Sunday, August 31, 2008

Simple Sunday - Donna

~ thankful for my beautiful sister Donna...and her affectionate love for my boys ~
* photo taken yesterday during a short visit (they're always too short!) with her

Friday, August 29, 2008

On This Day... year ago: we found out we were having a BOY! And now, this boy is such a part of our lives that we can't possibly imagine life without him.
He soaks up love and affection, then pours it all back onto us, leaving each of us richer and better and more abundantly filled than we were before.


...two years ago: David walked for the first time! At 16 and 1/2 months of age, he finally walked; and we weren't a bit worried because his big brother hadn't walked until 18 months. Funny how the same thing the second time around isn't nearly as much cause for worry--one of the truly wonderful things about having more than one child!


...three years ago: we were planning to leave San Diego after our extended vacation/family time there upon our return to the States from Israel. We were getting ready to set out on a several-week journey across the States to Virginia, stopping along the way to visit a number of friends and family members, speak in several churches, and enjoy a few scenic stops on our way across this beautiful country. Unfortunately, some of us were sick so we extended our time in San Diego and made adjustments to our cross-country schedule to allow for a later departure with the same arrival in Virginia. That change let us have this day with family, pictured below--Jeff's sister Kim holding Baby David with her son Sebastian and Josiah also on the couch. Those weeks we spent with them were a really special time, and we long for more of it. We miss them a lot!


...eleven* years ago: we were enjoying life as newlyweds in beautiful southern California. Among other things, I wrote in my journal that Jeff worked a half day; and in the morning, he went to Southwestern College to look into taking a class, but nothing worked out. (Since then, he's gotten both a bachelor's and a master's degree so I guess he didn't really need a class there.) ;) While he was gone, I had a great time playing the piano; then we had lunch together when he returned. After he left for work, I spent the afternoon beginning to organize my pictures--a fun project (and one which I still haven't completed). :) I also called Lisa in Florida, one of my college roommates, and had a good talk with her. On his way home, Jeff picked up milk at the store and surprised me with three kinds of berries! (I really think my love language is food.) We ate a supper of turkey cutlets, boiled potatoes, gravy, pasta salad, honeydew, and the berries from Jeff; then I played the piano for our neighbors who were listening in the courtyard outside our townhouse; and then Jeff and I listened to a tape by David Bercot about salvation.


...twelve years ago: I was preparing to return in two days' time to Messiah College for my senior year. My sister Donna dropped by in the morning to see me (which is interesting because she happens to be asleep right now in our guest room, having driven in this evening from her home in Ohio). Mother and I went to town: took stuff to drop off at the recycling place, went to Harrisonburg Honda (probably for my Accord to be serviced, although I didn't make a note in my journal about why), dropped by Bridgewater Church of the Brethren (probably to see if I would like to get married there--I wasn't engaged yet, by the way), went to C.K. & Associates Bridal for my second time of trying on wedding dresses (did I just mention that I wasn't engaged yet?). Unfortunately, Mom got a bad, sick headache so I brought her home, then ate some lunch before heading back to town to hit the two happenin' places around here: the Mall and Walmart. (Well, the Mall used to be a happenin' place--now? not so much.) Later, my dad and I picked up the Honda, I put pictures in an album (hey, I did this a year later, too!), then I went to Mrs. Byler's (my former piano teacher) where we had a great visit. The last thing I noted in my journal for that day was the huge slugs on her walk as I left. I didn't write it down, but I'm hoping I got a good night's sleep that night because the next night, Jeff called and we talked for four hours, until 2 a.m. Crazy lovebirds. ;)


I wonder what next year's August 29 has in store for me??? :)

* I realize there's quite a gap between three years ago and eleven, but I just don't have journals to fill in all that space. I've been a sporadic journaler through the years and wish now that I had journaled more consistently, but even the bits and pieces I do have convince me again of what a treasure it is to have thoughts and events written down so that, through those words, I can return to former times and recall things I never would have been able to remember otherwise!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Too Busy Having Fun...

