Monday, June 30, 2008

He Makes Me Laugh

He also occasionally makes me want to pull my hair out, but I'll focus on the laughing part today!

Here are some things I don't want to forget about David:

~ He says "bitamin," instead of "vitamin." He is always eager to take his "bitamins"; and if I forget to give them to him, he'll say, "Have we had bitamins today?"

~ He says "wis," instead of "this." When pointing things out, he'll say, "And wis and wis and wis and wis..."

~ He says "gwink," instead of "drink." "I need a gwink," he sometimes demands; and when prompted with, "How do you ask?" he'll add a hearty "PLEASE." We're still working with him about asking politely the first time, "May I please have a drink?" (or "gwink" as the case may be).

~ He does NOT like to be teased about how he says things. If he asks for a gwink and I hand him one and say, "Here's your gwink," he gets upset and says, "No, gwink!" He hears the difference but can't replicate the correct pronunciation, but that doesn't stop him from wanting others to say it the right way!

~ The other day he said, "Do I look funny, or do I look funny?" I thought, "Where did you learn that humor technique, of giving a choice but both choices being the same thing?" As it turns out, he learned it from a Clifford movie we borrowed from the library in which one of the dogs says, "Am I right, or am I right?" Well, I'm not so fond of the attitude implied in that last question; but I did think David was indeed funny when he posed his form of the question to me. Later that day I heard him say, "Can I eat the brown one, or can I eat the brown one?"

~ Last week when he was catching a little cold, he started announcing that there was a frog in his throat--apparently, his way of telling us that his throat hurt. Throughout the next day or two, we heard progress reports of how the frog was doing, and we were certainly glad when he told us that the frog had left.

~ A few Sundays ago, the children in our church had the opportunity to get up in front of the congregation and sing a few songs, as well as recite the Beatitudes. David was quite possibly the youngest child up there, since he's the youngest in his Sunday school class and none of the younger classes were part of that group (for obvious reasons, since the toddlers and babies just didn't seem to have 12 verses of Scripture memorized!). Anyway, the whole time the kids were up front, David didn't open his mouth to sing a single note or recite a single verse. He did, however, look around curiously at everything and everyone, flash his charming grin, and carefully arrange his fingers in the "I love you" sign in sign language which he then held up in the air and pointed towards Jeff and I. I melted. How could I not when my 3 year-old, oblivious to everything else going on around him, made the effort to communicate his love to us in that way?

~ Lastly, a few evenings ago, I let Josiah and David watch a short movie in the last half-hour or so before Jeff got home. Usually when Jeff walks in the door, the boys enthusiastically (read: loudly) greet him, no matter what they were previously occupied with; but on this particular evening, David was strangely quiet when Jeff arrived. Even when the movie ended and we were ready to eat supper, there was no sign of David and no sound of his voice. Josiah reported that David had fallen asleep; and when I came downstairs to the library, this is what I found--David, still wearing his bike helmet and clutching an inflatable dice that Jeff had given him, sitting up in the recliner, fast asleep.

Getting Back on Track

This poor blog has been sadly neglected the past week or two, probably the worst case of neglect it has ever experienced (aside from times when we've been on vacation without Internet access). It's odd to think that even back in January, when I had a newborn to take care of, I still found more time to blog than I did this past week!

I don't feel any sort of guilt about taking a few days away from the blog, but my only regret comes from the preciousness of the moments that have passed without me capturing them in any way. So let me grab hold of a few thoughts now before they drift away...

Besides taking time off from the blog, I also took time off from FlyLady. Yesterday and today, however, I did dust her off (figuratively, of course!) and did a few things: one of Kelly's Missions, some decluttering, etc. Actually, Jeff is the member of our household who gets the prize for decluttering last night since he sat here in our library and pulled book after book after book off the shelf for us to donate to Gift & Thrift. We are both addicted to books, and giving books away is about as easy for us as pulling teeth. But really, we don't need this many books! I was so inspired by him. :)

In other news, I've added a book to my "Books Beside My Rocking Chair" category; and I expect that book will be listed there for quite some time. The book is Voices of the Faithful, a daily devotional that includes short writings from missionaries serving all over the world. The thing I appreciate most about this book is that when I read it, I can be assured that at least once a day, my thoughts will be lifted from the daily grind of my life and will soar in the air to encompass a much larger perspective on what is going on in the church throughout the world. It is so easy to let my thinking become narrow and dull--sort of like standing in the Sistine Chapel and keeping my eyes glued to a speck of dust on the floor rather than absorbing the magnificence around me. I need reminders like Voices of the Faithful to keep me alert to God's hand at work in the world today.

And speaking of that, I heard an outstanding message this morning when the church gathered for worship and fellowship. Our speaker was James Krabill, and he spoke on "What in the world is God up to anyway?" Sometimes it seems that because I've basically lived my life as part of the church, I don't often get to experience learning brand new lessons from the Bible. I don't want to be misunderstood: first, I am hugely grateful for my Christian upbringing and wouldn't trade it for anything...and secondly, it is right and good to be reminded of the things I've learned previously. Everything doesn't need to be brand new to be valuable. Even Peter and Paul wrote about the value of repetition (2 Peter 1:12-13, Philippians 3:1, 2 Timothy 2:14). However, it is a joyous thing to see the Biblical text with new eyes and receive new insight into the depths of its meaning.

This morning, James Krabill talked about Paul's experience with planting the church in Philippi, specifically what a odd mix of believers were left in that city after Paul's first visit there; he painted word pictures and connected various parts of the Bible and dramatized the situation there in a way that I had never seen or considered. Logically, it made no sense at all that the church there grew and thrived. Logically, it didn't make much sense that the church grew and thrived anywhere! :) But it did...and it does today...and the Spirit of God is at work all over the world in powerful and exciting ways.

During another part of the service, Jeff was asked to come and stand in the middle of the congregation, and the whole church gathered around him, laying hands on him as Joe, one of the pastors, had a sending prayer for his Israel trip. Very special, very moving.

