Monday, December 28, 2009

A Bunch of Christmas Photos

A family photo from the Christmas Eve Service.

Christmas morning!Ella wasn't in as good of a mood when she first woke up.She quickly perked up when she saw her new Curious George.We gave the girls each a recliner. They enjoy snuggling up into them.But the favorite gift, I do believe was the train table.Yesterday was our 6th anniversary. Edwin surprised me with a 6-space photo frame, 6 carnations, 6 candles, 6 candy bars, 6 oz. of lotion, and 6 pairs of socks. Isn't he a cutie?

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Beautiful Girls, Before Their Beauty was Temporarily Marred

My girls have been struggling to channel their natural beauty since they began struggling with pink eye (Ella) and some random rash (DeLaynie). Both are on the mend. Until they return to their full gorgeosity (I know it's not a word. No need for a dictionary. :), I'm going to give you a few pics from before their respective illnesses struck them down.

Ella loves to snuggle with her b.f.f. Suzu.

In an effort to make sure that ther are pictures of me in the collection, I'm always taking pictures of myself with the kids. Here are two of them.

I think I'll leave the final thoughts to my wreath, and simply say, "Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Great Snowman Debate

On Sunday night, after the girls were in bed, Edwin and I embraced our role of "those crazy southerners" in our neighborhood. At 9 p.m. we headed out into the snowy wilderness of our yard (or something like that). First we had the obligatory snowball fight. When I got tired of Edwin's overzealous beatings, I decided to build a snowman.

This quickly resulted in creative differences. I thought that the best short-term method for decoration was food coloring. Edwin was leaning toward sticks. Since Edwin chickened out about two minutes into the actual building procedure (something about his hands being cold, blah, blah) I decided that it was my right to decorate the snowman that I built the way that I wanted to. So I did.

Edwin became jealous of my artistry a few seconds after seeing it, and decided to build what he referred to as a "snow alien", decorated with sticks, of course.

So... maybe neither of them are going to win any awards, but the debate continues as to which is better. I'm not going to ask for opinions, but if you wish to volunteer any, please feel free (as long as they support my design). I will grant you that Edwin's is creative, but it should receive some serious reductions for creepy, if you ask me. But you didn't. So never mind.

Edwin and I had a good time, even if we couldn't agree on snow-building methodology.

We enjoyed our miniature wonderland for a few minutes before heading into our nice, heated home. All-in-all, a good time for all... except for the kids who were stuck in bed, obviously.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shape Ups vs. Easy Tones

I am asking for a pair of athletic shoes that are supposed to burn more calories and engage normally under-used muscles as a Christmas present. I have a pair of Fit Flops that I love, but it's just too cold for me to wear flip flops 365 in North Country. I'm debating between Skecher's Shape Ups and Reebok Easy Tones. I have to admit, I'm leaning toward Shape Ups because they don't feel the need to show a naked woman's back in their ads. (I appreciate that, especially when that commercial is showing on ESPN. I mean, come on!) But I wouldn't mind actually knowing which brand works better. I'm closing in on the time that I need to make a decision.

Do we have any owners? Can anyone tell a difference? Anyone have a preference?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For Those of You Who Don't Know...

It takes about 20 minutes to turn a child's state of dress from this...

to this...

so she can do this.

It takes about the same amount of time to shovel the drive yourself, but we're looking to the future.

Welcome to winter!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Promised Lottie Moon Post

What is Lottie Moon? Well, she was a great missionary who exemplified the self-sacrificing attitude that enables missionaries to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now the SBC has given the annual missions offering her name. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is what enables IMB (formerly, The International Mission Board) to send missionaries to spread the Gospel. If you aren't a Southern Baptist, but you are a Christian who understands your personal responsibility to assist in the sending of missionaries, let me assure you that there are dozens of sending agencies that are either associated with other denominations or are interdenominational. You can definitely find one to support.

Last year, IMB didn't receive enough money to do what they do. They couldn't send qualified missionaries to tell people about Jesus. Now, I'm not arguing against God's sovereignty, but we are responsible for how we spend our money. He will reach people without our money, but we will give an account of what we did with the resources He has allowed us to borrow. (The lazy servant couldn't use the success of the other two as an excuse. [Matt. 25:14-30]) We will stand before God and give explanation for how we have used the resources that He gave us. One day, we will have to explain that we traded the salvation of others for the look on our children's faces on Christmas morning.

The national average for Lottie Moon giving was $2 per Southern Baptist church member. That's nothing short of sin.

My kids will wake up to find gifts on Christmas morning, but we're trying to implement a few things to keep our self-serving spending under control and up the amount we give to missions. Here are a few ideas of how you can make giving a family affair.

