Friday, July 31, 2009

Busy Bee

(this is for Uncle Pete. I know how much he loves the beauty of an eating baby)

(Hairbow applied for entertainment purposes only, primarily for Aunt Beck. No hair was harmed in the process)

Willow is starting to warm up to the idea of "real-food"... it took her awhile to come around, but I think she's digging it now. Obviously, this is a Justin trait, not a Stephanie trait! Her favorites are Mango, strawberry and she'll even choke down some scrambled egg.
She's almost 100% recovered from her Upper Resp. infection turned weird hip inflammation ER to Hospital ordeal, and is scooting around like a little sand crab. She quickly bypasses all of her toys spread about for her and heads straight to any available cord, flashing light or baby hazard within sight.

As tiring and stressful as her brief little illness and health snaphoo was, I was fairly relaxed and laid-back in the hospital. I kept exclaiming how grateful I was that I knew she'd be okay eventually and that we'd be out of there soon. So many of the parents and kids around us were there on a frequent basis, the strain was commonplace and part of everyday life for them. They didn't have an end in sight or the comfort of a relatively healthy, resilient babe. I just ached and empathized with their familiar state of fatigue, sleeping for weeks on a hospital pull-out chair, surrounded by constant irritating sounds and smells. Part of the experience stirred me to want to go back to work in a hospital again, just to be empathetic, patient, sensitive and generous to the families. But on a larger scale, it urged me to hurry home, luxuriate in our comfort of health, enjoying that gift fully and with more cognizance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Willow has recently discovered her toes, and better yet, that she can get them into her mouth. It's her new favorite diaper changing time activity. She's just a funny little girl all the way around, keeping us on our toes non-stop and full of laughs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Race

This past weekend Willow went to her first race (well, Justin's race). It was an early morning...wake-up at 4:30am, out the door by 5, arrived at the event by 6:15, and race time at 8 sharp. Oddly, I've always loved getting up and driving somewhere that early, while things are still blanketed in fading darkness, it's chilly and refreshingly still. I enjoy watching the day wake up as I'm heading somewhere fun and adventurous or even familiar, seeing things in the dawning morning light. This early morning we headed to Malibu Creek Canyon State Park, just a few miles inland of the famous (or is it infamous) Malibu, CA shoreline. It was a gorgeous setting, a low fog hanging between the soft mountains, green glowing woods with the sound of meandering streams tickling the air. A lung-full breath of fresh, unpolluted, non-grey air that sometimes seems hard to find near LA. This was a trail run event, with two different distances, a 6k and 22k, both with some gnarly hills and narrow, tricky paths.
I relish being at races just as much as I enjoy early morning travel. I'm always inspired by the different shapes, sizes, abilities, stories and motivations of each individual crossing the start and finish line. I love seeing those crazy individuals who have the drive to make excellent fitness more than a hobby, but a disciplined lifestyle, a passion. The 76 year old man completing the 22k trail run, with undoubtedly the toughest hill climbs in a west coast race, encourages me to get out the next day and push myself harder.  As does the 40 something Mom who's barely finishing her very  first 5k trail run, husband and kids waiting with cheers and proud hugs at the end. 
Justin did great, finishing in thirteenth place out of over 130 male runners. We stuck around to watch the first of the 22k come in, knowing they'd be laying down some impressive times, and boy did they. We were thrilled to be able to watch the winning female cross the line when we found out it was Heather Fuhr, Ironman World Champ and professional Triathlete. I've watched her on TV several times competing in races, so to see her racing in person was pretty awesome. 
Overall, it was a great morning and ended with a scenic drive home down the Pacific Coast Hwy. Willow did fabulously and I'm excited to watch her grow up hopefully enjoying early morning races too! Maybe one day I'll be cheering her across the finish line, or better yet, doing it along side her.

Friday, May 1, 2009

5 Months

5 MONTHS! How did that happen? That's tooooo close to half a year for my liking. I've definitely noticed some "maturity" changes in just the last 2 weeks.... how she interacts with people (read: doesn't scream her head off or cry when a stranger talks to her), her observation of her surroundings, turning and looking for where sounds are coming from, playing more independently (read: I can take a shower before Justin gets home now without her dissolving into a sobbing puddle), she likes to sit assisted and play with things rather than laying on the floor, she loves watching the dog, Zoey, move around the room and would rather give her full attention instead of us... just to name a few fun things.

She's just a bundle of joy and makes each day so fun and full, even if sometimes that means never getting out the front door, forgetting to wash our clothes because I'm washing 500 loads of baby clothes and cloth diapers, or not vacuuming the house for a embarrassingly long time.

When I'm really tired and finally get her to sleep for a nap and it seems like 10 minutes later she's awake again, I can't help but be delighted when I go in her room and am greeted with the biggest grin and little coo. Apparently she doesn't hold it against me that I'm the one who put her in the crib and turned off the lights. 

I can't wait for everyone on the East coast to see and enjoy her soon!

Monday, April 27, 2009

We started trying solids (or pureed, thin, nasty looking stuff) with Willow. She apparently really likes sweet potatoes! We're going to start slow, just eating a bit at dinner time most evenings. It's a whole lot messier, but it sure is cute.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Belly laugh

Willow has started giving me a good little chuckle. She especially thinks "boo" is funny. This is kind of shaky since I was holding the camera with one hand and covering my face for peek-a-boo with the other, but you can still see her cutie-pie self!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


When I was little I remember often waking in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep. Mom would scoop me up into her lap, covered with an afghan, settle in the rocker and begin to tell "the story". I would close my eyes and see it so clearly, and it helped transport me from my present fears to a far away, safe place that I came to love and yearn to go.

Now, as I rock my own babe, the story comes flooding back in the form of images and memory. I know I don't remember it word for word, and the picture my mind created and recalls is different from the one Mom had in her head, but the result is still the same. 
The following is that image translated into my own words. I look forward to scooping up my frightened little one and sending her down the path...

The Throne Room

Your bare feet pad softly along a worn path as it twists through the woods. You are strangely aware that you aren’t really following it, but it’s leading you. There is a dim green glow as the heavy hang of branches filter light through their verdant leaves. It’s peaceful, a purposeful trail even though you aren’t sure exactly where you’re going. You have a feeling deep in the recesses of your soul, in your very fiber, that you’ll know when you’ve arrived. The overhead branches begin to thin and the light illuminates the path more clearly, and suddenly, you're there.

It looms before you, tall and earthy brown, weathered with use but no less sturdy for the wear. A door that you know you’re supposed to enter. As you approach, you realize there is no handle or knob to assist with the daunting task of trying to open such a massive structure. You look up and it seems to become part of the trees at it spirals towards the sky. Intimidating in size, but welcoming in presence. Take a deep breath ,raise your scrawny arm, much to feeble for the task.

As your fingertip barely brushes the warm brown surface, the door swings open with no effort and you have to shield your eyes from the outpouring brightness. Step over thresh hold, pause, listen.

As your bare feet strike the new surface that stretches seemingly miles before you, the sound of millions of crystals and delicate chimes deafen you. Where is this light coming from?

There’s no visible, singular source, just reflection after reflection of beautiful light dancing down the long corridor of mirrors and windows before you. You make your way across the crystal floor that has no beginning or end, with no boundary to the windows that form the sheltering walls. Before you realize it, you’ve made it to the end; you have no comprehension of how far you’ve walked.

Before you stands another door, much different from the first. Polished gold is inlaid with millions of precious stones. There are gorgeous colors you’ve never seen, you couldn’t imagine existed. Like the first, this door also speaks of forever, but is not worn or weathered with use. It gleams with perfection, reflecting the light behind you

This door requires knocking, you think to yourself, and as you raise your fist, you pause as you feel it.

A vibration traveling from your feet up your spine, then reaching your ears and becoming sound. At first a simple low hum, then words begin to take shape in form of chant. You feel your heart race, and then slow to timed rhythm with the chant. Deep breath in.

You knock and the door burst open and you’re greeted by the sound in amplified proportions coming out of the darkness before you. Again you cross the threshold, this time aware that you are no longer alone.  You cannot see clearly yet, but you feel you’re standing in the center of a round room. Your eyes slowly adjust and you see the shapes covering the walls, even the ceiling. You know they aren’t human shapes, but are some sort of living creature, strong and fierce, yet totally unaware of themselves, united in one focus and purpose. So they are where the sound is coming from, you hear yourself whisper.

At that moment the rushing sound becomes words in your ears.

