Category: Rory Eve

a letter to Rory on her 7th birthday.

My Sweet Rory,

SEVEN.

It happened in a blink.

You ask me all the time to tell you about the night you were born and every time I tell it I get teary-eyed. If you have babies of your own you will know that there is nothing on earth more magical than having your first child and holding it for the first time.

When you were born you were immediately so observant of every detail around you, and that still continues today. It is one of my favorite things about you. Now that you are reading so well that just added a whole new sense of wonder to light your beautiful brown eyes. 

Your dad and I watch you in complete amazement 90% of the time. It doesn’t matter what you do, you conquer it. From climbing trees, to flipping on the trampoline, to riding your bike, to playing soccer, to doing the monkey bars, to swimming, to reading, to math, to drawing… you have this amazing gift of being good at everything you want to do. I’m not just saying this because I am your mother- I would say the same if I weren’t. We have watched you this year absolutely thrive. You have worked your tail off at school to get better at reading especially, but all of your grades have improved from the first of the year. Your favorite thing to do is climb trees and you have climbed trees all over Tennessee and also in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Every time we go on a trip and stop at a rest stop you find a tree to climb and declare you will climb a tree in all 50 states one day! Simple things like that remind us how amazing you are and give us a glimpse into your future.

You are a goal setter, an adventurer, a conqueror

When I watch you being fearless when you tackle every single day and with such force, I can’t help but wish that I was more like you. Your fearlessness gives you no boundaries in life and I so admire that about you. You often tell us at the most random times that you know you are going to be moving away to be a missionary when you grow up. And while my heart flutters with pride and brokenness of not seeing you every day, I do not doubt for a moment that you could do that. I can so see you fearlessly spreading the Gospel to the most desperate places. My prayer every single day as a parent is that I will never stifle this in you. I pray you will always be fearless in your life. Before I even knew your personality I claimed Joshua 1:9 as your life verse –  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This is proof to you that God will place verses and ideas in your mind before you even know the future that will one day apply so well. I couldn’t have picked a better verse for you if I tried. You ARE so strong and courageous. I’m praying with everything in me that remains true and that you always find strength in the Lord.

The biggest thing that has happened in your life this year was getting saved. In October, all on your own, you asked Jesus into your heart. It was the most amazing day. My heart as not stopped expanding with pride over this. Next week you will be baptized and you are so excited. We are so proud that you followed your heart and the tugging of Jesus speaking to you. I have no doubt you will do amazing things for Him in your life.

I think the biggest blessing to me, besides your salvation, is seeing you finally be proud of yourself this year. I know you feel so appreciated for just being yourself at your school and with your teacher this year. As your mother, I cannot tell you the joy this brings to me. We went in for a check up the other day and you told the doctor that you were so proud of yourself for making such great decisions now and having better self control. You told us how you are working so hard and are just doing a great job. The doctor and I both looked at each other with tears in our eyes- that was the best outcome we could have ever imagined. Although you know why you are on a daily medicine and that it is there to help you, you aren’t giving the credit to that- AND YOU SHOULDN’T. It is all you, Rory. You are making changes and better decisions because you want to. Yes, the medicine helps, but sister- YOU SHOULD BE PROUD. You have matured and grown so much this year. You recognizing your hard work is wonderful- I hope you never sell yourself short and let anyone or anything take the credit for your hard work.

You are still equal parts girly and equal parts tomboy. You will go outside dressed in a tutu dress with tennis shoes and climb the tallest tree or make the biggest mud-pie. I absolutely adore this about you. You’ve decided to play flag football and when I told you that you may be the only girl you said, “AND?! I am just as fast as any boy out there.” AMEN, SISTER. Yes you are! I can’t help but giggle knowing that you are ready to get down and dirty and show those boys how it is done! And who knows… you may even throw a tutu on while you do it!

The older you get, the more beautiful you get, Rory. You have the most perfect eyes that squint in the cutest way when you laugh. And, oh, that laugh. Your laugh is your dad and I’s favorite sound. Your eyebrows let everyone know exactly what you are thinking and you better not ever touch those perfect brows or I will ground you! ha! Your toothless grin gives me all the giggles and I love it when you smile so big showing it off. Basically, what I am saying here is that you are the most beautiful seven year old in all the world… I can say that with conviction because I’m your mama.

You are so thoughtful and kind. You are a friend to every one, no matter what they look like or how they act. I love this about you.

Every year with you is my favorite year. Six was so good to us and I know seven will be even better. It is so fun to have actual conversations with you. You ask such tough questions that sometimes I have to tell you I need to do some research and get back with you on that! Ha! I so admire your desire for knowledge and wish I was more like you- you definitely get that from your dad. In fact, you get most things from your dad. But all my favorite things about myself I see in you 20 times better and it makes me so proud. 

Rory Eve, you are the light of my life. You challenge me, you give me such joy, and I love you more than words could ever say.

