Elijah’s Name

Today our family has the privilege of celebrating Elijah’s first birthday! First birthdays are always exciting, but this one holds special significance to us because twice in his short life, we thought we might lose Eljiah. If you haven’t heard it yet, here is the story behind Elijah’s name, shared at his baby dedication a couple of months ago.

Camp Tikva 2016

A few weeks ago, Lydia participated in her second Camp Tikva. Abby, Paul, and I came along and sat in for the singing and some of the stories, wandered around the building, visited with other moms and little kids, and played on the playground.

Lydia did a great job sitting quietly for two long story sessions, almost two hours of just listening to “Grammy” tell Bible stories with flannel graph. But, Grammy has a gift for telling stories so well that everybody wants to stop and listen. Even Abby would beg me, “Go see-uh pictures?” when Paul was noisy and we had to step out. (Abby is in a phase where she adds “uh” onto the end of many of her words. It’s pretty cute.)

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Abby also loved the music.

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Paul loved finding different things he could play with. One day it was the empty water cooler.

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He even got to go up front once. 🙂

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And, of course, the playground was a big hit.

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Every afternoon we would ask Lydia what her favorite part of the day was and every afternoon she would answer, “The Bible stories and the playground.”

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Even Paul could find plenty to do.

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It was a tiring week for Paul. And the rest of us. Although, Lydia would never admit it. (That’s her having fun on the monkey bars in the background.)

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By the end of the week, Abby was sneaking in with the kids for the singing and stories. The “Camp Tikva Song” this year was the Bible passage James 5:10-18. Everyone sang the song a million times and over 100 kids (including Lydia!) were able to memorize the whole passage.

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So ended our busy vacation, Camp Tikva craziness. The activities ended just in time for the hottest weeks of the summer, but we’re holding up ok. 🙂 In just over a week, Dan has another week off work and we’re planning a stay-cation. Until then we’ll just be taking it easy, playing the sprinklers and sitting in front of fans!

In Case You’re in the Area…

Every February, around the time when everyone is getting sick of being cooped up inside while the snow falls and winds blow outside, when kids are stir crazy and parents are stir crazier, and when the Mr. Christmas Moose is getting a little sleepy, our family eagerly anticipates the coming Fur Rondezvoux (always the third Friday in February)

That’s right! Fur Rondy is happening this Friday and YOU are all invited to attend. (Although I do realize most of you just can’t make that kind of a commute).

Here are the details:

Friday, February 19

Supper is provided (free food!) starting at 6 PM.

Ann Arbor Christian School Building
5500 Whitmore Lake Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Talent show starts at 7 PM (in case you don’t want the free food, but c’mon now…)

What to expect?
After a yummy buffet-style meal, we’ll all take our seats and watch an assortment of talents, skills, performances, and other random festivities. There will likely be music, videos, skits, art, dance, and whatever new ideas the young people have come up with this year.

And, while I can’t make any promises, Taylor children have been known to make an appearance during their first Fur Rondy show. 😉

Check out the girlie’s acts from 2012 and 2014:

Hope to see you there!

Fur Rondy Highlights

Fur Rondezvous is our church’s annual talent show, named after the Fur Rondezvous festival that takes place in Alaska every year. It’s one of the most anticipated nights of the whole year and our family was especially excited to attend this year because we didn’t know if Baby would make it (in Mommy’s belly) that long.

There were so many fun and beautiful acts this year, but I wanted to share just a few with those of you who weren’t able to join us.

So we begin…

Lydia wanted me to share her two favorite acts.

The Good Samaritan:

And “the Ballerinas”:

This sweet song was a favorite of mine:

Oh, there were just so many good ones!

