Thursday, November 29, 2012

That one time I scarred our child for life

Hopefully she won't remember...

Please excuse the fuzzy photos. No way was I paying over $20 to buy one of their "professional" pictures. The iPhone works just great, thank you.

It was sad, and hilarious. Poor Millie. But hey, check out her ponytail! She finally has enough hair for one!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My little shadow

Millie is growing increasingly interested in what I'm doing. She is always crawling between my legs and looking up at me {a very clear "Pick me up, Mom!"}, or coming up behind me to see what's up. 

Yesterday she was especially curious. I was answering a few e-mails for my church calling and then this happened:
Hey Mom, whatcha doin?
And then it got silly. Photobooth has some pretty hilarious effects. Please excuse the hair- she happened to rip my headband out just before these pictures were taken.

See? My headband's in her mouth.
Notice my teary eyes. I was laughing so hard!
No effect, just Millie's own brand of silliness

I love my little shadow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We had a great Thanksgiving! It was wonderful to stay at home and spend time with some of the people I love most. We ate lots of food, saw the last Twilight movie, and I only sliced 2 of my fingers! So I would call it a successful weekend.

A little pre-meal "wrestling"
Millie with her Gigi
Nana and Botz
The boys at the bar (prime proximity to the football game)
The master turkey-carver
Millie with Grammy 
A sad attempt at a mother-daughter photo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday thoughts

- I started listening to Christmas music recently. Usually, I start November 1st. But being down here in warmer weather holds the urge off a little bit. Anyway, so last week I turned on my holiday station on Pandora. Michael Buble's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" filled the room, and I just melted. You know that feeling when you've done something really hard or been gone for a while and then you see your mom for the first time? That's how I felt. A weird way to describe it, but that's it. I just felt like I had come home in a way- we've had Christmas music on ever since! I love the holiday season!

- We are buying a second car this week. I am so excited! No more grocery shopping on Saturdays and bumming rides.

- Millie had her first cold last week, and it was so sad. All I could think was how grateful I am that her health has been so good that this was her first cold! I'm not sure I could have handled much more than that. I caught whatever she had, and blew it up into one of those weekend-knockout colds. Still sounding like a man. Thank goodness for a sweet husband and sweet in-laws for taking over Millie duty on Saturday so I could sleep it off!

-My brain won't turn off the last few days. I lay awake at night and thoughts just run non-stop! I'm not even stressed, so I'm not really sure what the deal is. Losing sleep for no reason isn't a good idea ever, but especially when recovering from a cold. 

- I really like this guy, and I'm so excited to have the whole rest of the week with him!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Naughty or nice?

Sometimes, Millie plays so nicely. She smiles, babbles, and doesn't make a huge mess.

Yes, she's wearing Christmas pajamas. 

And then other times, her playing looks like this. *Cue the scary violin screeching*

Blurry phone picture, in church. Wicked I know, but she put my WHOLE necklace in her mouth! It was hilarious!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The day(s) we moved into our house

It's never just one day, am I right? We closed on our house on a Wednesday, and thought we weren't going to have access to it until Friday. But since the sellers had moved out already, we started bringing and doing stuff the very next day! Thursday was pest control and small loads, Friday was locksmith and small loads and shopping for essentials and loading up the U-Haul, and Saturday was the big move in day! We had tons of help and the whole process went so smoothly and quickly. Thanks again to everyone who came to help. It was seriously about an hour of unloading- that's it! Pretty amazing. We really could not have done it without each person who came. Plus, it was really fun!!!

So excited to move in!!
It was a lot of stuff in the truck- don't let the smiles fool you
Kitchen duty 
Millie duty

The only bummer of the day was having over a dozen donuts left to eat after all was said and done. But if we're being honest, that's not a true bummer. So I'd call the day a success!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tradition lives on

My family has this tradition. When someone turns 16, all older siblings accompany the new 16-year-old on their first date. I remember my first date- bowling and tacos at home. I don't remember who my date was, but I remember having a great time with my sisters!! 

My youngest sister Sarah turned 16 recently. Even though there were only 3 of us who live close enough to have a group date, we had a great time! Tim and Sarah came down from Lufkin and their dates came to our house. We made pizza and Oreo shakes and played Hoopla. Is there any better way to welcome Sarah into the world of dating? I think not.

Tim and Lauren
AJ and Sarah
Tyler and Millie {I was there too! Just behind the camera}
Playing Hoopla
AJ doesn't eat sweets, unless they're irresistible Oreo shakes! 

We had such a fun night. But Tim, Sarah, AJ, and Lauren, y'all should thank me. I had WAY more embarrassing pictures of each of you, and I only posted the nice ones!! Better stay on my good side.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My pick-me-up

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes being a stay-at-home mom worth it. Because if we're being honest, sometimes it's hard to see that it is. We are settling into our new house, and it has taken a lot of time getting things organized {not that we're even close to done}. There was a day last week that I was going through some old stuff of Tyler's. I looked at the pile of stuff to keep and stuff to throw/give away, and the amount of time I had spent sorting through things and making those piles. The only thing I could think was, "I spent that much time on this?? What has my life has come to?!?" (Not that going through piles of old stuff is all that I do, I just felt like it represented the mundane-ness and insignificance of my life. Carry on.) 

Because seriously, will this country fall apart if I don't sort through our old stuff? Or how many times can one read "The Going to Bed Book" in a day? And am I saving the world by sweeping up the cheerios on the floor? {Answers: no, an infinite number of times, and no.}

So when I feel like this, I am grateful for women who are wiser than me. And there are many of these- so very many. I have tons of great examples of women who understand who they are and the importance of what they do. One of them is Aunt Dana. She must have known I would come across these kinds of days, because she gave me a little inspiration tucked into the journal she gave me for my birthday. It's an article called "My Home as a Sacred space" by Kristine Manwaring. I want to share it here for anyone needing a boost.

"I have spent too much time in my home discouraged. 
I want to rear my children in a sacred atmosphere. 'With all my heart I believe that the best place to prepare for eternal life (John 12:25) is in the home,' said a wise teacher, and his words resonate to the core of my being. Yet, believing something does not automatically make it happen.
In the abstract, I love my family, I love my home, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. In the reality of three meals a day, soccer games, dirty laundry, reports on Spain, and strep throat, the connection between eternal life and daily life often escapes me.
In my experience, the most sacred atmospheres are found in beautiful buildings of worship such as synagogues, cathedrals, temples and churches that are set apart from our daily life. In these sacred places, we worship God and perform rituals that connect us to Him. I picture clean spaces, hushed voices, beautiful artwork and uninterrupted worship. I cannot recall ever leaving such a place wishing I hadn't been there. It seems everything runs according to plan and that everything I do there is part of a larger, meaningful whole.
Homes, on the other hand, are noisy, messy, often disorganized and characterized by nothing but interruptions. The demands during a single day are relentless, and it is not uncommon for both Mother and Father to feel used or spent. Even in the quiet moments, I usually find myself cooking, folding laundry, giving spelling quizzes, and playing Legos. These activities do not feel sacred to me. What possible definition of the word 'sacred' could apply to these two seemingly opposite experiences?
I have read in a Bible Dictionary that 'only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.' When first presented with this idea that homes should be sacred, I tried to make my home fit the kind of cleanliness and order I thought a temple represented. Instead of a more temple-like home, I ended up with a growing resentment towards the very things that homes exist for. Cooking and laundry became onerous because the tasks themselves created disorder. I became confused. Is my home still sacred when it is messy? What about when it is loud? What if I have children or friends who do not want to be reverent? Do they still get to come into my home? The harder I pushed my family to fit my narrow definition of 'sacred,' the more anxious and less temple-like we all felt.
Then I began walking in the mornings with a wise neighbor who grew up in a large, loving family and first became a mother at the age of forty-four. Our oldest sons are the same age. From her long perspective as a daughter and her more recent experience as a mother, she has come to believe that the work of feeding, clothing and nurturing one another is every bit as spiritual as it is physical. She feels strongly that when ordinary, life-sustaining tasks are done together as a family, they bind family members to one another in small but critical ways. She speaks of chopping vegetables and cleaning bathrooms with her sons with something akin to reverence. She has even said that scrubbing a wall with a child is a more productive 'togetherness' experience than attending his ball game or vacationing as a family. I was startled to realize that she saw as 'sacred' the very tasks that I always thought were obstacles to sacredness. And for evidence, she turned to the Bible. The parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25 clearly shows that Christ will judge us according to our willingness to feed an clothe 'the least of these my brethren.' Does this include members of our own families? In fact, Christ used imagery of feeding and washing and cleaning throughout His parables and object lessons. 'He shall feed his flock like a shepherd' (Isaiah 40:11). He even likens Himself to a hen who 'gathereth her chickens under her wings' (Matthew 23:37).
Even more striking to me, Christ not only spoke of these things, He personally did them. He fed multitude with limited tangible resources in a miraculous example of His attention to our physical as well as spiritual hunger. He washed the feet of His disciples to illustrate the humble service required of a Master and to reveal what He was willing to do that we might be entirely clean. When seen in this new light, my perception of tasks like peeling potatoes and scrubbing floors began to turn upside down and inside out. It was becoming obvious to me that when we care for the physical as well as the spiritual needs of our families, we are patterning our lives after Jesus Christ.
I learn even more when I share these tasks with my children. One Saturday morning my nine-year-old daughter and I were cleaning our large kitchen window together. I was outside and she was inside. We both sprayed the entire window with cleaner and when I looked at the window, I couldn't see her at all. Gradually, as we both wiped away the spray, her image became clearer until, with both the dirt and the spray gone, I could see her with perfect clarity. Our relationship is sometimes stormy, and the incident reminded me of my need to constantly keep wiping away surface tensions, judgmental thoughts, and misunderstandings whenever her true identity and potential are temporarily clouded from my vision.
Realizing something of the spiritual value of homemaking has made me more aware of the need to more fully involve my family in these tasks. My husband and I no longer simply delegate chores to our children each day. We wash dishes and make beds alongside them. By doing so, we have been blessed with opportunities to teach our children and be taught ourselves with a frequency and a depth we previously never imagined. A year ago, I spent most of my dishwashing time muttering under my breath and trying to jam too many dishes into the limited dishwasher space.
Now, every time I invite a child to thrust their hands into the warm, soapy water with mine, I learn something new about their spirit and their life. It is only when doing dishes together that my twelve-year-old son, who mostly speaks in monosyllables about his experiences at school, reveals who his friends are and why he has chosen the, the pressure he feels about his grades, how much he likes math, and what he thinks about his teacher.
Paradoxically, what I previously labeled 'mindless' and once thought of as interruptions to spiritual growth are becoming the core of what makes my home feel sacred. As I cook meals, wash dishes, make beds, and sweep floors, I am continually in the midst of both teaching and being taught about charity, humility, hope, and faith. I am exchanging independence and 'everyone seeking after their own' for a mutual dependence and unity in purpose that surely leads to being 'all of one mind, having compassion' (1 Peter 3:8). I feel the sacredness in my home not only when it is clean, but also when we are in the process of getting it that way. Some days I don't even mind that we will go through the process again the very next day.
Much of my discouragement at home was due to a sense of failure I felt for not being able to artificially create sacredness there. How comforting it is to be released from that burden. With joy and gratitude I now realize I need only look for the way sacredness already surrounds me."

