Sunday, January 31, 2010

Butter and Honey


~ I took this picture in our kitchen - January 29, 2010

This verse inspired my recent recurring prayer for my sons: that they may know to refuse the evil...

AND CHOOSE THE GOOD!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday, Snow, Shav

It's snowing today. Beautiful, beautiful snow. I haven't been outside to measure; but from the looks of it, I'd say we've gotten 5-6 inches. The "still a kid" part of me gets so excited when I see it start to snow, and I always wish it would snow more!

The boys and I stayed close to the woodstove this morning, spending extra time relaxing in our pajamas and reading. We finished In Grandma's Attic; and today, when Josiah and David kept asking for "one more chapter" each time we finished the previous one, I was happy to oblige.

And then, Jeff came home early from work! Always a good thing.

Life is sweet...

And so is Shav. Did you know that his third tooth broke through today? A tiny glint of white in his right front upper gum told me that, at last, that tooth had officially arrived, after being a bulge in the gum for many days.

He rolled over again this morning, when I had him on the living room floor while I played a game of Skip-Bo with Josiah and David before Tobin woke up. He still seemed pleased as punch at his accomplishment.

And do you know what else? Shav slept through the night last night! For the first time in a long time, he slept all the way through--from the time I put him in bed a little after 8:00 PM last evening until 6:46 AM this morning. I'm not quite as excited as I was when he first started sleeping through the night at two months of age...but almost.

Here is Shav getting a drum lesson from big brother David (who helpfully arranged toys and various other items just so in order for Shav to reach the drum while he was seated in the Bumbo):
video
And here is David pretending to take a picture of Shav (with my old, OLD camera that's now relegated to the toy chest--the kind of camera that uses film--"what is film?" my children will one day ask):
video
I have to say it again: life is so sweet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Professor

David desperately wanted glasses.

I was unaware of this fact, but apparently he's been asking Jeff for a pair for months! Where have I been? Maybe the reason he asked Jeff and not me is because Jeff occasionally wears glasses (when he's giving his eyes a break from his contacts). In any case, during their expedition to the mall a few nights ago, Jeff found a pair of glasses for David--actually, the lenses are plastic so should we call them "plastics"? David was beyond thrilled and has been wearing them almost nonstop since then.

I can barely keep a straight face when I see him in his glasses. I've taken to calling him "The Professor" because he looks so scholarly in them. Here he is doing a little light reading before bedtime...
...and the huge book on his lap?
It's the dictionary. No, he can't really read it; but he certainly can pretend.
It's hard for me to take The Professor seriously...
...even when he himself is serious.
Oh, David, what will you think of next?
Life would surely be dull without you to entertain us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Big Boy Bed

The first night in a big boy bed is wonderful and exciting, to be sure. However, it can also be a little difficult, since the temptation to get out of bed and wander into the hallway to get books off the shelves and find a balloon that's floated into the corner, to stand on the mattress and reach the doorknob and twist it back and forth again and again, to go over to the antique trunk in the corner of the bedroom and visit the stuffed animals that live on the trunk's top and choose another one to take to bed with you, etc...well, with all those distractions, no wonder it can be tough to fall asleep!

Tonight was The Night for Tobin: his first night sleeping in his new bed. Jeff had gotten a mattress for him today (secondhand), and we decided to go ahead with the transition. With Tobin graduating to sleeping in his new bunk bed, Shav was now able to sleep in the crib which Jeff moved back into our nursery this evening. I wasn't sure how Shav would do when I put him to bed in the crib since that was a brand new experience for him, but he didn't fuss a bit. I think he's really going to like the extra space that he has in the crib. I did notice how little he looked in it! Recently, he had been looking so big in the cradle; but when I laid him in the crib, I couldn't help but think how small he still seemed.

While I was getting the crib ready for Shav, giving him his last feeding of the day, tucking him in bed, cleaning and organizing Tobin's newly-rearranged room, putting new sheets on the bed, and all of those fun little projects, Jeff was at our local mall with the three oldest boys, hoping to tire Tobin out with all the activity so that he would fall asleep quickly, even in a new environment. They walked and walked and walked, all over the mall--so much good exercise for Tobin's little legs! When they got home, Tobin was delighted to see his new bed made up for him...
...so delighted, in fact, that it took him nearly two hours to fall asleep! Finally, after numerous reminders and interventions from me, a few minutes before 11:00 PM, he couldn't resist sleep's allure any longer; and he gave in, feet on his pillow, head toward the foot of the bed, a teddy bear on one side of him, books on the other, eyes sweetly closed, breathing steady and peaceful.

