Friday, September 26, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words by Torque

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I was driving home from work the other day, and as I pulled up to a stop light, I saw an older fellow, probably around 50, walking home. The golden evening sunlight slanted through the trees and splashed on the cracked sidewalk at his feet, and his shadow cut at the yellow light, waging a picturesque battle of light and dark.

Grey hair hung from his head, and a limp grey mustache decorated his wrinkled features. He wore a faded jean jacket, soiled, but matching the old pants he wore. Battered, well worn boots, into which the care of his feet had been placed, drummed the sidewalk as he moved along it. He carried a battered grey plastic lunch box, with a gritty stainless steel thermos perched perilously on top, nestled between the long handles.

He matched his neighborhood; old, picturesque, friendly. Clapboard houses in yellows and blues, the once vibrant paint now peeling and fading in the sun. Dirty, half melted snow drifts loitered on the sides of the road and on lawns, waiting for the heat of spring and a good chinook to send them on their way.

A picture is worth a thousand words. I miss my camera.

This post has a lot of pictures. I was just going to post a link to the trip album, but then I found that I had something to say about each picture. Then I thought I'd put captions on each one, but then I thought that if I'm gonna be writing all that anyway, I might as well put it in a blog post where (theoretically) it'll be saved for posterity and maybe even printed into a book (if I can find a decent computer to run the bookmaking program).

The first picture was for Lesli, who requested a shot of her hair.

Here's Elizabeth at Golden Acres eating a leaf while we talk with Grandma Fawnie outside.

Daddy is playing the ukulele for Elizabeth. Behind her, you can see the Beep Box he made for her.

Here are Elizabeth and Grandma Fawnie, each in their strollers :) Grandma was so thrilled each time Elizabeth came to see her.

We went over to Maude Neiding park for a picnic lunch. Here, Daddy is pushing Elizabeth in the swing, which obviously makes her happy.

This is what life looks like from Elizabeth's point of view--people keep playing with those cool black boxes that they hardly ever let her eat.

Some action shots for you. Elizabeth is telling us she wants MORE swinging.

This one is a rare good shot of me (since I'm generally behind the camera. I even like my hair here.

Still at the park, I took Elizabeth down the slide on my lap, then Daddy tried to let her slide down by herself on her belly. She kept trying to catch herself with her feet, and wasn't impressed by the experience.

Here she is gnawing on a tangerine. I love how her little hands hold it just so.

We tried to avoid giving her a messy watermelon rind, but soon realized that it wasn't possible to keep it from her. She does seem to enjoy it! She ate all sorts of new things on the trip. Mom gave her fresh mint from the garden, and it gave her minty fresh breath. Daddy gave her cherry tomatoes, which she loved, but got all over their clothes (I changed her outfit, but Daddy wore tomato guts on his shoulder for the rest of the day). Other hits were toast -- which she shared with the dog -- tastes of ice cream, Betsey's excellent cheesy lasagna, and Red Lobster croutons.

Here is the whole family at the park.

Some more action shots. In the basement at Mom's, is a table with a wooden train set on it. Elizabeth wasn't interested in the trains, but she did like standing by the table, which was just the right height. In these pictures, she tries to eat the magnetic end of the cargo crane, gets it in her mouth, then happily watches it swing away.

Daddy taught Elizabeth how to climb stairs while we were there, so it was one of her favorite things to do. When we went down to Oberlin, that's what kept her happy at Bead Paradise while we shopped (we took turns entertaining her). After shopping, we stopped in at O.H.I.O's Monroe House where Mom, Steve, Doug and I all worked at various times over the years. Pat Murphy and Mary Anne Cunningham were there, and very pleased to see us and meet Elizabeth. In this picture, she's climbing the VERY STEEP wooden stairs there. After getting some great experience as an intern at O.H.I.O., Mary Anne recommended me to her brother-in-law who hired me to do computer work for him at BYU. I knew only marginally more than he did about writing web pages, but learned on the job, and ended up writing web pages for most of my time at BYU. I also wrote my first Access database for O.H.I.O.'s membership records -- and that experience also helped me get two other great jobs. Looking back, those internships really did help prepare me for working in the real world, and had a significant impact on my career. Thanks O.H.I.O. and the Lorain County Internship Program (or whatever it was called) that paid for it!

