Monday, December 27, 2010

So long and thanks for all the fish

Christmas is over (we had a loverly time) and now I'm diving head first into packing for the Big Move and for the Trip to California, both of which must be completed by Thursday.

Eesh.

So I will be seeing you in all the old familiar places of the internets in a few weeks!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Retirement, Christmas giftage, thankfulness

Steve is officially an old retired man.

Maybe not old...just retired from his night shift at the pharmaceutic plant.  This is like Christmas to me.  No more sleeping alone, no more whacky off-kilter schedules, no more day-in-day-out tussle with the stress of it all.  Glory be!  I am very grateful for what Steve's job provided for us: we own our house, HarriEd's medical bills are completely paid off, and we have a decent chunk of change in savings with which to make our move to St. Louis.  It was a blessing while being an immense stretch-er.  And I'm really glad that it's over and that now we can move onward and upward.

To celebrate this momentous occasion we hosted a little retirement party, which was made up of various and sundry brothers/sisters, friends-who-are-brother-and-sister, and a friend who is neither a brother or a sister to any of us.  It was a rather hip-happening time.  Steve and I had the brill idea of creating a pasta bar which was a splendid way to feed a small crowd.  We just cooked several kinds of pasta, sauteed fresh vegetables, prepared two kinds of sauces, and had some chicken and bacon on the side.  (My new favourite dish just may be sauteed veggies with fettuccine and homemade alfredo sauce.  I can only have it after I have burned about 2500 calories and/or sweat off 15 lbs at Jazzercise.)  We concurred that we will have to remember this dish when we are old and have to feed a bunch of Steve's seminary students at our house.

I have all of our presents wrapped and our stockings filled.  I just love Christmas and planning ahead makes this season more fun than stressful.  I want to go into great detail about the gifts because I'm so excited, but I know that too many loving relatives read this blog and then the surprises will be all spoilt.  However, HarriEd can't read yet (as far as I know), so I will tell you about her gifts.  She is getting a new Christmas dress which I finished yesterday.  It is a jumper which is sewn from pink striped flannel and is accented with a hot pink sash (poofy bows are the best!) and little pink fabric yo-yos on the skirt.  It looked awfully tiny when I was making it, but then I tried it on the little darling and the dress was definitely on the roomy side.  Oh well.  In addition to the dress, HarriEd will unwrap Robeez shoes (LOVE!) and four Winnie-the-Pooh related books: Now We Are Six, When We Were Very Young, The Pooh Cookbook and The Pooh Party Book. 

Sometimes God takes hold of my thoughts and says, "Look, Amelia, you are actually living the life that you have desired to live."  It's so incredible.  I have a wonderful husband in whose love I can truly flourish.  I have an adorable baby who makes my heart want to overflow.  I enjoy being surrounded by my own extended family and I can really truly look forward to spending the next few weeks with my in-laws - not too many girls can say that!  I am able to develop my interests of crafting, sewing, and reading without the pressure of deadlines and subjective judging.  And we are moving towards working in ministry together as a little family.  Hurrah!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Craftiness, etsy excitement, moving ramblings

My life has been entirely absorbed by Christmas crafting projects.  The biggest project was making gobs and gobs of little yo-yo trees as favors for the moms and workers who attended the MOPS Christmas Brunch.  I was so very grateful for the help of my dear mother, my dear sister Clara, and my dear new friend Kylie...sewing over 300 yo-yos of varying sizes is a lot of work and I could not have done it by myself.

My "dining room" table was overrun by the little guys for over a week.
I was really pleased with how they turned out.  My favorite part was rummaging around through the bag of vintage wooden spools that I picked up at a junk store to use as "trunks" for the trees.  Some of the spools were green, black, or blue, some had the brand name stamped into the wooden ends.  So much fun!

With all of the yo-yo making to do, I had to resist the temptation to finish our family stockings.  I had purchased the supplies a few weeks ago: rich wool felt, drool-worthy Christmasy fat-quarters, and juicy rickrack.  There it was, sitting in a bag just begging me to get to work.  Since Steve was home yesterday, I handed Harriet to him and ran downstairs to spend a few moments on my fun project:

It was worth the wait.
Now I just have to make tags for a few gifts, finish decorating a bit, and sew Harriet's Christmas dress.  Then I will collapse into a heap and go on vacation to California.  No, actually I will pack up my house to get ready to move.  Then I will collapse into a heap and go to California.

In other exciting crafty news, I sold my first item from my Etsy store!  When I got the email notification of the purchase I nearly fell out of my computer chair.  It was such a shock!  Sometimes I just really, really, really want to make it on Etsy, and I just don't know what to do.  It will take time and effort to both make creative things to fill my store and promote my products and with a HarriEd around I often think that time and energy are in short supply.  But sewing and creating is truly a passion of mine.  (It's just that the mercenary part of me wishes that other people would notice and pay me for my products.)  The purchase from my store this week was both encouraging and motivational: I need to make a plan for filling my store and just stick to it.  (After the move, of course.)

It was one thing to pack up all of my personal belongings into a Rubbermaid tub, load up the trunk of my car and move to a dorm room for a semester.  It's an entirely different matter to move as grown-ups from an established home to another state.  I found a very helpful list online which is helping me focus my energies on what needs to happen right now, rather than freaking out about what needs to happen in a month.  The challenge of yesterday was to obtain information on switching the utilities/internet/gas accounts from our name and/or cancelling them.  Such a simple task should not be so difficult!  While Steve was cursing the world of automated answering systems, I was wishing that the Qwest website would fall into the ocean-never-to-be-seen-again.  Tell me, what website signs you out of your account every time you visit a new page on the site?  Not a well designed site, that's for sure.  Eesh.

I won't even tell you about the whole "secret password" fiasco.

There are some things that I am not looking forward to regarding this move, namely saying our fond farewells to people (especially my family), driving in the middle of January for 10+ hours with a Uhaul trailer, and not really knowing what to expect job-wise when we make our landing.  However, some aspects really excite me.  This will be the first time that Steve and I will be known as a couple.  Every other place we've lived or visited we have both been known as separate entities, whether at school or just being in our hometowns.  I'm looking forward to being the Rodgers and getting involved in a community together.  The prospect of being back in an academic environment is wondrous, as well as being able to serve more whole heartedly in a local church.  I'm excited about what cultural possibilities St Louis holds, too.  (I really love being able to access a city.)