“Holy,     Holy,     Holy,     Holy,     Holy...”

Over and over again, never dulled by the repetition, each word bursting forth with new strength and conviction. And then you turn.

 Before you is new light that you couldn’t see before, and in the center he sits. The light isn’t illuminating him, it is HIM, pouring out and drenching everything it falls upon. Hands reach out to you and draw you close where he sits. You fall before feet and your eyes begin to trace over the hands that support you. They are worn and speak of years of work and heavy labor, each bearing a scar in the center. Yet there is youthfulness in their strength, a sturdy grip that claims energy and readiness for whatever battle they undertake. They know no fear, nor defeat. Your eyes then fall to the feet you’ve knelt before. The same scars are present on the feet that you saw on the hands. Feet that have walked for ages, born the load for many, tread dirt, stone, straw, crossed stream, river, ocean. They are creased with miles, now glistening with fresh oil and incense. You can’t take your eyes off the hands and feet; you don’t dare look up and meet the gaze that is piercing through you, already knowing you.

You aren’t afraid, and you realize you aren’t ashamed to meet the gaze, but you tremble nonetheless. 

Then chin begins to raise, shoulders square, and you allow your eyes to rise to his.

Louder and louder it comes,

“Holy,     Holy,     Holy,     Holy...”

Exhale, and rest. 

Friday, April 3, 2009


She just gets cuter and cuter..... and has a pretty big personality too!


This is Willow's new form of communication. It seems to be a combination squeal+scream+growl. It's pretty funny, whatever it is. The ceiling fan seems to get the best reaction, sometimes I manage to come in as a close second.


I just finished closet that is. Now, I by no means am a clothes shopper. If you want to raise my blood pressure and see me break out in an anxious sweat and aquire and instant headache, just ask me to go shopping. So I didn't have a large quantity of clothing to purge, but I knew it needed to be done. As I was whisking through the hangers, touching each article of clothing, I found myself pulling something out to place in the "to-go" pile, then putting it back in the closet, pulling it out again, putting back. You get the idea. Why am I doing this, I thought. I haven't worn this in forever, in fact...have I ever worn this? 
*BING* light bulb moment.

I knew this wasn't a fashion issue, it was a heart issue. As I took those old, comfortably worn clothes off the hanger, ready to discard them for good.....they wanted to creep back into the closet, often forgotten about, but always there, the familiar ready to be donned again.
So goes sin it seems. As we approach the Father asking for pruning and refining, don't we often resist allowing him to clean out the most familiar, seemingly comfortable corners where sin lurks and waits for a lazy, unassuming day to be put on and paraded. I know that's all too frequently the case with me. But that sin is out of style with this new creation that's already been redeemed. I don't have to keep putting it on again and again, with delusions of comfort and flattery. 

"We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life" Rom 5:2-4

"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Col 3:12-14

As I continued to painstakingly clean out, my mind shifted gears from my ugly sin to others desperate need. The images of several homeless people who I've seen repeatedly over the years that I've lived here came into mind's view. I could see exactly what they were wearing, always have been wearing each time I see them. The man in the filthy red shorts and yellow pull-over jacket who I see walking and talking, gesturing loudly to his imagination, long beard and graying hair dirty and matted. The middle-aged woman who sits at the bus stop in front of the drug store or Blockbuster, long brown sweater filled with more holes than not, clutching an old book bag, wearing to large men's shoes, generally arguing with her invisible nightmare. There are others, many others that it pains me to draw to mind. I begin to put more and more clothes in my "to-go" pile, realizing that that shirt I may have worn once last year just might be the only shirt someone has to wear all of next year.
Cast-off sins make room for new garments, warm layers of compassion, kindness, humility gentleness, and patience, always more beautiful than the latest style.

Monday, March 23, 2009

4 months

Willow had her four month check-up today AND her first shot. I decided to delay them and do an alternative schedule that spreads them out over time instead of giving several at once. She did really well.... a brief scream and then she was happy =) The Dr. took one look and said, "Wow, she's a big one!" Indeed she is..... weighing in at 18lbs and measuring 25 inches. To put that in perspective, cousin Maggie, who is 6 months older, weighs a few ounces over 18 lbs and is 28 inches. Here's to hoping that gaining mobility in a few months will slow Miss Willow down a bit.

