Friday, December 14, 2012

A Christmas prayer for Connecticut... and for all of us

Come, thou long expected Jesus! Born to set thy people free...

Free from sin.  Free from fear.  Free from anguish and devastation.  Free from pain and suffering.  Free from mourning.  Free from the insanity and cruelty that so often defines the human condition.

Free to pray.  Free to love.  Free to wish.  Free to be overwhelmed with anger at senseless violence.  Free to feel joy in spite of devastation.  Free to believe in a God who is in control despite whatever chaos we find ourselves in.  Free to disagree about a solution to this awful problem.  Free to focus our efforts on prayer.

Prayer for salvation.  Prayer for wisdom for us, and wisdom for our leaders.  Prayer for the mourners.  Prayer for people who find themselves so empty that they dwell on the idea of destroying the lives of others.  Prayer for the lost.

"Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our peace in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to they glorious throne."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life with a strong-willed kiddo.

Merry Christmas!  Have you caught the Christmas spirit yet???  Or - as my brother in law describes it - Have you fallen off the Christmas cliff?  It doesn't take much to put me in a Christmas-y mood.  I would have reached the "cliff" a lot sooner if it weren't for the weather: it's so warm here our miniature Azaleas out front are blooming!  (No, I'm not joking.  There are two tiny red flowers out of my window right now.)

Before I continue with my holiday post and fun pictures, I need to address something.  In the past couple of months I've heard from a couple of people (two of the three people who actually read this, haha) about the content of my little blog.  I have heard that my sweet Addison must be a "hellion" because of some things I've written about her.  And then I've heard that my children must be angels because I am "always" posting stuff about how wonderful they are.  THEY ARE!  And also, SHE IS a hellion sometimes!  That is just life!  I started this blog as a way to connect with folks I don't get the chance to see very often, and it has sort of evolved into a place to connect with folks in the same stage of life as we are.  You know: that place where one day is peachy and the laundry is done and you get a nap and wake up thinking how awesome it is to have two kids.  Then the next day rolls around and by 8am you wonder how you will make it to 8:15 without committing murder or pulling all your hair out.  The play room looks like a hurricane, there's poop on the bathroom floor,  you haven't showered in three days, the baby is still in her jammies at dinner time, and dinner is something the husby has picked up because there was absolutely NO way you could use your two hands for anything other than holding or rocking or scolding or spanking a kid.  That is simply the life of a woman at home with her two babies.  (And I am certain it is even crazier when both parents work - my hats off to y'all who pull that off so beautifully!)  I just wanted to be sure to make it clear:  I haven't figured it all out.  I don't have all the answers, or many at all for that matter.  I have one answer: Jesus.  I try to start my days out with Him.  I cling to Him when the day is messy.  (Okay, when the day is crazy messy, I usually just end up in a heap on the couch asking Him to make the next day better and praying I didn't scar anyone for life.)  And on both the rotten and wonderful days, I try to remember that the Lord blessed us with the opportunity for me to stay home with our gals.  I think this is the best thing for our family right now and I wouldn't trade it for anything different in the world. Well... a tantrum-free world might be nice.

Now, onto the fun stuff.  I LOVE CHRISTMAS!  I love the decorations, the music, the cheesy movies, the crazy clothes, the goodies, everything!  If it wasn't such a slanderous thing to do to the turkeys, I would decorate my tree weeks before Thanksgiving.  I restrain myself and wait until the night we get home from traveling though.

I love this.  My sister and I used to lay under our tree and check out the lights.  Perhaps my gals will do the same.
 This year looks a little different for us for a lot of reasons.  This is our first as a family of four.
Our first Thanksgiving as a family of four, too!
It is our first Christmas in this house.  Last year I didn't even really decorate, since we had just moved and were in that tiny rental.  I am loving all of the stuff with Addison this year!  She is at an age where she "gets" some of it.  She loves to read different parts of the Christmas story.  And she likes to talk about Santa.  We have basically had someone sick since Audrey was born, so we are ready to be well.  Hopefully this unseasonably warm weather will help us out with that.  I am still bundling the girls up as needed though.
Audrey bundled up for "playtime."
We loved getting to visit with friends and family at Thanksgiving!  What a fun - albeit crazy - time in Pensacola!  Letting the cousins and Aunt B and Uncle Brian meet Audrey, and playing with all the "big boys" was a blast.  I am sure Addison thinks our house is so boring compared to Missy and Pop's.
Sweet Jakey giving my baby gal a kiss

Addie had SO much fun with Ben

Lots of mischief in their futures

Baby Kate

 Seeing some sweet friends and meeting some new babies made me extremely nostalgic for Pensacola.  I know the Lord has us in Birmingham for a reason.  I love our friends here, Brad is so satisfied at his job, and we are getting used to being Alabamians again.  But oh, how I miss my friends on the coast... lunches together, trips to the beach, walks to the park, and "playdates" that last so long we put the kiddos down for naps together.

 From the first pumpkins of the year through Valentines Day, I feel like the entire winter season is a time for reflection and renewal.  I am so thankful for the time and energy friends and family have poured into my life.  I am getting back into the habit of having time with God every morning.  This is my little spot.  (It doesn't always have stockings.)  My little light above the table broke the other day; there is something wrong with the wiring.  Now that it is dark when I get up to study my Bible at 6 or 6:30, I will have to find a new place, which kind of bums me out.

