Monday, December 31, 2007

Golden Birthday - I'm 31!

I've waited 31 years for this: my chance to have a "golden birthday," when I turn 31 on December 31. Now it's here. I'm getting old ;-)

My parents have been visiting my family and me for the past three weeks, much to our delight. It has been a terrific time to catch up with them on details we seemed to miss on the phone. And of course, it's absolutely wonderful to see them grow closer to the kids. We've enjoyed...
  • baking cookies together
  • watching Grandma make a "candy train"
  • singing together while Grandpa played guitar
  • going on river-walks and playing in playgrounds
  • reading books together at home and in the library
  • celebrating Santa Lucia Day on December 13
  • celebrating Ethan's first birthday
  • Grandpa swinging the kids upside-down while singing "Hickory dickory dock"
  • putting a puzzle together with Grandma
  • caroling in a local nursing home
  • watching "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" together
  • observing Advent and enjoying Grandpa's light-the-smoke trick
  • saying goodnight with hugs and kisses (Ethan loves the snuggles!)
  • hearing Grandma's beautiful whistling
  • Grandpa's gift of a kid-friendly MP3 player
  • hearing Grandma's laughter
  • laughing at Grandpa's jokes
  • visiting with Aunt Beth
  • starting a new tradition of a Christmas Eve fondue dinner
And as an adult, I've appreciated my mom's help with dishes, laundry and mending, and my dad's help with many computer and career issues. I only wish they were here longer. Do you think I can somehow kidnap them and keep them for months?

At the last minute, my parents left our house for Charlotte, NC, the morning of Friday Dec. 28, to attend to some unfinished car business (see my dad's blog on the left ... Steve and I decided later that day that we too would drive to Charlotte, leaving Naomi and Josiah with Steve's parents. We got here on Saturday afternoon and have had a fun two days relaxing with Mom and Dad (and Ethan) before they leave us for good.

Sunday we celebrated my birthday (a day early) by eating dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (so yummy!) and having ice-cream at Marble Slab Creamery. We also played San Juan and visited Border's bookstore (a novelty for us country folk!) I enjoyed almost every minute of it!

Now I've stayed up insanely late, trying to advertize my tutoring on various tutor-locator websites. How will I manage to drive back to Lexington today? And stay up til midnight to bring in the new year???

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ethan Turns One!

One year ago, I gave birth to my baby boy, Ethan Andrew. I went to the hospital first thing in the morning for an amniocentesis, having not eaten breakfast because I wasn't sure if the procedure required a fast or not. I asked my sister if she could stay with my kids for "just 2 hours" until I got back. She agreed even though she was sick.

I never did come home that day! The doctor decided to induce me since I was already at the hospital. Poor Saralynn had to watch my kids for hours, until Steve's mom could relieve her.

I hadn't wanted to be induced or have a C-section, but because my second child had been 12 pounds 10 ounces at birth and gotten stuck on the way out, we opted to deliver early to prevent that from happening again. The pitocin worked well and my labor progressed nicely. At 6 cm, I asked for an epidural (my first after two natural childbirths!) and was thrilled that it killed the pain.

I began pushing and Ethan headed toward the light. But then the nurse said he was coming face-up and forehead first. She called the doctor and the doctor agreed, saying this was a problem. Uh-oh. He gave me the option of forceps or C-section, but told me he didn't have much experience with forceps and leaned toward the section himself. Sigh.

So after two natural childbirths, I had my first pitocin, epidural and C-section, all in one birth. Thankfully Ethan Andrew was delivered safely at 11 PM, and though the wound hurt insanely for 24 hours, I healed well. Ethan nursed well, and after the first four (LONG) months, slept well. We have delighted in our cute and happy third child, and thank the Lord constantly for him. What a gift he is to us.

Happy birthday, Ethan!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Snow!

We woke up this morning to see snow falling. This has always been a delight for me personally, maybe especially because I'd only seen a couple snowfalls by the time I was 17. I love the beauty of the gentle flakes and the purity of clean snow. I love the quiet and calm.

But it was even more fun this morning because my kids were so excited! Josiah almost ran out the door in his pajamas, he was so desperate to feel the snow falling. From our bed, we coached him to put on clothes, mittens, socks, shoes (real shoes, instead of his sandals he's been wearing up till today!), and a hat. Steve found Josiah a few minutes later playing outside in our yard with all the get-up but in short-sleeves and minus a COAT!

