Sunday, December 13, 2009

Skating!

Christina has had a couple of firsts over the last couple of months.  Last month we went to a playgroup with our friends Kristina and Sigrid, and Christina got to roller skate for the first time!  It was a "kids skate" time, so all of the songs at the rink were "kid-approved," like the Sesame Street theme, the chicken dance, and "YMCA" (although I think the moms enjoyed that one more than the kids!).  The wheels on the toddler-sized skates were tightened up, so really it was more like walking than skating.

 
Kristina and I started out in socks so we could help the girls get used to skating, but after a while, we put on our own skates and joined in the fun.  Boy, roller-skating is a really good workout!  I'm kind of hoping that Christina will really come to enjoy it as she gets older, and we can go skating together.

After hearing that Christina had such a great time roller-skating, Sean decided to let her try ice-skating.  We went to the ice rink and she got all geared up, very excited to give it a try after seeing Daddy skate so often (he plays on a hockey team, and Christina and I go to his games when we can).


She got out on the ice, and of course it was much harder than being in the roller-skates, so she kept sliding in between Sean's legs.

 

She lasted about 30 seconds before she decided she'd had enough.  She did, however, like being carried by Daddy while he was skating, and she kept asking to do it again, but we didn't think it was a very safe idea.

I had her practice walking around on the skates while holding my hand, on the floor just outside the rink.  Sean and I tried a couple more times to get her back out on the ice, but she had had enough for that day.  Thankfully, at that particular ice rink, kids under 5 skate for free, so all we had to pay for was the skate rental.  I know Sean is looking forward to when she's a bit older when he can really teach her how to skate.  But for right now, I think we'll stick with roller-skating!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From the monitor...

The other night, I was lying in bed reading my book when I heard this from the bedside baby monitor:

"Mom?...(pause)...

Mom!...(pause)...

Mom!!...(pause)...

*sigh*...Mom must be sleeping...(pause)...(and I'm thinking, "she is SO sweet," until)...

MOM!!!"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Options

Christina's new favorite thing to say is "Can you give me some options?"

Whether the question is "What would you like to eat?" or "What show would you like to watch?", her response is always "Can you give me some options?"

It was really cute at first, and I know she picked it up from me.  I would ask her a question and she would say "I don't know," so I would say, "Would you like me to give you some options?"  But now she says it ALL THE TIME.

Even if I tell her no, I won't give her any options, she'll follow up with "Wanna think, think, think?"  She got this from the TV show "My Friends Tigger and Pooh."  There's a song on it that goes like this:

Now's the time to think, think, think.
If you have a problem, think, think, think.
Look at every clue like the Super Sleuths do
And just think - think - think!

It's really cute, but when you hear it every day, it kind of drives you crazy!

P.S.  After writing the word "think" that many times, it's kind of lost it's meaning!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Halloween?


OK, so I know it's past Halloween now, so it's an odd time to be writing this.  I also know that Christina and I had lots of fun this year celebrating Halloween, so it may seem wierd that I'm questioning it.

Recently I've been catching up on the blogs that I follow, and since many of them are written by Christian women, there have been lots of opinions going around about whether or not to celebrate Halloween.  Obviously, Halloween isn't Biblical.  (Actually, most of our American holidays aren't - nowhere in the Bible does it talk about commemorating Jesus' birth with a Christmas celebration, or His resurection with an Easter celebration.  As I understand it, these holidays were created by the Roman Catholic Church to draw attention away from pagan celebrations that were going on at the same time - note how Christmas is right around the time of the winter solstice, and Easter is at the beginning of spring.)

One blog that I read simply listed some scriptures and directed the reader to pray and follow God's leading.  Here are some of the scriptures that really affected me:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil . - 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. - Phillipians 4:8

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ... - Titus 2:11-13

This really makes me think that maybe it's not such a good thing to be celebrating Halloween.

One day shortly before Halloween, I took Christina to what we called the "Halloween store" - the old "Circuit City" store, which, since having gone out of business, had been transformed temporarily into a Halloween costume/decoration shop.  While there was a small section of the store with toddler costumes, which is what I was there to look at, most of the store was filled with lots of scary decorations, many of which had motion sensors, so the scary monster or decapitated head would start moving if you got too close.  It was then that I noticed an emotion in Christina that I had never seen in her before.  She was clearly terrified of being in the store, and yet she had such a curiosity about it that she didn't want to leave.  She had me carry her the whole time, and many times she buried her face in my neck, but when I said that we were leaving, she didn't want to go and started to throw a tantrum.  It really makes me think of when I'm watching a horror movie - I'm scared, but I don't turn the movie off - I want to see what happens, even though I know it won't be good.


Even during our trip to the zoo, when we went into the "Boomazium," Christina was really scared and had me carry her the whole way.  On Halloween evening, my father-in-law and his wife took Christina trick-or-treating around their neighborhood while Sean and I went out to dinner with a friend.  It sounds like everything went great until they got to a house with a motion-sensored ghost that was right around Christina's height.  Christina got scared and didn't want to go to that house, and then, to top it off, a lady in a witch costume came out and started playing some spooky music on her guitar.  Suffice it to say that after that house, Christina decided she was done trick-or-treating.


Thinking about all of that "evil" that Christina was exposed to makes me feel really bad.  If we're supposed to "meditate on" things that are "true...noble...just...pure...[and] lovely," then Halloween seems like the exact opposite of that.  The hard part is, of course, figuring out how to not celebrate Halloween when all of our friends and extended family do.  Even my church participates in a local "trunk-or-treat."