My prayer life, as always, has been evolving.  I think that's healthy.  What you talk to the Lord about should probably always reflect what is going on in your day.  In my case: my kids and my husband.  The other day as I was putting Audrey to bed I was praying for her out loud.  (I will actually have to stop doing this soon; whenever I sing or talk to her right now she coos and sings back to me.  I guess I have another talker on my hands.)  I was praying, as usual, for her salvation.  And for God to reveal Himself to her often.  And for her spouse's salvation.  And on and on.  Eventually I landed on Addison and her behavior lately.  (She is very, VERY good at being two!)  I started reading The Strong-Willed Child.  I was thinking about things some folks have said about the book and about Addison being strong-willed.  Folks (myself included, if I'm being honest) usually nod and wink and say "Oh wow."  Really?  Is it that awful?  Shouldn't we want our children to be strong willed?  I've spent the last couple weeks steeling myself against it, but I should be thankful for it, right?  My sister's strong will and rebelliousness as a toddler is almost legendary.  The stuff parents fear and pray their kids don't turn into.  But as an adolescent, that will turned into something morally solid.  Not only for herself but for others.  Something that, as a mom, I want desperately for my children.  Yes, potty training has turned into a battle of wills, along with dinner time, and so many other things.  But her nature also includes singing "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" at the top of her lungs all through Target.  And being so protective of Audrey that when someone takes a peek at her Addison yells, "Don't touch her! She's our baby!"  So, in the matter of moments, my prayer changed into thankfulness for Addison's nature.  And for me to be able to nurture it in her.  Now, if only I can find a formula for managing it...

Monday, November 19, 2012


I keep seeing all these posts on Facebook for what people are thankful for.  I love them!  I considered jumping on the bandwagon for about a second, until I realized that at that moment it was already several days into the month, and there would inevitably be days where I totally forgot to post anything and I would feel ridiculous.  So, as I have a few moments here and there, I'm doing it on the blog instead.

I am thankful for...

Salvation.  The freedom in Christ I receive but rarely take full advantage of, which comes from the gracious mercy that my loving Savior pours out new every morning.  Instead of living in the abundance of said mercies, I continue to nurture my sin nature (which should be long dead to me) and waste my time asking myself why I can't or don't or won't have or be __________.  Which leads me to...

Forgiveness.  I am so grateful for forgiveness.

Bradamuffin.  I'm so thankful for his wisdom and leadership and love.  I love the way he loves our girls.  I love the way he's always got a plan.  (And I love that he stays with me in spite of the awful nickname, haha.)

Addison.  Wow.  I knew that motherhood would be wonderful, but how wonderful was absolutely beyond my imagination.  And every day (well, most days), I enjoy it more and more as I get the privilege of seeing her grow and learn and love.  I am amazed at the gifts and traits I already see the Holy Spirit growing in our gal.  Is it my overactive imagination, or will her slightly stubborn streak one day turn into leadership like her daddy?  And when she loves on her friends in school who are sad, and asks girls in ballet to play, is she being an encourager like her mama?  The mind reels at the possibilities.  It may be my imagination, but I love it nonetheless.  I love hearing her sing and explain Jesus to her stuffed animals.  Mostly I'm thankful that I already see a loving spirit in her.  

yes, she is holding my well-worn copy of We Were Soldiers.  Kid after my own heart!

Audrey.  How does one mama get so lucky as to have two sweet-natured children?  When Audrey woke up this morning (NOT crying, after 8 1/2 hours, by the way), she smiled and cooed and giggled at me as I changed her diaper.  I could not help but wonder if it's by nature that both our girls are good-natured in the morning, or if it's sheer blessedness?  Seriously, while I may enjoy sleeping till 7:30 every once in a while, it's so wonderful to have everyone up and happy in the morning!  I always hear people say that the second child is crazier than the first...  The jury is still out on that one (Audrey is only 9 weeks old after all), but so far we've gotten another easy, sweet baby.  And, just like her sister, she is a nosy people-person.  (I wonder where she gets it???)

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the legacy of faith our families and friends brought to Brad and I, and that we have the privilege of passing on to our gals.  The time some folks have spent on their knees for the two of us - and probably for our families because of us, haha - is evident and we remain abundantly blessed by others who pour out love on us like nothing else.

I am so thankful to be able to stay home with our girls.  This is something that Brad and I used to actually argue about when we were first married: I was certain that I would never want to quit my teaching job, and was convinced that it would never dawn on me to even want to stay home with kids.  Boy has that changed. To that point, I'm thankful for my last full time teaching job... It was so much more stressful, time-consuming, exhausting, and seemingly pointless than my previous two jobs.  I am now certain that the Lord used my two years there to bring me to the point of changing the desires of my heart.  His plan is always so much bigger and better than we can imagine for ourselves.

I'm grateful for what being a mom has taught me about our relationship with the Father.

I'm thankful for the holiday season.  From the first day of fall when I get out my pumpkins to the week after New Years when I grudgingly take down the tree, it's a constant reminder of the attitude of gratefulness I should be living out all year long.  I need reminders.  

