Saturday, December 24, 2011

Take Two: Little Bits is a...

Graciously, The Source for Women, a crisis pregnancy center in town that my mother-in-law is involved with, agreed to do a second ultrasound for us to hopefully tell the gender of Baby Ince.  At first, I felt bad taking up their time since we are not the type of clients they would typically see.  We quickly found that it blessed them as much as it did us to do an ultrasound for a married couple who were thrilled about having their baby, and they gave us the red carpet treatment, a thorough 3D/4D ultrasound in their beautiful facility in addition to be confidently sure of Little Bits' gender!
Here is their website if you want to check out their ministry.

We are proud to announce that Little Bits is a...

Pink or Blue? (Taylor is being "British" by not smiling...)


Seth was already asleep during the reveal, so he had his cupcake for breakfast...

He couldn't believe I gave him a cupcake for breakfast and savored every bite!


Happy Christmas Eve, Y'all!

Taylor, Robin, Seth and Baby GIRL Ince!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Facing Fears (even when they're silly)

As I've mentioned in the past, I can tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac.

Sometimes I feel like germs are out to get me (especially when raw poultry is involved), so if I can avoid possible adverse medical mishaps (food poisoning, possible allergic reactions to certain foods, catching a cold from the sneezy not covering her mouth child at baby and toddler group etc), my knee jerk reaction is to do so at all costs.

However, the cost proves to be extremely expensive:

Become home bound vegetarians.

And let's be serious, I'm from Texas, so that surely isn't going to happen.

Taylor is very grace-giving with me in these situations.  He doesn't push me.  He bought the Costco-sized hand sanitizer after Seth was born and made everyone use it if they were within 100 feet of the baby. He gently reminds me that sharing slobbered on toys in the church nursery builds immunity, and that if we don't have food allergies, Seth probably won't either.  And we all know with the raw meat neuroses, he is a genius.  He handles all raw meat passed his way without complaint.  This is a man who over the past five years has learned quickly to pick his battles.

So today we are celebrating a milestone that most of your children reached at one year old:

Eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

It may not seem like a big deal to you, but I have been carefully calculating how to go about this for the past 6 months - since Seth was cleared to try my long time nemesis. Don't get me wrong; our mutual dislike isn't because I'm allergic; I'm not.  But as a former teacher, you are taught to fear peanuts in all forms.  School is a nut-free zone People!  (At first I accidentally typed "nit-free" - don't we wish that were true?!) Plus, I was the kid that talked my mom into making me one peanut butter only half and one jelly only half because I couldn't stand having the flavors combined.  And truth be told, I threw away the whole un-eatened peanut butter half nine times out of ten.  

Taylor on the other hand is in LOVE with peanut butter.  And to his credit, he never pushed me to make Seth try it sooner.

So I've been trying for the past 6 months to get the courage up (and to get my darned baby brain to actually remember to implement the plan) to do this.  The plan came to me in early September.  At 15 months, Seth finally was ready to join our baby and toddler group at church now that he could stand missing his morning nap once a week.  It was perfect.  The group ended right around lunch time, and our church is steps away from the children's hospital in town.  My plan was to bring the PBJ sandwich with us to the group, drive home an alternate route so we'd pass the children's hospital, park in front of it, and feed it to him there. Just. In. Case.

3 months went by and I would forget every week to make the sandwich ahead of time.  This week, I realized would be my last chance, and I was bound and determined to find out once and for all if my fear of peanuts was founded.  Especially since we are going on an airplane soon - and we all know there are peanuts everywhere in airplanes!

Here are the results of my very scientific study:

It was love at first bite!

And I have to say, I walked on the wild side and didn't bother driving in front of the hospital while he ate it.  Progress!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Turkey Day 2011

It's taken me a week to recover, but, I did it.  For the first time, I prepared the whole thanksgiving meal 


Taylor may or may not have been called in during the de-gibleting of the turkey. Because raw poultry is one of my biggest fears.  I'm not kidding we're talking like I texted him after I attempted to, "what?!  I have to stick my hand where and pull out what?" 

My S.O.S. text read something like this:

Taylor! You must come home now there is a Turkey Emergency.  I cannot bring myself to pull out the turkey guts.  Please give me grace. Love, robs.

And the kind, patient, and understanding husband I have, high-tailed it home to be my own personal Thanksgiving hero.  This is big y'all because he couldn't care less about turkey.  He not so secretly loathes Thanksgiving because he feels like it's a holiday centered around overeating (and to add insult to injury the main course is not even a meat he prefers) and watching football.  That's when I call him, Pastor and remind him we celebrate because we are grateful to God for the provision in our lives.

