Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best. Advice. Ever

After Camille was born I had more people than I can count ask me, "How do you handle a baby and two active little girls."  My stock answer was always, "I just take it one moment at a time."  This says what I was trying to convey much more beautifully than my words did.

Just do the next thing.

Pick up the dishes.  Type the email.  Read the book, Give the bath.  Pick up the sock. Chop the onion.  Pour the goldfish.  Kiss the head.  Tie the shoe.  Review the contract.  Make the lunch.

It is so true that for any of us -- no matter our lot in life -- the entirety of a day or week or hour even can be far too daunting.  The next thing, though, just might be possible.  

(via Ann Voskamp)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Things They Say

Caroline and Charlotte say things on a regular basis that totally crack me up.  I don't know whether anyone else would laugh, but they more than entertain me.  A couple of recent examples for you:

I was putting Charlotte to bed a few nights ago and while I was rubbing her back for a few moments, she grabbed my hand and looked at me and said, "Mama, we need to find a new park."  I replied, "Why Charlotte?"  She said, "We need find a candy park and a purple park."

I really had to keep my laughter in until I left her room.  I suppose to her 2 1/2 year old mind, the only thing better than a regular park would be a park made of candy and a park completely decked out in your favorite color.

And if you are on Facebook, you probably read this one, but the other night Charlotte came up to me and said, "Mama, you is my best friend, right?"  I was so touched that I quickly replied, "Oh Charlotte!  You are my best friend too!"  Her face lit up and she said, "I not to go bed soon now, okay?"  

Well played Charlotte.  



Today when we were driving home from school and work, Caroline asked me what the word "jealous" means.  I tried explaining it the best I could by saying that it means that you want something that someone else has.  She said, "Oh, of course, like I am jealous of fairies because of the portals!"  I wasn't sure what to say to that, so I just said, "Well, I suppose that's right, but can you tell me more about what you mean?"  She said, "Well, you know how fairies have portals in certain secret places to get to the fairy places?  Well, I want to find those.  Can we find one?  Oh!  Or . . . WE could make one!"

And yesterday afternoon when Caroline was eating an orange, she spit out a seed and was horrified.  She said, "Uhh!  A nut!  What is a nut doing in my orange!"

I'm sure I've said it at least five million times, but I love these girls.  They make my day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sisters






Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Dinner

A couple of days ago our evening got a little crazy and I didn't have much time to cook dinner.  I opened the fridge, hoping and praying that something would magically appear that I could put on the table for my family.  

It didn't.  

But I did find a can of refrigerated crescent rolls.  So I decided to put together some crescent roll sandwiches and they were actually good!  I just unrolled the crescent rolls, separated them, and rolled each one up with a piece of turkey and swiss cheese, baked them for about 11 or 12 minutes, and served them to the girls with apples (or in Camille's case, applesauce).  

When there is a non-tested dinner that makes all three of my girls happy, it is a major success in my book, so I thought I'd share this simple quick dinner!  



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And now you're one . . .




Dear Camille,

Tonight I rocked you before bedtime for old times' sake.  For me mostly of course.  You will be one tomorrow and part of me had to hold on to eleven months for a few extra minutes tonight.  I know nothing magical happens tonight at midnight (or I suppose technically at 2:15 pm tomorrow, August 23rd), but I'm having a tough time saying goodbye to the first year of life with you and hello to the beginning of the second.  The joy that your first year has brought me, your Papa, your sisters, and the rest of your family is without limit.  You are hands down the most content baby I have known.  You move seamlessly into new situations, you are trusting of new people, you take life in stride.  I suppose being the youngest of three girls will do that to you, but I have a suspicion that you would have had that easy demeanor regardless of your birth order.



Your laugh is music.  You smile with your whole self; your eyes light up, your hands go up in the air, your body moves, and of course your six-and-a-half tooth mouth grins wide.  You haven't met a food that you don't like.  Except for baby food.  You exhibit the same independence with eating that Caroline did and will only allow another to feed you if it is absolutely necessary.  If it is possible in any way for your to feed yourself, you will find a way.

You are crawling around like crazy; your little hands and knees take you places quickly.  And we have to watch what we leave on the ground, because the inquisitive one that you are, you miss nothing.  If it's in your line of sight, you will find it.  And eat it.  You love paper.  No magazine is safe in your presence.  Our magazine rack is a magnet for you and we have the torn and crumpled pages to prove it.


Caroline and Charlotte light up your life.  You love them in a way that is impossible to describe in words.  While for the most part you trend on the serious side, one silly look or smile or laugh from your sisters, and you are in stitches.  No one can make you laugh like they do.  And you bring out the best in them.  They cater to you and help me with you in ways big and small.  Of course, they have their moments, and sometimes their "helping" looks more like hurting to Mama and Papa.  We're always there to intervene though, and I know the three of you are building a history each day you are together.  Nothing makes me happier than to see the three of you together.


You love walks in the stroller, but the wagon is your favorite.  You are great about riding in the car.  You enjoy watching at the park more than swinging.  You love the pool.  And your bath.  You can play until the water is too cold for your own good.



You love music.  YOU LOVE MUSIC.  Your body moves with the rhythm of any song that comes on, but you especially love to listen to your Papa play his guitar.  You've kind of become a bit of a Daddy's Girl lately, which makes me smile.  If you see him, you put your arms out and this morning you even said, "Pa Pa" for the first time.  If he pulls out his guitar and walks to the other room, you whine to go join him.

You love me well.  Each night when I put you to bed, all I have to do is put your blanky on my shoulder and put your pacifier in your mouth and you lay your sweet head on my shoulder and close your eyes.  I often close my own eyes trying to snap a mental picture of that moment.  Holding you in the dark of your room next to your crib, your sweet-smelling head under my chin, soft baby breath on my neck.  It is heaven.

Sweet girl, you are a gift and I am thankful beyond words to the One who has entrusted you to us.  I pray to be a good steward of your precious life and heart.

Love,
Mama

Monday, August 22, 2011

Draw

The only thing that enabled me to move from the place of being debilitated by losing a baby to being able to function in a semi-coherent way was relying on the Grace of God.  


That's so true even with all of the seemingly smaller things in life too though, isn't it?  At least it is for me.  The kids are sick?  Something new at work that I know nothing about?  Feeling overwhelmed by all a day holds?  A fight with a friend?  A new hurdle for one of my kids?


"Father, I choose to draw on your Grace in this moment.  I am at the end of myself. You are able." 

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nashville

A couple of weeks ago Camille and I got on a plane in New Orleans and made the hour and half flight to Nashville to visit our good friends Allison, Jeremy, and Cooper Bussell.  We had a great time.  Camille was a good travel companion; she did relatively well on the flight there (and I won't hold the flight home against her) and generally kept to her easy-going ways while we were away from home.

It was Allison's first time to meet Camille and my first time to see their new house.  We did a lot of just spending time together, talking, laughing, asking and receiving advice on just about everything, drinking coffee, and enjoying our kids.

Cooper was a fantastic stand-in sibling for Camille while she was away from her sisters.  It really makes my heart happy to see my kids loving and being loved by my friends and their children.  There is something so joyful about looking at where relationships started and how far they've come in time.  I am truly so thankful for Allison and Jeremy, words don't do my feelings justice.  I treasure their friendship and as I have to say every time we spend time together, I just wished we lived closer to one another.

As always, I failed to get pictures of the grown-ups together, but I did manage to take a few of Camille and Cooper.






We love y'all so much Allison, Jeremy, and Cooper!  Thanks for a wonderful trip.

Hilarity

I know I've said it before, but Camille is the most content baby I know.  She trends on the side of being a serious baby, but she loves to laugh.  And her belly laugh is music to my ears.  

video

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Campus

We went over to LSU on Sunday evening to let the girls run around and ride bikes.  We tried to visit Mike the Tiger, but he was busy protesting the heat by sleeping in the bushes.  It was a nice change of pace from a walk in the neighborhood in the evening and students aren't back yet, so it was pretty quiet and more importantly, traffic-less.  Here are a few pictures from our little outing:






Monday, August 15, 2011

redeemed

In the midst of it all, you live moment to moment, wondering how the rest of the world can just go on like everything is normal.  Things that once mattered become trivial; things that once were peripheral become central.

Finally, as the days go on, you find yourself moving forward.  Putting one foot in front of the other becomes doable and if you are anything like me, you begin to recognize your need to make sense of it all.  Surely this has deeper meaning, deeper impact, all of this labor and heartache must have something deeper for my life?  Right?   We want our pain, work, trial to be something more.  To mean something more.  To be bigger than my experience of it. And perhaps to even boldly hope it might bear some fruit.

The promise of redemption speaks to that desire.  Redemption says: "There is healing.  There is hope.  This was not all in vain."

To buy back, to repurchase is what the dictionary will tell you redemption means.  What struck me most when I first read that definition is that means that I have to let go of my grief -- loosen my hold.  Something can't be bought back from me if I insist on holding onto it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that you have to "get over it"; the offensive phrase that is often said (or implied) with disdain when your grieving doesn't fit into another's preconceived notion of what is appropriate.  The best distinction for me is this:  I have to move forward, not move on.  Walk forward and accept that my lens is changed, my world is different now.

The hardship might be a lost relationship, a loss of a job, financial problems, an illness for you or your child, a strained relationship, the loss of a parent, the loss of a child.  We've all known difficulty in on way or another, you can fill in the blank with your own hardship.  Though the experiences and the people going through them are wildly different, the thread between them is constant: a longing for the pain to not be vain.

As I read through Isaiah in the Bible, chapter 35 has drawn me back again and again over the past several weeks.  It is a picture of coming redemption.  It offers promise that those seemingly dry, deserted places will not remain that way.  Verses 6-7 say:

Water will gush forth in the wilderness 
   and streams in the desert. 
The burning sand will become a pool, 
   the thirsty ground bubbling springs. 

