Saturday, October 23, 2010


Ack! Apparently we are now potty training! Elias has been practicing sitting on the potty for a couple weeks, but he's never actually tried to use it. But today he did! So apparently we are now potty training! Oy. Pray for us!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Over the summer, I decided to do an experiment. I don't remember exactly why, but I decided I was going to drive at or below the speed limit. This may be unexceptional to many of you, but my practice before this was to always drive 3 or 4 mph over the speed limit (or more on the highway) - I considered that to be "safe" from getting pulled over. However, I think my conscience just started to bother me. I mean, whenever I'd see a policeman clocking, I'd have to slam on my brakes to try to slow down to the speed limit. And I always knew that if I got pulled over, I deserved the ticket because I was, in fact, breaking the law. So that's probably why I started the experiment. Now I don't worry at all whenever I see a cop - I just continue on my merry way! I was surprised at how easy it was to stay within the speed limit. Once I got used to it, now I actually find myself tending to go below the speed limit if I'm not paying attention rather than above it. The drivers behind me aren't always so happy at this, but I'm good with that. (Note: This isn't intended to be any kind of judgment or statement about the driving habits of my readers. You do whatever works for you. I'm just sharing what works for me. Please keep reading!)

The reason I'm good with that is because of the unexpected side effect this has had in my life... I find that I am generally a lot more relaxed than I was before. I don't have to worry about rushing around and trying to get everywhere at the fastest possible rate of speed. I plan to leave early enough to get wherever I'm going on time, but if that doesn't happen, I prefer to go the speed limit and just be a few minutes late. Nothing in my schedule is going to be a disaster if I'm not there at the stroke of the clock. And I'm really just enjoying time in the car more, I enjoy listening to the radio more, I'm just chilling out and enjoying the ride. Kind of the "taking time to stop and smell the roses" concept.

But I think this also speaks to the concept of enjoying the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination, and this is a theme in my life and spiritual life too these days. I want to slow down and enjoy the Terrible Two's instead of focusing only on the day Elias turns three (or goes to school or starts to drive or becomes a responsible adult...). And this is definitely a concept God has been working on in my spiritual life, too. I get so frustrated and discouraged whenever I have any kind of stumble or setback. I tell myself "You should know better by now!" But what God is telling me about this, first of all, is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). So any voices that are condemning me for failure are NOT from Him. But secondly, He never intended for our spiritual lives to be only about the destination, but to be a journey from birth to death. None of us will achieve perfection in this life, but we are all on a journey toward holiness that will end at Heaven. Have I moved forward in my spiritual walk? Am I more like Christ than I was 5 years ago? If so, then I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, regardless of whether or not I still struggle and sin. We all do, and that's ok.

I've been feeling, though, like there's an even further spiritual application here, and I've been struggling to put my finger on it until I read this morning's (October 19) devotion in My Utmost for His Highest. I've selected the parts that were most meaningful to me to post here. Read the entire devotion here.
In our Lord's life, there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others...
You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress or strain is going to be placed on you... And if you waste your time in over-activity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God's redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
This also reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus came to visit at Mary and Martha's house. While Martha bustled around trying to get everything just right to serve Jesus, Mary just sat at His feet. Martha got upset and asked Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her, but Jesus said Mary made the better choice of how to spend her time. That's an old story in my world, but always one that gives me a reality check. Would Jesus tell me that I'm anxious and worked up over too many things, and I need to think about whether my priorities line up with His?

This is an exceptionally good lesson for me as a stay-at-home mom. As I'm getting perspective on it, I've come to realize that a lot of my depression that began after Elias was born was rooted in how dramatically my sphere changed. I went from being a world traveler, employed full-time, and free to come and go as I pleased, to being stuck at home most of the time making a paycheck of $0, with a total of two people in my daily sphere of influence. Culture shock! And I just felt unimportant, useless. I was unable to serve in the many ways I did before becoming a mom, and that left me questioning where my value came from. As I explore that question, God's answer is clear: my value comes because I am His. Period. And instead of seeing my time staying home with Elias as limiting me, I need to see it for what it is. It is a gift straight from God, a season where all that is required of me spiritually is to sit at Jesus' feet. Sure, I do a lot - I am in no way trying to minimize the contribution of a stay-at-home mom to the life and well-being of her family! I get that. But when it comes to ministry, serving at church, etc., that just doesn't fit into my lifestyle much right now. And what God is telling me is that's ok. The thing that is most important is to sit at His feet, to be rooted and grounded in Him, to relax and enjoy the journey that will ultimately take me into His presence.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kite Flying