Here were the provisions for the Ince Clan Turkey Day 2011:

Sweet potato casserole complete with pink marshmallows (I have no idea why the Brits have an affinity for  marshmallows of the pink variety only - made for a colorful casserole though), double batch of corn casserole (we're still working on that bad boy), scalloped potatoes (not a Thanksgiving meal staple in the past, but may become one), Aunt Ann's famous green bean salad (the only way I will eat a green bean from a can), Mom's stuffing (why I love Thanksgiving), and of course turkey (in the form that doesn't make me want to crawl into the fetal position while hyperventilating into a brown paper bag).

3 pies for 6 adults and 2 children: buttermilk, pumpkin, & my personal favorite, apple.
And this is the photo that will render a comment from my dad that my apple pie is not even close to tall enough (I followed Mom's recipe, Dad - I promise)!

We invited our Scottish friends, Bruce and Catriona and their 2 year old daughter Elliana, to join us for their very first American Thanksgiving.  The pressure was on!  I have to say, there weren't any major mishaps (thanks to Taylor's clutch turkey intervention) and Bruce immediately put me at ease when they walked in the door, looked at the spread, and he exclaimed, "This is the best day of my life!"

Talk about a great dinner guest!  They all were - Elliana even happily gobbled up all of the foreign trimmings.  We even let Seth partake this year (last year he was fed a bottle and put to bed before the feast even began - ahh, the fate of being 5 months old on Thanksgiving!).  

Look at Bruce's plate - love it!

Seth particularly liked the corn casserole and cranberry sauce
Here we are in front of our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree tired and full from our night of overeating giving thanks.
Taylor Ince, I am thankful for you, my Thanksgiving Turkey Hero.

We didn't have a chance to skype with our parents on Thanksgiving Day due to meal prep and time differences, but you better believe I sent a text (via Viber) to my mom promising to do everything next year as long as I don't have to get anywhere near a raw turkey.

"Let us come into His presence with Thanksgiving!" Psalm 95:2a

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

Add caption
Taylor, Robin, Seth and Little Bits

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whitewashed Tombs


I was recently shaken by a conversation I had with the women in my Bible study on Esther  (which is amazing by the way - I highly recommend it!) and after praying through what we talked about, I wanted to share what the Lord's been showing me on the subject.

During our study, one of my friends said her good friend told her that even the "good" girls in the youth group these days are sleeping around, and this broke my heart.  I don't want to accept that for our children!  I agree that our society and culture's morals are declining rapidly, but that doesn't mean our kids are destined for that too.  I'm a "fix-it" type personality so immediately after this was mentioned, I thought, "OK, how do I avoid this for my kids?!"  And ultimately I think it comes down to our definition of "good."  If the "good" kids are doing it, are they really "good"? And if they are "good" is "good" good enough? Seems like that definition is broadening right alongside of the culture's idea of morality. 

But then it struck me.  

I don't want "good" kids.  I want godly kids.  Kids whose deepest desire is to please God first.  True obedience, not compliance. I'm not saying that this equals they'll never mess up.  They will and it may even be sexually though I pray it doesn't, but with godly kids there will be sorrow over sin and repentance for it, and the Lord will redeem it.  I don't just want a "good" kid that follows the rules most of the time, makes me look good, and seems like their OK from the outside.  They may not know Jesus at all:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:27-28

or this especially scary verse in Matthew 22:

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demonsin your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

I want kids whose lives show fruit from their relationship with Jesus.  That aren't just obeying because mom and dad expect it, or because they fear punishment, or because they are trying to earn their salvation which is a pointless pursuit, but because they don't want to lose fellowship in their relationship with the Lord; they want to honor Him above all.

So the big question is - how do we raise godly kids?

This is obviously a huge question and I don't pretend or presume to have this down, but this is where I felt the Lord leading.  

It starts with us.  

We need to ask ourselves are we living lives of whitewashed tombs?  Or is our relationship with Jesus the most important thing in our own life - is He first?  Do I look "good" because I'm spending time with Jesus daily - letting him refine me, letting him prune me so the good fruit can grow - or because I am striving to live a certain way because that is how a Christian is supposed to live?  Kids can spot a hypocrite a mile away.  This doesn't mean that we should be scared that our kids see the "good, the bad and the ugly";  that is inevitable.  But do they see humility with the good or do they see pride?  Do they see remorse and repentance following the bad and ugly or do they see us shrugging it off like it's no big deal?  Are we humble enough to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them?  What about our spouse?

