Sometimes when I listen to the things Emerson says, it really is just like I hear myself echoing in my head. She has recently been enjoying taking a turn to read one book at night out loud to us. She reads her books so often she can mostly tell the story pretty correctly, and when not, she has a great imagination to fill in the blanks which is always entertaining. Last night, Terry was at a meeting for church and she and I were snuggled up in the chair reading. Here is what she said when she got to the page with the above picture:
"I am so proud of how you can jump so high," said his mother, "but we are not going to do that."
"Why?" said bunny.
"Well," said his mother, "it might not be very safe all of the time."
Just like me - praise the effort, correct the action. I could give a billion examples of how I do this constantly through my day with clients at work...and apparently at home as well. I love that she 'gets' that I do that. Sorry little bunny - good jumping though. When she finished reading her book, I told her:
"Thank you for reading us such a great story!"
Her response: "Oh, that's no problem!"
I love hearing the phrases she picks up from us. Here's to remembering she picks it up and our words become embedded in our kids' hearts and minds. I pray I will always remember this even in the little things like how I read books and how I redirect her so our words will always ultimately build her up.
Let's just catch up in one big collage for the past month:
Row One: 1. Emerson's new favorite activity is coloring - she is good, really good (I can brag on my own kid here right?) and loves to do it; 2. She inherited Lightning McQueen slippers from her cousins that she wears 24/7. Literally; 3. Aunt Laura moved in with us which has been so fun and Emerson loves hanging out on her bed reading books; 4. & 5. Em had her first "hot & now" doughnut at Krispy Kreme and loves making funny faces with dad; 6. For Father's Day, we filled the living room with 30 balloons and wrote notes on each for reasons Terry is a great dad [sidenote: ever tried to fill a sedan with 30 ballons and a 2 year old in a carseat? BAD IDEA. Don't try it. Unsafe parent of the year award that day right here.]
Row Two: 1. Our house is on the market right now (sniff sniff, but excited about what could be next) so Emerson helped Terry lots with some touch-up painting...; 2. When she wasn't painting, she was still coloring; 3. After painting she earned lots of popsicle rewards; 4. Exploring a new FROYO store near our house with Laura and me - she loved the chairs and sat back and put her feet up on the table before digging in; 5. She proudly shows off a painting she wanted to do for Terry one day as a surprise for when he got home from work - she was very proud of how she 'filled in all the white parts' (proof she has been working hard on her coloring also); 6. When it isn't 800 degrees here in Charlotte, we have tried to get outside and headed to the park here to feed the ducks after a walk at Freedom Park
Row Three: 1. Because I am making a crazy face, I feel like we might look somewhat alike for the first time on film here!; 2. Aunt Laura and Emerson have been exploring the neighborhood on their days at home together and are enjoying the used book store up the street here; 3. Aunt Laura and Em on a walk - Laura loves putting her hair in a pony tail, and well let's face it, what isn't to love about that little pony tail except that it makes her look so old!; 4. The front view of the pony tail in a bubble bath with a sucker - this was how she recovered from her first bee sting. Thank the Lord for many reasons, I wasn't with her when it happened but it's still traumatic to me to think about. Best news: she didn't get my allergy!; 5. Reading to some dolls after bath. Emerson loves to read and can pretty accurately tell the stories of most of her books. Her imagination fills in the blanks pretty well also. One of my favorite things is to listen to her read to herself or her 'guys;' 6. Oops, a repeat - but I could have easily put in another picture of her coloring because she really does do it all the time.
We are loving and soaking in our last few weeks of being a family of three and anxiously ready to become a family of four. Emerson talks as if she is thrilled to be a big sister and often talks to and about her baby brother already - it fills my heart up. We are one day at a time right now getting ready for this little guy, showing our house, and wondering what could be next and are thankful for all the potential changes or lack thereof coming up! If I stay slack on here - which let's be honest, I will - know we are busy enjoying family date time, our favorite time.
For more on our fun pre-4th of July weekend and great pictures like these, head on over to my sister's blog. No need to reinvent the wheel. Please do note just how adorable Emerson is above as she has made a little bed for this smurf out of sticks and leaves (pillow and all) and how funny she knows she is as she laughs at herself. It's a miracle I do not gobble her up.
