Sunday, November 13, 2016

Happy 3rd Birthday James!

(James turned three last week and I've been working on this letter since then...)

Dear James,

Happy birthday to our wonderful, whipped-cream-and-bacon-and-ice-cream-loving, thoughtful and imaginative boy! You’ve grown in so many’re adventurous though cautious, getting more and more friendly with people (I love the way you wave and say hi), and you are so observant.  You learn quickly and remember things that surprise me.

You’re a sweet little man.  You love snuggles when you’re sleepy, and lately you have started to give me sudden hugs and saying “You’re special, Mummy!”  Your laugh is the best thing ever, and you’re so ticklish…”This Little Piggy” has you crumpling and laughing hysterically every time.  You love your Emmy Bear, even if her liking for your toys frustrates you at times.  The two of you are learning slowly to play together and you strategically try to distract her with toys if she’s getting too close to what you’re doing.  Sometimes you hear her cry before I do.  You give her hugs and want to take her down the slide, and you sing her “I’ll Love You Forever”:  ” Emmy shall be!”

You’ve grown to be such a helper.  You love to collect and take out the trash with Daddy.  If I’m working in the kitchen you say “Help me?  Help me?” and move a chair over to the counter.  You love to dump and mix or just stand and watch.  Sometimes I’ll be mixing ingredients in a separate bowl and I’ll turn around to find that you dumped them all into the main bowl!  You don’t do dishes very often because of the water mess factor, but you sure love it...especially the “fire hose” that pulls out of the faucet.

I love your way with language.   A few months ago you started saying “Ooomah”, and we were rather confused...turns out that it’s your version of a kiss: “ooo-ma!”  The other day, as you used the back of a fabric pencil to brush off the toilet lid, you said you were “sweeping up da sugar-bugs”.  You’re polite, often saying “pea-pease” and “sank you” and “‘scuse me!” without prompting.  When you don't like food: “I like it no!”  If the bath water is too hot you want it a “little looser” and you say “turn off the gate” if you want it down.  Recently you knocked some salad out of the fridge: “Sorry dat, salad!”

You get so excited about trains!  When we’re at Grandma and Grandpa’s and we hear a train, there’s a general rush to get outside to see it.  The Califonia Zephyr (the Amtrack train) is a favorite.  Grandpa often says “Praise the Lord!” when you see it, so now you can’t have “Praise the Lord” without the California Zephyr.   “Praise the Lord, the California Zephyr!  The people train!”  Some days you say that you can hear a train from our house...which is more of a tribute to your imaginative abilities then to your hearing abilities.  (You have an awesome imagination.)

You love to talk on the phone, be it real or imaginary.  You’ll have full conversations on the blue Duplo phone (just a long piece of Duplo, actually), or you’ll talk to Daddy or Grandma on my phone--occasionally saying things that I say, like “Can you hear me?  Are you dere?”  You have so many aunts and uncles and cousins and you love to spend time with them.  I’ll tell you where we are going and you’ll tell me what toys they have--orange garbage truck at Auntie Christy’s, little garage at Grandma L’s, green garbage truck at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  

You’re our little music boy.  You ask me to sit and play piano with you and you love it when you get to try out my violin.  You sometimes play the “big-tar” (real guitar if we’re at Grandma and Grandpa’s; a book, tennis racket or some other item if we’re home) or take a hymnal, stand by the big chair, and sing music of your own making.  You’ve also learned a lot of songs; “I’m In The Lord’s Army”, “I’ve Got The Joy”, “Spring Up A Well”.   One of your favorite things is what you call “doing a big Jamesie”: standing on the bathroom counter facing the small cabinet mirror door with the big mirror to your left.  You sing “Spring Up A Well” and move the cabinet door around, watching all of your reflections.  You also really love singing “Happy Birthday” (often to Mexico, for reasons unknown to us) and blowing out whatever candles are handy.  When we visited Grandma Noni this fall you were walking through the kitchen one afternoon when you noticed a candle burning on the table; you climbed a chair, sang Happy Birthday to it, blew it out, and continued with your business.  

