Tuesday, June 29, 2010


While changing Ethan's diaper tonight we noticed his legs were peeling. I knew he got some sun on Saturday at the waterpark, but surely it wasn't enough to be blistering?! Especially on his legs and nowhere else.

Upon further inspection, we discovered it was just dried-on Elmer's glue.


Saturday, June 26, 2010


Both of my boys are hilarious. I love that they are close enough together to be friends and playmates. It's so funny to see their personalities as they run around and interact with each other.

Ethan likes to try new things and is never hesitant to dive into an unfamiliar situation (unless it is a strange dog who wants to be petted.) He frequently wanders off the driveway, off the sidewalk at the park toward the woods, and will quickly get away from me in public places. (This is not always a desired trait.) He is not shy, that one. At the same age Jacob was making sure all the cabinet doors were closed when we left the kitchen, Ethan is opening them up to climb inside. He laughs constantly at his older brother's antics and will eat almost anything we put in front of him, except sandwiches. He is not quite verbal yet, but he points and grunts and signs to make his will known. And he usually gets what he wants. Mostly shoes and bananas. And he has started putting his hands together when we pray or say a blessing before meals!

Jacob, unlike his brother, has a unique way of staying in the lines. He has a routine and a practiced way of doing things. Everything must be done the RIGHT way (which really just means his way). At the park, when Ethan and I will walk across the grass in the most direct route to the swings, Jacob will run "as fast as he can" on the sidewalk, following it as it curves around the playground, taking him a further distance to get to his destination. We have to get him to STOP pressing the blinking light on his toothbrush or he would still be there now, brushing away, just because he likes to brush his teeth. And wash his hands. Repeatedly. He also likes the clean a little too much, so we can't use it as punishment. Somehow, though, all these little rituals translate into an abundant imagination and creativity. At the water park, the joy and abandon he showed when he started playing was delightful! He was literally dancing and skipping through the water and making up his own games. He told me afterward that he was pretending to be a racecar in the water. And at dinner tonight, he brought along his buddies "Maff" and "Daff" (a California raisin and a miniature sock monkey) who we had not met in the flesh until this evening -- I'd always assumed they were purely inivisible friends!

Though my little guys have their moments (that whole learning to share thing is difficult right now), they can be the sweetest boys at times. When Ethan leans in to give Jacob a big kiss goodnight, or Jacob brings Ethan a diaper or a lost sippy cup or a missing toy, I just want to snatch them both up forever into a giant hug. Two of my favorite brother moments were caught by the camera the last two months, and I wanted to share them here.

Ethan's first popsicle break one hot afternoon in May:

Jacob teaching Ethan how to slide at the park on Friday afternoon:


Friday, June 25, 2010


Motherhood, and parenting in general, I think, is like a series of edits. You revise and reread, and revise again, always trying new tactics, new approaches to a topic. You could keep going on forever, continually revising, seeking perfection. But one day you realize that your time for making changes and forming your words into something meaningful is over. You have to let them go. Your words live on, of course, and sometimes take on a new life of their own in the hands of others. But they are still yours. And always will be.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Perfect Park

For years it has eluded me. The perfect park. To be honest, we do live in an area with an abundance of parks -- we even have one at the swim/tennis center in our neighborhood, plus two that I know of within a few minutes drive. There's a park with lots of activity centers and mazes of slides and climbing structures, all relatively new. One park has a nature-ish area near a river with a small creek, though it has been under construction since last year's floods. Another park within driving distance is right beside an airport runway. Still, I never found one that I wanted to visit every day. Until now.

A nearby city publishes a weekly paper which keeps me up on happenings in the community. This week there was an article on how some of the former county parks have recently been bought by the city. And they listed a small park that is less than 2 miles away from us that I had never heard about, though I've driven by the street a million times. So, Jacob and Ethan and I went on an adventure on Wednesday and when we discovered it, we had so much fun that we came back today and brought Gaines with us.

