Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Special Friends & Difficult Times

There is an awesome picture that is just begging for a blog post.  So let me start at the beginning.  My friends the Gowler’s are going through a difficult time right now.  Travis is the same age as my youngest brother Wesley (about 21).  He was recently diagnosed with cancer.

This is what his sister Michelle (we were in the youth group together…it seems like eons ago…) wrote on Facebook on August 22:

“Apparently my brother has known something was weird since Christmas break this last year. But it wasn't until this past Monday that he talked to the Dr. about it. So this week things have been taken care of quickly. He was diagnosed with cancer on Wednesday and had surgery on Friday afternoon. The cancer was confirmed as being nonseminomal meaning it is a fast-growing, fast-spreading cancer. The doctors say he will probably need further treatment and maybe another surgery even if it hasn't spread. He will have a PET scan tomorrow to see if it has spread. Results from both the PET scan and all the pathology reports should be in by Wednesday for his follow up apt with the Dr. The cure rate for this cancer is very high even if it has spread. It may be a couple rough months ahead though.

“Please continue to pray for my brother that God would encourage him and draw him closer to Himself. Please pray for my mom that she will have wisdom as well. Also pray for my whole family that we will trust God's sovereignty and rely on His grace.  God is good ALL the time and His will cannot lead us where His grace will not keep us!”

Travis began his second round of chemotherapy this week.  He is supposed to have another test this week to determine whether the chemo is being effective or not. 

That brings me to the picture…my brother and a couple of Travis’ friends at church decided to shave their heads in support of Travis at this time.  I just think that is great!

The bald guys Wayne Anderson, Seth Bacon, Travis Gowler, and Wesley Godby

Would you add Travis to your prayer list and remember to pray for him?  I know that he and his family will appreciate it!

Elaine’s new scooter…

I went “dumpster diving” this week and scored a baby gate (well, three of them) and a little scooter for Elaine.  The scooter is a Radio Flyer and it says “Aiden” on the seat.  We can paint over that!  Elaine is just barely tall enough to walk along with the scooter, and she is not coordinated enough to steer yet.  This results in a lot of collisions!  Nevertheless, she loves being on it.  Here are a few pictures from this morning – I got some great smiles!

Elaine 10 months on scooter

Elaine 10 months on scooter

Elaine 10 months on scooter

Elaine 10 months on scooter

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Priority of a Devotional Life

“The more I think of and pray about the state of religion in this country, and all over the world, the deeper my conviction becomes that the low state of the spiritual life of Christians is due to the fact that they do not realize that the aim and object of conversion is to bring the soul even here on earth to a daily fellowship with the Father in heaven.

“When once this truth has been accepted, the believer will perceive how indispensable it is to the spiritual life of a Christian to take time each day with God’s Word, and in prayer to wait upon God for His presence and love to be revealed.”

~Andrew Murray

I was reminded of the words of the second verse of Like a River Glorious by Francis Ridley Havergal:

Hidden in the hollow
Of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow
Never traitor stand.
Not a surge of worry,
Not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry
Touch the spirit there.

Chorus:
Stayed upon Jehovah
Hearts are fully blest,
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.

May these thoughts bless you today!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Big Oops!

I have been trying to teach Elaine words like “hot” and “dirty” so she knows why she can’t touch something.  The other day she was getting into the trash so we worked on “dirty” a lot. 

Then Ben came home.  He had been stripping furniture all day, and he was filthy!  Elaine was so very excited to see him!  She scooted over to him as fast as she could, letting out happy shouts the whole way.  However, Ben could not pick her up.

Mommy (that’s me) offered this explanation to Elaine.  “Daddy is dirty.  He’s can’t touch you.  He’s just like the trash.” Oops!  I didn’t mean that Ben is trash, but that’s how it came out.  I have been reminded of my boo-boo every day since then.

He may be dirty, but I still love him! Danielle Visits NYC - Central Park

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Kitchen Makeover

Yesterday I got the inspiration and motivation to reorganize my kitchen.  There was a cabinet in the corner when we moved in to this apartment.  It is pretty wobbly, the drawer doesn’t work, and one of the glass doors doesn’t stay closed.  On top of everything, it makes the room feel cluttered.  Ben made a passing comment that I could probably get rid of it.  That was my inspiration and the little shove I needed to get moving!

Here are the before pictures:

The kitchen makeover This is the cabinet to be eliminated

The kitchen makeoverWe also have a microwave cart and butcher block in the kitchen.  I only have one bottom cupboard and one counter, so the butcher block is a necessity!