She is so funny and really starting to show her little personality. Her new favorite activites are screaming (in a happy way), sticking her tongue out and spitting all over my arms, licking everything within reach, standing on laps, trying as hard as possible to see the TV, laying on the floor and chattering non-stop to anything that will listen. She's definitely improving in the sleep department and I'm starting to feel more rested (most days), but we still have our not so pretty moments. 
I still can't get over how fortunate I am to get to stay home and love on her all day. I wouldn't trade it for the big bucks any day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A little more cuteness =)

We had a week full of firsts and new experience. Willow wore her first tu-tu, Justin changed his first cloth diaper, Willow helped plant our first spring flowers, and she actually hung out in her crib for the first time (if only for a photo-op!). Oh, and she went to her first archery range as Mommy and Daddy shot bows and arrows together for the first time. By the way the folks there responded, I think it was their first baby patron!
Over all a very full, fun week and end.
Not to mention her first church experience that lasted about 30 seconds..... the time it took for me to walk through the front door, for her to immediately start screaming and me make it out the back. I walked to the nursery to see if that might be the way to go, but since there were ONLY screaming babies in there at the time and a few frazzled looking workers, I didn't really feel cool handing them MY screaming baby. So we danced in the parking lot to worship music coming through the door. Another great new experience. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

chatty willow

Here's a snippet of Chatty Willow. Okay, so it's not a snippet, it's 2 min 30 sec of cuteness, so get comfy =)
She was laying on her play mat, talking away to her toys all by herself, and I was fortunate to get to be included. She's getting more vocal each day it seems; yesterday Justin and I just kept laughing at our "talkative" girl, knowing we're going to be in for a treat when she actually owns some words!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rolling over

Here's Willow rolling over. After this long attempt, she did it with much ease over and over again. Of course we didn't tape that. I thinks it's a tad challenging to get those leg rolls over, I just want to give her a helpful little nudge! Pretty soon she'll be rolling from back to tummy and sitting up.

*Much cheering and sympathetic grunting at your computer while watching is definitely encouraged =)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

3 months!

Happy 3 Months Our Little Willow-Bee!

3 month beauty shots

Apparently I produce "VERY healthy" babes. Oh my.

Willow celebrated turning 3 months yesterday.... it doesn't seem possible! She's growing way to fast for my liking, yet becoming so much more interactive and fun too! Her newest accomplishments are: making a beautiful gurgling, spit sound....which produces much drool and spit bubbles, followed by a glistening wet, huge grin; rolling over- although she's only done this a few times and doesn't seem too interested in doing it again, we're going to count that as progress; "playing" with toys- she's definitely become interested in her little hanging doo-dads on her play mat and bouncy seat, and appears to "reach" for them, albeit spastic arm swinging with occasional contact. We're counting that as progress, too!

She and I celebrated her 3 month day by driving south to Balboa Island off of Newport Beach. The adventure was encouraged because our apartment buildings are being re-painted and I was enclosed inside with taped up windows, banging ladders and mariachi music on the porch. We needed to get out =) 

Anyway, Balboa is a beautiful area, very prestigious and noted for it's famous residents, both current and past. John Wayne, Greta Garbo, Tyrone Power, Bogart and many others used to have their homes here and it definitely has held onto that rich history. The day was gorgeous and we enjoyed a walk around the periphery of the island, beside the bay's edge, looking at the glamorous homes (shamelessly into windows I'll admit) and impressive private boats. It was a fun morning, followed by a MUCH needed nap on her part and movie on mine. I think we'll celebrate each new month in a similar way!

I'm so very, very thankful for this little gift of a person. She is a true delight and joy and has already been used to help teach and refine me as a child of God. Praise Him for that! I know the adventure has just begun and am filled with so much eager anticipation, and sometimes trepidation, with what's to come. God's grace to lead.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I didn't post the best picture that happened about 30 seconds after this face. The front of Justin's shirt covered in spit-up =) After I stopped laughing, more at the look on his face than the spit up on his shirt, I made him wait to change his shirt so I could take a picture of his first REAL experience. Somehow he's managed to avoid getting hit for the past 2 months. Which is fine because apparently it totally grosses him out. Me, not so much. As he put it, I have "mommy immunity" to those types of things. Hmmm, I didn't realize that came with the package. But I guess I do =)

These are my favorite times of the day, in the evening as the sun's going down and Justin's home visiting with Willow and I putter in the kitchen and listen to them chatting. It's good soul food and I know I could hope for nothing better, sweeter than this.

