Saturday, January 31, 2009

Through My Eyes, a Wedding

Two weeks ago was the day of Hillary's wedding. I took tons of pictures, came home and deleted lots, and realized as I scanned through the photos that I didn't take any of the usual wedding shots. I barely got a picture of Hillary and William together! Instead, I entertained myself by taking pictures of who matters most to me--my family--as well as some other random shots just for fun. Next time I go to a wedding, I just might try paying attention to the main actors in the drama! ;)

Here is who and what I captured:

~ Jeff and Josiah waiting for the ceremony to begin
~ David amusing himself before the ceremony by writing in the wedding program (see how well he holds a pencil!)
~ at last, here comes the beautiful bride!
~ on to the reception...I had come equipped with lots of table activities so that no matter how long the wait, Josiah and David would be entertained
~ Josiah takes his coloring very seriously :)
~ pretty colors
~ on our way to the wedding, we had stopped at McDonald's; and in the boys' meal, there was this dog toy (I guess it's from a recent dog movie; obviously, I'm out of it when it comes to the latest movies)...these little dogs were a huge entertainment for the boys, both in the minivan during the long drive and during the wedding and reception...the dogs have largely been forgotten now, but on that day, they were important! :)
~ David at the reception
~ he did his fair sharing of coloring
~ and, in addition to that, he and I put together a small puzzle; but I forgot to take a picture of that :)
~ table decorations (these are oh-so-important pics!) :)
~ more table decorations
~ I caught Gloria, one of Jeff's co-workers, yawning...
~ and then she gave me her beautiful smile
~ Monica, another co-worker
~ and Nikki, also from the barbershop
~ finally! a picture of William and Hillary!~ and one of the napkins :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dinner at the Olive Garden

Tonight, we did NOT have dinner at the Olive Garden. We ate here in our home sweet home and celebrated Family Night in honor of David. At his request, the menu included hotdogs--plain ones for the three boys, but I added gussied-up BBQ ones for the adults--and the entertainment was watching the movie Dumbo. His original desire was to go bowling, but we gently steered him towards an evening at home instead...and a pleasant evening, it was!

However, last Friday evening, we did eat dinner at the Olive Garden; and just thinking about it makes me happy all over in a "how soon can we go there again?" kind of way.Dinner at the Olive Garden was a big surprise to me because, until that very afternoon, I didn't know we even had an Olive Garden within driving distance...well, closer than the 2 hours south of us location that we've eaten at previously. In the barbershop that day, Jeff found out from one of his customers that there is an Olive Garden in Winchester; and when he called me to ask if I was interested in us taking the family and going that night, he was slightly shocked, first of all, that I said yes so quickly. Being spontaneous is not my strong point; but when it's the Olive Garden, all other agendas must be dropped! I checked online to see how far away it was and discovered it was a mere hour and 20 minutes from here--no problem at all. :)

If pressed for a single answer to the "what is your favorite restaurant?" question, I'd have to say the Olive Garden. True to human nature, when we lived in San Diego with an Olive Garden only a few miles from us, I would have said that Cracker Barrel was my favorite restaurant...because there wasn't one closer than Yuma, Arizona! Now that I'm here in Harrisonburg, with a Cracker Barrel conveniently located in town, I've decided that the Olive Garden is really my favorite one. Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Is the food in the far-away restaurant truly better? Apparently so! :)

Besides my obvious delight about the Olive Garden food, I had another reason for being thrilled to eat out that evening. My dad was out of town, and I really don't like having dinner at our house with one of my parents or Jeff missing. If both of my parents are gone, it's fine because I know they're off having fun doing whatever they're doing; and I like the time with just my little family of five. But if either Dad or Mother or Jeff are gone, just one of them, that empty place at the table disturbs me. It's a reminder of what is to come when, in some fashion, our table will become less crowded. Rather than needing to add a leaf to the table like I'll need to do when Tobin graduates from highchair to table and The New Baby takes over the highchair, at some point in time, I'll need to take a leaf out...and set one fewer place at the table...and then another one will be gone...until...who knows? Maybe just one will be left, like my grandmother and great-grandmother experienced in their final years. It all makes me a little melancholy; and when I see a missing spot at the table, it seems so BIG and the void left by one missing person seems so HUGE.

And so, I was very glad to not eat at home on Friday evening when Dad was on his trip...and not eat at home on Saturday evening (because Jeff and I had a date and weren't here for supper)...and not eat at home for Sunday dinner (because my mother fixed dinner for us and we ate at her house). And then, on Monday, Dad returned! Because his flight was delayed and we got home so late, we didn't have a regular, sit-down meal together that night; but Tuesday's supper was especially joyful when every spot around the table was full!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

15 Weeks...

...and all is well! Insert sigh of relief. :)

My 9:00 AM appointment today was rescheduled for 1:30 PM because of the ice this morning, and my knight in shining armor carried me safely there on his gallant steed (AKA his antique Jeep with rusty holes in the floorboard and a passenger door that doesn't quite meet the roof, letting in cold raindrops if they happen to be falling from the sky, which they were today...but you know, it sure is fun to ride in that old contraption; and if you hold your legs in a certain position, they don't get wet--well, not very wet anyway!).

