Thursday, April 23, 2009

The best thing since...

Last Saturday Emily and I did a bit of garage sale shopping, and in addition to adding more items to her summer wardrobe, I also found a fabulously chatty old lady selling a bread maker.  Eric and I have talked about getting one (a bread maker, not a fabulously chatty old lady) for awhile, so I scooped it up.  I know that bread makers have been around for quite some time, and I've understood - in theory - how they work.  But I tell you I was still absolutely STUNNED when I put my ingredients into a small canister (without even so much as mixing them), closed the lid, and a few hours later had a wonderful smelling, fresh loaf of bread!  Seriously, that was way too easy for how good it tastes!  Last night we even made pizza dough, and had a wonderful (and healthy) pizza topped with tomatoes, onion, and spinach.  Who knew my happiness could be bought with a new $5 toy?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All done!

As it turns out, videos of Emily are rather popular, so I figured I'd add one more while I'm at it. Her vocabulary is expanding pretty quickly these days, so I'm mostly writing this down for my own benefit, but the list of words that she says includes hi, bye bye, juice, ball, baby, uh-oh, book, shoes, ma ma and da da. And, of course, her first two word phrase which is, as the video shows, "all done!" She first learned to sign this phrase, and the sign for all done is to wave both hands in the hair and move your palms back and forth. She still half-heartedly does it, but I think the words are much cuter.



Despite her obvious interest in cell phones, Eric and I have been doing our best to keep them out of Emily's reach since she was very tiny. It's understandable then, that she could hardly believe her good fortune when we handed her a cell phone of her very own today. Eric found a really inexpensive one on eBay, so our 15-month-old daughter is suddenly looking pretty technologically savvy. I wanted to get a video of her talking on the phone, but instead my cell phone starting ringing causing a little bit of confusion and this pretty cute video!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring has sprung!

With the Easter weekend, warmer temperatures, and sunny weather this week, spring has officially hit west Michigan, and not a moment too soon if you ask me (or Emily).  Here are some pictures from this past weekend and playing outside together yesterday.  Our little girl is growing up so fast.  You should see how quickly she can toddle when she's outside.  It's going to be a long summer of "chase" - that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Matter of Life and Death

Just a quick warning: this post isn't filled with cute Emily pictures, and lighthearted chatter about her personality.  Instead, it's a way for me to process some of my thoughts, and to share them.

I've been thinking about death a lot lately.  Perhaps this isn't surprising.  We recently celebrated the Easter holiday; a time to remember and be thankful for the death and resurrection of Jesus.  A time to be in awe - again - of just how deep God's love is for us, that He would sacrifice His only son for our salvation, when we are only sinners who mess up time and time again.  I never got the depth of that until I had my own baby, about how much pain it would cause me to give her up to anyone for any reason, and to realize that it caused God just as much suffering to hand His son over to those who would crucify Him.

I thought about death on Easter morning, when our Pastor preached about the new earth.  About how "Emmanuel" means "God with us", and not the other way around.  About how one day, God will be here.  Heaven will be here.  And there will joy and laughter and dancing and peace and, if you believe our pastor, perhaps even kayaking and good home-cooked ribs.  And perhaps death isn't as scary as I've made it out to be.  Perhaps the intermediate heaven will be nothing compared to the new earth.  Perhaps God is so much better than I've been able to imagine.

And that's a good thing, because there are a few people I know who need this blessed assurance.  I read about the Spohr family, and my heart breaks.  I weep with them, this family who I don't know, because I can't imagine how to do what they are doing.  I read about Stellan and I pray, because having Emily in the hospital for so long, without answers, would be unbearable.  I know friends struggling with illnesses and diseases but in the midst of my sadness I must praise the Lord.  I must praise Him because He know our hearts, because He weeps with us, because He blesses us in the midst of our sorrows and, one day, because of Jesus' own life and death, we'll be united with God and those we loved and lost, for eternity.  Praise the Lord for His triumph over death, that we may live (and laugh and dance) forever.

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Fifteen Months!

Dear Emily,

Oh my goodness, have you learned how to exploit your cuteness this month! You've always been adorable, but I think you are beginning to realize it just a little bit, and use it to get what you want. For example, if you want to go outside and play, you will walk up to me with your shoes, a huge smile, and a little bit of a gleam in your eye. Are you excited at the possibility of putting on your shoes AND getting to go "bye bye"? Absolutely. But, I think there's a little more to it than that.

Your ability to play is improving as well. You love peek-a-boo with great fervor. There are two forms of this game. The first involves me asking where Emily is and you putting your hands on your head (not over your eyes, but generally somewhere around your ears) as if this somehow hides you. Then you'll move them and wave them in the air in great dramatic fashion so I can proclaim "there she is"! The second way to play is if you can run around a corner to hide yourself from my view and then toddle back out. You love both versions equally. I also attempt patty cake with you, and you'll clap and slap my hands with some regularity, though not much rhythm at this point. You also usually start laughing hysterically, causing an onslaught of the hiccups which you always get when you laugh too hard.

Your eating has improved a good deal recently, and you have added cantaloupe, peaches, and pineapple to the fruits you will consume (a big improvement over just bananas). We're still working in the vegetables, but I'm thinking if I hide them in a bread or muffin, it might fool you. Zucchini bread perhaps? Or carrot muffins? And, the whining at mealtimes has also decreased as your signing has become impeccable. You initiate signs for more and all done with a good deal of consistency - I don't even have to prompt you by asking you if you want more, you just sign all by yourself.

Your communication is improving all the time. You know right where to go when we tell you it's time to change your diaper, take a bath, eat, etc. And you are saying uh-oh, baby, hi, ju (for juice), dada, and mama fairly clearly and regularly. You also say "uhn doo" a LOT, but I don't know what it means yet. We are starting to work on animal sounds, but so far almost every animal makes a monkey sound. Except for a lion, you can usually do the lion roar. And, we are also working on body parts a bit. You are very good at identifying eyes on your baby, and sometimes even on yourself when I ask you where Emily's eyes are, though sometimes you almost poke yourself.

The warmer weather seems to have improved your overall temperament a bit, and perhaps mine as well. I can't wait to enjoy the outside with you this spring and summer, and watch you assert your growing independence on the playground. You are fearless in new situations, and it makes me proud that you are a secure and happy little girl, but also terrified because I can glimpse the day when you will leave and not look back to make sure I'm still there, watching you.

I love you, Emily. I thank the Lord for His enormous blessing.



Indy Adventure

Way back in October, I had the idea to get Eric March Madness tickets for a combined birthday and Christmas surprise.  For those of you who don't know, March Madness + Eric = MUCH HAPPINESS!  I did the research, and decided that Indianapolis made the most sense for us.  True, tickets to the Final Four in Detroit would also have been exciting (and arguably even better), but I wasn't willing to sell a kidney to make that happen.  Instead, we would watch two sweet sixteen games on a Friday night, and spend a little time exploring a new city that was only about a four hour drive away.  Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Plantinga, who agreed to watch Emily, we were able to embark on our Indy adventure this past weekend.  What a treasure to spend so much quality time together!  We both remarked on the way home that we had forgotten (just a little) how much we truly enjoyed one another.

Here are a few pictures from our time in Indy: