Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy 30th Katie Ferguson

We enjoyed a fun party with Katie Ferguson and the old gang (well - whoever could make it!) at one of her friends' house in West Des Moines. Joanna Dobson and Jenny (Jorgensen) Hoksbergen were there, as well as Mike, Erica, and Wade ... we hoped to see Liz but she wasn't going to get there until much later. A little guy needed to go to bed!

It's been a full week. We had a great dinner at Pete and De Elta's house in Adair with that side of Ryan's family. Stephen got quite a few gifts, his favorites being anything he could put in his mouth. Ryan's favorite gift of Stephen's was the Noah's Ark stuffed toy - with a finger puppet for each of his 10 fingers!

After that celebration we headed to Bernard and Evelyn's to stay with them for a couple nights. Stephen really enjoyed his great-grandma and great-grandpa. And we realize we are so blessed to have them here to get to know him! We went into Adair to see the Fay Pharmacy and ordered dinner from the Redwood Restaurant in Anita.

Thursday we headed back to Des Moines and ended up back at the Leathermans after a few of our other plans fell through for one reason or another. It was a good thing, as Stephen proceeded to take his first-ever 2.5 hour nap! We then got to see a even-more-grown-up Ian Hagenberg, who showed Stephen his new toys. At the Blochers' we enjoyed Max, too.

Today I indulged in one of my favorites - a bagel with cream cheese and coffee - with Rachel Goranson. Then Stephen and I spent the afternoon with Laurie and we ate some kale. I'm sure everyone is wondering - why? - so I'll answer. Kale tastes really really good when sauteed with garlic. Here is how I prepare it. Wash the kale, cutting off the hard ends. Then chop into bite-sized pieces, though it doesn't need to be cut quite as small as lettuce would be for a salad. Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the kale until it's tender. I usually do it 10-15 minutes. Then drain and saute in canola oil with garlic for a few minutes. It is so tasty.

We were talking tonight that we've really seen changes in Stephen even since we have been here. His ability to grab whatever he sees has improved greatly and he seems to recognize people better than before. He is sitting up very well, especially with somethin interesting to look at in front of him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

we're not shopping today

We've had a few days of get-togethers with family, and a few embarrassing moments for me and Stephen - though he doesn't really care! We were in Knoxville on Sunday with Dan and Shiela and the rest of the Fay clan. Anna and Claire really enjoyed Stephen and even put on a dancing show for him. In the morning we caught up with some friends in Mitchellville at the Wyatt's home. Then yesterday we had a turkey dinner with grandma and grandpa Fay, Dave, Susan, John, and Carolyn. Joanna came over later with Katharine and Joshua. We deduced that
Stephen really likes light blondes. He likes Auntie Em; he got pretty excited about Amy Lindstrom; and then he giggled heartily at Katharine's greetings.

The picture with the little girl is from Saturday when we got together with my symphony friend Seaeun and her daughter who is 3 weeks older than Stephen. She is just as tall but much skinnier.

Last night the toilet overflowed after I used it and it turned into a pretty big mess. We are still waiting for the sewage service to get here ... oops! Then Stephen had a pretty big poop this morning - and he did it WHILE I was changing him. It did make a mess, but I'm sure it could have been worse.

We're getting ready to leave for the Fays in Anita for a few days.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Say Cheese!

Anyone who has tried to photograph a 6-month-old in a professional studio will know what a lot of work it is! We made sure he had napped and eaten and was recently changed, but he still got worn out pretty quickly. Of course he didn't understand why there were strange lights; why mommy couldn't just hold him or feed him; why a strange man (the photographer) was trying to make him laugh. He really did very well and we were impressed with how the photographer was able to capture some smiles. We weren't able to get a family picture because John had to work. I guess we'll take some snapshots during the Christmas celebrations.

Yesterday on our way out to Des Moines we were able to stop by Laura Wells's house and say hello to her, her mom, and Hadley and Kassy. They were enthralled with watching Stephen eat.

Today Ryan has an appointment with a specialist (who Aunt Carolyn works for) to look at his hand to see what might be the problem with it. Stephen and I have chiropractor (or pirocracker as we call him) appointments. I'm planning to stop by Perfection Learning to turn in my book and say hello. We're looking forward to dinner in our old neighborhood.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

oh my!

Have you ever had two friends who you knew separately begin to date each other? I just found out about a couple like that!

We had a great weekend with Aunt Emily visiting. We started out having Matt, Annie, Israel, and Enoch Wells over on Friday for dinner. See photo of Stephen with the two boys. We enjoyed a meal together and then some time talking about some Scriptures, singing, and praying together.

We got to hang out with both Heidi and Emily, and Em's friend Bridget came for Saturday to do some shopping. I have been madly working on a book for Perfection Learning. It needs to be done before we leave for Des Moines on Wednesday.

Ryan and I got to go out last night, and Em and Bridget hung out with Stephen. We enjoyed dinner at Silver Creek and then post-dinner at Dos Reales.

Ryan has been practicing a little every day, and today has had some stagecrew work at school.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Happy Birthdays

Happy birthday to Great-Aunt Care and Great-Grandpa Leatherman!

Stephen and I are back from Plainfield where we were for the weekend, playing in the Christmas program at Harvest Baptist--though we didn't make it back without incident. Just as we were passing through Dwight the battery light in Heidi's car went on, then the temperature gauge showed that the car was overheating. We did make it back to a bp station with a car garage so the good news is that it didn't have to be towed. The bad news was that the station was closing in 10 minutes and mom and dad wouldn't make it to town for an hour! So we bundled the boy up in the snowsuit which I had just "happened" to bring, and walked down the street to the Casey's, which was open until 11. (See photo - Stephen loved it because he wasn't in his carseat!) My mom and dad got there and gave us a car and we got back to Champaign about 11:30.

But overall the weekend was great! Stephen and grandpa bonded three nights in a row. Thanks to his hook-on high chair he sat with us at the dinner table. He even braved the bridal shops with all the women looking for a wedding dress for Emily. He got to meet many of our friends at Naperville Presbyterian. We missed Ryan but he was down here getting ready for finals and worked hard on that all weekend. For those of you who know what I'm talking about - the extra pumping to make sure I had enough supply for him while we were performing has caused me to be engorged. Talk about uncomfortable as Stephen slept through the night last night!!!!!!

Ryan is done tomorrow after his French final. His saxophone jury is today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To school we went

This morning we joined Ryan for his French class at 9 a.m. I made beignets. They were very tasty and left the kitchen a mess . . . but it was fun to see where he has been going every school morning (except for Wednesdays).

Stephen has had a cold but it hasn't seemed to affect his mood very much (except for when we use the nasal aspirator). I think it's on the way out. He wasn't as stuffy today.

Tomorrow we'll head up to my parents' for the weekend where Heidi and I will play for Rollie's church's Christmas program. The music is interesting - The Messiah and then a John Rutter piece, "The Reluctant Dragon."

Last Saturday I hosted Heidi's "unshower" and got to meet several of her friends who live in town but I didn't yet know. We had a great time teasing her and we played a video that Ryan and I had taken of Anthony while we were in Germany. We hung broccoli from the doorways instead of mistletoe - perfect for Heidi!

Tuesday was St. Nicholas Day and (magically) there appeared some ornaments for us. For Stephen it was a "Stephen's first Christmas" and then Ryan and I got an Illini one.

Ryan has been riding a scooter at school. I remember when Tom got it originally and used to ride it around Drake. When he walked in the house with it yesterday I thought it was a cane!

He also hurt his thumb Tuesday playing basketball. He still has been playing - doesn't really have a choice - but he has had quite the semester with injuring necessary body parts for saxophone-playing!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Paris Trip and More

We wanted to post a bit about our trip to Paris and share with you some of the highlights. The weather wasn't what we would have picked, especially as it rained lightly the entire second day. But overall the Parisians were extremely friendly people and really enjoyed Stephen - tho we didn't know everything they were saying about him!

We got in on Tuesday to navigate through a maze of escalators, then a bus, then a train, then the subway, then a descent to the street level of a very large station. Though our hotel was only a block away, we walked much farther since we didn't know which side of the station we needed to exit.

That first night we went on a cold walk and ended up eating at a small Italian restaurant - salmon pizza. On the way back we walked along the Seine River.

I got up Wednesday morning to go to the grocery store and managed to get most of what we needed to eat. The wine was so unbelieveably cheap! Ryan got a bottle of merlot for 1.29Euros, which is less than 2 dollars. At a coffee shop, I tried to order a cup of regular coffee from someone who spoke no English. I soon realized that he only served espresso, and because I didn't want to be rude I let him serve me a cafe americano (espresso with hot water).

We took a bus to the Eiffel tower. It was the longer way to get there but I wanted to see the city and you can't really do that from the subway. Much of the drive was along the river but we also went through some neighborhoods and shopping districts.

We got off the bus across the river from the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed the view as we walked across. The line looked long but only took about half an hour - and Stephen slept the whole time in the baby carrier. To get up to the top, you have to take an elevator to the 2nd level and then another one to the very top. We were bumped to the front of the 2nd line when the workers saw that we had a little baby. The view from the top enabled us to see many of the city's sites, though a cloudy sky kept us from seeing any further than that.

We set out to take a bus to the Champs-Elysees, but ended up walking the whole way there (Stephen was still asleep). Once there we tried to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe but there was an entrance fee and it was raining, didn't seem worth it. I was sooooo tired from carrying Stephen all day (he is 20 lb now!) so my wonderful husband put on the baby carrier (brown side out :)) and carried him from this point on. We took the subway back to the hotel and Ryan practiced the saxophone at the hotel.

On Thursday morning, we got up and took a subway ride to Sacre Coeur. It was a long walk up a steep hill in the rain with a broken umbrella. But the cathedral was pretty spectacular. Then we spent the rest of our day in the Montmartre neighborhood. Ryan found a store that sold a wide variety of saxophone sheet music. We enjoyed some crepes in a local cafe. I hid out in a hotel's ground floor so Stephen could nap in peace and quiet while Ryan did some digging through sheet music.

We decided to go to the area around Notre Dame, and after a quick walk through the cathedral found a restaurant where we ate our Thanksgiving dinner (coincidentally next to another American family). Neither of us ate turkey.

After dinner we hopped on the subway to see the Eiffel Tower light up (which it does every hour for 10 minutes). Stephen did seem to really like it! I'll see if we can put up a YouTube video sometime.

Then it was an early morning getting back to the airport and finding our gate. After getting back to Frankfurt we enjoyed a lovely drive to Bonn where we got to spend some more time with family and see Heather's new apartment. It's a nice place for the two of them, just a few blocks away from the Rhine River.

We had to come back on Saturday. Finding our terminal at the Frankfurt airport proved to be a chore, and even more challenging was navigating the many escalators with 9 people and 3 luggage carts! I'm surprised the airport allows the carts on the escalators - we had several close calls ourselves.

It's been 3 days now and I think Stephen is finally back to this time zone's sleeping schedule. I'm afraid I'm coming down with a slight cold but I've been taking ZiCam and drinking lots of water. So far it doesn't have me down.

Today is Stephen's 5-month birthday and I put him in a dog costume for this picture. I intended for him to wear it when he was old enough to know what a dog is, but since he has grown so quickly I put him in it already. He measures 29 inches and weighs exactly 20 pounds. I put a bunch of 6- and 9-month clothes away today.

I just found out yesterday that a girl from Des Moines that I knew died on Sunday following a car crash. She was only 16 years old. It is a sobering reminder about the fleeting nature of our life here on earth. And I feel for her family and close friends and the loss they are experiencing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Time Change

Stephen and I have been up since 3:45. But it's good to be back home!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

3 Rue Parrot

We are finishing up our stay in Paris. We'll fly back to Germany tomorrow to see Heather and Marc-Andre once more before we go back to Illinois.

