Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Praying with My Elders

It's late, and I haven't done all that I need to do before tomorrow. A chunk of my time this evening was taken up with praying with various friends from my church; and I know that if it hadn't been for that, I would be further along by now with my evening chores--maybe even asleep in bed. But without a doubt, it was time well spent.

This was only my third time going to this particular prayer meeting since Jeff usually goes and I stay home with the boys; but each time I go, it is a delight to my soul. I sit there and listen...

The sound of voices, sometimes weak and trembling, sometimes strong...
legs crossing and uncrossing...
the clearing of throats...
Shav's cooing...
they all echo in the space.

Every time so far, I've been struck by the joyful solemnity of prayer with my elders, these saintly men and women of God who have walked with Him much longer than I have and who have been tested and brought forth as gold from the furnaces of Real Life. When I hear Clayton's voice, I picture my grandfather. Instead of Ellen, I hear my grandmother. With my eyes closed, I can almost feel the presence of my own physical ancestors as I remember their faith expressed in such similar ways. If all goes as it normally does, most of these dear people with whom I prayed tonight will enter heaven's door before me; but when I think of them after that time, I will remember the awesome privilege I had of jointly adoring and beseeching the Lord with them during these nights of prayer.

And perhaps I will hear the echo of their voices in the corners of that sanctuary.

Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
~ Matthew 18:20

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Treasure the Doing

~ David in our English walnut tree yesterday afternoon

While reading Margie's blog this evening, I came upon this quote from Anna Quindlen: I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

That's what I'm trying to do, but some days I'm more successful than on other days. Let's face it - some hours I'm more successful than other hours. I hope tomorrow I'm less intent on crossing things off my mental to-do list and more aware of the fleeting preciousness of these days. Even if Tobin does a repeat of his performance tonight and vomits. If he does, may I remember, as I clean him and his surroundings, to treasure the doing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pray on Monday

For the past two weeks, I've been practicing a different pattern of prayer on Mondays, including focusing on some very specific prayers for my sons. In years to come, I know I'll find it interesting to look back and be reminded of what was heavily on my heart for my boys at this phase of life. Last Monday, I spent most of the time rejoicing in God's great love for my children (how comforting to remember that He loves them even more than I do!) and thanking Him for His arms of protection around them. Today I prayed especially for the future wives of my sons and the relationship my sons will have with their wives. It brought a smile to my face to pray so specifically for Josiah's wife, and David's wife, and Tobin's wife, and Shav's wife. Of course, God only knows the future; and only He knows whether they will all marry. But I had fun today praying for each of these special little women--whoever they are, wherever they may be (and I realize some of them may not yet be born!). :)

I hope Tobin's wife will someday see this picture that I took this afternoon, and then will tell Tobin Bear what an adorable toddler he was. Who can resist a little boy in overalls? :)
I can never quite decide whether I like pictures in color or black & white better. It's a tough decision for me.
But one thing that's not tough is loving this little man...and his brothers.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Simple Sunday - Matching Clothes

~ thankful for matching clothes--and for boys who are still young enough to enjoy wearing them! :)...someday, they'll grow up and think it's not cool to match, but for now I'll savor these's actually difficult to see in the picture below, but Shav's outfit matches Josiah's and David's (except he's wearing khaki overalls instead of pants)...those outfits were given to us when Tobin was small, and here are some pictures of the oldest three boys wearing the matching it's Shav's turn to wear the baby outfit, and Josiah and David can still fit into their shirts, but poor Tobin doesn't have an outfit that matches...he sticks out like a sore thumb in this picture, but for some reason, he doesn't seem to mind :)...with three out of the four boys wearing matching clothes today, we had to take a picture where we took those other ones last summer, when Tobin was a baby and Shav wasn't even thought of!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Barbara Frietchie

The first night of their honeymoon, my parents stayed in the Barbara Fritchie Cabins in Frederick, Maryland.

I had not thought about that particular piece of our family history for quite some time, but I couldn't help but be reminded of it today as I read the John Greenleaf Whittier poem "Barbara Frietchie" to Josiah (and yes, I realize that Fritchie/Frietchie has two different spellings...apparently, no one agrees on how the brave old lady spelled her last name). As part of Josiah's schooling this year, we're studying various character traits; and the current one is loyalty. "Barbara Frietchie" is included in the section on loyalty in The Book of Virtues; and because I remember this poem fondly from my childhood, I was delighted to read it with Josiah today. Those emphatic lines supposedly spoken by Barbara herself and the dramatic answer by Stonewall Jackson are engraved in my mind, and the rest of the day I have had uncontrollable urges to break forth with a rousing...

"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.

Or this one...

"Who touches a hair on yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.

Ah, good stuff! No matter how old I get, the poems from my childhood never diminish in enjoyment and meaning for me--even if I can't remember them as well as I used to--poems like "Crossing the Bar," "Paul Revere's Ride," "The Owl and the Pussycat"--you know, all the deep, significant ones. ;)

Josiah recently memorized "The Caterpillar" by Christina Rossetti, as part of First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. I wonder if, years from now, he'll proudly recite it for his children and fondly remember his dear mother making him learn it! :)

In honor of you, Barbara Frietchie, here's Josiah's version of the flag you're reported to have been so loyal to.
We've added a few stars since your time, Barbara (or do you prefer Barb?); did you know we have 50 states now? Josiah drew this during a homeschool day this past March at a place called New Market Battlefield. Every year people come together there to reenact one of the battles from the war that you are so familiar with. I bet you'd think it's crazy to be doing that; after all, one time through the war was enough.

Here's to you, old Barbara.
Here's to the flag.
Here's to loyalty.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Life Expectancy

While doing school recently, Josiah and I learned that the life expectancy of a honeybee is 38 days...which made me think, in the odd way a mind has of connecting disparate thoughts, that I had been hoping the life expectancy of our little boy clothes was four sons. Instead, it seems to be three. Tobin is wearing out the clothes that have been handed down to him from Josiah and David; and it appears that when Shav reaches the 18 month size, he will have precious little to choose from when it comes to apparel. We'll have to hit the thrift stores between now and then so we can replenish our supply.

I guess it's no wonder Tobin is hard on his hand-me-down clothes. Not only does his scooting cause quite a bit of stress on certain areas of his clothes :), but the rough-and-tumble attitude he's developed recently doesn't exactly assist in clothes preservation. He's turned into quite the little wrestler, willing to tackle anyone even though he's just a little shrimp.

Exhibit A:
I'd say Tobin is the clear winner in this match.

Tobin will go after David or Josiah or Jeff--or all three at the same time. It's nearly impossible for Jeff to have a tickle/wrestling fest with the older two without Tobin scooting over as fast as he can to join in the fun. He's a fearless little guy.

