Friday, February 28, 2014

Mattie Claire ~ 8 Months

Dear Mattie,

Happy Valentine's!  There is no one on this earth that I want to express my love to more than you.  You will always have a piece of my heart with you, and you will always be my special little Valentine.  I know your daddy and brothers would have loved to lavish lots of sweet hugs and kisses on you for Valentine's too.  When we celebrated Valentine's last year, I just knew that would be my last one where I got all the attention from those boys because I knew that this year, they would be so crazy about you and would want to spoil you rotten.  You are still Daddy's special little Valentine and princess.  When I think of what you would look like and sound like and be doing now, I can't believe it.  You are only a few months away from being a year old.  You would be laughing, crawling, eating lots of new foods, playing with your big brothers' toys and probably making them mad, and maybe even trying to walk.  I know you would be stealing hearts wherever you went as the sweetest and cutest little angel around.  You would have us all wrapped around those sweet little fingers.

You may have looked a little like this:

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Big Brother Evan

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Big Brother Brody
Here are a few outfits you may have worn this month:

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This was an outfit that I had purchased for you last year anticipating your first Valentine's day. 
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A sweet little onesie with love bunnies on it for our little love bunny!  This would definitely have been a piece that I would have had to purchase from Janie & Jack.  I cannot resist the bunnies.  

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One of the Valentine's dresses you may have worn with your sweet name embroidered on it.

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Or this one. 

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And I like this one too. 
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Another great option for you. 
Mostly, we would have just enjoyed showing you so many things this month.  We will always love you, sweet baby girl!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

What is Love?

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As the month of February (the month we celebrate love and Valentine's Day) comes to a close, I want to finally write a post about this message which I have been putting off.  I would say the word "love" is probably one of the most commonly used words in the English language.  We use it to describe a whole range of feelings and emotions.  We love ourselves, our families, our children, our pets, our favorite television show, sports team, food, drink, clothing apparel, shoes, friends, and maybe even our deity of choice.  Our frequent use of this word often leaves it feeling empty and meaningless these days so we often feel that just saying a simple "I love you" isn't enough to express the stronger feelings of attachment we may feel for another person.  Just look at how many alternate definitions good ol' Mr. Webster provides for this simple four letter word:

1  a (1) :  strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <love for a child>; (2) :  attraction based on sexual desire :  affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) :  affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates>;
b :  an assurance of affection love;
2:  warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>;
3  a :  the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration love;
(1) :  a beloved person :  darling —often used as a term of endearment (2) British —used as an informal term of address;
4  a :  unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) :  the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) :  brotherly concern for others
:  a person's adoration of God

:  a god or personification of love
:  an amorous episode :  love affair
:  the sexual embrace :  copulation
:  a score of zero (as in tennis)

Does it get more convoluted than that definition?  Wow!  As Christians, we are called to find the deeper meaning of the word love as God defines it in his Word.  If we look to the Biblical definition of love, we would probably find it most similar to number 4 above although that definition may still seem a little weak.

The most commonly used scripture to define love is probably  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

This definition of love does seem to conflict with the more worldly definition of love where most people seem to feel they should love themselves above all others.  Love is not supposed to be selfish or self-seeking, right?

My pastor's sermon series for February was an amazing look at God's definition of love, primarily between couples, and how that definition applies to the sexual relationship.  This was the cute graphic our church's media team created for the series:

I invite you to listen to any of the podcasts of the sermons from this series whenever you have a free minute or two.  
 He defined the 4 different types of love found in the Bible:

1.  Eros:  the physical, sensual love between a husband and a wife. The scriptures address this type of love as a necessary and important part of a healthy marriage.  Yes, the Bible does seem to be very clear that this type of love is to be fulfilled between a husband and a wife.  It does actually forbid sex outside of marriage.  You can read more on that subject here as I do not want to pretend to be an expert on that subject.  I can just say that I truly appreciate the precious gift of this type of love with my husband.  Even the apostle Paul who chose to remain unmarried recognized its importance when he wrote:

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:8-9, NIV)

2.  Philia:  close friendship or brotherly love

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV)

3.  Storge:  family love; the bond between mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.  Many examples of family love are found in Scripture, such as the love and mutual protection among Noah and his wife, their sons and daughters-in-law in Genesis; the love of Jacob for his sons; and the strong love the sisters Martha and Mary in the gospels had for their brother Lazarus.

