Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Maddie has but 3 wishes for her fans this Christmas: 

(may I recommend the gingerbread house icing...yum!)

(it's good to savor each drop of the "sparkly" aka Martinelli's apple juice)

(taking pictures with Mama and finding it very amusing)


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

23: Nearly Two

Dear Madeleine, Monkey, Monka-Loo, Punkalooska-Sweetie-Pea,

You are officially 23 months old, which means we are dangerously close to two. And by "dangerously," of course I mean fear-inducing, tear-bringing, hand-wringing and disbelief-making on the part of your dear mother. My little bitty baby can't possibly be two years old. I just won't have it. Yet you seem to be moving in that direction, regardless of my own unreadiness. You are independent that way.

The nearer you get to two, the more "two-like" behaviors we are starting to see. It was a handful of months ago when you were displaying some "difficulty" and Kelly said to you, "I didn't know you were already two!" We laughed (and I cried a little inside, because we both knew what was coming). At one minute you are sweet and loving and giving my knees and elbows tender little kisses. And before I know it you are furiously waving that little hand in my face, saying, "No Mama! No Mama!" and expecting me to go away. As your independence grows, so does your spirit. You have discovered how to scream when you don't get your way, and in the last few days after screaming (and being told such behavior is not acceptable), you close your eyes tightly as if shutting out the world will make all the problems go away. Slowly, you open to a squint, a wink, both eyes open, and guess what? I'm still here.

Along with the more difficult aspects of two have come fun and creative elements, including dressing yourself. If you had your way, each day would begin with a blue sparkly tutu, high heels, sunglasses and a hat. You love to wear my high heels around the house, narrating the sound of a princess with "clip-clop, clip-clop." (At least someone is wearing fashionable footwear these days). You've also taken to wearing your pink rain boots with every outfit imaginable and it takes some creative coordinating on my part to ensure we leave the house appropriately attired.

Also of note is your increasing desire in using the potty. You regularly ask to visit the bathroom in exchange for the ever-exciting "chocolate." Only you say "chocolate" with such love and emphasis and a thickness to your tongue, as if the word itself requires special care and handling. It comes out sounding like "Shholocolate," rich and creamy and velvety smooth. You are a girl after my own heart. (And now I need to find a potty treat beside m&ms because Mama likes them too much and we do have a reasonable pregnancy weight to maintain here).

One recurring theme we've been discussing these past month is your family, and just how loved you are. Nearly every day you pick up the phone and "call" someone to say "I love you. I miss you. I come see you. Okay, seeyoulater." You even give yourself little prompts: "Say hi to Uncle Joe. HI UNCLE JOE! Say hi Lizzie. HI LIZZIE!" I keep meaning to get it on video because it is both absolutely hilarious and endearing. 

And speaking of family, I find myself pregnant once again at Christmastime, a time spent pondering what it must have been like for Mary to carry the Savior of the World in her own womb. With your constant entertainment and needs, I have less time to sit and imagine what Samuel will be like, look like, and what he will mean to me as a mother. But in our few quiet moments together, my eyes fill with tears as you put your little lips to my belly, kissing the growing child, and saying tenderly "Whatcha doin', baby brother?" Pressed together, belly to small face, we sit in awe and wonder of the miracle awaiting us.

Merry Christmas to you, sweet child, and to your coming baby brother. I am overwhelmed with awe and gratitude to our Savior as I grow more round and ever more deeply in love with my children. 


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Holidays and some Christmas Card Outtakes

Someone realized that stockings are for feet and was very
excited to try them on:

Looking for the perfect tree

Found it!

Outtake #1: Cheeeeeese!

Outtake #2: Aaahhhhoooooo! (like a wolf)

Stay tuned for the real Christmas Card photo,
released later so as not to spoil any surprises!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Santa baby

Today we visited Santa Claus in the city. Maddie wasn't too sure about sitting alone with the bearded man, so Mama got to come along. Hooray for Christmas season!

Friday, November 28, 2008

so much to be thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our loved ones! We are grateful to each of you for being a part of our lives. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

22 Months

Dear Maddie,

Yesterday you turned the ripe old age of twenty-two months. We are so close to 2, I can hardly believe it! Each and every day you are creating lots of laughter and moments of awe as we watch you changing and growing into this little girl right before our eyes.

Halloween night your Daddy and I were driving home, recalling our favorite moments from the night when he said, "Well, I guess parenthood is all about being amazed by your child over and over again." And it's so true. At night we speak in hushed tones about your cute, hilarious and naughty adventures of the day, wondering if other parents think their child is the most wonderful thing in the world. You and your Daddy are such good friends; it makes me so glad to know you love each other so deeply and enjoy each other's company so thoroughly. After spending 48 hours in bed with a stomach flu this month, I emerged to find you both, still clad in pajamas, laughing and playing and having the greatest time. Your Daddy wasn't the least bit frustrated or tired, having missed a day of work to stay home and take care of you, but overjoyed with the extra time he was able to spend with his girl.

