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Thursday, December 25, 2008

For Unto Us a Child is Born

Verity decided that Christmas was a great time to be born. After four hours of steady contractions, we called the doctor and headed in to the hospital late last night. Seven hours later, Verity was born.

They even gave her a cute Christmas hat to commemorate her famous birthday. One friend of mine said, "She'll have to learn real soon that she'll be overshadowed by Jesus on her birthday."

Here is a photo with Cindy, our excellent nurse. She was very helpful and supportive. God always sends us extraordinarily kind nurses.

Praise the Lord Jesus for our precious daughter!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Some News

We went to the doctor today, and we had some encouraging news, but not enough to make me think Baby V is in any sort of hurry.  We couldn't get scheduled to be induced next Tuesday, so it's looking like Wednesday will be the last day.  Which, if you check your calendars, is New Year's Eve.  Looks like we could possibly have a 2009 baby.  I'm still praying she comes on her own before then, but we'll be patient with her if she doesn't.  

I'm past due and there's not a lot going on around here 2 days before Christmas, so this afternoon I made curtains and a throw pillow for the guest room.  Unfortunately, I don't have a curtain rod so I couldn't hang them after they were made.  I have to think that picking up a curtain rod from the store is easier than actually making the curtains, so I'm not too concerned about the next step.  I'll post pictures when they are actually on the wall.  

Tomorrow afternoon we're going to head to my brother's house in Durham to spend Christmas with my family - at least until Baby V shows up.  It's about equidistant from our house to the hospital as it is from their house to the hospital, so we're not any farther away in case we need to make a speedy return.  And Charissa will be staying with them while we're in the hospital so we might as well get her there and all set-up for when we're gone.  

You may not hear from us for the next few days if nothing happens.  But if there's any baby news, we'll be sure to let you know.  We hope everyone enjoys their Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Due Date Fun

Well, Verity decided that she didn't want to make her entrance into the world on her due date.  I'm actually a little bit thankful for that.  Charissa and I both got stomach bugs over the weekend and spent two days out of commission.  Even though I really wanted to see my little baby girl, I knew that it would be safer for her to stay put until Charissa and I were better.  Which we now are - so she's free to come any day now.  

Today we celebrated Christmas together as a family.  We do stockings together every year as just as our family.  Britt has two whole weeks off of work, and today was the first day of our Christmas vacation.  So this morning we got up and had a special breakfast and then dug into our stockings.  Charissa really enjoyed going through all the "socks" and finding all sorts of goodies.  

It seemed appropriate for Charissa to wear her Baby Claus outfit today.  This outfit is a little big, so it makes her look even skinnier than she is.
Here she is "helping" me open my stocking.
And now helping Daddy take out his new Dr. Scholl's.  
Reading her new "Go, Dog, Go" book.
Trying on our new bracelets.

It was a pretty fun morning.  We spent the rest of the day doing some house-keeping things (you have to stay on top of that when your baby is expected at any moment), and running a few errands.  

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment so hopefully we'll hear some good news.  Either way they'll go ahead and schedule my induction while I'm there tomorrow, so at least we'll know when the end is.  It'll be nice to know that by X day we'll have our baby.  I'm still praying that she comes on her own though.  And soon!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mama's Little Helper

I love shopping with Charissa.  She is by far my favorite shopping companion.  Today we went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to try to find fabric to make curtains and throw pillows for the guest room.  I had a little piece of paper that had a paint sample on it that I was trying to match fabric too.  I bent down once to compare it to a bolt of fabric and Charissa bent down next to me, cocked her head to one side, and said, "hmm..." as if she was really considering whether or not it matched.  I explained to her that I was looking for a match and handed her the paper, and she happily trotted up and down the aisle holding the piece of paper out to all the bolts of fabric.  It was so cute!  She was really trying to be helper to me.  

On the way home we had a conversation about CJ teaching Verity how to be a big helper just like Charissa was.  She's starting to get really excited about Baby V, especially now that all of Baby V's things are out and her car seat is in the car.

Only a few more days!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baby V Update

I went to the doctor yesterday for my 39 week check up and at the end I was told I needed to come in the next day (today) for an ultrasound because according to my measurements Verity hadn't grown much in the last four weeks.  Thankfully, when I went in today EVERYTHING was fine.  Verity is measuring just a few days behind, but according to the technician she is weighing in somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 pounds - so she's definitely a nice weight (and not too big!). I was able to see a 4-D image of Verity and she has nice chubby cheeks just like Charissa did.  And she has hair!  The tech couldn't tell exactly how much, but she could see it moving in the amniotic fluid.  How exciting!  So maybe we'll get to use hair bows sooner with Baby V than we did with Charissa.  

Hopefully we'll be able to see Baby V soon (I'm praying for Friday) and check out the little chubby cheeks and hair with our own eyes.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Me & My Baby

I think I only get to call her that for another week or so ... then she'll get relegated up to the title "Big Sister" (which in her own words comes out "Bid Sit-ter" - pray she doesn't sit on Verity!).  

I'm so rarely in pictures with my little girl, so I just had to share this one with you from when we were getting ready for the Baby Sprinkle last weekend.  

I had put on my wedding tiara to tease Britt that I was just bringing the price-per-wear down, and so it made total sense to wear it.  Of course, I was kidding - I would not wear it ... outside the house.  But I love how in this picture you see some corresponding attributes between me and CJ - even if it's just in the silly way we posed.  