...putting up fall decorations to blog much tonight.
I know it's technically not fall yet; but around these parts, it seems like the weather has conspired to make it feel like fall is here in force. "Aha," it says, "if you're going to start school already, I'll just go along with it and pretend that fall is here. No more summer weather for you!" That, however, remains to be seen as we could potentially still have hot weather in the next month or so; but I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed the cool, rainy days we've had this week.

Before I sign off for the night and go play with the decorations, I did want to include a few pictures of my favorite 7 month-old (who also happens to be my favorite 3rd son, as well as my favorite Tobin in the whole world!). Doesn't he look relaxed in these arms?
And whose arms are they? Why, Grandpa's, of course, who happens to be one of Tobin's favorite people!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grateful for a Good Deal

One of the items on my "back-burner shopping list" (not the top of the priority list for spending money on, but something I'd like to get someday) has been another set of sheets for the boys' beds. We really only have one set per bed for Josiah's and David's beds: a dark blue one for Josiah and a dark red one for David. Incidentally, I once tried to switch them and give Josiah the red and David the blue, but that didn't go over very well. Are these boys creatures of habit or what? ;) We do have one extra set of sheets that fit their beds: an almost ancient set of white sheets that have shrunk enough to be quite a good strength exercise when stretching them around to each corner of the mattress...either that, or a test to see how much frustration one can tolerate without resorting to angry mutterings when one side of the fitted sheet gets tucked in as the other side pops out...and around the bed we go to continue the high-impact sport of making beds with too-small sheets. There's nothing like a little anger to get the heart pumping.

To avoid that detestable situation, my usual mode of operation has been to take the good sheets off the beds in the morning, wash and dry them, then return them to the beds before nightfall--consequently, no real need for extra sets. It wasn't terribly convenient during times of sickness of the stomach-bug sort or when David wet the bed (which still occasionally happens, although he's doing tremendously in this area...he'll love reading this when he's 50, I'm sure); but I was having a hard time justifying the expense of new sheets when there were other needs in our family--and, of course, in the world!

Recently, however, we got an advertisement in the mail, including a gift card for $10 off anything at Kohl's. On the day before it expired, I finally got a chance to go in there; and look at what I found! A red sheet set drastically reduced which I could use the gift card for and therefore purchase for a grand total of...are you ready?...$3.66. I was thrilled! :)
From the original price of $34.99 (plus tax)... my cost of $3.66. It couldn't have worked out better!
Sometimes it's just the "little" things like this that make me pause and breathe a "thank you" to the Arranger of every detail, the Orchestrator of every moment of my life.

Monday, August 25, 2008


When my mother made her way up the hill to our house this afternoon, she announced cheerfully, "I have a peach pie in the oven. Would you like me to bring it for dinner?" Would I?! No question about it, since Mother's peach pie is one of my all-time favorite pies and, despite the six bushels of peaches that we've canned/frozen/eaten fresh so far this summer, neither Mother nor I had made a pie so I was more than ready to eat one!

Before supper, Dad asked if a picture of the pie was blog-worthy. I had not thought of taking a picture of it since I was preoccupied with simply eating it; but I quickly decided that it was a splendid idea, provided the pie-maker was in the picture, too. Here she is, and here it is...
It's really too bad that blogs aren't equipped with scratch-and-sniff technology--or even better, reach-out-your-fork-and-have-a-bite technology. I'm actually sorry for all of you who weren't here to have a piece of pie with us tonight! ;)

Speaking of bites of yummy food... Jeff bought these fun rising-sun (or setting-sun, depending on how you view things) plates at our favorite store (that would be Gift & Thrift) for 50 cents each last week, and I had a great time today arranging lunch for Josiah and David on them. Why simply eat when you can enjoy? Why just set food in front of children when you can turn it into a celebration? I'm always glad to find new ways to make lunch fun!
On the menu today: cherry tomatoes from the garden, shredded cheese, ravioli, mini pretzel sandwiches, a big pile of freshly-diced peaches, and one cookie with a letter on it. I put the "S" on David's plate because, as I told him, "you're SUPER!" Josiah quickly guessed my thought about the "F" on his plate: he's FANTASTIC!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Simple Sunday - Cardinal at Feeder