By the way, I think it should be spelled "GREATfulness."  Mr. Webster (quite appropriately) never asked me though.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Motherhood Favorites

So, it's been a long day.  Today started out with two poop accidents in big girl undies, while I was on the phone with the cable company.  (Collective "eeewwwwee!")  As I wrapped up an unhelpful phone call and tried to clean up post-Halloween-we-had-too-much-candy-poop in Addison's big girl britches without losing my cool, I took a deep breath.  (Because yes-you read that correctly-we're the only nut jobs dumb enough to potty train a two year old with a new born in the house.)  Tuesdays and Thursdays are supposed to be the easy days!  The days where I get a few hours with just Audrey and I while Addison's at mom's morning out.  Where I might actually get a workout and/or shower completed.  Where the house might not sound like a herd of elephants running all morning, or a tornado coming through.  While trying to listen to the Charter Communications lady and Addison at the same time, I decided that today would not be one of those Thursdays, and I gritted my teeth to get ready.
we fit in some snuggle time this morning... check out these cheeks!
One trip to Wal-Mart, one cuddle session with Audrey, an un-finished workout, two more gross changes, and two extremely loud Charter Cable guys (precious nap-time-wreckers) later, the house is still standing.  The Lord provided a seemingly endless morning for me to get most of what I wanted to accomplish done, and me with enough energy and patience to take it all in stride.  Funny how that happens, huh?  When you think that surely you're gonna lose it, God blesses you with an extra dose of sanity.  Some surplus perspective to be able to laugh at the fact that your two year old is in bed calling "ALL ABOARD!" to all of her stuffed animals individually (apparently there is an separate train coming for each of them), instead of sleeping.  A super-strong anti gag-reflex so that the endless laundry from a new born and a potty-training toddler doesn't overwhelm you.  God is so good.  And He is enough.  And He is faithful.

Here are some recent pictures of us enjoying this beautiful fall.

running around Samford with my sweet nephew Holmes
Fall Festival time!
I love strawberries... and when kiddos match... and these two gals!
First time trick-or-treating as a family of four
"Mommy!  Look at all my candy!"
So while I'm thinking about the good and the bad of mothering two babies, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things about motherhood.  (These are not in order.  And it's not a complete list.)
~ Nap time.  It doesn't happen often for me, but it's an elusive dream that I get to enjoy every once in a while.
~ Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.  I can finally eat them every day without feeling silly.
~ Hugs and kisses.  The kind I don't have to ask for.  
~ Coloring.  I love coloring.  And new crayons.  Maybe more than my two year old.
~ Leg warmers.  That's right.  Between Audrey's leg warmers and Addison's outfit for mommy and me ballet, its like a 1980s workout video around here.

~ The library.  I can now love the library (as I always have) without sounding like such a nerd.  Instead I call it "instilling a love for reading."
~ When Addie says "I wanna howld you Mama!"  Too sweet.
~ Bed head.
~ The way a baby falls asleep the second you hold her tight.  It makes me so sad that Audrey is growing so fast!  I fear she will out grow this stage soon.
~ Motherhood itself.  I finally understand why my dad cries every time we leave.  Or they leave.  Or we hug.  It's overwhelming.  This feeling puts the love God must have for us into perspective.  I understand it a teeny bit better, and am so thankful and overwhelmed at the same time.  Like, I get how He must long for the day when this time on Earth is over and we can be with Him eternally in Heaven.  And it makes me equal parts want it to come so I can be with Him, and want time to slow down so I can cherish time with my gals.

Rest time is over.  I was about to post this when I heard a thump and Addison start yelling "Mommy! Help me!" over and over.  I ran in to find her crying, and hanging upside-down from the side of the bed.  She can flip off, but not back on.  I'm the terrible mom who laughs at her kids.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Little things

We all have those days where someone we see has it way more together than we do.  It seems to me that those people are everywhere:  The woman who has an endless amount of patience with her kids.  The woman with an infant who doesn't have spit up on her shirt or poop somewhere on her pants.  (The kid's poop; not mine.)  The woman whose put an elaborate meal put together for her family without demolishing her kitchen.  The woman who cooked at all.  (My poor family has been on a steady rotation of casseroles, pasta, and grilled chicken for over a year.)  The woman who looks great after working out.  The woman who worked out at all.  The woman whose kids look cute, without dirt marks on their knees and scuffs on their shoes, without bows askew.  That woman drives me a little nuts.  

I am pretty sure I have never been that woman.  If I have been, the moments are few and far between, and I was stressed out getting there.  And my kiddo has probably been a bit neglected and watched too much television that morning to allow me to get that way.  Or she's emptied my makeup bag out while I was brushing my teeth.  Or something.

I have a tendency to concern myself with random stuff.  I clean and straighten our home obsessively, for example.  Who cares?  Brad doesn't.  Addison doesn't.  Just me.  And I want to be early or on time to everything.  That is next to impossible with an infant, let alone with an infant and an extremely independent two year old.

As a stay at home mom, I have tried to continue to have some sort of schedule to the week.  I'm a planner, and this helps me function.  I was reminded this week what else helps me function: a pal.  A mom of kids similar in age who also shows up slightly frazzled; with one of her kids still in pajamas; who, like me, carries an endless supply of Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks in her purse.  To sit while our kids raced back and forth, discussing the pros and cons of waiting to potty train when our kids are obviously ready, and what they're learning in preschool, seems to make the week a little easier.  Knowing someone else sometimes feels like they're drowning in a sea of toys and diapers and laundry makes me feel a little less lonely.  When Addison was little I had a couple of close friends with kiddos close in age.  We did lunch and coffee dates where we let the babies sleep and we put our feet and just talked.  It's been a while since I recognized the need for commiseration.  It's so important!  It reminds you that what's important is not always what's easy or what you wish your kid was doing.  It reminds you what God has called us to as moms.  It reminds you that sometimes just letting go and being with your kid is what matters.  Isn't that why we stay home in the first place?  I needed that reminder.
Another reminder came from one of those articles on Huffington Post about motherhood.  It was one of those pieces that made me tear up (doesn't take much these days... or ever).  I was especially struck by the following:
Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves -- women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don't like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?