We've had a good trip and Stephen has been remarkably cooperative. We have had to adapt our visit for him - for example, today we figured he wanted to wiggle around on the floor. But we were in Montmartre and it was RAINY so we couldn't do it outside. So we found a bookstore that wasn't crowded and laid him down on one of our jackets. He loved it - being able to babble and kick for a few minutes.

We'll fill you in on more of our trip, complete with pictures, once we get back.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American friends. Tonight for dinner I had chicken and Ryan had beef. The turkeys thank us ...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hi from Deutschland

Hello, we're in Germany for Heather's (Lisa's sister) wedding. That was yesterday, and we all had a great time.......and yes, they got married. She and Marc-Andre are in Luxembourg for their honeymoon. As for us, we're heading to Hildesheim tomorrow, and then to Paris on Tuesday. Should be a good time! Stephen is well, he is good at making friends with Germans, too. Here he is with the bride, though we're not trying to encourage him to get married anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And the Winner Is ...

... Foster Drost! The contest being the person who traveled the farthest to have mac and cheese with Ryan and Lisa.

We enjoyed having André, Foster, and Rede with us for the night. Now Stephen and I are getting ready to go up to my parents' with Heidi to leave for Germany later today. I really hope Stephen's sleeping schedule isn't too hard to adapt to Europe!

I asked Foster at one point to sit next to Stephen. He refused, saying that he thought Stephen would vomit on his bears. I guess spitup and vomit are one and the same to a 3-year-old. It's understandable. He still has a fascination with trains, and played with them on our living room floor.

We'll post once or twice from Europe.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Good Visit

We had a great time with Carolyn and Susan for a few days. We shopped, read books, ate, went to Stephen's 4-month checkup (he is just fine!), and Ryan and I even got to go out one night by ourselves!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Great-Aunt Carolyn Is Coming!

We are abuzz with visitors, and it's been a lot of fun! This weekend we had Ryan's family here (see Uncle John with Stephen watching football). My parents also came down for the evening with Emily and grandma, and we all prayed for Stephen together. We enjoyed a nice Italian meal at Dom's in Champaign. My dad and grandma both got to feed him a bottle while we were there.

Yesterday morning the boys went over to campus and threw a baseball around. Susan stayed back to keep me company.

Today Ryan has been at school all day. Susan and I got some errands done this afternoon. Be watching your mailbox - we are sending out a letter with our new information which doubles as a birth announcement.

Friday, November 03, 2006


It seemed a little chilly for one of his hooded sweatshirts, and a friend gave us this as a hand-me-down. He seemed to like wearing it!

We're looking forward to Ryan's parents rolling in tomorrow around noon and then my parents later in the afternoon.

I had a nice long coffee date with a friend who also just moved here and has a baby. She had her baby after she moved here, but we have a lot in common with being new in town. Nathan (her son) is only 9 lb so Stephen seemed huge!

Ryan said the concert at Northwestern was phenomenal. I'm glad, especially since he spent most of the day driving there and back.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Book #2 Is Done

I shipped the 2nd math book I've done back to Perfection Learning today. It felt good to be done. I really do enjoy doing them, but it's so hard to squeeze that 2 hours a day into the schedule. Stephen either needs something or it's time to make dinner, or go to a meeting ... I'm sure I'll do more but not until after we get back from Germany.

Stephen was "dressed up" as a baseball player today. It was actually just a sleeper, but it was a good answer to what he was for Halloween. We didn't pass out candy. I think it was a combination of the fact that for the past two years I have been ready for trick-or-treaters but then none showed up, I wouldn't be able to predict what Stephen would be needing when the doorbell rang, and the lack of children in our neighborhood.

So with this book done I have lined up a pretty full social calendar for this week. And then Dave, Susan, and John come for the weekend. Plenty to keep us busy. Ryan is planning a trip to Chicago on Thursday to see a sax concert and get some work done on his horn.

Here's the latest video:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Beautiful Day for a Break and a Walk

This morning I set out for a coffee shop to read and think. Ryan was so sweet to take care of Stephen for a few hours so I could get out of the house. It was refreshing. I also did some grocery shopping while I was out.

Stephen has been doing so well. Many of you know that a few months back I had to cut dairy out of my diet, and I had had to COMPLETELY get it out of my system, avoiding even margarines and breads with the slightest amount of whey or casein. Often babies outgrow their allergies, so I decided to see if 4 months old was old enough to handle it. I had some yogurt on Friday and he seemed to be able to handle it just fine. He wasn't fussy and in pain yesterday. Now on to cheese and milk to see how he does ... it would be very nice for the Germany trip to be able to eat more!

I've realized a few things about Des Moines that I didn't know were so great - until I don't have them any more! Don't get me wrong - this is a great place to live, but I'm compiling a list of the little things that were nice to have there ...
1. I-235; even though Champaign isn't very big, it takes just as long to get everywhere since there are a number of stoplights any direction you go.
2. Graziano Bros. Italian Sausage; I didn't even eat it very much but there doesn't seem to be an equivalent here. Just the mass-marketed national brands.
3. On-sale lunch meat; We usually ate whatever Hy-Vee had on sale that particular week. Here it seems I just pay full price all the time for all the lunch meats.
4. A gubernatorial candidate that I actually want to vote for!

I'll be back with a list of things that have been nice discoveries here that would also be nice in Des Moines ...

You can see a full selection of recent photos at Password 062806.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

It reminds me a little of one of my favorite books as a child: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But it is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a book that anyone who has read extensively to babies in the recent years would be familiar with! And Stephen does like it! I can't tell if it's the rhythmic talking or the colorful pages but he seems to follow along pretty intently. Here he is pictured with another of his favorite books. It's a bunch of baby words. So far he doesn't really chew on the books because he isn't really holding onto things and putting them in his mouth yet.

I've begun reading another book—Peace Child. Heather lent it to me and said it was pretty similar to Bruchko. So far I am just finding out about this cannibalistic culture in Papua New Guinea. Such a different life than anything we have experienced here in the Western World!

