Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Fun Parent

Today I watched Peter play with the kids. He was throwing the football to them outside, and teaching them to play soccer. Then they all came inside and played hide and go seek, even Daddy running through the house. These are priceless moments in our busy lives, ones that we treasure. These moments can occur at any time, any day, and yet too often we let them slip away until we have completed our more urgent work.

It's hard for me (and I think Peter too) to find - no make - time to make the most of each moment. How often do I play with my precious children? I meet their needs, I go to them at night when they cry or need me, recently racking up an average of 4-5 hours of sleep a night with all the colds and sickness, but how often do I let the dishes, the laundry, my shower(!) go, and just let down my hair and enjoy these little ones? Not often enough.

I want to be a fun parent. I don't mean by that an indulgent parent, giving in to every whim or demand, but I mean one that loves to enjoy my children, and let them see it. Kids can tell the difference between scheduled fun and pure fun, just like grown-ups.

Tonight while I was cutting Peter's hair we were talking about this. We both agreed that we want to spend more "down" time with the kids, playing things that THEY enjoy.

With new year's resolutions just around the corner, you can bet this will be on our lists for 2009. Let's show our kids we love them, and let our actions confirm our words.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008


Here are a few recent kid quotes:

"I must ruuuuuunnnnnnnnn!!!!" - Caleb (age 2), as he goes tearing down the hallway;

"Let's sing 'Angels We Have Heard and Hide!'" - Daniel's (age 4) request during family worship time (he loves the "Gloria" part...); and

"If light shines in the water, does that make the light wet?" - Hannah's (age 5) random question as we drove down the street.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Officially Retired

It's been too long since I wrote updating the family news.

The biggest change is my dad has officially retired. After a long summer of prayer, struggling with Parkinson's Disease, breaking his back, and learning to cope with chronic leg pain, he decided that he would like to spend his "good" days enjoying life with my mom and family and friends, instead of in the office. It was not an easy decision, but I am confident he has made the right one.

With that decision in play, he called up another estate planning attorney to see if he could send a few cases his way. The man offered to not only take the cases, but to buy his entire practice! So, in short, he sold it - all. It's all gone. The files have all been moved to the new attorney's office, and the furniture has been moved as well. He is completing a few remaining projects at home, with my mom as his secretary. He seems much relieved, and his overall health is improving again. It's good to see him smiling so much, and even down on the floor playing with the kids.

This also means that after nearly 20 years, I am retired as well! While I will admit, I had a few tears over the whole change (it has been a way of life for me), after 4 children, I NEEDED to retire. It is timely for both of us.

On the other hand, Peter's practice is expanding. During the fall we came to the conclusion that he needed to hire an associate. He has now hired a very competant gentleman to come and work with him in his practice, beginning in January. Because my dad and Peter share an office, and our lease expires at the end of the year, all of this came together perfectly...because that's what God is in the business of doing.

We are loving having more time with my dad. My mom called me the other day and said that they had both slept well and slept in. "I think I'm really going to like retirement!" she said. And rightly so.

Hannah thinks she likes the whole idea too. The other day Peter went outside to the swings to kiss her goodbye before leaving for the office. "Daddy," she said "Why don't you retire? We could play together everyday!" His heart melted. He explained that is would be many years before he would retire. She suggested that he wait until he is 41. Wouldn't that be nice, eh?

A few weeks ago I asked my dad if he was excited about retiring. His response was telling: "I don't think excited is the word. Relieved is probably more accurate." He wasn't planning on retiring at this time, but it isn't all that earlier than he had planned, and he's in a good position to do so.

He plans on spending more time on working with the law school, as well as pursuing innumerable projects. He wants to keep his mind active, and his body healthy. Good goals!

I'm excited for him, and happy for me too. God is good, all the time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Speaking His Language

This morning Peter asked me "What are you doing today? Any plans?"

Who can explain the busy life of a mommy of 4 small children, including 1 infant, homeschooling, managing meals, household chores and cleaning, errands, working on the side, topping it off with Christmas and two birthdays?

I replied "I've got triple-booked, back-to-back appointments all day."

He immediately sobered up. "Oh."

Glad to speak his language...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Visit to the Dentist

Today I took Hannah and Daniel to the dentist. Hannah and I had our regular check-ups, and I thought it would be good to take Daniel so he could see what happened there before I made an appointment for him.

We had a long pre-talk in the car about not touching things, and how Buddy and I would watch Hannah first, and then they would watch me.

As soon as we arrived, they called Hannah first, and Daniel and I dutifully followed to watch from a distance. They decided to do x-rays first.

Hannah has not had x-rays before, and had she known that they were actually x-rays, would likely have protested loudly, as she has always had an unexplainable fear of x-rays. Daniel and I watched as they put the little film pieces in her mouth. Then she threw up. Not gagged, actually vomited...on her new sweater from Granny. She wasn't at all upset, but seemed rather impressed with the drama of the situation. The hygenist looked a little disgusted, and a little bothered at the setback. Daniel was more interested with the giant sailfin fish on the wall, so he wasn't bothered either. I pulled him over to the legos while the hygenist and Hannah talked and decided to abandon the x-rays for today.

Just then they called my name. Daniel and I went into the little cubicle area and tried to get him to perch on the dentist's stool and watch. He was very good and didn't touch anything, but the spinning stool was pretty exciting just by itself. When it was time for my x-rays, the hygenist asked Daniel to come out and back over to the legos, which he promptly dumped all over the main walkway of the office. It's a good thing they are used to kids...

When that was completed they began cleaning my teeth. I was trying to relax, knowing that my 4 and 5 year olds were roaming the office, hoping that they wouldn't fight or turn on any drills, and listening intently for some sound of them. The hygenist made some comment about "Careful, I don't want this sharp instrument to cut you..." when I opened my eyes to see Daniel hovering about 2 inches over my mouth, watching with wrapt attention.

