Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Happy belated Memorial Day weekend to you all!

We enjoyed the long weekend in Livingston, Texas at my in-laws new lake house. It was so nice to get away just the four of us. There is something about being away from home that helps me physically and mentally rest much better than I'm able to do when inside my own walls. And typing that makes it seem so backwards, no? Because really, I shouldn't have to leave my regular life to rest well. I need to live daily from a place of rest so I can be the best version of myself. For not only myself, but for my family and friends and goodness, for the Lord.

So . . . Needless to say, I'm working on this very concept, little-by-little.

Packing up children for several days away is never easy, nor is any vacation free from meltdowns or small child frustrations, but in the end? It's always worth it.

Here's a few photos from our days at the lake . . .

Yes, Clara sleeps in a tent at night when we are away from home. This is something we thought of last fall when sleeping away from home no longer became feasible, and it has worked SO well. Special needs parents of kiddos who can't function in a "typical room/typical bed" situation (when not at home), TRY IT. Game changer. Of course this might not work for kiddos who understand how to unzip the opening, but for now we are soaking in this victory.

Look at me. I did a craft with my child and I did not die. :)

As we drove in Friday, we saw a sign for Tempe Creek Ranch. After a few email exchanges and giving them some information about Clara, they invited us out for a tour. Loved it and we hope to take Clara back next trip to test out riding one of the smaller horses (she is hit or miss when it comes to sitting on a pony/horse/or like animal, please refer to this post, ahem).

The majority of our time was spent in an outdoor pool that Brandon surprised us with right after we arrived. Best daddy ever.

Camille taking selfies. . .

A huge thanks to my in-laws for allowing us to crash their place on a holiday weekend, after only owning it for a few weeks. We can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Last Day of school for the 2016-2017 school year

You all know I wouldn't have remembered to take last day of school pictures on my own. But thanks to my always-on-the-ball friends, I snapped a few.

First day for Camille . . .

I didn't think to take a picture of Camille by our front door on the morning of her last day, but I did get her to pose with her wonderful teachers before she walked out of that classroom door for the last time. Thanks to my friend, Wendi, that is. Because I didn't even bring my phone into school at pick up on Thursday. How I blogged each month's milestones for both girls from age 0-2 years I will never know. I've lost some brain cells since then. 
Clara's school doesn't break for summer (boo!), but for comparison sake and to see how much she's grown over a typical school year, I snapped a few of her on her "last day."

(Her school operates year round and is only closed on major business holidays.)

"First day" for Clara . . . 
"Last day" for Clara . . And yes, there are stains all over her clothes because again, didn't think to do this until after pick up on Thursday. Ain't nobody got time for changing clothes for a two second picture. :)
Both Clara and Camille have grown by leaps and bounds this year and have been blessed with amazing, caring, and intentional teachers/therapists. Thankful just doesn't cut it.

Summertime her we come!

Well, sort of. :)

Friday, May 12, 2017

When Mother's Day Feels Different

Mother's Day is around the corner and I know, for some of you, your heart is dancing between joy and sadness, peace and questioning, contentment and longing.

For some of you, Mother's Day has a way of making you feel a bit off. A bit different. It can be a day of  many mixed emotions.

Some of you are missing your own mother. Wishing she was by your side, journeying life with you, but for whatever reason, be it distance or estrangement or death, she is not.

I understand this pain.

I said goodbye to my biological mother as a young child. Her life taken by Lupus. And while I am blessed and thankful to have a mother via re-marriage and adoption, one who has raised me well and helped fill the gap, there is a tiny piece of my heart missing.

Some of you are aching for a child who preceded you to heaven. A little one born too soon by miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Or maybe you lost an adult child. You are wishing he or she was celebrating with you today, but they are not, and you feel a bit incomplete on this day because instead of embracing them in a hug today you are visiting their gravesite.

I understand this pain.

Our story includes a miscarriage at two months pregnant and a miscarriage/stillbirth at five months pregnant.  I have a son who lives in heaven and who I still think about on a daily basis. And while I am thankful for my two earthly daughters, they will never replace my son who I carried for five months and held in my arms for five hours.

