Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life with Lana today (7 years old)

Profile of a 7 year old Lana
54 pounds (66th percentile), 50.25 inches tall (82nd percentile)
  • Interests: biographies, art, science
  • Enjoys: snuggling with Pepper, reading, playing with friends, having a family movie day   
  • Turn Offs: naps, people talking to her while she's reading, Barney (she says)
  • Vices: withdraws when she is upset or scared; easily frustrated when she can't do something; leaves lights on in every room of the house; doesn't use "ma'am" and "sir" consistently, no matter how often we remind her; is a total packrat
  • Strengths: kind to others, compassionate to those in need, strong reader, quick learner, eager to please, determined to completing things, good listener, quick to forgive, has a genuine love for life, eager to help, very independent

Favorites of my 7 year old:
  • Foods: mama's homemade bread, broccoli, apples, chicken noodle soup, daddy's white bbq chicken, vegetables, and pie
  • Movie: Rise of the Guardians
  • Shows: Hercules, Littlest Pet Shop
  • Books: junior classics - her current favorites are Robinson Crusoe, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist
  • Toys: Barbies, stuffed animals, trampoline, magnets
  • Activities: drawing, making things, climbing, swimming, reading

  • Physical: She is working on mastering riding a bike without training wheels.  Gross motor development has always come a little slower to her, but she is determined to get it.  Our neighborhood roads aren't very smooth, so we have to be mindful to take her somewhere to practice.
  • Spiritual: She is absorbing more of the gospel everyday, and has a sweet childlike faith.  She asks lots of questions about spiritual things.  She's heard the term "ask Jesus into your heart" at church and is very curious about what that means and how to do that.
  • Emotional: She is not dramatic at all, generally very calm and even-keel.  She is flexible and deals with change very well, as long as she's not overtired.  If she is overtired, all bets are off and she's super emotional.  It's always a clear indicator that she needs some time to rest.
  • Educational: She is very bright, and masters most concepts easily.  Her strength is literacy, and she is reading on approximately a 6th grade level right now.  She is in the process of being tested for gifted, and although I don't think she is a genius, I do think she is exceptionally smart and self-motivated, and that is good news for any learner.  
  • Character: She has a clear sense of right and wrong, and tends more these days to not let others persuade her to do things that are foolish.    

Treasuring details of my 7 year old:
Lana is utterly adored by her brother, and she has earned that adoration in every way.  Dan & I talk all the time about how he has no idea how good she is to him.  She takes time to read to him, play with him, (usually) includes him in whatever she is doing, shares everything with him, and just is generally the best big sister I can imagine.  And because of that, he thinks the sun rises and sets on her.  This is "their song."

Another who adores Lana beyond words is our Pepper.  She goes and waits at Lana's door in the morning for her to wake up, and she knows she can't go on the carpet, so when Lana opens the door, she just lays down and waits for Lana to love on her.  And wherever we find Lana snuggled up with a book, we usually find Pepper, too.  They are great buddies, and it makes every bit of the work worth it:

One of the things I love most about Lana is the wide range of things she enjoys doing.  She is content to spend time alone in her room reading; enjoys being active and swimming, running, bike-riding; and has really become interested in art and creating things from her imagination.  She really has such a diverse array of interests, which makes her an interesting person, I think. :)

Very rarely will she nap anymore; only when she is extraordinarily tired.  I found her like this one afternoon - she had gone into her room and just fallen asleep with lights on and everything.  That's always a sign she is getting sick.

Lana is not afraid of anything!  Not high rollercoasters, not trying new things, not ziplining, and not critters.  Her first instinct when she saw this worm on the sidewalk after a big rain, and this frog hopping along in a shower, was to pick them up and check them out.  Love that!  Then she finds somewhere "safe" to let them go.

These big blue eyes and freckles sprinkled across her nose and sweet lips and wispy hair...she is a 7 year old beauty, and I wish I could freeze her in time.  This precious girl is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and we simply adore her.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

11 years.

July 27, 2002
Dauphin Island, Alabama

11 years ago today, those children in those pictures made promises to God and to each other that they could not even begin to comprehend or agree to.  They had no idea what they were promising.

And now, 4015 days later, they have somehow, by the grace of God, managed to keep those promises. 
 They have made 2 beautiful children and a beautiful life
and they have made mistakes and apologies
and dinners and messes and really hard choices.

And over the course of 11 years, 
those two children grew into two adults
who have learned that love is quite a bit less about romance
and quite a bit more about commitment.

