Sunday, December 30, 2007

Life with Lana today (1 year, 5 months)

This must be my favorite age yet, although I think I say that every stage she's in.  Here are some of my favorite things she's done lately:
  • She'll spontaneously say "Kiss!" or "Hug!" and she wants to kiss or hug both of us.  If I'm closer, she'll kiss me, and the immediately say, "Daddy?" and reach to kiss or hug him.
  • She shares really well, and is quick to give a toy to a friend and say "Ur turn!" to let them know it's their turn.  We're having a bit of difficulty encouraging her to share her toys, while at the same time discouraging her sharing her sippy cup.
  • Dan calls every night from work, and he always talks to her.  I give her the phone and she says, "Hi Daddy!" really loudly.  It's so sweet.  Sometimes he tells her to give Mommy a kiss for him, and she'll smile at me and give me a kiss.  So sweet! 
  • When we go to the library, she immediately runs to the children's section where there is a big shelf of board books she likes to read.
  • Every morning she wants to get in bed with us and read books....lots of them.  Nothing could make me happier, although it gets a bit hairy when she doesn't wake up until 8:00 and we have to leave at 8:30.
  • She's learned how to throw pennies in the fountain, and a dollar's worth of pennies makes her a super happy girl.
  • Her vocabulary amazes us favorite word she's saying now is "product," for the curling mousse we put in her hair.  She's also saying, "sorry," "yougurt," "hold it," "your turn," "groceries," and she'll repeat anything you say to her.  Even "darn," if you say it while you're playing the Wii.
  • Ketchup, or "dip!" accompanies most of her meals now.  She loves chicken dipped in ketchup!  She's been on a huge meat kick lately; it must be what her body is craving to grow.
  • Speaking of food, she's getting better everyday with a spoon and fork.  She makes less and less of a mess all the time, and when she has to work hard to get a bite in her mouth and finally does, she beams and says, "I did it!"
  • She's developing definite preferences - when she wakes up in the morning, she tells us if she wants milk or water, and it's not random.  If we try to give her milk with breakfast when she's asked for water, she hands it right back to us.
  • Miss Sassy Pants has started trying to tell us "No!" when we tell her to do something, especially if we're walking outside and tell her to come back to us.  She has been testing us, saying "No," and running the other direction.  Therefore, she's learned lots about spankings lately.
  • Her attention span is getting longer.  While we were getting ready the other day, she sat in her room and played with puzzles by herself for nearly 20 minutes without changing activities.  She was having a difficult time with one piece, but she kept at it until she finally got it in.
Here are some of my favorite December pictures - you can click on any one to make it larger:

Dear Allana,

Tonight was one of my favorite nights with you, and I want to write about it so we'll remember it.

Daddy is at work tonight, so it's just you and me here.

We had a good time eating pancakes for dinner and washing dishes and playing.  But the best part was after all that was through.  We went upstairs and you took a bath and you were so very good.  I love shampooing and conditioning your much longer do you think I'll get to do that?  I don't ever want you to be old enough to wash your hair by yourself.

And after you were done playing in the tub, I dried you off and we put on your lotion (you like to do your legs while I do your belly), and we read books together.  I sat in the big rocker and read my book and you sat in your little rocker and read your book.  It was so quiet and peaceful.

But then you got up and went into my bedroom with your book and said, "Bed?"  You never do that.  So I came in and pulled back the covers and propped up some pillows and we climbed in with our books.  I read mine and you read yours, and every once in a while you would look at me and giggle.  We read for a long time, and then we put down our books and you kissed me!!  You're not a big kisser, but you gave me so many kisses tonight.  I told you they were sweet as sugar, and then you said "shugr" and puckered up and made a kissing sound until I kissed you again!  We laid our heads on the pillows and laughed and made kissing sounds and rubbed noses and I laughed so hard at you when you said, "hilarious." 

