The Armstrong Archives (87): What’s it Like to Have a Baby During Internship?

The joke is told that the ObGyn’s wife had to flag down a taxi in order to make it to the hospital when her baby was born. I have a friend who teaches at Johns Hopkins and is a pediatric neurologist; she finished taking her medical boards during the early hours of her labor pains! So, compared to what could have happened, Jonathan’s birth wasn’t really so bad…

May 18, 1980. The fun started at the beginning of March. Baby Cakes was due on the 5th, and Dad lent us Grandma a few days early after I had some false labor. He remembered that their third baby was born in the hospital hallway and suspected (rightly) that ours might come in a flash. Jonathan didn’t make an appearance until the 27th (so we had a marvelous month getting spoiled by Mom), but I just barely made it to the hospital in time for the delivery (my doctor did not). So, Alan more or less got to deliver the baby, just as I’d wanted (but Alan did not).

Our third baby wasn’t quite born in the hallway…but almost! Since Alan was a intern and always horribly tired, I really didn’t want to bother him, so although true labor pains began shortly after we went to bed about 10 pm, I didn’t wake him up until 1:00 am when they were getting pretty severe and closer together. He said, “Oh, just let me get one more hour of sleep.” So, I woke him up again at 2:00 am, and at 3:00 am…each time with a similar response. I had always wanted a home birth (feeling like a cat wanting to hide in a closet anyway), and so at 4:00 am I whispered, “Dear, would you like to have the baby at home?” With that, Alan sprang out of bed and helped me get to the hospital. We arrived at just about 5:00 am, and the baby was born twelve minutes later!

Ah, but it was love at first sight! Jonathan was good natured and sweet tempered right from the start. He was also clearly overdue…very round cheeks and overgrown fingernails. When Aaron and Michael came to inspect their prize that evening, Aaron took one look at him and declared, “He looks just like a hamster!” Michael nodded approvingly, and Jon was the “bell of the ball” from that moment on and for a good long time…probably until Jon got big enough to crawl over and sit right in the middle of the boys’ suitcase full of legos!

Then, there was another marvelous two weeks of getting spoiled by Mom, who did everything and only let me out of bed to go out on dates with Alan occasionally. (I should interrupt here to make a few comments about Jonathan, answering the oft-asked questions by inquisitors. Alan was absolutely delighted to have another boy. I was so grateful to have another healthy baby, and so pleased by Alan’s reaction, that I’d be perfectly happy to have six more boys. Which answers the other question people ask. About three days after Jonathan was born, Alan told me he’d thought of two more boys’ names. So had I, so I guess we’re set for at least four more!) Poolside in FLAnyway, Mom did such a fantastic job of taking care of all of us, that by the time Jonathan was three weeks old, we dared to take a flying nine-day vacation in Florida. We “flew” down in the car (via a 25-hour marathon) and spent the entire time with Ormond/Daytona Beach as our home base. We spent most of our time sleeping, swimming, resting, reading, eating, and playing in the sand, be we did manage a few super fun side trips. We went to Cape Kennedy, St. Augustine, MarinelandMarine Land, and Disney World. We never dreamed the boys would enjoy Disney as much as they did, but it turned out to be a real highlight for them, and as Aaron collapsed into the back seat of our car on our way out, he asked, “Can we come back tomorrow?” He didn’t stay awake long enough to hear the answer (which had to be “No”), but I’m sure if we ever get back to Florida, Disney World will have to be on the agenda. [In fact, I think we’ve been over 50 times since…]Disney WorldWe came back brown and rested (which was another wonder to me; usually I come home from vacations to get rested up), and Alan was hard at work thinking. One real disadvantage of internship is always being so busy he never has time to think. I guess that can be an advantage too, since he’s too busy to think about how busy his is—which might tend to depress him (if he had time to get depressed). He was thinking about medicine, and that it’s a worthwhile way to support his family and help people, but it’s not (at least for him) worth sacrificing his life for: e.g. spending his total energy doing. He is quite interested in emergency medicine, which is both interesting and flexible. Last weekend he looked over a job opening in Cheboygan, seventy miles from the Soo on Lake Huron. (We also got to spend a very happy Mother’s Day in the Soo!) He is still undecided but waiting on the Lord, who always answers by peace.

