Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Copy Cat

Micah is so darling at this age that I have to record some of the things he is doing at 2 years and 3 months to be exact. I would best describe him as a copy cat.  Everything that is spoken to him, he repeats the last word. 
 If I say, "Do you want to eat?" He will say "Eat!"  
If I say, "Do you want a spanking?" He will say, "Spanking."

He is a sponge and we can see him soaking up his little world around him.  Language is big right now for him as he repeats everything.  As Olivia listens to her German teacher online, he is repeating the German words too, to the best of his ability.  He listens to our conversations around the table and then re- tells the stories we tell with as much exuberance and hand gestures as possible.  There is no mistaking what he is saying.  

Today I heard one of his older siblings reprimanding him and Micah came running to me to tell me all about it.  He babbled away while hitting the air and adding the word "Stop!" to his jumbled sentence.  I instantly knew he had gotten in trouble for hitting and that his sibling had told him to stop it.

 He is so cute as he doesn't just say "yes" but "yep" nor does he say a boring "no" but a lively "nope!"
I like this picture of him making indentations in the sand with his toes.  

Today Rich killed a bug and I was curiously watching hoping he would get it before it got away.  Normally I'd kill a bug myself but this was a rather large critter.  Micah came peeking around the corner to see.  He said "Ewww!"

Every morning when my alarm goes off I get up and after doing the things all people do when they wake up, I prop up my pillows so I can sit up in bed and read my Bible.  Micah always wakes up around that time and comes in to join me with his blanket.  Yesterday I noticed that he had gotten his own book and propped up a pillow behind him and was turning the pages pretending to read too.

Always watching, always mimicking is the 2 year old.

Micah calls Olivia, La la
AJ is Day Jay
Julia is also La La
Reece is Weecie

Every night before bed he has to give everyone a kiss and hug.  He loves running around the room to each one of his siblings and won't ever forget anyone.  Then when I scoop him up to go tuck him in he yells "Night Night!" to everyone and sometimes "Bye!" as well.

Micah loves eggs cooked any which way.  He gobbles them up and always asks for more.  If he sees us putting salt and pepper on them he has to have the same.

He has learned to jump off of the fireplace hearth and will do it over and over until he is sweaty and out of breath.  I also taught him how to do a summer salt and he tries his best but basically puts his head down on the carpet and then says "Two!" (for 1,2,3) and then falls to one side or the other.  He can't quite push himself over yet but he will do that until he runs out of steam which takes much longer for him than me!

He loves to have his picture taken and usually will say "cheese" and then run to see it in the view finder on your camera.

Last Sunday at church he was making faces at the little boys behind us and then I caught him blowing kisses at them!  He is so affectionate. Not shy at all.  He loves people and warms up to others right away!  One of Olivia girlfriends came over who he doesn't know, and he greeted her at the door with a big "Hi!" and then he held his arms out and said "Hugs?" Kisses always follow hugs so that was the natural next step.  Amazing!

We've never had a child with so much character than this one!  

He was in trouble this morning and came running in my room, paniced.  He yelled "Spank!"  He climbed up on my bed as fast as his little legs could hoist him up.  I said, "Do you need Mom to save you?" His response was a matter of fact "Yep!"

Gotta love this boy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

California- part 2

  Well, I'd like to share some more pictures with you from our trip to California.  When we planned our trip we wanted to show the children 3 things that Texas doesn't have.  One being waterfalls.  The closest waterfall that I know of is in Oklahoma and it can hardly be called a waterfall at a 10 foot drop.  So a few posts ago I shared our pictures from Yosemite.

 The 2nd thing we realized that Texas doesn't have is big trees.  Now I'm in no way trying to complain about Texas because I really like it here but the "woods" here don't even compare to where both Rich and I grew up.  The wooded areas here look more like big scraggly bushes.

 Unfortunately we did not get to go to see the Sequoias but these trees at a local park in San Jose did give us our tree fix just fine.  They were magnificent and this park is not known for it's trees! Big trees are so common there it's no big deal.

 I did not realize how much I took for granted when I lived in California all my life.  

 The 3rd thing we wanted our kids to experience was the ocean.  Now we can go to the ocean here in Texas but it's a long ways away and right now with the oil spill it's all messed up plus it's humid down there near the Mexican gulf.  I do want to go some day but just can't get excited about it yet.

Rich's parents live 30 minutes from Santa Cruz, California.  I can't believe we never took advantage of this place before!  This is not a postcard.  We were really there and enjoyed every minute of it!

We found a parking place right up the street and just walked down to the beach on a 75* day in October!  No fee to get in, no crowds to fight, and God's handiwork everywhere we looked!

