Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful (30)

Happy Monday Rainbow Sky (free texture) Creative Commons
Photo by: D. Sharon Pruitt

Thankful to the one who gives me all that I love the most.

Thankful for the unconditional gift of His love -
continually praying that I don't misrepresent it to others.

Thankful to the one who loves me in spite of me - always.

Forever thankful for my God.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful (29)

It seems like we waited forever for this child when in reality she came three days before she was due.  Espy, Gianna, and Isabella each spoiled us by arriving around two weeks early.
I've told her story before, but that's ok:

Evangeline made her own way right from the start.  I was nauseous for several weeks - nothing like I had experienced before.  I was sure Evangeline was going to be a little boy when the whole family (minus Isabella) went to her 20 week ultrasound.  Instead, we found out we were going to have a sweet baby girl.  We also thought that Evangeline would arrive about two weeks early, just like her sisters.  We were wrong!  Evangeline's due date was December 2nd.  We went to the hospital November 26th and got sent home because I was only dilated 3cm and wasn't in active labor.


Early monday morning, November 29th - I started having STRONG contractions around 4:15am.

I was in the front room, and PaPa could hear me crying from the bedroom
where he and NeNe were sleeping.

  They were definitely stronger than any of the contractions I had when I went into active labor with our first three daughters.  They got stronger and came closer together more quickly than with Espy, Gianna, and Isabella.  Bill and I both showered, got our things together, and headed to the hospital around 6:30am.  I was 5cm in triage, and they transferred us to a room.  At that point, things continued to progress quickly.  I was ready to push around 11:30am.  My water broke, and they called the doctor.  One strong contraction and one strong push later, Evangeline was here at 12:04pm.  This pregnancy was by far the most difficult for me physically, emotionally, and mentally - but when it came to labor and delivery, it was the quickest and easiest of all four (with my trusty, ever-present epidural!). Bill and I were so thankful for such an awesome delivery.  All the waiting and false labor was worth it once we saw Evangeline!

In Greek, Evangeline means, "like an angel."  McRae is a name that Bill discovered and liked.  Bill and I knew it was the one when we found out it means "son of grace" from the Scottish name MacRae.
Extremely thankful for our Evangeline McRae.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thankful (28)

I'll Stand With You Between Forever and Always, My Love (creative commons freebie)
Photo by: D. Sharon Pruitt
I realize the perfect morning does not exist.  However, if things go according to plan - it's almost like witnessing the tooth fairy or Santa or the Easter Bunny in real life.

If I do simple things the night before like:
set out the girls' outfits
make everyone's lunches
have all bookbags packed and ready to go
set the breakfast table
go to bed at a decent hour
I can certainly set the stage for a great start.

When (and if) I wake up before the girls, if I can manage to grab a shower and get dressed (and put makeup on!) - I might just be en route to the "perfect" morning.

Spending time talking to God and reading Scripture make any morning better than when I haven't.

If I can squeeze in a workout before the shower:
bonus points.

If there's no yelling by me or crying by the girls:
icing on the cake.

Cup of coffee?
Yes, please!

While our mornings here hardly turn out as I dream or picture them to be,
I'm happy when they come even remotely close.

Thankful for smooth mornings with the girls.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thankful (27)

You already know how much I love this show.

Thankful for my emotional release every Tuesday night.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful (26)

God's been working a lot on my heart -
helping me be more aware of how our family spends our money.
His money.

I'm falling in love with companies like this:
Sseko Designs

Photo Source

Sseko Designs is a sandal company based in Uganda.  We make beautiful leather sandals with interchangeable fabric straps that can be styled in hundreds of ways.
Sseko began as a way to generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university.  Sseko has graduated three classes of women.  Every woman who has graduated from Sseko is currently pursuing her college degree.
In addition to our university-bound team, Sseko also employs a full-time team of women from all walks of life.  By creating an environment of dignity, honor, creativity and dedication, Sseko Designs provides the opportunity for women in East Africa to end they cycle of poverty and create a more equitable society.
We believe that every woman has a dream.  When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, we are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world.
We believe that our stuff has a story and that every dollar you spend is a vote for the way you think the world should work.
Every Sseko has a story.
Photo Source

and like this:
Photo Source
 Kallie Dovel, traveled to Uganda in the summer of 2007, getting a first-hand look at life in Northern Uganda. While she was there, she met women making paper beads but who lacked a plan
to market and sell them.

