Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas & Birthday 2008

Saturday the 23rd we headed to Lake Conroe to spend the night with Will's parents. On Sunday we went to their church, Montgomery United Methodist, and we dressed the children up in their fancy Christmas clothes. I think that Grandma and PawPaw had fun showing them off a little. For Christmas Eve, Will's parents joined us for the 5 PM family service at our church. Bella fell asleep in Grandma's arms and snoozed through most of the service. Friday the 28th was my 35th birthday. Holy Cow, I can't believe it. I feel like I'm in some whole other demographic now, it's going to take some adjusting. In general I have endeavored to use the baby gear we had from when Jacob was a baby -it might not be the latest and greatest but it gets the job done. However, when I saw the version of the pack-n-play that our baby friend Joanna has, I thought, man that is really cool. It's like a regular pack and play only so much smaller and lighter and since Bella has outgrown her tiny baby bassinet and we are about to take a trip next week, we went ahead and got one today. Here are some pictures of Bella trying it out for the first time, she rolled and stretched - like man, I can really spread out in here! She has also discovered her feet, so here's a picture where she seems to be saying "Hey look - did you know those feet were down there?"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rock Star

Kids are so much fun. Today Will took advantage of the glorious weather to wash our car. He had the radio playing while he was working and next thing we know Jacob ran into the house to grab his guitar - the result is priceless!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Prayers for Nancy

Please take a moment to keep up to date on Nancy's blog, she is having some very specific prayer requests from day to day. Keep praying please! I can only imagine what it must be like to be in the hospital at Christmas time, so if you are like me and feeling lately that my days are overly hectic just stop and think how immensely blessed we are to be able to walk and shop and plan time with family. Praise God for all those wonderful things! I know He will heal Nancy and give wisdom to the doctors and rest to her children Stephen and Karen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Living Nativity

Previously I promised to post a picture of William, Bella & I as the Holy Family in the living nativity at church so here is that, plus, I threw in a few other pictures I thought folks might enjoy. We had a tough crowd of older kids visiting us when we were playing Joseph & Mary. They asked the funniest questions, it was hard to keep a straight face, much less a calm Mary face. One child asked us how we made a living doing this [playing Mary & Joseph] and did we have to go to a whole lot of churches that day. I think he thought that it was our full time job or something. But despite the tough questions, it was a really big deal to me to get to do that and I will "treasure it up in my heart"for always. Bella was a perfect baby Jesus, alert and sweet. I was just glad there were no spit ups or blow outs. I'm not sure when the lack of blowouts became something that could make me so glad-hearted, but there it is.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Goodnight Moon

It was too cold to play outside on Saturday so the children and I headed off to the library. Jacob spotted a familiar favorite and sat down to read it. If you know the story then you'll see that he gets every page right word for word, so much so that the lady shelving books in the back ground turns around to see if he is really reading. Nope! He just has a great memory, but I'm guessing that we will have an avid reader on our hands before too long. The sqeaking in the background is Bella enjoying the story!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Nancy's Blog

Nancy's son Stephen is keeping a blog with up to date info on Nancy's condition & progress. I have added it as a link under "Our Friends", so please feel free to check in there. If you are praying over her, and feel comfortable doing so, I think it would be neat to leave a comment on their site so they could know and be encouraged. I'll never forget meeting a woman from church for the first time and having her say "Hi, I'm Susan and I've been praying for you!" - she had prayed over me when I was on bedrest with Bella and it was such a cool blessing to me that I almost started bawling (post -pregnancy hormones will do that!) If you don't know this already, you can leave comments on a blog by clicking on the comments link at the bottom of any post. Happy Saturday everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


An update on Nancy - she had her third surgery last week and is doing well. We need to keep praying as she is feeling sad about being a burden to her children. Keep praying please! Thinking about her being in the hospital and how Karen must be struggling to juggle everything on her own plate as well as being there for her Mom, it has given me a reality check of sorts. I'm feeling a real attitude of gratitude. Whatever is going on with me just seems minor and I think, what do I have to complain about?

Such grace comes at a good time as Jacob spent Friday through Sunday sick with fever and cough. He is now almost back to being all the way well, although still a little congested in the mornings. Being sick has turned him into a real grouch. He gave us some real humdinger temper tantrums this weekend. It's hard because one part of you knows that he isn't feeling well and wants to excuse his behavior and the other part of you feels like he is old enough to have some level of self control and the other part of you is just in shock that he just did whatever it was he just did (i.e dumping completely untouched plate of dinner into the kitchen sink!) At times it just seemed like there was not one single thing you could say, do or suggest that wouldn't set off a torrent of tears, whining, crying, and dramatic tossing about on the floor. I really am grateful there are two of us, I cannot imagine how hard it would be to be a single parent - right about when one of us runs out of patience the other can step in, or makes a joke or just share a glance with you across the room. It takes a team, it really does.

The other aspect of raising a three year old is the chronic Obsessive Compulsiveness. Don't worry, he doesn't really have OCD - it is just normal pre-schooler behavior but man can it drive you nuts! Jacob has preferences about every nuance of life - he wants to put the right shoe on first, he wants his socks folded around his ankle a certain way, he wants a spoon not a fork, he wants a certain color cup, the list is endless and it changes every day. Sometimes we indulge him - small things aren't worth battling over, other times we obviously have to put our foot down on, because we just aren't going to have our household run by a three year old!

Bella continues to be an easy happy baby. She is sleeping pretty well, we had to adjust her meals at school a bit, she seems to prefer smaller bottles more often - (I like to eat this way too!) She is really smiling and engaging these days. I had fun picking out some Christmas wish list items for her because I tried to think about what she would enjoy in a few months, things like stackers and toys you sit up to play with and it seem so crazy that she is already growing so much, not a little teeny tiny baby any longer.

