I is for...  Imagination!

Victory Joy is my first baby that I've been able to be home with during the day.  If you've been reading this blog since it's auspicious beginning back in 2006, you'll know that I worked full-time until my middle daughter Mercy Jane was a year old.  So this staying home and raising a baby is new to me even though she's my third child.  I can't say that I've loved every minute of it, but I have definitely treasured every minute of it! 

Now that my baby has turned one, her little imagination is blowing my expectations away.  I don't remember when my other two started imaginary play, but I feel like VJ has started earlier, or at the very least is more advanced right from the start than her sisters were at imagining.  But then again, maybe I don't remember what I'm talking about.

What I do know is that living with Victory right now is so much fun!  I was reading a picture book to her the other day, and she "picked" a leaf off the page and handed it to me.  I'd never seen her do something like this before, so I played along to discover what would happen next.  She placed it in my hand and let me hold it for two seconds, then she took it back and blew on it.  Then she placed it in my hand for another two seconds before taking it back.  She hesitated, not sure how to get rid of it.  She finally dissolved it by rubbing her fingers together over the pretend leaf, and it disappeared. 

She carries her baby with her everywhere.  This is another first for me because Liberty never played with dolls.  Liberty had too many brilliant, active ideas to waste her time caring for a piece of plastic, and since Liberty always had something amazing going on, Mercy joined in her older sister's play instead of messing with dolls.  So watching VJ tenderly care for her little baby pleases me immensely.  Today she fed it a bottle before buckling it into the highchair and shoving a banana into its mouth (which I need to clean out, now).  Yesterday, she overturned an empty laundry hamper and the two of them spent the afternoon together inside its coziness.

One of my other favorite imaginary games VJ plays happens in her crib.  From the living room, I hear squeals and growls as Victory imitates various animal sounds.  Then she begins a conversation with her baby or her stuffed dog in her crib, and it can carry on for 30 minutes or longer some days.  It's very dramatic and entertaining, and some day, when she enunciates better, I'm going to be even more amused.

For now, I'm loving this stage of my baby's life!

H is for... Homework, Hurting, and Healing.

I'm cheating a little by backing up and writing after the fact, but it's my blog, and I get to make the rules, so...I'm not cheating at all.  I'm just catching up!  :-)  See? 

(That's the way the rest of my world should work, too.)

I love watching my girls sitting  in the dining room together to get their homework done after each school day.  There's something so simple... no, uh, sadistic?... no... um, satisfying about seeing your progeny peacefully and industriously engaged.  Well, for as long as the peace lasts anyway.


I mentioned in my October 7th post, that Victory had climbed onto my treadmill while I was running and scraped the skin off the right side of her face.  Well, it turned out to be more serious than that.  Here's what her face looked like about an hour after the incident.  Not very significant-looking, right?  I didn't think so either.

Here's how she looked on Day 2.  My poor little baby.  Still not too bad, though.

But on Day 3, the scabs turned black and grew larger, covering most of her face from eye to chin.  Her skin bubbled up and began peeling off in chunks, then bleeding.  The places not covered by freaky-looking bubbly skin, bloody spots, or charred scabs were an angry infected red.  I panicked.  At that point, I realized she had been burned by the treadmill.  I don't have any pictures of Day 3 because I was too worried about it to take photos. 

The doctor confirmed Victory had been burned and had developed an infection.  She said treadmill burns were fairly common, and she gave us an antibiotic and some burn cream with silver in it.  Silver is a natural antibiotic, so I skipped the med dosage and kept my baby slathered with the silver cream.

Victory enjoyed licking the cream off her face, of course.

The cream began working immediately.  Overnight, the angry red disappeared and the charred chunks began softening until they finally fell off revealing raw pink skin underneath. 

Here's what she looks like today, one week after hugging the treadmill.  She's healing!
G is for...  Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!

My innocent little baby Victory Joy has turned one.  Except she thinks that she has turned two, and so she's doing her very best to live up to the reputation of those terrible two-year-olds.  If I had to rate her performance, I would say she's excelling. 

In addition to all the behavioral boundary challenging that is happening here, Victory is pushing her physical boundaries as well.  She believes no closet, cabinet, or drawer belonging to this house should be  off limits, and EVERYTHING inside those closets, cabinets, and drawers should logically be strewn around the house at all times.  I mean, really, what's the point of having "stuff" if you cannot see all of it at all times whenever you look in any direction?

