Monday, October 29, 2007

Tears, Redemption and Re-training

Last weekend we went to the 2nd birthday party of the daughter of one of our friends. The boys had a fun time putting stickers on mini pumpkins, assembling the Pooh alphabet puzzle and generally ignoring the other party attendees. We get to the fun part where we sing happy birthday and eat cupcakes, etc. As we were leaving a little while later, Caleb teared up and said "we didn't have any ice cream". I hadn't even noticed, but apparently that's why Caleb went! :)

Well, the good news is that Philip had already been planning to take Caleb out for ice cream that afternoon as a reward for his good behavior that week. We had been having an issue with a chronic behavior problem with Caleb, so decided to attack with positive re-enforcement, instead of negative (which wasn't working!). The deal was if he made it through 7 days without an episode, a trip for ice cream with daddy would be a reward. Apparently it was motivating! I think we've now had almost 2 weeks without incident at this point. Yeay!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Did You Know...

Caleb has been learning letter sounds as the first step toward reading. He is now fascinated by spelling and what the first letter in a word is. He's doing really well with it and will often say things like, "did you know that cup and cat start with the same letter?" Or he'll ask "how do you spell cabinet?" or "what letter starts with the word book?" So we'll respond, "what letter makes the sound 'buh'?" "B". Right. The funniest thing though is when he says things like this: "Hey Mommy, did you know that rabbit and rabbits and rabbit hop all start with the same letter?" "Actually Caleb, they all start with the same word." "No, they start with the same letter, 'r'." That's a "smile and nod" moment!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Decorating Dilemma

So, after taking several months off from our renovating and redecorating, we are finally starting to tackle some of our remaining projects. Over the weekend, we took a family excursion to Lowe's and picked out paint for the boys' bathroom. We just have to hang the hardware and then I'll post the before and after pics. Although, this was only PART of what I wanted changed in the bathroom. This house was built in the mid-80's and someone had the audacity to use ALMOND in the upstairs bathrooms. Almond, hexagonal tiles, almond toilet, shower, etc. I HATE ALMOND! However, re-tiling a bathroom and shower is not a weekend project, so for now, we've left it. Although, Philip was doing some research and it appears there is a product available to refinish showers and tubs...tempting. But the hexagonal floor WILL be going at some point. And probably the cabinets, vanity, toilet, mirror and light fixtures at some point. Not only do I really hate the way it all looks, but whenever we do resell this house, it's going to have to be done at that point anyway. Most people aren't real into 1980's bathrooms anymore. But anyway, we'll have to get to all that as time and money allows. So, all that to say, we're only part way done with the bathroom.

Anyway, the real dilemma is that we want to re-paint Caleb's room, which is currently green. The problem is that we want to paint it some kind of blue, but we have been informed by Caleb, "if you paint it blue, I won't like favorite color will always be orange." When we were picking carpet for the house, Caleb wanted orange for his room, when asked what color we should paint the You can see by the picture, that an orange room would be a little overwhelming, so we're trying to figure out a good compromise. Anyone know a good (cheap!) way to get some orange on his walls without having to paint the whole thing that way?

Our Budding Theologian

Recently, we have noticed a big increase in the number and quality of questions Caleb has been asking, especially about theological/Biblical matters. Here is a sampling from the past few weeks:

1. If Jesus created everything, how were Mary and Joseph (as his parents) around before He was?

2. Are we all going to be smashed up against in other in heaven (or will there be space)?

3. What does "saved by grace" mean?

4. What does "fruit of the spirit" mean?

5. Why are there people in the world?

I see he'll be keeping us on our toes... Apparently he comes by this questioning honestly...Philip did the same thing as a little guy. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The First Five Years

So, several of you have asked, how about the highlights of the last five years? Well, I could only put so many pictures in the last post, so I decided not to focus on the after, just the before, but due to popular demand, I'll hit some highlights here. :) I have to warn you, it might be a mini-novel! I like pictures. :)

In the eight weeks after we got married, my brother and Philip's brother also got married. It was a busy fall! Anyway, after all that settled down, Philip and I took a fun last minute weekend cruise to the Bahamas, and a major perk was that before heading home (since the cruise was from Miami) we got to visit with my grandparents. It has been the only time they met Philip. Then, here we are in March 2003 with my brother Dan and his wife Angela at their condo. They lived here in the DC area as well until the fall of 2004. We still miss them! The happy news about this picture is that we had just found out I was pregnant with Caleb.

