Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Magic Lamp Wish

If I ever find a magic lamp, this is what I'll wish for (after the money, of course). Patience. Parenting has magnified this weakness to such a point that I sometimes despair I possess any. You may wonder why I bring this up today. Did something in particular set me off? Not really. It's a constant battle. For example, yesterday I think between the two of them Addison and Davis asked me a dozen times to fix the arm of Cranky the Crane which had popped off. I obliged willingly the first few times but grew increasingly weary of the repetition. The words of Sunday morning's sermon have been bouncing around in my head all week, and I knew I had to share with you for I am not alone in this struggle.

The sermon was entitled Play Ball! We had a guest preacher, Lance Lewis, the pastor of the newly particularized Christ Liberation Fellowship in Philadelphia, and his words on Ephesians 4.1-6 were the perfect blend of comfort and challenge I needed after a tough week and has stayed with me long past the sermon's duration. If you want to hear the whole sermon, I'm including it here for your own personal blessing. Highly recommended (the section on patience begins at minute 19:32)!

What particularly ministered to my beleaguered heart was his exhortation on patience. He says, "Patience is the quality of waiting in hope throughout difficult situations or when dealing with difficult people." Yes, I could name a couple. He continues,"...because it believes that God is at work on our brothers and sisters and will eventually bring about the necessary changes in their lives. Hope, therefore, does not give up." Wow. Patience is HOPEFUL. We are not patient because we are nice people or have a high tolerance for irritation. We are patient because we know God is changing the person and the circumstances. That is powerful and truly transformational.

I have still been impatient this week, but I have continued to ponder these words. Instead of beating myself up for my own impatience, I have been strengthened in the knowledge that God extends to me infinite patience as He waits on my own transformation into a woman who can, in turn, extend patience to those around her. You see, my children will not always do the things they do now. They will not always poop in their diapers, make too much noise, disregard my instructions, whine and complain, spill their food, ask the same questions a thousand times. He is growing them into the lovely, mature, godly people He would have them be. And I get to be part of this hope for their lives. I am a player in the process, bearing with my children in all of their weakness because my Father does the same for me...but perfectly.

And lest you think I've included pictures of Davis in this post because he tries my patience the most, not so! Just needed to give him some equal face time after yesterday's Addison blog.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Faces Revisited

Some of you weren't around when I did this post. Go take a look and see for yourself. Not a lot has changed in 3 1/2 years.




Monday, April 27, 2009

I Stand Corrected

So, I was wrong. She's not from our Blackburn. She's from the other Blackburn in West Lothian. C'mon, people. Really? As tiny as Scotland is, you really had to name two different places Blackburn? You ran out of names that quickly? Nay bother. I thought she didn't sound Aberdonian one bit and wondered why. Now I know. I thought maybe I was losing my ear.

In other news, Susan Boyle's been made over, but thankfully has retained enough of her everywoman look not to resemble Paula Abdul too closely. At least I don't see the effects of any plastic surgery, and aside from the eyebrow wax and some new color, she's still sporting a tartan scarf, even if it is Burberry. Word of warning to you though, Susan, if you lose your look too much, you'll just turn into another overly-attractive 47 year-old reality/talent show contestant. Keep the dowdy duds. They were your signature.

The Cake

For weeks now my mom has been working on this fabulous wedding cake, a 4-tiered carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in a basketweave design. The baking took the longest. The layers were frozen, and then over Thursday and Friday, my mom and dad worked on icing it. Cream cheese frosting is touchy to work with because the more it's whipped the runnier it becomes, exactly the opposite of buttercream. Runny icing makes decorating in a precise design near impossible. While I witnessed the labor of love back here, I didn't get to see the finished product, so my dad obligingly took some photos. It was perfectly beautiful and tasted divine. They brought some back from the wedding after a little man I know with saucer-eyes that cannot be refused asked, "Nana, are you taking all the cake to the wedding?" Thankfully, there was quite a bit leftover and it returned whence it came for our enjoyment.

Evie-Pevie

Evie's latest nickname? We took a cue from Charlie and Lola. Are you ready? It's not short, but it's awfully cute. Think "easy peasy lemon squeezy." Got it? That's right. It's...

Evie-Pevie Lemon Squeevy.

Sounds a bit like a jingle.

A Day in Cape May

Saturday was one of those days that just begged for a trip down the shore. We'd been talking about it all winter -- on sunny drives home from church when the beauty of the afternoon tricked you into thinking it was actually warm. Saturday was the beginning of a serious warming trend we've entered. After the week we'd had -- between intensive work and medical drama -- we all needed some serious R&R. So off we went to our happy place, Cape May, NJ.

Evie hung out most of the day in the sling, sleeping of course. In fact, she nearly slept the day away, like in the early weeks when she would sleep 20 hours out of 24. She made up for it yesterday by staying awake most of the day.

