Thursday, November 8, 2007

Christmas Forest

So Amy and I moved into a new house recently. We really like it, and are looking forward to having family over for the holiday gatherings. The previous owner left us a number of things in the form of small decorative shelves on the wall, towels in one of the bathrooms, flower pots, and even a wall rack to hold several candles. Those are all great, but the strangest thing he left was not found until we had been in the house for a while and started to organize and move things to the attic space. What did I find up there? I found six, 6, VI, yes six!, 4′-6″ pre-lit artificial Christmas trees in their boxes!

What does one do with six small Christmas trees? I have absolutely no idea! But here is where our readers come in: I want ideas on what to do with them this holiday season. I can’t think of anything very original or creative, but I’m sure he had something in mind when he bought them. Then again, he left them behind, so maybe not. But what should we do with them? Ignoring the option to leave them in their boxes and sell them (which is not out of the question…), what kinds of ideas can we come up with?

So, let it rip! Any and all ideas welcome!

(Editor's note: Comments were lost in the migration to Blogger)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

One man’s trash…

So, dear readers, what do you do with old books and CD's that you don't need to read again or don't want anymore? Garage sale? Half-price books? Pitch them? Trade them with a friend? That last one sounds nice, but who has friends that want the very books or music we don't want anymore?

Well, thanks to the world wide web, you can! I stumbled upon two sites last week that really jazzed me, and having tried them, I'm only more jazzed now than I was then.

<REFERRAL DISCLAIMER:> Let me say right up front that if you use the links below and sign up, giving us credit for the referral, we get a free credit on the site you sign up for. However, that's not the reason I'm posting this. If you don't want to give us the referral, that's fine. I just want people to check out the site and realize what a cool system they have set up! <END REFERRAL DISCLAIMER>

So, what are these sites? and

What are they?

These are sites where you list any books, whether paperback, hardcover, audio, or whatever ( or CD's ( that you own but are willing to give away. When someone requests one of the books (for example) on your list, you mail it (typically Book Rate for $2-$3) to the member who wants it. When they get it, they mark it received and you get a credit. Then you can use that credit to request any book listed in their system and the owner ships it to you for free! The same goes for CD's except the shipping is cheaper and the site charges $0.49 per CD that you request. In all it works out to about $1 per CD, half when you mail one and half when you request one.

So what's the catch? Well, I suppose the catch is that, similar to Half Price Books, the selection changes all the time and you can only order what is currently listed by another member. There are currently over 1.6 million books and something like 76 thousand CD's, though the CD site is newer and still growing. However, you can search their entire catalog and add books and CD's that are not listed to your wish list. If a member lists one of your wished for items, you have the chance to request it at that point. In fact, of the 12 books and 20 CD's we initially listed, three books and three CD's were on members' wish lists and were snapped up as soon as we listed them. In a week, we have already mailed seven books out, have received one, and two more are in the mail to us. We just joined the CD site today, so I can't estimate the activity there.

So, as I said before, this really jazzes me. The ability to trade a book or CD you don't want for one you do want, without paying markup for someone in the middle (not that middle men are not useful at times) is great, and is just the kind of thing that is perfect for the world wide web. The "friction" costs in each book transaction (shipping, etc) are low compared to the difference between what you get for selling a book at a garage sale or used book store and what you would pay for a book at a used or new book store. The CD costs are even better.

So, all that to say - Check it out! If you are an avid reader or music buff, this might just be the next best thing to sliced cheese.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Giving money back

God's timing is a funny thing. So often he brings us into situations which test our faith just as we are learning and studying that very aspect of faith. Such is the case in the last few months as Amy and I have been praying about and working through the finances as we prepared for a move into a new hous, not to mention helping to lead a Crown Ministries small group at our church. Three times in the last few months, we have been presented with situations in which we were given money that we should not have been given, and each time it has been both harder and easier to give the money back.

The first situation was a case with a Health Savings Account at work. Because we are on a high deductible health plan, my employer's share of the premiums for my covereage has gone down (as has my part of the premiums) and in return, they make a generous contribution to our HSA to be used towards the higher deductible. They made that contribution in January, as detailed in the plan literature, but then made a duplicate contribution in June. After waiting a pay cycle to see if the mistake would be corrected without my intervention, it took four phone calls and several hours of my time to convince people that we should not have been given that money, and to please take it back.

That was finally resolved and my account showed the adjustment, only to show another employer contribution a few days later! I again waited to make sure I was not just seeing an echo of the first adjustment or something that would shake out in the wash. After realizing it would not go away, I again called and started the process of letting them know that they had erroneously contributed too much to my HSA.

