Why blog? I don't even have a facebook account...it feels like it makes life so public. But then--blogging is kind of like a diary, isn't it? It makes me feel a little like Doogie Houser at the end of the day--collecting my thoughts and putting them down. I don't want to blog because I want my life to be public (though I don't mind wearing my heart on my sleeve, most of the time) or because I'm a narcissist, but because these days of our young family are so precious I don't want to lose them to a faulty memory. This time, this stage, these moments truly are 'a time to keep', and blogging is simply the most convenient way to keep them and share them.

I really didn't think I'd ever start a blog...but now that Mac has stopped calling firetrucks "fire knuckles" (he now calls them firetrucks, and I'm so sad!), I realize I'll forget that he ever did that if I don't write it down. So, the blog begins. Welcome.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some Funny Mac-isms

Mac got a toy fire truck from one of my aunt Lynns (I have 2). It looks something like this:
He was SO excited when he unwrapped it. He loves firetrucks and always alerts us when he hears a siren in the distance (sirens are never police cars, sometimes ambulances, but usually firetrucks--according to Mac).

The new toy firetruck has a button...so Mac promptly pushed it...and then erupted the loudest, most realistic firetruck siren sound you can imagine. (Meanwhile, I am cringing, imagining my life filled with this siren for the next 3 months.)

But apparently Mac was cringing too--he looked at me and informed me that it was loud (pronounced "L-oww-d"). And he has not pushed the button since. He still adores the truck, but each time he picks it up to play, he looks at me and in a very matter-of-fact voice declares, "It's l-oww-d."

Another cute moment today--in an effort to shorten the effects of this cold, I gave Mac his first vitamin. I gave it to him and told him to eat it. He gobbled it up with a smile--loving it. After eating it, he looked at me and in his sweetest little toddler voice asked, "Mama, was that in m' m-oww-ff?" (translation: Mama, what's that in my mouth?). Oh, such sweetness.

Here's another cutie-pie moment: Mac got a really cool backpack from his aunt Meg and uncle Stephen for Christmas (btw--he thinks uncle Stephen hung the moon). It's so sweet--I actually got teary eyed last night when he tried it on, imagining his cute little pudgy tummy toddling off to his first day of school one day. He wanted to put it on again tonight, and proceeded to admire it in the full-length mirror. There he was, in his footed pajamas, hamming it up in the mirror, admiring his new backpack. He kept turning and posing, checking it out from all angles. He was so happy. It was seriously adorable.

I have been getting a kick recently out of Mac's response to the question: Do you have a dirty diaper? If he does, he says yes...but if he doesn't, he looks at me in all seriousness and says with his big blue eyes, "It's gas." Too funny.

2 more amusing Mac stories:

Mac loves chocolate-covered raisins and hates getting his ears cleaned. Though I usually object to parental bribery, what's the harm in taking advantage of the benefits every once in awhile? So, he gets a chocolate-covered raisin if he lets me clean his ears (they get yucky in a hurry...is this true of all toddler boys??). His new ploy: coming into the bathroom when I'm putting on my makeup or drying my hair, and saying with a coy grin, "Mama, clean ear! Get chocolate?" Who says very young children don't understand rewards and consequences? (I don't give in to this ploy unless his ears are actually dirty...but like I said--they very often are.)

On Christmas night, 39 of my aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings gathered at my Grandmother's house (these are the descendants--and their spouses--of my grandparents...a lot of people and not everyone was able to come!). Mac has not seen many of these people since he was 2 months old--2 Christmases ago. But he had no trouble making himself right at home, running around, talking to anyone who would listen. He doesn't see "Gamie" (his great grandmother) often, yet he went right up to her and gave her a hug when we arrived. One of my relatives made the observation--"Wow! He's not shy at all!" Nope. He's not.

So here are some funny Mac moments from Christmas week. He keeps us laughing, when he's not making me want to pull my hair out!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hopes and Fears

My favorite line from a Christmas carol--this year, at least--is from "O Little Town of Bethlehem":
"The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight."

I know this is not inspired scripture--but it's a scriptural truth. What a precious thought...all my hopes...all my fears...all of EVERYONE'S hopes and fears...every hope and fear for all of time--met in Christ becoming man.

Conversation at one of our family-gathering Christmas meals turned to the recent death of actress Brittany Murphy (in her early 30s). Someone speculated that her death may have been caused by prescription drugs that were found in her home, and the conversation turned to how celebrities seem to achieve all they've hoped and dreamed--yet still turn to substance abuse and other vices to fill the emptiness that still gnaws at the center of their hearts.

It struck me that this is not only true of celebrities. I have all I've hoped for and dreamed about--an amazing husband who I am more in love with today than ever; healthy babies; a cozy house in a neighborhood I love; wonderful (truly wonderful) family and friends...THIS is the life that I've wanted for years. This is exactly where I wanted to be at this point in my life. I am blessed beyond measure.

And yet.

If I made it here--to all I've wanted for years--and didn't know the Lord...I would feel the same: an emptiness, gnawing, a feeling of having been deceived by our culture that happiness is within reach. "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1). I DO feel that way when I drift from him, which sadly happens so easily.

This cruel world breeds fear and jealousy. I find myself looking at others who seems to have everything and wish for it too, without realizing that their smiles are often masks for pain.

