Dean Family Blog

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Family Date
We had a winter weather warning yesterday because of a tiny bit of snow and a WHOLE LOT of wind. Most people probably think that means you should stay home and avoid traveling, but not us! Philip took the van in early in the morning to see why it was making another weird, loud noise and found out what it was and that it couldn't get fixed right then (and thankfully, that it won't cost a fortune to fix). Since everyone was up already we figured we might as well have a family date and headed over to Coralville to get our rings checked and play at the mall. Josiah loves the big carousel there and I got to use some store credit at Scheel's to get new running shoes (I'm very excited!). We even decided to be brave and took both kids out to lunch and they did wonderfully. But wait, it gets better...they both stayed awake on the 45 minute trip home which meant everyone got to take a nap! Let me tell you, the new couch is so comfy for naps.

As if that wouldn't be good enough, we had a date night planned so Philip and I got to go out for dinner and use our Outback gift card. We haven't been there in years and it was amazing. Bloomin' onions are the best. We spent the whole evening just talking and relaxing and being grateful for days like this.


Happy Birthday Uncle Casey!
Since you weren't here to eat your birthday cupcakes, Josiah, Philip and I sacrificed and ate them for you. We had fun singing to you and blowing out your candles...we love you!

PS Check out Grace's face...she looks a little upset that we're eating cupcakes and she's stuck with Cheerios (which she hasn't figured out are food yet).


Keys and Flashlights
One of my friends heard an analogy that has really stuck with me and keeps coming to mind lately. Basically, it's that communication with our kids happens through a window. When they're little the window is wide open and they hear us all the time. As they get older the window begins to close and sometimes they can see us, but not hear us. I realized that, for Josiah, the window is probably at it's most-open right now and I should be using every opportunity I have to pass our faith on to him right now. This has been my motivation to learn bible verses with him each week, to make sure we read his Bible after dinner (Philip is great about this) and to start talking to him about why we do some of the things we do. Everyone in our church is currently listening through the New Testament on mp3 each day (at least that's the goal) and I realized instead of trying to listen when the kids were asleep I could also use that as another way to expose him to the Bible. So as we play trains, puzzles and blocks we listen to our chapters for the day. Since he's only two and a half I didn't really expect him to get much from listening, but I've been amazed at what is sinking in and what he hears when I think he's not listening (like when he walked over to me and put his hands on my legs and told me he was 'laying his hands' like Jesus). He's been interested in heaven and since we're in the gospels right now the topic comes up quite a bit and we talk about where Jesus lives and how we can know for sure that we'll go to heaven. We've explained what a sin is and that we need to ask Jesus to forgive us and he's started identifying sinful things he does when we pray with him before bed. It's exciting to see how much he can understand at this age and how powerful God's word is, even to a toddler. It's also easy to get a little prideful that OUR son is understanding these topics...which is probably why God makes sure that we have these kind of conversations as well:

Me: Do you know where Jesus lives?

J: Yes, he's in heaven.

Me: Do you know how you can go to heaven when you're done living here?

J: Yes, Mama, you just need the keys. You can't get in if you leave your keys here.


Me: The Bible tells us that Jesus will come back to earth some day and the clouds will roll back and he'll appear in the sky.

J: With a flashlight that has lots of colors and he'll shine it on the trees in the back yard and the trunks will be lots of colors. Right, Mama? (I have no idea where he got this)

PS Josiah reminded me tonight that I had forgotten the best part of Jesus coming back...he's also going to make a snowman with Josiah and Daddy.


Clifford and the Big Scream
After 2 weeks of only leaving the house for doctor's appointments we were all going a little nuts so I decided we should go to the Cedar Rapids library to see Clifford (the big red dog) as he made his way through eastern Iowa. I was worried about messing up naps, Josiah being terrified of a giant dog and Grace deciding to scream through the whole thing, and I became more concerned when we got there early enough to get in the front row and became completely surrounded by hundreds of preschoolers (it was the biggest crowd the host had ever seen for one of these events). Our escape route was totally gone and I realized every respiratory illness in the state was probably represented in that room. God showed me, once again, that my worrying is useless and usually unfounded. Josiah loved it, Grace happily played with her toys and both kids stayed awake on the ride home and took great naps later. I even figured out how to open and, more importantly, close the double stroller. Praise God!