After we found out we were expecting, that summer we purchased a townhouse and moved there about six weeks before Caleb was born. Our small group at the time was an amazing help in getting the house painted and helping with the move. In addition to being way pregnant, right after we started the house painting, I wound up in the hospital at 31 weeks with inexplicable side pain. After a few days, they operated on my abdomen in an attempt to find the problem. They never did, but after the operation, the pain went away. Truly bizarre. Our group and our family helped carry us through this scary time of not knowing what was going to happen to me or the baby, and helped us with the physical recovery afterward. Amazingly, Caleb stayed in the womb and wasn't born until he was full term. This is experience is largely was led us to the name Caleb, which means "tenacious". He sure is! The other picture is of us on our first anniversary. I was 8 months pregnant at the time.

Here with are with Caleb when he is about 3 or 4 days old in November 2003.

Some of our best memories from 2004 come from the Hines family trip to Montana with the whole clan. We spent a week at a friend of the family's home and had a wonderful time. We drove out from Seattle, so on the way some of us went to Yellowstone. An added fun thing about this trip was that my sister Deborah (11 at the time) was able to come along with us. Here is Caleb getting an ice cream cone, courtesy of his grandpa!

Christmas 2004 was another special time as the Hines family gathered at Philip's parents' home in Georgia. We had lots of fun that trip, although I missed a lot of it because I caught a horrible cold the day we arrived! I think I singlehandedly kept Kleenix in business. During this visit, we shared with the family that Caleb's new sibling was going to be a brother!

Joshua tried his best to arrive twice before he actually did on May 15, 2005. God blessed us though by working the timing out so that Philip's brother and wife (Paul and Vanessa) could be around to stay at home with Caleb while we went to the hospital. God also blessed me with a fast, easy delivery, and a really easy recovery. Here is Caleb meeting his little brother. The boys are exactly 18 months apart.

Philip loves his boys and since I am the chief photographer around our house, we have lots of great pictures of the three of them. This is one of my favorite. Joshua is about 3.5 months old here at the end of August. In mid-September, we took a trip to Charlotte to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday (a month early). We had a fun surprise party for him, and he got lots of razzing...hence the chef's hat. He's with my sister Deborah.

We could tell from the get-go that Joshua was cut from different cloth than Caleb. This is one of all time favorite pictures of Joshua. He's only about 8.5 months here, but boy can you see the mischief lurking in his eyes!

Thanksgiving 2005 the Hines family came to our home in VA and we had a great time together. If you have been receiving Christmas letters from us for a while, you recognize this picture!

We actually wound up spending Christmas 2005 by ourselves. It was a little sad to not have family around, but we tried to still make it fun with the boys. They were a little young to really get what was happening. Here we decided to give Joshua a kissing lesson. :) Christmas night we opened our home to other young families from church who were also alone, so we had a nice time of fellowship that evening.

The porch swing that makes the backdrop for this picture was pulled off the curb when one of our neighbors was moving and throwing it out. It's a little rickety, but it's become one of our favorite places to sit, and one of the best places to take pictures. Here's the boys in March 2006.

In June 2006, Philip and I got away for the first time for more than one night since Caleb was born, thanks for Philip's parents. We flew the boys to Atlanta and then continued on to Puerto Rico for 5 days by ourselves! The trip was courtesy of Southern Living at Home and was a wonderful time. We had just found out that I was pregnant with our third child, which I wound up losing several months later at 13 weeks.