You've had very definite preferences about bedtime routine that are only now starting to loosen up.  We sang “Away in a Manger” pretty consistently for nearly a year after Christmas….often you’d ask for all three verses.  “This is the Day” and “Jesus Loves Me” are also bedtime favorites.  You used to be so particular about what toys you had in bed with you: five trucks (same five every time), monkey, blankie, water, a few books.  You’re becoming a little more relaxed--monkey slept in the dump truck for a while there--but you still keep quite a collection in bed.  

Garbage trucks, trains, fire engines, car carriers...anything big and automotive makes you happy.  Watching the garbage truck is a highlight for you.  You also love watching the lawn crew and you now have a thing for lawn care equipment.  You’ll take the broom outside, turn it upside down, and weed-whack the grass complete with sound effects.  Daddy rigged a leaf-blower for you out of a backpack and the vacuum hose and you love it.  Oh, and the love the vacuum.  Unless I’m running it, in which case you take yourself off to sit on my bed till I’m done.  Recently our whole complex was re-roofed and you've taken to roofing the ottoman, using a guard rail from your toddler bed as a ladder.

I love your abandon, seeing you run and play and fully lose yourself in what you’re doing.  I love your gentle and caring heart.  You’re such an imaginative boy and it makes me happy to see you playing in your own little world, with your “little green boys” and your trucks, or sitting and reading stories aloud to yourself.  I love how you’re observant and cautious, the way you notice and remember everything.  Daddy and I pray that as you grow, you will learn to know Jesus and to love and trust Him freely.  We're so glad that we got you and that we get to be the ones to watch you grow.  

Love you forever, precious boy.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Everyday Life 8.28.16: happy things

I'm short on time this week, but I am going to take a few minutes and write out some things that are making me happy these days:

Emily's curls, especially after baths.  Beyond adorable.

James and church... he talks about it ("Lillo Bibow Chapow") and he's starting to re-enact services.  I'll hear him in his room: "Good morning, chapel!"  Then he'll jabber a bunch of stuff I can't decipher and pray (usually over the food), and talk some more, and sing some songs.  He gets a red hard-cover book and uses it as a guitar; strumming, singing loudly (not songs that we recognize), and swaying back and forth.  

Cooler weather!  It was in the 60's and rainy on Joe's birthday (Thursday).  It's so refreshing.  The colors are starting to turn already, too.  Even though the days are still warm sometimes you can feeling the difference at night.  

James and his fascination with leaf-blowers, weed-whackers, and mowers.  He'll get a tall piece of grass and leaf-blow with it, or take the broom off the patio and weed-whack the grass behind our condo...complete with sound effects.  

Emily talks!  And she's only 13 months.  I've been trying to work with James on using a happy voice and I've said it so much that sometimes Emily says "'appy voice!  'appy voice!".  She calls James something like Dede or Gigi and she's quite clear on words like Daddy, wow, and no. 

Time in the mountains last week.  We were able to go and spend a day at some friends' property; it was quiet, amazingly beautiful, and so refreshing.  I have many good memories up there from years ago and I didn't think that I would get to go back after they moved, so it was an unexpected and lovely gift.  


Taking the kids to the library.  They love it.  Our library has a lot of fun toys; I can pick up and drop off my books and let them have some fun play time.  Once day we'll do some more reading too.

James and Emily just started playing together in the last week or two.  They'll "chase" each other around the house and laugh together.  I love it and it keeps them occupied so I can do other things (like make dinner).  Below, James gives Emily tastes of his ice cream.


James' mealtime hugs...very sweet if a bit awkward and potentially messy.  He will ask for a hug midway through a meal and lately he sometimes says "Ah wuv 'oo!" as well.  (Emily tries to get in on it by tipping her head as though giving a hug, even though nobody's there...)

Date with Joe in honor of his birthday.  Actually having time to hang out together, just the two of us. His kindness and acceptance are such gifts.    

