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.

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!