Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Club: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Last month, my book club read Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. It's a true story or memoir of Nafisi's work as a professor of English Literature in Iran. After she leaves the university setting, she selects seven of her most committed female students to come to her house every week for two years and study literature that has recently been forbidden.

They study books by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James and Vladimir Nabokov. I can't get into the literary focus that Nafisi shares in her book but it seems that each of these Western authors reveals a new aspect of the oppression the women are under during the revolution and war with Iraq.

I actually didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped I would. It took a long time to even feel like I understood what was going on. It was a little hard to follow. The last half was more interesting and had more action because the bombings had started and each family was deciding whether to stay or flea the country. The parts I enjoyed really had nothing to do with the literature they studied.

I have to say that I did learn a lot about the revolution. Since I honestly didn't know anything about it before. So, I can't give you the urgent "read this book" that I usually do, but I am glad I finished it!

Tattoos on the Heart

A good friend recommended I read Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle and I'm so glad I did. I don't typically read gang-related books (maybe I just don't come across them often?), but this one was really good.

Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit Priest and founder of Homeboy Industries -- a nonprofit that comes along side men and women who want to leave their gang-life and provides services like tattoo removal and job placement. They've started a number of businesses for the purpose of employing them too which is really neat.

He shares personal stories and thoughts about his work and what he has seen in the decades of loving the unlovable. There were so many times I wanted to underline the sentence I had just read but it being a library (and me reading it at the gym) didn't give much opportunity to log the quotes I loved.

I think my biggest take-away from the book as a whole was that we are called to love everyone. No matter how different they might be from us. Every single person has value and worth. And when people see their value/worth for the first time it can bring about a lot of change. Writing that seems easy enough but doing it is really entirely different.

Boyle gives a lot of really great stories as examples of how he shows love to gang members in LA. There are many changed lives because of the work he does. His stories are also covered in heartbreak as well given the demographic he works with (oh so many funerals).

Of course there are theological thoughts he shares that I don't quite agree with and I'm unclear if he actually gets to share Jesus with his "homies" as he calls them so they are given an opportunity to receive salvation; I have no doubt in my mind that they see Jesus in the work of Father Boyle though and feel the love of God coming through him.

Reading the book revealed to me my own boundaries I have around myself and others and how I withhold compassion, love and even forgiveness -- and as his subtitle indicates, boundless compassion is powerful. So powerful.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Stephen's Dedication Day

Photo credit: Matthias Giezendanner

Our little guy, Stephen was dedicated in church this past Sunday, September 3. Chris's dad was in town and I'm so glad we could do it while he was with us! Pastor John Lloyd, who has been our pastor for nearly a year led the service. 

A dedication is a covenant we make with God in the presence of our congregation. It isn't something that provides salvation for Stephen or forgives his sins (he will have to make the decision to believe in Jesus and follow him on his own. We have prayed and will continue to pray that he makes that choice early in life!). The dedication is just us as his parents (and Bob as his Grandfather) standing up and proclaiming that we will do our best to share the gospel with our son, teaching him who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him. And asking the congregation to be a part of his spiritual journey. 

Photo Credit: Matthias Giezendanner
Both of the boys did pretty well up front. Of course the 15 1/2 month old was a bit fidgety but he had randomly taken a morning nap that day so he was actually in a decent mood! 

Photo Credit: Matthias Giezendanner
Chris was tasked with holding the mic but at one point, Stephen reached for it too! It looked like he might actually say something but tried to bite it instead!

Photo credit: Matthew Ronan

Praying over Stephen with our congregation was really special. I love the photo above and below because it's a glimpse of the people that love our son and care about his salvation! (as well as the support we have in this journey!)

Photo credit: Matthew Ronan
At the end the pastor prayed, "Gracious God, giver of all life, may your blessing be and remain upon this child; keep Stephen always in your love, that he may grow wise and whole. Bring Stephen safely through the dangers of childhood and temptations of youth. Lead Stephen to personal faith in Jesus Christ and to be Christ's faithful disciple throughout his life. May goodness and mercy follow Stephen Christopher Babiak all the days of his life." 

My heart sang an "Amen." And then Chris did the proud dad-lion thing: Announcing Simba Stephen!

Photo credit: Matthias Giezendanner
After the service our good friend Matthias followed Stephen outside and took the most adorable photographs! I just can't get enough. Here are two of my favorites:

Photo credit: Matthias Giezendanner

Photo credit: Matthias Giezendanner
Ghah! Isn't he just the cutest! I love this little baby-man. I'm so glad the suit fit that my sister sent us and the shoes we had actually fit and even matched!

Stephen we love you so very much and trust God for your salvation. I'm so thankful he has given you to us and pray I would be the mom you need me to be. I look forward to watching you grow in knowledge and love of Jesus.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer Reading and Sharks

Once again, we were excited to join the SF Library and their Summer Reading Program. William has been participating every summer of his whole life, making this his 4th one. We took it slow in filling up our reading chart with stickers but that's just because I wanted to drag it out as long as I could. Otherwise it would have only taken a few weeks to read 20 hours to this one. Aunt Shannon spent a week with us and spent hours and hours reading too! It helps that William likes longer books now.

He turned in his reading chart and took home a really nice canvas bag, reading-ranger badge and the biggest smile. We read so many great books this summer. My favorites included "My Father's Dragon "and "Elmer and the Dragon." Chris has been reading the Chronicles of Narnia at bedtime and William loves that too. We read the Mercy Watson series and a lot of Fly Guy books. It was also the summer of discovering "Tiny Titans," a comic books series of kid-sized side-kicks.

Mid-way through the program William's name was drawn and he won a ticket to the Aquarium at the Bay! It was just one adult pass but both kids got in free. I'd been waiting until the school year started in hopes of not having to deal with crowds.

We finally got to use the pass the last week. We all had colds and runny noses and couldn't be with our friends. It was a chilly day and not a great one to be outdoors so we packed up the car and drove across town in the morning commuter traffic and got there right as they opened. Not a crowd to speak of!

It's a pretty small aquarium (if you compare it to something like Monterey Bay!) but had an amazing tunnel below the tank to walk through and see tons of sharks, large fish and even schools of tiny ones. The boys also really enjoyed the otters. I should say, William enjoyed the otters a lot. Stephen preferred to play with the emergency exit, the handicap door opener and the opening to the otter habitat. I was able to watch the otters for a few seconds!

Outside the aquarium are the famous sea lions of Pier 39 which of course we had to stop and watch for a while. I haven't seen them in nearly 5 years I think. (I never make it over to the pier obviously!) The boys loved them and it might have been the highlight of the whole morning.

One the way back to the car, we stopped for one last photo with the sea lion statue. Of course, neither child looks like they had any fun at all but honestly, William was crying that very moment about leaving. All he wanted was to go back! "Can we come back after naps?" "Can we come back tomorrow?" "When will we come back?" It was really enough to make me say "Never!" But I knew the morning would be challenging and tried to calm him down with reassurance that we will come back some day. (Is that ever a reassuring thing for a child?!)

What about Stephen's reading chart you ask? Well, Stephen is very different from his brother and not interested in books very much. I tried all summer to get him to sit with me for even the shortest books and it just didn't happen. I'm happy to say he is more interested now than he was in June but we weren't able to complete the program with Stephen. Hopefully next summer he will be ready--and excite--for it! Stephen's favorite books right now are all about trucks! Actually, just pictures of trucks.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Road Trip to Washington: The Family Vacation Part

We arrived at our friends Rob and Mariza's home on Friday evening, just before dinner. The kids were exhausted but also hyper. We took some time to catch up with our friends, get situated in their spare bedroom and eat together before tackling bedtime. The four of us were in one room (a giant room, not like the spare rooms seen in SF!)

Saturday morning we all drove into Portland to get breakfast. We left at 8:30, arrived at 9 and stood in line at Screen Door for 90 minutes to be seated. Just like in Portlandia! My husband is excellent at entertaining the kids while we have long waits; I am not. They were having a blast playing with the sign near the entrance and I didn't think anything of it until I overheard a parent of a toddler say something about how dirty/unsafe it was. I didn't say anything at the time but I noticed that her sweet, silent, 17 month old girl didn't talk, move around or play anything during their entire wait and I just realized that we have different children. Very different children. 

Okay, but as I type this, I am realizing that none of the other children in the restaurant behaved like ours . . . so maybe this is an issue?!

The area of Portland we were in was beautiful. Big trees, wide streets and quiet. It was lovely. The food at this place was excellent too. Known for their fried chicken I got a fried chicken sandwich called a "cat head" because it was that big and it was covered in sausage in gravy. It was awesome. William ate a few bites of his "short stack" of pancakes (3 six-inch pancakes . . .) and Stephen ate some oatmeal. William spent some time laying on the floor under the table. I decided not to worry about it. I was on vacation and enjoying my breakfast. We were thankful that after this long wait the kids did as well as they did!

Our original thought was to walk downtown with the kids but after breakfast and seeing how tired the boys were, we decided to head home for naps. I even fell asleep on the couch!

We started Sunday morning at Bridgetown church. I've heard this church compared to Reality SF (a church in San Francisco that I have never been to), had a younger audience, modern/alternative music and a pastor in a white t-shirt and jeans. The message was all about loving your enemies (Sermon on the Mount in Matthew) and seemed very culturally appropriate. I really enjoyed it the whole experience. The kids had fun in their children's church/daycare.

After lunch/naps that afternoon we headed to the park to get some time outdoors. It was comfortable weather, not really hot and not cold. Perfect, really. There was a softball tournament going on and William loved watching it and shouting "I can run fast. I'm the fastest" and running back and forth along the fence. He joined some other kids playing softball (with a toy bat/ball set) but really didn't understand the concept of throwing the ball back to the pitcher. We'll have to do some work!

Sunday night, our friends stayed in with the kids so we could go out on a date! We headed to downtown Portland which we were surprised to find that on a Sunday night was absolutely deserted--except for the two restaurants we were recommended - they each had a 90 minute wait! So, we wandered around the closed shops and quiet streets until our time came to get some dinner. It was nearly 9:30p.m. when we got our food! I think that is the latest date on record for the two of us! The restaurant was called Tasty 'n Alder and was delicious. I were so hungry that we ordered twice as much as we needed. (See the size of that doggy bag below?!) But lunch the next day was covered and oh, so very tasty!

As is the usual with our boys, when we stay out too late, they wake up too early (and too often). We all had a rough night but put on our happy faces and special sun glasses to see the eclipse on Monday morning. 

We went back to the park we had been to the previous day and found a great open green area. The skies were clear which was a gift because they had been very hazy the past two days and we had a clear view of the solar eclipse. William loved wearing the glasses and looking up. He loved talking about it and narrating the movements of the moon.  

It was really interesting to watch - amazing really. It didn't get as dark as I had anticipated but it sure got cold! If you see the color difference in the pictures above/below, you can see how the light did change. It was the most bizarre feeling. Everything became very flat and dark but not black. It was a little eerie. 

I'm hoping William remembers this experience! If he doesn't, Chris has some great video to show him!

Monday afternoon Chris took the boys to the mall to play in their children's area and look at the pet store. I rested and read a book. That night we got packed up and went to bed anticipating the long trip home. Our boys were also a bit anxious it seemed since Stephen woke up at 3 a.m. and wouldn't really go back to sleep. William wasn't able to calm back down either. We decided to pack up and head out early.

And if you are interested in knowing more about the road part of our road-trip, you can read it all right here.

It was really great to reconnect with our friends Rob and Mariza and hang out with their 10-month old daughter Eve. They had been part of our church community for a number of years before their recent move. Sadly we weren't as connected as we would have liked once we had kids which made spending four days with them extra awesome. Thanks friends!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Road Trip to Washington: The Road Part

Last Thursday I loaded our single stroller with a 1 year old, a diaper bag, a bag full of books, toys and snacks and a third bag filled with last minute things that didn't make into the suitcase that was already loaded into the car (like the baby monitors, sleep sacks, and lovies) and requested my almost 4 year old walk by my side to the car parked two blocks away. We made it! Whew!