Some of you are longing for a child to call your own. You are walking the road of infertility and feel a bit lost on this day. You long to be a mama and this day is just one more reminder of an unfulfilled prayer and dream. You watch as other mothers are celebrated and while you rejoice with them, your heart hurts.

I understand this pain.

Infertility was my story for a short time. I cannot pretend to know what it is like to walk this road endlessly, but I do remember the lows and disapointments that come with endless doctor's appointments, hormone shots, blood draws, and canceled/failed cycles.

However you are feeling on this Mother's Day, give yourself permission to feel it.

Cry if you need to cry. Skip out on events if it feels like too much. There is grace upon grace for days like this one. You don't have to hold it together. You don't have to fake it. You don't have to live up to any expectations on this day. Your sadness is not ungratefulness, dear one. Your tears are not flowing from a faithless heart. You are human with human emotions and God understands your hurt and hurts with you.

But if you feel the urge to laugh, laugh. Attend an event that brings joy and life. You have permission to live fully and joyfully and with open arms. This is the abundant life that Jesus offers, despite our circumstances, so if you feel the smile come this Mother's Day, grab it and hold tight. This is God's good gift to you. Refuse to feel guilt when the laughter comes, dear one. Laughter does not equal forgetfulness. Your mother or child or longing will never be forgotten.

A few verses to meditate on if this Mother's Day feels different for you . . . 

Now you've got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way. Psalm 16:11

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 

God, the one and only - I'll wait as long as he says, everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? He's solid rock under my feet. Psalm 62: 5-6 MSG

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5 

Much love to you all this Mother's Day. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Clara's 5th birthday celebration continued

We continued Clara's birthday celebration last Tuesday by throwing a mini "party" at school with her classmates. To say the kids enjoyed the sugar was an understatement. Cookies, brownies, juice, and goldfish for all (and, important to note, little bags full of party favors/surprises for the children, aka small plastic annoyances for the parents).

Clara's teachers made a crown for her to wear all day. Sweetest. She is now the only girl in her class, so to say she is their little princess would be an accurate description.

Proud little sister. . .

My parent's gift to Clara was a beta fish, that lives on her wall. Yep, on her wall. Clara is indifferent about it (ideally, we need a fish that swims a bit faster to catch Clara's attention) but she still enjoys looking at it from time to time. And not surprisingly, Camille is nuts over it!

Also, important to note, Camille has named the fish "Ice Pack." Someone just sign this fish up for therapy now. Someone also please remind me that I need to 1. Feed Ice Pack and 2. Change the tank water from time to time. May the odds ever be in Ice Pack's favor.

We treated the birthday girl to dinner at Chuy's. She absolutely loves their mac and cheese, so we figured it the perfect night for her favorite. 

The celebration continued on Saturday at our house as we hosted our families with a "Pizza and Pony" party. I know what you're thinking. A pony? Really? But y'all, one of Clara's favorite things is taking a pony ride. The last handful of times we have visited a local farm, animal park, you name it, she has hopped on with no problem and she never wants to get off. As in, she cries and holds on and cries some more when her turn comes to an end.

So this was our rationale going into her party. Not much lights up our girl so when something does, you don't take it lightly. We figured if she could talk, she would ask for a pony ride for her 5th birthday.

So we got her a pony.

And she hated it.

Meet Sammy . . .

From the rear view it looks as though she might be having a good time. Don't be fooled. She was having it for about .2 seconds, just enough time for me to snap a pic. :)

Oh, the irony. You love ponies and then we get you a pony and you hate it.

I had to just shake it off and as Brandon kept reminding me, "Britt, it was still worth it. Because we were intentional and we tried." (Post on this very idea coming soon. . . )

Clara much preferred to be in her swing, watching Sammy from a distance.

And have no fear, little sister quickly became BFF's with Sammy and got our money's worth.

We love you, Clara! While you did not have a blast with Sammy, we sure did have a blast celebrating YOU. And regardless of your distain for Sammy, you're a pretty cool kid.

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