Monday, April 29, 2013

Mama Rita, Papa Gene, and Gus

Mama Rita and Papa Gene came by to visit last week. They brought Gus (a huge stuffed bear) with them. Annie loves to play with Gus when she is at their house, and she was excited he came on the visit, too. Annie had fun cuddling with him and showing off her new talking skills to her great-grandparents! You should hear her chatter--I've even heard a few four and five word sentences. I need to get out the video camera soon!





Friday, April 26, 2013

Peanut: Nine Months!



Last monthly photo, here we are! Peanut is active and growing perfectly and I am enjoying these last few weeks of feeling her moving inside me. Most days I really don't even feel pregnant. Yesterday I was listening to other mamas complaining in the doctor's office about not having any energy and thinking to myself "I don't have time for that!" I like staying busy and Annie and I are enjoying some time with just the two of us. I still walk (though slower and not as far as I was a few months ago) and do yoga and I know that helps, because I can feel a difference when I don't. I bought newborn diapers and a few other essentials to go with all the lovely gifts from the shower, so I think we are ready on the material goods front. I made a note to pack my hospital bag next week and install the car seat. Then we'll just wait for Peanut to make her debut. I predict sometime in the next six weeks I'll be having a baby. :D

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Amelia Island, another baby, and a visit with JJ

The Gent and I recently spent the weekend on Amelia Island. It was the longest we'd ever left Annie but she had a blast with her Honey and Poppa. It was our last chance to be kid-free for quite a while (since I tend to nurse babies forever and I hate pumping) and we made the most of it.



And in fostering news . . . I talked to our social worker at 9am this morning and told her we were ready for another placement. She called back at 11:20am to say she had a baby for us. Baby B is three months old and has black curly hair and chubby little thighs. She should be moving on to a relative placement on Thursday and our home will just be a brief stop for her. We're honored to care for her while she's here. Annie loves the baby so far. She has appointed herself "helper." We had dinner with JJ and his mom tonight and it was great to see him. He came running up to Annie, yelling her name over and over again. It was very adorable. He was sad and confused when we left, but I think it would be worse not to see him at all. It will get easier on him as he adjusts to his new situation.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fostering Update, Prayer Requests, and a Song

Today is a catch-up post of randomness. Hoping something here will speak to you this Monday!
The Gent and I spent some time this weekend praying and reflecting over our foster parenting experience so far and asking God what He would have us do next. We sense that God is telling us to be open to accepting another child at this time. Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." So I left a message with our social worker this morning and we'll just see if anything comes of it. 

We are going to meet JJ and his mom for dinner Tuesday night (she has an overnight visit with him) and are looking forward to that. We were supposed to see him and his new guardian tonight but he has hand, foot, and mouth disease so we have to wait till he isn't contagious anymore. Poor little guy. Too many changes too quickly for his body to keep up, I guess. Other than that his mom and guardian (he's been going back and forth between them) both report he is adjusting pretty well. He likes to look at our pictures and has been asking for Annie. The Gent and I read a recordable storybook for him. Then when he misses us he can look at his book and hear us talk to him. (Thank you, Angela, for this great idea!)

Some prayer requests about friends and babies to share with you. Please join us in lifting these three families up before the Lord this week.
- Friends who have been trying to conceive for years are pregnant for the first time! It is very, very early in their pregnancy and we are praying for this little one to grow strong and healthy.
- A sweet friend miscarried a couple of months ago and is grieving the loss of her baby while also wanting to conceive again as soon as possible. Pray for healing for her heart and body and that God will grant her and her husband another child soon.
- Our friends Jacob and Shanna lost their first son, Elijah, at birth about a year and a half ago. They are expecting a little boy, Jude, in June. Jude is experiencing some complications with his kidneys. Please pray for healing for his little guy and peace for his parents as they learn what will come next. You can follow along with their family at

To conclude this random post, my Nana sent me the words to this sweet hymn last week and I wanted to share it with you. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him today.
God Hath Not Promised Skies Always Blue
Annie Johnson Flint
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, 
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, 
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, 
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

JJ: 23 months and big news


JJ is almost two and thinks he's so big! He loves to talk and is really excited about being understood. His favorite thing is to be outside, especially if there is water involved!

Now on to the big news. With foster parenting we know to expect the unexpected, and that's what happened yesterday. Against the recommendations of almost everyone, he was placed with a family friend last night. JJ's mom was also granted overnight and weekend visits. We can't see that anything has changed since he was removed from the home last July, and of course we have lots of questions we won't ever get answers to.

But...that's the work God has called us to do. He brings children to us for a season to love and guide and then we have to trust Him to take care of the rest. Please continue praying for all of us as we adjust to our new normal, and especially for JJ as he gets to know his new placement. We're all a bit emotional right now. Please also pray for guidance for the Gent and me as we decide whether or not to take another child in the next couple of weeks. We realize it seems crazy to even consider with baby girl due in five weeks, but when is there ever a good time to completely disrupt your life? :) We're waiting for God to show us one way or the other.

I've been studying Daniel with a ladies group at church, and what we've been learning over and over is that God is sovereign over all things. If God directs the hearts even of pagan kings, we know that His hand is at work in our current circumstances, too. The judge didn't just decide to move JJ on a whim--God is directing all things and we trust that He is working for our good.

Thankfully, we will still have some contact with JJ. The social worker insisted on it and his mother and new guardian are open to us remaining in contact. We hope that will make the transition a little easier on us all.

