Thursday, December 4, 2014

Eighteen Months

I feel like 18 months is that golden age that so many parents refer to. I've always heard that it's when they start to understand more of what you say and they learn to communicate themselves, so life becomes a bit easier. I can't believe we're already at that stage of the game. How is this little man the same kid I kissed goodnight tonight? --> 

They weren't kidding about communication, by the way. Levi still has a lot to learn, but his popular words and phrases are currently "car," "ready to go," "go, go, go," "go to the car,"  and the occasional "up!" :) Cars are just his thing right now. I'll catch him flipping through books now and then, and with each page, he says, "Car. Go car. Go go go!" A boy through and through. Our recent funny story was when he found a book about fire trucks at my parents house. He came running over to me with the book yelling, "Car! Car!" So I said, "Yea, buddy. Fire trucks!" And he said, "Hmm. Fire car." How could you argue with that?

Our once good eater has suddenly proven he is his father's son. He is as picky as I'll get out. I always said it's important to just keep offering him whatever I prepare and eventually he'll get hungry enough. But I'm starting to doubt my methods. There are days he only drinks a few cups of milk, eats half a granola bar, a few bites of chicken, and cheese. I don't worry about it too much though, considering he's 30 lbs and in the 95 percentile for weight. (35% for height, so he's short and stout!)

Levi has become pretty fascinated with talking on the phone. He has a few play phones he plays around with, but most of the time, he just puts his shoulder to his ear and says, "Heeeeey. dakj oeij sdkfioe  ok?" He'll do it every time I answer the phone, and apparently every time the buzzer sounds at basketball games! When he is done, he has this fake laugh where one side of his mouth goes higher than the other, and he squints one eye and cackles. It kills us!

His hugs and kisses are just the most precious thing. He still loves his morning cuddles and reading books on our laps. He has learned how the books are supposed to go, so if we "read" on the wrong page, he'll point to it and pound on the book until we read the right part. Smartie pants. He is also starting to (finally) hold my hand and walk with me. The moments he reaches up for my hand melts my heart, but not as much as his dance moves do. They pretty much just consist of stomping his feet really fast, then cheering for himself, but it's hilarious.

Levi was a great sport during his first football season! It was there he learned to say "Go!" and I swear that kid thought everyone was always cheering for him. Levi spent the majority of the games marching around and exploring. Thankfully I had sweet friends and grandparents help me with him so I could actually watch Brett coach. Some of my favorite moments during season with Levi were during team dinners, when Brett would be giving announcements, Levi would march right up to him and stand tall, looking up at Brett and looking around at everyone like, "You tell 'em, Dad!"

The past three months have been the most fun and difficult all at the same time. Most of month 16 consisted of fits and hitting and screaming. I felt like I was failing as a parent, but stuck to my guns and stayed consistent. I had a complete meltdown one night, I had just had enough. And literally the very next morning, Levi woke up so sweet and cuddly and he has been awesome ever since! Other than the occasional jealousy when I'm around other babies, he's really snapped out of that awful stage!

We love watching Levi become a sweet, determined, outgoing, funny little boy! Being a mom is one of the greatest joys of my life, but being his mom is even more incredible. I am so undeserving, so grateful, so blessed. We thank the Lord for Levi Jack, and beg Him to lead and guide Levi every day. We pray that God would pierce his heart so he might know Him and follow Him. I now know the meaning of "praying without ceasing," because every fiber of my being whispers these prayers all day long.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fifteen Months

Our baby is all grown up! At fifteen months, I've got my hands full with this boy. He is a total ball of energy. If he's not running, climbing, or eating, he's not happy! He now has 8 teeth and constant banged up knees from playing outside. His favorite toys are still Scout, his lawn mower, and his books! Here's a little list of all the things Levi has been up to lately!