We laid in there being silly and sweet together for almost 45 minutes.  You're a toddler.  You don't lay in one place for 5 minutes unless you're sleeping!  It was such a sweet time, and I want to remember it forever.  You're growing up so quickly, sweet girl.  Slow down a little for me, okay?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What to do with Santa?

Beginning before Allana was conceived, we began talking and praying about what we would do about Santa.  We knew we wanted Jesus to be the focus of our holiday season, but let's be honest, we want her to experience the magic of Christmas.  We were both raised in homes that "did Santa," and it caused no crisis of faith in either of our lives.

However, I (Rachael) had an experience while I was teaching that really challenged me to be careful about the jolly old man.  Each year, my students composed letters to Santa as a writing exercise in December.  I love all my students, but one particular year I had one particular student who captured my heart.  He had a really rocky home life, and I wanted to keep him for my own.  Every morning, I prayed over this child's chair before he came into the classroom.  I shared Jesus with him whenever possible.  My heart desperately longed for this child to know my Savior.  That December, he finished writing his letter to Santa, and brought it to my desk to read to me.  Part of it will forever be embedded in my memory.  It said,
Dear Santa,
I have been a good boy this year.  I want......... for Christmas.  Santa, you are so cool.  You know when I'm good and when I'm bad.  You see me all the time and know everything I do.  You know what, Santa?  You are just like Jesus!"

NO!  Santa is nothing like Jesus.  Santa is fiction, and Jesus is REAL - He is the Word made flesh, come to earth to redeem us.  But how easy it is for children to get these two benevolent stories confused.  I have never forgotten that letter and how Satan used the story of Santa to confuse and disguise the Truth.

So we have prayed and read and talked (to each other and others) and wrestled, and came upon this Christmas season still not knowing exactly what we feel like is the right thing to do.  She's still young enough that we didn't have to be specific with her about Santa, but we couldn't avoid him.  We took her to see him briefly, and have spent hours playing with our Nativity, talking about Jesus' birthday. 

Christmas was full of love and laughter and family and gifts and prayer.  It was beautiful and amazing and as we opened gifts, we didn't speak about Santa for one minute.

We can't escape the jolly old man, and the story about Saint Nick is one worth telling.  We don't mind her sitting on his lap and getting a candy cane and smiling and waving at him in the mall.  But there's a greater Story to be told, and we know that for our family, our focus must be the one who gave the greatest Gift of all.

As we conclude this Christmas season, we think that we have figured out the solution for our family.  We're not going to demonize Santa, but we are going to exalt our King.  We're not going to spend one minute fussing about those who "do Santa," but we are going to spend every moment possible celebrating the birth of a Savior.  So the question, for us, isn't what to do with Santa.  Who really cares?  It's trivial compared to dedicating our lives to showing our daughter and the rest of the world what to do with Jesus.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My cup overflows.

On Thursday, I got to slip away for a while and have lunch with some of my favorite friends in the world.  Having a meal with them is always one of the highlights of my trip is so refreshing to me; I love that we can always pick right up where we left off, even if we haven't talked in weeks or months.  I know these women genuinely care for me and pray for me and support me - what a gift they are in my life.

Well, as we show up at the restaurant, my friend Debbie Carnley hands me a package.  Now, it's not customary for this group of friends to exchange gifts, so it kind of panicked me a little at first.  Then she explains that it's from her husband Tony.  Now, if you don't know 
Tony, let me tell you that he is one of the sweetest, funniest men I know.  He looks all rough and tough and he's got the most tender insides you can imagine.  Tony & Debbie are two of the most wonderful, loving people you can know.  They have raised two sons unbelievably well; we have much to learn from them. 

So, I open up the package from Tony to find a gorgeous painting of Allana.  He painted it from the picture on our Christmas card, and captured her right down to her rosy lips & soft curls.  It took my breath away & made me cry.  It was an amazing gift; something I can never repay nor reciprocate. 

Everyone in the family freaks out about this painting - we just can't get over how beautiful it is and what a treasure it is for Dan & I.

