Saturday, January 31, 2009

Toy Story Mania!

DeLaynie has recently fallen head-over-heals for Toy Story. She never has cared for movies geared toward girls as much as those intended more for boys. I'm kind of glad. All of the girlier movies tend to send negative messages. ("Love is about how a kiss makes you feel." "If you rebel against your parents, you can find true happiness." "Mice are misunderstood. All they really need is for someone to sing songs to them and make them little outfits.") She does enjoy The Little Mermaid. It was my favorite movie growing up, so I support her decision.

Whenever I give her a choice about which movie to watch, she always goes for Toy Story. This made me very, very happy at first. It's much better than most of the dvd's she wants to watch. It doesn't have annoying music, and the comedy is actually humorous. I enjoy it. Now I'm a little concerned that I may get tired of it. I've forced her to watch other movies, which she always enjoys, but if she sees the Toy Story box, it's over. Just give it up. That's what we're watching.

She's almost memorized "You've Got a Friend in Me," and it's awfully cute to hear her try to sing it. She gets very excited when she knows that Slinky (the dog) or Rex (the dinosaur) are about to come on. When Woodie gets knocked off the bed, she gets a look of concern on her face and says, "Ohhhh no!" She loves it when Rex and Potato Head pop up out of the box and spit out the packing peanuts. Well, even if I do get tired of the movie itself, I don't think that I'll ever get tired of watching her watch it. I'm pretty sure that we'll find out if I can get tired of it or not.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Things I Saw At Chic-Fil-A

Last night was my not-so-regular night out. When we were still in Hodgenville, this night out had become a weekly occurrence. It's amazing how much cuter the kids are when you come back to them after a few hours away. I had dinner with my mom because she was already in Montgomery. After that I meandered around Kohl's for an extended period of time, eventually buying a $24 pair of sunglasses, but paying a mere $2.60 (someone put the wrong sticker on them. They were supposed to be $7.80. The lady was nice enough to give them to me for the advertised price.)

Then I went to Chic-Fil-A's drive through, got a brownie-a-la-mode and water (I'm obviously quite health conscious ;), and put the ol' Corolla in park for a few minutes so I could devour my brownie and ice cream. While in the drive-through, I was behind what appeared to be a church van, though there was no name on it that I could see. This thing was equipped with seven bumper stickers, six of which were Pro-Life slogans. The other was odd. It was yellow with red letters and hearts. The inscription was "Chastity is for Lovers". I told Edwin about this, and neither of us could quite understand the point. Jesus-lovers? Unmarried lovers? There are lots of reasons that true love waits, but that bumper sticker sure isn't one of them.

As I was scarfing down the brownie, I saw the electronic billboard where the new babies from Jackson Hospital are announced. One of them was named Late'hia. I sat there for a few minutes, trying to figure out the proper pronunciation. I don't think I ever quite hit on it. There was a little boy whose parents were extremely creative with his hospital picture. He was wearing an Alabama jersey, "holding" a football in the QB position (his right arm was tucked behind his head as if he were about to throw it), and his left hand was fashioned to look as if he were giving the peace sign. I could just imagine the pride bursting from that exhausted mother's face when she saw how hard her husband had worked to ensure a high-quality representation of their baby. (That may not be the family situation at all, but I'm going with the most traditional family organization since I don't know.) It was a cute picture.

After an enjoyable night of doing nothing, and worrying about no one as I did it, I went to get some groceries and came home. Thanks, Edwin, for giving me some time. I don't know how I could live this life without you by my side. (Let's not try to find out.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Special Edition: Thankful Thursday

Many Christian bloggers have a weekly column called "Thankful Thursday," most notably, Rachel. I stay away from weekly columns due to the fact that I have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is. Today just so happens to be Thursday, though, and it just so happens that there is something for which I am especially grateful. Therefore, I hereby proclaim today "Thankful Thursday."

So what is it that I am so grateful for in this very special edition of Year 24? It might sound a little odd to you, but I am grateful that our God is not a god of checklists. It comes from the fact that I've been thinking about DeLaynie and her development quite a bit lately. She isn't doing poorly, in fact, she didn't even qualify for Alabama's early intervention program (because she is doing so well). I'm not really sure why it's been on my mind so much lately, but it has.

I've tried to make the delay disappear, I've tried explaining how her mind works, and I've tried listing her strengths out of a desire to make her weaknesses go away. This is a natural way of doing things, but why would I do things naturally when I have a supernatural relationship with the King of Kings?

I'm grateful that God isn't sitting on His throne comparing one child to another, and I'm grateful that I don't have to either. God's design for a child is not a reflection on the quality of the mother, but on the greatness of our God. I don't know what's ahead for DeLaynie, but I have an inclination to believe that there are a couple of Goliaths that her way of hearing and feeling things are going to enable her to slay with Christ's strength. I don't want to miss that because I'm too busy worrying about her normality.

I admit that I long to have a full, meaningful conversation with my daughter, but when that day comes, I look forward to hearing about the way things seem to her. I can hardly wait to understand her better, but I want to understand her for who she is. This precious one has so much to offer the world that I can't even begin to comprehend it. I'm grateful that there is no such thing as a mistake in God's design. I'm grateful that mommy's little masterpiece is in the hands of the Great Artist. I may not always understand His perspective, but I will one day. On that day, the weaknesses of both of my children will be revealed in the light of His grace.

There's one more thing that I'm especially grateful for today. I'm grateful that this parenting gig isn't left up to us alone. Edwin and I have the sheer joy of teaching the girls about a mighty Warrior who is fighting on the side of those who love Him. At the end of the days when it seems too hard, we can sit in the lap of the Father of all Comfort. When I'm concerned for the health of my children, I can take it to the Great Physician. The greatest goal that we have as parents is to guide them to the Truth that can bring them the joy of knowing their Creator with the intimacy that is available to His children. I'm grateful for a husband who sees this goal as a family affair. I'm grateful for this life, for this responsibility, for the road that lay ahead. I'm grateful that God is ahead of me every step of the way. And above all, I am grateful that whatever happens, He will be glorified.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Passport Photos: Take 1

As you can imagine, getting small children to take decent passport pictures is a difficult task. They are incredibly specific about how the picture should looks. The girls were very, very good, though. They had great attitudes. The people taking the pictures (at a drug store, maybe not the best situation since it is so very, very difficult) were incredibly kind and patient, but they still didn't turn out right. The white screen that is used as a background is about four feet off the ground, so DeLaynie had to sit on Edwin's shoulders, and we held Ella up cheerleader style. I don't have a scanner, so I took a picture of the pictures. It doesn't make for the highest quality, but it makes the point adequately enough.

There is a rule that the picture can't be overexposed, and the brightness of the flash created a similar affect on DeLaynie. It appears that she has stop-the-traffic red lips. Ella has a pretty nice picture, but it is too far off. It looks like we'll have to try it again. I had a feeling this was going to take a couple of attempts.

I went ahead and added a couple of pictures of how the girls actually look. It's mostly for the purpose of showing off my babies. I especially enjoy the picture of Ella.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


So I started getting more SPAM on my Juno email account. I have one account that I set aside specifically for giving out to people that I'm pretty sure will sale my email address. Then I have two others. No, make that three others. One I don't give out to anyone unless they are personal friends, but it's still pretty new, and most of my friends don't have it. It's a lonely address. There are two others that I use in moderate security situations. I'm not sure why I have such an excessive number of addresses. I think I just like seeing things related to me with @ and dot something after it. It makes me feel important. It's like I'm my own corporation.

Anyway, so I've had a sudden influx of SPAM. I'm not sure who sends it out, but they are completely un-picky about the recipients. First, I keep receiving dating service messages. Obviously, that's not needed. I'm thoroughly married. Secondly, the dating services seem to be pretty specialized. The other day I got one "Singles Over 50 Meet". Today was "Black People Meet". I love meeting people of both groups, but I don't think we're talking about Bible Study meetings here. I'm simply not their target niche.

That isn't nearly as annoying, though, as the stuff I'm constantly getting from the GOP. I emailed them once to let them know that I found their "surveys" to be a complete waste of money. I use quotation marks with the greatest of care. They called them surveys, but they were actually statistic generators. All of the questions were meant to get specific answers. I found this to be a terrible waste of resources. Obviously, it wasn't all that helpful in the presidential campaign, either. Ever since I emailed in my complaint, I have been made aware of every race involving a republican in the United States. I've also been emailed information about every mistake, personal or professional, made by a democrat. As much I love to read about how the governor of Massachusetts (who is referred to as "His Excellency," no matter who it is) forgot to return a library book in the seventh grade, I figure that there have to be bigger fish to fry.

I'm sure that I could be removed from all the lists, but nothing dirty has arrived yet. Once that happens, I'll attack the problem. For now, I'm just going to allow these people to send me ads that will never be used. I have to admit that they have piqued my curiosity about the number and specificity of dating services. I'm waiting for the day to come when I receive an invitation to "Eastern European Scientologists Meet".

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Space Trilogy (and semi-related ranting)

I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. I just started the third book, That Hideous Strength, which is commonly considered the best. It easily has the coolest title. The first book was good, and the second was excellent. I'm pretty excited about getting into the meat of the third.

I appreciate Travis Abraham allowing me to borrow his set. I'm always nervous about borrowing books. I'm afraid of ruining them. I think that it would be worth it to buy Travis a new set if that happens. I have similar feelings about caravaning. I don't like to lead cars because I'm afraid of losing them or driving poorly with someone watching closely, and I don't like to follow cars because I'm afraid of going too slowly or getting stuck at a red light. There's a lot of fear of failure involved.

Anyway, Lewis uses fantasy to explore the possibilities of different outcomes, such as if the Fall in the Garden of Eden had been averted. He tells the stories in such a way that they aren't beyond comprehension, and they are easy to get pulled into. There are some lines that stick with you, such as when the Eve-like character in the second book realizes that she has always had free will. She hadn't even realized it because she never wanted anything other than what God had wanted from her. There seemed to be no choice, simply because the answers were so obvious.

