Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas



But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending your Son.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa?


This past Tuesday there was a "holiday" celebration at work. Holiday? Give me a break, it was for C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S! I know because Santa was there and, as far as I know, Santa isn't part of any other holiday. We (Sean was there too) were strongly encouraged to sit on Santa's lap for a picture. "Come on, the kids will love it" we were told. When I explained that Santa isn't part of Christmas at our house, the encouragement came to an end and all was well and good.

Until we walked by Santa...

He looked at me (not Sean, just me) and patted his knee (that should have been my first clue that something wasn't quite right).

Smiling, I told him, "We don't do Santa."

"Are ya Jewish?" was his crass response.

"No," I sweetly told him, " We choose to focus on Christ at Christmas."

Defensively he said, "Well, I go to church sometimes. Our Lady on the Lake. I'll be there Christmas eve. You should come."

"Our what?" I asked for clarification.

Then, speaking slowly in a wonderfully condescending tone he enunciated, "Our...Lady...on...the...Lake. Are you Catholic?"

"No," I said, "we're not Catholic."

Horrified, he said, "You're not Lutheran are you?"

"No. Not Lutheran either."

Not having any other guesses for what "religion" we actually are, he let it go. I wished him Merry Christmas and went on my way so grateful that Santa wasn't coming to our house on Christmas eve.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Story of a Boy and His Candy Cane

Sunday mornings have changed significantly for Jack this year. Instead of spending two plus hours in the nursery, he now delights in an hour of Sunday School, twenty minutes of worship time with his parents and another half hour of Children's Church. Needless to say, the worship time with mom and dad is NOT his favorite part of the morning (we're working on that) and he's always anxious to get to Children's Church. Before we let him go, however, we require him to stay for the children's sermon. All the children go to the front of the sanctuary to listen to the pastor give a short lesson related to the topic that week. This past Sunday, our pastor told the kids he had a gift for them but they would need to reach into his heart to get it. In an attempt to clarify his meaning (perhaps there were twenty little horrified faces staring back at him) he reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out..."A CANDY CANE," someone yelled. Then another little boy (I won't name any names, but said boy may or may not have previously appeared on this blog) piped up with, "I already have a candy cane so I don't need one." And yet another boy (this one truly anonymous) chimed in with, "I'll take two."

If I happened to be the parent of the little boy who "already had one," I might be inclined to trick myself into thinking the contentedness of one candy cane for the boy was a result of a wonderful upbringing (thus far) on the part of the parents. However, given that I may or may not be the parent of that boy, I might also know that this incident was actually a result of the boy just beginning to understand the traditions of Christmas and not realizing that multiple candy canes are often made available to children. In fact, I may or may not know that the same boy often wants to give his toys away so that he can have new and slightly different versions of the same toys. Still, if I was the parent of the boy, I would probably have felt proud of the generous spirit he demonstrated and might have shown him a little too much affection because of it. The boy may or may not have been embarrassed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is that kind of like a Liger?

I can't believe I just used a Napoleon Dynamite reference because I thought that movie was the dumbest thing on Earth, but hopefully as you read the story below you'll see how it fits...hopefully.

In lieu of an Advent calendar this year, we are going through an Advent book with Jack. The book is kind of like the I Spy books and each day's devotion has us hunting for a related item in a busy picture. After we find the specified item, we spend some time looking at all the other things in the picture as well. Last night's picture included a stack of alphabet blocks displaying the letters F, U and N. Jack rattled off the names of the letters like a pro, even correcting himself when he slipped up on the F. Then we moved on to the sounds that each of the letters make and tried to put them together to read the word.

So I asked, "What sound does F make?"

"Fffff," Jack replied.

"What sound does U make?" I continued.

Jack replied with, "Aaahhh."

"Uh," I corrected.

"Uh," Jack confirmed.

We continued the quiz with a "What sound does N make?" question and an "nnnnnnnn" response.

"Good," I said, "let's put those sounds together: fffffffff-uh-nnnnnnn."

Jack mimicked with, "fffffff....uh....nnnnnnn."

And then together, "ffffffff-uh-nnnnnnn."

"Dolphin?," Jack asked.

"No, ffffffff-uh-nnnnnnn," was my reply.

With full confidence this time, Jack replied, "Dolphin."

"No, listen to the sounds: fffffffff-uh-nnnnnnnn," I corrected.

