Christmas Cat

Payasa really got into the Christmas spirit this year. I mean, like, really. She loved hanging out under the tree and especially enjoyed drinking all the tree water.

And then a few days before Christmas Jeff and Heather came over for dinner. Paya and Jeff have a love/hate relationship, where Jeff loves Paya and she HATES him. Hates him with the fires of a thousand burning suns. She was trying to escape from him, and wound up jumping into the fireplace. But when I looked in I couldn't see her, could only hear her growling. We concluded that she must be up the chimney, so we took a picture aiming up, and that's exactly where she was. I can only assume that she was looking for Santa.


Micah Cowell Superstar

This year Micah got to play the lead role of Jesus in a living nativity scene at Biola's Christmas tree lighting. He was onstage for only about 15 minutes, but did very well and seemed to like his manger bed, which was a lot more cushy than the original probably was. His parents and all the wisemen and shepherds were played by fifth graders, and it was really interesting to see them react to having a real baby in the manger. Instead of standing there looking bored and poking each other, they all leaned over to watch Micah and play with him, which made it seem very true to the actual event. Mary would have been just barely older than the girl playing her that night, and most likely all the visitors weren't standing around shooting the breeze, they were looking at the child. I loved watching that happen on the stage.

But I think the real highlight was when one of the shepherds went to the director and told her, "I think Jesus smells kind of poopy."


Yet another form of torture

There are certain things in life that Judah considers torture. The list includes hideous things like having his hair washed, staying in bed, eating chicken or really any meat, drinking milk without a straw, being put in his carseat instead of climbing in himself, and having to go anywhere without Lightning McQueen.

Also on the list is getting a haircut. Judah just got his first professional haircut. Usually we just shave his head every few months, but one of Nathan's patients offered to come over and cut both Nathan's and Judah's hair. She used to work at a salon that specialized in kids' haircuts, so I was all excited. She started out on the right foot with Judah by playing with his toys with him for a while, and then offering him a sucker. She sat him in a chair in our kitchen with his sucker, and all was well until he saw the cut pieces of hair on his sleeve. "What's that?" he asked Nathan. "Your hair," Nathan replied, and the screaming commenced. Within seconds Judah was a red ball of snot, tears, sweat, and hair, and the sucker was covered with hair as well. There was hair everywhere, in fact. It got on Judah's hands, and then he rubbed his eyes and it got all over his wet face and.....well, it just got worse from there. The minute he was done I rushed him up to the bathtub to de-itchify him and get all the snot off his face and hands. The bath cheered him up, and by the time Kassy left Judah loved her again, and was performing for her and showing off his dinosaur pajamas. He agreed that she could come over and play again sometime, but not cut his hair.

But he would not eat the sucker after we washed it off. It had forever lost its charm.


About as crafty as I get

I finally finished the project that I was supposed to do last summer. When we moved into our place I noticed that right outside our back gate were four stepping stones, but they were that plain pink stone stuff. I decided I wanted to make some of my own to personalize our path. So I bought the huge bag of cement last summer, but that was as far as I got because I was so miserably pregnant. When I actually got around to doing the project it was a lot of fun and way easier than I'd anticipated.

The turquoise tiles I used in three of the stones are really special to me. Back in the 1960s my church installed a mosaic window with about 14 panels of tiny tiles. In the center was a cross. The tiles all came seperately, and the women of the church spent hours and hours gluing them onto large glass panels. Both of my grandmothers worked on the project. In the 1980s, when the sanctuary was remodeled, the design crew decided to take about eight panels out of the cross window to make it narrower. The extra panels were then stored away, and I later spent years looking for them off and on. Then one day I happened to mention to my friend H.K. that I was looking for them. He disappeared for a few minutes and eventually came back carrying one of the panels wrapped in a sheet. I was so excited! I took the panel to Nathan's parents' house and my father-in-law took a blow torch to it, melted the glue, and peeled all the tiles off the glass backing, which shattered under the heat. I took the tiles home in a paper bag and then spent days hunched over the sink, peeling the glue from each tile and washing them all. I didn't know what I was going to do with them, and I was saving them for some special project some day, but then I thought it would be much nicer to work them into a lot of little projects, so that I can see them all the time. I know that my grandma Kimber would be proud. I love looking at my stepping stones and knowing that they represent a little bit of family history.

I made one stone for each person in our family. The fish is for Judah, because he loves the movie Finding Nemo, and loves fish in general. He likes to eat at The Whole Enchilada because of their amazing fish tank. The river is for Nathan because he loves fly fishing in peaceful places. The blue flower is for me and has to do with C. S. Lewis's discussion of the blue flower, which I've always identified with. And the star is for Micah, because he's my little star (and it didn't stay that dirty, I had just finished it when I took the picture and the cement was still wet).



On Saturday morning I woke up with a burning thirst. Micah and Nathan were sound asleep, but Judah was up and running around in his pajamas, so I got up and Judah and I made a run to Del Taco. As usual, he said, "We need diet coke!" when I pulled in. I got my drink, and then we drove around for a while enjoying the beutiful day and the many trains passing by (5 within about 15 minutes!). When we got home Nathan and Micah were still asleep, didn't even know we'd gone.

Later in the day all four of us were out running errands and decided to stop at the same Del Taco for a quick lunch. As we pulled in Judah yelled out, "We need MORE diet coke!" Little rat.


Early morning conversation

"Hey Nathan. Are you awake?"

"Yeah. But I'm disappointed."


"Because we didn't win 20 million dollars."


"In my dream. I was flying a really crappy spaceship with some guys from Star Trek and I won 20 million dollars and I was excited because I could afford to fix my spaceship."

"Ah. Have you ever actually watched Star Trek?"

"Not in the last 20 years. I don't even like sci-fi."

"Very good. Go on."

"And I was going to repair my parents' water tower, because it got all shot up by some guys with rifles. But then I decided to put in running water for them."

"How nice of you."

"But then I woke up and was like, Darn, we don't have 20 million dollars. I guess I can't buy that motorcycle. Or repair my spaceship."


Probably wishes she hadn't decided to play in the fireplace

Payasa, after the bath. She wandered into our room the other morning, and for a second I thought we'd gotten a second cat, one that was grey instead of calico. But no, it was Payasa. Covered in soot. I only wish I'd gotten a "before" picture.


Snow in La Mirada

A couple of weekends ago we had our nieces, Rachel and Naomi, over to spend the night. Judah was overjoyed, as they're two of his favorite people in the whole world. They came over around dinner time and we all had pizza (mmm, Top Class), and then they wore Judah out for a while, and then we all sat down to watch Monsters Inc. Judah was so tired by 9:00 that he hardly even protested when we told him it was time for bed before the movie was over.

The next morning after breakfast we headed for our church, which was hosting Chili Snow Day, a combination of an old Granada tradition, the Chili Cook Off, and a new institution, Snow Day. They brought in something like 20 tons of snow and set up a couple of sled runs and two roped off areas for kids to have snowball fights or whatever. Rachel and Naomi loved it and had a great time pelting Nathan with snow. Judah, however, wanted nothing to do with the snow and spent the whole time begging to play on the playground nearby. We let him, and he loved it. Toward the end of the day Rachel and Naomi went to get their faces painted, and Micah agreed to have his painted too. Judah, of course, wouldn't do it.

Here are a bunch of pictures from our sleepover and snow play. Sorry they're out of order, Blogger was being stubborn and not letting me do things the way I wanted to. The picture above is Nathan going down a sled run holding Micah, which completely horrified all the older people.


Filler meme

Some random information, along with a random picture that I really like, though I'm not sure why I like it. Maybe it's the memories it brings back. Meme stolen from Wendy.

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night.

2.What were you doing at 0800?
Making oatmeal and drinking diet coke (duh).

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Reading about the latest fire.

4. What happened to you in 2006?
I completed the third decade of my life
I discovered a love for San Francisco
I camped with a toddler several times (NOT the best idea ever)
I got pregnant

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
"I don't know." In response to Nathan asking if the pounding upstairs was Judah getting out of bed again.

