Friday, August 28, 2009

a time to tear down a time to build, and a time to need more time

So many things have happened since my last post. Monumental things. Things public and things private. Great things and terrible things. The terrible things are very difficult things happening to people all around me that are on my mind every day. I wish I could unburden them to you. But I am glad to be able to share some of the great things with you! One such thing is that the Dream Club our church purchased has been torn down. We were priviledged to be able to watch part of the process and the building you see in this picture is now just a...well...a nothing. There is nothing left. We met with contractors who are volunteering their time to help our church build a new community center on this site this week. We hope to build this fall. It's a great transformation to be even a small part of.

More monumental news: Pat is now a full-time college student, studying to be an elementary school teacher. We are proud of him and very busy as a family these days. We're one week in and I'm reminding myself that we are committed to this for a season. For a season. I have great hopes for Pat in this process and am excited that he is learning how to do what he already does better (teaching kids in our neighborhood) and that his life experience will add to his experience and his classmates'. He is also still working part time to make the money not offered to us by student loans. You can pray for us in our great juggling act.

Other good news: the kids are great. Israel can talk. Talk. About everything. He runs a constant narrative of his life and recollections of recent events. If he likes something, he will talk about it for days and weeks. I never cease to be amazed at the things he comes up with. Last night, he said he had stinky feet and then asked his dad to smell them. I'm posting a couple of videos of recent Israel activity. This one was taken this morning. I was surprised at how well he can count (when he is not asked to do it; he will not count much on demand).

Every day, Israel pretends to talk to various people (and stuffed animals) on the phone. A "phone" can be anything at all, from this hand-held game to a grocery receipt. Today, he "talked" to our friend's dog on a chestnut. I suppose phones do come in all shapes and sizes these days....

Eden is changing. At five months of age, she is almost out of size newborn onesies. What she lacks in size, though, she makes up for in speed. While she has not mastered crawling, she can do a determined belly scoot to nearby toys and other objects and she is also trying to sit up on her own. This picture is her current version of "sitting up." She is quite independent, our little Peanut.

While we are busy, we are grateful to be a healthy family, sharing life with some amazing people, being spurred on to do good things.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My, how they grow!

When we left for vacation, we had just begun to see the fruits of our labor in our garden. When we returned, we found tomato plants taller than Pat lining the wall of the "backyard house." We found salad greens that, though admittedly way behind, were salad worthy. We have picked eggplant and zucchini and spinach. Our Kung Pao chili pepper plants are burdened with their fruit and our tomatillo plants have turned into enormous bushes! So much can happen to a garden in the course of 10 days.

So much can happen in a toddler's life in the same span of time. When we left Muncie, Israel was saying all kinds of nouns -- mostly one-syllable nouns, though there was the occasional three-syllable word, like "graduate" or the one-syllable words made into two syllables, as in "too-wuck" for "truck." If there was a gradual transition, I did not notice it and one day at the lake, Israel came in the kitchen and said, "I wanna have a goldfish!" Really? Is that how this happens? I mean, the sentence sounded more like, "Iwaaah hannuh gofiss," but come on!

Returning home, we can have conversations. Of course, when a story gets really complicated, he just lists nouns and verbs until I guess what he's talking about. ("Habirday Judah! Bird, bird, peeduhbuddy!" means, "I'm remembering that I made a birdfeeder out of a pinecone, peanut butter, and birdseed at Judah's birthday party two days ago.") We talk about things he remembers. We do impressions of the noises things make. We talk about what we want for lunch and Israel can tell me, spontaneously, "I like it! I like it! Thank you, Mommy!" Admittedly, most of Israel's sentences are along the lines of, "Have some more _________. Please?!" but that is quite a bit better than trying to figure out if he really wants the banana, banana, banana or if he is just letting you know he sees it.

One of the cutest things he has done lately is read to me. He went into his room for story time, had me come in, said, "Clifford. I read it. Sit, Mommy," and proceeded to "read" the book to me. He described the pictures, as I might possibly expect, but he also recalled some of the dialogue on the pages. This was quite a paradigm shift for me in how I relate to my son. I have since tried leaving out some of the words to the Dr. Seuss book, "Put Me in the Zoo," and he can fill them in for me. Crazy. He repeats cute rhymes, sometimes only after one hearing, as was the case Pat told him, "Too bad, so sad, call my dad," which Israel thought was hilarious.

