Wednesday, December 19, 2012



It's ultrasound official.

Baby 3 is on the way!!

I've wanted to tell you for ages. It explains so much... like why I haven't posted a recipe in 3 months. I haven't eaten or cooked since October.

It goes without saying that we're delighted. We watched baby 3 dance and squirm in the ultrasound today, and my heart danced too.

The normal questions:
When are you due?
July 4 - we love our holiday babies

How are you feeling?
Better than with the girls, but that's not saying much

Will you find out boy or girl?
You betcha

Do you have names picked out yet?
Of course I do, but Tim will not even discuss names until we know gender

Are the girls excited?
Oh yes. Big one is ready to go. After all, she is already the best big sister in the whole wide world. Small one believes the baby is going to be hers. She's already telling us that no one else can hold baby.

We covet your prayers as we round out the first trimester over the holidays, especially during the long drives to and from Tennessee.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mary, full of grace

How pitiful must the mother of Jesus have looked? A teenage mother, suspected of adultery, with a crazy story about an angel and a pregnancy from the Holy Spirit. Even her fiancé didn't believe her.

Did she rest for three months with her cousin Elizabeth because she needed time with someone who believes her? Another mother with a gift from God baby who leaped and shouted from the womb: HERE HE IS!

Her song is beautiful:

My soul praises the Lord; 
my heart rejoices in God my Savior, 
because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl. 
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed, 
because the Powerful One has done great things for me. 
His name is holy.
God will show his mercy forever and ever to those who worship and serve him.
He has done mighty deeds by his power.
He has scattered the people who are proud and think great things about themselves.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones and raised up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with nothing.
He has helped his servant, the people of Israel, remembering to show them mercy as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his children forever. Luke 1:46-55 NCV

Would I pen such a verse asked to disgrace myself for the sake of God's glory? Would I count myself blessed to be labelled with a scarlet A? If everyone thought my husband was a weak pushover for marrying me and raising my bastard son? If no one believed the call on my life? Would I rejoice in God my savior?

By God's grace, she did.

And she carried his greatest grace in her arms and kissed his soft cheeks and made a bed for him where she could find one.

And all people call her blessed in verse and song, as we see, by his grace, what her disgrace gave to us all!

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon virgin, mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep In heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Big one's christmas gifts

An impromptu mommy daughter night with big one. We sit down to make a Christmas present for Daddy {which will be the next book in the series, "If you give a mouse a cookie..."}.
Once the paints were out, the masterpiece underway, she decided to make Christmas ornaments for all her friends, even their moms. We chatted about how much she loved her friends and how excited she was to give a present.

Next to her on the table sat a Christmas ornament made in 1990 by my best friend. It's hung on my Christmas tree every year since. Every year when I take it out, I think about him, really the whole family. One of those once in a lifetime finds - a kid for each of us, crafting mommas, engineering poppas. We did vacations together and sleepovers and birthdays. Life together.
We sip tea out of handmade Christmas gifts from Auntie Sarah and continue painting. She ran out of ornaments before she made one for me. Sorry, Mommy. I just guess I don't have one for you.

That's okay. The day is my gift.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Counting days, preparing hearts

We’re ten days into our Jesse Tree. The branches are filling with clip art reminders that the Promised One has arrived. I catch myself staring at it, marking all the promises that God made throughout history that spoke of the coming messiah, Immanuel, God walking with us again.

We counted advent when I was a kid. Opened windows in a serene, cobalt-tinted cardboard Bethlehem. Daddy opened the Bible and read to us with every open window. Then Christmas Eve we tied the whole story together with a full reading of the Christmas story.

But it stopped one year. Maybe we lost the calendar. More likely, we fussed about the drudgery of repeating a story we could ‘recite backwards.’ I stopped counting advent in favor of shopping days after that.

As a married couple, we haven’t done an advent calendar. It didn’t seem important before we had children. We already knew christmas was coming, just look at the tree and shopping list and endless programs and parties. Of course Christmas was right around the corner. Why advent?

