Saturday, December 22, 2007

Random Things

Random things about Gabe:

  • He's finally saying "Mama" with m's instead of n's. He's also getting a lot quicker at using his signs to communicate.
  • He so wants to be big. As I write this, he's trying to put on my shoes and walk around. It seems he wants to wear everyone's shoes except his own!
  • Chet noted a couple of weeks ago that Gabe and I seem to have something in common... we both like to put one knee up when we're sitting in a chair (you know, knee bent with that foot on the chair).
  • He loves to dance, and it is hilarious! Raising his left shoulder up and down is one of his favorite moves.
  • He has started to do Grandma Rosemary's "Big Ole Crow" to himself!
  • He loves to read books. He opens them, turns the pages, and makes all kinds of sounds as if he's reading aloud to us. When he wants to find his "Five Little Monkeys" book, he starts waving his index finger around like he's saying, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"
Random things about Ladan:
  • Ladan and I cooked pizza for the first time yesterday. He hasn't shown much interest in doing any kind of cooking, but we had a great time making our pizza yesterday.

  • His imagination keeps getting wilder and wilder. He doesn't have imaginary friends... he just imagines that he's playing with his real friends. He has conversations with them, eats with them, and shares his toys with them. We also have to rid our home of gorillas and alligators fairly regularly so that everyone's safe.
  • Ladan was talking to Gigi (Chet's mom) the other day, and he said his snow boots were at her house. She said, "Well, you'll need to bring your snow boots to my house when you come. Do you have snow pants?" He said, "No. I have snow shorts." It's clear that he's likely to be on this shorts kick for a good long while. At least he leaves his pant legs fully extended now when he wears them!
  • He's developing quite the vocabulary and now seems kind of into finding syllables for things (although he doesn't know that's what they're called). For example, at dinner last night, he asked Chet if his pizza was "good". Chet said it was. Then Ladan asked if it was "yummy". Chet said it was. Then Ladan asked if it was "tasty". Chet said it was. Then Ladan asked if it was "delicious". Chet gave him the affirmative and commented on his developing vocabulary. These, of course, are not the most difficult words he knows, but it is kind of funny to hear him trying to find so many words that say the same thing.
  • He is getting lots better at hitting the ball when Chet pitches to him. He doesn't even use a fat bat, and he's really good at it.
  • His new challenge to himself is to hop on one foot an increasing number of times without putting the other foot down. So far he's up to two hops, but he's working on it.

Well, that's all for now. In just a few hours, I get to have girls' night with the Murray ladies and Lindsey Mikeska! I know Claire has some big plan in the works, and it's going to be great! YIPPEE!!!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Merry Christmas to You!

After looking at this picture for a second, I realized that it looks like I'm choking on a whole hotdog. Ha! Actually, we were just taking some Christmas photos for some of our friends, and Chet was trying to test the lighting. I decided to act a fool, and this is how it turned out. My mom should be proud!

On our way home from the photos, I decided that it would be fun to yell, "Weeeeeeee!" every time we rounded a corner. Thankfully for Chet, I only thought up this crazy idea before the last four turns of the night. It made for a good laugh... at least for me, anyway.

This is what happens when you spend the first 4 days of a week getting all kinds of things done until 4 or 5 am. You feel pretty good about yourself, but your mind just isn't all there. Lord help anyone who comes into contact with me throughout the next few days. I'm pretty sure that Chet will have gone insane by tomorrow night. Girls night, anyone? Just not tomorrow, because we already have plans.... See, I'm CRAZY! Amber, where are you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ladan's Teachers and A Fun Christmas Story

At church, Ladan has regular teachers on Sunday morning for Sunday School and then on Wednesday night during our prayer service. On Sunday morning, his teachers are three women (Ms. Allen, Mrs. Barrett, and Mrs. Hill) and one man (Mr. Hill). He calls them "Mr. Hill and The Mommies". It's pretty funny.

On Wednesday night, Job Goshi is always one of the teachers in Ladan's class. Job is from Nigeria and has very dark skin. Ladan calls him "Mr. Jove" (which is kind of funny because he pronounces B's just fine, and normally kids use B's instead of V's, but whatever--I told you he's a little backwards sometimes). Anyway, last Wednesday we came home from church, and Ladan was telling us about his class. After a bit of chatting, he said, "Mr. Jove is black."

I replied, "Yes, that's a really cool thing about Mr. Job, isn't it?"

He said, "It's BEAUTIFUL!"

Mr. Job just graduated from seminary and may be moving soon. Ladan will be VERY sad when he leaves.


My mom got the boys an Advent calendar for this year... the paper kind that you open the window each day to see what's behind. One day, Ladan opened the window and found a man most people would recognize as Santa. However, Ladan has no idea who Santa is, so he yelled out with excitement, "It's Noah!"

Me: "Oh, and he's carrying a big bag."

Ladan: "And he's carrying a tree too. That's funny. Noah is silly."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Photo Catch-Up

Gabe's first haircut was on November 11. Aunt Katie gave Ladan his first haircut, so we wanted to be sure she did Gabe's too. Neither of them had much hair to start with, but they sure looked better afterward!

November 18 is the day Gabe learned to climb onto a kitchen chair and sit. These photos were taken the next day. He was much braver than even one day before and apparently felt like he had conquered the world!

Ladan can turn just about anything into a kicking tee for his football. We were watching some Monday night football, and this is what he did for most of the game. When he'd kick one really high, we'd all cheer, and Gabe would clap and yell "AAAAYYYYY!!" This, of course, would excite Ladan, and he ended up giving Gabe lots of hugs in return.

Today we went to play outside, and I took some impromptu photos of the boys doing what they do...

These little boys are our neighbors, and Ladan loves to play with them! Sadly (for us), they're moving across town next week sometime. It's great for them, because they'll have much more space, but Ladan will sure miss his friends.

Gabe's Communication Style

It seems as though I've made a new discovery/insight with regard to Gabe's attempts at communicating. I cannot seem to get him to tell me that he wants something to eat or drink, needs a diaper change, or is experiencing some sort of pain. Or so I thought. I've discovered that he DOES in fact tell me these things. Or at least that one of these things is wrong so I can go through my process of elimination.

You'd think he'd come to me and start to cry or fuss about something. But no. When he needs something, he starts tearing the house apart. He opens cabinets he's not supposed to open. He pulls stuff off shelves. He pulls leaves off my plant and chews on them. He gets up on the couch and tries to pull at the lamps. And when I go to redirect him, he redirects himself and tears up the thing that's across the room! When he sees me rounding the corner to find him out, he just looks at me, smiles, and continues with his naughty behavior! Pretty bold, I'd say! When I catch up to him (he's quick, mind you) and thwart his efforts, he loses it. It's at this point that he throws his body on the floor in a full temper tantrum... for a second anyway until he realizes it's not working.

I have found over the course of the last week that, inevitably, one of three things is wrong with him at this point. He needs nourishment, a clean bottom, or some pain relief. On occasion (but not often), he does it when he's tired, which would be more common and entirely predictable amongst other children his age. But I guess no kid is predictable, and Gabe's here to prove it.

Basically, I've learned that when he's acting his worst and doing all the things he knows he's not supposed to do, it's my job to promptly correct him and then check to see what he's really trying to communicate to me. I'm still trying to teach him more appropriate (and less messy) ways to tell me what he needs... in time, I guess. It just occurred to me that he's likely NOT trying to communicate these things at all. He's probably trying to fake me out and distract me so he doesn't have to go through the process of remedying any of his problems.... Not so fast, sly boy! I'm on to you!

When I notice him doing something he knows he's not supposed to do, especially with that "you can't catch me" look in his eye, I try to get on it as soon as possible. He has to undergo the "torture" of a diaper check/change... then confinement in the high chair (which he's usually okay with as soon as there's food in front of him)... and if neither of those things worked, he tends to get a finger stuck in his mouth to find out if he has teeth coming through... or worst yet, a temperature check to find out if he's running a fever.