I have heard from Heather and she is doing well in Germany. Heidi will soon be en route to visit Anthony on the East Coast. Emily's wedding plans are still in the works for July 14 and she is busy reserving locations. Mom and dad are taking grandma to Florida for the weekend.

Stephen is now on YouTube with a hello to grandmas and grandpas. I decided to see if we could upload the movies we take with our camera and it worked without any problems!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Much Ado About Something

In a nutshell, Emily got engaged and Heather left for Europe! Stephen and I headed up to Plainfield with Heidi, while Ryan stayed back for a rehearsal and performance on campus.

We all knew the question was going to be popped at some point on Friday night. Spencer took Emily out for dinner and then on a horse-drawn carriage ride, and asked her partway through that. Of course Emily was VERY excited ... see her blog for more pictures.

We enjoyed Sandi's company on Friday evening for dinner and playing with the baby. He was pretty good for everyone, though Emily got the biggest smiles and giggles!

Saturday was bittersweet as we saw Heather and Marc-André off to the airport to go to Germany. They are excited - their wedding is less than a month away - but now Heather has moved out of the Midwest.

We headed over to grandma's (great-grandma to Stephen) and planted a redbud tree in her backyard. It was a special tree, since we put Stephen's placenta in the hole below the tree. It's an excellent fertilizer!

Today we have had a nice and relaxing day at home. After watching the Tigers lose last night we were excited that they came back to win tonight. Heidi was over for dinner and Ryan had rehearsal and quartet coaching tonight.

Pictures: Stephen doing his favorite: AIRPLANE! Me with Heather and Marc-André. Next to the redbud tree with Emily and fiancé Spencer, grandma, and great-grandma. My cousin Jonathan holding Stephen - who does look a little nervous!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What We Do When Ryan Isn't Home

This morning Stephen and I got up and went to the La Leche League meeting. Lots of women there as well as their kids. Stephen gets a little overwhelmed; we spent some of the time in an adjoining room--just the two of us. I really enjoy the conversations, though. Some share struggles with breastfeeding and others encourage them. And then there is plenty of time for just chatting about what we've all been up to.

Ryan had several rehearsals tonight and Stephen and I bummed around the house. He is enjoying pretty much any interaction we have with him - as long as he isn't tired. I even did "airplane" and he was thrilled! He is holding on to objects for a little while, sometimes pulling them to his mouth.

Yesterday morning we went to a baby group at the library. He was the youngest kid there. Most of the others could at least crawl. The leader sings songs and reads stories. Stephen actually really enjoyed it. He just looked around the room at all the things going on. We did a song (I'm not making this up!!): "Mommy, daddy, and Uncle John went into town. Mommy fell over (lean to the right). Daddy fell over (lean to the left). But Uncle John went on and on and on and on and on (bounce baby)."

Tonight Stephen was staring at a picture of Kassy Wells. We think it's his first crush. Those Leatherman boys and their older women ...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sitting around watching TV

We've discovered while watching the baseball playoffs (go Tigers!) that Stephen really likes watching TV. Yesterday we put him in his special seat and he can hold his head up well enough for it. This photo was taken while he was watching Baby Beethoven. Those Baby Einstein people sure seem to know what babies like! He loves the music box CDs as well, and the mobile. He also chews on his hands a LOT!!

This morning I went to a church service with Heidi and then did a bit of grocery shopping (by myself!). Yesterday Ryan had a gig in Danville, and I'm getting started on the 2nd math book for Perfection Learning. Heidi had us over for lunch so I could meet a friend of hers who is having a baby next year. Heidi made some great pumpkin cookies!

Tonight I made a soup with turnips and kale; we enjoyed it (Heidi was over, too). Someone had passed along the recipe and I was eager to try it. I'm trying to venture into eating some veggies that I haven't done much with before. Although we won't be eating many mustard greens :).

Less than a week until Heather flies over to Germany. I'm glad we'll be heading up to Plainfield next weekend to be there with her. Ryan can't go, however; he has a gig on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm Not Waking the Sleeping Baby

He's sleeping very well right now and I'm excited! We actually had a day this week that he did not cry once until the evening.

We have had a very good week. Ryan's arm and hand are feeling better. Some of that is due to stretching and a sports cream he is putting on. The professor suggested that he not play really technical pieces for the time being to make sure he doesn't put too much strain on it.

We ate a meal at the mosque on Monday night. I guess I should have known this beforehand, but I didn't realize till we got there that I'd eat with the women and Ryan would eat with the men. The food was very good and I enjoyed having a few conversations with people around us. Then last night I went to a dinner for women only at someone's house. Stephen was a hit - though he didn't like being passed around and all the commotion very well.

We watched the Tigers beat the A's. Yes, Stephen was wearing his shirt. He's not wearing it today (that would be gross) so we'll see how they do.

I turned in the first book that I worked on for Perfection Learning. It was a good feeling and I'm thankful to have a couple days off. I was working every spare second that I had to get it done (which was still only a few hours every day).

Annie and I had a good talk today when we met to discuss the book Love and Respect. Although I find the book to be somewhat cheesy, I can't argue with the principles that the author is laying out for healthy marriage relationships. What really strikes me is that he has testimony after testimony of people whose lives have been transformed by the concept he outlines.

Heidi is coming over for dinner tonight. Even though she lives in town we haven't seen her for a week. I guess that's what happens when spending time with her fiancé is a priority ... which it should be :).

I'm heading to Bloomington-Normal tomorrow for lunch with our longtime friend, Evelyn Blane. She hasn't met the boy yet.

Friday, October 06, 2006

He did it again!

Stephen wears a Tigers shirt.

Tigers win!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Ha. No, I'm not pregnant expecting twins ... at least I don't think so ...

Heidi and Heather are over tonight and watched Stephen so I could go to The Iron Post to watch Ryan's band perform. It was nice to go and see him. Not too long ago I would do that at least once a week!

We have really enjoyed having Heather here for a few days. She went to hear Heidi's presentation this afternoon, and she's been getting plenty of Stephen time in before she heads to Germany later this month.

