Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"Time Flies: A Reading Diary, 1885" by Christina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, love divine;

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,

Love incarnate, love divine;

Worship we our Jesus:

But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,

Love shall be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and to all men,

Love for plea and gift and sign.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Really Good Day

It happened nearly 4 days ago, but hey! I get around to blogging eventually.

On Saturday, we celebrated Big Ben's 2nd birthday with his grandparents. We loved seeing his reaction to his gifts--all perfectly selected to bring out all the ooh's and whoa's in his vocabulary. I begged my mom to get him a pair of appropriated-colored Crocs so he would stop wearing R's old pink ones. He knew exactly what they were for and who they were for. He wears them all the time, including with his snug-fitting, too-tight, winter pj's. (Those were NOT made for my children!). The new cars, trucks, and race track from Mom and Dad and Grandparents Fleming were also big hits--with Dad, too. D enjoyed racing Lighting McQueen and The King over and over again, experimenting with switching the cars on the tracks, putting them backwards, etc. Boys are all the same!

The big winner--the easiest birthday cake I've ever made. I cannot take credit for the idea; I found it on FamilyFun.com, choosing it over the front-end loader cake made from Twinkies and pound cake. I am not super crafty and intricate icing is beyond me. So, this......

...became this: a dump truck cake--dessert and present all in one.

The face of concentration!

The kids were able to help make the ingredients the day before, using the meat pounder to crush Oreos and Nutter Butters for the rocks and gravel that top the layers of chocolate cake chunks and pudding. After filling him with sugar and trolling out new cars and trucks, we put the birthday boy to nap with a bit of protest. So mean.

The day ended with a date to see Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson and friends. About four years ago, we stumbled onto this sorta Christmas musical and rediscovered Andrew Peterson, who had hit the scene with Bebo Norman and Caedmon's Call years ago. We listened to the CD while traveling at Christmas and were amazed. It is one of the most creative works of art we've experienced--musically, lyrically, artistically (there are illustrations throughout the liner pages). AP takes the big story, THE story, of rescue and redemption that culminates in the incarnation of Christ at Christmas. The show, which we first saw two years ago, is incredible. It begins with the "Friends" showcasing their own works in a singers-in-the-round format. AP opened the show with "Hosanna" from Resurrection Letters. Amazing live! Then we got to hear songs from Jill Phillips, Andy Osenga, Andy Gullahorn, Bebo Norman, and Ben Shive. Andy G. (Jill's husband) sang "Holy Flakes" about a generic cereal that starts selling once they put a picture of the Pope on it. D was almost in tears he was laughing so hard. Jill sang from her new CD, All the Good Things, and had me in tears (the CD should be under the tree for me!). The title track recounts not only the "good things" in life that God blesses her with but all the events and tragedies that shape her character and teach her about God, the truly good things. After joining in with "Hosanna" as a congregation and then hearing Jill's beautiful voice praising God for all the good things, I was a pile of mush.

After intermission, the players and singers put on an intricate show of voice and instruments. I remarked to D that I was glad I knew the lyrics of all the songs because I can get lost in watching the musicians, seeing them play, seeing what instrument they pull out next--dobro, mandolin, lap dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, accordian, steel guitar. It was so great to sit there in a row of good friends, knowing what their year has been like and to absorb the lyrics: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away our sin," "O Hosanna! See the long awaited king come to set his people free." To have BTLG songs prefaced by the Resurrection Letters brought everything together. It's about God coming as man to die for mankind to rescue mankind.

A very, very good day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Speak, Ben, Speak!

Ben's 2 year old birthday is this week. I can't believe it! In many ways, he still seems like my baby: his pudgy cheeks, slobbery kisses, and lack of verbal skills.

On Monday, he and I went for a full developmental evaluation to see if he qualifies for any speech therapy. The Part C program in Florida is a last payer program that will pick up any costs one's insurance company doesn't cover. One therapist played and interacted with Ben while another asked me questions. Both women were extremely nice. We felt comfortable and listened to. At the end of the evaluation, Ben and I left the room so they could tally the scores and write up their report.