And last but certainly not least, 

4.  Agape:  This form of love is the highest and most important of all the forms of love.  It is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love.  It is the love that God exemplified completely on the cross for each of us, and it is the love that He calls each of us to strive to duplicate for Him as he calls us to follow his commandments.  

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21, NIV)

My scripture verse for today is another example of God's important commandment to love Him and to love one another.

The end of all things is near.  Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  (1 Peter 4:7-8)

Jesus says, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another."  (John 13:34b)

So who are you loving today?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Another Snowy Valentine's

Yes, I said another snowy Valentine's.  No, we aren't in the habit of getting many snow covered Valentine's around here, but in 2010, we did get snow a day or so before Valentine's and had to commemorate the occasion.  This year, I used our little Valentine's banner that I got from the dollar bins at Target for some Valentine's pictures in the snow.  Grandma, Aunt Naomi, and cousin Grady came up to stay with the boys on Valentine's night so that Eddie and I could go out on a little date.  We enjoyed going out for a nice dinner and then going to see a movie.  We went to see Winter's Tale because it seemed like the only "romantic" movie that was showing.  It was actually not quite what I imagined it would be although I did enjoy seeing the actress that played Sybil on our favorite show, Downton Abbey, on the big screen.  Eddie and I enjoyed our evening together and just gave each other the customary Valentine's cards.  We have never liked the idea of buying expensive gifts for one another for Valentine's and just use the occasion as another day to celebrate our love. Evan and Brody both received lots of Valentines from their classmates at school as well as some little treats from Mommy and Daddy and Grandma.  I bought all the boys a little something fun to show my love.  I didn't even take pictures of the boys' Valentines they took to school this year although they were not anything fancy.  They were just some cute little Valentine cards I found at Target with some cute lollipops (sports themed for the boys and pink and purple stars for the girls).  They definitely weren't as "pinterest-worthy" as last years, but they didn't really receive any pinterest-worthy ones either so I assume the whole pinterest craze may be fading out around here.  Ha!

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Just a few simple Valentine's decorations.  I had bought the first heart banner from Target in late January along with the little wooden "Be Mine" sign.  Then, a couple of weeks later I went back to Target and found the little Love banner that was a little kit to put together.  I just liked it even better. 

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I actually made this little printable myself after seeing a large canvas print at Target with the message on it.  I didn't want to pay $30 for the canvas so I took a picture and made my own.  Yes, I am cheap like that!  I think I might put it in our room to keep all year! 
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I had to use our little love banner to help commemorate our snowy Valentine's.  

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Me & my little Valentines

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And then my big Valentine magically joined the picture.

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Evan needed to hide from the bright sunlight so that he could smile.

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This is love!

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I had to get the boys a little Valentine's treat so I got Evan this little Spy set because he loves pretending he is on secret missions.  Ha!

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Daddy bought them both some chocolate and Grandma brought them all Reese's heart candy (yes, that is very appropriate).

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My little tool man got a new tool belt.

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My sweetie did not buy me flowers this year, but my sweet blog friend, Natasha, did send me a sweet and cheerful bouquet that arrived the week of Valentine's!  Thanks, Natasha!  I owe you so much for all you've done this past year.  You are an amazing friend!
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Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Snowy Week

If there is one thing we southerners know how to do, it is appreciate a snow day.  I know it is harder for people in colder climates to appreciate the snow when they get so much of it and spend the majority of winter trying to dig their way out of it in bitterly cold temperatures.  We are thankful that we get just enough snow occasionally to enjoy playing in it and then usually get some warmer temperatures within just a day or two that melt it all away.  This snow actually gave us several days of pleasure before it melted away.  Since our areas don't invest in heavier snow equipment to scrape away all the snow from major and secondary roads and since most of us are not that capable of driving in snow and ice conditions without the advantages of snow tires, snow does usually mean that our towns "shut down" for a day or so during these little blizzards.  We are lucky to have a four wheel drive vehicle and can usually get out if we need to though.  Our neighborhood roads and surrounding area roads were pretty snow and slush covered this time after we got about 8 or 9 inches of snow this time with three days in a row of snow falling.  We just enjoyed the little snow break that let us have a couple of nice slow days at home with our kids.  We managed to accomplish some things on our very important snow agenda list, including building a snow man, making snow cream, and even a little sledding!