Then we drove to my husband's office and picked him up for what would be our first road trip with two kids. We were taking this in two chunks. Four hours on Thursday night and hopefully only 6-7 hours on Friday morning.

The traffic in San Francisco was terrible. It took us an hour to get onto the Oakland Bay Bridge .  . . which is less than a 2 mile drive. After that we didn't hit any traffic and were able to make it to our resting place in Redding CA around 8 p.m. (so it had been 5 hours instead of 4, but we stopped for dinner on the way).

Redding was HOT. We stepped out of the car and were shocked as the heat hit our faces and made me feel like my jeans were going to melt to my skin. It was only 95 degrees, but my summers are usually around 68 it so really did catch me off guard. The boys were in love with the hotel room and explored every corner of it. It took at least an hour to calm them down and get them in bed. And since it was just one room we all went to bed at the same time.

The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast at Lumberjacks cafe which was pretty good. Stephen refused to sit and eat and William only had ate a quarter of his plate-sized Mickey Mouse pancake. This is totally what we expected but even by 8 a.m. I was ready for a break from the chaos.

The drive was uneventful. Very little traffic until we reached Portland, Oregon. Stephen fussed and cried off and on and took one little nap. William refused to nap but was content listening to his audiobooks of Winnie the Pooh, looking at his comic books and doing some sticker projects I had packed.

We arrived in Vancouver, Washington a little before 6 p.m. on Friday. (With a few stops along the way it ended up being a total of 9 hours the second day.) Whew, we made it for real!

What did we do there? Read here!

On Monday night we decided that we would just do the drive home in one day instead of spending the money to get a hotel room. That night Stephen woke up around 3 and had a hard time going back to sleep. We ended up getting everyone up and packed to leave at 5 a.m. but didn't actually get out the door until 6 a.m. Our poor hosts had to hear Stephen scream for such a long time before we actually left. We thought if we could just get out the door and drive he would surely fall asleep and it would be okay.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. We were so entirely wrong.

Stephen cried and screamed for what seemed like forever. Finally we pulled off the freeway to grab breakfast (William and Stephen had already eaten at 5 a.m.). That seemed to settle everyone down momentarily. I tried to give Stephen his nap-time bottle and sing his songs and cover him with a blanket and after 90 minutes of trying he finally closed his eyes as I held his hand (doing a side-back bend maneuver from the front seat that messed up my back).

It was a good nap. A solid 90 minutes. And then we had some calm play time with books and songs and snacks. Followed by, you guessed it, more screaming. Earlier on the trip Chris had noticed how hot Stephen got in his seat so he purchased a fan to blow on him from the back seat. It helped him from over heating but this little guy hated feeling it on his hands and face. We tried everything to help him be more comfortable but nothing worked. Finally after our last stop for dinner we were able to get him to calm down again for a short nap by me holding his hand again. (If I could have fit in the back middle seat, trust me I would have gladly sat there the whole time.)

Once we got on the Bay Bridge he had woken up but was only softly whining/crying, not really screaming. Total time spent on the road that day: 13.5 hours. Total naps/quiet time by Stephen: 3 hours. Chris handled it all really well while he did all the driving. Where as I was super stressed out and feeling helpless, a little angry and mostly worried that Stephen cried so much and so hard.

We made it home! So ready for bed. So ready for normalcy. So thankful that William handled it all like a champ (other than throwing a fit anytime we asked him to turn off his audio book to eat, go to the bathroom or take a nap).

Where to next? I don't know, but we'll be flying!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Stocking #4: Complete

Last month I finished a project that has been on my to-do list for over a year. I finished sewing Stephen's Christmas stocking! I remember when I was sewing William's (two years late) that I should just make a fourth one just in case. But I just didn't have the capacity for it at the time.

The only reason I got around to it when I did was because Stephen was on the cusp of dropping his morning nap and William was starting a summer school program so I had a few mornings of uninterrupted time. And I mean literally. Stephen hasn't taken a morning nap since I finished this project!

