Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Lately I've been very aware of how frequently I have the TV on in the background, so I'm making a conscious effort to do so less often. I've also given in too much to the distractions of my ipod and the computer. I didn't expose Caleb to much music in his younger months and I've been turning the TV off in favor of listening to music instead. We've discovered in the past month or two that he really, really loves music and constantly asks for "more more kissee" (his way of saying music).

Yesterday, as Caleb and I sat together on the sofa while he ate his snack, it became quite evident to me that the TV has spent far too much time turned on, and Caleb has noticed it. He munched on his apple slices, staring thoughtfully at the dark inanimate screen, and began the following conversation:

"More more moomie?" (movie)
"No, no movie."
"More more seatball?" (football)
"No, no football."
"More more Bah?"
"No, no Bella."
"More more birds?"
"No, no birds."

[Note: Bella and birds are both apps on my ipod that he particularly enjoys. Bella is an interactive children's video and birds is Angry Birds.]

Shortly after, he predictably asked for "kissee" so I obliged. Our xbox connects wirelessly to our computer so we turn that on to access our music library and play it through the stereo downstairs. Caleb's connection to electronic visuals is so strong that he thinks music comes through the picture he sees on the TV, or the itunes window on the computer monitor. When we turn the TV off (sound goes through the receiver instead) or minimize the itunes window, he asks for music again because he thinks it goes away along with the picture. We're working on teaching him that music is the sound he hears, and it's still there even when the picture goes away.

I've decided to challenge myself to limit the use of electronics throughout the day. It's easy to use Caleb as an excuse to have the TV on or play games on my ipod, because he likes those things. But what he likes and what is best for him are not always one and the same.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sewing Straight Lines

A few weeks ago I was making burp cloths for a friend. I often have trouble sewing perfectly straight lines. Even with that presser foot firmly on the fabric to keep it going straight, it somehow manages to stray here and there. In the midst of my frustration, I had a spiritual epiphany.

We are a human sewing project.

We struggle against the mechanism that's in place to guide us (the Holy Spirit). Sometimes we calmly and quietly stay in line as we're stitched together and made complete. Other times we fight the plan of what we're designed to be. Even with pins in place to prepare us, we try to go our own way.

There are two ways to look at this. The first is that we are flawed, imperfect, perhaps even outright ugly. We succumb to the pull of forces that would have us rebel against our purpose. Even if cosmetically we seem right, our internal strength and integrity might be questionable.

The way I prefer to see it is that these flaws are proof that we are handcrafted. We might make it difficult for our Creator to shape us - as demonstrated by our broken threads and jagged lines - but in the end, we are lovingly put together by a dedicated, unyielding Maker who sees past these flaws; He sees the final product. He loves us, He's proud of us, and He puts us to use despite our imperfections. Or, perhaps, because of them.

I don't want to be a difficult fabric to work with. I want to do exactly what my Creator asks of me. This won't always be the case because, like the fabric we use ourselves, sometimes we simply have a mind of our own. But that doesn't mean I can't strive to be cooperative and grateful to be worked on by the hands of such a skilled Craftsman.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Simple tomato bisque

I've been trying out new things in the kitchen lately. I knew there was a culinary enthusiast in me and in the past few months she's really begun to show herself. Yesterday I was tired so I planned an easy dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup. But basic tomato soup sounded boring and plain, so I decided to spice it up.

I've never made a tomato bisque before, but from what I understand it has a tomato and cream base, so I began there. I bought some cheap generic condensed tomato soup and instead of adding a can of water, I added a can of half & half. In hindsight that was too much cream, so next time I think I'd do 3/4 can of half & half and 1/4 can of water.

I went out to our garden and picked some tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced them, and added them to the soup. Then I chopped some fresh basil (~2tbsp) and oregano (~1tbsp) and stirred that in. My plan was to include some roasted red pepper (the jarred variety, not the best but it was all we had and it does the job) but I realized we were out. However, roasting red peppers is very easy, so next time I would do that and have fresh peppers in the bisque. Finally, I added about a tbsp of paprika, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. The end result? SO GOOD. Normally the grilled cheese is the star of this meal, but this time the bisque stood out by far.

