29 December 2010

Videos

I came home from somewhere one day - Mike was watching the kids - and Edward and Sophie had been pushing each other around on the toy car. So of course I whipped out the handy camera and caught some of it on video.

video
The same day (about 30 minutes later) I got a really precious video of Sophie and Edward playing hide-n-seek in the curtain. They aren't supposed to play in the curtains, but I just couldn't put a stop to one of the most precious sounds in the world - my children's laughter.

video

Morning Outing

Mike is off of work this week, and it has been so wonderful to have him around the house. We decided to go out Monday to JCPenny's to get some curtains. The kids were absolutely perfect at the store (not a peep!) so we decided to go the playground on base by the McDonald's on the way home. We were going to go later that afternoon but figured since we were out, we would go then.

We got to the park and got Sophie out of the stroller and she ran past all the slides and over to the swings, which I figured she would. She loves the swings! So I pushed Edward over to the swings and put him a swing as well. He hasn't liked the swings in the past, but this time he really loved it!





The kids swung on the swings for a while and then they went down the slides once or twice and back to the swings. It was pretty chilly out, so at 1030 we decided to walk over to McDonald's and get some early lunch.

The kids were once again wonderful! I usually get Sophie a cheeseburger happy meal with apple dippers and she'll usually eat the bread off the burger and eat maybe half the apples. This time she ate the entire cheeseburger! Well, she ate the top bun first, then ate the burger and the bottom bun. But she finished the entire burger! And all the apple fries! She must have been super hungry. Edward had his morning bottle while he ate, and since he didn't want to take a nap, I let him play on the seat next to me. He was quite proud of himself to be sitting at the table like a big person!




It was a really great morning with Mike and the kids! We had so much fun together and it was just so stress free and wonderful. Mike and I got to talk about several subjects while the kids ate and the kids were so well behaved. I feel like it gave me a glimpse of what the future will be like when I don't have all babies and toddlers anymore and we can go and do stuff as a family on a regular basis. It was a great feeling! I'm not in any hurry to get through this season of life, but sometimes it's nice to see the light at the end of the very long tunnel!

Christmas!

Christmas was fairly uneventful this year. At least compared to last Christmas when we had a blizzard and had over 15+ people for dinner (most of whom got stranded in their houses and Mike went to get and dug out).

I hardly did any decorating at all for Christmas this year. We had a tiny tree on the dining room table, and I put up a nativity set and a train and that was it. I didn't even get out the stockings this year. I bought Edward his own stocking with every intention of setting out the stockings, but that didn't get done. I just didn't have much energy this season for some reason.

 Our Christmas tree this year.
 Our nativity set which Grammy set us from Florida last year and the Christmas train which a friend loaned me (which was super sweet of her). The kids really LOVED the train! It blew smoke and everything! One day I hope to have a Willow nativity set, but I don't think that will be quite for a while!

Mike's parents and brother drove down from South Dakota. They got here the eve of Christmas Eve and left early on Monday morning. It was so great to see them! Sophie of course couldn't believe that Grandma was back and went running to Ruth with outstretched arms as soon as she saw her. I don't think Sophie knew what to think of her Uncle John (who is 6'5" and very muscular) but she warmed up to him eventually.
Sophie, Grandma and Edward. As you can see, Sophie is just ecstatic to be in Grandma's arms! Grandma had been in the house all of I think 10 minutes from being on the road all day when this pic was taken.

Unfortunately Ruth got sick on the way down, but she was able to go to an urgent care and get some antibiotics which started helping almost immediately.

Mike took John up to Santa Fe on the train and they had a great day hanging out. I know Mike was so glad to see John and to hang out. They haven't really gotten to hang out together for such a long long time.

I ended up going to Christmas Eve service at church by myself because Mike and John weren't back from Santa Fe until half way through the service and Ruth still was feeling a bit under the weather. I was sad to be alone, but glad to be at church. I'm glad that I chose to go instead of staying home.

Christmas day was very nice, very quiet. We sat around the table and opened presents right after lunch (and right before nap time). The kids were fairly excited at the prospect of opening presents. Mike and I really don't want to spoil our children, so we decided before we even had children that they would only get limited amounts of gifts at Christmas and birthdays. So Sophie and Edward got a puzzle and book each from Mommy and Daddy. Grandma and Grandpa spoiled them a bit more and got them all kinds of neat things - including a beautiful, colorfully bright bowling ball set, some monkey stuffed animals, and more Dr Suess books. I got Mike a knife and he got me a book. :) I got a wonderful book from Ruth. It's a collection of short stories about different Christmases set on the Prairie (KS, NE, SD, ND, MN, IL) in the late 1800's. I am really enjoying it so far! We got a few other things as well.
 The tree right before opening - this is with all the presents including some from friends and of course from Grandma and Grandpa.
 GrandDad sent Sophie and Edward a recordable story of the Night Before Christmas, which he read to them. Sophie really loved it and kept looking around for him!
 Edward was just having a great time on Christmas!
 Sophie closely investigating/hugging her new monkey from Grandma and Grandpa!