Well, the last thing I'll include tonight in this random collection of thoughts is a pictorial glimpse into last week's Vacation Bible School...
~ the theme was Bug Safari, so lots of bugs decorated the building and grounds...the beehive at the far left of this picture reminds me that over $900 was raised for Heifer International, specifically for bees and hives for families around the world
~ Josiah and part of his kindergarten class, along with Melanie, one of his teachers (it just so happens that I graduated from high school with her; I'm very glad to be back in contact with her!)
~ Josiah with part of his class outside, getting ready for recreation...on this particular night, they got to throw water balloons at Rod Driver who was a very good sport and even coached them on how they could achieve maximum drenching effect :)
~ the program on the last night, a great culmination of a wonderful week of learning and fun!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Last Thing I Do...

...before sinking gratefully into my bed each night is go to each of my boys to watch them in their sleep and perhaps lay my hand gently on them to feel the rise and fall of their breathing. It is a moment of supreme peace--possibly the single best moment of the day--and my heart wells up with love and gratitude and an awareness of how incredibly rich I am.

At these times, it's easy to identify with Robert Browning's lines in Pippa Passes:

God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Things have been busy around here the past few days: GOOD, but busy.

Our church is having Vacation Bible School this week, and it's turned into an event for the whole family. For VBS, Jeff is helping with the Bible lessons for preschoolers, I am helping with music, Josiah is thoroughly enjoying himself in the "Grasshoppers" class, David had great fun the first night but unfortunately has caught a little cold so wasn't able to go tonight, and Tobin is relaxing each evening in the care of Allison, one of the other VBS moms (she's been such a huge help and seems to be delighted at getting her "baby fix" from Tobin). :)

The other "extra" in our weekly schedule was an overnight visit from our friends Jerry and Terry Jordan. We knew them from when we lived in San Diego and have always admired and respected them tremendously although we haven't seen each other for a number of years. We were absolutely thrilled when we learned they were taking a trip along the East Coast this summer and would be passing through our area, even having time to stop and spend a night with us. They are SO NICE, such comfortable people to have in our home. We loved every minute of our time together!

I'll simply add a few pictures, then call it a night...
~ this picture cracks me up because the event cracked me up: my two favorite firstborns (Josiah and my mother) were helping me prepare for our guests yesterday afternoon...after they spread the tablecloth on the table, they literally got out a ruler to measure it to make sure they had an equal amount at each end...nobody but a firstborn would do that!!! :) mother claimed it was an exercise in mathematics, but I'm not sure about that--sounds like a classic case of rationalization to me! :)
~ Tobin got extra love and cuddles from Jerry...
~ ...and from Terry...they have a grandson who is a month younger than Tobin (as well as other grandchildren) so they're quite experienced in the art of grandparenting!~ relaxing around the supper table
~ we're so grateful for the privilege of knowing them!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Few Things About Josiah

Last week, around the time of Josiah's birthday, I wanted to write a little about him because there are a few things (actually, LOTS of things...that's why I blog!) that I want to remember from this time of his life. I didn't get around to writing that post when I intended to, but it's on my mind tonight so I'll jot a couple things down...

~ Josiah has really been into baseball recently and has had the opportunity to go to a couple local baseball/softball games. He's learning quite a bit about the rules of the game and the official terms for various things, but one thing that he can't seem to remember is the name for "grand slam." He calls it "slam jams." :)

~ Josiah is so creative! He is always coming up with ideas for things like:
* how to build blocks to form any number of items (guns, of course--can't seem to get away from that!--but also monsters to fight against, airplanes, ships, roads, swords, etc.)...I remember when we first gave Josiah some blocks when he was a toddler in Israel; he didn't show the slightest interest in them and it worried me since how could you grow up to be a well-adjusted child without playing with blocks? :) anxiety was quite unnecessary since he has grown to love blocks--big ones, small ones...we have a few sets and he has played a lot with all of them
* how to play with toys and follow a storyline with them, acting out the drama with the toys as props...and he loves to include David with this, too
* how to write and draw various things, from lists of how many "I read a book" stickers he got from the library to tracing with stencils to writing "Mom I love you" on a cut-out heart he colored...we go through lots of paper in this house with all his "projects"!

~ Josiah is trustworthy. I realized recently that one of the things I appreciate so much about Josiah at this stage is that I really can and do trust him. He's not a sneaky child, going around behind my back and seeing how much he can get away with. When he says something, I believe it (obviously, there are times when I know he's kidding or whatever, but you get the point). When I set limits for how and where he can play outside and the neighbor girls ask him to do something or go somewhere else, he comes inside to ask me first whether he's allowed to do that. When I ask Josiah to do a task, I can trust that he will. I LOVE this characteristic of Josiah, this quality of reliability and trustworthiness.

And now, a few more birthday pics. These are from our small group meeting last Wednesday. Since Josiah's birthday was on the 13th and Austin (another boy in our group) had a birthday on the 20th, we decided to celebrate together on the 18th at small group with cake and a pinata. All the boys (even the little brothers David and Adam) got a chance to whack the pinata before it was broken and the goodies spilled out. Who doesn't love a pinata? :)
~ Josiah and David (along with Austin and Adam) grabbing up the candy from the birthday pinata
~ Jeff and Merle checking out the way the swing is hung in the Zook's barn...while Josiah tries it out

Friday, June 20, 2008

June Is My January

These pictures have nothing to do with this post, but hey, why not throw them in here anyway? I don't have to be a perfectionist (so says FlyLady) not everything has to have a nice, tidy connection! :)
~ one of our growing's been so interesting to see how the feathers develop
~ our resilient turtle...who escaped long ago (but was returned by our neighbors who found him lounging around in their garden last fall) and who was suspected to have escaped again but was apparently hibernating the winter away inside his enclosure...the recent rains made him come out of the holes he normally hides in, so I was able to get a picture of him

Now on to what I really want to write about...

