Words by S, 3.5


“Those are European starlings.”
S: “Hi airplane starlings!”
*seagulls “laughing”*
S: “Are they laughing because S said something funny?”

“I’m going to go pray.”
“What are you going to pray about?”
“About Ellie knocking down my blocks.”

“My name is Fat Girl.”

“When my Papa turns into my wife I’ll be a bride someday.”

“I’m going to cut my knife with the onion.”
E: “Your sin leaves a stain, but God washes it away because Jesus died.”
S: “And mommy dried it. No, God dried it.”

“Last night Ellie stood up in her crib and I said ‘lie down Ellie’ and sang ‘Goodnight my Angel’ and ‘Sleepy Eyes.’”

“I forgot to play in the concert!”
“What were you going to play?”

“Floggic means play,and dance, and read.”

“I’m lying down like Claude Monet.”

“Sometimes the bananas are sad and I eat them and they feel better.”

“When we get back from church my Nutcracker will be alive.”

“This is Ellie’s papa and this is Ellie’s mommy. My mommy and papa are in India.”

“I’m filling up my toe with grace.”

“I love these songs.”
“Why do you love these songs?”
“Because that’s how God made me, to love these songs.”

“My favorite dog is a panda bear.”

“The sugarplum fairy’s name is scotcheroo.”

“Can you put Ellie outside with me like a friend?”

“Maybe my knees fell or something while I was ice skating.”

“I will be a cow-grown-up.” (not a cowgirl)

“I feel like another woman. It feels glorlious. I like being beautiful.”

“I have no shoes on cuz I’m wearing feet!”

E: Am I handsome?
S: No, you’re pretty
E: How can I be handsome?
S: To be a man
E: What can I do to be handsome?
S: Have a face
E: Is this a good face?
S: Yes.
E: So am I handsome?
S: No, you’re pretty

“You’re a good cooker.” (To mommy after eating airplane food).

“The heater is glorifying my life.”

“Peter Rabbit steals Mr. McGregor’s garden, and the squirrels steal ours. Please, squirrels, let our seeds grow.”

“You have a lobely voice, mommy.” A moment later, “I can’t hear you.”

“Papa, why did I eat all the prunes?”

“I have a pretty/flower dress! I’m learning to do ballet and princess things.” – to total strangers in Canada.

“I want to stay in Japan – what is it, mommy? Canada. I want to stay in Canada forever.” (Because of eating out)

“I’m going to school on my bike. I’m going to earn some money so we can do things.”

“I’m walking backwards because I’m sad.”


Words By S, 3

In honor of S’s 3rd birthday, here is the latest installment of “Words by S.” We’re celebrating with cake after our evening church study, her choosing breakfast & dinner on her birthday (pizza for breakfast and enchiladas for dinner), and then there’s a princess tea party happening nearby a few days after her birthday and it’s a perfect fit for our pink-loving little girl.
It’s been amazing to watch her grown and learn in the last year and to see her continue to develop in personality and knowledge. She is exuberant, empathetic, full of wonder, loves being outdoors, and would have us read to her all day long if we could stand it!

“grumblebee” – bumblebee

“Papa I forgot to get on the giraffe and spin on it.” (talking about the carousel)

“There me are!”

“Once upon a time there was a little girl and her name was…”
“S, and Ellie, and Mama, and Papa.”

“You’re welcome.” “I’m not welcome, I’m S.”

“My birthday is pink.”

“What’s your favorite food?”
“What’s your favorite food for dinner?”
“I like to eat chocolate for dinner.”

“Look, Ellie, I drew popsicle on the wall!”

“Is this my pink finger?”

“Did God bought my pajamas?”

“Can you do this as you hike around the tomatoes?”

“I was pink when I was little.”

“Tomatoes make me happy”

“No, krampa, put the ice in the trash!”

“magnick” (magnet)


“Papa, I crashed the spider with the salad.”

“Can you heat up my soup so it will be cold?”

“I made room for mommy but not for chocolate.”

“Maybe {my dress} will grow a pocket.”

