Mid Summer Update

I stole this beautiful shot from my brother in law Jesse, it was too good not to use for a summer update post!

I can't really believe that it's July already and we are well into summer now!  The weather here is FINALLY summer like and we have been enjoying sunshine and blue skies.  I think this past June was the busiest one we've ever had.  It sure felt like it.  We had 3, week-long, activities that consumed most of the month.  We kicked it off with a great family vacation, then VBS and finally camp!  I've been trying to just wrap my mind around all that has happened in the last month and I'm struggling to grasp it.  So here is a quick update, before I forget what the summer of 2011 has held for us so far!

The kiddos are growing like little weeds!  Right before our eyes, Ava is becoming a little girl.  She can talk in sentences now, saying things like:
"I go get it, Mommy?" 
 "Oh no, Carty crying. I check on Carty?" 
 "I want some juice, peaze! Ava have cheese slice?"
"Ava go to park and play on slide, right now!" 
 "Dat's a truck, right dare!" 
"Daddy go to work.  Be home a little bit layder."
"Mommy, I swim in* puel*??"  (*Pool* Her version of that word rhymes with fuel! ha ha!)
She is becoming a big helper to me, but as quickly as she wants to help she also struggles with knowing her limits :) Carter is not out of danger when she is around now.  He shows signs of wanting to play with her which she interprets as her opportunity to put things on his head, to push him over, etc.  We're walking a fine line these days between innocence and aggression.  Not to mention, the minute by minute reminders to "listen and obey", which go unheeded about 50% of the time. 
But, for all of the struggling that comes with a 2 year old,  there are twice as many times that we find ourselves totally overcome with joy watching her take in the world.  She has tender heart that is easily thrilled over the discovery of Carter smiling in her direction or the sight of Daddy's car coming home from work.  She loves her little babies with all of her nurturing instincts and she keeps me on my toes with her piles of "treasure" that she likes to carry around the house.  It's not uncommon to catch her with a purse on her shoulder, a baby under her right arm, her blankie under her left arm, a bag in her hand and two different shoes on her feet.  She makes me laugh with her incessant babbling and singing, not to mention her whole body dancing moves!  In public she is a little bit shy, but as soon as she warms up to new people or new situations, it doesn't take long for the entertainer in her to come out!
Bedtime with Daddy is a highlight of Ava's day.  Actually, anything with Daddy is thrilling!  She just goes bananas when he gets home and she talks about him all day when he's at work.  Daddy loves to read stories to Ava and this summer some of her favorites have been the Skippy John Jones books, mostly because Daddy goes all out in his best spanish accent.  It makes her giggle out loud :) We have taught her to pray with us at mealtime and bedtime, her routine prayer goes something like this:
"Thank You Jesus for this day, We love you Jesus, Amen."
If she's in a hurry to eat, it's more like:
"Thank you Jesus, this day, Amen!!"
We love it. 
She is a handful but I'm thankful she's our handful!  She is busy from the minute she wakes up until the minute her head hits the pillow.  Thankfully for us, she is still a great napper and a great sleeper at night.  After using all that energy all day, I think she even loves the chance to rest, often telling me "I tired Mommy."  She is currently into a little DVD that features some little kids singing classic Bible songs.  She and Carter are glued to it when it's on and now we catch her singing those songs all day long.  She particularly likes to sing about her "Right foot, left foot" from the song "Father Abraham" and all the lines from "I'm in the Lord's Army."  This summer has been one fun activity after another for her and she's handled all the traveling and transition very well.  She's incredibly flexible and can go with the flow, but I know she's happy to be just be home for awhile too!

