Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Resisted

I just finished all my chores for the night and took a shower. Afterward, I opened the medicine cabinet, pulled out the moisturizer, pumped a squirt (or "squirp" if I use Ladan's more entertaining vocabulary), applied it to my face, put the bottle back in the cabinet, and closed the door. This is a normal process, right? Well, in the split second during which I was closing the medicine cabinet door, I realized that the moisturizer label was not facing forward or to the right (the two appropriate directions in this particular cabinet). And I turned and walked out of the room anyway, resisting the temptation to open the cabinet up and turn it around again!

For all of you who knew me in college and beyond, you'll also be interested to note that, while I do still hang my clothes in categories, I no longer hang them in color order within their categories. Lest you have thoughts that I'm beginning to slack off in this area, I'll remind you that I have the clothing of three additional people to categorize. Color coding is just not necessary. There are definitely some things that just have to go out the door when you have kids... at least for me anyway. Tonight I'll just be thankful that the moisturizer is not outside the door of my medicine cabinet... even if it is backwards right now. And I think I'll even be able to rest easy knowing that all is NOT in perfect order in my house!

FYI--Those of you who have been in my home know that my house is never actually in PERFECT order, and there are plenty of times when it's completely out of order... except the cabinets, drawers, closets, etc. which are usually actually pretty well put together. You know, all the places that no one else sees. Make fun of me if you want to, but let me tell you that it sure makes life easier when I'm looking for something. Better yet, if I have to ask Chet to get something from my closet or drawers, I can tell him exactly where to look.

If these reasons don't convince you of the value of orderly storage spaces, let me share a quick anecdote. I had a neighbor take care of my fish when I went away for a week in college. When I returned, I knew that she had borrowed or at least snooped through some of the more private clothing items in my drawers. How did I know? Because the stacks were all mixed up when I got back. Needless to say, she didn't have access to my apartment after that. To this day, my unmentionables are all folded neatly and categorized in my drawer.

While my clothing has consistently been in good order, I have been more or less consistent at keeping up with daily tasks around the house. Overall consistency was one of the goals I set out for this year, so I sat down and came up with a new system a couple of weeks ago. After eight years of marriage and four years of parenthood, I think I have a pretty good thing going. I am enjoying my new chore list and have been keeping up with things outside the closets, drawers, and cabinets much better. In the near future, I'll attempt to post an entry showing you the details of my new plan for staying on track.

In the meantime, I suggest you go organize your underwear drawer. You've got to start somewhere, and apparently, it's the first thing an intruder goes for!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Wild Day

Shortly after we woke up today the boys were playing in the living room while I did the dishes. Suddenly I heard a loud smack followed by the resulting bloody murder scream from Gabe. I ran in, and he had done a face plant right into the hardwood floor. I picked him up, and his mouth was bleeding. I couldn't get him calmed down for quite a few minutes, so it was difficult to see what exactly was bleeding. After about 15 minutes, I saw that it was coming from his upper gums. It bled for about 45 minutes, but finally I was able to determine that most likely his front teeth got jammed up into his gums a bit. He bled one other time later in the evening, but it stopped much more quickly that time.

So, how did he do it? I can't be sure, but I think I have a pretty good guess. The only other thing on the floor with him was a throw pillow from the couch. Gabe is a really good jumper for his age and enjoys jumping over and off of just about anything. I'm guessing that he put the pillow down on the ground and was trying to jump off it when it unsuspectingly slid right out from under him causing the face plant. I was hoping it would teach him a lesson without causing great fear. It didn't. Later in the evening, he was found jumping off a package of diapers and attempting to jump across the couch (at which point he also fell... but I was close enough to catch him and promptly scold him hopefully scaring the daylights out of him so he doesn't do that again).

We went on with the rest of our day. I made a really yummy chicken pot pie for dinner with a smiley face cut out of the crust on top. It was my first ever chicken pot pie, and it turned out really well. Chet deemed it a repeat-worthy recipe. Ladan kept saying, "Yummy," with every bite, but over the course of about 2.5 hours, he only took about 15 bites. That kid took FOREVER to eat his dinner!!!! He wasn't rebelliously refusing to eat... he was just kind of in a daze and only ended up taking a bite every 10 minutes or so. He basically woke up from his nap, went to the table for dinner, went to the bathroom, and went back to bed again. Crazy!

