Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hannah can read!

...sort of. She knows all her letters and knows what sounds they make. She can "sound out" the individual letters of a word, but until now hasn't quite gotten the idea that she can put the sounds together to "read" the word. Tonight, she sounded out a word and (finally, with help) put the sounds together and figured out what the word was. Here it is:


er, God.

(As she was sounding it out, more often than not, the "d" was a "b," but I imagine that's pretty common for kids to do.) Later, she looked a sheet of stickers, some of which said "God" on them, and she was able to pick out the word God every time.

So I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, but I can't help but think that it'll just be a matter of time before she can read on her own. Too fun! I can't wait to share my love of books with her. I'll just have to be wise to the tricks (as a kid, I would stuff a rolled up towel or clothes against the bottom of my door so my mom couldn't tell my light was on when I was up past midnight reading Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables). Though wily Miss Hannah will probably come up with things I never would have thought stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New slide show - with some pics from California

Domestic Life

Update from the domestic side of Ray Family Life:
Wake up, eat breakfast, do dishes. Play, eat lunch, do dishes, take naps. Make dinner, eat dinner, do dishes (or not), get ready for bed. The end, see you next week.

Just kidding...kind of. The boring truth is that we haven't been up to much lately. We had a couple "nice" days (low 60s, which really was nice for us), but now we're back to cold rain again. Hannah was inside all day yesterday, so I set up her tent (from Nana - similar to this one, but in pink camouflage) in the living room. She loved it and she and Elizabeth spent quite a while playing and going in and out. She ate a "picnic" lunch in there and of course wanted to sleep in it for her nap. Luckily it fit in our bedroom and her mattress fit inside as well (more on why she's sleeping in our room in a minute). She conked right out and took a 2+ hour nap - and I had to wake her up! Then her friend Allie came over and the two girls had a blast coloring and "hiding" from Bethie in the tent. A success! And she slept in it last night and did great, except for waking up once, flailing against the sides, scared. I got her calmed down and she was fine.

Hannah's on Easter break this week from school, so we don't even have that to distract us. since there's not much else to do, I'm letting her watch a little more TV - currently Bob the Builder. Later we'll probably play Candy Land - Dora, natch. (Side note: when we first got this game and I began teaching it to Hannah, I realized why it has been such an enduring classic for 60-ish years. I probably could have said nothing and turned her loose and she would have figured it out. It is such an intuitive process and she just "got it." She's really cute - a game just isn't complete if she doesn't get a "pink card," one of the various pieces of candy that sends you forward or backward. She doesn't care which direction she goes, she just wants the pink card. She's just barely starting to get the concept of winning and losing...darn. I liked it much better when she had no concept at all - games were much more fun.)

Bethie is still Bethie. We can't believe we're less than 3 weeks from her first birthday! How did that happen? She still just scootches around on her tummmy - no crawling, no pulling up, she can't even sit her own self up from a prone position. When we pull her up though and help her "walk," she screeches and wiggles and takes off - usually after Hannah. When you try to sit her back down she stiffens up her whole body so you can't sit her down. She would probably "walk" around the house all day if our backs could handle it. She's a very sensitive soul. She often cries because her feelings have been hurt. Her face just collapses and if she's laying on her tummy, she puts her head down on her hands and sobs. If she remembers to put her thumb in her mouth or has a parent nearby to comfort her, she calms down pretty quickly. (One of the worst offenders? Leaving her in a room and shutting the door behind you. We've asked Hannah not to do this because Elizabeth just wails - it's pure torture.)

Bethie says "baby" and "uh-oh" and can make the sounds for mama, daddy, apple, and several others (she just doesn't match the meanings yet). We're finding that she's quite the mimicker. She repeats many many sounds she hears - anything from letter sounds to tone of voice. She signs "more" and "all done" and is starting to sign "please." She now copies us and folds her hands when it's time to pray before meals. When we ask her to give us something she complies. And since she eats absolutely everything she finds on the floor, she knows that when she hears, "Now what are you eating, child?" she pulls the offending object out of her mouth and hands it to me (unless it's especially tasty, like dried orange Play-Doh, in which case she cries as if you ran over her puppy).