This is one that I will definitely be repeating, especially with the cold weather arriving. I love making soups, stews and bisques. Your favorite recipes for those are very much welcome here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Toy & A Family Vacation

We've been at Eagle Crest with Jonathan's family since Sunday. This week has been full of sunshine, swimming, relaxation, and laughter. This is the first time Caleb and his two cousins have spent an extended period of time together. Now that he's walking, he can run around and keep up with Emma and Kole. It's so much fun to watch them play and interact with one another.

Friday and Saturday were spent with my family. I spent Saturday morning at a friend's baby shower and that evening we went to my sister's house for a barbecue in celebration of my brother-in-law's birthday. I love the Seattle area and we are quite settled in with our life up there, but I forget how good it feels to be in the company of the entire family.

Saturday afternoon I had some errands to run. One of them was stopping by a camera shop to gather more information about different DSLR models. I'd been waffling between two of them, one a Nikon and one a Canon. Before we left home I had high hopes of making a decision so I could purchase it in Oregon and save a bundle on tax. With all the packing and preparations for our trip, that didn't happen. I surprised myself though and ended up making my decision right then and there in the store, once I actually held the cameras in my hand and played with the user interfaces. I returned to my parents' house with a Nikon D3100 feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve.

All this week I've been getting to know my new toy, experimenting with the settings I've been able to figure out thus far. (Let it be known that I have a looooong way to go before I learn it all. As soon as we get home I'm researching photography classes.) Below are some of my favorite snapshots:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Guilty Conscience

I love animals. I love them all, but none more than my gorgeous, fluffy orange kitty, Tigerlily.

Today I'm feeling like I failed her. Well, let's be honest. I'm feeling like I killed her.

She's been our cat since she was 6 weeks old. We adopted her 6 years ago this month. Jonathan was less than thrilled with me when I brought her home, and I understand why. We agreed to get a cat, but he didn't agree to getting one with a respiratory infection, an eye infection and a horrid case of the fleas. The nurturing side of me couldn't help myself when I went to see her; I wanted to rescue her and give her a loving home, plus she was so darn cute and exactly what I'd spent years looking for: a long hair female orange tabby.

I took her to the vet and in a month or so she was perfectly healthy and spunky, and the cutest kitten I'd ever laid eyes on. Her personality soon came out; the spunk could turn into ferocity sometimes. She was very unpredictable and had a feral streak in her. Not most people's ideal house cat, but she was my pretty girl and I loved her.

A year or so after we moved to Seattle, she began having what's known as "inappropriate elimination" trouble. In layman's terms, she was peeing places other than her litterbox. The main target was the guest bed, which was typically her territory, and I think she didn't like when people came to stay with us and kicked her out of her favorite lounging spot. Then she began peeing on the carpet right outside the guest bathroom. I tried all kinds of methods of getting her to stop; pheromone spray, a variety of carpet cleaners, squirting her with the water bottle, cleaning her litterbox every time she used it, even sprinkling pepper in the carpet. Nothing worked.

When we moved to our first house I had an unrealistic hope that we could move away from her problems and she wouldn't do it anymore. At first I was right! For several months there were zero problems. She used her litterbox exactly as she did before the issue started. Gradually, Jonathan and I began to notice a slight odor coming from the living room. We both got down on our hands and knees and sniffed every inch of the carpet, but neither of us could find a fresh spot. The previous homeowners had a cat and I suspected that it had urinated in the living room, but they deep cleaned the carpet and the smell came out. For a while anyway, until it began seeping up through the carpet again. Not long after, we discovered a fresh marking; Tigerlily was at it again.

For the past year+, it's gotten worse and worse. Once again, I tried everything I could. I had great results at first using Oxyclean and covering the spots with foil to keep her from going back to the marked areas, but then she just went on peeing on different spots. It got so bad that I couldn't keep up with it anymore. By that point the carpet was destroyed, the pad was certainly destroyed, and we're 99.9% certain that all of the subflooring is destroyed as well. Our living room has been unusable for a very long time (thankfully we have the family room downstairs) and the smell rears it's nose-wrinkling head sometimes so bad that even opening windows doesn't seem to help. She was also sometimes defecating on the carpet. We love to entertain people in our home and all but stopped because we were ashamed of that room and never knew if the house would smell or not. We still haven't been able to do anything with that room because the flooring has to be changed before we can put it together. I hated the situation, but she was my girl and I loved her too much to give her up. I held out hope that everything could be fixed. Then a new problem arose.