One of his favorite things to say lately is, "I proud." He is proud because he sometimes initiates going to the potty. I am proud, too, and so is his dad, (and so is Seesa and Bandi and many others) as the litany goes every time. There are been MANY times this week when he has called out the precise function for which he needs the aid of a toilet and then gone and performed that function upon request. He also will tell you when he already did such-and-such and will tell you that it is "yucky." I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the beginning of the end of diapers and that the road is not long from here to there.

He is growing faster than ever before.

Eden, meanwhile, just turned five months old today. She is still a very pleasant baby who smiles an ecstatic, toothless smile just because Pat or I look at her. She likes to give Israel kisses and I've started letting him give her his not-perfectly-gentle hugs because she likes it. She is still small and can still fit into her size newborn shorts. We will have her 4 month check-up next week to see how much she weighs and if I'm exaggerating her (lack of) size. (We are behind on lots of things these days....) But even she is growing up fast. She just successfully ate her first "bites" of baby cereal last night. She rid herself of her bink months ago, but she has taken to sucking on her two fingers, and sometimes her bottom lip, which remains chapped because of it. She doesn't mind, though, and grins if you smile and take her fingers away. She is full of energy, such that she does not even entertain help trying to sit up. There is far too much to do to be that still. Instead, she is trying to crawl. While it may still be awhile, she seems like she may have it figured out any day now. Just this evening, she went at least three feet backwards trying it out. (You'll be among the first to know when it happens.) She also loves it when someone helps her to stand and jump. When jumping, she always seems to say, "YES! Just what I've been waiting for!" even if she was perfectly content rolling on the floor just moments before.

Here are a couple of videos of the kids in action. First, Israel and his beat-boxing routine...

...And then Eden showing you how she tries to crawl. This was take 27, it seems, as the video kept not saving and then she kept spitting up or making some unpleasant noise at the end of a "take". (I need to learn how to edit video.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

packing in a vacation

Oh, vacation! I miss it already. This was our first attempt at a vacation with two kids and, all things considered, it went well. We are resigning ourselves to the fact that parenting never goes on vacation and...perhaps that is enough on that topic. I don't like to dwell on it. However, the up side of having your kids with you on vacation is that kids know how to REALLY enjoy being away from home and it's fun to watch them.

In addition to the kiddos, we had our pets along (which is actually easier than having someone care for them) and a booked itinerary. I hate a vacation loaded with things to do, but these were all good things that I did not want to miss. The vacation itinerary looked a little something like this:

Friday -- pack like mad, clean the whole house, and vacuum yourself out the door (remember that we did this...) in the evening. Arrive in Kentucky at your parents' house after bedtime.

Saturday morning -- get ready and head to the park to meet some of your old classmates for the precursor to your 10 year high school reunion that evening.
I did not go to the reunion for several reasons, but was glad to see a few good folks at the park. Only about eight people were there and I did not see some I had really hoped to see, but the small group was great, as I don't like large groups of people.

Saturday afternoon -- go to Sarah's personal shower. (Sarah is now my brother's wife, for those who don't know.) Laugh a lot and play a game involving cherries and whipped cream.

Saturday evening -- get treated to dinner at BD's Mongolian Grill with your parents and shop until dark.
At BD's, Israel ate squid for the first time and liked it. He tried chewing it several times, but in the end, he swallowed it whole -- tentacles and all. And he smiled. The shopping trip was for a dress for me to wear to the wedding. Mom loved taking me out, I think, which is a huge blessing. She may have fancied herself a co-host of "What Not To Wear" when she looked at me in my cute maternity tank that Pat said looked fine and said, in an I'm-putting-this-nicely voice, "I don't think you need to wear that anymore." I traded that tank for a cute dress to wear for the rehearsal dinner. This left me still without anything to wear for the wedding, but bedtime for the kids had come and gone. While I hate shopping, I love getting new clothes, and my mom is my favorite person to shop with.

Sunday -- skip church, pack up our stuff, and head to Tennessee, which was the official "vacation" part of the week. What is in Tennessee? Nothing. And that was the point. We like to get away from everything and my great-grandparents' old house by Cherokee Lake is great for that. It's outside Bean Station, which you likely have never heard of, and that also is the point. There was a little more work to do at the lake house than at other resorts, as the mice tend to care for the place when none of our relatives are visiting there. Arriving after bedtime after a drive too long for an almost-two-year-old I said, "We're here!" Israel looked out his window in the dusk and said, "Yay! I like it!" That summed it up pretty well.