  • Walking/Running. The day after Levi turned a year old, he took off and he hasn't slowed down since. It's actually funny because now and then I'll catch him crawling (usually when he's playing with his trucks) and I just laugh because I haven't seen him crawl in so long!
  • Laughing at his own jokes. Levi babbles pretty much non stop when he's playing around here. Every now and then we'll hear him talk and talk, and then he'll throw his head back laughing like, "Wow, that was a good one, Self!" Kills me.
  • Wrestles. I'm learning his love language is touch. The more we wrestle around by throwing blankets at each other or we're tackling him to tickle him, the more lovey and happy he gets. If we're not available to wrestle with him, he then recruits Sophie or Scout and jumps around on our bed or the couch until he finds something else to entertain him (or until Sophie's had enough!)
  • Kisses. My personal favorite. The other day he actually stopped, grabbed my face, then pulled me in to kiss me. Heart melted.
  • Waving "hi" and "bye" and giving high fives. He did all these things at 1, but now they're much more intense. What once was a calm little wave of the fingers is now a full out arm flopping around, and his high fives actually "clap" a little. Then when he's done, he claps for himself!
  • Levi knows what a lion says, what a monkey says, how airplanes fly, and where his belly is. We're working on
    his nose and what a train says. I think he understands more than he lets on, and sometimes that concerns me ;)
  • He has NO interest being in the stroller. Trips to the zoo have come to a halt after an all out war by the penguins a few weeks ago. He just wants to run in every direction other than where we'd like him to go. Fun times.
  • Full out fits. These will strike at any time, so we must be on guard. ;) He will
    scream and clench his fists and grit his teeth while shaking his head "no." When we're at home, we just ignore it and after about 10 minutes the kid comes to grips. When we're in public, we....well, we're still trying to figure out how to handle that. These fits have me questioning my parenting ability at times, but I've been reassured fits are just something toddlers do to test boundaries, so I'm hoping  he'll just learn super fast that Mama always wins. :)
Seeing more and more of who Levi is and his heart just blesses my life. I'm so thankful for his sweet, adventurous demeanor. He plays hard, sleeps hard, and loves hard, and he keeps us on our toes! My prayer for him grows all the time. Every night we pray that Levi would "get a good nights sleep so that he could grow to know and follow You. Make him a man among men, that he would spread Your Word to the nations and be a leader in his family, his work, and in his community." It's been so fun to watch Levi discover more and more of the world around him, and I pray for the grace and discernment I need to be the best mom I could be to him.

We love you, Levi Jack, and we enjoy watching you grow more every day!

Happy Thirdiversary!!

Three whole years. It may not sound that long to most, but it really does feel like I just met Brett on my doorstep for the first time! Now we're three years in and elbow deep in diapers and grown up decisions! The day I married Brett, I knew I married a keeper. I knew he was the one God had for me and I was completely confident in our relationship. Looking back, it's like I barely knew him. Living with someone for almost 1,100 days will make you think that. But growing to know this man more and more has become such a blessing. It's an honor to wake up beside him, watch God work in him, and cheer him on every step of the way. A few years ago I blogged about what I learned after a year of marriage. Those things still hold true, but now I have an even bigger list of lessons.
  • When you spend a little time each day doing something to make the life of your spouse a little easier, life at home becomes sweeter. Examples include having dinner ready when Brett gets home (something I'm NOT good at but have tried harder at,) making sure the folded socks and underwear make it to his drawer and not left in the laundry basket so he doesn't have to search all morning (sounds pretty elementary, but again, something I'm trying to improve on), transferring money at the ATM for him so he doesn't need to stop on his way home, having Levi bathed and in his jammies before Brett gets home so they get to spend quality time together before bedtime, etc...
  • Say "yes" a lot. Really. If he asks for a drink or for me to run and errand for him, I just say yes. Brett doesn't take advantage of me with this, or that would be another story. But he appreciates what I do for him, and in turn, he says "yes" to me a lot too. It draws us closer, builds our dependence on each other, and gives us easy opportunities to serve one another.
  • Pray for your spouse. I can't stress this enough. Pray. Pray. Pray.
  • Don't fight God's work in the heart of your spouse. Brett and I desire to grow closer to the Lord as a couple, but also as individuals. There have been times Brett has been convicted about something or I've been convicted about something that, at first, we don't see eye to eye on. However, when we hear each other out and pray for each other like I mentioned before, it's amazing to see what God can do in us as individuals and as a family. Example: I felt strongly from day one the need to stay home with our babies. Brett was never opposed to it, but he didn't share the same conviction. However, he heard me out and we prayed about it, and we found a solution that fit our positions. Now we are enjoying the benefits of following God's call.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again: HAVE FUN TOGETHER. There are times we are stressed.
    We are tired and our hands are full. Be it a sick kid or bills stacking up or stress at work, it's easy to put your relationship on hold. But we really try not to do that. Whether it's renting a movie, going on a walk, or planning a date night, we really make the effort to stop and laugh and enjoy each other. Which really takes very little effort, really. Like I said, I married a keeper. Brett is so much fun and so easy to live with. I pray I'm as much as a delight to him as he is to me. And I am looking forward to the next 3 years and counting as we grow closer to one another and the Lord.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Update

