Daily Reads


Sam's birthday party

Thank you so much to my Bubba for these wonderful pictures above. 

Well, we had a little party for Sam, and let's just start with the fact that he enjoyed his cake. He loved having everybody sing to him, didn't quite know what to do with it, and finally ended up going in face first. There was a lot of smiling and humming as he enjoyed his cake. He also kept pointing to the little balls on top and telling me "ball" - the theme was "balls" since that's his favorite thing - and for some reason that just made my heart sing. He seemed to love his party, and that's exactly what I wanted for this little nugget.

My parents graciously let us have the party at their house in Austin, so we were able to celebrate with some family and friends there which was a real treat! We had barbecue, played in the pool, visited, and the kids played with the new toys. It was a really fun afternoon celebrating our Sam. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for hosting us!


Happy birthday, Sam!

I really wanted to recreate this sweet picture for Sam's first birthday, but it turns out if I put him in a crib full of balloons he's a non-stop blur of activity. He will squeal and play until every balloon is thrown out. I know because we tried twice, for about an hour each time. (In this picture above I can see him challenging me with his eyes! "Just try and get me to be still with a crib full of balloons.") So, I have a couple hundred blurry (but cute!) photos, and one or two of him being still and not smiling. These are the best we could get, and although they're not perfect, I love them! 

Oh, how we adore you, Sam. You are a ray of sunshine. You've brought so much joy to our family.
We love you more than all the stars and thank God for you every day. xoxo

(Newborn Sam, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. Sigh. Where does the time go?)


the boys

One of the most surprising (and wonderful) things about our boys is how different they are from each other. Before Sam was born I assumed they would look alike, or have similar temperaments, or maybe even sound alike. But not these boys. In fact, except for the happy twinkle in their eyes and the sweet smell of their heads, they are different in almost every way I can detect. We try hard not to compare them or label them, but I do want to remember all of the ways that they are unique at this age, so I thought I'd do a little snapshot of each of them. I'm hoping I can keep this up over the years to help us remember all the precious little details that make them so special.

Michael - 3 years and 4 months

Favorite way to spend playtime: Playing pretend. All. The. Time. Repurposing trash and/or our belongings as spy gear, pirate gear, creature gear, robot gear, etc. I also often find him sitting quietly, absorbed in books. He loves to be outside "checking on the garden" (digging in the garden while wearing a cowboy hat) or running around in the grass pretending to be a cheetah or a bison. New summer favorites are the splash pad and the swimming pool.

Latest skills: Jumping off of everything, jumping into the pool, swimming with floaties, tracing letters with a pencil (and writing a few without tracing), playing nicely with other kids, sharing (most of the time), does small jobs for money so he can save up for toys he wants.

Words: "I love you so, so, so, so much, Mom."
"I love your hands, Mom. They look like claws."
"How did Sammy come out of your tummy? Did he zoom out of your mouth? Did he pop out of your belly button?"
"I dreamed I was a vole. And we lived in the sublivian (sub-nivian) zone."
"Cheese is my favorite liquid." (He was eating mac n cheese.)

Best way to make him laugh: Physical comedy involving his stuffed mouse, Ralph. Tickling. Also, wrestling around with Sam and Tim, and looking at Sam during prayers.

Loves: Animals. Books. Traveling. The beach. The pool. Flying on airplanes. Being among close family and friends. Breakfast. Helping us cook. Reading. Getting snuggly in his bed. Ralph the mouse. Sam. Adventure.

Doesn't love: Loud, chaotic situations. Pushy people. Strangers who talk to him like they know him. Beans.

Some things he's good at: Remembering things he has learned. (This leads to correcting other people when they're wrong sometimes, ahem.) Communicating. Obeying. Using his imagination. Looking out for Sam.

Aspirations: To get a pet. (Actually, all the pets. He has asked for everything from a pet mouse to a lion cub.) To carry a lunch box and ride a school bus someday.

Samuel - 1 year

Favorite way to spend playtime: Throwing a ball with someone, or if no one is available, throwing it - chasing it down - throwing it again, etc. Emptying baskets of toys, pulling all of the tupperware out, excavating the house plants, pushing toy cars around, playing chase with Mikey. He is not very interested in books or cartoons - wants to be free and on the move all the time. Loves to be outside. Loves the splash pad and the pool.