After spending time in their homes and hearing their stories, Kallie knew there had to be a way to give opportunities to her new friends. She brought a box of jewelry back to the U.S., and spent the next year finishing her degree and dreaming up the concept of a development organization. She brought a few friends on board and her ideas quickly evolved into 31 Bits.

The girls traveled back to Uganda in August 2008, and selected six women to begin buying jewelry from on a monthly basis. Since then, we have grown to 108 women; each with a unique story of suffering that has been overcome with joy and liberation.
Photo Source
 Thankful for companies that encourage me to be a more thoughtful consumer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful (25)

the girl of a thousand questions (or more)
always on the go
a unique understanding of slow, gentle, and quiet
Miss Independent
wants to grow her hair as long as Rapunzel

If ever there was a child who was born naturally funny, this one might be it.  She has a flair for the dramatics and is not quiet.  Ever.  Unless I want her to speak to a little friend or an adult, then she has no desire to communicate at all - of course.

I can understand the challenge of being one of the middles of the family.  You're not the oldest, but at the same time - you're not the youngest.  Helping Isabella figure out what being Isabella means is one of the hardest - yet most rewarding - things we're in the process of doing.

Isabella has probably never met a stranger in her life.  Today she became friends with:
a mom at Chick-fil-A who was feeding her daughter
shoppers at the mall
the lady who cut her hair
the man who rings the bell for the Salvation Army

She sings with no reservation.
She dances with no shame.
She speaks with no inhibition.

Her cries are as loud as her laughter.
Her kicks are as strong as her hugs.
Her enthusiasm is as contagious as her smile.

Extremely thankful for our Isabella Simone.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful (24)

Photo Source
the color of our walls
our big back room
the girls' art
baby pictures
the crazy retro kitchen
toys everywhere
the trampoline
our new-ish deck
the girls' bright green room
our wood-burning stove

Thankful for our sweet home and the (big and little) people in it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful (23)

These two.
I could eat them up with a spoon.  We were all a little nervous when Tommy entered our lives (re-entered Judy's - they first met in middle school!) almost eight years ago, but we couldn't asked for a better husband for our NeNe or a better PaPa for our girls.

Judy is one of the strongest women I know.  Her story runs deep, and I love how God has shaped her through that journey.  She (along with Bill's dad) raised a fantastic son who is now a remarkable husband and father.
Tommy has kind eyes and is always ready with a hug or a smile.  Our girls adore him and for good reason.  I think I love him the most when I see him loving Judy.  I just have to go and hug on them both when they're being so sweet with each other.

When I grow up, I want to be like them - 
loving God
loving each other
loving their family and friends.

Thankful for the best in-laws a girl could ask for - Tommy and Judy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful (22)

birthday love
The girls are always asking whose is next, and we're continually counting down to the next birthday.  Just the thought of the special day gets them all sorts of happy.  It's not even about the presents for them - although they don't hurt at all - not one bit.  They just love turning a year older, partying with friends and family, and enjoying a day that celebrates them.  Their mother is the same way.  They're just little Graces sometimes - what can i say?

Thankful for birthdays - always a special time in our home.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful (21)

Photo Source
One of my favorites is sitting with a cup of coffee and talking with a friend.  I’ve been surrounded by so much beauty and talent that one might consider me spoiled.

My friends
come over just because
watch our girls when we need a date night
send encouraging texts for no reason
bring coffee when I’m feeling down and out
come by when the girls are in bed so we can have “normal” conversations
share fancy dresses for special occasions
bake delicious treats
and on and on
and on.