The trees at Grandma's house make fascinating moving shadows on the refrigerator -- and so does Grandpa!

Poor Elizabeth! She crawled all the way over there, and then the kitty walked away :( Well, don't feel too bad for her. Since then, she got to pet Molly Cat at Ahlstrom's house, and a couple of cats at a friends' houses in our ward here in California. One even purred while she pulled on its ears!

Here is Niko, Susan Hatch's whippet puppy, who is giving Elizabeth a kiss. I blogged more about that visit here.

I don't have any pictures of Elizabeth at the Ahlstroms on my camera. We were both so tired and cranky by the end of the drive that I left picture taking to the grandmas who haven't sent me copies yet. Kathey did post a few on her blog, and that's where this one came from. I like that you can see her teeth in this picture. Unfortunately, the lighting in the house wasn't very good, so the pics are all dark and flash lit. We did have a nice time on the backyard gazebo swing, and the lighting was great, but by the time Kathey realized where we were and came out with a camera, we had already decided to come in since we were being eaten alive (I had at least seven mosquito bites). We said, it'll be OK, we'll come back out here tomorrow after church. Of course, Sunday after church was when Ike decided to show up, and it was dangerous to be outside with all the branches flying through the air.

We stopped at Steve's house on the way down to Dayton...

...And again on the way back up. You can see that the wind was pretty strong there too. Steve was without power for days, and there were shingles coming off his roof, and trees falling on cars in his parking lot. He jokes that he got hit worse by Ike than Heather, who lives just outside Houston, did.

Here's Elizabeth and me with Grandma Fawnie. One of the major reasons we went on the trip was because Elizabeth hadn't met her Great-Grandma yet. I wanted to take her out there while Grandma was still coherent--and she did recognize us when we went, and was sad to see us go at the end of the trip.

Here's Mom pushing Grandma in the wheelchair. Grandma wasn't quite the way I remember her. One day, Mom brought her a Swiss Roll as a treat. Grandma looked at it and said, "Eww! What's that?" Mom said, "It's chocolate and cream, Mom." Grandma screwed up her face and said, "Oh, how awful." and shuddered at the thought. This is my Grandma -- whose idea of a good snack was lemon frosting on crackers -- who didn't think cool whip was good enough, so she'd whip her own cream when serving pie (or strawberries) and add just a little vanilla pudding to make it set up nice.

Here are Elizabeth's Grandpa and Great-Grandpa enjoying her. This bench was painted white, with red handprints all over it, and a blue base. Every time we went outside to sit and talk in the sunshine, Grandma would make a comment or three about how ugly it was.

On our last full day there, Mary Beth Lyon and Jill Pavic came over for dinner. I realized later that since I was taking all the pictures, I didn't get any with me and my good friends together. Sigh.

Here we are home again after a trying time with a delayed flight and Mama running on almost no sleep (Elizabeth caught a cold and had to be soothed back to sleep about every twenty minutes the night before we left). Elizabeth is SOOOO happy to see her Daddy! She's grabbing his face to be sure he's real (and because his beard is so fun to pull).

Well, that's all for now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Vision by Joseph Smith Jr.

The Vision

And again I bear record of heavenly things,
Where virtue's the value above all that is priz'd,
Of the truth of the gospel concerning the just,
That rise in the first resurrection of Christ.

Who receiv'd, and believ'd, and repented likewise,
And then were baptiz'd, as a man always was,
Who ask'd and receiv'd a remission of sin,
And honoured the kingdom by keeping its laws.

Being buried in water, as Jesus had been,
And keeping the whole of his holy commands,
They received the gift of the spirit of truth,
By the ordinance truly of laying on hands.

For these overcome, by their faith and their works,
Being tried in their life-time, as purified gold,
And seal'd by the spirit of promise to life,
By men called of God, as was Aaron of old.

They are they, of the church of the first-born of God,
And unto whose hands he committeth all things;
For they hold the keys of the kingdom of heav'n,
And reign with the Saviour, as priests and as kings.

They're priests of the order of Melchizedek,
Like Jesus (from whom is this highest reward),
Receiving a fulness of glory and light;
As written--they're Gods even sons of the Lord.

So all things are theirs; yea, of life or of death;
Yea, whether things now, or to come, all are theirs,
And they are the Saviour's, and he is the Lord's,
Having overcome all, as eternity's heirs.
--Joseph Smith Jr.
To read the full text of this poetical rendering of D&C section 76, click here.

