Saturday, September 29, 2007

Josiah in the Jeep

The chocolate-covered strawberries are made for tomorrow...the chicken is in the crockpot...the hymns have been practiced (for my first time leading hymns at our church service tomorrow)...the washer has stopped whirling, and the clothes are ready to be transferred to the dryer...and I have one minute to blog. :)

Here are a couple of pictures from the week. Wednesday was a gorgeous day (as were many of the other days this week)--the perfect kind of day for taking the top off the Jeep and going for a spin--out in the air, wind rushing in your face, voice impossible to hear above the roar of the engine--what could be better? :) That evening, we all piled in the Jeep and had a family picnic outing, then headed to Kline's (our local ice cream place) for some delicious ice cream.

What boy doesn't sit in his daddy's Jeep and long to be the driver??? :)


Strangers

The computer and I have not spent much time together this week. I'm still as fond as ever of the old beast, but recently he's been landing WAY down on the list of priorities. Extra things have crowded in this week--good stuff like a houseful of guests last night for our small group potluck and fellowship time, children's choir rehearsal for Josiah, music class for David, swimming class for Josiah, an appointment with the midwife for me, a planning meeting for a church service for me, etc.--so I have a suitcase still waiting to be unpacked from vacation, laundry in every stage of being done and undone (piles on the laundry room floor, a load in the washer, a load in the dryer, clean clothes upstairs in the laundry basket, clean clothes on the guest bed waiting to be folded, folded clothes waiting to be put away), an ever-increasing stack of papers and books to be gone through and dealt with, and on and on.

Ever felt like you needed a vacation to recover from a vacation? Well, I feel like I need a vacation to recover from the RECOVERY after our vacation. This week of trying to get back into the groove of regular life has worn me out! I'm beat. It won; I lost. All I can do is try to hang on and get a better start on next week.

Anyway, just wanted to post something to say I'm still here in real life, just not in blogland, and everything is fine. Hopefully next week will bring more time for writing...

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Love This Place!

~ here it is, the big, beautiful Cape Hatteras Lighthouse -- tallest lighthouse in the U.S.A. -- photographed hundreds of times by us since every year we go to the Outer Banks, we simply MUST take more pictures of it, as if somehow it looks different each year! -- actually, it was different this year; it stands in a new (to us) location, further away from the sea and much safer than in its previous spot -- the move was made in 1999, if I remember correctly; but since we haven't been there in recent years, it was our first time seeing it in the new place
~ the steps -- 257 of them -- equivalent to a 12-story building...
~ AND I CLIMBED IT!!! -- my big accomplishment of the week was being able to boast that during my 22nd week of pregnancy, I climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse :) -- I really felt good after this climb, until I overheard one of the other tourists saying as he looked over the edge, "it's the first step that's the hardest" -- that image planted itself in my mind; I suddenly felt a little weak and was glad to start down the steps again :)
~ Jeff and Josiah at the top -- it was WINDY up there, and Josiah was enjoying how it felt to have the wind rushing into his mouth -- Josiah was just barely tall enough to be allowed to climb, and he climbed like a champ, going up and down the lighthouse without a word of complaint -- my parents stayed below in the museum and took care of David for us which was a huge help

David's Entertainment in the Minivan

video

This Dr. Seuss book has been well-loved and much-used in our family, beginning with Josiah and now continuing with David. In this video, I think it's funny how David gets a little off-track with his letters, so he has to go back to the beginning and start over again to get it right! Hey, David, you're a second-born; you're not supposed to be a perfectionist, right??? :)

Home Again

After almost every trip we take, I find myself thinking the same thing: it's good to go, and it's good to come back! There truly is no place like home!

Having said that, we had a FANTASTIC time at the beach. This short post is only the tip of the iceberg, of course...and I have scads more pictures and stories to share. But better a little something than nothing at all when it comes to blogging. (By the way, I also have scads of work to do today, just to get things organized and get back into the routine again. I have so much to do that I can hardly figure out where to start! But I did want to post something here...)

~ I love these two pictures of David's young little hand holding my mother's not-s0-young hand as we travelled down the road :)...David got to sit beside Grandma most of the time in the car, as well as most of the meals we ate at the beach house; and he would often stick out his hand and reach for her...so sweet!
~ one of the purchases I had made before we left was a book of mazes for Josiah to work on throughout the week...he was simply engrossed by them as soon as he began, and he actually finished doing the whole book during the first day as we were driving to the beach...the money I spent on that book was undoubtedly worth it for the sake of keeping Josiah entertained during a LONG ride

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And We're Off...

...like a herd of turtles, as my immortal (to me) piano teacher, Mrs. Byler, would say!

After so many days and weeks of anticipation and counting-down, we've finally arrived at the night before vacation! Josiah has been faithfully taking one link off his chain every day, and in the picture below he's holding the final link. He's also proudly displaying a craft he made this afternoon--it's a little fishy, if you ask me! :)

The minivan is mostly packed already, and there are just a few last-minute things to do. All in all, this has been a relatively stress-free packing experience for me. I got out the suitcase early in this week and have been putting things in it as I go along, and that has taken a lot of pressure out of the final day.

I've been reminded again of the division of labor that we have in our family when it comes to preparing for trips: I pack the suitcases, and Jeff packs the minivan. I love this way of doing things! I'm so grateful for the fact that he has the job of figuring out how to fit everything into our vehicle!!!