I started out by going through all of my other cabinets and eliminating items that have been hanging around for a while.  I also made a pile of the kitchen dishes, utensils, and gadgets that I don’t use very often.  I was able to fit all of my baking items into the other cupboard.  I reorganized my pots & pans and fit my oils and vinegars into that cupboard.  (That is where I like them anyway.  The downside is that Elaine likes to play in that cupboard). The “extra” items that I have stocked up on (like mayo, mustard, peanut butter, etc.) went up on the overhead shelf with my home canned goods.

Elaine enjoyed the entire process!  She was crawling into empty cupboards, commandeiring bottles of vegetable oil, and smearing the silverware over the entire kitchen floor. 

The kitchen makeover

When I vacated the stepstool, Elaine quickly filled my spot.  I turned around, and she was standing on the top step smiling at me!

The kitchen makeover

I took a break to put Elaine down for a nap.  Now that the cabinet was empty I thought I was nearly done.  Wow!  The work had only just begun! I pushed, pulled, and scooted the old cabinet out of the kitchen.  Then I discovered that the microwave cabinet would fit nicely in that spot.  When I began rearranging, I discovered mounds of cheerios, clothespins, and even a spare pacifier!  After sweeping, vacuuming, and cleaning it was finally done. 

I also used a shelf that was already hanging on the wall for my spices.  It has been empty since we arrived.  Now it is useful!

The kitchen makeover

I even repurposed the recycling drawers for my dishtowels and the silverware.  This left me without a recycling storage bin, but we can just run things outside as we use them.  We need the exercise anyway, right?  And Ben is a very happy husband to finally have the silverware in a drawer.  (By the way, I did wash all of the silverware before putting it away.  Who knows how many times Elaine has thrown them in the floor or sucked on them!).

The kitchen makeover

Finished product:

The kitchen makeover

The kitchen makeover

Final cost: $4.95
(I had to buy a smaller silverware organizer to fit in the drawer)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

30 Day Media Reduction Challenge – Getting Back to Basics

Last week I posted in my Facebook status that I was taking a 30 day break from Facebook.  I would like to share more details and elaborate just a little bit!

Facebook First, I know that I spend way too much time on Facebook.  Most of it is time wasted, and very little is profitable. 

Secondly, during the last couple of weeks I have heard several admonitions about being careful with Facebook, and the dangers.  While I am not as easily swayed as younger teens, I realize that there are a lot of varying influences on Facebook.  Sometimes it may just be a friend of a friend, but there is a bit of language on Facebook that is inappropriate.  I have had to “hide” several people on my friend list because of the types of things that they say and post. 

Thirdly, I have been discouraged to see the things that professing Christians “like” on Facebook.  Many of the movies and things listed as their interests make me ashamed.  I am embarrassed that they publicly admit to being involved in ungodliness and worldliness.  (And I am not perfect – don’t get me wrong!)

Last week I was catching up on my Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  In the series “Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild” she set forth the 30 Day Media Reduction Challenge.  I immediately thought, “I need to do that,” but I hesitated.

Over the weekend a friend closed her Facebook account for several of the reasons I have already listed.  I enjoyed her posts – from Scripture to Bible Study recaps to answers to prayer.  The fact that she was willing to take such a bold stand in her conviction about Facebook pushed me over the edge.  I am at least taking a 30 day break, but I may not come back! 

Additionally, our church is preparing for a week long soul-winning TVclinic at the end of the month.  In preparation, our pastor has asked us to take a TV and media fast.

For those who are interested in taking the 30 Day Media Challenge yourself, here are the details and a link to the website.  If you sign up you will receive 6 emails over the course of the 30 days encouraging you to stay on track!

Some statistics: the average woman listens to or is exposed to 70 hours of mass media a week (from television and radio, video games, Internet, iPod, women's magazines, newspapers, movies).  Translated over a lifetime, if your daily intake of TV, Internet, radio, and women's magazines is about average, by the time you are 65, you will have spent 40 solid years of all day, everyday time sitting under the tutelage of worldly wisdom.

The problem is those messages—worldly media tells lies about:

  • womanhood
  • relationships
  • what will give us significance
  • how we should live
  • how we should conduct ourselves in our relationships
  • the right kind of behavior that we ought to aspire to

HERE’S THE CHALLENGE:

TURN OFF…
Unplug your TV, Cable, DVD, Video Games, Internet Surfing, and Radio. cell phone

TRIM BACK…
Curtail your Text Messaging, Emailing, and Social Networking.

