Tuesday, December 29, 2009

At the Wild Animal Park

Pictures are courtesy of Bethany Jean.


Today we took the kiddos to the Wild Animal Park. They all had a blast! Here is some of what we did and saw:



Thursday, December 24, 2009

5 Generations and a Wagon

Well, we have been traveling! First a 4 hr flight to northern California where we saw all of my relatives, then a short flight down to San Diego to see Nathan's family. Luke, though a little exhausted, has enjoyed seeing everyone.

Five generations at Christmas again:


Luke enjoying the wagon at Grammy and Papa's:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Big Boy

Today, I went to a monthly MOPS (mother's of preschoolers) meeting. The mom's were supposed to meet in one room, while the children were watched by two babysitters. Luke has not successfully been watched by anyone other than family since we arrived in Texas, so I was a bit worried. (Seriously, I tried to give confession one Saturday night at church, and between four well-meaning, experienced church ladies, Luke still screamed the WHOLE time).

Today, however, was different. Maybe it was the fact that Clara was with him, that he had cheese crackers for a snack, or that there were some amazing toys in the room, but Luke was just fine. He had fun with the other kids and didn't scream or cry for the hour and a half that I was gone. I was so proud of him! It was also nice that he jumped into my arms as soon as I came to pick him up. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Preparations

Today I packed my first suitcase for our one-month trip to California. That is the first of four suitcases that we will pack (thank you Southwest!). It is a little overwhelming to think that we are going to be gone for so long. Our house and Houston have really begun to feel like home. But we miss family so dearly that I am sure our sadness in leaving will soon be replaced with joy.

I am a little worried about leaving our house, but we have taken several precautions. Nathan is outside right now shoring up weak points (like a window) on our garage. earlier this week, he put a new deadbolt and lock on the door. We called the security force that patrols our area and they will drive by everyday. Also, we have two sets of friends who will look out for us, and our neighbors as well. Leaving wasn't nearly this complicated when we lived in our tiny apartment. :)

I have also been preparing for our trip by talking to Luke more about the people that he will see. Grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, etc.. -it will all be so much fun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

15 months

I am exhausted from staying up all night with a sick Luke, but it really is time that I blogged. There have been so many new milestones in Luke's life lately.

1. Luke is completely done with his pacifier. He was using it to help fall asleep until about two weeks ago. I was putting him down and he pulled the pacifier out of his mouth and handed it to me as if to say, "I don't need this anymore," and settled into sleep.

2. Screaming problems are almost a thing of the past (except in church of all places, or when other children scream). We began a timeout routine and the screaming has subsided.

3. Luke no longer needs to hold my hand to fall asleep. This practice developed after he stopped being swaddled and was beginning to drive me nuts, so I spent a few nights not doing it, and he stopped expecting it. (Fancy that!)

4. Luke enjoys his car rides much more now thanks to Dan Zanes. Every parent should have Dan around for such occasions. We love his lyrics and music. Here is our favorite: Rocket Ship Beach. It is not easy finding decent music for kids that parents can enjoy too. Dan promotes family music making and Luke just adores it. Thanks to the Getzses for introducing us.

5. Nathan and Luke blow kisses to one another. This is adorable. :)

6. Luke had a huge growth spurt in the last 3 months, and is now at 32" tall and 28lbs.

That is all for now. My sick baby is ready to have a meltdown.

Croup

We have been experiencing croup here. Luke and I are off to the doctors in a few minutes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Luke with Friends

Here are some pictures of Luke outside and with friends care of Christi.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fall in Houston





The perfect fall afternoon. The weather has finally cooled off, the mosquitos have all gone, asn Luke and I enjoyed an afternoon outside playing and raking leaves in the brisk air. Houston is beautiful in the fall.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good News!!

Nathan's aunt Susie is cancer free!

She has had such a long and harrowing journey. Thanks be to God and thanks to all who prayed!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Using a comb




Luke was watching me get ready for church this morning and wanted to join in!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Being Patient

Yesterday and today have been better.

Nathan reminded me that not all of Luke's screams mean the same thing. (Well, with so many, I guess they had been running together in my head :) ) Bethany also noticed that often, Luke just didn't have the words yet to say what he wanted, so he screamed. Those pieces of information were helpful to think about.

