Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dear Adam: 4 Months


Dear Adam,

This week you turned 4 months old. The world is a crazy place these days. There are tragic things happening world-wide, volatile emotions and pride are leaving big, gaping divisions among people, and our country is in an election season that you'll one day study in your History or Government classes. It will probably be referred to as that time America lost its mind.

But you, my sweet boy, are just now exploring beyond your immediate surroundings. What you know still holds true -- when you're hungry you will be fed, when you're sad you will be snuggled, hugs and kisses are nice, and the white noise of the fan is perfect for being lulled to sleep. You're also actively discovering more -- moving your body certain ways leads to different perspectives; there is more to see beyond our faces or the alluring glow of a lamp; books, TV, and toys all have varying colors, sounds, and textures to offer your exploring little hands, feet, and mouth. You are eager to learn and take it all in. I am so thankful for your curious mind, and even more thankful that, for now, I can still limit your exposure to the world so that you don't have to know the bad parts just yet. You can just enjoy the sweet taste of milk, the warmth of my arms, the exciting bounce of the "Dora the Explorer" theme song, and the calming sway of your infant swing. This is such a simple and joyful age. I wish I could freeze time and soak in your precious giggles and smiles and your tiny little fingers around mine. Before I know it you'll be too big for that swing and too busy for cuddles. I know each stage is wonderful in its own way, but I have to say, I'm really loving this one.

You rolled over for the first time a few weeks ago. I came to get you out of bed and you were on your tummy! I assume you did it by accident. Now, however, you can roll freely and with ease, from back to tummy. I haven't seen you go from tummy to back just yet. But you immediately roll over when I lay you on the floor and you kick your legs and pull on the blanket with your hands...kid, you will be scooting forward so soon!

You have the best little voice! You talk all the time. Energetic little coos and ahhs and giggles. This morning you were nursing and Daddy and I were talking to Grayson. He made us laugh, as he so often does. You heard us laughing and you popped off with the biggest grin and started laughing too! I swear, it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. My heart almost burst!

Sleep is still going well, though you're probably (hopefully) going through the infamous 4-month sleep regression. You still sleep well, for a baby, but you wake up twice now instead of just once. Of course, you are also going to bed earlier (6:30-7), so that could be why also. The past two days you've woken up around 5:15, which is a little too early, but I think that's mostly because you've been "sick." I put that in quotations because I'm completely stumped as to whether or not you are actually sick. For weeks now you've been stuffy, coughing, and sneezing at night and early morning. You wake up coughing and have a hard time nursing because your nose is stopped up. Sometimes we're able to suck some stuff out, but many times it just seems to be swollen sinuses or something. But during the day, you're perfectly fine. Daycare says you don't seem sick at all. You are happy, playful, eat and sleep well, and don't cough or sound stuffy. So, what's the deal, littlest? Are you allergic to something? Dust? The cats? I've tried to keep things extra clean for you, but sometimes it can be tough to eliminate those triggers completely. I've read you're too little for allergies like that, but I just don't know. How can you have these cold symptoms so consistently at night but nothing during the day? I feel like if you didn't have this going on, you would be sleeping more soundly.

You love your brother. He's so fascinating! But he's also a little alarming. You are adventurous though. Even when Grayson is a little too rough, like this morning when he tried to stand on a ball and it rolled away from him and bumped into your little face...you didn't cry at all. You seemed surprised and then started smiling like nothing had happened. It won't be long and you'll be imitating Grayson and getting yourself hurt in the process.

I love how easy-going you are. Uncle Brett recently commented that he doesn't think he's ever heard you cry. Fuss for a second while you impatiently wait for milk, maybe, but not really cry. Daycare always circles "happy/content/curious" and never any of the other emotions on your daily reports. People are always referring to you as sweet, happy, chill, or calm. While I appreciate how easy you make things, I think my favorite quality of yours is the joy you emanate. You are always smiling or babbling excitedly. And if you're calm and quiet, all I can think is how you are the perfect image of peace. I know you're a human and you aren't perfect and you'll battle sin in your life, but I imagine when I look at you, I have a small fraction of God's perspective when he looks at us. I love you fully, completely, unconditionally, and see only your most wonderful qualities.