But this little promise, this little reminder breaks through: "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight." Because in the end, all my hopes and fears are ultimately--if I am honest with myself--a need for the Lord: his comfort, his life, his redemption, his depth. I think happiness is somewhat flimsy, definitely fleeting. But contentment and joy can be strong, lasting, and real. Joy to the world!

PS--I don't think it's Biblical that Jesus had some sort of internal light shining from him like he is pictured above. That would, in fact, be sort of creepy. But I do like the painting.

PPS--I began this post in a somewhat euphoric Christmas eve holiday mood. Now I've returned to edit it after a few days of cooking, feasting, sugar-highs, piles of wrapping paper and empty boxes, remembering what gifts to take where (not to mention bringing extra diapers, pacis, spare outfits {just-in-case}, the ever-important camera, whatever food I've promised to contribute, and the dog--and remembering to bring the poor oft-forgotten pup home again), late nights in the car singing the ABC's to Mac way past his bedtime over Arden's screaming, insane amounts of new toys--some with 100,000 parts, trying to find cute outfits that fit my 9 week postpartum nursing self (while also trying to dress my kiddos in their holiday best and staying on top of the beast that is laundry), doing my best to make sure Mac behaves and Arden is fed, rested and clean during multiple extended family-gatherings, trying to keep my children from catching their cousin Samuel's cold (which didn't work, by the way--so now we're on the road to another ear infection I bet), all while trying to keep the true meaning of Christmas in perspective...

...on some level, my HOPE is that I will have a somewhat clean and organized house soon...my FEAR is that I won't!!!! It's as simple as that!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Arden Lately

Well, I post a lot about Mac because he's such a ham and so entertaining lately. But here's the buzz on Arden...

She's been sleeping through the night (midnight to 8 or later) for about 2 weeks. Merry Christmas baby!

She's a big flirt and so social! Sometimes she'd rather smile and tilt her head--baby flirting!--than eat. (Mac was NEVER like this if food was involved.)

My sweet Arden is pretty chill. She can put herself to sleep on her own in the crib if she's not overtired. She can calm herself down sucking on her fists if I'm a little late feeding her (note--I said she CAN. That doesn't mean she always DOES. We do live in reality over here.)

She HATES it when I put a hat on her when she's already in the carseat. It's not the hat she minds--there's no problem when I put a hat on her at other times--it's just the tilting her head forward. Hates that.

This little sunshine is as tall as her brother was at 8 weeks (24 inches) but weighs 2 pounds less. (She weighs 12lbs 10 oz; Mac weighed 15lbs.) Tall and skinny.

I have learned never to change her diaper before she eats...because she starts nursing...and relaxes...and THEN it's time for a diaper change. Maybe a couple of diaper changes, in fact. (Arden, if you go back and read this when you're 15, please remember that all babies--er--go. Just the way it is. Nothing to be embarrassed about.)

So that's our Arden. Sweet little smiler.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Or Something"

As Mac becomes more proficient at talking, he's picking up on phrases that just crack me up. The latest is "or something". He just tags this on the end--with a mumble--of various sentences, and it's hilarious:

"I eat a sandwich...or something..."
"He fall down...or something..."
"Go this way...or something..." (Speaking of which, Mac LOVES to tell me which way he wants me to go.)

I suppose I must say "or something" a lot? I hadn't noticed. I should pay better attention--apparently he is!

Along the same lines, a dear friend's daughter--who is Mac's age--looked at her the other day and said, "By the way Mom, I have a dirty diaper." By the way??!? So funny.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great (like, ridiculously great) Is Thy Faithfulness

I've been reminded of the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father in 2 powerful but quite different ways this week--one serious, one lighthearted--both vivid.

The first, the serious one, I will not describe here because it involves the health of a loved one...and I don't think it's my business to give details about that on the world-wide-web.

But, the second, the lighthearted one...well, it's just ridiculous (in a good way), and this is the perfect place to share it.

Yesterday, Mac was napping and Arden had just finished eating...Brad was home...all these factors add up to one glorious reality: NO ONE NEEDS ME RIGHT NOW. I looked at Brad, asked if he could spare me for an hour (well, of course he could), and I skipped out the door to do a little Christmas shopping.

Who in their right mind goes out in the middle of the afternoon the Saturday before Christmas with a long and very specific gift list? Me. That's who.

So, I prayed. It may seem like a pithy thing to pray for, but I asked the Lord to provide what I needed in this tiny window of time. I asked the Lord to keep me from stressing about it. I asked the Lord to help me find things quickly and for a good price. If we, who are human, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our Father in heaven give good things to those who ask?

I pulled into the first store--hoping, but not sure, they would have what I needed. I got the absolutely closest parking space--the rest of the parking lot was packed. Ridiculous. I dashed inside. Prayed that they would have it (can't share what it is because the recipient may read this). Prayed that it would be the right kind. Prayed that it would be under a certain price.

After a few moments of looking, I found exactly what I was trying to find. There was only ONE, and it was precisely the right kind. One dollar under my budgeted amount. Wow. Ridiculous.

When I went to pay....it rang up HALF PRICE. Amazing. Ridiculous.

Well, I thought it would take me the whole hour outing to find this one thing. But only 15 minutes had passed. So, I thought I'd swing by Belk on my way home, see if they had something cute Mac could wear for Christmas. I was envisioning a red cable-knit sweater vest. How sweet would that be?!?

It's always a bad idea to envision something that specific apparel-wise. You'll never find it.