While Ladan was eating, Gabe painted two pictures, took a bath, played for a while, and had a haircut. I had to trim off a portion of his curls. In recent weeks, he's been mistaken for a girl twice, and we can't have that. We love his curls and were both kind of sad to see the majority of them go... but cute curls are not worth mistaken gender identification. I did leave a little bit of a flip in the back, so we'll see if they grow back. Don't worry. He's still cute!

While I was cutting Gabe's hair, I got a call from my brother. He and Amber are in St. Louis with the boys right now. I've been having the hardest time thinking about the fact that they're so close and not being able to afford the trip to go see them. I kept re-examining our expected income and expenses through January (when Chet graduates), and there was just no way that it could possibly be responsible to take another trip. Well, he called to say that I should pack our bags because they're going to pay our gas to get there!!!!!! They've already been more than generous toward us, so this is over the top... but we're taking them up on the offer! I get to leave in the morning with the boys to go see them and the rest of my family too! Amazing! Talk about answered prayer!

Gabe is SO EXCITED to see Baby Justus. He kept calling Justus his baby. We'd ask him if he was excited to see Baby Justus, and he'd exclaim, "Yes!" And Ladan was pretty much beside himself when he found out that he'd get to see Titus and Justus. He snapped out of his dinner-time stupor and bounced to his bed so he could take a nap before driving to Grandma's house. Despite the fact that Chet is bummed that he can't see everyone, our departure is probably perfect timing for him. He's preaching at Clifton on Sunday night, so this will give him even more time to prepare and to work ahead on his classwork for the semester.

In my meal planning for this week, I decided to make two larger recipes on Monday and Tuesday (enchiladas yesterday and the pot pie today) so that we could eat leftovers on Wednesday and Thursday, which tend to be busier days for us. I had no idea that the Lord designed it that way because we'd be leaving and so Chet would have prepared food already in the fridge. Pretty great! He'll be eating a lot of enchiladas and pot pie all by himself though. I venture to say he'll throw in a PB&J here and there to round it out!


I'll end with a few random notes....

Gabe has learned his first letter! He can now accurately identify the letter "O". He was running errands with me last night, and he started pointing out all the "o"s he saw in street signs and license plates. I haven't worked on letters nearly as much with him as I had by the time Ladan was this age, but Ladan was naturally drawn to letters at an earlier age (and knew all of them along with their sounds by 22 months). It's clear that Gabe is now ready for more!

Ladan is starting to understand some basic reading concepts and is recognizing some basic words. It's one of my goals to do preschool-like lessons with him at least three days a week this semester. Then I may start the 100-day curriculum to teach him to read in the spring. We'll have to see if he's ready by then. In the meantime, we're just enjoying this stage. Ladan is so demonstrative when he reads! He uses great voice inflections and even throws his hands in the air when he gets really excited. If only we all read with such expression!

In the sports world, Ladan is quite good at hitting the baseball when we pitch it to him. He has really great form and even holds his back elbow up at a pretty perfect angle. He doesn't yet step into the pitch with much authority, but we haven't even talked about that yet. He's only four. Anyway, he received some extra birthday money the other day as a delayed suprise. Since all his other birthday money had gone into his account, I used this money to buy him some batting gloves, a real baseball bat, and some bases. I found a reasonably priced bat that only weighs 13 ounces. Chet took him out to play with the neighbor girls, and he did great! He's really funny though because he dives (with perfect form but in slow motion so as not to get injured) into just about every base, including first. He is convinced that the function of batting gloves is to keep his hands from getting dirty when sliding!

On the basketball court, he's getting lots better at dribbling, and he's a very consistent shooter as well. And he gets better and better with his tennis racquet every time we play.

Gabe, of course, has to do everything his big brother does, so he's been practicing his basketball, soccer, football, and baseball skills. He tries to play tennis, but his tiny little racquet is still a little bit bigger than he knows what to do with, so it will be a little while before he can effectively play. He can drop-kick a soccer ball, throw pretty much any ball with accuracy, and dribble once and then shoot a basketball with accuracy in one smooth motion. He's been able to throw an excellent spiral for months. And he's starting to be able to hit a ball when we pitch it to him, though he's not super-consistent yet. After all, the bat is at least as tall as he is, so he's lucky to swing it much less hit anything. He sleeps with his football.

