Saturday, April 29, 2006

On Our Newest Olive Shoot :)

 Well all, we had our ultrasound last Wednesday and have just gotten over the (pleasant, of course) surprise. The culture of the Shaffer house is going to be quite changed over the course of the next year :). Andrew Kevin Lee is on his way and we are expectantly waiting his arrival! So begins a whole new chapter in the life of our family. Now, alongside the dolls and play food, there will be trucks and ...other boy toys. Ya, I've definitely got some research to do. Having had only sisters to grow up with and daughters up to this point I'm a little out of the loop :). I've already been on the Vision Forum website, sooo many times in the past I've been on their website and wished I knew of a little boy to buy for because they have some of THE neatest toys. Most of the girls Christmas came from there last year, I had almost as much fun getting it as they did :). But, baby really doesn't need toys quite yet. I was looking for "how to raise boys" resources this time.
   When we got home from our appointment Wednesday we brought a pink rose home for each of the girls and handed them out saying, "It was a girl, it was a girl, it was a girl...", and then handed mom (who was babysitting) a white one and said, "and this's a boy!!!". The girls wanted a boy this time but even they were rendered speechless when the moment of truth arrived :). We told the rest of the family that night by giving my dad a child-sized ball and mitt, I told him someone will have to teach him to play baseball :)! Lee is not really into sports, he is more interested in taking the girls outside and keeping our yard in bloom. The yard is beautiful right now, by the way, and I can say that because I'm not bragging on my own work. Anyway, I've gone through several sizes of clothes and found about half of a small bin of "boy" clothes. Not quite sure where any of them came from because the girls have never worn any of them except a couple pairs of jeans and PJ's. Most of them were grey sweatpants and red sweatshirts, not really even something I would use for play clothes... a little one in a South Carolina? Maybe for a week in February :). So, it looks like I have just acquired a great excuse to do a little shopping :). Lee and I stopped in at Wal-Mart to get the flowers after the appointment and picked out a few little boy outfits. They are hanging in our room for now and my heart flutters a little every time they catch my eye :). This will be an adventure :)! Tori was dancing through the house the other day singing, "Baby brother, baby brother, baby brother...". Bethani was dancing along with her but I don't think she's really grasping her upcoming role as big sister quite yet ;).
   Bethani will turn a year old on May 1st. She has been such a blessing and I can't believe that The Day is coming up so fast :(. I know ...a season for everything... I need to wrap this up so that I can put the finishing touches on the plans for my little girls very special day!
"Your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord."
Psalm 128:3b-4

Monday, April 24, 2006

What Do Amish Girls Do?

