Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Forgot to Mention...

...that Jasper is a mix of black lab (his daddy) and basset hound (his mommy, from whom he obviously inherited his adorable ears!). Mixing those two breeds seems kind of funny to me, but I love the result!!!So much for having an indoor dog. Jeff got right to work on a pen for Jasper today, and after a trip to town for supplies, had it built by early afternoon. It's actually a really good thing for Jasper to be outside; he's got room to move and will grow used to the other animals we have. Besides, cleaning up after a dog is not exactly my cup of tea! When he gets bigger, we'll transition him into the pasture with Molly and the calves.

There is nothing like a boy and a dog--unless it's two boys (or even three) and a dog! I am thoroughly enjoying the way Josiah interacts with Jasper. This is what I was imagining when we got Molly a couple of years ago, but Josiah just wasn't ready for it then. We still have Molly, of course, and Josiah is definitely braver with her now than he used to be; but I can visualize Jasper growing up with our boys in a different way than has happened with Molly. It also helps that we got Jasper in the summer when it's so pleasant and easy to be outside, giving us lots of bonding time with him.

I also forgot to mention my weight from Monday morning: 147.6 pounds. 10 pounds down (well, almost)...7 more to go...yippee! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Dog Named Jasper...

...or Jack. The above-30 folks in our household call him Jasper. The younger-than-10 group calls him Jack. So we said his name could be Jasper Jack Fisher, but Josiah corrected us by saying that his name is Jasper but his nickname is Jack. When we asked Josiah why he wanted to call him Jack, he said earnestly, "Because I've always wanted a friend named Jack!" :)

So...who is he? And what is he doing in our house?

He is a completely adorable puppy that Jeff brought home this evening. I saw Jeff walking up the steps from the garage with something in his arms--something strange, something different than what he normally carries. It took a few seconds for me to realize what it might be--and then, all dinner preparations were ceased as I quickly went over and sat on the floor, joined by the boys, to hold and cuddle and pet this beautiful little creature--so soft and shiny!

We had "talked" about getting another dog, our discussion being spurred by the fact that our 10-doors-up neighbor's dog had puppies (11 of them--can you imagine?!) and we could have one if we wanted it. But I didn't realize we were really getting one...and that we were getting it TODAY! It would be a little like Jeff coming home after work one day and finding me holding a child--our new child. "Well, dear, we talked about adopting a child. Here he is!" ;)

I never know what Jeff is going to do. He keeps me on my toes. He's very good for me. And this has happened before--in fact, the day we got our other dog, Molly, was very similar to this one, except that he called from work that January (2006) day and said, "What would you think if we got a dog?"

"Well, OK, that would be nice. Maybe when it's spring..."

"Great, I'll bring her home."

Um, thanks for the advance warning. ;)

Anyway, Jasper is the sweetest puppy--much, much calmer than Molly was as a puppy (although she was very sweet, too!). He's shy and a bit of a scaredy cat--rather, scaredy dog. Our Plan A for getting another dog was to have him in the pasture with Molly, but it seems like it will take some time for the dogs to get used to each other. Plus, Jasper is small enough to slip through the fence easily, so we don't want to put him up there now. For tonight, he's snoozing on our porch, after having spent some time indoors this evening. I always said that I never wanted an indoor dog, but I don't know. He sure is a sweetheart... :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tobin Still Gets a Little Lost...

...in this farm toy. It makes me laugh to see just his head poking up and floating around. Where did the rest of you go, little boy? :)
~ "how convenient that David parked his tricycle so close to me; now I can reach these red and white things..."
~ "...maybe I can eat them!...rats, they aren't long enough...oh, well, I'll just feel them for a while and study them intently...I'm sure this is helping my brain to develop!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tobin Bear

This little charmer continues to be one of the brightest spots in my life these days. I just smile when I think of him...I can't help it...the smile just comes...a deep, genuine, thank-You-God-for-this-boy smile that changes my perspective on everything.