I made a turkey, stuffing, candied yams, green bean casserole and homemade cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner. I think it is the smallest Christmas dinner I have made in years! It was really nice though. I have terrible luck cooking large birds, so the turkey took an hour and a half longer than anticipated to cook, but no one complained (except me). It turned out pretty good in the end.

Ruth had made some delicious ginger cookies and brought a whole lot of chocolate and other goodies down with her, so I didn't make any desserts either this year. I had made some cookies before everyone arrived, but they were gone by Christmas dinner! :)

Edward also decided to show Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle John how he can walk. On his own. For the first time! I of course missed it because I was in the kitchen cooking and he hasn't done it since. But he took three steps on his very own without holding onto anything! That's my Little Man! Walking at 9 months! (Just like both of his parents!)

We had a great church service on Sunday morning at Desert Springs Church, continuing our walk through the Bible leading up the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. Afterwards we got Chinese take out and had a wonderful feast of Chinese food for lunch.

It was a really nice family Christmas this year and I really enjoyed it. I think Mike and the kids did as well. :)
Ruth and a napping Edward (yes, he's only 9 months old!). Edward really enjoyed being rocked by Grandma!

Santa Fe with Sam

My best friend of almost 15 years came out to visit me for a few days before Christmas. It was so great to see Sam! Sam and I met in high school our freshman year. She had seen me in middle school (I hadn't seen her), but she never talked to me because she thought I was 6th grader. She was really surprised when I was in her freshman English class! And I was year older than her! Hence to say, Sam and I go way back. :D

Sam is like family to me. She is known as Auntie Sam to Sophie and Edward. Sam came out to Oklahoma shortly after Sophie was born and took great care of us. She cooked me delicious meals, organized my kitchen, went with Mike on runs (which really helped destress Mike and was much needed), watched Sophie so I could nap (I had a really rough time bringing Sophie home) and was an awesome friend.

Sam says that one good thing about having a friend who moves around so much is that she gets to visit new places every few years. Last time she came to see me, she came to Oklahoma. This time she came to New Mexico. We had a great time together.

While Sam was here, I took her up to Santa Fe, courtesy of some train tickets a friend gave me (thank you Sierra!!!). We had a great time on the train - Sam did a lot of reminiscing of her travels in Europe by train - it was great to hear her stories. The country side we passed was really beautiful - and it was just after the snow storm, so the ground was covered with snow, which got deeper the closer we got to Santa Fe (which is about 2000 feet higher than Albuquerque in elevation).





It was pretty cold up in Santa Fe, but we were dressed for it. We walked around and did some shopping and  had a great time hanging out. Mike was kind enough to stay home with the kids even though he really wanted to come. We were originally going to bring Sophie and Edward, but then we decided it was too cold and wet for them to spend the whole day outside, especially since Edward had been sick.

I did get some Christmas shopping done while I was in Santa Fe, so that was really great. Especially since I found the perfect present for Mike after wondering for weeks what I was going to get him for Christmas. (Now I just have to worry about his birthday present - his birthday is next week! It really snuck up on me!)

We ate lunch at the Burrito Company, at Maiden's suggestion. It was really delicious! We both had a New Mexican traditional dish - blue corn chicken enchiladas with red and green chili sauce. It came with pasole, which I had never heard of or tasted until I moved here, which was pretty good.

 Mural on the wall at the Burrito Company Restaurant

 New Mexican Chili Christmas Tree at the Burrito Company

We went to a really neat little art gallery (there are quite a few in Santa Fe, home of the most art galleries for one town in the United States) and saw some really beautiful art. We had wanted to visit the Loretto Chapel, which is known for it's winding staircase, but there was a wedding going on, so it was closed to the public temporarily. We both pondered about getting married in such a magnificent cathedral.

 The "famous" pic of Sam and the elk (?)
 The Loretta Chapel in Santa Fe. The Catholics sure know how to build a beautiful church!
 Sam and I are both horse nuts, so we thought this was an appropriate statue for us
 A common site in New Mexico. Maybe one day I'll get some to hang up in or near my house.

It was a great day hanging out with Sam and I am so glad we had the opportunity to go up to Santa Fe together.
Sam - thank you so much for coming out to see us! :D We love you!

Cloth Diaper Adventures

So we have bought some cloth diapers and we are on our way cloth diapering the kids. We don't have a full "stash" yet (as cloth diapers are called by their owners), so we are still doing disposables every two days or so for a day while the cloth diapers get washed.

So far, it isn't too bad at all. It really only added one load of laundry so far, and it's easier to stuff inserts into the diapers than to fold and put away a regular load of laundry, so the work load doesn't feel like it has increased too much.



Some cloth diaper covers are supposed to be line dried, so until the weather warms up AND I have a clothes line outside, I put a clothes line up in the laundry room. Let me just say that I love having a laundry room! I've never had one before and it's really nice! I had asked Mike to put it up, but he wasn't able to get it done because he was preoccupied with other things, so I put it up all on my own! I had asked Mike because I didn't think I could reach, but I can and I did! I was pretty proud of myself, if I do say so myself. :)

I bought a few different brands and kinds to see what we really like before I bought more. I bought some FuzzyBunz (the two on the far left), some BumGenius (middle) and some EconoBum (far right in the bottom picture). So far we really like FuzzyBunz the best. I also bought some other brands at Other Mother, but they are covers like the EconoBum, and we don't like those that much. They'll do when we're low on diapers, but the AIO's (All In One's) are by far the best for us.

