Thursday, January 30, 2014

December Festivities

In December we had a fun (and busy) time getting ready for Christmas. Since our boys are little, we are still experimenting a bit to see what traditions are the best ones for our family. This year we tried to do some Advent worship on several occasions. Jimmy got out his guitar, and the boys played instruments and danced around. We mainly sang "Silent Night," "Go, Tell It On the Mountain," and "Jingle Bells." We made it through several of the Jesse Tree devotionals, but not many. Maybe next year!

My man playin' that guitar for the first time in quite a while. It's been too long!

Playing the sticks (a.k.a., my salad tongs).

Playing Jimmy's tiny bongo drum that he's had since college.

Playing the bells.

Using the salad tongs to play the drum.

Dancing during another night of Advent worship. Fun times! (and a bit chaotic, but that's okay!)

We lucked up and got this picture the same night as the one above. This was our Christmas card picture, and I just love it!!! And though it does take a lot of work, I love that during this season of the year people take the time to send Christmas greetings through snail mail! Charlie is STILL asking if we can check the mailbox for Christmas cards! I enjoy both sending out cards and receiving them.

I also had my friend Leneve over a couple times for tea in December. She is a sweet friend from work, and I've really enjoyed the time I've spent with her. We had Lady Grey tea, mandarin oranges, and her amazing pear bread one afternoon.

We celebrated St. Nicholas day (12/6) a day late (the 7th), but the boys didn't mind! They enjoyed waking up to candy and raisins in their shoes! We talked to them about St. Nicholas and let them watch the Veggie Tales movie about him. It was a fun tradition that I think we'll keep!



This boy has a major sweet tooth- can you tell?! 

This is our neighbor's f.a.n.t.a.s.t.i.c. gingerbread lighthouse that they entered into the housing contest. I was amazed!!


Look at the footprints in the snow!!! All the detail... it was so intricately made. We enjoyed going up to the housing office one afternoon to see all the gingerbread house entries. It never ceases to amaze me how people are so creative and talented.

They inspired us to make our own gingerbread house! (A kit, mind you.) Also a fun tradition I would like to do with the kids in years to come!

Working together

My pretty mama rolling out the fondant.

Henry wanted to eat most of his share of candy, rather than put it on the house!

Icing our house and putting candies on it!

Concentration.

Mmmm! Finger-lickin' good! (And check out the icing on his cheeks!)

Putting on the finishing touches.

Happy and proud of his gingerbread house! The gingerbread man was Charlie's touch- he felt that it really was necessary to put a cookie man outside. I think he's right- Mr. Gingerbread Man looks great! (The boys really liked eating those cookies when I bought them during the holidays.)

Ta-daaaaa!

We went with our neighbors to the "Walk Through Bethlehem" at the Presbyterian Church one Saturday night. We all had Papa Murphy's pizza at our house for dinner, then we bundled up for the journey to Bethlehem! I was excited about taking Charlie since he was very into the nativity story (all year long). He seemed to like it!

The kids got to color pictures and have some cookies before we went outside for the Walk.

Yum!

I'll finish off the post with this random-but-cute picture of Henry! 
More coming soon on Christmas!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Toddler Attention Span

I find myself losing patience with the boys during certain activities and times of day and periodically lacking compassion for their limitations as little ones. They are sweet, precious babies, and I always go check on them after they fall asleep at night... when they lay there looking innocent and perfect and like they would never rebel against me or throw a tantrum. And of course it's in these moments that I want to cry over the too-quick passage of time and over how I no longer have baby-babies and how I was too quick to lose my patience that day or too slow to join them in playing. But in the heat of the moment, during what often feel like long days, it's so easy to lose it. To feel frustration over their disobedience and stubbornness and distracted-ness. 

I went to church this morning and listened to our pastor Jeff... who really caught my attention when he said we are often so distracted spiritually and constantly have to be reoriented to Christ. I offhandedly thought, "Yeah, it's like spiritually having a toddler attention span." And then my thoughts were flooded with additional similar, very convicting thoughts....