While Jeff was gone, I was thinking that I was so grateful to have Tobin during his daddy's absence. Rather than Tobin creating more work for me, he actually helped the days to go much better because when I would take the time to really look at him and consider him, I could practically hear the whoosh of endorphins being released to fill my whole body with their feel-good powers. In the midst of the stress and pressure of being the only parent on the scene, Tobin brought moments of peace to me, to us all, I think...and continues to be a spot of joy in the lives of those with whom he interacts.

I can't say it enough: he's an undeserved treasure, straight from God's hand to us.





Friday, July 25, 2008

Besides the Homecoming...

...there has been lots of other good stuff this week. I feel like life is so pleasant these days!

One big event this week was a Paint, Draw, and Be Merry class that Josiah took at Blue Ridge Community College, as part of their Learning Can Be Fun summer kids' classes. (I'm not sure what I think of the "Learning Can Be Fun" title. If it was up to me, I probably would have called it, "Learning Is Fun"...but I guess not all learning is. It just sounds funny to me though to admit that the program can be fun...it might be...or might not, I guess.) :) Anyway, his class was fun; and David, Tobin, and I joined him today for his "art show."

I'm always trying to figure out, "What's his thing? What is Josiah's passion going to be? What is he going to want to pursue? What is he going to be good at? What will drive him in the years to come?" I haven't figured it out yet, but he's got artistic ability in his genes (from his paternal side, not mine at all!) so I always wonder if that will come through more in the days to come. Not to worry though...I'm not being an obsessive mother, pushing him to excel in art at 6 years of age. He's just having fun with it, and that's exactly what he should be doing now.
~ Josiah with his pile of creations to show me
~ Josiah with Miss Jenny (who, I found out today, teaches at a Christian school in the Dominican Republic during the school year and returns to the U.S. during the summer)
~ it was fun to look back at a picture from Josiah's class last year, and compare it to this year: Josiah and David are taller this year, and there's another brother in the picture! :)

Other random pictures from this past week, all part of the pleasantness that is life right now:
~ Jeff fixing the chicken coop as soon as he got home from Israel...his two little sidekicks were not far behind; they didn't want to let Daddy out of their sight for long...plus, the calves waiting to be fed; they are always hungry, it seems
~ the brothers, enjoying the gorgeous weather yesterday evening
~ Josiah thought this cloud was so interesting yesterday, so he asked if I could take a picture of it...the crepe myrtle is blossoming like crazy and adds beautiful color to our yard
~ I must be getting old--either that, or I'm really becoming a country girl: as I drive around, I notice all the cornfields and think how lush they look since we got some good rains at the right time that helped the corn shoot up...and when I see a field that doesn't look up to its potential, I think, "Well, I guess that farmer didn't get his corn planted early enough" or "Maybe they didn't get the rain over here that we had in our neck of the woods"...I don't remember appreciating cornfields quite so much in my earlier years, but this year I think the fields of corn around here (including our neighbor's, pictured here) are just the prettiest thing!

Another happy thing from this week: my weight is down to 149.6 pounds--the first time I've been less than 150 in quite a while! That was a sweet triumph. :)

And two things that have struck me from the world of blogging this past week: first, I could not have invented a better object lesson to drive home a truth to my boys if I tried. Jeanette from Blessed by Baseballs and Bows wrote about an incident with her daughter Elizabeth in which Elizabeth didn't come when her mother called and, to make a long story short, got a bad burn on the bottom of her right foot from walking on hot pavement, which is terrible and my heart goes out to her as I pray for her recovery. However, I shared this story with Josiah and David to illustrate how important it is for them to obey so that they stay under the umbrella of God's protection. I don't mean to imply that bad things never happen to God's people because of course they do. If nothing else, the book of Job makes that abundantly clear. But I do talk often with my boys about how important it is for them to obey so that they stay under God's "umbrella." And sweet Elizabeth's mistake showed clearly how serious and painful consequences of disobedience can be. If you need a good object lesson to share with your kids to drive this point home, you'll find it in Jeanette's blog.

