Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Wow! Rhys is THREE!!!
Sometimes I watch Rhys, and I just cannot believe how much he's growing!!! Tall enough to reach the kitchen counter tops! {Current stats: weight - 31 lbs; height - 36 3/4 inches} It's wonderful, but it's also a little sad to see him truly growing up before our very eyes!! Taking him to preschool has been SUCH an eye opener this year. His vocabulary and usage of words has expanded exponentially! He is so much more INDEPENDENT, which continues to be my goal this year...to encourage independence in all things!!! We're also focusing on learning the alphabet, numbers and memorizing Scripture verses each week this year. I stand AMAZED at how well a two and three-year-old can memorize! I trust, too, that the Lord is penetrating Rhys' sweet heart with those verses of Truth!!! My heart, too! Mommy-hood is so edifying and rewarding! I have MUCHO to learn!!! I praise the Lord for where he has Rhys in our lives!!!

Speaking of the birthday boy, here are some recent things he's been up to...
Notice he's wearing his heavy coat indoors, below. Rhys is very cold-natured, like his mama, so he likes to wear his coat inside on colder days! :) He's opening Mommy & Daddy's birthday gift to him here...
Y'all be sure to take note of Russell's choice of wrapping paper. He couldn't find where I'd stashed our wrapping paper, so he 'made do.' :)
Rhys didn't care! He loved his new remote control monster truck! :)
Then, we were off to visit Baba & Mama Nili & Aunt Soraya, who gave Rhys this awesome remote-control helicopter, a light saber, other fun toys and gifts...
Zeke is here because Pappa & Grandmom are visiting with us this week.
Then, for the birthday party, we had some sweet little friends over to help celebrate Rhys' turning THREE! It was a great evening! Lots of good food, yummy cupcakes and sweet memories!
Rhys got some great BOY books - trains & trucks!!!
A missile launcher!!!
A 4-foot firetruck puzzle!!!
And Pappa and Grandmom spoiled our big man with his very own "computer," a Leapster Explorer, which is awesome because it will be an educational tool for years to come {for Caleb, too! :) }!!
Rhys has had a VERY celebrated 3-year-0ld birthday!!! We PRAISE our LORD for his life, and we are THANKFUL to share life with him!!!

Happy happy birthday, Rhys!!! May you get to enJOY many many many more pleasurable years on this earth!!!! We love you, sweetheart!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Caleb - 16 & 17 months

Here is Caleb's two-month post! That is, covering the last two months of his life! "Caleb, I do not love you any less, due to less posts on your monthly updates! I just choose to spend that time with you and not on this computer!" {And sometimes I just can't get to this computer! ;) Two little ones always tag teaming for Mommy's UNdivided attention! Whew!}
Caleb, your personality and 'spunk' are absolutely beautiful and handsome all at the same time! You are rough and tumble! You run until you fall down! You are forever bumping your head on things! Yesterday, you hit your head HARD on Rhys' bed, and not 30 minutes later, you were running toward your bed, and you tripped and hit your head on it! Poor guy! You hardly cry! You are so tough! You just pick yourself up and go! I can appreciate that quality, but it sure is different from my {very} cautious nature. Whew! You are our Caleb! What more can I say?

Recently, you have more teeth! I'm surprised to see molars coming in before the rest of your front teeth, but your front teeth are catching up, thankfully! You're able to eat crunchier things, like your chewable vitamins, chunks of apple, crunchy granola bars, etc. You LOVE cream cheese & sausage filled crescent rolls any time of the day! Your typical day consists of oatmeal for breakfast, a cereal snack or granola bar for mid-morning snack, a grilled cheese sandwich, yogurt &/or apple slices or apple sauce for lunch, and maybe a filled crescent roll for afternoon snack and you typically eat whatever Mommy & Daddy are eating for dinner.

