Friday, April 30, 2010

He weaves blessing

*At the urging of several of you {dear friends}, an honest look at our week...

This week was an exercise in adjusting my expectations. Not necessarily lowering them... just adjusting them in light of the ages and stages my children are presently at.

Sunday evening through Tuesday morning brought challenging moments, behaviors, situations, and responses. So much so, that Rob and I decided that it was time to take our parenting {and discipline strategy} to another level with Robbie. But it all left me very sad, and not because I think my kids are bad or too much to handle, but because it marks a very definite end to the 'baby' phase. A phase that seems exhausting (and is, physically!) at the time, but once you are looking back on it, you realize that the exhaustion, although sometimes physical, has just been taken to a whole new level. One that leaves you wide eyed in the middle of the night, wondering what you could have done differently with the day that you lived and the way you handled your most important blessings. It's an exhaustion that bears the weight of the knowledge that you are always going to be thinking deeply about your kids, your relationship with them, their active relationship with our Father, and the way each of those things is intricately laced together by the threads of every minute you are given to spend together. Every moment you take to sit them down and teach them something new, or correct an attitude and then a behavior. Every opportunity that you are given, whether you are aware enough to recognize them or too busy to make the most of them, and the effect it has on the whole of their life.

Although I know that Rob and I will fail at being the parents Robbie and Ellie deserve (the best ones! The perfect ones!), it is our fervent prayer that we are always going deeper with Christ so that our parenting naturally reflects life with God to our children. If they catch on to how great our Father is, how much He loves them, what He has done for us all and what their place in His grand story is, then I think we will finally feel the exhaustion begin to lift.

Until then, we have a lot to do. :)

Like I said in my last post, even though the first few days of this week were hard, I trusted that the remainder of the week would bring moments and memories that we would always cherish, not just frustration. And I was right. I trusted God wasn't going to leave me in a heap, wondering if I was really going to enjoy this new phase we are entering into. And while God does reach down and simply touch our lives at times, I also know that sometimes He waits for a willing participant... and that part of the job was mine. To look for the things every day that I needed to remember to celebrate and be thankful for. To expect the best out of my kids. To seek out the blessings that are always around me. To reach out even when I don't feel like I have much to give. To wait on Him and look for Him at times and in places I hadn't before.

The 180 happened the morning after I knelt in front of both kids' closed doors as they slept, and prayed over them. I prayed that God would protect their hearts, give them a sensitivity to things of Him (including discipline coming from us). I prayed that God would help me be very mindful of my own frustration and even anger at times as I shepherd their hearts during the day on my own, and that Rob and I would be strong partners in the times we are able to parent together physically. I prayed that God would open my eyes to the new things that I need to be doing for our children as they grow and change, especially when those things look different from child to child. Ultimately I just begged (for the thousandth time) that my kids would grow up to know and love Him, and by the end of my prayer I was so tired, but I felt my burden lifted as I trusted God to lead me as I walked through each day. Isn't it a miracle when you realize, just after taking in your new view, that the burden you are carrying is 100 times heavier than it was just moments ago, and then in that same instant the entire thing is lifted?

That's what God promises to do again and again. And that is why I have the strength each day to wake up excited for what these days hold, instead of dreading potential tantrums, injuries, and constant needs of all kinds. He walks with us. He is walking with me... carrying me, changing me, moving me, empowering me, humbling me, filling me and enabling me. Every day.

I decided that one of the first things I needed to do was set aside time EVERY DAY in the morning to pray before the kids wake up, and then to plan at least one activity every day that allowed Robbie to run and exert physical energy as freely as possible. The warm weather was very accommodating and we found it easy to get to the Arboretum or park at least once a day. And I found God to be faithful in meeting me every time I came to Him or looked for Him throughout the day.