This group of boys did a superb job at boiling down a long, long Bible story into a very concise skit:

Now that you’ve seen the fun we enjoyed, maybe you’ll consider joining us the third Friday of next February for the 2016 Fur Rondy performance! While nothing is certain, it seems likely that Baby #3 may be making an appearance…

Pretty Quilts and Measuring Spoons

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This Saturday a couple of young ladies from church hosted a bridal shower for our friend, Rachel. Rachel and Peter are a sweet couple from our church who have known each other for years and will be getting married this August. It has been such a joy and a privilege to watch them grow from friends, begin a courtship, become engaged, and now anticipate their wedding. We are so excited for them!

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Dan totally saw it coming all along.

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After some snacks, a group of girls from church sang, “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.” They did a great job singing a beautiful hymn.

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Our Pastor’s wife, Rachel’s future mother-in-law, gave a little talk. A big part of the talk was expressing our church’s excitement for the couple and telling Rachel how much we love her.

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Then it was time for presents!

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There were lots of kitchen items. Here, Rachel was telling everyone that she had just opened some measuring spoons.

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Rachel is very sweet and thanked everyone for their gifts. This is her “thank you face”.

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Her grandma framed a picture of a mountain in Alaska. Peter and Rachel plan on traveling through Alaska for their honey moon, and may even go hiking on the mountain pictured.

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One of the last gifts Rachel opened was a very special quilt made by a family friend.

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And, believe it or not, the next gift was another quilt made by another one of Rachel’s good friends.

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Congratulations Rachel! We are looking forward to your wedding in less than two months!

Munchkin Update: 3 Years, 1 Month

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This month Lydia has been as cute, fun, and helpful as ever. A couple of nights ago she helped me peel cucumbers and spin salad. The only problem is teaching her not to get into my spices! On multiple occasions I have glanced over at her toy kitchen to catch her pouring garlic or mustard powder all over the floor and kitchen, getting a little bit into a toy pot or pan.

We’ve come to a bit of a stand-still when it comes to memorizing Bible verses. I tried to tackle all of Psalm 23 and, while I’m sure Lydia knows it all, her attention span isn’t long enough to sing it all at once. (Same with the books of the New Testament. She gets about halfway through and then sees something more interesting and forgets where she was).

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Every morning, the first thing I hear is Lydia calling for Daddy. Daddy is always at work when Lydia gets up, but that doesn’t stop her from calling for him every single day. Once she’s up, and getting dressed, she asks me if she can wear shorts, or as she has frequently called them, “the short pants”. Nana got her some flip flops during our trip North and she almost never takes them off. She’s learning her “left and right” right now and usually puts them on the wrong feet once before having to switch them.

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I started running again this week and Lydia loves to “share” the double stroller with Abby. It’s pretty adorable to look down while I’m jogging and see Lydia holding Abby’s hand. Once I finish my run, I let Lydia get out to jog a lap with me around our cul-de-sac. Between the running and learning to ride a tricycle this month, Lydia is becoming quite the active little toddler.

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She’s getting to the age where she often says cute and funny “Lydi-isms”. Last night we were sitting at dinner talking about boys and girls. Lydia pointed out that she and Mommy are girls, but Daddy is a boy. She told us that Abby is a “little girl”. Then I asked her, “Lydia, do you know what a grown up boy is called.” She confidently answered, “A pig.” We decided to stick with “boy” and “girl” for now.

Later, on the way home from Bible study Lydia started negotiating with Dan. She likes to watch a little baseball before she goes to bed at night. She also likes to snack on dates and crackers. So the conversation went something like this:

Lydia: When I get home, I want a date and two crackers and maybe some baseball.
Dan: Hm…how about one date and some baseball?
Lydia: One date, one cracker, and maybe some baseball. How ’bout that?
Dan: One date, baseball, and some water.
Lydia: One date, one cracker, water, and maybe some baseball. How ’bout that?

In the end, she got everything but the cracker.