I had a few hiccups along the way - mostly with my iron meeting the wrong side of my fusible fleece. Both ended up being victims. I have a few seams that look bunchy and the cording along the cuff is not nearly as precise as I had hoped, but it will do just fine the way it is.

Merry Christmas a little early.  I can't wait to hang it up with the others!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Housing Update: Hard Decisions

I had asked for your prayers two months ago that our number be drawn again for a 3-bedroom condo in the Mission (a much desired location). And God answered, although it was in a convoluted cloudy way . . . our number was drawn, but it was fourth on the list for the one available unit. So, we thought that maybe, just like before, they work their way down the list and get to us and we would jump with glee and laugh and praise His Name with a new found joy. We had already seen the place and knew it would work for our family. But, the call never came (or hasn't yet anyway) and from what we were told, lottery winner #1 took the space.

But in that same conversation, where we were told it wasn't meant to be, we were told to consider another 3-bedroom condo space. The deadline to apply was approaching rapidly. I think Chris had to fill out an application, submit one hundred pages of proof-of-everything-we-have in 48 hours. We weren't able to connect with the realtor before the deadline so applied after just seeing photographs. No one else had applied so we had a really great chance if we were approved for the loan.

The photos showed a nice looking place and a good layout so I was hopeful. Started to dream again. Finally after a loan pre-approval and many discussions with the city's program contact and the bank and our realtor, we were able to see the place. I can't say the photos were misleading - but it left a lot out. The space was fine and the layout made sense. I was thankful that it seemed to have ample storage and a connected garage (it looked more like a townhouse than a condo). But it was dirty, the floor was sticky, everything in the kitchen was covered in grease. The bathroom doors didn't close all the way, the closet doors were hideous. The carpets and walls were badly stained. Of course, all of these things can be fixed up, replaced or repaired. But when we went home and ran the numbers we wouldn't be able to afford any of them. And if we did decide to buy it, the things we have said we valued wouldn't be possible either (retirement, savings for our children, travel, fun money, haircuts . . . you get the idea).

I've been waiting for a larger home for years. Seriously, we've been looking for over 2 years. And every time we have a contract in front of me and I think of what increasing our mortgage/rent payment would do to our lives, I can't sign it. And I look around our apartment and I wonder why I need more space at all. Thoughts circle in my mind nonstop. Needs vs. wants; present vs. future; security of savings vs. living paycheck to paycheck; faith vs. numbers on the screen; my desires vs. God's will . . . it doesn't end.

Paul writes in Philippians 4 (emphasis added):
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
We stayed up late discussing the pros and cons. Chris feeling that he could be confident in either step we took. Me feeling like I could be talked into taking it, but felt the loss of what we would give up. This morning, Chris grabbed our white board and we started making a list of what we loved about our apartment. It's a practice of growing in gratitude he has found helpful. Over the course of our lunchtime, this is what we came up with:

I am certain we will find more things to add - like it has a dishwasher and coin-operated laundry on site! So once again I find myself coming to a place of contentment in the space we are in. The space we have been in for 7 years. I think we'll keep trying to find a bigger space - we would like to host small groups again or have space for someone stay with us (please come visit us anyway!). But for now and the immediate future we are okay.

Dave Ramsey has a saying "Live like no one else so that you can live like no one else." He refers to saving for your retirement/future and not spending all your income now. I think that quote applies to us in a different way. We can live simply in a small space (when our culture tells us more/bigger is better) and save for retirement and do more things like travel or we can get a mortgage twice our rent and not really live. It's worth considering.

Book Club: Homegoing

The book our book club chose to read this last month was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Gyasi was born in Ghana, was raised in Alabama and now lives in Berkeley, CA. This was her first novel and it was excellent.

It is a novel, but I do wonder how much of it is based on history and maybe even her own family's experience (although she never says this). This novel is the dissecting of a family tree. Two girls born by the same woman but raised in separate Ghanian villages by different families. One is loved and adored, the other abused and shamed. The story begins in the 1700s and follows each of their family's lineage up until the 1980s where a young girl who was born in Ghana grows up in Alabama and travels back to her homeland. The other lineage includes the slave trade and the struggles they had to find freedom.

