Friday, December 26, 2008

The water well...

I just ran across this post today, and it really summarizes my feelings about the role of blogging in my own life. I thought you might be interested.

Old college friends will be descending upon us soon for an overnight of food and games. We've been feverishly cleaning all day, and I think we may have our first real fire in the fireplace tonight, despite the unseasonably warm weather. Grrr. And then the following days will be filled with: a niece's 1st birthday party, a whirlwind trip to Norfolk, and a visit from Dan, Kelli, and family... Please pray for Seth. I think he's pretty worn out with all the socializing, and I'm afraid he might be on the edge of a cold, too. Poor little guy; he has a pretty low tolerance for large group settings after awhile.

And we're still feeling the effects of his time with his big cousin, Isaac. The constant struggle to keep his toys from getting pilfered at Nana and Papa's has led to him saying these words quite a lot now that we're home: "No! No! Mine! Mine!" It's actually pretty funny. We love you, Zack. =)

A family picture...

Mom was determined to obtain a family picture for her New Years card. I don't remember her sending out a card before grandchildren. Hmmm... =) It was quite a production. Getting everybody dressed, coifed, and clean at the same time... whew buddy! And then the dressing and bathing process kicked Seth over the edge, and he refused to smile for any of the photos. I think this is the best one, and David is trying to get Seth to give him a high 5.

And then, seeing as Terri and I are shutterbugs, we took more pictures. Couple pictures, single pictures, maternity pictures... we were on a roll. And here you see a happily married couple of nearly 8 years. Awww. I think we've still got it.

She had me laughing so hard that I got goofy. These are the result. Terri: "Vogue!" Ellen: "Yes, dahling!"

Me and Bitty Baby, 17 weeks. Only a couple of weeks until we find out what BB is!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mary speaks...

Merry Christmas to you all! We're going to be doing a lot of traveling and visiting for the next week or so, but in the meantime, I give you a thoughtful piece of music that I loved as a girl. I love it even more being with child this Christmas season. Here are the lyrics:

O you who bear the pain of the whole earth, I bore you.
O you whose tears gave human tears their worth, I laughed with you.
You, who when your hem is touched, give power, I nourished you.
Who turn the day to night in this dark hour, light comes from you.
O you who hold the world in your embrace, I carried you.
Whose arms encircled the world with your grace, I once held you.
O you who laughed and ate and walked the shore, I played with you.
And I, who with all others, you died for, now I hold you.
May I be faithful to this final test, in this last hour I hold my child, my son;
His body close enfolded to my breast:
The holder held, the bearer borne.
Mourning to joy, darkness to morn.
Open, my arms; your work is done.

-Madeleine L'Engle

I highly recommend reading them while listening to a good choir off Youtube singing it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back home...

We're back! And it was a really nice, relaxing trip. We spent most of Wednesday at the place pictured above, talking to old friends, eating Christmas cookies, and watching the clerk's tight and bow tie wearing children crawl in and out and around the tables. We feel that its important for us to take the time each year to go to this party. It means something to the Justice to see his clerks, and its a small thing we can do to say "thank you."

And this year, it was also a time away for me and David. 3 days of childless time! We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. So we wandered and talked and wandered and talked some more. We know our way around downtown DC pretty well at this point. We don't get lost, and most of the places we go have significance from one of the two times we've lived there before.

For instance, we went in the parking entrance for Union Station that was near the bridge I walked across every day when I went to work at the children's museum. We ate at Johnny Rockets. I'd forgotten that I metroed there once just to meet David for dinner. He was metroing from work. Sometimes, very rarely, he would get on my car when we were both coming home from work at the same time. The car might be so crowded that we couldn't get to each other, but we could exchange smiles and silly faces. =)

So... some highlights from this trip:

- Sitting in the National Gallery in the solarium, listening to the trickle of the fountain. Talking while they set up for a concert rehearsal. Watching David help them move a harpsichord. Listening to the discordant sounds of violins all playing their own thing while looking at Madonna and child art. and child art.

- Cuddling adorable Eva at Ed and Ruth's house. Good, healthy breakfasts. You don't get a loaner baby with your continental breakfast if you stay at a hotel.

- Catching up like we'd never left. Picking up right where we'd left off. Looking around and seeing ghosts of myself, David, and a Seth that never got older than 6 months everywhere we went.

But I must draw this post to a close. My big Seth needs some mommy love. =)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leaving for DC...