I'm very glad to see this aspect of his personality emerging, but it does make it a bit difficult to sit properly on the couch and do school with Josiah and David. Tobin sees people on the couch and must think, "Aha! It's time to tackle these people!" because that's exactly what he does. He'll come over to me, pull himself up by my knee, tug on the couch cushion and grunt until I put the cushion on the floor to make a step of sorts for him to get up on the couch, then climb up to sit beside us. And by "sit" I mean any combination of plop, bounce, squish, wiggle, crawl, squirm, push, stand up, sit down, turn around, wedge himself between David and I, cast himself across my lap to squeeze between Josiah and I, etc. As Tobin's level of movement and activity has increased, homeschool has become quite a contact sport in this household.

No wonder he's shortening the life expectancy of his clothes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Beautiful Place

Everybody needs beauty
as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal
and give strength
to body and soul alike.
~ John Muir

For me, Riven Rock is one of those places: a spot where I've played (I remember going there as a child, and now as I watch my children play there, I feel like I'm playing all over again) and where I've prayed. Riven Rock helps to fill the longing for beauty that I feel inside me.

Yesterday, while Josiah and Shav and I went to Josiah's violin lesson, Jeff headed to Riven Rock with David and Tobin and his niece Hannah and her boyfriend Ben who were visiting from California. I wish I could have been in two places at once, but I was glad to at least see the pictures that Jeff took. From them, I could imagine myself at Riven Rock. :)

Jeff took quite a few pictures of Hannah and Ben...

...and then a little four year-old snuck into a picture with them. :)

Another little boy found great joy in sitting in the (cold mountain) stream. No matter how chilly he gets, Tobin wants to be IN THE WATER. :)

You couldn't ask for a more beautiful bathtub!

John Muir, you were right. We do need beauty. Thank you for the reminder.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Enmity, Part Two

A little over a year ago, we encountered a snake on our land; and I wrote here about how we dealt with it. Towards the end of that post, I wrote this: "I suppose that 2 snakes in 36 years is a pretty good ratio, but I think 1 snake in 36 years would have been better." Uh oh, I'm going to have to change that ratio again because, lo and behold, another snake has been sighted--and dealt with--on our property. 3 snakes in 37 years! Things are going downhill fast around here!!

Here's the story of this most recent snake encounter:

Tomorrow makes three weeks since Mother found the snake. She wasn't looking for one by any stretch of the imagination, since her dislike of snakes falls only slightly short of my own; but when she opened the woodshed door, there it was, slithering along, heading in a northerly direction. She had no weapon with which to end its life so she went to the garden shed to get a hoe; but, of course, by the time she returned, it had disappeared. It wasn't very comforting to think that A SNAKE might be in the woodshed; none of us spent a lot of time there during the next few days. We knew that it very well could have slithered on to a new location and that it was hard to tell where it was, but all we could do was keep our eyes open even more as we walked around in the yard and leave a hoe propped against the woodshed in case the snake was spotted.

Three days later, I spotted it. It was a Sunday evening, and the light was fading but still present in the sky when I decided to take a steak bone out to the dogs. I slipped my feet into my old, ratty outdoor shoes and headed up the hill. After giving the bone to the dogs, I glanced over into the chicken enclosure and thought I saw a dead chicken so I walked closer to investigate; and sure enough, it was dead. I lifted the lid of the coop to check for eggs and just took a little time to enjoy the evening air, then started to walk back towards the house to tell Jeff about the dead chicken so he could come out and take care of it. He always gets the dirty work around here. :)

I was walking carefully, alertly, eyeing the ground constantly, knowing that the snake could be around--or could be a mile away--who knew? And then I saw motion that could only be a snake. In the dimming light, I very well could have missed seeing it if it had stayed still; but when it moved from the grass close to me towards the woodshed door, it was instantly obvious what it was. Since it was moving away from me, I didn't run but stayed rooted to my spot, not wanting to look away for fear that it would disappear again. It paused on the gravels to the left of the woodshed door, and a flurry of thoughts flew through my head: should I try to kill it? it was very close to the hoe that was leaning against the woodshed door; if I tried to move close enough to grab the hoe, would the snake dart away before I could get it? who am I kidding; I don't want to kill the thing; I'd better call for help! thank goodness the kitchen window of the house is open and the rest of the family is gathered in the kitchen, enjoying our usual Sunday evening supper of popcorn; surely they'll hear me if I call... So I called: JEFF! My voice sounded strange in my ears; an odd note of stress and fear was present, preventing me from even talking normally. No response, so I tried again: JEFF! CAN YOU HEAR ME? I glanced away from the snake long enough to see Josiah's face appear in the open window, ready to relay a message to Jeff. Whew, they heard me! Yippee!! My knight in shining armor will come to my rescue! And he did, going first to the garden shed to fetch another hoe, then coming over to where I stood, still unable to move but keeping my eyes on that snake so we wouldn't lose him again. I pointed out the snake to Jeff (the light was fading fast by this point); and he went right to work, using a few well-placed blows to kill the despicable thing. My hero!!!!!

Once Jeff had seen the snake and was approaching him, I decided that I would back up a little, just in case that snake used the "flight" option of his fight-or-flight instinct. A little more distance between us would be a good thing, so I started to back up, then stopped quickly because my back suddenly went into spasms--extremely painful spasms, the likes of which I had never encountered before. The whole time Jeff was dealing with the snake, I couldn't even move, but could only stand still, gasping for breath as I waited for my back to recover. I guess I must have tensed my muscles as I stood there waiting for Jeff (ya think? me, tense? all because of a little ol' snake?) :) and some combination of that muscle tension and maybe a strange movement I made must have combined to bring on those spasms. I'm sure my body was also being flooded with adrenaline, released in a powerful whoosh as I had my own fight-or-flight reaction. Since flight was no longer a choice for me because I literally couldn't move because of the pain, I sure was glad that my protector was there to use the fight option! :)

After he killed it and my back settled down, I went inside, called my parents so they could rejoice with us :), then told the boys that they could come outside to look at it. We armed ourselves with flashlights (against what? the snake was dead!) before going outside, my parents hurried up the hill from their house, and we congregated by the woodshed where we gave Jeff lots of words of affirmation for his accomplishment. :) Josiah had no desire to touch the horrid creature, but David, as previously noted, was excited to hold it by the tail. Who is that child? Did he really come out of my body?? :)

As we stood around, we discussed what kind of snake it was and concluded that it was probably just a black snake. Jeff took some close-up pictures of it to try to compare it with online snake photos and identify it for sure, but I don't want to post any of them because I don't want my own blog to scare me. :) I know black snakes are harmless, but not when they cause heart attacks. If I could speak "snakese" I would warn any snakes who venture onto our property that this is an area that is hazardous to their health and that they should just STAY AWAY. I don't mind at all if they live in the forest across our neighbor's field from us...or even if they live in the field itself; just as long as it's not on our property, I'm fine. Is that too much to ask? :)

Not too many days after this incident, our neighbor girls spotted a snake on their driveway so they called for their dad who was working up at his machine shop and he drove a tractor over it to kill it. Since his feelings about snakes mirror my own, I'm not surprised that he wanted a little distance between the snake and himself as he killed it; a tractor is far superior to a hoe in that regard. I think even I could kill a snake by running over it. :)

Two snakes on adjoining properties in just a few days--yikes! What is (this corner of) the world coming to???