Enjoying our picnic before we went to the Cape May Zoo. This eskimo kiss is what we call "snuzzles". I'll forgive you if you gag.

Yogurt face.

The lion was seriously snoozing. Can hardly blame him with that heavy fur coat on a toasty day like we had. I just missed him rolling around on his back by seconds. It was the funniest thing to watch, this overgrown cat resembling a hound.

Flushed cheeks and an intent gaze, watching the tamarins play with each other.

Davis fell asleep on the ride to the zoo and then the ride from the zoo to the beach. Two quick cat naps to keep him going.

Welcome to Cape May, NJ at the end of the Garden State Parkway.

We took a little driving detour downtown before making our way to the lighthouse. Here is an example of one of the many historic Victorian homes turned B&Bs that fill the Cape, and on the right of the picture you will see a horse-drawn carriage ride. It's not uncommon on a Saturday to see brides and groom drawn by these vehicles from church to reception. This one is just a little tour of the town.

The lighthouse which we chose not to climb this time.

Cape May Point is famous for its birding. It's a migratory rest stop for all sorts of fowl along the eastern seaboard. Out in front of the restrooms at the lighthouse you can enjoy these bird "hotels" which were packed with little songbirds.

A zoomed out view of the lighthouse.

Trey and the boys on the beach.

Evie...still sleeping.

Addison found it easier to negotiate the sand once he removed his sandals.

Mama, the boys, and a Hot Sling.

A little sample of the glory of the day complete with surf fisherman.

Davis wasn't too sure about walking on the sand and preferred to be carried. Since I already had one child attached to me, that task was left to Trey.

Oh, that beautiful face.

The city had recently completed a beach reclamation project. Most of Cape May's shoreline washes up to Wildwood, leaving its strand depleted and Wildwood's glutted, an irritating mile desert trek from car to water. This pipe goes down to the ocean floor and pumps sand up onto the beach, which industrial equipment then moves around. Unfortunately, it's probably a wasted effort as one good storm will wash it all away.

An enormous school of dolphins entertained us just off-shore. Can you spot it?

Here's a close-up.

Family photo, the five of us at Sunset Beach.

One tuckered out four-year old who finally, finally fell asleep on the ride home around dinner time.

The rest of the photos have been added to my albums. Enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Everywoman

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you've probably heard about Susan Boyle, the ordinary lass with the extraordinary voice. She wowed the judges on Britain's Got Talent back on April 11th. Talk about judging a book by its cover. At first everyone thought she was a joke, but then she opened her mouth and this beautiful sound came out. What you may not know about Susan is that she's from Blackburn, Scotland, 10 miles west of Aberdeen. I love this picture of her because it reminds me so much of the Aberdonians we got to know during our time there, a little shy but warm and friendly, hearty people who lack all pretension. Well done, Susan!

High and Tight

It's the official start of the summer season, the sheering of the sheep, I mean buzzing of the boys. Trey gave them their buzz cuts this morning, and I think they look darling. I remember running my hands across the napes of my little brothers' necks each summer when they would get theirs, delighting in the feel of prickly soft hair. Not sure they were as enthusiastic about such rubs as I was. Now I get to torture my own kids with my short hair fascination.

In other boy news, both of them have taken to calling me "boss." Might fool you into thinking they're showing deference and respect. Hardly. Somehow when I say, "Addison, clear your plate," and he responds, "OK, boss," it comes across as incredibly impudent and flip. And of course, everything Addison does Davis copies. I couldn't figure out where they got this from until one day while they were watching Looney Tunes I overheard Bugs say "OK, boss!" Great. So I tell them, "Don't call me boss. It's rude," provoking Addison to adjust the title to "boss mom." OK, I can live with that.

video

Sometimes I'm amazed that God chose to give me boys. Well, I'm sure he did it because I'm just about the least likely "boy mom" out there. All about growing and stretching me I'm sure. I like shopping and makeup and dresses. I don't wrestle or make loud noises. I often struggle to understand what makes my little guys tick. They're like puppies with this boisterous energy of which I wish I could have even a tenth. They have this innate ability to make accurate engine noises and a necessity to carry weaponry, even if it's just a sandwich gun.

The weather, starting today, is supposed to be amazing, going up to 89F (31C) by Sunday. Before lunch I took the boys outside to enjoy some of the sunshine and mild temperatures and to help them run off some of their energy. No sooner did we step foot outside --Addison's going to hate me in about 10 years for sharing this story -- then Addison shouted, "Mom, I have to go peepee." I didn't even look up at first, "OK, go ahead." Translation: go inside and do your business. I look up and there he is in all his glory, relieving himself down the back steps. "STOP!" I shout, "Stop! Stop!" He looks at me like I'm speaking Chinese, somehow unable to stop the stream. Instead, he moves it, now hitting a lawn chair outside, and then drops his shirt so that it takes a soaking. I shake my head and start to giggle at the utter absurdity of the situation and I give up, letting him finish. It was useless to do otherwise. After all, there's a garden hose just a feet away and the shirt can be washed. God, give me strength!