Changing the subject a bit, the boys and I are getting over our colds; and last night was a MUCH BETTER night of sleep for everyone--hallelujah! :) The new item of concern is that Josiah has developed a rash which showed up for the first time last night, basically was gone by morning, but now this evening has popped up again. We're not really sure what it is; but since we're traveling with a doctor, we feel pretty confident in going ahead and making the trip. :)

Our plan is to leave here at 6:00 am tomorrow. Anybody want to guess how many minutes AFTER that we actually depart??? :)

When Pictures Are Not Enough


I wish these pictures I took this evening accurately conveyed the impression I'm trying to give: the cool, crisp air so characteristic of fall and so welcome after the summer; the blueness of the sky today (in these pictures, the sky looks white, but it really wasn't!); the brilliance of the sun slanting across the freshly-mowed yard this evening; the intensity of green in all the foliage; the blue hue of the mountains in the distance. I often wish I could study photography and improve my skills in this area; but really, I realize that not even the most talented photographer could completely capture the feel of the air tonight and the beauty of the scene.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Night Notes

A little while back, I wrote a post about pregnancy dreams. Then earlier today I wrote notes from the nights and included a disclaimer that I was sure I was forgetting something that I had intended to write. Sure enough...

Two things:

1. a night or two ago (they all blur together recently) I was awakened from yet another dream of having too much to do and not being prepared...it involved having to pick up 8 bushels of peaches and can them (some of them were already going bad because I was so behind with this) as well as 2 gallons of blueberries...plus, there was something else to do with my neighbor--giving her a ride maybe? I don't know, something...plus, there was a phone call involved...I felt so much pressure in this dream, and I knew I would simply not be able to accomplish what I HAD to do

2. last night in the little bit of time that Jeff and I were actually in our own bed in between taking turns being with David, I felt the baby being really active, so I told Jeff about it and he put his hand on my tummy and felt the baby for the first time...that was a special treat in the middle of a tough night :)

OK, I think that's all. Yep, I really think that's all... :)

Fall Decorations

Besides Christmas decorations, my favorite decorations are for fall. I wasn't raised celebrating Halloween, so I skip the jack-o-lanterns and skeletons; but the pumpkins, apples, scarecrows, etc. are my cup of tea!

On Jeff's day off this week, he took the boys for a while and gave me the wonderful gift of time alone at home. I got to clean--really clean--the kitchen/living room, and also got to get out these fun decorations. They're certainly not fancy, but even these simple things are meaningful to me because of all the memories associated with them of where and when I got them, who gave them to me, where I've displayed them, etc. These things aren't things for me; they're love (good sign of a "gifts love language" person which I definitely am!).




For a Good Cause

As many of you know, I am THE WORST when it comes to forwarding emails, even ones for a good cause. Recently however, I received this email; and being a slightly suspicious person when it comes to "press a button and--presto!--money appears!" emails, I researched it. According to snopes.com, it is completely legitimate, and so I thought it worthwhile to put a link here. For what it's worth, an easy way to make a difference...

Here is the text from the email I received:

The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. (I don't think this part is quite accurate, but the point is true.) It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on 'donating a mammogram' for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammograms in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/charity/mammogram.asp

Week 22

~ the casual look -- AKA the "I'm trying to do laundry and pack and get ready for vacation while recovering from a cold" look -- I certainly didn't dress up for this picture, but I did want to get it taken and posted before we leave town since if I don't do it now, I don't know when it will get done!
~ a happy Virginia girl -- you've heard about those proud Southerners? "the South will rise again" type of folks? well, I'm kind of one of them -- not in the political sense (no, we don't fly a Confederate flag at our house!) -- but wow, I sure do love my state!
Pregnancy notes:
* heartburn seems to be the new symptom of the week, afflicting me the past several nights
* the name game continues with no clear solution in sight (18 more weeks to figure this one out!)
* and most importantly, I appreciate so much the comments and emails that I've gotten following my last pregnancy update -- you've made me laugh! -- you've made me think about names I wouldn't have otherwise considered -- and you've helped me realize once again that I'm not alone as you've shared your experiences with me -- the best part of blogging for me, besides the personal record of life that I can hang onto, is becoming part of a community and sharing life together, exchanging everything from recipes to child-naming stories -- I'm blessed to have you in my life!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries


Back on my birthday, my sister-in-law sent me a delicious gift which I enjoyed so much but never considered trying to make myself. I was delighted, however, to read on another blog a few months ago a very simple recipe about how to make chocolate-covered strawberries. I fully intended to make them soon after finding the recipe, but you know how that goes. Time got away from me, and I didn't actually try them until last night. Well, let me tell you, these were a hit!!! Truly easy to make--truly scrumptious to eat!
I changed the recipe a little bit and used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate because I personally prefer semi-sweet over dark; but I am eager to make it again and experiment with different kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate. I also added more shortening than the recipe called for because it didn't seem to get to a good consistency without more butter. One thing I probably should have done differently was to reheat the chocolate mixture after a little while, because the first berries I dipped in it did beautifully, but towards the end, the chocolate wasn't going on the berries very smoothly. In any case, they all tasted great--and they all got eaten! The boys and I finished them off for lunch today, and Josiah was very sad that he couldn't have more.
Thanks, New Mom, for a great addition to our family favorite recipes! And to any of you readers who live nearby, if you come over to our house in the future, you may find yourself being served these! :)

Notes from the Nights

I fully intended to write more last night, but the cries of my younger son from his bed put an end to my blogging. It seems the cold that Josiah and then I picked up has now hit David full force, and last night was a--shall we say?--miserable night. I had utmost sympathy for him because my throat was so sore during the night that if I was a two year-old, I know I would have cried as much as David did...but the fact that I was literally feeling his pain didn't make it easier to relieve it. Poor boy. He was so tired but kept waking up and crying because of his throat, and the medicine I gave him didn't seem to help much. The only thing that comforted him was snuggling next to me (and next to Jeff when my wonderful husband took a turn on David duty) which demanded that I lie on my right side with David against me. Being pregnant and forced to lie on one side all night is less than desirable; but every time I tried to shift in the bed, David woke up and cried. I actually felt fairly calm and patient and compassionate during the night; but this morning has been harder: having a headache, being exhausted, and dealing with two boys who are tired, don't feel well, and are just plain grumpy. I take comfort in the old saying: this too shall pass!

Remember the childhood game musical chairs? It seems that we've been playing a lot of that in our home these days, except instead of chairs that we're switching, it's beds. We're a pretty traditional family. The boys each have a bed which they normally sleep in, and Jeff and I sleep in ours...we're not much into the family bed thing. However, it's been different recently. Two nights ago when I went upstairs, I looked for Josiah and found him in our bed, which is actually not too unusual at this stage of life because as the boys have gotten used to sharing a room, we told Josiah that if David was being too noisy as he falls asleep, Josiah could go to our room and we would take him back to his bed later. So Josiah was in our bed on this particular night, and I looked for David in his bed but couldn't find him. Hmm, where could he be? Oh, there he is...in Josiah's bed...hanging precariously off the edge (David's bed has side rails, but Josiah's doesn't) and looking like he might fall into a big basket of train pieces any minute!

Earlier in the day, Jeff had taken a nap in the boys' room with them so all three were in there...until Josiah woke up crying from his sore throat and I brought him down to the living room couch where he laid for a while, then weakly asked if I could snuggle with him there. Well, what mother can resist that invitation? :)

Then last night, for a while Jeff and Josiah slept in our room, and David and I "slept" (using that term loosely!) in his bed...then Jeff put Josiah back in his own bed, and Jeff took a turn in David's bed (because when Jeff woke up in the night, discovered I wasn't in our bed, and found me in David's bed, he said, "This is not good for your back. Why don't you let me stay with David?" That's true love!) while I slept in my own bed...then I went back to David's bed while Jeff slept in our bed and Josiah stayed in his own bed (and somehow slept through all David's painful whimpers). I'm not sure when we're going to have a night of everybody sleeping in their own bed the whole night through! Well, in any case, I'm grateful for so many comfortable places to lie down and rest! :)

Two nights ago, Josiah got out of bed to get a drink in the bathroom; and as he looked out the bathroom window, he found the Big Dipper in the sky! That was the first time he had ever found it by himself. Know where he learned the most about the Big Dipper? From a Jay Jay the Jet Plane movie we borrowed from the library. I can't even take credit that my excellent homeschooling skills are teaching him the constellations at this young age! :)

Going through the whole bedtime routine of getting the boys in bed and asleep has been a little difficult recently. I am so grateful that on nights when I'm about to lose it, I can say, "Jeff, help!" And he takes over for me. One thing that I realized recently is that I need to find the joy in going through the bedtime routine with the boys. Instead of it being one more task on my to-do list that I need to accomplish so I can cross it off and then get busy with "me time," I need to delight in the moments of reading stories, hearing prayers, singing lullabies, helping David change his clothes, helping them brush their teeth, watching them be silly, etc. Sometimes my fatigue by the end of the day makes me want to rush through it all so I can then collapse, but it seems that the more I push them to go faster, the slower they actually go! If I can change my attitude and approach the going-to-bed routine as a happy part of my day (rather than "well, the boys love these stories, but reading this is the last thing I'd like to be doing now!"), I think things will go much smoother for all of us.

I have the nagging thought in the back of my head that there was more that I wanted to say about nights around here, but I'm so tired I can't think straight right now. Probably as soon as I press "publish post," the thoughts will tumble back into my head and I'll wish I had written about them! :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gorgeous Grapes

As I sit down to begin to blog this evening, I'm sipping fresh grape juice, made only hours ago from our very own home-grown grapes.

Last evening Jeff started the project when he harvested the grapes in the photo above from our grapevine. These are Concord grapes, my very favorite grapes in all the world--such a rich, intense flavor they have!

(As an aside, I remember when we lived in San Diego; and once a year, the grocery stores would stock Concord grapes. Jeff would often buy me some as a special treat. And now--now we have all we want--for free!)

Today--while Josiah and I had Learning Time, while I went to the post office to mail a package, while I napped, while I did laundry and packed for our vacation--my wonderful mother was hard at work, turning these luscious grapes into juice and canning it. I felt bad taking a nap instead of helping her; but she reassured me that I really should sleep, especially because I've caught a little cold (as have Josiah and now David as well) and am trying very hard to recover from it before our vacation!