In all, his only area of concern, the one that falls below the average range, is his expressive communication. (His social-adaptive skills, like feeding, dressing, pottying, are also a bit behind but not drastic and well, he's a bit of an immature boy.) In order to qualify for aid, the child has to score a 78 or below on the test. Ben had a 76 in speech. The therapist then informed me that we qualify...to attend a parenting class (3 hours every Wednesday night for 12 weeks and its down on Michigan St.) on how to teach your child to talk. I wanted to cry.

All my irrational guilt about neglecting Ben, not reading enough to him, not paying enough one-on-one attention to him came flooding in. And I was indignant. I wanted to (calmly, of course) inform them that I was an educated educator whose four-year-old reads at a first grade level. I know what I'm doing! Right?

My mom pointed out the positive side; he's not that bad. And when GG babysat for me yesterday she told me I'm being humbled and maybe I'm just supposed to know how to teach from high schoolers down to toddlers. And that there could be someone God wants me to meet in this group of parents going through the same trials as I am.

I spent the afternoon working on Ben's book I'm making for him for Christmas. And we colored and drove cars around the floor, got through one nonverbal temper tantrum (I'm sure it was over Goldfish), did a puzzle, and had a nice evening together. I needed perspective and to enjoy my baby who is growing up and learning things and who will one day be able to tell me all about it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Devotions and the Undevoted

I have long, long struggled with keeping a daily devotional time, that so-called "quiet time." As a morning person, you would think I would attend to it directly but I've always found that I do a bunch of things in the morning--household tasks, answering e-mails, reading the news, etc. I don't naturally desire to sit and be quiet in the morning. And once small children are thrown in the mix, mornings are rarely quiet again. For a while, it seemed that no matter how early I set my alarm, one child or another would wake up fifteen minutes before the radio clicked on. Or, as I sat in the blue recliner, Bible in lap, I'd get two verses in before I heard the smack of bare feet on tile from one end of the house to the other. So, into my lap she goes, and I try to maintain concentration with thumb-sucking and humming in my ear.

This month, as we got out the felt Christmas tree Advent calendar of my childhood, I was determined that R and I would daily read our verse and message that corresponds to each ornament we placed on the tree. Each ornament reflects part of the Christmas story or a name or attribute of Christ or a lesson about God's Word. R eagerly sticks the ornament on the tree and will listen to the verse but squirms, puts her head in her lap, even rolls her eyes as we read the lesson and I ask her a question or two. And to pray at the end...pulling teeth.
So what have I learned? My child is just like me. And I should have started daily devotions at age 2 or 3 instead of 4 when I thought she was old enough. And to keep it simple and short. And to model better for the next kids in line. And to remember that talking about God isn't confined to our devotion time, but to eagerly watch for moments when I can direct my children to the God of the universe and the Christ who came to save. And to pray for her heart, and for mine. And to keep it up, tomorrow and the next day. And to give her grace, and some for me, too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I realized after reading Amy P's comment on the Dusseldorf post that I never officially announced that Baby 3 is on the way. Partly because we told our family and a few friends right before leaving for our trip (in fact I put some not-so-subtle clues in the instruction manual I left for my parents). And partly because I wasn't that far along and went to the OB the day before we left on our trip. But I am now 12ish weeks along, a revised date after a sonogram last week pushed my due date back a week--which is what happened with Benjamin. And we've all seen the results of that. So, I'm a bit wary of how big this one could be. My mom and I mused that maybe this one will surprise us and be a tiny, petite, little thing--and then we laughed. We make 'em big and we make 'em cute. The official due date is now June 13th, a week before my dad leaves for Costa Rica on a mission trip so maybe he'll be able to swing through here and take a peek at the newest grandbaby before leaving.
We waited to tell the kiddos until after the sonogram and were able to share the pictures with them (well, R, at least. B had his truck book and could care less). She was tickled! All giggles and smiles and confident that this will be a girl baby since we already have a boy baby. We pointed out that we already have a girl too, but in her mind she figures she has a little brother, now she needs a little sister. We keep reminding her that it could be a boy too, but she's keeping to the power of positive thinking. She has named the baby Nose, for whatever reason, which is why she will not have a vote in any future naming decisions. Of course, we do still need something to call Baby in utero since we don't reveal the name until birth. Any suggestions?