$9 swimming pool
On Mother's Day night, Daniel and I were able to go on a date. When you live in a small town, it's not a date without some sort of trip to Wal-Mart. So, between dinner and our movie, we stopped by Wal-Mart for a few things. One of those being the best investment we've made in a long time.
I pulled it out this past Thursday during Ella's morning nap, and you would have thought I'd shown Riley a million dollars. He just kept saying, "We have our own pool! Daddy's not going to believe this!" (never mind that Daddy was the one to pick it out!) Once I got it blown up, I handed the water hose over to little man and he went to work.
And then it was time to test it out!
The water was cold, but he didn't care! He had a blast!
And then when sister woke up, it was time for a pool mate! They were so cute to watch. He would splash her or pour water on her head, and she'd just laugh! I definitely think she's going to be our water-baby. Riley flips out if water gets in his eyes ("I need a dry towel!!!"), but Ella is totally fine with water just running down her face.
Oh, and she's not afraid to stand up in the pool either...Mama's not a huge fan of it, but that doesn't stop Miss Strong Will. :)
Miss Patriotic the day after Memorial Day (they swam on Memorial Day, too, but I didn't get any pictures).
Can you tell this is one of his favorite things to do at this point in his life??
This past Friday Riley had his first "pool party" with a friend. :) His friend, Jamie, from down the street came for a play date and they played in the pool for about 3 hours. As Riley said, his hands and feet were quite "spongy" when he got out.
It's not even June yet, and I can already tell we're going to get our money's worth (and then some!) out of this $9 pool! If you're a Mama of little ones and don't have something like this yet, GO RIGHT NOW and get one! You will never regret it! (except maybe the extra laundry it causes due to needing towels and bathing suits)
18 months & walking
Our internet has been spotty the past few days, so I'm a couple of days late posting about our big 1.5 year old!
How is it possible that this Little Lucy (one of my many nicknames for her - and no, I don't know where I came up with that one!) is this old? I know in the grand scheme of life, 18 months is a short time. But for this Mama, it's gone by all too quickly. My baby is growing and becoming a little girl.
Not only is her body growing, but so is her strong personality! We're beginning to experience little tantrums and fits when little miss doesn't get exactly what she was hoping for. Oh, the drama of girls! :)
She's also quite attached to her Mama. The picture below shows perfectly how Ella feels about being physically attached to me. I have tried really hard not to spoil her by holding her all of the time, but sometimes, a girl just needs her Mama. And I'm okay with that!
Just in the past couple of weeks her vocabulary has taken off! She's pretty much willing to try and say any word I ask her to. Some of them sound nothing like what I say, but a lot of them sound very similar. She loves the sounds made by "K," "P," and "S." She'll say pretty much any word with those letters in it. My favorites to hear right now are: "peas (please), thank you (her version), duck, book, water (she says it really well!), Riley, Daddy, Mama (she has mastered this one, for sure), baby, Pooh, and walk.
Speaking of walking, Ella Grace is now a walker! On her 17-month birthday she took her first steps, and on her 18-month birthday she walked all over the church. She still loses her balance at times and has to regroup, but she's doing really well! Every now and then I'll catch her trying to revert to scooting, and I'll say, "Ella, get up and walk! Don't scoot!" and she'll almost immediately stand up and start walking. We're so proud of her!
I'm thankful for the big plans I know the Lord has for this one. If she allows Him to (which I pray with all that's in me she does), I know He will use her strong personality and LOVING heart for His glory. We love you, Ella Boo!
I had never heard of Melanie Shankle or this book until I went to the dotMOM Conference this past February. Melanie was one of the Emcee's at the event, and just in the short time I heard her, I absolutely fell in love with her sarcasm! When she mentioned she'd recently written a book about motherhood, I knew I needed to read it. Since I'm addicted to my Kindle and don't really care to hold real books anymore (besides the Bible, of course!), I asked for this book (among others) for my birthday. Thank you, Mom and Dad! (and what's even better, my mom got this book for her kindle for FREE last week!)
I have a horrible habit of starting a book and then jumping ship about halfway through. And if you have a Kindle, you know how easy it is to do! I'm proud to say that I began Sparkly Green Earrings last week, and I finished it last night about 9:30. That should tell you how great it is! I laughed a TON (I got several looks from Daniel while reading in bed - it's mommy humor, babe, sorry!), teared up in some places, and thought many times, "I'm so glad I'm not the only one!"
So, today, I am thankful for Melanie Shankle and the fact that she followed her 4th grade dream of one day writing a book. I sure hope there are more to come in the future!
Whom Shall I Fear?
One of my new favorite songs is "Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin. When it comes on the radio in the car, I usually want to just pull over and worship right there. However, the two littles in the back may have a problem with that, so I worship as I continue driving down the road.
Yesterday in Daniel's sermon he mentioned this song because he referred to the Lord of Hosts, which means "Lord of the Almighty's Armies." In the song, Chris Tomlin calls Him the God of Angel Armies. Basically, it means the God of the Universe who commands the angel armies is ALWAYS by my side. How thankful I am for the comfort found in this promise! Whom shall I fear when I have Him fighting for me?!
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone...
"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."
Psalm 91:11-12, 14-16
Sleeping Until 7:30 am
At this point in my life, "sleeping in" for me is anything past 7 am. Sometimes I long for the days when I could sleep until 10 or 11 am! Maybe they will return again one day, but for now, I'm required to be an early riser.
Ella's pretty unpredictable regarding when she'll wake up each morning (she's always the first one awake). Sometimes it's 7, sometimes 6:30, or like this morning, it was 5:50. But, you know what was different about this morning? She woke up saying, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" I turned to Daniel and said, "She's calling you," thinking he'd just grunt and roll over. But, to my surprise, he jumped out of bed and went to get his daughter!
And then I got to sleep for another hour and a half until I heard little man waking up. How thankful I am today for an attentive husband who chooses to put himself aside and serve me in ways that may seem small to others, but mean the world to me!
Ella's Modes of Transportation
Our almost-18-month-old cracks me up. She's getting closer and closer to walking on her own, but we're just not quite there. Just in the past couple of days, though, she's been branching out and really trying to walk around without assistance. I finally got it on video tonight, and then she decided to add in several other forms of transportation she likes to use on occasion. Love her!
Being a Mommy
Today I am thankful for the miracle of birth. I'm not only thankful for these cuties, but I'm also thankful for the child the Lord has for us through the miracle of adoption. I have no clue where he/she is (if they've even been born yet), but I'm thankful that his/her mother chose LIFE! I can't wait to see how He continues to grow our family in the next few years. What a blessed job I have!
I am so thankful for my mom. She is (and has always been) one of my biggest fans. I learned what it means to love unconditionally from her. She also taught me the importance of being so in tune with the Lord that when your children come to you and say they're moving to Texas (from Florida) for college OR they're moving to South Africa for 2 years as a single lady, you don't completely freak out and lose control right in front of them. :) I was thinking about it last night, and I remembered that most of the major decisions I've made in my life, I've used my parents as a testing point - meaning, I would say to myself, "okay, if mom and dad don't flip out when I tell them what I think the Lord wants me to do next, then it's safe to say I should proceed." My mom always told me that when I was little she surrendered me to the Lord and asked Him to use me, so I knew when I was older that I could trust the Lord to speak to her heart in a similar way He was speaking to mine.
Mom, it is VERY safe for me to say that I would not be where I am today without you! I'm not just talking physically - thank you for carrying me for 9+ months and then not pulling all of your hair (or mine!) out as I grew into my strong-willed personality - but I also mean spiritually and emotionally. Thank you for truly giving me permission to fly and be the woman God created me to be. Thank you for always telling me how proud you are of me. Thank you for LOVING my children and husband. Thank you for putting up with me when I've been less-than-desirable to be around. :) As I've grown older, I've loved watching you grow in the Lord and step out of your comfort zone to serve Him. I'm thankful we can walk this spiritual journey together!
I love you very much
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Out of the mouths of babes...