I finished reading another book, Bruchko. It was a fascinating story of how Bruce Olson (the author) felt that God wanted him to go to the South American Indians and take Jesus to them. Only he didn't try to change their culture; he let their traditions stand. He was persecuted from many sides - from the other missionaries, from the Indians who thought he was a spy - but the fruit that has been borne from his obedience to God is simply amazing!

Ryan's hand and wrist is feeling better but not entirely back to normal. He also had to get something fixed on his saxophone and the repair guy messed up his mouthpiece when he did it ... so it hasn't been the best week for him as far as his instrument is concerned.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Grace Matters

Hi everyone. Here's a photo from this weekend, when grandma and grandpa Lorimor came for a visit. They took Stephen in the stroller for about an hour, did some odd jobs for both me and Heidi, and had a wonderful lunch (steak n shake) and dinner (Chinese!).

Ryan has had a rough day, as his thumb started bothering him and he really needs it to be able to play the saxophone! He took some ibuprofen and is hoping the swelling goes down. I hope this doesn't become a recurrent problem.

I just finished reading an excellent book, Grace Matters, written by Chris Rice. It is a memoir concerning the ministry that he and Spencer Perkins had regarding racial reconciliation. Together they have written a book, More Than Equals, which I have not read. The topic was of interest to me largely because of the neighborhood in which we lived in Des Moines, but this book also had some very powerful themes of love and grace for one another. They talked of "growing up one another" in community -- spurring each other on and not remaining stagnant in our walks. Apparently he and Spencer had such intense disagreements sometimes that it's a miracle they were able to work together until Spencer's death. They had to rely much on forgiveness. Lessons like that we learn our entire lives.

We're looking forward to Heather's visit later on this week. Heidi is swamped with a presentation she is giving on Thursday but then she'll be able to hang out with us, too.

Well, I better go see if Stephen is still enthralled with the ceiling fan ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Souvenir

Yes, he's been to San Diego before. I can't believe he can already wear this shirt ...

I've been doing some work for Perfection Learning again, so that has really been keeping me busy whenever I can snatch some time during a nap or before I go to bed at night.

I went to a dessert event that a friend invited me to this evening. I took Stephen and he was SO GOOD!!!! As far as food I could eat there ... pineapples and strawberries. Oh, to eat chocolate and dairy again :).

Ryan is putting him to sleep right now. We've found that singing to him really helps him calm down. Yet there are times we'd like to have a conversation. So we sing things to each other such as, "Do you have a rehearsal tomorrow?" and then the reply is also sung. I know this trick won't work forever, but Stephen won't need to be sung to sleep forever either ...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

From our days in Peoria

One of the fun things about living in Champaign is becoming reacquainted with Andy Forbes and his wife, Maria. Their 4-month-old son, Will, is destined to be one of Stephen's first friends. Last night I was hanging out with both boys. They seemed to get along fine and they even got hungry at the same time! good thing Emily was here to help!

Dave showed up last night and now he, Ryan, Heidi, and Emily are at the Iowa-Illinois game. Last time I checked the score was 0-0.

The weather is rainy but hopefully we will still grill out tonight. We are looking forward to hearing that Heather, mom, and dad are back safe from Europe!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's a done deal!

A done deal, just like grandpa Larry would say ... Stephen Larry Leatherman has a passport.

The Larynx Dropping

Linguist sister Heidi said that it's about time for Stephen's larynx to drop. That means that his vocabulary will be increased as he'll be able to make more vowel sounds. But in return for that he will no longer be able to eat and breathe at the same time. Bummer for him ...

This seat is one that Heather gave us. Doesn't it look neat? He isn't strong enough to sit in it for a long time but he can hold his head up long enough for a picture!

I've had fun taking Stephen to campus with me. We took dinner over and ate with Ryan yesterday. Then we went to hear a presentation about the genocide in Sudan. The students were oohing and aahng over him, saying that they had never seen a baby as cute as him. I remember being a student and not seeing anyone but other students and professors for weeks on end. I'm really thankful that they are all so open. The students at the prayer meeting are understanding when he starts to fuss or just starts singing while we are praying. Even the babes praise Him!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A weekend at home ...

We are all three here this weekend for the first time in September! It's nice to relax ... and nice to have Ryan here most of the time! Stephen is doing well. He scared me a little bit with a little blood in his stool earlier this week but nurse grandma and then a dr. said it was pretty normal so not to worry.

Yesterday I went to a garage sale that 70 families contributed to! There were so many toys and clothes there. I bought a shopping cart cover that Stephen can sit in that has little toys on it. Ryan thinks it's silly (it is) so I assured him he doesn't have to use it. After the sale, I stayed and chatted with Maria, who has 4-month-old William Andrew Forbes. They are within walking distance of us, so we got to use the stroller instead of the car seat.

Last night we watched The Rainmaker (checked out free from the Champaign Public Library - it's great!). Then this morning we took advantage of a gift certificate our neighbors got us for a pancake restaurant. I had to have eggs since the pancake batter has milk in it :(.

Ryan watched the Iowa-Iowa State football game and was excited about the outcome. Then later this afternoon we went to Curtis Orchard, just south of town. As soon as we pulled into a parking spot, Ryan realized he needed to back up so as to not hit the minivan next to us. When he put the car in reverse to do just that, the car didn't go in reverse - it went forward and hit their bumper!!!! So much for a free trip to the orchard ... now we figured it would cost us $500 or so. We left a note and then walked around the orchard grounds. Stephen is too young to really enjoy all the carnival-type games and petting zoo, not to mention the apple-picking, but I imagine in a few years he will really get excited about going there. We picked some apples so I can bake an apple pie and also got some cider and fudge.

Now we are just hanging out at home. Ryan is watching clips of various football games. He tells me it's a big day for college football.

Then just a few minutes ago we got a call from the guy whose van we hit. He said it was already dented and not to worry about it!!!! Hooray!!!!