Each chapter covers a different person's story and although I met a lot of characters throughout the book, each chapter captivated me in a way I hadn't expected and I was able to follow it well (the family tree at the beginning of the book was very helpful!). Knowing our history with slavery and racism made this novel feel very real and true to me. And reminded me of how dark this history is.

Ten years ago, I was living in The Gambia, West Africa and was able to tour two historic landmarks that were built to house/store slaves until the next "shipment." One in The Gambia and another in Senegal. Reading this book brought back many of those images to my mind and the stories I heard. It also reminded me a lot of the book called "Roots" which is a true account of someone being sold to slavery from Africa.

One of the thoughts I had when I read this book (which I highly recommend by the way!) is that no matter which story line these characters had come from, whether it was the family that mostly stayed in Africa or the one that was shipped to the United States, or if it was the 1700s or the 1900s, there were struggles with something. Not one of them had an easy life, which may just be part of this novel, but it also made me question how life is today -- everyone seems to struggle with something-- and our family's history is always a part of us.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Fault in Our Stars

I had heard of this book a while ago, even before the movie came out but never seemed to remember the title when I was looking for books to read. Finally, I saw it again and immediately put it on hold at my library. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, a novel about two teenagers fighting cancer that fall in love, was a pretty fast read for me. I really enjoyed it and was thankful Stephen would play quietly at my feet for a few pages at a time!

Of course the story is sad--it's about kids and cancer. But I enjoyed the narrative of the main character, Hazel and her perspective of her life, her parents and friends. Maybe "enjoyed" isn't the right word though . . . she has a sense of (dry) humor, is smart/witty and and seems pretty grounded. She goes through a lot of emotions - fears of death, love, anxiety and worry and I'll stop there so I don't give away the ending.

Anyway, if you haven't read it yet I'd recommend it!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Book Club: The Zookeeper's Wife


Last month my book club read The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman. This book was in high demand from the library and I got it the day before our meeting, but I managed to get to the half way mark in two days! So, now a few weeks later, I finally finished it.

I have to say that it wasn't what I expected. I can usually get into a story fairly quickly and I really don't see myself as a critical reader, but this book was very difficult to get into. It didn't read like a story to me. It was more or less as retelling or compilation of other people's memoirs and accounts of World War II with the main character being a zookeeper's wife in Warsaw, Poland.

That being said, it was all a true story and since I know very little about what happened in Poland during the war, it was informational to say the least. The zookeeper and his wife used their zoo and home to hide numerous people during the war which is understandably a very strenuous task. Add two children and a house and zoo full of animals and I can't imagine the stress. Both husband and wife seem to take so much of the happenings in stride and handle it with exceptional grace. My life feels chaotic most of the time, I really can't imagine all they dealt with, much of it life and death -- for years.

Have you read the book? Seen the movie? Tell me what you thought!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Another Special Visitor

We had a week of fun with Chris's sister Shannon last week. I love that she can travel when school is on break – and so blessed that she chooses to travel to us so frequently! The boys had a blast with their Aunt. They read books (oh, so very many books!), played trucks and dinosaurs and we even got to see some sights together. 

Her first day with us we went to the Japanese Tea Garden. We had never been there before and didn't realize that they had free admission before 10 a.m. several times a week! We arrived at 9:55 – Whew! It was a very peaceful space with a little creak filled with fish. The fish and the stone path kept William entertained enough. Afterwards we wandered over to the fountains nearby and had a picnic lunch. I don't know what it is about kids and fountains but my boys can sit watching the water for what seems like such a long time! If Stephen wasn't trying to climb in, I might have been able to relax! The only thing to draw their attention away from the water was a large flatbed truck/trailer driving by.

The next day was supposed to be the hottest day of the week so we packed up and went to the beach in Pacifica. It was really busy (surprise!!) and parking took a while, but we had fun in the sand for an hour and headed home. I didn't realize my sister-in-law was so talented in molding sand and play-doh. William loved watching her create . . . and then promptly destroyed them. 

We made a couple trips to the library and playgrounds. We took naps when we could and played games in the evening. It almost felt like I was on vacation too!

