Sunday, January 28, 2007

How to make yourself feel like the worst parent EVER

On the day Elise was born, that wonderful, blessed day, she was given a small stuffed lamb. I loved it immediately. I'm not sure if that is because it is actually adorable - I think it is - or because in my euphoric, new mother, drugged state of mind, I loved everything. Regardless, the lamb - "Lambie" (original, eh?) - won me over immediately.

Elise loves stuffed animals. She has about twenty of them. A few days ago she opened a package to find a new stuffed puppy inside, and she actually squealed in delight. But Lambie is special. Lambie goes everywhere with Elise. The other animals are played with and hugged and are sometimes privileged enough to share a car ride or a nap with Elise. But Lambie is always there. Which is why we took him with us when we went to Portland this weekend. Which is where he still is. That's right. See, Lambie is such a constant companion to Elise that he did not get packed into the car this morning along with everything else, because Elise was holding him while the car was being packed. Somehow, though, while the goodbyes were being said, Elise dropped Lambie, and we drove back to Seattle without him. We knew that this wasn't good, but we didn't think it was quite this bad.

When I put Elise to bed tonight, she immediately sat up and looked on either side of herself. Then she went down the entire line of animals that live in her crib, picked up each and every one of them, and looked beneath them. She scooted down to the end of the crib and picked up the folded blankets, looking under them. She looked under the little pillow. I knew that she was looking for Lambie, but I didn't say anything. She then crawled back to the head of the crib and peered down through the crack between the mattress and the frame. I let her look for a minute, and then I said, "Okay, Elise, it's time to lay down". She scooted back to the middle of the crib, looked up at me, and said, "Mammy?" (which is how she says "Lambie"). My heart melted. I didn't know what to do. She was not upset, just curious and looking for her friend. She repeated, "Mammy? Mammy?" I said, "Oh, honey, Lambie's not here right now." Her response? "Mammy, peez. Peez. Peez." She has just recently learned that she will not get what she wants without saying "Please" ("peez"). (We're still working on understanding that saying "please" does not automatically entitle her to the requested object.)

Elise's sweet little spirit shone through when she stopped looking for Lambie and calmly laid down. I sang our usual bedtime song, tucked her in, and left, and she went to sleep as usual. I was glad that she did not have any trouble falling asleep without Lambie - I don't want her to be that dependent on a stuffed animal. I know that a few nights without Lambie will not hurt Elise in the slightest. But it sure made me feel terrible! When I relayed the story to Andy, he immediately went online and found a store that sells Lambie. I had to talk him out of buying one and having it shipped overnight. My sister will be here on Friday and will bring Lambie with her. I think we can make it until then.

I hope so, anyway.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

A couple of weeks ago I told you about our friends who are trying to adopt a baby boy. Well, we have just received word that the paternity test results came back yesterday - negative! The man who was believed to be the biological father is not. Hallelujah! Now the only thing that stands between our friends and the finalized adoption of their son is another thirty days, to give the actual father a chance to come forward. They have to post an advertisement in the newspaper in a due diligence effort to contact him. They don't know his last name, and he is in the military, so he could be anywhere. Do people really read the "you might be a daddy" personal ads in the newspaper? I didn't even know there were such things.

Thanks to all who were praying about this.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jack! STRONG coffee!

So says Tea Leoni to Nicolas Cage in The Family Man when they are awakened by their children all too early on Christmas morning. So I feel today.

Andy is still sick, although he appears to be on the mend. His fever has gone down considerably. Neither Elise nor I have shown signs of having caught it yet, thankfully.

I was just thinking. Why is it so hard to get through really long books? I just glanced at the bookshelf next to me and saw both The Brothers Karamazov and The Brothers K - which I know sound like the same book, but they are not. Both books are well over 600 pages, the first one over 700. Long books by most standards. I usually read a book of average length - about 350 pages is what I would consider average, at least for the books that I typically read - in about two weeks. I'm not a particularly slow reader, but I'm not fast, either, and I don't read for very long each day, or even read at all every day. So it takes me a while to get through a book. But if I read a 350 page book in two weeks, wouldn't it stand to reason that I should be able to read The Brothers Karamazov in a month? One would think. Hmm.