You love to put on a show, for anyone and everyone who will prove a captive audience. You are filled with songs and stories to share, repeating small nuggets of information over and over, as if the story gets funnier each time you tell it (this is another way you take after your Daddy). Months after losing a balloon from the grocery store, you will still say, "Balloons pop [some]times." A visit to the zoo brought endless quips such as, "I see bats!" and "Bats hang upside down," and "peacocks have lots colors." Each time we feign new interest, as if we've not heard the story before. 

You continue to amaze us with your ability and desire to learn. One of your favorite activities is to sit on the floor with your Daddy and "spell" out words, arranging the letters side by side on the ground. You recognize all your letters, most of your colors, and will count to ten. In the car one day as we were driving along you surprised me by announcing, "There's an orange oval." I didn't even know you knew what an oval was! But the other morning as you played preschool games on Daddy's phone (your parents' way of staying in bed for just a few more minutes), I heard the game say "Blue Oval!" as you explored all the shapes. Mystery solved!

Your nonstop talking, from when you first rise in the morning until I place you awake in your crib at night, is a source of great amusement and occasional exhaustion. You have so much to say and twelve hours in a day just isn't quite enough time to process everything. After picking you up from a friend's house last night at 11 o'clock, it took about two minutes of snuggling in my arms before you said, "I play with friends. Leaf in its mouth. Blink is two eyes. Moon is hiding. Pookie and crazy Lulu! I talk on phone." It was an endless review of our entire day's routine, from Costco to your last moments before bedtime, played on repeat until you finally turned over on your side in the crib, saying, "Wink. One eye."

You've filled our lives with such delight, it's no wonder we're so excited to be bringing another child into our family. I often daydream about the kind of big sister you will be, helpful and affectionate, bossy and protective. Your relationship with the belly now is very indicative of such future behaviors, as you will quickly shift from kissing it and saying "Hiii baby brother," to announcing with glee "Belly Bump!" and then yanking up your shirt and running full speed into me, bouncing off and giggling uncontrollably. I can't wait to see the two of you making up your own little games and enjoying your own special relationship that exists apart from me.

At times I grieve the fact that this new baby will change our relationship. I won't be able to be your best playmate at any point in the day. I won't always be able to "hold you first," as his needs may be more immediate. I will have to scoot just a little bit further toward the side of the bed to make room for two bodies between Daddy and I as we snuggle in the morning. But this I know: you are an incredibly easygoing and adaptable child. We will have many hard moments but before long you will not remember the time when it was just the three of us, and baby Samuel Benjamin will be an even better playmate than Daddy or I. 

I love you, baby.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a few anecdotes

Two weeks ago I was taking pictures of Maddie when she started to fall and I reached out to grab her, dropping the camera to the ground with the lens out and open. It's been downhill for the little point-and-shoot ever since, thus the lack of pictures for a while. Sorry!

But I will share some cute Maddie stories. First, those of you who spend any time with Maddie know she is way into pirates. She loves to read pirate books, dress up in her pirate hat, and make pirate sounds ("Arrgh!" and "Ahoy, Matey!") Tutu and Boppa took Maddie overnight this weekend and she returned with a pirate ship that plays music and makes fun sounds and carries two cute pirates, a monkey, and a parrot. She loves it and plays with it constantly! But she is very much a girl, as her Daddy and I were reminded last night, as she was "changing the pirate's diaper" and having the pirates kiss each other. So cute!

Maddie also loves to "help Mama" in the kitchen, cracking eggs, stirring mixes, adding ingredients to the bowl, etc. This week we made cupcakes just for fun and Maddie got to lick the KitchenAid beater for the very first time. It is a large, triangular-shaped blade with lots of nooks and crannies to hold chocolate frosting. By the time I took it away, her entire face was covered in frosting, as were her hair, ears, neck, hands and t-shirt! It was a fun treat for both of us. (Oh, and Daddy didn't mind the cupcakes, either).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Maddie and Kate, good buddies and play date pals, at just 21 months! 

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Pumpking carving is serious business, as Maddie dons her headband in preparation of the festivities:

Whatcha doing, Dada?

