Friday, October 31, 2014

Backyard fun

If there's one thing I've slacked off on for the last year, it's been taking pictures with my camera.  My big, awesome, not-my-phone camera.  And I want to change that.

Everyday moments captured.  Just to have and hold.  And to blog, because family.  I want to challenge myself to grab my camera and to remember moments that are not behind a phone -- which can be a huge distraction to everyone!

SO yesterday we were playing in the backyard after nap time.  Benjamin was playing at a friends house and it was just Andrew, Elise and I.  The days have been kind of long and hard over here and we needed nothing more than to roll around in the grass and play soccer and laugh at silly pictures.

At first, Andrew was uninterested in pictures. But after he found out about the self-timer -- he was in. And he took a few pictures of Elise and I.  And he got to "fly". Win, win, win.  A few are blurry, but so is our life. I love these days...even when they are hard.  And I love capturing my babies while they are little and sweet. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another ONE... {Happy birthday, Elise!}

I said to Patrick as I laid Elise down for bed last night, "Can you believe our THIRD child is ONE?"  He couldn't either. Of all the years of life I've lived, this one has been the fastest.  And of all of the babies in the world, Elise is the sweetest.

It humbles me to think that with each child I prayed and cried and begged God to allow us to conceive.  The same is true with Elise, but harder and deeper and more tears.  That year of fertility treatments and those months of being told "no" another time.  That year of people telling us, one by one by one, that they were pregnant easy peasy, smiling and being so glad for them...You can't know that pain until you feel it. That year of praying the deepest and most honest prayers I've ever prayed.  That year of walking in scripture and soaking in the truth that God is my Rock, my Redeemer, my Plan Maker, my Worth and my Satisfaction.  Oh man...that year was hard.  But worth it.

So we prayed for a third child.  We sought the face and will of God.  And He answered us and gave to us.  The answer to our prayers was Elise.  Bless it! She's such a sweet gift to us.  All of us.  We didn't know for sure, but how can you, that our lives and our family were incomplete without her.

Here we are a year later! You can read her birth story, if you want.  I enjoyed it ;) She came into the world easily and quickly.  She has been so content and truly full of joy.  She has brought countless smiles to our faces and usually has a grin on her face, too.  I'm certain, though, that Elise wasn't just for us.  She was a sweet baby that filled friends arms that were done with babies.  She has been a delight to those who spend time with her.  She has all kinds of people talking to her at the stores.  She is this little light.  And it's beautiful.

Elise is practically a giant.  She is 90% percentile for height and weight and wears 12 or 18 month clothes.  She enjoys eating.  Some of her favorites are graham crackers, apples, sweet potatoes, yogurt, chicken, ice cream, bread, pizza, black beans, carrots, bananas and blueberries.  Elise would eat blueberries ALL the days if she could.

She just started crawling about three weeks ago.  She was crawling with her leg turned under her, so I took her to a friend who is a physical therapist and some vertebrae were rotated.  A little fixing up there and she has been non.stop.  It's really been a delight to see her explore and gain some freedom and independence!  But she won't go too far and prefers for someone to be in sight.  She also claps and waves and does other sweet baby things.

Elise loves to play and the boys dislike that she can move now, but only because she likes their toys.  She LOVES balls.  Loves them.  She likes Little People things that make noise, mainly a helicopter.  She also loves the baby dolls and stuffed animals in her bed. Elise takes two naps a day, but at least one is weird because of the boys school schedule.  But she takes it like a champ and sleeps so great at night. {usually 7pm-6:45am -- give or take}

Elise enjoys dancing and will bounce and shake like it's her job when she hears music {or even when my cell phone rings. haha}.  She likes when we sing to her and when we sing in the car.  She has an awful squeal that is ear piercing and really radiates through your entire body.  I'm pretty sure she's adapted to the noise level around and and realized early on that if she wanted to be heard, she would need to stand out :)

Elise babbles often and says several words: uh-oh and ball are the ones she says the most! Ball was her first word.  She can say mama, dada, ball, uh-oh, cracker, blankie {which sounds like ba-ba}, all done {which is very hard to understand to the untrained ear}, she calls for the boys and they come to her and think she's saying "bubba".  I don't buy it, but they do -- so she says that, too.

Elise doesn't have much of a whimper.  She just has an all out, big crocodile tears, big pouty lip cry.  And it's a loud cry, too.  She's fairly sensitive and pretty opinionated.  She does NOT like when you are holding her and put her down without her suggesting such a thing. Elise L.O.V.E.S her brothers.  Seriously, she can't get enough of them and they love making her laugh and giving her toys {so she won't play with their toys}.