Sometimes I feel as though I have to get right in their faces for them to pay attention to what I'm saying, and how often must God feel the same way, when I refuse to pay attention to what He is doing around me or what He is trying to say to me.

Recently my blood has boiled a time or two when Charlie has completely ignored me while watching Curious George. But I wonder how many days I have ignored the Lord, even while knowing much more is at stake in my disobedience??

I've thought with frustration at times about how transitions can be a train-wreck with toddlers. Even given appropriate warning that an activity is about to change or end, a tantrum is not necessarily averted. But I've acted the same way so many times... when God takes a direction in my life I'm not ready for, or does something I'm not expecting.. and then I theoretically throw myself on the floor and (literally) cry about it. And sometimes I wail and moan and complain the whole time, when all along my "suffering" was insignificant and didn't really last that long anyway.

It's annoying when I have to continually speak to them to keep them on task, and when picking up toys takes forever, when they don't want to put away what they're playing with. But I know I have to be kept "on task" by the Lord, and I often don't want to put my "toys" down to do what needs to be done. It's kind of like He can never leave me alone, lest I get bored/distracted/interested in something else and wander off to do something I don't need to be doing. Oh, so often I want to play on the computer at night or stay up to all hours reading a book... when I need to be in bed getting prepared for my next day of what God has called me to, of walking with him and serving my family.

Sometimes I wonder, when the boys are bickering with each other, how am I supposed to communicate to you at this age that it's not just about doing what mommy says, but it's about learning how to consider your brother's needs above your own. I'd like to say something like, "Charlie, please love your brother well. Please love him more than your desire to play with your toy and let him have a turn." But what comes out is: "Charlie!! STOP! Give him the toy NOW!" You know that tone of voice goes up... and I get snappy... and don't think about how I usually consider my needs above others too. Not much selfless service here... just ask my husband. The Lord is so gentle to remind me how I'm to kindly and selflessly serve him, and others in my life, and I respond with (usually internally, but it's still my heart's response...) "It's my time... it's my turn... I deserve this...I need this time alone... I need this money to buy that..." etc. etc. etc. The ugliness is deep.

Today I am overwhelmed by my spiritual toddler-ness. It's really kind of pathetic. But I am refreshed with this: 
"For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." Psalm 103:14

Thank you Jesus, that you know I'm simply human... simply formed of dust. I'm thankful that He knows it all. All the ways I lose it with my family. All the ways I fail them and others. All the ways I fail Him and wander around like a clueless, distracted spiritual toddler. All the times I have tantrums because He doesn't give me what I (think I) want. All the times I disobey Him, ignore Him, turn from Him. ALL OF IT.

And He died for that. He knows it all, He died for it all, He loves me completely, and He is ceaselessly compassionate, patient, and loving. Praise the Lord.

And may I be mindful that my children are but toddlers. May I be mindful of their limitations and have compassion. May I imitate our Heavenly Father and reach out to them with love and patience.
Thank you Jesus for the Gospel, and may Your Gospel infuse every area of my life. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lately

I wanted to take a few minutes to jot down some things so I don't forget them. The boys make me laugh regularly, and I find myself marveling at their new accomplishments often. So... here is the latest on my 20-month-old and my almost-3-year-old!

Charlie
komato (tomato)
kitation (invitation, for his birthday party)
"I parmesan you!" (I hit/punch you. I have actually told him, "Don't parmesan her!")
"I poom you!" (I hit/punch you... )
He still speaks in the third person most of the time when talking about himself. It cracks me up!

On the way to VA for our after-Christmas weekend, Jimmy and I chatted with Charlie almost the whole way there. We both commented that it was crazy how he's a little person and definitely has some of his own opinions now! Here are some of our conversations...
Us: We're going to show you where you were born son, here in a hospital in Oxford.
Charlie: I not born in a stable.
Us: No, not in a stable (both of us were chuckling!)