Helping pull out the pumpkin seeds

Peering into the jack-o-lantern in her fairy princess garb:

Fairy princess closeup:

With her pirate buddy Wyatt (Ahoy, Matey!) before trick-or-treating:

We needed a wagon to haul home the candy stash! (and Nicole the kitty cat)

Our first trick-or-treating experience was a delightful one! Maddie was a trooper, running from house to house, up the steps, knocking or ringing the doorbell, shouting out "Trick or Treat!" and then "thank you!" after receiving her candy. The sweet girl walked nearly the whole way, multiple blocks, amazing us with her perseverance in pursuit of the sweet nectar of Halloween.

Hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween!


Madeleine loves story time, enjoyed before nap and bedtime. On this night, she was particularly animated, as captured by Dada as Mama read "Baby Talk."

Then it was Dada's time to read, and it was fun to see how their expressions matched with each new page:

Reading is fun for the whole family!

Monday, October 27, 2008

let's get political, political...

*DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is political. I needed a space to vent some thoughts about the election. If you came here to read about Maddie and don't want to hear politics, feel free to skip this post. But come back later for more Maddie goodness! :)

I've been thinking a lot lately about the election, my own beliefs, the portrayal of right-leaning Christians in the media, and the Bible's teachings. It frustrates me that many conservative Christians vote a republican ticket based on a few core values, mostly having to due with abortion rights and the family, allowing their views (and the Bible's teachings) on these issues to trump a multitude of others. 

No single political candidate, republican, democratic, green or independent, will ever embody all the values of Jesus Christ, the only perfect person ever to walk this earth. No party can adhere to every teaching of the Bible. No bill or law can ever perfectly follow God's way. All of this is because as humans, we will never measure up to the perfection of God. But we MUST carefully consider all issues individually, each platform on its own merit, as we cast our votes for the leaders of this country. Sometimes that will mean voting republican, other times democrat.

In this presidential election, I can't stop thinking of the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus is approached by a lawyer (aka an expert in Religious Law, aka OT Religious Scholar). He asks how he can attain eternal life. Jesus allows him to answer his own question, to which he replies "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself." But taking it further, the man tests Jesus with another question, "But who is my neighbor?" 

Jesus tells the story of a Jewish man who is beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. A Jewish priest and a Levite (Jewish temple caretaker) both passed him by. A Samaritan (non-Jew) stops, tends to the man's wounds, loads him on his donkey, and takes him to an inn, where he pays to have him put up until he feels better. 

I once read a present-day example of this story told like so: A Christian man is beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road. First, a Christian pastor on his way to church sees him and hurries by on the opposite side of the road. Next, a worship pastor, also on his way to church, passes by. Who stops to take care of the Christian man? An ultra-liberal, politically active homosexual.
The point is that in Jesus' time, the Samaritans were in every way the opposite of the Jews and were despised by them. Who acted as a neighbor? The Samaritan, the very person who was supposed to be enemies with the Jew. This would have outraged the audience listening to Jesus. But what he was getting at is that to love our neighbor as our self is to treat everyone as we would want to be treated, if we were in their shoes, regardless of how they got there, regardless of who they are.

All that to say, are republicans in general looking out for the welfare of others, to be treated as they themselves would like? Not in terms of economic or welfare policy. Republican leaders typically give tax cuts to the rich while the poor continue to get poorer. "Every man for himself" is not a phrase you would have heard Jesus use. Republican politicians typically are opposed to universal health care, that is, medical care that is available and affordable to everyone, regardless of who they are, how much money they make, young or old, working or not, or whether or not they are here legally. 

We are at war. We have a completely strained relationship with the rest of the world, with world leaders, with very dangerous people who have access to very dangerous weapons. This has to change. We need to re-establish trust with the world. If Bush's dangerous regime is continued to be carried out in the Middle East, our enemies will only grow stronger.

I believe in my heart of hearts that Jesus would have been pro-family. He would have cried at the outrage of abortion and the loss of so many innocent lives. He also would have cried at the injustice of death sentences being carried out on innocent people by a flawed justice system. He would have spoken out against treating immigrants differently than our own citizens.  Jesus would have loved homosexuals in spite of their sin, embracing them first with his love, never starting with judgment, and through his unconditional love and acceptance would gently guide them into repentance and a right relationship with him. Jesus would have spoken against tax cuts for the wealthy, preferring that people pool their resources and divide them more equally so as to take care of the down and out.

There are so many issues that fall on both sides of the spectrum. While Barack Obama is far from perfect, in my mind the issues he is in favor of (health care, education, withdrawal of troops, redistribution of income) trump the others in this election. 