How true!  Addison doesn't care if I'm racing back and forth around the house picking up laundry before I go get her from preschool.  She doesn't care if the library books are returned a day late, or if dinner is take out or leftovers.  She doesn't notice if her stuffed animals make it into the bed before she does, as long as they're there eventually.  And she doesn't care if she eats lunch a few minutes earlier or later, based on when Audrey is fussing.

So, I'm going to schedule more play dates for Mommy, because I know they benefit Addison and Audrey.  (And even Brad.)  And I'm going attempt the library story hour today.  We will probably be late.  My hair will be dirty and I'm pretty sure either my baby or I will smell like spit up, but I'll be there.  And I'll try to be all there.  So Addison doesn't remember me cleaning or cooking or how I looked, but instead remembers how much I enjoyed her.

By the way, Audrey is one month old today.  Where does the time go???  One more reason to slow down and enjoy the little things with my gals.

PS: it took me two days to write this post.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life with Two

Well friends, we've got two... two sweet gals.  This weekend it was rainy, and I had the pleasure of having both curled up in the bed with me.  I couldn't help but wonder how we got so lucky.  I am constantly in awe of these sweet blessings.  Audrey Lynn came into the world on September 10, 18 inches long, and 7 pounds 4 ounces.  Screaming as loud as she could.  As Brad says, we were pretty nervous for about 30 minutes, but she calmed down and has been just as easy a baby as Addison was.

So, how is life with two different?  I am pretty sure it will constantly evolve.  Right now I'm still technically recovering from my C-section, so I'm not supposed to pick up anything over ten pounds.  That's pretty difficult when the baby weighed almost 9 pounds at two weeks old and you still have a two year old who likes to be held.  (You read that correctly: our little bit gained an ounce a day in her first 10 days at home!  Phew!)  The hardest part has been not picking up Addie and doing all those things we are used to.  I actually overheard her explaining things to her Mickey Mouse doll last week:
"Mommy can't pick me up because of her owie.  But I love you, so I can pick you up and hold you."  Ouch.

I know she'll forget all about how often I've had to say "Mommy can't ______," when I can do all those mommy things she thinks I should.  In the meantime Brad is her favorite, I can do nothing whatsoever - including read stories before bed or say prayers, and she climbs like a monkey up into her car seat, high chair, bed, and anything else up high.  Our big girl is getting so independent.

The little gal is working on a schedule for Mommy... last night she slept almost 5 straight hours!  (It's amazing how little it takes to make a new mom happy.)  She grunts in her sleep like a goat, and coos whenever I carry her in the sling.  Her chubby cheeks melt my heart.  

Getting both out of bed and ready to go anywhere feels a little like I've worked out.  Bed time when Brad is not home is touch-and-go.  Any time Audrey cries, Addison gets distressed and says "Oh no!  Mommy she's fussing!"  It is super sweet how she doesn't ever want baby sister to cry, but it sometimes makes for an interesting race for me, back and forth between the playroom and the nursery, haha.  
So while Brad and I stay busy taking care of an infant and chasing a two year old - and scratching our heads over the things she says - we'll continue to count our blessings.  Two healthy, beautiful girls.  Wow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Here's your sign: the miracle of life.

As I lay in bed a couple nights ago, I was amazed for the 100th time that I could not only feel my new daughter trying to get comfy in my stomach, but also feel her have the hiccups.  The hiccups!  And I asked my husband for the millionth time, "How could anyone who has ever been pregnant or nursed a baby ever question that there is an Almighty Creator?"  Seriously.  Feeling a life growing inside you is miraculous, and such a precious gift and reminder that there is a God.  How can an obstetrician, who knows what babies do as they grow and how a mother's body changes - bones and hips and muscles actually change shape! - ever doubt that we were knit together in very specific ways by a Heavenly Father who tenderly cares for each life formed?  I may gripe about how uncomfortable being nine-months pregnant is, but I am constantly in awe of this sweet baby inside my belly and our Father who decided to bless us with her.

Kind of on that subject...  While watching NBC Nightly News today, I saw a flash-back to the Democratic Convention four years ago.  The woman speaking said something to the point of "a woman considering an abortion should not be forced to have an ultrasound against her wishes."  Then the camera showed a cheering crowd.  First of all, I didn't realize that was a rule anyone anywhere who actually performs abortions enforces.  Secondly, SHOULDN'T THAT TELL YOU SOMETHING???  If when an expectant mother sees the shape of her child - whether that be a teeny peanut in the first weeks of pregnancy, or the profile of a miniature face a few weeks later - she recognizes that it's a person, shouldn't that be a SIGN to anyone pro-abortion or pro-choice (let's face it, isn't that the same?) that a fetus is, in fact, a person?  If hearing that sweet heart beat as early as 19 days is enough to make a woman change her mind about the value of the life she carries, shouldn't it tell our doctors, politicians, bloggers, voters, etc. that we cannot, should not, continue make an abortion so accessible?  As comedian Bill Engvall has said, "Here's your sign."

Disclaimer: I'm not a political activist.  I realize that in another woman's shoes, choices may be much harder to make.  But I pray that cooler - more reasonable - senses prevail in our culture to teach women in all circumstances the early stages of life.  And for leaders more aware of the sanctity of life.

Ps: If  you've never heard Engvall and you like family comedy, check him out.

