Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thoughts

"Don't believe everything you think." 

Thanks, Mandy Sears. Through the years I have come to realize how the enemy hunts me. Unfortunately, He is pretty good at finding weak areas and pushing them over and over again. His goal is to steal my joy and purpose, to kill, and to destroy everything of God. At times, I become the enemy. My own thoughts can take me down a path of complete destruction. I need to be careful of what I feed myself. Thoughts are powerful. Whatever I feed in my thought life will get stronger.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Self Acceptance

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of, for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking."
- George MacDonald

Do I want to be who I pretend to be, who others think I should be, who I have failed to be, or do I want to be who God created me to be?



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Birmingham Zoo

Last Thursday we took a family trip to the zoo. I have lived in Birmingham for almost 10 years (dang, that sounds long) and I had never been to the zoo. It's not that I haven't wanted to go. I'd just never made it a priority. I was encouraged by my coworkers this past weekend to take Owen. I decided Thursday (Patrick's off day) would be the perfect time to go.



We got there around 9:30 and I think we left close to 12:00. It was a quick visit, but I guess that's how it goes with an 18 month old in tow. I really think Owen enjoyed it in spite of the quick tour. We just never stopped long enough to read much of anything about the animals. It was, "Look at the otter!" and then after a few seconds he was ready for the next animal.

watching the elephants



I had fun watching Owens' independence emerge. We took the Bob stroller with us but he probably only sat in it for about 20 seconds the whole time we were there. He wanted to walk around and explore. About midway through the trip Patrick and I realized that he probably would have been just as happy to explore the Botanical Gardens. Owen is really into plants at the moment. He's fascinated by leaves, flowers, grass, sticks, dirt, rocks, all of it. The animals were great, but he couldn't touch them. He's in a tactile stage I guess.

Overall, I'm glad we went. It was funny to see Owens reaction or non-reaction to the animals. I'm sure we will go back for another visit at some point. Sometimes I forget how much this city has to offer. It really is a great place to live.



Monday, May 19, 2014

18 Months


This little man is 18 months old as of yesterday. He is starting to look more and more like a little boy each day. His hair is finally growing in thick(er) and it helps make him look older.


Health and Growth:
I'm pretty certain he had a growth spurt recently. He is wearing a lot of 24 month size outfits now. We go to see the pediatrician on Thursday. Maybe he will be built like me with a long torso and short strong legs. He got his daddy's pigeon toes though. I'm actually wondering what they are going to say about it. I'm kind of suspecting that they are going to tell us to put his shoes on the wrong feet for a while.


Milestones:
I feel like I'm really bad and reporting on these, but I'm trying to at least record what sticks out. Let's see...

Cognitive:
He will correctly point to specific body parts when prompted. "Where is/are your... nose, ears, eyes, hair, teeth, bellybutton, toes, fingers." Amazing to see that he understands what we are asking and will correctly point to the right thing. I can ask him to throw something away and he will. It's nice getting him to pick up his own dropped cheerios off the floor. He is also learning to pretend play. Hilarious for sure! He mostly likes to pretend to cook, eat, and drink things. He's his daddy through and through!

Speech:
We've got some words starting to form. It's fun to hear his little voice. Owen's first word was "ball." He has mastered "bye" and "baby". He also consistently says, "bath" and "teeth" but they come out more like "ba" and "teese". "Daddy" is pronounced "dadden" and for some reason I am "momma" sometimes but more often I am "bobyn". Some days he really likes to practice one word in particular but then he stops saying it for a while which I have found interesting. For example, one day he walked around peeking around the couch or corners every so often so that he could say "hey". He would even leave the room and come back so he could practice. Then he stopped saying the word for a few days. His new words in the past week include "shoes" and "go." They are pronounced "oose" and "gu." I am already loving the language development stage. It's hilarious to hear the whole process and discover what words he comes up with.

Owen had a moment of clear speech last week that I posted on. He said, "Love you, Daddy." It still makes me happy thinking about it. Funny how he will occasional burst out with some words that are completely clear. He told me "Love you" the following night when I put him to bed. Then he told me "bye" as I walked out of his room. 


