Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011, In Review

2011 was a great year for the Bowmans... and that is putting it lightly! Some highlights include our beautiful, wonderful baby Jack, my new job: stay at home mom, learning and growing and strengthening our marriage in so many ways that are noticeable daily, paying off our debt, and a new church. If you've been following along here, you know that sometimes have been tough, there has been heart ache and tears, but there has also been so many answered prayers and so many reasons just to sit at the Lord's feet and say "thank you" a hundred million trillion times. We're ending 2011 on a mountain top for sure!

Billy Phenix who is the campus pastor at Buckhead Church tweeted this PDF for married couples to talk through-- Chad and I took advantage of it on one of our hour long drive through the Texas hill country this past week-- it was so cool to talk through 2011 and plan for 2012. It was funny because most of the time our answers were different, but it was great to get into Chad's head a little and be able to compare notes. I really recommend making time to do this with your other half, and aim to do it THIS week... because let's be honest, it's just a matter of time before we're onto the next thing.

On Sunday, our family pastor, Matt, who happens to be my Danielle's husband, Reed's dad, and one of the 4 men in our small group, preached a really great message to kick off the new year. It's really worth a listen! (The video is not up yet, but you'll be able to watch it here in the next day or so.) The main point is using our past, and present, to move to the future, but how he ended was really a kicker for me and Chad, and I'm still mulling over it regularly--  he quoted Colossians 3: 1-4, which honestly are verses that a really familiar to me but this time, God really used them to poke at my heart (man, how I love the power of scripture!):

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Matt zeroed in on verse 4, where it says "who is your life"-- he went onto challenge us NOT to make spiritual goals and physical goals and relational goals, separately-- but instead, make Christ our life-- meaning the He is in everything, He is who we are and who we're about-- Christ is the end all, be all.

Oh that just gets me all rattled, in a great way-- what would my relational goals and physical goals and family goals look like if Christ was my life? I wouldn't need spiritual goals, because apart from Him, I'd be nothing! So as I proceed over these next several days, and think through what I want 2012 to look like, that's where I'm heading... I want Christ to be my life!

So there are several things on my list of goals for kicking off this year-- hopefully by March, I can say these following things are done--

1) Read Mark Driscoll's new book, Real Marriage, with Chad... and actually finish it, together, working through it along the way. (We're really great at starting books together and never finishing them... we have quite a collection on the shelf in our room if you'd like to borrow any!)
2) Have Jack sleeping through the night (again!)
3) Get Max back into big boy underwear and get rid of his paci
4) Be more assertive when it comes to my family- stop saying "yes" if it's not what's best for this stage of life I'm in now-- which is a wife and a mom of young children, first and foremost. (Sandra Stanley, along with Andy, did a great talk (the whole series is great, but Part 4 applies here) on this a while back-- I have to re-listen regularly to remind myself that “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Nehemiah 6:3)
5) Reach my goal weight, go to the gym 5-6 times a week, cut out sugar for the month of January
6) Make time to continue writing my book
7) Become a better steward of the food we buy- not let things go to waste
8) House projects: switch bedrooms, re-do closets, make garage into playroom, purge things we don't need

And that's just getting me started.... BUT what would these look like if Christ was my life? How would that change my attitude and my motives? And can you even imagine the state of my heart? And what it would do to my fears and my worries? What if scripture was all over my brain and I was cleaning up pee and changing wet sheets? Oh, it'd be nothing but goodness, that's what!

So here's to 2012-- and making Christ my life!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas really started off with a bang when Max and Jack both decided to start getting new teeth, take on some nasty stomach bug (think horrid diapers) and catch a cold, simultaneously, on the 22nd of December. It was awesome.... what, you don't believe me?

Well honestly this did all happen-- we're not totally over it, and I'm so negative in the sleep the department that I see things from time to time, BUT my kids rocked it. They were sweet and happy, we enjoyed family and celebrating, and we celebrated Jesus' birthday party with gusto!

On the 23rd, my parents arrived from Indiana. (Sam had to stay in Indy of this job.) My mom had just had foot surgery and had just been released from crutches to her boot, so I fretted over her while she was here- wondering if she was doing too much and worrying if Max would accidentally hit it-- but despite her insistence on carrying Max and Jack as they wished, the trip was great, we enjoyed their company, but as always it went too fast!

