Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Our gift to you. Hopefully will be a smile :) You've seen one family shot in the blog title, but here are a few favorite that hopefully will bring you a little joy from our family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Favorite Books for 2010

For the first time in my life, I have not read very many books this year. I have managed to snag a few good ones, though, on recommendations from either Bas Bleu or from my mom and friends. Starting from the newest to oldest.
A semi-fictional war novel, Every Man Dies Alone, is based on a husband and wife who stage simple resistance in Nazi Germany. The author, Hans Fallada, tells a simple story with simple, yet appropriate prose and pace that draws you deeply into its characters and their inevitable deaths.

This book, Half Broke Horses, drew me in with funny, gritty stories of a fascinating woman in Arizona around the Great Depression. I loved learning about the history of Arizona as well as the amazing resilience of the author's great grandmother. This one was probably my favorite of the year.

I read also this thriller by Sarah Waters called, The Little Stranger, which was a little out of my typical genre, but still well written if you like suspense and drama.

Another good one this year was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It is a very interesting novel written about the women on both sides of society in Jackson,Mississippi during the civil rights movement. (Note: it has some adult situations in it)

For something humorous, try Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhoda Janzen. It isn't serious writing, and tells a self-discovery story that we have heard a few times; yet, she has some really funny stories that will make you laugh.

My spiritual highlights this year were these three books. Edges of His Ways by Amy Carmichael was perfect for those mornings when the coffee just wasn't strong enough, yet I needed some rich spiritual food to keep me going through the day.

The Praying Life by Paul Miller has become my new top five spiritual books. His words were so helpful and inspiring to really see God in a fresh way in my spiritual communion. It has been very uplifting as my family has fought to keep our faith strong during my father's depression.

Lastly, my other favorite, was by an old favorite, Elyse Fitzpatrick, called Because He Loves Me. I find her writing to be much "thicker" than a typical woman author. She has a lot of deep ideas about God's radical love for us and how it can transform our thinking about God.

Looking forward to new books this year as well, when I will pick up my tradition of reading one great big fat classic novel as well as other books along the way...

Any suggestions out there for this year's classic novel that no one ever reads or finishes?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our other child

Meet our dog.
He's one.
Which in dog years means he is still a child :)
We love him.
Especially the kids.

(Sorry but this is the best picture I could get of him...a quickly moving object :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Follow the Spark

I picked up this book my friend had at her house the other day and ran across this phrase:
Follow the spark
Following the spark is a concept that this author applies to mothering small children. What a great phrase to reinvent our time with our children during the holidays! If you are like me, you need an attitude adjustment, some elves, a cleaning lady, a personal assistant and a make-over to get through the holidays. When you have little ones crawling and taking off your tree ornaments, feeding your cookie dough to the dog and wiping faces, hands and bums a hundred times a day, it doesn't make for a lot of free time to accomplish all your holiday wish lists.

Those lists are just wishes. Not everything is crucial. If we follow the spark of what is amazing to our children we will stop. We will pause with them. We will rejoice in their little moments. Their perspective is so fresh. Usually I try to just grit though it and GET IT DONE. I want to follow their sparks of joy, wonder, delight and interest in the next few weeks. Christmas can be a true spark to rejoice in our mothering.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If you still don't know what you want...

Here are some odds and ends favorites of mine from this year:

Karve classes here.

Lululemon pants, yoga inspired wear that is tough enough to last five years.
Puma flats that act like slippers but give support like Dansko clogs.
Or these brand of flats, Me Too, are amazing for their comfort:

For my house, I just got one of these for our living room and it is super sturdy but the corners are soft enough not to endanger little heads.

On a personal level, I am loving a few new products that would be great stocking stuffers: like this new razor which brought smooth to a whole new level. 

It can be paired with this cream shave that saves me from using my expensive Redken conditioner.

And this amazing nourishing mascara that actually works on short eyelashes.