Finally, success!

Monday, January 25, 2010

When Kids Get the Camera...

...you never know what kinds of pictures will show up!

This afternoon, I was taking advantage of the warm (in the 50's) temperature and playing outside with the three older boys while Shav was in his cradle. We were having a lot of fun, until it started raining. None of us really wanted to come in; but I consoled the boys with the thought that after we came in, we could look towards the east from the porch on the opposite side of the house...and maybe there would be a rainbow. I secretly doubted that there would be, but my doubts were proved wrong when we discovered this beauty shining in the sky:
Josiah wanted to take some pictures of the rainbow, so I got my old camera and handed it off to him and he got busy. He took the picture above and the next two below (and the first one below is the only one I edited at all; all the rest in this post are SOOC).
For the picture below: it's impossible to tell, but the end of the rainbow was coming down right behind this group of trees, and Josiah was trying to show that.

Then, of course, David had to have a turn, so Josiah reluctantly turned the camera over to him...and David kept it for the next several hours, having a blast taking pictures (80+) of anything and everything that caught his fancy. I was quite amused tonight when I downloaded the pictures and discovered some "treasures." Here are the best of the best! :)

Tobin with a shoe that Josiah left on the steps:

Some sort of made-up game Josiah was playing with the Risk pieces (he had told me earlier that the Risk board was too small so he had to use the floor):

The ceiling fan in Josiah and David's room, along with part of the dark blue "sky" ceiling, complete with stars, moon, and planets:

A self-portrait (when David saw this, he said, "I wasn't smiling"):

Josiah smiled:

The Risk board caught David's attention again:

The gloves we wear when we build up the fire in our woodstove:

A book Josiah was reading before supper:

Shav waiting in his highchair for his supper:

Shav's supper (part of it):

A blurry picture of our broom:

And, finally, our living room rug:
What fun to see the world through David's eyes for a few hours! Now if only I could figure out a way to get inside his head and discover what he's thinking... :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Never-Failing Stream


~ Jeff took this picture from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls - fall 2007

I had this verse in mind to use for one of these Truth-Light-Hammer-Fire posts sometime; but when Jeff started sharing his excitement with me this week over what he was reading in Amos and actually mentioned this verse, I knew it was the one for today.

Ready to feel God's hammer? Read this verse and the preceding ones in The Message:
I can't stand your religious meetings.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?

Do you know what I want?
I want justice--oceans of it.
I want fairness--rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want.
Ouch!

Ouch, but at the same time, yes, God. Peel away the layers of religiosity that blind us to the true meaning of knowing You. Knowing You, following You, loving You, being with You, seeing the world through Your eyes, having my heart beat just like Yours, being immersed in the never-failing stream that is Your righteousness--that's what I want.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On a Roll

Guess who rolled over today for the first time? Here's a clue:
We were having some tummy time together, and he pushed and pushed and finally rolled over, tummy to back, then lay there and grinned and grinned as I cheered. I put him on his tummy again, and the same thing happened. Pushed, rolled, grinned, cheered. It's a beautiful thing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Current Loves

The beauty of blogging is being able to capture, with the 26 letters of our alphabet and a wonderful invention called a camera, irreplaceable moments in time. Tonight I want to capture something about each of my sons at this unique stage of their lives.

Josiah:
~ loves Pig Latin...Jeff taught him the basics of speaking in Pig Latin, and the secret-code nature of it quickly intrigued Josiah...besides speaking in it on occasion, he also has written some notes to Jeff in Pig Latin...I'm dreadfully slow when it comes to understanding it, but I'm getting pretty quick with one phrase: "I-ay ove-lay ou-yay"
~ loves poker...poker!...is that legal for a 7 year-old to play?? :) ...Josiah saw it on a Star Trek DVD he watched, so he wanted to learn how to play it (he's a huge fan of games)...Jeff taught him, and that was it: now Josiah plays poker!...we have, however, eliminated the betting aspect of it; he can't even bet with pennies; he was mildly disappointed but got over it without too much ado...poker is actually a great game because it can be played quickly and can be stopped whenever desired, unlike Skip-Bo or Phase Ten which can stretch on and on (although both Josiah and I really enjoy both of those games, too)

