Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Zoee...

My little Joy-joy! You are one of the happiest babies I have ever seen. Even when you are spitting up, you are smiling (most of the time). Your spitting up is finally getting better (it's still not entirely gone but much better) thus life with you trying to crawl is less messy. Here are some "Zoee facts" from your little 6 month old life...

1. You are teething pretty bad so you are chewing on everything.

2. You love to smile and I just love it. Daddy and Asher still get the biggest smiles from you which is so precious!

3. You love being outside and you love your brother (especially when he talks to you). Just in the last week I have been able to ask Asher to go talk to you when I am trying to get your bottle ready and he can usually stall you until I come in. It is precious to see your relationship with your brother growing.

4. I think that you are going to like to sing. Here are the 2 main reasons... 1. You have a VERY loud voice. I am sure the neighbors can hear you cry when you wake up from your naps and 2. When I put on worship music in the house you start "talking" or "singing" VERY loudly.

5. You move your hips from side to side when you get excited. We call it your "Elvis" move. It is so cute!

6. You are a Mommy's girl so far and I am trying to soak that up because I know there will be a day when you might prefer your friends to spending time with me =).

Zoee, it is a joy to be your mom. I am getting to snuggle more with you now that I am not scared of getting drenched in spit-up. I am looking forward to the summer and swimming with you because you already seem to really enjoy the water. I love you, Zo-bear and love getting to see your little spicy and joyful personality coming to life!


Dear Asher...

Dear Asher,
Life with you as a son continues to be one joyful and non-stop adventure. You are so so so active but I am trying to soak in every minute of it because I know that it will go by so fast. We go to the park almost everyday because you and Zoee love being outside. When its just the 3 of us we usually go somewhere close but on Thursdays (Daddy's day off) we can be more adventurous and go to places that require 2 parents! You just love going down the slides with us. "Come on Daddy" and "Come on Mommy" are two phrases we hear often these days... along with the phrase "Daddy/Mommy... where ARE you!?" when you are trying to find us to come and play with you. Here are some fun "Asher facts" at this stage of your life...

1. You love to talk. You talk about "school" (Mother's Day Out) and your friends and if you miss them, you will walk around asking to "See Ya-ya" or "See Aeva" or "See Papa."

2. Your best friend right now is either Aeva or Josh. You have such a special friendship with both of them. You and Aeva love running around and chasing each other and you love to give her hugs and kisses. You and Josh love to walk around together when we go to Spring Creek Park to play volleyball. He will also sit with you while you play cars.

3. You still love to eat. Your favorite thing right now is probably "cereal bars" (Barbra's organic fruit and yogurt bars). You also like avocados, bananas, fruit snacks, prunes, cheese, yogurt, honey mustard and will usually try ANYTHING your Daddy or Papa are eating.

4. You LOVE Zoee. When we go to get her up from naps, you run in and say, "HI YO-BEAR (Zo-bear)!" or "HI PRIN-TESS (Princess)!" I just love when you guys start making each other laugh!

5. The only things you HATE right now are 1. big pools where you can't touch the bottom 2. haircuts and 3. Getting your face cleaned

Again, it is a joy to be your parents. Daddy and I still laugh almost daily at the funny/cute things you do. We love seeing you dance and hearing you "pray" is precious even though you seem to be just mimicking Mommy and Daddy. You are kind, obedient, and joyful- all things that make a parent's life so enjoyable. I love making your hot-chocolate in the morning and I love watching you and Daddy share candy! You are precious, Asher, and I continue to pray that you will grow to be a man who loves the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Come quickly...

This post might only make sense to Sonny and I but he asked me to document all the things we learn about our relationship with God through parenting and this is one lesson that we seem to be revisiting often...

We do not read a lot of parenting books mainly because we do not have a lot of time. The only one we have read so far was recommended to us by our friends Ross and Staci King who we look up to greatly as godly parents. The book is called To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl and it talks about the importance of children being trained to come when they are called. Not only does this just make parents' lives more enjoyable, it is so necessary for the safety of our kids. If our children hesitate to come to us, they could be putting themselves in a life-threatening situation (ie- if cars are coming). So, we have spent many minutes training Asher to come when he is called. Most of the time he is very good at coming; even when he is in another room, we have taught him to drop everything and come when we call him. It is so encouraging to see how joyful he is when he runs to us and sees our delight in his obedience!