Turns out, she's not all Britt after all.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No News Is ... Well - It Means Nothing Is Happening

Some of you are probably wondering what's going on with Baby V since there are only 11 days until my due date.  But don't worry - you haven't missed anything.  Nothing is going on here.  I went to the doctor yesterday and they confirmed that nothing is going on.  In fact, I was told that I'll probably go to my due date or a few days late.  There was a twinge of disappointment, but then I realized that I don't want to have the baby this week, so I'm ok with it.  If I had my way, she'd be born on the night of the 19th or the morning of the 20th.  Britt's last day of work is the 19th and he doesn't have to go back until the 5th, so it would be perfect if Verity would come at the very beginning of that.  But all of this is completely out of my control, so who knows what's going to happen.  She will be born in 2008 though - that much I do know.  

We are getting ready for the little girl's arrival though.  We've washed all her clothes and blankets and socks, we've set up the swing and bouncy seat, I got out all the bottles, and hopefully this weekend we'll install the car seat.  So far Charissa and Verity have their bags packed for the hospital/spending the night with a friend, but Britt and I are still unpacked.  Another task for this weekend.  

This past weekend we had a wonderful "Baby Sprinkle" with lots of our friends and family.  The shower was Christmas themed so there were all sorts of Christmas treats and music.  We received adorable baby clothes, toys, a picture framed painted to match the girls' room, and a tutu.  A lot of our friends pitched in together to get us the Ergo Baby Carrier which I am so excited to use!  Hopefully it will help me balance carrying an infant and chasing after Charissa.  My parents and grandparents gave us a Joovy Caboose Stroller - a much needed item for two!  Some other friends of ours pitched in and gave us 3 months worth of Netflix - isn't that a wonderfully creative gift?  It's winter, you're stuck inside with a newborn - you're bound to watch a lot of movies.  And with the instant downloading and getting them in the mail, you don't even have to run out to the movie store!  

Pray that I continue to have patience with these last few days.  It's not that I'm uncomfortable or feeling terrible, it's just that I'm running out of things to do.  And I can't really plan any projects because I don't want to have half-finished projects waiting for me when I get home from the hospital (or a mess to clean up).  But I guess in a way it's good because it means Charissa and I have lots of time to just hang out and play together.  

Only 11 more days ... keep us in your prayers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Recommendation - A Thousand Splendid Suns

Yesterday I decided I was going to just rest during Charissa's nap time since my opportunities to do that are quickly fleeting.  So I curled up on the couch with a slice of freshly baked banana bread and started Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns (He's also the author of the much acclaimed Kite Runner, which I haven't read yet).  It's completely engrossing.  I finished the book during today's nap time.  

The book follows the lives of two women from Afghanistan from the mid 50s to the present.  I felt like I learned so much about the culture, history, and hardships.  But it was weaved into the story so wonderfully that it didn't feel like a history lesson.  I was fascinated from about page 3 all the way to the end.  I think the thing that was most riveting for me was that one of the women from the story was born a year or two before me, and as her story was told  I kept thinking what I was doing at that age, and how life was so different for her.  The author included the year at the beginning of some chapters so you could follow the timeline and you realize that these things happened recently - not twenty or thirty years ago.  The atrocities against these women were very real and very recent.  There were many portions of the book that I just cried through.  And then when I got to the end, I just sat there and cried some more.  

I strongly recommend reading this book.  I now really want to read The Kite Runner.  Add one or both of these books to your holiday reading schedule!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Use Craigslist

This morning I was reminded of how much I love Craigslist.  We sold something this morning and I was thinking about how easy it was to post the "junk" I wanted to get rid of, find a buyer, and make money.  It's great!  And everything is free to use - unlike ebay or a listing in the paper.  Craigslist is really useful for those things that are a little bit too valuable to take to the local Goodwill.  And with it being local, you don't have to worry about shipping costs and making sure the item gets to the buyer. 

Basically you just go to, find your city (or the city closest to you), create a login, and then post your item under the appropriate category.  And then there's the fun of waiting for dozens and dozens of responses from people who are really excited to get whatever it is you're trying to get rid of.  Like in October when we listed our old fridge and within 24 hours I had received over 50 responses from people wanting it.  Ridiculous!  

And, it's a great resource for finding quality, used items.  We've bought a jogging stroller, a bookcase, a booster seat, and many more.  With no bidding, no shipping costs, being able to quickly and easily talk to the seller (and barter for the cost), it's a great place to look for all sorts of things.  So take a look - you might find a really good deal!  

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What A Change a Year Makes

Tonight we had Britt's assistant principal/mentor over for dinner along with his family.  We had a great time getting to know them and the kids played so happily together (they have two little boys who are 4 and 16 months).  They are also believers and were such an encouragement in how he does his job, how she cares for their children, and how they interact with each other.  

Last year at this time, Britt and I were dealing with a vindictive boss who was extremely hard to work with.  It was not a good situation.  Things are so different now!  There is so much support and care for Britt professionally, as well as just being able to enjoy a genuine friendship between the two men (and I'm sure his wife and I could be good friends if we saw each other more often).  

We have been so thankful for this job, and tonight I was shown yet another reason to give thanks.  It makes such a difference in our family that Britt is able to go to a job that 1) he likes, 2) his co-workers and bosses are supportive, and 3) that the company does an amazing job of appreciating and rewarding their employees (in addition to providing for them with incredible benefits).   

It was a good night. :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

All Things For Good

When I was in college I taught a Bible Study to a group of girls 2 years younger than me.  The semester that we studied Romans was an especially fruitful one for me, and hopefully for the girls in the study.  I vividly remember the night that we studied Romans 8:26-28 :
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
We were discussing the passage when one girl started sharing about the death of her grandmother and the intense pain that followed, but how she was able to see God moving in her family and bringing her unbelieving relatives to know God.  She cried and spoke of praying for her grandmother to live and not understanding God's reasons to let her die, but only a few short months later she could see much fruit from tragedy.  One by one, many girls spoke of how God had done much good out of the ashes of tragedy, loss, and despair.  