TUNE IN…
Nurture your Relationships with Family, Friends, and with the Lord

I am taking a break from Facebook.  I still have to administrate the fan page for our diaper business.  And I have to check the business email.  I already enjoyed some time over the weekend just reading other blogs.  That’s how I got started blogging in the first place! I look forward to finishing a couple of books also.  We don’t text message, and we will probably cut way down on our movies (although Friday night is usually our movie night).  Will you take the challenge with me?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Family Fun Night

The other night Elaine and I took a late afternoon nap.  It was on a day when Ben works until 8pm.  Elaine doesn’t usually get to see him on those days, so I decided she could stay up until Daddy got home.  She had a lot of energy, and we ended up playing together unti 10pm! 

Ben ate his dinner while we were playing.  Elaine really wanted a second helping of fried rice, so she took four little steps – all by herself! – to get over to Ben.  Then she tried to be a big girl and feed herself with the adult fork!

Elaine 10 months water cup
Then she decided that Mommy’s cup of water looked better than her sippy cup, so she helped herself.  She was doing pretty good until she tipped the cup too high.  She got a face, mouth, and nose full of water!  You should have seen the look of surprise!  Not to be deterred, she tried again.  In the end, she settled for sticking her hand into the cup to play in the water.

Elaine 10 months water cup

Elaine 10 months water cup
We finished the night off with cookies.  Still trying to act grown-up, Elaine took a whole cookie and nearly finished it off by herself!

Elaine 10 months water cup

Her red Rumparooz diaper just makes her even cuter!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Elaine’s Best Friend

Elaine has this bunny.  Actually, it is a bunny head with a soft & satiny blanket for a body.  She received it as a gift in the hospital.  Bunny became her best friend.  She loves the feel of the satin edging.  We were always so careful when Bunny went on outings with us.  “Do you still have Bunny?”  we would ask, about a thousand times a day.  (A slight exaggeration). 

Last week there was a tragedy in our family.  While walking home from teh print shop, I got a phone call.  I didn’t pay attention.  Elaine dropped Bunny.  When we returned home and I realized Bunny was gone, I had an Anne Shirley moment (the depths of despair).  Though we retraced our steps several times, even checking the garbage cans, Bunny was no where to be found. 

We tried a couple of substitutes, but none was quite right.  I tracked down where Bunny was purchased, but the shop no longer carries the item.  The nice lady did know the brand, and that resulted in a purchase from Amazon.  Finally, a box arrived.  When Elaine opened it, she was elated!  Bunny is back again.  And so…clean!

Elaine 10 months The arrival of new Bunny

Elaine 10 months The arrival of new Bunny

A new family rule has been instituted – Bunny is not allowed on any more walks!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lessons from a Leaky Diaper

FuzziBunzDiapers Tuesday night around 11:30 pm Elaine awoke.  She is teething, and I assumed she just needed some more relief tablets to go back to sleep.  I discovered that she was soaked, along with her sheet and blanket, and stuffed animal.  I was puzzled.  It did not smell like spit-up, and there was too much dampness for it to be sweat.  I concluded it was her diaper.  For some reason, when she wet, it all went everywhere except into the diaper.

Now for those of you who know me well, you understand that I am addicted to cloth diapers.  I even sell cloth diapers online.  In fact, I think cloth diapers are perfect.  They are better for my baby, they save me tons of money, and they are just stinkin’ cute.  So I was really dismayed to encounter a problem which was causing my cloth diapers not to work.  As I struggled to find, and then fix, that problem the next day, I realized some things about my own heart.  I learned some spiritual lessons from that leaky cloth diaper.  I hope you don’t think it’s too weird…I want to share them with you.

FB-onesize-crushedberries200A little bit of background on these diapers is in order.   These diapers have a fleece lining that quickly wicks the moisture away from the baby’s bum and into a thirsty microfiber insert beneath.  If  you are not careful, you can get build-up and residue from detergent, rash creams, and hard water deposits.  These residues prevent the liquid from soaking into the microfiber, and therefore they leak.

Around midnight as I was testing my diapers to see if they were absorbing liquid, I was very dismayed.  I thought, “How could this happen?  All of a sudden, and to every diaper I own?”  Then I realized that it didn’t happen all of a sudden.  The residue has been slowly building up over time until the problem could no longer be hidden. 