It blows my mind that we're already half way through July, my favorite month of the year. I don't know what I love most: the sunshine, the water, or the way we shamelessly chow down box after box of freezie pops every week. Between our crazy summer schedule, a busy 13 1/2 month old boy, and a few big changes, I've struggled to write and keep up with this blog, but the kid is snuggled up with his Scout bear, Brett's watching something about football (surprised?), and I'm upstairs enjoying the silence, accompanied by the sweet sounds of a tired dog lying beside my chair. And so I write...

I'll start with the star of the blog, these days. Mr. Levi Jack has grown up so much in the last 7 weeks. For one, he started walking the day after his first birthday. Such a stinker, that boy, because I had told so many I was just sure he would start walking before he turned one, and he had to wait another 24 hours to take off. He and I were on the back patio and he took 8 steps towards me. I cheered for him and gave him a hug, then as he sat down to play I texted Brett and said, "8 steps!!" As I set my phone down, Levi started walking again, and this time he took 20 steps. I wrote Brett again and told him I didn't think we would need to actually count each step anymore because he seemed to really get it. Brett hurried home and we laughed and cheered as Levi walked to him for the first time. Within about a week, we started seeing a lot less crawling and a lot more walking. Nowadays, he "marches" with his big, fat, flat feet all over the place. It's the cutest.

Levi has also been doing everything else toddler's do. He can now go down the steps, as well as up, so there's no "safe place" to put him. His favorite activities include emptying cabinets, splashing in the toilets, belly flopping on our bed, us, and the dog, emptying his diaper bag, and babbling non stop. He has learned how to roar like a lion by putting his arms up as we say "roar!" and then when he's done he claps for himself. He waves hi, signs "more," gives high fives, and his newest trick is whispering. The frustrating part of early toddlerhood so far has been how much he fights getting dressed or having his diaper changed, or really any change at all. It seems to take him a little while to transition to new places or activities before he's happy again. This boy and his agenda need to be reminded daily that he's not in charge. Fun times.

Right before Levi turned one, he came down with his 4th ear infection in 4 months. By the time his birthday party rolled around, he was happier, but within days we were onto his fifth infection. Brett and I and our doctor agreed it was time for tubes. Unfortunately, we still had to wait about 2 weeks, and they were the worst 2 weeks ever. Levi fussed 24/7, pulling on his ears and throwing fits on the floor. Three antibiotics later and the infection was barely going away. Car rides were the worst, which was surprising because you'd think they'd put him to sleep, but there must have been even more pressure on his ears because he cried and cried. We were so sad for him and compassionate, for sure, but we were drained and desperate for Tube Day to arrive. Sure enough, like everyone says, the tube procedure was short and sweet and, other than the fact that another ear infection had just begun, he was relatively happy. Within a few short days we had our sweet boy back! Praise the good Lord!

In the midst of all of that craziness, Brett took a new job! He is now the head football coach and P.E. teacher at an area high school nearby. This was such an answer to prayer! As much as he loved his old job, he desired to be closer to home. This new job cuts his drive down by about 6 hours a week! That's 6 more hours we get to spend time with him and 6 less hours of wear and tear on his car. Plus, he was offered a job by a solid community that really seems to be a good fit for him as a teacher and coach, but also for us as a family. Our summer plans shifted some as he now has early morning workouts, camps, and a thousand other responsibilities I could never keep up with, but I'm unbelievably proud of him and excited to cheer for him and his team this fall! Don't get me wrong, I am NOT wishing our summer away as Levi and I will miss him so much when season begins, but it will be fun spending our weekends as a family under the Friday night lights for a while!

