8 months

The last few posts have been about Riley, so I figured it was time to share an "ode" to the big 8-monther. She actually celebrated 8 months on Thursday, but due to circumstances out of my control (down internet, a 3-year-old with pinkeye and now congestion, a hard-working husband, etc.) I haven't had the chance to post until now.


I've learned several things about Ella over the past month. The first is she seems to love vehicles almost as much as her brother. She gets so excited when I hand her a toy with wheels on it! This makes her daddy happy, but I'm a little nervous we may really end up with a used car lot one day! :)

I've also learned that she LOVES swimming. Ok, really, her version of 'swimming' is sitting in her nice floaty while I (or another gracious soul) pushes her around the pool. But, she is so relaxed and loves splashing around. Just this past week I found out that she enjoys licking the water - gross! She wouldn't quit so I had to eventually take her out of the pool. But aren't these wrinkled feet just adorable?!

I don't have a picture of this next lesson learned, but just the other night we found out in a very clear way that Ella is NOT a fan of our dog, Mac. She hasn't spent a lot of time around him since she's become more aware of her surroundings. He used to be an inside dog, but that didn't work so well with a baby, so we relocated him to the backyard several months ago. Since then, Ella hasn't really been around him until the other night. We went to the playground at the church (basically in our backyard), and took Mac with us. Ella was sitting in her stroller, and when Mac came over and licked her foot she went ballistic! She screamed as if someone had chopped a finger off! After that, anytime he came near she would flip out. Guess she's gonna be like her mama in the not-liking-dogs area. :)

Sweet girl finally started sitting up on her own this past month! Yay! It actually began the week of July 4th while we were visiting family in Little Rock. Now she can sit up for a long time while playing on the floor, and when she does fall over she gets frustrated when she can't reach certain toys. I've been watching her legs and if she can get her arms to cooperate, I think crawling won't be too far in the future. I'm certainly not rushing anything - just making an observation. :)

Ella has become a much better baby food eater just in the last couple of weeks. FINALLY! She now eats 2 jars a day and has 5 bottles. I'm pretty sure at this point Riley was eating 2 jars 3 times a day. :) But hey, we are saving money with this little eater! Her favorite vegetable so far is squash and favorite fruit is pears. She's not a fan at all of sweet peas (I like peas, but the baby food version would gag me too!) and bananas don't make her too happy, either.

She is definitely working on some more teeth. Fingers and hands are in her mouth all the time! Sometimes she'll even grab my hand and stick one of my fingers in to gnaw on a little bit.

There's those 2 bottom teeth!

"I mean, how much longer will this photo shoot last? I've got more important things to do!"
Oh, how I love those facial expressions!

"Ok, I'm outta here!"

"Finally where I want to be!"

I'll close this 'ode' with a video of my two favorite kiddos. Technically, this was recorded last month while we were in New Orleans, but my mom asked for a video of Ella and this was a good one. :) Enjoy the cuteness!


Music Minister? Preacher?

It's no secret that Riley loves music. The poor boy didn't stand a chance when he was conceived in my body with Daniel as his daddy. We both love music, love to sing, and can minimally (I stress minimally!) play some instruments. I sang to Riley in the womb and Daniel sang hymns to him all the time when he was just days old. He has ALWAYS been around music!

Now pair that with his incredible ability to mimic our music minister, Lee, and you have a 3-year-old who thinks he's the one directing the choir on Wednesday nights. :) He started this months ago, but I always forgot to bring my camera on Wednesdays. I finally remembered last night, and boy did I get a great video! Some nights he's not too into the directing, but last night he was "on." See for yourself!

And then this morning as I was getting dressed, I overheard a little preacher in the house. He had found his Daddy's pocket Bible and was sharing a 'sermon.' I can't promise it's a very theologically or doctrinally sound sermon, but it sure is adorable!


Shutterfly Long Live Summer

I have mentioned before how much I love Shutterfly. Not only is the quality of their products wonderful, but they quite often have sales and discounts that make it very possible to preserve your memories for many years to come.

Currently, Shutterfly is running their Long Live Summer Photo Contest which launched on Facebook on July 9th and runs for 5 weeks (this is the 3rd week). Each week has a theme, and all you have to do is send them one of your photos that you believe fits within that theme. Not only will you be entered to win a trip for four to the Bahamas (which includes a professional photo shoot!), but they'll also give you a prize just for entering! I sent in a photo last week and received 100 FREE 4x6's! Love it!

Here are the photo themes and prizes so you can prepare and be sure to send in your entries each week!

•       Week 1(7/9): Americana
•       Week 2 (7/16): Great Outdoors
•       Week 3 (7/23): Water Fun
•       Week 4 (7/30): Sports & Activities
•       Week 5 (8/6): Parties & Celebrations
       Instant win prizes just for submitting a photo!
       Weekly prizes (contestants can enter one time/week)
       Weekly featured photos: up to 5 weekly entries will be selected from the gallery and featured on the Facebook fan page.
       Grand prize: trip for 4 to Bahamas, 4 nights, family photo shoot

Who wants to go to the Bahamas??? I DO!!!!