I guess the fact that our living room is pretty much an open gym (with a few restrictions) is paying off for them! They practice their skills 3-4 hours a day on their own without anyone pushing them. Ladan is such a persistent kid and doesn't give up until he's perfected something, so Gabe has a really good example to follow in this way. It's fun because they can play catch successfully together now. We have loads of fun playing along with them too! They definitely keep us on our toes!

I'm not going to re-read this note for errors, because I'm going to go PACK OUR BAGS! YIPPEE!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Side Note

Does anyone else think that the side flip in the balance beam routines of female gymnasts is a little bit strange looking? For some reason, it appears to have no grace to me. It resembles something like a frog when it's thrown in the air and is looking to land on its feet. I'm sure it's very difficult, and I couldn't do it (shocking enough, I'm sure), but if it's not a required element, then I think my recommendation is that it be left out. Do you think the world's elite will listen to my recommendations though? Me neither.

But Corey Murray might! She's not an Olympic gymnast yet, but she may be on her way. Corey, if you're reading this, please avoid the side flip on the beam as long as you can. Better yet, maybe you can come up with a way to make it look good and do it that way if you compete in the Olympics!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Accidental Geography Lessons

Ladan and Gabe have had runny noses for about a week. Not that big a deal, but for some reason, Ladan has also had a couple accidents in his bed. I'm guessing it's related to the runny nose in some way (since he hasn't had an accident in almost a year until this point), but I have no way to prove how that could be the case. Anyway, when I went in to get Ladan after his nap yesterday, he was sitting up in his bed rubbing his blanket on his sheets. Here's what he said in his very matter-of-fact tone, "Oh, hi Mom. I peed in my bed. But don't worry. I'm wiping it up with my blanket."

I climbed up to the top bunk to see the damage. He showed me the spot and said, "Look, Mom! It's Australia! I PEED AUSTRALIA! Ah, ha, ha, ha ha!!!"

It did indeed look pretty much exactly like the shape of Australia. You gotta' love that kid! Speaking of his geographic identification skills, he really enjoys identifying countries on a map/globe. I'm hoping he sticks to printed maps and globes instead of creating his own images of countries in the future! So far he knows the following:
  • United States (and the states of Texas, Missouri, and Kentucky)
  • Australia
  • China
  • India
  • Russia
  • Vietnam
  • Nigeria
  • Sudan
  • Cameroon
  • Brazil
  • Taiwan
We've had some other exciting things going on this week. Chet's sister, Megan, and her husband, Mike, had their first baby on the 13th. His name is Keene Owen, and he has amazingly squishy cheeks... at least so far as we can tell from what we saw in a few photos and in a video conversation on Skype. We can hardly believe that we have two nephews that we haven't been able to meet yet. It's awful! We're thankful for Skype and electronic photos, but it's definitely not the same as holding them. We can hardly wait to get our hands on these little boys!!!!!

Gabe was so cute when he was looking at Keene on the computer screen during our Skype conversation. He kept kissing the screen and saying, "Hi, baby!" He can be pretty rough with Ladan, but he's so gentle with babies. I'm so excited to see him with Justus and Keene!

Gabe's still a tiny little guy, and he's starting to get pickier about what he eats. He's always been a good eater, but things seem to be changing a bit. He basically only wants pizza, macaroni, pancakes, oatmeal, blueberries, plums, grapes, peaches, and sometimes carrots or zucchini. The hard part is that he's not bothered enough by hunger even if we withhold his favorites. He'll only eat about one or two bites of other things. He would rather just go to bed than eat things he doesn't prefer. And do you notice that there is hardly any protein included in any of those foods except for the pizza? Thankfully, he does drink plenty of milk, but it still doesn't provide enough. He's already such a little man, so we have to be careful that he gets enough food, especially fats and protein. I'm not sure at this point if we should be more forceful about it or just feed him more of what we know he'll eat. Maybe he'll get better again after his nose clears up completely.