When January 1, 2008, rolled around, I was afflicted with a serious case of baby-on-the-brain and could hardly think of anything else. Consequently, I uncharacteristically did not make a long list of resolutions since I knew the upheaval of a new baby in the house would almost certainly demolish whatever plans and goals of which I might be dreaming. It had been a very long time since I had not participated in New Year's resolutions, and it felt a bit strange to me.

Now that June has rolled around, I'm finally having my January! Full of, etc. For one thing, I'm losing weight--a typical January plan. For another thing, I'm doing much better with general household organization which then rubs off onto virtually every other area of life. I'm having so much fun!

Coming into this month, I knew that this was the ideal time for me to conquer this dragon of lack of order and cleanliness in our home. Tobin at 5 months is SO MUCH EASIER (and far less time-consuming) than at 1 month. Plus, we're not officially homeschooling through the summer so that frees up extra time to devote to household stuff. I feel good physically, I have energy, and I realize that this is a window of opportunity for me to focus on this aspect of home-making before life gets any more complicated...whether through another child or additional forms of outreach and ministry or whatever.

Quite a long time ago, my friend Julie had recommended FlyLady to me, but I procrastinated (of course) and didn't get into it at the time. But I kept the suggestion in the back of my head "for such a time as this," and now I am very happily following FlyLady's plan for home organization. FlyLady is becoming so well known in this house that she's even getting blamed for things: "Well, I didn't fold the laundry because FlyLady hasn't talked about laundry yet!"...or "FlyLady didn't say to clean the bathroom so that's why I haven't done it!" :)

Her system seems to nail on the head the major problems I have encountered as I've tried to keep my home a neat and peaceful haven:
~ perfectionism
~ not ever starting because it's too big a task and I feel overwhelmed
~ getting distracted: one task leads to another and another, and I never finish the first thing I was working on
~ biting off more than I can chew, and leaving remnants of an organizing project strewn around
~ lack of consistency
~ and more...

In one of the things I read from FlyLady, she warns that decluttering and cleaning our homes can get addictive...and is she ever right! The past few afternoons, I've been absolutely relishing my times when the house is quiet in the afternoon so I can work on household stuff. That used to often be the time when I blogged, or read other blogs, or did computer stuff. My blogging may just go downhill because I'm off doing Room Rescues or putting out Hot Spots or doing 27 Fling Boogies! :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happier Things

Before I move on, a few more comments on the snake.

We're not certain what kind it was. One of Jeff's co-workers (who hails from West Virginia and ostensibly has a lot more experience with snakes than we do), after she saw the picture of it in my last post, said that she thought it was a copperhead (poisonous) or a watersnake (not poisonous). I had mentioned that when Wilma examined the mouth, she couldn't find any fangs...what I didn't know is that snakes (some? all? who knows?) keep their fangs hidden until they need them, and then BOOM! know the rest. When Jeff got home that evening, he was thoroughly examining the snake's mouth--practically turning it inside out--and sure enough, there were I've been told, since I was not close enough to do much careful scrutiny myself. Jeff concluded at that point that it was probably a copperhead...but not to worry, he said; copperheads are not as poisonous as rattlesnakes! Later that evening after he spent a considerable amount of time googling snake pictures, he changed his tune and said it looked more like a northern watersnake. This bit of info was more comforting than the not-as-poisonous-as-rattlesnakes spiel. However--bottom line--we still don't really know what it was.

One of the things that made it difficult to positively ID it is that (in the images we found on the Internet, at least) there is so much variety within each kind of snake--differences of color, markings, etc. We never did find a picture of which we could say, "Aha! That looks EXACTLY like the snake here today." So who knows? Of all the people we know, I can't think of a single one that we could email our snake picture to and have them say for sure what it was. Oh well, enough of that!

Happier things are so much more pleasant to think about and write about and read about, so here's a picture from yesterday that I particularly like. Josiah asked to hold Tobin (which he doesn't do as much now as he used to when Tobin was a newborn; I guess the novelty of it is wearing off!), and I was delighted to let him do that. Josiah knows how to gently tickle Tobin. There's nothing like getting a smile or a laugh from a little one to brighten the heart!

Another happy thing for me is that my weight is going down--slowly, but surely. On Monday morning, it was 153.4 pounds. I've only made minor changes in my eating and exercise, but it's really rewarding to see it paying off. The changes so far have been: not eating after supper (I miss my bedtime snacks, but it's worth it!), drinking a lot more water, limiting my portion size (especially at supper...although I'm not bringing out measuring cups and food scales and being scientific with it), and walking for exercise about once a week. This week I'm adding crunches into the mix since I really want to target my abdominal muscles.

One last happy thing to mention: I love FlyLady! I'm on day 9, and it feels good! My mom has even noticed the difference around here and is impressed by this Mrs. FlyLady, whoever she is! :)

Monday, June 16, 2008


This is the snake I found today.
This is the snake I found today in our yard.
This is the snake I found today in our yard on a patch of grass I had stepped on not 5 minutes previously.
This is the snake I found today in our yard on a patch of grass I had stepped on not 5 minutes previously--barefoot.

Or how about this?

This is the snake that scared the daylights out of me.
This is the snake that scared the daylights out of me so, like any sensible girl, I started yelling for my mommy.
This is the snake that scared the daylights out of me, so like any sensible girl, I started yelling for my mommy...and she, like any wise woman, suggested we call our Mennonite neighbor.
This is the snake that scared the daylights out of me, so like any sensible girl, I started yelling for my mommy...and she, like any wise woman, suggested we call our Mennonite neighbor...and she, like any good neighbor and brave country woman (which obviously I'm not), KILLED IT.

Let's just say Wilma is my new hero.

I think it could also be deduced from the events of the day that God wasn't kidding in Genesis 3:15 when he told the serpent that there would be enmity between his offspring and the descendants of the woman. Enmity--a feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity; antagonism (according to, I think that about sums it up.