Today in Church, we had a lesson from the Joseph Smith Manual titled, "Beyond the Veil: Life in the Eternities." We talked mostly about the three degrees of glory, and who will go to which one (If you are reading this and you're not familiar with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, you may want to read the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on Degrees of Glory to get an overview of the doctrine we were discussing). I mentioned a little sheepishly to someone sitting near me that it would have been easier to answer the questions about specific attributes that qualify you for each kingdom if I'd brought my scriptures with me (I carry around 22 pounds of baby, and 25 pounds of baby stuff -- At the moment, I'm limiting my books to a pocket sized Book of Mormon and New Testament). She said that she wouldn't know where to look, so I opened her scriptures to D&C Section 76 and showed her that the summary showed which verses talked about each of the Degrees of Glory. After that, she partly listened to the lesson, and partly read that section of the Doctrine and Covenants. At one point during the lesson, she asked me to repeat what had just been said -- that the only way to reach the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom was to make and keep the covenants of Eternal Marriage (see D&C 131:1-4).

At the end of the lesson, she turned to me and said something along the lines of, "I'm sure I've read this before, but I really don't remember it. I'd kind of thought about the subject, but I don't remember seeing it spelled out so distinctly. There's not really a lot of room for interpretation in this. So does this mean that if you don't join the church and go to the temple in this life that there's no chance for you? Someone in my extended family isn't a member, and it tears me up to think that not only he, but his faithful Mormon wife won't make it."

I told her that if this life was all the chance there was, then there would be no point in doing temple work for the dead. I also said that there are many reasons that someone might not join the church, and that not all of them were that they didn't believe in Jesus Christ and accept him as their personal savior. Essentially, I said that there is a chance for this family member. At that point, her child arrived with gum all over his hands, and she had to go take care of him, so I didn't get to finish explaining the other side of the issue, so I thought I'd post my understanding of it here, and ask for comments so that when I see her later, I can be sure to have my facts straight.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God. Earth Life is a kind of test to see whether we can have faith and keep His commandments. The same spirit that possesses our bodies when we die will do so in the hereafter. So if a person is unwilling to keep the commandments when alive, they'll probably be unwilling to do so after they're dead (This is what Alma talks about in his sermon on restoration. See Alma 34:32-35).

Heaven is a place of Eternal Progression. In the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, we won't be sitting around on clouds and playing harps, we'll be doing things -- learning, teaching creating, having families, and leading another generation of spirit children to exaltation (see D&C 132:20). I'm not really sure of the details, but it'll be work. God said, "this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (SeeMoses 1:39) This brings me back to the concept of restoration -- if you weren't willing to work for your own salvation during earth life, then why would you be willing to work for others' in the eternities?

Remember the parable of the talents (see Matt 25:14-30) -- the guy with two talents didn't LOSE the Lord's money. He wasn't evil, spending it on his own vices or gambling it away. He just didn't do anything with it to make it more than it was before. People who don't try to progress toward salvation (the ones going to the Terrestrial Kingdom. see D&C 76:79) will have what they were given taken away (they won't have their families in the eternities. see D&C 132:15-20).

Now, I don't really know this family member, and even if I did, I am in no position to judge his reasons for not joining the Church. Is he lazy, and just wants to have a worldly lifestyle without the demands of all that following the commandments business? Or is he a good person, who's trying to live the best way he knows how, and just doesn't understand the importance of baptism and other covenants? Was he taught something as a child that makes it hard for him to accept Mormonism or abandon the faith of his fathers? Did someone offend him so badly that he won't give the message a chance? I don't know. Even if I knew all the details of his life, I wouldn't presume to know the deepest intents of his heart. That's what the Lord means when He tells us not to judge others (see Matt 7:1-2). I can't tell my friend or anyone else which kingdom they or anyone else will be going to.

I do know that the Lord is infinitely merciful, and that each of his children will be given a fair chance, whether in this life or the next, to accept the gospel, repent of their sins, and receive the blessings of the atonement (see D&C 138). I believe that we will have a say in our Last Judgement and assignment to kingdoms (see the last section of today's lesson from the Joseph Smith Manual). I believe that we will choose to be with people who made similar choices -- that that's the degree of glory we'll be comfortable with. I believe that where ever we go, it'll be better than we could possibly have hoped or imagined (see D&C 76:89-90).

