Thursday, July 28, 2011

Renaissance Refrigerator

My fridge is amazing.

It doesn't just keep my keep my food cold, my frozen goods frozen, make ice (oh, wait...not that awesome...there are limits, apparently) and hold a few important items by way of magnet...it also holds our to-do list, weekly menu (yes, I'm OCD...I also can't grocery shop/make decent meals/ not just want to eat out every single night if I don't have a plan) and my Memorization Monday verse.  

Wow.

What a fridge.
(Don't judge...it wasn't a particularly healthy week...but we did have veggies and fruit salad every night!)

Ok..I know I'm being a little silly with the whole Renaissance Refrigerator bit...but I'm super grateful that Steven was okay with my wacky idea to paint one side of our fridge with chalkboard paint so that I could have all this info displayed in a fun, big way.  And that he went to Lowes to buy the supplies.  And that he painted it for me.  While I was at the beach.

(How is that so many of my grand ideas create so much work for him?  I'm sure he's wondered the same thing..)

This isn't exactly a tutorial...because, well, I didn't do any of the work and don't have a clue as to how you would go about doing this to your very own fridge at home.  But I can tell you that Steven Googled it and finished it in two afternoons (because coats have to dry and husbands have to rest while their wives are gone to the beach!).  I'm sure you could do the very same thing and have an awesome fridge like mine, if you were so inclined.

Now I'm running around the house pointing out all the things that would be cooler if coated in the magnetic primer and chalkboard paint.  

If you see my husband, immediately give him a Klondike Bar.  He has done everything that could possibly be expected for one. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A Day with Daddy

My handsome hubby watched Carter allll day (as in, I left just after Carter woke up and came home hours after he'd been in bed) so I could take Mama on her belated birthday shopping trip in Atlanta.  Yes, he's taken.  No, you may not borrow him for the day :)



Don't the hair and unsnapped onesie just scream, "I'm spending the day with Daddy!" :)

Banging the door to get Madde to come look at him...between dog drool, baby drool and handprints, I suspect this door will be perpetually dirty for the next 20 years.





Monday, July 25, 2011

Memorization Monday

I've mentioned Memorization Monday in a post before...but I'm going to let you in a little further.  I told you that I memorize a part of Scripture every week (unless it's harder/longer and I take a lengthier period of time) and that it's really hard for me.  Because accountability is good and sharing is better, I am going to start sharing my "Memorization Monday" with you.  If you want to memorize with me...that'd be so cool.  If not, maybe you'll read the verse each Monday and the Holy Spirit will use it in your week.  Maybe none of that will happen.  It won't hurt me though.  And it won't hurt me to have the verses I memorized each week in this book of blogs that I'm making to remember this time in our lives.  So here we go :)


There are probably a million verses that talk about the benefits of memorizing Scripture.  Here's one:




"I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11



I know I don't have to list them all.  You also have Google at your disposal.  There is also a nice, concise article written by John Piper on the issue.  But my basic two overaching reasons?



I want to be able to speak truth to myself when I am in the middle of a situation where I can't seem to find up/right/good that I might make decisions and actions that please my Father and are not based on my wavering emotions/perspectives.  And I want to be able to speak truth to Carter as he grows. 


Not truth I made up.  Truth that is abiding and has stood the test of time.  Truth from the heart of God.  Sure...I could look up Scripture throughout our days to apply to our lives together.  But I've seen three year olds.  It doesn't look like things are really going to slow down from here enough for Google-stops everytime we need Scripture.  I need His word in my heart and in my head so I can speak it to him in the moment!




"A word fitly spoken 
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11


My reasons are sound...my method is...ridiculous.  I have to put my verses to melodies I make up or I can't remember them past the week I work on it.  Believe me, I've tried other ways.


PS: If you ask me to sing my little Memorization Monday verse, I won't.  I am not, as a rule, a gaurded person.  But these songs are so ridiculous.  I will not sing them to anyone but Steven and Carter who hear them all. the. time.  


So anyway.


The other thing I do is write the verse on three index cards posted in the kitchen, in Carter's room, and in my bathroom mirror.  I also write it on our weekly chalkboard (more about this soon!)  So, teacher friends, I'm working with my visual learning and audio....and no...no movements yet.  I hope I don't have to go there.  I cannot possibly be a more silly 25 year old.