Since Caleb was born, she seemed to do pretty well. She would curious about him, generally keeping her distance but still curious. He looooved her though. She started to warm up a little, coming up to check him out and even letting him pat her a little. She gradually became aggressive though, hissing and swiping at him (thankfully she's declawed in front). Then one day, he crawled across the hall from our room into his, and shortly after I heard a shriek followed by a loud wail. I found Tigerlily sauntering out of his room and Caleb clutching his arm, sobbing. Pulling up his sleeve, I found that she bit him, hard enough to draw blood even through his long sleeve shirt. I felt horrible for Caleb and so betrayed by her. How could she hurt my baby?? Jonathan had long wanted to get rid of her but he knew I was very attached to her and felt I would resent him if he gave me an ultimatum, so he didn't. After this incident, I ran out of excuses for keeping her. For the sake of my son's safety (and my marriage, my husband was running out of patience), the time had finally come to find her a new home; namely, one with no children.

This decision was a very painful one to make. The process of finding her a new home was slow. I had to come to terms with the fact that she would be leaving our home before I could actually begin the search. I admit I dragged my feet a little and tried to postpone the inevitable. I called all the no-kill shelters and posted on all the websites with listings for animals for adoption. All of the shelters either weren't accepting pets, or wouldn't accept my pet because her behavioral problems made her unadoptable. I was too scared to call any of the shelters that practice euthanasia. I couldn't stand the possibility of her being put down. (Edited to add: During this time she bit Caleb again, which reaffirmed the decision that she needed a new home.)

After weeks of searching, Jonathan finally came to the end of his rope. I had two more weeks to find her a home before we took her to the Everett Animal Shelter, which was my absolute last resort. (I want to make it clear that I have no hard feelings or resentment toward him for this. He gave me way more time than I ever would have given him if our roles were reversed. He pointed out during one argument about her that I never would have put up something for as long as he put up with her, and he was right.) I tried my best during that time but I couldn't find a home for her. So today, we packed up her kitty litter and food, I held her in the car, and we drove to the shelter.

When we walked in I felt stoic and numb. She was quiet and fairly calm in her carrier. I had Jonathan do the talking because I couldn't bear to say it. When we told her why we were surrendering her, she said, "So, you're here for a euthanasia?" .......I stared at her in shock. She said that Tigerlily's behavioral problems make her unadoptable for them, so that's all they can do with her. She was so matter of fact about it that her words and attitude felt cold, even though they weren't really. I turned and stared at Jonathan. He said, "We don't have any other options." My mind was reeling. I knew he was right, but I couldn't believe that the only choice we had left was to put her down. She wasn't sick, she didn't maim anyone (yet), she wasn't a wild homeless animal. She was MY PET. We couldn't take her back home, though, and there was nowhere else to go. In my head I was protesting, but I agreed to it. I couldn't hold back the tears anymore and struggled to answer the woman's questions with a shaky voice, all the while staring at Tigerlily and opening the carrier to pet her long, soft fur. The woman shocked me again when she asked if we wanted to come back for her ashes. I asked her if we could take her back home. She said sure, but seemed surprised that I would ask. A couple other women came out to take Tigerlily back. I asked if we could go back with her and they said no, only vets do that. I stroked her fur for the last time while she was alive, closed the cage, and told them to go ahead and take her. Turning around and walking away, I finally fell apart.

It took a while for them to come back out. Another couple came in with a cat to surrender, who also was was urinating on their floors. From what I could gather they went ahead with euthanasia as well. I barely overheard the same woman tell them in a low voice that they were in the process of a euthanasia with another cat and saw her gesture toward us out of the corner of my eye. I tried hard not to judge them for not being more upset about putting down their cat. Something like this should be devastating, and they didn't seem devastated enough to me.