Elias' favorite movie right now is Thomas and the Runaway Kite. So he knows all about kites and kite flying, and it randomly occurred to me yesterday that I bought him a kite last year in the end-of-summer clearance, and we had never even opened it! So I found it and pulled it out, and we took it out flying today! It's a cool inflatable Elmo kite, so it was really easy to fly! Elias LOVED it! At first he just wanted to walk around the field holding the kite, which was exciting in itself.But eventually I convinced him to let me try to get it up in the air. We succeeded on only the second try, and it stayed up for about 15 minutes with very little effort. Here's Elias enjoying the kite:

Sweet times with my little man.

Unfortunately, he was playing with it when we got home and he popped it. So this maybe was our only fun flying experience with the Elmo kite... So I'm glad I have it documented! Hopefully I'll figure out how to repair it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Don't Feel Like Singing!

Here's the last post in my current Songs of Elias series. This one was just too funny not to share! In case any of you are tempted to think that our life is all floating around singing The Sound of Music with birds chirping and bunnies hopping around, here is one of the outtakes when I was trying to record his singing:

HA! You'll notice that he's pretty out of it - he still hadn't woken up completely from his afternoon nap... And he just didn't want to sing right now! Ok, dude. Gotcha.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do Re Mi in His Sleep

As I said here, Elias loves the Do Re Mi song from The Sound of Music. He sings it all the time! I totally cracked up one night when he was singing it in bed before he fell asleep! So I filmed a little bit of it on the video monitor... You can't see much - his head is on the right side of the screen and he's laying on his back, if you want to try to watch him. But you can hear him singing, and you can see the red lights lighting up along the bottom of the monitor as he's singing. Seriously, he did this for a full 15 minutes - I just filmed a little bit of it!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

To the Gym

We recently discovered that the fitness center at the university where Justin works has a really neat Family Gym that we can use. I can't believe I lived here for more than 2 years without knowing this, but I'm going to take full advantage of it now that I know! I'm making up for lost time! This place is so cool because it has all sorts of fun things I can take Elias to do, and it's indoors and free to use! Win-win-win! So we've been going there at least once a week since the semester started - we call it "going to the gym," and Elias has started to ask for it!

It has a big open gym with three full basketball courts, and we can use their balls to play. Elias loves to watch Mommy "shoot hoops," although there's more airballing than anything else! Then upstairs there is a big walking track that Elias and I like to walk around.Elias likes that it looks down onto the gym, so we can see anybody playing down there. There is also a big rock-climbing wall, which is definitely too much for us. However, they also have a smaller version for kids and weenies like me. It's only like 10 feet tall, but it's fun to try to climb it! And there are soft cushions to catch you if you fall, and Elias likes to flop and play on the cushions.
We have some friends who first told us about this place - David is a professor at the university, and Elias and I have become good friends with his wife Jodee and their son Ethan. Ethan is only about 6 months older than Elias, so they're on pretty much the same level. Ethan and Elias call the rock-climbing area "caves," and they like to explore the caves together. Cute!

The last time we met Jodee and Ethan at the gym, they introduced us to an activity that it would've never occurred to me to try with Elias - racquetball! Here are Elias, Ethan, and Jodee in the racquetball court:You can't play in the court unless you're wearing goggles, and so I was afraid that was going to foil our efforts to play in there. Elias has NEVER been willing to wear sunglasses or anything else on his face, and he was pretty resistant to the idea at first. But he watched Ethan put his right on and have fun playing and bouncing the ball in there, and after about 10 minutes, Elias finally submitted. How cute is he in his racquetball gear???
I wanted to get a picture of the boys together... Here is Ethan standing nicely for the picture, and Elias wandering away with the racquet. Sigh.
Anyway, we're thankful for new friends and for this awesome facility where we can come and play together!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