Love,

Mama

 

At Seven You:

-Weigh 41 lbs, 46.25 in tall

-Wear size 12 shoe, size 5/6 clothes

-Love all vegetables but asparagus are your very favorite. Your favorite meal is spaghetti. You aren’t a picky eater- you will try anything- but you eat like a bird! We have to sneak calories in all the time!

-Your favorite shows are Good Luck Charlie and Ninja Turtles. You could seriously binge on TV if I let you!

-You LOVE to sing and you and I take songs all the time and sing together. You naturally harmonize and I’m definitely signing you up for voice lessons soon!

-You also LOVE to dance and are really good at it! Dance parties after school are a must around here.

 

Rory’s heart.

It’s an unusually warm fall which, at times, I am tired of the heat but nights like tonight I’m thankful for it. We ate dinner outside Saturday on the back deck, still in our pajamas from the day of alternating between cleaning and laziness. Andy grilled fish and I made quinoa and corn and black beans- basically the leftover/end of the grocery cycle crap I found in the pantry. Despite that, the food was delicious and our bellies are full.img_8504

Rory is climbing her tree that she calls her buddy. It’s a sycamore tree and has changed into beautiful orange and yellows.
She climbs high, too high for most parents to allow, but I know my Rory. She lives for this thrill and is an expert climber and strong as an ox. I remember the trees I claimed as my trees in my childhood and it makes me so delighted she has that same love of climbing and exploring outside as I did.
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I could sit here forever watching her in this late evening sun. Her beautiful face peeking out proud amongst the branches with a gleeful, “look mom! Look how high I am now!” My heart swells with pride at the thought of it.
The past few months have been a blur of school and Rory has had to overcome and adjust to so much this year. She has made great progress, but even still she is struggling to make it through the day every.single.day. Last week we had an appointment to start her on medication for ADHD- and please do not even think of debating me about this. Medicines aren’t what they used to be and this isn’t a decision we came to lightly. We know the best for our child.
As a precaution from Ryder’s congenital heart defect, they ordered an EKG before starting medication for Rory. I never heard back from them and because of the way the EKG tech said, “you have a perfect heart” to Rory with a wink to me, I assumed everything was fine.
At the appointment to discuss medication, the doctor looked at her EKG report just to be sure as we were about to leave. She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “wait, so… the EKG came back abnormal, did you not know this?”
My own heart stopped beating, I am not even kidding. I let out the smallest gasp out of shock.
Somehow between the EKG and our follow up we weren’t contacted- fell between the cracks which so often happens in healthcare.
The doctor explained that it indicated a right bundle branch block on the EKG.
I started to cry softly, but that was enough to scare Rory. I felt, feel, so terribly guilty for letting her see that fear. That same night she would have nightmares and tell me she had a dream someone sawed her chest open. That is the problem with having a sister who has had open heart surgery- you just know too much.
We called and told a very small amount of family and I texted my closest friends. Everyone told me they would pray for her heart and that even if something was wrong they were praying God would heal her completely before our appointment.
That night after everyone was asleep, I went into our living room and laid on my face and cried out to God to please not let this be true. And if it were a heart defect, to please let it be something we can manage with medicine and is “no big deal”. I prayed for Rory’s heart just as hard and earnestly as I prayed for Ryder’s for all those months and years.
Meanwhile, God was working on Rory’s heart in ways more beautiful than I could have ever expected.
Several times over the last few months, Rory has come to us asking very hard questions about Jesus and sin. I’ve had open and honest conversations with her and was so thankful that she felt comfortable coming to me.
Last night she came downstairs and told Andy and I that she had gone into her closet and prayed for Jesus to come into her heart. On her own, without any prompting, she made that decision. We talked about what it meant to be sure she knew and we all prayed together. When we got to AWANA she told everyone that would listen that she accepted Jesus into her heart.
After church, we sat down again and talked and prayed. She was BEAMING. From ear to ear, so very proud and happier than I’ve ever seen her. She couldn’t wait to call her grandparents. Ryder cheered her one and was so excited for her sister. img_8554 img_8558
As you can imagine, I cried and cried all night long.
You see, I had been begging for a miracle and I had our families and friends praying for her heart- who could have known the ultimate heart healing would happen instead.
Yesterday, October 30, 2016, was the very best day of my life. I know the day I accepted Jesus is also the best day, but there is something so much more beautiful when your child comes to that decision in her life. Knowing her eternity will be spent in heaven is the best gift of peace I’ve ever been given.
No matter what comes of her cardiologist appointment tomorrow, I know her heart is healed. God has already performed a miracle for her and has saved her precious heart.img_8565
God is so good to us. ALL the time.
I’m still praying for an outcome that determines the abnormal EKG was a fluke and there is absolutely nothing wrong with her heart (and would appreciate your prayers too), but even if it were the worse case scenario- my God is good and merciful and has given Rory’s heart the best miracle of all.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:2-5
“… for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” – Romans 3:23
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

fearfully and wonderfully made

It was 5 years ago when we were learning the significance of Ryder’s heart problems and that surgery would be the only solution. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once.

