Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Changing the Bathtime Routine

Bathtime with Daddy
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
At almost 4 months old, Alex is quickly outgrowing his baby bath-tub. So, he has made the switch from taking a bath in the kitchen sink to taking a bath in the big tub with daddy. The first couple of nights he wasn't sure if he liked it or not. But around the 3rd or 4th night he figured out that by swinging his arms he could make the water splash. Sometimes he connects with the H2O in such a way that the water splashes up into his face. Although he startles himself, he never cries, but rather makes a gulping sound. He just collects his composure and conitnues swinging. I thing we've got a swimming maniac on our hands. He must get that from his daddy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
What is the best way to describe what "Pa" meant to us? I know that he filled a special role in each of our lives. For me, having a disabled father who was unable to fullfill many of the natural things that fathers should in their children's lives, I had "Pa" to fill in the gaps.

He taught me how to shoot a gun and hunt deer. He even cleaned my first deer because I was afraid and didn't know how. He taught me how to drive and how to change the oil in my car. He taught me the value of being a handy-man and trying to repair things on my own.

He taught me where I came from and who I was related to. He implanted on me that there was no reason to ever be late for church. (I'm still trying to live up to that one.)

I learned that people, especially neighbors and friends, are valuable assets. And sometimes, you just need to lean on the pick-up truck and talk about the wheat and potatoes and just 'shoot the breeze' with each other.

During those early morning cups of coffee or those late night cups of tea, I learned the value of sitting together with family and catching up on each other's lives. He was so proud of all his family.

His willingness to stay by grandma's side and take care of her on a daily basis taught me the importance of being committed "for better and for worse, through sickness and in health."

We will all miss his apple-sauce, his fried chicken, his pancakes, and especially his fried potatoes-n-eggs. We will all miss the joy and pleasure of visiting him out on the farm. We will all miss getting teased by him about something. We will all miss hearing him tell the same stories that he told us a hundered times before.

No one will ever sing like he did.
No one will ever whistle like he did.
No one will ever tell me again that I need to grow whiskers in order to be a man.
No one will ever throw me in the pond again.

Life changes and goes on and even continues after death. Perhaps even now, he is driving his Model-T around, or working in his garden, or just sleeping in his chair.

The Bible tells us about the dangers of casting judgment upon one another. But I have to say, with out any doubt, that grandpa loved two things more than anything else in his life: his creator, God, and what God created through him, his family (5 children, 19 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren, and counting...).

When we think about all that we will miss about him, and about the role that he played in our lives, is there really any better way to express how we feel, than to say, "We love ya, Pa."

(Rusty's grandfather, Aaron Starnes, passed away on Wednesday, June 7th. He was almost 94 years old. We weren't able to make it back for the funeral, but Rusty wrote the above piece and emailed it to his mom so it could be read at the funeral in our absence.)

Happy Father's Day!

3 Generations
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

--- attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Happy Father's Day to two of the most successful men I know!

Any man can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a daddy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Buddy, Freedom

Alex and Freedom
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
This is my friend, Freedom. He's a big boy -- almost six months older than me. He's sitting up by himself, crawling, and eating solid food. I can't do any of those things yet, but someday I'll be able to do everything Freedom does!

I like it when Freedom comes to my house to play. I'm not big enough to really play with him yet, but I watch him and we talk to each other. It's nice to have another little person around every once in awhile.

I hope Freedom and I will be friends for a long time!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Another Milestone

We've celebrated a lot of milestones in our family lately. The birth of our first child. My 29th birthday. Rusty's 33rd birthday. "Month Birthdays" for Alex. My first Mothers' Day.

And on May 29th, Rusty and I celebrated another milestone. We have now been married seven years! Wow! Do we qualify as old married folks yet?

I know there are people out there who have been married a lot longer than we have, but in today's world of one-night stands and disposable relationships, I'd say seven years is still an achievement. It hasn't always been easy. There have been challenges, struggles, and difficult times. Arguments, misunderstandings, hurt feelings. But there have also been good times, adventures, and special memories. Laughter, fun, and through it all, love. I feel so blessed to be sharing life and now raising a family with such a wonderful, caring, godly man!

In the last seven years, we have:

  • made three international moves (America to Japan, back to America, back to Japan)

  • driven across the United States twice (from Portland to Memphis and back again)

  • visited 23 different states

  • traveled to 9 foreign countries -- the Bahamas, Hong Kong (twice), Macau, Kenya, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and England (and Rusty went to France without me!)

  • lived four years (almost) in Japan

  • traveled extensively throughout Japan, managing to hit all four main islands in our first three years (highlights included two major road-trips and the Ice Festival in Sapporo)

  • been on one mission trip to Kampala, Uganda (a Let's Start Talking campaign in 2003)

  • owned eight different vehicles (not all at once!)

  • lived in five different homes

  • both started master's degrees (and let's hope in the next seven years, we can finish them!)

  • made many, many new friends!

  • and last, but certainly not least, become parents together (and we both agree this is just about the coolest thing that's happened to us so far)

I don't know what the next seven years will hold, but if they are anything like the first seven, I have a feeling that I am in for quite a ride!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Three Months Old

3 Months Old, originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.

Here is our little man at three months old. He grows and changes so much from month to month, and even day to day. He is getting longer and fatter, is wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes, and has graduated to the next size diaper cover.

By the way, just a little plug here for my Mother-Ease cloth diapers. They are wonderful! The benefits of cloth diapering are many, including being better for the envionment (a big plus for my "save-the earth" Oregonian husband) and better for babies' bottoms (no diaper rash yet, knock on wood). But the best thing about cloth diapers, in my opinion, is that they are going to end up saving us a TON of money over disposables.

3 Months Old
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Alex' accomplishments of the third month included discovering his hands, starting to push up with his legs, improving his visual tracking, holding and shaking rattles, and beginning to sit (while well-supported by us or pillows). He even slept all the way through the night on several occasions, although that is not his usual pattern yet (it only happens when he is very, very tired, either because he didn't nap well or we kept him up too late)! He has started interacting with both his toys and us more, which is so much fun for Rusty and I. He is also smiling a lot more and has started giggling and chuckling, especially when tickled!

Month three also brought about my return to very part-time work for World English Center. Currently, I am teaching two kindergarten classes, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. On Tuesday, I leave Alex at World English Center with the secretary while I go to the kindergarten for my class. On Wednesday, he goes with me to the kindergarten and I leave him at the drop-in day care for an hour while I teach my class. Alex seems to be adjusting well to this so far. He is such a content and easy-going baby, and for that, I am very thankful.

Happy Three Month Birthday, Alex!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Stone Is One!

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Alex' friend Stone Littlejohn celebrated his first birthday on May 25th this year. His party was a lot of fun. Lj and Kari sure put out a great spread. From the barbeque chicken to the homemade lemonade, everything was delicious. Thanks, guys! Stone really enjoyed his birthday cake, especially the frosting part, as you can see from the photo!

Happy First Birthday, Stone! May there be many more to come!

stonebday1, originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Rusty turned 33 years old this year (on May 19th). To celebrate, we had over 20 people (not including children) come to the house on Saturday, May 20th, for a big party. Rusty asked me to make African food, so I made two big pots of coconut chicken curry, chapatis (a flat bread kind of like a tortilla), greens, and a fruit salad. Two friends helped by bringing their rice cookers full of rice to go with the curry (thanks, Tomoko and Charity). For his birthday cake, he requested cranberry cheesecake, and I also made a chocolate sheet cake. Other friends helped by bringing several half gallons of ice cream to go with the cake (thanks, Damon and Amy). The cake in the photo is not the cheescake, but a chocolate cake from a bakery that one of the guests brought for Rusty. It came complete with candles, so we just used that when we sang "Happy Birthday."

It was a busy day getting ready for the party, made even more difficult by the fact that Alex refused to take a nap all day! I think he knew something big was going on and he wasn't going to miss it. But it was well worth it. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the food (judging by the quantity that was consumed). Rusty said it was his best birthday party in many years, maybe even since high school.

(Thanks, Mark, for the photo. I was so busy during the party that I forgot to take any pictures with our camera, so I stole this picture off of his blog.)