In the meantime, I got an email letting me know that my cell phone company had received my rebate request and was processing the information for my $400 rebate. The problem is, I only applied for a $100 rebate - $50 per phone for two phones. I try to avoid rebates, but the corporate buying website had a better price on the phones than the carrier's direct sales channel even before the rebate, so the rebate was just gravy anyway. But now it looked like a whole flood of gravy instead of just a nice dollop.

Well, I waited, figuring that their automated systems might have mis-stated something and maybe the cap was $400. Maybe they quoted that amount by default and then would get the correct amount when they actually looked at my paperwork. Maybe not...

I'm still waiting for my employer to straighten out the HSA because apparently whoever adjusted it the first time made a right mess of things in terms of the tax reporting systems, etc. That may take a while. In the meantime, a rebate check for $400 arrived in the mail. I called my cell phone carrier this morning and spent 30 minutes on the phone explaining that my rebate was too big (they weren't quite sure what to do with my wanting to give money back...) After making sure I knew that it was "just" a matter of integrity, and that there was nothing printed on the check about them chasing me for an incorrect rebate, they transferred me to the rebate group (actually a separate company) who was quite happy to stop payment on the first check and request a new check for the correct (smaller) amount, to be mailed within 15 business days...

I suppose some folks might read this and think I'm crazy. If you're asking why I'm doing this, and why I didn't "Go on, take the money and run", the answer is a pursuit of honesty and integrity in my life as a result of God's holiness and love. I honestly had to ask myself how much effort was too much effort to go through to give this money back. But I had to try, because the bottom line is that it was not my money. It is not even my employer's or my cell phone carrier's. It all belongs to God, and He would have me be an honest steward of it.

Be holy, for I am holy.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than he who is crooked though he be rich.

Like I said at the beginning, it wasn't easy, and it didn't mean I didn't think about what I could have done with that money. It would have been easy to justify keeping it and considering it "an unexpected blessing." But, as I work through what it means to really be a wise steward, to hold losely what is not mine (which is everything), and to seek to serve God with all that he has put in my management, I have to say that those justifications would have been empty, and would have come from a feeling of needing to provide for myself rather than rest in faith on God's provision and holiness. I pray Sydney and Peter will learn the same lessons, and maybe even go through less pain to get there than I have over the years.

(Note: Comments lost in the migration to Blogger)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This just in - Christians believe in Christianity

So I'm reading a news site and I see a headline titled Coulter: Jews Need to Be Perfected with a subtitle of "Columnist's comments about Jews, that America would be better off if we all were Christian, stun cable talk show" The article starts off with "Slash-and-burn columnist Ann Coulter shocked a cable TV talk-show audience Monday when she declared that Jews need to be 'perfected' by becoming Christians, and that America would be better off if everyone were Christian."

Reading the transcript of the interview, I am more shocked by Mr. Deutsch's apparent incredulity that a Christian (Ms. Coulter) would believe that the world would be better off if everyone were a Christian. What?!?! You believe you are right?!?! And you think everyone else should have faith in the same Savior who died for your sins to provide forgiveness and peace with God?!?!? But what about all those other ways to reach God?!?! What!?!? Sure, Jesus says he is the only way, but you're "too educated" to believe something like that!

I realize that, for many, suggesting anything as shocking as the idea that the Jewish faith is wrong on national TV (in America, no less) is equivalent to declaring there was no holocaust, or that there should not be a Jewish state in the middle east. Notice from the transcript that Mr. Deutsch actually inferred that Ann Coulter was proposing wiping Israel off the face of the map...

Now, I'm not saying that Ann Coulter expressed her opinion in a way that was clear and concise, or that she defended her statements well. Of course, I've only read the transcript, and didn't see the dialog unfold, so I'm not going to attack too stridently. She might have taken time to provide more context. She might have pointed out that many religions (including Judaism) believe they are the only true faith. She might have pointed out that a failure to want everyone else to have that true faith is equivalent to wanting others to be misled and spend the afterlife in a place other than the one in which the believer is wanting to spend the afterlife. But of course that would not have done anything to diminish Mr. Deutsch's accusations of anti-Semitism or equating Ms. Coulter to President Ahmadinejad.

