Abby’s on the move

Abby is on the move.  She is a little fighter.  Stubborn as any redhead.  She so sweet, but she’s also so vocal about being uncomfortable.  She’s climbing all over me like I’m a tree and she’s a koala bear.  She can’t stand to be two feet away from me, poor thing.  She getting more control about where she wants to go and what she wants to do.  She and Sophia are having more and more fun together, and getting more and more in each other’s way.  Oh, sisterhood here we come!  I wanted to put up a video of Abby crawling, but when I got the camera out she decided to pull up instead.  So, here’s a little video of her pulling up.  Enjoy.

“What do you have?”

Do you know the passage in Matthew 15 where Jesus feeds four thousand?  It hit me today.  In case you don’t remember it, here’s the passage in the Message.

Matt 15:32-39a

“But Jesus wasn’t finished with them.  He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people.  For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat.  I can’t send them away without a meal–they’d probably collapse on the road.”
His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?”
Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.”  At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down.  He took the seven loaves and the fish.  After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people.  Everyone ate.  They had all they wanted.  It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers.  Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal…

Jesus, having already fed 5,000 people on 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish per the request of the disciples (Matt 14), turned it around on them.  He compassionately told them, I hate to send away these people without a meal.”  Jesus gave them a chance to exhibit great faith–“Lord, You feed them,” they could have said.  But, instead, they doubted His power, “Where on earth are you gonna find enough food?”  Jesus simply asked, “What do you have?”

We’re considering another fairly major life-change coming up, one that requires a lot of faith–faith in who God is and what He promises.  I am the thick-headed disciple, “Where on earth are you going to __________ ?”  “How could I ever _________?” “Where on earth will you find enough money for ___________ ?” God is giving me a chance to exhibit great faith, and worries creep in.  I doubt, I worry, I self-loathe.   Jesus simply asked, “What do you have?”  He took it and broke it to feed four thousand.  The disciples didn’t think they had much.  I’m just this mom.  This young mother.  Just this wife.  Just this simple person who loves God but doubts herself.

He took it and broke it to feed FOUR THOUSAND.

Growing up too fast.

Last night I was pushing the girls in the stroller for a walk around the neighborhood.  We passed a bike with two small boys riding on it, boys about 7 or 8 years old.  Sophia says–imagine a thick southern accent, “Ooh Mommy, those boys are SO CUTE!”

This morning while I was in the bathroom fixing my hair a bit, Sophia came in frown-faced with her hands on top of her head, “Mom, my hair looks so funny.”
I said, “Well, do you want me to use the blow-dryer on it?”
She hollered, “No! I need a pretty hair bow!”

Ah. Life is fun right now.

“Mommy, leave Abby alone.”

My patience has been wearing thin lately.  It’s Sophia.  She’s talking non-stop, and she’s such a bossy little booger. She’s really enjoying playing with Abby, who’s getting around and interacting more than ever.  (Abby just started crawling and clapping. So sweet.)  But, she bossing Abby like a little Mommy.  Everything is “I need that!” or “Stop that!”  She won’t let Abby play with anything, yanking it out of her hand, or hollering “That’s mine. I need that!”  She even bosses around her Cowboy. This morning was disruption for me when she told me “Mommy, leave Abby alone.”  Alright, what’s up?!

The last couple of days we’ve also been struggling with hitting.  She’ll get upset because I told her “no” about something, and then she’ll grunt, and say “I’m mad. I’m going to hit you.”  We’ve had some talks about this, about using her words.  We’ve had some time-outs, she’s apologized… we’re getting somewhere.  She’s definitely learning that it’s not okay.  This begs the question, though, Where did she learn that? Ugh.  I can’t possibly police every minute of media that enters her eyes and ears.  We read books, she watches some age-appropriate t.v., she plays with kids at church, but she absorbs and then ‘tries out’ EVERYTHING.  Monkey-see, monkey-do, I guess.  So, maybe this is a phase?  Eventually, she’ll acquire a filter through which to process media?  What’s okay to try out, what’s not nice, what’s down-right wrong…

Here’s what I’m thinking about this morning: it’s the struggle with age/role-appropriate behaviors–between tones and words that are okay for Mommy to use but not okay for Sophia to use back at me or with other people.  For example, I can tell her ‘no,’ but she doesn’t need to tell me ‘no.’ Or, the fact that I can sometimes be bossy or seem bossy because I’m being Mommy… and, I don’t want her to be a bossy little girl. Maybe, I don’t know how to not be bossy.  I was a bossy little girl, too.  Thanks, Mom.  😉  What to do?

How do I teach her to be sweet, humble, and gentle? How do I model sweetness, humility, and gentleness?  Is it too early to expect anything greater than mimicking, and if so how should I be presenting myself in front of her?  Because, isn’t that the greatest lesson–how mother behaves with her family is a model for how her daughters should learn to behave in and with the world.  I came across an article recently.  It’s mostly on home-schooling, but there was a piece in there that really got me to thinking about my behavior in the home.  My role as daily-teacher is not just when I’m trying to help Sophia learn her letters or count to 20, it’s when I try to help resolve conflicts between her and Abby.  It’s when I am frustrated but chose to act out of love.  It’s my attitude when she won’t quit bugging me or Abby won’t quit crying.  It’s when I’m… being…

Well, I guess that’s my thought for the day.  How am I being an example of Christ to my babies today?

Come. Rest. Recover. Learn grace and freedom.

I’m reading through Matthew in The Message, and this is a passage that stuck out to me today.

“Are you tired? Worn out?
burned-out on religion?
Come to me.
Get away with me
and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me
and
Work with me–watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll
learn to live
freely and lightly.”
Matt 11:28-30    (The Message)

Doesn’t that sound nice?  The invitation from Jesus, Himself:

Come. Rest. Recover. Learn grace and freedom.

I want to go. rest. recover. and learn grace and freedom from Christ, Himself.

I also want to invite others to come. rest. recover. and learn grace and freedom.

This is a beautiful picture of the Christ that I worship and the Christ that I long to be like.

Vacation in the Smoky’s

We just got back from a sweet little vacation to the Smoky Mountains.  Here’s some pictures and a bit of story.  It was an adventure!

We started out our vacation with a trip to the doctor.  Abby had these strange bumps all over her face that looked like the measles.  She had been screaming for two days.  Turned out to be a double ear infection and 30 mosquito bites.  Glad we went to the doctor, though.  I had forgotten that I took her outside the night before around midnight to try to quiet her screaming. Thank you, Delta, may I never underestimate you.

In order to keep the girls a little happier, we stopped in Nashville on the way and stayed in a nice little priceline.com find.  We got a $200 hotel room for $55!  If you haven’t tried priceline, do!  Our first night in a hotel room with the four of us was a success.  It was really hard to get Sophia to go to sleep in a big bed all by herself.  She was so excited.  But, it was a good start to our trip.

Our first night in the Smoky’s we camped outside of Gatlinburg, TN.  All four of us in a large tent.  We did a test run a few weeks ago to make sure we could do it, and we were prepared.  What we weren’t prepared for, though, was a huge rain storm.  We arrived at our campsite on Saturday afternoon with blue, sunny skies and just enough time to set-up and get dinner before the bottom fell out.  I have no idea how much it rained, but let me tell you this: the floor of our tent was a waterbed!  I’m not kidding!  Under our tent was at least 2 inches deep, and you could slosh it like a waterbed. Thank you, NORTH FACE for making such great tents!  I tell you, I prayed so hard all night.  It thundered and lightening all night from about 8 to 8, but not a drop got in.  It was a long night, but totally fun, too.  I lied there watching the lightening, praying we would all be dry and safe, and thinking about how romantic it would be if the kids hadn’t have been there.  Shucks.  Instead, it was just frightening. We woke up a little cranky the next morning, tired of being in the tent, and a little worried about how the rest of the trip would go.  Sophia kept saying that she was ready to go home.  So, we hopped into the car and headed into the mountains.  No schedule, just adventure.  We did a lot of hiking and exploring and were gone about 12 hours.

On Monday, after an exhausting hike and a bear sighting, we made it to Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, TN.  Gatlinburg is an absolutely beautiful mountain town with it’s share of huge tourist traps.  The Aquarium was breathtaking, though.  The tanks were immaculate, huge and so clean.  It was only second to being in the water with them.  The best part was a slow conveyor belt ride under/through a huge shark tank.  They were all around us.  At one point, I noticed two swordfish laying on the ceiling above us, and started laughing uncontrollably.  The enormity of it was unbelievable and put you into a sort of trance that made you feel like you were in the water with them.  Breathtaking, really.  Sophia didn’t quite appreciate what all she was seeing, and she definitely didn’t care for the sharks, but it was really something to see.  The pictures don’t do it justice but here’s a few.

Overall, we had a wonderful trip.  It was restful, it was fun, it was so enjoyable to be with our family.