The appointment went quickly and smoothly, and the best part was undoubtedly hearing the sweetly galloping heartbeat--144 beats per minute today which is in the middle range for normal. As we talked about the old wives' tale of heartbeats predicting the gender, the midwife (Donna) said she predicts a boy. I predict a boy, too, as would most betting people, I think, whether they knew the beats per minute or not! :)

My weight was 155.8 pounds, actually down a pinch from my last appointment; and my blood pressure was 134 over 68. I did mention to Donna that the past few days I've had some cramping and just general feelings of abdominal discomfort. Although preterm labor has never been a problem for me in the past, I did want to make sure she knew about it in case she had any advice or showed any concern about it. She told me that one of the other midwives, who had 5 pregnancies, felt that by the 4th pregnancy, she was contracting throughout the whole pregnancy! I vividly remember that I had waaaaay more Braxton Hicks contractions during Tobin's pregnancy than with the first two, so I suppose I might as well expect a lot with this one, too.

As I've been thinking about the possibility of having our fourth son, I was struck by the thought that there's something special about the way a family of children of one gender can relate to a family of the opposite gender. For example, it has always (since we moved here) seemed like the three daughters of our next-door neighbors, the Shanks, are sisters to our boys; and now that we've gotten to know the Sacra family during the past year or so, it also seems like their four daughters are sisters to our boys. I wonder if my sons value those relationships even more because they don't have a sister. I don't know, but maybe? I know Josiah and David tend to be affectionate, but it seems like they have an extra dose of that when it comes to these seven "sisters" of theirs: being oh-so-eager to play with "the girls" (the Shanks) whenever they get a chance to be outside, excitedly embracing the idea of watching Jenny Sacra play volleyball last fall, running to give Emily a hug when they see her at co-op, LOVING their babysitter Kate (a two-way street when it comes to affection, as evidenced by her recent blog post)...and when it comes to Joelle, David thinks the sun rises and sets in her. In fact, he thinks the whole Sacra family should just move into our house and live with us!

Anyway, if this baby is a boy, we will rejoice; and if it is a girl, we will rejoice! Four sons is a great family, and three sons and a daughter is a great family! It's a win-win situation, because God Himself is the author of this little life, and we trust Him completely as a giver of good gifts.

Before I scramble upstairs to warm up by the woodstove before crawling into the comfort of cozy flannel sheets, I want to write about the dress I'm wearing in the above photo. It's the same one that I'm wearing in my week 14 picture, the one taken at Hillary's wedding; and I'm happy to have it, even if it was a surprise. The way I acquired it is that one day a few weeks ago, I went into Gift & Thrift to look for some larger size jeans that I could wear now and also postpartum; and as I was standing in line for the dressing room, I "happened" to be standing near the rack of maternity clothes. Well, I had to do something productive rather than just stand there! So I casually looked through the maternity clothes; and lo and behold, here was this dress. I tried it on, and it fit (but won't in a few months...or maybe weeks!). However, I figured that I could wear it to the wedding and also to church and it would be worth the $4.00 price! So I splurged and got it. :) Since then, I've also realized that I can wear it to our church's Valentine's Day Banquet; and if I find one more occasion on which to wear it, I'll have brought the price down to $1.00 per wearing. I've discovered that sometimes during pregnancy, it just helps a woman's emotions to have a new outfit and feel special in it. I'm not the type to go blow $100 on new clothes--in fact, that doesn't even appeal to me--but I'll take my Gift & Thrift bargains any day...and the emotional lift it brings. ;)

Even though I sometimes feel HUGE for only being 15 weeks along, when I look back at the pictures from Tobin's pregnancy, I can see that I'm actually about the same size as I was then. When I wore this dress to the wedding, some of Jeff's co-workers who were there looked at me and said, "Yup, you're really pregnant!" :) But to me, I don't look any bigger now than I did in this picture from July 31, 2007. Maybe this is just how my body "does" pregnancy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And How Is Homeschooling Going?

I'm glad you asked! But first...

I'm snuggled in a blanket, enjoying the relaxed pace of a snow day--our first measurable snowfall of the winter (although it was only a few inches). Besides the beauty of the snow, I'm also thankful that Josiah's choir class was cancelled so we can sit tight at home, that Jeff is coming home early from work, and that the boys will be able to go outside after a while and play in this much-awaited snow!

But I don't feel completely peaceful; in fact, a general sense of unease has set in and threatens to disrupt the serenity of this day. I suppose it's mostly related to the appointment I have scheduled tomorrow morning with the midwives. I don't even know if I'll be able to go to the appointment, since there's a chance we'll be iced in by morning; but oh, how I long to hear my baby's heartbeat and receive that dose of reassurance that all is well! It's not as if I have any specific cause for concern or any danger sign, but I am aware that a low level of anxiety is running through my body nevertheless. I'm eager for it to be gone.

