03 September 2015

The Littles Go to School

This morning, I woke Hallie up (which almost never happens) by telling her it was time for school.  I've never seen that girl get up and dressed so fast.  I told her to get her shoes on while I got dressed and she traipsed into my room a few minutes later with shoes and her backpack.

"Daddy, guess what?!" She exclaimed excitedly.  "Today is my first day of school!"

Asher was almost as excited as his sister.  His class has a Lightning McQueen toy that he scoped out on Tuesday.  (It should also be noted that he has a Lightning McQueen backpack, lunch box, and nap mat.  He is more obsessed with Cars than he was at his birthday.)

We needed this excitement to carry us through the early-morning rush of getting three kids out the door a half-hour earlier than usual.  (Gabriel had his first spirit day today.)

We also needed this excitement after we dropped Big Brother off, when both kids got their faces and knees scraped up on the sidewalk.  Jumping off of steps and curbs and walkways can be dangerous, kids, but who ever listens to their mother?

As I strapped both kids in their carseats to a chorus of wails, runny noses, blood, and tears, I asked them if they still wanted to go to school.  The answer was a yes that sounded more like "why would we not want to go to school?!"

So we went to school.

Hallie's routine was the same as last year.  We dropped her off first and she was happy to see one of the boys from last year in her class again.

Then I headed to Asher's class.  He had thoughts only for that Lightning McQueen, and I prayed that no other child had it first.

Thankfully, he found it while I was unloading his backpack.  Hallelujah.

I watched him play for a few minutes, but then I had to quickly duck out before I started crying.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my cuties!  (Yay for having green grass again!)

11 August 2015

First Day of Kindergarten!

Well, I have a Kindergartener.

It's been a crazy-busy summer and time has just flown by, leaving me vainly grasping for more lazy days and pool time and after-dinner freeze pops.

I was a mess this morning.  Anxiety was threatening to make me sick, emotions were running high, Hallie wouldn't get dressed, I hadn't gotten groceries so it was slim pickings for breakfast... it was rough.  And we had to be out the door by 7:30am.  My kids usually wake up between 7:30 and 8.

I was near tears.

Drew had to remind me of reality.  "It's not five days like last year; it's only three.  You can do it."  

The school Gabriel is enrolled in is university model, meaning he's home two days and in the classroom two days.  I needed the reminder that I'm only letting go a little bit today.  I let go a lot more last year and it was fine.

Still, last year was preschool.  He was still a little kid.  This is Kindergarten.  Big kid territory.

I'm not ready to have a real-school-aged kid!

But I'll count my blessings that I get to homeschool him on Mondays and Fridays and that he only has half days on Wednesdays.

And that someone else can teach him to read.  Hallelujah.

First day of school excitement!
I'm such a sucker for kids in uniforms! 
He's acting out MY disbelief. ;)
Ignore our dead grass.  After major flooding in May, Houston's been a desert. :/ We can't catch a break.
Heading to class after assembly. 

30 June 2015

Pecan, Pear, & Feta Salad

This is seriously the best salad.  Ever.  It's always a hit.

With ripe pear and tangy feta, it's the perfect side for summer, but those toasted pecans make it a great addition to any meal in the fall, too.

When I'm on top of menu planning and making meals (ha), we have this salad about once a week!  Sometimes, I even get fancy and go beyond just toasting those yummy pecans by candying them in a little butter and sugar.  Oh myyyy.

The secret ingredient that makes this salad so yummy is the dressing.  I used to not like vinaigrettes, but then my MIL introduced me to this one.  Oh my goodness.  I can't get enough of it!  (You should be able to find it at your local grocery, but if not, you can purchase on Amazon.  It's well-worth the price!)

This salad has a lot of variations.  If you're not a fan of feta, try it with bleu cheese (which is how my MIL often makes it).  If you don't like pecans, substitute walnuts.  I've even made it with crisp apples when I forgot to pick up pears!

Dice that pear, throw those pecans in the oven for about 5 minutes, then dump it all in the salad bowl with the lettuce and feta cheese.  Toss everything together with Brianna's Real French Vinaigrette, and you're good to go.

You know you want some of this healthy yumminess in your life! ;)

01 June 2015

The Big Five

(photo by MS² Photography)

You're five and I'm in denial.

It feels like yesterday that I labored to bring you into the world, yesterday that I held you for the first time, weeping from the emotion of it all, kissing all over your sweet little face.  And now you're five.  Break my heart.

You changed my life.  You made me a mama.  You made me who I am.

And every day, you shape me into more of who I'm supposed to be.

I am learning how to love better, deeper, more fully.  I am learning patience (very slowly, I will admit).  I am learning how to think of myself less and others more.

I'm also learning other things -- like the names of dinosaurs, facts about wildlife and aquatic animals, and so many (so. many.) Star Wars backstories -- things I never thought very important or interesting, but I learn them so that I will have an answer when you ask.

Because ask you will.  You love to learn more than anyone I know, which I guess you get from me.  In fact, you get a lot from me.  Some good stuff, some not-so-good stuff.  Your dad and I, we like to say that you got his mind, my personality, and both of our good looks. ;)

And anything you got from me, anything not great?  We can work on that stuff together, with God's help.

You, my precious boy, are an overcomer.  You are strong and brave and confident and humble and kind.  You are a deadly arrow.  You are a mighty man of God.  It doesn't matter if you don't see yourself as any of those things now.  It doesn't even matter if I don't.  What matters is that's who He has called you to be, and by His grace, that's who your dad and I will raise you to be.

I often tell your dad that there's nothing he can't do.  Out of all the people in the world, I truly believe that about him.  You are cut from that same cloth.  You can accomplish anything you want, be anything you want.  The sky really is your limit.

And you will always, always, always have a praying mama behind you.

Yesterday, you sweetly asked to read your brand-spanking-new real Bible (thanks Nana and Papaw!) then you asked to sleep with it -- melt my heart!  Of course we said yes.  I used to get scared at night, just like you, and I liked to sleep with my Bible under my pillow, too.

I pray you soon recognize the power in that book and that you always treasure its words above everything else.  May His Word continually guide and guard your feet and your heart and may you never stray from its commands.  May it become a foundation for you to build your life upon.  May you find life and love and hope in its pages as the Spirit reveals himself to you through them.

I love you, son.

Your Mama

Some of my favorite pictures of your fifth year.
You and your best buddy, Uncle Anderson.
(photo by EBYPhotography)
Hanging at your favorite place (the zoo), September 2014.
Same spot six months later... big difference! 
Preschool graduation and I could not be more proud.
So happy to be FIVE!  You've been talking about it for almost a year!
(Also note your favorite shirt, haha.)
That profile... that smile... that hair... that NOSE!  All the heart eyes!

26 May 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

This past Sunday, we took a little day trip to Austin, TX, so that the kids (and Mama) could see the Capitol.  A lot of fun was had by all, especially on the front steps and lawn.

Asher trying to keep up... story of his life.

This hill though!

"It's so'mazing!"

A lot of beauty; a lot of sass.

This picture makes my eyes turn into little hearts.

Best Dad Ever Award!

All five of us hilariously crowded into one selfie.
Also... Hallie thinks the name of the Capitol is "selfie"!

On Monday afternoon, we saw on the news that downtown Austin had been flooded... and then that same storm system came and flooded Houston on Monday night.  Seriously, the streets only a couple blocks from us are completely underwater.  We just got our power back after being without for about 12 hours.  What!

So, all in all, we had a pretty eventful weekend.  How was yours, friends? :)

19 May 2015

Last Day of School 2015

Some fun pictures from our last day of school!  Bring on summer!

05 May 2015



You, son, are a delight.  An absolute blessing to my life.  Every day, you bring light and laughter to my heart.  Today, on your birthday, I want to take a written "snapshot" of all my favorite things about you (there are a lot!) so that I can look back in the years to come and remember you exactly as you were.  So, here we go...

I love your way with words.  The conversations we share are like no other.  You are so chatty!  I love how you say "yes, ma'am" and "yes, sir."  I love how you communicate, how you repeat everything that anyone says, particularly your siblings.  I love how you already know exactly how to bug them, just by saying one little word... "butt." (We're working on that one.) I love how you're starting to repeat songs, especially when you're singing along with The Imperial March.  

I love your energy, how you run after your brother and sister, never tiring of trying to keep up with their various activities.  I love your courage and your daring spirit, how you climb ladders at the playground and slide down the tallest slides, how you can hold your own (physically and verbally) in a fight with your siblings.  I love your fearless love of swimming (although it seriously freaks me out that you love going under).  I love how you tell people you're "four-and-a-half," because I know you believe you're just as big and as capable as your brother.

I love your obsession with Pixar's Cars, how you carry those character Wheelies around every day, no matter where we go.  I love how you know all their names, how you line every single one up in a straight line when you play.  The other day, you held up Lightning McQueen and told me, "Mah-ween says 'a-CHOW!'" and it's since become one of your favorite things to say.  I love how you love Star Wars and Ninja Turtles, and how you know the names of all those characters, too.  (I also love that you're learning the names of the princesses... you will be very well-rounded, son.)

I love how you love to listen to books, especially "Night Moon," which you almost know by heart.  I love how you let me rock and snuggle you before bed, how you ask for the Sh'ma and "Jesus Me" every night.  I love how you need blankie, pacifier, Brinley the Bear, and Geoffrey the Giraffe to sleep (and sometimes a car or two).  I love that you love your crib and rarely cry to get out, even if you've been awake for an hour.

