Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crafts and Learning

I started making a sensory box for Grace Louise some time last year and, though my montessori efforts never panned out, I found that she really loves playing with the marbles.  She'll usually spend at least 30 minutes sorting the marbles into piles, pouring them from cup to cup, and separating out the new, larger marbles that I recently added.  Yay for independent play time!

Though I keep forgetting to steal paint samples from Walmart (what?? pinterest said I could...), I made this alphabet matching activity using just plain construction paper and clothespins.  She can match most letters by herself and even notices resemblance in letters like H and I, Q and O.  Clothespins on a hanger are also great for teaching short scriptures... I've used this idea for children's church.

Joseph and Grace Louise have a coat of many colors!!!  (We hardly recycle anything around this house without making some kind of craft out it first... or at least painting it!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Father's Day

With all the name revealing excitement, I almost forgot about our other Father's Day fun!  

Grace Louise and I cooked Jimmy a big breakfast on Saturday morning and tried to let him sleep in... as long as we could stand it!  

Saturday afternoon my brothers, their SO's, and my step dad came over for hamburgers.  It was simple, truly enjoyable fellowship.  All of the food was cooked outside, except for the cupcakes (although hmmm... maybe there is a way to fry those up too!)  Grace Louise was inspired to cupcake-baking by a book we read every day last week, The Best Father's Day Ever.  In the story, the little girl spends the day with her daddy and makes a Happy Father's Day cake, complete with candles, one for each year he was her dad.  So... we made cupcakes, orange marmalade ricotta, one of Jimmy's favorite, and gave one with a candle to each of the dads at our party.  Grace Louise led us in singing Happy Father's Day to you and, of course, her daddy's cupcake had two candles, one for each year he's been her dad!  It was super sweet and she really took a lot of ownership in the cake part of the celebration!  

We ended the evening with a ride on Uncle Chris' air boat, one of her favorite things to do!

I am blessed with some good memories with my own dad, inspiration from several surrogate fathers in my life, the best Papa a girl could ask for, many good men in the family I've married into, and the never-failing love and endless faithfulness from my Heavenly Father.  A good Father's Day...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sweet Baby James H.

I think deciding to share the name of our baby boy ended up being more of a surprise than keeping the secret!!!  With Father's Day approaching, the first without both of Jimmy's grandfathers (both named James), Jimmy and I decided to share the precious name we've chosen for our son, James H. Hurst, IV.  

We (had a second sonogram to confirm the gender and then...) ordered a monogrammed Jon Jon with his initials, JHH.  We let Pops open the gift last night at our family Father's Day dinner at Texas de Brazil.   What a sweet moment, one we will all cherish forever!  

I must say, I've never been too much into name meanings-- like those you find on baby name websites. I mean, who verifies the legitimacy of those anyway?!?!  I'm more inclined to choose a family name of someone special, a name with personal significance, carrying a legacy all its own.  Just for kicks, though, I did a little research on the name James and come to find out, it doesn't even have a meaning!  The name James is the English transliteration of the Hebrew name Jacob, meaning supplanter.  

We celebrate the opportunity to continue the legacy of Jimmy's family name and the personal meaning it carries.  However, our son being named after his own father will be the greatest honor of all.  In case you didn't know, I am married to a stand-up man, who loves God and his family with his whole heart!  

Now... what you've all been waiting for... what will we call him??   I want him to have his own version of the name.  Jim, Jimmy, Jimbo... are run out.  We'll call him "James H."  or just "James" is okay too.

And we can't wait to meet this sweet baby James on the outside!    

Grace Louise learned of the surprise along with everyone else.  We just couldn't risk her accidentally spilling the beans.  
She's still a little confused... "but his name is boy!" 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


My goofy girl doing a little bird and squirrel watching with her new binoculars!  

I've been doing a letter of the week with her some weeks that we aren't zoned in on a particular learning theme.  Mostly, creating objects/animals out of the actual letter (an uppercase A that looks like an alligator, an F that's a fish, a C with eyes, ears, and a tail that looks like a cat...all ideas I've pinned on pinterest).  And then we practice tracing and writing the letter.  I bring the letter up all week in various scenarios, maybe do a few more crafts associated with the letter, and a few complete alphabet activities, like the Sesame Street Learning About Letters DVD or the alphabet fishing game I made a while back.  Even singing the ABC song frequently is simple but effective reinforcement.

I was moving right along in the alphabet and realized we skipped B! Birds, bees, butterflies... lots of B things to see out of our B-B-B binoculars!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


This Saturday event was anticipated over a week by one darlin' little softball fan! Jimmy decided to play in a tournament the weekend of my birthday, and I embraced it as a perfect opportunity to make family memories. We talked it up all week long. Grace Louise insists she's going to be a good baseball player when she grows up too!  

We woke up early on Saturday morning and drove daddy over to Lakeland for the game.  We had a BLAST!  Cheering on his team, eating snacks in our lawn chairs, and saying, "You won, daddy, you won!" every time Jimmy hit or caught the ball!  

Jimmy was so sweet with her... he let her come in the dugout and sit on his lap for a bit, played catch with her during his breaks, acknowledged all her cheerleading, and took her to the playground before it was time to go home.  ...oh, did I mention he also treated her to a REAL snow cone?!?!  

My two favorite people in this world.

a doll!

Yesterday Grace Louise was prancing around in her dress up clothes and I just couldn't resist snapping a few pics of my baby doll! That cotton blonde hair against the black leotard and coppertone skin was just too much...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Family Planning :-)

This post is really the beginning of the birth story of our second child.  Conception story, maybe?  Don't worry... I'll keep it PG.