~ thankful for birds at the feeder (after a summer of unintentionally "forgetting" to feed them, it's nice to see them back!) ~
Last week, Mamajil suggested in the comments that I set this up with Mister Linky so that others could participate. A great idea...except I had no clue how to do it! :) Well, you learn something new every day (or every week), so I did my best and I think I've figured out how to do it. If you're interested in this, feel free to play along; I'd be delighted to see what others' Simple Sundays look like. But please, no pressure whatsoever. Really. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

If I Ever Do This Again...

... ("this" being having another baby), I plan to do two things differently.

First, I'm going to have a "nap nanny." I got this concept from Lorilee Craker's book O for a Thousand Nights to Sleep (which I previously wrote about here), and I think it's a wonderful sanity-saving idea: to have someone else be in charge of the children when it's time for naps/quiet playtime. One thing I was reminded of during the early months of Tobin's life is that, on a day of utter exhaustion, the only thing worse than no nap is an interrupted nap...and oh my, is it ever worse! I remember times when I worked so hard to get everyone's schedule coordinated so that I would be able to nap, only to sink into bed and fall asleep instantly before hearing someone yell out, "MOM-MY, WIPE ME!" or some such urgent need. Up to do the task at hand. Back in bed to fall asleep. Up because the baby cried. Back to bed. Up again. It drove me C-R-A-Z-Y. I used to think to myself, "I would be all right if only I didn't need to sleep!" In my temporary insanity, I seriously contemplated how I could arrange things so that I just didn't need to sleep. Because that whole business of interrupted sleep was driving me bananas.

So, if the situation ever arises again, I will beg and plead for someone to be a nap nanny for me, at least a few times a week, so that I will KNOW that I'll be able to sleep. I've found that during periods of extreme weariness, I can make it through even a tough morning if I'm confident that a time of rest is coming. But take away that assurance, and I'm liable to lose my mind. :)

Second, I'm going to pump like a veritable Holstein and store up lots and lots and lots of milk during the early weeks and months when I'm still producing excess. Now that my body has adjusted to how much Tobin drinks, I don't produce a lot of extra; and it's incredibly frustrating to sit for a half an hour or more, listening to the rhythm of the pump, and watching a few drops dribble out into the bottles. During a good pumping session these days, I get 2 ounces of milk. That's pitiful. :) So, the pump and I are not the best of friends these days; but next time (if there is a next time) will be different! Lots of pumping early on = lots of full bottles in the freezer. Because I'm learning that if I don't do it in the first few months, it's just not going to happen.

All of this, of course, is preceded by a great big IF! :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A First Time for Everything...

...and yesterday's first was teaching the boys to wash the car. I had forgotten what an enjoyable task this is, but it all came flooding back to me as Jeff started getting out the supplies: plunging a hot arm into the bucket of soapy water to grab a sponge, seeing progress made as the car transforms from dirty to clean, and--best of all--being the one in control of the hose to rinse the car or, better yet, "accidentally" spray your brother. ;) My brother David and I had our fair share of these moments while growing up, and now it's being passed down. The old circle of life keeps turning.
~ after Josiah saw Jeff pull out this brush, he didn't want to use a sponge anymore because he thought the brush looked like more fun...
~ Jeff used the sponge for a while...
~ ...and David and Tobin sat in the garage and watched it all, taking mental notes, I'm sure, for when it's their turn to do this job :)

~ ah, sweet Tobin, with the gorgeous blue eyes...I'm not sure if chewing on a plastic horseshoe is supposed to bring good luck ;)...but I do know that having you in our family is a blessing straight from God's hand

~ he still loves to suck his thumb and hold something at the same's delightful to notice all his little habits
~ finally, Josiah got to have the hose--the feel of power!