I enjoy a good "what if...?" scenario, which is the main reason I so enjoyed Sliders, at least for the first couple of seasons. Sliders, for those of you who aren't up to speed on weird mid-90's television, was a fantasy show where the character "slid" from universe to universe, each one with a different history. The interesting part of the show was to see how things could be totally different due to one change in history. If you have Netflix, you can watch it online for free. Don't waste your time on the third, fourth, or fifth seasons.

Well, if you are looking for fiction that may just prove to have some value, I recommend the Space Trilogy. It's hard to go wrong with C.S. Lewis. I like his work so much that I almost wanted to name Ella (had she been a boy) after him. Then I discovered why he shortened his name to initials. Why would anyone name their child Clive Staples? That has to cause emotional trauma.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I'm So Lost!

I didn't know that Lost premiered this week! I have never felt so outside of the human race than I did when Edwin walked into our bedroom and said, "I think Lost premiered this week." That's like not realizing that it was an election year!

We have no broadcast t.v. We have a dvd player and a video game console, but no actual television. I guess that it's a good warm-up for going overseas, but it makes me feel out of the loop to not be aware of such things. There have been countless news stories that I had no idea about because we are lacking in the media department. We go to Mom and Dad's to watch 24 on Mondays. That's about as ideal of a situation as we're going to get since it's not like we could keep up with it without some form of childcare anyway.

Obviously, we have internet, and are therefore able to watch the missed t.v. shows and find the news stories that we crave. (We watched Lost today.) That requires effort that I don't always care to spend on such activities, though. Ella always wants to pull the keys out of the keyboard, so it's close to impossible to do either while she's awake. Her nap time is already full of blogging.

Being locked up in this house with a sick child (who is feeling much better, by the way) has made me feel thoroughly secluded from society. Maybe I'll just have to adjust to life on the little Attaway island.

Friday, January 23, 2009

An Atheist's Guide to Christian Evangelism

David Kizziah told Edwin about this video. Eddie and I watched it, and were pretty amazed. The guy talking is Penn, of Penn and Teller. He is a devout atheist. Check it out; it's incredible!

Let's look at what we learned:
  • Eye contact matters- it sends the message that we aren't ashamed of what we're saying, and that we genuinely care about the person to whom we are speaking.
  • We don't have to come off as lunatics- we're all afraid of looking crazy, but it isn't necassary.
  • Caring about the person is square 1- the best place to start is by knowing what the person you're talking to cares about. This guy started by complimenting Penn's work. That meant something to him because it's a priority to him. I've never believed that, "Hell is real, and it's where you're going!" was the best starting point for evangelism. Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't convey a message of love or concern, just judgement.
  • There's no such thing as a lost cause- Penn has a video series discussing the Bible as, well, something I can't say. He's vehemently against the things of God. But you know what, he saw something there for a second that he couldn't deny. It was enough to cause him to create a video and show the world. That Bible is probably sitting somewhere in His house right now. He may never open it, or he might. Fifteen years from now, fifty years from now, he may open that precious book and discover the very power of God. I've heard of it happening before. Let's pray for him. He could end up being the greatest theologian or evangelist of our time. He may not, but there's no good reason to not pray. Pray for the other people in our world who appear to be "lost causes". I don't think God recognizes that category, and I'm pretty sure that we shouldn't either.
  • It's worth it, folks!- I find one thing that he says extraordinary. "How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them?" That's a great question. We are more concerned with how we look and having friends than we are about the people all around us who are dying and going to Hell. We are more concerned with our comfort than their eternal destiny. How can we then say that the love of a God who gave His very Son for our salvation dwells within us? We come into contact with people everyday who haven't experienced love like we know it. We need to share that. We need to speak up, in love and kindness. It's easy to stand on a street corner and yell out phrases of eternal judgement. It takes guts to walk up to someone and bare your soul to them, forgetting your pride, remembering that there was a time when you were an enemy of God, just as they are now. It's by grace that we can be different. How cruel do we have to be to refuse to share it?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Little Miss Sympathy

DeLaynie has recently gotten into a very nurturing phase. I've mentioned that she loves babies, dolls, and teddy bears. She likes to rock them in her arms, put them to bed, and of course kiss them. A new devlopment in this area is that she is very protective of Ella.

Nick was holding Ella up in the air when DeLaynie walked into the room. DeLaynie became upset and yelled, "No! Stop that. Get her down!" Nick quickly handed Ella off to Edwin in order to placate DeLaynie's desire for safety. DeLaynie looked at Edwin very seriously and said, "Be careful." DeLaynie likes that phrase, "Be careful," probably because she has heard it a thousand times a day ever since Ella was born.

Yesterday I put on a video for children with language delays and babies Ella's age whose parents simply want their children to be geniuses. It's incredibly boring, but DeLaynie and Ella both enjoy it immensely. Plus, I don't feel guilty for letting them watch it since it is, after all, therapeutic. One of the words covered on this video is "cry." The way that the video works is that they show the word, say it out loud, and show the action, all simultaneously. This meant that crying was represented by a bunch crying children. I don't know who thought that was a good idea, but it upset DeLaynie immensely. We're talking real tears, sobbing, and running from the room. I comforted her, but even after the next word, "wave," came up, she was still visibly upset.