Our neighborhood has Santa each year down at the pool house by the park. This year "Santa" turned out to be a guy we know from church. Jacob wouldn't take a picture with Santa. In fact, he refuses to even discuss Santa - when asked he refers to Santa as Father Abraham. He also says that he does not want presents at Christmas, because presents are for birthdays only. After telling me this he thought for a minute and then he says "Oh, and Bella doesn't want any presents either!" We've tried to talk with him about the nativity story but he is confused by the Wise Men and wants to know where are the foolish men (from the childrens song based on the parable about the wise man building his house upon the rock) and is the stable going to go "Splat!". This Sunday, Will, Bella and I will be in the Living Nativity at church as the Holy Family and that is bound to confuse him further. Sigh. This whole parenting thing is complicated sometimes. Don't be too concerned, I have a STRONG feeling that come Christmas morning he will be most glad to get presents!

Here's Bella on Father Abraham's lap:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nancy Heleman

Nancy is the mother of my best friend Karen and she was in a horrible accident this past Saturday at a Christmas parade in Thorndale, TX. The float she was riding on broke away from the truck that was pulling it and she was pinned between the trailer and the truck. One of her legs is broken and the other is very badly hurt. Please join with me in prayer for her, her family, and the doctors. Please also pray for me that I can be a good friend, it is hard because I have no vacation leave at work and a newborn and preschooler to care for so I really can't drop everything to go to be at her side. I guess I just don't have much else to say today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ren Fest Photos

The Faerie photos of Bella are now available to view online. Family members, you might want to wait and see what Santa has for you before you order any!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Extra Blankets

It is 10:49 PM and I just went in to put an extra blanket on Jacob. Given how late it is, you can imagine my surprise at finding him still wide awake, crying into his pillow. "Baby, what are you still doing up, are you OK?" "No mommy, I feel sad." "Why are you sad?" "Because Mommy, just because."

I guess it just feels kind of shocking to come upon my little one crying to himself, rather than yelling for me or getting up to find me. As the mother of a baby or a very young child, you still feel like they are part of you, an extension of your own feelings and experiences. But on some level this is not so - they are immediately their own person and they have their own inner dialogue and their own thoughts and feelings and stuff going on that you as a parent can only guess at. Even as a grown up married woman, it is weird to realize there is a tipping point beyond which my husband begins to know me better than my own parents. I couldn't tell you at what point this began to be so, it is just something that happens as you spend daily life with your spouse and time goes on. It isn't sad, it is natural and normal and part of God's plan (Mathew 19:5).
I look at my little son in his PJ's and I think that I know him best, and yet here he is, sitting awake all alone in the dark in his room, feeling sad. So I sit down and kiss his cheeks and rub his back and whisper, "Tell Mama why are you sad little one?" and he looks up at me with great big eyes and says "Because... (big gulpy sob) because Nemo is gone." I reach down and get his stuffed Nemo off the floor and he wraps his arms around it and says, "Thank you Mama." So, OK, someday he will grow up and away and apart from me. And he will feel things and need things and I won't be able to fix it all for him. But not tonight...

Renaissance Festival & Turkey Day

Last weekend we went to the Texas Renaissance Festival - it was so great. I always love to go, it is something I look forward to each fall. I love the costumes, the food, the shopping, all the music and dancing and activities. As a kid I loved to play pretend, and going to Ren Fest is as if a pretend world becomes "real", it is just so cool (OK, I know I'm a big dork!) As usual we had all kinds of good things to eat and drink and we went to all our favorite shops.
Jacob rode the carousel twice, went to the petting zoo and also took an elephant ride. The thing he most enjoyed were all the musicians, he would sit and listen and watch for as long as he could. Jacob is a very lively child and so it is always special to me to see something really catch his attention, whenever he sees anyone playing instruments he gets so still and you can see how he is really transfixed by it. Later in the day Bella and I went to Whimsy's Muse, a photography studio that does faerie photographs, and had our pictures made. It was so fun, they dress you all up and take your picture and then go back in digitally and add wings and faerie dust. The pictures came in yesterday's mail and they are adorable - I couldn't have thought of a more perfect way to capture the fun of the day. Once our pictures are up online I'll post a link.

Jacob & Grandma Theresa take an elephant ride:

Chasing goats at the petting zoo

Lost in the music

Our Thanksgiving this year was a little different. Try as we might, Will and I just couldn't seem to gear ourselves up for the usual meal. We just didn't want to shop for, cook, eat or clean up the typical Thanksgiving meal. Most of our family were other places and it was only going to be Will's parents and our little family and it just seemed like a huge production to go through for only four adults. So we made the craziest decision - we just decided to skip it this year and go to Benihana instead! Then it turned out that Will's poor daddy got sick and they couldn't come for fear of getting our children sick too. So, in the end it was just our little family going out to eat on Thursday. We had shrimp, steak and lobster and Jacob loved the show put on by the cook. It was wonderful! Then we came home and took long naps and lounged around in our PJ's and all in all were very thankful to have such a quiet relaxing day together!

Our family, Thanksgiving 2007

Jacob enjoys his first visit to a hibachi style restaurant

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bella's First Bubble Bath

This one was so cute I had to post it right away!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If you're happy and you know it...

Just a quick update - things around here are so great! My life is busy - it is insane but in a good way. Our days start early - around 5:30 AM. I got back to work and was instantly plugged into a huge project with my first deadline on 11/30- aaak! During my busy work day I have to find time to go to the Mother's Room in order to keep up with Bella's needs (she's throwing back the bottles - about 16 ounces per day!) while we are apart.

In the afternoons we rush home to get the children and we get dinner made and I get all the bottles and stuff washed, sterilized and ready for the next day. Then we play and take baths and read and sing. I usually end up with an hour or two before bed to relax. Bella is still sleeping great - she generally goes from 9PM to about 4:30AM without waking. In general, I'm not too worked up about the whole "sleeping through the night" thing, I mean if she needs to be up or eat or whatever then that's what I'm here for, but I sure am enjoying my full night's rest! Who knows if it will last but I just take it as it comes. I just feel so at peace, like my life is back in order again. The best part is carpooling and having lunch with Will again, I realize now how much I missed that time with him!
This coming weekend will be an exciting one, on Saturday we will go to Texas Renaissance Festival with all of Will's family plus my Mom & Randy. I LOVE ren fest, I have gone every year with Will except one since 1998 and it is so much fun. Each year Jacob enjoys it more and participates in more things, now we spend more time in the kid's area called Sherwood Forest, and less time at Ye Old Beer Stand but that's probably for the best! On Sunday, Anabel's being baptized which will be a very special day for our family. So lots of good things to look forward to. Off to bed, 5:30AM comes really early!
Here's a few snaps of Ren Fest in year's past -This one is from 2004 when Jacob was about 7 weeks old:

This one is from 2005 - what a cutie pie!