I was planning a different post for today; but after reading something from the new blog Chasing the Kids by an old acquaintance Valerie, I decided to write instead about homeschooling "stuff." I've been wanting to synthesize some of my thoughts about the current state of our homeschool, so this gave me a good excuse to take the time to do this today.

First, though, a few pictures from about a week and a half ago. Frost on the porch windows can be so beautiful, and I love to look closely at the intricacies of the designs God leaves for us!

As I've written before, we have been using Sonlight curriculum this year for Josiah's first grade year. I've had somewhat of a pendulum swing concerning Sonlight during the past 18 months or so. When I first considered using it and found a great deal on it on Ebay, I was thrilled with how it appeared to me and was completely enthusiastic about using it. I just knew I would love it!

I'm sure it's obvious what's coming; but after beginning to use it, I realized that I really didn't love all of it and there were some things in it that I was going to change (which I did) and that maybe I wasn't so gung-ho about Sonlight after all.

Not surprisingly, the pendulum swung again, except maybe now it's actually reached the happy medium and has stopped swinging. At this point, I see that Sonlight has some really great aspects and some that didn't work so well for Josiah and for me...and that's OK.

Obviously, with homeschooling, we as parents have the opportunity of evaluating how things are going with our children and making the needed changes to best serve them. Not only is this a privilege, but also a responsibility, one that I used to think would weigh heavily on me: "Am I really qualified to best assess what will be most effective for my child? How often do I have to do that? How many times will we have to change boats mid-stream? How expensive will this become to keep trying different curriculums? Why can't I just follow the outline somebody else makes so I can stop thinking so much???" :)

As I've discovered, it's not that difficult. Because I'm with Josiah so much, I quite naturally evaluate how things are going for him as we go through our days. Of course, there are some times of more specific thought and planning; but I've found that it's easier than I thought to tweak my homeschool plans to fit my student. And I'm particularly aware of God's leading in this area since He knows Josiah far better than I ever will and has the ability to quietly drop ideas into my mind when I least expect them.

To get to specifics about Sonlight, here is what I currently love about their first-grade curriculum: the history and the read-alouds. Reading aloud is such a part of our life that we wouldn't have to be nudged by Sonlight to do it, but I certainly benefit from having a plan for it written out on paper; and even more significantly, out of all the read-alouds they've included for first grade, we haven't found a dud in the bunch. Josiah has liked ALL the books, and most of them have been interesting for David as well (although, since he's only three, I've always given him the privilege of wandering off when we're reading). I've enjoyed them, too. ;)

But the history is where I feel like Sonlight really shines! I know that I would not have done nearly as good of a job with history without their plan. They have done an exceptional job of choosing materials and then, even better, integrating those materials so that when we read a chapter in one book about the beginning of Greek history, we also read related pages in an Usborne history book (with such great visuals!) and a book of Greek myths as a read-aloud, etc. As a result of this careful and appealing presentation, history is a winner with Josiah. He and David both often ask me to read more from the history books, and I'm glad to oblige! Nobody ever told my boys that history is supposed to be boring so they're loving it, and they often--completely without prompting from me--later draw a scene from what they know about the Vikings or act out one of the Greek myths. I can't help but smile when I hear Josiah saying, in the midst of play, "I'll be Jason," and then later to David, "Odysseus, come help me fight this dragon!" :)

On a less positive note, here is what I don't love about the Sonlight first-grade curriculum: Bible and language arts. Obviously, this is a personal opinion and should be taken as such; in other words, I'm not saying, "Here's what is not good," simply "Here's what I don't love." Early on in the school year, I simply switched their Bible curriculum for The Children's Bible; and I am pleased with how both last year (when we read through Read-n-Grow Picture Bible) and this year, we have comprehensively worked our way through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, and have gotten an overall view of God's story and plan. The editors of both of these Bibles were sensitive enough to children's issues to not include such "adult" stories as the Levite and his concubine, but they also didn't dance around some of the hard truths of God's righteous nature and His judgment on sin. I liked the balance they achieved, and I can't count the profitable discussions that have been spawned by us reading these two books last year and this year.

For next year, by the way, I plan to use Character Sketches by the Institute in Basic Life Principles as a starting point for our Bible curriculum, augmented with stories from The Book of Virtues, as well as Scriptural texts which Josiah himself will read. I cut my spiritual teeth on Character Sketches (among other books), and can hardly wait to dive into them with Josiah!

About Sonlight's language arts...I found the material they included for first grade to be, quite honestly, boring. Josiah is still at the age where the appearance of something matters; and Sonlight, with its lack of color and graphics, wasn't enticing at all. (I realize at times you just do what you have to do, regardless of whether it's enticing or not; but hey, if we have a choice, why not have a little fun with it, right?) And I found the simple drudgery of flipping through an enormous notebook to get to the right pages a little bothersome. (I realize, too, that I could have gone through the enormous notebook and taken out the language arts papers to put them in a smaller notebook which would have been more manageable; but I didn't do that, so I'm just tellin' it like it is!) For this year, we have used various language arts workbooks that I've picked up here and there; but for next year, I definitely plan to put more emphasis on this and get better prepared with resources that (hopefully) both Josiah and I will enjoy! I guess every homeschooling mom gets a little nervous, thinking about the gaps they might have left--or caused--in their child's education; and I think language arts is a gap for us at this point, but one which I hope to fill next year.

