Asher and Claire

If you didn't see the love these two kids had for each other in this post.  You can see it now.  Sara-Taylor Sharpe asked us if she could take some pictures of Asher and Claire last weekend.  It was hot and sweaty but she captured these two little ones perfectly.  Even if we can't use these photos in a wedding reception slide show some day, we will cherish them forever!

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Overheard

Conversation heard around my house this morning:

Isaac: I know everything and you don't know anything.

Asher: Nuh Uh!  I know everything!

Isaac: No.  You don't even know that there are bad guys in this world.

Asher: Yes there are.  I mean, no there aren't!

Isaac: There are bad guys in the world so you don't know anything.

Asher: I know some things!

Recently, Isaac has been getting scared at night time.  To be honest, I don't think he's really scared, I just think he needs attention after we tell him to go to bed.  But he's started asking questions about bad guys.  He watched some show at my parent's house about dinosaurs and apparently there were these purple bad guys that wanted to kill all the dinosaurs.  Isaac asked me if they are real.  I had no idea what he was talking about, but I told him if they lived while the dinosaurs were alive, then they probably don't live today, because dinosaurs are extinct.  

We talked about that for a while but the conversation turned to real bad guys.  Isaac asked if there were real bad guys living now.  I told him there was.  But we don't need to be afraid.  I told him Randall and I would always be there to protect him and even if we weren't, God was always with him.  I gave him some tools to fight his fear. I told him he can always pray, asking God to take his fear away.  

The boys and I attended Community Bible Study (CBS) for the first time this year.  It's a good, in depth Bible study, with an excellent children's program.  The first Bible verse the kids learned was Luke 1:13.  They learned it as they sang the verse to the tune of Frère Jacques.  "Do not be afraid, do not be afraid.  Your prayers have been heard, your prayers have been heard.  Luke 1:13. Luke 1:13. Do not be afraid. Your prayers have been heard."

The boys have been singing this song for almost a year now.  Asher tells Isaac to sing it when Isaac is scared.  Asher sings it to himself when he's alone in his room.  I'm so thankful for the strong biblical foundation I was raised with.  I want to instill that same love for scripture in my own kids.  It's true, it's useful, and it's comforting to know when you're afraid of bad guys.

Five Years

Five years ago today I saw my son for the first time, face to face.  The nurse placed him on my chest and there are no words for the emotions I felt.  Love.  Pure unconditional love for this wrinkly, sticky baby who, a second later, started peeing in my face.  If that isn't unconditional, then I don't know what is.
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I can't believe my baby is five years old.  I can't believe tomorrow is his last day of preschool and he starts kindergarten in the Fall.  Everyone said it would happen like this.  Everyone said that I should cherish every moment because they grow up so fast.  I loved every moment of the baby stage, but I looked forward to every new milestone.  I couldn't wait for the first smile. Finding the sweet dimples in his chubby cheeks.  I remember his first laugh.  It was on a changing table in the bathroom of Covenant College on Lookout Mountain.  A deep guttural laugh from my tiny 2 month old boy whose name means "laughter." I remember the army crawl that I thought would never turn into a real baby crawl.  But did.  It seemed like time couldn't move fast enough.

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Now his cheeks aren't chubby anymore and he's climbing trees. He's tall, he's smart, he's beautiful (he'd get mad at me for saying that).  He's defiant.  He's silly.  He's encouraging.  He's joyful.  He has opinions of his own.  

It's funny because when I was pregnant, I felt like he was a part of me.  I felt like he could hear my thoughts toward him and knew what I was thinking.  That continued after he was born.  I know it's weird but I was actually shocked when he started showing his own personality and it was different from mine.  He's was no longer an extension of me, but his own little person; completely separate.  

He's certainly his own little man these days.  He's not my baby anymore.  I tell him that sometimes mommies need to hold their babies but he rarely lets me hold him.  He's almost too heavy for me to carry but he never wants to be carried anymore anyway.

I'm so proud of him.  He's so smart and (mostly) good.  Why do we want our children to stay young; to go back to being a baby?  Maybe because we need to be needed.  As tiring as it was, I guess I loved being depended on so completely.  Maybe I just loved holding my baby.  Maybe because he used to talk like this on his second birthday:

Either way, he's five now and it went by way too fast. Yet, I still can't wait to see the next phase.  I can't wait to see who this boy is going to be.  But I love to reminisce about how he's come to be the boy he is now.

