Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday Hannah!

It is difficult for me to believe that my baby is already 1 year old! She just seems too tiny to be doing all of the new things that she's doing and to be entering toddlerhood. While my mom was visiting this past weekend, she couldn't get over how light and easy Hannah was to pick up and hold, especially compared to her siblings who both weighed 24 pounds by 1 year as well as her hefty same-age cousin, Elijah, in the northeast. And yet she will have nothing to do with babyfood, loves to feed herself, crawl at breakneck speed, stand up on her own, and even take a step or two before falling down.

She had her 1 year well check-up this morning and received 3 shots in her legs (ouch!). I know, great birthday present. But she measured 30 inches in length (75th percentile) and 18 lbs. 5.5 oz. in weight (10th percentile). Maybe now that she can drink whole milk she'll fatten up a bit. I'm skeptical because she's much more inclined to burn it all off given how active she is. I'm not worried because she is perfectly healthy and she eats very well. I don't think I could have an easier or more contented baby, and my other 2 were pretty easy! One thing that has marked her nature from birth to the present is her consistent sweetness. We all enjoy her so much.

The kids wanted to sit next to Hannah for her '1 year old celebration photo'.

Hannah LOVES to shake things, so maracas are the perfect toys for her.

She can even hold her balance while standing up and shaking maracas simultaneously.

Here Hannah is feeding herself pieces of spinach omelet that I made for lunch. She gobbled the whole thing up in no time.

What's funny is that she's very good at getting the food into her mouth with a fork, but she has not mastered the art of stabbing the food. So as soon as she takes a bite, she hands the fork to me and says, "Da" or "Doo", as if to say, "now get me another piece and I'll do the rest."

Hannah got a stuffed Horton the elephant, some cute new outfits, and two new Dr. Seuss books (that Christopher and Sarah will enjoy). Hannah's favorite part of the present was ripping the tissue paper apart.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday

So I'm a little late to wish everyone a Happy Easter via the blogosphere...

We started Holy Week with a Good Friday service of Tenebrae, where we remembered the night of Jesus' betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. That's probably one of my favorite services, 2nd only to the glory of Resurrection Sunday's celebration.

I was particularly moved by one of the songs that the choir sang called, "Oh, to See the Dawn: The Power of the Cross", by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us.
Took the blame, bore the wrath -
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees,
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
‘Finished!’ the victory cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death,
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

(Final chorus)
This, the power of the cross:
Son of God - slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Even though this very somber service ends in darkness and silence, we walk out remembering the cost that Christ paid for us with the hope of His resurrection on the 3rd day. It makes the Easter Sunday service all the more glorious and joyful.

I love singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" on Easter Sunday, but I get very frustrated when I can't seem to get through all of the stanzas without choking up! I was doing fine this past Sunday until we got to,

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the Cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

I mean, that's the part of the song that you just want to belt out with all that you've got, and I might have well been a puddle on the floor at that point because I could barely speak the words. It made me wonder at the promise in Revelation 21 that there would be no more tears in the New Heavens and New Earth, and at the same time we're told that Christ Himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes. I cannot imagine being face to face with the risen Christ, seeing Him in all of His glory along with the wounds that still mark His body on my behalf, knowing more clearly and fully how utterly sinful and undeserving I am to be in His presence, and yet how unconditionally loved and accepted I am through Christ...and not having a flood of tears over all of this! I guess that's what Paul means when he says that our present sufferings are like a drop in the bucket compared with the eternal weight of glory that awaits us.

So Holy Week for us was wonderful (albeit very busy and time consuming for John) and gave us yet another taste of heaven.

Right after the Good Friday service, we added another thing to John's plate and sent him off to the airport to pick up my mom who was flying in for the weekend. The pictures that follow were all taken on Sunday, before and after church. (By the way, if you click on the pictures you'll get an enlargement of each).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eating the Forbidden Fruit

If it seems that we speak too much about Christopher it's because so many funny things come out of this child's mouth.
Tonight during family worship I was quizzing Christopher on his catechisms. We'd learned a whole bunch of newer questions in the past few weeks so I thought I'd go back and review some of the older ones that we hadn't revisited in a while.
Q#33 - What was the sin of our first parents?
Christopher answered, "Eating the fruit of the Spirit."
Guess we need to review some more...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Christopher the evangelist

I have an amusing story from this afternoon that involves our son, who in certain situations, can be remarkably bold. We were all sitting outside in our front yard after chit-chatting with our neighbors when Christopher noticed a lady pushing a baby in a stroller toward us from across the street. He yelled, "Hey! You can come over here and talk to us!" and repeated himself a couple times until she acknowledged him. She eventually stopped in front of us and we engaged in some small talk with her about her baby and whatnot, when Christopher loudly interrupted, "Well, do you know Jesus and do you believe in Him?" I was so shocked at his boldness that I couldn't say anything, but she answered, "yes" and told us that she was at her church today.

There was another time shortly before Christmas that the woman who delivers our mail (Miss Darla) pulled up to our mailbox and Christopher said, "Merry Christmas." When she responded in kind, he then asked her, "Do you believe in Jesus?" She said she did and then asked him if he believed in Santa Claus. He looked a little confused by that question.

Then there was the time last summer when in the middle of his swimming lessons, Christopher said to his swim teacher, "Well, everybody is a sinner you know." We found out about this from his teacher, who thankfully is a believer and was not offended by his bold statement about humanity!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A bit surprised...

