Monday, April 30, 2012

Elaina's Baptism

Growing up, I attended various denominations and branches of Christian protestant churches. My family moved around the country a few times, and we always did a bit of church hopping before finding one my parents decided we should regularly attend. Presbyterian, Community, Baptist, Charismatic, and other various Non-Denominational churches.

When I married a Reformed man, I knew I would stir up a few controversial topics among my family and old friends. But I also knew that when it comes down to it, it really doesn't matter if our music is centuries old, or written last week. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter if our sermon is preached from a man wearing a robe or faded jeans. It doesn't matter if we use the King James version of the Bible, or the NIV. What matters is that we believe in one true triune God, and one Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ.

I never would have guessed I would end up attending a Reformed church that I love. The people there are some of the kindest, most generous, and most sincere people I have ever had the pleasure of befriending.

And we baptize our babies. Because we believe in the promises of God.

Elaina Halcyon Blakey was baptized on April 29. Thanks be to God.

"Elaina will spend the remainder of her life learning to be a Blakey. That’s a life-long project for anyone. More profoundly, she will spend her life growing into her name as a child of the heavenly Father, a sister of her Brother Jesus, walking with the Spirit of adoption. God is true. His Name sticks regardless. God calls her by baptism to be a true witness so that God’s truth will shine in her." -Dr. Leithart
Read the rest of Dr. Leithart's exhortation here or below.

"As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

The little dress that Elaina wore was the same dress Chloë was baptized in. And it was one of my cute little dresses when I was a baby.

Exhortation by Peter Leithart, April 29, 2012

Matthew 28:18-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.
Baptism is a naming ceremony. Your daughter already has a name, and a meaningful one. Baptism adds another name because in baptism she becomes a member of a new family. She receives the family name of Father, Son, and Spirit. At the same time, God Himself takes on a new name, for here He promises to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and now Elaina.
We Protestants don’t like to say that baptism works “automatically,” because in some respects it doesn’t. Baptism doesn’t guarantee eternal salvation. But in this respect – as a naming ceremony – baptism is automatic. Everyone who is baptized receives a new name, whether they want it or not.
Like everything else Elaina has, this name is a gift of sheer grace. Elaina didn’t choose you as her parents. She didn’t choose to live in Moscow, or to be an American, or to be born to members of this church. And she doesn’t choose to be given the family Name of the Triune God. God chooses her. Through this water He lays His mighty hand on her to declare to the world that she is a daughter of His love.
Names always come at the beginning. You didn’t hold off a few years to discover your daughter’s temperament so you could make sure to give her an appropriate name. You named her as soon as she was born. We name our children in hope that they will live up to their name.
God does the same. He doesn’t leave us wandering around trying to find our name. At the beginning, before we have shown our true colors, God risks placing His name on us and adopting us into His family.
Elaina will spend the remainder of her life learning to be a Blakey. That’s a life-long project for anyone. More profoundly, she will spend her life growing into her name as a child of the heavenly Father, a sister of her Brother Jesus, walking with the Spirit of adoption. God is true. His Name sticks regardless. God calls her by baptism to be a true witness so that God’s truth will shine in her.

Jessie's Bridal Shower

Christa put together a fabulous not-so-little Bridal Shower for Jessie out at the ol' Alpaca Farm on Saturday. We estimated about 70 ladies showed up.  We had a great introduction hearing a brief version of Jessie and Kaleb's romance.  There was lots of food and fellowship, and of course lots and lots of presents.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Talking To Her Blanket, v2.0

When Chloë was tiny, she loved talking to the quilt that hangs above her changing table.  Apparently Elaina does too.

A couple of days later, Elaina definitely seemed more interested in talking to me than to her blanket.  She's really become quite the chatter box in the last week or so.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Exactly nine years ago, I was just finishing up my wonderful two month trip to New Zealand. I was 19, and my dear grandmother and I had decided we needed an adventure. So we flew across the ocean, and eventually arrived in Christ Church, New Zealand. The two months we spent at my uncle Geoff's home were wonderful. I made a point of going on little adventures, and it was great spending so much time with my extended family.

We ate lots of good food while I was there; one of my favorites being a recipe my Aunt Vicki had created. I made sure to scribble down her instructions before I came home, and have been making it ever since. I've made a few adaptations over the years, and I make this about once a month. It's great that it is so easy (yay for crock pot recipes!), and it's one of Bryan's favorites.

We always eat it on pitas, and sometimes I serve it with Spanakorizo: a Greek spinach and rice dish.


3 pounds meat, cut into medium sized chunks*
1/4 cup olive oil if meat is lean, omit if meat is fatty
1/2 cup red wine
juice of 1 large lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic)
3 tbs oregano
2 tbs basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
2 or 3 bay leaves
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt

*(I've used different cuts of beef and pork, and have found that pretty much any kind of meat will do.)

Put all ingredients in a crock pot, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until meat is cooked, stirring every hour or two.

When meat is done, spoon most of the juices into a separate bowl, and mix with plain yogurt to make sauce. I usually use a little more meat juice than yogurt.

Meat should shred easily with a fork, or by using the flat attachment of a Kitchen Aid.

Serve in fresh pitas with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese and yogurt sauce.

And of course it works just as well served on a flat pita, soft taco style.

Fresh Pocket Pitas

These pitas are really easy to make, and are so much better than anything you can buy at the grocery store.

Start by mixing up my super easy bread recipe. Using a third of the dough from a full batch, separate it into four equal parts.

Smush to flatten.

Carefully transfer to preheated pizza stone. Bake at 450 on top oven rack for 5 to 7 minutes, until puffy and just slightly golden. I can only bake one at a time, but it doesn't take long.

The dough should puff up nicely. Place on cooling rack, and wrap with a light cloth. This way the pitas don't get too dried out and have a lovely texture.