Finally someone came out and handed Tigerlily's crate back to me. I couldn't believe how heavy it felt. She was covered in a towel. The tears slipped out again as we walked back to the car. When we got there, I took the top of the carrier off and pulled back the towel to see her. They arranged her in there so it looked like she was sleeping. Her eyes wouldn't stay closed, though, and that bothered me. I held her on my lap as we drove home, petting her as if she were alive, wishing that this day could not be happening.

We got home and Jonathan put Caleb down for a nap while I went out side and sat on the deck, holding Tigerlily in the towel on my lap, still petting her and cuddling her. Jonathan dug a hole to bury her in the corner of the yard with some bushes. When he was done, I carried her over, said goodbye, and handed her to Jonathan to put her in and cover her back up while I went inside. I couldn't stand to watch. My stomach turned as I dragged myself upstairs and into bed to grieve in private. I told Jonathan yesterday that I would need some alone time after we dropped her off. That was assuming that we were dropping her off alive, not bringing her home dead. I needed the alone time even more now.

It's been a little over 4 hours since we got home. I don't feel better at all. If anything, I feel worse. It seems so wrong, to euthanize a pet for behavioral problems. I know that man has dominion over all the animals of the earth, but I don't think animals are so worthless that inappropriate behavior equals a death sentence. I'm grappling with the guilt of allowing someone to put down my cat; even worse, having to pay them to do it. I feel as though I murdered her myself. I wish I could fast-forward a few weeks, or a few months even, to when I won't feel so bad. I keep glancing out the window into the corner of the yard where she's buried, trying to wrap my head around the fact that she won't come when I call her anymore, I won't see her lounging in the sun by the back door anymore, she won't be eating the food or drinking the water that's sitting out, or using the litterbox that's still set up. The whole process felt so rushed, like I had barely enough time to actually think about what that woman was telling me or consider the ramifications of our decision. I wasn't ready to say goodbye, not like that. I didn't really even say goodbye before they took her. I wish I'd had some time to sit and hold her again, to pet her and talk to her and cuddle her alive.

I know the sadness will eventually get better. I can only hope that the guilt does too. I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that as an animal lover, I euthanized my perfectly healthy cat. Lilies are my favorite flowers, and there's a beautiful orange species called a Tiger Lily. My mission this week is to buy one and plant it on the spot that she's buried.

Missing you lots already, pretty girl.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What Makes A Good Day

What makes a good day for me?

It could be having the entire house clean at once. It could be meeting a friend for a play date. It could be indulging in Starbucks instead of making coffee at home. It could be discovering that something I've wanted for a long time is finally on sale. It could be these things, but it isn't.

It's making the most of my time with Caleb.

I have found that though motherhood began as completely selfless, selfishness has slowly and subtly crept back in. At this time last year, I didn't think twice about forgoing my own comforts and wishes in exchange for sitting on the floor with Caleb or reading parenting and childcare books. Now I have to make a conscious effort to put away my personal to-do lists and wishlists in exchange for Caleb's wishlists. It's far too easy to make my daily agenda about myself... until I look into those bright, sparkly blue eyes and think about how happy it would make Caleb to make my agenda all about him.

Parenting has taught me about denying myself in a way that nothing else has before. Marriage demands that we compromise and give of ourselves, but our spouses are capable of being self-sufficient, and our children are not. No one will ever depend on me the way my child(ren) will. Perhaps God gives us children not only to create new generations, but to better learn the selfless part of being Christlike.

At the end of the day, I am most satisfied when I have ignored my e-mails and let the kitchen slide a little and instead played games with Caleb, read books with him, explored the backyard with him and snuggled him while he had a snack. I prefer to have my home and life in order, but I'll take a little chaos in exchange for quality time with my boy.

(I mean really, who could resist this?)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Say What?