He is getting better at saying some words. He still doesn't say "Mama" often, and when he does, it comes out as "Nana". He's learned:
  • Dada (his current favorite word)
  • Ladan (Sounds like "Naynan"... but how does he have this and not Mama?)
  • Hello (Sounds like "Huwow" with a long "o" sound)
  • Later (as in "see you later")
  • Uh-oh (comes out as "uh-uh")
  • This? ("Dis?"... when he wants to know what something is)
  • Yeah! (sounds like "AAAAYYYY!")
  • And today he was trying to learn "tiger" but didn't quite get it. At least he knows what the tiger is in time for the MU-OU game on Saturday night!

While this is all great progress, I'd say it's going to be a while before he comes to me and says, "Mommy," [that'll take long enough on it's own] "I think I need something to eat." or "Mommy, I think I need some teething tablets or Ibuprofen for my teeth." or "Mommy, would you please change my diaper? Better yet, how about if I take a break from my toys so I can just go directly on the potty?" In the meantime, my ears and eyes are on super-sensory mode to catch my little con artist!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Girl Time

What a great end to my night! Chet went off to work like normal. Shortly before he left, my friend, Jessica, came over to hang out and work on some photo stuff. She got here at about 9:30 or 10ish and stayed until 2:15... or probably closer to 2:30 if we're looking at the clock from the perspective of her husband! We completed our task of creating a Christmas photo that they can send out... and we talked. We talked about boys (you know, the ones we're married to... and the ones we've hatched), fertility and our status with regard to it, friends, family, fun, sins we struggle with sometimes, and how we've seen the Lord's grace in our lives. Granted, we can talk about these things in little bits here and there on a normal basis, but having a whole 4 hours at a time to dig deeper and go into greater detail is a rare treat! Thanks, Jess! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Death Defying Toddler

So, it seems apparent that Gabe is going to be the next Evel Knievel. The kid just learned to walk a few weeks ago. He started climbing on to the couch last week. And two days ago he figured out how to climb onto the kitchen chairs. If we hadn't stopped him last night, he would have climbed onto the table as well. Chet had to catch him once when he thought it would be great to just walk off the edge of the chair. This kid throws all caution to the wind. As I'm writing this, he's sitting on the floor staring at me while he opens a cabinet that he knows he's not supposed to open. (I just took a break to help him obey.)

Anyway, back to the story... Last night, I was talking to a friend on the phone, and Ladan came in to tell me Gabe was eating a leaf. I'm thinking, "What? He's in his pack-n-play. What kind of leaf can he be eating?" I went in to find that he was munching on an African Violet leaf and had two others waiting in his hand. Don't worry. I promptly removed the remaining leaf chunk from his mouth and did not let him have the rest. My child has no sense of what is going to kill him, and he apparently has no respect for natural boundaries of protection!

Thankfully, I have Ladan, who is so careful that he not only doesn't try any of these things, but he is sure to let me know right away so he can protect his little brother from harm (I think Ladan is past the stage where he tackles his brother to remedy the situation on his own). As I finish up this paragraph, Gabe is running across the couch cushions trying to get to Ladan's cereal on the end table. Gotta' go!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ask and You Shall Receive

So, just a few minutes ago, I wrote about my great concern for the fact that the MU-KU game isn't going to be showing here in Kentucky... but it looks like my plea for the good ABC people of Kentucky to wake up and smell the burning Jayhawks has been heard! As it turns out, I did some further study, and I THINK that our news channel's web page is just wrong about their programming schedule. Here's how it came about....

I was reading an article about the NCAA BCS standings, and it mentioned that Ohio State has finished it's regular season already and has won the Big 10. What? I thought we were supposed to be watching Ohio State play on Saturday. So I looked back at our news channel's web page. It has Ohio State against Michigan State on Saturday the 24th. The problem is that Ohio State and Michigan State played each other on October 20, and they are clearly not going to play again just for the fun of it. So I went to the ESPN webpage again to see what they have going on, and as it turns out, the MU-KU game is the only one being aired on ABC on Saturday night! I think I may have just used my resources well and properly deduced that we will indeed be able to watch the game from right here in Kentucky! Maybe I should call our local station and ask them just so I can count on it. Surely WHAS 11 isn't backwards enough to re-play a game that happened five weeks ago!

So I think it's almost as good as guaranteed. Anyone up for a Jayhawk frying party on Saturday night?!

There's a funny story in my other entry, so don't miss it.


I cannot believe it! MU (Missouri) is playing KU (Kansas) next Saturday... MU is ranked #3 , and KU is ranked #2... and the game is NOT GOING TO BE ON here in Kentucky. We're supposed to be interested in the Ohio State game or something next Saturday night. The other problem is that our internet provider doesn't host ESPN360, so we couldn't even watch the game online if we wanted to pay for it. What kind of crazy world do we live in anyway?

Okay, that is an extreme exaggeration, but we really do want to watch the game. There are obviously more important things in the world than a football game, but it sure would be fun to watch it. The Tigers will have to come through for us and know that we're rooting them on from here.

On a much more positive note, the Casting Crowns concert was AMAZING! I'm telling you all that their cds are good, but in concert, they are FABULOUS! They are so right on in what they say and sing. There's no way I can really explain the experience. But I am so grateful to have been able to share it with so many fun people!

And, to end on a funny note, here's a quick peek into our home life. Just imagine that you're sitting in our home watching us a couple of nights ago. This is what you would have seen.... Gabe, Ladan and I are sitting at the table eating our snack. Chet is watching some sporting event on tv, and an ipod commercial comes on. Without a word, Ladan and I simultaneously start dancing silently in our chairs kind of crazy-like until the commercial ends, at which time we promptly return to eating our food. About a minute later, Ladan and I look at each other and suddenly crack up laughing as if we both realize how silly that was. As an onlooker, you're either thinking, "That's AWESOME!" or "They're totally insane, and this proves it!" From my perspective, I think it's GREAT!

Chet had no idea what had happened (because it was all silent), so I had to recount it to him. I told him that every once in a while I think it would be funny if our lives were recorded on a secret camera, because I'm sure we do crazy things like that all the time that we don't even pay attention to.

I have so many stories to catch up on... like the time I locked Gabe and my keys in the car at Target... and about how Gabe got his head stuck in between two pieces of furniture the other night... and about how I just finished up all of my classes and weekly commitments for the semester... but that will all have to wait for another time. I'm exhausted, and since there's a bit of a bug going around, I want my immunities to be sky-high to fight it off!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

More Than We Could Ask For

Last week I wrote about how exhausted Chet is and asked y'all to pray that he would be able to maintain focus, get some rest, and finish well. It's clear that the Lord is answering those prayers! Chet was able to get a good night's rest over the weekend. He completed several BIG assignments this week, submitted them, and finished reading another book. This was exactly what we had prayed for. I don't think he's forgotten anything when he's left our home all week!

Then the Lord surprised us today with some great news! Chet went to his Hebrew class this morning, and their last exam is canceled. They're going to use that class period for instructional time, so not only does he not have to be concerned about the exam, but their class will actually be able to catch up so that they will have covered all the necessary material before he goes on to the next semester. GREAT!

But it gets better! All I have to say is... Shawn Wright ROCKS! Chet's been taking a church history class this semester called "Calvin and the Reformed Tradition". They've had a tremendous amount of reading and quite a few intense assignments to complete throughout the semester. For one reason or another, his professor (Shawn Wright--in case my context clues were unclear) announced today that he's cancelling their final. AMAZING!!!! He may just end up getting a high five from me the next time I see him. (I don't know Chet's Hebrew teacher, but if I did, he might get one too.)

I mean, seriously, can you even grasp the weight of this? The Lord has shown mercy beyond what we even thought to ask for. Chet still has a lot to do over the course of the next few weeks, but it's NOTHING like what we thought it would be. Praise be to God!

Random aside: Just ONE WEEK until the Casting Crowns concert!!!!!! We're going with some of our favorite people... the teenagers from our church. It's going to be a BLAST!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Did You Perform Your Civic Duty Yet?