Some year's I dress up & some I don't, here I am being silly:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Back to Work...

Today was my second day back to work. It is HARD to leave my children at school in the mornings, and I miss them like crazy. Until Monday I had never left Bella for even an hour. On the bright side I'm looking forward to all of us being back into a stable routine. It was hanging over me that I knew I would have to go back to work, and as with most difficult things, it is better once it actually comes and you can deal with it than it is worrying about it in advance.

Bella is doing great. She's never cared to take a bottle from me (I think it confuses her) so I was nervous about how her feedings at school would go. Fortunately, she is eating from bottles just fine and guzzled down FIVE 3 ounce bottles today. She takes shorter naps during the day because they wake them if they sleep more than 3 hours; and as a result she is sleeping very well at night. In fact, last night we hit a huge mile stone - she slept for 8 hours last night, from 8:30 PM to 4:30 AM! Woo Hoo! Experience tells me that this may have been just a one time thing (normally she wakes around 2:30 for snuggle snack) but it was still very rejuvinating for me to get some uninterupted sleep. I can't think that I've slept that many hours since before the itching started back in August.
Sorry if I'm just blathering, I have no outlet for baby talk since all my Mom girlfriends from work have left to go work at another company. Now it is just me and a bunch of guys and one other lady who doesn't have kids. I miss my church friends already, they were so good to welcome me into their lives for a while. I thought it would be less lonely to go back to work and be around adults but I find it strangely quiet (no Elmo, no Monster Stomp, no Wiggles guitar). I'm trying to adjust from being at home with a very active little boy and a newborn (can you say major multi-tasking!) to just sitting at a desk working uninterupted. I do have to admit that it is kind of nice to go the bathroom with the door closed and not have anyone crying or calling my name.
I'll leave you with two photos, one of Jacob & one of Bella so you can decide for yourselves if they look alike as babies or not.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Random Thoughts on Music & God

One thing I feel strongly about is that God is everywhere, in all things that are good. You know how you might hear some music, or read something or connect with a person and this awareness just comes over you, this sense of connection and belonging. It is palpable - a tingling down your spine, a curl to your toes, a sense of familiarity, rightness. As if, for just a moment you've gotten a glimpe of the larger pattern. So earlier this week I was listening to the band Linkin Park and these lyrics caught me a certain way - I want to heal I want to feel What I thought was never real I want to let go of the pain I've held so long [Erase all the pain 'til it's gone] I want to heal I want to feel Like I'm close to something real I want to find something I've wanted all along Somewhere I belong I think this is what we all want. This song just resonated with me today, because I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about church (the noun) and also church (the verb). The sermon today was about seeking God. We need this so much, to not feel alone, to feel connected to something real. So I seek God and often find Him in people, in books or music even if that person, musician or author wasn't necessarily intending to point me towards God or perhaps did so in a very broken or indirect way. As created beings, we always reflect our King to some degree, we can't not. In every instance, in every circumstance we are His. We belong to Him. If you really stop and take that in, it is the most amazing thing.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Family Portraits

Today we went for family portraits. Afterward, we decided we are not doing that again. We will either pay $350 an hour to have spontaneous style photos done like the ones here, or we'll just get a good camera and do them ourselves, or maybe certain people toying with the idea of doing photography professionally will take them from now on because quite frankly the formal portraits thing down at the mall was super un-fun.
Something about the entire process just wears you down. By the end when you are picking the pictures to buy the poor husbands just stand there in their Christmas-y plaid shirts and say "Yes dear", they would pay anything just to get out of there. The other silly thing is this - why do we wear sweaters and fur and long-sleeved plaid shirts in these pictures? It's 85 degrees outside. And most likely it will be equally as warm in December, so why we feel as though we have to wear ski-clothes in our Christmas photos is beyond me. It's Texas for Pete's sake.
Something happens when you become a Mom - and I know it's not just me - there's this need to save, document and photograph everything. Hence the blogging, the scrapbooks and the tradition of the family Christmas portraits. But we don't necessarily want to document things the way they are, but rather as we wish they would be. I wonder what I'll remember or think about when I look at these photos when I'm an old woman. Will I remember rushing around to get there? That Jacob hated his shoes? That Bella tried to suck her fingers while wearing the white fur mittens and got a mouthful of fur and started bawling? Going to three stores the night before to find teeny tiny black mary janes? Is there any photographer on earth that can capture how much, how deeply, I adore this man and these two small children?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lions & Tigers & Bears...OH MY!

