Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I'm generally not one to make New Year's resolutions. If something about me needs to change, I should work on changing it now instead of once a year. However, I do think that the New Year gives a feeling of new beginnings, which is a great time for looking back, evaluating, and setting goals. I'm all for evaluating and setting goals! So here are my thoughts about what I'd like to work on in 2010.

1. Prayer Life - I am so blessed to have a husband who takes care of Elias in the mornings to allow me to have a quiet time. This year I was also blessed to be able to join a Bible study for stay-at-home moms, and we went through Breaking Free, which completely rocked my world. But having these small victories in my walk with the Lord has caused me to want more. I KNOW there is more to be had with Him, and I believe that prayer is the way to access His power in my life and in the lives of those I pray for. I want a greater hunger for Him and a closer walk with Him, and I think prayer is the way to get both of those things. Plus, with my realm being so limited because of staying home with Elias, I don't have much opportunity to get out and serve and minister and be Christ's hands to people. So I believe that prayer is how I can influence the whole world - I can be Christ's heart for people. I think it was Oswald Chambers who said, "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." May that be so in me. If anybody has any good suggestions for Bible studies on prayer, please feel free to let me know.

2. Giving - Having said that about prayer being the greater work, Justin and I are both feeling like we want to be better stewards of our financial resources, using them better for Christ. Our theme verse for this is James 1:27, which says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I want to be more aware of the helpless and hurting both here and around the world, and I want to be doing something about it in the name of Christ. Since I am the one who handles the budget in our house, I want to rearrange it so that we are able to give more to those in need both here and around the world. Justin also wrote a bit about it on his blog here.

3. Personal Appearance - I want to take more pride in my appearance and work harder at looking better. I'm not necessarily talking about losing weight here. I mean, I do need to lose weight and I will be working on that in the new year. But this is something I'm already in the process of doing, and nothing about that really needs to change - I just need to keep up the hard work! What I'm talking about here is that my child is 19-months-old, so I really don't have an excuse anymore to go around looking like the mommy of a newborn! I'm not saying I'm going to start wearing makeup or anything - let's not get crazy here. But I'm thinking maybe I could, you know, like, fix my hair or occasionally wear something besides a t-shirt. This goal also includes things like taking care of my skin and you know, actually looking in the mirror and brushing my hair before I go to the grocery store.

4. Using My Time Well - As I stated in #3, I am no longer the mommy of a newborn. I do actually have quite a bit of free time and motherhood is no longer stressful and exhausting. So I don't really have an excuse anymore (like the mommies of newborns do!) to spend all my free time on leisure - things like reading and playing games. I don't really have a specific goal for how to do this, so suggestions would be welcome, but I think my time would be better spent reading the occasional nonfiction book in addition to the fiction I so greedily consume. Or I could knit blankets and hats for the local pregnancy crisis center. Or I could write letters to missionaries. Or I could pray for them. These would all be time well spent. So this one is going to require a bit more thought and planning on my part, but getting it out here might help me keep my eye on the prize.

This list is by no means comprehensive, it's just what's on my mind tonight. My biggest goal for 2010 is just that God will have His way in and through me. I think that will involve these four things, but it may not. Either way, may He receive all glory in and through me! Amen.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Playing in the Snow

We were surprised when our first snow of the season came overnight on Christmas Eve, so we woke up to 2-3 inches of snow on Christmas Day! Elias did see snow a little bit last year, but he wasn't big enough to play in it. So he got his first experience of frolicking in the snow this Christmas! I wasn't sure what to expect, but he LOVED it! He just ran and ran and ran! We didn't stay out long because it was REEEEEEALLY cold, but we got a few pictures and let him have the experience! Here's a video of him in the snow:

You can hear him saying "Sa, sa, sa" over and over again... We figure he was trying to say snow!

And here are a few more pics:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Elias' Presents

Since we didn't travel to see our families for Christmas this year, we mailed our presents to each other. So I'm posting this blog for those family members who sent Elias presents so they can see the joy he had in opening them and playing with them! We tried to spread it out a bit, so we opened a couple on Christmas Eve... We wanted him to enjoy each gift instead of getting swamped with a whole bunch of things and not be able to appreciate each one.