Carter is undergoing just as much change as Ava these days!
He is in full discovery mode at all times of the day!  Everything is interesting to him and if it can go in his mouth, even better!  For the last couple months he has been in a perfect stage...The stationary stage :)
Just this past week, that has now gone out the window!  He is desperately trying to crawl, which he hasn't quite figured out, so that really just means he gets himself around on his tummy by scooting backwards or rolling somewhere. 
 It sort of works for him, but he's pretty frustrated right now and probably will be until he figures out to crawl!  Being upright in something helps, but even that only lasts for so long! 
He just wants to move like his sister!  It's fun to watch, but a little sad too as his baby days are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
He seems to be enjoying all of the time we are spending outside.  He's always up for a walk in the stroller, sitting in the grass or even playing in the pool.  Which cracks us up because he HATES to take a bath and yet for some unknown reason, the pool is fun to him??  He's definitely verbal when it comes to what he likes or doesn't like.  He babbles a lot now, we hear lots of  "da da da" and the other day he looked at me and mouthed the "mmm" sound, but I couldn't get Mama out of him yet :)
He's all boy in so many ways!  He loves things that move or make him move, balls, cars, etc.  He screams/yells when he's mad and when he's really ticked off, he grabs his shirt and pulls on it while yelling.  We refer to this as "going hulk" on us!  It doesn't happen very often, he's very smiley and good natured, but when it does, look out!  It's usually food related :)  He's just starting to really eat table food and it's hilarious to watch him.  He knows what he likes already and definitely what he doesn't!  If it's fruit or sweet, we're good.  Anything else, not so much!  But we're plugging away anyway and just hope that lots of reintroduction will do the trick.  He is a fan of the sippy cup, so I'm hoping to transition him to that faster than we did with Ava. 
With all the transition and the multiple places we've asked him to settle in and sleep this month, he has done so well.  He is at a pretty easy stage and with a 2 year old nearby, our biggest concern for Carter is just keeping him safe!  I think it's only going to be a matter of time before he can "get her back" so we are already bracing for that!  Carter is such a cuddly, happy guy.  He's been such a peaceful presence since the Lord gave him to us and he continues to bless us.  I look at him and smile.  I'm so glad we have a little guy to love and raise!  He is quickly becoming a little blonde toe-head like his Dad was.  He needs a haircut and I'm sure the last of his dark locks will be gone.  Sad to see it go, but fun to watch him become a handsome little guy too.
The hardest part about this season in our lives is just that it's so...constant.  One or both of them need something all the time and there is rarely time for me to get a break or even take my eyes off them.  I know it's just a season, but I don't want to forget how hard it is so that I'll remember and be able to encourage other Moms through it!  Physically, I've never been so exhausted in my life.  I just always feel like I can't catch up and when my head hits the pillow each night, I can't imagine making it through another day.  And yet, I do.  God gives new mercies and more grace each morning and all day long.  Yes, it's hard.  Yes, I'm exhausted.  But ask me if it's worth it?  YES!!!  They are so worth it.  I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat if it meant I could be their Mommy.  Not much gets done these days, beyond the basics.  But I'm embracing that and doing my best to keep my plate as clear as possible.  It's just easier for everyone if I'm not tied up in extra stuff.  I'm grateful for a few regular things I have scheduled with friends.  It helps me keep my sanity!  I've learned to work things like that into my schedule, so that I don't have to do much outside our normal routine.  Travis is always willing to give me a break, but he doesn't have a lot of unscheduled time to work with either, so we just do our best to enjoy these days, long as they are :)
Thankfully we've been able to squeeze little pockets of time for us into our summer. 
Sunset ATV rides...
...walks to the lake... nights out, we're grateful for what we can get!  But honestly, the trick I think is to enjoy the messy, everyday, kid-filled days too.  Sometimes we do well with that and other times, we just survive the day.  It's easy to let the stress of this season be ever before us, the hard work lies in letting things go and granting each other lots and lots of forgiveness.  And that being said, some days are easier than others.  It's helpful for me to keep things in perspective and imagine us in 25 years from now :) If we don't take care of our marriage now, what will it be like down the road when our kiddos are grown and it's just the two of us again?  So with kids that cry and whine, a house that doesn't clean itself and energy that is lacking, we are putting one foot in front of the other and making the most of these little years!
We're making new memories as a family of four...
...going on adventures together...
...carving time out of a busy schedule for own little family...
...and cherishing every bit of this summer.
Good, bad, challenging and fun!
Because we've been given a great blessing in our little family of 4 and we are so very thankful for the two souls He's entrusted to us.
Most days aren't picture perfect, but what about life is?
The summer is flying by and so are our lives! 
Reading through the Bible this summer is reminding me how short the years we've been given are and so many of us waste what we've been given or miss what God is doing.  And yet, when it comes to His people, God's faithfulness is evident on every page and intertwined in every life, no matter how many times we fail Him.  He's our provider, our sustainer, our hope, our joy and the Holy One, the Redeemer.  Somedays we make much of Him, some days we fall very short.  I hope to look back on this summer, the summer of 2011 and see that in spite of our circumstances we took the road marked out for us and we gave thanks for it.  We walked through the hard stuff with humble hearts, grateful for the lessons learned, and the sins exposed that needed to be forgiven.  Oh that we would grant that forgiveness freely!  And finally, I hope that we can say we cherished the blessings along the way.  There are so many ways the Lord has made Himself known to us and ways He's moved mountains for us.  Keep it ever before me Lord!  Don't let me forget and spiral into the complaining and bitterness of the Israelites, over and over. 

I pray the same things for your summer too! 
We've got one month down and one to go before it all starts up again. 
Let's make the most of it...

1 comment:

Darla said...

This is such a great post, Stephanie! And what amazing pictures to capture the summer. Brian and I were laughing hysterically at the one with Carter's open mouthed expression and Ava's finger up her nose. What a priceless moment your brother-in-law got on film.