Second, Polly left a comment on one of my recent posts and mentioned that she and I buy our maple syrup at the same place (she knew that from a comment I had left on another blog). With such an intriguing comment, I had to check out her blog. :) So yesterday I read through her Wet Cement blog and realized that even though she and I approach parenting very differently, we both love our children very much and are thoughtful and intentional about how we raise them...and we can still respect each other. It's so good to have respectful relationships, even in Blogland! What has really stuck with me though from her blog is the quote (from Anne Ortlund) that her blog title is from: "God is wonderful about developing our gifts according to His own schedule for our lives. He knows which are the years when there is no substitute for parenting. It's the job that must be done then, not later. It's when the cement is wet." How true is that! The cement is wet, but won't be forever. May I seize these moments and these opportunities before they're gone...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

After the Homecoming...

Life is sweet.

Sometimes I just look at Jeff and smile, as my happiness over simply having him home continues. It's so good to see him sit in his place at the table. It's so good to have him kiss me goodbye when he leaves for work in the morning. It's so good to hear peals of laughter coming from the boys as he tickles and roughhouses with them. It's so good to have him doing his usual Wednesday errands with the boys so they can have that extra daddy time.

Last evening was especially delightful since my parents were willing to babysit for us while Jeff and I had a date. I've really been trying to do a better job of scheduling dates for us (since organizational stuff is fun for me, it basically falls to me to plan babysitters, etc.)...and I find myself very refreshed in our marriage by this simple act of getting away for an hour or two to have uninterrupted conversation. Last evening, we went to a new-to-us restaurant, Clementine's, (and to Kline's afterwards for ice cream for me--Jeff didn't have any--oh, the self control!) while my parents were here with our boys, eating supper, reading stories, and playing Old Maid (David never did get the hang of that game since he would gleefully announce, "I've got the Old Maid" whenever he grabbed that particular card!) :) Over our dinner, I asked Jeff only a thousand questions, plus or minus a few. Now I feel like I really know how his trip went!

We still haven't taken the time to sit down together and look through all his pictures so he can tell me about them, but I have looked through them by myself and wanted to share a few for now. More later...
~ four of the members of his group (Eric, Beth, Loretta, and Steve), standing in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (if I'm not mistaken...and I could be, since pale-stone buildings like this are extremely common there)~ Jeff surrounded by some of the students from the English camp
~ Jeff at the Western Wall, the evening of Shabbat, during their last weekend in Israel

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Aging

Aging is one of the topics about which I could potentially write quite a bit but about which I actually write very little. My reason? Quite frankly, it's too painful. Being so close to my parents and watching them go through the aging process (with much grace, by the way) is a huge blessing, and I wouldn't choose to have it any other way. But it's also incredibly personal and heart-wrenching. I feel like this topic of aging is so raw for me--an open sore that I keep covered to protect myself.

Those who have read this blog for a while know that I'm fairly open about most of my life! Age, weight, details of births, spiritual questions, messy house, parenting problems, etc.--all of these have been written about openly in this blog. But not aging issues. With this post today, I'm going to tiptoe into these waters, but not too deeply.

This morning while I ate breakfast, I read the latest issue of The Shenandoah Journal; and I nearly choked on my bagel when I came across this article by Rev. Hollis Dodge. He writes a regular column called "All People That On Earth Do Dwell," and this particular article he titled "Gravity Has Me." He began with a quote from Jane Sigloh from Like Trees Walking: "So, unless we die prematurely, we have no choice about entering old age." And then he wrote...

After my mother's funeral, we children sat around the home place drinking coffee and picking at a plate of cookies someone had dropped off. We drew up a list and divvied up chores, from donating clothes to the Salvation Army to contacting a realtor.

"Well, now that Mom & Dad are gone, I guess we're the old folks now," my brother piped up.

Then in our forties, we "kids" chuckled at his quip, but deep in our marrow we acknowledged the truth. We had become the point of the plow, cutting a furrow through time--and in our wake came our offspring, fresh-skinned innocents, buffered against mortality by us, their elders. Quietly, while sitting at the table where we first tasted pabulum, my brother, my sister, and I succeeded our parents.

It was a grave affair, our attainment of gravitas. We juniors advanced in rank with beating hearts and thinning hair, and we assumed our station as the new family figureheads. Now we became the repositories of family lore, the keepers of recipes, and the polishers of family silver. Now it was our attics and basements that collected the effluvium of our children's peripatetic lives, and it was we who chanted the familiar litany: "Come hither. Come hither. Come get your stuff!"