      We had a very, very busy week last week!
    It started with the celebration of our Lord's resurrection. We had a beautiful day, as I hope you all did as well. It took such a long time to get through the story of Jesus sacrifice for us but that was wonderful because the girls were so eager to know and were asking very intelligent questions, as well as surprising us by what they already knew. Even I was hit anew by ideas that have become so "common" in my mind through repeated reading and hearing. It brought tears to my eyes when I fully reflected on the fact that Jesus could have stopped his suffering at any moment, calling legions of angels to not only rescue him but to prove his claims to all of his mockers as well. His gift that day was our eternal salvation through the washing of his blood to purify our souls. Thank you Lord Jesus! May we never "trample the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, insulting the Spirit of grace." (Hebrews 10:29 paraphrased)
   We went for a picnic that afternoon and I was struck by what "girly girls" we have reared! They can act pretty rough and tumble a lot of the time but get them out of doors where all of the dirt and bugs are and you have never seen a girl perch so precariously on a bench in your entire life, except perhaps myself. It was hilarious :)!!! Poor Tori couldn't take it anymore and begged to eat her cake on the way home in the car :). Lee called me out the other day to demonstrate how Tori was helping them transplant some pansies. She was holding them "tenderly" between two little fingers, not touching them any more than she had to (they were dirty you know!), and dropping them from a mile up into the hole Lee had prepared, immediately asking to go in so she could wash her hands :). I wonder what the dirt was like in the Garden of Eden?
   Bri's "Heavenly Birthday" was that same day and we gave her a beautiful blue journal with her name engraved on it. We suggested that she could use it for, not only recording the daily who, what, when, and where, but also her devotional thoughts and even "letters" to God. We try to keep heavenly birthday gifts something pertinent to the spiritual life as apposed to "fluffy stuff" :).
   We also spent much of that week relocating many of our little pets :(. It was very hard to do, but we had peace that it was what we had to do for the sake of our little animals. The turtles now have a new home and they are very happy!!! We took April with us when we went to mom's last Friday and my sister has "contacts" in the world of "animal lovers" who are helping her to find a good home. From the reports we have gotten she is behaving better than she has since she was a puppy!!! I thought of going to visit her but if I saw her being so sweet I know I would lose my resolve and of all of them she is the one who really needed us to do the right thing and allow her the opportunity of a new family. Surprisingly, it is Bethani who is having the hardest time with this! I thought she would kind of go with the flow but she calls April and tries to look for her, poor baby :(. Bri still has her fish and we are still looking for another frog for Tori but no more high-maintenance pets in this home for many, many years -if ever! It is sooo refreshing to be able to read Proverbs 12:10 with a clear conscience instead of thinking to myself that April needs a bath and the turtles tank needs cleaning. Between three little girls and morning sickness the animals were always coming up short in one way or another.
   On a happier note, Wednesday we go in for our ultrasound :)! Only two more days of baby "it". It is getting really hard to bend over to get Bethani into her crib at night without having to "fling" her in :). Baby is growing! Bethani is growing too, only one more week before she turns one!!! How fast time goes :(.
   And on a funny note, the other day Tori was standing at the counter drying pans that had been hand washed and she sighed and said, "I wish I was Amish! ...What do Amish girls do anyway?". I had quite the little chuckle and described to her all of the work that little Amish girls have to do, including hand washing and drying all of their dishes, not just the "special" ones, for lack of an electric dishwasher! Later that evening when the girls were folding a load of towels Tori says, "O.K. ...Bri, you be Amish!".

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Summer Days Are Here Again!

  Yes, I know that should be "spring days" but down here in South Carolina we don't get much of a spring...
     We have a busy, busy day tomorrow of celebration in our Lord! We will make our traditional "Resurrection Buns" (a sweet roll that is hollow when you bite into it) and will remind ourselves of the glory of our risen Lord. Praise God for His infinite grace and mercy! Tomorrow is also Bri's 3rd "Heavenly Birthday". Isn't that neat? This year the celebration of her inclusion into the eternal family of God falls on Resurrection Sunday, how special! And lastly, April's (our dog's) birthday is tomorrow as well, Ha! We will try to make it a special one for her since it is probably the last one she will spend here with our family :(. She's been very unhappy here in our "little house in the suburbs" and she needs a lot more attention than we can give her. I told Lee I think our dog suffers from ADD :). We've known for over a year that we would have to do something, we probably should have done it sooner. We've always known it would be really hard but we have to do this for her sake. My sister is helping us find a really good home for her :). If you think God cares about puppies (and I do!) then could you send up a little prayer for April?
   Here's something "thought provoking" to sign off with ;). I went to the grocery store to get an angel food cake mix for Bri's heavenly birthday and they didn't have one!!! Not in any brand!!! I told Lee, "Of course, they had a devil's food cake mix...". Isn't that just like the world?!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Blessing of Babies :)