“puffet” (puppet)

One day she wanted a story about “A pink bride… when S was married and had a husband and wore a pretty dress.”

“S is mommy’s baby and Ellie is papa’s baby.”

“I can’t see the dark, I Just see the lights.”

“floggic” frolic

“Can you give me a chance for me to wear these ones again?”

“The wind won’t blow away my hands, but still.”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I don’t want to be anything when I grow up.”

Words by S #2

“(about lightening) “Where’s the flashlight in the sky, Papa?”

“Bug!” “That’s an ant,” “Aunt Susannah!”

“I love you, Papa!” “I love you, S!” “Just kidding!”

“Do you want peanut butter?” “Just butter.”

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy face.”

“What’s that come from, Mommy?” <- favorite question.

“last night” = the past
“on Sunday” = the future

“Mommy, my name is S and I have a question for you.”

“Where’s my daddy?”
“Some kids call their papas daddy, you call him papa.”
“Can I call him Ezra?”
“Only if you get lost.”
“Can I get lost?”

“long my heart has panted… like a dog wants water.”

“Did you hurt your leg?” “I hurt my jeans.”

“cashew doll” = kokeshi doll

“I’m feeding my baby. I don’t have milk, just cuddles.”
“We’re going away from the darking bog.”
“Where’s the darking gob?”
“He’s back a few blocks.”
“He’s with the blocks.”

“O precious little baby, yet to be born.” (Blessings upon you, my baby unborn)

“precious little papa, do you have an idea?”

“Can I pet Ellie?”

“No mommy have fun with papa.” (almost every time I put her to bed…)

Words By S

My sister did this a while ago with her oldest and I thought would share some of the funny things S says that really brighten our days. Her chatter can drive me crazy sometimes when she repeats the same things again and again but mostly I really enjoy getting the front row seat on her language development!

“Mommy crying. Mommy papa hold you.” (responding to a woman crying on TV)

“S, what’s your favorite food?” “Uncle David.”
“S, what was your favorite part of today?” “Uncle David.”
“S, who’s your favorite Aunt?” “Uncle Susannah.”

S, with her mouth full. “Nobody.”
Kyleigh starts laughing, trying to hide it, excuses herself to laugh.
S: “Mommy crying. Mommy throw fit.”

“Tummy hurt. Need sammich.”

“cupkick” = chapstick

“wrapping paper” = tortillas, napkins

“Where was the last place you wore your hat?”
S: “ona head.”

“I three months old.”

“tubby bear” = teddy bear

Planting garlic with Ezra: “baby garlics go night night. Baby garlics wake a nap. Baby garlics pretty.”

“Say ‘lasagna.’” “Susannah.”

“Toes dirty. New toes, new toes, I need new toes!!!”

“allergetty” = alligator

She’s 2!

S is 2!

Weight: 26.2 pounds
Height: 33 inches
Teeth: all but 2 year molars
Eating patterns: 3 meals and 2 snacks, nurses in the morning and at nap time.
Favorite foods: oatmeal, eggs, sweet potatoes, squash, bread, dessert, soup, roasted carrots, lima beans.
Sleeping patterns: 7/7:30 AM wake up, 12:30-2:30 nap, 7:30 bedtime. Sleeps with Eden Bunny and her silky.
Favorite songs: ABC’s (nomahny for “now I know my”), Twinkle Twinkle (“how wa wee” for how I wonder), theme song from Totoro, Johnny Cash “I talk to Jesus every day,” and “God Made Me” by Judy Rogers.
Favorite Toys: dolls, cars, balls
Favorite things to do: color, climb, swing, read, play with Ellie, play with stickers.
Favorite Books: Ten Tiny Toes, Are You a Cow?, Goodnight Moon (Hush), Corduroy, photo books, Curious George, Teach Your Child to Swim, and any books with singing in them.
Important events: became a big sister, traveled to Dubai and Palau
Comfort items: sucking thumb and feeling belly button