A synonym of gravity is enormity: the breadth of possibility--of escapades awaiting us as we age. Many past-mid-lifers take on new adventures, wrinkles and all. Some acquire children late in life and, like Abraham and Sarah, are so enchanted by such extravagant miracles that they cannot suppress their gleeful laughter (Genesis 21:6). Others care for grandchildren as nearly-permanent residents in their homes and hearts. These people dust off Dr. Seuss books, buy extra batteries for Tickle Me Elmo, and discover once again how painful to bare feet are ball and jacks left on the kitchen floor. Other seniors sail the seven seas and hike the Alps, take up calligraphy or the Alpenhorn, even open yarn shops.

Gravity also means substance, the importance of life, especially after we realize we have fewer years ahead of us than lie behind us. Our lives and our actions bear the imprint of the Kingdom-come (Mt. 6:10, Lk. 11:2), and we want to make the most of them. Henri Amiel, Swiss philosopher and poet, said it well:

Life is short and we have not too
much time for gladdening the
hearts of those who travel
the dark way with us.
O be swift to love!
make haste to be kind!

The reason this hit me so strongly is because very recently, at some point during Jeff's trip, I was thinking about the fact that after my parents die, I'll be part of the oldest generation in my family. Specifically, I had the thought, "I am not ready to be the front line yet." There is a sense of protection that comes from still having parents in this world, and I remember when both my parents lost that protection as their parents passed away. Realistically, I ask myself, "Protection from what?" From life, I guess--and from death! But that's a weak, non-specific answer. In any case, reading Rev. Dodge's words about becoming "the point of the plow, cutting a furrow through time--and in our wake came our offspring, fresh-skinned innocents, buffered against mortality by us, their elders," made me exclaim, "Yes, that's EXACTLY what I was feeling!"

I don't mean to imply by all of this that my parents are close to death's door because they most certainly do not appear to be! But none of us--young or old--knows when that day will come, that supreme graduation from this life to the next. Whether it comes next week or in 20 years, whether my parents or my children or I die first, aging and death are issues that are part of my life.

I'm grateful for the openness we've always had in my family to discuss such things. With Dad being a doctor, death was a reality that couldn't be avoided, of course; but even my mother didn't shy away from such topics. I remember her telling me things about my grandparents' aging process as my mother cared for them, and even now she will tell me her perspectives on her own aging to prepare me for the future because we must "always be prepared!" :) People didn't used to talk openly about such things, I guess; but I'm extremely appreciative for my family's ability to discuss end-of-life issues. It's nice to not have to dance around these topics and walk on eggshells with each other. Despite that, it is a sensitive place in my heart, a part that I keep guarded because of the intensity of thought and feeling associated with it.

~ my parents in Florida this past April
A note about the name of this new category of posts: my friend Julie ended one of her recent blog posts with this sentence, "This is the short life." It struck me at the time, and has stuck with me since, as such a succinct way to express a profound truth--essentially, a summary of all the sobering truths expressed in Psalm 90. This really is the short life, and I pray not to forget that the long life--the real life--is waiting for us on the other side of the door we call Death.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Celebration!

He's home!!!!!!!

Yesterday, about 4:30 p.m. he arrived in town; and the boys and I jumped in the van to go pick him up. I don't think there was a happier carload of people driving around anywhere in Harrisonburg yesterday! (Well, Twila Yoder might have been kind of excited to have her husband back, too...but I still think the eagerness in our car surpassed hers.) :)

Despite his fatigue from the trip and the inevitable jet lag, Jeff hit the ground running. The first thing he did when we arrived home (even before he went into the house--can you believe it?) was to take some wire up to the chicken coop to fix that little "issue" we were having there. :) Also last evening, after a supper of tacos (we had to get that into his system immediately, since he certainly didn't get his usual dose of Mexican food while he was gone), he headed off to a church meeting he had--but that he wasn't expected to attend at all! However, he wanted to be there, so we all went together; and the boys and I had fun on the playground while he had his meeting. It just so happened that some other children of the church were there, so it made it extra special and fun for my boys to have companions while we were waiting.