Elise does give sweet kisses and leans in so you can kiss her.  I really love it.  She use to be a great smuggler, but she's slowly finding that to be a little tedious.  I'll just keep trying :) Elise really is a delight to us and we are so grateful that the Lord saw it fit that she would be ours.  I can't believe {again} that this year went by so quickly! Sheesh!!! Here's to the next year and watching my baby girl grow and change and become a little lady!!!

Happy FIRST birthday, sweet Elise!!! We love you always and forever.  You're a treasure, little girl!!!

This girl usually has her mouth open when she is delighted or excited! It's really cute.
And I think it's my fault.  Oh well. It's really cute ;)

Ball love.

She is really good at pulling off her headbands now.

Sad Elise face.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's not about me...

I keep a small bible open in my bathroom.  Maybe that's weird or random, but it's so helpful for me to remain in the word consistently and throughout the day.

Lately, my bathroom bible has been opened to Proverbs -- specifically chapter 3.  And you know what? I've read Proverbs 3 several times a day for the last five days, at least.  Even in the middle of the night, I would just read a few verses. And I would think through it and try to figure out the greatness of those verses.

Today, though, I started putting my finger on why I needed to read that chapter over and over this past week.  God may have more for my heart and mind with this handful of verses, but it was sweet to see how I was able to use God's word that had been stored up in my heart.

Benjamin struggles with anger -- crinkled nose, crossed arms, heart full of anger.  I tell the boys often that an angry heart makes an angry face, so it's easy to see their emotion.  But Benjamin's anger runs deep and he is selfish to the core.  It's so hard to see sin in your children that you know has been your very own struggle!

Either way, he didn't get what he wanted yesterday and was on the back deck letting anger fester in his heart.  I went out and he was upset, so I grabbed him and hugged him. He was still too consumed with his sin to talk, so I told him that his anger was going to turn into bitterness if he didn't talk it out -- and I would check on him in a few minutes.

When I found him the second time he was hiding with tears streaming down his face.  We sat down to talk.  I was able to ask him some questions and I am always so humbled by intimate conversations with my children.  I asked if he didn't want to be angry anymore, but he didn't know how to stop -- he nodded and started crying more.  Ah! I know this feeling! I told him that controlling my emotions was really hard for me and I prayed a lot for God to help me.  I told him that Proverbs 3 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  I told him that we have to trust the Lord with the emotions He gave us, that we can't rely on how we feel or what we "understand" -- but we have to seek and acknowledge Jesus to help make our ways straight and to figure out how to get through emotions.

He didn't respond much, but I know planting the seed of God's word in his heart will only help him later.  And after our talk, he really changed his attitude {plus, we went for a walk around the block together and that helped him get everything out, physically}. Even though he didn't say much, I couldn't stop thinking about how gracious and kind the Lord is to prepare me for this conversation with my sweet boy!

This parenting business is crazy hard.  It's humbling and consuming and confusing and overwhelming and just exhausting somedays.  But then, there are days when I see that giving fully of myself to these small people is the most glorious and delightful thing I could ever, ever do.  And it's always a good reminder that in even the small things -- nothing is ever about's about Jesus.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Out of the mouth of babes...

There are some things that the boys say that are just really fantastic.  My conversations with Andrew are particularly great right now.  Benjamin comes in with some good stuff, but man! Three year olds are really funny!

For about two months Andrew would ask about "South America".  I was pretty impressed that he was interested in another continent, but figured it was because Benjamin sings a song from school about the continents.  Either way, I answered him accordingly.  "South America is South of Oklahoma."  "South America is hot and humid."  "South America has good coffee."  "South America produces a lot of crops that we enjoy here." On and on and on with whatever I could remember about South America as a whole.  Then a couple of weeks ago we were in a fabric store.  Andrew was in the back of the cart and started yelling, 'MOMMY! It's SOUTH AMERICA!!!"  I pointed to a camp fabric.  Nope, that was not it.  I pointed to a fabric with trees all over it.  Again, not what he was looking at.  Finally, he asked me to push the cart to the row of fabrics and pointed to Captain America fabric.  For TWO MONTHS I have been answering questions about South America only to find out that my sweet child has been curious about a super hero. And he never questioned my answers! He just smiled and that was that! 
Andrew is in a phase of using the word "totally" obsessively:
Me: Andrew, what are you doing?
A: Mom, you totally have to come here and totally see this.  I am totally playing knights and the couch it totally my boat and I am totally a bad guy and totally come here!
He is also into Batman, for whatever reason. He has a good imagination that is kindly fostered by his equally imaginative brother.  So during the day, I hear A LOT of c.o.n.t.i.n.u.o.u.s stories about bad guys, and knights, and pirates, and batman, and superman, and soccer guys, and football games and playing baseball.  
Someone PLEASE ride with me so you can also enjoy these one sided stories.  Or perhaps take a turn at answered really interesting questions...

