Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thank God for Nana and Papa

On Thursday we piled the kids in the car, along with our suitcases, gifts, and one of our students, Liz, and drove to Salem, Virginia to be with my parents for Christmas. Now, as a mom of two little ones, this is my favorite kind of vacation: 5 adults on 2 kids in a big house with a yard! And these are no ordinary grown-ups -- Nana, Papa, and Liz are all really great with the kids and offer their child-care expertise freely.

Mike and I decided to take this opportunity to train Levi to sleep. At eight months he is not sleeping through the night, waking 3 times to be fed. Since, medically-speaking, he really doesn't need this and I am dying for some consolidated sleep, we've been working on breaking his bad habits and so far are making great progress! Additionally, we can sleep in each morning since the kids can be occupied by other adults. Amazing.

Sam also loves being here. He and Liz play "igloo" and other games that I'm not completely privy to, and Nana has a huge collection of toys and books that are new to him. But the highlight of the trip is the kid-sized drum set that Mom found at a local thrift store.

When we got home from church this morning, the first thing he wanted to do was play the drums. Levi was sleeping, so I set them up in the garage for Sam to play. The garage is right off the kitchen, so I left him in there and cracked the door. At one point I didn't hear the drums playing anymore, so I peaked through the crack. What I heard was Sam saying, "Dear God, thank you for everything at Nana and Papa's house. In Jesus' name, Amen." Later I asked him about it -- he said he was talking to all the people in the Garage Church. What an MK!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is it sometimes yet?

How do you explain the concept of time to a three year old who is stuck in an seemingly unending Christmas season? I'm trying my best, but each day I am bombarded with questions like the one above. The context sounds something like this.

Sam: Can I have some more candy?

Me: No, we only eat candy sometimes, because candy can make holes in our teeth.

Sam: Is it sometimes yet?

Another conversation that we've had regularly sounds something like this.

Me: Sam, guess what? Tomorrow we will go to Nana and Papa's house, and then a few days after that it will be Christmas!

Sam: Is is tomorrow?

Me: No, it's today.

Sam: But what happens if it IS tomorrow?

Or another.

Sam: (entering the living room) Are there presents under our tree yet?

Me: No, not yet. They won't be there until it's Christmas Day.

Sam: It's Christmas! (as in, he has declared it starts now)

On a different note, Sam was in the bathtub tonight. As he was playing with his toys, one of them sank to the bottom and he said, "this doesn't have good buoyancy." He gets buoyancy, but not time. I guess it's a slightly easier concept, but I still had to laugh!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not professional, but close

Normally, every 6 months or so I like to take Sam and Levi to a professional photography studio to get portraits taken. I always use coupons and take them to Sears or Target, pay about 13.99 and get a zillion photos in 7 different sizes. I figure it's a good way to record their development.

The only problem is that you really have to be lucky to have a good experience as well as a good outcome. The staff at these studios are usually underpaid and undertrained. They might not even like kids.

So, I thought I'd do a little experiment by making use of the great natural light in our living room and snap a few shots myself. On a whim one morning I threw a sheet over the sofa, put the boys in red, and started snapping shots. I thought several of them came out great!

I was so happy with these that I thought maybe I could improve on them another morning when I realized that Sam and Levi both had their blue pjs on.

I didn't get the same results. We decided to just stick with the red ones.

Merry Christmas!

Our family is thoroughly into the holiday spirit! We've begun the shopping, put up our decorations, and started our advent calendar. We actually started all of this the day after Thanksgiving, beginning with the tree. What a great season -- we want to make it last as long as possible!

Out on a date

No, unfortunately I'm not talking about us grown-ups. It's been a couple of weeks since Mike and I have been out on a date.

A few days ago I got out a crate of baby toys, trying to take inventory to figure out what I can give Levi for Christmas that will actually get played with. Sam, true to his 3-year-old self, had much more fun with the actual crate. He asked me to put Levi inside, and told me that they were going on a date in their airplane. You may be able to make out a yellow net between the two of them. It is for catching fish. Sounds like a fun date, huh?

I love seeing them play together, and it happens more each day. My frequent prayer is that they will become good friends.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Levi's developments

Levi is now almost 8 months old. He has really become a little character, and is as cute as ever! He's been getting up on all fours for the past two months, but still gets around by scooching across the floor or rolling around. Lately, he's been doing a bit of an army crawl. He has also mastered sitting up! We're working on getting him to eat solid foods, but he's not all that interested. Look for the celebratory blog entry in the near future announcing his first night of sleeping through -- we've got a plan to reclaim our nights! We'll keep you posted...