Monday -- get up, see the cows. This was the case every morning at the lake. Israel loved them and so did Sophie. Pat and I pretended to have a real homestead and started laundry and cooking some meat we were able to bring with us (ah...sausage and bacon!) and tried to work on the machinery. This really just meant the riding lawnmower. I mowed part of the (big) yard before it died. Pat took its broken wheel to a shop in the next town and we left it at the bottom of the hill for the night and enjoyed the lake with the kids. Israel, it turns out, is afraid not only of getting his head wet in the bathtub, but also of getting his feet wet in a large body of water. We watched a beautiful sunset and went to bed late.

Tuesday -- get up, see the cows. Get the kids ready to go to town to get a new wheel for the mower. Discover that the people have not even looked at the wheel. The kids are asleep, so drive 2 hours to the place I grew up.
Pat and I have not been back to Benham/Cumberland/Lynch for years. It is a small mining town (or series of three towns) in a valley. I feel at once completely at home and a stranger there. (There is a growing list of places that give me that sort of feeling.) We had a good time visiting my Grandma and Aunt Shirley and even dropped in on my "aunt" Pam. It was surreal taking my children where I lived when I was their ages -- seeing the home I went to straight from the hospital (pictured on the left), the school where I went to kindergarten, the mountain I used to climb, and the road I used to walk to school in third grade. Maybe it's this way with all hometowns, but I kind of doubt many other places tug on people in the way my town does.

Wednesday -- get up, see the cows. Get the wheel for the lawnmower fixed, discover it now also needs a new spark plug. Give up and go sit on the swing and watch Eden sleep under the walnut trees. Pick blackberries out in the cow field in the pouring rain as we did a few years ago. Discover it's not nearly as romantic with a screaming toddler who does not like to play in the rain, apparently. (What?!) Dry off, sleep. Spend the evening at the lake again, watching the sun set behind Clinch Mountain and skipping rocks.

Thursday -- get up, see the cows. Pack and clean up the old "homestead," thinking you'll also have time to enjoy the lake once more before leaving. Realize that you've already pushed nap time too far and throw that thought out the window. Say good-bye to the cows (when Israel woke up in the car hours later, he was still saying, "Bye, cow.") and head to Kentucky. Get there just in time to have dinner out on the deck for my mom's birthday.

Friday -- go get a pedicure with the bridal party. Shop until you find a dress, two pairs of shoes, and two sets of jewelry for the wedding festivities. Find a dress to match the wedding colors for 40% off, comfortable dress shoes on CLEARANCE, clearance jewelery and a Christmas gift while you're at it. Go home hungry and proud. Eat, get ready for the wedding rehearsal.
If you've ever been in your own wedding, you know there is a lot that happens right at the end. There are all kinds of last-minute preparations and people you have known at various stages in your life converging at once at a crazy emotional time. The same is true when your brother gets married, only you aren't having to go through the same emotional trauma yourself. It is enough to watch others go through it. I was glad to see everyone there. Hopefully my quick smile before running off to find my kids communicated that effectively. I always wish there was more time and longer naps.

Saturday -- attend your brother's wedding. (This could serve as its own blog post, I'm sure, but I'll be brief.)
Israel was the ring bearer and I was all anxious about how my son, who does not like being touched by people with whom he is not intimately familiar, would handle holding a girl's hand and walking down an aisle in front of a lot of people he does not know...half an hour after he is supposed to take his nap. I discovered that starving him (more than I intended...oops!) and telling him I have a snack waiting at the front of the church worked very well. I was so proud of him. He was so proud of Brandon and Sarah and kept calling to them during the ceremony, despite the food in his mouth.

Most memorable moment of the ceremony: the look on the face of the father of the Bride. I've never seen someone *not cry* like that. Most comical moment of the reception: seeing Brandon fish out a large pair of granny panties from Sarah's dress to toss to the waiting eligible bachelors.
It was a beautiful day and I am very happy to have "Aunt Seesa" as the newest member of our family.

Sunday -- go to church with your parents, pack and head home. Be excited to hear that the painting being done to your house's exterior is nearly finished. Be disappointed to discover that the "stem green" color looks more like "family reunion punch green" or "minty fresh green" when it covers your whole house and not just a sample swatch. Be excited that your friend finished drywalling your hall while you were gone, just because he wanted to. Be overwhelmed to find that your whole house and all your linens are covered in drywall dust. Clean until you fall asleep.

All in all, it was a good vacation. We enjoyed each of the things we did. I think in future years, we will enjoy fewer things for longer, (we will never have Brandon's wedding again!) but the farm house was a success and a great place of freedom for the kids. I am already anticipating future vacations there and can't wait.