There are approximately 2 1/2 hours left to vote here in Kentucky... so if you haven't done so already, please make your way to your designated polling place and fulfill your civic duty. The boys and I went this morning to vote. Ladan thought I said I was going to goat. He said he didn't want a goat, because that would be scary. I made sure he understood my pronunciation and went on to explain that voting meant that I was simply going to go into a room, tell people my name, and fill in some circles to tell people who I thought would be good for certain jobs and to say if I wanted some of our money to pay for better libraries. Either he understood me or he didn't hear any words in that sentence that were scary to him, because when we arrived at our polling place, he happily skipped alongside me and went right inside.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I Knew It Wouldn't Be Long

Recently, I wrote about how Ladan noticed a baseball player spitting during a World Series game. He thought it was popcorn at the time. I knew the day would come when he'd figure out that it might not actually be popcorn, but I was hoping it wouldn't come so soon. This time I have football players to credit. We were watching the LSU/Bama game yesterday. Ladan was sitting on my lap, and suddenly he turned his head quickly to the left and spit with some pretty good force. It splatted (yes, I said splatted) on his forearm. For a second, he acted like nothing had happened. I was mortified but not entirely surprised. I quickly wiped it off... with my hand, of course (because that's somehow NOT grosser than the spit just sitting there on his arm) and explained that spitting is one of the things that we don't copy the football and baseball players doing. He simply replied, "Oh, okay." Now let's just hope he remembers it next time we watch some sporting event!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Can We Market Our Kids as Stress Relievers?

Well, Gabe is officially everywhere on his feet, and it's awesome! He helped with the laundry for the first time today. I was unloading the dryer, and he came over and started pulling clothing items out for me one by one. Of course, he threw some of them on the floor, but others he handed up to me. It was a blast!

Just within the last week or so, Gabe has also gotten tons better at communicating certain things. For example, today I asked him if he'd like a piece of cheese, and he shook his head "no". Well, that was certainly much easier than breaking up a piece of cheese only to see it thrown to the ground and wasted. He's babbling a ton and still loves singing. Finally, he's getting lots better at responding when we give him verbal direction--we don't always have to actually show him what we want him to do.

I keep forgetting to write about Ladan's favorite Charlotte's Web characters: Fussy Henry, Burn, and Honkle Homer. (Just in case you're not up on Charlotte's Web, these are his substitutes for Henry Fussy, Fern, and Uncle Homer.)

For Christmas two years ago, Chet and I made Ladan a giraffe at Build-A-Bear. Sometime during the last few months, he decided it would be fun to ride the giraffe. So he jumps on to the giraffe's back, holds on to its ears and gallops through the house making very loud horse noises. At these moments, he calls his giraffe his "crazy horse". Well, tonight, Ladan was riding said crazy horse at the time his bed time snack was ready for consumption. I called him over, and he came... with a look of great concern. He tried to arrange things so the giraffe could share his booster seat. However, there's just not enough room for that. I suggested that he just let the giraffe sit on the floor next to him until he was finished eating. He replied, "Well, I think he needs his own chair." So we sat the giraffe in the chair across the table from Ladan and propped his head on the table. Then we moved the candle out of the center of the table so Ladan and the giraffe could maintain eye contact during their snack time. It's the little things that make all the difference, I guess!

It appears as though Chet is totally exhausted. It has gotten to the point where he almost always forgets at least one very important thing every time he leaves the house. Normally, Chet so rarely forgets things that, unless you were married to him, you might be able to say with a bit of confidence that he NEVER forgets things. So the fact that this is happening almost every time he leaves the house is actually pretty big. No person's body was meant to operate on 4-5 hours of sleep per night (or morning in his case) for such lengthy periods of time. I would suggest that this is one of the pretty major negative effects of the invention of electricity and the light bulb. For example, it's nearly 2am, and I'm sitting here writing this while Chet's at work. Insane!

Anyway, my assessment is that overall, he's handling his stress and lack of sleep exceedingly well. It just comes out in little ways like forgetting stuff. Needless to say, he's being tested. The really great thing is that, despite the fact that this is his hardest semester ever, he's busier than ever, and has less sleep than ever, he's handling things BETTER than ever! I am seeing the Lord's hand at work in my husband helping him through and giving him grace to handle REALLY WELL what could push any person over the edge. Now, I'm just praying that the Lord will have mercy on him for the remaining four weeks and either provide some sleep... or an extra punch of energy along with a renewal of his mental sharpness. Please pray that he will finish well and that I will know how to be a helper to him.

Praise God for cheesy grins, singing babies, hysterical laughter, and crazy horses sitting at our table! Praise Him for testing us and allowing us to see how we've grown individually and in our marriage! And praise him for showing us ways we need to continue to grow... this in itself is a mercy. What if we skated through seminary with no difficult scheduling issues or exhaustion issues and were completely shocked when we moved into the "real world" of ministry? The Lord has been merciful to us to allow us to work through how to handle all these things while we're still in the company of such great mentors and while we have some of the best resources in the world right at our fingertips! What a great time in our lives!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The New Look

I decided to change the look of this blog for a couple of reasons. First of all, I was getting starry-eyed every time I spent more than a few minutes looking at the other one, so I decided that light print on a dark page is not likely to contribute to the preservation of my eyesight. And secondly, I prefer to have a wider view of the page so I can see more text at one time. Hence the switch. Let me know what you think.

FYI--The photo at the top of the page is one that Chet took of a Midland, TX sunset a couple of years ago.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rally Diapers!

We were watching the game again tonight, and Gabe was enjoying himself right along with us. He found a diaper (it was clean) in a basket in the hallway and brought it out to the living room. He was standing in front of the couch waving it around just like the people in the crowd waving their rally towels. I asked him if he was waving his rally diaper, and he got so excited! He whirled it even harder and smiled from ear to ear! Too bad we didn't get video.

Here are a couple recent Ladan conversations:

We were getting ready to take the boys to Parents' Night Out, so we put a fleece top on Ladan. Chet told him he was a cool dude. He came to find me and said, "Look, Mommy, I'm a COOL DUDE!" There's obviously no lack of self-confidence here.

Last Night
Earlier in the evening, I explained to Ladan that Horseland would be on in the morning (it's his favorite Saturday show). Fast forward a few hours... I was getting Ladan settled into his bed for the night...

Me: See you in the morning.

Ladan: And then we'll wake up? And we can watch Horseland... and you'll tell me it's not on yet?

Ha! This DOES happen just about every Saturday. On Friday night I tell him that we'll be able to watch Horseland the next morning. Morning comes. Ladan shoots out of bed and shouts with his arms pumping in the air, "I'm ready to watch Horselaaaaaand!" And Horseland isn't on yet (it doesn't show until 11:30)... so he has to wait. The good news is that he didn't wake up until 11:15 today, so he only had to wait about 15 minutes. Not too bad!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Popcorn and Peanuts

We've been watching a lot of baseball in our house for the last couple of weeks. We're not afraid to say we're rooting for the Rockies, even though they're currently behind. The Red Sox are a good team, but it would be so great if the Rockies surprised the whole world and came out of nowhere to win the whole thing!

Last night we were watching game one of the World Series. Ladan pays attention to just about every detail. At some point, one of the players hocked a big one (you know, spit), and Ladan said, "Oh. He just spit out all his popcorn. That's funny." Of course, we laughed, which caused him to laugh at himself, which caused us to laugh even harder! We'll just let him think that the guy was spitting out popcorn. If we revealed the truth, he'd want to know exactly how the guy did it, and then he'd spend his afternoons practicing. I think I'll choose place kicking inside the house over that any day! He'll be spitting all over the ground soon enough!

I took the little peanut (Gabe) to the doctor last Thursday for his one year appointment... a few weeks late. He weighed 18 lbs. 8 oz., which is EXACTLY what Ladan weighed at that age. However, Gabe measured 29.75 inches long, whereas Ladan measured 31 inches. Overall, even though Gabe is only around the 5th percentile for his weight just like Ladan, it's spread out over fewer inches, so it's not as big a deal. He also has quite the appetite, which lowers the level of concern. He eats like a horse, but he seems to burn it off as soon as his feet or knees hit the floor. That kid is EVERYWHERE! I've had to put the pack-n-play out in the living room area during the day so that I can put him in it if I need to get something done without chasing him. He actually seems to enjoy it. Ladan has to have a turn every day too, which is kind of funny.

