Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Tale of a Bouncy Seat

When Jeff and I were students in Israel--way back in the very early stages of our relationship--we had a friend there, one of the other students at the small school we were attending, named Debbie; and once upon a time, after Jeff and I were married and were living in southern California, Debbie and her husband Shawn came to visit us.  They gave us a gift: a cheery little bouncy seat for our firstborn baby, Josiah.  I flipped through an album earlier this evening and found a picture of Josiah in it when he was just a month or so old.
This morning I took a picture of Josiah with that same bouncy seat right before we walked out the door to give it to someone else.
Not much has changed in the last 14 years, right?  ;-)

Recently, I was looking around at a few baby items here in my house that Benjamin no longer uses, and I was thinking that it was about time to get rid of them.  And then when our violinist friend Ari happened to be in David's class at swimming lessons and I had the opportunity to see his mom again (something I used to do every week but hadn't this past year because Josiah and David didn't take violin lessons) and I saw that she had a tiny baby(!!!), I decided to ask her if she might be able to use this bouncy seat for sweet little Kai.  Was I ever thrilled when she said yes!  And what joy to take it today and hand it off to Ari and Kai's daddy and hear him say, "This is exactly what we need!"

It was exactly what we needed, too--14 years ago; but when Debbie and Shawn gave it to us, I had no idea just how useful it would be.  It's hard as a new mom to know, among the overwhelming amount of baby stuff out there, just what is truly essential stuff and what is kinda-nice-to-have-but-mostly-just-takes-up-space stuff.  This bouncy seat, it soon become apparent, was firmly in the essentials category; and every single one of our children have used it many times through the years.

Here's Benjamin when he was one day old...

Moriah when she was about a month and a half...

Shav when he was four days old...

Tobin when he was four days old...

And I'm certain I have pictures of David in it when he was a baby, too, but since I didn't blog then, I can't find them quickly.  I do, however, have a picture of David in it when it was supposed to be for Tobin...and Tobin in it when it was supposed to be for Shav...and even Josiah in it when it was supposed to be for Tobin.  :)  I've put my babies in that bouncy seat to feed them, and they've sat in it to keep me company in the laundry room and to enjoy the fresh air on our tiny front porch.  If I had more time, I'm certain I could scrounge up even more pictures of my children in that bouncy seat.

I'm sure Debbie had no idea on that long-ago day in California how useful her gift to us would be and how long it would last and how many times it would show up in the pictorial record of our family history!  :)

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday {No Wonder We Go Through Bread Fast} :)

 That's FIVE pieces of bread, with strawberry jam and Nutella between the layers.  Josiah is taking the ol' PB&J to a new level!  ;-)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

When You Love a Baby...

...nearly everything he does is precious.  Even the simplest of activities, like swinging at the park, has unspeakable value.  Why?  BECAUSE IT'S YOUR BABY.  :)
And watching him do something as mundane as opening and closing a toy laptop draws a crowd.  Why?  Because his delight in learning a new skill becomes the delight of the whole family.  :)

Also when you love a baby, it's fun to take selfies with him; and then later when you're looking at them to decide which one to include in a blog post, you end up using them all.  Why?  Because each of his expressions is so adorable in your eyes that you can't imagine leaving one out.  Even the goofy one.  :)

I sure do love you, baby boy!!!!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Puppies: Where They Are Now

Exactly six months ago, we had a big snow storm in our corner of the world.

I remember that fact, not because I have such a keen mind for weather history, but because on that extraordinary day, our dog Willow gave birth to 10 puppies!  How could I ever forget THAT??  :)

In honor of the half-birthday of those dear little puppies, I want to take a moment to provide an update on where they are now.  Actually, what I really wanted to do in honor of this momentous occasion was drive around to all the homes where the puppies are and give them each a nice bone to chew on--and give cupcakes to the people living in those houses.  :)  But since that wasn't exactly practical, I settled for sending some messages to the puppies' owners, inquiring about any updates or recent pictures they might have and might want to share.  Quite a bit cheaper and less time-consuming than bones and cupcakes and gas for the van to drive to all those places.  ;-)

So here, in the order that we gave them away, is a little info about each puppy.