David and I are going to D.C. tomorrow! Without Seth!!! =) Yup, it's time again for David's Former Boss' annual Christmas party, and we're going to try our hardest to make it every year. We took Seth last year, and he did fantastically well. But he's almost 2 now. He's fantasticness after 5+ hours in the car and no afternoon nap has to be called into question. I didn't have it in me to ask him to do that, so even though I'll miss him, he'll be here with Nana from Wed. through Fri.

We're staying with friends, and seeing more old friends, and taking a walk down memory lane. I was thinking right before we moved into this house about where I loved living most of all the places we've lived. Hands down, it was Arlington. Seth was born there, and we had an amazing year with David's job and all the experiences associated with that time. I loved it, and I sometimes miss that tiny apartment in the sky. I still remember the snow coming down outside our window on a Sunday morning when Seth was just a few weeks old. The world was quiet and white, and we stayed in and read with the baby in our laps, and we listened to my brother preach a sermon at his home church via the Internet. It was wonderful. Just one of those everyday moments that you treasure up in your heart for later.

We're going to eat dinner at the Old Ebbit tomorrow night. I'm guessing this may be our last big pre-second-baby trip, so we're going to just enjoy the uninterrupted time with each other. We used to have our best talks on long car trips. Before long, we'll actually have to pay attention to what we say in the car because little pitchers have big ears. =)

So say a prayer for good traffic (hah!) and good weather for us, and for a happy heart and good attitude for the pregnant grouchmonster. See you when we return!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Double stroller ideas?

Ok, I'm now on the quest for the perfect double stroller. Being able to even be planning for that makes me smile with happiness. I'm enjoying the challenge, but it definitely looks like its going to be a challenge.

I love my little lightweight Contours Lite stroller, and I'm going to really, really miss it. That stroller and I have gone many a mile together.

But now I would like a stroller that (brace yourselves)- weighs less than 30 pounds (as much less as possible, please!), can accomodate a toddler who is sitting down with a backrest to rest his precious back upon (absolutely no sit n' stands), will hold an infant carrier, has a large basket and cup holder for me, and manuevers with one hand with all the awesome 360 degree front wheel capability that my current stroller does. I would also like all this for less than $300. Used would be even better. Oh yeah, and it would be great if it wasn't unwieldy because its too long or wide, too.

All of you moms are laughing right now and thinking, "Why doesn't she just pray for a solid gold stroller with a diamond and ruby encrusted toddler tray to drop from the sky into her front yard? That would be easier for the angels to accommodate."

If you happen to know of a stroller like I have described for sale somewhere on planet Earth, please let me know. I'd be really interested to hear about it... =)

Do ya ever...

Do you ever just get sick and tired of your own up and down personality? Does your fight with sin ever just really get you down? I think that's where I am these days. My emotions are like a roller coaster. One day I'm feeling like all is right with the world, and the next day, nothing is satisfactory.

Lately, it seems like all my eyes focus on when I look around are the dings and imperfections in walls and paint and cabinets. I see things that I want to change instead of things I should be grateful for. I fight negativity all the time, even though I know I really have nothing to be negative about!

For goodness sake, my parents came this weekend, and Dad and David got up all the leaves and sticks in the yard. (There were a ton of them. Literally. They weighed them at the yard waste disposal place. =) So there are people slaving away in the yard, making it lovely, and Dad's even trimming trees and bushes and making plans for landscaping. Mom is spoiling Seth rotten, even letting me go get a haircut. I had a great time at a party for MOPs leadership on Saturday night, and stayed out nice and late. We went out to a cool new place for lunch after church on Sunday. It wasn't like I wasn't spoiled, pampered, and treated incredibly well all weekend.

What did I do? I walked around, grumping about the dirt Dad was tracking into the house on his boots. I got grumpy with David for losing another pair of work gloves. I groused because I couldn't take a Sunday afternoon nap. And I woke up this morning feeling guilty about all of it. As I rightly should.

I guess maybe pregnancy hormones can contribute, but I don't remember feeling this way last time. I want to be a joyful wife, mom, daughter, friend, etc. And I'm not being that nearly often enough. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An encouraging story...

In this day and age and time of economic ruthlessness, it's good to know that people like this still exist. I would be proud to be a member of this family. If I had a company, I hope I'd treat my employees this way. What a blessing! It reminds me that the point of being a good steward is so that you have less to spend on yourself and more to spend on other people.

I won something...

Well, the repairman came and fixed our heat just now! But before he did that, our space heaters kept us warm last night, and I was able to gleefully win a prize for my temporary pain and suffering. Yes, you heard that right!

This morning at MOPs, they were giving out door prizes. One lady got a prize for having the most people at her house for Christmas dinner this year. Another got one for having the most kids. There were a few awards given out.

And then came the final prize. Leah said, "Has anyone had a water heater go out recently?" When she said that, I was hoping against hope that nobody had, and she'd move on to another outage. And then she said it... "How about another major appliance?" My hand shot up. "My heat is still out!" I was the uncontested winner... of bath products and sympathetic looks.

And the twisted peppermint hand lotion I won smells all fresh and minty on my newly toasty hands. =)

Gift ideas...

The tea went really well this morning, and I thought I'd share the idea I had for giving gifts to the women in my group.

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to come up with good gift ideas. I don't like giving something generic just to give a gift. Sooo.... I came up with a way to give gifts to the women in my small group that took their personal preferences into account.

At the beginning of the year, I had all the ladies fill out an information sheet I made up. Included in the information sheet was a section called, "My Favorite Things." I asked them to list their favorite snacks/treats, colors, scents, flowers, hobbies, things collected, and decorating style and colors.

Then I went out and got them all their favorite snack, wrapped a bow and gift tag around it, and gave it to them, along with an ornament. They got things like a bag of Doritos, peanut M&Ms and a little bag of Cheezits, a king size Snickers, etc.

I was pretty proud of the way I handled the two tough snacks on my list. =) One of my ladies only listed ice cream and milkshakes as her favorite thing. Hmmm. So I went to the best milkshake place in town, Cookout, and asked for a cup, lid, and straw. I tied a ribbon around it and put milkshake money inside. The other tough snack was... carrot cake. Yup, carrot cake. As in, it has to be refrigerated because of cream cheese icing.

Well, I got the last individually wrapped slice of carrot cake at my local Food Lion last night. I tied a bow around the carton and put it in a little soft lunch cooler. Dani said she'd been craving carrot cake. I was glad.

I've thought about sending a questionnaire like the one I did for my MOPs group to my friends. Then I could save them in a Word file for later reference. It would make gift giving and randoms acts of kindness a lot easier.

Oh yeah, I got this idea from the Secret Pal questionnaire I filled out at one of the preschools where I worked. Each month, my secret pal would give me something anonymously. The best month was the one where I got off work and followed her instructions to the school fridge. There was a cold Dr. Pepper and a Milky Way in there with my name on it. That was a nice treat after a day of fussy toddlers!

Another hat tip to Holy Experience...

This is what I needed to hear this morning. And so I did. It's so easy to choose pity for ourselves, in little ways and big ways. I need to be grateful and embrace the places that God puts me, even if they don't always turn out to be the places I want to be. There is beauty to be found, and sometimes the little things are more beautiful and better treasured when the wind is whipping mercilessly through your life. I know; I've been there before.

I have our MOPs Christmas Tea today. There will be fine china and dainty goodies and a chance for everyone in my group to hear the Gospel. Pray that any hearts that need to be opened will be receptive; I don't know where everyone is with Christ. I'll post more about my little gift idea for the ladies later. I know, I know, I don't do gifts at Christmas. But this is another of those times that I found it impossible to postpone the gift giving until later. =)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blogging question...

I'm toying with the idea of putting up a family newsletter blog this year, in lieu of a Christmas letter. I thought it might be an easier way to do the whole family newsletter thing, with pictures, and without spending a lot on stamps. I figured I could send the paper version to the older relatives, but I could save a bunch if I emailed it to everybody else. Has anybody done this? More importantly, has anybody found a way to do it as a private blog that won't show the reader their main blog address? And also, I don't want this to be hard, or require the reader to sign up for anything. Hmmmm....

The straw tradition...

I found this link off of A Holy Experience today. I think it's a wonderful idea. I'm going to have to go hunting for a little wooden manger and some straw in a couple of years, once Seth gets old enough to understand...

And in other news... our heat is out. The igniter is broken, and it looks like we have an unusual igniter, hence, it may be a few days before one is procured from outer Mongolia. Grrr. I'm trying not to let this situation steal my peace. Sunday was a cold day around here. I wore two layers of clothes and gloves all day. Things improved when the heating guy came and manually ignited the heat. That meant we had it cranked up to a toasty 85 in here when we got back from carolling. But the bad news was that it would cut off and not cut on again after it reached the target temp. Sigh. But!... I sent out an email for help to our S.S. class this morning. Within 15 minutes, I had an offer of 3 space heaters and some blankets, and a sweet friend delivered them by 11 a.m. What a blessing! So we're keeping warm here in the casa. And we may just try out the new wood burning fireplace tonight...