I have to say that it's very refreshing and relieving to finally have kids old enough to put most of that stuff on themselves. I have to tie shoes and put on the second mitten. But they find everything and get dressed mostly without me. I'm sure that will mean they get out more often this winter. I told them that my dad loves cold and winter, so Naomi's already planning on playing outside with him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In Good Company – a positive movie review by Steve & Lisa

I just saw a fantastic movie last night, starring Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, and Scarlett Johannsen. I’d picked it up from the library thinking it looked like a light-hearted comedy that may or may not be great. I was very pleasantly surprised. I’d consider it one of my top recent movies, in the genre of drama/comedy.

Quaid plays Dan Foreman, a middle-aged father, husband, and top ad-salesman for a sports magazine. He’s been in his company for 23 years when a global corporation buys it and changes loom large. Foreman is demoted and placed under the new leadership of Carter Duryea (Grace) who is half his age and has no experience with ad sales. As if this isn’t difficult enough, Foreman eventually discovers that his daughter Alex (who has just moved to the city to study at NYU) has begun dating Duryea, leading to a major confrontation between the two men.

While a child’s coming of age is a theme that runs through many storylines, it’s not common these days for a movie to portray the father figure as positively as this one does. Foreman accuses Duryea of taking advantage of his daughter by sleeping with her, and while Alex was actually the one who seduced Duryea, Foreman is right to challenge the man to take responsibility for his actions. Duryea, who had no father growing up, sees the wisdom in Foreman’s words, though he takes some knocks (literally) along the way. For her part, Alex realizes that she is too young to commit to a relationship, and asks her father to forgive her for concealing their relationship from him. Alex and Duryea never do get back together, a situation that adds a bit of realism to the plot.

The movie also explores the tension between the development of impersonal global, multi-media corporations, and businesses that emphasize person-to-person relationships. Duryea finds his way to the top through one of these corporate acquisitions, and he at first tries to lead through flashy promises of ‘synergy’ with companies that have nothing to do with sports magazines but that are part of this new global corporation. Yet Duryea comes to value Foreman’s belief that good business is fundamentally about building relationships through trust and dependability. When his bosses pressure him to get rid of the ‘old guard,’ Duryea decides integrity and experience really count for something and sides with Foreman.

In Good Company may or may not be right to portray global corporations as badly as it does. But it does put the lie to the idea that business will never be the same, thanks to globalization. While technology may change, bringing people across the globe into contact, business still depends on good work ethics that produce good results and lead to happy clients. And the same holds true for family relationships. Honesty and transparency is always better than deceit. Is it any wonder that this movie gets two thumbs up?

(For those who care about particular "offenses" in movies, this show does have a little bit of bad language, uses Christ's name in vain, has one reference to homosexuality, and has an implied premarital sex scene. These obviously didn't in any way ruin it for us, but wanted you to know...)

My Parents Are Coming!!!

I am super-excited! My mom and dad will arrive at our home on Saturday, December 8, after not having seen my older kids for 21 months and never having met my baby/toddler. I saw them a year ago during the weeks of my sister’s wedding, but that was amidst family and friends and general hoopla. And it wasn’t in my own home.

Now I get to have 3 weeks with them, watching the kids and grandparents get to know each other again, and hopefully spoiling them a little. I plan to cook for my mom and give her and Dad some quiet space. I’m looking forward to relaxed conversations over tea (when the kids are in bed!) And I’m tickled pink that they get to be here for my choir concert.

I just wish they had a family willing to care for their foster son Luke so they could stay in the States longer. It boggles my mind and saddens me that there aren’t people in Nigeria who would sacrifice and serve in such a way that Luke could be loved and parented while Mom and Dad would get a rest.

Steve and I are willing to go, but probably face too many obstacles to make it a reality given our time constraints (needing to get there in time for my parents to extend this visit into a full furlough). Ethan doesn’t have a passport, Steve’s passport has run out of pages, we aren’t part of a mission yet and haven’t gotten visas or raised funds. Slight problems, right? I’m hoping my parents can get a break even during their short visit. And that Luke does not feel abandoned. Please pray that he’ll be adopted soon.

Kids' Update

Naomi sang in her first choir concert on December 1. She knew all the words to her songs and did a great job of singing out. She was scared ahead of time, but said that once she was up front singing, she wasn’t nervous anymore. I’m glad she had a good time. Our extended family was there to hear her, as well as her Sunday school teacher and another church friend.

Josiah’s reading! I’m using Hooked on Phonics, and starting him on the first unit (Naomi’s halfway through the second unit.) He’s only read words in the “at” and "an" families so far, but he’s getting it! He’s also doing great at Bible memory verses, coloring in the lines, and making up his own songs (usually praising God for “making all things”).

Ethan is walking all over the place. He took his first steps a month ago and hasn’t stopped since. He is increasingly aware of what we’re doing or eating, and usually wants to join in. He has 8 teeth now and is really a joy to play with. He has a great sense of humor and still loves cows.