   Those sweet days of waking up to Baby's gymnastics in the morning and going to sleep (or not)  to Baby's kicks and flutters at night have arrived. I love those times when the house is quiet in the morning, when Baby and I are the only ones awake, and I always take a few minutes to just stay in bed and "bond" with Baby :). I love being "with child"!!! Not that it is all a cake walk, there are the countless visits with the midwife when you really just want to sit at home, the morning (...afternoon...and evening) sickness...all nine months, the usual aches and pains, and then that pesky little thing called labor at the end :). But when you really think about it, in Genesis God said that a woman's curse was to be in childbearing and yet our compassionate and merciful God has, in His grace, allowed childbearing to be in many ways the most wonderful, awesome, and fulfilling thing a woman will ever be a part of! To bring forth a human being with an eternal soul in the same way that our Lord chose to come to earth, to feel that little human living in it's "secret place", to hold that precious treasure in your heart, mind, and body before you can hold it in your arms, from beginning to end expecting a new little lamb is nothing less than Marvelous! Leave it to our Father God to make our chastening more palatable. And you thought that "Mary Poppins" contrived the principle of "a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down" ;)!
   Having had three little girls as different from each other as can be I am that much more excited to find out what personality God is going to use next to mold our family into what He is intending us to become. But, before that mystery is solved we have a major milestone coming up in the fairly near future. We have reached the home stretch and in less than three weeks my "baby" will be a year old!!! She is definitely a kinesthetic learner :). We have never had a child who had to taste and touch like Bethani has, it has made life interesting! Since she was just a few months old she has loved to play with anything she can take apart,  put together, and put in her mouth.  She loves music, when she sees someone walk over to the drawer where we keep the CDs she automatically begins dancing, smiling, and clapping. There are a couple of specific CDs that Lee loves to use to "dance her to sleep" (one of the sweetest things I see in a day!). She loves bread :) and hates cottage cheese, but she will eat it with a willing heart. She loves her big sisters, her daddy,and I'm pretty sure she likes me a little bit too ;). She gives the sweetest hugs and kisses and sleeps like an angel...finally!!! :) What a precious gift she has been to our family, praise the Lord for His blessings and goodness!


Bethani at 3 days


... and 9 months later :)

Saturday, April 8, 2006

It's Not Easy Being 4...

...especially when your mom asks you to pick out a canned soup and you can't read. Bri and I told her what each one was and she finally settled on Split Pea and Ham. I tried to dissuade her, suspecting that she wouldn't really love it but she likes peas and loves ham so, in her mind, how bad could it be?
   It's really not easy being eight. I've been told it's akin to torture when you have enough experience to actually know what your looking forward to ;)!
   Lee closes at the store on Tuesdays and Fridays, typically, and on those days I will feed the girls something simple for supper. Well, I put it off for as long as I could but the time finally came to get it over with :). I called the girls to supper and the first thing out of Bri's mouth..."It's green!!!". A minute later Tori sits down, peeks into her bowl,and says, "It's green!!!" She was determined not to eat it and Bri was convinced she couldn't eat anything runny and green. When Tori had to get up to get something I added some red food coloring, HA! It made this awful salmon color but, hey! at least it wasn't green anymore! She was obviously startled when she got back to her seat and wanted to know how it changed colors, I told her I had added something I put in cookies and asked her if it was better. "Yep", she answered. A minute later I heard Bri skeptically ask, "Does it really taste better?". "Nope", she answered. Well, they choked it down and maybe she'll believe me next time ;). This morning Tori blurts out from out of nowhere, "Green soup, yuck!". It made a great learning experience! As the girls finished eating we talked about how God, in His grace, doesn't always give us what we think we want, but what He does give us will always be for our ultimate good, even if we are disappointed at first. Would you rather have green split pea soup right now, or would you rather let God, in His wisdom and counsel, guide you to the chicken noodle soup :).
As a bonus, here's what you get when you cross "prairie princesses" with a unit study on Daniel Boone (those are over-sized flowers the girls are "hunting" with :).

Thursday, April 6, 2006

A Funny Moment, A Sweet Moment...