My wheels immediately start turning on how we are going to get it framed.  Custom framing is so expensive....we're on a tight my head, I'm trying to figure out what we own that I can sell when we get home to pay to have it framed.

Enter Dan's aunt.  Her name is Sharon Robertson, but we call her "Sis."  She's Dan's mom's identical twin sister.  She and her husband have been a huge part of Dan's life, and mean a lot to him.  They come over for dinner that same night, and ooh and ahh over the painting.  She volunteers to run it by a framing shop the next day...she knows someone there (she knows someone everywhere) and thinks she might be able to get us a good deal.  She takes the painting and promises to call us the next day with a quote.

Nothing.  We get nothing from her except that it's way out of our price range, as we expected.  She tells us that she's going to try one more place she knows and then bring it back to us if that doesn't pan out.

Today (Saturday), we all met out at Dan's grandaddy's house for lunch to celebrate Christmas.  I ask her how much the frame shop quoted her; she wouldn't tell me exactly but said it was ridiculous.  We have a wonderful day with 4 generations of the Ruddy family, and as we're all finishing opening gifts, she brings out this big package for the "people who travelled the farthest." 

You guessed it, Dan's aunt and uncle and mom and dad paid to have that gorgeous painting custom framed for us.

It's too die for.  I'm posting a picture of it for you to see, although it doesn't do it justice.
We are so blessed.  Obviously this was a huge financial gift to us, but it was more than that.  It began as a precious gift of love from a dear family friend, and was completed as a gift of love from dear family members.  What could be better than that? 

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Big words!

We're busy this morning getting ready to go to school, and she is talking her head off!  This morning alone, she has said, "ridiculous," "no sir," "hilarious," "dokey (as in okey dokey)," "good job," and "happy feet." 

This child amazes us.  I think we're going to have to watch what we say around her.  Dan better quit telling me I'm being ridiculous.  She hears everything.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wake Forest Christmas Parade 2007

Our little downtown area here in Wake Forest is like Mayberry.  It's quaint and sweet and has several neat little shops and restaurants.  When the weather's nice, one of our favorite things to do is walk around downtown.

Today was the annual Wake Forest Christmas parade, and the quiet streets of downtown were FULL of people!  It was lots of fun, and Lana really enjoyed it.
She looked darling in a dress her Aunt Nik & Uncle Bro bought for her before she was even born, with a precious bow that our friends Ben & Laura sent her for Christmas.  

However, she fell and scraped her knee getting in the car, and it almost ruined our day.  She usually shakes off boo-boos pretty quickly, but this one got the best of her.  It was really quite sad.  She would point to it and cry and say, "Hurt!  Mommy, Daddy, hurt." 

Nonetheless, we headed downtown and got in line at Shorty's.  Shorty's Famous Hotdogs are amazing - really.  Dan eats 3, and Lana and I both eat 2.  When you come visit us, don't let us forget to take you by Shorty's.  The line was super long, but it was definitely worth the wait.

We met our friends Ashley & Nick, and Crystal and her two boys Garrett and Mason for the parade.  We are so grateful to have such sweet friends to make memories with here.  Allana loved the parade!  There was music and dancing and candy and animals.  She waved to everyone and said "Hey!" and even danced a little bit.  The only things she didn't love were the clowns and the loud horns on the firetrucks.  She didn't cry or anything; they just weren't her favorite.  We had to leave a little early so Dan could get to work and Lana could take a nap.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thankful for linoleum

Today, I am grateful for my cheap linoleum floors in my rented house.  I am truly grateful that I don't live in my own investment, with really nice tile floors in my kitchen.
Today, Allana colored with markers.  She loved the blue one in particular, and although she would use a little yellow or green or pink, she preferred blue.  She liked to color big strokes across the page, and then she tried coloring in just the corner.  She tried coloring with more than one marker at a time.  This went on for almost an hour.

Of course, there was marker everywhere!  It was all over her, including the bottoms of her feet.  It was all over me, including the tops of my feet!  And it was all over the floors. 
And when she was done, I wet two paper towels and she and I worked together to wipe up all the marker on the floor.  It came right up.