On this day, we met one of my friends from Bible study and her triplet girls who are a year older than Robbie. I was hesitant because at this age boys and girls are just SO VERY DIFFERENT, and sometimes the contrast leaves boys looking like they are 'misbehaving' when they are really just being boys. My friend encouraged me that they have had their share of behavioral challenges in the last year and that I would be in good company. I'm so thankful for friends who are willing to be honest instead of pretend like they are hero-parents, because that morning at the arboretum with them was encouraging for me. It rebuilt my courage, reminded me that I'm not the only mom wondering if her child is ever going to obey her, and showed me that every public outing is not going to leave me wondering why I even tried. What a blessing.
{Sidenote: her girls WERE in fact perfectly behaved and well-mannered, stroking Ellie gently on the head, offering Robbie their snacks... but I still believe her. Ha!}

What I see most of the time... running away from me!

But he usually comes back on his own... eventually.

And the look on his face when he does reminds me that he is just being a 2 year old boy, not always intentionally defiant.

When I snuggle this sweet thing at night before he falls asleep, he always lays a gentle hand on my shoulder, softly pats it, and whispers sweetly from behind his paci,
"Mommy... best fwiend..."

Yes, it makes me tear up! To be entrusted with his precious heart... oh my.

Growing up before my {lens} eyes


Rob was out late one evening so I spent that afternoon at my parents' house, not trusting myself to practice patience from sun up to sun down all by myself!

We had fun playing in the driveway, just running, crawling and scribbling with sidewalk chalk.

Did I mention he's always on the move?

So sweet most of the time with his baby sister. Getting down on her level for a minute, crawling towards her and waving 'Hi!' with the cheesy grin that ALWAYS makes her laugh.

Answered prayer - finding joy in their sibling relationship. At 10 months and 2 years old. I was thinking later on, years down the road... but I'll gladly take it now!

Holding hands on the concrete

Ellie's quiet spirit brings me peace during the day. I just soak it up. And her chubby, edible cheeks beg to be kissed every time I am near her, and that always sweetens me up.

Mima shows Robbie how to make it 'rain' blossom petals by shaking the branches!

Ellie is introduced to the leaves...

The wonder of a little one just slows your momentum down - this is the first time she is really looking at leaves, feeling their texture, smelling the blossoms. I stopped and snapped picture after picture of her world getting bigger with this new discovery. What a blessing to be able to be present...


What is a week without a park date with Riley?! We wouldn't know, thankfully.

How 2 children can be different in so many wonderful ways, and yet have such a strong bond of friendship is a reminder to me that we aren't all the same... and that's a good thing. It's actually very beautiful.

See the woman on the left with the bubbles? She just might have been my angel with skin on for the day. I don't know her. Robbie enjoyed playing in the bubbles she blew for who knows how long, as the 2 young boys she was taking care of played nearby. She even tried to teach Robbie how to blow through the wand, very patiently I might add, and later helped him onto a big kid swing and made sure he didn't fall as she gently pushed him in the swing next to one of the boys in her care. A sweet reminder that we're all doing our best, and that when the moment presents itself, it can be nearly heroic to step in, entertain, and love on someone else's child.

Robbie's new fascination with wood chips means he is rarely without a 'toy'.

It is really too bad that 2 seconds after I took this picture, he chucked the wood chips in his hand at Riley's belly. No babies were harmed in the making of this blog post! Blessing from this moment: Riley's quick forgiveness.


An in-your-face reminder that God is the One who orchestrates every step of this journey...
My dear friend, Cheryl, has been offered an incredible job in Washington, DC, and plans to accept and move there in less than 3 weeks. It would be impossible for me to explain why this is so awesome. So you'll have to trust me when I say it is evidence that God is not only paying attention to each of us, but He is unfolding a very carefully thought out plan in our lives. The greatest part is that in a matter of hours, she realized that she would be resigning from her current job/position, accepting a new job that starts in mere weeks, moving across the country for at least 8 months, and was told to take a long weekend to go home... which meant she could spend time with family and friends before the big transition as well as be at her own home, to rest and get it ready for the next 8 months. And the awesome part that blessed ME was that she spent her first morning home with Robbie, Ellie and me!