Not only did she make the juice (which she was doing here in my kitchen because of more room and familiarity with the space--this is, after all, the place where she has canned for 30+ years, so we always do the canning up here), but she also cleaned up the kitchen completely tonight--not just the items she used for canning, but all the rest of the supper dishes that didn't fit in the dishwasher, and anything else she could possibly find to clean.

Am I spoiled or what??? :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Adornment

~ "before" picture of our front door
~ "after" picture of our front door

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Week 21

It occurred to me last night that I had better hurry and get a week 21 picture and update posted before I get to week 22, so last night when the boys and I went into the barbershop to see Jeff before his pottery class, I had Jeff snap a pic of me. On the nights when Jeff has class, he doesn't get home until the boys are in bed (or almost in bed), so it's nice to get a bit of time together before his class, and the boys always love going into the shop.

So what's new this week? More of the same, I guess...names, names, and more names.

It is really funny (not funny exactly, maybe odd? strange?--perhaps in a year, it will be the true definition of "funny" and I'll start laughing about it) to me how difficult the process of picking this name is. I've never been in this situation before, stuck in a quandary about the name of my child. With Josiah, it was easy. Jeff had picked the name long before he met me, so our conversation went a little like this...
Jeff: Will you marry me?
Davene: Yes!
Jeff: Can we name our first son Josiah?
Davene: Sure!

Actually, it was probably more like...
Jeff: I like you. If you like me, let's get to know each other better.
Davene: OK!
Jeff: By the way, I'm planning on naming my first son Josiah so if that's not OK with you, now's the time to let me know that.
Davene: It's a great name! :)

With David, it was almost as easy. I had known "forever" that I liked that name and would love to use it for a son, and Jeff was in agreement. Piece of cake! (Although we did NOT discuss it quite as early in our relationship as we did "Josiah"...) :) But in both situations, we had chosen the name long before we knew it was a boy (or even before we knew I was pregnant), so as soon as we had the ultrasound, we knew his name, I could write it in his baby book, and I could start "calling" him that and thinking of him in terms of a known person. I loved that.

But now, wow, am I ever stumped! One thing is for sure, I'm getting quite good at eliminating names. Someone (usually Jeff or my parents as we sit around the dinner table together) will throw out a name, and I'm skilled at explaining exactly why we cannot use that name. It could be any number of reasons, familiar to all of you, I'm sure...I knew someone with that name that I didn't think highly of, it doesn't go with our last name, it's too common, it's too strange...but usually it's because I just don't LOVE it. For our son, it's simple really--it's got to be a name that I love! :)

It amuses me to go through this process with my parents and see/hear their responses to the various names we discuss. They're getting very good at keeping poker faces and saying things like, "Well, that's...unique!" Dad will often say, "Just make sure it's easy to pronounce and easy to spell," and I'll reply, "Yeah, you really followed that rule when you named ME!" (But I love my "unique" name and wouldn't change it for anything.) :) Mother will say, "Well, every set of parents get their turn at naming their children. We love the names we picked for our children, and now it's your turn to name him whatever you want." And Dad will say, "Whatever you name him, we'll call him that...and we'll love him just the same." Aw, thanks! And then he'll say, "What about the name John?"... :)

I'm considering writing a book, From Asher to Zachary, subtitled All the Really Nice, Truly Good Names for Boys that I Like but Don't Love or that Don't "Work," in my Humble Opinion, with Our Last Name. What do you think? Is that subtitle too long? A little wordy maybe?

All kidding aside, I am preparing a list for Jeff of my favorite boy name for each letter of the alphabet. The goal is for him to see that I'm really not THAT picky, and I'd be happy with any of the 26 names listed. Well, not exactly 26. I couldn't find any for "X" or for "I" or for "F" (probably because of our last name), so that knocks it down to 23. But I still haven't looked up names beginning with "O," "P," "R," "U," "V," or "W" yet, so that number could actually drop even lower. All it takes is one though, right? :)

Jeff is convinced that all the names I like are 2 syllables and end in "N." So he likes to suggest names like "Moleston" (an old family name) that fit the criteria. He's so helpful, don't you think? I think he's on to something though. As I glance over my list now, I see that out of the 18 names on the list (in case you're counting, I have 2 names for "J" so that's why the number is off), 12 of them end in "N"--10 of them are 2 syllables, 1 is 3 syllables, and 1 is 1 syllable. Why that would be the case that I prefer these names this time around is a mystery to me, but I think Jeff is right in his hypothesis. He's a smart guy.

Whenever I consider a name for this little boy, I have two tests that I use to see how they sound. Mentally I picture myself saying, "I need to go upstairs and feed ______ " (fill in the blank), and then I picture our son introducing himself to others when he's older, "Hi, my name is ________ Fisher." If a name "works" in both of those situations, it gets my vote; but if not, too bad, another one eliminated.

I think what's happening in this (seemingly interminable) delay of choosing a name is that I'm waiting for Jeff to find a name and tell me "I really like this name; what do you think of it?" And then I'll say, "Wow, I love it; let's name him that!" Or maybe, "Hmm, that's interesting; let me think about it," and then it will grow on me over time. So...um...no pressure, Jeff, but I'm kinda waiting on you, OK?

And I think that Jeff is probably waiting for God to tell him in a dream what we should name our son. So...um...no pressure, God, but we're kinda waiting on You, OK? :)

I got excited the other night because Jeff sent me this email with possible boy names...

