Friday, December 21, 2007

New Niece/Cousin!

Yesterday we headed to Holland Hospital to visit our new niece/cousin! My sister, Cherie, and her husband, Cory, had their first child on Wednesday evening - and she's the first girl in a very, very long time in Cory's family. She's beautiful! Eli wasn't terribly interested in Emmelia, but he was interested in all the buttons and gadgets and chairs in the hospital.

Also, on a much smaller, but also very cute note, Eli played in the snow for the first time the other day. As Jeff was getting him from the car to the house, he bent down by the edge of the sidewalk and waved at the snow - his sign for "No-no." How sad! Our son thought that snow was a no-no! So Jeff bundled him up and they romped in the snow. I think he's a fan.

Monday, December 17, 2007

This years first Christmas gathering

The Petersen family celebrated Christmas this past Saturday. Jeff's sister, Lisa, and her family will be in Iowa on Christmas with Kris' family and I'm officiating at a wedding next weekend, so we had Christmas early. It was quite a wonderful shin-dig. The kids had to be careful around Grandma B as her arm is still very fragile after a fall and surgery a week and a half ago. They also had to be careful around me as I had been up the whole night before with the stomach flu and wasn't feeling terribly stable yet. But despite all our weariness, we had plenty of joy. There are three small children around now. Ellie is 3 1/2 now and Josiah is almost 7 months old. Eli's a year and a half and things can get crazy. There's always plenty of laughter and lots of imagination. Eli kept row, row, rowing the boat which came from the imagination of his cousin Ellie last time we were all up there (Thanksgiving?). And he also hasn't forgotten "Ring around the Rosies", which was also a big hit last time. He's usually very anxious to "all fall down," and sometimes makes it to the end of the song.
Grandma and Grandpa Petersen gave Eli a baby for Christmas among other things, and the baby stole his attention longer than I've seen him stay focused in a long time. It came with a bottle, which Eli quickly grabbed and started feeding the baby before his dad could get it out of the box. We think he's a pretty attentive parent to that baby. Except, of course, that when he's done with it, he just drops it on the floor, no matter where he's at. But when he's caring for that Baby, he's totally focused. We don't have a name for the baby yet, so if you've got any suggestions, let us know. We're open to ideas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oh come, Oh come, Emanuel.

This is the last of several posts that I've added today. I'm catching up. Keep scrolling down to see all the new stuff in the Petersen family.

Last year we thought it was so much fun to get ready for Christmas with Eli. We had no idea how much more fun (and more challenging) it would be when he was mobile. Eli's been "making cookies" with green and red play dough, he made his first ornament at the Meijer Garden's Christmas party and helped with the Christmas Tree. Last weekend we went out to the tree farm in Zeeland with our good friends Brian and Liz Sharda. Eli brought his "wood saw" (no really, it's made out of woo) to help. Then he helped string the lights and decorate the tree. This pretty much consisted of climbing the step ladder with an ornament, carefully picking the perfect location and then throwing the ornament in, hoping that it would get caught up before hitting the floor. If it stuck, he'd clap for himself. If it fell all the way down, he'd climb down, grab the ornament off the floor, and start the process all over again. We've also been re-decorating the tree every evening as all the ornaments within reach get taken off and thrown back into the tree multiple times. So far, only three have broken, but I think two of them can be fixed.
Yesterday, he even tried on his papa's ski goggles. I recognize that they're not really Christmas related, but still - 'tis the season.

"Baba Papa days"

Early on, Eli gained the nickname "Baba." Don't ask - he's got lots of nicknames and there's really no way to know where they came from. Anyway, the days when Jeff is home with Eli have become known as Baba Papa days. As you can tell, they have a lot of fun together. In case you can't read Eli's baseball T, it say, "I know I'm somebody, because God don't make no junk." We found it at the clothing sale our church does the weekend after Thanksgiving and it was just too funny to resist. Jeff also taught Eli to smile for pictures, so if he's got a pained look on his face, it's actually a smile. Very amusing.