Isn’t that the way sin is?  We let it creep in.  A little compromise here, a small thing there.  One bad word in that TV show, but it’s still okay to watch.  And before you know it, you don’t notice the cursing at all.  A little less time in my devotions – it’s not that big of a deal… Until you stop reading your Bible completely.  We cannot allow the little sins to develop into strongholds for the enemy in our lives.  “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6b)

The next thing I did was obsess. I couldn’t stop thinking, “What caused this problem?  Where did I go wrong?  Why wasn’t I more diligent?”  It was a lot of work trying to get my diapers clean.  With each wash cycle I was just hoping that now the problem would be fixed.  And then I realized that sometimes in my spiritual life, I do recognize sin.  I see the result of the “little areas” that I let go in my life.  But I try to fix the problem in my own strength.  “There.  Is that enough Lord?  I’m trying so hard.  Why can’t I have victory?”  It takes work and effort to keep our lives in-tune with the Savior.  The good news for the Christian is that we don’t do it alone.  We have the supernatural enabling of God residing within us.  His name is the Holy Spirit.  We can have total victory over sin when our strength comes from Him. (1Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 2:14; Phil. 4:13)

After many wash cycles and attempts to “strip” the residue from my precious diapers, I was finally hanging them out on the line to dry.  I looked at all of those diapers, and I thought about the money that would be involved if I had to replace them.  “I didn’t take enough care to protect my investment.  I left the Downy ball in the washer too many times.  I accidentally used the wrong detergent.  There was cream on the wipes.” 

Clothesline diaper header

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  From my time in Hebrew class with Ben, I remember that the word for “diligence” doesn’t really exist in the original language.  The word for ‘keep’ is in an intensive verb form, meaning to ‘guard or watch.’  It’s more like you keep! . To give us the best English meaning, the King James translators gave us ‘diligence’ in place of the exclamation mark.  It takes work, but we need to use diligence as we keep our heart free from sin and evil influences.  It is our “investment” so to speak.  It is costly to repair.  When we let down our guard and sin creeps in, there will be scars.  It will take work to fix the relationship and raze the enemy’s stronghold. 

Diaper Stash Pictures It would have taken only moments of time for me to test my diapers for residue build-up, maybe on a weekly basis.  Then I could have caught the problem earlier.  Maybe one extra wash cycle would have eliminated any residue.  Because I neglected to be on guard, I used a lot of extra water, time, and frustration trying to correct the problem.

Maybe it seems silly to learn spiritual lessons from a leaky cloth diaper.  But it was good for me to ponder on these things in my own life today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Elaineisms

I wrote about Broolynisms here, but it was too long so I didn’t finish.  This is the conclusion of the story – Elaineisms!

Elaine 9 months smiling Can I start by saying that being a mommy is the bestest job in the world?  Never a dull moment, and so many happy ones!  Elaine is growing up so fast (I know…every mom says that, right?)  Yesterday was filled with new discoveries and I laughed so much!  This is how it went…

I stepped into the living room to find Elaine playing with her puzzles.  The bottom dresser drawer was open just a crack, and she had stuffed all of her puzzle pieces in the hole.  She did it again this morning!  Apparently she thinks that is where they belong.

Next Elaine left me in the kitchen and crawled back into the bedroom.  Or so I thought.  I couldn’t find her!  Then I spotted them…two little legs sticking out from under the shirts on the drying rack.  She was quite entertained playing amongst the wet clothes!

Elaine and I made zucchini bread yesterday.  I set her on the washing machine and gave her a bowl and some measuring cups.  This is what she did:

Daddy taught her that trick!

While preparing dinner, I heard Elaine in the hallway.  Earlier in the morning I discovered that she can crawl down the first step.  When I went to check, I found that she had crawled up into the umbrella stroller.  She was just standing there, having a great time!

Elaine 10 months in Stroller

Since it was close to bedtime Elaine was not very happy to be playing alone while I washed dishes.  She wanted to be held.  The compromise?  I brought in a chair and she helped me wash the dishes.

Elaine 10 months washing dishes 

Last week, I dropped the hot curling iron, and Elaine was playing at my feet.  She has second degree burns.At bedtime we have to change the bandage on Elaine’s burn.    Elaine has watched me do this many times.  Now she tries to unroll the tape and “help” me do it!

   Elaine's Curling Iron burn 9 months  KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And to finish it up, I’ll tell you about breakfast today.  I put her in the highchair with some zucchini bread and cheerios, and a sippy cup of juice.  As I was working on the computer, I watched her eat a Cheerio, take  a drink, and then try so very hard to get her cup back into the cup holder on her tray. 

One more video to finish up…Elaine got a little dolly stroller because she is always pushing around the big stroller.  Watch her do it:

Let’s see what adventures today will bring…

Brooklynisms

This post is about isms.  Specifically, Brooklynisms and Elaineisms.  Just some random thoughts and funny moments about this life in New York City with a ten-month-old-afraid-of-nothing-little-girl.  I’ll start with Brooklyn.

