An Introduction

Meet Adrienne




Sometimes, you just have to shake your head.
Twenty-eight weeks pregnant and happily so, but a little “financially strapped,” the young lady went to 44 Court Street looking for an organization that had assisted a friend of hers a few years earlier. She couldn’t remember the name of the organization, just the address. What she wanted was a car seat, since you’re not allowed to leave the hospital without one. Looking at the directory in the lobby, she saw Planned Parenthood and assumed that it must be the organization she was looking for. But when she went inside and explained her situation, she was told that they could not help her get a car seat, but that since she was financially strapped, she could sign documents indicating that she was under psychological stress and get a medical waiver for a late-term abortion. (Abortion is legal only up to the 24th week of pregnancy, even in New York, except to preserve the life or health of the mother).

This young lady was shocked and distressed by Planned Parenthood’s outside-the-box solution to her need for a car seat. She did not want an abortion; she wanted her baby — and a hospital-required car seat. She eventually found her way to EMC and received the help she actually needed and wanted.
Oh, and then there's this gem:
Did they honestly think that anyone would be confused about what an organization called Bridge to Life, the Sisters of Life, or Life Center does? Both officials averred that indeed, people would, since not everyone is well-versed in the vocabulary of the culture war. That is, Blank and Freedman believe that a reasonable person might assume that an organization called the Sisters of Life performs abortions.

The councilman then asked whether a person might also think an organization called Planned Parenthood focuses its efforts on assisting women who choose parenthood. No, said Blank and Freedman, a reasonable person would not assume that an organization called Planned Parenthood is primarily concerned with parenthood.


A (long) Excerpt and a Link

I keep up with a half-dozen or so "real" bloggers. . .the kind that have readership outside of people they know in the flesh. Occasionally, there is a post I really want to share. This one is funny, but also thoughtful. And, just to make you click on the link. . .
I have a lot of experience being rescued from Kentucky mud, and I have to say, these cowboys are on the job. I’ve never had to wait long to scrounge up a rescue party, even the time I thought an advanced Kentucky ATV trail was really a road. Finding a man with chains is not that hard to do in the country. These guys are everywhere, kind of like the skinny guy in the Apple store with black square glasses that uses hair gel to make his blond hair messy and drinks Starbucks while listening to Jason Mraz in his earbuds. Pretty easy to find in Seattle.

[One of these guys if infinitely more useful than the other. But maybe I'm just saying that because my MacBook has never crashed--jinx, double jinx.]

. . .

I’m pretty sure that flat boredom inflected with occasional moments of crisis isn’t good for blood pressure. In my mind, I am cosmo—attending dinner parties in dresses with purple sequins and bare shoulders and then coming home to the unfortunate drama that the maid didn’t spritz my sheets AGAIN. Sigh.

The thing about that fantasy is that it is never all that. Underneath the glamour, you have to wear Spanx because you’ve born a half-dozen babies. In the real world, another woman, more beautiful than you (thanks to modern medicine), flirts with your husband at that party, and you stupidly bring a bottle of wine before you find out the hosts are really baptist.

Truthfully, we just walk through the mud together with the people we love in our lives, one foot after the other: divorces, addictions, crazies, and for some of us, one embarrassing segment on Jerry Springer. We’re all just broken people trying to do our best to hold it together, some of us just expending more effort to make it pretty.
Yes, I know that's a long excerpt. So now click on the link. You've already read half of it. . .might as well get the good parts I left there, too. Especially the last paragraph.


Quote of the Day

"People must repeatedly be reminded that societies do not disintegrate; families do."

Gladys Hunt, "Honey for a Child's Heart"


On Books

We had some wonderful fresh-raspberry scones this past weekend from my good friend Jen. We ate them for breakfast, and I laughingly admitted that I had fallen in love with scones before I ever knew what they were, let alone tried them. And Kevin instantly knew why. . .the Redwall books.

Though we didn't read them together, they (and so many others) are nonetheless part of our shared history.

As we are reading more and more with Carolyn, I'm continually amazed by how many connections she draws between daily life and some story we've read. Countless times in a day she perks up at the mention of some word, phrase, or name and races to find the book that contains some association to that idea. We're building our own shared history in books, even now.