I thought getting through that would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but turns out, parenting is full of “hardest things I’ve ever done”.

As you all know, we have struggled for years trying to find solutions for Rory’s significant sleep issues. We finally have a good routine and she is sleeping decently.

Now that REAL school of first grade has started we have realized there are much more significant things going on with Rory.

A few weeks ago, Rory and I went to Chattanooga and spent the day together. She had an appointment with a developmental pediatrician to do some testing for some of our areas of concern.img_4162IMG_4174

That day Rory was formally diagnosed with ADHD and also Sensory Integration Disorder. Both things were not shocking to me- and even a relief, to be honest.

For years I thought it was me. My poor parenting. My poor judgement. My focus on Ryder’s health problems for so long that made Rory spin out of control. I truly believed my mothering was the route of all “evil” going on.

So when they finally diagnosed her I cried with relief. It wasn’t just me. This was bigger than me and out of my control. Of course I am sad that Rory has something that makes her “tick” differently, but I’m also relieved because that means we can get help and work on it in a different way.

School has been hard for Rory this year, and my heart breaks for her. I literally have a physical pain anytime I know she’s having a tough go of it.

Everything in this new world we have entered takes so much time. It took 8 months to get the appointment. It takes two months to get the Occupational Therapy evaluation done. It takes two months to have our next appointment to start medicine if we decide to go that route. It takes several months after that to tweak the medicine until it is the perfect dosage.

There is so much waiting.

Meanwhile, Rory is still struggling.

And my heart is breaking more and more every day for her. I feel like there is nothing I can do to help her.

I lose my patience too quickly. I am sometimes too lenient. I am sometimes too harsh. The balance hasn’t been found yet and I’m struggling with that big time.

Basically, we are a mess right now. Rory is fighting a battle and she doesn’t even know she’s fighting it. I’m having such severe inner struggles it is hard to find my breath sometimes. I wish I could sit with her at school and love on her and show her the right way all day. Sometimes I want to just pull her and homeschool her but I know that is not my calling and won’t get her the help she needs. I also have incredible guilt because right now my focus is so much on Rory that Ryder has been acting out and doing things SO out of character for her and I know its because she needs attention.

Today I was sitting with a new friend of mine and a lady we are trying to build a relationship with and I noticed a verse on the lady’s wall.

image_zpsd6b90b78 My friend noticed it too and mentioned it. She started talking about how she prays that over her daughter and it was all I could do to not just sob right there.

God made both my girls with INTENTION. He knew exactly what he was doing. They are made with love. There is nothing “wrong” with either of them. They are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I’m so overwhelmed with thankfulness that the God who created the universe created my girls and entrusted them into my hands. I feel so undeserving and feel like I am failing them every single day (and I am). God’s grace will continue to shine on us and I will grasp at it with every fiber of my being.

We are praying for answers and for the help Rory needs. She is such a delight and I’m so thankful she is mine.

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Goodbye, Kindergarten!

I am pretty sure it was five minutes ago when I was writing a letter to Rory on her first day of Kindergarten…. and here we are going into 1st grade.

I thought I would just post a few pictures of her Kindergarten graduation. The end of the school year was strange for a lot of reasons- mostly because Rory got sick and wasn’t able to do field day or anything like that. So it kind of just ended in a majorly anti-climactic way. But! She sure was so stinking cute at her graduation!

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The Friday after graduation Rory came home and told me she was tired and wanted a nap.

MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY

So Saturday morning she woke up with a high fever and I took her to the doctor where they diagnosed her with the strep and the flu. Then on Sunday she woke up with a deep barky cough and we realized she had croup on top of it. This was by far the sickest little Rory has ever been. She literally did not move out of my bed for 4 days. It was pitiful. We did a lot of steam showers and oils were EVERYWHERE trying to get her better.IMG_9726 IMG_9809

Then right as Rory was feeling better Ryder started a fever and wouldn’t you know she got the strep throat too. So we started summer with a BANG, right?!

To add insult to injury, Andy started his outage (shitdown as I affectionately call it) during all of this and well, I ALMOST HAD A MENTAL BREAKDOWN at one point. Here are some of the memes I saved to my phone during that time-

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And also, I got so bored I took to taking pictures of myself and sending them to my friends so they would feel sorry for me-IMG_9801 IMG_9799

You can tell that it was a fragile time for me. Rory even told me in the nicest way possible that it was time for me to take a shower. Bless it. Girlfriend went and staged an intervention when I needed it the most.

Thankfully we all were perked up and were ready to roll by Friday for our first annual girls summer roadtrip. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow. #staytuned #isthatnotsoannoying

 

the cringe.