As much as I think I am resolved to be a working mom, I still struggle with a certain level of guilt. This guilt manifests itself in several ways, most notably in my frequent attempts to pack a lot of great memories into a relatively short amount of time. I get so excited to do fun things with Jacob, I really want him to get to do all the things I loved growing up. I grew up in a very spontaneous household and we spent a lot of weekends doing fun and often very inexpensive things like going camping, going to parks, art & music festivals, community events etc. On weekends, we scanned a copy of the Austin Chronicle to see what was going on, grabbed a few cans of generic soda (grape Shasta anyone?) and headed out for the day. All of this is an attempt to explain why, in a moment of nostalgia & spontaneity, I decided it would be super fun to take Jacob and Bella to the zoo on Tuesday. By myself.
So we get there and pay & get our map($10 for adults, $5 for kids over 2, babies under 2 are free) & find a shady table for our picnic, Jacob eats his apple and then throws away the core. We head to the washroom & then decide to see the monkeys. We pass the trashcan with the apple and out of nowhere Jacob decides he wants his apple back. Not even the lure of monkeys or lions or elephants can get this child away from the trashcan. He clings to the metal trash can and bawls. At this point I am still fresh and full of that good-mother-taking-her-kid-to-the-zoo feeling so I squat beside the trashcan and we have a serious heart to heart about how things that go into the trash are gone forever. Jacob makes this sad suck it up kind of face and goes "Okaaaay Mommy" only you can tell it really isn't and we finally make it over to the primate section.
At the baboons, we meet Little Georgie and his mom. Jacob and Georgie have a blast falling down on purpose and watching the baboons while Little Georgie's Mom and I have one of those aren't our kids cute and isn't this fun type conversations. So all the way through the primate section, Jacob and Georgie have a great time and everything is fantastic. Turns out they are at the end of their day so we are about to part ways and Little Georgie wants to give Jacob a hug. Jacob just looks at him like - "Dude. Just because we hung out at the zoo for a few minutes doesn't mean we're best friends or anything" and I have one of those parenting quandaries because here is Little Georgie crying and chasing Jacob with his arms outstretched and do I force Jacob to hug him or let it be or what. Finally, we compromise on a rather lackluster high-five. Jacob seems sort of relieved to get away.
I pull out the map to see where the elephants are but Jacob grabs it from me and it tears in half. I manage to get it back and while I'm trying to align the two sides together Jacob decides to push the stroller. He starts going really fast so I run after him and he goes even faster and right when he sees I am about to catch up with him he launches the stroller and and it tumbles end over end down a flight of stairs. I have never seen a Graco travel system fly before. If it hadn't been my kid, and my stroller and my keys, video camera and wallet flying all over the place, I might possibly have laughed. As crashes go it was pretty spectacular. (I should say at this point that Bella was NOT in the stroller, she was in the sling). But since it was my kid, my stroller, keys, video camera and wallet - I was mostly mad. Jacob even scared himself I think, he had this look like "whoa, I so did not mean that to happen" on his face. We decided to both take a time out and we put the stroller back together and hung out looking at the giant goldfish in the reflecting pond. You can see how tranquil and nice it is. That pond has been there for over thirty years, I sincerely doubt it has ever seen as much action as it did on Tuesday.
We had highs and lows all day. I learned that you just have to be really and truly patient if you take a 3 year old to the zoo. Their legs are short and they get tired. They will want to ride the carousel a lot and you will spend all your cash just to see the pure bliss on their face when they ride that lion around and around. When you finally say "no more" they will fall to the ground and cry for ten minutes. All the other parents will stare at you and you will ignore them. But then the storm will clear and you can just sit in the golden sunlight of a glorious fall afternoon and nurse your baby and watch your kid play on the play scape. You will try to ignore the fact that you have driven for an hour and paid $15 dollars so that they can play on a playscape that is nearly identical to the one 6 blocks from your house. They will throw their sippy cup into the bushes and wet their pants. They will ask "Are you mad because I peed on your shoes? " a whole bunch of times and you will get a little less mad each time they ask until by the end of the day whenever he asks you both just collapse into giggles.
So that was our day at the zoo. Last night, it was Halloween and Jacob was a bear. He wasn't sure at first if he wanted to wear his costume or go trick or treating but once he saw other kids coming to the door he was ready to go. He was SO cute in his costume. I was so proud of him, he is sometimes kind of shy or doesn't want to do or say the things everyone wants him to say or do (i.e Hugging random kids at the zoo). But last night, he was full of joy and confidence, running from one house to the next, we'd wait back with the grown ups and he'd go up and ring the bell and say trick or treat and thank you just like a big kid; I was really proud of him! At one point he suddenly stops and sits on the curb and we say "Jacob are you OK? What's wrong baby?" and he says "I'm OK, I just need to stop and eat some candy!" It was too funny!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Third Day

I'm sorry it has been so long since I've posted. I have many excuses! As mentioned in previous posts, our Internet connection has been down a lot lately. We had another repairman out on Sunday (for over two hours!) so maybe it will be better now. Also, Will has been working some from home in the evenings, poor Will! Lastly, Jacob has started taking computer classes at his preschool - can you believe it? And he has discovered that he can watch videos of many of the shows he likes online, so now there are three of us competing for computer time at our house!
We had an exciting morning today so far. I wasn't able to go see my absolute all time favorite band Dave Matthews Band this year because Bella was still too tiny to be away from me. So, when I saw that my very favorite Christian band, Jars of Clay was touring together with my second favorite Christian band, Third Day , in December I asked Will if he would take me for my birthday present. The tickets went on sale at 10 AM and my plan was to buy them online, so I was careful to be ready at the computer right on time in order to get good seats. So at 10 AM the "Buy Tickets" option appears and I click the button - oops, there is so much traffic that the server puts me "in line" meaning I just have to sit there and wait my turn to buy the tickets. While I'm waiting, I'm holding Bella and she's just cooing, smiling, and generally being extra cute. And I just WAIT and WAIT. After about ten minutes, Bella decides to entertain me by hosting her own event - POOPALOOZA 2007. Now I am a mom, I am not squeamish but this was the most poop I have ever seen. It totally blew out her diaper. It was all over her, all over me, our clothes, the chair, the floor - everywhere. See, it turns out that today was Bella's "Third Day" too! (In case you missed this tidbit of Bella trivia - she only poops every third day) Of course, I have to abandon my computer to get everyone cleaned up. Jacob pulls up his stool by Bella's changing area and just starts handing me baby wipes - what a great big brother! Finally I get her in a fresh diaper and get upholstery cleaner and floor cleaner and load the clothes in the washer and the whole time I just know that I'm missing out buying concert tickets! Don't worry though, I was able to get tickets. They aren't the best seats in the house, but they aren't too shabby, so I'm happy.
And now, for some pictures! There's two visits to two different parks, and a trip to the Pumpkin Patch plus a few ones of Bella just being cute - enjoy!

