Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sabbath Holiday!

This morning we all woke to find a great surprise! The precipitation that could have either come in the form of rain or snow had chosen the latter, funner form, and it piled heavily on cars, hydrants, and tree branches like fluffy white pillows.
Looking out over our courtyard Abigail kept saying, "Let's go play in the snow, mama! I wanna make a snow man! And a snow angel!" Lucie didn't really know what to think. Afterall, she was only 7 months old when the last of the snow disappeared last spring. But she could feel the excitement!

I had decided the night before to make homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and the apartment was soon filled with the smell of baked bread and coffee. Abigail sniffed the air as she ran to the oven. "Mama! Something smells delicious, delicious, delicious!"

Lucie apparently thought so, too! She was stalking the kitchen waiting for the rolls to cool down.

She then proceeded to scarf the equivalent of two complete rolls all on her own. As soon as her bowl was empty, she held it up and signed, "please? please?" How could I refuse? Especially since the first snow of the season is kind of like a holiday!

I started to pull out jeans and sweatshirts for the girls when Jon declared the day a pajama day. So we pulled out our winter gear instead. I felt like I had prepared well. You can never predict when the first snow will be, but you can predict how a 3-year-old will act as soon as she sees the snow! It's best to have the boots, the mittens, the coat, the hat, and the snowpants ready for that day. And indeed they were. But what a pile!!

And of course, what would the first snow day be without a child falling over from the amount of padding surrounding their limbs? At least it cushions the fall...

At long last, we ventured out into the wonderland...

Jon designed the snowman with Abi. I think she is duplicating the face they decided to make for the snowman. The little boy in the background is a new friend we made. He lives down the hall and continued to create a snow people village after we left. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of him!
Abi refused to take part in this picture, but she couldn't completely escape...
After Lucie's little nose and eyebrows started to form icicles, we decided it was time to go home and defrost. We peeled off layers on layers of soggy coats and ice-crusted mittens to find our comfy pajamas still warm and dry underneath. I prepared some hot cocoa for us all (lukewarm cocoa for Lulu) and we watched Iron Will (because we just haven't had our snow fill for the day yet!) Lucie squealed and pointed every time she saw a doggie on the screen. And when there wasn't a doggie on the screen she would draw our attention to the doggie on the cover of the video with squeals and more pointing!! But eventually, everyone wore down and was tucked into their own beds.
Abigail and I went out again after naptime, and again I had to still the desire in my heart for a yard that I could just let her run in without her every move necessitating supervision. But "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven," ~Ecclesiastes 3:1. Again, I found contentment being in the middle of God's will and HIS timing.

Even though the girls were obviously exhausted, there were no fits, no whining episodes, and no fights all day long. (WELL, I'm not counting when Abi shut Lucie's thumb in the door; they were having fun before that happened) After a nice warm bath to wash away the cocoa mustaches, the girls sleepily dragged their respective loveys to their beds. A few blissful moments passed as I listened to them giggle in the dark. Then the sleepies won them over and all was quiet. Today was one of those days where I cry with gratitude knowing what amazing gifts God has given me. Today was one of the most peaceful and restful Sabbaths we've enjoyed in quite a while. Thank you, Father for meeting with us today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier,
Who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

- Father Dennis Edward O'Brian, USMC

Thank you to all who have served and fight for our freedom.
Today I honor the two men who mean most to me in my life: my husband and my father.

USMC Reserves
Military Police
Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom
2003, 2005-2006
Navy Presidential Unit Citation

US Army
Vietnam War
Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marine Corps Birthday

Happy Birthday Marines

Facebook Vacation

Jon and I are challenging ourselves to take a vacation from Facebook for a whole week so we stuff. I find myself hovering around the computer before realizing that there's nothing to do there. I'm one day into my Facebook "fast" and all would be well, except for one downside: I used Facebook to glean mommy-pity, er, I mean support. Last night when Lucie woke 3 times screaming in pain from her glacier-slow molar carving into her inflamed gums, I tried not to think about the fact that I wouldn't be receiving all the Facebook pats on the back for a job well-martyred. Instead I did what all the moms did back in the pioneer days before Facebook: 1) I cried into my pillow
2) Gave my baby a frozen teething ring
3) Read my Bible and got filled up with words of Life
4) Called a friend for encouragement and support.

Oh if only.

