Language Development & Ethanisms

It’s fun to hear Ethan’s language develop. In our home, we call them Ethanisms (someday, we’ll start a list of Sarahisms).

I’m sure most families have their list of favorite things kids say. Here are some of our favorite Ethanisms (at least the few we’ve written down!).

One day at meal time, I asked Ethan how he was doing. He usually says, “Pretty good,” but this time, he said, “Not good.” I asked him why, and he said, “I don’t like good.”

One late afternoon, I went to his room as he was getting awake from his nap. He seemed a little sad and said, “But we have to wake up one more kid” (referring to Sarah who was still asleep).

Once, I was trying to give Ethan some advice on going to sleep for his nap after lunch (he was a bit wound up). I suggested he lay still and close his eyes. He said, “I can’t close my eyes.” When I asked him why, he said, “Because I can’t see.”

Ethan has picked up some phrases either directly or indirectly from us, like, “What’s your plan?” (as in agenda for the day). Sometimes, Ethan hands us an imaginary seed-sized object between his thumb and index finger, and says, “Do you need an idea?” to which I usually reply, “Yes! I need lots of ideas!”

Whenever I take a multivitamin, Ethan wants to look in the bottle. One day, he asked why I take them and I said something about them helping me stay healthy. Now, to understand Ethan’s response, you have to know that Joleen’s back had been bothering her and I occasionally have trouble with my lower back muscles tightening up. So, in response to my comment about vitamins helping me stay healthy, Ethan said, “M&Ms help my back feel better.”

Somewhere along the line, I started adding “yes or no?”to the end of my questions, indicating that I needed a yes-or-no answer. Ethan caught on and after a while, he went through a stage that whenever he’d ask for something, he’d say something like, “May I have some milk? Yes or no? Yes?” (suggesting the preferred answer). He doesn’t seem to do that as much lately, but last week, we attempted to feed the ducks at the river in town. Ethan asked the ducks, who didn’t seem too interested in our bread, “Do you want some bread? Yes or no? Yes?”

Over the weekend, a bumblebee buzzed around Ethan in the backyard. I told him not to swing at it but just let it fly away. After it took off, Ethan said, making sure the bee could hear him, “Thank you, bee. Thank you, bee. Thank you for letting me go!”

Also in the last couple days, Ethan laughed at something I said or did, and he said, “You make me funny!” (he did use the word “laugh” in the next phrase, but I don’t remember how, exactly).

Lately, Ethan has noticed that I’m getting a lot of extra steps, due to the current HealthMiles challenge. This morning, after I left for church at Centre Grove and just before he went to Sunday school at West Side with Mommy and Sarah, Ethan started walking around, as if on a mission. When asked what he was doing, he told Mommy, “I’m getting my steps!”

Fun stuff.

Back from Washington, D.C.

As part of our ordination process, we were required to attend a seminar at the General Board of Church and Society, which took place earlier this week, Monday through Wednesday (more on that in a later post).

Sunday morning, we drove to Harrisburg where we joined the rest of the group and a bus transported us to Washington D.C. We took Ethan and Sarah with us and met Grandma and Grandpa Willis (from Tennessee), who cared for the kids while we were at the seminar. We got to hang out with them when we were not in session.

It was a busy few days, but it was a good experience. We stayed at Hotel Harrington, one block from Pennsylvania Avenue, which joins the White House on one end and Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court on the other end. We were 0.7 miles from the White House and 1.4 miles from Capitol Hill, which is also where the United Methodist Building (the only non-governmental building on Capitol Hill!) is located, where we met each day.

Tuesday (after 3:00 p.m.) afforded us the most free time. We toured the Capitol Building, then walked from Capitol Hill to the monuments at the Washington Mall, before finishing the day with dinner at ESPN Zone, adjacent to our hotel room. All of this led to well over 10,000 steps and took about 3.5 hours, if I remember correctly.

Speaking of steps, the 2010 HealthFlex HealthMiles Challenge is in its second week. When I first learned about this challenge, I was immediately concerned about getting my steps in during the four days of this trip.

But I was able to continue my daily streak of 30,000 steps throughout the four days. Sunday through Tuesday weren’t overly difficult, but Wednesday was a killer. I only had a little over 16,000 steps when we arrived home just before 9:00 p.m. After putting the kids to bed (with around 20,000 steps, at that point), already exhausted, I hit the treadmill where I reached 30,000 with only about 15 minutes left in the day.