We drove through the Arboretum (it was cold and starting to rain) with coffee for us, munchkins for Robbie, and a milk bottle for Ellie... and just talked about life. Where we have been, where we are going, and how awesome God is throughout all of it.
You guessed it, more blessing and encouragement.

This guy loves his Auntie Cheryl!

"Blow a kiss!"

I am so sad {selfishly} that Cheryl continues to not be a physical part of our daily life with this new job development out east. Something she said recently has stuck with me; each moment is a gift and we don't know how long we have these opportunities. Cheryl and I have lived literally 3 blocks apart for the last 3 years, she has seen us through ALL of our life as a new little family, including our wedding, Robbie's birth and surgery, and Ellie's birth. I never imagined that she would be absent from these months I have spent figuring out how to be a mom of two instead of just one... I thought I would always be able to put the kids in the stroller and walk 5 minutes to her house when I needed or wanted to. I have known her since I was in junior high, and even had the chance to work with her at the same association a few years ago. We have laughed about the fact that we are the only ones who have known the other in every aspect of our lives (family, church, work, personal life). It is so rare to have that with anyone at all!

I just wish my kids had more time with her.
Although I'm praying for amazing things for her in DC, you know I am praying her back home!


And finally, because this was all just getting a little too heavy...

...what happened this morning when Mom and I tried to get Robbie to pose for a picture in the morning light by Miss Kim Lilacs. It's sort of what we get... doing this to a boy is just asking for it.

Story of my life right now: He was, however, pleased to sit by himself on the ledge, holding his own piece of the bush, for the amount of time he wanted to. Then we all moved on {and learned our lesson}.

This doesn't count as physical exertion, but it WAS just plain fun! Playing with a train set at a cute bookstore in a quaint little town nearby after brunching (is that a word?) together. Nothing like a change of pace to keep the kids guessing.


I hope this is encouraging to you... whether you find yourself in a similar place in life or not. I needed the reminder to adjust my expectations, believe the best about others including my kids, take my cares to God, be filled by His Spirit, and be aware of the blessings all around me, even on the most challenging days.

*If you have similar stories, or a response to this post, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For the blog book

...because pictures in the header don't transfer when I make my blog into a published book,
and this one simply cannot be forgotten!

It's been a long week.
Yes, I realize it's Tuesday night.
I hope to have some cute pictures of the fun that will inevitably be had this week.
For now, we are focusing on discipline.
And no one wants to read about that on a blog.

But I will say, I am learning a lot first hand about living by the Spirit (grateful for Beth Moore's bible study, amazing and well-timed! I am prepared...) as Rob and I parent. I am learning that Robbie's behavior is affected by my expectation of his behavior. And I am so grateful that God doesn't give us these precious children, ask us to parent them, and then walk away from us. I think this task is incredibly important to Him, and I sense His presence as we seek to raise our children the way He has asked us to. I have a renewed sense of gratitude for our copies of Scripture that clearly guide us in our parenting. What in the world would we be doing if we were making this all up on our own, without any Authority to guide us?! ::shudder:: Thank you, Lord, for giving us your Word and your Spirit to live by.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

She comes alive on the weekends!

I kid you not, every weekend Ellie does something new! I think she holds out on me during the week until Daddy is home on the weekends. :)

This weekend? Pulling up. I found her in her crib like this after one of her naps...

She was very pleased with herself.

I have since raised the side bar on her crib (as in immediately after snapping these shots off).

She showed off her new strength this afternoon by pulling up on her activity table to her knees.

Look out, world! Ellie's on the move!

Friday, April 23, 2010


We are big fans of puzzles...

Especially those of the wooden variety that make sounds when you pull the pieces out.
We keep getting them as gifts and they are awesome!