6. How many beverages did you have today?
Four that I can remember. You know what they were.

7. What color is your hairbrush
Neon green

8. What was the last thing you paid for?
A Christmas present for someone...

9. Where were you last night?

10. What color is your front door?
Standard issue condo tan.

11. Where do you keep your change?
In one of our dresser's small drawers.

12.What’s the weather like today?
Warm and a little bit Santa Ana-y (hence the fire in #3).

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?
Vanilla bean (I know, so boring! But I love simplicity).

14. What excites you?
Lots of things: good music, vintage table cloths and dish towels, arts and crafts architecture and decorating, theories of time travel, the inscriptions in the front of old books, geneaology, travel, taking pictures, thunder storms...I could go on forever.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
Constantly. But I also want it to grow out really long, so I'm always fighting with my temptation to cut it all off. I'll probably give in pretty soon.

16. Are you over the age of 25?

17. Do you talk a lot?

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?
Yep, my brother.

20. Do you make up your own words?
Not usually. But I have been known to tell people that Nathan practices chiropracty. And also that he's a chirproctologist.

21. Are you a jealous person?
Not on the whole, but more than I'd like to be.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’.
Christi, if she would just give in already and spell her name RIGHT.

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?
Probably Nathan, but I'm too lazy to get up and find my phone.

25. What does the last text message you received say?
No idea. I erase them as I get them.

26. Do you chew on your straw?

27. Do you have curly hair?
No. But it's not straight, either. Annoying.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
Hopefully to Ruby's for dinner. It's that kind of day.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
Nathan, but only to people who deserve it. Like telemarketers.

30. What was the last thing you ate?
French fries.

31. Will you get married in the future?
Only if I decide to take up polygamy.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?
I think I've seen two in the last two weeks, and they were both not that good. One was "Daughter from Danang," and the other was "Elephant." Both pretty disappointing. But we recently saw "The Last King of Scotland" and that was really really good.

33. Is there anyone you like right now?
I like a lot of people. Most people, in fact.

36. Did you cry today?

37. Why did you answer and post this?
Because I wanted to update but didn't feel creative enough to come up with something original.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey.
I'd love to see it on all your blogs, but I'm not into demanding. :)


From Whom All Blessings Flow

My parents
Our huge family
Good books
Enough food
Our church
Autumn leaves
Our country
A new day

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Confessions of an American Diet Coke Drinker

Hey Barbara, remember how I said that I wouldn't go to the kitchen to get a diet coke in the morning if it meant that I had to actually walk from one building where I was sleeping to another building where the kitchen was? How I said that involved too much effort?

I take it back. This morning I got up and realized there was no more diet coke in the house, and I freaked. So I got both kids dressed (though Judah had no shoes on), got myself dressed (if you count yoga pants and an old fleece shirt that double as pajamas as "dressed"), strapped both boys into their carseats, loaded up the car, and drove two miles to the nearest Del Taco and ordered a 32 ouncer of my favorite poison (as Jeff calls it). When Judah saw where we were going he said "We need diet coke!" Too right. How addicted am I? Is there a twelve step program for this? I might need it.


Little posers

I have to admit, I'm not into football at all, professional or otherwise. The only time I cared about football was when I was in highschool and my friends were on the team and I was a water girl.
But then Jeff married Heather, who is a bona fide Buckeye. She and her family love everything Ohio State, and they love their football team with a love that is pure and holy. At Jeff and Heather's wedding I adopted Heather's grandparents as my own, and they agreed to adopt me, too. And the boys! So Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Leo sent Buckeye wear for Judah and Micah so that they would be "raised right." So here they are, in all their glory. And I'm just waiting for the day when a true Buckeye fan stops me and comments on their clothes, and I will have to admit that I know less than nothing about how Ohio State's doing this season. And then I will go directly to the mortuary and pick out my tombstone, because the Wrath of the Buckeyes will surely descend on me and end my pathetic, non-football-loving existence.


Bug off!

We've recently had an invasion of paper wasps (I think) in our backyard. We noticed them swarming about a month ago so we had an exterminator come out and take down a couple of nests we'd seen, and it seemed to solve the problem. But then today I was about to go outside and I saw that there were dozens of them flying around again. We don't know of any other nests, and they don't seem to be hanging around in any one place, so I have no idea what they're after. Have any of you had this happen? How do you get rid of them? It's a bummer to not be able to go outside.


Let the corruption begin

Here is Judah enjoying an outdoor jazz concert in Mammoth a few months ago.

He's quite the music lover, which makes me extremely happy. He loves listening to music while we drive. And it all started out innocently enough. We introduced him to Jack Johnson at a very young age (like, a month) and found that no matter how loud he was screaming if we put in the In Between Dreams album he'd stop at the very first note of Better Together and then sit quietly and listen. It didn't work with any other album.

Jack Johnson is still his favorite, but he's happy to hear any music at all and sometimes gets impatient when one song ends and we have to wait more than a nanosecond before the next song begins. One day I turned the music down so I could make a phone call. Judah said, "Listen to music!" I pointed out that he could still hear it, to which he replied, "Listen LOUD!" That's my boy. He loves Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn, and John, and recently he's really into Cake. I love hearing him walking around singing No Phone. I can't wait until he's older and I can start taking him to concerts with me. Nathan has flatly refused to ever go to a Cure concert, so it'll have to be Judah.

I'll leave you with a few lines from another Cake song Judah loves. The words are insane, but they're REALLY fun to sing along with.

In a seedy karaoke bar by the banks of the mighty Bosphorus there's a Japanese man in a business suit singing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. And the muscular German cyborg dudes dance with sexy French Canadians while the overweight Americans wear their patriotic jumpsuits.


Free (almost) to a good owner....

Isn't she pretty? And yet, STILL no one wants to buy her! She's sitting sadly in the parking lot at Nathan's office with a sign on her windshield, waiting....

A lady called me last night to ask about the Mustang. I talked to her for a long time, and we arranged to meet this afternoon so she could look at it. When we got there she looked at the car a little, then wanted to drive it. That was fine, so we climbed in, and immediately encountered problems. I could have told her she would, but I'm too polite. What it boiled down to was: if you're five feet tall, and you weigh close to 300 pounds, a two door Mustang is probably not going to be the most comfortable car for you. The steering wheel was too low, the seat was too far back, and the seat back was too tilted. All fixable, but she was so heavy that the automatic seat controls wouldn't work while she was sitting in the seat.

It took a while, but she finally got all the things adjusted, and of course it was the car's design that was bad, because "It's fine if you have long arms." Obviously, the Ford people discriminate against the short-armed people. She got the car started and we began to drive, and I discovered that she didn't have the first clue about how to drive a car that's meant to perform. She currently drives a Civic, which is a workhorse and nothing showy, and she drove my car like a Civic. Or something. She said all this stuff about liking stick shift and liking a powerful motor, and then she spent the whole drive making disparaging comments about my car and how it didn't have any pickup. I wanted to smack her. Because OF COURSE it felt like it had no power. It won't, if you insist on shifting into second at 15 mph and third at 20 mph, and never getting it up to a decent speed. I told her she had to be a little rougher with it, because you could demand a lot of it and it would give it to you, and she said "I don't like to be rough with my cars." At that point, I knew she wasn't going to buy it, and I don't think I would have sold it to her anyway. She had no idea what I was talking about. Lady, go buy yourself another Civic.

So I still have this Mustang for sale. I'll sell it pretty cheap, but only to someone who actually knows how to drive it.


Poor stripey ball

Micah had his two months doctor's appointment yesterday. Everything looked great. He now weighs twelve pounds twelve ounces - almost double his birth weight! And he's 23 inches long. He did really well while Dr. May examined him, didn't cry at all. But he had to have four shots, poor little guy. And he SERIOUSLY disliked that. I can sympathize. He screamed and turned tomato red, and after he calmed down he slept for the rest of the day. He was so asleep that when Nathan picked him up out of his swing he just curled up into a little ball and kept on sleeping. Poor baby.

Judah went with us to the appointment and had a fabulous time because Dr. May spoils him ROTTEN! He gave Judah a sucker last time we were there, and he's talked about it ever since. So yesterday morning when I told Judah we were going to see Dr. May he started talking about it again. So I practiced with Judah so that he could ask nicely: "Please may I have a sucker, Dr. May?" And he had it down. But when Dr. May came into the room yesterday Judah hurled himself at him, laughed when Dr. May scooped him up, and shouted, "Gimme my sucker!" Holy cats, Judah, you make your parents look like mannerless slobs! Fortunately, Dr. May thought it was funny (it really was), and gave him not only one sucker, but one for Micah as well, telling Judah he had to eat it since Micah has no teeth yet. No arguments there.

