Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meet Averi Kate

We are thrilled to share the name we have chosen for our second little girl...Averi Kate!

This name is meaningful in a couple of ways. Claire Alyse was named largely after my side of the family - Claire was my middle name, and came from my grandmother on my mom's side. Alyse came from my sister's middle name, Alesa, and that name was formed when Jeni was born to reflect both my dad and brother's middle name ("Al" from Alan) and my mom's name ("esa" from Teresa). So there's a lot of Pickard heritage in Claire's name! Well, this time we were thrilled to go to Spencer's side of the family for our inspiration! Spencer's mom (affectionately known to us now as "Dobby") is named Kay, and her maiden name was Avera. So we went from Kay Avera to Averi Kate! We are so excited that Averi Kate will have such a sweet heritage from such a sweet, precious lady. Mrs. Kay is a wonderful example for our little girls to have in their lives. She is a fun-spirited, compassionate, and loving woman. We love her and are proud to name our second daughter after her!

The second reason we love the name that we have chosen is for the meaning itself. We want our kids to have names that reflect qualities that we pray over them. For example, "Claire Alyse" means "clear, bright, beautiful, and noble." Those are things that we pray for Claire - to have a clear understanding of the truth, to have the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that 1 Peter talks about, to have a noble character to choose right over wrong. Now we can pray Averi Kate's name over our second little girl. Averi means "wise". What better prayer can a parent have for their child than for wisdom? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and we pray that our sweet little girl will come to understand and glory in God from an early age, developing a wise heart from knowing Him. "Kate" means pure. How we long for purity for our daughters! Pure in heart, pure in mind, pure in motives, pure in action. We pray that Averi Kate will understand that purity comes from Christ, that He alone can wash the dirt from our hearts and make us pure, and that she will live a life that reflects the purity that Christ offers to give us by His grace.

Here is a picture of our sweet Averi Kate at 17 1/2 weeks...

And here she is from the outside at 20 weeks...

She is growing daily and becoming more and more active. I can see her kicks from the outside already if I am looking at the right moment. Claire loves her and calls her "A-B-K". Claire is very concerned that Averi Kate needs to put shoes on. I keep telling her that she doesn't need shoes right now because she is in Mommy's tummy, but when she comes out we can certainly put shoes on her. It doesn't matter, because every time Claire sees a little pair of Averi Kate's shoes she grabs them and comes running to me, yelling, "ABK ready?? ABK ready???" I'll say, "Sweetie, Averi Kate doesn't need shoes. Do you know why?" And she replies, "ABK mommy's tummy. Pop! Shoes." I believe she is saying, when Averi Kate pops out then she can wear shoes. I don't know where she got the idea that Averi Kate is going to "pop" out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Favorite Things Update

Some of Claire's favorite things these days include...


Food: Goat Cheese, Soy Yogurt, Broccoli, Cereal

Activities: Playing with her babies (especially "changing their diapers"), checking the mail (we lead an exciting life), going to story-time at the library, playing the "Where's ___?" game (she loves to ask, "Where's Daddy?" At work. "Where's Dobby?" At her house. "Where's Nan?" At her house. "Where's Mommy?" Right here...etc., until she goes through her entire list of family and friends at least twice. It never gets old. To her.), seeing her "fends" (friends)...

Fun stories lately:

Claire really loves reading her Bible. A lot of times that's the first thing she'll want to do when she wakes up, and the other morning was one of those times. I walked into her room just as she was starting to wake up, and the first thing she said was "Jeekuh...Bibuh" "You want me to read you a story from the Bible about Jesus?" "Yeah..." and she grabbed her Bible and handed it to me. So I opened it up to the story of Jesus' first miracle (turning water into wine) and started to read. At the end of the page, the narration goes, "Mary told the servants, 'Do exactly what Jesus tells you to do.'" I asked Claire before we turned the page, "What do you think Jesus is going to tell them to do?" Her excited reply: "Water!!!" It took me a moment, and then I was like, Oh my goodness, she is right! He told them to fill up the jugs with water! It's amazing how much information she is soaking in right now!

Another story: Just now, as I was writing this update, I hear a frantic cry from Claire's room. I run up the stairs to find that she has crawled from her bed to the changing table and can't figure out how to get back down. She is on all fours on top of the table, crying. Poor thing. She is getting adventurous enough to get into trouble. Don't worry, she's sound asleep now. On the bed.