As for the boys, they’re doing just fine. Aaron and Michael are like streaks going out the door after breakfast, and the books, puzzles, and legos are starting to get dusty. It’s so great to live where there’s plenty of grass and children. While Aaron and I were making the beds this morning, he told me he thought he’d like to stay home another year (not turning five until Oct. 2). We had always thought he would never be emotionally ready for kindergarten this fall, but he is really starting to mature socially and has spells of seeming civil. We still feel relatively sure we’ll have him wait another year, but we’re watching him to see. Michael continues to be happy, lively, and full of small boy jokes and good humor. He and Aaron are inseparable companions, and it has really taken the pressure off having a new baby. Since they have each other, they don’t seem a bit jealous of Jonathan. And, marvel of marvels, Jonathan does all those neat baby things I thought were only written in books by some sadist trying to make mothers feel like failures: He eats every four hours, sleeps through the night, plays contentedly by himself (for short periods…but that’s an improvement), and smiles just often enough to keep the boys wrapped around his finger.

Meanwhile, I got replaced in the Bible Club. Instead, I’m now teaching the Book of Romans at the ladies’ Bible study. Much as I love working with children, I am also thoroughly enjoying the opportunity for fellowship and study this affords. Now I can do some much longed-for reading that previously hadn’t made it up high enough on my priorities list. Speaking of priorities, I need to get better organized to survive… a bent ear to hear the Spirit and a deaf ear to ignore the world…less distraction and more direction! Speaking of hearing—Jon just woke up and wants to eat. I guess he needs to be heard too! 🙂



Wide-Eyed with Wonder at the Children’s Museum

DSCN2418For those of you who—like me—think of a children’s museum as appropriate DSCN2468distraction on a cold, snowy day…or at least a wet, windy day, please think again! DSCN2500While Kathy was visiting last week, we kept waiting for a yukky day when we DSCN2503couldn’t be outside to go to GR’s Children’s Museum, but that day never came,DSCN2504 so we finally decided to go on a sunny spring morning, and we were happily  DSCN2502delighted with our investment during prime kiddy-adventure time! DSCN2394At the construction site, you can build things with foam blocks, DSCN2396or don a hard hat DSCN2398and a pair of work gloves DSCN2392so you can get to the down and dirty business of DSCN2393 collecting a bucket of foam rocks or climbing up the ramp for a big slide down. DSCN2399Right next door was a fully equipped, miniature kitchen…just perfect for Iris! DSCN2401Oliver wasn’t too impressed. He preferred watching some boys build a rainbow, DSCN2405and he was pleased as punch when they left, leaving him all the balls to himself! DSCN2400Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Iris was whipping up some great pasta, DSCN2403which she summarily shared with all her luncheon guests. DSCN2406After lunch, Iris decided to check out the display on an active bee hive. DSCN2409 Iris loves all living things (especially ants, which she calls “babies”),DSCN2410 so she was disappointed that she couldn’t hold the bees, but she was very excited DSCN2408to see them going in and out through the tube, collecting nectar for their hive. DSCN2413Oh, children’s museums are full of wide-eyed wonders, like this mirror,DSCN2414all sorts of clever musical instruments for playing tunes,DSCN2455fascinating lights & colorful, geometric building blocks that even babes can hold, DSCN2458as well as giant construction toys that only big, tough kids can handle! DSCN2451One of Iris’ favorite “toys” was a life-sized car, free for the climbing! DSCN2456And, after waiting patiently for her turn, she even got to take it for a spin herself. DSCN2460Another ingenious invention was a huge bubble maker. You could stand in the DSCN2498middle, pull down the rope, and presto: encircle yourself in a rainbow bubble! DSCN2463I think Iris’ very favorite attraction was the grand bowl of bubble solution. DSCN2479She watched intently as others made impressive shapes,DSCN2475but she discovered it was much easier said than done!DSCN2486Now, how do you do that again??? DSCN2480After a lot of practice and a little advice on being gentle…DSCN2488Iris was able to get her bubble off the ground! DSCN2481She was even able to demonstrate for a smaller tot who was watchingDSCN2497and made some beautiful bubbles to share! DSCN2438I think Iris could have stayed all day, but Olie had missed the luncheon and said he was getting hungry.DSCN2431Iris called a local pizzeria to see if we could get reservations for a snack, DSCN2436but they said they were already booked solid and wouldn’t have room.DSCN2424 So, instead, we decided to just pick up a few groceries DSCN2443and then head home to eat. DSCN2427As luck would have it, we had to wait in a long line to check out, DSCN2447and then Iris remembered that she needed to stop at the bank…DSCN2448and the post office….DSCN2450and the fish market…DSCN2423but we did finally make it home, where we had a splendid lunch and a big nap. DSCN2421All in all, I’d say the Children’s Museum is a great adventure, rain or shine!

