Sunday, March 20, 2011

On the eve of a new job

"Work plunges men into the world of things.  The Christian steps out of the world of brotherly encounter into the world of impersonal things, the 'it'; and this new encounter frees him for objectivity; for the 'it'-world is only an instrument in the hand of God for the purification of Christians from all self-centeredness and self-seeking.  The work of the world can be done only where a person forgets himself, where he loses himself in a cause, in reality, the task, the 'it.'  In work the Christian learns to allow himself to be limited by the task, and thus for him the work becomes a remedy against the indolence and sloth of the flesh.  The passions of the flesh die in the world of things.  But this can happen only where the Christian breaks through the 'it' to the 'Thou,' which is God, who bids him work and makes that work a means of liberation from himself.

"The work does not cease to be work; on the contrary, the hardness and rigor of labor is really sought only by the one who knows what it does for hm.  The continuing struggle with the 'it' remains.  But at the same time the break-through is made; the unity of prayer and work, the unity of the day is discovered; for to find, back of the 'it' of the day's work, the 'Thou,' which is God, is what Paul calls 'praying without ceasing' (1 Thess. 5:17).  Thus the prayer of the Christian reaches beyond its set time and extends into the heart of his work.  It includes the whole day, and in doing so, it does not hinder the work; it promotes it, affirms it, and lends it meaning and joy.  Thus every word, every work, every labor of the Christian becomes a prayer; not in the unreal sense of a constant turning away from the task that must be done, but in a real breaking through the hard 'it' to the gracious Thou.  'Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus' (Col. 3:17).

"Then from this achieved unity of the day the whole day acquires an order and a discipline.  These must be sought and found in the morning prayer and in work they will be maintained.  The prayer of the morning will determine the day.  Wasted time, which we are ashamed of, temptations that beset us, weakness and listlessness in our work, disorder and indiscipline in our thinking and our relations with people very frequently have their cause in neglect of the morning prayer.  The organization and distribution of our time will be better for having been rooted in prayer.  The temptations which the working day brings with it will be overcome by this break-through to God.  Decisions which our work demands will be simpler and easier when they are made, not in the fear of men, but solely in the presence of God.  'Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men' (Col. 3:23).  Even routine mechanical work will be performed more patiently when it is done with the knowledge of God and His command.  Our strength and energy for work increase when we have prayed God to give us the strength we need for our daily work."

Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Joshua's First Haircut: A Drama in Three Parts

OK, so maybe not really three parts... But this really was a terribly dramatic experience for our little guy!  (And then when I converted the photos to black and white to try to get around some color cast issues, David commented that it isolated the crushing pathos and strong emotion in each one -- and then suggested that I do a side-by-side comparison with Edvard Munch's "The Scream."  :))

Yesterday, we took Joshua for his very first big boy haircut!  I've trimmed the hair over his ears before, but I wasn't confident in my ability to give him a full haircut.  Plus, I really wanted the photo ops at the cute little kids' salon, and had this pretty picture in my head of Joshua giggling away in a brightly-colored chair, and having precious photos of a Big Milestone Moment...

Yeah, it didn't quite happen that way.

Joshua has been a little bit off all week (his naptimes have been fluctuating a little, and daylight savings time didn't help), and he didn't really nap well yesterday afternoon.  But he seemed to be in a pretty good mood when we decided to head out to get his hair cut.  He brought two of his beloved blocks with him, and happily babbled at me on the drive over.

He was curious, but cautious, when we walked into the salon.  Bright colors!  Fun noises!  Other kids running around!  He explored a little while I checked him in, and seemed to be doing fairly well.

He was a little concerned when we strapped him into the chair.  And then highly consternated when the strange lady snapped a cape around his neck.  But then when she started spraying his head with water, and then scraping at his scalp with a comb? 

And then holding his head still and folding his ears down and doing WHO KNOWS WHAT with a metal SOMETHING-OR-OTHER that made SNIPPING SOUNDS?  Yikes.  Not even his blocks could comfort him.