"I'll bet you've never seen your mom from this angle!" the hygenist said. By then I was cracking up, the hygenist was continuing to work as if nothing were out of the ordinary, and Daniel wasn't moving one ioda. This only made me laugh more. I had to close my eyes.

Daniel spent the rest of my check-up right there, occasionally leaning down further to give me a gentle kiss. (I love my Daniel.) At one point the hygenist asked him if he'd like to be a dentist. "No," said Hannah, he wants to be a lawyer."

"A lawyer?" said the hygenist somewhat incredulous that Hannah would come up with such a suggestion.

"Yes, he has to be. Daddy is a lawyer, and so is Papa and Grandpa." she said logically.

Daniel had no comment. Apparently he'll be what Hannah tells him to be. He's a good sport.

From there we went out and got frozen yogurt together before heading home.

Now he can't wait to go back and be the one to sit in the chair and have the dentist look in his mouth (and then hopefully go out for yogurt).

What a nice start to dental work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Five Year Old Politico

Hannah has been soooo into the election. It started with her U.S. Presidents placemat at the breakfast table. She studies each portrait and asks so many questions that I just can't answer them all without looking things up myself.

Then it was in her reading. She gets the God's World Magazine for kids and they had a big election article that really captured her attention, together with an online exercise to learn about voting. She held her own elections about an issue important to her: whether cleaning your room should be a prerequisite to dessert.

On Tuesday, she got up early to go with Daddy at 6:45am to the polling place to see how we vote. She came back, sample ballot in hand (to keep forever) with a look of triumph and an "I voted!" sticker. Dad had cast his vote - for all the right people and causes. She further informed me that she will be able to vote in 2020. (Just a little bit off, but not by much.)

So when we turned on the T.V. on Tuesday night just in time to see McCain's concession, she almost cried.

She's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican already, with a few extra quirks.

  • She thinks that we ought to elect a conservative and then make it so they stay in office for the rest of their life;
  • She proposed that she and Daddy would go out after dinner on election night and FORCE the Republicans who had not already voted to do so; and
  • She thinks we should have a recount for John McCain, just to make sure.

She's funny.

We also found a great book at the library called Vote! by Eileen Christelow. It covers everything from a history of voter rights (she was horrified that only white landowning men could vote at one time), voter registration, volunteering to help with a campaign, fundraising, going to vote, and... recounts. This book is well done for children, on a topic many might not find interesting.

The final word came yesterday when Peter and I were talking about F.D.R. and how many years he had been in office. We were batting around 11 or 12 years, and then tried to recall who his vice president had been who had stepped into his place. We couldn't remember, so we asked Hannah. She promptly responded "Harry S. Truman!" like 'who doesn't know that?' Then we came downstairs and looked at her placemat. She was right.

She's amazing...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Big Radiant Smiles

One day she's going to think this is a less-than-flattering picture. But I love it. This is the first big radiant smile we've captured on camera. She is 5 weeks of joy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Watcha Need - the 1st Month

My sister-in-law is expecting her first baby. I'm really excited because I have never been an aunt before, and it's fun to add a baby to your family that you really have no responsibility for - you just enjoy them! Of course, having one of your own is better, but I already have a few of my own...

She recently asked "what do I need" for baby? Here is my two cents, and I'm hoping that a few of my friends out there will add their two cents to pass on with this.

Our pediatrician says that the first month, all they do is "eat, sleep, pee & poop." Since I have a 5 week old, I can attest that this is true.

Eat - They will eat seemingly all the time. If you're nursing, that means that you need to eat well and be hydrated. Beyond that, I really appreciate having a good chair to nurse in (a glider with an ottoman is my favorite), a Boppy to hold baby up (your arms get tired even holding a 7 pounder for hours each day), and lots of lightweight blankets and/or burpcloths for spit-up. It is also a good idea to purchase a small breastpump. I'm on my third one now, and I like the Avent Isis Manual Pump. It's quiet and efficient. I also have a Medela electric pump that is efficient, but it is incredibly loud! Both the models I mentioned are in the $50 range. You will also want a few bottles to accompany them. It is convenient if they are the same brand as your pump, but not critical. I also buy milk storage bags and freeze the milk for future use (like for when we go out on a date). You will also want to purchase the appropriate undergarments and some disposable leakage pads.

Sleep - When we had our first baby we were in a one bedroom apartment. We had no room for a crib. On top of that, I was on bedrest for months before she was born, and had virtually nothing for her. However, before she was born, a friend bought me a bassinette, and some onesies and someone else loaned me some baby nightgowns and two outfits. We managed just fine with these few items until we had a baby shower, about 3 weeks after she was born. All this to say, you do not have to have everything on the Babies'R'Us check-off list. You will need a safe place to have your baby sleep. If you don't have a crib, I would recommend that you invest in a nice crib that converts into a toddler bed, and later a double bed. I don't have one myself, but if I were shopping I'd choose this. You'll need the other items later! Another option is a Moses Basket. These, like bassinettes, only work until your baby starts rolling over and moving about, but they are very handy - especially the Moses Basket for travel. (The basket is not absolutely necessary...I've had babies sleep in blanket lined dresser drawers when we travel, and even on the blanketed and cushioned floor of a hotel closet. I just like the baskets...) Another good option to acquire is a Pack'N'Play. Baby can sleep in it at your house, grandma's house, the backyard, etc. and can use it as a play yard when they're bigger. Don't worry about the fancy sounds and dinglebobs. If you get it used, just make sure it is really clean because you can't take the fabric off to wash it.