Latest skills: Throwing a ball while standing, taking a couple of steps, pulling papers off my desk, doing animal sounds, dunking his face in the pool or bathtub, climbing stairs/chairs/stools/tables/into the diswasher, falling asleep on his own (sometimes), sleeping through the night (sometimes), brushing his teeth.

Words: Dad, Mama, Bubba, Mikey (eee), baby (bee), peach (shh), thank you (tank-tank), go, Gigi, amen (men), book, balloon (boon), no-no-no.

Best way to make him laugh: Tickle him, kiss his belly, startle him. (Catch him when he's sleepy.)

Loves: Playing in the pool and the bathtub. Rough-housing with Daddy and Mikey. Dogs. Music. Avocado. Snuggles. Nursing.

Doesn't love: Being away from Mom and Dad. Having his face cleaned. Long car trips. Being told "no".

Some things he's good at: Playing happily by himself or with others. Being patient. Throwing.

Aspirations: To someday get into the bathroom and explore the toilet. To keep up with Mikey.


I just can't believe how quickly this year is going by. The next time I write one of these posts, Sam will be one! Our little Sam - he isn't little anymore. He's over 20 pounds, 29 and 1/4 inches, in size four diapers and 12 month clothes. He has four teeth and his chubby thighs have started to thin out (a little bit). His eyes are deep brown and his hair is very blond. He has a dimple in his right cheek and he smiles easily. When he's especially happy, he gives us "the Muppet smile", a huge open-mouthed grin (see eight month photo above).

It's so fun to compare Sam's personality now to his personality as a newborn. In some ways he hasn't changed, like how he is happiest when he is interacting with the people he loves. And the way he still loves music - bobbing his head and sometimes "singing" along. But he surprises me in other ways. I had him pegged as passive and calm, a classic "laid back" second child, but in the last few months he has shown us that is not the case. He's assertive and he does whatever he has to do to be heard/get what he wants/keep up with Michael. He's strong and determined, which makes him a handful these days, but most of the time leaves us smiling proudly. He's no longer happy to go tearing around the kitchen in his walker. He wants to be on the floor crawling and getting into cabinets, so we've fenced in the playroom and kitchen to keep him contained while I cook.

He's talkative - babbling, yelling and trying out new noises all the time. He says "Buh-buh" (Bubba (Michael)),  "Dada", "Mama", "Nigh-nigh" (when he's tired or wants to nurse), "Bah" (ball), "Bababa" (bottle of water), and he will roar like a lion and baa like a sheep. He claps and waves and the other day he told me "bye bye Mama" and waved. He also hums when he's really enjoying his food. Michael used to do that when he ate (and still does sometimes!) and we get such a kick out of seeing Sam do the same thing! He loves food. He eats everything we give him, and now that he has four teeth he's chewing a little bit which is really cute. He still nurses in the morning, and to go to sleep, but he seems to be losing interest in nursing during the day. He's just too busy. All he wants to do is explore. He's crawling, pulling up, and cruising a little bit. He has even let go when he's standing a few times, and then plopped right onto his bottom. We've caught him climbing the stairs too.

He loves: Michael, Daddy, Michael's toys, balls, music, having his cheeks nibbled, playing in the bathtub and the pool, exploring new places, riding in the stroller, chasing and being chased by Michael, strawberry yogurt, riding on his bus, getting tossed around by Daddy, being tickled, having his back and arms scratched, and nursing to sleep.
He does not like: being still for diaper changes, being strapped in to his carseat, having his nose wiped, napping at the same time as Michael, and being held by unfamiliar people.

Happy nine months, Samuel! We love you, so! xoxo
(And just for fun, Michael at nine months. Oh, the heartache.)



Dear Michael,

You're three today! It doesn't seem possible, but here you are, so grown up. You have changed so much over the last year. Let me see if I can put into words a little bit about you....