Monday, August 13, 2012

God is necessary, in all things

Does it ever seem like lessons, sermons, and even songs seem to follow a running theme?  For the past few weeks any time I stop long enough to pay attention to anything - besides Veggie Tales music in the car - the messages have been connected and drawn me back to remember God's necessity in and authority over all things.  I sat down yesterday to piece it all together.  The reminder is always important, so I thought I'd share with anyone who cares to read...

So many people I know have been dealing with infertility.  I mentioned our brief struggle trying to get pregnant on here once.  I can only imagine the grief and pray for the struggling.  I know women in the middle of it wonder at their bodies' inability to do what they think it's supposed to do.  Husbands (if they're like mine was) want to fix it and probably want their wives to be able to focus on anything but the baby they so desire.  A few weeks ago the sermon reminded me of these things.  A guest preacher spoke on God's ultimate plan of salvation throughout Scripture, and he used examples of infertile women God used to bring His people back to Him.  I've never once made the connection.  Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth... all women who had begged for a the gift of a child.  All women who eventually received a child who changed history.  Reading their stories, we see God's amazing plan of salvation unfolding, and in it God proves to those women (and anyone else who reads scripture) that (1) God gave them their children, just as He gives all good things.  (2) God is necessary, in all things.  In other words, we cannot work out life for ourselves, no matter how basic it seems.  (I need to make this my mantra!)

Whatever our season is - especially one of darkness - the place to be is in prayer and worship, even when we don't feel like God has been hearing what we're saying.  I've especially struggled with this in the past.  Sometimes I have to be intentional about making sure church doesn't become just the place where my husband works - instead of my place of worship.  Even when the last place we want to be is with other believers, that's the best place for us, for a whole host of reasons.

When we say "Your will be done," how honest are we being?  When we pray for specific things (healing, safety, a "normal" child, a season of happiness, etc.), are we giving God a list of what "I need"?  Or maintaining a posture of obedience, sincerely realizing that whatever the Lord's will is, it is better than anything we could know or imagine?  Sometimes a season of pain or struggle is what we need to learn or remember, and to live out the fact that
"My grace is sufficient for you" and
"My power is made perfect in weakness" 

Job 13:15 says "Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him."  God's authority is based on His identity.  We are called to trust and obey because of who God is, not what He has or is doing.  We have to learn who Jesus is, so that knowledge of Him can continue to transform us into who He created us to be.  John 15:1 -12 teaches me I should make this my prayer for every day:

Oh Lord teach me how to abide in and reflect You in all things! 

My child is apparently learning things, too.  This morning she saw a wedding on TV and told me she was going to get married to Jesus.  :)  Shouldn't we all be in the mindset of becoming Jesus' bride?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A two-year old's stalling tactics...

You may think that the stalling tactics of a two year old are immature or innocent.  Surely we shouldn't use the word "tactic"?!?  That implies manipulation.  Well, naive friend of mine: my gal excels at manipulation!  She has worked it into an art form!  Already!

Sleeping has been a struggle for us for a while now.  Even before we converted her crib into a toddler bed (when she climbed out about 3 months ago), A was avoiding napping at all cost. She doesn't scream to get up or cry when we put her down.  Instead she sings every song she knows, names every person in our family, calls out the names of her friends, calls out the toys she sees around her room... you get the picture.  If I'm in the right frame of mind, it's pretty fun to sit in the hall and listen to her.  Especially now in her big-girl bed.  She can stand up (which earns a spanking if we catch her), hang onto her bed rail, and see herself in the mirror.  I first discovered her doing this, dancing back and forth, and telling herself she was pretty.  (Ugh!  I mean, she is, but have I created a monster???)  So you see, naps are a rarity these days.  If she happens to fall asleep in the car she's good, but otherwise she's up for almost two hours playing, and once every few days she actually falls asleep.  It's exhausting to this pregnant mama, and a little nerve-wracking to imagine no naps when I have a newborn, too.

Back to the stalling tactics.  These include but are not limited to,

"I cannot take a nap."  "I don't yike to go to seep."  "Can we wead da Jesus Bible 'gain?"  "I yove you."  "Want to give baby sister a kiss."  (This involves kissing my belly button, which is apparently a portal through which the girls can talk and hug and kiss already.  Ha!)  "Will you say prayers 'gain?"   "Mommy!  I'm going to stand up!"

You get the picture.  How can you say 'no' to saying more prayers?  Apparently even a spanking is preferred to sleeping.  Our girl is definitely a mess.  And - not to brag - but how smart to use Jesus to stall?

I used to think my frustration about naptime was selfishness on my part.  That I just wanted that time alone, to catch up on email or shower or start dinner in peace or whatever.  That's certainly true at times.  I just cannot be convinced that a two year old doesn't need a nap!  Especially when she's whiny and grumpy all afternoon afterwards.  Or when she wakes up the next day like this:
Anyone with morning hair like this has had some desperately-needed sleep!  I'm at a loss on all future naps.  Sigh.  Perhaps she's just my girl in all respects: too nosy or interested in what's going on around her to calm down.  Heaven knows she's every once of mine in other ways...

Monday, July 9, 2012

The gal is two!

Soon I will have to stop referring to Addison as our "gal."  We will have two, after all.  In the meantime I will continue to use this Gowing term of endearment for my sweet girl.  My sweet big girl, I should say.  She is two.  The light of my life, her Daddy's love, the focus of our future and my days, and the gift that has taught me so much about myself and who God created me to be, as well as about our Father's love, is two years old!
I distinctly remember discovering I was pregnant with her.  Brad had such a funny reaction.

I remember being so scared when we found out she had to be delivered by C-section.

