Asking for help is hard.

Dear Zo,

I don't think you knew I was taking your picture, but maybe you did. Lately you've been making crazy faces at me when I try to take your photo. Crazy faces, or you cover your face with your hands. I'm not sure what phase this is that you're in. I guess it's one of the symptoms of your age. Twoooo.

I was watching you as I took your picture on this warm day, and I watched you again this morning as you were eating your cereal. Mommies always watch their children, but there was something special about this morning. Not with you; you're always special, but something inside me today was different. It was one of those moments where I thought, I am so blessed to be your Mama. You and I have had a few bumpy moments lately. Your little will is so strong, and I'm struggling with how to handle you. You want to do everything by yourself. No, Mommy, no help. No, Mommy, me! I want you to be independent, but there are things you still need help with.

We have lots of talks about kindness. You being kind. Mommy being kind. We pray to Jesus a lot. I tell you, Jesus will help us when we ask Him. So we ask him for help, you and I. Lately we've needed His help lots of times each day. When I take your hands in mine and we stop and pray, Jesus, we need your help, I hope you are learning that asking for help is a good thing. You won't always know all the answers. I don't always know all the answers. When we don't, we need to ask for help.

This stopping and asking for help has also been good for me. It's made me realize that I try to do too much on my own. Perhaps more than that, though, I realized that I do too much on my own because I think I can do it better. I think that my way is the best way. Instead of first looking to Jesus, I do things my way. What usually happens? Well, it depends. Sometimes things are fine. Sometimes my way is the best way. But other times, my best efforts end up making things worse. 

What I want you to learn in life, Zo, is that asking for help is sometimes very hard. Asking for help means that you've decided that you aren't going to try to do it on your own. This asking is sometimes the bravest thing that you can do. And if someone ever asks you for help, I want you to learn to be gracious and give it to them. Don't make them ask twice. Be gracious as Jesus is gracious to us, all the time. I want you to learn that Jesus is the source of all our help.

I'm so thankful for moments like the one I had earlier today with you, when it seemed that the world stopped and everything was in focus. I looked at you and I knew that everything was going to be okay. You, me, your Daddy, Beebee Acka...we'll all be okay. More than okay--wonderful. We will be wonderful and we will learn together and we will ask for help.

Love you forever. 


We've turned twooooooooo.

Our darling girl, Miss Zoe Caroline, is now "Twooooo."

Dear Zo-zo,

Happy 2nd birthday! Two months late is this letter of remembrances, but our lives are crazy right now. You don't mind, do you?

Let's start with a list of things you currently love:

Pooh-ba (Pooh-bear, of course.)

Ruh-ruh (Clifford the Big Red Dog. Your favorite episode is on a video Gigi got you for your birthday. It features this little dauschaund named Bob, who doesn't obey and gets in lots of trouble. You ask to watch the video by saying, "Ruh-ruh? Ruh-ruh? Bob! Bob. Bob? Yep.")

Spinning and singing and dancing. You especially love Ring Around the Rosies right now, because you get to fall down at the end. This is hilarious to you, and you'll spin and fall as many times as I will sing the song.

Saying all the names of the people you love, in a sort of song you made up. 
"Gigi, Nana, Opa, Dada, Mama, Ahka...Gigi, Nana, Opa, Dada, Mama, Ahka, Puppy..." Grandaddy's name currently has too many syllables, but when I add it to the list, you smile and say, "Yep!"

Beebee Ahka. This is what you call your baby brother, Eric. When you wake up, you ask for Dada, and then for Beebee Ahka. Sometimes you really get going saying his name very very fast, BeebeeAhkaBeebeeAhkaBEEBEEAHKA and then it morphs into BeeAhkaBeeAhkaBeeAhka. You love your brother so much and are such a good helper with him.

Painting, drawing with chalk, drawing with crayons, coloring with markers, anything that has to do with art. You love to create and when you get done, you point at your picture and say, wide-eyed, "WOW!" I love that your sense of wonder is so big and so evident. You also sometimes color on things that are NOT paper. I asked you yesterday, rhetorically (you don't know yet that sometimes I ask questions that I already know the answer to), why you color on the wall or the floor. You looked at me, looked at the wall, spread your hands out and said, "Hmmm...."

Hide-and-seek. You love the actual game played with Daddy, and you also love your version of it, where you hide objects like a sock or a spoon or your baby doll and then want me to find them. You always try to trick me. So if I ask, "Oh, where's the sock?" You point to the light in the ceiling or to the bathtub, trying to get me to look there instead of under the blanket. I love how your imagination is developing.

Reading. You love, love, love to read. I'm so very thankful you do. I want you to learn how the world opens up to you when you read. I want you to feel that simple joy of getting lost in a book, of reading into the wee hours because you can't go to sleep until you finish the story. (And I will try my hardest to remember this when I'm telling you to go to bed and you want to read just a little longer.)

The list of things you don't love is very short...raw tomatoes, flip-flops, getting your picture taken when everyone is looking at you, and lately, shirts that are not the color blue. Otherwise, you love to try new things!

Some of your firsts this year:

Your first sentence (phrase) was Daddy, Go! We were in the car, and apparently Daddy wasn't getting to wherever we were going fast enough, so you started telling him Daddy, go! You also love to say Mommy, No! So, Daddy go and Mommy no...I see how it is.

Your first joke was when we were in the car, waiting for the light to turn green. We were telling you that red means stop and green means go. When the light turned green, you said, "GOOOOO!" We laughed at your excitement, but then you started saying, "Ruh-ruh, GOOOO! Heeheeheehee." We corrected you, saying, No, red means stop. You looked right at us, shook your head, said it again, and laughed loudly. It took us a few times, but we finally realized you were making a joke!

