I feel like life with three has been so busy that I hardly find time to sit down and record what's going on with my little family. I rarely take my camera out to take pictures of the kids, and I am getting behind in writing down what life is like for us right now. In many ways, our days are very much the same as they have always been, but the kids change so much daily that it's easy to miss all that they are doing. In all honesty, I find it hard for words to describe just how precious they are!
Nora, as I know I have said many times before, is just maturing so much. She is such a young lady, and she has such a desire to help and serve. She often looks for ways to help me, whether it's to bring me a burp cloth for Stella or to go get a toy for one of her siblings to play with. She is capable of so many things: helping to unload the dishwasher, helping to cook, getting herself dressed, etc. I don't take these things for granted! With two other ones that need me to do everything for them, I am so thankful for Nora's ability and independence, and she has grown so much in doing these things joyfully. One thing that she has done several times now just makes my heart melt. There have been a few times that I am leaving the house in the evening (for a hair appointment or a baby shower, etc.), leaving Jonathan to care for all three kiddos. Nora offers to go pick out "jammers" for all three of the kids (herself, Stella and Liam). She will go to each room, grab all that is needed for pjs, and puts them out so they are easy for Daddy to find.
Apart from her being such a fabulous big sister, Nora loves to play pretend. Her big thing these days is to pretend she's a waitress in a restaurant. She loves to take orders, bring you food and drink, take requests for desserts, etc. She plays this while at home and even when we are out to eat. She also likes to pretend she's going grocery shopping. I give her a piece of paper and she'll "make a list" of the things she going to get, then she "shops' around the house. She often comes up to me with an object and asks me how much it costs or if it is on sale. Then she checks herself out, puts things away, and does it all over again. (Liam plays along too but basically just copies her). Nora LOVES (and this cannot be overstated) to color. Oh.my.goodness. If she had her way, someone would be sitting with her at the kitchen table all day long coloring. It's so precious!
It's crazy to me to think how much Liam is changing and has changed just in the time since Stella was born. His ability to talk and communicate has just exploded. He has inherited the Bradshaw "chatty gene" and loves to talk to others, but there is also a side of him that is cautious and studious of new people and environments where he'll be shy. Liam is a HAM. If he has any inkling that something is funny, he will grab on to that thing and repeat it. He's so silly. He kinda, sorta gets the concept of knock-knock jokes and that they are supposed to be funny and make you laugh. So, he'll make them up all the time and of course most of the time they are not really funny, but he laughs with a belly laugh all the same. We've tried to teach him some legit knock-knock jokes, so he now has a few in his repertoire. My favorite one so far is:
She'll be..... coming around the mountain when she comes!
He loves that one! Liam also loves to play pretend, which is great when he and Nora play together. He brings his Woody and Buzz and Nora brings her princesses or baby dolls and they play pretend together. When Liam plays pretend, it usually involves his people going to Chick-fil-a. Or going to Geegaw's house. That's what everyone does. Every time. LEGOs have become a big deal in our house. In fact, I think we need to get a few more LEGOs because we have just enough for one kid to build something really cool, but if they have to play together there really aren't enough and they usually end up fighting for the bigger pieces, so maybe we'll get some more in the near future.