Getting steps was a good way to see D.C. I got up each morning around 5:00 a.m. or so and hit the streets of downtown D.C. just before light. I walked about an hour on Monday and Tuesday, then only about a half hour on Wednesday due to a change in schedule for the final day, a change that cost me up to 4,000 steps.

To make up for it, I walked to the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill instead of taking the subway. Funny thing is, the four of us who walked arrived at our destination at the same time as those who took the subway. But, on the way back to the hotel at the end of the session, I missed out on a sighting of former president Bill Clinton, who was seen exiting one of the Senate office buildings.

But we did see a lot of other things, including President Obama heading out on Marine One right as we stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial looking toward the Washington Monument (unfortunately, if we would have been just a few steps ahead, I would’ve have been able to get the Washington Monument in the photo with the two helicopters), on Tuesday afternoon. It was a cool moment, though. People snapped photos and applauded.

Here are some photos from our time in Washington D.C. …

Ethan and Sarah’s Signs of Growth

IMG_0314Last fall, about two weeks after we brought Sarah home from Korea, went went to Parker Dam for an afternoon. While there we snapped this photo.

Back then, Sarah, at 8 months old, wasn’t very mobile. But she, as well as Ethan, has grown a lot in the five months since then. It was especially noticeable when we returned there yesterday afternoon for the first time since last November.

They are also growing as brother and sister, perhaps a bigger challenge for Ethan than Sarah. But similar to what I wrote a couple weeks ago (Ethan’s Signs of Caring), yesterday, as we drew closer to home and Sarah started getting hungry/tired/fussy, Ethan said (an repeated a couple times), “We’re almost home, baby.” 🙂

Six Months with Sarah

Six months ago today in Seoul, Korea, one day after meeting Sarah for the first time in her foster family’s home, we welcomed Sarah into our lives.

The six-month mark is a milestone because it’s only after this point that we can legally file our petition to finalize the adoption (although, for legal purposes, the official date is two days from now; as with Ethan, the agency made the date we departed from Korea as the official starting date).

Sarah’s doing well. Ethan’s adjusting. We’re growing together as a family of four.

Here are a few photos from the past six months to show some of her growth …

Ethan’s Signs of Caring

If you’ve been following our journey (i.e., most recently, welcoming Sarah into our family), you may recall that Ethan has struggled in this process, especially in the early days and weeks. Now that Sarah has been with us nearly six months, we’ve noticed recently that, while Ethan still has his moments, he is starting to show some greater signs of caring for Sarah.

For example, when she use to cry/scream (perhaps while traveling a longer distance in the car seat), Ethan would tell her, rather emphatically, to “Stop screaming!” Now, he’s much more likely to try to soothe her. And while he’s not yet completely ready to share his toys with Sarah, he is more open to playing with her (though there’s still a lot of room for improvement!).

On a couple of occasions, Ethan has tried to help Sarah learn to walk by holding her hand. The challenge, though, is in getting him to slow down to Sarah’s speed!

We noticed another area of growth during the two nights we spent in Lancaster, PA this week. Both nights, Sarah woke up in her crib, crying, and then spent the last few hours of the night in our bed. A few weeks/months ago, Ethan, who slept in the other queen bed in the room, would not have been happy about that arrangement! But it didn’t seem to phase him this week.

Edited to say that during dinner, following the kids’ naps when I wrote this post, I noticed another first: Ethan and Sarah spent several moments making each other laugh. One would look at the other and laugh, making the other one laugh. Another sign that they are interacting more and more — due both to Sarah’s development AND Ethan’s adjustment!

As our transition continues to move along, it’s good to see some signs of growth along he way!

Our Day in Hershey

This morning, the final day of our post-Easter family sabbath time, we left Lancaster and stopped in Hershey, PA on our way home. We went to ZooAmerica and Hershey’s Chocolate World.

After a couple of very warm days (with 80-degree temperatures) it was a much cooler day (in the 50s). It was also fairly windy. As we got closer to home, we actually hit a wintry mix of precipitation.

Amazingly enough, we came away from Chocolate World without any chocolate! The kids were pretty tired by the time we left (well into nap time), which cut our visit short. But we did share a Hershey’s S’mores Sundae (except for Sarah who wasn’t a fan).

