Thursday, July 28, 2011

Berry Pickin'

On our recent trip to Alabama to pick Keeleigh up from my parents' house, Keeleigh mentioned to me that she'd found a blackberry patch and really wanted to go berry picking. So I donned my best berry picking outfit and we set out...

(Borrowed socks and shoes since I didn't bring any appropriate for traipsing through thorny berry patches. Don't they look lovely with my extra loud pants?!)

It wasn't long before we found what we were looking for: sun-ripened blackberries!

It also wasn't long before we discovered another little creature that loves blackberries: June bugs! They were absolutely all over the plants apparently chowing down on the juicy berries.

Keeleigh also found some honeysuckle and enjoyed it's sweet juice right off the vine.

Jathan was able to reach a few of the berries but wasn't quite as excited as Keeleigh was about being out in the hot sun reaching through thorny bushes for a few tart bites!

I mainly enjoyed taking in the beautiful scenery. I do really love being in New Orleans but there's just something about the country, huh?

Eventually we talked Keeleigh into heading back and my boy and I (and Optimus Prime there to the right) walked hand in hand in the sunshine.

Yes, sharing life with these sweet kiddos makes me one happy mama!

And a bowl full of blackberries made for one happy Keeleigh!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Putting My Work Boots On

Last night during our family devotional time, the subject was kindness. When Jackie read, "God commands kindness," my first thought was, "YES! Maybe the kids will listen up and quite smacking each other and calling each other weird." Ha ha! Today I used last night's devotional as a gentle reminder that God COMMANDS kindness. It's not just a suggestion from your parents; the sovereign creator of the universe expects it from each one of us. This is something that I think even (especially?) adults forget. In fact I was recently reading a personal devotion about how we Christians will endure hardship and persecution from "the world" and my first thought was, "Who needs the world when we have other Christians to hurt us." = (

A while back the thought had occurred to me that the metal cover on the vent for the air conditioning unit at the end of our hall would be a good place to display Bible verses. You can't help but look at it as you walk down the hall so my family members and I could read the verse often and hopefully commit it to memory. (Scripture memorization is something I personally really want to work on.) So I got ready to type up a verse and print it out today but first I Googled verses about kindness to see what all I had to choose from. I decided on Ephesians 4:32 which is pretty straight-forward and easily communicated and memorized for young children..."Be kind to one another." But then I stumbled upon a sermon online by John Piper on Ephesians 4:31-5:2. I loved the way it opened my eyes and deepened my understanding so I wanted to share it with you guys.

First of all I wondered if my kids truly knew what being kind meant. The dictionary defines kind as "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature." All too often I equate kindness with being polite but it's so much more than that for the Christian! Ephesians 4:31-5:2 says this:

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Kindness is not about putting on a good show and being nice even though you still have bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander in your heart. What is it, then? We can know if we look to God for an example. God sacrificed His Son, Christ gave Himself for us because He loves us so much that there was nothing He wouldn't give for our safety. Yes, human beings are in danger because they sin--they disobey God in His perfect holiness. And God, being so tenderhearted, was so saddened by this that He gave everything that He had, the most precious thing--part of Himself--to restore a wonderful relationship with us again. God didn't do this just for the "good" people with "little" sins--you know, those sitting around you at church. He didn't do it only for the likable people and the people you are naturally drawn to be friends with. He did it for every single one of us. And I don't know about you but I cannot ignore the fact that that gives every single person tremendous value! We need to recognize that and forget about our petty emotionally reactions. Put away bitterness and wrath and anger. Let love quite the clamor and close slanderous mouths. These things are inappropriate ways to respond to something that our God loves so deeply. It seems to me that other people deserve our best--our kindness--because God gave them His best.

More than anything I want to show my children the world through God's eyes. I hope that I can instill in them the knowledge of how honestly treasured we are and that that knowledge will lead them to do as 1 Thessalonians 5:15 directs us to do: "Always try to be kind to each other and everyone else." I also hope that I don't just slap on a happy face and try to be nice in the flesh from here on out. I hope that these thoughts will be at the forefront of my mind and that I'll keep my priorities straight with love at the top of the list. And as someone once said, "Kindness is just love with it's work boots on."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

8 Weeks Old!

Last night at 11 o'clock I said to Jackie, "Do you know what we were doing 8 weeks ago at this time?"

"Having a baby," he replied. Yes, it would still be about an hour and a half before we decided to go to the hospital and I didn't realize it yet but I was having a baby. (That is to say, I knew I was going to have a baby sometime soon just not so soon.)

At 12 o'clock last night we were still awake because for some reason Ryland was wired and had woken up Jathan because he wanted to be in the same bed with him. It would have been annoying but he giggled furiously when he did it and that softened the blow considerably. Piper was awake as well but I took that as a good sign--she was going to nurse soon and then sleep 5 or 6 hours just like the night before! Or, you know, not.

At 1 o'clock Jathan and Ryland are asleep and Piper is dosing off and on. Jackie and I are laying in bed wondering when we'll sleep. "What time was Piper born?" I ask him. It was 2:16.