I'm not sure what brought on this sudden wave of maternal instincts, but it does make for some adorable scenarios. I'm not sure what it is, but there is nothing quite like watching a two year-old cradle her doll, sing to it softly, and kiss its plastic face. I'll just have to make a point of enjoying such moments between the tantrums that are also typical of DeLaynie's stage of development, though not nearly as precious.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What. A. Day.

Yesterday was an interesting day. It began at 3:30... a.m! DeLaynie came into our room, sobbing because she was soaked from head to toe. Apparently her diaper experienced a wardrobe malfunction. Edwin and I are both on prescription cough medicine, but it affects us differently. He takes it and feels normal. I take it and go into a colma. I'm unconscious, dead to the world. In other words, poor Edwin was left to deal with DeLaynie, who eventually woke up Ella.

I wasn't sure if DeLaynie could even go to school off of 6 hours of sleep that ended 5 1/2 hours before school even began, but she made it through her day just fine. Then she came home, and I let her stay up for about an hour before putting her to bed. Ella wasn't quite normal (see below), so I was trying to deal with her. When I went to the kitchen to make her a bottle, I heard DeLaynie in our room. Then I heard a piece of metal slide on the door.

She locked it. From the inside. With one of the bar locks that can't be unscrewed from the outside. And the hinges were on the inside. We had very few options. Edwin was on his way home from a lunch in the middle of nowhere (which is between Tallassee and Tuscaloosa), so I called my dad. He was in the woods, walking and probably praying, but he came over, and called Mom who'd taken a half-day off for a dentist appointment. She got there before Dad.

Poor DeLaynie was in a frenzy. None of us had even noticed where on the door the lock was, so we were shooting in the dark. Mom and Dad decided that the door would have to be removed... by force. I went outside and tried to seduce DeLaynie to the window where she wouldn't be near the door when it swung open. She wouldn't bite. The curtains were closed, so she couldn't even see me. Mom pried and kicked and made great head-way in dislodging the door before Dad got there. The noise was traumatizing DeLaynie. Ella was annoyed that both grandparents were there, but they wouldn't hold her. DeLaynie decided to lay down on the floor, which is about 18 inches below the bottom of the door because of a stair. This gave Dad the opportunity he needed to bust it in. The door finally opened, and DeLaynie ran out, screaming, "Yippee!" in response to Dad announcing her freedom. I tried to explain that these kinds of things happen when we disobey Mommy. (She was supposed to be laying down for a nap.)

Yesterday I mentioned how I caved in the midst of inner turmoil about giving Ella a steroid prescribed to her. I will freely admit that the reason is fear. I'm afraid of the bronchitis developing into something like pneumonia, and having only myself to thank for it. I don't typically like to make decisions from fear, but this is a logical fear, so it's kind of like making a logical decision, right?

I don't know. The inner turmoil continues over the decision. The poor baby turned into the Energizer Bunny. She kept crawling at a pace equivalent to a sprint, up the hall, then back down. I might be reading into it, but she seemed miserable through the whole night, as if she desperately wanted to stop, but couldn't. She was ravenously hungry all day, gulping down at least ten bottles of 6 ounces each. She didn't sleep well either. I think that it was partially due to being hungry and partially due to the sudden bursts of undeniable energy. There's only one term for the way she was acting: high. Maybe it's all of the educational videos I've seen in my life about how steroids kill people, but I'm having a hard time gulping this one down. I think I'll head over to WebMD and click around to see what they have to say about it.

Yesterday wasn't all trauma and struggling with little people. Edwin found out that he got a job! He started orientation today. He didn't know which job, exactly, as he applied for a few different ones with the same organization. I suppose that I'll find out when he gets home, not that we know when that'll be.

Ah, parenthood. It's quite an adventure.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Broke Down

I took Ella to the doctor. She'd had a cold for a week. I wish that I'd waited one more day and taken her to the doctor I see here in town, but we thought that it was important to go ahead and get some meds into her system.

I hate going to the doctor. I have no problem in going myself. It's taking the kids that irks me. Not only is the experience a generally miserable one, they always seem to come out sicker than when they went in. I don't know where the cycle starts and ends, but it seems like there are kids who are always at the doctor, and they seem to get sick more and stay sick longer. The easiest thing to believe is that they go to the doctor because they're sick, but I'm not sure that it doesn't work the other way around. Maybe they get sick because they go to the doctor and are always on antibiotics. I don't know. I just feel like it's a theory worth the try.

Well, I finally just went. I hardly even saw the doctor. We mostly dealt with a med student, who was very nice, but I didn't get much information from her. It wasn't until I had the meds in my hands that I realized that they had given her a steroid. Ella's ten months old, so this was scary to me. I don't even like giving them antibiotics. Steroids keep them awake, and they tend to be irritable and eat more. (B.Wal referred to a steroid her son was on as "Satan Medicine".) The very last thing that Ella needs is to eat more. Still, the med student, who was very nice, mentioned in passing that she has bronchitis, so I felt like it was probably necessary to give her the steroid.