One thing that has also helped me is really learning about and soaking in the verse throughout the week.  I had been using an online Greek/Hebrew dictionary with a commentary I have at home to work on the verse, word by word to really understand the meaning.  Travis showed me something even better!  e-Sword is this unbelievable Bible study tool available for FREE download that has dictionaries, commentaries, different translations, and a place to write notes/journal/whatever to save/print.  This has been an unbelievable tool as all those resources are in one spot and I don't have to write each thing out in my journal.  I've been just copy/pasting/typing into the journal, printing it, and taping into my journal that holds my Memorization Monday notes.  I'm keeping all these notes so that each week, I can review each verse, hopefully cementing these words into my heart.


So...that's Memorization Monday.  My plan is to share the verse I'll be working on that week each Monday morning.  At this point, I'm not really planning on writing much about it...because I'll have just started learning.  But maybe if there are any huge, interesting learning points, I can share them the following week...we'll see :)


Thanks for always letting me share my little life bits with you.  


Happy Monday!


This week's verse:



The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul "therefore I will hope in him.”


Lamentations 3:22-24

Friday, July 22, 2011

A heart at rest...

I don't know anything about sleep.  I mean, seriously.  My 10, almost 11 if we're honest, month old has just started going to sleep on his own and staying that way for the night.  But if you're like me...and you want to help your child transition from whatever you've been doing to a new routine...here's what I hope I remember next time I do this:
  • Just observe your child for awhile.  It really helps if you know their patterns and their "tells".  For Carter, I KNOW that his morning nap is super important.  He's just really tired in the morning and if he doesn't get his full nap out...it's trouble.  I know that if he's going to have to skip a nap, to try really hard to not let it be the morning nap.  I also know that when he pulls his left ear and yawns, I have about 15 minutes to get him settled before he gets grumpy and overtired...making the process that much harder.
  • No one book is going to work.  No one method is for your child.  Reading lots of different ideas, listening to lots of different advice, and trying lots of different things is important.  (*Disclaimer, you can definitely go too far here.)  The important part of mothering is knowing your child and picking out the parts that apply to you.  Being JUST an "attachment" parent, "Baby Whisperer" or "Babywise" advocate limits your ability to respond to your baby.  Pick and choose what works for your baby!
  • After you figure out what you're going to do to get your baby on a schedule, you have to be consistent.  I think it's better to not get started than it is to start and stop a million different attempts.  That is so confusing!  In this, you really have to have both parents on board.  If Mom and Dad are constantly doubting or, worse, thwarting the other through middle of the night, sleepless escapades, the baby is sure to get less than the best.  This means, encouraging each other through doubting, pushing through when it seems like it's all falling apart (hello...I was here over and over and over and over) and putting one foot in front of the other to do the SAME THING when it doesn't seem like they'll ever "get it".
  • Start when you have some time that is vacation, playdate, and guest-free for awhile.  It won't be like this forever, but when you start putting your baby on a schedule/getting them back on track/working on transitioning their routine, they need enough consistency to pick up the new pattern.
  • You're going to be conflicted, unsure, and confused at points.  Accept it.  It's okay.  Some things you try aren't going to work.  Comes with the territory.  All a big bummer.  But true.
  • Know when to stop.  Sometimes you are going to have a great plan and you are going to consistently apply it...and it is NOT. GOING. TO. WORK.  Sometimes you have to scrap your plan.  You and your husband are the only ones that really can make the decision about when to persevere and when to stop.  This was one of the hardest parts for us.
So...this wasn't easy for us.  The bullets look neat, but the process was messy and full of uncertainty.  I know it seems strange for something like sleep to throw a person off...but this process really made me a little crazy.  One bad nap and I was all an emotional tizzy...mad that I wasn't doing things correctly, confused about why it wasn't working, sad that Carter was still tired...not sure I was even doing the right thing.  He'd have a good nap, and I'd be on top of the world.  Part of this, I think was because I spend all day with Carter.  He is my job.  He is my focus during the day.  When things are going wrong with his naps/bedtime...half my day is crazy!  But it was also because I was placing my heart on something not strong enough to hold it.

I should know by now that the only thing that can hold my heart steady is Christ.  But I'm like the Israelites (and all of mankind).  I forget so easily what He's done...leaving the alters of remembrance behind me as I press forward.