David:
~ loves learning to read...I could write a whole post about this; but briefly, David kept asking me to teach him to read, and I kept putting it off...his persistence paid off, and I finally said, "OK, you're only 4 years old, and I wasn't planning to even attempt this until the fall; but if you really want me to, I'll get out our trusty Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and we'll start"...there's nothing like such an enthusiastic teacher, right? ;) ...wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, he's doing FANTASTIC with it...every morning when we start school, he begs to do his reading lesson first...I'm incredibly proud of him
~ loves the fact that he was born in Israel...in our family, three of us were born in Virginia, two in California, and only one in Israel...recently David has enjoyed telling various people that he was born in Israel, and it makes me happy to see him take such joy in that specialness...he's quick to identify an Israeli flag when he sees it (like in a row of flags in the sanctuary of a church we recently visited), and the picture below shows his attempt at drawing the Israeli flag...I'm not sure if he even realizes that the star in the center of Israel's flag is called a Star of David...appropriate, isn't it?

Tobin:
~ loves to go to the bathroom in the bathroom...I wasn't even considering diving into the whirlpool of potty training with him at this time, since both Josiah and David were quite a bit older before they ever achieved any success in that department...but shortly before his second birthday, Tobin started indicating when he needed to go; and when we put him on the potty, he went!!...although I want to take advantage of his current interest in all things toilet-related, I haven't yet made the leap to fully commit to this...I need to be more consistent with this so that he will be, too; but some days, that's easier said than done!...still, I'm so proud of him for his success so far with this
~ loves to hug and kiss his brothers...sometimes, his hugs and kisses look and feel more like a tackle; but the thought is good...and he can finally, truly kiss--not the sniff/kiss he used to do--but a real kiss!...it's delightful to see him toddle over to Josiah or David and, without any nudging from me, express his love to them in such a sweet, innocent way...plus, now when I'm holding him and I give him a big hug, I can feel him squeezing back...learning how to hug and kiss is one of the most important lessons in life :)

Shav:
~ loves baby food...I had not planned to start him on baby food at such a young age; but when he hit that fussy-and-not-going-to-sleep-through-the-night stage at about 5 months, I quickly decided that it might be worth it to start him on solid foods to see if it would help him sleep better...obviously, that wasn't the magic cure to his sleep woes; but he does like to eat! :) ...I started him on rice cereal mixed with water, then eventually added sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, squash...now I mix his rice cereal with apple juice (and I happened to lick my finger today after I spilled a drop of it there, and I was reminded of how unappetizing that stuff is! but I haven't told him that, and he gobbles it up)...green beans was his newest food, and I thought he might resist that since it's not as sweet as the other things I've given him; but I was wrong--he ate it just fine
~ loves me!...he's not yet shy about being handed off to others; but when I leave his line of vision, he's been known to mildly protest...and when he's tired and/or fussy, I'm the one he wants...what a privilege to be so loved and needed!
What a privilege to be the mother of these four little men!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Have You Seen This?

My Aunt Elaine sent me a link to this video. I can't watch it without getting all choked up. The incredible musical gifts this young man has are amazing! And to think that the vast majority of people in the US would say a baby in utero with those defects should be aborted. Shameful! And then to see the loving relationship between this father and his son...well, I just can't help but get teary-eyed. Whew, let me go grab a tissue...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Half a Year

Six months ago, it was summer.
Six months ago, we didn't have a skiff of snow on the ground like we do tonight.

Six months ago, I wasn't at home.
Six months ago, I was in the hospital.

Six months ago, I was enjoying the first blissful night of life with Shav on the outside!

To celebrate Shav's half-birthday today, he and I went on a walk. To my dad's office. For Shav to be weighed and measured (16 pounds, 28 inches), but not to be given a shot because, after all, he has a cough and we wouldn't want to vaccinate him while his body is already fighting off a cold! Any excuse will do when it comes to delaying the misery of giving him a shot. :)

I wanted to take some special pictures of him today, so I attempted to do so this morning in a quick photo shoot with poor lighting. Photographically, I'm not thrilled at all with the results. Emotionally, I love them.

I wanted to do a reenactment of this picture of him, taken in late July for my August header.

Here he is today, in all his grinning, I-don't-fit-on-the-chair-anymore glory.

In this picture, his two little teeth are visible...and his sweet smile...how I love it!

Then it was time for him to sit up on the chair to show off what a big boy he is. (Not visible in this picture: Josiah waiting just to the right of Shav, in case Shav lost his balance and started to fall off the chair. Which he did--a few times. Lost his balance, that is--he didn't actually fall!)

This is Shav's alert, what's-going-on look.