I must say when you buy used cloth diapers, make sure you check the velcro. I had a used cloth diaper on Sophie today and the velcro looked a little iffy, (it had already been used at least three times by us), but I put it on her anyway. I was bouncing her up and down on my lap and I noticed suddenly her diaper felt weird. It had completely come off on side! The velcro had come unattached! So glad Sophie didn't go the bathroom while I was bouncing her up and down! That diaper got thrown away.

I must say it feels pretty good to not go to the store and spend $15-50 on diapers!

Random cuteness

 Sophie in her Santa hat from last year! I couldn't believe the hat she wore when she was 9 months old still fits! It was a bit snug on her though . . . And there's Edward in the background just crawling like crazy to come over.
 Sophie loves to play dress up! For now I tie a cloth diaper that I used as a burp cloth on her head and a receiving blanket like a shawl. She loves it!
 This is one reason we call Edward the Tank - he sees something in his path, like a suitcase, and he just crawls right over it!
 Edward from the summit of the suitcase.
 Sophie's excited for Christmas!
 More dress up, except with her Christmas blanket that she got last year.
 There's nothing like discovering jam for the first time!!
 Like Father, like Son. They're even matching! My men! :D
 This one isn't so cute, but I liked it. I made Sam some white chocolate cranberry cake when she came out to visit. I also made this same cake for the PWOC Christmas social. It's a Pampered Chef recipe.
 Out at Dion's for dinner. First time eating out like this in I don't know how long - it was a special occasion - Sam was visiting. Two kids in high chairs . . .hmmm . .. they were quite well behaved though.
 We had a snow storm sweep through the area so I sent Missy and Jack outside to investigate.
Sophie my little eater!

26 December 2010

Come so far

I really like having a blog - I can write out my thoughts and they are saved for me to read later, if I so wish.

I decided tonight to take a stroll down memory lane, back to fall of 2007, when I was in nursing school. I started reading about the start of the semester, the first real semester of nursing. I was so excited to be a nurse! I was so hopeful! I was enthusiastic and passionate.

Then things started deteriorating in my life. My health for one. I chronicled the journey from hopeful nursing student to being in the hospital very sick, to getting married 3 days after getting out of the hospital, to the first blissful months of marriage (even though I had no physical strength from being sick), to the task it had become to attend class - even though I had dropped down to half time and wasn't doing clinicals. I thought I wasn't thinking very clearly, but looking back I see that I was. I wrote things that seem so obvious to me now.

I had asked if the Lord was trying to show me that loved ones and family were the most important things in life. He indeed was trying to show me that. And He blessed me because I listened to Him.

What a journey my life has been. I have come so far, and not just in the past three years . . . and in so many different ways.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11

22 December 2010

Feeling much better & money woes

On Monday, I had a very discouraging day, which I wrote about.

Today I am feeling a lot better. I got my new cloth diapers washed (you have to prewash them SIX times, minimum, before you use them). Ok, it sounds like a lot of work, but I just kept turning the dial when the wash was done . . .

I finally organized/cleaned/cleared the kitchen counter and the table, well, mostly. It looks a lot better though! And I vacuumed. And we had an appointment today. Sophie and Edward rode the see-saw together in the waiting room; I wish I'd had my camera, it was so cute! Edward had to have a little help to stay on, but they both had a lot of fun with it!

Tonight we are supposed to be going to get a new printer. We haven't had a working printer in, well, I can't remember when. Have we ever had a working printer? I had one when I was single . . . which was years ago. I used to print everything that I needed to print when I was at school, but now I live in another state, so that's not doable. Anyway, it will be so wonderful have it! I won't have to make trips to the library with the kids to print off docs for PWOC, or whatever else I need printed. And I can start printing grocery coupons! Yay! And maybe I'll even type up a Christmas letter and put it in the Christmas cards that I have yet to finish and mail. The good news is that we have reams and reams of paper from when I was single, so we won't have to buy printer paper for a really long time!

Speaking of grocery coupons, I discovered couponmom.com and it is really neat! I'm going to give it a try and see how much money I can save.

I have been really convicted in the last few months about being a good steward of the money that the Lord has given us while we are on this earth. I have a good budget. The problem is that I don't stick to the budget. I think what really irks me about this is that I used to be so good with money. Maybe that was because I didn't have any. When I was single and working at the Health Sciences Center, I had a lot of bills (mainly my huge truck payment). I paid $295/month in rent for a studio apartment and after all the bills were paid and including gas money and laundry money, I had $75 a month for groceries and whatever else. And I didn't have a credit card, so I had to use my money wisely. I didn't go out to eat. I didn't go see movies. I didn't buy clothes or shoes or get my hair done or anything like that. I didn't do anything that required spending money. And I had a cat to feed. I viewed fresh fruits and veggies as treats for the rich at that time. Chocolate and other extravagances were out of the question. I had great will power. This was a good thing. Except when unexpected bills popped up. Those came out of my grocery money. The worst this got was when I had to live on one package of Ramen a day for a month because I had to pay for a repair to my truck and a vet bill. I was pretty hungry that month. I did apply for assistance, but was denied. I think that was the most hopeless moment of my life: being [really] hungry and being told no, sorry, we can't help you (I made too much money). Anyway, even though I didn't know Christ, the Lord carried me through that time.

