving children in the family, and thinking about how my boys would respond if something were to happen to Jeff and I...the thought of the 6 year-old daughter having to live life with this experience permanently embedded in her mind and heart makes me want to cry

I KNOW that God brings healing...and I know He works all things for good...and I know His ways are higher than our ways...and I know the deep faith and trust of the Mennonites. But seen from our earthly vantage point, it still is so sad.

Last night as I knelt between Josiah and David's beds as I tucked them in for the night, I once again could not believe how overwhelmingly blessed I am. As we named our family members in prayer, the awareness of how quickly life can change and loved ones can be taken made my routine "thank You, God, for Daddy...thank You for Josiah...thank You for David...thank You for our baby...thank You for..." amazingly fervent.

As I continue to remember and pray for the families and friends involved in this situation, I see my gratefulness for the blessings in my life increase. I need wake-up calls like this every so often, but I sure wish it didn't take such a horrible accident to remind me of this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

First Blossom

Remember the magnolia trees Jeff gave me for my birthday this year? Well, wonder of wonders, they didn't die! In fact, all four of them are doing well; and even after a quite severe pruning job a week or so ago by a novice and her mother (consisting of conversations like: "Do you think I should cut this branch off?" "I don't know; what do you think?" "Yeah, I think I should." and thwack, there goes another branch), they seem to be thriving. My dad called me from his office today to let me know that from the window of the office bathroom, there was a fine view of the one magnolia blossom we got this year! I'm sure he's very grateful that the bathroom view was beautified! Anyway, after supper, the boys and I had to take a trip down the hill to see the blossom and take pictures...and then it was off to the fringe trees (my birthday gift from Jeff in 2006) to prune them. After all, if my magnolias didn't die after I pruned them, I must be kind of an expert now, right? With the faithful guidance of my resident gardening expert (my mother, in case anyone needs to be reminded of this) and a little research on the internet, I was all set. At the end of our labor tonight, my mother and I thought the fringe trees looked a lot better. If they survive their surgery and live another year, I'll be grateful!!! :)

Hold My Hand

This morning, my mother graciously agreed to keep the boys for about an hour so I could continue my work of organizing, etc. in their room. This was the scene as Josiah and David walked down the hill together. What could be sweeter?

All about Maternity Clothes

OK, here's the deal...

I love maternity clothes.

It seems to be quite the thing nowadays for pregnant women to bash maternity clothes, complaining about how they can't find anything to wear, there are no fashionable maternity clothes, makers of maternity clothes think all pregnant women should wear big bows and voluminous tents of fabric, etc. I see this all over the place: pregnancy books, magazines, websites, etc. I don't get it. Personally, I think these writers are building up an imaginary enemy so they can shoot them down harder. Know what I mean?


In my opinion, there are TONS of options as far as maternity stuff goes. Just look on the internet. Now whether anyone can actually afford a wardrobe of such maternity clothes is another issue completely! But it seems like no matter what the personal style of the preggo woman, she should be able to find something to fit her tastes. As for me, I'm basically the khakis-and-knit-shirts kind of a woman, so I've got it made.

I was VERY fortunate that I got pregnant for the first time shortly after my niece gave birth, and she was kind enough to give me all her maternity clothes. What a huge gift! Other formerly pregnant friends gave me a few items of clothes, so I really only needed to buy a small number of things. That was fantastic!

After I gave birth to Josiah, I lent my maternity clothes to my sister-in-law who gave birth to her first son 4 months after Josiah was born. She then kindly stored the clothes in her attic while we moved to Israel. On one of our trips to California to visit family, I reclaimed those clothes and took them back with us to Israel, hoping to get pregnant soon. Unbeknownst to me, I was already pregnant (found out a day after we got back to Israel)! So that worked out nicely, to say the least. :)

Now I have all of those clothes, plus a few others that my mom keeps buying for me! If you know my mom, you know that she LOVES thrift stores...and every so often, she'll come in my door, beaming at her good fortune of finding great maternity clothes for very cheap. She loves it; I love it; it's a win-win situation!

I haven't worn any real maternity clothes yet with this pregnancy--I've had the desire to!--but haven't justifiably had the need. I'm actually finding it a whole lot easier this go-around to dress during this time period of there's-no-way-I-can-zip-my-old-jeans-but-my-tummy-doesn't-come-close-to-filling-the-pouch-in-these-maternity-pants phase. This can be quite an awkward phase, and I definitely had those times of "I have nothing to wear!" during my first two pregnancies. But now several factors have helped me out. First of all, when we returned from Israel, we left a lot of our clothes there (couldn't fit them all in the suitcase!), knowing that we would have to buy some here. At that point in time, I had not lost all my baby weight from David's pregnancy so I had to buy some larger things that eventually got too big for me (that's fun!), so I laid them aside "for such a time as this." They are really coming in handy now! Also, I have more pants that have a lower waist, so I can let my baby bump pooch out over the top of the pants and still be reasonably comfortable. Another huge factor is that I'm going through this stage of pregnancy in the summer--that's never happened to me before!--and I'm finding that summer knit dresses are the absolute easiest thing to wear now. I'm especially conscious of the joy of summer dresses because I know that, if all goes as planned, I won't be wearing them very much next summer. Why? Well... Ever tried to nurse a baby when wearing a dress? Yeah. Doesn't work very well. So maybe in two summers from now, I'll be able to wear my dresses again. In the meantime, I'll be very grateful for them and enjoy them now! :)

One more thing about maternity clothes...Israel's fashion for maternity clothes is WAY different than here. Tel Aviv, in particular, is a very modern city with very modern (immodest) fashion--shockingly so--literally. Even after having lived in Southern California, a place not known for it's modesty, we were often appalled by the dress of people in Tel Aviv. That style/fashion/immodesty is reflected in their maternity clothes, too, of course. With my wholesome, country girl style of maternity dress, I stuck out like a sore thumb. And it's not that I really cared what people thought...but I have to admit that I am enjoying the fact that my clothes seem more "normal" here. Take overalls, for example. What pregnant woman doesn't enjoy the comfort that overalls gives? (OK, don't tell me...probably the really stylish ones...but obviously, that's not me.) At our local lawn party recently, I saw a very cute pregnant lady wearing a very cute pair of overalls; she looked adorable! I don't remember ever seeing an Israeli pregnant lady wearing overalls.

To each his own. To each woman, her own style. To each country, its own culture. But I'm glad I'm me, and I'm glad I live here now. (Not that I don't miss Israel, of course...I do in many, many ways. But in this particular aspect, I'm glad to be here.)

When I do wear an item that qualifies as real maternity clothing, I'll be sure to mention it here. I like to keep this blog updated on all the big milestones...you know, positive pregnancy test, first ultrasound, hearing the baby's heartbeat, wearing maternity clothes for the first time...all the major stuff! :)

Week 11

First of all, did I catch you off guard with my new blog look??? I was experimenting with different layouts and thought it would be fun to try something new; after all, it's been 6 whole months of the old template. Yeah, I'm really spontaneous that way. You just never know what radical changes I might make!!! :)

So--obviously--this is a picture of the growing baby bump. I knew that this black dress showed off my bump, but I really had no idea it showed it off this much until I saw this picture. I remember that the wind was blowing from my back when Jeff took this shot...maybe it actually blew my dress out in front, and that's why I look so big???

About an hour before this picture was taken, a lady in the church with which we were fellowshipping that morning actually told me that I wasn't showing at all! Hmm, maybe she needs her eyes checked.