While they encourage me in my role as a wife and a mother,
they also allow me to be the me that I was before I got married and had babies:
not Bill’s wife
not Espy or Gianna or Isabella or Evangeline’s mom
simply Grace -
and that’s enough for them.

Those are my favorite kind of friends - the ones who can:
laugh with me
cry with me
humor me while I make "funny" jokes
see me in all my ridiculous glory -
and despite all of that, still want to spend time with me.

They’ve given advice and considered mine.  They’ve prayed with and for me.  They've sat and listened when what I needed was that reassuring nod that I really wasn't going out of my mind.  We've laughed enough that surely we should have six-packs.  I've seen God work in and through them - teaching me so much about life and love.  I hope I can one day give them as much as they've given me.

All so different.  All beautiful.  All God-given.
Always thankful for my friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful (20)

 There are no combination of words that can completely describe the people God has surrounded me with - when I was born and when I got married to Bill.
I’m fortunate enough to have parents who love God and who love each other.  They're amazing through and through.  My sister and I can easily go at it like cats and dogs - but if anyone else tries to mess with either of us, it won’t be a pretty picture for the offender.  I love her forever - no matter the number or the extent of our disagreements.
Bill’s family has welcomed me from the start.  They’re always there for us and love me as if I’ve always been a part of them.  You never know what you’re going to get with in-laws, but I definitely got the better end of the package when Bill and I sealed the deal.
I am loved
in the good and the bad
through the laughs and the tears
at my best and at my worst.
I can’t imagine my life without them all.

Extremely thankful for my awesome family.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful (19)

Just thinking about writing about our oldest gets me all weepy and sentimental.  I'm pretty sure everyone knows my MO.  I often try to apologize for how easily I cry, but what can I say - it's how God made me - really.  If I could choose otherwise, I would - but who am I to say that I know better than Him?  Certainly not me.  All that to say, whenever I think about Espy and the person that she's growing into - my heart gets all sorts of full.
When she was born, we were over the moon.  When she started crying and wouldn't stop,
I wonder what we had done to ourselves.
Are you kidding me?
When am I supposed to sleep?
Why won't she stop crying?
Why does everything still hurt?
Why can't I fit into my jeans?
Who's going to make me dinner?
How can Bill sleep through this?

Don't be confused, we've loved that child from the start - but I truly wondered if we were going to have any more children because it was a rough few weeks from the get-go.  Looking back, I was pretty uptight (OCD, anyone?  Anyone?).  If things were not just so in all aspects of our lives, I felt like a complete failure - my fault, not Espy's.  She was a cryer, but I think if I wasn't so nervous about making a mistake with her - maybe she wouldn't have been so stressed?

Regardless, God is amazing because that child is wonderful in spite of her mother.  She has her typical "8 going on 16" moments which I'm learning to react to in love instead of the look
(which I'm so good at) that says,
Come here so I can smash your mouth, please
method that is clearly not the way to approach matters.

Espy has the sweetest spirit.  She loves her friends and family with all of her heart.  She typically has a quiet personality, but she inherited her mom's laugh - and we all know when she thinks something's funny.  Espy loves to draw, write, and create - I wish I could draw half as well as she can.  I could be biased, but I think her work is amazing.

If Espy isn't telling me about her latest drawing, creation, or story - you can find her playing with her sister(s) or curled up on the couch reading a book.  She loves being in the water and doing cartwheels in random places.  As I was talking to a friend at church one morning, I saw Espy in the background doing cartwheels - in a dress.  I pulled out one of my looks with a quickness,
and she stopped immediately.

When I think about Espy turning nine in February, my mind can't help but jump to the fact that she'll be gone in nine years.  That means we're almost halfway through!
halfway through the bedtimes
halfway through birthday celebrating all together
halfway through "Can (one of my sisters) sleep with me?"
halfway through cuddling on the couch

Slightly dramatic?  Yes, but true.
Who knows what God has in store for her after high school.  All I know is that our job as her parents will be nearly over.  We'll always be there for our girls, but that shaping and guiding and directing will be coming to a close, and hopefully Espy will be ready to make those big/important/hard decisions on her own.  Until then, I'm going to treasure
the tight hugs around my waist
the big eyes with thoughtful questions
the huge laugh from the tiny body
the art and the stories found all over the house.
Extremely thankful for our Esperanza Charisse.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful (18)

I'm super excited about going on our family vacation next summer because I will not be:
waking up in the middle of the night to give someone a bottle.