I actually think Gabe is going through some kind of a growth spurt, because he's been waking up sometimes in the night needing to eat, even after he eats massive amounts of food right before going to bed. For example, the other night, I fed him two containers of baby food vegetables and then a large bowl of oatmeal mixed with another jar of baby food fruit... and he ate it ALL. Today, I took him to another appointment, and with his clothes on, he weighed a pound more and measured 3/4 inch taller than last week. So it could have been his clothes or just the different scale... or he could have really gained a pound and grown .75 inches. Either way we look at it, he's a little peanut, and it's going to be a while before he gets to turn his carseat around and face the front.

Gabe is starting to develop a bit of separation anxiety. We still leave him, realizing that he'll get over it sooner if we just leave him and give him a chance to figure out that we're coming back.

Chet and I get to go out tomorrow night! We're taking advantage of the seminary Parents' Night Out, which should be fun.

Speaking of Chet, he's still doing really well this semester in his classes. His Hebrew class was getting a little bit behind schedule (because they only meet twice a week instead of 4x per week). In an effort to catch up a bit, his instructor has decided to eliminate the rest of their exams and use that time for instruction time. And, instead of having a quiz at the beginning of each class period, they will only have a quiz once a week. This will put more weight on each assignment (there's still an assignment due each time) and on their quizzes, but it will allow them to cover more material, which is a big relief for Chet. After all, if you're going to go on to the next level, it's a good idea to have covered all the concepts in the introductory course. He still has a whole ton of stuff to do by the end of the semester, but in just 5 weeks, he'll be finished with his hardest semester of school!

One of these days, I'll get a second to post a photo or two of Megan and Mike's wedding....

Monday, October 8, 2007

Gabe's 1st Birthday!

Well, we finally had a cake for Gabe! We celebrated with our small group tonight. They also surprised me with a cake for my birthday, which was super-fun! Here are some photos of my little peanut enjoying his special birthday treat...

"There's a Clock in Your Watch It"

That's what Ladan says whenever he sees my watch. Hilarious!

On Friday, I was sitting out on the front stoop reading a book while he practiced his place kicking in the grass. After a while, he came over, sat down, propped his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees, and asked, "So, what are we doing?"

Our most recent favorite thing he says is, "Could you please put my moke [milk] in the frig-a-mator?"

He does a great job singing his ABC's now! He usually only misses a few letters. It goes something like this, "A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-J-L- -N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-P-W-X-Y-V", and when he's really on it, he says the Z correctly on the end. He gets so excited about everything he's learning!

I'm not normally away from the boys for longer than a few hours, so I don't tend to realize how quickly they really are learning new things. So this weekend, when I was away for three days, it became abundantly clear how much Ladan is soaking up in such a short time period!

Today marked the first day all week that Ladan hasn't screamed bloody murder at both his nap time and bed time because he's scared to go to sleep. For the last several nights, he's been startled awake by scary dreams, so he hasn't wanted to go to sleep in the first place. Thankfully, it seems like maybe he's over the worst of it. We'll see when 3am rolls around!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Overwhelmed... Part 3

In addition to the blessings of creation and the messages I heard at the conference, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord in providing amazing people in my life.

First of all, I have a wonderful husband who worked a week to pay my way to this conference even though he didn't get to go. He didn't enjoy the fact that we were gone for the weekend, especially since Gabe turned one on Saturday, but he always portrayed that in a way that let us know that he simply missed us... not that he was upset that we were gone or jealous that I was at the conference without him. He entrusted me to the care and protection of Matt for the weekend. My brother and Amber stayed at Matt's house too, so they were around plenty, but there was a lot of time where they were hanging out with their friends from college, which resulted in me spending a good deal of time with Matt himself. Now, of course, Matt is a trustworthy man (as proven over a long period of time), but Chet's trust in me (and ultimately in the Lord) is motivation enough to maintain faithfulness in our relationship. After all, who would want to ruin something so great? Chet and I are able to call one another to be above reproach while also trusting one another completely to be faithful. Some people may think this is crazy, but I am so grateful for this aspect of our relationship. What a gift from the Lord!

I am also continually reminded of the gift of a brother and sister-in-law who are some of my best friends on the planet. I realize that this isn't always the case in families, so I do not take this for granted. Whenever we're together, I cannot help but turn my eyes to the Lord in praise.

(Matt, Me, Vernon (my brother), and Amber, and my growing neice or nephew)

And now for the story of my dear friend, Matt... some of you who read this blog already know who he is and others don't. However, I don't think I've clearly communicated to any more than two or three of you why he means so much to me. Matt and I met in high school. Because of our activities and such, we kind of ran around with different groups of friends for the first few years, crossing paths outside of school only occasionally. I'm not exactly sure what happened that we started hanging out all the time our senior year (maybe the fact that we had 6 of 7 classes together), but such was the case. There were a lot of things happening in my life at that point. I was in a not-so-great relationship with a guy who had graduated already and was off at college; my parents were going through a divorce; I was concerned about my brother; and I was less involved in our church for a variety of reasons. Through all of these situations, Matt was like a rock for me, and his mom created a home that was a haven for me. Matt helped me through Calculus, made me laugh just by speaking (if you ever meet him, you'll know what I mean--he's hilarious!), could encourage me without a word, helped me find a dress for graduation, and generally provided a bit of normalcy in my life at that point. He granted me the privilege of riding in the "Silver Bullet", the large silver station wagon that he drove at the time. He was a true gentleman, always looking out for me and protecting me from all sorts of things--all without making me feel like I couldn't take care of myself.

We kept up with one another well through the first part of college, but then things sort of just dropped off for one reason or another. A few years ago, I was looking at my high school yearbooks, and I came across a more-than-hilarious message that he had written to me. I decided to call his mom to see if I could track him down. I did, and we've been chatting here and there on the phone since then. Each year when we go home to St. Louis for Christmas, Chet is gracious to watch the boys for a period of time so I can spend a few hours catching up with Matt. However, I still hadn't spent any length of time with him in years... until this weekend.

It was just like the old days! We had the best time! I got to hear all about his girlfriend (I hope I get to hang out with her this Christmas, because she sounds really great). He showed me his office at the Target Corporation. He took me to some of his favorite places to eat (Brit's Pub, Eli's, and Joe's Garage). He helped me find a dress for Megan's wedding. (I told Chet he probably needs to write Matt a thank-you note for this one! :) Chet hates to shop, and Matt's still great at it, so it worked out fabulously.) We watched a few shows on HGTV, talked about current events, spent time with my brother and Amber, laughed hysterically at the Miss Teen USA clip on YouTube, and went for a couple of longer walks around the city. He was always right on time to pick me up from the conference center when the sessions were over so I didn't have to walk downtown at night by myself, and he was always interested to hear how things were going. Basically, nothing's changed... except for the fact that we live 900 miles apart, I'm married with two kids, he's got Jen, and the Lord has totally changed my life since high school. Okay, so a lot has changed, but it appears as though his friendship to me hasn't. He still made me laugh, listened to my passions and desires, encouraged me with words or without, protected me, and made sure I had everything I needed. He'll probably never understand what a blessing he is to me.

And, once again, I'm so thankful to Chet for trusting me to spend time with a guy who, to Chet, is practically a stranger. They've met and had lunch together before, but for all intents and purposes, they don't really know each other except what I tell them about each other. I know they'd have a blast together, but so far, circumstances have caused their time together to be limited. In any case, I praise God and love my husband even more because he maintains a godly jealousy rather than a possessive lordship over me.

It was also a huge blessing to see some friends I haven't seen in a long time...

Jason Calcote sang with the conference worship team, and I was able to catch up with him for a minute. Jason is one of the most humble, God-honoring guys I know, and he happens to be one of the most passionate pray-ers there is. What a treat to see him... and hear him bringing it on the stage!

Rob Satrom was there with a group of college students from his hometown. I was able to talk to him and was so encouraged by his friendship. If you're reading this blog, Rob, thanks for being faithful to pray!!!!

I saw Pastor Mark and Brenda Janke for a minute on Saturday morning. Kind of funny, because they live practically down the road here in Louisville, and I haven't seen them in a few months. I pray that this conference was especially encouraging for them as they persevere in their endeavor to grow Grace Church of Louisville. What a blessing they are to our community!