Jimmy: If you could have one animal with you in your house, what would it be?
Charlie: Ummm (thinking a minute)... a monkey named George!
Jimmy: How about a platypus?
Me: No one wants a platypus...
Charlie: How 'bout an octopus!!
Jimmy: Some people eat octopus! How about a squid? Uncle Daniel likes squid.
Me: Another name for it is calamari. Mommy likes to eat it, too!
Charlie: Dat is very in-ter-ess-ing Mommy!

When he was painting his dinosaurs one morning and I was opening different colors...
Charlie: Mommy, green is amazing!
Next color....
Charlie: Mommy, white is amazing! (etc....)

When pulling into the ATM a week or so ago...
Charlie: (Distressed) No, we don't need any more money!!

During prayers one night...
Charlie: Tank you God for... food... and my fam-wy......and Wal-Mart.

Charlie's blessing before our Epiphany dinner with friends the other night:
Tank you God for food... and for people... and for Aubrey... and Wo- (started to say Logan)... and 'Lyssa.... and Wyan. Amen!

I have been surprised at how many songs Charlie has picked up. So far he likes to help sing:
Little Baby in a Manger
All Night, All Day
His "singing" is so cute; it's kind of shout-y and off key, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!!

Henry
Henry fell out of his crib yesterday afternoon. Like possibly flipped out and made the loudest thud of my life. Then there was no noise, and I was scared he was seriously hurt. He finally made a fake whiny sound, and as I reached the door and opened it, I found Henry on the other side, smiling, about to come out himself!

Henry can now fake snore...

Ho (Hold me)
Jor (George)
Chee (Cheese)
Ummmm.... (He says this like he's actually thinking about the answer....)
Uh huh! (Very emphatic affirmation)
Da-ee (Daddy)
Roo roo roo! (What the dog says... with pooched out lips)
Bob-by or Bob-brey (Aubrey)

Henry said his first little prayer last night. It.was.so.precious. He put one hand in the other and said:
Ga.... (God)
ba-ball...Charlie... Da-ee (Daddy)... and Mommy!
Amen!

Somewhere he learned that Santa says Ho ho ho! and told us that over Christmas. I asked him about this repeatedly, I loved hearing it so much!

Henry has recently learned how to walk down the stairs while holding on to the wall or railing (instead of bumping down on his bottom). I tried to hold his hand last night and today and he pushed it away. He wants to do it himself!

He still takes a nice nap in the afternoons, provided he doesn't fall asleep in the car and then wake up when I transfer him to his bed. If I do that, it's all over. No naptime for me (or him!). Charlie still takes a nap most days, but I allow him to skip it if he seems extra energetic or if I feel like we need some one-on-one time together.

A couple of nights recently I have let the boys go upstairs by themselves when I was cooking dinner. This is risky, since they both like to climb on top of the changing table to reach things on their dresser, or climb in Henry's bed and jump on it, or take things off my vanity, etc., etc. At first it made me nervous, but then I just let them be and play. No one got hurt, I got dinner made, and I found myself thinking, "How are they already old enough to be upstairs by themselves already?!"

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jimmy's Birthday

We celebrated Jimmy's 29th birthday on December 17th! The day began with presents and lemon poppy seed muffins (which Jimmy got up and made!).

Jimmy's birthday presents. The white one is what Charlie picked out!


Excited Daddy!

The polka-dotted wrapping paper was Charlie's choice too.

Opening his digital photo frame for his new desk at work!

Charlie is always eager to help open gifts!
In the front of the picture you can see the gift Charlie picked out for Daddy, a coffee mug with candy in it! He was SOO excited to get this for Jimmy, and Jimmy loved it since he had picked it out. Charlie excitedly told Jimmy, "Daddy, it has candy in it!" Charlie also helped pick out a candle for Daddy's desk, and we gave Jimmy a nice box of Hickory Farm treats he loves as well.

Yummy muffins!

We all enjoyed breakfast together!

The birthday boy.

While Jimmy was at work, the boys and I went to get party hats that Charlie thought we needed, and I cooked homemade chicken & biscuits and a lemon cheesecake for dessert (both per Jimmy's request).
Wearing the hats during dinner.