We celebrated her birthday with a birthday party, since we couldn’t last year and I wanted to do something to try to get all or at least some of her friends all together before we moved, since she loves them so much (and made 3 more in the weeks since her party that she talks about a lot!).
 photo 11 November - Soraya 2nd Birthday Party 1_zpsr4vsjvze.jpg
Chocolate peanut butter flourless muffins (that are so rich I decided they could be cupcakes) with chocolate frosting, recipes below.

 photo 11 November - Soraya 2nd Birthday Party 2_zpsu20rhhre.jpg
We had crackers, cheese, veggies, popcorn, and jello.
When I was planning I had two things in mind: ease and what S liked. She loves balloons, coloring, and playing in boxes, so that’s what we had to do, and I made a playlist of some of her favorite music to play in the background and the kids had fun doing all that, eating, dancing, and chasing each other around.

 photo 11 November - Soraya 2nd Birthday Party 6_zps9vpgy3cz.jpg
She was thrilled with cupcakes, unlimited crackers, balloons, boxes to color on and play in, and her friends at her ‘happy be party.’
I had gone to set up while she was napping, and when Ezra brought her in the room, the look on her face was priceless. We had been telling her about her birthday party but didn’t think she understood much, but I think she knew, and was even more excited once friends started coming. I think that was the best part to her, her friends.

 photo 17 November - E 2 months S 2 years 10_zpsltkuo7cl.jpg
She was not very cooperative when I was taking her 2-year photos.

Birthday party links:
Chocolate Peanut butter cupcakes (muffins, but they’re so rich! This recipe makes 6 regular-size muffins)
honey-sweetened frosting (+6-7 Tbsp cocoa)
Finger jello

Miss Munchkin is ONE!

Our silly munchkin turned one a few days ago. The year has flown by so fast, and I can’t imagine life without our little girl. Her personality is so much fun and I love being a mother to our sweet goofball. She loves people (usually even strangers, though Ezra and I are definitely her favorites), loves to ham it up for us or the camera, wants to be involved in everything I do, loves exploring, is determined but also sensitive – when she wants something, she doesn’t give up easily when she can’t have it, but even a gentle “no” (sometimes) causes her to burst into tears. I love watching her grow and learn new things, and all of the smiles she brings to people we pass and meet.

Looking back on the year, it’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown and also how important our families and friends have been, especially our mothers, my friends who came to stay (Anna, Angela, Hannah, Hannah, and Sarah), and the women that sent me encouraging messages and/or were there for me in the roughest moments – Mom Guest, Aunt Becky, and Jennifer A.
And there are so so so many sweet memories, especially surrounding those first weeks when all we did was cuddle (this post has some nudity but is amazing for ideas on how to spend those first few weeks).

Not that it was as easy as my memories make it seem. I got sick of hearing “it gets easier after 6 weeks… 3 months… 6 months…” and started reminding myself what my sister said – that it doesn’t necessarily get easier just different. Though that different for us has often meant fewer hard moments but harder when they’re there. There are ALWAYS hard things: if not reflux, then teething, or general crankiness, or moving too much too fast and getting hurt or frustrated. I so often fell into the trap of “once this is over it’ll be easier/I won’t get so upset or discouraged.” But I still do, even though it’s only one day a week or once week at a time instead of months without end. Which has shown me again and again that circumstances may be horrendous but my heart is even more horrendous and I need His help more than anything, and THAT, not doing fun things with my kids, is what’s going to make me a good mom – being one that says to myself and my kids “I’m discouraged, I messed up, I need Jesus just like you.” – and He’s here helping me, and He’s the one who gave us THIS baby with THESE issues at THIS time (so many times I prayed “seriously, God? You know we have stacks and stacks of paperwork and long lists of things to do to move across the ocean and his work isn’t any help and we’re dealing with a baby who won’t sleep on top of it all?”). But He knows. And there were definitely things I needed to learn (some I STILL need to learn – you’d think after all that I’d be more patient and not get angry when she doesn’t sleep…) through all of it. Not that that made it any easier going through it.
I want to remember all of it: the difficult but precious days of struggling to find time to do the dishes, feeling like I could never make dessert or more elaborate dinners, get back into writing and music or do special things with her, holding for all her short naps, etc., as well as all of the more numerous happy memories.

