Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Thanksgiving vacation

Weeks ago, the boys and I agreed that we would take a break from school for the entire Thanksgiving week.  Our autumn had been extremely busy, and we were all desperate for some time off.  We were also looking forward to another holiday at Grandmom and Pop's house!  So when last Monday morning finally arrived, we set forth to packing at a feverish rate.  Then, into the van we squeezed (the pups were thrilled to be included!), anxious to get out of town and into the country.  A week on the mountaintop was exactly what we needed...

It's amazing... life in the woods is so different from life as we know it in the city.  At Grandmom & Pop's house, it's quiet.  It's peaceful. It's simple.  There are no stop lights for miles.  No traffic.  No horns blaring or people shouting.  Just rest.  And great eats.  And a blazing fire for days on end. Wrestling matches outside.  Leisurely strolls through the woods.  And sleep!

Thank you, Mom & Dad, for a wonderful week.  As always, your generosity and hospitality did much to revive this worn-out soul~

Friday, November 28, 2008

27... and holding

Today I turned 27... again :) I've been celebrating my 27th birthday for years now and I honestly think this was the best one yet~ a fun day of shopping with mom & Lolli (the guys stayed home to have a paintball war in the woods), a delicious lunch at our favorite spot and a wonderful repeat of turkey dinner this evening. A slew of very thoughtful gifts and a few great chats on the phone with loved ones far away. A yummy, yummy cake-- shaped like a heart and made by the ones who've stolen mine :) The boys made it for me with a little help from Grandma... it was absolutely perfect!

Now it's late and everyone else is sleeping, but the logs in the fireplace are still burning and the fire is just too warm and inviting to leave. So I'll sit up for a bit longer, counting my many blessings and thanking the Lord above for so many precious gifts...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When a 4 year old gives thanks~

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good..." Psalm 118:1

Thank you God for rocket ships.

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving
by Bub

The golden rays of sun shine brightly on the green, grassy meadow.

The gentle breeze rustles through the beautiful autumn leaves, red, orange, yellow and brown.

Colorful cardinals chirp merrily as daring chipmunks scurry up the table legs to nibble on sweet-smelling corn cobs and crunchy carrots.

The enthusiastic Pilgrims hustle about excitedly as they prepare for a great feast.

Strong, broad-shouldered men strain to split enormous logs needed for a blazing fire.

Anxious women carry heaping platters of slow-roasted venison and turkey to the banquet table

While vegetable stew boils vigorously in a massive, iron kettle.

Popping corn explodes in the sizzling hot pan and tiny honey bees buzz past the jugs of apple cider, hoping to steal a delicious taste.

Delighted children dash through the tall grasses-- laughing, playing, and singing with joy.

Then ninety Indian warriors, dressed in buck-skin breeches, march solemnly over the hillside, burdened with foods they plan to share.

Bold voices join together in a cheerful chorus of thanks to the almighty God.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble gobble!

Today we baked cookies and then decorated them... turkey style! (because a special holiday is the perfect excuse for taking an ordinary cookie and turning it into something fantastic~)
A glob of icing, a few pieces of candy, and voila-- pre-Thanksgiving deliciousness and a sugar-high to beat the band. Now, add to that equation 3 little boys who haven't napped in days and you've got for yourself a formula for a delightful evening... ha ha ha!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, November 24, 2008

Star Wars, part 2

Chess has always been a favorite game around here, but like most things, the boys' desire to play has been rather cyclical.  In fact, it's been quite some time since they've enjoyed a good match or two. Once Big Man pulled the Star Wars board out of hiding, though, everything changed.  Immediately, they renewed their interest in the game and have been playing ever since.  And what perfect timing! Now that the sun sets so early, all 3 boys are in need of some good after-dinner entertainment.  Star Wars chess to the rescue!

So around here, it's been chess, chess, and more chess.  After several rounds with Noh-man, Bub asked if I might give it a shot.  Sure, I told him, but first I needed a quick tutorial... who's who, after all?? These game pieces certainly don't resemble the traditional set to which I'm so accustomed.  

I soon learned that the black pieces represent the Dark Side-- the Emperor is the king and Darth Vader is the queen (go figure).  For the silver pieces, Obi-Wan Kenobi is the queen and Yoda is the king.  And as for our other favorite characters:  Luke & Princess Leia are bishops, Hans Solo & Chewbacca are knights, and R2-D2 & C-3PO team together as a rook; Padme is the other one.  It's a lot to remember, but fortunately, the boys know them all by heart.  They just have to remind me, over and over and over again. 