The good news is that they did give her something to actually make her feel better. Her nose is raw from all of the wiping, and they took everything off the market that could actually fix it because some people simply refused to follow directions. (I'm most definitely not anti-medication.) It's like being in elementary school, when no one gets to have a cookie because a few of the kids thought it would be fun to crush them into the carpet. Some people just have to ruin it for everybody.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Life Aquatic

Swiper. I decided that this one was Swiper because he has a dot on his head, and I think that his namesake on Dora the Explorer does as well.

Diego. He may seem grumpy, but he's quite care-free.

I mentioned in an earlier post that we got DeLaynie and Ella fish for Christmas. Obviously, DeLaynie is only mildly interested in them at this point, and Ella ignores their existence altogether. DeLaynie does enjoy counting them every few days, just to make sure that they're both still there, I suppose. She counts them at least fifteen times ("1,2... 1,2... 1,2."). Since there are only two of them, it takes her that many times to be satisfied. She also likes to watch me feed them. I don't let her do it because I know that she'd over-feed them, which makes the water get dirty faster. Cleaning the tank is a job that I don't long to do very often.

I have become pretty attached to the little boogers. I look forward to seeing them. They sit next to my coffee maker, so I see them before I do much else. I did clean the tank this weekend, which meant that they had to live in a food storage container that was too dingy to continue working in its original capacity. I was afraid that the water had something in it because they were just sitting there. I used a big enough container that they had room to swim around and "play", but they just sat there. It wasn't until I put them back into their real tank that I realized why they were so depressed. They were lonely. The temporary housing was made out of a soft plastic, and it didn't provide the reflections that they were used to. They missed their reflections. I found this far more adorable than such a scene deserves.

I'm not sure what's going to happen to my little buddies when we leave here. If they actually survive that long, I'm sure that they can find a home in a classroom. I've decided that fish make far better pets than I'd once thought. They don't cry, get the house dirty, or hurt the children on accident. Yep, fish make great pets for people who are burnt-out in the pet department.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

If I Had Only Known

When I was a kid, I thought that bugging my parents would eventually get me what I wanted. As a parent, I realize that the most effective method for getting stuff is to be generally sweet. The last two times DeLaynie and I have gone shopping with my mom, she has been really well behaved. When she is that good, it just makes me want to buy her stuff. I don't generally give in to that desire since she already has so much that we're going to have to get rid of, but the urge is never stronger than when she is is being quiet and adorable.

That's not to say that I never got my way through pure perseverance. I got a dog that way. When I was ten, all I wanted for Christmas was a puppy. I put up posters all over the house, each with a pro-puppy slogan. My parents demanded that it was completely impractical for us to get a dog, but sure enough, Christmas morning found a mutt puppy named Jessie under our tree (not literally; there is no way to get a puppy to stay still under a Christmas tree). The fact of the matter is that I was an unusually persuasive little girl. I'm hoping that such a trait has not been passed down to our next generation.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Good Day

Today was a great day for the Attaway fam. To kick it off, DeLaynie had an evaluation with Alabama's early intervention. She did very, very well. It looks like she may not even qualify for continued therapy. Even if she does, I am very proud of her for all of the progress she has made. School has already helped, I believe. I know that she loves it because this morning she ran to the door and asked, "School?"

Then we got to meet up with B.Wal and her fam. They're in the state visiting family and attending a work-related conference, which worked out well for us. We have missed them greatly. DeLaynie was extremely excited to hear that we were going to see Woodstock. Tonight Mom mentioned his name, and she started running around the house trying to find him. She's got it bad.

To make the day a bit more memorable for B.Wal and her hubby, we made shirts. Each one of us had "I (heart)" followed by the name of the corresponding Wal family member. We were pretty proud of ourselves for such dedication to a joke. I think they got a kick out of it.

Edwin interviewed for a job today as well. We don't know anything yet, but he seemed to think that it went well.

Finally, Mom was kind enough to throw a dinner party and invited the youth minister and his wife, along with their three boys. It was a lot of fun. We got to play a game and everything, thanks to my mom and dad being willing to take care of 5 kiddos. And they did a great job at it, too. The food was fabulous, and the company was splendid. The girls weren't in a great mood, but the evening was none-the-less a fun one.

DeLaynie kept coming over and grabbing the cards from the game we were playing. She was saying, "fish," which we didn't understand at all. Then Edwin realized she picked up on the card game Go Fish. I'm not sure where she got it, but I'm proud of her observation skills.

So it was a good day. Now it's time to try and get some sleep.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Should I Be Worried?

DeLaynie loves kisses. It began, oddly enough, with baby Jesus. If you recall from this post, DeLaynie loved nativity scenes this Christmas. Her favorite part was kissing baby Jesus, and then play acting that the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, and even the goats kissed Him too. I guess that it could be metaphorical of how true love for other people begins with love for Christ. Yeah, we'll go with that.

Anyway, she got a doll for Christmas that she has fallen head-over-heels in love with. The first thing she did was give it a big kiss. Now she's in a kissing frenzy. The good news is that she doesn't kiss just anyone. She kisses all babies, human or plastic. She kisses teddy bears. She asks Edwin and me for kisses all the time. I'm trying to teach her to blow a kiss, but right now it's just kissing the air.