  The other day we told the girls we would have a movie night and after supper they bounded into the kitchen to ask what we would be watching. Well, Lee loves to make the girls look at him like, "Are you serious?" so he blurted out the first thing he could think of that they would NOT want to watch..."Star Wars!", he says :). Bri looked horrified! "We can't watch Star Wars!!! Tori is afraid of Yoga!", that wasn't a typo, she said Yoga :). Tori is terrified of that little green guy, she won't even walk by the posters at Wal-Mart without moral support! Lee and I were laughing so hard and Bri says, "What?! That's his name isn't it?!" and Tori pipes up, "No! It's Yogi!", which set us off on round two of hysterical laughter :).
Note-The girls have never seen Star Wars. They only know about it because, aside from the Wal-Mart posters, they gave Lee the set of the older ones for Fathers Day one year, with mommy's help... just to clarify :).
   Now for the sweet moment! Yesterday Tori, Bethi, and I were watching the turtles and Bethi started pointing at them because she was just so excited. Pointing is a new skill of hers and she likes to do it often. There is just something about the way a baby points that makes you want to kiss their sweet little face but I had never put it into words before. Well, Tori looks at Bethani and smiles from ear to ear and says, in her "big sister baby talk voice"..."You have the prettiest point Bethani, yes you do, you have the prettiest point...". Oh, melt my heart! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2006


   I am a pretty predictable person. While we do eat a good variety of different things we usually eat the same variety of things, and Rice Crispies isn't one of them, they have just never made it onto our bi-weekly grocery list. My mom had made some rice crispie treats for the girls yesterday. Tori loved them and I thought that they would be really easy for her to do, so last night when we stopped at the grocery store I got the ingredients to mix them up sometime. Well, it was a big deal to have a new cereal in the house when breakfast time rolled around and that was what Tori wanted...until mommy said, "Guess what?! They talk!". Well, at that moment she decided that she didn't really want them after all...talking food?! I opened the box knowing that once I demonstrated she would be fine with them and sitting there in the top of the box was a toy car, now this utterly flabbergasted her :)!! A toy in her food?! What next?! After she got over that shock, I poured her a bowl of the cereal and she heard the crackle and heaved quite the sigh of relief. So, I've already had a good chuckle for the day and I thought I would pass it on, although it won't be quite as good without her facial expressions.
   We had a great time at Mom's, and my sisters gave me the sweetest Willow Tree piece of a little angel holding a conch shell up to her ear. We also spent some time shopping in Spartanburg and FINALLY found enough clothing for Bri to round out her wardrobe. People do not sell feminine clothing anymore, everything is either WAY too short, too tight, sleeveless, too fancy for just any day, or has something written across the if we want to draw people's attention there on our little (and especially our not so little anymore) girls, for pity's sake.
   And now I must go dig the next size of little clothes out of storage for Bethani before I go shopping again so next time when I tell myself, "But she doesn't really need it.", I might believe me :).
A merry heart does good, like medicine...
Proverbs 17:22
Have you had your giggle today?!

