Strangely Connected

-saying good-bye to an unborn child

-a spouse walks out after nearly a decade of marriage

-a substantial amount of cash and some personal items are stolen

-new glasses are delayed because the lenses are back ordered from the manufacturer in devastated Japan

-homes face a huge fire

The past few weeks have connected us to multiple hard times and tragedies. With the exception of the new glasses and one of the homes being our former home, we haven't faced them personally, but have been blessed to walk along side - literally or in prayer - people that we care about who are currently traversing these valleys.

And here we are at Passion week. The build up of emotions from these experiences make Passion week, well, more passionate. Emotional. How can we bear it all? The only answer I know is prayer. If I were not unloading these burdens in prayer and trusting that God's divine hand is in control, then I would become a puddle of tears on the floor. We aren't made to stand alone beneath the weight of these things.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we consider him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
- Isaiah 53:4-6

Having the weight of sorrow so fresh in my mind makes the image of Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha heavier than ever before. And yet, I can't get the lyrics to "Trading my Sorrows" out of my head. I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord. So looking forward to celebrating the miracle of Easter morning!



With Josh returning to school next month, it seems that we're on the home stretch of summer - according to our calendar, not the weather. We've been blessed with a slower summer that will hopefully become an official slow summer before school hits. Being able to take a breath, re-evaluate, and enjoy the now has been a gift.

So, here are some highlights thus far:

We planted a garden - 64 sq ft of soil for the tilling. It has definitely helped me with my fantasy of living on a farm. We've harvested gigantic cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries. The watermelons are coming along and some squash pest killed off all of our zucchini, pumpkin, and butternut squash...except for the rouge butternut squash plant growing out of our compost bin, which happens to be the healthiest looking plant in our backyard.

Kip passed the 20# mark. He is now eating 13 foods (if you count water) and has tested negative for all of the things we hoped he'd test negative for during his check-ups. We're at a point where his doctors seem comfortable saying that he is just a genetically small guy with food issues that he should outgrow. It is a new and very welcome calm. Now we just keep trying new foods and enjoy our silly little boy.

We took the boys bunk beds apart into two twin beds. Kip's showed us that he could climb the ladder to the top bunk completely unassisted. Really Kip?

We've been cheering on G-daddy and G-mommy as they buy a house in the neighborhood. We're really excited for them to move in and be so close in the coming months.

We celebrated Brian's birthday. It was a quiet birthday weekend at home. Josh and I baked and decorated a big chocolate chip cookie for him. Josh chose the theme - dinosaurs stepping in piles of dinosaur dung. Wilton didn't have a sample cake for me to copy, so we just winged it with some chocolate icing, plastic dinosaurs, and my cake decorating supplies.

Josh has been in swim lessons for 5 weeks, thus far. Originally, he was signed up for 2 weeks of lessons at our community pool. Josh resisted and protested the entire first week of lessons, but as requested, he dutiful stayed in the water and participated to the point that he was comfortable. I was very impressed by his willingness to speak up and let the teacher know when he was uncomfortable doing something. When we returned for week two of lessons Josh decided that he really liked swim lessons and wanted to continue. Amazing! Josh is putting his head underwater, kicking on the kick board, and floating on his back. He's having a fantastic time and knocking our socks off everyday.

We've played with our neighbors and friends more days than not. Having multiple families that we love nearby is wonderful.

Fun stuff! I'm eager to see what the remaining few weeks hold! Hope you are enjoying the summer too!


Many Apologies to Mary

Kip had his first taste of lamb last week and the omnivore was unleashed. Kip loves lamb! We are so excited that he has a new source of protein in his diet.


Patch On, Patch Off

We're home! Thanks to everyone who prayed for and with us during our trip.

Though we didn't return home with many solutions or cures, we were very encouraged with the confirmation that we received through the doctors and testing. The specialist confirmed that Kip has Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). His immune system thinks certain food proteins are foreign invaders and attacks them which results in damage to his GI system. The good news is that the damage can be prevented through diet modification and that he should outgrow most or all of the food sensitivities by the time he starts kindergarten.