Pee & Poop - I would recommend that you at least acquire a padded changing pad. These are foam filled and contoured on the sides. (But don't EVER leave them unattended - they will start to roll over when you least expect...) We set a pad up on the bathroom counter for years. I loved it because it was right near the sink! When we moved to our present house, none of the bathrooms would accommodate a changing pad, so we had to find a changing table. I found a very decent one for $14 at a baby consignment sale, and turned a closet into a changing room. You will also need a diaper pail. I like the Diaper Champ, because you can put regular kitchen size garbage bags in it (as opposed to the Diaper Genie, which requires special liners), and the fact that it doesn't smell horrific after 4 kids. One trick: when they start eating solid food the smell will amp up. You can purchase little diaper disposal bags that you stick the diapers in, before you toss them in the diaper pail. It wipes out about 90% of the odor. Diapers? Any brand will do, but I like Huggies. When it comes time for a bath, you will need baby soap, washcloths, and warm water. A baby bathtub is great, but don't spend a lot on the attachment to prop them up in the water - you have to hold them anyway!

Other things:

Travel system. You have to get around, right? I like the travel systems that have both carseat and stroller. I'm on my third now, and my children were happier with the Evenflo brand ones than Graco. I think the Evenflo carseats are slightly larger, which will last you longer. Hannah loved her carseat so much, that when she was really upset, we would let her sleep in her carseat instead of the bassinette! Make sure that you get a new carseat. Most other things are OK to be "gently used" first, but you need your carseat to be structurally sound and not outdated.

Bouncy seat/Swing. These are really nice for when you want to put your baby down, but don't want them always on the floor. (They do need some "floortime" though to develop muscles and learn to get around.) We recently got a portable swing and I LOVE it. It folds up into a decent box to transport it, it is lightweight, and no clicking sound. (The brand is Boppy.)

Blankets. Several different weights of blankets are helpful. They will get spit-up on, and your weather will vary. I also keep at least one in the diaper bag at all times.

Go register. Babies'R'Us and Target are good places. They will have checklists for you. Keep in mind that this is an INDUSTRY. They want your money! Fancy is nice, but not always best. Keep quality in mind!

That ought to help you through the first month. We're officially in Month Two now - which is much more fun. Our doctor calls is "Smile and Coo." You should see her smile...Precious, precious, precious!

OK Ladies, anything to add?

Saturday, October 11, 2008


This one is for Granny. Abby is growing and looks very much like Hannah! We can't wait for you and Grandpa to meet her.
If any of you did not get Abby's birth announcement in your email - and want to see it (complete with video of the other kids initial reaction upon seeing their new sister), let me know and I'll email it to you. I don't have everyone's email addresses...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Girls

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Actually, she WAS born yesterday

Meeting Abigail

Today my mom brought the kids to come meet their sister at the hospital. This is a tradition that I love to savor each moment of.

When Daniel was born, the Hannah's first comment was "Put it back."

When our Caleb came, the Hannah and Daniel were interested, but moreso because he was hooked up to lots of machines in the ICU and was really interesting to look at behind the glass bubble.

Now we have Abigail. Hannah is practically beside herself with pure joy. Daniel thinks she is really cute and wants to kiss her ALL the time. And then there is Caleb.

When Caleb walked in and saw me holding Abby, his big blue eyes welled up like giant blue-green tidepools. He didn't cry, but he wouldn't look at me or his sister. Finally, I sent Abby to my mom, and my very sober Caleb climbed into bed with me and just put his head on my shoulder and held me. Since we've come home he has studiously ignored her, and refused to kiss her goodnight, although he did condescend to say "Goodnight, Abby."

Poor Caleb. I knew he was in for a rude surprise. He understands about baby, for sure. In the meantime, I'm trying to find ways to make him feel special during this time too.

Precious Sleeping Baby

She has brown hair . . .

Hannah will be very pleased. She was hoping for a "twin"! Abigail actually does look very much like Hannah did. She has taken to nursing like a champ and is eating quite well.

More pictures

Abigail Katelyn

Here is a first glimpse of the newest little one.


8 lbs. 5 oz.
21.5 in. Long
Born at 8:34 p.m.
Mommy and baby are doing fine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Debra is in the hospital!

Well, after a few false starts, we are in the hospital and Debra's water is broken.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Sacraments (according to Hannah)

Today during Sunday school, I looked over to see Hannah writing in her notebook. She frequently writes things that are church related in her notebook, along with pictures of the sermon, etc. This was her list of the important things at church:

1. Lord's Supper
2. Baptism
3. Coffee time

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Madame Blueberry

I'm sitting at my computer right now watching a hawk in the tree outside my window systematically take apart another bird. I didn't know birds could spit, but this one is spitting out feathers everywhere as it eats. I wish I could get a picture of this, but I don't want to move... It's pretty amazing to watch.

That wasn't what I intended to write about. First, I want to say that I have no idea how to edit my earlier published post, so just grin and endure the mysterious lines that float through it. If anyone know what happened there, please fill me in!

Yesterday the kids and I checked out several movies from the local library. One of them was Veggie Tales Madame Blueberry. I really got a kick out of the kids' reactions.

Caleb thought it was hilarious. I don't think he got the point at all, but he thought the vegetables were very entertaining. (He also doesn't understand about the upcoming baby. When you ask him where the baby is, he lifts up his shirt and shows you HIS belly button. He's only 2!)

Daniel cried. He felt so sorry for Madame Blueberry losing all of her "stuff" and her house, that he just welled up with sympathy. He also cried through the silly song "His Cheeseburger," because it was sung to an emotional tune. He is my sensitive one, but he also wanted to watch it again today, and didn't cry at all the second time.

Hannah got it! I wouldn't have expected a 5 year old to understand the irony, but she got the lesson AND the jokes! She thought it bad for Madame Blueberry to be discontented and thinking that stuff would make her happy. She thought it hilarious that anyone would sing a love song to a cheeseburger. I agree with her, it is pretty funny.