On the 24th, Gabe came over and we watched him open his presents. This is the first year that he got all toys from us (none of those yucky clothes/ jammies/ etc) so he was pumped. Then, that afternoon, we had my Dad's family over for Christmas Eve-- we served lunch and they brought all the desserts and goodies.... yum! We enjoyed seeing everyone, swapping some gifts, hearing good stories, and celebrating Christmas. We also were blessed because my aunt Nancy who had had open heart surgery just weeks before was able to come.

Later that night, after attending the Christmas Eve service and getting the boys to bed, Chad and I got to be "Santa's Helpers" for the first time-- putting a few new things together for when the boys came downstairs in the morning. Max really wanted a red car (aka a Cozy Coupe) and we got Jack a jumparoo. (I think that's one of those gifts that's actually for mom too!) My parents and Uncle E-yi helped with that and it was just really fun.

Christmas morning was great- Max seemed to understand that it was Jesus' birthday and he could tell you the gist of the story and the reason for celebrating. This is the first time he has shown any interest in presents and enjoyed opening them and playing with things as he got them. He thought pi's, big boy undies, books, play doh, and his red car was all awesome! He'd open something and play with it, then a few minutes later ask, "Can I open anudder one?"

For the most part, it was a lazy day- we had a yummy brunch, everyone got naps, and I packed all of our bags to head to Texas to see Chad's family. My parents and brother cooked a great steak dinner as I did laundry and made my last check on my lists, and then we had time to play some games that evening too. It was a great Christmas with my family, and it left us really excited about their move down here in the next month or so.

Now for Christmas part II:

On the 26th, we picked up Gabe while it was still dark and headed to the airport for our trip to Texas. Gabe's school started back earlier this year (Jan 3rd!), so I trip was short, but we all had a great time. On the 27th, we had Christmas morning all over again... Texas style! Chad's brother, wife, and their two boys all came over to Chad's parent's house, where we were staying, with donuts. After a yummy and healthy breakfast, we turned our attention to the stockings and another Christmas tree. Once again, the boys were so spoiled, getting great gifts and lots of love from everyone.

The next day, we all headed out to Chad's brother's family's new piece of property. It's on top of a big hill (I'm pretty sure in GA, we'd consider it a mountain!) and has and incredible view. It's many many  many acres- so they've had to overhaul brush, and make places for roads, pour the pad for the house, dig for a well, and lots of other labor intensive things. The men worked for hours, as an 18-wheeler dumped 3 loads of dirt-- Gabe and Max even got to ride on the tractors- they thought they were hot stuff!

On Thursday, we took our annual trip into San Antonio for lunch at Chris Madrid's- Chad's favorite restaurant- and lots of friends and family met us there. We then hit up some shopping- like the Bass Pro Shop, of course, and ended the night with some family karaoke.

By Friday, I was so worn out, purely from my nights with Jack. I told Barbara, my mother in law, that I don't think I've ever slept through the night at her house! I've managed to have a sick child or a new baby at every visit, ay yi yi! This time it was Jack, and instead of his pre-Christmas cold getting better, it kept getting worse. I spent the wee hours of the morning on Friday with his pack n' play right beside us so I could check for his breathing. After speaking with his pediatrician from home first thing in the morning, they decided a trip to the ER was necessary. After an X-ray, a breathing treatment, and some other tests, it was determined that he had RSV, which can be really serious in babies. We got loaded up with medicines, a breathing machine of our own, some antibiotics, and a list of signs to look for, and were released. It wasn't exactly what we had in mind for the last day of our trip, but we're so thankful that Jack is doing much better now!

On Saturday morning, we boarded a plane once again with our crew, and headed back to Georgia. Despite the germs and all the lack of sleep, everyone was wonderful and so well-mannered, even Chad :) Honestly, all of the celebrating and visits with family feel like a blur at this point. I know they happened, and they were wonderful, but I'm pretty sure we didn't get ample time to appreciate it all. More than anything, we are grateful for the birth of God's son, who came as a babe, to shower his love and his sacrifice on the world. We're grateful for our big family that we get to celebrate with, and our three precious boys that make each day, and especially Christmas, wonderful!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We've had our baby J for 7 whole months!