Since this particular type of food sensitivity doesn't test "positive" with traditional blood or skin allergy testing, we went to Houston for delayed food allergy "patch testing." Kip was tested for reactions to milk, soy, chicken, beef, corn, wheat, egg, potato, sweet potato, and bananas. We would have tested more foods but we ran out of space on Kip's back. According to Dr. Mom he reacts to all of those except the potatoes. I was pretty sure sweet potatoes were fine and we had not yet tried white potatoes, but I thought they were a pretty safe bet since Kip tends to do well with vegetables.

The results were "amazing!" At least that is what the nurses said as they gathered around to "ohh" and "ahh" over his test results. The doctor took pictures and asked if Kip's results could be included in her presentation at an upcoming allergy conference. She had "never seen that before." As nice as it is to have people amazed by your child, it seems best for that to happen outside of the doctor's office.

We were not surprised that his results were impressive based on his reaction to the 48 hours of testing. Twelve hours after testing began he started getting the hiccups repeatedly and then 28 hours after testing began he woke screaming and stopped sleeping for any reasonable duration. If you like Thomas the Tank Engine marathons, you should join us next time.

Kip tested positive - or sensitive - to everything except sweet potato and white potatoes. After we discussed the results, we met with a nutritionist to talk about how we can ensure Kip gets the fats and proteins that he needs to grow properly. Since Kip is still breastfeeding (which according to the nutritionist provides most of his fat and protein), he and I will both continue to avoid the offending foods for another year, try a few new foods in the coming weeks, and return to Houston to retest next summer. We'll also have Kip's growth monitored quarterly and have the results sent down to Houston. He is currently underweight. We'll make an annual "vacation" to Houston until his food sensitives are resolved. Good thing we had some fun while there!

Between our appointments and vain attempts at catching up on sleep, we visited Hermann Park each morning and afternoon. It amazes me that we spent two days doing different activities in the same park. We walked around, played on the playgrounds, went to the zoo, and went on a train ride. Brian and Josh also played at the Houston Children's Museum. Another aspect to the whole adventure was staying in a small one bedroom hotel room - myself, G-daddy, the boys, and for the later half of the stay, Brian. We ate "in" at every meal and borrowed at least half a dozen videos from the hotel's lending library. On our way home yesterday, we agreed that we wanted to visit the museum, zoo, park, and train again next year - and maybe even ride the paddle boats. However, we'll probably look for slightly larger accommodations, especially considering Kip's potential reaction to the testing. Still, it was one of those experiences that we'll look back on, laugh about, and know that we're all closer because of our time together.

The visit provided an important mental shift for me as well. All along, I've been viewing the "Kip diet" as a temporary thing. Now, knowing that he could have these restrictions for several more years, I'm motivated to incorporate the "Kip diet" into our entire family's meals. We need to eat together again. I need to cook 3 meals a day instead of 9. So, I'm now working on compiling Kip friendly recipes so that we can at least share one dish at meals together. Ideally, we'll get to where we can share entire meals.

It's really good to be home.


Today's the Day!

We are (finally) headed to Houston this morning and will be there for the remainder of the week. We're taking Kip to see a specialist at Texas Children's Hospital this afternoon and on Friday morning. So excited! Please pray for our safe travel, that our time in Houston is fruitful, and praise God for providing this opportunity for Kip and for us!


Yes Lord Yes Lord Yes Yes Lord

Josh repeatedly asked me if I knew the "Yes Lord" song. No, I didn't. "But it is my favorite song about Jesus." It was obvious that he was singing the chorus of a song, so I googled the chorus and found the song on YouTube - Trading My Sorrows by Darrell Evans. Now instead of asking if I know the song, Josh asks if I can play the song again, and again, and again. I'm not complaining. I love seeing him dance and sing "Yes Lord." What an awesome song to have in his heart. The last 10 seconds of the video are the best, IMO.


Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

Kip will be 14 months at the end of this week. The "Kip Diet" will be about 12.5 months old then too. Yes, the Kip diet continues.

Since Kip's food sensitivities did not magically improve at 12 months, he has begun seeing specialists to hopefully help identify what he can and cannot eat (and therefore what I can and cannot eat). He is quite the trooper.