But this year, the girls need to learn the true meaning of Christmas, need to learn to build the excitement in their hearts toward the birth of the savior.

As we teach, I learn what I had forgotten {and I must remember!}. The everyday shared family scripture has calmed and quieted my soul as I wait. Not for sales or meals or sharing Christmas with my family. Wait for the star to top the tree... He is here. Run to worship him. The advent tree has helped my heart maybe most of all.

We use rituals to teach the girls, to shape their worldview. That we should speak of the commandments of the Lord when we sit in our house and walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise Deuteronomy 6:7. To pass on a legacy of faith to our children.

But ritual is just a practice, not faith. They aren’t learning from the tree. They learn from our example of faith. This story is important enough to Daddy and Momma to share it with you everyday, hang pictures to remind us of God’s faithfulness.

So what happens when they’ve learned the lesson? When they can recite the story backwards? Do we put aside these child-like traditions as tools to train a little mind?

Training our children can’t be the reason we celebrate; then we celebrate the god of godly parenting.

We celebrate Christ’s coming.

The counting, the advent plumbs the hearts of Daddy and Momma. When the girls are glib teens, we need our hearts righted more than ever. These child-like tools keep a child-like faith in parent hearts, show near-grown children that God is as important today as He was during childhood.

What do we lose as adults by forsaking the teaching tools we provide our children?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Would we follow?

“We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

A single spot of light in the sky. The most learned men in the land grabbed their gear and headed out in the night to follow it. What must that star have looked like to compel grown men with jobs and responsibilities, intellectuals, wise men to journey? Can you imagine setting out to follow a star? Would we make pot of gold and leprechaun jokes if we met them on the road?

Or would we walk too? Not knowing where the star will stop or what we will find when it does.

They obviously didn’t expect what they found. Surely the mightiest of all kings must have been born to command his own star! Who else in all history has had such a celestial birth announcement? So they journey to the palace in Jerusalem where “a star shall come out of Jacob.” Numbers 24:17 If he’s worthy of a star, he must be worthy of a palace. Surely Judah wouldn’t miss its great king.

Never did they dream the star would stop over a poor carpenter’s house, for a child of questionable parentage. Nor could they imagine that this star was for the King of Kings, the God-man. Who could imagine such a thing? Who could envision a holy God setting aside his mantle of glory for swaddling clothes and a dirt floor? 

I wonder if the wise men knew as they laid their gifts before him how inadequate their treasures were?

Do we know how inadequate our treasures are?

I wonder if the wise men knew that this boy would rescue the world, make right God’s broken world?

Do we believe he’s made all things right?

I wonder at these wise men, who didn’t know the God of Israel, who weren’t God’s chosen people, these Gentile scholars willing to walk the world in search of the King worthy of his own star.

Are we willing to walk too?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Baby rhino tree

I finished half of my Christmas shopping last week. Didn't matter. Christmas felt vague. Santa looked alien. Christmas music felt premature.

Until last night...

The tree is up, in all of its stunted, unbreakable glory.
Christmas trees are my thing, even as a little girl. I would sit in the dark on the living room floor, only the lights on the tree glowing bright. Watch the light bounce off the sequined ice skating dolls. The cracked glass owl that hung on my dad’s childhood tree. Mommy’s handmade ornaments from their broke newlywed years.

Christmas trees are story tellers, weaving two families together into a new one.
Our story tree feels brief this year. We opted for a short, live norfolk pine because it offered a heavy root ball, and I decorated with only soft, unbreakable ornaments. This is mostly small one’s doing. She denuded the front half of a friend’s tree in five minutes. Even pulled all the ornament hangers out of the top of the glass balls.

Last night as I hung the final ornament, leaving most of my favorites wrapped securely in storage, I was a little sad. Our tree isn’t ugly, exactly... No, it’s ugly, but in that baby rhino, so-ugly-it’s-cute kinda way.