Poor little guy.  He did calm down a bit near the end, when a 7-year-old girl came over and told him all about how she remembered her first haircut and it didn't hurt at all -- such a sweet little moment.  :)

And now our adorable little guy looks even more like a handsome little man.  I've got to get some photos of him with his new 'do looking happy, but here's at least a not-screaming-in-anguish one:

Poor baby.  It'll be a while before we're all ready to try this again... I'm thinking I need to learn how to cut his hair myself!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A golden evening

Friday was an absolutely beautiful day out here in central Jersey -- 75 degrees, perfectly sunny, balmy breezes, just gorgeous.  This being New Jersey, we knew that there was a non-trivial chance that we would get snow and ice the next day... So we went out for a pre-dinner family excursion to bask in the beautiful golden evening!

We decided to head down to the battlefield to go for a walk, and to re-introduce Joshua to the great outdoors.  The last time he played outside, he wasn't really crawling yet... How quickly they change and grow!  So this was Joshua's first experience walking outside!

It's really fascinating viewing the world through his inexperienced eyes.  We set him down on the little paved path that runs along Mercer Road, expecting him to take off running as he always does indoors.  Instead, he stared at us quizzically, peered at the ground, and took very, very halting steps forward.  Every single little variation in the ground posed a puzzle -- is it low enough to step over?  Does it require getting down on hands and knees to crawl over it?  Is that a hole?  Is it shallow enough to walk over it?  Is it small enough to walk around it?  HOLD ON, is that a strip of GRASS running through the asphalt?

It took him a little while to warm up to the idea of walking along the sidewalk.  But our little guy was so brave -- helped in part, I think, by the blocks he clutched in each hand the entire time.  I like to think they provided a degree of normalcy and comfort to him, being talismans of the comfortable world of indoor play...  :)  But after a few minutes, he was running ahead of us gleefully.  And by the time we reached the end of the sidewalk, he did NOT want to turn around to walk back!

What a gloriously beautiful evening!  And what a perfect way to spend time together as a family!

The times, they are a-changin'...

As a general rule, I make a point of not talking about my job on this blog.  For one thing, this blog comes up on the first page of Google hits if you search my name -- so discretion really is the better part of valor.  :)  And for another, there's attorney-client privilege, and confidential information, and all kinds of other issues that aren't worth tangling with.  Besides, we know most of you come here just for the cuteness that is our son!

But there are some big changes on the horizon, so I wanted to mention them at least in part here -- to chronicle our family life faithfully, and also to ask that you pray for us as we make these transitions.

So about a month ago, I started looking for a new job.  Given how terrible the legal market is right now (link to an article that I think should be required reading for all considering law school), we were steeling ourselves for a months-long search and the potential of long-term unemployment...

But in this-is-happening-so-fast-our-heads-are-still-spinning fashion, I managed to land an amazing job in just two weeks.  It's in the Princeton office of another large firm, located just across Route 1 from our apartment -- so I'll be doubling my commute, from 2.5 minutes to 5 minutes.  :)  I'll be working in a very busy but really stable practice group, responsible for a lot more and getting a ton of hands-on litigating experience.  And I get such a great, friendly vibe from everyone I've met over there so far.  I'm really excited about this new opportunity!

It does, however, mean that I'll be back to working full-time.  And this is a true BigLaw full-time, with what promises to be a fairly grueling pace.  We've spent the last couple weeks busily rejiggering the rhythms of our lives in preparation for this change... Joshua had been spending one day a week with his buddy Phil in a nanny share arrangement, so we've worked out a new arrangement where he'll be over with Phil three days a week instead.  Two of those days, he'll be watched by Carrie (as he has been for the last several months).  The third day, he'll be watched by the B family's second nanny, a wonderful woman named Jennie.  Thanks to Hilary and Steven's assistance through all of this, the logistical details of drawing up and signing a contract with Jennie's agency has gone incredibly smoothly, and we're hopeful that this will all work well for Joshua!

David will also be picking up a good deal of the slack at home.  I'm low-balling my expectations for my free time at home -- because then, if I *do* get home in time to feed Joshua dinner, that will be a pleasant surprise... My current plan, though, is to at least wake up every morning with Joshua and spend that time with him every day.