So the first gift he opened was a Sesame Street letters toy from Grandma and Grandpa. He actually grabbed it while it was still wrapped, and it started talking! So he knew it was Elmo before he even opened it! Talk about excited. :) He didn't know quite what to do with a wrapped present, but he sure liked the toy once he got it out. Here he is opening that:

Then he got a giant lego set that Nana had bought for him when she was here in October. He doesn't quite get putting them together yet, but he sure likes tearing them apart!And of course, he loves the bag they came in. :)

On Christmas Day, the first toy he got was a Build-a-Bear frog from his cousins Patriot and Azlan! He really likes the frog, and in this picture he's making it hop... He loves it when I make it jump really high and say "Boing, boing, boing!"
Then he got a Curious George puzzle from Aunt Jessica and Uncle Matt. Elias can't appreciate this yet, but they bought it for him at FAO Schwartz in NYC! Mommy thinks that's pretty cool. :) Elias LOVES this puzzle, though, and does great with it! I was surprised at how well he can put the pieces in their places. Here he is playing with that:

And finally we have a police car with a siren from Grandma and Grandpa. Oh, what joy! He loves cars, police cars, and toys with lights and sounds. So this was a home run, Grandma! :)

This was just round one of Christmas because Justin's parents are bringing that side of the family's gifts when they visit in January!

Thank you so much to all of our dear family that sent us presents. We love you and can't wait to see you soon!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

I wanted to post the digital copy of our photo card on here to send Christmas blessings to you all since we weren't able to send most of you printed copies. I am so thankful for all of my friends and family scattered across the country, and I pray you all have a very blessed Christmas!
The text says "May the Joy of Christ Fill Your Hearts This Christmas."

I also thought I'd post the full version of each picture that was included on the card so you can see them closer, since they're pretty small on the card. My cutie pie!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Developing So Fast!

Here's a video of my precious boy counting to 20!

He gets a little lost in the mid-teens - 14 and 15 are both "dis-dis." But he actually got 16 this time, which he doesn't usually. But he nails 17-20 every time! My so smart boy!

And please don't think we're drilling him with flash cards or anything. He just picks this stuff up! He hears 1-20 on his Elmo video that he watches about twice a week, and he hears me counting the mandarin oranges that he eats at lunch. And he just picked it up from that! We about fell over when he started counting along with me!

Other things he has just picked up in the past week that completely surprised us:
- My child actually counted to 10 IN FRENCH. He got that from a little toy remote he has.
- He knows the words to "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes!" and can say them along with someone singing it!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Big Boy Haircut

Elias got his first big boy haircut yesterday, by which I mean we used the clippers instead of scissors. Many of you saw on Facebook that it was rough, but we got it done! Although he hated it just as much as getting a scissor cut, at least it was faster! The only problem now is trying to use the scissors to trim around his ears. Still haven't managed to do that yet, so don't look too closely at his ears in these pictures! But look how handsome and grown up he looks with the short hair!Our method, as suggested by a friend, was to strap him in his booster seat in front of the TV with a favorite movie playing. Then Daddy held his arms away from his head while Mommy did the clipping. There was a lot of screaming, but we got the job done. I'm thinking maybe we let him watch next time Daddy gets his hair cut with the clippers so he can see that it doesn't hurt... Any thoughts on the matter? Note: We had no idea which guard to use or how long it was going to end up. This was with a #5 guard. I would like it a bit longer, but at least this way we won't have to cut it again so soon! Ha!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Gifts!

I have received two entirely unexpected, but entirely welcome, gifts in the past couple weeks, so I thought I'd share about them here. Today, I received this AMAZING gift from my husband!It's an ESV Study Bible. Three or four years ago, I got a compact ESV Bible as a gift, and I loved the translation so much that I have used it for my personal devotions ever since. Being a compact Bible, it's great for carrying to church, but the print is a little small for serious reading. I have looked at getting a Study Bible in this translation for a long time, but I haven't been willing to lay the money down for what one of these costs. But my sweet husband did it for me today! And I don't think I've EVER seen a Bible with this beautiful of a cover before. Didn't he do a great job picking it out?!?!?!