This morning Jeff was at the barbershop by 6:00 a.m. (they open at 7:00 a.m.) to get set up and caught up there. After a full day of work, he came home to supper here with our neighbors. We had 12 around the table (and Tobin in the highchair), and we all listened eagerly to Jeff's stories.

I think hearing his stories has been one of the most fun things for our family during the past 30 or so hours. I was incredibly grateful for the email communication we were able to have during his trip; but there's nothing at all like sitting around the table together, eating a meal, and listening to him share story after story. We're all eating it up.

I love this picture of him in Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock in the background...but oh, I so much more love the sight of him asleep on the couch in our living room right now...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Days Seventeen & Eighteen - Waiting for Daddy

Waiting is the name of the game these days. With Jeff's return so close we can almost taste it, I marvel anew at how time plays tricks on us--sometimes racing, sometimes dragging, sometimes doing both at the same time.

As I write this, Jeff is in the air, somewhere between Tel Aviv and Germany where they have a lay-over. The last I heard from him was a few hours ago, from the airport in Tel Aviv, when they had cleared security and were waiting to board their plane. I pray for safety, first of all...and beyond that, at least a little sleep for him on the plane. :)

This evening here at home was one of those times when the minutes seemed to crawl by; and I finally got to the point of feeling like, "Hey, would somebody please come rescue me?" :) Josiah had gone to play with the neighbors, and David was finding it hard to be entertained without his big brother. Even Tobin was a little grumpy. The solution was simple: I asked my mother if she and Dad would like to have a movie night at their house with their youngest two grandsons...oh, and could they please provide the popcorn as well? :) Why yes, Mother said, they certainly could! And what's more--she thanked me for asking them. "We don't know when and how you need help," she said, "so we want you to let us know what's going on and ask us when you need us!" I often feel a bit reluctant to ask because I don't want to impose on them or take advantage of their hospitality and assistance, but I am learning to simply open my mouth and ask when I feel like things are going downhill. I've got the best parents! :) With their help, the evening passed splendidly...and three tired boys got tucked into bed a few hours later where they quickly fell asleep, leaving me to enjoy a quiet, peaceful home.

I suppose this will be my last official picture of the day from Israel (although I'm sure I'll post more pictures from Jeff's trip after he gets back). Here is a sunset over the Mediterranean, taken near Haifa, from March 2005.
And one more video that Jeff sent a few days ago. This was a drum class (?) that was part of the English camp. Wouldn't you love to be this drum teacher? You wouldn't? Nah, neither would I. I'd rather keep my hearing! :)

video

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mom


I knew this day would come--the day when I would become "Mom." Just plain Mom.

Apparently Josiah decided that the time was right for him to grow up a little more and drop the "Mommy" name for me. Only problem is...I liked being "Mommy"! Honestly I much prefer a sweet little "Mommy" or a dear "Mama" (although my boys have never really called me that, except for when they've babbled as babies) or "Ima" (Hebrew word for "Mommy") or even an affectionate "Mother" over "Mom." "Mom" seems so teenager-like (to clarify: I like teenagers; I just don't want Josiah to be one yet) and blah.

Maybe Josiah knew I needed a little time to transition into this change because he's been warning me that it's coming. "I think I'll call you 'Mom' and call Daddy 'Dad,' OK?" he's said a number of times during the past few weeks. "OK," I always mumbled compliantly, but then secretly rejoiced when he forgot to call me by the new name and slipped back to the comfortable and familiar "Mommy." For the past few days, however, it's been "Mom" that's come out of his mouth so it's looking like this change might last.

I don't know why I seem to mourn all these transitions so much. I rejoice in the man (well, the 6 year-old version of it) that he's becoming, and I delight to see the maturing process in him. But when things like this happen, they seem to knock the wind out of my sails for a little while until I can wrap my mind around the new reality and untie the apron strings a little more.

I'll be OK in a little bit, dearest Josiah...just give me time to have a mind change about this. I'll come around. I always do.