Chris took his sister to Muir Woods on Saturday morning for a hike while I stayed home with the boys. And then she babysat that evening so we could go on a date! We went to the movie and saw Wonder Woman. I love superhero movies; William is really into comic books right now so he was very excited for me to see it.

On Sunday after naps we headed to the park and took some photos. It was so fun to capture the boys playing with Chris and Shannon. I so rarely take my camera out – but I love it when I do! Here comes the photo dump:

This is what it was really like...

His preferred method of mobility

Seriously, the boys love her. She's just so fun!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Special Father's Day Weekend

Happy Father's day to all the wonderful dads in this world. I know of many and am so thankful for the one that I call dad and my husband who is dad to my two little guys. May father-in-law is pretty amazing and my Grandpa-in-law (is that a thing?!) is so wonderful too. William and Stephen are so blessed to have several strong, smart, and compassionate men in their lives.

This weekend was very special as we had two wonderful people join us on Saturday and Sunday: Chris's mom, Sheryl and her dad, Ray! So, not only did we get to celebrate Chris but we got to celebrate Ray too! It also meant that we got to take a four-generation photograph (which we missed doing at Christmas).

This was Ray's first time visiting us. It may have also been his first time to California! He was traveling around visiting other family members and we were blessed to get the weekend together. We had a great weekend with plenty of sunshine.

It was also a special weekend for us because Chris was asked to preach at church that Sunday! It was his first time behind the pulpit and he gave a really great message about the father in the story of the prodigal son. I'm hoping he can type it out for you all so you can "hear" it. He worked so hard preparing it; although he said he was nervous, he did fabulous. If his scratchy throat would have left him alone, it would have been perfect. I am so proud of him!

On Saturday we spent the morning at a nearby park and the boys all sat in the grass playing and watching some guys play basketball. After the afternoon naps Ray took us out to eat at Super Duper Burger. We rarely go out with the kids so it was nice to have reinforcements. And they didn't do that bad.

On Sunday, we went to church and had take-out at home so the boys could nap. Stephen has been testing out what life is like with just one nap in the morning so the afternoon was a little rough. We we were all very tired after lunch and stayed inside and rested. 

Then we headed out on a brief walk to take some photographs together (the ones posted in the blog). We stumbled onto this tree swing and William loved it! We may have to head back there soon.

Stephen is 13 months old now and it's fitting that Nana came to visit again this June. She had stayed with us a year ago when he was born and although we've seen each other a couple of times since then, the difference between a newborn and a one year old is amazing. He really doesn't seem like the same baby! He isn't fully walking yet but he has taken a couple of steps here and there. It won't be long now!

One comment I hear a lot is about Stephen's curls. The top of his hair is fairly straight and looks very similar to William's hair at the same age, but the back of his hair is all curls all the time! I love them. So, although he was done taking photographs, I couldn't miss the opportunity to snap a few of his curls.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Preschool Days

William started preschool last September and although the program he was in is a year-round program we decided to keep him home over the summer. Of course, I'm late in posting it, but here is his first-day photo next to his last-day photo:

I wasn't put together enough to take the photos before the day began so these are after school, which was at noon -- lunch time. The first day, he got into the mud and came home in boots that didn't belong to us! He was just about turn three.

The last day of school was just last week, May 30. He had finished his lunch in the car on the way home. And although you can't see mud on his pants, he has dirt all over his face and hands (because I always to forget to wash him up before I hand him his sandwich). He is just over 3 1/2 years old.

In just nine months, I feel like my boy has grown so much! Somehow he still looks a little baby-ish in the first photo and not at all in the second. How is this possible! I wasn't ready for this.

He loved school and made a lot of friends. He also got into some mischief and had trouble following the rules. It was an all outdoor program and I think that suited William really well. He got a lot of fresh air, played in sand, dirt and mud and came home exhausted.  

Sending him to preschool wasn't really in our master plan but I'm glad we did. It was good for me too. Even if it was one of our top three bills to pay and was hard to swallow some months, I think it was the best for our family.

And now for summer fun!