Looking for adventure? Don’t wait for a rainy day to learn something new! If you’ve never read the Bible, may I encourage you to start today? (The Gospel of John is one great place to start: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” ~John 1:1-5) It might be hard to understand at first, just like Iris trying to learn how to make bubbles, but I believe if you’ll persevere, you’ll discover a treasure house of wisdom and love that will leave you wide-eyed with wonder!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

A Few of My Favorite Birds (3): The Bird with a Big Heart

“If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.” Charles LindberghFlicker and female cardinalI live in a veritable bird paradise, and dozens of colorful birds come to my feeder. Blue Jay Our home (lovingly referred to as Tanglewood Cottage) is in a woods, Baltimore Oriole so we attract many song birds Downy Woodpeckerand woodpeckers. Thankfully, my window also overlooks a little lake,
Wood ducks in Rain, April 20, 2012  copy 2so we’re blessed with many different types of waterfowl too,Swan and cynets on shoreand we enjoy watching the yearly progression in the lives of “our birds.” Mourning DoveBeing a grandma with a passion for learning and sharing, I thought writing a Red-bellied Woodpeckerseries about birds might be a fun way to connect with nature lovers young & old. IMG_8420This Thursday’s bird post is on the “Rose-breasted Grosbeak,” and at first sight,IMG_8423  the females look like some type of big song sparrow, but they’re not!IMG_8424They do look similar, but a grosbeak is about 2 inches longer than a sparrow. IMG_7176The male grosbeak looks very similar to the female in size, head and beak shape, IMG_7178but he has such different coloring—with his striking black and white feathers—IMG_7195 that it’s almost hard to imagine they’re a pair. Don’t they look different?!IMG_7273Mr. Grosbeak also has a very special secret…something you can’t tell from afar. IMG_7271It’s not something you’ll ever discover by observing him from behind…IMG_7740or even if you’re perched right beside him! IMG_6474You have to look straight at him—right into his eyes—to know his secret: IMG_6473He has a huge heart!IMG_6472So, if you ever see a bird with a big, red heart on his chest, IMG_7735 you’ll know he’s a “rose-breasted grosbeak.” IMG_6281 Isn’t he a handsome bird? IMG_6285Although Mr. Rose-breasted Grosbeak chirps while eating seeds at our feeder,DSCN2134 he has a melodious, warbling song that’s been likened to that of a robinRose-breasted Grossbeak who’s had singing lessons! A handsome, big-hearted singer. What a heart throb!IMG_8418Besides all that, he’s a good family man; he even sings while sitting on the nest!IMG_7564Mr. Rose-breasted Grosbeak is also a very considerate husband, IMG_7920and he’ll quickly defer to his wife, gathering seeds on the ground IMG_7277while she perches on the feeder. However, it’s not because he’s antisocial! IMG_7490 Mr. and Mrs. Grosbeak are good friends with all their neighbors.IMG_7928They’re very peaceable, and they’re not afraid of anybody…not even me! IMG_7577Who wouldn’t love to have a friend (or husband) like that?…handsome but still devoted to his less gorgeous wife, cheerful, helpful, self-sacrificing, sociable, and peaceable. Come to think of it, who wouldn’t like to have a wife like that? Maybe I can learn a few lessons from the birds too! 🙂 At any rate, I’m always thrilledIMG_7736  to see Mr. and Mrs. Rose-breaked Grosbeak arrive in the spring, IMG_7844and I miss them when they leave for Central/South America in the fall. If you live in the northeastern part of America, I hope you’ll be able to enjoy some of these perky birds too and will feel inspired by knowing that they’re not only big-hearted on the outside, they have big hearts on the inside too!