There aren't a lot of updates on my life these days due to me having to keep up with the Fox boys (which I am so glad I get to do!) One thing, though, that I've really tried to do this summer has been to simplify my life. I've never been one who works well around clutter, and but somehow I got behind and before I knew it my mind was tired. It started with simple things, like throwing the junk mail in the recycle bin before ever taking it in the house. (I HATE piles of paper!) But then it went from there and now, between less clutter physically and technology wise (deleting old Facebook contacts, emptying inboxes, keeping a basic phone instead of a smart phone,) I feel more focused and less overwhelmed! The other thing I've been doing is making a list of projects to work on during football season. I'm a big believer this is the key to not feeling lonely during season. This season I'm hoping to paint the kitchen and living room, as well on work on a few decorative projects for them. Thank you, Pinterest. 

Wow, this has been a long update on just the last few weeks. Funny how life flies by. I haven't even written about Levi's birthday party, our time at my parents pool, zoo trips, our new nephew, or Sophie's new found love of lying on the top of the couch like a cat. I'll have to settle with just a random array of pictures because it's almost 10pm and that's late for me these days. To wrap it up, here are the lyrics to one of my all time favorite hymns and the song of my heart these days:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. 
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in light of His glory and grace!"

Thursday, May 29, 2014

One Year Old!

Twelve Months
This was the best I could get! These became more challenging the older he got!

My baby, you're one! Tears fill my eyes as I attempt to grasp the reality of this. This year has been the most joyful, trying, beautiful year of my life! 365 days with you and each one keeps getting better. This month you cut your top two teeth, which caused you to be more difficult to please (putting it nicely!) However, you've started giving hugs and laughing to yourself as you play, and that helps offset any of your more challenging moments! You're still not taking more than one or two steps at a time, but you've learned how to go DOWN the steps (thanks to your dad!) which has allowed you to get into much more mischief :) You've also started dancing anytime music is hold onto the couch with your hands then shake your booty! So cute! My new favorite thing you do, though, is give hugs! You hold on tight and lay your head on my's the best! Your favorite thing to do lately has been to play much so that when it's time to come inside, you scream and throw a fit for quite some time! It's exhausting, but I love that you love the nice weather as much as I do! 

Sweet Levi Jack, you've changed me. You've made me see the world in a whole new way. You've made me stop and notice how the trees rustle in the wind. You've reminded me how much grass tickles and that mud is kind of cold. I never watched a mama bird fly from her nest into the yard, find a worm, then take in back to her babies until you came around. Thank you for that gift, Levi.

You've forced me to think about myself less. The last 365 days I've been elbow deep in messy diapers and soaked head to toe in vomit and my only thoughts have been about what was in your best interest. (Of course I'd be lying if I didn't also think about how awful it all smelled but I promise, I first felt for you.) There have been times I have felt like I have had less time to serve others and randomly help people out, but the truth is every moment of my life now is consumed with serving you, sweet boy. When I wonder what I can do to honor God each day, it's you that I get to care for and nurture and raise and point to Him. Such a beautiful thing.

You've given me a better glimpse of the Father's love for us. I think so much about my love for you, how I love you so much it actually hurts. Yes, it makes my heart ache being so full of love. To think that God loved His Son so much, but yet He was willing to let Him be the sacrifice we needed for redemption, for a chance to know Him, because He loved My great love for you has made me all the more aware and grateful for His love for me!

This last year...too fast? You bet. But in the speed of it all, you've made it more. Too fast? Sure. But also too sweet, too wonderful, too breathtaking, too hilarious, way too stinkin' good. I look at you, my hammy little man, and stare in wonder. This precious little life I got to deliver into this world. I am beyond humbled. Beyond grateful. Beyond amazed.

So today, I'm soaking you all in. I'm going to treasure your noisy "guh's" bright and early and the way you pat my chest and back out of excitement when I get you from your crib. I'm going to laugh at the noisy inhale when you see Sophie first thing in the morning. I'm going to remember how warm your cheeks feel when I give you kisses after your naps and how yummy your head smells when we have our post nap snuggles. I'm going to giggle with you at the sounds Sophie makes when she eats her food and smile as you open and close every cabinet and door you come across. I'm going to hang you upside down and kiss your belly over and over again just to hear you laugh and laugh and laugh.