I've been reading Honey for a Child's Heart, by Gladys Hunt, with its annotated book lists for children birth to 14 years and can scarcely wait to delve ever deeper into the literary world as Carolyn gets older. I rather liked this quote from chapter 3:
One day our high schooler was discussing the whirlwind of destruction left behind by a couple of children visiting us. He said, "I got to thinking about how I would teach my children not to pull up wild flowers by the roots and destroy things, and then I wondered how I had learned myself. I decided I learned from books to respect the world. In C.S. Lewis's books the animals and trees have personality; in pioneer stories Indians tried to walk through the forest without breaking a twig, and settlers respected the land; in Tolkien's books, the orcs are the bad guys who leave a path of careless destruction." He shrugged his shoulders as he concluded, "You put a whole childhood of reading together, and you don't have to take a conservation course."


Parenting Links

I found these thoughtful and encouraging:

A Spirited Rider, on helping little girls get a grip on emotional stability

Faith, Dads, and Children, on raising faithful kids



Yesterday, Carolyn woke up on the wrong side of the crib and was quite the fussy, clingy, needy girl for a couple hours. She spent a good bit of time with her arms wrapped tightly about my neck, head on my shoulder.

Now, of course I don't want my daughter to be fussy or sad or sick or hurt or otherwise unhappy. But, when she is, I can't help finding the abundance of lingering hugs very sweet indeed.

And it made me think. . .

Of course God doesn't want his children to be tried and tempted in various unpleasant manners. But, perhaps, he sees the abundance of our prayers during those times the way I see Carolyn's attachment to me.


Six Years

Six years ago today, Kevin and I woke up to realize that we had already missed our requested shuttle time to the airport. A quick call to the hotel desk and a scramble to get ready, and we arrived at the airport to hear our names being called for final boarding to our Hawaii honeymoon. We raced to our gate and, in front of the stares of the many on-time passengers, squeezed into the final two seats, several rows apart.

It was not, perhaps, the most auspicious start to Day 1 of our new life.

This weekend, we went camping. Kevin went in extra early on Friday so that he could come home early and we could get on the road a bit before rush hour. But I wasn't feeling great Friday morning, and I wasn't ready to leave by the afternoon. So we left at the peak of rush hour. We forgot the camera. And the child-carrier. Traffic was horrible. For only the third time in my life, I was car-sick and we had to pull over twice. . .once a little late. Half-way, after over an hour in what should have been a roughly one-hour drive, we realized we'd barely make it to our campground before dark and decided we should stop for dinner.

We arrived at dusk and found an empty site right in the middle of the row of 20 close-spaced tent sites. Carolyn was ecstatic to have (almost) free run of the surrounding area, and we set up camp without further incident. We didn't realize we'd left the camp pillows in the car until we were all settled in for the night, and Kevin didn't want to risk waking Carolyn (who slept like she was born for camping, thankfully) to get them. So Kevin didn't sleep well at all.

The next morning, Carolyn and I discovered the gnats were so plentiful that we took refuge in the car to eat our yogurt. We packed up camp amid swatting the nuisances away from our faces and picking them out of our eyes, not managing to leave the campground until after 10am.

There was an accident on a bridge as we neared our planned hiking destination, and traffic was at a standstill for quite some time. When we got there, we discovered they didn't allow picnic fires--and we were still carrying around the raw meat we had intended to grill the night before. So we drove back into the bridge traffic to a nearby campground to have lunch, only to be frustrated there as well. One more stop to get more ice for the cooler, and we returned to a cold lunch at Harper's Ferry.

Only, by the time we finished lunch, I was hot and exhausted. We opted to forego hiking altogether and mill about the tourist town for a bit. We left just as it started pouring rain. Not ready for setting up camp and cooking dinner in a downpour, we headed home, stopping at a state park to belatedly grill our camp dinner. We scrambled for the pavilion and started a fire just in time for a brief storm that damped--but didn't quench--our fire.

We grilled dinner in-between storms, while Carolyn covered herself in mud from head to toe. Another cold rain and strong wind kicked up before we could get her cleaned up, and we completed a half-hearted cleaning in the front seat of the car. Thankfully, the drive home was without further incident.

Life is sometimes like that, and it's good to have a traveling companion who helps you cope cheerfully. Among the many frustrations, there are always silver linings: Carolyn's joy at running free in the great outdoors, a beautiful country, time with my two favorite people, our first big mud puddle. I'd hate to be so wrapped up in misery that I miss those moments.

Someone asked recently if Kevin and I didn't bicker some over all the remodeling--or, rather, if I didn't get impatient wanting things done more quickly than he sometimes does them. In fact, we were warned at the beginning of this project that remodeling could take a toll on a marriage. I think I smiled before being enjoined to seriousness. As our friend said, Kevin is at work all day and comes home ready to unwind. It is easy for me, at home in the remodeling chaos, to welcome him home with a to-do list. But I have purposed to take the warning to heart and to remember, in all circumstances, that my husband is more important to me than any task or situation, be it a finished closet or an smoothly-orchestrated get-away.