So far, three doctors have confirmed that Kip either has FPIES or EE. Whichever one we land on doesn't change the plan of action much. Since his reactions are delayed, traditional allergy testing doesn't produce positive results. The next step is to go down to Houston for a 3rd round of allergy testing, which we will do in April. So far, his blood and skin tests have all been normal or negative of any allergy, which is exactly what we expected with his diagnosis. This 3rd round of testing, called patch testing, is specifically for delayed reactions and will hopefully provide some useful information. I did read a journal article saying that a small percentage of kids don't test positive even with this specialized testing. What a bummer that would be! The test results will hopefully suggest which foods to trial him on and which ones to continue excluding from our diets. Of course, I have a list of 20 something problematic foods and we'll only be able to test 6 or 7 of them during our (possibly first?) stay in Houston.

It has been wonderfully encouraging to talk with the specialists. They have confirmed that continuing the Kip diet is the best thing possible. In fact, according to the GI specialist, the Kip diet has prevented Kip from having to undergo endoscopy and take medications. It is priceless to be told that you are not crazy by someone with an MD after their name. Kip has also expanded his menu up to 5 items: rice, sweet potato, avocado, squash, and carrots. He sure isn't lacking for Vitamin A! Months ago, he seemed to react to rice and avocado, so we're hopeful that means he will continue to outgrow his sensitivity to the other culprit foods. All it takes is patience, prayer, and lots of turkey, rice, and avocado. Yum.

Sweet Valentines

I recently read that 4.5 years of age marks the rise of potty talk. This has proven to be true at our house. Josh does all he can to work "bathroom words" into completely unrelated conversation. For instance, when a car passes, instead of asking if I saw the back of the car, he'll ask if I saw the car's bottom. Ha-ha, so funny - NOT!

Fortunately, he still gives his mom kisses with that potty mouth - and compliments too. Brian has joked that Josh has a bit of an Oedipus complex, but Josh has been ramping up the charm lately with constant compliments. Here's a conversation from last Thursday:

Josh and I were talking about what heaven looks like.

J: Will Heaven be prettier than Earth?

M: Yes, better than we expect or imagine.

J: But not prettier than you.

M: Ya think?

J: Yeah, I know. You are the prettiest thing in the universe.

As sweet as it is (and possibly blasphemy) these recurring conversations fast forward my thoughts to Josh as a young adult. Though Josh is risk adverse when it comes to physical activity, when he invests emotionally, he is all in. Oh, how easily some girl will crush his heart. I will be so mad.

The picture is of the boys on Valentine's Day. My grandma made their heart shirts. Josh picked out the fabric months ago. When we took it to the counter to be cut, the fabric store employee asked Josh what hearts mean. He said, "Love." She then asked him who he loved and he grabbed my hand, looked up at me, and sweetly said, "my mom."

This year, the boys surprised me with flowers (I was pretty sure the delivery driver had the wrong house), a heart necklace, and a necklace holder that Josh and Brian built (for free) at Lowe's on Saturday. My expectations (which were along the lines of some sweet potato fries from Terra Burger) were definitely exceeded. Thanks guys!

OK. The next post will not be all lovey dovey. I promise.


Bad Boy

Sure, he is cute.
But, he is also dangerous.

Watch out ladies.


A good day

Today was a good day.

Josh did great at school today - listened, was helpful, and ate his lunch. This is a wonderful turn around after having behavior issues three times last week. (I know, Josh?)

I took a shower AND ate lunch while Kip napped.

The weather was beautiful this afternoon so we walked to the park after Josh came home from school. Then, on our way home from the park we played with some neighbors and ended up riding bicycles around the block. We were outside for two glorious hours.

Josh bravely fell off of his bicycle twice. No tears, no whining, just picking up his bike and getting back on. The first time he did comment that it was the first time he ever fell off of his bike. I was so proud of his response to the falls. Even our neighbor said she was proud of him.

The boys are in bed and I don't feel like I must race to mine.

God is gracious to gift us with a day like today. Even the "bad days" are a gift, I know, but today was really nice.

Hope you had a great Tuesday.


Hello 2010

We're alive.

2009 was a doozy! Since we last posted, we had an awesome Halloween in CA, Kip learned to walk, we discovered more foods that Kip CAN eat and others that he should definitely avoid, Josh learned to ride a bike, we've been bowling, played mini-golf, and enjoyed ice skating, Brian got a new job title, we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with family, and we moved to a wonderful home with the friendliest of neighbors. Basically, we've laughed, we've cried, and we're still sleep deprived.