Ellie is easily entertained (like her mommy).

What are you doing, mom?

Oohhh, you have the camera out again!

I need a new headshot.

Crawling directly at the camera is hazardous. She didn't stop soon enough and bonked her nose on my lens right after I took this picture. She cried, and I soothed her while trying not to laugh.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I miss those 2 tiny curls.


Robbie went a little over 24 hours paci-free, including his nap yesterday AND bedtime/overnight last night! He just spent the last hour trying to get himself to sleep for his nap (failing miserably) so I relented and instituted the paci-in-bed-only rule, until we can get him a little more comfortable with the idea. I felt so badly for him when his lip quivered and tears welled up in his eyes after putting him back in bed for the 3rd time, and he weakly begged for "Paci?". I leave the 3 pacis that we have left in his dresser drawer, as all others have been lost. It helps keep me from giving them to him during the day - there are simply none to give! I didn't realize I'd have to cut myself off of them, too. They are so soothing to him, if he acts out in a store or falls and is sad at a playground, a paci is all he needs to make his little world right again.

And because I don't want to fool you into thinking we are living a wild and crazy life over here (haha), I also celebrated the fact that today at lunch all 3 of us ate the same thing! Macaroni and fruit. I forgot how easy it was to just make one meal. In the last few months I have been making 3 at every mealtime!

Yesterday's images

Yesterday Riley came over for a sidewalk chalk and trains playdate. So fun!

Is there anything better than a good friend to play trains with?

Such a {beautiful} serious face!
Don't you love how tiny those shoulders are?

Practicing her new trick - squinting!
{Future artist in the making?...}

And the reason for posting today...

Ellie develops an appetite for snacking! And it is ferocious.

I think you can click on the collage below to make it larger on your screen... I couldn't narrow down the number of pictures any more than this! Look for the image that shows our sweet girl jamming 4 crunchies in her mouth at the same time. She does not lack enthusiasm.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If you know how to slow them down, let me know.

The hostas in front and behind our house are starting to really come up right now! I love how in the last week, the blossoms have exploded on the trees, the daffodils are in full bloom, and our back yard is coming to life again. The clematis on our back deck is already higher than the top of the railing! Springtime is so amazing - last year it was rich with the anticipation of our baby girl, and the year before that we were learning what it meant to be parents for the first time, to our sweet boy. We are so fortunate that God has lavished these blessings on us.

I figured you (*meaning mainly the grandparents, aunts and uncles!) wanted to hear more about those 2 little blessings... and since I've done a pretty good job of keeping you up to date on what they look like but not such a great job of what they're up to, here's the rundown:

This spring, Robbie is a chatty, always mimicking, tender hearted, mini version of his daddy. He cannot get enough of his GeoTrax train set (forever, thank you Rach!), sidewalk chalk, Thomas the Train videos / toys / sticker and coloring books / you get the idea, and going to parks. He can eat all of his meals with utensils, rarely spilling unless he is in a hurry or distracted, and still requires sippy cups. Our first 2 attempts with juice boxes did not go well. In the mornings when he eats breakfast, he'll look out the window and say to me 'beau-ful day!' if it's sunny outside. He also lets me know that my pink toenails are pretty. When we play outside he can always be caught doing 2 things - running down the sidewalk until he sees a house he likes, then darting into their yard and down the side of the house(!), and tromping up the mulchy hill surrounding the tree in our front yard, grabbing the tree with both hands, and yelling "Mom and Dad? MOM AND DAD!!" Yes, he is still doing this. I need to stop laughing at it or he's going to be a grown man saying weird things to trees with his nutty old mom nearby laughing her head off. I guess there are worse things...