We pray once again that you would fall in love with Jesus and that your little life would make a big impact on this world. Not because of who you are, but because of what the Lord has done through you! "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:9-14)

I love you as big as the world, my boy,
With all of my heart, with hugs and kisses and a million more,

One Year in Pictures

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Dedication

This time of year last year, I spent an afternoon watching Ellen's Mother's Day special on DVR with envy as I sat in bed eating countless Flavor Icicles. First time mom's were receiving thousands of dollars worth of free baby stuff right in front of my eyes as I lounged in my sweats, praying time would fly so I could meet the acrobat baby maneuvering around in my belly. I was 38 weeks pregnant, and while everybody earlier that day at church sweetly wished me, "Happy Mother's Day," I didn't feel like a mom. I felt like a balloon. A giant, sweaty, contracting balloon who wanted so badly to be in California with Ellen. Anybody been there? Anyone?

I had waited for this day for so long. The day when "Mother's Day" pertained to me. And not because I'm a fan of Hallmark Holidays (because I'm really not,) but because I always dreamed about the day I would have children of my own. And I had ideas on how I would raise them: in a home full of family who loved the Lord with fervor, where we'd eat and grow and play and learn. I knew I wanted to surrender my kids to the Lord. I just didn't know what that looked like. But today on Mother's Day, Brett and I stood in front of our church body with Levi as we proclaimed our desire to dedicate him to Jesus and our wish that everyone there would encourage us, hold us accountable, and help us raise him to grow to know the Lord as his Savior. It was an emotional day, because this past year, I've realized how scary it can be to surrender your child to God. You see, this wasn't the first time I confessed to the Lord that Levi was HIS, not mine, and I wanted HIS will for his life.

The first time I dedicated Levi to Jesus was about 12 hours after I learned his little life was growing inside me. Signs of miscarriage began, and Brett and I lied in bed and cried and prayed that Jesus would protect our baby, but also we begged Him for HIS will to be done, and we prayed with confidence that no matter what He chose to do, we would praise Him. Hardest prayer ever. 

Weeks later I remember surrendering Levi to the Lord again at church while singing "10,000 Reasons" during worship (which "ironically" we sang again this morning!) Up to that point, all attempts to hear his heartbeat had failed, and we were going in the next morning for another check up. I sang "Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes." And that was my prayer. That God would allow whatever would give Him glory, and I trusted that He loved Levi even more than I did. So I tearfully prayed, "Lord he's yours." (And yes, I really did say "he" because I just knew we were having a boy!)

Levi was dedicated to Jesus one last time just 4 weeks before he was born as I sat in the church pew at a funeral for the one week old baby boy of my sweet friend. Words will never adequately describe how sad, how vulnerable, how guilty and shocked and scared and numb I really felt. It was so unfair that the first time I was meeting her beautiful baby boy, he lied lifeless in a tiny casket. I knew right then I would never understand God's ways, but I chose to believe that somewhere in the midst of the hurt and anger and guilt and fear, my God was still a loving, gracious God who's love for His
children was higher than the mountains and deeper than the oceans. The safest place for my baby to be wasn't in my belly or my tight embrace. No, it was in the arms of Jesus, just as my friend's baby was. So I cried and I prayed, that the Lord would comfort my friends. I prayed that Jesus would meet their baby boy at the Gates and hold him tightly so that he would feel so loved and wouldn't be scared. And I told the Lord that I'm giving Levi back to Him, to do as He sees fit, because He is good. It hurt and filled me with peace all at once. And my heart has never been the same.

So today as we "officially" dedicate Levi to Jesus, our prayer remains: that God would grant us wisdom and discernment so that we may point to Jesus in all we do, that God would work in Levi's heart even now and prepare him for the day He reveals Himself to him, that the veil would be removed from Levi's eyes and he would see God's greatness and love for Him, recognize his own sin and need for a Savior, and decide to follow Jesus the rest of his life! We give him to You, Lord Jesus, and praise You for loaning him to us! Amen!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring Photos

I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I am for these images! My beautiful sister-in-law from D.I.A. Images came over (when she was 37 weeks pregnant, mind you!) and captured these moments so perfectly! But don't just take my word for it. Scroll below to check them out for yourself! I'm forever indebted to her and to the Lord for blessing me this much.