Back to the hawk outside, it's really pulling on something now. I think I'll see if I can get closer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What We're Reading

After reading several interesting books this summer, here is a synopsis of what we're intaking...


* Winston Churchill's 6 volume History of the Second World War. I don't even remember the official name of this set, but it was meaty. I'm proud of him for making it all the way through! Let's just say that the sheer size of the books filled a grocery bag. He raved about Churchill's writing, and would on occasion me excerpts. He says, (and I quote) "Reading Churchill gives you a sense of perspective because the same conflict between a combination/acquiescence and taking a bold stand for what is right has been at the center of world politics at least this whole century."

* Islamic Imperialism, by Efraim Karsh. He hasn't finished this one yet, but has made a few favorable comments, such as "Fascinating. Interesting because it helps you get into the Islamic mind by tracing their history and giving you a sense of 'that's why they do that!'"

Peter with Hannah:

* The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S.Lewis. I didn't think Hannah would get into this series (she's only 5), but I was wrong! She loved it! Her favorite books were The Horse and His Boy, and The Last Battle. Not one to shy away from battle scenes, I guess.

Debra with Hannah:

* Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. This is a truly classic allegory of one's walk of faith from leaving a life of sin behind, to coming to the cross of Christ, to progressing in faith, to entering into God's eternal rest. We actually read the children's version, Little Pilgrim's Progress, which basically makes Christian, the main character, a child. We had some great discussions on this book, and now we're watching the video series, The Dangerous Journey, as a follow-up before we start Christiana's story.


* The Spiritual Power of a Mother, by Michael P. Farris. This book is good clean encouragement for moms, just in case you ever wonder if you are doing any good in a sometimes thankless work. I loved his realism, and would recommend this to any mom, especially any homeschool mom who is discouraged with her homeschooling, and thinking of putting her children in a structured school setting.

* Homeschooling Methods, ed. Paul & Gena Suarez. After starting my search for quality homeschool curriculum in the spring, I realized that I really needed to start with my approach, or philosophy of school. Let me just tell you, there is a HUGE curriculum market out there, and it is slick and competitive. I don't remember my mom struggling with her philosophy of school when she homeschooled my brother. It was just RIGHT. Now people have a multitude of reasons for it, and many of them are not spiritually rooted. This book does a good job of letting key proponents of 10 major approaches to homeschooling speak their best pitch to the reader. It covers everything from the classical method to the eclectic, Charlotte Mason to Carschooling (yes, that really is a "method"). After reading through the entire book, only the very last chapter rang a bell with me, and led me to read the next book...

* When You Rise Up, a Covental Approach to Homeschooling, by R.C.Sproul, Jr. This book is more about approaching homeschooling under the premise of discipling your children than a "how to" book. In fact, at times I wished he would have let his wife chime in and say "and this is HOW we do it." At any rate, it was full of vision about directing your studies around training up a child in the way they should go, using the model in Deuteronomy 6:4-7, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

The greatest thing that I gained from this book was that every moment from wake-up to go-to-bed is a teachable moment. We don't have to be sitting in the school room to be learning. There are many other "methods" compatible with this approach (ie. Charlotte Mason, etc.), but the point is that you are raising up disciples for God's kingdom, not the world's. Therefore, it doesn't matter to me so much if my child is well versed in Egyptology in elementary school, and can debate great Socratic thoughts in high school, so much as Do they love God? Are they loving each other as He has loved them? Now, I'm just trying to flesh this out on a day to day basis. It is much easier to make sure that we're getting through our math lessons on "schedule," than to take each teachable moment (like when somebody pops a toy on someone else's head), and use it to talk about the lovingkindness of God. There is no check-off sheet available to disciple your child, but this is what counts for eternity.

* Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, by Jennie Chancey & Stacy McDonald. I'll admit that the title is what caught my attention here. This book is all about recovering a vision for the importance of being a housewife/homemaker/domestic engineer, or I told the guys at the bank the other day, the Official Booboo Kisser. Here is an excerpt that I think summarizes the point of the book (p. 91-92)

"You see, homemaking is far more than housekeeping. We need to toss out narrow modern-day conceptions that are built around stereotypes and restore our vision based upon God's Word. When we do, we can begin to understand why the biblical family is an indispensible foundation stone of a healthy society - and what happens when that stone is removed.

You want to watch a culture self-destruct? Eliminate the fathers, make the mothers neglect their children, and teach everyone to forsake the weak, the needy, and the elderly. It has happened before. Just read your history. The Spartans declared that children were the property of the State, better trained by experts than by their own parents. The ancient Romans exposed unwanted babies and the elderly, leaving them to die in isolation. Euthanasia and abortion are not new, nor are the less distasteful sins of family disintegration and the welfare state.

These things are happening in our nation now, just as they have happened in the past when men and nations rejected God's ways. Man without Christ is lost. Families who reject the clear biblical commands for fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and children are doomed to follow the same downward spiral, no matter how "relevant" their counselors tell them they are boing.

God's Word raises a standard His people can confidently trust. This is why ancient Israel had strong laws to protect widows, orphans, and strangers. It is why Christians went against cultural trends in pagan Rome, rescuing babies and the unwanted from exposure and certain death. It's why they boldly took care of plague victims when pagen doctors fled, causing heathen kings to note their genuine hospitality and fearlessness. Vibrant Christian homes where families work together, contented in God's wise division of labor, can quite literally change the world."

And later on page 92: "The home is a tiny world - a cosmos all to itself. Do you want to rule the world? God has given you the universe of your home to manage. Your job is to make this small kingdom a picture of God's greater kingdom - a kingdom in which the subjects are in order and obey their king; a kingdom where beauty shines in every word and deed; a kingdom that welcomes friends and strangers with abundant hospitality and gracious care."

Wow. After reading this pep talk I felt like I had been empowered with the greatest task on earth! But all pride aside, I was refreshed in my calling as a wife/mother/Official Booboo Kisser/keeper at home. I recommend it to really any female.