No, Evie didn't get a buzz cut today although her current hairstyle sure matches theirs. Thank goodness for my girl.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

She Grunts

So, I thought having a girl meant she'd sound like one. Not so. This girl grunts with the best of them. In fact, I have yet to hear a really girly noise come out of her. Where are the coos and squeaks? Is this what comes of having two older brothers?

Well, at least she looks like a girl, even if she doesn't sound like one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mourning Doves

Birds have been a bit of a recurring theme in this blog over the years. Now I introduce you to a pair of mourning doves who have built their nest just outside our kitchen window on the limb of our neighbor's cedar tree which hangs over our driveway.

We spotted them last week diligently working to construct the nest. Today, we've been watching them resting comfortably on it. Interestingly, both mother and father incubate and care for the young. We'll keep you posted once we spot the babies.

This afternoon Trey managed to capture a few incredible shots of the doves taking a break from the nest. I didn't know they did this. Here is one of them perched on a dogwood with another little critter, one of the many bunnies that populate our backyard, in the background.

Here they are together.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Modern Medicine

Davis wearing orange for Stellan.

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21.4

Thanks to all of you who covered me with prayer yesterday. I am completely serious when I say that I tangibly felt them. Sunday night I was in knots about everything, but I slept very well that night. In fact, Evie slept through the night again for me. What a gift! As Trey and I made our way to the hospital and I went through the pre-operative procedures, I felt calm and was able to smile and joke with the nurses. In fact, I got to thank the anesthesiologist who gave me the epidural with Evie. She actually remembered me due to our corresponding diminutive statures, and I have to give her kudos again for the least painful IV insertion I've yet experienced. She is quite a physician! The surgery took about 30 minutes and we were out of there by 12pm. Believe it or not, so far the discomfort has been significantly less than the pain I experienced from the cyst. This morning I woke stiff and sore, but now that I've had some pain medication and gotten myself going I'm feeling better. I have yet to survey the damage and am still holding out hope for some sort of reasonable belly button, but in the end I'm just thankful that this could be repaired.

Many of you know my ongoing love affair with the medical field. Trey always jokes that in another life I was a physician. I have this weird ability to remember random medical trivia. Like the other day we were watching House (yes, I also collect medical TV dramas), and one of the doctors stuck a needle into what appeared to be the patient's heart to drain fluid. Trey, aghast, asked, "Did they just stick that needle into his heart?" "No," I replied, "They stuck it into the pericardial cavity." No sooner did the words fly out of my mouth than I was surprised I even knew that. I'm a dork, I know.

I feel as though my life, lately, has been its own medical TV drama -- blood antibodies, pilonidal cysts, umbilical hernias, strep, childbirth, and although it's grown very wearisome, it has prompted a new appreciation for the gift of modern medicine. In my short time on God's green earth I have experienced a number of medical situations, which, had they occurred 100 years ago or even today in a third world nation, I would not be here now blogging. In fact, I probably would never have even been born because I was delivered by emergency c-section after 30 hours of labor in which I never entered the birth canal. I went into distress and had to be delivered immediately. If I had made it through, by some miracle, any one of a number of other ailments would have killed me along the way -- asthma, influenza, inflamed appendix, severe urinary tract infections, not to mention the perils of childbirth which today are eased by antibiotics, disposable products, pain killers, etc. Take my cyst for example. In another country without access to sterile medical instruments and antibiotics, it might have burst on its own or I might have succumbed to the infection and died a painful, slow death.

Today we take for granted that most parents will never bury a child. My great grandmother buried three of her five all before they had reached the age of 4. I vividly recall wandering the cemetery at St. Nicholas Kirk or St. Machar's Cathedral and somberly surveying the tiny tombstones of children lost hundreds of years ago before they ever even had a chance to live, often nameless, just marked with Baby Girl or Boy. How different our lives are today.

We've been watching the HBO miniseries John Adams. In one scene, Abigail, who is terrified of losing her four children to smallpox while John is off at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, chooses to inoculate them and herself against the disease. How did they do it back in 1776? The doctor would take a puss scraping from one of the pox on a near-dying person lying in a cart attached to his buggy, would make a small cut in the upper arm of the person to be immunized, and would then apply the pox matter into the cut. I was horrified and I have quite a stomach for this stuff. Only the day before I had taken Genevie to the pediatrician for her second Hepatitis B vaccine. A quick prick, a short cry, and it was all over. In fact, most of the vaccines we receive today are dormant varieties of the diseases, which will never induce symptoms at all. Barbaric, misguided practices like blood-letting or performing surgery on awake people are things in our past, and while we still have so much to learn, it is encouraging to see how far we've come. No one today worries about polio or smallpox, diseases which ravaged entire families and communities, and someday I firmly believe that our children's children will recoil in horror at the way we treated diseases like cancer with poisonous drugs that often killed the patient before the disease. They will recoil because those ailments will be cured and virtually unknown.