With exasperation in his voice, Jack replied "Dolphin!"

With a little exasperation of my own I told him, "Jack, the first sound is ffffffff, not duh."

After a brief moment of contemplation, Jack, not quite so sure this time, replied, "Folphin?"

After Sean and I composed* ourselves, Jack and I went round a couple more times until he finally discovered that the word was "fun."

After I had finished tucking Jack into bed, Sean wondered what kind of animal a "folphin" might be (and now, hopefully, you see why the Napoleon Dynamite reference is fitting).

*I fully understand that all parents think their own children's antics are hilarious and I am no exception, so when I say this it is with full knowledge that I have laughed at many many things that may or may not have been funny that Jack has said or done over the last four years: I think this was the hardest I've laughed at something he's said.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The First of Many

Last night we had the pleasure of attending the first of many of our children's Christmas programs. Jack was the only lucky one that got to participate, but two years from now both boys will be up there and Elise will follow the year after that.


Some kids really got into the performance. Jack? Not so much.
There was one song he didn't sing at all!


Wes was going to be sure he didn't miss any of Jack's
performance (yep - those are binoculars he's holding up).

After attending only one of these programs, I now understand that children's Christmas programs are really only for the parents and grandparents. Of course I thought it was fantastic, but I'm not so naive to believe that a non-related party would have enjoyed much more than the few moments of comic relief. You know, those inevitable mishaps that end up being the highlight of the show. Things like:

One of the main characters telling the audience that the whole evening could be summed up in one verse: John 3:16 and 17 (um...I thought he said one?)

Or when that same character tells us that "God so loved the world that He gave His only forgotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Or perhaps Joseph's (you know someone has to be dressed like Joseph) headress comes down so low over his eyes that he has to tilt his head way back to peak out from below.

Things like that...

Perhaps my favoite element of the evening, however, was the book of letters that was sent home with all the parents that the students had written to the "characters" in the Christmas story. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Dear Mary,
Were you happy when you had Jesus? Are you happy now? I am happy now.

Dear Jesus,
Was it cold when you were born? I'm glad you came. I am happy your name is Jesus.

Dear Angel,
Do you like to fly?

Dear Jesus,
I hope you are having a fun time in heaven. Was it cool in the manger?

Dear Jesus,
Is it itchy sleeping in hay?

Dear Jesus,
Were you born on Christmas? Where do you live? Are you a human? Do you have teeth? Is there gravity where you live?
P.S. I live on Earth.

Dear Joseph,
Was it scary with a pregnant wife?

Dear Wise Men,
Do you have an X-Box 360?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Lesson in the Classics

Before you read the rest of this post, if you don't know who Caillou is, familiarize yourself with him here.

On Thursday, the following conversation took place:

Jack: Mommy, can we watch the Caillou movie with that Snoopy dog?
Mommy: What movie?
Jack: Caillou
Mommy: Who?
Jack: CAILLOU!
Mommy: Have we watched it before?
Jack: Yes. With Nanna and Papa and you and me and Daddy.
Mommy: Was it the other night? On the computer?
Jack: Yes
Mommy: Jack, that wasn't Caillou. That was Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh, Those Contractions

Sean was looking at apps for his soon-to-be new phone and the following conversation took place:

Sean: Huh. Contraction timer.
Me: What?
Sean: Contraction timer. You know, to time contractions.
Me: blank stare as I try to process the purpose of this

With as many times in the last three years that we've timed contractions, you'd think I'd catch on quickly here. Sadly, this was not the case. As I continued to think about the usefulness of this application I wondered if the purpose was to determine the amount of time saved by saying "can't" instead of can not or "don't" instead of "do not." You know, contractions.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jack-A-Roo, Happy Birthday to You

Where or where have the last four years gone? I remember vividly the day we found out Jack would be joining our family. I made Sean double check the pregnancy test to ensure my hopeful heart wasn't playing tricks on my eyes. Once confirmed, the day went on as normal. What else could we do?

And I remember the long-anticipated day that Jack entered the world four years ago.



In that time Jack has grown from a happy, inquisitive baby into a smart, tender-hearted, silly little boy who loves to read books, play construction, build fire stations with legos and show us how independent he is.



He's a wonderful big brother to his little brother and sister, providing a great example for them to look up to.



He's creative and funny. He's immensely patient and ever forgiving as we stumble through this adventure called parenting.