But...I got to Belk. Scored another awesome parking spot. Dashed into the children's section. The FIRST thing I saw is a red cable-knit sweater vest in exactly--EXACTLY!--Mac's size. On a table marked 50% off. And they only had one left. For real.

This is ridiculous. But the story doesn't end there.

I purchased the sweet little sweater vest (which he tried on today, by the way, and he looked soooooo cute. I could eat that kid up!), jumped in the car, called Brad. He says things are cool at home...so I have time to run to Target to get Mac's gifts. (At this point, I've only been gone 30 minutes--insane! The Saturday before Christmas and in 30 minutes I've bought 2 things, exactly what I was looking for?? Ridiculous!!!)

So, I ran to Target. Found a perfect shirt on clearance to wear under the sweater-vest. Found a book and a dump truck for Mac. Took my loot to the front...

Well, the dream had to end somewhere, right? There must have been 200 people waiting in lines at the front of the store (I am not exaggerating, it was seriously crazy in there). But I was cool with it. After all, I'd had a good run. I picked a line. I was last. There were about 15 people ahead of me. Oh well.

Then...I am not lying...a little red elf (well--that's an exaggeration--he was just a Target employee) came up to me and said, "Come with me, ma'am." For real?!?!? I followed him to customer service, they checked me out. I was out of Target in 20 minutes. REEE-DIC--U-LOUS. In a good way.

It would be easy to chalk this up to good luck or happenstance. But it's not. I prayed for help. The Lord sent help. I know the Lord is not a heavenly Santa Clause just waiting to wave his magic wand (yes, I realize that's a fairy godmother, but how else to put it?)--and sometimes he answers our prayers by saying "no" for a reason; but I also know he delights to provide and he is able. HE. IS. ABLE.

I know my shopping trip is ultimately very trivial. I know the Lord didn't answer my prayers only to help me out--he answered me to remind me of his faithfulness and caring as my Father in heaven. To demonstrate his power over ALL things. To remind me that his caring hand is on me, on my family.

This, at the end of a week that has been stressful for other reasons (the serious incident I mentioned at first), the Lord reminded me that he is orchestrating all the details of our lives. It's ridiculous. In a good way.

Recent Mischeif

Mac can now open the pantry doors. I should child-proof that, really. I'm learning that lesson daily.
Who needs toys when there are packing peanuts?
The endless delights of the kitchen sink...
...and playdough. Mac always requests for us to make "M"s and mushrooms. Random.
Yes, that's a drum on top of his head.
Mac LOVES spatulas. Carries them around the house. Oh, that's cinnamon he sprinkled over the onion I just cut. Mac loves cinnamon and if it's within reach will add it to any food. (Yes, the knife I'd just used to cut the onion was safely out of reach.)
He would eat oranges all day long if I let him.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Conversations with Mac

Mac only answers about 70% of non-yes-or-no questions. Here's how it goes:

Me: Mac, what did we do today?
Mac: Do.
Me: What did we do?
Mac: Do.
Me: Where did we go?
Mac: Go.
Me: Did we go to the store?
Mac: Ride truck store! (Reference to riding the truck cart at the grocery store.)
Me: What did we buy at the store?
Mac: Buy.
Me: Yes, that's right we bought something. What did we buy?
Mac: Buy.
Me: Did we buy bananas?
Mac: Bananas and apples!

He also answers "yes ma'am", "yup", or "uh-huh" to all yes-or-no questions. (He never answers "no" to anything.) So, if I'm trying to figure out if he's done something he shouldn't have done...I ask and he always answers yes.

Me: Mac, did you eat play dough?
Mac: Uh-huh.
Me: Mac, did you make baby Arden cry?
Mac: Yup.
Me: Mac, did you throw the ball in the house?
Mac: Yes Ma'am.

So this helps nothing. It's a brilliant strategy if you think about it. Always say yes...mom doesn't know when to believe you...but can't accuse you of denying anything.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jesus Was a White Man and Mary Is a Single Mom

Tonight at supper:
Mac: (pitching a fit because he has to eat some of his other food before he can have more sweet potato) Waa! Waa! Waa!
Brad: (Singing) Surely he taught us to love one another! His name is ...? (An attempt to distract and/or cheer Mac, Brad sings the second verse of O Holy Night but is not sure of the words. Who knows why.) How's it go?
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Kelley: Um...maybe his name is peace?
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Brad: (Singing) Surely he taught us to love one another! His name is peace and his gospel is light!
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Kelley: Did you say he is white?
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Brad: No, I said his gospel is light. But Jesus was a white man. (Sarcasm! We think it's funny when we see pictures of a blue eyed Jesus...because, hello--he's JEWISH!)
(Brad and Kelley don't notice--Mac is suddenly listening intently.)
Kelley: We've got to be careful--Mac's going to go to church and tell his Sunday School teacher that Jesus was a white man.
Mac: Jesus was a white man!
Brad and Kelley: Hahahahahahahahaha!
Mac: (realizing that he's funny and wanting to make us laugh) Jesus was a white man! Jesus was a white man! Jesus was a white man!
Fortunately, this actually sounded more like, "She-us-what-uh-et-mun." So, we're safe for now. Only mom and dad actually know what he's saying.
In other news, Jospeh is missing from our nativity scene, so Mary is currently a single mom. (Ironically, our baby Jesus IS white. But so far Mac hasn't noticed.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chic-fil-a Playground: An Era Begins

So fast food restaurant playgrounds kind of freak me out. They seem germ infested and somehow cheap. But if you think about it, they're no more germ infested than a neighborhood park or the church nursery. And it doesn't seem like a battle worth fighting--keeping Mac away from something so obviously fun and cool.