So, welcome 2010.

Today the boys got haircuts. It was a day of firsts - Josh's first "big boy" haircut with clippers and Kip's first haircut ever. Here are the before and after shots.



With a little luck, we'll post again before Spring. Take care!


Stop It, Stop It Right Now!

Josh keeps coming to me, collapsing in my arms or lap, and says with a frown, "Mom, I'm so sad that Kipper is growing up. So sad I want to cry. I want him to stay a baby." I know how you feel buddy.



Sure, it was last month, but these pictures are too cute to pass up.

The boys continue to play well together most of the time. Now that Kip is pulling up, Josh is having a hard time finding "safe" places to play with his cars and trains. He sometimes gets frustrated when Kip tries to play with them and yells, "incoming" so that I know to retrieve Kip. It has given us many opportunities to talk about things that can be fixed, what is really worth being upset about, and the value of people v.s. things. I love watching them interact. It seems like Kip saves his brightest smiles and biggest laughs for his brother. They are already wrestling around together. Boys.


Four More Years

After four years of exceptional service, Josh's first term as our son will end in mere hours. I've been stuffing the ballot boxes in order to satisfy the overwhelming cry for four more years! Imagine what he'll be able to accomplish from ages 4 to 8. Here's to four more years and no term limits little buddy! Happy birthday! We love you.


Don't Drink & Drive

I suppose it is never too early to start talking to my kids about the dangers of drinking and driving. Lay off the sauce and keep your eyes on the road, little buddy.


Moving and Stationary Monkeys

Moving Monkeys

Stationary Monkeys

Whether moving or stationary, they are always silly monkeys.


and photographer

Josh says that when he grows up he will have three jobs:
1. work with his dad at the capital.
2. work at the hospital.
3. work at his pediatrician's office.

Today he told me that he will also be a toy maker. His multiple careers will probably be necessary since he continues to suggest that he wants 20-30 kids and drive them around in a long school bus. Parents in the front, kids in the middle, and babies in the back of the bus.

He wants a big family and seems to understand that such will come with some big bills, too. We've been playing The Game of Life together over the past several weeks - a modified version - and "Josh's rules" include the winner being determined by who has the most kids and every payday you get a gift for your babies after paying for your house. It is precious to see his love for babies and kids.

While on our 2nd plane ride home this week, with a wiggly Kip grabbing at our fellow passenger's magazine, and my stomach growling because airport food isn't on the Kip diet, Josh asked me when God would put another baby in my belly. I tried not to laugh and instead suggested that we invite kids who don't have parents to take care of them into our family. He latched onto that idea fairly easily.

What does all this have to do with a photographer? Well, yesterday while at Kip's acupressure appointment Josh took these portraits. Maybe he'll add photographer to his list of career choices. Ya know, a 5th part time job.


OK Pictures

Our time in OK is coming to a close as we return home tomorrow. Here are some glimpses into our time here. Kip met Memaw, Josh spent many hours in the beloved "G-daddy's chair," we walked to the farmer's market, fed the ducks and geese at park, played with Shadow, went to a church garage sale where Kip liked a rocking horse so much that he lifted it up when we attempted to take him off of it, walked to church, and had many other adventures. The whole time we missed Dad. See ya soon Dad!



Here's a picture of the boys from this morning. We moved Kip out of his infant car seat (sigh) yesterday and now the boys have matching car seats that fit together side by side. They love it. They can hold hands and play with each other while we are in the car. Here's praying they remain so loving with each other.

At bedtime, Josh will give me kisses and instructions for each kiss. I'm not sure where he got this idea, but some kisses have to be kept all night, others need to be lost, others need to be kept forever, etc. Tonight on the way to bed Josh kissed by hand and said:

"You keep that kiss until we are with Jesus. That is a long time!"

Oh, my sweet sweet boy.

The lil' boys and I are off to OKC this week. We're excited to visit with G-daddy, G-mommy, Aunt Liz, Memaw and Shadow. The boys will be spoiled with attention and I have high hopes of being spoiled with a little extra sleep.