Here's my current favorite picture of our sweet baby.


Some updates

I haven't been too inspired to write lately, but it's time I put SOMETHING here, to keep things going. So here are some random notes on things that have been happening lately.

We haven't heard anything else from the SWAT teams in the area. I assume they're convinced I'm not Jessica. I'm also thinking that Placentia's Finest owes us a rather large gift basket from Harry and David's as an apology of sorts, but I doubt that'll happen. So I threw away the letter I got from them today asking for donations to the PD. Sorry, not inclined to support a department that doesn't do its homework properly before practically battering the wrong door down.

Several weeks ago Dave and Julie got married! The wedding was gorgeous and the weather hardly could have been better for an outdoor wedding, even though it rained the night before and the morning of. It was clear and beautiful by 5:00. Every detail was perfect and everyone I've talked to said it was one of the most enjoyable weddings and receptions they'd ever been to. We all had so much fun, and it was so special that it all took place in Dave and Julie's backyard. So homey, and so elegant all at once.

And then we went to Bakersfield two weeks later for my cousin's wedding, which felt a little bit like going to the prom, since my cousin and his new wife are both 18 and all their friends are still in high school. Judah and Micah went with us, so we spent the wedding in the crying room at the church and the reception listening to Judah beg endlessly for the M & Ms that were in the favors. Oy.

Speaking of Judah....he is currently at an age that is so simultaneously wonderful and frustrating. We can't seem to make him obey us consistently at all, he asks the same questions over and over again (especially when he wants something and we're saying no), and the littlest things tend to become huge tragedies. I had a tantrum on my hands the other day because I took away a catalog (Hammacher Schlemmer, of all things) that Judah had been looking at because it was nap time. But at the same time, there is so much that's great about this age. He's learning so quickly and talking in full, long sentences, and saying ridiculous things, and being really loving toward us most of the time. He loves to read and can quote sections of his favorite books. And just yesterday I told him not to do something and he said, "Why not?" for the first time. So I think we're getting to the part where it's "Why why why?" all the time. Sigh. It's gotten pretty tough. We find ourselves shaking with rage and then laughing hysterically, sometimes within the same minute.

Micah, on the other hand, is so much easier than I'd even dared to hope for. He's pretty laid back, and when he's not, he's easily comforted by his pacifier and by being held. He'll sit in his swing happily for long periods of time and will eventually fall asleep there. This is all so new to me, after Jude, who had to be held almost constantly at this age. I never knew this was possible, this having a baby that we can put down without it screaming. It's amazing. He's starting to be awake kind of a lot during the day and is beginning to smile at us and laugh a little bit. It's so much fun.

Oh, and Judah had his movie debut the other night! Two years ago a couple at our church, Rick and Heidi Garside, asked if Judah would be willing to be one of a set of triplets in a movie they were filming. Judah was about three months old and I accepted for him. So on a sunny afternoon in June we filmed a crowd scene at La Mirada Regional Park with Judah and two other little boys from our church. The movie is finally completed, is called Faith Happens, and was premiered at our church last Sunday night. It was really really good. They're looking to put it in wide release in theaters, hopefully soon. It's a movie with a bunch of different story lines, all true, and all taken from the lives of people at our church. It's really amazing. Check out the trailers here. Judah performed exceptionally well, for a three month old. :)

Micah also gets to be an actor soon. My cousin is organizing the Christmas tree lighting at Biola, and asked me if they could use Micah as Baby Jesus in a nativity scene. I hope he becomes an actor someday, because how impressive would it be on a resume if you could list that your first role ever was playing Jesus Christ?

That's about it for now.....


Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

So we're lying in bed this morning at 7:00. Nathan had just come back to bed from unlocking Judah's door, Micah was asleep on my arm, and I was talking to Judah, who had come in to hang out. All peaceful.

And then we hear someone pounding on our front door and yelling, "Police! We have a search warrant! Open the door!" Nathan and I jumped out of bed and I grabbed my bathrobe. Nathan had the misfortune to only be able to find a hoodie of mine and wrap it around his waist before we both ran downstairs, where the pounding and yelling was continuing, only now they were saying they were going to break the door down. Nathan started shouting, "We're coming! Don't break down the door!" Someone shined a light in our front window and I heard him yell to the others, "A woman and a man are coming. There's a baby on the stairs."

Nathan managed to unlock the door, and as the door was opening we heard, "Put your hands up where we can see them!" and I saw the barrel of a gun coming straight at me. We moved back and six or seven SWAT guys and a woman, guns pulled, raced into the house and started firing questions at us, backing us over into a corner, asking who else was in the house, asking if I was Jessica. I said no, and that we didn't know who she was, and that we were the only adults in the house. I yelled to them that there was an infant on our bed as five of them were marching up the stairs. I was terrified that they wouldn't see him and would hurt him. We could hear them upstairs and downstairs going from room to room, shouting "Police! Search warrant!" as they opened doors. Meanwhile, the woman was patting me down and a man pulled out a pair of handcuffs and was about to cuff Nathan until they realized they'd probably made a mistake, and that if they cuffed Nathan they were going to see a lot more of him than they wanted to. So they made him sit down in a chair while they continued to search our house, and someone kept assuring me that they'd explain and that they'd get it all cleared up "real fast."

Finally they finished their search, someone carried Judah downstairs to us, and asked if they should bring me the baby. I said yes, but then they sent Nathan upstairs to get him and to get dressed, and he went, giving them all a full moon view on the way. When they all came back down and in from the garage and the backyard they explained that they were helping Placentia PD with a series of busts on gang members, and they'd been given our address as the last known address for one of them who, apparently, looks like me. We told them we'd just moved in a few months before and didn't know who was here before us, at which point one of them said, "Welcome to Placentia!" and kind of laughed. They brought in a document to prove it to us, and apologized a lot before they left. The whole time we were talking Judah was running around between our legs, thinking there was a party going on. One of the guys said, "Gosh, I wish we had some stickers to give him." And another one answered, very gruffly, "We don't carry stickers."

We went outside to see them go, and saw that there were a lot more of them who'd been outside the whole time. When they were gone a neighbor across the way opened her door and stuck her head out to ask if we were okay. I walked over and explained it all to her, and she told me that before they pounded on our door they'd surrounded our house with their guns all out.

It was so weird, it was just like on TV. We're just thankful we all got out of it safely. There were so many ways it could have gone bad, and I'm more scared now that I've realized that than I was when they were pointing their guns at me. What a way to wake up, huh?


The best season of all

It's not oficially fall yet, but here in Southern California it might as well be. Around here, fall begins when the tourists go home and the heat breaks. From what I hear, I spent one of the hottest days of the summer, Labor Day, in the hospital and I should thank my lucky stars for that. Everyone kept telling me how miserable it was outside. When we took Micah home the next day it was a little cooler, and by the end of the week it felt positively fall-ish outside. And it's been like that since, just a little warmer on some days. The evenings are even a little cool.

But here's the real proof of fall: we went to Ruby's on the Balboa Pier for lunch today and there was hardly anyone there. Yes! I love it when school starts and everyone goes back to the midwest or wherever they came from and we can reclaim the beach. The weather was perfect, just a little breezy and sunny and clear, and the ocean was pretty calm. We sat at a table near the open door while we ate. It was Micah's first trip to Ruby's! He slept through the whole thing in his carseat, propped up by the window with the sun on his toes. The rest of us ate delicious food and played with Judah's menu, which was in the shape of a vintage Corvette. After lunch Nathan took Judah to the playground to play on the slide for a while, and then we headed home. It was so nice and relaxing and quiet. The beach is definitely the best in the fall.



Micah Kenneth Cowell was born on September 3 at 12:56 am. He weighed 6 lbs 10 ozs and was 19.5 inches long.

I guess he thought it would be funny to come on Labor Day.

