Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Lovin'

Between traveling, visitors, and houseguests, we got a lot of summer lovin' this year, and now we're ready to share the love...

Lovin' Chicago in May
Lovin' that J had a conference in Chi-town that BB and I could tag along on so we could meet the newest member of Team K, Baby Boy J.
Team K lovin' the iconic bean

Lovin' morning mist in the Windy City

Lovin' eggsploring at the Farm at the Lincoln Park Zoo


Lovin' a great group shot at the Farm at the Zoo


Lovin' must-have matchy jammies for these two boys, born just a few months apart

Lovin' three bugs in a tub


Lovin' Long-Lost Friends
Okay, maybe not lost, but definitely a long way out of town. Lovin' that our dear friends S+H enjoyed so much of their summer break in Tucson, which meant J and I were reunited with some of our favorite people.

Lovin' our Lebanese in July

What? They don't look Middle Eastern to you?

Lovin' that we finally got to meet Lil H, who is just a few weeks older than BB. And lovin' watching these together in the backyard, even though BB doesn't quite understand the concept of waiting his turn for the slide.
BB using his physical prowess to manhandle his way past Lil H



Lovin' a Doctor's Visit in August
Lovin' that Dr. A came from Phoenix to celebrate my birthday!

Lovin' Havasupai Falls
Lovin' that J got to go on a boy's trip to hike down into the Grand Canyon with our friend Andy, visiting from New York (who also came to Tucson for a visit!), BB's Uncle M, and some other college friends.


Lovin' the Lake in August
Lovin' that BB visited GG's house for the first time and stayed in a crib in his very own room, carefully decorated and filled with toys by GG just for him.
Lovin' taking a ride across the lake on the Dreamcatcher, the boat where GG works as a captain and Uncle Kyle works as a deckhand.

Finally Lovin' the Baby Bump

Lovin' that just a few days ago I finally got my hands on this beloved baby bump, visiting from Colorado Springs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Door Opens

God is so good, and He had a plan for us before we even knew that we would need it.

Remember E? E's parents are good friends of ours, and had asked if I could help watch E during the week while they worked, but since we already traded childcare with Serene and I also work 25 hours a week, I just didn't think it was doable. But it was just a couple of weeks later when Serene shared that she could no longer watch BB, and J said that the first thing that popped to mind were E's parents. They have always generously offered to help watch BB if we need it and watched him one day when our nieces were sick and quarantined away from society (at least, the baby society). We wondered if we could work out a similar arrangement with them, where they watched BB once a week and we watched E once a week. We called them and suggested the idea and tried not to get overly excited while we agreed to think it over. But how easy it would be! They have all the baby stuff! And we have all the baby stuff! We could just feed E whatever we feed BB and vice versa - no more packing up food! Their home is right on the way to J's work! And J's mom can keep just picking BB in the afternoon because it's right by her work too! We could get a double stroller, and how cute would that be!?!

In the meantime, I considered other options, knowing that the only other real option I would consider would be to go per diem and only work once a week. I wondered if this was what God had for us right now - we had always said that I would continue working part time as long as we had this wonderful childcare arrangement with someone who loves BB. I felt both excitement and anxiety at that idea - and I was surprised that I wasn't just jumping at the opportunity. Instead I felt a little wistful that everything I have built at work over the last several years would be lost - or at least, different, not being core staff.

But just a few days later I got a voice mail from E's Mommy that said "it was kind of a no brainer" and WOOHOO! We are so excited that we have another wonderful childcare arrangement for BB. E's parents and J and I have really similar ideas and ways of taking care of our babies, and we were pregnant together and have loved each other's little ones from the womb. BB and E have already enjoyed playing together and now will get to socialize twice a week. This past week was the first week I watched E and E's Mommy watched BB, and I had so much fun. The babies were even on the same schedule, napping, eating, and playing together. BB was so excited to have a friend there, he had a little excited expression the whole time and was even more busy than usual, sweetly handing (and yes, occasionally not-so-sweetly taking) toys and books to E.

We are so thankful to the Lord for providing a wonderful, safe place for BB to eat and sleep and play while I work, and for doing it so quickly! And also for E's parents (who are also a J and K!) for being generous and willing. Praise God for His omniscience and good plans for us!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The End of an Era

I can hardly believe that this time has come, but here it is. We have been so blessed to have J's sister Serene watching BB for us once a week while I work - Serene is such an amazing mom, gentle and firm in discipline, goofy and fun in play, instructive in teachable moments, and always, always securing her girls in her love for them. From the moment that BB made Serene an aunt (even in utero!) she has treasured our little boy, and when I had to go back to work, the transition was made much smoother by knowing that he was in capable hands that loved him almost as much as his mommy and daddy did.