As well as this fragrance for winter:

Just some ideas that I've stumbled upon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Preparations

It was quite a shock to come home and have only three short weeks to prepare for Christmas. You see, I love Christmas preparations. I love decorating, baking, crafting, and designing. I love gift strategy, gift surprising and gift giving.

So my house is clean. My cookies are baked (favorites from last year are from Sunset magazine here). My crafts are sewn. My cards are sent. My house is decorated. I just love these new felt ball garlands I added to our decorations this year which Janis spotted on clearance at Crate & Barrel last year.

One little problem.

I came home and I had purchase exactly two gifts. I also hate mall shopping. Thank goodness for the internet. Tomorrow I am going to tackle the rest of the in-person shopping. But here are some holiday finds that I have used to make things go a little more smooth.
     North Face Gear here at great prices. (They even send you a $20 coupon for your next purchase!)
     Desk accessories at West Elm with free shipping.
     Amazon Wish Lists with free shipping.

I'll let you know how the real shopping goes tomorrow. It's quite a list of place to go :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

What a wonderful time we are having here in Maryland seeing all our other family and introducing our newest member of it to everyone. Grant was quite surprised to be the center of attention; it was if he was saying, "Why am I the center of attention...that's usually Kate's job!"

Monday, November 01, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My men

I keep telling Travis that his unemployment has left us a lot of time to be with the kids in a way that most dads don't get to. I just love this pictures of my little guy and my husband.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lost computer, lost time

We lost the small computer to a fall, so we are limping along on our old Toshiba. This means that Travis has it 99% of the time, so I haven't been able to do much posting.

Travis continues to pursue working with a start-up company called E-Health Trust, a medical banking system for consumers. We are praying that the company makes sales this month so that they can hire him full-time. He is also pursuing other options as well, for we know that start-up companies are a risk.

I have been continuing to work at the hospital and have added another hospital and a private practice job that keep me busy.

This weekend our friend had to go into the hospital for an emergency kidney infection, so we have been helping them out with meals and their kids. It was quite an adventure for me to have a 2 1/2 year old, a 5 month old, and a 2 month old for a day! Kate loved it, saying, "Jesus, please help Becky to feel all better!" and "Awww, Baby Eli is so cute!". Grant was super patient as well, waiting his turn to eat and generally doing great sharing mommy. The only challenge came as I attempted to eat dinner, feed everyone, then bathe and bed them all. Matt accused me of loving being superwoman;but, let's just say that I only enjoyed watching the babies play together.

It is hard to believe but Grant is almost 5 months old. He is a big chunker. I am not sure how big he is, but we go to the doctor to find out on Tuesday. My guess is 18lbs and about 27 inches long. He hasn't gone back to sleeping through the night; and I haven't started him on solids yet, so maybe it will all work itself out soon enough. He is so proud of himself lately, flipping over both directions and this week he finally got on all fours. Crawling here we come!

Kate is every bit a two year old. Her newest phrase is, "But, Mommm" She is essentially potty trained, although we have had some reverting this past week.  She loves having her dog around, mostly because she has someone to boss her around. We are in that downward slump of what my mom calls the three month cycle-- three months they do really well, then three months of intense training. I love her to death. She is so intense and busy. Every time I look at her, I think, "If this is what she is like now, what is she going to be like at four? at seven? at thirteen!?!" Here's my favorite picture of her lately: (for some reason it isn't loading right...)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

My big boy

I cannot believe how much he has grown. Probably why he still needs to get up in the night to eat. I measured him myself the other day and he was 26 inches-- he has grown 6 inches in 3 months! I think he is upwards of 17 lbs too...packing it on in true man style.
Look at this adorable picture of him that Emily took at the pool while my parents were visiting.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

At long last, I got it.

He laughed. And my heart melted. Again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My life at two.