So there it is, and I hope it lifts someone else the way it lifts me.

Also, this is what makes it worth it for me:
Moments when she sits still. Very brief, but precious
My 2 favorite people in this entire world
Those little teaching moments

I realize that this is pathetic coming from a person who only has one child, and has only had that one child for 10 months. There are so many who do so much more and do it all without complaining, and the point of this post was not to complain. I love my life, and just wanted to share something that I have found inspirational when things seem hard.  Because we all need a boost every once in a while, right? Right.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What my phone sees of life

Here are some phone pictures from lately.
A self-portrait by Millie
A pretty spot on our daily walk where the sidewalk ends and we hit gravel
"Mom, please stop unpacking and play with me!" I can't resist that face.
Reading books outside
Fun with boxes
Eating crackers at Jason's Deli
My phone probably thinks Millie is the only person who exists. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Millie update

It's been a while since I've updated on Millie, even though I post a zillion pictures of her! 

-Millie is 10 months old today. That is crazy to me! It really has gone by too quickly. She is such a happy little girl and the sunshine in our lives. 

-She is close to walking, and I think when she walks she'll run. This girl is full-speed all the time! We can hardly keep up with her. 

-She is very curious and wants to see everything all the time. Sometimes if I'm holding her and we're walking past something in the kitchen she'll just grab it, pulling it off the counter and usually bringing other things with it. 

-She loves to "help" me fold laundry, which to her means pulling things out of the basket, sitting in the basket, or messing up the beautiful piles.

-Millie has 4 teeth. 3 on bottom, 1 on top. She's been working really hard on those top 4 teeth- I can see them all right under the skin but they're just not coming through. Poor thing. Teething has been rough for her and she's been very fussy! But she deserves to fuss about something- she's been such a good baby.

-She loves being outside, and sometimes going on a walk is the only thing I can do to keep her calm and in one place. She still barks whenever we hear/see a dog and she loves swinging at the park.

-She's a good eater still, and FINALLY started taking a bottle last month. Saved my life. She loves her baby food, even the nasty green stuff, and is starting to be more interested in what I'm eating, which I'm really excited about. Except that it means I've got to watch what I eat, for her sake! When your 10-month old is reaching for the tootsie pop in your mouth, you realize something's gotta change. Probably for the best.

-Millie loves bath time, except when it comes to washing her face and hair. She hates having her face cleaned after a meal too.

I can't believe she's almost a year old. We love you Millie Mae!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rug drama

Our house has mostly hardwood and tile flooring. In fact, the only room in the house that has carpet is the master bedroom! That was a big pro on my list, but it has created a bit of drama for little missy. Rugs weren't at the top of our list of things to buy, but the first time Millie fell down on the tile and bonked her head, we quickly changed our minds. So, the same day we moved in, we bought a rug for the family room. A high-pile, neutral-colored rug. Tyler and I both love it, but we didn't think to run it by Millie before purchasing! Shame on us. There goes our "Parents of the Year" award. She would not touch the rug!
Millie plays happily on a blanket
Millie realizes she is alone on the blanket
Millie tries to find a way off the blanket, without touching the rug of course
Millie realizes she is, in fact, on an island and cries for help. Saddest face ever!
Silver lining: It was a great way to keep her contained while we buzzed around her unpacking! Also, she got over her aversion in a couple of days. She's back to her normal, all-over-the-place self now!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Millie's first Halloween

What costume do you put on a baby who barks like a dog, growls like a tiger, and escapes like Houdini?

A witch, of course!
She would NOT hold still for a picture! 
Until she got a book, that is.
Studying her spells
We had a fun day with Grammy and Gigi, running errands and catching up on Dancing with the Stars. I made some chili for dinner (even though it was definitely not chili-worthy weather) and some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and we sat outside with our new neighbors to pass out treats to the kids in the neighborhood. Can't wait to take Millie trick-or-treating here! We love our little witch.
On our walk- she was less than amused