Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sweet little boy

Israel is such a sweet little boy these days. Here is just one example. I couldn't wait to post. Even though the quality isn't the best in one respect, it certainly is in another!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Waking up in Red River Gorge

This weekend, Pat and I celebrated our fifth anniversary! Wow. We combined milestones and had Israel spend his first night at his Granna and Papaw's without us. It was a little harder than I had anticipated to leave him and drive and hour and a half away to the middle of Red River Gorge, but the report is that he was even better behaved for his grandparents than he is for us at home. He had a blast -- went to bed and woke up happy every time!

Red River Gorge is our favorite place to wake up celebrating our anniversary; we have gone there four out of five years. Last year, we didn't think Israel was old enough either to go camping or go without us.... Next year, we will have a six-month old, so we will miss the Gorge again. That meant this year was to be cherished. We went on a hike on part of Rough Trail. (That's really its name.) There were parts of the trail that lend themselves easily to our joke: "Geez! This is a rough trail!" It was challenging for a pregnant woman, but the sites and the company made it all worth it. We took a nap (meaning Pat took a nap and I laid there resting) on the forest floor on our way. The ground there was even more comfortable than our camp site!

This is a rough trail!

Under one of the many rock formations along the way.

On our honeymoon in Ithaca, New York, we promised ourselves that we would return there on..oh...say, our fifth anniversary. It's strange, the way we project ourselves into the future. It felt like we were a fledgling new couple at the time, at least financially, which seems to be the primary way the world measures your stability. I figured that by our fifth year, we would be much more "stable." Pat and I both thought, at the time, that we were spiritually ready to conquer the world as we met new and interesting people in Ithaca, including a hitch-hiker we picked up who blessed us before being on her way. We felt like our whole life we would give and receive blessings from all kinds of people wherever we went (and "wherever" had a broad scope, then, it seemed). While I hope that Abrahamic promise may still prove to be true, (and I certainly can count blessings that have been given to us along our way so far) life at five years of marriage doesn't look quite like we had expected, though we also aren't sure what we expected. Maybe we thought we'd have careers. Maybe we thought we would live in a house that wasn't half undone. Maybe we thought we would be doing something really cool and ministerial, like planting an urban church community.

Life has a way of being what you thought it might be while at the same time being nothing like you'd expected.

If you would've told us that we would be a helping start a church in an urban neighborhood, working with a racially diverse group of youth and alongside a group of people who had committed to the same task for years to come, we would've found that a wonderful way to live. And of course, we knew there was an Israel McCrory in the picture at some point, so why not now? And here we are, doing exactly the work we thought sounded ideal and with not only Israel, but a cute, healthy, babbling, walking Israel and his sibling on the way! Yet our life sounds more exotic when described in a sentence than when you're mowing the weeds in the yard of your urban house or doing the dishes dirtied by the youth who just left your house. I wonder if ministry and models have that in common: they're glamorous from a distance, and less so when you wake up with them every morning. But life is all about what you wake up with every morning.

So Pat and I wrestled somewhat with the way we thought things should be at this point while we were in the Gorge. It isn't Ithaca, but it is a beloved, familiar place to us (and it doesn't cost a plane ticket to get there). We weren't hiking near waterfalls or going to the great farmer's market there or eating at one of the MANY ethnic restaurants Ithaca had to offer, but we did hike in the mountains and we did go out for Thai food a couple nights before with our good friends Josh and Michelle (and Heron, their little one). So we are where we hoped we'd be in some ways. And in many ways, we haven't even begun to dive into all the possibilities in the people around us. There is more to explore in the exotic? Muncie. Sometimes it takes going away to realize it.

We read our vows to each other on the cliff where we have re-read them times before. I am glad we wrote them as things we asked God to help us do rather than things we promised we would do, because the things you have to do to have a good marriage are too hard to be able to do on your own. Had we not prefaced our vows with words like, "I call upon God to help me to...," I would feel like a miserable failure every year. But instead, we renew our call out to God to help us love each other and live our life together well, in service to other people. And we read over some of your notes to us that you wrote at our wedding. Some notes are from people who are far away; others have since passed away. They serve as a reminder of the "cloud of witnesses" who cheer and encourage us through this life. And somewhere between the calling on God and the voices of people who have gone before, or are coming after, or are going alongside us, we are renewed to go and wake up embracing our life for another year.