We might as well start out today with the biggest news in the Harris house this year- RORY LOST HER FIRST TOOTH!IMG_6328

She’s had a wiggly tooth for over a month and this week she went to the dentist and they loosened it up even more. So today as I was doing Rory’s hair for school she was wiggling it with her tongue and I knew it was time. I said, “Sister, you gotta get that thing out this morning.” Selfishly, I wanted her to do it before school because I didn’t want it to fall out at school and me miss the excitement! And I’m so glad I did because her reaction was so fun.

As a side note: Many of you know that weird and strange things make me gag and cringe. Bananas are my kryptonite and I about fall out when I see one. Once Andy had a pack of Juicy Fruit on the nightstand and I almost vomited. I seriously all out gagged until I couldn’t see it anymore. GoGurt gives me the full body gags too.

Another thing? Wiggly teeth. It is so weird because teeth in general do nothing to me. I can watch someone bleed out without a single cringe. But every time Rory started bending and twisting that tooth I could not handle myself. So Rory started calling it “THE CRINGE” and would tell everyone, “I have a wiggly tooth but I can’t show you because it gives my mom The Cringe.” She knows me well.

BACK ON TRACK. I got the whole thing on video! It is a super short video but seriously the cutest ever. And I promise there is no blood and gore. (Also, I was telling her to hurry because it was time for them to leave for school, ha!)

When she grinned at me for the first time with that new toothless grin I teared up. I just couldn’t help it. She is just so big. I was thinking about how I couldn’t wait to post this new “first” and how it seems like yesterday I was posting her first monthly update at One month old. Time is flying. I find myself teetering between absolutely loving this stage and sad they are growing up. I saw this little picture meme thing on facebook today and thought, “YES.”IMG_6331

Life has been fun for Rory lately. She started softball and got to go to the skating rink for the first time in one day!

IMG_6281 IMG_5928Watching kids skate for the first time is like watching a baby giraffe try to stand up for the first time. It was hysterical.

And y’all know I’m living out my glory days through Rory in her first ever softball season. She is such a natural athlete, it is so fun to watch.

As for Ryder, she has decided (or her daddy has!) to play golf and do karate. She will be starting karate soon and her and her daddy have been going to the golf course down the street to practice. IMG_5926You can tell she is super proud of her new golf clubs. That Andy spent $80 on. I can’t even.

I asked Ryder at Rory’s softball practice if she wanted to play tball and she said, “Oh no, I’m much better sitting and cheering.” Then she turned to me and said, “You know I’ve been thinkin’ all night about this. I’m glad I have a lot of moneys saved up because now I can bring them to Rory’s games and buy a lot of hot dogs!” BLESS. Girl knows what she wants.

You’ll be delighted to know that the sleep trend has continued to go well. It has been a month since we put their beds in the same room and only two nights has a kid woken up. DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND THIS?! People. I feel like a new woman.

Rory has been sleeping with her sleeping mask every night. Maybe this is the key to sleep? All these years and all I needed was to put a mask on her?!

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And we all know that Ryder loves food and sleep more than anyone in the world. She actually told me yesterday, “Mama, I love Jesus, food, and sleep. I love Jesus the most but I can’t decide between food and sleep!” She is the most southern 4 year old on planet earth. I don’t know about you, but I sure wish I slept as awesome as Ryder does.IMG_6301

I can’t believe we are getting sleep, loosing teeth, and starting “real” sports. Life is good, y’all.

the new {shared} big girl room

As soon as the girls left for school this morning I started working on their new room to get it finished up today! It has been two and a half weeks since the shared room process started and I was more than ready to finally get it together!

This is what it looked like when they left (and what it looked like two nights ago when we put the beds together!)- the rest of the room was a disaster of CRAP EVERYWHERE: 
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Can you tell they were excited about their new beds?!

And here is their finished shared big girl bedroom!

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I got their reaction on video too! After I turned it off Rory hugged me and told me she just loved it so much! There is absolutely NOTHING better than making my home pretty for my girls. I can’t wait for all the fun they will have in their new room!

Bedding: Target

Monkey’s Sign: Hobby Lobby

Unicorn Head: Target

Beds: Walmart

 

a letter to Rory on her 6th birthday.

Dear Rory,

Just writing the introduction came with painful, but happy, prickling tears to my eyes. I cannot believe another year has gone by and that you are now 6. I don’t know why 6 seems so much bigger but it just does. You now have to use two hands to show your age instead of just one chubby toddler hand. It is just so overwhelming to your mom to know that you are already 1/3rd of the way done being in my home if you leave for college at 18. The thought is just too much to bear!Rory6Bday4

I honestly don’t even know where to begin this year with your letter because I just have so many things to say, but all seem so inadequate to describe how my love has grown even more for you this year, just like every year and every day that I have had with you.