We talked briefly with Heather. She and mom and dad are at Marc-Andre's parents house in Germany. We have this nifty phone line deal in which we can talk for 100 minutes a month to Europe for free. That'll be nice especially when she lives over there in November . . .

I imagine we'll retire early this evening (which for us is 10 or 11) and it's another night of "sleeping-with-the-windows-open" weather.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Singing to Stephen

That's how we kept him happy much of the time in the car. It was a lot of travel time to get to Des Moines, then Minneapolis, then Prairie du Chien, and then back to Champaign, all this past weekend!

We had a wonderful time catching up back in Des Moines, even though we had a limited amount of time to do so. We saw Ryan's family for lunch, then stopped in at Perfection Learning. Then we spent the afternoon and evening at the Hagenbergs, visiting with others who dropped by. I think Ian is really going to enjoy a little brother or sister. He sure wanted to play with Stephen!

Stephen slept through the night on Friday night. It's the only time he has done so, and it hasn't happened again since. I'm really not in a hurry for him to do so. I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Then we went to Minneapolis and stayed with Sarah Louden in her Maple Grove townhome. We went to Hadley's wedding (it was outside in 60˚ weather!) and enjoyed it very much. You can see the happy bride and groom here.

We had a nice breakfast with Grandpa Dave, Grandma Susan, Great-Aunt Joanna, and Pete and Veloise. Then on to Prairie du Chien to see Kiata. It was a long but beautiful trip by the Mississippi River. It was great to see Kiata - we stayed for about an hour. Then Grandpa Larry and Grandma Kathy drove us to Blooomington, where Aunt Heidi picked us up to bring us here. It was so good to see Ryan (daddy)! I know it was just a weekend but I really missed him.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Squid Ink Fettucine

That's what we are having for dinner tonight ... I found it at the European grocery store in town. Ryan and I had it on our honeymoon so I bought it just because I thought that was neat. Heidi is joining us for dinner. It's so nice to have her in town! (And I'm not just saying that because she does the dishes every time she comes over to eat ...)

The photo is of dad and Stephen taken at the church building where Chelsea got married. Dad retired that same day from Caterpillar. Now he can be a full-time grandpa.

Stephen and I hope to take off early tomorrow morning for Des Moines, then Minneapolis for Hadley Quam's wedding. My parents are taking us, and then Ryan's will take us to the Twin Cities. On Sunday we really hope to see Kiata in Prairie du Chien, WI.

Last night Stephen seemed to finally stop having the voracious appetite he had for about a week. That means I haven't been having to feed him quite as often and for as long. That's a nice thing, but it really threw me at first!

Ryan has been really busy already with classes, practicing, and rehearsals. I can't imagine how he will fit working into the schedule, but he'll have to. He also found out about someone who needs a babysitter for a 2-year-old. I don't want to spend a lot of time babysitting, but a few hours here and there couldn't hurt. At least the 2-year-old could tell me what they need when they cry ... :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chelsea got married and we went to Lake Geneva

On Sunday night we returned from a whirlwind trip to my parents' house for Chelsea's wedding (picture taken there) and then a night in Wisconsin for a family reunion.

Lots of excitement surrounded the beautiful ceremony in St. Charles, IL. The wedding took place at Baker Memorial Church and the reception was in nearby Geneva, both along the Fox river.

The time in Wisconsin was fun - many of the relatives had not met Ryan, either. He really enjoyed the Family Fun Run, as well as volleyball and basketball. And finally I had an excuse to not have to participate in sports involving coordination :). Ryan and Stephen were the first and last males to cross the finish line in the 1-mile run/walk. I'm so proud of them. They both do what they do very well.

Yesterday we enjoyed dinner with the Forbes family. Andy, Maria, and William, as well as Andy's parents, Dave and Karen were there. They live so close to us that we walked over!

Today Stephen and I are taking it easy, as yesterday was a pretty fussy one for him! We think the stress of traveling is still pretty hard. And next weekend is another trip!

Monday, August 28, 2006

2 months old today!

Stephen has reached another milestone - 2 months old! He loves spending time under his mobile and seems to get really excited when the orange star comes around.

We started the day by missing the bus :( to go to campus for an early morning prayer meeting. So we drove instead, which does save some time and we even parked for free.

We planned to have a friend over in the afternoon but she hadn't written the right address down and so now she is coming on Wednesday instead. So Stephen and I took a nap (much-needed after little sleep last night!) until Ryan got home.

I had my audition for the C-U Symphony. It did not go well - and I promise I'm not just being hard on myself! But it's over and now I don't have to try to juggle practicing into the daily routine ... and Ryan got to spend a few hours with Stephen and give him a bottle.

Let me know if you'd like to see the 2-month pdf that I put together. I've been playing with my graphic software. It's very cute but I don't want to overwhelm everyone with lots of Stephen emails :)!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

First day of school

So here are both of my boys on Ryan's first day of school. Ryan had his French class this morning and is now at band auditions. He's been practicing his excerpts a lot. So much that I've been walking around the house singing them. Of course I don't have perfect pitch so they're not quite in tune, according to him.

Stephen is napping right now. I finally figured out that maybe he was fussy because he was tired. Sure enough. He crashed as soon as I calmed him down and rocked him for a little while.

His 8-week checkup was yesterday and he is right on track. He's 24 inches long and almost 12 pounds. I guess that's a pound for every 2 inches of him.

Aunt Heidi will be over for dinner soon.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Our first weekend is behind us ...

We had a wonderful weekend here in town. My sister Emily came and joined us. It was nice of her to help, although I don't think we really had to convince her to sit around and cuddle with our son! Friday we enjoyed an evening at home and Emily showed up after we'd finished dinner.

We had a nice slow start on Saturday morning and had waffles for breakfast. Ryan then went to a recital on campus and Emily and I did some grocery shopping. It figures that when I do have help that Stephen would really cooperate at the grocery store ... it was when I was all alone last week trying to do it that he screamed ... and screamed ... and screamed ...