Micah's doing really well, and the rest of us are too, so far. Nathan and I are really tired... but I guess that's what you expect. Judah's doing great and loves his new baby brother and is very gentle and caring with him. He celebrated by wandering out the front door of our condo yesterday evening when no one was looking and taking a walk around the complex. We sent out a little search party and found him before he got too far, fortunately. Then he was awesome and went to bed after getting up only once, and actually slept until 6:45 this morning. It was wonderful.

More pictures and updates later, it's feeding time again and Judah's begging to watch a funny cats video on You Tube. Ha!


Waving goodbye to my sanity.....again....

I thought I would at least have until the baby was born before I started existing in a fog for a while again. But that's turned out not to be the case. Judah is totally putting us through it right now.

The sleep issues seem to be never ending. I've talked to my friends. Most of them are like, "No, we didn't really have any problems switching to a bed. We had to spank him a few times and then he got the picture and has stayed in bed ever since." I've heard of only two other kids that are as strong willed as Judah in this area, and in both cases their parents ended up locking their child's bedroom door from the outside and letting the kid cry for hours until they're exhausted and fall asleep on the floor. This sounds totally cruel, I know, but I also know that to some kids (Judah) there is simply nothing else that makes sense. Rewards don't matter, punishment doesn't matter, the loss of privileges doesn't matter, pain doesn't matter. The only thing that seems to matter to him is total separation from us. Any attention at all, even us standing silently in the doorway and pointing to the bed until he climbs back in, is enough to make him get up for more. So I'm almost at the door locking point.

That being said, he's improved a lot from the nights he was getting up 65 times in a row. He usually goes down now pretty easily for Nathan, only getting up three or four times, but he won't really do it for me. Naptimes are a battle when Nathan's not home. But the real kicker is the morning wake-up time. For whatever reason, since he's moved to a bed, Judah is up at 5:15 every morning without fail. And won't go back to sleep. Before, when he was in the crib, his normal time was between 7:30 and 8. Then for a little bit after the great move it was about 6:30 or 6:45 and I complained and whined. And now I'd give years off my life to have him sleep until 6:30. 5:15 is a hideous time to be awake. And then there was last night, when he woke up at 3:50 and never went back to sleep at all.

Do you know what it does to a parent's mind to start the day, against your will, before 4 am? I spent the day fighting a series of nervous breakdowns. There's a reason prisoners of war are sometimes tortured with sleep deprivation. It will totally break you.

And now Judah has croup. Croup. Seriously. I thought that went out with the 1800s. At least now I know why he was up so early this morning. He's got a high fever and a barking cough and a sore throat, poor little guy. It's truly pathetic. He actually consented to sit still on my lap for like ten minutes this afternoon. He was so worn out. Tonight when we put him to bed he was literally begging for sleep. For the first time in weeks, maybe months, we put him down, left the room, and haven't heard from him since. I'm hoping this sickness is a blessing in disguise that will re-set his sleeping habits, back to something a little more acceptable to everyone.

So, anyone out there have any suggestions? Did your kids do this? Know any kids that did? Is there any hope that I'll stop being perpetually tired in the next five years?


World domination

Steve told me about this video on You Tube, so I thought I'd check it out. I think it's pretty funny, Nathan thinks it's dumb. But I also think it's part of a clever attempt by the Germans to dominate the world through our children. Zoe is addicted to it, and Judah is now too. He's seen it a couple times and loves it. And a few minutes ago he was walking around saying "We are ze monkeys" with the German accent and everything. Nice.


Five Years

It's been a great five years. I love you, Nathan!


Holding on

I read this poem for the first time the other day, and it was exactly what I needed at the time. It's kind of long, but if you stick with it it's totally worth it. Enjoy.

The Eternal Goodness

O friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.

I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.

But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds;
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.

Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.

I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.

Ye praise His justice; even such
His pitying love I deem:
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
The robe that hath no seam.

Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord's beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.

More than your schoolmen teach, within
Myself, alas! I know;
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin,
Too small the merit show.

I bow my forehead to the dust,
I veil mine eyes for shame,
And urge, in trembling self-distrust,
A prayer without a claim.

I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed stake my spirit clings:
I know that God is good!

Not mine to look where cherubim
And seraphs may not see,
But nothing can be good in Him
Which evil is in me.

The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above:
I know not of His hate, - I know
His goodness and His love.

I dimly guess from blessings known
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.

I long for household voices gone,
For vanished smiles I long,
But God hath led my dear ones on,
And He can do no wrong.

I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.

And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.

No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.

And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait with muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.

O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.

And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on Thee!

~John Greenleaf Whittier


The Big Boy Bed

Here is a shot for you of Judah in his Big Boy Bed, also known as The Torture Chamber from Which He Escapes at Every Opportunity.


My life revolves around sleep

When I was in college I used to head out with my friends around midnight, get back to the dorm by four or five, sleep for a couple hours, and then go to my 7:30 aerobics class in my pajamas, work out for an hour, eat a quick breakfast, suffer an hour of statistics for behavioral sciences, sit through an hour of chapel, and then handle a full day of classes and work. And then around midnight we'd head out again. So in any given 24 hour period, I was getting an average of four hours of sleep. And I did it pretty consistently.

Maybe this is why, throughout the history of the world until the last 150 years or so, women had babies when they were teenagers instead of in their mid to late 20s. You just have more stamina when you're younger.
If I was 18, would Judah's recent sleep patterns tear my world apart like they are right now?

Two weeks ago we put Judah in a twin bed because we had to. It was not our choice. It was either that or risk him breaking both arms climbing out of his pack and play. The bed has, so far, been a total nightmare for us. Every night when we put him down he would wait for us to close the door, then get up and open the door and come out. Repeatedly. Like, 52 times in a row repeatedly. We tried telling him from another room to go back to bed. We tried ignoring him completely as we put him back to bed. Finally we tried spanking him. That worked pretty well, but we felt awful about it, and then came the night we had to spank him eleven times. And then I had a nervous breakdown. Because you just can't keep doing that to a kid.

I researched on the web, I talked to my friends, and I told my Bible study group. Some of the women there (God bless them forever) suggested that I call Focus on the Family because they have counselors there you can talk to for free. So I called and fully expected to have them tell me to just keep spanking. But my counselor told me to stop. He very wisely pointed out that even negative attention is still attention, which is exactly what Judah's looking for. He suggested going back to the ignoring idea. And he was so very very nice about it.

So for the last four nights we've been standing outside Jude's door at bedtime and every time he gets up one of us goes in his room, waits for him to climb back in bed, covers him up with his blanket, and leaves the room. No talking, no eye contact, no touch that's not necessary. It's total boot camp for us. The first night he got up 52 times, the second night it was about 65. Last night was only three (super long day), and tonight was 21. So I think we're getting there.....slowly.

Tonight was my night to do the routine. On the twentieth round Judah tried to push past my legs and get through the door. I caught his arm and turned him around, and in the process his head just barely bumped the door jamb. He grabbed his head with both hands and I felt bad, so I leaned down and whispered, "I'm sorry. Are you okay?" He didn't answer, just went and climbed in bed. I covered him up and left, he was up a minute later. I went back in and watched as he then DELIBERATELY turned and banged his head against the wall, trying to get a reaction out of me again. I didn't know whether to laugh or yell at him. In the end I did neither, just followed him back to bed again, and after that he gave up and went to sleep. I can't believe the lengths that a two-year-old will go to to drive you crazy.


Think they're not watching? They are.

Approximately 48 things made me cry today, and most of them began with Judah. I'm simultaneously in the throes of pregnancy hormones, sleep deprivation, and encountering the iron will of a two-year-old. The results are getting uglier by the second. But one of the things that made me cry today was actually good.

Judah and I went to Nathan's office to meet him for lunch, as we often do. A lot of times there are other people with us like one or more of our parents or various other family members, but today it happened to be just the three of us. We locked up the office and began to walk toward the restaurant next door. Between the office and the restaurant there's a pretty long stretch of sidewalk, and then there's a parking lot we have to cross. Judah knows to stop at the curb before the parking lot and wait for someone to catch up and hold his hand, but a lot of times he'll hold our hands the whole way. So when he turned to us outside the door of the office and said, "Hold hands!" we both reached for his hands, thinking that's what he wanted. But he wouldn't take our hands and kept insisting, "Hold hands!" Finally we realized that he wanted us to hold hands with each other. So we grabbed hands, Judah smiled at us, and moved to Nathan's other side to take his free hand. A few seconds later he leaned forward to make sure we were still holding hands.