So here's the whole story...

Josiah, David, and I were outside feeding the animals during the middle of the morning today. We had fed the chickens, rabbits, dog, calves, and had used the hose to fill the trough in the pasture with the calves and our dog Molly. The hose was still out, lying on the ground, and I needed to use it to wash out a bird I started walking up the slight hill in the backyard between the lilac bush and the forsythia bush when--suddenly--I noticed that something was on the hose that I had not noticed just a few minutes before. Something black. Something skinny. Something slightly curled. Something... OH MY WORD, IT'S A SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I kept my head enough to call to Josiah and David to stay back; they got up on the cement by the sandbox so they would be out of danger but still be able to watch. I called for Mother who was working in the garden, planting corn. She didn't hear what the commotion was about at first, but came quickly, of course, once she realized that I needed her. I, meanwhile, was frozen in place, thinking that I HAD to to keep my eyes on that snake so that it didn't vanish into thin air...but for crying out loud, what was I going to DO with it??? Mother was going to the garden shed and came back armed with a hoe and a shovel; but by the time she got to where I was, the snake had slithered out of sight under the (hugely overgrown) forsythia bush.

Rather than rejoicing that the snake was gone, I was horrified by the thought of a snake--alive--on our property...and perplexed by the small matter of making sure it didn't escape. Not that I wanted to kill it, but I certainly did not want it to live another day and reappear when I least expected it. I can't help thinking that the only good snake is a dead one; and although I KNOW that's not true (snakes are actually good for farmers...they eat mice who eat the farmers' grain...blah blah blah), I still can't tolerate the thought of one here, on our land, under our bushes, near my boys' sandbox. That poor snake came into the wrong yard! I think I would actually have reacted a little better (maybe let it live?) if I had seen it out in the woods somewhere...somewhere where it belongs. It does not belong here!

The big question was what next? I had feebly poked around with the hoe under the bush a little to see if I could find the snake, but wasn't about to get any closer to really investigate. I wondered aloud if it would work to use water from the hose to try to flush it out from under the bush. And that is when my wonderful mother came up with the brilliant suggestion to call Wilma who sort of laughed when I called her and said that she and the girls would be right over. And they were. I had just enough time to go in the house, get shoes for myself, make sure Josiah and David put shoes on, and go to the bathroom (since this whole episode was liable to scare the pee right out of me!) before the neighbors arrived. To the rescue!

Wilma courageously--or crazily, depending on how you look at it--proceeded to use her arms to move aside the branches of the bush so she could find the snake. Guess what? She found it! It was just lounging around on some of the branches towards the front of the bush. She wasn't as intent on killing it as I was intent on her killing it. :) After all, it almost certainly wasn't poisonous...and, I might add, IT WASN'T ON HER LAND. But she was willing to do whatever we needed her to do, so...she sent her oldest daughter Rosalie up to her husband's welding shop (behind our pasture) for reinforcements. Wilma knew her husband well enough to know that he would be about as likely to come to her aid as he would be to become an airline pilot (which is to say, NOT A CHANCE), but she did think that Douglas's helper Anthony might come help us. Alas, Rosalie returned alone; she reported that the men just looked at her when she told them what was going on.

Meanwhile, that slithery, slimy, sneaky snake had disappeared again. Wilma said, "Why didn't I just grab it when I had the chance?" Why indeed???

She went around to the side of the bush (the upper side) to resume the hunt...found it...called urgently for a hoe (which I quickly ran up to give to her--my big part in the drama)...and tried to get it. It quickly (man, snakes are fast!) dropped down and started slithering to where Rosalie was (on the lower side). I'm not sure what Rosalie did, but I do remember Wilma saying, "Am I going to have to kill this thing?" Yes, my dear neighbor, you certainly are!

Chop, chop, went the hoe...and Wilma overcame her reluctance at killing a really harmless (but utterly detestable) snake. And I will always be grateful!

You know what they say: what goes around comes around. Jeff was able to help Douglas a couple years ago with a certain predicament involving an armed robber, and Wilma was able to help me with this little pickle of a situation today. I know a snake is not at all like a gunman and I'm not trying to belittle the danger of the circumstances Douglas and Jeff were in...but my point is that I'm grateful for good neighbors who help each other out in a pinch!

As snakes are wont to do, this scary critter squirmed and writhed, even after being beaten and chopped. The mouth even opened; and Wilma (who was letting the teacher in her come out as she got down on her hands and knees and pointed out the snake's hollow tongue, his lack of fangs, his nostrils, and I don't know what else because I was still having too much of an adrenaline rush to pay much attention) let out a little screech when the snake moved to cling to the stick she had put in its mouth.

When I knew the snake was well on its way to being dead, I ran into the house to get the camera to take a picture. I just knew I would want to record this for posterity, right? :) And I also knew that Jeff would want to see the snake so we left it out on the cement cover of our cistern for public display. I'm not sure what kind it is. I tried to do an Internet search for snake images that matched this one, but I discovered that just looking at numerous pictures of snakes was freaking me out too much in my fragile condition! :)

The events of the day reminded me that when I was pregnant with Josiah, I was part of a research study at a university hospital in California to track the effect of light on a woman's depression (or lack thereof) during pregnancy and postpartum months. At the time it was determined that I wasn't depressed, but I qualified to be part of the control group and remained in the study until the researchers ran out of money and called it all off. But before that happened, there were several conversations where I was asked all sorts of questions, one of which being what my greatest fear was. At that point in time, I could only think that snakes were my biggest we explored that topic in depth during our conversation. This episode today reminded me of how deep my fear of snakes is. It's not logical, I realize, but it is real.

In the 36 years that our family has lived on this property, we can only remember one other snake that was found here. Actually when I say "we", I mean "my mother" who remembers finding--and yes, killing--a black snake outside our garage one day, many years ago. I suppose that 2 snakes in 36 years is a pretty good ratio, but I think 1 snake in 36 years would have been better.