My little Jack is 7 months old- and even though it pains me to admit it, I can't even pretend he's a newborn tiny tot anymore. He likes to sit on my hip when I hold him, he plays with toys, he'll entertain himself on his play mat or in his exosaucer for long periods of time, and he can sit up for a couple of minutes at a time. The only "tiny baby" about him is his hands and his sleeping schedule.

Jack is mostly bottle fed at this point, because he rejects nursing the majority of the time. He has to be really sleepy and mellow to nurse, otherwise, he needs a bottle so that he can look around. Sometimes it makes me frustrated, but I keep reminding myself that it's not my fault, it doesn't make me a bad mom, and that he had over 6 good months of the good stuff. Hopefully all the immunities are in place. Honestly, I think because I worked for the first 5 months of his life and he took pumped milk in bottles while I was away, he learned rather quickly that bottles were easier, less work, and gave him more freedom to enjoy his surroundings while eating.

Jack has also moved into three meals of solid food a day-- and he's doing great. He usually has a cereal feeding and orange veggie feeding and a green veggie feeding. And we mix fruit in there most of the time too, although the only veggie that requires fruit are green beans- they literally give him the shakes and gags if I don't mix in some applesauce, ha! I'm also making his baby food, like I did with Max. I'm going to do a whole opinionated post on that after the new year-- my goal is to convince all moms that is SO easy, SO much cheaper, and you're in complete control of what they're eating-- fresh, no preservatives, organic if you choose, etc.... but I'll elaborate on that soapbox later :)

Like I mentioned before, Jack's sleeping is less than stellar... naps are great, 2, two-hour naps during the day, the occasional cat nap around dinner time, but then night time in a whole other story.  For some reason, it's getting worse-- he's had ear infections, a throat virus, and tummy ache, and now he's teething-- plus several out of town trips and holidays and such- so I'm trying to just "get through" until the new year, but me and baby J see each other many times during the night--arrrghhhh! He's usually easy to get back down- but the poor boy, he slept better when he was 2 weeks old! But on the in-between nights, when he's not any of the things mentioned about, he'll sleep from about 7:30/8p to about 5am, and then with a little paci insertion, I can get him to go another hour or two. But honestly this mom just needs so sleep-- like more than 3 ours in a row.

BUT in all other areas, Jack is perfection. His smile, his personality, his roll legs, his laugh, his go with the flow attitude, his ability to "hang" with a busy big brother, his need for cuddles, and his love for his momma! His separation anxiety seems to be gone (for now at least)- I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and he does great, and he's becoming a regular in the church nursery too-- making it the whole time. His hair is long enough to actually stick up at this point-- but it's white and therefore see-through still.... but just get close and you'll love it. And his eye lashes are 47 miles long. Oh this baby is beautiful and happy and wonderful.

And loved.  A lot!

He's just now moving out of the 6 month clothes-- into the 6-9 month or just 9 months range. As soon as this batch of diapers are finished, we'll move to size 3 of those too, just because I feel like his man parts need room to grow ;)  I would love it if he would totally master sitting up so I don't have to lug his carseat around, otherwise, I'd like to freeze him right here for a couple years. This is honestly such a fun stage- there is so much light in his eyes and excitement for the world around.

Needless to say Mr. Jack, we think you are awesome. You are such an important part of our family and I just love the balance and chill you bring to my life. It's been wonderful loving on you through this Christmas season and putting myself in Mary's shoes-- it's so unbelievably amazing to be your mom, I just can't imagine how Mary felt bringing the Savior of the world into the world. I really hope you enjoy this first Christmas and that somehow, it plants a seed in your heart forever, to recognize the joy a certain little baby brought so many years ago- He came in human form for me and for you-- He came to save us from our sin. Having you as a baby really changed my world, but when Jesus came as a baby, he changed the whole world, FOREVER. Praise God, baby J, praise Him with your whole life!  Make Him your life! I love you!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Toddler For Sale!

Oh people, let me just say this nicely... I have a toddler for sale today. Oh my word- this child! You just can't really understand the throes of the "terrible two's" until you have a terrible two. This child makes me want to knock my own head against the wall over and over and over and over. On purpose. They were on to something when they gave it that name... whoever "they" are!