In the end it's just a reaction to the belief that there is objective truth, right and wrong, and a God who has revealed Himself and provided one way to salvation. And as such, it's certainly nothing new under the sun, even if Mr. Deutsch is "too educated" to know better.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nine wonderful years

Nine years ago today, Amy became Mrs. Bredenberg. Or Mrs. Dr. Bredenberg. Or Dr. Mrs. Bredenberg. Or… whatever…

The point is, I want to say Happy Anniversary to my wonderful wife! Thank you for the all of the love and hard work. I pray God blesses us with many, many more wonderful years together.

I love you, sweetheart!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Define Satisfaction…

Do you enjoy getting phone calls asking you to give your feedback on customer satisfaction? Does anyone enjoy these? I suppose if I had an axe to grind, I might relish the opportunity to give feedback, but most of the time it is just plain annoying.

Why is it then, that the Volkswagen dealership where we take our car for service feels a compulsion, bordering on obsession, to get our feedback every single time we have the car in for any type of service? If we take it in for warranty work, they call to get our opinion. If we take it in for regularly scheduled maintenance, they call until we relent and give them our input. Even the odd oil change when timing and convenience leads us to take it there rather than a local shop triggers a barrage of phone calls that has begun to cause paranoia in yours truly. I know their caller id listing. They call me at work, they call my cell phone, they call at home. When I walk by a phone booth and it rings, I break into a run…

I mean really, what’s so hard about this? I obviously keep coming back. Does that sound like dissatisfaction to you? If I ever decide to go elsewhere, one of the reasons I’ll list is the terribly annoying phone calls. Sure, I could answer them the first time and get them off my back, but really, I have better things to do while at work than to pick up the phone and answer, on a scale of 1 to 5, 20 questions covering topics such as how easy it was to make an appointment, how clean the lobby was when I picked up my car, and whether the music playing at the cashier’s booth was pleasing or not…

Maybe the next time they call, I will pick up the phone, ask them not to call me anymore, and tell them that if I get another call from their silly customer satisfaction survey folks, I’ll never set foot in the dealership again.

Can I get an amen, or have I gone off the deep end?

More wisdom of Sydney

Passing on something humorous that Sydney has said is always one of my favorite reasons to write on this site. In fact, I could really do that almost every day, but some gems stand out and just have to be posted no matter what else is going on. So here goes…

I was driving with Sydney the other day and the sun had set by the time we started home. It was one of those days on which she had fallen asleep during her quiet time and so bedtime was later than usual. In addition, I wanted to give Amy a few minutes to breathe at the end of the day, so Sydney got to join me for some late errands. As we drove home, Sydney commented that it was dark outside. I agreed with her and, recalling other conversations where she linked darkness with the Sun going down, I asked her why it was dark. Her response?

"Because… For God’s own glory!"

Now who’s going to argue with that?

You may recognize that as the answer to the kids’ catechism question that asks why God made all things.

I can tell that Sydney is really starting to work at figuring out God’s place in her world, as His name comes up more frequently when she’s reaching for an answer. The other day I asked Sydney (as happens entirely too often in our new house as we organize and get settled) not to get a particular item down on her own, and to ask Mommy or Daddy if she wanted to use this item (I can’t even remember what it was…).

Her response was to look at me and say "Or I can ask God." Umm… well… no. I mean yes, but no! Yes, we ask God for many things during our prayer times, but… In the end I just said "No, you have to ask Mommy or Daddy." I can see God becoming the equivalent of an imaginary friend who authorizes any behavior for which Sydney feels the need to blame someone. But boy, did she throw me for a loop when she dished that one up!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Settling in

Yes, we’re settling in to our new house! Despite a few issues last week, everything ended well, and we had time to clean up the old house and get it ready for its new owner before the handover on Friday.

The biggest snag was that the movers did not show up on Wednesday as had been agreed upon over the phone. When I called them to see where they were, they said they had us on the books for Thursday, and that there was no way they could scratch a crew up to get us moved Wednesday. I don’t think they entirely believed that they had made a mistake, they were so confident that their notes had to be complete and accurate. But, we made the best of it (after Amy convinced me not to rent a truck and do it myself…) and spent Wednesday organizing what we had already moved to the house ourselves and moving a few more things so we could spend the night there as we had planned. I also took the opportunity to wire the key areas of the house for our network so we’d be up and running once Verizon paid a visit on Thursday. Between a surprisingly comfortable air mattress, a stack of blankets and pillows for Sydney, and a pack-n-play for Peter, we enjoyed the night in the new, almost entirely empty house.

Thursday morning the movers showed up, and in no time flat (they said we were their favorite move of the week because we had things so well organized, dressers emptied, crib disassembled, etc) they had us loaded and we were off to the new house. Amy and a friend from church went to the old house that night to clean up while I moved over all of the computer equipment and network gear.