Here is my brief POA (plan of action):

Sometimes he screams when he wants something. If I ask him if he wants "x," then I can help supply the words that his screams are trying to say.

Sometimes he screams when he wants my attention. I can ignore that sometimes, or just look down and talk to him briefly and then go on with what I was doing.

Sometimes he screams because he is mad that I took something away or because another child is playing with the toy that he wants. In this case, I either take him for a brief time out, or try to distract his attention to something else.

Hopefully I will be able to tell which scream is which. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Struggling

Today has been a very trying day. Mostly, I suppose it is because I have been feeling inept as a parent. Luke is changing so much and my responses to his behavior seem too much or too little, but never balanced. The current "issue," as I said in my previous post, Luke is in a screaming phase. He screams if I take something away, if he wants my attention and I am not giving it to him, at the priest while he is giving his homily, or just for fun.

Today, while making dinner, he screamed repeatedly at me. Each time, I said "No screaming, " firmly, and placed him in another room. (Consistent, but not effective) Instead of seeing this as a negative consequence, he was delighted. He got my attention and it became a game.

So, I am trying to figure out what to do now. It is hard to discipline since he does not understand what is going on yet. I would just keep trying my current technique with him, but it seems to do the opposite of what I intend.

I think that part of the reason that he screams is that he wants more attention. I do spend time with him, but I could spend more. I do expect him to be more patient than he is perhaps capable right now.

I am confused. Parenting is humbling.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Catching Up

I know it has been a while since I posted, so here are a few snippets from our past week:


-Luke loves the book "Doggies" by Sandra Boynton. In fact, he loves pretty much anything by Sandra Boynton, but "Doggies" is his favorite. He loves it so because of the great noises that I make when I read it to him. I bark, yelp, whimper, and howl- yep, all the things doggies do. Spontaneously, while playing around the house, he will begin to howl, "Aaahh-ooooooh." It is very cute.

-I have been telling Luke things without showing him what I am talking about for the past week, and he amazes me with what he understands. For example, I say, "Luke, go get your shoes." He then goes into the box of shoes in the foyer and brings me his favorite little white shoes. He also understands when I tell him that we are going outside, going to eat, and going to see Clara.

-New words for Luke this week are cheese and juice. They actually sound very similar.

- We are in another screaming phase and I am going nuts. I think I am trying to hard to make him stop. When he screams, I pick him up and set him in another room and tell him "No screaming, that is not ok." Sometimes it helps, sometimes not.

-Luke has slept through the night 4 nights in a row. I almost am worried to write this in case I jinx myself for tonight (if it is even possible to do such a thing).

-I am so excited about going home for Christmas that I just want to keep doing things to get ready- present making, plan making, etc.... I love this time of year!


That is all for now. I hope to have more pictures or video up soon. We had a really great one that would not load. There are benefits to having a powerful camera, but it does make videos very large and hard to post.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Patch and Our Little Lion






I am tired, and don't have much energy for writing so here are some photos of our last few days:



1. Trick or Treating with friends from church

2. On a Skype call with Grammy and Papa, showing off the outfit.

3. The little lion in full gear.

4. At the pumpkin patch.

5. Cousins on pumpkins.

Friday, October 30, 2009

When Clara comes over...

...there is always dancing:

video

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yardwork

I discovered a new hobby today- yard work. I bundled Luke up (partly because it was cold, partly to prevent more bug bites), grabbed a rake, broom, and trash bags and headed outdoors. I had been noticing that, since we have the biggest tree, our lawn tends to have the most leaves on it of all the houses on our block. Not wanting to be a poor neighbor, I got to work.

I love physical labor. It always evens me out a bit, lifts my spirits, and helps me think more clearly. It was a joy to see how much Luke liked being outdoors too. When we are inside, he wants mommy as a constant companion and playmate. Outdoors, he is very independent and excited to discover new territory. Luke walked all over my leaf piles, dug in the dirt, and hunted for acorns.