On the cliff where we renewed our vows and ate some good camp-food dinner: Pat, Lezlie, and "Peanut", 98 days big.

Friday, September 19, 2008

family night

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Cold rockin' it on a Friday night. Israel was getting bored with just walking.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Israel's first birthday

Israel's birthday has been...SWEET! I had not intended for Israel to be overwhelmed with the typical sugary-sweetness of the typical birthday all of a sudden just because he turned one, but things don't always go according to a mom's theory about things. Israel didn't seem to mind one bit. So here is the low-down on the people, the food, and the new things Israel has enjoyed for his first birthday.

We wanted to stick with things and activities for his birthday that Israel would actually enjoy, but that can be a little tricky when he is pretty happy just greeting his dog in the mornings. On his actual birthday, we spent the afternoon with Judah and his mom, who you may have met in previous posts. We all ate lunch, played in the living room, and went on a bike ride together. That evening, our families went to Puerto Vallarta, a local Mexican restaurant that Israel has enjoyed in the past. He likes Mexican food (shares our fajitas and salsa and gets his own guacamole) and the music that plays in the background. We also thought he would like the employees singing to him and clapping. You can see the results of our experiment here:

His unhappiness didn't last very long, so don't worry. He had the sympathy (the "aw...'s" at the end of the video make that apparent) of the whole restaurant, and besides that, when the "noise" was over, he was left with a tortilla covered in honey, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream in the shape of a number 1. I had not expected a restaurant to present a birthday dessert to a baby (though I should've known better by the number of people in the general population who ask if they can give him lollipops...). He dug right in (with a little help from his dad).

We also had fun opening a few presents for him. He got several cards and a book on his birthday. He liked pulling the cards out of their envelopes and being allowed to play with them.

He has since received several more presents and has liked them all. His favorite thing, though, has been the mylar balloon we bought him. I've decided it might be "the" gift for a one-year-old. I hope he stays this easy to please. He has a great "I find this interesting" sort of face he puts on when exploring the new things and will often point at them and say, "daaa....." in a tone that lets you know he's patiently explaining the thing to you. He got his first puzzles and likes taking the pieces out of their spaces, if not putting them back in. He also got new clothes that we will all appreciate in future pictures when the weather gets cooler.

On Sunday, we went out to lunch with the grandparents (minus Grandma Terri and Grandpa Jim, who couldn't make a drive from Arizona in time for lunch...) and came home to enjoy carrot cake. Our dog, Sophie, seemed to have enjoyed ten of the twelve cupcakes, but we had a couple still left when we returned in addition to a small cake. (How nice of her to share!) Israel liked the small gathering and REALLY enjoyed the cake his dad had made. He ate nearly the whole cupcake in ONE BITE! (His dad was able to take a little of it away from him.) You can see some of the action in the video clip at the end...it took him too long to chew up what he had bit off for me to record it all. Suffice it to say it was more of the same for at least a minute or two. Watching it reminded me of one of those nature videos where a snake swallows some poor creature three times the size of its mouth.

While not officially part of his birthday celebrating, Israel has been honing his walking skills and wanted to show them off to you. He goes all kinds of places using only his feet now and can walk the length of living rooms that aren't as long as ours. Tune in again for more of Israel's sweet adventures!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Big Stuff!

It has been an incredibly long time since my last post! There are three reasons: 1. I've not been feeling well until recently, 2.I wanted to wait to make a really cool post after our trip to Seattle, and 3. we had lost our camera for several weeks. But now we have found our camera (what a crazy story that is) and we just returned from Seattle last night after sharing our great news with them in person, and I'm feeling better now that I'm through my first trimester of our second pregnancy!

That's right. You'd better read my writing closely.

So...surprise! We could not have been more surprised by the news ourselves. Israel seems like he couldn't care less and I'm glad he will just grow up thinking his sibling has always been around. They'll be about 18 months apart, with the youngest being expected to arrive mid-March 2009. So that's pretty big stuff.

Israel is also pretty big stuff these days, and is taking his first steps. He took two in Zack and Gala's house in Seattle and four in the Las Vegas airport on the way home. Israel will turn a year old this month and that is craziness to me! Wow. There just went a year...!

We had a good time in Seattle. The weather was unseasonably cold (hence the sweaters we bought while there...) but that did not stop us from enjoying being outdoors.

This first group of pictures is from Golden Gardens -- a nice park not too far from Zack and Gala's. We parked at the top of the VERY LARGE hill and hiked down and back up. The stairs pictured are not nearly all the ones we had to climb. I consider it my initiation back into active life after a first trimester of laying in the recliner. What an initiation that was! (Regardless of the way it seems from the last picture, it really was quite cool...I had just been working that hard!)

Our other and more major trek outdoors was with Drew and Sara, who took us to the Soqualmie Pass to hike up part of a mountain to Annette Lake. The scenery and the conversation were beautiful, though the weather was not. The hike took five hours and we all worked together to make it carrying Israel, a diaper bag, and a backpack. (I mostly just carried "Peanut.") It was probably our favorite day in the Northwest. Maybe we'll go back when we don't share part of the trail with cold rain. We all (including Israel) felt like "more than conquerors" after making it back to the car -- a good feeling!

We enjoyed all kinds of food while we were there. With Israel napping between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, going out to eat was our main outing each afternoon and evening. Our favorite place was probably a really small Mediterranean restaurant called Gorgeous George's. George was a great host/cook who is from Nazareth and loved Israel's name. We had falafel and a gyro and they were both amazing, both in taste and size! It will likely take our taste buds awhile to adjust to Indiana fare as we enjoyed Cuban sandwiches (that made your lips hot from eating them), pizza approved by the government of Naples, and Thai food that was nothing short of amazing in its own rite. There was one little spot that deserved a second trip called Molly Moon's -- an ice cream place that makes its own ice cream and waffle cones in-shop. They have the traditional flavors, which are surely really good, too...but Pat loved the salted caramel ice cream and I can't even conceive of a better taste than the balsamic strawberry I had. I would use pregnancy as an excuse to eat a pint of it a day! I wish I had good pictures from that place....

Israel was a trooper and loved the different foods as well. He ate some of everything we did (except the ice cream), but he especially liked my Thai dish, which I thought was too hot for him (even though we do give him spicy food pretty regularly). We offered him more tame things during the meal, but he kept reaching for the tofu and bamboo shoots from my "summer heat" dish. Ah, I love my son! We both agree to claim him, if only for his taste in food! This is Pat in the Thai restaurant, me eating a Scandinavian pastry, and Molly Moon's.

We loved taking in the colors and fun foods at the Pike Place Market. The booths were beautiful!

Pat really liked the fresh figs we bought at this stand. Once again, beauty abounds.
Our favorite taste from the market: fig balsamic vinegar. I liked it even better than the blackberry kind they had here. If you know about my love for blackberries, you know how much that means. This place was great! This guy would shout at all females (regardless of age) going by: "Excuse me, young lady. Would you like to try some chocolate pasta?" We did. It was good!
As great as the restaurants were, the coolest meals were those shared with friends. We shared a meal with Josh and Amanda Sandoz at their house (which we don't have pictures of, since our camera was stolen on the bus onthe way to their house. Long story....)
Our last night in Seattle, Jeff and Chris Ramsdale (pictured immediately below with not-their-son Miles) graciously hosted a slew of former Indiana folk at their house for dinner and tea. I wasn't able to get pictures of everyone who came, but this will give you an idea of what it was like. Believe it or not, there were several of our old Muncie friends who weren't able to make it!

Amanda Sandoz with a great face. (That's Sue Weinraub in the black hoodie.)

Romeo Martinez.
This last picture brings back so many fond memories. We stayed in Zack and Gala's house, but they had just left to come to Indiana the day we left for Seattle. So we stayed in their empty house, which was SUCH a blessing! We took advantage of the nice space by hosting a dinner of fish tacos made by Pat and Drew (a duo in the kitchen from years and years back). This is one for the books. Around the table, here are: me, Pat, Sara, Drew, Lori, Susan, Matt, Miles, and Israel.