If unexpected difficulties and delays are going to crop up (and, of course, they are), I am glad I get to face them at the side of this man. Kevin is the calm and steady anchor to my sometimes well-tossed raft, and I am so thankful for these six years of blessed marriage.


Progress 3

In case you don't know, these are what the current stairs look like--steep, narrow, ugly, rising to a spot with no head room to walk, and wasting a whole end of attic space.

The expanded hole in the ceiling:

Stringers, waiting to be mounted. . .

and mounted.

In order to make the new stairs less treacherous than the current ones, the upper part will cross into our bedroom ceiling a bit. I think this is a fair trade-off for the greatly-reduced likelihood of me breaking my neck AND the gaining of attic space for an extra bedroom. In the end, of course, it will be covered in drywall and such.



The plastic hallway from the front door to our bedroom, used to contain the dust as debris is carried out.

The new "hallway" where our back-to-back closets once were and where the new attic stairs will soon be.

The gaping hole in the former closets' ceilings, where the stairs will ascend and break the plane of the attic floor. This is exciting.


Happy Mother's Day

Now that the day is done, I thought I'd share pictures of the corsages I made for our moms this year. I think they are a clever and quite lovely alternative to real flowers.

If you're interested, here are the instructions.


Garden Update

Sunny days and warm temperatures have done wonders for my plants. These pictures are from earlier in the week, so there is even more growth now!


Morning Glories:


First Harvest!


A Day in the Life

. . .as currently dominated by my stomach.

I wake up. I'm hungry. Knowing that I will soon be sick if I do not eat, I have breakfast--hopefully in time to ward off hunger-nausea, depending on how much I have to do to get Kevin and Carolyn ready for the day. Except, eating only brings on just-eaten-nausea. Sometimes it subsides after a while. Sometimes it is only replaced by hunger-nausea around mid-morning.

A light snack will buy me a few minutes of comfort. Then I'm hungry for lunch, which I eat. . .bringing on more nausea. And so it continues. I'm either nauseous because I'm hungry or nauseous because I've eaten. Does that seem like a Catch-22 to you?

On the bright side, I'm sitting here listening to Carolyn sing sweetly to herself in her crib as she waits for sleep to overtake her. And each glorious minute is worth the entire day of this.


A Vast Improvement

My in-laws have devoted both Saturdays of their visit (as well as a good bit of in-between time) to beautifying our front yard. I'm quite pleased with the result.

It's dark and hard to see, but this is how the front looked when we moved in. . .and how it continued to look until this week. The front beds are established grass and weeds, and the yard (which you can't see at all) is all grass.

New and Improved:

The robins aren't complaining, as you can see. The small front beds are flowers, and my plan is to fill them with a succession of blooming perennials: daffodils, tiger lilies, Gerbera daisies, mums. For now I just have daisies, a few annuals for the summer, and some larkspur seed that I'm hoping will sprout. The back beds have strawberry plants and herbs, and I planted a row of green and wax beans along the back. Next year, I'm hoping to put up a trellis for beans to climb and long window boxes under the big windows for my herbs. Then the front of the beds can be (hopefully!) covered in strawberries!

And I'm back in the tomato game. . .hoping the pots will keep my awful soil fungi away!


Sleeping Bags

We went to REI last night and looked for new sleeping bags for Kevin and I to backpack with. I was highly entertained by the looks on the employees' faces when I explained we needed the option to include Carolyn either in my sleeping bag or with both of us in a double sleeping bag. . .and that I needed room to grow. Looking at her chart, the first one said (I could say asked, but it was obviously rhetorical) "Car camping." When I said "No, backpacking," her face was truly priceless. The second lady that helped us gave us options and looked up in near-horror when someone commented that I might need a new sleeping bag anyway by the time I no longer needed one big enough for me (pregnant or not) and a young child. "I hope not! They should last 8 or 10 to 12 years!" Because it's unthinkable that anyone could be either pregnant or having a young child for that many years in a row! It was pretty funny.