I also ran into the ever-cheerful Haddon Anderson and was able to meet his beautiful fiancee, Karlyn. I actually met her before I even knew she was engaged to Haddon, which was fun! Tears came to my eyes as Karlyn told Amber and I that she had just received a phone call that morning from one of the women she had discipled in Guinea two years ago... and the woman was still walking with the Lord! Halleluia!!!

Finally, I'm praising God for Chet's mom, Glenna, who took such good care of my boys and made sure that Gabe had a really fun first birthday; for Shane and Shane, who labored to write and perform the music on the Pages CD which filled my heart with joy in the Lord the whole way to and from the conference; and for Ladan and Gabe, who gave me the most amazing homecoming reception a gal could ask for... may they jump up and down with smiles from ear to ear when they see me for as long as I live!

Overwhelmed... Part 2

The Desiring God conference itself was too much to describe. After every session, Matt would ask me how it went, and I only seemed to be able to assign one-word adjectives. There was so much going on in my head that I couldn't even articulate. I'm sure he thought I was a bit crazy (of course, this was confirmed way back in high school!).

As I was talking with my brother and Amber, we discussed the fact that it is incredibly humbling to hear people like Jerry Bridges and Helen Roseveare, who are 77 and 83 years old respectively, share about their ministries and their walks with the Lord. It was also a great joy to hear MacArthur, Alcorn and Piper. Basically, at the end of it all, we were talking about how it's impossible to hear these people talk and not feel an obligation to do something with what they've said. You CANNOT just let it go in one ear and out the other without it changing your life somewhere in between.

I fully anticipate listening to the conference sessions at least once every couple of months... maybe for the rest of my life. If you're interested in hearing them as well, please go to the Desiring God site and check it out. You can listen to the audio, watch the videos, or read the manuscripts.

After one of the sessions, I was telling Matt that I so want to be 80 years old and still passionate about the Lord and sharing Him with others despite a hunched back or bad eyesight. He kindly encouraged me by saying, "You can, you know." May I be faithful to do just that!

Two scriptures highlighted at the conference that perfectly describe the cries of my heart:
  • Psalm 27:4 (ESV) -- One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
  • Psalm 71:18 (ESV) -- So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Overwhelmed... Part 1

I am totally overwhelmed by the goodness of God. Seriously. My chest has been feeling like it's going to explode for the last 5 days. I took off with the boys on Thursday, and we drove to Chet's hometown. We arrived at Chet's mom's house LATE on Thursday night. I settled the boys in and gave instructions for their care (thankfully, I don't have to give Glenna many instructions, because she ROCKS). Then I woke up early on Friday and took to the road again... on my way to Minneapolis for the Desiring God conference this time. My brother and sister-in-law met up with me there, and we stayed with my good friend, Matt. He lives and works in the city just a few blocks from the conference center, so it was perfect! The theme of the conference was "Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints", and the speakers were John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges, Randy Alcorn, Helen Roseveare, and John Piper. It was phenomenal. The whole weekend was more than I could handle.

I'm going to attempt to put it all into words, but I'm sure it will be inadequate. I've been studying Genesis in my time with the Lord, so I think I'll try to pattern my thoughts after this first book of the Word....

The Wonder of Creation

I saw and enjoyed every aspect of the LORD's creation this weekend. I drove exactly 1,900 miles (1,000 with the boys in the car) over the course of five days... and I saw so many indescribable things.

On my way from Louisville to Novinger, MO, we drove through the Hoosier National Forest. Some of the trees had started to turn, but there were some that were particularly interesting. They were smaller and narrower than most trees, and inevitably, they were backed by dark green evergreens. These particular trees had lost all of their leaves except for one or two at the end of every branch. These leaves were bright yellow, and with the dark green of the evergreens in the background, they were breathtaking. The Lord is detailed in His creation!

As we passed over the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, I noticed how little rain we've really had. The sandbars jutting up above the water were enormous... bigger than I remember seeing at any point before.

On my way from Novinger to Minneapolis, I saw so many wonderful things:
  • As soon as I crossed over into Iowa, the roads were lined with the most beautiful yellow and purple wildflowers
  • I saw a couple Amish folks riding in their horse-drawn carriages. Their horses are always breathtaking.
  • I passed by the turn-off for the Bridges of Madison County and drove through the Silos and Smokestacks region of Iowa... both things I'd like to go back and see more of.
  • Two dead skunks... the only thing that made this wonderful was that it seemed like they had died long enough before my arrival on the scene that they didn't smell totally disgusting.
  • The OLD mansions of Centerville, Iowa and other towns along the way. I love small-town old houses. I don't think I ever want to own one, but I thoroughly enjoy looking at them. Speaking of Centerville, Iowa, their town sign says they are "Quietly Progressive." I thought that was kind of funny.
  • Driving through northern Iowa, I ran across a sign that read, "Politicians take note... Hogs don't vote!" Which made me thankful that I couldn't smell those resident hogs as I drove through! :)

And then I arrived in Minneapolis and was pleasantly surprised. I had assumed that it was a pretty cool city, but it is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Clean, well-designed, and full of interesting things to do and see. The buildings were huge, which made it seem like the airplanes flying by were traveling at about 4 miles per hour. I drove into the city to pick Matt up, and we went back out to the airport to pick up my brother and Amber. It was SO GOOD to be in the car with all of them... like I was home even though I was 900 miles away from home. I'll designate a separate entry to the happenings of the conference and our good times. For now, I'll finish with what I saw along the way.

Sunday I dropped my brother and Amber off at the airport and set out to drive back to Novinger. There was a pretty bad rainstorm going on, and I ended up hydroplaning twice on my way to the airport. So I called Matt and asked him to check the weather for me. He communicated that the storm should be letting up just south of town, so I pressed on. I'm so grateful. Somewhere into Iowa, the clouds started to part to the west. However, I was still under the ledge of clouds and rain. There was a bright blue sky with a setting sun to the west, and a black sky to the east. I looked over at one point, and I saw it... the brightest double rainbow I've ever seen in my life! It was totally uninterrupted, but within seconds, it vanished. Thank You, Lord!

As I kept driving, there were flashes of lightning that spanned the entire sky, with streaks to my right, left, and directly in front of me all at the same time. Our Creator is indeed the Father of Lights!!!!

Once I turned onto Highway 2 to travel across southern Iowa, I was officially in farm country again. I saw several dead deer (thankfully no live ones coming at me), a rat ran across the road, and a frog came hopping right at my car. I hope I missed him. After I had driven through several small towns, I looked for a place that seemed far away from light pollution, and I stopped. I turned off the car and all my lights and stared up at a sky full of stars. FABULOUS!!! (When I told my brother about this, he told me I'm never to do that again... being a girl driving by myself and all. I'll just have to make sure I don't tell him about it! :) Just kidding, Bro.)

On the final stretch of the drive, we were driving across Southern Indiana through the Hoosier National Forest again, and the sky was emblazoned by the biggest, brightest orange sun setting in the sky I have ever seen. We were driving away from it, but thank God for rear-view mirrors! I was able to watch it until it dropped off the horizon.

Praise God for His glorious creation! What a mercy to allow me to see so many aspects of the earth in just five days' time!

Romans 1:19-20a (ESV) -- For what can be known about God is plain to [man], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ladan's First Dentist Appointment... and My Birthday Present

Ladan had his first dentist appointment on Monday afternoon. We had talked about it on Sunday, so when he woke up on Monday morning, the first thing he YELLED was, "Mommy, I'm ready to go to the DENTIST!!!!!!!" (with his arms pumping in the air as he jumped from his bed). Of course, we had to wait three hours before our 1:15 appointment (that's right... he woke up at 10:15). We killed some time around the house, and he practically flew out the door when it was time to go. All the way there, he talked about how the dentist was going to clean the sugarbugs off his teeth.

We walked into the waiting room, and he was doing great while I filled out his paperwork. He was reading books and saying "that lady isn't going to brush my teeth" every time a new female patient walked in. When Andrea, our hygienist, called his name, we walked back, Ladan almost skipping with excitement.