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She sure is a sweet little helper, but very independent too. She is very particular and I never cease to be thankful that I get to be the one with her all day, learning how she thinks and works. At the same time, I get a lot of joy out of watching her play with others too. A few weeks ago marked a big milestone when we started letting Lydia go with the “big kids” during our Bible study. If it wasn’t a highlight of the week before, it sure is now. She comes home full of stories about Mr. Daniel, Daniella, and her little friend, Addy. And still, I’m happy that I get to be the one to snuggle up with her in the morning, talk about the day ahead, and read to her from her story Bible.

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Tips on Moving Efficiently

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I can’t believe we’ve moved four times in one year. That on top of spending three months in the NICU with Abby and Dan switching jobs. In Lydia’s short life she’s already lived at five different addresses, and that’s if you don’t count her first six months of life spent in the hospital.

You might think that with all this moving Dan and I would be experts at the process, but that’s not really the case. You see…

Move #1: I was pregnant with Lydia, but took lots of time packing boxes. Some sweet girls from church came over to pack my entire kitchen, and the youth group moved us. Three days later I had Lydia and Dan’s parents and grandparents came down to unpack us. It was months before I even started organizing anything.

Move #2: I was pregnant, with Abby this time, and the members of our Bible study offered to move us. I, once again, did a lot of the packing, but as far as the moving went, I didn’t lift a box. This time I was able to do a lot of unpacking, but eventually Dan’s mom did come down and helped me with my kitchen.

Move #3: This move was because a moldy condo was making our family sick, so it was sort of an emergency move. The ladies from our Bible study came and packed us in one night and just a few hours at that. Some of the men in the Bible study did all of the actual moving the following weekend. And as for unpacking, we never did get to do it. The short-term solution was furnished so our stuff mostly just stayed in boxes.

Move #4: This move happened a week after Abby was born, and as I was recovering from the c-section, I didn’t help with it at all. Dan’s mom packed whatever needed to be packed and the youth group moved us again. They unpacked my kitchen. A couple weeks later, Dan’s mom and aunt came down to unpack us.

Move #5: This brings us to our current move. We evacuated our home with only a few hours notice. The basement where we are staying is furnished, so once again, a lot of our stuff was headed for storage. We packed as quickly as possible and are living on meager belongings while trying to keep the rest in boxes. The easiest things about this move were that we didn’t have a baby in the hospital, I wasn’t recovering from labor and delivery or a c-section, and I’m not pregnant. The hard thing was that we did it all with a baby and toddler in tow.

All that to display that we are not moving experts. But we have picked up a few tricks to optimize the time and money involved in the gruesome moving process.

Don’t pay for boxes.
Did you know you can walk into any GFS and ask for boxes? Sometimes the pickings are meager, but sometimes there are some really nice boxes just waiting to be broken down. Almost anytime we’ve gone, we’ve been able to snatch enough boxes to fill our car. We never bother to break them down, we just fit what we can. If you’re planning far enough ahead, you can have as many boxes as you need. Since we’re always making last-minute moves, we usually run out of boxes and have to get a little creative.

Oh, and don’t worry about only grabbing big boxes. We took whatever was available and found the little boxes great for certain kitchen items, office supplies, or even food.

Mark ’em up.
Label boxes. It only takes a couple of seconds and later you’ll be glad you did. I try to label boxes with the room and a brief description of what’s inside (ie – “Kitchen Spices”). If there’s an item you might need right away, label that too (“toilet paper”).

Use what you’ve got.
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Don’t use up big boxes to pack away suitcases and duffle bags. Fill those up too! Just make sure you don’t put anything in there that you’re going to need urgently as you can’t just write on these with a permanent marker the way you might with free boxes from GFS.

Pack with towels
When it comes time to pack the kitchen, wrap up breakable items in your bathroom towels and wash cloths. It’ll save the boxes you’d need for packing linens and it’ll keep your fragile items from breaking during the move.

