Saturday, November 18, 2017

Toddler B2: 18 Months

When I look at my little boy, I can't quite get over the fact that he isn't a baby anymore. I look at him and I stand in awe that we survived his first year -- a little shocked that it doesn't feel so hard anymore, shocked that that phase actually did pass, shocked that he is actually so handsome, so sweet, and silly and great. I love noticing these things about him now, but also feel a sadness that I didn't see all of those things at the beginning. (I don't talk about my depression much at all, but that is really how it felt... letting the difficult things block my vision of who my baby is.)

Once he learned to walk (and even before that) around 4 months ago, he became a super-active baby. Walking, climbing, falling, sliding, swinging. He tried to jump now but hasn't made it off the ground yet. He is all about exploring and fitting in with the big kids, especially William. The things he plays are so much more involved than what William was doing at this stage and it has everything to do with watching his older brother play. Of course, William doesn't really enjoy having his toys taken or played with when he wants them so the sibling fights have already begun!

Beach day. He loves the sand but took a break to go exploring.

Playground fun = risk taking

 Stephen loves to watching the garbage trucks drive by (every day), play "garbage truck" with William and even helps Chris take out the trash. In fact, I am fairly certain that his first word was "trsh." He also loves to play with trucks and blocks. There was one morning that it was just me and Stephen and I just watched him build block towers over and over again and knock them down or try to sit on them. It was a really sweet thing to sit back and see. And just like his older brother, he loves basketball. He has been shooting hoops on our little basket for months. And if he is in a bad mood, you can almost always turn it around with a little "game."

"Big Truck Day" was a blast. They sat in a garbage truck, fire truck, digger, street sweeper and a mobile crane. 

A few other activities he seems to enjoy are: drawing, painting (paper and his body), water play/baths and sandboxes.

He isn't very verbal yet, but makes plenty of sounds for us to see he really wants to communicate. He has gotten pretty good at using sign language to indicate: eat, milk, more, all done, please and thank you. He does say a few words that we can make out: Mama, juice (oosh), and shoes (soos).

Playing at the zoo. yes, we got to wear shorts and short sleeves to the zoo this fall!

And shortly after his birthday, he finally started to show an interest in books! That was a big relief because William loves reading and it was hard to keep Stephen entertained during stories. But now, both boys will join me on the recliner and we'll read book after book after book. His favorites are currently:
Opposites (by Sandra Boynton)
The Going to Bed Book (by Sandra Boynton
Moo, Baa, La, La, La (by Sandra Boynton)
 . . . all Sandra Boynton Books
Giraffes Can't Dance (by Giles Andreae)
My First Trucks (DK books)
San Francisco ABC's (by Gus D'Angelo)
Olivia (Falconer)
Global Babies
123 to the Zoo by Eric Carle
and Biscuit Wins a Prize (by Alyssa Satin Capucilli) 
He will probably love all Biscuit books because they are about a dog and he just loves dogs.

He has also started to make a few animal sounds: 
 - dogs were the first one but that sounded more like a monkey (ooh, ooh!)
 - monkeys came next (ooh-ooh)
 - Lions (RRR)
 - Elephant (Bluuuu or Euuuuuu)
 - Cow (MMMM)

He dropped his morning nap a lot earlier than I would have liked, but now he naps one good afternoon nap at the same time as William. This usually goes alright and we all feel better afterwards. Stephen is an early riser often getting up before the sun which means we have plenty of time to play, eat and get dressed before Dad goes to work. 

Last month he got his first haircut. It took a few days to get 
used to his new look. Thankfully, it looks like some curls are coming back!

Stephen is dairy-intolerant but handles everything else pretty well. His favorites are grapes, green beans, pasta, hummus and goat milk. He will usually eat most vegetables offered to him at least once . . the rest might end up on the floor unless it's sweet potato. If he doesn't seem to want to eat his dinner I will sometimes make him a green smoothy which he will gulp down with excitement. I've also started making green popsicles because he favors frozen foods right now (I do spy some teeth coming!) This is awesome because then William wants one too (and we all know William doesn't eat produce much at all!)

I love my darling little boy and love watching him develop and grow. He brings me so much joy right now and I'm so grateful I get to stay home and don't have to juggle a job anymore. These days are precious.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Style Story

A few months ago, our MOPS group had a stylist come in and share some tips on how to find your own style. It got me thinking a lot because I've always struggled with finding a style I like and I could claim as my own. If I think through my past and how my clothes have changed over the years I've come to realize that I never really claimed anything my own since the 5th grade. I found a few memories especially humorous so I thought would share!