Then he saw it... the big dentist's chair. And he screamed in terror. I got him calmed down. He refused to sit in it. I sat him in my lap. We showed him the pointy instrument used to count his teeth. He refused to open his mouth. We counted our fingers using said pointy instrument. He opened his mouth. He has 20 teeth. So far, no new discoveries. He started crying and screaming again. He got a sticker (tell me how this works, and I can't tell you--it doesn't happen this way at home, but this was "different"... apparently). It was Thomas. More crying. I prayed with him. He calmed down. Until Andrea came to introduce him to Mr. Thirsty (the thing that sucks slobber and water out of your mouth). He freaked! She moved on to the next activity.

He got to choose a flavor of toothpaste. Pink was his choice (bubble gum flavor). Andrea turned on the toothbrush. He freaked again. Now keep in mind that I'm holding him this entire time. I had my arm around him, and his little heart was beating just as hard and fast as it possibly could without causing some kind of cardiac arrest. She backed off again. We talked about trusting Mommy, God, and the dentist and about how we're trying to help him get the sugarbugs off his teeth so they don't fall out. He calmed down again (his heartrate confirmed this) and opened his mouth. Andrea was able to clean a tooth. We celebrated... for precisely 0.2 seconds before he realized what had happened and started crying again. He calmed down again and opened his mouth. She cleaned a second tooth. Celebration. Then crying.

Andrea decided it was time to stop. She said it's completely normal to have this experience the first time at the dentist. We'll try it again in six months. She gave him a hand balloon (she blew her glove up and tied it in a knot). He chose a toothbrush. He gave her a high-five with his hand balloon and thanked her for her time. Literally, he said, "Thank you for your time." She left the room.

And yet the drama continued. I stood up from under Ladan and went to sit him down in the chair so I could take his photo at his first dentist appointment. I was obviously not thinking, because he screamed with terror and looked at me like I had just slapped him across the face. I tried to explain that I just wanted to take his picture and that we were all done. When I realized he heard none of that, I quickly helped him down from the chair and took his photo standing up. He walked out of there as quickly as he could while still staying beside me.

When we got home, Ladan ran to Chet, and shouted, "Daddy, the dentist cleaned the sugarbugs off my teeth!" I clarified a little bit.

Chet went off to campus to study, and I stayed home with the boys eagerly anticipating the arrival of my birthday present! My birthday isn't for another week and a half, but the boys bought my present early, and IT'S AWESOME!!!!! I've been doing my walking/jogging routine with the boys quite a few times each week, but using the regular double stroller has been killing my back. So they bought be a double jogger. I cannot describe the difference. I can push and steer the thing with a finger, and because it's a double, I can spread my hands out a bit on the handle bar and open my lungs to breathe. I've found breathing to be a helpful addition to my workout routine! The other great thing is that the boys LOVE sitting right next to each other. They rest their heads on one another or sit forward together looking all around and giggling.

I have to say that this is one of the best presents I've ever received! It's right up there with the little bath bench that Chet got me for Valentine's Day one year so I could use it as a desk surface in the tub. I was in the middle of my student-teaching semester, and I kept telling Chet how great it would be if there was some way I could rig something up so I could grade papers in the tub at the end of the day (without risking dropping them right in the water). He and his best friend, Joey, went searching for just the right kind of thing... and they found it! What a creative gift!!! I can only imagine that I will look back on the gift of this stroller with equal or even greater gratitude.

To wrap up our Monday.... Before bed that night, Ladan prayed and thanked God for the ride in his new blue stroller [emphasis mine], for the dentist and for getting his teeth brushed. He told God that he yelled at the lady and said, "NO!" The next morning, he woke up and said he was ready to go to the dentist again! I knew he would forget the terror of this day by the time he was 10 or 12, but I didn't realize he'd forget it by the next day!!! Apparently, there IS hope for the next dentist appointment!

Wait Just a Minute... Is This 2007 or 1987?

Here's one for you... Ladan thoroughly enjoys tractors and has one that he particularly enjoys playing with. That's not the funny part (in case you were trying to laugh but couldn't). The funny part is that he calls it...

his "Tractor Keeper". He knows it's a tractor, but he prefers to call it his tractor keeper.

What!?! Has he ever even heard of a Trapper Keeper? Did he know even before I did that Mead was going to come out with a new and improved version of The Original Trapper Keeper? Where did he pick this up? I'm totally baffled, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gabe's Firsts and Faves... and One Funny Ladan Story

The last few weeks have marked many firsts for Gabe, which I'll list below:
  • First trip to the beach (9/9/07)
  • First time in a swimming pool (9/10/07)
  • First STEPS! (9/18/07) -- He took a couple of steps a couple of times yesterday! Chet got to see it all, and I missed it, which means I also don't have video verification. Oh well. It seems entirely possible that we'll have another opportunity to get that in the near future.
  • First shower (9/18/07). He loved the shower, water spraying all over his head and everything! He flipped around like a fish out of water in that tub, so I had to watch him, but he had a BLAST!
  • First injury inflicted by his personal body guard. (9/19/07). After church tonight, I was chatting with a friend. Gabe was crawling on the sidewalk and was heading in the general direction of the street (he was a good 5 feet away from the curb). Ladan JUMPED up from where he was in the grass; ran over to Gabe; yelled, "No, Baby Gabe! That's dangerous!"; and promptly squashed his brother down to the ground so he couldn't endanger himself any further. As a result, Gabe had the shock of his life and has a nasty scraped up fat lip to prove it all. Though Ladan overreacted just a bit, I did not correct him for squishing his brother. I simply thanked him for protecting Baby Gabe and let him know that, should this happen again the future, he might simply hold his brother's hand until I can get there.

His favorite word is "Ladan".

He now waves bye-bye.

He LOVES fruit of all kinds and most vegetables. I can't seem to feed him enough of these things.

He gets excited to see me, but when Ladan or Chet walk into the room, oh my goodness!

He enjoys singing, playing peek-a-boo, and clapping his hands.

He loves to play with any type of ball or book.

I can't believe he'll be one year old in 9 days! What a blessing to be his mom!


When Ladan has to use the restroom, he always comes running in to me and says, "Wait just a minute, Mommy! I have to go potty!" So, yesterday, I was getting Ladan ready to do just that. He stepped up on the stool and got his shorts down. I asked him to go ahead and pull his undies down, and he responded, "I can't do that right now, Mommy. I might crack my finger." Oh, well, my goodness. We can't have that, can we?!

A few minutes later, he told me that he couldn't lay in his bed for his nap because he might crack his head. I looked at him. And he promptly laid down on his pillow.


(Don't miss the entry below recounting our vacation adventures!)

A Trip to the Beach and a Near-Death Experience

Do you see that photo at the top of my blog? Well, I got to take the boys there last week, and it was SO FUN! My mom came over a couple of days early, and we all drove up to Grand Haven, MI together. Then my grandparents met us there the next day. They had never met Gabe before, and Ladan and I hadn't seen them in almost two years, so this was a special treat.

This was my first kid-on-the-beach experience, so I wasn't exactly sure what I should do with Gabe. I asked many friends, and none of them had any good advice... except be ready to fish sand out of his mouth if he gets enough that he's choking. It's a good thing I tend to be a little bit laid-back when it comes to my kids encountering germs, because the thought of seagull poop in his mouth might have prevented me from going otherwise.

So, in the interest of your time, I'll get on with the photos, and I'll include a few little stories where necessary....

In case you're a relativist who isn't sure whether or not there's truth in the statement that the earth is round, these first two photos are for you.

The boys had a blast the one day we actually got to play on the beach. It was 80 degrees, there was a calm breeze, and the water was warm enough to get in. Gabe took right to it all. Ladan needed a few minutes to get used the facts that the sand was dirty and that the water might make him wet. He was pretty funny, actually. For the first 30+ minutes, he did things a little differently than most kids. Most kids I know take wet sand up to the dry sand so they can make castles, etc. Ladan, on the other hand, took the dry sand down to the wet sand so as to make it less "muddy". After a good bit of time, however, he did what every kid does and spent about an hour throwing shovels of sand out to the water.

