Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Milestone

What do you do after nap time?  It's a tough time of day.  The girls are waking up from naps, dinner time is quickly approaching, Eloise is not usually in the mood to go anywhere if we've had a long morning.

So we usually stick around the house and play.

Or go outside on a pretty day.

And see all our neighbors.  Because it doesn't seem like any of us work.  Well, we do work.  We work on our gardens, for example.  And we work on neighborhood news.  That kind of stuff.

And we always end up in costume.  Usually it's the princess variety.  Bright pink and wands.

But today was special because Cordelia dressed up for the first time.  And it must be documented.  Because this was the first of many.

Then, of course, Eloise got in on the costume action.  We had a garden theme.

And then something crazy happened.

The camera turned on me.

Do you see the stickers on my sweatshirt?  They're taped on because they had lost their sticky.

Then a game of hide and seek ensued.

Paula was it.

Ahhh!  She found the ladybug!

And that's what we did today after nap.

Daddy Daughter

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Perfectionism: Lessons from Preschoolers

This time last week, Eloise and I had painted our toes purple and danced in the rain.  It was a wild, girly kind of day.

Just now, Eloise and I were reading a book together.  And we looked at our matching toes.

I said, "Look sweetie.  We have matching toes.  Aren't they pretty?"

Pointing to her right foot she said "These are broken."  And to her left foot, "these are perfect."

I said, "Well look, some of mine are kinda broken too."

Then she said a very profound thing.  Pointing back at her broken (chipping) toe nails on her right foot, she said, "These are sad."  And pointing to her perfect left foot, she said, "these are happy."

Broken equals sad, and perfect equals happy.  I was profoundly struck by this because lately I've noticed Eloise's awareness of perfection.

And she likes things to be "perfect."  (I'm not sure where she's even learned the concept because not many things are perfect around here.)  For example, she won't eat cookies with nuts in them because they are "not perfect."  She likes a clean smooth cookie.  She gets frustrated when she's dressing herself because if her pants are folded under or uneven or anything, they are "not perfect."  And she screams very loudly about it.  Now her hair is a whole other story.  (-:

Anyway, back to the quote.

I also think perfection means happiness.  When I see a neighborhood mom driving her suburban with her freshly highlighted hair, four kids in the back, sipping her latte, and wearing Lilly Pulitzer, I think she's perfect and happy.

And when I see an old woman struggling to understand her prescription at CVS and struggling to just stand up with her broken sunglasses on her head, I think she must be sad.

But then I remember our friend from Shepherd's Heart, our inner city church in Pittsburgh that serves the homeless, the addicted, other imperfect people like us, who from the outside looked broken in every way.  He suffered daily from his time in Vietnam, he lost his family, he's overcoming addiction everyday, struggles with anger and sadness, and yet the JOY from that man's lips is the most beautiful sound you might ever here.  The REDEMPTION of his soul is astounding.  And the PEACE that the Spirit of God brings to him as he sings to himself over and over and over again is real.

It is not perfection that makes us happy.

It is when our vessels are broken, that the light of God can shine through.  It is when our cups are empty, that the Spirit can pour in.

Thanks, Eloise for this lesson from human nature.  Now I pray that both you and I can move pass our desires for perfection and "boast all the more in our weakness."  "For when I am weak, I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:10b

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mike came to visit.

Our wonderful friend Mike came to visit this weekend.  He was one of the privileged to hear Alex's first sermons, eat some of my first homemade food, and experience Eloise's first shrills.  He has seen us at our worst and still loves us.  What a guy.  :-)

We deeply miss having Mike in our daily lives.  I miss his thoughtful analysis of life and his contagious laugh.  His small group wisdom and zeal for all things beautiful.

Eloise misses his expert reading of Fancy Nancy.  It's not everyday that a former college professor reads and discusses at length Fancy Nancy with you.

We are thankful for our old friends scattered across the world and remember them often.  Their support and encouragement for us truly sustains us.  And, we're thankful for our new friends.  Without our new friends, our lives would be stale and lonely.