Actually, I'm a little embarrassed to say that even though I know the order of things I should have done to pick myself up when I was down, this is what I did instead:

1) Cried into my pillow
2) Slept in (because my hubby let me)
3) Gave my baby a frozen teething ring
4) Put on a video
5) Tried 1000 different ways of comforting an exhausted and suffering toddler
6) Put the kids down for a nap
7) Blogged about my struggles and mis-steps as an attempt to gain sympathy

There you have it folks. Day One of my Facebook Vacation reveals to me that I look to internet pals for encouragement when the hard mommy days roll in. Well, enough of this. I've wasted enough of your time (and mine) so I'm going to close, and then sit in the quiet apartment with my Bible open in my lap and get some real refreshing. I invite you to do the same.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Triple Crown

Since I began running full-speed ahead, no-holds barred, with-the-wind, in love with Jesus, I knew I might have to give up a few things in life, perhaps some things that many people assume come with being an American. After all, I didn't know what God had in store for me - I didn't want to be disappointed.

God gave me peace (several times...hehe) about being single. But God in His goodness gave me an AMAZING husband! I knew children would come in his time. One month after our first anniversary, our little Abigail was born, and Lucie came along later. But we'll never be able to afford a car that's not a junker. Lo and behold! We own a very nice Passat wagon that is under 100,000 miles and has heated leather seats! Wow, now we're talking God!

But I knew a house would have to wait. I knew Jon and I weren't ready to own a home. Unless God drops a house on us Wizard of Oz style, we'll be renting until further notice. Some items associated with home-ownership I am content to be without. Items such as lawnmowers, snow blowers, sump pumps, etc. (Who, by the way, coined the name "sump pump?" It's very name brings images of bubbling sewage to my mind. But I digress.) But then there are a few appliances that I think about fondly...with a sort of 1950's era gloss on them. I call them The Triple Crown. Yes, Brenda's Triple Crown of Cleaning Efficiency, the apex of the pyramid of household appliances. The Triple Crown gave the housewife victory over pruny hands, calloused knuckles, and bird poop on your knickers. Indeed, I mean the dishwasher, the washing machine, and the dryer.

I've never owned a dishwasher. Growing up, us kids each had a dish-washing night to look forward to every week. We made our own fun in small towns, we did. I found when I briefly lived in a house that used one, I didn't know how to load the dishes in it so that the little plastic lids didn't go flying all around. And I didn't know that you had to wash the dishes before you actually set the dishwasher to wash them (huh?). I didn't even know where to put the dishwasher soap, but at least I knew you had to use the special soap! (I had seen enough cartoons with bubbles spilling out of the machine to know that dishwashers require SPECIAL soap!) But I learned quickly, and then I had to leave the dishwasher behind when I got married. I'm thankful for my double sink, and I have a system down to ensure maximum efficiency in dish-washing prowess (plastics/glass first so they don't get that greasy film on them, then plates & bowls because they towel dry easily, then the silverware, then the pots and pans, then anything with...mold. Remember my number one un-favorite chore is cleaning out the fridge.) Even with my system in place, I look forward to the day when I have a dishwasher.

Although I grew up with a washing machine, there was a time (five months of time, actually) where I had to hand-wash all my clothes. When I was in the Peace Corps, we didn't even get a washboard. We rubbed the clothes against themselves to get them clean. Rub a little soap on the bottom of your sock, scrub it against itself or another sock, till the suds weren't black any more. Then rinse it out in the FREEZING tub of water. I developed callouses on the insides of my index fingers pretty fast. When you hung up the laundry to dry during the winter, it took days, because not even the insides of the houses are heated very well. And on the warm days, the birds would poop all over your meticulously washed blouse, so now you have to wash it all over again.

Nowadays I have access to machines who do the work for me, but they're not cheap. There are three tiny machines down the hall who charge me a dollar every time my daughter throws up in her bed. And then they make me keep the soiled sheets in my bathtub til morning when the laundry room opens. Or I could drive 18.24 miles to my in-laws' house where they have generously given us permission to wash and dry our laundry. And although this option is technically cheapest, it does mean an entire day is devoted to the washing and drying of laundry and nothing else. (This option also gives Nana playtime with her granddaughters, so this is definitely the better deal! It just means a day where I only check one item off my list of things to do.)

You may think this post is nothing but a gripe session, but really it's anticipation for the day (someday?) when I might finally own The Triple Crown. And oh, it is SO trivial in light of the Kingdom of God. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's a call to be mindful of the things I forget to be thankful for. Maybe I would have taken the dishwasher, the washing machine, and the dryer for granted had God given them to me after I said "I do." As it is, the day when I own all three of these appliances, I will throw a party where my guests can bring anything that needs to be washed, rinsed, spun, jet-dried or fluffed. It will be a wild time. And I'm pretty sure I'll be thankful every day of my life that follows.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthday Month: Complete

I will not be making a baby this November, or any November to come. This might seem a bit too much information, but when you make babies in November, they are sure to be born in August. I thought this would be a great idea: two kids in one month! I'll just smush their parties together and I'll only have to plan one party instead of two! While this will be my ingenious, conniving plan for the future, it doesn't work for those "first birthday" moments. This August, I had to plan TWO parties. Which ended up being five parties somehow. I'll spare you most of the details. Abigail turned 3, Lucie turned 1, and they are both still requesting cupcakes and presents every time they see a candle. Abi actually makes birthday cakes by layering objects. For example, she'll pile 3 tupperware containers on top of each other, then carry them out to you singing "Happy Birthday." She makes birthday cakes with books, blocks, plates, even shirts. Then you blow out the candles and "eat" the cake. At any rate, two birthdays is definitely my limit per month, so November is out of the conception pool.TOYS GALORE!