So now I am married and have children and the Lord blesses us so much each month, but I can't seem to stay within the budget. And it really, really bothers me. I use coupons. I meal plan. I make meals from scratch. We don't go out to eat anymore (although that really is not just a money thing, when you have an infant and a very vocal toddler, it's just really hard). We have a discount on our cell phone because we're military. There is something else I can do, I just don't know what it is right now.

Does anyone out there who has been there have any suggestions? Maybe you see something that I'm doing that I shouldn't be or not doing that I should be?

20 December 2010

Discouraged today

I realized a long time ago that when I make plans, the Lord always has a better plan, ergo my plan gets nixed. And yet, I keep making plans. I'm not exactly sure what is wrong with me - must be the Type-A personality . . .

So, I had this plan. I was hoping and praying for this plan.

The Lord didn't like my plan, so He altered in a bit.

In the past I have been excited that the Lord had a better plan in store for me. And it has been a better plan. Somehow I lose sight of that when I make another plan and the Lord changes it.

I'm just discouraged right now. I'm selfish and I wanted my plan to work. You know, because I think I know what is best for me. Of course the Lord knows what is best for me and He will take care of me. I need to trust Him more.

It isn't helping that I'm really tired and both kids have been cranky today. And I started off the day running like crazy to get to Edward's 9 month well child check on time, because I forgot all about it until an hour before the appointment. And everyone was still in their PJ's and no one had eaten breakfast. ::sigh:: I really hate being late in my schedule like that.

I should go, Edward is rather upset right now . . . sometimes being a Mom is hard. Really, really hard.

17 December 2010

A little game

My friend at the Tervo Times tagged in a fun game! It's a pretty neat way to get to know other bloggers. So here goes:

4 Shows you watch:
Hmm, well, I don't really watch TV, and haven't for years . . . however, I do watch some movies on a fairly regular basis: Tinker Bell: the Great Fairy Rescue, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast. (I think tweaking the question is ok.)

4 Things you are passionate about:
Faith
Family
PWOC
Education

4 Phrases you say a lot:
"Sophie, stop that!"
"No!"
"Poke poke"
"You're silly!"

4 Things you learned from the past:
God gives second chances (that's called grace)
The more stubborn you are, the harder the lesson
Purity is so incredibly important
You can't go back and erase time

4 Places you would like to go:
Europe
Japan
China
Honduras again

4 things you did yesterday:
ate out (haven't done that in a long time!)
Doctor's appointment
Hung out with one of my best friends!! :D
Went to Target (twice!)

4 Things you are looking forward to:
Christmas service at church
PWOC starting back up
Warmer weather
Starting my classes at UCO online

4 Things you love about winter:
hoodies and scarves
watching snow fall
drinking hot chocolate guilt free
Christmas

4 people I am tagging:
Nikki
Mike
Sam
Pam

Have fun guys! :)

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in

I can post another MilSpouse Friday Fill-in! Yay! Hop over to WifeOfASailor to check out the MilSpouse Friday Fill-in questions and meet up with other mil-spouse blogs. :)

Here are this Friday's questions!

1. What is the best gift you have ever received or given? from Jessica Lynn Writes
I think that the best gift that I ever received was from my Grandmother when she gave me the money to buy a horse. I was 12 years old and I had always wanted a horse. I had taken lessons and studied about horse care and horsemanship and I couldn't wait! My Dad took my horse shopping for a few weeks. The first horse we looked at was too expensive. The second horse we looked at was just perfect. I had a pretty long list of expectations for my new horse, and he met a lot of them. Billy turned out to be the best friend that I ever had. I have countless stories about him, about the bond that we had and the time we spent together. I miss my friend very much.
Billy & I in 2005, 5 years after I sold him (I used to go and visit when I would fly into FL)



 2. Do you celebrate holidays differently when your loved one is gone/deployed or do you keep tradition? from The Albrecht Squad
So far, Mike hasn't been deployed or TDY during Christmas, so I haven't been faced with this situation [yet]. I think that it would depend on what is going on in my life at the time. For example, even though we're together for this Christmas, we are not doing what we normally do (put up a tree) because our almost 9 month old son put EVERYTHING into his mouth. We don't want to have to worry about him eating the tree, lights, decorations or an ornament hook. That and we think he'll probably pull the tree down on himself. He's already pulled a tall lamp over . . . So, this Christmas we are sans a tree. I really miss it, it doesn't feel like Christmas without it. However, it is not the first Christmas I haven't had a tree, nor probably the last. 

3. If you celebrate Christmas, do you put an angel or a star or something else on top of your tree? We have a star on top of our tree. I actually had the star before my husband and I were married, and we haven't changed it.