"Why did the road turn that way?" Because that's how the road makers wanted it to go.
"Why are we going here?" Because we need groceries/stuff/whatever else.
"Why are you doing that?" Because.
Why is the cloud going?" Because God made the clouds to move and the earth spins.
"Who is that person in that car?" I have no idea.
"Mom. I said WHO is in that CAR?" I said I don't know.
"BUT who is IT?" Andrew, I don't know that person! DO you?
"No. But who is that person?" *big sigh and should shrug*
At family worship, we go over verses and catechisms each night.  One of the catechisms asks, "Can you see God?" and the answer is "No. But He always sees me!"  Andrew, however, answers like this -- "No! But He always see me, Coppa!" {Because Patrick chases them and yells, You'll never catch me coppa!"
Benjamin has some fun phrases, too.  He has now lost FOUR baby teeth and calls his permeant teeth "man teeth".  We truly enjoy using this phrase.

Yesterday he asked me what I wore last time I found his tooth.  I was so confused, although I had an idea of what he was getting at.  I had him explain a little further.
Me: What do you mean "what did I wear"?
B: When you got my tooth.
Me: From where?
B: Mom.  Under my pillow. What were you wearing?
Me: *don't laugh, don't laugh* What do you think I was wearing?
B: Well, did you wear a tutu and wings?
Me: *don't laugh, don't laugh* You mean, did I dress like a fairy?
B: *smiling his toothless grin* yes!!!
Me: Uhhhh, no. But I guess I can.
B: Where do you get wings?
Me: Oh my goodness. I don't really have wings, buddy!

I wish I could think of more Benjamin-isms! 

I'm so lucky to be around these guys every day.  They really are so funny and so much fun! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

{Hosea} SheReadsTruth

Maybe you know this.  I love Hosea.  It seems that the Lord always leads me to this book of the Bible in times that I most need it, but rarely recognize the need.  This time was no different.

{Do you ever do the devotionals on shereadstruth? You should.  It's so good.}

I have always loved how sweet the Lord is to pursue and cherish and redeem us. Over and over and over and over and over again.  But as I read the words of Hosea this time, and different scripture from the devotionals, I just ached and wept over my sin.  Over my lust and waywardness.  Over the idols that I pursue and cherish and love -- over and over and over and over again.

I've been praying for God to reveal my sin to me.  I've been pleading daily that He would show me the depth of my sin so I can see the magnitude of His forgiveness and grace.  Because, in all honesty, I'm not sure if I've ever seen myself as sinful and bad and disgusting as I really am.

As it turns out, I really love myself.  But be not confused: I don't love my body and I struggle daily with that.  I don't see my good features or fruit that the Lord is producing in me.  I just love me.  I really think I'm great and that other people should want to be like me and be around me and be me.  Ugh.  I hate writing that. My sin is awful.  And that's just the beginning.

I cherish idols.  Idols that don't seem like idols to you are huge barriers in seeking the face of God for me.  I've made idols out of my phone, working out, eating food, serving, being a mom and a wife...  It's just that I've turned good gifts from the Lord into carved images of worldly delight.  All at the cost of knowing more of Jesus.  All in the name of doing good.  All because I love the world more than I love Jesus.

Hosea was told to love and marry a harlot.  And he did.  He never gave up and he even bought his whore back into his life with the price you would have paid for a slave.  Hosea sought her and loved her and, even when it seemed hopeless, fought for his bride.

Does this sound familiar?

It's God.  That is what He did for me, for us.  He never gives up on His people. He paid for our ransom through the blood of Christ. He leads us into the wilderness to speak tenderly to us, to call us His own (Hosea 2).  Even when the world intices us and leads us astray, even when our idols stand tall and burdensome over us -- He doesn't walk away.

Hosea is a hard book.  The words can be harsh and they can open wounds of hurt. But the words are powerful and real and healing.  We see how it should have been for us.  We see the anger of God burning, righteously and jealously for his people.  We should be dead in our sin. (see Ephesians 2)  But GRACE prevailed.  We didn't get what our sin deserved because Jesus paved a better way, through His death on the cross.  Through amazing love.

So return. Over and over Hosea calls us to "return to the Lord".  He will heal us, He will come (Hosea 6).  Return, seek Him, break up your dry ground and let the Lord rain righteousness upon you (Hosea 10:12).  By the help of your God, return and wait. (Hosea 12:6). Return to Him.  He's waiting to heal your waywardness and love you freely (Hosea 14:4).

Don't miss Him -- the Provider of your good things, the Satisfier of your soul, the One who cares gently for you, the One you ushers you to repentance, the One who calls you to rest in Him, the One who is enough.

Return.  Repent.  Rest.  It's a beautiful mess, a worthy struggle, a daring adventure.  Be His. You are His one, true love...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oh, the things he knows...