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This snow just looked so "magical" while falling.  I think there is something special about watching snow fall during the day.  As I kid, I can remember and appreciate the magic of waking up in the morning to a snow covered ground from snow that fell during the night, but as an adult, I really appreciate snow falling in the daylight so I can watch it.

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We took a little walk through the neighborhood while the snow was falling.  Brody made up a new song called "Dancing in the No."

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Yes, there is a road under there.

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And another one there.

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Evan playing hide and seek in the snow.

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The snow was falling pretty heavy at this time.

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Brody says this is the real disadvantage of having long eyelashes...snowflakes keep getting stuck to them!

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My sweet boys loving the snow...or "no" as Brody calls it.

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I could have seriously enjoyed waking to this view out of my bedroom window for many more days.

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Snow even made our backyard look pretty.

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The little dwarf Japanese maple tree looked pretty covered in snow.

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Evan and Brody saying hello from up in their playhouse.

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I didn't have a lot of help building our snowman.

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Evan was too busy enjoying sliding in the snow.

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And they both enjoyed making snow angels and rolling around in the snow.

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Two down, one to go.

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The boys come over to inspect my work.

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Brody just decided to sit down in the snow beside his headless snowman.

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While Evan was rolling all over the yard.

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Putting on the head and finishing touches.

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Brody decided to add some "snow tumors."  Haha!

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I just love the way the trees look covered in snow.

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Our family with our snowman.  We discovered a few years ago that Mr. Potato head parts make excellent snowman faces.

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We love our snowman!  Ooops, we actually never named him before he fell over later in the day!

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And then we tried a silly family picture, but as you can see, only Mommy and Daddy made silly faces.

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That's a little better, Evan and Brody.

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Yep, we are crazy!

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More snow falling on our little snowman friend.

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And since Valentine's Day was that week, we had to show a little PDA.

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Sweethearts in the snow.

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Evan's next door neighbor friend, Zachary, came over to invite him to play and sled.

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Zachary used his sled to do a little snowboarding.  I think he has been watching the winter Olympics a lot.

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Evan trying out the sled.

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Zachary, future Olympic gold medalist snowboarder

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Daddy giving the boys a push down the hill.

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There they go!  Poor Brody had to endure the sled rope being held right over his eyes.

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We put Brody in the safer middle position for all three boys to ride together.

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Zachary was nice enough to pull Brody back up the hill.

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Zachary took his dad, Mr. Eddie, for a ride.

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And Brody and Mommy enjoyed riding together.

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Sled racing!

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I can actually say I would enjoy a few more opportunities to do this.

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We all had a blast!

And thankfully this week has given us some nice warmer temperatures in the 60's and 70's!  Spring is on the way, folks!

(Side note:  Apparently, I am just not meant to get blog posts written these days.  I had this post almost completed this morning when I thought we could enjoy a quiet morning at home while Eddie was gone to do a little program for work helping the city sell tree seedlings.  The boys were doing a good job playing together and were in my room with me when suddenly Brody started crying, and when I looked over at him, his little face was bleeding terribly from a cut on his cheek.  His brother had blood on his hands from trying to help him up where he had fallen against the side of my bed and our nightstand.  Evan had been playing with Brody with his silky blanket and had been tugging on it, but when he suddenly let go of the blanket, Brody had fallen.  Sigh.  After cleaning up the bleeding, it was apparent that he may need stitches.  I called Eddie and prepared to take the kids to urgent care.  Luckily, we found several Children's Urgent Cares in our area with very little wait times.  The cut was able to be glued together without stitches, and we are home resting now.  Brody doesn't seem to be bothered much by the little cut.)


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