Other Levi-isms:
  • Flipping his lips or tongue with his fingers
  • Babbling, specifically saying "mama" and "dada" -- I think he knows what he's saying, seriously! But then, I'm biased. :)
  • LOVES watching his big brother.
  • laughs at the drop of a hat, and is extremely ticklish!


Holidays get more fun every year! Last year was the first time to take Sam trick-or-treating, but he didn't wear his costume for more than a few seconds. I don't think we even got a picture of him in it! This year was completely different. He was Tigger, and not only did he help pick out the costume
but he wore it for 2 different parties! Here he is with most of his preschool class. Cute, huh?

Not much of a blogger...

Well, this blog wasn't forgotten, but certainly hasn't been a priority of late. Obviously. But here I am to catch up! Truthfully, the start of the school year got the best of me, and it was enough to get Sam to preschool, keep the family dressed, fed, and rested, and clean the bathrooms every few weeks. I still probably average 6 hours of interrupted sleep per night, but we're working on that (the goal is to get Levi to sleep through the night by Christmas at the latest!).
In order to catch up, I thought I'd give you a few highlights.

The word of the month was "preschool". Sam liked it at first, now he loves it. Miss Tony is his teacher's name - we weren't sure at first if both school and teacher were a good fit, but time has shown that Miss Tony usually knows what she's doing. Sam begins each day by coming through the door and yelling "Hi, Miss Tony!"

To comemorate fall, Sam and I made these cookies.


What a beautiful month! We spent one morning at Oxon Hill farms. Sam and his little friend Symon don't look like the city boys they are, do they?!

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's about the process

Mike had the day off today, so we decided to spend the morning at the National Zoo, which is only a few miles from our home. The crowds have thinned because of cool weather and school starting, and Sam and I have been talking all summer about going to see the "aminals".

Although we suggested to Sam that we start the morning by finding some monkeys, he was much more interested in the pizza playground. We stayed here for about 45 minutes, and he had a ball sliding down the cheese and jumping off the tomato. No problem, we thought; plenty of time to see the rest of the zoo.

From the playground we spent a brief time at the children's petting farm. Because of the lack of people, there wasn't much going on: a couple of resting cows and blank stares from a few donkeys and goats. The highlight for Sam, though, was the little sink for kids to wash their hands after petting the animals (which he didn't do!). This sink was so exciting we had a hard time getting him to leave.

Narrowly avoiding a meltdown, we finessed the situation and convinced him to walk into the main part of the zoo. We approached the lemur exhibit, complete with a huge waterfall. The lemurs were resting together on the far side of the exhibit, but that didn't matter because -- there was a waterfall!!

After spending several minutes watching the water fall, we proceeded to several other exhibits: the anteaters, maras, alligators, prairie dogs... Some of them mildly amusing to Sam, some of them boring him. But there were several things that did catch his attention: the drinking fountain, a row of benches, a pallet, a curb, a soda machine. It became obvious that the "aminals" were not the point of the zoo!

We did eventually make friends with an ape and a gibbon monkey, which Sam enjoyed. But the point is that he had fun in the process.

The men in my life

Aren't they handsome?

Laughing and crying

Levi has had an emotional couple of days...

When he was about 7 weeks old, he was hospitalized because he was vomiting bile. His vomiting stopped within several hours of starting and nothing ever came of it except an abnormal blood test that showed elevated liver function. Although he looks healthy and happy as ever, his pediatrition still wants to keep tabs on it and make sure it is nothing serious (which we are certainly thankful for!). This means more blood tests.

Unlike his big brother, Levi does cry when approached with a needle! He's had blood taken twice in the past two weeks, as well as 3 immunization shots. He probably feels like a pin cushion, and now recognizes lab techs for who they are and greets them with loud protest.

On the other hand, this kid is really starting to have a sense of humor! Yesterday we were driving to some friends' house, and he was shrieking and giggling away in his car seat. We're still not sure what was so funny.

But the most precious moment of my past week was a couple of days ago: I was putting him down for a nap and he was in a very light state of sleep, during which he usually has those wonderful "sleep smiles". Well, this time it was sleep giggles.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My big, big boy

This week is a week at the dr.'s office. Trying to get ready for our parent-coop preschool which starts next Monday, Sam and I both have to have certain medical requirements met. We only found out a couple of weeks ago that our name had come up on the waiting list and that Sam would be able to start preschool this fall, so we had to hustle to make our dr's appointments. Not only do we both need physical exams, but also both need TB tests and lead-exposure testing.