I love me some Claire Shugart!

Fun at the Fair

About a week and a half ago, we got the chance to take Claire to her very first fair! There is no better fair experience than the GA National Fair, so off we went to visit Perry and to let Claire take it all in. Some of the highlights for her were...

Petting the animals...

Sitting on Papa G's shoulder to watch the pig races!

(Look at this sweet couple!!!)

Riding on her first "roller coasters" :)

Taking a dinner break, of course...

Feeding fish with daddy...

Feeding herself...

And spending time with Dobby!

Of course, what trip to Perry would be complete without a ride on the 4-wheeler with Daddy?

Claire had a great time at the fair and talked about it for days afterward, especially mentioning all the animals that she saw. Can't wait till next year, when we get to take 2 girls to the fair!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Life

Does she look like she's in kindergarten here, or is it just me???

Claire loves her "pack-pack." She feels like a big girl when she has it on her back.

These are some pictures from our learning time. Here she is decorating her word family cards. Claire knows most of the sounds of the alphabet (thanks in large part to LeapFrog's Letter Factory dvd) so I figured, why not start decoding with her? I don't know if she gets it, but it can't hurt.

And here she is doing a counting activity.

Gotta love the "finger-up-the-nose" pictures.

This video is from about a month ago. I think Claire was making up a song about the rain at first, and then she started making her squinty face.

And this is from just the other night, playing ball before bedtime. Sorry for the lack of lighting quality. But you can see the administrative side of Claire as she gives instructions to her daddy :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Well, hello October...

Did I ever show you a picture of flat-Nan? No? Oh, well, a while back, we were playing with play-doh and I asked Claire what we should make...her response - "Nan!" "You want to make Nan out of play-doh???" "Yeah!!" So we did.

Anyway, hello October! Where does the time go? We are semi-settled into our new apartment. We desperately miss our dear friends in NC and are anxious to join a church here soon so we can form new friendships with sisters and brothers in Christ. We have been able to make some friends here at our apartment complex, though. There are several other kiddos that live here and they have accepted Claire with ease, always running up to her and telling her hello, and allowing her to think that she knows what she is doing in their games of tag and hide & seek.

Please forgive me, I haven't broken out the camera since well before we moved. It just hasn't been at the forefront of my mind, what with packing, unpacking, and such. But I did get a couple of pictures with my phone this morning of Claire and her cousin Justice playing at the park...

Things do seem to be settling a bit, at least for Claire and myself. Though the upstairs is atrocious still, everything is pretty much unpacked and in place in the living room and kitchen, and that's where we spend most of our time anyway. Claire had, we'll call it "adjustment issues" earlier this week. Either that, or it could be simply that she's quickly approaching 2 years old and this was bound to happen anyway. But she has been a handful, that's for sure, and I realized that my focus really didn't need to be on unpacking and organizing while she was up and active. I thought that adding a little more structure to her day may help matters a bit, so for the last few days we have been doing a concentrated time of learning activities after lunch. We call it "school," and Claire loves it. We do a math activity and a reading activity, and by the time we are done, she is ready to play by herself for a while, freeing me up to do some things around the house.

All that said, I do see more and more of a sinful and rebellious heart in Claire, just the same as is in all of us. Structure helps me manage the temptation for Claire to become bored and unsettled, inevitably displaying more of that natural tendency toward trouble. BUT, structure is not the answer for the heart problem. Whenever Spencer or I discipline Claire, we always strive (though we don't always succeed) to explain to her that none of us can obey all the time. The reason we discipline her is to point her toward Jesus, who always obeyed the Father perfectly, and who through His death and resurrection offers to transfer that perfect obedience to us. Does she get it yet? I'm pretty sure not. But on the other hand, I know that she understands more than I always think she does, and I need the practice in explaining it anyway. Who knew that the "terrible two's" would be such a good theology teacher?

Side note: If anyone is looking for a great book to read concerning parenting, "Give Them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson describes a theology of parenting that is far from the moralistic stage that we naturally tend toward. It is all about convincing your kids of the sufficiency of Jesus - not teaching them that obedience makes them a "good boy" or "good girl", but showing them that we are all desperate sinners in desperate need of a wonderful Savior. That's what I want for Claire and for my Baby Girl. Not for them to be like the pharisees who thought they were righteous because they kept the rules...but to be the ones who love much because they are forgiven much.