Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dr. Paul Scott, aka Daddad

Yesterday, we laid one of my greatest heroes to rest. The world will never be the same without him, but it is surely a lot brighter because of him.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of him with some of his greatest joys; his great grandkids. And below, are the words I shared at his funeral service, while holding his namesake, Baby Paul.

Since Daddad's passing on Tuesday morning, the outpouring of love has been amazing. As I read through the thoughts of those who were fortunate enough to know him, I felt incredibly humbled and undeserving to be his granddaughter.

I'm told that when I was little I didn't recognize Daddad without his camera hanging around his neck and his pocket protector full of pens jabbing me in the face when he hugged me. It's true his passion for photography was rivaled only by his passion for foreign languages, hostas, tomatoes, puns, palindromes, a good math problem, a bad limerick, well okay... he was passionate about a lot of things. But what I really wouldn't recognize him without is his huge smile.

With three kids, I barley have time right now to brush my teeth, let alone have a hobby, or a dozen, like he did. But somehow between his enormous garden, his proficiency in many languages, and running a medical clinic, he was never once too busy to help, or play, or laugh, or comfort one us.

Our 2 year-old son, Isaiah, was so smitten with him after Bubby and Daddad visited us this spring, that he started turning down every song we'd try to sing him at bedtime. Finally, I asked, "Well, what song do you want?" "The BubbyDaddad song!!" he exclaimed. As no such song yet existed, my mom, Lisa, wrote one. (I'm sure she'll sing it for you tonight if you ask nicely.)

I have regrettably not inherited his creativity like she did, nor his impeccable memory, or his green thumb. I wish I had his self-control with sweets and his uncanny pain tolerance. I'm afraid I didn't receive his goofy sense of humor or laid back attitude either. However, he did pass me his hunger for adventure as I watched him white water raft, bike, hike, and ski well into his 70s and 80s. And a good bargain is my Kryptonite just like it was his.

But none of those are the reasons we named our son after him.

Baby Paul, you have some very very big shoes to fill. You would do well to find yourself a fabulous Bubby to keep you organized and out of trouble as you follow in his footsteps to have a beautiful marriage, adoring family, and exceptional career.

Paulie, We are so sad you'll never jump waves with your Daddad in the ocean, climb 14ers with him in Colorado, or read anymore books with him in multiple languages. But mostly we're heartbroken you'll never truly know his kindness. If you inherit anything from him may it be his unparalleled generosity. If we pass on any of his goodness may it be his genuine love for everyone, especially family, and his joy in life.

This week, as I've held Baby Paul a little tighter, I've prayed over him that as he grows up, people might say that he reminds them of another Paul they used to know. Because what greater compliment could any of us ask for?

Monday, June 19, 2017


I recently read an article about adoption with this quote,

"Transracial adoption can be beautiful, but as with any form of adoption, there is loss.
There is not only the loss of birth family, there is the loss of growing up in your culture.
As parents, it’s our job to minimize the effects of this loss of culture as much as possible."

And I thought, "This. This is why we're throwing Angie a crazy awesome Quinceañera!"

The Quince Party is the traditional 15th birthday party of Latin American countries. The origins aren't clear, but like a Sweet Sixteen party in the U.S. the purpose is to celebrate the coming of age from a girl into a young woman.

We decided to honor Angie's Latino roots and try to pull off a Quince as a backyard dance party. And if I must say so myself, it was pretty Epic! Calling a party you hosted yourself Epic, is surely tooting your own horn more than I'd usually be comfortable doing, but since Angie's too cool to probably ever use that word about something her parents did for her, I guess I'll have to say it. Here are some pictures to prove it:
Her reaction to the reveal of the party surprises.

And her expression for most of the afternoon/evening.
We didn't maintain many of the traditional Quinceañera customs, mostly because we don't really know what they are, and partly because we weren't up for spending multiple thousands of dollars as is common with these parties. But here's a Latino tradition we did keep; Angie took the first bite out of the top of the cake, and a friend sweetly smashed her face in it. She literally asked for this!
"Que la muerda! Que la muerda!
Although we didn't have the customary 14 Damas and Chambelans (the court of honor), most Quinceañeras probably don't have Dabbing, so I'd say Angie really came out ahead. We also improvised with musical chairs, a photo scavenger hunt, a piñata, the limbo, corn hole, life-size Jenga, empanadas, and a phenomenal DJ taking requests and keeping the dance floor hopping! After she blew out the candles on her cake we prayed that she would continue to become the woman God has created her to be.