As far as math and science and other topics, they weren't included in the Sonlight curriculum guide I got so I can't venture an opinion on how a truly complete Sonlight system works. But I found it no problem at all to incorporate the math and science we've been doing with the other components of Sonlight. It's quite straightforward, after all, to figure out how many pages of a math book need to be completed each week to stay on track!

Speaking of math, one of the decisions I need to make soon is to figure out which curriculum to get for Josiah for second grade. He's been done with his first grade math for quite a while, and we're eager to jump into second grade to get a head start on that since he really "gets" math concepts very well and is more than ready to move ahead. Now I'm considering Horizons (which I'm familiar with and we've had success with since it worked well for kindergarten) or Singapore Math (which a friend of ours, a math professor at EMU, recommended to us, but which I'm completely unfamiliar with) or to a lesser extent, one of the other common math curriculums (Saxon, Math-U-See, etc.). I guess I need to spend some time on the Internet doing a little research and then make my choice--very soon, I hope.

I'd like to write more, especially about plans for next year; but dinner needs making, the dishwasher needs unloading, the table needs setting...and my best little helpers are currently frolicking outside in the snow, so I'm on my own. :) I'm off to get my hands dirty making Bonnie's Swiss Meat Loaf for the first time. With the cold outside, it's a good night for meatloaf!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Simple Sunday - Brotherly Bonding

~ thankful for the sweet relationship these boys have with each other...admittedly, there are ups and downs, times of peace and times of strife; but we seem to be in a period of them mostly getting along, usually figuring out how to work out conflict without too much parental intervention, and almost always heartily enjoying each other's company...I knew all three of them were close, but I didn't realize just how close until I discovered Josiah and David letting Tobin suck on their toes one day this week...I didn't know whether to laugh or say "ewwwww" I did both, then grabbed the camera to snap a picture before the moment ended :)
~ I was unclear with my blog instructions last week and made it confusing with the giveaway and Mister Linky being on the same day...I'll try to clarify this week by saying if you do a Simple Sunday post on your blog and want to share it, please do so by using Mister Linky to link to that post directly...I LOVE to see what little things (or not-so-little things) my blogging friends are grateful for each week!...besides that, if you have a comment to leave, feel free to do so in the regular comment box...and by the way, I know the Mister Linky box says, "Please leave a comment after linking"...suit yourself on that one; either way is fine with me, and I'll find you regardless :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Resolutions Update

A few weeks ago, I jotted down ten resolutions that I had for 2009, knowing well that the chance of achieving all of them the way I had envisioned was very slim...and being OK with that. Despite my goals and ambitions for this year, I have also felt very strongly that this is a year of grace for me--that all I manage to accomplish beyond basic survival is just icing on the cake. :) So I think I have a healthy balance about all of this.

It is interesting already to read back over my resolutions and make a progress report for myself. There are two specific resolutions that I feel particularly pleased with, as I evaluate my growth in those areas.

The first is Resolution #1--to nurture the Spirit. I have found the time I take each day to do this to be an absolutely joyful experience during the past few weeks, and that's not something I can always say. I think one of the things that has contributed to how well this area is going is that I've been reading some devotional materials that are truly inspiring for me. In general, when I study the Bible, I really like to get out my Bible (or two), some highlighters, some study materials, etc...and because I like to study this way, I sometimes feel a tinge of guilt if I include anything less in my quiet times. However, I've let myself relax in this area and realize the worth that comes from a book such as Meeting God in Holy Places--filled with references to the Biblical text as well as actual locations in the Holy Land which have meant so much to me during my adult pilgrimage with God. Just because I'm not using enough materials to give myself a backache if I carry them too long or take up the whole kitchen table when I spread them out doesn't mean I'm not genuinely meeting God, learning from Him, and growing in my love relationship with Him. After all, Jesus is the Word, and He continues to speak in our present time and circumstances, long after the Bible was "closed." I'm not in any way trying to disrespect the Biblical text or imply that all I need to grow in my relationship with God is the latest Christian fiction book--far from it!--but it has been refreshing to realize that at this stage of life, a daily connection with God through a devotional book is truly life-giving.

Since I finished the Meeting God... book, I'm diving into two other devotionals that were given to me for Christmas. One is Quiet Moments for a Woman's Heart which one of my young friends, Joy Showalter, surprised me with for Christmas (and it was a complete shock!). The other is The One Year Christian History which I had put on the Christmas wish list that I submitted to Jeff (at his request since he finds it much easier to shop for me when he knows what I want!); he did get it for me, but to tell the truth, he forgot to give it to me until a few weeks after Christmas. :) Regardless, it was a nice surprise when he did remember to give it to me! I'm enjoying both of them and finding that they provide a good balance of inspiration and challenge.