Back to crafting....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Harriet update, things people say, library, answered prayer

(*pant, pant*  I just got the invites for the annual MOPS Christmas Brunch out in the mailbox before Mr. Postman came by.  That kind of felt like giving birth. I am absolutely covered in blue glitter.  How festive.)

I have been missing my dear ol' bloggie and I have been desperately wanting to write, but life has been b.u.s.y.  First off, there was Harriet's cold which caused her sleeping improvements to go entirely downhill and leave me in a pile of tears the next morning.  It was horrible, but now things are better.  At least the last two nights have been better and that's all I ask for.  One night at a time.  The busyness has also stemmed from my free time (haha!) being almost entirely taken up by preparing for the aforementioned MOPS Christmas Brunch (more on that later, but things are super-duper cute) and putting my house back together after days of negligence.  The laundry pile is not a pretty sight.

Taking up the rest of my time is Harriet, and that's as it should be at this point in life, it seems.  Harriet has become a Big Girl at her advanced age of five-months-on-Thursday.  She grabs everything and puts it in her mouth, including her daddy's glasses right off of his face.  I was making snickerdoodles last week and she was sitting in her Bumbo on the counter.  The Bumbo is of great importance these days since it affords Harriet an upright perspective on the world and also keeps her somewhat contained.  Anyways, Harriet was looking hard at the bowl of creamed butter and sugar when suddenly she reached forth, grabbed the bowl, and refused to let go.  I gently pried her fingers off before she could add any of her drool into the mixture and she wailed and hollered.  This was the first time she wasn't like, "Oh, gracious Mommy!  You know best, so I'll give my [insert item] back to you."  Nope, she was downright angry.  It was funny, but also sobering.  We may have quite the opinionated, temper-ready child on our hands.

Harriet with the Christmas tree.

Harriet grabbing the Christmas tree.


Since having Harriet, I've been getting used to the plethora of comments that are showered upon her as a sweet baby and us as a little fambly.  It's rather fun to have such an adorable conversation piece.  Everyone should get one!  Most people are so very kind and encouraging.  I took Harriet into the library for quite a bit of time on Sunday and I wondered if/how people would react to such a small squirmy thing in, well, a library.  After a while, an older lady came over to me and said, "Oh, she is so sweet!  You wouldn't even know that she is here."  That made me feel confident.  

Thankfully, we haven't received too many weird comments...although one occurred yesterday.  Steve and I had optometrist appointments, and we took Harriet along.  I had some slight changes to my eyesight, thanks to shifting hormones in pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Apparently the glasses-fitting lady knew this from my chart or something because she looked at Harriet and said, "We need to stop breastfeeding so Mommy's eyes will get better."  Uhhhh?  Methinks I will keep breastfeeding and just get glasses, thank you.  

(Incidentally, I'm not getting glasses just yet.  The prescription was so minimal that it didn't seem worth it to add glasses to my life.)

Yes, Harriet sat in the library without making one little peep for nearly 2.5 hours.  For the first time I really experienced what it's like to enjoy having my child with me.  Don't get me wrong: I enjoy Harriet every day.  But there was something so interactive and pleasant about the two of us at the library that made me feel close to her in a mother/daughter way and not just a caretaker/baby way.  Does that make sense?  It makes me look forward to when she is older and can actually enjoy reading the books at the library.  In the meantime, she just enjoys looking at the pictures in Winnie-the Pooh.  Oh!  Speaking of Winnie-the-Pooh, I have officially completed Harriet's Pooh collection with the addition of When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, and The Pooh Party Book, and The Pooh Cookbook.  They will be part of her pile of Christmas presents.

We are still planning on moving to the St. Louis area in a little over a month.  That seems like a loooong time away, thanks to Christmas and a trip to California stuck in between, but it also seems like a shoorrt time away.  I don't really know what to do.  We have been praying and praying for "something to turn up" to boost our moving finances and also that we could find a place to live.  Both happened this week!  Apparently our mortgage company got a better rate on something, so they reimbursed us the difference in the form of a pleasantly substantial check.  Then we found out about a house in the exact town where we want to be that will only require a very minimal payment.  God truly does provide and I'm praising him for it!

Oops, the munchkin doth awaken.  And I should probably do something about this glitter.  Cheerio!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Silence

O God, who art the truth, make me one with Thee in continual love!  I am weary often to read and hear many things.  In Thee is all I desire and long for.  Let all teachers hold their peace; let all creatures be silent in Thy sight; speak to me alone.  - Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving and such

(Company + a holiday + staving off a round of mastitis + my husband being home for six days + nipping a sore throat + laundry = no blogging.  'Nuff said.)

As Thanksgiving drew nigh this year, I couldn't help but think about that momentous Thanksgiving two years ago when Steve came to my house for the first time.  He wasn't scared away by spending the night in the Omaha Children's Hospital with my dad and whining post-surgery sibling since that was as far as his carpool would take him.  He wasn't scared by being surrounded by talkative girls.



He wasn't phased by the general chaos of Thanksgiving day and making a billion mini cornucopias with me.


Nor was he turned off by the day of cookie baking, the double-date with my parents, a horrible dinner and seeing Fireproof.


Meanwhile, I was a complete basket case who, after each late nigh...er, early morning talk would bang my head on the bathroom wall wondering how in the world I was going to survive if this guy didn't like me back.  (My sister is my witness here.)  Like, DUH, Amelia.  Not too many guys would endure all of that and still be pining on the car ride home.

I'm really glad I don't have to worry about that any more.

Now, two years later, we are splendidly married and have this little muchkin:


Who helped me bake lots and lots of pies:


We certainly didn't stay up late this year, nor did we make lots of cookies together, but we did enjoy having Steve's mom and dad here for the entire week:


And eating a wonderful meal with 23 other folks at my grandparents' house.  And playing Risk without having to substitute my stuffed kitty as one of the players.  And just chilling for the first time in weeks.