A stranger might describe you as shy, but we know better - you are talkative and playful and affectionate most of the time, but when you feel uncomfortable around new people or in uncertain situations you get quiet. You are reserved with your affection and slow to form your opinions - you take your time to decide what you think about people and what you want. Once you have made up your mind you aren't easily swayed. You are thoughtful and careful, and suddenly aware of so many dangers in the world. There are things all around you that are scary to you, but I watch as you deliberately confront all of them - venturing down the big slide, picking up creepy bugs, crossing the high beam in gymnastics class, visiting a new bible class by yourself, poking at a new food until you work up the courage to taste it, quietly talking to new people. I know just how you feel, sweet one. You are so much like me as a child. I know that you don't like being scared of things, and my heart bursts with pride every time you decide to face a fear. You are brave.

If someone asked me to describe you in one word I might choose "creative". Your mind is powerful, little one, and your imagination never rests. You are always telling stories, or asking us to tell stories to you. You build things and play pretend games constantly. You love to get lost in good movies and books and you always play them out in real life and assign roles to all of us too. You love music, and you love to sing along and dance. Your Dad has made you a special mix of all your favorite songs and we all love it - they're all precious to us now, because you love them so much. You don't miss details, and you remember everything. I'm in awe of your mind, and a little intimidated too.

You've started talking about God and talking to God, recently. When we eat lunch on the porch you like to walk out into the sun to talk to God. "Here I am, God", you say. You talk about Jesus, too, and how, in your words, we should be "kind and loving like Jesus". We're growing a garden and you are so delighted that God makes the seeds grow into plants. You love to "check on the plants" several times every day and water them in your boots and cowboy hat. I can't wait until you actually get to pick the fruits and vegetables and eat God's good gifts! When you are scared at night you ask me to pray about it with you, and this always comforts you. There is no line between the visible and the invisible, for you, and your faith is a wonder to behold. I pray that you are always so sure of God's love and protection over you. I pray that you will always marvel at His hand in creation, and that you will never hesitate to walk into the sun, look up and talk to Him. If we get anything right, I pray that we will foster this faith that is in you.

You love to have adventures. In the yard. In the neighborhood. To the store. On the road. Anywhere. You love to be outside all the time. You are in the trees, in the grass, barefoot, covered in dirt and grass, and supremely happy when you are outside. You always play the hero and you always stop along the way to pick me some flowers. You want to be funny and you are always watching to see if you make me smile and laugh. You want a pet. You have asked for a cow, a horse, a dog, a cat, a duck, and a lizard. (You have a fish named Nemo, but he is not as fun as you had hoped he would be.) You love Sam, or "Sammah" as you call him. You two crack each other up. You love to hug and smile and talk. You splash each other in the tub and you even share your toys sometimes. He's so blessed to have you. 

I feel at a loss to try and put you into words but I will say this: sometimes we'll be enjoying a meal together, or listening to some good music, or traveling with you and it will occur to us that you are the kind of person that we like to hang out with. That, Michael, is one of the happiest feelings I've ever felt. I know we will have plenty of differences over the years, but I pray that you will always talk to us the way you do now, enjoy good food and music with us, share adventures with us. Knowing you brings us so much joy, Michael. How could we have known three years ago what a smart, creative, cool person you would be? I can't wait to see what God has in store for your future, sweet boy. We love you completely and forever. xo 


A bug party for Michael

For his third birthday, Michael wanted to have a bug party. (Specifically, he wanted a bug cake with a bird swooping down to eat a grasshopper and he wanted to have hot dogs. I think we did a good job of giving him all that and more! :) We kept it pretty simple - we invited friends from church and playgroup to come for lunch and cake. For favors I picked up some bug houses from the dollar tree and each child got to fill their bug house with dirt and grass and dig for (fake) bugs in a little bug pit we made. We used face paint to give bug tattoos, played in the yard, ate lunch, had cake and ice cream, and opened presents. It was short and really sweet. Michael loved it and his friends had a good time too.

Special thanks to my Mom and Dad who took care of Sam, helped with the party, took lots of beautiful photos, and freed us up to give our attention to Michael and our guests. Thank you so much Mom and Dad! We love it that we can share these special times with you! xo
The rocket from his Daddy - one of his favorite gifts :)
I couldn't resist putting these two in a basket with the balloons.
Corny, but so cute!