One of our favorite memories from the fall of 2006 was our trip to the National Zoo over Labor Day weekend with Philip's parents. Caleb had a blast, but you would never have known it at the time as he never cracked a smile. Joshua, on the hand, was exuberance personified. After the Zoo, we also made a quick trip to the National Cathedral and then to Bucca di Beppos (a Hines family favorite) for dinner. It was a great day.

The boys' first cousin, Will, was born in April 2006 to my brother Dan and Angela. Here are Caleb and Will in September 2006.

In October 2006, we took a family trip to Boone, NC (where I went to college) to visit some old friends. This picture was taken at Linville Falls (the place Philip and I went the day he told me he didn't think our relationship was going beyond friends). As you can see, we had less than cooperative subjects. Caleb hasn't really willingly smiled for many pictures since around the time Joshua was born. On the way to Boone, we stayed overnight with some other friends and attended a wedding. Afterwards, we took a quick trip to Charlotte to see my Grandma Kroboth.

Thanksgiving 2006 was really special. It was the first time the whole Kroboth family (all five kids and the parents) had been together in six years. We celebrated at our place. During this visit, we told the family that I was expecting again and was due in July. We wound up also losing this baby, this time at 18 weeks in February 2007.

Christmas was great fun that year as well, since the boys were able to get into the spirit of the holiday some and really understand what all the fuss was about (Jesus). We have some great memories of times spent together.

In January, God led us to the purchasing of this home. It's located about 3 miles from our townhouse, but offered more room to grow, as well as a yard, a garage and a really quiet cul-du-sac (there are only 3 house on it!). An extra bonus is that the cul-du-sac lots back to woods which go down to the Potomac River. It's about a mile walk, and one that Philip and the boys take frequently. After moving in, we spent most of our Spring doing projects (major and minor) to the house. Maybe that will be it's own blog post!

Easter this year was spent in Charlotte, again with the whole Kroboth family. The day after Easter, my younger brother Tim received his Eagle Scout award. Here he is taking the oath from Eagle Scout brother Dan.

This picture of Caleb and Philip is one of my favorites. Philip really is a wonderful dad and moments like this exemplify that! They are at the little park that is a 5 minute walk from our house. Philip and the boys go there quite often. Then we have Joshua's second birthday. He was so serious that day, I don't know why, so we don't have pictures of him smiling. But, let me tell you, he LOVED this cake! Of course it's Bob and Larry from VeggieTales. He has a picture of just the cake that he still carries around with me. He calls it his "Bob cake".

Our couples' small group is still a big priority in our lives. The couples who are in it have changed over several times, but we have been so blessed by those who have also chosen to prioritize God and their marriage. Here I am at my birthday celebration with several of the ladies who have been in the group over the years.

This August we had been planning for months to go to the beach near Charleston SC with the Hines family. Shortly before we were to leave, we received word that Philip's grandpa, an amazing, Godly man, had passed away suddenly. Plans were modified and the whole family (minus our boys) was able to first gather in Tacoma, WA for beautiful military and church memorial services. It was really a very special trip.

Philip and I had left the boys with my family in Charlotte, so we flew back to Charlotte, picked up the boys and Deborah and drove on down to Charleston for 5 days. We were joined by Paul and Vanessa and their 6 month old son Forest and Philip's mom and dad. We had a blast. The boys had a wonderful time playing at the beach, and it was great to have more time to spend together as a family.