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

How to Recognize Emotional Unavailability and Make Healthier Relationship Choices

05.28.14 Emotional UnavailabilityBryn Collins wrote this book back in 1997, although Aaron recommended it to Alan and me just lately, so we read it together, and it definitely generated some lively discussions! It’s actually a useful book for anybody who lives in a situation with emotional highs and lows, but I think it would be most valuable to singles who are still motivated to improve themselves  and might be open to the possibility of marriage at some point…but singles who are still thinking about the type of person they would like to marry and have not fallen in love yet (since once you’re in love it’s very hard to see straight or make wise choices). One of the major advantages of the book is that it profiles personality types who are emotionally unavailable and therefore will not make healthy emotional connections with a partner.

The book starts out with a series of caricature-like descriptions of various problem personalities to avoid, such as the “tens and other trophies” (who use their great beauty as an excuse for not needing to be good) the “holics” (those with addictions who use their profession or problem as an excuse so they don’t have to own their inappropriate behaviors), the “eels and other slippery creatures,” the “James Bond spies and lies”… you get the picture…plenty of them! The profiles make you either laugh or cry (depending on whether or not you’re in a relationship with one of them and it’s causing you personal pain), but there are some good bullet points along the way, such as clarifying the difference between “private” and “secret,”  and the difference between “truth” and “honesty.”

Next, the book describes four basic personality types so you have a basic grid for thinking about people and how they are likely to react to situations. They use different terms, but I think of the four as “happy,” “sad,” “anxious,” or “angry.” If you’re thinking about what to look for in a life partner, I think understanding the basic personality types would be one important parameter to think through before you allow yourself to get very emotionally involved. In this section, Bryn also gives some helpful insights into what feeds into certain emotional stances, such as “anger is the universal emotional cover-up for real feelings.” He also discusses the problems of feeling powerless, low self-esteem, boundary, and control issues. Throughout the book, he includes a few self-survey options to help you understand if you’ve got a problem you don’t recognize, such as the “Toxic Balloon Detector” and “How Toxic is my Relationship?”

Of course, if you’re already married, it’s too late to avoid troubled souls (and, to some extent, we’re all in that category). Thankfully, the second part of the book offers strategies for improvement: “A Framework for Change and Growth.” There are discussions on tactics for overcoming personality problems as well as ideas for how to interact with people who are emotionally unavailable due to personality damage. There’s a list of “Problem-Solving Communication Rules” and a checklist for “People with Good Boundaries.” (Do I? Does he? What then?) An area where I struggle is in bringing up a problem in a non-confrontive way. Bryn says not to ask “Why” (as in “Why in the world did you…) but rather “Help me to understand your decision”…or “I wonder if you thought about.” Try to help your partner get in touch with his/her feelings, since we often make poor decisions based on our feelings rather than our intellectual knowledge.

Near the end, the author offers ideas to help people get in contact with their feelings and encourages people to develop a healthy internal feedback system based on being conscious of their own core beliefs and values. He describes the difference between being a “victim” and a “survivor.” “A victim lives in the moment of victimization and defines all else by it. The survivor acknowledges the terrible experience and honors it by finding the lesson and incorporating it into his or her life.” Whether you’re in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person, or you feel like you’re struggling personally, Bryn provides insights into the importance of building your self esteem, confronting negative self-talk, acknowledging your talents and gifts, learning to be content alone, learning new things, associating with positive people, and letting go of trying to control other people’s negative behaviors. Now, if we could only do that, we’d probably all become quite healthy and emotionally available! 🙂 Wouldn’t that be great?!

I can’t offer this one totally free of charge, but I did just look it up and noticed that you can order a used, hard-cover copy through Amazon for $0.71 (plus $3.99 shipping). It’s definitely a book I’m still pondering and trying to practice, and if your heart resonated with my review, maybe you’d appreciate it too!

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

Up Close and Personal at the John Ball Zoo

IMG_8017If you can make it this Thursday, there are going to be some special activities at IMG_8368John Ball Zoo, although I will say, it’s a great place to visit any day of the week! IMG_8225Iris (who’s 2) had never been to a zoo before, so it was a real hit for her!IMG_8154 Oliver (who’s only 8 months) was considerably more interested in the humans IMG_8014and had a little trouble figuring out what all the hype was about, IMG_8152but he definitely enjoyed his day too! IMG_8052The rest of us had a ball,IMG_8117I think, IMG_8244although somebody was definitely having a bad hair day, IMG_8204and it looked like a few teens had all been put in time out for monkeying around.IMG_8218I also saw one young couple who seemed exhausted (see their new baby?) IMG_8073and another couple who got into a fight and made quite a scene! IMG_8094I guess there are always a few fellas who are feeling dejected, even at the zoo, IMG_8215and then there are the cheery ones, who always seem to be smiling.IMG_8237Animals are a lot like humans! Some seem docile and sweet. IMG_8103Some look like they’re ready to peck a fight. IMG_8002Some look like they’d like to be left alone, IMG_8272and some look they’re just waiting around for you to come a little bit closer…IMG_8264Some always seem as cool as cucumbers and like to be busy, IMG_8247while others seem too hot and tired to work, so they hang out lazily all day long. IMG_8121Like most of us, Iris’ favorite animals are the ones who are touchable,IMG_8165especially the warm, cuddly ones! IMG_8189She also loves patient souls who will so something special for you. Don’t we all?!IMG_8170Thankfully, you don’t have to be a fashion queen to be appreciated by a child! IMG_8287I really love the otters, because they always seem like they’re having such fun! IMG_8290When Alan and I are out for our daily swim, I feel like we’re a pair of river otters!IMG_8358Well, after a big morning at the zoo, we had to stop for a snack. IMG_8350The zoo’s the sort of place where you could easily spend an entire day, but little ones need to get home for lunch and a good afternoon nap, so we left. IMG_8372As we left, we noticed that the admission line had really grown, so I’d definitely recommend going early while the lines are short and the animals are frisky.IMG_8324We’re hoping to go again in a few weeks when the new tiger exhibit opens.IMG_8196Ever think about what type of animal you’re like? Which ones do you admire? IMG_8320Some days Alan says I’m prickly…but I don’t want to be!IMG_8193I definitely want to be touchable, warm, and fuzzy!IMG_8261I really don’t want to be somebody who might be singing “trust in meIMG_8195but deep inside have the heart of a vulture! IMG_8110How about you? What animal would you like to be like? Mouring Dove copy“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Rise Up, My Love (86): Handmade by Solomon

IMG_1883Song of Solomon 3:9“King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.” Most commentators feel that this verse is not describing a different vehicle but rather is continuing to describe the same movable palanquin as is mentioned in verse seven. Although it fires the imagination to picture Solomon driving at the head of the processional in a royal chariot while bringing a bed for his beloved to ride in behind him, that seems inconsistent with the text for several reasons. First, were Solomon riding ahead in a chariot, it seems unimaginable that he would not have been noticed and described first instead of second. On the other hand, it would have been unthinkable and dishonoring to the king’s position to have had him riding behind the showcased royal bed with all the honor guard attending it. The royal bodyguard was to protect the king above all else. That the bride would also be protected was an indication of her privilege as the king’s wife. Apart from him, she was nothing…just as apart from Christ, we are nothing. Finally, verse ten describes the chariot as having a covering of purple cloth…which would be perfectly appropriate for a boudoir, but hardly an asset on a chariot!

No, rather than describing two separate conveyances, this vignette seems to be developing the picture like a telephoto camera zooming in on the scene. In verse six, we see the clouds of smoke and incense ascending in the distance and wonder what is coming. In verses seven and eight we recognize the troop of magnificent soldiers bearing aloft a royal palanquin, but it is the noble warriors who capture our attention. Coming closer, we marvel at the beauty of the palanquin itself in verses nine and ten. And, finally, in verse eleven, we will rejoice with the daughters of Zion as we behold the king himself!

“King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.” There is a precious thought here that captures our attention: the king made the chariot himself. It did not come out of the imagination and creative genius of another man; this chariot was designed and ordered by the king to meet his exact specifications. He personally planned and oversaw its construction. It is a great consolation to remember that the Creator of the ends of the earth also personally designed every detail of the conveyance that will bring us to the gates of the celestial city. Every circumstance of our lives has been hand crafted by his love to bring about all things for good in our lives (Romans 8:28)!