Ardon
The name Ardon is a baby boy name. The name Ardon comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Ardon is: Bronze.

Avniel
The name Avniel is a baby boy name. The name Avniel comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Avniel is: God is my strength.

Gamaliel
The name Gamaliel is a baby boy name. The name Gamaliel comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Gamaliel is: God's reward. Recompense of God. A biblical name adopted by 16th century Puritans. Famous bearers: American president Warren Gamaliel Harding.

Hezron
The name Hezron is a baby boy name. The name Hezron comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Hezron is: Variant of Chetzron: From the walled town.

Raanan

The name Raanan is a baby boy name. The name Raanan comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew The meaning o ... (not sure what happened here, but the text in the email ended abruptly!)

Ruben
The name Ruben is a baby boy name. The name Ruben comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Ruben is: Behold a son.

Tapani
The name Tapani is a baby boy name. The name Tapani comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Tapani is: Victorious.

Tobin
The name Tobin is a baby boy name. The name Tobin comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Tobin is: Goodness of God.

Zephan
The name Zephan is a baby boy name. The name Zephan comes from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Zephan is: Treasured by God.


I thought that because Jeff sent these to me, he REALLY liked them...so after I eliminated a few that I didn't care for or that American speakers would surely mess up the Hebrew pronunciation of (by the way, if we still lived in Israel, there are at least half a dozen boy names that I would love to use there...but they just don't work here in America...transporting names and pronunciations across languages and cultures is something that sometimes works...and sometimes just doesn't work), one popped out to me that I definitely liked and could easily live with. I thought, "Well, that's it. We have our name! Yippee!!!!!!!!" Only to find out the next morning that it wasn't so simple and Jeff didn't REALLY like those names as much as I thought he did...at least, he's not at the point of definitively choosing one yet.

So back to the drawing board we go. Or in my case, back to the two baby name books that I have...to look through the "O," "P," "R," "U," "V," and "W" sections (though I don't have great hopes for the "U" section)...to finish my list...to give to Jeff...so he can decide. :)

The Ants Made Me Do It

Organizing this cupboard was one of those projects that was certainly not on the list for this week. Here we are, less than a week before we leave on vacation, and I can think of plenty of other jobs I could have tackled around here; but for one simple reason, I dropped everything yesterday and went to work on this one.

Ants.

We have been having frequent visits from our resident ant population recently, and I've been trying to figure out their secrets: what do they like best to eat? where do they come from? what kind of poison will kill them best? I tried ant bait traps that I bought at the store; they were supposed to wipe out the entire colony. Yeah, that was a joke. My mother told me about white vinegar; that is supposed to keep them away...so I've been using that daily, and the house smells like a pickle factory. But still the ants march on. I've discovered that we don't have just "sweet" ants or "meat" ants; our ants are attracted to almost anything. A drop of peach juice on the counter? They will find it. Knife in the sink that was used to slice chicken? It will be covered in ants in a short period of time. Tortilla chip crumbs in the scraps container in the sink? They'll be all over it--literally.

In the cupboard that is pictured above, we had stored some candy there. I THOUGHT it was all sealed candy (except for some jelly beans left from Easter which were in an open container, but I noticed they weren't touching them--smart ants). Little did I know that the ants had penetrated the plastic around a lollipop and were evidently making themselves quite at home there.

Yesterday I took everything out of this cupboard, washed the shelf liners, wiped out the shelves with white vinegar (if you come visit us and notice a weird smell in the house, it's probably vinegar!), let it dry, squashed about a zillion ants, replaced the shelf liner, and put the dishes away (in much better order than they had been). Despite the fact that I wasn't planning to do this project anytime soon, it IS a good feeling to have it done. So thank you, ants; I owe it all to you.

Another side benefit of all of this is that my curiosity about ants has grown exponentially--as well as my awe of how God made them. I'm not kidding about this. How in the world do ants find their food? Do they have an extremely good sense of smell? Or do they send out scouts to wander around until they find something, then report back about location? When I see ants traveling in a row to the food and ants traveling in a row away from the food and back, I presume, to their colony, what kind of communication, if any, is going on between the rows of ants? What about when I come along and enact a gigantic massacre of the ants I see; how does that message get communicated back to the rest of them? Do the few that escape return to the colony immediately and give an update? What about when I remove the object of delight that they were getting their food supply from? Can they smell well enough to sense right away that it's gone? Or do they have to crawl out and show up at the scene before they realize that?

One of these days, we'll get some books about ants out of the library and do a little study of them. Until then, I'm left to wonder...how do they do it?

Found!

From talking to other moms and reading other blogs, I know that "discoveries" of this sort are par for the course in many other homes, especially homes in which lots of children dwell together in loving harmony--and mild chaos. :) But in our home with two children (I know, technically three, but the little guy isn't leaving his toys lying around the house yet), we don't usually have toys strewn about in such "interesting" places.