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Six months
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One year
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Two years
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Three years
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Four years
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And today
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Breath

I just tucked Isaac into bed. Today was his birthday party.  We had a day full of fun and madness.  Isaac was soaking up the attention all day.  Tonight, he was on his best behavior.  He let Asher have the side of the sink he wanted while they were brushing their teeth.  He read (really read) a good book, prayed and hugged me good night.  I kissed him and told him, "I love you." and he said, "almost so much that you can't breathe?"  Right now?  Yes.  Almost so much that I can't breathe.

Back by Popular Demand

And now, back by popular demand, more

BIRD DRAMA!

I haven't been checking on the birds very consistently.  They make me nervous.  But here are the latest photos.

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It's hard to tell but there are three birds in the nest in both of those pictures.  I took a couple of days off and went to check on them again today, at 16 days old.  Bad idea…
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They move!  I always knock on the grill before I open it.  Because, you know, it's only polite.  And if that so happens to scare off any birds that may or may not fly into my face when I open it, I'm okay with that, too.  So I knock… and wait, and then slowly open the grill.  One of the birds was right at the opening, but you can see that he hopped on away from me and into the lid of the grill.  There are still three birds.  Well, I should say, there were… three birds.

Then the boys opened the door and let Tabby out onto the deck.  She scared them and one flew out of the grill and onto my deck chair.  I screamed, it crapped, and then flew off the deck into the back yard.  Okay, good, so they can fly.  Sort of.  Or at least land safely away from the dog.  Whew.  

Another one jumped right onto the deck and into Tabby's mouth.  I screamed.  I said, "Bad Dog!" I said, "Drop it!"  I screamed some more.  The boys came running.  Someday they'll be able to rescue me.  But not today.  I ran inside and closed the screen door.  Tabby, the good dog that she is, just held that bird in her mouth triumphantly.  I grabbed my camera.  

If you're of the squeamish (or PETA) type, look away. 
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It's almost a cute picture if it weren't for the half dead bird in Tabby's mouth.  She just sat at the screen door, proud and ready to show me her latest catch.  By now the bird was no longer screeching.  And I wasn't either.  

I had to make Tabby drop the bird.  I got a treat and tried to bribe her to drop the bird to get the treat.  That meant I had to open the screen door just inches from them both.  I cracked the door and threw out the treat.  She's a smart dog, she knew she already had a better treat.  She didn't drop the bird.

After yelling for her to "DROP IT!"  for a minute or so, I realized that I was going to have to use my hands.  I pulled up Tabby's cheeks.  I pulled on the skin on the back of her head… I prayed.  The bird in her mouth cocked its head and looked at me.  I was its only rescuer. She dropped it.  I grabbed her by the collar and put her outside.  The half dead bird hopped under my fire pit, where it is still.

Then I remembered that first bird that hopped out of the grill and down into the back yard.  I knew Tabby would go looking for it.  I went out on the deck hoping she wouldn't find it.  I watched her sniff around the back yard, and then heard it.  The screech of a dying bird.  Tabby had found it.  I yelled again, yada yada yada, she dropped the bird in the back yard.  Look how proud she is.
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I dragged Tabby back into the garage.  I'm not letting a killer like her with bird germs in her mouth back into my house.  But I can't let her in the back yard with that bird again. 

I got my paper bag and plastic bag covered shovel (I'm going to have to use that again someday, you know) to go remove the bird from the back yard.  As I approached it, it too looked up at me.  This was not a dead bird, this was a half dead bird.

I didn't think there would be anything worse than a maggot infested dead bird.  I was wrong.  A half dead bird still needs to be removed from the area, only it moves.  I called Randall.  He said he'll deal with it when he gets home.  I guess I'm taking Tabby out on a leash for the rest of the day.

And then there was one.
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T Ball

The boys are playing their first organized sport this season: T Ball.  The jury is still out, if they're enjoying it or not.  It started off very exciting. We got new gloves and bats.  And the boys just look so darn cute in their baseball hats.IMG_6087 
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We've had some hard practices.  It's rained almost every Saturday since we started.  We played one practice in the rain and all the others in the wet grass because the field was too muddy or the cold wind was blowing dirt in the players' eyes.  