After the Race

After the race, Justin and I navigated to downtown Kansas City, where I had scored a ridiculous deal on Hotwire for a 4-star hotel! It was the Hyatt Regency Crown Center, which has the only revolving restaurant in Kansas City on its roof. The hotel was pretty full that night, so they placed us in an executive suite on the 39th(!) floor - it was equipped for conference meetings with a full 6-seat conference table in it! The coolest thing about the room was the view out our windows!Seeing as we were dressed in NASCAR gear, windswept, and covered head-to-toe in racing grime and debris, we opted out of the fancy schmancy revolving restaurant. Instead, we used the skylink to walk over to the Crown Center, an indoor 3-story mall that had several places to eat. We chose Fritz's Railroad Restaurant in honor of our little man at home. It was your standard burger joint food, but the cool thing about the place is that your food is delivered by a train!You pick up a little phone at the table and call in your order. A live person brings your drinks and other things that might spill, but then a little train comes along a rail that runs along the top of the wall and brings the rest of your food! Rather than trying to describe to you how it works, I found a video on youtube... So click here if you want to see it! :) I unfortunately forgot our camera, so these pictures were taken on the cell phone. Justin and I thought that either Elias would've loved the place, or he would've majorly melted down over not being able to touch the train. So we were glad to be able to just sit down and enjoy a meal together without the danger of anybody melting down!

In all, we had a great weekend, and we're so thankful for all the friends and family who made it happen!

Monday, October 04, 2010

NASCAR, Part 3: The Race

Have I mentioned how cool it was for Justin and me to be at a NASCAR event and how awestruck we were? Um, yeah. It was so neat being able to actually see a race! Before the race started, we went over to the garage area for the Nationwide cars and got to see them lining up to go out onto the track. As I mentioned previously, the Nationwide race we attended on Saturday is like the minor league of NASCAR, and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday is the major league and the one we usually watch and follow. However, there are several drivers that drive in both leagues, and so I had decided to root for two of the drivers that I like in the Sprint Cup: Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. Here is Carl's crew pushing his car to line up before the race:The drivers weren't in their cars yet - the crew would just push the car out to the right place. But that was neat in itself because a good driver needs a good crew to be successful, so these guys deserve as much respect as the driver!

Then we walked over to the grandstand and took our seats. Here's a view from our seats before the race:
We were in the 10th row, so we were right down on the track! So cool! Here's a video of the cars zooming by in the first lap of the race. Warning: Turn down your volume! It's WAY loud!

We wore earplugs the entire time because it was so loud! You may have also noticed in previous pictures of us that we were in hats and jackets - it was cool and windy. I was glad the race was in the afternoon because if it had lasted after the sun went down, I would've been too cold to stay!

Ok, so I must confess that it's easier to follow a race on TV than when you're there. Unless you pay $50 to rent one of their little video scanners that gives you commentary and lets you know what to look for, it's a little hard to know exactly what's going on. However, it was still exciting to watch them pass each other and spin out, and to root for my drivers. And lo and behold, one of the drivers I was rooting for, Joey Logano, actually won the race! It was an exciting finish and fun to watch.

After a driver wins a race, he celebrates by spinning his car around to make a lot of smoke with his tires - it's called a burnout. So here's Joey's burnout:

So it was such a great experience to actually be able to go to a race and see it all in person! I will definitely have a greater appreciation for what I'm seeing on TV now that I've seen it live.

Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!

NASCAR, Part 2: FanWalk

The first thing we did when we got to the Speedway was take the FanWalk. You pay just a little bit extra, and you can walk through a tunnel under the track to visit the infield and see the garages, drivers, crews, and cars up close. It was stinkin' awesome. TOTALLY worth fifteen bucks!! This is the tunnel under the track:We walked around to the area where we got to see Victory Lane, where the winner goes to receive the trophy after the race.
And then we got to see the garage area and all the transport trucks.We weren't actually allowed to go IN the garage, but we got pretty darn close! They call the fence where the fans can stand Autograph Alley because sometimes the drivers, owners, and/or crew will come by and sign autographs. We didn't hang out long enough to get any, but it was neat to be so close!We were there during the time when the driver's for Sunday's Sprint Cup race (the major leagues!) were having their practice! So they would drive a few laps around the track, then come into the garage for an adjustment, then drive a couple more laps, come back in, etc. So we got to see our favorite drivers drive by several times! (Warning: Turn your volume down! These videos are loud!)