This past August some friends of ours lost their precious baby boy.  We knew a few weeks before that his life was in jeopardy, but we prayed and petitioned that God would show mercy and spare his life.  The night Asher died started a week of agonizing pain and mourning for me like I had never been through.  I still cry almost every time I think about their loss.  

In the midst of all this suffering, I watched our amazing friends lean steadily on the Lord for strength and comfort to get through each moment.  They were honest about their pain, but they continued to rely on the sovereignty of God and their faith (as well as many, many others) was strengthened incredibly.  

That was in August - 3.5 short months ago.  This week, God placed a baby girl into their arms.  They had just started the process of applying to adopt through the foster system, when they were chosen by a mother.  It's an amazing story of the faithfulness of God. Our tears of mourning have turned into tears of rejoicing.  

I can't really do justice to their story, so you should just go read it yourself.  

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Depend Not On Thy Retailer

I was flipping through the lastest Land of Nod catalog last week and I saw a very distressing sight:

It's a card board box.  They are selling a card board box in their catalog!  Not only are they selling it, but they are selling it for $90!  Seriously?  Now parents are supposed to buy card board boxes for their children to play in?  I thought the whole joke was that you bought an expensive present that was in the box and then the kids liked the free box more.  Now you can skip that whole process and just buy an expensive box.  

Has no one thought of going to Sears and asking for an old refrigerator box?  Kids can make a play house out of that.  And paint on it.  And make a door.  And windows.  And it's free.  I'm very distressed over this.  It's as if parents have given up on being creative and making presents or at least finding cheaper alternatives.  I just cannot fathom paying $90 for a card board box.  

I do, however, really like the idea of a play house that is completely collapsable.  And I will probably be searching for my own free card board box soon so that I can make it for CJ.  But I will not be buying her this one.  

My tip today is to not be so dependent on retailers and manufacturers.  They show us an ad, we think "I must get that item for myself or ____", and then we go out and purchase it.  Where is the fun in that?  It's so much more rewarding to think through gifts that would bless someone and then actually have a hand in creating it or forming it.  Even if you don't make any part of it, just knowing that you haven't given a generic gift is a huge reward.  And toys are a real temptation with this.  But I don't want my girls growing up having the exact same set of toys that their friends do.  When I see something I like, I try to think how I can reproduce it myself to give them something that is personalized and tailored for them.  Yes, there is more work involved than if I just went to the store and bought it, but I have a much more satisfying end product (and it's usually cheaper).  

Ok - I'm off in search of an empty, free cardboard box for the taking.  When I finish, I'll show you my results.  

Monday, December 01, 2008


Today I am 37 weeks pregnant, which means I'm full term!  Theoretically I could go into labor any day now and everything would be fine.  With that said, I fully expect to go another 3 weeks.  But it is nice knowing that I'm that much closer to actually having our baby.  

I guess in celebration of "term day" Baby V decided not to let me sleep.  Maybe she's trying to get me ready for her arrival when I'll be up with her during the night a lot.  Oh well.  

Ok - I'm going to try to get some more sleep.  Maybe I can get in another hour or so.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For a Moment in Time ...

During community group on Wednesday nights the kids meet at our house for "kids' community group time" - or childcare time. It was Britt's and my turn to watch them this week and we accomplished something miraculous - all the kids were sitting and listening to the story at the same time! I tried to capture the moment on film, but of course one of the kids moved right when I took the picture. But you get the idea.

They are all getting to be so big!  When this community group formed 3 years ago, no one had any children.  Now we have 10 and Baby V will make 11.  That's quite a growth.  Makes you wonder what the next 3 years will hold. 

Family Funtivities!

Britt had the day off, and we were looking for something out-of-the-ordinary to do, so we went swimming. It's much more fun to go swimming at the end of November because you know you're not really supposed to be swimming - it's just unnatural to go swimming when you have to wear a coat and hat. The pool was really nice, but it was a little on the chilly side. I think if we had actually been swimming laps we would have been just fine, but a certain small Treece hasn't mastered the breaststroke yet.  But we stayed for a little over an hour and had a lot of fun splashing and swimming around.

Here are a few pictures:
I'm not sure why she has crazy eyes in this picture, but it's the only one with me in it. 

I would definitely recommend going to the indoor pool during the winter season.  Just one tip: check to see when the heated pool is open to the public and go during those hours.  It'll make it a little bit more comfortable.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Plan for Fun

A couple weeks ago I became really convicted that I don't plan fun activities to do with Charissa.  I often plan "learning activities" and "teaching moments," but I don't plan to do things just because they're fun.  Don't worry - we have fun.  There is much giggling and laughter in the Treece household.  But I don't plan for it - it just happens throughout the course of our day.  And some of you may be wondering why I'm concerned about planning for fun if I know it's already happening.  Well, I think it's about being intentional to pursue a good, close, and fun relationship with my daughters.  I don't want to just be the mother who teaches them things and provides for their needs, but never seems to care if we enjoy each other.  Hopefully the girls will have fun with me doing all of our normal activities (cleaning the house, laundry, running errands, cooking, etc.), but I want to be careful that I plan activities just for the purpose of having fun.  We have family fun time, but I want the girls to know that their Mama seeks to have fun with them too - not just when we're with Daddy.  

