Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eleven Months Old

So the big news this month is that Maryn is mobile! 3 weeks ago, she was still only sitting and reaching for things.  After 2 physical therapy appointments, she is now rolling, scooting, pivoting, moving from laying to a seated position, pulling up, getting on hands and knees, and CRAWLING!  It has been such a crazy whirlwind of development.  She is all over the place, and we are frantically figuring out child-proofing, setting boundaries, and rearranging our home.  It seems the exercises and direction from the therapist have really helped her; she is still a little behind on a few motor skills, so we'll have a few more appointments, but over all, she has made amazing progress.  We are so joyful!

One thing that the therapists always comment on is Maryn's intelligence.  She may be lagging in motor development, but apparently she's ahead in everything else.  She's very good at figuring out little mimicking and memory games, she's very curious and observant, and has a high level of social interaction.  She is such a fun baby!  We can't wait to see her little personality further develop.

Some fun things she's been doing lately are giving lots of kisses and hugs (she squeezes you and pats you on the back), blowing kisses, throwing her arms up for "touchdown", dancing and clapping with music (see video below - her favorite move is 'the twist'), using the signs for "more" and "all done", giving high fives, learning to point out body parts (nose, hair, mouth, etc), making a doggy panting sound ("what does a doggy say?"), moving toys in and out of containers, and turning pages in books.  She's also pointing to anything and everything, especially Momma, Dada, Graycie and lights.

Maryn still loves her Graycie.  She has started figuring out how to pet her (although we still have to watch her carefully so that she doesn't put poor Graycie in a death grip).  She has also started throwing Graycie's ball short distances for her to fetch; it is great fun for both of them and so cute!  They are best friends.  Graycie especially likes Maryn's meal times - she keeps the splat mat under the high chair clean for us.  :)

Speaking of food, Maryn is getting a little better about eating.  Maybe it's beacause she's burning more calories these days with all the moving around, but she's definitely eating larger quantities than she used to.  She hasn't gained much weight - we went in for a weight check today and she is 16.4 lbs (less than 3rd percentile); perhaps a growth spurt will follow her new motor skills and increased appetite.

So I'll do one more monthy update next month for the big 1 year mark, then not as frequently - maybe every 3 months for a while.  We can't believe it's almost been a year since Maryn was born!  Birthday plans are underway!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Anniversary Week

Our 5 year wedding anniversary was a couple of weeks ago, and since it seems like a big milestone, we decided to have "anniversary week" instead of just one day.  It was really fun!  We did at least one special thing each day for 7 days.  We had gift day, family dinner out day, zoo day, date day, watch our wedding video get the idea.  We are so thankful for the grace of God working in our marriage and for the gift of each other. Marriage just keeps getting better.  If the Lord wills, maybe we'll have anniversary month for our tenth anniversary!  :)

This was from our family dinner out - "5 years!"

Zoo day: the South Bend zoo was great!  Not so big that you can't get through the whole thing with a baby.  And the weather was beautiful.  Maryn's favorite animal was the leopard - it got really close to us.  

Date day: courtesy of our friend and babysitter Brette Smith!  We went bowling, played miniature golf, ate at a restaurant, went to an art museum, and got coffee.  It was great!!

Picture from the last day of anniversary week:

And a couple of wedding pics...aww:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Two days before turning 11 months old, Maryn started crawling. She has had a huge burst of development in the last 2 weeks. And she is even better now than in this video. It's a very slow, deliberate crawl and absolutely adorable! I'll do an 11 month update soon, but for now, it is with great celebration I present to you...crawling:

Friday, June 10, 2011


So this is really late...I haven't been a very good blogger lately.  But we went to Oklahoma in mid-May for a week and we had a great time!  We went to see Hannah graduate from high school (which I already blogged about) and then we got to spend lots of time with family.  It really was such a nice visit.  We didn't have anything big planned or have to be a thousand places at once, so it was low stress.  Maryn was a wonderful traveler.  We're pretty structured at home, so I'm always surprised by how flexible and adaptable she is in new situations.  And apparently she is quite the social butterfly, which is sometimes awkward for introverts like Billy and me.  But it's so cute to see her interact with people.  Of course, she had a blast seeing her grandparents, and was the center of attention.

We also got to go up to Norman and attend Trinity on Sunday morning.  We had lunch with a huge crew of friends afterward.  It was so nice to see everyone, but I wish we would have had time to visit more.  Later in the week, a few friends drove down from Norman to have dinner with us, which was really sweet of them.