He is an incredible blessing and we're ever so happy, grateful and humbled that God entrusted him to us. Happy birthday, Jack. We love you very much.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Doo"-Year-Old-Logic

The magna doodle is a popular (read "often fought over") toy in our house. A few days ago Wesley was drawing on it and toddled into the kitchen saying, "bee, bee." I commended his bee and asked if it was the letter "bee" or the bug. He looked at me intently for 10 seconds (a lifetime to a 2-year-old) and said, "bee." So...which was it? I don't know, but he was proud of his "bee" and that's all the really matters.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stopping by? Put on your sun goggles...

(and by sun goggles I mean those tiny plastic eye covers you're required to wear in a tanning bed so you don't burn your eyes out) because you're going to need to protect your retinas if you drive by at night.

To aleviate any confusion, this is NOT our house. That might actually be bearable...embarrassing, but bearable. No, the picture below is of the seizure-inducing house across the street from us that we see each and every time we dare look out our front window or door. We noticed the owners last weekend putting Christmas lights on their newly planted maple (the same one 12 - no I'm not exaggerating - other houses got one day in October; gotta love new construction) and thought it would look great since they spent so much time on it. Now we know why it took so long. They wrapped every single teeny tiny branch in those electric blue lights. You know, the ones that are impossible to focus on. Unfortunatley (or maybe it's not so unfortunate) the picture doesn't do it justice. If you're really curious you can drive by (make sure you stop to say "hello" since you're in the neighborhood and all), but don't say I didn't warn you.



Monday, November 30, 2009

Just A Few

Last week Wes wanted a snack and, since it was shortly before we were going to have dinner (and because his snack of choice - goldfish - makes his eyes itchy), I told him he could have just a few. I trusted that he would just take a few from the bag so I continued my dinner prep. Thirty seconds later Jack piped up with "Mommy, Wesley took too many." I looked up to see the entire bag of goldfish dumped onto the table.










Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today this song is running through my head:


Give thanks to the Lord
For He is good
His love endures forever


And how thankful I am that He is good and that His love endures forever. This year I am most thankful for the wonderful, merciful Savior (another song to get stuck in your head - you can thank me later) that continues to mold me into the person He wants me to be. I am thankful for His forgiveness as I struggle in my attempt to follow Him.

I am also thankful for digital cameras and Picasa (though I would really like to learn how to use the beta version of Lightroom 3 I got and have only looked at once) because with three children it's highly unlikely that I would have any photos to post if I couldn't take ten for every one I put up and further edit it. I point your attention to the series of photos below so you can see exactly what I'm talking about:


A little to your left...



Oops- too far. A little to your right...



At least they're saying "cheese"



Where are you going Elise?

And just because I think she's so darn cute...



Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fort Smelly



On what we thought was going to be the last nice Saturday of the year, we ventured to one of the oldest historic sites in the great state of Minnesota: Fort Snelling. For a girl who was born and raised in Minneapolis you'd think that I would have visited at least once before. But, alas, this was the first trip to historic Fort Snelling for everyone in our family but Sean.

We watched the morning "parade" (in quotes because the parade consisted of 5 people - not exactly the marching-band-performing, float-rider-waving, candy-throwing event I expected) and followed the soldiers to the flagpole where we watched them raise the flag (it was at half staff in honor of the Minnesota soldiers that were lost in Iraq).


We climbed up the oldest structure in the fort to get a better view of the whole fort and take advantage of the photo opp. Unfortunately, the boys are hidden in the shadows in this shot.




Not that they minded - based on the looks in this photo, I'm pretty sure they would have preferred to be hiding anywhere instead of enduring their mother's extended photo session atop the tower.




Um...I don't remember what this is, but it's really old and part of Fort Snelling.




Inside one of the towers, there were these little windows where the soldiers would lay with their guns pointed out. The opening was wide on the inside of the tower and narrowed as it got to the outside to reduce the target size for their enemies.



The whole fort was kind of like a city with all the things a community would need - including a prison for deserters (which Jack thought was pretty cool given that it played right into his fireman/policeman aspirations).



Sean tried out the jail cell (and it absolutely was not even remotely possible that he did it because I forced asked him to).



We visited some of the shops - this was the carpenter's shop. Cool wheel, huh? When the fort was being used, all of the wooden items would have been made and/or repaired right on site.




Our next stop was the blacksmith shop. It was nice to find a building with a fire going (remember how I said it was a nice Saturday? well, it was warmer a lot later in the day than when we were out).



