Sunday, November 30, 2008

So Very Thankful

I'm listening to the sounds of laughter coming from the bathroom as I type. James is giving the kids their bath, a time both he and they enjoy enormously, and which always provides a little "me" time.

I've been planning to get this post out all weekend, but we've truly been having such a great weekend as a family that I just haven't felt like stopping to write. We've really not done anything that exciting, just spent time together doing things that needed to get done. We put up the Christmas tree and decorations (much to Joshua's delight!), but beyond that the things we've done around the house have mostly been necessary chores. It's been relaxing to have a long weekend with no place to be, no traveling to do, and no real agenda. As part of living a greater distance from family we always have to make the decision about whether the trip is justified by the time we'd be able to spend with family, James' work schedule, etc. At least for right now in our life we've decided that Thanksgiving is a holiday that won't include a trip "back home" for us. With Thanksgiving always stranded on a Thursday and James being one of few salaried employees in this country that are required to work Black Friday it just takes too much vacation time for not much family time. So, we've kind of adopted it as a holiday just for the four of us. We're more than happy to welcome any of our long-distance family and friends that are willing to make the trip, but it's nice to not have to think about packing, fighting the traffic and adapting our travel to the kids' schedules, etc. We've done a variety of things over the years, a couple of years we celebrated with local friends, we've had the pleasure of hosting each of our families on occasion, and this year we participated in a somewhat different tradition.
With the world-class University of Wisconsin in town, Madison is home to many international students pursuing degrees, completing fellowships, or participating in visiting scholar programs as well as a number who call Madison their permanent home. While most of us born and raised in the US don't think about it, Thanksgiving is a relatively unique holiday by world standards. For many of the individuals newly arrived in Madison it is also a somewhat strange and isolating one. So for years our church has hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner at church and invited church families to participate by bringing the food, serving, cleaning up, or hosting tables for our international guests. We chose to do the latter and we really enjoyed it. We were joined by three PhD. candidates from Eastern India, none of whom had been in the US for a Thankgiving holiday before. It was interesting to explain what we do, what we eat, and why to someone who doesn't already just know what is expected. Our kids really enjoyed it as well, and Joshua is still talking about having lunch at church with our "new friends." I don't know if it will become a tradition, but it is certainly something we will consider participating in again throughout the years.

Looking at Thankgiving from a new perspective was refreshing. It is so easy to think a lot about the Turkey, the relatives, the parties, the food and spend very little time reflecting on how truly blessed we are. All we need to do is look around the world and realize how truly privleged we are to live in such comfort.

Life certainly has it's disappointments and sorrows, but from a global and historical perspective alike we are have so much! And yet, many times I get lost in what I don't have, or what could be going better, or the small discouragements of every day and completely forget to be grateful to the one who provides it all. I should be filled with gratitude for the family with whom I have been blessed, the country I call home, the food that is never lacking, the shelter from the cold, and the clothes that cover my body. I too often take for granted the blessing of laughter and hugs, the sound of little feet and equally tiny giggles that fill my days, and the constant love of my wonderful husband and the support of a great group of friends. This holiday season I hope to be more intentional in thanking God for these incredible blessings and reaching out to those around me to share some of that same joy!

I hope each of you enjoyed your weekend, wherever it took you and that you all join me in truly remembering all we have to be thankful for. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How I Feel...

I found the following words (letter, song, prayer?) on this blog I was browsing earlier and it perfectly expresses how I feel as I parent through these very all-consuming days of childhood. Hard, busy, but worth every minute!
You are...

No matter how it seems sometimes
behind my weary eyes and sighs,
I love being with you.

You are perspective and pure joy.
You are bringing me to my knees,
exactly where I need to be.

You are beautiful, just as you are.

You are me. You are Daddy.
You are yourself, and that's my favorite part.
You are ours. You are His.
You are light and grace and warmth,
all wrapped up in skin and bone.

You are forgiving and unconditional.
You are examples to me of how to live.
Because you are everything I may have forgotten.
Things all covered up by the hardness of living.
freedom, joy, peace, are.

You smell like it.
You live it.
You exude it.
You are love.
They say I'll want these days back,
They go all too fast.
But I'm starting to realize I won't.
No, not the days.
I admit they're too hard and I'm tired.
I won't want the days.
But these tiny versions of you?
Yes, I will certainly miss those at times.
And I may even want you back this way.

But I'm looking forward to new versions of you,
to learning more of who you are.

More than all of that,
the looking back and the looking ahead.
I want to be here with you today.
With who you are, right now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daredevil Climber

Lydia, the Daredevil Climber, just like her brother.

And here is a video of Lydia walking from about a week ago. She has progressed a LOT since this point, but it is always fun to see how quickly they go from one skill to another.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tagged Again--sort of.