Ode to Riley

Riley climbed in my lap this afternoon and said, "Mama, hold me!" I know the days of this happening will come to an end all too soon, so you better believe I grabbed all 35+ pounds of my 3-year-old and cradled him like a newborn. I then started telling him what I used to do when he was a newborn - rocking him, shushing him when he was crying, singing to him, etc. And then I began to sing to him. A couple of times I didn't know if I was going to be able to finish the song as those big greenish (sometimes blue) eyes stared up at me. I couldn't help but go back to the days when he was so tiny and so new to our family. And then I became even more emotional when I got to the song I used to sing to him every night while he was in the womb. Whew! Thankfully, as soon as I finished that song he jumped up and started running around again. Otherwise, I may have been a complete basket-case on the floor of our living room!

It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that Riley has been ours for 1100 days now! He entered the world at such a tiny 6.1 lbs.

It certainly didn't take him long to begin packing on the pounds, and by his 1st birthday he had the most squeezable little chunky legs!

By his 2nd birthday, he was leaving the baby stage and walking straight into the little boy stage. Loving all things trucks, tractors, cars, etc - basically anything his daddy loved! :)


And now, even though he's only 3, I definitely think there are days when his little brain thinks he's 13! We are daily (sometimes hourly) amazed at what comes out of that mouth! His vocabulary is massive - we can say a word one time and it's planted in his head! He observes ALL and does not miss a thing!

    What a fun boy you are! You keep us all laughing. In fact, when no one else can get your sister to stop crying, you can! All you have to do is walk into a room and her little face lights up. Thank you for being such a good big brother to Ella! One of your favorite things to do right now is run in her room after her morning nap, crawl into her crib with her, and "cuddle" (as you say). I can tell she loves every minute of it. You, also, love to "pet" her. This is when you gently rub her curly head and usually say over and over, "Oh Elwa!" (you have a little trouble saying L's).
   You may be very gentle and caring with your sister, but you are definitely all boy! You love to play outside - especially riding your bike or throwing a baseball. Speaking of baseball...you are a big fan of baseball and football. I'm curious to see if you'll play either one day. Neither your father nor I have much athletic ability, so I'm excited to see what your future holds as far as sports. :)
   I'm pretty sure your Daddy could ask you to go jump off a bridge with him and you'd say yes. You love spending time with your Daddy, no matter what it may involve. I love that you love him so much! You can also be a Mama's boy at times, too, though! It made my heart smile the other night when you looked at me and said, "Mama, I love you so much. Will you put me to bed tonight?" (your daddy normally puts you to bed)
   You are an amazing eater! There are very few foods that you refuse to eat. You love all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I never have to worry when fixing meals if you're going to eat what we eat. I'm really praying your sister follows in your footsteps in this area!
   You are still an awesome sleeper! You go to bed around 8 pm and usually wake up between 7:30 and 8 am. You then go down for a nap at 1:30 and I have to wake you up at 4! I think that's one reason you're such a sweet boy - you're well-rested! Don't get me wrong - you have your moments when your sin nature comes out in full force, but for the most part, you are an incredibly well-behaved little man.
   You are very kind, compassionate, caring, cautious, concerned about others and most of the time obedient. You love Jesus and enjoy hearing Bible stories. It's completely normal to you to live right behind your church and walk there whenever you want (that's all you've ever known!). The other day when Ya Ya was visiting, you took her to the church to show her some of the remodeling. After you were finished giving her a tour, you both went into the sanctuary where you began "preaching." She told me you began the service with prayer and then immediately jumped into your 'sermon.' You told the people that Jesus was life and they all needed Him. You also told them it was good to be in church and that everyone needed to go to church. Wow, Riley! How I pray you follow these truths as you continue growing up. Jesus IS life, and you DO need Him! Your Daddy and I pray all the time that you will choose to follow Him and serve Him all the days of your life! We pray that He will be glorified through you! The verses I have claimed for you since birth...
Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
     unite my heart to fear your name. 
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:11-12

You are SO loved, Riley Bo! Don't ever forget that!

With ALL my heart,


Birthday weekend

****Disclaimer: this is a very long post! It was mostly written for family members who are far away and couldn't be here for Riley's birthday, and for me to have this all documented for future reference. You're welcome to continue reading, but don't blame me if you get bored...I warned you! :)

Whew. I'm exhausted! It's Sunday afternoon, and I am thankful to be sitting on my couch with my feet propped up, both babies napping, and all I hear is the sound of the air conditioner.