If you think your kids aren't paying attention to how you're interacting with your spouse or that they don't care, think again. Judah's only two. And already he looks for proof that everything's good, that his world is secure. How wonderful and how scary to be trusted like that!


The most boring blog on the internet

I know! It's been almost a month since I posted. In that month, I've either:
a) been too tired out to post
b) had nothing to post about
c) only had material that would be unwise to post about here.
So tonight I'll try to come up with some reader-friendly content, and let you know what's been going on for the last month.

Jeff and Heather got married on Sunday! And that's where a major part of my time and energy went. There were so many events leading up to the day, it seemed like we did nothing but run from place to place for a week. But it was all worth it. The wedding was beautiful and we all had a good time, and the bride and groom are happily off in Aruba, hopefully relaxing on a beach somewhere.

We also took a five day vacation to Mammoth with my entire family, and it was so much fun. Except for that one night where Judah was up virtually the entire night. But he did better after that and did great during the day. He loved being constantly surrounded by his cousins and having people to play with at all times. AND having Papa and Grammy on hand for five solid days. We stayed at a condo belonging to a family in our church and it was the perfect place for all of us to be. PLUS, they had an old-school, arcade-style tabletop Centipede game that we all spent hours playing, even the little girls. They were really good at it.

The baby's a boy. Did I tell you? I'm pretty sure I did. He's doing well, extremely active. I don't remember Judah moving around this much before he was born. I went to the doctor's today and he said everything looks pretty good, except that there's a very slight chance that I have gestational diabetes. I have to go take the test again (yuck) sometime next week. I'm not too worried. I only have eight weeks to go, how much of a difference can it really make at this point anyway? I'm also far more uncomfortable this time around than I was last time. Part of it's definitely the heat. I've never minded the heat, but being this pregnant makes it really miserable.

Judah has definitely become a two-year-old. He's discovered the words "no," "mine," and "lemme have it!" All words I don't like hearing. And he's developed the infuriating habit of disobeying me while he looks me straight in the eye. All of this I could handle if his sleep habits hadn't gone totally haywire at the same time. He is now climbing out of the pack and play easily, and does so at every opportunity. The last few nights we've spent large amounts of time putting him back in bed. Last night it took an hour, today at his nap it took an hour. Other times have varied. And then suddenly tonight we put him down, he got up once, Nathan went up and put him back down without a word and without making eye contact, and we haven't heard from him again. We don't dare to hope that the war is over, but it's nice to have a night of peace. We just got my old twin bed back from my brother, so we're planning on moving him to a "big boy bed" in a couple of days. Wish us luck....

I think that's about it for now, at least the major things. I will try to be a better blogger from now on, but no promises.


The Little Family Big News

My big brother Dave is Engaged!

Yes, with a capital E. Dave asked Julie to marry him on Saturday, just before they went to the Police concert at Dodger Stadium. And I'm so excited for them! The wedding will be on October 13th in the evening. And I get to be a bridesmaid! Or matron, I guess. I feel so honored to get to be a part of the wedding in that way, it's gonna be great.

Congratulations, you guys, and welcome to the family, Julie! Are you still sure you wanna be part of it after the dinnertime conversation on Sunday? :)

In honor of the newly affianced couple, here is their list of the five best restaurants in the area, which Julie emailed me quite a while ago and I never got around to posting.

Del Taco
Las Brisas
El Cholo
The Melting Pot


I'm it

Barbara tagged me for this one, and I'm a sucker for these, so here we go. This is a little bit hard for me, though, because there are so many good places to eat around here!

1. Add a direct link to your post below the name of the person who tagged you. Include the city/state and country you’re in.

Barbara (Pretoria North, South Africa)
Kristy (Placentia, California, USA)

2. List your top 5 local eating places.

Roy's (Newport Beach): I know it's a chain, and I somehow feel like I shouldn't include chain restaurants, but I have to anyway. Nathan and I go there every Valentine's Day. Their food is delicious (it's all in the sauces), and the best part is the flourless chocolate lava cake dessert.

Trastavere (Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica): This one's a lot about atmosphere, because it's fun to sit at the tables outside and watch the crowd go by. But the food's good too, especially the oil and garlic dip stuff they give you with bread as an appetizer. Yum.

Roman Cucina (Sunset Beach): We owe Christi big time for introducing us to Roman. It has, hands down, the BEST chicken parmagiana I've ever eaten, plus kitschy Italian atmosphere. Also, a lot of the time they play a video on the TVs of a fireplace, and it makes it feel cozy. Although Dean and I sometimes get fixated on watching for the hand with the poker to poke the logs in the fire.

Star of Siam (Long Beach): I love Thai food, and this is really good Thai food. Everything I've ordered there I've liked: they have especially good satay with peanut sauce, and the spring rolls are great and the chicken curry...and all of it. Oh, and their mango sticky rice is awesome. If you get the chance to go there, insist on sitting outside on the patio. So much better that way.

Stubriks (Fullerton): I've discovered that it's nearly impossible to get a really good steak outside of an actual steakhouse, so I just don't order steak anymore unless we're at Stubriks (or possibly the North Woods Inn, but that's another story). I love their filet mignon, and I've recently discovered their black and blue steak, which is incredible. Oh, and they have really good squaw bread too.

3. Tag 5 other people and let them know they’ve been tagged.

This one is hard, because a lot of the people who I know read my blog don't actually have blogs of their own. I'm gonna tag them anyway! :) Email me your picks and I'll post them, okay?

Ashlee (you can talk about either Phoenix or Orange County...)
Dave and Julie
Steve and Arla


So much more manipulative than asking for a glass of water

Judah's sleeping issues seem to be evening out a little, in that he goes down for his naps and the night now without crying. He's still waking up really early, like 6:00. And it's messing with my head pretty bad, but I suppose I just need to learn to live with it, since I hear from friends and family that when he was getting up at 7:30 or 8:00, THAT was the unusual part. If I was ambitious, I'd use that early morning time to head over to the park and take a long walk with Judah, but honestly, I can hardly see straight at that hour. I'd surely walk right into the lake.

Anyway. The other day Judah was refusing to take a nap and Nathan and I took turns going in and being stern with him. And Nathan discovered that Judah has developed a stalling technique. While he was lying on his back, he looked up at Nathan, tears running down his cheeks, folded his hands and said, "Let's pray." How can you not melt at that? So Nathan said, "Okay, what do you want to pray about?" And Judah responded, "Jesus loves me." As in, Even though you and Mommy have turned against me, Jesus still loves me. Nathan said, "Yes, that's right, Judah." And then Judah goes, "Jesus loves you." As in, even though you do horrible things to babies, like making them take naps, Jesus still loves you. I'm glad he's got down the basics, but couldn't he just ask for a snack or something? It just feels so wrong to finally tell him, "No. No more praying."


Some notes on Judah

I've been realizing that the main thing I do with my life is raise Judah, and yet I hardly ever talk about him here: how he's doing, what he's up to, the things he's learning. Here's what's been going on recently.

Judah initially handled the move the best of all of us (I think I'm handling it the worst). He loves the new place and enjoys exploring it and likes the big backyard where he can ride his trike and "play golf" and throw his ball around. The first couple of nights and days here he slept really well, as he always has. But he had begun to climb out of his crib and fall to the floor and hurt himself a couple days before we moved, and the climbing and falling continued here even though we lowered the crib mattress as far as it would go. So about the third night here we took his mattress out of the crib, shoved it into a corner on the floor, and pushed boxes up against the edge of it so he wouldn't roll off. And that arrangement worked really well until we got our hands on a toddler bed. Because Judah's room is near the top of the stairs and he's not quite used to the setup, I was worried that he'd get up in the night and fall down them. So we bought child safety handles and put one on the inside of his door. BIG mistake. Huge. The first morning he discovered he couldn't get out of his room he freaked out and hasn't slept well since. He's always been really reliable about going to sleep right when we put him down without crying, and getting up at a decent hour. For the last few days now he's been taking horrible naps, crying for a long time at night and getting out of bed, and then waking up for the day at 5:30. It's thrown us all for a pretty bad loop. My parents took pity on us last night and kept Judah overnight so that we could get some sleep, and that was so great. We decided today that the toddler bed is being set aside for a while, and Judah is sleeping in his pack and play, which he can't get out of. I think he just got too many changes at once. So we'll let him get used to the new place, get back into a routine for a while, and then try the bed again in a month or so. I know it's going to be hard no matter when we do it, but right now we all just need time to settle in.