One of my very favorite things about you is how confident you are. You have such a sense of style and confidence that is far beyond your years. This is what I pray the most never leaves you. I want you to always strut like you are on a runway no matter where you are like you do now. I am always fascinated by your confidence, because it something I have never had as much of and I am eternally grateful that is one of the things you didn’t get from me. Having a confidence like yours is such a beautiful thing and I will continue to pray that you never lose that.Rory6Bday1

You are still so insanely obsessed with fashion and dresses and tutus and I absolutely love that it hasn’t left you yet. In fact, our biggest and fiercest means of punishment for you at this age is to make you wear jeans to school. It is sheer torture for you. Your dad and I have laughed and laughed over this because it is just so typical “Rory” to have a punishment as easy as just making you wear jeans to get you to straighten up and try harder. All these years we have tried so many things and all we had to do is whip out some denim. WHO KNEW?!

You used to have a very shabby/homeless chic to your dress but the older you get the more it all just comes together into a perfectly mismatched ensemble. You still tell me that you want to be a “fashion engineer” when you grow up and I think that title suites you perfectly. Your daddy and I watch you all the time and say we can see you living in NYC one day having your clothing line on all the runways and in all the stores.

The thing you got from your dad the very most, as I’ve said a thousand times before, is your amazingly sharp mind. I watch you in wonder all the time at how your brain works and how I can physically see you thinking each and every step out. You can tell me how anything works within minutes of studying it and you absolutely love to take things apart and put them back together. The other day you actually said to me, “Mom, my new favorite word is equalization.” I mean, how do you even know what that word is? The scariest part is you went on to explain what it meant. Clearly it was already over my head. Your mama writes the words and makes things pretty- you were born to change the world with your ability to figure things out so quickly. It is truly astounding to someone with a totally different brain.

You are obviously still hilarious and make us laugh every single day, but you aren’t the typical type of funny girl. Your sense of humor can sometimes be dry and unexpected. You come up with little quips that make us howl with laughter but you’ll just walk off like no big deal. Seeing this side of you develop has been so fun to me. You aren’t the class clown, like your little sister so clearly is, but you are still genuinely hysterical all the time. I think that also has a lot to do with your confidence- you are quietly confident in your ability to make others laugh. Another thing you got from your daddy.Rory6Bday3

There is nothing you do better than being a sister to Ryder. You are so encouraging to her when she needs it the most and your confidence makes her more confident. I can tell you that seeing you love on her and protect her and make her feel like she is the best thing in the world is probably the best thing a mom could ever witness. Sure, y’all fight and bicker too, but 99% of the time it just like having a life long slumber party with your best friend. Let me tell you something Rory, your sister loves you more than you could ever imagine. Ryder loves you so fiercely sometimes it is hard for her to be without you. I can’t wait to see you back at the same school together next year because I know that will help Ryder be so much more confident knowing you are just down the hall.

Lately I have noticed a very sensitive side come out of you. You are profoundly affected by words and I have had to do a lot of holding back and showing grace towards you this year because of it. This is a lesson I am so thankful you have taught me. When you hear a word of encouragement your face physically lights up and you become a kid who cannot be stopped. I pray that I never quench that, but when I do that I am quick to apologize for using a sharp tongue. I want you to know that it is okay to be sensitive, goodness knows your mama is, but to make sure that you don’t let the wrong people steal your joy. It is such a hard line to have to teeter on and I’ve fallen off so many times. I will always do my very best to be the person you know you can run to when you need encouragement. And I sure know that you are my person because you are such a wonderful encourager to me.

This year you have learned so much in Kindergarten and you are thriving, baby. It is absolutely incredible to see you reading with confidence and writing. Watching you learn these things has been one of my favorite things I have ever done as a parent. Seeing your nose in a book, reading to yourself at night in bed has been amazing.

Speaking of bed…. you aren’t hating sleep these days. That is all I will say. Probably already said too much and jinxed it.

You are so astonishingly beautiful to me, Rory. From your perfect brown eyes that have taken in the entire world since the first moment you took a breath, to your sweet button nose and your perfect lips…. I just cannot ever get over how beautiful you are. How absolutely perfect you are. You got the very best features from me and your father and it made the most gorgeous little girl in all the world. Watching your eyes light up with wonder or laughter is sometimes too much for me to even see without crying from joy. I think my favorite thing about you, though, is your right eyebrow. There is so much expression in that one brow and it gives me the giggles every day because you sure do know how to work it. Rory6Bday2

The best part about this year is seeing your knowledge for Christ grow. Your dad and I have had long, deep talks with you about salvation and heaven and even hell. We can see your brain working and trying to take it all in. I love that you think about it in such a calculated way and take it very seriously. You ask HARD questions and sometimes I have a hard time answering things because I don’t want it to be too much too soon and scare you in either direction. God is moving in your heart right before our eyes and it is by far the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.

You are a lover of things that are beautiful, you are sensitive and are moved to tears by things like cards or sunsets or kind words. You are a thinker and a problem solver.