You also still drink lots of milk (maybe 15-20oz/day), grape juice, apple juice, orange juice...you're really not picky. You surprise me at the variety of foods you'll eat {b/c I'm used to a pickier eater with your brother}, but I am thankful!! Keep up the healthy appetite, son! You have lost weight! You are down to the 10th/20th percentile in your weight category; 50th/75th percentile in height. So, you've gotten all skinny on us! Too, you've been sick a LOT, recently. Poor guy, you've had a stomach bug, two or three fever viruses and a sinus infection in the last couple of months. So, you've not had a huge appetite for anything but IBUPROFEN during those tough weeks. Praise the Lord, you are well NOW. :) I pray for wellness over you and your brother every day, sweet man. Winter weather just brings on a lot of colds!

A quick note on your napping, I'm pretty certain you are transitioning from two to one nap per day. You do well to get a cat nap in mid-morning, even if it's just 10 minutes, but I am trying to not let you nap much longer than that so that you will take a longer nap around 1/1:30 while Rhys also naps. That makes Mommy's life MUCH nicer!! :) I really enjoy some down time each afternoon to 'reboot' prior to evening time. We put you to bed at 7p most nights, and you're recently sleeping in until 7a or just after most mornings. You're a great sleeper! I am thankful. I know you need that rest in order to continue developing into the strong boy and man that you are and will be!!

You've been trying out new things, Buddy!! You've colored with our {very washable :)} markers!
You are SUPER active during your awake time, so I'm thankful for the many fun and educational toys we have during these cold {INDOOR} months!! Like this piano-like toy that lights up and plays nursery rhymes at the push of a button...
You are recently interested in reading {or maybe just holding books :)}, so I've been trying to be more intentional to read to you and Rhys during the days and nights.
You and Rhys enjoy interacting with each other over meals. One thing that you do that I'm REALLY trying to 'break' you of is throwing your food and drink onto the floor when you're done with it. Although I know that this is a temporary habit, it really 'irks' me! {Especially when I've JUST swept or mopped the floor! I know, I know...it's such a heart issue for me...but, whew!}
You LOVE to climb all things! When we play outside, you make a mad dash for the front steps! You're great a climbing up by yourself, but we need to work on your decline!! Whew!
You learns LOTS from your big brother! :) Here is your first lesson on sticks, I presume...
And you stick EVERYthing in your mouth! {surely, THE reason you've been sick so much!!!}
You are just now showing interest in riding your & big brother's 4-wheeler. I have a feeling you're gonna be tearing through the yard very soon on that thing! {Another "Whew!" from a nervous mama's heart! :)}
And this final picture says it ALL, Caleb! "I WANT MY WAY, AND I WANT IT NOW!!!!!" Sorry, son, I'm not putting you down in any way by sharing this part of your conquering, choleric spirit. We all have a bit of this in our spirits. I just pray that the Lord will continue to help me & Daddy 'reign' in that temperament so that you use it to His glory.
Caleb, you are such a joy. You are a gift to my life and to the life of this family! I enJOY watching you play independently and with Rhys and with others! I continue to look into your life in awe and amazement at God's goodness and mercy!! I pray you come to know our God at an early age, become so on fire for His glory and totally live your life for Him!

Daddy & I love you with every ounce of our being and look forward to many more months and years with you, son!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy Jesus' Birthday 2011