We focused a lot on this when I worked at a Christian school in Charlotte.  It was very important to our head master that we didn't just ask for compliance in the classroom - a whitewashed tomb looks like compliance - but that we looked for true obedience so that we were not fooled by the compliant students (assuming they had a relationship with the Lord just because they acted the right way on the outside) because some compliant, some "good" kids aren't actually Christians at all, but their "good" behavior can be reinforced in such a way by Christian adults that gives them the sense that they are - so scary!  

Being a Christian isn't looking good on the outside, but living a life of repentance from our sin and growth in our relationship with Jesus.  This will lead to "fruit" which makes us look good on the outside.  This ties to parenthood in that when we saw the sin in our students lives, we were challenged to get to the heart of it, not just dole out a punishment for the lying, cheating, name calling etc and continue merrily diagramming the sentence we were in the middle of.  We were to look at the root of the disobedience and walk through it with them (what does shouting at so and so show us about what's going on in your heart? Answer: I am angry or I am impatient etc etc. This reveals to them their sinful heart which ultimately shows their need for a savior - shows them they are not, in fact, good.  When we just punish the behavior and keep going it may change the outward behavior (though many times it won't even do that!), but it may not cause them to reflect on what that behavior shows about the state of their soul which is ultimately what we care about as parents in the first place, right?  It was amazing how effective doing this was for bringing out repentance in these students.  I think using these principals can help us avoid turning our children in to "compliant" "good" kids to truly obedient kids - obeying out of pure motives and more importantly seeing that they need Jesus to save them - they can't earn their salvation by being good.  All of that training came from a book called Shepherding a Child's Heart which I feel like gives us really practical advice in avoiding the "good kid" scenario we were talking about in the youth group.  My sister-in-law is a big proponent of a parenting curriculum called Growing Kids God's Way which helps in raising kids counter-culturally.  And obviously the Bible is our main resource for how to raise our kids!

I'd love any thoughts or resources you have on this subject too since many of you  have way more experience than I do in the parenting arena.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's beginning to look kind of like Christmas

So I meant to take a picture of me and my 21 week bump - how have we already passed the halfway mark?? But I was too busy putting up our Christmas tree.  I know it's shameful to do this before Thanksgiving, but seeing how we live in a place where Thanksgiving doesn't exist, I went for it.

Don't judge.

Now all I need is Pandora, so I can listen to some Christmas music, oh yeah, and hooks so I can actually hang up our ornaments - par for the course or what?  I'd like to blame it on Baby Brain, but we all know better don't we...

Instead I've chosen a photo of me and the hubs (these seem to be few and far between these days - our camera is dominated by Sethers) taken by a friend a couple of Saturdays ago.  We may not have Thanksgiving here, but we do have a castle (that big fortress-y looking thing in the background).

Thanks "Big Seth" for snapping a photo of us!

Embracing the Camera with Emily today...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I saw this video on my friend, Caroline's Facebook wall and had to share it! Make sure you watch it till the end.

 I think there might be a good sermon illustration in here somewhere for Taylor...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

180 Movie

A powerful video on the Holocaust - it's 30 minutes long but well worth it.

Warning: there is a public advisory as it includes graphic content

Friday, November 4, 2011

Little Bits is a...

Healthy baby!  Praise the Lord!

Unfortunately, the ultrasound technician was unable to tell us whether Little Bits is a boy or girl.  I believe her exact words were, "I'd rather not say..."

What?!  I know your next question is when is your next ultrasound?  And the answer in this socialised medical system is never.  So now we're praying about if we are going to pay for an extra ultrasound to get another look.  Taylor was not-so-secretly thrilled that we didn't find out, so time will tell...

But even though I like the suspense and am usually not a planner {insert whiny and ungrateful voice here}, I want to know!  I want to know whether or not I need to bring all of Seth's newborn - 3 month clothes back or if I need to borrow girl clothes from my sister-in-law.

But I also know that the Lord wasn't surprised that this happened.

That maybe I'm supposed to wait even though every practical and selfish bone in my body (and there are many folks) is yearning to know.  As much as this is true, I don't want to go full throttle into "fix it" mode.  Into "getting my way is the right way" mode. Maybe we are supposed to find out soon, and maybe we're not.  All I know for right now is that I'm supposed to wait.


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...
Psalm 37:7a

He wants me to stop.  Don't skip over the news that the baby's healthy and go straight to boy or girl.


Your baby is healthy. Alive.

Are you grateful?

I know what it's like to come away from the 20 week ultrasound without a healthy baby, so it's not lost on me that my focus has been directed to what I do know about Little Bits.

He is healthy, his heart is beating, his systems are functioning normally.

For this I am thankful.  I don't take it for granted.

But maybe I would have if we had found out the gender.  Maybe my mind would have gone straight to Pottery Barn Kids and the stocking I had picked out for "Jack" or "still haven't agreed on a girl's name yet," or to planning out his birth announcement, or getting ready for her "Sprinkle."  Maybe that is where my heart would be instead of completely grateful for a healthy child, for the dream of a full term birth that ends in taking home a baby instead of leaving empty-handed.  Maybe I wouldn't have stopped to realize how many prayers (especially in 2009) have gone answered, how many promises fulfilled by God to me in the health of this baby.

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me..." 
Isaiah 49: 15-16

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORDthe fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
Psalm 127:3-5

So we will wait, but the waiting isn't empty, it's full of gratitude to the Lord whose mercy truly is new every morning. Praise Him.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mama is NOT a potty word...

In my mind, I have always been adamant about only having to change one set of diapers (unless the Lord gave us twins), but with Little Bits' arrival being sooner than I planned - Seth will only be 21.5 months old then - this may be a harder task than I originally envisioned.  I've heard that not only are boys typically harder to potty train, but that the average age for American boys to be potty trained is 2.5 to 3 years old. That is a lot of diapers between March and next December.  I say "American" boys because come to find out from my missionary friend who lives in Africa, and my Chinese friend, in those countries, babies are potty trained a lot earlier.

Like by the time they're walking.

Well Seth's not African or Chinese, but he is walking, so maybe...

With all of this wishful thinking, I got on to buy a potty for Seth, so he can start getting used to the idea.  He already knows the word potty and a few other bathroom related words (much to my chagrin when we're in public - especially when it's in conjunction with sitting at a table in a restaurant). It was an accident! (No pun intended...)

You see, I ask him from time to time if he has a poopy diaper.  Like when a cloud appears behind him and I get a not so pleasant especially when pregnant whiff of well, you know.  So now, being the thoroughly advanced toddler boy that he is, whenever he does indeed have a poopy, he gets my attention by patting me on the knee saying, "Mama,"  and then he reaches for the front of his diaper and exclaims, "Poopy!" really expectantly. Hence the embarrassment when this happens in public.

If Taylor is home when this charade goes on, I proceed to ask Seth, "who do you want to change your diaper?  Mama or Dada?"  Inevitably, "Dada" wins out because, well, that's his favorite word besides car and tractor.  If I give him a photograph that includes me, Seth will name every person he knows in it except for me.
If I ask him, "where is Dada?"  He points to Taylor.
If I ask him, "where is Seth?" he points to himself.
If I ask him, "where is Baby?" he points to his belly.
If I ask him, "where is Mama?"  he points again to himself.

Now the other day he took this to a whole new level.  I mean do we have a sanguine, extrovert or what?


It's Saturday morning and Taylor and I are finishing cleaning up after breakfast and Seth is running around the kitchen grabbing any leftover plates, utensils, cups that are mistakenly left too close to the table's edge when all of a sudden he stops, grabs his diaper and shouts, "Poopy!"  

Both Taylor and I snap to attention and as soon as Seth notices we're both looking at him, he looks back and forth from me to Taylor, throws his arm into the air pointing at Taylor and says, "Dada!"

We both about fell on the floor rolling with laughter.  And Taylor got the esteemed honor of changing the diaper.

That kid is a fast learner. So maybe this potty training will be no problem...right?

Well, yesterday the potty came in the mail, and Seth LOVES it.  Loves it so much he immediately named it.  He named the potty.  He is 16 months old.  You'll never guess what he calls it...


That's right.  You heard read me. 

I'm not sure if I should be honored or horrified. So I guess I'll just stay a little bit of both.

"Mama" the Froggy Potty and Seth the comedian

Have a great day, y'all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pink or Blue?

I have always been determined not to find out the gender of my babies until they are born.  Life is lacking sweet surprises and Taylor and I LOVE the suspense. When expecting Seth, I used to joke that it would help me get through labor!  But if I'm completely honest, that was mostly due to Mr. Epidural, my best friend that I plan on reuniting with in late March (a post for another time).

My sister-in-law, Susannah, paved the way for Taylor.  For each birth, we would eagerly clog the maternity ward hallway making bets as we waited impatiently for the answer of our nine month old question.  My brother-in-law, getting way into it,  would make us line up on either side of the corridor based on if we thought it was a boy or a girl and video taped us to catch our reactions when he revealed the baby's name, and let's be serious, to keep us honest - ha!  When their third daughter, Caroline, was born, he relinquished this duty of announcing the gender to their 4 year old who accidentally told us she had a brother instead of a sister.  Classic!