And another one of his funny faces...I smile just looking at this picture. :)

Here's a more natural smile from Shav.

When I see this picture, I imagine him saying, "Uh, Mom, did you know there's a tiger on my back? Maybe you could...um...get him off me?!" :)

"Oh, never mind, he can stay. I'll smile anyway." :)

Oh, sweet Shav, how we love you! You have been a precious gift to us for six whole months, and we can't even imagine our family without you. When we look at family pictures from before you were born, they just don't look right anymore! Thank you for all the joy and smiles and laughter and love you bring to us. You are an exquisite treasure!

Happy half-birthday, little dear one!!

********

Thanks to everyone for the very kind comments left on my blogiversary post; I am so blessed to be part of such an encouraging, supportive community, and I wish I could meet each of you in real life! I also wish I could give each of you a prize, but the winner of the giveaway (selected by asking Josiah and David--then Jeff, too--to choose a number between 1 and 22, then taking the median of those numbers) is commenter #9, Tim and Michelle! We know Tim from the semester when Jeff and I were students in Jerusalem (and oh, what a semester that was! who knew that a California guy and a Virginia girl would meet and fall in love halfway around the world in Israel?); and although we've never met his wife Michelle, I feel like I know her because of blogging. They are serving the Lord in Mexico, and I admire them both for their passion for God and for the lost. Plus, they've got incredibly cute children. :)

Congrats, Tim and Michelle!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2 Reasons We Have 4 Children

...and not, say, 1 or 2 kids.

Obviously, there are numerous reasons for our current family size, the most significant being God's plan for our family! But two factors recently came to mind as I was thinking about how, in the span of 7 years, 1 month, and 7 days, we went from a couple to a family of six.

1. I've never been plagued with bad morning sickness. My bout earlier this month with nausea and vomiting reminded me how completely wretched that stuff is. If I had to deal with that on a daily basis during pregnancy, I'm not sure I would have wanted to venture past two pregnancies!

2. My boys have been champion sleepers. I've always known that the first two or two and a half months would be challenging as far as lack of sleep; but at that age, each of my boys started blessedly sleeping through the night, which never fails to transform my whole outlook on life. If I had had children who just wouldn't sleep worth a lick, I don't think I would have been as eager to add to our brood. The reason I've had this on my mind this week is because my darling little Shav has been having a terrible time with sleep recently, and I've unfortunately been reminded in all too vivid ways how sleep deprivation messes with me. I never expected him to be a better sleeper at two months than he is at six months, but that seems to be the case. I feel like I've returned to the fog of one month postpartum, and I don't like it. Not one bit. I'm not entirely sure what is disrupting his sleep--teething (we do see and feel a bump where his right front upper tooth will emerge), sickness (he's had a cough for a while, and maybe other pain? but of course he can't tell us that), stubbornness (as one member of the family suggested this morning), a dislike of his cradle as he outgrows it (which will soon be remedied since we plan to move the crib back into his room as soon as we find a mattress for Tobin's new bed), or simply the dawning realization that crying loudly for a long time means someone will come to get him and he'll get to be held again. Who knows? When I'm thinking rationally, I'm fully aware that this too shall pass and one day he will again go to sleep peacefully by himself in his own bed and will sleep through the night and will go down easily for naps...and I will sleep more and will actually feel rested. "One day" can't come soon enough. I've often said that I take my hat off to moms who, for various reasons, have to deal with chronic sleep deprivation because I don't know how they do it. I feel that way again. If my sons had not been such great sleepers, I'm not sure I would have felt ready to dive into the parenting ring again.

Of course, sometimes we don't feel ready, and we still end up diving in! ;)

In the end, I have to say that I'm immensely thankful that I didn't have bad morning sickness and that I did have boys who learned to sleep well at a young age because I simply can't imagine not having one of the children who have been given to us. I know you don't fully miss what you've never had, but still, what a tragedy that would have been!

* By the way, if you want to enter the giveaway for my blogging anniversary, click over to my previous post and leave a comment there!

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Calls for a Celebration!

Three years ago today, I ventured uncertainly but enthusiastically into the world of blogging. I remember vividly the thoughts I had: this is fun, but will I keep it up?? Not ever having been a tremendously consistent journaler, I had serious doubts about my ability to stick with this. Three years and 1,141 posts later, I have my answer. It's still fun; and yes, I'll keep it up!

To celebrate, how about a giveaway? To be entered for this drawing, simply leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 12:00 noon. I'll have one of my boys help me randomly choose a winner.

