Happy 3 Months, Carter!

Dear Carter,

Today, you are three months old! A quarter of a year! How time flies...

Over the last month, you have acquired several new tricks. You can now roll over from your tummy to your back. You can fit your whole fist in your mouth and do so often. If you're feeling really ambitious, you try to cram both fists in there.
You can also make bubbles. When playing on your Baby Einstein activity mat, you can pump those legs like you're swimming the butterfly stroke in an Olympic race. And oh, how you love that brightly colored, blinking star that flashes with the music!

Just last week, you discovered your feet. I looked back into the megasight mirror in the car to see you hunched over and staring at your feet. You haven't tried to cram those into your mouth, but I am sure it won't be long until you try. In the meantime, you simply enjoy staring at them.
You aren't quite reaching for toys yet, but you still have a strong grasp. Your favorite thing to take hold of is your mommy's hair. You get a good fistful several times a day, thus her thinning hair.

Just a few days ago, you began sticking your tongue out. Daddy, in particular, thinks this is really funny. You kept trying to lick your towel when I got you out of the bath, so perhaps you're discovering textures.

You have taken notice of our dogs, Sadie and Jackson, and enjoy watching them chase each other around the den. You even like it when they lick your toes. You actually got a fistful of Sadie's hair right at her mouth, but she patiently and gently waited until I could release your grip.

You love your animal mobile in your crib, and you 'll sometimes fix your gaze on one animal and track it as it circles around.

You sat in the bumbo seat for the first time. You looked around like you were seeing the world from a whole new viewpoint. I guess you were...

You currently weigh right at 15 lbs. I can't get you still long enough to measure your length, but you seem longer every day! You're already wearing some 6-9 month clothing. Your eye color continues to lighten, so you may end up keeping those baby blues after all!

Most excitingly, you are now sleeping through the night! You have slept from approximately 7:30 pm to 6:30 am for 9 nights in a row. If Mommy and Daddy had discovered the keys of swaddling and white noise machines earlier on, you would have been doing this much sooner, I believe. Thank you Natalie and "Moms on Call" for showing us the path to sweet dreams!

It is so much fun to see your personality begin to emerge. When company is around, you absolutely will not fall asleep. You don't want to miss out on anything. On Sunday, you stayed awake for your first visit to the church nursery. You stayed awake during the baby shower that afternoon. And you continued to fight off sleep at our church core group early that evening. Unfortunately, as we learned this past weekend, too many missed naps result in a fussy evening. You had taken so much in throughout the day that you didn't know how to soothe yourself to sleep. So now Mommy knows that, while you're an angel during the day, brief naps or no naps equal a rough evening and an unhappy, overstimulated baby. We continue to learn. I hope you'll forgive us for our mistakes.

Most of all, we love to see you smile and laugh. When you're really excited, you scrunch up your nose and open your mouth really wide.

Carter, we are so proud of you and all your milestones this month. We love you more every day. Happy 3 Months!


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Carter's Playdate

There were too many cute pictures to choose from, so I just included them all.

Carter and Ben

They are just six days apart.

We laid them down side by side, but Ben wiggled over so his head was next to Carter's. Adorable!

Stacey and I were just chatting away when we suddenly noticed them holding hands! We both grabbed our cameras, but they were starting to let go by the time we snapped these pictures. I still think it's pretty darn cute.

I think they both took good naps after their playtime!

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There's No Time Like Bathtime

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5 Stars!

There are numerous story Bibles out there, but this one is my favorite! It was given to us by my writing teacher at seminary, and I have been reading it to Carter since the first day we received it. Instead of just telling biblical stories on a children's level, the author (Sally Lloyd-Jones) ties Jesus into each chapter and shows how each individual story fits into the entire Bible, God's Story, His great redemptive plan. So you don't just get a parable or story, you get a theological framework to place it in.

Would you really want to teach your child that Abraham almost killed his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God unless you also explained the meaning and significance of God's request? Sally Lloyd-Jones beautifully explores the full meaning of each story. Every time I finish a chapter, I have chills. I have basically adopted this work as my latest devotional. I highly recommend you buy and read this book, even if you don't have children! (Incidentally, when I pulled the book image from Amazon.com, I saw that Dr. Tim Keller, renowned pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, recommended this book for every Christian.)

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter:

"Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book about heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is - it's true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child on which everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day - but wait. Our Story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning..."

I am convinced this book could be used as an evangelistic tool to share the Gospel! I LOVE it and hope you will find it as refreshing and exciting as I do!