It can't possibly be good for her to go around kissing everything in the middle of cold season. She does have an excellent immune system, but this has to be a bit much. I'm just hoping that this little phase passes before her teen years. Otherwise, I may be forced to homeschool.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything"

I watched the VeggieTales' most recent movie today. Then I watched it with the commentary. Yes, it's true. I'm that big of a fan of Phil Vischer. "Who?" you may ask. Phil is the origninator of VeggieTales. "The guy" who began Big Idea Productions and first created Larry, followed quickly by Bob.

There have been some questions in the Christian community about the value of VeggieTales. Some people say that you can't tell a part of the Bible stories and not the whole thing, completely accurately. I'm not sure about you, but I don't know how DeLaynie could handle the story of King David and Bathsheba as is. Try explaining adultery to a preschooler. I think it makes good sense to present them with a starting point that you can use as they get older. No cartoon, after all, takes the place of parents and church in a child's upbringing. It's merely meant to supplement the education that they receive from their adult influences. There is also the issue of there being no Jesus in VeggieTales. I find this valid, but it is a pretty big question, "What vegetable plays Jesus?" There really isn't a way to play it respectfully. It would be nice if they did something to at least talk about Him, though.

Back to "The Pirates...". As I was watching the commentary (or watching the movie and hearing the commentary), I could tell that my man Phil was pretty annoyed with some of the changes made by Universal. Specifically, a song that was added in a tavern. When I first saw the movie, I was shocked that Phil Vischer would have written it, but concluded that he must have since he was the writer according to the credits. I was relieved to discover that he didn't like it either.

At another point the director (who was apparently the go-between for Universal and Big Idea) said something about "sometimes less is more" in defense of scene that was cut. To which, Phil responded, "and sometimes more is more." This was quickly followed by nervous giggles all around. They couldn't really hide their true feelings about the situation, which is the only reason that I sat through the entire commentary.

All-in-all, it's a good movie, though the Universal fingerprints are embedded through the entirety. If they would have left it alone, I'm sure that it would have been better. Phil made the comment at the end of the commentary, "Most people don't notice that the heroes never defeat the bad guy. An outside power, who is the one who called them into the story to begin with, is the one who really saves the day. That's what makes this movie distinctively Christian." And that is I why I'm a Phil Vischer fan more than a VeggieTales fan.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Theology for Toddlers

Edwin has been diligently adding elements to DeLaynie's bedtime routine for several months. It started with a sentence or two of prayer, then he taught her to say, "Amen!" at the end. When she thinks Daddy is getting long-whinded in his night-time prayer, she'll just skip right to the amen part. It's pretty cute, so Daddy isn't generally offended.

When we moved to Alabama, he started teaching her to acknowledge certain attributes of God's character. This sounds really complicated at first glance, but it is simply getting her to repeat "God is good." He started with "good", then he added a second thing. "God is great." Last night he changed "great" to "wise". His plan is to have her learn several different attributes. I personally can't wait to hear her say, "God is omniscient." Okay, so we'll probably use other terms, like "God knows everything," but it will be a fun day when she can say "omniscient".

There are few things more adorable than hearing your husband and child have such a discussion. It's during these times that I think about the single moms and women who are married to unbelievers. Parenting isn't meant to be done alone, though i know that God provides the grace to those that do. Listening in on conversations like the one last night are a highlight at the end of the day. I'm thankful for little moments like that one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Her Fingers Glided Over the Keyboard...

With such grace that even a ballerina would admire the choreography of her simple words."

Random, I know. I've been reading a new novel. For the first time since Mother's Day, I'm delved into a work of fiction. On Mather's Day I read The Bell Jar. It's an odd way to spend Mother's Day, for sure, to be immersed in the brain of a mentally and emotionally disturbed woman. And yet I enjoyed it, as I did The Catcher in the Rye. I'm not sure what it says about me, but since they're considered classics, I can't imagine that I'm a rare breed among readers. This gives me comfort.

So reading a novel causes me to mentally narrate my life. I'm so used to turning words into images, I end up turning images into words. The movie Dead Poets Society made me want to write poetry, something that I am incapable of. I may could write prose, but not poetry. The concepts of meter are simply beyond me. Iambic pentameter, what? I don't even enjoy reading most poetry, to be honest. I prefer a good novel.

The book that I'm reading is enjoyable, though the author took much more time studying Africa than the Baptist missionaries that serve it. The book (which I am not going to name because I'm afraid that if you read it, it may leave you with a false impression of mission work) tells the story of a missionary family in the Congo during a very temultuous time. The father is incapable of understanding the culture, and he believes that it is necassary to Americanize the Congolese in order to teach them of salvation. He also has a very inappropriate understanding of baptism. He's a horrible father, and a terrible human being in general.

Although I am sure that the story could read like an autobiography of some missionaries, I really wish that the author had studied other missionaries, like Lottie Moon. She died of starvation because she kept giving her food to the local children. Or Jim and Elizabeth Elliot. Or any number of others.