~ I love my license plate :)...Jeff surprised me with this, and I'm so glad he did because, having an unusual name, I never find my name on anything personalized

By the way, I have been delinquent, in the past few weeks, about recording my weight during my quest this summer to lose 17 pounds of baby weight; but I'm not done yet so I want to stick with this (the weight loss and the public accountability!). My weight has been hovering between 147-148 recently, but this morning it was down to 146.4 which made me happy. Less than 7 pounds to go until I reach my goal! :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


A week and a half ago, we ate Sunday dinner at my parents' house; and while the boys played a game of Uncle Wiggly before we ate...
...and while David held Tobin's hand so that he wouldn't reach out to nab the pieces and unwittingly disrupt the whole game...
...I watched them. Just watched. Soaked in the sight of them. Thought of the boys they are now and the men they are becoming.
It reminded me of an essay, "Little Boys," by Marjorie Holmes that I recently read. This is what she wrote:

Your little boy awakes and cries because of a bad dream.

His hot small body clings to you as you sit on the edge of the bed. You feel the firm curves of it through the thin crumpled pajamas. His fat cheeks are moist and the tips of his lashes are moist and fragile, too, against your cheek.

You hold him on your lap and comfort him and know the joy of holding and comforting him, of being his mother to whom he turns when unhappy or afraid.

You think of some fracas in the yard, his demanding in a plaintive howl, "Mummy, help! Billy took my shubble!" And though he is sent back usually to settle the trouble himself, it comes to you with some thrilling sense of wonder and privilege how good it is to be, for this little while, supreme commander of his day. The person omnipotent, who is empowered and entrusted to heal all hurts, answer all questions, meet all his many demands.

And holding and comforting him there in the dark, you think how soon he will be a big leggy boy, remote and roughly shy, not wanting your caresses any more.

And how he will become a man and go away from home and perhaps do splendid things, things of which you'll boast, but in which life gives no mother any real part. How you will become a shadowy figure to him, someone of whom he thinks with fondness and tenderness and concern, perhaps, but no longer vital or essential to him, because that is life's way.

And it comes to you how brief and filled with glory are these early years of parenthood.

How those who are young mothers are creatures of special privilege, for all the trouble and bother and often unutterable weariness we know. How we should live every moment with our youngsters to the utmost, creating bright memories and hoarding them like riches against the inevitable loss to come.

Few, so tragically few of us, have the faintest conception of what other, older women feel.

"This is my son!" they proudly say, taking a photograph from the mantel and speaking of his accomplishments, while we murmur polite admiration.

This night, however, holding your own little fellow, you begin to understand:

He is lost to them. Gone. But in showing his picture to others, speaking of him to people who can't possibly care, they are recreating him for themselves. Bringing back the little boy who woke up crying in the night, who could be comforted, caressed, and held close against his too swift growing up.

These are my sons, I proudly say from the brief but glorious early years of parenthood. These are my sons.

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Grade, First Day

School began yesterday.

I wasn't sure I was ready, but we charged in anyway. :) I think the primary reason I was dragging my feet was because this summer was so much fun, and I was reluctant for that to end. However, the time spent focusing on schoolwork with Josiah yesterday and today has already been enough to remind me of how much fun homeschooling is, so I feel better! Whew, the fun is not ending; what a relief. :)

For the first time, we are using curriculum from Sonlight (with our own variations thrown into the mix). From the beginning of my acquaintance with Sonlight, I've been very excited about it; and the fact that the most common negative that I've heard about it (specifically, that there is so much reading in it) actually sounds like a positive to me has me even more convinced that this is going to be a great homeschool year!
~ I don't think school can begin without the obligatory picture by the front door :)~ all the's fun to remember when school began last year; there have been changes since then!
~ to celebrate, we made funnel cakes (a first for us) for a special breakfast, inspired by Renee's blog (who is, undoubtedly, the Coolest Mom Ever) :)
~ David's shirt got a "little" messy, so off it went
~ breakfast of champions, right? or at least, breakfast of beloved new first-graders!