God is so very, very good.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fantabulous Friday: Just Doing It

 
This week I didn't go to bed with dirty dishes still in my sink.

This week I did a quick clean of the bathroom every day after I showered.

This week I exercised at least 30 minutes each day (except for Wednesday - but lugging a baby carrier around for eight hours while running errands should count, methinks, since I was sweating).

This week I tried my darndest to eat only meal with a carbohydrate per day.

That sounds all good and jolly and "Wow, aren't I just splendid!"  But do you know what?  It was hard.  There were many days and many times that I didn't feel like doing any of those things.  I wanted to snap my Mary Poppins fingers and make my house instantly clean.  I wanted to sit on my couch and eat the dark chocolate chip cookies that Steve made (lots and lots of them).  And yet, since I don't live in a television fantasy land, I couldn't do those things and still have the sparkling house and the healthy and fit post-baby body that I want.  I still had to do it.

Sure, I'm really grateful for all of the tools available to help me do the things that I need to do, especially since adding sweet Harriet to the mix c.  FlyLady sends me an email every morning that reminds me of my cleaning "flight plan" for the day.  It's nice to not only have a list of daily tidying needs, but also reminders to tackle the cleaning nasties...like scrubbing the air vent in the bathroom.  (Major yuck.)  It's nice to be reminded that these chores only take a few minutes a day.  But having the reminders won't get my house clean. I still have to do it.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to go to Jazzercise three nights a week, and the option of having not one but four different exercise DVDs to pick from on the non-Jazzercise days.  It really helps to have the accountability of my mother and sisters who go with me to exercise.  It's great to have DVDs to pop in when the weather is so cold, and to have an exercise program that Harriet can do with me when she doesn't feel like watching me jump around to The Biggest Loser workout.  But having Jazzercise or the DVDs on my shelf won't burn calories.  I have to get up and do it.

There was a song on Mr Rogers Neighborhood that addressed this very issue (listen to to music, too):
You can make believe it happens,
Or pretend that something's true.
You can wish or hope or contemplate
A thing you'd like to do.
But until you start to do it,
You will never see it through.
'Cause the make-believe pretending
Just won't do it for you

(CHORUS)
You've got to do it.
Every little bit
You've got to do it, do it, do it, do it
And when you're through,
You can know who did it,
For you did it, you did it, you did it.

If you want to ride a bicycle
And ride it straight and tall.
You can't simply sit and look at it
'Cause it won't move at all.
But it's you who have to try it.
And it's you who have to fall (sometimes)
If you want to ride a bicycle
And ride it straight and tall.

(CHORUS)

Every little bit
You've got to do it, do it, do it, do it
And when you're through,
You can know who did it,
For you did it, you did it, you did it.

It's not easy to keep trying
But it's one good way to grow.
It's not easy to keep learning
But I know that this is so.
When you've tried and learned
You're bigger than you were a day ago.
It's not easy to keep trying
But it's one way to grow.

(CHORUS)
You've Got to Do It
By Fred M. Rogers
© 1970












































Consequently, I've been singing this song all week to myself when I want the results, but I don't want to make the effort.

I can develop discipline in chores and health habits...what about spiritual disciplines?  What about praying and being in the Word?  To be quite honest, I just haven't felt like doing it lately.  I know that I should, I know that it will only bring joy and an increased desire to know Him.  But I keep waiting for that spiritual feeling which will undoubtedly prove that I'm a good Christian girl and make me feel good about spiritual disciplines.  What if I kept waiting to do the dishes until I felt like it?  Or the laundry?  Or exercising?  They wouldn't happen.  I can't wait until I feel spiritual before I embark on spiritual disciplines.  I have to just do it.


But thankfully, there is a tool to help.  More than just a tool, actually: a Person.
  
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16, New King James Version)
(Amen and amen!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Something's Gotta Change

I have been fighting the temptation to be grumpy all week long.  Sometimes I have been grumpy and then I fight the temptation to throw things, shred things, or yell at things (mostly People).  I could supply a comprehensive list of the reasons:

  • I am a human being.  Therefore, even though I'm saved, I still get to battle with my stinkin' flesh every day.
  • PMS is out to get me.  Seriously.
  • We have been super out-of-the-house busy for the past three weeks.
  • My husband works a night shift and we never see each other when we are both fully awake.
However, the a-number-one reason why I feel grumpy and sluggish and irritable and completely unmotivated is because...

dun-dun-DUN!

I'm not getting any quality sleep.  Ever.

Before my dear darling HarriEd began waking up every hour on the hour all night long, I was prone to think somewhat critically of parents who spoke of their children's sleeping habits.  Let me just say that I completely recant: when a mommy isn't getting any sleep, figuring out how to make that change is the only thing on her brain.  And her only conversation topic.  So please bear with me.  

(Just don't bare with me....)

Harriet's present nighttime drama goes something like this: 
  • she nurses to sleep between 9-10pm.  As a co-sleeping mommy, this means that I have to be completely ready and in bed because she will wake up completely if I try to get out of bed causing us to have to start the process all over again with much fussing and fuming.
  • she sleeps for about 1.5-2 hours and then wakes up and has to nurse to get fully back to sleep.  
  • she stays asleep as long as she is touching me...preferably laying in the crook of my arm...and as long as I don't move or breathe.
  • she repeats this sequence each hour until I am a complete basket case and finally get out of bed anywhere between 4:30am and 6:30am because I can't stand it anymore.
  • she is glad that she is cute because that makes me less angry.
The problems are easily identified.  Harriet has a different getting ready for bedtime routine every night.  She won't be consoled without me.  And the more awake I am the more tense I get which makes her more jittery. 

Something has got to change.  This week, guided by the principles in The No-Cry Sleep Solution, we're going to embark on a Solve the Sleep Issues Adventure.  I'm going to move things around in our bedroom so that the crib can be next to our bed and she can sleep close to me, but not with me.  I'm going to move the rocking chair into the bedroom (it'll be a tight squeeze!) so that she can have quality consoling time with her daddy.  I'm going to have a consistent going to bed routine each night that begins at 7-8pm.  Harriet will go to sleep without drama and I will spend some time alone before hitting the hay.