And I realized as we were down on the floor cleaning together that if those had been really nice tile floors, I would not have let her color with markers today.  I would have been too worried about it staining because that's just how I am, and so she and I would have missed a 
really neat time together.

I love my linoleum.  It made me a better mother today.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We got to spend a whirlwind 2 and a half days in Daphne with our sweet family.

We flew in to New Orleans late Tuesday night, and Dan's parents picked us up from the airport. The first thing we did was stop at McDonald's in Slidell to eat.  Now, my daughter has NEVER eaten at McDonald's, but we were so hungry that it didn't matter.  PawPaw bought her a cheeseburger, and at first she wouldn't eat it!  Well, as soon as Nana convinced her to take a bite, she inhaled that thing.  Yummy!

On Wednesday night, Dan's parents cooked steaks for everyone, and I do mean everyone!  They were so kind to invite all of my side of the family over so that we could spend time with them, too.  It was lots of fun to all be together!

Thursday was, of course, full of food and family and laughter...we have so much to be thankful for!  Again, Dan's parents welcomed my family into their home so that we could all 
be together. 

On our way to the airport Friday, we stopped in Mobile to meet Dan's brother and sister-in-law, and our nephew Jake for lunch.  They were out of town for Thanksgiving, so we literally met between our flights to see each other. 

Over the course of the week, Allana got to spend time with her grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents, and great aunt.  What an amazing family we have!
Allana was so darling...she remembered everyone almost immediately and had a fantastic time with her family!

Here are some of our favorite photos:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our first Toy Chest!

I teach preschool at Little Lambs Learning Center, which is located at Bayleaf Baptist Church.

Every year before Christmas, Bayleaf has an event called "Toy Chest" for seminary students.  Basically, church members donate money to Toy Chest.  Volunteers go shopping and purchase top of the line toys.  Seminary students come and for a very small fee, purchase Christmas gifts for their children.  There is a limit of 3 gifts per child.  

In addition, there is a "Quarter Room" where one can purchase unlimited gently used or toys that went unsold the year before. 

Words can't tell you how wonderful this's the most amazing ministry I've ever seen.  They do this with excellence.  People begin lining up before 5:00 a.m., although we weren't out there quite that early.  It's not like they ask the church to bring in their unwanted toys to give to the poor seminary students.  Instead, they donate money so seminary students can give their children the best of the best. And they do it with the most wonderful attitude.  They don't give you the impression that they feel like they are doing some wonderful thing; they are genuinely excited for us.  I wept as I went into the Family Life Center this morning and church volunteers lined the halls cheering us on as we went in..."Merry Christmas!"  "Have fun!" 

We got ALL of Allana's Christmas gifts this morning, and boy, is it going to be a fun Christmas at our house!  Additionally, they raffle off 50 AWESOME items...I'm talking jewelry, train tables, motorized jeeps, digital cameras, Mac computers, etc.  You pay $10 for whatever you win.  You will NEVER guess what the Davis family won today - a Nintendo Wii!!! 

I just don't have the words to tell you what an incredibly ministry this is to seminary families.  Bayleaf Baptist Church is a powerful example of what it means to minister to the community you're in.  We are honored that we've been able to see a powerful example of what effective, excellent ministry looks like.  They happen to be located in a seminary community, and they have come up with an incredible way to minister to seminary families.  It changes things for us - what a gift!  Just a few weeks ago we were wondering what we were going to do about Christmas.  We've tried to save, but there have been some unexpected expenses, and it just hasn't happened.  Amazing what God does....

Monday, November 5, 2007

Little Miss Opinionated

I am laughing my head off while writing this journal little girl is so opinionated.  I wonder where she got that from? 

She woke up from her nap today around 4:00, and asked for a snack. 