Thank you for visiting us, Mike.  And I guess what I'm really getting at is . . . thank you to all our friends (and family because of course you are our friends too) for who you are and what you've meant to us.

Hmm.  I'm feeling nostalgic tonight.  And that's a good thing.

Cordelia is better.

Sorry that I've left some of you hanging on the croup status here.  Time got away from us this weekend with a wonderful visit from our friend Mike.  I'll post more on that later, but for now, let Cordelia asure you that she is on the mend.

Look at this girl go.  Does she look like a sick baby?

Moving and shaking.

And playing with Eloise.

Stuck under our furniture?  Doesn't look too sick to me.  :-)

Praise God.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

More on Cordelia

A ride fit for a queen.

That her daddy prepared for her so they could enjoy a long walk together.


Or a really long nap.  Keep on sleeping Cordelia.  Keep on sleeping.

Cordelia Today

Thanks for all your prayers and kind words, friends!  They are working!

Cordelia is doing really well.  We've done all the appropriate treatments and she slept well last night.  (But who wouldn't sleep well cuddled next to her mommy, drinking yummy milk every 2 hours?  :-)

She definitely doing better than worse.

And I definitely wasn't ready for my sweet 14 pounder to get so sick.  It was bound to happen with all the germs Eloise brings us from school.

Have a happy Friday, everyone.  Thankfully it's Alex's day off so we have man-on-man defense today.  (Football illustration in honor of the NFL draft Alex watched all night.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Growing as a Mom

When I went into labor with Eloise, I didn't want to go to the hospital until I knew for sure that we were having this baby.  I didn't want to go and be sent home.  I didn't want to go and be wrong.  I would be embarrassed, I thought.  Maybe they'd think I was a wimp or a rookie.  So we waited at home until the pain was nice and strong and off we went.

And time from time when Eloise would get sick, I would think, "Is she sick enough to go to the doctor?"  How would I know?  Should I go, or should I stay home?  I wouldn't want to be wrong, would I?  Oh, the horror.

But after some years of mothering, I have learned to suck up my pride.  Like when I'm walking through the airport with a poop stain visible on my shirt.  No pride.

Or, when my daughter wears 15 bows in her hair to school.  No pride.

And I no longer have any pride when it comes to going to the doctor.  And if I'm wrong and they only send me home with a sucker, who cares?

Well at least I'm learning not to care.

Today my pride was put to the test once again.  Cordelia woke up from her nap struggling to breathe.  She was gagging and couldn't seem to get a deep enough breath to even cry.  It was obviously serious, so I ran to my neighbor's house who is a PA and asked her to check her out.  She told me to take her to the doctor immediately and that she'd keep Eloise.

So off I went.  My heart pumping.  My adrenaline rushing.

I walk into the doctor's office and tell them the problem.  A nurse comes over and tells me that all her rooms are full and that I could have called.  "You could have called and set something up, you know?"

Emotion welled up inside me.  And my inner voice said, "Emily, you will not apologize for caring.  You will not apologize for listening to your motherly intuition.  You will not apologize..."

It took every ounce of me not to apologize.  And not to cry.  So what did I say?  I blamed my neighbor.  Haha.  Really??  Did I just say that?  "My neighbor who used to work here told me to come..."  I felt like a school girl.  But at least I didn't apologize.

And then Cordelia started coughing and the nurse took notice.  Definitely the croup.

I gained some confidence and said, "Can you take her temperature, she's really hot."

And she did.  She did the temperature, the oxygen test, and got the doctor.  Thankfully, Cordelia's oxygen levels are not too worrisome and she's been resting well.

In a strange way, I feel good right now.  My motherly confidence is growing.  My people pleasing tendencies are waning.  And I'm confident.  And if I'm wrong, who cares?  Who really cares if I'm wrong?  Not me.