Keep important items handy.
There are certain items that you’re going to need when you get to your new location. Keep that in mind during packing so that items are either left out or clearly labeled and you know where to find them. Some that we find important are:

Bedding (clean and ready to use) – Before you know what happened to moving day it’ll be late and all you’ll want to do is go to sleep. The first thing you should do when you get to your new place is make up the beds.

Overnight Bag – toiletries, pajamas, clothing for the next day

Diapers and Wipes – if you have little ones

Cleaning Supplies – I know everyone thinks they’ll be unpacked before they need to clean, or at least I always did. But one day you move, then you get busy and don’t finish unpacking, and next thing you know your bathroom is moldy (not that that’s happened to us once…or twice…)

Important Papers – whether it’s a social security card, medical records, or your tax returns, there are times when you’re going to need these and you’ll want to know where to find them, especially if you’ll be house-hunting (like us!) or are dealing with insurance companies while your preemie is still in the hospital on a feeding tube (don’t get me started on that one!)

Toys or Books – Again, if you have little ones. Something has to keep them busy while you unpack.

Food and Kitchen Necessities – I usually end up pulling out a pot or two, serving spoon, a bowl and silverware each, water bottles, cutting board and knife. Sure, you could just eat out until you’re unpacked, but that’ll cost more. And, you could just use disposables, but that would cost more too.

Dish Soap and Sponge – If you decide to go with the real dishes and homemade food route…

Computer and Camera – So you don’t have to take a break from any important emails, or from updating your blog, in my case.

A Wooden Spoon – This is Dan’s absolute favorite all-purpose kitchen utensil. If I want his help in the kitchen, there must be a wooden spoon handy.

Bag up closet clothing.
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We learned this trick when we ran out of boxes during Move #3. Instead of painstakingly folding up every item in your closet, grab some kitchen draw string trash bags. Rip a hole in the bottom center of the bag and stick a bunch of hangers through the hole. Pull the bag over the rest of the clothes and stuff everything in as you draw the bag tightly closed. Tie shut. Now you’re good to go. These won’t stack as nicely as boxes, but when you get to your new house you can stick them right in the closet and rip the bag off. It’s so easy, it’s worth the unstackability. And if you use white bags you can even label them with the correct closet.

Keep Things Simple
Unless you have some weird circumstances (like us) where you’re storing items for an extended period of time, moving doesn’t have to be complicated. Just box things up as well as you can and get them unboxed as quickly as possible so you can enjoy your new home. Things don’t have to be pretty and if you have to mix items from different rooms, that’s ok too. Even if you’re not on a time crunch, there are too many good things in life to waste away hours packing things perfectly.

Be ok with a Little Chaos
You might have clutter for a while. You might even have to put the beautiful “just because I love you” flowers from your husband in a free North Face water bottle. It’ll be ok. The mess will be cleared up soon, and even if it isn’t, the world won’t end over a little clutter and the flowers will still look beautiful.

I’m preaching to the choir here though because the clutter around here is driving me crazy. It’s likely that the girls and I will be escaping for a week up North at some point, especially if this chaos continues for much longer…

Well, that’s all. Happy moving. And if you want to give somebody a really nice gift, offer to pack their kitchen.

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Easter According to Lydia

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We had a wonderful Easter spending time together as a family and with friends, celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. There were new and pretty dresses. There was a potluck breakfast. There was a joyous Easter service. There were lots and lots of pictures. It was, indeed, a celebration. And on Monday, when all the festivities were over, Lydia agreed to share with you all what she has learned about Easter.

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Abby Update: 18 Days Old

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Weight: Almost 2 pounds, 15 ounces
Feedings: 25 milliliters fortified to 24 cal every 3 hours given over the course of 1 1/2 hours

This week Abby is just making slow and steady progress. Now that she is off the breathing support and has reached full feedings, she really just needs to keep doing what she’s doing and gain weight. Once she reaches 32 weeks, she’ll be allowed to start learning to nurse (although it will probably take two or three weeks before she “gets it”). Until then, this Saturday, no news is good news.