I have to admit that the Solve the Sleep Issues Adventure is a little frightening.  I feel like I don't have the energy to tackle such a project, but I know that we will all benefit in the end.  Harriet will sleep soundly, I will sleep soundly, and Steve won't have to worry about defending himself from the resident witch when he gets home from work.

Pray for us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harriet at Seventeen Weeks

 The other evening, Harriet refused to sleep on the Bronco ride home.  She zoned out during our late-night dinner at Pizza Hut.  She was droopy while I got her out of her carseat at home.  However, as soon as I laid her down on the bed to change her into her pajamas, she revived quite suddenly and launched into the most elaborate, detailed, expressive story a 4-month-old can conjure up.

It was at that point that I said, "You, Harriet, are just like your father."

Harriet likes to help cook from the comfort of her Bumbo.
Ways in which Harriet is like Steve:
  • She looks like him.
  • She has his saggy left eye, especially when she is sleepy.
  • She prefers one-on-one conversation to interacting in a group.
  • She will completely zone out in front of the television or video game.
  • She likes to talk.  To me.
  • She is happiest when she is being snuggled.
  • She needs food and she needs it now.
  • She likes classic rock music...the louder the better.
  • She would stay in her bathtub for hours if she were allowed.
  • She is rather melodramatic.

Turban-head Harriet gets ready for her bath.
 Ways in which Harriet is like me:

  • She desperately needs routine.
  • She likes to get up early and go to bed early.
  • She will only sleep if she is sleeping with someone else (namely, me).
  • She has to be busy doing something all. of. the.time.  No lolly-gagging around on the couch for her.
  • She makes similar expressions.
  • She likes Jazzercise.
  • She wears pink nearly every day.
  • She thrives on quality time.
  • She is quite melodramatic.
Note to father: if you give the kid caffeine, then you get to play with her all night.
Ways in which Harriet is not like Steve or me:
  • She likes to be constantly involved with the people around her.
  • She does not like to sleep.

This adorable pink snowsuit arrived in the mail this week without any indication of the giver.  Who's going to fess up?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Prep: The Christmas Cards

My calendar tells me that Christmas is just over six weeks away.  Got that?  Six weeks!  My brain could quickly overload with all that needs to be done: mailing cards, purchasing gifts, planning menus, and so on and so forth.  Thankfully, last year my mother-dear introduced me to the glories of the FlyLady Holiday Control Journal, and now I'm convinced that my holiday season will never be the same.  It's all about planning ahead, writing things down in a jolly little notebook, and (most of all) not procrastinating.

So that's why I'm thinking about Christmas cards in the middle of November.  I'm looking at card styles on Shutterfly.com because...

I enjoy their styles





(You can tell that I'm kind of into the one-picture-per-card look this year, but Shutterfly has many different styles available here.  Especially if your fambly can get more than one nice picture.)

I enjoy Shutterfly's services.  I have purchased prints and photo books from Shutterfly for many years and have always been satisfied with the quality of the products.  Plus, if you sign up for their email updates you can snag some pretty delightful deals.  Right now they are offering a promotion for bloggers to receive 50 free photo cards: http://bit.ly/sfly2010 

Clara took some family photos of us this past week:




(Those are the goofy ones.  Most of them were goofy, thanks to Steve's weird smiles and Harriet's ability to look at everything  but the camera.  There was one good one and it's going on the card.  So you'll just have to get a card.)
 1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
         You understand my thought afar off.
 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
         And are acquainted with all my ways.
 4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
         But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
 5 You have hedged me behind and before,
         And laid Your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
         It is high, I cannot attain it.
         
 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
         Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
         If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 9 If I take the wings of the morning,
         And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
         And Your right hand shall hold me.
 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
         Even the night shall be light about me;
 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
         But the night shines as the day;
         The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
         
 13 For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
         Marvelous are Your works,
         And that my soul knows very well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from You,
         When I was made in secret,
         And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
         And in Your book they all were written,
         The days fashioned for me,
         When as yet there were none of them.
         
 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
         How great is the sum of them!
 18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
         When I awake, I am still with You.
         
 19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
         Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
 20 For they speak against You wickedly;
         Your enemies take Your name in vain.
 21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
         And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
 22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
         I count them my enemies.
         
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me, and know my anxieties;
 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
         And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139, New King James Version)

The prospect of moving to a new state and a new lifestyle in about two months is both exciting and freaky.  Last night, it was mostly freaky.  As I lay in bed with the snoring HarriEd all snuggled up next to me, I wondered, "Are we making a mistake?  What if we can't get an apartment, or a job, or the ability to pay for school?"

Then a still, small voice said, Are you praying about this?

The truth is that we will never go away from God's presence, not even in Missouri.  We will never be out of his sovereign, guiding love.  He knows when we fill out apartment applications, and when we make a moving budget, and what jobs are available when we actually sally forth.  He has planned all our days, before we even existed...the days of baby care and seminary studies and whatever else he leads us to do. 

His works are marvelous: we have heard of how he provided for our families, when we were too small to realize what was going on.  We experienced how he provided for mission trips and for school and for a wedding, when we really didn't have any money.  We know how he provides for us day in and day out as we set up house and have a baby.  He will continue to provide faithfully.

Search me...know my heart...try me...know my anxieties.  Lead me in the way everlasting.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Harriet at Four Months


My little baby is four months old today!  (Or actually this morning at 3:33am, to be precise.)  Four months is my favourite infant age of all: they can really interact with others, entertain themselves with toys and basically do other baby-ish things besides sleeping, eating and pooping.  And it's such a happy little period before the dreaded time of teething.

I just absolutely cannot believe that Harriet is this old.  I remember looking at her in her newborn, alien-like state the day of her birth and hoping (praying!) that she would survive to four months.  (Not that it was a concern that she wouldn't, of course...but she was so small and I was so hormonal that four months felt like forty years away.)  Here we are!