Love,
Mom


Friday, July 18, 2008

Days Fifteen & Sixteen - Flying By

Time seems to be flying by these days. Suddenly that paper chain made by Josiah and zealously shortened each day by the boys is looking delightfully short!

Jeff's teaching is over; and in fact, as I write this, he is saying goodbye to his host family and preparing to go south with the team to visit the Dead Sea, Masada, Qumran, then back to Jerusalem for the night before heading over to Tel Aviv on Sunday to spend some time there before flying out early Monday morning for HOME!!!

Jeff sent some more pictures which I was delighted about. Here he is with his host family who have been incredibly hospitable and gracious.
And here he is with one of his classes.
On Thursday evening, the English camp teachers and assistants and host families (and probably others that I'm leaving out) had a potluck and celebration/ceremony, with delicious food, Arab dancing, etc. Once again, the local news covered the event. For LOTS of pictures, click here. To help you spot him, I'll just let you know that Jeff is NOT wearing red silk pants, in case you suspected that he might have been transformed into a dancer by all this time in the Middle East. :) (He's actually wearing a blue shirt.)

Pic of the day from Israel: looking towards the ocean in Tel Aviv. This picture seriously makes me long to be there, walking along the tayelet (promenade)--a place where we spent countless hours when we lived there.
As has been our custom during Jeff's absence, we've been keeping ourselves busy and have had lots of fun activities the past two days. Our friend Janet Blosser from church invited us to go to the park with her yesterday. She packed a scrumptious picnic lunch for us with all the things two young boys would like to eat (and even garden-fresh mint tea and tomato sandwiches for me!), gamely chased the boys around the kids' castle at Purcell Park, carried Tobin to give my arms a break while twisting through narrow openings and climbing numerous steps...then topped it all off by treating us to Kline's ice cream at the end. What a treat! :)

Last evening, just about the time I was looking in the refrigerator and wondering what on earth I was going to serve for dinner besides leftover lentil stew, Dad called and asked me if I would like to go to Country Cookin' for dinner. Would I?! The boys and I were all delighted to go to Plan B for the evening, and we had a wonderful dining experience--literally, one of the best there in recent memory. First of all, our server was Maria Yoder, the daughter of one of my high school teachers; and it was fun to meet her and chat a bit. Second, David was a hungry little tiger and gobbled up his first plate of food, actually wanted more, then with my help ate a second plate of food. (Just so I'll remember in years to come what David, at this stage of life, likes to eat at Country Cookin', I'll mention that he ate cold kidney beans and grated cheese from the salad bar and corn, green beans, and pinto beans from the veggie bar...think he had enough beans?...but hey, that's what he likes!...Josiah, on the other hand, goes heavily towards the fruit when we eat there, although he likes plain romaine lettuce as one of his food choices, too...someday I'll take my camera and take a picture of each of our plates because we're all so different!) It was so refreshing to actually see David eating heartily, rather than sitting and lingering and having to be persuaded to eat his food. Third, Tobin was a happy camper the whole time. He sat in the carseat and looked around at everything but didn't fuss a bit. Usually when we're there, my dad (who is a fast eater and finishes first, unless Jeff beats him) ends up holding Tobin when he gets restless in his carseat and carrying him around while the rest of us finish. But last night was just so relaxing with everyone being happy and content. :)

Another historic moment from last night that Josiah wanted me to mention: he offered to help David get buckled in his carseat when we got in the van--a first. Since both Josiah and David had their carseats in the back seat of the van, it was a little awkward to reach back there to buckle David; but I had not made any effort to teach him how to do it himself. I was grateful for Josiah's offer of help (although, of course, I would check David's straps, too, to make sure they were done properly)...but then, even better, David learned how to buckle himself! I've written before about how tired I sometimes get of buckling and unbuckling carseats, but recently I've usually had a much better attitude about it and haven't tried to jump ahead to the next step of Josiah and David both being able to take care of themselves in that area. But let me tell ya, if they're ready to make that leap, I'm ready, too! :)