This whole afternoon, I've been on edge, have literally shuddered and shaken as the feelings roll over me, have felt sick to my stomach as I replay the events in my mind. I'm not sure how long it's going to be until those images get deleted from the computer of my mind (or at least moved to the back corners)...or how long until I walk up that hill without fear creeping up my spine...or how long until I stop thinking that every little thing I see is a snake.

I know this really shouldn't be such a big deal, but OH MY WORD, IT WAS A SNAKE!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lots and Lots of Celebrating

This could possibly be the post in which I include the most ever (for me) pictures. It's just that there's so much fun stuff going on around here these days!

Mid-June always brings a rash of excitement to our lives with one cause for celebration after another: Jeff's and my anniversary, my parents' anniversary, Josiah's birthday (which always extends into more than just one day, usually more like a week!), and Father's Day.

The fun of Josiah's birthday started last Wednesday when Jeff had the day off and was able to get the supplies to make a sandbox for Josiah (and his little brothers, of course). I had a sandbox growing up, and have happy memories of hours spent playing with my brother David in ever since we moved here, I had the idea of a sandbox for our boys in the back of my head (the idea was in the back of my head, not the sandbox itself, fortunately!). :) Last summer we had looked on E-bay for one (a sandbox, not a head) :)...but the kind we liked was a little out of the price range we were considering. This year on E-bay, we didn't find anything we liked very Jeff, being the amazingly talented guy that he is (as well as something of a...ahem...thrifty fellow) decided he would just build one himself. So he did--simple as that! It's already been thoroughly enjoyed by Josiah and by David and by our neighbor girls. Because of its location under our spreading maple tree and just outside our kitchen window, I can send the boys out to play without slathering them with sunscreen and without me having to be outside, too. It's so pleasant to work in the kitchen and hear their cheerful voices outside as they're busy at work in the sandbox!
~ the beginning of construction
~ adding the takes A LOT of sand to fill a sandbox!
~ David's serious face as he concentrates on his play
~ painting it easy color choice since it's David's favorite color (and since we happened to have a can of red paint in the garage and didn't need to spend any money on it!) :)

Well, on to the actual day of Josiah's birthday! I don't want to forget that I had some alone time with Josiah that afternoon while David and Tobin were both still napping. Josiah came downstairs to the living room and asked if we could cuddle. Of course we could! Then I got out a special scrapbook that my friend Bobbielynn made for him when he was born...and the pregnancy journal that I filled out while pregnant with him...and a little photo album of his newborn pictures. It was so much fun to look at that stuff with him and share special memories about his birth!

Next on the agenda was our birthday dinner for Josiah on Friday evening, his real birthday. His request for the menu was waffles with blueberry sauce and orange sauce, preceded by the singing of "Happy Birthday" and the opening of gifts and followed by birthday cake, of course (which we actually waited to eat until after we got home from playing miniature golf).
~ Jeff reading the birthday card from Grandma Fisher to Josiah
~ Jeff showing Josiah one of his oft-requested gifts, a fishing pole...this one is extra special because instead of the traditional casting mechanism, this one is a Rocket Rod and the hook shoots out in a special protective's supposed to be safer and easier than traditional casting...Josiah is thrilled by it because he thinks it's like a gun--such a boy! :)
~ Josiah cleaning every last bit of yummy blueberry sauce off the Celebrate plate (which has been getting a lot of use lately!)

After dinner, off to the mini golf course, where Josiah and David both got to play, Jeff carried Tobin and kept score, and I had the fun of taking pictures. It's actually fairly inexpensive to only have the boys play, and Jeff and I have the fun of watching them enjoy themselves. :)
~ my men...I'm so blessed~
~ checking out the slope of the course
~ doesn't Tiger Woods wear flip-flops when he plays golf? :)
~ Josiah and David watching another group playing
~ I never get tired of taking pictures of this little sweetheart
~ "whatcha doin', Tobin?"
~ "oh! trying to eat Daddy's arm. it's a good thing you don't have any teeth yet! I'm sure Daddy needed the extra moisturizer that your slobber provided. you're so helpful"

One last picture for this very long post: one of the gifts that we gave Josiah was Typing Instructor for Kids (recommended by Renee some weeks ago). He LOVES it! And wow, he's doing really well with it. It's nice to see him actually learning to type with the correct fingers on each key. Speaking of Josiah typing, I really need to end this post so that I can turn the computer over to him so he can practice some more. I told him he could do that after I finished posting about his birthday. He had the impression this was going to be a short post--not quite! Gotta go... :)
~ Josiah yesterday, learning to type the right way

Friday, June 13, 2008

Now He Is Six

Josiah is 6 years old today. It's been a day of celebrating, of remembering, of thanking God for this amazing gift of a son. So much more waits to be said about this; but, thanks to FlyLady (I'm on Day 4), I MUST go shine my kitchen sink before I can go to bed, so this post will have to be short!

In honor of the occasion, a chocolate cake with marshmallows, chocolate icing, AND sprinkles...
This evening when I asked Josiah to smile for me, this is the face I got...
...followed by this one. It's enough to melt a mother's heart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Five Months

Five months ago, I gave birth to Tobin. So much has changed in that short amount of time; it's really unbelievable!