Preparing for our annual fall trip.  This is partly happy and partly stressful, but getting to travel is a wonderful thing for us.  Can't wait to be by the water. 

And...piano time has become violin time for the next few months.  I will be rejoining CYS for the fall concert set; Mendelssohn 5, Schubert Unfinished, and the Mozart Magic Flute Overture provided some strong motivation.  Playing beautiful music makes me feel's like water for the soul.  I can't wait to be back at it, even though this music is h.a.r.d. and there is a lot of it.  I need to learn some more about focused practice techniques and how to make a little practice time go a long way.  

That's all for this week!  Between travel prep and re-routing my extra time to violin practice, posts may be a bit more rare but I'll try to keep sharing bits of life as I can.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Everyday Life 8.12.14: photos and random thoughts

I don't have a lot of words today (not ones of general interest, anyway...I shall spare you my rant on the lack of good photo software in Windows 10 and my thoughts and concerns on how to prepare for and enjoy a road trip with toddlers) so I'm going to do a random photo post and just write whatever comes to me.  Here goes...


I think the weather is finally starting to cool down.  Last week we had a couple of days cool enough for jeans and a light sweater!  This was taken on a walk at a nearby lake.  Getting outside is soooo important for me.


I'm realizing that there are so many things that I can be teaching him, and he learns so fast; it's actually kind of overwhelming.  We stopped the other day to watch the bees and I told him a little bit about them.  Now it's part of visiting this particular park: stop and watch the bees get their nummies.


Emily adores the fridge.  She's often fussy in the evenings before dinner and wants to be with me right when I'm having to make dinner.  Measuring cups and plastic containers and lids keep her busy for a while, but the fridge is the big attraction.  She's also getting better and better at pulling herself up.


The sprinklers came on while we were walking the other day!  I showed James what to do with them.  So fun.


Little Miss Personality.  She's hilarious.  This morning she was practically falling asleep right before I put her down for a nap but she was still smiling and laughing.  Some evenings we've tried keeping her up to do Bible/singing time with James.  Sometimes it works but sometimes she's just too tired and fussy.  She is so cute in hats.  She does better with cool hats than her older brother did at this age...he wouldn't usually keep them on any longer than it took him to reach up and pull them off.


I love watching them.  They're just starting to get better at playing together and entertaining each other.  James has some rather funny strategies for keeping Emily out of his toys.  If she's getting too close to his stuff he'll say "Emmy need hugs?  Emmy need hugs?"  (The logic seems to be that if I give her hugs she won't be there to mess with his toys).  Earlier today I didn't come and pick her up when she "needed hugs" so he said "Emmy need books!" and got her some to play with.  So precious.  (If we're being honest, there was also the time when James got his head stuck under an upside-down box because Emily climbed up and sat on it.  The box had cutouts in the sides so it was kind of like a tunnel but still...  Poor James.  It was hilarious.)


He built this garage by himself!  My big boy.

Joe is such a great daddy.  It's good for me to see how he loves our kids and wants to give them good gifts.  He's been talking for weeks about getting heavy-duty metal sand toys for James and yesterday he finally tracked some down.  He and James took off after dinner to pick them up.  James is quite happy with his new toys.  So is Joe.  :D

In other news: Joe and I just finished watching Wives and Daughters.  That made for a few enjoyable evenings.  It's a good movie...relaxing enough to not be stressful when you're tired but meaningful enough to be well worth watching.  Besides, the costuming, locations and scenery are just gorgeous.  I love well-made period pieces.   Also, for the record, I am currently reading Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh, Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and The Lost Heiress by Roseanna White (re-read).  

All for now!  I just heard Emily and soon it'll be time to get James up.  I'm going to grab some coffee and a bit of ice cream--black walnut divinity is the latest flavor I tried.  I love it, but if you don't like walnuts you certainly wouldn't.  :)


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Everyday Life 8.6.16: the kids these days

Sunday afternoon.  It's been a good week but one with lots of people time, which has led to my feeling more than usually introverted.  I'm happy to be here with a cup of tea and some chocolate walnut biscotti for a bit of writing time.