I had an encouraging conversation last month with an acquaintance who, with his wife, has raised their children in hopes of celebrating the Truth of Christmas at Christmas. I have been praying specifically for clarity and direction in how we are to celebrate Christmas with a firm focus on the truth of celebrating our Savior Jesus' birthday and, at the same time, not being legalistic in my/our view of Santa Claus. I want our children to enjoy but also understand the truth of St. Nicholaus and what the world 'makes' of him in the magnification of Santa Claus. All that said, in ending my conversation with my friend, he waved and merrily said, "Happy Jesus' Birthday!" as we parted. For me, that is such a neat verbal gesture to help me and thus my children 'get' what Christmas is all about!
Christmas was, indeed, a rich and sweet celebration in 2011. We started out with planning to celebrate Christmas on the actual day of Christmas (December 25th) this (last :)) year. For the last few years passed, we've celebrated Christmas {with Russell's parents and family} on Thanksgiving in order to be with all family, but this Christmas was different. It was more traditional, and I think everyone appreciated the change.
We started with a sweet Christmas party at Rhys' preschool:
Daddy & the boys...
Rhys opening one of his Christmas goodie bags. There were sooooo {TOOOOOO} many goodies!!! That's all Rhys asked for morning, day and night until I finally got smart and HID the goodies from our kitchen counter! :) Oh, yes, out of sight, out of mind! So true!!!
Then, we spent some fun time with my family. Baba, Mama Nili & Aunt Soraya enjoyed giving some really thoughtful toys, pj's and things to the boys, and Russell and I were spoiled, too!
My favorite part of opening gifts is watching the boys' faces! Rhys literally learned what a 'gift' is this Christmas! He was ready to open ALL gifts {even the ones we wrapped for others!} once he opened his first one! :) Cute kiddo!
Rhys opened a HUMMER!!! Yay!!! Then, he went up to Baba Nili to give him a thank-you hug. :)
Caleb got a fun, educational helicopter to help him learn to count, which both boys are enjoying!
We've had some good family visits with my parents and sister at their store, recently, and the boys have FUN playing on all the rugs! It's like a giant gym for them! :)
(I had a stomach bug in the above pics, so I looked as bad as I felt! Not fun, but I was trying to wear a smile!! :))

Then, we went to Mississippi, where we spent time with Russell's family:
Pappa & Grandmom had a beautiful Christmas tree!!!
Of course, the kiddos {& adults} were curious about all the gifts until Christmas morning!! :)
Then, finally, Christmas morning came! Sierra, Caleb and Rhys were lavished over with fun toys and trinkets, etc.
They got toy airplanes in their stockings, so Pappa gave a lesson on how to fly them! :)
Caleb got a great alphabet train toy, which teaches numbers and the alphabet! I'm ALL about educational toys for our kiddos! Rhys has just as much fun with this great gift, and he is learning a lot!
Rhys got more trucks, tractors, Matchbox cars, a Matchbox car carrying case, etc! Whew!
We all had a fun morning, reading the Christmas story, watching each other open gifts, then indulging in Grandmom's yummy Christmas morning breakfast. No one goes hungry in Grandmom's kitchen! :) She was cooking morning, day and night for DAYS while we all enjoyed visiting, playing and all those fun times!! "Thank you, Grandmom!!"
Then, that evening, the kiddos and Aunt Tami set to baking cupcakes in order to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, which I think really helps us all "get" the purpose of Christmas' celebration that much more.
Uncle Todd & Aunt Kristie (Russell's little sister). :) Caleb could not have been more happy than in Uncle Todd's arms! So, "Uncle Todd & Aunt Kristie & Sierra, we need to get our families together more often!!!"
And a sweet memory to capture of these sweet playmates...Cousins Rhys & Sierra.
And the three grandkids.

Christmas 2011 was a sweet time with friends & family, perhaps with new family traditions. I hope sinus infections is NOT one of those family holiday traditions, as we ALL came home with sinus infections, rushing us all to the dr/pediatrician from Mississippi to Alabama shortly after Christmas. Whew! Glad to be on this side of that! "Thank You, Lord Jesus, for health, wellness and even for medications!"

I hope and pray that you and yours had a Happy Jesus' Birthday and a great start to 2012!!!!

Catching Up on Ending 2011 & Beginning 2012

I rarely blog anymore, but I do feel a twinge in my gut as memories happen {EVERY DAY!!!!}, and I'm not recording them in any way! So, about every other month, my guilt wins {thankfully!}, and I get to it! So, here I am...trying to catch up, and surely not capturing it all. Well, here goes...

2011 was a good year! I can look back and am so thankful for where God has had us!

Physically, in our current house, neighborhood, city, state and, truly, most of all, our church!