* And the last book: A Christian Woman's Guide to Childbirth, by Debra Evans. I skimmed this book when I was pregnant with Hannah, but I really read it this time around. After coming out of my last childbirth experience with rather negative thoughts, I'll admit I've been dreading it this time around. With only 2 weeks to my due date, I think I've finally reconciled that yes, she's gonna have to come out - and soon. (It's a she, by the way!) What I appreciated about this book was coming away with the sense that God has made my body to do this task, hurt as it may! But that He will give me the grace to endure it all. After many tears and soul-searching talks with Peter, I think we've come up with a birthplan we can live with: if it is really fast (like Daniel was born REALLY fast) - Great! Roll with it all! I didn't even have time to be medicated with him. BUT, if it has to be long, drawn out, painful, and medically controlled/augmented, let there be pain relief! (Part of my problem is that I am terrified of needles...) At any rate, we're trusting God for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. The doctor already didn't think I'd go this long, so every day I think "Today's the day!"

And for now, tonight is tonight, I'm going to bed.

Buddy's 4th Birthday

Daniel the Buddy turned 4 a few weeks ago. He's such a delight. I can't even think of him without having the corners of my mouth turn up a little bit. He's just full of energy, enthusiasm, and a little bit of impish fire. I love this guy.

Here are a few photos to share of Daniel over the past few months.

Swimming at Brooke & Erin's pool

Teasing somebody! He quite frequently has something up his sleeve...

At Pump It Up for someone else's birthday party

Planting a dead fish in the corn in Daddy's garden (Hannah's suggestion for the ultimate resting place for her recently deceased pet fish, Goldie, after reading about the Pilgrims).

Talking, talking, talking! I think he's telling me about boating with Daddy.

Playing pretend. He received this great train engineer costume from Granny and Grandpa for his birthday. He is so thrilled to have something really "cool" to wear to play dress-up with Hannah! He LOVES trains.

Happy Birthday, my Daniel. God has shined His face upon you, and you are a delight to your mommy and daddy. We love you!!!


In an earlier post I had mentioned my dad's recent struggle with Parkinson's Disease (PD), and subsequent depression. I am happy to report that he is over the hump, and is stabilized as to both. He is also not experiencing the same leg pain. After many doctor visits, they have finally determined that...he was overexercising. I didn't know exercise could be a problem. People with PD are supposed to exercise regularly! At any rate, now that he's not working out so vigorously, he's doing well. God is so good. Thank you for your prayers.

But don't stop praying yet.

Now he's broken his back! Poor Dad. When he restarted the last PD medication, it was one that makes him very very sleepy. So sleepy that he pretty much had to take the entire week off of work, just to acclimate his body. One morning about 3 weeks ago now, he woke up in the morning to take his next medication. He went into the kitchen to get some water and then passed out. Along the way, he landed on his tailbone on the tile floor and gained two compression fractures in his lower back.

What I can't understand is why it took nearly 3 weeks to diagnose the problem. He has been enduring a lot of pain, and we've all been told (and believed) that this was just a bad muscle strain. Hmmmm....Compression fractures call for a different treatment that muscle strain too, by the way.

For his part, I will say that he's not complaining. I think he's just happy to know what is wrong, so he can know what to do about it.

At any rate, please keep him in your prayers still.

Monday, August 25, 2008


This weekend we celebrated two major milestones. My beautiful mother turned 60 on Saturday, and my parents celebrated their 40th wedding annivesary on Sunday. (In case you're wondering about the proximity of the dates, my mother did not want to be a teenage bride, so they waited to get married until the day after she turned 20!)

As part of the celebration, I wanted some "mom-time," so I suggested that we go to the spa. You have to know that my mom NEVER goes to a spa, or really pampers herself in any way, so I was pleasantly surprised when she was interested and excited. She wanted just a manicure to make her nails pretty, especially in light of her wrist surgery this week and the giant cast on her wrist, and I wanted a pedicure - because I can't reach my toes right now.

When we got there the ladies were all excited that my mom was there on her birthday and gave her the extra special treatment. When she revealed to all of us that the last time she had had a manicure was 40 years ago this weekend before her wedding, we all sighed and they really rolled out the red carpet treatment. She ended up with 10 lovely LONG nails! I was happy to just have a pedicure and watch her be spoiled.

When we got home, Daniel examined our fingers and toes and was quite concerned with my toes. I got a French pedicure, but the lady was feeling artistic, and painted a few little white flowers while she was at it. Daniel was really interested, and figured this is what you DO on birthdays, and then announced that when it is his birthday he will paint trains on his toes... Hmmm....

Yesterday we celebrated my parents 40th wedding anniversary. (We had earlier celebrated in July, when all of us went to the lake for a week, but this was the "official" weekend.) It seemed strange to me that just my parents, my brother, and my Nana having dinner. If they had been feeling up to it, and I wasn't so pregnantly huge, I would like to have given them a big party. It's funny that you have a big wedding at the beginning of your marriage, with lots of guests to support and honor you. And then you make it FORTY years, and you celebrate with a small family dinner party. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

I'm so grateful for my parents. My mother is so selfless. Even with her arm in a cast, she's trying to do things for me so I don't go into labor! My parents' marriage is an inspiration to both Peter and me. Forty years is - well, longer than I've been alive!

Congratulations, Mom and Dad, on your first 40 years together, and 60 years of life. I love you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Update on Dad

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who have been praying for my dad. He is improving a little bit each day. By last weekend he was "himself" again, although the pain and Parkinson's symptoms have yet to be worked out.

Thanks also for the emails and calls to check on him and us. Just knowing that others are thinking and praying for him makes such a difference. You just don't feel alone! Please keep it up. I'll keep updating...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Dark Valley

On Sunday our pastor was gone, and one of the ruling elders spoke about being a healthy church. One of the things he mentioned was that we need to be "real" with each other, and share what is really going on in our hearts.