I will be quick to add a disclaimer, though. I like REI. I have never, ever been in the store without super-helpful and very kind employees. They know their stuff, and they're always glad to help. Things are expensive, to be sure, but they're quality. High quality. And it's a co-op. If you're a member, you get a small dividend on every dollar you spend there. And, though I may have read some shock in their initial reactions last night, both ladies were very helpful and even eventually joked about the space I might need if we were fortunate enough to wind up with twins! We ended up with individual sleeping bags that can zip together to make a double, and I have an optional wedge with mine that can add several inches to its total girth. I'm very, very happy with the variety of options and looking forward to trying them out this summer!


An Easter Post. . .

from someone else.

It's not as if I don't have thoughts to blog about here. It's just that I can't seem to find the time (or at least the synchronized time and motivation) to organize them coherently. I've started a half-dozen draft posts on various thoughts, but they just won't complete themselves. So, for now, some thoughts on Easter traditions.


Green M&Ms and Thanks-giving

We are indeed expecting a new bundle of joy, and I am intensely thankful for it. My dad says it's the green M&Ms you have to watch out for, so beware! (Shouldn't they put a warning on those?)

Baby should come some time around Thanksgiving, which seems appropriate. I hope to never take the miracle of a baby for granted. As a friend said recently, I want to treat each pregnancy, each baby, as if it were going to be my one and only and appreciate it completely. When one day the realization comes that one really was the last one, I want to have no regrets.

My thoughts repeatedly turn to the women who cannot bear a child and to the children whose parents are absent, and my heart aches for them. It is strange to be so joyful and so aware of grief at the same time. We cannot fully know why God blesses us in different ways or why He allows us to suffer deeply, and the only way I know to respect grief in the midst of joy is to respond with a grateful heart for the blessings I have and to teach my children to do the same.

I cannot begin to understand the ways of God. His thoughts are beyond searching out. Yet this I know: God is good, and He gives good gifts for His glory and our good. Whatever our current blessings are, let's appreciate them to the fullest and give our Lord the glory.


A Lesson for Two in Obedience and Forgiveness

Carolyn was not happy that I went downstairs to put a load of laundry in the washer, but I went anyway. Sometimes she fusses the whole time I'm downstairs, sometimes she and I call back and forth to each other playfully, sometimes she amuses herself. This time she must have been feeling a bit vindictive.

It happens occasionally. Kevin or I remind Carolyn that she is not allowed to do something she is about to do, and she responds by immediately going through a series of prohibited activities. But if no one is here to hinder the series, she really only needs one. And the trash can, in front of the basement door, presented itself all too readily.

Unfortunately, the "clean" trash in the top of the can was covered in mostly-dry coffee grounds. So when I returned from my trip below, I found a toddler, a floor, and sundry garbage articles covered in black dust.

Before her name had even completely escaped, I remembered. "If you allow unholy anger to muddy the correction process, you are wrong. You need to ask forgiveness. Your right to discipline your children is tied to what God has called you to do, not your own agenda."* In order to discipline, I could not be angry. I had to be calm. By grace, God caught me just in time. I dusted Carolyn off and calmly took her to her bedroom.

Our discipline procedure ends with prayer for forgiveness, and we hold hands for that. Today, although Carolyn signed "I'm sorry" to me readily, she refused to hold my hands. I could have forced her, of course, but it seems that forcing the prayer that is supposed to close the issue leaves an unrepentant attitude woefully unaddressed. She hugged me over and over, but refused to pray with me. So I kept her on my lap until she was ready. I told her about God's love, about Christ's sacrifice, about sin and repentance and forgiveness. Before long, she reached for both my hands and waited. I prayed, and she cheerfully got down.

I then went to clean up the mess. Carolyn followed me. She would have helped if I had let her, but I didn't want her messy again. So she stood watching and saying, "no, no" over and over. I agreed and reminded her the trashcan was off-limits, thinking that would be the end of it. But she just stood there, "no, no" again and again until I said, "You're right, we don't play in the trash. But you said you were sorry and we prayed and you're forgiven, so we can start over." She gave an emphatic "yeah" and ran off to play, leaving me sweeping coffee grounds.

You could argue that I make too much of these things. Carolyn isn't quite 18 months, after all. But I know she understands so much more than she can say right now. Her physical responses, her expressions, her tone of voice--they are all right for the situation. I know her comprehension is limited. So is mine. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known."** She may not comprehend the finer doctrinal points of her sin and guilt, but she is learning the necessary response. And I am enormously, unspeakably grateful for her baby steps. . .and mine.

*Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp, chapter 4. He goes on later to quote James 1:19-20, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." and comment "If you correct and discipline your children because God mandates it, then you need not clutter up the task with your anger. Correction is not your showing anger for their offenses; it is rather reminding them that their sinful behavior offends God. It is bringing His censure of sin to these subjects of His realm. He is the King. They must obey." and "If correction orbits around the parent who has been offended, then the focus will be venting anger or, perhaps, taking vengeance. The function is punitive. If, however, correction orbits around God as the one offended, then the focus is restoration. The function is remedial. It is designed to move a child who has disobeyed God back to the path of obedience. It is corrective."

**1 Corinthians 13:12



I can't completely relate to this yet (she has 4 kids to my single), but I get the feeling, and it made me laugh.


The Icicle of Icicles

It's hard to tell from a picture, but it looked as big around as I am, and those windows it's out-reaching are six feet long, not counting the space between the top of the window and the roof.

On Parental Authority

I've been reading Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp, and I thought I would share this quote.
As a parent, you have authority because God calls you to be an authority in your child's life. You have the authority to act on behalf of God. As a father or mother, you do not exercise rule over your jurisdiction, but over God's. You act at His command. You discharge a duty that He has given. You may not try to shape the lives of your children as pleases you, but as pleases Him.


Another Thing to Tuck Away

A post for mothers here.
The most awfully beautiful part of homeschooling is that I miss nothing. Day in and day out, I miss nothing. Perhaps that makes it all the more bittersweet to send a beloved child off on an adventure of their own? I don't know. But for me, the closeness begets a sense of comfort and joy that I hold on to, knowing that it's season is all too soon coming to an end.

I have made no mention of any of this to Jo. I think that sometimes the worst sin we can commit as mothers is to clip the wings of joy as they sprout in our children by saddling them with a bit of our own longing. Instead of holding her closer and whispering, "Come back to me safely. Don't be gone long," I smile at her as we stand side by side at the kitchen sink and say, "What an amazing adventure God has planned for you! I can feel it!" Instead of biting my lip and telling her how very empty my days will feel without her smile in the sea of faces around me, I kiss her forehead and let her know how delighted her father is to have her as a traveling companion.


Snow Totals

Now that the snow has almost ended, the reports are coming in. For us, it looks like roughly 20 inches in the past 30 hours--add that to our roughly 27 from the weekend, and we're looking at snow 4 feet deep!


Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow

If you didn't sing that title in your head, I'm sorry.

24.5", still snowing, and supposed to continue until almost midnight!


Baking with Carrots

By request, here are 2 of the recipes I used last weekend. I think that either of these could be made with half wheat flour (or with all wheat pastry flour), but I have not tried it yet. Also, for the buns, I think I would leave out the orange peel in the future. It's good for a BBQ sandwich, but might be a little strange in some things.

Carrot Muffins (from the King Arthur Flour company)

2 1/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 t ginger
3/4 t salt
1/3 c golden raisins
1/3 c diced walnuts
2 lg. eggs
3/4 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 c grated carrots, lightly packed

Whisk together all dry ingredients, including raisins and walnuts. Whisk together wet ingredients. Stir together. Fold in carrots. Bake in greased muffin cups for 20 minutes at 400. Cool in pan 5 min.

Cheese & Carrot Sandwich Buns (from Pillsbury)

1 c water
1 c milk
2 pkg active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 t.)
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 c finely shredded carrots
1/4 c Crisco
4 oz. shredded Cheddar (1 c)
1 t grated orange peel
1 egg
5 1/2-6 1/2 c flour

Heat water and milk to 100-110 degrees. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 t. of the sugar in warm liquid. Stir in remaining sugar, salt, carrots, shortening, cheese, orange peel, and egg; mix well. Add 3 c flour. Blend on low until moistened, then beat 3 minutes on medium. By hand, stir in 2 to 2 1/2 c flour until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl. Knead in remaining flour until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (will be soft and slightly sticky). Place dough in greased bowl; cover loosely. Let rise in warm place until doubled, 45-60 min.

Punch down dough several times. Divide into 18 pieces. Shape into balls, then flatten slightly on greased cookie sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake 13-18 minutes at 375, until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets immediately.


Faucets and Fish

Our kitchen faucet sprang a spray-leak in the neck quite some time ago. As there are quite a few things to be done around here and it was not a priority, we (of course) duct-taped it. When my sprayer quit working reliably, however, I drew the line. Not certain what we wanted in the way of a new kitchen faucet for our years-down-the-road remodeled cooking area, we decided just to get an inexpensive, decent faucet. We selected a nice Delta chrome thing--nothing fancy, but quite serviceable. Imagine my glee when, walking past the Clearance Endcap (where I've dutifully checked for a lovable faucet for months), I found The Faucet! For the same price as the Delta chrome thing! And also from a trustworthy brand!