Spiritually, I've been able to finish one study of the Bible (chronological) in one year and moving into a new one (M'Cheyne One Year Plan), which I'm really excited about {and Russell's doing the same one, so we should be able to have good conversations around our Bible study}; Rhys is quoting his weekly Bible verse every morning, just before he gets his yummy vitamin; Caleb gets to hear the weekly verse, for now, as he gums his vitamins. :) And I'm trying to be diligent to read to Rhys most nights from a couple of children's books that focus on Scripture and a moral lesson from the Bible. He typically plays with cars while I'm reading and trying to get him to participate here and there. Both boys also LOVE their Sunday School classes, and Rhys LOVES his preschool (he currently goes 2 days per week), and I see how God truly loves on their sweet hearts when I've picked them up, and they are so filled from their time in those classes. I am thankful!

Emotionally, honestly, I just see how God is growing me more to walk in His Truth, not so much in my fleshly emotions, which I can SEE is so important because that pours into my family...our precious, vulnerable children and my husband who needs a strong, courageous and supportive wife, not an emotional burden! I praise the Lord for His truth and for the reality that we can be emotionally secure and stable in Him!

Mentally, I am thankful that God has impressed on Russell's heart the importance of intentionally seeking out edification in how we spend our evening hours. We've both developed {or realized} a craving for reading! We terminated our subscription to Netflix and have started to read more in the evenings. We slacked in this area during the holidays, but I look forward to finishing a current book and delving into new ones this new year. I also need and hope to be more diligent to read more to our boys so that they will develop a love for learning through reading.

We are just excited and thankful...as individuals, as a couple, as parents, as a family! God continues to reveal His good, perfect and pleasing will to us in His timing and as we seek Him. This new year, I look forward to getting more plugged in through our church in ways of serving and in social ways, just to get to know our like-minded family!

Well, enough of the journaling! Here are some sweet pics of the last couple of months of 2011:

Meet Caleb, our fearless man who gets into anything! :) This is a very descriptive picture of him!
And Rhys, our man who tries to do all things right! Even likes to brush his teeth several times throughout the day!!
This moment is so worth capturing...to remind ourselves years from now how Caleb would sift through our garbage and pick up any boxes or anything else of interest and run around the house with it until we'd catch him and say, "No! No, Caleb. No playing in the garbage." :) Our little garbage man.
We've spent a LOT of COLD days playing indoors:
Warm baths have been a great, clean activity!! :)
Rhys LOVES to play with Matchbox cars/trucks. He gets SO focused on organizing and moving them that he forgets life exists outside of his mind! I love it! It is precious to watch him focus!!
For the most part, the boys play well together, but, like all siblings, we deal with our share of rivalry. I am CONSTANTLY seeking the Lord for wisdom in how to discipline them and for His supernatural love and patience in the process.
Christmas crafts. :)
Fun at meal times...

A family venture to our FAVORITE: Jim n Nick's!!!
Just a cute memory to capture here...Rhys is extremely COLD nature, like his mama, and this is how he likes to travel day or night in the winter months. Blanket all the way to his chin, lovies in hand. :) A man after my own heart! I appreciate warmth, too!
On warmer days, we break away to a local playground! It's been neat to 'get to know' Caleb's personality as he's gotten older. Rhys is definitely more cautious, again like his mama. Caleb is fearLESS! I am fearFUL for him! He just goes and thinks later! 'Reigning him in' has proven more challenging. Whew! It's amazing how different siblings can be!

And more indoor play...
Daddy built a fort over Rhys' bed with an army blanket, which the boys enjoyed one cold Saturday morning.
Rhys is a social eater. He just wants to eat when anyone is eating and pretty much whatever anyone, especially Daddy, is eating! :)
And we've done LOTS of traveling in the last couple of months. Back and forth to Pappa & Grandmom's in Mississippi several times, local visits to friends', my parents' and Granny's, etc.
Another memory to capture. :) Caleb kicks his shoes off, then pulls his socks off first thing when we get into the car! I'm learning to load him up sock-less & shoe-less, even in the recent frigid temps, and just put his socks & shoes on his feet at our destination! :) Thankfully, yet another TEMPORARY phase! Ha!!
More outdoor play when we can! I LOVE the SUNSHINE!!!!
2011 was a good year, and I look forward to living out 2012 with this precious bunch! The last couple of months have gone by super fast. Thus, the super fast 'catch-up' post of pictures! Whew!