Friday, May 17, 2013

Kiddo Update: Jake - 3 Years

I'm about two months behind on my kiddo update, but it's better late than never! Jake turned 3 on March 15th and is as feisty as ever! As for his stats, he's still off the charts (above the 98th percentile) for height, weight, and head size, coming in at 42 inches tall and weighing 40 pounds! He's certainly one of the biggest kids in his class, but still asks to be picked up from time to time and I gladly oblige, reminding myself that I probably won't be able to do that sooner than I'd like. Here are some things I always want to remember about Jake at three:

Little dude still loves trains, but now loves cars and his excavator (and yes, he calls it that) just as much. He often picks one of those things to take to bed with him each night.

Speaking of bed time, we no longer need our "paci" or a cup of milk to go to bed. Our story is that his paci was given to the baby dolphins (which he loved when we visited the Atlanta Aquarium) because they needed them more than he did. It only took about three days of fussing and then on about the fourth night his bed time prayer was, "Dear God, thank you for the baby dolphin who has my paci. Amen," which I took to mean we had turned a corner. A few days later I found him hiding in a corner clutching one that he had found somewhere in the house, but even though he had it in his hands, he would not put it in his mouth. I shot him "the look" and he brought it over to Lilly, shoved it in her mouth, and said, "Here you go, Lilly. This is for yours."

And speaking of "the look".... they say you can discipline your child with a single look. Yes, this was true for about a day and I had perfected mine. And then instead of it working, Jake would shoot the look back to me and I would crack up. Now when he's mad he gives me the look... oh boy! The look is funny enough, but I think I always laugh because the kid WILL. NOT. BREAK. character... it's amazing! He now knows that he gets in trouble for making that face, so we'll have to figure something else out in the future!

The school year is coming to a close and we'll be sad to see it end. He is always so excited to go and loves to learn. His favorite thing at school is art, which is surprising based on his very first art project... we've come a long way I guess! He often lists off the names of his school friends on our way to or from school and has imaginary conversations with his teachers at home.

Jake with one of his school art projects

Oh that imagination... there is nothing I love more than watching Jake play! All of his cars, figurines, etc. now talk to each other and their conversations are hysterical. Sometimes they even get in trouble!

Potty training has been an adventure. We were good to go in January and then we went to Jacksonville in April and something set us back. I think we're back on track though and I'm confident that we will be doing all of our business (as opposed to just the wet stuff) this summer. I'm proud of our independent little guy.

Jake definitely has favorite things and foods, and once he gets stuck on something, that's all he wants for days or even weeks. For books it has been Dr. Seuss' ABC book and Harold and the Purple Crayon. For movies we've been watching a lot of Wreck it Ralph and just recently added Meet the Robinson's to the repertoire. Any Disney/Pixar movie is still a win with him. Favorite foods include apples, mandarin oranges, watermelon (most fruit really), ham and cheese sandwiches, animal crackers, and cereal with milk. I can almost guarantee that he'll ask for one of those items during every meal.

He's starting to sing some other songs, but the Alphabet is still the one we hear the most. He can identify every letter and its sound, and also tell you words that start with that letter as well as tell you what a word starts with. He's trying his hardest to figure out how to sound out words, which has been so much fun!

We attempted a team sport this spring (against our better judgement) and sure enough, Jake was more interested in running around like a crazy person than standing in line and participating. I can't say I blame him! The frustrating part for me is that he can dribble a soccer ball like a mad man when he's at home, but refuses to do it at practice. Oh well. Guess we'll wait a few more years!

His favorite people are still his cousins, Kevin and Kyle, and of course Adam. Last time the two of them were together Adam asked, "Jake, are you my best friend?" which melted my heart. They are two peas in a pod and have even had their first sleepover! He also loves his "Quint" (Quinton) who went to Jacksonville with us.

So far it seems that his future career is still either going to be in ministry, or in medicine (which is funny because those were his daddy's two choices before he figured it out). He still loves to be up on the platform at TPC (when we let him) and he also loves visiting the doctor... he even asks to go!

I must say, three has been so much fun so far! I feel like Jake got his "terrible two's" out way early, and now that his communication is improving, he is much less frustrated which eliminates a lot of tantrums. He still uses his "Jake language" when he gets really excited to tell us something, but other than that, it's mostly full sentences and some of the funniest phrases! For example:

Josh: Jake, it's time to go to bed.
Jake: What are you nuts???

I love listening to the conversations between him and his sister or his friends. Jake and Lilly play incredibly well together aside from the occasional scream over a toy or a shove from big brother, but all in all, they love each other immensely. Nothing makes me happier.

So those are the highlights of our dude right now... just happy, happy and oh so much fun! So far I'm LOVING free (and hope I don't eat my words later!). 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jacksonville Fun

A few weeks ago, we headed south for a few days to attend the ARC Conference. The conference itself is something that we look forward to every single year as the speakers are absolutely incredible and we get to connect with ministry friends old and new. In the past, Josh has gone by himself and I have stayed home, watching much of it at home, but this year we made it work by bringing the kiddos and staying with family friends. While I don't have much to show from our time on the actual "business" part of the trip, it's safe to say that the kids had a blast!

We did a lot of fishing and almost all of us caught one!

They had a blast playing in the sprinkler

Sometimes they even sat still all at the same time! For a minute or two anyway.

And thankfully there was a playground right down the street!

Which we could drive to if we wanted

Although I'm not quite sure I'm ready for THIS

 They even made some new friends

And they were the hit of the ARC All Access Beach Party, too!

Not to mention, I had a really handsome date for that.

We were so excited when they announced that the conference will be at the same place next year and we're already counting the days until we go back! Thank you, Megan, Andy, Austin, and Emma for the wonderful place to stay and the amazing hospitality! And just so you see that there actually was a conference, you can click here to watch the highlight video!

Until next year!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hiding Out

You may or may not have noticed, but last week was very quiet here on the blog. There is a very valid excuse for the first half of the week, since our family traveled to Birmingham to teach and encourage some future church planters through the ARC, but I have a little bit of a confession about the second half: I kind of crawled into a hole and did not want to come out. I say this is a "confession" because just last week I was so strong and optimistic about our current situation, and yet just a few days later I let it get to me. My strong foundation of faith starting chipping away little by little and by the weekend I was on the verge of a full-on meltdown. You see, we came home from that trip on such a high: we met great people, connected with old friends, had some great one-on-one time with Lilly since Jake stayed back home at a buddy's house, and then we came home and found our counters loaded up with groceries. And when I say groceries, I mean hundreds of dollars worth of household items that had been anonymously gifted to us through some people at the church, presumably our small group (which is just one more reason you should be in one! They take care of each other!). It was incredibly moving and I got choked up seeing the kindness of others and the church literally being the hands and feet of Jesus. That's what it's about... that's what church is supposed to be! On top of that, a few families had also been incredibly generous and given us cards, sent texts and emails, and even donations and gift cards! I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our church family, many of whom I don't yet have the pleasure of knowing as well as I'd like. But then, those little chips in the armor started coming along. I have been through this before, I know how it goes, but even though I knew it was a possibility, I was not prepared for what it would do for my heart. First, our insurance lapsed because of a miscommunication between myself and Josh and on day one of that lapse, I got sick... followed by Lilly and then Jake. This is the third time a stomach bug has swept through our household since March and this mama is OVER it. Then the AC in my car went out, after we thought it had been fixed. And the icing on the cake was the $1000 bill we received from the IRS for a miscalculation in our two thousand-eleven taxes. Seriously??? Little by little, all of those strong, courageous, peaceful feelings began to dissipate and fear, doubt, and other unwelcome emotions crept in. By the weekend I was a wreck.

"Is this what life in ministry is always going to be like?" I asked Josh on Saturday. "Great high's followed immediately by low points?"

He literally laughed at me (lovingly of course) and replied, "That's not life in ministry. That's LIFE."

Oh. Wow. And... he is absolutely right! I had somehow attributed anything negative happening in our life to it happening because we work in ministry, as if that should keep us immune from bad things happening. It was ridiculous, and I needed to be reminded that life is tough for everyone, not just for us. In fact, thanks to being a part of a life-giving church, life is easier because we have a community of people to surround us when things aren't going our way. This was not the first time I've seen this happen, and I'm proud to say I've been a part of cleaning a family's house to thank them for selflessly opening their home every week for small group and sneak-attack cleaning and freezer-stocking another family's house when they had a death in the family. People coming together to help each other out is what this life is all about; it's what God meant for the church to be. As I re-read some of the sweet cards and emails we had been given, these words were seared into my spirit:

Continue to take care of My church and My church will take care of you.

It was just the reminder I needed. In fact, if things never got tough and I never needed help or support, I wouldn't even realize what a gem the church really is! God brings us through trials sometimes to remind us that we can't do it alone, and I certainly know it's easier to get through tough times when you have others around you lifting you up!

So even though things are still uncertain and one of my children is still throwing up, I am reminded that it's not so bad. I need to stop looking at the circumstances and keep my eyes on Him, like I did right at the beginning of this mess new chapter. We even discussed how we wanted to handle that lovely bill from the IRS (seriously, if you're just now noticing the mistake, shouldn't we be off the hook?) and noticed that the amount of money we had been given was almost exactly equal to the amount of the bill... coincidence? I think not; He is already looking out for us. He has always been faithful, and this will be no different, but that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy either. 

So I'm out of the hole I crawled in and I think I'm over that hump, even if we take a few more hits here and there. But if I go missing for a week at a time again without warning, please shoot me an email and remind me to read this! That's what friends are for, right?