Chet starts classes again tomorrow. It's really hard to believe that this is his last full semester of seminary. He'll have two classes left to take in January, and then he'll be done. Amazing! We set out thinking that it would take him at least four years, and he's finishing in three and a half. Not bad for a guy who's married with two kids, church ministry, and a job to keep up with. He's definitely a smarty pants! Just tonight Ladan prayed and thanked God that his daddy gets to learn from lots of teachers. We are certainly praising God for the opportunity we have to be here!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ladan's Prayers

This is a sample of the things Ladan has prayed over the course of the last couple nights...

Thank you that Connor is my friend.
Thank you that Connor likes me.
Thank you that I got to play in the basement.
Thank you that I got to jump on the trampoline.
Thank you that I got to sleep in David's bed.
Thank you that David was my age. (As in, David used to be Ladan's age at some point in his life)
Thank you that when I get older and get married I get to be in charge.
Thank you that our next house will have a basement. (See my last post for more on this.)
Thank you for the big Chelsea.
Thank you, God, that you do what you say.
Thank you that Mommy and Gabe and I got to play in the rain today.

I love to hear his heart when he's praying! With regard to his prayer thanking God that he will one day get to be in charge, I don't think he fully gets that he will be the leader of his home. However, he for sure knows he won't be in charge as long as he lives in our home. I'm fairly certain he thinks that he's going to live at home until he's married. He's only four, so we don't need to correct that just yet. I guess anything's possible, but some things aren't very likely.

Did you notice that he's starting to use proper grammar? He regularly says things like, "Gabe and I played with ____," or some other such sentence in which he can demonstrate that he knows how to use "I" and "me" properly. I don't know if someone else taught him these things, but we didn't take time out to do a lesson on it or anything. I guess he's just picking it up.

One more funny thing about Ladan.... He has started to notice traffic signs and be intrigued by learning traffic laws. Last night, when we picked the boys up from the Murrays' house, we were driving on a windy road with a few little hills. Ladan was looking just ahead all the time and telling Chet to go up this hill, down that hill, stop right here, etc. At one point, he even said something like, "Whoa! That was pretty fast!" (Chet wasn't speeding, but it was one of those little hills that causes your stomach to jump just a little bit.) Suddenly, I was so proud! I reached back, patted Ladan on the leg, and said, "I'm so excited to see that we're raising the next generation of backseat drivers!" Chet made some comment under his breath threatening to shut down our operation, but he couldn't help smiling because it was really funny!

Good Friends, Good Times!

Chet and I went to Atlanta over the weekend for our friend Kyle's wedding. Chet mentored Kyle when Kyle was in college, and Gabe's middle name is Kyle after this same fellow. We absolutely LOVE Kyle... seriously... intensely... like he's our brother. He's one of those people who is so close to our hearts that we agreed a long time ago we'd travel just about any distance to see him get married. WE LOVE KYLE! So we drove to Atlanta for his wedding. Kyle actually lives in Houston, so the drive to Atlanta was practically a hop, skip, and jump down the highway!

It would not have worked well for the boys to go along, so the Bloom and Murray families were so gracious to split the weekend and care for them while we were gone. What a treat! Ladan got to play in three different basements! He loves basements (and even prayed last night thanking God that his next house will have a basement... we'll see if he's right when we even think about moving). Oh, they had so much fun, and we didn't have to worry for a second about whether or not they would be okay. We are so blessed to have so many families in our church that literally feel like our own family!

Anyway, we showed up for the rehearsal a little bit late because we hit rush hour traffic coming into town. We arrived and changed at the church. I'm so thankful that I did my make-up and curled my hair in the car on the way! Yes, indeed, I did say I curled my hair in the car while we were driving. I didn't burn myself or anything else even a single time. It was great! When we were all ready, we walked into the sanctuary and saw Kyle and Amanda. I seriously had to restrain myself from running to the front of the church and giving Kyle a massive hug... but I held back.

I'll spare you all the details, but throughout the course of the rehearsal dinner, I think we all cried at least once (Chet, Kyle, and I) because we were so happy to see one another. Later that night, I was fairly emotional (Chet won't argue that one bit). Once I got through talking to Chet about all kinds of things, I just couldn't help but bawl my eyes out like a baby because I was so THANKFUL to the Lord for providing the perfect woman for Kyle. Amanda is seriously amazing! They just go together.