Today however, as I opened this cupboard to pull out plates for lunch, I found Josiah's "man"--a silly (to me) plastic action figure that he got in a McDonald's kids' meal one time. That is precisely the kind of toy I am eager to throw away as soon as I discern that no one is interested in it; but this time, Josiah and David both quickly attached themselves to their "men" and I never had a chance at discarding them. Yet. :)

I don't know how many times in the past few weeks we've had near panic in this household because one or the other of the boys couldn't find their man. The men seem to be needed when we go on trips, when it's naptime, when it's time to take a bath, when it's bedtime, etc.--needed for a short while, then carelessly tossed aside until the next time panic breaks out and suddenly dear Mommy has to drop everything to find the man.

I'm beginning to realize that the boys need to take some responsibility in this area, too! They (especially Josiah) are old enough to keep track of their things; and if Josiah's man is so important to him, he can remember where he is. That's not my job, right? :) Well, we'll see...

In any case, today I was amused to find the man hiding with the plastics. He almost looks like he's trying to escape, don't you think? :)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Grandparents

Happy Grandparents' Day to two very special people that we have the privilege to live beside! Our main reason for returning to Virginia was to be close to these folks--for our sake, for their sake (we're supposed to be taking care of them in their old age, but that doesn't seem to have started yet! when exactly is "old age"???), and for the sake of our children. We've gotta say--we haven't been disappointed one bit by being here. If anything, it's been even better than we imagined; and we are immensely and eternally grateful for the many moments we have together. I know our boys are too young to adequately express this, but they couldn't ask for better grandparents. We are so blessed!

(And a very special Grandparents' Day to Grandma Fisher in California who will be here for a visit in ONE MONTH AND ONE DAY!!! Can you tell we're a little excited around here about that?) ;)

One other thing--as I was explaining Grandparents' Day to Josiah and comparing it to Father's Day, Mother's Day, etc., he asked a perfect natural question: "When is Kids' Day?" He never wants to be left out... :)

These should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. (I Timothy 5:4)

Abundance

~ our neighbors' pumpkins in the early morning sunlight
By the way, Josiah requested that I change my blog to a fall color, so this new background is the result. :)

You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. (Psalm 65:11)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

This and That about Mr. J

~ crafts, crafts, and more crafts -- one thing I can cross off my worry list is that Josiah might possibly be deprived of the kindergarten experience of doing lots of crafts -- between a husband who loves pottery and eagerly shares the experience of working with clay, from molding to glazing to painting to firing, with Josiah...and a son who asks to do crafts every day...and me getting pushed over the hump of being intimidated by--gulp--crafts, somewhere we've crossed the line from reluctantly doing crafts once a week to now doing them on basically a daily basis -- here is the latest example: an Egyptian pyramid (although Josiah's colorful version makes the real ones pale in comparison!) -- in the fall of 2003 when Josiah was just one year old, we had the incredible experience of actually being in Egypt, hosted on a wonderful long weekend by my friend (and Egypt's greatest tour guide) Jackie -- every time I think about pyramids now, a mental picture springs to my mind of Josiah sleeping in the Snugli while we traipsed around in the Egyptian desert, admiring the pyramids and the Sphinx -- what a privileged life we've had!

~ lullaby update: it appears that all that emotion I poured out upon the news that I would no longer be singing Josiah's lullaby was wasted -- Josiah seems to have had a change of heart, and now occasionally asks me to sing him his lullaby -- sometimes he does; sometimes he doesn't; and that's fine with me; the choice is up to him -- but I'm so glad that the end of an era which I envisioned did not possess such finality after all! :)

~ Sunday school: Josiah gets to start going to a new Sunday school class tomorrow morning, and he is THRILLED -- many times today, he has spontaneously exclaimed, "I'm so excited about my new Sunday school class; I can hardly wait!"

~ generosity: one of the things that the children do during the first part of their Sunday school time is to gather with all the children from all the classes to sing a few songs, celebrate birthdays, and take up an offering for a special project -- tonight I told Josiah about the offering and told him that he could decide how much of his money he wanted to give -- I got out his bag holding a few dollar bills and some coins, and he looked through it to see how much he had and how much he should give -- I wondered to myself if he would decide to just give a little bit, or even resist the whole idea of giving, and if so, how I was going to deal with it: convince him to give, command him to give, let him not give? -- imagine my delight when he said, "What is the biggest one in here?" -- I told him the dollar bill was worth the most -- he unhesitatingly pulled one out to give, but then he said, "What if I give two? That would help a lot, wouldn't it?" -- I don't know if you've ever heard the Ray Boltz song, What If I Give All, but Josiah's generous heart reminded me exactly of the boy in that song -- like I always do when I hear it, my eyes teared up -- and I gave Josiah a big hug and kiss and told him that giving $2 would truly be wonderful -- I'm so proud of him I can hardly stand it!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pregnancy Dreams

From all that I hear, it's extremely common for pregnant women to have strange, vivid dreams...or, at least, to remember them more often--probably because we wake up half a dozen times during the night to go to the bathroom so the chances of waking up in the middle of a dream and having the opportunity to remember it improves dramatically!

Off the top of my head, I don't remember any special dreams that I had when I was pregnant with Josiah. But, wow, do I ever remember a lot of dreams from being pregnant with David! I dreamt--repeatedly--about water. I had so many dreams about water that, later on in that pregnancy, I wasn't the least bit surprised when I went to sleep and had another one. So I fully expected to have water dreams during this pregnancy, too.

Not so.