1. Oliver/Finn - 3rd born, named by Tobin - We gave him to Jane, a friend that I met because she has a son in the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir with Josiah.  She was interested in getting two puppies, but came on Sunday, March 13, to get one to start with; and she chose Oliver.  No big surprise that he was the first one taken.  His looks were so distinctive that he was a mighty popular fellow!  :)  She and her family renamed him Finn, and we had the GREAT joy of visiting them in May.

2. Koda - 6th born, named by me - We gave him to Jen, a friend whom we first met when she coached David's soccer team when he was five or six.  She and I kept in touch through Facebook; and when she started homeschooling her children, we connected more often.  Quite soon after the puppies were born, she contacted me and expressed her interest in getting a puppy (they already had a female dog named Fiona).  She and her husband and their two kids came on Sunday, March 13, to get Koda; they decided to keep his name, which made me happy, of course, because I chose it.  ;-)  Jen sends me pictures and updates about Koda fairly often which is great fun for me.  :)  We also got to visit Koda once since he left us!  :)

3. Redemptress/Chara - 5th born, named by Josiah - A day after she got Oliver, Jane came back to get Redemptress; and I was thrilled to think that two of the puppies would get to stay together.  I think maybe it's been a little like having twins - double trouble? - but hopefully double the joy (the meaning of the name "Chara").  :)  And the pictures Jane sends me of Finn and Chara cuddling together (and with their people) are beyond adorable.  :)

4. Sheva/Thor - 7th born, named by Jeff - Ellie is the daughter of a couple who went to church with my family when I was growing up, so I have known of her for a long time, but since she's younger than me, I didn't really know her before.  I was so glad when her mom contacted me and asked to come visit the puppies one week after they were born.  Ellie and her husband came, too (and several times after that as well); and when the puppies were ready, Ellie came again on Tuesday, March 15, to get Sheva whom they renamed Thor.  :)

Along with these pictures, Ellie wrote this:  "Thor is super smart (he can turn off lights!) and it gets him into a lot of trouble (he figured out how to break out of his crate and is so proud of himself!).  But he is too sweet to be mad at.  He loves to give high fives and play fetch and he has overcome his fear of baths.  He loves everyone he meets and plays well with all dogs."

5. Sofia/Sophie - 8th born, named by all of us, I guess (we thought she must surely be the last puppy Willow would have, so we were talking about the word for "end" in Hebrew which is "sof"...that became Sofia...and then Willow went on to have two more puppies to our great surprise so Sofia wasn't the end at all!) - Our friend Sarai told me that she had a friend, Daniel, who was thinking about getting a puppy; and I added his name to the list I made of prospective new owners.  When his turn actually came, I wasn't at all sure if he would still be interested or if he might have found a puppy somewhere else that he got instead of waiting for one of ours; but sure enough, he was still looking for a puppy.  I didn't know him at all so, truth be told, I was a little nervous about whether he would be "good enough" for our puppies!  ;-)  But I was reassured by a few things: first, when he showed up on Thursday, March 17, he had his dad with him and seemed genuinely interested in his dad's opinion about the dogs (any young man who is humble enough to seek his dad's wisdom quickly rises in my opinion of him!).  Second, I later found out that a lady I know also knew him because of her son wrestling with him, and she had good things to say about him.  And third, my friend to whom we gave Mystery happened to see Daniel out walking with Sofia not long after he got her, and she stopped and had a nice chat with him.  So all of that put my heart at ease.  :)  Daniel decided to make a slight change to her name, and she became Sophie.  :)

In these pictures, Sophie was hanging out with Scout, Sarai's dog.

6. Mystery/Remi - 4th born, named by David - I had known for quite a while that Kristy, a friend of mine from about 24 or so years ago, was interested in a puppy; and she really loved the classic brown puppy look of Mystery (and her look-alike Koda).  David was REALLY hoping that Kristy would get Mystery, and we were ecstatic when Kristy brought her family to visit on Thursday evening, March 17, and ended up choosing to take Mystery home with them!  :)  After much family discussion in their household (and even lots of suggestions from Kristy's Facebook friends), they decided to give their new puppy the name Remi.