So is there hope for this person? Yes. Should his family rest easy on that hope, and not continue to invite him to partake of the gospel message while he's alive? No. I believe that there will be consequences for those who procrastinate the day of their repentance (see Alma 34:33-35). It will be harder for them to make the necessary changes after they're dead. How? In what way? What consequences? I don't know. But I know that as I said at the beginning, this life is the time to prepare to meet God.

One more thing: There's a lot we don't understand about heaven and what will be going on there after we die. One could argue that if even the Telestial kingdom is going to be infintely better than Earth life, then "Why even bother trying for anything better? That's good enough for me." To this, I say the same thing that I say to those people who don't believe there's an afterlife at all. Keeping the commandments and living the gospel as outlined in the scriptures and teachings of the prophets will make you happier here and now. No matter what happens after we die, being kind to other people, forgiving others, and valuing our families are things that are clinically proven to bring happiness and peace.

Anyway, that's what I believe. What do you believe? Are there relevant scriptures that I haven't cited? Even if you don't regularly comment, I'd love to have your thoughts on this one.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Lesson by Carol Lynne Pearson

The Lesson

Yes, my fretting,
Frowning child,
I could cross
The room to you
More easily.

But I’ve already
Learned to walk,
So I make you
Come to me.

Let go now—
You see?

Oh, remember
This simple lesson,
And when
In later years
You cry out
With tight fists
And tears—
“Oh, help me,
Just listen
And you’ll hear
A silent voice:

I would, child,
I would.
But it’s you,
Not I,
Who needs to try
--Carol Lynne Pearson

I asked Mom for a suggestion on a poem today, and she gave me this one. It's about a child learning to do new things, and so, in that way, it's appropriate. This child seems hesitant and fearful though, and Elizabeth is anything but as she clamors for more new and interesting experiences and feats of locomotion. One of these days, we'll have to teach her some healthy fear, but for now, it's fun to watch her try everything, and take all kinds of stuff in stride.

Ordinarily, a newsy post like this would be full of pictures and video, but the cord to the camera is in my suitcase in the room where Elizabeth is sleeping, and I don't want to risk waking her, so you'll have to wait. Sorry.

Plane Trip
The plane flight was long and hard on both of us, but not as bad as I'd feared. They sent me through a special line in security for people who'll need extra help and time, and I had ZERO wait, and nobody breathing down my neck, pushing me through. Because of their open seating policy, Southwest doesn't let small children preboard, but does give them a special spot between the "A" group and the rest of the crowd, so I had a decent choice of seats. For the first and longest leg, we had an empty seat beside us, so Elizabeth could sit or crawl/climb a little. She wanted to eat the bald head of the poor guy in front of us, but he also had an empty seat in his row, so he moved over. She was pretty good, all things considered, but we were both happy to get off and stretch.

The second leg was only an hour or so, but the flight was completely full, so there was no chance of an extra seat. When I got on, I saw that there were two large men in the first row with an empty space between them. There's extra legroom in that front row, so I asked if I could sit there to let Elizabeth have some space to stand or crawl if she needed to. It was a really good decision. The men were both Grandpas (well technically, only one of them was, but the other was a Grandpa at heart even though his kids hadn't seen fit to provide him with any little ones to shower his grandfatherly affections on). They welcomed Elizabeth with open arms (literally) and held her, tickled her, let her climb all over them and try to eat their glasses, and were all around the best seatmates I could hope for.

Mom was a bit late getting to the airport, so we had to wait outside for a few minutes before she arrived (there was a slight misunderstanding about the time), but that was all right because it gave Elizabeth the first of her animal experiences for the trip. A woman with a little dog was waiting on the bench next to us, and both Elizabeth and the dog were delighted to make a new acquaintance. He licked her hand, she tried to grab his tongue and ears, and everybody was happy as clams.