Let me stop here and just say that we had a tremendous amount of help with this move, none more appreciated than all the time my Mom selflessly gave both watching the kiddos while we moved as well as helping Amy unpack and get the new house ready to live in. We couldn’t have made this move without her! A handful of folks from church also helped us with the things we did not want the professional movers to handle as well as all the prep work on the old and new houses. And our first houseguest, Matt Reichenbach, was pressed into service this weekend on a number of tasks such as getting the garage organized and ready to park a car in. He didn’t complain once! Our heartfelt thanks to you all!

The new owner of our old house made a comment that "moving is a lot of work, and not fun!" While I heartily agree with that comment as it affects packing, moving, and cleaning, I have to say that unpacking and arranging things in our new house has been fun, though still a lot of work. We love the new house and the extra room it affords, and it has been fun to think about and execute on an organization scheme that does not require as much creative use of space (think kids’ clothing and toys…)

I hope to put up some "before and after" pictures to compare the two houses, but since we didn’t think to take fresh pictures of the old house before we moved, I’ll have to go back through my files and dig out pictures we took when painting, etc. In the meantime, we’d love to have more visitors! We had our small group study over last night, and we’ll be having our church fellowship group over this Friday for dinner, followed by some friends and their kids on Saturday morning. If that doesn’t indoctrinate the new house, I’m not sure what will!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Housing update

Well, dear readers, a few more days and we will be in our new house! We closed yesterday on the sale of our current house and the purchase of our new house, and we will be moving everything out tomorrow and cleaning things up to hand over the keys on Friday.

There is so much I could say about the process, the people we have dealt with, and the excitement of being in a new place. We already have a list of projects and improvements for which we will be saving our lunch money. We even have our first visitor lined up for this weekend! A friend who is in town from DC for a conference stayed with us last weekend as the last visitor in our old house, and he'll be back this weekend as the first visitor in our new house.

While much of the house will still be in various stages of being unpacked and settled into, one feature will be ready for immediate use and will most likely receive a lot of attention as we relax and take breaks from the all the work in front of us. What is that feature, you ask? The Pool Table!!!

Yes, I feel like a kid in a candy store! Since high school I have dreamed of owning a pool table, and the day my residential college bought a pool table for the commons area was a giant leap for my free time (though a small step backwards for my studies)! Clearly, it is not easy to fit a pool table in to an apartment, or even a house the size of our first home, so I had to bide my time. The dream waited quietly, yearning for the day it could awaken and find enough loose change under the cushions of the sofa to become a reality. This new house, however, has a game room for which we currently have no furniture. This poor room would sit empty and alone but for the fact that the seller of the house had a pool table (a nice one, from all I can tell) up there that he did not want to go to the trouble of moving. End result? Free pool table for the Bredenbergs, and the dream lives! (Commence happy dance!)

Between the table and a treadmill we have been offered by family members, the game room will at least not be totally empty.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I'm practical enough to realize that we won't always have the luxury of using that space for the pool table, and at some point as our family grows we will likely turn that into a bedroom or additional usable living area. For now, however, I'll bask in the warm glow from the neon beer signs and the velvet artwork involving dogs playing poker and enjoy my pool table.

Ok, ok, there are not and will never be neon signs or velvet art in there, but you get the idea. One thing that might show up at some point is one of these. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What, you’re still here?

So I think that with this last 2-month silence on our site, most of our readers have probably headed for greener pastures. I may be writing this for my own benefit…

But if anyone is reading this, know that we have lots of stories to tell from the last two months, and that we fully intend to post them and try to get caught up.

In the meantime, I’ll give you a teaser of what has been going on. Yesterday evening, we signed a contract to sell our house! Anyone who has gotten their house on the market and sold it will appreciate the time demands of that kind of effort. I’ll provide more details soon, but we were truly blessed in that we only had four showings in the three days it was on the market before an offer was made and accepted, and three of those four were visits by the party that ended up making the offer! The inspection is happening today, and if all goes well, we’ll be homeless soon. Well, in a manner of speaking… obviously we’re looking for a house to buy…

We’ll miss our first house and all the work we lovingly put into it over the years. It is very gratifying to see it snapped up by someone who loves it and likes the way we painted/decorated/landscaped. Small as our backyard is, we will miss the welcoming environment it became over the years with loving care and our collective green thumb.

