Monday, January 29, 2007

This and That

Just wanted to share a few recent pictures. Here's one of Meg in her cute winter hat from Aunt Lena. You should see her all bundled up with her puffy, green coat and her fuzzy, pink hat! She looks like a miniature ski bunny!


I was just reading a book (can't remember what) wherein someone makes the statement, "Destructiveness is one of the first traits of childhood." Soooooo true. Meg just loves to rip, tear and shred. She's not allowed to engage in this kind of fun very often, but the other day I let her sit down with a magazine that was bound for the recycling bin and, well... here is the result.


A fine piece of work, no?

My final picture is not quite as recent; it's from this past Thanksgiving. We left our camera in the car that day and so never had any pictures of our own to post. But our dear friends the Allens, who joined the Nalle clan for the festivities this year, just emailed me a few shots that they took with their fancy-schmancy camera. Here is the entire group on Thanksgiving Day, 2006:

Big Family

We were missing a few notable Nalles that day--Jacque and Asher, my Uncle Rob and his family--but I think this is a great picture anyway. I especially love the stoic faces of Grandpop and Uncle Don (back row, second from right and far left). Their expressions perfectly capture the rural-Virginia man's man approach to having your picture taken. I also enjoy looking at the front row, which features, from left to right, Daniel, Mason, John, Caleb, Matthew and Spencer. (Mason and Spencer are my blood-cousins, the rest are my Allen-cousins-by-friendship). All of these young men I knew and babysat when they were as teeny as Meg (or smaller, in some cases!). And now, they're... teenagers! Unbelievable!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Laundry Day

Meg is going through a phase where she often doesn't like it when I leave her alone, even for a minute. This can make it difficult to do tasks like laundry, where I have to carry baskets of clothes up and down two flights of stairs--if Meg wants to be with me, then I double my trips, one with basket, one with baby. No fun. So I devised a more efficient (and amusing) way to get through laundry day. Good upper body workout, too.

What do you see?
Laundry Basket 2

A laundry basket? Well, yes, but look closer. Is that a... a foot? There on the left!
Laundry Basket

Why, there's a baby underneath those clothes! (And a mighty cute one at that!)
Meg in Laundry Basket

It's Chili, Baby

This is what happens when you let your child eat chili with her fingers.
Chili, Baby

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why I'm Proud of My Daddy: #2

This is Meg writing, everyone, about why my Daddy is the best in the world and I am soooo proud of him. There are lots of reasons I could choose; for example, he plays the best games with me, he makes me laugh really hard, he's so gentle when he holds me, he prays for me every day, and he teaches me about God. But what I want to tell you about today is this: Daddy guards Date Nights.

Ever since Daddy and Momma got married they have had Date Night every Monday. Usually this means that they go out for dinner, and they often do something else before or afterward. My daddy plans Date Night every single week, taking time to think of a restaurant or an activity that will bless and refresh Mommy. (Last night they went bowling, which is a little bit strange, because Mom doesn't like many activities that involve balls. But she and Daddy figured out that she likes bowling because it's one of the few sports where the ball never comes toward her.) Daddy does Date Nights because he knows how important it is for him and Mom to have special time together on a regular basis. They need to be able to talk without interruption, think together, plan, laugh, have fun and remember all of the things that make them love each other so much.

It's not always easy for Daddy to make Date Night a priority. Sometimes someone needs him at work on Monday night, and he has to go out of his way to make sure that a volunteer can cover for him. And sometimes Daddy has a hard time finding the time or energy or creativity to plan Date Night. But he always does it anyway.

This makes me so proud of my daddy! Even though Date Night doesn't include me, it shows that Dad loves me very much. After all, if we are going to have a strong, happy family, he and Mommy need a strong, happy marriage. Date Night also shows how much my dad wants to obey God. He tries to show the whole world how much Jesus Christ loves His Church by showing how much he loves Mom. And that is just what the Bible tells him to do.

I love you, Daddy! Thank you for being such a great husband to Mommy. She loves the way you spend your Monday nights together, and you know what? I think God loves it too!

Daddy and Mama

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Happiest Mama

Being Meg's mommy is one of the best things I have ever experienced--or ever hope to experience. This afternoon, the two of us were in the car on the way to Target. My little girl was sitting behind me in her car seat, happily talking to herself in her own wordless way. I glanced in the rear view mirror and caught sight of that bright little face--sparkling blue eyes, rosy cheeks, face shining with a recent coat of Vaseline (it helps with her eczema)--and I just knew, for about the fiftieth time this week, that I am the most blessed woman on the face of the planet. My heart exploded with praises to the God who made Meg and, for some reason, entrusted her to Dave and me.