For me, one of the most striking things about this truth is that not only does the life return to you when you allow redemption to do its work in you, but that your redemption can be life-giving to others.  The pool is filled, but it isn't filled just for itself.  It is filled to give water to others.  There is healing beyond measure when your pain can speak to another;  "[t]he way through the pain is to reach out to others in theirs."  (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts. p. 199).   

So today, I'm praying for my own places of death can see life again, and I even will boldly pray that those places might give some measure of hope and healing to another.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tiny Desk Concerts

I've become a big fan of the Tiny Desk Concerts on NPR.  And just for fun, here are a few of my favorites:
update:  if you are reading this on Google Reader or another feed, you'll have to click over to read the original post to see the embedded player for each musician.  

Adele. Her voice speaks for itself. There's not a song on "21" that I don't like and the three songs she sings here are fab.


Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. You have to watch them. Until you can't look anymore. Seriously, I love the music, but I'm mystified about the love-in-song-festival-ness going on.
(the video for this one won't embed, but you can click here to jump to the NPR page)


Abigail Washburn. The banjo has a special place in my heart after living in Tennessee and she plays it -- and sings -- beautifully.


The Civil Wars. I hadn't seen them actually perform before this and it makes me like them even more than I did when I only heard them sing before.



These are just a few of my most favs. I could add several more to the mix, but seriously, you probably don't want to see a list of twenty TDC videos on this blog that is primarily about my children.

So, if you're interested here's the link to the Tiny Desk Concerts page where you can find, or discover, some of your own favorites.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Day!

Caroline started first grade today!

It was a great day.  She loves her teacher and being back in school.  It probably didn't hurt that she was the girl who brought cupcakes on the first day of school.  That's one sure way to endear yourself to other six year olds:  bring sugar for the class.

Jeff and I dropped her off this morning and she wasn't nervous or anxious at all, just really excited about a new class, new kids, a new teacher, and lots of learning ahead.  When I brought the cupcakes and stayed around the classroom until school was over, she was so happy to show me her classroom and tell me about all that they did today.  She was most impressed with "the big kid playground" where she saw all of her friends from last year.

Even though it was her birthday, we made sure she went off to bed as close to her normal bedtime as possible to get geared up to do it all over again tomorrow!

Sans cupcakes of course.

Here are a few pictures from our 6 year old's first day:





Six

Dear Caroline,

You entered the world weighing not quite seven pounds, but the weight of your life is immeasurable.  You captured my heart before I even saw your precious face.  But each day that has passed the last six years, you've captured it a little more.  


You've always been older than your age.  At nine months, you seemed more like a two year old.  You have wisdom and maturity that your Papa and I can only credit as gifts from God.  





You have a love for life that is contagious, a smile that can wipe away the worst mood, a laugh that invites others into your joy.  You love to play. 

















You have energy, determination, and an adventurous spirit that is willing to try new things with a humble confidence that I've seen in few other people.  





















You are smart and love to learn.  When I asked you what you were most excited about as you start the first grade tomorrow, you said, "Fast math!"  I am in awe of your talents and gifts and the way you can move seamlessly from playing with Barbies to working math problems for fun to dancing and singing your heart out.

You love to be outside.  Especially with your Papa.  Y'all are buddies who can always something to explore.




















You are a fantastic older sister.  Charlotte and Camille are so blessed to have you.  Charlotte especially looks up to you so much, imitating everything you do.  You exhibit tremendous patience and restratint letting her play with you.  You are always my helper with your two sisters and I get compliments all the time about how much you give of yourself to them.  And to me and your Papa.




















You are beautiful inside and out.  You see beauty in others.  We were talking about a movie a week or so ago and you asked my why one of the characters was sad; I told you that she didnt' think she was special.  Without missing a beat, you exclaimed, "Of course she is special!  She is beautiful!  And mostly she is beautiful inside.  She needs to know that 'man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'"  You teach me lessons like that all time.  You are kind and caring.  You are generous and love to serve others.














You have a love for drama, dance, and music that I pray we can continue to cultivate in you.  You love to dress up and have imparted that love to Charlotte.  One of the funniest activities y'all do together is to dress up and create mini-plays as princesses or super-heroes or cheerleaders.  The joy on your face when you are doing the things you love makes me happier than words can express.








































Put simply sweet girl, you are the best.  I am so thankful to God that He allowed me to be your mother.  I pray every single day that He would give me and your Papa the grace to parent you well.  To love you fully and to help you become more of who He created you to be.  I had no idea the kind of love you'd give to me and the ways that you would mold me and teach me when I first kissed your face six years ago.  You are a gift.

Love,
Mama

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Cream Cheese Incident

I was in Nashville for several days and Jeff braved it alone in Baton Rouge with Caroline and Charlotte (Camille came with me). They had sandwiches from a bagel shop for lunch one day and Charlotte apparently took a real liking to the cream cheese dip that came with the bagel chips. Jeff said it was too funny to get angry and had this photographic evidence of her shenanigans waiting for me when I returned home.

I love this girl.


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