It is exciting, though, to go out looking for something bigger to hold our family as it grows. And yes, both Sydney and Peter are growing. We have not found a Pause button anywhere on Peter to keep him infant-sized, and he’s already making great strides in flipping himself over, making noises, reaching for toys to put into his mouth, etc. His lungs are also developing well, as is the temper he graces us with from time to time for seemingly unknown reasons. For the most part, though, he is an easy little guy who loves to smile and who, Amy swears, laughed the other day for the first time.

Meanwhile Sydney is learning and watching everything and wants to have every conversation repeated so she can understand it. She is the most social little girl I have ever seen, and she had a blast directing the painters who came to do some work we didn’t have time to get done before our agreed upon deadline for putting the house on the market. She is still in that rough stage between taking a nap and really being able to make it through the day without one, but since a nap causes her to stay up until 9 or 10 before she can fall asleep, it is the rare day that we end up turning her “quiet time” into a nap and dealing with the ramifications.

We are still proceeding with a second adoption for a third little Bredenberg, but at this point the most accurate we can be on the timing is “sometime next year.” Our paperwork has been in China for over a year and a half, but the process has slowed down so much that we’re just waiting and watching to see when a referral might be coming our way.

Well, that’s about all I can say without spoiling some of the individual stories we want to tell here soon. Now that the house preparations and showings are over, we hope to have a little more time to sit and relax and think about things we’ve been neglecting for a while, so come back soon for more!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sydney’s Spanish

I am ashamed to say that despite studying Spanish in elementary school and college (both in Houston, by the way), my comprehension of the language is meager, and my ability to speak it is as close to non-existent as it gets beyond the few dozen words I still remember. I wish the schools (elementary and beyond) I had attended after moving away from Houston had kept up the Spanish classes, but I guess the farther north you get, the less value is placed on it…

Amy, on the other hand, has a better excuse for not knowing Spanish, as she grew up in states bordering Canada as opposed to Mexico. She does, however, have a great desire to learn the language beyond the "medical Spanish" she picked up during her residency.

All that is to explain why (after years of talking about it) we picked up the Rosetta Stone software as a Christmas present to each other this past Christmas. In the last week or so, we have finally started the lessons (when both children are asleep at the same time) and are learning a few words and phrases, though obviously we are still just getting our toes wet. Part of our desire to learn Spanish, though, is to be able to teach Sydney as she grows. She has discovered Dora the Explorer, and has some books that introduce a few Spanish words. She knows that the Spanish word for "Thank-you" is "glackias" for example. And "Please" is "Por Pabor". Not bad for a 3-year-old…

So yesterday we were having lunch at a Tex-Mex restaurant after church, and we decided to get sopapillas after lunch as a special treat and introduce Sydney to them. We taught her the word, and she would say parts of it slowly, trying to string it together. Then Amy encouraged her to "now say it really fast". To which her response was a big smile, followed by "really FAST!"

Perhaps we need to cover pronouns and antecedents next…

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Peter is now 7 weeks old, and he has started showing smiles that actually look intentional as opposed to those that you suspect are the result of discomfort or just the brain trying to figure out how to control all those muscles in the face. Below are a few examples as well as some that are just cute pictures.

And just so that everyone doesn't think we only take photos of Peter these days, here is one of Sydney being snuggly with Savannah. Given her natural tendencies, I give Savannah a lot of credit for staying put and receiving the affection rather than bugging out and hiding under the table like she usually does when Sydney comes calling!

Peter Smiles

Peter Smiles

Peter Profile

Peter Sleeps

Sydney and Savannah

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Today is my beloved wife's birthday. Join me in a round of "Happy Birthday"...

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to...

Hey, you in the back, no lip syncing!

At any rate, Amy is another year beautiful today, and I couldn't be more in love with her! I wish I could whisk her away for a romantic getaway with just the two of us. Oh yeah, and Peter, who can't be away from Amy for more than a few hours for nutritional reasons. Oh, and I guess Sydney wants to be included since Peter is along. And we might as well bring both dogs and maybe an in-law or two just for good measure, because that's just how much "Alone Time" we seem to be getting these days. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm just looking forward to a day when I can focus on Amy again and devote time to her the way she deserves.

Take this morning, for example. I woke up early (relatively speaking, given the thunderstorms which kept Sydney awake last night and Peter's erratic schedule) to make Amy breakfast. Amy of course was just finishing with Peter and was trying to get him to go back to sleep so she could grab another hour or so before starting the day. Before I could even get to the kitchen, though, Sydney woke up (a good hour early even if she hadn't been up in the middle of the night crying over the thunder). Fortunately for us, she is perfectly happy to stay in her room every once in a while and play semi-quietly. I tell her it's not time for Mommy and Daddy to wake up yet, and she seems okay with that...