I was tagged in a blog game last week by my friend Rebecca. According the the game, I'm supposed to tell you all 6 random facts about myself and post a random picture. However, I'm terrible at these "random facts" type things--they're too wide-open and I overthink them! So, I saw this on another blog I was reading last week and it looked more defined, and should still provide you with facts you probably don't already know. Enjoy!

1. What is your husband's name?
James Wesley
2. Who eats more?
Usually him--but there are days, especially when I'm nursing or pregnant (which for those of you who are curious has been all of the last 42 months!)
3. Who said, "I love you" first?
He did, whispered it in my ear as we were saying good-night and I didn't even realize that's what he'd said until he'd already left!
4. Who is taller?
5. Who is smarter?
That's a good question--we haven't really ever settled on it ourself. "Depends on the topic" is probably the best answer.
6. Who is more sensitive?
Me, definitely
7. Who does the laundry?
Usually me, but he's really great about helping: if he sees that it's piling up or knows that there's a load in the washer or dryer he'll switch it over or help fold!
8. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?
Me (if you're looking at the bed)
9. Who pays the bills?
Me again.
10. Who cooks more?
Definitely me--but he's learned a lot over the past five years and could do it if he needed to now.
11. Who is more stubborn?
In most cases me, but we're both pretty stubborn (and so are the kids, shocking, I know)
12. Who is the first to admit they are wrong?
Usually me--but I'm also usually the one to press the issue that I'm right.
13. Who has more siblings?
That would yet again be me. I have 3 younger brothers, James has 2 younger brothers
14. Who wears the pants in the relationship?
Let me start by saying I hate this question! I guess I'd say we share a pair? Again, it just depends on the issue who makes the final call.
15. What do you like to do together?
We love to travel (but haven't really gotten to do so since the kids came along), read, hike, and talk about life and current happenings. In all honesty, we mostly end up watching movies or TV together these days since we're too tired/busy to do much else, but we enjoy that too.
16. Who eats more sweets?
James. I eat more chocolate though.
17. How did you meet?
We met my freshman year of high school at a youth event that both our churches were participating in. But, it never once crossed my mind during high school that we might be together. We were increasingly better friends throughout the years, especially once we started attending the same college, but again we just friends for the first couple of years (for real, not just one of those things people say-- he dated several other people during that time). I knew I was interested in him before he realized he was interested in me--I'd really given up on anything ever happening right about the time I found out he liked me!
18. Who asked whom out first?
James asked me out during the summer between our Sophomore and Junior years of undergrad. After knowing each other for 6 years prior to dating our courtship moved pretty fast. We got engaged after about 6 months and were married a year after beginning to date.
19. Who kissed who first?
James kissed me first and then I kissed him back, and well...we've had a lot of practice since then. ;)
20. Who proposed?
James again--he asked me while on a ski lift during a ski trip with his family in Ontario. I'm definitely a novice skiier, but I was so dazed, happy, giddy once we got off the lift that I took a wrong turn and headed down a black diamond. James did a great job getting me down safely, but it was a bit unnerving. (How's that for a metaphor for life?) And yes, for those of you wondering, that does mean that my darling husband carried a ring around all day in his jacket pocket while downhill skiing!
21. His best features and qualities?
I love his eyes. :) Best qualities, he's patient, fun to be around, compassionate, and intelligent. Beyond all that, no one could ask for a more loving husband or father. I am so blessed!!!!

I'm not going to officially "tag" anyone, but I would enjoy reading this about any of you who just read my story! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Praying 7x7

You might have noticed the new button on the sidebar of my blog. For most of the past year, I've been reading Angie's blog. It began as she shared the story of her sweet Audrey, born with severe disabilities and taken to heaven to be with Jesus the same day. Her writing has inspired me--oh to have that kind of faith in the midst of such a difficult and heartbreaking time!

Her writing since has mostly focused on her other three sweet girls (as well as the ministry opportunities that have come out of sharing Audrey's story) and the challenges of being a mom that loves Jesus and passes that love on to her children. If you've never checked out her blog, you should definitely do so, but be warned--her writing is so fresh, funny, and yet insightful that you'll probably become addicted, checking back frequently to make sure you don't miss anything!

Anyway, enough about this great blog and back to the button. Recently Angie challenged moms reading the blog (as well as other readers who might not be parents, but have specific kiddos they're praying for) to be intentional and pray over your children in seven specific situations throughout their days each day of the week. I love this approach! It's scriptural, but it's also tied to events in your day which act as triggers. I've often felt since having the kids that I don't know where I'd put a devotional and prayer life anymore, yet never have I had such crucial and precious "prayer items." :) So join me if you wish, click on the button to link to Angie's post with the verses and situations and to read her much more inspiring post on the topic. As for me, I'll be praying... as often as I can remember. Hey, I'm still working on this!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Where does time go? Why is it that when you're waiting for something it seems to crawl, but when you're trying to savor the moments it goes way too fast. I can hardly believe I'm writing this, for it seems just days ago that I was a VERY pregnant girl starting this blog to keep you all posted on the arrival of our new baby.