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Please Pray for Katherine Arnold Wolf

Katherine Arnold Wolf (a girl I competed with in Miss AL years ago and an acquaintance) is in need of your prayers. (You might of seen her on "Smarter than a 5th Grader" a few weeks ago; it was taped when she was 8 months pregnant.) Last night, she was rushed to the hospital after collapsing and endured a 13-hour surgery. Below is an excerpt from the caring bridge site:

"It ends up that Katherine had a congenital condition called Arteriovenous Malformation, which as we understand it essentially means that she had a huge tangle of veins and arteries at the base of her brain, some of which began to rupture. It was the brain’s exposure to blood from this massive rupture which has potentially caused much of the long term damage. The surgeons would not speculate as to her potential for recovery, coma or time in Intensive Care."

Katherine is from Athens, GA, graduated from Samford University, and now lives in LA with her husband Jay who is in law school at Pepperdine. She is the mother of a 7-month old baby, James. Please pray for her recovery and check the caring bridge site for updates and prayer requests. Thank you for interceding!!


In Him,

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In His Arms

I remember the first time I heard Plumb’s song “In My Arms.” I was riding in my car on the way to class, 6 months pregnant, and as I listened to the lyrics, my eyes filled with tears. The song, written about the singer’s kids, speaks of her desire to protect them from the pain, lies, unfulfilled dreams, and disappointments of life. The words of the chorus are: “knowing clouds will rage in, storms will race in, but you will be safe in my arms; rains will pour down, waves will crash around, but you will be safe in my arms.” That song became my “anthem” as I prepared to welcome my son into this wonderful but fallen world.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to this song on my iPod when it dawned on me that the lyrics of this song are sweet but misleading. I cannot protect Carter from all things, no matter how tightly I embrace him. I can’t shield him from disease, natural disasters, freak accidents, and even cruel comments from peers. When the storms race in, I may not have any control over the situation, and I have no say in whether he remains in my arms or is taken to rest in his Maker’s arms. It dawned on me that maybe my job as Carter’s mother is not to guard him from the woes and trials of life but rather to equip him to face them head on with faith in a God who loves him infinitely more than I ever can.

I imagine it’s every mother’s desire to shelter her children, but are we doing them a disservice?

Do you remember elementary school gym class when the phys ed teacher would appoint two captains and tell them to choose their teammates? Do you remember watching uncomfortably as the group of students dwindled to the last remaining boy or girl? Perhaps you were that boy or girl. I certainly was never the first one (or the second or the third) selected. I remember feeling so self-conscious, my palms sweating, thinking that my reputation and the success of my entire life rested in the hands of those two captains.

Luckily, this practice seems to have subsided in gym classes. But has our society moved too far to the other extreme? Now, every player is the MVP. At a local high school, all students with a particular GPA or higher are considered Valedictorian. Tryouts for cheerleading squads and athletic teams result in everyone making it. Today’s parents are working hard to make everything fair and equal. In the process, they are denying their kids’ the opportunity to shine in an area and gain confidence in their talents. They are also prohibiting them from learning how to rebound from disappointment and develop perseverance.

In the July 2007 issue of Parenting magazine, I read an article entitled “Overprotecting your child?” by Dr. Perri Klass. She wrote, “We owe our children love and protection. We also owe them a certain amount of wisdom as they grow. It’s not our job to protect them so completely that they grow up without knowing disappointment, pain, fear, or frustration… above all, it’s our job to help them learn the lessons-even the slightly painful ones- that will give them the skills, defenses, self-knowledge, and sense of humor to cope with a world that contains risk and is not under parental control.”

Relinquishing control and allowing Carter the freedom to learn from painful lessons will probably be my biggest challenge. I am not talking about leaving him to the wolves; I just know I cannot protect him the way I want to, or in a manner that’s always in his best interest. Instead of promising him the world and setting him up for failure, I will need to teach him that dreams may not come true, some friends will not be forever, hard work may go unrewarded, justice will not always win out, unrequited love hurts, illness or disease may strike, and some lives will be taken prematurely. But in the midst of these painful experiences, the goodness of God is steadfast and sure.

Despite the inevitable pains of this life, we have hope because of Christ’s sacrifice of atonement. His blood takes away our sin and cleanses us. And we can look forward to that day when He returns. One of my favorite verses comes from Revelation 7:13-14: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; the have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Therefore, ‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

That is the most glorious image of hope I can imagine.