~ ~ ~

There are so many little things that I don't want to forget about life right now:

 Emily's randomly curly hair that's just getting long enough to reach the bottom of her neck when it's wet.

James' growing love of stories.  The way he loves to read Joe's Bible.  He's quite fond of James Herriot's Treasury for Children (a beautifully illustrated book of animal stories) but he's mostly interested in looking for the cars...hmm.

The way Emily is so incredibly flexible and likes to stick her foot in my face while she's nursing.

James' love for visiting Grandma's house.  I told him we were going to go later in the day and next thing I knew he was pulling out the diaper bag to get ready to go.

Emily's love of animals, particularly dogs.  She barks ("arf! arf!") when she sees one and sometimes she barks just looking outside.  This afternoon we were outside for a minute and the dog upstairs started barking and Emily barked right back...hilarious.  I think we need to work on other animal sounds, though, because last night she barked when she saw a goose.

James' fascination with climbing ladders, thanks to his favorite book (the Little Golden Fire Engine Book).  He climbs a rock wall ladder at the park (by himself!) and likes to climb up the side of his chair, up the side of the rocking chair, up to the changing table via the potty chair and diaper genie...fortunately this passion hasn't translated yet to figuring out how to climb out of his crib.

~ ~ ~

Emily is almost as adept at James now at making what I call the screaming vacuum noise.  I've taken to asking them to please be quiet vacuums...

James is learning to count!  I've heard him get all the way up to 12, possibly 13.

Emily is crawling!  Still not her preferred method of transportation, but she uses it in tall grass and is getting better at it.  She's also pulling herself up and Joe tells me that she climbed up on James' toddler bed today.  Oh dear.

James is finally pacifier-free. (!!!)  Last week we decided that most of his few remaining pacifiers were too damaged to use safely (he was biting through them) and ended up just taking them away.  He did much better than we'd expected but it did complicate bedtimes for a few days...poor little guy.  Lots of snuggles helped.  Now naptime is a little more touchy but bedtimes are better and we're so relieved to not have to grovel on the floor searching for the missing paci in the middle of the night!

~ ~ ~

My "piano time", as James and I call it, is one of my favorite parts of my days.  It's part of our morning routine.  After brekkies, walk, "gate time for Jamesie and nap time for Emmy-Bear", and my shower, I pour a cup of cold brew with milk, let James out of his room, and sit down at the piano for 15-30 minutes.  Scales and arpeggios for warm-ups (I cycle through keys, playing all major and minor scales, major, minor, dominant and diminished arpeggios, and scales in thirds in one key per day) and then I work a bit on my pieces.  It's good to pull out the metronome, work hard on something specific, and feel myself making progress.  James likes it too and recognizes the music I'm working on if I play a recording of it.

~ ~ ~

Tonight we're off to Joe's mum's place for a snacky dinner and some worship time around the piano.  It's been years since we've done that, but it was kind of our signature thing as families: when we got together we would often end the evening around the piano singing our favorite worship songs.  We've missed it.

All for now!  Joe's getting the kids ready so I'd best be off.


some mountain beauty from a few weeks ago

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Everyday Life 7.29.16: sailing etc.

Friday, 7.29.16

I'm by myself this evening--for another little while at least.  Joe's not home yet from the gathering of the brothers and brothers-in-law for Man Time and I'm enjoying some quiet now that the kids are in bed and the house is tidy.  Emily settles down wonderfully well at night.  James not so much; he just doesn't fall asleep for a while.  I've already changed two stinky diapers this evening (same child, abovementioned).  I have been working on getting to know Windows 10, particularly the photo app.  Any new technology is frustrating to me; I knew the old Picasa interface quite well and it's taking me some time to figure out how to get this newfangled thing to do my bidding.  Anyway...

