Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Duke Gardens

One thing that we want to be as a family is to be outdoors - to enjoy nature - to not need electronics or devices or TV to satisfy us - to drink deeply of nature...ok, ok, so you all know I'm a tree hugger - sometimes literally. And I taught my daughter how to hug a tree in our front yard the other day. Come on now'

So, when we moved to North Carolina we were thrilled at all the nature around. Texas is beautiful, don't get me wrong.  But it was hard for us to find places that were pretty to go to in Central Texas.  Then the Smith family met Duke Gardens and other naturey areas around. Oh my word.  Score!

We bundled up before Spring officially came in and headed to feed the ducks.  I could look at this next picture for hours.  Just adorable!

I had JT. Y'all, look at how long he is on me.  He cracks me up!
Then Spring has officially arrived and it is beautiful here!  I took the kids to Duke Gardens to meet Mike for lunch one day last week.  Notice the double jogging stroller? I'm so stoked to get to use this thing!
This was our little picnic area.  Complete with Bella unpacking and repacking JT's bag. And with JT unpacking everything else to chew on.

Happy Spring everyone!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jonathan - 11 months

JT - you are not going to be 1 in less than a month, right?


Denial won't work this time.

Our little boy is 11 months old.  And such a joy.  This is the look he'll give you when you turn to look at him.  He's already smiling. It's so funny and sweet!
He's finally eating sweet peas - kindof.  And apples - kindof.  We're working on it.  I don't mind though. He'll learn eventually.
He has learned to give hugs. Ok, so I taught him.  "Can you give me a hug, JT?" as I put his head on my shoulder. It's finally caught on and now he'll do it when you ask.  Oh my goodness. Melt my heart! If you think i'm bad, you should see Mike when he gets a hug.  Putty!
Uhm, so I had to post this one.  Because, look at that long boy!  He comes up to Bella's shoulders, y'all.  He really doesn't even look like an 11 month old.  This is a 24 month outfit.  That will not fit next week if he grows at all.
He has seven teeth but I think he's working on another one.
He's learned to wave and loves to wave now. At. Everyone!  He still likes to suck on his tongue or just stick it out.
He is really quick at crawling, likes to transfer from one piece of furniture to the next, and will walk with one hand on me or his daddy.  Uh oh. Here we go!  He also likes to climb our stairs and has no fear in trying to go down them.  "Trying" is the key word.
His hair is getting longer and thicker. And it looks pretty red to me.  yay!
Little man, thank you for being such a sweet boy. We love you!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lent - Daddy Love

Sometimes when Bella is upset or moody or mad, Mike will grab her and say, "You need some daddy love".  Sometimes this works to make her laugh. Other times, well, it doesn't. Nonetheless, Mike's heart is the heart of father who will give some daddy love when times are tough.  I'm very grateful for a husband that displays love to his daughter.  And, also grateful for a husband who points me to the Father by his actions.

 This Lent season has been about that type of love.  It's about a Father who will hug us even when we're moody or upset or concerned or worried.  It's about looking up at the Father, our Abba Father.
 It's about resting in His Unconditional Love.
 It's about His Steadfastness and Righteousness and Mercy and Justice.
 And, then it's about being free in that Steadfast Love and Righteousness and Mercy.  Free to love. Free to run.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweet Bella - 3 years and 5 months

Our sweet Bella is growing like a weed lately - and if it's like the weeds in our front beds that are persistent ... she's growing alot!  I have to laugh when I put her clothes on and then go put JT's clothes on.  I can't keep Bella's pants on - little skinny minny!  And I can't button JT's. ha!  Also, JT can wear some of Bella's night clothes.  For example, I put him in one of her Elmo 2T shirts to sleep in the other night. And it fit. Sigh.

Bella is certainly blossoming in her tenacity and personality too.  We no longer say "strong willed" but rather "spirited".  (The reason behind this is for another blog for another time.)  Suffice it to say that our little gal is very spirited and persistent and tenacious and outgoing.  And, then she'll be the most compassionate little thing ever.  Her heart is so sensitive to people around her hurting these days.  We pray as parents that we can nurture that sweet heart along with her persistent spirit to be who "Bella" is.

One thing she likes to do lately with me is "be a big helper". That's what she calls herself. "I'm a big helper".  Even when that means clearing the dishes from the table and dropping every piece of crumb along the way to the sink.  It's helping though and I couldn't be more proud of her.  Nothing a little vacuum won't help, right?
Here's our helped washing dishes.
Well, kindof.
This is where we have been a lot lately!  This fabulous little courtyard has become one of our favorite spots to color and play and roam. 
It's also a great spot to play peek-a-boo with "brudder".