You are absolutely just the best 6 year old in the entire world.Rory6Bday5

There is no one on this earth that loves you more than your Momma, Rory. I promise to always fight for you, always pray for you and with you about anything, always try to have the right answers or guide you toward them, and to always let you know when I am wrong and ask for forgiveness. I cannot promise to be the perfect mother, but I will promise to encourage you and to love you for the rest of time.

Love you to Heaven and back my sweet Rory,

Momma

6thbirthdays

 

Rory’s Fashion Show Birthday Party

Rory and I brainstormed what kind of party she wanted to have for a few weeks and we finally decided that a Fashion Show Party would be the best party EVER for her. She told me it was the best and I certainly hope it was and that she and her friends had a fantastic time!

Unfortunately I forgot to designate someone to take pictures and so all of my pictures are subpar phone pictures. BUT they will have to do!

Originally I had planned to have all these games and yada yada then I decided to scratch that and just let them eat, have makeovers, walk the runway/dance, and play. It certainly seemed like they had a wonderful time even without every second planned out! I couldn’t believe how relaxed I was, but I think it was just so beautiful to see my girl with her friends having a blast. The cherry on my own personal sundae was that Andy and I had great friends there too that loved on her so much.

Most of the decorations I made myself and they were minimalist but cute!

I made my own invitations this year and did it VERY last minute so I think they looked pretty good considering! (hearts weren’t there, not putting all my info out for the internets!)rorys6inviteBlog

I found this chalkboard in the dollar aisle at Target and I have used it so much! It was perfect to welcome our friends to the party!IMG_4583I also made this tassle garland from tissue paper – found directions here! It was so easy and I think I’ll keep it up through Valentine’s and maybe longer!
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This “Happy Birthday” banner I found at Michael’s without any writing on it! It was $2.50 and I just lettered it with some micron hand lettering pens I already had!IMG_4581Laid out on the table were all the accessories- crowns (similar, mine were cheaper but not online), lipglosses (similar), boas, rings, and necklaces! I linked all of them so you can find them- they were all super cheap and the perfect thing for the “goody bag” to send home!
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Cupcake Station! I got our cupcakes from Walmart and they were so cute! Little dresses! The paper balls came from Target. IMG_4651 IMG_4594

Two days before the party I was cleaning up Ryder’s Barbies with her and getting them dressed when I thought- HOW CUTE would these dresses be hanging up like a garland?! So I got some pink string and hung some dresses to *try* to hide all the unsightly electronics in our family room.  IMG_4587 We hung some “foil curtains” I got from Amazon and by the time the party started 90% had been torn off. These weren’t well made (SUPER THIN- this pictures shows two layered on top of each other…) and I should have just made this myself out of something. Oh well, I’ll remember from next time! It was cute for a minute though!IMG_4585 Of course we had to have a runway! This was Rory’s favorite part and it is now in her room perfectly laid in front of her mirror and I can assure you EVERY SINGLE DAY is a fashion show up in there. IMG_4588All the Princess dresses waiting to be worn…
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Because it was a night party we ate first because most kids cannot hang without food past 6 o’clock, am I right?! We had $5 pizzas and chips and a fruit tray. Simple. Exactly how I wanted it. Ha!

After dinner the girls had a little makeover! I got so tickled because almost all of them wanted the brightest blue in the ginormous eyeshadow pallet. I got the ELF pallet from TJ Maxx for $3!  (And this is the only picture I have of the makeovers….)12705288_10208985786228809_1100873214966573893_n

So my original plan was to play songs over our surround sound and let them walk the runway several times. WELL. They walked the runway so fast I didn’t even get a picture and then they just had a big ol’ “Shake It Off” dance party! Also, my phone wouldn’t connect with the system and all of that was a disaster. They still had a blast dancing! Andy set his phone up to record them on the tv so they got to watch themselves dance and walk the runway. It was a total hit! #nerddadsforthewin

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Then it was time for cupcakes!

HOW CAN SHE BE BLOWING OUT A #6 CANDLE?!

IMG_4742The most precious, stinkerish princesses in all the land 😉IMG_4732

Rory opened her present and she was so cute. She took such great time and effort into looking at all the cards and every detail of the gift. She told me later that she was sorry she didn’t seem more excited at times but she was holding back tears because she was so happy that people came and would buy her gifts.

AND THEN I CRIED LIKE A BABY BECAUSE OH MY GOODNESS SHE IS PRECIOUS.

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In case you were wondering, Rory is wearing a “wedding dress” that her aunt Ashley wore in a wedding as a flower girl when she was little. Rory literally wears this dress every second of every day that she can. Not even kidding, that dress being given to her is the highlight of her life so far. hehe! Thank you Gigi and Ashley!

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Oh, Rory, I cannot believe you will be six years old tomorrow! I’m so thankful for you and your fun self! I hope this Fashion Party was a night you will always remember!

the fight just isn’t cookie cutter

Do you ever wonder how we became so cookie cutter?