While I sat with Carter, hand on his chest, waiting for him to fall asleep as I taught him how to sleep in a crib by himself, I listened to sermon podcasts on my iPod.  I listened to a lot of sermons while he wriggled and squirmed and didn't sleep.  One that particularly grabbed my heart was from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley California.  Matt Moore spoke from Genesis 15 to chapter 20 on the faithfulness of God.  (It is called "Faithful God" and was preached on June 26th if you want to find it and listen.)  

He reminded me of a lot of things I knew.  That God's faithfulness is 100%.  He showed me some things I knew from a different perspective.  He talked about the chapter in Hebrews known as the "hall of faith" where the writer of Hebrews reminds the readers of the great faith of Old Testament figures.  Matt pointed out that these men and women did not have great faith.  It is not "great faith" to believe in someone who has come through for His people 100% of the time.  That is common sense!  The point of the "hall of faith" is to point out the faithfulness of God not the great faith of broken men.  God used people whose life timeline looked like:
FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, little bit of faith, FAIL, FAIL, LIE, STEAL, little moment of faith, FAIL

and used their small moments of belief to do unbelievable things.  And then He did unbelievable things with their failures!  The men and women of the "hall of faith" weren't unbelievable "believers" that believed hard enough to make God work!  They gave up on their own righteousness to see the righteousness of God and "failed into His faithfulness".  You can't drum up faith.  God alone is the author and perfecter of faith.

So in the middle of the night, I was contemplating sleep and faith.  

If I prayed, really believing that He could do a great work, could God make Carter be still and go to sleep?

Of course.  Duh.

But what if I prayed, with all my heart longing for an answer, with my mind sure that He would , and Carter raged on?

Did that mean my heart wasn't "pure" enough in my belief?

Should I even pray for Carter to have peace in his sleep?  What if that's not God's will?  What if Carter needs to walk through this for some reason?  Is that why he's still tossing?

The Holy Spirit and Matt Moore worked together to show my heart that no amount of "drumming up" good faith would work in matters of Carter's sleep or any other prayer of my heart.  Good faith is believing what God does is good.  In the core of my soul, knowing that no matter how God answers, believing that God is who He says He is.  He is a good God who knows best.  No matter what He does, it is right.  Sometimes, this life is more about the process than the destination.  Like an art project with kids, it's not so much about the final piece, but about the time spent, the skills acquired, and the creativity shown.  Sometimes, God's good answer is hard situations because of the development of my soul.  He knows that my body fleeting...the things of this world are short...but the character of my soul...that's what He's after.

Now I know I sound overanalytical...making a process that involves sleep and a overtirred baby a big picture of faith and my heart.  I know...not everything has to be super spiritual.  Sometimes we just clean spit-up off the floor, make supper, get dressed...and it's just life.

But sometimes God uses a baby fighting sleep to show us a little more of His heart...and a little more of my own soul.

And praise God...Carter is finally sleeping through the night and taking good naps on his own in his own crib! After 8 months...he is going to sleep on his own and staying that way.  I made a million and one mistakes in this process.

But I think I've learned a million and one things.

I've logged a million and one hours of rocking.

And that...

I wouldn't change that for the world


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hugo

When I was teaching, my mom bought a book for my classroom called The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  I read the first chapter to them and went home and hungrily gobbled down the entire novel in one evening (definitely before there was a chubby-faced baby who needed my love and attention!).  I've read A LOT of children's literature in my lifetime and this is one of the top three best books I have EVER read...children's literature or not.  It's in the "graphic novel" genre (sort of) and one of the coolest aspects of the book was that the illustrations (that were ahhhmazing) told parts of the story.  The words would stop.  A series of five or so pages of illustrations would slowly turn while my class studied them in spellbound silence (not a dramatic exaggeration), watching the story unfold in picture form, and then the words would pick right back up where the illustration left off.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Reading them this book, all four classes I taught, was one of the highlights of being in the classroom.  The teacher in me would shake with enthusiasm for the interest and enjoyment every one of my students got from this book.  The boys loved it, the girls wanted "just one more chapter!"....the non-readers thought it was great, the advanced readers tried to read faster over my shoulder and get ahead.

And guess what?

In November, they're making a movie based on the book!

**Disclaimer commercial break: I know it probably won't be as spell-binding as the book.  Duh.  No theater can compete with the human imagination.  We don't have budgets :)  BUT...wouldn't  you be excited if one of your top three favorite books EVER was coming out to movie?  I thought so.  Let me have my moment.