Judah amazes me every single day. He's talking so much, putting words together into three and four word phrases, and he speaks pretty clearly. One thing he says all the time is, "Watch the fish movie?" which is Finding Nemo, and if we say no he immediately says, "Watch Cars?" And it's just so cute! He loves all his cousins and talks about them, and gets along especially well with Leah, who is only three months older than he is. They're having a blast lately, since they're both at the phase where they're starting to actually play WITH each other instead of just NEAR each other. They had fun this morning at my parents' pretending to sleep on a blanket on the floor. Judah has known all his numbers for a long time now, and loves to identify them wherever he sees them. He can count to twelve perfectly, but after that it gets a little shaky. And, thanks to Nathan's mom, he knows all his letters by sight and can tell you what sounds they all make.

But my favorite is his newest trick: when we're riding in the car sometimes he pulls off his shoes. Then he sticks one leg straight up in front of him with the bottom of his foot flat toward the ceiling, and then he balances a shoe on the bottom of his foot. While we're driving. And then he says, "Look at that! That's amazing!" And I have to agree, no matter how many times I see it.


Feeling Guilty

The Loudest Bird in Placentia has abandoned her nest outside our window. Was it something I said? Or maybe something Payasa said?


Movin' on up/The Money Pit

I debated on what to title this post. I could've gone either way.

I don't even know if I mentioned our move here. And I'm too tired to go back and look. So, about a month ago we found a new place to live. We moved in Saturday, and for the most part we're happy here. The condo is in a really nice community, it's huge, and the rent is incredible for the square footage we're getting (which means that if I mentioned the amount everyone in Orange County would turn green with envy, and everyone outside of California would gasp and go into immediate cardiac arrest, because you could buy 300 acres and an old, quaint farm house in Wisconsin for what we are now dropping in one month in rent).

So, the condo has some really great attributes. It's about 2,000 square feet, has three bedrooms, two fireplaces, a great patio and backyard, and a vaulted ceiling in the front room. Also, it has an attached two car garage, laundry hookups, and TONS of storage space (three linen closets so far, and I keep finding more). So the major selling points are all in place. It's everything we wanted.

But it's the little things that will kill you, right? Before we moved in, I thought that the trains would be our biggest problem. The train tracks (you know, the busy ones along Orangethorpe) are about a quarter mile from our new place. So far, that's the least of our worries. The big problem is that the condo owner lives in Texas, and the property manager is probably managing this place for him as a favor and wants to do as little work for us as possible. So when I called the gas company today to check out a gas leak in our kitchen and they shut off the gas to our stove and told me we couldn't use it until the gas line connecter had been replaced and I called the property manager to tell her about it and see what could be done she said "I'll send my husband to fix it Saturday." SATURDAY??!! We've been eating out almost exclusively for a week already because our kitchen was packed, and she's telling me now that we have to keep it up for almost another week. Seriously, we can't afford this. And it will probably be longer than that, because her husband's not really a repair man, just a guy who owns some tools, so he'll look at it one day, buy the parts the next, "fix" it the next, we'll call the gas company to come check it again the next day, and they'll tell us it wasn't done right. Then probably the guy will try it all again before admitting that we actually need to hire a professional.

Our other major concern is that we discovered last night that the water heater is leaning way over to the front, owing to the fact that the floor underneath it has collapsed. And it has no earthquake strapping on it, which we're thinking is illegal in a rental property. Worst case: the water heater falls over, breaks the gas line, and the place burns down. Or it falls over and falls on someone and seriously injures them. So Nathan talked to our handy "repairman" about what needs to be done (the floor needs to be replaced) and the guy goes, "Do you know how much work that would require?" You have got to be kidding me. So basically, who cares about the law or about safety, how much work am I actually gonna have to do, and how little can I get away with? We're dealing with schmucks. The owner seems cool, but the property manager is driving us crazy.

And those are just the two major things. Aside from those, the plug apparatus is broken on both bathtubs (a bad thing when you have a two year old), the carpet is seriously stained, the linoleum is peeling up in the bathrooms, one toilet doesn't work right.....and it goes on. And to top it all off, The Loudest Bird in Placentia likes to sit in the tree outside our window (5 feet from my head) at five in the morning and yell at our cat.

I know I'm complaining so much, but I'm really just getting it out of my system. We're so discouraged right now, but we know that once this all gets taken care of, this is gonna be a great place to live. But it's hard right now to get past the rocky start.


My Grandfather's Great-Grandson

My Grandpa Kimber was famous (and still is, I suppose) in our family for many reasons. Not so much for the reasons you'd think: because he was a kind and loving father, a good provider, a wonderful conversationalist, a man of God. He was all of those things, and we loved him for them. But I'd have to say that the things that come to mind most strongly are his sense of humor and his sense of adventure. Oh, and his bad table manners. He used to do the grossest thing at the table: to get someone's attention, he'd take his fork and press the tines very lightly into their arm. AFTER HE'D EATEN OFF IT. It got our attention for sure, so I guess mission accomplished.

And then there was The Throwing of the Food. Not to start a food fight or anything, but because he couldn't be bothered to pass food through regular channels. Like, say, handing it to the person next to you so they could send it down the table. He didn't throw everything, it was mostly just bread, usually toast, since the toaster was at his end of the table. You'd think he was born and raised in the backwoods of Tennessee, right? But no. He came from a wealthy family and grew up in Newport, Rhode Island. Posh. And still there was the bread throwing. It got to the point that he'd throw you the bread or whatever even if you were only a seat away from him.

This morning Judah pulled the bookmark out of my book (again). It's metal and kind of special to me, so I asked him to please bring it to me. He looked at me from five feet away, smiled, and, instead of taking the three steps, threw it to me. At that moment he looked just like my grandpa. Toast will never be safe around here again.


The Cowell Carpet Cleaning Magic Trick

People on Wendy's blog are talking about cleaning/baby care solutions that are much simpler and more basic than the complicated products on the market today, so I thought I'd post my favorite trick here.

I spent 25 years of my life using a rag to clean up spills on carpet. You know, rub and rub, and then maybe use some carpet cleaning product, and then watch the dirty spot appear a few weeks later. And then my sister-in-law taught me this magic trick: when you spill something, get a full glass of water and spill it over whatever you spilled. Then get a towel, put it over the whole mess, and walk around on it for a while. It's that easy! The liquid will come right up - all of it. I've used this trick to take red wine out of white carpet. I swear by it.

Am I becoming quite the little housewife, or what?


Just when I thought the teen angst was over

Lately I've really been loving the song "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn & John. They've been playing it pretty frequently on KROQ and it's such a refreshing change from their steady diet of Killers, Peppers, and Nirvana. I realize that this song probably isn't typical of the group, since the female singer isn't in the group, so I can't say anything about the rest of their material, but this song just does it for me. A little Morrissey, a little Bjork, and a little Mazzy Star. It's angsty yet fun and very unlike anything else we're hearing today. I would have loved it in college and immediately run to Lovells and bought everything they'd ever recorded.

My music choices have evolved a lot in the last couple of years, but I'm finding that at the core my taste is fairly unchanged, I'm just more into a different side of it than I was years ago. I hardly ever listen to the Cure anymore, but I'd still list them as my favorite band and jump over large buildings to see one of their shows. U2 is one of my constants. They're just always good. The Smiths now tend to make me laugh where they used to make me smile cynically (because they were so RIGHT! Life SUCKED!) and feel sorry for myself, and Depeche Mode is like super dark chocolate these days: amazingly good, but only in small doses. Recently most of my music sounds like variations on Toad the Wet Sprocket. A little more sparse, a little bit introspective, but with a light side and a bit more fun to it. Even Owen can be a little comical in the midst of anguish.

