Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lessons in Generosity

One of the traditions we seem to be developing as a family is packing shoeboxes for Samaritan Purse's Christmas outreach every year. The boys and I had fun yesterday going to buy the gifts, and this morning our project was actually packing the boxes. It's been really interesting to see how Josiah and David respond to this. David, of course, is still at the stage of "I see a toy and I want it and I have no concept of children in other countries having far less than I do." But Josiah is "getting it."

One thing we did a few days ago in preparation for this was read the book Miracle in a Shoebox by Franklin Graham. It is one of those books that I can't get through without crying--absolutely cannot do it. I almost didn't want to read the book this time because I knew what was coming--I even know what page is going to make me cry--but I also know that it is a vitally important lesson for my children to learn how blessed we are and how crucial it is for us to do our part to help, though it may seem small. Anyway, while we were reading it, I indeed started crying...turned the page and had no voice to continue reading...Josiah looked at me curiously to figure out why the delay...he saw I was crying and wanted to know if it was happy crying or sad crying...then he helpfully offered to go get a tissue for me, which I gratefully accepted. Finally I choked my way through the rest of the story, then had Josiah take the book over to our neighbors who are also packing shoeboxes for this project. I'm eager to ask Wilma whether she's read the book to her girls and, if so, did she make it through without crying??? :)
~ my good helpers -- I'm proud of them!

View from Our Guest Room

As I carried clean laundry upstairs to fold on our guest room bed (my favorite laundry folding spot), I was struck by this scene. Outside the window is a wonderful maple tree that my parents planted there years ago; and in the fall, the leaves turn a delightful golden color. This picture doesn't do it justice, of course; but from this window, I felt like I was in a delightful treehouse, surrounded by the warmth and glow of golden fall. Such a pleasant, cozy feeling!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Verse of the Day

A verse I discovered today during my morning "snuggle time with God"--in a rocking chair, watching the fire in the woodstove, in the quiet and peace of a still-sleeping house:

Psalm 116:1-2
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

This image of God bending down to listen was so vivid to me because that's exactly what I do as a mother! How many times have I bent down to get on the same level with my children or to hear their quiet voices! Granted, my boys usually speak in loud voices :) -- but when they're feeling timid, afraid, hesitant, sad, emotional, etc. or when they just want to tell me a secret, they speak softly; and I literally have to bend over to hear them. And for sure, whenever we're having a very important conversation, I always try to get on their level so we can look each other in the eye and connect more intimately.

And to think that this is what God does for us!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Week 28

There is not a whole lot to report this week. In this picture, I, accompanied by my faithful sidekicks who dislike being left out of pictures, am in Baby's room, a little room off our master bedroom that was designed specifically (by my parents who designed the house) to be a nursery. It's a wonderful room!

I'm glad the weather is cooler so I can wear my warmer maternity clothes. Although speaking of temperature...I am definitely at the stage of being on a different temperature scale than most others. Last Friday evening when we had people over, I asked my mom shortly before everyone arrived, "Don't you think it's hot in here?" and she said, "No, I think it's a little cool!" Then yesterday in our Sunday school class, I felt like I was having a heatstroke so I was busily fanning myself with the bulletin to keep from being overcome. Funny--no one else was doing that. I guess my little internal heater is doing his job well!

In my pregnancy journal for this week, the question is asked about what I miss most from pre-baby days. I think this week it would be my lap. I have had some gloriously fun snuggle times with the boys recently (reminding me of the quote from Nancy Thayer, "Who is getting more pleasure from this rocking, the baby or me?")--for example, this morning when I was reading my Bible in one of our rocking chairs and watching the fire in our woodstove, Josiah came down and wanted to sit on my lap with Daddy's new blanket from Grandma Fisher around us. We did that; but oh, it wasn't nearly as comfortable as it used to be before I had such a big belly! The boys never complain about it; but when they're trying to snuggle with me or sit on my lap, I find myself constantly shifting my position as if to move the baby out of the way so there's more room for my big boys!

The other thing that stands out in my mind about this week is that I'm realizing anew that I just can't do all the things I used to do! Saturday was a fairly busy day for me--just doing normal stuff though--no weight-lifting or running marathons--simply laundry, housework, etc. But by evening, I was cramping so much that I was seriously concerned about preterm labor. When night rolled around, I thought, "I have so much more that I wanted to get done today, but I just can't. I just have to go to bed, not because I'm so sleepy, but because my body needs a break." Fortunately, a good night's sleep did the trick; and I was feeling back to normal the next day. It can be a little frustrating though to look around at all the things I would like to do--like work in my front flowerbed to prepare it for spring and plant some fall pansies--and realize that I just can't do it all.

I console myself with another quote: this one is by Maria Riva. "I never feel so good as when I'm pregnant. It's the only time a woman can sit still, do nothing at all, and be beautifully productive." :)

"Oh, I Didn't Know THAT!"

Josiah has been singing in the beginners class of the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir for about 6 weeks now, and he loves do does David, who sits on my lap and listens with rapt attention during the whole lesson as he watches the teacher, Mrs. Anderson, and all the students. Before Josiah was old enough to join this choir, he took 3 semesters of Musikgarten classes which were also extremely enjoyable for him. One huge blessing of this area is the incredible preparatory music program at one of our local universities. Anyway...

There was only one problem: Josiah can't carry a tune. At least, not most songs, not very well, not consistently. If I heard him actually singing on pitch, I wondered if it was an accident or to what I could attribute his success.

Even though my background is very musical, I wasn't distressed about what I perceived as Josiah's lack of singing ability because he has plenty of talent in other areas and if music is not his thing, that's totally fine...and even if music is his thing, it might be violin or drums or trumpet, not singing. In any case, I at least wanted to expose him to good music and see what might happen.

I, of course, have not breathed a word of Josiah's inability to him; and I've tried to be extremely careful not to have conversations about this when he is around. From hearing my dad tell a story from his childhood, I know the effect it can have on a child to hear (or overhear), "That child can't sing," (although Dad sang in a choir through college and proved that comment false in his own life). But I really don't want to scar Josiah, and that's one of the reasons I'm writing about this on my blog: so that Jeff and my parents can read this because I haven't even told them what I'm going to write here (couldn't seem to find a time when they were here and we were out of range of Josiah's excellent hearing and his constant question when he thinks he's missing something, "What happened???")...and also so that Josiah won't "hear" about this until he's a mature adult and decides to wade through the swamp of his mother's writing. :) If that's not a crazy long sentence, I don't know what is.


This wasn't supposed to be such a long story, but what I'm coming to is this: last week during one of Josiah's naps, I called his choir teacher, Mrs. Anderson, to ask her opinion of our situation and the potential for Josiah to learn to sing on pitch. Here's what she said...

~ About 40 percent of kindergarten-age children CAN'T match pitch. If those same children receive good musical training, about 95 percent of them, by 5th grade, will be able to match pitch. [I didn't know that.]
~ Singing in tune is a LEARNED behavior, not something you're either born with or without. [Didn't know that either.]
~ While children are still at the stage of not being able to match pitch, kids either a) can't hear that they're singing wrong or b) can't produce the right thing even if they hear the difference.
~ Children need to sing high (G above middle C to C above middle C, or higher) to learn to sing in their head voice rather than chest voice, which means the adults in their life who sing to them should also sing high, and the children's music they listen to should be high as well. Some popular children's music (like Raffi) is actually sung in a range that is difficult for children to sing in. Other music (like Wee Sing) is much better for their voices because the range is more appropriate. [And I can testify to this: I remember vividly Josiah trying to sing along to a CD on the song "Shout to the North and the South" in a range that was horrible for him. His heart was passionate, but his notes were completely off. I realized then that range was important! I also realize I need to sing higher around him. I feel so comfortable in my chest voice that I naturally tend to pitch things low.]
~ One thing I can do to help Josiah develop his ear is actually sing wrong and have him signal me when he hears the mistake.
~ Another thing I can do is say, "Make your voice sound like mine." That is much more positive and encouraging than saying, "You're too high or too low" or "You're not singing the right note," etc.

