Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To infinity

At Robbie's last checkup with the pediatrician, she mentioned that it was time to ditch the paci's in light of the fact that a.) he is old enough to go without them, and b.) they are starting to push his teeth forward. After that trip, Robbie was only allowed to have paci's in bed during naps and bedtime.

I have been dreading taking them away completely, but decided that it was time. So yesterday, we picked out a special toy at Target that Robbie could trade his paci's in for. He picked out Buzz Lightyear, and we left him in the box all day until daddy came home from work. We really talked up the idea of the trade, and at naptime I reminded Robbie that this would be the last time he would sleep with his paci's. (I think it's fair to let kids know what is going to happen.)

Daddy came home, we had dinner, and after Ellie went to bed we made the big trade. Buzz was a hit, of course. And there was only a slight lip quiver when we headed to bed and denied Robbie his beloved paci as we put him to sleep. I asked him if he wanted to sleep with Buzz instead, and he said no, he could sit on the bookshelf and watch him sleep! Ha.

I watched him in the monitor, expecting tears and protests. Nothing. I am telling you, this little boy is the sweetest thing. He just tossed and turned for a while, and then fell asleep. I couldn't believe it! I have been dreading this since we realized he had a love affair with paci's.

I wish I had recorded his playtime last night with Buzz. At one point, he pressed a button that made Buzz talk, and after staring at him in amazement, he said "COOL!". Then, after pushing the button to flip Buzz's wings out, he yelled "That's AWESOME!". What!? Where is my baby boy!?

And as we made the trip up the stairs to bed, I heard him whispering "Buzz is favorite. I love you Buzz!", and saw him plant a kiss on Buzz's plastic face.

Nice - we just sent paci's to infinity. And beyond. Thanks, Buzz Lightyear, for the help!

Summer fun

A few weeks ago we took Robbie to his first movie in a theater - Toy Story 3! The whole experience was fun because it was all brand new to him.

Handing over his own ticket...

Showing off his ticket!

We got there a little early just to be sure to get seats on the aisle (we were pretty sure Robbie wouldn't sit still), and we ended up being one of only 4 small groups that even showed up!

Who knew the iPhone had a flash for dark settings!?

We made it about an hour through the movie before Robbie became totally distracted by the darkness and the lights that ran through the piping along the stairways. Then he started to think it was funny to crouch down and sneak away from us down the long empty row of seats, and that's when we decided to leave. It was fun, but selfishly I wish I had been able to see the end of the movie (I've heard it's really good!). When the DVD comes out...


Two weekends ago we spend the weekend at the lake house, and my grandma Edie and grandpa Bob (the kids' great-grandparents) drove up for the day on Saturday to see us, too! I thought the weekend would be pretty low key and uneventful, and since I was trying to pack minimally I left my cameras at home. Of course that ended up being the weekend we bought a double tube and took both kids out behind the boat! My mom had banked on the fact that I would have my camera with me, so she had left hers behind too.

Well, thank goodness for iPhones with decent cameras. :) Here's the one shot my dad got of us. It makes me laugh so hard - this was taken just after we had all piled in, but before the ride began.

Both kids loved it, but Ellie couldn't get past her deep hatred of the life jacket. So she and I bailed and let Rob and Robbie ride. Robbie could. not. get. enough. of. the. tube. He rode on the side Ellie and I had vacated. He was grinning and waving and cracking up at whatever Rob was saying to him, and after a while Rob taught him the thumbs up sign for 'faster', and from that point on, his little thumb was constantly held in position. FASTER! I think the average speed was 21 mph, and he loved every second! We were thrilled to discover that he enjoys not only being in the water but being pulled behind the tube, and fast.

After a long day of tubing, a boy just wants to rest with his magazine. (I think he was trying to mimic my dad...)


This past weekend Rob and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We are so thankful for the marriage God has given to us, and for the ways He is growing and changing us both to be more like Himself through the other person. We agreed that our wedding day seems like another lifetime ago, and I'm sad that details of the day that just aren't able to all be recorded are already fuzzy to me. I remember it being a wonderful weekend altogether and how happy it made us to have all of our family and friends in one place at the same time, celebrating our new life together with us.