I know it must seem like all we do is go to parks. It feels that way to me too! We have just had a run of incredibly wonderful weather lately - it has been one sunny crisp fall day after another. I say "crisp" - in Houston that means low 70's! Today was no different, so glorious we had to get out and enjoy it. So, this afternoon, we went to yet another park. Our neighborhood is right next to the lake so we walked down and threw pine cones into the water for a while. This park is quite a ways down - it was a long walk but we were able to see butterflies, a rabbit, dragonflies, two squirrels and a yellow and black snake. I thought Jacob would maybe be scared but when I told him there was a snake he just said "ooh, where?" Once we got there, there were two young guys playing guitar and singing by the waters edge, of course Jacob was transfixed as always by any kind of music. It turns out they were playing Christian music and they were pretty good. So Jacob and I got our own concert in the park!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

8:40 PM

Jacob is finally, finally in bed. Bella is too. Will's snoozing on the couch. All is quiet....Dinner tonight was just OK - I made a recipe for pasta with shitake mushrooms and a pumpkin gorgonzola cream sauce. Despite about 20 ingredients it turned out to be bland. Oh well! The turn of the season always makes me want to cook with earthy ingredients - mushrooms, brown rice, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin etc. Oh, that reminds me, I was reading the bible this week and found the ultimate blogger's bible verse in Psalm 37:23 "The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives".

5:40 PM

It's official. Jacob has now been up for 12 hours straight. I've been up since Bella's feeding at 3:30 AM because I didn't get back to sleep before Jacob started stirring at 4:30 and was actually up at 5:15. I went ahead and gave him a bath and put him in his PJ's. Surely he will crash soon, right?

3:48 PM

Jacob is still not napping. I'm thinking that it just isn't going to happen today. YAWN.

2:50 PM

and still no nap

Ups and Downs

This has been a week of ups and downs.
On the down side - Our Internet connection has been spotty. Jacob has regressed this week with regards to potty training. He has developed a sinus infection which involves a lot of coughing at night. He has also been "off" behavior-wise which is probably related to the lack of sleep & feeling icky. On Tuesday he refused to come and say hi to his grandmother choosing instead to pee on my bedspread. Today I took both children to the doctor - Jacob for his sinus infection and Bella for her 2 month check-up. Bella received four shots and an oral vaccination and Jacob got a flu shot. This was after he peed all over the floor. The pharmacy took over an hour to process our prescription and everyone was hungry, grouchy and tired by the time we finally got home. Jacob has been up since 5:15 AM and IS STILL NOT NAPPING.
On the up-side - both new recipes I have tried this week, vegetarian mushroom stroganoff and Korintje Pork tenderloin with a pineapple jalapeno glaze, have been a major success. I've found out that it only costs $35 to dry clean a king sized comforter. Also, it turns out that our pediatrician is not phased in the least by opening the exam room door to find a three year old Donald Ducking it (wearing just a shirt and naked on bottom) in a puddle of his own urine singing the bear cha cha cha while his mother attempts to stop his sister from screaming. AND he will even watch your dancing 3 year old and screaming baby while you run to the car to get a new set of clothes. We LOVE Dr. Stanley!!! In other good news, since our deductible has been met for this year thanks to Anabel, I paid for Jacob's prescription out of the change drawer of the car. I could get used to that! The cable guy came and began the process of fixing our Internet and I'm eating yummy leftovers for lunch.
A little more on the doctor visit itself. Bella had a great check-up. She weighs 10 pounds 6 ounces and is 22 1/2 inches long. I have no idea what percentile that is, I just know she is the right size for Bella. I explained about how she has her own pooping style. She only poops every 3 or 4 days and on that day (known in our house as Poop Day) she will go all day. He says that is just fine and not to worry at all. I also asked about Jacob's behavior and how long it generally took for kids to adjust to life as an older sibling. He said that his behavior was perfectly normal and that it usually takes around 6 months for kids Jacob's age to process all the changes. He gave us some good tips to help improve the situation, so I left feeling pretty positive about both children.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Like many children, Jacob got to an age where he liked to sleep with a special toy. It started with Nemo, and then it was Mickey Mouse for a while and then Curious George. He'd be into one or the other of these "Friends" for a period of time and then he'd switch to something else. Lately, however, he wants to take every stuffed animal and toy to bed with him. It has gotten to where there hardly seems to be room for him in his bed. As a grown up, you take it for granted that some things are self-evident. Like that sleeping with hard plastic dinosaurs is just not a good idea but honestly by bedtime I'm too tired to argue about it. I figure if it's too uncomfortable then he'll decide for himself and sure enough after just one night he decided the following night that the dinosaurs would be happier sleeping in their caves.
All of these friends have to be lined up in a specific yet ever changing array known only unto Jacob. Should any of the friends fall out of the bed then Jacob will yell "MOMmeeeee, MOMmeeeee" until I get up and retrieve it. Why a child who can find or get into pretty much anything that you put up high or hide in a closet cannot reach a stuffed animal that is on the floor while they are lying on a toddler bed just four inches away is beyond me. And nothing will get your heart pounding quite like the CRASH of a plastic Noah's Ark filled to the brim with Little People coming over the baby monitor in the middle of the night. CRASH! BAM! MOMmeeeee!

From Left to Right: Emmet, Eiffel, Mickey, Other-One Duck,Froggy Bear, Mango Bear, Nemo & Noah's Ark.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Our trip to Austin and a new class for Jacob

This week Will had to attend a conference in Austin for Internal Auditors; sounds exciting, doesn't it? I decided to go too (to Austin, not to the conference) and the children and I stayed with my Mom. We were able to see Will in the evenings and visit with all our family. We went out to eat at Trudy's, one of our favorite restaturants, with Will's brother Robert & his wife Leigh. We visited with my brother Paul and his wife Heather and their children Ke'chara (3) and Ashke (2). We went to Burnet and had lunch with my grandparents and we toured the Blanton museum on UT campus where my Dad works. It was a little hectic but we always try to see everyone if we can. One night Jacob stayed at home with his Grandma Julie and Grandolph while Will and I had a "date". I write that in quotes because Bella came with us. Even after almost ten years in Houston, Austin still feels like home to me and I always feel sad to leave.