Well, I'm not finished with the book yet. It's harder to read when you have children. Unlike t.v., books require a decent amount of concentration. Since we have no television, we are limited in entertainment avenues, which led me to reading this book. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm glad it was. I like it, even if I do feel like chucking it at the wall at times (I don't act on such feelings, just so you know).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Big Words

I love words. I'm not sure when it happened, exactly, but somewhere along the timeline of my life, I fell head-over-heels in love with language. It's not that I'm particularly fond of the English language. I'll take any country's native tongue, I suppose. I only have this one down so far. The prospect of taking on a completely different vocabulary and set of grammatical rules thrills me. I say that now. We'll see how far that excitement gets me in the learning process.

There is an abundance of words that are left unused, sitting desperately in the dictionary, hoping that someone will come across them when searching for the correct spelling of "spaghetti". There are a few words that I feel are sadly overlooked. They aren't long words, and they are pretty easy to spell, but for whatever reason, America has overlooked them. Here is a list of the unsung heroes of the English language, as I see it (and I am no authority):

  • Placate- to satisfy, as one would a child, not an authority figure.
  • Ardent- passionate; fiery. Usually this word is used in its adverbial form of "ardently".
    ("I'm ardently against the use of chocolate as a means of placating small children.")
  • Monosyllabic- the state of a word having only one syllable. (Cat and dog are monosyllabic words.)
  • Superfluous- unnecessary and unneeded; redundant. ("The politician was superfluous in his choice of words in an attempt to make himself sound smarter than he is.")

In the time of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, the middle-class Russians (as well as the high-class) would speak several languages because they felt that a single language was inadequate for full expression. Most Russians spoke at least French, in addition to Russian. Every once in a while, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky would randomly throw in a word from French to convey their point better. Even with all of the words held in the Russian language, it wasn't enough. Here we have plenty of words in our own language that not even native speakers know.

Of course, it is necessary to take the audience into consideration when choosing words, but the fact of the matter is that the more words we know, the richer our discussions and the deeper we can understand one another. Words are a powerful thing, my readers. Obviously you know that, or you wouldn't be reading this ;)!

Here's wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Friday, January 9, 2009

How You Can Pray For Us

People have asked how they can be praying for us. I figured that I'd go ahead and give a few specifics.

  • Work- We're in no threat of going hungry. We will be okay, even if we never get jobs, but for our own sanity, we would love to get some work. The pay doesn't need to be fabulous, and menial tasks are fine. It's more of an issue of finding part-time work that doesn't require Sundays and allows us to take turns taking care of the girls.
  • Adaptability- We will be moving again in April, June, and eventually to our new home in Nicaragua some time in the fall, or next winter. For young children, this is a lot of change. We'll be changing languages, and they'll be in the care of different people at each stop. I'll be back in full-time mommy mode when we arrive in Nica.
  • Preparation in the hearts of the people we encounter- Edwin and I will be building relationships and presenting the Gospel at every opportunity. Pray that God will be working in the lives of the people we meet, that they will become aware of their sin and that they will desire the grace of our wonderful, forgiving God.
  • Humility- What I am realizing is that pride, or a belief that we are somehow better than the people we will serve, is going to be an enemy to us and our work. If we can learn from the people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, respect their culture, and gain from their wisdom, we will have a much better chance at adapting to their world, parenting our children well in the new culture, and reaching them. We're going into their world, and we are going to have to earn their respect by being respectful of them as they are.

We need your prayers. It is God's choice as to how He will answer. It will be His grace that sustains us in each and every phase of this journey. What a wonderful thing that we get to serve a big God, for whom nothing is impossible!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Deja Vu!

As you probably know by now, I am living in the town where I attended middle and high school. This brings back a lot of memories, some happy, some not so happy.

I decided that today's post would be a light one, so we're going to focus on some of the goofier memories. This isn't hard because last night I had a big kick-back to middle school. I was a Hansonite, a Fanson. Whatever you want to call it, I was a die-hard Hanson fan. Hanson fans are much cooler now days. They aren't the same thing that they were when I was in middle school. I know this because there is a wonderful teenage girl in our church who is a fan. I don't think anyone would debate her coolness.

When I was a nutty, out-of-my-mind, couldn't get enough Hanson fan, we weren't cool. We giggled constantly, cried when we saw them up close, and clung to every word that came out of their pubescent faces. I had posters... lots and lots of posters, that cluttered my walls. I remember one day when Dad came into my room to get me up for school. He turned to walk out, and seeing my Hanson-plastered wall (Mom had a rule that you shouldn't be able to see any posters from the door), said under his breath "My daughter is a groupie." He sounded so sad, as if I had been abducted by aliens.

I had a Hanson birthday cake. I'm embarassed to say that it was for my fourteenth birthday party. I totally should have grown out of that stage of fandom by that point, but I hadn't. By the time I got to college, my fandom waned. I still kept up with them. Oh, how disappointed I was to discover that Taylor, the middle one, had gotten a girl pregnant and was engaged to be married.