First off, there's this incredible little guy living in our house now! Tobin has really turned into the classic smiling baby now, quick to grin when someone looks at him and talks to him. His skin is also better as he's gotten used to life outside the womb and as the hormones he gets from my milk have subsided; he doesn't have those big flaky patches of dry skin that he did for so long, and I'm thankful for that. He also has progressed to the stage of holding toys and playing with them. He has this cloth book that unfolds to a long caterpillar and each section makes noise or has a mirror in it or something. He really enjoys holding that; but at this stage, it never fails: after a few minutes, he starts to "talk" to it, which progresses to louder and louder "talking" until soon it sounds like he's crying. Or I'll give him a plastic ring to hold and he'll be happy, but then he'll try to put it in his mouth and won't be able to get it in the right place, and then he'll get frustrated. Or he'll be holding a toy in his hand and then "forget" how to let go of it so that he can suck his thumb when he gets tired. Or he'll sit in his bouncy seat and swat at the little animals hanging down from the toy bar, but then he tries to chew on the green elephant's trunk, and gets grumpy when it swings away from him. Or as he holds a toy in his hand, he'll accidentally bang his head with it. Ah, the hardships of infancy! It's tough to try to get those toys to do what you want them to do! :)

Second, besides the amazing changes in Tobin, I just feel so different. My energy level is so much higher, physically I feel so much better, this season of the year is such a fun one, my ability to dive enthusiastically into new projects is radically different than those early days after Tobin's birth when I just tried to survive day-to-day at times, taking care of three boys and even going out to various places with them seems so much more manageable than it did just a few months ago. I am so grateful for how God designed us to adapt to the changes in our environment and lifestyle and family size!

Last Sunday we took these pictures of the boys wearing their matching outfits from Uncle David and Aunt Lori. I love Tobin's smile in this picture...
... and Josiah's and David's grins in this one.
These past five months have been filled with precious memory-making moments, and I've realized again how much capacity for love the heart has. As more children are added to the family and as the children get older, the love grows...simply grows...and I don't think there's an end to it. When I first had Josiah, it was hard to believe that I could feel the depth and intensity of love for any other child like I did for him...and then along came David and I felt it all over again...and now here is Tobin, and I love him so completely and so fiercely and so tenderly and so... Well, it leaves me speechless.
I love you, my little Tobin bear. Thank you for being such a precious gift of God to me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Illustrating the Gospel

In our Sunday school class last week (I thoroughly enjoy Sunday school, by the way!!!), we were talking about the character of Melchizedek in the book of Hebrews--specifically, how that was a figure that was known to the recipients of the book of Hebrews, and how that carried weight with them. The average person on the streets in our century and in our country doesn't have a clue about Melchizedek, so it doesn't communicate as powerfully to us perhaps as it did to the first-century Jews. Well, the discussion went something like that; anyway...

Today I was thinking about modern-day examples that communicate effectively to us in the here and now, and I thought of these two blog posts that I've seen recently on other people's blogs. Both of these illustrate powerfully, I believe, an aspect of the gospel message. It's always a joy to see the timeless truths of the Bible in a fresh light. Don't we all need that from time to time?

So, for what it's worth, here they are:

... from Crystal's blog (a video clip)


... a story from a new blog I stumbled across today, Ruthie's.


After a vigorous walk around a local track this morning with my friend Amy and an inspiring talk with her about adoption and other forms of outreach, I was driving home with Tobin when the song "If We Are the Body" by Casting Crowns came on the radio. It complemented beautifully the conversation I had just had and the thoughts and prayers of my heart as I was driving home--in essence, the longing to pour myself out for God and to be faithful in every single situation that comes my way, to listen for His voice and to give of myself as Jesus would on a daily basis. Here are some of the words of the song:

But if we are the body,
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?

And if we are the body,
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way.

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come.

The words of this song were still in my ears, and my heart was still crying out to God about my desire to live a life of sacrifice for Him when, suddenly, a wreck occurred in front of me.

I was traveling west on route 33 (our road) when I noticed a white car stopped in the road, waiting to make a left turn into a driveway. Two motorcycles who were behind the white car apparently didn't slow down much but simply zipped around it on the shoulder and went on their way. But the SUV that was following the motorcycles didn't see that the car was stopped, and the SUV driver's efforts to slow down in time were fruitless. She crashed into the back of the white car, smashing the back end and shattering glass. I was following the SUV, but had seen what was going on so had slowed down in plenty of time. (It was, however, an intense reminder that anything can happen when driving on the roads; and it's by God's grace that we drive safely each day.)

My very first reaction (after I could tell that there were no apparent serious injuries) was, "I wonder if there's enough room on the road to get around these cars and go on my way." My second reaction was, "Let me pull into this driveway and turn around so I can go home on back roads." My third reaction was, "I'd better stop and see if I can help." I wish that had been my first reaction. You would think that after hearing that Casting Crowns song and praying that prayer to be used by God, I would have been prepared to instantly obey and serve in that situation. But it wasn't quite instant.

I'm convinced that as we go through life, events occur which are preparation for something in the future...and the vast majority of the time, we have no clue how God is working to bring such things about. As I thought about this theme of preparation, it reminded me of how so many times, when Josiah was very young, I would read about a hurt or dying child or get some kind of reminder of how fleeting life is and how precious our children are...and then that night, he would wake up sick and we would have a rough night...or some other kind of "hardship" involving him (very minor, but still something out of the ordinary) would come along. And I would realize that God had prepared my heart to be tender and patient and overflowing with love for my child in whatever difficulty we were enduring.

I felt that way again today--that God had specifically prepared me to see that accident, to hop out and make sure everyone was OK, to get an orange warning cone out of our car, to help direct traffic around the accident scene, etc.--only small things, but it was all I could do. And I'm sure it was what God wanted me to do.

There's no feeling better than being used by God--being His arms, His hands, His words, His feet. May I stay in tune with God so that I'll be an effective tool for His glory!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Guess Who... getting better at rolling over?

Recently Tobin has been showing off his skill at rolling from his back to his tummy, and the big accomplishment is that he's also learned how to suck his thumb while on his when he ends up on his tummy during naptime, he can still suck his thumb and be content. That is quite an accomplishment!

He hasn't rolled from his tummy to his back yet, but I know the day will come...
~ Tobin in the playpen

Monday, June 9, 2008


45 years, and still going strong! Happy anniversary to the best parents a girl could ask for!!!