Birthday Boys

We have two birthday boys in the house today (and three more on Brian's side of the family - 2 of Brian's brothers and a cousin). One of our birthday boys is 7 months today, while the other is 408 months. We have a treasure hunt planned for the older one. We made a treasure map and cut it into 5 pieces. He'll have to find 5 clues, put the pieces together to complete the map, and then find his birthday loot. Fun.


Saturday Morning

I ran my fingers over Kip's gums this morning and was surprised to find the tip of his bottom middle left tooth. Kipper has his first tooth - and true to 2nd child form, I have no idea when it actually busted through. When I noticed it I announced the exciting news to everyone else.

Me: Kip has a tooth! When did Kip get a tooth?

Josh: Oh, he got it from Jupiter. Everyone gets their teeth from Jupiter.

After one of Kip's naps this morning I came out into the living room to discover Josh's self portrait. This was a totally unsolicited creation. Josh explained that the green and orange rings are the eye brows, the balls are his eyes and nose, and that the teething ring serves a dual role of his mouth and belly button. I explained to Josh how intuitive that was since both serve as food depots at different times in life. The rest are his arms and body. I don't know why it loaded sideways; just turn your head please.


Moments of Clarity

It is difficult to take pictures of Josh recently. He is a man of action so most shots are a blur. I was able to capture these two pictures this weekend while my parents were visiting.

Sir Smiley

Kip is a super smiley baby. Strangers stop us to comment on our happy one. Amazing considering the months of blood curling screaming he endured. He checked out at his 6 month exam and weighed 16 pounds. For the trivia buffs, he is the same length, 2 ounces lighter, and has a slightly smaller head (1 cm less) as Josh at the same age. It amazes me to see how similar they are physically.

Kip is rolling now. Not just back and forth, but continuous rolling so that he can travel across a room. Today Josh found him under a chair. Kip already seems to be the adventurous type, so we might need to step up our baby proofing soon.


Write Your Own Caption

What is that slice of beefcake talking about? Is he describing what it feels like to hold a beating heart in his hands? Is he lecturing on how to select ripe produce at the grocery store? I guess we could read the article, but making our own caption would be more fun. Give it a try!


the boys

here's a pic of the boys doing boy stuff today (on Kip's 6 month birthday)

You're how old?

Yesterday, a Walmart employee stopped me at the store and asked about Josh and Kip. She was a petite woman and also has two kids of similar age. At the end of our conversation she said, "Can I ask you a question?" Um, sure. She asked if anyone ever asks me if I am old enough to have two kids. Yes, yes, and yes! I told her about the window repairman who came by this week who asked me if I ran a home daycare and about being carded when I buy beer with both kids in tow. She seemed relieved that she isn't the only one with this "issue." I assured her that we'll be happy to look younger than we are when we have grandkids. It was an unexpected but enjoyable moment in the day.

Speaking of looking your age, this kid is looking older lately. It seemingly happened overnight. I'm not sure if I should ask him to mow the lawn or think of reasons why he can't borrow the car tonight. It is crazy!

the monkey goes bananas

Kip has been grabbing food out of my hands recently, so I've been letting him have a taste of some softer foods. Even if he does not actually eat it, the experience of touching and playing with the food is valuable. (Right, Marti?) Josh isn't a fan of Kip's exploration. He can't be within sight of Kip when he is this messy. Hopefully Josh will accept the temporary mess soon so he can stop eating backwards at the table.

The kid is crazy for bananas. You should think twice about eating a banana within his arms' reach. Seriously.


Before & After

Josh has been growing his hair out because he likes it "long and crazy." CRAZY is more accurate! The bed head that we comb through each morning is crazy, too!

Last night Josh wanted his hair to be spiky for Bible study. It took a lot of product to get his long hair to stay up. I joked that he needed some Aqua Net.

Seizing the potential opportunity to have Josh willingly cut his hair, I helped him look online at boy hairstyles so that he could show me what he wanted his hair to look like. The verdict: spiky. I explained that spiky meant that it needed to be shorter so he needed to prioritize long v.s. spiky. Spiky won. Check out the new do.

He loves it - especially putting the hairspray in all by himself. This afternoon he's been running to the mirror to make sure his hair is still spiky. He'll randomly ask me, "Mom, is it still spiky?" Pretty funny.