Thursday, July 30, 2015

A week of vacation (bible school)

vbs2015
vbs 2015
This week is Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church. It's Serene's second VBS (her first one last year was a special one) and she is loving being around so many friendly little ones. This year, she actually attempts to dance (i.e. wave her hands in the air. clap, or stomp her feet) along to the songs, which prompts Alex and me to foolishly grin and laugh like exceedingly proud parents. So grateful our children have the privilege of growing up hearing beautiful gospel truth on a regular basis so that they might follow Jesus one day. Since Serene is at VBS for four hours every day this week, I feel like I'm on vacation too with just one babe during that timeframe. Valor is twelve weeks, so I'm not serving on staff this year and we didn't enroll him in the Babies/Toddlers class with his big sister. Instead, I've been toting him around as I spend time with other mama friends I don't get to see often due to the hullabaloo of everyday life caring for our respective families. We've gotten to chat our hearts out, eat breakfast at local eateries, and even visit a thrift shop. This time fellowshipping with others has been such sweet refreshment to my soul. Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of VBS!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sand and surf in swell company

valor's first beach trip at 10 weeks
serene at 21 months
valor's first beach trip
valor's first beach trip
valor's first beach trip
valor's first beach trip at 10 weeks
valor's first beach trip
serene at 21 months
valor's first beach trip
serene at 21 months
valor's first beach trip
serene at 21 months
valor's first beach trip
Our family friends hosted a birthday beach bash for their daughter last week, which was an opportune reason to go seaside for the first time this summer. It was also Valor's inaugural jaunt to the beach; we weren't sure if we'd end up going that afternoon because we didn't know how he'd fare after getting his shots earlier that day. He took them like a champ, thankfully, so we got bask in sublime mid-70s degree weather along the shore. Serene was not a fan of the sand and tried with all her might to walk on as little of it as possible with the tips of her toes. She preferred to sit on a towel and play contentedly with sand toys, while Valor snoozed soundly to the waves' natural white noise. Both babies were pretty laid back, which meant I got to relax on the sand with them while Alex swam in the ocean. Though we stayed for only about an hour, we had a grand time enjoying sand and surf in swell company. The community God has given us is such a gift. He continues to use them to show us how kind He is in creating us to thrive in relationship with Him first and foremost, and with one another. We are blessed to have so many loved ones to speak into our lives as we navigate these different seasons of our lives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Adjusting

valor at 9 weeks
valor at 9 weeks
serene at 21 months
valor at 9 weeks
valor at 9 weeks
serene at 21 months
valor at 9 weeks
valor at 9 weeks
serene at 21 months
valor at 9 weeks
We're easing into a rhythm with two kiddos under two years of age that includes (!) getting back into the full swing of ministry, social events, and the like. Praise God. The day whizzes by; there is always a need to tend to. I wish I had more arms sometimes, but I am thankful for babywearing, which allows me to do as much as possible hands-free yet still keeping the baby close. It is so sweet to be so needed by both babes. I must bottle this all up and remember how there is nothing quite like raising children. God keeps teaching me how I must die to myself daily and how much we need grace and the gospel in the midst of it. A friend who has observed me in different roles since graduating college commented when he came to visit a few weeks ago, "You seem truly happy now." While I am exhausted by the time my head hits the pillow at night, I am rejoicing. It is the kind of joy that is laced with trials and toil, which makes it deeper, fuller, and more treasured.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Freedom rings

fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
fourth of july 2015
When the fourth of July rolls around, I am reminded not only of the freedom we have in America, but also the freedom I have in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Though I was in bondage to sin and destined for eternal death, Christ freed me when He died on the cross and rose again on our behalf so that I might taste everlasting freedom in knowing Him. How sweet God's grace is to a wretched sinner like me. His mercies abounded this past Saturday in the form of dear family friends, an amazing seafood feast, decadent homemade desserts, and gorgeous warm but breezy weather, all which made for a memorable day of commemorating the freedoms we ought not to take for granted. I hadn't felt so relaxed in the longest time. Hope your Independence Day was just as or even grander!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Letters to Valor: 2 months

valor zeal at 2 months
My dear Valor Zeal,

You're two months, my little love! You're growing squishier by the month, which we find exceedingly endearing. You weigh 12 lbs and are 22 inches long. You wear size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothing. Your feeding and sleep patterns have become more predictable, for which we are more grateful than you can comprehend. You stopped cluster feeding (for now) throughout the night at the beginning of the month. Nowadays, you're nursing every two to three hours during the day for up to fifteen minutes per feeding (so efficient!), and averaging every four hours at night for fifteen to thirty minutes per feeding. Nursing is a cherished pastime for us both. They're instituted spells for me to unwind from the day's frenzy and focus on bonding with you. You curl your body snugly around mine in sweet contentment. When I'm not simultaneously entertaining your big sister with stories and songs as you feed, I steal some time to memorize your newborn features (the peach fuzz on your head; the creases on your thighs). At night, you either sleep beside us, swaddled with your arms out or in your bassinet. You're sleeping longer stretches at night, averaging three to four and a half hours (five hours twice)! Your daddy and I are giddy whenever we get at least a four hour stretch. Your daddy puffs out his chest and proclaims, "I feel like a champ!" We're less zombie-like this month since you distinguished between night and day.

Now that you're more awake during the day, you're getting acquainted with the world. You stare bright-eyed at your surroundings. You discovered your voice at seven weeks. It's the cutest to witness you go from newborn grunting to vocalizing with "mhm," "urh", "oo," and "ah." You smile more often when you're milk-drunk or when you're asleep, but you're beginning to charm us since you turned seven weeks with fleeting smiles while you're awake, although we must wildly entertain you with inflected chatter and exaggerated facial expressions to earn them. You are content to practice tummy time for short increments of time. Your neck muscles are getting stronger as you do. You're nearly able to pull your head up vertically. Right now, you can lift your head up half to three-quarters of the way up. You enjoy being on your back to track the colorful dangling shapes on your baby gym. You love when your daddy gives you a warm bath. Most of all, you crave being in my arms. You settle down for a nap only when I cradle or wear you to sleep. Whenever you're fussy, the pacifier helps, white noise helps even more, and my holding you close helps most. If I put you down after you to doze off, I lay with you so you can intuitively burrow your face and body into my side before falling into a deep sleep. You constantly desire to be held, considering your chair, bassinet, and bed lackluster substitutes for the comfort and security of my arms. Therefore, you get worn a lot during the day as I juggle caring for you and your big sister. I confess it's trying at times to hold you often. Please be patient with me as I learn that God is teaching me how to be joyfully sacrificial in motherhood. At the end of the day, it is the absolute most darling thing that you must be as close to me as often as possible. Your sweetness melts my heart. I know these days of carrying your littleness will be gone before I know it.

I already feel like you're growing too fast. Besides your teeny expressive feet, your chubby cheeks are probably my favorite feature of yours. I could kiss them all day long. Most people are convinced you're the mirror image of your daddy. You definitely seem to have his eyes. You have my ears. We're unsure of everything else right now. We'll see as your features and personality develop in the coming months. Until then, we are enjoying your adorable squishiness. We affectionately call you "boo boo" around here. Your big sister loves to squeal "Hi boo boo!" first thing in the morning and "Bye boo boo!" before she goes to bed. Her greetings are always accompanied by kisses. Know that you are so dearly loved by us all. We are so excited to watch you grow.


Love you so,
Mama

P.S. Valor Zeal at 0 and 1 month. Plus, his birth story.