Caleb was chattering on the other day, saying "na na!" over and over. I tried to get him to say "mama" instead. This is how the conversation went:

Me: Caleb, say 'mama!'
Caleb: Na na!
Me: No, mmma-mmma!
Caleb: Na na!
Me: Mama!
Caleb: Na na!
Me: Mama!
Caleb: Dada!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Back To It

I haven't posted in over two months. There is quite a bit I've missed out on documenting and I hope to catch up soon. Caleb sure is getting big! He started walking and gets better at it every day. He still falls down and uses crawling as his primary means of transportation but it won't be long before walking is the new crawling.

As of 12 months, Caleb was 23lb 10oz and 31". He's about 25lbs now and I'm guessing a good 32.5-33". His pants are fitting better in length and looser in the waistband, which means he's lengthening and thinning out. He's still solid though!

These are some of my favorite snapshots from the last couple months:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blessing in iDisguise

My ipod is not functioning.

Last May, I compiled some gift money I had saved up and bought an iPod Touch. (When you register your ipod, you have to give it a name. I call mine JessiPod. Clever, no?) I wanted one for a long time but always hesistated when it came to the actual purchase. $279 is a lot of money and there are plenty of other things I could do with that. Turns out it was more than worth the money. My ipod and I, I and my ipod... we share a close bond. Turns out, it's gotten a little too close. I've become far too attached to my little device.

My ipod has become an idol in my life. I carry it with me throughout the house. I waste far too much time browsing the internet and playing games. Time that could be spent on keeping up the house, reading, my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) lesson, etc. I do all of these things, but I think that several aspects of my life would improve if I devoted myself more fully to them. Instead of getting behind and then scrambling to get the entire house clean at once, I could do constant light maintenance, have a fully clean house every day and be much happier. Instead of trying to cram almost my entire BSF lesson on Wednesday night (class is Thursday morning), I could do a little bit every day - as it's designed to work - and spend Wednesday night with my husband. Not to mention set aside time to give my full attention to God and his Word daily.

When I couldn't get my ipod to reboot this morning, I felt cheated by the Apple gods. What would I do without my digital sidekick??? The more I've thought about it, the more thankful I've become to be forced to spend time away from it. I had planned on going to the Apple store tomorrow afternoon to get it fixed. Maybe I'll wait just a little bit longer. I'm quite good at procrastinating anyway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Developments

In less than a week, my baby has started crawling, waving and going from tummy to sitting up (as of today). .....WHOA. Holy developing skills!

His army crawl is really funny. He uses his arms and left leg and drags his right leg behind him. It's awkward but effective in getting him to where he wants to go.

His wave is exhuberant and exaggerated. He has accidentally hit himself in the face while waving on more than one occasion.

His tummy-to-sitting is very controlled. For a long time he rolled onto his side, grabbed his outer leg and tried to pull himself to sitting but that never panned out. Today he got up on all fours, used his arms to push back to his knees and settled onto his bum, sitting upright.

What a big boy we have!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Yesterday morning Caleb began saying "uh-huh." But not just any "uh-huh," a very enthusiastic, emphasis-on-the-second-syllable, drawn out "uh-huuuuuuh!" Today it's shifted to an "uuuuuh-huh," and he also added "mm-hm." Our clever boy has assigned these two words to a myriad of meanings. From what I can decipher, this includes:

*More food please
*More food faster please
*No more food please
*I like that
*I don't like that
*Look at that
*Check out what I can do with this toy
*Let's change this diaper faster so I can get up
*Come play with me
*I'm busy
*I feel like talking for no apparent reason

My baby is brilliant.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Our little goat is no longer permitted to read books by himself.

Here's why:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

9 Months

(He's really almost 10 months - just 3 days away - but here's what's been happening in month #9.)

Weight: 23lbs 4oz
Height: 29.5"

(As of 1/10)

Caleb has exploded with lots of new tricks and skills. We can't believe how many new things he's picked up!