Motor:
He is starting to enjoy his blocks. He mastered putting them together to build towers. He is also getting around a lot better. Climbing stairs is his favorite and he's getting a lot faster at it. I can't get him to go down more than a couple before he begs me to carry him. I've been teaching him how to go down them on his tummy.

Eating:
When Owen get's hungry he will walk over to his highchair, point to it and say,"Eese, eese" (translation: Eat, eat). He loves just about everything we put in front of him. He can be funny about green vegetables sometimes but I can't really figure out why. Sometimes he will gobble up zucchini but then the next week he will spit it out. He will do the same with asparagus. I'm not sure why he has such a love hate relationship with his greens. He is still drinking whole milk three times a day and water with snacks. We don't really offer juice since his tummy seems to have no digestion problems. He is starting to eat with utensils some of the time. There was one morning in particular that he refused to eat his eggs until I gave him a fork.


Sleeping:
We are down to one nap a day and still sleeping through the night. Owen began dropping his early morning nap around 16 months. It was a gradual process. The morning nap started happening later and then some days he wouldn't nap in the afternoon. I would always put him in his crib for some quiet time at least, but he didn't always sleep. That's when I knew he was really done with two naps. For a while it was back and forth as to whether he would take one or two naps that day. We just kind of rolled with it until he was through with the transition. He now wakes up around 8:00am, takes a nap around 1pm, and goes to bed around 7:30 or 8pm.

Loves:
Praise baby, puppies, playing outside, going through drawers and cabinets, and reading books. Owen also loves dancing. He will shake his shoulders and stomp his feet and it's one of the cutest things I've ever seen. One of my greatest joys is watching Patrick dance around with Owen in his arms in the kitchen. I hope the image stays in my head forever. Tickle monster is a knew favorite game. I love watching a smile creep across his face when I ask, "Owen, do you want to play tickle monster?" He will laugh and then ask for more.


Besides eating which we've covered (see above), this boy also loves to hear mommy sing just about anything. I will only sing for him. I cherish it because I know that one day he will realize that mommy can't carry a tune in a bucket and he won't want to hear me anymore. For now, I enjoy singing and watching him clap along.

Quick story... Owen and I went to visit my family a few weeks ago. It's about a 3 hour drive and we weren't driving during nap hours so Owen was awake the whole time. After about an hour, he became restless. To pass the time and keep him calm, I began singing. I sang a little bit of everything.... Wheels on the bus, itsy bitsy spider, take me out the ballgame, and then I starting singing the "groundhog song." It's some crazy song my dad used to sing to us when we were little and I have no earthly idea where it came from. As I finished up the song I looked up to see Owen signing the word "more" to me. So I sang the whole song again. I looked back and he was smiling and clapping for me. Once again, he signed "more." This time I tried singing something different... Oh buddy, instant tears... So I stopped and said, "Owen, do you want the song about the groundhog?" He laughed and nodded his head yes. I lost count of how many times I had to sing about the old groundhog. Small sacrifice to keep the peace on a long solo car trip.


Hates:
Owen hates the sun in his face, but he also hates hats and sunglasses. He doesn't like the water being turned off in the tub, being told it's time for "night night", the vacuum cleaner, the power drill (anything loud really), and that could be about it. Luckily, it's a short list right now.

Dear Owen,
What an incredible blessing you are! We've experienced such sadness during the past few months. Your Papa and your Granny both went to Heaven. You were also going to have a little brother or sister at the end of this summer, but God had different plans. I can honestly tell you that you have brought smiles during sadness and laughter in the midst of tears.

Being your mommy is the best job I've ever had. You are such a sweet baby and I'm not just saying that because you are mine. People tell me all the time how sweet you are. Strangers comment on how well behaved you are. You blow kisses to people wherever you go. The restaurant that we eat at every week has even told us that you are the only baby that they will seat in the bar section. You are so content and very observant. You only really get upset if you are hurt, hungry, or tired. 

I pray that this sweet nature of yours continues. I'm excited to watch you grow and develop into my little boy. I hope that you always know how much I love you. I love you so much that it almost hurts. I love you so much that there is nothing you can do to change it. What's amazing is that God loves you even more than that. I'm so thankful he chose me to be your mom.