Yesterday we finally got Joe's little sailboat, Alberta, out to the lake!  It's been quite a process getting ready; she hasn't been out for two years.  It was a lovely and refreshing evening.  We spent a lot of time at this lake the few summers before we started dating so we have lots of memories there, many of them centered around the boat.  (I didn't know at the time that Joe was very intentionally on the boat every time I was.  And neither of us will soon forget a certain moon-lit night sail.)



James and Emily loved the sand!  Kept them happy and busy for a long time.  We're going to have a wonderful time on the beaches of Michigan this fall.  We've started planning our annual getaway and the countdown has begun!  Can't wait.  



Saturday, 7.30.16

(Didn't manage to finish this yesterday but didn't want to completely re-write what I wrote.  Hence the journal format.)  Life these days: Busy.  Crazy.  Joe's still working a lot.  It's a blessing but it's also been taxing for him (and for me, because he's gone more than usual).  Grateful, though, that the busy part of his job is seasonal and that we have a vacation coming up!  We've been working on ways to make the most of our family time.  Some days I feed the kids dinner before Joe gets home and we go to the park in the evening.  It's fun and refreshing for all of us.  James loves being chased or carried by Joe and Emily has decided that laying in the grass, though a ticklish endeavor, is quite fun.  It's hilarious to watch her intentionally tip herself over backwards and then giggle and cringe from the grass on her neck.  



Funny anecdote of the week: yesterday I after dinner I put Emily in her walker and gave James, still in his high chair, some ice cream.  A minute or two later I heard a wail from James and looked up from the dishes: Emily had swiped his dish of ice cream from his tray and was cruising off with it.  I restored the dessert to its rightful owner but a minute later Emily grabbed it again, this time making off (fast) in another direction.  That was the end of walker time for Emily...and James finished his ice cream in peace.  :)  

Anyway...we're off to some friends for dinner and I had best get us ready, since getting out the door always takes quite a while these days.  All for now!



We like the grass too.  :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Amazing Super-Dark Chocolate Sauce

Lately I have been on an ice-cream making kick.  (My culinary inspirations go in phases.  It was biscotti a few months ago; now it’s ice cream.  I just ride them while they last.)  My favorite recipes have been those of Jeni Britton Baur (of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home); they’re a little more involved and labor-intensive, but they make some of the most amazing ice creams I’ve ever had (including Coldstone’s).  The basic ice cream base is amazing with berries and chocolate; it’s like Coldston’es Sweet Cream.  Lemon is one of our favorites and it’s even better made with limes.  And I love anything salted caramel; I’ve been putting this in my cold brew coffee lately.

Interestingly, though I love dark chocolate, I wasn’t super crazy about dark chocolate ice cream; I prefer other ice creams (especially sweet cream, lemon or lime) served with a really, really dark chocolate sauce.  We love this recipe; it’s fast, super-dark and rich and goes really well with most ice creams.   Leftovers harden beautifully in the fridge to a fudgy consistency and I eat it by the spoonful with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt.  It rarely lasts more than a day...I just whip up another batch next time we eat ice cream.  

The quality of cocoa used here makes a big difference.  I’ve been completely converted to Canadian cocoa (the no-name brand in the big yellow canister).  It’s much darker and richer than Hershey’s or other inexpensive American brands and it’s super affordable.  If you’re traveling to Canada, have friends traveling to Canada, or have Canadian family who don’t mind running international errands for you (thanks, family!), pick some up and give it a try.  With this recipe, I’m plowing through the cocoa.  Good thing Joe’s family travels hither and yon on a regular basis.  :)  

~ ~ ~

Super-Dark Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from the chocolate syrup portion of Jeni’s dark chocolate ice cream recipe)

½  c. sugar
½ c. cocoa powder
½ c. coffee plus a little extra;  I use decaf just in case.
1.5 oz dark chocolate--I usually use good quality chocolate chips or chunks of dark Belgian chocolate from Trader Joe’s.
½ t. Vanilla
Sprinkle of salt

Mix the sugar, cocoa, and coffee in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until you think it’s cooked enough--maybe a minute or two.  Add some dark chocolate--I’m very approximate with amounts.  Stir till it’s all melted in.  Add the vanilla and salt.  Thin with extra coffee if it’s too thick for your liking.  Serve over ice cream.  Store leftovers in the fridge.  I’ve had success re-heating it on the stovetop.  Or you can just serve glops of it chilled with your ice cream.  Enjoy!