So lately I have been trying to make sure I plan playtime with Charissa.  Time where I focus on her and we play a game or read a book or go for a walk ... something that says "I'm all here for you" and something we'll enjoy together.  Well, to be honest I'm more focused on whether or not she'll enjoy it because by that 5th time through "The Wheels on the Bus" I'm ready to hide the book and never find it again.  

I know that this is going to be hard to continue doing once Baby V is born, but even if it is less frequent and we only get one or two good playtimes in during the week, I want to be sure that it's the inclination of my heart to have those times.  

If anyone has any good suggestions on fun playtime activities, I'd love to hear them!  

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun Pregnancy Games

When you hit the last few weeks of pregnancy your belly gets really big and the baby starts to get a little crowded in there.  Britt and I have invented a fun game just for the occasion - Guess The Body Part.  When Baby V is moving around or lodged somewhere we can feel her really well, we try to guess what body part it is that we're feeling.  Sometimes it's really obvious (like with feet), but most of the time it's just guessing.  I think we guess "hiney" a lot (that's the word we're teaching CJ for buttocks).  

Other fun end of pregnancy games include:
  • Guess How Many Times I'll Get Up Tonight
  • What's She Craving? (bonus points if the food is offered)
  • Toenail Painting: How Many Ways Can You Scrunch Yourself Up to Try to Paint Your Nails
  • Does This Shirt Still Fit?
Enjoy the end of pregnancy!  It'll soon be over and you'll forget all the fun of having a baby in you.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

Somebody LOVES Jell-O

I think the pictures pretty much explain it all.

I don't know why she looks angry/growling in these pictures, but she really does love Jell-O.  Her hands, arms, face, and neck was all stained a nice red color.  It took much scrubbing in the tub to get her back to a normal flesh color.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Old Becomes New

Britt and I have been cleaning out our closets, drawers, shelves, etc., over the last few weeks.  I think it's part of my "nesting" and getting ready for Baby V to come (and making room for all her stuff).  Well, when we went through Britt's drawers he found a couple tshirts that he can't/doesn't wear anymore but he couldn't bear to get rid of them for nostalgic reasons.  So we made a deal - I took the tshirts and cut them down to make CJ-sized shirts.  

So if you see Charissa wearing a shirt that looks familiar, it's because it is.  Now the little girl has a few new sleep/play shirts and Britt's tshirt drawer is much roomier.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Do not lay up treasures on earth ...

... where toddlers can pee and poop on them.  

Last week I bought a new down comforter for the duvet on Charissa's bed.  It was the last piece I needed to complete the girls' bedroom.  I debated putting it on her bed thinking "what if she gets it dirty?" and doubting if she'll even sleep under it.  I finally decided to put it on her bed and we've been working on sleeping under the comforter.  

This morning I go into her room to get her up and discover that she's peed and pooped through her clothes and thus onto all of her bedding.  And since she was on top of the comforter, she messed up every layer of her bedding set.  The first thought that went through my head was "You just soiled $400 worth of bedding!!"  Not exactly the loving-mama response to a dirty child.  

I realized shortly thereafter how much I was valuing her bedding and keeping it in pristine condition - which is just ridiculous.  So I apologized to Charissa for my attitude towards her and her accident this morning.  They are just things.  They can be washed.  They can be replaced.  They can even be stained.  

I'm glad I had this little reminder this morning to help me keep perspective on our possessions.  I'm sure with the addition of Baby V I'll get many more reminders like I did this morning.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

35 & 35

Today is an exciting day!  I am 35 weeks pregnant with only 35 days to go!  Hard to imagine that I only have 5 more weeks until my due date.  And, I'm now the next one in line to have a baby at my church.  Now that two women had their babies on Friday, everyone else's due date is after mine.  That might not sound significant to anyone outside our church, but there are so many preggos at TCC.  In a congregation of about 150 members we've had something like 14 babies born in 2008 - so far.  And 2009 is shaping up to look similar.  

There's still one baby left on the 2008 calendar though.  Pray Baby V comes in 2008 and doesn't hold out for 2009!

Face Lift

When Britt started this blog a few years ago he set up the layout, colors and all that jazz.  Well, soon after CJ was born I took the blog - it was a peaceful revolution.  Now after almost two years, I decided that I should change the look of our blog to something a little bit more "me-like."  

Ta-da!  What do you think?  Snazzy, no?  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

S'mores Fun

While we were at the grocery store this afternoon Britt decided that he wanted to make s'mores tonight.  One certain individual in our family thoroughly enjoyed them.

She definitely got a bath afterwards.  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping Busy ...

I'm exhausted. Charissa and I had a very busy day. We ran errands all morning and into the afternoon (bank, Dillard's, Belk, Archiver's, AC Moore, Jo-ann Fabrics, Wal-Mart, and Aldi's), then while she slept I worked on sanding and puttying the walls in CJ's bathroom because we're putting up a new shower rod. Then Britt's mom came over for dinner, and I left Charissa in the safe hands of her Rere while I went to a 31 Party that my friend Casey co-hosted. Then when I got home I finished the bathroom, made a mock-up of Verity's birth announcement and then made a new bow holder for all of Charissa's bows. I'm sure there are more things that I did today, but those are the ones that come to mind. We were so busy that we didn't have time to think about how much we missed Britt. Which was the whole goal.

Here's some pictures of the new bow holder:

I needed a new place because she's getting a lot more bows and I was tired of not being able to see them all.  I have a lot more - I just put a few on there for demonstration.  

Ok - I'm going to go crawl in bed and go to sleep.  By this time tomorrow my hubby will be home!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane ...