She understood what the cake was for!

Note to self: apply strawberries before serving. Not the night before.

As for my little gems, they are fast becoming pals despite their personality differences. Little Lucie is (and has been from the start) a little firecracker. There's a lot of spunk in that little bundle, and when she squawks, she means it! She charms everyone she meets. I'll tell you her flirting secrets: 1) She begins with a coy smile, looking up through her long eyelashes, and pushing her cheeks up into her eyes so you can only see a sliver of the energy that alights from her eyes. 2) After you return her smile, she will reward you with what I call the "Muppet Smile": a smile that takes up the whole lower half of her face, so big you can see her tonsils. Now you're hooked. 3) You laugh and might approach her because she has seemingly given you a pass to advance, but now she will play hard-to-get. She will bury her face into her shoulder or mine or her blanket while squealing. Then she will slowly peek just enough to see you with one, triumphant eye just to make sure you're still looking. You've been caught! 4) She will return to step one, give you her coy smile, and she may repeat the process as many times as you choose, or for however long you follow her in the grocery aisle.

Abigail maintains her "less is more" technique of wooing friends. It's a struggle to photograph anything but a blur of a face yelling in protest. I have a lot of pictures of her lovely blond curls. I can occasionally trick her by asking her to "make a face at the camera," which she gives rather willingly so far. With the advancement of Abigail's age, we decided to promote B the Goat to Lord and Protector of the Front Hallway. We even bought him a throne. When we leave the house, B sits (or lays if he is feeling lazy or sleepy) on his throne with a book or toy and wards off potential criminals from breaking into our home. We need a "Beware of Goat" sign for our door. Even so, the transition from taking B EVERYWHERE to taking him nowhere has been surprisingly painless due, I'm convinced, to the implementation of the Goat Throne. Speaking of thrones, potty training has finally gone to seed. We started last January, got it NAILED, as in she was trained in a week and was accident-free for a whole month, when she regressed. There was a lot of stress in the home at that time and I think her little heart just couldn't stand being all grown-up for a while. We let it go for a few months and tried again in July. This time it took off and despite a few set-backs (including one accident on my nanny-family's couch), we are now even past the rewards stage (although she does request a marshmallow for a #2 from time to time).

Lucie isn't walking quite yet, but she is signing "please" and "thank you" (which she gets the biggest thrill out of) and she can locate her belly button (or yours if you're within reach). She is all about speed, so I think she is unwilling to walk because it will not take her to Abi's cup/toy/book/open crayon box before her sister notices and yells, "BUT NO BUT NO BUT NOOOOOOOOO!" **SQUAWK!!** is usually Lucie's reply. She likes to stalk the bathroom; if you don't latch the door shut she will usually invite herself in and crawl in between your legs. If you do latch the door she'll either pound on it and squawk or just sit there nicely so you have a surprise baby waiting with big smiles for you after you flush! She throws a mean fast ball. She also has a lovey, the flannel blanket I used to swaddle her in (all the way til she was 9 1/2 months old...oops). So even as I've partially weaned Abi from her Goat, Lucie's blanket replaces the need to REMEMBER TO BRING THE LOVEY WHEREVER WE GO AND DON'T FORGET IT THERE. She's a real mama's girl, and I kind of like it that way since her sister followed the meaning of her name and basks in the delight of her daddy.

Abigail gets brighter every day, using words like exquisite and privacy. She started Preschool this fall and asks for it every day. She was so eager to learn how to write her name that I showed her how and now she can actually do it, which surprises the socks off of me. She's not a prodigy by any means, but she's a pretty sharp little tack. She wakes up at 7:30 on the nose and announces to the world that "The number 7 is on!" (I have her clock set a half hour back, hehehe, joke's on her!) She started a chore chart last week and has been faithfully making her bed, picking up her toys, getting dressed, and clearing her dishes without complaint, or at least with the promise of donuts at the completion of the chart. She draws faces with hair, big eyes, a nose, a mouth, ears, cheeks, and long legs and arms sticking out of the head. Some are happy, some are sad, she can't really control what emotion they'll be feeling. She also draws donuts now. She knows all her upper case letters, most of the lower case, counts to 20 (but leaves out 16, just like Alexender who keeps having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), "reads" books to Lucie/B/herself, rhymes, knows her colors & shapes, but couldn't carry a tune in a bucket :) All the same she loves to play that one note on the recorder when you don't cover any of the holes, and play her little snare drum like Christopher Robin. When either of those items are used as violent reminders for Lucie not to touch her matroshka doll, they get put up for the day, and she gets a time out. Favorite food: cake and mac n cheese. Favorite movie: Sweet Pea Beauty. Favorite song on the radio: In Christ Alone. Favorite Book: ...this is impossible to narrow down to even 25. Right now she is obsessed with Little Bear.

