Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Things I've Jotted Down

ONLY ONE MORE DAY...

until I get to change my blog header.  :)

And--oh, yeah--tomorrow's my birthday, too!!!

********

As the days fly by, I sometimes hear something that one of the boys says or I notice something that they do, and I think to myself, "I must write that down!"  So into my planner goes a little note about whatever it was, along with a good intention to blog about it, and then...it never happens.

Today, I'm sorting through these random (VERY random!) notes and finally blogging about them! 

Going back in time...

March 18 - Josiah said he wants to have 17 kids...I'd better warn his wife  :)...I'm sure he got this idea in his head from a TV program about the Duggar family that we watched during our mini-vacation...since we don't have a TV here at home, one of the highlights of staying in a hotel for us is watching TV  :)...the boys want cartoons, of course; but during our evening in Virginia Beach, we overruled them and watched a very interesting program about the Duggars and some friends of theirs (another family with 17 kids, I think)...in about 30 years, it will be fun to remind Josiah of this day when he expressed his desire for a LARGE family!

March 16 - Tobin tasted brownies for the first time  :)

March 16 - on the same day, David asked, "Is my tongue a piece of food that got stuck in my mouth?"  :)

March 10 - for the first time, Tobin sat up by himself!!!...at least, this was the first time that I found him in a sitting position; maybe he's done it before when I didn't see him  :)...when I opened the door of his room on this day, there he was in his crib, sitting up and looking around the room so proudly...since then, he's done it a number of times; and for a while, he would sometimes fret after he had been in his crib for a little while but before he was done with his nap or even fell asleep...I would go in and find him in a sitting position--stuck--not sure how to get back to a laying-down position!...now he seems to have the hang of going both ways...Tobin is behind the "average" schedule with this accomplishment, but my boys are always at the later end of the normal range of large motor skill milestones so I'm not a bit worried

March 9 - it was a warm day, and I opened the windows for the first time this year...I am so happy to have windows open, and I miss that fresh air when I have to keep them shut

March 8 - first day this year without a fire in the woodstove

March 3- Tobin got his third tooth!...we were in Colonial Williamsburg, waiting for the guide in this particular building to start her talk; she didn't seem particularly interested in or fond of children (in contrast to the other guides we had encountered there who did an exceptional job interacting with the boys)...Jeff was holding Tobin on his lap, trying to keep him entertained and quiet, letting him gradually slide backwards (and Tobin thought it was great fun to be upside down!), when he noticed something new in Tobin's mouth...sure enough, Tobin's top right tooth had poked through!

end of February - I didn't write down exactly which day this occurred on, but Tobin ate bear for the first time!...we don't normally eat bear, but one of Jeff's customers had brought in some bear meat for him so we all had some of that...Tobin was quite fond of the burger made out of bear and venison meat...I tore off tiny chunks of it, and he managed to mash it up between his gums, and then clamored for more!...I certainly didn't eat bear when I was 13 months old  :)

end of February - I also jotted down during this week that David says "wen" for "then"...he can say the "th" sound if he focuses on it...when he says "30," he very consciously makes the "th" sound and does a very good job with it...but with the word "then," I haven't corrected him and helped him think about the "th" because I've been enjoying his cute little "wen" too much!...he'll say something like, "wen I'll put on my shoes, and wen I'll get my coat, and wen I'll go out with Daddy!"...and I love it  ;)

another thing about David's language development - David was in the habit of saying, "I wuv you," so Jeff started teasing him gently by saying back, "I wuv you, too"...when David heard it, he realized it wasn't correct so he concentrated and said, "I love you" and got it right...now he'll say, "I wuv you and I lllllove you" with a huge emphasis on the "l"...he's a sweetheart!

middle of February - I made a note that Tobin doesn't like applesauce, but does like pizza...whoever heard of a 13 month-old who doesn't like applesauce???...when I slip some in his mouth, he wrinkles up his face and acts like it's the worst thing in the world...silly boy  :)

February 14 - David was having a hard time going to bed and said, "When I'm an adult, I'm going to let my children stay up until midnight every night!"...we'll see about that, dear boy; we'll just see  :)

February 14 - also on this day, I wrote down something that David says once in a while...if he sneezes and nobody says, "Bless you," he'll pipe up with, "What do you say to me because I sneezed?" and then we'll remember and say, "Bless you"...he helps us mind our manners  :)

February 10 - Josiah says, "pregnick," instead of "pregnant"  :)

February 9 - Josiah had some exciting news to report to us, something he had heard from the neighbor girls about a traffic accident or something or other...the "facts" coming from his mouth didn't seem terribly convincing, but he was certainly delighted with his role as a reporter and he said over supper, "Do you think I'll be a news presser?"  :)

February 9 - I saw the first robin of the year, always an exciting reminder to me that spring truly will come again!

January 30 - Josiah exclaimed tenderly to me, "I can almost imagine freckles on your face!"...maybe that's because there are freckles on my face  :)...perhaps they're lighter than they used to be, but I can't imagine that they entirely disappeared...it's been a while since I've really studied my face in the mirror though so who knows?  anything's possible!...I often tell Josiah how much I love his freckles, and it seems that he thinks they're an entirely adorable feature to have  :)

end of January - David bragged to Josiah, "My cup is bigger than yours!"...but quickly added, "But that doesn't make me better"...ah, maybe he's finally getting this lesson I've been trying to drill into both of their heads, that winning a competition (whatever it may be about) is not as important as realizing and affirming the worth of each individual (don't get me wrong: I think some competition is healthy, and it's not necessary to be all about "we're all winners, I'm OK, you're OK, let's never keep score because it might damage your precious self-esteem, etc." all the time...but my boys are competitive to the nth degree, and it sometimes needs tamed down a tad!)

end of January - Josiah made up a song and sang it gleefully, "Narnia, Narnia, is waiting for you!"...I really wish I had captured that moment on video  :)

end of January - one day, David got into the playpen with Tobin; and I don't even know what he was doing, but he made Tobin laugh and laugh and laugh...I often think that the laughter of children is the sweetest sound I know

January 14 - I can't remember exactly what precipitated this, but David said earnestly with big eyes, "I don't want to go to school!"...although we don't know what the future holds and we take the educational decisions for our boys on a year-by-year basis, I do look forward to homeschooling him...I would miss him so much if I had to send him off to school!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tobin Loves to Help

video
In this case, he noticed that David was building a design with dominos, so Tobin eagerly took upon himself the job of handing them to him. I loved how David would say, "Thank you!" and how Tobin vocalized as well, as if to say, "You're welcome, dear brother." :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Simple Sunday - Family Ties

~ thankful for family ties that bind our hearts together, even when time and distance separate us...specifically, I'm thankful for the visit we enjoyed this past week from my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Jay who live in British Columbia...the last time we saw them was almost three years ago, and God only knows when we will see them again...the time they were here this week flew past far too quickly...Aunt Joyce is my mother's youngest sibling and her only sister--think they look alike?  :)
How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
~ Psalm 133:1 in The Message

Saturday, March 28, 2009

10 O'Clock on a Saturday Night...

...is perhaps not the best time to be deciding which songs I'll play tomorrow for the prelude and offertory during our church's worship service.  It really would have been smarter to choose my pieces much earlier in the week, and then I could have actually practiced them!  But instead, I never carved out even a five-minute gap in this crazy week to look through my music and plan for tomorrow.  The only thing that was planned in advance--and the part I'm most looking forward to--is playing two duets with Lily, my piano student, during the prelude.  That will be the musical highlight, for sure.  :)

Now that it's 11:00 PM, it's hardly the time to try to catch up on this past week (which went largely unrecorded because of family sickness--yes, again--and computer sickness--yes, again--and the most joyful reason of all, a visit from some of our Canadian relatives).  Here are two tidbits; that's all I can squeak out tonight...

We went to a homeschool day at the New Market Battlefield today and had a good time there.  Even though it was cool and damp, we did not get rained on (for which I was grateful); and the lighter attendance at the event actually came with a side benefit for us--more personal attention from the staff and volunteers!  The highlight for both Josiah and David was this soldier training in the mock boot camp.  They're such boys.  ;)

Changing the subject, I recently read this quote in the book Quiet Moments for a Woman's Heart:
The beauty of the house is order.
The blessing of the house is contentment.
The glory of the house is hospitality.
The crown of the house is godliness.
~ author unknown

As I look at that list of virtues (order, contentment, hospitality, godliness), I feel a deep desire to grow in all of those areas!  Yet I know that godliness is the one I most need to focus on because, from it, all the others will flow.  It's a ceaseless quest...

That is, until we find our true home in heaven.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Diagnosis...and An Award

As it turns out, the headache that I labeled a migraine (in this post) is more likely to have been "just" a sinus headache, produced by the pressure of a sinus infection.  Although it shared characteristics of a migraine (one characteristic at least: excruciating pain), it did not include the vision disturbances that are so common with migraines nor the nausea associated with true migraines.  (To be exact, I did have a tiny bit of nausea with it, but just a little...probably caused by the all-consuming pain.)  Anyway, last Friday evening when my parents were up here for supper, I told Dad that I still felt a small amount of pain behind that eye, as well as stuffiness in my head, so he went to work and started poking and prodding to determine the culprit.

First, he pushed on the sides of my neck, checking my lymph glands, I suppose.  At his typical doctor question of "does this hurt?", I told him that I was sure if he pushed anywhere hard enough, it would indeed hurt...but that no, that particular location was not extremely sensitive.  

Then it was on to the sides of my nose with the same question, and I said, "No, that doesn't hurt, but don't push like that on this spot above my right eye, or it will...OW!!!!!" (as he matter-of-factly pushed on that very spot).

"Yep, it's a sinus infection," he said calmly.  "Do you have any antibiotics here?  Let's get you started on one."  

I'm not quick to jump on the antibiotics bandwagon, but that night I didn't hesitate an instant and have been faithfully taking Amoxicillin ever since (well, except for that 24 hour intestinal virus episode when I couldn't keep anything down; that put quite a crimp in my 3x-a-day medicine taking).

Isn't it ironic that with all the high-tech gadgets and diagnostic tools doctors have available, sometimes the most effective means is just fingers poking the places that hurt?

********

On a happier note, Michelle from Somerset Cottage graciously gave me an award some time ago.  I am always extremely honored to receive an award, so thank you, Michelle, so very much!  It truly means a lot to me!!!  
Here is the description of this award:

The Love Ya Blog Award~ These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award. 

Here are my nominees:
Jo Ann at Just As I Am - Jo Ann's blog is relatively new to me.  She always makes me laugh, and I won a give-away on her blog...so I'm a big fan.  :)
H at First Things First - H is a friend from high school days that I've enjoyed reconnecting with through blogging.
Sarah at Nesting in Pleasant View - Sarah has an incredible story of trusting God through times of loss and times of gain.  Recently she's been blessed with a beautiful daughter, Anna Claire.
Jeanette at Blessed by Baseballs and Bows - Jeanette's family includes biological and adopted children, and I admire her ability to be real as she mothers with strength and grace.

I know the award said to nominate 8, but I'm going to stop at 4 because I need to do a few things now before we head out the door to Josiah's last session of SVCC for the spring.  All the blogs I've listed in my sidebar are meaningful to me and all deserve an award in my book.  :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Praying for Health

I had to smile when I read Kristal's comment this morning on my Simple Sunday post: "I'm so glad that you are feeling better."  Because, you see, I'm not.  Or rather, I wasn't--not when she wrote it, not when I read it.

It seems absurd to write this, but sickness has once again struck me--this time, in the form of an abdominal virus that included frequent trips to the bathroom and, worst of all, wrenching stomach cramps.  Not to be too graphic, but I wonder what my baby was thinking as I threw up and set off these huge waves of convulsions in his/her safe, normally placid little world.  I'm hoping that I'll pass the immunity I'm accumulating to the baby and make this one less sickness he/she will ever have to get!

This particular illness hit me about a half an hour after our lunch guests departed yesterday afternoon; at first, I was so worried that it was food poisoning and that I had accidentally cooked something bad and infected the whole family as well as our guests!  The fact that my mother, too, got sick did nothing to relieve my mind; but a phone call to the Ebys and a report that they were fine made me much happier.