A snack.  Hmm.  From time to time, she has Strawberry Newton minis for a snack.  They're 100% whole grain, and yummy.  Well, on my last trip to the grocery store, I got her the regular fig flavored.  They have a little less sugar, and more protein and fiber.

So I put her in the high chair with a sippy cup of water and fig newton minis...not the strawberry kind.  She takes one bite, gives me this horrible, "What did you do to my snack?" face and spits it out. 

I wait until she takes a sip of water, and try to offer her another bite, thinking it might just be the unfamiliar taste that's throwing her off.  As I extend the newton toward her, she says, "No!  Yuck.  Trash." 

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Halloween: the Christian's second most important holiday
19 October 2007   Jeff Gill

Easter is, of course, the winner. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus there would be no Christianity. That is important to celebrate.

I am relegating Christmas to the number three spot because it is owned by commerce. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful family holiday. Yes, we Christians celebrate the incarnation of God (even though Jesus never said we should). Yes, I love Christmas. But frankly, we Christians just don’t own it anymore. The shops do.

We don’t own Halloween either, but we could.

I grew up hearing about the evils of Halloween – satan worship, demons, razor blades in apples – not from my parents, but from the Christian culture I lived in. I grew up going to Halloween alternative events, having lots of fun in my bible character costume, knowing that I was safe from all the devil-worshiping psychos that were certain to get me if I dared to risk knocking at the doors of the heathens in my neighbourhood.

Then one year I tried it, and I didn’t die.

As soon as my son was old enough (3) I introduced him to the joys of trick-or-treating. That was when I started realising that Halloween is the second most important holiday for Christians.

Jesus said there are two commands that matter: love God and love your neighbour. The Easter holiday is all about the first command. Halloween is all about the second.

What other day of the year can you put on funny clothes and be welcomed at your neighbour’s house? In my neighbourhood Halloween is the only day of the year that that people actually get out of their houses and chat with the neighbours that they don’t know. It is a night of celebrating community.

In the neighbourhood behind our church they throw a party at the shop and lots of people come out and have a great time. That’s where we went trick-or-treating last year.

On Halloween people let down their guard and come out of their houses. And unlike Christmas, it is not fraught with expectations and busy-ness. So here is my plan of how Christians are going to take over Halloween:

Full disclosure: I will be on holiday over Halloween this year, so for me this is more of a memo for 2008.

1. Ignore the demons and the occultists. (Almost) no one else in your neighbourhood cares in the least about that stuff. They are interested in costumes and sweets. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good, not with huddled prayer meetings in the church basement. If you want a prayer meeting, do it on the 30th. If you want to do some real spiritual warfare, put on some silly clothes and go hang out with your neighbours.

2. Cancel your anti- and alternative events. In the words of Disney’s little mermaid, ‘I want to be where the people are.’ Hint: they live around you in those house-shaped things. Stay home, put some pumpkins in the window, hand out a bunch of sweets (not tracts!) and have a nice chat with all the witches and axe-murderers that come by. Even better, go outside and meet the little ghouls’ parents lurking at the bottom of the drive.

3. Be positive and proactive. Find out in advance where the nervous old people live. Let them know that there will be adults out and about and that you will keep an eye on their house. Have some extra glowsticks to give to kids who need to be more visible. Find good places to hide so you can jump out and scare the trick-or-treaters. If you are feeling really ambitious, have an open house/garden with games and hot chocolate and snacks.

4. Check your motivation. You are doing this because God commands us to love people, not because you are trying to score crowns in heaven by getting converts. People can smell a rat a mile away.

5. Make Halloween the starting place. Probably sometime over the course of the evening you will meet somebody and there will be a bit of a connection. Go with it. Invite them to join you for bonfire night. Have their kid over to play with yours. Give the relationship opportunity to grow. And remember it is about loving people, not converting them. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun (and useful) than anything else you could be doing Halloween night?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lana's 15 month check-up & Happy Halloween!

This morning Allana went to see Dr. Dirk for her 15 month checkup.  As usual, he said that she's perfectly healthy!  He's so proud of us for getting rid of the soothie, and he and his nurses were very impressed with her vocabulary.