Here are some pictures of our hard work:


3 big bags!
Clean entryway!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Festivities and the News

Yesterday, Nathan and I took Luke to a Mediterranean Festival (think Greek Festival with more Arabic food) at a local Orthodox church. We all had a great time. There was an abundance of tasty food, great music and entertainment, and Luke's favorite- a giant blow-up obstacle course.

Luke was in top form- walking all over the festival grounds, dancing to the music, and eating lots of pita bread. He kept wandering over to the "Amazon family obstacle course," which was a giant inflated obstacle course made for children obviously older than him. That didn't stop him though. After pulling him away from the course several times, I gave in and we went through it together. Luke surprised me with his braver, and I surprised myself with how strong I have become after carrying him around so much.

To make it through the course, you had to climb up two different walls just by hanging on to a rope and gripping your feet into a ladder built into the wall. When you got to the top, there was a slide on the other side. I held Luke with one arm and trudged up the wall, holding on with my other hand and both feet. When We got to the top, Luke wiggled out of my arms, turned on his belly and slid down all by himself. (note to grandparents: remember this was all done in a heavily padded blow-up arena).

Oh, and one unhappy thing. Luke got a bite on his ankle from something in the grass and it is red and swollen. I think it was a spider, but am not sure. We are watching him closely and have put a rub on it. Please pray that it does not get any worse. He went to church today without shoes on because it was so big. Poor baby.

Here are some pictures of our day:

Pita baby:


Dancing to the music
A view of the grounds:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Foot



Luke has big feet- really big. I bought him some shoes a month and a half ago and he has already outgrown them. He is now a 6 and 1/2 extra wide! For an idea of how big that is, Clara (age 3), is a 7 and 1/2. She is also not an extra wide. :)

I looked and looked for shoes for him. Stores do not regularly sell extra wide except stride-rite (who wanted $50). Finally, I found a pair of tennis shoes at Marshall's that worked.

Luke loves his new shoes and wants to walk around all day in them. Aren't they cute? :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Big Boy



Luke likes sitting at the table... but not in his high chair.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Language Explosion!

This past month has been amazing. I am really enjoying watching Luke play with new things, play in new ways, and learn how to communicate.

New words include:

Please (sss')
Thank you (than-tu)
Grandma (ma'am-a)
Grandpa (bompa)

Also, he is definitely understanding what I say more and more. The other day Clara was pretending to be Snow White, asleep in her coffin, awaiting a Prince to come and kiss her. Luke was designated as the Prince, so I told him, "Luke, go over and kiss Clara." And that is just what he did- a big, slobbery, open-mouthed kiss.

Luke's kisses are big and messy right now, and he likes to kiss everything. I love it when I get kisses. He loves giving kisses- he breaks out into a huge smile after he has given one out.

We have been very happily busy these past few weeks with a parade of visits from family. I will update again soon, and try to get some of this verbal communication on tape!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Book

My new book just came. I am excited. :)

Here is a snippet from the back cover:

"The Orthodox Church is a repository of great and full spiritual literature- much of which can make a mother of young children feel like she's an irrelevant, distracted, decidedly non-spiritual entity... Is it possible to flourish and grow in your faith, while changing diapers and driving carpool? Close To Home shows that the answer is yes- and what's more, that your not alone."

Seriously, since the move and since Luke has gained some key new abilities (walking!), church has felt very chaotic. For weeks, I think that I have only been in service half of the time and actually paying attention for half of that. I know that going to church and being part of its community is not just about what I get from it, but I have felt so lost lately. I am looking forward to this read.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Space Center Houston


Yesterday we went to the NASA Space Center. It was truly amazing to see all of the artifacts and scale models of the spaceships and accessories. I relived a bit of my childhood admiration for space after watching Apollo 13. Remember the famous line, "Houston, we have a problem." Houston, that's right. :) There was also a great play area that I want to take Luke to when he gets bigger. We all had a great time- here are some pictures and a video clip:

video

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A new look

It is time that this blog had a face lift. It was surprisingly easy too. Thanks Bethany Jean!

Check out Hot Biggity Blog for a free background.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pictures and Videos...