On a less lofty note... Resolution #9 is also going well. In fact, earlier this week, I spent several hours in the store by myself late at night going through the aisles and constructing my grocery list. All I need to do now is input the data into an Excel doc, and then I'll be able to check that resolution off the list! I'm finding that it's a very good idea to put an easy, not-very-time-consuming item on the resolution list so that the feeling of accomplishment can be quickly attained. :)

Resolution #7, however, is no better now than it was on January 1; in fact, it's probably worse. That old paper monster drives me NUTS. Oh, well, I've got to leave something on my list to accomplish in February! ;)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

14 Weeks...and a Winner!

First, what we've all been waiting for: the prize and the winner! Here are the various components of the prize: a soft warm scarf from Israel to chase away the winter chill, a book about Gladys Aylward to inspire the spirit (I wasn't familiar with her story until this year, but it's amazing!), some peach mango lotion which is supposed to be energizing (we all need more energy, right?), some citrus aloe soap which is supposed to be revitalizing, a DVD of Love's Enduring Promise which is one of the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke (I loved reading this set of books as a young teen and was heavily influenced, I'm sure, by its view of courtship, romance, marriage, and family relationships), some chocolate raisins (no big surprise there!), and a kitchen towel with a farm scene on it (to remind you that I'm a country girl). Before I send the package off, another small item might be slipped into it: on his way out the door this morning to run some errands in town, Jeff said, "Do you want me to get some more chocolate to include in the prize?" :) If he indeed returns with more chocolate, I'll make sure I include it before I send it off to...
...KRISTY of Loving This Journey! Unfortunately for you, her blog is closed so unless you know her or are already on her approved list, you'll have to miss out on reading all about the adventures of her wonderful family; but I can tell you that she has a zestful life! Kristy and I go way back, all the way to church youth group days. We had completely lost touch but then reconnected through blogging, and I'm so glad we did. Congratulations, Kristy!!! Thanks as well to all of you for playing along; it was really fun, and I actually felt my own heart beating faster as the name was drawn. Who was it going to be?? This was so much fun that I'm sure I'll do it again sometime...maybe next year on my blogiversary, maybe sooner. :)


So, 14 weeks already? That's what the pregnancy ticker says so it must be true! :)

One of the funniest things that happened this week is that Jeff woke up angry one morning. The reason? He had just had a dream in which we were having our ultrasound, and the technician said, "Well, your BOY..." But we didn't want to find out!!! When Jeff reproached her, she tried to backpedal and make it out like it wasn't for sure that it was a boy...but the beans had been spilled and there was no use in pretending otherwise. Jeff wasn't mad because we were having a boy, but simply because the technician didn't honor our wishes to keep it a secret. :)

Two special moments of preparation occurred in the past few days. One was that yesterday, when the boys and I were at our friend Amy's house, she showed us a baby afghan that she's begun making for The New Baby. Early on in the pregnancy, she told me that she wanted to do this for us, and she wanted to know what color I wanted. I went looking for yarn and found a bright sunshiny golden yellow--a color that Amy first considered a "bold" choice for a baby afghan. She admitted yesterday that the more she works on it, the more she likes it. I like it, too--SO MUCH--and I was grateful for a sneak peek at the very special blanket that will be for this baby only (not a hand-me-down)!

Second, when I was shopping by myself late one evening, I decided to go ahead and buy the coming-home-from-the-hospital outfit for The New Baby. Of course, since we don't know the gender, I had to buy two outfits: a blue and brown one for a son, and a pink with hearts one for a daughter. Whichever one we don't use, I'll get to give to someone else who has a baby. Knowing my sentimental nature, I had to have a firm talk with myself to make sure that I will be OK with giving away the unused one. Once I convinced myself that I would only hold it lightly and would be fine with blessing someone else with it, I let myself buy them both. :)

Even though I'm allowing myself to go ahead and dream and buy and prepare, I still feel some caution in my heart. What if this baby doesn't make it? I'm at the stage of thinking that maybe, just maybe, I'm feeling a little movement. In fact, I looked back in the blog to see when I first felt movement with Tobin; and it was at 14 and 1/2 weeks, so it's not inconceivable that The New Baby is actually making his/her presence known through jabs and kicks now. But I just don't know for sure, and I can hardly wait to hear the heartbeat again next Wednesday at my next appointment; I'm more than eager for that reassurance that all is well. If I had a million dollars, I would definitely use a small portion of it to buy one of those "thingies" (good scientific name) that the midwives use to listen for the heartbeat...along with an industrial-sized supply of that gooey gel they spread on the skin first. I might actually be tempted to go a step further and buy my own ultrasound machine so I could just do a daily check of the baby to see how he was doing. That wouldn't be excessive, would it? ;)

Here's my week 14 picture which didn't turn out quite like I envisioned because I forget to tell the friend I roped into taking this picture that I wanted a full-length shot to capture my preggy belly. Oh, well, you'll just have to imagine the rest...and by the way, you'll be seeing this dress again, probably in my week 15 shot, and that one will hopefully include my considerable growth (or girth, both are true).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Wedding

We went to a wedding last Saturday--the wedding of one of Jeff's co-workers (former co-worker now) Hillary to her new husband William. It was held in a quaint old Presbyterian church in an area of Virginia that we're convinced Jeff's sister and her family would fall in love with. Note to self: next time they come to visit us, pack them in the car and drive them there so they can see for themselves what a wonderful place it is. :)

It was a lovely wedding, and I'm so very glad we went. I hope to post more pictures from it at some point, but we shall see about that since I don't always live up to my blogging intentions.