This is my view from the kitchen window over the sink.  Bliss, I tell ya!  Windows are open alot these days.
Here's a glimpse of my daily life with the kids.  Coloring, playdoh and epidemiological homework happening on this countertop.
Bella got some fun gifts from Neena and Granddad too.  She LOVES stickers right now. And glue. And colors. And more stickers.  I am finding stickers all over the house and her toys. ha!
Here's our little artist hard at work.  She's actually pretty good at coloring in the lines these days. And, gets very proud of herself when she does this. 
Some other updates for Bella:
-She is loving school.  She comes home and tells us "she played with her friends and didn't learn. Well, I learn a little bit." hysterical!
-She is still singing "A B C D E DADDY..." I am not going to correct her yet. It's so stinkin' adorable.
-Skinny minny is tallllll and skinny.  She wore an XS skirt today but it promptly fell off when we went outside to run. oops!  We need a belt.
-She likes to tell stories.  So we make them up in the bathtub.  I'll start it by saying, "Once upon a time there was a ___" and she'll say a "kangaroo" or a "princess" or a "strong dragon"...then the story progresses to her imagination's content.  This is one of my favorite times.
-She loves to run and play soccer and now wants to play basketball.
-Her new favorite question "what's that word mean?" Try to explain what the word 'cloud' or 'dragon' or 'patience' means to a persistent 3 year old.  And, I thought my PhD program was hard.

Sweet Bella, you are a delight.  We look forward to see you become more of who "Bella" is.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lent - Coming home

Most of us have heard the story about the prodigal son.  The son squanders his dad's money, lives with the pigs, wants to come home, worries about coming home, goes home, the father runs to meet the son, they party. The End.

Today, Mike told the story again. And, it sounded different. Or maybe I was different and needed to hear it.   The story was the same - The son squanders his dad's money, lives with the pigs, wants to come home, worries about coming, goes home - but then something changes. 

He had been rehearsing in his head, "I'll tell my dad that I am no longer worthy to be your son. Make me your servant" during mile 1. 

Mile 9 came..."I'll tell my dad that I am no longer worthy to be your son. Make me your servant". 

Mile 18..."I'll tell my dad that I am no longer worthy to be your son. Make me your servant".

Maybe during one of those rehearsals time he sees someone in the distance running, sprinting towards him.  His father was running at the sight of seeing his son.  At the moment they finally met, the son had his rehearsal speech ready.  But the father didn't even address his son.

He told his servants, "Go get a robe.  Get a ring.  My son has come home."

The father didn't let the son use his excuses to prevent him from being his son.

The father simply gave him a robe. A ring. The qualities of son-ship.

Perhaps, this Lent season for me is about coming home in my heart.   I think Lent has surprised me so far. I thought it would be this glorious season of letting something go. The days would be met with grand times of worship and feelings on contentment.  Instead, the days are met with coming more and more to terms with just how much I need Him.  How much I want to want him.  How much I need to need Him.  How much I haven't needed Him but desperately want to.

Lent so far has been hard and challenging.  It's hurt and has been non-perfect and difficult.  But I do know that this is true - I have a Father that welcomes me with a sprint smack-dab into me when He sees me coming home. I have a Father who won't let my excuses or shame prevent me from being His daughter. I have a Father who exchanges my pig-slobbed clothes for a robe and put his seal of love on my finger. I have a Father who tells me again, "This is my daughter. She has come home".

This whole Lent season may be times of simply coming home over and over again in my heart.  But I certainly know that He is so faithful through these times and that He is doing a work in my heart even when I can't feel it.  So we keep walking and waiting and walking and waiting.  Maybe it's time to change the "rehearsal speech".  Maybe it's time to remember what we're walking towards - the Cross.  Then, it will be time to party.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

JT - 10 months

Brudder (as Bella calls him) is 10 months old, y'all! Well, 10.5 now - but i'm in denial. So i'm saying 10 months.
This little cutie is still so happy.  One of my favorite times is coming into a room that he is in and he breaks into a smile.  He is definitely a momma's-boy!
On that same note, he is starting to get a little personality - with a capitol "P".  I'll walk out of a room he revolts by yelling and screaming and crawling over to where I went. It's cute and funny at the same time.  He is also getting an attitude.  We'll take something away from him that he doesn't need to have - and he throws a fit - like a "cry-really-hard-on-the-floor-with-your-head-down" cry.
He is now pulling up on everything and has started to let go. What? I don't remember Bella doing that this early. But JT sees his sister doing that so i'm sure he's ready to run.
He likes to click his tongue and smack his lips.  He is very proud of himself when he does that too!
He is so quick, y'all.  He might not be walking yet but he is crawling fast enough it seems like he's walking.  We are in trouble for sure!
He likes to "chase" his sister.  Bella will run around the room and he tries so hard to get to her.  This usually looks like him darting back and forth and then laughing. It's so cute.   Some of those times in the evening are my favorites - both kids laughing at eachother!  They also argue (already?) - but the laughing times make up for it.
He has found the tupperware stash.  What is it about lids and containers that kids love? 
Notice his outfit? Little Sunday Morning stud-muffin!
He is 24 pounds and 31 inches - translated as "big boy!".  I took him to the grocery store the other day and two women had a "moment" very loudly and let me know how big he was.  Yes I know he is bigger than your two year old...
If the door is open he is looking outside.  He likes to makes noises at the birds and squirrels that play in our courtyard.
He is saying 'da da' and 'da da' and 'da da' and 'ba' and 'da da'.  Don't worry. We're working on 'I love mommy!'.
He has six teeth and I think he's working on another one.  He loves to bite - everyone - and everything.
He likes to suck on (and kindof eat) apples and oranges.  We're still working on solids - which is not going too well. Oh well. I don't think he's hurting for nourishment. ha!
JT, you are a joy!