Our beach day was Sunday. Monday was rainy, so we decided to do some swimming in the hotel pool and celebrate our Dutch heritage with a trip to Holland, MI. Ladan promptly found the huge wooden shoes and decided they would serve better as race cars for he and Gabe.

Then Tuesday was ultra-windy. The winds were about 35-40 miles per hour... leading to the crazy-hair photos below. If Gabe had hair, it would have been blowing too! Ladan was very uncomfortable in the wind, so he stayed up closer to the car with Grandma. Gabe accompanied me all the way to the water's edge, which is where I snapped the shot of the two of us.

And these are my grandparents! My Gram will be 80 in the spring, and Ken is something like 83. They're so active and energetic, and they have a BLAST together! Ken has macular degeneration, so he can't see much at all. However, Gabe's big eyes captured his heart. It wasn't long before he was crawling around on the floor with Gabe playing peek-a-boo.

Okay, so here's my mom's favorite part... the horse-riding experience. My Uncle Bob (mom's brother) lives about 20 minutes from Grand Haven, and he invited us to come out to ride his horses. Ladan thought the idea was really great, but these were some big horses, so he decided it wasn't such a great idea anyway. I rode Buddy using the saddle normally fitted for the other horse. After walking into a tree line, nearly falling off the horse MULTIPLE times, and fearing for my life a few more than that, I figured out how to get Buddy to do what I wanted him to do.

I quickly learned from experience that horses get a little bit "fiesty" (as Bob termed it) on cool, breezy days. As soon as the breeze picked up, so did Buddy. I can't even count the number of times I had to slow the silly horse down so I didn't bounce right off the top of him. It wasn't until I dismounted, and my cousin was about to get on that we realized that Buddy's saddle was too loose. It's no wonder I felt a bit insecure! Lesson #1: if you're jumping up onto a horse, and his saddle slides down his side, get back off and tighten it... BEFORE you go for a 3-mile ride! Lesson #2: If you fail to do this, your bottom will likely hurt for a day or two. Lesson #3: It's still pretty fun even if it's a bit scary!

Gabe decided he would go ahead and attempt to ride with Bob. He was right at home, and Bob was having a great time! Ladan was content to pet the horses, which is just fine with me.

And here are a few photos of the lake (Lake Michigan, in case you're not sure). The wind prevented us from hanging out on the beach, but it made some really great waves! There is no doubt that the LORD is an all-powerful Creator! Just look at his handiwork!

And, finally, does anyone with loads of random knowledge happen to have figured out why seagulls stand perfectly still staring in exactly the same direction at a time of high winds and possible rain? I'm assuming it's to streamline their bodies and make it a little bit easier to stand on their tiny little feet. But if there's a better or more complete explanation, please comment.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More Conversations With Ladan...

Conversation #1

Let me set the story up a bit for you...

When Ladan is being bothered by another child, his tendency is to just scream. We have been trying to teach him how to handle this a little bit better. When one of his friends is pushing or doing something he doesn't appreciate or understand, we instruct him to simply say, "Please don't do that." If the child continues, he is to come tell us or another adult in charge (he is not to hit or push back).

A couple of days ago, we were taking our normal evening walk/jog in the park. Gabe was in the back of the 2-kid stroller, and Ladan was in front. Ladan wanted to recline his seat, causing his bright orange hat to be within arm's reach of his very curious little brother. That said, his hat didn't stay on his head long, and he was quickly moved to shout at his brother, "BABY GABE, PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!" It was a little loud, but he was getting the concept. Realizing that when another person touches Ladan's hat it's the equivalent of them taking his underpants or some other terrible offense, and that Gabe (at 11 months of age) probably wasn't going to understand my explanation, I had to come up with a quick solution. They swapped seats.

Now Ladan was sitting in the back, and Gabe was in the front. Of course, this was very difficult for Gabe, because everything that was interesting to him was behind him. He was regularly turning around and laughing at Ladan. Since Ladan's hat was safe, he felt free to enjoy the company of his baby brother. He started to gently tickle Gabe's ears. After a few tickles, it became clear that Gabe no longer enjoyed this type of play. The conversation followed like this...

Me: "Ladan, please don't poke at or tickle your brother. He's not enjoying that."

(He promptly stops and sits back in his seat.)

Ladan: "Mommy, could you please don't do that?"

Me: "Don't do what?"

Ladan: "Could you please don't tell Ladan "stop tickling my broder"?"

Me: "Ladan, Mommy is trying to help you love your brother. When you were tickling him and poking at him, he wasn't enjoying it. I want Baby Gabe to like hanging out with you, so I'm helping you learn how to show him love."

Ladan: "Because I don't know these things."

Me: "Yes."

Ladan: "And you're helping me."

Me: "Yes."

Ladan: "Thanks, Mom."

The ride home was quiet and uneventful, aside from Gabe's near escape from his stroller buckle. That kid is going to be some kind of Houdini, I'm convinced.

Conversation #2

(Ladan is sitting on the potty, and I'm cleaning the toys out of the tub.)

Ladan: "Hey, Mom?"

Me: "Yes, Ladan?" (If I want him to say "Yes, Mommy" I better set an example and say "Yes, Ladan")

Ladan: "When I had my zookinny (zucchini) in my mouth and kept it there, Daddy dissipwinned (disciplined) me."

Me: "Did he do that because you were refusing to swallow your food?"

Ladan: "Yeah. I didn't chew up my zookinny and swawwow it."

Me: "Daddy didn't want you to choke, huh?" (This has actually happened many times in our home when Ladan keeps his food in his mouth for 30+ minutes refusing to swallow it. He may not be the meanest kid on the block, but he's got an independent streak that cuts to the core.)

Ladan: "Yeah. Daddy didn't want me to choke. He helped me eat my zookinny. Daddy loves me. And teaches me right from wrong. So I don't disobey and choke. On my zookinny."

He said "zookinny" so many times in the course of the conversation, I couldn't help but give him a big squeeze. I love that word! And his expressions were priceless! It was also a huge blessing to hear that the thing he focuses on when he recounts correction is that his daddy loves him and wants to help him.

Conversation #3

(This is our normal conversation every night when I put Ladan to bed. He sits on my back while we read his Bible story. Then he lays on my back while we pray. Then I tuck him under his covers, give him a kiss on the cheek, and we go through our nightly salutations.)

Me: "Goodnight, my buddy."

Ladan: "Goodnight, my Mommy."

Me: "I love you."

Ladan: "I love you too."

Me: "Sleep good."

Ladan: "Sleep good, Mom."

Me: "See you in the morning."

Ladan: "See you in the warning." (I'll be so sad when he stops saying this.)

What a sweet kid! It's no wonder I generally feel energized for a couple more hours of chores after that!

New Music

August 28 was a good day in the music world. Two new and amazing cds came out...

Casting Crowns The Altar and the Door

And Shane & Shane Pages.

Chet and I are going with a couple other folks our age and a load of teens from our church to the Casting Crowns concert in November, and I cannot wait! The cd is great, but Casting Crowns is always so good in concert that the cd almost pales in comparison. Because the cd is great, I can only imagine what the concert will be like....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nothing Like a Good Shower and Shave

...for the couch, that is! I am so excited because I steam cleaned our couch tonight. It's a hand-me-down couch that has been through four owners, I think. It's approximately 15-20 years old, and it wasn't too expensive to begin with. However, the thing has held up like a champ. Sure, you can feel a few wires in your back when you sit down, but overall, it's relatively comfortable. It also takes up much less space than its more modern counterparts. And while it might not necessarily sell for much on the street, it's worth at least $400 to us... the cost of replacement if we decided to swap it.

I have to admit that I was feeling a little bit of discontentment as I stared at my couch first thing when I walked in the door all the time. The biggest problem I was having is that it was fairly dirty. It made me a little unsure of having guests over. After all, who wants to invite their friends to come and sit down on 15 years worth of whatever landed on the couch? I started looking around at other couches. Too expensive. I then moved on to looking at slipcovers. Too big (see comment above regarding the massive size of couches today).