In other news, Jacob has moved up to the next classroom again at his school. The children in this room are 3 to 3 1/2 and they seem SO big to me. He wasn't too pleased when I dropped him off and it was hard for me to leave him, even though I know he is always fine within a few minutes. In this class, Sweet 350, there are several new things. First, they will begin to go to computer classes. We don't have any children's programs on our computer at home so that will be something totally new for him. They will also go on field trips. In previous classrooms the kids would take bus rides to see airplanes by the airport or farm animals but they never got off the bus. The first real field trip is next week to go to Old Macdonald's farm and I know he will have a blast. And this classroom uses a bigger playground and I have already heard all about the "great, big, hearty" slide from when he visited last week. "Hearty" is his new word lately and he uses it to describe everything.

This slide show covers our trip to Austin. There is one shot of Bella from a series that Mom took. The photo session went really well, but I'm saving the best shots for her birth announcements so I'm not showing them here. There is also one particular photo of Jacob where I can see how he might look when he is older - made me catch my breath when I saw it. Luckily he looks little and cute again in the next photo because I am not ready for him to look grown up yet!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Busy week so far...

This past weekend we went to a birthday party at Chuckee Cheese. Neither Will nor Jacob had been to one before so they didn't know what to expect. At first Jacob was a little overwhelmed but after the pizza and cake he warmed up and rode all the rides and played games with his dad. It was at this point that Will discovered the ski-ball type game that gives out tickets. Once I explained that you trade in the tickets for prizes, I couldn't get Will off that machine! Eventually Jacob lost intestest and went to do other things but Will kept on playing (so that he could win a prize for Jacob of course). Something I thought was funny was how they are still playing the same music they played when I went there as a kid - Huey Louis and the News - which in the 80's was popular but now is kind of odd because I doubt any children these days are familiar with "Happy to be Stuck with you"

On Monday I took Jacob to this incredible park that I had read about on other Mom's blogs. Holy Cow - they were NOT kidding, this park is amazing. Jacob is usually reserved at first when we go to new places, wanting me to play with him and I have to encourage him to explore on his own and play with other kids - not this time! This park just drew him in and since it is a universal park (meaning it is built for children of all different abilities i.e wheel chair ramps etc.) it is extremely safe - no surfaces that are hot or sharp, very well padded underneath, and you can see your child from almost any vantage point. You might think that a park this safe wouldn't be any fun - wrong - this was the most awesome playscape I have ever seen and he loved it. Did I mention it has shade structures and even misters to keep you cool? We will definitely be going back soon!
On Tuesday we baked 20 dozen cookies for the Kairos prison ministry. Jacob helped me put the dough on the cookie sheets and also helped me count out the finished cookies into ziploc bags(since it is for inmates the cookies have to be packaged very specifically). Anabel "helped" by being a happy girl in her sling. She is beginning to smile responsively now and here is one of the first times I was able to get it on film.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Did you know...

This week is "Banned Books" week at the library. The event takes a look at books that have either been banned or challenged in the last few decades. This is a topic that is important to me because I believe firmly that ALL people should be able to read ALL books regardless of their content. Past examples of banned books include "Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger; "Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck; and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain. From the American Libraries Association website:

"Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them".
A while back I asked the librarian if they kept a record of the books I had checked out because I wanted to re-read something and couldn't remember the title. The librarian told me no, they kept no such database because if they did, then the government could ask for those records and they would have to release them under the PATRIOT act, so rather than do that, they just don't keep the records in the first place. Interesting!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Edition

We've had a great weekend. OK, so for those of you whose lives do not involve raising children in the suburbs, it might sound pretty mundane. But from where I'm sitting, it was pretty awesome.

Friday night we hit our favorite Mexican restaurant, Fiesta Atzeca, where it is so loud and boisterous that no one can hear Jacob's magnadoodle clattering to the floor for the twenty seventh time. Yes, this would be the same restaurant where I took Jacob into the restroom with me and he very helpfully and loudly advised me to "POINT IT DOWN, MOMMY!" Yes, indeedy - kids do listen to what you tell them, and they repeat everything. As further proof of this fact, on the way home, we hit a very important milestone - Jacob used the phrase "Y'all" for the first time! I was so proud!
On Saturday, Bella and I hit the mall. Now, I'm not really a mall person. The consumerism gets to me. Yes, I am somewhat of a liberal hippy and walking by Hollisters/Abercrombie and Fitch and seeing rich kids with no jobs shell out $48 for a t-shirt really bugs me. It also bugs me that its so dark in there and what's with that smell they sort of pump out through the front? The throbbing music and bare chested mannequins and shuttered windows all give it that seedy night club feel and frankly I think it is a little weird. It reminds me of high school when we used to go to a teens only night at a club for Battle of the Bands. We'd sit there at like 7 p.m on a Tuesday and listen to our angst driven friends belt out covers of Sunday Bloody Sunday and People are People and think we were so cool. All that aside, I was able to get some things and am very happy to finally be out of maternity clothes.
On Sunday we took Bella to church for the first time - she did great, no fussing or diaper blow outs. We even attended a luncheon afterwards and she was happy the whole time. Afterwards, Will and I drove around to look at Open Houses. We go to Open Houses like some people blog surf (you know who you are!) - we just like to look. Since Bella was asleep in the car we took turns at one house, one person going in and the other waiting in the car with the kids. So I went into one place and the real estate agent asks me "So, when are you due?" Not the highlight of my day, especially since I had thought I was looking fairly good for only 6 weeks post-partem. Let me tell you, she couldn't have sold me the Taj Mahal for a buck after that!
Sunday night I went to the grocery with Bella. Our HEB has lots of organic foods and plays very good music and has warm tortilla samples, so I really don't mind going. I wear Bella in her sling and other than the fact that she toots a lot and people can't see her and assume it's me, we have a good time. I came home and Will and Jacob and I cooked up a variety of meals to have for the week. Jacob helped me with the Mexican casserole, he is very good at adding ingredients and stirring. We had Bella in her bouncer and it was nice to all be in the kitchen together. At one point Jacob picked up the wrong end of the bag of shredded cheese and it all dumped out. Two observations 1. Three cups of cheese looks like a lot when it's dumped out of the bag. 2. Sheltie dogs really like cheese.
So, that was our weekend! Sometimes nothing special is special, isn't it?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Days of Our Lives

Last Saturday, we held what Jacob calls his "Big Big Birthday Party". We had a lot of friends and family there and everyone had a good time. The party was held at a gym with games, music and activities led by Kids In Action. This was the first birthday where Jacob could understand that something was coming up in the future and could begin to really look forward to it and talk about it ahead of time. It was really fun for Will and I as we put together a party with all of his favorite things - the cake was decorated with scenes from his favorite book and all the music was from The Wiggles. There was one point at the party where Jacob was dancing to the music in the middle of the room and he just looked so happy!