In this pregnancy, I seem to have dreams that center around two themes:
1. fear/conflict/bad guys--i.e. me being shot, people that I'm close to being crucified, etc.
2. being late, unprepared, behind--i.e. running a relay race through a mall and being so far behind everyone else--I must go faster...must go faster...go faster...faster

Not exactly the kind of dreams that make for restful sleep!

Another thing that's frustrating is when I go to bed early (for me), confident that when I wake up in the morning, I will feel rested and have a sunny disposition as I face a new day. And then, the morning comes, and I drag myself out of bed, feeling exhausted--simply exhausted. How did that happen??? I might as well stay up until midnight; at least I get something done in those late night hours.

My fatigue level seems to rely on so many factors, not the total number of hours I spend in bed. Obviously, the number of times I have to get up in the night and the frequency and intensity of my dreams affect it. I also find that my mood/energy level is especially affected by the events of the coming day. Do I feel pressure or stress about anything? Do I feel completely behind in all areas and overwhelmed by the thought of catching up? Do I not even have one area of accomplishment that I can look to for a feeling of satisfaction? Then I'll feel tired. Am I happy about something in the schedule, maybe something that I've been looking forward to? Do I feel relaxed, knowing that no deadlines are pressing? Am I enthusiastic about a project that I plan to begin/continue that day? Those things help me feel cheerful and energetic. Another cause for my sunny or cloudy moods is what kind of interaction I have with Josiah and David first thing in the morning--whether it be a conflict or attitude problem which shows up immediately v. happy voices, smiles, and cuddle time to begin the day. Other things as simple as feeling good about what clothes I'm going to wear or having something delicious to eat for breakfast can affect my mood--and thus, my energy level--so much.

But other days I wake up and have no rational explanation for why I find myself dragging--physically and emotionally--through the day. Sigh... At least I'm enough of an optimist to realize that "this too shall pass" and tomorrow will probably be completely different from today! I can always hope, right?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

To Have the Heart of a Child, Part Two

video

David's prayer a few nights ago...(as best as I can transcribe it) :)

Me: Dear God

David: Dear God, bless Day-dee [David], bless I-yah [Josiah], bless Mommy, bless Daddy, bless--ah, ah--Mama [Grandma], bless Baby, bless Mama [Grandma got double blessed!], bless Bah-paw [Grandpa], bless...

Josiah: Wilma

David: bless Wilma, bless Wani-

Josiah: bless Doug

David: No!

Josiah: hey, hey, don't take a picture of me

David: bless Wanita, I love you, A-

Josiah: MEN!

David: Amen, bless Doug. [laughs, walks towards me, starts to put thumb in mouth]

If this brings a smile to my face, I wonder what kind of a grin God gets when He sees it. How He must laugh sometimes! :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

To Have the Heart of a Child, Part One

video

Josiah has really been enjoying SINGING his prayer to God at night, and it's such a pleasure to hear his words and melody. So creative, so much from the heart. Last night I asked him if I could make a little video of him, and he was willing. In case you can't understand the words, this is what Josiah is saying...

Thank You, God, for all the things that You give me.

Thank You, Lord, for just everything You give me.

But the special things are my friends and family.

I love you, Lord.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Fringe Benefit

One of the many benefits of living next to my parents is their willingness to occasionally babysit. I try very hard not to take advantage of this! I often tell my mom, "What do you think about this or that? Could you help me out? But please tell me no if it doesn't suit you." And then if she says yes, I say, "Are you sure? Because you really don't have to do this!"

Anyway, last evening Jeff had pottery class, and I had an extremely messy counter that I was itching to deal with. So I called my parents to see if they wanted two little boys to keep them company, and sure enough, they did! Josiah and David got to spend an evening watching tennis on TV and playing with tractors...and, oh joy! eating popcorn. And I got time--thinking time when I could mentally concentrate on projects, like lesson plans--to clean and organize this counter. I still need to deal with the things in the basket, but this area is so much better than it was. Last night after I finished, I felt like I had come up for air and could breathe again.

A huge thank you to my incredible parents for this gift of time!!!
~ before - what a mess!
~ after - ah, much better!

Start 'Em Early!

One of David's latest and greatest pastimes is going into our garage and climbing up on our lawnmower to pretend to drive it. He thinks this is so much fun!

Disclaimer #1: I know letting a 2 year-old play on a lawnmower is not highly recommended as far as safety goes, but the lawnmower is not on (and can't be turned on) and we don't leave him unattended to wander around the garage and play with whatever looks fun to him. Plus, we have a doctor on the premises, and he can fix anything, right?

Disclaimer #2: I know our garage is a horrible mess, but I decided to post this picture anyway--it's good for my humility. Anybody want to come help me clean out our garage???

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like...Fall?

Our neighbors experimented with growing pumpkins this year on part of their land; and after months of us seeing the plants grow and hearing about various dangers from pests and weeds and the like and wondering how it would all turn out, the pumpkins are ready now--and have done very well! So now our neighbors have a neat wagon with a very attractive display of pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, etc. out by the road...and LOTS more pumpkins in the field. Some of their pumpkins--the biggest ones--will be sold to a man from a town across the mountain from us who has a pumpkin patch. Our neighbor told me the funniest thing tonight: this man buys pumpkins from the farmers around here, takes them back to his farm, and every night when it's dark, restocks his pumpkin patch with pumpkins from here!!! So every day, new people can come to his patch, have the experience of going out into his field, and "picking their own pumpkin." I had no idea pumpkin patches got re-stocked!