So after my lesson, we played.  And then we played again.  I won't delve into the details here.  Just assume that I lost.  Badly.
Even Lolli likes to play. All the discarded pieces eventually make their way to her high chair tray so she can conduct a battle of her own :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving, a little bit early

Last night, we celebrated Thanksgiving a little bit early.  Together with Leslie and her crew, we feasted on a slightly untraditional "turkey day" meal...  spaghetti and meatballs!  Since turkey-- with all the fixins'-- is on the menu for Thursday, Les & I thought a low-stress meal like pasta was our best choice this go round.  Besides, it's quick, it's easy, and it's a crowd-pleaser every time!  A no-brainer, as my dad likes to say :)

While Leslie and I worked in the kitchen, the men enjoyed a little college football.  Lolli-lu played contentedly in the family room, and little Bubby finished up his nap.  The rest of the crew had tons of exhausting fun downstairs, playing dodge ball of all things-- the perfect indoor game!  Fortunately, all were more than happy to take a much-needed break from their various and sundry activities to sink their teeth into a delicious spaghetti dinner.  Needless to say, we all stuffed our tummies full.  But, we refused to stop there.  No, a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory was thawing on the counter, and if you've never tried a slice, you just don't know what you're missing.  It is an absolute must, worth every single calorie (and then some!)~
Oh, and by the way... happy birthday, Les!  (39 & a half, right??)
We love you :)

Thanks for a wonderful evening (and thanks for the photo with Hubby, too)!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Star Wars: Big Man-style

When it's 30 degrees outside, and the near-hurricane strength wind (well, that might be a minor exaggeration) is freezing everything in sight, outdoor play is simply not an option.  So what's a little guy to do?  Engage in intergalactic warfare, of course... the ultimate showdown of good versus evil. 

And to think-- it all took place on my kitchen table!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah, 
Praise ye the LORD!

This morning I took Lollipop in to the doctor's office for a progress check. It's been exactly one week since that dreadful well-check appointment, and I've been anxious to see what the scale would report today... 

My desire: a 4-ounce weight gain-- that would have been "ideal," as her doctor really wants to see a one-pound gain over 4 weeks.  Well, Little Miss Lolli (clearly an over-achiever!), decided to do better than that... she gained 6 ounces, hallelujah and amen!   I saw the scale with my very own eyes... it's true!  

Oh, God is so good!  His mercies truly are new every morning!

"I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders."
Psalm 9:1

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

One pound

One pound.  It's not a lot of weight.  Just 16 little ounces... (I usually gain that much by simply walking past a bowl of ice cream; let's not discuss what happens when I actually allow myself to indulge in one!)

Well, last Thursday, "one pound" took on a whole new significance in our home. While at the doctor's office for Lollipop's 9-month well-check, I learned that she has only gained one ounce this past month. That's not enough weight to maintain her placement on the growth curve, and as a result, it's a cause for concern.  It came as a huge surprise to me... she's happy and apparently healthy; she's growing out of her clothes and reaching every other milestone as she should, but yet, her current weight is too low.  So, after a lengthy chat and a bit of reassurance, the good doc gave us our marching orders: a 1-pound weight gain in a month (that's the ideal, though she'd settle for 1/2-3/4 lb).  

Now, in my head, it makes perfect sense that Lolli just needs a few more calories each day.  It's just been in these last few weeks that she started sleeping through the night (that's one less nursing/day) and it was about the same time that she started crawling (that's a lot of extra activity/day).  So with less caloric intake and increased activity... sure, those are not optimal conditions for weight gain.  A little more food should surely solve the problem.  

But then the emotional me takes over and. I. panic.  And I cry.  And I despair.  And there's no doubt in my mind that said panic attacks are fueled by the devil himself (he knows exactly which buttons to push with me).  Certainly he enjoys seeing me in a frazzled state as I jump from one horrible possibility to the next.  These past two days haven't been pretty...

But no more.  The LORD has not given me a spirit of fear, but one of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), and I know that He is in control.  He loves all my babes even more than I do, and He will take care of my girl.  His peace that passes all understanding and His strength in place of my weakness will see us through.  So while I hold my babe close (and then stuff her precious face full of tasty things!), I can-- in all confidence-- lift my eyes to heaven and rejoice in the LORD.  Yes, His lovingkindnesses never cease, and His mercies are new every morning.  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A matter of trust

All too often, I hit a bump in the road. 
Occasionally, I get tossed a curve ball that I don't quite know how to handle.
Every once in a while, I struggle to believe that I really will survive until bedtime. 
And then sometimes, I just need to be reminded (and thus find peace in my trials) of who's really in charge...  
"The LORD is my strength and my shield;
 my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. 
 My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." 
  Psalm 28:7

"I will say of the LORD, 
'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' "   
Psalm 91:2

