Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Some of my very favorite images from the past week...

Samuel snuggling Andi because he didn't want her to leave after a fun snuggle-fest weekend:

Steven caught this one of our little walker.  He's really moving these days:

It's the love of a Grandaddy who will sit in the tiny half bath, strumming Carter's favorite songs, supplying snacks so a little guy can have some potty success:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Carter says:

Talking about his plate at Moe's:
"That's adorable....GET IN MY MOUTH!"

"Have you seen my sticker, because I think it's on my ba-bum. (Bottom)"

I asked Carter to pick up the blueberries he dropped on the floor. He very seriously tilted his head to the side and informed me with a furrowed brow, "Well, I don't know Mama.  It's not your birthday."

While playing trains on the floor while Sauel napped: I like playing with you Mama."  **swoon**

"Let's do some exercises Mama. 
Mama, will you exercises with me? 
Let's do motorcycles!"

On our way to eat celebration dinner after Steven's promotion and a successful week of potty training: 

"C'mon everybody! Time to eat guacamole!"

Me: "Carter, who are we going to see tomorrow?"
Me: " Baby Grayson! Yay!"
Carter: "ooooohhhh! I have to cut my toenails!!"

January 8, 2013
January 31, 2013
February 7, 2013
April 26, 2013
June 6, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My best friend's mom is my mom's best friend...

When I was in second grade, I moved from one elementary school to another across town.  It wasn't a big move, and I had a lot of friends there.  While I was busy making new friends, learning to subtract when the top number was smaller than the bottom, and trying to convince the boys that I was good enough to chase the football with them, Mama was meeting other moms, volunteering her time, and getting to know my teachers.

I met Kyle.  Mama met Mrs. Karen.

(Mama and Mrs. Karen, Summer 2011)

Kyle was kind and quiet.  He was super smart, even at 7, and was good at every sport we played.  His mom, Mrs. Karen, was gracious and full of joyful life.  She was optimistic, gentle, and brought smiles everywhere she went.

We were instant friends, the four of us.

Mama and Mrs. Karen were the same age, had married men the same age in the same year and each had children 14 months apart.  Mama had a teaching degree and Mrs. Karen was working on one while they both stayed home mothering their two.  They were two peas in a pod, so they put all their peas in carpools, activities and schools together and we made our own little pods of sorts.

(Neeley and Hancock kids, Spring Break 2000)

After sixth grade, they moved to Indiana and we traveled together on spring breaks, made long distance calls, and wrote letters and cards.  When Kyle and I went off to the same college, we started getting left behind as our parents' spring break trips got cooler and we got older.

(Clemson homecoming)

(Mama and Mrs. Karen, Spring Break 2013)

I would tell him not to tell his mom so she wouldn't tell my mom and my mom would pass on to his mom little updates about her youngest.  Our moms helped each other decorate at weddings, plan outfits for our big days, and passed along pictures of everyday moments.  Mrs. Karen told me she'd never seen her son as happy as when Kyle was making my boys light up like the sun.

(Mama and Mrs. Karen at my wedding)

Samuel's first birthday, Laurin Lee Photography)

And then one day we thought she might have pneumonia, because it was hard for her to breathe.

When the doctor said it was Stage 4 lung cancer, no one could catch their breath.

Because it is too hard.  And too ugly.  And I can't face it.

I don't want my best friend to lose his mom.
I don't want my mom to lose her best friend.

I don't want Mrs. Karen to even feel the pain of a skinned knee, much less battle cancer.

I want to lift my fists and cry buckets of tears.  I am angry and sad and broken.

I don't even want the peace like a river or that passeth understanding.  I want redemption and a new heaven and earth where bodies aren't broken to a million pieces, much less our hearts.

Past all the emotions that runs like currents swollen with too much rain, I want to do.  Fix.  Something, anything.

And there isn't a thing to do.  Meals are being prepared, visits arranged.  Kyle is there, helping.  Mama is calling, texting, planning trips.  What word is right?  What help is useful?

So I am doing a small thing because I need to do something.  A half marathon as a charity runner for the American Cancer Society.  I'll run in honor of my best friend's mom and my mom's best friend.  A woman whose life is a picture of grace poured out.  Every Saturday, I go for a long run, and I cry the whole way, praying for strength, peace, encouragement and unexpected beauty for Mrs. Karen.  When I run out of words, I run harder and lean more in the Spirit, knowing He utters what I don't know.  Every week the run gets harder and longer and I lean in farther, knowing that the less of me there is to pray, the more holy it is.  I can't do many things, but I can do my thing.  I can run and pray.

My American Cancer Society page has more information about the half marathon and how to donate to help fund research and support for cancer patients.  If this is something you would like to support, I am grateful.  If this is a small way you can do your "one thing", I appreciate your assistance.  If there is someone who has battled cancer that you love, I would be happy to run in their honor or memory as well.  I am having a shirt made for the race, and I would love to add their name.

And for each of you, will you pray for Mrs. Karen and the multitude that love her and call her "friend"?  Would you pray that each person's one thing is just the right thing?  Will you pray that the light that God has poured into Mrs. Karen's life will so overpower that darkness of cancer, that we will all be blinded and stumble headlong into grace?

It's a small thing, to run to raise funds for the ACS, and to honor a life of a friend.  It is a small thing, but if there is anything I have learned from Mrs. Karen, it is that the building of a great life is just a million small things, chosen each day.

(Mama, Daddy, Mrs. Karen, Mr. Randy, Spring Break 2010)

Mama and Mrs. Karen, Spring Break 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

It's all unicorns and rainbows...until someone bites someone's finger. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Letters to Samuel

Dear Samuel,

You are in "the phase."  You are adorable.  Precious.  I can't even handle how much I want to squeeze you all the time.