Highlights of Harriet's week include liking to sit in the Bumbo chair, meeting two very sweet little boys, getting a slight cold (not. fun), and living it up at the area children's museum:


You can see more of Harriet's four month photo shoot at this here Picasa link:
Harriet at Four Months

Much thanks to her fantastical Auntie Clara with her amazing photography/editing skills!

Monday, November 8, 2010

And so...

...I don't have a blog post ready for today because

  • we had company last week and that naturally precludes spending time online
  • Harriet has been especially cranky thanks to her first bout with a runny nose
  • I washed my cellphone 
  • (no, washing a cellphone doesn't hinder blogging...but it made the day rather cranky)
  • my laundry and dishes pile were unusually large
But I do
  • have pictures of the HarriEd as an astronaut
  • want to share about last week's adventures
  • miss spending time in my little blogging space
  • look forward to a new week
See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harriet at Sixteen Weeks

Even though we don't "do" Halloween, who can resist dressing a baby up in a ballerina costume?  I certainly can't.

Here is HarriEd at the Bunco costume party last week.

She wore her ballerina outfit from her Great! Aunt Paula.

Please look at the Baby and not my freaky mother.

Anthony and HarriEd were the Bunco Babies, born just two weeks apart.
Harriet is nearly four months old and she is acting like it.  She likes to sit and survey her varied surroundings and look generally wise.  When she is not being the center of attention (but really has no particular needs) she makes grinding noises or squeaking door noises until we talk to her.  Then she starts laughing and "talking" back.  She loves to be in rooms with loud music, so Jazzercise, Rock Band and family practice nights are quite swell.

Harriet's primary trick for the week was learning that Peek-a-Boo is really an exhilarating game.  Steve threw his coat over the top of her carseat and from underneath, in the darkness, we heard a little, "Hee, hee."  We pulled off the coat, said "Boo!" and she erupted into squeals of laughter.  We played Peek-a-Boo again over the next few days, and now whenever I just say "Boo!" she starts chuckling.  Silly Baby.

I also have blackmail material to share at her graduation party or with her future spouse: every morning, before she is fully awake, Harriet lets out the loudest toot you have ever heard.  At first I thought it was Steve, and I was going to give him a bit of a whack, but then Harriet let out another one to prove that she was indeed the supplier of the foghorn farts.  It is so very loud and so extremely ridiculous that I start laughing every morning.  I suppose that it is a good way to wake up, even if it is at her expense.

Oh dear.  

The child doth sleep, and I need to scurry around and get my 'umble abode ready for the company of some dear friends who arrive this evening.  Tally ho!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fantabulous Friday: Bits and Pieces

Hey, friends out there!

  • Can you believe that it's almost the end of October?  I can't.  And I can't get enough of the delightful fall days, either.  Does anyone have a pause button for fall?  Because I really don't like winter and the longer we can put if off, the better.  (I should be grateful, though, since by this time last October we had already had two snowfalls.  Brrrr.)
  • I've been having weird dreams this week.  Three separate times I dreamed that I got a nose ring (it's a sign...I just know it).  Then I had a dream that I was the proprietor of a flooded cornfield in which I kept hump back whales.  I fed them popcorn shrimp.
  • We bought the Beatles Rock Band game this week.  Now, let's make it clear that I am not a video games kind of girl.  In fact, I hadn't even held a controller of any variety until several months into our marriage.  Steve tries to teach me what to do on relatively chill games (like Smash Brothers) and I'm usually sitting there blankly saying, "Now what am I supposed to be doing?  What am I supposed to be looking at?  And which button do I push again?"  This delay naturally results in my getting creamed...and irritated.  However, I got over my video games phobia (or perfectionistic snobbery) long enough to learn how to play Beatles Rock Band and, in short, I love it.  I love that it is something that so many of us can enjoy doing together, too.  Our maiden voyage with the game the other evening found me on vocals for the majority of the time, thanks to a napping HarriEd.  But I did try the drums for a while, and that was cool.  (Maybe my aspirations to play percussion will be realized after all.)
  • Today has been a rather crafty day thus far as two dozen Halloween cupcakes made it out the door by 10am and I've been working on making stuff for my art quilting class ever since.  I tried some different techniques while creating background fabric papers and it was so. much. fun.  I'll share pictures regardless of if they turn out well or not.
  • Steve and I spent a good portion of yesterday figuring out what it will take to move to St. Louis - things like a moving budget, how to rent U-haul trailers, what we need to do to apply for apartments, if he wants to be full-time or part-time in school, etc.  Just writing everything down and sticking it in a completely dorky paper folder makes my brain feel so much better.  As long as moving continues to be a nebulous Thing of the Future, we don't make any progress on the practical side of life.  But when we start talking and breaking things down into smaller steps, we get lots accomplished.  And I'm praising the Lord for his abundant provision!
  • To NaNoWriMo or to not NaNoWriMo.  That is the question.  I know that if I decided for the former, something in my schedule is going to have to take a hike - and it can't be Harriet or the laundry.  The idea for a novel has been simmering (slowly) for about a month, so that's something.  I just don't know what to dooooo!
  • I'm going to introduce the first season of Jeeves and Wooster to Steve tomorrow.  Tee-hee.
Have a splendiferous weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When the Darkness Will Not Lift

I earnestly believe that one of the primary reasons that God brought Steve and I together in marriage was because we are both emotive people.  Whether we like it or not, feelings are an integral part of our personalities and many times we act or neglect to act based on these feelings.  While we want to feel good and happy all of the time (and I will say that marriage has done much for us in that respect), we are both prone to battle with bouts of melancholy and depression.  Each of us went through a particularly dark period during our high school years.  For me, the weight of 2.5 years of a depressing cloud was completely overwhelming and seemingly endless.  Now I can see that this experience helps me to understand Steve and that his experiences "in the miry bog" help him to sensitively understand me.  

Interestingly, encountering believers dealing with depression is something that pops up rather frequently amongst our little circle of family and friends.  As a been-there-done-that gal, I'm always eager to gain insight as to how to help others who experience depression as well as how to help others understand what serious down-in-the-dumps can be like (particularly if they are of the naturally sanguine disposition).  Therefore, I was happy this week to read John Piper's little book When the Darkness Will Not Lift.