Yesterday, she took the lava rocks from the fireplace and pushed them into the hole where the key goes to turn on the gas fireplace.  Yeah.  Please imagine with me, my Joy.  Next, she sneaked onto the back of my treadmill while I was running, and the poor baby has no skin left on one side of her face anymore.  Then, she tossed several toys into the toilet and tried to fish them out by herself.

But, look at the cuteness.  (Or actually, don't.  It can be hazardous to your resolve.)

C is for...Captive Audience. 

While driving home from a party last night, I heard the girls in the backseat putting on a play.  "Which vowel are you going to be?" eight-year-old Liberty asked her sister, "I'm A."

"I'll be B," six-year-old Mercy decided.

"No, you have to be a vowel."

"Oh...  I'll be E!  'Cause E's the most powerful!"
"Yeah, and sneaky!" Liberty agreed.  "Okay, we'll be in kindergarten together.  Aaaaaaa," she cooed to her sister.

"EEEEE!" Mercy shouted back.

"No, Mercy!  You don't have any other vowels around you.  We're not close enough yet.  You have to say your short E sound."

"Oh.  Eh."  Mercy responded.





"Okay, pretend we're close enough now," Liberty instructed.


"No, Mercy!  I go first because I'm the first in the word."




"NO, MERCY!  You're the second vowel so you boss me around, but you stay quiet!"

"Oh.   ......"

"Good!  AY!"


"Yes, Mercy!  You're doing it!  AY!"



"I don't want to be second anymore, Lib.  You be the second one."

"Okay.  You go first."






"Okay, you get at the end of the word, now, Mercy."

"I don't want to be at the end.  You go to the end, Lib."

"No, Mercy, you have to be the bossy sneaky E."

"I don't want to.  I have to be quiet if I'm at the end."

"Yeah, but you're BOSSY.  And SNEAKY!"




The play continued, but since you're not as captive of an audience as I was, I'll draw the curtain there.  :-)
Looks like I missed September altogether.  Here's hoping I'll get into a routine for October and start blogging again.  I've decided to continue the monthly challenge idea, and here is October's list.

B is for...BOOYAH!!!

Because I downloaded the couch to 5k app today and completed the first workout!  Tis the dawning of a new era. 

Well, so much for consistent blogging, huh?  I ended up being out of state and away from my computer since the first of August, but I'm back now, and ready to jump in again.

August 19th's Challenge was "To-Do," and I am very, very excited about what I crossed off my to-do list yesterday! 

Jeremy's Uncle Tom and Aunt Donna gave us a container full of plants last week.  Now, I know nothing at all about plants, but my heart loves them.  So, I decided to do what I do with all plants: give them lots of sunshine and lots of water.  After all, if I were a plant, that's what I would want.  I placed the container in my front yard which gets about 12 hours of full sun every day, and I watered the container daily. 

Then I called my friend LaRene, who is The Plant Whisperer, and I described them to her hoping she would know what they were and how to care for them.  I intended to plant them after I found out what they needed.  When LaRene couldn't pinpoint them from my phone description, she offered to come over in a few days to get a visual and teach me how to care for them.

She came over yesterday, and much to my dismay, she declared them to be houseplants.  She also declared them to be dying from over-crowding, over-sunning, and over-watering.  Wet blanket.  Since there is no way on God's green earth that any type of plant will survive in my house (trust me, I've tried), I decided to treat them like an annual and plant them in a perpetually shady spot outside my back door.  LaRene and I worked together to create a triangular garden bed where grass used to grow, and I planted my five plants.  Well, actually, I planted four plants because one of them looks like it's going to be a trailing kind of plant, so I'm looking for a shepherd's hook and a hanging basket to plant it in.  Then it will hover over my garden along with a pretty garden flag that Liberty bought me.  I'm just looking for a hook and flag pole.  Did you know Walmart and Home Depot consider those two items to be seasonal?  How rude.

Here is my new little garden.  I've decided to name it my TomAndDonna Garden, and I love it.  (Be like me and ignore the pathetic-ness of the dying leaves.  They didn't like my front yard, but I'm expecting them to perk up after a few days in my back yard.)

(I hope.)

My friend, Liz, is an inspiring photographer who participates in a monthly photo challenge.  I once participated with her and had a blast finding unique ways to photograph the prompt for the day, but since I've yearned to blog again - and can't seem to figure out how to start back up on my own - I'm going to use that monthly photo challenge and turn it into a blogging challenge for the month. 

See?  Genius at work, folks.  Step back.

If you want to play along, let me know in the comments, and I'll make sure I come read your blog that day.  :-)  Here's the August List.

So.  Landscape.