Clearly, this is not a picture of me or my own little peanut - though this might be more like what I thought she would look like. Good thing she looks like her adorable little self, because I just melt over how precious she is every second that I look at her. I saw this picture on Pinterest yesterday and soon thereafter read a blog post that has kept tugging on my heart with a heavy weight. Here, I should insert a forewarning that this blog post might go in many different directions to get back to the same start/end point. It is also full of links and you should click on every single one of them. We'll let this picture be the catalyst to launch us though.
A few weeks ago, when Terry turned 30, he was out late hanging out with some of his best friends who had come into town for a little surprise weekend I had pulled together for him. When I woke up and it was 'after curfew,' and he wasn't home, I worried a little and sent him a text just to check in. When I didn't hear back from him in less than 15 seconds, I went ahead and started planning his funeral and figuring out just how I would survive as a single mom without my best friend and bring a new baby into this world. I know. It is absurd and a little sick. I go from zero to a million miles away in my mind with these things and always have. I have vivid memories of being a young child standing by the large windows of the sunroom in the house I grew up in looking out the window waiting for my mom to get back from the (fill in the blank). If she was 5 minutes late - and there were no cell phones to call anyone to say so of course - I was sweating bullets about growing up without a mom. Once I got old enough to know more about losing someone, within 1 minute of them being late I would have already thought about what kind of accident they were in, who else was hurt, how the funeral would be arranged, what songs would be sung, how would I go to school/work/life the next day, etc. etc., etc. When I told Terry how serious I am about this happening to me all the time, he laughed and then said "you need help." A little jokingly...but a little not. Anxiety has never been a foreign concept to me, so no surprise that this is an area it lingers in my heart.
So of course, this weekend, I started "getting some help," much to my surprise. We have a 2 week series at church right now called "Soul Detox" by Pastor Craig Groeschel. Y'all, no joke. He told the exact same story about himself doing exactly what I do when someone is late, etc. - except his wife just told him he was sick. Maybe the same thing as needing help. I almost laughed out loud at the Lord's timing and the way He was bringing me help. It was a great message for me, and I'll look forward to this weekend's message. You can watch the series here. So the foundation for 'help' has started for me, and I was reminded of amazing promises of the Lord to remind me why not to think thoughts of fear, insecurity, etc. But then I was reminded of how much further I have to go to really rely on those promises yesterday while reading a blog post of a photographer here in Charlotte.
I first read about Chris & Jen Hunt on my sweet friend Amy's blog - you'll recognize Amy as she took our maternity pictures and baby pictures of Emerson and was a dear friend and part of my Bible Study group when she lived here. I have followed their blog and have loved their redemptive story with their precious girls, and Jen clearly just has an incredible heart. Yesterday when I popped in for an update on their blog, I was surprised to see Amy (different Amy, not photographer Amy) & Charis. You can read Amy's story on Chris &Jen's blog on the most recent blog post. I have known Amy from a distance through the Young Life community and we had talked before Emerson was born about Amy potentially keeping Emerson when I went back to work - clearly there were lots of other things in motion that we did not know about that led us in different directions. Her daughter Charis and Emerson are only a few weeks apart. You should pause here and go read their story if you haven't already so the rest of this will make sense. When I read Amy's response of, "but I know that heaven is even better than that," I knew it would take me awhile to digest. I sobbed through watching the video of Amy & Charis imagining myself in that position (because again, I do crazy things in my head), and cannot even begin to fathom it. And moreso, I cannot imagine my response being what hers was/is. I hope that I know that heaven is better. I know that it is, but my brain is just not big enough to conceive that when I am face to face with the world's cutest child. I am amazed by Amy's spirit and pray that mine can grow in that direction.
I always have this nagging underlying fear that something will happen to my children while they are young, that I will miss out on their lives somehow. I read and sob over and get wrapped up in tragic stories like these, and then I am amazed and reminded of God's miracles in stories like these. I need reminding that while I am equipped for this life and made to be a mother in life, I am made also and more ultimately, made for more. It doesn't have to be one or the other, really, it has to be both. I need to be begging minute by minute, "Give me Jesus!," for myself and for my children - so my children will hopefully grow to desire the same thing, so I can cherish them the way He wants me to, raise them and love them they way they were made to be. I want my children to know always that I love Jesus and I love them - and I love them well because of Him. If I want to get rid of fear and worry and cling to His promises; if I want to breathe in every minute with my children as deeply possible; remember every sound, look and event; be sure I love as deeply as possible...then what else do I need to be asking for other than Jesus?