Top Ten Reasons I Love The Perfect Park

1. It's within a reasonable driving distance. Fairly short, actually. It's even closer to us than our former first choice for a park.
2. It is SHADY. There are trees all around the playground area, a nice shaded pavilion, and very quick access to a wooded area with some walking trails. Even in the middle of a 90-degree day we never felt like we were in the blazing sun. One metal slide got hot, but the rest were plastic.
3. Nature abounds. It feels very wooded and there is no artificial ground cover. For me, that used to be a drawback, but now that my two are walking around, I love that they can get dirty and have fun. Plus, we love walking on a well-worn path through residential woods. It's not a strenuous hike, but I feel like we get some exercise and enjoy being outdoors without getting too much sun.
4. It is in a neighborhood. Even when it was just me, the boys, and a lone tennis player in the middle of the day I didn't feel like I was secluded. There are houses directly across the street and you can see them through the woods. It fits my comfort level, since I can let the boys play without hovering.
5. It's just the right size, slightly enclosed, but with an open feel. There are only two "stations" and they are close together. Ethan can climb and slide ALL BY HIMSELF on one set and I can see Jacob sliding on the big slide nearby. One of our regular parks is just too spread out -- if one kid wanders off in a different direction I feel like I might lose the other one, especially on crowded park days.
6. The park is not crowded. The days I've been there this week, we've seen maybe one or two families (some from the neighborhood--who walked there!) but not an entire horde of summer children. The park isn't flashy or well-known enough for that. It's our hidden gem!
7. One of my favorite things -- it has a zipline! (Ok, well, sort of. It has one of those metal bars that slides across while you hang from it.) Jacob loves it. And so do I! Maybe if I come enough I can get work on my arm muscles. I'm such a weakling I can't even cross the monkey bars anymore.
8. Stroller access is excellent, but not intrusive. You can bring your stroller close to the action while staying on the sideway and it doesn't get lost admid too many play areas. This is a well-designed small park.
9. The equipment is decidedly old-school. I love it! The monkey bars are high and there are wooden platforms. It's "dangerous" enough so kids can explore and climb and yet I feel like Jacob is safer there than on some of the newer configurations. Some helicopter mom might deem it unsafe, but it's just the way I like it.
10. Family friendly. Today, since Gaines had the day off from both work and school, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch near a guy who was working "from home" with a laptop. A dad from the neighborhood walked his two kids to the park while we were there. And when we took our short hike on the nature trail, we left our cooler on the picnic table bench. It was still there when we returned, of course.

There might be one drawback -- no facilities. The first day we were there we met a mom and her young son leaving for that very reason. (That's not a problem for Jacob, though, apparently, since there are an abundance of trees not far off the wooded path(!), but I can see how if you don't plan well it could be an issue for little girls or pregnant women. Or me, if I drink too much water.)

One thing I didn't understand, though. Why did the house directly across the street have this giant new modern jungle gym in their backyard that was VISIBLE from the park?! I mean, seriously, is the public park not good enough for your little darlings? They can't cross the street to play? They might get too dirty? Now, I would love to have something like that in my own backyard, of course, but if I lived directly across the street from a place like this? I just don't know. I understand the desire to have a place to play that you can see from the kitchen window and that is completely enclosed and private. Still, I defend "my newly discovered park" as the perfect public play area. And if I lived in that house across the street, (once my kids were old enough) I'd send them across the street to play, invite some neighborhood kids, and watch from my front window. Pretty soon you'll be calling me a "free range parent". Perhaps I'm just an old-fashioned park lover.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grape Juice

The following involves frugality, theology, and good music. Not a bad combination, eh?

My task for today was to buy grape juice for Sunday's communion at church. Communion at our church happens quarterly and monthly (depending on the service), though we wouldn't mind one bit if we celebrated every week. :) Since Gaines' current elder duties include Worship Committee, that means planning for communion, which means checking the supply of bread and wine*, which means buying more, and as the shopper in the household, the task really fell to me. Though you should know by now that I actually had fun.

*Yeah, yeah, so it's just grape juice. I have no problem with wine, myself. But that's a conversation for another day.

With a little extra effort on my part, I picked up a 64oz bottle of Welch's for all of nine cents. Here's how I did it:

1. Check the sale pages. Brand name grape juice 2/$6 at CVS.
2. Print out a coupon from the Welch's website for $1 off.
3. Take along 2 kids and 2 Extra Care Bucks (I just happened to have).
4. Buy grape juice and only grape juice. No snacks, toys, or sunglasses!
5. Combine coupon and ECB's and pay only 9 cents out of my pocketbook.
6. Get an extra $1 ECB back because I've been using my Green Bag Tag. Woot!

The anticipation of the Lord's Supper has gotten me thinking about my favorite songs and hymns concerning the Eucharist. Either these are songs appropriate to sing after partaking (it is a celebration, after all!) or songs perhaps not fit for worship, but the lyrics still speak to some aspect of the supper.

  • Take to the World
    "Go in peace to love and to serve
    Let your ears ring long with what you have heard
    May the bread on your tongue
    Leave a trail of crumbs
    To lead the hungry back to the place that you are from"

  • Arise, My Soul, Arise (Indelible Grace Version)
    "Arise, my soul, arise,
    shake off your guilty fears;
    The bleeding sacrifice,
    in my behalf appears;
    Before the throne my Surety stands,
    Before the throne my Surety stands,
    My name is written on His hands."