I don't have any pictures of the regular school stuff we did yesterday, but here are some that show how the day ended...
~ time for swinging with Daddy (it's a good thing we have four swings!)
~ time to paint a little pottery fired in Daddy's kiln
~ time to clean up the many pieces of the Risk game (which makes Mommy happy and is a great exercise in sorting things, right?) :)

I'm so very grateful for the privilege of being Josiah's teacher--just so grateful!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Simple Sunday - Rose

~ thankful for raindrops on roses...and the color pink ~

My dad asked a good question: why Simple Sundays? The reason I started doing this--and plan to continue--is because I like to post something on Sunday, but don't like to spend much time away from family doing it. The idea popped in my head that I could choose one picture from the week, one small thing that brought me joy and for which I give thanks, and share that. I think it will be interesting to look back over a year of Sundays and remember these things in this gratitude journal of sorts that reflects the changing seasons of the year and of my life.

Friday, August 15, 2008


...and the living is easy, as Gershwin penned for his 1935 work, Porgy and Bess. Indeed, the living has been easy in many ways this summer.

Take, for instance, dressing. Shorts and a shirt for Josiah and David are easy to choose, lay out the night before, and slip on in the morning (especially for David as he continues to work on dressing by himself). A one-piece short outfit for Tobin is as easy as can be. My preferred clothing choice has been capris with a knit top. Easy, easy, easy. No lengthy dressing ritual with numerous layers and bulky sweaters. Just cool simplicity. When the chill of fall begins to be felt, I'll be happy to pull out the sweaters; but for now, I'm enjoying the ease of summer dressing.

Here's another example: eating. In the summer, it's easy to include simple foods such as fresh sliced tomatoes from the garden, fresh corn-on-the-cob, fresh cucumbers sprinkled with salt, fresh diced peaches from the orchard a few hills over. Fresh, simple, healthy, delicious. It must be the easiest season of the year in which to prepare meals.

Here is one of my favorite foods of the summer--Caprese Salad. I first started making this when we lived in Israel and bought fresh produce from the shouk, the outdoor market. It's even nicer to use fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden for this, and I do declare that I could happily eat this salad at least a few times a week all summer long without growing tired of it. As it is, I seize every excuse to make this. Company coming for lunch on Sunday? Let's make Caprese Salad! :)

The recipe is simple:
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/3 c. slivered green olives
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients, and--presto--a scrumptious summertime salad!
The other easy-as-pie aspect of summer that I've been thinking a lot about recently is the evening entertainment. These summer evenings have been a gift--cool after the day's heat, the light lingers outdoors and so do we. Petting the dogs, playing in the sandbox, pitching baseballs, swinging, eating ice cream, playing badminton, chasing lightning bugs. What could be easier--or more fun?

One evening, in particular, stands out in my memory. This occurred back in June, I think; and for some reason, Jeff was indoors and I had the three boys outside. Tobin and I rocked in my birthday swing, while Josiah and David tried to catch lightning bugs. I started singing old camp songs that I learned around the campfire at Highland Retreat when I was a girl, and gradually Josiah and David drifted closer to listen and we all stayed outside until after dark, enjoying the evening and the extra time spent together. I treasure these days...and these summer evenings.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

County Fair

Going to the fair is something I literally look forward to all year long, and today--finally--the day was here for us to go! It was youth day so the kids were free, and it was Jeff's day off=two reasons that we always go on Wednesday. It was such a good day...just wonderful. I'm so happy. :)

One of the things I most enjoyed this year was having time to walk through all the exhibits and really look at things. Jeff and Josiah and David all had armbands to go on the rides as often as they liked; and of course, that was a highlight for the boys. Fortunately for all of us, I was able to watch them ride a little while, then take Tobin and go off to do my own thing. I know looking at all the exhibits isn't the most exciting thing in the world for 6 year-olds and 3 year-olds so I try to be sensitive to that and not prolong the "agony" for them. :) Oh, but it's not agony for me!