Even though I have a degree in music, I didn't study voice training at all--how to teach voice--so I feel a little clueless in this area. But I can hardly express how happy I was after the conversation with Mrs. Anderson. She was so sympathetic and soothing, as well as helpful in a practical sense. And I was glad to hear that she didn't think I should yank Josiah out of children's choir because we're just wasting our time. :)

Some of the things she said to me were such a surprise to me--but what a good surprise!

Santa Fe Chicken Soup

As I mentioned in the last post, we've been enjoying some great new recipes that I've gotten from other people's blogs. This particular recipe is from my friend Julie.

Besides the taste of this soup which is fabulous, I also love how extraordinarily easy it is to make. I mean, you just gotta love a recipe that doesn't even make you drain the corn and beans!!!

When I made this two days ago, Jeff was the most complimentary of this soup, probably because it's a bit spicy which suits his taste buds perfectly...although, really, a lot spicy would suit him even better! Following the recipe exactly made the soup a little too spicy for our boys, and almost too spicy for my mother (although I think she overcame her burning tongue to eat it anyway because, after all, you must eat everything on your plate, no matter what!). I don't mean to misrepresent the burning effect of the soup...really, it's not that spicy at all...we just happen to have some very mild tongues around here! :) The next time I make it, I might omit the diced tomatoes & green chilies and simply add more plain diced tomatoes; then we could each add as much "heat" as we want to the soup.

Here are the ingredients...

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 onion, diced
15 ¼ oz. can whole-kernel corn, undrained
24 oz. can pinto beans, undrained
10 oz. can diced tomatoes & green chilies, undrained
14 ½ oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
¼ c. milk

The prep is simple...

Put everything in the crockpot. Cover. Turn on. :) Cook on low 3-4 hours, or until cheese is melted. Try not to let soup boil.

Super easy, super yummy!

A note about my family cookbook: Julie made a comment on the last post about how I'm making this cookbook. For me, it's very simple. I have a 3-ring binder that I'm using to collect the recipes. When I find a new favorite or as I go back and cook old favorites, I try to remember to take a picture of the food so I can include that on my page--it's just more fun to see a picture of the food, I think--although I readily admit I'm not a fancy food stylist or food photographer unfortunately. Then I type out the recipe in a Word document, include the picture, print it out on paper that already has the 3 holes punched in it, and stick it in the notebook...couldn't be easier! But it's not as if I've done a bunch of recipes already; I actually only have 5 in my notebook! It's definitely a little-by-little, step-by-step project for me...and I feel fine with that. Eventually, I want to sort through my loose-leaf recipes which are now in basically 4 collection places, and decide which to keep and then make a page for each recipe to put in this notebook. But no pressure--no stress--it will get done by and by! :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkin Pancakes

I have not posted any recipes for a while on this blog, but I have been enjoying gleaning them from other people's blogs. :)

As the label of this post mentions, I'm compiling a group of recipes into our own family cookbook. I got this idea from another blog, although at the moment I can't remember which one. I think I've actually heard about this idea from several people. It's nice to have a recipe notebook with pages I make myself so I can include not only the recipe, but also a picture of the food and any special memories or other notes about it. My desire is to continue to add to this book; and one day if my children are at all interested in it, I can make a copy of this notebook for them as they leave home so they can know how to make some of the "classics" they grew up with. Anyway, it's a fun project for a woman who thrives on projects and organization! :)

This recipe for pumpkin pancakes came out recently in a small local newspaper we get for free. I saw this in a cook's column in that paper, and debated back and forth mentally about clipping it out and trying it. Finally I thought, "When am I ever going to make pumpkin pancakes?" so to the kindling box for our woodstove this recipe went. Fortunately, before it got cold enough to use that kindling for a fire, along came an evening for which I had no idea what to cook for dinner--one of those evenings when you know that in an hour or two, children and husband will be expecting something to magically show up on the of those evenings which can throw a wife into a panic. :) On this particular evening, I thought, "Well, let me check to see if I have all the ingredients for these pancakes and, if so, I'll make them. After all, it's kind of fun to eat 'breakfast' food for dinner sometimes." Lo and behold, I had all the ingredients, I made these pancakes, and they were a hit. Jeff loves pumpkin pie; and although that pie is not my specialty, I thought he would like these pancakes because of the pumpkin taste. Here is the recipe...

2 c. flour
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
½ t. salt
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t. ginger
¼ t. nutmeg
1 ½ c. milk
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 T. cooking oil

In medium bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add pumpkin, egg, and oil, then add milk gradually, and mix well. Batter will be lumpy. Put a little oil in a nonstick griddle, and heat to medium heat. Pour ¼ c. batter and allow to cook about 2 minutes, turn and cook another 2 minutes.

I also made these pancakes for our fellowship potluck these past Friday, and numerous people commented on how good they were. We eat them with maple syrup or homemade orange sauce (1/2 c. butter, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. orange juice concentrate, mixed together while heating just until it boils). A great fall meal! :)

Scenes from Friday Night

We had a great time at our house on Friday night: gathering with friends (some of whom surprised us by driving in from Kentucky for this event--well, not JUST for this event--but it made us feel special that they made the effort to come!), eating together, celebrating my mother's birthday, singing some "oldies but goodies" hymns, discussing one of Jesus' perplexing parables, fellowshipping. It was so enjoyable and encouraging for me!
~ our friends Steve & Julie -- hey, how did such young-looking parents...
~ get such grown-up kids??? -- here's Caleb...
~ and Shannon
We love this family and always thank God for the blessing of their friendship!
By the way, in that top photo, who are those two lovebirds cuddling in the background??? :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

David Dear

I have been wanting to write a post for a while about this little guy... capture the wonder and magic of this stage of his 2 and 1/2 year-old life. (Warning: this is simply a mother's brag page, an attempt to verbally scrapbook a bit of our family history which may not be interesting to many others. Plus, poop is involved.) :)

David is, without a doubt, a ball of sunshine in our family. He is the comedian, the entertainer, the one who does silly things to make us laugh--and succeeds. He's got a million-watt grin, and the sparkle in his eyes is like the sweetest flash of lightning I've ever seen.

David is also laid-back. He's at that typical toddler stage of "let me do it" v. "help me" (both of which are heard regularly in our home these days); but almost always, when he gets frustrated because of his inability to do something, he doesn't express it with screaming or hitting or tantrums or any kind of huge dramatic expression. Instead, he's fairly calm as he tries again or waits for assistance. And what really amazes me is that when he's talking and he says something that I don't understand, I can say to him, "David, I didn't understand what you said. Can you please say it again or show me what you mean?" And he does that! He can almost always figure out a way to help me figure out what he's talking about, and he does it without undue excitement or negative emotion.

One thing David does that we just adore is that when he cries about something, whether a physical hurt or an emotional moment, as soon as he has recovered from his tears, he will announce cheerfully, "Happy David!" He can go from tears to happiness in less than a second, and he always lets us know when he's over his sadness. We love to hear his "Happy David!" ring out.

Another thing he does that cracks me up is that when I ask him to do something that he doesn't particularly want to do, whether it's carrying his shoes upstairs to put them away or helping his big brother put away clean silverware from the dishwasher, he'll sometimes sigh pitifully and say in a tragic voice, "Hard work." Ah, yes, my boy, it may seem like hard work and you can put a smile on my face by saying that, but guess what? You still have to do your jobs! :)

David still sucks his thumb, which I mentioned when I wrote about his appointment with the dentist. At times, someone will tease him about it and ask him if it tastes like chocolate or like strawberries, etc. He always retorts, "No, milk thumb!"

When we were on a recent trip to Niagara Falls, David asked every day--repeatedly throughout the day--"Home?" in a hopeful, but slightly sad, voice. He has done that at other times, too, when we've been away from home, but certainly not as much as he did on that trip. I think he was very glad to finally get home again! At other times when we're around town and he asks, "Home?" I'll say, "Yes, David, we're going home now." He'll say, "No, BYE, home," if he doesn't want to come home yet. And then we'll say, "Where do you want to go?" And he'll usually say, "Apple house," which we haven't really figured out the meaning of. He does call the post office, "Mail house," but we're not sure if "apple house" refers to an orchard or what--not that he's ever been to an orchard!