I have a vivid memory of my cousin Mary showing me how to roll my jeans. I must have been 6-7 years old at the time. We were sitting on the stairs and she showed me and her sister and then helped us do our own. I rolled my jeans every day after that. (I just found out this is actually called "pegging.") And then stirrup pants came into my closet and I hated the straight leg look after having my jeans so tight/tapered and I really didn't like the elastic being under my foot so I started wrapping the stirrup around my ankle and covering it up with my socks. I really don't remember seeing anyone else do this and if I get my hands on my old photographs I am pretty sure I am the only one who did this. And then in 4th and 5th grade I started pinning my jeans. I don't remember if my cousins showed this to me or not. I know one of my classmates did this too and I remember him being teased later for it. Thankfully they had forgotten that I did it too. I don't remember seeing this anywhere else . . . I even tried googling it and got nothing! I have vivid memories of being overly frustrated that I couldn't get the pin into my jeans so my mom had to help me; she couldn't get them tight enough so I cried until we got it right. Geez. 

So, in my younger years, I definitely had my own taste and "style" even if it was just me. I was comfortable and liked the way I dressed. It was the early 90s and I think that was basically the point of the "styles" at that time. Anything goes!

In junior high, I really started paying attention to what everyone else was wearing. I remember going to a birthday party the summer before 7th grade (it could have been 6th) and my friend showing me all of her new school clothes. I didn't have any of the brands she had! I left thinking I needed to spend more money on my clothes and begged my mom to take me shopping. She did and I spent a lot of birthday money on a pair of Girbaud jeans (size 5/6 short - special ordered). And the next year I bought some Z. Cavaricci jeans and a shirt. Remember when your clothes were just advertisements for the brand!? The Girbauds didn't fit anymore.

I tried so many different styles in high school. There were the long sweaters with belts and the pleather pants (mine were red!). I wore what the stores sold and tried to fit in. My mom bought me a pair of JNCO khakis which I wore but were honestly a little too wide for my taste! My junior year, me and my best friend had accidentally bought three shirts that were the same style and color! And twice at school we matched . . . not cool when you are 17.

In college I can't even remember what I wore . . . jeans and shirts probably. I wore a lot of turtle neck sweaters. I loved those. I also really loved flare jeans.

My wardrobe changed dramatically the year I was in Gambia and then again when I worked for Focus on the Family. Skirts were mandatory in both places! And I found myself really enjoying the dressing up part of my day . . . even if I found skirts that worked really well with polo shirts and t-shirts! I did a lot of polo-style shirts in my early twenties.

When I became a mom, I seriously only wore jeans and a solid color t-shirt or yoga pants and t-shirt. I worked from home and played on the floor with my baby. After 6 months all of my jeans had holes in them and my shirts were covered in milk and spit-up. I tried to go shopping and hated everything I tried on. I bought more jeans and more t-shirts . . . and one fun sweater. I also had foot issues so I had to wear athletic tennis shoes with special inserts. You know the saying, "shoes make the outfit?" Well, I automatically failed every single time I tried to wear anything else. Running shoes only go with running (which I can't do).

After Stephen was born, I had every hope of getting to nurse in public (William did bottles so I never had to). I went shopping for some new tops. They were colorful and blouse-like. I loved them. My mom also got me some cute dress pants and shoes so I could dress up for church/dates again! I ended up not nursing Stephen in public either (but I still had nice tops!)

And last month, I went out and did something I told myself I would never do. I bought skinny jeans. Why did I tell myself I would never buy them? Because they look like the pinned jeans I used to wear! I was so scared of going back to a look I had when I was 10. And I didn't think it would be around as long as it has been. I've had the same hesitation about big, round plastic framed glasses as well. As I reflected on this hesitation/fear, I wondered why . . . back when I was 8-10, I really loved that look, let's face it, I was a 80s/90s child and I rocked it back then. Why can't I rock it now?

I still don't know what my "style" is at the moment but I'm experimenting with a few things that are at least "in style" (or maybe they were in style last year. . .). I wear more than just jeans and a t-shirt now and that make me feel more put together. At this point, that might be enough!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fall Festivities with the Boys

I am more than a little behind when it comes to blogging. And I feel bad about it because Fall is one of my favorite seasons and the activities I do with my kids are cute and precious I really wanted to document them here and in "real time" for everyone's enjoyment (and my own archives). So my deep apologies for keeping you from seeing my kiddos dressed up for Halloween until now!