Ever since we got back from California, she had been waking up earlier and earlier. When it was 4:10 a.m. and nothing worked until I nursed her, we decided something had to be done. So we moved Hannah on her mattress into our room, intending to soothe Bethie upon her early-morning wake up, but not take her out of bed and make her figure out that she needed to go back to sleep. That first day, she only got one (long) nap and went to bed at 6:45 p.m. She slept until 5:45, I nursed her on the couch (instead of our bed) and put her back in her own bed. She went right back to sleep until 8:00! It's been pretty much the same since last Thursday night. This morning I didn't nurse her until 6:45 - 12 hours of sleep! So Hannah will probably move back into their room tonight and we'll pray that Bethie keeps sleeping well. We'll see!

I'll leave you with a few recent Hannah-isms. Thanks for reading!

(On the plane to California…)
H: Mommy, did you remember to pack my vitamins?
M: Yes, they’re in your shoe (meaning, in her shoe in her suitcase).
H: (totally confused and looking at her feet) I didn’t feel them.

H: Mommy, tomorrow can you play Dress-up with me?
M: Sure babe.
H: I mean Snake. (Then she lays on the floor and wriggles like a snake to demonstrate - don't we all get Dress-up and Snake confused?)

I was explaining to Don why Hannah had a grilled cheese with mayonnaise for lunch and she interjects, “I don’t want to discuss it.”

In Hannah-land, Spaghetti = Stabecki.

We were trying to explain the time change and Daylight Savings Time and she said, “So that’s why last night it was still morning?”

Bethie was saying the sound “ah, ah” and Hannah exclaimed “Mommy, Sissy’s trying to say ottoman!”

Hannah’s friend Anna explained to me that her mommy and daddy like it when she drinks beer because it’s healthy for her.

We were listening to a Superchick song called "So Bright", and when they repeat “So bright, so bright, so bright, so bright…” she asked, “Are they saying ‘pretzel?’”

(Here you can tell she still has a few, uh, minor gender identification issues to work out…)
H: I’m the Princess of Jazz.
M: Can you scat?
H: Yeah. (She skips across the kitchen.) That’s my scatting…Have you met my wife? He’s nice.
M: What’s his name?
H: Jasmine. He likes people.

(Finally, a stewardship interaction to warm the hearts of both her earthly daddy and her heavenly Daddy.)
“Especially coins are really important for God because they’re silver. I’m going to give this big big big one to Jesus (a quarter) because it has a bird on it."

Monday, March 10, 2008

That's My King!

Greetings from the Ray Family!

DR: This post officially marks our longest "blog dry spell" of 17 days without a new post...thanks for your patience!

We are safely back in St. Louis after a wonderful trip and visit with many family and friends in California, thank the Lord.

We are just about ready to begin the second week of our Spring quarter at the seminary. My schedule is absolutely nuts, and Stacye is a fantastic support for our girls and me as we continue to march on this journey together in Christ.

I estimate 14-hour days M-F and 4- to 5-hour days Sat-Sun, for the next 9 weeks. That's about 80 hours/week, if my math is right. And I don't think that's much of an exaggeration, really. It's just plain crazy.

I frankly don't always agree with how much the seminary throws at us, but it is what it is. I think an unfortunate consequence of having this much "stuff" given to us is that it implicitly teaches future pastors that < insane busyness = "productivity" >. But I'm not at all convinced Jesus wants us to run around like frantic rats. As Lily Tomlin once said, "The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat."

But what do I know? I'm just a first-year seminary student who isn't supposed to know anything. Rats!

Enough lamenting, I wanted to share with you a really powerful 2-3 minute clip I recently came across called "That's My King!" I tried to upload the video from our computer to this site but it wouldn't work. So instead, here is the link to the site where I got it from. Just click on the words "click here to preview" underneath the video box and it will play.

It is an audio excerpt from a sermon delivered by the late Rev. S.M. Lockridge. You'll just have to watch it and listen to it--I pray God's Spirit moving through Pastor Lockridge moves and touches you as it has me. Frankly, I watch it often when the stress, busyness, and minutae of seminary nags at me. It reminds me of the God who loves us and whom we serve. He is awesome, He is everything, He is our all in all!!!

Be blessed this week. Christ does indeed loves you, even when it may not feel like it. And we love you too. Hope to talk and visit with you soon.

Don and the girls