The next paragraph might be T.M.I. for guys not comfortable with frank discussions of breastfeeding, so skip it if you just don't want to go there. Elizabeth is so interested in the world around her that she has a hard time eating or sleeping anywhere but her own room because there's just so much to see. We woke up at four-thirty to get on the road, and that was the last time she was willing to nurse for the whole trip. I knew that this would probably be the case, so I packed plenty of milk and baby food, but though she wasn't too disturbed by the change in the method of geting food in, MY body was. You can't warn yourself ahead of time to not bother making milk today 'cause the baby isn't gonna eat it. By the time we got home, I was so engorged, I thought I was about to explode. I warned Grandpa not to squeeze too hard when he hugged me, or I might pop. I went straight upstairs and got out the pump that I had been clever enough to bring with me, and pumped THIRTEEN ounces out of ONE SIDE!!! No wonder I was so uncomfortable! You have to go through something like that to really get the scripture in Isaiah 49:15, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Physically, you CAN'T forget a sucking child.

Along with the dog at the airport, she's also met Susan Hatch's lovebird and dog Niko, the bunnies and puppies at Golden Acres, our family's cat, lots of enormous ants, and the lobsters tank at Red Lobster.

Susan blogged about our visit here. She's a dear friend, one of the few I've kept in touch with since I've moved. We read each other's blogs, so I knew that she'd done a lot of work moving into her new home, and while I was in town, I wanted to see it. She generously invited us over for lunch, and we had a delightful couple of hours catching up and talking about china patterns. As I said above, Susan has a Lovebird -- a pretty green bird with a read head -- who did not seem to like Elizabeth. It spent most of the time with its feathers puffed to show the baby who kept trying to grab it through the cage that it was big and dangerous. 'Lizbeth thought it was pretty, but we didn't spend much time by the cage because the poor bird looked so stressed.

Niko wasn't at all intimidated by the baby though. For one thing, he's about twice her size, and for another thing, he's an energetic puppy. He was jumping up on us to spread his love around from the moment we walked in, to the minute we left, with short spaces in between to savage his dog toys (OK, I'm exaggerating. He did calm down toward the end of our visit, and also let us eat in peace). Elizabeth was thrilled that at last there was an animal that wasn't behind bars or glass, yet would not only stay in one place long enough for her to grab and pet (see our cat below), but also do fun things like licking her face and barking. She was more than happy to share her toys when Niko tried to steal them (though everyone else in the room forbade this), and after he snuck one piece of toast from her hand, she graciously offered him another. She liked his jingly dog tags, and the feel of his fur when he stood still and let her pet him. We got some good pictures and video, which I'll post when I can download the pictures from my camera.

Our family cat, Kitty, is not a child-friendly animal. When I was younger, I tried to get her to sleep in my bed, but she never would submit to my loving kindness. Now, when she's old and grumpy, she's even less likely to sit still for little fingers to grab at her fur. Elizabeth will spot her from the living room, taking a nap on her favorite bit of computer room floor, and set out to catch the Kitty. The baby crawls over, making the difficult shift from carpet to slippery Pergo, and back to carpet again. As the lumbering child approaches, the cat hears her coming and wakes up. She doesn't want to move from her spot, so she sits there, defiantly hoping that the dreaded baby will get tired before she makes it the whole ten or twelve feet across the floor. Her breathing becomes quicker and quicker as Elizabeth gets closer and closer. Finally, when Elizabeth is about 18 inches away, and is so close that she can taste victory at last, the cat stands up and walks slooooowwwwly away, shooting dirty looks at the baby and all the adults that aren't protecting her from such indignities.

The best Elizabeth was able to get was one of Kitty's patented fuzzy belly taunts. We went downstairs and found the cat waiting at the basement door, wanting to be let out. I opened the sliding glass door a couple of inches and she slipped out onto the back patio. I closed the door, and let Elizabeth stand and bang on it as the cat lay down on the cement and rolled onto her back to show off the soft fuzziness of her belly as if to say, "I know what you want, here it is, so tempting to rub, but you can't have it. I'll be off like a shot the moment you open that door again." The cat even had the nerve to watch and wait till she was sure we were watching before she did it. Then she walked back and forth for a bit to tease the baby some more before going off after some poor small animal in Mom's garden (she is getting slower, though. Daddy has seen chipmunks coming back after fifteen years, and he had to buy a trap to get the mice that were eating the potatoes under the kitchen sink).