And the prize? A $15 gift certificate to Amazon.com. The winner should be able to find something she (or, improbably, he) likes there. :)

All of this just to say THANK YOU for sharing our life here on...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Like Dreams that Disappear *Updated*


~ Jeff took this picture on one of the back roads near our house - August 2009

The heart-rending tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti is but the latest reminder of the brevity of life. Truly, none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Is that a depressing thought? Is the idea of God "sweeping us away like dreams that disappear" cause for undue mourning? Not necessarily. Not if, as I firmly believe, the hope of heaven changes everything. And not according to the author of Psalm 90, a psalm that is filled with trust and hope and longing for God to be glorified. It begins, "Lord, through all the generations, you have been our home!" and ends with "Let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!" That's a prayer I can pray with all my heart!

* I've thought a lot about this verse and this post during the past 24 hours. Shav's frequent night waking helped me to truly meditate day AND NIGHT on God's word. :) A few other thoughts have come to me that I want to jot down:

~ My heart breaks more and more as I read further reports from Haiti. The suffering is unimaginable, and I know that God's heart is aching, too, as He sees the full extent of the pain and devastation there.

~ When I think of death, another verse often comes to my mind: "Brothers, we do not want you to...grieve like the rest of men who have no hope." (I Thess. 4:13) Whether death comes in the form of an earthquake, or a disease, or a car accident, or a criminal act, whether it comes to myriads of people at the same time or one by one, our reaction, despite our deep grief, can still be hope--all because of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. One thing is certain: death will come to all of us (unless Jesus returns first, of course!). When we stick our head in the sand and pretend like we'll live forever, we live unwisely; but when we embrace the realization that the day of our passing from this life to the next is coming, it changes the choices we make each day, paring down the peripheral issues to those things that truly matter in the light of eternity.

~ Sometimes when tragedies are as huge as this one, we feel helpless to make any difference. But in this situation, there are a myriad of opportunities for each of us to reach out and extend a helping hand--no matter how small--to our neighbors to the south. I've heard and read from a number of people who have personal connections to Haiti, and I know that the hearts of many, many people are being stirred to assist the beloved people of Haiti.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Birthday Report

Finally! I finally have the time, energy, peace, and quiet to finish this post about Tobin's birthday!

As I mentioned before, Emily came over in the afternoon, and I gladly handed my camera to her so she could have fun taking pictures of the boys.

Especially this boy...
Sometimes he sucked his thumb...sometimes he was serious...
Sometimes he was with his brothers...
Sometimes he was alone...
He smiled again...
And again...
And here he is with his very own birthday photographer...I liked having Emily here to take these pictures so much that I might try to talk her into coming over on David's birthday to do the same thing...and then on Josiah's birthday...and then Shav's...and then--well, maybe a new tradition has been started! :)
Then Emily took the boys outside where Tobin looked adorable...
Pointed...
Shoveled snow... (well, sort of)...
Smiled...
Looked thoughtful...
Smiled again...
And got scooped up by his mama who loves him SO much!

Later that evening, after we took Emily home and went to Josiah's choir class and came home to have supper (and while everyone else ate, I made the icing and finished the cake--whew, there's nothing like doing it at the last minute!), we sang to Tobin (again!) and gave him a few gifts.
This musical birthday card, which plays the Winnie the Pooh theme when opened, was a big hit...
As was this soft lamb puppet that Grandma and Grandpa gave him...
Time for a cuddle...
Then Jeff gave Tobin a gift that he bought for him...
A Winnie the Pooh letter game...
I think this picture says it all. :)

Tobin's real gift for this birthday was a new bed! Since Shav is outgrowing the cradle and soon needs the crib, we decided to go ahead and get a bunk bed for Tobin, knowing that after a few years, he and Shav will more than likely share a room. We ordered the bed through Ebay, and it came the day after his birthday--came in pieces, of course. The following day, Jeff built it, with the help of Josiah and David who were so proud and delighted to use their very own tools that Jeff had gotten them for Christmas (REAL tools, not toys, in a real toolbox--a set for each of them--what a wise father to get a gift like that for his sons!). I'm sure in years to come, Josiah and David will be thrilled to tell Tobin, "We helped make your bed!" :) Jeff was such a patient teacher as David "helped" him...
...and as Josiah did his part.
Meanwhile, Tobin looked on, stylishly clad in cowboy boot slippers, blue jeans that kept falling down, diaper sticking out above his waistband, no shirt, and thumb in his mouth.
When you're two, you can get away with this look. :)