We have finally started seeing some fruit in Liam. For a while there, things were pretty tough. First of all, we had a lot of sleep issues for several months. Thankfully, those have completely resolved. I'm still not certain what all was going on with that, but he seems to have gotten over waking up multiple times in the night. He may occasionally wake very early in the morning screaming, but he usually goes back to sleep once we go in and cover him up. We have seen much growth in him, as well, in the area of discipline. I don't know what it was: being all boy, being two, being the middle child, adjusting to having a baby in the family. Maybe it was just the Lord's way of bringing me and Jonathan closer to Him, but for a while, we were having a hard time. Liam was not "getting it." He can be very stubborn and very resistant to authority, so we were having to be very consistent with discipline and correction. There were many times when I would just cry to Jonathan or to a friend that I just didn't understand why this was happening, questioning our methods of raising our son because we weren't seeing ANY changes in him. I remember one evening I was trying to cook dinner in the kitchen and wrangle all three of the children before Jonathan got home from work. While Stella was content in the bouncy seat and Nora was doing something else, Liam joined me in the kitchen. He started digging in my utensil drawer so I asked him to stop because it wasn't safe for him. So he stopped and moved directly to the dishwasher, opening and slamming the door and pushing all of the buttons. I asked him to stop doing that and to leave it alone, several times. Finally, he stopped and moved on to playing near the hot stove. Then he moved on to something else. Seriously, in about 30 seconds he intentionally tried to get into all of the things in the kitchen he was not supposed to. He was definitely testing me, but I was just so worn out after having dealt with similar patterns all day long. This seemed to be a summary of every day. Our days were long and difficult, and I allowed myself to get to the point where I wasn't enjoying him. I was so busy disciplining and constantly correcting him that I wasn't enjoying him anymore, and when I realized that, I was heart-broken. Liam is the sweetest boy. He is so cuddly and fun and sensitive; he's full of energy and life and joy. But he's also a sinner, and I was taking his rebellion and his resistance to my authority very personally.
I feel like the Lord has been slowly doing a work in my heart in this area. I can't really explain how or when or where it happened, but my heart toward my boy has and is changing. I do enjoy Liam so much. God has been faithful and kind to our attempts at training and disciplining Liam, and we are seeing much fruit these days. Granted, we have lots of disobedience still and struggles with hitting/pinching/bullying other kiddos at church. Through all of this I say that parenting has drawn me closer to the Lord. Being a momma helps me to realize that I cannot do this job in my own strength and determination. Well, I guess I could. But, I would never have joy or patience or kindness without the Lord doing those things in me. I would never be able to overcome my frustration or anger or love of comfort without His doing that work in me. I have seen so much about myself revealed! You know, when my kids disobey, what I really want is for it to stop and just go away. I like a life of ease. I want my kids to play well together, be kind to others, sleep great, eat whatever I put in front of them, and do all things without complaining and arguing. Wouldn't that be awesome!? Life would be so much easier (for me and them) if they just did what I asked them, but they don't. They don't because they are sinners, like everyone. They don't because they cannot. They are affected by the Fall just like I am and they are in desperate need of a Savior.
I'm reading a great book right now that is really helping me to grasp all of these things. It's called "Give Them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick. I'm only a few chapters in, but this book is soaked in the Gospel and constantly oozes out reminders of grace and God's love and mercy. It's perfect for this season of life we are in and will be in for many years to come.
Finally, let me talk quickly about my Stella. Oh my, do we love this baby girl! She is just the sweetest! She turned eight months last week which is just beyond my comprehension. She is getting so big and is learning all kinds of new things. As of just a few weeks ago, she is completely weaned. She is sleeping through the night consistently, taking four bottles a day, and eating lots of table foods. She still doesn't have any teeth, but that doesn't stop her one bit from eating most things. I have a feeling that crawling is on the horizon. She still rolls to get where she wants, but she loves to get on her hands and knees and rocks back and forth; it won't be long. Stella has also found her voice and loves to make loud noises to join in with her brother and sister. Her favorite sound is growling! Stella takes two two+ hour naps a day. The first one she goes down for about an hour after she wakes. I usually have to wake her for lunch, then she goes back down for nap at the same time Nora and Liam do. Praise the Lord, I have been having some quiet time to myself during the afternoon to rest, catch up on housework, read or watch Downton Abbey! She loves to spend her awake time playing with toys, blowing raspberries, and rolling around the floor. She adores her brother and sister, and they have both learned just recently how to hold her and give her a bottle! Such helpers!
Oh, I could go on and on about my trio. God is very kind to us and has blessed us with these little arrows in our quiver. They shoot straight into my heart and help me cling to the Lord more than ever. I am so thankful for them!