I love this chapter of my life because it reminds me, not only of God's sovereignty, but also His kindheartedness in doing thoughtful little things for us... sweet nothings, really.  That He would relate to us on such an emotional level says that He is not a distant pawn player, but an intimately involved Father and Friend.

I spent a few months last fall contemplating our growing family.  Is having more children something I am cut out for?  like practically speaking?  can I handle taking care of a home, being a help meet to my husband, pursue personal passions and good works, AND have more than one child??

In His perfect timing, God has brought many women into my life as speakers of truth, faithful friends, and great examples of mothers of multiple children families.  With some of these women I searched the scriptures, reading what God says about children and our roles and blessings in childbearing.  With other mom friends, I've talked more about the practicality of daily living with different sized families.

Finally, I simply asked the Lord, "What do you want my family to look like?  A family with few children?  Many children?  Close together in age?  Father apart? "  While I didn't get a clear answer to these specific questions, I think finally, my heart on the matter arrived in a good place-- simply being open-minded to whatever God's plan is for my family.  Whatever that may look like.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” -James 4:13-15

I chatted a little with Jimmy about these things, but he had less thoughts (a man with less to say than his wife, imagine that).  We had always agreed that we would wait until Grace Louise was potty trained before getting pregnant again... just a little nugget of wisdom God revealed just for my sanity.  And I wanted to honor that.  We had no idea Grace Louise would be potty trained before two!  Needless to say, that factor alone did not have me convinced of good timing!

Driving home from a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting one Thursday, I heard something on the JOY FM radio station... I couldn't even tell you what it was!  Something about mothering, childbearing, the joys of children... regardless, it was perfect confirmation for me!  Yes, Lord, this is the time.  I'm ready!  I can do this!

Now the rest of this story gets just a little crazy... I pull in our neighborhood, mentally reviewing the schedule of my, uhhm, cycle, and super giddy about finding out when l would be fertile again.  When I got home Jimmy was there, which was strange because he's usually not home during the day.  I put Grace Louise down for her nap and then go to the bathroom downstairs.  I grab a Parenting magazine, (yes still on the pot) and read this short almost-article about gender determination in pregnancy.  Blah blah blah, male sperm are faster but with less endurance than female sperm.  So, fertilization that occurs closer to your ovulation date has a (maybe) higher chance of producing a boy baby.

Without providing TMI on how I come to this conclusion... seconds later, Holy Guacamole, I realized I was ovulating THAT DAY!  You may be shaking your head right now, Emily you're such a weirdo... maybe so, but that is SO something God would do!  And I was tickled blue for another proverbial nod of approval!

I could hardly get my pants up before running to Jimmy.  I'm sure I was talking 100 miles an hour, but ultimately only one thing mattered... NOW IS THE TIME :-P

We did practice self restraint for a moment to pray... literally. We asked God for a little boy!  I'm not suggesting that we get all that we ask for in prayer... God's ways are so much higher than ours, and I would rather be submissive to His plans for me rather than insistent on what I think I need... but I would hate to have not because we asked not!!!  So we asked :-)

My faith is encouraged just by writing this!  And since that day, I have not for one second questioned the timing or goodness of adding to our family.  With such clear direction, how could I not fully trust God for every single need in this!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ducks and Dying

Remember these cute little furry friends?  Another memory...

We can't seem to keep anything alive out here in the woods!  We recently lost our last two ducks. We started with four (the cute ducklings in this picture) but two were killed one night that we left them out of the pen (a clear sign that they were not yet ready to be on their own) and the other two have disappeared.  

We were letting them out everyday to play in the lake and putting them up at night, hoping to train them to come in for food and protection.  These particular ducks were not too trainable and put up quite the fight every time it was time to go back in the pen... 

I'm literally laughing out loud writing this, thinking of all the times I watched my husband chase them down, cutting them off to the left, no- to the right, DIVE! Oh my heavens, I can't stop laughing.  Good times. The ducks were fun pets and the idea was good- a family affair, taking care of the critters together, laughing (still), and sharing the hope and dream that we would have our own little flock of lake ducks in our backyard.  

Grace Louise wasn't too sad about the missing ducks.  The morning I went out and saw the pen door open (and ducks gone... and a few scattered feathers), I told her, "Well, babe, our ducks are gone.  They were either eaten by a raccoon or went to live somewhere else." I try to be a straight-shooter.

"We have to go look for them, mom!"  

We didn't go look for them and she seemed to forget about it in a matter of minutes.  

...Until a whole week later.  We were rocking/nursing at night before bed and she said so optimistically, "We're gonna take care of our ducks tomorrow, right?!"

"No, baby, our ducks are gone."

"But I don't want them to be dead."

"Well, honey, they might not be dead, they might have just found another home on the lake somewhere." (which just might be true).

At this point she's actually crying, bless her heart, and said, "But I want them to stay at our home!"

"Well, we can pray and ask God to bring our ducks back.  He might bring them back or if he doesn't, He has a better plan in mind, either for us to have different pets or for the ducks to have a better home."

"But I want God to bring them back to our home."

There were genuine tears of sadness... quite the moment for a two year old.  And a little heartbreaking for me too.  (and Jimmy... the ducks were his idea, after all).  

No more crying, but she's confident that her daddy will buy her ducks again one day, or some other pet... maybe a guinea pig?