I'm reading easy books right now. The Little House series, as mentioned earlier, and now a series by Beverly Lewis. I think the series is called Daughters of Abram, but I could be wrong about that. It is about the women in an Amish family. The book itself is rather fluffy. The friend who lent it to me described it as "a trashy novel without the sex", which was a rather apt description. Seems that is what most Christian fiction is these days. It's sad, really, because there is room for depth. Apparently Christian publishing houses have the same low standards that most secular ones have. However, the book does describe the Amish lifestyle in some detail, which I enjoy. I have always had a great respect for and interest in the Amish culture. What a fascinating group of people! And it is interesting to read these books parallel with the Little House books. The books are set nearly 100 years apart, yet many of the domestic details described are almost identical - farming, keeping house, canning and preserving, sewing. Reading books that describe such things always makes me want to - oh, I don't know - churn butter. It usually also makes me ashamed of my housekeeping skills. Caroline Ingalls would be appalled at the mess in my living room this morning. And then reading about the Amish girls filling their hope chests made me want to embroider pillowcases. I'm much more likely to do that than to churn butter.

As appealing as such traditional domesticity and farm life is to me, I do not fool myself into wishing I had been born into an earlier era. First of all, if I had, I would be dead now. (Let's not get into the relativity of time.) Second of all, I really do love my dishwasher, washer and dryer, refrigerator, car, and local grocery store. I like that I can grow vegetables (theoretically, people!) and make jam and sew quilts because those things are enjoyable, not because my family's survival and livelihood depends on them. But reading about that way of life does inspire me to live simply and to pay attention to the way I live. It makes me want to be conservative in my consumption of goods and careful about the way I spend my time. And it makes me realize that every generation in Christian history, with few exceptions, considers previous generations to have lived by a higher standard of morality and a simpler means of sustenance than the current generation. We all think our parents and grandparents lived in simpler times. Our children and grandchildren will think the same of us. And it may be true, to an extent, but we have to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. If we feel that our lives are too complicated, or we are too reliant on modern conveniences, or morality is now relative, we cannot blame those things on the time in which we live. The Christian standard has never been any easier to live by than it is today. There may have been times when good behavior was encouraged and rewarded by society more than it is today, but holiness has always been countercultural and has always been contrary to human nature. I do not believe that God makes allowances for us based on the times in which we live. "Oh, well, so long as everybody else was doing it..." Yeah. I don't think so.

Monday, January 22, 2007


It has been a day. Poor Andy woke up with a fever and bad headache. Now, he gets his fair share of coughs and colds and general feelings of blah, but this is big for him. He crawled back into bed and requested - actually requested - a doctor's appointment. This was not as easy as it sounds. His regular physician no longer accepts our health insurance, and we have not yet established care with a new physician. So I pulled up our preferred provider list, breathed a prayer that my search would not lead us directly to a quack, and picked up the phone. The first office I called - well, okay, the first office I called got me "Jim, MRI". Yeah. But the second office I called could get us in within an hour and they were less than three miles away. Perfect. I gave Elise her breakfast, threw in a load of laundry, loaded the dishwasher, and ran out the door. Hmm. The gas gauge needle was below the red "Empty" line. I should have realized this since the warning beep beeped at us on the way to church yesterday. (That's another story.) But the doctor was less than three miles away, so we risked it. And made it. Whew!

Everyone in the doctor's office was very friendly and helpful. All three of them. Andy was seen promptly, and Elise played happily with the toys in the waiting room. The doctor himself walked Andy back out to the waiting room, where he then talked pleasantly to me and Elise for a few minutes. He explained to me what he had already explained to Andy - the illness is probably viral, he recommends symptomatic treatment - and then gave Elise a sticker and let her explore the whole clinic. I was impressed.

We got home (with a brief stop at a gas station first) and began the prescribed symptomatic treatment. Sleep. Andy went immediately to bed and stayed there until late in the afternoon. I have never known him to sleep so much. He called me in only to ask for more blankets, Tylenol, and a humidifier. Even now, at 10:00 at night, he is still asleep in the recliner, blankets piled on top of him, a cool cloth (well, it used to be cool - I haven't checked it in a while) on his forehead. Poor guy. I feel so badly for him. And I have to admit, I'm a little afraid of Elise or I catching it. It's hard to take care of a sick child, and it's hard to take care of a healthy child when you yourself are sick. But we'll make it.

Anyway, I'm tired. And I feel that I accomplished very little today. But when someone in your household is sick, you kind of go into maintenance mode, you know? I did put together an apron that I cut out over a month ago, but I don't have the energy to take and post a picture of it right now. Here are some pictures of Baby S's quilt:

We had her baby shower here on Saturday, and it was a lot of fun. I finished the quilt just in time - about 45 minutes before the shower began, actually. I had promised myself that I would not let it get down to the wire like that, but I did. Oh, and the quilt is not tapered as it appears in the photo. That's just the photo and the way I am holding the quilt. The center of the quilt was made before S was born, before we knew that she was a she. Once she was born, I decided to make the rest of quilt - the border and binding - decidedly feminine.