Monday, February 2, 2009

little drooly

She's really starting to get the sticking her tongue out and blowing thing down... sometimes when I'm in the kitchen, I hear her in the living room doing it all by herself! I guess she has to practice her new skills ;-)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's been a really wonderful day. Willow and I went for a walk this morning, down to the ocean and back through a lusciously green park. The weather here is a gorgeous 80 degrees, with warm Santa Ana winds brushing off stagnant heat and swirling around the sunshine.

This afternoon, I've been sitting on our porch, rocking my babe, listening to the wind crinkle the red bud leaves and sway the palms. I love how trees dance to the season's song... swaying with a breeze, glisten and shimmer with a heavy rain, rest heavy with the weight of a cold blanket of ice or snow. To my pleasure, there always seems to be a bevy of little birds joining the tree chorus, harmonizing in natural, perfect pitch. There's also a handful of birds of prey that reside in the branches nearby. I love watching them ride the warm winds, without effort or seam in their glide, casting quick shadows over our lawn.  Sometimes I wonder if they do it just because it feels good. As I sat there, watching life unfurled on my little plot of grass and stand of trees, feeling the weight of Willow sinking lower into sweet sleep, I couldn't help but feel my soul rise and join the song. 
I began whispering in her ear the Doxology we used to sing before diner when we were children...
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More video

Here's more Willow clips. She was super happy and vocal this morning. We had fun cooing and gooing at each other!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here's a little clip from this evening. She was chatty and smily for me; of course I kept missing all the best ones! But here's a little sample of her sweet little coos.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2 months!

Willow had her 2 month check-up today and we got a good laugh. She's a svelte 15 lbs!!! That's double her birth weight and she's added an additional 4 inches in length. Now who says a few rolls aren't precious? The Pediatrician jokingly (I think) asked if I was sure she's only 2 months. So she's in the 95th percentile for weight and 75th percentile for length. Maybe she's just an overachiever like her momma :-) We got a thumbs up that she's wonderfully healthy and happy. I'm truly am just so very, very thankful for such a blessing and pray for continued good health and pudginess. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Heart Faces- kids contest entry week two

Willow's first "tub" bath (actually it's a giant rubber duck). She was a bit apprehensive at first, but warmed up to the idea pretty quickly and enjoyed a little splashing. I'm betting she'll be a little fish before too long.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Frills and smiles

My perfectly pudgy girl is also perfectly pink! I love her blushed little (okay, big) cheeks and rosebud mouth. She's getting to be very generous and ready with her smiles and is "talking" up a storm when we have conversations. I'm really curious to see how that displays itself when she does have words; if we'll get a surprise and have ourselves a little chatterbox!
If you look close, you can see she has ruffles on her collar AND bottom.... as every true Southern girl knows, you don't go out without a little frill somewhere on your person. Not that I wear ruffles on my bottom, I've graduated to more sophisticated frills.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Perfectly pudgy

We went grocery shopping today and had the usual throngs of baby admiring senior citizens ooo-ing and ahh-ing over sweet Willow..... maybe it's just that I shop at that allotted time of day, when it's just retirees and mommies in the store. Anyway, in the check-out line I had one particularly interested, inquisitive little lady asking me all about her: her birth weight and length, exactly how old she is, how much she weighs now (which I don't know precisely), and did she really have that much hair when she was born???? 
After all the facts, she kindly concluded that Willow should probably be put on a diet or feeding restrictions, because "that just seems like an awful lot of weight she's put on in 8 weeks". 
I politely replied that she's just perfectly healthy, and besides, I sure don't want a scrawny baby :-)

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Heart Faces- kids contest

I came across a website called I Heart Faces that is dedicated to the capturing of, well...faces obviously! They'll have a contest (each week?) with different categories and themes and you can enter your fabulous face on your blog and create a link to theirs. Fun! And since I have the most precious baby in the world, of course I had to play. 
This is one of my very favorite pictures of Willow, taken in the early quiet hours of the morning. Those sweet, plump cheeks, that perfectly pug nose, those whispery, dreamy eyelashes....what's not to love???

I Heart Willow ;-)