What a wonderful weekend of celebrating our sweet boy, though! I still can't believe he's 3. We've been talking about his turning 3 for several weeks now, so when Friday finally came and we went in to see him when he first woke up, he couldn't stop saying, "I'm 3 now! Mama, I'm 3! Daddy, I'm 3!"

And then he looked at me and said, "And after I'm 3, then I'll turn 4! Mama, am I 4 yet?" Woah, trigger! Slow down and enjoy a year of being 3 first! Time is already flying by, we don't need it to go any faster!

The night before his birthday, Daniel and I decorated the kitchen with a banner, balloons, streamers and a birthday table cloth. I bought one special helium balloon and tied it to his chair.

When he came in the kitchen, his presents were waiting on him, and he immediately went to his chair and asked to hold the balloon. For the next 10-15 minutes, that was his focus. He had the best time playing with the balloon, and really could have cared less about the presents. I kept thinking, what a lesson to be learned from a small child! It's the little things in life.

While he was playing with his balloon, cinnamon rolls were baking in the oven. I normally fix him blueberry muffins for his birthday, but Daniel suggested we try this new recipe I found in a magazine. They turned out okay (Riley loved them!), but I'll definitely be tweaking the recipe a bit if I make them again.

We finally convinced Riley to open his presents, and he was so precious as he opened each one. My brother, sis-in-law, and nephew sent him two new Hermie the Caterpillar DVD's. We owned two, and he loved them both, so I asked Jill to look for some more. I guess Riley didn't realize there were more than two in the world because when he opened the gift he looked up at us and said, "Well, I'm shocked!" LOL!

Ella is very advanced for her age :), so she made him a card. I was holding her while he opened the card, and he kept looking over at her saying, "Thank you, Ella!" It was so sweet! She also gave him a Sesame Street shapes and colors book that he can write in with a dry erase marker.

We gave him some building blocks, which he was excited about because he loves to play with the ones in the church nursery.

And then it was time to open Grandma and Grandpa's gift. I had no clue what it was, but I knew it involved cars and trucks, so I was sure he would like it.

Oh yeah, they hit the nail on the head! He loved it!


He immediately got to work with it.

It took some more convincing, but by 9 am we helped him decide it was time to eat breakfast. :) As is our tradition, we put candles in his breakfast and he blew them out (well, really the ceiling fan blew them out the first time, but he did a great job of blowing them out once we re-lit them).

The rest of the morning was filled with playing and running some errands. During lunch, Daniel and I worked on the birthday cake (another post in and of itself!). Riley then napped while Ella helped me finish getting the house ready for Daniel's mom and grandmother. When he woke up, Ya Ya and GiGi arrived with some more presents!

When Daddy got home from work, we loaded up and headed out for a picnic and swimming. We had so much fun together, and Riley had a blast in the pool! Ella is quite the little water baby, too! Of course, who wouldn't love just hanging out in a floaty being pushed around a pool?!

You think he was a little excited?!

She loves that thumb!

Sweet little wrinkled feet

One of those priceless pics you couldn't have planned if you tried

We all went home and crashed that night after Day 1 of celebrating Riley. 

The next morning, Daniel's dad arrived to spend the day with us, and he, too, brought some fun surprises for the birthday boy. Riley is really into sports right now - football, baseball, basketball - pretty much anything involving a ball. So, Daniel's dad brought him a Riley-size baseball bat and an awesome glove that has velcro in it so when he's catching the ball that came with it, it will stick to the glove. Needless to say, Riley was SO excited!

Time to play a little baseball!

When it's 100 degrees outside, you have to settle for playing catch in the living room

We all enjoyed a yummy lunch together, and then it was finally CAKE TIME! Riley had been hearing about and seeing his cake for 2 days, so he was ready to tear into it!

He chose the red car with haystacks (shredded wheat) on it.

I think he enjoyed it!

After a much-needed nap, it was time for his final birthday surprise. As you can tell from the cake, Riley loves trains. He loves to watch Thomas the Train on Saturday mornings, he loves seeing all of the trains that come through our town on a daily basis, he loves playing with his wooden train set...the boy just loves trains. So, when I heard there was a train ride in Jefferson, TX (about 30 min from us), I knew that had to be included in his birthday celebration. We loaded up in the car, but didn't tell him where we were going. When we drove up and saw the train waiting at the depot, he was so excited! He couldn't wait to get on and ride!

You know we all love this boy when we're willing to ride an open-air train in 100 degree weather!

His pure enjoyment made every single drop of sweat worth it!

Sister was such a trooper! She is very hot natured like her Mama, so she was sweating within minutes of sitting down on the train. She never once cried, though. She just enjoyed the scenery...

...and then went to sleep!

After the train ride, we went to an AIR-CONDITIONED restaurant and enjoyed delicious bar-b-que! And that was the completion of our 2-day, fun-filled celebration of Riley's 3 years of life! How grateful we are for such a smart, caring, hilarious little man. We love you, Riley, and we enjoyed making memories with you this weekend!