So anyway, once I got Sydney settled and started breakfast, Peter made it known that he was also up for the morning and was having none of this "going back to sleep" business. Amy tried to quiet him and took him to our room to await the breakfast that I promised was coming...

I finally got breakfast ready and managed to get it all on a tray and into the bedroom, where naturally Peter was determined to be held and cried when we tried to put him down. I changed his diaper and held him while Amy ate and then she fed me my breakfast over Peter's fussings. I then let her take the first shower of the day while I got Peter to go back to sleep (he'd been up for an hour and was naturally exhausted... if only his schedule hadn't been shifted he'd have slept through breakfast...). By then, of course, it was 7:30 and Sydney was ready to come out and play, the dogs needed to be walked, and the whole house was in full motion for the day.

I can hear you all now thinking "Wow, what a romantic breakfast... not!"

But hey, at least there was leftover French toast and sausage for Sydney so we didn't have to work hard to get her fed!

This is an experience that I'm sure is common to all parents, but the memories of birthdays that started quietly at 9:30am instead of loudly at 6:30 are still fresh in my head. Can you relate?

All that to say, though, Happy Birthday Amy! I love you, and would do it all over again to be able to serve you breakfast in bed. Maybe next time we'll catch the kids sleeping...

Friday, May 11, 2007


I've been stricken today with a culmination of somber thoughts that have been forming and developing for the past few years. I'm not sure I can do them all justice, but you would probably be wise to continue only if you have the fortitude to consider some emotional topics.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Peter’s First Month

Sydney and Peter

Peter will be a month old in a few days, and the time is flying by! Below are photos of Peter at 5 days old and just over 3 weeks.

You may or may not be able to tell that he is starting to put on a little chub around the cheeks and chin, though his arms and legs are still (in my words) little chicken wings with no meat on them. He regained his birth weight before the 2-week mark and is continuing to grow, but every time I pick him up I am amazed at how small and light he is. He does seem to be growing, but I think it is mostly that he is stretching out his arms and legs instead of keeping them tucked in close to his body. Then again, my mother likes to remind me that I weighed 18 pounds by the time I was three months old, so he may take after his dear old dad and start really bulking up!

Peter at 5 days

Peter at 3+ weeks

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cherishing the Rest

Peter Resting

Yes, it has been a while since we posted. And yes, it's attributable to the adjustments going on in our schedule with Peter. He slept well, and then he didn't. He nursed well, and then he didn't. And then he did, again...

Overall, he has really been doing very well, but he's not even 2 weeks old, so what else could we expect?

I know this is nothing new to parents who have had newborns, but it is a first for us. It has been nice to be home to help Amy while soaking up time with both Sydney and Peter, though I do have to go back to work at some point. The folks from church who have brought us meals may not have any idea how helpful they have been. Actually, I guess all of them have been through this at least once themselves, so maybe they do. Just let me say "Thank you!" here for all to see, and know that you have helped us get over some of the early hurdles until we get this thing called a routine worked out.

Well, that's all I have time to say. Three of the four people in this house are asleep right now, and I think I'm going to add to that number before it starts dropping again. That's actually what got me to post in the first place, looking back at our photos of Peter and seeing the above picture of him sleeping so peacefully. Those moments are priceless, are they not?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Many people have been asking how Sydney is adjusting to being a big sister and having us occupied with her little brother. The answer is that she has done wonderfully! She loves to see him when he is awake, and tiptoes around whispering when he is sleeping (when she's not singing at the top of her lungs, which is par for the course!) She loves to pat and kiss his head, to "shush" him and say "that's okay" when he cries, and his toys (which are mostly her old toys, naturally) are exciting and new as she talks about "Baby Peter" wanting to play with them.

The best part of all of this is that she is still a growing little girl who is constantly learning, listening, and surprising us with her abilities. For the first time today (since I'm usually working) I took her to a gym class that she attends each week with a number of other little boys and girls. Her physical aptitude and dexterity amazed me as I saw them for the first time in an environment where she could really run freely and let it all hang out.

She amazed me yesterday too, in a very different setting. While having lunch a bit on the late (and tired) side, I was trying to keep her on task (turkey and cheese, if I recall correctly) when she began staring at me intently. After a moment that I attributed to fatigue, she pointed at my sweatshirt and said "Ar... One... See... (pause) Emma!"

Not impressed?