It was only a few months later that Edwin and I began dating. We were engaged by the time I was 19. I saw a concert the September before we got married in December. To be totally honest, if I had the opportunity to see them tomorrow, I would totally do it. They had a concert in Louisville, but I couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with me, and Edwin somehow thought that it would be a waste of money. Plus, it was in a club. Not really somewhere that I want to visit.

As memories of who I was collide with plans for who I want to be, I find myself confused. But some part of me still hums "Mmmbop". If you'll excuse me, I have a kid who needs her diaper changed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Belated Pictures (From DeLaynie's First Day of School)

I took these pictures yesterday, but I couldn't find my cardreader to upload them. I'm a very proud mama, so I decided to go ahead and post them a day late. I assure you, tomorrow I'll talk about something other than DeLaynie going to school for 4 hours, 3 days a week ;).

Edwin going for "Dad of the Year," getting DeLaynie dressed. Don't worry, I picked out the clothes and packed her bags the night before.
Every great day starts with a slide, at least for DeLaynie.
I made the mistake of saying, "Are you ready for school?" After that, there was no keeping her inside the house.
So how did my baby do? That's right, she was happy, playful, quiet (huh?), and cooperative. If there was an option for "best kid ever!" they totally would have circled it. Okay, not really. I'd like to think she's tied for best ever, but I'm pretty sure that it's just my own bias. Thanks a ton to her teacher for helping her get adjusted and being so very patient with her!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

DeLaynie's First Day of School

This morning began with DeLaynie jumping into our bed and cuddling up next to Edwin, as she does most mornings. We finally got up and got ready for the big day. Edwin was deeply concerned that DeLaynie would be completely thrown off guard by the routines and structure that come with preschool. She took a second to check out her surroundings, but before long she found a toy mailbox that she found amusing.

Ella actually took a nap! A long one, too. I had to wake her up to get De from school. Edwin went to a pastor's lunch with Dad, so there was a time during which I was the only conscious person in the house! I talked to B.Wal for a while. I didn't have to take "angry mommy voice" breaks every fifteen seconds, and I didn't have to feel guilty for not wanting to pick up Ella, my little Cling-on (that would be a Star Trek pun).

When I did go to pick up DeLaynie, her very sweet teacher said that she'd had a great day! She'd cried once, but quickly calmed down. Edwin was quite relieved to discover this. I was happy, but not as shocked as my hubby. DeLaynie was delighted to see that I'd brought Ella with me. When I walked up, I heard, "There's Mommy. And look! There's the baby! It's Baby Ewwa." She seemed pretty happy in general.

I'm pretty proud of her, myself. She's going to be just fine with this missions thing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What is Normal, Anyway?

Edwin and I have been talking about the idea of getting used to our new normal. I try to take the positive spin on the situation by saying, "Isn't it great? We get to define normal for a while!" He doesn't seem as enthused. I'm not as excited as I try to appear.

Neither of us like the fact that we don't have jobs at the moment. I haven't worked outside of the home in years. Edwin, however, has always loved working. It isn't that he prefers being at work more than being at home, but going to work makes being at home more enjoyable to him. (Try to say that three times fast.)

The hardest part is establishing a routine. When you have nowhere to be, it's difficult to get into the swing of things. The good news is that pre-school starts tomorrow for DeLaynie. Three days a week, she will delve into the predictable world of structured education. At least as structured as a classroom of two year-olds can be. This will be a good warm-up for the eight weeks of 8 to 3 childcare she'll experience at orientation.

Daddy is far more nervous about this school thing than I. He may seem like a sentimental guy, but he isn't. Or he wasn't until the word, "school" was spoken. He's gotten all warm and squishy ever since it came up. He's mostly nervous for her. I think DeLaynie will like it once she adjusts to the expectations of the classroom, a process that will be good for her in its self, though it may not be so enjoyable to the teacher.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Child-Free Weekend!

For a Christmas present from my parents, Edwin and I asked for a few nights out of town. It came at the perfect time. Edwin and I were exhausted from the move, and the girls seemed more annoying than normal. This generally happens when I haven't slept enough. We went to a little cabin in Warm Springs, Ga for three nights. (It's near Callaway Gardens.) My mom is great at finding random places that are cozy and wonderfully obscure.

We went to Columbus a couple of times. We ate out, without fighting two little mess-makers. We saw a movie... in a theater. We heard almost every word. The movie was Valkyrie, so I really can't say that it was a barrel of laughs, but I do recommend it. It was a great movie, even if it was dark. It helps to know that we won eventually.

Then came Friday night, when we watched the Sugar Bowl. I'm not a sports genius. I do know that the University of Alabama only played sparatically. I'm not going to say much on the subject. The Alabama papers have said plenty. Let's just say that the Sugar Bowl was the low light of our vacation.

We had a good time sleeping in, watching television on cable, and walking around without worrying about the girls getting worn out from all of the shopping. We're home now, and it's good to be back with the girls, even if DeLaynie is a tad bit cranky from all the work that she put in preventing my mom from getting sleep. (Thanks mom!) We really missed them, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to miss them.

Now we move on to job hunting. DeLaynie starts pre-school on Tuesday, and Mommy and Daddy are pretty nervous about it. Keep on praying for us!