"Apple" seems to be his answer when he doesn't know what else to say. I have a habit of smelling the library books I read to the boys because I love the old-book smell (as well as new-books smells, unlike my friend Julie!), and of course Josiah will want to smell it, too. He'll say, "It smells like a book!" And then David will sniff it, and we'll ask him, "What does it smell like?" He'll invariably answer, "Apple!"

Somehow I've developed little rituals with David, verbal games that we must ALWAYS play. Things like...when I help him wash his hands after a meal, he'll say, "Hot one?" and I'll say, "No." And then he'll say, "Cold one?" and I'll say, "Yes." And then if I dry his hands on a white towel, he'll say, "Blue towel, green towel?" And I'll say, "No, they're not here." And he'll say, "White towel?" And I'll say, "Yes."

After endless repetition, things like this can really turn a mother's brain to mush.

Here's another one...after I brush his teeth at bedtime, we'll fill up his cup with water, and he'll point into the cup and say, "Bee?" and I'll say, "No." Then he'll say "Dark?" and I'll say, "Yes," if he's using the dark blue cup. If he's using the yellow cup, I'll say, "No." And then he'll say, "Light?" and I'll say, "Yes." The day cannot end and he cannot be tucked into bed without this ritual!

Obviously, we think David is as sharp as a tack. He's known all the letters of the alphabet since he turned 2, and he likes to spell things. For example, on his placemat (which is a map of the USA), he sees the word Mexico, so I'll hear him saying, "M-e-x-i-c-o." Today he saw a chart with Josiah's name on it; but from his perspective it was backwards, so he said "H-a-i-s-o-j." If I'm wearing a shirt with writing on it, he'll say, "V-i-r-g-i-n-i-a."

He also talks up a storm when he's around familiar people and places (although his Sunday school teachers constantly tell me, "He's so quiet and sweet and obedient!" sweet and obedient, yes, but quiet??? hmm, come over someday to our house and see him as he really is!). The ironic thing about this is that he didn't say much at all until he was very close to his 2nd birthday. He communicated nonverbally, but his actual speech was so delayed that I was seriously considering taking him to a speech therapist. (I'm sure if I had been a firstborn, I would have...but being an easy-going baby of the family, I assured myself that he was probably fine and I therefore felt OK about procrastinating about it!) Right before he turned 2 however, something changed and language started flowing from his lips. (It was also at that time that I started praying specifically and consistently that God would loosen his lips and give him the gift of language.) As I look back at little video clips we took of him before that time, I can hardly believe all the progress he has made since then. It is truly amazing!

I noticed recently when another boy about his age was visiting here that instead of babbling along and saying strings of non-intelligible sounds like many children his age do (in imitation of adult speech which children can't yet match), David is very distinct in what he says. This is not to imply that everyone can understand everything he says because, of course, he still has toddler pronunciation for many things. But in general, his words are said separately. "Let. me. do. it." David seems to have a purpose for what he says and rarely simply babbles...although there are infrequent times when he seems to be saying sounds for the pure joy of saying and hearing them.

His pronunciation is getting better and better, and I'm reminded again of how interesting and miraculous the process of children learning language really is. How they self-correct simply by listening and hearing others speak. How they soak in so much knowledge so naturally, usually without any type of intervention or formal teaching. Incredible! Recent pronunciation improvements include the way he says, "Thomas," "seven," the letter "w," "yellow," etc. I can't even write how he used to say them; but now when he pronounces them, it actually sounds like the real word! Another one is his word for Grandma. He used to call Grandma "Mama" (and I was "Mommy"); but as soon as Grandma Fisher got here, David starting saying "Dam-maw Dish-er" for her, and the "Dam-maw" part got carried over to my mother, too. It's not exactly "Grandma," but it's getting closer!

One thing he still mispronounces and appears to be quite content to continue is his name for Josiah. Despite all my dad's earnest efforts to get David to say, "Jo-si-ah," David persists with his version: "I-yah." I've gotta admit though, I will be a little sad when the day comes that David no longer says, "I-yah." I'll know for sure that my little boy is growing up, and that will be bittersweet.

As far as his own name, David pronounces it "Day-did,"--not exactly correct--but he can spell it! If you ask him, "How do you spell 'David'?" he'll grin and say, "D-a-v-i-d pell [for spell] Day-did!"

And now for the poop... Back in the summer, I had started working with David as far as potty training goes. After a while, I realized I had nothing to show for it except wet spots on the floor, so it was time to put potty training on the shelf for a while and revisit the subject later. That time came this week on Monday, and overall things are going well! He did have a few accidents the first day, but we're taking our time with it and enjoying the night, he sits on the potty and pees and poops into it!!! I can't even tell you how excited this makes me, especially because the memories of how loooooooooong it took Josiah to be convinced to poop in the potty circle in my mind whenever I think of potty training. To have success the first night, well, it hardly seems possible! Today before his nap, David peed and pooped in the potty again; and of course, we always whoop and holler and make a big deal about it and he gets that magical sparkle in his eye and a delighted look on his face. He's a long way from being completely potty-trained; but oh my goodness, I'm overwhelmingly grateful for such a good start!

I remember before David was born, I wondered often how the transition would affect Josiah. Now I'm left wondering how the new baby's birth will affect David. From all that I know of birth order, David is an extremely typical second-born/baby of the family. But I can't help thinking about how he might change as he becomes the middle child. Will the loss of attention be painful for him or actually good for him? Will he become even more outgoing and entertaining or will he withdraw? One thing is for sure: David is used to having a brother since he's never known life without Josiah, so unlike the transition when David was born and Josiah went from only child to older of two children--a potential major earthquake, although Josiah handled it well--David's always had to share me, his daddy, his toys, space, etc. Maybe this will be a piece of cake for him???

To sum up, I cannot imagine life without our darling David. His name means "beloved," and it's appropriate--he is so loved. The joy that he has brought to us is inestimable; and although "You Are My Sunshine" is not his "official" lullaby, the words are certainly appropriate for him...
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Lady, the Occasion, the Celebration

The lady: my mother
The occasion: her 66th birthday (she said I could tell her age, so don't worry, I'm not offending her!)
The celebration: public acknowledgement of her birthday by getting her name put up on this board next to a road that probably thousands of people drive on every day...and a delicious dinner out at an Italian restaurant in town, one in which she had never eaten (celebration to be continued this Friday at our fellowship potluck!)

I'm grateful beyond words that God placed me in this family and gave me this incredible woman to be my mother. As I grow older, my admiration for her increases as I strive to live up to the example she has set in so many areas of life. If I write much more, I'll probably start crying, so...sniff...let me write one interesting thing she's told me about her very early life.

When her mother was pregnant with her, her father was wishing for a curly-haired little girl; and that's exactly what he got! Since my granddad was a farmer, it would have perhaps been more "normal" for him to wish for a son to help him on the farm, but God gave him his curly-haired little girl; and I know that my mother was a delight to her parents--all the days of their lives, I'm sure!

My mother is the firstborn in her family; and wow, is she ever a typical firstborn! When we shake our heads in amusement at Josiah's extreme firstborn behavior, we jokingly accuse my mother of passing those traits to him. All his conscientiousness, perfectionism, desire to please, abhorrence of being out of control, lack of an easy-going "everything will work out somehow" attitude must have been passed down directly from Grandma to Josiah! :)

A very long time ago, I gave my mother a card with a Mary Engelbreit illustration of a mother and daughter and this quote from Abraham Lincoln: "All that I am or hope to be I owe to my mother." I'm sure my mother still has that card somewhere since she never throws away things like that! If I could, I think I would give her that card every year because I find it so true. I simply cannot overestimate the impact she has had on my life.

I know in Proverbs 31, the children of the virtuous woman will rise up and call her blessed...but to tell the truth, I'm the blessed one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Proof of Accomplishment

I forgot to include these pictures in my last post; but here it is: proof that our baby's dresser and armoire is organized and ready for his arrival. Now if it's this neat when he's about 2 months old, that will truly be a miracle!