The Book was Quick and Easy
I really appreciated the short, concise treatment by Piper on the spiritual aspects of depression.  While acknowledging that depression is very much a real thing (major props here...there's nothing as detrimental to a depressed person than for someone to tell him or her that depression doesn't exist or that it is only a spiritual problem), Piper touches on possible physical influences, the role of medication, the vital importance of not confusing justification with sanctification, and some foundational truths to remember when bogged down in the darkness.  Piper incorporates thoughts from well-known theologians and preachers throughout the centuries (Richard Baxter and Martin Lloyd-Jones, for example) to provide a balanced perspective.  At just seventy-three pages, the littleness of this book makes it a more inviting read for those whose just don't feel like handling much more.

The Tone was Gentle yet Convicting
Throughout the book, Piper maintains that depression and the pain associated with it are realities.  Rarely are his suggestions for gaining hope in the fight for joy stated in such as way as to pile guilt onto the depressed individual.  While keeping a gentle tone, Piper is not lax in firmly stating spiritual truth and pointing out areas of possible sin.  I was convicted in reading this passage:
Sometimes the darkness of our souls is owing in part to the fact that we have drifted into patterns of life that are not blatantly sinful but are constricted and uncaring.... We find ourselves not energized for any great cause, but always thinking about the way to maximize our leisure and escape pressure....God has made us to flourish by being spent for others.  Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).  Most of us don't choose against this life of outpouring; we drift away from it.
(Eesh.  So true.  That went right along with my thoughts on servanthood verses martyrdom a few weeks ago.)

The Advice was Helpful
The final chapter mentions a few things that those who are not naturally inclined toward depression can do to be supportive for those who are faced with darkness.  Suggestions such as not giving up on a depressed person, continuing to lovingly share truth, and providing supportive friendship all require a hearty Amen!  A brief recounting of how John Newton's persistent yet humble influence on the suicidal William Cowper is both inspirational and encouraging.

I do think that much of the premise of When the Darkness Will Not Lift is based on Piper's other books, such as Desiring God and When I Don't Desire God.  Some of the impact of When the Darkness Will Not Lift may be lost without reading those other titles, but

In summation...
It was a profitable read and I would recommend it to those who battle with depression, as well as those who love them.

(You can purchase a copy of When the Darkness Will Not Lift here.  I actually downloaded the PDF copy to my computer and read it for free.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why the Blog

Here's what Edith Schaeffer has to say:
Writing is certainly a medium for communication, as all art forms are.  It gives the opportunity for direct communication, for verbalizing thoughts and attitudes, for speaking truth and putting content into expression....  But one need not feel that writing has to be a career for it to be worth while, nor that it has to be prepared for by formal study before it can be fulfilling to the writer.  If you feel you have an unrecognized talent for writing, or if you simply love to write and want to do it, my advice is write.  But write without ambitious pride, which makes you feel it is a 'waste' to write what will never be published.  Write to communicate with someone, even if it is literally only one person. 
Sometimes I wonder why I blog.

 Is it to acquire a bunch of readers and be tremendously popular in the blogosphere?  (Haha.)  Is it to share craft ideas and recipes?  Pictures of the Baby?  Encouragement from the Word?  Sometimes I feel like I lack purpose...like this funny little bit of the web is just a mod podge of little ol' me.

Then the aforementioned quote starts to sink in: I love to write and this blog is a medium in which I can create with words and communicate with others all at once.

That's why I blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Harriet at Fifteen Weeks

"Look at me jumping!"


This week Harriet discovered the joys of the exersaucer.  She is such a get up and go kind of kid that the ability to stand up, jump, and spin around at will is a very exciting thing indeed.  This also helps Mommy tremendously because it gives her a chance to do things like dishes and laundry while Harriet amuses herself.
The exersaucer does prove to be rather hilarious for onlookers as little Harriet's head just barely reaches above the height of the seat, and sometimes she will disappear altogether as she dives for her taggie blanket or for the Hungry Caterpillar rattle and what not.  As the excitement of bouncing around reaches a fever pitch of shrieks and squeals, Harriet meets her expiration date and has to be picked up and snuggled for a while.  But hey, fifteen minutes in the exersaucer is fifteen minutes, right?

I will confess that this past week has been one of the most challenging parenting weeks thus far.  (The exception, of course, being the first few days after her birth in which I was feeling less than stellar.  Why is that?  Why do moms have to go through all the effort of childbirth, be miserable with the beginnings of breastfeeding, and still have to keep a child alive with little to no sleep?  In looking back I think, "What the heck?  That was the freakiest few days of an adrenaline rush that I've ever experienced."  Maybe it's because women traditionally didn't engage in warfare and had to have some sort of super-endurance experience every few years in order to chalk one up to their menfolk.  In any case, this is how God designed it to be...or at least how it works post-Fall.  But I digress quite shamefully.)

I confess that this has been a challenging parenting week because HarriEd's sleep patterns are whacko.  She sleeps so lightly that any movement whatsoever from me causes her to wake up entirely.  Staying up into the wee sma's was cute back in college, but now it really is the pits.  Because intense details of what I have done and haven't done to improve the sleeping of the Wonder Child are really unnecessary for this space, I won't divulge.  However, prayers for wisdom, patience, and a few solid winks here and there are appreciated.  Last night was a lot better, and that's because she was really pooped out and really full when she finally went to sleep.  Hopefully tonight will afford the same happy results.

My dear mother has always said that people don't grow up until they have kids.  I thought smugly, "Oh, yes, that's true.  But since I've had so many younger siblings, I don't need to worry about that so much." Boy, was I wrong.  The inability to do what I want when I want to do it is horribly frustrating at times and it really crushes my gotta-keep-everything-splendid ego.  I think that God has graciously given me a clingy little girl who craves physical affection and full-fledged attention in order to give my progressive sanctification a hearty boost.  Being Harriet's mommy in the way that Harriet needs me is way more important than being Super Crafter or Super Chef or Super Suzy Homemaker.  

And that's just that.






Friday, October 22, 2010

Fantabulous Friday: A Pumpkin and a Project

Ooh, boy, this has been the week of discombobulation.  I blame it on last weekend's trip and the fact that Steve has been home for (get this) SEVEN days.  A little distracted?  Yep, that's me.  All routine seems to have taken a gigantic hike.