We ate at Chic-fil-a last night after getting our Christmas tree. We made the mistake of sitting near the playground. Mac ate his kid's meal, and then his attention wandered to the colorful, enticing play area. We noticed him staring at it, riveted. Then, a few minutes later, he quietly whispered, "People in there." Yes, Mac, there are people in there...

After awhile (and a few more sips of milk), we hear again--a tiny awed whisper--"People in there." Accompanied with a point.

A few minutes later, there's another whisper, "May I be 'scused?" (We've taught him to ask to be excused since he's been sitting in a big-boy chair.) We said yes. He got down, took a few steps, and looked more closely at the monstrosity. Came back to the table and whispered again, "May I be 'scused?" (Translation: Can I go in there? Will you come with me?)

Oh...I wanted so badly to say no! You'll catch the swine flu, Maccers. You'll get hand-foot-mouth disease. You'll get athletes foot. But of course a two-year-old cannot process these reasons. And I know that he's in as much danger in the church nursery as he is at Chic-fil-a or the grocery shopping cart. So...Brad went with him...they took off his shoes (required for the indoor playground)...and Mac just stood at the bottom of this huge jungle gym...and stared up.

Nothing else really happened. He's too small to climb up the platforms, and he was a little scared anyway. But I know we've entered a new era...an era where if I don't want him to play on the playground, I should just go through the drive-through rather than torture him by keeping him off it while the other kids play. And it won't be long for our little monkey to be tearing it up on the Chic-fil-a playground. There are worse things, right?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wise Men and Raincoats, "Too TIght" and 8 hours!

Wise Men and Raincoats:
When we got out the nativity scene tonight, Mac informed us that the wise men, shepherds, and Mary and Joseph are wearing raincoats. I suppose I can sort of see how the garb from the time of Jesus is poncho-esk. I tried to explain that those are the clothes that people wore when Baby Jesus was born...but I have a feeling it will be awhile before that sinks in.

"Too Tight":
Mac's new way of complaining about anything not to his liking is to tell us that it's too tight. Sometimes this makes sense...he doesn't want to wear this pair of shoes--they are too tight. He doesn't want to be in his car seat so he complains it's too tight. (Neither the shoes nor the car seat are in reality too tight--but the complaint actually makes sense, at least.) He also applies the complaint to other things that make no sense: He doesn't want a particular food, so it's "too tight". He doesn't like that I've latched the screened porch door so he can't go outside and dig (his new obsession, by the way), so it's "too tight". So, in reality he has no idea what the phrase itself really means.

8 Hours:
Arden slept last night from 11:30 pm to 7:30 am. She turns 7 weeks today. YAY ARDEN!! I'm hoping it will last, but trying to remind myself that she's still brand new to the world and it's okay if it doesn't.

Speaking of the little girl, she's calling for me now. Hope this post makes sense because I don't have time at the moment to read back over it...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Go Gamecocks!!!

Stephon Gilmore lead h
I don't think it's any coincidence that Arden's first intentional smile (well, it seemed intentional anyway) was during the Clemson/Carolina game--as Carolina was wrapping up an amazing VICTORY over the Tigers. Yay Gamecocks!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." James 1:17

It occurred to me this Thanksgiving that the holiday becomes sort of cheap and generic without the Lord. You're thankful...but who are you thanking? We use the words "thank you" to express gratitude to a specific person--a being--for reasons great and small: I say thank you to the clerk at the grocery store for helping me, to my husband for a thoughtful gesture, to my mother for hosting a meal, to a stranger for holding the door. I don't thank the dishwasher for washing my dishes, my chair for holding my weight or the sun for shining. It would be silly if I did. Thankfulness is expressed to someone. Otherwise it's pointless--crazy, even.

Yet many celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving by expressing gratitude--naming and reflecting on our blessings--without thanking the source of this common grace. It's almost silly when you think about it: the classic Thanksgiving scene, family gathered 'round the table, each naming what he is thankful for. You can picture it, can't you? A mother thankful for her children, a father thankful for a wonderful meal, a child thankful for his puppy, a grandfather thankful for his family...but who are they thanking? From whom do these blessings flow?

This type of aimless thankfulness can be useful. It helps us realize how fortunate we are. It motivates us to help others. It helps us not to take our riches for granted. But at the end of the day, if we don't realize that our blessings are from heaven, isn't it all just warped selfishness? Without the Lord, thankfulness becomes an inventory of all that I have--and sometimes even an assumption that I deserve it. It becomes about me.

As I muse over these points, I am acutely aware that I rarely stop to realize the blessings that are in every corner of my life--and that when I do, I almost always fail to thank the Lord for his goodness to me. I am all about me, just like I feared. I do find myself thinking that I am entitled to good things. I am worse than the generic American family sitting around the Thanksgiving table naming blessings without praising the source...because I know the source, yet fail to thank him for his goodness.

I am so amazingly blessed...
I have everything I've ever wanted...
and heaven to look forward to...
Thank you, Lord. You are so good to me.

