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Friday, March 31, 2006

Soccer Ball!



Thursday, March 30, 2006

Visit from Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat

The kids thouroughly enjoyed a visit from Great Uncle Ron and Aunt Pat last week. The minute they stepped in the door Zachary started up a conversation with G. Uncle Ron and started giggling at him.


















Zoe had fun playing with her goofy singing bunny with G. Aunt Pat.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Perspective

“How can you listen to people’s problems all day long?” is a question I get asked frequently. “Doesn’t it depress you?”

The truth of the matter is, I just don’t think of it that way. The way I see it we live in a world that is pretty messed up and as a result, a lot of messed-up stuff happens. Whether I listen to people’s problems or not, the “messed-up-ness” of the world is still there. It would do no good for me to stick my head in the sand. If I ever pulled it back out and wiped the sand from my eyes, the messed-up-ness would all still be there. Nothing I can do will change the bigger picture, and since I believe in Biblical prophecy, I also believe that the “messed-up-ness” will continue to escalate until God decides He has waited long enough for His beloved to figure out that it will not work to deny Him, or even worse--to curse Him, that we cannot fix the messes we’ve created on our own, and that trying do so only contributes more to the messed-up-ness. The best I can do in the meantime is answer the tug He has put on my heart to provide counsel to those in the midst of the messed-up-ness. If there is anything I can do to help a person decide to stop contributing the messed-up-ness or pick up the pieces from being on the receiving end of the messed-up-ness (both tend to go hand-in-hand), that is what my work, and my passion, is all about.

That being said, occasionally I have a day where I have to listen to some stuff that truly jars me. Yesterday was one of those days, and perhaps the first time I’ve left a day of work feeling like I wanted to throw up. I felt relieved to settle into the privacy of my car for the long commute home where I could shed some tears. I don’t understand all the disgusting stuff I hear about; I cannot digest how children can be so de-valued and treated as if their lives are completely worthless. But that is the world we live in. Sometimes it hits a little close to home if it involves a little girl the same age as my own Dear One. That's when I take some deep breaths, and thank God for my Precious Ones and feel overwhelmed by the inherent value and worth of their little lives, as if somehow I could make up for the rotten, disgusting, sordid lot of all the mistreated children by loving and cherishing my own even more.

I held it together by imagining the reward of a child who has gone to Heaven and gets to be with Jesus and experience being loved and cherished, perhaps for the first time. I pictured lots of mistreated children crawling into the lap of the King and being snuggled and loved and held close and valued in a way so much more deeply than even healthy, well adjusted parents can do. Then I prayed that in spite of my own shortcomings that God would help me love and value my own children more deeply every day, and I hurried home, dropping my belongings in the doorway as I rushed to hug my Beautiful Ones.

Monday, March 27, 2006

World of Make-Believe

In the world of a toddler, nothing is ordinary. My daughter has demonstrated her limitless imagination over the past several months, and the things she comes up with are fascinating. In her world, an empty clothesbasket becomes a “fishing boat” in which she can climb and pretend to fish for whales on the Oregon coast. Her nightstand is a stove and a counter on which she makes “supper” (usually pancakes). Her lamp (a Winnie-the-Pooh relic that used to belong to her daddy) is the supplier of ingredients for the pancakes as she pinches on Pooh’s ears and adds mysterious invisible flavorings to her yummy meal. Then she hands me an invisible pancake and warns me, “It’s very very hot, so be careful!”

A stick in the yard is a fishing pole and the flower bed is the pond. Her tricycle is a ride to the zoo, or sometimes the jungle, both of which exist at the end of our driveway. The neighboring homes and trees become the locations of various wild animals.

Oven mitts under each foot on the kitchen vinyl become “ice skates.” The ottoman becomes the check-out stand at her imaginary “Stuff Mart.” On her toy cell phone, she calls her “best friend” and holds a complete (one-sided) conversation.

If only my own pretending skills were as keen. I would pretend that there weren’t mountains of laundry always needing to be done, that I didn’t still have 18 pound of baby weight to lose, and that I was getting 10 hours of solid sleep every night.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Contentment

Contentment is a sense of existence that far too often seems to elude people. Our culture tries to ensure this by suggesting that we always need to strive for bigger, better, more. From bigger homes to bigger cheeseburgers. From better cars to better spouses. From more money to more possessions. It doesn't matter what our culture keeps us longing for as long as we keep longing and never never find ourselves content.

Lately I most often find myself at reflective checkpoints throughout each day just thinking that I've got it so good that it would be pure sinful gluttony to even consider wanting bigger, better, more. I just don't think Life can be any bigger, better, more than it already is without spoiling it all. It's like a handful of chocolate kisses that fulfills a craving in its optimal dosage--but to consume the entire bag ruins the whole thing.

Each time I hold my baby boy in my arms, look into his endearing cherub face, and hear his peaceful sighs is pure satisfaction. Each time he smiles at me, giggles at my silly antics, coos and practices using his new found vocal abilities is Life as perfect as I could imagine. Each time my daughter offers me hugs and kisses, tells me I'm her "best friend," or sings me a lullaby is happiness in peak performance. Every silly thing she says, funny expression on her face, and goofy antic is yet another "best moment ever."

I have the two most beautiful children on the planet, a husband who loves me in spite of myself, just the right balance of work and motherhood with a career I love and enjoy, no material need that goes unmet--a beautiful home, cars that get me from here to there when I need to go here or there, and food to fill the all the bellies that live in my home. Anything bigger, better, more would be an illusion just like the ones our culture tries to sell on us. There is no bigger, better, more. There is only what you have in the present, and the perception you take on it.

I know I would not have come to perceive Life this way without the two littlest people (and biggest blessings) that live in my home. Something about having children just changes your perspective--for the better. In spite of a culture that tries to convince me otherwise, I do believe I am living Life in its optimal dosage. To get distracted by wanting anything more would most certainly spoil it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Balloons!

My Beautiful Babies

Three Months




















Here is Zachary at the three month mark, and here is Zoe at the three month mark. As Zachary grows older, I think his resemblance to Zoe increases. And I think he gets cuter and sweeter by the day just as I remember feeling Zoe did. Sigh. I've got two beautiful kiddos, and life is good!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Big Boy




















Here's the evidence. The picture on the left is Zoe on 3/24/04 (7 1/2 months old) wearing the same sleeper that is on Zachary on 3/12/06 (3 months old).

Acrobatics

I don't know how she did it, but in less than two minutes when I had my back turned, Little Miss Acrobat managed to stack her new deck chair onto a kitchen chair, get her step stool, and climb up to the top without falling or making a sound. Still with my back turned (as I attended to Dear Son), I hear her excited voice exclaiming, "Mommy! Look what I did!" And there she sat, Queen of the Kitchen upon her throne, pleased as punch.

My heart skipped a beat and my thougths raced in circles of "how did she do THAT?" as I eyed the feet of the blue plastic deck chair teetering so close to the edge of the wooden kitchen chair. And apparently my adrenalin induced surprise produced an equally surprising reaction, as Dear Daughter began to cry. I guess I scared her. My immediate reaction after the inital shock was to think, "Where's the camera? I gotta get a picture of this!" But first I snatched Dear Daughter into my arms to calm her down and explain to her that it was too dangerous to do what she did, while I grabbed the camera and convinced her to sit in the chair another second while I took a picture of what she shouldn't have been doing. Can you say, "Mixed message?" I just couldn't resist. I had to catch this one on film.

Miss Vocabulary III

Dear Daughter just keeps at it these days...popping off phrases, that I have to admit, she has previously heard probably hundrends of times out of the mouth of yours truly. This time it was when Grandpa H was buckling her into her car seat. He was doing the usual routine of untangling straps and trying to attach the right buckle parts while Dear Daughter squirmed and wiggled and did the typical 2 1/2 year old thing. Finally Dear Daughter exclaims, "You're driving me nuts!" I immediately recognized that as a phrase I seem to frequently use with her as an effort to tease her while I try to take the edge off my own aggravation. Sort of a tension breaker. Yes, I must admit that her other recent statement of "This is a pain in the butt!" comes from me as well. And so did "Oh crap!" Take note that I quit saying, "Oh crap!" as soon as I realized I had a little parrot mirroring back my words and switched to "Doggone it!" which is something that Dear Daughter also now says at appropriate and opportune times. Dear Daughter is just so verbal and dramatic in her mannerisms. I just can't figure out where she gets that.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Smitten and Convinced

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know that I was apprehensive when we first discovered Dear Child Number Two was to be a boy. I just couldn’t imagine mothering a little boy and longed for a second little girl. A friend consoled me by saying, “Just wait. After he is born, you won’t be able to imagine wanting it any other way!” She was right.

I have completely fallen head-over-heels in love with Dear Son just as I did with Dear Daughter. I have been having a lot of fun shopping for both of them, and have been trying to always include Dear Son whenever Dear Daughter gets a treat when we are shopping. Last weekend I took Dear Daughter to Walgreens with me. Walgreens was selling those big plush flowers that are brightly colored with a smiley face in the middle. I’ll post a picture in the future. They were at least as tall as Dear Daughter herself, and she was so attracted to them. I had to purchase one to decorate her room with. I decided I couldn’t get her a treat without getting one for Dear Son (who was at home with Dear Husband) so I picked out a little plush football and a little plush basketball for him. I know he’s not old enough to care or to even grab them yet, but I was still excited to give them to him. As I was putting together Easter Baskets the other day for the kids I had the same kind of fun trying to pick out little girl stuff for Zoe’s basket and little boy stuff for Zachary’s.

I had always tended to be annoyed at people when they commented to me that it would be great to have a boy and girl. Now that is exactly how I feel, along with the realization that God gave ME a special treat by giving me a little boy this time. And just as my friend said to me months ago, I really can’t imagine wanting it any other way.

An Easy Sleeper!

Dear Son continues to nap fine in his crib. I think it's been over a week now. I am actually in a bit of shock, as I was completely unprepared for this. I just guessed we would have the same or similar issues as we had with Dear Daughter. It couldn't be more opposite. When Dear Son begins to get that whiny, "I'm tired" fuss, I cuddle him for a couple minutes (which I suspect is more for my benefit than his) and then place him in his crib. If he's fussing really hard, I turn on the mobile to snap him out of it before leaving the room. Other times I just lie him down and leave. He goes right to sleep, most of the time without even crying. Other times he fusses a bit, but rarely breaks into a full cry, and is asleep within 5 - 10 minutes. This is useful when I am juggling Dear Daughter as well. I don't know how I would attend to her needs, which often coincide with Dear Son's needs, if he required the same time and labor that was necessary to get Dear Daughter down for a nap.

Other drama in life as I know it includes the practice of putting Dear Son to bed in his crib. Yes, I had a strong moment a week or so ago and decided it was time. It seemed Dear Son wasn't sleeping as soundly, and sometimes neither was I, with him in our bed. He was just getting too big for the snuggle nest. Have I mentioned that at a mere 12 weeks, he is wearing 6-9 month clothing? He weighed in at 14.8 lbs at his two month appointment.

So on that fateful night of the maiden voyage to the crib for bedtime, once again Dear Son did much better with it than I. I lingered in the rocking chair with him, fought back some tears, challenged Dear Husband to talk me out of it, and then finally got the courage to lie him down in his crib and walk away, leaving him alone in his room. I think the only way I did it was by consoling myself that if it was too traumatic for either of us (I was really thinking of myself the most at this point) I could always put him back in our bed when he woke up to be fed. He didn't wake up. At least not until about 4:30am. It was the longest stretch he's gone at night before wanting to be fed again. It's been at least a solid week of him going to bed in his crib just fine...even after hitting a really fussy snag. I used to try to hold him and soothe him through it, but one night I tried just lying him down like I often do at naptime, and he stopped fussing and went right to sleep without a whimper. He is now not waking up to be fed until 4:30 and a couple times 5:00 or 5:30. I am getting 6 and 7 hours of sleep in a single stretch for the first time in as long as I can remember. I think that went by the wayside by the time I was two or three months pregnant with him, so it has been at least 10 months.

Miss Vocabulary II

This time Miss Vocabulary popped off a new one that left Grandpa H busting up. I was dropping the kids off at Grandpa and Grandma's house the other day, and Grandpa got Zoe out of her car seat while I was getting Zachary out. Grandpa headed around the side of the van with Zoe holding his hand to get Zachary's bouncy chair out of the back, and that's when Zoe exclaims, "This is a pain in the butt!" That's the first time I'd heard her say that, and as usual, I was completely amused at her use of new sayings in perfect context.

I was also amused yesterday morning when I asked her a question at breakfast (I can't remember what the question was) and she responded, "Certainly!"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Miss Vocabulary

“Miss Vocabulary” has shown off a string of big words and complex sentences lately. For example, a couple weeks ago Grandma H was watching Zoe at our house while I took Zachary to his Dr. appointment. Grandma indicated to Zoe the wooden shelf cat sitting halfway up our fireplace column (which rises up two full stories in our living room), and asked Zoe what the cat’s name is. Zoe looked around blankly and Grandma had to point it out to her. Yes, the cat is probably 20 feet up from the floor, but Zoe is a girl that notices EVERYTHING. Apparently she hadn’t noticed the cat, which is exactly what she said after looking at it intently for a couple minutes, “Oh, I hadn’t noticed it before.” Do two-year-olds talk like that?

A week ago on my routine Thursday trip to hand off the kids to Dear Husband at his office on my way to work, I began telling Dear Husband that I again had some trouble with the automatic doors working on the family-mobile. As Dear Husband was getting Dear Daughter out of her car seat, she chimed in, “Yeah, I was having a heckuva time!”

A couple days ago Dear Husband was listening to his voice mail on his cell phone, and Dear Daughter wanted to “talk.” He told her she had to wait her turn. She followed this by saying, “Okay, when you are done, then I will have an opportunity.” OPPORTUNITY???? Where does this stuff come from and how does a 2 ½ year old learn to use these words and phrases correctly?

A couple days ago we also had a visit from our Parents As Teachers educator. She got a good laugh out of Zoe when Zoe was telling her about the bats at the Wonders of Wildlife. As she tried to explain what they looked and sounded like, part of her (quite long) explanation went like this…”Actually, they make a sound like ‘tweet tweet tweet!” The PAT educator laughed and laughed and laughed at Zoe’s (correct) use of the word “actually.” I informed her that Zoe has been correctly using the word “actually” since she was barely 24 months old.

Tonight Dear Daughter was making a “Get Well” card for Great Aunt Pat, and as she was examining a sheet of stickers, she states, “Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday.”

And just yesterday morning at Dear Daughter’s well child visit, the Dr. asked us, “How many words does Zoe say?”

Presents

Zoe LOVES getting mail. Especially when the mail includes presents!
Note Zachary hanging out sucking on his thumb. He loves his thumb.








"Thank you, Great Aunt Denise and Great Uncle Randy! I love my scrapbooks and sticker book. They are just like Mommy's!"


And Zachary loves his new combine, too! It's just like Great Uncle Randy's. Someday, when Zachary takes his thumb out of his mouth, he'll be able to play with it!


Thanks for thinking of us!

That Old Familiar Ache

Well, it's happening. That sometimes dull, sometimes peircing ache in the pit of my stomach is back. Dear Son is approaching due time to be put to bed in his crib in his own room and I have been putting it off. I just want to hang on a little longer!

A year ago I wrote a post describing the difficult time I had transfering Dear Daughter from her bassinet beside my bed to her crib in her own room. She, on the other hand, made the transition just fine and never had a problem with it.

Dear Son only ever slept a few nights in the bassinet. For some reason in the earliest days of his life he tended to wake up in the night more frequently than when we put him between us in our bed in his snuggle nest. It may have been coincidence, but I was desperate for sleep, so I just did what worked best. He's been in his snuggle nest ever since and seems to be fast outgrowing it. As much as I would like my bed back, I also love to be able to have him right next to me where I can peek at him and listen to his breathing and baby sighs in the middle of the night.

And so I am bracing myself for that heart breaking move to his own bed that signals one of his first steps of independence in life. Sigh. Tomorrow he'll be headed off to college. Even as I hold him in one arm right now and type with my other, I look at his precious sleeping face...his perfectly smooth baby skin, chubby cheeks, puckered little lips, button nose, and I hear his content baby sighs and inhale his precious baby scent. These moments pull my heart in so many different directions. When I refuse to think past the present, it's a euphoric Mommy's high that only another Mommy could possibly relate to. It's emotionally intoxicating and dripping with love and devotion that words simply cannot capture. Then if my thoughts dare wander ahead, it's the realization that when each moment like this passes, it's gone forever. Soon I see in my mind's eye images of Dear Son sitting up, crawling, walking, running, talking. Then Kindergarten, High School graduation, college...faster and faster the images fly by. The milestones that mark growing up are so full of Mommy pride and Mommy joy--and that old familiar ache. Oh, if only I could somehow box up those precious moments to preserve them forever. I would stack them in the closet and pull one out every now and then to revisit what Time so cruelly steals away.

Yes, soon it will be time for Dear Son to spend the nights in his own bed. And I linger and fight to hold on, knowing that as each phase of Dear Son's life passes, it will be gone forever.

Success!!!!!!

Some breaking news since my post a couple days ago about Dear Son's napping habits.... I share this at risk of jinxing the whole thing, but for the past couple days, Dear Son has been doing a fabulous job of napping in his crib. I've been in shock, but thrilled, as it makes life so much easier. I had continued to try putting him in his crib for nap time from time to time when I had the time and patience to run up and down the stairs over and over again to put him down, let him cry, try to settle him, let him cry, give up and go get him. For some reason, he just stopped wailing like the sky was falling one day. Just a little fussing and he would then quiet down and either zone out staring at his bumper or suck his thumb before going to sleep. He would then stay asleep for more than 10 minutes without waking up and wailing. He's actually been napping for an hour or two at a time in the crib. Sometimes he doesn't even cry or fuss at all when I lay him down.

This is completely new territory for me. Dear Daughter, as I've said before, NEVER napped in her crib until she was at least 7 months old and then it was a terrible to-do to get her asleep and to get her to stay asleep. There never was just a little fussing with her. It was a full wail, world crumbling around her kind of ordeal that never let up. She is a strong-willed one, and I just can't figure out where she gets that!