Okay, off to bed with me. In twelve hours I will be sitting in a dentist's chair. Ugh. Is it bad to wish the week were over when it is still only Monday?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


No, I haven't learned or created a new language.

Elise's vocabulary is rapidly expanding. Her new favorite word - or perhaps just my favorite of her new words - is "dishes". We have a couple shelves of china in our dining room, and over the last several months I have identified the china as "dishes" whenever Elise points to them and asks what they are. ("A-dat?" has been her most frequently spoken phrase for months.) A few days ago, as I was working at the dining room table, Elise walked up to me, pointed at the china, and said, "shishes". She had to say it a few times before I caught on. Since then it has been refined to "dithshes".

The phrase that had us confused the longest was "Iloyo". She kept saying it, over and over, and we couldn't figure it out. Then one day she said it in response to what we said. Have you figured it out? Iloyo. I Lo Yo. I love you. Isn't that sweet? She is saying, "I love you"!

Iloyo, too, Elise.


Today is cleaning day. As the mother of a toddler, really every day is cleaning day, but today is "Major Cleaning Day", as my mom would say. There is to be a shower here on Saturday - of the gifts and guests variety, not the water variety, although I'm sure that kind will occur as well. My hope is that between today's cleaning and Saturday's shower, the house will stay clean. I don't know if that's possible. Can I hope for 48 hours without having something sticky spilled onto the floor?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Quiet day

I'm enjoying a quiet Sunday morning at home. Elise and I stayed home from church today due to icy roads. I don't think the roads are really all that bad, but Andy had to be at church at 7:30 this morning - an hour and a half before the first service began - and has to stay until noon or so. Not wanting to be gone that long with Elise (that would mean waking her up earlier than usual and missing her nap), my options were to stay home or to drive myself and Elise separately. I chose to stay home rather than brave the icy roads myself. Now, you might poke fun at me for being so cautious. I am, after all, a born and bred midwesterner, and I initially learned how to drive in the winter, so one would think that I would be used to icy conditions. And I am. But in the Midwest, if you slide on black ice, you end up in a ditch or a snow bank or some other such irritating but harmless position. Here, you end up embedded in the side of a bus. I'd rather stay home.

So, yes, it is a quiet day. I'm sitting here drinking my coffee. Elise is exploring how many pillows she can stack on top of one another before they topple over. We played "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and peek-a-boo. Elise's version of peek-a-boo consists of her covering one eye, not her entire face. Not entirely effective, but cute.

Here are a few things that I have particularly enjoyed this week:

Elise, sharing her chocolate with me.
Flannel pajamas. So comfortable!
A quilt handmade by someone else, and left for me to find in a thrift store.
Leftover Christmas candies.
February's Country Home magazine. Thanks, Janene!
The Little House books. I loved them as a child. I received the series for Christmas when I was five, and have read them dozens of times. My original series is gone, being paperback and having lived through five girls. I recently bought the books again, and am very much enjoying reading them. I remember not caring so much for this one - Farmer Boy - when I was a little girl. It was about a boy. How boring. But now I am enjoying it.

Now I am off to kiss Elise's head better - she just crawled under the kitchen table and then stood up - and to clean the banana off the floor before it dries.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Yesterday I told you about the baby who has been adopted by friends of ours. Today I received a phone call informing me that the baby shower for this baby has been canceled until further notice. The birth father has decided to fight for custody. I do not know the circumstances. I don't know whether the birth father has been absent until now, or whether he simply changed his mind about the adoption once he saw his son. I don't even know how to pray about it, other than to pray for God's will to be done. I want to pray for the adoption to go through, but I am sure there are people on the other side of the coin who are praying that it will not. Who is to say what is best for the baby? My heart aches for my friends. They have had their son home with them for over a week. He is their son.

During Elise's birth, there was a very brief time - under ten minutes - when we thought we might lose her. It was terrifying. I can only imagine what my friends are going through, sitting at home with their baby, with the constant and very real fear that they might lose him - not to death, but lose him just the same.