A few things made me chuckle to myself: first, the gum-chewing groom with a gum-chewing best man right beside him. :)

Second, in the program the attendants' names were given as is customary. The designation for one of the women, however, was "Made of Honor." I suppose it's really a good thing to be listed that way; after all, no one would want to be listed as "Made of Dishonor" and neither would it be helpful to list the obvious: "Made of Bones and Muscles and Blood" or even "Made of Body and Spirit." I hope the Maid of Honor was happy to read that someone thought she was composed entirely of honor!

It reminded me of another wedding program blooper I saw a few months ago. In that case, the program listed one of the components of the ceremony as being the "Exchange of Vowels." I do hope someone told the happy couple that they weren't officially married just by sharing with each other a set of "a," "e," "i," "o," "u," and sometimes "y." Rather, an Exchange of Vows is the usual protocol for formalizing a marriage!

Ah, weddings! You can't get through one without some kind of unforeseen mix-up, it seems; and really, they make the best stories later. But with a pre-printed program, don't you think someone would have proofread it?? :)

* I'll announce the winner of the giveaway tomorrow!

Monday, January 19, 2009


* Giveaway update: You can still leave a comment on the post below to be entered for my first ever giveaway; I will announce a winner on Wednesday! I did mention in a comment that chocolate was part of the prize, but I'll also tell you that there's more to it than that. ;) I apologize for how I made it confusing with the Mr Linky thing for Simple Sunday. I didn't mean that you had to sign up there to be entered for the giveaway; but if you linked there and didn't leave a comment, I will still enter you in the drawing. Does that make sense? :)

Splashes of joy in my day:

I was pleased by the sight of snow beautifully falling this morning. I had not heard the weather forecast recently, but I hadn't heard any buzz about snow for today (meaning, my parents hadn't warned me about it!) so this caught me by surprise. But it was lovely to watch it fall as I sat on the couch and read to the boys. We didn't have to go anywhere today so I wouldn't have minded if some would have accumulated. But guess what? Almost as soon as it stopped falling, it started melting. Our temperatures are considerably higher than they had been (up to 40 today, in contrast to the -2.7 degrees my parents spotted on their thermometer a few mornings ago...yes, that's minus 2.7) so the snow didn't last long. It was nice while it lasted!
~ view from our front window as the snow fell
~ snow on our holly


I was pleased by the sound of Josiah reading aloud from Proverbs as we began our homeschool day this morning--a wonderful addition to our homeschool routine. In a God-given flash of inspiration recently, I decided to have Josiah read 6 verses (because he's 6 years old) from Proverbs every morning after I read from The Children's Bible. This kills two birds with one stone: it's great reading practice for him, with varied vocabulary far beyond the realm of some children's books, AND, more importantly, it gets the wisdom of Proverbs into his mind and heart on a regular basis. We started in Proverbs 10 for the simple reason that I wanted to skip--for now--the blatant verses about adultery that are found in the earlier chapters. Not that those aren't worthwhile verses, because they are! But at his tender age, I think it's easier to focus on other topics. Can you imagine the questions that would come out of Josiah's mouth if we read Proverbs 5 together?? :)


I was pleased at supper tonight by the taste of this pasta recipe that I got last July from Sarah's blog. I have been craving Italian food--something different than spaghetti, our old stand-by. This satisfied my craving perfectly tonight; and with the fresh basil and the chopped tomatoes, it brought the taste of summertime to my mouth. My only regret is that we ate it all and I have no left-overs for tomorrow. :)


As I read back through this post, I realized that I managed to hit three of the five senses when I mentioned what pleased me. That stands out to me because just today, I finished reading The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses to Josiah and David. I am a relative newcomer to the world of The Magic School Bus, but the boys are huge fans of it and so am I since I find myself learning tons of info that I didn't remember from my school days! With sight, sound, and taste being covered in this post, I wonder what I could mention for smell and touch?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Simple Sunday - My Blogiversary

~ this is a silly picture of my mouse and computer, but it represents what I'm especially thankful for today: my blogiversary! (didn't know that was a word? don't feel bad; neither does or the spell check on this blog; but if you look around the Internet, you'll find it; it won't be long until Webster himself realizes it's a genuine word!)...after two years and 843 posts, I find it difficult to succinctly put into words all that this blog has come to mean to me...but I am GRATEFUL--for it, for this occasionally frustrating computer in this freezer of a room, and for you, the readers...if I could have taken a picture of all of you, that's what I would have posted for this Simple Sunday :)
In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm going to do a give-away. I haven't done one of these before, but this seems like as good a time as if you're interested in having a package of goodies show up on your doorstep within the next week or two, leave a comment and I'll draw a name out of the hat to find a winner! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Tobin Did on His Birthday