One thing I love about this area--you can set up a roadside stand, leave your produce out there, put a jar for money, and TRUST that people will...a) not steal your produce, b) not steal your money, and c) actually pay for whatever produce they take. What a town! Although in our neighbor's case, since he is a welder, he has welded a nice big, strong money box to the wagon so I don't think anyone could get away with his money no matter what!
~ Josiah and David with the pumpkin wagon in the background
~ I'm not sure what was going on with David here...not his greatest picture...oh, well...Josiah got to help our neighbors with the pumpkins in the background of this picture: washing, drying, and polishing them

Monday, September 3, 2007

Week 20

This picture was taken at Reddish Knob shortly before we left. As Jeff took it, he said, "You won't like this picture because your hair is blowing all over the place." Oh, well, I gave up trying to look picture-perfect to impress the world long ago, and now I just try to be real. :)

A few nights ago, I was writing in my pregnancy journal, trying (in vain) to get caught up completely in it. As I flipped through the pages and saw the pictures from each week, I was so glad that I had decided to take these weekly pics. I'm not even close to being done with this pregnancy yet, but already I love to look back and see how my body has changed...and also remember the different events and places that are reflected in the pictures. Sweet memories!

So...besides getting used to the fact that we're having a boy, this week has been filled with lots of discussion about names. At this stage of the game, our discussions usually end in riotous laughter as we try to out-do each other with absurd names. My latest thrill is reading through an ancient "Bible Names and Their Meanings" book which sat on my parents' bookshelf for many years before they bequeathed it to us. So far, I've gone through A-F, and have found such gems as...
~ Ezion-gaber - which means "backbone of a giant" - from Numbers 33:35
~ Eliel - which means "God is God," a very good meaning - from I Chronicles 5:24 (can you imagine telling someone, "my name is Eliel," and in their head they think, "oh, L-E-L, that's...different")
~ Dodo - which means "loving," another very good meaning - from Judges 10:1
~ Crispus - which means "curly, curled" - from Acts 18:8 - not to be confused with...
~ Blastus - which means "sprout" - from Acts. 12:20 (perfect for boy twins, Blastus & Crispus!)
~ Ahisamach - which means "brother of support, brother has supported," a very nice thought for our third son - from Exodus 31:6

Obviously, I'm not having much success with this book!

Jeff looked a little further to the "H" section and found some...oh, yeah!...real gems. I can't even duplicate the names or his pronunciation, but he had us all in stitches today as we set out on our road trip.

I did see one name in the "A" section that I really like: Asher (which means "happy"). But with our last name, it just doesn't work. Asher Fisher. Nope, not gonna cut it.

One of my latest obsessions is asking everyone who has girls what boy name they would have used if they had had a son. Yesterday, Michelle, a fairly new friend to me, said, "You'll laugh, but we would have called our son "Hunter'." I assured her that I wasn't laughing, that I thought that was a great name, and that we had friends from California who had named their son that. Today as I was remembering that conversation, I thought how funny it would be if we named our son "Hunter." Hunter Fisher. He would be the envy of countless men, I'm sure; but really, we're not that crazy. But if it were a certain friend named Chris whose-last-name-starts-with-M in our shoes, he'd probably go ahead and name his son that. :)

And so, the search continues...

David in the Setting Sun

I'm delighted with these pictures from our trip to Reddish Knob--the way the setting sun reflects on David's face and blond hair, the way he's clutching his chocolate milk possessively, his serious look in the top picture and hint of a smile in the bottom one--most of all, the fact that he's my son. What an undeserved gift from God!


Party All Weekend

Agenda for the weekend:
~ Friday evening: Jeff's family night
~ Saturday evening: family trip in the Jeep (an adventure in and of itself!) to Reddish Knob, a spot high in the mountains that has gorgeous views to both east and west (a first for all of us)
~ Sunday: church service, baptisms, and potluck outdoors at a beautiful church camp
~ Monday: family (including my parents) trip to Meems Bottom Covered Bridge, an old historic but still-used bridge north of here (another first for all of us)

It's been a busy weekend, but very fun. Lots of good family time, outdoor time, picnic time, memory-making time. Not very much cleaning-the-house time or doing-laundry time, but you know, there's always tomorrow! :)
~ "lean on me" - David & Jeff at Reddish Knob - this is one boy who seriously loves his daddy
~ Jeff & Josiah at Reddish Knob - another boy who loves and adores his daddy - it was COLD on top of the mountain, surprisingly so; we took jackets but were still quite chilly - we ate a picnic supper, enjoyed the view, took a few pics, then headed home
~ God's artwork which cannot possibly be improved upon

Sunday, September 2, 2007

First Gift

In Friday's mail, I was shocked to see a very special package for me from my friend Valerie: Baby Brother's first gift, warm little slippers to keep his toes cozy--a perfect gift for our first winter baby! The slippers say, "Thank heaven for little boys." :)

Valerie is such a special person. The daughter of my well-loved kindergarten teacher, she is a homeschooling mom who was highly influential in our decision to homeschool Josiah. She is the kindest of mentors and, if she was a boy, should be named Barnabas because of how encouraging she is!

Thank you, Valerie! I treasure this gift--and even more, I treasure your friendship. I hope to be like you when I grow up! :)