Monday, May 30, 2011

A Stitch in Time

This blanket was made for Daddy by Henry's great, great, great grandma when Daddy was born.

Her name was Claudia R. Johnson, born July 31, 1895.  She died September 9, 1972, living to see her great grandchildren.  She was Ma's mother's mom...Daddy called her Grandma Claudi.

Grandma Claudi had 8 children: Oree, R.E., Earl, Merwin, Velma, Teresa , Nell (my great-grandma), and Pera (who married my great-grandpa's my grandparents double-first cousins!)

I wonder if she ever would have imagined her great, great, great grandson nestled in its folds when she quilted this.  She held my great Grandma in her arms.  She was Ma's grandma.  She made this blanket before my Daddy came into this world.  And now, 5 generations later, a new baby is bundled in the creases of its warmth.

I like that you can see her hand stitches closely here.

" have given me the heritage of those who fear your name." Psalm 61:5

No one in our family is perfect.  But that God has given us the heritage of men and women who have worked hard with their hands, loved their families, and served Christ- that is an unbelievable blessing to these generations that come after them.  We are blessed by the harvest of the fields they have sown.

May we walk in their footsteps...warmed by the work of their hands.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Letters to Carter

Dear Carter,

You seem to have hit a whole new developmental gear these days.  You are pulling up on anything that is strong enough to grab on to.  When we hold your hands to steady you when you stand, you pick up your feet and lean forward.  I can't believe I'm already seeing these little "practices" for walking.  You are still a baby!  I know it will be awhile before there are any "real steps", but it is amazing how much you are working and practicing every day to get stronger and more developed.  I am so impressed by you.  The way God knit you together blows my mind.  I've taken science classes that made me baffled at how the human body works and the miracle of the life God puts in us...but you are just taking that to a whole new level.  I could watch you and your little drooly self scoot around my kitchen all day long.

You are drinking from a straw now.  We tried sippy cups for awhile...and you did ok.  But you are an old pro at the straw.  Sooo much neater.  Well...sometimes you still stop mid-sip to open your mouth and milk falls everywhere...but that's okay.  I'm just glad you can use a straw for mealtimes...even though it makes you look a little older than I'm ready for.

You have this new face.  Your Daddy and I call it the "O" face.
The "O" face on your swing at Grandaddy and Andi's

You make this face while making all these long vowel and grunting's so funny!  Most of the time, you arch your back and face this sky while you make it...almost like you're howling.  It's so silly!

You are still squealing like a little girl who just saw Justin Bieber...the volume and force is almost alarming.  They told us that you do it in nursery until someone looks at you...and then you just smile at them.  I have no idea where you get that "hammy" side of you...probably your "strong, silent type" father...right? :)  Although I will say sometimes you just scream to yourself while you play on the floor.  That makes me laugh out which point  you look up at me with the "Oh" face and do your grunting that just sends me over the edge.  Oh, little boy, you are a joy!

You have a second tooth coming in just a day behind your first.  You'll have two bottom teeth all the way up before you know it.  It makes you look a lot older!

Though Edith the Roomba is your first love, your second just might be doorstops.  You could sit for hours and make the spring dance back and forth.  It's just the right entertainment when I need two minutes.  The funny sound lets me know you're still playing...and you've only ripped one out of the wall...there's plenty more! :)

We are having our first "obedience battle" sweet son.  You love to crawl to the oven and put your fingers on the storage drawer to try to pull up.  It is hot when the oven is on and could hurt you.  You don't know this and cry when I tell you "no" and move you.  You try to crawl right back unless I adequately distract you.  I've probably moved you back a hundred times now.  I bet I'll do it a hundred more.  You don't know yet that it's hot or that obeying me honors God.  This is just the first step of a million that we'll take together in learning to submit to authority.  One "no, no" at a time!

You have these little monster PJ's that your friend Will is letting you borrow that just seem to fit your little personality so perfectly right now.  Now that you are crawling and eating solids, you are dirty enough for a bath every night before bed.  Once you've been soaped and sufficiently splashed, dried, put in your little monster pjs...and your little hair that is trying to curl at the ends has been calmed down...once we read the book Aunt Sarah made you, a book we choose, and a story from your Bible Uncle Travis and Aunt Susanna gave you...we give you one last bottle and rock you.  There is nothing sweeter than watching you slip off until the only crazy thing left is those brightly-colored monsters on your pjs.  

Carter Steven Castillo, there is nothing better in this world than being your mama.


Sunday, May 22, 2011


Often, when I write these blogs, I feel pretty precocious.  It seems like a lot of the things I share are probably things some of you readers have learned decades ago.  To others of you, it probably seems a little pushy and judgmental...or ridiculous.  Though I do know there are people who can relate to what I am learning at the time (and whose comments are always appreciated :)), I know that I am in that "middle" stage of life.  I'm old enough to realize I don't know....almost anything.  I'm young enough to seek the advice of those further along than I am. I old enough to  be expected to know...something.  I'm young enough to know almost nothing.

I'm stuck a little in the middle.  

But I share what I'm learning...or at least some of it.  Partially because things make sense to me when I talk or organize them into writing.  (And goodness knows the people around me hear enough of my voice for me to give them a break by putting it into writing!)  It also gives me the chance to encourage people who might be where I am...or at least help them know they are not alone in it. 

Life lately has been...emotional.  As you saw, Henry came on the 13th.  Susanna had a good delivery, and Henry is perfect.  He is not my son...but I love that little bundle more than I can describe.  I knew I would love him...I just have never been an aunt before and didn't know what it would be like.  But holding my brother's boy...the first Hancock of that heart did more flippity-flips than I can describe.  Watching Travis and Susanna as parents is beautiful.  There is something about parenthood that fills out a marriage- and it is a blessing to see that in their home.  

We also found out that Pa has stage 4 lung cancer.  Pa is healthy and strong so the doctors are treating him with chemotherapy and radiation in hopes that they can get the cancer in remission.  But it is hard.  It is hard when someone you love has to face a difficult thing.  Waiting for scan/test/doctor's results is taxing on one's heart.  Pa is strong.  I don't know anyone stronger, actually.  He's been through enough of life to know through experience that God's hand and will are strong, sure and perfect.  Pa's strength steadies the rest of us that are younger, more uncertain, and more fearful.  

Welcoming a new life into our family at the same time that a disease was found in another is difficult.  It's hard to sleep at night...thinking through it all.  It's easy to go from rejoicing to worrying to smiling to crying to laughing to wondering....which is exhausting.  

We're working through James at church.  We've worked through the first 8 verses.  I won't walk you step by step through what I've learned, but what has resonated in my heart in the past week has been the idea of steadfastness.  Life can feel like a roller coaster, catching our stomachs as we plummet through trials, rush to emotional highs, lurch to the left in unexpected circumstances, jerk to the right with a situation we thought we'd never have to handle as we are gripping the handlebars, trying to maintain composure.  But as we see our lives in God's hand...and trust that He is good, sovereign, and powerful, we can see difficulties as reasons to rejoice.  Not because we are going to pretend to enjoy the trial.  Not because everything is going to turn out the way we want.  God doesn't tell us to be strong in trials...but He does promise that He will strengthen us (verses 2-4)  I don't have to figure out how to live in my current ups and downs in a way that honors God...He promises that He will give me wisdom (verse 5)  I don't have to be thrown by the winds that pull my emotions back and forth (verse 6)

I can be steadfast.

Verse 7-8 talk about how the double-minded man cannot expect to receive the aforementioned "wisdom through trials" from the Lord.  Our pastor explained that this word literally means "double-souled"...someone who is torn inside, uncertain if God really is good... control.  It is not someone who needs a reminder that everything is going to be okay...but someone who is truly unsure if God is...right.

I can be steadfast.

I know He is.  

I know that no matter what happens with Henry...Pa...or with all the other people, things, situations in my life...I can be steadfast because my God is unchanging.  

I haven't seen much of life.  But I've seen enough of my God to know that He is never unfaithful.  I don't have to summon up some kind of spiritual super-power to be steadfast and sure during this time of extreme joy and stabbing pain.  My God gives strength when we are at our weakest, unearned wisdom when things are hard, and the peace that comes from understanding that our Daddy has it all worked out for our good and His glory.

(Please excuse the random/lame environment pictures...the song is unbelievable...and I wanted you to be able to read the lyrics.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Henry Elias Hancock

Henry Elias Hancock arrived May 13th at 2:07 pm weighing 7lb 13 oz and measuring 20 1/8 inches. He has all the lovely wrinkles and crinkles of a newborn and the darkest head of hair.

Susanna was strong and brave during labor and was blessed with a delivery that was without complication.  We do praise the Lord for his protection though, as our little Houdini was born with the umbilical cord wrapped all around him and even knotted!  The doctor had to pause for a minute to figure out how to start untangling him!

Susanna and Travis are the best parents...taking care of each other and their sweet boy.  Their home is overflowing with love and precious baby!

Oh little Henry Elias...we love you so much and are so very gad you are here!

Waiting for a glimpse of our baby!

Photography-wise, this is taken through 2 panes of glass.  Heart-wise?  One of my favorite pictures ever.

Friday, May 13, 2011

1st gear

He's already chasing girls.  Thankfully, we love this little lady.  She loves to clean, is faithful to our little family, and encourages Carter to work hard and pursue her.

Her name is Edith.  We love her little Rommba self.

Way to go Carter!  You're just a little bit older and a little more accomplished today :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letters to Carter

Dear Carter,
You'll never know how much you make me smile.  There are a million times a day you make me laugh out always give me this peculiar look, wondering why I'm making such a funny sound!  I love spending my days with you.  When your daddy comes home, your little arms and legs pump up and down, so excited to see him.  It melts his heart!  When you cry at night or in the car, all I have to do is hold your hand.  It melts MY heart that us holding hands makes everything better.  

You're "talking" all the time now.  You still love the "bababa" sound, but you spend most of your time shrieking!  It's the funniest almost sound like you're screaming in anger, but you do it all the time.  Everyone always says, "Wow, he's found his voice!"  I wonder if you'll have a lot to say when you start "really" talking, or if this is just a phase.  I have a feeling we might be competing for air time soon :)

Your crawling is really taking off....but you are seriously frustrated about it!  You just can't quite get everything to work the way you want it to.  You either accidentally push yourself backwards, fall down on your stomach, or push yourself into push-up position and don't know where to go from there.

This is your favorite position.  You can see better this way, and you can at least launch yourself in the right direction.

I'm starting to wonder if you are going to push up to a standing position before you ever get the hang of this crawling business.  I think you'd like it better!  You always want to grab things and pull up on them.

This is what you try most of the time.  The looooooooooooong reach...hoping you can just get it that way instead of giving crawling another whirl.  I can't say that I blame you.  All this crawling practice looks exhausting!

I love the way you're looking around the basket here.  You're so curious, such a hard worker, and so happy.

You've also had your first tooth pop through!  One day after your 8 month birthday, your little bottom, front tooth started poking through.  It's still working on coming all the way up, but you are definitely teething.  It doesn't seem to bother you much, though you did run a fever the first night.  (And let's be honest, you're still not sleeping through the it's hard to tell the difference between teething and just normal "Carter sleep!")

We love you so much sweet boy!  You're not as tiny as you were, but you are doing so many fun things now!   Watching you learn is so much fun.  Being your mama is my favorite thing...


Friday, May 6, 2011

Ain't it nifty...

Andria Hancock's fifty!

(Now for those of you who are shaking in your boots for me...being the daughter that just announced her mother's can quit the quakin'.  Seriously, if I look that good at fifty I will be wearing a blown up version of my driver's license on my back just to prove I really am that age.  She makes fifty look fabulous!.....plllllllease be genetic!)

Today marks the day my sweet Grandma became a mama.  Fifty years ago, Andria Sue Carter came to this world in her normal fashion, quickly and with no fuss!  She's spent these fifty years making this world a better place.

The first ten...I don't know as much about.  I know she was a pastor's daughter.  I know they didn't have much, but she didn't complain.  I know she was bossy :)  I know she was a sweet sister (albeit the bossiness) who took care of her younger sisters.  She worked hard in school and worked hard with her family.

Mama's in the middle with the yellow headband.

In the next decade, she fell in love with a fifteen year old boy...who eventually asked her to be his wife (but that's the next decade..hold tight!).  She drove him around a couple of years until he was old enough to get a license.  (That makes me laugh every time.)  She earned a high school diploma and started college.  I am so grateful for the work she put into that boy and school...both have made my life rich and blessed.

From 20-30, Mama married that boy (who did, in fact, earn his driving license) grew two little babies in her tummy...and brought both of us safely into the world.

She had beautiful babies (that's what she told us!?!?) and devoted her days to reading to us, pushing us on the swing, staying up with a little girl who wouldn't go to sleep (maybe this is the reason Carter won't sleep for me? :) ) and answering questions from a little boy who always had at least one more thing he was wondering about.  

She made up fun games for us to play, taught us how to live in Christ, and prayed and prayed and prayed for us as we grew.  She did thankless things that no one knows about.  Cleaning, laundry, cooking, playing silly games over and over, and reading to us.  Mama never got tired of reading "just one more story".  She often read books to us that we were interested in but were above our reading level.  Anytime I think about Anne of Green Gables, I can't help but picture her in the car, reading those eternally long Montgomery sentences to us for hours and hours.

She made  Our world was so happy.  She used positive reinforcement before it was a "thing", but wasn't afraid to come down on us with fairness and consistency that helped us learn what we could expect when we made certain choices.  I am so grateful that she was consistent and firm when it would have been easier just to let things slide or to lose her cool.

(Where is Mama in all the pictures above?  Behind the camera!)

In the next ten years, Mama worked hard in her new job as a "computer lady" in the school system Travis and I were a part of...balancing her job as "Mama" and "computer lady".  She worked hard at both, and the teachers in her school district can attest to the gift that is to them.  She helped us learn how to do laundry, load the dishwasher, sweep the floor, and all the other everyday things that kids need to learn how to do.  She helped us learn how to do things correctly...but also never re-did our work.  She let us make mistakes...and learn from them.

She endured through our horrific teen years (and by our, I mean my...Travis was truly an awesome, lovable, great teenage.  I, on the other hand, was a raging ball of hormones and irritability) and held our hands as we prepared to leave her home and go off to college.  She sent the most amazing care packages and always welcomed as many friends as we wanted to bring home. I can't tell you how many meals she cooked for us..and then sent us home with all the leftovers that were so good they were often eaten in the care before we got back to school (right Kyle?)  She watched us graduate and then marry the loves of our lives.  She helped us by not holding on too tightly...but letting us love our new mates...and pouring love on her new son and daughter.

Mama has accomplished so much in her half century on Earth.  She has blessed so many with her smiles and laughter...

She is an incredible friend...not just to her peers...

Not just to her best friend of 30 years...

But also to me...

I am so grateful for your life!  May your next fifty be as fantastic as your first...