I remember waking up at midnight before going into the hospital to fix myself eggs and toast to tide me over; I couldn't eat for 12 hours before surgery, and I didn't want to be in a foul mood when they brought my baby to me.  (If you've ever been around me when I'm hungry, you understand.)  My dad got up to eat with me before we went back to bed.

I remember when they held her up and Brad walked around my head to get a better look at her.  First he told me she was beautiful, then I think he said something about how the inside of my stomach was disgusting, then he realized our camera was out of batteries so he ran across the hall to borrow one.  :)

I remember the first time I nursed her, the hospital had some sort of fire alarm or something go off, so all the grandpas and friends and youth who were visiting (and there were several of each) were ushered back into the room with us, awkwardly listening to Addison's first attempt at eating on the other side of a curtain.  Haha.

I remember our first walk: Brad held me up, while I held onto the hospital bassinet for dear life and walked around the hall so slowly it seemed like time stood still.  I'm pretty sure I was bent over at a 90 degree angle.

I remember being nervous about introducing Addison to Rosco, and quickly realizing we had nothing to be concerned about.

Our first days and weeks at home were a struggle.  Thank goodness for my parents and sister, who all stayed so long to help!  I cried like a baby when my mom left town, so sure I was going to screw up royally without help.  But as I figured out what I was doing, and she learned how to not over-eat (she is, after all, her mother's child!), life got easier and my heart has seemed to grow outside of my body.  It continues to do so.  How do people without children understand even an ounce of the Father's love for us?  I barely grasp it at all, and I tear up almost every time I pray with or for Addison.  Her mere existence has brought joy to Brad and I from the moment we found out she was coming.

Even now, as the "NO!"s and "MINE"s have increased and sometimes led to more frequent spankings.  As the twos come on strong and bring methods of manipulation that I never imagined my sweet baby capable of, I am struck by frustration, yes, but love.  And laughter.  (Let's face it: unless you're in the middle of Publix or something, a tantrum is often quite funny.)

So happy birthday sweet Addison Grace.  I love you so much and I pray every day for your salvation, loving spirit, and kindness.  Mostly I pray your daddy and I don't screw this up too badly.I know our sweet Savior has much, much in store for you!

The month leading up to her special birthday has been a busy one: settling in, visiting Texarkana for a week, family reunion south of Dallas, and a week in Pensacola has exhausted all of us but been so fun.  A month in pictures should suffice...

practicing for "baby sister"

cousin Holmes
Grandaddy & RaRa
all the Gowing cousins + our sweet friend Will

loving on our new cousin, baby Kate

Elmo birthday cake for the family "party"

yup: my kid for sure

Thursday, June 7, 2012

And the hits just keep on coming...

I was going to title this post "Some Rules to Moving."  Then this morning happened and I just can't get past the comical aspect of what should have been a fairly simple move for our little family.

The rest of this post is going to sound really negative, so I need to say upfront that it all could have gone horribly, but it didn't.  Brad's parents came into town to help, and help they did, taking turns keeping Addison or helping me at the house before we even moved our stuff.  We are so thankful to them and some sweet friends who helped us.

We bought a house on May 18th.  This comedy of errors started about a week before that, however, when I made the mistake of buying a Pottery Barn rug for A's "big girl room" from someone I found on Craigslist.  It was hot outside, she was 20 minutes late to meet me, and I had to pee... not a good combination for a pregnant girl.  By the time the woman got there to meet me, I was so antsy I didn't even have her roll the rug out!  I talked her down to $100 and felt okay about it.  Needless to say, I got it home and discovered a horrible mess!  After multiple hours on my hands and knees spot cleaning, and a few rounds with a steam cleaner, the jelly stain is out, the dark who-knows-what-that-was is lighter, and what I can only hope was juice has actually drained the pink color in a few spots.  Oh well.  One day Addison will discover markers and I'll be glad I didn't pay the $799 that rug is currently listed for at the store.

With any move, you can expect to bleed some money.  We knew coming into it we would spend quite a bit getting our electrical system up to code, putting in a couple new appliances, and other "move-in" type things.  The Wednesday before we moved in, however, I had to laugh at the rotating group of sub-contractors in our house.  Brad's dad and I were cleaning (the entire house was filthy), and throughout the day we had the deliverymen bring in my washer and dryer, a couple of sweet, round, red-neck electricians working nonstop, a plumber who looked like he belonged on the movie Deliverance, and two painters who spoke absolutely no English.  All in one afternoon.  Pretty funny.

We had asked around about a painter to do some touch up work on the inside of the home.  I really wanted to paint all the rooms, but after taking a look at the trim work that's chipped and the ceiling that needed repainting in a few spots, we decided to take care of that and a couple of rooms.  We had several suggestions of who not to use, and only one suggestion of someone who did good work.  I met with him and was a little concerned about his limited English, but we stepped out and agreed on a price and an end date.  To make a long story short, he did none of the work and hired out to guys who spoke no English, they finished a day late, my trim work hasn't been touched, the coats of paint are visibly are uneven, and I've been scraping drips of paint up off the floor with my fingernails.  Ugh.

With lots of help from Brad's parents and a couple of movers, we got our stuff over here and some boxes unpacked.  Brad's mom started loading the dishwasher looked up distressed: the baskets in the dishwasher were literally falling apart!  We priced replacement baskets and quickly realized that it made more sense to buy a new dishwasher.  A week later the deliveryman actually showed up, damaged my counter top, told me he'd have to cut the kitchen tile in order to get the old dishwasher out, and left me with two dishwashers, neither working!  He came back two days later with reinforcements and put it in, charged me more money, and left with my new dishwasher not installed properly.  Ugh!

