Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baby Fix (for those who need one...)

Stare down.

Anyone else see the sneaky slyness behind that smirk? She may look like Daddy... but faces like that make me think she's all Mommy in there!!"
"Laugh it up, woman... every minute of twisted pleasure this gives you is another month of therapy for me." Just out for a stroll... taking in my turf.
The face that lights up our days.
"You gotta be kidding me! Where's the boob??!"
"You got a problem with my face???"
"I know we're bonding here Grandma... but are you going to do something about the mess in my pants or should I ask the dog?"
"You want an autograph, or what?"
The White T-Shirt Club. Membership requirements: white t-shirt (or onesie), and a butt chin. Activities: wet burps, farts, and dolphin babble.

Don't miss new posts below if you haven't checked in for awhile!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oijoy Photo

I can't believe it's taken me this long to write this post... I wanted to share these pics forever ago and just now am getting to it. Our wonderful friend Janet just happens to be a fabulous photograper. We couldn't wait to utilize her services after Ella was born and we were definitely not disappointed! These are a few samples from two seperate shoots. You can check out more of her work on her website (click here). For those of you in the Chicago area (or even Indiana), she's offering a really great special right on October 18th (see her blog), that includes a photo shoot, prints, and holiday cards! Check her out! You won't be disappointed!!






Tuesday, September 23, 2008

True Patriotism

So I'm sitting here at working trying to keep myself awake at 2:30am... I decided to wander back to the beginning of my blog and reminisce a little bit. After many posts I stumbled across one with a photo that I am both embarrassed yet impelled to post once more.

Many questions come to mind when I see this photo...

#1) What were they thinking???
#2) Why are his pants cranberry colored instead of red?
#3) How can my sister be smiling?... she should be old enough to know how humiliated she should feel. Even I, at the young age I was, obviously tried to make a fast get-away which must have been why Dad was holding me.
#4) Are those carob chips I'm feeding myself??
#5) Were we on our way to the Republican National Convention?
#6) How big was the fight between my parents that morning when my mom realized my dad had packed the wrong color pants???

And most of all... "WHY???"

The fact that there is an obnoxious looking carnival type tour boat in the background just makes the whole thing more disturbing. Now, I would love to confidently declare that I'm one of those people who couldn't care less about what other people think of me. I try harder than the average 20-something woman (shut it Eric... I still feel 20-something), to portray myself as a confident and secure individual... one who could proudly where white after labor day, shorts despite my hideous trunk legs or heels that made me tower over my husband. But the truth is - I tend to like the "socially acceptable" approach to things - generally speaking, within reason, and pathetic as that may be. I'm forever traumatized by the fact that I was taller than all the boys that I had to dance with at miserable Jr. High dances, I haven't worn shorts in I-don't-know-how-long, and I rarely wear white before Labor Day let alone after - everyone knows it adds poundage!

Which leads me to my next question about the photo... is this where all my insecurities began? Was it all the laughing and pointing I must have endured that day? Oddly enough... my parents actually look happy. Like they didn't have a care in the world. That obviously included any concern for my personal reputation and image. Had I misbehaved the night before? Wet the bed? Or were they just trying to teach me one of those life lessons. Like, "God loves you just the way you are... even in crazy patriotic clown outfits".

I can't help but wonder sometimes if there are random strangers out there, who could take one look at this photo and recall, "that's them!! That's the crazy patriotic polyester family we saw on our vacation that year!". Or worse... perhaps there are many more of these photos out there in random vacation photo albums of complete strangers. It's quite possible that we were one of the most popular "attractions" that day. Most likely many were posing for their own cameras with the four of us in the background... I can see them now... posing with their hands over their heart reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as we mulled around oblivious to their mockery... in our tight American Flag family of four...

Ella... if you're looking back and reading this right now... I'm sorry about the 4th of July outfit we decked you out in a few months ago. I'm also sorry in advance for dressing you in the mini-skirt with "Pooh" embroidered on the butt, and the banana costume I photographed you in last week. I guess it's one of the twisted pleasures of parenthood... dressing your kids up in things that adults wouldn't be caught dead in. However, that sure doesn't explain the picture above. Just be thankful baby girl... that your father and I don't label our butts with reference to human waste and pose with them next to yours... nor do we have photos of the three of us sprawled out in buntings of fruit.

"... and to the Republic, for which it stands... one nation, under God, with liberty, and justice, for all".

(don't miss the update on Haiti below)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Haiti Update...