Never lose that sweetness. Never lose your joy. This world is scary and heavy with sadness, much of the time. But somewhere in the mess of it all, there is always joy to be found. Jesus gives us that, my littlest. Never, ever lose your ability to find that and hold on tight.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Grayson: My Big Boy

At Tybee Island - May 2016

backyard summer fun - June 2016

July 2016

Enjoying his morning smoothie with his friend Mouse! July 2016

Oatland Island Wildlife Center - July 2016

Shopping! August 2016

July 2016

Oatland Island Wildlife Center - July 2016

First day in the 3-year old classroom - a little nervous! - August 1, 2016

Morning selfies - August 2016

August 2016

sweet brother snuggles - August 2016

As with every month and year of Grayson's life, I both rejoice in the progress and will it to slow down! I both miss my baby and cherish my big boy. Time passes by in an instant. I marvel at how little I remember of the minute details of his baby years. After a rough night with Adam, I think back on the many (gosh, there were MANY) rough nights with Grayson and it hardly seems real. Like the blurring, hazy memories of a dream. I'm desperate to slow it all down long enough for me to commit it to memory. But alas, time refuses to submit to my demands! So, I write it here and hope that it helps! :)

Grayson started school in the 3-year old class this month. We were a little sad about this transition because we love the teachers in the 2-year old class. And they love Grayson, too. But as with most milestones in Grayson's life, he handled it like a champ and any worry or anxiety was for naught. Other than a few fussy, tired evenings during the first week, the transition has been seamless!

In many ways, this current stage of life is my favorite thus far. Grayson is smarter than ever and learning new things every day. The things he remembers says amaze and excite me! I love that while watching the scene with the wolves in Beauty and the Beast, Grayson said, "I know about wolves. I saw them at the zoo with Leland and Cody." We continued to have a quick conversation about the wolves and other animals we saw at the zoo that day (about a month or so ago). I love that Grayson knows songs. Like, really knows them. This morning I started singing a song from "Dora the Explorer" (that junk just lives in my head these days!) and Grayson took over and finished the song for me. I love that he can explain things to me. He can tell me that he's crying because he hit his toe on the door or because Daddy picked up a dead bug to throw away (it's not always logical. And it doesn't always happen right away. Sometimes we spend several minutes trying to get him to stop crying long enough to tell us why.). I love that he can actually tell me what he did at school and what his favorite activities are (currently - riding bikes!). I love that he is learning how to recognize emotions and be empathetic (to a degree). He tells me when he thinks Adam is sad. He tells me when one of his friends was sad at school. His teacher told us that he tries to comfort the other kids when they are upset. I love that!

Doing things with Grayson is more fun than ever, too! Simple errands can become a fun adventure. He rarely complains and we can turn mundane tasks into something interesting. On Sunday we went to the jewelry store to have my rings cleaned. While we waited, Grayson and I looked in awe at all the sparkly diamonds, and then searched for Mickey Mouse among the display of bracelet charms. He even helped me shop for clothes, expressing an opinion on what clothes he liked and didn't. When I tried on something he particularly liked, he would say, "Ohhh! Look at Mommy!" like I was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. 

He also enjoys helping with tasks around the house. He is usually great at cleaning up his messes, and he will let you know if you try to put a toy away in the wrong place. (I wonder who he got that from! Hint - it's not me.) He likes to help me prepare Adam's bottles for the next day by sticking the labels on them, helping me carry empty bottles to the sink, and if I'm feeling brave...helping me pour the milk. He likes helping us cook and even though it may slow down the process, we try to let him help however he can.

In addition to being smart and fun and helpful (oh, and hilarious!), he is also super sweet. He still loves to snuggle. Sometimes it's easy to forget that he's still a little guy because he seems so grown up. But he still needs his moments of cuddling to cool down from time to time. 

Speaking of, yes, it's an awesome stage, but it's also tiring and frustrating at times. With all his blossoming language, skills, and independence comes strong opinions, testing boundaries, and asserting himself in ways that are not always welcomed! He not only remembers fun facts and events, but also special treats or changes in routine that were never meant to be regularly repeated. For example, Scott brought him a donut in the car on the way home from school once, and for a week Grayson seemed to think we were just hoarding donuts under the car seats and refusing to share them with him. He would first insist that we did have donuts, even though we told him we didn't. "I think we DO!" Then, when that got him no where, he would cry. 

Tasks and errands are more fun, but they also have the potential to be exhausting. While he was really sweet and well-behaved for most of the time at the mall on Sunday, after a while he ended up crawling in and out of the dressing room under the door, running away from us and weaving in and out of clothing displays, and shouting and laughing very loudly. I was trying to try on shoes, Scott was wearing Adam, and suddenly we had to try to chase down our almost 3-yr old who moments before was being a model child. He can flip that switch so easily! 