I love our baby boy clothes so much that I get a smile on my face simply from seeing these photos! So many memories already attached to each item of many more memories to be built in the months ahead...

Week 27

Week 27, if summed up in one word, would be NESTING. All our "big" events are over: out-of-town guests, road trips, etc. And now, I suddenly realize how much I "need" to do--"need" in the sense of "really want to do" since based on my previous experience, I realize how very little a newborn baby really needs (milk, diapers, clothes, a box to sleep in--OK, I'm just kidding about the box--but Josiah really did sleep in a dresser drawer when he was 2 months old and we were staying in a hotel in Israel; that drawer seemed like the safest place in the room for him!) and how very little he notices (he's not a really harsh critic of nursery decorations for the first few months, or even whether his clothes match).

But I guess I feel the need to have the nest in order before he comes because suddenly, I feel intense urgency to organize THE WHOLE HOUSE, top to bottom, in the next 13 weeks. That doesn't seem too ambitious, right? :)

So far I've finished unpacking our baby clothes, sizes newborn to 6 months, and organizing them in his room. Actually, the whole nursery is organized, except for a few boxes of larger size clothes that I need to add to as I sort through David's current wardrobe...which is my next project, already in progress...organizing all of David's and Josiah's clothes, packing away what is too small for them, and bringing out the bigger stuff. Such fun!

It was an eye-opener recently for me to look at some old pictures from the time David was a newborn. In those pics, I saw Josiah wearing the clothes that David currently wears. But in the pics, Josiah was so BIG compared to those BIG clothes are being worn by my little boy. How did that happen??? Do mothers ever get used to seeing their kids grow up?

Speaking of boys' clothes, I absolutely love them. It's true that every time I walk through a store that sells little girls' clothes, I can't help thinking how unutterably sweet the little dresses are...and that someday, I hope to be able to have a good reason for buying some. :) But I tell ya, when I see my little David in blue jeans and his "new" light-up sneakers, I think there couldn't be anything cuter. And when my Josiah wears his khaki pants and new belt just like his daddy, I think he's the handsomest thing around!

So besides sorting through Josiah and David's clothes and getting ready for the new season and organizing the whole house, what else is on my to-do list in preparation for Baby's arrival?
~ learn Baby's lullaby (I know some of the words, but not all of it)
~ buy a breast pump (since the one I used for Josiah got scorched by Israel electrical current even though we were using an adapter, and the one I used for David was purchased in Israel and is built for that current) -- fortunately, the kind I want seems pretty cheap on ebay
~ buy newborn diapers
~ pre-register at the hospital (for which I have an appointment on Nov. 7)
~ take the hospital tour of the birthplace there
Really, that's about all...not too bad. Whenever he comes, we'll be ready. (Though I realize I'm acting as if I'm at week 37, not 27. I know he's not due for several months yet; but like my mother often says, "Always be prepared!")

Although...speaking of his arrival...I'm enjoying this stage so much that I just want to grasp time with my hands and slow it down. I've been reading the blog of a woman pregnant with her 4th child; and I completely understand when she writes that she hasn't been at all eager to have her baby be born yet, because of feeling like she has so much to do and also because of enjoying that stage. Only now that she's gotten to 38 weeks is she starting to feel that eagerness and readiness to be done. I can relate!

In other week 27 news, I had an appointment yesterday with my midwife; and it was the lovely appointment where I had to drink the glucose drink and have my blood tested for diabetes. I've done this glucose test twice before, and I don't remember having as much trouble downing the drink as I did yesterday. For some reason, it was not settling well in my stomach yesterday morning. Fortunately, it didn't come back up; and I was able to go ahead and do the blood test which showed that my blood sugar was 83, well below the 135 limit that they're looking for. Also, my iron was 12 (it needed to be higher than 11), so they were happy with that. In other good news, my blood pressure was 122 over 74, which made me very pleased since that's my normal range. My weight continues to rise a few pounds each time, but so far no one has said it's increasing too much or too quickly. So I'll keep eating my chocolate from Hershey, PA, until someone tells me otherwise. :) I got to see my favorite midwife yesterday, and she asked me whether I'm getting all my holiday planning done early, in case this little guy shows up on the scene before we expect him. Um, what holidays? You mean, I'm supposed to be responsible for all that this year, too??? Well, if anyone is expecting a package of homemade Christmas cookies in the mail from me come December, just go ahead and tell yourself it won't be coming. :) I'm looking forward to simple holidays this year!

One last names... Jeff is favoring a certain one, which will remain unannounced, probably until the baby is actually born and the name is engraved on his birth certificate since Jeff has a habit of changing his mind at the last minute. It never fails: we'll drive into a parking lot and by the way Jeff is driving, I'll "know" which spot he's going to pull into, then he'll suddenly veer to another side and park somewhere else. Or in a restaurant--I'll ask the inevitable question, "What are you ordering?" as if somehow his menu selection will make mine easier (what it actually does is show me how much money he's planning to spend on his because that guides my own decision...I don't want to go all out for the $15 entree if he's going with an $8 salad). :) In any case, Jeff will state what he's planning to order; but invariably when the server comes to take his order, it will be something different that he orders. Ah, my unpredictable husband! :)

So with baby names...I've already learned my lesson that what I thought we had AGREED upon was not an actual well as the lesson that what I thought Jeff REALLY liked was not truly his favorite. Now I find myself in the same boat as all of you: still wondering what the baby's name will really be! :)

Last night as Jeff crawled into bed after giving our Old Order Mennonite neighbor a ride into the hospital where his dad was being treated after falling and getting some serious cuts, Jeff asked me, "How's little _______ (baby's name) doing?" That was the first time he had asked that or used the name in that way, so I think that's a sign that he's decided. But like I said, I'm not placing any bets on it until the big day itself!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

10 Years

10 years ago, I graduated from yesterday, Jeff and I left the boys in the capable hands of their grandparents while we made the trek to Pennsylvania for homecoming and my class reunion. Since we had previously lived too far away to participate in activities like this, yesterday was our first "official" visit back since I graduated--and also, the first time I had seen certain people since graduation.

As always with homecoming, there were various activities to choose from during the course of the day, and it seemed that I got to do everything that I really wanted to do which made for a wonderful day!!!

One funny thing was that when we got to my official class reunion, I looked around and said to Jeff, "I feel like I don't know anybody!" It wasn't until we left there and I went to a concert choir reunion that I really felt like I had come home. :)

We practiced a few songs yesterday afternoon for a short concert, and Jeff got to take advantage of the library to pass the time while I was in rehearsal. He prepared for his Sunday school lesson today, and I filled the musical side of my soul by singing with some truly great singers under the direction of a phenomenal director. It was glorious!

After the concert, we got to talk to one of my favorite professors from all my college years; he was also my piano teacher during college, and he and his wife attended the concert yesterday. It was so much fun to talk with them and get caught up! Lots of old! He was one person that I had not seen since graduation; in fact, I probably haven't communicated with him at all in the past 10 years. But oddly, he had "googled" me one time when he was heading to San Diego for a music conference, thinking that I still lived there...only to discover a letter that I had emailed to friends and family after the shouk bombing incident in Israel (in which divine intervention changed my plans so that I wasn't in the shouk when the bomb went off...but that's another story). That letter went all over the place--literally, all over the world--the power of technology is amazing! But it also served to inform my piano teacher that we were no longer living in San Diego, but had moved to Israel. I guess one of the advantages of having an uncommon name is that I'm easy to find! :)

Our day ended yesterday with a fun dinner with one of my former roommates and her new husband, our first chance to really meet and talk with her hubby. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them--and also thoroughly approve of the match. Whew, I'm sure my roomie is relieved by that! :)
~ by the lovely Yellow Breeches River
~ with our "famous" covered bridge in the background
~ having a great time!
By the way, I appreciated so much the comments from my last post about computer frustration. I would say thanks for the help...but it was more sympathy than real help I got! :) Anyway, at least we all are in the same boat. Maybe one of these days I'll figure it out, but until then I'll try to suppress the perfectionist side of me enough to ignore how these posts look!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sometimes It Drives Me Crazy

I am not a computer whiz.