Today I woke up with a long list of "to dos."  I tore my back out during all of the moving stuff, so I've been taking it easy.  I intended to finish unpacking the boxes, rearrange some stuff in A's room and run a couple of errands.  About the time I was finishing breakfast I heard a strange gurgling noise from the guest bath.  I will spare you the details and skip to the end: the plumbers came back and had to replace a portion of the sewage pipe under the house; there was a hole in it that someone had tried to fix with a large rubber band.  The hits just keep on coming, and our monetary hemorrhage continues. :)

We are enjoying lots of things about the "new" place though: A's playroom, space in our kitchen, an actual backyard, etc.  I'm thankful that we're discovering all these issues now, and not when I'm days away from delivering this sweet baby girl.  Have I posted that yet?  That this bundle of moves is a girl?  It's a girl.  And she's either going to be a runner like her daddy or a dancer like me, because she moves constantly!  Can't wait to meet her.  Well, I can wait... I need to wait... I don't know where any of our "newborn" stuff is yet!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day
It's been a while, so Mother's Day seemed just as likely a day as any other lately to post something new, this time hopefully something worthwhile.  :)  I thought I might give a shout out to the moms in my life...

I am so thankful for my mom.  She (along with Daddy) have shaped my life and my faith in ways that I hope and pray I pass on to my babies.  Mom has always devoted herself to what she and my dad thought was best for our family.  My dad has always come before us kids, in the way that he's supposed to, showing us that marriage is sacred and covenant and is the most important relationship - behind the one each individual has with Christ - in the family.  She was not ashamed to say that too, even when we (and so many other moms) must have made her feel like she should have been spending more time watching ballet practice, or fixing a three-course dinner, or spending time to herself.  (Frankly, I ate very well growing up; I'm not quite sure how she got any kind of meal, casserole, take-out, or otherwise, on the table after working all day and running us around.)  I am so thankful that she didn't spend her days trying to get "more" in, and that she worked and prayed diligently for us to become well-rounded followers of Christ.
Thanks Mom for all you did and do to make me a better me.

What do you say about the woman who raised the man you love?  Missy and Pop raised a man who loves Jesus and tries daily to serve Him better by serving us and others.  I am so grateful for His background, and my relationship with his parents.  Sure, Missy probably sometimes thinks Brad is better and wiser than he is (I do too), and she certainly sees all things through rose-colored glasses, and often makes me (yes, ME! the eternal optimist!) look like a pessimist, but she treats me like a daughter and is full of wisdom and advice.  And she reminds me that "Brad came that way"... meaning all the crazy things he does come from somewhere, and they usually bring something wonderful too.  I am so grateful to count her as my friend; I know of few women as lucky with their in-laws.

my grandmothers...
I have two living grandmothers, Tutu and Grandma.  I was lucky enough growing up to know my great-grandmother, too.  Faithful mothers and wives, church attenders, etc.  Tutu is now as crazy as a loon (Mom, please don't show her this post) and Gram probably doesn't know what a blog is so she won't read this, but I love them and I love the kiddos they put out into the world.
I am often overwhelmed by the legacy of faith Brad and I have to share with our children.  I am so thankful.  It's only by the grace of God that we got so lucky.

My sister lives far away.  She is married to a crazy guy we went to college with, who I still can't believe I'm legally related to, and they have a beautiful 11 month old.  It's sad that we only get to see each other a couple times a year.  She always remembers everything - birthdays, anniversaries, etc. - and sends a card or a note in the mail.  She reminds me that life doesn't have to be complicated, and I should take myself less seriously sometimes.  She's so grounding and real.  She sent me a mother's day card that said "You know how mom always said, 'Be nicer to your sister! One day she'll be your best friend!'..."  True statement.  Life is funny that way I guess.

My sister in law was the first of my friends to have a baby.  She's taught me a lot about the "basics" I guess you'd call them: swaddling, which stroller to use, introducing food, when a temperature is too high, etc.  Before I even had a kid.  With every child (they're on #5) her life gets a little crazier but she get's a little more laid back, which I think has helped Brad and I adopt a more laid-back approach to the baby years.  I'm so thankful for her friendship, and for the relationship she maintains with Brad; it often comes in handy to have the voice of the logical older sister on my side.

"Mom" friends...
If you are a mom, you know you can't (and usually don't) do it alone.  We all read books or articles or watch reports on TV or ask our moms questions to affirm what we're doing with our kids.  I hope you're as lucky as I am to have friends, too, to call about everything from maternity clothes, to when to spank, to what happens when your child flies out of her crib.  I'm so, so thankful for these women.  After all, "it takes a village."

No, he doesn't act like a mom.  At all.  But obviously he's a large part of this parenting team and he's a wonderful father and friend.  He laughs at the things I laugh at, helps me figure out what to do and how, and backs me up when I need it.  (This all may change when our gal hits puberty but still has Daddy wrapped around her finger, but for now it's working, haha.)  He seems to know just when I need an hour to myself - or a leisurely shower, or when we need a night without our munchkin.  I am so blessed by the gift of motherhood, and that obviously couldn't have happened without him.