We enjoyed a homemade pizza for a late lunch and then really attacked some more unpacking. Although we did fairly well packing and labelling boxes, we did throw some random items in boxes where they didn't belong - thus inducing some lengthy searches once we got here. If you ever need to know where the telephone cords are, look in a box labelled "mommy's shoes." The diapers will be in the box with the breast pump accessories.

We really twisted Emily's arm and talked her into watching Stephen for the evening so Ryan and I could go out to celebrate our anniversary. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner downtown Champaign at a place called Radio Maria. Then we went to Wal-Mart. I guess we aren't newlyweds anymore :).

Heidi showed up at our house while we were gone and she and Em took Stephen to the custard place down the street. After we got back, Ryan and Emily stayed up to watch a movie, and I got a few hours of sleep, knowing that I'd be up with Stephen during the night. Which I was. But I can't complain. For the most part, he just gets up to eat and then goes back to sleep.

We also found out that Ryan passed the entire music theory test on Friday. It wasn't a test that he had to pass to begin school but it would tell them what aspects of the subject he still needed to work on. He was very relieved (and surprised!) to have done so well.

Today we worked on unpacking the office and the boxes of books in the living room. Uncle Gary and Aunt Judy were in town and we enjoyed dinner with them at Cracker Barrel. Emily left to go back to Plainfield, and Heidi is back at her condo. Stephen is currenly sleeping and Ryan is putting odds and ends away.

I have been amazed at what a good baby Stephen has been the past few days. He still wants to be held a fair amount, but he is generally content and happy! I really think that the busyness of the move and the constant activity was pretty hard on him. Now we are fairly calmed down and he seems to really like that ... and I appreciate a happy baby! ...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Almost Settled!

We are finally hooked up to the internet in our new home at 1408 W. Clark St. It was a busy week and a half - not to mention the busy 2 months before the move!

On Monday the 7th we loaded up a big truck (yes, Ryan did manage to fit all the furniture and boxes into the truck) and drove to Champaign. Laurie Olson and I brought Stephen and he did very well, needing to stop and eat only a few times and really being very good in his carseat.

We did a whirlwind job of unpacking the kitchen and bathroom and some of the other rooms as we had only a day before heading to Canada. Then we hopped in the car with Grandma Susan and drove to Port Huron, Michigan, for the first night. Stephen did well in the car that day, and it wasn't until the next day that he really started expressing his disappointment with spending so much time in his carseat!

We got to Grandview Island on Kahshe Lake at about 8 on Thursday evening. Grandma and Grandpa Leatherman (or shall I say, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma) were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Over the next few days, we enjoyed time on the lake and even some relaxing moments! Stephen was introduced with pride to Great Grandpa and Great Grandma's friends at their Sunday morning service.

Our ride back to Illinois was a bit more enjoyable for the baby since we decided to just stop more when he was upset, not wanting to traumatize him too much. Getting back into the U.S. only took 3 hours .

And another activity that took 3 hours was getting our drivers licenses here in town! Thank goodness that once we finally got to the front of the line, the workers were understanding of the crying baby and let Ryan and me alternate taking care of him while in the midst of taking the written test, vision test, and getting pictures taken. (Written test in Illinois is much easier than the test in Iowa!) We still haven't gotten the passport taken care of since our picture of Stephen was rejected. We took some more and hope they are acceptable!

Yesterday Grandma Susan left to go back up to Canada for a few days before returning to Des Moines! We miss having her around, but realize that we really do need to be able to manage life just the 3 of us ... speaking of help and other people around, Aunt Heidi has been here for the past few nights for dinner, and Aunt Emily will be joining us for the weekend. We are excited to get the rest of the unpacking done. As I type this, Ryan is taking empty boxes up to the attic.

Tomorrow, Ryan has his entrance exams so he has been studying. He's also been practicing some of the music he'll be working on this fall.

It hasn't sunk in to me yet that we've moved. We've met some of our neighbors and they seem very nice. I'm going to meet another mom tomorrow while Ryan is testing.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Goodbye, Big D!

We're off to Champaign!!!!! We'll begin loading the truck as early as we can tomorrow morning, along with about ten of our now most favorite people. :) After arriving, we'll head to Canada on Wednesday, not getting back until Monday evening. This may be the last post for a while, since we won't have internet at our new place yet, but we'll be back soon!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

And another busy day ...

We had a nice lunch with some of the members of Ryan's band. (His last gig was last night at Prairie Meadows.)

Then Stephen and I went to Jon and Marillyn Beard's baby shower. Ryan went to Newton to perform with Ashanti. We enjoyed seeing so many of my friends from Heartland Christian Fellowship.

Then later we came home and Andre and Candy stopped by said goodbye and prayed with us. Laurie is hanging out for the evening - here she is holding Stephen!

Friday, August 04, 2006

More Goodbyes

Yesterday was the day of many many goodbyes. It's sad but a necessary part of moving! We had lunch with the Perfection Learning crowd. Randy fed Stephen a little bit of a bottle - he is very good with babies! I am really going to miss the people that I've worked with for more than 6 years!

In the afternoon we napped and then went to dinner at the Blochers' house. That's where many of our friends congregate every Thursday evening for dinner. It's amazing really how many children were around! Ian, Ellie, Max, and Stephen. And there were Kharia and Niki, but they're more "adolescents." (See photo of Kharia holding Stephen. She is really good with babies!)

More packing followed, and we had to do it in dim lights since that was the only way Stephen would stop fussing so much! I think he was a little worn out from the busy day. So many people to see and things to do!

Then this morning we accompanied Ryan to his hair appointment and all three of us went to the chiropractor. Stephen wasn't adjusted, however. Vince said he didn't need it!

We enjoyed visits from Elaine, Ian, and Ashley, then later from Lindsey Brust. Ryan is playing a show later tonight and Stephen and I are going to see what Grandma Leatherman is up to!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Good Report

We went to the midwife for the last time yesterday. We will really miss her! We've gained a lot from her insights, and we really like her approach to pregnancy.