We were lucky enough to be there when the blacksmith was giving a demonstration. He hammered a nail out of a piece of steel. The blacksmith shop was conveniently located right next to the carpenter's shop. How many woodworker's out there dream of having a hardware store right next to their shop? Those Fort Snelling guys were clever.



What's an outdoor adventure without a little wildlife? This little chipmunk ran between our feet upon exiting one of the shops and hung out looking for food as Wes pointed and giggled with delight.

After some lunch and a short visit to the gift shop our adventure came to an end. Not before we secured a membership to the MN Historical Society, however. Fun and adventure abound I'm sure. (Okay, okay - it sounds way geekier than it actually is. There are several fun family-friendly exhibits and events that our membership will allow us to take advantage of for way less than it would normally cost).

I bet you're thinking "What's with the title? Was the fort stinky?" Oh no, no, no - nothing like that. It's just that, if you ask Jack about our excursion a few weeks ago he'll tell you we spent the morning at Fort Smelly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I Learned Today

  1. I think some of the naughty things my children do are funny even though I shouldn't
  2. Boys cannot be trusted in the bathroom
  3. Bath toys float in bath tubs and toilets (okay I didn't actually learn this today, but I'm sure that is what my recently-turned-two-year-old learned)
  4. An effective potty seat costs more than $10
  5. The inventor of pull-ups was on to something
  6. I need a lot more patience to make it through the potty training of another boy
  7. Poop comes in all different shapes and numbers. You know, like octagon and... (or so says our almsot-four-year-old after examining his sister's diaper. For any therapists who read this blog, please keep me in the dark about the underlying issues that manifest themselves in poop obsessions...ignorance is bliss).
  8. And just now I learned that so much of my day revolves around waste that, apparently, I think it's a good subject for a blog post

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Simply Divine


Disclaimer: This post will have adorable pictures of a precious baby interspersed throughout to distract you from the utter horror (but ultimate glory) of the actual subject.

Last Thursday we experienced a first in the Starkey house - a visit to the ER. And it wasn't one of the boys as you might expect.

Elise was playing in our pantry and when I decided she needed a new activity, I picked her up by her hands and plopped her down in front of another toy. She screamed. I thought she was just mad (and over tired since she'd slept a total of 45 minutes that day). When she didn't calm down I picked her up and from that moment I was unable to put her down without her screaming. Or, really I should say, without her screaming louder than she was when I was holding her. I still thought she was just tired so I fed her and decided to put her to bed early. While I was putting her pajamas on I checked her arms and decided that something was wrong so I zippered her up and called the pediatrician. Turns out they don't see injuries after hours so I had to take her to urgent care. The closest urgent care is in the local hospital and the admittance process has all urgent care patients triaged in the ER. The ER nurse decided we needed to stay there because she thought Elise had "nursemaid's elbow" (her elbow came out of the socket). How could she tell? She waved all kinds of cool (well, cool to a baby) things in front of Elise and she would only reach for it with one arm.



The doctor came in to examine her and perform "the procedure" to get her elbow back in place. He explained to me that, as children are growing, the ligament that holds the elbow in the socket is positioned in such a way that it allows the elbow to easily slip out. After the explanation, he moved her arm around a few times while we both cried (she was louder than I was) and told us he'd be back to check on her in a few minutes. Ten minutes later he came back and she wouldn't grab for anything we offered her. So he performed the procedure again (this time she was the only one that cried). Another ten minutes later she still wouldn't move her arm. He tried a third time and told me that if this didn't work we would do an x-ray and possibly one of his colleagues would try. Again, he came back in ten minutes to check on her. She had fallen asleep by then, but I tried to get her to grab different things before she fell asleep and she wouldn't. Once she was asleep I was moving her arms and she would cry whenever I touched her hurt arm.



So it was off to x-ray for us. Before we left, I prayed. I asked God, the One who created her, to heal her. Now I have full faith that God is with me in crisis.And once I'm through it, I look back and give Him praise for giving me the strength to endure, but I have a hard time letting go and actually asking for His help in the moment.



Elise woke up during the x-ray and the cat nap was enough to put her in better spirits. When the lady from administration came back with my credit card after running it to pay the copay, Elise reached right for it with her bad arm. As funny as it would be to credit (no pun intended) the success to the "bait" used to motivate her, I am 100% convinced that God healed her. When we went to x-ray she wasn't moving her arm and when we came back she was fixed...no doctor had touched her.