  • Have a family discussion, and choose to cut something. It may be a tradition, like a lot of lights. ("We think that it would be better for us to shine as a light in the darkness by spending the money we would spend on electricity on missions.") Or, it may be a gift. Make a conscious decision to sacrifice something for the sake of telling people about Jesus.
  • Top your shopping list with Lottie Moon giving. Write down how much you're giving to missions, and keep a tab of how much you're spending on gifts, decorations, and other Christmas celebrations. Keep your giving in perspective to what you're spending on material possessions, and it won't seem like that much.
  • Include a check in your children's (grand children's, or nieces' and nephews') stockings, and leave them with a suggestion that they give it to Lottie Moon. Then leave the decision to them. Remind them what a privilege it is that God allows us to join Him and His servants in reaching the world. That's huge! Our prayers and our giving help Jesus bring salvation to people we will never meet! That is so much cooler than additional stuff.
  • Remember the cross. It seems like a big sacrifice, doesn't it? We want our children to have everything they need and want. We want to hold onto our traditions. We want our independence, and giving up our financial security is difficult. In light of the cross, though, it doesn't seem like that much. How big is our God? Is He worth sacrifice? Can we trust Him to take care of us when we give? He doesn't owe us anything, but Christians owe Him everything! Jesus left His position of God to come to Earth, and that was the easy part! Remember the cross.

Monday, November 30, 2009

(Almost) Winter-time Play

Today brought snow with it. It was a mere dusting by local standards, but we Alabamians thought that it was completely wonderful. By the time that DeLaynie got home from school, it was already starting to melt, but we got some good playtime in anyway.

Big hug!

Ella enjoyed it just as much as DeLaynie.

Suzu ran circles around Ella, who was still getting used to walking in snow boots.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

For My Mom and Brother...

who wanted pictures. This is all I have for right now. It's a Christmas card reject. I hope this can hold you over, Mom. I'll get some more soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Double-Dip

I know. It's been a while since I posted. I just haven't had much to say. Thanksgiving was nice. Our family joined another family in celebrating the day. Later, we were able to get the Christmas tree up, and DeLaynie loved the experience. Ella loved un-doing what DeLaynie had done. (*Sigh... Little sisters.)

For those of you who are unaware, yesterday was the second holiday of the week. No, I'm not referring to any lame shopping day. I'm talking about the Iron Bowl.

(Remedial IB for those who are un-educated in Alabamian football celebrations: Every year Alabama plays their arch nemesis, Auburn. Neither team is (morally) good. Neither team is evil. But you would never know that. For Alabamians, it is a moral conflict, even bordering on idolatry for some. Silly? Sure, if you let it get out of hand. But if you keep it in perspective, it's one of the most enjoyable experiences of the Alabama football season.)

Allow me to say this: Auburn rocked my world the first quarter. I was speechless, which is saying something. Alabama barely pulled out a "W," but they did. Our QB, Greg McElroy stepped up to the plate for the last offensive drive Alabama played, which is now being referred to as "The Drive". (Creative, huh?) It came down to the very last play of the game, making it the most stressful and powerful game of the season.

Next week is the mega-game. It's the SEC Championship (I would add a "baby!" here, but I just can't bring myself to do it). I'm not a football genius, but I love to watch those boys play. There is a very good chance that the winner will go to the BCS Championship game (that's the biggest game of the year, like The World Series in college football). After yesterday, I can honestly say that I have no idea what that game will look like, but I know we're going to find out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cookie Making

After Halloween, WalMart had their fall cookie cutters on sale, so I bought a set. Last night, we finally got around to pulling them out and baking some cookies.

DeLaynie was very excited about flattening out the dough and pressing shapes.

Ella was very excited about touching the dough to her nose and smashing her hands into it violently.

I made frosting in various colors, but it was almost bedtime by the time the cookies were cool enough to frost them. The girls were a little too anxious to eat the heads off the turkey shaped ones to care about the frosting element.

This is the only semi-decorated cookie, and I'm the one who decorated it.

This is the most dramatic result of the cookie making process, a dirty kitchen. The biggest result is the fact that all four of us sat down and made something together, giggled at the headless turkeys, and had a good time making a big mess.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference

Today was our first ever parent-teacher conference. We've had more than our fair share of FSP (family service plan) meetings and IEP (individualized education plan) meetings, which dulled the excitement a tad. DeLaynie has been attending school since September, and we have definitely seen substantial progress. We still wanted to hear from her teachers about how she is doing.

Their educational assessment was similar to our own. (Continuing to progress, but needing some work in language comprehension.) What I enjoyed hearing, though, is that DeLaynie is a happy kid. Her teachers say that she gets excited about everything that they ask her to do. Sure, we knew that, but it's nice to hear from someone else. She is quite the bubbly little girl!

We also received her school pictures. I wish that I could show it to you, but that would be illegal. Suffice to say, I think we'll have to protect her from a career as a child model. (She needs to concentrate on other things, like snuggling with Mommy.) Seriously, even I was surprised at how beautiful my little girl's picture was.