Today Britt left to go to a training seminar in Michigan for the next few days.  He had a half day of school, so we were able to hang out in the afternoon and go to Observation Park at the airport before his plane took off.  We had a lot of fun and Charissa really enjoyed watching the planes take off.  I think it also helped her understand "Daddy is getting on a plane and flying away."  I don't think I'd go to the park just with Charissa, but I would definitely go with some other kiddos and have a picnic or something.  Planes don't take off every minute so you need something else there to be be entertained by while you wait.  

So the girls and I have a couple days to hang out while Daddy is gone.  I've planned girlie movies to watch, projects to work on, and errands to run while he's gone so that I'm busy and don't just count the hours until he gets back. I'm not sure that's going to help CJ though.  But her Rere (Britt's mom) is coming over tomorrow night so that might help.  

Just pray Charissa doesn't have a complete meltdown in the next few days.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Gift Giving to Men

It's that time of the year again - the time when you realize you have 10 to 20 to 30 people to purchase meaningful, useful, and in budget presents.  Is there a harder task?  It seems that every year I'm scrambling to find something that will make the recipient happy and know that I love them, but also not break the bank.  This year I started early.  WAY early.  July to be exact.  And except for my husband, I'm done with every single person on my list.  And my husband is pretty easy because he's completely selfless and would be just as happy if I gave him a picture and said "I love you".  I wish everyone was so easy!

But it wasn't easy. Especially not for the men in our families.  I always struggle to find good gifts for men.  For some reason I feel like the options are more limited.  I mean, women love to get clothes, but do men really love to receive a new shirt?  And there's always jewelry for girls, but what's the male equivilant?  Tools? And who can afford to get new power tools for all the men in their life?  

So here are some tips I've found along the way that might help any of you that are still struggling with finding the elusive perfect gift for a man.  Remember - not everyone falls in these little categories, so you might not be able to use all this advice for everyone.  
  1. Think Function, Not Sentiment - Men tend to think of gift giving in terms of an exchange of goods.  For women, the meaning behind the present is usually just as important as the actual gift - this isn't the case for men.  A man is probably going to appreciate an item that he can hold on to and use.  
  2. Listen to What He Wants - If he's been saying for the past 3 months that he would like a certain book, or new tennis shoes, or a day of golfing - it's ok to get him that exact thing.  You don't have to go out of your way to surprise him with something "he's always wanted, but didn't know it."  He'll be just as happy to receive the thing that he knew he wanted.  The key is to pay attention and buy the item he wants, not the item that you think he should want.  
  3. Think of His Interests - If he's really into sports, get him tickets to an event you know he would like to attend.  If he's into history, get him a book on a topic you know he likes.  It he likes sailing, get him a boat.  Ha ha - just kidding.  Maybe you can get him something to do with sailing - like a book, or lessons, or a life jacket.  
  4. Avoid Generic Token Gifts - This actually applies to both men and women.  You never want to give a gift that says "I took little effort in getting you this gift."  If it's a gift you could give anybody, then it's not for a special someone.
  5. Make It Something Fun - While some men enjoy practical gifts (I'm related to a lot of them), most men want a gift that's fun.  The key is finding something that the man will use, but that will be fun to use.  
I hope this was helpful for someone.  I'm still learning a lot about gift giving, but this few guidelines really helped me this year.  

Enjoy the pleasure of blessing others this season!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Curiously Strong, Curiously Addictive

Guess who loves Altoids?  My little Charissa.  We were at the DMV today renewing my license, and Charissa was pretty hungry, but they have several huge signs that say "No food or drinks."  But mints don't count as "food", so I gave CJ an altoid to distract her while we waited.  And then she wanted another.  And another.  And another.  She kept saying "Pwesh mendt?"  

Silly little girl.  I guess I should get more and more used to her liking grown-up things.  

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Too Far

My toes that is.  Yesterday afternoon I realized that I needed to paint my toenails and I worked and worked and worked and huffed and puffed and finally got all the old nail polish off.  But then I was too tired to go through all that again to repaint them, and for anyone who read my post on October 29th where I gave you 7 little known facts about myself, you already know that leaving my toenails unpolished is simply not an option for me.  So I asked my wonderful, loving husband to help me.  What do you think?

I think he did a great job.  But I am looking forward to being able to reach my toes without feeling like I can't breathe.  Only six more weeks!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday Night Funtivities

Charissa and I decided that we needed to have a family fun night tonight.  We planned games and things to do while Britt was at work and we were ready once dinner was over.  We only got to do two of the things I had planned, so I'm saving the others for another night.  

We started off with a little family bowling in the kitchen.  We had six solo cups set up like pins and used two nerf-like balls as bowling balls.  Charissa thought the game should be played by going right up to the cups, throwing the ball at them, and then kicking whatever cups dared to still be standing.  It was pretty funny to watch.  And she was really good at setting up the cups after each round, so I never ended up having to do that.  Unfortunately I took no pictures of this event - hopefully we'll do it again and I'll remember the camera.

After bowling we finger-painted!  We had so much fun.  And it became clear that none of us are painters.  But that doesn't matter - we enjoyed ourselves.  I did get pictures of the finger-painting.  

If you ever paint with a small child, I recommend them being naked.  It's just easier. 
Doesn't she look like she's really considering her next move?

Charissa's beautiful artwork ...
Britt's beautiful artwork.  When I asked him to "tell me about his painting" he explained that it's the African Sahara with two trees and an alligator between them and then a lake at the bottom.  I think he could make it as a finger-painter.  