Two pm. She's either up. Or she's down. A nap either produces a cheery, snuggly two year old or a screaming flailing thirty pound mass to be reckoned with. You never know what you are going to get. Life is always exciting at home. Being at work the past three weeks for most of the day made me realize that it is a merry-go-round I would much rather be on than any other.
I just love all of her passion. It is one of the most interesting things I have ever done. Guiding and shaping little minds and bodies is crazy hard and tiring. But it is fascinating.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

3 month stud

At least, that is what I think.
This was the only picture I could snap between music class and the pool.
I just love his little faces now. I miss the gummy smiles when I go to work these days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Two Months.

On accident I published the wrong video with Kate in it.
Here's another go at it.
This was our 6 week video with some of his first smiles.
At two months he has slept through the night twice, continues to eat like a champ and is generally pretty happy. He seems like he is growing out of his clothes much faster than his sister; at two months, he is already growing into some six month basics. I know it is because he is my second child, but it sure seems like he grows faster and every time I blink, he gets longer and stronger.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Still singing.

Our family is going on another adventure.
We've been on this trip before.
But now we are a team.
And Kate is leading the way, cheering us on in song.
Lord, make me a servant, humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And may the prayer of my heart always be "make me a servant today".

We found out on the Friday before the July 4th weekend that Travis' division was eliminated in a restructuring at his company. Without much warning, we are in a put on this road of unemployment again. Last time, we were living on my part-time income and Travis was in school; we found out Travis lost his job last time the beginning of September and we found out we were pregnant with Kate a month later. This time, I have to admit, it is a little more scary initially that you are without a primary income when you have a house and two children.

But Kate is singing. And we are too. She sings for us all as we depend on the great Provider.
We have never gone hungry or been without a bed to sleep in. God has always been faithful to us over these past five years for employment.

There are many signs of God's faithfulness. He provided a baby grand piano for us unexpectedly as a  permanent "loan"-- this reminds us to sing in the midst of trial. He provided 10 days of work for me on short notice at the hospital. He also provided for my Dad his third job in a year in a bad economy. Travis also has three great job leads as well as a much larger network than the last time.

Pray for us that today we would continue to sing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Under the Hood

It was my first true moment in glory. It was third grade and the assignemt was to spell “sister”. Mrs. Forgothername picked the kid sitting at the first desk in the first row on the other side of the room. I was sitting at the first desk in the last row. The girl stands up and spells sister “sistur”. She takes her seat and Mrs. Forgothername picks the kid that was sitting right behind her to spell it. He stands up and says “sicter”. Close but not right. Mrs. Forgothername went up the entire row, then began coming back down the next row having every kid stand up and attempt to spell “sister”. No one in the entire class could get it right. 24 students and none of them were getting it right. I could not believe this question made it all the way around the class and now we were at my row! The kid behind me was asked to stand. My heart is pounding out of my chest. My palms were sweating. I had to go to the bathroom so bad I was nearly crying. Certainly the question would not get to me!! I honestly thought I was going to feint. SO, the kid behind me stands to spell “sister.” “S-i-s-t-e-r-e.” WRONG! It was my turn. I had to stand in front of the entire class of 24 peers and attempt to spell “sister”. I stood slowly, sweat dripping down my face, and ready to pee in my pants. “S-i-s-t-e-r” and I sat down. “That is correct Stevie” said Mrs. Forgothername. I was KING! Victorious! Hero of the class! Ready to sign autographs! I was the winner surrounded by 24 losers!

Every one of my classmates were close, some very close-only one letter- but they failed the test. In spelling, it is either correct or it is incorrect. Right or wrong. There are not two ways to correctly spell “sister”.

Now, for a morning exercise. A question for your to ponder (as we should reflect upon it at some point daily). A question that is at the center of a Christians motivation, peace, obedience and hope. You guessed it. Here’s the question. “What is the gospel?”

A word you have heard thousands of times. But what is it? Over the next day or so, write down or at least reflect on how you would answer that question. It has to be exactly correct. Close or almost is incorrect. This is not a “yawn, not again dad” exercise. The gospel is the center of our worldview and how we define the meaning of life. There is no other central truth. And we all lose sight of aspects of it from time to time.

