The title of this entry comes from an old high school inside joke that still sticks in my head to this day (kudos to anyone who can remember what that is in reference to). To say we had a rough Christmas season is to put it mildly. We lost my brother, Jeremy and sister-in-law, Natalie and their two boys to Minnesota the day after Christmas. To watch our children say goodbye on the night of Christmas was emotional for me to say the least. That was followed by two consecutive illnesses that rendered me completely useless for over a week. Stephen took two weeks off from work so it was great to have him home, but a bummer to not be able to enjoy it because I was so miserable. That was followed by burning my hand terribly this past weekend with a hot glue gun of all things. Just for future reference, though, hot glue will eventually pull away from a burn all on its own, so don’t try to rip it off prematurely or it will take all of the burned skin with it. . .
That being said, life is going very well. We are excitedly expecting a new baby boy this May. Many of you spoke of how badly you felt for Julia after watching the video, but rest assured she is very excited. She was stunned to discover that babies don’t come made-to-order, but she adores Harrison to pieces. The thought of another Harrison thrills her. So does not having to share her bedroom. Of course, you could also tell from the video that Evan is overjoyed and Harrison is clueless.
I also feel blessed to not have been blown to smithereens a few weeks ago. Harrison woke up crying one morning a little before 7:00. Since he didn’t get to bed until 9:00 the night before it was too early for him to be up. That morning, for some reason, instead of going directly to the closet, flipping on the light, and getting sweats, and heading off to the bathroom before I headed down to his room to get him back to sleep, I walked directly down to his room in my t-shirt. I picked him up and held him for 10 minutes or so until he was back to sleep. I laid him back down and headed back to bed. When I got to his bedroom door I began to smell natural gas just before I opened it. I opened the door to an overwhelming smell and wondered down the hallway to find my sweats and to find out the source. I had to force myself to not habitually turn on lights as I went. I remembered that, for some reason, the night before I had thought to fling some sweats over the footboard on my bed. It made it possible for me to find them without having to flip on my closet light. I made my way down the kitchen and saw immediately that one of the knobs on my stove was turned to the low position. I quickly turned it off so it wouldn’t try to light the stove as the knob turned past the lighter and then wondered around to open all the windows on the main floor and upstairs (except in the rooms where my kids were sleeping).
The whole thing was really miraculous to me. I always wake up breathing through my mouth for a bit while I wait for my sinuses to open back up. That is part of the reason I didn’t smell the natural gas right away. I am sure the other part of it was that I was already used to the smell as it had filled my bedroom while I slept. 999 times out of 1000 I would have turned on my closet light and then the bathroom light before I headed down the hall to check on Harrison, especially with a baby sitting on my bladder now. Why I headed right down the hallway to the baby’s room is beyond me. The baby’s room is at the absolute end of the hallway with the door closed so the smell had not totally infiltrated his room yet. Ordinarily I would have stuck his pacifier back in his mouth and went back to bed, but this morning I held him for long enough that I could grow unaccustomed to the natural gas smell and catch it as I left his room. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how the gas on the stove was turned on. I had cooked on it the night before, but I had the stove on high and I remember turning it off because the sauce was spitting on me. Then later, after the kids went to bed, I cleaned the stove top off. I surely would have caught it then if i had left it on. In order to turn the knobs on you have to push down on them before you turn them. Out of the many dozens of times I have cleaned that stove since we have been in this house I have never accidentally done that. Something went wrong along the way, but either way, I spent the day so grateful to God for. . . what could have been the unthinkable. I have prayed so many times since having children that He would protect them from my own stupid mistakes and from their own. He has always been so faithful to hear and answer those prayers.
We did have some fun in the past couple of months since my last, not totally baby related blog post. Stephen and I got away together, courtesy of my mother-in-law who took the kids for us, to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I really, really, really, really, despise New Orleans. The last time I was there was 5 or 6 year ago and I vowed (short of a lightning bolt from God) never to go back. It is nasty, vile and completely depraved.
However, curiosity got the better of me and I decided I wanted to take advantage of the time Stephen is spending in New Orleans on his latest project to view what is left of the hurricane damage there and on the coast. I was stunned to find that the 9th ward, the place where all of the impoverished people who didn’t leave the city during the hurricane waited on their roofs for rescue or perished in their homes, was nearly completely gone. The houses have been torn down and it is now a ghost town. Stephen packed his handgun for the trek into one of the highest crime rate areas in the nation, but what we found was mostly investors and contractors trying to revitalize the place. There is a LOT of room for new development as long as you don’t care that the levies could crash in on you again, and you could drown in your own living room.
Most of the remaining damage I saw was in the middle and upper middle class areas where they didn’t have so much humanitarian support from the outside. There is still mile after mile of completely destroyed and molded over homes that haven’t been touched since the hurricane. It was mindboggling to see.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is completely obliterated. There is just nothing left as it once was. There are new homes going in here and there, but mostly it is just mile after mile of pipes sticking out of foundations where a house once was. There was one place where just the bank vault remained. The entire bank was completely gone. The piers are gone and most of the beautiful old oak trees with rare exception have been washed out to sea. Stephen has gone on two missions trips there so far to help in the rebuilding process. It was a joy to see some of the houses he had worked on. They looked great! I have included pictures of our trip below.
Now for what you really came for, the update on my children.
-can count to four without missing a number, but then it gets sketchy. He knows all of the numbers to 10, but he skips numbers as he makes his way to the number 10. He will say something like, “One, two, three, four, six, eight, nine, ten”!
-now speaks in 3 or 4 word sentences that he constructs on his own. He would copy sentences before, but now he is coming up with his own stuff. It never ceases to take me off guard to hear an 18 month old (now 19 months) talk like he does. It takes people off guard everywhere we go. I get asked by complete strangers or dinner guests how old he is because they can’t get over his vocabulary. He talks non-stop and 95% of it is words most people can understand with very little gibberish anymore. I told Stephen one day that sometimes it takes me a minute to respond to him not because I am trying to figure out what he was saying, but because I can’t believe he is saying it. I am not trying to brag about it. It has become such a part of his personality that I wanted to be sure to include it in my records. I never want my kids to think they have to live up to outlandish expectations of them like we expect him to always be the smartest kid on the block or anything. I just always want them to do their best and work hard. Talking ridiculously early is just a fascinating part of what makes him who he is for now, not an expectation for future performance.
-favorite foods are yogurt, string cheese, oatmeal, daddy’s au-gratin potatoes and grapes.
-is now really into Richard Scarry’s “Cars and trucks and Things that Go” book and LOVES to find Goldbug on each page. He knows where he is before I can find him on most pages now. Each of my children have gone through a phase where they really liked that book and wanted to read it all of the time to find Goldbug on the pages. They carefully go through the book now and help Harrison find him. Though, now Harrison is giving them a run for their money as he can find Goldbug before they can on several pages. It is fun to see them try to teach him and watch him get into it so much.
-has started the terrible two’s, but it is just mischievousness and declarations of independence. So far I find it completely adorable. He is still a very compliant child, praise the Lord!
-favorite color is purple or pink.
-finally started saying the “F” sound instead of “S” in the last several days. Even Harrison was showing off his mad “F” saying skills to inspire her and finally it paid off.
-has emerged a bit now from the dark, yearlong battle of the terrible two’s. She still loves the drama but she can be reasoned with a bit more by the day.
-is such a great helper to me. She loves to help me around the house and can do the most complex tasks I never even considered asking Evan to do. Lots of times I will turn around, and she will be cleaning up a mess I never asked her to work on. It is such a blessing to me.
-could look at books and have others read to her 24/7.
-I wanted to expand upon something I said about Harrison earlier, and Julia is the perfect example for this. I never want my children to feel like they have to do or be anything to live up to my expectations outside of trying their best and working hard. In the case of Julia, I have always been as careful as I can be to never, ever make her feel like outer, superficial beauty is of any value around here. I have never painted Julia’s fingernails or toenails or put makeup on her. I have never done her hair and then paraded her in front of the mirror to tell her how beautiful she looks. As I do her hair I will say something like, “now this will keep your hair out of your face”, or “isn’t this a pretty barrette”? The same is true with her clothes. I love to dress her up in fun and adorable clothes, but that is exactly how I put it. “Look at this beautiful dress”, or “aren’t these fun pants”? It is extremely important to me that Julia not get caught up in thinking she has to do anything but improve who she is as a person, her character, in order to improve herself. I don’t want her to get caught up in what the world has to say about beauty and then deal with the ramifications of that her whole life like so many women these days do. I am not a crazy mom about this. I know the day will come when she asks to get her ears pierced, paint her nails, and wear make-up. I think making a big stink about banning these things can be just as harmful as making a big deal out of beauty. I just want those to be decisions she makes for herself and then when that time comes I will reinforce things like, “Wow, aren’t those earrings pretty”, or “Those pants are great”, or “What a nice shade of nail polish”, verses, “Wow, those earrings make you look beautiful”, or “Those pants make you look so skinny”. I do think Julia is beautiful, and if she asks I will tell her so. I just don’t want her to think any true value comes from anything other than her character and her relationship with Christ. If Julia grows up to not be the world’s standard of stunning beauty, she will not cease to be any less important or beautiful to me as long as she is the person God has created her to be. Hopefully that makes sense.
-HATES to help out around the house unless it is something fun like squirting Windex while Julia wipes the windows or vacuuming for a minute or two.
-still adores Mayo and Jelly sandwiches, though sometimes switches out honey for the jelly now days.
-We were driving through the Sam’s parking lot on New Year’s Eve, and Evan exclaimed, “That guy isn’t holding anyone’s hand”. I thought he was just making the connection to the fact that he HAS to hold my hand in the parking lot. I looked over at the person he was talking about and it was this big, tall muscular black guy who looked like he could take out your average NFL football team. I said, “Buddy, that guy is just old enough to not have to hold anyone’s hand anymore.” There was a long pause, and then he said, “But he could hold his mommy’s hand if he wanted to, right”? I reassured him that he could always hold my hand if he wants to. Of course, the day will come when he is too cool to hold my hand, but I was touched that he still feels safe and cared for instead of resentful for not being treated like the big boy he thinks he is.
-We have finally decided to begin homeschooling him in Kindargarten in the fall. He won’t be 5 until the end of October, but he is so eager to learn and loves any time I will invest in teaching him to read or do math or science that we thought we would at least give it a go. The worst that could happen is it turns out he is not ready and we put it off for the following year when he should be going anyway.
Welcome to the 9th Ward.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast home Stephen helped to rebuild on two missions trip this year.
Julia’s beautiful Christmas dress.
Our first gingerbread house. . .
A Merry Christmas noise maker.
A Merry Christmas remote control Hovercraft (that won’t get destroyed when it makes a bee-line straight for the creek).
The traditional Christmas pinata head bashing, thanks to Grandpa Ringsmuth.
Eating it and showing it off was actually tied for first with Julia.
The following 4 pictures were taken in our back yard today, January 7th, 2008.
You’ve gotta love Atlanta winters.
They spent an hour together just staring at this lava lamp in the dark tonight.