Let me tell you about our trip home, though.  Here’s a story.  Monday night we got ourselves prepared to leave early Tuesday morning for the long drive back.  We hoped to make it home in one day.  It was a terribly cold night, and Abby woke up 6 times through the night.  Abby, my princess, does not know how to soothe herself back to sleep.  Throughout her life, I’ve done what works, and nursing works.  So, Monday night I nursed her 6 times through the night, the 6th time giving up and letting her sleep with us.  We all slept in a bit that morning, feeling somewhat rested and also somewhat cranky.  What a night.  With a positive attitude and a sweet, encouraging Daddy, we packed it all up, muddy tent and all, and headed out of town.

About 30 minutes into our journey home, we stopped at a local coffee shop to jumpstart our departure only to realize that Will’s wallet was missing.  In the middle of Gatlinburg in this small coffee shop’s parking lot at 10 a.m., we unloaded the van and went through everything.  No wallet.  We went through every bag, under every seat, in every pair of pants he wore.  Nothing.  We called the campsite and the last few places we were the evening before.  Nothing.  No leads.  I took the girls inside.  We were all getting restless.  I got a latte.  Still no wallet.  I mentally prepared myself to call all the credit card companies and find us a hotel room for the night.  Then, as if an angel whispered in his ear, Will wondered if the wallet might be in a pocket inside the tent.  Could it be?  So, he took everything back out of the van again, took out the tent and found the wallet tucked inside.  AH, breathe.

We sighed, thanked God, got our coffee and got back in the car.  I was driving.  I was running on adrenaline.  Not 30 minutes from Gatlinburg on the way home is a town called Pigeon Forge.  If you don’t know it, think all the bad stuff about Branson, on only 1 strip of road.  We had to pass through Pigeon Forge to get to Gatlinburg on Saturday, and it took us over 30 minutes to get through the town driving at an average rate of about 3mph.  Apparently, there had been some sort of car show or a parade.  Now, I had fully planned to figure out how to drive around Pigeon Forge so that this would not happen to us again, but this sweet old lady who worked for the Park Service told me that all the tourists would be headed home on Sunday, and traffic through the week would be fine.

So, we headed into Pigeon Forge about 11:00.  We thought we’d stop for breakfast.  Fill up everyone’s bellies, and maybe they’ll all fall asleep.  It didn’t look too crowded, and after all, we found the wallet.  After a nice breakfast we headed back out to leave Pigeon Forge and head on our 8 hour trip home.  While we’re driving down the 1 strip of highway, we notice that there’s a firetruck or a police car at every light, blocking the left turning lane.  Will and I exchange nervous glances.  What’s going on? We see a billboard that says “Dont try church–Satan”.  Well, that’s weird. Then, we see two firetrucks in the middle of a stoplight with their ladders up and an American flag hanging down between them.  We look at each other again. Oh, crap. Now, the car show is still in effect apparently, camping chairs are still set up along the highway, we do not have any idea what’s going on.  Another parade perhaps?  We look up at the next light.  There’s another policeman.  And, at the next light, and the next one.  What is going on? Traffic is slowing down and I see far up ahead at the next light a firetruck pulling ahead of us.  Sophia says, “Caillou’s favorite toy!”  We watch the firetruck, and it pulls into the traffic light just ahead of us.  It stops, backs up, turns sideways, and blocks all traffic.  I watch the light turn red.  Traffic stops.  I watch the light turn green.  Red. Green.  Red.  Green. What the what?! Well, about 10 minutes later, we see a very slow line of about a hundred police cars.  Apparently, there was a funeral for an officer of the law, God rest his soul.  I mean no disrespect to his family, but we waited there for them to pass a good 30 minutes.  We finally left Pigeon Forge at noon.

We spent the rest of the day balancing when to stop for potty breaks, trying to induce naps, and limiting the amount of times we allowed “Yo Gabba Gabba: Volume 1” to loop on the cd player.  Here’s the short of the rest of the day: Sophia never napped.  Abby slept about an hour total all day.  We stopped in Jackson, TN, where Sophia got stuck inside some playground equipment at Chick-Fil-A.  Sophia had a poopy accident in the men’s bathroom while Daddy simultaneously had IBS, and Abby began a crying spell about 2 hours from home. Trying to soothe Abby, Will and I sang a medley of popular nursery rhymes only to be bombarded with a screaming, crying Sophia.  Both children echoed each other with tears and screams, and for the last 45 minutes from home, Will and I sang the one song that kept them both quiet: Old MacDonald had a Farm.  On this farm, he had a whole lot of funny things that shouldn’t belong on a farm, and we had a whole lot of laughs.  Ah, family vacation.  😉

A trip to the zoo