I know I've mentioned a lot lately about how we are enduring the terrible 2's in a big way with a certain little lady. While that's true, I do want to make sure I share some of the good things we are seeing too. In no way, would I classify this year as terrible, but I would say it's been challenging. I think we reached our first real "crossroads" with Miss Ava over the last few months as she tested us in just about every area. If I'm honest, there were days I didn't think I'd live through. God gave my Ava a very independant and strong will, which coupled with her inherited sin nature, has been a challenge to parent. As we've sought the Lord about how to parent and direct Ava, He has faithfully answered us. Yes I've read lots of books and asked friends many questions, but honestly the best parenting advice we've gotten has been directly from the Lord. When I went to the Word and dug out verses and passages about parenting, then prayed for the Lord to literally give me insight into Ava's heart, He revealed things I didn't know.
He's helped me see the unique parts of her personality and understand that she is the way she is because He chose those things for her. But more importantly, He's showing me things in me that need to change. Tones that I used with her that weren't conducive to softening her heart; patience that I withheld from her; and avoidance to discipline the way He commands. As I've watched her respond to our efforts, it's pretty clear when we are handling things well and when we aren't. In general, if I snap at her, she fights back. But if I calmly lay out the expectation, the infraction, the consequence, etc. then she responds to me. We've had days that are a struggle from begining to end and I know, those are always going to be there. But lately, I've been able to tell Travis that I see a real change in her. I get a lot more "Ok, Mommy" or "Yes, Mommy" out of her and just general obedience that wasn't there a few months ago. It hasn't come easily however, I've fought for it and Trav has fought for it. We know the Lord has an expectation of us and of kids to obey our authorities. So when the defiance rears it's ugly head, it's our responsibility to correct that in her and tend to the issues of her heart, not just her behavior.
So, I wanted to take the time to write down a few things she's doing and saying right now that make us smile. At almost 2.5 years old, she is developing and changing every day. She's talking in sentences and really understanding most of what we tell her. She's a big help to me with Carter and it warms my heart to hear her teachers at Church tell me how sweet she is :) I'm so proud of her! I know we have a long way to go and I keep hearing that 3 is much harder than 2, but regardless of how it goes I am encouraged to see firsthand that the Lord cares deeply about my role as a Mom. He wants me to rely on Him for the wisdom and knowledge I need to guide and direct my kids toward Him. When I'm in tears because Ava just won't listen and I'm at the end of my rope, He is there to remind me of my purpose, to give me the patience I lack and to help me get through the day without regret. He doesn't ask us to do things and then leave us helpless. I'm so grateful for a faithful Savior and for the chance to be a Mom.
I love both of my kiddos more than I ever could have imagined...
...But here are some sweet things I love about my little Ava right now...
In an effort to be helpful while I'm trying get everyone loaded up and out the door, Ava's new thing is to ask me, "I go sit on bench Mama?" She gets her things together, opens our door and then climbs up on the bench outside our front door to wait for Carter and I. It's very helpful actually and she loves the independence of sitting out there alone. I still get surprised when she asks me to do it and then I smile because it's fun for her and a big help to me. I'm always looking for ways to affirm her and build her up when she's trying to help. This makes it easy :)
This summer she was the queen of the slides! Nothing scared her, except the thought of a bug on the slide. Her frequent comment to me was, "No bugs on slide, right Mama? No bugs."
I don't know why the bugs freaked her out but they did!
As soon as she was good to go, however, she frequently told me "I go so fast!"
or "I do big slide at park wif Daddy, Mom!"
The little mother in Ava has really come out this summer, particularly with Carter. I love to overhear her with him. She says things like:
"OH No, Carty! Be careful!"
"Ohhh Buddy, buddy, buddy. Dats ok buddy, I help you."
"Carter, where are you? Come here buddy. I play wif you."
"Wanna go to da park Carty?"
But it's not just Carter who is the object of her mothering. Her babies are treasures to her, but none more than her baby Stella. Which is so fun because I just LOVE to hear her say "Stella" :)
It fun to listen while she's playing. I hear lots of repeating from my own mouth!
"Hi Stella! You have a good nap?" or
"Are you poopy? You need new diaper?"
Of course it's not all rosy when she feels her brother is invading her space! Then I hear lots of things like:
"NO! Dat's MINES!" or "Get down Carty!" "Don't touch!"
She's definitely got friends she asks for now, which is fun. Usually before I leave the room when I'm putting her down for a nap, she'll ask me "Can we go play wif Callan, maybe? Kylie? Connor? Cayden? Christian? Julia? Kaelem? Quincy? Rueben?"
Those are her people :)
One of our big battles is usually over hair. She would love for me not to touch it. Ever. For the most part I don't fight her, but I do insist on combing it at the very least. It's so cute when she let's me fix it, but often all I hear from her is..."Hurts Mommy. It hurts." Of course she says that when I'm 10 feet from her before I've even touched her head! Lately I've been winning the battle by reminding her that Repunzel lets her Mommy comb her long hair. That makes her pause long enough to let me comb it :)
She's recently figured out how to open the refrigerator, which is so fun for her. She's usually on the hunt for cheese and juice. She'll say, "I go get a cheese stick? Oh, Ok. Dat's good. Thank you." She spits the whole sentence out before I can get a word in, which basically leaves me with nothing :)
Lately this little girl lights up whenever I smile at her and come swooping in for a kiss. She crinkles her nose and giggles then says..."SOOOO MUCH!" because I usually say to her, "Do you know how much Mommy loves you? SOOOOO much!
She's very particular, like her Mother. She loves to play with her cars and line them all up just so. Her favorites are "Mader" and "Queen" from Cars :) She also loves the john deere tractors she has because she calls them "Grampy's jon deere trackers."
One of the craziest things this month is that she's totally figured out all of our dvd players. Sometimes she has them up and running before she even asks me, which is always a discussion, but secretly I actually like that she knows how to do this! It's helpful.
Her favorite things to ask for are:
"Watcha Tangled?" or "Watch cars?" or "Watch Elmo?" but she really like "New Barney" or "Barney Goes to Zoo." She still asks to "Watch Praise Baby" and now she even knows the names of them. The other day she asked me for "God of Wonders" although it took me awhile to figure that out :)
I love that she greets me every day with a "Hi Mommy!!" and a big kiss. When I ask her to do something these days, she answers me with an "Oh, Ok." which also makes me smile.
She LOVES her Daddy so much and today when we went to see him at work, she put something back in his desk drawer after he asked her to, then closed the drawer and said, "Sorry about dat Daddy."
Our hearts melted in a puddle on the floor.
She loves Carter and can't wait for the minute he wakes up each day. She runs to "check em" and then says, "Hi Carty!! Hi buddy! How you?"
It's precious and I hope as they grow older, her love for him only deepens.
After I took Carter's 10 month picture last month, in his rocker with the brown bear, this is how I found her a few minutes later. Taking the same picture with her baby and her toy camera.
There is so much I love about my baby girl. She is a delight and still to this day, a living, breathing reminder of God's faithfulness. I'm so thankful God gave AVA to us, when He did. I can't imagine life without her. We are so proud of her and love to see her growing in her obedience. I find myself thanking Him lately for allowing me to see progress and for the reminder that I cannot do this job of being a Mom without Him leading me every step of the way.
I love you Ava.
Thanks for being patient with your Mom :)