Abby has continued to spit up at the end of her feedings. On top of that, her blood sugars were starting to drop. So the nurses began to check her blood sugars a couple of times a day. This weekend they extended her feedings to stretch over 1 1/2 hours to try to help the blood sugar issue. Dan and I were just thinking today that Abby is literally eating half of the time! Today her blood sugar levels were nice and high so tomorrow she will probably go back to hour long feeds. As for the spit up issue, she continues to spit up, especially if we move her at all, but the amount is small and no one is really concerned.

For about the past week Abby has only been gaining about 15 grams (half and ounce) every two days. Now that she is getting 25 ml every three hours and it’s being fortified to 24 calories, she is expected to gain faster. Since the last weight check (they weigh every other day) she gained 45 grams (about an ounce and a half) which is much better.

On Friday Abigail reached the age at which Lydia was born. I pulled out Lydia’s NICU scrapbook and have been reading my updates that correspond to Abby’s current age. Contrary to how things have seemed to us, Abby is not progressing faster than Lydia. In fact, they’re pretty much at the same pace. However, with a busier schedule and a toddler to chase around, time seems to be going faster this time. And Dan and I were commenting that, although we never would have expected to say this a couple of years ago, Abby makes Lydia look like a chubby baby. Hopefully that won’t be the case for long!

As for the rest of us, we’re doing much better than we were a week ago. Dan’s Mom came down last Wednesday and stocked us up on some fresh produce. Then, his Aunt Debbie joined her on Thursday and together they unpacked us and moved us in. This is the second time we’ve had a baby in the NICU and had to have others move us in and it is SUCH a blessing. Now we don’t have to go home to boxes and dig around to find our stuff.

Our NICU Routine

How do you manage parenting a toddler and spending time with a NICU preemie? Leading up to Abby’s birth I really thought this would be completely impossible. When Lydia was in the NICU we were busy enough, never eating regular meals, never getting to the grocery store, never getting any sleep…however God gives us the grace we need to meet our present needs. Three different families are taking turns watching Lydia from Sundays through Fridays and we keep her all day on Saturdays. For a family that never left Lydia with anyone ever, it’s a little strange to pack her a lunch and drop her off at someone else’s house, but we are grateful for the help. Another family is picking up fresh produce for us once a week and bringing it to us at church. We’ve put together a weekly meal plan and have actually been able to sit down together for dinner almost every night. Other families have helped by bringing food, gift cards, and gifts for Abby. We certainly would be floundering without our family and church family.

Others have asked how they can help. At the moment the best thing anyone can do for us is pray. For those who are able, we do enjoy having visitors and showing off our tiny bundle. I’ll post the times we are usually at the hospital and available for visitors, but it’s always best to give us a call ahead of time to make sure we’ll be here so you don’t waste a trip. The bold times are when we have Lydia with us and are easier times for us to have visitors as we probably won’t be holding Abby during those times. (Getting to hold Abby is quite the process. We have to get her out of her isolette with all those wires and wrap her up in warm blankets with Mom or Dad. Then she gets her feeding while we hold for an hour or more. We usually don’t have people in to visit while we are holding.)

Sunday: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM (we come right from church) and 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Monday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM and 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Tuesday: 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Wednesday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Thursday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM and 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Friday: 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Saturday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Praise the Lord
We are thanking the Lord for:
-Abby’s continued progress with no major bumps in the road yet
-generous friends and family who have helped and are helping with moving, food, and watching Lydia
-a more relaxed pace as we settle into a routine
-a sweet husband who has been sacrificing his turns to hold Abby and letting me hold her instead (he says it’s “good for a Mommy’s heart)

Please Pray
-that Abby would gain weight and that spitting up would not be a problem
-for continued healing for me…it takes a long time to recover from a c-section, I am learning
-for strength, energy, and endurance for all of us as this is a tiring lifestyle