So my little girls are not so little any more. I keep seeing babies and thinking about #3, but we're going to hold off for now. At least through November!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

I think God has been sending me some major hints the past few months. When the lyrics in your life start fitting together to create a soundtrack, take heed. Ignore at your peril. I'm about to share with you all the soundtrack I've started hearing and if it strikes a chord with you, I urge you to take a good long moment to sort out the music from the noise.

It all started at the beginning of the summer. You remember how Jesus told stories in parables in the Bible? He spoke this way so that his disciples would understand radical principles because he had likened them to earthly concepts that they could relate to. Jesus told me a parable while I was driving my daughters back from a park. It was a gorgeous sunny summer day, and we were driving down a scenic, winding road, nice and slow. The windows were down and the radio was playing; it was even a song Abi knew and we were singing together. Soon enough we met up with the highway. I accelerated onto the on-ramp, and as we got up to speed, the noise of the traffic drowned out the song on the radio. We tried to keep singing along, but I realized after a few lines that we were not keeping up with the song. I don't claim to always be listening for God's voice in my life (for reasons to be explained), but I must have been listening this day. Suddenly the seemingly meaningless events that had just taken place fit together in a personal parable for my life.

I could see my life as a drive down a scenic, winding road. The "radio" I sing along with is actually God - His voice in my heart, the Holy Spirit's urges, the moments that speak life. Some songs I know really well. Maybe they're truths I learned as a child or scripture I memorized. Some songs I don't know at all; they're new truths or words that God reveals to me day by day. Then life speeds up. I get caught up with all the events around me; I pack too much into my day. I race among the other cars, all with a purpose, a drive, a destination that seems so very important. And the radio fades into the cacophony of this rat race. God's voice becomes harder to discern, and I can really only hear it if I hear "familiar chords" of a song I already know. My first inclination is to merely turn up the volume of the radio! But I know it doesn't work like that. God's voice is often in the gentle whisper; He doesn't scream to get our attention. He waits for us to listen to Him.

I was astounded by this parallel and told a lot of people this story. Everyone agreed that this is SO RIGHT - our lives are too fast, and we can't hear God's gentle whisper through the roar of life. Wow, right on! Don't you love it when God speaks?!

And life went on as usual. I started a study on grace with some friends of mine in July. I was realizing that I couldn't handle all the irons in my fire, all the balls in my airspace, all the stuff on my plate. I was realizing I needed to understand and ask for more of God's grace in my life. And wouldn't you know it, a sermon on grace popped up at that moment. Wow, what an amazing coincidence. Since I don't believe in amazing coincidences, I immediately recognized God's timing. God wants me to heed this - let the message of grace take root. Wow, right on! Don't you love it when God speaks?!

And life went on as usual. August has been (and will be) a mad rush of birthdays and weddings and parties and play dates and lakes and vacations, vacations, vacations. I've heard myself praying, "God I need more of your grace today!" over and over again. This last weekend, my amazing mother-in-law asked if there was anything I needed prayer for. I said I am looking for a better understanding of grace in my life. She prayed for me, but then she gave some advice straight from heaven to me. She said, "God is pleased with you. God wants to fill you up, and you don't have to do anything for it - just come to His throne and sit. Don't say anything, just sit and be quiet before Him. He will give you everything you need." I have to admit, at this point I started seeing a persisting theme through my summer. I am doing too much, it's making my life too crazy, it's making me spiritually deaf. Thanks, Cynthia. Wow, right on. Don't you love it when God speaks?! went on as usual. Well at least as usual as 2 days can be. Then today happened. A normal day with a list a mile long of chores I wanted done. But I'm a woman, I multi-task! So while I washed the dishes, I fired up the laptop to listen to Focus on the Family. I found a program that looked interesting and added it to my playlist and started listening. As the program began, I looked up from the sink, puzzled. This didn't sound like the program I had selected. I went over to look at the playlist, and although the program I had selected was highlighted on top, it was not the one that was playing. Instead it was a program on clergy burnout. Well, this is an irrelevant topic! I'm not a clergyman in danger of burnout! And I was just about to delete it when a few lines popped up about "hectic schedules" and "being too busy" and "having no time to rest." I almost dropped the dish I was holding, because (I'll admit) I was a little creeped out at this point. Humbly I returned to the sink to listen to what I concluded was a lecture hand-picked by my loving Father. It tied every rhythm and rhyme together into a beautiful rhapsody. Come to Me all who are weary and burdened. And I will give you rest. I make you lie down in green pastures, I lead you beside quiet waters. I restore your soul. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. My summer opus: Slow Down.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Short History of Medicine

A Short History of Medicine

"Doctor, I have an earache."