But most of all, I love the happiness that shines from your eyes.  I love that contagious smile and those perfect little teeth.  Strangers can't help but smile back.  I love your magnetic personality and that you are so quick to apologize, even when you weren't in the wrong.  I love that you're a hugger.  I love that you notice people, that you remember names.

My prayer for you is that you will always be a blessing to everyone around you, that you will make people feel valued and important with authenticity.  I see so much of who you will be already present in your big personality and I pray that you will partner with God to achieve all that He has for you.

I love you, Bugga Boo.  Happiest of birthdays to my happiest of boys.

Your Mama

Some of my favorite pictures of your second year.
You've always been a water baby! 
Beach babe.
This truck is one of your favorite things.
Future Baylor Bear!

I've never seen you as happy as when you were atop this pony.

17 April 2015

Passover Reflections

I have so many thoughts in my head right now, having just finished celebrating Passover and the 8-day Feast of Unleavened Bread.  I'm going to try to make sense of it all for you, but bear with me if parts seem choppy. ;)

Getting Rid of Leaven
This year was our first time really celebrating Passover.  Last year, we (mostly) abstained from leaven, eating matzah instead, but I never threw anything out.  This year, I actually went through my fridge and pantry and got rid of all the leaven and leavened products (Exodus 12:15, 19-20).  Whew!

I'm feeling overwhelmed as I gather up the granola bars and Cheez-Its and most of my kids' snacks, trying to imagine what they could snack on for the next week.  (Good thing they really like matzah pizza, because I'm pretty sure they ate it five out of eight nights!)

But as I'm reading labels on everything, I'm meditating on how leaven represents sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). I'm explaining to Gabriel, as I'm tossing frozen pancakes and waffles (his favorite breakfast), how we need to examine our hearts just as we're examining our pantry (1 Corinthians 11:28). How we need to get rid of everything that doesn't please the Lord.

The people of Israel were set free from bondage by the blood on their doors.  All they had to do was walk through!  But their hearts were not necessarily repentant.  Seven days without leaven signified a purification of their hearts in preparation to receive the Law that would come fifty days later.

I'm the same way!  I've been set free, delivered, and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb -- once and for all.  But I need a daily reminder to live a life free from sin.  It's my choice to walk in the freedom that He purchased for me.  Passover is a yearly reminder to clean out my "house" of anything with the power to spread and transform.  Only God should have that power in my life.

God's Abundant Faithfulness
In the days leading up to Passover, we watched Prince of Egypt with the kids.  We read them the story of the plagues and the Red Sea.  As I was teaching my children, I was struck anew by the Lord's incredible faithfulness to His people, Israel.  These people He chose, rescued, and delivered.  These people He used to show His awesome power to every generation throughout the whole earth (2 Samuel 7:22-24).

The miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt is proof of the Lord's faithfulness; evidence that He can and does work miracles in impossible situations; confirmation that He will keep His promises, even if they're not on our timetable.

What impossibility are you facing today?  Friend, my God can handle it!  If He can part the sea, allowing the whole of Israel to pass through on dry ground, He can handle your situation!  My God is a master in performing impossible tasks.  And look at His track record!  You won't find a better one, I promise.

Whatever it is -- family, work, health, financial, relational, etc. -- give it to the Lord of heaven and earth, who always speaks true and always keeps His promises.

Exodus 14:13-14, 25

The Blood of the Lamb
It really hit me this year, as I was meditating on the first Passover, just how far God plans in advance. 

I read how He required blood from a perfect lamb on the door frames of Israel's houses as a sign that they belonged to Him (Exodus 12:7, 13, 21-23).  It brought a picture to my mind of my own heart, which is covered with blood that is not my own, blood that signifies belonging to the Lord, blood that protects me both from the wrath of God and from the enemy.  

For Jesus is the Passover Lamb -- spotless, sinless, and sacrificed (Matthew 26:2, 28; Luke 22:7; Romans 3:23-25; 1 Corinthians 5:7).  He covered over my sin with His blood when I invited Him into my life.  Through the Perfect Lamb's willing sacrifice, the wrath of God was fully satisfied, because every sin was laid on Him.

And just as the Destroyer (can I just say that I love that the ESV uses this word?!) was not allowed access to the homes covered in blood, he is not allowed access into my life, or the life of anyone who has been covered with the blood of Jesus.

But best of all?  Now, when the Holy God (who can have no fellowship with sin and darkness) looks at me, all He sees is the blood of that Lamb.  Hallelujah!

I hope something here resonated with you and/or provoked you to thought or action.  I'd love to read any response, so feel free to leave a comment here or on Facebook. :) Thanks for reading my heart!