Being a monarch of untold riches and wisdom, the chariot was doubtless a masterpiece of exquisite beauty and design. The bride must have watched in breathless wonder as the palanquin approached. What was that glittering and gleaming in the sunshine? See the deep purple tapestries covering it…the flowing curtains swaying in the breeze! Did it actually take all sixty of the valiant men to carry it, or were some carrying and others simply attending? The Scripture says that all sixty were holding swords, so possibly all sixty were also involved in the physical work of transporting it. Imagine the size of such a magnificent structure, which may have required sixty of Solomon’s strongest men to lift and carry!

All this for his beloved! What wife would not stand in awe and amazement to consider the love that energized such a lavish display? Husbands, do you take creative energy, time, and money to surprise your wife with expressions of your love? A woman will never forget a man who truly loves her, nor will she ever forget the sacrifices he made to express that love. If ever her thoughts begin to drift, do you want your wife’s daydreams to be about you? Then make her feel loved…make her know she’s loved. By lavish displays? Sure, sometimes! Maybe a special anniversary trip or a second honeymoon to a favored place. If you can’t afford two tickets on a shining jet, at least polish your car. (Wasn’t it shiny on the day of your wedding?)

But, day by day you can also make your wife feel cherished by all your little acts of love and kindness. A wife does not especially sense your love when you are successful in your career, because it is not always clear to her whether it is your love for the Lord and her—or your own personal ambitions—that are driving you at work. What makes her feel cherished are the little things you do for her quietly…things that serve her needs without bringing any attention to you from those outside your home…things like helping her with her work when she’s tired, taking a sincere interest in nurturing your children, and helping keep up the home. She works hard all day while you are working hard all day. In her eyes, it is unloving for you to relax all night while she works through until bedtime (and all night too sometimes). If you are the type of husband who takes all evening off from responsibilities while your wife is toiling over child and house care, expect her to be too tired and stressed to enjoy love making when you go to bed. If you want your wife to have any hope of being relaxed and happy when she goes to bed, you’re going to have to help her finish her responsibilities in time to relax with you for a while! Make the “chariot” of your home a comfortable place in which your wife may journey through life with you! IMG_1892
(I don’t suppose a carriage like King Solomon’s exists on earth today, but these two are from the royal carriage house in St. Petersburg, Russia.)


The Armstrong Archives (86): Vacation with a Three-Week Old

IMG_7824Thursday, April 10, 1980 Hi! Hope you are having a good trip home, Mom, and that you will have a really happy reunion with Dad! Poor little Michael cried most of the way home after we dropped you off, and then when we got home he went to “Grammy’s room” and cried again. Six weeks is quite long enough to have settled comfortably into having another permanent member of the family, and we will all be very lonesome for quite a while. As Alan said, the only advantage in having Mom leave is that Dad will get his wife back, so we have to be glad for that!

Thanks from the bottom of our hearts to both of you for such a long term of sacrificial giving, loving, and care-taking. It is great to be able to start off feeling happy and pretty strong instead of depressed and exhausted.

You must have been praying for us on the way home, Mom, because Michael, Jonathan, and I all fell asleep from 8 pm-10:15 am this morning and Aaron played by himself…absolutely amazing, no?! So, I’ve been feeling just fine today.IMG_7829[This was the morning Aaron made himself a bowl of cereal on his own. When I got up, there was a slushy bowl of sugar and milk on the counter. I thanked him for letting me sleep in and then asked him how he liked his cereal. His eyebrows knitted a little, “I couldn’t finish it all…I couldn’t remember if you put in one spoon or one cup of sugar!” What a cutie!]IMG_7839Wednesday, April 23, 1980 [Postcard from Ormond Beach, FL] So far everything has just been super. The boys haven’t had a single fight since we started!?! We drove straight through; it took twenty-five hours.IMG_7831 The beach is gorgeous and the waves really big and fun, although we can’t get the boys to come out very far.IMG_7833 Jon sleeps in your carriage on the shore, and we build lots of castles. There’s also a gorgeous pool. We have a balcony with an ocean view for evening after the boys go to sleep. Sunday we went to Cape Kennedy and Monday to Disney World. The boys went WILD over Disney. What fun! Wish you were both here too!IMG_7838[It isn’t reflected in this cheery postcard, but Jonathan was carted around Disney World and rode on “Star Jets” when he was just 3 weeks old…rather insane both for mother and child, although we did survive!] IMG_7841Friday, April 25, 1980 [Postcard from Marineland] We have certainly enjoyed our vacation here! The weather has been about 75-85° and clear almost every day. We went to Marineland yesterday and visited St. Augustine. We are all a little sunburned and trying to keep out of the sun in the heat of the day, so we tour some then. J.J. can smile now!