"And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." John 1:16

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Little Bites and Brad's Multitasking

Brad and Mac were sitting at the kitchen table yesterday. Brad was checking email or reading or something, while supervising Mac as he explored the wonders of play dough. I was nursing Arden--not watching, but within earshot--when I heard Brad's voice, "Oh, Mac! What?? Why'd you do that?"

I thought Mac must have mixed the play dough colors. Or eaten some. Or put it in his hair. You know, the things kids do when they play with play dough. But my 2 year old, I'm learning, rarely does what you think he might.

No...while Brad's attention was elsewhere, Mac abandoned the play dough and sampled one of the apples in a bowl at the center of the table. Apparently, that one wasn't to his liking, so he tried another. That one wouldn't do either, so he bit into a third. So there were three apples out of the bowl, each with a little Mac bite in it. Nice.

He did return to one of them, and after we washed it, he finished it.

I was mad that he wasted food (though we did put the unfinished ones in the fridge to work on another day), but you can't punish a child this young for childishness. He didn't know any better. It wasn't a rebellious or defiant thing. He was just looking for the right apple. I suppose he does know not to eat food without asking--but then again, it was sitting right in front of him.

Today, when I got out several apples to prepare a recipe for Thanksgiving, I found another Mac-sized bite on one of the apples. Sneaky little boy...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Now I Know

Now I know that if Mac wakes up in the middle of the night and wants us to sing to him, he has an ear infection. He currently has his third ear infection in as many months, but now that I think about it and recognize his symptoms, I think he had one this summer too when Brad was in Wales. It's nice to recognize his symptoms (or lack thereof) so we can get to the doctor promptly. I hate that he keeps getting them, though! So--yesterday when I blogged that he was impossible to please and cranky, I think it had something to do with the beginning of this ear infection. Poor kid. I hope this is his last one, but I have a feeling we've entered a new era of ear infections, and it won't be ending soon. Hope I'm wrong.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'll Love You Forever

Our neighbor came by with a baby gift for Arden, and, as many thoughtful folks have done, brought Mac a gift as well. (This is so kind! But funny too because Mac seems to think that the baby gifts are all for him anyway. He's become quite attached to a particular pink blanket.)

The gift that our neighbor brought for Mac is the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.
It's Mac's new favorite. (I'm glad he has a new favorite--Brad and I were both about ready to shoot ourselves if we had to read the Bison Book--his old favorite--again.)

I know this book--I think we may have had it growing up. It's sweet. I knew it was sweet. But what I wasn't prepared for was much more powerful it is to read as a mother. I've read it to Mac (at his request) several times a day since Saturday, and have yet to make it through without crying or getting teary. It's a beautifully written reminder of the transcendence of a mother's love over time and circumstance.

I've needed that reminder these past few days. As is the case with many newborns, Arden is cranky (to say the least...maybe I should say that Arden is a full-blown basket-case) in the early evenings. Combine that with a cranky (to say the least...maybe I should say that Mac is a picky, impossible-to-please crazy-man) toddler and a husband with an unconventional job (read: gone often in the evenings)...ugh--I need the reminder.

The mother in the book says the same: "This kid is driving me crazy!" (Mac always repeats that part.) But still--she loves him forever. The same is true for me..."I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as you're living, my baby you'll be."

And in the quiet of the evening, typing my thoughts on this screen, I think maybe I exaggerated about these kiddos being a basket-case and crazy-man. They're really not so bad. There are moments in these weeks since Arden's birth when I think I might have a head full of gray hair by the time I'm 31--but those thoughts are outnumbered by the moments where I'm overwhelmed by the power of the love I feel for my husband and children. I honestly have everything I ever wanted within 20 feet of where I'm sitting right now. A fitting reminder this week of Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday at the Park

One day, Arden, you will appreciate the park. Today you were bored by it.
We do have a wonderful neighborhood park.
Mac's not bored by it. No, not at all.
Today was the perfect day to visit.
Mac would agree.
There's this random, huge red thing...
A sand funnel?
Mac loves it.
But what 2 year old wouldn't? Is there anything better than a random, huge sand funnel?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tchotchkes and Talismans

I had this title in mind for my post...but I would be lying if I said I didn't have to look it up to make sure these words meant what I thought they meant. And how to spell Tchotchkes.

Both words basically mean trinkets (keeping with the T theme).

When I was teaching school, I became familiar with the common childhood need to collect things--knick-knacks, trifles...basically junk. Kids would collect and keep the strangest little things and keep them in the strangest little places: an eraser, a battery, and a bullion cube in a pencil bag; A rock, a cheap earring, a button, and a tiny wooden monkey in the pocket of dirty overalls; A crumpled photograph, a marker top, a checker in a soggy paper cup.

I'm thinking of this today because Mac has a new fascination with the most random toy--a plastic fishtank. It's a toy fishtank, just the right size for a two year old to tote around. He's got his treasures inside, currently: a pink rubber duck, a quickly fading dandelion, a variety of acorns, a few puzzle pieces, and a tiny plastic boat.