And I really love beautiful, tall trees. And glass ornaments. And white lights.

But the girls have an opinion this year, so we have a short tree with colored bulbs. And they love it so much that they stopped in their tracks and stared, mouths open, hands clasped to their chests.

They reminded me that Christmas is about a family, God's family. And about sacrifice, Jesus'. He gave up the splendor of Heaven so that I could have access. How much more can I give up the beauty of a breakable tree to give my girls a tree they can touch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Does everything die?

Big one sits next to me at lunch, her fork pauses over her mac n' cheese. Mother, does everything die?

These are her questions recently, like where do babies come from. I figure it's best to answer her honestly. My "grown up girl" appreciates being taken seriously.

Hoping she's looking for a simple answer, Yep. Everything dies.

Here comes the list:

Do cows die?


Do fish die?

Yep. {she should know this from personal experience}

Do people die?


She looks around the room, Do dogs die?! I pause. I see where this is going, but she is too quick for me. Will Abby die?!

Me, scrambling, Not for a long time. We'll take good care of her.

Seeing right through me,  But she's going to die. And it will be our fault. I will be sad. I miss her.

More scrambling, It won't be our fault. She's not going to die any time soon. She's fine.

With a fatalistic air, Why did Daddy get me a dog?

I'm ready to give up when small one chimes in, Love Abby! Love my doggie!

That's why Daddy got a dog. Because you love Abby, and she needed a good home.

Big one shrugs, Yep, I love Abby. And her fork plunges back into her mac n' cheese.

Conversation done. She's un-phased. I'm slightly traumatized.
When I introduced Abby, I didn't have much info for you. She is 1 1/2 year old german retrieva-chow* from a local rescue. We'd owned her for a couple days. After a couple weeks.... I feel like we cheated. For $130 and a lengthy interview, we got a house-broken, child-broken, non-chewing, already-trained dog. The only things we have to teach her are to stay in our fence and stay off our bed. Amazing dog! She fits into our home like she's been here the whole time. An answer to years of praying for God to bring along the right dog at the right time. Thanks God!!

*The german retrieva-chow is not yet recognized by the AKC, but I think it could be the next big thing in designer dogs.**

**We have no idea what breed(s) Abby is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A day late

Happy birthday, Baby A!!

Can I still call her 'baby' now that she's 2? She's okay with it. Unlike her big sis, small one is in no hurry to give up her spot as baby. Just this morning, she wrapped herself in her blankie, popped her finger in her mouth and nestled into my chest like a newborn. I'll take it.

She feels like the forgotten child. Big one is such a spotlight hog tour de force that small one is largely overlooked. As if she is still the pretty newborn with nothing to say.

But we know differently.

All yesterday, she spread birthday cheer. Happy birthday to yoooooouuuuu! She sang to her friends, to the cashier at Costco, to the owl on her pj's. That's our girl. She's not having fun until everyone around her is having fun too. A shy extrovert {can that happen?}.

So I'll remember later, a few favorites:

Book: Go Dog, Go! She bounces and squeals over every page, especially the do you like my hat? pages. No!!! she yells at the pink poodle.

Toy: Can't get enough babies. Babies with bottles. Babies in strollers. Even better when we get a real baby over for a visit. Loves babies.

Song: Baby Mine {yes, the sad one from Dumbo. She's obsessed. Sings it constantly} or maybe Gangnam Style

Game: Her face screws into an ornery scowl, points her finger at PoppaDaddy and says, no! over and over again. He doesn't even have to tell her to do something. She just likes telling him no! My MIL, SIL, and I love this game. She looks just like DH when he's being ornery and difficult.

So happy birthday, sweet Afton! I love you so very much. I'm so glad you came along to bring joy and silliness to your tightly wound Momma and sis. We need you!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Migraines and mystery fevers

Small one and I are having a sick day, moping around. When she cried for me last night, I knew she would wake up sick.