Friday, December 05, 2008


Today, two years ago, my sister-in-law lost her mother. Cheryl Stolldorf leaves a powerful legacy of faith. And whenever I hear this song, I remember her. I love you, Terri.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Picture books in winter...

Summer fading, winter comes--
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.
Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children's eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.
We may see how all things are
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies' looks,
In the picture story-books.
How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?
-Robert Louis Stevenson

An attempt at wiring pine boughs to my rails... Hmmm....

Fresh baked cookies on a wicker paper plate holder. $.25 at the thrift store. Red grosgrain ribbon goes with everything, so I have a big thing of it. Hopefully Seth's teachers like chocolate chip.

Fake greenery doesn't look so fake from a distance.

I just realized I'm channeling Meredith's style for this post. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. =)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Anybody have an opinion on the floating baby?

This pregnancy has seen me doing things differently. I've barely cracked a pregnancy book since I found out, and I usually couldn't wait to read the weekly chapter of "My Pregnancy: Week By Week." I thought today, while Seth was happily dumping water over his head in the tub, "I should pull out that book."

I was surprised to discover that this baby is now the size of my fist! Wow, time really flies. So I thought it was time to put up the floating baby widget. But now that it's up, I can't decide if I like it. Do you think these widgets are creepy or cool or somewhere in between?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Taco Bean Bake...

I made this tonight for dinner. We had company, and I thought it looked like it wasn't too risky of a new meal to try on Sarah and Stephen. This morning I felt led to invite Sarah over, and the feeling wouldn't leave, so I did. And she was ready to accept, since coming home from time away with babies is just plain hard. I feel like I'm more likely to listen to God telling me to feed people now that I have an easier time cooking and seating others. =)

Anyhoo... I got this off of the Hillbilly Housewife site and modified it a bit. This site has some great, healthy, cheap, mostly from scratch recipes. And this one is also cheap and filling.

Taco Bean Bake

2 - 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained OR 1 cup of dry beans, cooked tender (about 3 cups of cooked beans)
1 clove minced garlic or 1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 to 1 pound ground beef or turkey (I used the half pound)
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. oregano
1/8 t. pepper
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 or 2 cups shredded cheese

Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic. Drain grease, and put back in skillet. Add sauce, beans, and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Spray a 9x9 dish and put everything in there. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, until bubbling and melty. Put the tostadas on a cookie sheet and heat for the last few minutes.

You can also serve this with tortillas, or taco shells, or with tortilla chips, or with the fixings as a taco salad. I chose the tostada option because if I buy tortilla chips, I will snack on them. And tostadas are cheaper than a bag of tortilla chips anyway.

About 5 minutes after my last post...

I read this. I had to smile. And thanks to a tired, late sleeping baby, things have looked up around here. =)

The morning after...

We're back from Thanksgiving. It was a nice time with David's family in Norfolk. There was a lot of bike riding and walking and game playing... and no football watching. What a weird family, huh? =) David's cousin, Keith, and his wife and son came, so Seth had even more people to take pictures and spoil him. He was in full on show off mood for days. Very amusing.

We came back on Saturday night, and we got to go to our own church and S.S. on Sunday. I enjoy being able to do that sometimes, even on a trip weekend. And then we had time to rest and recup for today. The weather was gross, and I loved drinking hot tea and being in my p.j.'s all afternoon.

I started feeling the baby move on Thanksgiving Day. I felt Seth move pretty early, too, so this isn't surprising. It feels like bubbles popping in my tummy, mostly. What a nice way to remember the date! I need to appreciate God's special kindness to me to let it happen on that day. I'm feeling really good these days, and I definitely look more and more pregnant. I should post a picture soon, and you'll know what I mean.

I have woken up this morning fighting feelings of inadequacy, though. I don't know exactly why. Well, it probably has something to do with the to-do list that feels very long. And the fact that my bedroom is still a mess probably means that I don't wake up feeling settled when I look around. Generally, I guess we all just wake up some mornings and have a good, long list of ways that we have failed to measure up that immediately come to mind. So, today, I'm fighting to remember that Christ loves me and has made me adequate, even when I don't feel like it. And I get to start fresh today! Ok, time to put some laundry in before the baby wakes up.

And I did get my Advent wreath up on the first Sunday of Advent. That's a new record! We even lit the candle and read the Scripture. Now I just need to find some candles that aren't totally washed up. =)