Philip and I have had 2 dates this weekend and they've been great. We got to go to the Valentine dinner put on by our Christian radio station Friday and it was the first time in over 4 years I've been able to get really dressed up. There are many parts of northern culture that are pretty cool, but this southern girl really misses getting to wear a real dress and seeing her man in a tie. We also got to watch Fireproof at church last night while the youth group babysat the kids (and yes, they eventually agreed to take Grace). Grace screamed both nights, but we're seeing some improvement. She actually stopped crying a few times for the babysitter and she cried last night, but only the 'I don't like this' cry...not the 'I'm going to scream until my head explodes' cry. This might not sound like much, but it's very encouraging to us!

Grace is changing again right now. She's almost crawling, can ride in the double stroller (sitting up), got her own high chair and sippy cup (which she has no idea how to use) and her appetite seems to be picking up. Philip looked at her the other day and mentioned that there was some personality in her face that hadn't been there before. She is emerging from the cry blob stage into a real little kid and it's fun to see who she's gong to be. We are very blessed.


The Monkey Has Arrived!
Our 'chunky monkey' couch arrived this afternoon and it looks great! It's very exciting to have new furniture and get to see the living room start looking like what we'd planned for years ago (our neutral/green/red color theme was being thrown off quite a bit by the blue couches). Our old couches have served us well and are, I must admit, very comfy, but they will be moving on to someone else soon (actually, someone just came and got them!). Josiah likes his ottoman/toy box and was fascinated by the delivery men. He did get a little upset when one of them started putting the feet on the first section and loudly asked, "Mama, why is that man pounding our new furniture!?" Hopefully this desire to take care of the couch will continue.

As the men were continuing to bring stuff in Josiah, again loudly, asked, "Mama, do you ever want another baby?" I was a little caught off guard and not wanting to discuss family planning in front of delivery men until I realized he was quoting one of his books (God Gave Us You). In the book the mama polar bear assures the little polar bear that she never wanted a different baby because God had picked out the perfect baby for her. I assured Josiah I never wanted a seal or a fox...he was the baby I wanted. He has been on a baby kick lately and announced at lunch that we would have 2 more babies and their names would be Crabby and Dori-the-fish-that-swims. We always thought we might have more kids, but if those are their names maybe we should just stop at 2.


Happy Buffday to Me
Josiah is a big fan of all things birthday...cake, balloons, presents, friends, candles, etc. They are a frequent topic of conversation and he tells the chiropractor about his back hoe cake with red gum drops every Monday and Thursday. He has already started planning his next one that's still 6 months away. For a couple weeks he wanted a big chocolate heart-shaped cake, which I wasn't too excited about, but it's his 'buffday' so it's his call. Yesterday he informed me he now wants a smiley face party (when did he start saying smiley instead of 'miley?' He's growing up). He said everyone would have to wear smiley faced if you're coming you better start looking for them. And, of course, Pooh Bear and Thomas would have to have smiley faces too. He's also planning Gracie's party...she will have a red gum drop party.

Good Enough
I like to do things all the way or not at all, whether it's cleaning, playing, learning, whatever. If I'm going to work out it should happen every day, if I'm going to make a train city with Josiah it should use all the blocks and look better than the pictures on the box, if I'm going to plant a garden it should look like Peter Rabbits (no weeds, every plant well watered, soil always freshly tilled). Having 2 kids is starting to break me of this. There simply is not enough time or energy to do everything all the way. I can't keep the house as clean as I want, I can't make elaborate meals every night, I can't even get the kids out of the house without snot and food on their faces many days. And I'm realizing that no one cares. I don't mean that in a bad's just that no one else minds if there are toys on the floor, we're having leftovers for dinner or Grace looks like she has gel in her hair because she spread the products of her runny nose all through her bangs on the way to church. It bothers me, but no one else cares. In fact, they seem to like the fact that I didn't worry about those things. Josiah is far more excited that I did a puzzle with him than he is when I have all of his toys organized. Philip is happier to come home to a happy family eating scrambled eggs for dinner than to a tired wife who has a perfect meal and an immaculate house. Grace is far happier to have a snotty face than a clean one (and really, what's the point...her nose is like a faucet). I'm hoping some day to be able to do my jobs better, but for now I'll just do them good enough and try to be ok with that.

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