I've thought about finding a church that hosts a "harvest festival" or "harvest party" on October 31st, but as this website (scroll to the second article) points out:


The Harvest Party is usually referred to as the Christian alternative to traditional Halloween hijinx. Alternative, however, implies substitute. It assumes our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won't be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something.


Now, as I said before, I feel torn.  On the one hand, I feel like there are lots of ways to "tone down" Halloween and make it less scary - after all, there are plenty of very cute costumes that wouldn't be considered scary or evil at all.  But...it does seem like it would be hard to get away from being exposed to anything scary on that day, since I'm not in control of what other people wear as costumes or use as decorations.  And ultimately, Halloween is not, and never will be, a Christian holiday...even if churches do join in on the celebration.

In any case, thank goodness I have a whole year to think about it and make a decision!

Friday, November 13, 2009

How I became the wife I am today

I have changed SO much since I got married, and I'd like to share that story with you.

Sean and I got married pretty much right out of high school - I was 19, Sean was 18.  Both of us come from families of divorce - his parents divorced when he was 2, my parents when I was 16 (although my parents are now reconciled and living together).  I definitely came of age with the belief that a woman can do anything a man can do, and that marriage should be a relationship between two equal partners.  Basically, I thought the main goal in life was to find happiness for yourself.  Boy have my opinions changed!

Shortly after getting married, Sean was stationed in Fort Worth, Texas (he was in the Marine Corps), so our first experience of living together was thousands of miles away from our family and friends.  I soon found out this was a blessing in disguise.

As a newly married, newly cohabitating couple, we of course had fights, and each one seemed like the worst fight we ever had, even if it was about something trivial.  During that first year I called my mom SO much to vent about whatever fight Sean and I were in the middle of.  She was always totally supportive of me, and she would get good and mad at Sean WITH me.  I soon learned the problem with this.  Because even after Sean and I had talked things out and made up, my mom would still be holding a grudge against him.  It took me a few years before I realized that for the sake of my marriage, I had to stop venting to my parents.  So now, whenever they ask about how things are going between Sean and I, I always say we're doing great.  It's really hard to say that sometimes, when inside I'm REALLY angry and need to talk, but I've learned to keep my mouth shut!

Before we decided to have kids, Sean and I both worked.  He was still the main breadwinner of the house, as he was in the military, while I was basically going from job to job, trying to find a good "fit."   During this whole time, Sean did most of the cooking for us, and I did the cleaning (which really consisted of dishes, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom when it got to looking REALLY bad).  I had always planned to be a stay-at-home-mom once we had kids, and Sean let me know that in exchange for that, he wanted me to start cooking for us.  For some reason, I fought SO hard against that.  I had it stuck in my mind that I shouldn't have to cook.  Everything had been going just fine as it was - so why did it have to change just because I stayed at home?  Wasn't taking care of a baby considered a MORE than full-time job?  It was really a pride issue for me.  And I'll tell you, I really fought the idea as long as I could, and Sean knew it was something I wasn't happy about.

Then I got pregnant, and I quit my job shortly before we moved back up to Washington.  Sean and I decided I wouldn't work for the rest of my pregnancy, because let's face it - no one is going to hire a visibly pregnant woman.  And in any case, it would have only been a few months of work, because I planned to quit as soon as the baby was born.  And that's when Sean "put his foot down."  If I was going to stay at home, I was going to cook our meals and make his lunches for him to take to work.  ARGGGGGHHHH!  So, I did it, but I had a BAD attitude about it.  It took a really long time before I realized how God was at work in me during that time, destroying all that nasty PRIDE that I had in myself, teaching me to SUBMIT and OBEY.

When Christina was born, Sean and I went through a really rough patch.  I don't think either of us realized just how hard being a parent is.  On top of that, Christina had colic for the first 4-6 months of her life, so ALL of my time was spent taking care of her or sleeping.  I'm sure you see how this can be really bad for a marriage.  Sean was feeling neglected, so he turned to his computer games for distraction, and I was feeling exhausted and angry that Sean wasn't helping me out more!

Things definitely improved for us as Christina got older and a little more independent.  Both of our parents helped out with babysitting so Sean and I could go out on date nights.  And little by little, we connected with each other again.

But really, up until fairly recently, I always resented Sean a little bit for the freedom that he seemed to have.  When he comes home from work, he can relax and watch TV or play on the computer, while I take care of Christina pretty much 24/7 (not to say that he never plays with her, but it's only when HE wants to).  He has made it very clear to me that it is his job to go to work and support our family, and it is my job to take care of Christina and do all the cooking and cleaning.  Again, I felt that ugly PRIDE flaring up again.  Why should it be MY job to take care of Christina even after Sean got home from work?  I had friends who would hand off their kid to their husband as soon as they walked in the door.  These same friends would go to "moms night out" events while their husbands stayed at home with the kids.  To this day I have never been to one of those events.  And I thought it was just so UNFAIR.

But God has done a lot of work in me, and in my husband too.  I did a lot of reading on the subject of submission (One good book is Me? Obey Him? by Elizabeth Rice Handford, and another is The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Larua Schlessinger.)  I've come to see what a BLESSING (not an OBLIGATION) it is to take care of my family.  And as I've submitted to my husbands wishes (for childcare, cooking and cleaning, and intimacy), I've seen his love for me grow and grow.  He constantly tells me how good I am to him and how I make his life so much better.  And, a few months ago, Sean agreed to watch Christina for a couple hours every Wednesday evening so I could go to a Bible study (Considering he's not a Christian himself, this was a HUGE blessing!).