Cutie Pie

My girl doesn't necessarily have to be acting sweet and contented to make me feel this way--fortunately, the Holy Spirit can break in to my thoughts at any time and make me realize how much He has given me. For example: earlier today, I ran upstairs for a moment while Meg was happily occupied in her play room. Suddenly, I heard a wail. This was not a, "Mommy, I miss you" wail; this was a bona fide "I'm in pain" wail. I raced downstairs to find Meg red-faced and crying, clearly hurt, although I couldn't determine what happened. I scooped her up and started the simple, silly mommy-soothing process that women seem to possess innately: "Shhhh, it's okay, Little Love. You're okay." (Kiss, kiss.) "You're okay. Shhhhhh. It's all right now." (Kiss.) She didn't stop crying immediately, but even as the tears continued, I thought, "I can't believe I get to do this. I can't believe I get to be the nurturer and comforter of this little person. I'm so grateful that God made me to do this."

Of course--of course--there are difficult moments as well. There are times when I am inconvenienced, or when my will is thwarted, or when my words are disobeyed. Because I am a sinner, what surfaces in my heart in these moments is not always humble gratitude, but irritation or anger.

Tuesday the 16th was my 27th birthday. That morning, I read the following in Spurgeon's Morning and Evening: "I am the One who helps you, declares the Lord." (Isaiah 41:14) "In helping you, I am giving you what I have bought for you already. If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you; you require little compared with what I am prepared to give... you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. I will help you."

I need God's help to love my little girl. I need it desperately. In the moments when I am angry or irritated, I need His help to repent. In the moments when being a mom seems to come so easily, I need His help to stay consciously dependent on Him. After all, it is God's help that makes those moments so sweet in the first place.

Just Playin'

On Tuesday morning, I wrote the following in my journal: "Help me, my God, my All-Sufficient One, to be the most contented, most grateful, most humbled woman in the world, as I ought to be. Jesus, it would be more than enough if you had only given me Yourself, but You have done so much more. Therefore let me be every day awed--floored, stunned, shocked, scandalized--by Your amazing grace."


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Meg and the Avocado

Meg loves avocados. Ever since I introduced them when she was 7 months old, she's been a big fan. I guess I just never realized to what lengths she would go to enjoy one. Until today. She was behind me in the kitchen, and when I noticed the profound silence, I turned to find:

Avacado 1

Yummy, right? Yep, she gnawed right through the rind of the thing and was happily enjoying the meat when I found her. Can you see the green stuff dribbling down her front? I had two avocados set out to ripen beneath the kitchen window, but I guess they were already ripe enough for Miss Meg.

Avacado 2

Pretty good for someone with only six teeth, huh?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stepping Out

An update on the cutest 13-month old we know: she's walking! Well, actually, "stepping" would be a more appropriate description. So far, her longest voyages have been six or seven, maybe ten steps at a time. But she's working on it, and she's already improved so much in her control and balance. For example, for the first few days it was just, one step--BOOM! on the floor. Two steps--BOOM! on the floor. But now she can take several steps, stop on her feet, and slowly lower herself to a sitting or squatting position. Of course, she still goes BOOM a lot too...

It's so exciting to see our little girl up on her feet and learning new things!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How to Eat a Meal, Meg-Style (by Meg)

Happy Eating!

For my first post of 2007, I thought of something both unique and instructive. As everyone knows, people who want to learn to cook have many potential instructors. Emeril, Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart are just the tip of the iceberg. But how about people who want to learn to eat? To whom are they to turn? Oh, sure, you've got your restaurant critics who'll tell you what to eat, but I'm talking about the basics here, people. How do you get that food from your plate (or your high chair tray) to your digestive tract where it can do some good--and how do you do it with style? This post is my answer to these questions.

Let's just say we're having breakfast. On the menu? Canteloupe pieces and French toast morsels. (You can have your mommy prepare these in advance.) Mmmmmm. Now before you eat anything, make sure you're seated comfortably and strapped safely into your chair. Got your bib on? Okay, then. You're ready to enjoy your meal. Let's begin.