But "they" left out an adjective, in my opinion- I think this stage that my Max is in should be deemed the "terribly terrific twos". His brain is like no other, and when he's sweet, man he melts me. When he's thinking, man he tickles me to death. But when he's rotten and disobeying and thinking he's king of the world, man, it's all I can do not to put him at the intersection with a sign reading "free to a good home".

Recently, while riding in the car, he told me and Chad "God makes me happy!"And after talking about the letter "V" and teaching him that my mom (his Annie's) name is Vicki and that starts with a 'V' he then decided that she was indeed VICKI MOUSE, much to mine and Gabe's amusement. If you ask him, Snowmen have corn for a nose and Christmas is Jesus' birthday party. This is all terrific!

The past two Wednesdays, while I was at youth group, Max just politely and cutely told his Dad that he didn't want a bath, and got out of it both times. And earlier this week, when I was trying to discipline Max, he started talking about the ceiling and trying to get me to "yook at it" so I asked him why he was distracting me... he responded "I not want to know what you say." He was a poot the entire time we tried to take family pictures a couple weeks ago. And he'll also throw things, stomp, lay down and kick, and scream like a dying pig if he doesn't get his way. This is all terrible.

But do you know what gets me the most? We didn't teach him this- it just came with the package that is Max. Our wooden spoon gets a lot of use and usually spends the night right beside Max on his bedside table as a "reminder" of what happens to little boys who don't obey. My child raising books are also getting a lot of use right now. But my hugs and my smiles and my laughs get a lot of use too. Sometimes I try to remember what my life was like before I had my little buddy Max and I just can't-- he brings me so much joy and reminds me at least hourly of how blessed we are to have him.

So that's how I ended up with the terribly terrific twos. I vote we start a movement to change the name. Not because this stage isn't hard- it is-- so very hard! But because it's also equally as wonderful and why in the world would we want to scare anyone away from enjoying this phenomena of the second year of a child's life? It shows how wonderful God made each and everyone of us, how He crafted our amazing brains and our amazing bodies.... and it shows how sinful we are, naturally, in our flesh, and then it shows our need for a Savior, and once again, points us all back to a great big wonderful loving God, who loved us while we were sinners, and sent his Son in the form of a baby to save us from ourselves.

So when my two year old is driving me nuts, thank you God for your grace. And when my two year old is amazing me and bringing me joy, thank you God for your grace. And when I question my own sanity in motherhood, thank you God for your grace. And when my eyes fill with tears over the blessing of this babe, thank you God for your grace!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Little Baby Morgan

In August, when we were at the beach, Chad and I were on a breakfast date when I started telling him about my dream- we had kept Reed at our house while Matt and Danielle went to an ultrasound and found out they were having a girl. Considering they weren't even pregnant, Chad didn't take this dream too seriously, so I decided to text Danielle and tell her the news. She responded that in about 16 weeks, I could keep Reed while they went to find out... she had just taken a pregnancy test and had just found out they were expecting baby #2!

So fast forward a couple months-- Matt and Danielle decided to have a gender party to reveal if Reed would be getting a brother or a sister-- they invited all their family and close friends over and we were to dress the part-- were we team girl or team boy?

Naturally, after my foreshadowing dream, we were all team girl:

Does Jack make a pretty girl? Chad came down the stairs and said "Who is she, and what is she wearing?" And Eli kept calling him Jackie... but I thought he was cute :) No, we don't own any pick shirts, unfortunately, but we borrowed them from Lizzy and Evie because the Bowmans were team girl, for sure!

Earlier in the week, during the 20 week ultrasound, the ultrasound tech had written on a card whether the baby was a boy or a girl.  Then the Morgans dropped the note, along with a big empty box off with friends who would handle the reveal... and the wait was on!

Once everyone arrived at the party (and in between the first and second quarter of the SEC Championship, Go Dawgs!) everyone headed out to the yard...

Reed is having a.............


We're so excited about baby girl Morgan-- and we can't wait for her arrival in April-- but for now, we just pray for her safe baking... and thank God for this little blessing!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Welcome Lil Pumpkin!

I've got lots of new babies that I'm really looking forward to in the  next couple of months... and none of them are growing in my own womb, thank you Jesus. (We'll hopefully do some more growing in the future, but for now, me and my womb are on extended leave.)