Recently, I saw a clip from the Rachel Ray Show on a blog post that talks about women who are living the way I am.  Stay-at-home-moms and wives who take pleasure in cooking and cleaning and keeping a home while their husbands go to work and support the household.  Now, to be honest, it would be hard for me to say that I really "take pleasure" in cooking and cleaning!  But at the same time, I wouldn't want my life to be any other way.  I'm not speaking for ALL women, just for myself, when I say that I truly believe that "my place is in the home."  I am SO looking forward to homeschooling Christina and seeing her grow and mature right before my eyes.  And I am so greatful to be able to bless Sean by taking care of our home and allowing him the freedom to relax when he gets home from work.  I never thought I would end up so "old-fashioned," but I love it!

P.S.  Here's another great blog post about being a "retro wife": On One Income

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christian dressing

No, I'm not talking about a new salad dressing made especially by/for Christians!  I've recently become interested in the way that Christians are called to dress (as in clothes).

Picture from Garlands of Grace

On Friday I read a blog post about Christian head covering.  I didn't even know that head covering was scriptural, until I was directed to 1 Corinthians 11:3-16:

3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
 11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.


There are lots of different opinions on this subject.  I've read that some people think that long hair is considered a covering, while others believe that you should wear a fabric covering over your hair.  Some people believe you should only wear a covering when praying or at church, while others choose to wear a covering all the time.  Some people believe that only married women need to wear head coverings, while others believe ALL women should.  I'm not sure how I feel about the subject, but I plan to do some more research on it.

In any case, reading about head covering got me interested in what the Bible says about how women should dress.  I found this blog which explained more about the subject.  It cites Deuteronomy 22:5:

5 A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.


Picture from The Play Dress


In biblical times (and really up until about 60 years ago), women did not wear pants - only men did.  What this says to me is that Christian women should wear dresses or skirts, not pants or shorts.  Of course, only a few verses later, the same chapter says:


11 Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. - Deuteronomy 22:11


and

 22 If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. - Deuteronomy 22:22


So I do see how that particular command may be seen as more cultural than as a command still to be followed today.


The Bible also says:

2 Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil.   Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams.  3 Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered.  I will take vengeance; I will spare no one." - Isaiah 47:2-3

What this seems to say is that having your thigh uncovered is likened to nakedness.  So, the dresses and skirts that we wear should be knee length or longer.


I believe that the idea of dressing modestly ultimately points to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28:


28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


As a Christian woman, it is my responsibility to make sure that I am not enticing any man (other than my husband) to lust after me.

After some thought and prayer on the subject, I've decided that I'm going to start wearing skirts everyday instead of pants.  This will not be an immediate change.  God made it very clear to me that I am not to use this new command as an excuse to overhaul my wordrobe and buy a bunch of new clothes.  Instead, it will be a gradual process.  I'll start wearing the skirts that I already have more often, and when I need to buy new clothes, I'll focus on skirts instead of pants.  (This goes for how I will dress Christina as well.)

The thing you should know about me in accepting this command from God, is that I am a jeans and t-shirt girl all the way.  This will not be an easy change for me to make.  But I've already noticed that just by wearing a skirt these last few days, I've thought more about God and how I'm doing this for Him.  It keeps my faith at the front of my mind - and maybe that's why God called me to take on this command.  He's reminding me once again that it's not about ME, it's about HIM.

If you'd like to read more about the subject of modest dressing, please check out these articles:
*The Bible's Dress Code
*Dresses Only

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Teeny Tiny Hamburger!

Am I the only one who thinks these hamburger gummi candies are just adorable?  They don't taste very good, and they're WAY too chewy - but they're SO CUTE!


Are you frustrated?


I've had a tough last few days with Christina.  I don't know what's going on, but she is going through a very defiant phase (which I know I've mentioned before - it comes in waves).  But she's also very good at picking up on my emotions when I'm losing my temper.  When I get upset, I tell her that "I'm very frustrated right now."  So now, when she notices that I'm in a mood, she'll ask me "Mommy, are you frustrated?"  And if I say yes, she stops what she's doing and gives me a hug.

She asks me if I'm frustrated if I'm in any mood other than happy, so I know I need to start putting names to my other emotions as well (sad, bored, etc. - I even told Sean I was feeling melancholy the other day!).  But I'm so glad that Christina can recognize when I'm not happy and that she wants to make me feel better.

I recently picked up a book from the library called No Matter What, by Debi Gliori.  In it, the child fox, Small, is feeling "grim and grumpy" and acts out by upturning the living room.  When the parent fox, Large, asks what's wrong, Small begins to ask if Large would still love him if he were a "grumpy grizzly bear" or a crocodile.  Large reassures Small that he will always be loved, no matter what.

I read that book to Christina last night before bed (and after a particularly "tantrum-y" evening).  I told Christina to always remember that no matter how frustrated Mommy and Daddy get, and no matter how mad she gets or how many tantrums she has, Sean and I will always love her.  I think God must have planned for me to pick up this book when I did, because the timing was perfect.  I don't think I impress enough upon Christina that love doesn't go away just because we're angry.  In fact, the reason we get so angry is because we love so much.

As a parent, I want the best for my child.  I want her to be safe and happy, and I also want her to grow up understanding that she IS under authority.  I want her to choose to surrender her life to God and submit to HIS authority.  And I know that in order for her to understand what that means, she has to know how to submit to parental authority first.  I've told her before, after a time-out, that she has to obey Mommy and Daddy because God put us in charge of her.  Obviously I'm very careful not to abuse the authority that I've been given, but I want her to know that by obeying us, she is obeying God and making Him happy.

So many people just HATE the idea of anyone being in a position of authority over them.  But you know what?  Submitting myself to God's will is so FREEING!  It means that I don't have to worry about my life - God will take care of me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  -Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.  -Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version

Friday, October 30, 2009

Brawl at Bartells


Yesterday evening I decided to go for a walk with Christina to our local Bartell Drugs store.  Basically, Christina was having a rough night (lots of tantrums and crying for no apparent reason), and I thought we could both be helped out by getting out of the house and getting some fresh air.