...care of Bethany.... http://bevany.blogspot.com/2009/09/fall-09.html

We had so much fun living with the Getz's while we acclimated to Houston life. Luke is especially showing signs of loneliness. Yesterday Luke and I met up with Bethany and Clara at library hour and Luke wanted only to play with Clara be held by Bethany.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Homecoming- Part 2

It was kind of an anti-climactic experience signing our papers on Wednesday afternoon (the former residents requested to stay for two days after closing as part of our contract), so I will begin our story on Friday.

At about noon. I received a call that our POD's from storage were arriving at the new house. Luke and I drove over to meet the truck and watch them drop the POD's in front of our new house. A few neighbor kids and their parents watched as well.

I met several of the neighbors that afternoon, and more the next day. I think that the new neighbors are our real treasure. We were wowed by their hospitality, and are excited to get to know them better. Also, it seems that everyone stays at home here. Next door to us is an elderly lady who is an original owner. Next to her is a empty-nest couple who were originally from Canada. He works from home. They brought over a cooler full of drinks on moving day. Next to them is a Catholic domestic missionary family just a few years older than us. They have 4 charming children and brought us the most delicious brownies. I could go on.... Life on a culdesac seems like it makes for a nice community.

Friday night was a terror. Luke was in the throes of the worst teething pain he has had yet and was up between 12am-4am. Bethany showed us the trick of watching the Sound of Music with Luke. He didn't sleep, but at least he didn't cry the whole time. Poor baby, molars are not fun!

Saturday went very smoothly. We had so many people to help and everything was unloaded by 2pm. It will take a bit longer for everything to find a place, but that is what happened. At least I have lots of closets to put boxes until I can get to them.

Sunday, Luke and I went to church while Nathan recovered. He had done a lot of heavy lifting and his back has been giving him trouble. Church was so refreshing, and it was only a 15 minute drive.

So there is the narrative. Besides that, I will say that I LOVE this house. It is the ideal family home. Thanks to all who helped out!

A Homecoming- Part 1

A few pictures to serve as an overview of our journey:

Luke on the ride over:



Enjoying a cold drink with Daddy:
The classic new homeowner picture:


Clara and her friend making use of our new back yard playground:
We love our house!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Auntie

Luke loves his Auntie just about as much as he loves Clara. Auntie gives him hugs and kisses and gives him pony rides on her knee. She has also taken care of him a bit in recent weeks as we worked on our house closing and while I had yet another bout of trouble with my teeth.

This afternoon as I was putting Luke down for a nap, I noticed him saying something different. He was saying, "say, Auntie." It was remarkably clear! Bethany has been trying to teach him to say "Auntie." I guess he thought "say Auntie" was all one thing. :) So cute.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

WALKING!!

video

Good Muffins for kids

Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins:

This is a good recipe for kids because there is no refined sugar and it helps them eat good fruits and vegetables.


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Oil or spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until just moistened.
  5. Divide into 12 muffins and bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked in centre.
  6. Remove from pan after 5-10 minutes and let cool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Since I have the time...

I love the new child-sharing program that we have going. Bethany is out grocery shopping and taking the kids to the park, so I have had time to get some things done. I worked for 1 and 1/2 hours and took care of a few things around the house. Oh, and I got a shower!

The kids seem to like it too. Yesterday, I took Clara and Luke to play at the Indoor Castle Playground at Memorial City Mall. If you go before the mall opens, there are only a few kids. They enjoyed themselves tremendously. Luke crawled and cruised around the whole place. I am continually amazed at what he will do. He crawls up and down steps all on his own. He went down the tunnel slide (with mamma). It is made of a squishy plastic material to prevent serious bumps.

Tomorrow, its my turn again, and we are headed to the Children's Museum. I LOVE the museum. It is amazing! Luke could live there if I brought enough snacks. :) I'll try to bring a camera. The problem is, that with two kids, my hands are usually full. :) This is really getting me ready for what things might be like with two little ones!

Also, Luke is really beginning to talk. When I get him up in the morning, he looks at me seriously and says "Mama, gum-a-gum." I wonder what that will turn into. Maybe Mama, good morning?

He also says "here-you-go" when he hands me an object, or when I give him an object. It sounds more like "heru-go." He usually couples this with "mama" when he is addressing me.

One more Luke note- just for kicks! When we got in the car the other day to go somewhere by ourselves, Luke looked over to the other side of the back seat and said "mara?" "Mara" is his word for Clara. He wanted to know where she was. So cute! :)

I love the new noises!