Here's another fun snapshot that was taken earlier the same day we received all of that snow...

For those of you unfamiliar with sonograms, that's a profile shot of the latest addition to the McCracken household. You can see the little eyes, nose and mouth facing upwards (on the left), the body to the right and the little hand above. Pretty amazing - and all of that is visible at 11.5 weeks gestation. And yes, we just found out about this little life less than a week prior to this sonogram!

I know some of the women reading this are thinking, "How on earth could you get to the end of your 1st trimester and not even suspect that you're pregnant??" Yeah, I'm wondering that too. I guess February was a pretty busy and distracting month with sick kids, sick mommy, traveling, busy schedules, etc. that I just kept dismissing the tell-tale symptoms as leftovers from the flu, not getting enough sleep, running ragged, and catching whatever the kids had. I actually did wonder a few times here and there, but then brushed it off as nothing since my symptoms were so inconsistent. Then last Thursday evening (not this past Thursday, but the one before) as I was sitting up in bed reading a book, I looked down at my tummy and noticed that it was a little rounder than usual. It was then that I started connecting the dots, realizing that I had actually been feeling rather lousy for over a month.

So the next day while John was at work and the kids were taking their naps, I took a test and it was as positive as it could be. After connecting all of the dots the night before, I knew it was going to be...but I was still pretty surprised and overwhelmed. I couldn't even bring myself to tell John until that evening after the kids were in bed. I started by saying, "Well, it's a good thing we got that minivan...because we're gonna need that extra seat." His head jolted upright, his eyes got as big as saucers and he said, "You're pregnant???"
"When did you find out?"
"This afternoon."
"But...I hadn't decided on whether or not I wanted a fourth yet."
"Um,'s a little late for that."
"'s not like I did this behind your back!"
Needless to say, he was even MORE surprised and overwhelmed. But after the initial shock wore off, he said, "Well, I guess I was leaning towards having a fourth...I just wanted a little more space between Hannah and the fourth! But obviously, this is God's will." Now that we've had several days of knowing go by, a sonogram that confirmed a healthy baby at nearly 12 weeks, and the excitement of sharing the news, we've all gotten a little giddy at the idea of having yet another baby in our Christmas family photo this year! My estimated due date is September 21st.

So there you have it. The cat's out of the bag, so why not post it on our blog? Hannah turns 1 year old by the end of this month, and I'll already be 3+ months pregnant. This baby and Hannah will be about 18 months apart. Christopher and Sarah were a little more than 19 months apart and I wouldn't change that age difference for anything because I love how close they are. So now Hannah will have a buddy as well. Of course, they're all pretty close in age - that's 4 kids in 5 years. We're very prolific...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

MORE snow!!!

Since we agree with our good friend Shelley in Atlanta that snow in the South is considered a "bloggable" event, we thought that receiving snowfall twice in one week was definitely blog-worthy! And would you believe that it was in the 70s here yesterday? That's Texas for ya. Today around noon, the Dallas-Fort Worth area began to receive a wintery mix of rain, sleet, and ice. Then around 2 p.m., the big flakes (or as we say down here, the BIG OLE FLAKES) began to really fall. This was great fun for the kids and quite a community event for our neighborhood! It was funny to see parents outside throwing snowballs with their kids, everybody taking pictures, and no one with proper snowsuits on, thoroughly enjoying this once-a-year event, if that.

Here is Sarah showing us her big snow ball.

I love this picture. John pointed out that I was taking pictures of them from the window and the kids started running towards me.

Daddy, Christopher & Sarah posing for this rare footage in the snow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Just when we thought we were going to go through the whole winter without seeing a single flake, last night the temperatures dropped and so did the sleet and then the snow. Thankfully, the ground was still covered by early morning for the kids to see and enjoy.

Here are two pictures taken last night while the snow was falling.

Guess we should have taken that umbrella down...

The kids were in more of a hurry to go outside and try this white stuff out than they were in eating breakfast.

Ah, but the lack of snowsuits deterred them from staying out in the snow too long. As soon as the snow seeped through their mittens and pants, they were ready to come back inside. I remember as a child growing up in PA, playing out in the snow until my cheeks were on the verge of being frostbitten. Granted, I had a snow suit, boots and waterproof gloves. It's just not worth investing in those items down here in Texas.

This is the time we got home from morning Bible study and lunch (about 1:30 p.m.), nearly all of the snow was melted. But there was just enough to build two miniature snowmen in our front flowerbed.

Hannah is a very quick learner...

I guess having 2 very active older siblings gives you lots of incentive to become mobile. I can remember being SO eager for Christopher to roll over, crawl, pull up, walk and all of that...and he was in absolutely no hurry. With hardly any encouragement from me (since more mobility for Hannah equals more chaos for me), Hannah has quickly learned to sit up by herself, scoot, crawl, pull up to stand on her knees, stand, and now walk while holding onto an activity walker. Pretty soon, I suppose she'll be walking with no help at all and eventually be able to climb all over the place as Sarah has learned.

The first video shows Hannah the day she consistently started pulling herself up to stand (Feb. 23rd).

The second video shows Hannah walking the entire length of the hall (yesterday, March 3rd). It was funny how it started - John just thought, 'I wonder what she'll do if I stand her behind this thing...' and then she was off to the races. Now, she cannot steer very well yet, so she gets incredibly frustrated when she runs into a wall or gets stuck. It's pretty funny.