One of my favorite things right now about Robbie is how engaged he is with Sunday School. Since Ellie will not let me leave her in the nursery (she screams), I keep her in the sanctuary during worship with us on Sunday morning and then we head to the cry room or pace the halls, depending on her needs. On our way we always check on Robbie. I usually find him sitting in the semi-circle of tiny chairs with his hands folded on his lap, attentively listening to the story, singing along with the songs, or holding his friend Riley's hand. Upon picking him up from his class, he always hands me his picture or craft and is so very proud of what he has created. In the car on the way home we talk about what he learned that morning, or what new songs they sang. This is where things get tricky - he's a really good communicator, but things are definitely getting lost in translation! We have to piece together songs by talking with other friends who have kids a little older than Robbie to get all of the lyrics right. For a few weeks he kept making a fist and saying, "pound! pound! pound!" then opening his hand up, splaying out his fingers and moving his hand back and forth over his other forearm, saying "saw! saw! saw!". We've since figured out it has something to do with 'building the house of Jesus all around', but who really knows.

I love catching Robbie in the act when he's being sweet to Ellie. My favorite is when he recently started to bring Ellie a toy to play with before he sits down to play trains. If she is nearby, I always ask him to pick one toy to share with Ellie so that she has something to play with (forcing him to learn to share, but also giving him some control over what that item is). He never fights me on this - always peaceably picks one of his trains (often Thomas!), and sets it gently in front of Ellie. Now he frequently does it without my asking. It pleases me so much, and I find myself pausing many times during each day to pray silently over his heart - Lord let him always love Ellie, be quick to share what he has with others, be kind hearted, and respond to You when You nudge Him!

Our challenges with him right now are temper tantrums. They flare up when he is tired or hungry (like clockwork, around 10am and 4pm). Also interesting is that I notice a change in his temperament if he hasn't had a paci to suck on after a while. Uh oh. We are on the cusp of getting rid of paci's altogether, a process I am dreading.

What is SO much fun right now is watching his sense of humor develop. He gets a kick out of making Rob and I laugh, and during the day when he and I sing together he often substitutes a word in the song for something silly... for example, "Jesus loves YOGURT! / ELLIE! / POOPIES! this I know, for the Bible tells me so...". I kid you not. Sacrilege? Maybe. Again, I have to stop laughing.

Ellie is in that phase where she is growing up exponentially and it makes me want to scream "SLOW DOWN!". In one weekend she recently decided to eat chunky solid food and wave hello. This past week she has experimented with opening, closing and squinting her eyes (I completely remember this phase with Robbie and all the pictures to prove it!), has developed a strong attachment to her snack cup and demands that it always be filled with Gerber Puffs, and continues to cut new teeth. She has her bottom middle pair of teeth, and the upper left middle tooth has been coming down for weeks. The next tooth to the left of that one has started to really come down, and I can already feel the bud for the tooth to the left of that one as well! {Pause with me for just a moment at the image of a baby girl with 3 teeth on the top left side of her mouth and none on her right!! Yes, it looks a little hilarious.} She crawls the length of any room she's in now, and the speed at which she moves is directly related to whether or not Robbie is in the room. If he's there, she's in a hurry to be by his side. If he's not, she sort of meanders around, exploring at her leisure.

I probably embarrassed myself this morning with the refrigerator repair man (who has 1 kid and 1 on the way, so maybe he 'gets it'...), but Ellie was contentedly playing near me as I spoke with him about our refrigerator, and I decided to give her a snack to keep her happy. Who knew that we would be discovering her new favorite food? I reached for Robbie's Gerber corn puff snack stick things... they're like the baby version of Cheetos. This one was flavored vegetable, and I offered one to Ellie... she nearly bit my finger off as she lunged with her face at my outstretched hand! From that moment on, she grunted and 'mmmm'-ed and clenched her fists as she devoured stick after stick! We moved from the kitchen to the living room when the repair man had to use a very loud piece of equipment, and continued our (her) snacking in the other room. Upon completion of his work, the repair man called me back into the kitchen for a quick explanation of what he had discovered. I tried to take the snack stick container with me (leaving Ellie in the living room to play with toys) and received an angry shout from her, so I left her with it for a few moments. I returned to find her frantically jamming 3 or 4 sticks in her mouth at the same time! Often her fist would get stuck in her mouth (releasing food from her grasp is sometimes hard to remember as she eats). Once she had sufficiently filled her mouth with food, she would let out aggressive grunts and satisfied 'mmMMMmmm!'s. I have never seen her like this with food! It was hilarious, if not animalistic. Glad to see she's got her mommy's appetite. :) I couldn't help but laugh out loud, and then explained to the repair man what she was doing because I felt awkward not telling him what was so funny to me in the other room. I know he probably didn't care, but his very sweet comment was 'don't you love that age!?'.