So...all that to say....READ THE BOOK.  It seriously doesn't matter how old you are or what you are into.  This book is GOOD.

Then we can watch the movie in November!

PS: If you are a parent, thinking this would be a great, end of the summer read for your kids...YES!  In my experience, anyone going into 3-5 grade would probably do well to read this with a parent or older sibling.  Older or more experienced readers can read on their own, but would probably enjoy having a reading partner :)  You know your reader best, but that general guideline is probably right for the average reader.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Staring at the babies

We used to eat, play on laptops, talk, and basically chill at the casa de Hancock.

Now we basically eat, talk, and stare at handsome babies.








Best. Time. Ever.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Family Pictures

I love pictures.

Oh wait.

You already knew that?

Right.  Of course.  The thousands of pictures I take and post gave me away?  Of course they did.

So anyway.  Steven takes the BEST pictures.  He's phenomenal.  And extremely patient as I run around, staging, posing, bossing, and then editing.  I LOVE the pictures he takes.  But there's one problem.  No matter how good he is...if he's taking pictures, he's not in them.  The whole "can't be in two places at one time" thing gets us every time".  (yes, we could use a tripod.  Try that with a little one.  Let me know how that works out for you.)

This led me on a search for someone who could take some family pictures for us that would be creative, and patient with our sweet little one who sometimes needs convincing that the camera is more interesting than, you know..everything else to look at.  They also needed to be super affordable.

Enter: Laurin McDowell.

I found Laurin through some pictures she took of a friend of mine...and she had all the qualities I was looking for and more!

These are just  FEW of my favorites...you can see more here:










Yay for family pictures...and yay for a new friend/photographer!  If you live in the area, you should totally contact Laurin for pictures!

**PS: Laurin did not ask me to write this post and didn't offer me anything to do it.  I just really enjoyed her and thought I shoudl get the word out to you friends who live in the area...plus I got to post some fun family photos.  :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beautiful Lengths

You know the best thing about hair?  You totally can't mess up.  It always grows back. 


When I was pregnant I decided to grow my hair out because I thought it'd be a good time to get long hair faster. I was a little bored with my current hairstyle, and plus, it would be easier to have a ponytail-length cut with a newborn, right?

Absolutely.  



It was so nice to have the ability to toss my hair back in a ponytail after yet another sleepless night and not worry about it.  Unfortunately, no matter how much I like ponytails and long hair, they just aren't really the cutest on me.  Now, that being said, I very well may grow my hair out again...this definitely isn't the first time this has happened.  Nine months before I married Steven, I cut off 10 inches and donated to Locks of Love because it's a good cause and I couldn't take the hair one. more. day.  (Remember how I said hair always grows back?  Well...that's true.  If you have the luxury of being healthy.  Cancer patients don't always have the luxury of a full head of hair.  If you do...how could we NOT share?)  So I called a lady I knew from church and made an appointment. For later that day.




Before and after 4  years ago

After assuring her that I wasn't there on impulse and that I wouldn't hate her later that day, She cut it.  So, so much better.  I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure I cut about 10 inches off.  The lady that cut it was ahhhhmazing at figuring out the haircut I was talking about.  I haven't had anyone cut my hair since.  (PS: If you live in the area, Shannon New at Elliot and Co is the BEST hairstylist.  She has a gift for knowing your hair, knowing what haircut will look good, and translating what you want in your head to an actual cut...she's basically the best!)

So here we are again.  I went to Shannon a few months ago and asked what she thought about chopping it again.  My hair was getting boring, frumpy, and blah.  In her amazingness, she told me we could cut it off then or wait a few months and I'd have enough to donate.  DONE.  I was so glad she noticed it was close so that I could wait just a bit and cut my hair for something besides a fresh look.  This time, I didn't have quite enough for Locks of Love, but I did have enough for Pantene's Beautiful Lengths.  The best thing is that Pantene is able to DONATE all of their wigs...so the cancer patients are able to get a beautiful wig free of charge and have one less thing to worry about in their battle with cancer.

So this was the before:

(family picture by Laurin McDowell- post about this to come!)

The donation:



After:



So can we agree that Shannon is awesome?  Yeah.  I took in 16 pictures on my laptop (I am that girl.  *Sigh*.) of what I wanted, didn't want, and wanted to know if I could pull off.  All different cuts/styles...I just wanted pieces of each one.  I kinda can't believe Shannon hasn't told their receptionist to block my calls!