Why are these objects important? Who knows? But they are. They travel with Mac in the fishbowl for unknown, childhood--maybe magical?--reasons. My grown-up instinct is to throw away anything not useful. Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I should follow Mac's lead. My collection would be: a river rock, some broken crayons, a Japanese Maple leaf, a replacement Christmas tree light. In a wooden bowl. Why? The same reason as Mac: Because those are things I like. Why not?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sleep Deprived and Half-Crazy

A friend of mine is hosting a party. I told her I would attend (Brad's keeping Maccers and Arden!). Today I had a moment of panic because I thought I'd forgotten and missed it. Here's a recap of my inner monologue:

"Oh, no--the party!! It was last Saturday! I missed it. I'm a terrible friend. I told her I'd be there." (Check the invitation, realize that the party is this coming Saturday, not last Saturday as I feared.) "Whew! I feel so much better. I guess I'm just sleep-deprived and half-crazy. Everything's cool."

Is it scary that realizing I'm sleep-deprived and half-crazy is the thought that reassured me, rather than the thought that made me panic?


My well-mannered boy has learned the power of the word "please"...but strangely, always accompanies it with a jump. So, when he wants something, he says "Please!" while jumping (once). If he's sitting in a chair he bounces while saying it.

I guess it's better than what he used to do...he used to get on his knees and say please. This began because I would sometimes tell him to sit on his bottom before I gave him whatever needed or wanted. (Example: Sit down to drink your milk.) He just took that as the norm--"please" should always be accompanied by getting down on his bottom...or, because he wanted to get moving again quickly, became getting down on his knees. Funny mental picture--Mac on his knees pleading with mom for something or another. I promise, I never told him to get on his knees.

Eventually, the knees somehow evolved into a jump, and now I suppose it's just muscle memory: "Please" (translation: "I want it; give it to me NOW!") can never be be said without a jump or a bounce. Funny.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Boy Chair and Mac's Narration

Mac has officially moved to sitting at the table in a "big boy chair". It began because after my c-section I couldn't lift him in and out of his high chair. Now he prefers it, and runs to the table at every meal saying, "I sit big boy chair!" He also likes to have a napkin in his lap, just like mom and dad.

In other news, I've come to realize that with Mac's ever-expanding verbal skills, he now narrates everything thought that enters his head. This is cute...but can quickly become annoying...especially when he's narrating Arden's activities:

Mac: Arden's crying!
Arden: Waaa! Waaa!! Waa, waa, WAAAAAA!!
Me: Yes, Mac, Arden is crying.
2 seconds pass.
Mac: Arden's crying!
Arden: WAAAA!
Me: I know, Mac! Arden is crying...

And so on. This exchange happens countless times a day. Again and again. I also frequently hear the following:
"Arden's resting!"
"Arden's eating!"
"Arden diaper clean!" (translation: Arden is getting a new diaper.)
"Arden pickups!" (translation: Arden has the hiccups.)
And, the most common of all, "I see baby Arden!"

Sweet Mac... you're driving me crazy...but I'm glad you love your sister.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just a couple more...can't resist

Sleepy pics

Can you tell we just uploaded a bunch of pictures from our camera today? I thought so. Here's the last batch.
Time to eat baby Arden! Wake up!
Come on! Wake up!
Ahh! There she is! Awake!
Wow, this newborn thing is really wearing us all out! (Kidding...Camera just caught Mac at an odd moment...he's the most rested of us all, actually.)

More pictures!

We have a similar picture of Brad and Mac. He calls them "little balls of goo" when they're snuggled up like this.
Daddy has the magic touch.
Sweet baby.
I just liked the composition of this picture. Brad took it.


Mac holds baby sister. Let's see...in this one I think she was about 5 days old.
Brad says Arden sleeps like me--with her arms up. She always manages to get them out of the swaddle blanket.
Brad and Mac had a little photo shoot in the backyard. Just thought this was cute.
Sweet Mac had so much fun in the big-boy swing at Nans house. Aunt Meg was pushing him, but she ducked out of this picture. Love this shot.


Phrase: "Mama, Ha-knee-knee!"
Context: After being tucked in at night. Said in a pleading tone.
Translation: ???

We're stumped. Mac has been staying this every night this week. What could it mean?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Arden's Name

Both Mac and Arden are named for family members. I'll have to do another post on Mac's name sometime, but since Arden is our new one we'll focus on her today. Arden is named for 2 of her great-grandparents: Brad's Grandpa Ranft (Duane Arden Ranft) and my Grandmother Tribble (Dorothy Green Tribble). That's Grandmother in the picture, meeting Arden at the hospital the day after she was born. (Meanwhile, Arden's mama was heavily medicated and drifting in and out of sleep...c-section pain is NO JOKE.)

Grandpa Ranft is a World War Two veteran--a hero who fought in the Pacific in the Navy. He's a tough guy who speaks his mind--yet underneath all that he's a man who dearly loves his family. It's especially meaningful to me how much he clearly loves Mac, and now Arden too. I have the honor of wearing the diamonds he gave Brad's grandmother everyday on my engagement ring.

My Grandmother Tribble (Gamie, as Mac calls her)...there's so much I could say about her. First, she prays for me (and all her children and grandchildren) every day. I do not doubt that many good things in my life have unfolded because of her faithful prayers. She is the mother of 6 boys--wow. She is strong, smart, and determined. (I wonder if raising 6 boys has given her these characteristics, or if God gave her 6 boys because she already had these qualities?)

Grandmother has been a powerful influence in my life in many ways. Perhaps the most significant is that she introduced me to--and taught me to love--Bonclarken. My amazing Grandmother filled her mountain house with loads of Grandchildren and grand-nieces and nephews every July for nearly 30 years now. Those summer memories with my cousins and siblings are priceless. Bonclarken remains my very favorite place on earth. Sitting on the porch of Grandmother's mountain house--on a perfect summer day with a perfect summer peach, or a crisp fall day with a cup of coffee and a warm blanket--it doesn't get any better than that.