NYC Brooklyn Bridge with the Hamiltons Some things about life in the “Big City” still surprise me and catch me off guard.  For instance, a trip to Target to save a little money turns into a three hour experience.  You have to sit in traffic to get there, and then find an empty spot in the parking garage.  Then you have to take an elevator, and then the sky-walk to get over to Target.  Then you have to collapse the stroller and put it in your shopping cart.  And since you’ve only been to this store a few times, you will still get lost about a dozen times before you find all of the items on your list.  Once you find the items, you must stand in line at a price-scanner to find out how much they cost (because this Target doesn’t do price-tags).  You have to put your cart on the cart-escalator-thingy and go upstairs to find the baby department.  Then you have to put your cart on the cart-escalator-thingy to go back downstairs.  When you arrive downstairs, you discover that Elaine is missing a shoe.  You have to go back up the escalator to look for it.  And don’t forget to get cash back to pay for the hour and a half your car has been in the garage!

When you get home you have to double park in front of your house,Brooklyn Brownstone  unload the baby into the house, and unload the groceries into the house.  All of this up two flights of steps.  Then you load the baby back into the car and go drive around for a half hour in search of a parking space.  When you find parking, the baby has just fallen asleep.  You must wake her up and load her into the stroller to walk a couple of blocks back to your house. 

I’m a person that likes to do everything at once.  If I’m clearing the dinner dishes, I try to take everything in one trip.  I have learned in Brooklyn that I have to make lots of little trips.  One day we go to the meat market.  One day we go to the Post Office.  One day we go to the store for milk.  Because the fact of the matter is…I cannot carry all of those things, push a stroller, and keep my sanity at the same time!

Parking is another thing.  For all of my New York readers, you can just laugh at me right here.  But I still have parking issues!  When we arrived here, I would get all over Ben’s case if he parked too close to a car.  I didn’t want the other car to “bump” us on his way out.  Now, if I see a parking spot…on my street…that I might have a slim chance of fitting into…I take it.  Yesterday I bumped the car behind me and in front of me getting into my spot.  Did I leave a Danielle visits NYC, Brooklyn Bridgenote on the windshield?  Nope.  Someone will do it to me sometime, and they won’t leave a note either.

You also don’t want to get a parking ticket around here.  I was walking home the other day when suddenly this man came flying out of a store shouting, “No!  Wait!”  Why?  His meter was up, and the parking cop was writing him a ticket.  Even when he flicked a quarter in the slot and begged, “C’mon, man” (which wasn’t the best choice of words as he was talking to a lady), it was to no avail.  He got the ticket.

While we’re talking about cars, let me mention Manhattan.  While I do not have personal experience in this area, Ben drives there almost every day to make deliveries.  He tells me stories of Park Avenue.  There are three lanes.  One lane people park in.  One lane people double park in.  And one lane you can sometimes drive in.  If they are not doing construction.  It took Ben an hour and half to go a couple of miles because they had two lanes shut down!

Then there is the diversity.  This is the thing that drew me to the Danielle Visits NYC - Statue of Liberty and NYC SkylineCity.  Yet it still surprises me!  While shopping at Target I can hear the Orthodox Jewish boys discussing deodorant in Hebrew, the Asian lady yelling at her kids in Chinese over by the tissues, and I hear Russian over in the hardware section.  It’s so cool!

Well, this post has become rather long, so I will write about Elaine another time.  Sorry to disappoint you!  I hope it wasn’t too boring.  The moral of the story is that if you have a driveway, or a non-crowded street where you get to park your car…in the same place…every time – be grateful!  And if Target or…{gasp} Wal-Mart are a stone’s throw from your house, enjoy it! Someday you might find yourself living in the Big City too! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Cookie Dunk

Elaine’s newest favorite food is chocolate chip cookies.  It’s my fault.  And because I am always dunking my cookies in milk, Elaine likes hers that way too.  This is how it goes…

How to Enjoy a Chocolate Chip Cookie
by Elaine Hamilton

Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunkStep 1: Snatch one of Mommy’s cookies 

Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunk 
Step 2: dunk cookie in milk.

Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunk
Step 3: test cookie.  Hmmmm.  Needs more milk!

Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunk 
Step 4: dunk again.

Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunk
Step 5: dribble milk on the floor.  DO NOT skip this step!  It’s necessary…Mommy has to have something to do all day!

Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunkStep 6: Smile for Mommy’s picture.  She’ll be happier that way! 
  Elaine 9 months chocolate chip cookie dunk
Step 7: Lick fingers.  Mommy’s cookies are just that good!