In April, my wonderful friend Danielle (Reed's mom) is having a baby... gender to be determined this weekend at their gender party!!
In March, Angela, Gabe's mom, is welcoming a little girl: Kimbrel Lynn-- Lord know we needs some girls around here!
In February, sweet Lisa (Haven's mom) from our small group, one of the most "would do anything for you people" in this world, is bringing sweet Calder into this world

In just a few weeks... maybe a few days... or maybe even a few hours with how quick she likes to pop babies out, my dear friend Jill, will be having sweet Grant Henry-- and I canNOT wait for his arrival. I've mentioned his big bro Hudson a time or 29 on this blog- I've loved that kid since his conception and his personality and how sweet he is to Max just makes my love grow and grow- and now, I am so eager to meet the next Spiva baby that I get tickled and giddy just thinking about it! I can already smell him, yummmm!

Obviously, as these little people arrive, I will gladly supply you with pictures so you too may gawk, but for now, check out the cute baby shower we had for Jill and Jonathan and baby #2... it was thrown by the Porton Posse ladies (minus Caroline who had another engagement) and took place on a crisp (ok downright freezing) fall night. I even got a little crafty, which hasn't happened that much since I brought my own small people into the world.

Here's the entrance:

Setting the stage... can you tell what our theme was?

We served chili, the fix ins, apple cider, and pumpkin cupcakes... naturally!

Here is the drink station

And last but not least, the fire pit, the eventually roared and kept us all cozy while we chatted and hung out

Of course, there were s'mores as well.... and maybe Ruth and I ate 10 (each) but hey, you only get to have a Welcome Lil Pumpkin shower for baby Grant once, so let's live it up!

And last but not least, mainly because I forgot to take a picture of the adorable pregnant lady, here is a picture of the hostesses (without the guest of honor, ha!)

It was a wonderful fun party-- I think everyone had a blast-- but now all that is left is the birth, wahoo!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

From Thanksgiving to Christmas...

Over Thanksgiving, we loaded up the minivan and headed to Indiana to visit my parents. It's an easy 8 hour drive (plus an extra hour for stops/meals/ potty breaks/ and feeding the babe) and the boys did great but they were sure read to exit the van by the time we arrived. We enjoyed our time with my parents- the boys were spoiled and loved and cuddled and held, and they were not required to sleep if they didn't want to, they even had Christmas with Uncle Sam since we won't see him in December. We visited the children's museum and then had a house full at my uncle's house for Thanksgiving-- my Mamaw and Papaw had all 5 of their children, all 9 of their grand children, and all 5 of their great grandchildren present and accounted for-- and naturally there was great food and dessert.

My post-Thanksgiving nap time looked like this:

I'm pretty sure it was my best one yet.

We came home on Black Friday when all you other crazies were shopping and managed to have the roads mostly to ourself and get Eli back home in time for his last week of LSAT class before the big test.... duhhnn duhhhn duuhhhhhhnnnnnnn!

Naturally, with a full weekend at home, full of nothing, it seemed like the perfect time to pull out the Christmas decor-- we got a wreath on the door, and Christmas mat to wipe your feet, the mantle is decorated, and of course the Christmas tree.  Gabe ran the decorating show, Chad taught Max how to hang ornaments, and I wrestled with my inner-control freak and watched in happiness as my wonderful and very handsome family scattered about.

Baby Jack slept through the actual decorating, so I did what any other mother would do and made some special time to decorate him! In cute Christmas clothes of course :) My Mom got that Santa suit before we even knew that Jack was a Jack... we've been waiting very patiently for this time of the year to debut it!

This year, I'm thankful for a lot-- and not just because it's Thanksgiving. I'm actually overwhelmed by my blessing my right-- and I'm just trying to practice living "here" and not looking forward or borrow trouble...

Here's the top 5 things I'm currently thankful for (I could go on, but I'll spare you!)
1) All of my boys-- their hearts, their brains, their strong bodies, and their health
2) My hard working husband and being a Stay-at-home mom... it's not easier than what I was doing before, but it's WAY better
3) The opportunity for my brother Eli to live with us right now-- it's fun and I wish I could build him a room off the back of my house to give him privacy and entice him to stay forever
4) My Dad's new job that's bringing him and my mom to Atlanta to live and be a part of our lives almost daily
5) My Jesus, His love, God's gift of salvation, and Grace

Praise God from whom ALL blessing flow!