Friday, May 29, 2015

Gotta write that down...

Samuel: "Did you like that? Or did you like it even better?"

This is one of those things he says all.  the.  time.  About everything. :)


I had a huge conversation with Samuel one day about making SURE he asks me if it is okay before he uses the restroom on a tree, in the grass, etc.  We talked about finding a private place and how using the restroom is a private thing.  Huge conversation.

Mere hours later, Samuel turned his back on my parent's full small group and peed from the side of a sandbox filled with children. (Mercifully, onto the grass)  When I rushed over, Samuel sensed he was in trouble and immediately jumped to his own defense saying, "But Mama!  I closed my eyes so no one could see me!"


Samuel: Calls all water guns "water shooters"


Carter, to a man downtown in the park: "Hi! This is my sister Ella! She's very friendly. You can pet her if you'd like."


Carter, running amok in the park suddenly turned and yelled: "Mama! I love  hanging out with you!" (This is my favorite....obviously)


At night in bed:
Carter: "Samuel, I had fun playing with you today."
Samuel: "Me too Carter."Carter: "No Samuel.  You say, "I had fun with you too Carter."

Samuel: "Yes."
Carter: "Samuel!  No!  You're doing this all wrong!"
**parental intervention**

Carter: "Hey mama? Can I have my water? It's just that my mouth is hot. I ate too much....toothpaste."
I opened my mouth to...I don't even know what I was going to say, but Carter interrupted before I could start.
Carter: "No, no. It's all okay. I won't won't do it again Mama. Just need to get some water Mama. Then I won't do it again. I bet when you were a little girl you ate too much toothpaste too. And I bet your mouth got hot too when you were a girl. And that was a VERY long time ago."
As he ran off to get the water, he threw back over his shoulder, "Oh yeah. Also, Mama? Some of the toothpaste might have spilled while I was eating too much of it. But it's okay. I'll just clean it with the lid. No problem! Everything's okay!"


Samuel busted his lip and received a Popsicle to help reduce swelling and tears. To be fair, Carter received one as well.
Samuel: "Mmmm. Thanks mama. The Popsicle is really working. You know what else would help? A chocolate chip cookie"
Carter: "Yeah, this Popsicle is yummy. Thanks for busting your lip Samuel. Maybe you could do it again later and we could get another Popsicle."


Carter was holding the door for Ella and me one afternoon.  A man stepped through and offered to wave Carter through and hold the door for us instead. Carter said, "No thanks, I am her gentlemen."


Boo is finding bubbles in the basement.
Samuel, passing along the message from Andi: "Boo, the bubbles are next to the camping stuff."
Boo finds the camping stuff and and hands bubbles to Carter and Carter heads up the yard with them.
Samuel, watching Carter go up the hill, casually turns to Boo asking, "Boo, the bubbles are with the camping gear. do you want me to help you find them?"
Boo: "ummm.  Sure."
Samuel: Immediately taking charge. "Ok Boo.  Now. When was the last time you had it?"


Samuel: "Andi, Andi I stopped turning the lights on and off all by myself! I'm almost a grown up!
Wait.  Is that ok?"

(No, Samuel.  No, it's not.)


We have a path in the woods to our friends house that we have been clearing.  Suddenly I heard, "Mama! We found a tail with no squirrel!"


Samuel: "Mama, did Mrs. Emily take Merritt tiptoeing?"
He meant barefoot.


Carter while playing on the big pile of dirt: "Mama I'm not ready to go inside yet. I still have two more energies to play on the dirt of pile!"


Samuel: "I thought I didn't like fighting eggs but I do!" 

He meant fried eggs...but it's true that we have fought about eating eggs enough!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fullness of Joy

On Mother's Day this year, family and dear friends filed into the pews of our church.  Our children filled up the nurseries, and we adults sat together with still a few more babies in our laps.  We sang together...and I reveled in that feeling you get when your people are together in one place.  It's such a gift isn't it?  The gathering of the people you love altogether...

Finally, the boys and I walked our girl up to the front.  Pastor Ross introduced Ella.  He read the verse I picked for her:

Psalm 16:11 "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy..."

and shared my prayer for her life:

"I pray she will live her life with the same joy of the Lord that characterized her namesake.  My great hope for Ella is that she will know Jesus in a way that is unmistakable and gives her with "fullness of joy."  I pray her joy in Him will be a gift not only to her, but to the people around her."