We had a lot of fun just hanging out together as a family and playing.  I'm so thankful for my wonderful husband and precious little girl.  They bring so much joy to my life.  And, now my refrigerator proudly displays our artwork.  It's a happy home.  

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Don't Even Know This Kid ...

This is a picture my mom took this weekend while we were at her house.  Does that even look like Charissa to you?  I mean, of course it does, because it is her.  But yet, she doesn't look like herself. I think she looks too grown up.  But still cute.  

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Trusting God Through the Election

I vividly remember the 1992 election between Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.  So many Christians were talking about what would happen if Clinton was elected and all the doom that would surely happen.  I had just seen the movie Serafina, which is about Apartheid in South Africa, and I was certain that if Clinton was elected we were soon going to be in a situation like that with gang violence in the streets and fear everywhere.  Well, Clinton was elected, but no one bombed my school or threw bricks through the windows of my house, or arrested anyone in my family.  I was rather shocked.  All my fears had been for nothing.

Some of those same fears have been reappearing in the last few days.  I was up in the middle of the night last night (as usual being 33 weeks pregnant) and I could not stop thinking about the election.  I laid there in bed and prayed for a long time.  Praying for voters to vote wisely, praying for whichever person was elected would do good and not harm, and praying for my own heart that I would trust God through it all.  

I know a lot of people have a link to this brief message by John Piper on their blogs, but for those of you who haven't heard it I'm posting it for you.  It's only 5 minutes so it won't take up a lot of your time.  It helped me have some clarity in how to handle my emotions today.  

And here's a short article by Albert Mohler on Prayer for America on Election Day.  He goes through things that we can be praying for throughout the day.  

I hope that you vote today, but more importantly I hope you trust God today.  

Monday, November 03, 2008

Taking the Time to Enjoy Her While I Can

This past weekend we went to my parents house to hang out with them and my aunt and uncle and their two girls.  It was a busy weekend of family projecting, but we had a good time with everyone and I was really glad for the chance to hang out with them before I'm homebound with an infant.  

My mom has a new love for the Mamma Mia! Soundtrack, so we listened to that a couple times over the weekend.  And yes, there was much singing and crazy dancing.  Some by Charissa, some by the adults.  There is a song on the soundtrack called "Slipping Through My Fingers" that the mother sings about her daughter growing up and becoming an adult.  Every time I hear it, I cry (of course I do have a lot of pregnancy hormones rushing through my veins so some of the emotionalism can be attributed to that).   It's such a beautiful song and it does capture a lot of what mothers feel about their children growing up.  

I know that I am a long ways off from having Charissa or Verity leave home, but I know it will pass by so quickly.  Charissa is already almost two, and I have a hard time believing it.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be at home with her everyday and have the time to enjoy her.  And these last few days I've been doing a lot of that.  We've had some extra-special mama-daughter time where I've really tried to be focused on her and love on her.  This is probably compounded by the fact that in 7 short weeks I'll no longer have just one to focus on, and while I'm so excited about Verity, I know I'll miss that one-on-one time.  

Here are the lyrics to the song, but you really need to listen to it to get the full effect.  So watch it on youtube. 

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I'm losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see whats in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when shes gone there's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can't deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
(slipping through my fingers all the time)
Well, some of that we did but most we didn't
And why I just don't know

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers...

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who Stole My Baby?

And left me with this toddler?

She's pretty cute though.  Maybe I'll just keep her.  

In all seriousness, I've really seen some maturity in Charissa lately and it's been so neat to watch.  She's really no longer my baby, but a very active, curious, sweet little girl.  I am thankful that we're having another little girl soon because I'm starting to miss the baby phase.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I was tagged by Nicole - a friend from church. She mandated that both of us have to make our own list ... she's a toughie. And let's just say that my last was done WAY before Britt's. Apparently things like "work" and "seminary" get in the way of his ability to make a list of little known facts about himself.

The Rules:
  • Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog
  • Share 7 little known facts about yourself on your blog
  • Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs
  • Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
  1. I love the show FRIENDS. I have all 10 seasons on DVD and I watch through them one episode at a time from the pilot to the very last season. Of course it takes a long time to do this because there are 1) a ton of episodes and 2) I don't sit around watching TV all day.
  2. In my lifetime I've tried ballet, tap, soccer, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, interpretive dance, softball, volleyball, piano, recorder, violin, trumpet, and percussion. I'm not good at any of them.
  3. I hate leftovers. I won't eat them unless it's something especially amazing (like Thanksgiving leftovers ... or pizza). Fortunately I have a husband who loves taking leftovers to work for lunch, so I have no problems with wasted food.
  4. I love lists. I make lists for everything. Grocery store shopping list, things to do for the week, present ideas, things to get for Verity ... anything that has more than one thing I need to remember gets a list. And I have a notebook that I write these all down in and if I were to lose that notebook I might go a little crazy in search of it.
  5. My toenails haven't been unpolished in probably 10-13 years. I hate to have unpolished toenails, so they are always done - even in the winter. I know that it can discolor my nails, but I figure I never leave them unpolished so no one will know!
  6. I love musicals and operas. In fact when I was 5 that was pretty much all I would watch. Phantom of the Opera is my favorite.
  7. My mom and I have the exact same hands. If you took a picture of hers and one of mine you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Our fingers curve at the same places, our nails are shaped the same, and we both have slightly reddened skin due to eczema.
Britt's List (he came up with the list, I'm writing them out):
  1. When he was in high school, Britt was asked to be one of Joseph's brothers in the school play. However, they discovered that his "acting out" in class didn't transfer to the stage, so he got to be another brother with less lines.
  2. Britt was valedictorian of North Raleigh Christian Academy. That's right - he was #1 of 37 students.
  3. In college, Britt and two of his friends formed a rocking Christian band called Fairbanks. They spent about two years together practicing, playing, and touring the countryside. That's a literal "countryside." They went all of North Carolina's small towns and played shows. And then they have a Germany tour. If you want a CD, that can be arranged.
  4. Britt loves to build things. Any chance to get his drill out is taken. If we end up never having boys, I'm sure Britt will get little pink tool belts for the girls so that they can help him.
  5. Britt suffers from poor circulation in his hands and feet. So often he is cold when it's not really that chilly. In fact, this August I had the thermostat set at 74* and he told me that he was cold. Ridiculous. Unfortunately, we think CJ takes after him so now I live with two people who are always cold and they get to determine the thermostat setting since I'm outnumbered.
  6. I'm going to make a lot of women jealous when I say this - but Britt is an unbelievable bathroom cleaner. He gets it cleaner than I do. It's amazing. Now, I don't often ask him to clean because I feel like it's not his responsibility, but when I do I always get great results. He gets all the corners and it's just spotless.
  7. Britt loves The Office. I liked it first and talked him into watching it with me. He didn't really like it for a while, but then all of a sudden he loved it. I think because he's worked in a place that has some similarities to the characters and situations on the show.

