Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This has been a busy month for Israel. He has enjoyed several parties (graduations, baby showers, Memorial day festivities, etc.) as well as a trip to Kentucky to see his grandparents,
family, and friends just waiting to ooh and ah over him. We thought you might enjoy pictures of some of the highlights. (If you're not one of those people who can't get enough of Israel, sorry for the abundance of pictures...those who can't get enough have let us know such.)

His "Granna and Papaw's" house was apparently louder than his....

...but there were "new," fun toys to play with. He loved discovering his mom's and uncle Brandon's old toys.

And there were fun people to play with, too! This is Sarah, Brandon's girlfriend and one of Israel's biggest fans.

Standing up was becoming his favorite activity while he was there, and there were plenty of people trying to catch him doing it. This is what it's like to be the first grandchild and first great-grandchild in a family. Israel's Granna and great-uncle Randall are taking pictures. You can't see me, his dad, his uncle, his Papaw, or his Nana, but they're all just watching him, too.

All the added attention didn't keep his dad from having his time, though.... Pat likes getting Israel to make all kinds of noises. This is just one of them.

Israel's busy-ness encompasses more than just his social calendar. On May 3, after seeing his friend, Owen, crawling about at a graduation party, Israel decided it was time to get serious about moving forward. He started crawling. There were many nose-dives at first, but now he is quite skilled at it. This is one of the earlier videos.

He has become even more social, if you can imagine that. He loves having people around and has been interracting more and more with his friend, Judah (Jake and Lauren's son) who is five weeks older than him. They love to both try to play with the same thing at the same time and to talk to each other and to play in their exersaucers facing each other and laugh. They eat together, play together, (used to sleep together, but that's impossible now...) go to the store together, laugh together, and cry together. So here is Judah's cameo.

We had a good deal of fun for Memorial Day. Israel enjoyed being in a nice yard and all the freedoms that came with it. (Okay, so he and Judah weren't really free to ride the "motorcycle" in the picture, but the moms thought it would make a cute shot.) Here are a few more shots from that day, because the day was perfect for taking pictures!

And, lastly, a combination of all of the above: Israel crawling around, with Judah, on Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On being human

This past weekend, Forest, one of our little green corollas, was loaded down with a mom, a dad, a baby, a dog, and a cat all headed from Muncie to Kentucky. What a ride.

We spent the weekend (including my first mother's day) with my family in Kentucky. It was beautiful -- a much-needed break in many ways. I had the breaks afforded me by all kinds of volunteer babysitters who like to help feed and entertain Israel. It was great. I think those cultures where families keep adding on to houses and everyone lives together have one up on us. I had all kinds of not-as-clear things to say about the experience, but really, whoever said, "Many hands make light work," said it best.

Pat and I took advantage of the free babysitting and the beautiful weather to go hiking. We realized I had not been hiking since before I was pregnant with Israel. That means it has been over a year! And we did not go camping last year, either! My soul had been malnourished from lack of mountains and woods. It is in those sorts of places I feel I come alive. I become contemplative. I enjoy small creatures (like the nearly-invisible one on my thumb here). I am happy in conversation or silence. I think about both my past and my future while enjoying every aspect of the moment I'm in. Life should be that way.

The place we visited was only about 15 minutes from my parents' house, a place called Raven's Run. It's a gorgeous place. We like to hike through the fields into the woods, down the side of something between a hill and a mountain, to the creek at the bottom by the shell of an old mill that stands near where the water breaks into all kinds of little waterfalls. A spider was swinging its web over the water when we were there this time; it should've been frightened. There were caterpillars everywhere and many had been stepped on along the paths. I took joy in picking them up, feeling their little legs tickle my hand, and putting them down in more appropriate places. Pat said this is the sort of thing that makes people think I'm weird. I said it seemed hypocritical to go somewhere to enjoy nature and then not to care if you killed all kinds of little animals while you were there. Pat decided to be weird right along with me. I knew I liked him.

I'm including on here a snippet of our conversation on our hike. Pat said I should, otherwise "it will just get lost in a bunch of videos and won't ever be used for anything." There is a certain turn of the path that inevitably makes us feel like we're in Lord of the Rings. This is the conversation that ensued. (Turn his up and turn mine down though...as you all know, I'm loud and he's kind of a mumbler.)