Whenever I have questions about using the computer or doing this blog, I always call on my resident computer expert: Jeff. It's a good thing he has a bachelor's degree in computer information systems! :)

But now...I'm puzzled...and have been for a while. Blogger is driving me a bit crazy with the way it formats my posts. When I type it, it looks nice and neat with paragraph breaks, etc. But when I post it, all that disappears and suddenly things are scrunched together. Argh!!!

Has anybody else had this problem? And if so, have you figured out how to fix it?

It seems to occur when I have more than one picture in a post; but no matter what I do to format the post, it seems to revert to Blogger's format every time.

I think computers really do have a mind of their own...but I sure would love to hear anybody's ideas for how to change this.

Change of Seasons

The leaves are just beginning to really change color around here. I was hoping they would have been more splendid when Jeff's mom was here, but I'm discovering that it's very difficult to predict when out-of-towners should visit during the fall based on the peak of color. Sometimes you hit it right, and sometimes you don't! There are some pictures below to show the current status of our trees...
The boys and I had to run a few errands this morning, and we drove home the back way--a favorite drive of mine. We saw some absolutely brilliant trees while driving, but of course I couldn't capture them with my camera. I took heart pictures...too bad you can't see them! :)
Fall is my second favorite season of the year (can you guess my first favorite?); and besides the changing leaves, I've been enjoying other changes as well. For one thing, I got to light the first fire in our woodstove the night we got home from NY and PA. The temperature in our house upon our arrival was 64 degrees, prompting Jeff to exclaim, "It feels good in here!" and me to request, "Is it OK with you if I just have a little fire, please?" :) Despite my current internal heater, I did feel a bit chilled at 64 degrees! Plus, it's just so much fun to have a fire in the stove. I guess my mother's genes are coming out in me in this area. Her biggest complaint (if she let herself complain, which she doesn't) about living in their current home is that she doesn't have enough storage space--a significant issue, for sure. But her second biggest complaint is that it doesn't have a woodstove!!! Last winter, she would sneak up here often and say merrily, "Would you like me to build up your fire for you?" :)
Another change of the seasons is clothing; and I've begun the thoroughly enjoyable project of sorting through the boys' clothes, packing away what they've outgrown, getting out bigger sizes, etc. I'm as happy as a clam whenever I do this project! I love holding their clothes and being flooded with memories of when and where they wore them; the hand-me-down clothes are especially fun because I can sigh and think as I look at a size 2 shirt, "I can't believe Josiah could fit in this! I remember that he wore this when he came to visit me in the hospital after David's birth." And on and on the memories come...
Besides clothing, I've also had to think about shoes for the boys. Josiah has either gone barefoot or lived in sandals this whole summer--so has David, for that matter--but last Sunday morning was chilly enough that I thought I might be reported to the authorities if I let them out of the house without socks and real shoes. So I pulled out a pair of lace-up shoes and set to work trying to get them on Josiah's feet. What frustration! They were so difficult to get on--so much so that when Josiah took his shoes off during the church service and then had to be helped with them at the end to coax them back on his feet, I made Jeff do it because I wasn't sure I could do it with a good attitude. :) Well, well...later on when I measured Josiah's feet, I realized that he needs size 12 shoes. No wonder his size 10 and 1/2 shoes were not going on his feet easily! So Monday morning we set off for the shoe department of Walmart. :)
Of course, David's feet have grown, too; and now he needs size 8 shoes. That problem was easy though. We went "shopping" in the top of the boys' closet where I had put Josiah's old shoes, and we found a great pair of black casual shoes, some cowboy boots, and the best part--a pair of tennis shoes that LIGHT UP--for David. He's thrilled, and loves doing his little "Happy Feet" impression that makes all the lights go on in his shoes. I'm thrilled that it didn't cost a penny!
Here's another change: a very welcome one, but one that has nothing to do with fall. Remember when I wrote about my frustration with buckling carseats? Would you believe, Josiah has since learned to completely buckle and unbuckle himself in the car! I can hardly express how happy I am about this!!!!! It's a small thing, I know; but the amount of difference it makes in my attitude is anything but small. I am extremely grateful for this change! :)
Other random notes from this past week that are all falling into this post:
~ My favorite cereal is Blueberry Morning. Since we have been back from Israel, the company has apparently discontinued it because we have not been able to find it anywhere. (This always seems to happen to my favorite food and drink items!) On Wednesday, Jeff went to a discount/seconds store that carries a little bit of everything, including grocery items...and, well, you can guess what he found there. That's right, Blueberry Morning cereal! He bought four boxes for me, and I (and Josiah) have been happily eating it ever since! :)
I first started eating Blueberry Morning cereal when I was in college, and I have vivid memories from my sophomore year of eating bowl after bowl of it. That year I lived in a traditional dorm room so I didn't have a kitchen, but I did have a small refrigerator in my room and could keep some milk in it. I would come home late from the music building where I had been roommate would already be in bed, and I couldn't have much light or noise or it would bother her...I would turn on the lamp at my desk and sit down to study there, after pouring myself a bowl of Blueberry Morning with milk on it...I would hunch over the desk with my books and cereal with my headphones in my ears and Israeli music in my CD player, and study until exhaustion drove me to bed. Even now as soon as I open the box of cereal, I can smell the blueberries and it takes me back to that year of college.
My other memory of Blueberry Morning cereal is opening care packages from my parents when we lived in Israel and finding boxes of Blueberry Morning tucked inside! Now that I'm more aware of the cost of shipping, I realize that those were some expensive boxes of cereal!!! But I know that my parents' love prompted them to provide a little extra goody for us when they knew we couldn't buy it in Israel. Parents never stop giving.
~ One historic occasion of this week was David's first visit to the dentist. We are privileged to be able to take our boys to Dr. Greene, who happens to be the children's dentist that I went to as a girl. That must mean he's getting up in years; but even though his hair is silver, his face looks as young as ever. He is so good with children, and his staff is incredible. Because this was David's first visit, the nurse took extra time with him and showed him all the buttons for the water that gets squirted in his mouth, Mr. Slurpy who comes and sucks it up, the magic chair that goes up and down, etc. She let David push the actual buttons and explore everything before she even started checking his teeth. I remember well how much Josiah cried and cried during his first visit to the dentist, so I thought we might have a repeat of that. But no, David did FANTASTIC! I had tried to prepare him and had coached him about opening his mouth wide, saying "Aaa," etc. It seemed to pay off because he cooperated and did so well that even Dr. Greene commented, "This isn't normal!" :)
My big question for Dr. Greene was whether David could still suck his thumb or whether we had to kill that habit now because of damage to his teeth. The answer was a gracious one: "David is not hurting his teeth by sucking his thumb so he can continue for now and be gradually weaned off it in the next few years!" Yippee! I was not looking forward to fighting that battle now, so was very glad for an easy answer. :)
One more thing about Dr. Greene: during one of Josiah's early visits to him after we moved here, Dr. Greene was wearing green it was easy for Josiah to picture him as Dr. Greene. The next time, however, he was wearing blue scrubs, so on our way home, the boys kept calling him, "Dr. Blue," and couldn't understand that he was still Dr. Greene! During David's appointment on Wednesday, Dr. Greene was wearing green scrubs again, so that made it nice and easy for David to call him by the right name. :)
Now for the tree pics...
~ one of our October Glory maple trees, just starting to show its "glory"
~ the red of our October Glory tree, with the orange of one of our neighbors' trees, with lots of green still mixed in
~ David with an October Glory leaf

Thursday, October 18, 2007

13 Lessons I Learned on Our Trip

1. Watching Josiah and David run to greet Grandma Fisher at the airport and smother her with hugs and kisses never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
I expected Josiah to joyfully and affectionately greet her when we picked her up, but I wasn't sure if David remembered her enough to do the same. Apparently, he did! I always hang back a little bit and enjoy the reunion as the boys greet her, then Jeff hugs her, and then it's my turn...and usually by then, I've blinked away my tears and can act like everything is normal. :)

2. If you're trying to avoid sickness, traveling doesn't help.
Before our trip, both Josiah and David had been bothered by sniffles and coughs; but I had managed to avoid it and stay healthy. However, something about traveling to different climates, being in the same minivan with sick people for hours on end, sleeping less than usual, and not taking enough vitamins all combines to ensure that everyone gets sick. We're a sharing bunch around here!