They are waiting for paternity test results. A negative result is their only known hope. Apparently a negative result is possible in this situation, but not probable. I wish I could help them. They are strong, and they have been through disappointment before, lose a child. My stomach is in knots just thinking about it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Baby Crafts

Here is a fabric frame that I made for a little guy who was born just last week. This is one very loved baby. His mom and dad prayed for a child for so long. They established themselves with an adoption agency and were told that it takes on average 14 months to adopt a child. Well, they were with that agency for just about that long when the agency closed its doors. Heartbreaking. They had to start from scratch. Fortunately, the next agency they tried was able to connect them with a birth mother very quickly. From what I understand, the birth mother loves this boy, too, enough to choose his parents herself, enough to let go of him so that he can have a life that she feels she cannot provide for him right now. Brave, brave girl.
This isn't a great picture. Sorry.
I like to give something handmade to each new baby I know. I wish I could make a quilt for each of them, but there are just too many! I have celebrated the birth of eleven friends' babies in the last nine months, and there are five babies (that I know of) due to be born within the next six months. So for the most part I stick with simpler gifts, usually something from mom's baby registry and something handmade. I got the idea for this frame from Better Homes & Gardens Creative Collection Quilts and More magazine, Fall 2006. It was a lot of fun to make, and very fast, and I used only materials I already had on hand, and the picture that was emailed out the day baby was born. The pattern calls for slipping a magnetic strip into the back of the frame, but since I used flannel (pattern uses muslin), I found that the typical craft magnets are not strong enough, so I attached a ribbon for hanging instead. The pattern also called for a layer of stiff interfacing, which I did not use, but I think I will next time. As you can tell from the picture, the frame is a little too soft and floppy looking.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls

I completely forgot to mention this earlier...

Last Friday Andy and I went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. The journey to the Scrolls was a bit complicated. We tried to see them in December, but did not buy tickets in advance, and by the time we arrived at the Science Center, tickets for that day were sold out. So, with only a few days left in the exhibit, I called ahead to purchase tickets. The only ones still available were for 10:30PM! So we called our friend Denny, who graciously agreed to babysit so late at night. On the night of the exhibit, all went well. Denny arrived, Elise went to sleep (thus never knowing we were gone), and we drove to lower Queen Anne. We arrived early, as instructed, and at first we were able to stay warm inside the Science Center as we waited for our tour to begin. Then, at 10:00, all of the Center except the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit closed, forcing us to wait outside. It was bitterly cold and the wind was amazing. (Not surprisingly, later that night we lost power due to the wind.) There were some people waiting with very young children, even infants, and I felt just terrible for them. At any rate, we finally made it into the exhibit, and it was worth the late hour, the cold, the expense, everything.

I was surprised by how small and how fragmented the scrolls were. There were ten scrolls on display, and most of them were broken into several pieces, with large sections missing. No wonder scholars are still working on them after 60 years. The lights in the exhibit hall were very dim, and the lights directly on the scrolls were turned off every few seconds. They take no chances with 2000 year old sacred writings. The script was just beautiful, and - oh, I can't even describe it. It was truly awesome. One scroll was from Exodus and included the Ten Commandments - the oldest known copy. Another, the most well preserved and beautiful scroll, included parts of the Psalms, some canonized and others not. This scroll was tremendous. It was quite large, probably about 20" long and 8" high. One of the more interesting things about it is that you can clearly make out where the name of God is written. In ancient Israel - and actually among Orthodox Jews still today, I believe - the name of God was never said aloud. It was considered too holy, too sacred for a human to utter. So oftentimes a scribe would write the name of God in a hand distinct from the rest of the writing, so that when it was read aloud, the reader would see the name coming, and would not mistakenly say it. I don't read Hebrew, of course - although I would just love to learn how - but it was really intriguing to look at that scroll and be able to tell which word was the name of God. I'm not sure which name it was, but kindled a sense of reverence and awe.

The other thing that was interesting to me was how precisely the translation of the scrolls matches our modern translations of the Bible. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is considered to be the most significant evidence of the validity and accuracy of the Bible. It really is exact, word for word. Pretty amazing.

The Scrolls have left Seattle now, and I'm not sure where they are headed next. I hope you got to see them while they were here, but even if you didn't, I encourage you to read up on them. They are fascinating.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Returning to sanity

Good thing I didn't make "Blog every day" a resolution for the new year!

We've been a little down and out at our house these past few days. Elise has had some health issues - that makes it sound like a big deal, like we're waiting on blood tests or something; really not the case - that have left us all rather frazzled. It was just a stomach problem, but she was in obvious discomfort and sometimes pretty bad pain, and a toddler who is uncomfortable or in pain is not a happy person. We had a very trying couple of days. Fortunately, Elise seems to feel much, much better today and is her usual happy self.