We visited the pumpkin patch during a lovely late afternoon as the sun was setting. We met up with a friend there (who we've been to this pumpkin patch with every single year!) The kids had fun picking out pumpkins, pushing the wagon and playing in the hay maze. I had fun taking one million hundred photos.

Two weeks before Halloween, William and Chris carved his pumpkin. He had been talking for days about how he was going to put stickers on it to make it look like Frankenstein, just like he did last year but then he saw his friend's pumpkin which had been carved and that immediately changed his mind. Chris was so patient and efficient in this project, I was really impressed and William loved watching (he felt the inside of the pumpkin exactly one time). I had all these ideas of pumpkin carving taking hours or a whole afternoon but I'm pretty sure Chris made it last all of 20 minutes. Ta-da! William proudly displayed this pumpkin in our hallway for exactly 8 days before I discovered that the bottom had rotten out and flies had found a new home. Eww! After surviving the biggest tantrum ever, we bought a second pumpkin. Whew! Seriously, now I know not to carve a pumpkin until the week of Halloween! We all learned something.

And finally, the day of Halloween arrived! William's little preschool did a parade of costumes and had a yummy potluck which we all dressed up for. Later after naps we went to our church where they had a Harvest Festival ---fun games and great prizes for all the little kids! And then we met up with friends for some actual trick-or-treating on Valencia street. (We just zipped in all the businesses and asked if they had any treats for the kids.) It was a fun filled day and William had a full bag of candy which we are trying to limit his access to.

William is Super Grover from Sesame Street!

Stephen is the cutest little, cuddly bunny I have ever seen. 

And I was Elmo (or at least my shirt was) 

It was a great month and I haven't even mentioned the trip to the beach, the decorations we made for our door or the finger face painting fiasco!

Book Club: The Nightingale

This month, the book for my book club was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I knew very little about it before reading it and it captured me right away. The setting is Paris, France during WWII. The story is centered on one family and how two sisters deal with the coming of the war and live through it.

The story was quite thrilling as each sister took dangerous steps to make sure they survived. I love reading historical fiction because I was just never very good at studying History in school and feel like I should know more than I do . . . having a captivating story about real events is so great. And from this story, I just felt so much heartbreak for what families went through during and after the war. I felt like my eyes were opened to a portion of history that I never contemplated before.

I would highly recommend this book to all of my book-loving friends. It didn't disappoint. I hear there may be a movie made based on this book in a few years and I will be watching it!

Monday, October 30, 2017

April & Oliver

I recently read a book called April & Oliver by Tess Callahan. It came recommended on a blog listing for 6 books every woman should read . . . well after reading this one, I don't think I'll be keeping that list. It was written well enough (with flashbacks thrown in at random times which was a little hard to follow) and the story was compelling but honestly, I didn't need to read it and probably shouldn't have.

The premise of it, in case you are interested, is about a boy and a girl who grew up together avoiding an obvious attraction. They grew apart and lived very different lives and then one day were reunited --but Oliver is engaged to be married and April is a disaster (dating abusers, drinks too much, doesn't take care of herself, etc). I don't want to give the rest away. But I will caution you that the childhood April had was hard and included things like verbal abuse and molestation and a lot of family issues. It's detailed. It troubled me. I kept reading it because I wanted to see how she ended up and trying to broaden my scope of what some people's lives might actually be like. But it was a bit too much.

The reviews on GoodReads are very mixed and I would probably have given it 2 stars. My advise? Read something else.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

2017 Walk for Life: Success!

We wrapped up the Walk for Life this afternoon and ended in celebration for raising $14,000 for Alpha Pregnancy Center! There were around 100 walkers and a lot of volunteers who made the event a huge success. This was my sixth year walking and I surpassed my fundraising goal and raised $775! Not my "highest score" yet but very, very close!

My team was made up of my good friends Kate, Nettie and Daniel and their son L, and Brittany a woman we met for the first time today. Brittany also has a 4 year old son and an almost two year old who passed away not too long ago. Hearing her story was so sad and hard but I'm so glad she came today and was open to sharing her loss with us. Life is precious . . . at every age.