The walk went pretty well, and Christina actually walked most of the way (I brought along the stroller for if she got tired).  She really enjoyed splashing in the mud puddles we came across on our way to the store.

So we arrived at Bartells, and as soon as I walked up, I knew something wierd was going on.  There was a man in a baseball cap (from here on out I'll refer to him as Baseball Cap Guy) standing behind a big pillar and looking into the store's windows.  A lady walked out of the store, and he grabbed her and pulled her aside (she must have known him, because she seemed fine with this).  I heard him say "They're pulling a scam in there!" and point to someone in the store.  Christina and I went inside the store, and shortly thereafter, the lady came back inside (presumably to tell someone about the "scam"), but then I heard her ask one of the clerks where a particular item was and then go to find it...so I was a bit confused.  Christina started looking around in the makeup aisle near the front door.

Then, Baseball Cap Guy came in the front door, pulling a woman along with him.  He was saying something along the lines of "I saw what you were doing," and she was asking him to let her go.  Now I was starting to get really worried.  He pulled her into the aisle next to me, the shampoo aisle, and he motioned for this young guy in a black shirt (from here on out referred to as Black Shirt Guy) to come with him.  The lady was telling Baseball Cap Guy to let go of her, but he pushed her up against the shelves, holding her by the collar, knocking over a bunch of shampoo bottles (seriously, I felt like I was watching a movie).  Then Black Shirt Guy ran over and tackled Baseball Cap Guy, and as far as I saw, everyone fell to the floor.  One of the Bartells employees at the front of the store yelled out "Call 911!"

There were sounds of a tussle, and Christina started walking in that direction to see what was going on.  I told her to come back over by me (my heart was beating so fast!), and just then Black Shirt Guy got free and ran out the front door (thankfully, he was careful not to run into Christina, because she was right in his way).  Back in the aisle, I saw Baseball Cap Guy and a Bartells employee (she was wearing the Bartells red vest) getting up from the floor (I don't know how the employee got in the middle of the fight, but she did).  Baseball Cap Guy ran out after Black Shirt Guy (I have no idea where the lady went, but she wasn't there anymore, so she must have run out at some point).  Basball Cap Guy came back in a minute later and said "He ran over into the Safeway parking lot!"

Now that all the action had died down, I turned my attention to Christina.  She was pretty shaken up, and she started crying.  I kneeled down and talked to her - we talked about how scary it had been, but how it was all over now and wouldn't happen again.  I went with her to the back of the store and we went to the restroom, where she cried some more and then calmed down.  Then we walked around the store a bit, and I saw that a police officer had arrived and was talking to Baseball Cap Guy and some of the employees.  On our way out of the store, the lady employee that had somehow gotten in the middle of the fight said "I hope we didn't scare your little girl too much," and she asked Christina if she was OK.  Christina said yes, and we headed back home.

Christina decided to ride in the stroller most of the way home, and at one point she started crying again.  I asked if she was still scared, and she said yes.  She kept saying "I want to go home."  I told her that we were on our way, and that as soon as we got home, she could tell Daddy about how we saw the men fighting.  That seemed to cheer her up, and as soon as we walked in the door, she ran right up to Sean and said "We saw men fighting!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Angels in my midst?

Recently I started reading a new book, Angels in my Hair, by Lorna Byrne.  As you can see, on the cover there are two white feathers forming a circle around the title.

The book is a memoir about a lady who has seen angels for as long as she can remember.  These angels can appear in many different forms.  Sometimes they appear as a shaft of light, and sometimes they look like people, only brighter, as though they have a light radiating from inside them.  And yes, sometimes they have wings.  She communicates with the angels, and she said she wrote the book because the angels told her to.

Well, beginning a couple of weeks ago (before I even started reading the book), I've been finding little white feathers around my house.  I usually find one or two small feathers every day or every other day, either on the living room floor or the kitchen floor, and I have no idea where they're coming from.  Then, a few days ago, I remembered the picture on the cover of the book.  I'm honestly wondering if my angels aren't trying to leave me a message, telling me that they are REAL, that what this author is saying is true.  I'm sure this sounds crazy, and maybe there's a completely logical explanation, but I really like the idea of my angels reaching out and sending me this message!

God is in control

God has been so faithful over the years to provide for Sean's and my financial needs.  There have been times in our lives when we've been living practically paycheck to paycheck, with very little money in savings (like right now), and yet He always provides for us.  We always have enough to pay the bills, and we rarely have to use credit.  (The only debt we're in right now is a small car payment, along with our mortgage, if you would count that as a debt.)

Sean and I have wanted to buy a dining room table ever since we moved into our townhouse at the end of February, but we never had enough money to buy one.  There was always something we needed to buy that was a higher priority.  Both of us really like the idea of eating dinner at a table, rather than while sitting on the couch watching TV.  We did have a small, 2-person table at our old apartment, but we wanted something that would seat at least 3 people, since we've got Christina with us now.  On top of that, we like having friends over for dinner occasionally, but it's a bit awkward without a table to eat at.

It just so happened that our friend Kena's boyfriend was moving in with a new roommate, and he needed to get rid of most of his furniture.  Kena told us he had a dining room table and four chairs that he was looking to sell.  We got in touch with him, and he offered us the beautiful wood table and chairs for only $50.  Of course, we took him up on his offer, and now we have a dining room table!  We've only eaten at it once since we got it, but it was great to just have a quiet dinner and talk about how our days went.  Now I'm planning to get a large, unscented candle for the center of the table, and maybe some flowers to use as a centerpiece.