It's funny. When big one was a baby, I didn't trust the thermometer unless it was rectal and over 100.

Now I use my hand. Ooh, that's a 99. something forehead. And I'm usually right.

That's my note for teenagers today. Those years days that you think your mom doesn't know you at all. She can tell that you have a half degree fever by placing her hand on your forehead. That ranks right under 'eyes in back of head' on the superhero scale. I can't imagine finding someone who knows you better {at least before you're married - T can predict a migraine hours before it hits}.

Tylenol, gray fall weather and NFL. We'll muddle through this day yet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In leu of a coffee date...

I find our lives in need of a catch up post. This may become a Fall tradition.

End of September - welcome Auntie Meg. Tour Richmond, camp, knit scarves and mittens. Remember how awesome gaining a grown-up sister is.

Laugh until it hurts over Big One's skunk story {which is quickly becoming legend} as she acts out Daddy's fear upon watching a skunk waddle into our tent. Calling for help from a sleeping Momma, but she didn't wake up. Neighbors coming to the rescue, and shine a light on our tent. Then the skunk waddled out of the tent. The end.
Photo courtesy of Megan Ellis

Photo courtesy of Megan Ellis 
Photo courtesy of Megan Ellis
October - Annual camping trip to Montebello. Apple festival, friends and cider around a bonfire, finding a dead copperhead, then a live copperhead, leaving before the temperature dropped to freezing.

Can 24 quarts of my best applesauce. Wash clothes. Put away tent and cook stove. Teach a few more phonics. Pack beach clothes. Dress for a friend's wedding. Leave from the wedding to the beach.

Fantastic week with my family. All of us together for the first time in a year.
Drive home in stiff gale. Dig out camp stove and hunker down for Hurricane Sandy.

Start sewing princess dresses for Halloween. Put sewing machine away and borrow princess dresses for Halloween. Celebrate big one's third{!} birthday.

November - Share a few days with friends. We were first time pregnant together but haven't seen each other since babies were born. Now we're both showing off two babies each.
Say goodbye to friends. Change sheets in guest bedroom. Say hello to Grammy and G-pa.

Bake a cake. Learn to make frosting with awesome MIL. Celebrate joint birthday party at the park...

with our new dog!
It would be cute if she were waiting for Tim. She's actually plotting the demise of the neighborhood squirrels.
Whew! A very good, very full Fall. Much to be thankful for.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weathering the storm

Good book. Blanket fort. Field trip to sweet frog. That's how you weather a fake hurricane.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does sateen need glitter??

The strangest things become mile markers. An unexpected picture of how time is passing. I found one at the fabric store.

Small one was pressing a bolt of fabric to her cheek screaming, Pink! while big one leaned out of the cart, pointing at the aisle of tulle, saying, Our dresses need the golden sparkles too.

Six yards of pink and purple glitter sateen and gold glitter tulle. An alternate universe.

A year ago they wore crocheted hats and eye liner to black their noses on Halloween. Everybody awww-ed over our baby bear and lamb. And the girls were clueless.

Now they are princesses. At their request. With the fabric of their choosing. They even played happily outside for two hours so that I could sew. Small one hugged the finished dress to her chest while her feet pranced in delight.

I don't know how you feel about Halloween. Whether you only dress up as Bible characters and attend church-sponsored events, or paint the whole family as Zombies and groan around your neighborhood. I haven't made up my mind. The day is made extra complicated at our house because we can't eat half the candy. And it's big one's birthday.

The girls don't care what the day is. They just want to wear princess dresses. To church. To the playground. To Trader Joe's. With rain boots. Whatever. Any excuse to dresses head to toe in pink glitter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A brief guide to surviving childhood, part 1

Something is in the water. All of my friends are pregnant {if you're a non-pregnant friend, you're still my friend, but the hyperbole doesn't work if I say 'about half'}.

As I watch them nest and prepare and count down, especially the first timers, I keep thinking of things that I wish had been included in prenatal classes. So I'm passing one along:

Make Poison Control a favorite contact.