3. Riding in a car for 6 or 7 hours straight (with one 10 minute break in the middle) is not exactly conducive to pregnancy comfort.
That's what we did last Thursday on our way from my brother's home in Pennsylvania to Niagara Falls. And, well, there's not much more to say about that...

4. The vast majority of New York state is NOTHING like New York City.
This was the big eye-opener for my mother-in-law on this trip. As we traveled through hours and hours (and hours and hours) of beautiful, rolling hills, and fertile farmlands, with very few occupants and even fewer Taco Bells, she could hardly believe we were actually in New York. It was fun to show her on the map how big the state of New York is and how small NYC is. Although to judge from the media's portrayal and the world's perception, NYC is all there really is in that state. Kind of like all of California is Los Angeles, right? Oh, you mean, it's not???

5. The Canadian side truly is better.
Everyone that we talked to that had previously been to Niagara Falls spoke passionately about the fact that you've got to go into Canada and view it from that side because it's SO MUCH BETTER. Well, they're right. Our hotel was in Canada; and we stayed on the 22nd floor and had a mind-boggling view of the falls--much better than we could have had on the American side. Before we got there, I didn't understand how it could make that much difference which side of the Falls you stood on...but because of the geography, it really does. See pics below...
~ view from our hotel room
~ also from the Canadian side
6. It's always nice to see familiar faces.
We were fortunate to be able to stay with my brother and his family for two nights of our trip, the night after Jeff's mom arrived and the night we were heading south to Virginia. It's so much nicer to stay in a home with friends or relatives, rather than just a hotel room somewhere. We enjoyed very much their warm hospitality, and the boys loved time with their cousins. They just can't get enough of it!
The other familiar faces we saw on our trip were our good friends Tim and Jeanne from San Diego who "happened" to be vacationing in New York while we were. Despite a little miscommunication about where we were actually staying (I'm still sorry, Tim!), they managed to find us; and what fun it was to see their shining faces walking towards us in our hotel. Although our time together went too fast, it was delightful to see the Falls with them and be able to catch up a little in person. They are faithful friends, and we are very grateful for them!
7. Sometimes little splurges are good.
The night we stayed in Canada, I was craving a mint hot chocolate from Starbucks (there was one in the lobby of our hotel), but I knew it was really not worth the money to buy one since EVERYTHING in that area of town seemed outrageously expensive. I told Jeff about my craving, but also told him that I didn't really NEED one and it was OK if I didn't have one. Still...I was thrilled when he walked in later that evening carrying one for me. The drink warmed my body, and the love warmed my soul.
8. There's at least one good restaurant in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, if you look long enough.
Trust me on this one: thanks to Jeff's insistence that he wanted to sit down and eat in a real restaurant, we got to drive down nearly every street in the city, I believe; but after our long search, we finally found a delicious restaurant--Italian, my favorite. And it was worth the wait. But I've forgotten the name of it, and I hope no one asks me exactly where it is because I'm sure I could never find it again!
9. Grandma is more successful than Mommy at feeding David.
When David is having a hard time eating, whether because he's distracted or he doesn't like the food he's been given, Grandma simply turns on the charm and plays all kinds of games to get the food in his mouth, the most popular game being "your food will magically become one of the characters from Thomas the Train and will drive into your mouth!" I have no success with that game, probably because my attitude is much more practical: "here's your food; now eat it." But Grandma's talent came in handy on our trip!
10. It's impossible to get out of Hershey's Chocolate World without buying chocolate.
The smell of cocoa that they blow in your face at the end of the tour does nothing to help you resist temptation, and the tiny little free bag of chocolate they give you as you finish the ride only increases your greedy appetite. (Although I was so fortunate as to be given two bags: one for me and one for baby. Ah, yes, it's nice to be pregnant!) After wandering through the factory store, we came away with $40 of chocolate. Yikes! What in the world do we need $40 of chocolate for???

11. If you're going to sleep in the minivan at all during the trip, it's got to be when the boys are sleeping.

Jeff had done all the driving on the trip, so for the last leg of the journey, I thought I'd be a nice girl and offer to drive so he could rest. The only problem was that the boys just happened to be waking up from their naps, and they found it impossible to pass the final hour and a half of our trip in peaceful, quiet, unassisted play. Poor Jeff! I know how frustrating that can be. Fortunately, he was a good sport about it and we made it home in one piece. Next time I'll try to time my offer of help better so it actually is a useful thing!

12. Molly, our dog, ALWAYS gets out of the pasture when we're gone.

This time was no exception. Not only did Molly get out, a dog belonging to our neighbor a few houses up the road also got out; and he apparently decided to be the official greeter for my dad's office for the day. He even got into some people's cars as if he intended to go home with them. What friendliness!

Since chasing dogs is fairly low on my mother's preferred list of exercise, I know she was somewhat less-than-thrilled about all this commotion. Somehow Molly must sense when we're gone, because that's always the time she picks to make her escape.

13. Last, but not's good to be home!

There is simply no place like bed like our water like home like this one. It's wonderful to go away on various adventures; but oh, how sweet, to come home at the end!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Week 26

The biggest highlight of this week of pregnancy was, of course, our trip to the North and the special moments that come from having Jeff's mother visit.
One day we were sitting at breakfast in our hotel dining room which, just like our room there, had a gorgeous view of the Falls; and baby boy #3 was jumping around like a crazy jumping bean. Jeff was sitting beside me and got to feel the vigorous movements, the most he has felt during this pregnancy. Usually when he puts his hand on my stomach, Baby quiets down immediately. We're hoping Jeff's hand continues to have that effect AFTER Baby is born! :) Anyway, it was fun to have Jeff experience some of the acrobatics our little guy is capable of.
The night before we came home, we stayed with my brother and his family in Pennsylvania; and in the middle of the night, I awoke with a strong "cramp," as I described it to Jeff at the time. The next morning, I used the word "contraction" when referring to it; and he said, "You said it was a CRAMP."'s all really the same thing! Fortunately, I didn't have any more so there was no concern about pre-term labor; but man, oh man, it hurt--bad enough to make me rethink my desire for natural childbirth! :) I'm such a wimp--one bad contraction, and I'm ready for an epidural. That's why my birth plan is simple: stay at home as long as possible until I'm nearly full dilated (without mentioning to my parents that I'm actually in labor because they'll MAKE me go to the hospital!) up at the hospital and hopefully begin pushing soon after...throw myself into the arms and advice of the midwife and Jeff and do exactly what they tell me so I can survive because I know that at that stage, I'll be thinking (and probably saying), "I can't do this! I'm gonna die! In fact, let me die!" :) This was pretty much what happened during my labor with David...
My birth plan with Josiah was much more elaborate: I wanted to listen to my own music (CDs I had carefully selected weeks in advance), use a birthing ball, walk around as long as possible, avoid an episiotomy, have my back massaged with a wooden thing-y we brought, etc. As it turned out, almost all the items I thought I would use never even made it into the hospital from the car...and after I got all checked in to the hospital and decked out in regal hospital apparel, I tried to walk and barely made it to the doorway of my room before I decided I'd had enough. The thing that REALLY worked for me was a rocking chair; but when pushing was prolonged (and the epidural I had gotten at 9 and 1/2 centimeters dilated wore off), I was ready for them to cut me open any way they needed to: episiotomy, C-section, anything...and when time came for delivery and the doctor hadn't shown up, I was ready for the nurse--or Jeff--or the janitor--or the parking attendant--to catch the baby. The birth plan definitely went out the window! :)
On a more serious note, I'm really hitting the stage of pregnancy where I feel slightly selfish: completely enjoying the fact that I, and no other, have the privilege of carrying this child, feeling his movements, being his source of nourishment, having my entire being linked with his so literally that nothing divides us. I know after the birth, that will change...and I'll actually be glad that it changes! "Here, YOU take the baby and change his diaper. YOU soothe him when he awakes at night. YOU feed him this bottle of pumped milk." But for now, he's mine. And although I rejoice that Jeff is so involved and gets to feel Baby's movements, I also relish the fact that this Baby is MINE. I'm so enjoying this time that I feel like it's moving much too fast, and I wish I had more than three months left of this pregnancy. I'm not eager for Baby to be born because I don't want to lose that closeness. Around the beginning of January, you may politely remind me of this blog entry--and hide your grins, please, as I tell you then how I can't wait for labor to begin because I'm sick and tired of being pregnant. :) But for this stage, I'm eating it up...loving life...loving being a pregnant woman...loving my precious little son.
~ the skinny pic (in our hotel room at Niagara Falls)
~ the--what shall we say?--not-so-skinny pic! (a few feet from Niagara Falls) was unfair of me to post a picture yesterday of my mother-in-law in her raincoat at the Falls, and not similarly share one of myself :)...I really think I look like an elephant in this pic! :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Home Again - Again!