Say a prayer for Cordelia, please.  For a rapid recovery and a peaceful night.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Playing in the Rain

(My Mom might kill me for what I did today.   Let's see.  Mom, would you kill me for this??  Funny how I'm 28 years old, married with 2 children and I still hear my Mom's voice.  It's never harsh.  But sometimes agitated with a Texas twain.  Like when I let my daughter play in the rain in her beautiful white Easter dress.  Don't mud was involved.  Maybe it was wrong but oh, oh, oh so much fun!)

We played in the rain today.

While smoke billowed from my oven.  I've been cooking a lot of new recipes lately, thanks to my New Years challenge.  It's been fun and very messy.  So after turning off the fire alarm, opening the windows and door, and watching the ceiling fill with smoke, I decided the prudent thing to do would be to get these babes outside.  Even though it was raining.

So out we went.

In circles we ran.

And I'm thinking, this is the best idea I've had all day!  Eloise is not whining.  Cordelia is laughing.  The fresh air and activity are invigorating and we're not dying from smoke inhalation.

At least playing in the rain was a better idea than trying to cook my stuffed chicken in our oven.  Your oven would probable work great, but our oven is a little funny.  I followed the recipe exactly.  I promise!

So we played and we bonded.  And I think in the end, my Mom would have had fun with us.  She would have at least been laughing at us through the window.

It's good to remember, though, that our Mom's voice will always be with us.  I'm thankful my Mom's voice is sweet with a Texas twain.

And Eloise loves that dress.  Every night before bed she says "happy Easter."  (I'm not hyperbolizing.  It's true.)  Each morning she puts on her Easter dress.  (Well not every morning.  Every 3rd morning after it's been washed.)

Sister Sister

Eloise approximately 5 months:

Cordelia approximately 5 months:

Sisters?  I think so!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Watering Flowers, Lessons from Preschoolers

Eloise loves her garden.  She shows all our neighbors and asks them, "Aren't my flowers beauuutifulll?"

Yes, they are, we all answer.

And they really are.  The flowers are vibrant.  Our vegetables are growing taller.  And our pet rock is staying sedentary.  It's a nice garden.

Thank goodness pansies are forgiving.

Eloise loves to water her flowers.  She takes the watering can and makes sure each petal gets drenched.  I try to direct her to the roots and soil, but of course, she'll have none of it.

We all know who's in charge around here.

So after she goes to sleep, I sneak back outside to water the soil.  To get to the roots.  And ensure the plants are healthy at their core.

When we first moved here, I was exhausted.  I had nothing to give anyone.

I was exhausted physically.  Unpacking the house.  Arranging and Rearranging.  Learning to navigate the worst traffic in the world.  Learning to hate parking meters.  Learning how not to get lost.  And doing it all with a 18 month old in tow.  I was spent and had nothing to give.

Emotionally, I mourned the loss of magnificent friends and a place that I love dearly.  I was lonely.  I experienced culture shock.  (People in the coffee shop here don't just pick up conversations with you about the snow fall last night or the awesome ski conditions or the great band coming to town that night. No, people here don't talk to you at all, actually. :-)

I had no energy to reach out to make new friends.  I was too overwhelmed to get involved at the church. My colors were not very vibrant to say the least.

My roots were dry.



(The tough transition was felt by all of us.)

In time, praise God, my roots have been showered with love and support.  I have been encouraged by the people I least expected.  And my cup is full.  It's overflowing in fact.

I'm busy volunteering and leading Bible study and reaching out to new friends and encouraging neighbors.  I'm busy loving 2 daughters and not just one.

The fruit is practically falling off the tree.  And it's a great place to be.

And that is why we have to always water the root.  Why we have to always extend God's grace and love.  It's not a video game where you have to unlock one level to get to the next and the next. There's no progression.  It's just about staying in place (like our pet rock) and receiving the water.  Drinking it up and enjoying it.  The fruit will come and the flowers will bloom if the roots are watered with the "sweet sweet love of Jesus."

Preschoolers really to have lots to offer this world.  Thanks, Eloise.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another Tear Jerker

After crying with 16 and Pregnant in the afternoon, I found myself home alone last night.  Tired after a long day of Eloise being sick.  TV surfing.