" 'I love Thee, O LORD, my strength.'  
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; 
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 
 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
 and I am saved from my enemies."    
Psalm 18:1-3  

"God is our refuge and strength,
 a very present help in trouble.  
Therefore we will not fear..."
 Psalm 46:1

"Be still and know that I am God..."    
Psalm 46:10

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone,
 for my hope is from Him. 
 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold;
 I shall not be shaken. 
 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
 the rock of my strength, my refuge is God. 
 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
 pour out your heart before Him; 
God is a refuge for us."     
Psalm 62: 5-8

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,
 because he trusts in You." 
 Isaiah 26:3

"In that day they will say,
 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him and He saved us. 
This is the LORD; we trusted in Him. 
 Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.' "  
Isaiah 25:9

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize 
with our weaknesses,
 but one who has been tempted in all things as we are,
 yet without sin.
  Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,
 that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:15-16
"The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, 
for His compassions never fail. 
 They are new every morning; 
Great is Thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 2:22-23

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's official...

In one month, we'll be heading to Maryland for the 35th NBAC Annual Christmas Invitational. Hosted by the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (Michael Phelps's swim team!), this meet is one of our team's favorites.  Each participating team is asked to bring its 60 best swimmers to compete in both individual events and team relays, and yesterday, Bub received his invitation!  Over the course of 3 days in December, he'll race against the best this region has to offer.  We are all terribly excited and oh, so very proud of him!  Naturally, Noh-man greatly desires to compete as well, but since there isn't an "8 & under" category, he won't be able to attend as a competitor... this year.   Instead he'll cheer his big brother on from the sidelines with the rest of us, and hopefully next year, he'll be swimming, too.

So... this weekend get-away has suddenly become the highlight of our Christmas season.  In addition to watching our eldest compete, we'll get to enjoy a tour of Hubby's old stompin' grounds.  The Annapolis Boat Parade is also scheduled for this same weekend, so there should be tons of exciting activity around the harbor.  Of course, the boys don't care about that one bit; they're just thrilled to be staying in a hotel (it doesn't take much to impress my crew)!  So, swimming, boats, a tour or two... and the grandparents are all coming with us!  We may even get to catch up with a few extended family members who live in that neck of the woods. It should be oodles of fun, and to think... Bub will get to swim in the same pool his daddy swam in all those years ago (face it, Hubby... you're getting old!).  

In the meantime, we'll keep moving forward-- schoolwork, housework, swim practice and the like.  But soon, very soon, we'll hit the road and have a grand time away.  We're all looking forward to tons of excellent swimming (last year, Katie Hoff competed and Mr. Phelps himself has made an appearance on more than one occasion) and time together as a family. And who knows, we may even see a famous face or two!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

The squirrel/pumpkin saga continues...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A break in our day

When it's 70 degrees and sunny on a Friday in November, do you stay inside and do a full day's worth of school work?  No.  You tackle the basics, set the rest aside for later, and head to the battlefields for a much-needed break.  

Here are a few snapshots of our morning last week...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas really is coming

Santa Claus is at the mall.
I saw him there this weekend.
I simply cannot believe it...
It's November 9th and Santa is already in town!
Who's coming next week-- the Easter bunny??

Rule the pool

This weekend, Bub and Noh-man competed in their second swim meet of the year, the 2008 Fall Aqua-Fest.  They both set forth on Saturday morning with big goals in mind, and both walked away this afternoon victorious.  Noh-man dropped several seconds in most of his races, setting several new "personal bests," and he also beat every other 7 year old competing in each of those events.  He certainly proved that he is a force in the water! As for Bub, he set new personal records in most of his races and also reached two big milestones: he beat a long time rival ("we're enemies in the pool," he said, but good buds out of the water) in 2 of their 3 shared events and only lost the third race to him by .08 seconds.  He also, and even more impressively, scored "A" times in 3 events-- the 50 yd freestyle, the 100 yd freestyle, and the 50 yd backstroke.  These "A" times automatically qualify him for the state-wide Age Group Championships in each of those events next March.  How cool is that?!!

So... a super meet was had by both boys, and we are just tickled to pieces for them!  It truly is a joy to see our children, not only do something they love, but also do it well... and better each time.  We can't wait to see what the next several months bring... move over Michael Phelps!

Actually, no.  It's just a neat little record of the day's events... all the swimmers do it to help keep track of their races.  Even Big Man "drew" his events on his arm (all the way up to his armpit, I might add), just to be like his brothers.

I'm not sure why these 2 photos of my swimmer-dudes loaded like this.  Unfortunately, I have no idea how to turn them...

And here's Big Man, the next swimmer in line.
  He's almost through with his current series of swim lessons, so hopefully by summer he'll be ready for the summer league... we can't wait!