She weighed 25 pounds, 13 oz, which puts her in the 85% for weight.  She's 32.75" tall, which means she is basically off the charts in height, and her head circumference is 48.4 cm, which puts her in the 97%. 

After all the wonderful news, she had to get 5 shots!  Surprised  Thank goodness Dan was able to meet us at the doctor's office to help us.
She woke up from her nap this afternoon grumpy, and her mood didn't improve as the afternoon went on.  She fussed and cried and just felt bad in general.

We finally managed to put her in her costume.  [Side story about costume: we had a bunny costume to put her in.  However, there are 2 sisters who are 6 and 8 who live a few doors down who love Lana.  They found her a costume that they brought to her this morning.  How could we NOT let her wear that?  They were so excited about it!]  She cried the whole time! 

Once we got downtown, though, she had a great time!  As long as she had a sucker in her mouth, she was happy.  We've found a secret weapon for airplane rides - dum dums!  Not only will they help her ears, but they keep her so quiet!

A whole crowd of us went together, spent about an hour and a half trick-or-treating together, and then came back to our neighborhood for dessert.  We had wassail, homemade hot chocolate, brownies, caramel apples, and cheesecake.  Yummy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Her first phrase

Allana regularly uses between 50-60 words (I lost count somewhere along the way).  Today she said her first phrase!

She LOVES Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle.  When I say love, I mean she brings it to us to read at least a dozen times a day.  We've read it so often that she can "read" it with us, saying what animal is coming on the next page and making that animal's sound. 

This morning we were all laying around the living room.  I had read Brown Bear 3 or 4 times, and Dan had read it 3 or 4 times.  Finally we hid it in the back of her book basket and tried to distract her with another toy.  A few minutes later, she comes marching into the kitchen with the book in hand, and says loudly, "More Bown Bear!" 

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's worth it.

An old friend that I've run into on facebook is single and living a life in NYC that most of us will only dream about. He recently asked me if marriage and motherhood was worth it. I've never thought about it until he asked. I'm so glad he did. Here's my response to him:

It's worth it. More than I can explain to you, it's worth it. It's hard in some aspects, the most significant one being that it reveals every flaw you never knew you had. I went into marriage thinking I had it together, but living in such intimacy with another person peels back your layers and lets you see the sin that was lying dormant. I had no idea I was so selfish until I got married. So I worked on those sins and prayed for freedom and then when I finally felt like I was adequate to be a mom, we decided to have a baby. And if I went into motherhood thinking I was even close to adequate, I was so wrong!! Being a parent is refining, in the rawest sense. Loving a child and raising them well requires complete selflessness and total dependency on the Father. It is exhausting, spiritually, physically, emotionally. It has been humbling, to say the least. 

But at the end of the day (covered in cheerios, bubbles, and mud), I know that I am, among all women, most richly blessed. I am loved by a God who gives me grace to handle everything from a husband working two jobs and going to grad school to a toddler who projectile vomits with regularity. I sleep beside a man who loves me unconditionally, even though I test him daily with my temper and my pride. I wake up each morning and go into the next room where a sleepy, warm little girl reaches up her chubby arms and squeals "Mama! Hi!" like it's Christmas morning. I get to breathe in the sweet smell of baby every day; any door that holds Dan and Lana inside is home to me; I fall asleep holding hands with the person who knows the ugliest parts of me (physically and otherwise) and loves me anyway.

It's refining and beautiful. And worth every minute.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life with Lana today (1 year, 3 months)

  • Today was our Fall Festival at preschool.  Allana has a bunny costume, but it's still too warm for that, so we dressed her in a onesie, babylegs, and her big yellow tutu.  She was the cutest ballerina there!  Dan got to come for Allana's time at the festival, and my co-teacher covered for me while I joined them.  We had a great time playing with her! She loved the big inflatable slide, the jump house, the basketball goal and all the little pumpkins she got to play with.  The Pick Pocket lady was fun....she had pockets all over her dress with prizes inside!  Allana liked to pick prizes out and put them back in.  She was especially interested in the play area with bubble wrap taped on the floor.  She just ran back and forth across it, listening to it pop.  It was so fun being able to enjoy all the fun with her!