But what I really look forward to is that Great Day when there is no need for medicine at all because sin and its effects have been vanquished forever. While we long for that day, I would ask you to pray for MckMama's little Stellan, who is right now undergoing an incredibly risky heart procedure at Boston Children's. He is just 5 months old and has been experiencing severe and uncontrolled heart problems for 4 weeks now. You can read the whole story for yourself at MckMama's blog. She is something of a "celebrity blogger", but a real person nonetheless facing a situation I can hardly imagine. For all our medical know-how, this is one of those conditions that has baffled even some of the greatest medical minds and forces the realization that God is the actual giver and sustainer of life. We are but stewards of his gift, and when He calls us out of this disease-ridden, fallen world all the medicine in the world cannot prevent it. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God...For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." Romans 8.18-23

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sugery Tomorrow

I haven't mentioned it yet on the blog, but I bring it up now to ask for your prayers. I am scheduled to have an umbilical hernia repaired tomorrow. Even though it is a relatively simple, outpatient procedure, I have to confess that as the time has approached I've found myself more and more anxious about it, so I would really covet your prayers that things go smoothly, that the pain afterward is minimal, and that healing is quick. Since the whole cyst saga, I find myself really dreading all things medical. I am also anxious about the baby and the timing of her feeds.Trey will bring Evie with us to the hospital and some expressed milk for the hours I'm out of commission, but I still find myself worrying about the logistics. Trey is also taking a few days off afterward to give me the support I need around here since I am not supposed to do any lifting.

To fix the hernia, the surgeon will attach a 2" square mesh piece to my abdomen to reinforce the muscle lining. The operation should only take 20 minutes, and I will be at the hospital a total of about 4 hours, including post-op recovery. Hopefully, I will emerge with some sort of belly button once again, which has all but disappeared since my pregnancy with Davis. Perhaps I can convince the surgeon to do a tummy tuck while he's at it?

The Return of Date Night

I remember this happening when Davis was born too. A few weeks after the birth it dawned on Trey and me that the only time we ever spent with each other anymore was taking care of the children. We have both always been firm believers that our relationship takes precedence over that of our children. If we are not taken care of, then they will not be either. And so it was time to reinstate an old tradition we had back in Aberdeen which had fallen out of regular practice. Date night. There date night didn't always mean we'd get out since, without family in the area, babysitters weren't always easy to come by and, as a student family, funds were limited. We were more than happy to eat in, polish off a bottle of wine, and watch a show or movie together on the computer. Now that we're with my parents getting out is much easier, and so Friday night we had our first completely child-free evening since Evie was born and our first date since Valentine's Day.

The activity of choice was Galactic Bowling. I reserved a lane at 9:30 and, in God's gracious providence, I was able to get the baby asleep by the time we were ready to leave. What, you ask, is Galactic Bowling? It's just like the ordinary kind but with more bells and whistles, disco balls, UV lights, energetic music. Everything white looked fluorescent under the black lights, and although I suspect we were the oldest folks in the place that night, it was so refreshing to get out, forget about all our ordinary responsibilities, and just enjoy being together.

I am a terrible bowler and guttered every ball for something like the first 5 frames, but Trey proved a pretty good coach and my game picked up. I even managed a couple of spares and a lone strike. He broke 100 in 3 different games, which impressed me considerably since my top score was 76. Hey, you can't be good at everything.

We have a running list for future date nights -- miniature golf, batting cages, art museum, and no doubt we will return for more Galactic Bowling in the future. In the meantime, I leave you with a little taste of our evening.

video

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The High Middle Ages

Two Fridays this April, Trey has had the opportunity to guest lecture in the medieval church history course at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. It's been a welcome change from the grind of finishing the thesis to spend time in a completely different period of history and one which Trey has enjoyed studying over the years. One of his lecture topics was on the rise of the medieval university. The painting above depicts the University of Paris, considered to be one of the oldest universities in the world.

This is a painting of Thomas Aquinas, the quintessential scholastic theologian of the High Middle Ages.

And this one is Duns Scotus, Aquinas' philosophical rival. He was a Scotsman from Duns in the Scottish Borders. His reasoning was so subtle and his vocabulary so technical that subsequent generations used his name as the basis for the term "dunce," one like Duns Scotus, applied to those perceived as ignorant or thick.