At 2 o'clock I can't believe it. She's crying but her diaper is dry, she doesn't feel too hot or too cold, she's so full of milk that I'm afraid to attempt to feed her any more for fear of her puking all over me (I can't count how many times that's happened). I think it might be her stomach. She has gas. Jackie says she "poots like a horse." I've never experienced a horse poot but I don't imagine it's a pleasant thing at least not for anyone besides the horse.

I believe it is around fifteen minutes until 3 when Piper is still crying and Jackie rolls over and says, "There's something wrong with her." True story. I did not say anything, especially not something like, "Wow, you sure you don't want to change your major and become a detective, Sherlock?" Nope.

At 3:30 a.m., having been 8 weeks old for a whole hour now, Piper nursed and then finally dropped off to sleep and slept for 5 hours.

Upon waking her eyes somehow captured the tiny bit of light in the room and absolutely sparkled. I can't imagine how my eyes looked at that moment but I'm sure they were not sparkling. How does she do that? Then she laid in my arms and stared at the curtains. I think she has a crush on them. I catch her gazing at them all the time and sometimes she just can't help herself, she flat out smiles at them despite herself. I love it.

Happy 8 weeks, Piper! I'm glad we've gotten to be awake for so much of it. It's been wonderful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dear Ryland,

Today has been wonderful. I may be jumping the gun a little bit saying that since it's only 3 p.m. especially given the fact that we crawled out of bed at 10 a.m. but those few hours seem to have marked a change or at least my recognition of that change whenever it happened. Or, heck, maybe it's just a good day. See, things between you and I haven't always been everything they should be which saddens me because I wanted you in my life so very much. I prayed and prayed to God that He would put you in my life and He did so what right do I have to complain about anything, huh? But I do complain. I complained and said rude things to you both in my head and aloud when you were tiny and wouldn't sleep and your dad and I were so, so tired. I complained and screamed and cried when you threw toilet water all over the place and most of those times when you dumped out your entire plate of food in the floor. And you know what? I wasn't totally, really sorry every one of those times I comforted you when you got hurt doing something stupid. Some of those times I was patting your back and rolling my eyes. I'm pretty sure that you haven't stopped moving since the moment of your conception and you can climb like nobody's business. You are the sole reason I have three colors of Popsicle stains on our living room rug and why I have to wipe chocolate pudding off the Wii remote. It drives me completely bonkers when you poke your little sister in the eye which is pretty much every single day and I'm royally displeased each time you crawl up on the bed and dump all the laundry I've just folded over the side. And what sort of cruel joke was it to wait 17 months before you said, "Mama," and then started saying it multiple times a minute every moment that you're awake and that one time when you were sleeping? Most days I feel like I'm running in circles chasing you.

I think that may be why God gave me your little sister before your toddlerhood descended on us; He knew that He would have a hard time convincing me I could handle another child on top of you.

But today, ah, today you woke up early and I convinced you to crawl back into bed with me. We listened to the thunder roll and the rain pelt the window and I watched your big blue eyes close. Then you smiled--almost laughed!--in your sleep! I'm so glad that my insane mothering hasn't hindered you from sweet dreams.

Jathan came and woke us up after a good little nap. He had two cars in his hand and you really wanted one of them. I told you to go get you a car from your room and you came back with one, green just like the two that Jathan had. Then you went and got another green one so that you would have two just like Jathan! "What a smart boy," I thought. Later I was curled up reading leisurely (it's summer and the rain said it was okay) and I noticed that you were tugging on a pillow just like the one I was propped up on. "Do you want a pillow?" I asked. You nodded you replied with a hearty, enthusiastic nod. I propped your pillow up right beside mine then you disappeared for a moment returning with a little book of your own. How stinkin' cute is that?! Speaking of cute, I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your help with the laundry today. You carried piece by piece (one sock at a time) from the dryer to the bed smiling all the way. I didn't even mind when you wiped your runny nose on that one pair of pants.

And, on two separate occasions today, I've told you, "No, no, Ryland." And guess what? You listened and obeyed!

I'm not sure if this is all really happening or if I've stumbled down the rabbit hole into the Twilight Zone but today has been good. So good that I really was sad with you when you tripped and dropped your Popsicle on the rug. I think it may have something to do with the fact that I'm trying to grow up and get over myself and also something to do with the fact that you are growing up, too, barreling straight towards 2 years old with reckless abandon. Whatever it is I wanted to take special note and let you know that I love you even if tomorrow sucks.

All my heart,


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yesterday Morning

The clock says its morning but even the light coming in the window is still tired. It glows only a soft gray having reluctantly fought its way in through the blinds guarding our sleepy sanctuary. A little pink creature is curled up beside me and her rhythmic breathing is whispering to my eyes, "Close. Close. Close." Past the door and down the hall--which really could be miles and miles for all I know--I hear little voices and a bigger, yet quieter voice and the sounds of pots and pans and spoons clanking. The sweet smelling creature stirs; her hand brushes against her soft mouth and suddenly a tiny tongue licks it like a lollipop as she peeks at me through one slit of an eye. Sleep wins out and the slit closes. Rain taps gently on the window. I breathe in deeply in some effort to inhale all the wonderfulness of the moment. "Almost two months," my mind tells me. I lay a hand on her round protrusion of a midsection; it rises and falls, rises and falls comfortably. I think simultaneously of how twenty years will someday seem like nothing and of how there couldn't possibly be any better sound than that of thunder rolling in the distance.