In the morning, when I rise In the morning, when I rise In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus.
When I am alone, When I am alone, When I am alone, Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus.
When I come to die, When I come to die, When I come to die, Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have all this world, You can have all this world, You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus.
Since the photo montage to your dad was a smashing success with the people I know and don't know 'out there,' and I really am making an effort (even if it isn't obvious) to do a better job of getting your days down on paper, pictures, internet, I thought I might remind you of some things I really love about you and some of the things you have been doing recently. Though I hope I am never 'one of those moms' who always has her phone with her/out/in use when we are playing together, I do always at least know where it is nearby for snapping a quick picture or video and hopefully that part is paying off.
In a sentence, you are the cutest, most cheerful, most imaginative and kind 2.5 year old in the world to your dad and me. We are only slightly biased...but believe me, I know lots of kids, so I'm sticking with this as truth. Here are some examples:
Several months ago we went to a Bobcats game and you had a blast getting a balloon flower and watching the "basketball guys" as you call them. You were so enthralled with Rufus, the mascot and talk about him all the time. We went a few weeks ago to an open house for the Bobcats that was supposed to be a blast and was actually a total dud - but you were still thrilled to be there even with the expectation of Rufus being there. And when he didn't come, even though we'd been talking about him coming ALL. DAY. (fail Bobcats, fail.), you just asked what kind of covers he had on his bed where we told you he was sleeping and kept going without missing a beat.
You love some good time with a garden hose. I think I can thank Beth for this because you always help water her flowers. You are a very helpful gardener watering the hydrangeas, making 'dirt soup' with a spoon, tupperware bowl and some mulch and weeds, and mowing the grass with dad with the Fisher Price lawn mower Caleb passed on to you. This day after work, we came home to water and play outside and we both had a great time letting you water and spray me with the hose to your heart's content. You thought it was the best thing ever that I let you spray me as much as you wanted, and I thought it was the best thing ever to hear the deep belly laugh of real joy every time you got me!
After a hard day's work, you always know how to kick back and relax with a good summer time snack. One of our favorite past times is sitting on our front porch together eating a popsicle and reading books. I am so thankful for the front porch on our house, and I love that you would play outside all day if we would let you. Hopefully in our next home we will have better outdoor play space, but for now, our front porch/tree house serves us quite well!
We recently had some of dad's volunteer team from church over for a cookout and had this super fancy water box out for the kids to play with. You sure have loved it - best $7 I have spent in a long time. You are always sure to make your lower half ready for any call to the water in case you need to save anyone from the flood. If you look closely, you might notice that Super Grover and Big Bird even made it onto this version of the ark. They might not have come on by twosies, twosies - but you are not one to discriminate. I love how you perched the dove on the top of the ark and how you used your watering can to make it rain after cramming all your guys on there!
You really are just like your dad. I have lots of mental images of him tucked in bed like this also, late night watching basketball games that aren't on our 4 channels of cable-less television. This was taken either on a Saturday or Sunday - either way, what we call one of our 'family fun day(s)' over the weekend when we are all home together and there is no going to work. You love to come tuck in bed - who am I kidding, you are usually jumping, not snuggling - but you do enjoy getting to watch a show while you wake up on the weekend. You have recently discovered Busy Town shows on Netflix, which I will take any day over having to read one of Richard Scarry's 8 million word, 5,000 page books. These books, I usually send right to Beth's house! (True confessions Beth, sorry!)
Ham, ham, ham. Here's what you did with some new pajamas you wanted to look at in the car on the way home after we bought them. You are a nut and I love that about you, I love your cheerfulness, your joy, and your constant source of fun - it is good for my heart the same way that your dad's lightheartedness is good for my heart. I also love the little look you are giving me in this picture, your face is the cutest.
Sometime recently when we were home alone together and dad was away for the night, I let you have a sleepover in my bed. I remember growing up when my dad would be away and I got to have sleepovers in my mom's bed. They were the best. I could look at your sweet, sleeping face all night long. What is it about us mothers that we love to watch our sleeping children? Raffi, the giraffe, is your best pal, and he always sleeps tucked right up beside you. As silly as it seems, I am glad that you have Raffi and love him the way you do - stuffed animals are somehow a great way to learn to love and 'be loved.' I know, I slept with mine until I got married. True story.