It it is a little ironic that I had intended to form a group of moms from my MOPS group to do this walk together but regretfully no one was able to join me (I haven't forgotten my friend Beth who was totally up for coming until she broke her foot two days before the event!) And then my friend Kate and Nettie are both moms and Brittany is actually part of another MOPS group! How fun is that! We had such a great time together.

I was very grateful for Nettie and Daniel coming along as they both speak Spanish and were able to converse with the two families we visited along our walk. The stroller was packed with presents to deliver to these families (Nettie carried baby L). With their language skills we were able to find out so much more about the families and pray more specifically for their needs -- and in their language!! 

At our last stop we realized that baby L had a poop-explosion and didn't have a spare diaper so we walked three blocks over to a grocery store where we found diapers. We had walked almost 2.5 miles and couldn't imagine walking another mile and a half to the park where we were to meet the rest of the walkers . . . so we called for a ride from an Alpha volunteer who graciously picked us up! I'm not going to feel guilty about it one bit . . . and I made up for it by walking the 1.2 miles home after the picnic.

The Walk for Life is always an adventure and the day turned out great! We had fun walking together, got to meet two incredible families who have been blessed by Alpha's services. We prayed for them and delivered fun packages and raised awareness and funds for a really great organization!

To everyone who prayed, walked and gave -- Thank you so much! I'm thrilled with how much money we raised and glad I got to be a part of the event again!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Dinosaur Birthday Party

Last weekend we celebrated William turning four by inviting a few friends over to someone else's backyard for cake. Originally it was going to be a play-date in the park but our good friends Shawna and Scott called us up a few days before and suggested we just do it in their backyard. We agreed for obvious reasons: a) it's closer to almost everyone we invited b) it's fenced in so the kids can't escape and the parents can relax and c) there could be beer.

The party was a lot of fun and went off without a hitch, except that we were the ones to arrive late! I had wanted to get special balloons for William this year and had no idea that it would take over 20 minutes to pay for . . . so yeah, we were late. But our friends were gracious to us so I let it roll off my back.

 We offered a few snacks as it was late in the afternoon. I tried to keep everything fairly tied to the dinosaur theme.

The cake was a recipe I had gotten from a friend and I just added crushed Oreos on top and a few dinosaurs. William requested we add dinosaur sprinkles. It looked just like I pictured! And it tasted really good too! Recipe here.

I had a few ideas of how to entertain the kids (again, so the adults could actually sit down). I had a "reading corner" which was just a blanket and a pile of dinosaur books. This was probably the least used space, which was okay. It was better than my worst-case scenario being that the kids demanding to be read to the entire time! haha. I also borrowed a bucket of dinosaurs from a friend so the kids could do imagination play if they wanted. William does this every single morning -- but didn't touch them at the party. Go figure. And the third game was the hit. I had frozen tiny dinosaurs in ice cube trays and provided plastic syringes, hammers and a bucket of warm water. Their job was to free the dinosaurs! That kept 3-4 kids busy for a while!

And we sang happy birthday to my boy and his dad cut the cake into giant pieces for everyone. Dinners were spoiled and everyone had a great time. I love our community and the friends my son has!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Preschooler: Fourth Birthday

Today is the day. My first-born is a four-year-old. How does time go so fast? Why is it that when I look at my son he all-of-a-sudden looks all grown up? Last week he didn't, I swear! He stands taller, even puffing out his chest some too. He is weighing in at 39 pounds and stands 3.5 feet tall! He is still my sweet, little guy who loves cuddling up with a mountain of books but he also loves jamming to loud music and playing his air guitar in our kitchen.

We met Mickey Mouse in Las Vegas in February

Some of his other current passions include: playing garbage truck (and watching every garbage truck that passes by and taking out my garbage), listening to audio books and stories, watching construction (still, this passion hasn't left since it started), imagination play with stuffed animals and toys, dinosaurs and super heroes.

As I mentioned before, he loves to be read to but he is showing signs of wanting to learn to read on his own too. We are working on this very slowly but trying to be more intentional with the books we check out at the library. We are also trying to practice writing a little more but that isn't very interesting to him yet.

Firetrucks: Another very real passion! He got to go in a firetruck and meet real firemen at the library a few weeks ago (but he didn't want to because he said he was already a real fireman!) One of our neighborhood playgrounds has a firetruck to drive too, which he begged to go to again and again!