Well, that "new" baby officially joined the ranks of the walking this past weekend! Lydia's been taking steps for several weeks now and will walk quite long distances if you hold just one hand, however, as of Saturday she's now walking between us and across rooms, not just the occasional step to an item just out of her reach.
She is sooooo proud of herself and so are James and I. By far the most fun to watch, however, is Joshua. He's become a little coach all of a sudden and he's always close by to clap for her, encourage her, and in general make a big deal when she attempts something new. It makes me smile inside everytime no matter how stressful the day when I see them interacting kindly.

There are a lot of less than encouraging moments when raising babies and toddlers, but nothing can prepare you for how precious it is to see those little people you created and care for expressing their love for each other. I'm also amazed that seeing your kid acheive never gets old. The pride is new each and every time, no matter if you knew it was coming or not. The excitement I'm filled with over Lydia's first steps is the same as that for Joshua's--though not as fresh as Joshua's over seeing Lydia walk. I think if I had 100 kids I'd be just as in awe over how quickly they grow and change and what individuals they are.
So, my baby becomes less like a baby everyday and I just want to hold on to the moments because I know if I blink she'll be climbing, chatting, and heading off to school...

Here are some pictures and video of her new skill. Sorry for the really short video, we had to use our camera since we lost the upload cable for the videocamera and when we started taping she decided she wasn't in the mood to walk anymore, so they're less impressive than her actual skills.

Trick-or-Treat 2008

Whew! How did it get to be November already? Sorry for the long blogging absence--I'd give some great reason about all the things we've had going or how we've been sick or any of a number of things that are true--except none of those are the reason I haven't writting sooner. Quite simply, I just haven't gotten it done. That seems to be a problem with a lot of things these days, on the nice days I want to be outside enjoying it all and on the gloomy days, I totally and completely lack motivation. So, there you have it...complete honesty.

Whatever the reason I haven't been blogging, it's certainly not because I have no material for posts. Quite a bit has been happening around our house these past couple of weeks. Joshua has been asking for months (since Easter really) when it would be trick-or-treat time. We've pacified him by letting him try on his costume and telling him that once the leaves all fall down it will be time again. So, imagine his delight last week when we told him Friday was the day!

He didn't even have to wait all the way until Friday, for on Thursday we had a little halloween party with the moms and kids from my small group from my mommies group (similar to MOPS, but through our church). He had tons of fun being in costume and painting mini-pumpkins with the rest of the kiddos and if anything was even more stoked for actual trick-or-treating.

Friday dawned bright, sunny, and WARM. :) It's been in the mid 40's to low 50's for much of the latter half of October, so 65 felt balmy. So much nicer than last year when his nose was dripping and hands were freezing as we walked through the neigborhood. From the second Joshua woke up he was asking if it was time yet, and even though he knew it wouldn't be time until after his nap he could barely settle down to sleep because of his great excitement. So, when he woke up we ate an early dinner then headed out for some serious trick-or-treating action. After going to some houses on our street we met some friends in their neighborhood and Joshua and two of his best buddies (as well as their little siblings) walked around for the next hour and a half or so. What a big difference from last year. They all did their own walking the whole time, they walked up to doors and knocked, said "trick-0r-treat" and "thank-you" and navigated back to their waiting parents all in a polite and orderly fashion. It was really cute to watch their excitement

However, as exciting as Friday was, and despite the fact that we have way more candy in the house than we'll ever allow him to eat, it's left our little man wanting more. He's asked at least once a day to go again, and everytime he sees a house with the porch light on he wants to stop and ask "for a treat."

Lydia took her first Halloween all in stride. She loved to be part of the action and didn't seem to mind being in costume at all, even though she's usually really opposed to hats. She rode in the stroller and looked all grown-up holding her own pumpkin bucket for the most part. She's not old enough to really get the idea, but watching Joshua with all the candy made her realize it must be something good. She's now obsessed with picking up suckers and putting them in her mouth wrappers and all. She thinks we're really mean parents to prevent her from actually eating them and let's us know quite vocally how she feels about the injustice of the matter. She thinks whatever big-brother does she should do also.

But enough about our trick of treat experience, here are the pictures you were all reading through my post to find! ;-) Without further ado, here are Elmo and Mommy's little lamb, and also a beautiful bumblebee. (Joshua received a costume from each set of grandparents for his first halloween, so Lydia was born with what every girl wants, wardrobe it was a bumblebee for the party and a lamb for trick or treating.)