4. What are your three favorite websites?  
Facebook, yahoo, blogspot (various blogs). I know, I'm so original, right?

5. On your man, do you prefer . .. boxers, briefs or boxerbriefs? Or commando? (I know, I'm starting to get desperate!)  
I prefer (Mike, please don't be mortified that I'm posting this) . .. boxers. Mike is just so sexy! (Sorry family who is reading this). :)
 
Well, that's it for the year! The next time WifeOfASailor hosts questions, it will be the new year: 2011! 

10 December 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-in

It's been a while since I did a MilSpouse Friday Fill-In. I was out of town for a few weeks at a conference, then on vacation, and then after vacation there was so much going on that getting to my blog for extra stuff not related to blogging about the vacation, which I haven't really finished with, there just aren't enough hours in the day. (Did you know that the Earth actually rotates in 23 hours and 56 minutes? No wonder it doesn't feel like there are 24 hours in a day! There aren't!). So anyway, here's today's MilSpouse Friday Fill-In. The questions are from WifeOfASailor.

1. What do you see your life like in ten years? 
Hmm, ten years. That would be the year 2020. Wow . . . I'll almost 40!! Aahhh!! Almost 40, so the two children I have now will be 11 and 10. I'll probably be a homeschooling Mom. As to where we'll be living - that's harder to say. If we stick to plan A, Oklahoma. If we go with plan B, who knows where, but we'll have just moved there from Virginia. If we choose plan C, then Alabama. If the Lord decides to choose plan D, who knows where we'll be.

2. What do you like most about your job?
Well, my "job" is being a stay at home Mom, sans pay, perks and bonuses. What do I like most about being a mom- well, it's hard to say. Between the fits of giggles and the constant learning and the hug attacks and the tickle monster and the excited chatter and the smiles and laughter it's hard to choose which is my favorite. If I had to choose, I might say that my favorite part of the day is when both of my children are in my arms, smiling and laughing and we're all hugging. It's an amazing picture of love and warmth that I wouldn't miss for the world.

3. What are three things you do every day, no matter what day it is?
1. Drink a cup of tea in the morning. 2. Take care of my children. 3. Look at the view of the Sandia Mountains through the kitchen window.Not in that particular order, of course. I wish I had "read my Bible" on that list, but alas I fail to read daily.

4. What would you do with an extra five hours in the day today?
Wow, a whole extra five hours! I would spend more time the Word, read a good book, spend time cuddling with my husband and kids, and sleep!

5. What is your favorite Christmas (or whichever holiday you celebrate) cookie recipe? (please share)
My favorite Christmas cookie recipe . . . hmm, well, I would say sugar cooks because I can make cut out shapes of them with icing. I made the homemade icing last year and it turned out pretty good. Here's the recipe:
Sugar cookies:
-->
Ingredients:
¼ lb butter
¾ cups sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cream or milk
1 ¼ cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Cream butter, gradually add sugar, beat until light. Add eggs, vanilla and milk; beat thoroughly.
3.Mix flour, salt, baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to first mixture and blend well.
4.Arrange by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet one inch apart.
5.Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
 

Icing:
Hmm, well, I have misplaced my icing recipe! :( That means I can't duplicate it this year! :(

It's been fun! Til next week. Well, hopefully. I'll have company so we'll see. This is such a busy time of year!

Cloth Diapering

I have delved into the world of cloth diapers! Well, I have ordered cloth diapers anyway.

I decided to buy a few from a number of different brands to find out what works best for Sophie and Edward. Especially since they are such different frames and sizes and levels of activity.

I started by researching a week ago and there is a ton of information out there to sort from! Luckily one of my best friends, Nikki, cloth diapers her three boys and she loves it! She has been so helpful! She's even sending me stuff! :D

Hopefully things will go smoothly. I'm sure there will be bumps in the road . . . . I just need to stick with it! Personally I am looking forward to the money that we'll save in the long run! With two in diapers, we spend over $100 per month on diapers and wipes. Once I have a good stash built up, we can put that money to use somewhere else in the budget. Or maybe put it into a college savings plan. $50 per month for each child can add up to quite a bit over the years!

07 December 2010

Mary was lucky

At Christmastime,we, as a culture, tend to focus on Jesus Christ as a baby, since He did come in to the world that way. I never put much thought into that before I had children. Kind of like, oh Christmas - baby, then skip forward in a few seconds to Jesus, thirty, in His earthly ministry. I never really put much thought into all that time in between.

The first day I had Sophie, when she was so so tiny and made tiny cooing sounds and kept her eyes closed most of the time, I pondered that Jesus came into the world that way. He probably wasn't 6 pounds 12 oz, I imagine he was more Edward's size of 8 pounds. I digress. A tiny, helpless infant, totally dependent upon his mother for nourishment, his parents for comfort and protection.

Of course, He was also God at the same time. So if something happened, I'm sure He could have summoned angels to come and protect Him and help Him. That probably didn't happen though. He relied on His earthly parents to care for His needs.

Jesus as an infant. It boggles my mind. Jesus nursed. He cried. He made dirty diapers. He was human. Absolutely human from the very beginning, yet still God.

As I was driving down the road this morning listening to my toddler scream intermittently in the backseat, I pondered that Jesus too was a toddler once upon a time. Tiny fingers and toes, learning to walk, learning to talk. Except He knew the whole world from the beginning.