We celebrated S’s birthday a few weeks early so my family could be a part of the festivities. I didn’t really want to make a cake for just us and since they were here so close to her birthday we decided to celebrate then, and finish presents on her birthday since they weren’t all here or done.
I had thought about doing a bigger party, but didn’t, mostly because we were so new here – if we’d been in San Diego with all of her friends we would have done something with all of them. But because of those thoughts I had some ideas for food and decorating, so we had a bit of a “Japan” theme with chicken curry (S’s favorite food), a cake decorated like Totoro from “My Neighbor Totoro,” a bunting made out of some Japanese fabric, and one of her presents was a doll I made of Mei from Totoro. I also made her an owl hat, since the sweater I was making her ended up too small. She loves the owl, but hates wearing the hat.

Candace with the bunting she made (It’s now in S’s room)

Totoro! I used this tutorial, but without fondant. The white of his eyes is just frosting I rolled into a ball and flattened, and the black part is raisins.

The cake itself was this recipe, but I combined a few frosting recipes to make my own (1 c coconut cream, dash vanilla, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 3 Tbsp coconut oil, 1 Tbsp coconut flour, 2 Tbsp arrowroot) I had to melt it and then let it cool, then whip it, and let it cool some more before I could use it. It was ok. I was limited in what I could do since it had to be pipable and nut, dairy, and sugar free. Next time I’ll invest in some coconut butter. I would also whip the cake more to make it lighter and only do one layer as it was pretty heavy and dense.

She approved, and was absolutely wild about the curry – her favorite foods are peas, carrots, chicken, and curry, and it had all of that.

When she was 6 months old I wrote some on our baby sleep journey so far, and wanted to update a bit with some more links and things we’ve learned. She’s not sleeping through the night yet but that’s just lack of desire and motivation on our part and is coming soon (I’ve already taken the first steps of not nursing to sleep at bed time and not comfort sucking in the middle of the night).
As time goes on, the more I am convinced that crying it out is rarely the answer to baby sleep problems (the only time it would ever be is for an older baby with prop issues. This has lots of good info on that. I can’t wait for her book!). Whenever S has had a harder time than usual sleeping, there’s something wrong and another way to fix it. Often it takes more time and work, yes, but it fixes the root issue much more gently.
For example – her wakings from 12-1 AM are almost always discomfort, and her early wakings are almost always because her wake times are too short, so taking off her sleeper, giving her chamomile for teething, etc. or giving her longer A times fixes it without tears.

At 6 months she got a lot more flexible with sleep and wasn’t so easily overtired, which was nice, but made it harder to gauge when something was wrong. Then at 8 months her naps got a bit shorter (1 – 1.3 hours, so just under “enough”), signaling longer wake time in a different way than before.
Finding a balance between attachment parenting and a more rigid schedule isn’t easy but I’m glad we’ve done it. I think it was especially important with all we’ve been through. I think we needed to guide/influence her more than attachment parenting often allows, but also needed to do a lot more babywearing/night nursing/nursing on demand than other “parenting methods” allow – and some of it may just be S, not the move and all that – she has nursed every 2 hours during the day since she was 6 months old, and nothing has stopped that. I don’t know if it’s comfort or legitimate hunger, but it is what it is, and we’d both be miserable trying to change it.

Some helpful links:
Baby & Toddler Sleep Regressions
How the Wonder Weeks Affect Sleep (I’m on the fence about Wonder weeks. most of the time S was not in line with them but other times she was and this helped a lot then).
Managing Nap Transitions (4-3 and 3-2 were very smooth for us, mostly thanks to basing her sleep times off of wake time lengths and being flexible with bed time when we needed to be).