On Wednesday, Jacob went to Tadpole Club again and this time I took some pictures. The session was about life in the pond and the rangers took the children out to the frog pond and dip netted creepy crawlies such as water spiders, tadpoles, fish and a crawdad for the children to look at.
Anabel continues to be a joy and wonder to me. I cannot believe she is already six weeks old. She completes our family so seamlessly, it is as though she has always been with us.
It is hard to juggle two children with such different needs. First off, there's just the logistics to figure out. Say you are in the parking lot - which child do you put in the car first? If you put the 3 year old in first then in order to have both hands free to buckle him in you have to put the baby in her carseat on the ground which is undesirable. If you put the baby in first then you don't have a free hand to hold the 3 year old's hand so he could wander off into trafffic - also undesirable. (Solution, have 3 year old "help" you with the baby seat so that they are in between the car door and your body or sometimes I have Jacob climb into the backseat of the car first, shut the door, then put Bella in on the other side, and then go back around and buckle Jacob in. Sound complicated? It is and I'm open to suggestions!) On the other hand some things work out great, like nursing Bella and reading to Jacob at the same time each evening. This is actually a really pleasant arrangement for all of us and one of my favorite times of day.
Then there's the emotional side of it. At some points during the day you have to make choices that you just don't have to make when you only have one child. Bella would like nothing more than to slumber in my arms all day and Jacob blossoms when I play with him and craves my undivided attention. I haven't yet figured out how to be in two places at once and so my heart aches a little each time I have to turn my attention from one child to the other. Thank God for the sling because it keeps Bella happy and frees up my hands to play with Jacob.
So, here I am, half way through my time as a temporary stay at home mom and it seems like I am just now figuring out how to handle everything and I'm feeling well and no longer so tired, inadequate and overwhelmed. It is pretty cool, to look up and realize, hey I'm enjoying this!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Jacob!

To celebrate Jacob's third birthday, I thought I would share some favorite pictures of him.

Monday, September 10, 2007

And They Lived Happily Ever After...

I think that we have turned a corner in terms of Jacob's adjustment to life as a big brother. The past few weeks have been trying - almost anything could set him off and the simplest request such as "Please put on your shoes" could be met with defiance or a 15 minute temper tantrum. Seriously it's been like living with an alcoholic or something. We would find ourselves cautiously addressing him in uber-happy voices, "Umm.. Let's go to the park? Jacob? You like the park, right? and juice boxes? um, we could take snacks, right?" just hoping and praying that he would be amenable. This of course was a huge mistake because a three year old can smell fear a mile away.
The spell appears to have broken and on Sunday I felt like I had my old Jacob back. He was sunny, polite, helpful and loving towards his sister. We had no tantrums, and no potty accidents - not ONE. It was so wonderful! He has started to tell anyone who will listen "This is my sister, this is Bella." He also has a small pillow that he has designated as Bella's pillow and when we settle down for story times he insists that she needs to be on her pillow right next to his. Thankfully, Anabel is an extremely easy going baby who didn't mind being propped up on a tiny elephant pillow for a reading of Olivia followed by several loud renditions of "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Michael Row your Boat Ashore".

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Adventures of Jacob Fisher

Jacob has become quite the traveler this summer. First the trip to Paris in May and now last weekend's trip to Colorado & Wyoming for Great-Great Aunt Lou's 85th birthday. Not bad for a two year old!

In other news, today Jacob joined the Tadpole Club at Jesse Jones Park & Nature Center. This is a weekly program for preschoolers where they learn about nature, animals etc. It is led by Park Rangers and involves puppets, stories, crafts, nature walks etc. Jacob was very impressed and interested in everything but decided to "play it cool" by hiding behind my chair most of the program. He was eventually won over by a juice box and a particularly realistic hawk puppet. I'll try to get some pictures when we go back next week.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Bella's Birth Story

