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!