Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Day

Top Ten Memories from Thanksgiving ’08 (in no particular order…)

  1. Spending two nights with 14 people in one house. There’s nothing that bonds family like spending time together in your PJ’s and sharing your bath towels.
  2. Watching four-year-old Sydney ballet dance in her Dora the Explorer pajamas.
  3. Daniel’s delight at getting up at 5 am to put the turkey in the oven. He has been the official cooker of the bird for years now. Without a doubt, he makes the best turkey I’ve ever eaten.
  4. Daniel’s generosity to get back up with Madeline at 6 am so that I could sleep in.
  5. Madeline’s first Thanksgiving dinner. She got to eat both turkey and ham and loves them both! Then she moved on to black beans and grated cheese – two favorites.
  6. Enjoying sweet potato casserole for the first time in my entire life. After having a traumatic experience with sweet potatoes at the age of four, I had not eaten them since. I decided to be a grown up this year and learn to like them as Madeline started to eat them. It worked! Cousin Jenny’s sweet potato casserole was yummy.
  7. The first annual Ping Pong Olympics, played to a soundtrack of “Gangsta’s Paradise.” I joyfully beat my cousin and then gave up a game to my mother-in-law. Can you believe it?! I’ve resolved that next year will be better. I am scheming a way to train between now and then…
  8. Getting to lay down for an hour after dinner while I waited for Madeline to fall asleep – one of the definite benefits of having a little one.
  9. Going through cousin Jenny’s handmade jewelry and picking out three awesome necklaces.
  10. Madeline joyfully watching her grandma, her aunt, and her mom do the chicken dance for her entertainment and clapping with us during the clap parts. Oh what fools we gladly make of ourselves to see the little ones smile. :)
And now a few photos:

My sister Rachel spent the day with us on Wednesday before we headed out to Owensboro to be with Daniel's family.


A very happy Daniel carving the Thanksgiving ham


Grandma feeding Madeline dinner in her too-cool Thanksgiving bib


Scott, Jenny, Madeline, and Grandma


Great Grandma with her three great grandchildren, four grandchildren, and their spouses


Madeline loves Aunt Emily


What a beautiful family! Jenny with Sydney and Isaacd


Isaac showing off his impressive hanging skills


Ping Pong Extravaganza! Emily is really good!


Madeline found the best seat in the house.


Happy Thanksgiving!



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let Us Give Thanks

I am thankful for my vibrant, squealing baby girl.

I am thankful that I have learned how my heart can grow as it is has filled with love for a child.

I am thankful that Madeline has two set of grandparents that are eager to help out with her at a moment's notice.

I am thankful for the quiet in my life now that I get to stay at home with M. I have time to think, time to pray, time to be. What a blessing.

I am thankful that I have a husband who spoils me, listens to me, and encourages me every single day.

I am thankful for my church family and for the honesty and the support that I find there.

I am thankful for my little piece of paradise in Pegram, TN.

I am thankful that I have learned and grown since this time last year. God must love me because he never ceases to teach me.

I am thankful that I have never ever had to worry about having food to eat, clothes to wear, or shelter over my head.

More than anything I am thankful for the unconditional love of a merciful God who has sought me, taught me, and healed me.

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.

Thank you, Lord, for pouring out your blessings on me and my family.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cutie Patootie

This is definitely one of my favorite outfits that Madeline has. I found these awesome pink camo pants at a consignment sale.



Have a good day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rethinking Christmas

Want, want, want. Buy, buy, buy. MORE, MORE, MORE. The call of consumerism. Every year around this time I start to get restless, disturbed down in my gut. Christmas starts getting closer, and we start hearing more commercials and seeing bigger crowds at the mall. We work on finishing up our list of things that will make us happier and more complete if only we could own them. Something deep inside me silently screams that this isn’t right. But every year I make my list too, and then I head to the malls to spend along with everyone else.

I was at a Christmas craft fair extravaganza on Saturday, and I felt trampled by the masses looking for something to want. Sometimes we run out of things to want because we have everything. So we go out looking for new things to want, trying to fill the emptiness. Wanting brings excitement to life. It seems there is always something new to be found.

So then we build onto our houses. We rent storage facilities. We move to a new neighborhood. All so that we will have room to store all of the new things that we have found to want. Wow.

So Daniel and I have decided: this year is going to be different. To the chagrin of all the economists telling me that the best thing we can do for our country is to max out our credit card this Christmas, we are shunning the malls and having A Very Crafty Christmas. We are making most of our Christmas gifts for others. Now that I am staying home with Madeline, we don’t have quite as much disposable income as we used to. I also have the incredible blessing of having more time on my hands. So I am showing my love for my family and friends by giving them the gift of time.