Stay tuned for the next update on our rapidly changing family!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Shower for Peanut

Mom and Tessie (with help from Nana and Aunt NeNe) hosted a beautiful shower for Peanut this weekend. I'm so glad they gathered family and friends to celebrate this little girl. I wanted our second daughter to have a few special things of her own. Let's just say our family was generously blessed yesterday, and I loved celebrating this new little life! Thank you to all who hosted, helped, and joined us to party!

Pretty table with lots of yummy things to eat


Mom made these little booties filled with mints

my Aunt Linda and cousin Hannah (she took most of these pictures, thank you!)

my Mom and my Nana

Tessie and NeNe



the only boy at the party :)




Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Notes

I realized I haven't posted about what I've been reading in a long time. Here are my thoughts on two books I recently finished.

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
This was a quick, interesting read. I agreed with lots of her ideas; there are plenty of practical things I do that make me a a happier person. Cleaning out a closet gives me a thrill. Spending money wisely can relieve stress. Trying to speak only positively to my children and limit my use of "no" makes me a better parent. (Does it really matter if Annie wants to wear pink shoes with a purple dress? Does it really matter if JJ wants to dump the entire box of blocks on the floor?) I am trying to lighten up and cut others some slack.

But on a deeper level, I don't think you can make yourself genuinely happy with what you do on your own. True happiness--what Christians call joy--comes from inside yourself, not from outside things you seek to change. Jesus says, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45. It is what inside of you that comes out in your actions. So, as a Christian, if I find myself lacking joy, I stop and reflect on what I am filling up my heart with. Bitterness? Doubt? Anger? Or am I steeping myself in God's Word, meditating on His mercy and His love? When my heart is filled with Christ, I can be joyful in any circumstance. Happiness comes and goes, depending on outside factors often beyond my control. Instead I seek to be satisfied in Jesus and find contentment in Him.

The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns
Wow, what a book. I know I'm a bit late to the party, but this book was a real eye and heart-opener for me. God does not save us just to sit around and enjoy life and wait to die. He saves us to do good works, to carry His redemption to the ends of the world, to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth. He saves us for a purpose. If you call yourself a Christian, you need to read this book and pray sincerely about what part God would have you play in reaching out to the poor and suffering around our world.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Annie Update

Annie loves to be outside.

We go for a walk most days and she has so much fun pointing out colors and collecting treasures like dandelions, sticks, and rocks. Yesterday she found acorns.

And I'm in love with her hair these days--all blonde, wispy, and curls.

Annie talks ALL THE TIME. She will keep repeating her words until I figure out what she is trying to say.

Little blonde wispies with a hairbow.

Annie loves to be my helper so I am constantly trying to find things for her to do, like throw away dryer sheets, pick up the dog bowls, and put her cup in the refrigerator. She remains very interested in baby dolls and loves to carry them around and feed them. She knows lots of concepts, like letters, counting (she likes to count everything), colors, shapes, and opposites like up and down. Of course she gets them all mixed up but her Daddy and I are having so much fun watching her learn. Sleeping in the big girl bed is going great at night and okay at nap time. A couple of weeks ago I had to revert to the pack n play for naps because otherwise she would not stay still long enough to fall asleep. But this week we are back to napping in the big girl bed and so far so good. My biggest parenting struggle with Annie is dealing with her defiance. She is very into exerting her own will. Most of the time JJ does something, I tell him "no," and he moves right on to the next thing. Then Annie decides to try the forbidden thing and laughs at me when I tell her no, so she ends up in time out. I keep telling her that I am even more strong-willed than she is and if she decides to engage in a battle of wills, I will win. Mostly, though, I try to direct her will in positive ways (like giving her tasks to help with) and avoid the power struggles. I am also trying not to say "no" so much with her and with JJ. For example, instead of saying "no, we can't go outside" saying "after lunch we'll go outside and play." I don't know why it is so difficult for me to remember to do this but it does make a difference in our family's happiness when I do remember, so I'm trying!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekend Trip

This weekend we went to visit with Bebe and Papa Rick. Annie and JJ had a blast on these huge slides at the park.


Looking for ducks.


Granny brought presents and it was Christmas all over again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter 2013

This is probably the only post I'm going to get to this week--it has been a bit hectic around here lately. I'll be back next week. Anything in particular you want to know about? Blog post suggestions welcomed.

We did the American Easter traditions on Saturday. I'm fine with my kids getting Easter baskets and hunting eggs, but I don't want them to be confused about the real celebration of Easter.

This year for Lent we used a book called The Lenten Tree, along with our Caleb Voskamp advent/lenten candle wreath. Each day we read a short devotional during a family meal, and moved our candle up one space. Granted, Annie and JJ don't understand much of it, but they pick up more than you think they do. Whenever I pick up the Bible to read, Annie yells, "True!" Because each day when we read aloud together I remind them, "This is the Bible. It is God's Word. And everything in it is true." We also read two board books that explain Easter in a toddler-appropriate way: The Story of Easter and What is Easter.

Anyway, on with Easter baskets! One piece of candy, dried fruit, big kid water bottles, coloring book, bubble bath, an Easter book, and a new ball.

They love these light up bouncy balls. The ones they got for Christmas had died so replacements were definitely in order.

Then we hunted eggs in our front yard. We missed the church egg hunt because I had already scheduled family photos for that day.

They caught on pretty quick.

Egg-hunting was a hit.

As was the always popular "reading with Honey."

We also enjoyed our Easter dinner (I went simple this year--ham, macaroni and cheese, and lima beans. Mom brought lemon pies--yum!). But those pictures have JJ in them so you won't see them here.

Sunday was very relaxing. We went to church (again, our pretty dress-up pictures have JJ in them), ate leftovers, and took naps. So thankful He is risen!