I seem to call poison control as often as some of my family members {more often than some}. We should be on a first name basis. My children eat any and every thing that grows in the yard, which leads me to my second point:

Do not buy the adorable, printed on 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard gardening book that teaches colors and features the catch phrase: I pick it and eat it.
Thanks to this book, the girls pick and eat everything. They stripped our tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries this spring, all while the fruit was still green. They've collected buckets of berries from the monkey grass and buds from the crepe myrtle {both non-toxic, I checked, but I imagine that if they were yummy, grown ups would eat them too}. They've sampled random mushrooms out of the yard {somewhat toxic, I checked, but not the kill you kind}. The other day I looked out the kitchen window and saw small one gnawing on the end of an eggplant still attached to the vine. She picks it and eats it.

Before you reach for a paper bag, only once have I needed to take them to the hospital. Which brings me to my final point, a carryover from vet school:

The solution to pollution is dilution.

When your kid eats something mildly poisonous {real life example - Borax} or simply disgusting {real life example - poop}, give them water, lots and lots of water. Water solves almost every oops, shouldn't have eaten that moment.

Alright, I'm done scaring the soon-to-be moms. This will be fun. Promise.


Curious babies put stuff in their mouths. They are blessed with good immune systems and gag reflexes and great ER's when the other two fail. I find the PC staff comforting and supportive - not once have they criticized me for not hovering over my children. A terrific resource.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The computer won't cooperate

Opened my shopping list at the grocery store:

Now I understand what small one was trying to say when she stormed into the kitchen, yelling, Doggie! Puppy!

She was really saying, I've punched every key on that stupid computer, and it still won't play the dog show!

Which explains why she walked out in a frustrated huff when her clueless momma bent over and coo'ed Hey baby, did you see a puppy outside? 

Poor kid. Her grasp on the english language failed her again.

Monday, October 8, 2012

When worry hovers

I don't want to write on ugly days. When the cold comes from inside. I hide on those days. Hibernate in pity.

The last two weeks have been wonderful. Sister in town, camping with friends. Tim was home, and we spent time taking stock of our days, counting our blessings. My heart should rejoice before the Giver of every good gift.

But anxiety takes hold. My head makes my stomach turn. And the coffee helps me worry faster.

My anxiety isn't my situation - it's my heart. My heart that mistrusts God. Not even a specific mistrust. General misgiving and unbelief.

I would ask if anyone else struggles with unbelief, but that's a ridiculous attempt to self justify. You're either struggling with unbelief or overcome by unbelief. Anxiety is common, not right.

Break through from the God I'm barely speaking to:

The story of Esther preached - a woman who never records a prayer, doesn't even identify herself with God's people until the last second, and God uses her to save His people. Not even all of his people. His obedient people returned to Jerusalem with Nehemiah and Ezra. This was the rebellious crowd who chose to live in paganism. God used a borderline believer to save a hardened people.

I don't want to stay in a godless, wrestling state with barely a prayer recorded. But I needed a reminder that God doesn't 'need' good people. He uses struggling cowards too.

Today, I am a struggling coward, fearing man and striving after foolishness. There's still a place for me in God's kingdom. Amen.

If the video doesn't load

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let's go fly a kite

Their eyes dance following the rainbow of silk bouncing in the wind above. Parent eyes meet and exchange the look "this is the best!"

The girls' first kite flying:

Then parental 'oops' moment: rusty hands crash the stunt kite into the baby kite. Poles shatter. The kite flutters limp to the ground.

Parent eyes meet again and exchange the look: "you're staying up all night if she has nightmares about kamikaze kites!"

She didn't. Maybe the whole event seemed so surreal that the end of flight was mythical as well. Maybe she was bored already. Either way, big one said matter-of-factly: Daddy will fix it. And off we ran, chasing the next great adventure.

She gets it. Daddy will fix it. What more needs to be said. Just follow Him to the next great adventure.


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