What we're dealing with right now is my dad's health. I can't tell you how hard it is to see him suffer with Parkinson's Disease, and the accompanying clinical depression. One day he's the same dad that I grew up with, and the next is another story.

Last week he began having such severe side effects from one of his medications that something had to change. It must have been too much of a change, because he is really having a tough time.

Today Hannah and I were reading in a book called Little Pilgrim's Progress. It is the same story as Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, but it is told as if the main character were a child. Today Christian made his way through The Dark Valley (also known in the adult's book as The Valley of the Shadow of Death). Of course, Christian has to enter the valley just after he's finished battling the villian called Self, so it is night and very dark. He can't see ahead and one on side of a very rocky and narrow path are cliffs, and the other side a marsh. Above him there are rocks that appear to be closing in over his head. He hears voices saying disturbing things, and he isn't even sure if he heard them or he's saying them himself. At one point he hears a band of the Wicked Prince's soldiers coming right at him and he thinks it must be the end - but then they turn off the path and he never meets them. Christian gets no rest that night, but he walks bravely through the darkness praying all the while that the king will watch over him, remembering what he had read in the King's book "He shall give his angels charge over thee."

This is what my dad is experiencing right now. This dark valley is one of a hopelessness and feeling physical pain, in addition to his regular Parkinson's symptoms, and a sudden drop in Seratonin - sudden (and hopefully temporary) depression. Yesterday I spent the day working with him, and by the end of the day I was weeping. It is so, so hard to see him suffering!

But there is hope. You see, if we had not the watchful eye of our beloved King Jesus watching over him (and the rest of us as we try to help), we would be really and truly hopeless.

And so I ask you my friends, to please keep my dad, Russ, in your prayers. The doctor today said that they will be adjusting one medication at a time - for a week at a time, until they find the right balance. Medically, there is no quick fix. We are trusting that this is just a speedbump in his and our lives right now, and that in the end it may be all for the better - for it draws us nearer to our Savior. Please pray for strength for my mom too, as she is his helpmeet in every way. I need strength too, to support them and fill in the gaps as best as I can - and I'm having a baby soon too.

Back in the story of Little Pilgrim, Christian is alone, but then we read the following:

"And now little Christian was comforted in his loneliness by hearing the voice of a pilgrim who was repeating aloud some of the beautiful words that were written in the King's Book. It was too dark for him to see who the pilgrim was, but he hoped that it might be Faithful and that he would soon be able to overtake him. At last he called out to him, but although Faithful heard Christian speak, he did not know who might be wishing to stop him, so he made no answer. Still, little Christian knew that he was there, and he felt less frightened than when he had thought he was alone."

Will you be that person?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Know You're Pregnant When...

You are round enough that you wear your shorts backwards all day long and don't even notice until the end of the day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Creating Competition in the Transportation Energy Sector

I think I mentioned a few days ago that we heard Gal Luft speak at our local Lincoln Day Dinner. The basic gist of his speech (which he previously gave to a Senate Committee) can be found here:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Melting Pot

Seeing the pan on the stove and supposing that my wife had already filled it with water, I turned it on so that the water would be boiling by the time I had the corn ready to put into it. Coming inside a few minutes later, I found Debra and her Aunt Lisa staring at a pan that had melted onto the stove. There was a bunch of molten stainless steel (or whatever it is made of). Never seen that one before. Memo to self: always check to make sure there is something in the pot before turning on the burner.

Here is one of the pieces of molten stainless steel after it cooled.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flex Fuel Vehicles

We went to the Lincoln Dinner last night and they brought in a fascinating speaker--Gal Luft. His topic was energy independence and he is an advisor to John McCain on that subject. In researching the topic a little more, I came across the article linked to the title. The article was written in 2004 and predicted a run-up in petroleum prices (that we are seeing now), and analyzed alternatives to petroleum. Fascinating stuff.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Baptism Analogy, by Hannah

This weekend we had the pleasure of witnessing the baptism of our dear friends' daughter, Gabriella. Gabriella is 2 years old, and as we are new Presbyterians, we thought it would be best to talk about baptism at home first, since our children were more familiar with the Baptistic tradition of believer's baptism by immersion.

After careful thought and many questions, Hannah summarized her thoughts with a breakfast analogy:

"Baby baptism has sprinkling, like putting cinnamon on your toast. Believer's baptism means going all the way under the water, like a tea bag getting dunked."

At least she got the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Here are some of my favorite shots from our recent vacation to Donner Lake. We were celebrating my parents' 40th wedding anniversary (a little early). Congratulations, Mom and Dad, and thanks for sharing your vacation with all of us! We had such an awesome time, and hope you did too.

Monday, June 30, 2008

One More Thing

Unless you have a little boy in your life, you probably will not appreciate the following comment by our 3 year old son. He was trying to be stern and let her know that he was not pleased with her (she was bugging him). Then he leveled what he considered to be the ultimate:

"Hannah, you have caused confusion and delay!" - the words Sir Topham Hatt uses to admonish the naughty engines in the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daniel's New Hymnody

Daniel has been learning some hymns recently, but he hasn't quite got all the words.

When asked the other day what we should sing first, he excitedly asked for "My Faith Is Up To Me." Apparently he has some Arminian leanings...The real name is "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."

And then yesterday, he asked to sing "Be Thou My Television," instead of "Be Thou My Vision."

I love this guy...

Also, we just got home today from vacation. Imagine 5 hours in the car with our newest talker, announcing every single car on the freeway.

"Car. Car. Car. Car, Car, Car! Tuck!" Do you know how many cars there are on the road these days?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Merited and Unmerited Favor

Daniel met a certain potty training goal recently and was rewarded with his reward of choice...a train ride at the park nearby. So early the next morning Mom and I piled the kids in the car, and headed out to the park. When we got there, the ride section was closed, but we could see the train was pulling people anyway, so I went to go buy tickets. After all, the website said they were open. The ticket lady informed that the rides were closed unless you were part of a school. At this point I became the mother I never thought I would be.

Seeing Daniel bouncing at my feet, I had to spill the beans - the reason for our trip that day. "Can I make an appeal?" I asked, trying not to sound desperate. "We're here today JUST to ride the train. My little guy here just finished a certain potty training milestone, and this was what he worked for - a ride on your train." Seeing the gazillions of kids everywhere around us I continued "Can we just slip in with a group? I'm happy to pay!"

The poor girl looked hopeless, and replied that she was new there, and could not make any exceptions, as she wanted to "get in good" with her employer, but pointed out a man in the crowd. "That's my boss over there. If you want to make an appeal, go ask him." That was a fair answer. I can't ask her to overstep her authority, I thought, so I went the next step.

I went up to the man, just as I heard him tell the engineer to put the train away for the day. "Excuse me, sir" I said, "we're here today because my son right here just reached a very important potty training milestone, and the reward he's been working toward is a train ride on the train here. I checked the website this morning, and it said you were open right now."

The guy pointed to Daniel with a questioning look. I nodded back. He got down right at Daniel's eye level.

"I hear you're here for something special today, young man" he said. Obviously, this guy has children, I thought.

"YES!" Daniel shouted back "I did all my poopoos in the potty!!!" with all the unashamededness and enthusiasm of a 3 year old boy.

The man stood up and smiled. He motioned to the engineer to wait. "Well you certainly DID earn a trip on the train! Hop on board, we'll take you on your own personal ride!"

And so it was, that Daniel earned us all a free ride on the train that morning - at a time when the park was closed to the public (the website had not been updated) - by the park director.

Here are few photos to show for it.

This is Daniel running through the park before the train ride. This is pretty typical of his enthusiasm and energy level right now. This is Daniel on the trainThis is Hannah celebrating with Daniel

And this is 3 tired but happy children :-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ode to a Chicken, by Hannah

Another of Hannah's chickens passed away recently, this one named "Carol." Peter and I can't tell the chickens apart, but Hannah has got them all figured out, apparently by the markings on their wings and necks. She spends quite a bit of time each day talking to them, urging them to get better, take a drink, eat some food, stop pecking each other, or whatever she thinks would help the most at the moment.

At Carol's death, Hannah recited her own Eulogy for a Chicken, which went something like this:

Carol the Chicken,
Was a good chicken.
We loved her,
And she gave us eggs.

Carol the Chicken,
Was a good chicken.
She was kind to the other chickens,
And was my friend.

Carol the Chicken -
Died today and I am sad.
Carol the Chicken,
The dead chicken.

If a 5 year old could write poetry, this would be it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Peter vs. the Skunk

Early yesterday morning Peter went out to check the chickens. They have been sick recently, and two of them have died, so he checks them frequently.

Once out at the coop he saw something moving in the brush nearby and assumed that a chicken had broken out of the coop. So he started chasing the chicken...until it stuck it's black and white tail straight up in warning. Realizing the imminent fragrant threat he put his hands up and backed away slooooowly.

Later in the evening Hannah, Caleb and I watched the mother skunk from my parents media room while she taught her EIGHT babies how to dig for grubs. It was fascinating! Then we came home and I put them to bed.

Just then Peter called. He was stopped at the gate with Daniel in the car.

"Honey," he said "I'm stuck at the gate. I can't get in."

"What do you mean?" I said, looking out the window seeing his headlights just inside the gate.

"There are two huge skunks and eight baby skunks blocking the way - all with their tails up in the warning position!"

"Well don't get any closer to them. Your car will stink for a LONG time. Why don't you try honking?"

"I don't think it would help. They're practically deaf, you know."

"Yes, but what could it hurt?"

I hear a honk.

A second later, he proceeds down the driveway and walks in the door.

We're not quite sure what to do about this...Anybody know how to eradicate skunk?


Hidden camera moment recently:

Today I went to an all-day scrapbooking event. All day... 9am to 9pm. I didn't go for the whole time, but I did get a lot done!

When I went out to the car, I couldn't get the back hatch of Peter's Explorer to unlock. Frustrated, but remembering that my key doesn't always work in his car's doors, I went around to the front. I stuck my key in the door and the lights came on inside. I started to climb in and reach to unlock all the doors when I realized that someone had left something else in the car since I left it in the parking lot. How strange, I thought, examining the new carseats and toys. Then it hit me. This wasn't our car!

I quickly closed the door and gathered up my gear, and headed over to OUR car - two cars down.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poppy Seeds, and Other Things

The following conversation was relayed to me last night by my mom, who had been making lemon poppy seed muffins with Hannah earlier that afternoon:

Hannah: If I eat one of these poppy seeds, will a poppy plant grow inside me?

Mimi: No. What three things do plants need to grow?

Hannah: Water, soil, and sunshine.

Mimi: Well, you aren't able to get all three of those inside you, so it won't be able to grow.

Hannah: I know! I can drink a lot of water, eat some dirt, and go outside and hold my mouth open to the sunshine for a looooooong time!

What would we do without her?

In other news: Daniel has blessed me immeasurably by taking to potty training like a duck to water. I must admit I have been dreading the whole potty scene for too long, and finally decided that it was going to HAVE to happen before the baby is born. I tried him about 3 months ago, and he didn't seem ready. Now we tried again, and he is a champ. Hallelujah!!!