The door opens. Four sparkling eyes are behind it. Day begins.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Story of My Hair in Pictures

I've had the itch to try a new style for a while now. My hair has been long for the last couple of years and although I really like long hair (as does Jackie), it gets old to me especially in the heat and humidity around here. I've always been one who enjoys doing all sorts of different things with my looks. In fact this is probably the longest my hair has been the same in years and years.

I recently cleaned out our closet and couldn't resist going through our big box of pictures when I came to it. I thought I'd share some of the pictures of my hair-dos throughout the years with you guys!

From the start I was a gutsy girl. Here I am sporting a statement-making mohawk:

Soon I moved on to a trendy boy cut.

In kindergarten I tried out some blunt bangs. (I really thought I was smiling in this picture. I think I was scared every single day of kindergarten.)

By 3rd grade I'd loosen up enough to smile in school pictures. Perhaps because of my stylin' bug-deflector bangs! For some reason I've always liked this photo. The rainbow is cheery, isn't it? I was so happy to be back at school that day. I'd been out with the chicken pox; you can still see a spot on my neck.

I'm not exactly sure how old I was in this next picture but I was feeling sassy in my shoulder-length perm!

In junior high I discovered the bob. I think I was one of the first in my school to try it and I loved it.
So over the years I've gone back to it again and again. I also discovered Sun-In in high school. Not so crazy about it now, however.

I grew my hair out after that and was well on my way to having long hair again but then a boy broke my heart and it wasn't enough to wash him out of my hair, I chopped him right out of it and ended up with the shortest version of my bob that I'd had to date.

Then I grew it out long and straight and natural for my senior year so that I could have a pretty up-do for prom. I dyed it right before prom and it came out a little purple looking. You can't see my hair in this picture but I wanted to post it anyway. Because I loved that dress and I loved my antique glass jewelry and it really was a fantastic night with great friends!

Eventually the purple-y color washed out into a nice dark auburn and I got it layered and cut in a flippy 'do for graduation. Here I am with my friend, Sarah, (also pictured lookin' hot above) whose long silky locks I always admired.

After graduation I chopped it off even more...the shortest ever. I could spike it up a little on top and tuck it behind my ears or I could flip it out. It was really fun. Especially when you are playing Charlie's Angels.

I couldn't resist going back to the bob, though. Did I mention that I've always loved it?

Cut it. Grow it out. Dye it. Blonde? I think I look like a TV anchorwoman here!

Then I tried a perm again for the first time in years and years. It was a fun change!

But it wasn't long before I straightened it and revisited the blunt bangs look from kindergarten. I don't know if Keeleigh inspired me or I inspired her. I was pregnant with Jathan in this picture. And you know what happens during pregnancy. HORMONES! Which whisper to a woman, "Cut your hair, cut your hair..."

So I did! Into a short graduated bob.

Isn't hair so much fun? = )

I kept it relatively short and dye-free for a couple of years.

Then around the time we moved to NOLA I began growing it out again.

But then. I got pregnant with Ryland. Those hormones whispered to me. So I took this picture trying to convince myself that I didn't need to cut it. That my long hair was so pretty. And if I could have these soft curls last all day every day I would but if that's possible in this humidity I don't know how to achieve it.

So I surrendered to the heat and the hormones and cut it. Again.

I thought that I wanted it to grow out long and straight and all one length but that ended up being pretty boring so I went to a great hairstylist named Kenneth at Wal-mart (gasp!) who entertained me with stories from his very different life as he turned my limp, lifeless locks into this:

Which inevitably grew out into this:

And although no one knew it but me and Jackie, I was pregnant with Piper in that picture (the belt was really getting tight!) and bound and determined not to cut off the hair I'd worked so hard to grow long! And I didn't cut it off. Not exactly anyway. I just decided to get some layers.

I finally made it through out a pregnancy without getting a drastic cut so now I know that it's not the hormones talking to me, I really do want to cut my hair much to the disappointment of Jackie. = P And guess what cut I'm attracted to? Yes, my beloved bob which is now extremely popular. If I were 18 or 20 and drop dead gorgeous I would totally try out one of these bold cuts:

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dasitsbhupna: short haircuts 2011

But those look really scary to me. So I will probably go with something less terrifying like one of these:

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Mainly I'm worried that my square-ish shaped face will look fatter if I go too short. And there is the issue of the side-swept bangs and layers that I currently have that would have to be worked around. But wouldn't it feel nice to have a bare neck this summer!

So I have an appointment scheduled when I go back to Alabama later this month. What do yall think? Should I go for it?