For the last year we have listened to squeals of excitement from the backseat when BB recognizes the scenery on the way to his auntie's house. BB usually starts chasing "Jah" (Java) the doggie as soon as he hits the ground, and then his cousins find him and greet him in exaggerated baby voices and he smiles and laughs at them, and then he waddle-runs to the playroom towards the exotic toys he only sees once or twice a week. BB loves his days at his auntie's house.

But now we have reached the end of this wonderful era, and my heart just pours over with deep gratitude. Thank you Serene for feeding and diapering and cuddling my baby every week for the past year. Thank you for loving your girls so well that I knew could trust any decision you would make for BB in my stead. Thank you for loving BB himself, enjoying his surfacing unique personality. Thank you for being as excited as J and I over each new development, no matter how slight. And thank you for being the kind of mommy that inspires by daily example. I truly can't imagine how I would have made it through work this past year without knowing that BB was in your care.

Top Left to Right: Meeting BB in the NICU, right after BB's very first spit up which was all over Serene right as I was explaining that BB never really spits up
Bottom: Fun times

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Spooning

So here is that new kitchen trick I mentioned...


video

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teaching a Horse to Count

So lately we have seen BB begin to express a lot more anger and frustration - if we take something away, he looks at us with his lips pursed and claps his hands once or twice, and more recently stomps or kicks his feet and we've even had a couple of hitting episodes. It's clear to both J and I that BB is in full out fit-throwing mode with this behavior, and we say "We don't throw fits" many times throughout the week (and/or day). The first time J saw BB stomp his feet he warned, "Boy! You'd better be teaching a horse to count!" J and I are debating whether our 3 warnings and then a time-out discipline system is still effective, or if it should be more of a one warning or an immediate time out system, as there are things BB knows are no-nos, and I stopped wondering how much he can remember when J told me that one day BB left his soccer ball under the couch and the next morning he walked right over and crouched down on the ground and peered under the couch, clearly looking for his ball. He remembered he had left it there. So there have been a lot of firm voices and no-nos and mama-trying-not-to-laugh-while-daddy's-disciplining-the-baby-moments (it's just so hard when BB throws his food off his high chair with an expression like "What are you going to do about it?" as J is telling him not to).

Discipline is quite mysterious to us.

In non-discipline news, BB loves to climb into things and stand inside them or on them, like the box his toy wooden food is in or his block dump truck. And he loves loves to climb up the back of his high chair or up the stairs, and anytime he spies that one of his negligent parents didn't put the gate up, he races over and starts clomping up the stairs (towards the guitar, which we moved to the stair landing) - luckily his stair-crawling is pretty noisy so we are quickly alerted that we have an escapee. He loves brushing his teeth - oh man, just try to take that toothbrush away, and you will face the wrath. Sometimes I find the toothbrush in weird places and J tells me it's because he had to hide it from BB. And lately BB will bring over a book and climb in our laps to page through it - such a sweet time. He loves to climb atop one of us and wiggle-bounce until we bounce him - it's so fun to see him communicating, even though it's without words. But then he does have some words - dada, mama, all done, and uhoh pretty much comprise his vocabulary. His favorite toys are his drum set and his wooden food and his Leapfrog Fridge Farm toy which he dances to in the kitchen. And speaking of the kitchen, his favorite foods right now are scrambled eggs and blueberries. And he actually has a new kitchen trick, but I will save that for my next post.....

Hope you enjoyed a little update!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Meet Mrs. McGillicuddy

The last year I have had the privilege of watching my Tucson nieces for a few hours once a week while their mommy studies microbiology and chemistry and other such things on her path to coming a nurse. (Auntie Serene watches BB once a week while I work, so we "trade".) I usually just have my 3-year-old niece K, but summer break means that I also get to spend time with my just-graduated-first-grade niece B, and also means that we moved over to their house since that's where their playroom full of toys and books and movies is. I quickly found that I tend to enjoy our time most when I have an activity planned for us to do, like making a heart wreath for Valentine's Day or doing homemade worksheets on letters of the alphabet. But the best part of any time I spend with them is the time that I get to spend telling them about God's love for us in Jesus. In the spring, we read the Easter story from BB's Bible and discussed some questions B had about it, and then did an activity.