  • A New Law
    "I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
    So just bring it down from the mountain to me

    I want a new law
    I want a new law
    Just give me that new law

    And don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
    I prefer a shot of grape juice
    And don’t teach me about loving my enemies
    And don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
    No, just give me a new law."

  • Both of Us'll Feel The Blast
    "I hope we sit together when Jesus serves the wine
    So I can look into your eyes when I taste it the first time
    And I know there's no secrets when you're sitting at that table
    But I believe we'll smile real knowingly when we read the label
    And it says "passion sacrificed to keep from going crazy."
    We'll tip our glasses to the Host who used to look so hazy
    And drink it down all sweet and slow and slip inside His mind
    And realize as it goes down- this is communion wine."

    These are some of my favorites. What are yours?

  • Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion

    A childhood friend of mine (who posts hilarious things about her twin girls) is having a contest with a buddy to blog something every day during the summer. Since yesterday was the first day of summer, I sort of missed out on that. But I do like the idea of blogging more regularly, so let's see if I can go most of the summer blogging every day.

    Here's something I learned about this afternoon (again, I'm late to the game): Rayovac has a giveaway for 30 days this summer where you can win great prizes like gift cards and camping gear. Full disclosure: "The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion won a prize package from Rayovac."

    So, I'm going for a prize package. But hey, I figure you, our half-dozen loyal readers might appreciate the chance to enter as well!

    You just visit the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion site each day and answer a question.

    Today's was: "13 millions Americans go camping each year. What is your camping style? Backyard, adventurous, roughing it?"

    The actual entry is limited to 25 words, but I thought I would indulge here and give you a short history of my relationship with camping.

    As a kid, I'm not sure we ever went camping as a family. Fishing, yes. Trips to the beach, yes. There was an old cabin down by the bay where the "boys" used to stay when we went to Phillips Inlet, but I don't remember if I actually spent the night there. The women and we kids would always stay across the water at a condo. (Cheaters!)

    I remember setting up a tent in the backyard once or twice, and I of course had access to woods and a creek behind our house. I might have spent the night in my tree house on one occasion (though I could be making that up). I vaguely remember sleeping in my oversized outdoor dollhouse. But it had electricity and insulation, so that seems like it wouldn't count. (I'll tell you about that someday. It was cool!)

    As a young adult, I still loved the outdoors. In college, I worked at a camp for two summers, but of course the bunks did have electricity and running water. I remember actually going camping once or twice with some friends in places around Birmingham and once out in Texas. Though camping in a field in December in below freezing temperatures was not wise. We should've stayed in the barn.

    Here's proof that I once camped out and slept under the night sky:

    I've often wondered what became of that tent -- it's probably in storage somewhere along with my parents' things.

    Even if I didn't get to go camping often, I always liked the idea. I enjoyed rapelling and hiking whenever I got the chance. When we got married, we registered for a few camping items. We ended up with a lantern, a gas camping stove, and some camping pillows. No sleeping bags. And, like I mentioned before, we had no idea what had happened to my tent. So, our plans languished. We got busy with apartment events and other activities and never made time for the great outdoors. I get jealous reading Kami's posts about their family camping trips.

    Now, though, we have two boys and I would love to take them camping. Gaines was a boy scout, I enjoy being outdoors. This is plausible. We don't have much (read: any) gear, though. I think I sold or gave away the camping pillows a few moves back. I'm selling the camping stove on Craigslist as I type. At least we still have the lantern. So, if we win this contest at least we'll be ahead of the game with some supplies.

    We do have one tent, featurning none other than Lightning McQueen, but so far it has only been set up indoors. I am getting to be really good at setting it up bleary-eyed at 7am, though.

    Remember, you can enter the promotion that inspired my ramblings here: Rayovac Powers Your Summer Promotion

    Faithful readers, what are your camping experiences like? I'm curious!


    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Thirty Years Ago Today

    I was born.

    Now, birth's always a miracle, but for me it was a special kind of miracle. You see, I was born early. Way early. Which makes it ironic that I am always late to things.

    Here I am as a baby. (I'm not sure when this picture was taken, but since I was alow to crawl compared to normal timelines I'm going to guess about 10 months.)

    I've heard the stories, of course, since even though I lived this miracle I wasn't self aware enough to remember all the details. So if I get some things mixed up, please excuse me. But I am sure of one thing: God has been at work in my life since he knit me together in my mother's womb. And he had tiny knitting needles.