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Got Nuthin'

It's Tuesday which means, according to my habit of late, that I should post something for Tiny Talk Tuesday. But I got nuthin'. This is not to say that my boys have developed laryngitis...or taken a vow of silence...or said nothing remarkable this week; but I didn't jot down a single thing that came out of their mouths so here I sit, unable to think of anything to write. How about some videos instead? :)

This one is from earlier today when Tobin was wearing our joker hat and scooting around. I loved how the hat bounced on his head as he scooted. :)

And this was taken last Saturday. David was singing an impromptu song about Tobin--at least, it started out being about Tobin and morphed into...well...something else.
As best as I can understand him, these are his lyrics:

I just love Tobin walkin'
because it's so wonderful
and it's - love him because -
after going outside in the hotness -
oh - Johnny Brown

Doesn't make much sense to me, but I love it anyway. And you've just got to take your hat off to a four year-old who can ride a tricycle forwards and backwards with just his feet while playing a small, out-of-tune guitar while composing such inspiring lyrics and singing in quite the monotone voice--all at the same time.

I'm not sure if you can tell from the video or not, but David is developing quite the little country boy accent. In fact, in a contest between my dad and David for who's got the most noticeable accent, I'm thinking that David might give my dad a run for his money! ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Two months and a day have gone by since that magnificent moment when Shav was born and our family changed forever. Now it's Monday again, just like the day of his birth; and my thoughts have been full of remembrance of that Monday. Before any more time goes by, I want to capture more of the memories associated with his birth and fill in some of the gaps left by the parts of his birth story that I already wrote (found here, here, and here). I've been desiring to write this post for quite a while and, in fact, had started it weeks ago, jotting down ideas of things I wanted to write about and even including a few pictures that Misty took when Shav was only five days old. But I never took the time to sit down and flesh out my quick notes, so this post languished as a draft for far longer than I intended. The pictures aren't current anymore, but they're still beautiful to me so I'll include them anyway. :)

Some things I don't want to forget...

~ On the day Shav was born, Jeff was wearing a white shirt; but when he got home from his early morning Greek lesson at the barbershop, he wanted to change into a darker shirt because he thought he might get dirty. I grabbed a black shirt from his closet for him, and he quickly changed into that. I became very familiar with that shirt that day, especially when I was standing up pushing, because my face was pressed against it as I tried to practically bury myself in Jeff and because both fists were clutching handfuls of it as tightly as could be--that is, when I wasn't clawing Jeff's back. :)

~ I've already written about Ann Swartz being one of the nurses in the room with us when Shav was born. I was so grateful to have her there, but it didn't occur to me until much later how special her presence was because she was the first medical professional I saw during that pregnancy. During my first appointment at SWHC at the very beginning of my prenatal care and during delivery, she was involved. I could just call her Alpha and Omega--the beginning and the end. :)

~ I still am not sure who exactly was in the room with me when Shav was born, but I did find it interesting that for at least two of those present (Debbie, one of the nurses, and Dr. Cassidy, the doctor from SWHC who was required to be there because Tammy, the midwife, was still completing her training), it was the first time they had ever seen a woman stand up to give birth. Tammy had seen it before so she wasn't surprised by it, but she did comment during my six-week follow-up appointment that in that position, the gown just gets in the way and she wished she had asked me to just take it off. :)

~ Even though at the time, I was literally mad that time ran out and I didn't get an epidural :), in the end, I was immensely glad that I didn't get one. The recovery, at least from my personal experience, is SO MUCH quicker and easier and better without one. I love being able to be up and about soon after birth, able to walk from my hospital room to the nursery to watch them care for my baby there and go through their various procedures and tests, able to shower and feel cleansed, able to go to the bathroom by myself! Looking back, I'm extremely grateful that time ran out for me and I missed the epidural. My dad's comment about all of this was that if I ever get pregnant again, I should just give up hope of having an epidural because my labors tend to progress too quickly for that. My response to him was that I would have him put in the IV before I ever got to the hospital so that I would be all ready for the epidural when I got there. ;) But seriously, I'm so happy that I didn't end up getting one; and my frustration about missing it vanished just as soon as Shav was born!

~ My total time in labor was 3 hours and 19 minutes: from 5:55 AM when my water broke until 9:14 AM when he was born. Definitely my shortest labor yet.

~ The pushing phase was so fast and intense that Shav actually came out kind of bruised from it. I wouldn't have noticed that his forehead was bruised because newborns' skin is splotchy anyway! :) But the nurses commented on it, as did the doctor who examined him. In addition, he had a red patch in the white of his left eye from burst blood vessels, I believe; but I was assured that it was nothing to worry about. Sure enough, it disappeared in due time. One feature that hasn't disappeared yet is Shav's "stork bite" (which, now that I look it up on, should really be called an "angel kiss" since it's on his forehead, not the back of the neck where stork bites occur...I stand corrected). The BabyCenter article that I linked to says that angel kisses usually go away by age 2, and I would agree with that based on our experience with David having one.

~ Before Shav was born, Josiah had told us that he didn't want to know whether it was a boy or girl until he got to the hospital. We said, "OK," but I was a little doubtful that he would really hold out that long before his desire to know overwhelmed his desire to be surprised. Sure enough, after we called and told the good news of our new SON to Wilma who was babysitting the boys, not too much time went by before Josiah needed to know, so I think he asked one of her girls what the baby was, and she told him it was a boy. :)

~ After I gave birth, I was SO HUNGRY. The best hospital food I've ever tasted was the breakfast I was given; french toast and some kind of baked apples were what I remember of the meal, but I know I wolfed down ALL of it. It was still fairly soon after birth so my memory is a little groggy about who exactly was doing what, but I think Jeff was preparing the food for me: cutting it into bites, putting syrup on the french toast, actually feeding me, too, I think. :) The rest of the time in the hospital, I thought the food was pretty good but would have been a whole lot better if they let themselves cook with salt! :) I remember that I was thirsty--almost unquenchably so--and whenever the nurses asked if there was anything else they could do for me, I always asked them to bring me something to drink: grape juice, milk, ice water, etc. When I got home, I missed having somebody to bring me a drink. :)

~ A few people commented that they were surprised how quickly I blogged after giving birth; and somewhere in the picture archives on our other computer, I have a picture that Jeff took of me in the hospital bed typing on the laptop while Shav was in the background, going through his initial examination by the team of nurses in the room with us, probably less than a half hour after birth. I was certainly eager to share our good news, that's for sure; but my speed at blogging was also made possible because really, what else is there to do in the hospital? :) Of course, the most important thing was holding Shav to get acquainted with him, laughing and talking with Jeff and my mom about how things went, and just savoring the euphoria that came after the birth; but realistically, when Shav was in someone else's care, I didn't find it difficult to make time for blogging. After I got home and had family and household responsibilities, it was harder to find time; but in the hospital, it was fairly easy. :)

~ Shav lost a little weight after birth, which is completely normal; and unlike when Josiah dropped in weight in his first few days of life, I didn't worry a bit about Shav. His weight at discharge was 8 lbs, 11.5 oz, just down 3.5 oz from birth. I took him to my dad's office to have him weighed and measured last evening; and he was 12 lbs, 10 oz, and 23 and 1/2 inches long.

~ One distinct physical characteristic of Shav is a little--what should I call it?--dimple in his chin. It's not a traditional dimple, but it is a little hollowed-out spot right in the middle of his chin. The nurses commented on that in the hospital. I think it's adorable. :)

~ The day Shav was born, we had some special visitors: Jeff and the boys were the first to come, of course (Jeff and my mom had returned home a while after the birth so that Jeff could gather the boys and return); then my mom came back, and while she was still there, my sister came for a while and later my dad came; then in the evening, the Sacra family came as well as my friend Misty (who came bearing delicious muffins, several of which were devoured by me that first night since I felt absolutely ravenous). It was delightful to share our joy with those who came to visit! We knew that, as excited as the big brothers would be to meet their new little brother, their attention wouldn't be held for long by a newborn, so I had gotten a new book for each of them: Where's Waldo books for both Josiah and David (different ones in the series) and an animal board book that made noise for Tobin. They enjoyed looking at their new books, but even still, they grew restless fairly quickly and started becoming a little too curious, in a hands-on way, about the various enticing features of the hospital room (particularly David and Tobin). When Tobin kept scooting straight for the numerous cords and gadgets behind the hospital bed, we knew it was time for them to leave. :)

~ For quite some time after the birth, the nurses continued to monitor my vital signs; and I had a blood pressure cuff on my arm that automatically inflated every so often. Whenever it tightened, the places on my hands and arms where they had stuck me to get the IV going throbbed like crazy. Ouch! That was an unexpected pain.

~ All the nurses I had were really nice, and some took the time to stay a while and chat when they were in my room. Of course, all of them asked about Shav's name so I got some good practice in giving my explanation about that. :) Thinking back, I can't remember any interaction with them that was negative, and that is a huge blessing.

~ Another blessing: I didn't tear at all. Not having to deal with stitches or much discomfort in that area was wonderful!

~ That first night, after all the visitors had gone and I had nursed Shav, one of the nurses came in to see how things were going and to ask if I wanted her to take Shav to the nursery. I hesitated, liking the idea of him rooming in but also liking the idea of getting some solid sleep; then I asked her what she thought I should do. Without a bit of hesitation, she said that I should let her take him to the nursery so I could rest. I appreciated her advice and agreed, happily and peacefully sleeping, then happily and excitedly awaking when she brought Shav back several hours later and I heard his hungry cries. When Josiah was born (in California), I couldn't bear to think of him being taken off to the nursery; surely he would feel abandoned, right?! :) So he stayed with me all the time; but when we were in Israel, because of hospital policy, I had no choice but to let David stay in the nursery. They just do things differently there, and one of the things they feel is important is for the mother to get a good stretch of sleep while the newborn is going through that first long sleepy period. With Josiah, I felt like nurses were coming in all the time asking, "Have you fed your baby yet?" as if he would surely starve if I didn't feed him every two hours that first night--talk about freaking a new mom out. With David, the nurses didn't mind if he went up to six hours (if I remember correctly) at night without a feeding. I could hardly relax and enjoy my rest that night because I kept hearing the California nurses saying in the back of my head, "Have you fed your baby?" ;) Anyway, I've learned to be a little more mellow about all of that, so when the nurse encouraged me to let her take Shav to the nursery, I didn't feel badly about taking advantage of her offer so that I could sleep. I also remembered back to the experience in Israel when I urged the nurses to please, please, please bring him to me if he cried; I hated the thought of him alone in the nursery wailing his heart out. Looking back, I now realize that of course they would bring him! So with this Virginia nurse, I didn't have any fear that she would be lax in her duties and leave Shav crying in despair while I slumbered. :)

~ The morning after I gave birth, Melody was the midwife who made rounds; and it was fun to see her. Neither she nor the doctor who checked Shav gave me any grief about leaving as soon as I could on that day (unlike our Israel experience when David was that case, we practically felt like we were breaking out of prison to try to get the doctors to release us before 48 hours had passed).

~ When we were ready to go, a very sweet old lady who was a volunteer came with a wheelchair for me (it's hospital policy that the new moms have to be wheeled out, I guess). I felt so good that I certainly didn't see the need to ride in a wheelchair; maybe I should have been the one pushing it and the kind lady could have had a ride! :) She was talkative, and happened to know some former neighbors of ours so we had that connection. She kept up a steady stream of conversation while Jeff went to get the van and pull it up to the entrance. I was secretly glad when he arrived because I was finding the small talk a little cumbersome. :)

~ After I had already gotten in the van and while Jeff was still loading some things, someone came out the door of the hospital with a gorgeous large bouquet of flowers and three shiny welcome-baby helium balloons. As I was admiring them and casually wondering who they were for, the delivery person looked around, spotted us, and came over to give them to us. I was so surprised!! The flowers and balloons--one for each of the big brothers--were given to us by a local florist and her mother who are friends of ours. It was a truly unexpected joy!

Ah, such sweet memories to think back on Shav's birth! Such a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Such a treasure! And in the end, we had this incredible new little soul to bring home with us, to watch, to care for, to teach and train, to enjoy, to love!

Before I end this lengthy post, I want to add a "hallelujah!" postscript to it. Shav slept 9 hours straight last night!!! He finished his last feeding about 10:00 PM and didn't wake up until about 7:00 this morning. He didn't even have a fussy time in the middle of the night! After only one night of some minor crying-it-out (Friday), he smoothly transitioned to sleeping through the night; and although we're bound to have some setbacks along the way, this is a HUGE step. I'm so proud of him and SO GRATEFUL!

Shav, you're a jewel, and words can never express how privileged I feel to be your mommy: to have carried you inside me for many months, to have participated with you in our own unique dance of birth, and now to nurture you and watch you grow. I will never stop thanking God for the gift He gave me in you!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Simple Sunday - Tobin's Walker

~ thankful for this walker for Tobin--a Jeep, no less :)...and thankful for the good progress he's making in the walking department!
~ here he is, in action...and here is my mother in her lovely gardening clothes, hat, and boots :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself. You'd think I'd be used to this by now, but it never ceases to amaze me how quickly I can zoom from the depths of despair to the heights of happiness (and back to despair again, but let's not think about that now). ;)

Although it's hard for me to objectively judge the overall tone of this blog in recent weeks, I think it's been obvious that this hasn't been the easiest time for me. With titles like Worse and Hard Times A-Comin' and with other posts that might not state it so blatantly but nevertheless reflect discouragement, I've tried to stay honest--sometimes painfully so--while at the same time balancing my forthrightness with the immense gratitude I have as I consider how extremely blessed I am. I often feel like a juggler, but these days I have felt like a tightrope walker, too. A juggler on a tightrope. Not an easy place to be, not one in which I've felt successful. When I wrote yesterday's post, I felt like in my role as juggler, I was dropping balls all over the place, and in my role as tightrope walker, I was losing my balance and about to fall myself. What a difference a day makes!

Last evening was Jeff's family night, and he wanted us to go over the mountain to the Treasure Mountain Festival in Franklin, West Virginia. At one point during the afternoon, I considered asking him if I could just stay home because I was SO TIRED. (How many times have I written that recently?) I quickly talked myself out of that however, but my expectations were still fairly low for the evening. I was so wrong. A few things happened that dramatically changed my outlook on life.

First, when we got to Franklin, Shav was ready to eat so I sat in the van and nursed him while Jeff and the other boys played on a playground right beside where we parked. The peace I felt as I fed Shav and watched the others playing was sublime. The evening was beautiful with the golden sunshine lighting everything up even as long shadows were being cast. Josiah and David scampered like young, happy goats around the park and over the playground equipment. Jeff cared so tenderly for Tobin (who ADORES Jeff more than ever before and gets so excited when Daddy is with him). I loved watching them and thought again how precious these years are when the children are young and so easy to hold close to us. A rowdy group of young teenagers came around then, reminding me all the more how much I treasure my sons and this phase in their lives. These are golden days, and I will not let fatigue blind me to that fact.

Second, the very best part of road trips is the time to talk with Jeff while we're driving; and yesterday was no exception. Not surprisingly, we've both had our parenting hats so firmly on our heads during the past two months that it's been hard to remove them so we can wear the spouse caps for a while. While the boys listened to children's CDs or fell asleep, Jeff and I were able to talk and talk about many things; and that connection was priceless.

Third, we just had fun! It was so pleasant to be out together as a family, doing something different, visiting a new place, exploring uncharted territory, making a fresh memory. The boys were generally cooperative as we ate our carnival food and wandered through the craft fair, and we all had a great time. I was surprised, by the way, at how many people commented on our little band of boys. I don't know if it was because we now have four children...or because they're all boys...or because everyone could see how wonderful they are ;)...but for some reason, quite a few people wanted to draw us into conversation about our sons.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening with only one drawback: that mountain gets me every time. I was feeling so carsick by the time we got home and could hardly wait for the car to stop--just stop!--so I wouldn't have to feel motion anymore. Riding home over those twisting roads in the dark made me feel like I was going through one very long tunnel on a roller coaster. Ugh. Anyway, back to the good stuff... :)

During the car ride, I had shared with Jeff some of my frustrations: obviously, Shav not sleeping long stretches at night was at the top of the list, but besides that, I was also a little discouraged that Tobin wasn't really walking yet. Lo and behold, in both of those areas, we had major turn-arounds today!!

Shav ate last night around 10:30 or so, then slept until close to 3:00 AM (I think...the exact times are fuzzy in my head). I let him fuss some, but his crying was never constant or the hysterical, hard crying that indicates he's either in some kind of distress or just plain mad. :) After a while (can't remember how long exactly), he stopped crying! I waited...held my breath...listened to him slurping noisily as he sucked and gnawed on his fist (hooray for self-soothing!)...and finally concluded that he had gotten himself back to sleep. Wow! I heard him fuss for an even shorter time soon after 5:00 AM, but he again settled himself down. Finally at 5:55 AM, he cried again; and I got him up to feed him (and you nursing moms know what a literal relief that was to me since the first night with no feeding in the middle brings a peculiar kind of pain!). So about 7 and 1/2 hours from one feeding to the next. Yippee!!!!!!!!!!! I'm fully aware that we may have setbacks along the way as he continues to work on his sleep habits, but this was a huge step in the right direction and I couldn't be more thrilled--and thankful.

The victories continued today as Tobin surprised me by walking more than he ever had before--and with no coaxing from anyone. This morning, he just decided to stand up and walk around! His steps are still fairly slow, but it was definitely better than he's ever done before--much, much better. I was so proud of him! Just last night I was questioning Jeff, "What am I doing wrong that he's not walking? When will he ever walk? Do you feel worried about it?" And then today, Tobin proved that he's doing just fine--simply developing at his own pace. Why was I concerned? :) I think that he's been helped in this area by us spending more time holding his hands and walking with him and--even more--by the new-to-us walker that Julia brought the other day. Tobin has really enjoyed that thing, and I think it's helped his confidence tremendously. It's so much fun to see him walk! :)


Before I end for tonight--and before I forget these things--I want to make note of a few inspirational items that have encouraged my soul during these past few weeks. God is so faithful to provide spiritual food; even when we feel like we're too tired to do much preparation for the "food," He lavishes us with a feast of words of truth that bring life to our spirits!

I've been lifted up by...

~ this post from Theresa at Heavenly Glimpses: she writes about the importance of God's Word, and then asks, "Have you actively gathered your manna this morning?"

~ manna on one day: I Chronicles 16:11, "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."

~ manna on another day: Deuteronomy 33:12, "Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him; for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."

~ this post from Polly at The Trinity Chronicles included this quote from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and was particularly helpful when I felt like all I could handle was my at-home duties but I wanted to do so much more and serve in so many other ways: "Frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities God does not intend for us to carry. Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God's priorities for each season of life and then setting out to fulfill those priorities, in the power of His Spirit, realizing that He has provided the necessary time and ability to do everything that He has called us to do."

~ another post from Polly, this one having to do with the very important idea of living faithfully a hidden life


Just for fun, here's a picture of a scene in our kitchen recently. One of David's daily responsibilities is putting away the clean silverware from the dishwasher, and not too long ago, Tobin decided that he wanted to get involved, too. Great! Start training them early to help is what all the "experts" say, so, by all means, Tobin, you can certainly take part in this! :) He sits on the floor, picks up the various pieces of silverware, then hands them to David who puts them away in the drawer. This sounds so simple and wonderful; but in reality, there's a lot of "No, Tobin, don't put the spoon in your mouth" and "David, take the forks gently from him" and "Clean silverware does not belong on the (dirty) floor" and "Don't use your feet to pick up the silverware!" But this is where the training begins: teaching such important lessons as the need for each person in the family to be involved in helping out and the best way to cooperate when two or more people are working together on a task. With the way time is flying by, it won't be more than the blink of an eye before Tobin will be the one standing there and Shav will be sitting on the ground giving him the silverware to put away!


Tonight as I fall into bed, I say a special prayer of thanksgiving: for the progress I've seen in the last 24 hours, and for the hope I have that all of us in my dear little family will continue to grow and develop in all the ways God has for us.

Friday, September 18, 2009

6 Minutes

About an hour ago, while the house was peaceful and still with the older boys having quiet time and the younger ones sleeping, I decided I would ignore all the responsible things I could have been doing and lie down for a little nap instead. It's a good thing I prepped myself for a little nap because it lasted all of 6 minutes. I laid down at 1:50, happened to see the clock at 1:52, was asleep immediately after that, then was awakened at 1:58 by Shav crying in his cradle. The boy couldn't wait to drink more of that oh-so-delicious milk his mommy makes. I'm honored.

I've always admitted that I don't do well with chronic sleep deprivation; but fortunately for me, Babywise has always done the trick before, and the three older boys have been great sleepers, sleeping through the night fairly consistently at the age of two or two and a half months. Shav doesn't seem to be such a great sleeper; he still only goes about three hours (or sometimes four) at night between feedings. I know we could possibly be on the brink of a great sleep breakthrough as he nears his two month birthday, but for now, as I drown in waves of fatigue, I wonder, "When will I ever get sleep???" I'm so tired that I almost invariably fall asleep soon after sitting down to nurse Shav (that is, unless I'm forced to stay awake to make sure Tobin doesn't injure himself or destroy too much personal property around here), and my middle-of-the-night reading has slowed to a trickle since I've got two non-fiction books that I've started but am finding myself completely incapable of making any progress in, due to instantaneous slumber as soon as I pick them up. Jeff was amused the other night, watching me sit upright in my glider rocker, fast asleep, my head bobbing and jerking around without adequate support, holding Shav while he nursed. He didn't say this, but I was probably drooling, too. Lovely.

At least I didn't drop Shav.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm Not Very Good at...

...asking for help. When life wells up and threatens to overwhelm me, I have a very turtle-esque approach: hunker down, withdraw inside my shell, and let the rest of the world go right on by. The only people, in fact, that I feel any measure of comfort in calling on for help are Jeff and my parents (like I did this morning when I asked my mother if she wouldn't love to have three little boys come to her house for a few hours...or like I did this evening when she asked whether there was anything else she could do for me, and I said, "Well, there's a load of clothes in the dryer that needs to be folded...").

I am, however, getting much better at receiving help when it is offered. Fortunately for my state of mind (and the well-being of my whole family), help came calling sometime after 8:00 this morning when the phone rang and it was our friend Julia Alleman, asking if she could do something for us: make dinner, do laundry, entertain the boys, help me with some music organizational stuff I'm doing for our church, etc. After I swallowed my pride--and the lump in my throat brought on by the old familiar rush of postpartum emotions which comes on the strongest when someone is kind to me--I agreed that she could bring us dinner and take some of our laundry home with her (some sheets to be washed and hung outside tomorrow to dry). She arrived later in the day with a delicious dinner (the homemade bread and rhubarb preserves was my favorite, evidenced by the fact that I had no less than three slices) and a walker for Tobin. He took to it right away, propelling himself all over the driveway--first, backwards, and then before too long, he figured out how to go forwards. I really think this will help to build his confidence, and--who knows?--he might even learn to really walk before he reaches his second birthday! ;) Between the help from my mother and from Julia, this day that started so gloomily ended considerably brighter.


It's been a while since afternoon quiet time turned into QUIET time, but it happened again today. When I didn't hear a noise coming from either Josiah or David, I tiptoed around the house to peek at them and found Josiah sound asleep in the living room (and it's so funny to me to think that the blue pillow he's resting his head on is the same Boppy pillow I used when I nursed him as an infant...from such a tiny little thing who wasn't even as long as the Boppy to this tall boy who stretches from one end of the loveseat to the other!)...
...and found David asleep in Josiah's bed, his arm clutched around a blue unicorn one of the boys won at the fair last month.
I didn't open the door and go in Tobin's room to take a picture of him, but I know from his silence that he was sleeping soundly, too.

The only one awake in the house, besides me, was this little cutie...
...just hanging out on my bed while I folded and put away laundry. So much for synchronized naptimes! But in all honesty, I treasure the one-on-one time that I get with sweet Shav so I was glad that he kept me company this afternoon.

Speaking of Shav, for the first time today, I saw him sucking his thumb! During the past few weeks, he has often gnawed on his fist but hasn't seemed to be able to get his thumb to uncurl enough to suck solely on it. But today, while I was changing his diaper, he got just his thumb in his mouth. I'm cautiously optimistic that if he gets better at finding his thumb, he'll become a pro at self-soothing and will henceforth sleep much longer stretches at night, even (soon) beginning to sleep through the night. That will change so much as far as how I feel and how I view life.

But maybe, just maybe, before then, I'll learn to be humble enough to actually ask for help.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TTT - The Ten Commandments

Last Friday evening, we were sitting around the supper table with our visiting friends Steve and Claire and their two children James and Brielle. Jeff, as is his custom, read a short devotional before we prayed and began to eat; and the topic on that night was the Ten Commandments. After we started eating, I asked the boys if they could name one of the Ten Commandments. I knew Josiah would be able to come up with something; but it was David who spoke up first with this reply, "Ummm...brush your teeth?" :) Well, no, not exactly, my dear boy; but I am glad that you realize the importance of good dental hygiene!

My amusement continued when Josiah said, "That could go under 'Honor your father and mother'!" True, true. It certainly could. :)

My parents were eating with us, of course; and as soon as Dad heard the conversation, he said, "Sounds like a TTT to me!" I laughed and reached for a pencil and paper to write it all down. These bits of conversation are too precious to let slip away.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some Small Gain

There's no great loss without some small gain.

I can hear the voices of my "elders"--those who have gone before me, especially the women in my family--saying these words, using them in a myriad of situations, bringing comfort and perspective in the face of tragedies big and small. I was reminded of these words today when we had our own--albeit minor--tragedy here.

Someone (something?) stole our grapes.

We have a wonderful old grapevine that faithfully produces luscious Concord grapes every year, and we had been keeping an eye on it in recent days as the grapes ripened. Fortunately, they weren't ripe during the time when we got our five bushels of peaches from a local orchard; one canning project at a time is plenty! But now the peaches have all been dealt with, and it was time to turn our attention to the grapes.

When my mother walked by the vine yesterday and checked them, she noticed that quite a few were gone from the eastern end of the vine; but lots more remained on the western side. Today, however, when she had gotten the old enamel bucket out of the cellar and a pair of clippers to cut the clusters off the vine, she walked to the grapevine and returned with this. Only this.
Out of all the gorgeous clusters that had been on the vine only a day or so ago, this was all that remained--hardly enough to cover the bottom of the bucket.

It was shocking, mysterious, and disappointing enough to make Josiah cry this morning when Mother came in and reported the news. He was finally consoled when she took him down to the cellar so he could see for himself that we still have lots of grape juice left from other years--27 quarts is what they counted. But we're left puzzled by the strange disappearance of our grapes. We don't know whether the culprit was of the winged or two-footed or four-footed variety. We've never had this problem before so there's nothing to go on in our investigation. Would squirrels or raccoons or possums climb up and consume the grapes so quickly? If it was birds, it must have been a whole flock of them to pull off such speedy destruction. And if it was a person--well, I just hate to think that it could have been that. Who would do that? When? And why?

So as we ponder our "great loss," we do give thanks for a "small gain": since the grapes are gone, we don't have to spend hours tediously pulling grapes off stems, washing them, and squeezing the juice out, then standing over a hot canner to preserve it. The project that my mother thought would occupy her week suddenly got erased from the to-do list. I wonder what she'll do with all her leisure time! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Simple Sunday - Good Food

~ thankful for good food to eat...this weekend, we enjoyed a visit from our friends Steve and Claire from Hampton Roads; and at one point, I was telling Claire how glad I am that I'm not a cow (that has to eat the same old grass and grain all the time) or a car (that only gets filled up with one thing: gasoline)...instead, we have such a variety of foods to eat...the numerous ways that we can combine ingredients to produce different tastes is a delight to me; and even if I cooked a different food every day for a year (or two or three or ten), I still wouldn't exhaust all the food that I enjoyed making--and eating!--this weekend is this delicious sweet potato casserole, a recipe that I got from the first cook I ever loved: my mother :)

Sweet Potato Casserole

Note: The amounts given first are for a 9 x 13 dish, and the amounts in parentheses are for a 10 x 15 dish. I always make the larger amount because, for something this good, more is better! :)

2 (3) cans sweet potatoes (cans are 1 lb, 13 oz size)
1/4 (1/2) c. butter
1/2 (3/4) c. brown sugar
2 (3) eggs
1 (2) tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients until fluffy. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 (or 10 x 15) dish.

1/2 (3/4) c. brown sugar
1/2 (3/4) c. flour
1/4 (1/2) c. butter
1 (1 & 1/2) c. nuts (I used pecans)

Mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Crumble over potatoes, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On My Must-Read List... the book 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child by Jeffrey Bernstein. I've got it here beside me as I type, and I'm actually looking forward to Shav waking in the night to nurse so that I can start reading it then. :) If the book is all it's promoted to be, by September 21, I should have this dearly beloved, but often distracted, child of mine all figured out, right? :)

He can be such a charmer; but what a puzzle for me to figure out how to inspire and motivate him, how to lead and guide him, how to shepherd his little heart! As often as I scratch my head and think, "How in the world am I supposed to effectively parent him?" I also find myself throwing my head back and laughing at his latest comment or action. Today, for example, David came upstairs from the library where he was having quiet time because he just HAD to show me what he was up to. Apparently, he's gotten the idea that not only does a policeman carry a walkie-talkie on his belt (or on the elastic waist of his sweatpants, if he doesn't happen to be wearing a belt)...
...he also carries a gun stuck down inside his waistband. David's "guns," in this case, are plastic support pieces for a racetrack for toy cars...
...but in his mind, they were guns, and he was THRILLED that he had FIVE of them. He kept counting them and telling me how many there were, and all I could do was smile at the sight of his baggy little pants stretched out to hold all this plastic. Far from being an imposing police officer, he was a slightly ridiculous sight; but he didn't know that, so he simply radiated joy as he basked in the thought of all those weapons! What a boy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When Did They Get So Big?

(Today's date is 9/9/09, and I didn't even think about how cool that is until I wrote a check tonight and realized the pattern. Wouldn't it be neat to be born on this day? :) But on to serious stuff...)

Every so often, a moment will come along that stands out to me with suddenness and clarity, reminding me that these sons of mine, who all started as tiny beings within me (too small to be seen with the naked eye), are growing up and have, all at once, become HUGE! :)

I've had these moments in regard to each of the boys recently; and for fun, I decided to record them so that I can someday look back, when my boys are grown men, and remember some of my thoughts at various stages of their growing years. Here are my recent "aha! he's getting big!" moments...

Josiah: I was folding the laundry when I held up one of his shirts and thought how big it looked...could such a big shirt possibly fit him?...well, yes, it could--and does...he's not wearing little boy shirts anymore because he's not a little boy!

David: seeing him in a pair of pajamas that Josiah wore as recently as last winter...when I had moved those pajamas into David's dresser, I had thought that they would be huge on him this year...but actually, much to my surprise, they fit just fine!

Tobin: realizing that much of the time, he is in a vertical position...I don't know if that makes sense, but I'll try to explain...I remember some months ago, I tried to picture what he would look like when he was standing and walking; but it's always a hard jump for me to imagine this little body that mostly lays or sits suddenly able to be upright and sustain himself in a vertical position...but now, Tobin does it without noticeable effort...and though he may not be fluidly walking yet, he certainly does spend quite a bit of time standing and cruising...I know it changes his perspective tremendously to be able to do that, and it also changes my perspective of him--from the horizontal Tobin to the vertical one

Shav: looking at him in his cradle and noticing how long he's true that he's lengthened since birth; but I guess my perception of him is also changing because he's spending more time stretched out, rather than curled in the typical newborn ball so he looks even longer than his actual growth would account any case, he seems to take up so much room in his cradle these days!

And now, pictures from one of the most exciting, yet heart-wrenching, when-did-they-get-so-big days: the first day of school!

Yesterday was the first one for us, and here is Josiah, our second-grade scholar...
...who is often serious, but can also be a bit of a goofball. :)
David "officially" started preschool yesterday and has been so excited about this. It's a BIG DEAL to him so even though I was planning to not put much emphasis on organized school for him this year, I've revised my thinking since he is so very eager to do school.
Gotta have a picture of all four boys...and gotta put a link to the first day of school last year and the year before...hey, every year, another son gets added into the picture! whew, I don't think I can keep up at this rate, so don't expect a 5th son by the time Josiah starts 3rd grade :)...
...and apparently, we also need one of Mommy and three of the boys. So said Josiah, the photographer.
David had to have his turn with the camera; that's a given. As I looked through the pictures he took, this one struck me. Something about Tobin's expression stood out to me, so I took this SOOC image...
...and edited it a little to get this...
...and edited it still more to get this.
That image, more than any other, sums up everything that I've been trying to express in this post. When exactly did he get so big? When did Tobin change from a baby into this boy? Tobin wasn't even born yet when I started this blog; in fact, I wasn't even pregnant with him. And now, look at him. Just look at him.

Time marches on and waits for no one. I want to grasp it in my hands sometimes and hang onto it with all my might, but it slips away regardless. For that reason, tomorrow I'm going to stop what I'm doing to listen intently to Josiah, to watch David do his silly version of jumping jacks, to blow raspberries on Tobin's tummy, and to rub Shav's sweet, soft head. That's the only way I can fight against this too-fast thing called time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TTT - Like a Snake!

David, being four years old, is at that wonderful age of expressing himself so freely that I'm consistently provided with plenty of Tiny Talk Tuesday fodder! Here are some things I jotted down from this past week...

One evening we were playing outside; and as I was pushing him on the swing, he suddenly burst forth into jubilant singing. The lyrics of his homemade song were...ummm...inspiring? He sang joyfully, "Oh, I wish I could scratch my back!" :) Well, my boy, it's a good thing you're just wishing that and not doing it, because if you were, you would probably fall off the swing. David's frequent musical outbursts often remind me of something that one of my music professors, Dr. Landis, used to say: if you don't spontaneously have a song in your mind at least once a day, you shouldn't even think about studying music or trying to make a career of it. With David's regular pattern of making music--whether composing his own little ditties, singing something he's learned, or simply humming a tune he's heard before--I'd say he could meet that qualification of being a musician quite easily!