Which brings me to this morning. Last week Sam had his check-up, but because of a cold he was getting over they postponed his bloodwork until today. This morning I explained to him what would happen: that there are "strings" in his arms called veins, and blood is inside them. That the "doctor" would put a rubberband around his arm, then he would feel a little pinch and they would take the blood out. He witnessed this wonderful process on Levi last week, who screamed bloody murder (no pun intended), so I wasn't sure how things would go down.

We arrived at the lab and Sam eagerly climbed up on the chair. The technician was friendly and tried to engage him in conversation, but Sam was interested in finding out what all the things on the counter were. I reminded him again what was going to happen. He said decidedly, "I don't cry anymore", and placed his arm on the armrest. The technician checked both arms for an appropriate vein, cleaned him off, stuck him, and drew his blood, all without a peep from Sam! It was over in less than a minute.

Funny thing is, I think the band-aid was the worst part of it for him! Unlike most 3 year olds, he does not like band-aids, because they hurt to take off. A band-aid with a cotton ball under it attached to the inside of your elbow is hard to ignore, so he was trying to take it off immediately. We removed it once we got to the car and he grimaced a bit. And that was the end of it. What a brave boy!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

August came and went in a whirlwind! We had a lot going on. Here are a few highlights:

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Erie. We had the chance to see Mike's mom, as well as his brother & family, Dave, Kelly & the kids. They were in Erie for only a week as they were making their transition from language school in Costa Rica to their missions position in Merida, Mexico. (I think we need to go and visit them there, no?) We also spent some time with Mike's dad. We had a great time.

Sam & Levi took their first bath together! I'd been waiting for this day since Levi's birth -- I just can't seem to keep them both clean if I have to bath them separately!

And here are my adorable boys. Just add a couple of halos, right? Actually, parenting these two has been quite a challenge in the past couple of weeks. Sam seems to be on a quest for independence. I regularly remind myself that having a child with a strong will is a good thing, that he will be a leader some day! But I'm weathering the storm well, and I think I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Levi's Firsts

Levi’s had a big week. Yesterday he received his first haircut! His crazy ‘do had evolved from the newborn head of fuzz to a comb-over mullet with a few bald spots on the back and sides. (see pictures) I love the idea of letting a baby have the bohemian look, but it just didn’t seem to be working for him. The hair at the nape of his neck was longer than the collar of a t-shirt, and he had a little bit that would puff out over his ears. I just trimmed it up. What a relief!

Then, this afternoon I put him under his play gym so I could get a couple of things done. Next time I looked at him, and he had rolled over onto his stomach! I went over to him, and in another minute he rolled back onto his back. He must be a genius.

Earthly and Heavenly Fathers

Last night when I was trying to get Sam back to sleep, he kept asking me where I was going when I left his room (i.e., to the living room, not the store). I was trying to reassure him that he would be fine (he's been saying, "is anything not going to happen? Will there not be any shadows?"), telling him that not only would I be home and Daddy would soon be home too, but that God is always with him, loves him and will take care of him. Then he said thoughtfully, "Are Daddy and God big?" I answered yes. Then he said, "Are Daddy and God grown-ups?" I had to answer yes to that one, too, although I'm not really sure what the answer is. Shows there's truth to the teaching that our earthly fathers help us understand our heavenly Father.

What they left out of the Bible

Sam has a little friend named Symon whom he has played with since the two were babies. Symon and his mom, Anita, were over at our place the other day. Anita and I were commenting how great it is that we can just let them play for long periods without having to referee. I decided to go and check on them, since they were pretty quiet in Sam's room. I was amazed to find them sitting on Sam's big floor pillows, looking at a book together!

I asked Sam about this later.
Me: Sam, you and Symon were playing so nicely today. Did Symon read you some books?

Sam: Yes, and I read him a book about Jesus.

Me: Oh, what did Jesus do in the book?

Sam: Jesus was a tiny baby, and then he became a man.

Me: What did he do as a man?

Sam: (excitedly) He picked up a box. And in the box he got out lots of tiny balls. And he threw them at the couch.

Hmmm. Are there theological ramifications?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Beginnings are always a little awkward for me. Besides a few short newsletters here and there, I haven't written more than an email since my undergrad. As a phlegmatic-meloncholy, I'm definately not very ceremonial. I'm tempted to jump right into blogland and let you know what's on my mind today. But I figure I should at least catch everyone up on who's who: I am Jen, just turned 31, mom of Samuel, 3, and Levi, 3 months. I've been married to Mike, the most wonderful man I know, for 10 years. We live in Washington DC. Hopefully this blog will be a place to let you in on all the wonderful and crazy experiences that come from spending roughly 12 hours (sometimes more!) a day with little ones. One thing is for sure: my life is not boring. Hope my blog isn't!