I know that we have many years ahead. I also know that they will go by in a flash. I'm aware that the teenage years can be troublesome. They will come and, Lord willing, we will get through them together just like every hurdle we've faced thus far. I hope that you will learn to lean forward into life without fear and without guilt. The Lord has you in the palm of his hand. Cling to Him, sweet boy. He will never let you go.

Love always and forever,
Mommy

Friday, May 16, 2014

Life through my lens

It's starting to look like Calvin and Hobbs over here.


Poor Hobbs


It might be time to take your baby inside when the back of his head looks like this.


Mommy kisses

Snuggles before work.

Obsessed with this book.

Where's Hobbs?

Nap time?

Love those red cheeks.

Love that smile more.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sweetly Broken

"Brokenness is when the Holy Spirit gloriously ruins your life."

This quote came from my journal. I've been broken many times. However, my breaking point (the first real break) occurred the summer before eighth grade. Yes, God broke me young. I'm glad he did. I think that's why I love youth ministry so much. The worst and best kind of breaking leads to God.

My life was ruined but God's life for me began. Selfishness began to fade. Love replaced empty places. It really was and still is glorious.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Heart

*The following post was prompted by my thoughts this past week. Because of a program I'm involved in, I had to spend time thinking about what God has been showing me. It was easier to just sit my butt down and type my way through it. This is where I ended up.

I'll be honest, when the diagnosis came in, my mind went a little crazy. There is something great about going a little bit crazy though. Let me explain.

The beginning of this year was rough. Not only was there personal struggle with our pregnancy and loss, but it seemed that our families were going through a lot. My brother and sister in law learned that their second child, Annie, has a severe form of spina bifida (you can follow and read about their journey here). Patrick's Papa passed away somewhat unexpectedly. A couple weeks later his Granny passed away. We were aching for ourselves and the people that we love. My feelings and emotions were all over the place. I was a grab bag of devastated, hurt, disconnected, and angry.

We started this spring emotionally and physically drained. I was facing weekly blood draws and for some reason my job became almost unbearable to me at times. On top of that, anxiety started creeping into my life. Patrick and I began to argue like we've never really done before. I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. Guess what? In the midst of the crazy, God was working. He's sneaky sometimes.

I had been feeling like every day was a battle to get out of bed and do something- anything. Then I noticed that as my drive to be physically fit intensified, it wasn't such a battle. Seriously, I was working out hard the week after my miscarriage even though I was completely exhausted. I followed my desire to work out and hello endorphins (God bless them). I'm not kidding. I think God was behind that push to bring healing hormones. The more I worked out the more I wanted healthy foods. Healthy food for me always equals more energy. I needed energy. I needed it as much as I needed air to breathe. Now, these are just the physical things.

In my head, I was still unorganized. I was unsure of what I was feeling. I didn't want to talk to God about any of it. I was mad and distrustful. For a couple weeks, I read only my Bible, which is funny to me. I hadn't been regularly reading since the fall. I had a hard time connecting, though. Does God really love me? Didn't he hear me praying and begging for that little baby to be okay? Does he really care about me and my deep desires? That's where I was. I was doubting God's heart towards me all over again. My head knew the right answer and I could recite the right answer, but my heart was feeling otherwise.

I should also mention that since last fall I've been participating in a Battle for Women's Hearts program with three other women. There were a lot of weeks following the miscarriage that I half-assed my way through the devotionals. I left a lot of questions completely blank. I'm so thankful for these women. They get it. They loved me well and never pushed me to talk about anything. From the little sections that I did read, I felt God tugging me. He was calling me back. 

Then one day- breakthrough. I finally gave in. I prayed. I don't know why. I guess it was just the right time. I really prayed. I prayed that God would take away my bitterness and resentment. I prayed that he would help me love Patrick. I prayed that he would help me love Owen. I prayed that he would make me content again. Somewhere along the way in this broken world, I lost myself for a bit. You know what I've realized? Prayer is the biggest attitude adjustment. It is impossible to hide things and remain in sin when praying from the heart. God broke through to answer my deep longings.