I wonder what it must have been like for Mary. She had a toddler who didn't scream in defiance. Who didn't bite, hit or kick His siblings. Who didn't look at her with a look of defiance before throwing His cup. That must have been weird for her. Or maybe the weird part was having a sinful human toddler after Jesus in her other children.

I wonder what Jesus would do when one of His younger siblings would hit Him or do some of the shinanigans that other children do when they are trying to get their way, or take a toy.

To me, it makes it all the more humbling and amazing and awesome that He chose, yes He chose, to come to earth that way. He could have descended from the clouds in awesome, mighty glory with angels ushering in His welcome.

But He didn't.

He came as a newborn baby. He was born into the world. He experienced hunger, cold, pain, loneliness, sibling rivalry (perhaps that was a bit one-sided though). He went through childhood. He went through puberty! And still He remained sinless. He was tempted in every way that we can be tempted, yet He was still without sin. How awesome is our God!

Just something to ponder this Christmas season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. :)

03 December 2010

Kayaking in Charlotte Harbor, Florida

Kayaking takes teamwork if you are going to kayak in a double kayak. Having canoed before, I had an idea of what I was in for when Mike and I went kayaking in a little inlet in Charlotte Harbor, in Bokeelia Harbor. Throw that out the window! Kayaking is not really anything like canoeing!

For starters, the kayak sits inches above the water and is a very shallow vessel. A canoe is a little different. Did I mention that even though I had been canoeing before, it had been about twenty years? Yeah . . . so anyway.

Mike has been kayaking several times, in open water in the Pacific Ocean. He’s brave. Very brave. I have a new found respect for how brave my husband is now. I am not really so brave. Once we were seated in the kayak, precariously, I insisted we stick close to the mangroves and away from where any sort of boat might possibly come along and capsize us. Or where a dolphin might decided to surface and accidentally bump us. Apparently kayaks are made to roll really easily. I did not want to experience that at all. Mike was very gentle and understanding and did not tease me at all. He didn’t even try to rock the boat – he’s very sweet. The water in this part of the harbor was also very dark and I had no idea how deep it was – whether it was 3 feet or 30 feet.

Back to teamwork. Teamwork takes communication. Good communication. Consistent communication. If you want to find out how good, or bad, your communication skills with your spouse are, go kayaking together in a double kayak.

Mike and I’s communication – not really so great. Mike was in the back of the kayak since he is the bigger and more powerful rower. More on that in a moment. The person in the back of the kayak is responsible for giving the person in the front directions of which way to paddle. This does not work so well when the following is going on: 1) “Go this way.” “Which way?” “That way”. I’m facing front, so the words this and that don’t work very well to indicate right and left. 2) Both persons trying to paddle on the same side to go straight (again, there was a lack of directions here). 3) Both persons trying to turn the boat – this doesn’t work when the person in front thinks she’s in charge and is trying to take said charge. The person in the front can’t turn the kayak by themselves if the person in the back is doing any kind of paddling. It was a great lesson for us. It’s funny how in life how many times we used words like “this” and “that” to indicate something instead of saying what we really mean. So much confusion results.

Back to Mike being in the back. When Mike first put his ore in the water and gave a smooth, firm, powerful stroke, I was really shocked at the power that he produced in the water. Like Wow! My husband is REALLY strong! The kayak guided smoothly and swiftly along in the water. The more Mike rowed, the more I was wowed at the power that he possessed in his person. I know that Mike is in really great shape and he can do 75 push ups in 2 minutes and carry me up to bed (all the way up the stairs!), but somehow it was like the image of how strong he is was solidified forever in my mind after going kayaking with him. It was a really neat experience! Ladies, if you want an idea of how strong and powerful your husband is, go kayaking with him in a double kayak! I have a new found respect for Mike in this way also.

We had wanted to go out for two hours, but I was so tired after twenty minutes because I am sorely out of shape. Mike was a really good sport about it though and didn’t complain at all. So we went back to the room at the B&B and relaxed a bit before heading out to dinner. What a great experience and great memories it was!

Cloth Diapering

So Mike and I decided to delve into the world of cloth diapering. We had tried it once before, but Mike said no after one poopy diaper (we didn't have a diaper sprayer or anything like that).

Now, about six months later, we're revisiting the idea of cloth diapering. Why? Diapers are expensive! Especially when you have two in diapers! Even buying the cheaper diapers and wipes.

Sure, it's great for the Earth and everything, but to me, that's a bonus. We'll be saving money.

Eventually.

I'm researching cloth diapers now and they are expensive. I have been warned that it is an investment initially. I think I will look around at stores like Other Mother and see if they have any used ones and see what works for Sophie and Edward first. I suspect they'll need different brands. Edward's bladder is just so much larger than Sophie's - especially at night. He goes through two night time diapers, the 12 hour ones, per night, while Sophie is good with one.

One hour into researching and I'm already feeling pretty overwhelmed. I've asked my friend Nikki, who cloth diapers, for advice before, but now we live in different states, so I can't just pop over and show her something or ask her something. Nikki, if you're reading this, I need help!!