I've been going through my CD collection in the last couple of weeks, downloading most of it to iTunes and preparing to **GASP** sell the CDs to Lovells where they will be thrown back into the sea of used music where someone like my college-aged self will spend hours excavating gems for a good price. I'm a little sad to see it all go, but really, it's just 500 CDs sitting in my closet, collecting dust and taking up space. So I'm sorting through it all, and have you ever noticed how songs evoke memories? There's the Flashback Cafe CD that introduced me to the Art of Noise. I bought it on a road trip to Idaho (don't ask) and spent much of my time playing "Moments in Love" over and over. The Starseeds album that I stumbled on at Borders. My guy friends all burned it for their collections because they thought it would be good make out music. The Brian Ferry album that I bought for the songs "More Than This" and "Slave to Love," which now remind me of working at Maternite that one summer. The Glove album that I bought in London. The Church album Starfish, which had "Under the Milky Way" on it, and for that reason made its way around Sigma at Biola because it was one of those songs that everyone loved but no one could remember the artist. And so many more.

They're worth so much more to me than the dollar the guy at Lovells will give me for each one. But it'll be worth it. Perhaps some new Cure fan will stumble across my old albums and it will be their own little piece of heaven: a ready-made complete collection. Too bad Lovells won't buy all my bootlegs too.


A little bit of sunshine

Phoenix! Here we are. We got here at 10:00 on Wednesday night, and it was 85 degrees. I think that's the coolest it's been since we got here. Yesterday we walked, like, half a mile and I thought I was going to die. It was probably 100 out. Summer in California during the third trimester is going to be rough.

Anyway, we're having a blast here and loving hanging out with Brian and Ashlee and Eszter and the babies, getting to know Josiah and Sophia better. They are absolutely adorable and I love them. We're about to take Judah and Eszter to the YMCA for some swimming, so I'll update more later, but here are the things about Phoenix that we love:

1. QuickTrip! Seriously, who would have thought a gas station convenience store would be something I hope they have in heaven? 69 cent 32 ounce drinks? Are you serious? AND caffeine free diet Coke on tap? No way. Also, orange creme and white cherry slurpees and tons of other flavors. My goal is to make it there every day of our visit. I'm doing good so far.

2. The splash park in Tempe. Ashlee and I took all four kids on Thursday and there were foutains and waterfalls and tiny rivers and spray toys. So much fun. If only there were something like that back home! Maybe there is, and I just need to look for it.

3. Downtown Tempe. One part Denver, one part Third Street. It's such a great area. I would have loved it in college, and I'd love it now, anytime I didn't have a small child with me.

4. Watching Judah interact with babies. It's a good little preview of how he'll be as a big brother, although I realize that it'll probably be different once it's our baby and he realizes that it's permanent. But he doesn't seem to be jealous when I holding the babies or I tell him I can't do something because I have to change a diaper or whatever. He's really careful of them, and his eyes light up when he sees them and he goes, "OH, BABIES!!" Also, I love hearing him say their names: JOE-see-uh and Soapy.

Gotta run, more later.....


All the news worth telling

I'm squeezing this post in during the few minutes of down time I'll have today, because there are some things that must be announced.

First of all: It's a BOY! Another one! We found out this morning during my ultrasound, and we couldn't be happier. And it couldn't have been clearer. I was a little bit sad at first, not necessarily about having a boy, but about not having a girl. Does that make sense at all? But the more I get used to it, the more I'm loving the idea of having two little boys running around playing together. They'll be the best of friends, I hope. And together they may stand some chance against their legions of girl cousins. This new little one makes the score almost even on the Cowell side of the family. We got to watch the baby for a while on the screen, and he was extremely active, waving his arms around and sucking on his hands and all. It was weird watching him move so much and not feeling it at all. I think I still feel very little of what he's doing, at this point. The tech said he's healthy, he has lenses in his eyes and four chambers in his heart, and no cleft lip or palate. And Nathan says his spine looks great! Now if we could just come up with a cool name. Judah has told me it should be Lightning, after Lightning McQueen, of course.

In other news: we found a new place to live. We're moving May 19th, when I'll be about 24 weeks pregnant. That's much better than last time, when I was 36 weeks along, and due in less than a month from the move date. The new place is a treasure. It's a condo in Placentia and it has just about everything we could have asked for: 2 car attached garage, laundry hookups, three bedrooms, large backyard. We're ecstatic. And it's HUGE! It's 2000 square feet, almost twice the size of our current apartment. We don't even know what we're going to do with all the space, there's a whole room that we don't have any furniture for. We're thinking of making it a playroom/library. It will be so nice to spread out some, and to be able to store things where it makes sense, rather than having our crystal in the linen closet, say. Or our tools in the heater cabinet. There are a couple of things we're not thrilled about, but they're minor. The decor is pretty 70s: the bathroom sinks are faux marble, yellow with red streaks, and the kitchen counters are white tile with dark yellow flecks. Ug. But it's worth it. We can't wait to be moved and settled in.

So that's what's going on around here. We're flying out tonight for Phoenix to visit Brian and Ashlee and Eszter and Josiah and Sophia, and I'm having about three heart attacks an hour thinking about having Judah on an airplane. There was a story in the news a couple months ago about a couple that got kicked off a plane because their child was being so noisy. I'm afraid we're the next newsmakers. I guess if nothing else, Judah and I can hang out in the bathroom for the hour flight. I can't really imagine anything more miserable than spending an hour in an airplane bathroom with a screaming two-year-old, though, can you? We're armed for the flight with new toy cars, a banana, goldfish crackers, teddy grahams, and a ton of books. So that all should keep him busy for at least the first forty-five seconds. Pray for us!


My new hero!

Isn't this template AWESOME!? I love it to death, and I have Wendy to thank for it. Wendy, who I wrote to last night begging for help and referencing this template, which I though was beyond hope. Lo and behold, I checked out my blog this morning and there it was! Flowers! And vines! And something that's not generic! I love it love it. Wendy, thank you so much for your help and being willing to share your talents. Now if only I can manage to not mess it up when I add the links back in.... Seems easy enough. But you know me.


Blog apathy

I've fallen very behind on my blogging. And the reason, as you may have noticed, is that I hate my template. I'm tired of all the templates Blogger offers, so I've been looking around for templates on other sites. I found some cool ones here, but all the ones I've tried have some kind of corruption so they won't work, and I don't know enough html to find the errors and fix them. And I found some really great ones on another site (which I can't find anymore) but couldn't figure out how to make them work. I'm not computer savy enough to figure out anything that doesn't have specific, step-by-step instructions. So I'm kind of stuck at the moment, bored with the old, unable to find new. I'll figure it out soon, hopefully.


If only I'd known!

If only I'd known about this contest when I was in high school! I totally would have won. I had this pair of shoes that I bought at Payless that I LOVED. They were fake Converse low tops, white and green and blue plaid. They were made of flannel. I wore them everywhere, and I'm not sure I ever wore them with socks. For a while they were acceptable for school and being in public, but then they started getting holes in them that frayed around the edges and those little plastic things came off the laces and they started unravelling. So then they became my tide pool shoes. I wore them to Little Corona all the time and waded around and got them full of salt water and who knows what kind of animals. And let me tell you, they STUNK. My mom made me keep them in the backyard like a bad pet.

I would have won that contest with them hands down. I finally had to throw them away when the material separated from the soles completely. I've missed them ever since, and I've never stopped looking for a replacement pair. Let me know if you ever see some....



I love telling people they're my brothers

This week I've been basking in reflected glory. I definitely have the two best brothers in the world, and I'm always proud of them just because of the ways they lead their daily lives, but this week they've both gone above and beyond.

Steve was just voted teacher of the year at his school. This is a pretty big accomplishment, and while I'm so happy for him, I'm not surprised even a little bit. He teaches sixth grade, and every time I've visited his classroom I've been so impressed with all that he's got going on. I think if I had him as my teacher in sixth grade I would have actually paid attention and maybe not been so bored all the time. I mean, how many of you had teachers that would have shown a Strongbad cartoon in class as part of a lesson?!? That's just so cool. There's always all this creative artwork all over the walls that his kids have done, he's got a corner that's set up like a living room where the kids can hang out and read, and every once in a while he hosts a themed dinner and movie night to reward his class for extra good behavior. And that's a big deal: the kids all dress up, and there are "waiters" and everything. So he definitely deserves to be teacher of the year. He now has a shot at being teacher of the year for his district. I think he should win!