For more reading, I suggest "God's Politics" by Jim Wallis, the clearest and most thoughtful writing by a Christian on politics and truth that I've ever found. Also,




Saturday, October 25, 2008

for I know the plans I have for you, declares MY Lord

Yesterday we had Nemo's 20-week ultrasound. We went in hopeful, excited, and anticipating the joy of seeing our perfect, beloved child as he danced and rested in my womb. During my pregnancy with Maddie, these moments provided connection and awe as our Christian ultrasound tech delighted in our coming child's face, hands, eyes, legs, feet, pointing out each feature, exclaiming "Praise God! Look at that perfect nose/heart/brain!"

As we prayed in the car before the procedure, I felt at peace and more than ready to see Nemo's features much as we saw his big sister's before. Nothing could prepare us for the emotional roller coaster the next two and a half hours would bring. Our ultrasound tech was quiet as he spent a lot of time examining our baby's heart, brain, and kidneys. He spent so much time looking and examining the heart that I started to suspect not all was right.

After 40 long, tense minutes, with no more than a few grunts from the tech, he turned to me, notified us the doctor would be in shortly to discuss the findings, and then asked my age and whether I had any early genetic testing done. I remarked that I had not, and he made a face and a noise not unlike "tsk" before leaving the room. The few pictures he provided (two of Nemo's feet, one of his lower leg) were cut and tossed to the side next to my purse.

Ben placed his hand on my arm and asked how I was doing. I was in shock that the tech could be so judgmental about my decision to forego testing, as if the knowledge of what could possibly be wrong with our baby could change the way I feel about him. The doctor returned and gently explained that there were a few findings, none of which are worrisome on their own but together, may point to something more serious going on. Choroid plexus cyst: some extra fluid in the area of the brain that creates brain fluid, echogenic intracardiac focus: a "spot" on the heart, most likely extra calcium in the muscle, and pyelectasis: extra fluid in one of his kidneys. The doctor was quick to point out that all of these things clear up on their own 95% of the time either during pregnancy or within the first few hours of birth.

He offered to do an amniocentesis that afternoon, or another option of meeting with the genetic counselor to get some additional information about what could be going on. At the mention of amnio, my heart sunk. But immediately wisdom from the Lord filled my heart, announcing that it is the doctor's job to provide the most accurate information. But what made me so sad was the flippant way in which everyone was referring to this pregnancy, to the child we had seen moving and dancing just moments before. There was a possibility of "termination," should we find that in fact, something was going on with our child.

We chose to meet with the genetic counselor, and waited in the lobby with many other expectant women, and I immediately texted my two friends who I knew would be on their way to preschool, cellphones close by. I asked them to pray for wisdom as we met with a counselor to consider the possibility of something wrong with our child.

The meeting went well. The genetic counselor was knowledgeable and able to answer all of our questions. We had 2 markers of a possible 9 that "may increase the concern about the chance" of our baby having Down syndrome. If, by some small probability, our child did in fact have Down's, there was an additional small chance he could have a heart problem, though our ultrasound showed no structural defects or concerns, just a small "dot." I was so relieved that of all our possibilities, first of all our child was most likely healthy, and second, the next likely possibility was of Down's. Big deal. 

This is OUR child, Christ's child, God's creation, an answer to prayer and a blessing. We informed the counselor there was NO chance this baby would be terminated, and given the crazy math formulas that broke down the chances of our baby's health and well-being, we felt comfortable forgoing amnio and its own set of risks.

On the way home, again God's wisdom filled me as I said to Ben, "a healthy child is really just the first of many hurdles we will face as a parent." Who knows what our future holds? Our child could face injury, depression, illness, accident, hard times, and all of these things are one hundred percent out of our control. God is good. He holds our future and the future of our child securely in His loving hands. 

It saddens me that the state of our world is that we could choose to end the life of a perfectly healthy baby due to the inconvenience of a chromosomal disorder. It saddens me that an u/s tech would feel the need to judge a couple on their choice to embrace life, no matter what the outcome. Yet it gladdens my heart to know that as we sat in that room, my friends prayed. The Holy Spirit intervened with groans and sighs and cries to my Creator. God himself surrounded us with His love, wisdom, encouragement and grace. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares my sovereign Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. There is a plan for this child. Most likely, he is healthy and strong. But we are assured that he is perfect, he is beloved, and he is ours. Praise be to God, who is the source of our hope and salvation!

Friday, October 24, 2008

funny girl

"Eww...gross! Gum!" 
(Mama trying to convince Maddie not to pick up gum on the ground)

"I need some lips (chapstick)"
the girl likes her pretty things

I call this one future senior portrait
("lips" still in hand)

Friday, October 17, 2008

what to do with a toddler

Go on a nature walk

Dress up (a Halloween preview)

Read (princess attire not required)

Paint! The budding artist shows off her masterpiece

Visit the pumpkin patch

Happy to be me!!