Angie may have been the Belle of the Ball, but Paul was similarly adored by party guests.
Isaiah possibly had more fun with Angie's friends than she did. Once when someone helped him get a drink and cool off for a moment, he whined, "More Party, More Party!"
After 2 months of party planning, I'm not sure what we'll do with ourselves now. I guess we could get started prepping for Isaiah's 3rd birthday because he'll surely want it to be a Quinceañera too if it means he can be holding sugary treats in every picture and flirt with pretty teenage girls while dancing the Macarena!

I pray the love of all who were able to come and celebrate Angie's life, and those who sent their love from afar, lingers with her for a long long time. May the Lord's love keep shining on Angie through each of us that He's placed in her life, and may such joy radiate from her always as it did on her 15th birthday.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again, Rejoice!" -Philippians 4:4

Monday, May 15, 2017

An Interview on Motherhood

Friday night, I was holding my 3 month-old son and trying to eat Dim sum at the wedding reception of one of my best friends. After a couple clingy newborns, I'm passable with my left (non-dominant) hand at eating and even cutting, but soup is always a challenge with a baby in your arms or lap. I'm not sure if it was because I was struggling to eat, examining each food for dairy and soy since I'm off both to try to help said baby, or just because she'd been curious, but someone asked me then if having kids is hard. This someone is the soon-to-be 18 year-old niece of the bride, the oldest of four kids. You'd think she would know the answer from watching her own parents wrestle with their houseful of offspring her whole life. But I like to think she asked me 'cause I looked so cool and approachable.

Our conversation went something like this:

Interviewer: "Is having kids hard?"

Me: "Having kids? Like birthing them? Yes, it's very hard, I would not recommend it."

Teenager, probably rolling her eyes: "No, like raising them?"

Me, giving up trying to be funny: "Well, yeah, that's hard too."

Interviewer just weeks away from flying the coop herself: "Did you have to give up a lot, like your freedom?"

Me, thinking back to life before kids more than 6 years ago: "Umm, yes. But I was 30 when I became a mom, so it wasn't like I was out partying every night, if I'd been 22 or something it probably would have been more difficult."

To which she was incredulous: "22?!! I would never do that, you'd give up like your whole life!"

Me, realizing I'll likely have dependents in my home until I'm retirement age: "Well, but then when you're 40, and they move out, you get your "life" and your freedom back. You could travel..."

Her: "I can travel in my 20s."

Me with a smile: "But in your 40s you'll have money to do it!"

Final question. Interviewer: "Is it worth it?"

Me, without hesitation, "Yes, it's totally worth it. It's so rewarding." *

The sleepless nights are redeemed by the sleepy hugs and toothless grins in the mornings.

The crying, screaming, sassing, and back-talking is made up for with coos your baby reserves for you, toddler talk that only you can translate, and teenagers who every so often open up and come to you for advice.

The sacrifice of time for the things you used to do, or want to do now, is rewarded with time spent molding a young life into a person who will change the world as an adult. 

The rebellion, defiance, and even rejection are worthwhile because they teach you to love like Jesus; unconditionally.

When Isaiah sees a character in danger in a storybook, he anxiously cries out, "Mommy!" Not to me, but to their Mommy. He knows that their mommy can rescue them.

Mamas, you are a safe place in a scary world, your babies need you like they need air. What an honor to be so important to someone. Whether this season feels rewarding or draining, love on... You are one of God's greatest gifts to your little ones, and they are one of His greatest gifts to you.

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." -Galatians 6:9

* These questions and answers may not be exact, if you were at our table at The Oriental House and remember them differently, forgive me. I still had them clearly in my head when I thought about writing this down Saturday, but alas I have kids so one of the things I've given up is time to blog when I want to. Still worth it though.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Twos, Terrible or Terrific?

Because some of the days with a 2 year-old are hard (can I get an Amen?) Because some days ours cries for an hour because his waffle gets broken and he NEEDS TAPE to repair it. Sometimes he melts down because I make him wear underwear instead of going commando. Other times he has the classic breakdown over the wrong color sippy cup (thanks Dad for making it such a priority to teach him his colors!) Or, like many of us, once the train is gone, the book is finished, the walk is over, or the candy is swallowed, instead of remaining grateful for the joy it brought him, he loses his mind wanting more. I could go on...

But instead of harping on the downside of the Terrible Twos, I'd rather highlight the awesomeness of the Terrific Twos, 'cause this age can be pretty great too. Somehow he knows when I'm at the end of my rope with his ridiculousness, and he does something precious or hilarious to convince me not to give him away.