So, there is the not-so-brief recap of the last five years. This takes us to the end of August and the events since then are already described on the blog. :) If you made it to the end of this entry, congratulations!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

October and November are busy celebration months for us with five birthdays and right in the middle is today...our 5th wedding anniversary! I have been looking forward to this day for about 11 months in awe thinking, I can't believe we've been married almost five years! Well, now we have! In some ways it seems like a huge milestone. In other ways, it seems like just yesterday! Many of you were not with us on the journey to our wedding, so here's a few pics to bring you up to speed. :) One of the advantages of having a long distance relationship was that we have probably more pictures to commemorate our times together because they were a rare occasion. And so, we have a picture from the night we met. Do not laugh. This is the best we could do. Had we known this picture would go into infamy as the night we met, we might have tried a little harder to get a good one. And don't was taken on a "old school" camera, so we couldn't check the results...don't laugh.

January 15, 1999...the night it all began.
We met on a blind non-date when I went out to Seattle to visit my friend Laura and we needed a 4th person to go swing dancing with us and her fiance. :)

Sept 1999...our second meeting at the wedding of our friends who introduced us, Mayson and Laura, and August 2000...the day Philip had told me he didn't think our relationship was going to go anywhere. That obviously got re-evaluated!

December 2000...meeting Philip's parents and brother. No, they didn't meet me near a cliff in case they didn't like me. This was a trip to Mt Rainier. :)

I spent the summer of 2001 in Seattle interning with Marsh, my future DC employer. This was our last date in August 2001, right before I left. A dad and his young (maybe 6) son walked by while we were sitting here and the dad told his son, "this is the way you treat a woman." Sweet, huh? This was a big summer for us. It was the first time we had spent together really as a couple, and not just as friends. So, it included the first hand holding and "I love yous". :) Sounds minor, but it wasn't! Just ask Philip. :)

Philip spent the fall of 2001 living with my parents in NC so they could "get a crack at him". I was finishing up school, so we didn't see each other that much. In January, he moved to Northern VA and I went to Spain for 4 months. After I came back in May 2002, we took a trip to Seattle for a wedding. On the left is Philip's not-so-well received attempt at kissing me that went down in photograhic history thanks to the fast shooting fingers of the couple that actually introduced us. Our actual first kiss came several days later and was not caught on film. :) On the right things were a little friendlier at the wedding we went to attend.

This is the day we got engaged, July 4, 2002. We weren't in a fog that day (maybe I was...I had mono and it was about 103*....if we look sweaty in the pic, it's because we are!) Philip's camera was on the fritz that day and mine must have been on vacation. This is the best pic we have.

Self-explanatory...cake cutting at our wedding - October 12, 2002

And here we are now...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Own Personal Bob and Larry

Apparently I no longer have boys...I have a tomato and a cucumber. Frequently throughout the day (especially after pajama time), Joshua will come charging into the family room and announce, "Bob came back!" Not to outdone, Caleb will echo, "Larry came back!" Now this is interesting on several counts. For one, they have completely reversed their assumed personalities. In "real life", there is a clear resemblance between Joshua and Larry the Cucumber, but not so much with Bob. And vice versa with Caleb. Secondly, it appears Bob and Larry never "leave", they just "come back". Not sure how that works. It's also interesting because Joshua daily makes it very clear he does NOT have an identity crisis of any kind. If we refer to him as anything other than Joshua (or one of his "approved" nicknames, such as "Rooski"), he will let us know we've erred. For example, I periodically slip up and say something like, "alright Buster, let's go". "My not Buster, my Joshua!" And so on. But Bob, apparently Bob he likes. Tonight, I was even privileged to carry Bob up to bed, as Joshua was not to be found at bedtime. :)

As you may have noticed, Joshua is a big fan of anything VeggieTales. He particularly loves the music. We have a CD with songs from several of the videos on it and he practically has it memorized. We usually play it in the kitchen, so when it's on, generally this is the picture: Joshua standing in front of the desk (where the radio is mounted), staring at the radio, singing along to all the songs...and not to be distracted. Lunch? Who needs that? And then he will tell us as each song starts which video it's from. We've discovered we can't play it during a time we want him to get anything done...because it just won't happen. Some of the songs he has less memorized than others, like the theme song. Whenever he wants to sing that one, he'll start singing "broccoli, celery, produce aisle....sing to me mommy!" Apparently, I know more of the song than he does, so I am often required to "remind" him of the words. Sometimes I try to pass this duty off to Caleb, who knows most of the words, but I guess he's not a good substitute because this is usually met with a protest by Joshua.