 It was a wonderful parenting moment where you get to experience a "wow" moment with your children.  They were stunned to see the vastness of the ocean and waves so big!  They are used to the lake.
 This is every child's dream to be engulfed in white foamy water with nothing but soft sand beneath your feet.
Olivia says she doesn't like to swim in lakes because you never know what's under the water.  This she could get into!

 AJ was obsessed with digging a deep hole and then watching the water either wash over it or fill up from the hole itself!  They dug and dug and then reached water.  Amazing!
He is my science kid!
Of course, Julia was not afraid to get in on the action.  She has always loved dirt and especially mud!

Oops, lost her there for a minute!

We really had to keep track of Micah.  He loved the water and kept wanting to go in it.  We would race to the edge of the tide and then run away so it wouldn't catch us.

 He'll never remember his visit to the beach but we will!  And these pictures are to die for!

 It was a perfect day and so incredibly relaxing.  What beautiful greatness God has made for us to enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

GFA Christmas Gift Video

See how you can bless someone in Asia this Christmas

A Found Sheep

Olivia is our first born child.  She is sweet but stubborn, dramatic but fun, loves a routine but can be flexible in her own timing.  She is 15 and dying to drive.  The past two years, she has been fighting for an independence her parents were not ready to give.  There was a maturity not yet there but we can say she is well on her way to gaining that independence.  The past 2 years have been hard on her and us.  She has been struggling with her faith in God.  She was not tempted by the world in the sense that most teenagers are.  She has no friends that party or drink.  In fact all her friends were pointing her to Christ and praying for her.  Her rebellion was internal.

Surrendering is hard for us all don't you think?  We want to do things our way and not have to depend on anyone.  Olivia's questions were quite mature.  How do you know God is there?  If he's real, why doesn't he answer my prayers?  We gave her all the right answers and met these questions as best as we could but for 2 years it was not good enough.  We resolved to pray for her and build a trusting relationship with her.  Whenever we asked some personal questions about her relationship with God we met with resistance.  A wall would go up.  I can't tell you how hard this was. Mixed with her teenage independence that she so desired, she was also grabbing after an independence from God!

She understood the seriousness of this decision.  No one can walk the wide road and the narrow at the same time.  You can't do all the right things but have a cold heart towards God.

Rich and I struggled with our perfect family not being so perfect.  One of our sheep had strayed.  How could this happen?  We did all we knew to do.  We banned together as a family and prayed, fasted, patiently waited for God to move.  It's been a long two years but God was working the whole time!
Little did we know that he was slowly softening her heart.

Last Friday, October 29th, she surrendered her life to Christ!  She spent the night with a girlfriend, who has been praying for her and through their conversations that night and much praying together, she laid it all down.  She said later that she felt a battle raging within her and that Satan and Jesus were pulling her back and forth.  She had to make a choice.  Of course, she had to choose Jesus for his love is overwhelming!  She came home crying with joy and in awe at how much God loves her.  She was so excited she had to tell ALL her friends.  Her brother, Anthony, was so moved that he began to cry too.  He has been fervently praying for her for so long and God answered his prayer!  His BIG prayer had been answered.  I was stunned because I never saw it coming.  Just goes to show that we need to keep praying even though it appears that those we are praying for are still hardened.

This week has been rough but nothing is as bad as when you try to live without God.  Olivia's attitude has changed.  I can now direct her towards her heavenly Father for help when it's rough and my advice is not falling on deaf ears.  She is eager to know God.  The lost sheep has been found and we are rejoicing!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's a Little Mess?

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with a friend who has 5 little ones.  She was trying to talk to me and her 2 year old at the same time.  She was telling him to not turn on the water and instructing him on how he could play.  Then she turned her attention to me and said, "Do you ever just fill up the sink and let Micah play in the water?"  She was enjoying her little one next to her, talking on the phone, while he played in the sink.  I initially thought, "of course not! You are just asking for a mess. I mean, why make more work for yourself?  Don't I have enough already?"  I didn't say this out loud to her but it was what I was thinking.

Today I let Micah play in the backyard by himself.  It didn't take long and he was into the murky bird bath water.  He came in all wet with soaked and dirty arms up to his elbows.  Of course I had to take off his shirt but before I put on another, I decided he might like to play in some clean soapy water while I washed dishes.

This was new to him and he didn't quite understand what I was setting up.  A stool so he could reach, a towel when he spilled it all down the front of the sink, and a pot full of soapy warm water, a ladle and cup. 

I washed dishes on one side of the sink while he played on the other.  He loved it!  Of course, he did.  I always say that children and water just go together!  Really all the mess I had to clean up was water on the floor.  

I really need to do this more often.  Why should I expect a 2 yr old to look at books all day quietly and play with toys made just for them?  He is wanting to explore the world around him, dirt, water and all!  I'll take a little mess any day knowing he's next to me, safely enjoying life.

Thanks friend, for the idea!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Building Memories

We just returned from a 2 week trip to California where both my husband and I grew up.  The central valley and the Bay area are both interesting and beautiful places to visit.  This was a support trip where we tried to make as many face to face contacts with friends and family who pray and give of their resources for us to be able to work at Gospel for Asia here in Texas.  It was busy and full of wonderful lunch dates, ice cream dates, coffee dates and dinner dates.  I know I gained a few pounds!  We are so grateful to be friends with so many wonderful people who truly love us and care for us.  We really do care for them as well and enjoy their company and the memories we've made together over the years.  I'm grateful that these trips force us to connect with the people we love and wouldn't have it any other way.  What could be years and years of separation due to busy schedules and life taking us in different directions is not happening in our world.  Thanks be to God!

Can you imagine traveling with a family of 7?  Well, maybe you can but this was new for us.  We haven't flown in along time with our whole entire family and with the new luggage rules of paying for every suitcase you check, we had to get advice.  Some friends of ours who also have a large family suggested everyone bring their own carry-on and a back pack.  We actually had to borrow luggage for this.  Anyway, we wound up only having to check one piece of luggage but this meant we had to keep track of and lug with us 7 carry-ons, 7 back packs, 1 car seat, a blanket and binkie, our purses and our ID ready and available. And lets not forget to wear slip on shoes for going through security and NO WATER  in those water bottles!  This made for a terribly stressed out Daddy.  Luckily when my husband gets stressed out he just gets giddy and makes us all laugh. He just starts laughing like a maniac! What else can you do? 

We did take some vacation days as well and wanted to do some site seeing as a family.  Rich and I grew up going to the mountains and the beach every so often and so we wanted to share this with our children.  They are growing up in Texas where there aren't mountains or beaches that are a short distance away.  We took so many pictures that I can't possibly share them all but I hope to pick out a few shots that communicate some of the beautiful sights we visited.

The first week we visited Yosemite National Park.  Rich and I both had been there several times as children and then we honeymooned there when we got married.

This is Half Dome and it is one of the first things you see when you enter the park!  Can you hear the "oohs" and "ahhs" coming from the back seat?
This is the kind of shear granite rock that you see all around Yosemite.  It is really incredibly breath-taking!

 A fun picture we took while hiking up Vernal Falls.  

AJ was in his element for sure! He is a hiker and was ready to do the 12 hour hike up Half Dome!   He is truly a "Spring Chicken" and can out hike all of us!  When we were panting and muscles were burning, he was running because he couldn't get there fast enough!

And this was what he was running to see!
Rich and AJ got up very early in the morning to do this hike.  It took them over 2 hours.
A place called Curry Village is where we stayed inside the park for one night.  These are called tent cabins and consisted of basic beds with metal frames, bedding (that you make yourself). wood floors and a locker outside to put your food in to keep it away from bears.  I have to say it was sufficient enough but I didn't get much sleep since one person in our family was concerned all night about the bears!
Olivia was our photographer the entire time.  She took most of these pictures for us.  With all of her health issues, she did wonderful hiking around the park for which I was grateful.

Julia was quite a trooper even though she was hot most of the time.  We weren't prepared for how warm it was up in the mountains.

We had dinner at this hotel on our honeymoon.  We wanted to show the children this place and peek in on the dining hall.  It's a spectacular place and the gardens surrounding it are gorgeous!
This is the walking path and some of the foliage around the hotel.
I like this picture of Reece because it really depicts his personality.  There seems to always be a hole in the knee of his pants.  He picked this T-shirt from the gift shop and has worn it almost every day since!
Micah loves to get his picture taken and always says "cheeeeese". This is a picture of him saying it.

On our way out of the park we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls.  There wasn't much water falling but it make it nice for rock climbing which our children can get lost for hours doing!

Looks like I'll have to talk about the beach in a later post.  So long for now.  To wrap it up, we'll conclude that Yosemite was a hit and we would definitely go back.  Just hope it's not another 19 years before we get a chance to return!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Going Green?

I'm not sure if we are technically "Going Green" if our motives are for simplicity sake rather than for Mother Earth.  Quite frankly I'm not all about the environment although I'm sure there are good reasons there too to go "simple".  I do hate that we are a country that consumes constantly, always needing new items to satisfy ourselves.  So many of us think used items are second best or lower class or even "unclean" although we know we can wash them and even sterilize them with all the products we have to choose from!

Anyway, with our growing family (as in teenage appetites) and larger budget, I've been brainstorming to think of ways to cut costs.  Years ago I quit buying paper towels and instead we just used paper napkins for things you might use a paper towel for.  We dry our hands with a regular towel and use the weekly newspaper ads to wash windows and mirrors.  So we haven't had paper towels in the house for years.  But. . . those napkins.