Over supper one evening, David was trying to get Jeff to guess the name of a new friend David had met that day. He said, "Guess what his name is! You have 10 guesses." So Jeff started saying various names; but before he had even gotten to 10, David wanted to give him a hint so he helpfully said, "It starts with..." But then he stopped, because he wasn't sure what the first letter of the name really was. Suddenly he blurted out, "What does Kevin start with?" Fortunately David wasn't offended when we all burst out laughing at how he had given his secret away, and he even joined heartily in the merriment. He likes to make us laugh, he does!


On Sunday evening, Jeff killed a snake in our yard. That's a whole other story, and I hope to post about that someday soon...but I do want to record here that David, being the brave adventurer that he is, wanted to touch it. He must get that part of his nature from his daddy because the very thought of touching a snake makes my heart rate escalate--and not in a good way. Anyway, after he touched it, I asked him what it felt like, wondering what kind of a descriptor he would use for it. With an enormous amount of excitement reflected in his eyes and his voice, David exclaimed, "Pretty much like a snake!" Profound, my boy; that's profound. :)

Here's the fearless boy, actually holding the snake by the tail--holding half of the snake, that is, because Jeff chopped it in two in the process of killing it. At this point, the body of the snake was still wiggling around like they do after they're dead; it didn't freak David out too much though. Josiah, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with touching that creepy thing. See how he's in the background, armed and dangerous with a hoe, ready to attack the vile creature again if it should suddenly come back to life? He's a boy after my own heart. Jeff struck the snake three times, convincingly killing it--it was in two pieces, after all. I would have struck it at least 50 times--and more, if it needed it. :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shav at Seven Weeks

To celebrate Labor Day (as well as jump start our celebration for the first day of school tomorrow), we took the boys out for breakfast at IHOP this morning. After a stop at Walmart and Home Depot, we came home; and I took Shav and headed outside to snap some pictures of him. It was fun--for me, at least. :) Actually, Shav did well, too, and didn't fuss at all. He didn't sleep either, but that's OK since he's past that sleeps-all-the-time newborn stage.

I like this first picture a lot...
...but Jeff says it looks like Shav is crying in it. As a matter of fact, he's smiling; and when I see this picture, I see joy: arms thrown out, feet kicking happily, not a care in the world, the I'm-naked-under-a-tree-and-I'm-soon-going-to-pee-on-this-blanket kind of joy. But to others, maybe he looks fussy. Oh, well, I still like it. :)

David came over after a few minutes and wanted to be in the pictures, too. He usually planted himself right in front of Shav, completely blocking Shav's face; but for this one, I told him where to sit and he complied. He surely loves his brothers.

David, being the hands-on boy that he is, wanted to take some pictures by himself, so I passed off the camera to him and followed his instructions to get in the picture with Shav. The result was a few blurry washed-out images...and one happy four year-old who got to do it ALL BY HIMSELF. From one of the pictures he took, I did some editing and ended up with this...
...which still isn't that great because it looks like I'm kissing a ghost--an adorable little ghost, to be sure, but a ghost nonetheless. I didn't know how to get Shav any darker though.

Last week I forgot to post anything about Shav's current weight, so before I forget again, let me mention that as of 6 weeks, he weighed 12 pounds and was 23 inches long--a healthy size and a good rate of growth. He's grown out of quite a few of his 0-3 month clothes, so I got out the plastic storage box of 3-6 month items and he looks good in those. :)

Shav still usually wakes up two times in the night to nurse, and I'm looking forward to that becoming "once" rather than "twice." He almost always goes right back to sleep after he eats, but last night he was much more interested in lying in my arms and looking at me and at the frames on the wall behind me than he was in sleeping. After I spent some time holding and rocking him, I decided that we had had enough face-to-face bonding time for the moment and we should continue it during daylight hours :) I went ahead and laid him back in his cradle while he was wide awake. He's still a little iffy on the task of getting himself to sleep in his cradle--sometimes it's easy and sometimes not--so I was very curious to see how he would do last night. Wonder of wonders, he did it! I'm so proud of him for how he's progressing towards this important skill of being able to get himself to sleep.

Over the weekend, I got more one-on-one time with Shav than I usually do; and I discovered all over again how delightful it is to have a newborn and be able to really enjoy time with him. For one thing, he's an excellent cuddle buddy, and I took advantage of that fact this afternoon when I napped with him on my chest--something I rarely do, but which I enjoy a lot. I can't say it often enough: it's such a treasure to have Shav, and we are so very blessed by his presence in our family. To have four happy, healthy, growing boys--and to be complimented on them by people we sat near at IHOP this morning as well as people we sat near at Dairy Queen tonight (where we ended this special day of celebration)--well, sometimes it seems almost too good to be true. My cup of blessings runneth over!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Simple Sunday - Flexibility

~ thankful for the lessons in flexibility that I'm learning...I can clearly see that after Tobin's birth and now after Shav's (and probably after Josiah's and David's, too, but I'm having a harder time remembering those), my nature tries to jump into hyper-control's as if I can deal more effectively with all the newness and craziness of the adjustment to another member of the family if I can just control everything: every situation, every reaction, every way of doing things...of course, this is about as effective as Adam and Eve covering themselves with leaves, but my nature still tries to do this...these days, I'm learning--again--how important it is to let go of the reins; to realize that I won't be, and shouldn't be, in control of everything; to relax and go with the flow; and to live with a great degree of flexibility every single day...I was reminded of this need for flexibility last night and this morning when, because of Tobin and even sweet little Shav not feeling well, we decided that I should stay home with them from our church service out at Highland Retreat...I had been looking forward to this so much and was honestly quite disappointed to miss it...when Jeff and the older boys drove off in the van this morning, I kind of wanted to cry; but instead I kept reminding myself that this is a season of life and seasons are of these days, I won't be a mother of young children who has to stay home from enjoyable activities because one of the little ones is sick; and when that time comes, I'll undoubtedly miss this! today, I'm striving to get rid of the rigidness that tries to creep into my mind and instead walk with flexibility, bowing gracefully like a willow tree in the wind whenever unexpected events come along to change the way I think things are going to go
~ by the way, for pictures of my boys back at Highland Retreat, check out Emily's blog...I LOVE the fact that she takes pictures of my boys when I'm not around and posts them on her makes me feel like I'm not missing out on quite as much when I can't be in more than one place at a time! :)
~ to explain about these pictures, Jeff took these several months ago, actually on July 4th after we had watched our local parade...they are part of a set of pictures that shows up on my screensaver; and I'm inspired, whenever I see them, to be more flexible in how I live my days...I may not be able to suck on my toes like Tobin can...
...or poke myself in the eye with my big toe, but I CAN exercise flexibility in other ways...Tobin's physical abilities inspire me to greater heights of mental flexibility, and these pictures serve as visual aids for me in the process of striving to attain that