Currently, my nieces' favorite game to play is high school, and believe it or not, I get to be the teacher. My teacher name is Mrs. McGillicuddy, and Mrs. McGillicuddy assigns her students activities like "read a book and then draw a picture about it and present it to the class". I swear, the girls love this, and beg to play it every time I even just stop by to pick something up. Our latest activity stemmed from a comment from B about Japan and China being "kind of the same thing". I quickly explained how the world is divided into continents and countries and, in our case, states, and cities, all of which have differences and similarities. I then realized I could use this as a chance to have some great "school" subject matter, so a couple of weeks ago while BB napped after his swim lesson, the girls and I made passports, following these instructions, in preparation for traveling around the world by learning about it and praying for it! We are starting in Asia because B wanted to learn about China. My hope is that the girls will come away with a concept of culture, the bigness of our world, and God's love for all people. The girls got their first "stamp" in their passport last week when J earned his teacher name, Dr. Smart, by sharing about the 2 months he spent in Turkey. He showed them pictures and Turkish money and and taught them some history and read a Bible story that took place in Turkey (Ephesus!), and then they prayed that the people in Turkey would know God loves them and that Jesus died on the cross for them. This project has already led to many conversations with B about why Jesus died on the cross, and it is so encouraging to see God stirring her little heart.

I spent a lot of time with my cousins and aunts growing up, so it brings me much joy that BB is blessed to grow up alongside some of his cousins, and that BB and the girls will have similar memories and bonds with one another. I wish all of our family could be as geographically close. I am so thankful that I get to have an active part in these girls' lives, that they will grow and remember spending time with me, but most of all I am thankful that I get to spiritually invest in these precious souls and be blessed by seeing God work within our time together. I strongly believe that parenthood is a ministry and as I witness the bonds that develop from the time I get to spend with my nieces and that BB has with his auntie, I am thankful that we are not in this alone. God created us to live within families. He created aunts and uncles and grandparents, and gives me a chance to have a ministry in this role too, and it's a fun one, with silly names and forts and dress up and a chalkboard to doodle on.


Making and eating "prin" toast (french toast)


stories in a fort, dress up, at the U of A

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tarnish Be Gone! A Natural Solution

So yesterday at work I looked down and one of the little diamonds that surround the center stone had fallen out of my wedding ring.
This happened one other time and two stones had fallen out - but we have a warranty and the jeweler replaced them at no charge - I hope that's what happens this time too.

So I went looking for a replacement wedding ring while mine gets fixed, and I found an old ring I had gotten in Peru, but it was really tarnished, so I googled something like "natural jewelry tarnish cleaner" and read that you can actually use a paste of baking soda (oh the many uses of baking soda!) and water to remove tarnish! So tried it out and my temporary wedding ring is bright and shiny once again.

I had a couple more tarnished rings to do some before and afters for you with.
I actually like a little bit of a brushed silver look, but this tarnish is yellowed and grimy looking, more so than even shows up in the photo. And here they are after my cheap, easy, and natural clean:
And here's my temporary wedding ring:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wedding Fabulousness

A fun way I get to serve at our beloved little church is as the wedding coordinator. I have been the wedding coordinator for about three years, but have only done a few weddings, as for the first year there were no weddings, and now between home commitments and working half the Saturdays each month I am unavailable about as much as I am available. (When I signed up to do this it was pre-BB and I was going to share the position with a friend who is no longer able.) But our pastor is a true servant and always finds someone to sub for me.

It can be a lot of pressure knowing that I have a significant role in ensuring that the couple's big day runs smoothly (especially the very first wedding I did!), but I am enough of a Type A control freak to enjoy it, and I love getting to know the brides and seeing all of the creative ways people make their wedding their own. Yesterday I coordinated a vintage-inspired wedding, and I just have to show you a photo of the bride and her girls.

The bride's "something blue" were the fabulous blue suede platform heels, and the bridesmaids wore vintage-inspired dresses and red shoes. The Maid of Honor, the bride's sister, did the girls' hair in low side chignons with old-fashioned pin curls, and the bride topped hers with a birdcage veil.
So fabulous.

In addition to the fashion, I was head-over-heels for the live music performed by the bride's brother and sister. Both the poignant lyrics and the Swell-Season-like-harmonies were moving and pointed my heart to worship our Lord.

No Sacrifice

To you I give my life,

not just the parts I want to

To you I sacrifice

these dreams that I hold on to


Your thoughts are higher than mine

Your words are deeper than mine

Your love is stronger than mine

This is no sacrifice

Here's my life


To you I give the gifts

Your love has given me

How can I hoard the treasures

that you've designed for free?


Because Your thoughts are higher than mine

Your words are deeper than mine

Your love is stronger than mine

This is no sacrifice

Here's my life


To you I give my future

As long as it may last

To you I give my present

To you I give my past


Because Your thoughts are higher than mine

Your words are deeper than mine

Your love is stronger than mine

Your thoughts are higher than mine

Your words are deeper than mine

Your love is stronger than mine

This is no sacrifice

Here's my life

Praise God that it is no sacrifice to entrust our lives to Him, who loves us more than we can love ourselves and leads us to a full, abundant life in Him.