Tuesday, July 29, 2014

14 Years of Happily Ever After

Seth said this morning that it "does not seem that long ago."  Fourteen years, that is.  When I look at what all those 14 years have held, I am feeling every year of that 14!  In a good way, of course!

The traditional gift for a 14 year wedding anniversary is ivory.  Really.  Ivory.  Elephant tusk jewelry, anyone?  I think not.  So I really tried hard to find an alternative.  A trip to the zoo to SEE elephants might be fun.  But the Baton Rouge Zoo recently got rid of their elephants.  The New Orleans Zoo in July does not appeal to me in the least bit.  An African safari sounds like a lot of fun, but it's currently a lot out of the budget.  Now concert tickets to see a renowned pianist "tickle the ivories" would really float my boat, but it would probably sink Seth's ship.  So I wrapped up a bar of Ivory soap and put it in his suitcase on Sunday night for him to open today.  Yes, I really did.

I think this past year has been the hardest of the 14 years.  But I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else but this man right here.  And I look forward to many, many more years of Happily Ever After! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorite: At the Beach

I spent the week at one of my most favorite places on earth with my most favorite people on earth.  All I wanted was to be with them.  WITH them.  All of me.  So I also unplugged, literally, and took a break from social media, email, my cell phone.  I didn't even take a whole lot of pictures this week.  I took maybe a quarter of what I normally do.  But I didn't want more pictures of my people in the waves and building sandcastles.  I wanted to be in the waves and building sand castles with them.  And that's exactly what I did!

It stormed early, early Monday morning.  After the storm was gone, there were lots of billowy clouds and tremendous waves.  As a matter of fact, the red flags were out today! The lifeguards were all over the beach cautioning folks and whistling people in from the water if they were out above knee level.  It was really windy, too.  This is what the ocean looked like when we woke up.
We spent the entire day on the beach.  All day.  The kids played and built lots of sandcastles.

Ellie spent the morning getting used to the sand and the sound of the crashing waves.  
After about three hours, she was ready to go inside.  So I went in with her.  Seth brought the big kids up for lunch and then he stayed with Ellie while I went back out to the beach with them.  They were loving the waves.  It was honestly difficult to keep Mason in the area of "below the knees."
We ate supper at the condo that night and then took the kids out to a yogurt bar.  That was our first of three trips to the yogurt place this week!

Tuesday morning dawned bright.  There were a few clouds, but the sun was out, the weather was warmer and the waves were a bit calmer.  So we headed out to the beach again and spent all morning and the early part of the afternoon playing in the sand and water. 

We headed inside to get cleaned up and went to one of our favorite beach side restaurants for a late lunch.
We took a ride down 30-A and admired the picturesque towns and shops.  And then we took the kids to play putt putt.  That's a tradition when we go to the beach.
Ellie was pretty much all over the place!  It was quite challenging trying to keep her from chasing the balls after everyone putted.  So we gave her the job of being Mommy's ball girl.  She could hold my ball and then put it on the green when it was my turn to putt.  After my ball made it in the hole, it was her job to pick it up.  By the time we got to the 17th hole, she decided she wanted to putt, too.

And when we got to the 18th hole and all the balls disappeared nowhere to be found, she was not a happy camper!  We ended the day with another trip to the yogurt place.  

We spent all day Wednesday at the water park.  As in we got there when they opened that morning and didn't leave until 30 minutes before they closed that afternoon.  Mason and Hannah Kate had the time of their lives!  I spent most of the day with Ellie, but I did get to ride Mason's favorite water slide and Hannah Kate's favorite, too.  It was a very tiring day, but it was worth it because the kids had so much fun, even Ellie.

When we got back to the condo, the beach was calling our names.  So after we ate supper we went back to our happy place.
I really think late afternoon and early evening is my most favorite time to be on the beach.  I took my camera this time and captured some of my favorite memories of our trip.  I took this picture because it's actually the only picture of the whole week with me in it.  And it's only my shadow.
Mason and Hannah Kate had a really good time playing in the waves. 

And Ellie had a good time playing with our shovel.
It was on this evening that Ellie finally put those sweet feet in the water and perhaps enjoyed the salty water splashing her ankles and the sand squishing between her toes.  These are my most favorite pictures of her from our trip.

Mason and Hannah Kate were, in the meantime, playing some sort of game with the waves.  It involved twisting and dancing and jumping and yelling.
And this.  Well, this is SO MASON!
I loved watching my three little loves.
Instead of writing her own name in the sand, Hannah Kate kept writing Abbie's name.  She finally decided to write HK underneath Abbie's name, but she didn't finish before the waves crashed.  I snapped a picture as quick as I could.
This guy.  This adorable, funny, boisterous, goofy, intelligent, inquisitive little guy.
And this girl.  This beautiful, smart, funny, tender-hearted, passionate, sweet little girl. 
And this girl.  This stubborn, strong-willed, loud, boisterous, loving baby girl.
Thursday was another all-day-at-the-beach kind of day.  I took this picture as soon as we got out on the beach yesterday morning.  This is exactly what it looked like.  Nearly took my breath away!
There are only a few pictures from yesterday because I spent my time IN the water and IN the sand.
We all got a kick out of Ellie's perfect little water fountain on the top of her head!

This morning I woke up before everyone else and spent about an hour on our balcony just praying and reading my Bible.  I wish I could do that EVERY morning with this as my view!  I actually took this picture yesterday right after lunch.  There's no filter.  It's just the perfect, God-created greens and blues of His creation.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Two Year Old

Dear Ellie,

You are 2 years old!  Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to remind me that this is real, that the LORD hear our prayer for another baby and sent you to us, that you are really here, really "ours."  And now I have a two year old in the house!

I can only imagine what this next year of your life is going to bring!  As a baby, you were so sweet and quiet and content and gentle and easy-going and docile.  But, boy, did your little personality explode during this last year of your life!  You are still sweet as pie (when you want to be).  You are definitely NOT quiet.  You are content as long as you are getting your way.  I'm not sure about gentleness.  You're a rough-and-tumble kind of gal now.  I'm also not sure about easy-going.  And I think your docility (is that a word?) is a little rough around the edges and tainted with defiance a lot of the time.  You are a very passionate little girl.

But you are JOY!  And SUNSHINE!  You keep me on my toes, for sure!  You give me a run for my money pretty much everyday making sure you don't get into anything you're not supposed to be into (like my nail polish and mascara and the garbage can).  You make me laugh a hundred times, if not more, a day.  You make us all laugh!  You are the light of your brother's and sister's worlds.  

You are always up for an adventure.  You love to play outside.  You love to ride bikes.  You love to swing.  You love your baby dolls.  You love real babies (even though most of the ones you call babies are probably your same age!).  You love toast (with "buh-her"!) and a cheese omelet every morning for breakfast.  You love to put your shoes on.  You love Dora and Doc (McStuffins) and Mouse (Mickey).  You love to take naps.  You love to dance.  You love music.  You love to go around the house pointing at things and telling me what they are.  You love "nu" (your pacifier).  You love "Ab."  You love making animal sounds and can often be heard moo-ing and quack-ing when we're driving down the road.  You love the words "No!" and "Mine!"  and "Stop it!"

You are a Mama's Girl!  That's one of my most favorite things about you.  I love how you call my name a million times a day (or so it seems, but I'm pretty sure that's very close to truth!).  I love how you like to cuddle in the morning times and put your head on my shoulder when I get you out of the crib.  I love how you still let me hold you and rock you.  I love how you rub my arm up and down, up and down when you are upset or tired or scared.  I just love you.  All of you!

We had a very small little party for you on your birthday (which was actually last Wednesday, but it was the same week as VBS so that threw this Mama off a little bit) if it can even be called that.  But I promise you'll be having a "real" party in a couple of weeks.  I just needed more time to give you a "proper" party!  Here are a few pictures from your day.    

I love you, my Ellie Belle!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorite: VBS

Oh my goodness.  Just this.  Most people assume I come home the Friday after VBS and crash.  I don't.  I come home and clean.  Because I haven't cleaned like I want to since before Mason's boys' night.  And stuff is everywhere and hasn't been put up all week.  But I AM caught up on laundry because I wash clothes every night so we can wear our VBS shirts everyday.  But right now I am so tired that I am delirious.  I haven't slept good in a very long time.  I'm thinking that won't be a problem tonight!