Ellie's recent challenges have been waking up through the night, often at 2 or 3am and sometimes again at 4 or 5am. No doubt this is due to teething (she typically sleeps soundly for 12 hours in a row), and last night I led a preemptive strike against her pearly whites by giving her a dose of Tylenol. Jackpot - she didn't wake up once! I feel badly that she is so bothered by the teething process, as Robbie didn't seem troubled until he started to cut his eye teeth and molars. She also continues to struggle with constipation, aggravated by the fact that she is eating more chunky solid food. It seems worse if I give her cheese or even soy yogurt, so dairy is still a problem for her system (not relenting even to multiple jars of pureed prunes! yikes.). I have heard from various people, including her pediatrician, that sometimes goat's milk is better to use when transitioning from formula to real milk, and that thought completely grosses me out. I am praying that her system figures out how to break down dairy so that we can stop buying Nutramigen and just switch to Robbie's milk (organic cow's milk) at some point in the near future. But it really pains her so we will just do whatever is necessary when the time comes.

Ellie seems to be enjoying the worship part of church more and more! She bounces in my arms and in the last 2 weeks started to 'sing' when we would sing, and let out happy 'ahhHHHhhh!'s when the congregation clapped after baptism! Her social side is emerging and I love it. Between this and the crawling, I really feel like I no longer have a 'baby'. She continues to be perfectly content in the stroller as long as there is something going on around her or we're moving, and I love how predictable she is with naps. I know exactly what to expect out of our days right now with both kids, and for that reason we're able to get out once or twice each day to do something fun / outdoors.

She still doesn't take a paci (which isn't a problem because she needs zero consoling throughout the day! happy girl...), loves her milk bottles and prefers that I do not help her hold them, enjoys a sippy cup or two of water every day and actually rejects juice, falls asleep on her own for naps and bedtime, is thrilled to take her baths with Robbie (the feeling is mutual, as he always happily exclaims 'Two fit!' upon both of them getting in the tub together), hates the part of getting dressed where you have to pull sleeves on and always gets mad at me, will NOT lay still for me to change a single diaper unless I give her a toy and really work to entertain her the whole time, leans over to stare at what Robbie is doing most of the time when we are driving in the van, and wears size 3 diapers / size 9 month and 12 month clothes depending on brand / size 3 shoes.

Also, I cut off her 2 curls this past weekend.

I haven't told anyone yet, and I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it. I just carried them down to show Rob afterwards and nearly cried, but pulled it together because really? They were ridiculous. Cute, but ridiculous. Worse than a baby mullet, I might point out. Why do moms get attached to things like 'original baby hair!"...?

I have found the easiest way to handle these things is don't think about it too much beforehand, don't announce that you're going to do it, don't gather opinions from people you know, and don't dwell on the fact that you only cut your baby girl's first curls off once, tuck them into a little clear baggie and wistfully assign them to a page in the baby book, to be pulled out in the future who knows how many times to touch... darn it, why am I crying!? haha.

She will just have to grow more. And yet I want to slow down all the growing! Apparently I can't have it all.

Oh, and I promise to share a little collection of the pictures I took during today's gorge session with the Gerber sticks. Curls not present.

Sunday, April 18, 2010