DeLaynie is always surprising us. Last night she asked for marshmallows. I don't know what she would do with them if she had them, but she wanted some, for whatever reason. Edwin told her that he was sorry, but he didn't have any. Her response? "It's okay, Daddy. I forgive you." We're not really sure where she got the "I forgive you," part. We don't tell her to say it because it would be meaningless, or even dishonest, if she isn't actually forgiving someone. The teachers said that they've never taught her that phrase, either. Apparently, she just picked it up from when she gets in trouble, apologizes, and receives forgiveness. No, we can't get her to say her full name, but she understands forgiveness. Sounds pretty good to me.

I have a feeling that DeLaynie's life will be full of surprises.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Parenting

Christmas is looming, which means decisions. As the girls understand more and more, I have to step up my protective barriers against materialism, and other earthly evils. I have a hard time with this. I found Halloween season absolutely exhausting. I was constantly trying to keep an eye on what the girls were watching on t.v. because at any given moment something evil could pop up under the guise of "nice" ("good witches" and "nice ghosts," etc.). I don't want to keep the girls so separate from the world that they can't function in it, but I would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to priorities at Christmastime.

I haven't always had a problem with Santa. Until last year, I was perfectly fine with his presence. Then I had a sudden realization that children aren't capable of understanding that eternal salvation is more exciting than a Barbie doll. They shouldn't be expected to prioritize the Sovereign God taking human form over a fat guy who brings them lots of cool stuff. (I wrote my thoughts on this subject extensively in this post from last year.) It takes parenting to keep them from this all too common pitfall, and the challenge is daunting.

Like most things, it's all about finding the proper balance. I definitely want the girls to respect the decisions of other parents (and I DO NOT think it's wrong to incorporate Santa Clause into Christmas celebrations). I want to be careful about how I handle this. It isn't sinful to play a nice game of pretend (though lying is), but I prefer to keep any distractions that could steal attention and affection from Jesus out of the way.

So, here I am, mentally planning how we will celebrate, wondering how to direct the thoughts of a toddler and a preschooler to Christ. I have a little time, which is good because an infinite God being born in the finite form of an infant is a BIG DEAL, which warrants plenty of thought.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This Blog's For You!

We have some friends who currently live in a rural area. Okay, rural doesn't cut it. They sleep in hammocks half the time. They live in the jungle of a (very!) foreign country (I bet you didn't know there were degrees of foreign-ness). For whatever reason, their internet can only visit three websites, and this is one of them.

The weight of this providential occurrence is beginning to set in. Can I stand up to the task? I don't know. It may be a greater calling than I can handle. Only time will tell.

I wish that I had some incredibly riveting information to share. In all actuality, today was made up almost entirely of a trip to WalMart (where I forgot two very important things, of course), an H1N1 shot clinic (which was unpleasant, but survivable), and crocheting.

This is what I was working on. It's an alien, or so the pattern says. I think it's really more of a friendly blob. But a charming friendly blob. I made it to send to a friend of DeLaynie's in Alabama. She and DeLaynie have a pen-pal thing going on. She sent DeLaynie several beautiful paintings, one of which I framed and hung on DeLaynie's wall. Her birthday was yesterday, and I wanted to make her something. Since she lives in Alabama, a hat wouldn't be all that handy, so I decided to try my hand at a toy. My girls really like it, so I'm hoping De's friend will, too.

So I'm to the point of talking about the weather... (I'm so sorry dear, jungle-dwelling friends.) It snowed last week. DeLaynie loved it. It was just a tiny dusting, but it was lovely. The grass and leaves that poked through had a lacy kind of effect to my southern eyes. Today, on the other hand, it was in the 60's. It was a perfect day, but I prefer snow to perfection. I was, however, happy for the locals who are already dreading the coming freezer burn.

I leave you now with a picture of Ella and Suzu. I saw them chilling on the couch the other morning and deemed it photo-worthy. I hope you agree.

Well, that one was for you (you know who you are). We're thinking about you, and are happy to hear from you. May the jungle treat you well, and none of the mosquitoes get you, night or day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Edwin performed a wedding a couple of weeks ago , and the lovely couple gave him an authentic Braves away game jersey. (And, yes. We are still in mourning over the World Series. Please don't bring it up.) Edwin was extremely proud and excited. He kept showing everyone in the family, even the dog, his new favorite shirt.

He made such a big deal about it, in fact, that DeLaynie thought that he was playing dress up. She got excited and said, "Come on Dad! I dress up!" They went upstairs and picked out some things for her to wear.

She's pretty proud of her new look, isn't she? She even managed to walk across the room in Daddy's shoes. It took a while, but she did it.

In Ella news, she has reached a new point in her development. She now has more than enough hair to create a serious case of bedhead. We are very proud, of course.

Suzu, our puppy, isn't really doing anything, except being adorable. Ella actually thinks her name is "So Cute!" because DeLaynie said it so much when we first brought her home.

Life is pretty good here in our little village. Cool weather has begun. I think that I may be the only one here who is excited about it, though. Well, DeLaynie likes it. She loves saying, "Ooooo. It's so cold. Brrrrrr!" And it isn't even winter yet. Thanks to the generosity of friends in Alabama and here in New York, we are pretty well-prepared for the coming cold. We are so grateful for the kindness God's people have shown us!