So, here is the current highlight reel in photo and narrative form: 

Isaiah has learned to say "Bless you," when people sneeze, but most regularly and adorably he blesses himself when he sneezes. The other night he had just fallen asleep and I was carrying him to his crib when he sneezed and said "Bless you" without even opening his eyes or waking up.

Potty training is usually good for a laugh.
Since January, when my grandparents came from Iowa for a visit, he's been regularly saying "Bubby Daddad," their nicknames. Sometimes pleadingly, other times matter-of-factly. The frequency continued to increase as their next visit, this past weekend, approached. One night I was trying to sing him a bedtime song, but he shot down every song I tried within a few notes.

"Jesus loves me..."

"Hush little baby..."

"The wheels on..."

"Old McDonald..."

"Well, what do you want me to sing?"
"Bubby Daddad Song!"

So, my mom wrote him a 3 stanza "Bubby Daddad Song" complete with a repeating chorus, and he asks for it every night!

Although he says "No," a lot, when he says "yes" to something he says it with contagious enthusiasm, "YESSSS!"

His vocabulary is huge, but his pronunciation still leaves something to be desired, so all hard C or K sounds are still T. Such as "Mommy's tooties are nummy!" Recently, we were at Noahs' Ark, our churches indoor playplace, and we had it all to ourselves. I was sitting with Paul, when Isaiah came up to me and managed to explain that there was an airplane under the playset and he needed help getting it out. I couldn't reach it with just my hand, so I put Paul down and went in search of something long to help me retrieve the crashed plane. Sticks and bats were scarce around there (probably so kids can't hit each other) so I ended up with a plastic cucumber and recovered the downed aircraft.

Later that afternoon, we were back at home and Isaiah dropped a crayon under the couch. Right away, he went to the playroom and came back with a drumstick, saying "Tutumber!" and rescued the lost crayon. Now, every time he needs to reach anything he says "Tutumber," finds a long-ish object, and we quickly forgive him for whatever tantrum he's recently put us through because he's just too cute to stay frustrated with for long.

Silverware can make for good tutumbers in a pinch, or should I say in a pickle.

He LOVES helping make and eat muffins, sometimes he can't even wait till they're finished. He was supposed to be mashing these "nummy 'nanas." Apparently, they were too nummy to mash without sneaking a few mouthfuls.

Today, he ate all the tops off of his baby muffins before later going back and finishing them. His look, "Isn't this how everybody eats baby muffins?"

The other day, I was feeding Paul, and Zy was getting impatient and probably a little jealous, so I told him to go get a book and I would read to him. He brought be back a rhyming Bible, patted it and said, "Jesus." Then he went back to his room and returned with another Bible and said "Jesus. Match!" He loves a good match. Since, most of the book doesn't talk about Jesus I was so touched that he recognized Jesus is the central character, and although it will be a long time before he understands it, that every word points to Him in some way. Together, we looked through the Bibles for pictures and stories about Jesus, and he stopped at a drawing of a lamb, and pointed out, "Jesus." Oh, my heart... he's listening!

The sweet, wonderful, magical moments always outweigh the tough ones, even if they don't always outnumber them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Beauty of Second Borns

Our first child wasn't exactly our first born, so whatever significance birth order holds for children and parents is a bit complicated in our family. When we gave birth to our first giant son, we had already surrendered our free time, and learned many of the lessons parenting teaches you about your own selfishness and flaws, through our teenager.

When Isaiah joined us, we weren't young nor terribly naïve, but we didn't know anything about babies. So we read the books, and then ignored them, 'cause holding Isaiah all the time was way more fun than being Babywise. Plus, parents of firstborns or exclusively littles, have a lot more freedom in their schedules to stick to sleep-eat-wake routines than parents of busy middle schoolers who have to taxi them around like it's their job. Sleep experts, please explain how I'm supposed to keep a baby awake in the car while escorting my daughter to practices, games, friends' houses, etc.

So, in some ways Isaiah was not our first born, mostly in that he did not have our full and undivided attention. And, although there's a 12 year age gap, Angie is no longer an only child, as she's had to learn to share her parents, her stuff, and her schedule; in my opinion, some of the biggest benefits of having a sibling.

