Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This year's Christmas card

So this year's Christmas card marks a major shift for us -- we've decided that our kids are way cuter than we are, so the front of our card features just them.  Plus, it's significantly easier to get a cute portrait of them than it is to do a remote/timer shot of all four of us at once...  ;)  I did manage to eke one out this fall, so the back of our card has a black and white photo of all four of us.  Which is one of literally only two photos I have of all four of us together this year...  Any photographers in central NJ want to do a family photo swap sometime next year?  :)

Joshua and Sophia were actually kind of happy and excited about photos this crisp late fall morning when I dressed them up for Christmas photos.  Joshua thought it was hilarious, sitting on the leaves -- he kept asking Sophia if she saw the leaves, and laughing when she would try to eat some.  :)  And Sophia was just excited to be outside, giggling when the wind blew and content to sit and smile at the world around her.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our 2013 special ornament

So far, we've managed to continue our little family tradition of having a special annual Christmas ornament to commemorate the year... This marks our eighth year of doing this!  Pretty soon, I'll have to find a different way to display these ornaments...  :)

2013 was a big year of change and growth for our family.  Both David and I have had exciting new challenges professionally -- me with my new job ventures, David with his ever-evolving responsibilities in campus ministry.  Sophia continues to grow and change in leaps and bounds every day, adding new words and new motor skills seemingly by the minute.

But perhaps the biggest, most obvious change to our family rhythms this year was the introduction of formal school for Joshua.  Starting preschool has brought so many exciting and wonderful changes in our little guy's life.  He's grown so much in vocabulary and art skills and other immediately obvious "learning" skills.  But it's also been amazing to watch him grow in understanding in so many different ways -- from complex sentence structures, to empathy for other children, to remembering what he's done during the day and being excited to relate extended stories about what he did, it's all been such a joy to watch!

And having Joshua in school three mornings a week has opened up a lot of time for the rest of us.  It *is* a bit of a scramble on school mornings to get Joshua fed, dressed, and out the door by 8:15.  But once he's there, I've had some really sweet one-on-one times with Sophia.  And when she's taking her morning nap, I suddenly have decent stretches of time to catch up on life.  :)

So we thought that it would be fitting to get a little school-themed ornament this year, to remember the beginning of this new season in our family's life.  We're so thankful that Joshua's first experiences of school have been predominantly positive, and we pray that he'll continue to enjoy his time learning and exploring and growing through his entire school career!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some fun kiddo updates

Earlier this fall, Joshua taught Sophia how to play a version of hide and seek.  It starts with all three of us sitting on the floor of the living room.  Joshua then asks me, "can the two children go away from you, Mama?"  Which is my cue to tell him, "yes, let's see if Sophia can find you!"  He then crawls quickly away, over to the kitchen, and calls Sophia's name.  About half the time, Sophia will take her cue and start crawling over to the kitchen to look for Joshua.  Even though he's always, always in exactly the same place, she'll look under the dining table, in the bathroom, and then make her way to the kitchen.  When she comes into view, they both start squealing with glee.  Cutest hide and seek ever!!


Joshua has started learning how to take pictures with my cell phone camera.  He'll hold the phone, compose a shot, tap the shutter button, and then immediately hit the camera roll to see the photo he took.  And then get distracted by scrolling through the other pictures and then ask if he can find Thomas (i.e., watch YouTube videos).  :)  But in that brief moment of focus, he's actually got a pretty good eye!  Here's his first photographic attempt, an image he's titled "Purple Cadillac Needs Help."


Words that Sophia definitely knows how to say now and uses regularly in the right context:

- hi
- please ("peesss")
- thank you ("hmm-ooo" with a glottal stop in the middle)
- no
- no touch (usually said when she's trying to touch something she knows she shouldn't!)
- no hit (usually said indignantly to her big brother)
- bye-bye
- dada
- mama
- yum yum
- cheese
- bless you


We had our first snow last week, and Joshua woke up super excited to see it falling.  He came into our bedroom and glued himself to the window to watch the snow.  Sophia was still asleep at first, so it was just the three of us and the snowfall.  Then Sophia started stirring, which drew Joshua's attention to the video monitor on my nightstand.  He immediately picked up the monitor, and following the principle of "if I can see you, you can see me," he pressed the monitor to the window, saying earnestly, "Sophia! Look at the snow!!"

More snowy fun: when David goes out to clear the car, Joshua insists on getting his boots, coat, and mittens "just like Papa," so he can "wipe the snow" alongside him.  :)


(This was posted verbatim on FB, but it's too good not to share here!)

Sophia: *indeterminate screaming*
Me: *holding her, rocking her, walking her around*
S: *more indeterminate screaming*
Me: Sweetheart, what do you need?
S: *deep breath* Chzzz.
Me: Cheese? OK, we can get you cheese!
S: Peessss ["please"].
Me: *handing her cheese*
S: Hmm-ooh ["thank you"] *happy and quiet snacking*

Communication, y'all. It works wonders!


The kiddos' favorite part of Stone Hill Church?  The food!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stone Hill Church of Princeton

One other thing that's kept me busy this fall?  I've started a new part time job!

The legal recruiting gig that I started back in January has been great in terms of its flexibility, and I can see how it could be a wonderful work-from-home income generator.  But in this season of our family's life, with two very young children at home, I just haven't been able to carve out the hours that the job really would require.  I've had some promising opportunities (and one that may still work out this year), but after taking a hard look at our finances and our needs, we decided in late October that I should probably start looking for something that would be a better fit.

Just when we came to this conclusion, our senior pastor called and asked if I would consider taking an executive position at our church.  Totally out of the blue, perfect timing -- God saw our need and opened a door that I never would have considered a possibility.  And the job is such a wonderful fit for me, and for us!  Officially, I'm the Executive Associate to the Senior Pastor.  We're all still working out exactly what that means, but essentially, I'm here to provide logistical and executive support to Pastor Matt and, secondarily, the other pastoral staff.  I'm in charge of church public relations, I'm coordinating special events, I'm working out feasibility analyses for Pastor Matt and Pastor Tracy (both of whom are big idea guys, so my detail-oriented persnickettiness is actually of use!), and I'm taking basic executive functions of their plates so they can better focus on ministry work.  And I'm loving it all!

It's been a critical season of work for the church these last few months, too -- because after over 25 years of trying, planning, and praying, Westerly Road Church has finally built a new church building, and transitioned into being Stone Hill Church of Princeton this month!

"When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The LORD has done great things for them.'  The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad."  (Ps. 126)

I took some photos of the old Westerly Road Church building on our last Sunday in that space.  Small though it may have been (see the odd L-shaped sanctuary, where an office wing was repurposed to make more room for the congregation?), it was well-loved!

And then I had the pure joy of taking some photos at the first worship service at the new Stone Hill Church.  The name was chosen in part as a nod to the geographic location -- the building sits on a very rocky piece of land, on a bit of a ridge, near the township of Rocky Hill.  But there are also deeper theological shades of meaning to the name.  The "stone" could reference Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of the church, and all the members of the body as living stones out of which God builds His church.  And the "hill" evokes, among other things, the city on a hill, with the light of the gospel shining forth in the darkness.

After so many years of praying and hoping, it was such a JOY to worship together in such a beautiful space!

The Atrium is a truly lovely space, and for the first time, we now have the ability to stay and talk and actually see other members of the church, rather than being quickly forced outside due to space limitations!

Joshua and Sophia loved the Atrium, too.  :)

What a beautiful space, and what a joyous occasion!  As Pastor Matt preached and prayed on Sunday, may the gospel come in power in this place!