Grandma and Grandpa's "new" (old) home

Grandma and Grandpa are back! Well, at least they're back in their house when they come to visit. Eight years ago my parents moved out of the house I knew as home in Mattawan (outside of Kalamazoo) and into a brand new home in Pennsylvania. Karla moved into the house in Mattawan which she has rented for the past eight years. Until last month when she moved back out and my parents moved a few things back in. They're still in Pennsylvania, but now they can stay in their home when they come back to Michigan and their home is available for Eli (and Eli's mom and dad) to rest and relax.
Eli and Jeff spent some time helping clean the house and move in some basic things like dishes and a bed and a few chairs . . . I think he likes all the open space of a house that's minimally furnished. I think I really like a place where Eli can run in the woods, play in the lake (come next summer) and experience a nighttime with no streetlight and the deafening sound of crickets and tree frogs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tis the Season

No, I'm not thinking Christmas already (although I did do the first of my Christmas shopping today while I was out buying diapers for Eli.) Instead, for the Petersen's, this is the season we get really excited about - Fall. We love weather that's cool enough to walk around in a sweater and drink hot beverages on a cool deck by a contained fire. Since we don't have any shade in our back yard, it was hard to play outside in the summer and keep Eli cool enough. Now he's got free reign of the back yard again and gets to wear his spiffy barn coat from his Grandma and Grandpa Petersen when we play at the Meijer Garden's Children's garden. Eli "carved" his first pumpkin with the Traxler clan this fall. Okay, maybe he just had fun smearing pumpkin guts around the table while I did the carving, but he sure did think the final product was pretty cool. He helped his Papa rake leaves and apparently didn't think too much of playing in the pile of leaves - maybe he'll grow into it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Having children teaches you a lot of things. That's a stupid thing to say, but it does. I've learned how to remove crusty boogers with one finger and a lick (on my finger, not the boogers). I've learned that macaroni and cheese is the greatest meal ever created. I've learned all sorts of trivial stuff. I just loaded a bunch of pictures onto my computer from our camera and, as I looked over them, I started thinking about how having Eli has changed my understanding of the importance of family. Some of ours is close, some of ours is far away, some of ours is "family" that we're not actually related to. There's a lot of family that Eli will never know. Like the great-great-grandfather he's named after or all but one great-grandparent on his mom's side of the family.
Both Eli's first and middle names are family names. His first name, Eli, comes from his great-great-grandfather Eli Aebig, his fathers, mothers, fathers, father. His middle name, Traxler, is his mother's maiden name. The Traxler name may or may not be carried on to the next generation, but we wanted Eli to know that he's an Aebig and a Petersen, a Traxler and a Smit and all those other last names that came from the generations before.
The first picture will mean more to some of you reading this than to others. We've got pictures in our living room of Eli's dad sitting in that chair when he was a small boy and of Eli's great-grandpa sitting in it as a baby as well.
The second picture was taken this past weekend as Eli helped his dad "fix" things, something that seems to be very familial - Dad's teaching there sons. Eli's tongue is sticking out to the side just like his mothers and his grandpa Traxler's do when they're concentrating on something.
I personally think Eli's got a pretty swell family to grow up knowing.

Monday, October 8, 2007

First Hair Cut.

Eli had his first haircut this evening. The baby mullet was getting a bit out of control. The event was quite an adventure and turned into an experiment to see how fast Papa could chase him and how quickly Mama could snip some hairs without cutting any of the three of us. Eli wasn't too fond of the process. But the mullet is gone and our son is looking very fine, though a bit older than I think he should. The first picture is the prep for the hair cut. The second is Eli once again free to run with his snazzy new look.

Friday, October 5, 2007

More vacation pictures

Of woods and water ... and fences.

I've recently been struggling quite a bit with desiring more of nature in Eli's everyday life. I took a retreat in the woods at the end of August out towards the lake and was really struck by how much I miss the woods and the water being so close all of the time. It's not fair to say that I didn't appreciate what I had growing up, because I certainly recognized the significance of growing up with a lake out the front door and the woods out the back. However, now that I live in the city, which I also love for so many different reasons, and now that I go to the woods or the water just to visit, I'm more and more aware of how much I need those things - of how much they shaped me and are a part of who I am. I want that for Eli - just as much as I want for him to learn to be comfortable with (without losing the appreciating for) diversity, and learn to be in relationship with neighbors when that means laughs shared over the fence and when it means that eight Italian Greyhounds are barking next door half the afternoon. I want for him all the things that the city has to offer him without giving up any of the things the city can't give him.

That's why family vacations and weekend getaways are so important to me. We recently took a vacation to the Smokey Mountains where we camped for a week with Eli. He loved it. In fact, I think he was disappointed to be back home because we weren't playing outside all day every day anymore. Eli learned just how many stones his Fisher Price dump truck could carry - and dump. He learned to throw stones in the river. He learned that the fuzz on fuzzy caterpillars pulls off fairly easily. He learned that some large beetles are squishy and some are not. And I hope he learned that his mom and dad love and respect the outdoors. Well, maybe that's a lot for 15 months, but at least we're starting at it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do as I do

We decided that Labor Day would be a great time to weed some flower beds, lay down some mulch and get them ready for the season. We know most people do this somewhere around Memorial Day, leaving themselves with low maintenance beds throughout the summer, but we're not most people. So last week Monday we spend the day working on our yard in various ways. Jeff mowed the lawn, we weeded two flower beds, turned the soil, soaked them with water and laid down some mulch. Our neighbor ordered far too much mulch when she did her beds this spring and has been reminding us all summer we could use as much as we needed. Thanks, Karen. In the evening, we made up 14 pounds of taco meat and froze it in one pound bags because we had about fifty serano peppers from our garden to use up.
Eli was a big help, too. Throughout the summer, he's been helping his Papa water with the hose and helping his Mama weed, although we're still working on the difference between plants we want to get rid of and plants we want to keep. All day, Eli was keeping close tabs on what we were doing. At one point, I took my gloves off and threw them on the ground to take a break with some cool water. When I turned around, I found that Eli had picked up the gloves and gotten them on all by himself - even on the right hands! He walked straight over to one of the beds still full of weeds and began pulling them out.
Jeff and I have been studying "discipleship" as we prepare to spend several weeks focusing on this at Servant's Community Church in the near future. Dallas Willard, writing about discipleship, says that discipleship was simple when Jesus walked the earth - all the disciples had to do was "to follow him with and attitude of observation, study, obedience and imitation." Eli's living proof that this isn't a complex thing. He follows us around and does what we do, learns to say what we say. He's always studying what's going on around him. All children do. They learn from us how to be in the world and how to interact with other people from watching how we, the big people, interact with one another and live in the world. And this leads me to realize how important you are, whoever you are, to my son's character. Eli learns from me, but he also learns from our neighbor, Karen and from his Aunts and Uncles and Grandmas and Grandpas and cousins and the people at the day care and the people he will meet at the park where he'll go to play ball when he's older and from . . . What will you teach my son? What will Eli learn about being a human being from you? What will the kid next door to you, or the kid in the super market learn from you? Who's watching you?
I'm getting all sappy and philosophical and maybe a little bit "preachy" - I know. But I'm growing a little weary today of people who don't pay attention to who's watching them and what they're teaching our children - mine and everyone else's. Maybe it's just time for that vacation we've got planned for next week. Or maybe I just truly believe that we (that collective, ambiguous we) can do better.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Time is slippin' away.

Maybe you caught the reference to the somewhat cheesy DC Talk song, but it's so true. All the cliches are. I set up this blog two months ago when our son, Eli, turned one to help me be intentional about capturing the moments of our life as a family. Now, two months later, I'm finally getting around to the first post.
This past weekend we headed up to the Au Sable river with my parents for a little bit of fly fishing and a little bit more time away. We live in the city and love it and we also love getting out into the trees and rivers and lakes that the city can't provide. Perhaps one of our favorite memories of Eli so far happened while we were there. Jeff had a paper bag from purchasing some fly fishing/tying supplies, which he emptied and gave to Eli. Then he proceeded to point out various objects - rocks, twigs, pine cones - and ask Eli, "What's that." To which, of course, Eli would closely examine it, pick it up carefully and place it in the "nature bag." Even at only 14 months, I think he's got the innate sense that God's creation is something to be treasured and cherished, protected, even if only by a paper bag and the pockets of your sweater.