In the midst of a fun-filled summer, Madeleine turned five. Events of note preceding her birthday were her "graduation" from pre-school (she's headed to our neighborhood public school for kindergarten in the fall), her first camp-out with Ann in the backyard (she finally got to sleep at 11 pm after three trips inside to the potty and commenting several times, "I miss Rachel"), weekly outings with friends to the zoo, Fairyland, Redwood Park, etc. and Alameda's Fourth of July parade.

For her birthday party Madeleine requested water play in the backyard again, prompting Rachel to talk daily of her desire for a swimming pool party when she turns three next year. For her birthday present we risked life and limb hanging a rope swing from our birch tree in the front yard. She couldn't have been more thrilled.

Because we appreciated Madeleine being a toddler when she was baptized, we decided to wait until Rachel was two for her baptism. The big day was May 22, 2011 at St. Columba Church in Oakland. Madeleine was preparing Rachel for months, telling her, "When you're baptized it will be like the priest is washing your hair," to which Rachel would reply with great seriousness, "O'day."

Rachel loves, loves, loves the music at St. Columba and she enjoyed the entire mass that day, except for the baptismal rite. She cried when the priest, Fr. Karl Davis, OMI poured water over her head. She cried (loudly) when Paul lifted her up for the entire congregation to see her, she cried when she was anointed with oil, and she kept on crying when she was presented with her baptismal garment. The poor girl just didn't like being in the spotlight, especially once she got a bit scared. After the rite itself, though, she went right back to enjoying the mass.

That night during her bath, Paul discovered her pouring water over her bath toys and declaring, "Baptize, baptize." Now when she hears we're going to mass at St. Columba she asks us, "Rachel get baptized 'gain?" We ask, "Do you want to get baptized again?" and she says "Yes."

At 25 months of age, she still fit into the baptismal dress her Grandma Naffziger made for Madeleine when she was 15 months old.

Her godparents are Celeste and Brian Stanley, friends from St. Columba, and our friend Sheri Hostetler, pastor of First Mennonite Church in San Francisco.

(We're catching up on some older news...)

Our sweet, second daughter turned two on Good Friday and Earth Day, April 22, after a fun and busy spring. Rather than throw a boisterous party on a solemn church day, we celebrated quietly and happily as a family of four. Then we celebrated again two days later on Easter with Paul's family. Ann came in just under the wire and finished sewing Rachel's one-and-only birthday quilt by the second celebration!

Particular things of note in Rachel's previous few months included our trip the the midwest to visit her Naffziger grandparents at their new home in a suburb of Cincinnati, where she also had some time with her Aunt Ellen. After that, we traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to visit our friends Sharon and Randall -- also Madeleine's godparents -- who moved there from Alameda last fall.  Also this spring we planted Rachel's placenta as a family. It went into the ground to fertilize a lemon verbena plant we hope will bless us with its wonderful aroma for many years to come.

Rachel continues to grow in cuteness, and although she displays some typical two year old obstinance, we know how to manage it with more humor this time around. We appreciate her love of her 'is, which is short for "sis," which is short for "Madeleine." Rachel loves going to My Play Place once a week, but misses her sister when Madeleine is at preschool. She is already learning to ride Madeleine's scooter and is eager to be able to ride a bike with her too. Besides her sister, Rachel's favorite playmate is her stuffed dog which she named "Lulu." She makes us laugh every day regaling us with stories of other dogs throughout her world, all of whom are named Lulu.

A little over a month ago, Ann started writing for Busted Halo, an "online magazine for spiritual seekers" published by the Paulist priests.  She is answering scripture questions for their "question box," and you can see all of her articles here.  Feel free to submit some questions and see if you can stump her! This new job coincides with her teaching another section of her Intro to the Four Gospels class this summer at a local Paulist parish - Newman Hall on the Cal Berkeley campus.