He watched Grandma carry his cake (Carrot Gold Cake from Esther Shank's cookbook, the cake I ALWAYS make for the boys' first birthday...can we all sing "Tradition!" from Fiddler on the Roof?) over to his highchair.
He watched his big brother Josiah take a deep breath to blow out the candle...
...with a little help from the other big brother, David.
He got to eat a few bites of cake which Daddy fed him (he didn't seem too impressed with his first few tastes of cake, by the way).
He was his adorable little self and posed for the camera.
He snuggled with Grandpa on the couch and looked at his new presents from us (two caterpillars that I got at a thrift store--the colorful one at the bottom of the picture is by Discovery Toys; the other one is a LeapFrog alphabet learning one--and a crinkly fabric book that I actually bought new!). :)
He listened to his Aunt Donna wish him a happy birthday through the speaker phone on that funny black thing Grandpa held in his hand.
He played with a colorful gift bag (the best part of a present, after all!).
He got to take a trip to Grandpa's office where he was weighed and measured but managed to avoid a shot because, after all, it was his birthday...and who wants to give a baby a shot on his birthday? Not my dad!
He got to lay on this antique scale and be the newest thing by far in this picture. Everything else--scale, table, carpet--dropped out of the "new" category long ago.
And that is how he celebrated his birthday! :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Maybe This Is Why I'm So Cold

I'm not sure if it's clear in the picture or not (although you can always click on the picture to enlarge it), but our temperature when we got up this morning was 1.

That's right: 1 degree. One measly little lonely degree.

That's the coldest I've seen it since we've moved back to this area, almost 3 and 1/2 years ago. I'm thinking we could use some global warming around here...or, at the very least, some regional warming. And for goodness' sake, if it's going to be this cold, it might as well snow and let us have some fun while we're freezing!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

12 Weeks...13 Weeks...

Me and "The New Baby" as he/she is usually called by us--13 weeks, 1 day:
I didn't intend to go a few days this week without blogging, since blogging for me has become almost as natural as breathing and if I don't allow my thoughts to overflow into typed words, I sometimes feel a little "off." But I've been so tired, just SO TIRED. I keep thinking that since I'm almost to 14 weeks, my energy level should be bouncing back to normal soon. It actually has done and there...once in a while...but always in an unpredictable way, usually departing when I'm right in the middle of a big plan to accomplish something major. And then--poof--there goes my energy, and suddenly I'm dropping on the couch and instantly falling asleep. So much for my big plans.

This instantly-falling-asleep thing is strange for me. When things are normal (non-pregnant), it's not as if I have a difficult time going to sleep; but I'll usually lay there for at least five minutes or so, rolling over a few times, finding a comfortable spot like Jack the bulldog did in the Laura and Mary books. Now, however, I lie down, and I'm asleep. It's that simple--that quick. No matter what time of the day or night, it takes me no time at all to drift off to sleep. Now I know how Jeff feels all the time.

This, by the way, is the reason there is no week 12 photo. The only appropriate one for that week would have been me on the couch cuddled under a blanket fast asleep. No one was around to take that picture during my naps (Josiah can't reach the camera shelf yet); and it's just as well, because it wouldn't have been a very exciting shot.

Other than fatigue, here are my recent complaints--er, I mean opportunities for developing perseverance and maturity (thanks for the reminder, James). Evening sickness was one that I jotted down in my planner last week; since then, it hasn't bothered me so much. I mentioned in my last pregnancy update that the nausea tends to hit me in the evening--still true--but I'm hopeful that I've turned a corner with this one. In any case, it was never severe; and when I think about typical morning sickness, I always count my blessings because I know many women are afflicted so much more severely with this than I have ever been.

Here's a silly complaint: I'm cold so much of the time. The house can literally be 75 degrees in the living room, but walking into the kitchen and feeling the slight change of temperature as I leave the vicinity of the woodstove is enough to make me feel chilled. Down here in the library where our computer is, I feel like I'm in a freezer; and since heat rises and I haven't been able to figure out how to reverse that basic scientific fact, no matter how hot the other levels of the house are, this room will always be an icebox (although I do splurge and turn on the baseboard heater when I'm in this room). When I found out I was pregnant, I thought, "Well, at least this baby will keep me warm during this winter!" But apparently my dearly-loved internal heater hasn't gotten the message because the only way it seems to have affected my temperature is by occasionally making it zoom up and down quickly and unpredictably. I can't get through a day without donning a sweatshirt or fleece, which at some point gets discarded when I unexpectedly break out in a sweat, which then gets put on again a little while later. I don't know when this little guy (or girl, but probably guy) is going to flip the keep-Mommy-warm-all-the-time switch and really start doing his job! Probably in June. :)