I think I got all my tears out on Friday night, but then Chet had to let the waterworks loose on Saturday off and on. He probably cried at least 5 or 6 times that I saw. He was so proud of Kyle and just so overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord saw fit to put Kyle and Amanda together! Do you know how sometimes you can physically feel your heart almost like it's going to explode right out of your chest? That's how we both felt. What mercy and grace we saw this weekend! And what a joy it was to actually see our dear, dear friend in real life again. It's one thing to hear his deep broadcast-ready voice on the phone, but it's another thing to see his amazing smile and bright eyes in person. And, as if that wasn't enough, he would be a really strong contender for the "Best Hug Giver In the World" contest... if there was such a thing.

Kyle has always amazed us with his keen ability to sense how the Lord is directing him, test it against the Word, repent of sin if necessary, and move forward in faith. He was sitting in our room just a couple of hours before his wedding, and I asked him how he was doing, how the week was, etc. He told us about one of the really important lessons he had learned just that week....

Basically, he felt kind of crumby all week (physically). That on top of all the busyness of preparations and a lack of sleep resulted in him kind of checking out and basically not being mentally present on Thursday. Amanda responded so well to this, but she definitely noticed and asked him about it. After they talked about it for a while, he said he realized that when he checked out, she became paralyzed in a sense. She just didn't know what to do or how to act around him. She didn't want to start telling him what to do and getting frustrated for sure. Even though she did really well, he realized that he has no right to quit leading or being involved just because he's experiencing stress. He was so thankful to the Lord for showing this to him before he got married, even if it was just two days before.

All weekend, we heard over and over from all kinds of people about what a prayer warrior Amanda is. We heard Kyle talk about how she's supported him and prayed that the Lord would direct him in every way with regard to their relationship. We heard her family talk about how they have all been praying since Amanda was tiny that God would send her a godly husband... and about how Kyle is indeed the answer to all their prayers. I don't know about you, but that's really great motivation to be even more diligent in the same way, praying for my boys and their future wives.

Chet read scripture during the wedding and did a really awesome job! He had no microphone, but he projected his voice and read in such a way that even the people in the back of the sanctuary said that they appreciated the power with which he delivered the Word. All kinds of people kept commenting on how he did so well at making the Word come to life. They were right!

We took an extra night to stay and hang out while we could. It was our first getaway in three years (and the last one was only one night). We went to a Braves game, which was fun. We realized that we end up going to a baseball game pretty much every time we go on vacation. I guess that's a fun tradition, and I don't mind keeping it up.

We also spent some time talking about our personal and family goals for the next year. That conversation had its ups and downs for sure, but in the end, I think we're on the same page. If we decided to summarize with a theme (something that my friend, Jessica, is really good at), I think we'd arrive at "teamwork". Because of Chet's school and work schedule, it's really easy for us to get into a groove but end up doing "my thing" or "your thing". The idea is that we will work hard to do the things that we need to do and then make sure that we're asking how everyone else is doing in the quest to accomplish his/her goals. This will allow us to be even better encouragers of one another and to help one another even more. It's an elementary concept, and I'm just going to assume that we're not the only family on the planet that has to be intentional in this way if it's going to actually happen. I think I'll designate a separate post to a list of our goals.

I was kind of on fire all weekend coming up with all sorts of witty things to say (at least I thought they were). One time, I was holding a bag of coffee beans. I smacked Chet on the back with it and told him that I "beaned" him! And as we were driving to Kyle's wedding, there was a neighborhood on the left side of the road with a sign that said, "The opportunity of a lifetime" or something like that. I told Chet that we should tell Kyle we passed by the opportunity of a lifetime to come to his wedding! I forgot about it, and it's probably just as well. Enough of my shenanigans!

I also went to the doctor today and had my follow-up appointment after the lab work I had done about 6 weeks ago. It was very helpful, but I'll write more on that later.

Finally, if you remember, please pray for my brother. He just got back from Sudan again on Saturday, and he's pretty sick. It seems to get worse every time, and they're not exactly sure what the problem is... except that his leg pain is related to his sensory neuropathy and that he is very nauseous for a very long time after he gets home almost every time. Thanks!