Josiah asked me one time recently, "You and Daddy are not going to ever get a divorce, are you?" I quickly and strongly assured him that no, we will never get a divorce. It reminded me of one time when I was a young girl and had that same conversation with my mother. She was in the laundry room when I asked her (the same laundry room in which I spent much of my day today!), and I must have heard about someone getting a divorce and needed to hear from her that she and Dad never would. I'm SO GRATEFUL that my parents are still married. They've set a wonderful example for Jeff and I...and for many other people. What a treasure!

Moment of the Day

...brought to you by Josiah (and his newly-acquired reading talents) and David (who thinks it's grand to listen to his big brother read a story).

Before lunch, I told the boys that after I finished the little project I was working on, I would have time to sit down and read to them for a while until it was time to eat. So the boys each grabbed a book off the bookshelf and plopped on the little couch to wait for me. It was heart-warming to glance over and see this scene: Josiah and David cuddled up to each other, with Josiah holding up the book David chose and reading it aloud.

The book is We're Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, and I got it at a yard sale about a month ago. The price was 50 cents which was well worth it because we have already read that book over and over and over again! In fact, both boys have part of it memorized, and Josiah is able to read the whole thing with very little help.

I love to catch my boys in tender, affectionate moments like this!


Since it's Monday, it's time for my weekly weigh-in. The scale this morning said 155.2 pounds which is up a little from last week. That's not the direction I want it to go! But I'm actually surprised that it wasn't higher this morning based on my food habits from this past week. I could blame it on the anniversary dinner (followed by Kline's ice cream) last Saturday...or the popcorn we took to a local baseball game last night (the popcorn which was for the boys, but which I absentmindedly munched on, too)...or the turtles I made this past week because I wanted to take some to a family in our church that just had a baby (but of course, I had to save part of the batch for us, too). Oh, well, this is a new week and a fresh start, so hopefully this week will go better!


File this one under "No Wonder the Bathroom Stinks."

I discovered a rather unpleasant odor in our upstairs bathroom yesterday, but I attributed it to the decidedly repulsive odor coming from our downstairs library these days (stubborn remnant of last week's plumbing problems and overflowing washing machine). I thought, "Well, the smell is probably coming up to the bathroom from the laundry chute which connects to the library."

That wasn't the problem however, and it wasn't until I emptied the bathroom trash this morning that I found the real source of the smell--a dead fish in the trashcan. Yuck! I knew there had been a dead fish in the fishtank at the end of last week, and I was grateful that my dearly-loved dead-fish-disposer took care of the problem. His normal method of burial is the toilet so I naturally assumed that the deceased critter was released to swim forever in a land of watery bliss. I assumed wrong. As I learned this morning, it doesn't take too long for a dead fish to start stinkin' up the bathroom. At least I found it before the smell penetrated the whole upstairs!

We have had so many foul odors around here for the past week or so that the only thing I can say is I'm so glad I'm not pregnant!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Tis the season for weddings...and anniversaries! Today marks eleven years since that extraordinary day when Jeff and I stood before a crowd of people and said, "I do." Jeff had been practicing that famous sentence for months before our wedding. He would tease me by saying it in different ways: bellowing it, saying it in a high and squeaky voice, saying it in his deepest voice, using an accent for it, etc. He did this so often that I was curious about how he would really say it on that official day; but when the time came, he said it just right. It was perfect, as was everything about that day...

It's been so much fun today to let our minds wander back in time, not only to the events surrounding our wedding, but also to the people we were then. We've changed (in lots of good ways, of course!) :), and it's been interesting to share our thoughts about that with each other.

I have never for a moment regretted marrying Jeff. It was truly the second best decision of my life!

For the past few years, we've tried to have an overnight get-away for our anniversary; but this year, it seemed wiser to not attempt that. Instead, we've had a special family day so far, with Jeff only working a few hours this morning, then all of us going out for brunch at IHOP (a favorite of the boys) and then playing at the park for a little bit until the pool opened at noon! The pool was the big excitement of the day, but our decision to go there today wasn't a very original one because there were hundreds of people there. We're in a heat streak here--the temps have been in the high 90s and even a bit over 100--the hottest we ever get around here. (It wasn't that hot when we got married, but it is this year!) So going to the pool was on everybody's mind, it seems. We all had a great time; and despite the vigilance required to make sure three little boys didn't drown, it was even relaxing for Jeff and I! :) Tonight, my parents are going to babysit so Jeff and I can go out for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant that we've never tried before. I'm looking forward to it!

For memory's sake, some of our wedding photos:

~ we were blessed to have Carla do our flowers...I was supremely happy with how they turned out!...they were--and are--utterly gorgeous in my eyes...the headpiece and veil, by the way, were my sister's
~ one of the songs we included in the ceremony was "Arise, My Love" by Michael Card...the above picture reminds me of that song every time I see it
~ arches were significant for us because of meeting in Israel where there are so many arches...when our relationship turned romantic there (although it was a secret romance), we began the tradition of kissing under every arch...and sometimes Jeff would take my hand and raise our arms over our heads to form an arch so that he would have to kiss me!...we chose to have an arch at the front of the sanctuary for that reason
~ this picture is really special to me because of the four-generation aspect of it...I was extremely grateful that my grandmother was able to come from Pennsylvania for the wedding...beside her is my mother, of course, then me, my sister Donna, and her daughter Sheena
~ I loved the way this cake turned out...I don't remember a bit about how it tasted, but the way it looked with the various layers being on different stands rather than on top of each other and with the real flowers on it (again, by Carla) was EXACTLY what I wanted
~ our get-away was in a horse and buggy; and since the Mennonite culture is such an integral part of where I grew up, I was thrilled to include a piece of that on our wedding dad had arranged with a Mennonite family (that he knows through his medical practice) to take us from the wedding to their farmhouse where our car was parked ahead of time, and we were so grateful that Dad took care of that for us...Dad didn't tell us that, for good measure, he threw in a very talkative Mennonite lady who kept turning around from the front seat to look in the back and chat with us the whole way to the farm...Jeff was understandably interested in a little smooching (and he wasn't the only one!), but she was going to make sure no undue hanky-panky went on in her buggy!!! :)

Ah, funny memories! Speaking of talkative people, Jeff had to deal with a videographer who was waiting backstage with Jeff before the wedding. Jeff really would have liked a little peace and quiet and privacy and time to reflect and pray; but apparently, this guy chattered on and on until the wedding started!