It seems like such a short time ago that I was writing about getting back from our trip to the beach and trying to get caught up, etc. And now--here I am again--getting back from a trip, trying to get caught up, not having enough time for everything, etc. This feels so familiar! :)

I'm optimistic that in the next few days I'll have time to write more, but for now here are a few pics to show what we've been up to...
~ soaking in the view from our hotel room at Niagara Falls
~ eating chocolate in Hershey, PA
~ and most of all, relishing the time we have with this special lady--doesn't Jeff's mom look splendid in her designer Niagara Falls rainwear? :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Week 25

I had another picture in mind for this week 25 post; but when I saw this one, it made me laugh so much that I had to use it! How far along does Josiah look in his pregnancy? Honestly, all I see are his poky little ribs sticking out! :) Does he really think I'm TRYING to stick my tummy out this far? Does he think I could possibly hold it in if I tried? :)

In the good news department, my dad checked my blood pressure last night, and it was down to 120 over 60. I am very grateful for that.

In the embarrassing news department, I had taken a nap one day on the couch, and Josiah had come down after his nap and got on the couch to snuggle with me for a few minutes. Suddenly, the phone rang, and I tried to get up to answer it. I tried...and I tried...but I had such a crick in my back that I literally could not get up until long after the phone had stopped ringing. I wasn't thrilled that my son saw me lying there like a beached whale, moving at a snail's pace in my useless attempt to get up quickly. My pride took another hit...and he got another lesson in the reality of having a pregnant mama!

Relief Sale

Our local Mennonites held their annual relief sale on Saturday to raise money for various service projects around the world. We had given the Lowerys lots of choices about what we could do that day; and they chose to go to this which, when combined with driving home from the sale "the back way" (through Mennonite farm country) definitely gave them a feel for a unique aspect of our local culture! Well, that, and spending time with our next-door neighbors who are Old Order Mennonites...and passing horses & buggies while driving Sunday all combined to show them a slice of our life. And you know what else? It made me think (for the bazillionth time), "I'm so glad I live here!"
~ you can't go to the relief sale and not eat freshly-made doughnuts--you just can't do it!
~ cutest little kitty cat ever
~ Josiah chose a rainbow for his cheek (which was interesting because the very next night as I drove to a nearby farm to get milk, I saw a rainbow in the sky, which is not tremendously common around here) -- if I remember correctly, this was the very first time I had ever let the boys get their faces painted --oh, well, it was for a good cause, I thought...and they sure loved it :)

Trains and Trampoline

Two of the ways the Lowery and Fisher kids had fun this weekend...

Sometimes I regret the fact that our current decorating style seems to be "Kid Stuff," but it sure didn't bother our guests that a prominent piece of furniture in our living room was a train table! :)

Lovely Lowerys

I'm not sure about the Lowerys, but I know each member of the Fisher family thoroughly enjoyed this weekend of having them as guests in our home! :)

We knew them in California (although they live in North Carolina now), but it must have been about 5 years since we last saw them. Jeff was actually one of the preachers who performed their wedding ceremony, and we spent a lot of fun time with them in the beginning of their marriage. And now look at them--what a great family!

A couple of things stood out to me over the weekend:
1. our children really played well together--I was honestly amazed that we adults could sit and talk and not have to get involved with childish disputes very often at all--our boys had a great time with new friends, and we had a great time with old friends :)
2. the Lowery children sat and ate all the food on their plates without complaining, definitely evidence of good parental training--and it wasn't as if I served mac & cheese and hot dogs either--even unfamiliar foods were eaten well by the children--I was impressed!

(By the way, Jeff recently found the biblical precedent for requiring children to eat all the food on their plate, even when they're not in their own home. It's found in the instructions Jesus gave to His disciples when He sent them out. Luke 10:7-8, "Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you...When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you." I freely admit that we are not where I want to be in regards to our own children having great attitudes about eating whatever is set before them, whether in our own home or outside of it! But we're working on it...) :)

Little Fish #1

Josiah has started taking swimming lessons--once a week on Saturday mornings for half an hour at our community swimming pool (which has a "bubble" over it to make it functional in the fall/winter). Despite him looking somewhat less-than-overjoyed in these pictures, he is actually having a great time with his lessons! The first week there were two other children besides Josiah in the class, and last week there was only one other boy Josiah is getting lots of personal attention from the teacher! I really hope Josiah takes after his daddy--who is an excellent swimmer--and not me--who loves the water but would drown very quickly if left in deep water for longer than a minute or two. :) The swimming lessons I had as a child didn't "take," probably because of my fear of having my head beneath the water. I no longer have that fear, so maybe someday, I'll take swimming lessons again...and have more success this time! But that's one of those far-off dreams that now takes a backseat to watching my children fulfill dreams. :)

A Different Kind of Day

Since Jeff's mother is coming to visit in two days and we'll be out of town doing some traveling with her, we're not "officially" doing homeschool this week. But this morning--rather than doing nothing--we had a fun time doing some extras: reading a book about Christopher Columbus in honor of Columbus Day (and talking about how on Columbus Day 6 years ago, Jeff and I made an amazing discovery of our own--that was the day we first learned I was pregnant with Josiah!!!), reading three chapters from Jeremy: The Tale of an Honest Bunny by Jan Karon, using a LeapPad phonics book (Tad Can Tap) for Josiah to practice his reading, Josiah doing 4 mazes, and beginning a new prayer journal for Josiah to practice his writing.

I don't remember who said this or when I first heard it, but a bit of wisdom that has stuck with me for a number of years is that a simple way of helping your children's' faith to grow is to let/help them keep a prayer journal. As they bring their requests to God and see Him answer, their faith (and their parents' faith!) grows as a result. Recently in various situations, Josiah has said to me, "We should pray about that, Mommy." So the lights went on in my head, and I realized that he's old enough to have his own prayer journal. It's not something that I feel any compulsion to have him write in every day--just when a certain prayer request comes from his heart.

Last week, we were talking about premature babies and the right length of time for babies to be inside their mommy before they're born, etc...and Josiah wanted us to pray about our baby not being born too early. So his first entry in his prayer journal says "For Baby to come out at the right time."
The second entry was this morning when Josiah was going to watch a movie (All about Cowboys for Kids--borrowed from the library--and successful in inspiring Josiah to want to be a cowboy when he grows up!); but our DVD player (part of our computer) is unreliable, to say the least. So we prayed about it, and it worked fine. Josiah wrote in his prayer journal "For the DVD player to work" and then "A: [for answer] Yes, it did!"
The last activity of the morning occurred after Grandma showed up and swooped the boys off to "help" her hang up laundry, which then turned into picking up acorns. In the picture below, Josiah is holding something that isn't a gun, but probably looks enough like a gun to make his little boy heart happy. :) It's actually a pick-up stick that my mom uses to pick up things off the ground while still saving her back. Josiah thinks it's such fun to use it!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

As If

I thought life would slow down a little after we returned from vacation...AS IF life ever seems to slow down!

But now, if anything, the next few weeks will be even more packed with activity...AS IF life could possibly get any busier!