Cut in half and enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

22 Months

Chloë loves going outside. Today has been cold and rainy, but that doesn't deter her. I can watch her from the kitchen and dining room windows, and she is free to get all muddy and wet. Last week was warm and sunny, and we spent lots of time outside while I was doing yard work and weeding. She enjoyed running around barefoot, looking at bugs, waving sticks around, and she even got to see a few gardner snakes.

She's been asking for things by saying "may I?" for months now, but we decided to try to incorporate "please." The girl is just a little bit ADD, and either gushes "May I?!" or "please?!" and has a hard time saying them both together. So I tell her "slow it down, and say it all together." And then I can get her to say "maaaay... I.... please." We've also been working on prompting her to say "be" at the end, and then she know to say "'scused."

She loves food, but she can be both picky and strange. She usually has chex or cheerios for breakfast, but the other morning, she woke me up by sticking her sweet little nose in my face, and asking "Beans? Salsa?"
One of her favorite new things is her "snack lunch." I try to find a variety of healthy things and put them in an ice cube tray. She thinks it's great. She always eats olives, grapes, and raisins first.

I don't think anyone is surprised by her sweet tooth. She often cocks her head to one side and sweetly asks for snacks, treats, chocolate, cookies, cake, or ice cream. Occasionally I oblige.

We have a little game we call "get you." As you might have guessed, the game consists of me chasing her around the house, stomping my feet loudly and saying "I'm gonna GET YOU!" Then when I get her, I throw her up on the bed or the couch, and give her a short tickle session, and then she gets down and runs off again, squealing with delight, and cheerfully yelling "oh no! oh no!"

I realized one day a couple of weeks ago that she can spell her name. She was scribbling away on paper, and she said "C, H, L, O, E... op op." I think the "op op" was supposed to be "umlaut." She can't actually write the letters yet, but I was so surprised to hear her spelling her name!

She likes to count. She understands the concept of one and two, but beyond that, she gets a little confused. She's great at counting to ten, but usually skips a number or two near six or seven. And it doesn't help that she rarely starts at "one." So if there are five blocks in front of her, and I ask her how many, she'll likely say something like "three... four... five... six... nine!"

She's getting really good at her colors, too.

She spends a lot of time in the living room, looking at books (and sometimes making up gibberish stories), and playing with her toys.

Uncle Austin and Aunt Laura got her some new food toys for Easter.

The other day, she had been playing in the living room, and came up to me and handed me a gift bag that I had left out. "A present!" she announced. "For me?!" I asked, and she shook her head with a huge grin on her face, jumping up and down just a little. The bag contained a plastic piece of bread, plastic lettuce, and a plastic ketchup bottle. She's so cute.

Sleeping. She does pretty well falling asleep in her toddler bed. If she hasn't exhausted herself and told me she's sleepy and asked for her binkie, I'll send her to bed for a nap around 2:30 or 3. She usually passes right out, and almost always in this position:

If she could have it her way, she would still cuddle on the couch and have a thumb to squeeze. She likes to hold a thumb in her fist, and uses her own thumb to press on the meaty pad of my thumb. Or if she's holding my thumb from the other angle, she'll rub her own thumb up and down the smoothness of my nail, and then along the edge. Really, anybody's thumb will do. And not just when she's tired. She would happy to have a "thumb fix" any old time. In fact, when we were at the mall last week, she actually checked to see if the mannequin thumb was at all satisfying.

She still loves music. She always asks for "beats" when we get in the car. Her favorites right now are what she calls "Somebodys" and "Mess." She knows all of the songs we sing her at bedtime, and it's so sweet hearing her randomly break into song during the day: "...worshiped, adored. He 'thout 'egINing, age-ess and SAME, is, ever, SHALL BE, g'ory, 'is name." She's a little bit shy, so it's hard to get her to perform if there's anyone around, and she gets all distracted if she knows the camera is there. It seems like she's singing or humming more often than not.

A few days ago, I was yelling out the back door at Bryan, trying to get his attention when he had the loud wood chipper running. Chloë asked "What's this "BRYAN"? I laughed at her imitation of my yelling, and then tried to explain that daddy's name was Bryan, and Mama's name was Bess. She totally understood, and does a great job at explaining the concept: "Daddy, Bryan. Mama, Bess."

She's doing fabulous with her role as Big Sister. She's very sweet and affectionate, and likes to bring toys or stuffed animals to share with Sister.

She has realized that Elaina has tiny fingers and thumbs that work well for squeezing, so we make sure she knows she's not allowed to squeeze or squish Sister; she's too tiny and fragile.

She's getting awfully pretty.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

We got up unusually early. Not quite as early as last year, but still very early. We decided that we should have our breakfast in the graveyard after our 8:00 AM church service, and I'm awfully glad we did. The temperature was tolerable, and we enjoyed a leisurely brunch.

My family was in town, so after church, my sister took some quick photos for us. I returned the favor and snapped a couple of pictures of her with my girls and Louis.

I'm a little jealous that they got the "perfect family photo" with everyone smiling and looking at the camera. No such luck for me.

We went out to Blakeys that afternoon for our Easter Baskets. Laura made Elaina her very own Easter Bunnanay.

Then we all had Easter Dinner at my parents' house next door.

Almost everyone. Mom and Dad and Daniel's seat at the head of the table wouldn't fit into the picture. And of course we missed Samuel, who lives in Denver.

Grams and Chloë.

Papa and Elaina.

Uncle Austin, Aunt Christa and Aunt Jessie adoring the baby.

Aunt Laura makes faces at Elaina.

I love it when my whole family and all of my inlaws get together. I'm reminded at how blessed I am to have such wonderful families that truly enjoy each other's company.

He is Risen!