But more than a place with sweet memories and a great porch--Bonclarken (perhaps Grandmother's house? I don't remember) is where I eventually met and fell in love with Brad. It's crazy to imagine my life without Bonclarken, and impossible to imagine never knowing, loving, and marrying Brad. For this--I am so deeply grateful to my Grandmother.

The actual meaning of Arden's name: Arden is English and means something about a forest (an "Arden"). Dorothy is Greek and means, "Gift of God". She is a gift from God!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pajamas and Patience

I could tell from about 9 am this morning that it would be a tough day. Rain...newborn...a tired momma...an impatient 2 year old...ugh. So Mac and I held hands and prayed for patience (for me) and obedience (for him). I don't know how much of the prayer he understood. But God was faithful and our day wasn't as yucky as it could have been.

It's 5 pm and Mac is still in his pajamas. Why bother changing today?

Now he's sitting in my lap begging for "Elmo computer" (translation: I want to watch Elmo on the computer). This child's obsessed.

I still need supernatural help the rest of the day though...Brad has Bible study Tuesday nights so I'll be here with 2 little ones during the witching hours of parenthood: 6-8...yuck.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grocery Shopping with two

Today I braved the grocery store for the first time with 2 little ones. I was really nervous. I prayed a lot about it! That they would be happy...that I'd get everything on my list...that I'd get a close parking space...that Mac would like riding in the "truck cart" (the cart with a truck on front--so you can put on child driving the truck and another back where mama is steering). I really talked it up to Mac--trying to get him excited about driving. Thank goodness that the cart was available!!

It went really well. Mac was happy as can be, Arden slept in her carseat the whole time. Beautiful. The only negative is that the truck-cart is huge--takes some getting used to. But, it's different than regular carts and has amazing steering! That thing can turn on a dime. Score!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Why would Mac insist that stickers from the doctors' office be put on his back? Because that's where the nursery at church puts his nametag, of course. Oh, Mac logic.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UPS Truck

AKA--in Mac speak--ABC truck. Who cares if he can't remember which letters?

Monday, November 2, 2009


Lately I've noticed that when the TV is on, Mac occasionally walks up to the TV stand and peers behind the screen. I didn't give it much thought, figuring that there might be a toy back there or some other item of interest. My mom was the one who figured it out...it seems that Mac is checking behind the TV to see if the people on the screen are back there! So cute.

Poor child...he's watched more TV since Arden was born than the rest of his life combined. I HATE when people use TV as a babysitter. On the other hand, what harm can an hour of Sesame Street really do? (I DO try to limit it to an hour a day!)

Arden is back to waking once a night the past few days. Yay!!!! I'm so fortunate!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another hilarious moment with Mac

When my sister's baby spit up at our house today, Mac immediately tried to imitate. I've never seen someone try to spit up. It was hysterical....but not so funny as I'm writing it. I suppose you had to see it. I think God gave me a hilarious toddler to keep my mind off how tired I'm getting.

Arden is waking up to babyhood a little--she was up twice last night (the first time she's been up more than once). It's still better than most newborns...but oh, I was hoping the once-a-night waking would last!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fireknuckles are back!

2 things you should know as background to this story:

1. My husband is a big knuckle-cracker (my mom's pet-peeve!).
2. Mac used to call fire trucks "fire knuckles". We have no idea why. He doesn't do it anymore.

The other day, Brad popped Mac's toes for the first time. Mac thought it was hilarious and has been begging Brad to do it again ever since. Brad told Mac that this was called popping his knuckles. So today, Mac climbed onto the couch with Brad and said, "Daddy, pop firetruck!" Translation, "Daddy, pop my knuckles!" Oh, the logic of a 2 year old...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pronouns and Adjectives!

The most recent development in Mac's language has been the addition of pronouns and adjectives. Yesterday, he had his most advanced sentence to date. After he lost the spoon he had chosen for lunch, we spent a few minutes looking for it before giving up and deciding on a new spoon. After finishing his lunch, he (apparently) remembered where he left the spoon he'd lost. He went running and grabbed it, saying, "I found it! I found the spoon!"

This sentence was significant because he used the pronouns "I" and "it". Wow, Mac.

Earlier last week, he used an adjective to describe food. A family brought us a homemade pizza (youth group moms have been bringing us yummy food since Arden's birth), and Mac exclaimed "Pizza good!"

This was significant because it's the first time I've noticed him using an adjective to describe his opinion. (Up until now, it's been more matter-of-fact: "Pizza hot!", that type of thing.)

In other news, Arden continues to sleep and sleep. All the time. Except for the huge diaper blow-out she had today.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mac!

Dear Mac,

2 Years ago yesterday, you officially joined our family. You were such a personality from the very beginning! It was clear from the start that you love people. It was clear from the beginning that you are laid-back and happy--yet determined when you have your mind set (just like your daddy). It was especially clear from the beginning that our lives would never be the same. Since that day, what a blessing you have been to us!

You have grown and changed so much. You have learned to eat solid foods, you have learned to crawl, you have learned to pull up and then to walk. Then--the most amazing thing for a mama to watch--you have learned to talk. You have learned to throw balls (one of you favorite things), you have learned to laugh and play. You have learned to share.

