Waving hello and goodbye to her first year of life, Elleanna Joy turns one year old!

Aside

Elleanna Joy embodies passion. Each day she wakes up with bright eyes, a few seconds past ready for a bottle. Then we begin our dressing dance. I pull one arm out of her PJs, she grasps the dresser drawers and walks one step away. I then pull out the other arm and she flails them, a little miffed by the fact that they are now both pinned under her shirt. Then I very quickly make a “whooop!” sound and pull the onesie over her head. She runs around jungle-book-style, as Matt calls it – only in her diaper and teething necklace. She talke to me in Le-Lish and begins zooming around the nursery while I pick out her first outfit of the day (outfits usually don’t make it too much farther than 4 hours). Then with another “whoop” I get the onesie over her head. This action usually results in a little angry shout. Then I quickly work to get her arms in the shirt and her legs into her pants. Whew. The first 10 minutes of the day are accomplished!

I am continually in awe of this little beauty. She sweetly waltzed into my life, a graceful little piece of heaven sent to my care. Granted, these fuzzy feelings DEFINITELY don’t last 24/7, and we have had some hard days. But when I get a chance to sit down, and think of all that has unfolded this past year, wonder washes over me, cleansing the strain of hard nights. This year has challenged my core self – who am I as a woman and a mom? I have new dreams and still old dreams in my heart. I have awkwardly stumbled into motherhood (seriously… Matt had to teach me how to properly change a diaper!). I have cried, felt selfish, and I have boiled in frustration and fear. I have embodied selflessness, creatively entertained a grumpy little one, and I even brought some personal equilibrium back to my life.

Tomorrow my LeLe turns one. This tummy drumming, stair climbing, ee-i–eeeee-i-ooo singing little love is blooming into a toddler.

This week, we found ourselves out and about quite a bit in the early evenings, and we often didn’t time getting home at the right time to get the baby to bed. As LeLe cried in the car, Matt and I started singing “me me me” symphonies (where we sing the word “me” like Bieker from the muppets and make up elaborate songs). She immediately quites down when we do this, and this week she even sang a long a little. We also make up ridiculous verses to Old McDonald (I am sure every parent does this trick), in any attempt to keep her from completely melting down in her car seat.

This past month, LeLe has experimented more and more with her vocabulary, copying a lot of things that we say. And she is making up her own jokes. One weekend we were over at a friend’s house for a BBQ, and she really needed to go down for a nap. So I took her into the guest room where her pack and play was set up and tried to get her to go down. After many unsuccessful tries, I finally laid down next to her and gave her a flower from my hair to play with. She started brushing it against my mouth, and each time she did, I made a slurping sound. She dissolved into laughter and then repeated the act over and over again. Oh, how this is my favorite sound.

Let’s talk about different types of pipes and tubes. We have a left over vacuum attachment tube that we use to water our high sitting house plant from the top of our staircase. I laid it on the carpet and started using it like a trumpet. She glared at me a bit, and then when I tried to put it to her mouth, she pushed it away. So I went around the corner. I heard her slowly pick it up and say “do do do do do” into the tube. But when I looked back to watch, she quickly shoved the tube to the floor and looked at me like “this is none of your business mom.” Sigh. This was my first glimpse that someday, I will have a teenager.

There are many other pipes LeLe does not like. She cries when Matt plays his sax. She also cries at any pitch pipes. She does, however, love echoes. In bathrooms, big rooms and especially cups! And speaking of cups, she wants a taste from every single one she sees. LeLe continues to love unpacking, but she has also added re-packing to her repertoire. Because we spent the entire month packing our house up for staging and selling, she had a ball helping us get ready with packing boxes and such.

We had many fun events this month too. LeLe went to her second car cruise. We started on the patio of a main street restaurant for dinner, watching all of the classic cars begin to cruise (and listening to Matt name them all). LeLe and I primarily watched the pretty colors and split nachos with Memaw and Papa. Then we moved down main street to another location and set up lawn chairs with Nana and Grandpa to watch more of the parade.

LeLe also watched The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie for the first time! She danced to the music and really loved all of the characters. Matt and I love the muppets, so this is a great sign! LeLe also took up many forms of dancing – she dances with her Memaw while punching the music button on her walker (ending the dance session with the barge call and her mimicking this). When we play music on the computer in the kitchen, she crawls over, stands up and be-bops around. And just this week, LeLe started waving hello and goodbye to anyone and everyone. She also exhibits independence in wanting to eat everything on her own (this poses a challenge in finding lots of four-teeth-only-friendly finger foods).

What a progression from finding out I was pregnant to a whole year with our baby. Every growth of her limbs, every breath she exhales and every toothy grin she bestows speaks of God’s miracles. We love our smart, sassy, sweet, cuddly people-person little lady. We see the seeds of a beautiful woman unfolding right before our eyes.

Happy birthday Elle Joy! We love you!

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(Here are some sneak peak photos from our family photo shoot this past week with our friend Adam Bradley of AdamFusion. He does wedding videography, but also photography. Check out his website for more of his work – http://www.afweddings.tv/)

 

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Open my mouth and fill it

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Appetites. I have many of them. I crave advancement. I want to relax and have fun. I want to grow. And every summer, I seriously chow down on fresh Colorado cherries and peaches. 