I like it SO much better.  And I am so grateful for a fresh new look.  Will I grow it out and do the whole thing again?

Yup.  I'll keep this style as long as I like it and then I'll get bored and grow it.  Then I'll get bored and cut it.  And another cancer patient will have a section of hair that is curly straight wavy frizzy brown.

So...do you have extra hair that's keeping you hot this summer?

Chop it.

Someone will be glad you did :)


Wordless Wednesday: Just a morning in the kitchen

 Playing in my drawer

He always sits like this...and I think it's about the cutest thing in the world.








Monday, July 11, 2011

Letters to Carter

Dear Carter,

When you first came, you were so precious.  So still, so beautiful.  You were so wrinkly and delicious.  You grew and become more alert, and we lived for your smile.  You started laughing, and we would lift you in the air all day for just a note of your sweet laugh.  You were ours...but we only knew the little things you did.

Now...we know YOU.

I feel like we are getting to know who you are.  The things you like and don't like.  What gets on your nerves and what you think is hilarious.  What makes you clap and what makes you throw your head back in anger.  We are seeing what makes your interested and what kinds of things you are good at.  We are getting to know...you.



I see a lot of your Daddy in your personality.  You love peaches and avocado and will sift through all your food to get what you like the most.  You're actually driving your cars with him now.  Zooming them along while you crawl beside your Daddy is one of your favorite things to do in the evenings after he comes home.  You don't mind getting dirty...and these days your knees and legs are typically sprinkled with dirt and little scratches and bruises that tell of a full day of playing.  You are so much fun.  You love to make us laugh and will do things over and over to get our reaction.  You give us kisses and then laugh at our over-the-top reactions.  Just like Daddy, you have a streak of fun and silliness that is promptly packed away behind a mask of serious observation when people you don't know come around.  Not only are you acting like Daddy, but you also love him more than anyone else right now.  You lean out of my arms to be held by him.  You follow him everywhere he goes in the house, and if you can't find him, the tears flow!  Hearing you follow him around the house and lifting your arms to be held makes your Daddy smile the smile he has just for you.  It makes my heart melt.






I also see a lot of myself reflected in the things you do.  You sleep just like me.  You fall asleep on your side...and end up on your back with your arms thrown over your head.  I wonder if that makes your arms fall asleep like it does mine.  Although you're sleeping in your own crib now, you were such a cuddle bug in our bed.  Your Daddy always calls me a "heat-seeking missile" because no matter how far he tries to roll from me in the night, I always end up plastered right beside him.  You're just the same way.  No matter where you fell asleep, you always ended up curled against me in the fetal position, nose-to-nose.  Now that you are in your crib, you are usually curled into one corner when you wake up...but with your arms above your head!  You also love to dance.  I hope you are better than I am, but for now, you pretty much love me for a dance partner.  We dance every morning after breakfast to whatever's up on the iPod.  You love to swirl around in my arms, but you also love to stand on your own and watch me.  I give you the serious giggles with my moves, and you are starting to bounce up and down and clap yourself.  It's one of my favorite parts of the day.



And then there are some things that are uniquely...you.  You always tilt your head to the side to flirt or get attention.  It's totally cute and you almost always get the reaction you're looking for from us.  You love to give us kisses and throw your arms around our necks.  You also have a fiery little temper when you don't get your way.   You throw your head back and kick your legs.  You're learning that it doesn't get your anywhere...but you're giving it lots of chances, just in case.  I know you never got to meet Ma, but you do one thing that is just like her.  When I was little, Ma would go to the living room every day after lunch, lie on the floor and put her feet up on the couch.  I remember lying down beside her, putting my feet straight up so they would reach the couch while she closed her eyes, arm over her head.  You also love your feet to be up.  You prop them up in the high chair, in your stroller, even in the crib!  When I walk in to see your feet up on the side of the crib with your arms over your head, I can't help but remember those afternoons with Ma.



(Umm...I don't like how "gangster" you look in this picture, but you were totally not into smiling at me at the moment, and I just had to capture that foot up in the air!)

I love getting to know you sweet boy.  I love all the things that make you unique.  I love seeing the man I love reflected in your little mannerisms.  I love you Carter.  Just the way you are.  Just the way you'll be.  All the way to the moon.

And back. :)