Also, I think that the past four months of little or greatly interrupted sleep has caught up with me: I can't seem to drag myself out of bed before 9am.  The laziness of me!  It doesn't help that the darling HarriEd is on some sort of Got-to-Consume-Food-Every-Hour-Or-I-Will-Die kick, especially during the night.  We had a little discussion, she and I, about how she can be perfectly happy for four hour stretches during the day without needing to eat.  There's just something about having Mommy right at her beck and call all night which evokes sensations of extreme starvation.  I'm calling this a growth spurt in hopes that it will go away in a few days.  I'm too tired to try to figure out how to make her sleep more.

(But that sounds like a vicious cycle ready and waiting to happen.)

Anyways, I made a stuffed pumpkin last night for dinner:




It was very yummy indeed - just the right amount of warm, squishy, autumnal comfort food to make us all happy campers.  You can find the super-easy recipe here at Taste of Home.

Some of you beloved readers have inquired as to the Free Motion Personas art quilting class which I am taking (as evidenced by the button on the side of my blog).  I didn't know anything about art quilting, nor did I have a particular bent to learn until my mom plopped the kit for this online class that she received accidentally instead of the kit for her class.  My brother bought the class for me as my Christmas present, and so I'm learning something new!  Art quilting, from what I can tell, seems to be a combination of paper, fabric and fibers, all held together with free motion stitching.  It is so. much. fun, and I have barely begun the process.  Our first assignment was to make our background paper fabric.  Here is my first attempt (probably of many because the process was so amazingly liberating):


I dyed a square of muslin with coffee and then layered different pieces of vintage papers, magazine clippings, scrapbook paper, etc, onto the fabric and saturated the whole thing with watered-down glue.  The blue paper is actually tissue paper which "bleeds" the color when it gets wet.  The envelope up in the left corner was stuck in an old book of mine and contains a grocery list from 1927.  It's just really cool.

This project is fun for me because there are no rules: I have so much freedom to work with my creativity.  It's not about following a pattern just right, or about being judged on some idea, or even trying to create something that someone somewhere will want to spend lots of money on.  Anything goes with art quilting...and it combines my love of paper and fabric so perfectly.  

A new addiction?  I think so.  Sorry, Steve.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Harriet at Fourteen Weeks

Here is Harriet at fourteen weeks of age:

Photos by Auntie Clara
As you can see, Harriet has been working on building up her neck muscles and now she can sit in the Bumbo chair unassisted.  She continues to explore the world through grabbing whatever is closest to her (paper, hair, Mr. Elephant, her pants, and so on) and sticking it into her mouth.  She loves to tell stories and sing along to songs and generally entertain the masses.  Last week involved the beginning of a rather nasty habit of popping on and off whilst eating, along with a lot of aggravated scratching and kicking.  I think that hurting Mommy is not a Good Thing.  So Harriet is learning to redirect her scratching into grabbing my fingers while she eats as well as discovering that messing around results in no food source.  There are consequences, my dear darling girl.

I have been reading a book on infant massage and have been practicing some of the techniques on Harriet after her bath.  Since this affords her more time sans clothing (which is loves) spending time massaging has been a fun experience for both of us.  I really enjoy finding new ways to grow in my relationship with her, even when she is so small.

Harriet did well on her second weekend-long trip as she only had two major screaming fits.  I certainly didn't experience quite the nerve-frying this time around as on the trip to Colorado.  (Maybe I was just more relaxed about taking her on a road trip and that helped things overall.)

Speaking of road trip, there's nothing like a few days away from home to make you feel rather pooped out and unmotivated upon your return.  I guess I was motivated enough to fill a cupcake order this morning, do some laundry, and work on Christmas presents.  But now a nap sounds like a good idear.

You can see the rest of the photo shoot, plus some other random October pictures here:
lifeinoctober

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fantabulous Friday: Kitchen Experiments and Candles

But Amelia, you say, it's only Thursday!  You are right.  However, my weekend technically begins tomorrow, so you get Friday's post a day early.  We are actually going to take a teeny-weeny vacation to watch our mutual friend Justin galavant around a stage pretending to be Jack Worthing.  Not only will that be an amusing experience, but Steve and I will get to hang with old friends and (most importantly) with each other.  We've been living in different schedules for nearly two weeks without a break and so this extended weekend is greatly anticipated.

While making cupcakes is easiest with prepackaged frosting and mixes, I really don't like using them.  Today was the perfect time to experiment with some homemade recipes.  Behold, Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Fluffy Seven-Minute Frosting:



Wow, can I just say that Mrs. Joy's Seven-Minute Frosting recipe is the new love of my life?  It's light and fluffy, wonderful to manage and grease-free (thus making cleaning up a breeze).  This was my first attempt at a boiled frosting...I'm never going back.  And the taste?  Scrummy homemade meringue.  


See that candle in the background of this picture?  I have been (sort-of) participating in Making Your Home a Haven over at Women Living Well, and the first day of the challenge was to buy a candle and light it every day in my home.  (This was perfect because my house usually smells like diapers and dog.)  Aha, thought I, there is an enormous candle in the Grown-Up drawer in the bedroom.  I can participate in the challenge and not spend any money!  I am Super-Homemaker!  Out came the candle, sizzle went the match and I was off to a haven-ly home.

Did you know that candles can go bad?  Apparently.  This enormous candle was given to me at my highschool graduation six years ago...and six years is too long for a candle to be sitting around.  Instead of rich Hazelnut Coffee this candle smelled more like cold PMS tea.  Yuck.

Not wanting to give up on the candle-lighting challenge, I purchased a yummy Cinnamon Roll candle on a niftly-glifty sale.  It makes the house smell so good that Steve even remembers to light it when I forget.  And sometimes Steve remembers to light it and we both forget to blow it out...like a few nights ago when he went to work and I went to slumber party it up at the parents' house.  Brilliant.  Visions of a toasted dachshund danced through my head as I prayed that the candle would just burn out.