And we got ourselves a second car this week.  It's a little ridiculous, since neither of us will be commuting more than about three miles!  But given the time pressures we'll be facing, we decided it would be wisest to have the second car -- so, for instance, it'll be easy for me to drop Joshua off in the mornings and for David to then pick him up in the evenings.  (And since our first car is a blue car named The Colonel, it makes sense that our second car is a red one named The Major, right?)

We're very thankful for this new job for me, and through this whole process, we've seen abundant reminders of God's faithfulness to our family.  So we're clinging to that faithfulness as we transition into this next season of our lives -- I start my new job on Monday morning!  Please do be praying for us, though.  And forgive me if the blogging becomes even more sporadic.  :)

Oh, and what's a blog post without a photo, right?  Here's one quick snapshot of our little guy, cracking himself up with the funny noises he's learned to make with his tongue -- I've got to get this on video sometime soon!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Joshua discovers a loophole

As anyone who's been to our home (or seen photos taken in our apartment!) would know, we're a book-loving family.  We have this awesome wall of bookcases in our open floor plan living/dining room, with books jam-packed on the shelves all the way along the wall.  And, well, they're colorful, and bright, and make a really satisfying thwack when they hit the floor... So one of the biggest temptations in Joshua's young life is the desire to toddle up to the bookshelves and FLING books onto the floor.

We've had some success in the last couple weeks, though, at teaching him not to do that.  He would run up to the books, fling one down, and we would say "noooo, Joshua, leave the books alone!"  Then we would promptly pick him up and put him in his playpen.  It's more of a distraction than anything else -- his music-making toys are in there, so we were using the pen as a diversionary tactic.  But our willful little guy did NOT like being removed unceremoniously from the books, and would protest loudly when we put him there.

It was fascinating watching him learn the cause and effect of it all, though.  After just a couple days of consistent playpenning, we noticed a few changes.  Joshua would toddle up to the books, stop short for a moment, look around at us, then fling the book down and then run away as fast as he could.  He clearly knew what he was doing.  :)  Then about a week later, the cutest thing happened -- he stopped at the books, and instead of flinging any of them to the floor, he started lovingly stroking the spines, saying "nooooo, nooooo..."  I guess he picked up on what we were saying to him!

It looks like he's finally learned to not throw any books to the floor now.  But what's really interesting is watching him test the limits of this rule.  We do allow him to play with our DVDs (none of which we watch these days, anyways, thanks to internet streaming!).  And of course he's allowed to play with all of his own toys.  So this is what he's taken to doing lately:

And a quick video!

He's discovered and is happily exploiting this loophole.  He's totally going to be a lawyer just like his mama.  :)

Interfellowship March Mondo Meeting

Last Friday, we had the very first interfellowship large group meeting, sponsored by PEF, Manna, PFA and AIA.  We've done joint praise and prayers before, and joint worship nights, but as far as I know, this was the first time that the groups actually canceled each of their regular weekly meetings and encouraged everyone to come to the joint meeting instead.  This was all student-led and student-initiated -- it was so cool to see how excited everyone was for this joint meeting!  What a beautiful display of unity!

The whole "Mondo" thing really took off, too.  I'm not sure who first came up with it -- I'm betting it was just a simple alliterative device, calling it the March Mondo Meeting.  But the "Mondo" was off-beat enough to catch people's fancy -- there was so much Facebook chatter about going to Mondo, or being Mondo excited, or just simply the word "Mondo" followed by multiple exclamation points...  :)

All told, there were around 250 people gathered together that night.  And it was so much fun!  The worship sets were led jointly by the worship leaders of the different groups, which led to a wider range of songs and styles than at a normal PEF meeting.  And what a blessing it was for brothers and sisters to be standing and singing together in unity!  The message was delivered by Dr. Greg Waybright, senior pastor at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, former president of Trinity International University, and Jamie Rankin's old college roommate.  :)  He's come to Princeton a number of times in the last few years, and every single time, he remembers specific conversations he's had, and follows up on previous prayer requests -- he's very impressively sincere.  His message that evening was on Christian unity, and he struck just the right encouraging and exhorting notes with us.

I was so thankful to be able to be there.  We had Hilary come over to play with Joshua a little and then put him to bed, so we were both able to be fully present at the meeting, without having to worry at all about our little boy.  :)  And of course, I took tons of photos!