What a week it was!  We had a record enrollment of 114 kids who came to hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and have a whole lot of fun along the way.  On a good Sunday morning, we might have 15 kids in Sunday School.  That's a GOOD Sunday morning.  And three of those kids are mine.  

The kids brought $910.63 in penny wars to benefit our missionaries.  It was a friendly little competition between the girls and the boys.  The girls won.  I have to admit . . . I was shocked this morning when they brought in a whopping 80 pounds worth of change this morning to put a whooping on the boys!  And, contrary to popular belief, it was not rigged (nor was it rigged back in 1999, but that's a whole 'nother story!).  So, yet again, I escaped what was this year "slime."  I thought for sure my number was up.  Next year, boys.  Next year!
I am still in awe of the increase the Lord blessed us with this year.  It was worth it.  All of it, every single bit of it was worth it.  And I'll do it all over again next year.  But first, sleep.  Just sleep.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Orthodontist and Strep Throat

Oh, you know, just another ordinary day.  My morning started at 5:30.  It was day 2 of VBS.  And then Mason had an orthodontist appointment this afternoon.  When they took x-rays, the orthodontist was actually more concerned with Mason's swollen adenoids and tonsils than his teeth.  So that took us to the urgent care clinic where Mason was diagnosed with strep throat!  What?  What!  Yes, that happened.

Mason may look like his Daddy, but he has his Momma's mouth (but as many times as I went to the orthodontist, I never remember doing some of the crazy stuff they had Mason do today so they could take pictures and x-rays of his mouth!).  The good news is that the orthodontist is trying to avoid two rounds of braces.  The bad news is that Mason has to have two of his baby teeth pulled in order to do so.  His bottom teeth are super crowded, and his baby teeth just don't want to come out.  So two of them are going to be removed in hopes that his other permanent teeth will shift themselves into position and move over a little bit to make room for the permanent teeth that can't come in.  We'll go back in January to find out if this happened.  If not, he'll have to go ahead and get braces on his bottom teeth.  He has a ways to go before addressing the issues with his top teeth, but he will definitely be wearing braces there, too.

Mason has complained a little with a sore throat since Saturday.  He hasn't had any other symptoms.  He hasn't been eating a whole lot, but that doesn't cause us any concern because he just doesn't like to eat anyway.  He hasn't quite been himself, but I thought it was just because we've been so busy and on-the-go the past few weeks.  I figured the sore throat was a result of a little sinus issue.  He didn't make a big deal out of it so neither did I.

I'm telling you I was really surprised when the orthodontist started talking to me first about Mason's adenoids and tonsils and swollen airways.  He went so far as to say that he needs to see an ENT!  So in my mind I am trying to figure all of this out.  We still had several errands to take care of after Mason's appointment, as I was also going this afternoon to buy food to feed 250 people at VBS Family Night on Thursday night.  After our first stop, I went straight to an urgent care clinic.  I sensed something just wasn't right, and I knew we didn't have time to wait on an ENT appointment.  I was still thinking Mason had a little sinus something but decided to get it checked out anyway since we're still in the midst of VBS and then leaving soon to go to the beach.  Needless to say, I was NOT expecting that strep test to come back positive!  Not at all.

When I made Mason's orthodontist appointment a month ago, I really didn't want to do it this week of VBS, but it was the first available appointment they had.  I already knew that we'd be going back to the dentist to have some teeth pulled after this visit so I wanted to get all of that taken care of before school starts again.  So we went today.  Isn't God good?!  Y'all, even though Mason hasn't quite been himself these last few days, he has in no way given me reason to believe he was really sick!  And had it not been for those x-rays at the orthodontist's office and the doctor's reaction, I wouldn't have taken Mason to the clinic today.  I don't know when I would've taken him!

He had to get a shot.  And let me just say that he told his Daddy it was "no big deal."  Well.  It took THREE of us to hold him down while he got that shot in his booty.  And he screamed like I've never heard him scream before!  He was so mad!  He must've forgotten about that.

After we left the clinic, we still had to finish our errands.  I hated to drag him around everywhere.  He was such a trooper and such a big helper.  We, of course, didn't get home until late.  He was so tired.  I'm so tired.  But we'll be getting up again in the morning to do it all over again.  Of course, hopefully tomorrow will be a little less eventful than today.  Except that we're celebrating another sweetie's birthday . . .