This might not be amazing to you, but to someone who has been at least one of the above for the last eight years or so while vacationing at the beach - it is more than fantastic.

Not only that, my entire family will be there for the week:
me, Bill, and the girls
my parents
my sister and brother-in-law
PaPa and NeNe
Bill's sister and her family

To some of you this might not sound so fun, but we have a pretty awesome family - and we actually enjoy one another's company.  Most of the time.  Trust me, we've had our fair share of ups and downs.  Regardless, we'll love each other forever.  Fact.
Thankful for fun family vacations
(and that we're done having children - at the moment).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful (17)

Photo Source

The girls and I LOVE music.  They love to play their drums and guitars and tambourines.  They dance around the living room, and they sing like there's no tomorrow.  God hasn't blessed us with this talent, but we manage to belt it out as if He did.

A beautiful song sung by someone who IS naturally talented can move me like no other.
Listening to the girls sing with our worship band melts my heart every time.

Music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.

Thankful for the gift of music and the ability to enjoy it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful (16)

I.  Love.  Date.  Night.

Bill and I try to schedule them twice a month, but we're lucky if we can squeeze in at least one.  The girls are always so sweet when I'm getting ready - oooing and ahhhing because their mother has done her hair and make-up and looks "like a princess."  Sometimes they start asking about how Bill and I met, when we started dating, and all about our wedding.  It gets me all sentimental and sometimes flustered at the same time!  Gotta love the fantastic ability to cry at a moment's notice.

When the girls were younger, and we only had one or two girls - I always had a hard time leaving them and wanted to rush back home right after dinner or coffee or whatever it was that we might be doing.  Now that they're older and they're often spread out among two or more babysitters, I'm not as uptight as I used to be - a little bit, but not as much.  It's nice to get away and have a nice, uninterrupted meal and/or drink and/or coffee while looking at and talking with my husband.  I may or may not be inappropriate while we're out and about - but that's all right.
I just pull out the This is how God made me! card.

Thankful for date nights with the Husband.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful (15)

I don't pretend to understand the rhyme and reason behind life and loss.
I sometimes think how old our two babies would be had we not miscarried.
I wonder whether or not they would have been boys or girls.

Would we have been a family with six children?
Would they have looked like the girls - which ones?
What kind of personalities would they have had?
What would their little voices - their little laughs - have sounded like?

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher
than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

Thankful that one day we'll be with our babies again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful (14)

Love these two so much.
Dad has been surrounded by one to three women for nearly forty years.  For that alone, he's amazing.  He's a quiet man (except for when he's angry which is hardly ever), but he loves us unconditionally and works extremely hard for his family.  He always wants the best
for me, my mom, and my sister.

Mom is always there for me, Bill, and the girls - no matter what.  It's ridiculous how much we did not get along during my high school and college years, but in retrospect - I know it was because she loved (loves) me so much.  My mom came to the United States when she got married and left behind her family and her home.  She sacrificed a lot for my dad and our family.  She's amazing and strong, and she's a fantastic wife and mother.  She loves us fiercely and relentlessly.

Forever grateful to God for the parents that He gave me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful (13)

The beach might be one of my most favorite places in the world.  Currently, we drag about 3482 beach toys, a cooler, umbrellas, etc. whenever we venture to the ocean - but I still love it.  Our family vacations there every summer, and it's a tradition I would be extremely sad to miss.  Bill and I have celebrated anniversaries near the ocean, and I can hardly resist a girls
weekend away to the Outer Banks.

Thankful for the warming rays of the sun and the relaxing waves of the beach.