Anyway, we weighed Stephen and he is 10.5 pounds - he's gaining right what he should. I did some quick math and realized that each week, he eats about 280 ounces of food, and retains about 8 of those when it is all said and done. Wow! Could you imagine how much weight he'd gain if he kept all his food as body mass?!?

She also told me that my body is healing just as it should. I'm not quite there yet but we are only 5 weeks out and the appointment is usually done at 6 weeks.

I spent the afternoon with Rachel and her kids. I'm trying to see so many friends in these last few days being in Des Moines!

Today is my going away lunch with Perfection Learning.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Meeting some of our friends

We spent some time this morning with two women who have raised kids just to ask them some questions about disciplining and cooking tips, etc. It was a very good visit! My friends Kathy and Laurie joined us., and my distant cousin Mary Amelia was also there.

Then we went to the Drake Diner to see Kiata who was in town from Wisconsin. She was sure excited to see Stephen. We also saw Kharia and Kyle. Kharia had not met Stephen yet ...

Stephen was in such a good mood that Ryan and I got to eat dinner and get some other things done around dinnertime. Then, since he was in such a good mood, we put him in the car and took him to Walgreens for his passport pictures. They turned out well, and since we now have the birth certificate and the SS card we'll be able to apply for his passport and have it within a few months! Then on to Germany for the Leatherman clan ...

Ryan and I will do some more packing tonight while Grandma Leatherman plays with Stephen. It's such a blessing to have help! We couldn't do it by ourselves ...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Stephen's Shower

Oops ... look what happened when I let Ryan loose with Stephen's shower gifts!

We had a busy day yesterday. Stephen and I set out in the heat for a trip to the farmers' market, where we bought daddy's birthday presents.

Then we went to our neighbor's wedding. It was a joyous occasion; the pastor read an excerpt from something Scott wrote in 1985 in which he knew he needed to trust God to bring him a spouse in His timing. And it's 2006! Scott and Ellen were obviously so happy with each other. I saw them this morning in the driveway as they were heading out for a honeymoon in Hawaii.

Stephen's shower was really fun. Many people who had not met him yet were there and he received some great gifts. (See photo of Ryan above - a cow puppet and a knitted hat.) There seems to be a consensus that he will be a baseball player. We'll see ...

Then we went out for dinner to celebrate Ryan's birthday. Cousins Anna and Claire continue to be very curious about Stephen. I'm sure it will be fun for them to see him grow up.

And now Stephen and I are going to go in to wake up daddy on his 26th birthday :).

Friday, July 28, 2006

One Month Today!

Stephen is one month old today! What a big boy he is ...

We spent the morning with some friends, Jon and Marillyn, who are having a baby in September.

Stephen and I took a great nap this afternoon while Ryan typed up his program notes for a saxophone concert on Sunday (his birthday!).

We are gearing up for our neighbor Ellen's wedding tomorrow as well as Stephen's shower hosted by his great-aunts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A step of independence

Stephen took a bottle today! He is four weeks old and that's when the "experts" say you can give them a bottle and the baby will still also eat from the breast. Ryan sat on the couch and Stephen was eating almost immediately. (I don't know who was more excited about the feeding - Ryan or Stephen!) Grandma Susan also got in on the action and fed him the second half of the bottle. (I just hope he eats well later and doesn't prefer the bottle!!)

Carolyn had the day off and we enjoyed a leisurely day. I got my hair cut (hooray!) and she held Stephen when he got fussy.

Monday, July 24, 2006

a TOY!

We had a nice day today sleeping until about 9, then going to the chiropractor. We had lunch with a couple that we met at our childbirth class. Their baby is due August 4; they are still waiting! It was lovely outside and we ate on their back porch.

Ryan assembled Stephen's toy - I believe he got it for Christmas from Grandpa and Grandma Lorimor. We put him in his cradle this afternoon and he really enjoyed looking at it! At least we think so.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stephen's First Wedding

Sorry - no pictures from the wedding - but this is from the other night. Ryan took it when he got home from his band rehearsal.

We had some visitors today. Great-Aunt Carolyn and Cindy and Brandy came by to spend some time with Stephen. Grandma ad Grandpa Leatherman were here for a bit, too.

Today we went to the wedding of Meredith Kelly and Paul Vaughn. It was beautiful! I can't tell you much about the actual wedding (vows, etc.) because I had to go to the basement to tend to a hungry boy. But he was quite the hit and surprised many who did not even know he had been born!

After that, he went downtown to meet the other guys in daddy's band.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A busy day

I'm trying to figure out how to take Stephen all over town. The diaper changing isn't too difficult, but the feedings sure are. Today he ended up eating in the parking lot at the mall, at our friends' house, at my co-workers' house, and at the Drake Diner.

My dad's twin brother (Gary) and his wife (Judy), a.k.a. Uncle Gary and Aunt Judy, met us for dinner at the Drake Diner. Stephen got hungry, too, but when he wasn't eating Gary enjoyed holding him.

Ryan has a gig tonight so Stephen and I are hanging out at home. After so many errands today it's a good idea to just stick around here.

Our move is just over 2 weeks away. I'm excited about it, but also beginning to be sad to know that I'll miss so many people in Des Moines! I am sure God will take care of our little family, and it's nice that Heidi will be so close. Still, I've lived here for 10 years and it's going to be sad to leave.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Portable Baby

We discovered today that Stephen really can go a lot of places with me! We went to a Bible study this morning at the Minahan's house then had lunch with Naomi. We went to Perfection Learning and picked up my "new" computer. (I had to feed him in the file storage room!!) He got along well with my old boss, Randy (pictured).

We went to our regular Thursday night dinner and then went swimming at the midwife's house. Stephen couldn't swim yet but the women there took turns holding him.

Grandma and Grandpa Leatherman are here to see him right now.



Ian's birthday!

Stephen and I picked out some fire truck pj's for Ian's 2nd birthday. Ian has been very generous to Stephen so it was our turn today!

Stephen has been eating and eating and eating and eating ... hard to get anything else done! Ryan and I finally made it to Hy-Vee tonight for some groceries.

He is getting so big. Here he is in his firecracker shirt from Laurie!