Our house is pretty much a disaster area, but there have been some sanity saving moments over the past few days, moments when I have been able to get some things done to keep myself from going absolutely crazy. It is amazing how accomplishing even small tasks can make one feel so good. For example, yesterday Andy took Elise to the store with him, and I cleaned our bedroom. I am ashamed to say that I have neglected cleaning the bedroom lately in favor of keeping the more public areas of our home presentable. I never wanted to do that. I believe that a home should first and foremost meet the needs of the people who live in it. By that measure, one would think that I would clean the bedrooms first. But, no. I hate realizing that my actions don't match my stated priorities, but at least once I realize it, I can fix it. Anyway, it felt so great yesterday to dust and vacuum and put away the clothes and make up the bed, and it felt even better to wake up this morning in a clean room. Now my goal for tomorrow morning is to wake up in a clean room and then to walk into a clean bathroom. Wish me luck.

Other projects done in snippets of time include pinning and beginning to quilt a quilt (I have no pictures to post at this point, but I'll try to remember to post some once the quilt is completed) and...well, gosh, I guess that's it. Boring, huh? I told you, it has been a frazzling couple of days. Right now Elise is asleep, and I think I will take this opportunity to take down the Christmas decorations. I'm ready to take them down. When Andy and I first discussed when to de-decorate, I was a little saddened by the prospect. But now I'm ready. Christmas is over (although there are still a few gifts under the tree) and I'm looking forward to the clean, roomy feel that the living room always has once the tree and decorations are gone. Just writing that makes me want to clean. I'm looking around the dining room at the piles of stuff, the clutter, and I just want it to be gone. So here I go, to make it disappear.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Someone else's point of view

I am touched by and can relate to this woman's thoughts on parenting and family life.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A New Year

Ah, the possibilities! I am so excited to see what this new year holds. 2006 was a great year. A quiet year, a year of great contentment. We watched Elise learn to eat solid food, sit up, crawl, stand, walk, talk (still a work in progress), and learn a million things about herself and the world around her. We enjoyed being settled in our life - our home, our role as parents, Andy's job, my new role as homemaker, our involvement in our church. There weren't a whole lot of "big" new things in 2006, but instead a lot of small, happy, quiet moments that made the year wonderful. And then the year ended on the best note - our dear friends Bob and Beth welcomed a new child into the world on New Year's Eve! Welcome, dear girl. You are in for quite an adventure!

New Year's resolutions are not a strict tradition for me. Some years I make them, some years I don't. This year I will. There are a few things that have been on my mind for the last little while, and after thinking about them for a few months or so, I've decided to make an intentional effort to implement these things into my life. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Pay closer attention to and show appreciation for acts of kindness and responsibility. I particularly desire to notice work that is done behind the scenes, people that typically receive little thanks for their hard work.
  • Be prepared. This is really another way of saying "don't procrastinate". I want to be available when opportunities arise, opportunities to help, opportunities to learn, opportunities to enjoy. I don't think that I can necessarily prepare myself for the particular details of life, but I do think that diligence in work, love, virtue, and learning will go a long way in preparing most people for most things.
  • Observe details. Elise reminded me of this earlier today when she turned a red pepper slice into a toy telephone. I would never have noticed the similarity in shapes. I want to notice details (this goes along with appreciating unnoticed work, see resolution #1). I believe details are important.

Well, those are some of the things I'd like to work on this year. There are some practical, more tangible goals, too, of course. There are a lot of books I'd like to read. There are quilts to be made. There are new sewing projects to try, namely little girls' clothing. There are improvements to be made to the church nursery. There are improvements to be made to our home. There's potty training Elise - yikes! There will be, Lord willing, preparations to be made for a new baby (don't get excited - our hope is for a new baby to join our family early in 2008). One of my long term goals is to get an RN license, and the breakdown of that goal includes completing hopefully two prerequisite classes this year. I don't think I've mentioned that decision to anyone but my husband before, although it's one that he and I have been discussing for quite some time. So there you have it.

Those are some of my goals for the new year. What are yours?

Alexander Graham Bell Pepper

My daughter usually eats a cold lunch - fresh fruit, vegetables, lunchmeat, cheese, that sort of thing. If her lunch is hot, it is reheated leftovers. I do not feel guilty about this because she does eat a hot breakfast and a hot dinner. Today, though, I decided to go for a hot lunch. I made some tri-colored rotini - pretty much her absolute favorite food - and I sauteed some baby carrots and julienned red bell peppers. It was a very attractive plate. Well, naturally, Elise ate all of the pasta right up. She nibbled on the carrots. But the red peppers? Well, Elise instantly noticed a similarity that I, in my nearly 27 years on this earth, had never noticed, and she put her observation to immediate use. Julienned bell peppers are shaped remarkably like telephones. I turned around and saw my daughter chomping away at her rotini, with a red pepper slice tucked securely between her shoulder and ear, just the way she holds her toy telephone.

This reminds me of a New Year's goal of mine, which will be mentioned in a later post.