1. Using your thumb and index fingers, pick up a piece of canteloupe in each hand. Insert the piece in your right hand into your mouth and gum (or chew) it a few times. Add the left-hand piece of canteloupe to your mouth.
2. Without swallowing, repeat step 1 until your mouth is packed beyond your capacity to chew. Then attempt to swallow the entire mouthful at one time.
3. Make choking sounds, cough and sputter. Use your tongue or your fingers to eject several pieces of partially chewed canteloupe from your mouth. If possible, swallow the rest.
4. Proceed inserting, chewing and swallowing canteloupe pieces at a more leisurely pace.
5. Surreptitiously place a chunk of canteloupe squarely on top of your head. When your mommy notices and looks at you like, "How did that get there?", look back at her complacently, as if wearing your food is a perfectly normal thing to do.
Canteloupe on Head
6. When you are content with your canteloupe consumption, flap your hands and say, "Uhhh-uh-uh-uh-uhhhhhhhh!" as a signal to your mommy that your second course is due.
Waving the Hands Technique
7. When your Mommy deposits your French toast morsels in front of you, place a piece in your mouth and gum it slowly. Squint your eyes a bit and cock your head slightly, so that you appear to be weighing the merits of this dish.
8. After you have consumed several bites of toast, select a new piece and hold it in between your thumb and forefinger. Insert it partway into your mouth, making sure to dampen with saliva, then withdraw it from your mouth. Repeat this until the French toast morsel is limp and drippy. Lay it carefully on your high chair tray in case you want to return to it later.
9. Clutching a fresh piece of toast in your fist, squeeze tightly until food becomes a mushy pulp. Lower your head into your hands as if you just received some very bad news; then rub the toast-pulp into your eyes. Be sure to get your eyebrows very sticky.
Rubbing Eyes 2
Eyebrows Close-Up
10. Emit a clear burp to signal that you are satisfied.
11. Finish off your meal with some water from your sippy-cup. (I recommend the Playtex model with handles on both sides.) Lift the spout to your mouth and begin sucking desperately. Drink until you can't stand anymore, then lower the cup to your tray; gasp, pant, and dribble excess liquid onto your bib. Repeat this until your mommy takes the cup away. Regurgitate a portion of the water along with a little bit of your meal.
12. Await clean-up. When your mommy commences wiping you down with a wet paper-towel, make it fairly difficult for her to reach the body part she is attempting to clean. Emit quiet grunts of protest regularly. Whine and moan when your eyebrows are scrubbed.

This concludes our eating lesson. Of course, the twelve steps above aren't meant to be restrictive. Instead, I hope that they will inspire you with eating ideas of your own and lead to wonderful meal-time adventures. (Just try any one of these at your next dinner party, and see if they don't.) Thanks for reading along, and happy dining!

(DISCLAIMER FROM THE MOMMY: Although these events have been humorized, they are all based on fact and should not be assumed to be exaggeration or invention. The photographs included in this post were not staged.)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

An Outing

This past Wednesday, my darling hubby took me on a special, all-day date. Dave's Christmas gift to me was a pair of tickets to the Tony-award winning musical The Light in the Piazza, currently playing at the Kennedy Center. I was so excited for January 3rd to arrive: imagine, a whole day out with my husband and a chance to see a show again! (The last time we went to the theater was two years ago, which seems like a long while to me.) And when the day finally came, all my hopes were met or exceeded!

After dropping Meg off at Mom's house in the morning, we headed for Georgetown and enjoyed a delicious brunch at La Madeleine. We arrived at the Kennedy Center nice and early so we could explore a bit. The day was sunny and beautiful, though decidedly unJanuary-like. We made our way up to the terrace and enjoyed amazing views, both of the D.C. area (Rosslyn, Georgetown, the mall) and of low-flying planes preparing to land at Reagan.
Is This January?
Plane Over <span onclick=
Down the Potomac
Me Squinting
David and Cara

Back inside, we headed toward the Opera House, where the doors were about to open for the matinee. Of course, we stopped to snap a few pics along the way. I remember being awed by the Hall of Nations when I first saw it on my second-grade field trip. It is still an impressive place and hard to do justice by photograph. The flags are truly gigantic:
Hall of Nations

Here's a view of the main lobby from the second balcony, where our seats were.
View From the Second Balcony

The show was wonderful. A simple but intriguing story, beautiful score--subtle in many places, soaring in others--and outstanding performances. Although I must say, this one is probably not for those who like their musicals light and happy. The Light in the Piazza has some rather dark spots. But we enjoyed it nonetheless. I wish I could give you a taste of the show itself, but of course, photography and recording is prohibited, etc., etc. I have to settle, therefore, for sharing some shots of the Opera House interior, taken before the show and during intermission. Here is the stage, shown with the curtain down, as it was when we entered. That's intended to be the city of Florence, by the way, to set the... well, the setting.
Florence Curtain

The house itself, from our seats:
The House

And the ceiling centerpiece, a series of chandeliers, gorgeous in effect though definitely late-60's in design:
Opera House Ceiling

After the show, we stopped off at Afterwords Cafe, a dinner-and-dessert spot that we always enjoy. I love their catfish. We spent the meal talking about the play--what we liked, what we did and didn't understand, what we might have changed if it was up to us, and of course, what we noticed about the lighting and other technical elements! (You don't ignore these things when you're married to a sound engineer turned audio/lighting/video guru!) At last we headed homeward to pick up our precious baby girl from her Nana's house, deposit her in her own beddie-bye, and hit the sack ourselves.

It was a lovely day, my Love, and one I will remember for a long time to come! Thank you so much for planning a day to bless me and visiting the world of theater with me. I love you more than you even know!