I realized as she was pausing before the "Emma" that she was staring at my RICE sweatshirt! She spontaneously, and for the first time Amy or I knew about, was starting to spell out what she saw with the letters she knows. I can't fault her for thinking the "I" was a "1", and I was truly tickled when she didn't know the name of the letter "E" and instead used a word (the name of her cousin, in this case) that started with the letter. After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I lavished praise on her for a while and walked her through some more letters while she beamed in recognition of her achievement.

Parents out there will surely recognize my pride, which was naturally enhanced by the fact that she chose the name of my alma-mater to spell first. I guess it's a good thing I didn't go to someplace like Gonzaga or Rensselaer, or that my sweatshirt didn't say "The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art!"

I can't believe how fun childhood is!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Warm and snug at home

Amy, Sydney, Peter, and I are all warm and snug at home again, after what seems like ages.

I don't have any new pictures yet, but wanted to let everyone know we are home and really glad to be all together as a family again. I'll post some new pictures of everyone soon.

Thanks for all the kind comments and well-wishes!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Peter Hudson Bredenberg!

Peter Hudson Bredenberg was born yesterday, April 12, at 9:45 a.m.!

Weighing in at 6 lbs 5.7 oz, and measuring 20.5 inches long, he is doing wonderfully and is a delight to all of us already. Amy is doing very well, recovering nicely from the process and hoping to come home tomorrow from the hospital. She did an amazing job under very different circumstances than we had imagined, and I couldn't be prouder of her.

I am floored at God's mercy and blessing, and in awe of the little tiny baby he has knit together and brought into this world! We are both so thankful for the many people praying for Peter's well-being and Amy's health and safety through the whole pregnancy and delivery. Both of our children are such clear testaments to God's amazing providence and blessing, and we just want everyone to join us in shouting from the hills that we serve a mighty and loving God!

Read on for more details and photos...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things that should induce labor…

I'm sure everyone reading this who has either been pregnant or has been waiting for a little one to arrive in this world has been told a million and one things that can naturally induce labor. I know there is at least one website devoted to listing ideas for naturally inducing. Things like:

  • Brisk walks
  • Spicy foods

  • and yes, even
  • curb-walking

Obviously, whatever ideas Amy and I have tried so far have not made any progress towards triggering the labor of our little one. I've come up with a second list though, this one of things that I wish would induce labor:
  • Long naps (like I need an excuse!)
  • Ice Cream (mmmm...)
  • People calling to see if we have gone into labor yet (we've gotten enough of those to trigger labor for an entire hospital full of expecting mommies!)

Those are just a few of the things on my list, but I would really like to know what kinds of things our readers have either done to induce labor, or wish would induce labor, so comment away! Just remember to keep it family-friendly!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Open Season on Comments

Now that WordPress is in place, I have two plugins to protect against junk comments (i.e.- SPAM!). As a result, all posts on the site are open to comments again!

Under MovableType, I simply closed each post to comments after 14 days because that was about how long it took the SPAM engines to find them and start littering them with objectionable material. With WordPress, it says in fine print that we can use a little less brute force and a lot more finesse to achieve the same result.

Keep reading for more details...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Wordpress in Action

Ok, that's it... we're giving this a whirl. I still have not worked out all the kinks to get things "Just right", but finding time for that gets less and less likely each passing day, and I want to get this going!

So, welcome to my site on Wordpress! I decided to do a "makeover" at the same time as the cutover from the no-longer free MovableType to the open-source Wordpress, hence the new look. Let me know if you hit any snags. I had to patch a few files to fix some odd behavior that was killing my Apache server for reasons unknown, but the latest version of the affected functions seems to be working. I'll keep making tweaks and adjustments in the near future, but about 90% of the work is done.


Sydney and Amy Photos

Tomorrow is Sydney's third birthday! We can't believe she's getting so big, and I know I haven't done a good job of posting periodic photos, so here are a few from a recent trip to the Dallas Arboretum and a morning shave! In addition, there is a photo of Amy since so many people who are far away have asked to see a picture of her pregnant.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Define "Due"

Guess what everyone! Amy is officially 40 weeks today! That's right, today is our technical "due date". So, um, what's that supposed to REALLY mean? I mean, our little boy hasn't shown any signs of wanting to come out yet. Amy hasn't felt any contractions or other indications of impending labor. In fact, the teacher of our childbirth classes said the average first time pregnancy without intervention (induction, c-section, etc) runs around 41.5 weeks. So what's all the fuss about a due date?!