Rob took over planning an overnight getaway in the city for us last weekend to celebrate. The details were all a surprise to me. My mom and sister offered to stay with the kids overnight at our house, even when I told them they had both come down with runny noses and had been waking up through the night in the last few days. (Saints.) As I drove for an hour into the city to get Rob from work on Friday afternoon, I was feeling really unsure about what I had just done - would the kids be ok? I've never been away from either of them overnight, except for Ellie's birth. Would mom and Kels get any sleep, with the kids being sick and waking up? Was I trading their rest for my own!?!?

I knew that I just needed to do it and get this first overnight trip under my belt and try not to worry about the kids. No one loves them like family, and no one knows them better than my mom and Kels. Once I picked Rob up and he told me where we were staying and what we would be doing, I declared out loud that I would not be missing the kids for the next 24 hours! I was so excited.

We checked into our hotel, and headed to dinner at Piccolo Sogno for dinner on the patio. It was gorgeous, the rain held out, there was a slight breeze in the air, and I don't remember the last time I ate a meal as good as that one in total peace! We talked. We made decisions. We enjoyed being served. We sat still in our chairs the entire time! At the end of the meal neither of us had been the recipient of air-born food or angry outbursts. It was so amazing. (Clearly we need to get out more! haha)

After dinner we walked around the city and found the set for Transformers 3. It was so fun to see. We found a place that served italian desserts, so in keeping with the theme of dinner, we enjoyed gelato before heading back to the hotel.

The next morning we had brunch at a cute little place that served huge omelets and pancakes. We walked over to the river and took an architectural boat tour that also went out on Lake Michigan. It was perfect - the weather was wonderful and it wasn't too hot, but it was definitely sunny! I accidentally burned my shoulders on the boat ride, but didn't realize it until we got home. After the boat ride, we spent the afternoon walking around State Street and shopping. When we finally headed home, we felt rested and refreshed and were actually very anxious to see the kids.

The kids had done really well while we were gone, and no one woke up overnight! My mom and sister welcomed us home with an anniversary cake from Whole Foods, cute stories from their adventures with the kids, and laundry done. Seriously, I have the best family. I'm so thankful for them!

The kids decided to save their midnight restlessness for the following night, and I was up with both of them as they struggled with coughs and snotty noses. Sunday we stayed home from church - how many times can you get sick in the summer time!? We are setting a new record. I was exhausted too, so we mainly napped during the day, and finished off the evening with a trip to the park.

Ellie is getting brave. She climbs up the slide, goes down by herself, and if Robbie is encroaching on her personal space, she puts a hand on his arm and moves him aside! This picture sums up the stage we are in right now perfectly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Confession: I want to run away.

I have been struck by a few verses from The Message recently (it's a sort of modern-day translation of the Bible, for those who might not be familiar with it, written almost conversationally and in a very contemporary style).

It's no secret that we are in pursuit of a slower, quieter life. (Are you? I really want to hear about it.)

Most days life feels like this:

And I don't think anyone would deny knowing that when this is the pace of life, it's nearly impossible to hear God's voice and to discern and appreciate His movement among us during every day we breathe and walk this earth.

It's tempting to shelve these pursuits for the cooler days of Fall, when there aren't as many sprinklers to run through and it's more appealing to cozy up with a journal and a warm drink and ponder the Godward life. But as one of the verses this morning reminded me, as long as it's 'God's Today', it is a day that calls for a posture of worship. And true worship (in my experience) is something that is transformational, calls for response, and involves effort and focus on my part.


I told Rob recently that I wanted to live on land one day, preferably soon.
He replied that my dream had already come true - our house, in fact, does sit on a plot of land!

The truth is, I want to run far from the things that threaten my peace and solitude to a place that makes this journey easier. Physically running away is not only not an option right now, but it wouldn't resolve my restlessness. And I know that.
(*It doesn't keep me from dreaming about a 4 bedroom split level - um, confession: I am in love with split levels! - smack in the middle of acres and acres of undisturbed land that happen to have grape vines and raspberry bushes and wild flowers weaving around the perimeter of the yard and into the dark quiet woods. Sounds nice, doesn't it!?)

There are things that we have identified that are really hindering us, that would chase us wherever we tried to go. And as painful of a process as we imagined it to be, as we have purged idol after distraction after stumbling block from our home and hearts, we have felt blessed and filled instead of robbed and missing the things we used to toil with.

Praise God.

As we pray over our kids, we find ourselves constantly asking God to be near them, preserve their purity and innocence, to give them courage and wisdom, and a deep love for Him in response to what He has done already for us. We ask for their lives to be set apart for His purposes, whatever they might be. As we go about our days, we aim to reveal God and His love and holiness to their little eyes, ears and hearts. We filter what they see, are exposed to, and interact with... which in my mind is very different from sheltering, but that's another discussion for another time.