With this eternal perspective in place, I hope I can release Carter into God’s arms each day. This realization has changed my prayers, and this beautiful song by Danny Oertli has become my new “anthem.” He sang this song at our church (Mountain Brook Community Church) a couple of years ago when I was pregnant with our first baby (who is now in heaven), and the lyrics stuck with me. I encourage you to download it from iTunes and allow it to change your prayers as a parent.

God, grant me the strength to pray this!

“Thought You Should Know”

It started on the day you were born
I wanted you to have everything
Now it seems my conscience is torn
Between what I desire and what I believe

What kind of man would I be
If I didn’t pray for you what my father prayed for me

So I pray with all my heart that you will be broken, and a brokenness by god
And I pray that you will fall, and falling down you’ll stand up to rise above it all
I pray that God will break you as you grow
I thought you should know

As you walk down your winding road
Faith and hope will go a long way
You’ll learn all you need to know
That life is hard yet love remains

I wish you nothing but the best
So I am asking God to put you to the test

So I pray with all my heart that you will be broken, and a brokenness by god
And I pray that you will fall, and falling down you’ll stand up to rise above it all
I pray that God will break you as you grow
I thought you should know

I pray that God would break you as you grow
And I am with you every step along that road
I thought you should know

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On April 5th, my sister Courtney (Carter's aunt Coco) tied the knot with Ivan Wright. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception. I managed to carry out my matron of honor duties without making a fool of myself, and Carter somehow stayed up the entire afternoon and evening with the exception of two 20-minute naps. He was enthralled with all the commotion and excitement.
This past Saturday, April 12th, my inlaws (Carter's Gram Me and Grandad) celebrated tying the knot 40 years ago! In this day and age where marriages barely make it to the 10-year mark, it is quite a joy to witness a couple celebrate forty years of love and commitment to each other, to marriage, to God, and to their family.

Thank you to both couples for your testimonies of love, and congratulations!

Today, we also celebrate Carter's 11th week! Here are a few highlights from the last couple of weeks:
  • At Carter's 2 month checkup, he weighed 13 lbs 11 oz and measured 24 1/2 inches, placing him in the 90th percentile for both weight and length. He had to get 4 shots at this appointment, which broke his mommy's heart, but he didn't cry for too long.
  • This picture is of Carter with his 3rd?? cousin, Cece. Cece is my cousin Ashley's 7-month-old daughter. They have matching duckie outfits so we had to get a picture!
  • The other day, while driving home from running errands, Carter began to fuss and cry. The times he cries most are when we're in the car and I can't do anything to comfort him. It's so hard to hear those cries and not pull over immediately. I decided to sing for him, and since he now loves "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," I launched into the song. Within seconds, he was silent. I could see in the mirror that he still had his bottom lip out and his eyebrows furrowed, but he didn't cry the rest of the way home. I sang about every animal I could think of to make the song last....I even included "mice...with a squeak squeak here." Hey, I'll do anything to stop my son's tears if I can help it.
  • Carter attended his 1st playgroup last Friday. The mothers are wives of some guys I went to seminary with. Carter is by far the youngest, but he seemed to enjoy watching the "big kids."
  • The day Carter got his shots, he ran a low fever that evening. I was holding him on the couch as he sucked on his pacifier and let out sad moans and cries. Again, I tried the tactic of singing. He immediately broke into an enormous, gum-revealing grin, causing his paci to drop out, and I felt like I was the best mom (and the best singer) in the world!
  • His smiles are so big and contagious. The bathtub video I posted last month is now only a tiny glimpse of the big grin he loves to flash. Here is a video of him smiling and cooing. Unfortunately, every time I get out the camera, it distracts him so I can't ever capture the best smiles on video. I did, however, capture a very humorous look at the end of the video. I have no idea what caused it!
  • This past month, we got the special treat of having my two childhood best friends from New Jersey come visit! Jen and her husband Blake were driving through Alabama on their way from Mississippi back to Pennsylvania where they are helping with the Barack Obama campaign. Then, Cara and her husband Graham were in town for a week performing with the Spamalot Broadway tour. It was such a joy to introduce them to Carter, and I loved catching up with them.
Jen, Blake and Carter
Me, Cara and Carter

We also got a visit from my sweet friend Kelley who now lives in Dallas. This picture is of my friend Susan, Kelley, Carter, and me. We miss you Kel! (Yes, I realize Carter has on his duckie outfit in practically every picture, but I want to get good use out of it before he grows more!) :)

We're still working on sleeping through the night, but that will happen soon enough. After all this celebrating, we're all bound to conk out eventually. Til then, I toast to family, friends, loving marriages, sweet memories, and catnaps!

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