Before I knew it, I was looking forward to praying every morning. Forget reading, I just wanted to talk to God. I felt rested. I felt hopeful. I felt like I was finally loving Patrick the way I wanted to but couldn't just a week before. I began to enjoy Owen again instead of just going through the motions. That's the part that breaks my heart now. I know he didn't realize it, but he had an absent mom there for a few weeks. I was here but I wasn't. I'm healing. I'm giving myself grace for that.

God has been teaching me. He's slowly showing me who I'm supposed to be and what my part in this world is supposed to look like. The good news? My part isn't complicated. It's being who God created me to be. God created me to be a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a mom, a nurse, a lover of the outdoors and much more.

I'm learning to live life from my whole heart- including my deepest desires. I'd forgotten about them a long time ago after I stuffed them away to collect dust. I'm slowly discovering them again and it feels liberating. I'm learning to be vulnerable- to admit what I want. Vulnerability isn't a bad thing- it is important and beautiful. I used to hate my vulnerability. I covered it with an independent facade. I feel like I'm free to be honest with myself and with other people now.

God loves me. I see now how he has taken care of me. He knew that I wasn't going to talk with him for a while. He knew that in order to keep going I would need other outlets (like my P90X3 workouts and my precious digging deeper girls). He knew that I was going to need extra "battle" women in my life for when these dark days arrived. He provided. My head has known that God loves me, but now heart feels that he loves me.

I may never know the complete reason God allowed our miscarriage and molar pregnancy. I may never fully understand why this season in our life was just so damn hard. Just because I can't imagine why God would allow it, doesn't mean there isn't a reason. I'm finding new growth after years of being stagnant. I'm discovering my heart. Could it be that what I needed in life has come from one of my most difficult and painful experiences? I have to believe that God has allowed my suffering for a greater purpose that directly relates to His glory and my good.  

 







Tuesday, May 13, 2014

He Talks


"Love you, Daddy."

Your daddy kissed you on the head and said, "I love you, Owen." He began walking towards the door...

Then you responded!!! "Love you, Daddy."

Your daddy and I froze with huge smiles on our faces. We almost couldn't believe our ears. Did you really just string three coherent words together? You just made our day. Maybe it was a fluke, but it was awesome. We love being your parents.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Basement Entertainment

I'm still not finished with the basement. I am making slow progress though! We now have an entertainment center. I found it online. Buying online can be risky, but I did my homework. I searched through a lot of different sites, read all of the reviews and decided on this one. It arrived in pieces.


I've purchased from Overstock before and I've always been happy with their customer service and the products. The one time I didn't use them for furniture (our dresser), I was disappointed in the quality. Unfortunately, assembly is usually required when purchasing from overstock, but I think that is why they have good deals. I spent a couple of hours last Sunday night putting this thing together.


Now that we have the entertainment center in place, we need the TV. Patrick has been researching that since it is more his department than mine. I've been playing with the furniture arrangement down there and trying to get motivated to finish the painting. Maybe I can finish by the end of the month?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Springtime Sweat

I love working in the yard during this time of year. Patrick and I are usually able to get outside and tackle a few projects. This has been our most recent project.


Unfortunately, I have no before to show you. Just picture that bed overgrown with prickly weeds, ferns, saplings, and some poison ivy. Oh wait, actually, just take a look at the other bed that we have yet to tackle and you no longer will need your imagination.


It's a mess. I can't wait to get after that second bed, but then again, I dread it. It's tough, back breaking work. These beds are located in the side yard where the driveway wraps around to the back. So we are greeted by them every day. The picture below gives a better idea of how close they are.


I'll be honest. One of the reasons I'm willing to get outside and do this kind of work is because I know that, once we clean up, we will end up on the back porch. When we end up on the back porch, we have drinks. Adult drinks.


Ah, life is good.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Life through my lens

our favorite place to shop
napping with daddy
because he just doesn't have enough toys...
Easter!
Silly faces
Girls beach week!
my happy place
Love this girl.
Sad face because we miss daddy.
These girls are gonna be in high school!
How could I not have a good morning?
blowing kisses
big smile
his happy place
"baw"