    My mom was put on bed rest about the time most moms find out the sex of the baby, around 20 weeks. Then, after two months of book reading and watching soap operas, her blood pressure suddenly spiked. She was at 28 weeks. Combine the preeclampsia with placenta previa, and off she went to the emergency room. My mom tells a better story of how they rushed her in an ambulance three hours to Birmingham from south Alabama on June 17th. All I know is that the next day, probably very early in the morning, they performed an emergency c-section and I came into the world on Wednesday, June 18, 1980. I was born at UAB hospital weighing only 1 pound, 8 ounces and was only eleven inches long, like a hefty sheet of paper.

    My favorite photograph after my birth probably still sits on my dad's desk. It is a picture of his hand (or someone else's, I don't know), holding me, while I was connected to all manner of tubes and machines. My head is cradled in his fingers and my miniscule feet barely grace his wrist. Every time I see it, I'm reminded of the God who holds us in the palm of His hands.

    The doctor who performed the surgery at the moment of my birth didn't believe that I would live. So it amazed him, a week later, when he came by to visit me and I was thriving and off oxygen. My mom still keeps in touch with him. Perhaps it was the first time he'd ever believed in a miracle.

    I am ever grateful for all the things people did and reminded me of throughout my life. The prayers and tiny knitted caps and the doctors and nurses that helped sutain me. They say that the preemie girls are fighters. I know I must've been. Mostly, though, I've realized that it was God's grace that abounded and kept me alive. He upholds all life and His glory is revealed in His good Creation. Especially babies. I know this because now I have two of my own.

    When our friends came to stay in my little hometown on the eve of our wedding, the hotel keeper remarked, "You here for the Miracle Baby's wedding?" Yep, that's me. The Miracle Baby. And I'm proud of it.

    The picture below was taken when I was about four months old. After months in the neonatal unit in Birmingham and then intensive care in Dothan, I had finally come home. I think I weighed about 6 pounds. Maybe I was unhappy because I wanted clothes on.

    Here I am a few years later, no worse for the wear. At that point, I was catching up to my peers. I imagine I was a pretty normal toddler. Don't you see that mischievousness behind the smile? I probably was thinking about how fast I could get that dress off so I could go climb a tree.

    Happy birthday to me. God is good! All the time. And I am grateful.


    Tuesday, June 08, 2010

    Not-so-mundane moments in May

    May was mostly wet, with splashes of sunshine and a hot day or two reminding us that summer is near. We enjoyed our attic fan. We read stacks of books. Sometimes we went without TV for a day. Gaines finished another semester of graduate school. Hooray! And every now and then I remembered to grab the camera. As you can see, life around here is anything but boring.

  • Enjoying breakfast casserole with Mr. Eric Peters. Our Captain Adorable is his biggest fan in the preschool crowd.

  • Meeting Clifford "The Big Red Dog" at storytime. (Two celebrities in one month! He's going to be star-struck!)

  • Jacob's favorite rainy-day attire. He chose this ensemble himself, right down to the "lellow" boots that matched his "lellow" shirt.

  • While comparing prices for VBS crafts at Michael's, I suddenly discovered a swamp thing in my aisle.

  • Making a wish in the fountain at the Forum on a drizzly day. I hope it came true.

  • Ethan enjoying his first taste of pork ribs. One of our friends from church made some of THE BEST ribs we've ever eaten. Mmmmm. Carnivorous.

  • Jacob being a tiger. WROAR!

  • He went a little overboard with his tiger "costume". I had too many art supplies out in reach this month...

  • Ethan mows the driveway regularly.

  • One of our many tricycle excursions.

  • Front porch sitting is good for the soul. We like to greet EVERYONE who walks by. "Hello! My name is Jacob. I'm three years old!" At least our neigbors are friendly.

    See you real soon! More memorable highlights coming up shortly. Plus, an elusive "book review" post or two are in the works!

  • Wednesday, June 02, 2010

    LOST -- End and Beginning

    So ... I thought about posting my take on the LOST finale, but here we are, a week and a half later, with nothing to show. Like Allison, I thought the finale was well done and a fitting end to the series. Other folks were disappointed. And that's cool. I've kind of burned out on reading the various pro and con assessments, so I'm just going to say I loved it and leave it at that. Even with its faults (both with the episode and as a finale to the series), "The End" held up well to a second viewing. In fact, it left us wanting to re-visit the entire series, though probably not anytime soon. We did re-watch the pilot, though, and it was pretty cool to see how well these two bookends held together.

    Which brings me to the main thing I wanted to mention:

    Mark T. aka the Foolish Sage has some great thoughts as part of a LOST Retrospective. The best part is that he actually is re-watching the series from the start, and providing comments with the entire series in mind. Should be good. He's got three episodes done already, and I think it really shows how well the show coheres from start to end. Do check it out.