Amy and I are planning to go to the park tonight with Sydney and enjoy the outdoors if possible. Amy has been gardening and we've been going through all of the Spring routines like the first mowing, feeding the lawn, weeding, etc. Naturally I have kept Amy from doing anything that might overdo it, and we have recruited family members to help with some things, but I think the rest of the family is on pins and needles more than we are. We get a number of calls each day asking how things are (as if we wouldn't call our family members to let them know... ;-) But I'm sure that's just natural excitement, and I appreciate the care and concern. Basically, we're just hanging out and waiting. The overnight bags are packed for the hospital, the arrangements are made, now we just wait. Which brings me back to my question - why do they call it a "Due Date?" Can my bills be "due" like this? I'll call the mortgage company and tell them "Yeah, my payment should be there sometime this month. It could be this week, could be next..." Not sure they'd go for that...

So perhaps there's a better term to use. Maybe "Arbitrarily Chosen With No Input From Your Child Date?"


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sonogram of "Baby Brother"

Yesterday we had a sonogram done of "Baby Brother". Though the reason for the sono stemmed from concerns on the part of our OB, everything looks fine, and we even came away with a portrait of our little boy!

It's not the clearest thing in the world, but if you look just left of center, you'll see him looking out at the world!


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Gotcha Day Photos

Hey, I was supposed to post some photos of Sydney from Gotcha Day last week! Where does the time go?

We had a great day on Gotcha Day, between having lunch as a family at Pei Wei and the fingerpainting and other general silliness we came up with in the evening after I got home! But the photos will tell the story better than I can:

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Gotcha Day Anniversary

It's hard to believe, but Sydney's Gotcha Day was two years ago today! You can go back and read the original post from that day to see pictures and read our thoughts at the time, as well as the outpouring of support and prayers from the people following our journey.

Sydney turns 3 next month, and so much has changed since we first held that little infant who could not walk, crawl, or feed herself! She is, in case you couldn't tell from our sporadic posts, a delightful, happy, loving little girl who loves to play and sing and read. I'll try to post an updated picture later today, although she is going through a phase of being shy around the camera.

We praise God for these two wonderful years, and pray and look forward to many more!

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Life is like a box of chocolates…"

Everyone knows what comes next, right?

"...You never know what you're going to get."

Most likely, you even hear it in the voice of that beloved character, Forrest Gump, don't you? How many times have you seen "Forrest Gump"? Just once? Five times? More times than you can count? Not at all? I hadn't ever seen it until this weekend. Am I the last person who was alive and of movie-going age when the movie came out that had still not seen it?

Anyway, it got me thinking. The movie tries to sum up its world view near the end with this statement by Gump: "I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both." That's right up there with Calvin and Nietzsche! Or maybe Calvin and Hobbes...

Personally, I think there is much more truth that can be plumbed from the earlier line about the box of chocolates. I'm still coming up with ways that life really is like a box of chocolates, but here are a few. Please add any you have discovered over the years below in the comments:

Life is like a box of chocolates...

  • ...It looks good on the outside but can be pretty sticky when you get into it.

  • ...It comes with a pretty bow on it but ends up empty and discarded

  • ...If you share it with others, you'll have less to enjoy yourself.

  • ...It's bad for your health.

  • ...It goes straight to your hips.

  • ...It doesn't freeze well.

See what I mean? Now that's philosophy! Got any others?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cut ‘em up!

Here's an interesting article about hearings going on in the Senate regarding credit cards, fair practices, etc. I'd like to come up with some really witty response, but the whole discussion just makes me want to go home and cut up my credit cards even more than I did before I read this!

Ok, I'll admit it, I've been reading and listening to Dave Ramsey for a while, and making a concerted effort to stop "playing with snakes" and do everything on a cash basis. This just adds fuel to the fire.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fun in the snow

Amy and I took a vacation last week to Breckenridge, Colorado, while Sydney stayed with grandparents and enjoyed... well, was supposed to enjoy warmer weather. Turns out North Texas was blasted by winter weather, snow, ice, etc. While Breckenridge was still colder, we had blue skies and lots of sun while back home it was cloudy and precipitating in various forms.

But back to what I was saying:

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Savannah, in a nutshell

One of the comics I read frequently is Get Fuzzy. If you haven't ever read it, and you like dogs and/or cats, I highly recommend it. Why? Well, today's strip is a perfect reason. This strip reflects, in a nutshell, the outlook on life taken by Savannah, the younger of our two dogs:

(Editor's Note: The online archive of GetFuzzy only keeps 30 days worth of the old strips. Sorry...)