As Sonny and I were training Asher, we started to think of our relationships with the Lord. The Lord wants us to drop everything and obey Him, knowing that He tells us to do things because He knows they are best for us. We know that He must delight in seeing us excited to obey Him.

Lately though, Asher has put a new twist on his "coming" when he is called. The last few times we have called him, he has invented different ways of "coming"- ie crawling, hopping slowly, skipping around us. At first, we thought it was funny but the more we thought about it, we decided that we wanted him to come quickly when he was called. If he is standing in the street and we tell him to come and he starts to crawl to us- this could be very dangerous. So, lately we have been telling him, "Asher, come quickly" and he is doing better. Sonny and I were talking about this too and we thought about our relationship with the Lord. How often does He tell us to do something and we try to come to Him on our terms (crawling, hopping, whatever we feel like). This is not obedience. I heard from another couple this awesome phrase, "delayed obedience is disobedience." This is so true. Just as we want Asher to come quickly when he is called, so the Lord wants us to "drop everything and obey" when He tells us to do something.

I was reading Genesis today and I saw that obedience in Abraham when God told him to circumcise his whole family (the males). Though Abraham had had times in his past where he had not obeyed fully, by the end of his life he did. I was so encouraged by that. Genesis 17:23 says that "the very same day, as God had said to him" Abraham had circumcised the males in his family. I want to be like this. I pray that I will continue to grow in obedience to the Lord and "come quickly" when I am called by the Lord.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Lord's Mercy

I have been feeling like I should post this for a while but with 2 babies and a crazy month, I have not really had the time. Something that has been impressed on my heart lately is

~Psalm 145:9
"The Lord is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all of His works."

This verse seems so simple but if we really believe what it says, there are great implications for our lives. For me, I thought immediately of Zoee and her reflux. If this verse is true (which it is), then somehow God's mercy is over Zoee's spit up. I know this might sound crazy but there are some truths that I think God was wanting me to remember...
1. He is Sovereign and nothing is outside of His control (even reflux)
2. His mercy is over all of His acts

For some reason, God is having me go through this small season of dealing with a spit-up baby BUT it is not without purpose. Everything is an opportunity for us to grow more in the image of Christ. For me, I know that this season is teaching me to depend on Christ for my joy and patience. When I have changed outfits 4 times in one day and changed Zoee 3 times and cleaned the carpet 8 times and done 3 loads of laundry- this is all part of God's mercy towards me. I have been thinking of this verse over and over these past few weeks.

Whatever season you are in- know that His mercy is over all of His works. Try to see how the Lord wants to grow you in what you are going through- whether this season is a joyful one or a difficult one.

To impress this truth on His people, God says at the end of the same Psalm (145:17):

"The LORD is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More of the 4 of us...

We took lots of pics of us swinging Asher. I just knew that would bring out the best smile in our little man!

The Lord is so sweet...

I know it might sound silly to think that the Lord cares about family pictures but the Word does say over and over to pray about everything and that the Lord loves His children. To me, small things are what remind me of God's presence and faithfulness. I know the big things are great too- like God providing jobs, children, etc but I just love when I pray about something so small and seemingly insignificant to the rest of the world and God showers me with His sweetness. Our family pics were just that...

I had asked Sonny on Sunday if we could ask Bobby and Anna to come take pics of our family in the bluebonnets in Chapel Hill on Monday. Sonny said that would be fine and he would ask them if we could exchange our "Insanity" workout for family pics and dinner. Well, we went all the way to Chapel Hill and only saw a handful of bluebonnets! I guess they are already gone for the year! The amazing thing is that Sonny and I prayed in the car that the pics would turn out okay and that the Lord would let the kids do well taking the pics. The bluebonnets were gone, yes, but that led us to this amazing abandoned "town" where we got some AMAZING pictures. And Asher LOVED getting to be adventurous with Daddy and climb on all of the old buildings. I am just so thankful for this small time. On the way home I just kept thinking that God had everything in control. There really was no plan for bluebonnet pictures for the Howard family! Instead we got to stop at that little town that Sonny and I have always wanted to stop at but never had the time.

Anyways, the kids did great! Like I said, Ash loved the adventure and Zoee barely spit up! I even forgot to carry a burp rag with me and I still did not get any spit up on me. God was just so so so sweet to us. My mentor, Krystal Helbig, always taught me to see God in the small things- like garage sale finds and long runs with friends, and I will always be so thankful for her encouragement in my life. I mess up a lot but I do try to pray about even the small things and it is so encouraging to see that God is intricately involved in every part of our lives.