In this video, you see Tony Stewart (#14), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88), Jeff Gordon (#24), Jamie McMurray (#1), Jimmie Johnson (#48), Juan Pablo Montoya (#42), and J.J. Yeley (#36) drive by. Some of these are the biggest names in motorsports! And they drove not 20 feet from where we were standing! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

You can see in the above pictures that the very first berth in the garage from where we were standing was the Lowe's #48 - Jimmie Johnson's team. Jimmie is Justin's favorite driver, and he is THE single best driver in all of motorsports, so it was so cool that we were able to see his car and team so close! His crew chief, Chad Knaus, was standing on top of the big transport truck to watch Jimmie's practice. (Read Justin's 2007 tribute to Knaus here.) It was so cool to be able to see him in action! And then when practice was over, we actually got to see Jimmie himself get out of his car and walk over to the truck! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek again!
Too bad my camera snapped a half second too late to catch Jimmie between those two people! Ah well, here's Jimmie's left side anyway (mostly hidden behind the man in black in the center). Jeff Gordon, my favorite driver, was in a garage berth a bit further down the line. So I was able to see him walk from his car to his truck, but it was too far to even try to get a picture.

This was so awesome - Justin and I were totally starstruck! We looked at each other several times and said "I can't believe we're here!" We've been NASCAR fans for about 5 years now, so this is a BIG deal for us!

Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!

NASCAR, Part 1: Sea of Humanity

It only took a few minutes after arriving at the parking lot of Kansas Speedway before Justin and I decided this is the coolest thing we have ever done together. Our minds were totally blown!We parked about a mile(?) away from the Speedway and just walked through a massive sea of people and cars to get to the track itself. We could not believe how many cars and people were there!Below is the preferred parking section for those who pay extra for box seats. Check out all the flags and tailgating tents! And it goes ALLL the way back in the distance, as far as the eye can see!The grandstand was PACKED, which surprised us because the race we attended was the Nationwide Series, which is like the minor league of auto racing. The Speedway's website says that the grandstand holds 82,000. Umm, yeah. There were at LEAST that many people there! Not counting all the drivers, crew, workers, and people camping in the infield! Un. Believable!I do not even want to imagine the crowd at Sunday's race!

Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Awesome Weekend

We had such an awesome weekend!! My in-laws came into town and visited for a few days, then they kept Elias on Saturday and Sunday so Justin and I could have a little getaway! We went to Kansas City and watched a NASCAR race, so stay tuned to hear all about that! But Elias had so much fun with his Nana and Granddad, and he did AWESOME for the first time we had ever been away from him overnight! We're so thankful for the time Nana and Granddad gave us, and we're so thankful to have such a sweet boy that did so well without us!

Elias modeling Granddad's hat:
One of the highlights of the weekend for Elias was that Nana and Granddad bought him his first tricycle! It has a Thomas-theme, so what's not to love?? (Click here to see all the features!) He still doesn't have the hang of pedaling yet, but he loves to sit on it and push the buttons, and he's learning. I'm sure I'll post more about it as he learns! Thank you for loving us so much and for giving us such a great weekend, Nana and Granddad!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Do Re Mi

This post has been a long time coming, but I've finally compiled all the video footage I want to go along with it! A LOOOOOOOOOOONG time ago, Justin introduced Elias to the Do Re Mi song from The Sound of Music. First he was just playing the scale on the keyboard, then they started watching the clip of that scene on youtube. Well, Elias just REALLY took to that song, and he LOVES it! So a couple times a week, we'll put in the Sound of Music DVD and watch the entire Do Re Mi scene. Elias loves it! He's transfixed! And by now he has learned ALL the words, and he sings the song ALL the time.

I left in the ending of this video because it's so hilarious! This kid can jump tracks and go full throttle in a different direction... You have to be sharp to keep up with him! Instead of finishing Do Re Mi, he sings "All aboard and close the doors!" - the first line to the Thomas and Friends Sounds Song.

Anyhow he doesn't just know the words to the Do Re Mi songs - he has learned all the dialogue between the segments. If you watch this version of the Do Re Mi scene, there are subtitles with all the dialogue as well as the lyrics - this is the one we watch on the computer. Because of this, I notice little things in the script that otherwise I wouldn't have paid attention to. But Elias picks up them ALL. It's almost like he can read the subtitles - maybe just the fact that they're there make him pay more attention to the words he's hearing. Anyway, he can say every word in the whole scene! So funny! In the first part of this next video, he's shouting the syllables the way the children do at the beginning of the scene. Then in the second part, he's singing all the words to the end section.

My sweet boy!!! I LOVE that he loves this movie! Whenever we have the DVD in, we also watch the yodeling puppet scene of the Lonely Goatherd, and he likes that one too... He'll be yodeling next!!