You want to be held all. the. time.  And you whine and throw yourself on the floor and bang your little fists.  You are a terror to change (clothes, diapers, you name it) and you have a high-pitched squeal that will shake the windows.  You aren't walking yet, and my arms and back are toasted every night from toting you all day.  Which is followed by your dive bombing for what you want on the floor with no regard to how difficult it is to hold back 20 something pounds of baby when all 20 pounds head for the ground.  Which is followed by you wanting up again.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Also?   You are in between one and two naps and it makes for whiiiiiiiiny days.


You have the biggest smile these days.  And laugh.  It is easy to get you going and it is my favorite thing to do.  Your little vocabulary is also starting to explode.  You said, "Daddy" first.  Now you say:
  • Mama
  • Andi
  • Boo
  • Bye, bye
  • Hi
  • Thank you
  • uhoh
  • Yay
  • Roll Tide (only sort of, the sound is there!)
  • alllllllmost's close!

and you are trying to make out the sounds of every word you hear.

You got a haircut.  Your first.  Your brother ran up and down the driveway throwing 2x4s because safety is our first priority and he was totally occupied and happy.  I wrangled you into my lap and sort of convinced you to watch Elmo on my phone while I cut clips of your longest pieces out of your eyes and away from your ears.  It's not perfect and your perfectly straight hair keeps nothing hidden, but it was all you could handle that day.  I'll trim it up a little more evenly soon.  I just don't want to chop it off.  Your zany hair is such a reflection of your little personality.

You are really annoyed by everyone trying to make you walk.  If you so much as sense that we are going to try to convince you to walk to something, you immediately plop down and grimace.  This was the first time you had ever taken more than one step, and you were none too pleased about it.  Your drama makes me laugh.  Out loud.



At some point you are going to get the hang of it.  In one sense, it will be nice to have two little hands to hold instead of one little guy in my arms and one hand tugging me to hurry.  In another sense, there will be four little legs taking two different directions, and that is enough to cause mild panic.  So, hang on and hurry up :)

You are finally willing to eat real food.  You have been so persnickity about food!  You just really love nursing, I think.  Why venture out?  :)  I am so, so utterly grateful that you are a good nurser that I totally don't care about the food wariness.  I know it will wear off as you wean.  I love the sweet time I have feeding you, and I am so grateful that it is so easy for us to nurse.  I know what it is like for it to be a battle, so I am thoroughly grateful for it to come easy.  Food will come.

In the meantime, I just quit making baby food, and, as expected, you only held out a few meals before deciding bites of things were better than nothing!  You really love peaches, sweet peppers, cheerios, smoothies, bagels, cucumbers, and squeezing the juice from blueberries and strawberries.  You make a disastrous mess every time you eat, but you are fun to have at the table with all of your laughing and silliness.

Currently, you follow Carter EVERYWHERE he goes.  It makes my heart thump out of my chest to see the two little people that have completely rearranged my heart love each other.  Yes,  you have bitten each other, clunked each other on the head, and stolen each other's toys.  But you have spent much more time laughing out loud at each other, chasing each other, and sharing things you love because you want the other to have some.  You and your big brother are peas in a pod, and I couldn't possibly be more grateful.

You love to hear your echo, ice cream bites, and blowing kisses.  You are obsessed with music and dancing to the rhythm.  You are the first thing your brother asks about every morning and the last thing I think of each night.  You are the most brilliant snuggler and the happiest baby I have ever seen when you just wake.  You love, love having your teeth brushed, and you think the playground is the best place in the world.  You love your Daddy and constantly trip because you are crawling so fast when he comes home.  You love mimicking sounds, playing "Baby, Attack!" with Daddy and Carter, and strumming guitar with Boo.  

You are my youngest.  My dear baby forever.  

And even when you take short naps, have grouchy days and want to be held all. day. long.....

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

You are my son, and I love you as hard as I can.

Sweet Samuel, you are one wonderful little guy, and I am so, so glad to be your mama.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Snapshot: June 2013

Snapshot: May
Snapshot: April
Snapshot: March
Snapshot: February
Snapshot: January
Snapshot: December
Snapshot: November
Snapshot: October
Snapshot: September
Snapshot: August
Snapshot: July

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Great Grandma came to town to visit just a few days after we'd said goodbye in Florida so she could come to Steven's 30th birthday party.

She's kind of amazing like that.

She went to the zoo with us.  She played on the floor, fed snacks, administered tickles and made train caravans.

We're blessed to have this lady.  This lady who sang songs to my boys that she sang to my mother.  This lady who can still run all over the zoo, travel to visit, and play on the rug as she approaches her mid-70s.

Blessed, indeed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flamingos, ants and sweat

It was hot and steamy, but not to the point of extreme discomfort for anyone.

Children, toddlers, babies and babies to be all crowded in with their mamas and grandmas and great grandmas to peer in at animals exotic and plain.  (Ants crawling in a line in front of the flamingo exhibit gathered a large crowd.)

Running, sweating, gawking, playing.

Caelyn and Carter watching the lions.

The lions were sleeping... Caelyn and Carter did too.

So. much. running.
They earned their lunches, their naps and their baths on this fun day.

Is there anything better than being a grandchild?
My only guess is being a great-grandchild.  This lady is such a champ...and such an amazing Great Grandma!

That is all sweat.  Castillo sweat does not play.

Aforementioned ant investigation.

The crew - Andi who was taking the picture.  I wanted to take a shot with her included, but dude.  There were five toddlers in this pictures.  Time waits for no one under 3.

It's fun with family and friends intertwine.  There should be a word for that, I think.