  • Just this week, Allana has started showing an interest in the potty!  She knows how to say "tee-tee" and "poo-poo."  She likes to follow me into the restroom and she'll squat down beside me.  She loves to flush it for me!  She's also started wetting fewer diapers during the day, and soaking them at night, so much so that we've had to start putting her in overnight diapers.  We sit her on the potty sometimes.  She hasn't used it yet, but she likes to sit on it.  It seems so early to think about potty training!  We've gotten rid of the bottle and the soothie...when we get rid of diapers, she won't be my baby anymore.  However, if she's expressing an interest in it, we'll encourage it, of course.  When we get paid next, we're going to try to purchase her a seat to go on the big potty and see what happens.  
  • If you'll notice in some of the pictures, Allana has become super-attached to her lovey.  Before we took away her soothie, she only used it at night.  But we got rid of the soothie and went back to school, and she wants her lovey all the time now!  She calls it "love love" and if you forget it at home, she'll ask for it endlessly.  "Love love...peese!  Love love...peese!"  It's so sweet.
  • We're officially down to one nap a day!  We dropped the morning nap while we were in Gatlinburg, and she has done pretty well without it.  We were getting to the place where she was only napping for an hour or 45 minutes twice a day, so now she naps in the afternoon for 2-3 hours.  It's been nice for our schedule, and has allowed us to go to church in the mornings for the entire time.
  • She is now saying everything that we say to her.  She loves to repeat us, and is using her words to try to communicate with us.  Some of our favorites are "oss" for "off," (usually used in reference to her shoes or a bow), "ello" when the phone rings, "mamada", a combination of mama and dada (used when she wants both of us at the same time), "bown bear" repeatedly (when begging us to read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" for the thousandeth time), and "iside" for "outside" (accompanied by hanging on the doorknob, occuring about a gazillion times a day, including when it's pitch black outside). 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pumpkins with the Fowler's

Today was a beautiful day in Wake Forest!  Dan played hookey from classes, and our family joined the Fowler family for a day at the pumpkin patch.  We went to Hill Ridge Farm in Youngsville and had a great time!
Allana loved the hayride, picking out her pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, going down the huge slide, watching the goats and sheep, and playing on the playground.  Here is the website for the farm we visited: 
A few of our highlights from the day:
  • We took a hayride out to the pumpkin patch; Allana loved watching the tractor. 
  • Allana and Mason held hands while they picked out pumpkins - it was so cute!
  • She was so sweet as she walked through the pumpkins, picking them up and saying "pump pump!" 
  • Some of the pumpkins in the shade still had dew on them.  She wiped the dew onto her hands, and then tried to use the water to fix her hair!  We fix her curls in the mornings using water, so I guess she was trying it out herself. 
  • She climbed up the slide on the playground all by herself.  I stood behind her, of course, but she made it up on her own.  I couldn't believe it!  She loves to slide, though, so that probably made her more determined. 
  • Speaking of slides, they had an 80 foot slide that you went down on a piece of burlap.  We both took her down at different times, and she loved it, of course!
  • After all our sliding, we went to see the sheep & goats in their pens.  It was one of my favorite things!  We asked her what the sheep said, and she said "baa!"  And then the sheep actually baa-ed at her.  You should have seen the look on her face!  And after listening to the goats, she'll tell you that a goat says "maa-aa!"  
  • She played in a big teepee for a while, and then she was tired!  We ate lunch at a farmer's market, and then we all came home and took naps.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Her heart's in Alabama