I teach an Introduction to Mass Media class at the local community college here, and this semester our discussions often turned toward cultural demands and appetites, and how our individualistic me-driven society demands content when ever we want it and exactly how we want it. This, in turn, shapes the content that is produced, as well as segments advertising until in a lot of ways, we as individuals can shape the messages we hear and receive. We CHOOSE, and yet our appetites are incessantly ravenous. 

In an effort to shut out all of the segmented noise, I have started soaking in God’s Word with an old fashioned pen and paper and a real print Bible. I do not always succeed at this. Many morning my nearly one year old beats me to the punch, and there is no way I am trusting her to sit near my well-loved paper Bible. And some mornings when I sit down, I can barely stop my mind from spinning and rushing all directions at once. My appetite to learn loves the vast resources available to me, and my drive to connect and be social tends to command much of my time and heart. I say all this to point out a realization I experienced… 

I had planned to take the day off yesterday. I happened to wake up around 6 a.m. and I could not go back to sleep. So I decided to get up and start some devotions… and yet I could barely focus. I felt so shallow. Here was a gift of time, with a sleeping baby and husband, and I could barely even decipher what I wanted (or needed) to do to be restored. This thought saddened me. I know business kills dreams, but somedays, I have no idea how to stop it and better focus who I am and my efforts. I had a good chunk of time to do whatever I wanted (trust me…a VERY rare element in new-baby land!), and yet I realized that I didn’t even know what I liked or wanted to do anymore. 

This morning, God’s direct words to the Israelites in Psalm 81 jumped out at me in answer of this state of my heart: 

“You called in trouble and I delivered you. I answered you in the secret place of thunder… Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you… Don’t worship any foreign God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” 

I open my mouth to many unfulfilling and addicting things. Yet when God says He will fill my mouth, He wants to fill me to the brim and cause thorough saturation with His blessings. He wants to fulfill His Word in me, and He wants to fill the earth with the awareness of His glory. He longs to fill us with His spirit. At my heart of hearts, I long to live from this filling, to choose this life instead of the many demands tugging at me. 

The Lord goes on to say in Psalm 81: 

“But my people would not heed my voice, and Israel would have none of Me, so I have them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies… I would have ged you with the finest wheat and with honey from the rock. I would have satisfied you.” 

Today, may we choose what really satisfies and nourishes us. Trust me, I rarely get this, but I want to. And I need to. 

Fill me up, God. Saturate my life with Your presence and fill me with Your spirit. 

(Check out “Fill Me Up” by Will Reagan) 

 

Vroom!: Elleanna Joy takes off like a race car into 11 months and beyond

Yep, this month our lives changed dramatically… LeLe is on the move! 

At the beginning of April she really took off with the whole crawling thing, finally putting wings to the desires of her heart to get into nearly everything imaginable in the house. I was quite used to some time to work on school work and just hang out with her during the days I am alone with her… but not anymore! LeLe is up and at ’em. 

One day, Matt and I were sitting eating dinner with LeLe at the kitchen table. Matt decided that he wanted me to hear many of his favorite Weird Al songs… and to our surprise, LeLe was also delighted. She started bobble head dancing, something she still practices on a daily basis, much to the amusement of our entire family. 

LeLe’s favorite toys of the month: 

Matt’s extra laptop mouse, the puppy bowls of food and water, baskets full of clean laundry, all of our electronic devices, and light switches (especially the one in her nursery…she always wants to play with this instead of getting her diaper changed). Forget the room full of fun stuffed animals and books that are available to her! 

This month, all she has wanted to do is stand and stand and stand. She even attempts a little bit of freestanding and clapping. And when Matt hangs her upside down in his arms, she smiles and laughs, and grabs the hair on the top of her head, just like she is afraid it will fall out if she doesn’t hold it. 

Also this month, Memaw and Papa incessantly sang “Old McDonald” with LeLe. She has really owned the verse about the bunny, and she puckers her lips out and blows in and out in quick breaths while crinkling her nose. Cutest. Thing. Ever!

When we take the puppies for a walk, LeLe continues to enjoy the breeze. She also thinks it is funny when I chastise the dogs by saying “Ah Ah Ah!” LeLe smiles and repeats emphatically the same phrases. Her vocabulary has sky rocketed this month… from her first word of “uh-oh” a few months ago, she now says “Tank Oo”, “Hi”, “Da Da” and “Ee i Ee i” as well as several other mimics of our phrases. And she still loves the play the thank you game… where she hands us items (and often wet half chewed food). 

These last few weeks, she has been sleeping through the night most nights… there have been a few rough ones here and there, but I am so thankful that she is learning to sleep better! She has been so hungry, so we spend all day feeding her, giving her bottles and giving her sippy cup water drinks (and she ALWAYS wants a taste of what we are drinking!)

And if we could ask LeLe her favorite triumph of the month, I am pretty sure she would tell us that she is now very happy that she can finally chase her cousin Niam around the house! She is not quite as fast as him yet, but she sure is catching up. 

Whew, what a busy month this has been! We are looking forward to a summer with our little toddler… introducing her to hiking, lots of swimming and playing in the grass. We sure love our little baby bug, and we can hardly believe it has already been almost a year since she was born!

*These pictures are getting so much harder to take! LeLe is such a wiggle-worm!

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