Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Africa Tees!

Check out these cute Africa tees I made! You can reserve one by going over to my facebook page and commenting on the picture. They are $15 each and that includes shipping!





Thanks for your support! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Edith: Thirteen Months

Dear Edie,

You are thirteen months old! You are growing so quickly and you are entering toddlerhood with quite the spunk! This month has been a big one for teething, you have 3 or 4 teeth up top and almost 4 on bottom. It's really hard to get a good look! We started brushing your teeth regularly and you love it! Speaking of teeth... you LOVE eating. Your favorite snack are Gerber "lil crunchies" and you could eat an entire can every day. You also love to play with the lid on the can and put it on and off.



You're a really smart girl! You know how to back out when you're on a chair, you can put items in other items, and you like to read books. You love to tinker with things and will sit and play for a long time with your dollhouse or barn. You're still our mischief maker and you love to pull everything out of toy bins onto the floor. I am guaranteed a few minutes of quiet if I just decide to clean up because you are determined to make a mess. One of your new tricks is to "share" your paci if we ask if we can have it. You will hold it out for us.


You're cruising along furniture and taking steps behind push-toys. When we try to get you to walk, you can stand on your own for a little while and will even take up to 3 steps at a time on your own. You typically think it is a game and start getting really silly and will flop over after a step. I think you'll be walking soon!



Your typical sleep routine is up around 6:30, with 2-3 naps during the day (8:30/9 am, 12/1 pm) for about an hour to two hours. On a rare day you take a third nap in the late afternoon if your emotions are just getting the best of you. You go to bed between 6:30-7pm depending on if you had that third nap. You like to put yourself to sleep and you'll stand up in your crib facing the door when you're done napping.




Our biggest milestone this month has been weaning. A month ago I thought we'd never be at this point, but now we are just nursing in the mornings. It has been bittersweet but I'm thankful that you are handling it like a champ! You're still drinking breastmilk from a sippy cup throughout the day, but you rarely come over to me and tug at my shirt anymore.



You are such a social girl. You love our college friends and your grandparents. You light up when you see your friends! You and your brother are still best buddies, and you love to copy him. You can't handle it when he gets to do things you can't. The other day during an at-home physical therapy session, you had to do whatever brother was doing.



Overall Edith, things just keeping getting better and better with you. Every month we say "this is my favorite age!" because you are just so much fun. You keep us laughing, you offer the sweetest snuggles, and you make us so proud. We love you precious girl!

Love,
Mama

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Only Thing That Matters

Thanks for your response to yesterday's post!

When at the ball game with our new friends over the weekend, the mom of the special needs kids reminded me that there are only two things that we as parents are responsible for. We must teach our kids that they are loved, and how to know and love our loving God. She gave an example of how her special needs children had made her more relaxed with her typically developing children. She even pulled her older daughter out of advanced classes that were causing stress, because she said, what is the point? Does she really need college credits in high school when this season is meant for her to enjoy?

So I need to remind myself (and maybe you need that reminder too?) of our mission. As mothers, sisters, workers, students. It's to love others, and to love God.

Where this hits home to me is that I get so worried for Israel's future- will he know his abcs one day, will he do well in school or ever get a job? But the truest role that I have as a mom is not to teach him his colors or even manners. It is for my kids to know that they are very loved, and that God loves them even more. This frees me so much! It also gives me joy to see God's grace in our lives because, you know what? I think I'm doing a pretty good job with those tasks. They may not know colors or abcs, but my kids sure do know they are loved.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 34-40

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Answers

Answers. It's what I've wanted for so long. I wanted a diagnosis for Israel, something to explain to me what is going on with him, and what to expect for the future. We were connected with specialists starting when Israel was just 9 months or so, and we began our quest for answers soon after. He had febrile seizures (thank goodness just one, slightly traumatic episode) at 10 months that required hospitalization for a few days, and scary words like meningitis and brain tumor were ruled out when he had a CT scan. A few months later (around 14 months), we took Israel to a neurologist who said he didn't have a crystal ball to tell us what our future looked like. He thought the CT scan that the Children's Hospital had ordered should have been sufficient to notice if any issues were happening in Israel's brain, so instead of looking at that route we did genetic testing. This kid has been tested and retested and evaluated and assessed. We were told that nothing was conclusive. He was too young to tell. Wait and see.

So we waited and saw. There was very little progress for a long time, his first birthday came and went, and soon we were expecting Edith. The summer before Edith's arrival, Israel was about 20-21 months and we saw more specialists. I thought, surely if we know what's going on, then it will make life with two kids easier! He was evaluated yet again, and all of the things that I had researched on the internet proved inconsistent. He just didn't fit in a mold. There wasn't a diagnosis for him.

A few months later, I requested answers again. In March (Israel being 2 1/2 years old then) we saw a whole new team of specialists in Birmingham, this time the neurologist ordered an MRI of his brain. This spring we saw tremendous progress in Israel. He's scooting, walking with help, saying more words, self feeding more! It's been amazing. We knew the follow up appointment in September could be what we needed for answers though. I wanted those MRI results so badly! They wouldn't give them to us over the phone and wouldn't let us come early. We had to wait from April 15 (when he had the MRI) to September 4. The summer went quickly, and once again we were in a room with lots of specialists, waiting for answers. Now he is almost 3 years old.

Well, we got them. I am not going to put everything out there online, because it's Israel's story. The pieces of Israel's story have come together a bit more, and although he still doesn't have a specific disorder or diagnosis (''developmental delay'' is all) we know what is going on in his little head. Our sweet boy had some trauma in the womb that will mark him forever on this earth.

I'll be honest, this news rocked me pretty hard. God was so gracious to me, and gave us strength in the doctor's office to hear everything that needed to be heard and to ask questions. Will and I were strong through the appointment and on our trek home. I will admit that I spent most of the afternoon crying, and I think that's okay.

This weekend we decided to make a quick trip to Auburn. We spent the weekend with my parents, and Will and I even had a date to the Auburn game. By God's providence, we sat next to a family with two special needs children (probably around ages 7-9). This couple spoke some good life into me. The wife shared how she had questioned God's timing and wondered what if their special needs child had been conceived any other month, would it have happened the same? And God revealed to her "It would always have been him." That was a good word for me. It would always have been Israel, this is God's plan for Israel and us. Not that I ever question Israel's fit for us, but that I was reminded that God's timing was purposeful. We were put on the waitlist at such a time as to receive Israel's referral. I used to wonder if Israel had come home at 4 months instead of 7 months, would he be delayed? If those months at Hannah's Hope were the detriment to his development? But now we know... it was always this way. It was always to be that Israel would bear this mark, to have this path.

There's just a sweet community with other special needs families. I love being able to easily chat with other mamas in waiting rooms because we have a common ground. We can talk about social workers, insurance plans and different programs because we are in it together. The family from the Auburn game affirmed us that it is okay - and normal - to continue through a cycle of grieving at times. We talked about how we can go through stages of anger, denial, sadness, etc and then come back around. They encouraged us that it does get easier, although each new stage of life/age may bring the return of those grieving stages.

So here we are. With answers. We have hope and we have some sadness. I felt that I needed to share our update here because so many of you are walking in this with us. I saw a friend this weekend who asked about him, and I was surprised that she was even invested in his story. But I know that Israel has been made who he is because of God's glory, and that is why I am updating. I can look back on Israel's short life and see so many instances where God was clearly faithful to him and us! And God is always doing much more than I can comprehend. So to any of you who are invested in this story of our boy's, know this... God is faithful! God marked a purpose in Israel while he was being formed in his mother's womb. We look forward to seeing how Israel's life continues to point to God's glory.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.  And his disciples asked him,“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered,“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139: 13-16

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

On Not Comparing

I felt this tug on my heart the first time Edith rolled over, when she was just 3 months old. It was a bittersweet ache, to celebrate her milestone yet feel sad that Israel didn't have that too. It's happened again and again as we watch Edith do things that Israel still can't do, or catch on to things that we have had to work so hard to get him to figure out. Will and I told each other early on with Edith that we had to give ourselves permission to be excited for her, and let that be that.

Now Edith is a near-toddler. She's cruising, climbing, getting into things, playing with toys, stacking blocks, putting items into other items. She's figuring out things that we are still doing OT and PT exercises on with Israel. It's hard, but it's good. I'm thankful we had Israel first because we had no idea what to expect, so watching Edie learn them so fast makes every new thing a miracle to us. We are constantly amazed at her brain and how she is soaking things in, copying us, and acting more like a toddler instead of a baby each day.

The truth is, each of my children have a story to tell. The Lord is working all things for Good in each of their lives. I don't yet know what they will be, although as a mom I can daydream of what I hope for them. I hope that Israel's will continue to be a story of redemption, of how God uses Israel to display His glory. I hope for Edith, that though she is feisty, quick-learning, and silly, He will use her personality to attract others to the gospel, that she will know and love scripture and the Lord. I hope that the Lord uses the sweet, compassionate heart that Israel has to give him mercy for others.