Asher is a natural athlete.
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 Isaac spent a lot of his first practice rolling in the dirt.
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Quite a bit actually. 
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But as we keep practicing, he's getting better and better.
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But for both boys, t ball is a lot of playing around. 
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But a lot of those kids out their are pretty aggressive.  
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I didn't realize how closely 3-4 year old t ball could resemble football.  But the kids are only reflections of their parents.  A few of these kids are definitely going to need therapy.  We watch the parents get completely frustrated at their three year olds because they're not able to catch a ball or throw properly.  In Asher's team there is a dad who pushed his little girl to be faster and stronger than all the other kids. She caught the ball every time, but never gave another kid a chance to try.  That's not even how you play baseball… Needless to say, there are usually a few tears.
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But I think the boys love doing this with their dad.
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Last Saturday, I started practicing with Isaac, but he told me to go play with Asher and let Dad play with him.  I'm okay with that.
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Asher and I had a tickle fight. Here he is "sneaking up" on me.IMG_6301 

I love my dirty, rowdy, sneaky, stinky boys.  All three of them.
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Birdy Update

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The birds in our grill are officially no longer cute.  We've been checking on them daily.  Here is the progression they've taken.  You can see in the first picture, one chick just hatched.  His feathers are still a bit wet. The next day, they're all dry and fluffy.  Then over the weekend, their skin started turning darker, their feathers started getting sharper, their beaks started getting larger.  Their chirps started getting louder.  Their poop started getting smellier.  Notice the black and white stains on the left side of the nest… I'm about done peaking in on these birds. 

Can you notice the very subtle difference between the last two days photos?  Look hard.  We noticed this morning that there are now only three birds in the nest.  Did it get too crowded?  Did one attempt to fly off?  He would have had to jump up on the nest and found the small smoke hole in our grill and hopped out.  I'm not sure how he got out, but that, my friend, is why I'm not peaking in on these birds again.

While I'm not sure how the bird got out, I am sure of where he is now.  Inside a paper bag, inside a paper bag, inside a plastic bag, inside a plastic bag, inside my trashcan, inside my garage.  And I think it's only fair to tell you how he got there.

Steve helped!  Thank you, but everyone can quit giving him flak now.  We were out in the back yard when Steve said, "What does Tabby have in her mouth?"  I didn't really want to know.  I called Tabby and she dropped whatever she was chewing on and came like the good dumb dog she is.  So I started inching cautiously forward towards the lifeless object.  Oh God, please be a stick.

It wasn't.  It was our long lost fourth chick.  Steve manned up and said, "I'll get this one. Get me a paper bag."  I got him two.  He picked it up just as the boys ran over to see it dangling in the air from his bag.  They wanted to see it closer up.  We didn't let them.  He got it in the paper bag and stuffed the extra one in their too.  I grabbed some plastic bags and tied them tight around the poor thing and put it in the trash. 

Thankfully, this one didn't include maggots and only a had a few flies around it.  I forgot to tell you that it's late Uncle was swarming with flies and gnats, just another deterrent for anyone to clean it up. May this be the last dead thing I see in my yard this year.

Funny Story

Wanna hear a funny story that doesn't involve maggots?  I'm calling it a funny story now, because I know it will be tomorrow.  But right now, it still makes me cry. It's one of those embarrassing moments that I wish would just go away.  Like the time I tripped in front of my mom and sisters on the way into an Old Navy.  I tripped and did a forward roll right in the parking lot and we all just kept walking and by the time we stepped through the door, it was like it never happened.  Never to be talked about again.  Let's put this story on that shelf, too.  You can read about it now and laugh about it with your friends but never mention it in front of me, okay?

So Randall decided to go visit a friend today.  I was scheduled to sing at church so we had to figure out what to do with the boys.  Randall called a babysitter and she stepped in and saved us as she often does.  She watched the boys for a few hours and then brought them to church for the first service.  We love Dana.

All of my songs were at the beginning of the service and so the kids wouldn't have to stay for all four services, I decided the boys could eat dinner in Randall's office and play on his computer while I sang my three songs during second service and then we'd leave early.  So I fed them dinner and gave them a couple of things to snack on and set up their games on the computer with just enough time to catch our prayer before we go out on stage.

We musicians feel so honored to get to serve at our church.  We always pray before we go on stage.  Usually, thanking God for the opportunity and asking for help as we lead people in worship.  I always pray that He won't let me get in the way of what He wants to do in this service.  So at the end of our prayer, I tagged on, "and please help my kids not to destroy anything while I'm gone."  Wrong prayer.

I went on stage and sang my songs to God in front of people.  It was a holy time for me. Then I went backstage to find my kids when I was finished.  When I approached the office door, it was ajar and the boys were not sitting in the chairs I left them in.  I had a moment of fear that they had escaped.  But I was quickly relieved when I saw them behind the door coloring with another pastor, Jon. Here's how our conversation went.

The relief was obvious when I saw them and made a quick nervous laugh, "Oh, I thought I had lost my kids," I say.  "Were they okay?" I ask.

"Yeah, I grabbed them and we just came back here and watched a couple of videos on You Tube and started coloring." 

"Ok.  Thanks…"  Wait.  Did he just say they came BACK here?  "Did they get out?!"

"You didn't see them?"

What do you mean?  I was on stage in an auditorium of a few hundred people.  "Nope."

Apparently, my kids lost their game on the computer and decided to go find me to fix it.  Jon got a call, "The Littleton boys are in the auditorium.  Can you come get them?"  By the time Jon got to them, they were on the stage next to me and I didn't even see them!  He escorted them backstage and took care of them until I got back. 

I was furious.  Embarrassed.  Mortified.  1. I left my kids alone and obviously shouldn't have. 2. They interrupted worship and went to find me and I didn't even notice. 3. Someone had to rescue them for me.

So as I'm falling apart in front of Jon, I just picked up the boys and left.  I couldn't find my purse so I made them tag along with me in order not to lose them again while I looked for it.  But my purse was on my shoulder so I started to leave but my kids weren't with me again.  I found them and took the nearest exit to the door.  On my way out, I called Randall just to gave him a heads up that I might leave his kids on the side of a road somewhere. At the same time that I'm on the phone, the kids are yelling at me and calling me "Mean Mommy."

I made it to the car and got the kids strapped in.  I just didn't know what to do with my emotions. I explained to the kids that they should have stayed in Daddy's office like I asked them too.  And I was very upset that they came looking for me.  I told them it was dangerous and embarrassing.  But they really had no idea why I would be so upset.

I cried all the way home because I was just done.  The kids bickered in the back seat and had a kick fight and whined and yelled and said they were never going to play with me again.  I was just done.  I felt guilty about wanting to quit being a mom. I felt sorry for myself because I feel like I deserve a vacation from my own kids.  I didn't know how to handle my emotions.  I was furious because I was embarrassed. Being a parent is hard.  Way hard. 

Why do we want to be parents in the first place?

Seriously.  Why did you want to have kids? 

Do you know why I wanted to be a parent?  I don't even like kids!  I wanted someone who was mine. Someone who looked like me and Randall.  Someone I could hold and love. Someone I could share my history with. Someone I could mold and shape to be a world changer.  

 I don't think I even thought about why I should have kids or not before I made the decision to have them. It was just a compelling desire inside me… to hold my own baby for long, long periods of time.  Do you think God gives us that desire in order to teach us something about him?  

There is so much joy to be found in children.  So much to be learned.  If I didn't have my own kids, I would not understand the unconditional love God has for me.  He gave his own son for me.  Now, I would give my own life for many people.  But I can not think of a single person, I would give up my sons life for.

If I didn't have my kids, I would have LONG forgotten what it was like to have a childlike faith.  

If I did not have kids, I would not be reminded to stop and pay attention to beauty as often as I am.

My boys are teaching me how to be a good example in all areas of life.

I feel like I have zero patience, but I bet my kids are in the process of teaching me how to be more patient, right now.

They're teaching me how to control my anger and emotions.  That's for sure.

They're teaching me the meaning of joy.

God, remind me how to love my children, even when I'm angry.  Give me patience and peace.  Help me be slow to anger and quick to forgive.  Give me wisdom.  Don't let me get in the way of what you want to do in and through my boys.  May I be a better example to them. May they grow to love others more than themselves.  May they grow to love You more than anything.