But then, along came Paulie. There's no confusion that this guy is not a first born or an only child. Jon is a second born among many first borns, so he has a special affection for Paul in this way.
If Isaiah had to be flexible based on his big sister's schedule, then Paul has to be fluid, or whatever's beyond flexible. When I was pregnant, Jon would come home at night and ask if Paul had been moving, and I'd have to stop and pay attention to him for the first time all day. Counting fetal kicks was not high on my list of priorities with a toddler, a teenager, and a job. Now, that he's here, when people ask how it's going with a newborn, I usually answer, "The newborn's easy, it's the toddler and the teenager that keep me on my toes!"
I took this picture to contrast the differences between our first born, Isaiah, and our second born, Paul. The main difference you see here is that Baby Paul is sleeping. Isaiah didn't (still doesn't) do much of that. Not only is Paul sleeping, but he's not sleeping in my arms, or anyone's arms for that matter. He isn't sleeping in any moving seat such as  a rock-n-play, car seat, or swing. He isn't even swaddled. He is flat on his back, and miraculously he fell asleep that way, no one held him, bounced him, or nursed him to sleep. He's also using a pacifier, a feat his big brother never mastered.

Paul sleeps through commotion like a champ. Not just the white noise of the vacuum cleaner, but the cacophony of an unruly toddler fussing at the top of his lungs or banging on anything within reach. And just this week, Paul took a bottle from his Bula (grandmother), and since then from his daddy, something Isaiah has never done once in his life. If this keeps up, second-borns might be my jam!

Now the challenge, of course, is to try to keep everything even. Angie and Isaiah have had years of photos and blog posts to memorialize their time with us. Paul has a baby book just so he doesn't feel left out. He gets random blog posts comparing him to his siblings when I get a few spare moments.

If not being the center of everyone's universe all the time helps non-first-borns not to feel entitled to being the center of the universe all the time then...would that we were all second borns. If I didn't know better, I might think Jesus Himself was a younger sibling.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


These boys are the sweetest! I can't wait to see their friendship develop over the years.

I just want someone to look at me the way Isaiah looks at Baby Paul.

From what I hear, the tables will soon turn and Paul will look up to his big brother and idolize his every move. But for now Isaiah can't get enough of his tiny friend. All day, he wants to stare at him, touch him, and look out for him.

Just as I was typing this he said, "Baby Paul hungy," (not a typo.) Then he climbed up in my lap and tried to type saying, "Helps you."  This kid!
Zy wanted to join Paul in his "house" before even getting out of his pajamas or having his breakfast blueberry face wiped off.

I can't wait till they can play in the bath together, that'll be a game changer!

Paul can't even nurse in peace without his brother nearly smothering him.

Isaiah's 2-year check-up and Paul's 1-week weight check.

My prayer for these two is that in both joy and adversity they will be lifelong friends that can turn to each other for anything. Lord, may their differences complement each other as their loyalty grows deep and strong. May they learn from one another lessons we as parents can't teach them, and might they remind each other of the lessons we have already taught them. Jesus, help them to serve and love each other like You do.

My lap and heart are full!
Daddy's arms are full too!

I predict that in the not too distant future, Isaiah will be hollering, "Mommy, Paul's touching me!" So for now, I'll cherish these moments where Isaiah doesn't want to leave his side, and Paul can't get away, or complain about it. 

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." - Proverbs 17:17

Saturday, February 25, 2017

2 Years of True Love

This guy can make the gloomiest day brighter, or he can melt down at the drop of a hat. Yep, he's TWO! And we LOVE our fun, feisty, fragile little guy to pieces!

At his 2 year check-up he had finally caught up on all his motor skill milestones. Every previous check-up I was all, "Uh, he still can't hold his head up and he's like a year old, is this gonna be a problem?" (Only a slight exaggeration.) But just as our sweet pediatrician, and every seasoned parent out there had said, it would all work out, and it did. So, now he climbs on things and gets into trouble with the best of his toddler peers.
He blew out his candles effortlessly!
His weight is still on the chunky end of the spectrum, his head continues to fly off any traditional charts (I think these charts are overdue to be revised), and his height is hard to determine as he'd have to remain still for a few seconds to accurately measure him.

His joy is contagious! Unfortunately, often so is his angst.
He got his first professional haircut this year, clearly the stylist enjoyed it more than he did.
It's a special season full of novlelty and wonder as he discovers new skills all the time, tries out new words every day, and practices counting, letters, and colors with adorable errors.

But in all the newness, the most important thing that's rocked his little world recently, is of course becoming a big brother!

Fortunately, he has a really great role model on big siblings in his sister, and he's taking after her already.
We love you, Isaiah Brantly Charles. Your charm is irresistible, your humor keeps us in stitches, your gentle kindness helps us overlook your tantrums. But even if your moods swung low more than high, we'd love you to the moon and back, 'cause we've decided to. Because although you make it pretty easy, loving you is really a choice. And we will choose it for the rest of our lives.