The Thede family who work as missionaries in Haiti have been posting some updates on the critical situation in Haiti. You can read specifically for yourself on their blog. Apparently about 60% of the crops are gone (avocado and banana trees). People are living on their rooftops (and giving birth their according to Kris). There is a main road that connects Port-au-Prince to the island cities that was completely destroyed in the hurricanes. You can see in the pictures below that much of it is under water. It is impassable... and is the main reason why food and supplies are not being transported to the people who need them most. Please continue to pray hard for the construction and repairs of this road. They are working on it... but do not know how long it will take. Many Haitians were starving and suffering during the country's most stable times... we can only imagine their state now after this disaster.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lest We Forget

I have had the privilege of traveling to the beautiful country of Haiti twice. Once was with a group from our church to help with the construction of a new church on the mainland. The second time was with my fellow nursing classmates, to work in a hospital on the small island of La Gonaives. In the wake of horrible destruction caused by Hurricane Ike in south Texas last week... I find it interesting that we hear next to nothing about the small island countries that it first roared through before arriving in the Galveston, TX. Granted... we are most interested in news that directly affects our own countries... but Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Knowing the destruction that has occurred here, considering the strength and power of America... have many stopped to even think about or inquire on what has happened elsewhere? Allow me to enlighten:

Hurricanes Fay, Gustav and Hanna all passed directly through Haiti before Ike followed as a Category 4 storm. It was a Cat 2 when it hit Texas... so just imagine.

Ike destroyed the bridges that transported people to and from the main island to the smaller ones (Gonaives included), thus cutting off transport of food and medical services. (When we worked in the hospital in Gonaives, many people would travel all day by foot and boat to get there for various services because it was all that was available.)
At least 1,000 are dead and those numbers are likely low since bodies are being disposed of quickly into mass graves.


Over 1 million (12% of the country's population) have been left homeless and food is scarce.

Prior to Ike hitting... many attempted to leave the island of Gonaives by swimming or wading through flood waters to cities 45 miles south.

The storm has destroyed crops and livestock... they struggled to survive before the storms came through. Now they are left with less than the nothing they had before.

We think $4/gallon is bad... gas in Haiti right now costs $12.00/gallon. Those who still have the capability of traveling will likely not be able to afford it. Patients will not be able to receive treatment or medications.
For many - their only resources for any food at all have been obliterated. Just try and wrap your brain around that. Water borne diseases already existed... just imagine what will happen now. Because the bridges were destroyed... there is NO access to the three major cities separate from the mainland... relief efforts are desperately trying to get to people by boat and air... but very few have been successful. Lots of food and relief has made it's way into the country... but since the bridges are out, the outer communities are hardly seeing any of it.


President Rene Preval told The Miami Herald: "This is Katrina in the entire country, but without the means that Louisiana had."

If we do nothing else, please pray for this country. There are any number of organizations that can easily be found if you wish to do more financially. World Hope International is a great one to start with. The missionary Doctor who we worked with at the hospital in Haiti has a blog - and she is occasionally including updates on the situation where they are.

Don't mean to minimize the events locally... but I can't help but feel like we are forgetting many that are far worse off. And not to sound bitter... but the answer of so many who chose to ignore warnings to evacuate Galveston was simply, "we had nowhere to go". With all due respect... the people of Haiti had "nowhere to go". I wouldn't wish this destruction on anyone... but a small spiteful side of me wishes we would direct our primary assistance to those who probably would have gladly hopped in a car or bus, and sat in traffic for 12 hours if it had been at all possible.

I'll get off my soapbox now... sorry for the sarcasm...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gratitude


So my parents made the trip down to babysit Ella this week and it took a little bit longer than usual due to the flooding in northwest Indiana. The drive was a couple hours longer but they showed up excited to see their grand-daughter as usual... (they could care less about Eric or I)...

To show my gratitude, I decided to back into their car on my way to work.

Don't worry... my Jeep is just fine. Not a scratch thanks to the protection of the rear spare tire. My Dad's relatively new car on the other hand... to put it positively... still runs. Two estimates reveal that it will likely cost $2500 to repair the hood which is dented and will not open... along with the light and bumper.

I'm a good driver... really I am. Rarely is there another car in my driveway when I back up... so why should I assume differently just because company arrived that day?

My parents of course insist it's "no big deal". My dad only wishes he had chosen to drive my mom's car down here instead. Things happen... accidents happen... I just wish I was prone to less expensive ones.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Random Highlights

Well... life has gotten to be so much fun lately, thanks to Ella. She's rolling over, laughing, drooling, sleeping, and seems to do something new every day. We're pretty sure that any babies that follow will wind up to be holy terrors. Ella continues to sleep well, thus letting the rest of us do the same. She's napping 2-3 hours in the morning, 2-3 hours in the afternoon... and from about 8:30pm-7am at night. I have been teaching her the fine art of shopping and eating... (she takes particular interest in my Starbucks drinks)! I'm loving being home... hating being at work... and just so grateful for the gift she is to us all. My saint-of-a-mom continues to drive down from Chicago every single week to watch Ella while I work a 2-day night shift stretch, and Eric has her to himself on Friday nights. I'm counting down the days until I can cut back my work hours (see countdown at the bottom of the blog), but in the meantime we could not ask for a better arrangement. Eric is currently in a pharmaceutical rotation with Kroger pharmacy and doing really well. His boss told him recently he's the best student he's ever had!!