The other complaint (last one for tonight, I promise) is that I still fight feelings of being overwhelmed sometimes. A week or so ago, I was reading through some of the blog posts from the days after Tobin's birth; and even though they are incredibly precious to me (because he, of course, is that way), the emotions (not always good ones) came swirling back to me. The ups and downs of the hormonal roller coaster, the effects of sleep deprivation, the struggle to learn how to balance the needs of three boys (and how, in the case of the older boys, to help them rise to the occasion and meet their own needs and their brothers' needs), the slightly crazy things I did back then to try to regain control at a time when I felt like all control was slipping away--all of that was suddenly vivid again. With having these two babies only 18 months apart, there hasn't been enough time for my memory to be washed clean of all the tough and demanding aspects of having a new little one in the house. As I sat and fed Tobin his breakfast a few days ago, I thought, "How in the world am I ever going to do this? What if The New Baby wakes and wants to nurse at the same time that Tobin needs to be fed? Tobin can't feed himself yet (finger foods, yes, but can he survive on finger foods?), and he's used to me feeding him his cereal and helping him hold his sippy cup of milk first thing in the morning when he gets up. I'll have to figure out how to nurse The New Baby while I'm leaning down to get Tobin's cereal out of the cupboard, reaching into the refrigerator for milk, screwing the lid on his cup, etc. OK, that might work; but what will I do if one of them poops???" My thoughts are always completely logical. :)

On to the good stuff. Am I ever ready for it!

My dear unselfish mother lent me a couple pairs of her elastic waist knit pants, and they have helped me through this transition stage of dressing. Plus, I finally decided to go thrift shopping for some larger non-maternity jeans; and I'm so glad I did. Not only can I wear them now without having to constantly yank the handy-dandy "stretch panel" of maternity pants back up, I know I'll also find them very useful in the postpartum time period. Well worth 3 or 4 dollars!

I have to make a note here that last Wednesday, January 7, we decided on a boy's name!!! After deliberating about names all the way to 30 weeks when I was pregnant with Tobin, it seems remarkable that this time, during my 12th week, we've already reached a decision! It will be even more remarkable if we stick with this name all the way to the end because Jeff is good at changing his mind. :) Of course, I'm not going to reveal the name here yet; but I can promise you this: it's a name you've never ever heard of. I'll also give you a hint: it was the name of the teddy bear I took with me to Israel in January 1996. That might be helpful only to one blog reader; and, Michelle, if you happen to read this and, for some strange reason, remember that name, keep it quiet, will ya? ;)

Three specific things have happened in the past few weeks to calm my anxieties and excite my heart even more as I contemplate this new life. First, I've had the thought a number of times, "I've always wanted four children!" And it's true, from early in our marriage when I bought a Christmas decoration with four bear children around their bear mom and dad, I knew that the ideal family included four kids. :) Even though this special fourth one was a surprise for us in the timing, it was anticipated and wanted years ago. So what if I didn't think my last two would be this close in age? I still always knew I wanted four. (To be honest, that number has occasionally been bumped upward as I've pondered the joys of having more children and have thought that five sounded like a good number. The number has even dropped a time or two, particularly a year or so ago, when I thought my trio of boys might be just enough. But overall, four is the number that I have long had in my mind for our family.)

Second, one evening recently as I drove with Tobin to Wal-Mart, I had a moment of peace and joy as I thought about what it will actually be like to hold this tiny baby in my arms right after the birth. My bonding with this little one took a healthy step forward as I reveled in the thought of that first meeting. In that instant, I could picture it clearly; and I felt such love surge through me...and excitement...and-- oh, I can hardly wait!

Third, Jeff was talking one evening and said, "This baby is a God child." He went on to talk about how we've been married for 11 and 1/2 years and even though we've had four previous pregnancies, none of those came at the drop of a hat, so to speak. Why is it that now, suddenly, we're blessed with this surprise pregnancy? Obviously, God's hand is in it. Obviously, God wasn't taken by surprise. Obviously, God has a plan and knows better than we what we need.

Obviously! I'm so thankful.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our Yearling

In the blink of an eye, Tobin is one. How that happened so fast, I'm not quite sure. Nevertheless, the calendar says it is now January 12, 2009; and that means a full year has passed since that indescribable night when he was born. I hope to post more birthday pictures tomorrow, but for tonight here are some recent photos of him that make my heart lurch when I see them because I realize that my baby, my little Tobin Bear, is progressing steadily along the inevitable path of growing up. Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way; but my heart can still lurch, can't it?
~ Jeff took these pictures of Tobin on the rug on December 13...I love his wide-eyed curiosity as he watches the people and things around him so intently
~ at Christmas, my brother brought us this carseat that their youngest son had outgrown, since they knew we would soon need to use our infant carseat for the new baby; and these pictures were taken on January 4, the first time Tobin rode in it...this was also the first day that Tobin didn't have any kind of morning nap; and by the time we were on our way home from good old Country Cookin' in the early afternoon, he was me, he looks so little in this big carseat!...I like the way protective big brother David is watching over him in the bottom picture (taken, by the way, after we got home and were parked in our garage, not along the way somewhere; we may be country, but we do not let our boys wander around the minivan while we're driving) :)
~ another first for Tobin, this one on January 7: after-dinner storytime on Grandma's lap...I'm sure this scene will be repeated countless times during the coming years until Tobin is too big to fit on Grandma's lap!

Happy first birthday, sweet Tobin! You have lit up our lives this past year, and we will never stop thanking God for the profound gift He gave us in you.