The second gift I received from my friend Charity when she was here over Thanksgiving. She and her husband went to San Diego on their honeymoon, and they brought me back this gift from the San Diego Zoo.It's a cute little journal with a panda on the front! Aw, that's nice. But wait... what's the fine print at the top?Made with real POO?! WHAT THE HEY????? Here's the back of the package to explain (Click to enlarge.):In case you're not up to reading all that, basically pandas eat so much bamboo and a lot of it goes undigested, so they take the poo, clean it, and recycle it into paper, which they used to make this journal. That is AWESOME! And you know she and I are good friends when she would have the courage to give me this as a gift because she knew I would LOVE it!

Thank you, Justin and Charity! I am so blessed with such loving and giving people in my life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big Boy at the Table

In the past couple weeks, Elias has become really good at climbing on and off the dining room chairs, and he loves to do it! He'll climb up and just sit there and read a book or whatever. So one day when it was snack time, I just put his bib on him and gave him his snack at the table instead of in his high chair. He did pretty well!

Right after I stopped filming this video, though, he climbed down and went to his high chair, so I guess he's not quite ready to eat at the table yet. Maybe we'll try a booster seat soon, though!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sorry, Grandma!

I'm thrilled to announce that after MONTHS of saying it to him, Elias has finally said a version of Grandpa! He says "Pa." Cute! He has said (Aunt) Jessica for a long time now, and in the video below, you'll hear him say (Uncle) Matt and Azlan ("Ash-ee"). He also did say Patriot ("Chut") the other day, although he doesn't in the video. Now, unfortunately, Grandma is the last one on my side of the family whose name he doesn't yet say. Sorry, Grandma! We're going to keep working on it and maybe he'll say something for you by the time you come visit at the end of the month!

We're still struggling a bit with Justin's side of the family - maybe their names are harder. He's got Nana and Granddad down, and we think he says something like "Josh," but we haven't gotten anything close to Aunt Nicole or Uncle David yet... We'll keep working on those ones too!

You'll also note that he's looking MUCH better... You can still see the red spot on the back of his neck, but that's all that's left of the hives. We have one more dose of the steroids and then we'll be good to go!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lookin' Rough

Here's my buddy boy this morning (Click to enlarge.):The pics aren't great, but you can see how his eyes are red and puffy, and you can see the red welts on his neck. (And you can also see that he needs a haircut! Yikes!) His ears are looking much better today, and the hives on his trunk are mostly gone - just red but not swollen anymore. So we're making progress! Please continue to pray for a good recovery and wisdom in caring for him!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Breaking Out in Hives

I think most of you probably saw this on Facebook, but I thought I'd post a quick update on here in case anybody didn't! We learned today that Elias is allergic to amoxicillin! It kinda took us off guard since this isn't the first time he'd had that antibiotic, but the doc told us that it's not unusual for children to react the SECOND time they have a drug instead of the first. Gee, great.

This was Elias' 10th day on the amoxicillin for his ear infection - he only had 3 more doses before he was finished with it. This morning while we were out grocery shopping, I noticed that Elias' ears were really red. I thought that was odd, but I figured maybe his hat had been on too long or something. Then later when we got home, I saw that his hands were red and they felt warm. Once again, odd, but I didn't know if that meant anything. He was acting fine, so I didn't worry. (Note for any of you who are shouting that this is obviously an allergic reaction - I've never had an allergic reaction to anything... No food or drug allergies... I've never even had poison ivy! So this is all new territory for me.) The only unusual thing about our day was that he woke up very early from his nap, but he wasn't fussy or acting like he didn't feel well.

Later when Justin got home, I asked him if he thought that Elias' red ears meant anything. So then we got to talking about his red hands, and Justin suggested it might be a reaction to the medicine. (Justin is allergic to penicillin himself, so he knows all about this.) Then when we pulled up Elias' sleeves for dinner, we saw that the redness had spread all up his arms, and there were obvious hives on his arms. This child was having an allergic reaction. Justin wasn't near as freaked out as I was, since he's survived this scenario before, but we decided to take him to the local walk-in clinic to be looked at just in case.