Official First Steps

Luke took his official first step this morning. Nathan, Evan and I were sitting around discussing school vouchers while Luke played on the ground. He stood up with the aid of the coffee table, turned around, and took two steps before falling into my arms. He was sooo excited and tried to do it again and again.

I will keep the camera handy. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Luke Misses His Daddy

Since coming to Texas, Nathan and I have tried to be very consistent with a bedtime routine in order to help him feel more comfortable about sleeping. At the end of our routine, I usually take Luke to the glider to rock him to sleep, while Nathan stands at the bedroom door and waves "night-night." Last night when I put Luke down, he looked toward the empty door and vigorously waved "night-night." He seemed a little confused that no one was there. He sure misses Nathan.

I also know that he misses Nathan because he has pretty much been inseparable from me these past few days. He whines if I put him down and climbs up my legs wherever I am.

In general life has been tough for Luke lately. It is good for me to pay attention to his behavioral changes and to remember to have extra patience for him right now. His life is in flux right now and needs a little extra comfort. I laid in bed last night remorseful for how impatient I have been with his night-wakings, and need for extra attention.

Sorry Luke, I am trying.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yard Sale Heyday!

Yesterday was the best day for yardsales in recent memory. Here are a few things that we found:

Things we needed-
-dining room table and 4 chairs (absolutely beautiful and light hardwood) $100
-like new Dutailer Glider and Ottoman $50
-Chicco side-by-side double stroller (for a pregnant friend) $25

Just for fun:
-a pop-tent outdoor maze $7
-set of interlocking foam alphabet blocks that can be made into a large floor mat $5

It was such an exciting day! Here are Luke and Clara playing in the pop-tent maze and enjoying every minute of it!



video

Friday, August 28, 2009

In the Good Old Summertime

Luke has been enjoying some fun summer treats.

Popsicles:
Smoothies. Notice how when I ask him if he wants some he answers, "yep, yep."

video

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Luke's birthday was a lot of fun. We had three girls and their parents over. It is kind of funny, but back in CA, most of Luke's friends were girls too.

Here are some pictures of Luke's big day (I made the cake too- a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting)
Messy baby!
Playing with M after cake-notice no clothes
Oh, and here is a random picture that we though was hilarious. This was when we were in the throes of "molarity." Molarity is the name that Evan gave to Luke's recent teething woes.
Posted by Picasa

Quick House Update

Things are going really well with the new house. The inspections were last week, and couldn't have gone better. There were a few minor problems, but those have already been fixed by the seller. Also, the pool has a great fence around it for safety that the owners will leave for us. It is called a Katchakid fence and is perfect for making a pool area safe for little ones.

Our closing date is Sept. 23rd.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Silly Boy

This is our little boy... like his new shirt? He'll be wearing it for his party that starts in a few minutes. In the meantime, here's a pre-party snack, as it were.



I was going to post a video too, but the Internet connection here is a bit too slow, and after several attempts I'm giving up. I'll see if I can't post something later.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Shot

We are taking another shot at home buying. Our eye (and bid) is on this one: http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=79296837&backButton=Y&Address=7910%20Del%20Rey

This one is in a very family friendly neighborhood close to Evan and Bethany, and has a 1/4 acre lot! When we first began looking at homes in December, we saw one on this very street. It is kind of ironic how we have come full circle like this.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Baby Luke in Texas and House Update

Not a real original title. I haven't had much time to think, so that will have to do. Here are some pictures of Luke:


Looking out the window ( a new favorite activity):Playing the piano:


Smooshing face against the window (also a new favorite):

Bath time in the ducky. We left his bath seat with Aunt B in CA, so this is the replacement. It is actually very fun- the beak quacks when you squeeze it. :)

Bath hair:

Well, for hews on the house:

We terminated our first contract. The house was terrific in every way, except that it was about 20 minutes from Evan and Bethany since you have to take surface streets the whole way. We decided to look closer to them, and I will update that search later. Someone asked me what Luke thiks about the whole situation- I think he wants to stay with E+B. He loves all the action and especially cousin Clara. :)