We already miss you, Oklahoma!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Notre Dame: End of Year One

Kate has asked me to write a post describing what I do here at Notre Dame, which I think also means explain why I took Kate and Maryn away from Oklahoma to a place where it snows three-quarters of the year. So, here goes my first foray into the blogging world.

What Do I Study?
For those of you who may not know, I am a doctoral student in the history department at Notre Dame.  Broadly speaking, my field of study is early American history - the colonial period through the American Revolution - and I focus mainly on religion in North America. I could go on forever about my research interests (just ask Kate!), but it really boils down to this: I mainly study the “social history of theology” in the 18th century. “Social history of theology” is a phrase my advisor has used to describe his own work. So what does it mean? It means that I am interested in the ways that social and political events affected Protestant evangelicals and their ideas about God, the Bible, and the world. My work so far has investigated how events like the earthquakes in Cape Ann, Massachusetts and Lisbon, Portugal (both in November 1755) shaped, challenged, and affirmed evangelical religious beliefs. Though I have not yet settled on a topic for my dissertation, I am leaning toward a study that explores the Anglo-French wars in North America from 1745-1763 and their effects on evangelical thought.

Why Notre Dame?
In my opinion, the University of Notre Dame is one of the best places in the nation to study American religious history.  It has been home to a number of important scholars who have done amazing work both in history and in other fields.  One major reason I chose Notre Dame was so that I could work with my advisor, Dr. Mark Noll.  Professor Noll is the preeminent historian of religion in America, has authored & co-authored over thirty volumes on a broad range of topics, and in 2005 was named one of Time magazine’s “25 most important evangelicals in America.” I read one of his books (The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) when I was a sophomore in college and he has been an intellectual hero of mine ever since.   It has been an incredible experience working with him, and many of the other outstanding faculty members at ND.  I also get the opportunity here at ND to work with a number of talented graduate students whose interests cover a broad range of topics, periods, and geographic regions.

In front of "Touchdown Jesus" at the library.

What Do I Do?
The stack of books says it all; I read, read, and read some more.  I guess it doesn’t exactly say everything.  While I read a great deal, I also spend a large part of my time writing, meeting with professors and fellow grad students, attending lectures and departmental functions, as well as going to class.  And in the fall I’ll start teaching.  Here at ND, I typically take three graduate seminars per semester on various aspects of history and the historical profession.  Each class usually meets once a week and requires that students read books and articles, discuss the readings, and write several papers of varying lengths throughout the semester.  If I had to guess how much I read in a normal week, I would say anywhere from 1500 to 3000 pages and beyond.  It’s difficult to estimate how much I write a semester, but it’s usually around 100 pages or more.  Thank goodness I love to read and write! 

Some of the books I read this year

How Is It Going?
It has been a dream of mine for a long time to be here and it has surpassed all of my expectations.  After finishing my first academic year, I can’t fully describe how much I’ve enjoyed my time at Notre Dame.  The department is wonderful and the community of graduate students is truly spectacular.  Even in the short amount of time that I’ve been here I feel like I have grown a great deal as a historian on the make.  The course work has been really intense and I have been stretched quite a bit, but have made it through successfully thanks to God’s faithfulness and His sustaining grace, the love and support I receive everyday from Kate and Maryn, and the wonderful relationships we’ve developed at our church, Fulkerson Park.  All in all, Notre Dame has been a great place to work and it is starting to feel more and more like home.  Of course, we constantly miss our friends and family back in Oklahoma.

What’s Next?
Every Ph.D. student must pass an exam in at least one foreign language, so this summer I will be learning how to read French.  I only have one more year of course work (yay!) and then I move on to comprehensive exams.  After passing that phase, I will (Lord willing) move on to the dissertation research and writing process.  But as for now, I will enjoy spending some much-needed time relaxing with Kate and Maryn – and Graycie, of course.

Hopefully that helps give you a sense of why we’re here and what I do.  I cannot overstate just how much support I receive from my wonderful wife, who is my greatest encourager, dearest friend, and most-trusted editor.  With much patience and grace she also serves as a sounding board for all of my preliminary ideas about history.  Having a baby in graduate school has been a major adjustment too.  As the picture shows, Maryn helps me read and lets me know when it’s time to take play breaks.  After spending the largest part of my day dwelling on the past, Maryn’s welcomed interruptions are always a joyful reminder of the importance of the present and the future.