Happier, but still in pain.  Pain last night.  Weakness today.  But most of all, discouragement.

I used to think I was a healthy person.  I used to think we were a healthy family.  But the past few months have taken away my confidence in those facts and made me wonder what in the world I'm doing wrong.  

Why does it seem like we pass from one sickness to the next?

Why does it seem like, at any given point in time, at least one of us is not well?

Why does it seem like I've written way too often about our various health issues on this blog?

Is God trying to teach me something???

To keep things in perspective, I realize deeply that our minor sicknesses are nothing--NOTHING--compared with what so many other people are facing.  It could be so much worse.  We have so much for which to be thankful, and I do give thanks.

However, I also pray specifically:

~ for Jeff to remain healthy...he seems to be the one who floats past our germs the best, and that's a huge blessing...last night in bed, I scarcely wanted to breathe in his direction, lest he be the next one to get my latest bug...but God has protected him from most of the things the boys and I have dealt with this winter

~ for me to regain complete health...that my strength would be back tomorrow (just in time for a field trip with our homeschool co-op), that my stomach cramps would completely go away, that the sinus infection that seemed to be the source of my horrible headache last week would be gone, and that I would have grace and patience to care for my little ones in the meantime...AND that I would be able to relax even when I feel like I'm behind in every area of life!

~ for Josiah to remain healthy (since he seems to be feeling well these days!)...but in particular, for God to open his ears...at Josiah's evaluation with the speech therapist that I mentioned a few weeks ago, she tested his hearing and discovered that he wasn't hearing correctly (or at all) in the higher frequencies...she wants to test him again on Thursday and see if it has improved...if not, I'm not sure what the next step is, but it's definitely a source of concern for us

~ for David to, like Josiah, stay healthy (since he too seems to be doing fine)...although tonight he coughed a few times and asked me for some cough medicine...I assured him that he could get a drink of water and that would take care of the problem...one thing is for sure: my boys like medicine...they open up for it like little birdies with beaks wide open, clamoring for their share and jealous if their brothers get some and they don't...oh, these silly boys!...guess that goes to show how far children's medicines have come in the realm of taste since it certainly wasn't that way when my parents were children!

~ for Tobin to be healed of his runny nose, sneezes, little coughs, etc...I'm reminded of how difficult it is to know what's really going on in the body of a pre-talker, but his recent fussiness makes me think he might be suffering a bit

~ for my dad to stay healthy (you'd think with all the exposure to germs that he gets, he'd be sick more often; but no, he's not--he must have built up lots of great immunity by now!) and for my mom to recover her strength from this recent virus

I've been reading the Gospel of Luke in The Message, and these words about prayer from chapter 11 caught my attention yesterday:

Don't bargain with God.  Be direct.  Ask for what you need.  This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in...

So, God?  I'm asking.  For health.  For the ability to function and fulfill the tasks You've set before me.  For the discernment to learn what You want to teach me through these times of illness.  For the grace to relax and allow my body to recover, knowing that my worth is not measured by what I accomplish or how clean my floor is.  But, God, could I please learn all this and be healthy at the same time?  :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Simple Sunday - Lullabies

~ thankful for this CD, Sing Over Me, a collection of beautifully- and peacefully-sung lullabies and worship songs...for each of our sons, we've chosen a different lullaby to be his very own...The New Baby, of course, is no exception, but needs to be given a lullaby, too!...I can't remember where I first saw this CD mentioned, but we got it recently for "free" (using Ebay money from stuff we sell) and I have listened to it over and over...I don't know if it will calm our baby as much as it calms me, but it certainly is effective when I need an infusion of peace and gentleness!...I haven't decided for sure which lullaby will be the one for our newest blessing, but I'm leaning towards "Hold On To Jesus"...I'm so grateful for the power of music and for the opportunity to bless our children through it
"The Lord your God is with you.  
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you.
He will quiet you with His love.
He will rejoice over you with singing!"

Zephaniah 3:17


Friday, March 20, 2009

Do You Think...

...this boy looks like his daddy?
~ Tobin and Jeff at the bowling alley tonight

I do, when I see them together like this.  What overflowing love fills my heart as I look at their beloved faces!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

If the Night Before Last Was a Laughing Matter...

...last night was anything but!

Here's an approximate chronology of events:

~ 9:00 PM - I savored some delicious chocolate ice cream from Kline's that Jeff and Josiah and David had just brought home for me...that fact has nothing to do with what is to come, except to show that Jeff is my hero--and pleasure can very quickly disappear

~ 10:00 PM - I went to bed with a mildly-aching, stuffy head, a condition I have had for the past 4 or 5 days

~ 11:00 PM - I awoke with excruciating pain in the right side of my head...it was centered behind my eye and throbbed with every beat of my heart...I, being the highly logical person that I always am in the night and when in pain  :), "knew" I must be having a brain aneurysm so I decided to let Jeff know what was going on so that when they found me dead, they'd know what had killed me...Jeff, being the highly rational person that he truly is when he deals with my health conditions, assured me that it wasn't an aneurysm and I wasn't going to die...he called my dad and woke him from a sound sleep...Dad came up the hill with some strong pain medicine for me, then upon hearing of my stuffed-up condition, made another trip up with some nasal spray to try to open up my sinuses...I took the medicine and sprayed the nasal spray, then at Jeff's urging (since he suspected the headache was from sinus pressure), took a nice hot shower to try to open things up even more and relieve the pressure in my head...it helped somewhat, and I was able to go back to bed and sleep decently with a reduced amount of pain until...

