Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Catching up

It seems like longer than it has actually been since I last posted. We had a good weekend. I taught class (and was surprised to find that an intelligent college student does not know how to tell time unless the clock is digital. Does that make me old?). Some dear friends who are visiting from Chicago came over, along with some other dear friends that we don't see nearly enough, even though we attend the same church. We had a great time. The weather here is finally the way late October is supposed to feel, and I am enjoying that.

I've been thinking a lot lately about hope vs. fear, and rejection vs. acceptance. I'm sure it will find it's way into some blog posts once I actually get some cohesive thoughts on it all. You know the saying, "Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit." Mostly, when I get the chance I just sit. Or my thoughts just run in circles, chasing each other's tails like unruly puppies. Elena just spit up, and I need to do laundry anyway, so I'll post something more substantive later.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little surprises

I had fun last night. After Carlos fixed dinner (he is amazing at grilling!), he suggested that I run to the store to return the DVDs we had rented while he played with the kids. So I got in some shopping. Since the kidlets need some long-sleeved shirts and I heard that Kohl's had some good sales, I stopped by and found exactly what I wanted. That is a pretty rare thing when shopping (miraculous if the shopping is for bras, jeans or swimsuits), so I was happy.

Ariana loves bling. If it is glittery, sparkly, shiny and bright, she loves it. Joel, being so close to her, has been influenced by this. It's funny to me that throughout history in many cultures (not to mention the animal kingdom), guys get the glamourous duds. I don't know why it has recently changed so that in some circles that is seen as less masculine. Anyway, I found a robot shirt for Beeps that is definitely masculine but also covered with shiny gold accents. He was thrilled! He even slept in it. :) (Since Joel would prefer to go naked, except for his Spidey jacket, it is always a good sign if the clothes stay on more than a few minutes). Ariana loved her new shirt, too.

Even better, from their perspective, were the little glow-slates that I picked up. They were a little over a dollar each, but the kids consider them a treasure. You remember the little cardboard tablets with a film over them? You press with the plastic "pencil" on them and it writes, and to erase you just lift the film? The kids have been drawing and writing so much that I thought these would save paper (and be safe for any environment). Ariana drew a remarkable mouse with hers--it made me sad that they erased so easily. It was far better than I would have drawn.

At bedtime we all had a giggle-fest as Carlos told his famous Ipis and Upis stories. Joel would interject "Kiki's house" anytime a destination was mentioned, until everyone was laughing. I have no idea who or what Kiki is, or even why it seemed so funny at the moment. One of those you-had-to-be-there-things, I guess.

The kids slept in this morning, so I built them a pillow pile with all the couch cushions, pillows and extraneous comforters in the house. I'm already smiling as I picture their excitement. They love jumping in the pillow pile! Little surprises make the whole day better, don't they?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Better-than-peanut-butter cookies

Today has been a good day. It started off with lots of snuggles and a delightful thunderstorm. Ariana got very excited about schoolwork, and practiced writing and a little math. She and Joel both drew and colored, on paper this time (they much prefer to color themselves. Last night they were covered with multicolor "chicken pox"). They played on the computer for awhile. Elena was unusually fussy today, but has been happier this afternoon. Lunch was veggie quesadillas. Overall just a normal day. I did a couple of loads of dishes and one of diapers. Then Joel and I decided to do our version of peanut-butter cookies. Here's the recipe we used:

1 stick butter
1/2 C brown sugar (maybe a little more--Joel gets enthusiastic)
scant 1/2 C white sugar (to compensate for the aforementioned enthusiasm)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp? vanilla (more enthusiasm)
Slightly over half a bag of white chocolate chips (ditto)
Approximately half a cup of crunchy Sunbutter. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is made from sunflower seeds in a peanut-free facility and is perfect for those with peanut allergies. We put a little over a half cup in, but Joel stuck a finger in and tasted it, then scooped out a generous spoonful for himself.
1 C rice flour
1/3 C tapioca flour
2 tsp? of baking powder (Joel was excited here because it was almost time to put everything in the oven)
Mix well, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. They were really crumbly at first because we didn't let them cool, but once cool they were perfect!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Exchanging Ariel for Nim

Image credit koiart71 on Flickr
The day Ariana became acquainted with Ariel was a bit traumatic. She was two, and during a moment when I was occupied with her new little brother managed to get a hold of a jar of Vick's and smear it in her eye. Following the Poison Control advice, I wrapped her in a towel and flushed her eye for several minutes with water. Even now, she remembers how horrible that was. Being pinned and having water in her eyes was pure torture. Just as it ended, Carlos arrived home with Disney's The Little Mermaid DVD. Relief and distraction!