I landed on Extreme Makeover House Edition.  (Or something like that.)  And I started crying again.

Well look at me.  You think something's wrong.  Which is always a good possibility, but I was crying again because the show was so touching.

Why is Mommy crying? Eloise would have asked if she was awake.  And thankfully she was not.

Because these beautiful families receive a free gift.  A new and extravagant home.  They've done nothing to deserve them.  It's above and beyond their wildest dreams with incredible space, technology, etc.  It's outrageous.

And free gifts are rare.  Unmerited love doesn't happen very often.  And it's awesome.

Wow, for Sunday that I could not go to church, I sure did praise God a lot.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'm home from church today with a sick Eloise.  And because Alex was at the Mockingbird conference for 3 days, this makes 4 days of home alone with the girls.

It started great, lots of play dates.  Park trips.   Fun dinners.

But day 4 is bringing on lots of TV.  First Max and Ruby, then Dora, and now 16 and Pregnant on MTV.  What have I come to?

Most of these episodes are truly depressing.  But this one is different.  I'm crying.  I'm sobbing.  And Eloise wants to know why I'm crying.

I'm crying because this particular couple made an inspired decision to give their sweet baby up for adoption against their parents' wishes.

Growing up in very unstable conditions, they wanted more for their baby.  They were able to look outside of themselves.  Selfless.

Tyler, the father, is mature beyond his years.  As his dad, who's been in and out of prison multiple times, tells him that he needs to "man up" and keep the child, he responds with "My daughter deserves better than this."

The dad says, "All the baby need is love."

Tyler, "No, the baby needs more than love.  She deserves a lot more!"

Caitlynn, the mom, is equally mature.  Despite her mother resisting the adoption at every turn because she wants a grandchild and calling Caitlynn numerous explitives, Caitlynn persists in make an unbelievable, sacrificial decision.

Neither Tyler or Caitlynn's parents would sign the documents necessary for the adoption.  So the adoption had to take place off of hospital grounds.

The young couple, who have dated since 7th grade and are in love more than ever, walk the baby off hospital property to give their daughter to her new parents.

It was dramatic.  It was heroic.  And I wept.

There are few things more difficult than handing your baby over to someone else forever.

Why are you crying, Mommy?

I'm crying because this young couple made an unnatural decision to sacrifice while their world was telling them not to.  It was an inspired decision.  No one could have made that decision on their own.

And it was beautiful.

I am rooting for you Tyler, Caitlynn, and baby Carly!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cordelia Today

This girl's got abdominals of steel.  And a smile that kills!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just the 3 of Us...

We will make it if we try, just the 3 of us....Eloise, Cordelia, and I.

When Eloise was first born and we were new in town and she wouldn't let me put her down (yes, she's "high spirited"), I joked to Alex that she was my best friend.  Well, now I have 2 best friends.  Eloise and Cordelia. :-)

At least that is how it feels some of the time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This and That

Our neighbors think we are bizarre for a variety of reasons.  One is for our love for tie dye and mismatched clothes.  Eloise gets lots of looks and comments on her wardrobe.  And it doesn't bother me a bit.  Getting dressed and out the door is challenging enough for me.

And, have you heard the David Crowder Band's newest album?  The song, Oh Happiness?!  Oh my!  I love this song.  My love for David Crowder's music began in the summer of 2001.  I was a youth intern at my church in Dallas.  It was the best youth program ever.  HPPC.  Killer boss Mac McCoy and killer interns and killer programming.  And it was a blast!

We took a week long trip to Padre Island on the Texas coast and met up with hundreds, probably thousands of other Presbyterians around the state for a youth conference.  And every night the best praise band from Waco, TX lead us....the David Crowder Band.  I've been hooked ever since.

Check them out.

And, finally, why I love Jesus so much:

9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When I'm weak (tired, sad, lonely, frustrated, bored), Jesus walks with (or carries) me. And that's a great relief.