I love you sweet, sleeping girl. I am proud of who you are and the kid you are becoming. You are going to be a great big sister; you are already the greatest kiddo and best little pal!
In honor of my amazing husband who turns 30 today, here are 30 shots, in no particular order that made me love him, make me love him, and make me keep on loving him every day. Proud of you, Terry for all 30 years of your life...but not proud enough to let you have a motorcycle. Or maybe, too proud to let you have one!
I love you because:
1. You are a great camper
2. Your sense of adventure...and your rockin' bod
3. You love to be surprised (and what a chore for me to have to come to Hawaii to surprise you!)
4. You take so much pride in the 'firsts' in our life
5. Your excitement for life
6. Your amazing sense of style.
7. Yep, your amazing sense of style
8. You asked me to marry you.
9. You are the farthest thing from a 'deadbeat dad' anyone could imagine
10. Your genes, which are the strongest ever, sure have given us cute children that look just like you (yes, children, there's no chance this boy will look anything like me, we know it!)
11. Your athletic genes are more than enough to compensate for mine.
12. There is nothing to not love about you - seriously, look at this.
13. You are as cute on your 30th birthday as you were on your 1st
14. You are a great date and always make sure I know how much you love time alone with me
15. You have great moves - don't be mad at me for putting this on here.
16. Your heart is sensitive and precious to me
17. You lead our family closer to the Lord every day deliberately and with great gentleness.
18. You are a California boy at heart
19. You love a pregnant belly - I particularly love this right now as I feel my body growing and you love it more with each day
20. You are HILARIOUS. I love your pregnant belly as much as you love mine. Again, don't be mad that I put this one on here either, I think it's one of your best talents and looks!
21. You are safe, cozy, and love to snuggle. Now if only I could convince you to sleep this snuggled up every night...
22. You make me more fun every day
23. You watch over and take care of our family
24. You immediately became the best dad I could imagine
25. Did I already say you're a hot date?
26. You remind me to slow down and take it all in, spend time with friends, and go on vacation
27. You love time in the mountains like I do (we're in Asheville here, I know you can't tell)
28. You make our daughter the happiest little girl in the world
29. Well, just look at you, this makes me love you!
30. You love me more today than you did 5 years ago
Happy birthday Terry, you are the best man that I know.
Terry and I had been talking about wanting to go camping recently when we realized we had to go...now or (a) it would be too hot (b) I would be too pregnant or (c) we would have a newborn. We threw the idea out to my brother and sister and they were all on board. Hopefully this can be an annual tradition now - we had a blast!
We camped at Jordan Lake in Durham so the kids got to swim in the lake Sunday night and again Monday morning. Emerson is a fish and loves the water so I hope we can keep her around the water more this summer. It makes it extra fun when you have a dad like Terry who can endlessly and tirelessly twirl you around in the water.
One of the highlights of the trip for Emerson came in the lake when she was swimming with Terry and told him she needed to go to the bathroom. He told her she could pee in the water - because let's be honest, that is actually completely disgusting...but we all do it. She couldn't believe she was allowed to do this and you could tell as she finally started to go because she started smiling then giggling and then ended up in the deepest belly laugh. She says it was one of her favorite parts of the trip 'when (she) pee-peed on the fish,' and later told me, "I hope that fish took a shower!"
It was so fun to watch Em and Caleb run around the campsite together, eating packet meals, roasting s'mores and shining their little flashlights around the woods. Neither one of them batted an eyelash at the darkness, sleeping in a tent, or being outside.
Caleb and I were the first ones up out of our tents Monday morning and I took him to 'water the plants' as he said. Here was another highlight of the trip for the kids - yes, again about peeing. As Caleb started to pee a cricket hopped out from under him and he almost fell over laughing that he had peed on a cricket. He and Em laughed about it all morning and Emerson is still talking about it! Here are the bedheads counting out their morning breakfast loot -
Here's to next year's trip with a new family member for us, and though we had an airbed in our tent, we might try to make it even fancier next year - think along these lines. But I am still sticking with packet meals for dinner - how can meat and potatoes taste so good when you camp anyway??