Bokeelia, Florida

Mike and I drove two and a half hours south to Bokeelia, Florida, located at the northern tip of Pine Island to our romantic getaway. I’m sure Mike had certain expectations of what it would be, I know that I certainly did. All the expectations I had were blown away within minutes of arriving and that feeling was continuously confirmed over and over again during our two day stay.

Sometimes a person gets a certain picture in their mind of what a place means, or what it entails. Some might call this stereotyping . . . To me, when I think of Florida, I think gently swaying palm trees on the water, gentle waves lapping the shore, white sand beaches that aren’t packed to the hilt with people, shells, fish of all kinds, dolphins, boats peacefully cruising along the water, soft fluffy clouds in a blue sky drifting along in a slow air current, and houses made of wood with wood floors and wood shutters and for some reason, in my mind, the house is yellow. Of course, this was the image my mind had made up and it was not an image consistent with what I saw in the two years that I did live in Florida. I’m not sure I had actually seen such a place before . . .it lived only in my minds eye, like a myth conjured up by an avid reader.

I am here to tell you that such a place does indeed exist. That place is Bokeelia, Florida, and that house in my mind’s eye is the Bokeelia Tarpon Inn. There was one exception, however – it was all that and more. Much much more.

The drive was a typical drive on the central west coast of Florida on an interstate. Trees rushing by, open fields here and there, lots of palms of varying shapes and sizes. We turned off the highway after two hours and headed toward Pine Island. We passed through the very colorful (read: artsy) town of Matlachan as we crossed into Pine Island. I wish that we could have had time to stop (we were closing in on check in time and I really wanted to get there). Yes, I was hurrying to relax. Pine Island is a surprising long island. I’m not sure of the exact length, but it is several miles long. We made the turn north to head towards Bokeelia.




Main street in Bokeelia is a land and a half wide with no center line. Cozy homes of varying architecture line the road on both sides. Behind the homes on the right hand side of the street, Charlotte Harbor gently laps right up into their backyards. Every house has a view of the water.

About three quarters of the way down the road, before it ends at a pier and a restaurant at the tip of the island, sits Bokeelia Tarpon Inn. Partly obscured by a small grass mound and palms, it sits in quiet Floridian-breeze-kissed peace.

Mike and I pull up the inn – an old Floridian mansion home built in 1914 by Poe Johnson for his family. It’s a yellow wood home, with tidy white trim and very well kept. There are two floors, and in the front is a sweeping front porch, divided by the front porch railing. Above the front porch, is a second story, screened in front porch complete with a stunning  view of the water. 


We walk up the front porch and are greeted by two giant lanterns that look very old and very sea-faring on either side of the wooden door with a tarpon leaping out of the water etched in the glass in the middle of the door. Welcome the lanterns say. The inn keeper, Cynthia, is not home as she has family business to attend to. She has left us the keys to the house and our room and a kind note about hors d’ouvres in the fridge and where the wines are kept. We open the door and step inside.




Immediately I feel this sense that I have been transported back to a time where there aren’t as many worries in life. Where I am in the lap of luxary – relaxing, breathing deeply, enjoying my husband, taking time to slow down. And more than that – it has an ambiance of pre-WWI charm. Of course the house was built in 1914, perhaps right before the start of the Great War.

We are greeting by an open living room with a floor to ceiling fireplace and mantle commanding attention in the center of the room. There are two wicker couches with green cushions, two chairs to match and the dining room is off to the side. A giant double leaf fan seeming hovers high above the dining table, inviting guests to be sit and be relaxed. We stop briefly in the living room and then head up the stairs.



Directly above the stair case is a tiny steeple, if you will, rising above the second story roof, with windows on all sides, letting sunlight down onto the second floor and onto the staircase directly below. I make a mental note to make sure I get a picture of that view. We ascend the stair case and our room is directly at the top – the Caya Costa – all the rooms are named after nearby islands – and we go in. We have a room in the front of the house, directly off the second story screened in porch with a gorgeous view of the water and a lone palm by the waters edge.

Our room is very romantic, very clean and very cozy. There are hard wooden floors, six windows with white hard wood blinds, a wardrobe, a dresser, a queen bed and our own bathroom. The bedspread on the bed is green with a floral print that only enhances that feeling that this is real Florida, the way it is supposed to be. We take in everything in the room and spend some time together, and then head out to explore the rest of the house and the surrounding area.

We walked down the street to the pier and watched the sunset together. All the pinks and oranges were so beautiful, the sun setting over the water. We saw a few osprey and an osprey nest high up in a tree.











We had hors d’ouvres and a bottle of wine waiting for us in the evening when we arrived also. We enjoyed these together while relaxing in each other’s arms on the second floor porch listening to the quiet lapping of the gentle waves of Pine Island Sound.  It was such a peaceful time of relaxation together, no distractions – just us. We read to each other from the Bible and from an Old Testament devotions book that I had gotten. That was a really neat memory and one that I hope we will continue.

Before we went to bed, we opened all the windows in the room so that we could hear the water. The evening air temperature was absolutely perfect! Not that humid, cool breezes coming off the water – it was awesome!

We awoke to a gorgeous view of the water from the bed through the window. To the side of the bed, the sunlight was drifting in through the palm leaves. I think this was my absolute favorite part of our stay. Just laying in bed with Mike, listening to the water, the sunlight drifting lazily in, starting a new day of exploration and fun together.