Yet another historic moment happened today, and this time I had my camera handy so I could capture it for posterity. Josiah, for the first time, fed some baby food to Tobin! He asked if he could, and, well, who am I to say no? :) So I let him have a go, and he did well! He didn't end up feeding the whole serving of oatmeal to Tobin, but he did sit there for a while and shovel it in. If he keeps this up, I'll just be able to sit around and put my feet up while I watch him take care of everything! ;)

After reading on this blog that Josiah had done a 100 piece puzzle by himself, my parents dug around in their storage in the basement of my dad's office and unearthed a box that had quite a few puzzles that we had done as children. I had forgotten all about them, but fortunately my parents had not...and they brought them up to our house for Josiah to enjoy. He jumped right in and did this puzzle this morning while...
...my friend Nell-Marie was here visiting. She just had a baby, beautiful Anna, a few weeks ago; but oh my, she is so on top of things, sending out beautiful birth announcements and handmade thank-you notes, getting out and about with two children, etc. I'm impressed! :) I thoroughly enjoyed the time we had together, just sitting (on the floor--where else?) and chatting about life and childbirth and kids, etc.

In between these various events, the boys and I have had time here at home to cuddle and play games and read books and blow bubbles and visit with the neighbors and swing and--groan--chase and capture a chicken who seems bent on self-destruction, as evidenced by its insistence on getting out of the safety of its pen to wander dangerously close to Molly's jaws. It happened last night and again this evening, but I'm getting smarter. The first thing I do is tie up Molly. The second thing I do is enlist help to stand at strategic places to halt the chicken's advance in those directions. Then I move in slowly before pouncing on the silly chicken and tossing it back into the pen. I feel a little dumb when I admit this, but I didn't realize chickens could fly so high. We're going to have to take some drastic measures to rearrange the chickens' living quarters so they can't get out. At least Jeff will be back in a few days and will be able to deal with it much more effectively than I. Hurry home, Jeff, we need you to fix the chicken coop...and for a few other reasons than that! ;)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day Fourteen - So Glad...

...to have had a fun outing to Riven Rock park with other families from our church this morning. The boys and I had a fantastic time and would have stayed longer, except for Josiah's dentist appointment this afternoon.


...for helping hands that made the job of caring for three boys during our outing this morning so much lighter.


...for Jeff calling this morning!!! It was the first time since he's been gone (which has actually been just fine because we've had so much email contact), and we weren't even here to take his call since we were playing in the river at that time. But it was so nice to hear his voice again, and I saved the message so we can play it over. :)


...that Josiah's dentist appointment this afternoon to get a little cavity filled went so well. It didn't take long, and he got his usual compliments from the staff about being such a good helper. He told me he was nervous about it beforehand, but tonight he was telling someone that it tickled when the dentist "painted" his teeth. I'm so grateful that he has had such good experiences with the dentist.


...that I got to snooze on the couch for a little while late this afternoon while Tobin was in bed, Josiah was quietly playing a game in the living room, and David was "eating" (or rather, looking at his food to see whether it was still there). I was so sleepy and felt like I could have easily fallen asleep in the waiting room of the dentist's office! At home, I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the couch. :)


...for our small group meeting tonight at the Wampole's house. They have the biggest, coolest treehouse I have ever seen in their backyard; it's truly amazing...and since they have two young sons, they have lots of other toys which entertained my boys completely. Plus, the Millers brought homemade chocolate ice cream which rivaled, in my opinion, Kline's chocolate--can't think of a higher compliment than that. The picture below was taken by Amy, and shows a timid (not his usual modus operandi) David holding a sparkler. It's a good thing she took this picture fast, because the moment didn't last long. I thought David was going to throw the sparkler at Mike in his haste to get it out of his hand! ...to have our neighbors home from the hospital! SO, SO GLAD to see Marlene again!!! To see her running out of her house across the lawn to welcome us tonight seemed nothing short of a miracle! They got home this evening; and although Marlene will have to continue to take some anti-seizure medicine for some time and is continuing to have a little trouble focusing her eyes, she is fine! FINE!!! In the end, the diagnosis was California encephalitis which she apparently got through a mosquito bite. What an experience! Josiah, my little tenderheart, was emotional about it all tonight. He was so happy to be over at the neighbors seeing Marlene again; but when we came back over here and he was tucked in bed, he put his head under his pillow and cried. I was getting David ready for bed so I couldn't go to Josiah right away, but he came to me and I held him on my lap in the glider rocker and we talked about the possiblity of death and God's power over it and the fear we sometimes feel. He didn't want to go back to his own bed because he wanted a place away from me and David and Tobin where he could cry, so I told him he could go down to the living room to the couch there. After I got Tobin nursed and in bed, I checked on Josiah and he was sound asleep on the couch--an exhausted (from the day's activities and from the emotions of Marlene's ordeal) little boy.