So while sometimes it is bittersweet to see Edie's quick progress, and Israel's slower milestones, I am confident that the Lord loves both of my kiddos even more than I do. I know that God delights in them and created them purposefully. I know that no step or milestone will be done without the Lord ordaining it, and that in each moment of their lives, I can point to Christ as the giver of good gifts, and the One deserving of Glory. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Israel at the Dentist!

Israel had his first dentist appointment last week, which was fun because Will's dad is a dentist so he cleaned his teeth! It was a treat to see GaGa and Pop!




Edie even got a celebratory balloon!



Afterwards, Israel took a nap in his grandparents' bed, and I died a little inside of the cuteness of a toddler in a big bed. He's the best!


Meanwhile, Edie got some alone time with her GaGa, because we know that this chick doesn't like to nap anywhere but her own crib or carseat.


I'm thankful for such a loving family and that Israel's granddad could be the one to do Israel's first dentist appointment! He's such a big boy! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I'm Reading

I love reading. The moment I finished my classes this spring I headed to the library and got a stack of books. This summer I've read a lot and I have two books that you need to read!!

- Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker. 
 This is a quick read, I read it in a day and a half. The first half of the book is about why a family should simplify, and what is in our hearts that makes us desire stuff. It was really good and convicting. The second half of the book helped address specific areas of clutter and how to simplify. I'm not a naturally organized person when it comes to my house- I have piles of stuff laying around and it doesn't bother me. We have a garage full of junk that just sits there 90% of the year. This book encouraged me to de-own not declutter, and to make sure I am being intentional about what comes in my home. I feel that Will and I do a good job of not bringing too much into our home because we are living in a rental home. I am aware that this is not our forever house so I don't put too much pressure on myself to have it be picture-perfect. Areas where my home is prone to clutter: TOYS, clothes, and picture files.

Notable quotes: "The first (and most important) step in keeping your home clutterfree is to remove the excess possessions that are stealing your life, time and energy." (p.56) He explains that removing stuff from your house is a way to see what you value and what you are investing in. He argues that investing in people and memories is more important that things.

"There is far more joy to be found in pursuing less than can be found in owning more." (p.185). He explains how our patterns of living and spending will be passed on to our children. Are we teaching them to be content in what they have or that they need more stuff? I was very convicted on the amount of toys my kids have, and how they don't really appreciate them because there are so many to choose from.

There were really a lot of gems from this book. It's not necessarily targeted at parents, even though the title may suggest that. I would recommend it to others as a way to evaluate your heart, spending patterns, and your value of "stuff." Check out Joshua Becker's blog Becoming Minimalist for more!

-Treasuring Christ when your hands are full by Gloria Furman. 
This book!!! It was so refreshing for me. Such a good reminder about the gospel in motherhood. I was encouraged to be intentional in my relationships with other moms, and that we would be building each other up in the gospel and not just having girl friends who can relate to us as moms. I was convicted that my main role as a mom is to prepare my now-toddler kids for adulthood and a life devoted to Christ. I was encouraged to look at the daily ins and outs of motherhood through the viewfinder of the gospel. I was reminded that no sacrifice or hardship that I make as a mom compares to that of what Christ has done for me in salvation.cc It was so good, yall.

Notable quotes: "The world is brimming over with false hopes and nearsighted dreams for motherhood, but Jesus endures forever." (p.47).

"We need other Christian women in our lives to help us grasp how wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Jesus. Compartmentalizing our spiritual life away from our interactions with other women is unhelpful and spiritually damaging. When we relegate our fellowship with other women to discussions of fleeting things and avoid talking about how eternity is pressing on our heart, we're not doing ourselves or our friends any favors." (p.43).

"There are times when we are not motivated by the love of Christ, and we fume at our children not because they break God's law but because they break ours." (p.89). Wow - ouch. This chapter hit me as I was reminded that so often I serve my family without grace and on my own terms.

"More relevant than our mothering choices or strategies is whether we are walking in a manner worthy of him, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10)." (p.98). This was particularly convicting to me as I am processing how to wean Edith. I've been very caught up in it, but am I spending as much mental effort in knowing God?



Both of these books are ones I intend to revisit regularly. Check them out!

*I wasn't paid or perked to post about either of these books. Amazon links included are NOT affiliate links, just thought they would be helpful.

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