I can't believe that just three weeks ago I was still pregnant and wishing very much to go into labor! I was truly in bad shape - unable to sleep or really function because of Braxton-Hicks contractions, itching and worrying. I didn't even want to form the words in my own mind, much less write them here but with cholestasis comes a heightened risk of still birth. With Jacob I had cholestatis, but I didn't know it until after the fact. This time I knew what could happen and my heart was just so heavy.
On Monday morning, August 13th, we had an ultrasound and fetal non-stress test and were reassured that the baby was absolutely fine. I, on the other hand, was a complete wreck and it was at this point that they offered to induce me. Midwives don't take induction lightly and it wasn't strictly necessary - it was offered because I was sort of falling apart. After examining me, the Jana told me that she truly believed that labor was imminent. In fact, she said she would not be surprised if I went into labor that night. Will and I talked about it over lunch and decided that we would only induce if it was truly medically warranted, we were really encouraged because we felt like the end was in sight.
We both actually returned to the office and finished out the work day. We got home and Will went to home group bible study with the specific intention of asking for continued prayers and I stayed home with Jacob. I had been feeling crampy with a back ache all day but nothing was coming consistently, so I resolved to be patient.
It was about 6:45 pm when I began to feel sharper pains - I began watching the clock and sure enough they were spaced about 15 minutes apart. Well, we'd been down that road before, so I still was not firmly convinced that this was "it". I got Jacob fed and changed for bed and we sat down on the couch to watch A Wiggly Wiggly World. I don't really mind this movie normally but on this night it was really getting on my nerves, I just felt really irritable and couldn't get comfortable. After I'd had contractions for an hour I go ahead and call Will at bible study. Funny thing is that right when it was Will's turn to say his prayer requests his cell phone rang and it was me telling him to come home. So everyone at bible study wished him well and he came home.
Once he arrived home, he began to make calls and load up the car. I was desperate to get away from The Wiggles and just like a mama cat I wanted to be where it was dark and quiet, so I went into our room and Will brings me this pad of paper so I can write down how often the contractions are coming. Will would come in and check on me and ask if it was time to go yet. I just kept saying no, I didn't really have a set combination of factors in my head, I just felt like it wasn't time yet.
Eventually, a contraction came and I heard myself make a noise in response to it and I remembered that that was a vocalization I had made when I was in labor with Jacob. It isn't screaming or yelling or anything like you see on TV - just sort of a low "ooohhh" sound. When I heard myself make that sound I jumped up and ran to the door and said "OK, now it's time." Except that then Will took a shower. Then we drove to the cash machine. Then we drove to the BBQ place where we met Will's Mom so she could take Jacob for the night. THEN we drove the 30 miles to the hospital. On the way we listened to a compilation CD that was made for us (thanks Matt & Kim!) - sort of like the ultimate road trip tape.
We arrive at St. Luke's at 9:47 pm and it seemed like we walked down miles of corridor before we got to the elevator. They kept offering me a wheel chair but I felt like I wanted to walk around a bit after being in the car. Jana meets us in the room and it turns out I am 100% effaced and 4 centimeters dilated, so they put me on the monitor for 20 minutes and we decide that Will has plenty of time to go downstairs to call our parents and grab something to eat. Jana leaves to check on some lab work and I am alone with the nurse when my water breaks. Without the extra cushion of amniotic fluid I am suddenly feeling like the baby was really about to come soon. Jana comes back into the room and checks me and announces that I'm 8 centimeters dilated. They quickly call Will and tell him to get up there right away. Good thing he came upstairs quickly!
I'm pacing back and forth in the room and I ask Jana "Why are they [the contractions] coming so close together? I can't seem to get on top of them" and she says "Because you are in transition!" and I just can't get my head around how fast everything is happening. I'm still thinking But I haven't gotten into the whirl pool bath yet.. Where's the birthing ball? Where's the jam box so I can play my special music? All these things that I had planned and thought I would need and it is like my mind cannot seem to catch up with my my body.
Suddenly I hear myself say "I need to push, she's coming NOW!" and they are all telling me to get on the bed but the bed is so high and it just seems like the most impossible thing and I'm convinced that I am going to have the baby on the floor. It takes all my concentration to not push and I get up on the bed. They are running around getting tables and lights and gloves and finally they are ready and I can stop not pushing and she is born and Will catches her and places her on my chest. And she is there in my arms looking at me, just calm and wise with this "Oh, there you are Mommy" look on her face. And STILL my head is not taking it in. It is 10:42 and she is born and I didn't really do anything except just let her be born.
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
The Monday afternoon that Anabel was born I was sitting at my desk at work listening to the CD that my friends made for me for birthing music and I just kept playing this one track by Steven Curtis Chapman over and over, here are the lyrics -

I watch you looking out across the raging water So sure your only hope lies on the other side You hear the enemy that's closing in around you And I know that you don't have the strength to fight But do you have the faith to stand and... Believe Me now Believe Me here Remember all the times I've told you loud and clear I am with you and I am for you So believe Me now I am the One who waved my hand and split the ocean I am the One who spoke the words and raised the dead And I've loved you long before I set the world in motion I know all the fears you're feeling now But do you remember who I am? I am the God who never wastes a single hurt that you endure My words are true, and all My promises are sure So believe Me now Looking back, I think I've learned, or at least been given the opportunity to learn, something about the power of just being still. Psalms 46:10 says "Be Still and know that I am God" - by following the command, we reap the promise. Maybe it has it taken all of this to get me to a point where I can appreciate the strength of accepting and trusting and getting out of the way. Maybe Bella's birth story is a birth story for me as well.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Whole New World

I feel that I am just now sort of emerging from this whole birthing experience, the birth was just so quick and so easy - it has kind of messed with my mind. Suddenly, in like an hour, the whole pregnancy culminates and is over with and then I was immediately plunged into this sleeping schedule where I sleep in 2-3 hour chunks. And I am all alone in my body after so long and it is wonderful and awful at the same time. Wonderful to move freely and sleep on my stomach and get off the couch by myself, but also lonely in a way that is hard to explain.

Having a newborn is much easier for us this second time around - I think we are just more confident and relaxed. I mean I can look at Jacob and feel encouraged, clearly we've raised one kid so far and he's doing great, so we must be doing OK with this whole parenting thing.
The hardest part so far I think has been keeping up with Jacob - he is handling things so well but there have been some major temper tantrums and it has been hard for me to discern when to apply discipline and when to just give him extra hugs and patience. He is grown up in so many ways that I have to stop and remind myself that he still really can't verbalize most of his feelings yet. Over the past few weeks there have been times when he has responded so fiercely - throwing a toy with such anger and deliberation or climbing into my lap and wrapping his arms around my neck so tightly and just sitting like that for 10 or 15 minutes - he just has this intensity that I haven't seen in him before, so I know he is processing everything in his own way.
This weekend Will and Jacob are in Wyoming visiting Will's great-aunt Louise. I miss them very much! I have a bad cold, so Bella and I have been doing some major vegging. I don't honestly think I've had this much uninterrupted time to myself in years. I've actually read two issues of Texas Monthly cover to cover. I've watched bad movies on Lifetime and ordered Chinese and surfed the net. Apart from being sick, it has been quite nice although I'll be more than ready for my guys to come home on Tuesday!
Enough about me, on to the pictures -
Is that a smile?
Jacob's first trip out on the boat -

Lady feeling left out these days -

So peaceful -
This one isn't in focus but it was still so sweet I had to post it!

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