Lately in my struggle to fight for Rory, I have found myself desperately wanting to put her in a box of “this is how it is going to go”. Me, the person who prays so hard to never have her put into a box…. I’m the very one trying to do it.

Rory has been counting down to the day she went to Kindergarten for what seems like years now. She was so ready and so eager to get there that it drove us nuts all summer, ha!

Then a funny thing happened. Kindergarten started and the first week was amazing. And thennnnnnnnn, well we all know how fast that went downhill.

As we have already discussed, Rory is the definition of strong willed. In fact, when you google “strong willed”, I am certain that her face will pop up.

Rory struggled so hard for a few weeks. She had so little self control and so much strong will. That is not a good combo. It leads to things like, oh I don’t know, gluing your neighbor’s hand to the desk. Or cutting their paper. Or getting into a fist fight on the playground. Just hypotheticals, of course….

Life for those weeks was not fun. She would have a terrible day at school and since I am her mother, I disciplined her when she got home. We were both frustrated and agitated and feeling like failures.

It all came to a head one day, as things spiraling out of control seem to do, and I just broke down. I was so weary and burdened by parenting my precious girl. I didn’t know what to do. I cried so many tears I didn’t think I had anymore in me.

Because I can tend to be strong willed and stubborn too, it took me a long time to figure out what was happening. When I realized what I was doing it knocked the breath out of me. I was trying so hard to put her in the box.

I was desperate to fix all the problems by making her be that kid that sits in her chair and does all her work and never says a word.

I mean, can you imagine a world where Rory Harris didn’t have her spunky personality? The thought alone causes a giant lump in my throat.

Do you know what would be more devastating than some hard days with bad colors on a chart?

A world without Rory exactly how God made her- strong willed, hilarious, unique, fabulous, and absolutely stunning inside and out.IMG_5446

I’m so ashamed of myself- what an epic parenting fail. I spent weeks torturing Rory and myself while I was trying to enforce the worlds’ view of “normal kid behavior” on her.

So here is what happened that has changed everything:

1- I apologized. I got on my knees in front of Rory and told her that I was so sorry for not trying harder to understand what was going on at school. I apologized for not showing her enough love and for being too harsh. I asked her to forgive me. And then we prayed together and asked God to forgive us both.

2- I talked to Rory’s teacher as a mom desperate to help my kid. Not in the defensive way most parents go at teachers. I just flat out said, “I know my kid is a great kid and I expect more out of her.” Because I do not want to put Rory in a box, but if I don’t discipline her and let her know that I love her too much to let her act the way she was acting I will be putting her in another kind of box- the box that labels her forever as a problem child whose mother won’t step in for her. I am so incredibly thankful because Rory’s teacher has not once told me she was a bad kid. She has encouraged me and Rory. She, like me, expects more out of Rory because we know she is a good kid. She is committed to letting Rory’s personality shine but also directing her to make the right choices. Again, I am so incredibly thankful for her teacher. God answered my desperate pleas to place Rory with a teacher who would love her and encourage her.

3- For the most part, I let the discipline at school be enough. If she had an especially bad day she would write a letter to apologize to her teacher and lose TV. But that is as far as I would go. I realized that Rory’s spirit was being crushed by me because I was berating her about her behavior when she got home. I trust her teacher and respect her so much after speaking with her so I trust her discipline to be enough to help Rory realize bad behavior is not okay. Now. The next thing I’m going to tell you isn’t for everyone- but I know my child and know that this was completely needed- I told them to paddle her. Rory, her teacher, and I talked and we explained to her that they had permission to paddle her if she needed it. Rory’s eyes grew so wide I thought they were going to pop out of her head. The knowledge they have my permission alone has made Rory turn a complete 180 at school. They have never come close to needing to paddle her, but they have my permission to do so and Rory knows it. *Again, I know this is not the path everyone agrees with and I whole heartedly believe this is a child by child decision.*

4- Prayer. I cannot stress to you enough that this is the most important and crucial part of the equation. My biggest failure in all of this is that I didn’t have the wisdom to start this on day 1. Sure, we said short “bless this day” prayers before school. Sure, I prayed over her and her school the first day where she could hear it. But that wasn’t good enough. So now, each and every morning Rory sits in my lap in the living room and we pray. I snuggle her up and kiss her face until she rolls her eyes and then I put my hand over her heart and start to pray. First I pray something like this- “God bless this day. Help Rory to have a wonderful day today. Lord, we know that Rory is such a great kid. We are so thankful that you created Rory and gave her to us. She is so precious to us. God, we are so thankful that you have given us another day. We pray that we will use it well and show others love and kindness. Lord, control our hands and our mouths today. We are so thankful that the Bible promises that you will help us and we are praying that you will help us today to make great choices. Please bless our teachers today and help them to have a great day. We love you and praise you for giving us another day. Amen.” Then Rory says her prayer. It varies every day but she always, always asks God to help her have a good day and to help her make good choices. Since we have been starting the day off like this, we are all so incredibly blessed by it throughout the day. Our hearts are lighter because the burden of carrying the behavior is off our shoulders. We start the day fresh and confident that we aren’t alone in our struggles. Again, I cannot stress to you enough how this is the most vital change I have made to help Rory and her confidence. She has to know that we all struggle and all fall short but God is always here to love us and help us. If I do nothing else, I have to at least teach her that.