Tomorrow we have some friends coming to spend the weekend with us. They live in North Carolina now, but we know them from California and haven't seen them in years. We're so excited about their visit (even Josiah, who doesn't even remember them a bit)! :) A few days after they leave, Jeff's mom comes to spend a week with us, and we take off for Pennsylvania and New York where we will get to see Niagara Falls and spend some time with more friends who are from California but who happen to be visiting family in New York while we're there. It's always great to have Grandma Fisher here with us, and we're looking forward to that family time so much!

After she leaves, I think life will slow down. Of course, I've thought that before and been I'm not holding my breath. :)

I say all that to say this: if I don't get much written in the next week or two, at least you'll know where I am...and you won't be able to say I didn't warn you! :)

Week 24

To keep me company in my week 24 pic is my friend Misty who is due to deliver her 3rd baby a few weeks before me. How is it that she's due before me, yet I'm bigger than her??? Sometimes, life just isn't fair. :)

Once again, I'm writing after the fact about a certain week of pregnancy, so hmm...let me think...I'll try to remember the significant stuff. Well, I had another appointment with one of my midwives during week 24. It was my first time meeting with this particular midwife, and I found her to be very nice and pleasant (as they all seem to be, fortunately!). I can see myself delivering a baby attended by any of them...although if I had my choice (which I don't) :), Donna would be the one I would choose. Interestingly, she's the one who saw me when I was having my miscarriage. Now, she's the one I feel the closest to and the most comfortable with. Hard, emotional times are bonding, that's for sure.

Anyway, my appointment this time went fine. My belly measurement was 25 centimeters, one centimeter ahead of the 24 that it is "supposed" to be. My blood pressure continues to be a little high for me: 146 over 80 when the nurse took it, then 140 over 70 when the midwife checked it a little later. I keep forgetting to ask my dad this question, but I'm wondering which number is the one to be concerned about...I've been paying more attention to the 146 or 140 number, but is that really more significant than the 80 or 70? Maybe they're both equal? Anyway, Dad, since I know you'll read this, can you tell me the answer sometime? Thanks! :)

The midwife assured me that I didn't need to worry about my blood pressure, but I know it is high for me so I do feel a little concerned about it. Sometimes I just have a sense that something will go wrong with my health this time around: either high blood pressure or gestational diabetes or something like that. Relax, Davene, relax...

Anyway, Baby's heartbeat was nice and strong, and his movements are definitely all looks well and I'm loving it!

~ me and my talented friend Misty who...
~ ...made this incredible dinosaur cake for her daughter Trinity's birthday which we celebrated together during our Friday fellowship potluck last week (also when we took the belly pic above)...we all knew whatever cake Misty made would be incredible since last year, she dazzled us with a Noah's Ark cake for Trinity's birthday...Trinity is a fortunate girl to have such a creative baker for a mom!!!

Our Homeschool Curriculum Is So Advanced...

...that even in kindergarten, we have a specialized course in agriculture and botany, taught by an expert in the field (or in the garden, as the case may be)!

Seriously, I love the fact that Josiah gets so much hands-on, real-life learning from a variety of sources, including his grandparents. Such integrated learning--science goes along with faith, character walks hand and hand with history, math and art are partners--how priceless!
~ in this picture, Josiah is learning from his grandmother how to take off the very last old dried-up ears of corn left on the stalk before cutting the stalk into smaller pieces to be plowed into the soil to return nutrients to it...then what do you do with the ears of corn? take them to your neighbor's pig, of course! the way, the white stuff in the garden is not's shredded paper, compliments of my mulch-happy mother :)

Let's Go Fly a Kite

While we were on vacation, we got a kite for Josiah; but ironically, it was so windy while we were at the beach that we never got a good chance to fly it there.

A couple days ago after Jeff got home from work, he took the boys out in our front yard and they flew the kite. It went beautifully!

The first picture is a little dark, but I like it because it actually shows David holding the roll of string and flying the kite (although Jeff is hanging onto the string, too). It's always fun to see my little boy doing such a big-boy thing!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Learning to Like It

I have vivid memories from childhood of sitting at the table, staring at a plate of particularly unappetizing food (like broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, or--horrors!--fish), complaining to my parents that "I don't LIKE it," and being told in response, "You can learn to like it." I'm sure at the time I thought they were crazy and taking the "let's be Pollyanna" theme a little too far. What? Learn to like something? You either like it or you don't, right? You might learn how to smother your asparagus in enough catsup that you didn't taste it on the way down, or how to swallow a piece of mushroom in less than a millisecond, washed down by plenty of milk, to eliminate all suggestion in your mouth that you had actually eaten a piece of fungus. Those were things you learned--how to tolerate something--not how to like it.

Now as a 31 year-old mother of young children, I find myself realizing more and more how intelligent and wise my parents were as they raised us, and how, even in this area, they were right. Funny how that happens, isn't it? :) Although there are certainly foods that I still don't crave or ask for, there are many foods that I do indeed enjoy, even though I was certain as a child that I would NEVER like them. For example, mushrooms--my brother and sister-in-law make the best mushrooms, and I've even requested them in particular for family meals. Another example is that during our recent vacation, I actually wanted to eat seafood, and even went so far as to order seafood in a restaurant (that must be a first for me, since I was always the girl who ordered chicken at Fisherman's Wharf!). Maybe it's just the pregnancy-influenced weird cravings, I don't know. :) But for whatever reason, my food tastes have definitely changed!

Recently this message of "learning to like it" has been directed towards me in ways other than food-related. Here's how I've applied it. There are undeniably certain parts of parenting that I like...and certain parts that I don't. Jokes are made about things like the endless changing of diapers and how that can be an undesirable part of parenting, but really, that doesn't bother me so much. Two examples of things that I've realized recently do indeed bother me are 1. buckling and unbuckling of carseats and 2. the bedtime routine. Not that everything else about parenting is a piece of cake, but these two issues are simply things that, at this stage of life, drive me a little bit bonkers.

Now, for sure, the first thing on my list is a dumb thing about which to be bothered. But from conversations I've had with other parents, I know I'm not alone in saying that, when we have a day full of errands and various places to stop, having to help several children in and out of carseats at each place can leave me exhausted and--worse--annoyed. Silly thing to get feathers ruffled over, but I get so tired of it! We got Josiah a booster seat that we thought would be easier for him to do by himself; but as of now, he can unbuckle it by himself but not buckle it. It's one of those things that I think if I simply focused on it consistently with him, he'd probably pick it up quickly and it wouldn't be such an issue anymore. But I haven't done the carseat issue still wears me out.

The second one is a common one in other households, too, I realize. I don't know if the fatigue of this pregnancy makes this harder for me now or what; but recently the whole routine of changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a story, singing a lullaby, praying together, giving hugs and kisses, anticipating their every need so that no unexpected requests pop up after I turn out the lights, dealing with the "needs" that inevitably pop up that I didn't plan for, changing David's diaper (since his body seems programmed to poop as soon as I tuck him in bed), getting them back in bed, etc.--that whole process feels overwhelming at times. When my energy and patience are at their lowest, I have to struggle to find the fuel to keep going for just a little longer before all is quiet in the boys' room.

I'm not trying to have a gripe session, and I realize these issues are not even worth complaining about AT ALL. However, my point is this: I've had to ask myself in the past few days and weeks, "Can you learn to like these aspects of parenting? Can you learn to embrace the fact that you have children who still need help with their carseats? Can you focus on the blessing that it is to have a minivan with carseats in it with real live boys who sit in them? When you see those carseats, can you rejoice in that, rather than grit your teeth and bear it? And with bedtime, can you learn to love all the aspects of settling your children down for the night? Can you enjoy the bedtime story? Can you appreciate all the minute details of the bedtime routine that for you are time-consuming and unimportant but that, for your children, provide peace and stability as they go off to sleep? Can you be patient with their last requests? Can you be as happy with their desire for "one more hug" at night as you would be if they spontaneously gave you a hug in the middle of the day? Can you learn to love all of this?"

The answer, of course, is yes. I can learn to love these things. When I consider the alternatives--from mere toleration to outright irritation--I really want to learn to like it--and learn it quickly! In reality, I'm not always successful yet; but I can sense my attitude slowly shifting, and that's refreshing--and brings hope for the future.