There are so many fun memories and pictures to share from the last few of Ella's 18+ weeks of life so far...... I've selected a few highlights...

Grandma Debbie recently came to spend a few days with us... Ella enjoyed her visit MUCH more than the picture shows!

We had Ella dedicated at church a few weeks back. They do a really neat service every year outside on the property of a fellow member. They have a pool where they also do baptisms. About 17 babies were dedicated!




Sweet smiles for Grandma Cook.

Kickin' back in my easy chair...

I don't really know what to say about this one...

Meeting Grandpa Johnson...


I'm a big girl... I don't like to recline anymore...

Self portrait. Maybe starting to look a little like Mommy?? Yeah... not so much.

Meeting our neighbors... Mr. Horse

Thank you Craigs List!! Probably our best baby investment yet! Ella's belly laughs are coming more often - and with less antics required by us! I love this kid...
video

This is a short demo of Ella's dolphin language which she won't seem to stop using these days. I think she just like to hear herself talk... can't figure out where she gets it.
video

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hope


The first real fight Eric and I had as a married couple (actually as a couple at all) was about politics. I've never really been much for political topics or discussions. Honestly... I avoid any and all conversations unless pinned in a corner and forced to speak about them. But I do have a strong conviction about our responsibility as Christians to vote. (Thank you, Marty and Deanna.) So one day - in the midst of our "my-new spouse-is-so-wonderful-my-new-apartment-is-so-wonderful-all-this-new-stuff-is-so-wonderful-and-life-is-fantastic" marital bliss, Eric informed me very matter-of-factly that he does not vote. I was floored that the man I had fallen for had... um... a flaw. The argument started out innocently enough. After all... we had really not had many disagreements to speak of thus far. Going into the "discussion", I was naively confident that a brief education regarding our spiritual responsibility would set him straight and would no doubt have him registered to vote by midnight. He was naive enough to think that disagreeing with me was acceptable. (His lack of experience with women was obvious here.)

Needless to say... after a much heated discussion, and because we both wanted to get some sleep that night and many nights after... we chose to agree to disagree on this one. And that is where things have stood ever since. Ironically, despite his refusal to vote, Eric is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to politics. He understands far more than I ever will... and I'm constantly consulting him on various individuals or this whole election process. Aside from his decision not to vote... I respect his opinion on political matters more than anyone else... even mine!

So about 4 or 5 weeks ago, Eric muttered something about "the smartest thing McCain could do is pick that Alaskan Governor lady to be his V.P.". I, like most of the country, had never even heard of her. When I asked him why, he rambled off a few things about her that I agreed sounded very good. However being the tried and true pessimist that he is, he reassured me that she really had no chance at all. So the morning of McCain's announcement, I learned on the news that the "Alaskan lady" was drawing more attention and some were speculating she may actually be in the running. Eric came out of the bedroom and the conversation went something like this:

Me: (in my best political lingo) Hey, they're saying that that Alaskan Gov. lady might really have a shot at the V.P. position.
Eric: Nah, he's going to pick Polenty.
Me: No! They just announced that he was told he would not get it!
Eric: Really?
Me: Yep! (taking advantage of that DVR to rewind for proof)
Eric: Wow if he chose her I might actually have to vote in this election.

WHAT????!!!!!!

I was excited that he was actually considering the whole thing (although I played it cool and didn't let on)... but even more that all that... realizing that having her name on the ballot would be the one thing that would send him to the voting booths spoke volumes. I spent a little bit of time researching her online... and waited anxiously for the announcement later that day.

Now I understand that this election is far from over... but when I heard that Sarah Palin was McCain's choice... I almost choked up with excitement. The word to describe what I felt was hope. At a time when I otherwise feel like signs of the end times are all around us, and the country seems to be spiraling downhill faster and faster... the chance that morals could prevail is beyond exciting.

Eric registered to vote the next day... and even ordered us McCain-Palin bumper stickers. (I wish he had gotten the one I found at the top of this post). I was really not looking forward to this election prior to a few days ago. I have an easier time picturing Obama as a talk show host than the leader of the free world, and even McCain fails to impress me a whole lot. But suddenly I have renewed interest. As a team... McCain and Palin just might be on to something. Do I care that her teenage daughter is pregnant? Not really. What I care about is her response to the situation... and in that, I am well-impressed. Do I worry about her ability to juggle an infant with Down's syndrome with this new career? No more than I would if her baby was healthy. I will admit, I personally cannot imagine handling all that is on her plate with 5 children... but something about her reassures me that she has spent much time in consideration and even... prayer about whether this is the path she should be on. And I for one, am in no place to judge what is best for her or her family.

Speaking of her family... does anyone else want to just have them over for dinner? I think the reason so many accuse McCain of making a choice that seems more like a joke than a valid decision... is because seeing a "real" person in such a role is so completely foreign to us all. I look forward with great anticipation to the direction this election takes us. Even if we lose... I am so encouraged that she could even make it this far...