~ 12:15 AM - I once again awoke with pain so bad I couldn't believe it...it was beyond description...I knew it was way too soon to take more pain medicine, so I stayed in bed for a while, hoping to drift off to sleep again (and succeeding to some extent)

~ 1:30 AM (approximately) - the pain was unbearable...I woke Jeff up to tell him; then again took a hot shower...this time, it didn't help a bit...he called dear ol' Dad (another hero of mine!) again to see what more could be done for my pain

~ 2:15 AM (approximately) - Dad trotted up the hill once more, this time with a shot for the pain...I've probably never been so glad to get a shot in all my life...as a girl, I would plead with my big sister Donna, "Don't let him give me a shot!!!" thinking that surely, she would protect me...it never worked, but my family still likes to remind me of that...in the wee hours of this morning, however, I was willing to grovel and beg for a shot: ANYTHING to take the pain away...Dad gave me the shot in my arm and told me it would make me sleepy...that sounded great to me, and I laid down on the couch and actually got some broken but decent sleep until Jeff got up to leave for work and told me I could go back upstairs to bed  :)

~ 8:15 AM - my mother arrived to help with the boys this morning so that I could go back to bed and sleep off more of the pain...she had to leave to meet my brother Doug in town since he was passing through the area; but in the early afternoon, Jeff was able to slip away from work to come home and help out...Mother made supper for us tonight, and she and Dad made several trips up the hill to carry it in to us...I feel very blessed and taken care of!

One way I saw God comforting me even in the midst of the pain was during my concern over how the medicine might affect my baby, God kept that little one active the whole time!  I thought maybe the strong medicine might temporarily "knock out" the baby or cause a decrease in movement, but my anxiety over that was outweighed by the intensity of my pain and need for relief.  I knew that Dad was very aware of the fact that I'm pregnant and wouldn't give me anything dangerous for the baby, but I did feel joy and gratitude by all the movements (even hiccups) that I felt from the baby last night and today.  It was as if God didn't let me waste a minute worrying about that!

Today the pain has been much diminished, and I am understandably overjoyed at that!  I still feel a dull ache in the right side of my head, but it's NOTHING compared with the pain last night.  Jeff told me that he had not seen me in that much pain since childbirth, and I'm sure he's right.  I think I'm being honest when I say that was the worst headache I've ever had.  It was also possibly the first true migraine that I've had; and I hope, by God's mercy, to not have a repeat for a very, very long time.  

Suffice it to say that my level of compassion for migraine sufferers has risen exponentially by the events of last night!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

While You Were Sleeping

I hope you slept well last night.

If you happen to live in the same time zone as I do, while you were blissfully slumbering, this is what I was doing:

~ waking up every hour or so (it seemed) to lament my aching back, go to the bathroom, and check the clock to see how many more hours until morning

~ thinking about the chocolate that Emily Sacra was making for me in a dream I had, which prompted me to teasingly ask Jeff (who happened to be awake just then) to go to the store to get some chocolate ice cream for me  :)

~ planning my trip to the Green Valley Book Fair today--what areas to cover, what books to look for, how to entertain Tobin, etc.--important stuff to consider in the middle of the night!  (by the way, I went and had a fantastic time finding incredibly helpful resources for our upcoming school year as well as some books for the boys just for fun...Tobin was easily entertained by watching the other shoppers, especially those with babies or young children...I spent a little over $100 and got a ton of great stuff...it was wonderful, and I couldn't be any more excited about Josiah's second grade year!)...this is what our house looks like now: Josiah and David thoroughly engrossed in the pile of new books (and this isn't even all that I bought since I immediately tucked some away for gifts)...this is one way to get a quiet house  :)

~ drooling over this house that one of Jeff's customers is trying to sell...this is my dream home: log, surrounded by forest, with incredible views, etc...it's enough to make me turn green with envy...during the night, the song "If I Won Ten Million Dollars" (from a piano book I'm using with my piano student Lily) kept running through my head...if I had ten million dollars, I'd have a lot of fun giving most of it away to worthy charities...however, I must confess that I probably wouldn't hesitate to snatch up this incredible deal on the home I've been dreaming of for many years...oh, well, that's probably why I don't have ten million dollars: my heart isn't pure and unselfish enough for that kind of money!

~ going into the boys' room to pray over them according to Lamentations 2:19 (Rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.  Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children...), a new prayer habit for me during this season of Lent

~ praying also for Jeff's brother Greg who was admitted to the hospital yesterday because of blood in his vomit...Greg lives in Nevada so we're not close enough to go to visit him, and we don't know any of the results of the tests they've done...I know Jeff wishes he could hop on a plane and head west to be with him...I prayed for him during the night, then continued on to pray for all of Jeff's and my siblings

After each awake episode, I eventually slipped back to sleep; and towards morning, I had a nice long stretch of uninterrupted sleep.  I don't usually have sleep problems (beyond the obligatory fifty thousand trips to the bathroom each night that pregnant women are forced to endure), and my boys are all champion sleepers and have been since about 2 and 1/2 months of age...so I don't really have anything to complain about.  Last night was not the norm, so I give thanks for that!

********

And today, while the rest of the world went to work and school, we enjoyed Jeff's day off and the opportunity to spend extra time outside in this glorious 70 degree weather!  It struck me that if Josiah went to a conventional school, he would not get nearly as much time with Jeff as he does now, since Wednesdays when Jeff is off would be a school day for Josiah and Saturdays when Jeff works would be an off-school day for Josiah.  Yet another reason to be glad we homeschool!  :)

The first agenda item of the day was Jeff building the Enterprise for Josiah.  What?  You Star Trek fans don't recognize that structure built out of colorful Legos in the foreground of the picture as the Enterprise?  What's wrong with your imaginations anyway?  :)  Josiah didn't have any trouble knowing what it was!
Then Jeff dragged the top of a blue spruce tree that had broken in a recent storm from our neighbor's yard where it had unfortunately landed.  The Jeep came in handy for this and made short work of the job.  After that, it was time for some swinging, with Jeff giving the boys high underdogs that made their tummies flip and flop.
Then Jeff took Josiah and David off to town to run the usual Wednesday errands, and I stayed here while Tobin napped, then fed him lunch and visited with the Sacras who came by to get some eggs, then headed off to the Book Fair.  Now I need to go get a blanket and sheet off the clothesline where I hung them earlier to dry in the spring breeze.  After that, I'll get supper ready: spaghetti tonight which is an all-family favorite.  

And that, in a nutshell, is a portrait of a night of broken sleep and a day of simple pleasures.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

21 Weeks...22 Weeks...

This post was intended for last week as just a 21 weeks post.  However, the continued unpredictability of our computer made it impossible for me to get it posted last week, so here it is now as a combo 21 and 22 weeks post.  No big deal...