Finally, REFLUX. Praise the Lord, that finally ended! An elimination diet revealed that dairy and gluten were at least partially the culprits, but I still had to avoid them until she was 8 months old.
The silent reflux was far rougher than any sleep issues (though it contributed to sleep issues). It’s a beast and especially with your first makes you feel like you’re doing everything wrong, and there are so few who really understand what it’s like. I got asked so much “is she on a schedule? Do you let her cry it out?” when people hear she didn’t sleep well. Yes, we have a routine and no, we don’t cry it out as it aggravates reflux (among other things), and we hold her upright after feeds and do smaller more frequent meals and no it’s not just normal baby sleeplessness. My postpartum depression was mostly gone by the time the reflux really flared up, but the reflux definitely made it more of a struggle after that and made it hard to tell sometimes if it was really gone or if I was just realistically discouraged from having a reflux-y, hyper baby that needed it pitch black to sleep and had a teeny-tiny sleep window between tired and hyper in addition to E’s unpredictable work schedule and all the moving paperwork and preparation.
I hated watching the other babies at church just fall asleep in the light or lying down, until one day I realized that it wasn’t ME it was S that made things different – she was a different baby. To mama’s with a reflux-y baby: you aren’t doing anything wrong. And it helps to talk to those moms with the “perfect babies” and find out that their babies also have sleep issues.

I’m thankful our doctor didn’t push meds and was open to us trying other things – probiotics ended the diaper change crying from lying flat on her back, though didn’t help with sleeping. She told us signs of dairy sensitivity which helped when S had some mucousy poop because then we knew what to do. We tried a homeopathic remedy but it didn’t seem to help much long term.

Really I don’t know what helped. We did a lot of things: clipped her small tongue tie (mostly because I was still in some pain nursing when she was 6 weeks), gave her probiotics, dealt with my fast let-down and oversupply, eliminated foods… she got older and started sucking her thumb (more saliva + more swallowing = less acid coming up) and sleeping on her tummy, and when she started solids we spent a while just doing gelled bone broth in an attempt to re-seal her gut (and only then was I able to reintroduce dairy and gluten, but that may have just been coincidence).

Helpful link: The Great Baby Reflux Epidemic (Or Not)

Here’s to year two and all of the laughter and tears it will bring! All glory to God for bringing us through this first wonderful year of parenthood.


My photos from September are spread around the road trip post and an upcoming Japan post, but here is my usual monthly update, minus the recipes since we were on the road for most of September, so I barely cooked, and when I did it was old recipes.

best of online// How to Fight Anxiety (Piper) // Did Christ die for us or for God? (Piper) // Brushing Shoulders // Courageous VS The Incredibles // Writing Begins With Forgiveness // Teaching Our Children the Raw Parts of Scripture // To a Woman Considering Abortion // Your Child is Your Neighbor (ouch) // Confessions of a Social Media Addict (ouch, especially in a new place when E is not home) // Relational Justice (Olasky) // Your To-Do List (Belz)

reading of late// The Gospel’s Power and Message – Paul Washer

thinking about// “When a civilization falls in the fog of war, and no one pays attention, does it make a sound?” – Mindy Belz // the movie Boychoir: how polyphony was used to change a pre-teen’s life. Yeah, Tallis!

what brings joy// watching S grow // surprise visits to E // Redwood trees // rain // not flying an American airline // finally being in Japan // iTunes on shuffle: Tallis followed by the Hobbit followed by Song of the Selkies followed by Britten’s War Requiem followed by Louis Armstrong followed by King’s Singers with Albrecht Mayer topped off with Arabic hymns

Miss Munchkin//  is a super-duper traveler: 35+ hours in the car, 12 hour flights, 16 hour time changes. She’s also covering more ground on her own. Her record is 15 steps, but she almost always starts out walking now if she’s standing and will often walk between things. She has 6 teeth, likes to hold hands, stick her tongue out, and melt the hearts of teenage Japanese girls with waves and monkey noises. A transoceanic move mostly on my own with a 10 month old would never have been my first choice. But with the worst of it over, I can say I’m so glad to have had this crazy kid with me the whole time, monkey noises, cautious walking, and laughter especially. My two favorite things about being her mom are watching her learn and all the smiles she brings everyone around her.
She also love Ethiopian and Indian food, and occasionally says dog (da), hi, and kitty (seesee).

writing// Javi’s Cafe, 21.