The finished cheesecake. This is Bettra's recipe, from the Vanilla Wafer crust, to the cheesecake, to the lemon topping. I hope I did it justice! Charlie couldn't resist tasting the cake and left his mark (you can see where he poked it in the front!).

And this is a precious video of the boys singing "Happy Birthday to You."
Love you, Jimmy! I hope this is the best year yet!

Thanksgiving Week

Here is our Thankful Tree, a tradition I hope we will continue in some form as the boys get older. Beside it is a turkey Charlie painted at Mom and Dad's church. We have all these things and so much more to be thankful for!


A close-up of the leaves!

Thanksgiving week got off to a great start with Jimmy starting a new job at GFI Software!!!!
We were thrilled that he got this permanent position after multiple interviews. Here is my man after he got home on his first day, November 25th:

Wearing his new GFI hoodie!

Jimmy is excited that he will be able to work on Linux, Microsoft, and Mac operating systems and will log some great experience here. It is a learning experience and a challenge for him, and he is loving it! Of course it's also nice that the job comes with benefits, one of them being paid holidays. We were so excited that he got to be off Thanksgiving AND the day after!

Thanksgiving morning I made deviled eggs while the parade played on TV in the background. Then we headed to Nick and Stephanie's for Thanksgiving lunch. We had such a nice time there but failed to take any pictures. Boo. They served a lovely and delicious lunch, and we all visited a while afterwards. It was nice to see Dennis and Sallie and meet Stephanie's mom. Also, Nick had bought dinosaurs and cars for the boys to play with, and they loved them! Something funny that happened during dessert is that Henry stole my strawberry cake without me even knowing! I sat down with my dessert and was finishing telling a story, and all the while he was eating my whip cream and cake. He had eaten his, but I guess he wanted more!!

After visiting a while, we headed to Eden to eat dinner with more family.
Charlie and Dylan at the little table!

Charlie ended up moving to a bigger table where he could be strapped into a booster seat, and then Henry sat at the little table!

Trying to get a decent family picture...

We can't ever get everyone to look at the same time AND smile! Oh well.

Since Jimmy had Friday off, we were able to spend Friday night at Jane's. It was sooo nice to have time to relax after Thanksgiving dinner and let the boys play longer. After other people left I laid on the couch and relaxed and read, while Jimmy fixed something on Jane's computer. Friday morning was relaxing as well, and we enjoyed Jane's yummy breakfast casserole and honey bun cake left over from the night before! Blair and Dylan came over, so the boys had more time to play, and Rhonda came over as well. It was nice to take it easy on Friday.

Rhonda took the boys outside after lunch.


They found the cat! (I'm not sure she wanted to be found...)

The boys got as close as they could before Jane and Frank's cat ran away.

The boys thought it was fun to run laps around the house, and Charlie liked playing in the back in the bushes.

"In the tree"


Playing on the rocks.

Another attempt at a family pic!

Saturday we decided to decorate the Christmas tree!
Helping Daddy


Charlie really enjoyed helping. He is such an excited little guy about celebrations!

Decorating with my boys!

Henry's method of putting the ornaments on was to throw them at the tree, ha! He didn't quite get the concept of placing them on a tree branch.

I'm so glad we had a little tree- it didn't really matter when the tree fell over, and it was easy to redecorate when the boys took the ornaments off!

Cutting ribbon for the ornaments. At one point the boys thought it would be fun to run with the ribbon around the kitchen and got quite a bit tangled up!!

Finished!

Ta-da!
The tree on the entertainment center had the cinnamon ornaments Charlie helped me make one afternoon and the star Henry decorated on the top. So precious! I enjoyed helping the boys with those decorations and hope we can make more decorations in years to come.

Having red velvet Christmas tree cakes after decorating. Yum!

On Sunday we had the treat of meeting Jason and Mandie in Burlington on their way back from Charlotte. It was so great to see them and have dinner with them at Cracker Barrel!
This was probably the best picture we got of the boys.

My precious friend of over 10 years now! So thankful we met at Southeastern!

The boys bundled up for the ride home.
Happy Thanksgiving!