So we loaded up after dinner and had the doctor look at him. By the time she saw him, the hives had spread all over his body, he looked so pathetic! (It never occurred to me to take a pic. If he still has the hives tomorrow, I'll capture it for posterity.) So she prescribed prednisone for him just to help his body recover quickly, and she said benadryl will help with the swelling and maybe counteract the way the steriod might keep him awake. So my poor buddy. Welcome to the world of moms with kids who have allergies! I think it wasn't near as scary as an allergic reaction could've been, for which I am THANKFUL!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Master of Destruction

I wrote this blog post about Hurricane Elias a month or so ago to show you about the destruction Elias leaves behind him when he's playing. However, that picture really just indicated a mess, so I'm posting something else because he really does DESTROY things, not just make a mess. The usual victims of his terror are books. He is SO HARD on books! Let me show you his most recent victims:In case it's not clear what you're seeing, I'll narrate. On the upper left is a board book that he ripped a page out of. On the bottom left, he actually ripped a small board book completely in half. The top and bottom right are lift-the-flap books that he shredded... He doesn't just tear out the flaps, he completely destroys the page. This is what happens when we let him play unattended. Whenever I catch him, I try to teach him about being gentle with books, but it clearly isn't sinking in yet...

I'm actually a little concerned about this, so I'm hoping maybe you all can give me some thoughts. The reason I'm worried is that a lot of our books are hand-me-downs from his cousins, so that means they survived the toddlerhoods of other boys completely intact. This makes me feel like it's just my child who destroys books. I know that he's not trying to destroy them. He's just curious about how they work and so he tests, tries, pulls, and discovers that pieces can be ripped, bent, stretched, etc. I know it's a learning process and eventually he'll learn to be gentle with books. I guess I need to just be thankful that he loves books, even if this love isn't the kind I'd like to be on the receiving end of! But if anybody has any assurances or advice for me, I'd appreciate it!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Our Thanksgiving - Picture Heavy!

We had such a fun Thanksgiving this year! Justin got the whole week off work, so that's already a bonus, and we REALLY enjoyed having Daddy home so much! We decided that this year we're not going to travel for any holidays. Making the 8-12 hour drives and staying in other people's homes is hard enough, but we have an energetic and spirited toddler on our hands, and we just didn't think it was a good idea this year. So instead of spending Thanksgiving with family this year, we were blessed to be able to spend it with friends! My dear friend Charity and her new husband, Ndolembai, drove up from Texas to spend the weekend with us! She's the only one who thought to pull out her camera and document the time for us, so all of these pictures are courtesy of her. Unfortunately, since she was the photographer, all I have of her are a couple self-portraits... Don't hate me for posting them, Charity!

The happy newlywedsThey arrived just after lunch on Thanksgiving Day, so then Charity and I spent the afternoon cooking and we had Thanksgiving Dinner together. Here's me with the turkey.And the man of the house carving it up!We had quite a spread! Turkey, Crockpot Maple Glazed Ham, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and Butternut Squash and Cheese Panade (a fancy schmancy recipe for stuffing that I found in a magazine... It was DELICIOUS!). Then we had carrot cake (with homemade cream cheese icing) and apple oat crisp for dessert! Elias REALLY liked Charity's sweet potato casserole! (He's actually saying "Yummyyyyyyyy!" in this picture.)
This was the first time Charity had ever been able to meet Elias, and she took some really cute pictures of him!Charity and Ndolembai live near Dallas and so they're big Cowboys fans... I think they converted Elias!They also brought him a cute little football outfit as a gift, and it fits great! Here he is modeling it for us.
Then Charity, Ndolembai, and I got up EARLY on Friday morning to snag some deals at WalMart. This is what Charity and I look like BEFORE the crack of dawn. The Texans were surprised to have to scrape the windows before we could go! Charity took a picture of the car clock to prove what time we were headed to WalMart. Yep, that says 4:54. AM.

We also drove to Springfield later in the day and did some more shopping there... We got some great bargains and had lots of fun together!

It had been over 3 years since I had been able to spend time with Charity, and so it was such a blessing to be able to share this holiday with her and Ndolembai! I am so thankful for their friendship!