*His "cheesy" face; a squinty-eyed, scrunchy-nosed, teeth-baring, wide-mouthed smile that seems to be designed for entertainment purposes (as pictured above)
*Fake laughs, fake cries and fake coughs
*Inventing games (such as peekaboo from behind the bumper, and stop-me-from-eating-my-feet)

*He jabbers all the time but doesn't often say actual words (he still only says "Dada" and "Mama") but he understands a lot of them, especially "kitty!"
*Picking up and feeding himself pieces of food
*Drinking water from his straw cup
*Banging objects together
*Pulling himself from sitting to standing
*Resuming 12 straight hours of sleep at night and solid naps of about 1.5 hours

*He is cutting his 8th tooth, and I think there are a couple more just under the surface (he doesn't let me look very much)
*When he gets dressed, as soon as his shirt is over his head I hold out the arm holes and he puts his right arm in the sleeve, then his left arm - all on his own!
*He only uses his left hand to put food in his mouth. If he tries to with his right, he uses his left to guide it in. Perhaps (despite Daddy's best efforts) he'll take after Mama and be a lefty after all?

He's able to go longer stretches of wakefulness during the day, which has improved his naps. He also eats three meals a day instead of two (plus snacking on some puffs). This is his current schedule:
8am - Wake, nurse, play
9am - Breakfast
10:30am - Bath (every few days or his skin gets too dry)
11am - Nap
12/12:30pm - Wake, nurse, play
1pm - Lunch
2:30/3pm - Nap
4/4:30pm - Wake, nurse, play
6:30pm - Dinner
7:30pm - Start getting ready for bed
7:45pm - Nurse or bottle
8pm - Bedtime

Breakfast: A parfait of fruit, cereal and yogurt or cottage cheese, and sometimes also toast or pancakes.
Lunch: Could be cheese cubes, cheese toast, chunks or purees of fruit or veggies, yogurt, lunchmeat, etc.; usually at least two different foods/courses.
Dinner: Similar menu as lunch. When we go out, I do pack food for him but also try to order something with ingredients that he can eat too. When we're at home I set aside plain or lightly seasoned pieces of whatever I'm cooking.

The majority of his solid food is now pieces that he can pick up but we still feed him some purees. His favorite table food is cubes of cheddar cheese, his favorite puree is butternut squash and his favorite fruit is a tie between bananas and peaches. Although he eats plenty of solid food, his main source of nutrition is still breastmilk. We plan to go at least a year of breastfeeding and then we'll play it by ear after that.

During the day, we play on the floor (he had a lot of toys before, but now he has TONS thanks to Christmas and family members!), read books, run errands, go on walks, go to the park, he plays in his jumperoo, and sometimes we just tickle and wrestle. :) We play together a lot, but he also gets plenty of independent playtime on the floor or in his pack and play or jumperoo while Mama gets stuff done around the house or takes a time out to relax for a little bit.

There's lots more that I'm not remembering. It seems like he learns something new every day. I cannot believe it's already time to start planning his first birthday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Enjoying The Break

We had a beautiful break from the clouds and rain this afternoon, so after lunch we walked down to the lake to let Caleb swing and play at the park.

Starting out our walk

Caleb thought it was funny to try and grab Daddy's hat

We are so thankful to live by the lake!

Daddy gives Caleb a push


Caleb steers the fire engine

Then he and Daddy go down the slide together

We had pancakes for breakfast and cheese toast for lunch (lots of big boy food!). Tonight, Daddy's making tandoori chicken for dinner. What a great Saturday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Caleb's Soundtrack

If you know me at all, you know that music is an integral part of my life. I have a constant soundtrack running in my head for whatever I'm doing at the moment. In fact, one of the first things I did with itunes was create soundtracks for different moods; mellow, driving, workout, etc. I make soundtracks for friends at different stages of life as well, like the birth of a baby, or the loss of a baby. I've been working on composing an instrumental lullaby for Caleb since before he was born. In the meantime, his special song is "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)" by the Dixie Chicks. I listened to it and sang it all the time while pregnant with him, once we found out we'd be having a boy. To this day, he calms immediately and smiles for me when I sing it to him. Sometimes all it takes is to hum the first line.

This is his soundtrack:
"Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)" - Dixie Chicks
"Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" - Billy Joel
"You Are So Beautiful" - Joe Cocker
"Love Never Fails" - Brandon Heath
"Lullaby" - Dixie Chicks
"Forever Young" - Rod Stewart
Faith, Hope & Lullabies: Songs of Worship

Call me an overachiever, but if we ever have a little girl, my soundtrack for her is ready. :)