And this girl has learned that the love of a real man
looks quite a bit less like jewelry and flowers and extravagant gestures
and quite a bit more like
bearing down with her while she labors in childbirth
and knowing just the things to do when the pain is too much
and taking the middle of the night shift with the screaming baby
because she's so exhausted she's sobbing
and laughing when the poop is all over him instead of in the diaper
and knowing just how to make them all giggle through the tears
and letting her warm her icicle feet between his warm legs
even when they're fighting
and spending his lunch break coming home to give her a break instead of eating
and always coming in the door at the end of the day
and answering the call even during the meeting because she called twice in a row and that's the signal
and unloading the dishwasher nearly every morning for 11 years
and putting the seat down
and being her personal GPS because she's hopeless with directions
and holding hair back while they throw-up - all of them - 
and doing baths and bed without complaint
so she can just go take a run
and choosing the eternal things,
like riding bikes and talking with neighbors,
over things like mowing the grass,
and loving the littles so wildly
that they burst into cheers and run to the door
every single time he comes in it
and choosing to stay in with her when he would rather go out
and being willing to say "can we try that conversation again?"
and making the best rotel dip for her when she's had a hard day
and not having anything new although they always do
and bringing sips of water in the middle of the night
and making the iced coffee just like she likes it
and believing in her even when she's scared to death
and giving back rubs without expecting anything in return
and scrubbing the house clean because he knows it will win her heart
and being the life of their party of four.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life....
John 15:13

Friday, July 26, 2013

Beachin' it.

It is a sweet kindness from the Lord that we live so close to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  After an emotionally draining week, the kids and I got up Thursday morning and cleaned the house.  They were champs - cleaning counters and toilets and tables with such joyful hearts.  They would finish one job and come running to find me to see what their next job was.  Tucker said "Mommy, I LOVE doing these jobs with you!"  So precious.

So after a quick lunch and nap, we spontaneously decided to throw on bathing suits and head south.  I forgot beach chairs and toys, we were in that much of a hurry.

Dan met us there after work, which sweetened the deal substantially.

These little butterfly clam things were everywhere in the sand today.  I spent hours as a child on Dauphin Island digging these up.  We had such a good time looking at all the different colors of their shells today.

The kids loved the big walls of sand today!  I think the absence of toys helped!
They spent hours climbing up and sliding down.
I remember doing this as a child, too.

Pure joy.

 It is the greatest gift of my life to be their mommy,
to hold hands in the waves and race along the sand and dig for shells and wipe the sand out of eyes and to do every bit of life with these two precious ones.

We washed off and headed home at dusk.
Time on the beach is good for the soul.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Uncle Allan and Aunt Ranae

My brother Allan and sister-in-love Ranae live over 12 hours away, in Fredericksburg, VA.
I adore them more than I even have words for, so to have them home for a visit makes me so happy, as you can see by my face in this picture.  
I would just like to multiply the length of this visit by 365 days or so, pleaseandthank you.

Allan & I with our mama

We got to spend the day today at my mom & stepdad's house.  Mom & Billy were gracious to host us all.  They cooked lots of food, and we got to spend the day with family, which is rare and treasured.  Here are some pictures of the fun.  You can click on any picture to enlarge.

My stepdad is a great cook - here is the list of food he cooked and we ate today - love it!

Allan & Dan got in the attic to get some things down for Mom, and dug up Allan's old baseball cards, and a gaming system that made Dan laugh a lot:

We had crawfish for lunch - love that my children enjoy them!
Oh yeah, that's my 6 year old sucking the heads:

Tucker was a big fan of the bacon wrapped grilled shrimp, too, as you can tell:

Thunderstorms loomed over us all day, but they did manage to sneak in a swim at one point.
You can seriously see in these pictures what a great aunt and uncle Allan & Ranae are:

and a few rounds of bocci ball

 My stepdad's ribs and bbq are so good, and that golden brown pan on you see there on the left is my meal of choice: Baloo's Broccoli Jalapeno Cornbread

Obviously it was a full day.

I could hardly hold back the tears as we were leaving.
One of the most amazing things about my brother and his wife are the way they love my kids.  They connect with Lana & Tucker in this really cool, genuine way; and while I am so proud of them for following the call of God on their life, I quite literally mourn their absence in our daily lives, particularly their daily influence on lives of my children.  
They are two that I would choose to pour in my little ones as they grow up, and I have to seriously meditate on God's sovereignty in both of our lives in order to get my head right about Allan & Ranae not living closer.

If you take the time to look at these next few pictures, you'll see what I mean.
As I was editing pictures for this blog post, I kept coming across these pictures of Ranae and Lana.  I didn't intentionally take a collection of the two of them - they were ones that we just happened to snap throughout the day.  But can't you just see the heart connection they have?  They haven't been together since December of last year, and yet....this....

Super special, don't you agree?
Ranae loves God wildly, and she loves my girl, too -
she takes the time to listen to her and connect with her in her own way,
and I could not be more thankful for that.
Lana adores Ranae, 
and I am praying already that God would use her to speak into Lana's life as she grows, that she will come alongside me as I guide Lana in the ways of Truth.  

Way to go, baby brother.  
When you chose Ranae, you heaped blessings on the rest of us, too.