7. Bolt/Chip - 2nd born, named by Shav - Maretta and I were friends in high school and had reconnected through Facebook, and she had watched the puppies grow up through the pictures and videos I posted.  Bolt was a crowd favorite (especially because of his funny habit of falling asleep in the dishes I used to give the puppies their food)  :), and Maretta and her family (she's a mom of three great boys) were the lucky ones that got him, coming on Friday, March 18, to pick him up...and he was lucky to get them!  :)  They named him Chip.

8. Jubilee/Emily - 9th born, named by me - Eight days after the puppies were born, a friend of ours from church, Dana, came by with a young boy, Skyler, that she and her husband are special mentors of; and although I think they enjoyed seeing all the puppies, Skyler was particularly drawn to Jubilee.  A few weeks later, Dana texted me because Skyler was asking about Jubilee; and I sent them some pictures of her.  Dana's name was on the list of prospective owners; but when I got to her, for a number of worthwhile reasons, she declined getting a puppy.  Time went by, however, and I continued down my list of people who were interested in a puppy; but no one chose Jubilee.  And then suddenly on Monday, March 28, Dana contacted me; and as it turned out, Skyler was going to be able to get a puppy, and wouldn't you know, Jubilee was still here!  It wasn't hard to see the hand of God working to reserve special little Jubilee for special little Skyler, and it brought tears to my eyes to see it all work out like that.  Skyler renamed her Emily.  :)

9 & 10. Princess/Coraline - 1st born, named by Moriah - and Judea/Paige - 10th born, named by Jeff - During the two months that we had the puppies, quite a few people had contacted me about possibly getting one; and I kept a very organized list and went down it, letting people choose as their name came up.  But eventually, we got to the end of my list; and at that point, one of Jeff's customers, Jerry, let us know about a friend of his, Dixie, who was looking for a puppy.  She and some of her family came to our house on Monday, March 28; and when she arrived, she ended up taking Princess for herself and Judea for her younger brother.  Princess got the new name Coraline, and Judea became Paige!  And just like that, the puppies were gone.

Gone, but not forgotten.  Never, ever, ever, ever forgotten.

Happy half-birthday, dear little puppies who aren't so little anymore!!!  :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Two Favorite Words on a Summer Evening

Beckon and linger--the two words which best describe these long, laid-back summer evenings.

After the heat of the day has receded and the sun's brilliance has diminished to a gorgeous temperance, the outdoors beckons to me to leave the supper dishes and leave the laundry piles and leave the homeschool planning and leave whatever else needs done inside and come out into the open air.  It's nearly impossible for me to say no.

Some evenings I am practical and motivated, donning a pair of old dirty garden gloves and tackling weeds in the flowerbed while Benjamin sits in his stroller and watches, occasionally being given strolls up and down the driveway by one of his siblings or a neighbor.

Other evenings are for swinging, with Benjamin in his swing and me on the one beside him, or perhaps with Jeff, Benjamin, and I together on the bench swing.

Many evenings are for watching the children play together as the evening light slants across the yard, their imaginations creating roads and houses and gas stations and adventures.

Evenings are good for looking at the sky.  We've had so many pretty sunsets this year; but even before the sunset, there is often beauty to be found when we look skyward.

And of course, one of my very favorite things to do in the evenings is take faithful Jed for a walk, up and over the hill of our neighbor's lane.

As the light fades and night creeps closer, I often hear a voice inside my head say, "You should take the baby in for a bath now," or "What about those dishes waiting for you?"  But the voices of the birds winging overhead on their way to a nearby forest, and the voices of the leaves rustling in the wind, and the voices of the freshness of the evening air, and the other voices outside urge me to linger.

Usually I give in to them.

Soon enough, the evenings will be chilly enough that we won't want to be outside so much.  Soon enough, we'll spend them in the cozy living room, warmed by our trusty woodstove.  There is joy in that.

But for now, oh the joy I receive from lingering outside as evening turns to night!