Too often I think we equate loving each other with spending a certain amount of money. But I believe that time is the truest gift of love. I find that it’s a lot harder to set aside time to spend talking, listening, and making things for each other than it is to just throw some money into a gift and call it done.

I Timothy 6:17-19
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”

So what does this mean for us? We are the ones he is talking about - rich in this world. We live in the richest nation in the world, and we are surrounded by excess. Yes, God gives us all we need for our enjoyment. But he intends for us to use our money to do GOOD. To share with others. To be generous. We have the incredible opportunity to store up treasure in heaven by what we choose to do with our money here on earth. (By the way, I highly recommend the book The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. It transformed the way that I view money.)

Our crafty Christmas is partly out of conviction and partly out of necessity. It’s not what’s right for everyone, but we feel like it is what’s best for our family. But I do challenge you to rethink Christmas this year. How about setting aside more time to actually spend with those that you love and spending less time at the malls?

In the meantime, let’s share the incredible abundance that we have with those in the world that REALLY need it. Check out the World Vision Gift Catalog, and give the gift of water, of food, of education, or of animals for the poorest in the world this Christmas. And take a moment to watch this video. I came across it on a friend’s blog, and it really says it all.


Friday, November 14, 2008

8 Months Old

A few milestones:

  • Madeline now has two teeth just poking through.
  • She sits very well, but still shows no interest in crawling. I think she knows that she has a pretty good thing going on since she has a team of people to wait on her most of the time. Why should she want to move herself?
  • She HATES being on her tummy for more than about 30 seconds. However, she still insists on rolling over to her tummy. Over and over and over. This is sometimes a problem during the night.
  • She is pleasantly plump, weighing in at somewhere around 21 pounds.
  • The girl loves her sleep. She sleep 11-12 hours each night and takes 2-3 naps per day, totaling about 3 hours of daytime sleep.
  • She will not tolerate being rocked to sleep. She wants to just be laid down and given her paci and blankie. 98% of the time, this is great. However, once in a while I wish she would be willing to just cuddle with me.
  • She has started eating chicken now, and she has yogurt almost every day. She likes pretty much every fruit that I have given her and most of her veggies.
  • She is an absolute joy, filled with smiles and spit and love. Every night as she lays in her crib, I stand over her and thank God that he has let me know her and love her for one more day.
Here are a few pictures that Daniel took the other day. Have I mentioned how blessed I feel to have my own personal professional photographer?







To see the rest of the photos, go to Daniel's website at www.dubois.smugmug.com/madeline

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

M-TV

Madeline-TV, that is.

So here is "The Dance."



Madeline loves to squeal, especially when she can hear it echo in a parking garage. I mean, wouldn't you? :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Laundry Room Is Done!

Five and a half years ago (has it really been that long???) Daniel and I bought a “fixer-upper” house in Pegram, TN. We were determined to not overextend ourselves financially, and there was not much that we could afford at that time. We totally didn’t know what we were doing when it came to real estate, and we didn’t even use an agent. How many times have I wondered: “What were we thinking?” When I say fixer-upper, I mean the real deal. The house had been lived in by a smoker. The carpet was not something you would ever want your bare feet to touch. The den and kitchen had parquet flooring, and the bathroom had linoleum with mold staining it from underneath. There was no central heat and air, and there was a hearth (no fireplace, just a hearth) in the kitchen where the woodstove used to reside. The day we brought our parents to see the house the owner had been hunting and had left turkey feathers strewn across the front yard. He had left his underwear on the floor of the bedroom too. They also wanted to know: “What were we thinking?”

Well, all of this added up to one really good real estate bargain. And five and a half years later, I must say that we have whipped the place into shape. We have invested blood, sweat, and tears (literally), and lots and lots of money into our little palace, and I am so proud of the way that it looks now. Our plan had been to live here for about five years as our “starter” house, and then we would sell it and use the profits to move up a bit. But after all the love and toil we have poured into our home, I am in no hurry to leave it in the hands of another. I love this house.

It is a blessing to us in so many ways. We live only a mile from our church, and so our home is very convenient for entertaining our church family. We have people over all the time, and we both love to do it. We have an acre and a half of yard, and I have had such fun landscaping and planting a vegetable garden every year. And best of all, our property backs up to the Harpeth River. We have a porch swing down by the river, and it serves as our own personal retreat center right in our backyard. We can have bonfires, we have lots of privacy, and we can see the stars. Oh, and Daniel has a barn for his woodworking shop. Pretty cool. And I can’t tell you what a tremendous blessing it is to live in a place that we can afford. We are not enslaved to our mortgage! We are free to travel, free to give, free to live. Praise God!

So anyway, this weekend we finished renovating the laundry room/mud room for the second time. We had painted, laid tile floor, and put up a cabinet on the wall the first summer that we lived here. It was certainly liveable. But now that we have the rest of the house shipshape, I wanted the d├ęcor to flow from the adjacent den and kitchen. Also since Madeline came along, we have been in need of more storage. We found a killer deal on some beautiful solid wood cabinets at Costco, and so we loaded up the truck with as many cabinets as we could fit into the room and got started.