We've been saving up for landscaping around our house for the past four years, now.  We thought we were going to have enough to be able to put it in this coming spring, but circumstances have conspired against us, and we had to use that cash on an emergency situation that came up this summer.  Apparently, my brain is still processing that loss because I dreamed about my landscaping last night.

I was lying in bed when Liberty and Mercy came running in with their arms full of unplanted greenery, spilling dirt all over my bright white bedspread.  "Mommy!  Mommy!  Come outside and see!" they shouted at me in my half-wakened state.  Only the threat of dirt everywhere forced me to open my eyes.  "No!  Take that outside!" I tried to command forcefully, but my voice wouldn't obey. 

I shakily, still mostly asleep, followed their dirt trail across the carpeting to the front door, and when I stepped outside, I found my neighbor and friend, Trina, just standing up from planting the last bush in front of my house.

"Hi!" she smiled.  "I brought over some clippings from my landscaping for you." 

I glanced around.  My yard was littered with odd pots and plastic buckets all filled with dirt and spindly stems cut from flowers and bushes.  I started to thank her, but then I noticed a small plow with fresh, beige, Indiana clay clinging to its blades.  That's been used recently, my brain realized.  I looked around for evidence of its disturbance and found that all of my areas set aside to become garden beds had been tilled up and mixed with rich black dirt, then covered with peat moss and, in most places, planted with flowers and bushes.  "Wow!"  Trina had done more than just bring over clippings.  She had done all the hard labor to get my landscaping put in as well!

"Thank you!" I told her.  "Would you like to come in for a drink?"

"Sure," she followed me to the kitchen sink for a glass of water, and as I looked around my house, I was suddenly embarrassed to have her there.  The rooms were devoid of furniture, I'm not sure why.  Paint was peeling in large strips off the walls.  The ceilings were made of those square tiles you see in old office buildings, but apparently, our roof leaked badly because there were terrible brown stains on every tile, and some were hanging from the ceiling by their corners.  Our carpet was old and thin, worn bare in spots, and smelled awful.  Every light bulb in our house had been burned out, so I kept flicking light switches with no results.  I looked around, horrified for Trina to see the state our family had been living in. 

Trina just hugged me.  "Looks like we need to work on the inside, next!" she said cheerfully.  "I have leftover paint from when we painted Cait's room."  She bent down, pulled a crowbar from her back pocket, and began pulling the carpet up at a seam.  "Help me out with this.  I'm sure everything will look and smell much better when this is gone." 

I bent next to her and began pulling, grateful for this wonderful friend.

When I woke up, the dream lingered with me.  My brain was having a hard time telling fantasy from reality, and I began doing math in my head, trying to figure out how much we could spare in the budget for paint and new flooring.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I entered my bedroom closet and noticed the walls and paint in good condition.  Whew!  One room that doesn't need to be included in the remodel.

I walked out to the kitchen to start breakfast for the girls, and the presence of furniture and beauty surprised me.  I took a good assessing look around.  "Wow!  My home is beautiful!" I said out loud.  The walls are in good condition.  The carpet is stain and odor free.  The ceilings are a perfect white, with no ugly squares to be found anywhere, and we have plenty of furniture.  It honestly shocked me, and I've been periodically stopping my activity all morning to look and admire what God has done for us materially.

I've been going through about a month of ungratefulness.  In fact, just yesterday I told my friend Denissa who I bumped into at Walmart, that I needed to copy her habit of updating her facebook statuses with thankfulness.  I hoped making a practice of that might encourage thankfulness in my heart and help change my attitude in general. 

Looks like God took care of that.  With one dream He changed the landscape of my heart.

(Like how I tied that in?  Landscape?)

(Uh-huh, I'm that good.)
I've been thinking lately...

(No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)

I miss blogging.  Miss it like crazy.  There's something about organizing my thoughts into an orderly
(ish) few paragraphs that makes me sleep better.  Also, I'm missing the documentation of all the hilarious and creative and thoughtful things my children do.  There is an entire nine months worth of life that has been crammed into my dusty memory banks and will most likely never again see the light of day, but if I'd only blogged them, I'd be able to re-read those memories and remember them all over again.

So what do I want to tell you all?

Well, I want to tell you that God is good.

I've been through quite a lot these past months with Him, situations I've never been in before, paths of growing that I've never traveled before, and it's become obvious how good God is in the midst of the uncertainty, in the midst of humanity, in the midst of the convolutions of life.  He's there.  He's full of peace and joy.  He's in charge.

What a lovely beginning!