Pat: riding the line between a hobbit and a human

Lezlie: a human wishing to be an elf

It felt wonderful to be out and away from the normal life for a couple hours. (I can't imagine how great it will feel when we are able to go camping for a couple DAYS!) There was nothing to clean, no sounds of cars' stereo systems or squealing tires, no straight-lined structures (okay, expect for a little bridge here and there...). All around was the sound of water trickling, birds chirping, squirrels scampering, and leaves in the wind. I have been reading short stories by Tolstoy lately. In each of them, there is talk of the virtues of country life and the perils of life in the city with all its vice. While I disagree with the way his characters speak of the city as the cause of vice, as though one could not help being otherwise in the city, I can see his point.

There were a couple of times on our hike that I stopped to
notice a particularly striking tree that seemed to have died. I liked the structure of the trunk and was disappointed to find the tree standing there, dead. Both times, I was relieved to see leaves begin at the very top of the trunk, as though all hope was not lost and there was still life left in the thing. But upon closer inspection -- both times -- the piece of architecture tree was standing beside a thin, living tree that was growing up through it, causing it to appear alive when it was not. Being everywhere surrounded by other people's lives, sometimes I begin to be afraid that I am nothing more than an interesting piece of human architecture -- a shape that, while having a place among the goings-on, doesn't change or grow. When I feel myself slipping into the entirely-predictable mold I have made for myself, it is great to get away into the wild sights and sounds of nature and to be reminded that I am alive and part of a changing, growing world.

Pat said on our hike, "It feels like we belong here...like this is more our home than anywhere else." Perhaps, then, we really do live as "aliens and strangers" in the flat, urban landscape of Muncie with all its man-made sounds and problems -- perhaps more than we are sometimes aware. And that makes our times of retreat all the more special and wonderful. Just a short visit "home" to the woods and I come out feeling human and alive again, mindful that I am to grow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mama Mia!

After dating Lezlie for a month or so I realized that I couldn't continue to date her anymore. After getting to know her for a couple of months I told her I didn't feel like she could represent me to the world -- her values and mine weren't compatible. I thought (and still do) that your spouse is someone that the world identifies with you and the things that you are about. So we broke up and there was a year or so when we weren't together. Then there came that crummy day when one of my dear friends died, and I asked Lezlie to take an important phone call for me. She knew (although I hadn't yet realized it yet) that my asking her to do that meant that I thought she could now represent me. The longer I get to know my wife and the more that we grow together, the more I come to see that not only does she represent me well but she represents my intentions and hopes better than my actions themselves do. This blog, the way I see her raise Israel, and stay in touch with you folks inspires me to live more like her, and reminds me of the person who I want to be. So while I have a few moments this Mother's Day I wanted to tell all of you how great my wife and this first year mother really is. Thank God for my wonderful Lezlie Jo!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hi, there! It's Israel. I thought I'd show you (with my mommy's help, of course...) some of the things I've been doing lately!

I have really been enjoying seeing all my older friends come around the house. I love watching them play basketball outside. They are loud and funny and like to make me laugh. This is (from left to right) Elijah, my mom, me, Syloer, and Schaivon just hangin' out, having quesedillas for a snack. (Don't worry. I didn't eat one.)

This is me in the bathtub. I love playing in the water so much my mom lets me do it every morning. I like to chew on the rubber ducks and suck on a wet washcloth. I think the drain is really cool and I also like to lay on my belly and splash around. (Mom gets really vigilant when I do that, though, and I don't know why.) You can see more about my bathtime in this video. I'll tell you all about it.

In this next video, you'll get to hear the new song I'm coming up with. I think I'll call it, "Boom, Boom, Chink, Chink." I took a long time this morning coming up with it; I'd bet I tinkered around on it for at least 15 minutes!

And, in this final video, you'll get to watch just how well I chew food up now. This was the first time my mom finally realized I could chew. (Did she tell you I'm getting in two more top teeth? That'll make six teeth total. I'm very good at addition.) I had to be very obvious about my chewing ability at first, but now that my mom gets it, I can mellow out. She thought this first time was pretty funny, though, so we agreed to put it on here for you.

By the way, I now think that tofu is my favorite food.

Well, I guess that's it for now. It was good to be able to catch up for a little bit. I hope you enjoyed our time together! Bye-bye!