It's amazing how the Lord expands capacity for love in our hearts. I never thought I could love your daddy more than the day I married him--yet I love him more all the time. I never thought I could love you more than I did at first--but I love you now more than I ever have. I never thought I could love another child...but I love your sister just as much. What an amazing miracle, what a tough force--this thing, this emotion, this action: love. I do love you, darling, more all the time.

Some of my favorite memories of you....
-You used to say "uh-oh!" if we forgot to pray before eating. This evolved into having to ask a blessing for every piece of food that we added to your high chair. It was pretty sweet and funny.
-You still don't know the words "mine" or "no". I have no idea how this is true, since they are the trademark words of your age/stage of development. I'm in no hurry to teach you these words.
-Once, when you and I went to Old Navy to buy daddy some pants, you were walking and holding my hand. You knew that it was very important to always hold mama's hand. When I had to let go of your hand for a few seconds to sort through the stack of pants, and told you to stay right there, you obediently stayed, and when I looked up you were holding the mannequin's hand instead, perfectly content but a little bewildered by the fake person. Safety first!
-I'm not sure what your official first word was, but among the first was "ball". You used to wake up saying "Ball, ball, ball!" over and over again. You know every kind of ball there is to know: golf ball, soccer ball, basketball, baseball. You love them all.
-You are huge. From the day you were born (8lbs, 14 oz; 21 3/4 inches) you have not stopped growing. This summer--before you were two--people would stop and ask, "How old is he? Three?" Well, no, you were one. You dwarf most of the other kids your age. But you're not fat. Just tall and built. I kind of like it--it makes me feel like you can hold your own.

There are so many more.

I'm so proud of the child you are becoming. You are kind, you are funny, you look out for others. You rarely complain and are generally happy-go-lucky. You are demonstrative and affectionate. You receive discipline well and rarely have to be corrected twice. (Is it boastful to think these things of your child? Isn't it a mama's job to be proud? I am proud of you! How could I help it?)

We are headed into the terrible twos...I know I'll have my work cut out from me. We are both far from perfect and have a lot to learn. But despite all the curve balls I know are coming, always know that your daddy and I will never stop loving you. You are a precious addition to our family. Thank you for being such a ray of sunshine. Happy Birthday Mac!

Love you,
ps--I decided that the first picture in this post needed to go...it seems like it's more of a mom and dad picture than a family picture (which is what I was going for). But I don't have the patience to figure out how to take it out. Oh well. Your daddy is such a perfectionist with stuff like this, and I usually just give up. I wonder which one you'll be?

Mac's new spot

Somehow this week Mac's high chair was moved from its normal spot at the table to the corner (about 4 feet from the table). When I went to move it back to the normal spot, he literally fell on the floor and cried. Well, since I'm a pick-your-battles sort of mom, I moved it back and left it in the corner. Now, when we sit down together to eat, Brad and I are at the table and Mac is all by himself in the corner, happy as can be. When he asks for more food, we have to stand up to get it to him. If someone were to walk in, he would think that we don't like our child or are trying to keep him away from us. No...he's the one who wants to be away from us. Whatever floats your boat, sweetie.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

For real?

Arden...the easiest baby ever? Maybe she'll wake up to reality soon? I hope not. Since we've been home, I feed her before I go to bed (10:30 or 11), she wakes at 3:00 am, eats quickly, goes back to sleep...then sleeps until I wake her at 8. Is this for real? I know things can change, but I will ride this wave as long as I can! Thank you, Arden!!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet baby Arden

Precious child...we love her so much!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Dear, Sweet Arden,

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!" Psalm 126:3

We're so glad you're here. You came to us yesterday afternoon at 1:25, weighing 8 pounds and 3 ounces, 21 inches long. (How big would you have been had you not been born 10 days early?)

I'm so glad you're big--it make me feel like you are strong and resilient. And you are--your coming was a little bit miraculous. Knowing you were breech (upside down--or right-side up, depending on how you look at it), your mama's doctor wanted to take you out of her belly using a special surgery. I was really scared, Arden, but I knew it was the safest way to get you here to us. When they took you out, everyone in the room gasped--your umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck, twice. (That explained why you would not turn over when they tried to turn you a few weeks ago.) Then I was REALLY scared, because I didn't hear you crying yet. It seemed like forever, but it was only a few seconds that I heard your sweet voice for the first time. And everything was okay then. The Lord protected you and me from danger, and gave us a wise doctor who kept us both safe.

Your daddy and I are so happy today. We're so excited to notice all the special things about you--your long, elegant fingers, your sweet fuzzy hair (I think you're going to be blonde like your brother), your mouth (you have your daddy's mouth, Mac has mine), your ears (like mine). We're trying to predict your personality--you seem really interested in your daddy and me (but not so much everyone else). We keep trying to compare your personality to your brother's--but we're having a hard time remembering what he was like right at first!

Mac got to meet you last night and again this afternoon. He was pretty excited and wanted to give you lots of kisses. He also really liked the trash can in mama's hospital room. It has a pedal that makes the lid pop up. Your daddy and I really miss him this weekend--Nans is keeping him while we stay here at the hospital with you. But we are treasuring these special first days with you.

Arden, what a precious gift you are. We can't wait to see the little girl, the young lady, and woman you will become.

much love,