Overall, it was a nice getaway. The kids handled the trip pretty well. While we could have gotten more rest/sleep at night, it wasn’t too bad (the kids usually sleep extremely at home). Ethan did well (again) sleeping in his own big bed (surrounded by a barrier of pillows) but while Sarah would go to sleep in a crib, she didn’t like waking up there during the night. We are hoping her transition back to her own crib goes smoothly tonight!

Here are some photos from today …

Post-Easter Family Sabbath Time

Easter is a busy time for pastors, of course, and it’s an especially busy time for a family with two pastors and two kids. So, we’re taking a mini-vacation after Easter for some much-needed Sabbath time.

We arrived in Lancaster, PA yesterday and will head back home tomorrow. On our way here, we reached another milestone in the process of adopting Sarah. We met with our caseworker for the third and final time. Once Sarah has been with us six months (April 24), we’ll be able to file for the finalization of Sarah’s adoption (at which time her name will legally become “Sarah”). However, we don’t know when finalization will actually take place (probably in a few months).

So far, it’s been a relaxing time — spending a little time at the playground, splashing in the pool (first time with Sarah), and eating out. Well, eating out is not always relaxing with two kids under 3, especially at Carrabba’s. Carraba’s is a nice Italian restaurant, but we were placed at a small table (so everything was accessible to both kids) and all four of us were given silverware, including two forks and a large steak knife. Ethan found the first two and after Sarah pulled one out, we figured we should get rid of the knives! Besides that, it was great!

You can tell our kids are pastors’ kids. On the way to visit/tour Tom Sturgis Pretzel Bakery (America’s first commercial pretzel bakery), Ethan asked, “Are we going to another church?” 🙂

And sure enough, after visiting Sturgis Pretzels, we walked across the street to look at the historic Lititz Moravian Congregation (Methodism founder, John Wesley, was greatly impacted by the Moravians).

We plan to do a couple fun things in Hershey tomorrow on our way home. In the meantime, here are some photos from our mini-vacation, so far …

Easter 2010

Today was our first Easter with Sarah and our third with Ethan (see Easter 2008 and Easter 2009).

We began Resurrection Day in worship. After lunch, we all took naps (when *I* nap, you know we’re tired!). Joleen says the Easter Bunny came while we were asleep, and when the kids got up (at 5:30!), they had fun discovering what was in their Easter baskets and playing with toys till bedtime.

Here are a few photos from the day …

Sugar Makes Me Happy!

Acouple days ago, we gave Ethan a treat after lunch (a little bit of Easter candy). Ethan doesn’t eat much junk food so he doesn’t get much sugar, normally.

But after his treat, he was too wound up to take his normal 2+ hour nap. He stayed in his room (mostly in his bed, although he ran around a bit, too) for about an hour-and-a-half but never went to sleep. Fortunately, Sarah was able to get her hour-long nap in during this time.

Ethan came downstairs after Sarah woke up, and I said something like, “No more sugar for Ethan,” to which he replied, “Sugar makes me happy!” 😆

I’ve thought about that statement from a discipleship perspective. How easy it is for us to prefer “sugar” over the “food” that helps us get/stay healthy.

Think about your favorite stories and verses in the Bible. Most likely, they’re the more encouraging statements. We certainly need those parts of the story, but what about what those parts that correct and challenge us? We need to hear those words, too.

This has implications for preaching. People need the whole Word of God — the parts that encourage and uplift as well as the parts that cut to the heart, parts that are hard to swallow. A preacher’s (or a parent’s) primary goal is not to make people “happy,” but to help them encounter God in a way that leads to real life change. That happens by speaking the truth in love!

To grow in our walk with God, we need a healthy, balanced diet (not with too much sugar, though, especially for little kids). 🙂

Adoption and Bonding Dynamics

Six weeks after bringing Sarah home, we reflected on bonding the second time around.

Now at five months, I recently visualized the difference in dynamics between the two experiences. When we brought Ethan home, Ethan entered a circle of two people, but when we brought Sarah home less than two years later, Sarah entered a circle of three people.

Those are two completely different sets of dynamics. Breaking into a circle of two is much easier than breaking into a circle of three (especially when one of the three is a two-year-old!). Ethan’s entrance was a non-issue (he had our undivided attention, well, except for polishing dissertations!).

Due to the different set of dynamics, Sarah’s process of entering the circle has probably been slower than Ethan’s was (naturally), but thankfully, Sarah is doing her part to make this bonding experience as easy as possible! 🙂