first week on earth

dylan is a fantastic big sister. her first words in the morning are usually "see baby james" followed by "kiss head," "kiss ear," or "kiss nose." (i'm not sure where she got the idea to kiss his ears, but it's pretty adorable.) the other day jim got her up and brought her into bed with us. she snuggled up close to the baby and said "cuddle it now." yesterday, i was changing dylan's diaper and james was hanging out on the bed cooing and making gurgly baby noises that dylan interpreted as sneezes: "God bless you, baby! God bless you!"

i think he looks like his uncle josh here.

if someone can take a not-unattractive picture of my whole face, i would be more than happy to post it;) until then, you'll have to make due with this, (mom).

we're all doing well around here--resting/(not resting), playing, reading, hanging out, enjoying family time, praying against sickness, and eating the meals generously provided to us. it's been a good first week.


welcome baby james!

james edward paul, III made his debut early thursday morning. he was born at 4:04 on october 22, weighing in at 8 lbs, 7 oz. we're both doing well, and we came home yesterday afternoon.

dylan is adjusting so far like a champ, jim and i are trying to catch up on rest, james is nursing well and sleeping fairly well, and all we're thankful that jim's parents have been here, especially to give dylan lots of extra attention.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." James 1: 17-18


clothesline magic

this baby is due in four days, and my house has never been so clean, between the steam mopping, dusting, organizing, and mountains of laundry washed, folded, and put away.

i'd had a small load of baby clothes that i wanted to sun on the clothesline, but it seemed like most of september and october had been cloudy. finally, this week, figuring i was running out of time, i soaked them overnight in oxygen cleaner and hoped for a sunny day in the morning.

i got my sunny day, but it was also 23 degrees. in october. but i was undeterred: this child was not going to wear clothes with old spit-up stains! i put on my boots, hat, and scarf, and took my small load out to the frosty clothesline.

it paid off! most everything was good-as-new by afternoon, and the two items that weren't quite had a least faded significantly.

sunning out stains on the clothesline is an easy, green laundry tip that definitely works for me.


book circle: slacker's edition

i got so far behind in my reading this summer. june's book was The Zookeeper's Wife, and though i liked it a lot, its heavy world war two theme did not make for light reading. i paid late fees on it at the library THREE separate times, but i didn't want to give up, because the story itself was fascinating. it was just hard to finish, mostly because of the time of year i was reading, and because finishing non-fiction is not my forte anyway.

the book tells the true story of a young polish family who used their warsaw zoo to hide and rescue jews during the nazi occupation. most of their animals were either stolen or brutally "hunted" by the nazis, but that freed space to hide hundreds of jews right under the noses of the nazis in the middle of the occupied city.

the story is based on journals, photographs, and other historical accounts, and it provides an intimate look not only of one family's remarkable heroism but also of the creative scope of the resistance.

P.S. I Love You was an awful movie and a not much better book. the best thing i can say about it is it's a not entirely terrible beach read, which is where i read it. the story follows a young widow grieving the loss of her husband to cancer, but somehow she manages to not be a very likable or even sympathetic heroine. also, even though it's about grief, it lacks gravity and remains pretty fluffy. this was partly explained in the "book group question" section, which introduces a question like this: "keeping in mind that the author was only 22 when she wrote this, her first book..."
Letter to My Daughter is actually the first book i've ever read of maya angelou's. somehow, i expected it to be more poignant and memorable, but i still enjoyed it. ms. angelou has packed a great deal of experience into her seven decades, and she writes with warmth and humility.

here's an excerpt from a short section i enjoyed entitled "Keep the Faith," about angelou's grandmother during the Depression:

Whenever she confronted a challenge, Mamma...would tell her family in particular, and the world in general, "I don't know how to find the things we need, but I will step out on the word of God. I am trying to be a Christian and I will just step out on the word of God." Immediately, I could see her flung into space, moons at her feet and stars at her at her head, comets swirling around her shoulders. Naturally, since she was over six feet tall, and stood out on the word of God, she was a giant in heaven. It wasn't difficult for me to see Mamma as powerful, because she had the word of God beneath her feet.

Thinking of my grandmother years later, I wrote a gospel song...

"You said to lean on your arm
And I am leaning
You said to trust in your love
And I am trusting
You said to call on your name
And I am calling
I'm stepping out on your word."

Whenever I began to question whether God exists, I looked up to the sky and surely there, right there, between the sun and the moon, stands my grandmother, singing a long meter hymn, a song somewhere between a moan and a lullaby and I know faith is the evidence of things unseen.

And all I have to do is continue trying to be a Christian.

i've still not read september's offering (let alone october's), but maybe once i start breastfeeding a newborn for unending hours i'll get caught back up. maybe?


on baby boys and strange old men

throughout this pregnancy, strangers have taken one look and me and declared authoritatively, "you're having a boy."

it happened twice this week. once was an elderly gentleman hanging outside the VFW, and today, i walked past a middle-aged man on an idling motorcycle, who paused to shout over the engine (and into his helmet), "it's a boy!"

is this a normal experience?

i never put much stock in the old wives tales about the differences between carrying boys and girls, but the strangers have all been right. apparently, if you look like you're hiding a basketball, it's boy, for sure.

jim swears i looked completely different (read: wider) carrying dylan, and sure enough, no one thought she'd be a boy.

anyone want to weigh in on this?


easy salsa verde enchiladas

one of jim's and my favorite recipes is for these salsa verde chicken enchiladas from cooking light.  it combines a few fresh ingredients with jarred salsa, and it is delicious and super easy.

you just blend garlic, onion, and cilantro with store-bought salsa verde; that's your sauce as well as what flavors your chicken (along with cream cheese). we usually use flour tortillas instead of corn (skipping the soaking step), as well as cheddar cheese and lots more cilantro.

the last time we made it, we only had corn tortillas, leftover from baking tortilla chips, and i wanted to get it in the oven fast. you can't really roll corn tortillas without soaking them first or they break, so i improvised and made the dish into an enchilada casserole. it was simple and just as delicious. i just layered the salsa verde, tortillas, and chicken mix, topped with cheese, and popped it into the oven to bake. you can stick it under the broiler for a last minute or two if you want to brown the cheese a little and garnish it with chopped cilantro when it comes out.

do you have a favorite easy weeknight meal?

this recipe is linked to works for me wednesday.


all prettied up

i won a beautiful new blog header, designed by jessi from naptime diaries. she did such a great job! i love the tree of life image--how rich it is with God's promises and how its appearance in scripture bookends the bible.

in genesis, adam and eve are kicked out of the garden of eden after they sin, but more than a punishment, it's an expression of God's mercy that prevents them from eating from the tree of life and living forever in bondage to sin. at the end of the bible, after Jesus' resurrection and defeat of satan, sin, and death, the tree of life appears again:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away..."

...Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (revelation 21:1-4, 22:1-5)

as in eden, God will once again dwell among his people, everything tainted and distorted by sin's curse will be restored, and the tree of life's return symbolizes that this restoration of what God intended for all creation will be eternal.

amen, huh?

the giveaway i won is hosted at bringing our baby home, and you should definitely check it out. leigh is raising funds to adopt a baby girl from ethiopia, and she has creatively gotten different businesses and artisans to donate things to giveaway. you can donate to their adoption fund via paypal, and every $5 counts as an entry. take a gander.

thanks so much to both leigh and jessi. you can contact jessi at her blog or at jessi @ naptimediaries dot com if you'd like a shiny new graphic, too.
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