Sunday morning Riley and I had this conversation over breakfast:
R: Mama, when am I going to be in charge of a lot of things? (classic strong-willed child question)
Me: When you get older and are a daddy. But, you should enjoy life right now because being in charge of things isn't always fun. It can be hard work!
R: No, I'm going to like being in charge.
Me: Mama & Daddy don't always know how to be in charge, and we have to let God teach us.
R: I won't need anyone to teach me. Nope, don't need any teaching! I'll just know what to do.
And right then and there I began praying for HUMILITY in my son! :)
Later that day he wanted me to come play with him in the living room while I was in the kitchen cleaning up. I heard him say, "I think the lady with the Razorback t-shirt on should come in the living room and play with the little boy!"
NEVER a dull moment with this child!
Obviously, the almost-4-year-old does most of the talking between the two kiddos, but Ella has definitely begun sharing words with us. Just for memories sake, I'll share them on here. Kristen, I know you're reading this because you're a great best friend, and I thank you for taking the time to read what words my almost-18-month-old can say. :)
duck (for some reason this was a favorite with Riley & Ella)
thank you (in Ella-ese)
please (also in Ella-ese)
cookie (said with great enthusiasm!)
riley (my heart melts every time I hear this one!)
daniel (said it for the first time tonight - hilarious!)
cracker (in Ella-ese)
clunk (it's from one of Riley's books)
crack (also from a book)
And that's all my tired, mommy brain can think of right now.
I'm thankful to hear the sound of both of my kiddos' voices. Sometimes I wish there was a mute button, but I keep reminding myself I will miss all of this one day (or so I'm told - just kidding! I know I'll miss it - even the whining - okay, maybe NOT the whining!). Praying for the day when their voices will be used to share His message around the world!
Hello, My Name Is...
Matthew West has a new song entitled, "Hello, My Name Is." I've heard it on the radio a lot lately, but it wasn't until the other day that I truly listened to the words. Wow! So often we believe the lies of the enemy - names like: loser, defeated, a mistake, rejected, ugly, insufficient, alone, etc. Yet, the second we allow Jesus to be the Lord of our life, our names are changed! How many believers (including myself, sometimes) still fall into the traps of the evil one, though, and believe the horrible words he tries to cast on us?
It's time to STOP!
As children of the KING, we need to STAND FIRM and BELIEVE we are who HE says we are!
*I have no clue who these people are (a youth group somewhere), but I saw this on youtube and loved the visual it provided throughout the song!
Community Bible Study
Today (and every day, really) I am thankful for Community Bible Study. I was introduced to this incredible Bible study family 3 years ago when we moved to Hughes Springs, and I am SO thankful! The closest CBS to us meets in Mt. Pleasant, so every Thursday morning we load up the car at 8:45 and drive 35 minutes to the church where we meet. Not only do I love CBS, but the kiddos do, too! They are both in age-appropriate classes that actually follow a curriculum, rather than just babysitting them. They learn memory verses, hear Bible stories, sing songs, do crafts, and of course, play, play, and play some more! The teachers begin teaching reverence for the Bible at as young as 12-months. Ella already knows to pat the Bible (that's how they teach them how special it is), and the other day she found Riley's Bible in the living room and on her own began patting it. That brought tears to my eyes!
Today was our last day of study for the year. Next Thursday I'll go to an adult's only "Share Day," in which we'll get to share what the Lord has taught us this past year, but Riley and Ella finished up today. We're always sad when a year of CBS comes to a close. It really is such a highlight of our week! I would strongly encourage you to look at the CBS website (link above) and find a class close to you. In fact, my mom came to visit last November, and she loved our CBS so much that she went home and found a class close to her in Maryland! She now goes every Thursday morning up there while we're going down here! It truly is life transforming!
Since today was the children's last day, they shared a special performance with us at the end of the morning. This was Ella's first time to be on stage, and as you'll see in the video, this girl didn't have an ounce of stage fright! Riley & Ella were on opposite ends of the stage, so I had to keep panning back and forth to catch them both in action.