Tobin did so well today! He was happy to be wheeled around, taking in the sights (and even falling asleep for a short nap). It was a huge blessing that he was so content; if not for that, we probably would not have stayed at the fair nearly as long as we did.

Every year I think, "Next year I really want to enter some things in the fair," and the next year rolls around and I don't get around to entering anything. This is becoming a familiar pattern for me. But next year I REALLY want to enter something! :) And I want to help Josiah enter something, too. Can somebody remind me next summer? ;)

On to the (lots and lots and lots of) pictures!

I gave Tobin the piece of lemon from our fresh lemonade, and that entertained him for a while. He's at the very fun stage of being occupied by "normal" stuff as he holds and turns and chews and thoroughly examines whatever is placed in his hands!
~ "hmmm, what IS this?"
~ "let me inspect it from a different angle"
~ "oh, wait! they're taking a picture of me again...I'd better drop this weird yellow thing and put on my handsome face for the camera!"
~ the rides, the rides! highlight of the day for two members of our family :)
~ I think it was unanimous that the merry-go-round was the favorite fact, when it was time to go and we told the boys that they could choose one more ride to go on, they chose the carousel
~ I remember Josiah riding in this last suddenly David is old enough to go in it, too...when did that happen?...I had lots of flashback moments today: "last year I remember sitting on this rock, sharing a snow cone with David while we waited for Jeff and Josiah to finish with the rides, and now David is going on the rides, too!"..."last year I remember indulging my pregnant appetite in a bloomin' onion, and now Tobin is born and here with us!"..."last year David was my little one that I pushed around in a stroller, and now he walks on his own and I push his baby brother!"
~ Jeff and the boys getting very dizzy on this spinning ride...Jeff was good at getting it to spin very's probably a very good thing I didn't go on it because I'm not sure I could have handled it :)
~ there was one tree at the fairgrounds whose leaves had turned red already, with just a few green ones remaining...I thought it was so pretty
~ vegetables and colorful
~ flowers...more color
~ I thought the head of this turkey was one of the ugliest things I've seen in a long time...if you know me well, you know that looking at certain things makes me feel kind of's some kind of strange neurological condition, I bet, but I've never met anyone else with it or anyone who can explain it :)...anyway, seeing this turkey head really bothers me...the bumps and unevenness...oh, isn't it terrible?...don't you just want to pick off those bumps and smooth it all out???
~ these are chickens...really, they are
~ one place that Tobin and I strolled while the others enjoyed the rides was through the livestock barn...these sheep were funny..."no, little lamb, that green frog of Tobin's is most definitely NOT green grass for you to eat!"
~ this one eyes the stroller curiously, then...
~ tries to eat it...Tobin is blissfully unaware of the whole proceedings and instead concentrates on practicing his synchronized thumb-sucking and toy-holding
~ these little ducks (well, different ducks every year, of course) are one of my absolutely favorite things about the fair...each time one marches up to the top of the hill, stretches out his neck as far as it can go to reach the food, then loses his footing and slips down the slide to splash into the water, it amuses me anew...Josiah and David like them, too :)
~ "what was that about synchronized thumb-sucking and toy-holding? I think I'll try that with a balloon string!"
~ "yep, that feels pretty good...I'll just ignore this noisy rooster behind me and focus on my grip"
~ one thing we HAD to do was get cotton candy, since Josiah had been looking forward to it for days...we all shared a bag, and part of it ended up on David's chin...he looks good in red (sticky, sugary goo), doesn't he? it matches his shirt!
~ during my wanderings, I came upon several old tractors...their lines and overall "character" demanded that I take a picture!
This concludes my pictorial record of 2008's county fair. Do you feel like you've been there? ;)