2000 B.C. -- "Here, eat this root."

1000 A.D. -- "That root is heathen; say this prayer."

1850 A.D. -- "That prayer is superstition; drink this

1940 A.D. -- "That potion is snake oil; swallow this pill."

1985 A.D. -- "That pill is ineffective; take this

2000 A.D. -- "That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this

Monday, June 21, 2010

David and Goliath: as told by Abigail

When Abi is sitting on the potty I often tell her a story. Sometimes it's a book, sometimes a Bible story, sometimes I just recap what we've done that day. This morning, as I was taking my turn in the bathroom, Abi came in and put her hand on my knee and asked sweetly, "Can I tell you a story mama?" How could I resist? Here is the story of David and Goliath she told me, as best as I can remember:

Once Upon a Time, there was a boy named David, and he was a good little boy. And he had lots of brothers...doo gabba gabba bar oh dah gooby-doo...Then Abi went to bed. And the boy came to play. Then...Goliath came. Then...(looking at the tub)...I took a bath. And then we goed camping! And we goed to the mountains! And after we goed to the mountains, we see the lizards, then after we go to the lizards, we go to GRANDMA'S HOUSE!! Then we came back home and took a little nap. And was time for bed. The End!

I'm so glad the spiritual seeds I'm sowing are taking root, haha!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lucie at 273 Days (Or 9 months, as some call it)

Lucie Ferghana celebrated her 9-month birthday last weekend at Gooseberry Falls! You can probably see from the pictures that she's got the cuteness factor down! I love the 9-month check up because there are no shots (if you've kept up to date on the previous visits) so it's just weight, height, head circumference, some pokes and flashlights shining around her face, and we were out of there. She still managed to cry through most of the appointment.

"No! Don't take my clothes off! I hate putting on and taking off shirts! Now what are you doing? LAYING ME DOWN?! I NEVER gave authorization for laying me down! WHY IS THIS BED SO COLD?! WAAAAAAAH! Don't stretch me out; I want to kick!" *flail*kick* "Get that thing off my head! WAAAAAAH! And whatever you do, don't put that stick in my mouth. I have a tooth and I know how to use it! Oh yes, and it's always a good idea to shine lights in my eyes. You knew I'd respond well to that. WAAAAAAAH!"

Somehow we were able to get her stats (although we had to double check the height measurement because the nurse-in-training's original measurement came up a half-inch shorter than Lucie's 6-month height measurement. No my baby didn't shrink!) She's a little on the small side: 17 lbs 8 oz (25%) and 28 inches long (65%). This is because although she's started solid foods, most of her calories still come from breast milk and well, since she's begun crawling I can't keep her on for more than 15 minutes. She's very interested in the world around her!

* Lucie's disposition: Despite her angry doctor's appointment, she's overall a very pleasant and easily excitable baby! She flaps her arms and gets what we call "grabby hands" while rotating her feet in little circles when she's excited. This almost always occurs when one of her meals is approaching. She is always laughing and smiling (way more than I remember her serious sister doing). She's not very cuddly (she always wants to be looking around or doing something) but she loves to be carried. In fact, she insists on it after her 4 o'clock meltdown. This makes dinner prep difficult. But I've learned how to make a pretty-mean mac n cheese one-handed :) Despite being a bit of a squiggle worm, she still insists on being swaddled (at least her legs). When she's really tired she'll grab her blankie (which is swaddling her), squish it into her face, and roll onto her side in a sleepy fog.

* Lucie's great accomplishments: Finally after about 6 weeks of waiting, she's crawling. She started getting from sitting to prone about a month ago, and I kept saying, "It will be any day now!" Well about 4o of those days went by where she went from rocking on her haunches to pushing off her arms so she scooted backwards (usually under furniture, like in this picture) to moving forward. She's also finally cut her first tooth! (Also very long in the waiting) She can clap and hit surfaces like a drum. She likes to play patty-cake (she actually does the clapping and patting herself!) She also dances! I didn't believe it at first, but when there's music she gets a groove on!

Also, I have a near-identical picture of Abi in this very same position at around the same age. The difference? Abi was bawling. "I'm stuck under the crib!!!" Lucie was amused. "Hm. I'm under the crib."