And then I got to thinking - doesn't God want the same for me? And Rob? Just as Robbie and Ellie are OUR children, Rob and I are God's children. He looks on us with the same affection, strong desires, and intense love. He desires for us to be holy and set apart. Somewhere along the way we bought the lie that our 'adult filters' were functioning well enough to keep us from being tainted personally and internally by the things we viewed, entertained ourselves with, consumed, engaged in, and danced on the line and in the grey with. It's exactly the kind of foolish thinking that I believe the Devil is sneaking around whispering in our ears, and the cost is great (don't be deceived).

I'm sure there are few of you who would agree with us, even fewer that would say that these same thoughts have moved you to action in similar ways. And that is why I want to run away. It's hard to allow your convictions to actually affect your life in ways that aren't hidden, that end up becoming the line in the sand that is drawn. But I love the freedom that we are already experiencing. He is so good, worth this pursuit and anything we are called to give up.

Thanks to those of you who have been examples in this pursuit, or who have shared openly with us about how you are pursuing God and His best in your life and have thereby become a source of great encouragement and community.

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul. These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don't turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.

If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.

What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that's what I'm doing—hoping You'll save me from a rebel life, save me from the contempt of dunces. I'll say no more, I'll shut my mouth, since you, Lord, are behind all this. But I can't take it much longer. When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?

Everyone's going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you'll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.


Be encouraged that today, if you make plenty room for the Word of Christ in your life, He will keep His promise and pour out His peace. I pray that we will all be strengthened to make every detail of our lives an act of worship to our King!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ellie takes the plunge

A few nights ago, Ellie got to take a bath by herself. Clearly worth documenting, since it never happens! She also showed off a few of her favorite past times - dunking her face in the water and eating bubbles.

{Where's Robbie!?}

{You mean I get to bathe without fear of being pushed, splashed or robbed of my bath toys!?}

{How lovely to eat my bubbles slowly, without the threat of someone else consuming my share.}

{Maybe lone bathing isn't all it's cracked up to be... I miss my buddy.}

Going in for the dunk.

A split second too early... cheeks are submerged but she actually gets in up to her eyebrows!

Brave girl, maybe just a little proud of her accomplishment!?

And no, mommy did not encourage or force her to do this. She mimicked big brother who taught her by example. She is one adventurous little lady.

Love my water babies!

Sometimes worship looks different

Two Sundays ago, we kept the kids out of church and Sunday School since they had been sick just a day or two before. But they were feeling well enough to get out of the house and so we headed over to the Arboretum instead for a quiet Sunday morning together as a family. It's important to Rob and I to make it a priority to worship with the body of believers but it's also an amazing thought to consider that we don't have to be in a church to experience God and worship Him! (And isn't it easy to feel His presence in the serenity of a field or on the edge of a lake? I am so drawn to rural settings and the peace it offers.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Snacking 101

Robbie has been helping out a lot lately in the kitchen. (I'm raising him right! Haha)

Last week, I let him make pistachio pudding mostly by himself. It turned out to be less appetizing than I remembered from eating it as a kid, and he wouldn't touch it with his spoon! He kept looking at it after it had set in small bowls, asking "Wha's daaaat?!" with an upturned nose. But he had a lot of fun mixing everything up and 'cooking' with limited mommy-assistance.

Next up we tried out our new popcorn maker, which I scored on sale at Kohl's. We are giving up microwave popcorn because of the chemicals that are transfered from the bag to the popcorn in the popping process. I have learned that adding butter (as shown) does not improve the taste, so we will not be doing that again. Sticking with salt, at least for my bowl.

Clearly, another fun experience for my little man.

Enjoying his homemade snack with, what else, a book. :)

(Yet another reason he seems to be a carbon copy of his daddy and his Papa Livingston, fellow popcorn lovers and avid readers.)

An ode to Ellie

Some day soon, we are going to have to beat the boys back when it comes to this one.

Certainly, as the above picture suggests, she's no shrinking violet.

But she IS sweet as pie.
Cute as a button.
And these baby legs?!

I can only imagine how beautiful (inside and out!) this little girl will be in 5, 10, 20 years...

And for now I'm enjoying having her all to myself.

My sweet little Ellie.