His independence is helpful and exciting, but it also means that he wants to do everything by himself. And if you try to help him when he doesn't want your help? The good Lord be with you because he will scream bloody murder! And if he's REALLY worked up, he might try to hit you or kick you or just jump on you. And if you happen to also be holding Adam? Yeah, it can go downhill fast! 

But at the end of the day, he's still the best almost-3-yr-old I know. The age has its challenges, as it does with every child, but for the most part he is handling it all very well. He has big emotions, and I realize it can be tough to learn to regulate them. Even though he tries our patience and drives us nuts sometimes, Scott and I are both so in love with him! We have both ended up in tears recently at the thought of how quickly Grayson is growing up. It's crazy to look back on memories that don't seem that long ago, like our beach vacation last summer, last Halloween, and our trip to Disney last December, and realize how much bigger and more advanced Grayson is now. How has so much changed in such a short amount of time?! How is it that just 8 months ago he was being rocked to sleep before going down in a toddler bed with a pacifier and now he sleeps on his own in a full bed?? How is it that just 7-8 months ago he was still in diapers and now he's potty trained?! Or that just a year ago we were counting the number of words in his sentences and getting excited about 7 or 8, and now he can carry on full conversations with us? 

It's all hard to believe, and it's all bitter sweet. But despite the many challenges, the joys outnumber them by far! And I think I'll be okay, until the day he outgrows the snuggling! ;)

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Trouble with Self-Reliance

Self-reliance is a sneaky sin. It doesn't even sound like a sin. What's wrong with being able to take care of yourself? Isn't that a good thing? Well, yeah, to an extent. But for me, it's a slippery slope.


One recent Saturday, Scott was helping someone in town move and I was home with the boys. I figured we would just hang out and watch movies until Daddy got home and then we would commence our usual Saturday activities -- grocery shopping and usually some fun outing like the library or park. But as we wrapped up our second episode of Wild Kratts, I determined that I was perfectly capable of accomplishing things on my own with the boys. Why wait for Scott?

I got all three of us ready and loaded into the car. We stopped at the recycling center. We went to the library to return our books and pick out some new ones. Then, I did the bravest of all acts. I pulled into Wal-Mart, plunked Grayson in a cart, strapped Adam to my chest and tackled grocery shopping!

Not taken that day, but it looked pretty similar!

We moved swiftly and efficiently through the store. We stopped by the bakery for a free cookie. Adam was content and Grayson excitedly talked my ear off as we discussed the items on the list and our plans to use them. We checked out without incident. The cashier called me "super mom." I was feeling pretty cocky at this point. I couldn't wait for Scott to get home so I could surprise him with all I accomplished. (side-note: I recognize that stay at home moms do this all the time and it's no big thing. My proverbial hat goes off to you, ladies!)

I pulled back into our garage, thinking through what I would make for Grayson's lunch and how I would soon be getting both boys down for a nap. I got out of the car, pulled the key out of the ignition, and suddenly realized... there are no house keys on my key ring. 

It turns out, my keys had fallen off the key ring at some point and I hadn't noticed. And there I was, in the 95 degree heat, two hungry and sleepy little boys, a trunk full of groceries, and no way to get into the house. Wasn't feeling too cocky anymore.


Of course, trying to tackle grocery shopping without Scott was not sinful. But it reminded me how easily our best efforts can be shattered by the unforeseeable circumstances of life. And the trouble with a self-reliant mindset is that it easily bleeds over into our views of God.

When things are going well, I feel in control. I take all the steps necessary for a healthy, happy life. Even the "Christian" things are within my control. Reading the Bible, serving, tithing, going to church? Check, check, check, check! It's all too easy to start to think I can do life without God. Not only life, but after life! If I can just keep doing all the right things, I'll earn my way to Heaven.

I may not ever voice this belief, but it's there, simmering just beneath the surface of my subconscious. But it's a lie. People are imperfect. I sure as heck am! I can't even ensure that I can get into my own house, much less Heaven!! But seriously, I could never be "good enough" to get into Heaven on my own efforts. No one could because we all fall short of the standard of perfection that is required. That's why Jesus's work on the cross is so important and worthy of praise.

And thinking we can do it without him is a real slap in the face to the sacrifice He made for us. I have to be mindful of these feelings so that I can surrender them and recognize my need for a savior. No matter how accomplished I may be in life, I never want to lose sight of God's grace. Relying on just myself will never be enough. I'm so thankful I have someone greater to rely on!

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