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Catching Up

  To update everyone a little on life in our little corner of the world...
The holidays treated us kindly :), not too much bustle and hurry but it was certainly not boring :)! We joke that our Christmas Eve was a home educator's dream :). The girls got money in their gift from Grandma, several dollars worth...all in quarters for Bri to count as well as a foiling kit (comparable to an art form the Egyptians once used). An employee of Lee's gave everyone candy bars she brought home from their last mission stint in Russia, which we tasted as we looked Russia up on the map (if you're wondering how it tasted let's just say it was an experience ;). Bri got a pair of pajamas that needed hemmed and the neighbors gave the girls a piece of framed art that had a Bible verse for every letter in the alphabet :). So, that covered math, history, geography, social studies, home economics, language, and Bible. How funny!
On New Years Eve Lee went out and bought some fire works to do for the girls and they had great fun. Poor Bethani couldn't figure it out, by the time her little eyes had gotten up to the sky there was nothing there to look at, she was thoroughly perplexed :). The next day, New Years day, she got her first tooth! You may remember that Bri lost her first tooth on Tori's birthday, there is something about celebrating that stimulates dental activity in this family :).
On the 7th we had our annual "Pioneer Christmas" at mom's. The girls and I made baskets of homemade bath salts and such for the "women folk", that was fun and it turned out really pretty.  I don't remember many details of the last few months because my mind is the first thing that goes when we're...expecting!!! Yeah!!!  We found out that morning before we went to mom's and it was sooo hard to keep it to ourselves! But, I wanted to tell everyone in a "special" way. I had to tell my sister over lunch because I needed someone to babysit when I went for my first appointment with the midwife, but for everyone else I waited until I could get matching "I'm the Big Sister" shirts for the girls. We decided the best time would be when all of us "girls" (my mom, sisters, I and the little "girls") were together for the "Rise-Up-and-Call-Her-Blessed" luncheon that my sisters and I had already been planning for mom, partly because it would be special and partly because I could hide it no longer :). When my sisters and I get together to do anything you can be assured that it is going to be a memory maker ;). Well, we had it all set up that I would meet mom at the restaurant and after we were seated I would call Tess on her cell phone and they would meet us there and surprise her. That would have worked out beautifully...if Tessa's cell phone had been on :). I tried desperately to get a hold of her, calling several times and leaving the table to panic in private :).  Finally I told my poor bewildered mother I had to go to the car for something, I conveniently left out the fact that it was to get in and drive away ;)! I was really hoping she couldn't see me through the window! I got half way to where my sisters were with the girls and Tess called and asked,"Have you tried to call yet?". "Yes!!! Hurry!!! I left mom in the restaurant to come get you guys!!!" :). So, I booked it back and thank goodness they got there soon after me so I didn't have to hide anything for very much longer because by then I wasn't hiding it very well at all ;). She was surprised! She's usually really hard to surprise but I think my odd behavior had really thrown her for a loop that day :). Well, by this time there was little emotional energy left to let her figure out on her own that the girls were all wearing "completely matching" big sister shirts. Amber figured it out pretty quickly and within 15 minutes we were all throwing hints :). Tess says," Did you see the girls matching shirts mom?". "Yes", she answered, "They are very cute." Tess again, "No, I mean they are completely matching". That got it :). And it was good practice for when dad got home that evening :).  Anyway, believe it or not that was to make a long story short :). When I recounted the day to Lee later that evening he was absolutely rolling! He kept repeating, "I can't believe you abandoned your mother at the restaurant!".
We enjoyed the first day of Spring by taking a surprise last minute trip to Charleston, it was Lee's idea, I didn't even know until the night before! We admired the life that God causes to come forth every year by visiting some beautiful gardens and the seashore, it was spectacular!
Last Wednesday we took the girls with us to our appointment so that they could hear the baby's heartbeat. Bri had been upset that she couldn't go the first time but they had a really hard time finding it, and when they did it was just for a moment, so it is just as well that we took them this time instead. We have a very active baby on the way :). Midst the bump, bump, bump of the the heartbeat we kept hearing kick... kick kick... kick. Next time (4-26-06) we get to have our ultrasound :). They have 3-D capability this time so if baby is laying right we may get a 3-D profile, how neat is that?! Isn't it funny? Even with these last two being so close together there is still something new in medical technology to look forward to!
Bri is working hard on her school work and in every spare moment she is reading or knitting, often to or for her sisters :). She just got done with matching hats for Tori and Tori's doll. She was originally doing them for Christmas but she just couldn't wait to give them to her.
Tori is growing up so much. I'm hoping to have her reading by the time Baby is born. She enjoys "babysitting" Bethani whenever she can and none of us can get Bethani to laugh like Tori can, it is toooo cute!
Bethani is walking, saying several words, and keeping us all entertained :). I can't wait to see her as the "big" sister :). At this moment there appears nothing "big" about her! She is sooooo cute when she walks into a room just like a big person :).  Bri and Tori got out their stroller for her today and helped her practice being a "mommy". Can't start too early you know :).
I think that is about it! I'm aiming to update this blog about weekly so you may want to check back often until we have it down to a system of some sort :).