So, think about it. Try to succinctly articulate it, touching on its non negotiable components. Even write it down if you like. Next under the hood e mail, I will also take a stab at it, because no one can avoid this question. And no Christian should go long in his day without reflecting upon it (or some aspect of it) and it’s implications.


Third grade spelling champ  (Steve Shank)

Monday, June 14, 2010

According to Kate...

"Daddy, have a black pony?"
"I want two ponies."
"I ride ponies, Daddy"
"Ponies in my grass."
--All this from a pony ride when she stayed at the Shanks while we were bringing Grant home from the hospital a month ago...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One month and one big moment.

Four week and almost one month old. Not much to report other than he slept from 8:30 to 3:30 the night before last. Little man likes his sleep. It's hard to get pictures of him as he is sleeping most of the time. The color of his eyes are maybe brown? But the jury is still out.

The big sister had a big moment yesterday too. She walks away from her lunch and tells me, "I go under the table. I go poop." I said, "Let's go on the potty!" and we took her to the toliet. She wouldn't go there, so we put her little potty under the table, and she did the deed. We have been forced into potty training because she takes her diaper off all the time. On Monday night, after putting her to bed, we found her with her legs up in the air, diaper open, on top of the large thick changing pad placed on top of the crib mattress, with her hand messy with poop, saying, "Daddy! I pooped!" Then yesterday during room time, I find her naked, without any diapers on. When I asked her if she peed, she replied, "Yes." I asked her where and she replied, "Right there, Mommy!" and pointed to the diaper on the floor. I assumed she went in her diaper, took it off, etc, but then she said, "Mommy, other one!" and apparently, she had peed TWICE, changing her diaper in between sessions. I think she is ready. Unfortunately, I am not sure I am ready.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Three weeks

He's waking a little but is still a gentle little man. He loves to be warm, snuggled and wrapped up tight. The jury is still out on his eyes, but they are not blue like Kate's....they just might be like Mommy's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My first dentist appointment.

While my Dad was getting his teeth cleaned (no cavities despite no visit to the dentist in a year and a half) and Mom was getting a crown (we pray that I have my father's teeth), I got to visit the dentist too! This is a picture of me and Curtis. He cleaned my teeth, showed me all cool tools they use (I even kissed the sucking tool!) and gave me lots of presents when I finished. Everyone said I did a great job because I even opened my mouth and let him look at my teeth. And I didn't get scared at all. My mommy said it must be because I have Daddy's teeth that I like the dentist so much already.

Monday, May 24, 2010


It was eleven years ago. A little shop in Paris. Croissants to die for. I think I bought a box of ten to take back with me to my dorm in Cambridge. I don't think I shared with anyone except Elizabeth.

My tongue has returned to Paris today. Thanks to this little shop. My Mom took Kate and bought the last five chocolate ones after an article appeared in the paper over the weekend. They were the best and the closest to true high quality Parisian croissants that I have had since I was there.

I think I will go broke visiting this shop, which is only fifteen minutes from my house.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

One week.

my little man. gentle to his momma. sleeps and eats like an angel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

According to...

Travis: "Where's the hozzle?"
Nora: "The hozzle?!?!"
Travis: "Yeah. The hozzle. The sprayer."

He meant the spray nozzle.
I couldn't stop laughing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Welcome little man.

Grant John Shank was born at 7:35 pm last night, following in his sister's footsteps as a change-of-shift baby. He weighed 7 lbs 12 ounces and measured longer than his sister at 20 1/2 inches despite being a week early. We adore him and he has been a very mellow baby thus far (compared to the wild indian, his sister).
The induction process went easily once it was under way. In fact, while we were waiting for everything to get straightened out (they had mistakenly scheduled me one day earlier than a full 39 weeks, which was against policy) I had dialated to twice what I measured the day before by 10am. Despite it being an early morning and long day, we are so grateful for the miracle of a healthy baby boy.