Golden Acres
We've been going to the Golden Acres nursing home to visit Grandma Fawnie, and Elizabeth has been a big hit with not only Grandma (I'll make a separate post about our visits with her), but the staff and other residents as well. They have bunnies and puppies to brighten the lives of the residents (and Elizabeth loves to look at them as we go in and out the front doors), but they don't often get babies in there. Everybody wants to hold her, including very old, very frail looking old grandmothers. I try to be as generous as Elizabeth is with her room brightening smiles, but it's hard to hand a squirming 20 pound baby over to somebody who looks like they could be knocked over with a feather, and is already walking with a cane or sitting in a wheelchair. So far, she hasn't done any damage to anybody, though she has grabbed plenty of glasses, noses, and ID badges, and stolen the hearts of all the nurses. I think I may look for a nursing home in Torrance to take her to during visiting hours, so she can continue to make people happy with her smile and her winning personality.

We don't have stairs at home in Torrance (well, we do have stairs to get in to the house, but Elizabeth is always carried up and down them and I don't intend to change that anytime soon, since there are spiders living there) so when we came here, I was a little worried about Elizabeth crawling over and falling down them. We've been careful about where we let her crawl, and she's slow enough that with four adults watching her all the time, she doesn't have a chance to make a break for it. While Daddy was taking a turn with her though, he decided to introduce her to the stairs under controlled conditions. She likes to crawl and climb and stand up next to things, so she was pleased to find this nice new giant plaything. With her Grandpa placing her feet, she provided the muscle power and climbed five or six stairs. I was very impressed, but even more impressed a few days later when we were down in Oberlin at Bead Paradise. Mom and I took turns entertaining Elizabeth and looking at beads, and found that the safest place for her in the store was the carpeted stairway that had NO trays of beads on it. Without any prompting or foot-placing at all, she climbed first one stair, then another and another. Before we knew it, she was on the landing four stairs up! I got some video -- which I'll post later -- though it wasn't very steady or well framed because it's hard to stand far enough away to take decent video when you want to keep a hand on the baby's bum to be there in case she falls. We also went over to O.H.I.O. (the historical society where Mom and I used to work), and saw our old friends Mary Anne and Pat, and Elizabeth even climbed the horribly steep hard wooden stairs of the Monroe House.

Of all the amazing things that Elizabeth has experienced and done over the last week, the most amazing thing happened today. She was crawling around on the floor while Mom was sewing, and I was sitting in the doorway so she wouldn't go out the door an over the balcony (Mom has moved the sewing machine upstairs to the small bedroom I think of as Steve's Room). Elizabeth crawled over to my knees and started pulling herself up on them a she often does. Then she stuck her bottom in the air with her hands on my knees -- again this is something she does all the time trying to stand up. The amazing thing is that this time, instead of getting frustrated and sitting back down, or complaining till Mama held her hands to help her up, she just did it. She stood up all by herself! She stood there, a little hunched over, balancing, holding on to nothing but the black poodle in her arms, for about ten seconds -- long enough for me to say, "Mom! Look at her! Look at her!" Then she tipped forward into my arms and got showered with praise and kisses. She's been doing pretty well with standing next to things and has figured out how to move her feet to walk along an edge, but I thought it would be another couple of weeks before she'd stand unsupported, and even longer before she'd stand UP unsupported! My sweet little baby is growing up! :) My sweet little baby is growing up. :( It's an amazing thing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Easter Song by Mabel Gabbott

Easter Song

In the morning in the garden
Birds were singing soft and low.
Flowers nodded, grasses whispered,
As if to say, “We know, we know.”

Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
All the earth is glad again.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
And all men shall live again.

Mary waited in the garden,
Hoping she would see our Lord.
Then He called her, “Mary, Mary,”
And she knew His quiet word.

Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
All the earth is glad again.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
And all men shall live again.
--Mabel Gabbott

This song was published in the April 1984 Friend magazine, but my Grandma Fawnie must have heard it earlier because she wrote it inside an Easter card she sent to our family in 1980.

She got a blank church program with the above picture of Christ and the Children by Hook on the cover, and wrote her testimony and the first verse and chorus of this poem. I found it today, while looking through my baby book. I don't really remember my Grandma talking about her testimony of Jesus very often, though I never doubted she had one. It was just sort of understood, I suppose. Anyway I treasure this now that I've found it, and wanted to share it with my siblings.