Okay ... that's all from us. Here's who we're tagging:
  1. The Sylvesters
  2. The McInnises
  3. The Normans
  4. The Powells
  5. The Houstons
  6. The Richardsons
You can each answer, split the list, or just one of you answer. It's up to you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Back it Up!

Britt and I recently bought two new laptops and we're very excited to have (for the first time in our marriage) new and working computers.  It came at a really good time too, because our old lappy finally kicked the bucket last week and now it absolutely refuses to turn on.  

We've hard some very difficult times with computers in the last few years and I think we've learned some valuable lessons about patience with technology (it will breakdown eventually) and how to be prepared when your computer does break down.  Here is my advice: back it up.  If it's important to you and you ever want to see it again, back it up.  You never know when your computer is going to get a virus or fall off a counter or have coffee spilled on it.  It's best just to play it safe.  

Since I'm not in school or working, there are very few documents I make that are critical.  It's mostly just pictures.  So now I have a new plan.  Well, I've had this plan for a long time, but I've never been able to implement it due to having computers with faulty CD drives.  On the first of every month, I'm going to burn all of the previous month's photos onto a CD.  For instance, on November 1st, I will burn all of the pictures I took in October of 2008 onto a CD.  That way, if anything happens, I haven't lost all my pictures.  Today I spent all of Charissa's naptime organizing our pictures and burning them onto CDs.  I can't tell you how happy I was to finally have that project done and how happy I was knowing I couldn't lose them.

Along with last week's Tuesday Tip, I do have the eventual goal of putting the picture CD in a scrapbook at the end of that month's pages.  Wouldn't that be nice?  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Somewhere Between Strawberry Ice Cream and Cotton Candy

Oh it's pink.  It's crazy pink.  When we found out we were having another girl, I went a little crazy for the pink.  We finished redoing Charissa and Verity's room and here are the results:

I'm sorry the pictures are bad - but I'm not a very good photographer.  But this will give you an idea.  My family came in and helped paint the room and put things up on the walls.  It's so nice to be done with it long before Verity ever comes.  

I do sometimes think about what will happen if we end up having a boy instead of a girl.  It'd be kind of a rough beginning having only pink clothing and coming home to a pink room.   

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some Days You Just Start Off Wrong ...

I'm not sure if Charissa fell off the bed, or got down at some point in the night, but when I went to go check on her this morning, this is what I found:

Poor baby bundle.  Later when I checked on her she had climbed back in bed and didn't let on that anything had happened.  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Verity Has a Future in Banking!

My sister-in-law sent me a text message last night that said "Did you know Verity has her own credit union?  I have the picture to prove it!"  

So I googled it (which, by the way, "google" is an actual verb now) and found out that Verity Credit Union is a Washington state based bank where the motto is "Where You Truly Matter." 
I'm wondering if our Verity can get a free checking account there.  Or maybe a job when she's older.  

So if you live in Washington and need a credit union, I know of one now.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Just Don't Get It ...

You know when you're reading a recipe and it says "Prep Time: 10 minutes" and you think "Yes! Exactly what I need tonight."  Then you realize that's 10 minutes of prep if you have the chicken already cooked and diced, the vegetables peeled and chopped, etc., etc..  And who's done that already?  So that "10 minute prep time" suddenly turns into 30.

If I were to write a cookbook, these would be my rules:
  • Always include a COLOR picture with every recipe.  If it was a complicated recipe, I'd include pictures for each step.  
  • Prep times would be honest - which would include chopping time.  
  • There would be an entire section dedicated to spices and what foods go well with them.
  • I'd also include a glossary to explain those weird cooking terms.
But I don't think I'm ever going to write a cookbook.  I think you have to know more about cooking than I do.  Unless it was a really short one.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Keep a Journal

I've caught myself saying to Britt or my mom, "Oh Charissa did the funniest thing ... what was it?"  And that's usually the same day the event happened.  I can't imagine how much I'm going to forget in the next 5 years, let alone in 20 when Charissa actually wants to hear these stories (or her significant other will).  So I started a diary to keep track of all the funny things she does and says and the significant moments and milestones.  I thought about writing it in a book, but then I realized I would never sit down and actually do that, so I'm keeping it on the computer.  In my greatest hopes, I'll print it out every month and include some of the entries with the pictures and mementos that I scrapbook.  But I'm just taking it one step at a time.  