And then just a few photos of the fellowship time afterward, in Murray-Dodge:

And just two more photos, because they're so perfectly hilarious!

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."  --John 17:20-23

Adventures in self-feeding

We're slowly getting more adventurous about the food we serve to Joshua.  He's been ready for all kinds of table food for a while now -- it's just that David and I are having to steel ourselves for the inevitable and extensive mess that arises as a result of toddler self-feeding.  It's so much easier to just spoon-feed him, wiping him down after every bite, controlling the mess as much as possible...  But at some point, the control freak has to let go, and recognize that the boy does need to learn to feed himself, eventually...  :)

So, baby steps!  We started out by letting him try a toddler breakfast bar one morning.  And he went to town on that thing -- he loved the strawberry-banana filling, and was so good at taking bites by himself and not choking on it!  We were so proud.

A more recent addition to his dinners has been steamed broccoli.  The first piece I gave him was perhaps a bit too big (he hadn't quite figured out how to hold it and take bites), so after one small gagging incident, I've taken to chopping up the florets into teeny pieces.  But wow, does Joshua love broccoli!  He'll literally lick his bowl clean!

He's slowly figuring out the whole "bowl" concept -- about half the time, he'll take a piece from the bowl and put it directly in his mouth; the other half of the time, he dumps the bowl onto his tray and then throws the bowl on the floor.  We're working on table manners...

But he's generally good about keeping the bowl on his high chair tray, if it's filled with ravioli!  This does really push us out of our OCD comfort zone -- Joshua loves squishing the ravioli in his fingers, and then rubbing it into his hair.  But he also loves eating the ravioli, and will blow through two or three whole bowlfuls at a meal!  Here's a cute video of our ravioli-eating machine in action!

We'll be sure to keep you all posted on what new and exciting culinary adventures we embark upon!  :)

A surprise shower for Aime!

[Yep, it's another Keddiebears blog burst... I'm just going to have to make my peace with the fact that I can't blog more regularly about our wild and crazy lives.  Thanks for bearing with us!  :)]

A couple weeks ago, on February 19, we had a *successful* surprise shower for our dear friend Aime!  I feel like it's rare that surprise parties actually end up being surprises -- especially when the guest of honor is as wily and smart as Aime.  :)  But our lovely hostesses Andréa and Hilary managed to pull it off... And did so very beautifully!

Aime and Greg are expecting a daughter in early April -- and this baby has been eagerly anticipated by so many, for so many years.  They've chosen the name Eliana, which means "God has answered," which is incredibly fitting for this baby who is the answer to so many prayers.  We just can't wait to meet her, and this surprise shower was a wonderful way of showing Aime just how excited we all are for her and her family!

Just a few of the lovely details (girly jungle theme inspired by the bedding the parents-to-be have chosen), including a homemade cake baked and decorated by Carrie, and a beautiful diaper cake made by Mary:

The arrival of the guest of honor -- I still can't believe she was actually surprised!

And then a ton of fun and games! There was the always, um, appetizing melted candy bar dirty diaper game...

And then one really fun "feed the baby" race.  Where both the baby and the feeder are blindfolded -- because, you know, feeding a baby really is that messy and difficult.  :)  And much hilarity ensued:

Poor Andréa is wearing sunglasses here because she'd had a pretty nasty corneal laceration, at the unwitting and excitable hands of her 13-month-old... She'd had Caleb on her lap to read him a book, and he flailed his arms, somehow managing to scratch her eye.  Thankfully, there was no permanent damage, but she was functionally blind on the day of the shower.  So she did what anyone else would do in her position -- she kept planning the shower and doing the non-lab work of her PhD program and caring for her family and just generally being Superwoman...  :)  But even Superwoman can't write if she's blind, so Bonnie filled out her guesses for her in Aime's baby pool.

Aime is such a radiantly beautiful woman just in general, and pregnancy certainly suits her.  :)

Aime with the two hostesses, and then with her college friend Annie, who is also expecting a little girl in early April!

Aime, we love you!  And we're all so incredibly excited to meet Eliana!!