Elise has slowly been getting her strength back in that arm and is starting to bear weight on it again. The doctor said she'd be fine in a few days and that there wouldn't be any lasting effects other than she'll be a little more susceptible to this happening again until the joint is fully developed, around age 6.

What did I learn? First, that you can't dangle a 25 lb 10-month-old from her arms, even for just a second, because the joints aren't strong enough. Okay, I didn't really just learn this. I knew all along, but apparently had a brain lapse that ended in disaster for my baby. Second, God wants us to ask for His help. Okay, I didn't really just learn that either, but it was a good reminder. I'm just sorry my baby had to be involved for her thick-headed mother to get the message.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dinah, Blow Your Horn

The Jackson Street Roundhouse is an often-noted "destination of fun and utter excitement" around our house. After a couple visits Jack convinced Grandma and Grandpa to go on a real train ride on one of the associated railways in Wisconsin. So one unseasonably cold Saturday morning we packed up the kids and headed to Osceola for a one-and-a-half hour train ride along the St. Croix.





 

The rail cars were not heated so we had to stay bundled up.




Lunch for the kids was a good way to pass the time.




Because as beautiful as it was, one-and-a-half hours on
a train is a long time for two little boys to sit on a train.




Daddy and the boys had to check out some of the other
rail cars and engines when we got back to the station.


 

Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for a fun morning on the train.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to our sweet 2-year-old, Wesley!


His mellow temperament and go-with-the-flow attitude are a perfect blessing to our family. He is tender-hearted and has a special soft spot for his baby sister on whom he is tirelessly doting. He loves his big brother and can't be enough like him. If Jack does it, so does Wesley.




His sweet smile brings joy to our hearts and brightens our day. His silly "na-na" jokes (read knock-knock jokes) liven up the conversation during dinner. His giggles turn around any bad day.




He loves trains, legos, "Mike Wazowski's New Car," showing us his highest jump (right after Jack shows us his) and reading books. He's our comic relief. He is an ever-forgivng, always-wanting-to-play little brother. He is a wonderful gift from God.




And he's 2. Just ask him.

video


Disclaimer: He refused to look at the camera and insisted instead on sitting as close to me as possible while waiting for his turn with the camera so he could take pictures of Elise. Remember how I mentioned doting?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Almost-Four-Year-Old Wisdom

We made mac-n-cheese for lunch today. The boys wanted to see and Elise was crabby, which means one arm was busy holding her. I picked up Wesley to take a look at the non-boiling water in the pot which, for some reason, is enthralling to an almost-two-year-old. While he was taking his turn Jack decided that he needed to have a look right then as well. I told him I couldn't pick him up because I only had two hands and they were full with two babies - he would need to wait his turn. To which he replied, "An octopus could lift us all up." And from that moment on I wished I was an octopus...or at least that I had 6 more arms.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Visits?

A few months ago I added a counter at the bottom of this blog. I'm sure everyone noticed right away since it happens to be one of the most exciting pieces of information you can find here. What's that? You don't think it's the most interesting thing? Or at all interesting? Huh?

Well neither did I until one day the count went from a few hundred to over 12,000. For a fleeting moment I had delusions of great blogosphere popularity. Then I figured it was just a fluke so I started tracking it. Sure enough, my counter has ever so slowly gone from 12-thousand-something to 12-thousand-something-only-slightly-bigger over the last couple months. So much for my blog fame.

But it did get me thinking: Who visits us? As far as I know, there is no good (read "free") way to tell who visits a page, just how many hits it gets. So, if you would, leave a little note and let me know you're reading. It needn't be a dissertation (I don't have time to read all that). You could even just leave your name. Now a person interested in blog stardom might have something fun to offer. But me? I have no fancy prizes to give away. I'm just curious.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Day Has Come

From the moment we found out we would be adding a daughter to our family, I imagined with delight the day I could put pigtails in her hair. I reminisced about the day after day after day that I marched out the door to kindergarten with pigtails adorning my own little blond head (sometimes straight, sometimes not) and hoped that, someday, my own daughter would do the same. So imagine my excited anticipation when I thought today might be a good day to try pigtails and further imagine my exuberance when it actually worked!

So presented to you below is our little pigtailed baby girl!





Bring on the barrettes, baubles and bows because there's no stopping now!