Now, onto what's new in the Gowing household.  A brief list...
We close on our "new" house this week.  Yay!  Moving will be a chore, though.  Ugh.
Addison jumped out of her crib last week, so she's in a toddler bed.  We're going on 5 days with no nap, and right now she's singing her version of the ABC's at the top of her lungs from the bed.  Sigh.
Brad just got back from a 9 day mission trip to Ukraine working at a camp for orphans.  If he tells me another story, we may be adopting a teenager soon.
I'm 22 weeks pregnant.  (I think.)  I look like I'm 32 weeks pregnant.  Oh well.  We think it's a girl, and have another ultrasound next week to check it out.  Naming this one is going to be a battle.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fighting off the "what-ifs"

Does anyone else get bogged down in the "what-ifs"?  I mean bogged down: can't get off; wish you could do something as cool as you saw on Pinterest; wish I wasn't so tired during A's naptime; what if we had another $100k to spend on a house; what if we lived in a different city; how did my house get so cluttered; why doesn't my table and dinner look like a 4 star restaurant; why do I waste my time doing this - kind of bogged down.  Not that I live in negative land; I'm not bummed about any of the things above.  (Believe me, I would love to have that extra 100k, but...)  I am completely realistic and feel like I use my time well and am excited for what the future holds for my little family.  But yesterday I just felt behind all day.  All day!

I have always had an extremely active imagination.  That's one reason I have always loved to read so much.  In 2nd grade I imagined my name next to Nancy Drew's.  In 4th grade I wondered how a cute boy from class (a prince, of course) could find away to climb up to my room to rescue me since I didn't have hair like Rapunzel.  (Would he use a hot air balloon?)  In high school my "what ifs" involved the future: what if my high school boyfriend follow me to Samford?  Would we get married and move back to Lakeland to live happily ever after?  In college my "what ifs" seemed to be about other people: what if I looked like her?  what if I had clothes like her?  What if?  What if?  What if?

Now it is simply an imagination thing: I watch a show about kidnapping and lay awake wondering what I would do in the same scenario.  The initial offer we made on a house didn't work out, so I spent the next two days "what iffing" how we will bring a baby home into this two bedroom house.

When it comes down to it - active imagination or not - none of this is really a good thing.  How much mental energy do I waste contemplating a life I don't have?  Or beating myself up over my lack of magazine-layout-home-making-ability?  Or how my child looks just "normal" in her Carter's outfit and crazy hair?  Or how much easier _____ would be if Brad would just ______.  It's just so ridiculous!  It drains me and makes me want to drain our bank account to get these things - as if they matter.  It makes me a tired and annoyed wife and mother.  When in reality I cannot imagine my life much better.  Most women would be green with envy if they knew all the stuff Brad does for us.  And I'm pretty sure that even on her "normal" days, A is the cutest gal ever, and I'm so thankful for her (usually) sweet disposition.

I am thankful for a God that is all-knowing and powerful, and still interested in the little things of my life.  After "what-iffing" myself yesterday into a frenzy of work in the kitchen and laundry, a new long list of homes to check out, a list of activities for A and I, and all around exhaustion, the Holy Spirit woke me up this morning.  I am fairly consistent about waking up early enough for a quiet time before Addie gets up, except on Fridays.  That's our morning for breakfast out with Brad, so I wake up running.  This morning, however, I was up eeeaaarrrllly, and not by my own design.  :)  God had some words for me about desires of the flesh vs. desires of the Spirit.  He reminded me that just because I've been a Christian for a long time doesn't mean the "old" self doesn't rear her ugly head every once in a while - or daily, haha - and I need live in the freedom He provides.  Amen.

Oh, by the way, this afternoon we negotiated a contract for a house I love.  I love how God works.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed.

Hey all.  Dusting off the ole' blog today while we wait for Daddy to get home from church to celebrate Easter lunch.  I hope you found a place to worship this morning and celebrate our Savior's victory over death.

We have had such a laid-back spring.  Lots of new things happening - potty training attempts, serious house-hunting, Brad basically working two jobs, and a couple of fun trips - but nothing huge.  (Well, yesterday when A tee-teed in the potty for the first time, it was a pretty big deal, haha.)

Oh, and we're expecting baby number 2!  I just realized I never got around to posting that.  We are thrilled and can't wait until September to meet this little guy or gal.  This pregnancy has been very different from my first, so I can't help wondering if baby Gowing # 2 will be a boy.  Brad, however, is still convinced we are having two girls, and has been so confident he's almost made me a believer, too.  (It would be pretty great to have a sweet pair of girls to grow up to be close friends.  And wear cute matching clothes when they're little.) So we shall see what the Lord's blessed us with in a few weeks at our next ultrasound.

Easter this year has come at a time when I've been especially aware of God working in our family.  It seems that every few days A makes some "revelation" from the backseat of the car or her stroller or crib or something, and I am amazed that He is already using people like nursery workers and Sunday school teachers to reveal Himself to her.  Here's what I mean: we passed a church with a cross in the window on our walk the other day.  She pointed to it and said "Jesus."  I agreed that it had to do with Jesus, and told her it was called a cross.  She proceeded to tell me "Jesus loves you."  Yup.

The next day we were in the car and I was singing "He's got the whole world in His hands."  (We have so many relatives that this song takes on about 15 verses, so it took a while.)  When I was finished, A said "wide world in hands. Addie loved Jesus."  Does that mean she loves Him because He has the whole world in His hands?  Maybe.  There's no way she get's all of this from Brad and I.  I guess it's all about that "village".

So this Easter Sunday I was especially moved.  Not inspired, but reminded and renewed, and possibly in need of re-defining my definition of "faith" with regards to how I will teach my kids.  The words of one song we sang in worship this morning comes to mind.  I'm sure you've heard it, but I'll repeat it here...

In Christ alone my home is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand.