Tuesday, November 26, 2013

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day Four: Christmas Movies

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Ok - I wrote this post on Friday, but it's lame, so I didn't publish, but I'm going to anyway because I just signed up for bloglovin and claimed my blog and it told me to post the above code to my next post.  So here you go!

This is going to be short (I can hear you sighing in relief after my last 3 posts!) because it's Friday night and this mama is tired! It's been a long day filled with being in the car for hours only to go to Costco (and no it's not a long drive from our house; it's just a long story), teaching a German friend how to make Thanksgiving side dishes, reading Gingerbread Baby and Each Peach Pear Plum, racing Miles Axelrod against Chick Hicks (Miles totally won by the way...though I'm unclear on how he escaped from jail), cleaning up spilled milk etc.  I might just have to turn in early and watch a Christmas movie, but first I'll give you my list of top ten must see before December 25th.  Before I start, here are the links for the past posts.

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions}
Day One: Christmas Playlist
Day Two: Elf on the Shelf
Day Three: Christmas Book Countdown

Day Four: Christmas Movies
Here is my top 10:

#10 - Christmas Story

I know,  how could this be #10? Because they play it 24 hours straight on Christmas day that's why.  It's too much a part of Christmas for me not to watch it each year, but once is plenty.

#9 - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Last year, I showed this movie to Seth for the first time.  He's a HUGE Dr. Seuss fan and of course loved it.  And yes.  We've already watched it this season. :)

#8 - Home Alone 2

If you loved the first one, you loved this one too! And as you'll see, I LOVE the first one.

#7 - Miracle on 34th Street


#6 - Any cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but if you're looking for me at my in-laws house at Christmas time, if there is any down time, it's safe to bet I'm on the couch watching a Hallmark Christmas movie with my mom-in-law.

#5 - Iron Man 3

Taylor said this one shouldn't count, but I plan on adding it to my Christmas movie repertoire.  I know it's a weird choice, but I LOVE all of the Iron Man movies as well as The Avengers.  And Iron Man 3 is set during Christmastime - so there.

#4 - The Family Man

Taylor had never seen this movie before we got married, so it was fun watching it with him the first time.  He loves it and cries every time we watch it when Nicolas Cage gives his speech at the airport. This movie has such a great message!

#3 - Elf

Do I need to give a reason?

#2 - Christmas Vacation

This one narrowly misses #1.  I love the family dynamics and the neighbors too! But can someone please explain to me why the grandparents were given the room with the bunk beds and the brother and sister had to share a bed?  This always bothered me.

#1 - Home Alone

There are a handful of movies I can vividly remember watching in the theater as a child: The Little Mermaid, Father of the Bride, and Home Alone and so each of them are dear to my heart.  My memory of watching Home Alone is one of pure laughter (and I'm a tough sell); it brings back such great memories from my childhood. And I'm pretty sure it's my brother's favorite movie of all time - Mark, we'll have to watch it on Skype or something this year :).

I left off It's a Wonderful Life on purpose - maybe this makes me a terrible person, but bo-ring!

Oh and as a side note, did any of you children of the 80s watch that Alien Santa Claus movie?  I can't remember what it's called, but my grandmother owned it and Mark and I looked forward to watching it every year - not sure why we loved it so much because I'm pretty sure it was super lame, but that was one of our favorite Christmas traditions when we celebrated with that side of the family. :)

What are your must see Christmas movies?  What about kid Christmas movies?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day Three: Christmas Book Countdown

Warning - this post in LONG.  We Inces love books, so I can't help it.

Seth (2011), 18 months old
This blogging every day is kind of killing me because it's coinciding with Seth dropping his afternoon nap.  The topic today has provided somewhat of a solution for turning nap time into "rest time" so I can actually get stuff done!  If you missed the first two posts from the series, here they are:

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions}
Day One: Christmas Playlist
Day Two: Elf on the Shelf

I stumbled upon the Christmas Book Countdown on Pinterest last year.  The idea is to wrap all of your Christmas books, and let your kids open one each night and read it as their bedtime story.  The idea would be to have 24 books so that it acts as an Advent calendar of sorts in the month of December.

Now, I love books.  So much.  And I love Christmas, so this idea made me really excited.  I immediately amped up my Christmas book collecting.  But as I thought about it more, I didn't want my kids to not have all of their Christmas books at their fingertips during the month of December.  I put these books away the rest of the year so that they are extra special once Christmastime rolls around again.  So I was conflicted. I loved the wrapping idea and how that would cause each book to be treasured instead of a glut of Christmas books December 1st (Ok November 23rd!). So I decided we'd start mid November so that they'll have access to all of their Christmas books the whole month of December before I pack them away again for next year.  I've been letting Seth open one after "rest time" is over which has helped with the transition from nap time somewhat.

Grumpy Seth after having his nap shortened significantly

2 seconds later, happy Seth opening his first Christmas book

If this idea interests you, but you're feeling overwhelmed at the thought of  getting up to 25 Christmas books, here are some ways we've done it.

Get the grandparents in on it:  We live in Scotland so the grandparents love giving my kids recordable Christmas books. I've also put Christmas books on my kids wish lists - they have been a huge help in contributing to our collection.  They probably have some you could borrow for the month too.

North Pole Breakfast: Instead of having Buddy give our kids an ornament like Andrea does, he's giving each of us a Christmas book.  This is one way I am going to try to take the focus off of the gift receiving and focus more on Jesus (you'll see my book choices below).

Christmas parties: Our baby and toddler group gives each child a Christmas book each year at the annual Christmas party.  If you are a part of organizing any Christmas parties or gift exchanges for your kids preschool or Sunday school or whatever, you could suggest Christmas books as the gift to bring. Also, our church has a Christmas party each year where the parents are asked to provide a 5 pound (currency not weight measurement!) gift for their child, so naturally I always give a Christmas book.

Children's Bibles: Wrap up your kids' storybook Bibles and read the first Christmas story.

Stocking Stuffers: Christmas board books make great stocking stuffers!

Christmas Eve Presents: Each Christmas Eve we give our kids a Christmas book to open.  This was a brilliant idea I got from Emily a couple of years ago.  Her reasoning behind it is that they're going to have trouble sleeping anyway, so this gives them something to do Christmas Eve.  I love this - I remember counting sheep for hours on Christmas Eve as a kid.  Plus it gives me another excuse to give a Christmas book!

The Library: If you don't want to buy them, check them out from the library - who says you can't wrap them up?  Just remember to return them on time (says the girl whose library books were due on October 27th...guess what we're doing tomorrow?)

Now for the stash...  I researched and researched and researched different Christmas books because I didn't want just any story that slapped a Santa Claus (or Baby Jesus for that matter) on it.  I wanted quality and variety.  We have some that are secular, some that are the nativity story, we have some that incorporate Christian themes but aren't nativity stories; some are simple board books, some are lengthy stories, some are mostly illustrations. I used Honey for a Child's Heart as a reference as well as other blogs from Pinterest and Amazon.com/co.uk.

Here is an annotated list of our collection in no particular order (sorry the links are to Amazon.co.uk):

1. Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett - one of my favorite board books ever!  The best part about it is the illustrations, and your kids will get a kick out of "that naughty Gingerbread Baby." We put this in Seth's stocking his first Christmas.  He actually loved it so much that I had to get a new copy for Avery's stocking last year because it literally fell apart.

2. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg - The Jolly Postman was one of my favorite books as a child and Janet and Allan Ahlsberg's children's books are the ones that I most enjoy as an adult (especially Avery's current favorite Each Peach Pear Plum and the classic Peepo).  Like The Jolly Postman, The Jolly Christmas Postman is a collection of letters written from one nursery rhyme character to another.  As a child, I loved carefully taking out all of the cleverly written letters.  Last year when I was researching Christmas books, I quickly put it on Seth's wish list when I saw there was a Christmas version.  It back fired a little bit because he's scared of the Big Bad Wolf, but I'm sure some day they will like it. :)

3. Song of the Stars - If you love Jesus Storybook Bible, you need this Christmas book.  It's a rhythmic story with beautiful illustrations - I am a HUGE Alison Jay fan (illustrator for Listen, Listen which might be my very favorite children's book of all time and a couple of Christmas books I have listed further down).  We gave this to Seth for his first Christmas.  This is my favorite nativity story.

4. Christmastime by Alison Jay - I am in love with her illustrations.  Period. This was the Christmas Eve book Seth got last year. This is probably my favorite secular Christmas picture book.

5. Toys by Alison Jay - cute touch and feel book

6. The Nutcracker by Alison Jay - I'm pretty sure this is the version we have.  I can't remember because I already wrapped it up!  Avery got this from her grandparents last Christmas so we haven't had much of a chance to enjoy it.  Can't wait to get my hands on it this year!

7.  Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury - as the title suggests, this one has multiple stories in it.  I only read about 3 of them to the kids as some of the other stories are scary.   I found this via other bloggers who raved about it, but I have to be honest, while the illustrations don't disappoint, I'm not a huge fan of most of the stories - it would've been better to buy the individual stories that I prefer (ie The Mitten).

8. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - classic Christmas story; memorable illustrations

9. Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson - I was specifically looking for Christmas stories that pointed to Jesus as the reason for Christmas, but weren't necessarily a re-telling of the first Christmas since we have a lot of nativity stories, and this fit the bill.  It is illustrated by Jane Chapman who does the bear books which Seth especially loves.  This will be what Buddy gives to Avery this year at our North Pole Breakfast.

10.  The Elf on the Shelf - if you do this tradition, you're supposed to read this the day after Thanksgiving.

11.  Silent Night - this is a large board book that plays the song silent night and tells the nativity story.   Seth received this at our baby and toddler group Christmas party 2 years ago.

12. Maisy's Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins- we're crazy about Maisy over here, so this is what I got Seth as his church Christmas party gift last year.  I got it at Costco in a pack of 10 Maisy books for 10 pounds - I'm not sure if they have this in the States, but my kids love Maisy books, so was a great deal!  I'm pretty sure Costco is doing this again this year.

13. Ten Little Christmas Angels - not sure if I linked to the right book because our cover looks  different than this one, and since I've already wrapped my books, I can't double check the title.  This is a board book Avery received at our baby and toddler group Christmas party last year.

14.  My First Story of Christmas by Tim Dowley- Seth received this at our baby and toddler group Christmas party last year. Great nativity story - simple and clear.

15. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - classic Christmas; great message!  We also have the old version on DVD.

16. Frosty the Snowman - Hallmark recordable book - they don't have this one anymore, but there are some other cute ones this year.  Taylor hates these, but I tell him it's because he's not home all day. :)  I love being able to say to Seth and Avery, "go let grandpa read to you!" when it's 5 o'clock and I'm trying to get dinner going.

17. The Night Before Christmas - Hallmark recordable book

18. God's Promises (Nativity story) - Hallmark recordable book

19. Nativity - Hallmark recordable book

20. Charlie Brown Christmas - recorable book

21. Mickey Mouse Christmas - recordable book

22. The Nativity Story by Juliet David - board book for Avery's stocking this year; shhhh, don't tell her!

23. Bob by Sandra Boynton - we LOVE her books so I thought Avery would enjoy a Christmas one.  She'll get it when Seth gets his church Christmas party book this year.

24. Paddington and the Christmas Surprise - Seth's church Christmas party book

25. Merry Christmas Curious George - taking a gamble on this one; haven't read it, but Seth loves Curious George.  I guess we'll find out!

26. Auntie Claus - the kids I grew up babysitting for LOVED this book, so it's nostalgic for me.  Cute, creative story.

27. Santa is Coming to Edinburgh - this book will commemorate our first and only Christmas in Edinburgh.  I love seeing the familiar scenes in this book.  I know the kids will barely remember living here, so I couldn't pass it up when I saw it in the Rosslyn Chapel shop.

28. Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck and Laura Godwin - illustrator is Felicia Bond the same who did Margaret Wise Brown's The Big Red Barn which both of my kids love.  Simple board book nativity story.

29. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien - this is a compliation of letters Tolkien wrote to his kids over the years posing as Santa. Taylor got this in his stocking last year because of his affinity for The Lord of the Rings.  It's a bit too old for our kids right now, but we look forward to enjoying it with them in a few years.

30. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham - I'll be getting this one from Buddy

31. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend by Julie Stiegemeyer- Taylor will get this one from Buddy

What are your favorite Christmas stories?

about to open their books for today!

Happy Amazon-ing!:)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day Two: Elf on the Shelf

I know it's technically the same day because I didn't finish my day one post until 12:30 am here in Edinburgh, so the date is the same for day one and day two, but I slept between the two posts, so that's two separate days in my mind.  Yes I am tired and this post may or may not make any sense...


Here we go! Elf on the Shelf - should we do this?  Everyone else is, it's really cute, it promises to ensure great memories of your children's childhoods, and not to mention it's a helpful threat reminder when kids are pouting and crying etc.  But do I want my kids to behave well to please Santa? So that they can get more presents?  Um, the answer is an emphatic NO.  Does having Buddy the Elf (we're really original at the Ince Household) show up at our house day after day in creative places promote thoughts of Jesus' birth, the advent of Christ becoming a human so he could save the world and forgive us when we're naughty?  No it actually promotes the controversial D.C. bus slogan of years past, "Why believe in God?  Just be good for goodness sake!" Actually just be good for increasing possessions sake.

Ok, hold the hate mail!  Just stirring the pot a bit.  It's good for us to think about these things before we do them.  Implication is education (not me, Chesterton).

So if you're wondering if we do Elf on the Shelf, the answer is yes.  We started it last year because everybody else is doing it (even my sister-in-law who is not afraid to be counter-cultural though she refused to pay 30 bucks for the elf and bought a reindeer at Michaels instead and calls it Rodney - love her!  I had a coupon...)! I knew I wasn't totally convinced that it was sending the right message, but I figured for a 2.5 year old and 8 month old it wasn't a big deal and that I could really decide the next Christmas (now!) if we'd stick with it since Buddy the Elf is not yet in their retrievable memories.

As I contemplated if Buddy should become a permanent Christmas tradition, I would try to brainstorm how I could be intentional about Jesus and still keep Buddy around, but nothing was coming to me.  I was reluctantly leaning toward dropping the whole thing until I came across this really creative idea from Andrea: the North Pole Breakfast.

I love her idea of having Buddy put on a breakfast for the kids to remind them of how this whole Elf on the Shelf thing works.  Now you're probably asking yourself what does this have to do with Jesus? And the answer is nothing.  But after seeing what Andrea did with the letters and gifts, it dawned on me that I can have Buddy tell them whatever I want. I think it's beneficial to show them that Santa and Jesus aren't at odds.  Every day Buddy shows up at our house, we'll have more opportunities to talk about why we choose to obey Mommy and Daddy, be kind to our siblings, tell the truth etc instead of the majority of those conversations happening at times when we're correcting our kids behavior.

So Buddy gets to stay, and Taylor and I can't wait to have a morning off of breakfast duty on the 29th! :)

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day One: A Stream of Consciousness Introduction and Christmas Playlist

**Updated Playlist - my Dad reminded me I forgot a couple favorites!**

I LOVE Christmastime.

Seth's 1st Christmas

Avery's 1st Christmas

Everything in me wants to put on Christmas music and decorate our flat November 1st. Recently, my German friend, Susi, asked me when the decking of the halls would happen in the Ince Household.  Sheepishly I admitted that I really wanted to do it November 16th, but I was forcing myself to wait until the following weekend because we were having new friends over for dinner that night, and I didn't want them to think I was weird. (Just keepin' it real.) Turns out the joke was on me because my new friend (also American) had decorated her flat earlier that day. Ha! Susi was surprised saying she heard the rule was to decorate after Thanksgiving.

I may or may not have had a visceral reaction.

I used to buy into this.  That is when my mom decorated as did all of my friends' moms when I was growing up. But once I realized how much work it is (and how cosy it makes the house feel), I decided it's too much work not to start enjoying it in November.  I love having my Christmas decorations up for Thanksgiving - it's festive!  It heralds in the Christmas season! And let's be serious, who wants to decorate their house directly after making Thanksgiving dinner? Not me!

Each year I obsess think about how to combat being too focused on gift receiving, Santa Claus, and the whole secular side of Christmas.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Santa by any means, but I don't want my kids to be more excited about presents than

God coming down.

I'm not naive, I don't expect Seth to prefer Jesus over presents at age 3 - I think that is not realistic for a 3 year old, but I do want Him to know why we celebrate and give gifts, and for Jesus not to be eclipsed by Old Saint Nick.  Is this possible?  Do we need to punt Santa Claus?


I loved the way my parents did Christmas.  It was truly magical and my siblings and I allowed each other to "believe" way longer than most.  Santa Claus was an integral part. I never felt like my parents lied to me in allowing us to believe in him.

I think it's important to reevaluate each year and have an open heart about doing things differently than the way we grew up.  Possibly to lose a little magic to gain a little wonder.  And not doing things just because everybody else is doing them (what?! You're not saying 30 something moms still fall into this trap...right?).  On the other hand, I don't want to be an extreme-o Pharisee parent that my kids grow up hating because we were too Christian for that mumbo jumbo you call Santa Claus and presents. {Disclaimer: I am not saying you are automatically an extreme-o Pharisee if your family chooses to not to do Santa - it's all about the heart behind why you're doing what you're doing!}

I want Jesus to be our focus and I want my kids to experience the magic and wonder of Christmas.  I think we can do both.

I've loved getting ideas from other bloggers - some who are even more Christmas crazy than I am! So I decided that for the next few weeks I'm going to be a dedicated blogger and share some of the fun ideas I've come across on blogs and Pinterest in addition to some of our already established Christmas traditions. I'm not sure how often I'm doing this because I didn't brainstorm ahead of time (surprise, surprise), but off the top of my head I just realized there are 12 days left of November and that goes with 12 days of Christmas...ahhh!  An idea is born.  There you have it - 12 Days of Christmas Traditions: Just in time for those of you who wait until December 1st to start decorating. :)  Though let's be realistic, it's highly unlikely I'll post on the weekends, so this will bleed into December or I might only have 8 topics...I guess we'll find out!  If I was really on top of it (and not to mention computer savvy), I'd have a cute graphic to go with it too.  And I'd put it on my FB page.  But we all know how likely that is since the last time I posted on that was probably January 2012.

So for today first things first.  My Christmas playlist.  You have to have it playing before you can begin any Christmas shenanigans (designing your Christmas cards, decorating your house, etc), so I thought it only right to begin here.  Here is a list of my very favorite Christmas songs new and old - I tried to keep it at 10, but that was impossible, so I went with 25.  If you don't feel like listening to all of them (Ebenezer), make sure you at least listen to the last 2.  Happy listening!

Robin's Christmas Playlist (though in reality it's much longer because the whole Charlie Brown and Home Alone sound tracks would be on there too!):

1. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams - mandate to be number one on the list
2. It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble - this is a new addition this year thanks to Shay
3. Jingle Bells by Frank Sinatra - this isn't any old rendition of Jingle Bells, it's the best. The only problem with listening to it in Scotland is my brother, Mark, isn't singing along with me though I know somehow he knows I'm listening to it and all the way on Maui he's humming it too.
4. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole - nothing needs to be said here but classic
5. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey - Seth and Avery beg me to drop whatever I'm doing and dance whenever this song comes on - Kaitlyn, you now have little people you can boss around and make up dance routines with (not that I know anybody who would do that!) ;)
6. Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys - my dad raised us on the Beach Boys!
7. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
8. Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant - when I accosted Taylor with, "favorite Christmas song GO" this is the one he chose, and this my friends is why he's my best friend.
9. To Be with You by Sara Groves - this one kills me this year since we're not going home for Christmas for the first time EVER.  Sob.  So if I am able to listen to it, it will definitely be followed by the next two songs and a phone call to Mom.
10. Blue Christmas by Elvis
11. Please Come Home for Christmas by The Eagles - Don Henley - lyrical perfection in a musical era when it didn't matter what you said or even if your song made sense at all
12. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby - feeling like I need another Hawaiian Christmas soon...fancy a jump off of Black Rock, Craig?
13. Sweet Bells by Kate Rusby - But I'm looking forward to experiencing a Scottish Christmas - this one is a shout out to Murdo for introducing us to the magnificent Kate
14. Believe by Josh Groban - I know these are the worst lyrics ever (I used to have my English students write a paper on this), but I still love the music, his voice, and the feeling the song creates.  It feels like Christmas to me.
14. O Little Town of Bethlehem by Sarah Mclachlan - let's just reflect on these words versus the song prior...maybe we should write a paper about it?
15. Grown Up Christmas List by Amy Grant - Christmas staple in our house - I could just play all of Amy Grant's Christmas albums one after the other and be happy.
16. Here With Us by Joy Williams - this may be my favorite non-Christmas carol song ever.
17. Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice - or maybe this one
18. I Need a Silent Night by Amy Grant - this song sums up my Christmas conundrum.
19. O Come O Come Emmanuel by Selah - haunting, gives me chills
20. Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Amy Grant - this is my favorite Christmas carol; the lyrics are so rich!
21. I heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crown - "anointed" according to my mom-in-law - SO glad she introduced me to this song - thanks Mia!
23. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland - love me some Meet Me in St. Louis
24. Come and Worship (Angels from the Realms of Glory) by Bebo Norman - OK this might be my absolute favorite Christmas song/carol - can't get through it without crying. Love it!
25. Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy) by Chris Tomlin - have to end with this one - love this rendition so much!  Might shed a tear for this one too. :)

*Christmas Must Be Something More by Taylor Swift - inspired no doubt by one of my very favorite Christmas Stories (post on that coming very soon!)
*A Strange Way to Save the World by 4Him - here's some 90s goodness for you (don't miss the mullet!) - can't believe I forgot my Mom's favorite Christmas Song!
A few other honorable mentions because I just can't resist!: Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant, Carol of the Bells by Barlow Girl (though the Home Alone version is my preferred), Joseph's Lullaby by Mercy Me, and O Holy Night by David Archuleta (remember that guy?!). Ok, I have to stop of this list will be never ending! Leave a comment if I left off your favorite - I'd love to listen to it!

Tomorrow's topic (and it's a controversial one): The Elf on the Shelf.  To do it or not to do it...that is the question.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

True Heart

My sister-in-law, Susannah, writes a blog over at susannahbaker.com, and she did her most recent post on us.  Click here if you want to read it.

Otherwise, here are a few photos to show what we've been up to lately:


visiting the Botanic Garden's apple festival

snuggling under the blanket Meme mailed to us from Hawaii!

wearing our coat inside (and Mommy or Daddy's shoes)

playing in the family band

dressing up

handing our candy to our neighbors as they trick-or-treated


shopping at Costco


"riding" bikes

more snuggling

more shopping at Costco (and no, I didn't buy these much to their dismay!:))

sightseeing at Rosslyn Chapel (filmed in the DaVinci Code)

hanging out with Tutu

reading Avery's favorite book.
and over,
and over...

trying unsuccessfully to turn nap time into rest time

more scooting

making fun hairdos during meal time (and more coloring!)
visiting St. Giles Cathedral

drinking a pumpkin spice latte out of my first Starbucks Red Cup

It's been a long and exhausting week, but we were thankful to get to remember William as we buried him on Wednesday.  It was a sweet service and many of our faithful church family members attended. We have been so blessed by their support and care during this time.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers for us - we continue to feel the Lord's grace.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our Boy

As most of you know, we found out that we lost our baby on October 9th at our mid-point ultrasound.  I was almost 18 weeks along.

As we were in the hospital doing this for the second time, Taylor and I reminisced back to our first loss in 2009. It was so different than this time.  We had no idea anything was wrong with Tristan only that at the ultrasound where we thought we were finding out she was a girl, we were finding out she had gone to be with Jesus.  It was a total shock, a gut check.  Our grief was acute.  I wrestled night after night with what I could've have done to cause this until we received her autopsy results.  Relief filled me when the results came back that a chromosomal issue was the culprit not me, but now our grief was not only over our lost child, but of the possibility of no children at all.  The Lord rocked me to my core during this time, carving out deep places of trust and dependence on Him where there had been independence and self-focus.  Taylor wrote a poem describing the Lord's work in our lives through our loss:

As water seeps into the fissures in the rock
and hardens into ice when freezing weather comes,
splitting stone and leaving space behind,
so has the grace of God this year filled
the shallow places of our souls,
hardening and cracking,
then leaving deeper pools behind
to hold His grace when He is done.

The Lord had replaced levity with gravitas.  Losing our daughter to Heaven, made us feel more solid on earth.  He gave us purpose in a time we teetered on the edge of despair.  And His mercy was new for us each morning. If that scripture wasn't true, I wouldn't have been able to get out of bed each day. But He was with me.

This time we were able to grieve over time knowing at 11 weeks our baby was sick and unlikely to make it to term. We prayed for a miracle, and marveled over the two miracles the Lord had already given us.

Photo by Strauss House Photography

Photo by Hunter Lawrence

The Lord prepared us for the loss through the prayers of three year old Seth who at first fervently prayed for his sibling's healing, and then refused to two days before our ultrasound saying, "No. I don't need to pray.  Our baby is well.  Jesus' blood is on him."

Out of the mouths of babes.

Friday, October 11th I went alone to the hospital to take my first induction drug.  The kids were being watched by a friend, Taylor had a meeting with his supervisor, and my mom was flying over the Atlantic.  I didn't worry about going by myself because I knew it had to be done; I knew Taylor needed me to be strong, so he could tie up loose ends, so that he could be fully present once I went into labor two days later. But as I walked alone across the parking lot, the loneliness hit me, and despair tried to take grip, but just as quickly my mind flooded with  surely I am with you always.  He was still with me.

Seth has been dealing with fear lately and so our latest scripture memory verse has been Joshua 1:9 and I have been so struck with the reality of the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Ours has been a hard journey these seven years, but He's always walked alongside us.  Oh had we known the significance of the song we chose to herald the beginning of our wedding ceremony seven years ago. It rang true when we chose it, and we know it even better today.

A few days ago, we found out that our baby was a boy.  This is what we suspected the whole pregnancy, so it was nice having that confirmed, and being able to name him.

From our first ultrasound I wanted to name him William for various reasons.  I was looking for a name that meant "determination" because I knew that if he was born with a handicap, that would be meaningful.  We also wanted a name that was Scottish.  So William means "will or determination" and well, you know that slightly famous Scottish guy, William Wallace...so William it was from around week twelve.  As for his middle name, if you know me well, you know my silly fascination with names and monograms.  I liked the idea that his monogram could spell "WIL," so we started thinking about names that started with "L."  I really liked Luke from the start because it means "light."  Taylor preferred Lachlan (pronounced Locklin) because it was a Scottish name we had come across early in our time here in Edinburgh that we both really liked but felt we couldn't use because it would be too difficult once we lived away from Scotland.  So since our baby is going to be buried in Scotland, we thought it appropriate to go with a thoroughly Scottish name, so Baby Ince # 4 is now officially William Lachlan Ince.  We will bury him Wednesday where we'll grieve and celebrate our boy's short but significant life.

In Memory of

William Lachlan Ince
son of Robin and Taylor 
brother of Tristan Joy, Seth, and Avery
October 13, 2013
Edinburgh, Scotland

Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

We look forward to a glorious reunion one day and smile knowing that William and his big sister, Tristan Joy are playing together at the feet of Jesus.

Photo taken in August when William was still with us
Photo by Hunter Lawrence