I had asked Josiah to take my 21 weeks picture (because the evening I wanted it taken, Jeff was knee deep in computer trouble and I didn't want to call him away from that), so Josiah eagerly complied.  The following picture is the result (actually, he took tons of pictures--he's a snap-happy kid--but this was the one I liked best because it makes me laugh):
I didn't edit the picture in any way because looking at it, just as it is, makes me smile.  I'm not sure if Josiah was trying to be artistic by shooting it at an angle or if his arms were tired of holding the camera in a vertical position or what.  In any case, I appreciate him not including all of my backside in the picture--a nice touch, don't you think?  (Speaking of which, Josiah assumed a thoughtful pose and said to me this morning, "I don't know if it's the baby, but...pause...your butt looks bigger.")  Is there such a thing as too honest?  Note to self: add "lessons in tact" to homeschool curriculum--ASAP!  :)

During my pregnancy with Tobin, I occasionally posted pictures of my big belly, so I guess it's about time to do the same with this one.  Here I am at 22 weeks, 1 day, showing a few stretch marks above my navel.  I always get those in that spot.

One of the best pregnancy happenings this past week was sitting on the couch reading and, for the first time, seeing my belly move as the baby kicked and squirmed.  I thought it was a little early for that, but I sat there and watched for a while and definitely saw movement.  It was so much fun!  :)

Our bedroom has two new residents: a bottle of Tums in my nightstand (yes, heartburn has begun; and although I only get it occasionally, it is bothersome when it comes) and a huge curved pregnancy pillow in our bed.  My back had begun to hurt--just a little--but I decided it was time to go ahead and drag out that beloved beast of a pillow to see if it would help.  I really do love that thing, but it takes up so much room that I only use it when I'm pregnant and really need it.  After the next 4 months or so, I'll be glad to put it away again and snuggle only with my husband.  :)

Speaking of my back, I had been doing pretty well with it...until last evening when it began to hurt significantly.  I thought I had just done a little too much yesterday since I didn't get my customary afternoon downtime; but I was sure after a good night's sleep, it would be back to normal.  It wasn't...and isn't.  I'm being reminded of how difficult ordinary tasks are with an aching back.  Lifting Tobin out of his crib, getting him out of the playpen, lifting him at all, getting clothes out of the dryer, unloading the dishwasher, etc. -- all of it is a reminder to me to not take a pain-free back for granted!

One new thing I've noticed during these weeks is that my internal heater seems to be kicking in...at least, occasionally.  I had looked forward to being nice and toasty warm all winter long because of the baby, but it didn't happen and I spent much of the winter feeling cold.  Now that spring is near (although our weather the past few days has still been chilly), it looks as if I might be finally hitting the I'm-so-hot-where's-the-fan stage of pregnancy.  What timing.

I haven't mentioned it because Old Order Mennonites don't make a big deal (publicly) about pregnancy, but I am delighted to the tips of my toes that my neighbor Wilma is also pregnant!!!  When I told her our news very early on, she broke her normal pattern of secrecy about her own pregnancy long enough to tell me that they also were being blessed with another child!  Whenever I think about it, such joy fills me.  In respect to her tradition, I haven't tried to pry all the details of her pregnancy out of her.  :)  But every once in a while, we'll share with each other how we're feeling and how things are going; and that's a lot of fun.  She's due a month before me.  Won't it be wonderful to have two new little ones in our neighborhood this summer?  They have three girls ("the girls," that Josiah and David love to play with); and her girls (the older two anyway...the youngest doesn't even know about the baby yet) are convinced that they're having a boy.  Wilma and Douglas did find out the gender at their ultrasound, but they're not telling a soul.  I teased Wilma that I was going to sneak over and take a look at her sewing pile to try to find some clues, but she didn't think I would discover anything that way.  :)  I remember vividly that when their family first came over to visit us right after Tobin was born, Rosalie, the oldest, whispered to her mom after holding Tobin, "I wish he was ours."  When Wilma told me that at the time, it made me cry.  Of course!  Everything made me cry in those days.  But I'm so grateful that God is giving both of us the gift of a child at nearly the same time this summer.

One day last week, we were in the barbershop; and Brenda, one of the stylists, asked me if I had maternity clothing for every season by now.  I told her I did, after this many pregnancies; and she laughed and said that I'd probably be eager to get rid of that clothing after this baby is born.  But ya know, I'm not.  I don't have a strong sense of "this is it--no more pregnancies ever--I'm through!"  My friend Amy, who felt a strong sense of being "done" after her two pregnancies, shared with me that her midwife told her that some women never get that feeling of "doneness."  I can potentially see that being true for me.  Not that I particularly want a dozen children or feel at all capable of that task (or called to it, for that matter)...  But I don't know what the future holds, and I don't feel certain that this is the last one.  When Jeff and I were talking about this, I told him that if this baby happens to be a girl, I would almost feel like maybe we should have another one so there would be the chance for our daughter to have a sister!  (Whenever I see a close sister relationship--like Christy and Sarah have, for example--I think of what a treasure that would be...and would an only daughter regret not having the chance at that kind of relationship?)  Jeff said, "Oh, no.  If we do have a girl this time, and then we did have another, you wouldn't want to stop but you'd say we would need to make it even with 3 boys and 3 girls!"  Where will it end?  :)  

By the way, I'm not writing this as a prediction that there are even more children in our future.  There have been times in our past when I thought the road was leading one way and--woah!--here it goes another way...like last November when that pregnancy test turned positive...and those memories keep me humble when I start feeling like I've got the road ahead all mapped out neatly for us.  One thing I'm certain of: only God knows what our future holds, so I write these thoughts down just for fun, just to be able to look back and see what I was thinking and what we were saying at a certain point in time.  That's all.  No prophecies.  No promises.  :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Simple Sunday - Maple Buds

~ thankful for the signs of spring popping up all around me, like these buds on our maple trees...Robert Frost once wrote that "Nature's first green is gold..." but if you're referring to one of our October Glory trees, the correct color is neither green nor gold, but crimson!
"See, the winter is past...flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land...the blossoming vines spread their fragrance...arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." ~ from Song of Songs 2:11-13

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Minute to Blog

This computer is still giving us fits, with Jeff working late into the night to get rid of this rascally evil virus we seem to have acquired on it. Now that it's in a semi-workable state, thanks to his dogged determination and expertise, I'm seizing a moment to blog, and here's the profound thought I have to share:

I can't say the word "rural."