To close for tonight, here's a picture from the shouk in Tel Aviv. I loved this place, but it also drove me nuts sometimes! So crowded most of the time with people who are not...shall we say?...known for their politeness. I had to be mentally prepared to go here, or else I would come out utterly frazzled!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Days Twelve & Thirteen - With Pictures from Jeff!

It's much too late at night for me to attempt to formulate and record my thoughts in any way that makes sense, so this will be succinct tonight--mostly pictures and captions.

I was very, very happy to get some pictures from Jeff today! I love him...sigh. :) Josiah picked up right away on the fact that Jeff is wearing a floppy hat in these pictures. Jeff used to have one of these when we lived in Israel, but somewhere between here and there it disappeared. He was wishing that he had one before he left on this trip but wasn't able to find one in the short amount of time we were devoting to shopping in preparation for his departure. Josiah surmised that he must have found a place to buy one in Israel. :)

The first three pictures are of Jeff on the cliffs of Arbel, a prominent geographical feature near the Sea of Galilee and a fun place to climb around and explore.

~ the Sea of Galilee is visible on the far right in the above picture
~ Jeff and Eric relaxing in the shade...in such a climate, shade is CRUCIAL...it's amazing what a difference it makes to find a bit of shade in which to cool off

This is a picture from a newspaper that includes an article about the English camp and a picture of the camp that shows three of the team members and a number of students. To see more like this, go to this site. What? You can't read it??? Oh, well, enjoy the pictures at least. :)

Here are two pictures from Banias, one of my favorite sites in Israel. There is a stream here (which actually flows into the Sea of Galilee) and a waterfall, not a common thing in Israel! Reaching this spot demands a certain amount of exertion, but it's well worth the sweat! :)



This picture, obviously taken out of the window of their van, is of people riding up the ski lift at Mount Hermon which, at this time of the year, doesn't have snow on it, but definitely does in the winter. Israel is a lot more varied geographically than most people realize. Whereas the majority of people seem to imagine hot, sandy deserts when they think of Israel, the country actually includes very fertile agricultural areas, gorgeous oceans and seashores, and--yes--a mountain on which to ski.

This is at Nazareth Village--shepherds in the watchtower.


And, for Jeff's sake, a few pictures from here. Last night, I had the fun of going out for dinner with my friends Julie and Misty. We three were pregnant at the same time, with Misty giving birth to her daughter Elissa first and Julie delivering Mairi only 5 weeks ago. It was so nice to have some girl time with them, and I was especially blessed to have Julie's daughter Shannon keep my boys while we went out. Josiah did this 100 piece puzzle this morning all by himself. I've done it with him once, I think; and Shannon did it with him last night. But today he did it all and was proud of himself. It was definitely worth the 75 cents I paid for it a while back at good old Gift & Thrift. :) In the past, Josiah has enjoyed puzzles, but never been obsessed with them. Seeing him do this one though reminded me that I should be on the look-out for more puzzles for him.

And now, some pics of the day from when we lived in Israel. These are all from the school (a public junior high school) in which Jeff taught English for 2 years.

~ the entrance

~ the security guard that manned the gate...he was always asking Jeff to bring back a certain kind of shoes and a certain kind of alcohol (can't remember what kind for either of those categories) for him when we went on trips to the States...he thought he could get a good deal on those things by purchasing them outside of Israel ~ some of the students during an end of the year trip to a park in Tel Aviv that had a lake on which they could waterski