We got up and went down to breakfast and met Cynthia, the Innkeeper. She is a wonderful lady and keeps a beautiful bed and breakfast. We dined on delicious fresh fruit, bacon, scrambled eggs, pastries and juice. We talked with Cynthia about renting a water taxi and she got everything all set up for us.


After exploring some of the local area, we took the golf cart down to the Marina where we met Capt. Dan, from Bokeelia Water Taxi, who took us out to Cabbage Key and Caya Costa Key. Capt. Dan had served in the Marines during Vietnam and had done various other jobs since then. After retiring and moving down to the area, he had worked as a Park Ranger on Caya Costa Key (a state park), so he was very familiar with a lot of the birds and the area and gave us all sorts of information.  On the way out we saw a pair of dolphins! Capt Dan circled the boat to try to pick them up and get them to play in our wake and they did! They played long enough for me to get a video and then they swam off to continue fishing.







video

We went out to Cabbage Key for lunch and ate at the restaurant there. You can only get to Cabbage Key by boat, so getting to the restaurant is a neat experience in and of itself. I kind a kind of comradary with the other diners, knowing that they had all arrived by boat as well. Mike had the locally caught crab and I had shrimp. We did learn a very important lesson while we were there: don’t assume that the market price is $15-20 on seafood. Always ask first! What is also so neat about the restaurant on Cabbage Key is all the money that is taped on the ceiling and wall in the restaurant. The tradition started with fishermen who would go to the bar there at the end of the day for a  few beers.  In the fishing career, you don’t know what the next days’ weather will be, so they would put a dollar on the wall for their beer the following day. And thus the tradition was born. Every year, as the dollar bills fall off the walls and ceiling, the restaurant donates them to charity. They donate between $10-15 thousand dollars every single year! Mike and I contributed a dollar (one of our two dollars cash) of course!






Now Mike and I are not cash carriers. We use plastic for just about everything. Another lesson learned: it doesn’t hurt to carry at least $20 in cash on you when you’re on vacation. On our way from Cabbage Key to Caya Costa Key, we realized that we didn’t have the $4 needed to get into the state park. Oops! And we were on a boat in the middle of Charlotte Harbor. No ATM anywhere near the area. Capt Dan was really awesome though and saved the day! He said that he would take us the southern tip of the island where the state park was not located and take the boat right up onto the beach. So that’s just what we did! Mike and I jumped off the boat and went exploring on Caya Costa Key. The part where we landed was in Charlotte Harbor, but we followed the beach down (it actually wasn’t that far at all) and rounded the very southern tip (and it was a tip) of the island and there the Gulf of Mexico spread out before like a glistening, shimmering silver expanse of glass. The sun was fairly low in the sky since it was afternoon and it shone down on the water – at some points it was so bright that you couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky began on the horizon.

As we walked up the beach, the Gulf turned more blue. The sand was a soft white, like powdered sugar in some places. There were hundreds of shells that had washed up from the Gulf. It was stunning. And since you can only get to this key by water also, there were hardly any people there. It felt like it was just Mike and I, walking up the beach, cooling our feet off in the waters of the Gulf. The water temperature wasn’t too bad at all, considering it was November. I don’t think I would have gone swimming, but I bet Mike would have if it hadn’t been for all the sharks we’d been continuously warned about by a number of different people.






On the inside of the island, about thirty feet from the water, was the dense undergrowth and marshy swamp land. Not somewhere we wanted to explore in flip-flops! There were a lot of osprey nests and lots of different types of birds. There were also sand burrs in the grass, which I discovered the hard way. Ouch!




After a while, we headed back to Capt. Dan’s boat and he took us back to the Marina. We saw more dolphins on the way back too. That was really neat. They didn’t want to play in the boats wake though because they were too busy fishing for food. We also passed a small key where an extremely rich 80-something year old man lived all by himself with his care-taker. He had so much money that he paid to have the mangroves trimmed along the outside of the island. Must be nice to have so much money!

After we got back, we decided to take a short rest and then head to the pier and get the kayaks out. The kayaking experience will be posted in a separate post.

After kayaking, we headed back to the Marina for dinner on the water at the Lazy Flamingo. I had some grilled locally caught red fish and it was delicious! Mike was feeling more land-loving and had a hamburger. We got a seat with a portal window overlooking the Marina. Even though it was dark, it was still a nice view.


The next morning we had another wonderful breakfast of poached eggs and bagels with salmon spread. We got to talk with Cynthia and get to know her a bit. She is a fascinating lady. Originally from Ireland, she came to the US on a scholarship to work in the hotel system. And she’s been here ever since. She was a very gracious host.

Map of the area of Florida where were at.



After we sadly packed up, we took one last walk to the pier, stopping at a nearby art studio. There was some beautiful Floridian art in there that I would love to own, including a watercolor of the Poe Johnson house (where we were staying!)  While on the pier, we got some great pics of some very friendly birds.


Then we sadly headed back to the car to head back to my Dad’s house. We felt thoroughly refreshed and renewed – what an amazing experience!