Hope these pics make you smile- they sure make me smile!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Zoee's Big Adventure...

Our Roley-Poley...

Wow. I do not even know where to begin- my heart has been through so much trauma in the last 10 hours. It's crazy how one event can replay in your mind... over and over... and over! Get ready for Zoee's crazy adventure!

Much of our family "free time" is spent with the Burke's and their growing family. We all get along so well and even though the kids sometimes seem to outnumber us, we are still able to keep everything under control and have a great time. Yesterday, though, Zoee through us all for a loop. Zoee is not yet crawling but she is rolling like crazy and she is a huge wiggle-worm. I will lay her down on the floor to play and if I step into another room for just a minute and come back- she has sometimes rolled a few feet away from the spot I left her in.

At the Burke's we usually end up staying pretty late- talking, playing games, eating, etc and Sonny and I will sometimes put the kids to bed there so we can get more time with the adults. Last night Asher was doing pretty well so we let him stay up but Zoee started to get sleepy around 8. Usually I will put her in a pack-n-play or on a pallet in either Kaitlyn or Kraig's room. The only thing that stinks is waking her up when we leave and trying to transfer her to her carseat without her getting really mad. So, last night I thought I would skip that step and just let her fall asleep in the carseat. I decided not to strap her in yet (I thought she would be more comfortable just resting in there and I would strap her in before we left to drive home). I did her usual bedtime routine- I swaddled her and wrapped her tightly in a blanket (she likes being nice and snug) gave her hugs and kisses and Kaitlyn put on her "rain" music. I set her in her carseat which was on the floor next to a pallet we made her (in case she was not able to fall asleep in the carseat, we would just put her on that). I left the room and listened at the door for a few minutes to see if she would fall asleep. Since she was quiet, I went down to hang with everyone else (this was about 8:30pm). All of us would take turns going up and listening at the door of the babies to make sure they were sleeping still (Kinley was sleeping in the room next to Zoee). We never heard even a small peep from Zoee. We actually do not even need to go upstairs to hear her because with her pipes she can be heard from downstairs WITHOUT a monitor (maybe we have a Martina McBride in our little family =) ).

About 10pm, we decided it was time to head home. We packed up everything and got Ash ready to go. All we needed was Zoee. I asked Sonny to go upstairs and get Zoee. I let him know that she was in her carseat in Kaitlyn's room. Sonny comes downstairs with Zoee's carseat and a weird, baffled look on his face. The carseat was empty. He thought we were playing a cruel joke on him. I thought he was playing a joke on us. We were all so confused. Who was the creator of this awful joke? Where was Zoee? "Sonny, are you joking? Where is she?" I said. "No, you guys are messing with me. Where did yall put her?" Sonny said. This went on for about 20 seconds before I realized that Sonny was NOT joking and Zoee really was GONE from her carseat. Sonny and I dashed up the stairs and I was in complete panic-adrenaline rush mode. I actually do not even remember going up the stairs- I am not sure my feet even hit the floor. We got to Kaitlyn's room and flew open the door. We looked around- no Zoee. There was a little pallet Kaitlyn and I had made her. It was empty. My heart sank. Sonny's heart sank. Where was she? Did someone manage to sneak in and take her without any of us noticing? It couldn't be possible. I fell to the floor in utter panic. The Sonny said- "Here she is!!" my first question in tearful panic was "Is she alive!?" Yes! She was fine! Even smiling as she always does when we wake her up!!

Our little rolling wiggle worm had managed to
1. Wiggle out of her swaddle
2. Escape from her carseat by wiggling
3. Roll about 3 1/2 feet until she was UNDER Kaitlyn's bed
4. Find Kaitlyn's MAC computer cord to hang on to while she slept under the bed very peacefully until we woke her up with our bursting into the room.

I broke down and cried when I saw Sonny holding our little joyful girl on his lap. She was smiling so much. All I remember was seeing her with Sonny- content and healthy- and I remember Kaitlyn kneeling behind me reassuring me that everything was okay. It was such an emotional rollercoaster of events. My entire body was shaking from fear, adrenaline and eventually joy. It took me a few minutes to regain my composure. Sonny handed our smiling little girl to me and I just hugged her and cried and thanked the Lord for His grace and protection.

Who thought a 5 month old was capable of all of that?

One final picture before you regain your composure from hearing this crazy event! Little Zoee and her great friend, Kinley Beller (the Burke's grand-daughter).