Caleb likes to sing too...he just doesn't worry quite so much about the being in tune or volume comtrol. Tonight he was serenading us with quite a dramatic version of "Away in a manger"...although, I believe he titled it "Away From the Manger". Details... The other night after he had gone to bed, I thought I heard someone crying and went to listen. I discovered it was actually Caleb singing at the top of his lungs. He was singing the memory verse they are working on at CBS (Community Bible Study) right now. "I trust in Your Word" Psalm 119:42. He was singing it, "address" and all. He has actually responded quite well to memorizing verses by music, thanks to a great CD we have which features Skittles the bunny and Boo Bear. He will sing the Fruits of the Spirit and other verses over and over and over. I think it's great though. I know from experience that a verse that goes in with a song is never forgotten!

Sunday, October 7, 2007


So, I have been cutting Philip's hair since before we were even engaged. I think the first time was about 6 years ago. The first few cuts were quite long and painful...not physically painful, but they literally took about 2 hours! I've come a long way in 6 years. We've never truly had a disaster, although there have definitely been a few times where we've had to say "oh will grow out!" When my 18 year old brother was here in August, my youngest sister and I declared war on his hair and decided it was time for a style change. He reluctantly agreed. Deborah and I were thrilled with the results. Tim claims he had to have it fixed by a "professional", but I still say it looked pretty good! :)

It was a natural progression to cut the boys' hair as well. Today was haircut day
around here. Joshua said that Daddy needed to go first and he would be after that, so that's how it was. I always hate cutting Joshua's hair because it feels like he loses half of his personality! I love his spiky, crazy hair! But, we can only let it grow past his ears for so long. :) Caleb only got a trim, as I'd like to see how his hair looks grown in a bit. I am actually considering *gasp* taking him to a Hair Cuttery or something to see what they can do with Caleb's hair at a non-buzz length.

So, after the haircuts, we put the boys on the swing in an attempt to get a nice picture of the two of them. We nearly succeeded! Aren't they cute? :)

Red Lobster and Spanish Speakers

One of the disadvantages to being a fair skinned person is that when you burn, you BURN. As in, get bright red. Yesterday, Philip went downtown to attend Stand in the Gap 2007, a men's rally. The first (and most recent) Stand in the Gap was in 1997 and had about 1,000,000 attendees. Yesterday's event was much smaller. Anyway, being that it is October, Philip did not think to wear sunscreen, and I have to admit that when I saw him after he came home, I burst out laughing. Bad wife, I know. But really, when your husband could rival a lobster for color, what can you do but laugh?

This picture was taken today and the bright red has faded to pink. :) Trust me though, see that one spot on his neck, it was all that red yesterday!

Yesterday morning before Philip headed downtown, we all went to church to volunteer with the Food Pantry ministry. Things were a little chaotic and, as it turned out, it was one of the busiest days, with the most new clients, the Food Pantry ever had. So, our help was very needed. The boys wound up being too small to really help and it was too busy to be able to integrate them, so they played out on the playground the whole time. Philip helped fill orders and I checked in new clients. Who spoke only Spanish. Boy, had I realized I would be doing this, I would have brushed up! I had to ask questions about income and expenses, how many family members, why they needed temporary help from the church...enough to your head spin. Boy was I rusty! I felt like I was doing a terrible job, but the reality was, there were only 3 or 4 of us that spoke ANY Spanish and a HUGE crowd of non-English speakers! What an experience.

I do hope that next time we go the boys are able to really help out and get something out the experience. Next month the service project is visiting with THAT we can handle!