Also: Caleb has moved to a big boy bed! This is his third day, and I think he is finally sleeping peacefully. He has been soooooo excited that he just lays there grinning and can't sleep. The first night he tried to get up a few times before going to sleep, and was awake and wandering the house crying over his "abandonment in this house!" at 5:45 the next morning (we were all sleeping, of course), but this morning he came right up to find me - at 7pm. Both boys are thrilled to have an "all boys" room. Daniel is proud to be the top bunk resident, and Caleb is just proud to be out of his crib.

And last, but certainly not least: Baby (yet to be named) is a GIRL!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sick, but Happy

Late this week, everyone but Peter came down with runny noses and sore throats. Yuck! Nothing like a spring bug... I'm still not sure if it is allergies or colds, but Hannah is better today, so that is a step in the right direction! Even though we weren't feeling 100%, we spent most of the day outdoors, getting fresh air, Kleenex in tow.

Last year Peter gave up his beloved Saturday basketball game to spend the day working around the house and being home with the kids. It was his decision, and it wasn't easy. I used to refer to it as "Sacred Basketball," because nothing could interfere with it! Since then, we have loved having Daddy home on Saturday mornings. Here are some photos of our day:

Daddy spending time on the couch with Hannah. They are perusing her Schleich (little resing figures) catalog. I'm sure she is telling him all about Hanoverian mares, or something else he's never heard of. She is quite a horse authority these days...
Daniel got a lesson yesterday on how to hold a baby. This is Rachel, Hannah's beloved (almost) antique doll. I couldn't believe she was letting him hold it, but she was about a breath away from grabbing her back at any moment - just like a mommy with a real newborn. They have been practicing for when we have our baby. It looks like he's starting to get it! They both want a sister.

We let Hannah stay up and play outside in the afternoon while we continued our projects. (She's used to having some quiet time.) At one point, I sent her to her room for a time out. After a few minutes, I noticed that it was very quiet down the hall, and went to investigate. This is what I found...Sleeping Beauty. I think she went to hide in her closet, and fell asleep while she was waiting for us to come look for her! It had been a long day!
This is a shot of the boys right now. Hannah and Daddy went to church, but the boys and I were still under the weather. They are watching a video. Look how big Caleb is getting! Actually, it is just that he's sitting up straight and Daniel is slouching. See who's toes are sticking out?
More to come later...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Peter surprised me recently with an anniversary cruise to Mexico! My gracious parents took care of our children, while we went to San Diego, CA, Catalina Island, CA, and Ensenada, Mexico. It was the first cruise either of us had taken, and we had such a special time together. Here are a few photos to give you a glimpse...
The sunset on our first night at sea
Our first port to dock in was in San Diego. We toured the USS Midway, a retired Naval aircraft carrier. It was amazing to see. I have a new respect for our military! The amount of engineering involved in making a floating war machine was staggering to me. The men and women who serve on these vessels live in unbelievably tight quarters, with a strict regimen. They don't do it for the fun of it, I'm sure. The bunks were 3 beds high, and I don't think you could even turn over. There were probably 20 people to a room about the size of our master bedroom. Below is a side view as we approached the ship. The part sticking out is an elevator for moving the aircraft from the flight deck to below. It was, like I said, truly amazing...
This is me trying out the cockpit of one of the aircraft. It was tight quarters!

This is me on top of the flight deck. I'm standing in front of one of the types of aircraft that flew off the Midway. I think this one is a Tomcat. My grandpa used to fly something like this off aircraft carriers many years ago. While touring this ship I couldn't help thinking of him, remembering stories I'd heard about his experiences. They say that landing on the ship at night is one of the most stressful experiences. At night there is virtually no light on the deck, and you have about a 40 foot space on which to touch down, in what can basically be called a "controlled crash." There is a hook that the plane has that catches a cable to make it stop, so that it doesn't just go straight into the ocean. The pilot makes the landing at full throttle, so if they miss the cable they can take off again and make another attempt. All this takes place in a matter of seconds. I think they said that they used to have a take off or landing in as little as 4 minutes apart! And...all this on a ship that is going up and down and side to side at the same time. They said that the stress level on the pilots is lower when they encounter enemy combat, than when they have to land at night. Wow.
Me and my one and only! We took walks on the deck every night after dinner. The food was amazing. Not only was it delicious, it was served to me! I didn't have to cut up anyone else's food, Peter and I could carry on a conversation without any interruptions, and someone was standing there all the time refilling my water and offering me more bread! And...I didn't have to do one single dish. Now that's a vacation!!!

Our second stop was Catalina Island. We had planned to go kayaking in the ocean and then take a glass-bottom boat tour, but the wind was too strong for any small vessels to be allowed out of the harbor. Instead we went shopping, and rented a golf cart and toured the island. This is a view looking down on the city of Avalon.

Our third stop was Ensenada, Mexico. We went to this place called La Bucadora. I don't know what it means, but it was an outdoor market right on the cliffs of the ocean. Here is a Mexican "zebra."

Outside the market is something they call "the Blowhole." The tide was too low for us to see its wonders, but I understand that when the tide comes in the waves really kick up the side of the mountain there.

How could I leave out the dancing waiters? Every night they would have something special. On the last night they came out parading with Baked Alaskas on their heads!

Happy Anniversary, Dear! Thank you for a lovely, special vacation. I love you!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


We were walking past a car in a parking lot recently. The car had a cover which is sometimes used after a new paint job. Daniel asked, "Is that a blanket on the car?" Hannah replied, "They must have termites!"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bad to the Bone!

This is Caleb who loves to wear his sunglasses, even when it is dark out.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

USS Midway

The picture with a carrier closer is the Midway. The one in the distance is the new USS Regan. It apparently came in last night. I am not sure if the photo shows this, but most of the planes are on deck. The tour of the Midway was fascinating.


I am taking Debra on a short cruise for our anniversary. This is a photo of the cruise boat. We are currently in San Diego and toured the USS Midway this afternoon. I'll pst a picture of that when I get a chance.