Friday, July 15, 2016

Everyday Life 7.15.16: having company, growing kiddos

Well hello.  Last week my easy post idea turned out to be quite challenging (how hard can it be to write up a day in my life, thought I?  Much more time-consuming and clunky than I expected) and I just didn't take the time to finish it.  It was surprisingly hard to let myself off the hook of writing every week, but I'm back today...

~ ~ ~

Yesterday Mum, my sweet Canadian mother-in-law (she's "Mum" and my mom is "Mom") and Christy and her four littles came over to swim and have lunch.  I fully expected it to be crazy but it worked out well and we had so much fun!  We had a wonderful time out by the water together and the kids did great in our little place.  I've resisted the idea of having families with small children over because I thought it just wouldn't work in our two-bedroom condo.  Well, my nephews and niece proved me happily wrong.  Ginny even organized James' room before leaving.


Sometimes I don't want to do new things with the kids because I think they'll be hard, or stressful, or it just won't work out, or it conflicts with so-and-so's sleep schedule.  But each time we've done it anyway, I have been favorably impressed at how well it's gone (and that life doesn't end when naps are disrupted).  Our road trips to MI are prime examples.  Also things like driving the kids up the Mt. Evans road and being out till nearly 4...not optimal, perhaps, but we had fun and we didn't implode, explode, or otherwise die (though poor James did get carsick).  Or taking the kids to the pool by myself, or having people over...things easier done than over-thought, perhaps?


~ ~ ~

Emily is mobile!  She's puttered a bit but hadn't moved around the house much on her own until just a couple of days ago.  I set her down in James' room to play with toys and have a little quiet time and when I went back to check on her she was playing with the diapers in the bathroom.  Well then.  She still doesn't crawl--either scoots on her seat or pulls herself around on her tummy.  It's pretty cute.  She is so grown up; really getting to be a little girl and not a baby.  Her sleep schedule's all crazy right now.  Some days she doesn't quite need two naps a day but one isn't enough either.  There have been a few times where she's missed a nap or has a really short one...which can be tiring all around.  But we've had some fun times together too.  She especially loves stories involving animal sounds.  :)


It has been a bit of a game-changer to have my baby start moving.  It makes me realize how grown-up James is.  He's getting so obedient and helps me with carrying and getting things.  He's quite a singer.  He'll take a book and use it as a guitar while he sings songs of his own making.  He also "reads" (recites) stories to himself when he's napping or narrates them through the day ("up da ladders go da firemen!" "busy police car, things to do!")  and he's learning Psalm 23 just from our repeating it so many times.


Last night I was putting Emily to bed and James came in to say goodnight.  I told him to give her a hug and she reciprocated...a little funny since both of them seem to think that hugs involve putting your head down on someone else's shoulder.  It was pretty adorable.  He also likes to help get Emily up from her nap.  Working on only doing that at the end of naptime...


~ ~ ~

Yesterday James ate a coffee bean when I was making the cold brew and I wasn't successful in getting all of it out of his mouth before he swallowed it.  Fortunately it didn't have a terrible impact on his ability to wind down.  :)

~ ~ ~

Joe and I are both reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  Well, he's listening and I'm reading, in accordance with our (strong) preferences as to learning styles.  We have both really liked it.  The idea of trade-offs has been good for me so far; realizing that I can't do it all and that to take one opportunity means turning down another.  It's helping me to think more realistically about my time.  I tend to hope that I can do it all if I just work quickly enough and am organized enough, but I usually end up vaguely stressed and disappointed with my actual productivity compared to my aspirations.  Choosing what not do to is a novel concept but it makes so much sense.

Also, there's just the paradigm shift of motherhood.  The important things don't always look like checked-off items on a list.  Unless you put sitting and playing or stories or evening walks to the park on your list...which may not be a bad idea.

I'm off now to read stories to my little boy and eventually to dinner prep.  I've been vacillating between making spicy Thai noodles or Cajun chicken pasta all afternoon.  Currently leaning towards Cajun...



a couple of favorite shots from our evening at the park

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Happy 1st Birthday Emily!

Emily Grace,

Happy 1st birthday, little princess!  One year ago, just five minutes after midnight, you were born after a fast and slightly crazy labor.  Before I even really saw you, I heard Daddy saying “Look, sweetie, it’s a girl!”  You had my dark hair (which you’ve kept) and your Daddy’s nose and you were such a beautiful little girl.  We were both so excited and blessed.  We named you Emily Grace because it was the most special name we could think of, and we’ve called you Princess since before we even left the birth center that morning.  

You bring us so much joy.  Since you were tiny, people have commented on how happy you are; a common saying among your aunts, uncles and grandparents is “Emily is always happy!”  or “Emily is just so happy!”  While I can’t say you are always happy (particularly if you don’t want to go to bed), you are a happy girl.  You love to be around people and you really love your family.  Your brother makes you smile and you’ve already learned how to make him laugh hysterically...buzzing your lips sure does the trick.   And James loves you; if you’re in bed crying he wants me to go take care of you.  

You’re already starting to talk and you have the most adorable little high-pitched voice.  I have to listen carefully but sometimes what I think I hear surprises me.  You try to repeat what you hear, and I almost think I heard “Wow!  Pretty!” when we were talking about fireworks this morning.  (You did experience your first fireworks last night, but I don’t think you even noticed. We let you play with my phone to keep you from crying from sheer exhaustion while James was enthralled by his first fireworks show.)  Last night you said “James” and you say “Wheee!” when you’re on the swings or slide at the park.  


You are a Daddy’s girl.  You’re so happy to see him when he gets home from work and you’ll almost always go to him from me.  Especially at bedtime, since I’m the one who usually puts you to bed.  When I’m feeding you at night and Daddy moves in bed, you perk up, get excited and start trying to talk to him.  And Daddy loves you so much, little one.  He regularly talks about how cute you are and how much he loves you.  One of my favorite things is watching him dance with you.

Sometimes I wonder what you’ll be like when you get a little older.  Outdoorsy?  A reader?  What instruments will call to you?  Between Daddy and me I don’t think you’re going to be able to escape having quite the imagination.  I'm excited to get to know the girl you're growing into. I’m also looking forward to the day when I can share all my favorite stories with you.  But at the same time I love my baby girl and don’t want her to grow up too fast.  

I can’t believe that I have a daughter.  I prayed for a little girl, Emily, before you were even conceived.  Now I pray that you will seek Jesus, not out of fear or duty but out of love.  That you will grow to be a strong, confident, gracious woman.  I want you to know that we love you.   We’re so glad we got you and we will always, always love you.  You’re our special girl.  

Love you forever, Emmy-Bear.  



Photo credit for photos 1, 2 and 4 to Sarah Morgan Photography

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Everyday Life 6.25.16: kids, coffee, another good book

It's naptime and the kids are quiet.  I'm at the table with my computer and cold-brewed coffee and I have a list of tasks to accomplish, not least of which is writing this post.  Also on the list, just for posterity's sake, are updating the budget, downloading SquareCash, emailing a friend...and lots of other stuff that's bouncing around in my head.  But alas, I am subject to the limits of time and ability so finishing a photo book and updating our entire love story draft will likely not happen today.  I'm learning to be realistic in what I attempt....maybe.  

Speaking of cold brew, it's wonderful stuff.  I grind coffee on the coarsest setting, put almost a cup of grounds in a quart jar, fill it with cold water, and put it in the fridge overnight (or longer).  It's technically supposed to steep 12-16 hours but I've left it in longer without problem.  When it's done, strain it and enjoy your coffee with a bit of milk.  It's sweeter than hot-brewed coffee, with a bit of a caramel flavor.  We love it and it's nice to have coffee in the fridge ready to pour, especially on Sunday mornings.  I have actually had to cut back on when I drink it because I was getting so over-caffeinated that I was starting to have trouble sleeping.  Decaf cold brew, perhaps??  