I wonder if it's my fault Josiah can't say his "r's" well, consequently needing an evaluation from a speech therapist tomorrow afternoon to see how we can help him overcome that (as well as a few other speech issues he has). Maybe as I watch him learn to adjust his mouth and tongue, I'll learn how to say "rural."

Maybe I should practice now.

Rural. Rural. Rural.

Nope, still can't do it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Slooooooowwwwww

That's how everything feels today: very, very slow.

This computer, for one, is giving us fits.  I have no idea what's wrong with it, but Jeff has been dealing with it for several days, putting lots of time and energy into finding the problem(s) and fixing it/them.  He did remark recently that he'd found some Trojan viruses, which makes me thankful all over again that he is the one dealing with the computer because I know more about the Trojan War than I do about Trojan viruses and would be throwing my hands up in despair if I had to think about it.  As it stands now, the computer works...a little bit...some websites...but not others...sometimes...and always slowly.  I realize anew how much I've come to rely on blogs to stay connected with my friends; I feel quite disconnected since I haven't been able to check in and see what's going on in the blog circles I frequent!  And for my own blog and email, I have been limping along, not able to participate like I would prefer, still having pictures and stories from our trip to share, along with other thoughts and happenings from the past few days, not responding to emails because I can't get into it, etc.  There's nothing like a computer glitch to make me realize how dependent I am on it!

But the computer is not the only thing that's going slowly today.  Life, in general, has downshifted to a snail's pace.  All day, I've been traveling at the speed of "Mommy, my head hurts; will you snuggle with me?"  That, to be sure, is not a very fast speed; and I'll win no prizes for numerous accomplishments today.  However, it is a fun speed, as long as I relax and let myself travel it with contentment.  "Sure, David, I'll snuggle with you on the couch.  Here's a pillow and a blanket.  Are you all tucked in?  Shall we have a little nap together?"  :)

To his credit, Josiah has been quite self-sufficient today and has been a splendid help as he takes care of his own needs and lets me focus on the younger two.  I had to laugh when Josiah got his own breakfast.  You'll never guess what he chose.  Spinach!  A bowl of fresh spinach, and a glass of milk, and he was a happy little man.  How crazy is that?!?!  :)  For lunch, he had a much more sensible choice:  Wheat Thins.  :)

Well, now that it's 3:00 PM, maybe I'd better start my morning tasks.  Tobin is in bed for his afternoon nap, and Josiah and David are having quiet time, so maybe--just maybe--I'll have a chance to do a few things and straighten up a little around here before someone else needs me.  But if not--hey, there's always tomorrow!

How about a picture to close?  This was the sunrise over the Atlantic that we saw from our hotel room last Wednesday morning in Virginia Beach.  It reminds me that tomorrow is another day.  Who knows what joys and challenges it will hold?  :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Simple Sunday - David

~ thankful for our darling David, who remains a ball of sunshine even when he's feeling under the weather...he finally started acting a little sick last evening...through the first few days of this cold (or virus or whatever in the world it is), he was his normal cheerful, energetic self...but last night while we were eating supper, he finally lost his spunk and laid his sweet head down and fell fast asleep at the table...you know he's tired if he doesn't even eat his strawberry before falling asleep!...we didn't leave him in this position for long, of course; I had the pleasure of carrying his sleepy, hot, heavy little body up to his room and tucking him in bed after giving him plenty of kisses...how I love him!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Morning...

...usually finds us at our homeschool co-op.  Not today, however.

The little coughs and sniffles of earlier this week have turned into more noticeable health afflictions, with Josiah being the hardest hit.  When I checked Josiah's fever last night and the thermometer read 102.7, it was an easy decision to make to not go to co-op.  I called the lead teacher of the class in which I was supposed to be assisting, and she quickly assured me that she could handle things just fine and I was free to stay at home with my boys.  Yippee!  :)

At the present time, Tobin is having his morning nap, Josiah and David are resting on the couch while watching a movie, the washing machine is spinning its way to another load of clean laundry, the temperature outside is already up to 60 beautiful degrees, and I'm seizing the chance to blog.  This post will be an assortment of all kinds of random things--just a chance to catch up and jot down things that have been on my mind, things that I don't want to forget.

********

How about some more pictures from our recent trip?  That seems like a good place to start!

At the Children's Museum in Portsmouth, Tobin and I enjoyed some time in the play area for ages 3 and under; it was a perfect place for him to explore things at his level while Josiah was off exploring things at his level!  David went back and forth a few times between the two areas; but while he was with Tobin and I, he enjoyed rolling two balls down this slide to see which one would get to the bottom first.
Tobin enjoyed sitting at the bottom and watching the balls come down.
Tobin would pick up the balls and was usually quick to offer them back to David...
...but sometimes he would need to hold it and study it first...
...before letting it go, to wait with empty hands for the next time the balls rolled down to him.
Tobin also enjoyed standing by holding onto various low toys, just the right height for him.  Note: he did not get into a standing position by himself--he's not pulling up on stuff yet--but when I put him in that position, he loved it and was able to stand there by himself for quite a while.

********

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I sat down for a pow-wow with my parents.  During the three and a half years that we've lived here, we've only done this a handful of times; but all of us agree that open communication is essential to making our relationship great, especially when living in such close connection to each other.  I'm extremely grateful for parents who WELCOME input into their lives and want us to tell them if they're doing something that bothers us (and we want them to do the same to us).

The main issue during our last meeting was--are you ready for this?--the fact that my mother was helping me too much, and it was bothering me.  :)  After you're done laughing and snorting in derision at the thought of TOO MUCH help, let me assure you that if you haven't lived in a situation similar to ours, you probably won't get it.  But if you have lived close to extremely helpful and sacrificial parents, you might begin to understand how I was feeling, which was basically like a 3 year-old feels as his mommy tries to help him zip up his coat, but he stamps his foot and says he can do it HIMSELF.  As grateful as I was for the help and as much as I knew it came completely from a heart full of love for us, it still seemed out of balance.  I wasn't learning to stand on my own two feet, and Mother wasn't having the time she needed for other things.  Anyway, the conversation went great, and Mother has stopped helping me so much (yay!).  I'm learning to handle things as a homeschooling, homemaking mother of soon-to-be four without the training wheels of her help; and she is having time to do other things (like go to a morning of prayer today with a friend from church and...oh, yeah...lay in the hospital for a few days last week).  :)

Again, I don't know if that will make any sense to those not in this situation; but it makes sense to me.  

I continue to be immensely blessed by the support system of having her and Dad nearby.  That gives me such comfort as I know that I can call on them for help when needed.  What would I do without that?  

All of this came to my mind again when I was reading an article in the March 2009 issue of Baby Talk magazine that I picked up in the office the last time I visited the midwives.  In an article from the book The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, I read these words, written by the author about the time when her mother came to visit shortly after Kelly had had her first child.  "When my mom came out the next week, the days were much quieter.  Her goal was to do everything but breastfeed.  When Georgia was not nursing, she wanted me to go get a pedicure or take a walk or read my book.  But I was so proud of my baby and all the things I already knew about her--how she always had crud behind her ears or how she liked Desitin in the creases of her thighs.  I wanted my mom to applaud my expertise, but my mom just wanted to relieve me..."

I could relate to that completely.  My mom, remembering well the challenges of early motherhood with the constant demands of family and home and the impossibility of doing it all and doing it as well as we would like(!), simply wanted to help.  I, feeling like a young butterfly emerging from a cocoon, simply wanted her to stand back and watch and tell me how well I was flying...and pick me up if I fell down and cried.  :)

Now that I've had a few weeks to practice, I'm learning some new ways of doing things that I think will work well for this particular phase of life (which will last a few more months, and then we'll be into a new phase!).  With laundry, for example, I'm not as caught up as I would like to be; but I'm discovering that I can conquer the mountain little by little.  Here's the new routine that I'm starting to implement: put a load in the washing machine at night and let it run.  In the morning after I feed Tobin his breakfast, transfer it to the dryer.  By the time it finishes, Tobin is about ready for his morning nap; but he likes to sit on the floor of my bedroom for a little while longer and look at books or play with blocks while I straighten up my room and fold the load of laundry--and put it away.  I must put it away immediately when I fold laundry on my bed, rather than the guest room bed where the stacks can sit for days, undisturbed except by us occasionally grabbing a pair of socks or some jeans from the pile!  :)  After I'm done with this, I put Tobin in bed and then come downstairs to focus on Josiah and David (who usually enjoy very much this time of free play in the morning).  Since I'm still in the catching-up phase of laundry maintenance, I've been doing more than one load a day; but I'm excited about the idea of using this schedule (with flexibility, of course) to keep up with our laundry.  It's the little things in life that make me happy.  :)

With all of this, however, I realize that as the time approaches for me to give birth and particularly after The New Baby is born, I won't be able to soar with my schedule and do it all myself.  I'm so thankful that--Lord willing--my mother will be here to lend her hands and give me some extra help during that period of time! 

********

These days, it seems like everywhere I turn in the world of blogging, I'm reading about suffering.  A while back, it was the family of Cora, the 11 month-old who died rather suddenly from cancer (which I mentioned here).  More recently, I've read Sweet Caroline about Bonnie, who has a daughter named Caroline, of course, and who is pregnant again.  Her husband Thomas died in a car accident in January.  Eerily similar is Tara-Nator, about a pregnant woman with a young son whose husband unexpectedly died in a car accident.  Yesterday, I was gripped by the story of Jonah on the Williams Family Blog; he was born on February 27 with an extremely rare disease and is fighting an uphill battle for his very life.  And then there are the McKays: another young mother with a son and pregnant with a daughter, who just lost her husband after a very short illness (basically 10 days).  Tragic, all of it.  But each of these families has a deep faith in God which is sustaining them; and as I sit here and wish I could do more for them, all I can do is pray for God's comforting arms to be very real to them in the days to come.

When I read about sick children, my mind automatically asks, "What if that were one of my sons?"  When I hear of a husband dying suddenly, I remember all the millions of times I had thoughts of Jeff dying when we lived in Israel.  I don't think I'm exaggerating much when I say the possibility of him dying was an everyday thought to me; yet I realize that, even though we live in a different part of the world without the dangers specific to our Tel Aviv bus-riding lives, he still could die any day.  That fact hasn't changed, though I certainly don't think about it as much.  What I do, however, is feel a deeper gratitude for my husband and children every time I read someone's story of loss.  I hug them closer, listen more patiently to them, give them extra kisses, and thank God more fervently for each day we have together.

With these thoughts of suffering on my mind so much recently, I was particularly interested in an article in the November 2008 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs magazine (I'm obviously behind in magazine reading; that's why I was just now getting around to the Nov. 08 edition!).  It's an excerpt from Richard Wurmbrand's book The Overcomers.  Here is what he writes:

Even the best of Christians are troubled by the question, "Why does an almighty God send, or at least allow, suffering?"  When you are nagged by thoughts like this, say to yourself, "I am still in elementary school.  When I graduate from the university of Christian life, I will understand His ways better and doubts will cease."

We do not have the right notion of might, which to us means the power to crush, to subdue, to suppress, to punish.  There exists another might--it is the might to love, to be patient and quiet, to suffer innocently, and to be good to the wrongdoers.  When we think about energy, we think of it as kinetic, a quality that makes all things move.  But there exists the huge reservoir of potential energy, of energy at rest.  There exists the power of quietness, of serenity.

A Communist officer told a Christian while beating him, "I am almighty, as you suppose your God to be.  I can kill you."

The Christian answered, "The power is all on my side.  I can love you while you torture me to death."

Such is God's almightiness--it is reflected in the deep tranquility of the souls of saints.  They do not ask the troublesome question, "Why all the sorrow?"--they have learned to love the cross and to be rejected without comfort.  Once you take this attitude, the perplexity ceases.  What child is troubled when he receives a much desired gift?

