#977 - Laughing

Funny Kiddos

I've posted before about how much Ella loves to wear things on her head. For most people this would mean hats, scarves, toboggans, etc. But for our little girl, the list also includes tights. Yes, that's right, Ella likes for us to put her tights on her head and then she moves around the house playing as if all is normal. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself.
Here she is today eating her afternoon snack.

A side view

When I started taking pictures brother had to be included. He walked over, put his arm around her, and said, "Look! This would be a good picture!" So, I clicked.

How thankful I am for the hilarious children God decided to give us. There's never a dull moment with these two!


For the Grands

Every now and then I post pictures or videos for the grandparents...this is one of those times.

This is a huge accomplishment for our 15-month-old!


15 months with this girl

Today I am thankful for the past 15 months our family has been able to enjoy this adorable, strong-willed (her picture is beside the word in the dictionary), affectionate, hilarious, looks-like-her-brother, still-not-walking, SWEET little lady. To say she's a blessing to our family is an understatement. I'm so thankful God knew we needed her. I am so excited to see how He's going to use her in the days to come.

We LOVE you, Ella Boo!



Swinging & Singing

It was a gorgeous day today so Ella and I spent some time on the back porch. I sang to her for a bit and then asked her to sing to me. After I enjoyed lots of her 'singing,' I ran in the house and grabbed the camera to record her sweet voice.


Worship Songs

Tonight the kids and I were driving home from our local mexican restaurant (think 3 blocks from our house). When we got in the car, "How He Loves" by the David Crowder Band was on. Riley said, "I like this song!" Me, too, buddy. Me, too! As I was pulling into the driveway, this came on...
Riley said, "This sounds pretty!" when the piano music started. I asked if he wanted to sit in the car until the song was over. He said yes, so there we sat. About halfway through the first verse he said, "This makes me want to cry. Not a sad cry, but a happy cry."

And I was reminded of the verse, "but Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'" Matthew 19:14



A Little Bit Bigger Hand in Mine
(On January 31 I posted about baby girl's hands in mine)

The kids had a blast with Ya Ya last night and this morning! We headed home this afternoon, and by the time our car turned into the driveway, all 3 of us were more than ready to exit the vehicle and enter our beloved home. Both kiddos were starving when we walked in, so I fixed their dinner and unpacked the car while they ate. As I was moving busily around the kitchen, Riley started whining (oh the joys of the 3-year-old whine!) but wouldn't tell me what was wrong. I assumed it was just because he was so tired. A few minutes later he had to go to the bathroom, and as I was helping him finish up, he said, "Mama, will you please sit beside me while I eat and hold my hand?" This wasn't a normal request from my son, so I said, "Why?" His response: "Because I just need you! I need you to hold my hand!"

You better believe I hoisted myself up on that stool right beside my sweet boy and held his hand while he finished dinner. 

How often do I get so busy with what I think is important at the moment that I miss out on opportunities like this to be "needed" by my children? Sometimes a boy just needs his mama, and I don't want to overlook that because I'm trying to accomplish a certain amount of tasks in a given time period. And I want my children to learn at an early age that I (and their Daddy) will always be available to hold a hand, rub a back, listen to a story, play with hot wheels (or baby dolls), or simply just be - whatever they might need at the moment.

Thank you, Lord, for this great reminder tonight of how much our children need us, but also such a beautiful picture of how available YOU are when we, Your children, need You!




Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.
Psalm 104:1-4

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'
Revelation 1:7-8


Time alone

I am an introvert. This means that I really need time alone. Having two small children, I don't get a whole lot of this, so when it does happen I try to seize every moment!

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic. One week Riley, Ella and I were all sick. One week Daniel worked a whole lot (well, more than he normally does), and then this past week, Daniel was sick. To say that I needed a break was an understatement. 

So, since Daniel was going to be out of town all day Saturday (tomorrow), I decided to load up the kids and head to Ya Ya's house for Friday & Saturday. Thursday night I text her and simply asked her to pray that I would get a good night's sleep (Ella's teething, again, so sleep this week has definitely been interrupted) and that I'd be patient because my fuse was very short. She said she'd pray and then about 30 minutes later sent me this text:
"I have a day after Valentine's Day gift for YOU! Pack your bag for a 1 night stay at a local hotel. You can check in any time you choose to do so tomorrow. SLEEP as late as you like on Saturday."

I began my time alone at 1:30 this afternoon by shopping (not only alone, but without any time constraints!) at Kohl's & Target. I then checked into the hotel and spent some time in the Word. If you haven't read Galatians lately, do it! Whew! Thank you, Jesus, for your AMAZING grace! I then made my way to Wal-Mart and Zaxby's for a delicious chicken salad. I am currently sitting on the bed in the hotel, watching Duck Dynasty and looking at a mostly eaten pint of Blue Bell Banana Pudding ice cream (if you haven't tried it, you are missing out!). 

Thank you, Lord, for my sweet and thoughtful mother-in-law, and thank you, Lord, for time alone!



Baking with my Boy
Riley has always loved to help in the kitchen. Last week a friend posted a link to some cookies I decided I needed to try. I mean, who can resist a name like I want to marry you cookies? So when Riley saw me pulling out ingredients yesterday morning, he naturally wanted to be involved in whatever was being created in the kitchen. 

The first step was to melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan. I moved a kitchen chair over to the stove so he could stand on it and watch the butter melt. I've never done anything like that before (putting a chair there for him, not melting the butter), so when he stood up on it he looked around and said, "Wow! Look how much I can see up here! I'm so high!" :) It's the little things, right? Anyway, he loved watching the butter melt and then he helped me stir in the sugars (brown and white) once the butter was completely melted.

Then it was time to head over to the counter where we added all of the other ingredients.

He felt the need to sniff :)
And these, of course, were our favorite ingredients to add...a little sampling of both the white and dark chocolate may have taken place...shh, don't tell daddy!

And about the name of the cookies. They are good cookies, I'll admit. However, I felt (and Daniel agreed) that the name may have set them up to be a little better than they are. They definitely aren't as easy as just plain old chocolate chip cookies, yet they taste very similar. I'd encourage you to try them if you're curious, and I'm thankful for the memories made with my favorite little boy, but I think we'll be sticking with our tried and true chocolate chip recipe from now on.


A Lady Named Leisa

Over two years ago, now, Daniel and I felt the Lord leading us toward adoption. As we began the process of trying to figure out which direction He'd have us go (international, domestic, which agency, etc.), we found out a couple of months into it that a precious baby was growing in my belly. The process was placed on hold.

Fast-forward about a year. Ella was 4-months old, and we felt strongly that it was time to begin the adoption process again. However, in the span of that year, we felt the Lord moving us toward a foster-to-adopt program. So, on May 12 of last year, we attended an informational meeting about becoming foster parents through the Texas CPS system. Also at the meeting were two private agencies who work with CPS and train parents to be "specialized foster parents." We decided (without really consulting the Lord) we should become "specialized" parents. I began filling out the stack of paperwork and then, when I became overwhelmed by it all, I put it to the side. And it sat to the 'side' for the next 6 months or so. I'm not proud of this at all, but I realized in that time that Daniel and I both needed to work through some things before moving forward. (And now looking back, I see that it wasn't the right agency, anyway)

The first weekend of this year, Daniel and I went on a 5th anniversary trip to Canton, TX. One of my goals for the trip was to finally finish filling out the paperwork. We both admitted we'd put the process on the back-burner and it was time to finish what we'd started. So, we spent a couple of hours Saturday morning filling it all out. And then later that week, I talked with a friend at Bible study who just recently adopted 2 children through the CPS foster-to-adopt program. She had also been a 'specialized foster parent' at one time, too. She suggested we not go through a private agency, but apply to be basic foster parents through CPS. You see, we don't want to disrupt the birth order of our children, so we're only willing to take a child younger than our youngest (who is currently 14 months). She said we were more likely to have a baby placed in our home if we went straight through CPS. So, without consulting the Lord (again!), we filled out the CPS application and mailed it in.

3 weeks went by and we had not heard a word from CPS. Daniel called this past Friday and we received a punch in the gut. We were pretty much told we weren't needed right now. The lady he spoke with said she already had plenty of families waiting for babies or young children, so she didn't need our family. She suggested we wait until Ella was 5 years old and then apply again. 

I felt like we were back at square one - only, it was two years later! I had no clue what to do. The rest of that night I called out to the Lord and asked Him to please show us how to proceed. Saturday afternoon I was playing around on the internet and looked up the CPS website. I looked at pictures of children who are waiting to be adopted. While I did this, I asked the Lord if we were being too strict about our parameters. Daniel and I both had expectations as to how the process would work and the age of the child we'd take into our home. Maybe we needed to throw those to the wind and allow the Lord to change our expectations. 

And then I saw a link to a website for an agency entitled Christian Homes & Family Services. The name caught my attention and they were listed as having an office in our area. I read through their website and loved what I saw. Including the fact that they have a foster-to-adopt program! I decided I'd call their office on Monday.

Before calling, I had my quiet time. I knew that at times during this process we'd sought the Lord, but there were definitely other moments where we took the bull by the horns and did what we wanted and thought was best. I'm tired of doing that! It only leads to dead ends! So, I prayed and asked the Lord if I should even call. I also told Him that if we were to foster/adopt children older than Ella (and even Riley), we'd do it if it was His plan. I didn't want our agenda to stand in the way any longer. After prayer and study, I felt like He was giving me the green light to call.

That's when I first talked with Leisa. She is in charge of the foster-to-adopt program for the Tyler area. I told her our story and she asked where we lived. She said they worked with families in a 70-mile radius of Tyler. I wasn't sure exactly how many miles we were from Tyler, so while she was on the phone I looked it up. We are 66 miles away. Just made the cut! I then explained to her how we felt very convicted that we shouldn't disrupt the birth order in our home. She responded with, "Laura, I would never place a child in your home that's older than your youngest. Our agency doesn't do that. We feel like it's not good for the children." And I felt God saying...you heard Me right! She then shared all of the basic requirements with me and allowed me to ask any questions I might have. We ended the conversation with her getting my email address so she could send us the pre-application. 