One of the challenges that we've faced this year (and continue to manage) is anger and defiance. He is quick to yell back at us, scream his frustration and even hit. For us this seems to out of the ordinary as he used to just go with the flow and be pretty easy to please. But I'm pretty sure this is normal for his age. He has a strong personality with very strong likes and dislikes -- he is finally coming out of his shell and learning how to manage all the feelings.

He has been a big brother for over a year now and he loves Stephen very much. He does fairly well playing with him and sharing with him for the most part and just loves hugging him all the time. When the hugs get to be too much Stephen pulls hair or bites which ends the love-fest pretty quickly (and it isn't pretty anymore). It has been so fun to see them play together now -- or at least play with the same type of toys side by side for a few minutes at a time. Stephen likes to do whatever big brother is doing - including taking out the trash! (I know, lucky me!)

I'm really excited for this year -- the last year that he'll be home with me! We do have him in a very part time (6 hours a week) Parks & Rec program which he loves, but he starts full time transitional kindergarten next fall. I'm excited to see all the learning that happens this year and all the play that happens with his brother.

Happy Birthday William! We love you so much!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When Friends Gather

Earlier this month, we gathered with two other families at a lake house for a long weekend. The guys are in a men's group with Chris but the wives are also friends (who would like to spend more time together). There were six adults and four children (William and Stephen were the oldest); it was a gorgeous weekend and the only schedules we followed were nap times.

There wasn't exactly a beach (and the water had green algae) so fishing was the main sport at the house. We brought an inflatable kiddy pool which was a huge hit with all four kids; they loved splashing and filling up cups and pouring them in the grass (don't worry, it needed watering). We brought bubbles which were also a huge hit. I hadn't expected them to be so easily entertained!

William begged to fish the entire time and spent most of the time either on the dock with the men or inside reading a book. He didn't catch anything, but Colin caught two bass. This was William's first time ever fishing so it was very exciting and all his imagination play was centered around fish for days! Overall, both the boys did so well on the trip! There were a few more wake-ups at night but they napped like champs and were in decent moods the whole time. They even napped in the car! Whew!

For the most part we stayed at the lake with the exception of me going on a walk with one of the girls one early morning and then all of us going to a winery before dinner. In the evenings after the kids were in bed we brought out the board games and cocktails. It was so much fun.

The last time I had that amount of fun and relaxation was before we had kids. It was so wonderful. I didn't expect it to go so well (especially since Chris had to work from there one day), but it was a blast. No schedules, just hanging out with friends, playing with babies and not really worrying about anything (except said babies climbing on the dock). I thank the men for spending so much time with William and giving me a little break! I'm so grateful he has such great role models in his life.

Will have to do it again!

1 Timothy 6: Contentment

I have been struggling this week. Struggling to stay positive and trust the Lord that he is providing and will provide. This mostly has to do with housing as another opportunity has come our way but is just as confusing as all the others and the answer is still cloudy with a chance of heartbreak. I get my hopes up time and time again and then it's just that much harder to face my reality of staying put. I long for a change.

My husband continues to encourage me that we won't be in this apartment forever. He even declared a deadline! "This space works for now, but we can't have two teenagers in this apartment." I will hold him to those words! (I had originally proclaimed I wouldn't raise two babies in this place.)

This morning I had a brief moment of near quiet and decided I would read my Bible. A habit that has not made it back into my daily routine yet. I read 1 Timothy 6. And these words jumped at me, literally 24 hours after stating my discontent to Chris and less than 12 hours of declaring the same to my counselor.

But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. . . .11 Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (ESV)

I brought nothing into this world. Nothing will go with me. I have food and clothing (NASB says "covering" which made me think of shelter/housing at first) with these we will be content. Why does contentment seem to be the most fluctuating emotion in my life?

Well, for starters, I'm focusing on the wrong things. Paul tells Timothy to pursue righteousness (not money or riches), godliness, faith, love, gentleness. Not bigger and better things that you cannot take with you! Here's a quick example: Every night when I cook dinner, I don't pursue a gracious attitude or thankfulness that I have 2 feet of counter space and most often it's covered in dishes and unusable for dinner prep.

But I'd like to start. I'd like to begin pursuing godliness and take take hold of the eternal life to which I was called. This was the wake up call I needed this morning. "Godliness with contentment is great gain" or as the NASB says "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

Thanks for your prayers for us and our housing search.

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.