Friday, May 2, 1980 [Letters now take a $0.15 stamp.] Alan’s back on the wards. He always finds it a little depressing at first, so many critically and/or terminally ill patients! He found it especially hard after such a relaxing vacation. He thoroughly enjoyed emergency medicine and has had some thoughts of switching from internal medicine to emergency.

Our trip was just super. The boys keep asking when we can go back or if we can just live there forever! I think Alan would like that too. You two really ought to visit and at least think about it as a potential candidate if you ever decide to relocate.

May 8, 1980 “Mothers are a gift from God.” “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17 Happy Mother’s Day! We started studying the Book of Romans in the ladies’ Bible study. It’s my turn to teach now that Baby Cakes is six weeks old. I’ve really enjoyed studying. The teacher always learns the most!

…Gotta go! Jon’s in my arms—screaming in my ear for lunch. Michael’s machine-gunning Aaron… IMG_7813



More Puns for Fun

Joke about PiThose who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.

A man’s home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.

Dijon vu – the same mustard as before.

Shotgun wedding – a case of wife or death.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.

When two egotists meet, it’s an I for an I.

A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two tired.

In democracy your vote counts.  In feudalism your count votes.

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia – the LAN down under.

Every calendar’s days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted. Taint yours and taint mine.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

Once you’ve seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.

Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture is a jab well done.

“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15).

Birds or Babies…

IMG_6472So, my “pet” rose-breasted grosbeaks posed for dozens of pictures for my DSCN2201Thursday bird identification post, but Kathy’s kids DSCN2384have been doing a great job of posing too!DSCN2206 I got to thinking about the fact that the birds I have with me always, DSCN2260but my kids and the grand kids…not so much! DSCN2303Plus, they’re even cuter than birds (at least to me)! DSCN2291  So, if you’ll indulge an old Nana, DSCN2232 I might dedicate this post to commemorating DSCN2274 a few of our favorite activities this week, and my joy in seeing Kathy as a mom.DSCN2236Riverside Park along the Grand River is full of geese to chase right now. DSCN2258Huff Park is a great place for kids to explore, DSCN2285although you need flip flops if you want to take the nature trail today! 🙂 DSCN2336The GR township park is loaded with great playground equipment and kids…DSCN2347and if you bring your Nana along, adults can even play tennis for a while! DSCN2322Riding Sandy makes shopping at Meijer for a few items pretty painless. DSCN2367 How well I remember Kathy riding Sandy when she was just that age! DSCN2262And, she loved bubbles…and riding in this very row boat… DSCN2320and playing with the baby legos with her little brothers…DSCN2295and  sleeping like a baby after a big day of play! There’s just something so precious about seeing your kids grow up and become parents, isn’t there?!!DSCN2268“God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land” (Psalm 68:6).

Grace Unplugged

Grace UnpluggesIf you’re like me, and the message of the movie is more important to you than having a star-studded cast…and you like the message that seeking God’s pleasure and approval is more important than becoming famous…then you’d probably enjoy this sweet story about an 18-year-old girl who chooses fortune over family and starts a quest to discover what she truly values in life.

Released last fall by Lionsgate Films (but just out to video lately), Grace Unplugged stars A.J. Michalka who actually started her own acting career at age 9 as the lead in a church musical! Although she’s only 23 now, Amanda Michalka is a songwriter with a powerful, melodious voice and is a star in her own right. I thought she did an admirable job portraying the emotional conflicts of a young woman trying to find her place both in this world and within the Kingdom of God.

Although the story is completely fictitious, there is a long list of famous singers who started their career by singing in church, including Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson from my generation, but more recently Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery, Jordan Sparks, and several others. I don’t know how kids make their choices, but I’ve been glad for the many gifted musicians who’ve chosen to spend their lives worshiping God through music, and I’m grateful for the rich tapestry of songs now available to the Christian community. I also appreciate the tremendous effort that some of the larger churches around our country have been putting into creating movies that deal with current issues and have happy endings. Most inspiring!

“And there was given him [the Son of Man, Jesus] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)