Taylor loved the excitement of seeing everyone show up for our nieces births and was wholeheartedly on board with me to wait to find out.

Waiting to find out if it would be Seth or Emma...

You'd think this was the winning side of the hallway, but it wasn't...

Those who guessed boy

With Seth (aka Nudger), we mostly encountered shock when people would ask us what we were having, and we admitted we didn't know.

People still do that?!

They'd ask incredulously, and then would proceed to give their expert opinion on what I was having according to this superstition or that old wives tale.  I would have random people walk by me, point at my basketball belly and say, "boy," and just keep walking.  It was so bizarre.  Other people just got plain annoyed with us and couldn't understand why we wouldn't find out.

Seth, my little basketball

Here in Britain, people are naturally more understated.  No one ventures a guess at all, and only the Americans are curious about what we "think" it is.

But we've decided with Little Bits, much against our ideology, that we will find out at our 20 week ultrasound if he is a he or she. Practicality has won out.  We figured since we won't have a hospital ward packed out with our eagerly awaiting friends (socialized medicine and the Atlantic Ocean make this impossible), we might as well find out now when we can celebrate with them in person over the Christmas holidays. And if it's a girl, we'll be able to stock up on free (thanks Susannah) and more affordable (thanks to the abysmal exchange rate) clothes while we're in the States.

As the ultrasound draws closer (THIS Wednesday!), I find it hard to stop thinking about it. Which is God's best plan for our family? Will Seth have a little brother or sister?   Will they get along and be best friends, or will it be a refining relationship (hopefully a lot of the first and some of the second).  People sometimes ask me what I "want" it to be, and I honestly don't know.  I want whoever is in there.  I believe this baby is a person known by God already, fashioned in His image, how could I not want that?  I can't wait to see how this baby enhances and changes our little family of three.  I know it will be chaos at times - one of my friends describes having a baby as hard, but a baby and a toddler as Crazytown - but I am looking forward to this new life God has graciously granted us.

Bring on the Crazytown!

"Little Bits" for a little longer

Come back Wednesday for the big reveal!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ode to The Mullet

At one month of age, Seth Robert Ince lost all of his hair.  That is, on the top of his head only.  The back continued on even through the adversity of a "back sleeper."  His mother talked of getting it cut especially after instances when people asked if she cut his hair.  Offended greatly, she quipped, "No I didn't thank you very much and if I did, I would not choose a mullet.  Yes, I may be from Texas, but don't live near the river." OK, maybe she was just thinking that in her head while she grimaced out a "no" to the asker.

Even still, she didn't have the heart to cut his golden locks.  

Mom, don't even think about cutting The Mullet!

Dontcha think it's cute?

Pure gold

She would finally build up her resolve, and then he would wake up like this:

Mom, please don't cut my hair.  You hate change.  I will not look like your little baby anymore if you do...

So he carried on as he was, The Mullet firmly intact.

 The Mullet lived on even through a photo shoot while wearing his Pakistani outfit given as a gift from one of our friends. Are those shoes the cutest?

Don't miss the hair flip 

This one is mostly for the pose, but The Mullet is also alive and well if you look closely.

I mean The Mullet has it's own shadow for crying out loud!

And then little Seth was woken up for church one Sunday and The Mullet had turned into this:

Business on top

Major party in the back.


And she again resolved to get his haircut immediately.

But somehow, he charmed her out of it again.  Even with lunch all over his face.

The Mullet withstood Tutu's b-day photo...

Yes, Seth has a bit of a shoe fetish.  Why do you ask?

as well as Soup Night.

 And then resolve was once again restored, when he found a girl's hair clip and insisted his mother try it on him.

It worked way too well.

 Next, he found a hair band.

The length of that pony-tail has most girls his age green with envy.  

And that was the last straw.

The waiting room at the Barber Shop

Ignorance is bliss 

Mom, what is this alien thing you've given me?

I think it has little strawberries printed on the package.

I like this Barber Shop place!

The Mullet's final minutes

What's going on here?

Lollipop, where have you been all my life?

Nothing in the world is happening except for my consumption of my first lollipop, copious amounts of drool, and the distant the singing of "Lollipop, Lollipop" intermittently interrupted by a snip, snip sound...

First haircut = total success!

Bittersweet moment for Mommy as she watches her baby grow into a little boy. ..

Check out that new do!

Embracing the Camera with Emily today...