Here are a few pix of our new and improved laundry room:

Looking from the den into the laundry room. The walls are greenish khaki. We had replaced the backdoor a couple of years ago. Doesn't the trim and crown molding look great? Daniel is amazing.

I found this awesome fabric at JoAnn's and made curtains and a cushion for the bench. I love my sign above the door! I found it at the flea market.

I got the rug at Target. It matches the curtains perfectly!

Cabinets by the back door.

And yet more cabinets! Oh, and my little constant companion. :)

This bench and shelf used to be white. Daniel made the storage shelf as a Pottery Barn copy cat. The bench came from my room growing up.

My dear grandfather painted this picture years ago - perfect for the laundry room!

And, of course, this post wouldn't be complete without a "before" picture:

Here is what it looked like when we moved in. Pretty big difference, huh?


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Three Firsts

#1

Last night as I was fixing dinner (veggie lasagna – mmmm…), Daniel was sitting at the table with Madeline in his lap. All of a sudden he said, “Hey!” I turned around, and he had an excited look of concentration on his face. “Just a second,” he said. I waited patiently until finally he said, “Yep! This is it! Madeline has her first tooth!” And, indeed, she does. A couple of months ago, I was feeling her gums all the time, expecting to feel a hard spot poking through at any time. But I had started to give up. At almost eight months, I thought that possibly she was just never going to have teeth. It has probably been at least a week since I last did a finger check for a tooth. But last night I got an explanation for the fussiness that I had dealt with all day yesterday. (Madeline has learned how to whine in the last week or so, and she has quickly become expert at it.) Suddenly I felt awfully bad that I had been frustrated with her yesterday. The poor baby didn’t feel well! So my girl is growing up. Her first tooth… Wow.



#2

Well, this discovery was followed in quick succession with another first experience. Madeline tried broccoli for the first time! I’ve read and planned and tried to do everything right when it comes to introducing your baby to food. I’ve done everything (well, almost) according to the book. I breastfed exclusively for six months. I have introduced only the recommended foods for each month. I have carefully kept her from anything sweet or salty to “ruin” her tastebuds before she learns to like the healthy stuff. All of this is supposed to guarantee that your baby will love veggies and live happily ever after without ever having cravings for all the junk food that we grownups love. That’s how it’s supposed to work. So far, I will say that she has liked almost every veggie that has come her way. But in the last week she has tried greens for the first time – peas first and now broccoli. Both of her parents love them. But Madeline, not so much. I mean REALLY not at all. However, mommy and daddy had a lot of fun with it. I know it sounds mean, but it was just too funny. And the best part is, we caught it all on the video camera. How many times have I said, “If only I had captured that precious moment on camera!”? Well, last night I did. Madeline made a terrible face, started to dry heave, and then actually threw up. It was great.



#3

M has learned to DANCE in the last few days. It is the cutest thing. She will sway her head and upper body back and forth, back and forth. She sometimes does it when we prompt her by doing it first, and she sometimes does it spontaneously. I love that dancing comes naturally to little ones. We grown ups (at least where I come from) have such baggage associated with the word “dance.” But children naturally know how to dance. It is an expression of joy! What fun to watch her sway with happiness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote!

By Daniel:

I, along with millions of other Americans, registered my vote for president last week. I brought Madeline along so she could get her first taste of the voting process which, as it turns out, was quite literal. While I was dutifully studying the paper ballot in front of us, she had gone into stealth mode and leaned in for a taste of democracy. If I’m honest, as long as this campaign has dragged on, I wanted to join her. Although given the look on her face, I gathered that ballots weren’t the tastiest things. Fortunately, I was able to stop her before her slobbers voided my ballot.


Once I felt confident that I understood the instructions, I placed the pen in her hand and wrapped her tiny fingers around it. I wanted her to help daddy vote. After convincing her that pens, too, were not for eating, we got down to business. As we sat there filling in boxes I realized that this election, unlike past elections, was less about me and more about this little person that was perched on my knee. The choices I was making would affect her as well. Through my vote I am responsible for the decisions that will shape her country. And so, I voted for the people I believe will make the best decisions—for Madeline’s sake.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun at the Park

Aunt Rachel was here for the weekend, and we had a picnic in the park on Saturday. It was one of those perfectly beautiful fall days - high of 70 degrees and sunny. The leaves are at their peak now, and so it was impossible to stay indoors.

Rachel teaching Madeline how to be cool.



Madeline loves to swing!



I took this video with my regular camera (not video camera). We will see how it works...



All the girls: my mom, my sister, Madeline, and me