Kevin and Jim kindly installed it yesterday, and I'm in dish-washing bliss. Or at least as near to that as exists.

In other exciting news, Carolyn received an aquarium from her grandparents for Christmas, and we bought fish for it. Little did we know our gold Balloon Molly (who declined to be photographed) was a soon-to-be mommy.

Currently, we have 8 living--painstakingly rescued in our make-shift nursery until we make it back to the pet store. The all-knowing Internet says mollies give birth in numbers ranging from 12 to 100. I've seen a half-dozen dead already, so hopefully we're done. We really can't keep all these fish, anyway. Anybody want a molly?

The pictures aren't stellar, but. . .well, it's difficult to capture tiny moving fish through glass and water.


The Great Lunch Stand-Off

Carolyn and I are having the occasional mini-skirmish now. Today's lasted longer than any yet. It all started--and ended--with lunch.

My daughter generally communicates quite clearly what she does and does not want. Today, as usual around noon, I asked, "Do you want lunch?" A "yes" and a nod later, we were off to the kitchen. I got out frozen chicken-carrots-and-rice, confirmed that she was indeed ready to eat, and heated it for her. I knew we were in trouble when she started whimpering as I spooned it into her bowl.

Three and a half hours later, she ate it. Cold. Hungrily. Happily. With many interruptions for affectionate hugs. This is how it all went down.

With her hot food in hand, I sat Carolyn in her chair, strapping and bibbing her amid protests and whines. She never took a bite, though I offered and encouraged in several ways. She continued whimpering, refusing her drink as well, and ultimately signing that she wanted to get up. I explained that she either needed to eat lunch or go ahead and take a nap. She still wanted up. So, she took a nap. I laid her in her crib, patted her back briefly, and left the room, expecting screams to erupt. But she went to sleep without a sound.

Too hastily assuming we'd leaped the hurdle, I ate my own lunch and waited for her to wake up. She did, an hour later, and asked to nurse. Since she normally nurses before her nap--and since she said "no" to lunch--I nursed her. A little while later, I asked, and she said "yes," she wanted lunch. We went to the kitchen, affirmed that she wanted lunch, that she wanted what was in her bowl, that she wanted it in the microwave.

So when she started whimpering again upon taking it out of the microwave, I wasn't feeling sympathetic. We repeated this once more later on, with a good deal of interim playing, fussing, and asking vainly to nurse. I lost count of how many times I gently explained that she could choose to eat lunch, to play happily, or to fuss by herself in her room.

When she finally said "yes" to lunch again, I quickly started feeding her, not waiting to warm it up and have her change her mind again. And she devoured all but 3 bites. . .which she came back to ask for later. And hugged me again and again and again, so sweetly. She seemed to really know that she'd been wrong and needed to seek forgiveness, as we practice when she is disciplined.

That would be a win in itself. But it's even better, because, by God's grace, I didn't get angry. I was frustrated, absolutely. I doubted whether I was making the right call. I even called Kevin at work. But I kept it all inside, calmly and cheerfully and sympathetically giving Carolyn her options again and again and again.

It may seem a small victory. It may even be a small victory. But I am not perfect, and small frustrations do get to me. I am constantly, painfully aware that how I respond now--and how I allow Carolyn to respond now--sets the stage for our interaction next year. . .and in two years, three years, five years, ten and fifteen years. If I can't respond lovingly and biblically when my toddler doesn't want to eat lunch, how will I ever respond well to the challenges of childhood and adolescence? And so, small step though it is, it bears hope--hope that I may guide my daughter well, hope that my teachable 16-month-old will one day be a still-teachable 16-year-old.

I hear the detractors even now: we haven't even hit the "terrible twos" yet. Teenage strife is inevitable. I'm young and naive.

And I close my ears. I don't believe in terrible twos or inevitable teenage angst. I know two-year-olds who obey their parents, and I know teenagers who act like the young men and women they should be, rather than the overgrown children our culture expects. And, best of all, I know the grace of an Almighty God that encourages my heart in these first little parenting trials.

For, though I may laugh at The Great Lunch Stand-Off of 2010 now that it's over, my little girl's pitiful "no-o-o, no-o-o" whimpers and pleading signs for milk, "p-eeease" were hard to refuse. And I was more than happy to fix her favorite meal for dinner tonight.