* Lucie's social life: Most of her time is spent with her big sister Abigail. For several months we struggled with Abi being stressed out and taking it out on Lucie (poor little tykes) but almost overnight they switched to best pals! If Lucie is cranky, Abi brings her toys or handfuls of Cheerios. Sometimes I find Lucie with nearly puffed out cheeks as Abi keeps packing the Cheerios into her mouth as tight as they will fit. In the car, they will make each other laugh (big belly laughs!). Nothing brings me to tears of joy faster than hearing them laughing together! They love to bounce on the couch or the bed and work themselves into hysterical frenzies. Abi will blow raspberries on Lucie's tummy (when it's accessible) and Lucie will take it all as though she were the most loved baby on the planet (which she very well could be!). They kind of share toys but NEVER sippy cups. God forbid. But that's more of Abi's deal than Lucie's. The only similarity I've come up with between them is their looks. They look a lot alike. And they're both smart. Of course. (What parent says their kid isn't smart?) Other than that they are as different as peas and carrots. Lucie is bright, outgoing, adventurous, dramatic, willful, enthusiastic, easily excited AND easily offended. Abigail is calm, sympathetic, quiet, intelligent, timid, loving, and adorably anal. Lucie has the attention span of a butterfly. Give Abi a stack of books and she could sit on the couch for an hour without a peep. Well, this picture pretty much juxtaposes their complementing personalities.

* Lucie likes: mashed up beans, the jack-in-the-box (which, coincidentally, Abigail HATED for months), going outside (at first), coming back inside, her blankie, ANYTHING EDIBLE (or not), closing the lids on the pop-up animal toy, taking things out of boxes, Patty Cake (she claps on her own and even pats her legs when you "roll it, & pat it"), Itsy-Bitsy Spider, music & dancing, patting drums, digging in daddy's pile of school paraphernalia, books with interesting places to touch, to stick out her tongue for hours, clapping toys together, looking at pictures of family, bouncing, spinning the toy that is essentially teaching her how to unroll the toilet paper roll, getting and giving sloppy kisses, fruit, and trying to use a sippy cup.

* Lucie's dislikes: sitting in grass, getting dressed, getting undressed, getting her diaper changed, being put down, the hour before mealtime, sitting in a stroller for more than 15 minutes, sitting in a car seat for more than 15 minutes, being alone, clothes that hinder her crawling, hats (we've already lost one at the zoo this year), and being sat on by sisters.

Well that's the long and short of it! (Mostly the long of it...but I haven't blogged about Lulu in a while, so I thought it was worth a little effort!) We love our little big baby and we can't wait to see how God develops the personality and gifts he's given her :) Lord help us...

Week 4 Push-Ups Progress...

So I just finished the Week 4 exhaustion test. BRUTAL. My arms are like spaghetti. Well, more like the arms of the WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM FLAILING TUBE MEN as seen here:

I pushed myself to do 40 straight. That's quite an improvement of my initial exhaustion test of 22. Jon and I are good motivational partners. And we are instilling a healthy work-out ethic for our children! Lucie shows daddy her very first push-ups :) (Also, you can see Jon finishing his fourth set of 20+ push-ups. That's why he's starting to look a little exhausted!)

Two more weeks!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

Per my mom's request (and every mom's advice) I've begun writing down the adorable, the hysterical, the strange, and the heart-warming antics of our two daughters. For your reading pleasure, I give you a collection of anecdotes that will make you smile tenderly and affectionately nuzzle your own sweet babies. Or they will cause a desire to create a sweet baby with whom to nuzzle. To those of the latter group: you've been cautioned. Read at your own risk!

* Nearly every day, Abigail hugs and kisses her daddy good-bye as he leaves for school or work. This particular day, Jon was leaving for work, more specifically, to bar-tend at the lucrative Ruby Tuesday in the Mall of America. Abigail has visited her daddy at his work before, and she has watched him pour beers, shake martinis, and place glasses in neat rows to fill with fountain drinks of many kinds. After Jon gave his usual barrage of kisses to Abi (including a strange phase of her wanting kisses for her elbows), she went to her room and began putting on her dress-up clothes. When she emerged, she was donning a large-brimmed sun hat, a few necklaces, and an over-sized button up shirt. She then went to the front hallway and stepped into Jon's old work shoes. She waddled (very clown-like) to her little car where she slipped on her purse and sat down. Turning to me she stated very matter-of-factly, "Mom, I go to work now. I go to make cups!" Then she scooted, big shoes and all, down the hallway back to her room.

* Jon often chews gum in the car to help keep himself awake during long trips. After one such trip, Abi noticed Jon's constant chewing and of course, wanted whatever he was eating. Jon took out a fresh stick and tore off a small corner. He then instructed her not to swallow it, but only to chew it. "When you're finished," he explained,"you can spit it out in the garbage." When we returned to the apartment the thrill of chewing gum had apparently worn off. Abi went straight to the garbage and spit it out. We applauded her for not swallowing it, and for spitting it out in the garbage (instead of less-appealing places like in her hair, in her sister's hair, in her mother's hair, or in her father's...uh...backpack). However, about an hour later we caught her walking through the living room, chomping away on a piece of chewing gum. Confused Jon questioned her, "Abigail, what are you eating?"
"Gum!" she replied happily.
Already knowing the answer, he grimaced and asked, "Where did you get it?"
Without a hint of disgust, she responded quite honestly, "The garbage!"