The thing I’ve been asking myself the most over the last few weeks is this – when did the fight for our kids and our families become so cookie cutter?

I want more than anything for Rory to be strong, independent, and confident in herself because of the way God made her. But how could I ever expect those things to be instilled in her if I’m trying to make her into a cookie cutter child? She needs to know that we mess up and we ask forgiveness and we move on. She knows that consequences for poor behavior are going to be hard and that we expect more from her.

She has to know that we love her too much to let her keep sinning and keep making bad choices. If we don’t teach her this now, when will we? This is the most crucial time in parenting. We have to show her how much we love her and how unconditional that love is. We have to show her that it is okay to mess up but that we are not going to stop her from having consequences. We have to teach her how to apologize and how to forgive by always being willing to do so ourselves.

I’ve said this a million times, but I will never, ever stop fighting for Rory. I will never stop fighting for Ryder. I will never stop fighting for my marriage and for Andy. I will fight until I die for their hearts and I pray that I’m never cookie cutter about it again.

Let us start fighting for our children’s hearts instead of fighting for their behavior. The heart is so much more important and the heart will lead the behavior in the right way.

the squirrel went to church….

So yesterday I got Ryder from school and she tells me this elaborate story about how a squirrel jumped on her back.

Considering the fact that the day before she told me that Miss Janice wasn’t there at school and they just did school alone and Ryder taught the class all day, I felt this was for sure a lie.

I mean. A squirrel jumped on your back? Yeah right.

Well about 30 minutes later I get a text from her teacher and she said, “crazy squirrel really did jump on Ryder’s back”. I literally could not stop laughing. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?!

I’ve had a pretty sad week. Sometimes thinking so much about Ryder’s start to life is still so hard for me. And then it was grandparents day and that is always such a sad day for me because I miss mine so much. I hate that Rory and Ryder never met my Grandmother and Grandaddy because I know they would have eaten them up. I can see my Granddaddy throwing his head back in laughter at them if he were here.

So the squirrel came at just the right time because one of my favorite memories is watching the Ray Stevens VHS with my Granddaddy every single time (multiple times) I went to their house.

If watching that video doesn’t perk you up, I don’t know what will. It certainly helped perk me up.

You should know I’m watching this laughing out loud. It never gets old. I will be showing this to my girls as soon as they get home today.

In other news, I want to give a small update and let y’all know that Rory and school are meshing much better these days. I’ll write a post on this later, but I’ve had a lot of questions about it so wanted to let you know its getting better!

This past weekend was the girls’ first soccer game! They were so sweet cheering each other on. I love how encouraging they are to each other- it is one of my favorite things.

Both girls played so good- Rory is a little powerhouse when she wants to be and Ryder is hilarious to watch.

You see, bless it, she is quite clumsy. She tripped so many times I couldn’t keep count. She also has her head in the clouds and we would have to yell at her to remember she was playing soccer, ha! When she is paying attention she really is quite good. Andy and I were shocked the first practice. She gets overwhelmed in the games because there are so many going after the same ball, but she gets in there and tries hard.

Their team is a bunch of rascals, to be honest. I feel bad for the coach who is a friend of ours because he has his hands full this year. Hopefully they will get it together and each week will be better.

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Nope. The ball is to your right, sweetpea.
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That booty pop tho.
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Get it, girl!
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Prayer time before the game. So very precious. Look how tiny Ryder is.

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I’m so impressed with Upward (this is our first experience with it) and the way 1st baptist puts it on.

Oh, and also, Ryder’s legs did indeed work the entire time. However, every time she came off the field for a break she would get all excited and say, “IS IT OVER?! IS IT TIME FOR SNACK?!!!!!” And each time we said no she would say, “awwwww man.” hahaha! Bless it.

But seriously- who would have ever thought 4 years ago that the struggling baby would be able to run and play soccer? Oh I am so thankful.

This morning Rory and I were praying before school. It was her turn to pray and she said the sweetest prayer:

“Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for everything you’ve given us. Watch over us. God thank you for Ryder’s heart and for giving me such a great sister. Help us both to have good days today.

*long pause*

And Lord, Help these awful toots go away because I sure don’t want to be pooting all day at school.”

After the prayer she says to me, “You know Mom, we can ask Jesus for anything. Nothing is too little or too big so I’m sure he can take the toots away.”

HA HA HA. Amen, sister!

Happy Thursday!

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