So, what could I do? After four owners and at least twice as many moves, I realized that the thing just needed a little refreshment! I mean, seriously, can you imagine going 15-20 years without a shower?! I didn't think so. It came to me in a conversation with my good friend, Jessica. Her brother- and sister-in-law just purchased a small steam cleaner for just this kind of situation. So Loretta brought it to church for me a few weeks ago and was so kind as to bring a bottle of the appropriate liquid for the cleaner as well. I finally had the time to try it out tonight, and IT WORKED! Our couch is clean!

Now you're wondering about the shave.... Well, my mom taught me how to use a razor to shave off the little tiny balls of fabric that pill up on sweaters, so I decided to attempt this on the couch to spruce it up a bit. I only had one cheap razor in the house, but I decided just to give it a whirl and see if it would make any difference. IT DOES! So I'm going to the store tomorrow to purchase a package of really cheap disposable razors, and my couch is going to have its first complete shave. What a glorious moment it will be to sit on my newly showered and clean-shaven couch!

And you thought the life of a homemaker was boring!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Trials, Abundance and Glory!

I'm still working through a book called A 30-Day Walk With God in the Psalms by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Today's time in the Word was focused on Psalm 66, and there are so many good things to share! The Lord is GOOD! I'm just going to list some of the things that stood out to me in my study today, and you can let me know if they are as encouraging to you as they are to me.

Psalm 66 (ESV)
Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your
enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name." Selah
5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward
the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations-
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected
my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!

Now re-read verses 8-12.

Quote by Charles H. Spurgeon (Treasury of David, 284)
"We, too, often forget that God lays our afflictions upon us; if we remembered this fact, we should more patiently submit to the pressure which now pains us. The time will come when, for every ounce of present burden, we shall receive a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

1 Peter 4:12-13, 19 (ESV)
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

AMEN!!!!!!! I could sit and stare at these scriptures for hours! Whatever your present trial, may you walk through it with Christ!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What Family Is All About...

We've been having some great times lately! Chet starts class tomorrow, so he's been working diligently to prepare and read ahead. He went on our walk/run tonight, and it was so much fun! I hope he gets to do it regularly. Even though we didn't talk a whole lot, it was fun just to do something productive together. Plus, I could see the muscles in his arms and legs, which was enjoyable in itself. Just so you know, I can say that because WE'RE MARRIED!

The boys and I went to the zoo splash park with some friends last week. I can already tell that Gabe and Ladan are going to be a great team. While we were at the zoo, they wrestled a polar bear to the ground and threatened to pull his ears off if he tried to move. Here's a photo to prove it...

Gabe has figured out how to click his tongue and say "Da-da". He also enjoys laughing just for the fun of it, which causes all of the rest of us to laugh right along with him. He loves to put squishy basketballs and footballs in his mouth and crawl around. He enjoys throwing just about everything he picks up just to see what happens to it... with the exception of his food, which he normally eats promptly. When he sees someone he likes or when he wants attention, he sports a huge smile with all-out dimples, scrunches up his nose and breathes in and out really fast... which sounds strange but is super-cute. And he gives some of the best baby hugs ever! He wraps his little arms around our necks and squeezes with his cheek squished right beside ours. AMAZING!

He's a daredevil and doesn't appear to be afraid of anything. Tonight, he crawled into the bottom of his exersaucer and got stuck bent in half. He really enjoys getting up on beds, but he has no reservations about crawling full-speed for the edge (obviously (thankfully), he hasn't found out what happens when you plummet 2.5 feet onto the hardwood floor). And we can't use our kitchen chairs as barricades, because he simply crawls over the spindles at the bottom and gets where he wants to go anyway. He's fast and wants to be everywhere all at the same time... and yet, he learns fairly easily not to touch things like electrical outlets or open cabinet doors.

Ladan is SO MUCH FUN!!!! His imagination is running wild, and he's learning so many new things. He asks all these really great questions. And while some little boys at this age stop wanting to be close to their moms and dads, he seems to enjoy being as close as possible more and more every day. One of his new favorite things to do when we're walking down the sidewalk is to run ahead of me about 10 steps, turn around with a huge smile, shout "HI, MOMMY!" as if he's surprised to see me, and run back to me with his arms wide open so I can pick him up and give him a kiss on the cheek.

The great thing is that, even as he's finding new ways to be closer to us and to demonstrate his affection for us, in the last few weeks he's also wanted to start doing things for himself... like putting the stool in front of the sink and turning on the faucet so he can wash his own hands, getting his own Life cereal out of the cabinet and bringing his bowl to us so we can pour him some more, and opening and closing all the doors when we enter and exit places. If the rest of age 3 goes as well as the first few months, we're going to have A BLAST!

Our boys are so different in so many ways, but they also display many similarities. I'm just grateful that they both get super-excited when they see Chet or me and that they absolutely love one another! Isn't that what family is all about?! I pray that they will grow up to love the Lord so that I can be with them in ETERNITY!


Okay, so I've been doing some re-prioritizing. I feel like I'm continually doing this, but I'm really wanting to make an improvement instead of just shifting things around. (Quick note... it's 12:34). Here are my goals for the fall:
  1. Spend time alone with the Lord EVERY day.
  2. Lose the extra baby weight I still have... or at least the inches so I can fit into my clothes WELL (rather than just simply being able to close them).
  3. Refrain from scheduling myself for too many things in one week.
  4. Figure out a system for cleaning and keeping our home up so that I don't get totally overwhelmed.

Here's my plan....

  1. I'm currently working through a devotional book called "A 30-Day Walk With God in the Psalms" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I have been working through this book for much longer than 30 days, but for the last week, I have been disciplined to take time to spend in the Word every day. By the way, this book is very good. This fall, I'm also taking a Discipleship course through the Seminary Wives Institute on campus, and I will be held accountable for spending time in the Word daily for the course.
  2. To lose my extra baby inches/pounds, I am: a) exercising daily. I've got a pretty good run/walk route straight from our home that gives me exactly three miles, isn't boring, and allows me to just throw the boys in the stroller instead of having to waste time packing them in the car. b) unofficially using the Weight Watchers plan of tracking and planning my meals. I have always wanted to know how to do this, because I think it's one of the healthiest ways to lose weight. My friend and I are exactly the same height and weight and have exactly the same goal weight, so it will be fun to work on it together. By the way, I've finished Day 3, and so far I'm doing really well. I created an excel spreadsheet to track my progress throughout the day... this in itself was very exciting for me.
  3. I have a tendency to try to serve in every way I think I can possibly help others and learn new things. This is GREAT, except sometimes I overestimate the number of hours I have in a day. My goal is to err on the side of helping others while maintaining a good balance of keeping our home in consistent order.
  4. Honestly, I think I'll be able to figure out a system for keeping up with our home if I am relatively good at keeping goal #3 in check. I already have several trips planned for this fall, so my efforts could be totally in vain... but I'm going to give it a good shot. Keeping up with the laundry is a bit easier now that Gabe isn't puking and pooping all over his clothes all the time.

So, there you have it. I could think of about 25 goals for the fall, but then I would be ruining the first four... so I'll work on these for a while and then add others in good time.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ode to the O'Coffeys

I think I'm in mourning. Our dear friends, the O'Coffeys, are heading out for California in a couple of days. Today was their last worship service with us at Clifton... and I cried through at least half of the service. I told Chet about half way through the service that we should have been sitting in a place where I couldn't see them, because every time I saw Selina, I quietly lost it all over again.

Selina was the first person I met here in Louisville that I consider a true friend... you know, the kind that you can be completely honest with and know that she'll do the same. I've met others since then, but there's something about that first person you really connect with in a place that makes them pretty special. We were able to laugh and cry together... sometimes in the same 10 minutes. Chet and Mike get along great, and my kids LOVE the O'Coffey kids. Makes for some fun times, that's for sure!

A couple of weeks ago, when they decided to move back to CA for sure, Mike said, "It's really sad to leave, but the great thing is that I know that we're not saying good-bye forever. We're making friends from all over the place, and one day, we'll all be in the same place again... for eternity." Amen! And what a party it will be!

Now I'm just left wondering if Selina will show up in her perfectly-coordinated-super-cute-and-just-a-tad-bit-flashy outfits with her amazing jet-black hair and BEAUTIFUL smile... and praying that I really do get to see them all before then. California, here we come!!!!!