I just keep thinking of what a valuable gift this will be to my children.  To have detailed (and dated!) memories of their childhood to look back on when I can't remember or, God forbid, I'm not there to relay them.  Hopefully, I will start sitting down a few times a week and record events and stories so they aren't lost due to my poor memory.  And think of all the fun we'll be able to have at her teen birthdays, special occasions and when her future husband says, "do you have any funny stories about Charissa from her childhood?"  How great will it be to have stories all typed up and ready for those occasions?  Oh what fun.  :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Review - The Three-Martini Playdate

I read a really funny book last week.  It's called The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting by Christie Mellor.  She is an actress and writer who has a refreshing perspective on parenting and a child's role in the family.  Now, I have to qualify my review by saying that 1) she's not a Christian so some of her methods I don't agree with, and 2) she recommends drinking and smoking way too much.  

To get a taste, here are a few chapter titles:
  • The Childproof House: How to Know If You've Gone Too Far
  • Screaming: Is it Necessary?
  • Diaper Bag or Steamer Trunk?
  • Preschool: The Fast Track to Harvard
  • "Children's Music" : Why?
  • Karate, Little League, and Ballet: Your Child's Eighty-Hour Work Week
I laughed through the whole thing.  Mellor has a very dry sense of humor and I just loved her responses to our culture's method of parenting.  She actually recommends saying "no" to your children and setting limitations as well teaching them right from wrong without worrying that you'll crush their self-esteem.  

It's 140 pages of light reading that you can probably finish in 2 nap times.  I completely recommend it to all parents as a way to laugh at the struggles we all go through in parenting.  And you can get it from the public library!  So there's no excuse not to go out and read it immediately.  


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Giggles, Giggles, Giggles

Last night we were all playing in Charissa's room after dinner. We played with the puzzles and read books and created and destroyed many block towers. A very fun playtime. I was laying on the floor as I was feeling especially tired, when Charissa came over and asked to kiss Baby V. Kissing Baby V mostly just involved CJ putting her face against my stomach, but it's the thought that counts. Well, for some reason, last night she decided that Baby V needed raspberries (where you blow and make that funny noise) more than kisses. It was hysterical! We didn't even know she was capable of blowing raspberries. Since we laughed every time she did it, she just kept doing it. Britt and I laid on the floor laughing, and Charissa would blow, and then raise her head and giggle. It was so much fun.

It was a wonderful family moment.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Just Try It

Everyone remembers their mother saying at some point, "Try it ... you might like it." The "it" could be a new food, or a new game, or a new friend - there were lots of "its" over the years. I feel like we need to keep telling ourselves that even as adults. There are lots of things that look scary or too complex or not appetizing, but we should have an adventurous spirit and attempt the unknown!

Last night I was telling my mom how thankful I was that she got me a sewing machine for Christmas. It was a gift I never would have asked for, and never even thought that I would use. Less than a year later, I use my sewing machine ALL the time. It's ridiculous. I never would have thought that I would love it as much as I do. I think if you asked me I still wouldn't say that "I love to sew", but I love that I can. I love that I can make things for my home or my daughters ... or just fix something. I mean, it took some serious effort in the beginning and I had to read the owner's manual (twice), but I'm not scared of a sewing machine anymore.

Sewing is really just one example and not the thing I am encouraging everyone to try (unless you want to). Be bold - try a new recipe! Make your own wreath! Try your hand at painting or knitting or gardening or canning. Don't limit yourself. Think of something you've always wanted to do and pursue it. Do some research on the internet. Check out a book from the library about it. Ask a friend. Ask your mom.

What's the worst that can happen when you try something new? You find out you don't like it. And then at least you know you tried.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I am really enjoying C.S. Lewis

I've been reading Mere Christianity and Letters to Children (both by C.S. Lewis), and they have just been so encouraging and rewarding. I didn't really plan to read them at the same time, but I'm so thankful that it worked out that way because I get to see two very different sides of Lewis. In Mere Christianity he defends the basic beliefs of Christianity and explains them in ways that are both mind-blowing and simple at the same time. While it's not difficult to read, the subject mater is weighty and often I feel I have to reread portions several times to fully understand what he's talking about. Well, not fully understand ... maybe just "get the idea." But Letters to Children is so different! This is a collection of letters that he wrote in response to letters children sent him, mostly about the Chronicles of Narnia. But they're so cute! You can just tell that he loves children. He writes very passionately to them about their pets and their drawings and whatever it is that is on their mind. It's a side of Lewis that I'm not sure I ever would have picked up on if I didn't read this collection.

I will leave you with this great quote I read yesterday in Mere Christianity. He says, "There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance." This is from a chapter on sexual morality, but I feel that you could replace "sex instinct" with a lot of other worldly desires.

Seriously - I think everyone could benefit from a little C.S. Lewis in their lives.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Preparing for Two ...

I think there is some sort of rule that if you have two girls close in age you have to dress them in matching clothing at some point. To make sure I follow said rule, I made these dresses:

I know these pictures aren't the best, but for some reason I was really having trouble (the camera wasn't - it was me). I had purchased this material on a whim because I liked it so much, but it's been sitting in my closet for the last 8 months with no purpose in mind. So I decided I would make the girls some jumpers. I probably have enough material left to make myself a jumper, but I draw the line there on matching clothes. I don't even like to match with Britt (although he really does and I think he tries to do it without me catching him in time to change).

Little girls are so fun to plan for! I am so thankful I have girls ... even though in ten years it's going to turn into drama, drama, drama.