Frankly, I despise The Little Mermaid. The songs are catchy, the animation is good, I love Sebastian the crab, but I think Ariel is an aggravating, self-centered nitwit. I really can't think of many qualities that she displays that I want my daughters to emulate. Her curiosity, perhaps. Her lack of prejudice. But I certainly don't want them to give up their voice just to get a guy. (And I would definitely hope that they would display more sense when entering into any contracts!) When things don't work out, and the evil Ursula actually expects Ariel to keep her word (oh, how horrible!), she whines for her daddy to keep her from being held accountable (even though it means sacrificing the entire kingdom. That is supposed to make things better?! It would seem that Ariel's impulsiveness and lack of forethought were a family failing). Then she waits for her prince to kill the witch.

Last week, we watched Nim's Island, and Ariana's imagination was ignited. This is truly an adventure story about girls. Nim is strong, brave, and capable. She is smart and able to do whatever needs to be done. And while I could probably pick the movie apart and dissect things that I disapprove of with this character as well, I like that at the end of the movie my daughter felt powerful and energized.

Of course, as princesses go, Ariel isn't really worse than many others. My dislike is probably somewhat exaggerated. Yet even now, girls are often portrayed as wringing their hands and waiting while the guys have the adventures. I don't want my girls to become passive princesses who must wait to be rescued, or my son to see women that way. One of my favorite verses in Daniel, that I want all of my children to internalize, is from chapter 11, verse 32. Depending on the translation you use, it says that "the people who know their God will be strong and do exploits". Another version says that they will "display strength and take action". This is what I want for my princesses--to be strong and courageous, to have the wisdom, power and capabilities to take the action that is needed, and to never give up their voice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Making marvelous memories

Today was one of those incredibly rare perfect days. We took the kids to a Children's Museum a couple of hours away. The ride over was fun. Joel (who is still rear-facing) played giggle games with me all the way there.

The museum was awesome. I would have been wild over it as a child, and I loved it even as an adult (well, physically I qualify as an adult ;)). It is fantastic. They have made what is essentially a child-sized town, where kids can dress up in whatever role they are playing (firefighter, surgeon, etc) and practice and play. They have ambulances, a surgery station, a dentist office, a store with kiddie-sized shopping carts, a courtroom and more.

We started off with the super spider-web climbing area and slide. They played almost an hour there. Then we went outside to one of the multiple playgrounds out there. After some time on the pirate ship, we followed each other through the castle maze and the kids did several rounds with the slide there. Then it was time for the train ride, much to Joel's delight.

Once we were back inside, we explored the cave and aquarium, which led to the archeologists sand pit. Joel loved digging up the dinosaur bones in the sand. Even better, it was next to the airplane, so he got in some flight practice. Ariana loved doing the grocery shopping all by herself, but her favorite was the surgery room. I think she could have spent hours in there. She did every station from administering anesthesia to patiently repairing a knee to examining all the internal organs.

They had a beautifully stocked creativity center with paints, markers, crayons, foam stickers, glue, scissors and a variety of paper, play masks and other items to decorate. Next to that was the bubble area, with all sizes of bubbles and bubble wands.

We will definitely be coming back.

Best of all, it has been such a peaceful, joyful day. Nobody got cranky. The kids were totally cooperative and never fussed, even about leaving or being in the car for the long drive. Even the ride back was pleasant. We played catch with a rolled-up sock until the kids fell asleep. Everyone just enjoyed everyone else.

Our typical days are, well, typical. Moments of chaos, someone gets grouchy (probably me), the kids watch too much TV, someone's always making a mess. One of these days I'll do a post on exactly what happens in a normal day (my dear friend Blessed Mama did this recently, and I was impressed at all that she accomplishes in an average day). But since today was such a delightful one, I want to hold on to all the memories. On the next normal day when everything seems to disintegrate, breathing in the happiness from today might restore the sunshine then.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My favorite perfume

Miniature perfume dispensers
Image credit williamcho on Flickr
I've always been fascinated by the way a particular fragrance can instantly transport us to a certain time and place when we smelled it. As a child, I remember when I would visit someone's house my clothes still smelled like it even after I got home. Even now I think that I could identify many places and people just by scent alone.

So what are my favorite scents right now? Hands down, my husband and kids. With our allergy issues we don't even do too much on strong scents like perfume, etc., but I just love the way their skin smells. One of the most soothing things I can think of is snuggling my baby close and breathing in her scent. When Carlos was gone this summer, in the moments when I most missed him I would bury my face in one of his shirts and it was almost like getting a hug.

Of course, we've all been around people who, bless them, tend to radiate a pungent miasma of their favorite aftershave or perfume. Then there are others who only as we get very close can we smell the lovely fragrance they wear. I kind of think that that God's scent is like that. You have to get close to Him to really smell it. One of my favorite verses is I Cor. 2:14. It talks about how God spreads the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. He does it through us. I hope that after visiting Him, my clothes smell like His house.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Peace--$1.97 a roll

Shortly after I posted, Carlos called to suggest meeting for lunch. So we enjoyed a lunch out together, an hour at the indoor playground, and then did our weekly shopping. I picked up a little kindergarten workbook for Ariana, and she is thrilled to be doing school. In the same aisle they had a roll of bubble wrap--ah, the joy of squeezing and popping the little bubbles!

Someone recently asked if I enjoyed peace and quiet. I laughed at the idea. Any mom with multiple preschoolers would join me in my mirth, I know. So, no, there isn't quiet, exactly. But the kids are delightedly popping bubble wrap and the house is full of peace. :)

It's the weekend!

Yay! Even better, next week is Fall Break! Well, at Carlos' university, anyway. So I still teach all my normal classes, but he'll have Monday, Wednesday and Friday off. I'm not sure what we'll do, but we always have fun when he is off.

Tomorrow is my favorite sister-in-law's birthday. I can tease her about being older (she is almost two months older than I). We're having a party tomorrow with grilled steaks and yummy sides. The kids and I are going to make our favorite blackberry wine cake today (it's Carlos favorite, too, so he is happy about that). My beloved sister may come over today, too. We'll also probably do a little shopping. Ariana and I will work in a chapter from the Bobbsey twin books. I also need to clean (always!), do some grading and a load of diapers.

Right now Joel is cuddled up on my lap--he loves to snuggle--and Elena just filled her diaper. Ariana is asleep, amazingly. She is usually the first one up.

Well, I better change Elena's diaper and get breakfast for the rest of us. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Almost afraid to hope, but...

I think Ariana may have outgrown her wheat allergy! I'm trying to stay calm and remind myself that a reaction could still occur, but inside I am jumping for joy. She initially tested positive for wheat almost two years ago. Because of concerns about celiac, we kept exposing her for a few weeks after eliminating her other allergens. Her reaction to wheat was strictly behavioral. It would make her loud and ultra-emotional. She'd have tantrums and be bouncing off the walls.

A year ago, she had a food challenge with out allergist and reacted very quickly. The nurse, who knows us fairly well by now, immediately recognized that that behavior wasn't typical for Ariana. The allergist agreed she was still allergic. So we have been good at avoiding it for quite awhile. She accidentally got a tiny bite a few weeks ago, though, and didn't react. Carlos and I both commented on it, but let it go.

Then I fixed tacos a few days ago and didn't realize that we were out of corn tortillas. We had flour tortillas for Joel (who is allergic to corn) and she begged to try one, so I let her, watching her carefully the whole time and telling her to tell me immediately if she started to feel yucky.

Disclaimer: I take allergies seriously, even though most of the reactions we've experienced haven't been too severe. If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, I do NOT recommend do-it-yourself food challenges unless you have Epi-pens and your allergist's approval.

She ate every bite and was happy and calm the rest of the day. She has had another taco everyday since then and no trace of a reaction so far! Her reaction to egg doesn't appear until about 5 days after exposure, so I know that she might still develop a rash or something. I am try to contain my excitement, but...wow! If we could have wheat again, it would open up so many foods for us!

No clever title--just a note about reading

I love to read. Besides eating ;) it is my favorite activity. Before Joel was born, Ariana and I read together all the time. She is starting to get to the point of being interested in longer stories, so I started thinking back to books that I loved when I was small. I happened to be on Amazon at the time and saw a great deal on the first 12 books in Bobbsey twin series.

So the last couple of days, we've all been piling on the couch together, and I'll nurse Elena while Joel and Ariana each try to snuggle (and I used to think juggling was beyond me!). We've been reading about a chapter at a time. So far each chapter has been from a different book, which is causing a lack of coherence in the storyline, but they prefer choosing the cover that is most intriguing at a given moment. I don't know when we will actually read an entire book, but they are having a good time.

Pro-life, pro-Obama

There is some very good information on this site that is worth checking out:


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Those pesky pebbles...

It seems like my two-year-old has had a runny nose for the last month. Today, however, I noticed that it has been much better. I was feeling relieved that it was finally drying up.

"Joel, how is your nose?"

(Deep sigh) "It has a bunch of little rocks stuck to it." (Note: His nose looked clean.)

"Um, you have some boogers?"

"Yes. I need you to dig them out."


Perhaps we need another lesson on the fine art of using a Kleenex.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Ultimate Back-to-School Fashion Accessory

My poor beloved husband and two-year-old were both sick today and my four-year-old had gotten her thumb smashed and was in need of some extra TLC. While I was sorry for all of them, it gave me an excuse to take Bittykins to class with me today. :)

I wore her in my wrap, so I taught vocabulary and she charmed the students. It was fun. She was so content--just smiled and then went to sleep. She loves for me to wear her, whether to class, around the house, or shopping. I love it because then my back doesn't get sore.

We originally tried the Baby-Bjorn-thing with Ariana, but she hated it and so did I. It seemed like she was uncomfortable, and it was a nightmare to get her in and out. Then my dear friend Heather showed me how to wear a wrap. Joel and Elena have both been very happy in them, and I love how much easier it makes things for me.

If you haven't used one before, just get 5 yards of fabric, fold it in half like a hotdog bun, and hem the edges. http://www.wearyourbaby.com/ has videos of different ways to tie it. It is super easy, and there are lots of possible positions. I use the $1/yd fabric from Walmart, so it is very inexpensive--you can make coordinating wraps for your favorite outfits.

I am so grateful for my deans. Two of them have gone out of their way to suggest babywearing for me, and have been delighted when I wore the kids to class. I know a lot of workplaces are not as knowledgeable or supportive. I hope that some of the students who have seen how easy it is will try it out!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Holy Ground

One trait that the kids and Carlos share is the ability to hear the same song over and over if they like it. I burn out pretty quickly, so I try to only buy the kids CDs that I don't mind hearing repeatedly. Thankfully, their current favorite is also one of mine, the old hymn This Is My Father's World, with lyrics by Maltbie D. Babcock (think of how much he must have overcome, with a name like Maltbie! That's even worse than Clive Staples, in my opinion. But I digress.). I love the reminder that God is always speaking to us. I find it so much easier to listen when I am surrounded by the beautiful world He has made--another good reason for us to try to preserve its beauty. Everywhere we walk is holy ground. Here is Maltbie's lovely poem:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wild nights are my glory

Image credit Striking Photography by Bo Insogna on Flickr
Ahem. I wasn't referring to *those* wild nights (although, as a very happily married woman, I consider them glorious, too. But that is another post). The quote, of course, is from one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle.

One of my favorite things about where we live is the beauty and ferocity of our thunderstorms. Even as a child, I delighted in dark and stormy nights. Carlos and our children share my love of thunder and lightening and fierce gusts of wind and rain. It releases a wild joy and exhilaration inside of me that nothing else quite matches.
Image credit Bev Knits on Flickr
Last night we got a very nice little storm. It brought to mind numerous quotes from another of my favorite writers and lyricists, King David.

"You called in trouble, and I rescued you; I answered you in the hiding place of thunder."--Psalm 81:7. What or where, exactly is the hiding place of thunder? As Anne would say, there is so much scope for imagination in that phrase!

"Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne...His lightnings lit up the world..."--Psalm 97:2, 4.
Image credit whosdadog on Flickr
 "Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides upon the clouds...the earth shook , the heavens poured down rain before God...You gave abundant showers, oh God; You refreshed your weary inheritance."--Psalm 68:4, 8-9.

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. ... The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning...and in His temple, all cry, 'Glory!'"--Psalm 29:3, 7, 9.
Image credit Striking Photography by Bo Insogna
The storm was over early this morning, and by early afternoon, the sun was out. Inside, though, my spirit is still moving in a rain dance, ready to exult with all creation as we listen to God's voice in the storm.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A moment of adoration

Elena was a bit fussy earlier this evening. I don't know what was bugging her, but something was obviously making her unhappy. On a bit of a tangent, it really upsets me when people dismiss a baby's needs as purely physical--if you are fed and have a clean diaper, then there is no reason to cry. Huh. How many times have *you* felt like crying, even though you have eaten and your clothes are clean? Emotional needs are just as valid as physical ones, and in a baby who cannot speak, how are we to know the difference, anyway?

So I picked her up, but that didn't work. We change positions, and that didn't work either. She didn't want to nurse. Finally, we found a position and rhythm while walking that made her more comfortable. She looked up at me with so much love and delight in her eyes--it was amazing how much she was able to convey without any words. It was a priceless feeling, to know that I had just made the world right for my little one. Of course, I set her down later, and she is starting to fuss again. So that is it for this post. :)