I've also noticed that whenever Sean and I come into a large deal of money, that's the exact time that the car breaks down or we have some other expensive catastrophe.  Honestly, this is such a blessing.  God has always made sure that we have money before we have any large, unexpected expense.  We're going to get a large tax return next year, since we were first-time homebuyers this year, and the government has a program going on right now where if you buy your first home, you get $8000, which you pay back in $500 increments over the next 16 yearly tax returns, with no interest.  We've got a few big expenses that we're expecting around that time, like buying a new hot water heater for our place.  But I wouldn't be surprised at all if some other big catastrphe happens around that time that costs us a chunk of that money.  And really, I wouldn't mind.

God is so good to provide for us when we're in need, and make sure we're NOT in need when we need to shell out the big bucks for something.  He helps us to always stay pretty even as far as how much money we have, which is good, since:

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." - Matthew 6:24


and

"...if riches increase, do not set your heart on them." - Psalm 62:10

Monday, October 26, 2009

Favorite Quotes from "Stepping Heavenward"

I suppose to those who look on from outisde we must appear like a most unhappy family, since we hardly get free from one trouble before another steps in.  But I see more and more that happiness is not dependent on health or any other outside prosperity.  We are at peace with each other and at peace with God; His dealings with us do not perplex or puzzle us, though we do not pretend to understand them.
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Katherine, speaking about her younger brother and his new love:
I have a strange and most absurd envy when I think what a good time they are having at this moment downstairs while I sit here alone, vainly wishing I could see more of Earnest (her husband).  Just as if my happiness were not a deeper, more blessed one than theirs, which must be purged of much dross before it will prove itself to be like gold.  Yes, I suppose I am as happy in my dear precious husband and children as a wife and mother can be in a fallen world, which must not be a real heaven lest we should love the land we journey through so well as to want to pitch our tents in it forever and cease to look and long for the home whither we are bound.
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mrs. Campbell, on her deathbed, to Katherine:
But before I go, I want once more to tell you how good He is, how blessed it is to suffer with Him, how infinitely happy He has made me in the very hottest heat of the furnace.  It will strengthen you in your trails to recall this my dying testimony.  There is no wilderness so dreary but that His love can illuminate it, no desolation so desolate but that He can sweeten it.  I know what I am saying.  It is no delusion.  I believe that the highest, purest happiness is known only to those who have learned Christ in sickrooms, in poverty, in racking suspense and anxiety, amid hardships, and at the open grave...To learn Christ, this is life!"
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May this prayer, which, under the inspiration of the moment, I can offer without a misgiving, become the habitual, deep-seated desire of my soul:
"Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Take what I cannot give - my heart, body, thoughts, time, abilities, money, health, strength, nights, days, youth, age - and spend them in Thy service, O my crucified Master, Redeemer, God.  Oh, let not these be mere words!  Whom have I in heaven but Thee?  And there is no one upon earth that I desire in comparison to Thee.  My heart is athirst for God, for the living God."
Stepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness (Inspirational Library Series) Stepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I dare say this is my favorite book. It's not just good reading - it's life-changing. This story of a woman's life journey with God is so inspiring and so REAL. Even though her story takes place in the 1800's, I can easily relate to it today. It's not just one struggle that she overcomes - it's a lifetime of getting to know her Heavenly Father. She has successes and failures, triumphs and tragedies, and through it all, she gradually comes to see God's hand over ever area of her life. This book has inspired me to want to know God better and love Him more. Of course, I can't do this on my own, but above all I am reminded that when I draw near to God, He draws near to me.

I highly recommend this book!

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Prowl

Christina and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle this evening for their annual Pumpkin Prowl.  It's an event where a portion of the zoo is decorated (the rest is blocked off), and there are lots of designated spots for kids to "Trick-or-Treat" and get candy.  A friend of mine went last year and said it was lots of fun, so I thought I'd check it out.

Man, was it crowded!  I mean, I expected it to be popular - I guess I just didn't expect that such a small portion of the zoo would be open, so there were lots of people in small spaces.  We had to wait in lots of LONG lines in order to get any candy.  Not to say that it wasn't a good time - actually, Christina was surprisingly patient waiting in all the lines.  She really enjoyed looking around and seeing the other kids' costumes.

Christina saw the wandering peacock shortly after we entered the zoo.  It wandered off (naturally!), and she didn't realize it was in the bushes right behind her.

Then, it almost came out of the bushes right in front of her.  Don't worry, I moved her out of the way before he stepped out!

I got a couple pictures of her in front of some jack-o-lanterns.  (In case you can't tell, they've got glow sticks inside them.)


Then, we headed over to the "Family Farm" area of the zoo.  We saw some goats while we were over there (the only animals that we saw the whole time).  And Christina enjoyed playing with the (non-working) water pump, while having a lollypop.


After that we went to the "Bug World" building and saw all the bugs, and by the time we got out of there, it was pretty dark.  We got in line to go into the "Boomazium" (typically called the Zoomazium).  It's usually a play area for young kids, but tonight it was decked out as a (fairly tame) haunted house.  It goes without saying that we had to wait in a HUGE line to get in.  So while we were waiting, I snapped some pictures!
Here's some jack-o-lanterns on spikes!  (And the reason the picture is so washed out is that it was TOTALLY dark by this time.)

A nice gentleman offered to take a picture of Christina and I in front of a huge jack-o-lantern.

Here's a creepy scarecrow that was just outside the building (sort of "Nightmare Before Christmas," I thought).

Once we were inside, it got pretty spooky.  It was one big, dark room, with BIG displays.  Christina was a little scared when we first walked in, what with it being so dark and the noises over the speakers so LOUD, but I explained that everything in the room was "pretend.".  I pointed out that the ghost and the bats flying overhead were attached to strings, so they could only go in a certain path.  That seemed to help her feel better about it.

There was a tall witch decoration that reached nearly to the ceiling, and over the speakers near her you could hear her cackling and saying, "Watch out for my spider friend over there, heee heee heee."  I didn't know what she was talking about until we rounded the corner and saw this:

A HUGE spider!  And keep in mind that the room was very dark - the display was only lit by some spooky blue and green lights.  The only reason the picture is so bright is that my camera's flash was on.  And not only was it a big, scary spider, but it was robotic, so it MOVED!

Christina didn't want to get too close to that one, and I don't blame her!
This scarecrow was quite spooky as well, but Christina didn't seem to mind it very much.

Christina was pretty relieved to exit the "Boomazium."  She said "It was scary in there!"

After that we did some more trick-or-treating and then headed back to the car.  All in all, we had quite a good time.  I'm not sure if we'll go back again next year, just because of all the long lines, but it was definitely worth checking out.  At one of the trick-or-treating "sites," we even got a beanie baby toy (Soybean the pig, whose birthday is January 3, 2007, just a couple weeks before Christina was born.  I thought that was pretty neat!).



Friday, October 23, 2009

Clever Girl

Sean, Christina and I were in the car on the way home from dinner at Larry and Melinda's tonight.  Sean decided to tell a joke.  Here's how it was supposed to go:

Sean: "What did the dog say after he got home from a long day at work?"
Me: "Ruff?"
Sean: "No, silly, dogs don't talk!"

Here's how it actually went:

Sean: "What did the dog say after he got home from a long day at work?"
Christina: "Noooo, dogs don't go to work!"

Even better!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I love Fall!

Here's Christina playing in the leaves outside our front door - so beautiful!


August 2007

October 2009


Gearing up for Halloween

Here's my measley attempt at decorating for Halloween.

Some cute window clings for our front window...

...and a banner on the front door (check out Christina's cute new raincoat!):

I was planning on having Christina dress up as a witch - I actually bought the costume the day AFTER Halloween last year, since all the costumes were on sale.  But when I tried it on her, I found that it was much too big (even though the label says 2-4 years).  The skirt and bloomers kept falling down to reveal her diaper underneath.  So I've decided instead to dress her in her bumblebee costume, which we've had since last year, but she hasn't officially worn for Halloween (she wears it every now and then to play around the house).  But here's a pic of the witch costume, which I hope to be able to use next year!

I know I've mentioned before that Christina loves trying on all the Halloween hats and headbands when we're out at a store.  Here's a mask that she decided to try on.  (After I take pictures of her, she always wants to look at the back of the camera to see how it came out.  When I showed her this picture of herself, she actually got a little scared.  I did too!)

Happy (almost) Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Answered Prayer

God is so good.  Allow me to ellaborate...

Last night I was kneeling beside my bed in prayer.  Usually I pray while laying in bed, before going to sleep, but last night I felt especially convicted that I needed to do some good, HARD praying.  See, I've been reading this book, Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss.  Through this book, I've been convicted about what a completely selfish, weak creature I am.  I've tried so many times to change certain aspects of myself (watching less TV, eating less fast food, drinking less pop, spending less money).  Once I make up my mind to change something, I'll do pretty well for a day or two.  Then, I just settle back into my old ways, as if nothing had changed in me at all  It's just as the apostle Paul said in the book of Romans:

"I want to do what is right, but I can't.  I want to do what is good, but I don't.  I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." - Romans 7:18-19

This book has further convicted me that I consistently keep my thoughts focused on myself, rather than on God.  I get annoyed at difficult circumstances, rather than entertain the thought that maybe God brings hardship into my life to change me, bring me closer to Him. 

One character in the book, Mrs. Campbell, explains to the main character, Katherine, that God brings "difficult" people into our lives for one of two reasons: 1)for the good that they might do us, or 2) for the good that we might do them.  I see how little self-control and self-denial that I have displayed with certain people who I have deemed "difficult."  Instead, I got angry and frustrated.  I determined that I would get my way and would not let them impose on my life.  I wanted to keep my BOUNDARIES.  Only now do I see how much teaching I may have missed out on by failing to deny myself and focus on Jesus.

So during this prayer session, I was not only confessing my sins, but asking God to change my sinful nature.  I was crying.  A phrase came into my mind that I kept repeating over and over: "More of you God, and less of me!"  I'm so tired of myself, so ready for God to transform me into the person He wants me to be.  I'm not sure who that person is, but as long as He's in control, it's got to be good.  Of course, I'm also fully aware that God does not change us overnight, but over a lifetime, drawing us closer to him in small steps.  To quote my book:

Katherine: "I have a great many little trials, but they don't do me a bit of good.  Or, at least, I don't see that they do."

Mrs. Campbell: "No, we never see plants growing," she said.

Katherine: "And do you really think, then, that perhaps I am growing, though unconsciously?"

Mrs. Campbell: "I know you are, dear child.  There can't be life without growing."

I was wiping my eyes when Sean came into the room.  Seeing that I had been crying, he asked me what was wrong.  I told him about my struggles, about how I've been trying to make changes and failing miserably.  He asked me if I'd like his help, to keep me accountable in the changes I want to make (like I said before, less TV for me AND Christina, less fast food, less pop, spending less money).  I accepted his offer, knowing full well that he WILL keep me accountable, and that will make this much harder for me.  I won't be able to fall back into my old ways as easily, because now I'll be disappointing not only God, but my husband.  Maybe that sounds funny, because disappointing God should be worse to me than disappointing my husband.  But I think I unconsciously know that God will forgive my misgivings, while my husband may not.

Sean and I talked for quite a while, and I got some great ideas.  For example, the reason I think I have so much trouble with spending too much money is that I use shopping as recreation.  When Christina and I are at home, and I'm being good about keeping the TV off, we inevitably get bored and want to go somewhere.  The weather is getting pretty cold, so going to the park isn't as inviting as it was during the summer months.  The only indoor thing that I can think to do is go to a store.  And somehow, I always end up buying something that I don't really need.  So Sean's idea is, when I go out, leave my money and credit cards at home.  That way, I have no opportunity to buy anything.  (So simple - why didn't I think of that?!)

Sean also reminded me that I shouldn't expect to change all of these things overnight.  It's a process (God is all about the PROCESS, remember?).

I'm just so blessed to have Sean as my husband.  I don't think a lot of husbands would be as understanding and helpful as he was with me.  When we laid down to go to sleep last night, I told him, "I knew God would answer my prayer.  I just had no idea He would do it this fast!"

God is so good.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Expectations

I just read in a magazine that the average age that girls start using the potty is 35 months, and for boys it's 39 months.  So why is it that as soon as a kid turns 2, everyone starts asking if you're potty training yet?

Christina is not potty trained, and as far as I can tell, it will be a while before she is.  She couldn't care less whether her diaper is full or not.  And, honestly, I think it's easier dealing with diapers than potties.  Once she IS potty trained, I have to worry about always knowing where the nearest bathroom is when we're out and about.  Because when a kid's gotta go, they've GOTTA GO!  They have no concept of "holding it."  I'll deal with that challenge when it comes, but I'm not rushing to get there!

Hopefully by keeping the pressure off, it will be a quick and painless transition when Christina decides to start using the potty.  I know some parents who think that if I don't encourage her, she'll never learn.  But I don't recall ever hearing about a high schooler still wearing diapers because their parents never taught them to use the potty!

She...is...weaned!

I meant to write about this a few weeks ago, since that's when it actually happened.

I decided a while ago that I would do extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding beyond one year) and child-led weaning (allowing Christina to decide when to stop nursing).  Nursing was always such a special time between Christina and I.  Even on our worst days, when she was nursing, she would calm right down and relax in my arms.  It was great therapy for both of us, so I wasn't in any hurry to bring it to an end.

She nursed almost exclusively until she was about 18 months old.  At that point she started eating food, but she still nursed quite a bit.  Somewhere around 2 years old, she stopped nursing during the day. She would still nurse before going to sleep (for a nap or at night), and then a few times during the night.  By 2 and a half, she had given up the feeding before going to sleep, and she would just nurse when she woke up during the night (although really she'd just latch on for a minute or two and then be done, so I knew she wasn't getting much milk anyway).

A few weeks ago Christina came down with a cold - this was before the cold last week when I took her to the doctor (two colds in a row - no fun!).  One night she woke up asking for milk, but once I got her in position on the Boppy pillow to nurse, she wouldn't latch on because she couldn't breathe through her stuffed-up nose.  So I laid down with her and we cuddled while I ran my fingers through her hair.  Eventually we both fell asleep.  She woke up a couple hours later, again asking for milk, but I knew she'd have trouble again, so I said "No milk right now.  Do you want me to play with your hair or rub your back?"  She was OK with that, and fell back to sleep.

The next night I tried nursing again, but after skipping a night, my nipples hurt like crazy when she latched on.  So that feeding only lasted a few seconds before I stopped her, and for the rest of that night, whenever she woke up, I'd just run my fingers through her hair or rub her back until she fell back to sleep.

I was surprised not to have any feeling of fullness or engorgement after she stopped nursing, although like I said, she wasn't getting that much milk from me at her feedings anyway.  Then, about a week later, I felt that engorged feeling again, and was in pain for a couple days.  It was wierd that it took a week for enough milk to build up to make me uncomfortable.  I even tried getting her to nurse again on one of those painful days, but she just looked at my nipple, then looked up at me as if to say "What am I supposed to do here?"  It's like she already forgot!

Christina still wakes up in the middle of the night asking for milk, but I always just tell her "No milk, but I can play with your hair or rub your back."  She's always fine with those options and falls quickly back to sleep.  I'll really miss breastfeeding - all the cuddling and closeness.  It was a really nice way to just stop and relax, for both of us. 

My little girl is growing up!

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Love and I

Here is a fun survey from a blog that I follow . I hope you enjoy it!

♥How long have you been together?
In January, we will have been married 8 years.  We dated for about a year before that, so 9 years altogether.

♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?
About a year.

♥ Who asked who out?
Sean asked me, but it was quite a while before I said yes - I really wasn't interested at first!

♥ Who made the first move?
Sean made it very clear that he wanted to kiss me early on, but he waited until I was ready.  So officially, I kissed him first.

♥ How old are each of you?
We're both 26.

♥ Did you go to the same school?
Yep, we met in high school.  We were in American Sign Language class together.

♥ Are you from the same home town?
We're both from Mukilteo.  I was born in Ellensburg, and when I was 2 year old, my parents moved us to Bellevue.  But I lived in Mukilteo from 4th grade on, so I still consider it my hometown.  Sean was born in Edmonds, and lived in Mukilteo from when he was very young.

♥ Who is the smartest?
That's a dangerous question!  I think it depends on "smartest at what?"

♥ Who majored in what?
Neither of us went to college.  Sean joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, and he was trained in aviation mechanics and parachute rigging.  I had lots of different jobs, but right now I'm getting my major in Motherhood!

♥ Who is the most sensitive?
Me.

♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Probably The Olive Garden.

♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
We moved from Washington State to Fort Worth, Texas for four years when he was in the Marines.

♥ Who has the worst temper?
He does.  I've learned to endure the yelling and cussing that go on during some of his online games.

♥ How many children do you want?
We're happy with one.

♥ Who does the cooking?
I do, but occasionally Sean will make us a delicious breakfast.

♥ Who is more social?
It depends on how you mean "social."  Sean has more friends that he interacts with on a daily basis, but his interaction is online, over the computer.  I'm more social as far as getting out of the house and seeing people face-to-face.

♥ Who is the neat-freak?
I would say neither of us, but Sean seems to think he is.

♥ Who is the most stubborn?
He is.

♥ Who wakes up earlier?
Definitely him.  It's tough for him to sleep later than 7 or 8AM, even if he's been up late the night before.  I could sleep much later if I didn't have Christina waking me up!

♥ Where was your first date?
Our first official date was at Billy McHale's, a restaurant in Lynnwood (which just closed down - sad).  We did go out to dinner together once before, at Kosta's in Mukilteo, but we weren't actually dating yet.

♥ Who has the bigger family?
He has one brother - I'm an only child.  So he has a bigger family, but not by much.

♥ Do you get flowers often?
No.

♥ How do you spend the holidays?
Thanksgiving is either at my Aunt Teri's place or his dad's place.  Christmas Eve is at my Aunt Barb's, and Christmas Day is at his dad's.

♥ Who is more jealous?
I don't think either of us is particularly jealous, although we don't give each other any reason to be.

♥ How long did it take to get serious?
I remember knowing that Sean was the one for me on that first date at Billy McHale's, because he asked if this was the official day (January 21st, 2000) that we were starting to "date."  He wanted to know what day to celebrate our anniversary.  So it was pretty serious right from the beginning.  We got engaged just before Christmas of that year.

♥ Who eats more?
I don't really pay attention.  I hope it's him!

♥ What do you do for a living?
Sean works in security at Boeing.  I'm a stay-at-home-mom.

♥ Who does the laundry?
I do.

♥ Who’s better with the computer?
Sean

♥ Who drives when you are together?
Usually Sean, but if he's had a rough day, or is just tired of driving, I will.

♥ What is "your" song?
I would have to say "Come What May" from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack (although I think I've already mentioned that in a previous post).

Now it's your turn!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Hidden Art of Homemaking The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Don't be fooled - this book is not just for housewives and stay-at-home-moms. This is a book for everyone. It's about re-discovering your passions. Since this book covers such a wide variety of subjects, there were a couple of chapters that I skipped/skimmed through, but most of the chapters were such an eye-opener for me.

I'm reminded that I don't have to be in a specific situation to enjoy the hobbies that I used to love. I may not be in a choir anymore, but I can still sing along to my favorite songs at home, for the entertainment of my daughter and my God. I've also become inspired to start gardening (just indoors so far - it is October after all!). The chapter about Interior Decorating showed me just how important it is to surround yourself with things that comfort and inspire you, even if no one else will see. And the chapter on Food gave me the great idea of taking a sack lunch along with me when I go for walks, just in case I come across one of the local homeless men, who may want something to eat.

All in all, this book is totally inspiring!

View all my reviews >>

Monday, October 12, 2009

My sick girl

Saturday night at about 11:00, Christina woke up in a coughing fit.  I went in and tried to comfort her, but every time she tried to take a deep breath, she started coughing uncontrollably.  I thought it was croup, so I bundled both of us up and headed outside for some fresh air (and to check the mail, since I hadn't checked it earlier that day).  I've read that when a child has croup, you should either get into a steamy bathroom or out into the cool night air, since both will relax a child's vocal chords and make it easier to breathe.  She did seem to breathe easier after a few minutes outside, so we headed back in, and I cuddled with her until her cough died down and we both fell asleep.

Sunday morning, she woke up coughing and with a runny nose.  I knew we wouldn't be making it to church, but Sean and I still strapped Christina into her stroller for our weekly Sunday morning walk.  The fresh air seemed to be really good for her, and apart from having to wipe her nose several times, she did great.

Later on, as I was reading a book to her, I noticed tiny red spots on the skin all around her eyes.  They weren't bumpy or itchy, but I was still a bit worried, so I took her to the walk-in clinic.  We had to wait for a while before we got in to see the doctor, and while we were waiting, the lady at the front desk said Christina had to wear a mask since she had a cough.  She handed me a little surgical-type mask the perfect size for Christina.  I can't decide if it was terribly cute, or just sad.


Of course she took the mask off after a few minutes, and eventually I gave up trying to convince her to put it back on.  Most of the people in the waiting room were wearing masks themselves anyway, and I made sure we stayed away from everybody else.

Eventually we got in to see the doctor, and as it turns out, he said the red spots are most likely little blood vessels that popped when she had her big coughing fit.  As far as her being sick, he said it seems like a virus, and it should get better within a few days.  The spots, however, may take a week to a week and a half to go away.  So we're homebound for now (watching lots of TV of course), and I'm just trying to get her as much rest as possible.  The tough part is that whenever she lays down, she starts coughing, so it takes a really long time for her to get to sleep.  Hopefully this won't last long!

Fun at Ikea

Christina and I went with my mother-in-law, Brenda, to Ikea on Saturday, and we had a lot of fun.  Christina really enjoyed trying out all the kids' beds.



She also liked playing in the toy section. 


Here are some little "egg" chairs.  The fabric at the top pulls down all the way, so the child can be completely hidden in the egg.


We had a great time hanging out with Grandma Brenda, giving her some Christmas gift ideas and grabbing some lunch!