I felt so much peace while talking with her. Yes, this means even more paperwork to fill out, but because I feel as though we've finally found the right agency, I'm excited about filling it all out! Please pray for us as we continue down this road we started 2 years ago. Pray we'll be diligent in doing what we need to to become certified foster parents. Pray for that child (or children!) we'll get to care for in our home as we wait for the one God has for us to bring into his/her forever family. And praise God with me for speaking clearly and leading us to Christian Homes & Family Services!



Visits from Ya Ya

Ya Ya (Daniel's mom) lives a short 3 hours away in Little Rock. I say 'short' because before moving there a year ago, she lived in Clarksville, TN, a long 9 hours away! Now she (or we) just hop on I-30 and are at each others houses in no time. This weekend she was sweet enough to come down Friday morning so Daniel and I could have an extended date Friday afternoon and evening.
The kids had a blast playing with her outside. Unlike today, it was absolutely gorgeous yesterday!

They both LOVE to laugh!

 Clearing up a traffic jam

Ella was having trouble pushing herself around on the little bus, so Riley had the smart idea to get behind her and push her along. Such a sweet and thoughtful big brother!

I even got some video of it!

We're very thankful for Ya Ya and the time we can spend with her!



Miracle Baby

It may be a little difficult to tell what you're looking at, but this is the sweet head of my newest nephew.
"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him." 
1 Samuel 1:27

I realize that every baby is a miracle.
This little boy is extra special to our family, though. I'm pretty sure every single inch of his body has been prayed for (and then some)! You see, my sweet sis, Jill, (technically my sister-in-law, but we call each other 'sis' because our relationship is so much more than anything that's created by the law) and brother, Chad, walked through 2 miscarriages in a year's time. I've known people who have had miscarriages, but until that time, it had never affected my family. And both times they called to tell me, I cried. Not only because my heart was breaking for them, but also because I had lost a niece or nephew. The hope I still hold onto is that one day we will get to meet those precious babies. What a day that will be!

I remember the day Jill found out she was pregnant with this amazing gift. It was October 26, 2012. We were all in Florida on vacation. I got up early that morning with Ella (because when we're not at home she wakes up extra early!). Jill came out into the living room not too long after. She said she'd been up since 5 am. When I asked why she said, "Do you really want to know? I'm pregnant." After a little scream (the rest of the house was still sleeping) and some "oh my goodness," I knew we had to do one thing right then and there. We needed to pray! In the kitchen of a beach house in Ormond Beach, FL, my sis and I prayed for this child. As I imagine Hannah doing in 1 Samuel 1, we begged God to protect the baby and bring it into the world healthy and strong. But above all, we prayed for God to be glorified.

Today I give HIM all the glory for the health of this baby and for answering so many prayers already! Jill is due July 2nd, and I cannot wait to meet the one we have prayed for (and will continue to until he appears!). We love you so much, Chad, Jill, CJ and baby boy!

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness." Psalm 115:1



Spontaneous Photo Shoots

I love taking pictures. In fact, I've been told several times by my other half that I take a little too many pictures. I always respond with, "One day you'll be thankful!" :)
Sometimes I plan photo shoots with the kids (especially Ella's first year), but other times they just kind of present themselves. The latter is what happened today. The kids were sitting together on Riley's chair and I just had to take some pics! Enjoy our precious kiddos!

Sweet kisses

Curly top :)



Big Brothers

I have a big brother. He's about 4 1/2 years older than me and has always been very protective.
I can remember getting really annoyed with his protectiveness when I was little - you know, wanting to be Miss Independent. However, on more than one occasion his protective nature saved my life. For instance, the time in the McDonald's parking lot when I did not look both ways before crossing and if it weren't for him probably would have been hit by that car coming straight for me. Obviously, God knew I needed a big brother.

And I feel the same for Ella. Today as they were riding this fun motorcycle at the school playground, Riley looked at Ella and said, "It's okay, Ella. I'll take care of you!"

And I believe he meant it! Sure, they struggle with sharing toys (as all children their age do), and occasionally there's some obvious jealousy as to who sits closest to Mama or Daddy, but for the most part, Riley and Ella are b.f.f.'s. As I watched them play today, I couldn't help but pray that Ella's big brother will always want to protect and care for her - AND that she'll let him!



Hanging out with these 2
 In case you can't tell, Riley's 'talking' on the phone (attempting to hold it up to his ear with his shoulder like he sees Mama do sometimes) and Miss Priss is wearing one of her hats while playing. 

 She LOVES to have something on her head!

Daddy's been away two nights this week (Monday & tonight), and I'm so thankful to have these two to keep me entertained! I was even able to catch a video of Ella chatting.
(just ignore the 3-year-old in the background asking if I can "hear it" - him going to the bathroom - or if he should "flush it" lol!)