It's amazing to me that Benjamin has learned so much in the last year {plus} of school.  We really do love the school he goes to and are more than grateful for teachers who love what they do and care so well for my child's heart and mind.

As a way to remember where he is now, I am going to write down the things he knows and have a place to look back:

Pre-K and some of Kindergarten --
*Catechisms 1-50
*About 30 bible verses memorized
*Can count to 100
*Can count by 2's and 5's
*Can do simple addition and subtraction
*Can recognize and recite all phonograms
*Can recite most of the counties of Oklahoma
*Can recite most of the governors of Oklahoma
*Knows the books of the bible
*Knows the days of the week
*Knows the months of the year
*Knows the states, by song
*Knows several state capitals
*Know the continents and oceans
*Knows and can recite the 21 rules of the school {which also happen to be the 21 rules of our house!}

Bonus information: His favorite part of almost every day is recess.  And he loves that there is an art table in his classroom this year.

As one more added bonus: Benjamin is fairly good about using "sir" and "ma'am" and holding doors and letting ladies go first.  Little manners go a long way in my book.  And I believe it's a lost art anymore.

It is so humbling to realize how much his mind has learned.  I think we take the minds of little people for granted -- they can learn and retain so much information!  Please don't hear me boasting or bragging on my child.  I am very proud of him, yes, but I don't think this is because he is a genius.  I also don't think my sweet child is better than your sweet child.  Although, he is a great kid ;)
I do think that he has been taught well and learned those things well.  And I look forward to seeing him grow and learn more!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Road trip {to West Virginia)

My Gramma is a treasure to me. I spent so much time with her when I was little and loved being with her.  She let me bake with her and clean with her. I helped her snap beans from the garden and watched her cook delicious things. We rode the bus into town together and played together.  I drank a lot of her coffee and she always had chocolate around.  

When I was little and my friends wouldn't let me play, she would say things like: Two is company, three is a crowd, four is too many and five isn't allowed.  But then she would remind me that if I wasn't allowed with my friends, I was her company. It's the little things, you know? 

Either way. My Gramma isn't doing so great.  She was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in the spring.  Hospice is helping care for her at her home. But she's still feisty and as spunky as a 92 1/2 year old woman can be.  We decided to drive up and spend some time with her this summer.   I wanted her to meet Elise and tell her that I loved her, face to face.  And I'm so glad we did. 

We stayed with Kent and Sarah {and baby Cole} and enjoyed spending time with them.  We visited my Gramma often and ran around town.  We spent time with my mom and John, my sister, Carol and Frank, Jason and the girls and even got to see my Grandma Royce {and more Royce family!} -- all in eight days time.  Patrick drove us up and flew back the next day.  And Carol drove home with us {and then stayed for a week!}.  It was good to see family.  It was good to have a car :)

Just a few a lot of pictures from our trip:

Elise doesn't love the carseat.  I spent a lot of time beside her on the way up.

Candy Land with Uncle Kent and Aunt Sarah.

Early morning play time with my crew.

Me and Elise on a rainy day at Chick-fil-a.

Uncle Kent letting Benjamin power wash his truck.  

Gramma's feet. And my feet.  And Elise's {fast moving} feet.

A picture of me hanging in my Gramma's bedroom.

Baby cousins, baby friends.  Cole and Elise are 2 1/2 months apart!

Elise is clearly not as friendly as Cole.  BUT someday they will love playing together :)

Watching Uncle Kent's softball game.

I's Andrew.

The kiddies with my Grandma Royce.

Andrew having fun with my cousin Audrey.

Elise loved playing with Gramma's oxygen tube. Haha.

Uncle Kent with the little boys.

Playing at the park.

Sharing a bed and snuggling.

Pool time!

Just playing at the pool on a {not so warm} beautiful day!

The boys did a lot of ninja/jedi training with Uncle Kent.

Pap-pap and Elise.

Me and Gramma.

Snapping beans with Gramma.

McBride children with Gramma and Pap-pap

Sweet Gramma kisses.

Treasure! We got to celebrated Cole's first birthday with him! I can't tell you how sweet it was to be there and to spend time with this little guy {and his parents}.

Me and my peeps.

Pit stop selfie on the way home.  

Mimi was all smiles with B at our first {of many} bathroom stops.

So long WVa. See you next summer.

Road trippin.  Maybe this was right before we took a wrong turn and spent an hour trying to get back on our correct route home while trying to hide from Patrick that we were going to drive through the night and come straight home.  Good memories, people!

Elise was not amused with all the pictures. 

Four generations of ladies.

Sweet treasure! Me, my mom, my Gramma, my children!
We will be back in Morgantown next summer for Audrey's wedding!!! Yay! Until then, I treasure the time we got to spend with family and wished they would all move to Oklahoma ;)