It did.  My home was still a haven and not a Hades.

(This week's Making Your Home a Haven challenge of playing music every day is a trifle less stinky...and dangerous.)

Have a good weekend, everybody!  I'm off to actually see the man I'm married to....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

I have a list about as long as the Sleepy Wrap of ideas for my blog.  I want to write about teaching children about Christ and about our silly candle experiences of late and how the Law is preached more than the Gospel and about how I want to be Edith Schaeffer when I grow up and...things like that.

And I was going to write some sort of brain squishifying post today about having to watch others struggle and wanting to always give the right answers, but I feel splendidly joyful on this perfect Autumn day and writing about depression was sure to get me rather gloomy.  Instead, I'm going to list five things that make me particularly happy today.

Number One: Babies.



Steve and I started watching this documentary last night on Netflix.  It is utterly delightful.  The lack of narration amplifies the simplicity and beauty of the babies as they grow in each of the different environments.  (And, yes, I started crying when the newborn African baby nursed...I swear it gets me every time.)

Number Two: A Cloudless Blue Sky.
Harriet and I went for a jaunt down to the hospital auxiliary Rummage Sale this morning and the weather was beyond incredible.  Why can't fall just stay here forever and ever?  (Getting 25 cent jeans at the sale makes me happy, too.)

Number Three: Cute Engagements.
Clara shared this link about a super-cute engagement photo session with me yesterday.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Can I please get married again so we can take pictures like this?  Steve already has the glasses...

[Amelia runs to get a Kleenex.]

Okay, I'm back.

Number Four: Bungalows. 
Did you know that my darling little house is really and truly called a Bungalow?  Lo and behold, that's what the appraisal papers say.  I've wanted to live in a Bungalow ever since I read about the Moffatts living in a Bungalow...or was it the Pyes?  Man, mothering brain has taken its toll and Google isn't helping me out here.  Anyways, I live in a Bungalow with a hydrangea in the backyard that I didn't even have to plant.

Number Five: The MOPS Steering Committee
Our MOPS meeting was yesterday morning and I was truly blessed by how our steering committee works so efficiently and well together.  I love the maturity, the empathy, the genuine helpfulness and the Christ-honoring spirit exhibited in these ladies.  It makes all of the hard work of planning and conducting each meeting seem like fun!  And it's making me smile a whole day later.

So, tell me: what is making you happy today?

  But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
         Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
         Let those also who love Your name
         Be joyful in You. (Psalm 5:11, New King James Version)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Harriet at Three Months

(In other words, my brain is fritzing out today on how many weeks old Harriet is...but her three-month birthday was on the 9th and I can remember that.)

For some reason she decides to nuke all of her cute chatty faces when I pull out the camera.  Silly girl.
I remember when I played with a friend's three-month-old baby just one day before Harriet was born and how I thought, "Wow, this kid is so big.  It'll be forever before our baby is this big."  Well, it certainly wasn't forever...I know that much.

Harriet is still a bit of a peanut, but you can see some chubby rolls starting to develop on her thighs.  (Maybe she will also inherit her daddy's thin legs and won't have to put up with inherent saddle bags like her mommy.)  Even though she looks small, Harriet acts very old.  She likes to be the center of attention constantly and prefers intelligent conversation.  She laughs at me when I sing to her and she can sit through an entire chapter of House at Pooh Corner.  She is moving on up into 3-6 month clothes.  She can sit for longer periods of time without needing to eat.

Harriet did relatively well on her major car trip.  She slept pretty well in the carseat, but when she was ready to get out she let us know with great vehemence.  I was grateful to be around people who didn't mind if a baby whose needs had been met still insisted on wailing as if I poking her with a hot iron or something.  Mom said that I was more traumatized by the screaming than Harriet really was, but that consolation didn't do much for my completely fried nerves.  Eeeeesh.  I'm glad to be home.

(And we get to go on another three-day trip next weekend.  Ooooh boy.)

I dubbed Harriet a High Maintenance Baby the other day and after reading Dr. Sears' The Baby Book, my suspicions were confirmed.  Basically, she has to be the object of our attention at all times - be it talking to her, carrying her around, wearing her in the wrap, and so on - or she will dissolve into a puddle of crankiness. I am not (let me repeat not) a proponent of letting the baby cry herself to sleep nor do I think that Harriet is being spoiled by all of this attention.  She's a three-month old for crying out loud.  But sometimes it gets a little wearing.


On the other hand, having a clingy baby definitely has its perks.  I love, love, love being able to "read" her and interpret her needs accurately.  I can tell the difference between a sleepy cry and a hungry cry.  I love it that her real routine is just being with me, so I can take her on an extensive road trip, see lots of new people, and sleep in three different places without her freaking out entirely.  I love it that she finds comfort and security in being "worn" and that I can really do anything with her attached to my body (except for showering...that was easier when she was attached to the inside of me).  I love the connection that we have.  I hope it continues for her entire life.


In other news, I'm trying to get back into the swing of home life after being gone for a few days.  My dear sweet husband cleaned up the massive pile of dishes and the house before I got home, so that was a tremendous jumpstart to my day.  He's my hero.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Spectacular Saturday (formerly known as Fantabulous Friday): A Little Roadtrip

 Can you guess where we are?

Out on the porch.
Yep, that's right.  On Thursday, Mom, Harriet and I packed into the red minivan and trekked across the more hideous parts of western Nebraska and eastern Colorado to go visit the grandparents in beautiful Estes Park.  Grandad was having surgery, so we came out to keep him (and Grammy) properly distracted and entertained.

Harriet being her entertaining self.
We like to think that we have been pretty successful since Grandad's surgery went off without a hitch (but with a stitch or two) and Harriet has slept every time we go up and down the Big Thompson Canyon...which has been three times, now.

Four generations.
Highlights of the trip have included:

Harriet and Great! Aunt Paula.

 And seeing our wonderful Aunt Paula.  She is the total bomb and we love her muchly.

Harriet doesn't like to be squished.  I don't know many people who do.
Tomorrow we will go home.  I, for one, will be very glad to see Steve even if it is a work night (we weep!) because going for more than four days without kissing your husband should be against the law.