Easter Week 1980
Dear Mike, Doug, Karen & David
We would like to tell you about Jesus because EASTER is a happy time. He lived a long time ago, our Heavenly Father sent him to help us all know the right way to live. Jesus loved little children. He loves each one of you, now.
When Jesus died his friends were very sad. They went to visit his tomb -- it was a Sunday -- the First EASTER DAY. An angel told them that Jesus was alive again and lives with Heavenly Father. This is Happy news! because if Jesus lives again & was resurrected after he died -- then we will be able to live again even after we die. If we are kind and do the things Jesus taught, we can live again with Heavenly Father and always be happy.
We love you all very much and care about you. It makes us happy to know you are a happy family.
Love Grampa Holt & Gram'a Holt

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Little Black Bug by Margaret Wise Brown

Little Black Bug

Little black bug,
Little black bug
Where have you been?
I've been under the rug,
Said little black bug.

Little green fly,
Little green fly,
Where have you been?
I've been way up high,
Said little green fly.

Little old mouse,
Little old mouse,
Where have you been?
I've been all through the house
Said little old mouse.
--Margaret Wise Brown

I really don't have time to be writing this blog post. I need to go to Grandma's and pack for my trip, but I really want to write about how clever Elizabeth has been today.

First, she stood up in her Pack-N-Play all by herself! It's not like a normal crib with slats that she can hold onto to pull herself up. That means that in order to stand, she needs to get right up to the edge, get up onto her knees (sitting on her heels) then stretch her hands up above her head and lift her bum as high as it can go to reach to top bar. Then, she needs to pull herself up with her arms for at least long enough to get her feet flat underneath her to push up. This is a baby who is not content with crawling, and is doing all she can to learn how to stand. She still has a way to go before she walks -- she has figured out how to move two or three feet sideways along the edge of a couch or church pew, but she only goes to the right, and it's not a coordinated effort. Of course, all this just means that she's even LESS likely to fall asleep when I put her in the Pack-N-Play. I found her standing this morning because she was screaming her distress at being left alone in there.

Later, we were sitting in the rocking chair, and I thought she might like to read a book. I got out Eloise Wilkin's Poems to Read to the Very Young. It's a board book that's a little larger than a Little Golden Book, so there are several pictures and poems on each page. She likes to pat her hands on the pictures as I read, and today, I noticed that she was patting the little children's faces. Every time I'd turn the page, she'd find another face to pat. I turned to a page with some animals on it and said, "Look, there's the cow. It goes Moo." and I pointed to the cow. She patted the cow's face and scratched at it with her index finger. I pointed again and said, "Here's the doggie. He says woof." Elizabeth patted the dog picture. Then did the same when I pointed out the sheep. She really wanted to pick up the little black beetle from its page (with the poem above) and kept going back to it. It makes me happy to see that she's paying attention to what's on the page, and what I point out to her.

We went into the office so that I could check my email, but she was still unhappy about being left alone -- even when I'm sitting to feet away. I sat on the floor with her, and when she spotted her jingle ball (a stuffed globe with a chime inside), we made up a game. I'd roll it into her lap, then she'd push on it till it fell out (she can't really roll it back on purpose yet). Then I'd pick it up and roll it back to her. She loves to see things roll, and will chase a ball across the floor -- then go further and further as her attempts to grab a large ball in her tiny hand just make it roll away again.

When she was done with the ball, she saw the tiger xylophone-piano, crawled up and over my legs to get to it, and started hitting the keys to make music. This is one of the first times that she seems to have done that on purpose -- other times she has hit the keys and the metal and the plastic tiger head pretty much indiscriminately.

I'm so proud of my baby Elizabeth. It's like a switch has been thrown in her brain that lets her figure out what's going on and what things are for. Feats that were too much for her brain or coordination just a week or two ago are becoming old hat, and now that she's figured out how to figure out, all sorts of possibilities are opening up.

She is also very clear about what she wants. Certain things just make her happy, and she goes back to them over and over. And it's not because Mama pushes them on her. Take, for instance, metal poles. She loves metal poles. She finds them on lamps, fans, Grandma's walker, Susanna's crutches, Mama's little camera tripod, etc. The other day, she crawled under the pack-N-Play, grabbed one of the poles that held up the bassinet part (that I took off when she started rolling over and sitting up), Crawled back out, and sat happily playing with it. She dragged it with her all over the house, and when she happens to see it, she picks it up and holds it above her head and bounces happily like she's holding a trophy and saying, "Look what I did! I got it! Now I have one of my very own!!!"