Oh, Zo, darling girl. You mean the world to us. You have weathered the transition from only child to oldest child so well. You have such curiosity and a depth of understanding that is beyond you. I sometimes look at you, realizing how much you understand, and I am floored. We are just so thankful to God for you. Happy 2nd birthday!

Love you forever. xo

You & Daddy blowing out your candles.

Your new art easel!

The family


A welcome letter to Baby Eric

Dearest Eric Robert,

You're three weeks old.


I knew I needed to put down your birth story, otherwise it will fade in my memory like your sister Zoë's already has.

You were due on Saturday, January 12th. You were born on Friday, January 11th. My doctor told me that I'm one of those lucky women who delivers fully-cooked babies. Yay for me. But both you and your sister were beautiful and healthy. So that's what matters.

I had decided that Friday the 11th was going to be my last day at work. I was quite ready for you to come and to not be on my feet anymore. I had a doctor's appointment that morning and was told that you could come any time, or that you might wait a while.  I went to school and taught the afternoon, then stayed a little while cleaning up my desk and organizing some papers. I'd had my substitute folder complete and ready to go since we'd returned from Christmas break, just in case.

Your grandparents on my side, Gigi and Grandaddy, had said they would come get your sister and take her for the weekend. I think Gigi had an inkling that you were going to come soon. They came and picked up Zoë around 6. Your Daddy and I decided to live it up and go out to eat and see a movie. We thought we should take advantage of being sans kiddos one last time. On our way to dinner, we stopped by the Warren Theatre and bought tickets to the 8 o'clock IMAX showing of The Hobbit. We headed to Pei Wei, one of Mommy's favorite places to eat.

During dinner, I started having a few contractions. I'd had Braxton-Hicks contractions for months with both Zoë and you, and usually they stopped. While these felt a little stronger, a little different from those, I still didn't think you were coming yet. We left for the theatre at 7:50. We pulled into the parking lot and I was feeling very unsure if we should go watch the movie or not. We decided since we already had the tickets, we would try it but sit on the aisle in case we needed to leave. We got out of the car and I had a very strong contraction that stopped me in my tracks. Back into the car I went. Your Daddy dashed back into the theatre and got a refund for our tickets. He wondered if we should just go to the hospital and he would go back home later for my hospital bag. I said no, let's go home first, maybe my contractions will stop. But they didn't and were getting stronger and closer together.

We made it home and were only there for 10 minutes or so before I was having to stop and do breathing exercises through the contractions. Your Daddy zipped into high gear and rushed around the house getting the last few things we needed. We got into the car and headed to the Birth Care Center with my contractions about a minute apart. We checked in at the desk and I kept having to lean on your Daddy as I was trying to sign my name to all the paperwork. We got to our hospital room around 8:55.

Everything went incredibly fast and before I knew it, they were telling me I could push if I wanted to. I couldn't believe that you were about to come. I looked at your Daddy and asked, Are they really telling me to push? I remember the delivery nurse telling me that I was doing a great job and was about to have a baby. I was so confused because we had just gotten to the hospital. What do you mean I'm about to have a baby? Do you know what you're saying? I just got here! Your Daddy was helping me breathe and count and the doctor broke my water, I pushed...

And you came into our world at 9:38 p.m.
8 lbs, 5 oz, 20 1/4 inches long. A head of black hair and a healthy cry.
Long fingers and what your Daddy affectionately calls your monkey feet. Long feet and toes like fingers, just like him.

And we loved you completely.

Welcome to our family, Eric.

Love you forever,


Christmas Joys

Where cousins go to become friends...Lyle is happy as always...
Comparison from last Christmas


We are at 39 weeks, 2 days. Waiting for baby boy to come...

We have a list of names but not a favorite picked out. Not officially. With Zoë, we had narrowed it down to two (I think). We discussed this over the weekend and neither of us could remember our 2nd choice for her. It's amazing what you forget that once seemed very important.

I'm a bit concerned that we haven't yet chosen his name. I suppose it's mostly the part of me that likes to have everything all figured out and organized. I'd like to go to the hospital knowing. And it's not that we don't have ideas...we just haven't chosen. Two days ago Nathaniel threw out another name that hadn't been on our (ok, my) list. He really likes it. I'm processing it. 

For some reason, choosing a boy name has been so much harder for us than it was choosing a girl name. I think it's because the boy will become a man, so the name we choose needs to be able to stand that transition. It's also because having a name that has a good meaning is important to both Nathaniel and I. And after the choice that we made with Zoë being so true (Zoë meaning "life" and Caroline meaning "strength"), we joke that this child's name really should mean something like "peaceful" or "calm".  We had to throw out a name that we both really liked because its meaning was "wolf-lover." We weren't sure how to make that Biblical. Wolf-lover...ok, spiritually that could mean one who...um, a wolf in sheep's clothing, uh...yeah, no.

I was so thankful that Nathaniel and I both had time off over Christmas. We got so many things finished on our to-do list. I think we're as ready as we can be. The bassinet is set up, baby clothes are washed and folded, Zoë's clothes and baby's clothes are now living in their new-to-us dresser, my hospital bag is packed, lesson plans are written...  

I keep telling people when they ask if I'm anxious about having baby #2 that I've been holding onto those beautiful verses in Psalm 139 that talk about how my baby's days have all been ordained before one of them came to be, that each baby is fearfully and wonderfully made. Now I just need to relax and enjoy the calm before the storm, knowing that, as my mom says, everything will work out in the fullness of time. She reminded me tonight that even Christ was born in the fullness of time. My baby's birthday has been preordained; I just need to wait for it to be revealed. What a promise. What a comfort.

Come when you're ready, little guy. Can't wait to meet you.