I remember...that I wanted the bridesmaids (and myself) to be at the church building hours and hours before the wedding. I had been part of enough weddings that had rushed preparation times, and I was determined that we would not have to hurry through and feel stressed about being late for the wedding. As a result, I set an absurd amount of extra time into the day's schedule for the women. I think they probably thought I was a little nuts, but they all went along with it. :)

I remember...that I was nervous about the fact that the afternoon was progressing and the arch still wasn't decorated with flowers yet! I'm sure Carla had everything completely under control, but I worried that she wouldn't have enough time to do it. (Did you know that, Carla?) And do you sense a theme here: worry...about time...and being late? :)

I remember...that before the wedding started, I kept yawning and could not stop. The girls who were waiting with me kept teasing me about falling asleep, but it was just because I was nervous. I was afraid I was going to faint--never mind the fact that it RARELY happens--but that's what was in my mind to be nervous about.

I sister coming into the room where I was waiting, right before she walked down the aisle before me as my matron of honor. She told me that she loved me and was proud of me, and that meant so much to me.

I didn't know...but was later told...that when the song "Sunrise, Sunset" began to be sung (before the actual start of the wedding), my mother was so overcome with emotion that she had to walk down one of the hallways of the church to get herself together so she could be ready to enter when it was her turn. Someone--a good family friend, although I don't remember who--went to her there and helped to console her. I'll have to ask my mother later who that woman was, and I'll also have to ask my mother if she got teary-eyed just reading this blog post. :)

I remember...that my bouquet was SO HEAVY! I've already mentioned that I was completely delighted with the flowers! But I didn't expect my bouquet to weigh so much. My arm got so tired of holding it that I wanted to ask Jeff to hold it for me while we were standing together, listening to our minister. I refrained from that rather unusual request though, but was I ever glad when it was time to hand off my bouquet to my sister and move under the arch for the vows, lighting of the unity candle, communion, and all that good stuff! :)

I remember...that I kept blinking non-stop. I had always dreamed of having the veil over my face until the moment that my groom lifted it back and kissed me. But I didn't realize that it's a strange sensation to have a veil over one's face, and my eyes kept blinking and blinking because of how different that felt!

I remember...being surprised by the suit our minister chose to wear. He was one of my college professors--a man we admired and respected highly--but it was obvious we didn't choose him for his expensive clothing tastes. The suit he wore was blue--baby blue--and I'm not sure exactly what era it came from, but it certainly was not considered the height of fashion in the year 1997! :)

I I felt like Jeff and I were the only people in the world when we were standing under the arch and a song was being sung. We were able to talk and laugh and smile and connect and love; and although I don't remember what we said to each other, I do remember sincerely enjoying those moments so much. I was the happiest woman in the world!

I my cheeks ached from smiling. There's a picture in our wedding album that was taken at the end of the formal picture-taking time. In the photo, I'm seated at the grand piano in the sanctuary and Jeff is standing behind me, and my forced smile and weary eyes make it clear that I'm ready to be done with all the pictures!

I remember...enjoying immensely the fact that so many people from so many different phases of my life were all together in one place. From folks who had known me ever since I was a little girl with my hair in long friends we had made from our semester in Israel when we met each other...and all the way in between.

I remember...that my grandmother, when she heard of our plans to leave in a horse and buggy, warned us about that because of the risk of the horse bolting. In my head, I'm sure I said, "Pshaw!" because who ever heard of these staid Mennonite horses running like that? Well, I didn't know very much, did I? When we came out of the church building to get into the buggy, the crowd broke into spontaneous cheers and applause, and guess what the horse did? Yep, he got scared and started running. Fortunately, we weren't close enough to the buggy to actually be trying to get into it at that point...fortunately, no one was hurt...and fortunately, the talkative Mennonite lady and her daughter who accompanied her were able to get the horse (Chester was his name, if I remember correctly) calmed down eventually and we made it safely to the farmhouse. But it taught me a valuable lesson: to pay attention to the warnings of my elders!

I remember...that some kind soul packed a bunch of food for Jeff and I to take with us as we left the reception. We didn't have a sit-down reception so Jeff and I had not really eaten, and later we were hungry!

I remember...that there were some things that we needed to take with us as we began our honeymoon but for some reason, we didn't take them in the buggy. So my parents drove their car to the farmhouse to put those things into our car which was waiting there. My parents were the only ones who knew where our car was; and since we knew they were not about to decorate our car (just ask them their wedding-car-decorating story!), we felt certain that we wouldn't have to worry about that! Well, my brother and a couple of my friends figured out that my parents were heading to our waiting car, so my brother and "friends" (just kidding...) followed my parents. My parents tried to lose them but didn't succeed; and as we pulled in the long lane to the farmhouse, we could see our car being decorated up ahead of us. We just couldn't urge that horse to go as quickly as we would have liked so that we could hop in our car and drive off before much decorating was done. In the end, I know that Oreo cookies were put on our back window to spell "Mr. and Mrs." (such a waste of good Oreos!) :) and I think balloons were tied onto the antenna and I also know that a lot of saran wrap was put around the car, holding the doors shut and preventing us from getting in...and I can't remember what else. If my memory serves me well, Jeff had a pocketknife in his pants which he whipped out and quickly cut through the saran wrap. We were so glad to finally be alone in the car together, ready to set off on our new life!

I special it felt to walk through the downstairs of the Joshua Wilton House during the busy dinner hour and have everyone look at us. :)

I happy I was when Jeff swept me up and carried me across the threshold to our room.

And that's all I'll say about that... :)