********

Last for this very long post (and much less significant than the previous topic), I want to record some info about the header pics I've used so far this year.  When I print this blog off as a book, I want to remember what these headers looked like; and that wouldn't get captured in a blog book unless it was in the body of the blog, not the header or sidebars.  Anyway, just because it's important to me...  :)

The header for January was a picture I took of Jeff, Josiah, and David sledding on January 17, 2008, five days after Tobin was born.
~ background was Winter Theme-Snowflakes from The Background Fairy

February's header was a picture that my dad took of Dry River, a local river not too far from our house that occasionally has water in it!  We crossed it the other day, by the way, and it looked as dry as a bone.  Dad captured it on a pretty winter day (I forget which month and year) when the water was flowing.

For this month's header, I used a photo that Jeff took in March of 2006 during his mother's first visit to our new home in Virginia.  Jeff took this on a Sunday morning when we drove the back way to our church service, just so we could see the buggies and show off this part of our local culture to his mother.
~ background is Sassy Dots from The Cutest Blog on the Block

I need to start thinking about what the header for April (my favorite month!) will be!  :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

20 Weeks...

I'm quickly approaching the 21 week mark; but before I hit that milestone, I'll post a picture from 20 weeks, 4 days.  This photo was taken on the balcony of our hotel room in Virginia Beach yesterday morning.  I'm not thrilled with my squinty-eyed-in-the-morning-sun look, but I've nothing better to post for week 20 so this will have to do.  :)

For the most part, I have been feeling quite comfortable at this stage of pregnancy--to my surprise, since I was expecting various aches and pains to have kicked in by this point.  But I had my share of them that night we spent in a hotel!  I was so tired that I slept well for the first few hours of the night; but after that, I kept waking up with a sore back, aching hips, cramped everything, it seemed.  I tossed and turned from side to side, trying in vain to find relief, remembering how I felt when pregnant with David in Israel.  Our mattress there in Israel wasn't anything to brag about; and I continually had sore hips and would often wish in the night that I had more than two sides to choose from, as far as how I laid in bed!  That's how I felt Tuesday night; and it sure made me grateful to get back home, sleep in my own wonderful bed, and wake up feeling good this morning!

Concerning names...our girl's name has been decided for quite some time, of course; and we had settled on a boy's name, too...or so I thought.  Another name got thrown into the pot during this trip, and now it's up in the air.  When pregnant with Tobin, I was SO EAGER to decide on his name; but with this one, I have an uncharacteristic amount of patience concerning a boy's name.  We've got some ideas.  We'll figure it out.  We've got time.  We won't leave the hospital without a name on the birth certificate.  There's nothing to fret about.  All is well.  :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to Get Away--for Cheap!

Step A: Homeschool your children.

Step B: Take advantage of Colonial Williamsburg's current fantastic deal for homeschoolers, and pay only $15 for admission for the whole family (as compared to the regular price of $21.95 for just one adult ticket).

Step C: Get a deal on a sweet suite (lame joke, I know) in Virginia Beach--oceanfront, of course. Stay on a Tuesday night in the off-season, when it's ridiculously cold for early March, during the middle of an economic recession; and you'll pay only $58 total (for a suite that could easily go for $175 or up during peak-season).

Step D: The next day, visit the Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth, a place to which you already have a membership (with reciprocity with your local children's museum as well as many other ones around the States). Your entrance fee: free!

Step E: Have a great time, and take lots of pictures to show your friends when you get home. :)
~ David, the cutest little patriot in Williamsburg yesterday
~ a very cold Josiah on the beach this morning, experiencing frozen sand for the first time in his life
~ Tobin in the little tot play area at the Children's Museum today

More pictures to come! :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Away We Go!

We are heading out on a quick family get-away, one which I've been anticipating for quite a while but for which I'm trying to keep my expectations low. Trips with children often come with surprises! :)

In the words of my beloved former piano teacher Miriam Byler, "we're off like a herd of turtles!"

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Polar Bear

March came in like a polar bear for us: cold and snowy. We've heard reports of other areas on the East Coast that are experiencing the "in like a lion" kind of March, but our storms yesterday and today have been very mild and our snowfall only a few inches. Last night and the night before, we got snow during the night, but only enough here in our immediate area to barely cover the grass. Yesterday the snow melted almost completely during the day; today, with colder temperatures, we're hanging on to a little of it--not much though. Just enough to beautify the landscape from our front window...
...and give our friendly Old Order Mennonite neighbor-down-the-road-a-piece a chance to come over and scrape off our driveway and my dad's parking lot this morning.
When I told the boys that states north of us were expecting up to 15 inches of snow, Josiah's immediate response was that we should go there. Right now! I wish, for their sake, that we had had a really big snowstorm this year. I suppose we still could, but I'm not holding my breath. Interestingly, the farmer's almanac predicted this particular snowstorm; and it also says that there are three more periods in March in which we could get snow. We shall see how reliable that ol' thing is. :)

I was glad that the snow came today because we didn't have to go anywhere and could stay home by our lovely fire and be cozy. (All except Jeff, of course, who with his trusty Jeep, made his way to the barbershop at the regular time this morning.) The boys and I did school this morning; and when we were discussing how Alexander the Great became king at age 20, I asked the boys what they thought they would be doing at that age. Josiah said he would be working as a barber in the barbershop; and David, after some hesitation, said he thought he would be in college. Then he went on to remind me of his plans to first become a race car driver, then be an astronaut, and then be a bird! The boy can dream, can't he? :)

Besides school, my big project of the day has been laundry: loads and loads and loads of it. To keep my energy up this afternoon and to entice myself to stay at my laundry basket and fold and fold and fold until every piece was folded and put away, I put on my Sonic Praise CD. That never fails to get me on my feet, doing something productive. It's my secret weapon which I don't use nearly often enough!

I love the beginning of a new week... ;)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Simple Sunday - Mother

~ so very thankful for my dear mother...thankful for God's hand on her in a special way this week as she went through a period of sickness...thankful for God restoring her to health (though she's still feeling extra tired and weak)...thankful for the full day I was able to spend with her in the hospital on Tuesday, feeding her ice chips, chatting with her visitors, wanting her nurses to respond MUCH faster than they did :), watching Little House on the Prairie together, and occasionally just watching her sleep...thankful for a lifetime of love that we've shared, and the promise of more memory-making moments in the future
The verse I've been reminded of today as I've thought about my mom is Proverbs 31:25,
"She can laugh at the days to come..."