* I was clearing dishes after breakfast one morning, leaving Abigail and Jon at the table. They started making up words to make each other laugh. Then Jon started using funny voices which Abi would emulate. One such voice was low and growly, which made it particularly humorous for Abi to copy since she has a high, squeaky voice to begin with. This brought the most laughs from Jon and me, so of course, she mimicked this voice over and over to please us. After a little while her voice got a bit hoarse so she cleared her throat. That little cough must have brought up a bit of phlegm that caused her voice to turn ultra-raspy when she tried to talk again. Instead of coughing again to clear the obstruction she continued talking in the raspy voice - which was super funny-sounding! She suddenly realized that she recognized something familiar about the voice she heard coming from her. She exclaimed in her best raspy-voiced impersonation, "I Uncle Jay!"

* Abigail maintains quite an entourage of stuffed animals that accompany her to bed. The master list would include B (the Goat), Raymond (the otter, as named by Jon), Winnie the Pooh & Tigger (as named by A.A. Milne), and Cat in the Hat (as named by Dr. Seuss). Others that sometimes make the list would be Purple Bear, "Little Pooh" (who is currently naked), Baby 1, Baby 2 (names TBD), and пингвин (if you can get that one, you get bonus points). One night, Abi invited her entire guest list into bed with her. After carefully arranging them several rows deep on her pillow she took a step back and sighed desperately. Then exclaimed, "There's no place for me to live!"

More stories to come! (I have lots more) But I will give you a few shorter dialogues and quotes to whet your whistle:

Abi: "I'm not eating a cow! I'm eating a hamburger!"

Grandma: "Abi, are you satisfied?"
Abi: "No, I HAPPY!"

Mom: "Abi, why are you squatting like that? Do you have to go potty?"
Abi: "No..."
Mom: "Oh I see, you're hiding a golf ball in your shorts."
Abi: "No, I hiding TWO golf balls!"

Mom (to Abi): "Where does the tow truck take the broken cars?"
Abi: "To Canada!"

Abi: "What does a caterpillar say, Daddy?"
Dad: "Umm...rrRrr, rrRrr..." (noise like a cartoon caterpillar inching along)
Abi: "No! He don't say anything! He's just a caterpillar!"
Dad: "I didn't know it was a trick question!"


Thursday, May 13, 2010

One Hundred Push Ups

Jon and I have started an endeavor called "One Hundred Push Ups" and this program basically trains you to do 100 push-ups in 6 - 8 weeks.

I'm actually okay if I never get to 100 but I know the training will at least tone my arms a bit! We're on week two and I'm right on track (this stage is still a little light for Jon unfortunately). Jon watches me and tells me when I do "good" push-ups. I don't think I do any truly poor push-ups (like sticking my butt up in the air or anything like that) but out of my averageness Jon likes to encourage me when my push-ups would pass the drill instructor's approval. We both did near 60 push-ups today broken up into 5 sets. I'm feeling it in my abs (which you should if you're doing drill-instructor-passing push-ups), shoulders and arms of course. Plus I've started looking up when I do them instead of watching the ground come at me all the time!

We try to do our exercises when the girls are sleeping. Last week Abi woke up as I was finishing up and she sat on me. Today she tried counting with Jon and counted "1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 7! 8! 9! 10! 11! 12! 14! 14! 17! 19! 12!" Needless to say Jon lost track of how many he did :) I'll try to keep you updated on our push-up progress!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Summer Reading Selection

I might not get to all of these (upon further review, I won't - let's be realistic) but this is the list of books I will likely choose from this summer. Let me know what you have on your list!! In no particular order...

* Bringing Up Girls - Dr. James Dobson. FOR OBVIOUS REASONS :) Four years in the making Dr. Dobson finally comes out with the partner to Bringing Up Boys.

* The Mission-Minded Family - Ann Dunagan. Developing a mind-set of leadership, calling, & destiny as well as self-sacrifice and submission to God is important to us. I want to teach my kids these attributes by living them myself and implementing in our daily family life.

The Mission-Minded Family: Releasing Your Family to God's Destiny  -               By: Ann Dunagan

* The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien. I read this in high school and would love to reacquaint myself with the story that precedes the Lord of the Rings. Especially since the movie will be coming out soon!

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* How to Write & Illustrate Children's Books and Get Them Published. I've been weaseling through this for 5 years or so. I promise I'll finish it this summer!! I have so many ideas rolling around in my head and I don't want my illustrations to crash in technical faux pas.

