Monday, December 26, 2011

Claire is 4!

Claire has been in a state of majestic exhiliration all day. She is the birthday girl, and boy howdy does she know it.

When I look back over the last year, I am amazed at how much Claire has grown. In the past year, she has gained so much self control. She is still quite a drama queen at times, but she knows how to control herself more and more. I am so proud of the way she is learning to deal with her emotions in a productive way. She is learning to focus more on other people, and prioritize other people. She has been such a great big sister over this past year. Mostly, I'm amazed at how much her understanding of God has grown. Last year, her prayers were adorable gobbledegook. Now she understands so much about God's nature and his work, and I think she is really growing in her love for the Lord. I am so glad to see it all, and am praying for anther wonderful year.

Claire had her favorite sticky bun breakfast, and her favorite mac-n-cheese dinner. She requested a castle cake, and I ambitiously decided to make fondant from scratch and assemble a 3-D palace, even though I'd never touched fondant in my life before. Ambitious? Yes. Misguided? Absolutely. The cake was a wreck. But at least there was enough beauty for a 4-year old's eyes.

This year, I decided to interview Claire. It's so much fun to discover what's going on in her little brain!

Claire at 4:
1. Favorite color - pink & purple
2. Favorite food - macaroni and cheese, cake, colors pasta, and bacon.
3. Favorite dessert - cake and brownies and ice cream, lollipops
4. Favorite friend - Anna Christine
5. Favorite play activity - playing princess (dress-up), dolls
6. Favorite fruit - watermelon
7. Favorite vegetable - salad

8. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a mama and do lots of things like working in the kitchen and driving places.
9. What are you most excited about for this upcoming year?
Turning 5.
10. What is your favorite Bible story?
Nicodemus and also baby Jesus being born.
11. What kinds of things are scary to you?
Monsters and the darkness when you go outside.
12. Who makes you laugh?
Papa Dan
13. What is something that you're really good at?
Painting, playing playdough, drawing pictures, taking care of babies...
14. What is something that's difficult for you to do?
Things that make me very destructive, then I need Daddy's help.
15. Who do you want to marry when you grow up?
Daddy. Maybe Isaac.
16.Where do you want to live when you grow up?
In North Carolina.
15.What is something that you love about God?
I'm so happy he was born in a manger. He loves me and I love him!
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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Eve's Birthday, part 2

Birthday the Second took place when we got back from Hawaii, at Dad and Deonni's house. This go round was pretty different. Everyone wanted to be more involved, including the older kids. Eve was much more excited about the singing, and I don't even need to tell you how she liked the cake. The pictures speak for themselves :). Maybe it's because of the chocolate.

Eve's 12 month stats are: 21 lbs (70%), 29" (70%), and 93% head. We're the brainy type :). Here's to many more happy, healthy birthdays, sweetie!
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Happy Birthday, Eve!

Vance had a work conference in Hawaii at the end of September that left me with a conundrum: to go to a tropical paradise with my man, or to stay with my kids at home and be there for my baby's birthday? If you guessed that I would stay home, you probably overestimate my maternal devotion :).

We had a wonderful, wonderful time in Hawaii (more on that later), but I had to deal with my mommy guilt in some way. I also had to find a way to deal with a birthday in the midst of Vance's fatigue and all our travels. The solution? Two birthdays! Round One was at the Whitaker's house.

As we sang Happy Birthday, Eve looked a little shell-shocked. You could tell she wasn't sure she wanted quite so much attention. She was mesmerized by the birthday candle, but didn't quite know what to do with the cake. She gingerly touched the icing, but eventually tried the "all in" approach in an effort to keep her fingers cleaner. It only lasted a few minutes, though, and then she wanted to be done. She really surprised me! I thought she was going to really go for it.

I can't believe my littlest one is a year old. She's gained 3 new teeth in the last week, and has started to stand uncertainly on her own, but isn't quite ready for that first step. She is a talkative one, and I think we have another comedienne in the family...she loves to do silly things to make us laugh! I haven't been able to stop kissing her sweet cheeks since we've been back, and I'm glad she still lets me cuddle her so much. Slow down, baby girl!

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Friday, September 16, 2011


At the end of August, Isaac started Kindergarten! As you can see, he was beyond excited to go. Four weeks later, he still is. This "where should Isaac go to school?" question has been a long and very involved decision for us. We both have strong homeschooling roots, although I also went to public and a private school growing up. There are a lot of things that I love about homeschooling, but I have always been of the persuasion that any decision about my children's education should involve a lot of prayer and a willingness to follow whatever course seemed the best for them and the family as a whole.

Obviously education is another one of those hot topics, particularly within evangelical Christian circles. I am not going to expound on my philosophy of education here, except to say that this is an area of Christian freedom that requires great discernment. Regardless of the education we choose for our children, we as parents are responsible to educate and train our children in the Lord. That means a lot of time and involvement, whether at the kitchen table or in our children's classrooms. It also means a lot of observation on our part, to see how are children are processing their education, and how it's impacting their hearts. I don't know what we'll end up doing with our kids long-term, but we are open to pursuing whatever direction the Lord leads us.

I have been encouraged by the increasing diversity I've seen on this front. I know some families who are homeschooling that I would never have pictured doing so...and families who are sending their children to public and private schools that I would have pegged as "the homeschool type". Vive la difference!

It has definitely been a change of pace around here, but we're adjusting. We were able to "choice" into one of the top elementary schools in the county. Our friend teaches there, and we were able to request a Christian teacher. So far we've been very happy, and so has Isaac.

One of the reasons we put Isaac in public school this year was so that I could have more focused time to concentrate on Claire. She is the middle child now, you know :). With Isaac being the loud, gregarious, leader-type, we felt that she needed increased one-on-one time. I think it has been so helpful for her. She is really blooming lately. She really wants to have my attention the whole time Isaac is away, so we have been playing a lot of games, doing "school", and talking lots and lots. She is growing up so fast, and is more and more of a help to me. I realized recently that I haven't heard her call green beans "bean beans" or her bathing suit "baby soup" in probably a year and a half. But she's becoming more willing to talk to strangers now that Isaac isn't here to cover for her. I have been really enjoying my Claire time!

It didn't take long after she started crawling for Eve to become a cruiser. She's pulling up on anything and everything, and I expect to see her walking soon after her birthday. She is showing signs of becoming something of a fastidious eater, although I think maybe the other kids did the same. She thinks Isaac is the funniest person alive, and to watch her pump out the belly laughs while Isaac performs his very-5-year-old humor is good for the soul. She is sleeping better these days, and seems to have adjusted to our new school schedule without much of a hitch. I don't know what I'd do without my sweet baby for snuggles!

Well, we're still here. The last two weeks have been pretty hard, and I feel like I'm running on empty. It is truly the kindness of God that Vance has to go to Hawaii for work and that we made the decision months ago for me to come. Initially I felt like it was too expensive for me to go, but I am SO glad we opted to buy me a plane ticket anyway. Frankly, I'm exhausted, and heartsick from so many months of hoping and praying and yearning for this man I love to be healthy again. I know this trip isn't going to fix anything, but it comes as a sweet mercy when I feel the need for a reprieve. I can't wait to feel that sand between my toes!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Signs of the Times

Isaac has spent the last day or so labeling everything in the house. I fully expect to wake up tomorrow morning with a "MAMA" sign taped on my forehead. When he is labeling the trees in the yard by their Latin genus and species, we'll know he's approaching an obsession. He's his daddy's boy...a scientist who wants to find a category for everything.

I refuse to intervene and correct his spelling (unless, of course, he asks me). It'll be over before I know it, and I'll be asking him about the "I before E" rules. I will mourn on the day he starts to put spaces in between his words, and it looks like that day is just around the corner.

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Neat Freak

My kids have always been messy eaters. The hose-down-the room-after-every-meal kind. I have lots of documentation from Isaac & Claire's respective high chair days. Eve, not so much. She's just not the type to put alfredo sauce in her hair or yogurt in her thigh rolls. Tonight we had our traditional Sunday smoothies, and this is about as messy as she gets, so I figured I should take at least a few pictures. Proof that she can be (a little) messy.

I haven't made much popcorn since Vance has gone on his new diet--actually, no popcorn in the last 2 months--so Eve had never had any (don't worry, we crumble it up). You would have thought we'd handed her the moon.

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Monday, August 08, 2011


Have you heard the saying, "The cobbler's wife has no shoes, and the doctor's wife dies young"? I like to add, "and the landscaper's wife has no yard." (However, my friends have called me out on that one, because the breeder's wife does indeed have strawberries :).

We took a step in the right direction on Saturday. Vance felt well enough to make a Home Depot run on Saturday, and he came back with about 10 foundation plants. Isaac could not wait, and since Vance wasn't feeling the best, he took an advisory role and let his wife do the actual installation. He acted all surprised to see me shoveling--I reminded him that I am also proficient with a pickaxe. So watch out, all you people.

Isaac was in charge of fertilizing and spreading mulch. Vance was in charge of critiquing. I was in charge of the gruntwork. Eve was in charge of soil sampling. We all had fun!

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Little R&R

Thanks to some very gracious friends of ours, we were able to spend a couple of days at their condo near Fort de Soto Beach. It was so fun!

You know how, when you're in charge, suddenly vacation seems almost like too much work to be worth it? Isn't it sad that adulthood can almost talk you out of having fun sometimes? With three little kids and a sick husband, I had a hard time getting a vision for a 2-day vacation. It was going to be longer, but Vance wasn't feeling well enough to go for the first day. There were many times while I was getting everything ready that I was struggling with self-pity. It's just hard to have to do everything sometimes...or at least that's the way I felt. And it is true that these days, if it's going to be done, it's going to be me doing it. It's a battle most days.

But as I was standing in the Gulf holding my baby, looking back to the white sandy beach where my children were happily playing, I had to repent of my skewed vision. Yes, we have trials we are facing. But in the grand scheme of things, we are so blessed. It's one thing to ask for the mercy of relief and healing. I do countless times a day. But it is quite another thing to be so blinded by the difficulty of life that I cease to marvel at the mercies he is continually giving. God save me from myself.

And while I look forward to the day that I am not trying to pack, clean, load the car, take care of the kids, AND simultaneously look cute enough in a sundress to go out for dinner, it was so worth it. :)

Eve needed a bit of convincing that the beach was fun, but she warmed up. Crawlers sure do get sand everywhere!

My favorite part of the trip...grilling out at the beach for dinner and walking back to the water for the sunset...

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

an update on Vance

It's been too long since I've reported on Vance's health: that's left those of you who are so faithfully praying with us hanging. I'm sorry about that. Here's a bit of an update.

About 6 weeks ago we put Vance on the GAPS diet to try and relieve some symptoms of his chronic fatigue. We also kicked up his "exercise" regimen into a no-matter-how-I-feel priority, and worked harder on the insomnia front. Within four or five days we saw noticeable improvement, and since mid-June he has been working pretty much full time. Praise God! For about a month, he had enough energy to play with the kids after work, was increasing the intensity of his exercise, and even started mowing the lawn again. As he described it, some of the low points in his illness have brought him to about 30% of normal. Lately he's been more like 85%. That's a pretty huge change.

At least it was, up until a week and a half ago. He had been feeling well for several weeks, and was feeling well enough to do some yard work. He was encouraged at how energetic he felt, and he did more than he should have. The bummer with CFS is that the recovery period from one afternoon of overdoing it is brutally long. Weeks, even. It's so discouraging, especially because I think we were both feeling that maybe he was done with the worst of it, and on the way to recovery. Chronic fatigue just doesn't give you much room for error when it comes to limits.

Our friends Yesupadam and Monika came over yesterday for lunch (so grateful for overseas friends who travel to us!), and they took the opportunity to pray with us for Vance's healing. Obviously we've been praying daily for healing, but as we prayed together Vance and I both felt a new level of faith that God would bring restoration to his body soon. We were also both impressed that this is an issue of spiritual warfare. I think in the spiritual culture I'm in, we pay more attention to the tempations of sin and self than to external foes like the devil. Generally speaking, that is probably fine...but Satan is still our adversary, and one we are commanded to actively resist.

After we laid hands on him, Vance felt significantly better, and has continued to. He's not completely healed yet, but I am waiting in expectation, even as I am so thankful for all the healing that God has thus far granted. Please pray with us!

Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing
Were not the right man on our side
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same
And he shall win the battle.

~ M. Luther
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Evie at 10 months

Look how I found Eve when I came to get her from her morning nap! All smiles and getting herself into a sitting position by herself for the first time.

At 10 months, Evie has finally hit the, "Hello, trouble" stage. She started crawling a week ago (3 months later than the other two), but she was a quick study after her delayed start. Within a day she was moving from room to room. I did enjoy having her stationary for so long, and I wasn't really encouraging her to crawl, but I think mobility is making her a happier baby. She's able to get what she wants now.

She hasn't really added any new words to her vocabulary, but she has waving down to a science now. She is sleeping better, which is wonderful. She and Claire like having a room together, and just like with the Isaac/Claire combo, having two kids in one room just hasn't been the Armageddon I dreaded.

This girl has pretty much given up baby foods for good, and I think she's going to be a foodie. She likes all the cheeses she's tried so far (even blue!), and cries when she runs out. She demands to receive the same food that we do, which made for some emotional drama when I denied her a chocolate chip cookie (It was my first time with this recipe, and it was pretty awesome). I am already thinking about how fun it is going to be to watch her eat cake, just two short months from now...

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sunday Lovin

We had such a lovely Sunday. It was one of those days where both Vance and I just really enjoyed being with the kids all day long. (That sounds bad, but if you're a parent, I think you know what I mean). Evie has started waving and saying "Dada" over the last couple of days. She also made up for her cutting-teeth fussiness by being a perfect angel all day today.

Just look at those pudgy little arms.

I need to get a better picture of Isaac and Eve together...I think they look so much alike.

Claire wanted to be in a picture, but was making crazy faces the whole time, so this is what I have.
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Friday, July 01, 2011

Evie at 9 Months

In the midst of all the busyness that life is right now, it's been a bit hard to find the time to blog. Mostly it seems I'm spending my "free time" culturing yogurt, simmering broth, and figuring out what Vance can eat when. I should have spent more time catching up when the kids were away. But more on all that later... :)

Evie is 9 months old! Her checkup at the doctor yielded these stats--she weighs in at 18lbs (48%), and is 71% for length and 98% in head circumference. This girl was built for brains, not speed, apparently. That is proving true in real life as well. The other two kids were crawling at 7 months. Eve has had no interest in such things until the last couple days...only recently have I seen her really going anywhere. She doesn't really like being on her hands and knees, so she does a lot of scooching. But she's crossed the line from immobile to slowly somewhat mobile, and it's only a matter of weeks before she's on her way.

Moving isn't really her forte, but talking is! She is an incessant babbler, and last week she debuted her first word: "Mama"! I was beyond proud. Isaac's first word was "duck", and Claire said "Dada", so I was really pulling for my place in the lineup. And I scored! She says "Mama" all the time now, when I walk into the room, or when she's looking at me. She says "Dada" too, but never when he asks her to. Hmm...

I think she has also become my Most Complimented Baby. I don't know what's average, but I assume that all mothers get bombarded with the usual, "Your children are so adorable!" stuff. Almost all kids are cute, and people want something to say, so it's pretty natural. But I think Eve takes the cake! I have had 5-7 people stop me per store to tell me how beautiful she is at times, an older lady told me that Eve was as cute as her grandkids (!!), and a mom at the gym said that Evie was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen. Of course I agree! I think her blond hair really gets people going.

Eve is showing a little more "personality" these days, as they say. Some of that is due to the two teeth she is cutting in right now, poor thing. She is a die-hard cheese fiend, and will spit other food out if she gets cheese first, throwing a little hissy fit for more. She loves food of all kinds, and eats a ton. She can be very violent, and I have been pinched, bitten, and generally torn to shreds by her exuberant curiosity lately. But even with a little bit more spunk lately, she's still my sweet, easy-going girl.

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