Over the past few years I'd learned that most cheap white napkins were bleached with chlorine to get them that nice crisp white color.  So we tried the ugly brown ones that are too pricey to mention and got used to them.  A few times we went back to the generic ones ladened with chemicals and my husband complained that he could actually smell the chlorine when he wiped his mouth.  It bothered him so we just closed our eyes to the price and tried to use them sparingly. But frankly, with 5 kids it's really difficult to use anything sparingly.  I did buy them from a company who sells them at wholesale prices so at least we were getting a discount.  Whenever we would run out of napkins and I didn't want to run to the store just for one item, we would use our cloth ones for a few days.  I was always tempted to just go cloth all the way but didn't really think it would save much with the laundry it takes to wash them and time.  When you give it some thought, how did the pioneers go without paper products?  I mean, for 100's or even 1000's of years we as a people did not use disposable paper napkins!

So I started thinking, if I had about 24 cloth napkins of which I already had 12 with a few random extras maybe bringing my total to 15, I'd only need another set of 6 or so.  If everyone used one napkin a day and we somehow could mark it as that persons, we would only go through 6 a day (Micah doesn't need one of his own yet although he likes to pretend with a wash rag).  That would mean doing a small load of laundry every 4 days.  No big deal.  And we'd never need to buy napkins again?  Really!

I was discussing this with some ladies at church and one gal said her mother-in-law only uses cloth and she marks the napkin ring on the bottom with the first initial of that persons name.  Ooooh, good idea!  Or what we finally decided was easiest for us, was to tie a different color of ribbon on each ring and each child knows which color they are.  I found some napkin rings at a thrift store for $3 for a set of 12 and a bag of ribbon there also.  Don't tell anyone but I think they are actually cloth covered shower curtain rings!  They work perfectly.  Each child is responsible for putting his/her napkin back into the ring after each meal and leaving it at their place.  All my cloth napkins are folded and stacked nicely in a basket with the extra rings in case we have company.

It is very simple and feels good to cut that extra cost of napkins out of the budget!  Another bonus is not having to store large packages of paper napkins.  We would buy them in bulk which is something like 5 packages at a time!  Well now we have extra space for other more important things!

Feeling fancy over here at the Lodi household!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Micah Turns 2

August 16th is Micah's birthday so yesterday he turned 2.  I had nothing huge planned as I usually don't for birthdays.  Quite frankly they stress me out because everyone always throws big parties for their kids and that equals stress in my book. I guess I always feel like I should throw a party but never seem to have the energy or motivation.

    Micah loves balloons so I went down and bought him a balloon bouquet from the grocery store.  He loved it and wouldn't let it go.  We took it to the bathroom with us, to lunch, and almost to bed but I put a halt to that idea!

He was most of the time lost in them or his feet was tangled up in the ribbon.

Here he is with his big sis, Julia.

Julia and Reece are friends with another brother and sister team, their same ages, at church.  Harmony and Arthur were having their birthday party on the same day as Micah's.  It was going to be held at our church and they were inviting the entire family.  So I asked if it would be ok if we brought a cake and had some gifts for Micah too since it was his actual birthday.  They were thrilled with the idea and so was I!  All I had to do was make a cake.

The birthday trio.

I was thrilled with this cake.  I had to find a dairy free/gluten free cake so that Olivia and I could enjoy it too.  I bought a gluten free chocolate cake mix and then a friend gave me a recipe for a peanut butter frosting!  Yum!

I love little hands.

And those big eyes. .  . 

Micah really enjoyed his cake.  He loves sweets.

Micah had a blast with his little friends.  This little girl played with him for hours.
I just happened to get a good shot of them playing peek-a-boo.

After cake, they played chase and Micah laughed and laughed.  He loved it and I was so blessed to see him having so much fun on his birthday!

Here he comes, balloons in hand.

This is Will, another one of Micah's friends.  They play together every Sunday and smile at each other in church because we usually sit in the pew in front of them.

Gift time!  Olivia made Micah a Winnie the Pooh, latch hook pillow.

He doesn't have a pillow so I'm not sure he knew what to do with it.  So I said to him, "Go nite, nite on your new pillow" and this is what he did. . . 

Notice the balloon still in his hand!

He also got a little stuffed monkey and he showed his appreciation by kissing it and then snuggling with it too.

Can you see the little pink monkey under his head?

Our pastor and his wife got him a stuffed puppy dog.

So he was given two new friends.

He decided to love on them both. 

I love that simple things in life excite kids.  I attached this little party blower to his gift and he thought it was great.  He giggled out loud in front of everyone when he figured out how to use it.  

We re-gifted to him a pull toy and some wooden puzzles.  I love re-gifting because that means I don't have to go shopping or spend any money to make my little boy happy.

Micah says, Thank- you for a wonderful birthday to all who made it fun for him.  And now I can focus of Reece's birthday which is tomorrow!