A few more families joined us before we prayed together and rejoined the congregation in our seats.  While we were at the front, I was grateful our little family could stand together to make public this commitment to bring Ella up in the truth of the Scriptures and the grace of the Gospel.  I was also profusely sweating in the effort to keep three loose cannons in one small area and in a general quiet state.  There are no pictures from the morning because Ella generally looked away from the congregation of people.  The boys stayed near me, but were in a state of constant movement.  All in all, my hope is that no one would cry and no would would scream out or run away.  None of those things happened, so I suppose that aspect was a success.

Apart from the logistics of keeping all four of us up there, generally behaving, it was such a special time.  It takes more than a person to raise a little one in the Lord.  So many members of our small group changed up their plans for the day to be in that particular service to watch the tiny ten minute segment of our dedicating Ella to the Lord.  Our family traveled, woke up early, left their own church families, and made so many other arrangements to attend.  Nothing magical happens in the moment you dedicate a baby to the Lord.  It's in all the small ones repeated throughout a lifetime.  All the parenting advice, wise counsel and babysitting offered.  All the prayers, kindness, and gentle words given.  All the piggy back rides, stories read and events attended.  It's in all the small days of regular life that the people around us help me preach the Gospel to Ella.  It's so special to have them all with us on this particular day of dedication, but it is of indescribable worth to me to have the gift of their lives intertwined in ours.

For the day, Ella was the perfect size to wear my first Easter dress.  Not only that, but my grandmother (and her namesake, Genella Kennedy) made the dress for me.  What a special gift that she could wear the dress for her dedication!

(She is standing here on her own....standing.  Sigh)

This is a dress that I have a picture of myself in...just a few months older than Ella is now.  It is fun for me how similar we look.  What  a gift to a mama to see her own face reflected in her little girl's.There are so many similarities...yet also distinct differences.  Together, yet separate.  Familiar, yet unique.

It is a gift, being Mama to this little girl.  It is a gift, being a member of a family who loves and cares for one another.  It is a gift having a community who shows up for special day sand hard days and all the days in between.  

And it is a gift that generations before me, men and women rose up and laid down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.  That they loved one another in a way that reflected the Gospel.  The fruit of the Spirit in their hearts has sowed a great harvest in my life.  

Before I could love in return, Ma sewed a little dress for me.  Before I even understood love, I was loved more overwhelmingly than I could understand.  It makes my heart ache with gratitude.  Simultaneously, I mourn that Ma didn't ever cradle Ella in her arms.  To see Genella Kennedy hold Ella Kennedy...what a gift that would have been.  How much I would love to be cradled in those arms today!  How broken the world is...and good!  How hard it is to understand this reflection but not yet reality.

And really...that is my prayer for Ella.  That she would know the steady, sure joy of the Lord.  Joy that can mourn the hard things of this world with a strength that know the reality of what is coming.  If bravery is knowing fear and doing courageous things regardless, I think joy must be in knowing brokenness but finding rejoicing in the steady surety of the promise of redemption.  Joy certainly isn't the absence of sadness, but the promise of the hope of a Savior who turns all things upside down for His glory in His presence.

Sweet Ella girl, if there is anything I hope for you, it is that you find Him.  That you find Him to be the most certain part of yourself.  That you know Him more intimately than you know yourself.  Because if there is anything I know, it is that knowing Him brings the fullness of joy I hope for you.

I love you Ella girl.

Ella, May 2015 (10 months)

Teri Lee: April 1987 (14 months)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy birthday Samuel...we got you a pile of dirt

As much as Julie Andrews may love raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...Samuel loves dirt.  And loud noises.  Friends and drumming with whatever he can find.  He loves being outside and running amok, generally speaking.

For Samuel's third birthday, Boo had a DUMP TRUCK back into our yard and unload an enormous pile of dirt.

Every kid in the land rejoiced and hit the pile running.

They slid, rolled, threw, dumped, dug, and generally reveled in the pile.

Smiles creased under the soil caked on their faces.  Sweat dripped, making mud on their little bodies.  

Honestly, what more could a boy want?  I can forget this.  I can make fun a thing I manufacture.  A plan I pull off.  In reality, the most fun is created when I can create an atmosphere where I am needed very little.  True fun is had when freedom, independence, creativity, and open-ended ideas are encouraged.  It is good for them to play long at one thing and to come up with all their own methods of doing so.

We don't celebrate "in-between" birthdays with big celebrations.  This year, Samuel invited over just family and a couple of very dear friends to throw dirt around and eat lunch.  However, I think this might go down as one of his favorite days.  

Surrounded by his favorite people, Samuel celebrated loud and true Samuel style. :)

(showing off their muscles"

The grown ups generally sat in the shade and watched everyone big enough to walk play in the dirt. We laughed at their antics and shook our heads at all the ways they found to become even dirtier than before.

Don't worry Uncle Kyle, we won't get you dirty!

Henry and Cora...Henry making a mountain, and Cora moving his mountain into her bucket!

Sweet Violet and Susanna....if you want cute babies, we have that covered in spades.

Ella with Uncle Travis...he soaked that in for every second it lasted!

The kiddos washed their hands at the water hose and we filled plates full of food they made disappear in moments...hungry from a morning of hard play.

Boo...always manning the grill and his girl.

Everyone had a seat or a stump or a blanket :)

The birthday boy with his birthday cupcake...and a drumstick.  Always.

Mason protecting the birthday candles from the wind.

Happy Birthday are more fun than a pile of dirt...and apparently that is saying something!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Letters to Samuel: Three

Dear Samuel,

You've had your hair cut since these pictures.  It's darling short but you look older.  I like it.  I also like these pictures of your shaggy mess of hair.  It suits you...and I like the little-boy look it gives you.

You are three today.  Three.  It's hard to believe that it has been three entire years since I was startled that...yep, those were contractions after all!  You came three weeks early, which is probably the very last time you will get somewhere early on your own.  You meander.  Dilly dally.  Stroll through life.  It's honestly a bit surprising you made it to this birthday in the timely manner that you did. But here we are.  Proving that the rules of time are the same for everyone.  

I don't know what you'll be like in three more years.  Can't even speculate.  I happen to know I'll be quite fond of you, but I have no closer an idea of what it will be like than 3 years and 1 day ago when I didn't even know your face.  Right are the bright harmony in a steady song.  You many not have many predictable, steady notes, but add layers of interest and beauty to an otherwise quiet melody.  You seem to perch in life, watching for moments to shake things up.  When you find them, you rush unceremoniously in with no regard to caution or rules.  Sometimes it feels as if we are all walking through a jungle, never knowing when a wild monkey might drop through the branches to steal a hat, grab a banana or side sweep someone to the ground.  You never know what's coming living with you.  It's funny, generally, when the moment doesn't directly involve your own personal space.  It's usually disturbing when the unsettling is on top of your own head.

The world is your drum...and everything is a drumstick.  It is deafening around you.  When you go to the restroom, the toilet paper holder is your microphone.  Sometimes I walk in to your "concerts" to see your "microphone" swinging from one hand, eyes squeezed shut in concentration, opposite hand lifted and swaying to the music, feet dangling and kicking to the rhythm.  You have fallen completely from the toilet on three separate occasions as a result of this enthusiasm for your "Commode Concerts."  You speak loudly, you sing loudly, you beat your fork against the table even snore when you sleep (loudly.)  It simultaneously makes me think I am going to lose my mind and makes me laugh.  

If plans change, no problem.  You jump in to change with both feet.  You tackle new things with unhampered enthusiasm and meet new people like you were born to love them.  You follow Carter around in every way.  If he cries, you cry.  If he laughs, you laugh.  If he suggests something that is too unknown, too risky, or runs too high a risk for parental consequence for him to attempt on his own, you do it.  It is fully terrifying.  

You delight in chaos.  I remember the first time I took you to the beach.  You crawled straight for the waves with no fear, eating sand along the way.  I had to wipe mountains of sand from you daily that week.  Still, I wipe mountains of your life from your face and hands after every meal and adventure outside. It is unbelievable the messes one tiny creature can manufacture.  I admire it in you. I admire your courage and zest.  I'm excited to see what your brave spirit will do in this world.  (I am also praying for unmeasured wisdom to balance your courage!)

When you were born, I said again and again that you were sweet grace to me in the middle of hard days.  You were such an easy baby.  You loved to be held and let me tote you around wherever I needed to go.  You were patient with Carter's wild two year old antics, and you snuggled into me anytime I would hold you.  You still love to be held.  I always tell you that you have to "lie down", and you wrap your arms around my neck and put your head on my shoulder.  I feel my chest physically tighten every time little guy.  It seems impossible to love three people so dearly simultaneously.  But I do.  You are my middle little.  My unexpected laugh.  My sweet gift of grace.

I love you Samuel Beckett.