~ ~ ~

Emily: such a precious child.  Her hair is starting to curl and her eyes are turning brown and she's beginning to talk!  She'll take a phone (or another object, including her hand or mine), put it to her ear and say "'Ello?"  "Daddy" is her favorite word.  I think she's using it for people in general, though, not just for Joe.  (Though she certainly loves Joe.)  

Still not crawling or walking, but she's pushing herself with her feet, dragging herself along with her arms, sometimes doing both at once, and scooting along while sitting by putting her hands down between her legs and pushing/pulling herself forwards.  She also does a sort of pushup/plank.  Doesn't get her anywhere but it's sure cute!  She hasn't pulled herself up yet but if I stand her somewhere she's really stable, even if she's only holding on with one hand.  I wouldn't be too surprised if she just took off walking one day.  



Emily tends to be fussy after naps and before dinner.  I've discovered that a few pots and lids and some fruit (citrus works well; she can't damage it easily) keep her happy for a while.  And when that gets old, the piano makes a wonderful babysitter.  I strap her in her booster chair and push it up to the keyboard so she can play.  She loves it and it keeps her happy and occupied so I can finish dinner.


She also loves it when Joe and I kiss while one of us is holding her.  She tries to push our heads together so we'll do it again; cracks us up.  


~ ~ ~

James has grown into such a little boy.  I still rock him before bed (he would be distraught if I stopped) but he's been having a hard time lately figuring out how to get comfortable and where to put his legs.  His imaginative games are so funny to watch.  Today he had one of Joe's belts attached to one of his trucks and was pulling it around, like a puppy on a leash.  He's started this trash collection game: he stuffs clothes or rags into the cleaning bucket and dumps it into Emily's walker.  The first time there weren't enough dirty clothes for him so he got his clean jammies out of his drawer and put them in with the dirty rags.  Now I try to make sure he has rags to use...


James loves to help in the kitchen and has a sixth sense telling him when I switch from puttering around and cleaning to actually cooking or baking something.  He'll start to push a chair over, saying "Help me?"  Today he did a great job of unloading the silverware from the dishwasher and then re-loading the dirty silverware.

Sometimes when he has a question or request he'll repeat it over and over, regardless of response.  He'll say it like a question (strong upward inflection), then like a statement (downward inflection).  Question, statement.  Today on our walk it was "Emmy in da fwing?  Emmy in da fwing.  Emmy in the fwing?..."


 Yesterday he took his apple outside and just sat on the patio for a while.  

He napped in his toddler bed the other day!  It was only because of major emotional trauma, however.  James has almost always slept with a fan on in his room.  The other day the power went out during naptime and he wasn't asleep yet--poor guy was so upset when his fan just up and stopped.  I finally got him settled back down but before he was asleep, the power came back on.  The fan turning on unprovoked was just about as disturbing as having it turn off.  So I settled him down again and put him back to bed.  Then the power went out again.  And came back on two minutes later.  By this point he was sitting in his crib staring at the fan and sobbing, exhausted.  I snuggled with him in the toddler bed and when he finally calmed down he fell asleep quickly and soundly.  Sweet boy.


~ ~ ~

I just finished another really good book: The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh.  It's a very broad look at the role of listening in our lives: listening to God through Scripture and creation, listening to others, and listening to ourselves.  I thought I was a good listener but I realized that I have a lot to learn.  I especially appreciated his thoughts on Scripture and his insights on what being a good listener to others really involves (silence does not equal listening), and his list of ways we don't listen well was hysterical and convicting.  I didn't agree with everything and some of it I'll have to think about for a while, but overall I highly recommend it.  I'll probably even buy it.  

~ ~ ~

And finally, when you take your kids to the park, swing on the swings.  It's good for the soul.  The end.