Also this week, Dave got the chance to play in the pro/am part of the Toshiba Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club. He played two rounds, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday, with a different pro for each one. I got to go see him play on Wednesday. It's the first time I've ever seen him golf, and it was amazing! He's so good. His pro that day was Tom Wargo (who I'd never heard of) and he was really good. Dave said he's a funny crusty old man. Dave started out the round that day with two birdies, and then went on to play his best round ever, coming out at the end with a score of 72, which was just one over par. I loved watching and seeing how much skill the game takes, and it was really nice to walk to whole course, following the fivesome around. I know that Dave would love to play in this again next year, and I can't wait, because I want to go again. Maybe next time I can be a caddy!


So much more than just laziness

I know I haven't mentioned it here yet, but.....
I'm pregnant!
And that's my excuse for not blogging much lately. I've been feeling really tired and pretty sick. This baby hasn't been treating me nearly as well as Judah did, and having to care for a toddler all day is only making it harder. But earlier this week I finished the first trimester, so I'm hoping that things will start looking up soon! Plus, my own personal pharmacist, Ashlee, is coming in from Phoenix this weekend and bringing me a survival kit, so that should help too.

For whatever reason, I haven't felt very safe in this pregnancy, so I've kind of waited a while on telling people. But I had my second doctor's visit today and things seem to be going exactly as they should. One thing that's worried me is that I only gained a pound in the first twelve weeks. With Judah I gained seven or eight. The nurse today told me it's normal for babies to be different (which I knew) and that this is good. I just expected to gain more, since I gave up on watching my diet almost the second I got pregnant and have been inhaling pasta and bread like mad. This baby likes Italian food. This baby also likes Peeps, so it's a good thing it's Easter time.

We also got to hear the heartbeat for the first time today! That's probably the most exciting part of the pregnancy for me, because it's the first time you can actually tell there's something there that can't be mistaken for a vicious form of the flu. I don't look any different yet, I can't feel the baby, so hearing the heartbeat kind of makes me realize, okay, there's really a baby growing in there and it's alive and well. My doctor didn't make any guesses as to whether it's a boy or a girl, because he doesn't believe that you can tell by the heart rate. What scares me more than a little is that he also wouldn't confirm that it's just one baby. There is absolutely no biological, pre-existing reason that I should have twins, but Ashlee's got me scared to death and I'm so afraid that in a few weeks I'm going to be watching an ultrasound screen and saying, "Please tell me that's anything but a second baby."

Needless to say, we're very excited about the prospect of having another baby. Nathan wants another boy, I'd like a girl. So it's a good thing we don't get to choose! We have a girl name all picked out, but we have no idea what we'd name a boy. Any suggestions, peanut gallery?



I never had a sister. I have two older brothers, and I couldn't possibly love them more, but it's just not the same. Brothers don't especially like to gossip about people at school with you, you can never offer them any of your clothes to borrow, and their shoes, though cool, don't fit you. And they tend to get upset if they find you borrowing their jeans or money (sorry about that, guys). But one of the cool things about brothers is that through them you get sisters. I got my first sister when I was 17, and my second when I was 18. I didn't get any more sisters until I was 26, when Nathan and I got married.

I now have four great sisters, all unrelated to me by blood, but all so wonderful. There's Arla, who is so bubbly and fun, and so good at commiserating when I just need to complain. Jenna started out as one of my best friends in college and went through all that craziness with me and then became a sister. Ashlee I feel like I've known my entire life, even though it's really been about nine years, and she's my advice guru. And Heather, the newest sister and, at this point, an honorary one, who is so easy-going and easy to be with, and has a sly sense of humor. I love these women so much, and I know that I could go to any of them with any problem I had and they'd listen and advise wisely. They are all such good examples to me in such different ways and I love having them all nearby. Even Ashlee still feels somewhat close, since we talk more now than we did before they moved.

Last weekend Brian and Ashlee were in town and Nathan and I got to meet the twins for the first time. We met up with them and with Jeff and Heather at Ruby's on the pier in Balboa. After we all ate the boys took off with Eszter and Judah and the three of us girls sat together on the lawn with the twins. While Ashlee fed them we all sat in the sun and talked about whatever came to mind, serious things and funny things, and it was such a truly female conversation, where we jumped from subject to subject and then back again, and no one ever got lost. It's funny, because without the Cowell boys I don't think the three of us would have ever been friends. But now I can't imagine my life without them. We work so well together. I'm not sure we'd be this close, even if we were actually sisters. And I'm so glad to have these sisters. All of them.


Feeling nostalgic

For a few years now I've been logging in to bubbs through the internet. Yes, I'm still on bubbs. Yes, it's my primary email still (in fact, my only email). The reasons are many, but it's mostly because I don't use email enough to bother with setting up a new account with another provider.

Anyway. The other day I logged in as usual, went to send an email, and found that there was something wrong with the system and it was leaving off the option to send. So I could write letters, but couldn't send them. Frustrated, I left it until the next day, figuring it would fix itself. It didn't. So I finally did what I should have done forever ago and downloaded the bubbs program from the Biola website so I could log directly in to bubbs. I think I waited so long to do it because I'm from the bubbs generation where you actually had to obtain a disk with the program on it from someone who already had it, and it was a total pain. Obviously, things have come a long way since then.

So tonight I got online to check my mail and decided to wander around a little since I hadn't in years. And it made me so sad. Not that bubbs is bad, it's just so changed from what it used to be. When I started using bubbs, way back in 1994, it was THE THING. Everyone was on bubbs as much as they possibly could be. I'm feeling all nostalgic about it, so here's a little trip down memory lane for those of you that were there in the beginning.

Remember when you'd chat someone on bubbs rather than walking across the hall and knocking on their door?

Remember when resumes were like the personal ads? They were so important, and your resume totally defined who you were. Online tonight I checked out a number of undergrads, and couldn't find even one who had a resume. We used to spend hours crafting ours. They were works of art.

Remember the two hour per day time limit? And how some of us used to log on at 10:00pm so that we could be on for four straight hours? Come on guys, I know I'm not the only one who did this......right?

Remember when you could see the whole list of who was online in one box? And when seeing 50 people on at once was some kind of record? And then there were the times you were the only one there...

Remember chatting with four or five different people at once? If you set up your screen right, you could see four chats at once, and usually the people you were talking to thought they were the only one you were chatting. Unless they typed fast, and you took too long to reply. Then they'd catch you and sometimes you'd be in trouble.

Remember Soapboxes? There are still a few out there, but not many, and not like they used to be. They used to be pretty popular. I had one called The Hanging Garden that was not very exciting, but I liked it. Dale Lee deleted it (without asking or informing me) several years ago.

Remember when Chaos was the biggest news on campus? It was like a soap opera. Everyone loved it.

Remember when people checked their email obsessively, whenever they had a few seconds, on their way from chapel to McNally, or at the breaks of night classes?

Remember how often this conversation took place?
Person 1: "Do you know so and so?"
Person 2: "No, but I've seen her on bubbs. She's a jerk."

Remember Dot's Poetry Corner? It was all these serious, angsty poets, and they posted their very heartfelt efforts there. And mostly Barbara and I went there when we needed a laugh. Because inevitably there would be a line in just about every poem that was so beautifully awful, so tragically funny. Usually that line was something like "I get out of your deceptive car." So perfect.

Some of you weren't there. Dave, I know you're shaking your head and thinking I'm a big nerd. But it was this whole sub-culture and it was all brand new and so cool. Several of the friendships that turned out to be very important in my life would never have started had it not been for bubbs. I wonder what it's like on campus these days? Are people still into it, but just in different ways? I suspect that it's mostly a resource for kids now, a way to collect and turn in assignments, and that for entertainment most college students are on myspace or other places like it. It seems so strange. It was such a huge part of our lives in so many ways. Sometimes I miss it, being part of a small, tight community like that. But I guess that's what college was all about anyway, huh?