After spending a week with them in Gatlinburg, Allana can't stop thinking about her Nana and PawPaw!  She was playing in the living room after dinner and kept asking for them over and over.  We tried to call them, but just got an answering machine.
She went to bed about 7:30, and woke up crying around 9:00, which is very unusual for her.  I turned the volume up on the monitor to listen to her, and she would cry for a minute, settle down to a whimper, and say, "Nana....PawPaw....Nana....PawPaw...." over and over until she started crying again.
She has not eaten well today at all, so I made her a bowl of oatmeal and brought her downstairs to eat it.  She laid in my arms and ate every bite.  It was so sweet...she would eat a bite, chew it up, say "thank you" very quietly while making the sign for it, and then open her mouth for another bite.  She was literally falling asleep between bites, but she kept eating until she finished the whole bowl.  At that point I got up to take her back to bed, but as soon as I stood up, she started crying, "Nana...PawPaw...." again. 
So at 9:45 at night, I call them up and put them on speaker phone so she can just hear their voices.  When she heard her Nana talking, she smiled so big.  She kept saying their names and pointing to their pictures on the fridge.  As soon as we finished talking to them, she went right back to bed and went to sleep without a peep.
Thankfully we'll see them again next month for Thanksgiving and then in December for Christmas.  Hopefully we'll have all racked up some frequent flyer miles or something to use in 08 because this baby loves her grandparents. 

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall with the family in Gatlinburg

We are back home from our wonderful fall break in Gatlinburg!  We stayed at the Big Easy at Gatlinburg Falls Resort, and it was amazing.  We all enjoyed it so much that Dan's parents are already working on planning a trip next fall.  The weather was unbelievable (60's and 70's, sunny every day) and the company was extraordinary.  Here are a few of the highlights from our week:
  • Sunday we arrived at the cabin; Brother and Janika and Jake were already there.  We spent some time with them Sunday evening and Monday playing and going to the resort playground, hot tub and heated pool.  So fun!
  • Monday afternoon PawPaw, Nana, Aunt Kenzie, Uncle Barcus and Noah arrived.  It was so nice to have the whole family under one roof.  I loved watching Dan play pool and video games with his mom, dad, brother and sister.  They all enjoy each other's company so much; how we miss them.
  • On Tuesday we went to Ripley's Aquarium.  Allana loved it!  She just kept saying "fish! fish!" and pointing to all of the beautiful sea creatures.  What a great experience for her to see all those underwater treasures!  The look on her face was unbelievable. 
  • Wednesday we spent enjoying downtown Gatlinburg.  We ate caramel apples and carried Allana around in the backpack.  She likes it so much better than her stroller; I think because she can see more when she's up high. 
  • Thursday was our hayride through Cade's Cove!  PawPaw & Nana rented out the entire trailer for us, so we piled on and rode through looking at the animals.  We got to see some deer up close, and our little girl loved it!  She kept saying "deer! deer!"  When we would go through a stretch without any deer, she would whine and say "please?  deer?"  It was so cold, so eventually she snuggled up to me and took a quick nap.  She woke up when I was putting her in the car seat and the first thing she said was "deer?"  I loved going through Cade's Cove that way.
  • On Friday, we hung out at the cabin with Brother and Janika and Jake until they had to leave.  Lana took a short nap while Dan went to Ober Gatlinburg with his family, and then she & I met them downtown for a little shopping and dinner at Calhoun's.  If you've never eaten at Calhoun's, it's worth the stop when you are in Gatlinburg.  Allana loved the ribs almost as much as I did!
  • Saturday morning we packed up and headed home.  Allana did great in the car.  She read books, took a couple of naps, played with her toys, and sang some songs with us.  The only time she cried at all was when she was going to sleep.  She was a trouper! 
The best part of the trip was all the time we got to spend with our family.  Moving away has really made us treasure each moment we spend with them.  Things your family members do that might normally irritate someone or get on your nerves just don't matter when you only get to see them for a limited amount of time; you just let things go and treasure every minute you have together.  It was so hard to let everyone leave - we love them so very much, and are so grateful for this precious week we had with them. 

Here are a few of my favorite pictures: