08 October 2014

Thayer August is 18 months old!!!

My big super-dude is eighteen months!! This is the age his sister was when she became a big sister! Although the first 18 mo of his life was pretty tough for me, I'm happy they're close in age! They're best friends. It is such a miracle to me, watching them play together and see him learn from her.

I think this age is one of the best! Well, obviously whatever stage your child is in is amazing to watch, but now that the hard part of learning to be a mom of two is mostly over and I can actually get myself together most days, it is incredible to hear Thayer's vocabulary grow by a few words almost daily! Those little minds, they astonish me regularly. Something about witnessing a toddler learn to talk is absolutely mind-blowing to me. 

So here is a list of *newER* words, some he's been saying a while now but it's been a while since I made a word list. There may be some overlap, since I'm. It checking which ones I typed up before. I'll just try to avoid the ones he's said the longest!

All done
Arden (pronounced Ahn-ae?)
Big boy
Bless! (When someone sneezes)
Bother-you (when "bugs" fly in his "eyes")
Bubby (for himself)
Flip-flop (wop-wop)
Night night

Thayer's 18 month stats:
Height: 35" - 97th percentile
Weight: 30.5 lbs - 92nd percentile

29 September 2014

*monday morning contemplation*

It's been a while since I have given this much brain space to the negative effects of our "background". Being at such peace and rest has become our "new normal", and putting behind us the bitterness and ugliness that took over our lives for about 4 1/2 years, has become less of a conscious effort. We gave it all to God knowing He makes beautiful things out of dust. And He really has...no doubt. Our lives, our amazing relationships, watching God move in our lives, our friends lives, and the community of Hope, has given us new wonder at His hand. But every once in a while the miracle of strength and peace and freedom overtakes me and I'm reminded of the contrast...back when I felt weak, troubled and wore a heavy yoke. This morning in prayer was one of those times and I took to writing those thoughts down.

 I am finding it interesting that in the last year or so, I have experienced peace, and felt and watched as God has moved in our life. The reason it's interesting is because we have come from a place of thinking we had the only thing God *really* approved of, yet then, our hearts and minds were consumed with worry, fear, gossip, tearing down those who weren't "with us". Thinking I knew what peace felt like, then pretending on the outside so it matched what I said I felt was a huge part of my deception. I know the deception first hand since I thought I had peace while arguing with my own Dad, who had been convicted to let go of the system before we were ready. Learning I was wrong and God's peace is nothing like what I thought it was, has been nothing but freeing. I always wondered, "is this it? Is this the 'peace'? I guess so since we are right, and hey, so-and-so has this problem and needs to read this verse" always concerning myself with the way others worked out their salvation. The best experiences of my life have been since I let go of being the Holy Spirit to others, and let His peace come over me as I trust Him with not just their lives, but especially my own. It is beautiful and breathtaking, life in Jesus. It's not a drag or a duty. This is new for me since service to Christ has always been associated with boredom (sitting in a chair on Sunday & Wednesday), monotony, and the chains of religion (having to "look the part"). Finding it has more to do with the love we have for others than the garments we wear, has put us in a place of rest. What if the churches we judged so harshly were hearing God's call, and He was busy doing His kingdom work through those churches while we sat in our comfy spots praising ourselves for having found the "right way to live", and condemning other Christians? It's really awful, remembering myself in that place of Pharisaic ideology. What I'm learning now is to live in a way that isn't comfortable for me. That includes loving those who I would have judged before--those who need God's love so much--and living that love with actions of God's love. The absolute hardest part though, isn't loving the homeless, the weak, the prostitutes, the ones living in obvious sin. I think the ones for me that are the hardest to love are those who have written us off, believing we have "gone south" and are "headed for destruction". It's those people who "can't be a part of" our life because of our differences. I need prayer, I need God, I need all the help I can get overcoming my struggle with wantjng to deal harshly and not with love, people who have hurt me. Often, seeing photos of particular individuals and activities bother me so much it feels like PTSD.  That may sound strong but it causes a physical reaction in my body that can't be described other than a visceral shudder. But my God is bigger than my pain, bigger than my heart that wants to remain hard in certain areas. Having eyes that have been opened, it is SO HARD to watch people you know and love defend it and avoid you, when you have done the exact thing to others. Leaving behind the toxicity of an environment presents the challenge of continuing to love those who are still within that environment and choose it over freedom. I'm in a process here and I will say it isn't the easiest stage of this growth I'm experiencing...learning to love those people that the wounded places in my heart wants to hold back from. Letting Christ live through me has some effects that I'm not always comfortable with. Having the courage to trust, to let Him take me to places I intentionally avoid, is a difficult part of surrender. Not too long ago I had the thought that it made life so much easier, to abide in Him, to let Him live through me. It takes the *trying* and *working* out, but it takes a whole lot of *trusting*, and this has proven to be easier said than done, given the controlled environment I have been used to.

My prayer is for forgiveness, for me and my stubbornness, and that I can forgive and love others who I want to turn a cold shoulder to.