* Eternity in Their Hearts - Don Richardson. Jon has been urging that I read this, and I think now is the time. It gives tons of stories about how the concept of the True God has existed for centuries in different cultures around the world. It's kind of the answer for the question of how someone who's never heard of Jesus can be saved.

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* Mini-Skirts, Mothers, & Muslims - Christine Mallouhi. A book on how NOT to offend Muslim women :) A friend recommended it to me and it sounds intriguing, especially as we are getting closer to moving to Central Asia and living among Muslims.


* War & Peace - Leo Tolstoy. I'm sure I won't get anywhere near finished, but I want to keep a classic in the mix as much as I can. Here's to reading one chapter, falling asleep, and drooling all over Chapter Two.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chocolate Truffle Moments

I was cleaning out my studio space and came across what I thought was an old sketch book. It turned out to be my journal from my short time with the Peace Corps. One entry in particular caught my eye; I'll call it "Chocolate Truffle Moments." You will need a little background to understand my wording. I adore chocolate truffles and all their various layers, textures, colors, and flavors. I eat them very slowly. Probably way slower than you're meant to, as in, it probably takes me between 4 and 8 bites to polish one off. In other words, I savor them in all their delectable decadence. I let each morsel melt in my mouth, and focus on the flavors as it moves over my tongue. I even sit for a moment and continue to "taste" it even after I've swallowed it. Forgive me if this is too graphic, but I wanted you to get the full context of what I'm describing. I'm not just talking about an enjoyable experience. I would use bacon or lasagna for that analogy. I'm talking about a positively scrumptious and savory moment. For that, I must use the chocolate truffle in my imagery. So with that in mind, here is the entry beginning with a "Chocolate Truffle Moment" in Central Asia upon discovering the awesomeness that is a bucket bath in a sauna.

March 9, 2005 ...I found a new love. Showers are a barbaric thing of the past for me. Everything the shower implies is everything that I dislike: hurrying and wastefulness, and even besides that, there's no meaning in a shower besides getting clean. Let me tell you what God intended: bucket baths in a sauna. The smell of warm, wet cedar and a little bit of wood-burning smoke from the fire under the metal water bowl is sweet and relaxing. The water is as warm as you want it to be and there's no crowding. You want to sit down for a while? Go ahead, and don't worry about wasting water trying to keep warm, the whole room is warm! Spread out and shave your legs! And when you're done, dump the bucket over your head and let the steam roll off you. Leave the room in a billow of heat and feel fresher and cleaner than you ever have! It was a chocolate truffle moment for me. Then I though to myself, why can't all moments be chocolate truffle moments? When I was in the States, I surely didn't find my morning routine something to be enjoyed. But maybe this was what [Oswald] Chambers meant by changing the mundane. Why should ordinary events be downplayed? Why should they be precursors to the actual event? Can't they be an event in themselves? What am I doing? If it's not a truffle to me, I need to find a way to make it one. Do it differently...change my find joy in the mundane and even in the fire. Life is a truffle and all the things that make life what it is.

I think this moment was doubly significant since up to this point, I hadn't washed my hair in over two weeks. NONE THE LESS. I am aware that as a mom, things get pretty mundane. Or at the very least, monotonous. But when did I stop being fascinated with my surroundings, enraptured with God's creation and the beauty of life? When did I stop...laughing? When did I stop taking in the breathless vistas of every corner turned? When did I stop relishing the moments past, savoring the moments present, and anticipating the moments to come? I have become BORING and BORED. I realize that as one approaches 30 and you find yourself married with two kids and car payments, you have to make room in your head for all that "responsible stuff." But golly-gosh-darnit, who let all the helium out of my balloons? Oh, it was me.

Well no more!! I am awakening to the fact that I don't have to just GET BY. I am completely allowing for those "survival" seasons, like those first months after having a baby, or the death of a loved one, or a big move. I know what it's like to repeat to myself, "Just survive today." But that is not and should not be the majority of my days. By God's grace I can live with passion again, and it's not because I'm expecting wild and crazy things to happen to me each day. It's because I'm resolving to appreciate, learn, and enjoy. (Just like the cute & tiny Brenda in this picture)

Be on the look out for more Chocolate Truffle Moments to come, and start taking notice of the not-so-mundane around you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brenda's Many Faces of the NFC Championship Game...

As a tribute to my beloved is just a snapshot of the many faces I made during the game tonight.


"OOOOO that HAD to hurt...don't break our fragile quarterback!"

"Hooray! We did something good!"

"But now we've done something very, very bad!"

"Are you serious...ANOTHER turn over?"

"A glimmer of hope?"



"We're gonna lose this game. And I don't like it. Not one bit."

"Good-bye Super Bowl"

I tip my hat to the 2009 Vikings, and will repeat my mantra for 2010: there's always next year. There's always next year.