27 September 2014

the process of learning...

I've been dreaming of owning a D70 (or just a non-quirky camera in general) for a while, not thinking it would happen any time soon. Every time I saw that Costco had the D70 kit in stock I would sigh, knowing it wasn't going to happen, but always felt a large wave of covetousness. :( This time, Drew found out they had it again, and surprised me by bringing it home to me! Although he says he is no good with surprises (I was suspicious of his odd behavior, and was being really difficult and unkind to him because I knew he was hiding something just by reading his texts... but I didn't know it was something GOOD(...that'll teach me to be a rude wife), I was totally shocked that he had bought me my dream camera for my birthday!

These are just me trying to learn photography, for once. I always bemoan the fact that I don't know anything about photography, so I stuck the thing on Manual when I got it, and I'm refusing to switch it to any programmed setting at least until I teach myself the technical side of a camera. I know I have the capacity, because anything I'm determined to learn, I will. So I have about a thousand random shots of stuff and blurry/bleached out kids, as well as quite a few totally black photos.....and while sifting through deleting those bad ones in my first batch of uploads, here are a few unedited shots I've managed to take! I know some of them are too dark but I still included them because I love the subjects.

20 September 2014


I have always loved fall. I'm not a fan of the fact it means winter is coming, but I LOVE cool days, camping, apples, pumpkins, sweaters, cider, cinnamon and beautiful leaves. And nothing celebrates fall better than spending a Saturday with some very sweet friends picking apples and sharing warm cider donuts!
someone swiped my latté and was very pleased with herself

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17 September 2014

Arden Quinn is three years old!!!

I am one proud Mama. Three years ago I gave birth to the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on. I loved her with my whole being from the moment I saw her. I just never imagined that she would cause my heart to grow to hold more love than I knew existed. Sometimes I look back at old photos and I can't even remember how she was when she was littler, because she's grown into such a precocious and grown-up girl!
The past three years have blown my mind. As a nanny with 2 years experience and prior to that, 6 years in various settings of childcare experience, I thought I *knew* how to be a parent. How to get a kid to do what they needed to do. How to potty train. How to sleep train. What I hadn't counted on was that I would have an attachment to my own child I could not have imagined before, and that I became a completely different person once it became real to me that I was the one making choices for a helpless child, and that it was essential for her growth and development that I admit I had no more of a clue than any other new parent. With the philosophy that hormones and instincts were created for a reason, and the fact that I had the fiercest desire to protect this beautiful gift we had been given, I transformed into a type of parent I had never met before. All because I had been given the honor and responsibility to nurture, hold and love a sweet, innocent, beautiful baby girl.

She is inquisitive.
She is bright.
She is beautiful.
She is active.
She is strong.
She is lithe.
She is happy.
She is perceptive.
She is smart.
She is loving.
She is every amazing thing I could have imagined in a daughter.

I am blown away by this girl daily. 

Her passions include art, ballet and chocolate chips. :) 

Her eyes sparkle and it makes me glad she knows what joy feels like. She's crafty and tricky and it makes me glad for her exceptional neural development. I am thankful she was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that He continues to work within her to cause her to grow more beautiful all the time, and that her body and mind continue to develop in a healthy and positive way. 
I am so proud to announce that she is totally free of diapers, after a year-long regression period. I don't have to worry about accidents anymore, her bed hasn't been wet in weeks, and now I don't even have to force her to sit on the potty in the morning as soon as she wakes up dry. I know it wasn't a "delay" but to be honest, I was a little embarrassed that she took so long. It was my fault she regressed so far and for so long. The first time around, she led the toilet training and was completely trained. It's hard for me to admit but after years of training two year olds to use the potty, I felt over-qualified and like it would be a piece of cake. The last girl I nannied I trained in one week, two weeks before her 2nd birthday. I knew my daughter was at least as smart as Caroline, and I was right. It was when some transitions came into her life so rudely, that she started to have accidents. And I didn't take it well, since I was adjusting to life with two kids...the more I criticized/punished, the worse it got. Until she had such a horrible association with the potty that she *only* peed and pooped on her clothes. It was my fault, and I'm sorry. I'm not sure if I had been more gentle and understanding if she wouldn't have continued to regress, but I know I played a part in making her transition to "big sisterhood" harder than it needed to be. And all the while I was priding myself on tandem nursing and "making it easy on her". I'm still very glad I did (the tandeming), as I hope it softened the blow of my criticism that she didn't "stay potty trained" at two years old

I'm sharing this because I hope it can keep someone else from making this mistake. Childhood isn't for competition. I have always known that children reach milestones at different times, but I let pride take me into a difficult situation because I *knew* Arden was advanced, and I *knew* how to let my child toilet train themselves "without pushing". I just forgot that last part when things went south.
All that to say, I'm SO proud of my daughter, and that she has a strong will. I'm glad my pride brought me low enough to realize my children aren't a "show pony" for me to display my amazing "early childhood development" skills. Any advanced development and beauty they have is nothing I did. I'm not the one creating synapses in those bright little minds. And also, I'm so happy I only have one in diapers again. I forgot how wonderful and easy it was!!!

favorite color: "pink"
favorite animal: "giraffes"
favorite place to go: "to the zoo"
favorite drink: "kombucha"
favorite food: "pizza"
favorite place to eat: "Chipotle"
favorite dessert: "yogurt"

09 September 2014

Arden's 3rd Birthday Party!

I procrastinated SO long in planning this party, mostly because Arden couldn't decide what kind of party she wanted to have. She went back and forth between tigers, pink dolphins, and giraffes. I brought up ballet classes one day, and asked her if she would like to go to ballet for her birthday gift. She immediately latched onto that, and decided she wanted a ballerina birthday too!

The first thing we got for her was a lovely leotard, tights, a skirt and the sweetest little leather ballet slippers! I had been searching for classes, but not seriously, and after I ordered her little outfit I realized there's a dress code at most places. I found one that was reasonably priced, and taught the class we wanted her in, for her age group, and it just so happens that their dress code matches what we already have!

Once we decided that ballet classes were something we were going to take seriously, since Arden is absolutely obsessed and ecstatic about all things ballet, always dancing with classical music, imitating the finest details of every movement she watches on various ballets we find on YouTube, we registered her to begin on September 11. That meant that she HAD to be totally potty trained. I'm sure I've written a long time ago that she was trained, and she was. But between having a baby brother, moving to a big girl bed, stress of getting ready to move, and moving, she decided she did NOT want to use the potty. Not because she didn't know how, but because she is independent and won't be told. Since it's not something I can enforce without delaying the whole process even more (it happened once already when she first regressed; it only got worse the more I tried to crack down), I quit trying. Went back to diapers and decided she would let me know when she was ready. Lately, she had been waking every morning with a dry diaper, so I knew she was absolutely capable. I used ballet classes as a bargaining chip, and for the last two weeks we have ONLY been in panties. Night and day. She has done very well, and I am so thrilled to be *BACK* to only one in diapers, after waiting about a year!

So about the party! Mom is planning to go to CA to meet Tamee's new baby when it comes, and she leaves the 13th! So in order to include her, we had to plan it for much earlier than the 17th! Also, Molly planned Chandler and Clare's birthday for the only Saturday we had, and we had planned on going there, and wanted them to have an opportunity to come if they would, so we planned it for the following day, Sunday, September 7th!

When I finally got a date and a theme idea, I created an invitation to send over email, since there wasn't time to print and send them in the mail!

We invited all of our community group friends (and only three couples could make it--Miller & Emily, Ryan & AnnaMarie, and Daniel & Liz with Kate! I'm so thankful for all the ones that came! They are all such special, amazing people that I just love having around our children), some Fredericksburg friends, and family! I was bummed that Clare and Molly didn't come, but almost everyone we invited was able to make it!
Arden couldn't decide if she wanted pink frosting or chocolate so I did both :) 

Beet juice colored the frosting for our lovely ballerina pink rose cake

pirouettes have to be served at a ballet party, right? ;)
I loved how the canvases and the tulle poms turned out!

At the last minute I decided I needed to do something with the leftover gold glitter fabric I used to make her A canvas (I mod podged that btw), and I love how the pointe shoe piece came out! I also made the wands for all the little girls; they LOVED the bells, especially the babies!
me, Liz & Emily

Joslyn & Steph

Chris & Miller

Happy FULL little house!!

Daniel, Kate & Joslyn (I realized just a bit ago that Kate and Joslyn are only a few weeks apart in age!)

waking slowly...

Chris & Lizzi

Arden & sweet baby Kate <3

Daniel asking Arden how old she is

She was so excited that she blew out the candles as soon as we lit them! <3 We had to re-light them so we could sing to her xD

Second time around :)
Mmmm....the one thing that never wavered when I asked her about her party was CHOCOLATE cake. Nothing else would be considered :)

Sweet ballerina friends! Arden, Edith & Abigail

Thayer is a little skeptical of the dancing going on in there. Ballet is not his style.

Waving goodbye to friends!

we opened presents after the small people left

I was so bummed that Theresa missed Arden opening the present from them...she got a phone call right as Arden chose to open it! I didn't even get any pictures of it, either. :( She did love it though! Nana knows her granddaughter-fun art supplies!!! :)

She was pretty thrilled with the princess box from Miller & Emily! 

Reading our new Angelina Ballerina book from Daniel & Liz, while she tries on all her fancy princess garb from James & Steph!
The other day she decided she needed a veil, after me getting out the tulle for the poms :) So I fixed one up for her to play with 

I'm pretty sure this little girl has never experienced more fun than she did with all her friends on Sunday! She looked so beautiful, and I am so proud to be her mama. She is growing up so fast, and I'm thankful for her sweetness.

More fun to come for her *actual* birthday!